Disclaimer: Disclaimed. Standard Disclaimers Apply. Characters are not mine. Take your pick.

A/N: Inspired by a few songs, and a picture on deviant art I saw once. It just…kind of grew from there…^^. First South Park fic, and slash to boot, too.

Sweetness by Shuramai

Butters is afraid of the dark.

He is seventeen years old, and afraid of the dark. Not two, of five, or heaven forbid, fourteen. It would be nice to turn back the clock and still be that age, and not an age where childish things seem ridiculous, and adult things sound boring.

He glances at the nightlight, telling himself that he'll change it into something more age appropriate, something plain. Not a firefly with a smiley face, for christsakes.

Annoyed, he glances up at the ceiling, and closes his eyes. Shifts to his side, bats a stuffed animal away, rumples the bedcovers. Finally glances at the alarm clock on his nightstand, which is innocently proclaiming that it is nearly midnight.

And it's a school night, his mind taunts. Not a weekend, where you can sleep somewhat late.

"Be quiet, you," Butters snaps, and then wonders if it is at all normal for anyone, let alone his age, to speak to their brain as if it is separate from their body.

And what if brains were separate from people's bodies? What if they were people? They would be awfully squishy, gross people, though. With tentacles. And what if they became like zombies, and ate people--?

There is a tap at the window.

Butters shrieks, and nearly topples off his bed.

Somewhere in the house, his dad yells drowsily at Butters to go back to sleep, or he'll be grounded. Which is typical, really. The boy was misbehaving, of course. Not about to get possibly raped in his own bed by a weirdo who is trying to sneak in through his window. Jesus-Christ-Mary-and-Joseph, no.

Through a tangle of limbs and bed sheets, Butters spies the silhouette of Kenny McCormick, minus hood, hands pressed against the window, trying to peer in. He taps again.

Butters wonders if Kenny saw him fall off the bed and lose any last shred of masculinity he possessed. Probably, he guesses, and his cheeks are tinged crimson when he finally cracks open the window, and tries pull Kenny through to his room

Kenny doesn't budge, though, even from his precarious perch on one of the branches of the tree outside of Butters' window.

"Hey," he says, his smile so wide it takes up most of his face. "C'mon. We have somewhere to go." He outstretches his hand, as though Butters is a damsel in distress in a possibly Shakespearian play.

"Huh? Wha--?"

"We are going somewhere," Kenny repeats. The grin has not left his face. In fact, if it's possible, it gets wider, eyes flicking towards the corner where his nightlight is. "Fireflies?"

Butters glances back at his nightlight, and his eyes flick back towards his bedroom door, what would his parents think?, and--

"It's a surprise," Kenny continues. The moonlight catches through his blonde hair, and he still has one hand outstretched.

Butters thinks for a moment.

"Okay. Just let me get dressed."

He figures that sneaking out to do whatever with Kenny will get him grounded, if his parents find out. He guesses that he'll have to climb down that tree with Kenny, which will be difficult, as he's afraid of heights, and climbing back up will be just as worse.

He might break his nose, he might not make it back on time, before his mother knocks on his door to make sure he's up and ready for school the next day.

"We'll come back soon," Kenny promises, as though he has now gained the power to read minds. "I just want to show you something."

Can't it wait?, Butters wants to ask, but since he doesn't want to hurt Kenny's feelings, or worse, piss him off, he keeps his mouth shut. He takes his pajama bottoms off and yanks on his jeans, snatches his favorite hoody from the chair at his desk. Shoes on, he crawls over the bed, finally grasping Kenny's hand in his own, tightly.

They make it down the tree, somehow.

Butters nearly falls a few times. Kenny does fall, but somehow, his own jacket saves him from certain death, snagging on a few tree branches, and Kenny skids onto the ground. Unharmed, and apparently unshaken, he persuades Butters to jump the last few feet to the ground, and catches him, when he does.

"Is it real far?" Butters wonders, thinking out loud. "I mean," he stammers, when Kenny turns his attention to him, "I just don't want to be grounded."

"You kinda always are," Kenny replies, as they make their way through the relatively ice free sidewalk. "Come on, Butters. Just live a little, for once. How long could they ground you for?"

For the rest of my life, he wants to say, but doesn't. It's too late to go back now, he's sure his father will see the footsteps in the snow below his window. If he's going to be grounded, it may as well be for something.

They walk their way past their little neighborhood, through patches of ice and under the branches of broken trees. Once they'd get into the part of South Park that was populated with shops, the stars would be dimmer to see, but now they could see them clearly through the dark night sky.

"We're close," Kenny assures Butters. Somehow, somewhere between their little journey to from Butter's house to nowhere, Kenny had latched onto Butter's hand. And if they were in school, this would be a bad thing, something that would make them the target of bullies, or something that would alienate them from everyone else.

Butters squeezed Kenny's hand, tightly. Kenny's smile reappeared, and he squeezed back.

And they kept walking.

Instead of walking into town, as Butters had thought, they ended up at Stark's Pond.

Which shouldn't have been too surprising--this was, after all, Kenny's hangout. The place that he and a few of his other friends used to ditch school and waste time fishing.

Butters shivered slightly.

Kenny took a deep breath, spread out his arms, and motioned towards the Pond, in a vaguely dramatic gesture.

"What were you trying to show me?" Butters huffed. He tried to keep the annoyance out of his voice, but it was difficult. This was some sort of prank. Eric Cartman had to be hiding from view somewhere, ready to spring into action, wiffle bat in tow.

A shiver crept up his spine.

"I need to tell you something. I had to bring you out here."

"What is it?"

Kenny stared at him, his normally light blue eyes dark in the shadows. He fiddled with his hood, and looked like for a moment he was going to put it over his head, like when they were kids and nobody really knew what Kenny McCormick looked like because he had his hood on most of the time.

For a second, he opened his mouth, as if to speak, and then shut it, lips a thin line. He clenched his fists, and then lunged at Butters.

Ho shit, he's going to kill me and dump my body in the lake--Butters's eyes closed shut in an instant, already predicting he was going to die a painful, bloody death. Because Kenny had died so many times, that he wasn't afraid of bullies or getting beat up, and the last fight he'd been involved in, the other guy had been taken to the hospital, and Kenny had been expelled from school for almost two months.

Yep, he was dead, no doubt about it.

That was why he was so surprised to feel arms around him, holding him tightly in a hug, Kenny's head nuzzling the top of his hair.

"Goddamn it, Butters," Kenny was saying, mumbling into his hair. "It's so fucking easy to hook up with somebody, anybody, but when it comes to you--you're so clueless. And I don't know just how to--"

Kenny's voice trailed off, but his grip tightened.

Butters, on the other hand, was speechless.

Just…what? What was going on? Did…his mind went blank. Why was Kenny hugging him? It was so out of character, that he had to pause and wonder why one boy would hug another, under any circumstance. The next thoughts that flashed through his mind were absurd, but…

Did Kenny like him or something? Like, like him? Like-like? As in a significant other? A boyfriend?

The bottom of his stomach churned, in a good way. Like butterflies, and he was reminded of asking Stan, when they were kids, if the whole reason he threw up around Wendy was because he felt butterflies in his stomach or something. To which Stan had glared and turned a bright red, and ignored him.

"Bu-But how?" Butters stammered. This couldn't be happening. Stuff like this didn't happen to him--

"I don't know how. Or why." Kenny had not let go of him, not yet. "It's just…I can't keep it quiet anymore. And I really, really didn't want anyone overhearing us at your place, and it's not like I could've told you anything at my house either. I couldn't tell you at school, because someone would overhear us--"

"How long ago?" His throat felt dry, and he couldn't help but hug Kenny back. Kenny, who'd he'd known back in elementary school and hell, probably preschool, if he could remember back that far.

"About a year." Shakey laugh. "It's just…dammit. We have prom coming up, we graduate in about a month--and then, we'll be split up. I just--I had to tell you something."

Butters closed his eyes, breathed deeply, trying to calm himself down.

"I didn't know you felt the same way," he finally confessed. He hoped this wasn't a prank, hoped it wasn't something set up by Kenny and his friends, something to make fun of him. They'd always picked on him when they were kids, not in a really mean way, at least, not Stan, Kenny and Kyle, at any rate. Joked about him being gay, because he seemed too sensitive or effeminate.

He didn't dare tell them that they'd been right.

Kenny was quiet, and they stood still, arms still encircling the other. Eventually, they broke apart, but didn't back away.

"What do we do now?" Butters said, his voice soft and uncertain in the cool air between them. He felt mildly lightheaded. Nervous. It was Kenny, just Kenny, and--

"I know," Kenny's breath misted in the air, a smile spread across his face, into his eyes. Before Butters could ask exactly what that was, he felt lips on his own, in a chaste, sweet kiss.

This was so worth a grounding.