by Ben Barrett

Butters sat in front of Stan's house, crying bitterly into his hands. It was midnight, and everyone in the dwelling behind him was sound asleep in their beds, unaware that he was even out there. It was exactly the same as it had been for the last few months he had been doing this. He didn't mind. He wasn't doing it to be noticed anyway. He did it because his heart had been broken into pieces, and this was where he came to deal with it.

A cold wind blew, chilling him down to the bone, but he made no effort to pull his jacket closed or to get up off the cement and seek shelter somwhere. Why should he? Nobody would really care if he was dead, would they? All his life, he had been the one everyone had made fun of, tortured, and abused. If he were to die, they'd just shrug it off and find another victim. They didn't love him.

If I were to sit here and freeze to death, he thought, the only witness would be the old man in the moon.

Yet even the man in the moon--or the rabbit on the bicycle, depending on your point of view--was gradually hiding himself from Butters tonight behind a heavy blanket of oncoming stormclouds. They'd be bringing another batch of snow, no doubt. It was one of the few things that South Park always seemed to have in abundance.

I could just sit here and let the snow cover me. They'd find me here stiff and blue in the morning and just throw me into a hole.

Butters was so lost in his own self-pity that he never noticed the figure step out of the front door and shuffle quietly toward him. It didn't even register when the person stood behind him and looked down at him, his shadow in the vanishing moonlight falling over Butters like a blanket. The brokenhearted boy only realized there was someone else with him when he felt a gentle tap on the shoulder.

"Wha...!" he exclaimed, jumping in surprise. He turned his head and saw Stan there, holding a steaming cup and smiling down at him. "Stan!"

"Hey, Butters," he said. "You looked awfully sad and cold out here by yourself. Thought you might like some cocoa."

Butters was touched. He reached out and took the cup gratefully, loving the feeling of warmth instantly returning to his fingers.

"Thanks," he said.

"I also brought you this," he said, indicating a blue blanket he had draped over his arm. He took it and put it gently around the other boy's shoulders.

"How did you know I was out here?" Butters asked.

"When I get up to take a piss and see someone sitting in front of my house, it tends to send up red flags for me," Stan said, smiling at him and sitting down next to him on the curb.

Butters looked him up and down. God, even at sixteen he was still as boyishly beautiful as ever. He had a deceptively delicate figure that disguised the quarterback muscle within, as well as gorgeous blue eyes that were accentuated by long, almost girlish eyelashes. He was a truly attractive individual, and Butters felt as if he could stare at him for hours, taking in every little detail, and maybe undressing him with his eyes. Deciding that it might be a little bit rude to do so, he hid his face in his cocoa.

"You never noticed before," Butters said quietly.

"What do you mean?" Stan asked, cocking an eyebrow at him. God, he was so sexy when he did that! "Just how long have you been spending your nights sitting here in the cold?"

"I'd rather not say," came the reply.

"That long, huh?"

Butters nodded his head in an embarrassed kind of way, and Stan's heart went out to him. True, the two of them had never really been what you might call really close friends, but they were friends nonetheless. That he had been sitting here night after night for God knows how long, dealing with his pain in such a self-destructive way, was awful.

"Why, Butters?" Stan asked. "Why do you do this?"

"I'd...rather not say."

"Come on," he prodded. "It's okay."

"No, it's not okay," Butters said sadly. "If I tell you, you'll just end up hating me like everyone else does. You'll take your cocoa and your blanket and you'll go back inside, and..."

Butters started to cry again, and couldn't finish what he had been saying. He cried hard enough to make his body heave with the force of it. Stan scooted closer to him and put a comforting arm around his shoulders. He pulled him snug against him and sat there silently, waiting for him to get it all out of his system.

Oh God, Butters thought. He's hugging me. He's actually pulled me against his body and he's holding me! Oh God, oh God, oh God!

He had dreamed of this for so long. Never mind that it wasn't the same circumstances he saw in his head. The fact that Stan was holding him, actually holding him, made him feel so good. He felt his crying began to cease as an outpouring of exquisite happiness filled him.

"There now," Stan said, taking notice. He pulled a tissue from his pocket and handed it to him. Butters accepted it gratefully and began dabbing at his eyes and nose. "Now how about you tell me what's bothering you, huh?"

"Stan..." Butters said. "I don't...I mean...I can't."

"How come?" the other replied. "Even after all I've done tonight to show you I'm your friend, you still think I'm going to turn on you?"

Butters looked up into Stan's face. God, he wanted so badly to just ease toward him and kiss those big, beautiful lips. He wanted to connect with him, taste him, breathe him in, like he had fantasized about thousands of times before. He had spent countless nights in bed dreaming about making out with Stan (and sometimes making love to him) until his member pushed painfully against his pajamas.

If he only knew how many times I've cried his name as I've climaxed.

Oh, but these were bad thoughts.

"Don't guess so," Butters said softly, still looking deeply into Stan's eyes.

"Then tell me," Stan replied with a smile.

One thing about Stan was that he had a lot of charisma. He could talk a person into just about anything. Nevermind how tight a jam he was in or what he needed done, when he turned on the charm he almost always got what he wanted.

"Okay," Butters said, unsure of how to start. How do you confess to being in love with someone who most definitely does not reciprocate? "I guess...the problem is...that..."

He bit his bottom lip unsurely. He was afraid to go on. God, what if Stan hated him for this? What if he didn't hate him but it made things so awkward that it destroyed their friendship anyway?

"Stan," he said, taking a sip of his cocoa, "this is really hard for me to say. Uh, I guess...what I mean is...I' love...with you."

The smile vanished from Stan's face, and Butters just knew that he was going to punch him, bust his nose, and leave him in the street to die.

"How long have you felt this way, Butters?" Stan asked.

"Since sometime around seventh grade," he replied. "I never told you...because I was afraid. I just kept putting it off and putting it off, saying that I'd do it soon."

He was on the verge of crying again, as all of the frustrations of the last four years came tumbling out of him in a great tidal wave.

"After a couple years went by," he continued, "you started going out with Kyle, and you two seemed to be made for each other. You really seemed happy together."

Stan nodded in reply, and Butters took it as his cue to go on.

"I didn't want to get in the way or nothin'," he said. "I didn't want to ruin things. I kept quiet, but never stopped hoping that maybe one day you'd notice me."

The tears were flowing freely now.

"You never did," he said.

"Butters..." Stan said sadly.

"No, Stan!" Butters cried. "You wanted me to tell you this, so let me finish!"

"All right."

Butters took a deep breath. The next part was going to be the hardest to tell.

The day everything went to hell, Butters went by to see Stan. He thought maybe they could do a little catching up, maybe go out to lunch as buddies. Despite everything, he still liked Stan a lot.

He approached the house and knocked on the door softly. Nobody answered, but it swung slightly open at his touch. He found this extremely odd, considering the Marsh family never left their house open like that. When they were gone, the doors were locked and the security system was turned on.

Thoughts flashed through his head of the family laying inside, hacked to pieces by an axe-wielding maniac. There was so much blood, oh so much blood, and there were flies buzzing about, going in and out of their open mouths and landing on their lifeless eyes. God, it was terrible, and he forced the thought from his mind with a shudder. There was probably a perfectly logical explanation for this. They probably meant to lock the door, and just didn't pull it closed all the way.

He walked in, just to be sure. He didn't want to be a prowler or anything, but he just had to make sure everything was okay. After all, what kind of friend would Butters be if he didn't watch out for those he cared about?

No friend at all, that's what.

At first, he didn't notice anything unusual. It was just the same old house it had always been, except of course that it was totally dark and empty. He was just getting ready to turn and walk out when he heard somebody moving around upstairs. He was immediately on guard again. What the hell was going on? Why would there be someone upstairs when the family had obviously closed the place up and left? It had to be a burglar, or maybe a terrorist. Oh yeah, his dad had warned him about those darn terrorists.

"Butters," he had told him, "always beware of strange noises. They're almost always caused by terrorists."

Oh, golly. A real life Al Keedo in Stan's house. He walked slowly toward the stairs, determined to do something about it. He wasn't sure what that something was, but he sure wasn't gonna let no Afghani asshole blow nothin' up in South Park. He climbed the first few steps, and found that he could actually hear voices up there as well. One of them giggled and started grunting in one of those Middle Eastern languages. Hebrew or Pakistani or some shit.

What the hell is going on?

He got to the top of the stairs and realized that the sounds were actually coming from Stan's room. God, what if they were holding Stan hostage in there? He could be in real trouble.

"Oh, God!" he heard Stan cry. It sounded as if they were torturing him.

He tiptoed forward and put his face up against the door, which was slightly ajar. If he was gonna pull off a rescue mission, he thought it would be a good idea to scope out the situation before attempting anything. It wouldn't be much help if he were to get himself shot by charging in like a fool. No, he needed to make a plan, and to do that he needed to know what he was up against. Would there be a handful of terrorists? Would there be thirty? A hundred? Would they have bombs? He had to know these things first.

He looked in cautiously. What he saw caused his heart to break into a million pieces all over again. Kyle was there, his back to the door. He was completely nude and gliding slowly up and down Stan's shaft. Stan was having the time of his life, moaning with delight, his balls bouncing with each thrust of his hips.

"God, Stan!" Kyle cried. "Yes!"

"Kyle!" Stan moaned in reply. "I love you, Kyle!"

Butters turned away and ran out of the house with tears in his eyes. He didn't stop running until he reached the solitude of his own room, where he threw himself down onto the bed and sobbed into his pillow for hours.

"My God, Butters," Stan said softly.

"I've never felt pain like that before, Stan," Butters said, staring down into his now empty mug.

The tears threatened to come again, and Butters fought like hell to keep them in. He didn't want to cry anymore. He wanted to try and be strong in front of Stan, the way that Kyle always seemed to be. Kyle would never cry like this, or show such weakness. Kyle was masculine, Kyle was independent, and most importantly, Kyle was Stan's. Maybe it would do him some good to be like him, and less like sorry, pathetic Butters Stotch.

He felt Stan's arm go around him again in another embrace, and he melted.

"I'm so sorry," he sobbed, throwing himself against Stan and sobbing loudly into his chest.

"There, there," Stan said, holding him tightly. "It's all gonna be okay, Butters."

"I love you, Stan," Butters whispered.

"I know you do."

Stan held him until he fell asleep crying in his arms. The first rays of morning light were just beginning to streak the sky when he kissed the boy gently on the top of his head and carried him into the house.