Yay, I said this weekend and it actually happened! If things weren't as explosive in this chapter as you were hoping, wait until the next one. It all comes out then- who knew what when and how everyone feels about it and why. It was going to be in this chapter, but Eric and Angela insisted on having some uninterrupted fun first and you can't fight the muse, lol. That's how writer's block is born. Plus, they were owed a little light-hearted time, I thought. :-)
"How long do you think we should make them wait?" Angela was sitting on the couch, her laptop in her lap, checking apartment listings while Eric made sure Thor had fresh food and water before they left for the evening. Jack and Rachel had just left for Chubby's, which was around the corner from Eric's apartment. They had agreed it would be easier if Angela and Eric arrived last, this way they could speak to everyone all at once.
"Jack told them to be at there at seven, its 6:45 now. I say we show up fashionably late around 7:15."
"You really want to leave them waiting that long," she asked, looking up from the computer as Eric came into the room.
"They can all catch up with each other. You know Cory and Topanga will want to be there early." He sat on the couch and moved Angela's computer to the coffee table. "Besides, if we leave them waiting we can have a little time for ourselves."
"Oh, so this is entirely selfish on your part? You don't care if the rest of them talk or not, you just care about us."
"Pretty much," Eric nodded. He wrapped his arms around Angela's waist and pulled her closer.
She was torn between wanting to enjoy the moment and doing the responsible thing and join their friends. It was so much easier when everyone was out of town, off living their own lives. Now they were here, breaking into the nice little bubble of isolation she and Eric had built up. If Eric was being selfish so was she, because as much as she loved her friends, she hated letting them and reality in. "We really should go," Angela said in a not at all convincing manner. How could she be expected to think with his hands under her top and his lips on her neck? It was almost a reflex when she tilted her head to the side in order to give him better access.
"Somehow, I don't believe you mean that," Eric laughed softly. His hands had by now moved to the buttons on her blouse.
She opened her eyes and smiled. "How can you expect me to when I'm being kept here under duress?"
"Do you want me to stop," he murmured against her throat. "Speak now," he warned a minute later after he received no verbal response.
She briefly looked up to glance at the clock. They still had twenty-five minutes until Eric said they would be there. And the restaurant was just around the corner. She pushed him back on the couch and straddled his lap. Angela leaned over him and kissed him, pushing all thoughts of friends waiting for them out of her mind.
"Let them wait."
"So, Topanga, how are things in the legal world?"
"Well," she grinned, "Last month I helped bring down this factory that was throwing out so much pollution into the air. They were breaking so many laws it was insane. I'm so glad I've made environmental law my focus. What I see drives me crazy, but I know what I'm doing makes a difference not just for us but for future generations."
"That's so great," Rachel smiled. "So, Cory, how is it being in high school again?"
"Oh, it's still the same except I feel about a million years old," he chuckled before checking his watch. "These kids come to me wanting me to give them advice on what to do with their lives, yet thinking they know it all, and I just wonder if we looked that young and clueless when we were their age."
"Of course we did," Shawn piped in, "but you can't see it in the moment."
"I don't know, from what I hear you and Topanga acted like adults from age 12," Naomi teased.
"Not just adults, but like, ninety year olds."
"Yeah, you guys were always odd," Jack said.
"Hey, when did this become pick on Cory and Topanga night," Cory asked. He looked at his watch again. "Where are Eric and Angela? They should've been here by now."
Rachel checked the time and saw that it was almost 7:30. "I wonder what's keeping them?" She had an idea of what was keeping them, but she wasn't going to say it.
"Why don't we just get food to go and walk to Eric's and hang out there?"
"No, wait, let me call first," she exclaimed. "I know Angela was driving over from her hotel," she lied, "and it was rush hour when she left. Let me call." Rachel grabbed her coat and stepped outside.
"Maybe this was a bad idea," Angela sighed happily, placing a kiss on Eric's chest.
"Oh, this is never a bad idea," he said, running a finger down her spine, smiling when she squirmed against him.
"We're going to be late." She didn't even bother to look at the clock.
He kept his eyes closed. "No, we're good. I think we still have a few minutes." They lay together quietly for a minute before being interrupted by a phone. "Ugh, I think that's mine. Could you grab it?"
"Can't you? I'm pretty comfortable."
"Yeah, because you're lying on top of me," he laughed. "I can't reach it like this."
"Fine," Angela sighed over-dramatically. She sat up and got the phone. "It's Rachel," she said, checking the caller ID. "Hey, Rach, we're on our way."
"You'd better be, it's 7:30!"
"What? Crap, we lost track of time."
"Uh-huh," Rachel smirked into the phone.
"Knock it off. I was looking at ads for apartments, you know that."
"I know that's what you were doing when Jack and I left."
"We'll be right there."
"You'd better be, because Cory wants to get food to go and walk over to Eric's."
"No! Keep everyone there. Go ahead and order. We will be there in ten minutes." She ended the call and put the phone down. She hurried around the room and gathered their discarded clothing.
Eric sat up. "What's wrong?"
"Get dressed," she said, tossing his things at him. "It's 7:30, not a little before 7:15."
"Again, I ask, what's wrong? So, we had a little bit more fun than we planned on," he chuckled as he pulled his T-shirt on.
"Yes, well, if we don't get to Chubby's, then they're going to get food to go and come over here to make sure everything is okay at Cory's insistence."
"Oh, you're right. We need to leave. Hey!"
She looked up at him. "What?"
"There's a button missing on my shirt."
Angela was busy buttoning her own blouse. "I'll sew it back on for you later. Wear it unbuttoned."
"Wanted me that bad, huh," he teased.
"Shut up." She struggled to get her boot on over her jeans. "You started it if I remember correctly."
Oh, that's your excuse," he laughed. "I also remember giving you a chance to stop."
"Yeah, like that was going to happen. I just have to check my hair and fix whatever you did to my make-up and I'll be ready."
"How many times do I have to tell you, you don't need make-up."
"It's just lip gloss." Angela stood up and looked at Eric. "You're the one who doesn't need make-up," she wiped his mouth.
"How do I always end up wearing your lipstick?"
"Gee, I wonder," she asked, pretending to be mystified. She tried to walk away, only to have Eric grab onto her forearm and pull her close. "What do you think you're doing?"
"You're not going to let me do this once you fix the unnecessary lip gloss." And then he kissed her.
She knew they were both delaying leaving for Chubby's, probably because they were dreading certain reactions. "Oh, you don't play fair," Angela groaned. "Seriously, we need to leave." She reluctantly pulled away. "Get my coat and wait in the hall," she ordered. "That may be the only way we actually leave at this point." She walked toward the bathroom.
"There's just one more thing."
She stopped in the doorway. "No, no more things, we have to leave now!"
"Okay," he responded, "but I think they'll notice that you're only wearing one earring."
Despite missing buttons, lost earrings, and lip gloss, Eric and Angela made it to Chubby's in ten minutes. "Wait," Angela said before they entered.
"What? Something wrong?"
"There's no going back now," she smiled. "They're all going to know."
"To be fair, I think those that don't know suspect something. This is more like a confirmation hearing."
"Oh, you're just making me feel so much better."
"Relax, it's going to be fine. And if it's not...well, I live right around the corner."
"And they know that and will follow us."
"Then I guess we'll have to hop in your car and hide out in your hotel room. No one else knows your room number, right?" She shook her head. "See, we have our escape clause."
She smiled and gave him a hug. "I know I sound stupid. Thanks for talking me down."
"That's what I'm here for."
"Just let me do the talking when we're in there. I think I've worked out what I want to say."
"It's about time," Cory exclaimed as Eric and Angela approached the table. "Did you forget how to get here?"
"Sorry," Angela apologized as Eric helped her remove her coat, "I was on the phone with someone about an apartment I'm looking at tomorrow." She chose to ignore Rachel's look of blatant disbelief.
Jack waved to get the attention of the waitress. "Where is the apartment?"
"Just a couple miles away." She smiled at Eric as he brought over two chairs for them to sit in at the head of the table. "Okay, I've got something to say and I don't want any interruptions until I'm done, understood?"
"All right," Topanga answered a bit baffled, feeling certain if Angela had anything major to announce she would've heard about it before anyone else. "Go on."
Angela looked at Eric one more time and grabbed his hand for reassurance before turning her attention back to her friends. "Eric and I are dating. We've been dating for a while. It's not something that we ever expected to happen but we are incredibly happy. If you have any criticisms or anything negative to say, frankly, you can either leave or keep your mouth shut because we don't want to hear it." She glanced at Eric who nodded in agreement. "So...I guess I'm opening the floor to comments."
"What do you mean by 'dating for a while,' " Topanga asked slowly.
"Yeah, I mean, you were in New York a month ago," Cory pointed out in a not entirely friendly tone.
"We started hanging out when Angela got back to town and it didn't stay platonic for very long. And watch your tone," he pointed at his brother.
"My tone? You're dating Angela and properly using words like platonic and you're worried about my tone?"
The waitress chose that moment to walk over. "Are you two stragglers ready to order?"
"I don't think we're staying," Angela said.
"No, stay," Rachel jumped in. "Cory, don't make me beat you up in front of your wife. You know that I can and I will. Are you going to behave yourself?"
"Fine," he mumbled.
"I'm sorry, I couldn't hear you."
"Yes, I'll behave," he said louder.
"Good," Rachel smiled. "Angela, Eric, go ahead and order."
"I'll have a cheeseburger, fries, and a strawberry milkshake," Angela said, still uncertain about Cory. "Have to-go boxes on standby, please."
"And I'll take a cheeseburger, onion rings, and a coke."
"Don't think you're stealing any of my fries," she smiled.
Topanga watched everything going on around her with a frown. Angela and Eric were dating, Cory was taking it badly-not shocking since he handled most change the same way, and Rachel was defending them and threatening to beat Cory up. Rachel didn't even seem surprised by the news. Looking at Jack, he seemed to be un-phased as well. Shawn was picking at his food and Naomi was observing everyone around her, both reactions within the realm of what Topanga would expect. She stood abruptly. "I'm going to the ladies room."
Angela watched her friend walk away. "I'll be right back. Rachel, don't let Eric touch my fries."
"You got it."
"Wait, who made you group enforcer?"
Once in the bathroom Angela found Topanga fixing her hair in the mirror. "Topanga?"
"Yeah," she replied, not even looking at Angela.
"Are you okay?"
"You seem upset."
"Why would I be upset? It's not as if the person I thought was my best friend has gone off and started a new chapter in her life and neglected to tell me all about it."
"I thought it might be a bit awkward."
"Why would it be awkward?"
"Given my history with Shawn and the way the four of us hung out all the time and the fact that Eric is your brother-in-law..."
"What does any of that have to do with what's going on now?"
"Eric and I just wanted some privacy. You can understand that, right? We didn't know if things would work out or if it was going to seem weird. Instead, it's been really wonderful," she smiled, "more wonderful than I could have ever imagined. And I know it's fast, but it's true."
"You could've told me when I got here. Or when we were talking on the couch yesterday, or when you called me for dress advice. Instead you played stupid. Didn't you think I would understand?"
Was there a polite way out of this that didn't include telling Topanga she was kept in the dark because she was a big blabbermouth? "I've given you my reasons. We wanted privacy to get to know each other like that without prying eyes and judgement."
"Rachel doesn't seem surprised, neither does Jack."
"We told them when we picked them up at the airport." She hated lying, but Topanga would not be happy if she knew Rachel has known all along.
"And Rachel is automatically ready to defend your relationship to the death," Topanga questioned.
Angela shrugged. "She's a good friend, you know that. Come on, Topanga, we should get back out there before they think something is wrong."
"Shawn seems pretty quiet, too, now that I think about it."
"I told him yesterday," she admitted. "Given our past and his friendship with Eric, I thought it would be best if I told him first before we announced it to the group. But he knew even before that thanks to you and Cory telling him what you saw in the park."
Topanga frowned. "But I didn't….Cory," she sighed. "He must've called him the second I went into the house. Does anyone else know?"
"We tried to keep it quiet, but Mr. and Mrs. Matthews and Mr. and Mrs. Feeny seemed to figure it out pretty quickly. They said we were giving off some sort of vibe," Angela rolled her eyes. "Oh, and Morgan knows, but that's only because she was at Eric's apartment when we got back late the night I called you for dress help. She saw us all dressed up and spotted a couple hickeys on me and we couldn't exactly deny it."
"Hickeys," the blonde raised her eyebrows. "What are you, in high school?"
"I know! I was mortified because I know everything at the party had to have seen them when we were leaving. I didn't even know they were there until she pointed them out. But, you know it's all your fault."
"My fault? How?"
"I wore the gold dress because you said it sounded more memorable than the red one. You asked me yesterday if Eric liked the gold dress and the answer is yes, he really liked the gold dress," she grinned, hoping that would lighten Topanga's mood.
"I still wish you would've told me," Topanga said quietly.
"I guess I understand why you didn't, but I feel like we've been drifting apart since college and my life went took me to New York and your life has taken you all over the world."
"Friendships have to evolve. It couldn't be like college forever."
"I guess. I just don't want us to ever get to the point where we're not friends."
"Not friends?" Angela gave Topanga a big hug. "If our friendship could survive seeing each other only a handful of times in the past several years and us being thousands of miles apart, I think we can get through anything."
"You're right, you're right." She squeezed Angela back tightly. "Let's go back out there."
"I'm sorry if I screwed this night up for you."
"Oh, you didn't," Angela laughed. "I actually figured Cory would be the one walking away."
"I'll talk to him later. You mean it when you say you're happy?"
"Yeah," she smiled, "I really do."
"All right. If Eric hurts you, though, he will have to deal with me. And since I'm a lawyer, I can think of really creative ways to sue him and make him pay," she teased.
Back at the table, things were pretty quiet with most of the conversation focusing on Eric's need for a new car.
"Wow, you're lucky the transmission didn't give you more trouble when you were driving and just petered out one day when you wanted to start it," Naomi said. "Last winter my engine died in the left turn lane of a busy intersection and it was a bitch to get someone out there."
"Tell me about it. I hate having to get a new car, though. I've had that one for so long and there are a lot of memories in it. Remember when we picked up that kitchen table for our apartment and realized the gas gage was broken only we were 6 miles from home and completely out of gas," he laughed at the memory and looked at Shawn. "Remember Shawn? In the heat wave? We ended up having to leave the car and drag the table on the subway and come back for the car with a gas can?"
"I remember," he mumbled.
"Then at least be polite and acknowledge him," Naomi scolded.
"You don't have to tell me what to do." In the past, telling the details of that story was guaranteed to have him doubled over with laughter. It was one of his favorite New York with Eric stories, but right now he wasn't in the mood. He was almost relieved to see Angela and Topanga return.
"Hey, everything okay?"
"Just fine," Eric said. "You?"
"Yeah." Angela looked at her plate. "Rachel, this is not a full order of fries."
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," she said, her shoulders slumping. "I'm weak, he gave me some of his onion rings."
She rolled her eyes and picked up her cup. "You drank some of my shake, too? I guess some things never do change."
"What," Eric exclaimed. "You didn't say I couldn't have any of that. You and Topanga were in the bathroom so long I was afraid it would melt before it got to be enjoyed, which would defeat the purpose of the milkshake. The good news is Chubby's daughters use real ice cream instead of the imitation stuff their dad used."
"I have an idea," Topanga spoke up.
"What's that? Order me a new plate of food," Angela glared at Eric.
"No, why don't we do a girls' night and a guys' night tomorrow? You know, really get a chance to bond again?"
"That sounds like fun," Rachel smiled.
"I'm in," Naomi added.
"Sure. If you want, we can have ours' at my hotel room. We can order room service, get massages, I'll even see if we can get our nails done."
"We can do our own nails, just like a slumber party," Topanga said. "But your hotel sounds perfect. Oh, I haven't had a massage in so long."
"Where are you staying?"
"Four Seasons, room 717."
"There goes our escape plan," Eric whispered, getting an elbow to the ribs. "Ow!"
"Something wrong, Eric," Topanga asked.
"No, not at all," he grimaced. "Must be a delayed ice cream headache from the milkshake."
"So, what about you guys? Are you fine with a guys' night?"
"Yeah. I can see if I can use the station's sky box for the Sixers game tomorrow. They're always offering it to me."
"I guess that would be fine," Cory said.
"Shawn? You like basketball."
"Count me in," Jack added, somehow getting the feeling that wherever they ended up, he would be playing referee instead of neutral party.