It's snowing. Apparently whatever gods rule South Park don't think that a funeral is a good enough occasion for some rain, despite it being April and far too late in the year for solid precipitation. Butters is crying. White powder collects in his fluffy undercut and on the shoulders of his black suit, threatening to bury him like his best friend. Kenny’s body rests in the ground below him, and Butters is bawling his eyes out.
His father moves uncomfortably behind him.
“Butters, son, I know that Kenny was your friend, but… you don't think that maybe we should go home? Aren't you cold?”
Butters sniffs. “Okay dad. Maybe we can come out and see him again soon?”
His mom hands him a bouquet of white lilies.
“That sounds wonderful, honey,” she says.
Butters carefully lies the lilies on the freshly dug plot of land. There isn't even a headstone yet.
The Stotches load up in their station wagon and drive home. The graveyard is now empty, save for a fifteen year old boy in an orange parka. His hood’s down, and despite the gentle snowfall, no flakes are getting stuck in his dirty blond hair. They seem to be falling through it. Kenny sighs.
A week has passed since the funeral and while Butters is less prone to spontaneous bouts of sobbing, any fool can see that he's still depressed. He isn't laughing at storm clouds anymore and whatever magic his heart had been full of has drained out. His grades are beginning to slip, he's not eating, and he's sleeping even less than Tweek. People are starting to worry.
Butters doesn't eat much at lunch. He picks at his school issued “cheeseburger” with little gusto, but this may have less to do with his emotional state and more to do with the fact that school lunches are inedible. Ever observant Stan notices his friend's reluctance to chow down.
“Dude, are you all right? You've been like, really out of it all week.”
“Dude!” Kyle whacks his best friend. “Butters can grieve as long as he needs too!”
Cartman pipes up. “I'm with loverboy on this one. Butters needs to quit being lame.”
“Come on. That is not what I said.”
“I’m just saying…” Cartman tries to defend himself, if you can call it that, but doesn’t get very far before he is hit by Kyle. Never one to let things go, Cartman hits Kyle back, threatening to escalate the situation into a full blown fight. Craig speaks up before it can go too far. “Dudes.” Kyle looks up from the headlock that he has Cartman in. Craig continues. “Butters is gone.” Stan looks at Kyle, and Kyle looks at Stan. “Well shit.”
Butters ran away to the bathroom, crying. He couldn't stay in the lunchroom with his “friends”. Honestly, he just hung around with them because they were Kenny’s friends, although looking at how quickly they had dismissed his death he wasn't so sure they deserved that title. How were they so… so okay with this? One of their best friends had died! While running towards the bathroom, he unknowingly passes through a certain orange ghost. Butters shivers. Did someone open a door? He looks around, sees nothing, and continued on his beeline.
Kenny looks at the kid who had passed through his stomach. Butters was crying. Kenny follows but Butters quickly shakes him. That kid is fast.
Whatever. Kenny knows his schedule.
He hates to say it, but Kenny’s bored. There is only so much looking at teen girls changing in the locker room that one guy can take. And it's a lot. Don't get him wrong. But after four days doing nothing but looking at boobies in underwear, Kenny got tuckered out. Despite having ample time to study the various female forms that take gym in South Park high, he was an invisible, intangible entity, allowed to look, but never touch. He was Tantalus, and eventually decided to quit torturing himself. Instead of stalking the girls’ room, Kenny would stalk Butters. Usually cheerful Butters was looking so sad that it freaked him out a little bit. Was he that torn up about his death?
Kenny follows him to his sixth period class. English AP. Kenny isn't in this class. They're learning about greek epics or something. The subject matter went over his head but he was mainly there to do a Butters Suicide Watch.
He sits on the edge of Butters's desk, staring at him. He's cute. His pale blond hair reminds Kenny of a rabbit, it's so fluffy. His hair is long on top and shaved on the sides. It's the sort of hair that would be punk on anyone else, but on Butters it just endes up sort of dorky and endearing. It floats over his remarkably clear forehead and into his eyes. They're the color of the sky and almost as wide as it, although they're squinting now to read the notes off the board. Is Butters nearsighted? His eyes are rimmed with faint freckles that no one would see if they weren't two inches from his face like Kenny is. Kenny realizes how creepy he would be being if anyone could see, and backs off a bit. His arm brushes a stray pen, and instead of going through it, it clatters to the floor.
Butters snaps out of the lesson and stares at the pen on the floor. It's a simple black Bics ballpoint. Everyone has one. There is no reason why it should have jumped off the desk like that. Butters scans the room, but no one has moved. Kyle and Wendy are still flanking him, decidedly less engaged in the lecture than Butters, probably because they don't have to worry about a grounding if they get less than an A. Butters chalks it up to a draft or something. It has been colder in this room today than it usually is. He recovers his pen and goes back to the lecture.
Kenny stares at the pen that Butters just picked up off the floor. He hadn't done that. Had he? Could he? As far as he knew, being dead meant you couldn't touch anything. So what was that pen doing on the floor? Butters certainly hadn't put it there. He didn't move. Kenny decides to leave the classroom. His timing is perfect. The bell rings immediately after he starts walking to the door. Kenny pauses. He doesn't much like people walking through him. It feels weird, sort of like when you fall on your back hard mixed with a strong breeze. The next two periods fly by. Kenny stays near the back of the classrooms, not eager to repeat the pen incident, while Butters takes vigorous notes. Color coded with flashcards and flaggies. Only the best.
Soon the day ends. Butters starts to walk home. Kenny, not eager to spend another night with his grieving family, follows him. He's already being a freaky stalker ghost. May as well embrace it.
Eventually, Butters and Kenny reach the Stotch residence. After a brief scolding from his dad, (something about coffee and chili powder and how they are not on the same shelf for a reason you're grounded mister,) Butters goes upstairs to his room to work on homework. Kenny tails him like a dog. Butters shuts his door, feeds his hamsters, puts on a Katy Perry CD, and settles into his desk, ready to get his study on. Kenny sits himself down in a corner of the room, pulls some string out from his pocket (because strings have spirits too I guess) and starts playing Cat's Cradle. When you're poor you learn to play cheap string games.
First fanfic ever (woooo!) I've had fun. More should be coming within the week I think.
Butters groans. Math was never his best subject, and algebra is his worst class. The numbers don’t line up in his head. He would prefer it if he only had English. At least there you get to read cool stories about heroes and princesses and warriors. With math it’s just boring numbers and memorizing formulas. He gets halfway through a problem and gets stuck. Butters lays his head on his desk, discouraged.
From the other side of the room, Kenny notices. He gets up to check out what has freaked out Butters so.
There is a muffled thump. Butters jerks around. “What was that? Wh-who’s there?”
Kenny looks at the (thankfully) unlit Yankee candle that has hit the carpet. First the pen, now this? Twice in a day?
“What the fuck.”
Butters is frozen. “Kenny? But… you’re…”
Kenny’s gaze snaps from the candle to Butters.
“You can see me? How?”
Kenny’s confusion is nothing compared to Butters', who looks to be on the way to a meltdown.
“No. I-I'm hallucinating. The schizophrenia is- it's back or something.”
Kenny walks towards him. Puts his hand on Butters's shoulder, or near it at least. Butters shivers unconsciously.
“Butters calm down. It's me. It’s Kenny. I died. And now I'm a ghost or something.”
“This is impossible. No. Ghosts don't exist. They don't… they can’t… you're dead…”
“Yeah. I am. And I need help, Butters. For some reason, I'm not going to hell and maybe you can help me figure out why.”
Butters thinks about this. He seems to have calmed down.
“Yeah, what about it?”
“Well- well how do ya know you're not goin’ to heaven?
Kenny smiles, and lets out a laugh.
“Dude, only Mormons go to Heaven.”
Butters grins also. Then he remembers the homework on his desk, left untouched during this debacle. He sighs.
“Hey Kenny, how’re ya at math homework?”
It’s the morning. Butters spent the night sleeping and Kenny, because ghosts don’t need sleep, passed his time trying to put the candle back on the nightstand. After eight hours of practicing, Kenny had pretty much gotten the hang of it, as well as getting his grubby paws all over the various Hello Kitty figurines and a few of the paperback books dusting the room’s shelves and tables. He is now a pretty adept poltergeist, if he does say so himself. He’s even managed to pick up one of Butters's hamsters, despite much protesting from the small animal.
Butters wakes up at five fifty nine, exactly a minute before his alarm goes off, and silences it. He yawns and stretches out, and gets out of bed. “Mornin’, Ken,” he calls to the orange blob in the corner.
Kenny looks up. “Ken? Where’d that come from?”
“Oh, do ya not like it?”
“No, no it’s fine. Whatever you say... Buttercup.”
Butters blushes at this, and grabs his clothes for the day. He heads to the bathroom. Ten minutes later, he appears, trailing steam and smelling of apples. He heads down the stairs. Kenny follows. Mrs Stotch is making breakfast at the stove. Butters walks up to his mom, kissing her on the cheek.
“Good mornin’, mom. Pancakes smell good. Where’s dad?”
“Good morning, honey. Daddy left early for work.”
Kenny listens to their exchange vaguely when something sticks out.
“Hey honey, you know, it’s Friday. Did you want to go see your friend’s grave again this weekend?”
Butters doesn’t miss a beat. “Sure, mom! Sounds great.”
He takes a plate of pancakes, and sits at the table to dig into his breakfast.
Butters smiles. His mom makes the best pancakes. He almost offers some to Kenny, standing on the stairs looking shocked, but remembers that he can’t eat it. Inwardly, he shrugs and continues eating. After five pancakes, Butters is full. He checks the time. It’s six thirty. The bus comes at six forty. Butters grabs his backpack and heads for the door, but not before giving his mom an extra kiss goodbye.
Man that's a lot of dialogue in this chapter. My gosh. So there's the integration of the title. No longer just a random non-sequitur. Cool.
Kyle didn’t get much sleep last night, so he’s tired. Ike crawled into his bed at one o’clock after another nightmare and stole all the covers, then woke him up again at five forty by kicking him in the eye because the kid had somehow flipped himself upside down. At this point, Kyle decided to get ready for the day. Twenty minutes didn’t matter that much, and at least this way he would have extra time in the shower. Kyle brushes his teeth and runs a comb through his hair. Although it isn’t quite as long as it was in elementary school, these days it's long enough to tangle. He trudges downstairs. He can already feel his eye swelling. Cue Cartman making fun at the bus stop. “What’d you do, Jew boy? Run into a doorknob?” He can almost hear the mockery. Kyle rummages through the refrigerator before finding a grapefruit. He cuts it in half, sprinkles sugar on it, and settles in front of the television to tune into the news before he has to catch the bus. Apparently Canada got in to another war or something messed up like that. Kyle rolls his eyes. Only in South Park do people care what happens to random third world countries. Two summers ago he had to go to Connecticut with Other Kyle, and the news there had regular things, like robberies and murders. Kyle finishes his grapefruit and grabs his backpack. Holding Ike’s hand, the two walk to their bus stop.
Stan’s radio is blaring an alarm. Unconsciously, he whacks it and rolls back over.
Five minutes later, it goes off again. He rubs his eyes and sits up. The sun penetrates a crack in his curtains, stinging his eyes. Another day. Stan stumbles out of bed and into the bathroom, where he takes a cold shower. Shelly took all the hot water again. He lethargically brushes his teeth and goes back to his own room with a towel around his waist. Stan eyes the bed, wanting nothing more than to just climb back in and sleep the day away, but he resists that urge and gets dressed. A slightly more alert and presentable Stan walks downstairs. His dad is eating cereal.
“Morning, Stan,” he says.
“Mrng,” Stan gets out. Stan starts to pull out a bowl of his own but before he can do that his phone starts vibrating to remind him to go to the bus stop. He sighs, looks longingly at the sugar filled mess that he would have to pass up, and grabs an apple. He half waves at his dad.
“See you later.”
His dad returns the gesture, not looking up.
With that, Stan heads out to the bus stop.
Cartman’s mother gently shakes him awake. “Wake up, Sweetiekinz. I’ve made waffles.”
He swats at her. “Yeah, yeah.”
Still, he gets up. Satisfied with his alertness, Mrs. Cartman heads downstairs to let him change, which he does without much complaint. He goes downstairs where his mom has already served him a generous portion of breakfast. Cartman wordlessly takes his plate to the dinner table, where his mother has set dishes of syrup, butter, whipped cream, and powdered sugar. He takes advantage of all of these, piling his waffles high with enough carbs and cholesterol to put down a horse. When he is satisfied with the breakfast that he has ingested, he goes upstairs to brush his teeth. Two minutes later, Cartman goes back downstairs, grabs his coat, almost dodges a kiss from his mother, and walks outside to catch the bus.
When Cartman reaches the bus stop, Stan, Kyle, and Butters are already there, along with an invisible Kenny. Cartman sees the black eye that Kyle is sporting. “Nice shiner, Jew boy. What’d you do, run into a doorknob?”
Kyle looks at Stan expectantly, and Stan hands him a bill, which he pockets. Not much is said after that. Butters giggles. Cartman calls him gay. No one pays him much heed. Cartman calls them all gay. The bus rolls up. Wordlessly, they board the yellow deathtrap. The rickety old vehicle meanders down the road, picking up the other high schoolers and depositing them at their destination.
Butters goes to his first period class. History. They’re learning about the Civil War. Butters is taking rather detailed notes. Doesn’t he always. Kenny is bored out of his mind. He entertains himself by putting his hand in and out of Butters's stomach, a hobby that Butters himself isn’t extremely thrilled about.
“Ken.” It’s barely a whisper. “Would’ya quit that? It’s cold and distracting.”
Kenny pops his head through the desk. Sticks his hand into Butters's face. “You’re no fun.”
“I don’t want to fail history.”
Kenny sighs. “Fine, Buttercup. Guess I’ll just go bother someone else then.”
He sinks back into the desk. Butters's papers rustle.
Sitting next to them, Kyle hears half of the conversation. It’s too risky to ask about it now, he doesn’t want to spook Butters, but he flipped to an empty page in his notebook and wrote out, in his small, neat, loopy handwriting:
Butters is talking to someone (himself?) Ken. Who’s Ken? Kenny? Kenny’s dead. He asked someone to quit something, said it’s cold and distracting. What is? The fan? The only fan in here is on the teacher’s desk. It’s not on. He’s also shivering. It’s not that cold in here. Doesn’t want to fail. (Who does?) Butters's papers rustled. The air isn’t moving. WHAT?
That one is underlined a few times.
Kyle doesn’t know it, but Kenny has moved over to his desk now. He saw the glances that Kyle was making. Kyle’s not exactly subtle. Kenny reads what he’s written. Whistles. Kyle is observant.
Butters doesn’t respond verbally, but he does look up at Kenny, prompting Kyle to blush and flip his sheet of paper back over to his class notes.
“Kyle thinks you're crazy. He's got all these notes about it and everything. I'll tell you about it later, when we're alone.”
Butters nods and goes back to the lecture.
Kyle is confused.
Do do Dooo da goin' to schoooool eatin' healthy breakfasts at least some of us arrrrreeeeee!!!
Next period, Butters has study hall. The supervisor doesn't care about what they do as long as no one sets anything on fire, so an hour long bathroom pass isn't out of the question. Butters and Kenny go to the boy's room and to chat in private.
Immediately after they enter, or, while they enter, since no one can see him, Kenny briefs Butters about Kyle's note taking.
“So I think he's onto us, see. But he is missing a few, crucial details. He thinks I'm a desk fan and you're talking to yourself. Which isn't too far from the truth, actually.”
Butters is quiet.
“Buttercup, the bathroom is empty. I checked. Nobody's gonna see you being insane.”
He smiles. “Yeah Ken. I was just thinkin’. What if we let Kyle in on… ya know… You. I mean, it's only a matter of time before he figures it out himself. Didn'tcha say ya wanted to… pass on?” He doesn't say hell. “Kyle's pretty smart. I figure he could be an asset to our operation.”
Kenny nods, bewildered. He had been thinking a whole lot.
“Yeah, that's fine with me. I have no objections with telling Kyle. The one who might have a problem with it is Kyle himself. That kid has a stick so far up his ass that he vomits leaves.”
“Now Ken. That's mean.” And true. Kyle needs to relax.
For some reason, Kyle gets the urge to say, “No I don't.” He resists though.
Stan is talking to him while welding two pieces of metal, an action that would definitely be considered screwing around if the teacher cared enough to pay attention to his wards. Fortunately he doesn't, so Stan and Kyle are free to chat it up to their heart's content. Stan is talking about the track meet that is on Saturday and how I'm doing hurdles and you should totally come and watch and I know you don't really care but we'll get ice cream afterword and…
Kyle stops him. He looks places a hand on his shoulder, flips his welding mask up and looks him in the eye.
“Dude, of course I'll come. We're super best friends, right?”
Stan lifts his own mask and tears up.
“Do you mean it?” before bursting out laughing. Kyle also laughs. An amount of milk dribbles out of his nose and he reaches into his pocket to grab a tissue. (Damn you Cartman.) Kyle recomposes himself.
“Stan, do you think Butters has been acting weird?”
Stan smirks. “Come on, Kyle. He's grieving.”
Kyle swats at Stan.
“Shut up. But seriously dude. Earlier he was talking to himself, and he's done a complete emotional one-eighty since yesterday. I'm worried about him. What if he's finally cracked?”
“I'm sure Butters is fine. He always bounces back after he's sad, and this time won't be any different. You worry too much.”
Lunch arrives and everyone takes their seat at the table. Despite school “pizza” being even worse than yesterday's “burger”, Butters eats it with gusto. He's shivering randomly and smiling and laughing, despite a lack of jokes. It's a total turnaround from his previous depressive state. Kyle nudges Stan. “See?”
Stan nods. “So Butters,” he says, “You feeling better?”
Butters pauses. “Whaddya mean?”
“Well you're eating more than yesterday, and also smiling again.”
He considers this. “Well I guess I am. Fancy that.”
He smiles at the air on the bench next to him.
Kyle and Stan share a glance. Butters goes back to his pizza. “Quit it,” he mutters to the unoccupied space to his left. Kyle tugs on Stan’s jacket, as if to say, “See? See?” Stan rolls his eyes.
They finish lunch. Kyle corners Butters on his way to his locker.
“Hey Butters. You free after school?”
“Yeah, basically. Why?”
“I think I need help with the French homework. I didn't really get today's lesson, and you're pretty good, right?” Butters is immediately suspicious. Kyle is one of the best students in the grade, and if he had to put money on it, he'd bet that Kyle’s going to be valedictorian. Him or Wendy.
“So ya need me to tutor you.”
“Um, yeah. Can you come to my house after school at like six?”
“I think so.”
“Yeah… no problem.”
Thoroughly unnerved, Butters moves to English. Interestingly enough, Kenny is nowhere to be found.
Kenny spent that period in the girls’ locker room. He was getting withdrawls.
Sorry about the wait. I was on Spring Break vacation.
The day passes quickly, and before Butters knows it, it's time to go to Kyle’s house. Kenny tags along because as fun as spooking hamsters is, Butters banned that particular activity pretty quickly. It’s a nice day for a three house jaunt. Butters doesn't even need a coat. The walk takes like thirty seconds and then they’re ringing the doorknob of the Broflovski residence. Sheila Broflovski opens the door. “Why hello, Leopold. I hear you're tutoring Kyle, isn't that right?”
“Ah, yes ma'am, it is. Good evening.” Butters is very uncomfortable. Kyle saves the day, appearing from behind her.
“Butters! Come in. Let's go to my room.”
The two scramble up the stairs to Kyle's bedroom, where he has already laid out a bunch of flashcards and folders on the desk. Kyle slams the door immediately after they enter, shutting Kenny out. He walks in through the wall.
“Aw thanks for that, Kyle. Your mom is intimidating.”
“Yeah, no problem. I know. Listen, Butters. I lied. I don't really need help with French homework.” Butters is inspecting the flashcards. “Yeah, no kiddin’.”
“Butters, what's up? You're acting weird. Are you hearing voices or having mood swings or something?”
Kenny is amused by this. “See Butters? I told you he thinks you're crazy.”
Butters sees no point to keep up the charade. “Shut up, Ken.”
“See this is exactly what I'm talking about, Butters. You're...”
“I'm not crazy.” Butters cuts Kyle off. He takes a deep breath. “Ya probably won't believe me.”
“Butters, it's fine if you're schizophrenic. We just need to get you help.”
“Kyle, I'm not crazy. Kenny is a ghost. He's haunting me and needs help… passing on.”
Kyle almost laughs. “A ghost? You expect me to believe in a-”
He doesn't get to finish his sentence before he is beaned in the head by a pillow off his bed. Kyle turns around. “What?”
There is a dry erase marker hanging in the air. It uncaps itself and starts writing on Kyle’s dry erase board.
“Kyle you asshole. Butters isn't skitzofrenzic. Or however you spell that word. fuck.”
The handwriting is unmistakably Kenny's. No one could imitate his large, skinny, cramped letters.
“Its me, Kenny. I'm a ghost. Hello.”
All the blood has drained out of Kyle’s normally blushed face. His usually faint freckles are on full display. Butters pulls over his desk chair, and he falls into it.
“What the hell. Kenny?”
The marker scribbles some more. “Yes you bastard.”
Kyle stays silent for a few seconds. He doesn’t move. LIke when Google freezes over and stops responding. He’s processing.
Without looking up, Kyle speaks.
“So Kenny’s a ghost.” His eyes flash over to the scrawled text. “Butters, is he next to the markerboard?”
Butters looks up, searching, and then he finds him. “No, now he’s by the bed.”
Kenny picks up a blanket, and flips it over himself like a sheet ghost. “Is this better?”
Butters laughs, and so does Kyle. The sheet shudders. The mood has been effectively lightened.
Butters ends up staying the night at Kyle’s house. They spend the evening looking for paranormal information on the internet, which quickly dissolves into telling scary stories. Butters relays Kenny’s story about an R rated Terrance and Phillip movie and Kyle’s mother starting a war against Canada that ends with Satan rising along with his boyfriend, Saddam Hussein. Complete with musical and dance numbers.
Ike wakes them up at ten.
“Butters. Mom needs to know how you take your eggs.”
Butters is awake when he hears him enter. “Anything is fine. Over easy I guess?”
Kyle rubs his eyes. “What time is it? I want mine scrambled.”
“It’s two in the afternoon, lazy.”
Butters snaps up. “Two? Hamburgers. I have errands to run with my mother today.”
Kyle rolls over and checks his phone. “He’s a liar, Butters. It’s seven.”
The boys rouse themselves up from the clutches of sleep and stumble down the stairs. The breakfast is actually really good. Midway through though, Butters gets a call from his mother. She says he should come home soon.
“Okay,” Butters says. “How does ten minutes sound? I'm eating breakfast.”
She says this is fine, and he should thank Sheila for having him, which he does politely. About eight minutes later, he is saying his goodbyes and out the door. It's another nice day and the walk is relaxing. It would have been the perfect time to relax and sort out some of the stuff that had been going on the past few days if Kenny hasn't been violating his back with his ghostly hands. Butters swats at him. It does nothing for either of them. You can't swat ghosts. Butters reaches his house and let's himself in.
His mother is washing dishes.
“Good morning, dear. Welcome home. Did you have a nice sleepover?”
“Yeah, Mom! It was great! I’m gonna go get changed.”
“Don’t take too long. We need to get going if we want to pick up flowers for your friend.”
Butters glances at Kenny.
Sorry about the wait. Couldn't find a good stopping point.
A few minutes later, Butters and Kenny pile into the backseat of the car. They stop at a flower shop and buy a bouquet of carnations, and continue on their way to the graveyard.
A day ago, if they were sitting in a car together, Kenny would be poking Butters within an inch of his life. Today he's strangely quiet.
Butters scoots closer to him. He gets his phone out of his pocket and opens up the memo app. He types to Kenny: “whats up?”
Kenny glances over. He reads the message, and exhales.
“It's nothing. Just… no one's ever done,” he gestures at the flowers. “this before. Usually my family doesn't even visit my grave.”
Butters types for a few seconds. “what do toy mean usually? ypuve never like died before have you?”
Kenny doesn't look him in the eyes.
“Can we talk about this once we get to the graveyard? I'd rather not do this through a phone.”
Butters is confused, but he nods. “spunds reasonable,” he types.
They finish the drive in silence.
They get to the graveyard. Butters’s mom drops him off supposedly to let him “grieve in private without being embarrassed by his old, out of touch mother”, although they all know she’s getting her hair done. She isn’t fooling anyone with this fake sympathy routine. Again, Butters wonders why no one is broken up about the fact that a teen has died. In their town. He knows that neither his mother nor his father particularly liked Kenny, but he was Butters’s best friend and gosh darn it that ought to count for something.
The graveyard is deserted. Butters and Kenny meander over to his grave, and Butters lays the flowers near the headstone. He speaks.
“You said in the car you’d tell me what ya meant about… You can’t die more than once, right? That’s crazy.”
Kenny sits down, and pats the ground next to him. Butters sinks also, leaning on the grave. The ground is wet.
“Butters…” He sighs. “I have died before. I’ve died like six thousand times. I die and I come back to life. All the time.” He looks at Butters’s face, and closes his eyes. “You don’t believe me.”
It’s not a question, but Butters answers. “Of course I believe you. Why would ya assume that I wouldn’t? You just haven’t ever told me.”
“Butters, I have told you. You, and Kyle, and Stan, even Kevin fucking Stoley. But no one believes me. No one remembers. Actually, I think Cartman might, but he’s too big of an asshole to care.”
“What do ya mean? You’ve never told me you-”
Kenny cuts him off “That’s the thing, Butters. I have. But immediately after, I die. Always. Every fucking time. And then the world resets and everyone forgets. Every time.” Kenny pulls his hood up, tightening the strings.
“Ken, are ya… Are you alright?”
“I’m sorry. You don’t deserve this, Butters.”
“What are you talkin’ about?”
“You deserve better. You deserve a best friend that’s alive, and stays that way.”
Butters shifts to be closer to the other translucent boy. He moves his painfully corporeal hand through Kenny’s phantasmic shoulder, trying to hold him and failing miserably.
“Kenny McCormick, I don’t know what’s goin’ on. I have no idea. But what I do know is that you’re my best friend. You’re my best friend and I love you for that. And living or dead, you’re still my favorite person.” He smiles a little bit. “Heaven knows there’s not much competition in this town.”
Kenny smiles through his parka. He speaks, but it’s soft, the voice that comes out of someone who’s trying to keep down tears.
“Butters, I honestly have no idea what will happen when I resurrect. I’ve never been dead this long. I’ve certainly never been a ghost and… well… you probably won’t even remember any of this has happened. But I promise, Buttercup. Even if you forget, this doesn’t go away.” He is crying now. Ghostly tears roll down his face and disappear before they hit the ground.
“Butters, if you forget, I’ll remember. Even if I forget and you remember somehow, I…” His voice drops to a whisper.
“I love you, Buttercup.” He leans into Butters. Literally leans through Butters, who is also crying now .
Equally quietly, Butters speaks.
“I love you too, Ken.”
They sit in the same space for a time, neither of them knowing how long. The two are awoken from their melancholy by the vibrating of Butters’s phone. It’s his mother. He also has a few voicemails from Stan, ranging in dates from a week ago to a few minutes. He decides to listen to them later. Butters’s mom is apparently here, at the foot of the hill. The two wander through the mud down to the car. Mrs. Stotch has gotten a trim and there are bags of groceries in the trunk. They drive home.
She looks at Butters through the rearview mirror and asks him, “Did you have a nice afternoon?” Her voice is soft and careful. She speaks to her son like he’s a flower and he picks up on this.
“Yeah, I had… it was good.” He smiles as brightly as possible, in order to dissuade her from thinking of him as delicate, breakable. It probably doesn’t work. Kenny sits close to Butters. Their legs overlap.
They make it home uneventfully. Butters heads up to his room to listen to Stan’s voicemails. Kenny haunts their couch and makes string figures.
Those are the exact typos that I naturally make on my own phone. Thank goodness for autocorrect. Does everyone make them? I am very sorry for the ridiculous ridiculous fluffy fluffy Fluffy fluff at the end.
Butters sits on his bed with his phone. There are fifteen voicemails in his inbox. Eight of them come from random telemarketers. One is from Kyle, leaving six for Stan. Butters has no idea how he amassed so many. Apparently his phone doesn't like him. He opens the oldest one, dated a week ago. Stan’s voice comes out
“Hey, Butters. I just wanted to… I know Kenny was your best friend, and well, if you ever want to talk…”
The message ends there, and the next one starts up.
“Butters, are you doing all right? You're sort of freaking me out. Call me back.”
“What uuuuuuuuuup, Butterrrrrs! I was just at the wiiiiiiildest party! Whooooooo! Call me back, man!”
The rest of the voicemail is him vomiting and then it cuts out.
“Ignore that last one Butters. I was drunk.”
“Butters, you feeling better? You seem to be. Please call me back.”
He has two more messages, each within a few minutes of each other. Kyle's was first.
“Butters… I accidentally told Stan. About Kenny. Call me when you get this… I'm sorry.”
The last one is from Stan.
“We should talk. Call me back?”
There are no more messages.
Kenny looks up to see Butters descend the staircase, grab his coat and call, “Mom, I'm going out!” Kenny was halfway through a Jacob's Ladder but that would have to wait. By the time he untangles himself from the string and the couch, Butters is already out the door. He can be fast when he wants to be.
Butters speedwalks to Kyle's house. With any luck, Stan will be there too. Those two are joined at the hip. If Stan wasn't perpetually dating Wendy, he might suspect that shenanigans were taking place. Quietly, a part of him still believes that something's up between the two super best friends. Behind him, Butters hears heavy breathing. He looks over his shoulder at the cloudy orange kid who's appeared behind him.
“Are ya… panting? You're dead. How does that work?”
Kenny shrugs, still heaving.
“Well I was just goin’ over to Kyle's. He left me a rather cryptic voicemail and I wanted to see what it was about. You're welcome to come along if ya like.”
Kenny manages to squeeze out a weak, “cool.”
The two get to the house. After one ring of the doorbell, Kyle opens the door.
“Hi, Kyle. I got your voicemail. You seemed like you wanted to talk. Can I come in?”
"Well, um, Stan’s here, if that's okay.”
“That's perfect. I wanted to talk to him too.”
Kyle steps back to allow Butters access to the house. Stan is inside, sitting at the table messing around on his phone. He looks up as they enter.
“Oh, hello Butters. How are you?”
He stands up.
“Hey, what's up with Kenny? Kyle says he's a ghost. Is he pulling my leg?”
Butters sighs. "Stan, we're not crazy. Kenny is here, he's dead and a ghost, I can see him, and right now he's about three inches away from cutting your poofball off with scissors."
Stan turns around, sees a pair of shears floating behind him, and screams.
“What the fuck!”
Butters addresses the scissors.
“Kenny put those down. You're not funny.”
Reluctantly, Kenny returns the clippers to the table.
“I didn't want to do another markerboard thing. That was exhausting and pointless.”
“Kenny, you can't just go cutting people’s hats when they annoy you. That's not how life works.”
“Butters, what are you talking about?”
Stan’s voice reminds Butters that the general populace can not hear Kenny's outrageous attempts at diplomacy, and he blushes.
“Sorry, guys. Yeah, Kenny is standing behind you, Stan, and is being an idiot as usual.”
Kenny waves pointlessly. Stan looks over his shoulder again.
“I don't see anything. What…” He waves his hand.
“You know what? Whatever. I don't want to know. Either Kenny is a ghost or you've done an impressive scissor trick and this is all a big prank. Fine. You've convinced me.”
Stan gets filled in pretty quickly, despite his initial skepticism, and they have a pretty fun night playing video games on Kyle's Wii before Butters has to go home. They play Smash Bros, which Butters is absurdly good at, Mario Kart, where Stan wins every time, and Just Dance. Kenny wins Just Dance. No one can see how.
Accidentally posted before it was ready, story of my life. If you see any errors regarding tenses, please bring that to my attention. I suck at catching them. Or any errors at all. Thanks.
It's eight thirty when Butters gets home, and he falls asleep immediately. It’s been a long weekend, despite it being only Saturday.
Butters doesn't get to sleep in. He has to go to church. He showers and gets dressed, half heartedly going through his grooming routine. He's tired. Last night was terrible. Nightmares with no breaks. All dead, dismembered bloody bodies in orange. Rats eating corpses. Explosions. Blades. He goes back to his room with the intent of saying good morning to someone, but stops when he enters. What was he thinking? No one is here but him. His mother and father aren't up yet, and no one else lives in this house.
Butters walks down the stairs, confused, disoriented, and ready to make waffles. He's not the best cook, but the waffles come from a box and they aren't easy to mess up. A few minutes later, Butters is finished with the waffles and makes a pair of plates to take up to his parents. Sunday is breakfast in bed day. Still wearing his apron, he tiptoes upstairs. He enters his parents’ bedroom and bestows the waffles upon his parents, then goes back downstairs to eat his own breakfast.
It's hot. Hotter than in Butters's bedroom, definitely. Kenny opens his eyes, wondering where he is. He immediately gets an answer upon seeing the tacky floral wallpaper and repeated paintings of cowboys. Hell. He decides to go find Damien. Kenny wouldn't necessarily call them friends, but proximity is a compelling thing. Considering how much time Kenny spends down here, they’re acquainted.
Kenny walks to the door, making sure to grab the dingy room key on his way out. When he put his hand on the doorknob, it turns on its own. Surprised, Kenny takes a step back. The door opens, revealing Damien himself. “Hello,” Damien says.
“I was just about to go looking for you.”
“I assume this is about your two week delay in the mortal realm?”
“Yeah, pretty much. What was that about?”
“Yes. There was a clog of new souls this month. Evidently Canada was bombed again. You know none of them are Mormons. Customs was swamped, so some souls had to stay on Earth until we could process all the Canadians. This should not have any bearing on your… Cthulhu thing.”
“So I'll be back in like, a day?”
“That is how it usually works.”
“Cool. Guess I'll just… hang out here.”
Damien looks uncomfortable. “You do not have anything to do, correct?”
“Not really, no.”
“Come to the mall with me?”
Kenny blinked. “Why would you want that?”
“I need… moral support. There is someone…”
Damien blushes. “N-no! Of course not! What would give you that idea?”
“Your reaction.” Kenny steps through the doorway, past Damien. “Shall we go?”
Butters is seconds away from falling asleep. He knows it’s wrong. You can't sleep in church. But he can't help it. Stan, sitting next to him, nudges him.
“You doin’ okay, Butters?”
“Yeah, I'm fine. Just tired. I haven't been sleepin’ well lately.”
“Butters, I'm worried about you. If you ever need to talk, I'm here.”
Kenny and Damien leave the motel and walk into “town”.
“So, Damien. Who's this mystery person?”
Damien is burning. The grass at his feet smolders.
“Y- you do not know him. He is British and blond.”
“Oh shit! You mean Pip? Yeah, of course I know him. Didn't you light him up on a firework the day you turned me into a platypus?”
“Again, I am sorry for that.”
“Don't worry about that. Water under the bridge. You like Pip? Dang.”
School starts up again. Butters is not doing so well. He's not eating, and he's sleeping even less than Tweek. Monday is cheesebread (with meatsauce) day. Butters isn't eating, but no one else is. School lunches are disgusting. Stan sits next to him, on his right. Kenny's seat is left open, out of respect for the dead.
Stan rubs Butters's back. “Y’alright, dude?”
Butters looks up at Stan. His eyes are heartbreaking. He swallows. “Y-yeah, I guess.” He looks down at his untouched meal. Tears well up in his eyes and drip onto his styrofoam plate.
“I- I gotta go. See y'all later.”
Butters wriggles out of Stan’s arm and runs to the bathroom. Stan tries to grab him, but Butters too is fast for Stan. He's halfway to the bathroom by the time Stan even notices he's gone.
Kenny and Damien crest the hill. Below them is the dirty red Hell Mall. They carefully climb down the cliff, although not carefully enough apparently, as Kenny trips almost immediately and is sent tumbling down the sheer cliff face. Damien makes it down like a normal person, looking down over Kenny’s sprawled body. He grins. “What took you so long?”
Damien ignores the sarcasm and extends his hand, to help Kenny up. Kenny needs it. He seems to have broken his arm. It's hanging backwards. Luckily, in hell, broken bones don't last. They get it facing the right way and it heals almost instantly. Deceased bodies are really something.
The two enter the mall. They go to the food court, where Damien ushers them over to the pretzel stand. Pip is working there.
“Good morning, Phillip.”
“Oh hello, Damien! How’re’ya doing today?” He notices Kenny.
“Ken? What’re you doing here? Did you… Did you die?”
Kenny waves. “No big deal. It won't stick.”
Kenny elbows Damien and offers him an exaggerated wink, then steals a pretzel and sits down at a table. He can't hear what the two are saying from here but Pip has apparently told a joke so Damien is laughing. The tile at his feet is scorched. Damien stops laughing. Leans in. He's whispering something. Kenny is staring. Too much. He can't hear. He's too far away. Damien’s murdering the ground. He wonders how much that will take to replace. His heart starts beating faster. Kenny recognizes this feeling. First his heartbeat speeds up. He gets cold. Then his body starts feeling really heavy, and he can't move, and then then everything goes white.
And then Kenny's back.
Home stretch! There are like 2 chapters left and I've had them both written forever so expect updates tomorrow and the day after or something like that.
Interesting- i actually edited chapter 3 (i think) so now it mentions the bombing of Canada instead of the shooting of JLo or something.
Does it count as foreshadowing of it is added after?
Kenny wakes up. He's wearing his parka which either means that he passed out drunk last night or…
It's six thirty. It always is. Memories of the past few weeks flood his mind. Being a ghost. Knocking the pen off Butters’ desk. The candle. Helping him with algebra. The sleepover at Kyle's. The graveyard. Talking to Butters. Playing games with Butters.
He rolls out of his sheet and falls out of bed. He doesn't bother to change his clothes. He knows he's wearing the same white tee and orange track pants that he always revives in. He does pause to put on his boots. Kenny races out the door, runs down the street, stops at the Stotches. He knocks, out of breath. Butters opens the door.
“Kenny! Haven’t seen you lately. Where’ve ya been?”
Kenny says nothing. He just wraps Butters in a hug. After a moment, Butters hugs him back. He smells like apples and cinnamon.
“Well, it's nice to see ya too, but seriously. Where have ya been?”
Kenny let's go. “I'm not sure. What happened last week?”
“Well school, right? You weren’t there.”
Kenny curses in his head. Of course Butters doesn't remember. Of fucking course.
“But… no. No, you weren’t gone. You were here, weren't you? And then you weren't here… I…”
His eyes are squinted and his brow is furrowed.
“Butters? Butters, I was here. I was dead. I was a ghost. Do you remember that?”
“Y...Yes. Yes I do. Oh my God. Ken.”
Butters holds Kenny tight. His head hurts. Kenny has… he died. But he’s here. This doesn’t make...
“This doesn’t make sense. How…”
“I honestly have no idea. Cthulhu or something.”
“It doesn’t matter.”
They’re quiet in their embrace for a while.
“Wanna walk to school together?”
Last chapter and then there's an epilogue. Next stuff comes tomorrow and then we're basically done.
It is lunch on Monday. Butters sits next to the newly living Kenny, and they’re holding hands. Butters speaks.
“Was Kenny dead last week?”
“Is this a joke, dude?”
Stan chimes in.
“Of course he wasn’t. He’s here, isn’t he? He was probably just skipping.”
Butters looks at his friends.
Kenny turns to him.
“You finished with lunch, Buttercup?”
“Yeah, I think so,” Butters responds shakily.
He balls up his lunch bag, and gets up with Kenny. They hold hands while they exit the cafeteria.
Ever observant Stan notices their intertwined fingers and almost faints.
The school day ends. Kenny walks Butters home from school. Butters is thinking.
“Ken, why didn't they remember that you died?”
Kenny sighs. “They never do. Honestly it's a miracle you did.”
Butters hugs him.
“I promise you, Ken. I'll always remember. Don't you worry.”
They make it to Butters’ house. Kenny hugs him goodbye, and continues to his own home.
He hears the train before he sees it, and by that time, Kenny is roadkill.
The End! Its been fun, y'all. Thank you for reading and commenting and stuff. You guys've made my past two months.
Chapter 11: Author's note
Well here we are. The end of my first fanfiction. The after party will be held on Saturday at my house. We've hired a face painter and a bouncy house, and there will be pizza and soda. See you there.
I learned a lot over the course of this whole (what was it) three? month period. For one, I learned that next time I should really develop the plot better and have an actual plot structure going on. Also, it would be nice to post more scheduledly, as well as work up a better buffer and write more regularly. I learned that I like writing in the present tense, although my instinct is to write in past tense. (seriously though if you see one of those mistakes, please tell me because I hate those.) I learned that I think that there should be double p’s in words like stepps and that I really like the word “that” and that for some reason, I like to avoid the word “said” as much as possible.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and commenting and kudosing you are all way too nice.
Special thanks to @starrywolf101, @GHOSTHOST1995, @NeonFlavoredPuke(Imtotallynotaloser) and @TheNoobQueen for bookmarking and especially to @starrywolf101 and @sirius16 for commenting so consistently. Y'all are my bread and butter. I eat that up.
If you would tell me something that I could work on, or constructive criticism, or feedback, or just anything really in the comments, I would really appreciate it.
See you next time and I really love all of you.