Sleepless nights were not a new concept to Cartman. There were countless nights where he lie awake, contemplating the prospects of his life, and each night the stars still shined like gems compared to the muddy darks of the sunless sky. An array of gloomy thoughts seemed to be weighing heavily on his chest, his face contorting as his muddled emotions stampeded through his mind like wild horses.
He hastily glanced to his right to see Kyle sitting on the floor, a warm teacup in his right hand while his left played with the pages of the latest novel he was reading. His legs were crossed overtop of each other, back arched forward as he leaned unceremoniously over his book. His outfit was casual, a vibrant orange bomber jacket that rested over his slim body, too big for him in retrospect, but endearing regardless. It was paired with a pair of pine green skinny jeans that hugged him in all the right places, and a pair of maroon sneakers that signified his lack of fashion-based knowledge. But he seemingly pulled it off effortlessly, in a sort of street chic way.
But the outfit itself would mean nothing without the boy wearing it, and what a boy he honestly was. Scarlet coils hung from atop his head, bouncy and soft that framed his angular face. There was also a delicate line of freckles that had accompanied his pale skin, running like a stream over the bridge of his nose that tapered off to overlay atop his sharp cheekbones.
Everything about him was faded, and he wasn’t completely visible to the eyes, as fragments of his thin, yet toned body were translucent. Yet, it seemed to glow with a calm golden warmth like fallen rays from the sun. From his fingertips to his knuckles, and from his toes to the soles of his feet, the colours of his skin faded out to blend softly into the warm air around him.
In the eyes of Cartman, Kyle was truly a sight to behold. He thought him to be absolutely ethereal, beauty matched only by the elegance of some ancient deity.
Sometimes he felt like he didn’t deserve Kyle, with all his beauty and his grace. Kyle was something out of an art museum, like the soft and wise looking people of old who were painted lovingly by the careful hand of a master of his craft. Maybe Cartman himself was a painter, seeing as Kyle was his creation; crafted to be his perfect companion, a fictional friend where his actual friends had failed. Perhaps he’d made Kyle a little too flawless, because Cartman felt like, while he wasn’t ugly, he certainly couldn’t hold a candle to Kyle’s perfection. Sometimes he felt like he wasn’t worthy of him - worthy of being with him, or even looking at him.
And with all the beauty he saw, he knew he could never amount to anything nearly as divine.
For as strange as it may have sounded, Cartman was in love with him. There was not a single soul that could compare to his Kyle, and that truthfully scared him. Maybe it was the lack of affection within his own life that had made him become so quickly attached. Many of his own friends did not care for him very much, and only tolerated his antics as to avoid his explosive anger. In a way, his own mother seemed to regard him in a similar manner, like a burden that she couldn’t shake off. Perhaps he was a burden to those around him, a worthless nuisance that brought suffering upon others. But Kyle never thought of him in that way, he had always treated him as an equal, like he wasn’t forced to spend time with him.
With Kyle serving as his partner, he didn’t feel so lonely, but he still felt that bleary emptiness in his chest whenever he thought about it. Each day he grew older he became more aware of himself and the world around him, and he knew that he needed to grow up eventually. In retrospect, he should have grown out of Kyle when he had entered the first grade, yet with each grade he progressed he only seemed to become more immersed with him. He needed to move on, no matter how difficult it was.
He had been putting it off for some time now, knowing fully well of the emotional damage it may cause him. Sometimes he had wondered if it would have been easier on him if Kyle was never created at all, but he always dismissed that idea, knowing that in the end he would still be alone. Today, he needed to move on, or else he would be stuck in a painful loop of madness. It was time to put his foot down, to put an end to something that only fueled his wildest fantasies.
Taking in a deep breath, he forced himself to speak.
"Kahl, why won't you leave? I don't need you anymore."
Kyle's head snapped up in shock, barely registering the words spoken in a low whisper that came from the brunette. He felt his chest stall, and he stared up in shock at the boy lying underneath pale sheets. The house creaked innocently amongst the two of them, and Kyle realized there was no smile, no smirk on his face to imply that he was joking in any way. There was utter silence between the two of them, as if the house itself was lifeless, even though the two of them existed in tandem.
"What do you mean? I've always been here for you." Kyle twirled a lock of his hair around his finger aimlessly as he awaited Cartman’s imminent response. He felt his mind race as the silence in the room became suffocating, like it was smaller than it truly was.
Those ten words had made Kyle’s chest stop, his thoughts becoming something similar to a tangled ball of yarn. The sheer coldness of those words made him shiver, and in that moment, he knew something was so very wrong.
Cartman didn't move, only letting out a sigh of subtle dejection before turning his body to stare at the ginger sitting alone on the carpeted floor. The room was mostly dark, the only light filtering in from between the open slit in the curtains. Chocolate eyes reflected the gentle moonlight strikingly, yet his lips were drawn into a small frown. "That's the problem. You're not really there; you're fake, made up. You're not a real person, Kahl. You never were!"
Kyle grimaced, and glared at him with a seemingly dangerous intent.
To put it simply, Kyle knew that he wasn’t real, his living being only a figment of Cartman’s psychosis. He was a substitute, an actor made to fill many different roles at once. He was made up of lies that never came to light, yet he was also an individual, developing his own sort of conscious and free thinking. He always felt as if he were alive, and in his heart he knew that in some distant reality he truly was.
"So? That was never a problem before, why is that so important now?" Kyle hissed at him. Cartman's expression shifted as he sat up, the grungy blue blanket once covering his soft chest falling limply onto his lap.
"Because!" he shrieked as he pointed his chubby finger accusingly at Kyle. "You've been lying to me for years!"
Kyle stood up slowly, and glowered down at Cartman's fat body. He felt his hands continuously clench and unclench in rapid succession as his throat went dry from anger. Kyle's body felt stiff as he made eye contact with the accusatory brunette in front of him, and he hated it. Cartman's body shifted in discomfort as he felt striking emerald eyes pierce his being, as if they were looking into his very soul.
"Me? You're calling me a liar?" Kyle's voice raised with each word he spoke. "How pathetic of you, pointing the blame at me. It was you, all you. You created me in an act of selfishness. You've been lying to yourself all these years, yet you think you can pin the blame on me? You're horrible, a disgrace! I have been there for you when nobody else was, and yet you do this to me. Why? Why do you regret your own creation so much? You're a monster, a fucking monster! I hate you, I FUCKING HATE YOU!"
Kyle didn't notice the tears rolling down his cheeks until he stopped screaming. The only sound left in the room was his angered sobs as he felt his resolve crumbling away. Cartman sat silently on his bed, hands gripping tightly against his pajama pants as he clenched his own eyes shut.
"Leave, please. I can't stand you anymore," Cartman whispered, body shaking as he felt the onslaught of upcoming tears in his own eyes.
Kyle cursed underneath his breath, cheeks splotched red with anger. His world was crumbling apart, his self restraint weakening while his anger only grew. Kyle turned abruptly, and gazed into the mirror that was propped up aimlessly against the wall behind him.
He had no reflection nestled within the smooth surface, his own appearance like a foreign thought from his imagination. Like a ghost living amongst men, he was invisible to all but one, and the only person who knew about his existence regretted it - and he hated himself for it.
Kyle never understood why he couldn't be alive. He felt real to himself, and had been real to Eric for as long as he thought of him as so. But, he truly knew why he could never exist within any reality. He was fake, just like Eric had told him. He had no substance to his being. He was created out of disdain and hatred towards others, only needed because there was nobody else who could understand Eric like he did. He could never be real; there was no meaning to his existence other than to serve as a substitute.
"Then wish me away," Kyle provoked menacingly, the tension in the room rising with each passing second of time. "You brought me into this miserable world, you can bring me out of it.”
The tears finally begun to overflow and Cartman had began to sob softly, choking on his own words as he tried to form a comprehensible sentence. His expression was broken, his body was hunched over as he clawed at his own face in sorrow.
"I ca-can't! I can't do it, Kahl!" he wailed, voice cracking with each word that left his mouth. Kyle's hands fell limp at his sides as he watched the pitiful sight in front of him. There was pain behind his words, and melancholy in his eyes.
Kyle couldn't stand to look at him, and he turned his head back to gaze at the mirror, only to be met with the same depressing sight as before. He didn't want to see this, he truly didn't. All he saw was a fragile boy, tainted by the poison of the life in which he lived.
"What's stopping you? You want me gone, yet you won't wish me away." Kyle's voice was stoic, void of any sort of tangible emotion.
Cartman wheezed, breathing heavily laboured and sporadic. He hesitated, fat tears rolling down his glowing cheeks as he wheezed in a futile attempt to regain his composure. Cartman opened his mouth repeatedly, and spoke in a desperate breath. "Because... I, because. I, I love you, Kahl."
Everything froze in Kyle's mind. His own form wavering in its weak existence as he tried to wrap his head around the simple concept. Time stopped, the world stuck in place as the true meaning behind Eric's sorrow came crashing down on him full force.
Kyle was by no means an idiot, but when those few words left Eric’s mouth, his entire perception of their relationship fell apart. In his heart, he had always loved Eric, but never before had the words ‘I love you’ been said out loud between them. Kyle had resigned himself to being a silent admirer, never allowing himself to voice his honest feelings. So it came as a shock to him when those words had been shared amongst them, and his heart swelled in his chest with a fiery hope that had temporarily consumed him, before he began to fall apart.
Cartman spoke again, voice thick with sorrow, his chubby hands pressed together in mock prayer as he pleaded. "I love you, Kahl, but I can't be with you. You're not real, and I can't move on if you're still here."
Kyle fell to his knees as he keeled over, a ghostly hand covering his gut as his abdomen curled. He had anticipated this exact conversation before, but nothing had prepared him for the way the room became dominated with a profound sense of anxiety. A single bead of sweat dripped down his forehead.
"Why? Why me? Of all people, you chose me, yet you knew. You knew it could never work, and you still chose me. Why?" Kyle felt sick. Of course he loved Eric. He loved him so, so much, but he had always known he could never have him. His heart ached and his body burned. He could never have him - he was never meant to.
Cartman hopped off his bed, and took a tentative step towards Kyle, who was keeled over on the ground helplessly. Again, the anger was rising within him, and it carried over into his voice as he yelled "I didn't mean for it to happen, you asshole! If I had known from the beginning, I never would have created you, and if I could get rid of you, I would. I would have done it a long time ago.”
Kyle bared his teeth and let out a primal growl, like a wild animal caught in a trap. His heart felt heavy with grief, but his body burned with unsatisfiable anger as he became acutely aware of the situation he was trapped in. It was truly pitiful, and he had no feelings to describe the unbridled rage that coursed through his veins.
“Then why didn’t you, you fucking coward? ‘Cause I’m your only friend and you’re too pathetic to be alone? If you wanted to do it so bad, then why not?” Kyle shrieked, every word crawling out of his throat like poison. He looked up at Cartman, who stood timidly in front of him, hands drawn defensively in front of himself. “There’s nobody who will be there for you like I have. Stan and Kenny? Do you think they truly care for you like I do? Because I can assure you that you’re absolutely psychotic if you believe that at all.”
“That’s not true! They care, they do care about me!” Cartman whimpered, but Kyle snorted in response.
“They care about you just as much as your father does. And where is he? Do you believe that he cares about you too?” Kyle sneered, and Cartman gasped softly. His puffy eyes were blown wide open, cheeks splotched red, like blaring watercolour on a white canvas. For once in his life, he was silent. The part of his life that he regretted most had been thrown back into his own face, and it caught him when he was weak.
Cartman looked down at his own feet before collapsing, the full weight of Kyle’s anger weighing down on him, and it felt like he was being crushed. Kyle became paralyzed in shock, as he realized the true impact of his words. Anxiety swam in his stomach as he watched the normally even-tempered boy fall apart in front of his own eyes. Cartman wailed, his body shaking and convulsing sporadically. Kyle’s mouth ran dry as he reached out to Eric, pale hands quivering in the gentle moonlight. He placed a single ghostly finger against his smooth cheek, and gently wiped away his rolling tears.
Eric wasn’t unaccustomed to Kyle’s tender touches, and they had always sent pleasant sparks throughout his body. Although, only Eric was able to feel the warmth that emitted from Kyle’s body, like tender kisses from a hot fire. Sometimes Eric was glad that Kyle was tangible only to him, for he would never have the risk of losing him to another. Personally, he wouldn’t call himself possessive, but the thought of Kyle with another made his blood boil like scorching lava.
“Eric, please stop crying,” Kyle begged softly, before tightly embracing him in his arms. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. Please, don’t cry.”
Cartman buried his face into Kyle’s shoulder and gripped his orange coat with balled fists. Salty tears began to stain their clothes as the duo sat in silence on the floor. Neither boy spoke for the time being, and Kyle quietly listened to Cartman’s frequent sniffling and sobbing. He knew what he said had hurt. He’d have to work hard to take it back, and to show that he hadn’t meant a word of it. Sometimes Kyle felt like a bomb; he was afraid of his own emotions for it was too easy for him to explode with rage.
Both Kyle and Eric kept their arms interlocked before Kyle looked down at him, and whispered in a hoarse voice, “Come on, let’s get you back into bed.”
Cartman sniffled quietly as he allowed Kyle to pull the two of them to their feet and lead him back to the comfort of his own bed. Cartman let himself flop onto the bed haphazardly, burying his tear-streaked face into the plush pillows. Kyle laid down next to him, and pulled the worn blanket over them.
Cartman remained silent for a moment longer, before turning his head to look at Kyle through glassy eyes and spoke softly. “Kahl, I can’t keep you here anymore.”
Kyle sighed. He knew that he couldn’t be by Eric’s side forever, but it still stung to hear those words. For over six years, he had been his best friend; the only person who truly understood what was going on in Eric’s mind. He could see what was hurting him, what was changing him, and only he could.
“I know, Eric,” Kyle finally spoke, wrapping his arms around Cartman's soft torso. “Just let me lie by your side awhile longer.”
Cartman nestled his head into Kyle’s collarbone, and pulled his body close. They were content to be in each others’ arms, holding each other close, and Kyle didn’t want to let go.
After a moment of quiet bliss, Cartman whispered under his breath a soft, “I’m sorry.”
“For falling in love.” Kyle held his breath as he listened to Cartman speak. “I didn’t mean to get attached to you.”
Cartman let out a small huff and rolled his eyes, as if he expected Kyle to already know this like the back of his hand. Although, he shouldn’t have expected much, since Kyle’s hands were nearly translucent, his fingers only visible when they caught the thin streams of moonlight that shined through the window. Kyle’s expression had softened as he ran a hand through Eric’s hair, before resting it against his hip bone to rub small circles against his clothed skin.
The atmosphere seemed to have changed drastically, as had Eric’s mood, and it put the both of them at ease.
“Eric, it’s getting late. You should get some sleep, you have school in the morning,” Kyle chided as he glanced at the alarm clock facing them from atop the mahogany dresser.
Cartman snorted in subtle amusement, but remained peacefully still in his arms. Kyle was waiting, each minute on the clock like another stab at his dwindling sanity.
“Kahl, I love you,” Cartman yawned, continuing to lull himself further into unconsciousness.
“I love you too, Eric,” Kyle whispered, as if he were afraid to hear himself speak. He pressed a chaste kiss to Eric’s cheek, keeping his arms wrapped securely around his body. It was strange, like a foreign act he should be punished for - and maybe he was being punished. The universe had pushed them together, only to tear them apart, just like the twisted tale of Romeo and Juliet.
Eric pressed his face further into Kyle’s collarbone, eyes shut gently and face serene in a way it rarely was when he was awake. His consciousness ebbed away as his muscles relaxed in tune with his breathing. It felt like his body was being dragged into the comfort of peaceful oblivion, and he allowed it to happen. After a few more moments of peace, his body went limp, with Kyle cradling him against his chest.
There was no response, only the dull sound of Eric’s light snoring. It was finally his time. Kyle closed his eyes, and allowed himself to bask in the warmth for a few moments longer.
Kyle did not fear death. His life was not organic; there’d be no body, no concrete evidence he’d even existed, if he’d even truly been alive. Nobody would mourn him, for who could mourn the death of someone who had never even been born?
Although, that wasn’t completely true. There was only one person who would mourn him, as Kyle was all Eric had, and Eric was all Kyle had.
He did not flinch, even when he began to fade away. It was slow, almost like a numb torture, and he would be lying if he said it didn’t weigh heavily on his heart. Reality became static as he felt himself becoming detached from what he once loathed. Hatred towards the real world made his passing so much more bitter, knowing what a mess he was leaving Eric behind to suffer with.
He had to let him go, and that was the most painful part.
But he knew, as much as he didn’t want to believe it, he was holding Eric back. Kyle wasn’t needed anymore. When he had finally noticed that his limbs became unresponsive, he only smiled carelessly, for he knew that things were coming to a close. Everything he had done was for Eric, and this was one of the most important things he could ever do for him.
Kyle loved Eric, he truly loved Eric, and he would continue to love him, even in his last moments of life.
When Cartman opened his eyes the next morning, he was alone. There was no greeting, no snide remark from Kyle. Nothing.
There was no response.
Kyle was gone, just like he had asked of him, and while he should have felt like a weight had been lifted off of his shoulders, it just felt bittersweet. The world going on around him seemed muddled and grey, and he solemnly wished for his Kyle back. His heart was empty, for an integral part of his being had been ripped away from him, and it hurt, like salt on a bullet wound. Regret seemed to roll over him in waves, and was quickly accumulating into an ocean of sorrow.
Cartman must’ve been insane, for he swore that the bed was still warm. He could still feel the heat of Kyle’s body against his own, the way they had seemingly melted together and became one. Kyle was his saving grace, his angel to hide the pain, and now there was nothing left for him to live for.
Kyle was a spirit amongst men, but a man amongst spirits.
Cartman felt his abdomen curdle in disgust. He was pathetic. He was worthless. He would never be good enough for anyone. But Kyle wanted him, and he wanted Kyle.
Cartman sat up, disheveled brown hair clinging to his sticky face. He couldn’t remember the last time he had woken up to complete silence. He lazily slung himself off the bed, bare feet thumping against the carpeted floor with each step he took towards his mother’s room, located just down the hall from his own.
The wooden door creaked open to expose his mother laying in her bed, surrounded by baggies of crack and miscellaneous sex toys. The air felt cold and foreign to him, even in his own home. Nothing seemed familiar anymore; every room felt like another layer of deceitful happiness.
Liane looked so serene, peacefully unaware of the events that occured just down the hall. It was almost as if they had never even happened, but Cartman knew the truth.
She could never understand how much he hurt, because in her mind he was her perfect little boy, and just for that, he believed she was almost as crazy as he was.
Cartman surveyed the room critically, observing the fragmented pieces of his mother’s personal endeavors. With a careful step, he began the slow tread towards her closet that was concealed away in the corner of her room, the solid wood frame sitting eerily amongst the shadows.
Carefully, he pried open the doors to reveal the copious amounts of clothing and boxes that lined it from top to bottom. He let out a single huff of irritation as he rummaged around the cluttered closet, searching for the one box that his mother had always kept hidden from him.
After a few moments of searching, he found it. The item itself was contained within a black shoe box with tattered corners, heavy and unguarded. Within it sat a single metal gun that reflected the brief glimpses of light it was exposed to, a semi-automatic pistol with a four inch barrel.
It didn’t look nearly as dangerous as it actually was, but he knew that appearances could lie.
After all, he himself didn’t look as broken as he actually was on the inside.
Cartman gazed down at the gun and shivered as he curled his fingers around it, pulling it out of its confines. It was frigid and bulky, alien in its own curious little way. It was a death machine that he held in his chubby fingers, a weapon created to bring an end to life. But his life had ended before it had even begun, and it was time to put the final nail in the coffin
Personally, Eric loved his mother dearly, but not in the particular way that a little boy normally loves his mother. He loathed her at times for things she had done, but she was still his mother, and she took care of him. He knew what he was about to do would hurt her, but he also knew she would be quick to recover. She was resilient, a trait they both shared, but he himself couldn’t bounce back this time.
He didn’t want her first sight to be his lifeless corpse when she first awoke, so he began, for a lack of a better term, the walk of doom back to his room.
Each step seemed to echo off the walls, while the floorboards groaned beneath his weight. Everything felt surreal, and his reality felt broken, fragmented, yet he maintained a cool detachment to his surroundings as he continued on down the hall, before stopping in front of his bedroom.
He stood underneath his wooden doorframe, and gazed upon his bedroom longingly. The purple walls seemed to be mocking him within their extravagant glory, a stark contrast to his disheveled being, and the chocolate brown carpet that was meant to provide him with a sense of stability only made him feel more unstable than he already was. The room was dominated with a profound sense of anxiety, and a single bead of sweat dripped down his forehead. The one place that used to bring him comfort made him feel uneasy without Kyle there to make it truly feel like home.
Eric shivered at the name.
He was doing this all for him, his little monster. They were finally going to be together, just like he had always wanted.
Eric smiled sweetly as he imagined his ginger love, the boy who had been his partner for years. A spirit of his hopes and a beacon of his dreams. He chose to sit down in the middle of his room, next to the spot where Kyle had the night before.
He reached into his pocket, and felt the familiar weight of the orange pill bottle his mother usually kept hidden away in the kitchen. Although, she had left it in his room by mistake a few days ago after leaving it sitting on his desk, next to a cup of warm tea with lemon she had made him. Grimacing, he pulled it from his pocket and popped the cap off, before hastily swallowing the last few pills inside. They were meant to make his own passing less painful, more numb and emotionless.
Kyle’s death was still fresh in his mind, for it was all Eric’s fault. Even though Kyle had no control over Eric’s feelings, he was angry at him. But he couldn’t blame Kyle for any of this; he hadn’t wished to be created in the first place. Although now that he was really gone, Cartman couldn’t fathom living without him, and each second ticked by like agonizing loneliness until he could see him again.
Eric felt the weight of the gun in his hand, and knew he couldn’t delay this any longer. He didn’t want to leave his love waiting any longer.
He raised his arm up without hesitation, and held the barrel of the gun against his temple, finger ghosting over the trigger. Eric smiled fondly before closing his eyes.
“I’m coming for you, Kahl.”
The noise echoed throughout the house, loud and blaring. Eric felt pain for less than a millisecond, and absolutely nothing the next. His body collapsed, and blood spilled, staining the carpet with a sticky red.
Time seemed to stop in his mind, the passage of light becoming a blur and the sounds a hazy murmur. He had no more air left in his lungs, for he had exhaled his final breath only seconds before. His heart was no longer beating, and his body was finally at rest.
What’s done was done, and the evidence sat lifeless, beads of sunlight pouring over it, over him. But his soul was shrouded in darkness, a cold, empty darkness, and his eyes were sealed shut, for he was afraid to open them. There a blackness that he couldn't recall seeing before - one that was almost absolute, like an all consuming veil. He was truly afraid of realizing he was alone, and that his efforts had all been made in vain, that Kyle wouldn’t be there to greet him on the other side.
The warm hand that was pressed against his shoulder told him otherwise.
Eric opened his eyes hesitantly, and was met with the familiar emerald eyes he so dearly loved staring lovingly into his own.
Kyle stood before him, shrouded by a golden light that seemed to make him glow. He looked absolutely angelic.
“Eric, you idiot,” Kyle whispered, his voice cracking as tears brimmed in his eyes. “I would have waited a million years for you if I had to. Why did you do it?”
Eric laughed as Kyle embraced him, and he was engulfed in a comforting warmth that seeped through his being. Tears of his own spilled from the corners of his eyes, and he shoved his face into Kyle’s clothed chest.
“Shut up and hold me you idiot,” Eric whined while Kyle laughed and tightened his hold around him.
“God, you’re insufferable,” Kyle chided as he nosed his face into Eric’s hair. “I love you, fatass.”
Eric felt himself smile, a genuine smile as he looked up at Kyle with a look of euphoria in his eyes.
“I love you too, Kahl.”
They both pressed their foreheads together, before leaning in for a soft, loving kiss. Eric felt his heart swell in his chest as he savoured the feeling for as long as he could. Kyle was the first to pull away, lips drawn into a gentle smile. And for the first time in Eric’s life, he felt truly safe and at ease in his arms.
Eric finally knew deep down that there was no place he'd rather be than by Kyle’s side for the rest of eternity.