Jimmy wasn’t exactly sure why Eric Cartman had grown so attached to him, but he theorized it had something to do with his secret crippling desire for a friend who wouldn’t rip on him 24/7, a friend who would actually call him by his first name, and a friend fitting both those criteria who wasn’t Butters.
The change from Eric around the guys to Eric around one guy (Jimmy) was astounding, really. Compared to his bravado in school, he was almost harmless when he was at home. Well, he still spouted casual garbage, but if he wasn’t actively planning something he kind of just, well, laid there. Sometimes they chatted, Jimmy threw some jokes at him to test them out—Eric really was a terrific audience during commercial breaks—and Eric ate snacks on his couch.
When Eric invited Jimmy over, it usually went in a similar manner. They didn’t really do much, but they talked some and watched TV. Sometimes Eric played video games, and Jimmy made witty one-liners that had Eric laughing so hard his character died again. Other times Eric excitedly showed Jimmy a new movie he got, or a new toy his mom just bought him.
Jimmy didn’t know if he should have been concerned, but Eric seemed to trust him enough to invite him to his tea-parties. There was nothing wrong with that, of course, it was just that Jimmy didn’t know if getting this close to Eric Cartman was a very bad thing or not.
At the moment, Jimmy found himself in a very difficult place—on one hand, he felt he could really help his friend, but on the other hand, that friend was Eric Cartman, and the topic to help him was. A dangerous one. Jimmy took a deep breath, steeling himself.
“H-hey, Eric, what’s this?” Jimmy held up the little notebook he found stuffed between the cushions of the couch. Eric glanced over, and the second his eyes caught on the notebook his face flushed with a sudden panic.
“NOTHING!” He screeched, jumping forward to snatch the journal from Jimmy’s hands.
“Eric, my fre-my f-f-f—my buddy ,” Jimmy said, “I think we should talk about this.”
“There’s nothing to talk about!”
“Eric, listen to me, I just want to help you,” Jimmy kept his voice gentle. Eric frowned, his face scrunching up. Jimmy could see the internal fight going on in Eric’s head, and for a second he wondered if he left the journal where it was on purpose.
“C’mon, let’s sit.” Jimmy patted the couch next to him. Eric stared at the couch cushions. With shaking hands, he pulled himself up onto it. Eric laid with his head on the armrest, his arm over his face. He hadn’t spoken yet, just laid there with a trembling lower lip.
“Ta-ta-taah, take your time, Eric.”
There was a beat of silence. And then.
“It was for the fucking principle,” Eric muttered, then his voice got louder as he continued, “I don’t care what Stan says, I don’t care what Kenny says, and I don’t care what you said—it was for the principle.”
“Getting Kyle to suck my balls, duh.”
“Okay, Eric.” Jimmy watched Eric closely, how he had defiantly crossed his arms to stare up at the ceiling. “What was the principle?”
“I...because it’s funny,” Eric faltered.
“I…’cause it’s Kyle sucking balls! That’s hilarious!”
“But what about you?”
“What about me?” Eric looked confused.
“H-h-how do you feel about Kyle sucking your balls?”
Eric paused. He blinked at the ceiling.
“Good. I feel good when I think about it.”
Jimmy nodded sagely. “What kind of good?”
“Like…” Eric’s brow furrowed, “Like there’s something warm in my belly, and it’s all tingly, and I like it.”
“When else do you feel this way, Eric?” Jimmy marked off a mental checklist, already with a theory on what the ‘good tingly feeling’ was, even if Eric seemed oblivious.
“When I fight with Kyle, and his face gets all red because he’s so mad and he bunches up his fists and I can tell he wants to just punch me and his voice gets really tense and his eyes get, like, really green somehow,” Eric trailed off, looking wistful, “...and stuff.”
“Do you fu-f-feel this way any other time?” Jimmy asked. Eric looked thoughtful.
“Once I saw Craig and Tweek kissing behind a tree in the park.”
“Okay, Eric,” Jimmy said. “B-back to the subject of Kyle and your balls: how often do you think about Kyle sucking your balls?” The TV played a cheesy commercial in the background which briefly seemed to catch Eric’s attention.
“Uh, all the time,” Eric mumbled, “Sometimes it’s like I can’t stop thinking about it.”
Jimmy thought he might regret asking his next question, but he felt it was important for Eric to get it all out.
“How do you im-ima, how do you ima-haa—how do you imagine it happening, Eric?”
“Well, usually we’re standing in a big field, with the sun setting behind us, and the wind is gently running through Kyle’s hair,” Eric sighed dreamily, “And then Kyle runs up to me, and he tells me ‘oh Eric, you’re so kewl and not fat—” Eric’s voice was a poor, high-pitched impersonation of Kyle, “—and I want to suck your balls ‘cause I want to make you feel good,” Eric’s hands cupped his own face; his eyes were closed. Jimmy cringed a little, knowing it was for the greater good but still not being 100% comfortable with it happening about five feet away from him. “Do you want me to make you feel good, Eric?’ And then, and then he kneels down, or sometimes he lays me down, but he’s always there to do it…”
“Okay, Eric, now—have you ever thought of Kyle, or any of the other guys, doing things with your balls or p-penis?”
Eric pursed his lips, looking to the side.
“Yeah,” he said simply.
“Would you ex-expa-expaaha—would you expaa-would you elaborate on that further?”
“Uh...I…” Eric looked away again, wringing his hands in front of his chest, “Um...sometimes I think about t-touching penises....and stuff.” Eric started to look a little distressed, his face turning bright red.
“Who have you thought of?”
Eric looked at Jimmy with big, pleading eyes.
“Promise you won’t judge me?” Eric’s voice took on a wobbly tone.
“This is a judgement free space,” Jimmy said with a grin, “No judging from me!” Eric nodded.
“Uh...so...Kahl...Kenny...uh, Butters?” Eric started counting on his fingers, “Craig one time, I think Tweek too? Oh, Craig and Tweek that other time. And Token. And Clyde. But not Stan because I hate him. But Kahl mostly.”
Jimmy nodded. “Have you ever thought abou-about kissing? Or holding hands?”
Eric nodded vigorously.
“With the same people you listed?”
Eric nodded again.
“Have you ever thought of doing those things with a girl?”
“What do you mean?”
“It’s not the same.” Eric pouted.
“How?” Jimmy prompted, gently.
“It...it doesn’t make me feel as good.” Eric shuddered, uncomfortable. “It makes me feel kinda gross, sometimes.”
“What do you think that means, Eric?”
Eric looked lost, suddenly. “I...I don’t know…” His voice was small.
“Okay,” Jimmy decided to take this from another direction. “Remember when Nichole dated Kyle?”
“Yeah…” Eric pouted.
“Remember how you broke them up?” Jimmy asked, watching how Eric’s face screwed up again.
“Why did you do it that way?”
“What do you mean?” Eric looked at Jimmy again.
“Why did you choose to pretend to date Kyle instead of doing something else?”
“...cause it was easy?” Eric asked, “I mean...I knew people would believe it.”
“Why would people believe it, Eric?”
“‘Cause when we had AIDs everyone thought it.”
“How does it make you feel for people to think you and Kyle are boyfriends?”
Eric flushed when Jimmy said ‘boyfriends,’ his hands coming back up to cover his mouth sheepishly; he mumbled into them.
“Wha-what was that?”
“It makes me feel good…” Eric said again, a little louder, almost whispering from between his fingers.
“Eric,” Jimmy waited a beat for Eric to look at him, “Tell me honestly: do you want Kyle to b-be your boyfriend for real?”
Eric stared. And stared. Then, his eyes slowly widened.
“Oh my god, Jimmy!” He cried suddenly, “Jimmy! I’m a fucking queer!”
Eric threw himself across the couch, suddenly hyperventilating into Jimmy’s shirt. Jimmy rubbed at his back comfortingly.
“I’m a fucking homo! A faggot! Oh my god—Jimmy, Jimmy, I’m gay!”
“Hey, hey now, Eric...don’t jump the g-guh-gun,” Jimmy said, trying to get Eric to calm down. “You don’t have to label yourself now if you don’t want to. You don’t even have to tell anybody. Let’s take this one s-step at a time.”
Eric nodded slowly, his forehead brushing against Jimmy’s shoulder. His hands were fisted in Jimmy’s shirt.
“Eric, I want you to repeat after me: it’s okay if you like boys,” Jimmy said. Eric mumbled quietly. “Eric?”
“It’s…” Eric swallows thickly, his hands tightening into Jimmy’s shirt. “It’s okay if I...if I like...boys.” Eric’s voice choked on the last word.
“Can you say that for me agah-again?”
“It’s okay...if I like boys.” Eric’s voice got a little stronger. He nuzzled into Jimmy’s shirt, sniffling. “It’s okay if I like boys. It’s...it’s okay.”
They sat in quiet for a bit, no sounds but the hum of the TV and Eric’s sniffles. Soon, he sighed, tilting his head to rest his cheek on Jimmy’s shoulder.
“Jimmy...can I tell you a secret?” Eric whispered.
“Of course, Eric.”
“I was the one who saved Kyle’s family from the Smug.”
Jimmy blinked. He was so tempted to say something, say anything, but there weren’t any words that really fit. He was astounded, frankly. For Eric to do something so brave without any recognition at all, not a single peep from him or anyone.
“Butters helped me,” Eric continued, “I couldn’t...I realized Stan was right,” Cartman sounded revolted at the phrase, “and life fucking sucked without Kyle. I just wanted things to go back to normal. And I walked into his house and I just wanted to take Kyle back, but then I saw Ike and I remembered he was pretty cool for a fucking brat and brought him too. And when I went downstairs to stick them on the bus Kyle’s bitch mom said something about her last name and Jersey and I realized Kyle would...he would be so fucking messed up if he went back to South Park without her, his stupid bitch mom. And his bitch mom would be pissed if she didn’t have her bastard husband. So I had to bring them too, because Kyle wouldn’t be normal if they didn’t come back too. And I just...wanted things to go back to normal so bad. ”
“I’m v-very proud of you,” Jimmy said with a smile. He wrapped his arm around Eric’s shoulder in a half-hug.
“Thanks,” Eric said, “And Jimmy?”
“You’ve gotten a lot better with your stutter.”
“Thanks, Eric. I’ve been pra-praah-practicing.”