Hello, all. The last thing you probably expected from me was a Shawn and Morgan story, but it's been playing around in my head for a while, and I finally worked this out. (Thanks to Multi-Shipper Girl for first suggesting a Shawn and Morgan story since I do prefer the more unusual pairings.) This is just a one-shot and as of now I have no plans for anything more (I need to finish Where You Least Expect It and hopefully get back to Stumbling into Fate after that) but you never know. This was a nice little break for my muses. It's not exactly romantic, but the possibility is there. I hope you enjoy. :-)
It wasn't the unfamiliar bedroom that threw Shawn off when he opened his eyes. Between his tedious book tour and the freelance assignments he still enjoyed his own bedroom had become unfamiliar to him. No, what currently had Shawn Hunter scratching his head was the fact that he was in a child's race car bed with no memory of how he got there. He remembered going to a bar last night after yet another book signing and then...and then...he had nothing. He rarely drank anymore, but every once in a while- when one town starts to blend into the next and his hotel rooms all start to look alike- he found himself at a bar. Shawn has never been good at knowing his limits and it was even more difficult when everyone wanted to buy you a drink. The only plus was he never had to spend his own money getting wasted. Usually when he woke up hung over there was a beautiful woman in bed beside him and it wasn't difficult to put the pieces together from there. But this was new. Shawn looked to his left and saw a crib set up on the other side of the room. Where the hell was he? Realizing he would learn nothing lying here, he sat up. Despite the fact that the room was starting to spin, Shawn got out of the little bed. He took one step and regretted it instantly. Something had embedded itself in his foot and in his still drunken state he didn't fully consider the consequences of picking up said foot to investigate and crashed to the floor. "Ow, my keys."
Moments later the door creaked open. "Shawn, are you okay?"
Shawn. Good, he was with someone who knew his name. Some mornings he didn't even have that. He looked towards the voice, but all he could make out was blonde hair. When she crouched down beside him he knew she looked familiar, yet he couldn't place her. "I have something stuck in my foot," he feebly replied, lifting his foot in the air.
She laughed, knowing once he was completely sober Shawn would be embarrassed by his behavior. "Sorry about that. My older son is really into Legos right now. He must've missed one when putting them away." She retrieved the block from his foot. "There you go. All better."
"No problem. When you feel safe to walk I have coffee and breakfast."
"Ugh, no food right now."
"Yes. You need to get some food in you. I'll be out there." She pointed to the door. "Join me when you and gravity are friends again, okay?"
After a few minutes Shawn felt confident enough to sit up and eventually stand. He looked around the room and couldn't help but feel a little jealous. Yes, the bedroom was small and siblings had to share, but it was obvious a lot of care had gone into decorating it. The side of the room with the crib was decorated in a sweet puppy theme and the name Caleb hung over the baby bed in red wooden letters. The side of the room he crashed on was devoted to vehicles. If it had wheels and could move, it was on this half of the room. The race car bed belonged to Asher, at least if the checkered flag patterned letters were any indication. As Shawn investigated the room further, he noticed pictures on top of the dresser. Picking up one he saw what looked to be a normal family: a dad, two little boys, and a mom who still looked so familiar to him. He moved onto the next picture, almost dropping it when he saw the same little boys with Amy and Alan Matthews. His eyes darted back to the blonde in the previous picture. Was that Morgan? Was he in her home? It had been years since he had seen her. Shawn had received invitations to her high school graduation and her wedding, but was busy with one thing or another and was unable to attend the events. Boy, had she grown up.
"I was starting to wonder if you were ever coming out." Morgan looked up from her plate as Shawn slowly made his way into her kitchen. "Are you okay?"
"Just so I know I'm not completely losing it- you're Morgan, right? Your parents are Alan and Amy and your brother is my best friend Cory?"
She stared at him, concerned. Hadn't they covered all this last night? "Did you hit your head? Do you need to see a doctor?"
"No, I'm fine. I just...I didn't recognize where I was and I don't remember how I got here." He wouldn't be proud to admit that to anyone, but somehow saying it to Cory's sister felt worse. "I don't normally drink a lot." That was true. He only drank when the monotony of travel got to him.
"Don't worry about it." Morgan waved him off. "We all have our bad nights when we need to drown our sorrows in a few Kamikazes."
"I wasn't drinking Kamikazes."
"I know. That was my drink of choice."
"Why was last night a bad night for you?"
She stared into her cup of coffee. "My divorce became final at midnight. My friends thought the only proper way to celebrate was with a drink in my hand and my eyes on a new guy."
"I'm sorry. I didn't know your marriage was ending. Cory never said anything." Usually he kept Shawn up to date on everyone he wished to be updated on.
"That's because I didn't say anything to my family until a few days ago."
"It's embarrassing," she quietly admitted. "My parents have been married forever and are still just as happy as they were when I was a kid. Cory and Topanga are sickeningly sweet and perfect, like always."
Shawn had to smile at her description of his best friend and his wife. They welcomed their much wished for second child, a boy, just last year. Then Cory decided to go back to school to be a teacher to provide a better life for his growing family. Dad's a teacher, mom's a lawyer, two kids...throw in a white picket fence and a dog and it was enough to make Shawn hurl, too. He loved them, being Uncle Shawn, and aside from Jack they were the closest thing he had to family, but after a few days the visits were too much for even him to take.
"Josh is doing so well on the wrestling team he's already getting scholarship offers even though he's just a sophmore."
The kid who had to fight to stay alive at birth had kept fighting and was now being rewarded for it.
"And Eric has the coolest job and travels all over the world reporting with Ang..." Morgan noticed Shawn had tensed up at the mention of her eldest brother. "Sorry."
"It's okay. He's your brother. You guys have always been close."
"I know, but he married Angela. I think I can manage to not talk about him while you're here."
Angela had kept her promise and returned to Shawn after a year and for a while they were happy and tried to make their relationship work. Like previous attempts- sometimes they were more successful than others. They finished school, started their careers, started really living life. From the time she had come back to him it seemed like Shawn was waiting for the next thing that would take Angela away, at times he was actively looking for it and trying to push her towards it. When she got an offer from a magazine she rushed home excited to share her news. If Shawn closed his eyes he could still see the elation on her face. And he had been happy for her, at least until he heard the job involved traveling, frequent traveling. She tried to tell him that it didn't matter, that they had endured longer separations, but Shawn had received his final sign- the thing that would take Angela away from him for good. He heard the words coming out of his mouth and he hated himself for it, but he gave her an ultimatum- him or the job. Even as he outwardly condemned her, he couldn't blame her for choosing the job. Shawn had made it impossible for her to want to choose him. The ironic thing was he himself had also just accepted a job. It was with a different magazine and it also required travel. He had accepted without even consulting Angela. Not only was he an idiot, he was a hypocrite.
How the hell was Shawn supposed to know that a couple years later Angela would run into Eric -literally run into him according to Topanga- while they were both covering a conference on climate change? Now, not only were they married, but they worked together. Her desire for work that informed and inspired seemed like a natural fit for Eric's enthusiasm for the weather. He had always assumed Angela would find someone else, he even wished for it sometimes. He wanted her to be happy. But why did it have to be Eric? It had been years since he'd seen or spoken to either of them. He avoids Matthews' family gatherings like the plague if he hears they are going to be there.
"Shawn, are you okay?" She decided to speak up after he was silent for several long moments. She'd blame the hangover, but his gaze had remained fixed on her fridge in the direction on Eric and Angela's latest emailed picture. Asher liked putting Uncle Eric's pictures on the fridge. Morgan didn't want to be the one to break the news to Shawn that she'd have a new little niece or nephew by Thanksgiving.
"Yeah, I'm fine. So, Cory's got a sweetly perfect life, Josh has school and wrestling, Eric's got a cool job, what about you? Why do you think you're an embarrassment?"
She shot him a look of disbelief. "In five years' time I've dropped out of college, got married to a guy I was only pretty sure I loved, had a kid, moved far away from my family because of my husband's career, and began divorce proceedings while pregnant with my second baby. Now I'm a single mom. That's not a life, that's a soap opera character's life." Morgan took a sip of her coffee. "By the way, if you're ever married and you and your wife need to have the "is our relationship really over" talk, be careful if there's alcohol around. Nine months after Nathan and I had that talk Caleb was born."
Shawn wasn't quite sure what to say. "I'm sorry."
"You don't have to be. It's not like I regret all of it, or even most of it. I wouldn't trade my boys for anything," she said with a smile. "They are the world to me. And you know, even my marriage wasn't all bad. Nate and I might not have been ready to be married, but we did the best we could with what we had. He is an amazing father."
It was only after describing the past few years of her life that Shawn noticed how tired Morgan looked. She didn't look bad by any means. If she wasn't his best friend's baby sister he'd probably be hitting on her. But she did look slightly older than mid-twenties listed on her driver's license. He could chalk it up to having two young boys to take care of, but he sensed it was more than that. It was a weariness that came from life experience earned the hard way. "Can I ask you something?"
"Why did you leave school and get married, especially if you were only pretty sure you loved him?"
"Nathan made me feel special. I felt like I mattered when I was with him." She shrugged. "I didn't always feel that way at home."
"What are you talking about," he asked incredulously. "You have the family and the parents every kid should only be so lucky to have."
"Yes, I know, they're great and I love them, but I always felt like I was lost in the shuffle...at least the times I didn't feel like I was in the way. There was always something to deal with, always something going on. Eric was crazy, Cory had the ability to turn even a paper cut into a Defcon one level emergency, and Josh, well he was okay for the most part, but he's the youngest and everyone was so worried about him after he was born that everything he's ever done is treated like a miracle. And then there was...never mind." She sipped her coffee again. Talking like this was bringing up all the old feelings from childhood.
"And then there was me?" Shawn had a pretty good feeling that's where Morgan had been headed before she stopped herself. She was suddenly unable to meet he gaze. "It's okay, I'm sure having me around wasn't easy on any of you. I tend to drag down the people that care about me."
Morgan couldn't help but roll her eyes. "God, you still do that?"
"Act like you're some emotionally damaged freak that will contaminate anyone who will lower themselves to try and get close to you."
"That's what you think, isn't it? It's why you haven't put down roots and prefer to flitter in and out of people's lives at whim. This way you never stick around long enough to make someone sick of you."
Morgan's words stung more than she probably intended, more than Shawn thought she was capable of. "I don't flitter around at whim. I divide my time between those I care about."
"Look, I'm sorry. Maybe I'm more hungover than I realized."
He disregarded her apology. "It's not like you're completely off base."
"Still, it was kind of bitchy on my part."
"Maybe a little," he said with a hint of a smile.
"You started it." Shawn made another attempt to eat. Food was looking slightly more appealing. "Did you really feel in the way when you were a kid?"
"Well, yeah. If I had a dollar for every time I got sent out of the room so people could talk I would be on the Forbes 500 list."
"I guess you have a point."
Morgan pushed her food around the plate. "Nathan, he paid attention to me. He cared about what was going on in my life. He wanted to know everything about me. He didn't treat me like I was in the way."
"I'm sorry for any part I played in you not feeling wanted at home. I know I stole the spotlight on a few occasions."
"It wasn't your fault. You were a kid. So was I, but I should've spoken up. I've always had a big mouth."
"Still, I know what it's like to feel that no one cares about you or think that you're in the way. I should've been more sensitive to your feelings."
"Don't blame yourself. I'm over it most of the time and I don't want this to be something else you carry around with you forever."
"Carry around with me forever?"
"Yeah. You strike me as someone who never lets anything go, especially the bad stuff. You hold onto it until it becomes such a part of you that even when you're happy you're not. The bad thing is still there lurking behind the next memory."
Another damning truth she'd slung his way. "I'm going to guess that you took a psychology class in college?"
"A few," she admitted, "but I also grew up with you. I know how you think. Despite what you want to believe you're not that complex."
Shawn was starting to get uncomfortable. He never realized she had noticed what was going on when she was a kid. Wasn't she too busy at ballet classes or playing dolls? "Can we change the subject away from analysis of my personality and life?"
That wasn't what he was expecting. "That's your first question, wanting to know how my brother is?"
"Why not? I did have a crush on him for a while."
He made a face. "Excuse me?" Was he really hearing this?
"What, did you expect me to say you were my first crush?" Morgan laughed. "Don't get me wrong, you're cute but you were a little too down in the dumps for me. Jack was fun."
Shawn ran a hand through his hair. "Okay, I'm not hung over enough to hear that my best friend's sister had a crush on my brother."
"So, how is he?"
After his stint in the Peace Corps with Rachel, Jack found that, while he enjoyed helping people, being on the front lines was maybe not the best place for him to be. Now he lives out in Los Angeles spending his days helping woo celebrity involvement for various charities and organizing the events. It seemed like every few months there was a new, often famous, lady on his arm. Shawn wasn't too sure what had become of Rachel. He hadn't spoken to her in years. She and Jack had drifted apart and went their separate ways after traveling the world together. He honestly wasn't sure if anyone still talked to her. "Jack is good. Busy with work, but good." Something occurred to him. "You're not going to ask for his phone number, are you?"
"Please," she guffawed, "I've seen the tabloid pictures. I highly doubt he'd be interested in me."
"I'm no movie star and after two kids I certainly don't look like one."
"Come on, you look fantastic," he said without thinking.
Morgan's eyebrows shot up. "You really think so?"
"Well yeah. In my mind you are always going to be Cory's baby sister, but if you weren't..."
"If I weren't...what?"
"I probably would've hit on you last night and there's a chance this morning would've started very differently for us." Why was he saying this out loud?
"You really think you're that irresistible, huh," she challenged after an extended silence.
"Of course. I mean, I am a famous author," he teased. "You should see the women lining up to meet me hoping for a chance."
"And how many do you give the chance?"
"More than I probably should, especially since I know things will only last until the next city on the tour."
"I saw you in action at the bar last night. Personally, I prefer you sober, even if you are mopey."
"What do you mean you saw me in action last night?"
"You really don't remember, do you?" Morgan figured he didn't. There's no way he'd be so relaxed and casual around her if he did.
"Hitting on me, trying to buy me drinks, wanting to dance, kissing me..."
"We kissed?!" She nodded. "How...when...why?" He may as well pick out a plot because Cory was going to kill him.
"You didn't recognize me. You kept saying I looked familiar, but you didn't know my name and thought kissing me would bring it all back to you. You thought I was a previous fling, a former Shawn Hunter groupie."
Shawn's head landed on the table with a thud. He was too embarrassed to look at her. "Oh, god." The evening was suddenly coming back to him in flashes. "Was it your shoes I threw up on?"
"No, that would be my friend Emily. She wants me to tell you that you will replace the shoes."
"I don't suppose there's any chance I could replace your memories, is there?"
"Sorry. But really, don't worry about it. At least you kissed me before you puked."
"There's the silver lining I was looking for," he said sarcastically. "Don't tell Cory. I'd like to live to see my next book published."
"Oh, there's going to be a sequel?"
"Yeah, I...wait a minute, you read my stuff?"
She shrugged. "I needed something to do when feeding the baby in the middle of the night."
"Thanks," he said, rolling his eyes.
"It's good. I really enjoyed it."
"Thank you." Shawn stared at the table. "Look, about the kiss..."
"I already said not to worry about it. It's the most action I've seen in months. And, well, it helped."
"How does me drunkenly kissing you help?"
"It showed me that there will be life after my divorce. If I can enjoy a kiss from someone who's not my..."
"So, you enjoyed it?"
"Don't go getting a big ego now." She tossed a crust of toast at him. "You helped me get that first post-divorce kiss out of the way. As stupid as it sounds that was one of the things I was most nervous about. I had been with Nate so long I was afraid that even attempting to share anything close to an intimate action with someone else would send me right back to dating 101 where I knew nothing."
"I'm glad I could help," he replied, still unsure.
They both jumped when her phone rang. "Hang on." She checked the caller id. "Hey, Nate, what's going on? Are the boys okay?"
Shawn watched Morgan, amazed how she was able to seamlessly slip into the role of mommy. He supposed even little girls pretending to be ballerinas grew up at some point. Not wanting to disturb her, he quietly got up from the table in search of his phone. It was time to call a cab and let her get back to her life and for him to go back to his. Though it appeared the future was up in the air for both of them. He snagged a piece of mail on his way to her boys' room, realizing he would need to provide the cab company with an address. A few minutes later he had his phone and other belongings. Morgan was still on the phone, though it was obvious she was now talking to a child.
"No, Asher, you like scrambled eggs, remember? Mommy made them for you a couple days ago and you asked me for more. I know daddy's eggs look different from mommy's but try a couple bites before you make up your mind." She smiled. "Good boy. Thank you. I'll see you tonight, okay? I love you, too." After speaking to Nathan for a quick minute she got off of the phone and was surprised to see Shawn standing there, ready to leave. "You're going?"
"I have a flight in a few hours, gotta get my stuff from the hotel."
"I already called a cab. It should be here in a few minutes."
"Oh, okay. I'll walk you out."
There was an awkward silence as she led him to the door. "Thanks for...letting me crash."
"No problem." She stared at him, slightly nervous all of a sudden. "Do you get back to this area often?"
"Every once in a while, yeah."
"Maybe next time you're in town we can get together and have dinner or something."
Shawn smiled. "That sounds nice, although, maybe we should make that an alcohol free dinner. I wouldn't want to do something stupid again."
"Stop trying to apologize for the kiss. I'm not Cory's baby sister anymore. I'm an adult, a mother. And besides...I kissed you back."
Before he could respond he heard the familiar sounds of a cab driver leaning on the horn and yelling out the window that the meter was already running. "I should go."
Shawn walked down the few steps before turning around, waving awkwardly at her. "See you around."
Morgan waved back. "See you."