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Knives

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~~Ten Years Later:~~

"Higher than that, Butters, c'mon!"

"You try and reach it then, if my stretchin' ain't good enough for you!"

"If we get Kyle to hang it up, everyone's gonna have to step over it."

Kyle scowled, jabbing a finger into Tweek's side when the taller man snorted and threw a dramatic look down on him. The redhead stuck his tongue out, shaking the end of the sign that he was clutching towards the other blonde.

"I see it, I see it, hold your horses!" Butters grinned as he snatched the other end, stretching out against the chimney breast to tack the long, silver, 'congratulations!' banner into place. The blonde winced as he put his feet back down, stretching out the tight muscles in his torso that left him with one hell of a limp when the weather was freezing. A reminder, he saw it as, of just how bad things could get in his life. The blonde took a step back to admire his work, pushing Kyle out of his way with a chuckle as the redhead lost his balance and went barreling into Tweek.

But life could be good too.

"We've still got three more to hang up!"

~

Craig watched Tweek land in a heap beneath Kyle, the redhead whipping around a mop of furious looking curls as he growled up at Butters quiet chuckle. Tweek all but dragged the shorter man to his feet as he straightened out, the odd, subtle twitch the only thing about the blonde's demeanor that let Craig know that he had gotten too little sleep last night.

"Should we help them?"

"Fuck no."

Craig tsked at Clyde, scowling up at the brunette and cupping his hands around the cigarette hanging out of his mouth to light it. He inhaled with a hiss, dropping his head back to blow the smoke into the taller man's face. "You want to take over decoration duty and have to listen to Kyle bitch that it's not in the right fuckin' angle or somethin'? Fuck that, man."

Token rumbled a laugh behind him, lounged against the living room wall with his broad arms crossed across his chest. "I think they're doin' just fine. They've got two banners up in the space of..." The dark man glanced down at the watch on his wrist and snorted, teeth flashing white in a smile, "half an hour."

"Christ," Craig ignored Clyde's insistence that they help, flipping the man off with barely a glance in his direction when Clyde poked him in the back.

"You go help, I'm gettin' a goddamn drink."

~

The small kitchen was too fucking full of people, Stan growled as he swiped at his forehead, catching the sweat dripping there as he bent across the counter to open the window and let in the weak, summer breeze.

"It's fuckin' hot in here."

"Well spotted, Craig." Stan rolled his eyes, switching off the oven that was generating the majority of the heat. Why had Kyle insisted on making the food for the party? They could have gotten shit delivered, it would have meant less to fucking clean up,too.

"You better hope his sausage rolls are done, Kyle doesn't like it when someone messes with his food."

"I checked." Stan grabbed the offered beer, tilting his head back to neck a mouthful before squinting back at Kenny. The blonde was in a new blue shirt, more than likely one that Butters had picked out for him, and his hair was a mess. Half of that was probably due to the fact that Kenny McCormack just did not like to comb out his curls, would go so far as to say he was morally against it. The other was probably due to the two year old girl sitting on his hip with one of her pudgy fists locked into the blonde tangles.

Stan swamped the beer and slid the bottle down on the counter behind him, holding his hands out with a smile and gathering the small child up with a laugh. "Hello my little sweetheart, how are you? Look at that pretty dress, who's got a pretty dress?"

Nancy cooed up at him, her blonde locks wild about her round face and her brown eyes wide. She babbled up at him, some words solid and the rest a mash of infantile ramblings, her little hands pulling at the edges of the bright pink dress Butters had fluffed her out in. "Where's Billy?" Kenny stretched his arm out with a grimace.

Stan settled his godchild on one hip, nudging Kenny's side and pointing him to where Wendy stood across the kitchen. The woman was smiling wide as she chatted to Roo and Bebe, the pair wrapped around one another as only new couples tended to be. On his wife's hip was a child a year older than Nancy, the boy's black locks silky and straight and his eyes a near replica of his mothers. "He was fussin', might have to put him down for a nap before the guest of honour arrives. Kyle has the spare room upstairs set up for them just in case."

Kenny hummed, watching from his point against the oven as the front door opened and Pip stumbled in, such a vast amount of balloons in the small man's grasp that Kenny was surprised he hadn't just floated off on the way here. Damien followed him at a more sedate speed, a phone at the his ear.

"Can't believe he actually went and did it though."

Stan shrugged, grabbing a chicken nugget from a nearby tray and blowing on it before handing to to Nancy, grinning when the kid screeched her delight, "I mean, he said he would, last time he came for a visit. Kyle seemed to believe he would. I dunno, man, there's just something about the guy that you can't help but trust."

"He's one of the good guys, that's why." Kenny watched Nancy show off her nugget to Craig as the man ducked behind them for a beer. The noirette nodded once to the infant, before ignoring everyone else and making his way out.

"Yeah, I guess."

~

Eric was braced against the outside wall of City Hall, the sleeves of his white shirt rolled up to the elbow as he pulled on the cigarette held in the fingers of his right hand. The navy blue slacks he wore were pristine and pressed, the matching jacket slung in the boot of his car. He was never too fond of monkey suits anyway, but he had to make an impression.

The months and years leading up to this particular event had been meticulously planned. Perfectly laid out in a way that ensured a victory for all parties involved.
It was not the initial plan that he had envisioned for South Park on his rise to power all those years ago, but it was one that would work nonetheless. Possibly better in the long run, if he was being honest.

He flicked the butt of his light aside, blowing out the acrid smoke as the doors to his right were suddenly opened and a flood of reporters stumbled over themselves to spread out. Scrawny as they were, they were still vultures and Eric felt his lip curl in distaste as they scuttled about, some eyeing him with wide eyes and elbows nudged into the backs of their camera-men. He paid them no mind.

They were here to catch an elusive comment or two from the town's newly appointed mayor, the youngest ever elected official in the history of South Park; a story and a half to run back to the papers with after the length of service Mayor McDaniels had put in.

"You needn't have picked me up, Eric. I do know where you like to hide my brother, you know."

Eric shrugged away from the wall, casting a smile at the man himself as Ike Broflovski appeared beside him. The younger man was shorter, but only by a scant inch or two. His black hair was clipped and professional, his own shirt unbuttoned at the collar and with the sleeves rolled up to beat the heat. "Now, what kind of a brother in law would I be if I didn't even collect you and bring you to your party? Kyle's been workin' so hard to get the place set up for you."

Ike grinned, his face classically handsome in a way that the man was most assuredly aware of. His dark eyes were lidded as they took Eric in, one hand stuffed into the pocket of his black trousers and the other carrying his coat and briefcase. Though his bright yellow tie was slung a tad low, the man was the pinnacle of political power and presentation.

And he knew it.

Eric held a hand out towards his car, flashing a smile full of teeth at the apprehensive reporters flicking their cameras and microphones in their direction. Ike paid them no mind, alloting only a cheery wave at the crowd before following the taller man to the car.

Only when the pair were seated and the road was rolling beneath them, did Ike let the charming smile drop from his face.

"Stan's working out well as Police Chief, from what they've told me. I didn't think he'd pass the exam on the first go."

Eric grunted, propping his elbow on the window of the car. "Was a good idea, but it suited us better to get him in there first, less talk, less gossip. Now he's your friendly, neighbourhood policeman. They trust him."

Ike smiled, a fleeting, soft thing.

"My brother doing the college course he did was a good idea too. He's saved more than a few people's asses. I'll be able to call in a few favours to get him appointed as City Attorney. or Finance Director, at least."

Eric grinned. Of course it was a good idea, it had been Kyle's. His little redhead was chock full of them.

"Give it a few weeks for your fans to stop clamouring at your windows before you announce the City Manager, there's only so many rumour mills I can have Bebe squah through Channel 4 news. She might be makin' love-heart eyes at Roo, but that doesn't mean she can't be a bitch when she wants to be."

Ike snorted, rubbing a hand over his eyes. "I already have Damien's name down, and the resume Pip did up for him is with the rest, ready to be 'filtered through'. Half the Council is retiring in the next year, this will all stand to us in time if we do it right." The younger man glanced over at the brunette, taking in the man's profile. "You sure I can't tempt you with a position, Eric? You clean up nice in a suit."

Eric's grin was feral as he flicked golden eyes down on Ike, "You eyein' me up, kid? Don't tell your brother I might trade him in for the younger model, he may just slice your fuckin' balls off."

Ike cackled, slapping a hand down on his thigh and shaking his head. The taller man turned into the neighbourhood no one dared to drive down unless invited, his lips still stretched in a smile.

"Nah," Eric said, "I've got enough on my hands keepin' this town clean. And keepin' your shithead of a brother in hand."

~

Kyle combed his hands through his hair with a growl, pulling the curls back to tie in a low ponytail. He would need to get it cut soon or face Wendy's well-meaning attempts to style it. Badly. Again.

He glanced around the living room, taking in the banners and balloons and the tables lined with home-cooked food with a small smile. Ike always preferred something simple cooked at home to takeaways. Kyle grinned. His brother the mayor. He always knew the kid would go on to do something big, to make a difference; and here it was. The youngest mayor South Park had ever seen and he had won in a landslide against all the rest. Ike was charismatic, he was funny and he had ideas that appealed to just about anybody swooning over him on the television.

He had always been a crowd favourite.

"They're back!"

Kyle jumped, scrambling to lean against where Butters was half-hanging out of the front room window. Nancy was perched on her bum against the open frame, Butters' arm wrapped tight around her as he waved her little hand at the car pulling up in the drive. Kyle squeezed the man's side, grinning up at the blonde and planting a kiss on the top of the toddler's blonde curls. She peered up at him with her dark eyes, mouth wide with a shrieking laugh. Adopted or not, Kyle thought the kid was the spitting fucking image of Kenny.

The redhead moved to race towards the front door, his grin wide enough to hurt his cheeks as he waited for it to open. He brushed any crumbs from the front of his shirt and scowled when he saw the rusty, red stain clinging to the edges of the pale yellow cuff around his wrist.

See, there was a reason he always wore red when he played.

With a sigh, Kyle rolled the sleeves up deftly and turned in time to find Cartman at the door, aiming a sly smile in his direction.

Life was good.