Two more days.
Two more days and I'll be home.
It'd been a rough week for Angela. Monday started off with a small kitchen fire having forgotten to turn the stove off and leaving a dishtowel too close to the burner. If not for Tony's quick reflexes it could have been a disaster. The rest of her morning was dedicated to airing out the apartment and cleaning up. She hadn't had five minutes to rest when Rosie came over for lunch. Plans had completely slipped Angela's mind, forcing her to admit she wasn't prepared and was in little mood to prepare anything that required heat.
"You and stovetops," Rosie said, mildly amused.
It was a better response than Tony's reprimand, but she wasn't ready to joke about it yet.
Tuesday was no better. Flames were absent, at least, but Tony was on edge with only one more practice before a big game. His temper was short and Angela found it more difficult not to cross paths being the only one around in a three-room place. He snapped easily, leaving Angela to be glad when he left for class and knew he wouldn't be home until later that night. Unfortunately for her, Tuesday was also a bowling night. While it was nice to get out of the apartment, she didn't consider jeering from her own teammates to be a great source of recreation. The night would have been a total waste of energy had it not been for making her first spare.
Tony was asleep by the time she got home. Though relieved given his earlier mood, she was disappointed not being able to tell him of her achievement. She had to laugh at the thought. She used to wake him up to tell him when she landed a multi-million dollar account. Now the best news she had to offer was hitting some pins with a ball. The only reason she felt any excitement about it was knowing Tony would be pleased.
By Wednesday morning, she didn't bother to share her 'news'. Tony was in better spirits which was good enough. Practice had gone well and tonight she'd be in the stadium cheering him on.
"I can't wait for you to see the time in action," Tony chattered between spoonfuls of cereal. "I was getting a bit worried, we still have some weak spots, but the team is banding together. They want to win as much as I do."
"I'm looking forward to it," she smiled.
The game went well, even if Tony thought they should have won by more points. Angela enjoyed seeing him out there with the team. She could almost feel his joy radiating into the bleachers. It was the first moment all week she felt the tension in her shoulders ease. Tony was good with those kids. It made her wonder what he had been like when he was the one playing the game. A couple of reunion games didn't give her the full picture. If not for Marie, she'd wish she could have known him in his Cardinals days.
Now it was Thursday and she was thrown back into the reality of her week. With this game out of the way, Tony's focus shifted back to classwork. The day had been uneventful but boring. Another test coming up on Friday meant Angela had to keep out of Tony's way when he came home in the afternoon. She cooked dinner, braving the stove and cooking a stir-fry, called him to the table, and ate in relative silence as he mulled over early American history. Once the dishes were clean she was off to another night in the bowling alley. Given this was her last night with Tony before leaving for Connecticut, she was tempted to call the others and say she couldn't make it. Pointless, she decided, so long as Tony was buried in his books.
"You seem even more distracted tonight than usual."
Angela looked at this woman Carrie as she sat down beside her and shrugged. "I'm going back east for the weekend. Trying to make sure I remembered to pack everything I need."
"What time's your flight?"
"A little after seven."
"In the morning? And you're here instead of resting up?" the woman questioned.
"Tony's putting a test together," Angela answered. "Figured I'd get out of his hair."
"You're incredible," was the reply.
"I beg your pardon?"
"You really love him."
"Of course I do," Angela said, still confused.
"I mean, you move all this way for him, give up your career, you're bowling with us even though it's clear to anyone paying attention how much you hate it, you start this whole new life… I don't think I could've done that for my fiance. Heck, I don't know if I could do it now after more than twenty years of marriage." Noticing how wide Angela's eyes had become, she added, "Don't look so surprised. Information travels fast around here."
It took her a moment before she could respond. "Tony and I… we've had an interesting relationship from the start. No, not interesting. Different."
"Doesn't surprise me."
"He's done so much for me over the years. Finally I'm able to do something for him. And he's letting me." Angela shifted uncomfortably in her seat, not quite sure why she was trying to explain things to someone she'd only spoken to two or three times before. "I'm still adjusting but I'm getting there. It will be good to be home for a couple of days."
"Well," Carrie grinned, patting Angela's knee, "we're glad to have you both here. My son is on his team and speaks wonders about him. His grades have been improving, too."
"I'm glad to hear it!"
Again, it was these little reminders that kept her pushing forward. Tony was happy. He was helping these kids. He was making everyone around him happier. Doing something for him did feel good. Despite the hardships, she was just as determined to make this job work for him as she had when airport security found his smuggled nameplate. The hurt of that moment would never dissipate. He'd tried to hide it from her, worst of all her above anyone else, like he was ashamed to admit he wanted something for himself. She refused to let it happen again. He would have been honest with her a few years ago. Being in a relationship should have brought him to her sooner. She'd forever be grateful for the metal detector. Had it not gone off, they'd be back home and married, which was what she still wanted if she was being honest, but not if it meant Tony would have been miserable beneath it all.
All of this in mind, she stepped up to the lane when her name flashed on the screen. She didn't have another spare to bring home tonight, but she'd only thrown a gutter-ball twice.
"A new record!" Barbara joked.
. . .
"What're you doing up?" Angela asked as she entered the apartment, surprised to see the living room light on and Tony sitting on the couch. She hadn't come right home. A couple of the girls hung back at the bar and she'd decided to join him. Drinking beer brought her back to Tony's poker nights. Hard to believe that man was the same one she knew now. If she walked into the kitchen one morning to see a cloud of cigar smoke and the smell of stale alcohol nowadays she'd think something was wrong — especially how her own drunken episode almost led to an intervention. Beer was all right for a poker night and perhaps more appropriate than wine after a bowling match, though it was still her preference. She'd brought enough attention to herself for one evening and opted to go with the majority. At least it didn't go to her head the same way as wine. She had to be careful about that, apparently.
"Of course!" Tony replied, almost offended by the question. "I won't see you all weekend. I want to say goodbye."
Dropping her bag by the door, she joined him on the couch. "You'll see me in the morning."
"That's not the kind of goodbye I meant."
"But really, I hope you have a good trip. Call me and let me know how things are going with the agency?"
Her heart leaped. "Absolutely."
"And let me know how Samantha is. Make sure she's keeping up her grades. Hank, too. Or how his puppets are doing. Can't keep up with that kid."
"And give Jonathan a hug for me. I'm glad to have one kid who I don't have to worry about academically."
"I assure you he will be suffocated with hugs by the time I leave on Sunday."
"So," she started, "did you finish your test?"
"Yep. I think the kids will do good. The last one was a doozy so I decided to go easy."
It was her turn to say, "Good," before standing up and taking and tugging on his hand. "We can say goodbye now."