A/N: This probably won't be too long of a fic. Maybe a few chapters. T for content and language. Trying to work on my chapter lengths and content and writing in third person again, but it's not going too good so far.
Well, anyway, this is a much more Kennycentric fic even though it revolves around a lot of other main characters in his absence at times as well. Whether it's actual slash or not is undetermined. Oh well.
Kenny tapped the brittle end of his hour-old toothpick against the kitchen table with little regard to the sound. He was aware of it though; it burned in his ears and kept him awake for as long as he needed to be. The clock was reaching almost seven in the morning. To a typical person of his age this would be a decent time to wake up for school. For Kenny, it was looking like a good time to go to sleep.
But the ticking of his toothpick held him in place. He watched the sliver of wood bob against the scarred surface of his family's table, letting his tongue dip out now and then over his lips in a prayer for hydration. His body felt hollow and his eyes were tired. His head was somewhere else entirely. There was nothing there that made sense.
The chicken clock his father had scavenged for Kenny's father's and mother's anniversary three years prior made a pitiful hum from it's place perched atop the shit-slathered stove, its voicebox battery nearly dead. Seven o'clock. It was seven in the AM. Kenny stood up from his place, leaving his toothpick in it's spot. He'd probably trip over something later and have it pierce his jugular. He would die. And the world would continue as it always did until he came back. Then time would stop again.
Blinking his eyes from their sleepless glaze, he entered the washroom, stepping over scattered beer bottles and a used condom here and there from whatever his mother and father had been doing the night before. Kenny knew; he wasn't stupid. He simply didn't care. Rubbing some smudged makeup from the bathroom mirror at the expense of his younger sister, he didn't bother wondering how she was coming to afford these little necessities today. He stared himself down, touching his face, the hollows under his eyes that were dark and dead looking, giving him the defined appearance of a man who had been through Vietnam instead of a seventeen year old high school student.
"Ken, what're you doing?"
He shifted his gaze onto his sister as she entered. Her brown hair fell in twin ponytails on each side of her head, sloppily administered in some attempt of decency likely by her own accord. Her face glowed with her make up, and she gave him a predatory stare, crinkling her nose. "Kenny, are you high?"
Kenny rolled his eyes, wiping his nose on the back of his hand and turning on the tap as he shook his head. His sister gave him a worried glance that he didn't catch as he threw water into his face. The day was young. The night was old. His sister retreated to grab her bag and jacket.
"I'm not high, Karen. I just haven't slept."
"Why the fuck not?"
His sister's southern girl draw was so strikingly similar to his mother's at times that it sent a bolt through Kenny's chest, such as now. Familiarity was something he favoured. His sister's changes has started to miff him since she'd turned eleven and started asking him how to get a boyfriend, like he would have any fucking idea what to tell her aside from "spread 'em".
"I don't fucking know."
"Kenny, go to bed."
Her voice bit into his head and he crouched down, leaning against the sink. "Karen, fuck off. I don't need this right now."
Head poking around the door, Karen eyed him and shook her head. "You know, you'd look better if you washed up more, Kenny. Why the fuck are you so depressed all the god damn time?"
Kenny turned his eyes on her seriously for the first time, morning glory irises bright around pinprick-pupils. "Maybe if you wore less fucking make up, you'd look less like a jailbait whore." Karen grit her teeth and vanished. Something rubbery and wet under the heel of Kenny's left foot made him cringe, and he stepped out of the bathroom, rubbing his foot vigorously on the worn-down excuse of a carpet before thrusting open the door to his room.
The figure that curled across his bedsheets sent a shock through his system even more powerfully than his sister's adolescence. How the fuck anyone managed to sleep in that bed was beyond Kenny. He'd prefer to sleep in the yard if it wasn't the dead of winter; anything over the sex-scented mattress and the trap spring that had killed him multiple times in his sleep mercilessly.
Stepping forward and being polite enough to use the foot that hadn't been assaulted by a used condom a moment earlier, Kenny pegged the redhead in the side, before drawing his foot back slowly to watch. Kyle was something else entirely; the shape of the other teenager hardly belonged in Kenny's abode. He was primp and neat. Like a bead of jewelry against the yellowing bedspread and the blood-stained hardwood flooring that was more like a death trap to bare feet by now. Kyle rolled and stared up at him, rubbing a tired green eye. "What?"
Kenny wondered for a moment if Kyle even knew where he was, before shaking his head, keeping his thoughts to himself. "It's seven. You gotta go to school."
"You, too." Kyle was a morning person. Kenny understood Kyle about as much as he understood calculus. For the record, that was very little. Dampening his lips once again, Kenny slumped a bit and shook his head. "Dude, I haven't slept."
"So what? All you do is sleep in class anyway. Get dressed."
Scratching a peck with an unenthusiastic roll of his eyes, the blond kicked his box of clean laundry over, toeing through the pile of clothing like it was a profession of sorts before he weeded out grey sweatpants with some off green stain on the hip and a white t-shirt. His age-old parka went over top. It didn't matter what time of the year it was. Kenny was always fucking cold.
Everything was cold compared to Hell.
"I'll get us breakfast while we're on our way."
Kenny nodded. Somewhere between their childhood and their adulthood, the lines between who needed help began to blur. Kyle's parents pressed on him from all angles to live up to impossible levels, ones unmatched to the overbearing intelligence of his prodigy younger brother. The daily frustrations became evident to Kenny. Where he used to go to Kyle's house when his family was in a state of disarray, that habit slowly dropped as Kyle's house became more violent with the Jewish boys' parents' disapproval.
Eventually, Kyle began to stay with Kenny when things got bad. It worked in both favours; Kyle had an escape, and his family was less prone to fight when they had company. Kyle payed Kenny back for his hospitality by buying him the morning meals that he would miss on regular days. Kenny didn't need to ask why Kyle thought repayment was necessary when Kenny had been staying at Kyle's house prior for years; Kyle was a generous person. His morale was beyond even Wendy Testaburger's at times. Kenny understood Kyle's giving nature about as much as he understood Kyle as a whole, but then again, Kenny had never had the pleasure of giving. He had jack shit if anything at all.
As they trudged outside into the February weather, Kenny zipped up the collar of his parka, the comforting scent of his own breath lingering in the material. On some levels it was pungent, disgusting; but it was familiar.
Kenny liked familiar.
Kyle walked close to him with a likewise familiar scent of shampoo that Kenny couldn't have identified to save his soul, and he dipped his nose over the top of his collar a bit just to enjoy the freshness. He hoped that that would be the smell pressed into his sheets when he got home after school instead of his bed's usual odour, but if Kyle couldn't absorb any of the scent from Kenny's excuse for a bed, Kenny doubted his body was willing to share it's own, either.
"What do you want?"
"I'm not really hungry, dude."
"That's the biggest piece of bullshit I've ever heard. What the hell do you want."
"Kyle? I'm serious. I don't want anything."
Kyle was taken aback; Kenny couldn't blame him. Even he was sceptical to his own desires, but it was no matter. He was being honest. His stomach felt anything but raw with hunger. Forty hours without sleep was taking a toll on his appetite and where his stomach was usually something of cast iron, today it was feeling weak and meagre. Kyle's purchases in their morning cafeteria included him regardless; by the time they were leaving Kyle had shoved a carton of orange juice in Kenny's pocket and a wrapped muffin straight down the front of his parka. Kenny fished it out uncomfortably, staring at it before holding onto it as they walked the halls. Kyle gazed him over, shaking his head.
"You don't look good at all."
Kenny gave him an irritated look as he sniffed by habit. "I told you I haven't slept. What the hell, did you think I was lying?" Kyle looked thoughtful at his muffled words while he bit at an apple, pulling his insulin case out of his book bag as they headed into the loo together.
"I guess. You don't like school."
"Can you blame me?"
Kyle shrugged, pre-occupied with the insulin pen in his hands as he attached the needle nib and prepped it, setting the dial and pressing the sliver of metal into a fold of flesh he pulled away from his stomach. Kenny couldn't bring himself to call it fat; Kyle was as wiry as they came. There was some meat on his arms and a good tone to his legs and stomach from fights any and all boys experienced in highschool, accompanied by the fact that Kyle had been the swimming type since they were kids. It was an athletic achievement for the Jew now, but it ended there. He was thin.
Kenny wished he had that kind of physique, but bordering starvation mingling with the unwillingness to do more than stare at the blank walls of his room on most days lead him to something of a bony stick-insect. This wasn't a bad thing in his eyes, being that he wasn't unattractive, but the girls didn't give him second glances unless they were drunk because of his typically shitty attitude and any self-respecting faggot in the neighbourhood didn't touch him what with his questionable hygiene. From this, Kenny found himself having sex with less than legitimate excuses for human beings, though mostly club girls. He killed himself usually after in order to regenerate into a clean, uninfected body of any disease, even with a condom. He didn't take risks on other people's lives for his own self-degradation and carelessness.
"Ken, are you even listening to me?"
Kenny glanced up from his thoughtful daze, and shook his head. "No. I think I dozed off."
Kyle cursed the lord under his breath and dipped his hands under the sink faucet. Kenny admired him in order to attempt to stay awake; somehow the fact that Kyle washed his hands even though he hadn't actually taken a piss or anything before exiting the washroom fascinated Kenny. Maybe he was more tired than he'd bargained for. Whatever, it was Kyle's fault he was here. Kyle bumped into him on his passing to the towel dispenser and crumpled the paper as he dried, tossing it into the bin. He glanced at Kenny after a moment, and Kenny glanced up with risen brows, trying to decipher his stare.
"Ken, can I ask you something?"
Kenny blinked, eyebrows disappearing under his blond fringe pressed over his face from the edge of his parka's hood. "Yeah?"
"Are you gay?"
Kyle frowned, looking disbelieving. "You didn't even think about it."
"I don't need to think about it, Kyle." Kenny hated this. The chatty and straight-forward aspect of Kyle's personality that coupled nastily with his natural curiosity. Kenny could have blamed it on Kyle being a Gemini but he didn't like to tangle himself too much in the Zodiac, even if his friend fit the role to a T.
"But you said you've had sex with a dude before," Kyle said, looking uncertain as he leaned on the wall. Kenny took this moment to pat himself down, trying lighting up a cigarette for the hell of it with his dying lighter. His last cigarette, until he robbed one from the Goth kids later by threatening to show them his dick in consequence.
"So what? I've had sex with a girl before, too, Kyle. Tons of times. You sleep in their perfume every time you lay on my mattress." Kyle looked put off by his reply and Kenny was thankful for his parka's collar, because he didn't really want Kyle to see his smirk on such a serious subject. "Why, do I look gay to you?"
Kyle stared at him and then shook his head. "It was a passing thought. I mean, you haven't dated anyone in a long time. And you just seem so unenthusiastic when a chick's talking to you."
Kenny tugged down the front of his parka at last to expose his mouth and take a drag of his cigarette when the fucking thing finally lit. "And?"
Defeat. Kenny basked in it as Kyle seemed doubtful. "Okay... I guess I'm just over-thinking things. What are you, then. Bi?"
"I'm not anything, Kyle. I do whatever the fuck I want," Kenny drawled, feeling a bit more confident now that his fix was under control. He exhaled as he tugged himself up on the second, dry sink in the washroom and stared at Kyle. "If it's a boy and I want it, I fuck it. If it's a girl and I want it, I fuck it. It doesn't make a difference to me. They're just people."
He hadn't bottomed in his life. Lady Luck would beam down and give his family the winning lottery ticket before that happened.
Kyle looked bothered, though. Kenny averted his eyes from the other boy casually, watching tendrils of smoke roll off of his tongue in taught rings that blew apart in some unseen vortex when they reached a certain height on their climb to the ceiling. Kyle remained silent before he slid down the wall into a crouch, tapping his fingers against his knees. His voice lifted and snapped Kenny to attention from another stage of dozing.
"I think I am."
Kenny blinked lazily, looking at him. "Are what?"
Kyle licked his lips anxiously, and it made Kenny uncomfortable. Seeing Kyle anxious was like dealing with a high-functioning autistic child in a busy mall; it was hard to keep track of his expressions and put them together with the shit that came out of his mouth.
"Are, like... well, like you. Like, I think I could be open-minded."
"Kyle, you haven't put your dick in anything. You don't even know what you like yet."
Kyle licked his lips and Kenny looked away, trying to keep track.
"Well, I'm pretty sure. But, um. I don't know. My mom's been dropping bombs like crazy. She's trying to hook up with other Jewish families to get me a girlfriend, and that's why I dipped to your house last night."
Kenny lost control, laughter starting to fall from him in jolly, teasing rolls. "Your mom is trying to get you into an arranged marriage? Whatever. If you're open minded you shouldn't care. It's just a girl, they aren't gonna bite you unless you slap them when they're sucking your di-"
"Kenny." He looked up with his laughter crumbling into silence. Kyle didn't look at him, fingers knotted against baggy blue jeans with more emotion than Kenny had witnessed in a while, and the blond felt concern brewing within him as Kyle continued. "I really... just, please. Try to take this seriously for a second. I'd talk to Stan about this but he's busy, and I mean, I guess I can wait if you don't care, but..."
Kenny sighed, glancing away and shaking his head as he pulled off his cigarette. "You're gay. You're totally gay."
Kyle stared, looking taken aback before staring at the floor, almost looking guilty. Kenny shook his head, half out of disbelief and half out of wonder. "I don't give a fuck. Neither does, or will, Stan. Tell your parents. If they kick you out, you can stay with me."
"Kenny, my parents feed me and you with my allowance. That muffin isn't going to be a common thing if I tell my parents. My dad, I don't know. But my mom?" Kyle's panic was enough to make Kenny sigh, and he tilted his head against the board.
"Look, your mom wants you to get a nice Jewish girl. So why don't you find a nice Jewish guy and everything will be set?"
"Kenny, you're really not helping." Kyle stood up, and Kenny could safely say that he was hurt. Could, but he wouldn't. He was trying. Really. His enthusiasm was just on low that morning.
"Kyle if you make some kind of protest toward the rights of gay people she wont even give a shit when you come out to her. Look, just relax and worry about it later. Even so, it's not like you're the only gay person in town. I mean, there's Eric. And probably Craig."
"Craig was gay the moment he decided to do Project Runway for his independent media assignment in eighth grade, dude."
"Whatever," Kenny said flippantly, waving his hand through the smoke in the air before hopping off the sink ledge and landing firmly on both feet. He shook his head. "You say I'm not helping and I try to help and you shoot it down. So deal with your homo-ness on your own or just chill and skip the day with me."
"Negative. I don't skip school," Kyle said flatly, and Kenny gazed at him, shaking his head pointedly. "Kyle, if your mom finds out you skipped and kicks you out, you won't have to worry about her judging you on being a faggot. So come on. We're going to Stark's Pond."
Kyle gave him a pained look before glancing in the mirror briefly, looking disheartened, and then following after Kenny slowly. They made it out of the school in time for an eighteen wheeler to mow the blond down in the middle of the road just south of the high school's property, and Kyle observed the mess, old tales of their childhood trying to impress on his tongue. Kenny's muffin rested in his palm from the truck's impact, speckled with blood. Kyle bit into it anyway, depression homing itself into Kyle in Kenny's absence as he sat down on the curb patiently for the body on the road to reanimate and find him seated there upon return.