CHAPTER: 12345, 6789101112131415161718192021222324252627EPILOGUE

The next few days Toby found himself more relaxed than he had been for a while. It didn’t escape his attention that whenever he left the house he was followed by police officers in an unmarked car or plain clothes officers that couldn’t seem to blend in right. But he didn’t care. He understood why they were doing it and figured that letting them do whatever they wanted was the best way to prove his innocence. He was sleeping in more, going for a run now and then with a house mate, and he was getting to spend a lot more time with all of them. He hadn’t felt so relaxed since he could remember. He wasn’t focused on football, all day everyday. He didn’t have his dad constantly going on at him about training and recent matches.

Instead he threw himself in to his acting. He attended each and every class at NAPA, he roped in his house mates to help him with his homework, whether it was reading a monologue in different tones and letting them guess the emotion he was portraying or dragging them around Manchester trying to cross things off of his emotional experience list. He focused entirely on his acting, not even flirting with any of the girls in his class. He made every lesson on time and often had the homework done on the same day that it was set.

“Come on Fiona!” Toby cried one day in the kitchen, “Let’s practice again. I need to get this right. And you always like acting things out.”

“There’s such a thing as too much practice,” Fiona says with a smile while she prepares dinner, “If we keep practicing you might burn out. It’s not good. And you don’t want to screw everything up.”

“Ok then, if that’s the problem,” Toby says, “We don’t need to practice the Rooney script. We can work on something else from my classes.”

Fiona stares at him for a long moment. He smiles at her, just keeps grinning and waiting for her to reply at last. Eventually she sighs and rolls her eyes. She returns his smile.

“Fine,” she says, “We’ll practice one of your assignments from class then.”

Toby cheers and pumps his hands up in the air. He grins and laughs while Fiona giggles. She shakes her head and goes back to preparing dinner. Toby leans against the counter and watches, occasionally stealing a bit of food only to get his hands slapped by her.

 

 

 

The next few days are filled with acting practice. Fiona and Toby spend a lot of time together. They don’t just practice acting though. They also spend time talking more, getting to know each other. Toby answers questions from the two detectives whenever they come around or call him in to the station. Toby learns more and more about Fiona than he ever expected. He discovers that she’s got a thing for Jason Stratham and loves watching old science fiction movies, mostly to laugh at the bad acting. Toby starts to realise that he really does like Fiona, a lot more than he ever believed possible. He likes her more than he ever liked Emma and begins to see that what he felt for her had been a young love type of thing, nothing true or burning that he had simply fallen in to. With Emma it had started to feel like a habit. With Fiona it felt different, completely new while still a little familiar.

But Toby isn’t sure how Fiona feels about him. When they act together she seems to be better than ever before, she’s even said as much. She’s said that she’s never acted as well or as deeply as when she’s acting opposite Toby. He’s sure that there is something between them both, chemistry and a spark. But he can’t feel any signals, any sign that she’s interested in him right back. The question keeps going around his head, making him wonder and think. It keeps him awake at night, leaves him tossing and turning in bed. It gnaws away at him, when he’s in the shower, when he’s going to class, when he’s staring at a random television match. Finally he has enough.

“Fiona,” he asks one day, “Do you actually like me?”

“What?!” she asks sharply “What on earth do you mean?”

“I mean…” he says, then he hesitates, “Nah, forget it, it doesn’t matter.”

“No,” she says firmly, “It does matter. If you’ve brought it up it’s got to be important.”

Toby shakes his head and tries to focus on the script that he’s trying to practice with. She rounds the table that they’re sitting at and pulls the script from his hands.

“We’re not practicing again,” she says slowly and quietly, “Not until you tell me what’s going on in your head.”

Toby looks up at her. Her face is set and solid. He knows that she probably won’t budge, he’s seen that expression on her face before, mostly when she’s demanding food money from the other house mates. He sighs and throws his head back, rubbing his face and refusing to meet her eyes.

“I suppose…” he says, hesitating and eventually looking at her, “I just, I was wondering why you’re helping me. I mean, I think there’s something there, between us, definitely friendship at least, but it sort of feels like you keep helping me for your own sake not because you actually like me.”

“What on earth are you talking about?” Fiona asks, sinking back on her heels, “Why wouldn’t I help you? You’re my friend.”

“I know but…” Toby looks away and groans in annoyance, “You said it yourself, I bring out the best in you when it comes to your acting. I can’t help but feel that you only like helping me because of that.”

“You think far too much,” she says smiling, “If I didn’t like you I wouldn’t help you. No matter how much better you make my acting.”

Toby hummed neither agreeing nor disagreeing. He squeezed his lips together, trying not to say anything. He wanted to argue, needed to argue but something was telling him that if he kept pushing he might end up just driving Fiona away. He felt her hand on his cheek, warm and soft. She pulled his head to face him.

“Hey,” she said gently, “I really do like you. Even if you weren’t a good actor I think I’d like you any way. I’ve told you things I’ve never told anyone else, not even Marco, Carrie or John. You know me better than anyone. Please. Believe me.”

Toby stares at her, looks her right in the eye. She is a good actress, one of the best he’s ever seen, on or off screen. For all he knows she is acting right now. But something, a little voice in his head, the hairs on the back of his neck, something is telling him that she was telling him the truth. He eventually nods and smiles. A smile slides slowly across her face and she sits back again.

“Good,” she says, getting up, “Now, let’s practice. And this time try to pretend you are actually a middle aged woman in the middle of a divorce.”

He grins and glances through the script again.

 

 

 

“That’s it,” Toby says when he returns home, “I’m done with classes. They’re all over.”

“Did you quit?” Carrie asks, not glancing up from her painting. “You know you shouldn’t quit things.”

“I didn’t quit Carrie,” Toby says, grinning, “The classes are finished. I passed and I got a really high grade. I can go in for the audition again.”

“That’s great,” Fiona says, coming over and hugging him, “I guess all of that practice really paid off then.”

“Yes it did,” Toby says, grinning even wider and holding his arms around her waist, “And I have you to thank for it. I called David and got a second audition. It’s in a couple of days.”

“Oh my god!” Fiona cries. She leaps in the air, arms locked around Toby’s neck, “That’s fantastic! We better practice that scene again then. Put everything you know to the test and make sure that you can get it down properly. I really don’t want to have to act opposite anyone else but you.”

“Thanks,” Toby says with a laugh. Fiona leads him from the kitchen and he glances at the others as he passes through the doorway, “No pressure there then.”

In Fiona’s room she pulls out the script and thrusts it at Toby. She orders him to read through it and says they’ll take it from the top. She sits on the edge of the bed, waiting while he learns his lines again. He doesn’t really need to read the script again, the words are etched in to his brain. He glances through for a few seconds before he tosses the script aside. He sits beside Fiona, takes a deep breath and then grips her hands in his.

“I don’t know what to do,” he says quietly, feeling every inch of confusion and worry, “I can’t decide between staying with Everton or going to Manchester.”

They slide in to the scene, moving through quickly. Toby feels each and every emotion. He’s no longer playing Rooney, he is Rooney. He is actually torn between staying with the team that’s raised him and the team that could make him in to his own man. He remembers how he had to turn away from his father, make his own choices even if they didn’t mesh with Anthony’s. He remembers the fear and the worry, the constant questions in his mind over whether or not he’s doing the right thing. Fiona isn’t Fiona any more. When he looks at her he sees Coleen. She’s every bit as beautiful to Rooney as Fiona is to Toby. He pulls on the belief and strength that she gives him, the belief that he can do the right thing for himself and the strength to stand by him, regardless of his decision.

“That’s it then,” he says with a big sigh, “We’re going to Manchester.”

Fiona/Coleen smiles and giggles a little. Toby as Wayne returns it and they hug tightly. They hold their hug and slowly fall back in to themselves. They pull back from each other but don’t let go. Toby looks Fiona in the eyes and smiles gently, the corners of his mouth only turning up a little.

“That was amazing,” Fiona says quietly, brushing her hands through his hair, “I completely forgot who I was there. I wasn’t Fiona any more, I was Coleen. That’s never happened to me before.”

“It was brilliant,” Toby agrees, “I knew exactly what he was feeling, exactly how he must have been thinking in that moment. It was like I was making the exact same choices, like I had had the exact same experiences. I pulled in all of those emotions and made them part of Rooney.”

“Those acting classes really paid off,” Fiona says quietly.

She licks her lips and her gaze drops to Toby’s mouth for a split second before returning to his eyes. She gently brushes the hair back from his forehead again and leans in closer.

“I’m so glad I got suspended,” he murmurs.

He leans forwards and covers Fiona’s mouth with his. He kisses her gently and softly, soaking in the feeling. His hands move of their own volition and find their way in to her hair. He holds her head tightly in his hands and kisses her hard. She moans gently in the back of her throat and her lips open beneath his. He slides his tongue in to her mouth, pressing it against hers. A shock jolts through him, a deep burning dagger of desire. He breaths deeply through his nose and shifts closer. Their thighs press against each other, heat radiating from both of them.

Hands wander as they kiss. Buttons are flipped open, zippers are slide down. The slow sound of fabric sliding over skin fills the room. Their lips part and press together again, over and over. They shift, pressing themselves against each other. Clothes get tossed aside and they move slowly up the bed. Their hands just keep pressing against skin, sliding all over. Toby grabs at whatever piece of Fiona’s body he can find. He can’t believe that she’s in his arms, that he’s finally got permission to touch her and hold her in the way that he wants. He rolls them over, laying on top of her. His weight settles between her spread legs comfortably. He hisses and jerks as her nails run down her back. He kisses her again, hard.

His nerves are singing, every inch of his skin is tingling where it touches her. She leans towards her bedside table and reaches in to a drawer. She pulls back, a foil wrapper in her hands. He takes it from her gently, kissing her mouth.

“Are you sure?” he asks quietly, his voice shaking.

She just smiles and nods at him. She pushes him away slightly, wiggling around to remove her underwear, the last barrier between their bodies. Toby falters a little as he looks down at her, this gorgeous creature spread out beneath him, waiting for him. She giggles a little and covers her body with her hands, self consciousness making her cheeks turn pink. He quickly tears the packet open and slides the condom down his length. He leans forwards again, elbows pressing against the pillow on either side of her head. After a bit of awkward fumbling he gets himself in to position. They both moan loudly as he presses in to her. He holds it for a second, just hovering over her and looking in to her eyes. Then she digs her nails in to her back and her heels kick at his buttocks. He presses forward, burying himself completely. He gasps with pleasure.

 

 

They lay side by side, gasping for breath. Fiona’s hair is a mess, tangled and knotted. She raises a weak hand to push it away from her face and lets it drop beside her head. Toby glances at her, his entire body still shaking.

“That was incredible,” she says slowly. “I’ve never felt anything like that before.”

“What can I say?” Toby pants out, “I’m good.”

“Cocky arse,” she says, weakly smacking him on the chest.

He laughs and catches her hands in his. She rolls over, pillows her head on his chest, right where his shoulder joins and sighs. Toby keeps hold of her hand, cupping it gently. He leans down and kisses Fiona’s head gently. She hums in contentment and they lay there in silence. After a while he can hear Fiona’s breathing level out, the steady rise and fall of her ribs and the occasional snuffling noise telling him that she’s fallen asleep. He puts his free arm behind his head and stares at the ceiling. He’s tired too, sleep is pricking at the back of his eyes. But he’s still soaring high, even though his body aches. He can’t believe what’s just happened. He can’t believe how good it felt.

Toby’s been having regular sex for a few years, always with Emma and he thought that he loved her so it was ok. But what he has felt with Fiona, the way that they seemed to fit and move together, it had never been like that with Emma, especially not when they first started having sex. With Fiona it had felt right and natural, even if it had been unexpected. With Emma though it had begun to feel forced, unnecessary, like he was just going through the motions.

He realises that he needs to speak to Emma. He hasn’t thought about her once, not since he told her that they were going on a break for a while. He knows that for what it is, a lack of interest in her. Her admission had hurt him, the truth that she’d only gotten with him because of his skill at football and her support for him being a footballer had been so that she could become a WAG had hurt him. She’d used him, at the end of the day, Toby realises that. Maybe she did really care about him, maybe she still does. But Emma hasn’t called him at all since he walked away so Toby wonders if she actually cares about him as a person or just for what he represents to her.

He doesn’t know where this thing with Fiona is going either. It could be just a one night thing, something that happened just because they were both so energised by the scene and their emotions were spiraling around everywhere. Or it could be the beginning of a relationship between the two, something real and true, motivated purely by the desire and like for each other, no other reason. Toby doesn’t know which way it’s going to go. To tell the truth he doesn’t really mind although he would like to be with Fiona he thinks. He’s just happy that what happened has happened and he has had the chance to experience it.

Regardless though, no matter what happens with Fiona, he needs to talk to Emma. They’re not a couple any more, not really. They’ve been going through the motions for months. There’s no closeness between them and they just follow the same routines with each other, day in and day out. They’ve grown apart, become two different people. Toby needs to end it between them, now.

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