Author: Kagedtiger PM
Jack comes back to Philadelphia after seven years in Africa, and finds that he has a little bit of catching up to do with some old friends. JackEric slashRated: Fiction K+ - English - Romance - Words: 2,530 - Reviews: 19 - Favs: 11 - Follows: 3 - Published: 05-06-03 - Status: Complete - id: 1334860
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Notes: I don't own Boy Meets World. I don't even really want to. Owning Eric would be enough, I think. Anyway, I'm not making money either, so don't sue me. Finally, this is slash (male/male romance), so don't read it if you disapprove.
It's been seven years since I last saw Eric Matthews. More to the point, it's been seven years since I last saw any of the old gang, except for Rachel of course. It feels so strange, to be back home. Home... it's odd, but in a way, Philadelphia really became my home.
It must be the same for all the others. Eventually they all drifted back. Cory and Topanga came last, because of her job. But eventually, Topanga being who she is, she got a better offer that was near their old house. The incentive of being near Cory's family proved too much to resist, and so they came back. They got an apartment less than half an hour away from Cory's parents' house. Topanga is now the manager of a rather large investment firm and Cory is, believe it or not, her secretary.
Shawn came back before they did. He by no means settled in Philadelphia permanently. He's always been a drifter, and that hasn't changed. He writes articles for Rolling Stone. Very successful ones, I might add. He's become something of a writing legend, I guess. I've tried to follow his success as much as I can.
Angela found her way back to Shawn, eventually. They always knew that they were made for each other. She drifts with him now, and seems content to do so. I imagine though that they'll settle down when their first child comes along. Which it's bound to, at some point.
So let's see... the old gang. There's Cory and Topanga, Shawn and Angela, me and Rachel... and Eric.
I lost track of Rachel. I know she was planning to come back here at some point, but I don't know where she is now. It's just as well, I suppose. It would hurt too much to see her.
It feels very odd to be walking down the old middle school hallways. I never went to this school, having arrived too old. But I visited it a time or two, when Eric went to see his younger brother. So I recognize the place, albeit dimly.
It looks pretty much the same as I remember it. The carpets are a bit more faded here, and the paint is peeling a bit there, but all in all they've managed to keep the place in decent shape. I drift down the familiar halls, just looking. Here and there I catch a fleeting glimpse of memory, mostly good.
Without realizing it, my feet have led my to Mr. Feeny's old classroom. That's alright. I inquired at the office, and this is where I'm supposed to be anyway. It seems almost too ironic that they gave him his mentor's old room.
Eric always said he wanted to be a weatherman. In the end however, that's not what he did. In a way, I don't think he could have done anything but become a teacher. Mr. Feeny was such a huge influence on his life.
I wait outside the door until the bell rings. It's three o'clock, so that should be the last bell. Which is how I planned it, anyway.
After all the students have filed out, I step forward and stand in the doorway. He doesn't see me at first. He's looking down at some papers on his desk, a frown of concentration on his face. He's wearing a very business-like grey suit, but his hair has gotten longish again and looks tousled and in complete disarray. Quite suddenly all I want is for him to look up, so that I can see his eyes. I need to see his eyes again, those eyes that have haunted me for the past seven years.
As if in answer to my prayers, he glances up to the doorway, his eyes -those precious eyes- widening as he recognizes me.
"Jack? Oh my... JACK?!" He runs forward and throws his his arms around me in the most effusive hug I've ever gotten. I grin and hug him back, and for a moment it feels like old times. But then it returns, the strange sensation that I've had for the past five years or so whenever I thought of Eric. And it's all the stronger for being this close to him. I feel a whisper of regret as he finally pulls away from me. "Jack! Where have you been man? When did you get back? What are you doing here? Man it's great to see you! What about Rachel, is she here too?"
I hold up my hands as though to fend him off. "Whoah, whoah! Take it easy on me. I just got back, and I'm still getting used to the fact that you're a teacher."
Eric's smile falters just the tiniest bit. "You... didn't get my letters?"
"I got some of them," I reply. "But we were moving around a lot, so I'm sure quite a few missed me."
"Ah." He looks uneasy for a moment, then brightens again. "Well, that's okay. What did you think of the letters you did get?"
"They were... nice," I say, unsure if he's alluding to something in particular. It's hard to tell with him sometimes. "I didn't always appreciate the Hello Kitty stationary, but it did brighten my day sometimes."
He smiles, and his smile lights the whole room. "Yeah, I love that paper. It's the best. I got it especially to write letters on, because I couldn't e-mail you! I mean come on, no e-mail? What, were you in, like, Africa or something?"
I pause for a moment. Even now, Eric still has that strange cluelessness about him. I missed that.
"Yes Eric, I was in Africa."
His eyes widen again. "Aw man, you have to tell me about it!" He drags me to a desk near the front of the class and then sits behind his own. "Come on, you have to tell me everything!"
I smile, and begin to do just that. He listens with all the intensity of a child being told his favorite bedtime story, interrupting me every now and again to add his own comments. We talk for hours, until finally the janitor comes in and informs us that he's locking up. I look at him, startled; I hadn't realized that it had gotten so late.
Eric smiles and stands up, walking around his desk and offering a hand to me. "It's getting late. You want to crash at my place? That way we can finish the conversation."
I take his hand, pull myself up, grin at him, and nod. "That sounds good. But if I'm going to be staying the night with you, then it's only fair that I treat you to dinner first."
Eric gets that happy puppy look that he has, which is worth the price of a hundred dinners. I smile to myself and follow him out, deciding to let him pick the restaurant.
We talk animatedly the entire meal, and it feels like we've never been apart. By the time we get back to his apartment, we've pretty much exhausted the topic of my trip and his job, and yet we never seem to lack a subject for discussion.
Finally there is a lull, and we sit on his sofa, just enjoying each other's company. He has a very nice apartment, actually quite similar to the one I used to share with him. The stairs are on the other side of the room, and they go straight up to a second floor instead of to a landing, but other than that, the layout is eerily the same.
"Hey Jack?" Eric asks suddenly. "What ever happened to Rachel? Didn't you and she get back together?"
He hasn't brought up Rachel at all since he first mentioned her when I surprised him at school, and I wonder a little about him bringing the topic up now. It's a little bit of a sore spot, but if anyone deserves to hear about it, it's Eric. He was, after all, instrumental in our breakup.
"I... I don't know where she is right now. We broke up a while ago. She said she would probably be coming back to Philadelphia eventually."
"I see." Eric looks slightly disappointed for some reason. "So, you came back here to wait for her?"
I'm surprised at the bitterness in his tone. "No. No, we're over. I came back here because, well, somehow this is home for me now. Everyone I love is here."
Eric smiles, but there's something new in his smile. Some tinge of sadness that wasn't there before. I want to chase that sadness away. But I don't know what's wrong.
I look at him slightly skeptically. "You're happy that it's over? What the hell? I mean come on-"
"No," he interrupts, "I mean I'm glad that this is home for you. It's nice to know that you still think of your friends."
"Actually, I thought of you a lot. You in particular, I mean. You were on my mind a great deal while I was in Africa." I can feel myself straying into dangerous territory, but I can't bring myself to pull back. I find I don't really want to.
He smiles brilliantly. I love that smile. "I thought of you a lot too. I missed my partner in crime."
Normally I wouldn't even consider pushing this. Normally I would wait until it built up to a level where neither of us could stand it any longer. But now... for me it has built up. I've had years to think about this in Africa. And I've realized that it's worth the risk. He's worth the risk.
"Is that... the only reason you missed me?"
He looks confused. It's a priceless expression, though he wears it often.
"What do you mean Jack?"
I decide to use a different tactic. "Do you remember that one time, back when, when we went out looking for our soul mates? We brought back those two girls, who were just like us?"
He smiles, savoring the memory. "Yeah. And we tried to switch them, only to realize that we were better off with the opposite personalities after all. But by that point they were so fed up with us that they left anyway."
"Yeah. Well, we learned a lesson from that, but I don't think it was the right one."
Again that slightly confused look. But there's something else there, I think. I think he knows exactly what I'm getting at. I can see it in his eyes. But he's waiting for me to say it. Why is that? Is he worried that he might be wrong? Or is the just waiting for me to take the initiative? Perhaps he's afraid.
"I mean, well, think about it. The people who were most probably perfect for us had each other's personalities. So what if... you and me..."
"That's why you broke up with Rachel."
He gets it. He gets it so quickly that I think he must have suspected, because not even he can make such great leaps of insight. I nod and avert my eyes, scared to look at him.
"So, have you always..." he asks, not exactly phrasing the question. But I know what he means.
"I think so. I didn't really consider it, I guess, when we were roommates. But I think I always felt it. I was just afraid to admit it to myself." I still can't look at him. I trust Eric with my life, but I'm still afraid of his reaction. I try to tell myself that this is Eric. Eric is one of the coolest people I know. Eric would never hurt me. But I'm still nervous.
He's quiet for a little too long, leaving me to sit there and sweat. But finally, he questions softly, "What exactly are you asking of me?"
I bite my lip. Well, it's not exactly a denial. It's not as bad as what I had feared; at least he hasn't thrown me out of the apartment in disgust.
"I... I'm not sure. It depends on what you're willing to give me, I guess. Assuming the best, and I'm not, I would like to... be with you. Maybe, as your boyfriend or just lover?" I feel beyond foolish saying this out loud, but it feels like it needs to be said.
And to my immense surprise, he turns to me, tilts my chin up slightly so that I am looking into his eyes, and kisses me. For a moment I am so overcome by shock that I forget to respond, but instinct quickly takes over and I kiss him back. Still, my mind has yet to form a coherent thought.
He smiles when he breaks away, a smile more brilliant than any I have ever seen. It is so bright that it leaves me dazzled for a moment. I almost don't catch his next words.
"Yes. Of course I'll be your boyfriend."
"But... how..." I attempt to voice some of the things in my head at the moment, but I still don't seem to be capable of coherency. I try again.
"How can you just... know? Don't you need to think about it? I mean, I've had years-"
"So have I," he interrupts. "Believe it or not, I've been thinking about the same thing for years. I... wasn't sure what to think when you walked into my classroom, you know. Because one of the letters I sent you had a love confession. I take it you never got it."
I shake my head in wonder. "No. I never did."
Once again he smiles cheerfully. "I guess it doesn't matter now. It got said." He kisses me again, this time just a small peck. Then he looks around with widening eyes.
"And hey, we're in my apartment! How conveniant." He begins to get that look in his eyes. I've seen it before, and it's always brought out a feeling of dread. That look means that he's planning something, some escapade or other.
I think perhaps I'm actually going to like this one.