I can only hope that the beginning of this chapter does not scare away some of my readers. This is still a gen fic and will always be. If you want to blame someone for how one character turns out then blame a certain BroflovskiFan. LOL I love her and she was determined that a certain character was playing for the other team and when I did re-read, it was a case of "…. whoops." If you analysed some of the chapters, she is actually right.

But this is still gen and always will be. Don't worry.


Chapter 13

It's a truth universally acknowledged, that the safest place in the world, no matter how old you are, is under the covers in your own bed.

And Kenny wasn't leaving his bed for anyone.

Deep down he knew he was being rather immature but he knew he could not help it. He was actually terrified. Cartman was still out there somewhere, and was still bigger than him, smarter than him, crueller than him. And Kenny did not fancy being used as Cartman's punch-bag.

It was also the whole high school scene that was so terrifying to the young man; he had guessed that if no one had known about the bet before then they certainly would know now. It would be horrible, putting up with the judgemental stares, the loud jeering, and accusations of being a hermaphrodite's toy boy. So he was staying where he was, dammit, and he was never leaving his bed again, ever.

He was still sulking two days after Cartman dropped him out of the window when Stan finally came around to drag him kicking and squealing from under his covers.

"But I don't want to!" Kenny clung to his bedpost, still hidden under his covers while Stan pulled roughly on his leg.

"You need to come out of there sometime," Stan pointed out, "and it might as well be now."

When Stan let go of his leg with a frown, Kenny immediately yanked it back into the safety of the darkness. He curled up into a ball on his side and glared through the covers at Stan, who was now standing with his hands on his hips, glaring back at him.

"You're not the one with a great big fat ass target on your head, are you?" Kenny burrowed deeper into his bed and sulked. All thoughts of Liane Cartman's shapely thighs and delectable breasts had run off with the rest of Kenny's manhood.

"He's not going to hurt you again," Stan sighed, "I won't let him."

"Oh, my hero," Kenny drawled, unimpressed.

"You're being stupid," Stan tried to pull the sheets away but Kenny squeaked and held them tight.

"I'll leave my bed when I want to!"

"And when's that going to be Kenny? When you're forty?"

"I said when I want to, for fuck sake!"

Stan stood there thinking for a few moments and Kenny anxiously waited, wondering what sort of diabolical scheme the dark haired teen was going to use on him next. He could always smoke him out, but it wouldn't work. Kenny would die of smoke inhalation but he'd be ok, he had died from that before.

Instead, Kenny felt the bed shifting as Stan put one knee on the mattress and Stan's head appeared under the duvet, looking concerned.

"It's really not that bad," Stan told him, looking ever so caring and kind, "it's only Cartman."

"Yeah, the anti-Semitic, Hitler worshipping, homicidal maniac, yeah, it's only Cartman."

Stan's face went rigid for a moment before he barked like an army officer, "Get out of this bed before I make you, McCormick!"

"I'd like to see you try, donut puncher," Kenny spat and tried to roll away when Stan's hands grabbed a hold of his sweater and yanked.

Stan pulled and pulled and Kenny kicked and writhed, trying to pull out of Stan's grip. It was during this little scuffle that Stan's hand slipped and he ended up almost sprawled over Kenny. Kenny was quite ready to keep fighting when Stan pulled away like he had been burnt and disappeared from under the covers.

Kenny stopped fighting and waited. Stan said nothing.

"What was that about, dude?" Kenny asked, puzzled.

"What was all what about?" Stan sounded far too innocent.

"You pulled away like I had an infectious disease or something."

Stan did not talk for far too long and when he did it was completely ridiculous, "What? What the hell are you on about, dude? Did you land on your head or something? Of course I'm not worried about catching anything. What on earth would give you that idea?"

"Then why did you just jump a foot in the air when you landed on me?" Kenny asked, thinking, wondering.

"You're delusional," Stan tried to laugh but it was far too forced to be natural. No doubt he was doing the head toss laugh to make it seem natural.

Kenny pulled the covers away from around his head and studied Stan's expression.

Something was snapping, clicking into place in Kenny's head. He could not be sure if he was right. He would have to ask.

"Stan… does close contact with guys make you feel… different?"

Stan looked at the floor, "don't be stupid, dude."

Kenny just watched him, "it's nothing to be ashamed of."

"I honestly don't know what you mean," Stan said, still not making eye contact.

"How long have you… felt this way?"

"I don't feel any which way," Stan muttered and crossed his arms over his chest in a clear defensive move.

Kenny sat up and now it was his turn to watch with concern, "there's absolutely nothing wrong with you."

"Jesus Christ, Kenny!" Stan exclaimed, "I don't even know if I'm gay yet and you sound like you want to throw me a parade!"

"You mean you're not sure?" Kenny was puzzled.

"I don't know, alright?!" Stan almost shouted. He then attempted to calm himself and spoke slower, "… sometimes I think that I am. Other times… I still find women attractive. But I sorta, maybe, like guys too."

"Could be just a phase," Kenny reasoned, "a lot of people go through that."

"I broke up with Wendy twice because of it," Stan sighed miserably, "if it's a phase it's one hell of a bitch. I got back together with her because I thought I was straight. But sometimes I'm just not sure."

"Does Kyle know?" this was clearly the wrong question to ask as an interesting shade of red flushed into Stan's cheeks.

"Kyle doesn't have to know," Stan whispered, "not until I'm sure."

He turned to face Kenny and asked him desperately, "Please don't tell him."

"Sure dude," Kenny could not help but feel concern. It would be a good idea to change the topic so Kenny fell back under the covers stubbornly. He waited for Stan to pull him back out again, perhaps engage in some playful banter but Stan didn't move.

Kenny peeked out from under the sheets and was shocked to see Stan sitting slumped over, his head in his hands, his elbows resting on his knees, looking positively miserable.

Kenny got out of bed immediately and settled down next to Stan, putting an uncomfortable hand on his shoulder.

"This sort of thing isn't really a big deal anymore," he tried to be comforting and in the usual Kenny style, did not do particularly well, "it's not like you're going to get lynched or anything."

"You don't get it," Stan sighed, "I know you claim to be bi-sexual and all, but it's harder for other people. You're brought up as one sort of person and then out of nowhere something changes, and you can't remember how it happened or even how to go back to how you were. You just are, even without wanting to be. It's not like some wonderful light-switch. I can't turn this off. And you're lucky, you have a light dimmer."

"If you're worrying about what other people think, like your mom and dad," Kenny began but Stan cut him off.

"It's not other people," Stan shook his head, "It's just him. I mean… he likes boobs! He's happy staring at Bebe's tits all day and what if…. What if he thinks I'm some sort of freak?"

"He wouldn't, it's you," Kenny rubbed his back, "and you're worrying too much. It could be just a phase. You don't expect me to play for both teams all my life, do you?"

"No…" Stan sighed, "You like boobs too much too."

"They're amazing," a small smile trickled into Kenny's features, "learn to appreciate them the way I do and you can go back to skirt chasing."

Stan smoothed the hair out of his face and let out a breath, looking a little embarrassed, "I came over to help you. What the hell happened? I'm such an idiot."

"We're just both going through a rough patch," Kenny shrugged, "and the worst thing is that we can't even talk to our best friends to make it better. Mine wants to kill me. And fuck, knowing that kinda hurts."

"Your own fault really," Stan stared at his shoes, "not enough to get dropped out of the window but what were you expecting?"

Kenny didn't answer.

"Doesn't matter now anyway," Stan continued, "Kyle's suddenly became all friendly with Cartman over it. He keeps talking about understanding why the fat ass behaves in the fucked up way he does."

Kenny smirked, "and I bet that pisses you off. You want him to focus on you, right?"

"Don't be sick. He's my best friend."

"Stanny-wanny's got a crush," Kenny sang, "Stanny loves Kylie. Oh yes he does."

"I'll smother you with your pillows."

"That sounds like such a dramatic death," Kenny smirked, "kinda kinky too."

Stan stood up, looking a little pissed off, "Fuck you, McCormick."

"Yes please," Kenny chuckled, barely resisting the urge to purr.

"It wasn't a request!"


Stan was as good as his word and stuck close to Kenny for almost the whole day.

Even on the bus ride to school, Kyle's usual place of honour next to Stan was occupied by the McCormick kid. Kenny never had realised before how skinny he actually was compared to other guys. His baggy clothes usually covered it up and while Stan wasn't particularly tall, Kenny felt quite protected in Stan's shadow.

Because, even if Stan Marsh was gayer than a dance around a maypole, you still didn't mess with him. If Stan didn't scare you into retreat with his cool manner and a sarcastic quip, he still had a right hook, and a left. Even if you had managed to knock him down, Kyle at least would kick three shades of shit out of you for daring to hurt his best friend.

Kenny felt a pain in his chest. Somewhere in the back of his mind pointed out that had anyone knocked Kyle down then you'd have been left with Cartman. And while Cartman fought with Kyle constantly, talked about killing him, anyone besides him that roughed up his Jew would pay.

But now it was Eric after Kenny. And if Stan was protecting Kenny… he really didn't want to get caught up in that mess.

"Listen dude," Kenny sighed as Stan rummaged through his locker, "you don't need to bother looking out for me. If Cartman thinks I've still got it coming to me… I don't want you all fighting too."

"Kinda late now," Stan just shrugged, flicking through Hamlet and then stuffing it in his bag.

"I mean… more fighting," Kenny turned to leave, "you've been good to me, Stan. You're a good guy. I don't want you getting caught up in this more than you already are."

Stan raised an eyebrow, "It doesn't matter Kenny. I don't care if you're immortal, I can't leave you by yourself."

He closed his locker and pulled his bag over his shoulder, "Besides, I've got some recruits. A bunch of other people that don't want to see you used as a punch bag."

Kenny scoffed, "Yeah, right."

Stan chuckled in response, "you might have more allies than you think, dude."

The blonde haired youth stared and almost jumped a foot in the air when he heard a very distinct click beside his head. It was the sound of a trigger being pulled back and Kenny had a mental image of his brain being splattered all over the lockers when Stan only laughed more.

He spun on the spot.

Pip was leaning against one of the lockers, a toy gun in his hand, his eyes glinting with amusement at Kenny's fright.

"Yeah. Hands up, McCormick," Pip pressed the gun against Kenny's temple, "Stand and deliver. Your money or your life?"

"Huh?" Kenny stared.

"Heard you need to lose about a ton of shit," Pip stood up straight and idly fixed one of the safety pins on his shirt, "Cartman isn't going to dare drop anybody out of a window today."

The very idea of Pip squaring up to Cartman should have sent Kenny into hysterical laughter but to be honest he was a little too surprised. And even more so when Butters appeared at Pip's elbow.

"Eh… hi there fellas," Butters gave Kenny his most encouraging smile.

"We blondes gotta stick together," Pip tucked the toy gun between the top of his jeans and his stomach, "we're a dying breed. Can't let a big, fat, old Nazi wipe us out. We've all been one of his little bitches at some time or other and I think it should stop now."

"Eric can't control his own strength," Butters reasoned, "He don't mean it really. He's just upset with everybody cause people treat his mom like a whore. I'd be pretty gosh darn upset too. Liane's such a nice lady."

Stan led them all towards class, "you're not supposed to call her Liane unless you're really close to the family."

"She told me I could," Butters protested.

Even as the other guys bickered, Kenny felt a strange warmth fill his chest. He'd done a pretty shitty thing, betrayed someone in a way that broke every rule in dude rulebook but he still had a couple of people that cared about him.

"When did she tell you that?" Stan asked, "Do you go around and bake cookies with her or something? You're always doing faggy stuff like that round at the Cartman's."

Kenny smirked and glanced at Stan, "Hey Pot, this is Kettle. You look simply fabulous in that silver finish, dah-ling!"

"Shut up Kenny," Stan punched Kenny in the elbow.

"Woah, woah, woah," Pip waved his hands around, "what's all this then? Is Mr Marsh hiding something from everybody?"

"He's got a crush on his Kylie-wylie," Kenny chuckled, "But I don't see what Kylie has that I don't have honestly."

"The best ass in school," Pip suggested, earning a glare from Kenny, "well that's what I've seen in the showers."

Butters had gone bright red, "you shouldn't be looking at another guy's shlong."

"Meaning you have, Butters. Do tell."

"Guys!" Stan was fuming, whipping his head around to make sure Kyle was no where to be seen, "can we please drop this conversation?"

"No, it's far too interesting," Kenny delighted in the perverseness of the conversation, "Butters is going to tell us about the lengths and breadths of South Park."

"No fellas, I won't!"

"Just give us an estimate," Kenny encouraged him, "I mean was Kyle born lucky? Or very lucky? Or very, very lucky?"

Pip shook his head and looked Stan right in the eye, "Tripod?"

Stan coloured and then stormed off in response, "Screw you guys. Grow up for fuck sake!"

"Come on dude!" Kenny chased after his mighty protector, "we're only teasing."

All of a sudden Stan stopped in his tracks. Kenny almost banged right into him, unable to see around the other teenager when several hands abruptly grabbed him and shoved him into the nearest open locker, closing the door over a little. Kenny was skinny enough to fit but his temper swelled at being stuffed so unceremoniously into the enclosed space. He was about to give the others a piece of his mind when…

"Did I just smell a shitty little ghetto rat?" Cartman's voice asked.

Kenny peered though the gap at his former best friend. He was taken aback at Cartman's appearance. While Eric didn't appear too different there was something slightly different in how he held himself. Eric used to slump his shoulders forward a little, only keeping his chin held arrogantly high. Now he seemed alert, straight and proud and Kenny feared that was because Cartman was rearing up for another Kenny-beating.

"I haven't seen him dude," Stan shrugged and smiled at Kyle who stood at Cartman's shoulder. Kyle smiled back and raised a hand in greeting.

"He better not show his face," Cartman growled.

"He's still gotta pass high school like you," Stan pointed out, "he can't stay off school forever."

"Yeah, well hopefully he'll drop out like the ghetto trash he is and leave room for people that have a future."

"You take up enough room already, Cartman" there was a hint of warning in Kyle's voice and some of the anger in Eric's face cleared. Kyle was obviously trying to keep him on a short leash.

"You're pretty mellow though compared to the other day," Stan was suspicious, "what have you been up to?"

A frightening yet loving expression now filtered in Cartman's features and he let out a very un-Cartman happy sigh, "I kissed her."

"YOU WHAT?" Stan bellowed.

"I kissed Wendy," here was the reason for Cartman's strange new pride then.

"Did…." Stan seemed to be searching for the words, "Did she… kiss you back?"

"Well not exactly."

"Not exactly?!"

"I kissed her," Cartman explained, "and even though she didn't kiss back… she didn't punch me."

Kenny knew Eric had fancied Wendy but there was something really quite scary in a completely love struck Eric Cartman.

"Were you expecting her to punch you?" Pip asked, bemused.

"Well… yeah."

Kyle had to cover his mouth with his hands to stifle a chuckle.

"And she didn't punch me," Cartman grinned, "You guys, she didn't punch me!"

"I hate you so much," it was Stan's turn to growl.

"Ha ha! Hate me all you like!" Cartman's smile only grew bigger, "I still kissed your girlfriend. Take that, queer bait!"

Kyle punched Eric in the side, "Stop calling Stan gay, for fuck sake."

"I'll call him whatever I want to, Jew," Cartman's voice was beginning to fade as if he was walking away. He was following Kyle, heading off to class. All thoughts of Kenny had obviously vanished from Stan's mind as he too went after the pair, leaving the three blondes left behind. Butters then shrugged and left for his own class.

Pip opened the locker and smiled down at Kenny, "Sorry about that."

"You better be!" Kenny grumbled and tried to slide out of the locker but having some trouble.

Pip watched him struggle before yanking him clear of the metal.

"Hey Ken," Pip began, "I was thinking. You don't have a date for this stupid prom thing right?"

"I'm not taking a guy if that's what you want," Kenny replied, crossing his arms over his chest, not feeling particularly generous towards the young British man for being stuck in the locker, "I'm not that bi-sexual."

"No, don't be stupid," Pip frowned, "I just wondered… as friends? It's not like I can take anyone. The staff would probably kick me out if I brought someone not wearing a dress."

"Friends?"

"You know," Pip looked a little uncomfortable, "like Stan and Kyle would do if neither had a date."

Kenny raised an eyebrow, "Are we talking about the same Stan Marsh?"

"Kenny, you fucking arsehole," Pip grumbled, "You know fine well what I mean! I just want company. You don't need to be such a chicken shit about it."

"Sure we can go as friends," Kenny shrugged, "But I still want Bebe. I'm still going to get Bebe."

Pip smirked, "Oh? You're going to try and steal her from the circumcised tripod then?"

"Definitely. Kyle might have a great ass and a…. but I've got technique. I'm much manlier than he is. And Bebe likes me more anyway"

"I think Kyle is more than enough man for the likes of Bebe," Pip shook his head and looked up the corridor where Stan had disappeared, "Want me to fetch him for you?"

"Yes please," Kenny said, "I don't want to be caught alone with the fatass."

Pip disappeared amongst the throng of students, searching for the elusive Stan Marsh while Kenny leaned against the open locker. He stared at the floor, angry with himself for being such a douche bag to Pip and relying on Stan Marsh to get him from class to class unbruised. It just seemed like everything was going wrong for him recently. Ever since he had taken that money from Craig.

He was a little upset that he had missed such a momentous moment in his ex-best friend's life as well. It should have been him that Eric talked so proudly to. Now he was nothing but a cockroach. A stupid, nearly mother-fucking asshole.

He really wanted to make it up to Eric. He did not have a clue how yet but it would have to be something really big for breaking the biggest rule in the dude rulebook. It was like the single most important commandment in a guy's world; you do not fuck around with your best friend's mother, sister, cousin, female best friend or a potential girlfriend. You either keep it in your pants or you leave town, because as far as sentencing such an unscrupulous individual went, you'd be talking about 20 years to life in social damnation.

And Kenny did not want to have to wait til his thirties to get the chance to be friends with Eric again. He missed the big, fat fuck. Cartman was an asshole but he could be pretty funny and had rare moments of generosity that made Kenny's life so much more bearable. Cartman looked after his own as well, and Kenny was only beginning to realise now that it was better to have Cartman on your side then have his hatred, anger and malicious scheming pointed straight at you.

He wondered if he just missed the idea of having a best friend. Cartman and Kenny had became best friends by default after Stan and Kyle formed their mutual admiration society so perhaps their friendship had meant nothing at all. Perhaps it was just a façade and Kenny just wanted someone in his life that he could label a best friend.

No… he wanted Eric. And not having him around sucked donkey balls.

Kenny needed his best friend in the twenty minutes after Pip disappeared. The corridor was now deserted and he had slid down the side of the locker to sit on the floor, not caring about going to class. He was wallowing in his angst like a little pussy when a shadow fell across his path. He looked up and saw a dark haired young man.

"Hey Stan," Kenny blinked, slightly blinded by the garish fluorescent lighting. He tried to focus and froze when he saw who it was.

Craig snarled down at Kenny, looking quite odd without his usual Lollerskates blue hat. He reached out and grabbed a fistful of Kenny's hair, pulling the smaller boy to his feet. Kenny tried to pull out of his grip but Craig had too strong a grip and pulling away only made Kenny's scalp burn in pain.

"Get up you little fucker," Craig pushed Kenny against the locker, letting go his hair and gripping Kenny's jaw instead.

"What the fuck Craig?" Kenny struggled, "let me go!"

Craig squeezed Kenny's jaw painfully and bashed the back of Kenny's head against the metal, "You're not going anywhere. You owe me big time."

"Listen, Craig," Kenny rasped, barely able to speak, "the bet is off. I don't want to do it anymore. I'll give you back your money."

Craig bashed Kenny's head against the locker again, "I don't want my fucking money back. But you still owe me."

"I don't want to do it!" Kenny protested and tries to kick Craig in the shin but it had little effect.

"So your fat bastard friend thinks he's better than me, huh?" Kenny didn't have a clue what Craig was talking about, "he thinks he can make a bitch out of me? I don't fucking think so."

Kenny struggled for a breath.

"You're still going to get those pictures," Craig hissed at him, his expression terrifying, "you're going to get those pictures of his mom and I'm going to be the one to make a bitch out of him. And you're going to fuck her too, just to stick it in his fat fucking face!"

"His mom, dude… come on."

"Did or did I not give you a hundred dollars in advance?" Craig asked and letting go of Kenny's jaw he took an even firmer hold on Kenny's wrist instead.

"If you're wanting to pay back that hundred dollars without fucking his mom," Craig said, "you're going to pay it back like this." He pushed Kenny's wrist up in a painful angle and kept pushing, the pain was unbearable, "Every single dollar of the hundred dollars is going to be one of your bones. Your spine can be $10, your neck can be $15."

Kenny whimpered and pushed Craig away, holding onto his poor wrist, "you sick fuck… I haven't done anything to you!"

"No, but your ex-best friend did. And as far as I'm concerned, you're still his little bitch and I'm still going to take it out on your ass," Craig pulled back his right fist and thrust it forward, connecting with Kenny's nose.

Kenny saw stars, feeling the blood drip down his face and down the back of his throat. He mentally cursed and grabbed his face when Craig grabbed his head and knocked it into the locker, once, twice, then a third time. Kenny sank to the floor in agony, unable to see, losing all his breath when he felt the sharp kick to his chest.

"Going to scream for your fat friend?" Craig asked although Kenny could barely hear him, "he's not going to come running for your scrawny ass anymore is he?"

Kenny held his chest, desperately trying to suck oxygen into his lungs. He couldn't scream even if he had wanted to.

"You're going to take pictures of his mother, the freak that she is," Craig spat, "and you're going to give them to me, aren't you? If you don't I'll break every single one of your bones."

Kenny wanted to retreat to the safety of his bedcovers. He had known it was a bad idea to escape that refuge.

He looked up into the other boy's face and could only nod, unable to speak. Craig smirked and grabbed a hold of Kenny. For a moment he thought Craig was going to pull him to his feet and their fight would be over but that was not the case.

"See you around McCormick," Craig pulled the empty locker open again and shoved Kenny into it face first, the scrawny kid stuck in the enclosed space. Craig closed the locker door with a bang and locked it.

Kenny shivered in the darkness, unable to breathe, unable to see. He could scream now but would anyone even hear him?

He mentally kicked himself. If Cartman had still been his friend… then he'd never be stuck in here.

"Some knight in shining armour you are, Stan Marsh," Kenny whispered bitterly.


READ AND REVIEW PLEASE

The amazing Seaouryou drew fanart for me based on this fic and she gave Craig his trademark hat but with Lollerskates written across it. So I've kept that just as a salute to her. I don't want to change it at all.