Episode #336

Previously ...
- Brent took a trip to Vermont for what he told Molly was police business.
- Nick was thankful that Stan was eliminated before revealing what he overheard.
- Claire and Paula worried about how Ryan has pushed both of them away in the wake of Stan's death.
- After finding a suspicious text message on Dylan's phone, Alex asked Courtney if Dylan had ever mentioned a guy named Leo to her. Courtney thought of the skater from California whom she and Dylan both know.


"I'm glad you're home," Trevor Brooks says as Alex Marshall admits him to the apartment. Trevor stands awkwardly in the living room as Alex closes the door.

Alex notices Trevor's discomfort. "Have a seat. Want anything to drink?"

"Uh, no," Trevor says, though he does plant himself on the couch's edge, as if ready to flee any second. "No thanks."

Alex studies Trevor. Underneath his messy head of brown hair, his brow is furrowed, his facial features held tightly together. A pair of track pants and a plain white t-shirt contribute to his preoccupied, almost disturbed appearance.

"What's up?" Alex asks. He doesn't know if he can bear the strangeness any longer.

"Sorry for just showing up like this," Trevor says. He shifts his position on the couch but appears no more relaxed.

"It's fine. Not like I'm doing anything important."

"Yeah, well ..." Trevor knots his fingers together, separates them, and joins them together again. "I guess I want to apologize for the other day."

Alex, who has been busying him with flipping through the neglected pile of mail by the stereo, freezes. Since the afternoon that Trevor took him out to the river, he has hardly managed to go ten minutes without thinking about what happened--what almost happened--between them. He swears he can still feel the heat from Trevor's skin radiating out onto him ...

"Apologize for what?" he asks, swallowing hard.

Trevor's eyes finally meet his--and they are full of skepticism.

"There's nothing to apologize for," Alex says.

Trevor shakes his head. "Oh, of course not. I only put you in a completely uncomfortable position, not to mention making a total idiot of myself ..."

Drawing a deep breath, Alex moves closer to the couch. "You didn't make an idiot of yourself."

One of Trevor's shoulders rises in an unconvinced shrug.

"Seriously. Trevor, don't feel bad." Alex's stomach tightens. "You didn't do anything that wasn't welcome."

Trevor looks up at him again; his face is full of surprise now. There is something charmingly boyish about it, despite how sexy it also manages to be. Alex can't help himself. He reaches a hand out and places it on Trevor's shoulder.

"I really did appreciate you bringing me out there," Alex says. "And I appreciate you coming over here even more. But seriously, don't feel bad or weird or anything."

Trevor's expression finally appears to relax. "You sure?"

"Yeah." Suddenly Alex is very aware of his hand on Trevor's shoulder, and he draws it away before the touch turns into anything more.

"There's something I need to deal with right away," Alex says, as much to himself as to Trevor.


Courtney Chase takes a sip of orange juice and tries to forget about the practice she and Dylan just had. As soon as they gave the waitress their orders, he darted for the bathroom, and she's been grateful for the opportunity to get her head together. Their practice this morning was nothing short of abysmal.

Something's been off about their skating--and Dylan, really--since Nationals. She hasn't wanted to admit it to herself, but now, sitting alone in a booth against the window, with the sunlight shining through and warming her after several hours at the rink, a startling amount of clarity strikes her: this isn't quite working out the way she'd hoped.

She looks up, and Dylan is all of sudden back at the booth, sliding in opposite her and gesturing toward the menu in front of her.

"Damn, I was hoping our food would be here," he says.

"Should be any second." She cocks her head to one side, pushing her thoughts away for a beat as she glances idly over the menu.

As if on cue, the waitress comes over, refills their glasses of water, and leaves.

A bolt of silence strikes, and Courtney's back where she was before his return from the restroom.

"What's the matter?" he asks as he presses his index finger atop his straw and raises it from the glass to his mouth, releasing his finger and letting the cranberry juice slide down.

"Just thinking about Nationals, is all."

"Oh." A pause, long enough for him to swallow another strawful of juice. Then: "Yeah, that was a waste."

"It was disappointing, yeah. But not a total waste."

"Well," he says, a coy smile tugging at the corners of his lips, "not a total waste. It was an okay trip, I guess."

"For you, maybe," she says and feels her eyes narrowing. Since her discussion with Alex the other day, their performance isn't the only thing that's been on her mind about Nationals. Maybe, she thinks, I should get to the bottom of whatever happened in Atlanta--for Alex's sake, at least.

"Yeah," he says, now fully grinning, "it wasn't all bad."

"You know--" she starts, but she is cut off by the arrival of their brunch. The waitress places their respective meals in front of them, leaves again. She stares at her eggs benedict, then back at Dylan, who's already poking at his pancakes.

"I didn't think Leo and Megan should've beaten us," she says, pausing to take a bite. "Their double axels were really shaky."

"They weren't too bad," he says and coats his pancakes with maple syrup.

"You and Leo--it seemed like you guys were definitely familiar." She pauses, gathering her nerve, and then blurts it out: "Was there ever anything between the two of you?"

"Huh?" His expression is frozen for a few seconds, locked downward. Then he looks up and gives her a boyish smile. "I don't kiss and tell, Courtney. You know that."

"Oh." She nods and looks out the window, wondering if perhaps Alex read too much into that text message he saw--or if Dylan has been lying to both of their faces.


The sun peeks through the Vermont fog in patches, casting uneven bars of light into the diner and across the table. Brent Taylor pokes his fork around in the piece of cherry pie in front of him; despite his complete lack of an appetite, he has to admit it's some of the best pie he can ever remember eating.

Across the booth from him, the pair of federal agents work on their own pieces of pie. The tension among the three of them is thick, has been since the moment Brent met up with them.

"I'm still trying to grasp how this is even possible," Brent says.

Devereaux, the taller, lankier of the two agents, sets his coffee cup down on the table. "We don't want you to get your hopes up quite yet."

"I keep reminding myself of that. Still ... You have no idea how hard it was to keep this from my girlfriend."

"If we'd known about the personal connection," Devereaux says, "we wouldn't have involved you."

The other agent, Lockhart--shorter, a few years older, and also rounder than his partner--adds, "We needed someone from King's Bay involved, though. And you seemed like the best person to bring in--"

"No, I'm glad you did." Brent lifts a forkful of the pie toward his mouth. "I've been working closely with the Moriani situation. I'm dying to see some of these pieces fit together."

"I wish we could promise you that," Devereaux says.

Brent eats the bite of pie and immediately goes back for more, even though his stomach is telling him there is no need for it.

"There's something bizarre about this Domingo character," Lockhart says. "Something about this clinic of his sets off my radar."

"Absolutely," Devereaux agrees. Brent is too consumed by thought to contribute his own agreement, but he does manage a nod.

Lockhart sets his elbows on the table's edge and looks Brent square in the eye. "You really think Moriani had something to do with this Stan Lincoln guy being shot?"

"Almost certain of it," Brent says. "Stan was practically a transient. Sounds like Salvatore Domingo would've been way out of his league."

"It's a lot to infer from a piece of paper with two names on it," Lockhart counters.

"You boys have done the research. Something's shady about Domingo. This thing with Tom Clayton, whoever he is, bears it out. And if Moriani is mixed up in it, and Stan somehow found out ... I think that would've been enough for him to send someone after Stan."

"Guess we're about to find out," Devereaux says, a strong note of caution in his voice.

Brent nods as he savors another bite of the pie.


From the moment he steps into the hotel suite, Nick Moriani's senses are attuned to every detail around him. He doesn't trust these people, not for one minute, and he'll be damned if he's going to walk into a trap.

"Relax, Moriani," Joseph Santoro says, his lips cracking in a derisive grin. Santoro sits at a small table in the corner of the suite, his generous frame practically spilling out of the chair's confines. With a meaty hand, he gestures for Nick to have a seat at the table.

Nick lets the comment pass without response and settles into the chair. The bodyguard who granted him entrance to the suite moves to the door, across the room from them, but Nick knows that the behemoth man's attention is fixed on the mini-conference.

"What are you doing here?" Nick demands.

"Taking care of some loose ends for Mr. Esposito."

"You make sure he keeps his mouth shut," Nick says. For weeks, he has worried that the imprisoned criminal might say something that implicates Nick in any number of questionable activities. He hasn't wanted to get in contact with Esposito's people, but now that Santoro is here ...

"Don't you worry about that," Santoro says. The same lazy, amused smirk remains plastered on his face. "And that's where you come in."

Nick does his best to conceal his confusion. He hasn't had much to do with any of the Espositos in a long time, since paying off his debt to them several years ago--not that that stopped these people from setting fire to Katherine's mansion as some kind of twisted warning.

Santoro folds his hands on top of the table and takes his time before speaking again. "We have a favor to ask of you, Nick."

"What kind of favor?"

"Well, it so happens that there's a bit of business Mr. Esposito was undertaking in this region ... but, as you know, he's currently otherwise occupied."

Santoro lets that hang in the air without further explanation. Regardless, it is enough for Nick to understand what is going on here.

"I'm not getting involved with anything like that right now," he says firmly. "I have too many things going on."

"Did I say this was optional?"

Nick stares the larger man down for a moment before rising from his chair. "I want no part of this. I'm not putting my neck on the line for any of you."

Before Santoro has the chance to react, Nick crosses the room, pushes his way past the bodyguard, and exits. To his surprise, the bodyguard doesn't grab him, doesn't even flinch.

These people had better leave him alone.

Inside the suite, Santoro's grin widens as he reaches for his cellular phone.


Ryan Moriani stands in front of the lonely casket, a tall dark figure on a somber afternoon. His suit jacket billows in the breeze, as he kneels to rest his fingertips on the hard wood. "What's the matter, Dad? Expecting a bigger turnout?"

He looks over his shoulder, but the cemetery is just as deserted as it's been since his arrival. Hardly a funeral, but nonetheless fitting for the likes of his father. Ryan's asked a priest to come read a prayer for the burial--but it seems even a messenger of the Lord can't be bothered to be on time for Stan Lincoln.

Ryan is the only one here for him now. The only one who has any shred of debt left to repay him -- the debt owed to Stan for bringing him into the world. This is the end of the line for Stan and his miserable existence. One person. One person who Stan's life has affected enough to draw him here now.

Squinting against the sun, Ryan can see Sally Marshall's grave, not far from here. Sally's plight is just another reminder of how Stan derailed the life of every person he'd ever been close to. But Ryan is finished letting him ruin his life. If he has to be left behind here as Stan's sole legacy, he is going to prove he can escape the taint that followed so closely in his father's wake.

"Sorry I was delayed," the priest says, his arrival startling Ryan. The man wears a dark robe and a compassionate look upon his weathered face. He studies the scene before him -- studies Ryan. "I can tell this has been an especially trying time for you."

"You don't exactly need a sixth sense to figure that one out. My father didn't have a lot of friends, as you can see."

"But you're here for him. And it looks like they are, too."

Ryan's brow furrows at the puzzling remark, but when he follows the priest's gaze behind him, he sees Claire, Paula, and Bill coming near and holding hands.

Their solidarity and support on an occasion like this is remarkable to Ryan. Certainly something he never expected ...

"You ... came?" he says, looking to Claire. Her presence is the most powerful of all, given the way Ryan's treated her and treated all of them. They tried to connect with him, while he pushed them all away. Given her history with Stan Lincoln and what she suffered at his hands, he wouldn't have even considered asking her to accompany him today. He couldn't ask that of her.

And the Fishers. He knows neither of them is here for Stan. They're here for him, because even though they'll never fully understand, they know this is important to him.
Claire gives him a gentle hug, but Ryan doesn't even know how to begin showing his appreciation for this.

"Shall I proceed with the blessing?"

Ryan steps forward, the others hang back. The priest speaks a short prayer, and Ryan's jaw clenches involuntarily. He's nowhere near shedding tears for Stan, but the din of his combative emotions are threatening some sort of release.

Claire seems to sense this and appears beside him, slipping her hand into his own. Her touch centers him. They watch stoically as the priest sprinkles the Holy Water--falling like long-repressed tears--on Stan Lincoln's final resting place.


The apartment building is stout, very different from the tall structures and sprawling complexes to which Alex is accustomed. There are only a few units in the building, and they tend to draw younger people; Alex doesn't think he has ever seen a person over 35 here. In the time since he started dating Dylan, he has grown comfortable here. But now, in the face of his rethinking their relationship, the place looks to him like it did the first times he came here: unfamiliar, cold, unwelcoming.

He approaches the door and strikes the intercom button with his forefinger. Dylan's car is here, so he must be home.

"Hey, it's me," Alex says into the intercom.

There is a moment of silence, and then the speaker fills with air: "What are you doing here?"

"I think to see you." Alex wonders how that sounds--too warm? Not warm enough? "Can you buzz me in?"

"Yeah." The buzzer sounds, and the door unlocks. Alex opens it and climbs the single flight of stairs up to Dylan's apartment.

It strikes him that this could be the last time he comes here. The last time he parks in the lot, the last time he uses that intercom, the last time he climbs this set of stairs. That is, of course, if he finds out what he is worried he is going to find out.

He pauses outside Dylan's door with a final thought: Is he actually worried about what he expects he will learn, or is he looking forward to it?

An instant after he knocks, the door flies open. Alex knows that Dylan can't have been home from the rink for very long, but he still looks immaculate: showered, blond hair spiked up, dressed in a pair of loose jeans and a tight t-shirt. He always manages to look put-together, even when he shouldn't. Alex wonders if he's ever seen Dylan look unkempt, even getting out of bed in the morning. He can't picture it.

"I wasn't expecting you," Dylan says as a smile crosses his face. "Not that I'm complaining ..."

He reaches out to draw Alex inside the apartment, closer to him, but Alex pulls back.

"We have to talk," he announces.

Dylan's expression hardens. He must realize what this is about. Courtney called Alex after parting ways with Dylan to let him know that she had inquired about Leo and been shot down; surely her questioning clued Dylan in that Alex might be suspicious.

But in a matter of seconds, Dylan's features relax, in that forced manner that isn't so much relaxation as an overworked replica of it. "Why? Is something the matter?"

"That's what I need to know."

Dylan simply stares at him, a silent challenge to actually ask the question.

"The other day, you got a text message," Alex says, "and I thought it was my phone, so I checked it ... and there was a message from someone named Leo."

Now, despite his best efforts, Dylan cannot maintain his untroubled expression.

Alex breathes in sharply and then spits the question out quickly: "Is there something going on between you and this Leo guy?"


Will Dylan be able to lie his way out of this situation? Will he even try to?
Can the Fishers move on now that Stan is dead and buried?
And what is the connection--if any--between Nick Moriani and Salvatore Domingo?
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