Title: Sooner or Later
Category: Television Shows » Girl Meets World
Author: And The Moment's Gone
Language: English, Rating: Rated: T
Words: 3,545
Warnings/Spoilers: The kids are in High School, Josh is at NYU, Cory still lives in denial.

Official Disclaimer: All Girl Meets World characters and plots belong to Disney Channel, Marc Jacobs, and April Kelly, I do not hold stock either the company or the people. Maya Hart, Joshua Matthews and any other character featured are NOT mine. The title comes from the Mat Kearney song Sooner or Later and I don't own that either.

Josh had discovered there are a few downsides to surpassing the age of majority. While it wasn't so apparent when he'd first hit 18, now that he was rounding on the downside of 20 he's starting to notice a few things. Such as the fact that he was now privy to what had previously been deemed 'adult conversation.'

"I think Maya's sleeping with Friar."

It's not the sentence in and of itself that's troublesome. It's more likely the fact that Shawn had pretty much made this announcement in the middle of a late dinner on a Friday night, while the teen in question was at the movies with the aforementioned cowboy, the week's football game called on account of the fact that it hadn't stopped raining since Monday. The good news was that her best friend wasn't present either, too busy at the Minkus residence prepping for the New York State Math League the next morning. Josh found himself relieved Auggie had chosen this evening to beg to be allowed to skip Riley's competition in favor of a long weekend at Dewy's.

There should have also be consideration given to the fact that Cory took in this information like a champ, swallowing his bite of meatloaf and taking a sip of his water entirely too calmly. He set his fork down gently and then turned to his best friend on the bench beside him. "That is ridiculous."

If Josh were a betting man, he would have said that his brother had -maybe- another five minutes in the current conversation before he stuck his fingers in his ears and la la la'd himself out of the room. Maybe.

But either Shawn didn't notice this, or he plainly didn't care because he took another sip of his beer and looked pointedly across the table to Topanga. "You don't live at my apartment."

Something could be said that Shawn didn't live at his apartment either, due to the fact that he's there for maybe two weeks out of the month between assignments. Since Katy got her first call back on an off-Broadway production of something or another, Shawn single-handedly picked up the slack that Maya's mother had left behind, making sure to uphold his Birthday promise that he wouldn't allow anyone to grow up the way that he did. When he wasn't traveling for the web magazine, he hung his hat in a spacious 2-bedroom loft in TriBeCa. Whether or not it was a conscious decision on anyone's part, Maya had more or less taken over the second bedroom; using it on weekends when her mother had long rehearsal days, or weeks when they were both gone for too long because his neighborhood felt safer than hers - and she liked the light better in his apartment for painting.

No one bothered to mention that if Maya was, in fact, sleeping with Lucas, there really wasn't anything anyone could do to stop her. Instead, Topanga watched her husband try to breathe and just shook her head. "State your case, counselor." Her tone took on a courtroom quality, and she folded her hands under her chin.

Cory smiled sharply, nodding his head towards his wife, as Shawn shook his again. "A fraction his wardrobe is in her closet." He said after a minute, "and she wears at least one article of his clothing on a daily basis."

"The same could be said for Riley." While she wasn't outright telling him he was seeing things, Josh could tell that Topanga was trying very hard not to. "Are you trying to tell me that Lucas is sleeping with her too?"

"He's not trying to tell you that." Cory practically shouted at no one in particular. "Please tell me that he's not trying to tell you that." Finally, he turned to his best friend. "You're not trying to tell her that are ya, Shawnie?"

A huff and a deep breath, and Shawn looked up at Topanga again. "Did you really have to get him started?"

"He was already started," she told him harshly. "I'm just allowing him an avenue to freak out with." A reassuring pat to her husband's shoulder and Topanga stood, collecting dinner plates. This was one of those conversations that needed coffee. Or wine.

There was a short lull in the conversation, as Topanga put the dishes in the sink, and Shawn steered Cory into the living room, where Josh thought he would be able to slip away to the guest room and pretend he had never been involved with this conversation. It lasted all of three seconds before reality came back to him.

"Can you grab your brother a beer, Josh? Before he hyperventilates."

He was on his feet without thinking, pulling open the door to the refrigerator and turning back to the living room. "You want another, Shawn?"

"Only if you guys are out of that burgundy we had last week."

While that didn't exactly answer Josh's question, the fact that Topanga muttered a quick 'I've got this," as she reached past him for a bottle of wine, and then pulled two glasses out of the cabinet was enough. Assuming for a second that the reason they were having this conversation in front of him meant that the usual rules of the house applied, Josh grabbed himself a Heineken, and made sure to pop the tops before following his sister-in-law to the couch. "I still haven't heard anything that sounds like actual evidence."

From his place on the couch, Cory smiled. It would have unnerved Josh if it weren't for the fact that Cory's hopeful naïveté was something that he had grown up with. The Matthews family actually seemed to cultivate it over the years.

"Look at my wife," he said after a moment, accepting the beer his brother offered with a nod of thanks. "Such a brilliant woman."

"Although," Topanga handed Shawn his wine glass with a curt smile, sitting in the chair to the other side of the coffee table. "If it's true, it could be a very smart decision on her part."

He didn't even look at her, choosing instead to hold his best friend's gaze. "She's an idiot savant!" Cory barked quickly. "What are ya tryin' to do to me?!" He finally whipped his head around, and Josh could see a full-blown rant bubbling up.

The pillow flew past Josh's head before he really had time to register that Topanga threw it. "Oh, will you calm down?" She all but shouted. Then she turned to Shawn. "She's a seventeen-year-old girl who has more or less had to raise herself. Of course there are going to be certain areas that she's going to want to explore long before any of us are ready for that." When Shawn opened his mouth to respond, Topanga held up a finger. "And before you get all defensive, Mr. Hunter, do we need to bring up how old you were when you started experimenting sexually?"

As Shawn started to sputter, Josh raised his hand slightly. "Can we never utter that sentence again? Please?" His brother clutched the pillow to his chest and nodded emphatically.

"My point here is that Maya is a cautious person when it comes to relationships to begin with. She's only had one relationship that lasted more than a month in her entire high school career." Briefly Josh was reminded of Kelly, the football player that pretended he was a hipster. Maya had broken up with him shortly before Christmas her freshman year because when pressuring her to sleep with him failed, he decided to take comfort in half the ladies lacrosse team. He'd never been happier to hear that Lucas had been suspended for three days for punching that little asshole out. Apparently Shawn remembered it as well, nodding slowly along with Topanga's logic. "And she's not stupid. She knows all about protecting herself and preventing pregnancy."

Both girls had been given the very same talk when their permission slips were signed and they were on their way to beginning sex ed. Cory had had an impassioned speech about the way things worked, including a very elaborate diagram on how the only things you got out of sex was children, STDs, and death. After Topanga had managed to extradite both girls -and no, Josh wasn't going to admit that he eavesdropped on the ever-so-sacred bay window time to learn this- Shawn had managed to get a hold of Maya and have a discussion of his own, including the promise to make her a clinic appointment if she wanted one, and a conversation on condoms (because "you're a stupid kid, but you aren't that stupid").

As much as he hated the fact that these were all things that he hadn't actually thought about before he decided to broach this subject with his best friend, Shawn was kind of glad that Topanga was being logical about the whole situation. "But," he added with a grumble. "Lucas Friar?"

"And what's wrong with Lucas?" Topanga poured more wine into both glasses before taking a long sip. "He's a straight A student, a National Honor Society member, " at this point Topanga had set her glass down to tick his qualities off on her fingers. "He's been shortlisted for early acceptance to Cornell, he treats both Maya and Riley like princesses, and he loves his mother." The last one was said as more of an afterthought, and Josh got a stern look as he snorted. "And you like Lucas."

"Not if he's sleeping with Maya." Shawn pushed himself off of the couch and moved to pace behind it. "He was Riley's first boyfriend, so we know how this is gonna go if Riley finds out about this." He shoved a hand into his hair, and for a brief moment, Josh wondered if his parents had ever had discussions like this. "And what happens if they're not as careful as they think they're being, or Maya actually falls for him, and he finds someone else?" He stopped abruptly and suddenly seemed to realize that he was still holding his wine glass. "He's going to Cornell in the fall, and the only schools Maya's applied to are here and in Philly! One way or another, she's going to get hurt."

"Just because I'm curious," Josh started slowly, sitting back and watching Topanga smile enigmatically at Shawn and Cory's mounting excitement. There was a few seconds pause before both men turned to look at him. "Are we righteously disgruntled because Maya's having sex or is it because it's Friar and could end badly?" Topanga's smile got wider, which seemed to tip him off that he was on the right track. "Because I don't think it really matters who she's sleeping with. I don't think the risk diminishes just because it's not a friend."

"You're on her side!" Cory spat at him, and Josh had to get up from his seat in order to avoid being bashed with the throw pillow.

Topanga held her hand out for him to move over to her chair, and Josh wasn't embarrassed to admit that he did as directed. "He has a point." She shifted in her chair and held her hand up to prevent Cory from trying to hit her. "Choosing someone like Lucas is probably safer for her."

Shawn had stopped his pacing, looking to Topanga in furious wonder. "No." He decided quickly. "Not, it's not."

"He knows her." She stood up, this time to reach Shawn on his level. "He understands the way she is, and she feels safe with him. So it makes sense that she would trust him enough with this." When he turned, Topanga put her hand on his shoulder. "And face it, if you hadn't found, whatever it is that you found to make you suspicious, you wouldn't have even known something was happening."

He didn't want to admit that she was right. And Shawn absolutely did not want to admit that out loud. "It was a condom wrapper," he said after a moment. "I came back from Thailand and there was a pair of sweatpants in her dirty laundry that had a condom wrapper in the pocket."

Josh watched as Topanga had to resist the urge to point out that she was right, and Maya was being careful.

Shawn sputtered for another minute before launching himself over the couch like a teenager, landing next to his best friend. "I just hate it! Okay?!"

"And you're allowed." Topanga set the wine glass she had snagged right before Shawn had gone over the couch on the kitchen table. She dropped herself on the coffee table in front of both men with a frown. "Being a parent is tough. Even if they're not your kid."

Josh allowed himself to finally stand and collect the empty beer bottles. "And bright side," he added, moving to the table. "You've done a pretty good job of it so far."

It was like a light bulb turned on, and two of the three people in the room suddenly remembered that not only was Josh in the room, but he was considerably younger than anyone else. Shawn looked like he was about to apologize for bringing him into his first adult conversation.

"Shawnie?" Cory held his wife's hands in his as he looked to his best friend. "Needless to say, I'm a little upset."

Shawn smiled and reached around to clap him on the shoulder. "You're always upset, Cor."

Both Matthews nodded, and Cory dropped his head to Shawn's shoulder. "Well, more than usual."

The front door opened with a shove, and Lucas Friar took two steps in before he had to steady himself, Maya wiggling on his back. "You've had entirely too much popcorn, Shortstack," he grumbled as he readjusted her position before standing upright again. All three adults turned as he pushed himself off from the wall and walked the three feet to the chair before releasing her legs and tilting himself backward so she dropped neatly onto the plush surface. "Next time, you're walking home."

"You said that last time." Maya reminded him, toeing off her ballet flats and sliding to her left so he could perch himself onto the arm of the chair. "And yet, here we are."

Lucas watched her out of the corner of his eye, oblivious to the stares from three out of the four adults in the room. "That's because I was raised to be a gentleman." He scratched the back of his neck even as he turned more fully to her. "I can never resist helping out a damsel in distress."

It was his Texas twang that got her, more than the traditional tipping of the hat. Maya snorted and turned in the chair, maneuvering herself so her feet were in Lucas's lap. "If that's what you need to tell yourself." She paused then; finally noticing all eyes on her, but didn't change her position. "You guys said to come home right after." She grabbed for Lucas's arm - more specifically his watch, and he didn't even bother to grumble as she forced his wrist into a position to better see the dial. "It's not even ten, we can't be late."

"You're not," Shawn said after a second. "You're actually earlier than expected."

"Score one for me." Maya dropped his arm then and pulled herself to her feet to rid herself of her jacket. She then promptly dropped herself back into the chair.

Josh chuckled as he resumed his trek to the recycling bin. While he wasn't about to say it out loud, but now that it had been pointed out, Maya did seem to be more physically comfortable with Lucas than usual. He dropped the bottles, probably louder than he should have, and absently grabbed two bottles of water from the fridge on his way back into the room. "How was the movie?"

"Not bad"

"Could have been worse."

It only took a second for Josh to notice that Lucas had been far more interested in whatever they'd gone to see than Maya had. But it had been a Friday night with no football, no homework, and no best friend, so when Maya had gotten the invite for a free flick, she hadn't didn't mind so much that it wasn't one of her choice.

"You went to see the new Spiderman movie, didn't you?" Releasing her husband, Topanga delicately stole the throw pillow he was clutching out of his hands and dropped it back into place beside him. "You didn't like it?"

Maya and Lucas opened their mouths to speak at the same time. Again. Thankfully the older of the two noticed this and closed his mouth as Maya geared herself up for her answer.

"They've had 3 reboots in 15 years," she grunted, accepting Josh's offer of water. "And I honestly didn't think the last one deserved a sequel." She took a quick sip and then patted Lucas's leg. "I'm still not sure we needed to see this one. No offense."

"It wasn't that bad." Lucas ruffled her hair as he double-checked his watch, "At least you got free popcorn."

"I also ate most of your Snowcaps." No one was surprised that Maya was unashamed.

When he stood, he twisted Maya slightly so he could extradite the arm that had wound up behind her. "On that note," he readjusted his jacket and bent to bump his chin with Maya's forehead. "I promised my Mama I would be home by ten thirty."

"Do you need a ride?" Shawn asked dumbly, moving to his feet. Maya watched Lucas try to shrug him off with a smile. "Or train fare?"

Stuffing his hands in his pockets, and double-checking that Maya hadn't lifted his wallet, Lucas shook his head. "I'm only going up to Gramercy, sir." Pulling the wallet out, Lucas pulled his regular Metrocard out from behind his school issued one. "It's a pretty straight shot." As an afterthought, he looked over to Maya. "You want me to take you home first?"

"Totally unnecessary, Cowboy." She looked over to Shawn slowly. "It's still okay if I crash here, right?"

Topanga's line from earlier struck Josh then, being a parent was tough. "Your mom say it's okay?"

Maya nodded, digging her phone out of her pocket. "She's filming that bit part on the cop pilot." She huffed slightly. "She told me I was good last week, and I texted to remind her where I was gonna be earlier."

He wanted to point out that 17-year-old Maya was far more considerate to her parent and/or guardian than he was at her age. Then again, 17-year-old Shawn didn't really have that many people to be considerate toward. "Then I don't see why not." He took a second to look over her outfit. "You have something to wear tomorrow?"

The noise that came out of Maya's mouth could not be classified as human. "I'm sure I can find something." Josh could have sworn that he heard Topanga stress that she could handle that part.

"Okay." Shawn reached for his jacket, and Josh noted that he pulled Cory's off the hook as well. "I'm taking your husband for a beer," he told Topanga shortly.

Remembering the conversation Maya had walked in on; Josh fully understood when Topanga waved them off. "Riley has to be at Léman Manhattan Prep at nine," she reminded both men. "Competition starts at ten."

"And someone will be buying me coffee between those two times," Maya interjected helpfully.

"Call me if you decide to crash at Shawn's." Topanga kissed her husband gently and then pulled Shawn into a hug. "Everything will be okay," she whispered to the older man.

Shawn nodded carefully. "Thanks." When his coat was firmly in place, he leaned down and kissed the top of Maya's head. "I'll swing by Everyman on my way in the morning and grab you a Macchiato if you promise not to drive anyone crazy until I get there."

"I'll consider it." Maya returned with a smile. "See ya tomorrow, Shawn."

"Night kiddo." He looked across the living room. "Josh."

The door shut, and Topanga leaned against it with a thump. "Well," she exclaimed softly. "That was fun." Both kids raised an eyebrow at her, and she just shrugged. "I have a deposition to earmark before Monday, so I'm actually going to get started on that." She started to remind Maya that leftovers were in the fridge and that she was allowed to help herself, before remembering exactly who she was speaking to.

"Good night Mrs. Matthews." Maya slid from the chair to the sofa without actually standing up.

"Good night sweetie." And then, as an afterthought, "If you feel like just staying here Josh, I'm sure you've left something in the guest room that was washed."

Josh didn't even have time to assure Topanga that he would manage before she was gone. Grabbing a bag of chips off of the counter, Josh dropped down on the couch beside Maya, not bothering to curse the fact that she had found the remote first.

"So," she started, flipping past BBCAmerica before returning to it. "What'd you do tonight?"

Josh just smiled. "You wouldn't believe me if I told you."