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A/N: Hi everyone! I'm hoping this fic doesn't contain too many typos and I hope someone enjoys it. Please drop me a line either way. Obviously this will be eventual Stenny. There might be other couples. I don't even know. Title named after the song by Starset.

August had come quickly to the small yet growing mountain town of South Park. Golden and bright red leaves were starting to cover gutters and sidewalks. It was the first day of school for the students of South Park High School which included the seventh through twelfth grades. It wasn't ideal and a lot of parents disliked their seventh grade girls being around older male teenagers but budget cuts had caused many of the regular middle schools to close down.

The halls were buzzing with activity. New students scrambled around trying to memorize the hallways, younger students nervously glancing around hoping hazing rumors were just that, teachers and other staff members frazzled with the stress of starting a new year and the many deadlines to meet before October. Stan and Kyle were among the students that were less frazzled and used to the usual routine as it was their sophomore year so they had become quite familiar with the school.

"What teacher do you have for homeroom?" Stan asked Kyle as they met each other in the cafeteria, standing in line to get some food for breakfast. The cafeteria had a lot to offer for lunch but breakfast was a different story. Only two places were ever open so the lines were usually long. Stan and Kyle had learned a long time ago to get there early, bring your breakfast, or eat at home.

Both boys had grown and Stan was just slightly taller than his friend by maybe two inches almost reaching six feet. Stan was more muscular as he was on the track team and enjoyed running. His hair was short jet black and always a little messy. Kyle's hair was a red, curly afro that he still tried to hide under a hat. Kyle mostly kept to studies choosing to avoid sports which was no surprise to anyone that knew him. He had played basketball in the seventh and eighth grades, but last year during tryout season he'd caught the flu when he skipped out on the flu clinic to watch a game. His mother had not been happy, she'd forbidden him from trying out sophomore year so he'd thrown himself wholeheartedly into his studies.

Kyle glanced at his paper again as if he still wasn't sure he had read it right. "It says I have... Mr. Garrison..."

"What?" Stan asked, not quite sure he had heard right.

"It says Mr. Garrison. I guess he teaches high school now? He wasn't here last year."

Stan shrugged and shook his head a little, "I guess whatever works. I have some lady, uh, Mrs. Beltshower."

"That's a real name?"

"Yeah, sounds like a porn star name."

Kyle nodded, about to add something else but some activity caught his and Stan's attention before he could. Someone was waving frantically at them from across the cafeteria. "Butters?" Kyle said in surprise. The little blonde had always been excitable in the past, but he was practically bounding through the cafeteria. Butters had grown as well but still didn't quite reach Kyle's height. He still wore the same hairstyle he had in elementary and all his peers assumed that was his mother's doing.

Stan shared a confused look with Kyle. "I hope all that excitement is for you and not me," Stan said. "I don't have that kind of energy."

Before Kyle could retort, Butters rushed up to them, still bouncing on his heels excitedly. "Stan! Kyle! Did you hear?! Did you hear?!"

"No, what?" Stan asked. Neither him nor Kyle were prepared for their friend's answer. Both were stunned silent for several long moments.

"Kenny! It's Kenny, he's back!" Butters exclaimed. "He's back! Can you believe it?! I just heard from Eric. He's here at the school." Both stared wide eyed and open mouthed unable to form a response. None of them had heard or seen Kenny since sixth grade.

It had been nearing the holidays when tragedy had struck South Park, more specifically Kenny's house. Someone had gone through and shot everyone in Kenny's house, no one had ever been arrested and no motive could be determined; nothing had been stolen. It was still an unsolved case and the house sat abandoned now with younger kids believing it to be haunted. The cops were unable to name a person of interest after much investigation.

Kenny had been the sole survivor, no one was sure how he had survived. Some rumors had put him as the person that should be investigated or was investigated depending on who spun the tale. Kenny never returned to school after that.

Stan and Kyle remembered seeing Kenny twice after the murders, the first time Kenny had been unresponsive to anyone or anything and the second time was the same and then he had vanished. Some thought maybe whoever had killed his family had come back for him and others thought that maybe he had just gone and killed himself. Only Eric Cartman seemed to think that he was still around but had been unsuccessful in locating him even after enlisting Butters' help in his quest. It had been frustrating and taken years but apparently they had finally succeeded in their mission. It made sense that Butters would be the one to spread the news.

"What?" Kyle asked through his stupor. His brain wasn't able to process it as good or bad news; it was just that: news- shocking news for sure.

"Kenny!" Butters clapped his hands lightly in excitement, "He's here, I can't wait to see him."

"You haven't seen him yet?" Stan asked, starting to wonder if Cartman was playing some cruel prank on them. Like the others Cartman had grown and was about the same height as Kyle. He had lost his weight and was in good health and even played on the football team. Stan and Kyle were pretty sure he had dreams of being the captain one day and believed it would mean he could rule the school. That guy was incapable of sating his thirst for power.

Butters shook his head, pulling his cell phone surreptitiously out of his pocket; phones could get confiscated if teachers caught them. They weren't in class but some teachers would have little power trips of their own and Butters was still petrified of being grounded even as a high schooler.

"Eric told me over the weekend but wasn't sure if he would be able to get him to school. He texted me just a few minutes ago and I spotted you two fellas and wanted to let you know. I was about to text him to find out where they were..." There had been some commotion escalating not too far from them across the cafeteria near the entrance. The three had ignored it but now it had become impossible to ignore as the noise escalated and Butters' voice was lost in the shouting of a few particular students. Butters turned to see what the other two were staring at beyond him.

"How dare you show your face here?!" A girl screeched loudly. "How dare you?!" She looked ready to attack. She and several of her own friends had formed a ring around none other than Kenny himself.

Stan, Kyle, and Butters recognized him immediately. He was almost reaching six feet himself so he was likely to be eye level with Stan. He was skinnier than ever and still wore a parka, just with the hood hanging down. Greasy blonde hair hid most of his face and he refused to look at anyone, only looking downward at the floor. A few older kids had noticed the commotion and also gathered, joining the younger group that circled him.

"Why are they so pissed at him?" Stan asked in wonderment. He just assumed everyone would be as overjoyed as Butters. Butters looked on in disbelief. The wheels in Kyle's brain shifted and he realized exactly what was happening.

"It's Karen and Kevin's friends. They think he killed them." Even as he spoke the words they sounded weird and almost like a foreign language coming out of his mouth; he had never once given any weight to some of the rumors that had spread around about the murders.

"What?!" Butters yelped.

"But that's ridiculous," Stan protested. Before much else could be spoken one of the girls let out a shrill scream and launched herself at Kenny, knocking him down to the floor A few others closed in and the three could no longer see their long-lost friend in the flurry of activity. Kyle's brain kicked into high gear with horror.

"Holy shit, we gotta help, he's not defending himself." Kyle started moving quickly in that direction when another voice cut through the air.

"What the fuck!? Get off of him you assholes!" None other than Cartman's indignant voice filled the air, alerting the attention of some staff members on duty to the mob that had formed around his friend. "Get the hell away!" Cartman ranted as the angry students began to disburse especially as teachers and other staff members came over demanding to know exactly what had happened.

Kyle made it over to Kenny around the same time as Cartman as Stan and Butters had stared in stupor for a few seconds longer before forcing their feet to work. Cartman looked down at Kenny and shook his head slightly before squatting down in front of his friend. "Hey, Kinny, you know you could do more than just lay down and let people kick you."

"What the hell?!" Kyle demanded, feeling more confused than ever. "Where did they even come from?!" He glanced around wildly trying to spot out the one girl who had initiated the entire thing but she was long gone and the staff seemed more confused than anyone else as most students were unwilling to rat out any of the ones that had been involved. Kyle's brain was on overload so many things were happening at once.

Kenny was still on the floor laying on one side, face facing towards Cartman, but eyes still cast downward. His hair was longer and messily splayed out no longer obscuring his face. Kyle knelt next to Cartman and looked down at his old friend. "Kenny, I didn't think we'd ever see you again," he said feeling pity and dismay and anger.

It was déjà vu all over again as Kenny made no response. It was like Kenny was frozen in time emotionally even though his physical body had grown. At least grown some Kyle thought sadly as he took in just how skinny his friend had become, talk about skin and bones. It was a miracle Kenny had grown at all but he definitely had.

"Oh my god, Kenny!" Butters' voice startled both Cartman and Kyle and they looked up to see Stan and Butters standing on the other side of Kenny both looking nothing but horrified. "Did they kill him?! I didn't even get to say hi!"

Cartman face palmed. "No, Butters, he's not dead, Jesus, don't be so dramatic."

"Good, good!" Butters said. "Kenny, can you get up?"

"Just give him some fucking space you guys, okay?" Cartman bit out. Stan and Kyle exchanged a glance clearly weirded out before each nodding. Kyle slowly stood up but kept his eyes on his fallen friend.

"It's good to see you again, Kenny," Kyle said as warmly as he could manage after everything they had just witnessed. No response from the boy as he had suspected. Kyle looked away trying not to let his disappointment show in case Kenny should glance up at him.

Stan nodded and walked around Kenny to join Kyle and Cartman hoping for some eye contact with the friend who had vanished into a void. "Yeah, dude, glad you're back. You should, uh...eat lunch with us or something," he finished lamely still trying to overcome his shock. He didn't receive the eye contact he was hoping for but kept staring at Kenny as if he would vanish again if he looked away.

A teacher was near them suddenly and broke into the conversation. "The nurse is on her way. You kids need to get to class, the bell rang a few minutes ago."

Butters jumped at her voice and stuttered, "W-w-whaat?! It did?! Oh my god, I don't want detention, I'll get grounded for sure," and he sped off frantically.

Kyle watched Butters take off while Stan kept his eyes on their old friend. His brows drew together at Kenny's reaction to Butters' familiar hysteria. Had Kenny almost... smiled? Cartman did not look amused as he addressed the teacher.

"Can the nurse get here any faster? You have total animals in this school attacking people unprovoked. Don't you know what bullying is? How could none of the teachers see this?" He ranted. The teacher assured Cartman that the nurse was coming as quickly as possible in attempts to assuage his anger.

Kyle was gaping at Cartman's rant. Since when was Cartman so overprotective of anyone? What did he think was? Kenny's parent? Stan looked just as confused and the two both decided to slowly leave, obviously believing Kenny would be okay with Cartman.

As soon as they were out of earshot, Stan bit out. "What the hell was that? Did all of that actually happen or did I just have a really trippy daydream?"

"It really happened," Kyle said affirming reality.

"But that was so horrible," Stan whispered trying not to let his voice waver.

"It was," Kyle agreed, having completely detached himself from the situation, it was too weird and too sad to mull over. Classes had already begun and he was late on the first day of school. At least the first few days everyone overlooked tardiness. He turned to Stan whose eyes still betrayed how shocked he was. "Dude, are you going to be okay? My class is in the other direction." Stan blinked hard a couple times as if just waking up and nodded slowly. His stomach grumbled at him as they had never gotten their breakfast but Stan ignored it.

"Yeah, yeah, class. Got it, see you." He turned and started walking back in the direction they came.

"Stan," Kyle said. Stan turned back around. "You're going the wrong way." He motioned to the stairs they were near. "Your homeroom is downstairs in another hallway. You're heading back to the cafeteria."

"Right. Right. Stairs," Stan said going to the corridor and descending the staircase, fingers tightly gripping the bannister. Kyle shook his head and went to his own class.

Ω

Lunch time came a little too soon for Stan. He opened the locker he shared with Kyle and dumped his books inside. He had sat through three classes, maybe four, he wasn't sure. His mind wasn't really registering anything anyone had said to him since that morning. He knew he had stood up a couple times and stuttered his introduction; the first time in his life he was glad his town was a bit of a sleepy town even with gentrification. Most everyone already knew him, he'd been here since seventh grade and most of his fellow classmates had been in grade school with him.

People were more concerned about him than finding his strange behavior funny. No one laughed at him and he kind of wished they would. Were they all also in shock about Kenny? Shit, was Kenny IN any of his classes? He hadn't noticed but then he wasn't sure if Kenny had even been in a good enough state to go to class. And what the hell was with Eric Cartman fretting over the other boy?

"Stan," a familiar voice greeted from behind. Stan spun around to find a friendly face, a tall, lanky boy in nothing but blue. Like Kyle, he still chose to wear a hat, dark hair peeking out from it.

"Craig, hey," Stan said with a smile. He never thought he would find the presence of his near emotionless friend so comforting. "What's going on?" Things were normal enough with this friend.

"It's crazy in here this year, isn't it?" Craig asked, eyes widening just slightly as he tilted his head a bit. "All this stuff with Kenny. I can't believe it."

And just like that the normalcy evaporated as Stan's face fell back into shock tinged with sadness. This was just like sixth grade all over again.

"Ohmygod! This is just like sixth grade all over again! Ahhh!" A frantic voice shrilled and soon a blonde boy with hair spiked in every direction materialized by Craig. He was shorter by several inches. "This is crazy!"

Stan realized he should be more concerned that Tweek Tweak of all people had basically voiced his exact thoughts. Tweek had simmered down a bit around Craig but he was still a spaz. Craig and Tweek seemed destined to be together. It kind of weirded everyone out a bit if they were all honest. No other couple had lasted this long, not even Stan and Wendy.

Wendy had been the one to break it off two years ago, not in a mean fashion but it was becoming clear that just because you were boyfriend and girlfriend as kids didn't mean you had to be as teens. Stan still found her very attractive for sure. Actually, Stan was beginning to realize he found almost everyone attractive to a degree but it was something he had decided to ignore and not address for the last year or so. He was fairly certain that wasn't entirely normal but at least it was easy enough to hide. Wendy and Kyle had both expressed some concern over his total lack of interest in dating but neither pushed him about it. Wendy still remained a good friend and Stan suspected the two of them might even have had a little crush on each other but Wendy was currently dating Token. And Stan, while not overly jealous, wasn't sure how much he'd like his best friend dating his elementary school girlfriend. Just thinking about it made him feel all weird.

"Yeah, it is crazy," Craig readily agreed with his boyfriend bringing Stan back to reality. "I haven't actually seen Kenny, though, have you?"

"Ah! NO! No, I haven't seen him!" Tweek exclaimed looking around wildly as if Kenny would just appear by them talking about him. "Is he even really here?!"

Stan nodded. "Yeah, I saw him this morning."

"You did?!" Both Craig and Tweek asked in unison.

Stan shifted his weight uncomfortably, you'd think he just said he'd seen an alien or Bigfoot. "Yeah, this morning in the cafeteria. A group of kids started fighting him." More like just beating on him but Stan didn't want to get too detailed.

"That actually happened?" Craig asked, shaking his head a little. "I"d heard that some of Karen's friends were angry but I didn't think they'd actually did anything."

"They did." Three heads turned to see Kyle coming up to them. "Speaking of cafeteria, are you guys ready for food? I know I'm starving."

There was a chorus of yeses and everyone followed Kyle to the cafeteria. He stopped at the entrance and Stan gave him a questioning look. "Why are we stopping here?"

Kyle scanned the cafeteria then looked down the hall. "We're going to wait and see if Kenny comes. We're not letting that happen again. I doubt he would have went home. I heard some people complaining about Cartman threatening to kill people in my last class." As if on cue, Cartman's voice was heard from further down the hall.

"What are you looking at it?!" he barked, glaring murderously at anyone that dared to even glance in his or Kenny's direction. Cartman seemed attached to Kenny like some kind of bizarre bodyguard. Kenny was taller but Cartman was definitely no slouch either. Kenny only looked at the floor never even glancing up at anyone Cartman insulted or threatened. He stopped when he reached Kyle, Stan, Craig, and Tweek. "Hey guys."

"Hey Cartman, hey Kenny," Kyle greeted.

"Hi," Craig greeted in his best monotone though surprise still got through. Even Craig couldn't remain completely detached when staring at what was pretty much a ghost from their past. Kenny still said nothing; he might as well have been a ghost.

"Kenny! I can't believe it! You're alive, this-this-this is crazy! I'm so happy!" Tweek nearly burst with happiness and threw his arms around their old friend. Air left the room as everyone held their breath waiting for the response. Time crawled by even though everything happened pretty quickly. Kenny stiffened at the contact and rigidly returned the hug, still saying nothing. Tweek sensed the contact had bothered Kenny and quickly shot backwards, grabbing Craig's hand for more welcome contact. "So-sorry," he whispered.

Cartman rolled his eyes, "It's fine. Let's get food, you guys, I'm famished." Cartman was still always hungry; some things never changed. Kyle was surprised he wasn't bigger, the dude ate all the time.

The cafeteria in their school was rather wide and had various places a student could go to get food especially during lunch hours. It was set up in the same style as a mall food court but on a smaller scale and with the regular cafeteria tables found in most schools. They all wound up in different places to get food. Stan followed Cartman and Kenny out of some morbid curiosity; not only was it shocking that Kenny was here but Cartman's behavior was getting harder and harder to comprehend. Kyle wound up with Craig, Tweek, and Butters at a place to grab burgers.

Stan was in line with Cartman and Kenny at a pizza place. Things were getting stranger and stranger by the moment. Cartman kept talking to Kenny but the blonde never responded. Yet Cartman kept talking to him and even acting like Kenny was totally talking back.

Stan could only stare and offer nods or "yeah, dude" when Cartman seemed to remember he was there and decided to include him. Stan also found himself extremely self-conscious of just how close he was to Kenny. He knew he shouldn't feel weird about it but he hadn't seen him in four whole years and was now standing super close to him while waiting for some students on lunch duty to cut up pizza slices. Cartman had led the group with Kenny in tow with Stan following which is how he had wound up behind Kenny in the first place. He should have known Cartman would pick a pizza place. Sure he had said, "Kenny wants pizza!" But Stan was beginning to wonder if Kenny even ate at all.

Cartman moved up in line some and Kenny stayed where he was unaware that a gap had formed between him and Cartman. Stan gently touched Kenny's hand. "Kenny?" Kenny stiffened at the contact and Stan jerked his hand away like he had touched fire. So stupid of him, hadn't he just seen what had happened with Tweek? Kenny realized why Stan had touched him and moved to catch up with Cartman. He had finally made it to the order window.

"Hey, I want meat lovers. Kenny, Kenny, what do you want?" There was no response which didn't seem to faze Cartman in the least, "My friend here wants cheese." The student behind the counter glanced between Kenny and Cartman confused. He looked to Stan who shrugged just as confused, maybe even more confused. Did Kenny even talk at all? Was he just totally mute? Or did he just not want to talk? Cartman acted like Kenny would start talking any second. Stan supposed if he had had several students surround him and start kicking him and accusing him of murdering his entire family he might not be in the mood to speak either.

The student behind the counter waved his hand at Stan. "Hey! Hey! Man, I said what do you want?"

Stan looked up at him surprised. Kenny and Cartman were both standing by the cashier holding their trays waiting for Stan to get his food. "Hey, Stan, are you going to order or what? Our pizza is getting cold," Cartman complained.

"Uh, the vegan special please," Stan said. He was sure Cartman rolled his eyes. Stan had become a vegan about two years ago, he believed in being kind to animals. Cartman always ripped on him for it. Kyle understood the sentiment but refused to join him. It was okay, Stan felt good about his choices.

He stole a glance at Kenny and was stunned to see that Kenny had actually glanced up at him, their eyes met for a moment before Kenny broke contact and looked back at the floor. Once Stan had his tray in hand he and Kenny followed Cartman to a table. Kyle, Butters, Tweek, and Craig were already sitting there deep in conversation. When they approached all became quiet, it was obvious that Kenny had likely been the topic of conversation.

Stan didn't say anything as he sat by Kenny, Cartman taking the seat on the other side of Kenny. He watched as Kenny took tiny tiny bites of his pizza. Stan was pretty sure he'd seen Kenny lift the pizza to his mouth three or four times and bite into it but it looked like none of the pizza was even gone. His own pizza was nearly gone and everyone else quite happily devoured their food trying to figure out ways to ease the tension in the air. Lunch had never been so awkward.

Butters had talked some about his classes and how everyone seemed so nice and he was happy with all this teachers, he was going to get all straight As this year so he wouldn't get grounded. Stan had stolen another glance at Kenny when Butters said this and saw the same reaction he had earlier when Butters had freaked out. It wasn't a smile but that look, that look someone gets when they realize some things never change.

"So, Kenny, who is your homeroom teacher? Were you at another school? " Craig asked out of the blue. Craig would be the one to just cross the bridge that everyone else was avoiding. Stan had been sure Kyle would beat him to it but lunch wasn't over yet.

Kenny didn't respond and Cartman answered for him. "Garrison. And, yes, he went to an online school."

"Goddammit, Cartman, let him answer! He can answer the questions himself!" Kyle protested.

"Jesus, Jew, will you tone it down? Maybe he just doesn't want to talk today, okay?!"

"He can tell us that himself! What are you, some kind of psychic?!" Kyle demanded. "Kenny, where the hell have you been?" Kyle asked blatantly, voicing the question everyone else had been too intimidated to ask. Damn, Stan thought Craig had been brave asking about homeroom and another school, Kyle was demanding to know what the hell had happened these last four years.

Cartman rubbed his temples in frustration, "Damn it, Kyle, do you need to always know every single thing?"

Kenny suddenly pushed his plate away from him and stood up. Kyle shook his head. "Where are you going, Kenny? You can't just run away forever."

Cartman moved to get up and follow him but Kenny rested a hand on his shoulder briefly and he understood it meant for him not to follow. Kenny walked off and Cartman angrily shoved some of Kenny's pizza in his mouth. "Kyle, you stupid Jew, you better hope he doesn't just disappear again for another four years." Stan's stomach plummeted, he couldn't eat anymore.

"What?!" Kyle demanded getting more and more agitated. Stan swallowed the last of his pizza and stood up himself.

"He doesn't want to be followed, Stan!" Cartman spit out also getting agitated. Stan was beginning to realize why some people thought Eric and Kyle might make a good couple, talk about a couple of stubborn guys.

"I'm not following him, I'm going to class," Stan said tapping his finger on his watch. "Lunch is almost over anyway."

"What?!" Tweek shrilled. "But I feel like we just started eating."

"I gotta eat faster," Butters cried stuffing more food in his mouth. Kyle and Cartman each watched Stan suspiciously as he dumped his trash and walked in the opposite direction of his class. Of course he was going to follow Kenny! After he was sure Cartman and Kyle couldn't see him anymore he took off running hoping to catch Kenny before he disappeared. Through the throng of students, he glimpsed the orange that told him he was going in the right direction.

As he tailed his friend, he became increasingly aware of the whispers that floated in the hallway. "It's him, the guy that killed his family." "He's Karen's older brother, that bastard killed her." "Hey, it's Kevin's psycho brother, man, can't believe they let him in here. I thought he'd been admitted into a mental institution."

Stan felt his stomach drop further and further. Had Kenny heard all of this as well? Probably so, Stan wasn't even trying to eavesdrop and had heard so much. A lot of people had wondered if Kenny had been in a mental institution but Stan and his friends had never been able to find out; if their parents had known they had kept their mouths shut about it. What if Kenny disappeared again? What if he didn't see him again for another four years?

Stan fought down the panic that was rising, threatening to consume his entire being. He hadn't even really thought about Kenny that much yet after seeing him this morning the thought of not seeing him again for years was too much to bear.

Finally catching up, he reached out and tugged on Kenny's sleeve, hoping to stop him. They were practically the same height. Kenny's whole body went rigid at the touch. Stan was becoming braver by the moment. Either that or crazy. He stood in front of Kenny and grabbed his hand for a second time that day. If possible, Kenny seemed to get more rigid like a statue in a garden. "Kenny, please look at me."

Kenny slowly looked up from the floor, eyes just pools of sadness and weariness. He still said nothing, waiting for Stan to continue. Neither seemed to be conscious of any of the other students around them.

Stan stared at him for a few moments trying to see into his soul. "Please don't leave again. We don't want you to disappear. I don't want to spend four more years wondering what happened to you or if you're okay." Stan squeezed Kenny's hand, afraid to let go. "Please don't leave," he repeated. He was starting to understand Cartman's bizarre actions- was Cartman also scared of Kenny vanishing back into the mysterious pit of the unknown? Time paused for Stan as he waited for a response from Kenny. He wasn't expecting anything but he also couldn't move or let go of his hand until he got a response.

Finally, Kenny squeezed his hand back, trying to be reassuring. A very hoarse, "I won't" was heard and Stan thought he might keel over from joy. His friend could still talk! Maybe Cartman had been right. Cartman had actually been right in a fight with Kyle?!

Stan squeezed the hand back even harder, "Good, good," he said letting his whole body relax, he hadn't realized how tense he had been. Kenny was looking at the floor again and not responding to Stan's hand any longer. Stan let go and smiled. He was so relieved.

Cartman's voice cut through the air again. "Kenny! We have to go to class!" Stan watched as Kenny glanced up at him one more time before turning around and going back in the direction of Cartman's voice. It took Stan a minute but he began to realize just how close to one of the exits of the school they had been. If Kenny had left would he have ever come back? What about the end of the day? Would Kenny be back tomorrow. Stan was becoming more and more unsettled.

"Dude, Stan, are you okay?" Kyle's voice brought Stan out of his reverie. Butters was also peering up at him.

"Yeah, Stan, you look pretty shaken, are you okay?" Butters looked at the exit. "Are you planning to skip out early?"

Stan found his voice again and shook his head. "No, I'm not but Kenny was. He stayed though. He went off with Cartman." Stan debated a moment whether he should say what he said next but forged forward with it, "He said he wouldn't disappear again."

"Wait, what? Cartman was right? He just doesn't want to talk?" Kyle asked doubtfully. The concept of Eric Cartman being right about anything was completely foreign to Kyle.

Stan nodded his head. "I definitely heard him speak."

"That's great news, Stan!" Butters exclaimed cheerfully. He clapped his hands, excited. "Wow, this is turning out to be such a great day, Kenny's back and can talk and I didn't get a detention. It's going to be a great year!"