Consistent

BY : RandomJaz
Category: +S through Z > South Park
Dragon prints: 7362
Disclaimer: I do not own South Park or any of it's characters, nor do I profit from this fanfiction.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: *Busts down your door wearing my black leather pants and jacket*

I'm back, baby bats! *Dancing* Y'ALL READY FOR THIS?!

(You can't hear it, but I'm squeaking as I dance because of the fucking leather. My friends like to call this move: "Jaz back on their bullshit" LMFAO.)

ALSO: Thank you so much to everyone who has reviewed along the way. I post to a few different sites, but my Archive of Our Own readers have been especially generous. To everyone who has ever left me a review on any platform, I need you to know how much it has meant to me this past year.

(The song referenced in this chapter is "Still in time" by Neuropa.)

xxxxx

Leaving Michael alone for the night wasn't an option. I couldn't do it; I didn't want to do it. As much as I would have liked to spend the night with someone else, right now Michael needed me more than they did.

I curled up in the old arm chair by his bookshelf. Michael laid dead to the world and heavily sedated by his own actions. I'm sure that his parents must've had an air bed, futon, or sleeping bag of some sort. But I didn't want to run the risk of them finding Michael heavily passed out so early in the evening. They'd quickly learn something went wrong.

With Michael's music turned down to a reasonable and ambient volume, they took his absence for the rest of the night to be a good sign that he'd calmed down from whatever angsty episode they assumed he was going through. They didn't see or hear me leave, so they just let us be.

I turned off the lights in his room, except for the desk lamp in case he woke up disorientated. Michael's stereo quietly played, sanding down the sharp pins this silence left me on. In his otherwise silent room, I fell asleep almost confident that Michael wouldn't greet the world again until morning.

The sound of something falling emerged before sunrise.

"Michael?" I lifted my head.

On the floor, he weakly grasped for his mattress and tried pulling himself up. From this side of the room all I saw were chipped black nails clawing the sheets and trembling boney fingers.

"Michael, stay there." I uncurled myself off the chair, getting up to help him. "I'll come to you."

"I need water..." He croaked.

He could spit dust if he tried. Sitting him up in bed, I left to get him a drink. I held the glass steady for him and he downed it.

I always, and only, saw him drink coffee. Seeing him so desperate for water, I pictured his organs were shriveled and gray. In a way, I felt like I was watering him back to life.

"Better?"

Michael panted once the glass was empty, finally coming back up for air. His chin was wet with what little water hadn't made it in to his mouth.

"They gave me Oxycodone when I got my wisdom teeth removed." I dabbed it away. "Stuff dries out your mouth."

"I physically couldn't swallow. Woke up feeling like I was choking."

"You were probably breathing with your mouth open. That'll do it, too."

He didn't need to outwardly say it, but Michael wished he hadn't messed with his mom's medication. He slouched forward struggling to hold up his own body weight. I knew the feeling

"Are you sure you don't want to go to the hospital?"

"For what? I didn't take enough for them to pump my stomach."

I stepped in closer so he could rest his face in my chest. Michael held my upper arms to steady himself, but wound up just letting me support his body weight. He could barely hold me, his grip was weak.

Through Mike's eyes, this must've been what I looked like to him Halloween Night. Sad, defenseless, and in desperate need of supervision.

"The E.R could give you activated charcoal." I suggested "It'll absorb the drugs."

"Don't you have to shit that stuff out?"

Michael said it so blunt and to the point.

"That's how it works." I withheld a chuckle. "Yeah."

"I'd rather wait this out."

"Let me know if you need anything."

I laid Michael on his side, cautioning him not to get up alone or he'd end up on the floor again.

"I'd pick you up." I promised. "But I don't want you to fall."

"Where are you going?" Michael managed to grab my hand before I could leave him to sleep.

"I was over there." I pointed towards his reading spot in the corner of the room. "Don't worry, I'll hear you if you call."

Michael pulled my hand with what little strength he could muster.

"You don't have to sleep on the chair. There's room for you."

I'd chosen the chair before as a means to not cross boundaries in this delicate situation. I didn't want to impose and invite myself in to his bed. With his insistence, I laid down. This was a lot easier on my back and neck.

Back-to-back with him, we listened to the stereo.

From my side of the bed, I could see his bathroom. The door left open showed the tub and the edge of the sink. In my mind, I could see two battered children there.

I could smell the blood being wiped away. I could hear a gravelly voice aged beyond its years. It belonged to a boy who saved me.

The one who loved me the only way he knew how all this time. A boy who lived his life in the dark, and made me the light at the end of his tunnel.

I'm glad I met him. He was still here.

I rolled over to hug Michael, holding him in a snug embrace. He was so much taller; it must've looked awkward with me being the big spoon.

"Why were you in the chair?"

"I upset you today. I didn't want to be rude and just make myself at home after doing that."

"I've been waiting forever for you to make yourself at home."

Holding on to all my fading memories.

Back to where it all began.

So much there I understand.

As I look now

To a distant far away,

I will cross familiar lines.

Now, I'm standing still in time.

Still in time.

Still in time.

Still in time.

Still in time.

I was the only person who could do this for him. Had another soul ever tried, they would've gotten the nastiest snarl they'd ever hear. Their touch would have been no different than an assault. With so little trust, Michael walled out everyone.

"You're going to be okay, you know."

"Life isn't a storybook." He insisted.

"It doesn't have to be…Bad things happen to good people. Life is about happy moments, not happy endings."

With the embrace, I enveloped his scrawny body with a warmth he didn't remember. He lost so much weight, all I felt were his bones. Sharp and soured, they seemed brittle to the touch.

They couldn't be all that weak. They were his armor and it took a beating. What was left of him protected his atrophied heart. A little too well.

I held Michael tighter. He needed the touch. He sobbed.

His ghoulish mask shattered. Eight years later, I finally met the boy behind it. And, he was in need of some tender loving care.

The calcified soot encasing Michael for so long washed away with his own tears. The dusty stone gargoyle, he came to life at last. He took his first breath, and together we felt the world come to a merciful still.

Come morning, he'd get his first true taste of daylight. Somewhere in the sky, the sun was waiting to meet him. For now, the cleansing waters rained.

Search the heavens.

For a faint and lonely star.

I will walk the long way home.

And, yet it doesn't seem so far.

Now, I wonder.

If this dream is only mine.

And, I'll question this myself.

For I'm standing still in time.

Still in time.

Still in time.

Still in time.

Still in time.

xxxxxx

After the scene that had unfolded, I didn't feel so invisible anymore. I got the sidelong glances. Heard the gossip. The rumor going around was I cheated on Michael with Mike, or vice versa.

What a way to spend the last week of school- as gossip fodder. I went years under the radar as just another face in the crowd without a name. Everyone would soon forget me, again. We were taking finals. Graduation was coming.

The last day of school, I became old news to the student body. We all got our grades and everyone who was leaving this hell hole with a diploma had better things to talk about.

Clyde passed his classes and got all the credits he needed to graduate without Summer school. Which most didn't think was going to happen.

"I passed." Clyde smugly slapped his report card in Craig's face.

Literally.

Mike almost swallowed his gum.

"Who'd you have to get off for that to happen?" Craig snatched the paper.

Mike made the mistake of looking me in the face. He went and got a tissue to throw out his gum after nearly swallowing it a second time.

When he came back, he was failing miserably at keeping a straight face. But, he hadn't laughed. I nonchalantly took a sip from my coffee, cleaning out my binder and backpack for the last time this year pretending I couldn't hear any of this.

"I got a tutor, idiot." Clyde took his report card back.

"You beat their cheeks like a drum, didn't you?"

I nearly spit out my coffee, clapping a hand over my mouth. Clyde's group heard the sputter and all turned at once.

"...you good?" Craig asked.

"Yeah." I forced myself to swallow.

"Sounded like you were going to spit that across the room."

"Spitters are quitters. Don't worry about it."

How Mike didn't lose it and fall out of his chair was impressive. The guy was a master of many skills. Spitting not being one of his. Or, mine. Clyde hadn't given either of us the chance to show that.

The guy had been so worked up after Mike's sensual display, and our bodies so close. He was starving to jump right in. And, we let him.

Clyde's mind was getting the best of him now. I could tell. With my next sip of coffee, his stare lingered where my lips met the straw. It was only a second- but in that second, I recognized the spark of interest I'd been up close and personal with behind a closed door.

"Did you want some?" I rattled the ice.

"...I don't drink coffee." Clyde excused as casually as he could. "Was just thinking I should stop at Dunks after school."

"Yeah?" I put my lips back on the straw for my next sip. "Me too."

With that, he turned back around.

"His ears are pink." Mike leaned in to whisper.

When the bell rang and everyone got up to file out, our teacher pulled Clyde aside to congratulate him on a year well saved.

"Good luck in college." Mr. Stuart told him. "You can do it."

Clyde went to leave at the same time we did. He stopped to let us go first.

"What a gentleman." Mike praised.

"The least I could do, after-" Clyde started, pausing for a sec like he had to redirect his train of thought. "Uh, Pete helping me."

"He certainly did help you, didn't he?"

Mike tapped his nails between Clyde's pectorals, strolling by.

"Such a good boy." He winked.

Clyde got flustered, but played it off with a casual grin.

"Thanks, Jock Strap." I went next, tossing my empty coffee cup on the way out.

"No, problem. I have your back."

Mike snickered like a naughty little kid.

"You do, don't you?"

Going on our way, I regretted not having made my own iced coffee that morning. I could have filled my thermos and had twice as a much for the day. Instead, I plowed through the one I bought on the way to school.

"You had a large, Pete."

"Half the cup is ice." I defended. "And a fourth of its cream. I could easily drink another one."

"Like I even doubt it."

We did wind up going to Dunks after school. As did Clyde. He walked past the front of Mike's car, eyes down on his phone. Mike leaned on his horn, making the jock jump before he could get to the door.

"Do you want me to have a heart attack?"

"No. I like to keep the blood pumping." Mike drank some strawberry coolata, glittery eyes fluttering. "You know that."

"That a vampire joke?"

"Nope~"

Clyde went inside to place his order.

"Notice how he didn't use the drive-thru." Mike pointed out. "He was hoping we'd be in there."

"For once, I believe you."

"Wanna mess with him?"

"Gotta kick off Summer Vacation somehow."

Coming out with his usual, Clyde obediently came up to the driver side window upon Mike's beckoning.

"Are you busy later?"

"No." Clyde answered far too quickly.

"Party at my house later. Interested?"

Xxxxx

"You said we were messing with Clyde." Standing before Mike's silver mirror, I stared back at myself. "How does this qualify?"

In his tiny leather shorts, Mike donned a sleeveless sheer shirt tucked in and secured with a shiny studded belt. He had stiletto boots, and a fresh acrylic manicure. A leather vest.

In my hands were silky black shorts. On the floor, still in a box, were big bold knee-high platform boots. In my size. And, buckled leather braces for my biceps.

Mike held a fishnet shirt still on its hanger across my chest.

"This is going to look amazing with your piercings and choker." Mike reasoned. "And, those boots are going to tie it all together."

He smoldered me a confident gaze, meeting my eyes in the mirror.

"We're going to make that boy drool. Then we're bringing him to his knees."

"I'm not so sure about this."

"It's all harmless fun. Just once, you don't want the power?"

"..."

I remembered that day on my couch. How quickly Clyde backed down when I got in his face. He shrunk in a flash. Looking back, it felt good to put the towering guy in his place after the countless aggravations.

Mike's near Cheshire grin told me he was thinking the same thing I was.

"You've had the upper hand before." He said. "You could certainly do it, again."

I changed clothes, putting on Mike's chosen outfit for me: Pulled on the shorts, slipped on the shirt. Laced up the boots, and buckled each brace.

He took a liquid eyeliner pen, drawing sharp inky black wings. Capping the pen, he picked up an eyeshadow pallet next.

"Just a touch of red." He dipped a brush in crimson powder. "Eyes closed."

Rimming my eyes with red, he then lightly blended some black shadow along my lash line. When I opened my eyes again, Mike stepped back.

"Look at yourself."

Faced with my own reflection once again, I didn't look straight at it. I took a step closer as Mike urged in me in. With a hand on each hip, he straightened my posture. A hand on each shoulder, he pulled my shoulders back.

"Look." He urged, firmer this time. "Don't take yourself so seriously."

I don't know why I was so scared of my own reflection. Facing myself, I then got hit with the horrifying dream I had months ago.

My own animated corpse had taunted me. He watched me bleed, apathetic to my panic. I pled for my life and he told me goodbye. Smashed my face through the glass.

Then I woke up here. With Mike.

I'd been a walking corpse all along until he came in. The day I hung myself from the ceiling fan, I survived. But, a part of me did die.

It took Mike's warm breath on my neck to realize I was very much alive in every sense of the word now. That corpse laid himself to rest a while ago. He quietly showed himself out.

I could finally see a different person staring back at me. Mike recognized him all along. I don't think he ever saw the corpse.

He only saw glass walls. They were gone. I stood on the shards. Otherwise, I wouldn't even be in this situation. I wouldn't have let Mike get this close, or entertained any of this.

"What do you think?"

I wasn't answering. Or, moving.

"Pete?" Mike asked.

"...you were right." I told him.

"About?"

"Everything all along."

We steadily looked at one another through the mirror.

"You knew me better than I gave you credit for... then Clyde's crush. And, Stan and Michael." I listed. "You said they loved me. It's real. It was always real and I didn't believe them."

It didn't come spilling out. I calmly stated the facts. Inside it was overwhelming. Everything I thought to be bullshit for so long was real.

"You didn't have reason to believe them before." Mike wasn't sure where I was going with this, but he followed along. "How could you? It wasn't your fault."

In an uncharacteristic show of unease, Mike frowned. We both dreaded what the other may say next. We'd never had this happen.

"Looking back, I don't think anyone's to blame." I decided. "We all had something we weren't dealing with. No one hurt anyone intentionally...we just hurt each other a lot."

"You all did what you had to do to survive. That's over now."

"And, I don't know what to do with that."

"You live."

After survival comes living. He was right. Though, that transition wouldn't be seamless. Living meant facing the world, not bracing for it.

I stood with Mike feeling some type of anxious I couldn't explain. Mike went to kiss me and I flinched.

"Baby bat." He whispered, taken back by it.

It was the first time I saw hurt waver over his face.

"...I don't feel like I deserve you." I confessed, though it wasn't what I meant to come out of my mouth. "Or, anyone. But, especially not you."

"Why would you say that?"

"I have my reasons…Mike, I can't do this."

Devastation welled up in his eyes as I reached back to unclip the choker he'd gifted me. He was bracing for a goodbye. A sudden, unwarned goodbye.

"You're entirely worthy of love, Pete." He said it with a tear. "Whoever's you choose."

He hadn't braced himself for the marred skin. Mike's teary eyes widened upon seeing my neck.

"I haven't been honest with you."

"...is that...oh my god, what is that?"

He inspected it, touching the permanent ring around my neck.

"What did your dad do to you?"

"I did it."

"With what?" He asked, floored.

"With a noose."

There was that horror overcoming his face that I expected. Only worse than I imagined. Mike was distraught.

"When did you do this?"

"Last year. From my ceiling fan."

"Oh, baby bat. Why?"

Mike didn't hesitate to touch it. He lightly traced along the blemish, cautious as if the wound were still fresh.

This giant atom bomb sat right under his nose this whole time, under a strip of ribbon and lace dressed up nice and pretty- and he never once thought to check under it.

There was no reason for him to. And, he kicked himself for it.

"V-Valentine's Day. Stan was with Wendy." I struggled to keep my voice even. "He promised me he wouldn't do that... I just needed to come first for once. I didn't know how to tell him."

I dabbed one eye with the back of my hand, mindful of the make-up Mike applied.

"He always put me second because he had to. Michael's always said Stan never cared about me." I was suffocating on this story, shrinking under my own pitying gaze and Mike's. "I didn't think anyone cared. That day, I really believed it."

I'd been willing to die with it. I didn't see any other option.

"You must've felt so alone, Pete."

"I don't want to ever feel that way, again- Like love isn't real. It is real." I came to accept it. "It was always real. Especially Michael's. He walked in on me hanging there and saved me."

I held Mike's choker down at my waist, touching the rose piece with my thumbs. He stared back at me with such seriousness behind those puddled eyes.

"...Are you flying away little bat?" He asked.

"If you want me to." I choked up, on the verge of losing it. "I'd understand."

With the same tenderness he'd always shown me, Mike laid his lips on my neck kissing the pinkish-red ring.

"I don't want you to go anywhere. I'm so glad you're still here, Pete."

"I am, too."

Mike held the choker to my neck without clipping it in to place.

"I love my baby bat." He moved the accessory down, bringing the scar back in to sight. "This doesn't change that."

"I know." I smiled through the tears. "I love you, too."

xxxxx

Additional Author's Note: No, this isn't the last chapter. Wanted to clarify that just in case.



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