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Breaking Character

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The lights are off. Not surprising; if he thought about it, Tony is pretty sure he'd flipped them off on the way out the door yesterday morning as he juggled keys and bag and coffee mug, yesterday morning being approximately twenty hours and a whole other lifetime ago.

He leaves them off.

There's probably something to eat in the fridge or bread on the counter (he has jam, not jelly, he'd gotten used to it after breakfasts with Jeanne, all laughter and toast crumbs) but the idea makes his throat dry, bile churning in his stomach.

He drops his things by the door, wrinkled jacket smelling faintly of smoke (probably his imagination, the limo was two blocks away and upwind) and even more strongly of sweat and dirt, his backpack filled with a decoy gradebook, decoy papers (oh, she'd help him grade over his not-actually-faked protests, adding nice work! and good try! to papers that Tony had pulled together using Google and Wikipedia, because he was nothing if not thorough when it came to undercover), and toes off his shoes, gravel still wedged in the treads.

Tony sits on the couch, feeling the press of cushions (the weight of Jeanne in his lap, lips against his, a slow smile turning her kiss sweet) and immediately stands, walks with not quite steady steps to the cabinet. He slips a DVD into the player, pressing button after button until the opening monologue (they all come here, to Casablanca) blares and there's the glare of black and white. It seems brighter in the dark, like he can feel the heat of Morroco against his skin, bright against his eyes even when they close.

He tries to lose himself in the movie but he's seen it too many times, and the fact that Tony can recite Bogart's lines (that the Tony DiNardo in his head probably could do the same) doesn't help. He's pretty sure it's screwed up that he feels more like himself when he was pretending to be someone else. There's a pressure behind his eyes that has nothing to do with fatigue, everything to do with the fact that despite the fact that he wasn't in the car when it blew, Tony can't shake the feeling that an important part of himself was lost in a flash of explosive and heat.