Episode #345

Previously ...
- To retaliate against Alex, Dylan lied to Trevor and seduced him.
- Tim and Molly were checked out at a hospital in Vermont, and the doctor gave the okay for Tim to fly back to King's Bay.
- Jason pulled Kelsey aside during her date with Brian to warn her about Brian's past misdeeds. Nevertheless, Kelsey agreed to give Brian a chance.
- At Sarah's request, Jake Gray arrived in King's Bay looking to make amends with his brother, Matt.


The Zamboni's whirring echoes off the arena's walls as the machine travels back and forth over the rink, leaving a trail of fresh ice in its wake. The morning's sessions have concluded, and the skaters are busy removing their skates and packing up their bags until tomorrow.

For the moment, however, Courtney Chase and Dylan Carrington have left their skates sitting on one of the benches, beside their opened bags and scattered belongings. The pair follows Sandy James toward the small referees' room at the back of the arena. She unlocks the door and lets them in; as they sit down, Sandy closes the door, and the Zamboni's buzz is reduced to a distant hum.

"It'll be easier to talk without the kids running around everywhere," Sandy says as she withdraws a folded sheet of paper from her coat pocket.

Courtney watches as Sandy unfolds the sheet and studies its contents. Finally Court says, "I really think we could do the one next month."

Sandy continues to analyze the possible test dates, and her head begins to nod slowly. "Yeah, so do I. I just want to be sure that you're ready for this test. It would be horrible to put you out for a Senior test without having a solid program together."

"Let's just add 30 seconds to the program we have now, take the test, and then worry about a new program," Dylan says, his voice already taking on an argumentative edge.

Sandy, accustomed to far more obnoxious behavior than this from her years of dealing with skaters, responds firmly: "We don't want this to look careless. You guys need to look like a serious, competitive Senior pair."

Courtney agrees, even though she just wants to get the damn test out of the way already. But they also don't want to over-prepare for what should be a very achievable test.

"I'm worried that we're gonna spend too much time getting ready for the test," she says, "and not enough time actually training for next season."

She can tell that Sandy agrees. "Then let's modify the program we have, clean it up a little, and get this test out there."

Courtney and Dylan share a look of excitement. Finally, after all these years of training--their final pairs test. After this, they will be qualified at the highest possible level.

"You guys can do this," Sandy says, full of confidence. "I can't wait."


Outside, it is a pleasant autumn day, the kind that seems specially designed for a stroll through the park. Inside the apartment, however, it might as well be the dead of winter. Sarah Fisher cannot shake the chill that has plagued her all night and through the morning.

"I'm so glad you came," she says to Jake Gray. It must be the fourteenth time she has said it since she picked him--and Mia Davich--up from the airport last night, but she feels that she can't say it enough. Jake really does seem to be her last hope of getting through to Matt.

"This has been a long time coming," Mia says, nursing the cup of coffee that Sarah brought her a few minutes ago.

Sarah once again tries to figure out why Mia even accompanied Jake to King's Bay, but she abandons the line of thought quickly. Having carried around so much grief for her friend Nicole for so many years has obviously weighed heavily upon the woman, who seems nearly as enthusiastic as Sarah to see the Gray brothers reunited.

Jake nods his head in agreement. "If you hadn't called me, I might not've ever gotten in touch with Matt. But it needs to happen."

"I just hope this helps you both," Sarah begins, but before she can complete the thought, she hears a crash from the kitchen.

"Tori, what are you doing in the kitchen?" she yells out.

"La la!" comes a sing-song voice from the other room. Sarah knows that her daughter heard her, but the chances of an actual response are slim to none. At least she isn't hurt.

"Did you finish all your cereal?"


"And drink all your milk?"

"I drank it all up!" the little girl yells back, as if Sarah should already know that. "I want more!"

"That kid is like an alleycat," Sarah tells Jake and Mia. "She drinks more milk than any kid I've ever met, I swear."

She stands. "I'll be right back."

She goes to the kitchen, where she finds that the crashing noise was nothing more than an empty Tupperware falling from the table to the floor. She picks it up, pours Victoria another glass of milk, and returns to the living room.

"I wish he'd just get here already," Sarah says as she sits back down. When she contacted Jake to make these plans, she thought that bringing him to town without Matt's knowledge might be best. That way, Matt would not have the chance to shoot down the idea. But now that Jake is here and Matt is on his way over, totally unaware, it seems like it might've been better to give Matt some warning.

As if reading Sarah's mind, Mia says, "Don't worry, everything will go fine. Jake and Matt will be able to tie up all these loose ends and make amends. And then everyone'll feel much better."

"I hope so." Sarah sighs. She considers her coffee, but it doesn't look the least bit appealing. "Matt has just helped me work out so many things in my life. I feel like I owe it to him to help him do the same."

"He wants this to work out," Jake says, "even if he won't admit it. It's past time."

Sarah purses her lips and claps her hands together. She can only hope.


The quiet rumble of the airplane's engines creates a steady wall of background noise, and Molly Fisher is abundantly grateful for it. She doesn't think she could bear to sit in this seat for hours and hours with nothing but silence--raw, uncomfortable, unsympathetic silence--all around her.

Still, she cannot wait for the flight back to King's Bay to be over. She strums her fingers along the edge of the book on which she has not been able to focus for more than a minute at a time. The pages fan, skimming after her fingers. She can't remember a single word that she read on any of them.

Molly drops back against the headrest and rolls her head sideways. Brent sits beside her, and as far as she can tell, he is just as preoccupied as she is.

As if reading her mind, Brent says, "I just want to get home so we can deal with this, you know?"

"Yeah." Molly glances down at her book again, runs her thumb over one of its corners. "I'm glad you called my parents to give them a heads-up. It's better that everyone is prepared for this."

Brent nods, apparently consumed by thought.

"I can't imagine how they're going to begin explaining everything about Ryan--and Claire--to him," Molly says. "I hope he's strong enough to handle it."

"He has to handle it," Brent says glumly.

"Is he still sleeping?"

"He was when I checked on him less than five minutes ago, so ... probably." Brent sighs and then reaches over to take Molly's hand. "Mol, are you sure everything's all right?"

"Yeah," she says, a bit too quickly. "Don't worry about me."

"You've been acting weird since we left the hospital."

She stares at him, her mouth hanging open. "Brent, I just found out that my brother is alive, and he's not in terrific shape, and there are so many things that he doesn't know--"

"All right, all right. Point taken." He seems to accept that and, still holding her hand, relaxes in his seat.

Molly turns to look out the window. She will deal with this when they get home; she really will. But right now, Tim is the priority, and his situation comes first.


Diane Bishop cocks her head to one side and draws a calming breath. "Priscilla, I really don't think that's feasible."

"I don't know, Ms. Bishop," the doe-eyed intern says. She shakes her head, as if aware of some greater truth that has escaped Diane completely.

"I really need to be getting back to work, anyway," Diane says. She slips away before the young woman can lob another hackneyed business plan at her.

Diane hurries a few doors down the hall and ducks into her office. She is about to close the door behind her but pauses when she notices that she has a visitor.

Brian Hamilton looks up from the stack of papers in his lap. "I was wondering where you were."

"Being assaulted by that crazy intern," Diane says, shutting the door. "If she comes at me with one more plan to revolutionize the publishing industry ..."

Brian's eyes widen with recognition. "I know! Yesterday she cornered me with some idea about publishing all our books digitally. I'm about two seconds away from drugging that herbal tea she's always carrying around."

Diane touches a finger to her chin. "That's not a bad idea."

"So," Brian says as Diane makes her way around her desk, "my date with Kelsey almost crashed and burned."

"Did her mom call in the middle of the date to have her come home and finish her science project?"

"You are so funny, Diane. Really. But no. We went to Windmills, and everything was fine until--you are not going to believe this--Molly's brother, Jason, comes in, and he knows Kelsey."

Diane attempts for the briefest of moments to maintain a straight face, but the effort fails miserably. A laugh bursts forth, followed by another and then another.

"That is too ridiculous for words!" she says. "So let me guess--"

"He took her aside and warned her about me. While I was sitting there, he just took her off to the side and casually told her what a horrible person I am and blah blah blah. Can you believe that mess with Molly is still coming back to bite me in the ass?"

"Did she walk out on you?" Diane asks, leaning forward. Brian gets the impression that she hopes that's the way the story will go.

"No, I convinced her to give me a chance to prove that I'm not some horrible sleaze. But that kid almost ruined everything."

Diane drums her perfectly manicured nails along the edge of her desk.

"What?" Brian asks.

"It just seems," Diane says, with painstaking slowness, "that maybe this is a sign. Maybe this thing is doomed from the get-go."

"Don't be ridiculous." Brian shifts in his chair, struggling to find a comfortable position. "I've really enjoyed getting to know Kelsey so far. And despite what you or Jason Fisher or anyone else might have to say, I think we really have a shot at making something good of this."


Courtney offers a pleasant smile as she takes her coffee from the barista. She grabs a cardboard sleeve for the scalding-hot cup and then makes her way over to the small table where Alex Marshall is already seated.

"This smells so good," she says, inhaling the pumpkin spice-scented steam. The coffee is too hot to drink, but the smell alone is enough to wake her senses.

Alex blows on his own coffee. "Yeah, I really could use the caffeine today. I feel like I'm sleepwalking."

"Did you stay up late last night?"

"I went to bed early," Alex says. "I don't think I slept for more than fifteen minutes at a time, though."

Courtney makes a face. "Is everything okay?"

"Dylan hasn't said anything to you?"

She studies him warily, as if he is about to spring some kind of colossal trick on her. "No ..."

Alex looks away, off at another set of people whom he's sure are having a less sticky conversation.

"We broke up," he says. "At least, I'm pretty sure we did."

"You don't know?"

"Well, we never said we were breaking up, but that was definitely the main point."

Courtney racks her brain for some hint that she might've missed. "Dylan didn't say anything."

"He probably didn't want you to know," Alex says. It is another indication of what a manipulator Dylan is, and he gives himself another mental scolding for having been such a fool.

"He had to know you'd say something."

"Yeah, but it's ... it was ugly." Alex sips his coffee. "I confronted him about that Leo guy."

"He cheated on you?"

"He said he hadn't--he said it happened before we got together. But then he tried to turn it around and accused me of cheating on him."

"Whoa." Courtney starts to speak, stops herself, and then gathers the nerve to continue. "You didn't, did you? I mean--he didn't have any proof of it, right?"

"No! He just tried to make this whole case that because I was spending so much time with Trevor, I was probably the one who was cheating."

"That's ridiculous."

"I know! It turned into this huge argument, so I left, and then ..." Alex hesitates. He isn't sure how much he should tell her.

But Courtney watches him intently, awaiting the rest of the story.

"So," Alex continues with a deep breath, "later on, I went over to talk to Trevor, and I find Dylan there with him. And, like, it was pretty obvious that something had happened between the two of them."

Now Courtney looks completely lost.

"Dylan went to him with this sob story about how I'd cheated on him," Alex explains. "And he told Trevor that I had made some remarks about wanting to hook up with Trevor just for the challenge of it or something."

"What a bastard!" Courtney tries to figure out how Dylan, whom she has considered a good friend for quite some time, could have done such horrible things to an even better friend. "Alex, I'm sorry about this. If I hadn't set you guys up--"

"Court, please, that's ridiculous. You were as in the dark as I was about what an asshole Dylan really is."

"Yeah, but ..." She doesn't want to believe that Dylan is such a horrible person, but she has no reason to doubt Alex's word. "I'm sorry it turned out so badly."

"Thanks." Alex takes another, longer drag of his coffee. The hot liquid warms his throat, and he can almost feel the caffeine shooting to his brain, bringing him closer to alertness.

As much as Courtney would like to accept his assurance that everything is okay, she can't do it. Dylan has no right to mistreat one of her closest friends and expect to get away with it.

And he won't.


Jake and Mia continue waiting in the living room, but the tension has gotten to be too much for Sarah. She is on her feet, moving through the apartment, cleaning up here and there but unable to stay in one spot for too long.

"Tori, is this your sweatshirt?" she calls out. A moment later, Sarah appears at the end of the hallway, holding a very small, powder blue sweatshirt.

Victoria looks up from the Barbie house that she has set up on the living room floor. "No."

"Whose is it?"

The little girl shrugs and returns to her play.

"Is it one of your friends'?" Sarah asks, bringing the sweatshirt into the living room.

Tori continues playing, not even acknowledging her mother for a few seconds. Finally she looks up and says, "I think it's Fee's."

"Which one?"

"It's Fee C's," Tori says with a confidence that Sarah isn't sure she can trust.

"You're sure? It isn't Fee M's?"

Tori shakes her head. "Nope. Fee C's."

"All right," Sarah says with a sigh. She folds up the tiny sweatshirt and then turns to Jake and Mia. "Tori had a sleepover the other night, with her two friends, the Fees."

"Fee C and Fee M," Tori adds without looking up from her toys.

"Fiona and Felicia. For some reason, they both decided to go by Fee."

"I had a friend named Felicia when I was a little girl," Mia says, catching Tori's eye when the child glances up. "She and I learned to ride our bikes together."

"Daddy said he's gonna teach me to ride a two-wheeler," Tori announces proudly.

"Wow, that's pretty exciting!" Mia responds with a huge smile. Tori nods in agreement.

Sarah notices that Jake appears as though he wants to say something but is forcing himself to keep quiet. He has been very reserved around Victoria since the moment he set foot in the apartment; Sarah gets the impression that he isn't quite comfortable being an uncle to Matt's daughter until Matt himself has let Jake back into his life.

She can't exactly blame him--she would like to have this encounter be over as quickly as possible, too. The pins and needles and the weakness in her stomach have become nearly unbearable.

"Can I get you guys anything else?" Sarah asks. "If you're hungry--"

Before she can finish the offer, there is a knock on the door. Tori scrambles to her feet, oblivious to the fact that the tension in the room just multiplied exponentially.

"Daddy's here!" Tori shouts, rushing to the door.

Sarah and Jake share a look before she hurries to the door. Tori stands by her side as she opens the door.

"Hi," Sarah says, immediately trying to read Matt. Is he in a good mood? Does he seem any more receptive to her?

"Hey." Almost instantly, Matt crouches down to scoop up their daughter. "And how are you, you little nut?"

"I'm good!" Tori says, planting a kiss on Matt's cheek. "I had a sleepover."

"I heard. Was it fun?" He maintains an almost uncomfortable focus on Victoria, as if he is determined not to make eye contact with Sarah.

"A lot of fun!" Tori begins rattling off all the minute details of the evening, and Matt continues to hold her as he comes inside.

Unable to think of any other way to do this, Sarah simply says, "There's someone here who wants to see you."

"Who?" Matt sets Victoria down, and before he can stand back up, he sees his brother in the living room.

Jake rises from the couch. "Hi, Matt."

"Jake." Matt's tone is flat. "What are you doing here?"

"I needed to see you," Jake says, shoving his hands in the back pockets of his jeans. "I think it's the time the two of us had a talk."


Will Matt be receptive to Jake?
What does Courtney have in mind for Dylan?
Could Diane be just a little bit jealous of Kelsey and Brian?
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