Work Header

A Princess' Favor

Chapter Text

The cars were on the thirtieth lap when the knock hit the door, rattling the frame around it. Kenny glanced at his brother, whose gaze was glued to the screen on their tiny television as the racers made their laps. Kevin definitely wasn’t going to get up to answer the door. Kenny groaned into his hood and leaned forward on the second knock. He was saved trouble of standing when his mom beat him to the door.

“Oh, hello Stanley. Here to see Kenny?” His mom said, voice lightening into a happy note he hadn’t heard in a while. He looked past the fur of his hood to see Stan holding a few large plastic containers that were the likely cause. His mom put her hands on her hips and asked, “What do you have there?”

“Extras,” Stan said and Kenny rolled his eyes into the back of his hood and turned his eyes back to the race. He could smell something warm and amazing from here and bit his lip. Of course Stan did that. Of course he brought food over. He could hear the oh so familiar “Yes, Ma’am” tone as he said, “Mom went a little crazy in the kitchen and asked if I could bring over some when she heard I was dropping by.”

“Oh, how thoughtful,” Mom said. He heard a shuffle and the squeak of plastic shifting against each other. “This is a lot. What’s in here?”

“Not sure, but I think the bottom one is a pot roast, and if it’s not that, it’s some sort of pork thing. I’m not sure which one I grabbed, but I know there’s carrot cake in the top one,” Stan said.

“That sounds wonderful,” his mom said. “You thank her for me, okay?”

“I will, Mrs. McCormick,” Stan said. Kenny heard the shuffle of his sneakers on the cracked concrete outside. “May I come in?”

“Of course, Stanley. But I warn you, the race is on so I don’t think Kenny’s going to be leaving that couch any time soon,” his mom said.

“I just wanted to talk to him a bit. I don’t mind waiting for commercials,” Stan said, and he didn’t have to look to know Stan had just shot his mom one of his handsome, quarterback smiles by the way she laughed.

His floors creaked as Stan walked across the living room with an easy “Hey, dude.” He helped himself to a seat on the floor next to Kenny’s legs since Kevin had taken up the other half of their dingy couch.

Every once in a while Kenny considered how absolutely surreal it was that he—the poorest kid in town—was still friends with the school’s quarterback, and that said most-popular-student-in-school didn’t think twice about letting his brand new blue jeans be stained with whatever happened to be growing on the McCormick carpet at the time. But there he sat: Stan Marsh, one of Kenny’s best friends, taking a can of cheep beer from Kevin like he belonged there in this run down shack of a house his father had built as a play clubhouse when he was a kid.

Kenny knocked his knee into Stan’s back at the same moment he popped open the beer, causing it to spill down his chin and over the front of his jacket. “You know I hate that charity shit.”

“Dude, it’s not charity if we legit had a ton of extra food.” Stan wiped his mouth on his sleeve and shook off his letterman jacket. He sipped from the can with a pout. “Dad got mom to watch the food channels with him and they spent all night trying to out cook each other. Text Kyle if you want proof. My mom took over half our kitchen to his house this morning to get it out of ours. If I’d been going to Cartman’s today, he’d be the one with carrot cake and pot roast.”

Kenny pulled out his phone and did just that—just because he loved his friends didn’t mean he trusted them. He got a text three seconds later from Kyle stating “I’m drowning in non-kosher honey ham and cupcakes made by Randy Marsh” followed by a second “Help me” immediately afterwards.

“Saved by the Super Best Friend, once again,” Kenny said, clicking his phone screen off. He shoved it back in his parka's pocket and nudged Stan’s back with his knee again. “Though I should make him text me photo evidence since he’d totally lie to save your ass.”

“He would,” Stan said, grinning over his shoulder. “But either way, you got a carrot cake out of the deal so I don’t know why you’re whining.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Kenny said, turning his attention back to the race as the commercials ended.

He kept his knee pressed into Stan’s side, enjoying the solidity and warmth of it. However nice this human contact was, Stan didn’t usually come over uninvited to watch television without other motives. Which meant he must want something: “So what brings you over this fine afternoon?”

“Are you still technically a princess?” Stan asked.

“What?” Kenny tugged his hood down so he knew Stan could see his unamused expression. Kevin kept his focus on the television, though Kenny knew he was listening by the raising of his eyebrows. Kenny knocked his knee into Stan’s back again, shoving him forward. “Why are you bringing that up now?”

“I was curious,” Stan said, turning his eyes to the side, avoiding the question. He nursed his beer for a minute before caving to Kenny’s glare. “Because like, I know we lost the whole console war thing when we were kids, but that didn’t void your princess status or anything, did it?”

“No,” Kenny said, still not sure what Stan was trying to accomplish by bringing up “Princess Kenny” now after that whole Stick of Truth thing. One little mass betrayal and no one lets you live it down. “Again: Why?”

“Do you want the long version or the short version?” Stan asked, wincing into his next sip.

“The one where you get to the point,” Kenny huffed, putting his hood back up and tugging the strings. “That was a long time ago, man.”

“Okay, so Shelly’s college roomie came to stay with us over the weekend, right?” Stan starts and Kenny nodded. The new girl’s knockers were legendary and Kenny was still (fake) angry Stan wouldn’t sneak him photos of her changing. Stan turned and set the empty beer can on their cardboard coffee table and started talking with his hands. “Well, I was in the kitchen minding my own business when she starts whining to Shelly that her baby sister is in the middle of her princess phase and wants one to be at her next birthday party.

“But she wants a real life, genuine princess and not someone in a costume pretending to be one. And Shelly’s friend was like ‘Where am I ever going to find a real princess? Who knows any real princesses around South Park?’ over and over,” Stan said. He coughed into his hand and rubbed the back of his hair under his hat. “So I accidentally blurted out ‘I know one,’ because it hit me that I did and well, Shelly threatened that if I didn’t get this princess to show up at the kid sister’s birthday party, she’d kill me.

“So this is me, Stan Marsh, asking you, Princess Kenny, if you would please appear with your authentic, magic princess pendant at a thirteen year old girl’s birthday party next Saturday.” Stan clapped his hands together. “You don’t need to dress up because I don’t think she’ll care as long as you have your proof of princess thing and it’d really help me out.”

If there was anything Kenny was horrible at, it was telling Stan and Kyle “No” when they asked him to do things—no mater how stupid or life threatening—and it’d only gotten worse since he’d entered High School and Stan had mastered the popular boy puppy dog eyes.

They had Kenny whipped.

A truth he had long accepted, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t going to get something out of it. Kenny mumbled though his coat, now well aware Kevin was staring at him with an amused grin. “Three conditions.”

“Name them,” Stan said.

“One,” Kenny said, holding up a finger. “You secure Karen an invite to the party and you’re springing for a cute new dress and a shower at your house so no one makes fun of her.”

“Done and I’ll even throw in a present she can pick out to give to the birthday girl,” Stan said, one step ahead of Kenny with a knowing smile.

“Second,” Kenny said, holding up the next finger, “You’re helping me with my dress, because if I’m going to show up as Princess Kenny, I’m going to do it right. No little girl should see her first real princess in a stained orange parka.”

“You do you, man,” Stan said, shrugging lightly. “Not sure how I can help with that, but okay.”

“Third,” Kenny said, grinning wide (shame Stan couldn’t see it, but it was the thought that counts), “You have to dress up, too. I think a lady in waiting would be perfect to accompany a princess.”

“I can’t be a warrior like when we dressed up as kids?” Stan asked, biting the side of his lip.

“Nah, what do I need a bodyguard at a kid’s party for?” Kenny asked, sure he’d finally gotten one over on his jock buddy. Seeing Stan in a dress would be a riot and Kyle would thank Kenny for a year. “A personal assistant is much more useful.”

“I don’t know, man, I’d hate to show up the princess by looking better than she did in a dress,” Stan said, rubbing his chin. “My old man is Lorde, you know.”

Kevin snorted into his beer and Kenny elbowed him hard in the side. “Stay out of our conversation, Kevin.”

“No, no,” Kevin said, snickering. He popped open another can and sipped, eyes back on the TV as the cars continued to race. “He’s got a point. Stan’s prettier than you.”

“He is not,” Kenny said, huffing. Stan continued smiling at him, showing off those sparkling whit teeth and clearly amused—more than ready to put on a dress if he had to (Shelly was that scary). That took half the fun out of it and Kenny slumped in his seat and shrugged. “But if you want to be a manly warrior instead, who am I to stop you?”

“Thanks, man,” Stan said, shaking Kenny’s knee with his hand and obviously satisfied he’d gotten his own way in the end. “I mean it, dude. You’re saving my ass from Shelly, so I’m going to owe you one.”

Stan owed Kenny way more than one over the years, but he could live with just the offer. Kenny leaned back in the couch and lifted his legs up to use Stan’s shoulders as a foot rest, gaining a laugh from the other boy.

The things he did for his friends.

(He always was a sucker for a pretty face.)

“Any dress I want?” Karen asked, holding Kenny’s hand tighter as they stood in the department store.

Kenny squeezed her hand back, glad Stan had his attention on his phone as he texted Kyle about his plans for the day. Kenny wanted to tease Stan about the short leash Kyle had him on, but it worked in his favor just this once since it made sure Stan’s attention was elsewhere as he tried to explain this situation to his sister without admitting weakness.

Kenny squatted next to Karen and put his hands on her shoulders. “Yup! Any dress you want, or if you want pants, that’s cool, too. Pick out any party outfit you like, okay?”

“Why’s Stanley buying me clothes?” Karen asked, using Stan’s full name the same way his mom did whenever she talked about him.

Kenny bit his lower lip under his hood and squeezed her shoulder. “Because he owes me a favor.”

He figured that sounded better than admitting Stan would probably have done it anyway if Kenny had straight up asked.

“Then why aren’t you using it?” Karen asked, narrowing her eyes together. She got that look straight from their mom and Kenny had to remind himself she was thirteen. Karen pulled out the big guns and crossed her arms. “You always spend your money on me.”

“Don’t listen to him. Kenny’s got issues with accepting gifts so he’s trying to work around admitting it by passing it off as a favor,” Stan said, interrupting the conversation and leaning his elbow on Kenny’s head. His eyes never left his phone while he continued texting. “I’m buying you a dress because Kenny’s one of my best friends and making you happy, makes him happy.”

Karen giggled, the traitor.

“And if that’s not good enough, you can just call it an early thanks for helping us pick out Kenny’s dress next,” Stan said, giving Karen a thumb’s up and shoving the phone in his pocket.

“Okay,” Karen said, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear and putting her arms behind her back. “I can accept that.”

“Awesome,” Stan said. He waved his fingers in a nudging motion, ushering Karen toward the clothing aisles. “Then off with you! Assemble a party outfit!”

Karen laughed, covering her mouth before entering the land of teen clothing.

Kenny stood, shifting Stan’s arm from his head to around his shoulder. They stood side by side, watching Karen flip through the clothing racks, careful not to touch the clothes themselves as she moved the hangers. Kenny crossed his arms, glaring at Stan through the side of his parka. “I do not have a problem accepting gifts.”

“You really do, but that’s okay,” Stan said. He slipped away, patting Kenny hard on the back. “That just makes you, you.”

Kenny shook his head and followed Stan to the chairs near the dressing room and joined him as they watched Karen shop. If Kenny slid close enough that their shoulders were touching to get the contact back, well that was his problem.

(Nothing better than a good heart behind a pretty face.)

Karen giggled as she kicked her legs back and forth with her shopping bag settled next to the chair containing: One pink dress that came just above her knees (Stan and Karen both reminded Kenny she was thirteen when he complained about the length and wanting her to get something longer), one set of comfortable dress shoes in a sensible black, two pairs of tights in case one ripped, and one bonus hair band with a unicorn clip that Kenny paid for. Despite saying that she would help them pick out an outfit, Karen played a game on Kenny’s phone instead and he hoped that was all she was doing.

Either way, with the baby sister taken care of, it was time for part two of this fiasco: Kenny’s Princess Dress.

For once, Stan agreed that there was no way in hell he was spending over three hundred dollars on a dress for a party, Shelly threats or not, so they’d found themselves in a thrift store sorting through old dresses to see what they could salvage later with Kenny’s mediocre Home Economics skills.

“What about this one?” Stan asked, holding up what looked to be an old prom dress.

It was lavender with white sleeves, so the color wasn’t bad, but the skirt was well above the knees and Kenny still liked the full length gowns, no matter what Stan and Karen seemed to think about modern women.

They felt more regal.

He said as much and Stan scrunched his nose. “Dude, I don’t think anyone in South Park has worn a full length prom dress to a school dance for at least two decades. You might have to settle.”

“Princesses don’t settle,” Kenny said.

“What if you got a roll of fabric from the craft store and just made an under skirt? That’s not too hard, right?” Karen asked, not even bothering to look up from the phone. “That’s how you’re adding all your accents anyway, right? You just need a base dress since the bodice is the hard part.”

“You should listen to your sister,” Stan said, waving the dress back and forth.

“You just want to stop shopping,” Kenny said, flicking through a few more dresses. The dress Stan picked out was probably the best he was going to get if he wanted to keep the purple color of his last ensemble. Apparently the past two years of fashion were teal, teal, and teal, but there was no need to let the guy know he hit gold after looking on one rack of clothes. Kenny pushed two dresses aside and found a shawl stuck in the back. He yanked it out, holding up the grandma style lace. “Nice.”

“What are you going to do with that?” Stan asked, still holding the purple dress.

Kenny threw it at him and Stan caught it. He put it over his arm with the dress and stood back from the clothes like a waiting boyfriend. Kenny snorted at the thought and flipped through a few more looking for hidden treasures. “I can cut it up to make accents for the skirt it looks like I’m going to have to make.”


With that, Kenny continued pretending to look through old clothes, happy that his stalling worked in his favor when he found a shirt that would look nice on his mom. He threw it at the stack in Stan’s arms and continued shifting through clothing. He didn’t have much luck for his costume, but apparently someone his mom’s size had dropped off a ton of clothes. He’d picked out three more shirts and two skirts and hung them over Stan’s arm while the jock looked at his phone.

They continued that way with Stan waiting patiently next to Kenny as he shopped like he’d done this a million times before. But then again, Stan was the only one in their group of friends who tended to have a steady girlfriend at any given moment, so he probably had played this role more times than he could count. The faithful companion who holds the bags while the girlfriend shopped: Stan Marsh.

Kenny kinda loved the domesticity of it all; it was nice.

“Hey, Karen. Hold your bag up and say ‘cheese’,” Stan said, holding up his phone. She held it up as commanded and stuck her tongue out as Stan clicked a pic. “Thanks.”

“Why are you taking pictures of my sister?” Kenny asked, trying to control the urge to grab the phone. “Isn’t she young for you?”

“Only for five more years,” Stan said, snickering. Karen laughed herself, the only thing saving Stan from Kenny decking him for a not-cool joke. Stan shook his head and held his phone up. “Kyle wants proof we’re doing something with Karen because if it’s just you and me hanging out, he’s going to kick my ass.”

Kenny snorted. “I thought you said he was cool with changing your Saturday plans to hang out with me instead?”

“That was before Cartman came over to spend the day,” Stan said. He laughed and continued texting with one hand. “Kyle’s about to rip out his own hair or strangle Cartman.”

“I can believe that,” Kenny said.

A second later Stan’s phone rang and Kenny had to smother the laugh as Kyle’s angry “It’s not funny, Stan! This fatass—” came yelling out the other side, followed by more venting.

“I’ll just go calm him down,” Stan said, holding the phone toward his chest. He wandered to a corner in the store near the window and leaned on the glass as he chatted.

Kenny jerked when Karen poked him in the side, having snuck away from her chair in the corner. She had a smile on her face and whispered, “Is Stan your new sugar daddy? Is that why you’re so cagey about admitting why he’s spending so much money on you?”

“What?” Kenny choked, smacking into the nearest display table. “Why would you say that?”

“Jenny and Marcy were saying that when you’re poor but pretty you can get a sugar daddy to buy you things like clothes and jewelry and food,” Karen said. She tapped her cheek with her index finger and looked at Stan. “You’re pretty and now Stan is buying you lots of pretty dresses so it’s easy to put two and two together.”

“Karen, I know I tend to forget, but you’re old enough to know full well what a sugar daddy is and that Stan is not one,” Kenny said, collecting himself. She’d pulled the cute and innocent act and it had caught him off guard, but he had this under control. Kenny was still the big brother here. “Besides, I think you’d have to go to Denver to find someone that rich, ‘cause Token isn’t the type.”

“You’re no fun to tease anymore,” Karen said. She tapped her toe on the ground and watched Stan from the side. She rubbed her cheek, frowning at the stain of dirt. “Besides, Kevin already told me why you’re digging out the princess gear again and why Stan’s buying me a party dress. I was just wondering when you were going to come clean and tell me yourself instead of acting like I’m still six.”

“I’m going to kick Kevin’s ass,” Kenny said, putting the sweater back on the shelf. He put his hand on Karen’s head and ruffled her hair hard enough to tug it out of it’s pigtails. “And when did you stop being my adorable, innocent little sister?”

“When I entered the sixth grade,” Karen said.

“I miss when you were five,” Kenny said.

“I know you do,” she replied patting his side.

“Okay, I hate to cut this trip short but if I don’t save Kyle from Cartman within the next hour, he’s going to bring Cartman to us,” Stan said, walking back to the group. He shoved his phone in his pocket and smiled, none the wiser he’d just interrupted a conversation. “We’ve still got a week to get this all together before the party, so why don’t we hit the wig store next door and then grab some lunch on the way back.”

“I’ve already got the wig,” Kenny said, “so we’re good to go here. We can hit the craft store for fabric tomorrow.”

“You’ve already got a wig? It’s not the same one you used when we were kids is it?” Stan asked. He shifted his arm full of clothes to the other arm, the purple fabric scrunching. “Would that even still fit?”

“It was a full sized wig, dude, I was just wearing it over my hood to keep it on.” Kenny tugged on his fur liner. “It’ll fit way better now than when we were kids.”

“Oh, I want to style it!” Karen said, grabbing the edge of his parka. She shook it hard and grinned. “Can I?”

“Sure,” Kenny said. “Just don’t go too crazy. I want to look classy.”

With that settled, the group headed to the register and Stan paid for their things. As they left the store, Kenny shoved a few dollars in Stan’s pockets when Karen skipped ahead toward the Marsh’s borrowed car.

“What’s that for?” Stan asked, voice quiet as he tugged his hand out enough to see how much Kenny had shoved at him without fully taking it out of his pocket. “I told you I had enough for this.”

“I forgot to take out the things I got for my mom,” Kenny said, huffing. He’d been so distracted by Karen’s question, he’d forgotten to get them away from Stan before he reached the register. “You’re only paying for the princess stuff.”

“Oh,” Stan said. He shoved the money back in his pocket and shrugged. “Fair enough.”

Kenny breathed easier. That was how this worked. He paid for his own things with his own money he’d earned working at City Wok and his friends respected that.

“Does that mean lunch is on you, too?” Stan asked, winking.

“Damn right it is,” Kenny said, opening the door to Stan’s car. He helped himself to the back seat (Karen have already taken shotgun). “Let’s get some freaking chicken and rub it in Cartman’s face later.”

“You got it,” Stan said.

As Stan and Karen poked at each other in the front seats and the shopping bags in the back of Stan’s car beating against each other with each bump in the road, Kenny found himself sort of hating for the first time that Kyle still held the priority friend slot in Stan’s life and that he had the power to cut their day short.

(Kenny had always been a little jealous, but this might be a new kind.)

Chapter Text

Kenny flipped through bolts of fabric, searching for the last bit of material needed for his costume. Behind him, Stan whined about Cartman instead of holding a real conversation with his dear friend while they were together for the day.

He hated Cartman so much.

Even when the fatass wasn’t there he found a way to ruin Kenny’s life.

“I’m still amazed I’m not helping Kyle hide a body in his backyard after yesterday,” Stan said, looking through a stack of green fabrics to use for his cape. Unimpressed by anything he found, Stan shoved the bolt of fabric aside and tugged out the next one. “Cartman pushed that many buttons trying to talk Kyle into yet another business scheme. The rage was so real, dude.”

Kenny grunted and kept searching through his own stack of white fabrics. He might have to pick out an expensive one if just to find some petty way to pay Stan back for talking about Cartman for the past hour instead of normal friend things.

He’d been looking forward to the two of them hanging out, dammit!

“Or I could get my mom to do it,” Stan said, still talking about disposing of dead bodies. He traded the bolt in his hand for a second bolt of forest green fabric and tucked it under his arm. “You know she still thinks I murdered all those people when I was eight? She tells me she’s thankful I got it out of my system while I was young every time she accidentally digs up a bone or some shit when she’s out gardening.”

The fish death.

Kenny remembered that one and shivered instinctively. He wasn’t quite sure how the fish had managed to kill him that fast, but he remembered it hurt. Most of his deaths hurt, but that one had been weird on top of it all and Kenny had no desire to repeat it.

It was yet another thing best left forgotten.

But at least Stan finally gave him an opening to enter the conversation.

“On the bright side, you know she’s got your back if you ever decide to be a serial killer,” Kenny said, tugging out a bolt of pearl fabric with raised swirl patterns. “That has to come in handy sooner or later.”

“I’m not sure if that’s a good thing,” Stan said. He leaned on the fabric cutting table and crossed his arms. He rolled his head to the side, knocking his dark hair in his face. Kenny wanted to push it back into place, but clutched to the fabric roll instead. “I don’t think I could take her repeating ‘My good boy, my handsome boy’ under her breath over and over again. It was creepy enough when I was a kid.”

“But you are a handsome boy,” Kenny said, reaching over and pinching Stan’s cheek. The strands of dark hair were too close to his fingers. Kenny gave into temptation and slid the hair back while he was there, disguising it with a forehead flick. “She’s only speaking the truth.”

“Yeah, well let’s concentrate on making you the pretty one,” Stan said. He nodded toward Kenny’s bolt and asked, “You get the fabric you wanted?”

“Yup,” Kenny said, smacking his lip on the last syllable in a pop. “Had to find something that contrasted enough so it doesn’t clash with the fabric already there.”

“I’m glad you know what you’re doing,” Stan said. He held his hand out to take the fabric. “How much do you need? I’ll go ask the lady to cut it.”

“Get six yards,” Kenny said. He followed Stan to the counter and yawned behind his parka. “That way I have extra in case I mess up, and if I don’t, I might be able to double it up for more volume.”

“Do we need anything else?” Stan asked. “Like thread and needles or whatever you’d use?”

“Nope, I’ve got a sewing kit at home that’s fully stocked. We are good,” Kenny said. Since his family had discovered his mediocre sewing talents when he was a kid, Kenny had been saddled with patching up and fixing everyone’s clothes when they tore or ripped at the seams. With years of experience under his belt, he could confidently call himself a slightly above-average, hand-sewing master who learned to keep plenty of thread and extra fabric scraps around. “Though I’m a little curious about your costume. You’re not just going to wear blue jeans and a cape, are you? Because it worked for Toolshed, but you need to put a little more effort into it if you’re escorting this princess around.”

“Don’t worry, Your Highness. I won’t shame you with a lame costume.” Stan laughed, adding a snort on the end. His face turned proud with a tiny smile. “I told my mom what was up and she said she’d help me. She was super happy I asked for help, too. It’s almost kinda funny how excited she is.”

“She made your Captain America costume, didn’t she?” Kenny asked. “Back when your dad had the rental store?”

“Yeah, along with all my other halloween costumes,” Stan said. He stopped the conversation momentarily to tell the store clerk how much from each bolt before turning back to Kenny while they cut the fabric. “She said all she needed was fabric for the cape and that she had enough of everything else in her craft supplies.”

“Nice,” Kenny said. He patted Stan on the shoulder and squeezed it. “I guess I really don’t have to worry if Mrs. Marsh is on the job.”

“Which means we can concentrate on your dress,” Stan said. He crossed his arms and looked over the fabric. “Though I’m not sure what you’d need my help with.”

“Company, my man,” Kenny said. He threw an arm around Stan’s shoulder and tucked his ever-so-shorter friend into his side. Kenny could feel the other boy’s muscle through his letterman jacket and couldn’t help but draw his hand down Stan’s arm to feel a bicep. “You’re not going to make me sew for hours all alone, are you?”

“And you guys think I’m the needy one,” Stan said, taking the cut and folded squares of fabric from the clerk. He held them against his chest and knocked his elbow into Kenny’s chest to dislodge him. Stan exaggerated an eye roll and sauntered to the front of the store to pay. “But I see how it really is.”

Kenny let that statement go without comment. He found himself in too good of a mood since Stan had stopped talking about Kyle and Cartman to give Kenny his full attention.

(Stan was in truth the neediest member of their little group of friends, but Kenny was feeling like he had moved up a space or two the past two days.)

Kenny collapsed on his bed and covered his face with his arms. His breaths came heavy and too fast as the afternoon caught up with him and steamy thoughts raced through his mind. Kenny rolled onto his side, tugging the strings of his hood to close it and block out the light that snuck in through the window.

He had a problem.

A Stan Marsh problem.

Kenny peered through the furry liner and stared through the strands at the fashion dummy he’d salvaged from the dump. It wore a finished dress, beautiful in purple with a thick, white skirt and lace accents. His costume was complete and it looked amazing on him.

Fantastic even—the bodice flattered his small chest, the puffed skirt flowed when he spun, and his accessories brought the look together and made him look like the princess that he was.

Kenny had never been angry that he looked amazing in a dress before.

Because if the dress had made him look awful and awkward, maybe Stan wouldn’t have stared at Kenny the way he had.

Stan wouldn’t have bit his lip with a hitched breath when he walked into the room and saw Kenny halfway into the costume.

And Kenny wouldn’t have gotten the thought in his head that he had a chance—or admitted to himself that he wanted one.

“Wow,” Stan had said, stepping back after he’d fastened the latch at the top of the dress’ zipper. He whistled and Kenny saw his eyes widen further in the mirror as he looked Kenny over from head to toe. “You look awesome.”

Stan paused, licking his lip and biting the edge. He cleared his throat and waved a hand toward Kenny’s wig and dropped his fingers lower until they framed Kenny’s face. “I keep forgetting how much stuff like this suits you.”

Kenny had felt his heartbeat against his ribs.

“I can’t blame you,” Kenny had said, putting his hand over his chest. He cleared his throat twice and lifted his voice higher to match the pretty face staring him back in the mirror. “I don’t have many occasions to dress up.”

Or the money to afford it.

“I guess not,” Stan said. His eyes lingered around Kenny’s waist where the bodice hugged him, before they jerked back up to focus on his face. He looked away with a cough, but Kenny once again caught his expression in the mirror: desire. “Thanks for dressing up, dude. The kids are going to love it.”

“Like you do?” Kenny wanted to say, but he held his tongue.

“I’m glad to help,” is what made it past his lips. He lifted the long hair from his wig and turned his back toward Stan, watching the man’s face in the mirror. Kenny steadied his nerves and tested the water. He kept his voice high and fluttered his lashes. “But now that we know it fits, I can change. Come on, help me out of this thing.”

“Sure.” Stan stumbled over the word and pink dusted his cheeks as he reached for the clasp once again. Stan’s heated fingers graced the back of Kenny’s neck and he sucked in a breath. Stan was turned on. Kenny had turned Stan on. The other boy fiddled with the snap. “Just let me—”

Stan’s phone rang, cutting through the tension.

“Hey, Kyle,” Stan said, answering it so fast he sounded out of breath. He paused as Kyle vented on the other end and he winced. Stan shot Kenny a look before he returned to his phone and said, “Slow down. What did Cartman do this time?”

Kenny dropped the hair of his wig.

Freaking. Kyle.

Stan shrugged at Kenny and mouthed “I’ll take this outside” before escaping from Kenny’s bedroom and dashing into the hallway.

The back of his dress hung open from where Stan had snapped the clip. He held it up as the top fell and crumpled around his shoulders. Kenny pushes a loose strand of blond hair back under his wig.

A minute later, a knock sounded on his window. Kenny grabbed the skirt of his dress and wandered over to open it.

“Sorry, dude,” Stan had said, eyes locked on Kenny’s collar bone. “I need to head out and make sure Kyle is okay. I’ll see you later, okay?”

“Sure,” Kenny said.

Stan left as fast as he’d answered his phone.

Kenny let his dress drop and stepped out of it. He hung it onto the dressing dummy and pulled his parka back on over his naked chest.

He threw himself on the bed and closed his hood around his eyes. Should Kenny be grateful or furious that Kyle had interrupted the moment? Did he want to know where it was going?

Did he want Stan to take his dress off and keep looking at him like Kenny was the most amazing person he’d ever seen?

Would…would Stan keep looking at him that way if the dress was taken away?

He didn’t know.

(Kenny wanted to, though.)

Two days later, Kenny’s Stan problem got worse.

He hadn’t thought that possible, but South Park was a small mountain town that loved to prove everyone wrong.

“Did my mom do great, or did she do great?” Stan asked, spinning once in his shining knight costume. It was nothing like the warrior outfit he’d had as a child. Stan wore a full body suit of glimmering, silver polished armor with a dark green, half cape that hung off his shoulder. The shapely outfit made the jock look broader and more built than his football uniform. Stan tapped the sword at his side and dipped his head in a half-bow. “Mom went all out.”

Mrs. Marsh had outdone herself.

Screw Stan slipping Kenny out of his dress—Kenny wanted to rip the armor off Stan and ride him. But if he kept staring, Stan would notice the attraction in Kenny’s wide eyes.

Kenny grabbed the sleeve of his grubby parka and looked away, averting his eyes down to see the hole in his shoe.

“It’s not too shabby,” Kenny forced out. He shoved his hands into his pockets. “It looks good.”

“It seems excessive for a kid’s party,” Kyle said, looking up from his phone. He turned on his side, lounging on Kenny’s bed. Kyle pushed his hat up to get a better look at Stan. “You’re only going to wear that what, once?”

Kenny had forgotten Kyle came with Stan to show off his finished costume.

“I might pull it out again for Halloween,” Stan said. He turned to the mirror and straightened the cape properly over his shoulder. “Mom spent so much time on it, it’d be a shame not to wear it again.”

“I agree,” Kenny said. He nodded and tugged on his hood strings, pulling it closed. Kenny blocked Stan from view and reminded himself of the third wheel in the room watching them both. “Maybe I’ll pull out the princess costume, too, and we can get Kyle to be our lady-in-waiting.”

“Yeah, Kyle,” Stan said. He walked over to Kyle and took his hand, lifting it like a gentleman would hold a lady’s. “Don’t you want to join us?”

“No.” Kyle took his hand back and shoved Stan away with a laugh. He shot Kenny a look before standing from the bed. “You two can play dress up all by yourselves.”

“Loser,” Stan said. He grabbed Kyle and tugged him into a hug, ruffling his hair under the hat. Stan shifted to catch Kyle in a headlock and continued to run his fingers through the curly hair. “You know you’re jealous of how awesome we look.”

“Stan! Stop it!” Kyle laughed. He shoved and tugged, but his thin arms couldn’t get Stan to let go. “You look super handsome, okay? Is that what you want to hear, dude?”

“Yes,” Stan said. He let go of Kyle and winked. “My mom didn’t spend all her time making me look this good to not hear you say it.”

Kenny had said it.

(But Stan had only looked at Kyle.)