**A/N: Sorry this is really late guys, but I write my own books as well so I haven't really had time to keep up lately. If you're interested in my novels, I have a YA one up on Amazon called "Blue Car Racer" which is about the effects of bullying. Check it out if you want =)
Sorry again for the lack of updates, and I'll try to keep posting at least once (if not twice) a month from now on. I still have to plan out this story a bit better, lol. Hope you guys like it so far!**
Topanga had been watching Shawn for quite some time, but she was always cautious about how best to approach him. Ever since they were kids, it was always Cory and Shawn. Cory and Shawn, Cory and Shawn, Cory and Shawn. The two seemed made for each other, and rightly so. In her mind, there could never be anything that would every divide them. There had of course been times when she felt like she might come between, and in the earlier days of her dating Cory, she always did her best to restrain many of her pent-up emotions enough to allow the boys to do their own thing. Besides that, it was rather touching to watch.
Two best friends, just like in history. Greek and Roman especially, and it goes on even today. Girls rarely have friendships that close anymore.
But something had been troubling Shawn, and Topanga could see it in his eyes. She had been around him long enough to know when something was wrong, and lately he had this strange sort of disquieting gaze every so often, almost like he was lost. Anyone else would have thought so too with the way he sauntered lazily down the halls, but…it was like he was lost inside. And for whatever reason, Cory just wasn't seeing it. She thought that was especially weird, and this was the part that concerned her most of all. It was hard to decide whether to come right out and tell Cory, but if something was bothering him that much, Shawn usually did…but this seemed different somehow.
In the same respect, Topanga also felt strange about talking to him alone. Of course they were all great friends, it's just that it was different without Cory around. He wouldn't ever suspect she was cheating, but her and Shawn had never built up much of a friendship on their own without involving Cory in some way.
Maybe I'm just thinking too much, she thought. I was on a roll with that calculus test. And look at Shawn, parading his way down the hallways when we're around, yet as soon as you turn your back, he's looking all nervous. Sweaty palms, a flip of the hair, his mouth hangs open like he's gasping for air and can't get enough…
"Hey Shawn?" Topanga said, tapping him on the shoulder from behind as they made their way down the hall. He nearly jumped out of his shoes.
"Whoa! Hey Topanga," he grinned. Like a switch, he just turned on… "What's up?"
"Can I talk to you a minute?"
"Yeah, sure. Matter of fact, I think I need to sit down," he replied, sounding out of breath. They made their way over to a nearby bench and collapsed. "Whew…"
"Have you been feeling alright?" she asked.
"I dunno, just kind of stressed with midterms coming up, and it doesn't really help that I got detention with good ole' Feeny today-"
"What?" Topanga cut him off. "What happened this time?" Shawn rolled his eyes.
"Eh, I don't really know to be completely honest. There was some football guy, I saw him beating up on Minkus and giving him a really hard time so I clocked him one in the nose. Feeny was right behind me of course."
"Was he really?" she smirked, looking above them at the ledge of the staircase.
"I am now, Mr. Hunter," a voice said from behind. Of course.
"Mr. Fee-…how do you always do that?" Shawn grumbled, standing up.
"Oh don't mind me, I was just passing through," Feeny said innocently. "Detention's still at three o'clock by the way."
"Yes, I know that," Shawn sighed, not amused.
"That's not to say that your intentions were not noble, however in the future I would suggest you conduct yourself with a bit more tact, hmmm?" the principal smiled.
"But Feeny, he was just defending a smaller kid," Topanga argued. "And who knows how Minkus would have felt if he just stood there and watched? You don't always see what goes on behind the curtain. Haven't you told us that the only thing necessary for evil to win is if the good man does nothing?"
Feeny sighed. "Miss Lawrence…if I were to allow violence to flourish within the walls of my school, it would provide a poisonous environment for education. Now if a student has a problem, my hope is that they would feel comfortable enough to approach me before it escalates out of hand."
"Oh come on!" Shawn exclaimed. "That's not how it works in the real world."
"Mr. Hunter, as long as you are under this roof, there will be rules. Out in the real world, there are laws which govern the country. In each case, such limits are devised for your protection and the protection of others, so you needn't worry. The young man Mr. Scott whom you assaulted will be attending detention as well, so any protests about the fairness of this situation would hardly be logical. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm late for my lunch break."
With that, Feeny quickly maneuvered his way through the crowd of students before disappearing in the corridors beyond.
Shawn frowned and sunk back to the bench as Topanga again joined him. For several moments they both sat there, watching the crowds pass by as the clock ticked down the seconds for the bell to ring. And people continued shoving one another out of the way. In her mind, Topanga still struggled to find the words to ask him what was wrong, but nothing was materializing. If it did, nothing seemed fast enough. One sentence was constantly thrown out in favor of another, and it wasn't long before Shawn finally opened his mouth. Still, she wasn't ready.
"So…I kinda have to get to my next class. Was there anything else you wanted to ask me?" He was nervous of course. Was he really making it that obvious? Oh crap, if she's catching on, it's only a matter of time before Cory does…and how long was she watching me for, anyways? Why is she even so concerned? It's none of her business or Cory's. I won't even go to my next class, screw it. I'll run home and sleep or whatever.
"Uh…" Come on, think of something quick! Now! she screamed in her head. "Um, no, I was just kind of wondering how you were. You looked upset. I could be wrong," she said, stifling a laugh. "Maybe you were just in a daze or something, I mean I do that sometimes." There's no smart way out of this now, idiot.
"Uh, yeah!" Shawn laughed. "A daze, yeah, that…that was it. I just haven't gotten in trouble in a while though, ya know? I'm trying not to be the old Bad Boy Shawn anymore. I want girls to like me, good girls. Not the flaky kind, or the ones like Jennifer."
"Well you just have to be yourself," Topanga smiled. "You always seem confident."
That's because it's an act, Shawn wanted to say, but he found himself choking up again.
"Topanga…how do I put this," he breathed. "Have you ever not been sure of who you are? Like back in fifth grade, when you were all…you know…save-the-earth, 'nature girl'…and now, it's like you shed all that off because you've grown as a person."
"Huh," Topanga said. I never thought of that before. "I guess it's a lot like leaving one tree for another," she explained. "You see all the crazy things you used to do as a kid, and you kinda miss it…but you're still you, right?"
"I don't know, that's not really what I meant," Shawn sighed.
"So what did you mean?"
"N-Nothing," he stammered, suddenly getting up to leave. "I just…I have to go, okay?"
"Are you sure you'll be-"
"Don't!" he insisted. "Trust me…I have to get to my next class, be alone with my thoughts. Tell Cory I'll talk to him later, or I don't know, just…I won't be at lunch, so…"
"I will," Topanga said, worried.
"Right. Thanks," Shawn said, nervously running a hand through his hair before turning away and rushing down the hall.
Topanga only sat there shaking her head. She wasn't sure what to tell Cory, or if it was even a wise idea to tell him, but she was too worried about Shawn not to consider it. It almost seemed as though he didn't want his best friend to know something, but it was odd that he would try coming to her about it first. Girls have a calm presence, she reminded herself, but what sort of boy would willingly put himself in that position unless it was about something important? Even more strange…why would he stand up for Stewart Minkus, the boy him and Cory used to mercilessly pick on up until middle school?
Something about this clicked in an odd way, and a certain suspicion began to develop in Topanga's mind. She couldn't be completely sure of course unless she tested the theory, but seeing that Shawn was feeling lost and conflicted about himself, she had to wonder.
"Hey there, Mrs. Pookie Pie!" she suddenly heard a voice call behind her. It was Cory. Shawn can wait, she thought. Time to act normal again.
"Hey, Blubber Wubber!" she grinned, turning around to kiss him.
"Have you seen Shawn anywhere, babe?"
"Uh, no…he's usually out here, but I guess I missed him."
"That's weird. Ah well, you ready for Spanish class?"
"Si, mi amor," Topanga smiled, and the two proceeded to walk arm-in-arm down the hall, unaware that Shawn had been watching them closely from around the corner the entire time.
Why can't I have what she has? he thought, and sauntered away.