Episode #346

Previously ...
- Sandy sat Courtney and Dylan down to make plans for their final pairs skating test. Later, Alex told Courtney about his nasty breakup with Dylan. Appalled, Courtney vowed to get back at Dylan.
- Trevor explained to Alex that Dylan had lied to him in order to seduce him. Alex believed him but felt he could no longer trust Trevor. The men concealed their rift from Lauren.
- Sarah brought Matt's brother, Jake, to King's Bay, in the hopes that the brothers would reconcile and Matt would finally be at peace enough with his past to move forward with Sarah.


"Mom?" Courtney Chase calls, throwing her purse and skating equipment aside with reckless abandon. After the recent string of bad luck she's had on the ice, she doesn't even feel guilty about being careless with her gear.

"Are you home?" she calls again. Nobody responds, and the house is quiet. Sometimes Courtney almost feels like she's living on her own. More and more, she finds herself thinking about moving out. After all, she's an adult now--but she hardly sees her parents as it is, despite living with them.

"Oh! Hi, honey!" Helen Chase says. She appears at the top of the stairs with a dust-covered old painting. Her face and clothes are covered in dust too, and she sneezes. "The attic is still a mess. It seems like I've been cleaning it for years now! Well, making slow progress, anyway."

Courtney laughs at the sight of her filthy mother.

"Do you think your father still wants to keep this around?" Helen asks, studying the painting--one of Don's.

Courtney shrugs, and Helen sets it aside for the time being. While Helen wipes the smudges from her cheeks and the stains from her t-shirt, Courtney grabs herself a banana and sits at the table.

"You look stressed out. Did you have a fight with Josh?" Helen asks gently, wondering about the new boy Courtney's been seeing.

"It's not Josh." Courtney shakes her head and swallows the mouthful of banana she's talking through. "It's Dylan. I'm getting so sick of his antics."

Helen sits across from Courtney. "You two haven't been very compatible together, have you?" she says, her tone disapproving when it comes to Dylan Carrington.

"Believe me, I've tried everything, but nothing works. When we skate together it's like oil and water," Courtney sighs. "It was fine when we started, but since Nationals, everything has been downhill."

She doesn't even bother telling her mother about the personality clashes they've been having lately: how upset she is with Dylan for manipulating Alex and being a general pain in the ass. "Sandy wants us to take our Senior test next month, and as soon as that's over, I'm dropping him. I've really had it with him!"

"It seems like he's really gotten under your skin."

"Like a parasite," Courtney mutters. "The sad thing is that he thinks we're such good friends. We'll see what he thinks when I quit and leave him without a partner. Maybe then he'll get the hint."

"Courtney, don't you think that's a little harsh? And what about you? You won't be able to find a partner, either. Not so late into the season ..."

"You don't even know how he is, Mom. He's just not a good person. Not at all. I'd rather sit out a season than skate with him. I'm willing to take the risk," Courtney says, chomping down on what's left of her banana. Maybe then Dylan will get what he deserves. In some small way, maybe Courtney can help show him that what goes around comes around. She heads off to lug her equipment upstairs.

Helen sighs hopelessly, pulls her rubber gloves back on, and returns to the attic.


It takes Matt Gray a moment to process what he sees in front of him.

"Jake," he says, his throat suddenly dry. "What are you doing here?"

Matt watches carefully as his brother shifts his hands to his back pockets. He half-expects Jake to vanish at any instant.

"I needed to see you," Jake says. "I think it's time the two of us had a talk."

Matt can't bring himself to respond. He cannot comprehend how--why--his brother would be here, in Sarah's apartment, waiting for him. And the woman standing by Jake's side ... It has been so long since she even crossed Matt's mind, but seeing her now, everything about that time period comes rushing back to him.

"Why?" Matt barks.

Jake sighs, taking his time. He looks to Mia and then to Sarah, who has Tori in her arms. "Do you think Matt and I could have some time alone?"

The women agree quickly and start down the hall. Matt locks eyes with Sarah, but she averts hers quickly, offering him no explanation for this. He waits until Sarah, Tori, and Mia disappear into Tori's room before speaking again.

"Why are you here?" Matt asks.

Jake's expression is somber. "Sarah got in touch with me. She was worried about you."

"It's none of her business."

Though he appears ready to fire back with a response, Jake takes a second to restrain himself. He lifts his chin, the same way Matt remembers him always having done. It's one of those things, a minor detail, that hasn't crossed Matt's mind in years, but seeing it now drops him right back in the past.

"It doesn't matter how I wound up here," Jake says, "only why. I came because I wanna talk to you."

Matt doesn't say anything. He has no idea what he is supposed to say. He has imagined this encounter so many times, but it has always been on his terms. After Nicole killed herself, Matt was the one who had to confess everything. Jake was the one who got angry, refused to see Matt, rebuffed his attempts at reconciliation. Now the roles seem reversed, somehow.

"So that's it?" Matt asks. "You're ready to put everything behind us?"


The studio is abuzz with the activity of the break that has just been called. People scatter in all directions, rushing to take care of one thing or another before it is time to reconvene. For Lauren Brooks, it is her chance to step out of the shadows, where she has been waiting for several minutes.

"Lookin' hot," she says to her older brother as she hurries over to him.

"Thanks," Trevor responds. "I'd smile or something, but I don't think I can move my face under all this makeup."

Lauren studies his face more closely. From a distance, it looked perfectly natural. In such close proximity, though, there is something almost frightening about the layers of cosmetics piled on his face.

Trevor gestures at the paper bag in her hand. "Did you bring me a present?"

"I wanted to stop by and see how the shoot was going," she says, "so I thought I'd pick up a little lunch for you."


She hands him the bag. "Turkey pesto sandwich on sourdough, fresh from Pallino's."

"You're awesome," Trevor says, sneaking a quick peek inside the bag. "I'll hide this so that I can eat it when this thing is over. I can't afford to get lynched over a sandwich."

"I think you could probably stand to eat a sandwich or two, buddy. It won't kill you."

"Try telling these Nazis that," he says. "But thanks. I appreciate it."

"No problem. The shoot's going okay?"

"It's fine, yeah. I just want to get out of here. Feels like it's taking forever."

"I noticed you didn't look too thrilled to be up there," Lauren says.

"You can only try the same shots so many ways, you know?"

She nods, but instead of pursuing the line of conversation further, she takes an abrupt turn. "Have you been feeling okay lately?"

"Yeah ..." He gives her a quizzical look, as if she might be the one who's not well.

"You've just seemed out of it," she says. She was hoping that Trevor would open up to her, even just a tiny bit. "Are you sure there's nothing bothering you?"

He hesitates and then, for no good reason, opens up the paper bag and looks at his sandwich again. "I'm fine."

"You're sure?" she asks. "When you showed up at Jason and Alex's the other day ..."

She could swear that Trevor's face immediately loses several shades of color.

"I don't have any idea what's going on," Lauren says, "if anything's going on. But I want you to be able to talk to me about ... stuff."

Trevor nods awkwardly, forcing a smile.

"We can talk more when you get home. Try to enjoy the rest of the shoot. I'm sure it'll be over soon." Lauren turns, but before she walks away, she adds, "And you'd better enjoy that sandwich."

"I will," Trevor says. "Thanks, Lauren."


Jake turns around and takes several steps away from Matt.

"I don't know," Jake admits, stopping beside the couch. "But it's something I've been thinking about for a long time. We're brothers, Matt."

"Believe me, I know. Remember how many times you threw that in my face after Nicole died?"

Jake drops his eyes downward. "Matt, you can't blame me for being so angry. I was devastated."

Matt catches himself nodding. Jake had every right to feel betrayed and to lash out at Matt. But to cut his own brother out of his life?

Matt trains a hard stare on his older brother, daring Jake to face him again. "So why now?"

"Why ever?" Jake counters. "Because we're family. We've missed out on so many years. I have a niece I didn't even know about--"

"You could've gotten in touch."

"That's what I'm doing now! Don't be difficult."

"Don't be difficult?" Matt can't believe the nerve of this man, strolling back into his life after more than a decade of coldness and expecting Matt to thank his lucky stars. "This is horseshit!"

"I thought you wanted to clear things up this whole time," Jake says, refusing to accept Matt's obstinacy.

"I did, Jake! I've never stopped wishing that we'd been able to patch things up. But do you have any clue how much shit I have put myself through because of how horribly everything turned out?"

Remorse flashes over Jake's face, but it is too fleeting. He expects this to be all on his terms, regardless of how all these years have affected Matt. That's not gonna work.

"I tried, bro," Matt spits. "I have never forgiven myself for what happened to Nicole. Ever. So if you expect to show up here and have me doing cartwheels--not gonna happen."

He flips around and cuts a deliberate path toward the door.

"Matt," Jake's rocky voice demands, but it doesn't have the desired effect. Matt yanks the door open and, without so much as flinching, storms out of the apartment.


The cordless phone pressed against her ear, Courtney flops backward onto her bed.

"I can't believe that Dylan didn't even let on that anything had happened," she says. "Like he expected me to not find out."

Josh Taylor's voice crackles through the receiver. "That's retarded. He probably knew how mad you'd get."

"Yeah, like, Alex is one of my best friends. I can't just overlook the fact that Dylan deliberately made a mess of his life."

"He sounds like a moron," Josh says.

"Dylan? I'm starting to see that. I just--God! I can't believe he would be such an ass."

"So now what? Are you gonna say something to him or wait for him to mention it?"

Courtney stares up at the ceiling of her bedroom and lets out a heavy sigh. "Not sure yet. I had an idea, but my mom was, like, appalled by it, so ..."

"What was the idea?"

She hesitates, recalling Helen's admonitions, but decides to tell him anyway. "We're supposed to take this really important test--to get qualified at the top competitive level. This is, like, the last pairs test I ever have to take. The idea was to take the test together and then start training to compete as a Senior team."

"You're just gonna dump him without taking the test?"

"No, I want to take the test with him," she explains. "That way, I'll be qualified. But I'm not gonna let on that I'm pissed at him until afterward, and then I'll break up with him."

"Wait, wait, hold it."


"You're gonna use him to take the test and then dump him? I dunno, Court, that sounds a little too evil." Josh's words trail off into a snicker.

"Shut up." She pulls herself back to a sitting position. "No, it's a big deal. Because he'll have his test--presuming we pass, which we're going to--and then he won't have a partner to compete with."

"And neither will you."

"Yeah, but ..." This thought has been circling through her head for a long time now, but this is the first time she's allowed herself to vocalize it. "I can't compete against 17-year-olds forever. Maybe it's a good thing, in a roundabout way. I can have my final test and then focus on doing something with my life."

"If that's what you wanna do, then go for it," Josh says. "Sticking it to Dylan is an added bonus."


"Hey, listen. Get off the phone, go take a shower, and get dressed. We can talk about this some more once you get here."

She pauses a moment before responding. As much as she wants to see Josh, the softness of her bed is very appealing after this morning's tough practice.

As if able to sense her hesitation, Josh adds, "C'mon, Court. I'll order pizza."

"I'm coming, I'm coming," she says, pulling herself to her feet. "See you in a little while."


Matt's fingers curl tighter and tighter around his keys, pieces of metal jutting into his skin. He only clenches his fist harder. His feet beat a steady rhythm into the pavement as he focuses his sight upon his truck.

But the rhythm changes: at first it becomes syncopated; then it is distorted into irregularity. He knows who owns the increasingly quick footsteps coming up behind him--not that he lets that on. He does his best to ignore Sarah as he continues on his way across the parking lot.

"Wait!" Sarah finally calls out. Despite himself, Matt hesitates, but he continues walking without turning around.

"Matt!" she screams, even louder. It irritates him to think that she spotted his hesitation.

She is running now, and although Matt picks up his pace, Sarah still catches up to him. She grabs him by the shoulder just as he reaches the truck.

"Leave me alone," he says, pronouncing each word distinctly.

"You can't run away like this. Not anymore."

"I can't, huh?" Matt whips around to face her. "Why, because Jake thinks it's a nice time for us to patch things up?"

"He's reaching out to you, Matt."

Matt tightens his jaw. "Then where has he been for the last, what, twelve years? Where was he when I was tearing myself apart for what happened? He didn't care about me then--"

"He did care! He was hurting--you have to understand that."

"So now that he's ready to stop hurting, I should be, too? Sorry, doesn't work like that."

"It's not like he just decided to spring this on you all of a sudden," Sarah says. "I got in touch with him. I wanted you to be able to heal, the same way you helped me with Molly--"

"Why is that any of your business?"

"Because!" She stares at him, disbelieving. The look of horror on Sarah's face gives him a strange satisfaction.

"I love you!" she says. "You were the reason I even tried to accept Molly and Brent being together. I thought if I could help you and Jake reconnect ..."

"That is some twisted logic, Sarah." Matt stuffs his hands in the pockets of his coat and, despite the gravity of the situation, lets out a rough little laugh.

Sarah steps closer to him. He unlocks the driver's door.

"Don't do this," she pleads.

Matt opens the door. "Watch me."

He climbs inside the truck. Sarah doesn't move, so he slams the door and turns the key.

The rickety engine clears its throat through the autumn chill. Matt catches Sarah's gaze through the window. No one's gonna tell him how he's supposed to feel.

Sarah crosses her arms across her chest as Matt puts the truck in reverse and pulls out of the spot.


Is Matt overreacting, or is he justified in not accepting Jake?
Will things go as Courtney plans?
What did you think of Lauren's conversation with her brother?
Come on over to the Footprints Forum to talk about this episode!

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