.:Eight:.

Kenny & Chef – "Ducks"

For Aly.

A/N: This dodged the "humor" bullet big time. Like, it's kinda sad, but at least it has a decently sweet ending. ;w;

-x-

It wasn't every day that Kenny McCormick saw Chef ambling about town, and without an immaculately dolled-up woman by his side, no less. The man usually kept to himself, only making appearances in the school cafeteria on weekday afternoons or in the mayor's office when political problems arose. If South Park were more culturally diverse than it was, Kenny would've assumed it was somebody else on that street corner in the dead of night, crouching above a sewer grate as if he weren't at all worried about the impending rainfall.

Kenny stopped in the middle of the road to watch what Chef was doing, cocking his hood-covered head curiously. It took a solid two minutes before he decided to go see what was going on, since the man hadn't moved from his spot at all in that time frame.

"Chef?" his voice seemed pathetically small in the thick humidity surrounding him.

"Hm? Ah, hello there, Kenny." Chef hadn't even turned around; he knew the boy purely from his voice, then? Kenny thought that no one except Kyle and Stan could do that—he was under the impression that everyone recognized his voice due to it being muffled by his parka, but he didn't have it tied at the moment, so that couldn't have been the man's reason.

"What're you doing?" The boy chanced a step closer, though he stayed in the middle of the road as if he were taunting death.

"Trying to save this little fella."

"What is it?"

"A duck."

"A duck?"

"Yeah. It got it's little foot stuck in the grate and I think it broke it's leg, so I'm trying to get it out without hurting it any more."

The wind howling was the only response, and that was when Chef looked up from the sewer grate and settled his gaze on the purple bruise around Kenny's left eye. "What in God's name happened to you, boy? Come on over here and we'll talk about it."

The blond obeyed, stepping out of the street and joining the other on the sidewalk. Sad blue eyes came to rest on a tiny, gray, feathered thing cradled between the cafeteria worker's palms, and the only thing he could think to say was, "It's just going to die there, so why not leave it?"

Chef furrowed his eyebrows. "Now, why would I do that?"

"Some things are just destined to die."

The hard stare that Kenny felt on him suddenly went lax, and he nervously looked up to find that Chef was smiling at him. "I guess you're right. But that doesn't mean that we can't try and save them."

"It wouldn't be worth it," the blond said after a brief pause.

The other didn't miss a beat; he replied with, "Someone's life is always worth it."

"Not that ugly thing's. Even it's family left it behind."

"Sometimes family isn't very reliable."

"Don't I know it," Kenny mumbled, tucking his legs underneath him as he lowered himself from a crouch to a sitting position.

"That's where you got that shiner, eh?"

"Yeah."

"Wanna talk about it?"

"Not really."

"You gonna stick up for your folks, then?"

"No, they're not worth shit. I just don't wanna talk about it."

Chef nodded, then went completely silent for all of ten seconds before he whistled victoriously. "I got him!" He held the duck up for a moment, as if boasting to God about his victory, then lowered it back down for Kenny's wide, intrigued eyes to get a proper look at.

"You really did save it!"

"Sure did, son. I'm gonna go take it to the vet. Wanna come with me?"

"Sure!"

The man smiled as he stood, placing his free hand on the boy's back for a moment to direct him forward. "He'll be as good as new after a while."

"Are you gonna look after him?"

"Yeah, I suppose I will. And you, too, if you ever need someone to listen."

"Thanks, Chef."

"You're very welcome, Kenny."