Okay, I know I said this one would be a bit longer than the last one, but school is taking up a lot of my time and I've had a lot of tests lately and school has to come first. Sorry, lol. Luckily I find writing therapeutic and the most calming use of my limited "me" time. This is mostly Anglea and Rachel talking with a little bit of Eric at the end and a brief appearance by Jack. I've had to restructure things a bit since I wasn't planning on chapter 5 to come out the way it did, lol. We're probably 2 chapters away from the other characters reentering the picture, 3 at the most. Thanks for the reviews (jazphace for replying to every chapter), I'm happy people seem to like this, especially since it still seems so crazy and different. And Sunigyrl, are you in my head? lol A couple of your thoughts are either spot on or will be addressed in coming chapters.


"You slept with Eric," Rachel shrieked into the phone.

"Rachel," Angela admonished. "Relax. I think I could've heard you all the way from Texas without the phone. Keep it quiet."

"Oh calm down. Jack is still at work. It's just me and the dogs here for another hour. So, how did it happen?"

"Well, there was a little bit of alcohol involved the first time, but we weren't..."

"Wait a minute," Rachel interrupted, "the first time? There's been more than one time?"

"Yeah."

"Wow. Didn't you just get back to Philadelphia?"

"What does that have to do with anything?"

"Nothing, I'm just surprised. I mean, if you two had dated in college and were hooking up again now it would make perfect sense, but did you guys ever even talk to each other back then?"

"Not really. That's what makes this so weird."

"What is weird?"

"It doesn't feel weird," Angela admitted. "Eric's not the same guy he was in college. I mean, he's the same in some ways, but he's grown up. He's more mature now. Well, you lived with him. Has he always been so easy to talk to? Did you end up spilling your guts to him about any and everything that was on your mind even without meaning to?"

"Maybe not everything, but when he wasn't plotting something crazy and was focused...he was always great to talk to." Rachel was quiet for a moment. "Angela, is there more going on here besides sex? Are you falling for him?"

"No," she quickly responded. "It's much too fast for that. Besides, I haven't decided if I'm staying here permanently. I have some more job interviews on Friday, including a follow-up interview."

"That sounds promising."

"I suppose."

"Why don't you sound happier? You have job prospects, whatever is going on with Eric, why wouldn't you stay in Philadelphia?" Rachel received no response so she decided to lighten the mood. "So, how was it?"

"How was what?"

"You, Eric?"

"Rachel!"

She smiled. "You can't drop this kind of bomb and give no details. Was it good?"

Angela could feel an intense blush creeping up her cheeks. "I'm not having this conversation."

"Come on, it must've been good or it wouldn't have happened more than once."

"I can't believe you," she chuckled.

"What? It's not like we've never talked about guys and sex before."

"I know, but I'm not sure I want to talk about Eric like this."

"Ah."

"What does that mean?"

"Nothing."

Angela sighed. "That 'ah' of yours sure seemed to say a lot."

"It's just, in the past, the more serious you are about a guy the less talkative you are about certain details. Like with Remy, you said almost nothing, but with that guy Stefan..."

"Oh, god, Stefan..." Angela hadn't thought about him in years. He was an interesting boyfriend. Even now she couldn't decide if it was good interesting or just interesting interesting. She dated him for three months when she lived in Vienna. He was definitely memorable and not boring. She met him right after she returned to Europe after finding out about her father's illness. At that point in her life she was looking for something fun and not at all serious and he provided that. In the back of her mind Angela wondered if Stefan was still alive. He was a bit of a daredevil and was always pulling crazy stunts that would land most people in a hospital or cemetery. He always managed to walk away, she hoped that was still true.

"Right. Well, you shared every detail of that. And Piers..."

Piers. The rebound guy from Shawn while she was studying in London. He was a math major who was very intimidated by her father. "Okay, you've made your point, Rachel."

"So?"

"What?"

"Is there more going on between you two?"

"I don't know," Angela admitted. "I guess there could be, but it's so fast and Eric and I don't make sense- even you said it."

"That's not what I meant and you know it."

"We haven't even gone out on a date or anything resembling a date. I mean, he did take me out to a club to meet some of his friends-that's how this whole thing started- but that wasn't a date."

"Is that what you want? You want to date him?"

"Eric wanted to. I said no, not until I know what I'm doing."

"So, you're just sleeping with him? Leading him on?

"I'm not leading him on," she replied defensively. "He knows exactly how I feel."

"And how is that? That you apparently can talk to him about everything you need to and have no problem sleeping with him for what I'm assuming is at least good sex, but the second it requires a little more of an investment on your part, you freak out and want to run."

Angela closed her eyes and laid back against the couch. She knew she would get this reality check from Rachel, that's why she called her. It still stung to hear everything all laid out like that.

"Are you still there?"

"Yeah."

"You know I mean this with love, Angela. The message you left said you were afraid of screwing things up. Did you mean screwing things up by getting involved with Eric in the first place, moving so fast, or because you might run away and leave before you find out where this could go?"

"Is all of the above an option?" She rubbed her forehead, feeling a headache coming on. "What have I gotten myself into, Rachel?"

"I don't know," she said honestly. "And neither will you if you leave now."

"It's not all one-sided," Angela quietly defended herself. "I've listened to him, too. He's told me all about his break up with Hollie and his time in New York. I've only been here a little more than a week. It's hard to call me a conversation hog after a week."

Rachel smiled. Getting Eric to talk about Hollie was not easy. In the past he's had to be spectacularly drunk to talk about her and her betrayal. She remembered being in town for his birthday last year, just two weeks after the break up. He was a no-show for his party and after several hours of searching she, Jack, and Cory found him drunk at a karaoke bar butchering Boyz II Men. She hasn't been able to listen to End of the Road since. "Wow."

"What?"

"Talking about Hollie is not easy for him. Eric was devastated when he found her in their bed with that sports reporter Vincent guy. Did you know he was getting ready to propose to her?"

"No, he left that part out."

"Topanga and I helped him pick out the ring over Christmas. He had been planning to propose on his birthday because he said what better gift could he get than having the woman he loved agree to spend the rest of her life with him?"

"Oh, wow. I can't believe he can still stand to work with her. Now I really wish I would've slapped her when we saw her."

"You saw her?"

"Yeah, when he took me out to the club. We were having fun, laughing and talking with his friends until she walked in. Eric tried to play it off, but she definitely got to him. One of the guys we were with...Miguel, I think that's his name..."

"Yes, Miguel. He's a nice guy."

"Miguel asked Eric if we should go someplace else, but he said no. I asked him to dance to distract him. We danced, I kissed him to make Hollie jealous- it worked- but wow, is Eric an amazing kisser. We had a few drinks and ended up at his place."

"And that's how it started?"

"Uh-huh."

"You need to figure out what you're doing, Angela, not just for you, but for Eric, too. I love you both, but if you hurt him I'll have to kill you. He's been through enough."

"I don't want to hurt him. He's been so wonderful to me."

"So stay," Rachel said as if it were the most obvious solution in the world. "Give it a chance." She heard the garage door opening and the dogs began to bark and jump around, indicating Jack was home. "Jack's home. I know you don't want anyone to know about this so I'll let you go. Think about what I said. Call me if you need to talk anymore. Jack and I will be in town after Christmas."

"Okay. Thanks Rachel."

"Anytime." She hung up the phone and smiled at Jack as he entered the house. "You're home early."

"I left early to pick up these before the lawyer's office closed." He handed her a file and gave her a kiss.

"More paperwork? I'm a social worker. You'd think they would know we'd be trustworthy foster parents."

"They just want to put the kids in the best homes possible. I know you've seen enough nightmare stories that you understand the hoops we have to jump through. You've made people jump through the same hoops."

"I know."

"Who was on the phone?"

Rachel continued to flip through the papers. "Angela. She's in Philadelphia."

"Oh. Got tired of New York already, huh," Jack chuckled. "I'm surprised. Normally she stays someplace at least 6 months before she leaves."

"Give her a break. She's obviously searching for something. Whatever happened between her and her dad a few years ago really messed her up."

""She never told you?"

"No. I stopped asking after she would hang up and not call me back for a month whenever I asked. Whatever the fight was about, it must've been big."

"Well, maybe seeing her next week will help. It will be the first time we've all been together since our wedding, but we didn't get a chance to really hang out then. We can hang out during New Years'. It'll be fun."

"Yeah," she smiled. "I can't wait."

/

Angela didn't do much the rest of the day but lay around her hotel room thinking. She had grown up wanting to travel the world writing and that was what she did now, but she wasn't happy. She drifted around from place to place hoping to find happiness and when she didn't, she moved on. She wanted to stop, to pick one place and stay put. She'd wanted to do that for years, having grown tired of travel. She'd planned to stay in Rome with Remy. She adored Rome and felt at home there and she loved Remy. Then he had to screw it up by asking her to marry him, to have a family. She got scared and he kept pushing for marriage and she ran away to Australia. When that stopped being fun she went to New York. The fun lasted there for all of a month. And now she hasn't even been in Philadelphia two weeks and, while she's not ready to leave yet, she was already thinking of contingency plans. Texas would be next, near Rachel and Jack in Austin. If that didn't work out, maybe she'd give Chicago a try. Or Toronto. She's never been to Canada.

But did she really want to leave Philadelphia? Her job interviews were promising, she realized last night how much she missed belonging to a family after spending time with the Matthews' and Mr. and Mrs. Feeny, and then there was Eric. She didn't know what was happening there, but Rachel was right, she never would find out if she left. Angela complained about Topanga needing everything to always be absolutely perfect, but she had the same problem. She ran away and moved if something wasn't comfortable for her.

/

"You went for your Santa suit fitting?"

Eric could feel every muscle tense at Hollie's voice. He took a deep breath and slowly turned away from the weather monitors and faced her, an annoyed look on his face. "Yes, I did. It was pointless. I told you the suit still fit.

She leaned against the doorframe. "Well, you did gain a bit of weight earlier this year, had to make sure the emperor didn't outgrow his clothes. But I can see you've been hitting the gym." She looked him over. "You look good."

"I have to be on the air in twenty minutes. Is there anything you actually need relating to the news or the toy drive?"

Hollie frowned, not expecting Eric to be so direct with her. "No. I just wanted to make sure you did what I asked."

"For work? Of course."

"Well, then I guess I will see you later."

"Oh, Hollie," he called out before she was out the door.

"Yes?"

"Leave an extra guest pass available for the toy drive on Friday. I might have a friend stopping by with some gifts. I don't want security to give her a hard time."

"Her?" Eric had a her? Hollie wondered if it was the same girl she saw Eric with at the club last week.

"Yes, her. Is that a problem?"

"Um, no...no, not at all. What's her name?"

"Angela."

"Angela, okay," she nodded.

"Thank you. And Hollie?"

She stuck her head inside the door again. "Yes?"

"I'm leaving Angela's name with Pat also, just in case you forget or somehow never give security a heads up."

Hollie put on her best fake smile. "Don't worry, one guest pass for Angela, no problem."

"Great," he smiled back.

"Have a good broadcast." She hoped his mic went dead.

"I will." And he meant it.