Shawn knew that Cory and Topanga never gave a thought to Minkus moving up a year as soon as they transitioned up to the high school. As nice as Topanga had been to him Shawn knew that both of them found him to be nothing more than an annoyance so the fact that his schedule would never coincide with theirs wasn't a big deal to them, but unexpectedly, Shawn found himself missing the little geek.
"Hey Minkus, how's the 8th grade?" Shawn asked, leaning casually against his locker.
Minkus looked around confusedly, as if it must be someone other than Shawn Hunter standing at his locker and then disregarding that theory stared at Shawn suspiciously. "You're talking to me?"
Shawn rolled his eyes, "I found myself in the area and thought hey I should say hi to my old buddy Minkus."
"I'm not going to set you up with 8th grade girls," Minkus stated. That had to be why he was there. Shawn let out a genuine laugh. "Like I need your help dorkus, like I said, just saying hi." He pushed himself off and gave Minkus a little wink and started walking away. "And now I'm saying bye. See you later Minkus."
"Uh, bye," Minkus said, staring as Shawn walked down the hall. "What the hell just happened there?" he asked himself finally getting around to opening his locker and staring again as he saw a letter in there.
I know this is insane and crazy and I shouldn't care, I don't care, but to hell with it. It's weird without you in class.
Short, weird, definitely Shawn Hunter although the lack of insults made him suspicious. Still, it was worthy of a reply.
What are you playing at Hunter?
Not playing, just saying
And that was it. Stuart Minkus got caught up with his life and Shawn Hunter with his and it was like that weird exchange never happened. Except the little notes that still found their way into each other's lockers. Except the fact that after about a month of leaving each other notes and never talking they finally decided to get together and hang out at Minkus' house. Except the fact that for some reason, despite the separate lives, they never managed to cut each other out completely.
Stuart Minkus lived a mundane life. A 14 year old high school sophomore he was the typical geek, but there was one thing that set him apart, not that anyone knew about it.
For the last two years he'd been secretly communicating with one of the most popular guys at their school, Shawn Hunter. It had been a shock moving from their mostly antagonistic elementary school relationship to having Shawn Hunter turn into one of his closest, albeit secret, friends. And really, the secret part just made it exciting, notes left in lockers, meeting in places where none of either of their friends went. He'd been suspicious at first, but eventually it fell into a comfortable routine.
He'd only asked once why Shawn wanted to keep it secret. "I don't want to share you with anyone," had been the reply. Stuart hadn't asked again.
But still, even after two years of friendship and another ten of knowing each other, it was a shock to see Shawn Hunter at his window visibly upset.
"He left," Shawn ranted, managing to forcefully convey his rage while keeping quiet so as not to wake up Stuart's parents. "He just took the trailor and left me with the freaking Matthew's like I'm so unwanted pet he can pick up and drop off whenever he wants." Shawn took a deep breath and then sunk down onto Stuart's bed. "They both left me," he mumbled.
Cory Matthews may be Shawn's best friend, but Stuart was the one who really knew all about Shawn's family problems and how Shawn felt about them. For some reason Shawn felt the need to keep up a happy cheery mask around Cory and completely downplay any affect his parent's had on him so while Cory knew certain events, it was Stuart Shawn went to when keeping the mask up just wasn't an answer anymore. But this, this was worse than anything that'd happened in the last couple of years so Stuart acted on impulse.
He sat down on the bed next to Shawn and wrapped his arms around Shawn. Shawn stiffened up for a moment and then melted into Stuart's hug, hugging back tightly. "Why don't they want me?" he asked and Stuart didn't have an answer for that.
Shawn woke up the next morning in a room he couldn't quite place until he saw the figure next to him. He'd been in Minkus' room tons of time but this was the first time he'd spent the night. And then the reasons for why came crashing back just as Minkus woke up.
"Are you feeling better?" he asked softly, putting a supporting hand on Shawn's shoulder.
"Not really," Shawn replied and then gave Minkus a small smile. "Thanks for letting me stay, and for, y'know, everything else." Letting him rant and rave and cry and have a breakdown in his bedroom. Letting him cling to him like a small child.
"It's not a problem," Minkus hesitated. "What are you going to do now?"
"I'm staying at the Matthews' I guess. I should go let them know I'm still alive and not in jail or anything."
Minkus nodded. "Probably a good idea." He watched as Shawn started leaving out the window and then added, "You know I don't mind you coming right?"
Shawn stopped and stared for a moment and then gave him a genuine Shawn Hunter smile and climbed back in. For the first time in years Shawn initiated a hug. "Yeah, I know. Thanks again…Stuart."
They both stopped letting the name hang in the air and then burst out laughing. "Ok that's weird," Shawn said and then leaned in and gave Minkus a quick kiss on the lips. "See you later Minkus."
It wasn't until he was half way to the Matthews' that he realized what he did.
Stuart couldn't stop thinking about the kiss. Not so much that it happened but at how…right it felt.
He didn't see much of Shawn over the next week what with the issues with living at the Matthews' and then moving in with Mr. Turner and he decided that this was not something to talk about in a note.
It's not like he minded gay people, he'd just…never thought of it for himself, had never been attracted to another guy, and even after he realized how much he didn't mind the kiss he still didn't find guys all that attractive, except one.
"Can you be gay for just one person?" Stuart asked as soon as he got Shawn alone and then he realized what he said. "I mean, hi, how are you, how's things with Mr. Turner?"
Shawn looked a little deer in the headlights and then focused on the second half. "They're ok, it's weird, I don't know all the rules and stuff so it's easier to just, I don't know, make my own? And umm if it is thenIthinkIam."
Stuart blinked and processed that last bit. "So are you saying…"
"I don't know what I'm saying. I mean I like girls, I have girlfriends, but I didn't even have think about, I mean I didn't think, I mean it was just-"
"Right," Stuart finished cutting him off.
They looked at each other and then shrugged simultaneously.
"Wanna try it again?" Shawn asked.
Stuart grinned, "Sure." And this time he initiated the kiss.
Bringing Minkus over to John's for the first time was weird. Minkus had never seen the trailer park, but John's place wasn't bad and they couldn't go to Minkus' all the time and going other places they ran the risk of running into someone they knew. Not that Shawn was ashamed of being friends with Minkus, he just…didn't want to explain it.
In the weeks since they'd first kissed they hadn't really done more than that. The more Shawn thought about it the more he came around to the idea that he didn't really care if the person he was with was a girl or a guy and while he still had a girlfriend, it was Minkus he looked forward to kissing more.
Shawn hesitated, he knew John wasn't going to be home for awhile and well, might as well get it out. "Do you want to…try something else?" Shawn asked as they took a break from the typical couch making out.
"Like what?" Minkus asked and Shawn couldn't help but roll his eyes at that. Minkus may be one of his best friends but the dork in him would never go away.
"Something involving a bit more than just our lips," Shawn said, flicking his eyes down then up checking out Minkus. He really wasn't bad looking once you got past the glasses. Not truly handsome, a bit too scrawny, but not bad at all.
"Wha-oh, ohhhhhhhh," Minkus said starting to look nervous. "I don't think I'm ready for-"
"Nonono," Shawn said quickly, he wasn't ready for that either. "Just…more."
Minkus bit his lip and then nodded, more could be good.
Stuart didn't want to tell Shawn he thought living with Mr. Turner was better for him than living with his dad. His grades were up, he was happier, he was safer, but he just didn't have the heart to say any of that when Shawn's dad came back.
Mr. Turner's apartment had become their unofficial experimentation spot and Mr. Turner himself had become the first person outside of the two of them who knew about their friendship although he didn't know about the deeper level of it. It had been nice having a place where they didn't have to hide but there was no way they could do that at the trailer park.
"Are you sure you want to do this?" Stuart asked, reluctant to bring it up but he couldn't bear not asking.
"Of course I do," Shawn said as he packed things up, "He's my dad."
"I know," Stuart said, "It's just…you've been so happy here. And what if he…leaves again or something."
"He won't," Shawn yelled. And then lowering his voice again, "He won't, he can't, I just…"
Shawn was getting visibly upset again and Stuart cursed himself for bringing it up. "Shh shh it's ok, I'm sorry I brought it up, I just…had to be sure." Stuart wrapped his arms around Shawn and hugged him close. "I just had to make sure you…thought about it."
"I couldn't take it if he left again," Shawn said softly. "You and John are the only reasons I got through it this time. What if he does?"
"He loves you, he's just…messed up."
"I know," Shawn curled into Stuart and they just stood there holding each other, hoping that this latest development wouldn't change too much.
Unfortunately that thought was in vain.
A simultaneous shout and gasp startled them out of their embrace and before anyone could react Mr. Hunter had violently grabbed Shawn and was dragging him away while yelling at Mr. Turner. "I leave for a few months and you turn my son queer? It's a damn good thing I came back when I did."
Stuart and Mr. Turner were both about to yell back but Shawn beat them to it.
"He didn't turn me queer and if you can't handle it maybe you just just leave."
Mr. Hunter didn't even miss a beat, he shoved Shawn away, spit on him, and left, leaving his son on the ground of Mr. Turner's apartment bruised and devastated.
Stuart and Mr. Turner stood there staring, frozen in shock. Stuart recovered first and rushed over to Shawn. "Shit, are you ok, I didn't mean for that to happen." He wrapped his arms around Shawn and Shawn didn't say anything. Just leaned into his embrace and looked at the floor.
Mr. Turner came up and knelt in front of Shawn. "So that was a change in plan." Shawn let out a short devastated laugh and then looked into Mr. Turner's eyes. Turner opened up his arms a little and Shawn launched himself into them like a little kid instead of the 15 year old boy he was.
"Shh, it's ok," Mr. Turner said soothingly. "You always have a place here." He looked at Stuart, "and it doesn't matter to me who you date."
"You're safe here," Stuart added, "And we'll always want you."