Episode #334

Previously ...
- In front of the entire family, Sarah gave Molly and Brent her blessing to be together.
- While visiting Objection's new store with Diane, Brian had a brief run-in with a cute female employee--who turned out to be Kelsey, Jason's new skating partner.
- The news of Stan's demise divided Claire and Ryan: He was angry at her for being relieved over his own father's death. Later, Bill was understanding about the situation, which made Paula appreciate how far he has come in accepting Ryan as her son.
- Dylan was annoyed to hear that Alex had gone out with Trevor to celebrate his novel's publication. Alex unknowingly read a text message sent to Dylan by Leo, the guy he hooked up with in Atlanta!


"So," Bill Fisher says as he finishes recounting the events that took place just a day ago, "that's what happened. But you might want to speak more with Sarah about everything." He nods, smiles carefully. "I don't think she'd have been able to say those things to her sister if you weren't in her life."

"Bill, that's--thanks. It means a lot coming from you." Matt Gray isn't sure what else to say at this point. Bill intercepted him in the parking lot of the Pier and presented all of the recent developments of the Fisher family, and now Matt has a lot more to think about. "I dunno what to think about anything. It sounds like she's taking a step in the right direction, but ..."

"Well, give it a little more time," Bill suggests.

"Yeah," Matt agrees. "Maybe."

A bolt of silence strikes, the kind of pensive quiet that always characterizes their talks.

They stand, with Bill resting on hand on the hood of Matt's truck and the younger man leaning against the car's driver side, arms crossed.

"I've been thinking about trading this thing in," Matt says. "Ever since the accident."

"Understandable," Bill says through a chuckle. "Probably not the best memory."

"Yeah. I'm still amazed I managed to get hurt so badly, and the truck barely has a scratch to show for itself."

"Are you thinking of trading up?"

Matt shakes his head with half-joking embarrassment. "Never thought I'd say this, but Sarah sorta got me to liking SUVs. I might not mind driving one of those."

"See? You should give her a call to talk more about car options," Bill says, a less-than-subtle transition back to his true reason for stopping the younger man.

"You really think she was being serious? With Molly and Brent, I mean?"

"Absolutely." He gives Matt a pat on the shoulder. "Anyway, I'd better let you get to work."


"Just think about what I said, Matt."

"Sure," Matt offers, turning toward the restaurant as Bill walks off to his own car.


The sounds of Samantha and Victoria wreaking havoc in Sam's room flood the condo, but Diane Bishop is doing her best to drown it out. She has the glass door open, allowing the sounds of traffic and activity outdoors to spill inside, and the television is tuned to the E! network. No one is really paying attention to the show on celebrity makeovers, though; Diane, Sarah Fisher, and Brian Hamilton are too focused on their lunch and the conversation that accompanies it.

"I have not had Chinese food in so long," Sarah says, finishing a bite of sweet-and-sour chicken. "This was such a good idea."

Diane offers an exaggerated nod. "I know, I was starving. Samantha's soccer practice was about twelve hours long, I think."

Brian's fork pauses millimeters from his mouth, noodles dangling in mid-air. "What kind of Nazi soccer team is this, anyway? They're practicing like eight times a week."

"It's not that bad. The coach is just a little ... intense."

"He's got a bunch of seven-year-old girls out there, and he's treating 'em like they're all Mia Hamm!" Brian says. "I was reading that letter he sent home to all the parents--"

"It's good for her to be involved in stuff," Diane interrupts. "If he turns out to be too insane, I'll deal with it."

Sarah finishes another forkful of chicken. "I asked Tori if she wanted to play soccer this year, but she really wants to take more dance classes."

"You're gonna turn into one of those stage mothers from hell," Diane says, "sewing all those crazy costumes with feathers and sequins, clubbing other kids in the knees so that Tori can get ahead ..."

"I think that's why we need to keep Sam out of dance classes," Brian cracks.

Diane shoots him a threatening look. "Shut up."

"She really enjoys dancing," Sarah says, "and she seems to be pretty good at it, so I'm fine with it. I think Matt was hoping she'd get into more of a sport, though."

The mention of Matt brings an automatic shift to the conversation.

"No word from him yet?" Diane asks.

"Nope." Sarah grabs another to-go container and starts rifling through it with her fork. "But like you said, I need to be patient."

"Yeah, if you'd had him there when you talked to Molly and Brent, it would've looked like you were just putting on a show for his benefit. This way, it looks like you meant it."

"I did mean it."

Diane narrows her eyes but doesn't say anything further on the subject. The short bout of silence is brought to a screeching halt by a crash from the other room.

"Ow!" Samantha screams out, the exaggerated howl of a child who thinks she has been hurt far worse than she actually has.

Diane rockets to her feet. "I probably need to check on that."

She hurries to the bedroom. A moment later, Samantha's cries fade.

Brian sets down his fork. "Question for you, Sarah."


"You weren't lying to your sister and Brent, were you?"

"No! I--" She sighs. "It might not have been the thing I wanted to do most in the world, but I had to. I don't know if Diane is ever gonna understand that."

"She has kind of a one-track mind," Brian says. "We just have to deal with that, I guess."

"She was the one who came up with the idea for me to give them my okay, so whether she believes I meant it is irrelevant. I just hope Matt knows that I was serious and realizes how much I want to be with him."

Brian adopts a comforting expression. "He will. Maybe it'll take time, but he will."

"I probably need to stop worrying about what Diane thinks." Sarah cracks a small laugh and lowers her voice just a bit. "Sometimes it's hard to remember that she's only one person with one opinion."

Though she can't tell exactly what it is, Sarah can see some sort of realization dawning on Brian.

"Yeah," he says quietly. "We do need to remember that."


Courtney Chase sets her iced tea down on the table and leans against the cushioned back of the booth. "He really is awesome. I can't wait for you to meet him."

"I sorta met him at the fashion show," Alex Marshall says, "but it'd be nice to actually, you know, see what this guy's like."

"You'll like Josh. He's a great guy. I'm just happy he had the guts to ask for my number, 'cause that's so something I would never do."

A waitress appears at the side of their table.

"Hey, Jennie," Courtney says.

"Hi." Jennie looks down momentarily, then places a basket of French fries on the table between Courtney and Alex. "I've got your fries here. Rest of your food should be out in a few minutes."

"Thanks," Alex and Courtney both say, and Jennie heads away from their table.

Courtney waits until the waitress is out of earshot before speaking again. "That girl was a year behind Jason, Lauren, and me in high school, but she always acts shocked when I say hi to her. Like she expects me not to remember her or something."

"Maybe she's just shy," Alex offers.

"Yeah, maybe." Courtney picks up one of the thick-cut steak fries from the basket and tests it. "Ow, that is really hot."

"They're still steaming! Wait a minute before you go biting into 'em."

She shrugs and picks up the cannister of seasoning salt, which she spreads liberally over the fries.

"Can I ask you a question?" Alex asks abruptly.

Courtney pauses, mid-pour. "Yeah, sure. Sounds kinda serious."

"It's not--well, maybe. I'm not sure." He fiddles with the straw in his soda for a moment. "Has Dylan ever mentioned anyone named Leo to you?"

She goes through the motions of scouring her memory, but it's clear to Alex from the outset that she doesn't remember anything.

"Not that I can remember," she says finally. "Why?"

He hesitates just long enough for realization to strike her.

"Alex, you don't think--"

"I don't know what to think. I accidentally picked up his phone, and there was this text message--" He shakes off the memory. "Don't say anything to him, please."

"I won't." She picks up the half-eaten fry from earlier and tries it again; this time, it has cooled off enough not to burn her mouth. "What'd the message say?"

"Nothing necessarily bad, but it was enough to make me wonder, so I thought I'd ask. Maybe I should just let it go."

"Yeah, but ..." She pauses and then cuts herself off. "Wait, you know, there is a Leo who we both know."

"Who is it?"

"He's a skater, from California, I think. We competed against him and his partner at Nationals."

"Do you think that Dylan would've ..."

"I don't see why," Courtney says, picking up her iced tea again. "Maybe they used to, you know, go out or whatever."

"I guess that's possible."

Alex reaches for a French fry, but he pauses before bringing it to his mouth. "I hope that's all this is."


"Ryan, are you here?" Paula Fisher asks, knocking on his door. "Ryan?" She is greeted by silence, but she opens the door anyway, discovering it's unlocked. "Ryan, it's Paula."

"I know," he announces, appearing in the doorway from his bedroom.

His apartment is so dark. She can't even see the expression on his face. He's hidden in shadows.

"Can we talk? About Stanley?"

Paula takes several more steps into the cave of Ryan's loft, but he makes no move.

"Not now. I told Claire I needed some time alone. I don't want to talk about it."

"Well, I do want to talk about it," Paula counters, the force of her words a surprise. "I would like to talk about it, and nobody else can understand, Ryan. Not like we do. They didn't know the Stan we knew."

Ryan stepped into the soft light now and wasn't what Paula had expected at all. Part of her had expected to see him disheveled or crazed or ... something. But other than the melancholy, tired look in his eyes, nothing's changed. He's still Ryan.

"The Stan I know was a mess. He's never been a good person. I doubt he ever was, even when he was with you."

"Then why do you feel such a responsibility for him? Why do you have to take this all upon yourself?"

"Because if I don't, who will?"

Paula doesn't know what to say. If it were any of her other children, she'd know exactly what to do. She's always known how to mend their wounds. She knew the little things she could do or say to cheer them up. But not Ryan ... and she fears she'll never know.

"I'm here for you, too, you know? This is the first real obstacle we've had to face--since we found out the truth. I just thought we might be able to help each other through this."

"I don't need your help."

Ryan's words aren't harsh in their delivery, but they still cut through Paula like a knife. Truth is, he doesn't need her. He's faced much worse than this, even in his young life, and he's survived without her--without his mother's guidance and support.

Paula feels stupid for thinking she could just show up now and fix everything. Ryan's closed himself off from her right now, and she's not going to get through to him.

As she turns and leaves the apartment, all Paula can think about is the fact that even though she's worked so hard lately to make up for lost time, she still has a long way to go to scratch the surface of Ryan Moriani.


Over the sound of the running water in the sink, Molly Fisher can hear Brent Taylor's voice in the living room. She can't make out all his words, but it sounds serious. Almost as soon as they finished eating lunch, Brent's cell phone rang, and now he's on the computer and the phone simultaneously.

She finishes rinsing off the dishes and sets them aside to dry. She moves closer to the doorway that divides the two rooms, hoping to catch a snippet or two more of the conversation. Though it sounds work-related, she wants to make sure there isn't anything troublesome going on with Brent's family in San Diego or anything like that.

Before she can turn her attention to that, though, she hears a familiar scratching noise. Spinning around quickly, she sees the dog doing his best to pry open the ground-level cabinet where the garbage is kept.

"Rex, stop that!" she says, but it isn't even necessary for her to speak. As soon as she looks at the pug, he knows he has been caught and backs off in defeat. Not that she thinks he'll stay away for long, but it's the best she can do. And one look at his crinkled little face makes her regret snapping at him, anyway.

"C'mere, cutie," she says, bending down as the dog scurries toward her. She scratches her fingernails along his back, and Rex sinks to the kitchen floor in bliss.

She is still playing with the dog when she hears Brent ending his phone call and rising from the computer chair. As the printer hums along in the background, he joins her in the kitchen, cell phone clutched in his hand.

"Sorry about that," he says. He looks different than he did earlier--weary, preoccupied.

Molly rises to her feet. "Is something the matter?"

He looks at her blankly for a split-second before shaking his head. "No. Just, uh, something about work."

She knows she should be relieved that it isn't anything more serious, or anything personal, but something about Brent's demeanor will not allow her to ease up. He looks tight, almost mechanical, like his mind is too busy to devote any attention to his present surroundings. It looks as though he might bolt for the door any instant.

"You're sure everything's okay?" she asks again.

This time, the pause is less distinct, but it is still there. "Yeah, Mol. Don't worry about it." Before she has the chance to question him, he adds, "Actually, I need to go away for a few days."

"Why? Where are you going?"

"It's--more work stuff. That's why I was on the phone for so long." He tilts his head in the direction of the living room, presumably to indicate the still-buzzing printer. "I booked a flight online. I've got the confirmation printing right now."

She nods, trying to ascertain if there is anything she can do to help. This latest development, whatever it is, appears to have drained nearly all energy from his being.

"Okay, bathroom break," he says, heading out of the kitchen.

She watches him go, still wondering if there is anything she can do to help, and she realizes that he never answered her question about where he is going.

As soon as she hears the bathroom door close, she hurries into the living room and grabs the sheet of paper out of the printer tray.

Vermont? Why would he be going to Vermont for something that has to do with King's Bay police business?

She replaces the paper in the tray and goes back into the kitchen before he comes out and catches her snooping. But her mind doesn't relax; there is something going on that Brent isn't telling her, she's sure of it.


What could be going on with Brent?
Should Alex confront Dylan, or should he deal with it some other way?
Is there a way the Fishers can get through to Ryan?
Come join the chatter in the Footprints Forum!

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