Episode #357

Previously ...
- Sarah offered Molly her best wishes for the wedding. Molly felt the need to explain her choice of Camille as maid of honor, which led to her offering the post to Sarah, who accepted.
- Brent shared a warm moment with his family before the wedding.
- During the wedding, Jason nervously contemplated his own future with Lauren.
- Molly and Brent were finally married.


Diane Bishop's lips linger over her wine glass. Her eyes shift around the room, particularly the dance floor.

"Bet you didn't think you'd be spending New Year's at your sister's wedding," she says before taking a long sip of the wine.

Sarah Fisher nods emphatically. "Talk about being blindsided."

The wedding reception is now in full swing, and the guests have taken to celebrating the surprise nuptials and impending New Year with great fervor. Diane and Sarah, however, are camped out toward the back of the room, having removed themselves as much as possible from the action.

"It was nice of her to ask you to be her maid of honor," Diane offers. "I was surprised that she took the high road and didn't just ignore the fact that you were here."

"Please! Molly couldn't find the high road if you handed her a map with a giant X on it."

Diane has to laugh at the remark, but then counters, "At least she wasn't a bitch about it."

Sarah sets her own glass down hard on the table. "Are you kidding? She only offered because she had to. She kept peeking back at me during the ceremony like she expected me to whip out a gun or something."

"You should have. I would've appreciated the entertainment."

"Nah. They're not worth it." Sarah cracks a devious grin. "But come on, how often do you get to see a wedding where the groom and the best man are the same as another wedding you've been to, but the bride and the maid of honor have switched places?"

The two women share a laugh at the absurdity of the situation. It hadn't even occurred to Diane until now; she tends to forget having been at Sarah's wedding to Brent, since they weren't even friends back then.

"You're right, though," Diane says. "They're not worth getting all worked up over. Screw 'em. You've got bigger and better things to deal with."

"I don't know about that ..." Sarah starts to take another sip of her drink, but it turns into a gulp as she thinks more and more about her own mess of a personal life.

Diane notices and suggests, "You should give Matt a call and see what he's doing tonight."

That earns a vigorous head-shaking from Sarah.

"No way. I'm through making spontaneous decisions where he's concerned. I've learned my lesson--too late, maybe, but I've learned it." She sighs, then adds, "I'm just glad he had the sense to turn down Molly's invitation tonight. That would've been so uncomfortable."

"So you're done pining?" Diane asks.

A denial perches itself on Sarah's ips, but she knows that Diane won't buy it.

Diane tilts her head in the direction of the table where Sarah's family is seated. "Speaking of pining ..."

Sarah looks, and it takes her only a moment to spot what Diane is pointing out. Bill and Paula are engaged in what looks like an animated conversation with Jason and Lauren--and, beside them, Ryan appears to be a million miles away.

The women follow his gaze over to the dance floor, where Claire and Tim are sharing a dance.


Out on the dance floor, Tim Fisher pulls away from his wife--just enough so that he can look into her eyes as he speaks.

"You know what I want most for 2005?" he asks as they sway together to the music's relaxed beat.

Claire cocks her head so that her long, brown hair swings over her right shoulder. "What?"

Tim breathes deeply, savoring the moment. She looks breathtaking, her slender form accentuated by a sultry black dress that makes it difficult for Tim to believe that this is a woman who has given birth. It is one of the few moments since he's been back that he has truly felt like they are a married couple. Not old friends, not a nurse and a patient, but a husband and a wife, in love.

"I want to go back to what we had," he says, "before I disappeared, before ... this."

He shrugs his shoulders in acknowledgement of his own arms, which are wrapped tightly around Claire's torso. She was nervous about him standing up for so long, but he insisted that he wanted to dance with her and that the physical therapist said it would be okay. As grateful as he is for the mere opportunity to share a dance with his wife, he hates the fact that he has to put his weight on her just to be able to do it.

Claire's face hardens with concern. "Are you getting tired? Maybe we should--"

"No, I'm fine." He stops her from arguing by planting a kiss square on her lips. "Everything is fine."

Ryan Moriani takes his drink from the bartender and thanks the young man with a quick nod. He pauses to take a sip of the scotch, allowing the fumes to work their way into his sinuses. The feeling is akin to a sting, but somehow pleasant at the same time.

Instinctively his eyes wander toward the dance floor. He knows that there is no reason to continue looking; nothing earth-shattering has happened in the last minute or two.

"Not as easy as you thought it'd be, huh?"

The voice is like nails on a chalkboard, and as Ryan turns around, his body is already tensing. He finds Diane standing no more than a foot away from him, her arms folded across her chest and her chin tipped upward in a self-assured pose. Wisps of raven hair fan out around her face, an effect that strikes him as some sort of anti-halo.

"What's that?" he asks once he has had a second to compose himself.

"Watching them together," Diane says. "You thought it'd be a piece of cake, right?"

Her words are more smug than sympathetic, and Ryan considers brushing past her without responding. Instead he takes another sip of his scotch, this one even slower than the last.

"I didn't expect it to be easy. But Tim is my brother, and Claire--I want Claire to be happy," he says.

"So you think you can let go of her, just like that?"

This time, Ryan has had enough, and he moves to return to his seat. Diane grabs him by the arm, stopping him in his tracks and making drops of the scotch splash onto his hand.

She pulls him close and says, in a deviously low voice, "Give her time. I don't think it'll be that easy for her, either."

Ryan suddenly feels the need to continue the conversation, to ask what would make Diane say that, but she lets go of him and turns her attention to the bar. Keeping his eyes from the dance floor, he returns to the Fishers' table with Diane's words echoing in his head.


In preparation for the party, Molly spent an inordinate amount of time with the club's head chef, working out every detail of the event--especially the dessert buffet. She had a perfect image of it in her head, and the chef helped her bring it to life, from the food itself to the presentation. In the end, it turned out beautifully, the perfect reflection of the party's black-and-white theme.

Now, Molly is thankful for cameras. Mere minutes after being set out, the display has been decimated by the partygoers. At least the perfect spread was documented on film before the guests got to it, though.

She is still contemplating the dessert buffet's brief moment of glory when she hears the clink of cutlery against glass.

Josh Taylor stands at their table, waiting for the rest of the attendees to give him their attention. It takes only a few seconds for all the hubbub in the room to subside.

"All right, everyone, it's time for what I know you've been waiting for," he announces. "The best man's toast."

Molly watches her new brother-in-law as he speaks. Confidence gleams in his crystal-blue eyes. She realizes that she is now related to this man with whom she's had virtually no one-on-one interaction.

"I'm not sure there's a way for me to put into words what an important night this is for my brother and Molly," Josh says. "I do know that this is something neither of them was sure would ever happen, as much as they wanted it."

Molly blushes, uneasiness filling her body, at that comment. She knows how many of these people were also at Brent's wedding to Sarah.

As if sensing her discomfort, Brent smiles at her and reaches over to take her hand.

"But there are some things that are just meant to be," Josh continues, "and this is one of 'em. Molly, you have no idea how happy you make my brother. I wanna wish you guys the best, and I hope that you keep making each other happy forever. Welcome to the family, Molly."

Applause begins to rise from the crowd, but Josh holds up a hand to signal that he isn't done yet.

"One more thing." He looks directly at Brent now, and an impish smile crosses his face. "He gets really, really mad if you give him a wedge, so you might wanna avoid that."

Laughter rips through the room, and it morphs into applause as Josh raises his champagne glass.

As their family and friends drink to their happens, Brent leans over and kisses his wife. She can tell that he has forgotten what they planned.

"Brent, we have to ..."

His face lights up in recollection, and he pops out of his seat.

"There's actually one more thing!" he calls out. The din in the room again dies down, this time a bit more slowly.

"Molly and I have another surprise," Brent explains, his voice carrying over the crowd.

Now Molly rises from her seat. She wonders if this is the right time to do this or if it cheapens the wedding somehow. But, as she's reminded herself in the preceding days, she would rather they be honest with everyone now.

"We have something else to be thankful for," Molly says, "besides having all of you here to share our wedding with us. Something else to celebrate, actually."

Murmurs of expectation float through the party, and Molly takes a deep breath before making her announcement.

"Brent and I have a baby on the way!" She finds herself unable to keep a broad smile off her face and a warm glow out of her expression.

The guests burst out into another round of excited cheers and applause. Molly's focus goes instinctively to her parents, who--as she expected--appear shocked but very happy.

She allows herself only the briefest of flashes over toward Sarah, who has a surprisingly unemotional expression on her face.

Maybe this really can turn out okay, Molly thinks.


"If it isn't the publishing world's next big star."

Alex Marshall turns at the familiar voice and smiles bashfully. He and Diane have gotten to know each other quite well since Vision signed him to the publishing deal, but they still don't see eye-to-eye on the subject of Alex's potential. Whereas Alex will consider it a victory simply to have his book in print, Diane is all big business and bravado.

"Hey," Alex says. "Having a good time?"

"Oh, yeah. Wonderful time." She indicates the drink in her hand. "How's my favorite new author doing?"

"Good! The wedding was a really cool surprise, huh?"

"Yep. It was ... really something."

The faint hum of statis offers warning that an announcement is about to be made, and Alex checks his watch.

"They're gonna start the countdown soon," he says.

"I should go find Sarah, then," Diane says. "The old spinsters are gonna celebrate together. It's good to see you! Happy New Year."

""Happy New Year," Alex echoes. Diane disappears, and he searches for Jason. It takes him only a second to locate Jason and Lauren, just as Brent's voice kicks in over the sound system.

"Here we go! 10, 9, 8, 7 ..."

Molly cozies up beside Brent at the front of the room, and the crowd joins him in counting down.

"6, 5, 4 ..."

Alex raises his own voice, joining in with the chant. He forces himself not to look to his left, on the other side of Jason and Lauren.

"3, 2, 1!"

The room erupts with cheers as 2005 makes its grand entrance. All around Alex, people turn to their loved ones to share celebratory hugs and kisses. Jason and Lauren melt into one another, and not far away, Courtney and Josh do the same.

Before Alex knows what is happening, Trevor is in front of him. He isn't sure what to say or do.

"Happy New Year," Trevor says, leaning in to hug him.

Alex allows him to and even musters a "Happy New Year" of his own.

His face next to Alex's, Trevor whispers, "I hope this'll be a year for fresh starts."

Having Trevor this close to him, close enough to be able to smell him, feeling Trevor's hands on his back ... it's enough to make him give in.


Alex pulls away from the hug. He has to, if he's going to stick to his guns. He just nods at Trevor, a little sadly, and backs away.


"I can't believe the two of you!" Danielle Taylor exclaims. She strides up to the table where her brother and new sister-in-law are engaged in a playful conversation.

Molly and Brent turn with a start, but Danielle's soft expression tells them that the confrontation is a joking one.

"You're sure that you don't have any more secrets stashed away, right?" she asks. "A baby! You guys, I am so excited for you!"

"We're pretty excited, too," Molly says.

"Sorry we didn't tell you earlier," Brent adds, "but we really wanted it to be a secret."

"I understand." Danielle draws a deep breath and looks around the room. The crowd has finally started to thin, now that midnight has come and gone. "This really was a terrific party, guys."

"I agree," Paula chimes in before Molly or Brent has a chance to respond. She and Bill approach the newlyweds, their coats in hand.

"We're going to get going," Bill says. "It's been a long day."

Molly nods and stands. "Yeah, it has. I'm exhausted, myself."

Bill draws his daughter into a hug. "Molly, we're so happy for you. Congratulations."

"Thanks, Dad. Thanks, Mom."

Brent rises, as well, and extends his hand. "Yeah, Paula, Bill, thank you. For everything."

Bill bypasses the handshake and hugs his new son-in-law.

"What a wonderful way to begin the New Year," Paula says. "With a beginning like this, I'm sure this will be the best year yet!"


What do you hope the New Year brings for your favorite characters and couples?
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