Title: Boy Misses Nerd

Author: MInervaEvenstar

Summary: Shawn is happy he and Cory have started high-school, but finds himself strangely disappointed Stuart Minkus isn't in their classes. Mr. Feeny tries to help his wayward student by reintroducing him to his former grade-school nemesis. Pre-slash Shawn/Stuart

Genres: friendship, comedy, romance, family

Rating: Teen

Setting: Beginning of season 2

Characters: Shawn Hunter, Stuart Minkus, Cory Mathews, George Feeny, Jonathan Turner

Boy Misses Nerd

"Well, my dear Shawn, we've just survived our first week of high school," Cory announced as the Dynamic Duo of Homework Avoidance entered through the back door into the Mathews' kitchen on a Friday afternoon.

"We have indeed, my little Cory." Shawn gallantly tossed his backpack full of books he did not intend to read into a chair.

"And how should we celebrate this achievement?" asked the curly haired boy. The two took a moment to rub their chins and scratch their heads while they considered their limited options. Shawn stopped once he got a Thinking Cramp. "Blender?" offered Cory.

Shawn mulled over the suggestion for a moment before nodding seriously. "Blender," he agreed. Suddenly, the two were tearing through cabinets to find random ingredients – cookies, milk, peanut butter, bananas – to stuff into the appliance. Once it was full, Shawn teased, "Don't worry, Lid Boy, I learned my lesson on how to use these babies." He pointedly secured the plastic lid to the glass jar of the blender.

"And Feeny says you don't pay attention." Cory smiled. "By the way, I know I'm too old now to make up superhero names for myself all the time. It isn't cool anymore."

Shawn sympathetically broke the news: "It was never cool, Cor." He pressed the 'on' button to start the blender before Cory could argue. Nothing happened.

The lads looked on in confusion before Cory exclaimed, "Aha!" He held up the cord. "It helps if you plug it in."

"Oh, right. Good eyes." Shawn slapped Cory on the back in a congratulatory manner.

Proudly, Cory replied, "What can I say? I'm an observant problem solver."

With their blended drinks in hand a few minutes later, the boys went onto Cory's back porch to drink the concoctions and enjoy one of the last evenings of summer weather.

"Hey, Cor, did you see Minkus around school at all this week?"

"You mean in the one class you and I don't have together, which is brutal by the way? No."

"I know, man! Separating us is cruel! But not just there. Anywhere. Like when you were talking to Topanga, or hiding from Harley with geeks in the nurse's office." Shawn tried to sound casual, but he was desperate for a lead; he'd even checked the library (not that he'd ever admit it), and hadn't seen a sign of the blond scholar.

"Nope, haven't seen him since our last day of grade school." Cory raised his index finger importantly, "And I faced Harley after I finished hiding."

"And Eric and Mr. Turner saved you."

"Don't remind me about Eric or I might have to start thinking of him as a decent human being."

"But did you see Minkus while you hid amongst the less fortunate?"

"No, but I wouldn't expect to. I mean, even if Minkus is at John Adam's somewhere, hiding isn't his style," pointed out Cory fairly. "He meets threats with revenge schemes and well-placed words no one understands."

Shawn smiled fondly. "Yeah, whenever anyone gives that nerd a hard time, he gives it right back." That was part of why Shawn grudgingly respected Stuart, and why he'd continued to make fun of Stuart throughout elementary school. It wouldn't have been fun to confront someone who didn't fight back. After all, Shawn wasn't a bully who wanted people to fear him. It was just that Stuart – with his confident attitude, adult vocabulary, and ironed clothes – got under Shawn's skin in a way no one else ever had, and Shawn didn't know how to vent his frustration other than rude teasing. Shawn still hadn't figured out why Stuart bothered him so much. The possibility that Stuart could simply disappear, taking all chances of Shawn solving the mystery, was not something Shawn wanted to consider.

"So why do you care if he isn't around to tell us what 'underdeveloped life-forms' we are?" Cory questioned, using his fingers to make quotation marks when he voiced the fanciful insult.

"I'm wondering that too, Mr. Hunter." Mr. Feeny remarked from the other side of the short white fence, which split his yard from the Mathews'. The boys jumped in surprise, certain the teacher-turned-principal hadn't been there a second before.

Shawn stared at Feeny in disturbed awe and asked Cory, "How does he do that?"

"I'm telling you, he was a ninja before he went into education," Cory answered him as he also gawked at his neighbor.

The instructor got the conversation back to the original point. "Mr. Hunter, you never seemed to care for Mr. Minkus, always mocking his passion for learning, throwing things at him, and forbidding him from sitting with you and your friends. Do you want to know where he's gone so you can resume your ridicule of him?"

Cory was facing Shawn now, obviously interested in the response.

Struggling to find words to express his feelings, Shawn muttered, "I just expected Minkus to be there. Every year since we were kids, whenever school started after summer vacation, Minkus would be sitting in the front row of the new classroom, happy summer was over while the rest of us were miserable like normal students. Then, throughout the year, he'd give the right answers to all of the teachers' questions and make the rest of us look like morons. That's the way it's always been and it's weird not having him around. It feels…"

"Incomplete?"

Shawn could always count on Cory to fill in his blanks. "Exactly!"

Mr. Feeny looked at Shawn curiously. "Well, I'm sorry to disappoint you, Mr. Hunter, but Mr. Minkus does not attend your school, and probably never will again. At the end of your sixth grade year, I suggested he take an entrance exam for the Accelerated Program at Philadelphia's School for the Intellectually Gifted because I didn't think a regular public education would challenge him enough. It should come as no surprise to you that he eagerly applied and was accepted."

"They shipped him off to stay at some genius school full of other Stuart Minkuses?" Cory asked, fascinated and horrified at the idea such a place could exist.

"Those other nerds will suck his dark side out of him!" Shawn cried in dismay, leaping to his feet.

Cory commented delicately, "Uh, Shawn, I don't know if Minkus has a dark side."

"Remember when he got the temporary tattoo, and brought a water gun to school in his instrument case? He does have one, but it almost never shows itself cuz it's buried under brownnosing and math acquisitions."

"Equations," corrected Mr. Feeny.

"What?" Shawn was confused, but then continued, dismissing the adult's interruption, as was his wont, "Without any normal guys around to bring it out of him, Minkus' dark side will be lost forever."

Cory didn't understand why Shawn felt so strongly about this, but he loyally attempted to cheer his best friend: "Come on, it's okay; Minkus won't even notice if he loses his, um, dark side. He's gotta be happy going to a school with other teenagers who understand him when he talks."

"Yeah, you're probably right." Shawn smiled, but Cory could tell it was forced. "Anyway, it doesn't matter." He ran a hand through his luxurious hair. "Let's go inside and get started on that movie marathon before your parents insist we eat healthy food for dinner."

"Sure." Cory stood up and gave Mr. Feeny a cordial wave. "Good night, Mr. Feeny."

"Good night, Mr. Mathews. You two should try reading a book this weekend."

"What'd he say?" wondered Shawn as they headed inside.

"Read a-" Mr. Feeny began to repeat before the Mathews' door slammed shut behind the lads. The teacher gave a long-suffering sigh and went inside his own home. He was not entirely sure what to make of Shawn Hunter's unlikely concern for Stuart Minkus. Mr. Feeny did not think Hunter was a bad person, but being raised by assumed-criminals had taught him bad habits, and Feeny previously presumed Hunter gave Minkus a hard time because he envied how easily academics came to Minkus and resented how Minkus' dedicated work ethic made Hunter's laziness more apparent. Now, he determined the situation might be more complicated than he had originally surmised. It would only be fair to let the youths figure things for themselves. Of course, they couldn't do that without communicating. Mr. Feeny retrieved the records of his former students to look up a telephone number and dialed the Minkus household. In accordance with Mr. Feeny's past experiences of calling Mr. and Mrs. Minkus to inform them of their son's excellence in school, no one answered. The parents were normally away on business, and presently Stuart was probably staying after school to get a headstart on the year's schoolwork. Mr. Feeny left Stuart a message and hung up, hoping he'd done the right thing.

The following week Shawn got a detention Cory managed to avoid by remaining conscious during Jonathan Turner's class. "Do me a favor, Hunter," the English teacher said as Shawn finished serving his time, "next time, sleep at home so you can stay awake in my class and, you know, learn something."

Shawn considered his parents' loud arguments. "I'll give it a shot, but no promises." He smiled charmingly as he left.

"And do the paper I assigned so I don't have to fail you, please," he called after him.

Shawn kept walking towards the exit doors, towards freedom. He didn't know the topic of the paper, but hopefully Cory would. If not, it wasn't a big deal. It meant he wouldn't need to spend an hour writing random sentences he hoped made sense, and could spend the time with a girl instead. What was one more failing grade? On the other hand, Turner was cool, and somehow Shawn didn't want to disappoint him.

Then Shawn stepped out of the building and saw something which caused all other thoughts to fly from his mind. Someone with perfect posture stood at the bottom of the concrete steps dressed in pressed beige slacks and a conservative fitted sweater over a collared shirt. The late afternoon sunlight reflected off of his eyeglasses and accentuated the highlights in his neatly trimmed dirty-blond hair. Glancing down at his polished wristwatch, then up at Shawn, he commented, "Your school ends its detention period at this time. I thought I'd have the highest possibility of finding you if I ventured here now. My hypothesis was correct." He looked pleased with himself. "Not that it shouldn't have been given how I factored all known information into the subject."

"Minkus!" Shawn couldn't help the shocked smile that crossed his face. To compensate for showing obvious pleasure, he walked slowly down the stairs in his ripped blue jeans with his hands nonchalantly stuck in the pockets of his black leather jacket. Once he reached the other adolescent, he registered the words. "You came all this way just to see me…Why?"

"It isn't too gargantuan of a distance. Philadelphia's School for the Intellectually Gifted is six blocks that way." Stuart pointed to the right. "I came to see you because Mr. Feeny told me you said your life was incomplete without me." His tone was simultaneously suspicious and hopeful.

"Whoa, whoa!" Shawn took his hands from his pockets so he could gesture with them. "I did not say that. I mean, I did say that, but I didn't mean for it to sound like a bad Lifetime movie or something. I just...noticed you weren't around."

"So you noticed my absence?"

"Yep. That's it."

"Were you bothered by it?"

"By what?"

"By my absence," Stuart explained patiently.

Shawn groaned in frustration when what he'd been missing returned. The feeling only being around Stuart Minkus generated; Shawn's skin prickled, hyper-aware of Stuart, and something burned inside of Shawn's stomach. As usual, the sensations made Shawn want to mess up Stuart's unruffled appearance and demeanor to prove the other boy was affected as well. Shawn disliked these feelings because they confused him, but they were deliciously exciting too, and Shawn had missed them.

"Class isn't as much fun without you sitting a few rows in front of me to throw things at," he finally admitted as offhandedly as he could manage.

"I know what you mean," answered Stuart seriously. "I miss watching you struggle to form coherent sentences when an educator asks you a question."

"Know-it-all."

"Deadbeat."

They made eye contact and smiled silently until Stuart said apologetically, "I have a meeting with the debate team right now, but here's my contact information." He took out a professional-looking wallet and produced a card from it, handing it to Shawn.

The brunet looked at it and saw a name, address, e-mail address, and telephone number. "You have your own business cards?" he asked in amused disbelief.

"Contact information," Stuart corrected brightly. "If you ever want help with your homework or someone to trade insults with, let me know and I'll endeavor to fit it into my schedule." He walked away briskly ere Shawn could reply, always needing to have the last word.

"Whatever." Shawn rolled his eyes, but pocketed the card carefully despite his apparent indifference. He couldn't help the grin on his face as he ambled to Cory's house.