Morgan walks into her Dad’s classroom where he was jotting down the assignment for the day for his fifth class of the day on the whiteboard.
“Hey, can I hang out here for break? I forgot I had homework due in my fifth period and it’s as if everywhere I go isn’t quiet today for some reason,” Morgan greets.
Tony puts the cap back on the black expo marker and looks at her. “Sure. How bad is it, what class? Maybe I could help.”
“APUSH… and it’s just two short answer questions,” Morgan answers as she sits her things down next to the desk where she took a seat at.
“Ah,” Tony says. “Good luck. Hope you don’t mind the squeaking… I have to finish writing out stuff for my physics classes.”
Morgan shrugs. She pulls out her history homework and skims over the already read fifty-thousand-times prompt.
She’s halfway done with her second prompt when her mechanical pencil runs out of lead. Morgan picks up her pencil pouch from her open backpack and curses under her breath when she sees that there’s only two other pencils in there and they’re both out of lead, too. No lead refill cartridges as well.
Morgan looks up to see her Dad scrolling on his personal laptop and says, “I kinda just ran out of pencil lead. Do you by chance have some?”
He frowns. “Not exactly pencil lead… I actually need to go buy more cartridges. But I’ve got a stash of pencils up here. Want me to bring one of ‘em over?”
He picks up a pencil from his desk drawer and walks it over to where Morgan sat. He hands her the colorful pencil.
“Thanks,” she says before looking back at her work.
It’s 11:20 when there’s running down the hallway that abruptly stops.
“Mr. Carbonell, my homework,” the voice says.
Morgan looks up and sees Alissa standing at the doorframe of his classroom with a piece of paper in hand.
“Huh?” Tony asks, looking up from his computer.
“I forgot my homework in my dorm when I left this morning,” she states.
“Oh, um… go sit it in the right box and I won’t mark it incomplete. If it happens again, I might have to dock some points,” he says.
“Thank you so much!” Alissa exclaims as she walks to the back of the room to turn in her homework.
“Hey Alissa,” Morgan greets. “You hanging with me and Sof at lunch?”
“Probably,” she confirms as she sets her homework in the box.
When Alissa is about to walk out of the room, Tony calls out, “I hope you have a good break, Miss Hartley-Medina.”
“You too!” she says just before exiting.
There’s a knock on the door. Morgan abandons her workspace at the kitchen table and goes to inspect. Upon looking through the peephole of the front door, her Mother has returned from work with food in hand for dinner.
Morgan unlocks the door and opens it for her mother. “Hi Mom.”
“Hey, sweetheart,” she greets. “Thank you for getting the door for me.”
Morgan smiles. “Of course. How was your day?”
“My day was great, thank you for asking. What about you? How’d that quiz in biology go?” Pepper walks over and sets the bags of food on the counter in the kitchen.
“It went okay,” Morgan answers, following her Mom into their kitchen. “Well, the bio quiz did. I hope anyway. Mr. Banner grades kinda tough, though, so... But my day was good. I spent some time with Dad during break today because I needed a quiet place to finish homework for APUSH.”
“Still passing biology?” Pepper inquires.
“I’ve got an A minus,” Morgan shrugs.
“Hey, an A minus is still pretty good,” the redhead encourages. She pulls out her dinner from one of the bags and brings it over to the kitchen table. Pepper glances at Morgan’s things and Morgan swears her mother has a look of confusion clouding her face.
“Yes, but an A minus can turn into ‘B’s and ‘C’s and MIT doesn’t like ‘B’s and ‘C’s,”
“You’ll get through this year with all ‘A’s, I know you can,” Pepper enthuses.
“Yeah, okay…” Morgan quickly grabs her dinner from the bag and brings it to the table. “Sorry, I was rewriting my notes for English…” She picks her notebooks and the pencil up and is about to move them to the counter when—
“Where’d you get that?”
Morgan blinks. “Where’d I get what?”
Pepper points. “The pencil.”
“Uh… Dad gave it to me,” Morgan says with a shrug. “I ran out of lead and he gave me one so I could finish my APUSH homework. Why?”
“Can I see it?”
Morgan raises a brow. “Why?”
“Will you just let me see it?”
“Uh… fine,” Morgan agrees, handing the pencil to her Mother. She takes her notebooks to the living room and lays them on the coffee table. She turns back around and walks into the kitchen.
Pepper’s staring dumbfounded at the pencil.
“This was mine. From high school,” Pepper mumbles.
“Yeah. I wrote on every single one of mine with my name with Sharpie,” she recalls. “V Potts. The ink is almost gone, but it’s there.”
“Woah. How would he have it?” “
“I must’ve accidentally left it in his dorm or something when we were… you know, together. I never gave him my pencils on purpose, ” she says. “Wow. Can’t believe he decided to keep them all this time.”
Tony walks across the walkway to Pepper’s and Morgan’s home. He takes a deep breath before ringing the doorbell.
The door swings open a moment later, unveiling Pepper standing in front of him.
“Hi, Tony,” she says. “Morgan’s just getting her stuff ready to go. She’ll be out in a minute.”
“Hi,” he says.
“I actually kinda want to ask you something,” Pepper states. “Come in.”
She does? She wants to ask me something? About what? He walks inside and says, “Shoot.”
She pulls out a pencil from her pocket. “Explain.”
Tony blinks. “Explain what?”
“V Potts written in faint Sharpie on the end,” Pepper says. “...on the pencil you gave Morgan on Friday. In my handwriting from when I was sixteen. Did you steal them from me or something when we were kids?”
“No?” Tony asks. “I never once stole your pencils. You always left them in my dorm by accident. Not my fault.”
“And I guess that particular one made it through many, many years… accidentally made it in my moving boxes to Silicon Valley and purposefully made it back with me here...” Tony continues. “A requirement for my job is to have a plethora of pencils for kids that don’t have any and I give those to kids I know will give them back to me. But Morgan can keep that one if she wants.”
Pepper snickers. “Wow. Somewhat of an invisible string, huh?”
“Isn’t that all life is, though? All little moments that intertwine and sometimes they cross over again?”
She nods, a small smile appears on her lips.
Before Tony can realize what he’s thinking, he says, “Mo’s got a date with Sofia on Saturday night… Would you maybe like to go to dinner with me? Catch up? Like… for real?”
“Are you asking me out on a date?”
Tony blinks. Shit. Did I actually do that? Oh my God. “I, uh… I guess so?”
“You guess so?” Pepper yelps.
“Sometimes I speak before I think. Did I?”
“I sure think you did…” she mumbles.
“Do you want it to be a date?” he inquires.
“I don’t know.”
“It doesn’t have to be a date… I just thought that since we’re co-parenting our child we should at least get to know each other a little better again,” he says, trying not to show the frown he was fighting back. Please say yes… please.
“I think I could do dinner on Saturday,” Pepper answers.
“I’ll, um… I’ll text you.” Tony beams.
She returns the smile. She looks up at the stairs and calls, “Hey, Goona! You almost ready to go? Your Dad’s been here for like five minutes!”
The sound of a door opening sounds. “Almost! Sorry!”