The next morning, Stan wakes up extra early to the alarm clock. He rushes into the bathroom, rushes out with a few squares of toilet paper stuck to his foot, and goes to the room where Charlie SHOULD be sleeping. He takes out the pillows and, when the alarm goes off, he switches it off himself. A few seconds later, a knock comes at the door.

Sharon (from outside): Charlie? You awake?

Stan as Charlie: Um… yes! But don't come in! …Um… I'm not decent!

Sharon: Okay, are you going to shower this morning?

Stan as Charlie: Um, okay!

He puts on the robe and towel (covering his hair) in Charlie's room, holds up a book so that his face is hidden, and walks out of the room. Sharon is walking in the opposite direction down the hall, not paying too much attention.

Stan as Charlie: Morning, Mrs. Marsh.

Sharon: Morning, Charlie.

Stan hurries into the bathroom and gets in the shower himself, then exits the bathroom in the same disguise.

Stan as Charlie: Morning, Mr. Marsh.

Randy: Morning, Charlie. Reading Dante already, I see? I wish Stan would be as ambitious as you.

Behind the book, Stan looks pissed.

Stan as Charlie: Oh, I think Stan's twice as smart as me. I'm not reading this; I'm just using it to cover up my incredible hideousness. Tootles!

He runs into Charlie's room and changes into some of his own clothes in his dresser, then leaves when the hallway is clear. He grabs his backpack and runs out of the house quickly.

Stan: Bye Mom, bye Dad! Charlie's just in front of me!

Sharon: Stan, the bus isn't coming for half-an-hour!

Stan: We want to get a head-start! Bye!

At the bus stop, Stan is lying, open-eyed, on the ground when Kyle arrives. For several seconds, Kyle stands next to his friend, looking a bit confused.

Kyle: ...Dude. What are you doing?

Stan: I'm cold. I'm tired. I'm hungry. And I've been here for half an hour.

Kyle: Why?

Stan: Long story. Don't want to talk about it.

Kyle: By the way, where's Charlie?

Stan: She ran away last night.

Kyle: Dude! Why would she do that?

Stan: 'Cause she's an unappreciative little bitch. I spent all morning covering for her so my parents don't know she's gone.

Kyle: Why don't you just tell them so they can find her?

Stan: 'Cause I'm already grounded. If they knew she was gone, they'd probably double it.

Kyle: Why are you grounded in the first place?

Stan: For telling Charlie that she's an unappreciative little bitch. But that's really not so bad for me to say...because she is. She totally is.

Kyle: This is about sharing Shelly's room, isn't it?

Stan shudders. Kenny and Cartman walk up.

Kenny: (Dude. What are you doing?)

Stan: I'm cold. I'm tired. I'm hungry. I've been here for half an hour. And I have the strangest sense of déjà vu.

Cartman: You think that's bad? My mom had to leave before she gave me breakfast just to take Becca to pre-school. Little kids suck ass.

Kyle: Really, Cartman? 'Cause it seemed for awhile like you actually LIKED her.

Cartman: You're crazy, dick-wad. I hate little kids, especially ones that come into my house and play with my toys. Which is what Becca did. Stupid little bitch.

The bus arrives. The boys get on, and Stan is shocked to see Charlie sitting next to Butters.

Stan: Charlie? What are you doing here?

Charlie: I didn't want to come, but Mrs. Stotch said truancy is a crime and kicked me out.

Kyle: Charlie?

Charlie: Hi, Kyle.

Kyle: So, I heard you ran away.

Charlie: Yup. My life on the high-road is just beginning.

Butters: It started at my house. We had a sleepover and I got to stay up extra-late. Is that cool or what?

Stan: You ran away to Butters' house?

Charlie: Kyle, tell Stan I'm not speaking to him anymore. And that, yes, I did run away to Butters' house 'cause he was the first one who actually let me in.

Kyle: Stan, Charlie says—

Stan: I heard her, Kyle! Listen, Charlie, you have to come home after school! I had a hard enough time covering for you; my parents don't know you ran away yet! And you can't just stay at Butters' house.

Charlie: Kyle, tell Stan that I like Butters better than him and I'd rather live at his house.

Kyle: Stan, Charlie says—

Stan: Damn it, I heard what she said!


Kyle and Stan sit next to each other across from Butters and Charlie.

Stan: Charlie, if you don't come home after school, then so help me God, I will personally come to Butters' house and kick your head in.

Butters: Um, Charlie, I-I think you should go home. My mom'll get pretty mad if we get blood stains all over the carpet and I'm already grounded.

Charlie: Stay out of this, Butters. Kyle, tell Stan that I'd like to see him try.

Kyle: Stan, Charlie says—

Stan: Stop doing that, Kyle! Charlie, you need to come home or my parents are going to kill me!

Charlie: So what? You can have your room back now.

Stan straightens up, glaring at the ground. Kyle turns to Charlie.

Kyle: Charlie, Stan is glaring and mumbling to himself.

Stan: I am not!

Kyle: But he says he isn't.

Cartman: God damn it, you stinking Jew, stop doing that!

Kenny: (Kyle, Cartman says, "Goddamn it, you stinking Jew, stop doing that!")

Kyle: I heard him, you asshole!

Stan: Kenny, Kyle says he heard Cartman.

Pip: I think I'm speaking for everyone on this bus when I say, "Cut it out."

Stan, Kyle, Kenny, Cartman, and Charlie: Shut up, Pip.

Later that day, at school, the kids are doing silent reading. Mr. Garrison is grading papers. Stan crumples up a scrap of paper and throws it at Charlie. She turns around and glares at him.

Stan (whispering): PLEASE come back.

Charlie: No!

Stan: I promise not to yell at you anymore!

Charlie: I don't want to come back.

Stan: Why not?

Charlie: I'm tired of living here. I think I'm going to hitch-hike to Nashville.

Stan: What?

Mr. Garrison: Shut up, you little pussies! It's silent reading time!

They go back to their books. After a minute, Stan looks up.

Stan: Psst! Charlie!

Charlie glances up at him and shakes her head.

Stan: Charlie!

Mr. Garrison: Stan, stop talking to your little girlfriend and read the goddamn book!

Stan: She's not my girlfriend!

Wendy suddenly looks up, glaring. She scribbles on a piece of paper, folds it into a paper airplane, and shoots it to Charlie. She misses and it lands on Craig's desk. He opens it up.

Note: Back away from my man, whore! Love, Wendy

Craig glances up at Wendy. Wendy shakes her head and points to Charlie. Craig nods and passes it to her. Charlie opens up the note and reads it. She glances at Wendy, who glowers at her. Charlie crumples it up and throws it at Stan.

Stan: Ouch!

Mr. Garrison: I told you to shut up, Stanley!

Stan: It's not my fault! Charlie threw something at me!

Mr. Garrison: That's it! Stanley, Charlotte, you two had better shut up right now or Mr. Hat is going to fucking lose it!

At recess, Stan is standing with Kenny, Kyle, and Cartman when Charlie walks up to them.

Charlie: Look, Stan, can I talk to you?

Stan: Well it's about fricking time.

Charlie: In private?

Cartman: Oh, come ON.

Stan: Fine, whatever.

They walk over to the side of the school.

Stan: Look, I don't care about our "friendship" or anything. I just need you to come back home so my parents don't ground me any more than I already am.

Charlie: I'm not trying to get you in trouble, Stan. But I really don't want to go back to your house.

Stan: Stop being such an unappreciative little bitch! If you want me to act all apologetic, fine! I'm sorry! Are you happy now?

Charlie: No, because that's not even the problem! I'm not trying to steal your house or your room or your mom! Do you think I want to live in your house? I want to have my own house, with a mom and a dad and Becca and Davy! But I can't! I'm stuck with you, and I'm not thrilled about it either!

Stan (after a pause): Well… I didn't think that… it was about… that…

Charlie: Of course you didn't! You didn't think at all! You just thought I strolled in and took your room! But that's not what happened! Now that my mom's in prison, and I can only guess where my dad is, I can't live with my little siblings anymore, and I'm stuck in a place where no one wants me! Last I heard from my dad, he was living in Nashville because he wanted to write country songs. So I want to run away to Nashville once I get the chance. And when I get there, we're going to come back and get my brother and sister. And we can be a family again, like yours.

Stan: …Dude. I had no idea.

Charlie starts crying.

Stan: No… dude, come on, don't… don't cry.

He awkwardly tries to give her a hug.

Charlie: And the only reason I'm telling you this is because I didn't take my medicine last night so I'm extra emotional!

She continues sobbing. Stan stares at her, then at Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny, who are watching, bewildered, from across the blacktop.

Cartman (shouting across the blacktop): Dude! Ask her if she wants to live at Kenny's house! I bet the abuse and rampant alcoholism will make her feel more comfortable!

Kenny punches Cartman in the head.

Cartman: Hey! Son of a…

Just then, Wendy walks up to Charlie and Stan, looking pretty pissed.

Wendy: Well, well, what are you two talking about way over here in private?

Charlie: None of your business.

Wendy: Well, it just so happens that Stan is MY boyfriend, so it is my business, you little slut!

Stan: Whoa, dude, just-

Wendy jumps at Charlie and starts hitting her in the head. Charlie fights back and tries to escape by punching at Wendy's stomach. They each get a few good blows in before Kyle and Kenny break it up.

Kyle: Jesus, what's going on?

Charlie (pointing at Wendy): Wendy called me a slut.

Kyle: Hey, don't call Charlie a slut! Stan, tell your girlfriend to stop calling Charlie a slut!

Stan: ...Um, stop calling Charlie a slut, I guess.

Wendy (tearing up): But… but… Charlie is trying to steal Stan from me!

The five others verbalize their disgust.

Wendy: It's true! That stupid bitch has been at him all day!

Kyle: Don't call Charlie a bitch! Stan, tell your girlfriend to stop calling Charlie a bitch!

Stan: Um, stop calling Charlie a bitch, I guess.

Charlie: Wendy, that is absolutely NOT what's happening. I'm not interested in Stan. I mean, I am DEFINITELY not interested in Stan, and I never will be. Never. I mean, EW. Gross. No way. That's… That's just disgusting.

There is a pause.

Stan: That much?

Wendy: Well, you'd better be right. I'll be watching you, whore!

Kyle: Hey, don't call Charlie a whore! [Wendy starts walking away.] Stan, tell your girlfriend to stop calling Charlie a whore!

Wendy is out of sight by now.

Stan: Stop calling Charlie a whore… uh, I guess…

They stand in silence for a few seconds, then Cartman starts laughing a little.

Stan (to Charlie): Your words are hurtful.

Charlie: Aw, come on. I just… I had to hyperbolize my sentiments to get my point across. You know? Just so that bitch knew I was serious.

Stan: Hey, don't call Wendy a bitch! Kyle, tell Charlie not to call Wendy a bitch!

Kyle: No way, dude. She's totally justified.

Stan: You're an asshole. [To Charlie] So I'm not, like, totally gross or anything, right? Like, hypothetically, you'd date me before you'd date Cartman?

Charlie: Oh, yeah, totally, no question.

Stan: Phew, that's a relief.

Cartman: Hey! Well, that's fine, I wouldn't want to date a dyke anyway! You know, your little sister is way cooler than you.

They're all on the bus ride home. Charlie sits across from Kyle and Stan and in front of Cartman and Kenny.

Kyle: So, you're really going back to Stan's house?

Charlie: Yeah, I guess.

Kenny: (Why are you going back there?)

Charlie: I don't really have anywhere else to go. Even if I got to Nashville, I probably wouldn't have ever found my dad.

Stan: Yeah, and even if I'd successfully pretended to be you for the next month, I'd still have to share a room with Shelly, and my parents would still ground me.

Kyle: I think there's a lesson we can take away from all this.

Stan: There is?

Kyle: Yeah. All families are messed up. Even ones that think they're perfect.

Charlie: That's a pretty crappy lesson, Kyle.

Kyle: Oh, sorry. I'm sure you can come up with something better.

Charlie: What about not taking what you have for granted?

Stan: That's pretty cliché.

Charlie: Morals are always clichés.

Cartman: You guys are retarded. I don't think I'll ever understand why I hang out with you.

Kenny: (Because they're the only people willing to spend time with you.)

Cartman: Well, while you present a valid point, Kenny, the sheer mass of their retarded-ness overwhelms all rhyme and reason.

Kyle: Do you guys want to come over later?

Stan: I can't. I'm grounded.

Charlie: I probably shouldn't either. I'm sort of the reason why Stan's grounded.

Cartman: I've got to babysit the goddamn preschooler.

Charlie: Hey, you'd better not use that kind of language in front of my little sister, or I'll kick you in the nuts!

Kenny: (I'll probably be dead by then.)

They all pause and look at Kenny, bewildered.

Kyle: You'll probably be dead by then? What do you think is gonna happen?

Kenny shrugs.

That afternoon after school, Charlie is back that the Marsh residence. She, Randy, Sharon, and Stan are all sitting around the table.

Stan: …So then I got up extra early and pretended to be Charlie all morning, so you guys wouldn't know she was gone. And I got out of the house early and when I got on the bus, she was there because she wound up at Butters Stotch's house and his mom made her come back to school. And we decided it'd be best to just tell you the truth about what happened. So… that was it. That's what happened.

Sharon: Well, Stanley, I'm very disappointed in you. You should have told us as soon as you knew Charlie was missing and we could have worked this whole thing out much more easily.

Stan: I know.

Charlie glances at him and then his parents, looking guilty.

Sharon, nodding to Randy: And I think extending your punishment by another week would be fair for that, wouldn't it?

Charlie: No, that's not fair.

Sharon: Charlie?

Charlie: It's my fault, Mrs. Marsh. I shouldn't have snuck out of the house. I was being a selfish jerk, taking you guys for granted. I mean, living here has been the best thing that's ever happened to me. And I spoiled it by acting like a brat and letting Stan get in trouble for my problems. He was just trying to cover for me. I was the one that ran away, not him. I don't think he should be grounded for it.

Randy and Sharon glance at each other. Stan smiles at Charlie.

Sharon: …Maybe we came down a little hard on you, Stanley. I know it's probably not easy to suddenly have to share your house.

Stan: No, it isn't.

Sharon: But it's simply not good parenting to lift a punishment under the encouragement of another child.

Stan: No, it isn't- Wait, what? That's not fair! What about Charlie? She snuck out!

Charlie: Yeah, can't you just take away his grounding and pretend none of this ever happened?

Randy: Relax, relax, I think I have a solution that'll even this whole thing out…

Two weeks later, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny are over at Stan's house. They're in his room.

Kyle: Wow, you're lucky to be back in your own room. It sucks for you that Charlie wasn't grounded though.

Stan: Honestly, I feel bad for Charlie.

Kyle: Seriously? Why?

Stan: Her punishment was way worse than grounding.

Shelly (shouting from a distance): I told you not to touch my stuff and stay in your stupid little corner, turd!

Charlie: Hey, cut it out! Ouch! Ouch! Mrs. Marsh, she's doing it again!

Shelly: Don't be such a baby, I just slapped you!

Cartman: I have to be totally honest you guys… That girl freaking scares me.

Charlie: I'm bleeding! Mrs. Marsh!

Shelly: That'll teach you to feed my goldfish when I'm not around!

Sharon: Keep it down, girls!

Kyle: I have to agree with you.

Stan: Poor Charlie.

Kenny suddenly and inexplicably explodes. The three boys stare at the pile of ashes left on the ground. After several stunned seconds of silence, Cartman sniggers.