Title: "Secrets She'll Never Say"
Author: Pirate Turner
Summary: She touched her ear to the door, her heart pounding, and listened, for a moment, to the continued heavy breathing and panting. Her senses whirled. Why on Earth would Eric have snuck a girl into Feeny's classroom?!
Disclaimer: All recognizable characters, names, codenames, places, items, fandoms, titles, and etc. are always © & TM their respective owners, not the author, and are used without permission. Any and all original characters and everything else is © & TM the author and may not be reproduced in any way without the author's express, written permission. The author makes absolutely no profit off of this work of fan fiction, and no copyright infringement is intended.
Author's Note: 244. That's the number of stories that were sitting on my hard drive collecting dust because I lack the energy and time to take care of them as I once did. My betaing pattern has always been to write, then type up if written on paper, the story, read it aloud to my beloved Jack and our children, editing as I go, and then finally format and post. Sadly, this part is simply taking too much of my time and energy, and my beloved Jack and I have too little time together in person these days to be able to keep up with my stories. So what to do? Give up writing? I actually considered it for a while, tried to make excuses to myself other than the large number of stories collecting cyber dust on my computer, as to why I lacked the energy and Muse to write new tales. And then, with the turn of the new year, I decided to stop running and face the problem. The problem is, quite frankly, that once one gets so bogged down in formatting and editing that writing is no longer a pleasure but the actual posting of those writings becomes a hassle and - egad! - work, it's time to cut something out, and that will never be the writing process. So, in short, yes, there will be mistakes in this tale. Yes, it's missing about half of the header information I usually include. But I wrote it for pleasure and am posting it in hopes of sharing that pleasure with others. Do with it as you will.
Topanga's cheeks burned as she stalked through the school hallways where she usually held her pretty head so proud. Over the last few days, her shoulders and blonde head had began to drop as more and more of the students had whispered about her when she'd gone by. She was accustomed to others talking about her. There was always a tongue willing to wag about a girl who made good grades and kept herself clean, never doing a thing wrong. It was as though the more well behaved one was, the more the general public thought that she must be hiding something.
Topanga sniffed haughtily. She had never done anything in her entire life which she'd felt the need to hide! She was a good girl, and that was something of which to be proud. She supposed in that, however, was her problem. People had grown so accustomed to her almost Angelic behavior and not being able to find her doing something even slightly naughty that now that they had something, they were like a starving pack of dogs with a bone.
Topanga sighed. She was tired of being that bone, and no one was helping. Cordy didn't understand what all the fuss was about no more than she did and, in fact, even less so. He continued to try to kiss her in the same way every time their lips met, so she had started giving him swift pecks and then pulling away and presenting him with her cheek instead. She knew it upset him, but she couldn't kiss him again now like she had before, not with practically her whole world expecting her to make another mistake.
Tears brimmed in Topanga's eyes as the cheerleading squad came by. She ducked into the girls' bathroom. It wasn't really a mistake, she argued with her own previous thought. Sharing that French kiss with Cory had been the most amazing kiss of her life, and Cory was her boyfriend! Still, there were certain perceptions that went to girls who French kissed, like they were easy and wild, that had she been aware of them at the time, would have kept her from ever trying a French kiss with her beloved Cory until they were well and married.
But she had kissed him, and she'd been dealing with the repercussions ever since. She'd gone to her few friends for advice. They'd laughed and teased her about it before she'd almost broken down and cried. Only then had they stopped their teasing and assured her instead that it would blow over.
She'd not dared to speak a word about it to her own mother but had finally asked Mrs. Matthews for advice. That had been a mistake in and of itself for though she had tried to reassure Topanga that it didn't matter what others thought and, like her friends, that it would blow over as soon as the next gossip-worthy news hit their school, she had been looking at her differently ever since. Topanga knew she was no longer the good, straight-laced, straight-A student, and golden girl whom Cory's mother had hoped would marry her son one day. She was now, instead, simply the girl who had dared to French kiss Mrs. Matthews' baby boy.
Eric had been excited when he'd heard. She'd seen Cory's dad congratulating him. All of that had just added to her shame.
Finally, in desperation, she'd asked the wisest person she knew what she should do. It was the first time in years that she'd turned to her teacher for help, but she needed help of which he had proved to be none. It was his so-called advice that now made her cheeks burn all over again.
The old fool had advised her to take the gossip in stride and tried telling her of countries where women would have been put to death for doing the same or less! He'd told her she should be proud to live in America because here she was free to love who she chose and how she chose. Topanga growled her frustration. The democracy didn't stop people from making fun of her or developing preconceived notions about the first girl in their class to be caught French kissing in public! It didn't help her in this matter at all!
Tears started to again run down Topanga's trembling cheeks. Nobody was helping her, and she needed help! It was Mister Feeny's job to be there to help her! She calmed suddenly, her mind made up. She wiped away her tears yet again, squared her shoulders, and turned around. She was going back to that classroom! She was going to corner Mister Feeny, and this time, she was going to get a real answer!
She marched purposefully back to her classroom only to find the door locked. Topanga pouted, stomped her foot, and turned away. She stopped when she heard a noise from the other side of the door. She whirled around, and her eyes widened at the distinctive sound of Eric's call of "Fuh-eee-ney!" coming through the locked classroom door.
Her blue eyes widened even more at the sounds that followed. She pressed closer to the door but heard nothing else. She touched her ear to the door, her heart pounding, and listened, for a moment, to the continued heavy breathing and panting. Her senses whirled. Why on Earth would Eric have snuck a girl into Feeny's classroom?!
Against her better judgement, but unable to quell her curiosity otherwise, Topanga leaned up onto the tips of her toes and looked into the small mirror on the door. She shrieked before she could stop herself, then fell and slumped against the door. Both hands covered her panicked mouth. She heard hurried footsteps and took off running, never realizing she was leaving her purse behind.
Topanga had already completely cleared the hallway and was leaving the school behind when Mr. Feeny opened the door. He picked up her purse with a deep, troubled frown. "Oh, dear."
"Fuh-eee-ney!" Eric called again, wrapping his young and eager arms around him from behind.
"Not now," George snapped, his mustache bristling. He turned to face him, still clearly troubled. He sighed when he saw Eric's pout and perfected puppy dog expression. "Do you not realize what this means?" he inquired.
Eric blinked and looked again at his lover and Topanga's purse. "We might have found some moolah?" he asked brightly. George rolled his eyes in exasperation and covered his eyes and forehead with a tired and wrinkled hand. "It clashes with your outfit, you know," Eric continued. "What?" he asked in surprise when Feeny released a miserable moan. "You can't tell me you thought that went together!"
"Eric, my dear," George said, lowering his hand and looking forlornly at him, "this is no time to let your juvenilistic mind reign. Young Miss Lawrence knows our secret, and by the time we can find her, your family, if not the entire student body or perhaps even the whole town, will know as well!"
Eric's smile vanished. "Oh, shit!"
George sighed; his furrowed frown deepened. "Perhaps not as eloquently as it could be said, but my sentiments are certainly the same."
"Eloquent schmeloquent," Eric snorted. "'Oh, shit!' says it all!" He hugged him tightly. "But they're not taking you away from me, no matter what!"
George returned his sweet, beloved Eric's hugs. He wished he could promise him that no power on Earth could move them apart. Eric was a man of his own mind now, but regardless of rather he was at the tender age of nineteen or a more mature, if such were even possible with his darling boy, forty nine, his family would never see it that way and, George had no doubt, would stop at nothing to part them and free Eric of what they would conceive to be his wicked, delusional, and filthy "old man" clutches.
He hugged Eric tightly, wishing he could hold him forever, praying he'd get to hold and cherished him again, and knowing he had to let go of him so they could find Topanga and perhaps, somehow, if they were blessed and incredibly lucky, stop the blonde's big mouth before it was too late.
Topanga had started to run straight to the Matthews, but something had stopped her. That something was in her heart, but she couldn't quite understand it yet. She went to Chubby's instead, ordered her a milkshake, sipped it slowly in her and Cory's booth, and let herself think. She thought of how she had known Eric and Mister Feeny for almost her whole life.
Mr. Feeny had always been a wonderful teacher and good friend. He truly cared about his students and was as wise as some one with his years should be. Eric was just the opposite when it came to brains, but he was loyal. Loyal and stupid, she thought with a snort and a half, twisted smile, like a dog. Still, they were both good friends, and she didn't want to see them hurt.
Her fellow students had been whispering about her ever since she'd entered the restaurant alone. She'd actually succeeded in ignoring them in favor of the other thoughts running through her mind, however, until their voices picked up. Topanga glanced up and saw Cory coming her way. He slid into the seat opposite hers and gifted her with one of his shy smiles like the ones that had first helped to endear him to her. "Hey."
"Hey." She managed a small smile and then looked back down to her shake.
She looked up again when he took her hand in his. He rubbed his thumb gently over the backs of her closed fingers. "About that kiss," he started slowly, and she blushed and snuck a look around them. He squeezed her hand, bringing her nervous eyes back to him. "It was amazing," he said, and she had to smile a little with acknowledgement of the truth of his words.
"But if you don't want to do it again because of what others say, I understand." He glanced at their classmates who were even then watching them. "But they really shouldn't have anything to say. Just because you kiss like that doesn't mean you're that kind of girl." He laughed, but his smile was harmless. "I know that better than any one else."
Her smile was slowly growing as she gazed up into his eyes again. "You should, shouldn't you?" she asked, feeling a little coy. She couldn't stop another blush from highlighting her cheeks, but she knew she was safe with him.
He grinned. "You bet." But then, he grew serious again, more serious than she'd ever seen him. "They're wrong, and it makes me so angry when they talk about you like that. You're a wonderful girl, Topanga, smart, beautiful, funny, honest, and good, better than any of the rest of us will ever be, and if they can't see that, if they refuse to know that because you trust me and yourself and us and are confident enough to kiss me like that - even if I do just get lucky enough to have you kiss me like that one time in my life -, then they're idiots." He let out a long breath.
His dark eyes shone with the truth of his words, and Topanga's heart was moved. "Wow!" She giggled and smiled, and then she leaned across the table, with every one in Chubby's looking, and kissed her boyfriend again. As she did so, all of Feeny's words came rushing back to her, and she finally understood his advice.
She should take the gossip in stride, because it didn't matter. People looking at her and thinking of her in certain ways didn't make her the kind of girl they thought she was. Kissing her boyfriend, feeling his tongue slide against hers, didn't lessen what a good person she was. She was all of the things Cory had said she was. She was smart, kind, honest, beautiful, good, and, she supposed, even funny at certain times. There was nothing wrong with kissing the man she loved.
But kissing the man she loved could have gotten her killed in certain other countries. There were places where she would be killed for kissing a man without being married to him, places where she would be stoned for acting on impure thoughts, even if sex was still not a part of the so-called bargain and would never be a part of her life until she was married. For that matter, there were places where just showing her hair would get her stoned.
There were closed, tiny, and prejudiced minds all over the world, but here in the United States, at least those minds couldn't get an innocent person killed. Their tongues could wag. Their eyes could roll and stare with disdain and even hatred. They could think what they wanted and say what they chose. But they couldn't pick up a rock to pelt her to death. They couldn't sentence her to hanging or drowning. The old adage was true: Sticks and stones may break bones, but words could not hurt, not unless she chose to let them.
And with as much trouble as she faced for loving the man she chose, Mister Feeny faced even more. Words couldn't kill him, either, but they could cause him a lot of grief. They could take his job from him. She'd never known a better, kinder, or wiser teacher than Mister Feeny. His advice might not always sound reasonable when it was given, but in the end, and in the truth of the matter, she'd found it to always be what she needed, or what Cory needed, or what Shawn needed. He had always been there for them, and never really expected a thing in return except for them to listen to and learn from him and become better people.
A tear rolled down her face as she thought of how everybody would turn from him if they knew that he and Eric were in love, and they had to be in love, she thought. Mister Feeny wouldn't make out with just anybody. He was smart like her. He didn't lay on his heart on the line unless it was filled with love, and he didn't give it to somebody he didn't trust. She might not ever understand how anything about Eric could appeal to him, except perhaps for the older boy's loyalty, but she knew he loved him, just like she loved Cory.
Like her, too, he didn't deserve to have tongues wag about him. He was a good person, one of the best men she'd ever known, and it would not be right to let others look upon him with such disdain, prejudice, and, yes, definitely hatred as they would if they knew he loved a man who wasn't even half his age. They would hate him. They would take his job from him. They would tear apart the love he shared with Eric. They didn't deserve any of that.
Another tear fell down Topanga's face, and this time, Cory caught it. He pulled away and looked at her, his own eyes shining with deep concern as hers continued to mist over. "Topanga?" he asked, and then he called her something he so rarely did, "Sweetheart?"
She did have a sweet heart, a heart full of love and acceptance. She accepted Mister Feeny and Eric for who they were and who they loved, and she would protect them, she knew now. That's why she hadn't ran off to find Cory and his family and tell them of what she had seen. That was why, too, that she would never tell him of the love she'd witnessed. It was Eric's and Mister Feeny's to speak of if they ever chose, and she would never say a word about it unless they did first.
She was a good person, and she was going to say that way no matter what the rest of the world thought about her. She was going to stay good and humble and sweet, and sharing a romantic and passionate kiss with the young man of her heart wouldn't take any of that away. It would make more tongues wag, but at least, if those tiny, prejudiced minds to which those wagging tongues belonged were thinking about her, if their accusing eyes were gawking at her, if their mouths were talking about her, they couldn't be talking or looking or thinking about others, others who would be less fortunate than her if their secrets were revealed and would lose everything they most cherished in life just because they loved the ones to whom their hearts belonged.
She shook her head. "I'm okay," she whispered against Cory's lips. Her eyes searched his, and then, she told him, long enough for all those quiet people in Chubby's who were watching them to hear, "I love you, and I don't care what they think." She raised her hands and cupped his handsome face in her loving hands, and then again, before everybody there, she kissed him. Only this time, she took her time, and she let her body do what it wanted, knowing full and well that everybody was watching, that she was safe with Cory, and that she was in control and would never let things go as far as to ruining her virginity until she was ready and had his ring on her finger.
Cory almost jumped out of his seat in elated surprise when Topanga's tongue slipped pass his lips. Her tongue touched his gently, gingerly, almost as if she still wasn't quite sure, but then her tongue ran more boldly against his. He couldn't help the moan that left him; he felt her grin against his mouth at the sound that gave away his body's reaction. He was floored and reminded again of how completely hers he would always be when she kept the initiative and deepened their kiss even more, wrapping her tongue slowly around his and thrusting.
A distinguished voice cleared, and Cory and Topanga snatched apart before they could even give thought to their actions. Both blushed underneath George Feeny's imperial gaze. "Miss Lawrence," Mister Feeny spoke, looking sternly down at Topanga and holding out her purse, "I believe you left something behind at my classroom."
Topanga's flesh was pure red from the brightness of her blush. She grasped her purse's strap, and her fingers hesitated, for a moment, beside his as she looked up into his eyes. "I did," she admitted, swallowing her embarrassment.
His old eyes were full of questions. Had she told any one? Would she tell any one? Would she destroy his life? Would she reveal his secret so that others would come in and take Eric away from him, take his teaching job away from him, take him away from them?
She shook her head as Cory watched the interaction with intrigue. She smiled brightly up at her favorite teacher. "Thank you," she said, "for that, hum, advice earlier."
"Any time," he said, beginning to feel a twinge of relief but not yet trusting in it. "Is there anything else I can do for you today, Miss Lawrence?"
"No." She blushed again and stole a sideways glance at Cory. "No, not today, but I'll be more careful the, hum, next time I drop in and not just blurt in over your, hum, conversation."
He lifted a single brow, but neither of them was about to speak clearly of what had happened that day. They looked away and to the other person on both their minds as Eric called, "Hey, Fuh-eee-ney!"
He strode boldly forward, and Topanga smiled at him. "Everything cool, dude?" Eric asked. "Whatcha doing here at Chubby's? Ya getting a burger? Can I have some fries?"
Topanga looked at Cory, and they both smiled at Eric's typical, exuberant behavior. Then, on a sudden whim and still following her heart and trying to get a message through to them without speaking it aloud, Topanga reached into her purse and removed a few bills. "Here," she said, handing them to Eric. "Go buy you some French fires, and get Mister Feeny something to drink."
"Hey, cool! But I don't owe ya, 'cause I didn't ask you!"
"No, Eric," Topanga said, laughing with her blue eyes shining, "you don't owe me anything." She glanced again at Mister Feeny, trying her best to tell him silently with her gaze that he also did not owe her anything.
He beamed at her, and she reveled, as she always had, in her teacher's pride and gratitude. "Thank you, Miss Lawrence. I will make certain he spends them wisely." He snatched the bills from Eric's hand.
"Hey!" Eric protested and proceeded to follow Mr. Feeny as he made his way to the line, holding the money high so that Eric could see it and follow it like a dog following dinner as Topanga had thought of him earlier.
"Why'd you do that?" Cory asked.
"Why do you think?" she asked, grinning at him. Then, she continued before he could answer, letting him think that she was giving him an answer while knowing she'd never give him the answer to that particular question, "We need some alone time." She leaned across the table and kissed him again, blowing Cory's mind, taking all the questions from it, making more people, and letting them talk for, from that day forward, Topanga realized, accepted, and was glad that, as long as they were talking about her, they weren't being cruel to others whom they would hurt even more if only they knew the secrets she'd never say.