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Don't Fall For Me

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The entire junior class was gathered in the gymnasium for their presentations. Seeing as it was 50% of their final grade for History it was a pretty big deal and the History teacher wanted to make sure the class knew that. Even PC Principal and Strong Woman were standing by watching the students give their speeches.

Eric Cartman sat in between two of his friends Stan and Kenny, while Kyle sat on Stan’s other side. For once Cartman was eagerly awaiting his turn. He had done his research of World War II and the current times and he was ready for the biggest speech of his life of why the Jews were evil and should be eradicated. He just had to keep awake long enough to get through Wendy’s boring presentation on who cares?

Finally, after what seemed like forever, Wendy wrapped up her stupid speech. “And that is why Eleanor Roosevelt was one of the most influential women of history,” she concluded.

As everyone applauded, Cartman had to resist the urge to boo or vomit. Of course Wendy would talk about some women’s rights crap. That’s all she ever talked about. But he didn’t want to risk getting in trouble and not being allowed to give his own speech.

“Very good, Wendy, thank you,” the teacher said after the applause died down, “Next we have…” she paused to look at her sheet and let out a heavy sigh when she saw who’s name was next. “Eric Cartman.”

“Yes!” Cartman exclaimed, standing up excitedly. He could already feel Kyle’s glare on his back as he made his way down the aisle towards the podium, but he ignored him. Clutching his paper in his hands, he turned towards his classmates. This was it. He was finally going to open up all of their eyes to the evils of Jews.

“Fellow classmates,” he began, “I would like to discuss with you all a very serious topic that I researched for my paper: the Jews.”

Before he could continue, however, there was a loud “BOO!” that was quickly taken up by several other students in the gym. Astonished and angered, Cartman quickly glared at Kyle but was amazed when he saw the ginger sitting perfectly still.

PC Principal quickly rushed over to the podium and grabbed the mike. “Who started the booing?” he demanded. All the students died down and no one came forward. As the principal glared at them, Cartman couldn’t help but notice the girl goth, Henrietta way in the back on the top row of the bleachers with her other two goth friends. They were in the corner where they wouldn’t be noticed. She was snickering at him.

Did she boo at me? Cartman thought angrily.

“If it happens again I’m putting that person in detention!” PC Principal warned before handing the mike back to Cartman.

“A-Anyway, I have done extensive research on this topic,” Cartman continued, “Everyone thinks Jews are the victims but they are actually the problem!”

“Yeah? Where’d you hear that? Fox News?” Someone called out. Almost everyone in the bleachers started snickering. Cartman narrowed his eyes. That voice was definitely female.

Keeping an eye on that corner of the bleachers, Cartman continued. “They spread their propaganda and lies, fooling you into believing that the Holocaust actually happened! But think about it! Don’t you think someone would’ve stopped it before it began? And today! The Jews are money grubbing thieves who want to ruin everything for everyone!”

“Oh, just confess your love for Kyle already and stop wasting everyone’s time!”

As everyone exploded into laughter, Cartman started boiling with rage. It was her! Henrietta! That goth bitch thought she could get away with taunting him because she was in the corner? He would call her out for it!

“Hey, fuck you, bitch!” Eric screamed into the mike, “You fucking goth whore! You think you’re better than me? Bring it, you cunt!”

“I know I’m better than you,” Henrietta taunted, grinning nastily down at him.

Cartman growled and was about launch himself into the stands and attack her, but PC Principal grabbed his arm and the mike. “QUIET!” he demanded. Instantly the entire gymnasium was silenced. “Cartman! Biggle! In my office, pronto!”

“Me? What did I do?” Cartman wondered.

“NOW!” PC Principal demanded. Henrietta shrugged and followed the principal while Cartman stomped after them. Once they were in his office PC Principal made them sit down. “Now, either one of you want to explain to me what the hell that was?”

“Yes,” Henrietta said, “He’s an idiot.”

“HEY!” Cartman exclaimed.

The principal let out a sigh. “Henrietta, you get a week’s detention for interrupting Eric’s speech,” he told her, “And Eric, you get a week’s detention-“

“WHAT?” Cartman exploded, “What the hell did I do?”

“If you would let me finish,” PC Principal said, “You get a week’s detention for calling Henrietta a bitch, a whore, a cunt, and for making a hate speech about Jews.”

“That’s not fair!” Cartman growled, “She is all those things! I didn’t even get to finish my speech which would prove my point because of her!”

“You want to make it two weeks, bro?” the principal wondered. Cartman hissed with anger but said nothing more. “Now get back to the gym before you get in more trouble.”

“Whatever,” Henrietta muttered. She stood and left immediately while Cartman followed more slowly. As soon as they were out in the hallway the goth lit up a cigarette, took a long drag, and strode off towards the gym. Cartman watched her go with anger.

“Don’t think this is over, bitch,” he hissed under his breath, “Before this is all over I will have my revenge. And then you’ll wish you never crossed paths with Eric Cartman.”

Chapter Text

I’ll admit: I was one of the people in the bleachers laughing my ass off at Cartman. I didn’t know goths could be so sassy! But Eric definitely deserved it. He’s always demonizing Jews and trying to provoke Kyle. So when we met up after school and he stormed up to us saying he got detention as well I really wasn’t surprised.

“That fucking bitch goth!” Cartman complained as the four of us walked home, “This is totally unfair! All I was trying to do was inform the masses of a serious threat and fucking PC Principal takes her side!”

“What? She didn’t get detention?” I asked.

“No, she did,” he growled, “But I did too, even though I did nothing wrong!”

“I think it’s pretty fair,” Kyle pointed out reasonably, “Henrietta gets detention for interrupting and you get detention for being an asshole.”

Over the years Kyle has calmed down a lot. He realized that arguing with Cartman all the time didn’t help anything; in fact it usually just provoked him. So he learned to tune him out for the most part when he started making his hate speeches about Jews or gingers. It’s caused Kyle to come out on top way more often now that Cartman is solely seeking a reaction from him and getting none.

“Yeah, Cartman I really don’t know why you thought you were going to get away with making your entire speech about why Jews are evil,” Stan added.

Eric scoffed. “Well if that whore had let me finish everyone would have seen the evils of the Jews and they wouldn’t have cared anymore,” he insisted.

“Whatever you say,” Kyle sighed.

Eventually we got to Stan and Kyle’s houses and we bid them good-bye. I was about to carry on my way to my own shit-hole of a house, but Cartman ran after me and put an arm around me.

“Kenny! My main man!” he exclaimed, “How would you like to make some extra money?” He patted me on the shoulder and I rolled my eyes.

“I’m not stealing from my parents’ stash again for you,” I told him seriously, “I’m still recovering from last time.”

“No, I’m not talking about buying drugs,” Cartman said, “I’m talking about revenge.”

This got my attention and I gave him a curious look. “Revenge?” I repeated.

“I can’t let that goth bitch get away with humiliating me like that in front of everyone,” Cartman explained, “So, I’ve formulated a plan to get back at her, but I’m going to need your help. I promise to make it worth your while.”

“Why me?” I wondered.

“Because you’re the most charismatic guy I know!” he said, “Besides me! Look, let me explain the plan to you. I want you to get her to go out with you, all right?”

“Wait a minute,” I interrupted, stopping, and holding up my hand, “You want me, the womanizer, the guy every girl in school is killing to go out with, to ask out one of the least popular girls in school?”

“Yes! Will you pay attention?” Cartman scolded, “I want you to go out with her! Become a couple! Like a legit couple, going out on dates, holding hands, kissing, all that nasty stuff! I want you to make her fall in love with you. Head over heels in love. And then, when the time is right, you will break up with her in front of the whole school, humiliate her like she humiliated me, and then I will have the perfect revenge!”

I didn’t answer at first. This seemed extremely cruel, even for Cartman. Sure, Henrietta and the other goths could be pessimistic, cynical, and yes, a little narcissistic themselves, but did she really deserve this sort of treatment? Besides, it was funny!

“I don’t know, Cartman, why can’t you do it?” I asked, “Or get someone else like Butters to do it?”

“Because she’ll know I’m up to something if I do it and you’re the only one I trust enough,” Cartman explained, “Butters would just fuck everything up. Besides, he’s too cutesy for her. Come on, Kenny.”

I sighed. “I don’t know…” I repeated.

“Fine, I see you need more incentive,” Eric said, “I’ll pay you one hundred dollars for every part of my plan you complete. I’ll give you a goal. You complete it. I give you a hundred dollars.”

Almost instantly I felt my heart race. Was he being serious? A hundred dollars? That money could do so much good for my family!

“Y-You’re not fooling me right now,” I warned him, “You’d really give me a hundred dollars just like that? Where did you even get that kind of money?”

Cartman shrugged. “It pays to have a big extended family,” he replied casually, “So are you in or out?”

Without another moment’s hesitation I exclaimed, “I’m in!”

A giant grin plastered itself on Cartman’s face. “Great!” he exclaimed, “So, tomorrow at school get her to go out with you and I’ll pay you a hundred dollars. Heck, I’ll even throw in fifty extra bucks so you can take her somewhere fancy.” He paused for a moment. “After we get out of detention,” he grumbled.

After Cartman and I worked out a few of the details, I finally headed home. Ah, home. The shit hole of a shack that I was forced to take shelter in. Nothing had changed over the years, in fact if anything they’ve only gotten worse. When I turned sixteen I got a job at the local thrift store to try to earn a little bit of money to help my family, but it really didn’t do much. I had to hide whatever I earned from my parents because they would steal it to buy booze and crack. Whatever I had I used to buy food for Karen, Kevin, and myself.

Oh yes, Kevin. He didn’t graduate high school, instead choosing to drop out midway through and become a meth head. A lot of good that did him. But I still cared about my brother, so I still provided for him whenever I could.

Too bad I couldn’t afford to buy us new clothes or blankets or anything else. Most of my clothes were clothes that Kyle and Stan graciously let me have. And the parka I was wearing was a larger version of the one I wore when I was a child. Except it was old and starting to fall apart. Honestly, if weren’t for my charming personality and the fact that I was pretty amazing in bed (their words, not mine) even I wouldn’t know what the ladies see in me.

When I got home I could hear my parents in the back room arguing about something. Because that’s all they did these days. Argue and fuck. I sighed and tossed my backpack down by the door and headed to the kitchen to start on dinner.

Karen insisted we say grace every day before we ate and I indulged her, despite the fact that I stopped believing in God a long time ago. My family may be a bunch of shit heads, but Karen and I had tried to be good Christians, but that hadn’t gotten us anywhere so I renounced my faith when I was twelve. And yes, all the crazy shit that happened in my childhood would prove otherwise that there was a God, but what did I care if he wasn’t going to help me anyway?

Wow, that got unnecessarily dark for a moment. Sorry about that. I didn’t mean to step on anyone’s toes if anyone is a Christian. You do you.

After dinner I always read Karen a bed time story to help her fall asleep. Even though she was eleven by this point, it helped her fall asleep. She had graduated to young adult novels, though. She wasn’t that naive. She especially liked this series about a magical land called Faire that was narrated by a talking horse who went on adventures with the prince of the land. And there was a two headed dragon in it.

“Hey Kenny,” Karen said after I had finished reading her the next chapter, “What was everyone talking about on social media today about Cartman getting what he deserved?”

I forgot that Karen still went to the lower school while my friends and I went to high school, so she didn’t really get to know what happened.

“Oh that,” I chuckled, “We all did our big reports for History today in the gymnasium, and Cartman was making a hate speech about Jews.”

“So, nothing new,” Karen joked with a giggle.

“Heh, yeah,” I agreed, “Anyway during his speech, Henrietta kept taunting him and chastising him, causing him to blow his lid and they both got in trouble for it. It was really funny. Too bad you couldn’t have been there.”

Karen giggled as I tucked her into bed and kissed her forehead. Then I went to my own room where I stayed up reading Playboy before I fell asleep.

During class the next day Cartman would not stop giving me these annoying looks. We had already agreed that we weren’t going to tell Stan and Kyle about any of this. They would probably try to talk us out of our plan or at the very least guilt trip me. And I did not need that on my conscious. But Cartman was making it way too obvious that he was up to something with all the stupid looks he kept throwing me. I had already told him I would ask her out at lunch so was the waving eyebrows really necessary? It made it look like he was hitting on me!

I was so glad when lunch finally rolled around. Then Cartman could stop flirting with me. I started heading towards the cafeteria when the fatass himself suddenly came up behind me and put an arm around my shoulders.

“Hey, buddy!” he exclaimed, “You remember the plan, right?” I sighed and rolled my eyes.

“Yes, now go away before I get caught hanging out with you,” I told him. And it wasn’t just because of the plan. He gave me a hearty pat on the back.

“Go get ‘em, tiger!” he shouted before waddling away.

If I remembered right, the Goths hung around the darkest corner of the cafeteria. Unlike the elementary school, the high school locked all the doors during the day, so the Goths couldn’t get outside to smoke like they use to. I also felt a little bad for them because their youngest member was left behind in the elementary school. The goths hadn’t changed much from elementary school. The only one who had changed physically was Henrietta as she had gotten a lot thinner.

Anyway, there was a corner of the cafeteria were like three or four light bulbs had burned out and the school refused to replace them for whatever reason. That’s where the goth kids had claimed their territory. I tried not to feel too intimidated as I approached their table. It really didn’t help that once they realized I was coming towards them they stared at me the whole time.

“Hey guys,” I greeted, trying not to sound scared, “Can I sit down?”

“No,” Pete hissed at me, “What do you want?”

Rude, I thought. I cleared my throat. “Um, I was actually here for Henrietta,” I told them. The girl in question looked at me from the corner of her eye. “I thought that maybe you might like to go out with me sometime.”

Henrietta looked at me more directly and eyed me up and down. “No,” she said simply before turning back to her friends.

I blinked in surprise at her. I hadn’t really considered the possibility that she’d say no. I guess I just assumed that every girl in school had a secret desire to go out with me and that she was no different. Well fuck, what was I supposed to do now?

“Um, are you sure?” I asked, “You don’t want to think about it at all?”

“No,” she repeated in a slightly more irritated voice, “Now get lost before I shiv you.”

Defeated, I retreated from the table. I walked over to where Cartman, Stan, Kyle, and their girlfriends, Wendy and Rebecca were sitting. Yeah, Kyle got a girlfriend. He finally got the nerve to ask out Rebecca after she and her brother Mark started permanently coming to school. I tried not to be jealous of my two friends, but it was hard not to be when they had such loyal and loving girlfriends. That’s probably why I hooked up with so many girls all the time. To ease some of the loneliness.

“So, was I seeing that right?” Wendy asked as I sat down, “Were you trying to ask out Henrietta?” I opened my small bag lunch and refused to look at her.

“Maybe,” I muttered.

“Yeah? And how’d that go?” Stan wondered.

“She, uh, she said no,” I replied in an awkward, embarrassed voice. It was the first time a girl had ever turned me down.

The strangest thing suddenly happened to Cartman. He burst into laughter, but at the same time he looked really irritated. Like he wanted to be mad, but he also found my rejection to be rather hilarious. The rest of us stared at him with blank looks, trying to figure out what was wrong with him.

“I don’t get it,” Kyle said, turning to me, “Why would you ask out a goth anyway? I mean, I know her putting Cartman in his place yesterday makes her a bit more attractive, but you never seemed interested in her before.”

“I have my reasons,” I replied, digging into my bag.

She better not think this is over. I wasn’t going to let Henrietta go that easily. I had dealt with stubborn girls before. And I had ways of breaking her. By the end of the day she would agree to go out with me.

So, by the end of the day she still hadn’t agreed to go out with me. Something Cartman was all too aware of when he caught up with me before he had to go to detention.

“Kenny!” he hissed, “What are you doing? You still haven’t gotten the bitch to even agree to a date with you or anything!”

“I’m working on it!” I snapped at him, “She’s being really stubborn! And I’ve tried all of my best moves on her and everything!”

“Well, keep trying!” Cartman growled, “I can’t exact my ultimate revenge you’re not dating her! And if you’re not dating her, you don’t get a hundred bucks!”

“I know! I know!” I sighed, “Just go do your detention! I’ll think of something!”

I had to work that day after school so I immediately headed to the thrift store. My hours were kind of irregular, as the manager scheduled me to come in “whenever.” Again, I didn’t make a ton of money, but it was the only place that was willing to hire me and the work wasn’t too hard, so I stuck with it. I was hoping to pick up more hours in the summer and maybe get a better job after I graduated.

I was busy sorting clothes when I heard the little bell over the door ring. I turned to greet the customer and was quite surprised to see Henrietta’s friends, including little goth (I think his name was Firkle?) standing in the entrance. They did not look like they were here to shop.

Dusting my hands off and standing up, I cautiously approached them. “Can I help you?” I asked them.

“Why did you ask out Henrietta?” Michael wondered, folding his arms.

I did not like his tone of voice. “Because I wanted to,” I replied confidently. Now that I was on my own turf, I was bit more confident and smug than I was before. I wasn’t going to let these guys intimidate me.

“What for? Some sort of joke?” Firkle accused.

“No, because I wanted to go on a date with her,” I responded. I had to admit, the little guy unnerved me the most. I had some repressed memories of him wanting to stab me.

“Funny how she humiliates your friend and then the day after you suddenly want to date her,” Pete pointed out in one of those annoying voices like he’s got it all figured out. I always hated that tone of voice.

I glared at them. “Cartman is barely my friend,” I countered, “I was laughing just as hard as anyone else. That has nothing to do with this.” I was lying through my teeth on that last part, but they didn’t need to know that. “Look, if you’re done with your little interrogation, unlike you I actually have work to do and I would like to get back to it.”

“Fine,” Michael spat, “But just know that we’re onto you. And if you do anything to hurt our friend we’ll make sure you’re never heard from again.”

Then one by one they left. Jeez, I knew the goths were protective of each other, but I hadn’t even done anything yet! At least wait until after we’re dating to threaten me!

The next day I waited outside the school for detention to get out so I could try once again to seduce Henrietta. The girl really was stubborn and wasn’t falling for any of my charms. None of my usual moves, or pick-up lines, or anything were working. Did she want me to beg? Because that was the one thing I was above doing.

I was leaning against the building when I heard the doors open. I turned and watched the students from detention pour out and start racing to their cars. The last one out was Henrietta, and as soon as she spotted me she groaned and rolled her eyes. She actually turned to go back inside, I think she was going to hide from me until I went away, but the doors had already locked behind her. She turned back around and started walking towards home and I quickly raced after her, matching my stride with hers.

“So, what? Now you’re stalking me?” she growled at me.

“I just want to know why you won’t go out with me!” I told her, “You’re literally the only girl who’s ever rejected me!”

“Well there’s a first time for everything, sweet heart,” she replied. I continued walking beside her as she took out a cigarette from her small black hand bag and lit it, exhaling a breath of smoke.

“Just tell me why you won’t go out with me,” I tried again. She still hadn’t given me a reason.

“Uh, because I don’t want to?” she answered in a snarky voice, “I’m not some conformist whore who’s so desperate for a man I’ll throw myself at the first guy who asks me out. I’m perfectly happy being single.”

Any other time I would applaud her independence. I don’t think women always need guys to be happy. And if this were any other time I would respect her wishes and stop bothering her. But unfortunately there was a hundred dollars riding on this and my family could really use the money.

“Look, just give me a chance, all right?” I begged, “Just go on one date with me, how’s that? Then you can decide whether or not you want to go out with me?”

Henrietta suddenly stopped in her tracks and gave me a hard look. “Why do you even want to date me?” she asked.

Whatever I had been expecting her to ask, it wasn’t that. I blurted out the first thing that came to mind.

“Because I really like you!” I exclaimed.

I expected her to finally come around and agree, but instead she just clicked her tongue in disbelief, turned on her heels, and started walking up the path to her house. No, I was getting close. I could feel it. I couldn’t let her get away, so I continued after her.

“I’m being serious!” I told her, “I really do like you! You’re not like other girls! You always say what’s on your mind, you’re never afraid to speak the truth. The other day during the presentations I bet everyone was prepared to sit there bored out of their minds during Cartman’s speech, but you weren’t afraid speak out!”

“Am I supposed to be flattered by all of this?” Henrietta wondered as she opened the front door and let us in. I guess she had resigned herself to the fact that I was just going to follow her anyway, because she didn’t even try to shut the door on me.

There were no lights on in her house. I guess her parents were still at work or whatever. I had only been inside her house like, one other time when I was young, but it pretty much still looked the same. I bet Henrietta hated it.

I followed her to the kitchen where she pulled a sticky note off the fridge. She barely glanced at it before crumbling it up and tossing it on the counter. I desperately wanted to know what the note said, but considering I was on thin ice already I wasn’t going to ask. Without doing anything else, she left the kitchen and started upstairs to her room. I was only a few steps behind.

“Will you stop following me?” she growled.

Not until I get you to go out with me, I thought.

“What about when we were kids?” I said, remembering the time when my friends and I all dressed up as superheroes, “And you helped me rescue my sister from those loser vamp kids? We made such a great team! You can’t say there wasn’t any connection between us!”

“I can and there wasn’t,” she remarked, opening the door to her room. Which was also pretty much exactly the same as when I last saw it.

Now I know she was lying. She was just trying to get rid of me. When I was Mysterion, his darkness connected me to her. I was starting to grow frustrated.

“Come on!” I hissed, “Isn’t there anything I can do to get you to say yes?”

“Get out of my room,” she stated.

I finally lost it. I had completely run out ideas. In one last desperate attempt, I walked over to her, cupped her face in my hands, leaned in, and kissed her deeply. I heard her breath catch in her throat as I closed my eyes, massaging my lips against her surprisingly soft ones. I was about to pull away and see how she reacted when the most miraculous thing happened.

Henrietta slowly raised her arms and wrapped them around my neck, deepening the kiss. A soft breath escaped past my lips, and I tilted my head slightly to get a better angle so I could kiss her even deeper. No tongue was involved, but the passion displayed from both of us sent a tremble through my spine.

We stood there kissing for a good thirty seconds before we slowly parted. She stared at me with shocked eyes and parted lips. But then her face relaxed and she went back to looking like she didn’t give a fuck.

“All right, fine,” she said at last, “I will go out with you.”

I blinked in surprise at her. “R-Really?” I asked, stunned.

“You will pick me up at seven,” she ordered in a strict tone, “Try not to be late.” She looked me up and down. “And try to wear something at least somewhat decent. I have to be seen in public with you.”

My heart was racing in my chest. I couldn’t help myself and leaned in, giving her a happy kiss on the cheek. She backed away slightly, but I was too overjoyed to care.

“Woohoo!” I exclaimed, “All right! I’ll pick you up at seven, babe!”

“Don’t call me babe,” she growled as I danced out of her room.

I couldn’t believe kissing her was what finally did the trick! Now I just had to go to Cartman’s house and get ready for my date with Henrietta!

Chapter Text

I raced over to Cartman’s house, which thankfully didn’t take that long since nothing in South Park was that far away. I paused on his doorstep to catch my breath before pounding relentlessly on his front door.

“Cartman!” I called, “Open up!”

The fatass sure took his sweet time coming to answer the door. When he finally answered he looked like he had just woken up. “What?” he said in a gruff voice.

“I did it! I finally did it!” I exclaimed, “I finally got Henrietta to go out with me!”

Almost immediately Cartman was more alert. “Well it’s about fucking time!” he sighed, “Come on in! We have to prepare!” He grabbed my arm and dragged me into the house.

Cartman dragged me past his mother who was with some guy on the couch (they were making out) and up to his room. Eric’s room had gotten really messy since the last time I had been in there a couple of years ago. I don’t think he ever cleaned it, especially since his mom is so lenient on him. And he rarely has people in his room, so he has no motivation to straighten it.

He went over to his dresser and started digging through it, tossing clothes out and making his room even more of a mess. I sat on his bed, confused.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“Picking out some clothes for you to wear tonight, duh,” he told me as if it should’ve been obvious. I bit my lower lip.

“Yeeeeah… no offense, Cartman, but I don’t think any of your clothes are going to fit me,” I pointed out, “You’ve got a bigger frame than I do.” And that was the nicest way I could put it with out just reminding him he was fat.

But Cartman ignored me and continued going through his clothes. I sighed. “Can I borrow your computer?” I wondered.

“Sure bro, knock yourself out,” he replied.

I went over to his computer and pushed some of his shit off the desk. He had way too much shit. I decided to start looking for some place I could take Henrietta on our date tonight. I wanted to impress her right off the bat, so the normal fancy restaurant wasn’t going to cut it. I wanted to find somewhere a bit darker and edgier, someplace that catered to her type.

Luckily, a new gothic restaurant had just opened in the next town over that was getting good reviews from people with darker personalities. It sounded like the perfect place to take Henrietta for our date.

When I turned around, Cartman was holding this hideous tuxedo nightmare that made me physically ill just looking at it. I tried hard not to throw up.

“Uh, let’s go with something a bit more casual,” I told him, “I think I might get laughed at if I wear that.”

Cartman frowned and went back to digging. I cleared my throat slightly.

“Hey, when are you gonna pay me?” I asked. I heard Cartman grumble something before straightening and turning to me.

“All right here,” he said, pulling out his wallet. He pulled out three fifties and handed them to me. “Don’t spend it all in one place.”

I rolled my eyes. “Whatever, man,” I replied. I sat down on his bed again. “Don’t you have any clothes from your younger days that might fit me a little better?”

Cartman huffed a little and got out of his dresser, bringing with him some clothes that actually looked like they might fit me. “Here, try these on,” he ordered. I started taking off my jacket when Cartman stopped me.

“Not in here, you perv!” he exclaimed, “God, go change in the bathroom!”

“Ok, ok, there’s no need to yell,” I grumbled. I grabbed the clothes and went to his bathroom to change. When I was finished, I looked at myself in the mirror and was rather impressed with myself. I actually looked not half bad. I went back to Cartman’s room.

“Spiffy,” he complimented when he saw me, “Have you figured out where you’re taking her tonight?”

“Yup,” I replied, “I found some gothic restaurant in the next town over that seems like the kind of place she would like.”

“Perfect!” Cartman exclaimed, rubbing his hands together like a cliché evil movie villain, “You’ll sweep her off her feet in no time! Just one question though. How do you plan to get there?” I blinked at him.

“I thought you were going to let me borrow your mom’s car,” I replied a little weakly. While it was true I did somehow end up getting a driver’s license, my family didn’t actually own a car. When I had to get my driving practice in, it was mostly due to the generosity of Stan and Kyle letting me borrow their truck and car respectively.

Cartman chuckled at me. “Yeah right,” he sneered, “Mom hardly let’s even me take the car out. You think she’s gonna let you drive it?”

I let out an annoyed sigh and pulled out my phone. I called Stan and hoped he wasn’t busy or with Wendy right now. He picked up after three rings.

“Yo man, what’s up?” he greeted.

“Hey Stan, can I borrow your truck tonight?” I wondered. I heard him suck in his breath.

“Gee, I don’t know, Kenny, the last time you ‘borrowed’ one of our vehicles, Kyle’s car ended up flipped upside down and in a ditch over at Stark’s Pond,” he pointed out.

“Ok, first of all that was for a stunt rally and it was flipping awesome!” I argued, “Second, I just need your truck so I can take Henrietta out on a date.”

I heard a sudden and loud crash, as if Stan had suddenly fallen off his chair. There was a moment of scuffling as he picked the phone back up. “Wait, you actually managed to get her to go out with you?” he questioned.

“Don’t sound so surprised,” I grumbled.

“Sorry, I just didn’t expect you to break her down,” he confessed, “What did you do? Stalk her to her house?”

I was silent and fuming for a few seconds. “Can I borrow your truck or not?” I asked.

“Oh yeah sure,” he answered finally, “Just don’t get any jizz in my truck. Or if you do, clean it before you give it back.”

“Gross, Stan!” I exclaimed, “What kind of person do you think I am!?”

I heard the dick laughing as he hung up. I rolled my eyes and stood up. “All right, what time is it?” I asked Cartman. He looked at his phone.

“Six thirty-seven,” he answered.

“Really? Already?” I replied, “Shoot, I need to get going. I’ll call you later and tell you how the date went.”

“You’d better,” he warned.

I gathered my own clothes and put them in a plastic bag before heading out the door. I was really glad that Stan’s house was just one away from Cartman’s because without my coat on it was cold! I stepped up to his door and knocked. A few moments later, Stan answered.

“Hey dude,” he greeted and eyed me up and down, “Looking good.”

“Thanks,” I replied, “I didn’t want to overdo it, but I didn’t want to wear my usual dirty clothes, you know?”

“Yeah, I get that,” Stan agreed. He dug into his pants pocket and brought out his truck keys. “Here you go. Try not drive it into a ditch.”

“I make no promises,” I said with a grin.

He rolled his eyes but before he closed the door he said, “Give me the details of your date later. I still can’t believe you got Henrietta to go out with you!” Then he closed the door in my face. Smirking, I walked over to his truck and got in, started it up, and drove off to my date’s house.

It didn’t take too long to get to Henrietta’s house. Nothing in South Park was very far away, but I was nervous and got there a little early. I parked the truck on the street in front of her house and waited about five minutes. Admittedly I was really early and I wanted to give her time in case she wasn’t ready yet. At ten minutes to seven I hopped out of the truck and walked up to her door and knocked.

After a minute or two she finally answered. I was rather taken aback by how stunning she looked. She wasn’t too dressed up, but she was wearing a sexy black and red dress that complimented her frame nicely and she actually fixed her hair. Which, not to be rude, was more than I was expecting. She also had a small black hand bag with a long strap that went around her shoulder.

“Hey,” she greeted casually, “You’re a little early.”

“I was nervous,” I admitted, “You look really nice.”

“Thanks. You do too,” she complimented, “So, where are you taking me this evening?”

I lit up a little, excited to tell her about the place I found. “It’s this restaurant in the next town over,” I told her, “It just opened and it caters exclusively to dark personalities like goths. It’s gotten really good reviews so far.”

Henrietta shrugged. “All right, I’ll give it a shot,” she said. She turned back to the house and suddenly started shouting. “IF YOU GUYS ARE COMING WITH US, GET YOUR ASSES OUT HERE NOW!” she yelled.

Suddenly, Michael, Pete, and Firkle appeared at the door and they did not look happy to see me. I gave a confused look to Henrietta who sighed.

“Yeah, so I may have told my friends that I agreed to go out with you, and they may have insisted on coming on our date with us,” she explained, “I couldn’t get them to back down. They’re kind of over protective like that. But don’t worry, they’re not going to be sitting at the same table as us.”

“Yes, we are,” Pete contradicted.

“No, you’re not,” Henrietta insisted with a slight snarl.

I let out a heavy sigh. “All right let’s get going,” I said. If nothing else this would make for an interesting first date story. I led the way to the truck and opened the passenger side door, intending to let Henrietta take it since she was my date, but instead Firkle hopped in and gave me a nasty look that said, “fight me.”

As everyone else piled into the back, I set the GPS on my phone for the restaurant. Thankfully with my new job I was able to get a phone. It was a cheap phone and a cheap plan, but I had one.

It was very quiet in the truck as I drove. I could feel Henrietta’s friends’ judgmental stares on me the entire ride. Why did they have to come along?

Eventually we reached the restaurant which was called “Cirque du Gothic.” The outside had the feel of a club, but with class and with no dancing because it was an actual restaurant. It was painted in blacks and dark purples. There were quite a few goths and other dark characters mingling outside. I was sure to stand out like a sore thumb in this crowd, but as long as it pleased Henrietta it would be worth it.

I found a parking spot big enough for Stan’s truck and parked. I wanted to walk beside Henrietta while we walked towards the restaurant, but of course her asshole friends had to block me. I got a lot of sideways looks from the goths outside but because I was with my own group of goths, none of them said anything to me.

Inside the restaurant was really dark and kind of hard to see. There were barely any lights on, the walls were painted blacks and greys. There was a smoking and non-smoking section. There was dark wave music playing softly over the speakers. Pictures of dour looking characters and grisly artwork hung on the walls. There were also quotes from I’m guessing Edgar Allan Poe and other dark authors written across the walls. There was a small stage where they did an open mike poetry reading night (as it said on the website.) Smoke lingered in the air.

Also, the non-smoking section was very small and there were only two people sitting in it. Otherwise more people were in the smoking section.

We approached the front podium where a bored looking youth stood and gave us a lazy sideways glance. Like the costumers, he was dressed like a goth, only a little nicer. Had to look professional, after all.

“Yeah?” he asked lazily.

“We want a table for two,” Henrietta told him, skipping any formalities, “Those guys are getting a separate table. Preferably where they can’t hear us.”

“Smoking or non-smoking?” the waiter asked.

I preferred non-smoking, but I knew Henrietta and her friends liked to smoke, so I looked at her to let her know she could decide.

“Smoking,” she answered. Her friends wanted the same.

The waiter led us over to small table for two and unceremoniously tossed two menus at us before leading Pete, Michael, and Firkle over to a larger table nearby and doing the same. Normally this would be the part where the person would tell us who our waiter or waitress would be or take our drink order, but this guy didn’t seem interested in doing that and simply walked away. I looked over at my date.

“I can see why this place got such high reviews,” I said a little sarcastically.

“Are you kidding?” Henrietta asked, “This place is great so far. I love the atmosphere and décor of this place. I’m glad you suggested it.”

At that moment the waitress came up to take our drink orders. I ordered a soda and Henrietta ordered some scary looking concoction from Hell. I was surprised by the variety on the menu. I expected the only thing to be “whatever we killed today.”

But no, there were salads, soups, varieties of meats, sandwiches and subs, pastas, all sorts of things. I guess they catered to all goths and freaks. I wasn’t used to eating anything too fancy, so I ordered some sort of turkey sandwich while Henrietta ordered cooked venison. As the waitress left I looked at her.

“What’s venison?” I asked.

“Deer meat,” Henrietta replied, a small smirk forming on her lips.

Oh. “I had no idea they served that,” I said, trying not sound too disturbed or anything. I mean, I guess it’s not unheard of to eat deer. Gotta do something with that meat when hunters go hunting. I just didn’t think Henrietta was into that. But knowing her, I guess I really shouldn’t have been that surprised.

“Yeah, I bet this restaurant pisses off all the vegetarians and vegans,” she said with a sneer, “Bunch of whiners. Always preaching about saving the animals but never actually doing anything about it.”

“Stan went vegetarian for a while when we were kids,” I recalled suddenly, “Or at least I was told by Kyle. I wasn’t around during that time. His body couldn’t handle it and he had to start eating meat again.”

Henrietta snickered. “I wish that happened to every vegetarian,” she commented, “That would be great.”

I nodded in agreement and sipped at my soda. So far this was actually rather nice. The smoke was really bothering me, but I wasn’t too uncomfortable. And the only nasty glares I was getting were coming from Henrietta’s friends.

I happened to glance at their table to see what they were doing. Firkle was looking around for the waitress for a refill on his drink, while Pete had his gaze locked on me. One of his hands was resting on the table and suddenly Michael’s hand gently rested on top of his. I was surprised when Pete’s only reaction to this was to shift his eyes slightly before glaring back at me. I turned back to Henrietta.

“Hey, what’s going on with Pete and Michael?” I asked in a low voice so they couldn’t hear me. She grinned slightly.

“Oh, they’re dating,” she replied casually.

The ease to which she revealed this made me nearly fall out of my seat. “R-Really?” I wondered. She nodded.

“Yeah. They’re not really for public displays of affection, though, so even if anyone actually cared to look for it they wouldn’t really know,” she explained, “They don’t act like a couple at all mostly so they don’t weird out Firkle or upset me. Even when it’s just the four of us.”

I wondered why acting like a couple in front of her would upset her, but I figured she would explain if she wanted me to know so I didn’t ask.

“But in private they go full on kinky mode,” Henrietta continued, “Firkle and I have on more than one occasion walked in on them doing some really weird shit. And they can’t act like we didn’t give them any warning. Apparently they don’t get that if your phone dings with a notification that you got a text from one of the only two people who ever text you, you should probably stop fucking for two seconds and see what the text says.”

“To be fair, they probably can’t hear it,” I started, but the look she gave me shut me up.

I cleared my throat. “Well, I wish my friends would be that courteous to me with their girlfriends,” I said, “It seems like Stan and Kyle have to bring Wendy and Rebecca everywhere they go, and I barely ever get to just hang out with just the two of them anymore. It’s really made me feel jealous and rather lonely.”

Henrietta gave me a slightly skeptical look. “You? Kenny McCormick? Heart throb of the entire high school who can get any girl he wants is jealous and lonely?” she teased.

“Well yeah, actually,” I replied, “All of those girls are just looking for a quick fling; nothing long term. They don’t want to be committed to me because they know beyond sex I don’t really have anything to offer them. They want to date the richer kids. That’s honestly one of the reasons why I really wanted to date you. Because I knew if I could get you to go out with me it would be a long term thing and not a brief fling. You would actually give me a chance. I know how passionate you can be.”

I surprised myself with how honest I was being right there. I wasn’t even thinking of the deal I made with Cartman. And judging by the look on her face, Henrietta was not expecting my honesty as well.

“Huh. Wow, I was not expecting that,” she murmured. She back in her seat a little. “I guess I’m sorry for judging you so harshly.”

I couldn’t help but smile a little. I was totally breaking through her shell.

We didn’t get to talk much more after that as our food arrived. It tasted a bit richer than I was used to, but it was pretty good. We didn’t really talk at all during our meal. I kept sneaking glances at Henrietta’s friends to see what they were doing. They seemed to have ordered the same she did. They occasionally threw me little glares as well.

At some point Henrietta offered me a taste of her venison, which I accepted. It was rather rich and kind of earthy. I imagined it was an acquired taste.

When the bill came I insisted on paying for both of us (Cartman did give me fifty extra bucks, after all!) But I did inform Henrietta that her friends would have to pay for themselves, since I didn’t even know they would be coming with us.

“That’s fine,” she said, “Hopefully they brought their own money. Because I’m not giving them any if they didn’t.”

Almost as soon as she said this Firkle walked up to her and tugged on her arm. “Can I borrow some money?” he asked, “Pete and Michael made us split the check, and I didn’t bring my wallet, and they won’t lend me any.”

Henrietta stared at him for a moment before letting out a heavy sigh. She dug into her handbag and gave him her card. He thanked her and quickly went back to his own table. She sighed again.

After dinner was all paid for, I tipped the waitress and we all headed back out to the truck. We all piled in (again, Firkle stole the front seat,) and I drove them back to Henrietta’s house. Being a gentleman, I walked my date to her front door and her friends went into her house immediately. But Henrietta stayed outside with me.

“Well,” she started, “I have to admit, although reluctantly, that this actually went way better than I thought it would.”

I couldn’t help but grin at her words. “That’s great!” I exclaimed, “So you’d be open to going out again?”

She shrugged and sighed a little. “Yeah, why not?” she replied, “I’ve got nothing better to do with my time. Here, give me your phone number so we can text each other.”

I gladly exchanged my number her. Then, before she could object, I swept her into my arms and kissed her deeply. She relaxed in my arms and gently kissed me back. After a while we slowly parted.

“Well then,” I purred in a sexy voice, “I guess I’ll see you tomorrow, Henrietta. Good night to you.”

“Yeah,” she said in an almost whisper, “Good night.”

I noticed that she waited until I was back in the truck before she went back inside. I’d say I had a pretty interesting story to tell my friends as I drove the truck back to Stan’s house.

Chapter Text

My friends were extremely eager to know how my first date with Henrietta went the next day. To avoid having to repeat myself several hundred times I told them I would tell them at lunch. But that didn’t stop them from constantly bugging me. Also, somehow Butters found out I was dating Henrietta now, so he wanted to know how my date went as well. Like the others, I told him would tell him at lunch.

And lunch couldn’t get here soon enough because for the first half of the day I had to endure Cartman, Stan, and Butters constantly leaning over to whisper stupid questions to me. Questions like, “Did you kiss her?” “Did she taste like goth?” “How horrible was it?” Thankfully Kyle respected my wishes and kept his dumb questions to himself.

When I sat down at our usual table I was almost immediately surrounded by my annoying friends. I let out a heavy sigh.

“Fine! I’ll tell you about the date now!” I said in an exasperated voice.

“Ooh! Wait!” Rebecca and Wendy called, “We want to hear it too!” The two girls rushed over to the table and sat down next to their boyfriends and looked at me excitedly. I tried not to roll my eyes.

I skipped over the part about me stalking her home in a desperate plea to get her to go out with me and went straight to the date. I told them about the restaurant I found that caters to goths and dark types. When I told them that her friends came with us, Cartman burst out laughing.

“It’s not that funny, Cartman,” I growled at him.

He was not listening to me. “Did they cock block you from getting any puss, huh, Kinny?” the fatass laughed. I rolled my eyes.

“They’re just over protective,” I replied, “It’s no big deal. Will you shut up and let me finish already?”

I went on to describe the restaurant and how dark it was, and how “pleasant” the staff was. I voiced my fears about being glared at by all the goths in the place because I wasn’t one of them, but then the only ones who looked at me funny were Henrietta’s friends. I told them what we ordered and what we talked about and how over all it was a pretty nice date.

“Did you kiss her afterwards?” Rebecca asked, leaning forward eagerly.

Blushing slightly, I suddenly found the ceiling very interesting. “Maybe,” I replied. Both she and Wendy squealed with delight.

“Wow, Kenny, I didn’t think you were capable of actually dating,” Kyle said in a sort of snarky way, “I guess you proved me wrong.” I glared at him.

“Gee, thanks, Kyle,” I replied sarcastically, “I’m glad you had such confidence in me.”

“Where did you get the money to take her out, anyway?” Stan questioned. I saw Cartman starting to panic, but it’s not like I wasn’t ready for this. I rolled my eyes.

“I have a job, Stan,” I reminded him, “I’ve been saving up for a special occasion.”

“So when are you hanging out with her next?” Wendy asked.

“Oh. Uh, I don’t know,” I answered honestly, “I mean, she has detention after school every day this week, so I guess, I’ll have to text her and ask.”

“Do it right now!” Wendy exclaimed excitedly, “Text her and ask when she wants to hang out next!” I hesitated.

“Do I really have to do that while all of you are watching?” I wondered, “And while she’s right over there on the other side of the cafeteria?”

“Yes!” Everyone shouted at me at the same time.

“Come on, Ken, ya gotta! We wanna see what she says!” Butters encouraged.

Sighing, I pulled out my phone and my friends and Cartman obnoxiously gathered around me to see what I would write. It was a simple text. I just wrote, “Hey, last night felt pretty good. When do you want to hang out again?”

Cartman frowned at me. “That’s it?” he asked, “You don’t wanna try and be more suave or anything?” I gave him a look.

“We’ve been on one date,” I pointed out, “I don’t want to scare her.”

Then, just to spite them, I sent another text to her that said, “My obnoxious friends wouldn’t stop bugging me until I asked.”

“Hey! Don’t tell her that!” Stan objected.

I glanced over to where Henrietta and the goths were sitting and I saw her pull out her phone. I was pleased when I saw her smirk, despite the distance. She started texting back, and it was a moment later when I my phone dinged with a text. Again, my friends annoyingly huddled around me to see what it said.

“How about we hang out at my place after detention?” she asked me, “I promise my meddling friends won’t be there this time.”

I looked over at Henrietta only to see her friends doing more or less the same thing my friends were doing. I could almost hear Pete say, “yes we will!” Followed by Henrietta’s monotone, “No, you won’t.”

“Ooh! How intimate!” Wendy cooed. I rolled my eyes.

“Well now that you guys are done messing with my love life, can I eat my lunch now?” I asked. I was about to open my lunch bag, when suddenly someone got up on the table and sat in front of me. She thrust her breasts in my face. I looked up and saw Sally Turner smiling down at me, pouting her lips out slightly.

Sally was one of the girls I would hook up with on a regular basis, along with Red, Bebe, Patty, and Nelly. It wasn’t very hard to figure out why she was here.

“Hey Kenny,” she greeted me in a flirty tone, “Are you doing anything this weekend? My parents are going away for their anniversary so I’ll have the house all to myself. We can do whatever we want.” She winked at me.

Normally I would be jumping at an opportunity like this. Weekend long sex with a pretty girl? Fuck yeah! I could feel my dick twitching just thinking about it! But I knew I couldn’t. It would ruin everything.

“Sorry Sally,” I said through slightly clenched teeth, “I can’t.” Her face fell instantly.

“What? Why not?” she wondered.

“I have a girlfriend now,” I told her. Sally gave me a look that said she didn’t believe me. She sat up and put her hands on her hips.

“Who?” she demanded.

I swallowed nervously. I was a little afraid to tell her. The popular girls had a mob mentality, and I was afraid that if I told her who I was going out with she would tell the other girls I regularly hooked up with and go after her. But Sally was glaring down at me, waiting for an answer, and it made me nervous.

“Henrietta Biggle,” I replied at last.

I expected immediate outrage, but instead Sally started laughing. My friends were all startled out of their own meals and stared at her as she laughed loudly.

“Oh my! You really got me there, Kenny!” she giggled when she could finally speak, “As if anyone would date that emo loser! Ha! Oh God!” She wiped a tear from her eye and took a breath of air to calm herself. “So, anyway you’re coming to my house this weekend, right?”

I felt a bitter anger prickling inside me at her words. “I already told you I can’t,” I hissed. Sally gave me an incredulous look.

“Come on, Kenny. You can’t be serious,” she scoffed, “You can’t honestly tell me you would rather date some loser loner dorkaloid whose only friends are other dark losers like her than me or any other hot chick you can have your pick of.”

Now I could feel my anger starting to boil my blood. “Don’t call her a loser,” I warned, “She’s my girlfriend now and you would do well to treat her with respect.”

Sally gave me an angry glare before hopping off the table and storming away. I let out a silent sigh. I was afraid she was going to slap me or something.

“What a bitch,” Cartman muttered, taking a huge bite out of his burger, “I don’t know why you hooked up with her in the first place, Kenny.”

“Yeah, whatever,” I replied. I was super grateful when the bell finally rang, signaling the end of lunch. I packed up what was left of my lunch and went to my class.

I should’ve known trouble would stir up again. I was at my locker, putting my books away. When I closed my locker, I was startled by Bebe standing there, doing her best flirty pose. I started a little.

“Hey there, Kenny,” Bebe greeted flirtatiously, puffing out her chest.

“What’s up, Bebe?” I asked her, trying to get my breath back.

“So, I’m really horny right now,” she informed me, “I was hoping you could help me out with that. After all, there’s a janitor’s closet right there. And no one will hear us.”

I sighed. I really shouldn’t. It was tempting, but I couldn’t risk getting caught. Besides, I didn’t want Bebe to get the wrong idea.

“Sorry, Bebe, no can do,” I replied, “In fact I won’t be able to for quite a while. I have a girlfriend now and I don’t want to be a cheater.”

Before Bebe could reply, I collected my books and walked to my next class. I didn’t stop to hear her outraged cry.

Later I was in the bathroom washing my hands. I was just about to leave when the door suddenly burst open and I found my face being assaulted by Red’s lips. She kicked the door closed behind her and locked it, all without removing her mouth from mine. I pushed her away slightly so I could get some air.

“Kenny! Thank goodness I found you!” Red panted, “I need you to fuck me right now! However you want, I don’t care! I just need you inside me!”

Damn it, where were all these girls last week when I was horny and single?

Before I could reply, Red leapt at me, wrapping her legs around my waist and her arms around my neck and started kissing me like crazy. You have no idea how tempted I was to just say “fuck it” and let her have her way with me. I mean, she had locked the door, there was little chance anyone would find out.

But now I was starting to get really annoyed. Sally, Bebe, and Red just wanting to have sex with me and nothing else kind of reiterated why I was lonely in the first place. So, as tempted as I was, I wasn’t going to betray Henrietta like that just for a quick screw.

With a slight growl, I pulled Red off of me. I didn’t give her an explanation for my rejection; I don’t think she deserved one. Instead I simply walked over to the door, unlocked it, and stormed out.

I was surprised to find Cartman outside the restroom waiting for me. I blinked at him.

“What are you doing here?” I wondered.

“Just wanted to give you some payment,” he replied, “That was brilliant what you did back in the lunchroom. Rejecting Sally like that. If you show more loyalty to the goth bitch, it’ll be even more heart breaking for her when I enact my ultimate revenge on her. So here.” He took my hand and placed a hundred dollars in it.

“Oh, uh, thanks,” I said. To be honest I hadn’t even been thinking of the deal when I rejected Sally. Or Bebe and Red for that matter.

“Keep up the good work, buddy,” Cartman said, patting me hard on the back, “And there’ll be plenty more where that came from.”

As he walked away, I stared after him. Not for the first time I wondered if what I was doing was right.

Chapter Text

When I got home from school Karen was sitting on the couch reading a book while Kevin was watching TV. I greeted both of them before heading to my room. I was hiding the money I got from Cartman in a different place than the money I got from working. I didn’t want anyone to know about this money and I told Karen she could take some of my work money if she ever needed it.

After I hid the money, I walked over to my makeshift bookshelf and started looking for a certain book that I wanted to bring with me to Henrietta’s house. For the past several years the library had been holding annual book sales where the community could buy used books for dirt cheap. I loved it because that meant Karen and I could get lots of extra books to read and we didn’t have to spend a lot. I always thought it was good for Karen to read a lot of books, so I sort of went crazy buying books during the sale.

Anyway, during one of the sales I bought a mystery book about a serial killer who killed people in the fashion of Edgar Allan Poe stories. Oh, and the detective was a goth. I remember Stan telling me from his brief goth period (which he was embarrassed by, so I brought it up often) that our goths were heavily into Edgar Allan Poe, so I thought Henrietta might like this story. I finally found it between a book about a werewolf and a biography about Joseph Merrick. (Don’t ask me how I sorted my books. I don’t know either.)

I turned the book over in my hands to read the cover. It was titled Nevermore. I chuckled a little. Yeah, she would like this, I think.

Looking at the clock, I saw that detention would be getting out about now, so I texted Henrietta to see if it was all right if I headed over. When she texted back that I could, I started heading for the door.

“I’m heading out, Karen,” I told my sister, “I shouldn’t be out super late or anything, so I should still be back in time to tuck you in for bed. You might be on your own for dinner though.”

“Where are you going?” she asked curiously, sitting on the edge of the couch, and looking at me with mischievous eyes.

“To hang out with Henrietta for a while,” I admitted, “We just started dating, and we agreed to hang out after school.”

Karen squealed with delight. “Ooh! Kenny’s got himself a girlfriend!” she exclaimed. I felt myself blushing at her words. Yes, I had called Henrietta my girlfriend myself, but it was a little embarrassing to hear someone else say it.

“Um, yeah,” I replied, “You could say that. We haven’t really made it official yet, though. I mean, we’ve only gone on one date.”

“Ah, got it,” Karen said, winking, “You’re not ‘Facebook official’ yet. That’s when you know things are serious.”

“You know it,” I said, pointing at her, “All right. I’m out of here. Try not to destroy the house.”

“I make no promises!” she called as I walked out the door.

I pulled my hood up over my head and folded my arms, trying to keep some of the warmth in my body. It was going to start snowing soon, and I was not looking forward to that. The winter months were always hard on my family. Granted, it was always cold in South Park, but the winter months were even worse for us. I had given all but one of my blankets to Karen and Kevin, so they could stay warm at night. I’m forced to wear my parka to bed, granted it’s not in the best of shape. Maybe the first thing I could buy with Cartman’s money was a new parka.

After a short walk I made it to Henrietta’s house. There was no car in the driveway, so I guess her parents weren’t home yet. I knocked on the front door and waited. A few moments later Henrietta appeared.

“Hey,” she greeted shortly. I smiled at her.

“Yo,” I said, “May I come in? It’s cold out here.”

She stepped aside and allowed me to come inside. There were only one or two lights on at the moment and I wondered if she had just gotten home. She led me through the living room towards the stairs.

“Did you need anything?” she asked, “Like a drink or something?”

“Uh, no, I’m fine for now,” I replied, following her. As we headed up the stairs, I couldn’t help but wonder why she was here by herself. “Um, where are your parents? Are they at work or something?”

Henrietta scoffed. “Yeah right,” she replied, “More like they’re avoiding me. They don’t want to bother with me anymore, so they just go out and do who-knows-what all day. In yet they still act like they’re allowed to have any say in my life.”

“That’s awfully depressing,” I murmured. She shrugged.

“Whatever. At least they’re not around to bug me as much,” she said.

We reached her room and she led me inside. She seemed to have straightened up since the last time I was here. There wasn’t a bunch of random objects just lying around at least.

“Oh! Before I forget! I brought this for you,” I told her, pulling the book out from my coat, and handing it to her. She blinked at me with a very slightly shocked look.

“You… brought something for me?” she repeated.

“Yeah!” I replied, “Stan told me you goths like Edgar Allan Poe, and I remembered I had this book that I thought you might like. It’s about a killer who murders people in the style of Edgar Allan Poe stories and poems. There are like, a ton of references to his works. Oh, and the best part is the detective is a goth!” I smiled and pressed the book into her hands.

Henrietta took it from me and turned it over in her hands, inspecting it closely. Was it my imagination, or was she starting to blush?

“Wow,” she murmured, “No one’s ever really given me anything before. I mean, beyond my three friends. And… this actually looks like a pretty interesting story.”

“I know, right?” I said, grinning, “I enjoyed it! And I know you may think of me as just a conformist or whatever, but even I enjoy the dark and macabre as well.”

I was caught by surprise when Henrietta suddenly leaned over and kissed me on the cheek. I could feel my face heating up with blush. I cleared my throat and looked away as she looked down at the floor.

“Um, I was thinking we could read the first chapter together,” I continued, “I often read with my sister and we enjoy it.”

“Yeah, sure,” Henrietta replied, still not looking at me, “We can start reading it together.” She took my hand and led me over to her bed. We sat down and got comfortable next to each other before opening the book to the first page.

The first chapter of Nevermore is introducing the concept of the book by having the killer murder his first two victims much like in the story “The Murders in the Rue Morgue.” An older woman had her throat slit open and hair scalped before being tossed out a window while her daughter was strangled and somehow stuffed up a chimney. The way it’s revealed later how he managed to get her up there is insane.

Henrietta and I sat in a comfortable silence, reading the first chapter together. I didn’t even realize how close we were while were reading. When I suddenly realized how close we were sitting, I looked up and saw that our arms were brushing together. But Henrietta was still deeply engrossed in the book and didn’t even notice.

I guess I was staring a little too long because before I knew it, she had finished the chapter and looked over at me. I startled a bit when she did.

“So, uh, what do you think of it so far?” I asked somewhat nervously. I was relieved when she gave me a small smile.

“It’s pretty good so far,” she said, “Are you really letting me keep this book?”

“Yeah, of course,” I replied, “You’ve gotta read the whole thing! The ending is amazing!”

“Spoilers!” Henrietta jested.

“Oh, come on, I’m not spoiling anything!” I argued.

“You said the ending is amazing,” she pointed out, “Now when I get to the ending, I’ll already know it’s amazing and all the suspense will be gone.”

It suddenly occurred to me that she was messing with me and a smile formed on my face. She grinned back at me and I couldn’t help myself in that moment. I leaned over and gently kissed her on the lips. She leaned into me, and we kissed each other deeper.

I dared to loop an arm around her waist and bring her closer her to me, but thankfully she seemed receptive to that and kissed me harder. Soon we had our arms wrapped tightly around each other, kissing each other as passionately as we could. I’m not even really sure what caused us to become so passionate.

We laid together on her bed, kissing each other for who knows how long. You wouldn’t think so, but Henrietta is a really good kisser. She carefully massaged her lips against mine while I kissed her over and over. We were really getting into it.

Honestly, we probably would’ve been kissing a lot longer if we hadn’t heard the front door open and close, signaling that her parents were home. She suddenly pushed me away, looking slightly panicked.

“You need to leave,” she muttered, “Trust me. You don’t want my parents to see you or will never get out of here.”

“Don’t worry, I trust you,” I replied, giving her a charming smile. I leaned over and gave her a quick kiss before standing up. “I’ll text you later, ok?”

“Yup,” she said as she walked me to the door. She reached up and pecked me on the cheek before shoving me out of her room.

The rest of the week went by with us casually hanging out together. I even walked her home from detention. Her parents were never home when we got there, which I thought was rather sad, but Henrietta didn’t seem to care in the slightest. We didn’t kiss like that first time, especially since her friends would cut our time together short. I think they were growing jealous.

On Friday, her last day of detention, she texted me saying that she had some important thing to do with her friends, so that left me on my own. I decided to text Stan and Kyle and see if they were free later since it had been a while since I last hung out with them. Luckily, for once they weren’t doing anything with their girlfriends.

I was getting ready to head over to Stan’s house, when there was a knock on the front door of my house. Letting my siblings know I was getting it, I opened the door to see Cartman standing there.

“Cartman?” I asked, rather confused, “What are you doing here?”

“To give you your next assignment,” he answered, “You’ve been going out with the goth for about a week now, and I think it’s time to make it official.”

I gave him a puzzled look. “Make what official?” I wondered.

“Your relationship, duh,” he responded, “You have to go onto Facebook and make it official. That you and the goth are in a relationship.”

I was really getting tired of him calling Henrietta “the goth” or “the bitch.” She has a name! “Her name is Henrietta,” I pointed out to him.

“Yeah, yeah, whatever,” Cartman dismissed, “So, are ya gonna do it? I’ve got the hundred bucks right here.”

Sighing, I rolled my eyes. “Fine, I’ll do it,” I said. I could see Cartman grinning at me as I pulled out my phone and got onto Facebook. I was Facebook friends with Henrietta, so it was easy enough to go to my page and change my status to “In a relationship with Henrietta Biggle.” So now every girl in school could see that it was official.

“Good job, Kenny,” Cartman said, patting me on the back, “This is gonna make all the girls in school so jealous.”

If they don’t decide to kill me first.

Chapter Text

I was hanging out with Stan and Kyle at Kyle’s house when something kind of odd happened. We were playing a video game when Ike, Kyle’s little brother came in. I forget if he was eleven or twelve now. Every time I looked at him he made me feel old.

“Hey guys,” Ike greeted, “Whatchya playing?”

“Super Smash Bros,” Stan replied, trying and failing to knock me off the stage.

“Stan’s not very good at it,” I sneered, kicking Stan’s Bayonetta clean off the arena with Zero Suit Samus. He glared over at me as I grinned triumphantly.

“Uh, hey Kenny! I heard you’re dating one of the goths now,” Ike said, interrupting my gloating. I looked at him.

“Yeah, Henrietta,” I replied, “You know? The only girl goth? It’s not like I’m going to go out with Pete or Michael. I’m not gay. Not that I have a problem with that.”

“Right, right,” Ike said, nodding, “So, uh, how are those guys? They, uh, doing ok?”

“Who? The goths?” I asked, slightly confused, “I guess so. I really only hang out with Henrietta. I think her friends hate me.”

Beside me Stan snickered, and I had to resist the urge to kick him or elbow him in the side. The douche.

“Don’t you go to school with Firkle?” Kyle asked as he swooped in with Meta Knight and started punishing me, “Why can’t you just ask him how he’s doing yourself?”

“Well, we don’t actually have any classes together,” Ike admitted, “So, you know, it’s not like I see him that often. Um, I have to go. Got some homework to do.” Then he awkwardly shuffled off.

The three of us watched him go and I quickly paused the game. We were silent for a moment. “That was weird, right?” I asked after a moment, “I wasn’t the only one thinking it? That was really weird?”

“I didn’t know Ike cared about your dating life, Kenny,” Kyle said, “Or what the goths were doing.”

“Your brother is getting odder as he gets older, Kyle,” Stan told his friend. Kyle huffed out an annoyed sigh.

“Just as long as doesn’t turn goth I don’t care,” he muttered, “Come on. Let’s get back to me kicking your butts.”

“You weren’t beating me that badly,” I muttered as I un-paused the game.

Now that Henrietta no longer had detention to serve, I was eager to spend more time with her. We went to see some obscure horror movie on Sunday. I had no idea what was going on, but Henrietta seemed to enjoy it.

The only thing that really concerned me about my relationship with Henrietta was that she didn’t seem to be trying very hard. I was the one who set up all our dates and hangouts and though she was receptive, she didn’t many suggestions of what we should do. If Cartman was ever going to shut up about his stupid revenge plan, she was going to have to try a little harder. Relationships are a two-way street, you know.

I didn’t realize I would be tested when about half way through the week I suddenly fell ill and had to stay home from school. I texted my friends and told them I would be staying home. Being the sweet hearts that they were, Stan and Kyle stopped by before they went to school to drop off some extra blankets and a de-humidifier.

I also texted Henrietta and told I couldn’t hang out because I was sick. And then I just had to bundle up and try to get some sleep. Even though Kevin didn’t go to school anymore and my parents didn’t have a job, they went out during the day so the house was very quiet.

With a sigh, I wrapped myself up in the blanket Stan brought me and closed my eyes, trying to ignore my stuffed-up nose and sore throat. Unfortunately, my family didn’t have medicine, cold or otherwise, so I was forced to try and sleep without any.

It was extremely hard.

When I woke up, something was different. There was a cool, damp cloth on my forehead. I slowly opened my eyes and was surprised to see Henrietta sitting in a chair beside my bed, digging into her handbag looking for something.

“Oh hey, you’re awake,” she said without looking up, “Sorry about your front door. I knocked on it and it fell off.”

I blinked at her in confusion. “Shouldn’t you be in school?” I asked, my voice a little weak from disuse. She smirked.

“School’s done, silly,” she laughed, “I came by to see how you were doing. And to take care of you.”

“Y-You did?” I had to admit, I was rather shocked. I didn’t know she cared.

“Of course,” she replied, “I am your girlfriend, after all. It’s, what do conformists call it? ‘Facebook official’ now.”

I felt a strange feeling swelling in my heart at her words. I had no idea what this feeling was, though. I was shocked when she pulled out her phone and showed me that she had also changed her Facebook status to “in a relationship with Kenny McCormick.”

“Anyway, I brought some stuff for you,” she continued, digging into her handbag again, “I know your family doesn’t have a lot of money. So, I brought you some medicine. I don’t know what kind you prefer, so I got a variety of different medicines. I also made you some chicken noodle soup.”

She set a thermos on the nightstand beside my bed, and I could smell the heavenly goodness coming from it. Again, I could feel that feeling welling in my heart and I smiled.

“You’re the best,” I murmured.

“I know I am,” Henrietta smirked, “But it’s nice when other people acknowledge it.” She handed me the different medicine so I could decide which one I wanted and a glass of water.

“By the way, I’ve been really getting into that book you gave me, Nevermore,” she told me as she started pouring some soup into the lid for me, “I’ve been reading it nonstop at lunch and whenever I have the time. I’m already half way through.”

“Wow, already?” I asked, surprised. That book was over three hundred pages long. She was already half way through?

“Yeah, I can’t put it down,” she said, “I’ve been reading it so much that Pete and Michael want to read it when I’m done. I think it might be too much for Firkle, though. He doesn’t read anything longer than ‘The Fall of the House of Usher.’”

I chuckled slightly. “Funny how that’s an Edgar Allan Poe story,” I pointed out.

“Well considering he only reads Edgar Allan Poe, it’s not that surprising,” she said, grinning slightly. She handed me the soup, which was nice and warm in my hands. I took a slurp of it, making sure to get some noodles and chicken. It was delicious.

“This is wonderful!” I complimented, “Did you make this yourself?”

“Yeah, I don’t trust anything that comes out of a can,” Henrietta replied, “So, I make my own soup and my own meals from scratch. It takes a little longer that way, but it tastes better.”

I felt my entire body warming. She took the time to make this just for me. I couldn’t remember the last time anyone made me a meal.

“You know, you didn’t have to do all of this for me,” I pointed out. Henrietta gave me a soft smile.

“I know I didn’t,” she said, “But I wanted to. You’ve been so good to me. And I haven’t been trying at all. I may have been hesitant about this whole thing at first, but I’m going to try harder to be a better girlfriend to you.”

I smiled at her. I leaned up to kiss her, but she put a hand in front of my face. “Ah! No kissing! You’re sick, remember?” she reminded me. I blushed slightly.

“Oh yeah. Sorry, I forgot,” I murmured.

As I laid back down, she placed the cold damp towel back on my forehead. I closed my eyes, relishing the coolness. Before I could relax, though, I thought of something.

“By the way, the other day when I was hanging out at Kyle’s house something kind of odd happened,” I told Henrietta, “Kyle’s little brother Ike came in. And he started asking me how you and your friends were doing.”

“That’s weird,” she said, pouring more soup for me, “As far as I know Ike has never talked to any of my friends. Not even Firkle. They’re usually good about complaining if a conformist talks to them.”

“Yeah, I thought it was strange too,” I replied, “He seemed kind of nervous when he was asking. He didn’t really ask about any of you specifically, but I just thought it odd that he cared in general.”

“Hmm…” Henrietta looked thoughtful as she handed the lid to me. “I’ll ask the guys next time we get together. Though, I’m sure it’s nothing really.”

“Yeah, maybe,” I agreed as I drank more of the soup.

For the next two days Henrietta came to see me after school until I got better. I was grateful for her company since my friends and family mostly avoided me so they wouldn’t get sick as well. After that she and I became a lot closer. At lunch we started sitting at each other’s tables (even if Pete and Michael would glare at me.) She even started suggesting places for our dates and surprised me at work one day by bringing me lunch.

“Things are going pretty well for you and Henrietta, huh?” Kyle asked at lunch about a week later. We were sitting at our usual table and I was eagerly waiting for my goth girl and her friends to get through the lunch line. She had convinced Pete and Michael to sit with me and my friends once just to be friendly.

“Yeah, she’s a lot more passionate than you would think,” I told him, “On our last date we went to the library and made fun of the corny romance novels. It was a lot of fun.”

“What’s wrong with romance novels?” Wendy asked from where she sat next to Stan. I figured she probably surrounded herself in them.

“Nothing except that they all have the same two basic plots,” I replied, “Or at least the ones we looked at did. Girl is in loveless relationship and falls in love with handsome stranger. Or girl meets handsome badass who has a tough exterior that must be broken through.”

“Sounds cliché,” Stan noted.

“They were, but it was hilarious reading the backs of the books and the pathetic ways they tried to make them sound unique,” I giggled.

From across the table, Cartman scoffed. “You call that a date?” he sneered, “The only reason anyone goes to the library is for community service.”

“You would know, fatass,” Kyle taunted, causing Cartman to glare at him.

“I’m sorry, Cartman, when was the last time you went on a date?” I wondered. He turned he furious gaze on me and I raised an eyebrow at him.

Before he could make any further comment, Henrietta, Pete, and Michael came over and sat down at our table. Henrietta sat next to me and gave me a quick kiss on the cheek while her two friends sat beside her, looking mildly uncomfortable.

“Hey guys,” Stan greeted them in an attempt to be friendly. The most he got in response was a couple of head nods.

“What are you losers up to?” Cartman asked rudely, “Refueling for your dark cult crap?”

“Cartman, if you’re not going to be nice you might as well go to a different table,” Kyle warned him.

“Don’t worry about it,” Michael said, “Poser conformists like him don’t bother us.”

“He’s probably still upset at the harsh truth that his research paper was crap and Henrietta just exposed it,” Pete pointed out and Henrietta snickered.

Cartman glared at the three of them before sliding down the table towards Butters and away from the rest of us. Good. I didn’t want him messing anything up.

“What did you guys get for lunch?” I asked my girlfriend and her friends.

“Coffee,” she answered simply, “And a plain burger.”

Having been with her for about two weeks now, I wasn’t really surprised by this answer, but my friends seemed to be. Kyle opened his mouth, probably to ask whether or not they wanted anything else, when his phone suddenly started ringing. Confused, he pulled it out of his pocket, saw who it was, and answered it.

“Hi dad. Did you need something?” he asked. He paused to listen. “What do you mean ‘what am I doing right now?’ I’m in school!” His dad said something and Kyle sighed. “Why can’t you or mom get him?” There was a pause. “I really don’t think PC Principal is going to let me out of school to go get my little brother.” I could practically hear Gerald’s pleading tone. Kyle sighed again. “Fine! I’ll go pick up Ike! Geez!” Then he hung up.

“What did Ike do?” I asked curiously.

“Apparently he got in a fight with another kid at school,” Kyle replied, “My dad said he and mom are too busy to get him, but I think they’re too lazy. I have to go talk to the principal. Will you guys tell our teachers what happened and bring me the homework after school?”

“No problem, dude,” Stan promised.

Kyle nodded before standing with his backpack and walking out of the cafeteria. I watched him go before turning to the others.

“That’s interesting,” I said, “Ike’s never been a violent kid before. I thought he was a pacifist. I wonder who he got in a fight with?”

“I don’t know, but I expect Kyle to give me all the details later,” Stan said.

Chapter Text

“Are you sure your friends won’t mind if I join in on your goth readings?” I asked Henrietta as we got ready to head home for the day.

“Oh, they’ll most definitely mind,” she said, “But if they have a problem with it, they can answer to me. Besides, they’ll get over it. Eventually.”

I gave her a smile and leaned over, giving her a quick kiss on the cheek. “All right, I’ll be over to your house as soon as I go with Stan to drop off this homework at Kyle’s house. Maybe I can get some juicy info out of Ike while I’m there about the fight.”

Henrietta rolled her eyes at me as we parted ways. I joined Stan outside of school and we headed to the parking lot. I was rather grateful Stan had a truck to drive us to Kyle’s place. I didn’t love the thought of walking around with extra stuff in my pack.

“Man, I haven’t stopped thinking about Ike all day,” Stan admitted as we piled into his truck. I hopped into the front seat and plopped my bag on the floor.

“Me neither,” I confessed, “I mean he’s usually such a nice, non-violent kid. I can’t imagine what could’ve set him off.”

“Hopefully he or Kyle will tell us when we get there,” Stan said.

It didn’t take us long to get to Kyle’s house, but then again it didn’t take long to get anywhere in South Park. When we got to his home, we eagerly knocked on the door and waited for Kyle to let us in.

“Hey guys,” Kyle greeted in a somewhat tired voice when he opened the door, “Thanks for bringing me my homework. We didn’t go over anything new in any of our classes, did we?”

“Not really,” Stan answered, “We’re not starting anything new until next week.”

“Oh, thank God,” Kyle sighed, “I would hate to miss anything important because my parents were too lazy to leave work.”

“So, how’s Ike?” I asked, trying not to sound too eager. I just really wanted to know what happened. Kyle gestured inside.

“Why don’t you find out for yourself?” he offered. Stan and I followed him into the house and into the living room.

Ike was sitting on the couch with an ice pack pressed to his eye. He was sporting a nasty bruise on his cheek and a cut on his lip. He looked rather miserable, like he had gotten a good scolding from his older brother.

“Hey Ike, someone’s here to see you,” Kyle told him. Ike looked up and gave us a weak smile.

“Oh, hey guys,” Ike greeted with a sheepish smile, “What are you guys up to?”

“We were just drooping off Kyle’s homework,” Stan replied, “And we heard you got into a fight at school today.”

“Yeah, what’s that about?” I asked.

“It’s not my fault!” he defended, “It’s not like I go around picking fights! Filmore was making fun of someone and getting everyone in on it, so I had to defend them! When I told him to stop, he just swung at me, so I had to fight!”

“The principal told me you started the fight,” Kyle pointed out.

“That’s because all of Filmore’s stupid friends took his side and lied for him,” Ike grumbled.

“Did you at least get a few good punches in?” I wondered.

“Kenny!” Kyle scolded.

Ike grinned. “Oh, I got more than a few good punches,” he replied, “You should’ve seen Filmore! He looked he even worse than I do!”

“Nice,” I praised, “But who was the kid you were defending?”

Suddenly, Ike blushed and turned away. “Um, I’d rather not say,” he murmured.

“Why?” I asked, a huge grin forming on my face, “Was it someone you have a crush on?” I swear Ike’s blush grew deeper.

“Maybe,” he muttered.

“All right guys, time to stop bugging my brother,” Kyle prompted, “He’s in time-out until mom and dad get home and decide what to do with him.”

“That’s all right,” I said, “I’ve gotta go meet my girl anyway. She’s letting me sit in on their goth readings today.”

“Oh! Tell the goths I said hi!” Ike exclaimed as Stan and I left the house. I gave him a backwards glance.

“Do you want me to give you a ride to Henrietta’s house?” Stan asked me once we were outside. I nodded.

“That would be great, thanks,” I said, “Plus I left my stuff in your truck.”

We climbed in and Stan started up his truck. As usual it didn’t take long to get to Henrietta’s house. I could’ve easily just walked to her house, but it was cold out and my coat is ratty and old. When we got to her house I got out and thanked Stan for the ride.

I walked up to the house and knocked on the door. A few moments later Henrietta appeared in the doorway.

“Hey there,” she greeted, stepping aside to let me in. I gave her a kiss on the cheek as I stepped inside. “How was Ike?” she asked.

“A little worse for wear, but otherwise all right,” I replied, “Apparently he got into it with Filmore because he was making fun of someone Ike may or may not have a crush on. According to Ike, Filmore got it worse.”

“Nice,” Henrietta snickered as she led me up to her room. When we got there Pete, Michael, and Firkle were already waiting for us. They didn’t look any friendlier than they usually did towards me, but I’m guessing Henrietta told them to play nice.

“Hey guys,” I greeted in my friendliest voice.

“Yo,” Pete said in a deadpan voice.

I sat down on the floor next to Henrietta. It was a little awkward having four teenagers and a preteen sitting on the floor. It was kind of crowded. But I wasn’t about to complain. Besides, it’s not like we could all fit on her bed.

“Hey Firkle, did you see the fight Ike got into at school today?” I asked him.

Firkle looked a little surprised that he was being addressed. “Yeah,” he answered, “I don’t really know how it started, though. I wasn’t really paying attention. I was busy reading my book.”

I felt a little disappointed by his response. I was sort of hoping he had overheard who Filmore had been making fun of before Ike stepped in.

“Aw, so you don’t know how it started?” I whined.

“No,” he replied, “Besides, I was a fair distance away to hear what they were saying. They fought during lunch and I sit in a corner of the cafeteria. And just when I thought about going over to watch a teacher had broken it up.”

“Can we get started, please?” Michael asked, “I don’t want to talk about school anymore.”

“All right, keep your pants on, Michael,” Henrietta scolded, “Pete, why don’t you start?”

The goths went around and read their favorite Edgar Allan Poe stories. I listened quietly and waited for it to be my turn. Maybe it was just me, but it seemed like Michael read extra slow so I wouldn’t have a turn.

“Do you even read Edgar Allan Poe?” Pete questioned accusingly when Michael had finally finished his long drawl.

“Yes,” I replied, trying not to be snippy, “You do know that more than just goths read Poe, right?” Pete gave me a nasty look.

“All right then, what’s your favorite of his stories then?” he asked.

“That would be ‘The Tell-Tale Heart,’” I answered without even flinching.

“Whoa, that story is intense,” Firkle muttered.

“Shall I read it for you?” I inquired, taking the book of stories from Henrietta. I turned to the right page and started reading. Because of the years I spent reading to Karen, I knew how to keep my audience engaged. And I had the goths enraptured as I read about the man who went insane over the old man’s blind eye. The “vulture eye” as he called it. When I got to the final lines, they were watching me with intense and awed looks.

“Wow, that story always gets me,” Henrietta said as I finished.

“It was ok,” Michael huffed, trying not to sound impressed.

I smirked at him. I could tell he liked my story. I was about to say something, when there was a knock on the bedroom door. Wait, were Henrietta’s parents were home for once?

“Oh Henrietta!” her mother sang out, entering without permission, “We’re home, sweetie!” Beside me, Henrietta growled.

“Shut up, mom!” she shouted, “Get out of my room! I have friends over!”

“Ooh, I can see that,” her mother stated, casting her eyes around the room. I flinched back slightly when she spotted me. “Oh my, who’s this? He doesn’t look like your other friends.”

I opened my mouth to introduce myself, but Henrietta quickly cupped a hand over my mouth to silence me. “It’s none of your business, mom,” she hissed, “If you’re not around enough to know who my friends are, then you don’t have a right to know!”

Mrs. Biggle was wearing a large smile, but it was obviously fake. “Maybe you kids ought to go,” she said, in a fake voice.

Pete, Michael, Firkle, and I all stood up to leave. I wanted to stay and support Henrietta, but I felt that would probably not be the best thing to do right now. So, the four of us bid her good-bye and quickly left the house.

Once we were outside, the goths looked back at the house and scowled. “Conformist bitch,” Michael snarled, “She can never just leave us alone. Always trying to control Henrietta’s life and tell her what to do.”

“She makes me want to cut something,” Firkle muttered, lighting up a cigarette.

“So, I take her parents intrude on her life often?” I asked.

“Only all the time,” Pete scoffed, “They even sent her to a camp once to try to conform her to their ways. They’re evil.”

Though I wouldn’t go so far to call her evil, Mrs. Biggle did seem like an overbearing mother. Since we had been kicked out of the house and we had no reason to stick around, the four of us went our separate ways.

That night, after I had made dinner for the family and tucked Karen into bed, I was sitting in my own room working on some homework (which admittedly I should have worked on a lot earlier in the week), when I heard someone knocking on the front door. Wondering who on Earth would ever want to come to see my family, especially at this hour, I went to answer it before it woke up Karen.

I was extremely surprised to find Henrietta standing in the doorway looking a little annoyed with a black bag around her arm. She looked up when I opened the door.

“Henrietta? What are you doing here?” I wondered, totally confused.

“Can I stay here tonight?” she asked, “I had a fight with my parents and I really don’t want to be around them right now.”

“Uh, sure. Come on in,” I replied, stepping aside to let her in. She nodded her thanks and followed me into the house.

“Sorry about the mess,” I muttered, becoming acutely aware of what a trash heap my house was, “No one in my family ever picks up after themselves.”

“It’s fine,” Henrietta dismissed, “You should see the trailer Pete’s family lives in. You can’t take even one step without stepping on something.”

Smiling slightly, I led her down the hall to my room. If I had known she was coming I would’ve taken down some of my posters of bikini babes that I still had from my youth. Hey, I’m a guy, don’t judge me.

My room was considerably cleaner than the rest of the house because unlike the rest of my family I like my space to be organized. I had acquired a few more knick-knacks and baubles from my childhood that I had neatly tucked away. I nervously watched as Henrietta cast her eyes around my room, waiting her final judgement.

“Not bad,” she said at last, “Not what I expected.”

“Thanks,” I replied, “I might be poor, but I try to keep a nice room.”

I watched as she walked over to my bed and started taking her shoes off. I cleared my throat. “Not that I’m not glad you’re here,” I clarified, “You’re always welcome here, but I was just wondering why you didn’t go to one of your friends’ house? Surely one of them live closer to you then me?”

Henrietta smirked. “Usually I would go to Michael’s house when I’m mad,” she admitted, “Or Firkle’s. But I wanted to go to you because the argument I had with my parents was about you.”

I blinked in surprise at her. “Why were you fighting about me?” I wondered.

“Because I told them that you were my boyfriend and they didn’t exactly… approve of you,” she scowled, “They know your family is poor and for some reason they think that means you’re a horrible person or something. I told them they can’t tell me who I can and can’t date, especially when they’re not even at home most of the time and things just sort of escalated from there. Eventually I just said, ‘fuck it’ and left.”

I felt rather honored that she would defend me so fiercely to her parents, and I couldn’t help but smile to myself.

“Turn around,” she said suddenly.

“What?” I asked, coming out of my daze.

“Turn around,” she repeated, “I’m going to get changed into my night clothes and I don’t want you to see me naked.”

“Oh! Right!” I exclaimed, blushing slightly and turning my back to her. I heard the rustling of clothes as Henrietta slipped out of her dress and opened the bag she had brought with her. I want to say I was a good man and had my back turned the whole time, but curiosity got the better of me and I couldn’t help but sneak a peek.

Henrietta had her back turned to me and was crouching over her bag in just her panties. A blush formed on my face but then I noticed the tattoo on the back of her left shoulder. It was a black rose that was bleeding between the petals. In the center of the rose was a broken heart.

Before she could catch me peeping I quickly turned back around. I wondered if her tattoo had any meaning, but of course I couldn’t ask her.

“You can turn around now,” she said suddenly, startling me out of my thoughts. I turned around and saw that she was now wearing a long black and dark grey night shirt and loose-fitting pajama pants. I don’t know why but I envisioned her wearing something kinkier than that.

“Do you have a bathroom I can use to brush my teeth?” she asked.

“Yeah,” I replied, “It’s at the very end of the hall. Try not to be too hard on the taps.” She nodded and grabbed her toothbrush.

“I’ll be right back,” she told me.

While she was gone I took the time to get into my own night clothes. On cold nights I slept in heavier clothes and usually kept my parka on. But tonight didn’t seem too cold so I just put on a t-shirt and some sweat pants. Then I followed Henrietta to the bathroom to brush my own teeth. (I didn’t want them to fall out like my dad’s!)

When we got back to my room I immediately started panicking over our bedding arrangement. “Ok, um, I guess you can take the bed and I can probably find an extra blanket to lay on,” I muttered, “Or maybe I can sleep on the couch…”

“Kenny,” Henrietta interrupted, “We’re a couple. We can sleep in the same bed, you know.” She raised an amused eyebrow at me as I blushed.

“Oh. I guess we can do that too,” I said.

We climbed into my bed and we lay in a spooning position, with her back to my front. I reached over her to turn off the light, plunging my room into darkness. We lay in silence as I felt her breathing against me.

“Is this all right?” I asked her.

“Yeah, Kenny, it’s fine,” she replied.

“Um, is it all right if I put my arms around you?”

She paused a moment and for a second I thought she was going to say no. “Yes,” she said eventually, “You may.”

As gently as I could, I wrapped my arms around her waist, keeping her close to me. I softly nuzzled her shoulder before closing my eyes and falling asleep.

Chapter Text

I never had a girl sleep over at my house before and I typically don’t spend the night after I have sex with a girl. So, I was a little confused/surprised when I woke the next morning with someone in my arms until I remembered Henrietta had spent the night.

The goth girl was still fast asleep in my arms. At some point during the night she had rolled over to face me and had one arm slung around my shoulders. I blushed slightly at the position I found myself in. I’m sure it hadn’t been intentional, but it was still rather intimate and close. Also, I really had to pee and I couldn’t figure out how to get up without waking her.

With great difficulty and carefulness, I slowly unwrapped my arms from her and wriggled my way out of bed. Then I quickly shuffled off to the bathroom to relieve myself and brush my teeth.

When I got back from the bathroom, Henrietta had just opened her eyes and was waking up. As she blinked sleepily, I smiled at her.

“Good morning, angel,” I greeted, “How did you sleep last night?”

“Ugh, don’t call me angel,” she grumbled, “It makes me sound like some conformist preppy goody two-shoes.”

“Noted,” I said.

“Anyway, I slept fine,” she replied, “Your bed isn’t as bad as you made it sound. And I hate to admit it, but I rather liked having your arms around me.” I couldn’t help but feel good about myself at that.

“Hey, I was thinking of something,” I told her as she got and started getting dressed, (I remembered to turn around first,) “We should have a little get together with our friends.”

“And why would we do that?” Henrietta wondered.

“I just think it would be good for them to interact,” I replied, resisting the temptation to sneak a peak at my girlfriend, “I don’t expect them to get along or become buddies or anything. But maybe compared to my friends, I wouldn’t seem so bad in comparison.”

Henrietta smirked at me. “Ok, but you’re stopping any fights that break out,” she said, “And we’re not having it at my house.”

“Don’t worry. I’m sure Kyle will lend us his house,” I replied, “He loves me and lets me borrow anything!”

“Didn’t you drive his car into a ditch?” she wondered.

“Where did you hear that?” I exclaimed, “I mean, uh, he got over that.”

After we were dressed, I made my lady some breakfast before we went to school. She walked to school with me, though she swatted my hand away every time I tried to hold it. Thankfully I didn’t have to worry about making myself a lunch as we only had a half day of school for some reason that I forgot.

“Hey, Pete, Michael, and I are going to stop by the middle school after we get out if you want to come with us,” Henrietta told me, “Usually when the high school has a half day we get out about the time the middle and elementary schools are having lunch, so we were going to go see Firkle. He always eats outside.”

“Oh yeah, I wouldn’t mind going along,” I said, “Maybe I could catch a glance of Karen. See how she’s getting along. She says she’s doing ok in school, but it would make me feel better if I could see it with my own eyes.”

Despite walking to school, we got there in record time. I didn’t take the bus anymore because I didn’t trust the bus driver. I think she hated me. Anyway, if I was really desperate for a ride I could always get Stan or Kyle to drive me. Besides walking kept me in shape.

Before we parted to go to homeroom, I leaned in to give Henrietta a kiss on the cheek, but she smacked me before bidding me good-bye. I guess that was her way of telling me no public displays of affection. When I got to homeroom, which I had with my friends, I went over and sat with Kyle and Stan. Fatass also came over uninvited.

“Hey,” I greeted Kyle, “Did Ike get in trouble with your parents?”

“Yeah,” he replied with a slight sigh, “He tried to explain that he was standing up for someone but because he wouldn’t tell them who, they thought he was making it up and grounded him for two weeks. They were really upset that their ‘perfect little angel’ even got in a fight.”

Stan looked at him. “Do you believe him?” he asked.

Kyle hesitated before sighing. “I believe him,” he said, “I just don’t know why he won’t tell me who he was defending. Even if he has a crush on the person, it’s not like I’m going to judge him or anything.”

“Maybe he’s worried you wouldn’t like the person he has a crush on,” I mused, “Like, maybe he’s gay?”

“Ha!” Cartman suddenly laughed, startling us, “Your little brother is gay! I knew he was a fag! Ha!” Kyle glared at him.

“He said ‘maybe,’ fatass,” he growled, “Pay attention!”

We chatted a little bit more before I remembered my idea. “By the way, Kyle, can I ask you for a favor?” He gave me a skeptical look.

“I don’t know,” he murmured, “The last time you asked me for a favor my car ended up upside-down in a ditch on fire.”

“Don’t worry, it’s nothing too extreme,” I assured him, “I was just wondering if I could host a get together at your house because my house is kind of, you know, shitty.”

“Hmm… who would be at this get together?” Kyle asked.

“Well, there’d be us and maybe your girlfriends if you really wanted them there,” I explained, “And then there would also be Henrietta and her friends.”

Cartman’s lip curled at the mention of my girlfriend. “Ew, the goths would be there?” he scowled, “No thank you.”

“That’s fine,” I muttered, “I would prefer you didn’t come anyway.” I turned back to Kyle. “You wouldn’t have to worry about snacks or anything. I would pay for stuff.”

“Fine,” Kyle replied, “I’ll ask my mom and dad after school.”

“Thanks Kyle!” I said, “You’re the best!”

After that the first bell rang and we went off to our shortened classes.

“I love half days,” I mused out loud as the goths and I walked towards the middle school, “Nothing’s better than only having to go to school for half the regular day. I wish every day of school could be like that.”

“I don’t know. I think not having to go to school at all is better,” Pete said with a shrug.

“Same,” Michael agreed.

“Yeah, I could do with out my teacher getting on my case all the time,” Henrietta muttered, “Bitch always complaining that I don’t conform to her standards. Who does she think she is? My mom?”

“Well at least it’s the weekend now,” I pointed out before the three of them could start ranting, “And we don’t have to deal with teachers again until Monday.”

We reached the middle school and went around to where there were outdoor tables for students to eat their lunches outside if they so desired. I remembered my friends and I spent a majority of our time out here when we were in middle school since it was our one opportunity to get some fresh air that wasn’t gym.

Firkle was sitting by himself at a table away from the other kids when we arrived. I also spotted Ike, Karen, and Craig Tucker’s younger sister Tricia sitting together at a table. I was glad to see that Karen seemed to be getting along well with them.

We couldn’t actually walk up to the young people, as there was a chain link fence surrounding the area, but it still allowed us to see everything. The goths walked up to the fence and hissed at their friend.

“Psst! Firkle! Over here!” Michael called softly.

Firkle perked up and looked over to where we were standing. His face instantly lit up with joy and he got up and ran over to us. I didn’t know Firkle as well as Henrietta and the other two, but this was the most emotion I had ever seen on his face.

“Hey guys!” he greeted, slipping his fingers between the links in the fence, “What are you doing here?”

“We had a half day at school so we thought we’d come visit you during lunch,” Pete explained, gently touching his friend’s fingers.

Firkle seemed overjoyed by this and began rambling to his friends about something. While he did, I looked back over to where my sister was sitting and suddenly noticed what Ike was doing. He didn’t seem to be listening to anything Tricia was saying and was staring right past her to where Firkle was standing. Even from here I could see that his cheeks were tinted red. Odd.

The goths chatted for several minutes until Firkle realized that lunch was almost over and he would have to go back inside soon. He bid us good-bye, well more so his friends than me, and started back inside. It seemed to me that he seemed a little sad to go.

We were about to start walking away when I heard someone call my name. I turned around and saw Karen coming towards me. I smiled as she approached.

“You didn’t think you could get away with coming here and not saying hello to your little sister, did you?” she scolded me.

“Sorry,” I apologized, “I didn’t think you noticed me and I didn’t want to interrupt your time with your friends.” Karen smiled sweetly.

“It’s all right,” she said, “Just say hi next time you drop by, all right?”

“All right, kiddo,” I replied, “I’ll see ya at home.” Karen nodded then ran back inside before the bell rang.

The goths and I started walking home together, though I had much farther to walk than they did. We walked in silence for a minute before I decided to ask.

“Does Firkle always sit by himself like that?” I wondered.

“Yeah,” Henrietta replied, “There aren’t any other goths his age and he would never sit with a conformist.”

“I think he prefers to be alone anyway,” Michael added. I wasn’t too sure about that, but then again I didn’t really know the kid that well so I kept my mouth shut.

We reached Michael’s house first where Michael and Pete said good bye to Henrietta and ignored me before going into the house together. Henrietta smirked at me.

“You know, Firkle and I have walked in on those two fucking more than once,” she told me as we started down the street once more, “You would think they would learn to give some sign that they’re doing it. Like turn on some music. Or put a sock on the door knob. Or lock the damn door.”

I chuckled. “Yeah, you’ve gone on this rant before,” I informed her, “Three times, in fact.”

“I bet they’re going up to Michael’s room right now to do it,” she continued as if I hadn’t spoken, “I think suppressing their affection during the day makes them really horny at night.”

“Eh, I can see it,” I said.

We walked in silence for a few minutes before Henrietta sighed. “By the way, did Firkle seem a little… sad to you?” she asked.

“He did look kind of lonely,” I replied, “Especially when he was going back inside, like he didn’t want to leave you guys. I would’ve said something, but Michael said he likes to be alone and I didn’t want to contradict him about someone I don’t know that well.”

“Well, when Pete and Michael first started hooking up, Firkle and I started hanging out more,” Henrietta explained, “Even if they were busy, I was always available. But now that I’m dating you I haven’t been able to hang out with him as much and I think that’s made him feel left out and really alone.”

“Aw! Well now I feel bad!” I whined. I didn’t like to think I was making someone miserable by dating Henrietta. She patted me on the arm.

“Well, you know, Pete and Michael could try harder to spend time with him,” she pointed out, “Why should I be the one who always has to fix their problems? I don’t want to have to stop dating you because those two can’t step up and be better friends.”

I couldn’t help but blush slightly at her words. She wanted to keep dating me.

“I’m sure you guys can work something out,” I said as we reached Henrietta’s house.

“Yeah, I hope so,” she sighed lightly. I walked her to her door and kissed her lightly on the lips. I was about to walk away but she suddenly stopped me. “Wait, before you go, I have something for you.”

I watched as she ducked into her house and a moment later came out with a large lumpy package and handed it to me. As I started to unwrap it, she explained. “I noticed your parka is falling apart and I felt bad that you have to wear it all the time, so I bought you a knew one,” she told me.

I stared in awe as I unfolded a brand-new parka. It was much like my old parka, only this one was dark orange in color and had an even softer inner lining. It was wonderful.

“Henrietta,” I breathed, “This is… I don’t even… You didn’t have to do this.”

She smiled slightly. “I know I didn’t,” she replied, “But I wanted to. I hated seeing you shivering all the time. I hope you like the color. I asked Stan and Kyle and they said your favorite color is orange, but all the oranges they had were too bright and obnoxious for my tastes. So I got you something a bit darker.”

I couldn’t help but fling my arms around her in a hug. “I love it!” I told her, “This is the nicest gift anyone has ever given me!”

Henrietta was taken aback slightly by my hug, but she soon reciprocated it. “I’m glad you like,” she said.

Chapter Text

“My parents said that as long as you don’t destroy the house and clean it up before they get back then you’re allowed to throw your little party,” Kyle told me over the phone the next day. I grinned happily.

“That’s great!” I exclaimed, “It’s not a party, though. It’s a small get together.”

“Yeah, whatever,” Kyle dismissed, “Honestly, I think the only reason they agreed is because they’re going away on some retreat this weekend. Otherwise they would never let you have free reign over their house.”

“Hey, I’m not that destructive!” I argued.

“If you say so,” Kyle said sarcastically. I could practically hear his eyes rolling.

“Eh, shut up Kyle,” I scolded, “Anyway, thanks! See you later.” Then I hung up.

Karen and I were currently at the store, looking for snacks for the get together. Even though she wasn’t going to be there, I agreed to let her come along anyway. She wanted to help pick stuff out, plus we just wanted to spend time together.

She was also going to spend the night at Tricia’s house and wanted snacks for that. Ulterior motive.

“Ooh! Mini marshmallows! Get those!” she exclaimed, “Everyone loves mini marshmallows!”

Grinning, I grabbed two bags, one for her and one for me and dropped them in the cart. Next we went through the chip aisle, grabbing every kind of chip and pretzel we could think of. Then it was off to the drink aisle. I made sure to stay in budget, of course. Hopefully the goths wouldn’t mind that I got the generic brand of soda. Didn’t want anyone getting suspicious.

“Do you want some soda for your sleep over at Tricia’s?” I asked Karen.

“A house of caffeine filled pre-teens unable to sleep? Yes please!” my sister replied enthusiastically. Chuckling, I put a few more bottles of soda into the cart.

“Ok, I think we have enough snacks for the get together,” I decided, looking at the growing pile of groceries.

“I disagree, but do whatever you want,” Karen dismissed. She ran under the logic of “never having enough snacks.”

After we got plates, napkins, and plastic utensils, we headed towards the check out. While we were in line, I heard an annoyingly familiar voice call out to me.

“Ey, Kinny!” Cartman greeted waving obnoxiously from another line. I tried to ignore him and pretend I didn’t see him, but he walked over and slapped me on the back. “Hey buddy! Didn’t you hear me calling you?”

“Oh, hey Cartman,” I sighed, “You here by yourself?”

“Nah, I’m with my mom,” he explained, “She still thinks she has to take me with her every time she goes grocery shopping. What are you doing here?”

“I’m getting stuff for the get together tonight,” I told him.

“Oh, right, that’s tonight,” Cartman said, “Thanks for reminding me. I almost forgot, and then I wouldn’t have shown up!”

And we definitely don’t want that to happen, I thought in annoyance.

“This was a really good idea, by the way,” the fatass continued, lowering his voice so Karen wouldn’t overhear, “Ingenious, really. Getting the goth bitch’s friends to trust you as well? I would have never thought of that! It’ll definitely make my revenge sweeter!”

An angry feeling starting forming in my stomach. Every time I forgot about that stupid revenge plan, he had to keep bringing it up. “Yeah,” I muttered.

“In fact…” Cartman dug into his pocket and, as discreetly as he could, pulled out his wallet and handed me a hundred bucks. “Keep up the good work,” he said, patting me on the back.

As he walked back to his mother, I angrily realized he didn’t even compliment my new parka. The asshole.

“Okay, kiddo, you got everything you need?” I asked Karen as we stood in front of the Tucker house, “Your sleeping bag, your toothbrush, the bag of snacks, the soda, your hairbrush, your dolly?”

“Yes, Kenny, we went over this before we left the house, remember?” Karen replied lightly, rolling her eyes.

“I know, I know,” I sighed, “It’s just, this is your first sleep over and I want to be sure you’re prepared. I worry about you, you know?”

Karen smiled gently at me. “I know you do,” she said, “It’s why you’re the best big brother ever. I’ll be fine, all right?”

I took a deep breath. “Ok.” I reached up and knocked on the door. The sound of at least five squealing girls sounded from inside.

“SHUT THE FUCK UP!” shouted a voice that was definitely not a girl, “AND GET OFF ME SO I CAN ANSWER THE GOD DAMN DOOR!”

Half a minute later, Tricia’s older brother Craig answered the door. He was a bit disheveled, like he just gotten out of bed, or survived an earthquake. He also seemed very peeved but lightened a little when he saw us.

“Oh, hey Kenny,” he greeted breathlessly, “Here to drop off your sister?”

“Yep,” I replied, “Uh, are your parents here?”

“Nope,” he hissed, “They left me deal with five pre-teen girls all alone. Apparently they’ve invented a new game called ‘Pile on the Craig.’”

I tried to contain my laughter. “I’m sorry,” I said, though I didn’t look very so.

He was probably about to call me out on this when Tricia arrived at the door. “Hey Karen!” she exclaimed, “Come on in! We’re getting the party games out!”

“Goodie! Bye big brother!” Karen called as she followed her friend into the house.

“Have fun!” I yelled to her. I turned back to Craig. “You have the paramedics on speed dial, right?” I asked.

“Yuppers,” he replied.

“Great! Have a good night, Craig!” I said, walking back down the path.

“Oh yeah, gonna be so much fun,” Craig replied sarcastically. And he closed the door behind him.

After that I carried the rest of the groceries over to Kyle’s house. Luckily, he didn’t live that far away from Craig and didn’t have to lug those bags around for long. Also, I was lucky that Kyle answered the door right away when I knocked.

“Hey Kenny,” Kyle greeted me, “Let me take some of those bags for you.” Gratefully, I handed him a few of the grocery bags and followed him into the house. “Nice parka by the way. Where did you get it?”

“Henrietta bought it for me,” I told him, “She saw how ratty my old one was and got me a new one. Wasn’t that sweet of her?”

“That is awfully nice,” Kyle noted, “I wouldn’t expect a goth to do something like that.” I felt a bit of pride for my girlfriend at that.

“Thanks for letting me do this, Kyle,” I told him, “I think this will really help me with Henrietta’s friends. They really don’t seem to like me that much. Or at all.”

Kyle snickered slightly. “They don’t like that you seduced their friend?” he asked.

“No, they do not,” I replied. We walked into the kitchen and started opening bags and putting the snacks into bowls. Just as we started putting them out in the living room, there was a cough from the stairs. Turning around, we saw Ike standing at the bottom of the stairs.

“What do you want, Ike?” Kyle asked with a sigh, “You know mom and dad said you’re grounded, right?”

“I know,” Ike muttered, “But I really want to hang out with you guys. It’s not fair that you guys get to hang out and have snacks while I’m confined to my room.” He paused a moment before speaking again. “Plus… there’s someone I wanted to talk to.”

“Who?” Kyle asked. Ike started to blush and didn’t answer. Kyle finally sighed. “Ok, look. Mom and dad said you can’t come downstairs. So if you stay on the stairs the whole time then you won’t technically be ‘downstairs’ all right?”

Ike’s face lit up instantly. “Thanks Kyle!” he exclaimed.

“You’re welcome,” he replied, “Just don’t block the way if someone has to use the bathroom. Even if it’s Cartman.”

“I was hoping Cartman wouldn’t come,” I told Kyle truthfully, “Unfortunately he’s coming anyway.”

“Shame,” Kyle sighed.

We were interrupted by a knock on the front door. Seeing as it was Kyle’s house, he went to answer it. Stan and Wendy stood in the doorway.

“Hey Kyle,” Stan greeted, “Hope you don’t mind I brought Wendy.”

“You’re going to have to bring that up with Kenny,” Kyle pointed out, “He’s the one who organized this. I just provided the house.”

“Eh, I don’t really care,” I called from the couch, though in actuality I did mind a little bit, “Did you invite your girlfriend, Kyle?”

“I just told her to come by if she felt like it,” he said, “I know you wanted this to be a chance for your friends and Henrietta’s friends to get to know each other better. And I don’t know if you really consider Rebecca a friend.”

I didn’t, but I wasn’t going to tell Kyle that.

While Stan and Wendy got situated, there was another knock on the door. This time I decided to answer in case it was Henrietta and her friends. Turns out, that exactly who it was.

Henrietta, Pete, Michael, and Firkle were all standing in the doorway together. For some reason, Pete was holding a large black umbrella, even though it wasn’t raining out. In fact, it was bright and sunny, even as the sun started to pass its highest point.

“Hey guys! Glad you could make it!” I greeted happily, “Um, what’s with the umbrella?”

“It’s to block out the burning awful sun,” Michael explained. I blinked at them.

“Oh. Ok,” I replied, “Well, come on in. We’ve got snacks and stuff all set out.”

I led the goths inside where Henrietta immediately went to my side. She gave me a small smile. “Hey, how are you doing?” she asked.

“Pretty good,” I answered, “I just hope this all goes well. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stop Cartman from coming, so he’ll probably be here soon.”

“Ugh,” she muttered, “I hate that fatass.”

“I know. We all do,” I sighed, “But knowing him he’ll probably be late and just show up, eat a lot, then pass out.”

“Just as long as he doesn’t try to talk to me,” she said.

We all went to the living room were Stan, Kyle, and Wendy were. I couldn’t help but notice Ike perk up from where he was on the stairs. He seemed a bit excited about something. But I ignored it for now.

“Hey guys! Look who’s here!” I announced to my friends.

“Oh good, it’s not Cartman,” Kyle sighed with relief, “Feel free to help yourself to the food. I recommend taking as much as you can before Cartman gets here.”

With a nod, Pete walked over to the table where Kyle and I had set out all the food and snacks and started eating the mini marshmallows. Beside me, Henrietta let out a soft sigh and rolled her eyes. I gave her a questioning look and she just shook her head.

To get everyone talking, I took Michael and pulled him over to where Stan was. My friend looked a little nervous, probably because of his history with the goths, but dang it! He was going to make an effort whether he liked it or not!

It took a little while, but eventually everyone had food and was chatting with each other. Kyle was kind enough to get his brother a plate of food and a soda. As I talked to Henrietta about Nevermore, (she was almost done with it,) I suddenly noticed Ike on the stairs. He looked really nervous and was staring at someone, but I couldn’t see who.

But then Firkle walked by the stairs and Ike watched him with wide eyes. When Firkle got close enough, Ike opened his mouth as if to greet him, but I think the poor boy got too scared and backed down. As I watched, this happened several more times, and every time Ike tried to talk to Firkle he would become way too shy to speak. And I suddenly realized something.

Ike had a crush on Firkle.

I briefly excused myself and went over to Kyle. I dragged him into the kitchen where I could talk to him privately. He gave me a look as I did.

“Kenny? Is there something wrong?” he wondered.

“I have to tell you something,” I said, “I’ve finally discovered something. Not only is your brother gay, he’s gay for a goth. Firkle, to be exact.”

Kyle stared at me for a moment before sighing. “You know, I thought it was something like that,” he told me, “I had a sneaking suspicion. I just didn’t know who he was crushing on. You’re sure it’s Firkle?”

“Pretty dang sure,” I replied, “Ike’s been trying to talk to him the whole time, but he’s too scared.” A pity smile formed on Kyle’s face.

“Aw! Poor Ike!” he said, “He used to be so confident.”

“Maybe we could talk to him sometime,” I suggested, “After this gathering. See if we can’t help him somehow. For now, though, I have a feeling Cartman is going to show up and I have to keep him from ruining everything.”

Almost as soon as I finished saying this, there was an obnoxiously loud banging on the front door. Kyle sighed in annoyance.

“He’s here,” he muttered.

With a roll of my eyes, I went to the front door and opened it. Sure enough, Cartman was standing there with a smug grin on his face. He raised his eyebrows at me.

“Oh hey Kinny,” he greeted, “Sorry I’m late. But it’s always cooler to be fashionably late, you know.”

Yeah, and you’re anything but cool, I thought to myself. I thought it would probably be rude to point out I hadn’t wanted him to come. So, instead, I simply stood aside and let him in.

Cartman practically shoved me aside to enter. “What up, bitches?” he exclaimed, “Now the party can really start! Where’s the food?”

I walked past him to go over to Henrietta. “Told ya he only cared about the food,” I murmured to her. She rolled her eyes.

“I don’t want to say all fat people do,” she replied, “Since I used to be overweight myself. But in his case, there’s really no surprise.”

Grinning, I leaned over and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek before going over to where Cartman was piling mountains of food onto his plate. I let out an annoyed breath of air.

“Come on Cartman, leave some for the village,” I joked.

“Fuck off, Kenny,” he grumbled, his voice muffled by the handful of chips he had shoved into his mouth. Some of it sprayed out as he talked.

“Just try not to get any on anyone, all right?” I jeered as I walked away.

“Fuck off, Kenny!” Cartman called, which was shortly followed by a few choking and coughing sounds.

I walked over to where Firkle was standing by himself near the kitchen. “Hey, kiddo!” I greeted, “Have you said hi to Ike yet?”

Firkle blinked at me then looked over to where Ike was sitting on the stairs. The Canadian had been staring, but quickly whipped back around. “Oh yeah, Ike lives here,” Firkle murmured, “I guess I could go over and greet him.”

He handed me his plate and walked over to Ike. I watched him exchange a few words with Kyle’s young brother, who looked like he was silently freaking out. A moment later, Firkle walked back to me and took back his plate.

“So, what’d he say?” I wondered.

“Um, he didn’t really say anything,” Firkle admitted, “I tried to say hi to him and he just sort of stared at me. I mean, I know I don’t have the best reputation in our class, but when we talk on social media he seems fine.”

It seems I would have to try something else if I was going to get Ike to talk Firkle. Maybe Henrietta could help me with that. But right now I had to do damage control and make sure Cartman wasn’t annoying the other goths.

He was. Currently, the fatass was standing next to Pete and Michael bugging the crap out of them. He was asking them all sorts of stupid questions like “why are you goth?” and “are you two fags?” while Pete pressed himself against Michael. Neither of them answered Eric’s questions.

With a sigh, I walked over and grabbed Cartman’s arm, dragging him away from them. When we were a good distance away, I stopped and glared at him.

“Hey Kenny,” he said casually.

“What the hell are you doing?” I growled, “Why are you bugging Henrietta’s friends like that? Why would you call them fags?”

“Eh heh, Kenny, you still don’t get it, do you?” Cartman chuckled, “It’s all for the plan!”

I sighed. “Seriously, Cartman, can’t you think of anything else these days?” I asked.

“Uh, not really,” he replied. Looking around, he quickly pulled me away to make sure no one was listening. “Look, the school dance is coming up in a month and that’s when I’m going to spring my trap! I’m just trying to help you look good for yer girlfriend!”

The school dance. I had forgotten about that. At the end of every school year in High School there was a dance to celebrate the end of the year. Make no mistake, though, it was different from prom which was really only for seniors.

I wondered if I could even convince Henrietta to go. I knew she hated social gatherings like parties and dances. Maybe if her friends were there as well? But at this point did I still want to go through with this plan? It was a tough question. I was starting to really like Henrietta.

As I was thinking, Stan and Wendy suddenly walked up to me. “Hey Kenny,” Stan greeted, “You said you bought mini marshmallows, right? Where are they?”

“Huh? Aren’t they on the table?” I asked.

“If they were we wouldn’t be asking you, now would we?” Wendy pointed out.

“I know what happened,” Henrietta interrupted, “Try getting Pete to tell you where they went. He loves mini marshmallows. HEY PETE!”

At her call Pete walked up, the entire bowl of marshmallows I had set out in his hands. “Yeah?” he said. Henrietta gestured to them.

“There you go,” she said, “Pete, you can’t hog all the mini marshmallows to yourself. I know they’re favorite, but others want some too.”

Pete gave her a blank look and instead of responding continued to pop the small bits of confectionary sugar in his mouth. Frowning, Henrietta reached for the bowl, but Pete held it out of her reach.

I couldn’t help but be amused by their antics.