Episode #354

Previously ...
- Sarah was hired by Molly's colleague, Julian St. John, to investigate his wife's potential infidelity.
- In spite of Jason's warnings to Kelsey, she agreed to give Brian a chance to prove himself to her.
- Trevor visited Alex on Christmas Eve with a present. Alex initially softened toward him but recoiled when he had renewed doubts about Trevor's trustworthiness.


"Sorry about the mess," Brian Hamilton tells Kelsey Barker as he ushers her inside his apartment. He closes the door and then scurries to organize the magazines spread over the coffee table.

"It's really not messy at all," Kelsey says, surveying the place. Brian knows that it probably isn't as bad as he thinks, but he hates for anyone to see the apartment with clutter.

"I'm still in the middle of unpacking. It always takes me a day or two to get fully organized."

"I'm the same way."

Noticing that Kelsey is still standing by the door, Brian gestures toward the couch.

"Have a seat," he says. "Can I get you something to drink? Soda? Water? A cosmo?"

Kelsey responds with a laugh. "Brian, it's eleven in the morning."


"Water would be fine," she says, taking a seat on the cushy, blue sofa. "And you can calm down, seriously."

He goes into the kitchen but continues talking to her over the counter that divides the two rooms. "So how was your trip? You had a good Christmas?"

"It was really nice, especially being back in Whistler. I didn't realize how much I've missed it."

Brian pulls two glasses from the cupboard and fills them from the water dispenser on his refrigerator door.

"It's hard being someplace new," he says, "especially if it's the first time you're away from your family."

He glances over his shoulder at her and finds her shrugging with embarrassment.

"It's sort of dorky, but yeah," she says. "It was really comforting to be at home for a few days. How was your Christmas?"

"Good. Kind of quiet, which was exactly what I was hoping for. It was just my parents, my sister, and me for the holiday."

Brian returns with the two glasses of water. He hands one to Kelsey and sits down on the sofa, taking care not to sit too close or too far away.

"Did you get to spend lots of time with your family?" he asks before taking a long gulp of his water.

"Yeah. It was my mom, my brother, and me for Christmas Eve, and then we went to my grandparents' for Christmas day. I got to catch up with all the eccentric relatives, so that should hold me 'til ... I dunno, next Christmas or so."

Brian pauses to consider his next question. He doesn't want to offend Kelsey, but he also wants to know more about her. He decides to take the risk.

"I don't think I've ever heard you mention your father ..."

Thankfully, Kelsey takes the lead. "I don't really have much contact with him. My mom divorced him when we were little, and he pops in and out of our lives as he feels like."

"Sorry about that," Brian says, unsure if it's even the correct response.

She shakes her head. "Don't be. This sounds horrible, but we're probably better off without him. The rest of us are really close, anyway."

"That's what really matters."

"It's still a little weird having it just be the three of us, though," she says, her voice softening. "It still feels like my sister's going to walk through the door any minute."

"You have a sister?"

"Yeah. Had a sister, I should say. She ..." Kelsey appears to have trouble even completing her statement. "... died."

"Wow, I'm really sorry. It sounds like you miss her a lot."

"I do, yeah. Cimmy and I were really close." She pauses, takes a sip of her water, and then appears to perk up. "I don't wanna get into that right now, though. No need to drag the mood down."

"I'm more than happy to listen," Brian offers, and he means it. But before Kelsey can say anything further--if she even intends to--the doorbell rings.

He doesn't have a clue who it might be, but he goes to the door anyway.

"Maybe it's a late Christmas present," Kelsey says hopefully. "That's what I've been hoping every time there's a UPS truck by my place."

Grinning, Brian opens the door. What he finds is no present, that's for sure.

"Good morning," Diane Bishop greets, her full lips stretched in a broad smile.


Alex Marshall enters the living room to the sounds of his roommate laughing hysterically.

"What's so funny?"

Jason holds up the book that he has been lying on the couch reading. "You have gotta read this. It's so damn hilarious."

Alex recognizes the book--America: The Book, from the writers of "The Daily Show."

"I've been meaning to pick that up," he says. "Did you get it for Christmas?"

"Yeah, Molly got it for me. You can read it when I'm done with it. You'll love it."

Alex ducks into the kitchen, where he grabs a can of soda. When he returns, Jason is sitting up on the couch; the book is still open beside him, but his attention has moved elsewhere.

"What are you doing for New Year's?" Jason asks.

"Not sure," Alex admits with a shrug. "I'm still in Christmas mode."

"Did you have a good time at Courtney's?"

"Yeah. Mrs. Chase's sister came with her husband, and of course, they made this enormous meal. It was really relaxing."

"We were so lazy on Christmas day," Jason says. "We all got dressed up and excited for Christmas Eve, then totally crashed the next day."

Alex's soda can hisses as he pops it open.

"How'd you do on Christmas Eve?" Jason asks.

"Sorta crappy," Alex admits.

"Why? You totally should've come over to my parents'."

"I didn't want to intrude or anything ..."

"Diane was there! If that's not intruding, I don't know what is," Jason says. "What happened on Christmas Eve?"

Alex's mouth hovers over his soda, uncertain about continuing.

Finally he explains, "Trevor showed up here, with a present. He wanted to talk about the whole Dylan thing."

"That doesn't sound too crappy," Jason counters.

"It didn't exactly go well."

"Why not?"

"Because," Alex says, "as much as Trevor might want to wipe the slate clean, I can't do that--and I don't know if I'll ever be able to."


Sarah Fisher scans the coffee house as she steps through its door. It is busier than usual, but she expected as much in the days between Christmas and New Year's.

Despite the thick crowd, it takes her only a few seconds to locate her target. After catching his eye and waving, she negotiates her way to the counter. She receives her drink with surprising speed and then embarks upon another journey--to the table where Julian St. John is seated.

They exchange greetings while Sarah takes a seat. Julian has a few papers spread before him on the small table. From what Sarah can see, they're printouts of columns and numbers, the sort of things that makes her eyes cross.

"Sneaking in a little bit of work?" she asks as she settles in.

Julian gathers up the papers. "Yeah. It's crunch time, what with it being the end of the year. There are a lot of loose ends that I need to tie up by this weekend."

"What do you do, exactly, if you don't mind my asking?"

"I'm in the fashion industry. I oversee finances for a design firm that opened this year--"

"It's not Objection, is it?" Sarah asks, leaning forward.

"Actually, it is." Julian appears a bit puzzled by her sudden, extreme interest.

"My sister works there. She's a designer."

She watches as Julian does the math, so to speak, in his mind. She can see the exact moment when the Fisher connection clicks.

"Your sister is Molly Fisher?"

"Yeah!" Sarah is tempted to point out that her enthusiasm has far more to do with the coincidence itself than with her sister, but she figures that is better left unmentioned right now. "Don't worry, I won't mention anything to her about working with you."

"I appreciate it. What a small world, though." Julian tucks his papers into a leather portfolio. "On to more relevant matters ... What is it that you wanted to discuss?"

"Well," Sarah begins slowly, pausing to sip at her coffee, "even with all the time I've spent doing surveillance and looking into things, I've come up with nothing concrete."


"Nothing that would be admissible in a divorce. If your wife really is having an affair, she's being incredibly discreet--moreso than any person I've ever investigated, that's for sure."

Julian folds his hands together. "But you've seen her with Gavin Sommers, correct?"

"They've spent time together, yeah. But that amounts to a friendship, and while it's a perfectly plausible reason for the rift in your marriage, it's a far cry from any proof of infidelity."

"I'm convinced that something deeper is going on between them," Julian says through a sigh.

"I understand that, and I'm not saying that you're wrong. I have a log of the time I've spent so far--" She reaches into her purse and withdraws the folded sheet of paper, which she hands to him. "--and I'll continue to investigate if you want me to, but I thought an update was in order."

"I appreciate it," he says distractedly as he scans the sheet. "I absolutely would like you to continue, though. I'll be traveling for business in the next few weeks, and I'd imagine that would be the most likely time for Margo to slip up."

Sarah agrees with a nod. "I promise, if your wife is having an affair, I'll find proof of it."


"Hi, Diane," Brian says, shifting his weight from one foot to the other, then back again. "What's going on?"

"There's something I need to talk to you about." She shoots into the apartment, nearly bowling Brian over in the process. He steps out of the way in the nick of time.

It is only once Diane is inside that she spots Kelsey.

"Oh, hi," Diane says, her voice dripping with false sweetness. Turning around, she mutters to Brian, "Was the sandbox busy or something?"

"Is something wrong?" he asks, pointedly ignoring her dig at Kelsey. "Where's Sam?"

"She's with the Fishers. With Tim being home and all, I figured she should spend some time over there."

"So nothing's wrong?"

"No. I just--" Diane pauses, and Brian catches the look she throws at Kelsey. "I have a proposition for you, that's all."

"What is it?"

As soon as the question escapes his mouth, Brian shifts his gaze toward Kelsey. She looks uncomfortable being in Diane's presence, and suddenly, he feels very bad for her.

"I'm sort of busy right now," he adds, hoping that Diane will take the hint.

Diane waves away his excuse. "This will only take a minute. Listen to this: Molly Fisher is throwing this enormous party on New Year's Eve. She and Brent are engaged, so they've decided to combine that celebration with New Year's."

"They're engaged?!"

"I know. They're indestructible--that, or incredibly stubborn. Either way, I'm invited to the party, because Sarah wants me to go." Diane tosses another look in Kelsey's direction, this one even nastier than the last. "I was hoping you'd be interested in coming with me, Brian. Should keep things from getting too boring."

"I don't know," he says as he stuffs his hands into his pockets.

"Come on, it'll be fun," Diane urges him. "They're having this 'black and white' theme--you're only supposed to wear those colors. And there will be plenty of people to make fun of."

Brian flashes back to Kelsey, who is doing her best to appear as though she isn't listening. She holds her water glass between her hands, with her elbows propped up on her knees as she stares at an issue of Time magazine.

"Oh, Brian, you know you want to go," Diane says. She takes his hand and squeezes it. "Drinks and dancing and mocking--"

Brian jerks his hand away from her. "I can't."


"I have plans," he tells her, his voice gaining in confidence with each word. "With Kelsey."

Kelsey looks up in surprise, but Diane is clearly even more shocked.

"You're turning down a gala affair?" Diane asks in disbelief.

"Yep." Brian nods and even puffs out his chest a little bit. "I am. Kelsey and I are going to do something special that night."

Diane stares at him, as though she expects him to give up the act at any moment. With every second that he stands his ground, her eyes bug out a little more.

Brian makes his way across the room and stands beside the couch, where Kelsey is still seated, though her attention is now clearly fixed upon him.

"Sorry, Diane," he says. He finds himself taking a strange pleasure in Diane's dejection.

She pulls herself together, though, and an instant later, she is standing in the open doorway.

"That's fine," she tells Brian, her tone overly casual. "I just thought I'd see if you wanted to tag along. You kids have fun on your little date."

In grand Diane tradition, she sweeps out of the apartment, pulling the door closed behind her, before Brian has the chance to respond.

Brian settles on the arm of the sofa. "Sorry about that," he tells Kelsey.

"Sorry?" She lets out a tiny laugh. "That was good entertainment. It looked like her eyes were gonna pop out of her head."

The image of Diane's shocked face resonates in Brian's head. "Yeah, she did, huh?"

"Yeah." Kelsey reaches out and takes his hand. Her hold is much different than Diane's: softer, less urgent.

"So," she says, "tell me about these plans of ours."


Alex eases himself onto the loveseat and, propping a pillow behind his head, explains, "It's not that I wouldn't like to just make it all go away and have things with Trevor work, but ... it's not that simple."

Jason offers a sympathetic nod, but he is at a loss for words. He wants to see his friend happy, but he isn't even sure what advice would be most conducive to that.

He decides to break the situation apart, piece-by-piece. Maybe he can lead Alex toward finding the answer himself, because Jason certainly doesn't have it on hand.

"Why isn't it that simple?" he asks.

"Because it was Dylan!"

"If Trevor had slept with another guy, say, someone you didn't know, then it wouldn't have been a big deal?"

"No. I mean, I would've been disappointed, but it's not like we were a couple." Alex pauses to take a drink of his soda; he stares off at the wall, which signals to Jason that he is momentarily lost in thought.

"Besides," Alex adds glumly, "he had tried to make a move on me, and I cut him off. So no, it's not just that he fooled around with another guy."

Jason sits up straighter and perches his feet on the coffee table. "So you're upset that he messed around with Dylan when you and Dylan had just broken up."

"Like two hours before!" The soda can rests on Alex's lower lip as he continues to think. "What bothers me the most is that he believed what Dylan told him--that I was trying to play some game and screw with both of them. He should've known me better than that."

"He didn't trust you."

"Exactly. And now I know that I can't trust him."

"And there's no point to it if there's no trust," Jason finishes. He does see Alex's point, and as much as he thinks that Alex and Trevor would make a good couple, he can't overlook something that is so important to Alex.

"I'm not gonna set myself up to be hurt down the road," Alex says.

"That's probably smart, even if it's the harder thing to do right now. I'm really sorry, dude."

Alex shrugs. "Not much either of us can do about it."

"I could have him thrown into a meat grinder. Him or Dylan, whichever you prefer. Or both."

That elicits a small laugh from Alex.

"You'll make it through this," Jason tells him. "You've made it through worse. And you've got friends like me who won't leave you alone long enough to get upset about it."

"Thanks, Jason."

"Happy to be an unrelenting pain in the ass. Hey, listen--there's a reason I asked you if you had plans for New Year's, and now I'm even more convinced that you'll be interested in this."

"In what?"

"My sister and Brent are throwing a party on New Year's Eve," Jason explains. "They're engaged!"

"Whoa! So is this, like, an engagement party?"

"Sort of a combo deal. Molly's boss pulled some strings, and they got this awesome room at a country club. It's a big formal deal--everyone has to wear black and white, no colors. One of Molly's crazy fashion-designer ideas, I guess. I know she'd love for you to be there. Lauren and I are going, and I'm assuming Brent's brother will bring Courtney, and you know my family well enough ..."

"That actually sounds like fun," Alex admits. "You're sure it's cool if I come?"

"Totally, yeah. Besides, it'll give us a chance to hang out, get toasty on champagne ..."

"Count me in," Alex says as he slugs down the last of his soda.

"Sweet," Jason says, rising from the couch. "And who knows, maybe you'll even find someone new to kiss at midnight."


Will 2005 bring a new romance for Alex?
What did you make of Diane's reaction to Brian and Kelsey?
Where is Sarah's work for Julian headed?
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