The studio waiting room is empty when Toby arrives. He can feel his heart racing, his palms are sweating and it feels like there are thousands of insects crawling around in his stomach. He was barely able to force down the toast that Carrie handed him that morning and Marco had made a joke as he was leaving about how pale he looked. There’s no turning back now, Toby knows it. He’s worked too hard, practicing the scene over and over with and without Fiona’s help. He sits in the waiting room, leg jiggling nervously. Finally the assistant sticks his head around the door and invites him in to the room.
He walks in, legs barely feeling up to holding him up. Fiona’s already sat in one of the chairs in the centre of the room. The producer, Richard, and some of the other important people are already behind the table. Toby is struck with the sense of deja vu and for a moment doubts fill his head. He’s a fraud, he shouldn’t really be there. But those thoughts rush away when Fiona turns and smiles widely at him. He smiles back and heads towards the seat.
“Mr Arnold,” Richard the producer says. “Thank you for coming back to us. I’m happy to see that you did what I asked and took some classes. Now let’s see if they paid off shall we?”
“Thank you,” Toby says, smiling widely, “Thank you so much for the feedback you gave me and for suggesting the course to me. I learned so much.”
“Glad to hear it,” Richard says, smiling too, “Ready when you are.”
Toby turns to look at Fiona and she’s taking deep breaths, getting herself in to character. He’s seen her do it before, many times. At first he had tried to do something similar too but he quickly realised that what works for Fiona doesn’t work for him. Now he just lets himself slide in to character as the scene starts. Fiona looks at him and smiles again.
“Do it like the last time,” she murmurs quietly.
They start. Fiona’s words go through Toby’s head as Fiona says her lines. The memory of the last time that they acted out the scene, just a few days before and then his mind wanders to what had happened after. He remembers the way that Fiona smelled, how she felt in his hands. Fiona nudges him and he comes out of his thoughts, attention back on the room where he is. He goes with the distraction, making it a part of Rooney’s character. After all, Rooney would have been distracted with all of his own thoughts when Coleen was trying to talk to him.
The scene goes quickly, Toby is operating almost on auto pilot now. He isn’t thinking about anything else but being Rooney in the scene. By the time that they are finished his heart is still racing and he feels high, floating on the air. He feels like it was one of his best performances yet and when he looks at Fiona it seems that she agrees. She’s beaming, wide. Her eyes are shining brightly, with happy tears. He looks at Richard. The man is smiling too.
“Thank you so much Toby,” Richard says, clapping quietly. “That was so much better than last time. It looks like the classes were the right choice for you. Thank you for auditioning, we’ll let you know whether you’ve got the part soon.”
“Oh…” Toby says. He falters for a moment, “Thank you.”
He gets up and walks from the room. He glances back over his shoulder at Richard, Fiona and the others but they’re no longer paying attention to him. Fiona has walked over to the table and they’re all now in a whispered discussion. He sighs and heads out. His heart is heavy and he wonders whether being so distracted to begin with has only ruined his chances rather than helping him to give a better performance like he had hoped.
The moment that Fiona opens the door Toby is in front of her. He’s been waiting for her to get back since he returned home himself. Carrie has already hit him around the head with the newspaper several times when he kept hovering around the window and John has threatened to tie him to the seat after he jumped up when he saw someone at the bottom of the drive.
“Well?!” Toby cries, barely letting Fiona shut the door behind herself. “What did they think? Did they like it? Did they hate it? Tell me?! Please, what did Richard think? He didn’t say anything this time, I want to know what I did wrong.”
“Toby!” Fiona snaps, her laughter ruining the illusion of anger, “Let me take my coat off.”
Toby steps back and waits impatiently for Fiona to get her coat and shoes off. He’s about to start pestering her again when she just pushes past him and walks in to the living room. He hovers near the sofas as she starts a conversation with John about nothing in particular. She won’t look at him, what talk to him. Instead she’s talking about a fish crisis in Burma.
“Oh for God’s sake!” Toby cries, “Will you just tell me what they thought already?!”
“You’ll find out for yourself,” Fiona say, a smile on her face, “It’s not my place to say and they said they’d call soon.”
“How soon?!” Toby asks, bouncing up and down, “I need to know.”
Fiona doesn’t have a chance to reply. Toby’s phone starts to ring. He scrambles to answer it, almost dropping it in his haste.
“Toby!” a man booms at the other end. “Toby, it’s Richard, the producer for England’s Finest.”
“Richard,” Toby says, going for nonchalance, “Hi, how are you? I wasn’t expecting to hear back from you so soon.”
“Yeah,” Richard says. He sighs heavily, “Listen thanks so much for auditioning today. I normally wait a little longer but I thought that I’d better tell you now rather than leave you hanging too long. I mean, you’re just starting out, it’s not fair to keep you waiting around. Your audition was good today, really great. However, I have a bit of bad news for you.”
“Oh… ok,” Toby says. He starts to sink in to the nearest armchair. “Thanks for telling me so quickly.”
The others fall silent and look at him. Their faces are filled with worry and they all lean forward. Apart from Fiona at least who sits back and curls herself in to a ball on the corner of the sofa. She’s holding a hand up to her mouth and watching Toby intently.
“I’m sorry Toby,” Richard says, sighing heavily again, “You’re going to need to sort out a new schedule. You’re going to have to spend the next three months with me.”
“What?” Toby asks quietly, “What do you mean?”
“You’re in!” Richard cries, “You got the part! You’re the lead actor in England’s Finest!”
“You’re kidding me!” Toby cries.
“Nope, I never kid,” Richard says firmly, “Well apart from just then. But I couldn’t resist. You’ve got the part, your audition was amazing, one of the best we’ve seen. However. This is going to be hard work, a lot of hard work. You’re going to be filming most days, you’re going to be waiting around a lot and doing the same scene over and over. And worst of all, you have to spend most of your time with Fiona. I’m just warning you.”
Toby just sits there, not saying anything. All he can hear in his mind is ‘you got the part’. It’s repeating, over and over. A smile starts to spread across his face. He’s actually got the part.
Fiona sits and watches him. She’s been trying to hide her smile since she walked through the door. She’d known before Toby had even left the audition that he had the part, they’d just had to talk about it amongst themselves first. She had almost wanted to tell him, but had to call on all of her skills as an actress not to just blurt the news out when he asked. She could have told him, she knows that, but it wouldn’t have been fair. Toby deserves to hear it from the producer himself, not from her. She can still remember her first call to say she had her first part. It had been so amazing, hearing the news directly from one of the most important members of the crew. She hadn’t wanted to ruin that for Toby.
There is an incredible joy in hearing that news for yourself, from the producer. It is an indescribable feeling. Fiona knows how it feels and as she sits, watching Toby talking to Richard excitedly, arranging things, she knows that she made the right choice. There’s something to be said about sitting back on the side lines and watching someone receive the wonderful news that they’ve been waiting for. She’s glad that she’s getting to see for herself the smile spreading across Toby’s face, the joy in his eyes. She feels it too, not just because Toby, the man that she now cares deeply about, has got his first role. She can remember the happiness that she felt too and watching him brings it all back.
Finally he hangs up and looks at her. He glares and points a finger at her. She giggles and shrugs. He leaps to his feet and rushes across the room. He grabs her and lifts her in to the air. He swings her around and around. She laughs and wraps her arms around his neck. He lowers her to the floor and wraps his arms around her properly. They stand there, holding each other. She can feel his entire body shaking in her arms.
“I got the part,” he murmurs in to her hair. “I actually got the part.”
“You got the part,” Fiona says, pulling back and looking at Toby, “Well done.”