This is for colonelingus - I know you’re headed home tomorrow and I’m thinking of you <3 I know you like Bunny, so I hope you’ll like this little fic where Kenny and Butters reunite at Stan and Kyle’s wedding!
Kenny was surprised that Stan and Kyle’s wedding was such a modest affair. Though they were forty-five years old and most of their friends had considered them ‘married’ since they were in their early twenties, it was a big deal that Colorado had finally legalized gay marriage, and Kenny had expected a huge turnout for the couple who had been voted ‘Most Likely to Marry Each Other’ at the end of his senior year in high school. That had been a prank orchestrated by Cartman — Stan and Kyle weren’t out and weren’t even together at the time — but everyone who knew them had seen the truth in it.
The ceremony was to take place in Kyle’s parents’ backyard, and the programs that Ike was handing out at the front door explained that this had been the site of Stan and Kyle’s first kiss, thirty years ago. Kenny had never been aware that they had kissed when they were fifteen. He wanted to take one or both of them aside and interview them about it, so he wandered upstairs toward Kyle’s old childhood bedroom while the rest of the guests congregated in the backyard. Despite the fact that he was back in his home town, he was completely unprepared to bump into the first guy that he ever kissed, three years before Stan and Kyle allegedly locked lips in Kyle’s backyard.
"Oh, Kenny!" Butters looked the same, only with less hair, or maybe it was just thinner — was that the same thing? Kenny felt slightly dizzy. Aside from some light Facebook stalking, he hadn’t seen Butters since he was eighteen years old, and now, suddenly, Butters was hugging him tightly, laughing in his ear as if this meeting in the hallway of the Broflovski household on Kyle’s wedding day was positively delightful.
"You’re back in the country?" Kenny said when Butters pulled away, grinning.
"Seems so!" Butter said. Kenny wasn’t sure if that was some kind of comment on how stupid his question was; clearly Butters was in the country, he was right fucking here. "I been back for a few years, in fact. What a great day! Can you believe it? Stan and Kyle, after all this time."
"Well, yeah, but. They’ve been together — I think they’ve lived together for like, fifteen years. Anyway, um. How are you?"
Before Butters could answer, a door open behind them. Kenny turned to see Kyle sticking his face out into the hallway, looking displeased. Kenny could guess why: it was a humid day in June and Kyle’s hair looked awful, his obvious attempts to tame it with products only adding to the mess.
"What are you two doing?" Kyle asked. "Get in here." He spoke as if they were errant members of his bridal party, though from what Kenny understood, there would be no bridal party, just two grooms exchanging vows.
Kyle’s room was essentially unchanged, which surprised Kenny, who hadn’t been in it since he was twenty or so. He would have taken Sheila for the type to change the room into an office or generic guest room as soon as Kyle was settled in his first apartment, but except for Kyle’s old posters and a fresh coat of paint, it was just as Kenny remembered it: the twin bed under the window, the desk and old Mac computer near the door, grayish carpet and navy blue curtains with red trim. Kenny remembered those mostly because they’d always made him think of the hat Stan had worn every winter as a kid.
"I don’t know about all this," Kyle said. He walked to the bed and fell to a seat there, tucking his hands under his arm pits. Kenny shared a look with Butters that felt like old times. It was like, what now? and this again, though Kenny didn’t see much of Kyle or Stan anymore, and Butters — well, maybe he did. Kenny didn’t really know what Butters’ deal was at present.
"All of what?" Kenny asked.
"This wedding." Kyle made a face. "It seems so corny. Or so, so — like we’re serving the man, you know? Like it means something to us, personally, to be recognized by the fucking state of Colorado. I don’t care what these yokels think of me. If it were up to me we would have moved away years ago!"
He was working himself into a panic, but fortunately someone had left a mostly untouched bottle of champagne open on Kyle’s desk. Kenny went for it, and grabbed a nearby glass with a translucent lip print which he assumed was Kyle’s. He poured some and brought it to the bed.
"It’ll be nice," Butters said. "And, um, it’s not about the state! It’s about, well. Stan! And you. It’s a celebration of, uh— lasting love! Love in the face of adversity, and so forth."
"I just don’t want to get up in front of everyone and tell them how I feel about him," Kyle said, accepting the champagne. "It’s so incredibly personal, me and him — you guys think you understand the depth of our connection, okay, but you don’t, and talk is cheap. Vows, I mean. That’s — beneath us." He drank.
"Stan wants this, though," Kenny said. Stan had called him just hours after Kyle had accepted his proposal, to tell him the good news. He’d sounded tearful at moments. "He likes this sort of thing."
"What sort of thing?" Kyle made that face again.
"Remember your bar mitzvah?" Butters said, stepping forward to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Kenny. "How you were all grumpy about it and didn’t want to do it because you had a big pimple on the end of your nose?"
"Thank you for reminding me," Kyle said, touching his hair.
"But Stan made you that scrapbook about your friendship as a present, remember?" Kenny said, beginning to see where Butters was going with this. "He was so, like, impressed with the idea of your manhood." Kenny had kissed Butters at Kyle’s bar mitzvah, too, in a very quiet bathroom at the back of the reception hall. Remembering that, he faltered for a moment. "Um, you know. Also, all your guests are already here."
"Ugh, guests," Kyle said. "A few people Stan works with, my parents, Ike — Ike thinks this is hilarious, you know. He got married when he was nineteen."
"That’s not necessarily something to brag about," Kenny said. He’d been married twice, once at twenty-two and again at twenty-six. Both had ended before the two-year mark. The first was a woman, the second was a man. They both accused him of being aloof and suspected him of affairs that he wasn’t actually having.
"Why do I have to complicate everything?" Kyle asked, holding the glass out for more champagne. He always did this: complained about something and then turned his dissatisfaction around on himself. "Why can’t I just enjoy a nice party? Oh, but it feels so — atonal! It’s not me! I don’t do this sort of thing. And it’s so fucking hot." He touched his hair again. "When’s the last time it was this hot in June?"
"Maybe you could move the ceremony inside?" Butters said. Kyle grunted dismissively.
"I wonder if Stan is throwing up," he said.
"I hope not," Kenny said. "Want us to go check on him?"
"I guess so," Kyle said. "But someone should be with me. Shouldn’t they? Is Wendy here? Send her up if she is. We need to have a chat."
"About what?" Kenny asked.
"My hair," Kyle said, miserably, and Kenny smiled, not to mock Kyle’s grief over his frizz but because he was relieved not to hear that Kyle was going to have some grave discussion about Stan with Wendy, who had been Stan’s only other love, early on.
Kenny headed downstairs with Butters, and he stopped Butters on the landing before he could head in the direction of Gerald’s office, where Kyle believed Stan was hiding from the guests. Butters’ look of confusion melted away quickly, and he gave Kenny that same sweet, forgiving smile that had always made his face get hot.
"Hey," Kenny said.
"Hi!" Butters said, and then he looked confused again. "You okay?"
"Marriage makes me a little itchy. You may have heard about my divorces."
"Oh." Butters’ cheeks went pink. Kenny used to love that. He used to be able to whisper the word cock in Butters’ ear and get this exact reaction, plus a hardon. He’d been so — pliable. “Well, yeah, I guess I did hear about that. I’m really sorry about that, Kenny. It’s a sad circumstance.”
"How about you?" Kenny asked. He reached down to took Butters’ left hand, checking for rings. Butters’ blush had intensified when Kenny looked at him again. "Nobody?"
"There’s been – ‘bodies," Butters said, and he frowned. "I mean, folks. People. Just not now, no – I didn’t bring a date."
"Me either," Kenny said, and then he felt badly, because maybe that was innuendo. He started down the stairs, and Butters followed.
Stan was indeed in Gerald’s office, with Wendy, who was holding his hand when Kenny and Butters came through the door. Stan looked handsome in a pressed shirt and tie, nice slacks, his suit jacket slung over his arm. He was more Sharon than Randy, at least in his facial features, not feminine, but he had her kind eyes and open expressions, everything unguarded even when he was in his most cynical moods. Especially then, maybe. He moved away from Wendy and hugged Kenny, then Butters, more awkwardly.
"Are you okay?" Kenny asked, squeezing Stan’s shoulder. He glanced at Wendy.
"I’m fine," Stan said. "I just feel like shit."
"Oh, is that all?"
"Why should you feel that way?" Butters asked, and he seemed sincerely wounded, horrified that someone might feel like shit on their wedding day. Kenny wondered if he’d ever been married, and he thought: probably not.
"He’s feeling guilty that he didn’t host some extravagant wedding that would have cost him a fortune," Wendy said before Stan could answer. "Which is so ridiculous. Kyle would have hated that."
"He likes picking out menus, though," Stan said, sounding almost as if he would cry. "And this is so. This house, I don’t know. It’s not romantic."
"How about your first kiss, though?" Butters said.
"Which I never knew about," Kenny said. He supposed it was only fair; he’d never told Stan or Kyle about any of his firsts with Butters.
"Oh, that." Stan blinked rapidly and fooled with his tie. "Yeah, it was – we tried to justify this, uh, venue with that. Kyle bit me, though."
"When?" Kenny asked, unable to contain a laugh. Stan gave him a hard look.
"When we kissed. Thirty years ago. It’s a long story. Shit, is he okay?"
"He wants Wendy," Butters said. "To fix his hair."
"You’ve got your work cut out for you," Kenny said when Wendy looked exasperated in response.
"I’m a doctor," she said. "Not a hairstylist."
"Just go," Stan said, and he put his hand on her back. "Please? I would go, but he’s being weird and superstitious about not seeing me before the ceremony. And I’ve never been good with his hair."
"He asked for your help with it in the past?" Kenny said, charmed by this.
"Not exactly," Stan said. "But sometimes I shampoo it wrong."
Wendy left, and Kenny hoped Butters would stay. He was glad when Butters did, and not because he didn’t want to be alone with Stan, who had always been more like a brother to him than Kevin ever had. Kyle was something else – a brother-in-law, Kenny supposed.
"Don’t worry about it," Kenny said when he sat beside Stan, who was perched on Gerald’s desk. "You guys are gonna have a great trip, right? You’re leaving tomorrow?"
"Yeah," Stan said, and he winced. "But it’s flooded."
"Germany. Don’t you watch the news?"
"You guys are going to Germany?" Butters said, sitting on the other side of Stan.
"We’re supposed to, and then Italy. But now Germany’s flooded – the part we were supposed to go to, where Kyle’s relatives live. It was going to be this big deal."
"Italy’s better, anyway," Kenny said, though he’d never been to either country. He’d been to Russia, once, with his ex-husband, on a foolhardy trip to visit orphanages in search of a child to adopt. It was more or less the end of that marriage.
"We were going to take the train down through Switzerland," Stan said. "Kyle loves trains."
"I’m sure the trains are still running!" Butters said. "And maybe, ah. The floodwaters will go down. Tomorrow."
"I don’t know why I’m being like this," Stan said, and Kenny thought of Kyle’s similar lamentation. "I mean, we’ve already spent half our lives together. More than half, if you count childhood. Which I do."
"Tell me about that kiss," Kenny said. "When you were fifteen. Unless you’re going to talk about it in your vows?"
"Oh, God, no, it’s not in the vows. Okay, um – it was this night right after sophomore year had started. I’d come over to work on this presentation me and Kyle were doing for history, about the IRA. Things were sort of tense. We walked outside – it was just starting to get cold at night, early October. He was so – he kept chewing his lip, like he used to do, and it was all raw-looking and red, and puffy…" Stan trailed off, and nipped at his own bottom lip a little. "I lunged at him. You remember how I was, I wasn’t good at anything to do with – sex, at first. Until Kyle, I should say. But yeah, he bit me."
"Bit you?" Kenny asked, laughing again. Stan whacked his shoulder.
"He was scared! I was like a wild animal, he said. Suddenly trying to kiss him."
"Oh, Jesus. I bet you were all shaky and stuttering and on the verge of tears."
"Well – yeah, but he didn’t know that. It was dark."
"So then what? He bit you. Did you cry?"
Kenny could see that he was lying. Stan glared at him.
"It wasn’t crying, okay, my eyes watered from the pain. My lip was bleeding! And then Kyle freaked out and apologized and started kissing me all over, and he sucked on my lip – oh, Jesus. I can’t even talk about it without getting, uh. Aroused."
"Ew," Kenny said. "Alright, well. Thanks for telling us."
"That’s so romantic," Butters said breathlessly, his hands clutched under his chin.
Sharon came in soon after that, greeted Kenny and Butters warmly, then politely suggested that they find a seat outside. Kenny took Butters’ arm on the way out of the office, without meaning to, and when Butters smiled at him, he held it.
"Remember our first kiss?" Kenny asked, keeping his voice low. People were squeezing past them through the hallway, getting drink refills and shouting about some crab balls that needed to come out of the oven. Kenny didn’t recognize most of the people who were still bustling around. He thought of Cartman and was sad that he couldn’t be there. He’d died one year too soon to mock Kyle on his wedding day.
"Sure I remember," Butters said, softly. They’d come to the patio door that looked out on the backyard, where maybe forty people were assembled in a variety of lawn chairs, everyone facing Bebe. She was decked out in her judge’s robes – district court in rural Colorado, small potatoes according to Kyle, but still impressive for someone her age.
"I’m sorry if I – maybe you should have bitten me?" Kenny looked at Butters, genuinely fearful about how he would answer. In hindsight, Kenny had often cornered him, had kissed Butters’ hot cheeks so greedily. Butters was looking wide-eyed and innocent even now, staring at him.
"Gosh, Kenny," he said, almost whispering. "I would never bite you."
"Thanks, Butters." He moved his hand to the small of Butters’ back and guided him to a seat that way, toward the back, on the right side; Kenny wasn’t sure if it was Stan’s side or Kyle’s. By then, everything in their lives had mixed inextricably together.
Stan took his place near Bebe, and Kyle walked down the grassy aisle – strewn with some white flower petals – to the tune of some old Vampire Weekend song that Kenny only vaguely remembered from college. Kyle carried no flowers, and therefore seemed not to know what to do with his hands. Twice he pulled at the hem of his jacket, and Kenny could see that Stan wanted to run to him, that he was barely restraining himself from rescuing Kyle from his embarrassment.
The ceremony was nice, maybe; Kenny couldn’t really pay attention. He was thinking about his own history of childhood romance, which he’d written off upon graduation. Butters was practice, sweet and forgiving and warm under his hands, but how ridiculous would it have been to contemplate an actual future with the boy from across the tracks, the good side of town, the house with the alphabetized pantry? They couldn’t have been more different, and anyway, there could only be one Stan and Kyle in South Park. People didn’t meet their soul mate as a pre-schooler in the same town where that precise phenomenon happened to their closest friends. If they’d tried to tell themselves that maybe they had, under the basketball bleachers between Algebra II and Contemporary Lit, after midnight with the window still cracked open a little in the dead of winter, in case a quick escape was needed, or in a reception hall bathroom that smelled like chalky soap – well, that was just a case of emulating one’s heroes, unavoidably pathetic and doomed to disappointment. Kenny looked over at Butters when Kyle kissed Stan. Kyle was murmuring against Stan’s lips as he did, probably making a joke about biting him. Butters noticed Kenny’s gaze and turned, smiling uncertainly.
"Where do you live now?" Kenny asked, not bothering to whisper, because everyone was clapping.
"In Denver," Butters said. He batted his eyelashes – unintentionally, Kenny knew. Butters had always done that when he was nervous, even when he was four years old.
"I’m in Colorado Springs," Kenny said. "Bartending," he added, maybe a little defensively. Dying on occasion and disappearing for a while made it hard to keep a job.
"I know," Butters said.
"I look at your Facebook page sometimes."
"Oh. Yeah, me too. I mean, yours. But it’s been a while. I thought you were still in Honduras."
"Maybe I oughta be," Butters said. He was still clapping, turning to watch Kyle and Stan walk back down the aisle, toward the house. Where would they go? Up to Kyle’s twin bed for victory sex? "I don’t know why I came back, really. I guess we were doing good work there. I started to wonder, I guess."
"I’m sure you were doing good work," Kenny said. He touched Butters’ shoulder, wanted to keep touching him in various places. Though his hair was thinner, receding, it still looked baby soft. "Do you think I’m aloof?" he asked as the guests began to mill around in confusion, Sheila bustling into the house and shouting to someone about appetizers.
"Aloof?" Butters frowned, then Kenny saw recognition rearrange his features. "Oh, um, well. Sometimes it was hard to know what you were thinking."
"When we were kids, you mean?"
"Well, sure. That’s the only time I knew you!"
"What did you, uh. Think I was – thinking?"
Butters shrugged and smiled hard, in a way that seemed to pinch the corners of his eyes uncomfortably. “We were having fun!” he said. “I still remember it – such fun.” His eyes changed. Kenny leaned in, not sure what was happening – Stan must not have known either, thirty years ago, in this yard – and he expected to be bitten.
Butters didn’t bite. He kissed back in careful little pushes: a polite, public kiss. The chastity of it only reminded Kenny more strongly of the way Butters used to fall apart under his mouth, drooling and moaning and surging up against him for more. He felt himself blushing. Butters smiled up at him, eyelashes fluttering.
"I’m glad you came back," Kenny said.
"I hoped you would be," Butters said, his voice a little trembling thing all of a sudden. Kenny kissed him harder, for that, and no one seemed to notice: they were streaming toward the house, following the bellow of Sheila’s promise that hot food was being set out, and Ike would be serving drinks.
Kenny looked up at Kyle’s bedroom window when he headed toward the house, Butters tucked under his arm and laughing absently, like a kid who had a great secret, the same way he had when they were teenagers, when they did have a great secret. There was no one looking down from Kyle’s window, but the blue and red curtains were shifting in an incriminating way. They were long enough to skim the bed, tangled up in whatever was going on, having hung around long enough to know the beginning, rapturous at the sight of the official consummation.
"I might be drunk," Kenny said, though he’d only had one glass of champagne while they waited for the grooms to emerge.
"You can stay with me," Butters said, looking up at him.
Kenny stayed, and dreamed of an elaborate wedding. He chastised himself at dawn, while Butters slept in his arms. Optimism was not a luxury he could afford. But that was his childhood self, and he no longer had holes in his shoes: he’d spent much too long underestimating his potential to have a happy ending. This might be it, after all. He closed his eyes and pressed his face more snugly into Butters’ wispy hair. He knew some things about endings, enough to shy away from beginnings, but he’d done that for fifteen years, and where had it gotten him? No place better than here, which was where he wanted to stay.