Author's Note: Wow, I cannot belive how long it took me to update this story. Thank you so much to all the supportive comments and messages that I recieved, you have no idea how much that helped me. I'm finally settled in and am more then happy to start writing again. I hope too many people didn't forget about this story, and I really hope that this chapter is satisfactory for everyone.
Diclaimer: I do not own Boy Meets World or the characters.
Shawn didn't want to see his parents again. He really, really didn't. However, he didn't want to go to a foster home either. Shawn knew that the best place for him right now was with John, but he couldn't see his parents again- not after everything they put him through. When Shawn told John what the social worker had said, John agreed with him whole-heartedly and made several phone calls to the social worker expressing his discomfort with this plan.
Cory was silent while Shawn bounced ideas off of him, trying to come up with a plan where he could go with John without having to see his parents. Most of his scheme's were crazy, but Cory let him vent, knowing that what Shawn really needed right now was a friend.
The social worker was supposed to come back in a few minuets and John could tell that Shawn was already working himself up before she had even stepped in the door. Shawn's fingers were tapping an anxious beat against his thigh and he was speaking to Cory so fast that John wondered if his IV was full of sugar today.
"Shawn, everything's going to be okay." John said, doing his best to be comforting, but really it was an empty promise. Shawn's eyes snapped onto John's and John almost flinched under the weight that he could see settled on Shawn.
"Really? How?" Shawn demanded, raising his eyebrows. John's mouth opened and closed a couple of times, before he finally sighed and looked away. The fact of the matter was, John didn't know that it was going to be okay. He didn't know if Shawn was going to end up with him or in a foster home, and he didn't know what would happen if Shawn decided to have that last meeting with his parents again. All he did know was that Shawn had no parents left that he could count on, and John wanted to be that person for him so desperately. John wanted to tell Shawn everything was going to be alright, mean it and make it happen.
"Cory, maybe you should go now." John suggested, glancing at the clock. Shawn had wanted Cory to stay when the social worker got back, but when John called Paige and asked she said that it would be inappropriate for Cory to stay. So they agreed that Cory could stay until the minuet she got there, and then come back the second she left.
"Yeah, okay." Cory stood up and nervously wiped his hands on his pants. He was nervous for his friend, probably more so then he had ever been. Cory didn't want Shawn to get hurt again, he had been through too much. "I'll be at home, so give me a call?" Cory requested and Shawn nodded sadly. He didn't want Cory to leave yet. Frankly, he didn't want Cory to leave at all. But there was nothing he could do about that so he watched with dismay as Cory left the room and sighed.
An uncomfortable silence settled over the two of them as they sat and waited. Shawn's eyes were glued to the door and his hands were wringing nervously in his lap. John was looking at the clock, then the door and then Shawn. He opened his mouth once, twice and looked as though he might say something but sighed and ended up staying silent.
A knock sounded at the door and Shawn flinched anxiously. John remained seated because he had already insisted he stay for this meeting and Paige had eventually agreed. Paige smiled as she walked into the room and nodded at John. John nodded back distractedly and kept his eyes trained on Shawn's face, waiting for a single sign of distress. Shawn's eyes had dropped to his hands which were now fidgeting with the bandages on his arms.
"Hey Shawn. How are you feeling?" Paige asked softly, takingt a seat opposite John. Shawn darted a glance at her before hurriedly looking away again.
"Fine." Shawn answered shyly, his voice soft and passive. John was suddenly overcame with the desire to scream. This wasn't his Shawn. His Shawn was never passive or anxious, and never spoke so fearfully. John wanted to literally kill Shawn's parents for doing this to him, for causing him so much pain. Worst of all, John didn't know how to help. He didn't know what could possibly be said or done to comfort Shawn after the ordeal he'd been through.
"That's good." Paige said, attempting to be cheerful. She raised her eyes away from Shawn to John's face, her eyes asking him silently how Shawn truly was. John's face was tired and covered with a combination of frown and worry lines from the long days he had spent sitting in the same chair, trying to comfort Shawn and be strong for him. The look on his face seemed to have been answer enough and Paige nodded solemly, as if having expected Shawn to not be doing well.
"So, Shawn... I have some news for you." Paige began hesitantly, pulling a piece of paper out of the briefcase that was resting at her feet.
"What is it?" Shawn asked immediately, his voice nervous. Responding to his sudden fear, his heart started thudding quickly and painfully in his chest. Shawn silently prayed that there hadn't been some mishap that caused his parents to be released from jail. Or worse, what if they escaped? What if Verna and Chet escaped from jail and were coming after him right now, coming to kill him?
John watched wearily as Shawn worked himself further and further into a panic. Shawn's eyes were wide with fear and his breath was coming in short gasps as he struggled to control the various nightmares running through his head.
"Shawn, I need you to calm down." Paige spoke clearly and loudly, her voice firm. John slowly laid his hand on top of Shawn's, cautious in case it made his condition worse, and was incredibly surprised when Shawn instantly wrapped his hand around John's in a nearly bone crushing grip. John rubbed his thumb back and forth across the back of Shawn's hand while Paige spoke soothingly about taking deep, calming breaths.
It took a couple of minuets, but Shawn was able to eventually get a hold of himself. His cheeks were flushed with a combination of embarassment and lack of oxygen. When Shawn finally realized that he was still holding John's hand in a death grip he attempted to pull away, but John held onto him tightly and continued rubbing soothing circles on the back of his hand.
"I'm sorry." Shawn spoke, his eyes trained on the wall. He hadn't meant to freak out like that- to show such humiliating weakness. He didn't need them thinking that he was some kind of mental case and locking him up. And Shawn certainly didn't want John to realize what a mistake he was and give up on him. Not now... now when Shawn needed him the most.
"No, it's alright Shawn. I'm sorry for upsetting you- I should have got right to the point." Paige said briskly, her look pitying and understanding. It didn't appear to make Shawn feel any better though and he just shrugged.
"So, what's the news?" John interrupted. He knew that Shawn was embarrassed, and while he wanted nothing more then to reassure him that he hadn't done anything wrong, right now John thought that the best thing for Shawn would be to find out what's going on.
"Well, I don't know if you know but, well, you have a brother." Paige said, plunging right into the news. She passed the paper over to Shawn, and on it was a picture with some information. The picture was of a man with brown hair and brown eyes, who resembled Shawn greatly. Shawn skimmed over the information, not really taking anything in. Paige must be wrong, Shawn thought, he didn't have a brother. He knew he didn't.
"Sorry lady, but you're wrong. I don't have a brother." Shawn passed the paper back to Paige, rolling his eyes in annoyance. She upset him over this? It's not as if Shawn didn't wish he had a brother, because he had wished that a thousand times, but he knew the difference between fantasies and reality. And the idea of him having a brother was a fantasy.
"Shawn, this man is Jack Hunter." Paige passed the picture back to Shawn and refused to accept it when he tried to hand it back. "His father is Chet Hunter- who also happens to be your father. He's 21, and our agency has contacted him to ask if he was interested in meeting you. Jack responded immediately that he would love to meet you, and agreed to fly over once we set a date. We didn't tell him anything about your situation yet." Paige laid out all the facts for Shawn without hesitation. She knew it was a lot of information, and she also knew that she would probably end up repeating most of what she just said at least half a dozen times, but Paige also knew that the quicker Shawn digested this information the better. This was his only shot to stay out of a foster home and avoid the meeting with his parents.
"Wait, why wasn't I informed about this?" John asked, his voice raised with anger. He was glaring at Paige now, his mind racing. If this Jack kid really is Shawn's brother, then would that mean that Shawn would move in with him? Would Shawn go away to whatever state Jack lived in? No, John immediately reassured himself, he wouldn't leave Cory, himself and the rest of the Matthews behind. Just then, another thought occurred to John: what if Jack didn't like Shawn, or vise versa? What if this just created more problems rather then solved them?
"Because, no matter how close you and Shawn are, you aren't family." Paige said bluntly. "Now, Shawn, I realize that you're going to need some time to think about this-" Paige began, but was interuptted.
"Why hasn't he tried to find me?" Shawn asked, his voice soft and vulnerable. He was staring at the picture as if looking into another world, a completely different reality. His face was pinched with hurt and Shawn's eyes were squinted as his eyes flickered back and forth over the paper, as if rereading every piece of information would help him understand something that couldn't possibly be understood.
"Shawn, we didn't ask anything like that. But I'm sure he has a good answer, and besides he agreed to meet you-"
"Only because he thinks I'm some charity case." Shawn said, his face twisting in disgust as his eyes zeroed in on Jack's rich-kid upbringing. "I can't do this."
"This is an important decision Shawn. If you choose not to meet Jack, then your only options are foster care, or talking to your parents." Paige said, standing up and snapping her briefcase closed. She was leaving the picture and information with Shawn. "Now, you have until tomorrow afternoon to make a decision about this."
Shawn shoved the picture face down on the bed beside him and crossed his arms over his chest, his lips pouting out stubbornly. He wasn't going to be someone's charity case, he wasn't! After everything Shawn had been through, he thought that he at the very least deserved to keep some of his dignity.
Paige seemed to be waiting for Shawn to say something and John ran a hand over his face in a rough gesture of anxiety. "We'll give you a call." He finally said when it became obvious that Shawn wasn't willing to say anything.
Paige nodded and said her goodbyes. As soon as the door closed behind her Shawn exploded, "Can you believe her? She just drops this bombshell and expected me to want to meet up with some spoiled rich-kid who doesn't give a damn about me!"
"You don't know that Shawn." John tried to be reasonable, but Shawn wasn't having any of it. He pushed himself away from John and shook his head.
"I do know that. If he wanted something to do with me before then he would have talked to me or tried to find me, but he didn't. I'm not going to let myself become someone's charity!" Shawn exclaimed, his face flushing with anger. He couldn't believe it, he couldn't take it all in. He had a brother, whom he never heard of before today, who grew up in a nice, privileged home, with two nice, loving parents and knew he existed but never tried to find him. And now Shawn was suddenly expected to believe that he wanted to meet up and chat? No way!
"Dammit Shawn! You need to really think about this!" John shouted, standing up so quickly that his chair was shoved back against the wall. Shawn's eyes widened. He had never been afraid of John before, he had never felt the need to, but there was a certain blaze in John's eyes that frightened Shawn just a little. "What are you going to do if you don't meet him? Huh, have you even thought about that?" John demanded.
"No." Shawn whispered. He had heard what Paige said, he knew what saying no to Jack meant, but he wasn't thinking about that. All he was thinking about was another family member that let him down- only this was different. Sure, Chet and Verna had turned really bad at the end- but they were good to him for thirteen long years. Jack knew about him his entire life and never found him. That was different.
"Well, you should. If you make a serious decision just because you're assuming something about Jack that may or may not be true then you'll regret it for the rest of your life." A dead silence settled over the small hospital room and John sighed. He ran a hand through his hair, said, "I'm gonna go get some coffee." And was out the door before Shawn even thought to protest.
Shawn sat there for several minuets, numb and unthinking. He couldn't process this, he didn't want to process this. Finally, Shawn made a decision and picked up the phone next to his bed and dialed. "Cory, can you come over. I need to talk to you?"