In it for the Long Haul

Chapter 1:

"What about the Future?"

Disclaimer:

Usually when I write a story I would attach a disclaimer to each chapter and come up with something witty to make it interesting each time. But frankly I think that writing this story is very draining on my creative fuse already so this is it for this story...

Ahem I don't claim to own South Park. From Kenny all the way down to Mr. Twig, they all belong to Mr. Matt and Trey.

Chapter Rating:

PG

Story Notes:

Now that the disclaimer is out of the way lets get on to more important information. This story is going to be a long one, possibly around 12 chapters and an epilogue. So if you're looking for a drabble or a one-shot this isn't the place you'll find one, sorry. This story will also contain some slash... now don't run away yet those with stomachs that are weak about that sort of thing! There is no slash content in this story that would bypass a PG rating. I'm not writing porn here people. I know I can't write it well, and this site doesn't need another badly written PWP... I am also not revealing the pairing. Where's the fun in that? There WILL be a few scenes in this story that I would rate somewhere in the PG13-R scale and of course there will be course language used. Each chapter will be rated separately so that none of you kiddies will be warped. (Though if you like South Park enough to be reading fanfic then I don't really need to worry about that) This covers my ass! Chapters will be in differing points of view. Some will be covered entirely by one person other chapters will switch when needed.

And finally I love to hear what others think of my writing. So feel free to leave a review, praise, or CONSTRUCTIVE criticism. Flames I simply post on a variety of web sites for other writers to laugh at...

Kenny's POV:

There are many people who curse alphabetical seating arrangements...just not me. But I suppose next year in 9th grade they'll stop acting like we're children and let us pick our own seats. I don't really give a rat's ass because alphabetical seating still leaves me sitting next to one of my best friends. Marsh and McCormick work nicely together for that.

It's strange, but if you held up a copy of Stan's 4th grade school picture and compared it to Stan today you'd think you were looking at a mirror. Oh, sure he's gotten taller. We all have. But Stan still has the same fashion sense and love for blue, the same hat hair, and the same.. innocent look to his face. He still looks like he hasn't seen terrible things happen. But Stan has changed a bit. He's toned up a lot because of football and he also towers above me and Kyle and Eric.

Speaking of Eric, there's a person who hates alphabetization. It puts him right next to Kyle, and there isn't a week that has went by for the last 3 years that he hasn't bitched about it. Eric has developed into a sort of lackluster example of growing into your body. While the baby fat has mostly gone from his face, making it him semi-handsome, the rest of him has simply gone from obese to just plain fat. But it's still quite an improvement. By now he's probably of average height, but it's hard to judge because of Stan. I'd always pictured Eric as the short one of the group... what ever. He has also now developed a bit of fashion sense that helps hide his large frame. The baggy look was MADE for Eric Cartman!

Sitting next to Eric is the last of my friends. Kyle... now there's a person that you wouldn't recognize if you'd left the country for a year and then saw him again! Kyle had gone through this phase at the beginning of the school year...he just showed up at the bus stop one Monday morning without his trademark green hat. And I can personally vouch that I saw Eric swallow his tong, because Kyle's normally carefully hidden red 'Jew fro' was now streaked with electric blue stripes and spiked on the bangs to stand up at all different angles. But even more shocking was the shiny golden stud in his nose, from which a tiny Star of David hung. The shit-eating grin on Kyle's face while Eric picked his jaw up out of the snow is one of those things I'll never forget. From what he'd told us there had been a small war at his house when he'd shown up home like that the previous Friday night. But teenage hormones had apparently helped Kyle grow a spine when it came to his mother and he'd finally told her that she'd been a real bitch to him for years and he wasn't going to be completely under her thumb any longer. And he'd told her that if she forced him to change anything back he would do something much worse and more permanent the next time he got out of her sight. And apparently it worked because he's still showing up looking the exact same. But underneath he's still the same Kyle. The brains and the morals of our group.

While I watch our homeroom teacher handing out some packets I reflect on how different I am from my friends. I'm easily the shortest and skinniest guy in the 8th grade. Hell I'm smaller than a lot of the 6th graders. I guess dying so often when I was a kid messed up something, or maybe not eating enough... My hair eventually got too long for me to stuff into a parka hood comfortably so when I was forced to steal a new jacket I got one without a hood. By now I can't really remember why I wore my old hood up all the time to begin with. And of course I'm still poor and still living at home where dad still gets drunk every night...

I'm pulled out of those thoughts when a packet plunks down on my desk. Jesus H. Christ this had better not be a test, the thing's huge! The title of the packet, "North Park Senior High School Course Selection", dose little to quell the nervousness that has developed suddenly in my chest. Everyone in South Park knows that our little town doesn't have a high school, but it never really sunk in with me until that moment. We'd be getting bussed 45 minutes to North Park where the hierarchy that we've worked so hard for all these years would mean squat. We'd be outsiders for the next 4 years. But the nervousness isn't just from that thought. This packet meant that today we'd be picking classes. Picking classes that would affect the rest of our lives. No pressure and thanks for all the warning, fucking bitch!

Next to me Stan has a similar look of dread on his face as his eyes quickly dart between his packet and a desk farther toward the back of the classroom. Wendy Testaburger. That's another thing that's changed since we got into middle school. Stan and Wendy ended up getting back together around the middle of 6th grade and have been together ever since. It's not hard to understand why Stan is panicking. High school required classes are split into 3 categories; Advanced (A) Normal (N) and Developmental (D), and since Wendy is like the 3rd smartest person in this school she'll likely want to get into more 'A' classes than Stan. It's one thing to stay together in middle school and quite another thing to stay together through high school without classes together. Right now I bet he's praying that this isn't going to be one of those 'sit quietly and make your own decisions' things so he'll get a chance to talk to Wendy.

As I finally open my packet Mrs. Oakley thankfully tells us that we'll be given the rest of the day to make our decisions amongst ourselves. Stan bolts up and nearly knocks my desk over rushing toward Wendy. Talk about pussy whipped... I just sigh and drag my desk to where Kyle and Eric are sitting.

Kyle smiles weakly at me and motions toward Stan. "9 years of friendship. Good to know where his priorities are" he jokes.

"Well you don't fuck him" I point out, adding the appropriate hand gesture. "So I'd say he has them about right."

"I wouldn't be so sure that Jew boy isn't providing certain services for Stan" Eric adds smirking. Kyle and I simply roll our eyes.

I pull out a tattered notebook that was at one time meant to keep notes in. Skipping past my doodles and poetry I find a mostly blank page and rip it out. Taking my pencil from behind my ear I flip the packet open and begin the process of reading up on this school. Bla bla bla, no tolerance policy, bla bla bla, detention policy, bla bla bla, lunch cost, bla bla bla. I skim through all the bullshit about the school and 9 pages later I find myself staring at Math. This makes me look back up at Kyle. He's our school's resident math wiz. He already took Pre-Algebra last year, and Algebra this year, so he's like a year ahead of the rest of us. According to the packet Algebra is the math class that everyone is required to take... I suppose that he'll just end up with the 10th graders.

"Dude this is awesome" Eric blurts out. "All someone has to do is take all the 'D' classes and it's like an easy ride through high school"

"That's stupid Cartman." Kyle fires back, looking up from his own packet. He's on the math section too. "Everyone would think your retarded or something... and besides the school can override something like that if they catch on."

"Damnit"

"And chicks don't date guys that don't have any brains. You need to take some harder classes to impress them. And you won't get anywhere in life if you slack through ALL of school. You've already pissed away elementary and middle school." I add helpfully.

"I suppose you'd know all about how not to get anywhere in life Kenny. Especially with a father like yours" Eric spits back. A two day old dull ache on my upper arm burns to life at this to remind me of the man in question. I ignore both the stab of pain and the remark.

"Cartman would never make it through any of the advanced classes anyway Kenny."

"Fuck you."

I grin at the age old conflict. "Are you willing to put money on that Cartman?" Kyle whispers as Mrs. Oakley passes us. I tune out the rest as I turn back to my packet. Knowing that I'm only average on a good day at math I scratch 'N Algebra' on my sheet of paper and skip to the next section. English. I smile. English is the one of the few things that I'm actually good at in school. I write 'A English' on my paper just in time to see Stan pull his chair up and interrupt the argument between Kyle and Eric.

"What did I miss?"

"Cartman has just agreed to actually take an advanced class next year" Kyle snickers. "I bet him $100 that he won't be able to make it through and pass…" Kyle is interrupted by the lunch bell and the subject is abruptly dropped while we filed out.

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As I sit at lunch picking at my food I keep flipping through the class lists. I was never all that good at speaking in front of people so I write 'D Speech' and I've never trusted chemicals so I add 'D Chemistry' to my list too. History I was always ok at and I didn't have a freaking clue about Physics so I jot down 'N History' and 'N Physics'. And of course PE is required so that is also added to the list.

"Are you gonna eat your tapioca pudding Kenny." Eric Cartman's nasal voice interrupts me once again from making progress as he makes to steal my pudding cup. Despite the fact that he KNOWS that this is the only food I'm likely to get all day. And also despite the fact that I've always turned him down in the past. Hell, he even ignores the fact that I have a spoon full of the pudding about an inch from my mouth.

"Fuck you Eric, that's MY lunch." I hiss, as I make every appearance of trying to stab his hand with my pencil. "And can't you leave me alone for even half an hour so that I can get some idea about what I'm going to do with the rest of my goddamn education!" The pain in my arm comes back again as I stare him down. But my outburst only earns me Eric's angry gaze.

"What the hell is your problem! It's not like gutter children like you need to think about it much. You don't need education to be poor trailer trash, it just comes naturally."

I've always taken Eric's cracks about being poor with a grain of salt in the past. I think it's because I'm the closest friend he has, and if I'm being honest with myself he's my closest friend too. He's got millions of insults though. So why does he have to constantly use ones that remind me of just how terrible my life is? But today he sparked something...

"I'll never turn into my father Eric. Never!" I screech. "I'm going to make the world recognize the name Kenny McCormick. I'm going to be somebody. And if you can't leave me alone for one day so that I can get the ball rolling then maybe you should just go fill in those 'D' boxes for your classes after all and leave me alone. Then in 5 years we'll see who's trailer trash and who isn't!"

"Y-you tell him Kenny" I hear Butters' voice from the table behind me. Damn, I hadn't meant to really raise my voice enough for anyone other than Eric to hear me.

"Up yours Butters."

As fast as I can I gather together everything back into my bag and stand up from the table. I can feel tiers trying to come as I shove my lunch tray at Eric and stomp out of the cafeteria.

My feet have carried me to the baseball diamond before a tier finally manages to slide down my cheek. I hurriedly wipe it away and start to climb up the small set of bleachers. Reaching the top I slam my bag down beside me and rip it open. The ending lunch bell rings as I pull out my packet and notebook but I just ignore it. I reopen to the page I had been reading at lunch. Electives. The short paragraph on the opening page of the section said that these are some of the most important classes that colleges look at to determine weather they'll accept you or not. I flip to the English related electives available to 9th graders and find what I'm looking for: Writing. I've been writing ever since I learned the alphabet. I find that writing can relax me when I'm tense or hurting, it can cheer me up when I'm upset, and it can take my mind places I'll never really get to go. Writing is also a very cheep hobby, what with notebooks being four for a dollar in August and pencils are easily stolen from school.

I write down 'Writing' on my nearly completed list when I hear the starting bell for next period. Pft, whatever. It isn't until nearly 20 minutes later while I'm still flipping through other electives that I'm startled by the sound and vibration of Kyle, Stan, and Eric climbing the bleachers.

"Mrs. Oakley sent Cartman to find you. We just came along to make sure he didn't intend to kick your ass." Stan says shrugging.

I turn to Eric only to find him looking at me funny. "So are you? ...Going to kick my ass I mean?

"I hadn't decided until just now. But nah, I'll let it slide." he answers be in a tone of seriousness. But then be grins and hands me my unfinished pudding cup. No matter what happens I think that Eric and I will always be best friends forever and I can't help but smile back at him.

"Now that you two have kissed and made up can we figure out the rest of these classes?" Kyle asks, officially ending the conversation. Eric flips him off and I, blushing, do the same.

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At the end of the day the four of us turn our packets back in and head home. Eric had still ended up taking a fair few 'D' classes but he evened them out with the normal level ones. And to keep up his side of the bet with Kyle he also signed up for 'A English'. Stan had somehow managed to balance himself between choosing classes that he could share with Wendy, classes with each of us, and classes he actually liked. He and Wendy shared their usual kiss goodbye before leaving school and now he is actually whistling while we walk home from the bus stop. Kyle is going to have his work cut out for him since he'd put down for almost all 'A' classes. He told us that he was gunning for a really exclusive college, and his mother also wouldn't have it any other way.

As we each go our separate ways I can't help but feel that maybe my life is about to get better. In three days I'll be graduating from Middle School, I gained a bit more respect from Eric today, and the weather is a lot warmer than usual which is a sure sign of a long summer.

As soon as I open the front door and step into my home, however, yelling assaulted my ears, breaking any good mood I had previously been in. They'd just had a huge fight two days ago, why the hell are they going at it again. I ignore them and head to my room to do the last of the year's homework. By the time I've finished they've managed to give me a terrible headache so I head to the bathroom with a vague hope of finding an aspirin. It isn't until I've managed to luckily find one, drink it down with water from the tap, and look back up that I see myself in the mirror. The face looking back at me has long ratty blond hair, and bags under the dull blue eyes. But it's not the fact that I look like I haven't slept for a week that bothers me. My whole face is covered in a small layer of sweat and dust, except for one very visible trail down my left cheek. Fuck! I suppose that would explain why Eric was giving me that funny look, and why the guys were so nice to me for the rest of the day. They knew that I'd fucking cried!

"SHIT!" I yell as I quickly wet my hands and scrub them over my face. "Shit, shit, shit!"

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That does it for chapter 1 of "In it for the Long Haul". The next chapter: 'How We've Changed, How We've Stayed the Same' will be coming soon. Feel free to hit me with constructive reviews to help me improve the story. - SaiyanQueenVega