Episode #344

Previously ...
- Jason took Lauren out for a romantic evening at Windmills, but he spotted Kelsey there with Brian. Jason took it upon himself to warn Kelsey about Brian's involvement with Diane and how he once hurt Molly.
- Meanwhile, Josh and Courtney also showed up at the restaurant.
- In Vermont, Dr. Domingo found Molly with Tim. She tried to explain that Tim isn't Tom Clayton, but the doctor had a guard knock Molly out. Before they could spirit Tim away, Brent burst in with a gun and told Domingo to freeze.


"Just trying to look out for you," Jason Fisher says. He forces a weak smile in an attempt to lift Kelsey Barker's spirits as she starts to head back to her table, where Brian Hamilton is waiting. She parts her glossed lips but doesn't say anything, so he adds, "Doesn't mean you can't have a nice dinner and conversation with him. Just be careful. I don't think this is a guy you wanna get involved seriously with."

"Yeah," she says distantly, still looking a little crestfallen. "Thanks again. I'll see you at practice."

He watches her briefly, studies her expression as she sits back down across from Brian. And for a moment he feels a wave of regret wash over himself--for not waiting to call her tomorrow, as Lauren suggested. Well, he thinks, at least she knows.

He turns and then stops dead in his tracks for a beat: standing next to his table is Josh Taylor. With Courtney on his arm. Oh, great. He swallows hard and then walks over.

"Hey man," Josh says, recognizing Jason's arrival with a cocksure nod. Courtney's deep brown eyes greet him with recognition, free of the iciness typical of her attitude toward him in the recent past, but before he can place meaning to her expression, Lauren pipes up.

"Josh was just saying hi," she says, sending him an uneasy glance of her own.

"Lauren and I have been so busy at Willis lately," Josh says, either aware of Lauren's less-than-subtle hint that he and Courtney depart or ignoring it. From what Lauren's told him about Josh's attitude at work, he guesses it's the latter. "It's good to see you two out enjoying yourselves. She really deserves a night on the town."

"Thanks," Jason says and sits down across from Lauren, inwardly admonishing himself for the terseness in his voice. He's immediately cognizant of the unwavering confidence--cockiness--that Lauren finds so disconcerting about Josh.

Nobody says anything for a moment, and the clatter of glasses and hum of conversation settle themselves like a fog around the four of them; Jason catches Lauren cock her head to the side and narrow her eyes at Josh, but she doesn't say anything.

"Well," Courtney says finally, glancing from Jason to Lauren and then up at Josh, "we'll let you guys enjoy your dinner--"

"--Unless," Josh says, pausing as a mischievous smile slinks across his lips. "I mean, you guys wouldn't mind if we ate together, would you?"

Jason remains seated and silent but digs his hands into his pockets. What the hell is he trying to pull?

"I'm not too sure that's a good idea, Josh," Lauren says distantly, not looking up at him.

"Why?" he fires back, ignoring a firm squeeze of his arm by Courtney. He seems to be studying Lauren's reaction and waits until she acknowledges his gaze before continuing. "Ohhh ... Is it ... I mean, just because you've both been with Jason?"


Brent Taylor slumps in the uncomfortable waiting room chair. He picks up a copy of Sports Illustrated from the small table beside him, but after turning a few of its thin, greasy pages, he sets it back down. Attempting to distract himself--he knows it will not be a successful effort--will take more energy than he has right now.

"This is driving me nuts," he mutters, glancing for what has to the hundredth time at his watch.

Agent Lockhart, seated one chair over from him, looks up from his own magazine. "Nothing we can do but wait."

"I know." Tim and Molly have been in with the doctors for at least an hour now, and Brent has spent every second waiting for someone to come out and fill them in on the patients' conditions.

"At least Domingo is out of the way," Lockhart says.

"Now if only he'll talk." The other agent, Devereaux, approaches them with two styrofoam cups of coffee in his hands. He gives one to each of the men. "I'm dying to know how all of this connects."

Brent takes the cup from Devereaux. "It has to be Moriani. There's no other explanation."

He sips the hot coffee, trying to ignore its thick, sludgy consistency. He catches himself looking at the clock on the wall.

"If Nick did this as some sort of bizarre scheme to terrorize Claire and the Fishers," Brent says, "he's gonna pay."

Devereaux sits down in the seat beside Lockhart. "You need to give them a call and give them a heads-up. You can't just show up with Tim--"

"I know, I know. I'm not going to ambush anyone." As much as Brent doesn't want to tell the Fishers this news over the phone, he doesn't have much choice. Given everything that's happened with Claire and Ryan, especially, he needs to give them time to absorb the shock and prepare for how they're going to greet Tim.

As if reading Brent's mind, Lockhart says, "Tim's gonna have a heck of time coming to terms with what he's been through."

"Yeah." Brent lifts the styrofoam cup to his lips again. "I just hope these doctors figure out what's going on. I can't imagine the kinds of things Domingo was doing to him in that place."


Brian watches Kelsey carefully as she returns to the table. She flashes him an exceptionally forced smile and then looks down to smooth her dress as she sits down.

He cannot take his eyes off her; he feels compelled to watch every movement for confirmation that Jason told her what Brian feared he would.

"Weird that we're all here on the same night, huh?" he asks, as casually as he can.

When Kelsey can only lift her focus for a split-second to mumble a response, Brian knows for certain what she and Jason discussed. His gaze follows Jason back across the restaurant, where his date and another young couple are engaged in what looks like tense conversation.

He had no right to do that. Not in the middle of Kelsey's date with me. He could've at least had the decency to wait--

Except he's only telling her the truth, the other half of Brian's mind interrupts. You can't fault him for looking out for a friend.

Still working to restrain his anger, Brian watches as Kelsey returns to work on her salad, granting it far too much attention.

"Kelsey," he says abruptly. "I know what Jason said to you."

She looks at him guiltily. He gets the impression that she wants to shake her head and deny it, if only she could get her head to cooperate.

"I'm really sorry you had to hear about that," Brian says, "especially at such an awkward time." As hard as he tries not to cast another sharp glance in Jason's direction, he cannot resist.

With excruciating slowness--at least, it feels that way to Brian--she sets down her fork.

"Jason has been nothing but a great friend to me since I moved here," Kelsey says. "I trust his judgment."

Brian's posture, which until now he has done his best to hold upright, now crumbles. "I'm really sorry, Kelsey."

"So am I." She picks up her fork again and moves it between her fingers. "Trust is really important to me."

He isn't sure how to take that, but it doesn't sound promising. Nevertheless, he has more to say.

"I'm not the same person I was five years ago."

Kelsey nods, ever so slightly, but Brian cannot tell if it is a legitimate acknowledgement of what he said or just a means of placating him until she can escape a night that has taken a sharp turn into Date From Hell territory.

"If you'll give me a chance," he says, "and get to know me--not the guy Jason and his family knew back then ..."

She puts the fork down again, and this time, actually meets his gaze. "You're right."

"I am?"

"Yeah. I know Jason's looking out for me, and I appreciate that. But now that I know ... what he told me," she says, her face brightening, "you'll have to be on your absolute best behavior, right?"

Brian offers an eager nod. "Scout's honor." He pauses. "Do I get to say that if I wasn't one? I didn't even really like the kids I knew who were Scouts--"

Kelsey interrupts, but to Brian's relief, it is with a giggle. "I'll take it."


Brent drains the last of his coffee. Staring at the bottom of the styrofoam cup, he wonders how he managed to down the entire thing. He's had some awful coffee in a lot of police stations in his life, but this hospital's brew has to be some of the worst.

The doors at the other end of the waiting room swing open, and immediately Brent forgets all about the horrible coffee. He springs to his feet and rushes toward Molly.

"Is everything okay?" he asks, pulling her toward him.

She feels tense against his touch, but she allows him to wrap his arms around her.

"I'm fine," she says. "Nothing to worry about."

"Good." He draws her closer. Back at the clinic, he was consumed by fear that Molly would get herself into a situation that she couldn't fight her way out of; had he not found Tim's room at the right time, he very well could have lost both of them. Holding Molly now, knowing that she is all right, soothes his nerves even more than he expected it would.

"I'm sorry I didn't trust you," Molly says, pulling back so that she can look into his eyes. "It was stupid of me to follow you here and to go wandering around that place ..."

Her voice is shaky, and she doesn't maintain eye contact with him for more than a split-second at a time.

"I'm just glad you're okay," Brent says. He looks her over again. There is the slightest bit of swelling on her cheek, but that isn't what disturbs him. Something about her behavior has him much more concerned than any bruise ever could.

He is about to ask if everything is really all right, but the doors swing open again--and this time, a doctor pushes Tim through them, in a wheelchair.

"How is he?" Molly asks the doctor.

"He's going to need quite a bit of care," the doctor tells them, "but I'm going to give him the go-ahead to fly. I'll give you the names of a few specialists you can contact once you get back to Washington."

Tim looks up at the doctor. "Thank you," he says. Even this simple statement seems to erase every last trace of energy from his being.

"That's good news," Brent says, trying his best to sound positive, even though he knows Tim is far from out of the woods. From the looks of him, the road to recovery is going to be a long and arduous one, but this isn't the time for pessimism.

Molly reaches out toward Tim. "Come on," she says, taking her brother's hand. "Let's get you home to your family."


"Josh!" Lauren is the only one at the table comfortable enough with Josh to offer immediate admonishment for his remark. "What's the matter with you?"

"What?" he asks, shrugging and flashing a lopsided grin before etching his features into a cooler, more serious expression.

"That's totally out of line," Lauren continues, lowering her voice slightly. Jason and Courtney, meanwhile, keep their heads down, setting fixed stares on the table.

"Didn't mean to be rude," Josh says, literally scratching his head in a somewhat ridiculous attempt at sincerity. "Just pointing out the obvious awkwardness in the situation."

"Nice work," Jason mumbles.

"Hey, I said I was sorry," Josh says.

"Actually," Lauren says with a glare, "you didn't."

"I'm sure you didn't mean to stir things up, Josh," Courtney says quietly and gives his arm another squeeze. "Let's just go sit down."

It occurs to Lauren that her former best friend is probably struggling to save face, to avoid embarrassment in front of her and Jason in light of Josh's tactlessness. And this makes her even angrier at Josh, somehow. It's one thing for him to spout off his stupid opinions about her convoluted social life at work, but entirely another for him to borderline ruin her entire night out with Jay in attempt to get under her skin.

Is that what he was doing?

"We'll go in a second," Josh says dismissively. "I just wanna make sure Lauren doesn't think I meant to be so antagonistic."

"I don't think you were," Lauren says quickly. "It's fine, Josh."

"Yeah. Fine," Jason echoes.

Josh's ice-blue eyes narrow in on Lauren for another minute, daring her to look away. Right when she thinks he's going to drop another controversial remark, his face oddly softens. "Anyway, we were just saying hi. Sorry about the mess." He leads Courtney away from their table.

Jason raises an eyebrow, and she grimaces.

"See what I have to put up with everyday?"

"There's something … off about him," Jason says.

"You can say that again," Lauren says. "He says stuff like that all the time. It's so … irksome. Or something."

"Yeah," he says. "Or something. Let's just try to enjoy ourselves."

"Good idea." Lauren takes a deep breath, and in spite of herself she can't help but notice Josh still staring at her from across the room.


What do you make of the twisted dynamics between Jason, Lauren, Josh, and Courtney?
Do Kelsey and Brian still stand a chance?
How will Tim's return to King's Bay play out?
Join us in the Footprints Forum to discuss this episode!

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