Tony pulls into the driveway of Pepper’s and Morgan’s new place and parks. A few feet in front of him was an open moving truck. There are quite a few boxes left inside ranging from disassembled furniture or boxes marked with sharpie. The closest one he could read said ‘MORGAN’S STUFF.’
He unbuckles his seatbelt, shuts off the car, and gets out. As he’s locking the car, he hears a door in the neighborhood open up. He looks over to the house and sees Morgan rambling on the phone to someone while she walks out to the moving van. She abruptly stops talking and is grinning from ear to ear.
“No, yeah. That’s fine. Great, honestly. Would tomorrow work?” she asks.
There’s a pause.
“Okay,” Morgan says. “Awesome! Bye, Sof.” She hangs up and puts her phone in her pocket. She gets in the truck and grabs the box with her name on it.
Tony walks over to the van and greets by saying, “Hey, kiddo. Anything I can do to help?”
She shrieks. “How much of that did you hear?!”
“Only that you made plans with Sofia,” Tony says. “What’s that about, eh? Does she like you too?”
A blush creeps on her cheeks. “She does. We’ve been dating for just over a month now.”
“And you didn’t tell me until now?”
“Mom didn’t know until after Sofia and I had our first date, so…”
“Relax, I’m just teasing you,” he assures. “That’s really great, kid. I’m glad you’re happy.”
Morgan beams. “Me too.” She points haphazardly around the truck. “You can take any of those boxes with writing on them… they’re not all that heavy. We’re still waiting on one of Mom’s work friends to drop by the box cart thing for the furniture.”
“Gotcha,” he nods before picking up another cardboard box as Morgan hops down from the truck. “Where’d you and Sofia go? On your first date.”
Morgan freezes, glancing toward the front door of the house and then back at him. “Movie… then we had dinner. Burgers and milkshakes.”
Tony blinks. “I, um… that’s what your mom and I did… just ice cream rather than the shakes. Wow.”
“Mom told me about your first date,” Morgan says.
He nods. “God, I don’t understand how it’s been that long. Eighteen years?”
Morgan weakly smiles. “Time goes by fast.”
“Unfortunately,” he sighs as he stands on the driveway. “Did she tell you about how I had to get one of my friends to drive us?”
“No? But weren’t you old enough to drive yourself?” Morgan asks. “Y’all were sixteen.”
“Yes,” Tony answers. “But my Dad paid a security guard to keep an eye on your Mom and I when he got suspicious of our relationship… even before me and her started dating. We had to make it seem like it wasn’t just us going out in case he saw us.”
Morgan grimaces. “Wow.”
The father and daughter walk to the front door and go inside.
Pepper’s on the phone with the people they rented the moving van from in the middle of the living room. “My friend won’t get here until after five—“
“Where do you want me to put this?” Tony asks Morgan.
Morgan looks at the box and says, “It’s all pictures. So I guess leave it in the living room for now.”
“Okay,” he says before carefully setting down the box on the floor out of foot traffic’s way.
Tony walks downstairs after setting up Morgan’s bed to find Pepper and Morgan putting up pictures around the house from the box he had brought in however many hours prior.
“Aw, remember this one?” Morgan asks, picking up and showing her mother a four by six frame.
“Alicia’s wedding,” Pepper says quietly, taking it from her daughter.
Tony stepped a little closer to see. It was of Pepper and a young Morgan dancing. If he were to guess, Morgan was probably seven or eight there.
Pepper stands up and sits it on top of the sideboard with the other smaller photos. Pepper looks over at Tony and there’s a fond looking expression on her face. “You can come over here and look at them with us if you’d like.”
“Oh, um. Yeah, alright,” he mumbles before following Pepper to where she was originally sat.
Pepper pulls out another four by six frame and Morgan immediately goes “oh, God, please no,” when she sees it. It’s a photo of an even younger Morgan in a Minnie Mouse themed dance costume standing on the porch of their old house. She has lacey socks underneath her pink ballet slippers. She was holding a tiny bouquet of flowers.
“Why do you hate this picture?” Tony inquires. “You look really happy.”
“I was four,” Morgan says. “Extremely loud and happy. I annoyed everyone.”
She was so little. Four years old. God, this hurts. I should’ve been there.
“I’m sure you didn’t annoy everyone,” Tony says, shaking his head.
“Do we have to keep it?” Morgan whines, ignoring his comment.
“Yes,” Pepper answers. “You’re cute and it’s been on my bedside table since I got a print of it. Nothing’s changing.”
Morgan grumbles as Pepper sets it aside.
Morgan pulls out a five by seven photo of herself and her mother. Morgan’s holding a certificate that Tony can barely tell says, ‘this certifies that Morgan Hope Potts is awarded this certificate for the eighth grade graduation at JWMS on June 3rd, 2017’. Pepper stood next to her daughter with her arm wrapped around Morgan’s shoulder with a pleasant smile. Pepper was wearing a black dress. It reminded him of the dress she wore at their high school graduation.
“Do you want this in your room or do you want to keep it out here?” Pepper inquires.
“Out here is fine,” Morgan says with a nod.
They go through a few more frames until Morgan says, “Dad, do you want this one?”
Tony blinks. It’s a baby photo of Morgan that she’s showing him. She’s sitting up on a blanket in a pink and white striped onesie that has a pacifier attached with a ribbon and is hugging onto a Bedtime Bear plush from Care Bears. “How old were you in this?”
“Ten months,” Pepper recalls.
“Wow. Are you sure you want me to have it?”
Both girls nod. “We’ve got tons of duplicates of this one. If you want this one you can have it,” Pepper says.
Morgan’s stomach grumbles.
“What do you want to eat, kid?” Pepper asks.
“I thought we decided on pizza,” Morgan answers.
“We did, I was just checking,” Pepper says with a nod.
Tony watched her look out the window in an attempt to spot her car, before she looked back at him and Morgan. “My car’s blocked by the moving van and your car…”
“I can get the pizza if you want,” Tony offers.
“Would you? That would be so great,” Pepper asks.
Tony nods. “Just tell me what to get and where to find it.”
Pepper thinks for a moment before standing up. “Our orders are a little complicated. I’ll write it down for you.”
“I’m sure they cannot be that complicated that you can’t just text me,” Tony questions.
“Oh, believe me, you’ll want it written out in ink,” Morgan disagrees.
Tony raises a brow before looking over at Pepper, who was writing down stuff on a post-it note. He squints when he sees the utensil she’s scribbling with. A Pop-A-Point pencil. Like the ones she used in high school.
“Wait, Pep, you still use those?” he asks fondly.
“This one’s actually Morgan’s,” Pepper says as she continues to write. “But yeah… sometimes. I have a few in my office. Some habits just don’t die, I suppose.”
I remember when she used to leave them in my dorm after sneaking in to hang out with me. How has it been that long ago?
His thoughts are interrupted when Pepper hands him the post-it and her thumb accidentally grazes his hand when she does. He hated to admit it, but he wished it wasn’t an accident.
“Alessandro’s is right across the street from the middle school. If you can’t find it, call me and I’ll try to help the best I can. Thank you for offering to get it for us. I’ll pay you back later,” she says.
“Um, o-of course,” he confirms.
When he comes back with the pizzas, he finds an entire stash of their family photos set aside for him with a purple post-it note in front of it that says, ‘Dad’ in sharpie in Morgan’s handwriting.
He ate dinner with them before returning back home for the evening.