Episode #347

Previously ...
- Having received clearance to fly from a doctor in Vermont, Tim flew back to King's Bay with Molly and Brent.
- Sarah brought Matt to her apartment to see his brother, Jake, whom Sarah had flown into town. Instead of reconciling their differences, though, the Gray brothers had another falling-out. Matt blamed Sarah for stirring up old trouble.


Sarah Fisher turns off the engine of her Jeep Liberty and unbuckles her seatbelt. Instead of getting out of the car, though, she throws her head against the back of the seat and lets out a low, exasperated sigh.

She should have seen this coming. Bringing Jake to King's Bay without telling Matt was a huge mistake, and all it has accomplished is an even deeper rift between her and Matt. She had been hoping that, after working through things with his brother, Matt would be more amenable to working on their relationship; now she realizes she'll be lucky if they even speak again.

As it has been doing all day, Sarah's mind goes to Tori. She is constantly caught in the middle of her parents' back-and-forth relationship, and as much as both Sarah and Matt have worked to keep their problems away from their daughter, Tori is eventually going to figure out what's going on. Sarah has been telling herself that the divide between herself and Matt is only a temporary thing, but after today's blowup, it seems terrifyingly permanent.

And now her family wants to see her. She can't think of anything she has done lately to warrant being chewed out, but she can't shake the feeling that they are going to do just that. She wouldn't put it past them to take Matt's side in this whole mess, actually.

Nevertheless, she opens the door and steps out of the car. Pausing to check her reflection in the window of the driver's door, she cringes at how tired she looks. Mere hours ago, this day was full of promise, and now it has become an unmitigated disaster.

She gathers her bearings and approaches her parents' front door. As she walks, she pulls the sleeves of her sweater down over her hands, shielding them from the autumn chill. She rings the doorbell, and barely a second passes before the door opens.

"Hey," Jason says. She can tell from the way his eyes land on her and then dart away that something major is going on.

"Hey," Sarah says, entering the house. Jason closes the door, and Sarah sees her parents standing across the room, looking exceptionally tense.

"What's going on?" she asks. She tries to read them, to no avail. But she knows that it has to be something significant.

Paula begins to respond, but the words are slow in coming, and Sarah's nerves get the better of her.

"Did something happen?" she asks, glancing from her mother to Bill to Jason. "Where are Molly and Ryan?"

"Molly's coming," Bill says. "And Ryan ..."

Before Bill can find a way to say whatever it is he is attempting to say, the front door opens again. Sarah snaps around, and she gets the feeling that every bit of energy in the room is suddenly focused on the door.

Molly steps into the house, unable to keep the joy off her face.

Oh my God, Sarah thinks. She and Brent--they got married?!

A second later, though, Brent comes in behind her--and he isn't alone. Sarah blinks, trying to clear her vision, wondering if she might be seeing things.

But she isn't. Sitting in the wheelchair that comes through the door, being pushed by Brent, is her older brother.


Steel clangs against steel as Matt Gray sets down his spatula. Thankfully, business is slow tonight, so he doesn't have to rush nearly as much as he expected he might. The reduced pace of the kitchen also means there are fewer opportunities for him to make mistakes, and for that, he is immensely grateful. On the other hand, being busy might've forced him to focus harder on his work and less on what happened earlier ...

Matt picks up the tray in front of him and slides it into the nearby oven. He wonders if maybe he was too harsh toward Jake and Sarah earlier. He was only at Sarah's for a few minutes, and in that time, he managed to ruin his day and carve fresh wounds into both relationships.

What'd they expect, though? He thought he was going over to pick up Victoria, and suddenly he was faced with the brother he hasn't seen in more than a decade? He can't understand how either of them thought that was a good idea.

And not only that. They expected it to go their way. They expected Matt to be ready to patch things up with Jake and to thank Sarah for making it possible. Nevermind that Jake rebuffed how many of Matt's efforts to make amends, or that Jake never made the effort to get in touch with him after Matt left Pennsylvania.

Matt shoves the oven door closed with a bit too much force. Instinctively he glances around, hoping that no one noticed. From what he can tell, no one did.

But when he turns back to the counter, Jennie Burkle is beside him, gathering up several plates that he has finished preparing.

"That grandma out there is psycho," the young waitress mutters. "She's all telling me how she never eats beef anymore because she's scared of Mad Cow Disease, like I care ..."

Jennie trails off as she notices that Matt has barely heard a word she's said.

"You look like you're in a good mood," she says. Matt shrugs, trying to busy himself, but he knows he isn't doing a very effective job of hiding his distraction.

"You okay?" Jennie asks.

"I'm fine. Just ... not the best day."

"Ugh, tell me about it. I got my Visa bill in the mail today, and I don't have a clue how I'm gonna pay it." Jennie takes a moment to balance the plates along her arm. "You're done in like half an hour, right?"

Matt nods as he wipes the counter.

"I'm gonna have a drink when my shift is over," she says. "Come join me at the bar. You look like you could use it."

Without waiting for his response, she heads out of the kitchen to deliver the plates. Matt sighs and slings the towel over his shoulder.


Paula cannot move. When they received the phone call from Brent, explaining that Tim was alive and on his way home, she immediately began picturing how this encounter would go. There are so many things she wants to say and so many feelings she has to express--but right now, she cannot remember a single one of them.

"Hi, everyone," Tim says through a weak laugh. Clearly he is in just as much shock as the rest of the family.

Wide-eyed, Jason shakes his head. "This is insane! You--how are you--"

"Get over here," Tim says, and a moment later, the brothers are embracing.

Paula watches her sons together, and somehow, the sight of Jason and Tim together makes this much more real. Her son truly is alive, back home, where he belongs.

Bill appears just as awestruck as Paula, but he takes slow steps toward Tim. Father and son lock eyes.

"My God," Bill says slowly, reaching out and taking Tim's hand. "Tim ..."

"Dad." As weak and as pale as Tim looks, joy is absolutely radiating from him right now. "Dad!"

Bill stoops over and wraps his arms around his oldest child.

Sarah's hands cover her mouth, and she glances from Tim to Paula to Molly for some kind of explanation. "I don't understand. How is he ..."

"When we found Stan Lincoln's body," Brent explains, "we found a slip of paper with two names scrawled on it. One of them turned out to be a doctor who runs a clinic in Vermont."


"Yeah. We had reason to believe the doctor might have some connection to Nick Moriani, so I flew out there to check the place out. That's where we found Tim."

"The other name Stan was carrying around," Molly explains, "that was the alias Tim was being kept under. Tom Clayton."

There are a million follow-up questions perched on Sarah's lips, but she knows this isn't the time to grill Brent about the details. She can do that later, in private. For the moment, her brother is here, and that's all that matters.

She rushes forward and, like her brother and father before her, throws her arms around Tim.

Still unable to move, Paula watches them. They lost Tim. She has done her best to accept that. Not a day goes by when she doesn't think about him or feel that gaping space inside herself that she has felt since the day he was lost, but she has finally gotten to the point where thoughts of Tim don't dominate every minute of her day. And now ...

He's really here. In front of her.

"Oh, Tim!" She finally moves toward him, careful step after careful step, reaching her hand out long before she is close enough to touch him.

His face lights up. "Mom ..."

Their hands meet, and Paula feels a weak tug pulling her closer. She stands in front of her son, looking down upon him. She never thought she would see him again.

"You're really here," she says, bending over. He reaches up and throws his arms around her.

Paula tries to savor the moment, but it doesn't seem like reality. She doesn't think that it ever will.

"Oh, honey," she says, finally rising again.

Tim smiles at her, but his gaze wanders past her, over her shoulder, and becomes stuck there. Paula turns to follow it.

Standing at the bottom of the staircase, her attention focused completely on the wheelchair on the other side of the room, is Claire.


As he approaches the bar, Matt resists the urge to take his car keys from his pocket and dart out the door. The easiest thing to do right now would be to bolt from the restaurant, hole up in his apartment, and not come out until it's absolutely necessary. That, or go do something extremely stupid. In comparison, letting a coworker see what a wreck he is--well, that probably isn't so bad.

Jennie spots him and gestures for him to take the seat beside her. He sits slowly, suddenly aware that the day's stress has infiltrated every last muscle in his body. He orders a beer and then drapes his arms over the bar.

"So what's going on with you?" Jennie asks.


"Yeah, really looks like nothing. I get that stressed out over nothing all the time." She takes a sip of her Cosmopolitan, probably waiting for Matt to respond. When he doesn't, she adds, "Is it more stuff between you and Bill's daughter?"

He contemplates whether or not he wants to let the conversation go there, but finally he nods.

"Not that it's any of my business," she says, "but it seems like you guys have some kinda drama going on more often than you're happy. That's not--I mean, it isn't really healthy."


The bartender sets Matt's beer down in front of him, and Matt thanks him with a nod.

"What happened?" Jennie asks. "I mean, if you feel like talking about it."

Matt downs a gulp of the beer. "More of the same. Sarah and I, we don't see eye-to-eye on a lotta stuff."

"So you had a fight?"

"Sorta." He draws a deep breath and holds it in his lungs for several seconds before releasing it. "She did something without asking me, even though it wasn't really her call to make, and she expected me to just go with it. That's not how it's supposed to work, you know?"

"That's totally not fair of her."

"Exactly. Then I'm the bad guy 'cause I get mad about it."

Jennie cups her hands around her martini glass. "Tell me about what happened."

Matt hesitates. He has no intention of sharing the whole story with anyone; if he had his way, Sarah still wouldn't know about Nicole. But he can still talk about Jake. It strikes him that the only other person he can really talk to in this whole town is Bill, and considering the circumstances, that isn't an option he wants to face.

"All right," he agrees before launching into his story.


The living room has never seemed so enormous to Claire. She knows it shouldn't; after all this time, a few yards of carpet are all that stand between her and Tim. Yet, for some reason, crossing the room suddenly seems impossible.

Tim is the one to make the first move. His gaze intent upon her, he wheels forward, his smile broadening as he nears her. Claire steps down from the final stair and takes a single step toward him.

"I thought I'd never see you again." She has to force the words past a gasp. "Tim ..."

Wordlessly, he closes the gap between them. He reaches out a hand, and she takes it in hers. He feels fragile, as if gripping even his hand too tightly might break him. His skin is several shades lighter than Claire remembers it being; it is almost translucent, which makes him look even weaker.

"You're even more beautiful than I remembered," he says, slowly drawing her nearer.

Crying hasn't even crossed her mind--she is too shocked--but the minute Tim says that, a rush of tears swells in her eyes.

She runs her fingers over his. "You're really back."

"And I'm not going anywhere," he says, "ever again."

She moves closer. The curling tips of his hair, which is longer and wilder than Tim ever kept it, brush against her face. Her lips touch upon Tim's cheek and linger there. It really is him.

This is the man she chose to spend her life with, the man she prayed so many times would return to her. She never thought it would happen. But now that he's here, she knows: this is how it was meant to be.

"I am so lucky," Tim says, his breathing heavy.

Claire places her hand softly upon his face. "So am I."


What did you think of Tim's reunion with his family?
How will his return affect each of the Fishers?
Is Matt justified in being angry with Sarah?
Pay a visit to the Footprints Forum to share your thoughts!

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