Author: Kat Lee
Fandom: Girl/Boy Meets World
Character/Pairing: Cory/Topanga, mild Maya/Riley, Ensemble
Challenge/Prompt: tv_universe Boxes of Emotion (If you join, tell them Kat Lee of Team Bunny Ears sent YOU!)
Warning(s): Character Death, Future AU
Word Count: 1,023
Date Written: 19 February 2017
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to their rightful owners, not the author, and are used without permission. The poem belongs to Emily Dickinson.
"I never did understand what you saw in him! You could have done so much better for yourself and -- "
The slap resounds through the funeral parlor, causing all heads but one to snap to alert. Even the grieving mother pauses in her sorrow as every one stares at Topanga and the girl she just slapped. Topanga's quivering with her barely controlled fury, anger blazing through the tears in her beautiful eyes. Eric and Shawn both start forward, but before they can reach Topanga, two small hands reach out for hers.
"I think you should leave," the blonde girl on Topanga's left says.
The brunette on her right bobs her head in agreement, her own face streaked by tear stains. "Yeah." She feels Lucas' hand on her shoulder, but for once, Riley doesn't freeze up because he's around. She barely even registers his presence as she adds, "And don't talk about my dad like that."
Topanga's shaking her head, her grief and anger complicated by her realization that this former classmate of hers and Cory's simply doesn't understand and never did. "You don't understand what he was," she speaks hoarsely, "who he was. If you did, you'd never be able to say such things."
"She shouldn't be saying such things any way!" Shawn exclaims, coming between the two women. "You need to leave now."
Topanga surprises everybody again as she whispers, "In a minute, but first I want to tell you something and you better listen well." She glowers at the other woman. "I know everybody in school didn't understand our relationship."
"Your relationship was beautiful," Angela starts behind her.
But Topanga just continues, "You all thought I could do better, I should do better, but Cory was the absolute best there ever was. He was the sweetest, most romantic, gentlest man I ever knew."
Amy releases a whining sob that has both Alan and George reaching out to her. The oldest men in the room look torn for they are: They want to shut up the woman who dares to speak ill of their beloved Cory, but at the same time, they're loathe to leave Amy. Topanga is just starting though, and her words remind everybody in the room of exactly what kind of man Cory really was.
"It was almost like he was from a different generation other than ours. He was a gentleman. He -- "
"He cheated on you!" The woman lifts her chin in defiance, her own eyes blazing. "Yeah. You forgot all about that, didn't you?"
Maya and Riley gasp on either side of Topanga, but Topanga lifts her head. "No," she says, shaking her head, "I didn't. But just about every guy in this room has cheated or come close to cheating on somebody. Cory had one kiss with another girl. He didn't start it, and he was honest with me. That's more than most people can ever say about their husbands, let alone their boyfriends. Cory never hid from me. He never did anything to hurt me on purpose."
"He was," she repeats, "the sweetest, most romantic, gentlest, kindest man I ever knew and, I'd venture, any of us ever knew. I stayed with him and kept going back to him every time something tried to break us up because of the man he was. He was so sweet, kind, and cute that I always wondered what he was going to do next to make me laugh or smile. I always wanted more of him." She gasps, her eyes finally leaving their former classmate to go to her husband's casket.
Maya squeezes Topanga's hand. "Mister Matthews was a hero."
"He was not -- "
"Yes, my Dad was! He saved us!"
"He's the only reason," Maya adds quietly but insistently, "that we survived that shooting at school." Even Maya's eyes are full of the tears now.
The woman stammers. "You shouldn't be here," Eric tells her. He's never wanted to hit a woman so badly in his entire life!
But before he can do anything, or any one can say anything else, Shawn shares a nod with his former teacher and role model, Jonathan Turner. Working together, they pick up the woman, each lifting one side of her, and carry her out of the funeral home. They deposit her outside, and Jonathan shuts the door on her, pulling Shawn back with him. Left alone, Shawn finally breaks down, sobbing and crying in Jonathan's arms as Topanga blinks back in the room with Cory's casket.
"I'm always going to want more of him," she whispers, staring at the open casket. Maya and Riley squeeze her hands as her tears pick up speeds. "A lifetime wouldn't have been enough," she whispers. Riley moves to hug her mother.
Maya wraps her arms around them both. A lifetime wouldn't have been enough with Mister Matthews. She's going to miss his gentle love and his laugh. She's going to miss the teacher who challenged her to be better for herself and for his daughter, her dearest friend and oh so much more. She's going to miss the man who saved their lives, and she knows nothing will ever fill the hole he's leaving in all their lives.
Mister Feeny's gentle voice resounds in the almost physical, yet hollow, ache throughout the room.
"If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain:
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain."
Cory had not lived in vain, but he was gone from them now. He had always done everything he could to help them, finding more ways than anybody else to make them each smile. He had brought love and light into their lives at times they'd thought they would have none. Mister Feeny bows his old head and cries, his tears joining those shed by all the others in the room. Cory's widow was right: a lifetime would never have been enough. He's left them all wanting more of him, and so they shall while still life remains in their own bodies.