Episode #359

Previously ...
- Sarah vowed to Diane that she was through taking spontaneous action to win Matt back.
- Matt attempted to set the record straight with Jennie about their one-night stand, but they were interrupted.
- Courtney planned to take her Senior pairs test with Dylan--and then dump him.


Morning fog sits low over King's Bay. It reaches between buildings, pushes up against windows, fills every open space that it can find. In a matter of hours, it will rise to make way for a deceptively sunny winter's day. But for now, the fog is thick, and it casts a sleepy pall over the fresh morning.

Courtney Chase blinks the lingering sleep from her eyes. Cradling the paper cup between her palms, she lets the latte's warmth spread through her hands and her body.

"I can't believe this day is finally here," she says. It is more an out-loud thought than a conversation piece.

Nevertheless, Josh Taylor responds: "The test is gonna go fine."

The couple sits beside a window in the quiet coffee shop. It is earlier than Josh is accustomed to being up and about, but he wanted to spend some time with Courtney before her test, since he will have to be at work when the test takes place.

"Do you realize how much of my life I've spent working toward this? My Senior test, finally. It's unreal."

"You've worked hard. You're gonna kick ass," Josh says.

He picks at the pastry in front of him as they lapse back into the silence that has been with them all morning. Josh knows that she is very focused on the test, so the quiet doesn't bother him.

"Do you think this is a good idea?" she asks suddenly.

"Being up this early? 'Cause it's insane. I don't get how you've done it for so long."

"No. Dylan--taking this test with him and then dumping him." She stares out the window, into the dense fog. "What if it's, like, bad karma?"

Josh pauses in mid-bite. "You wanna talk about karma? That kid's got it coming so bad."

"Yeah. After what he did to Alex ..." Courtney's confidence increases with each word.

"Besides, he's still gonna pass his test, too."

"And then not have a partner to compete with, which is the whole point of taking the test to begin with."

"Court." Josh cocks his head to the side and forces her to meet his gaze. "You're gonna do awesome."


"Do you want some more coffee?" Sarah asks her father as she lifts the near-empty plate from the table in front of him and walks it to the sink.

"No thanks, sweetheart," Bill says, wiping his mouth with a nearby napkin and then glancing down at his watch. "I'm fine. Hey, it's almost time for you to take Victoria over to Matt's."

Sarah looks at the microwave clock in the kitchen and nods in agreement. Breakfast with her father is a comforting change of pace in the midst of everything else their family's been through recently--Tim's return, the wedding, all of it. Anything resembling her normal routine feels slightly foreign these days; she keeps expecting another whirlwind of circumstance to sweep into their lives, a dread that grows quietly but consistently in her stomach with each passing day that she and Matt don't speak.

Bill seems to recognize the expression her face falls into when Matt springs to mind, as he stands from the table, crosses the kitchen floor and places two supportive hands on her shoulders as she washes dishes.

"I'm very proud of the way you carried yourself on New Year's Eve."

"Thanks, Dad," she says with a sincere shrug. "No sense in spewing venom at Molly and Brent for the rest of my life, right?"

"Exactly," he says.

She turns, offers a meager smile, and gestures toward the coffeepot next to the sink. "You're sure you don't want more?"

With a slight shake of his head, Bill continues: "I think Matt would've been just as proud." He knows his daughter well enough to sense when it's all right to prod a little bit further.

"I'm not so sure."

"Things … haven't improved on that front?" he asks carefully.

"I don't think so. I mean, I'm hoping that after he's had some time to cool down, things will turn around. Right now, though, it doesn't look good."

"Give it time," Bill says. "It's all you can do."

"I know. I'm worried about Tori, too. She has to be picking up on all of this tension."

"Don't worry," he says. "With any luck, there won't be any tension left to notice in a little while."

"Perhaps." Sarah sighs quietly and thinks to herself, I hope you're right, dad.


Matt Gray doesn't hear the knock at first. The water is running in the bathroom sink, heating up until Matt finds it warm enough for his morning shave. It is only when he turns off the faucet that he catches the tail end of a distant knock.

Cursing under his breath, Matt sets down his razor and hurries to the door. Sarah isn't supposed to be here to drop off Tori for another half-hour or so.

He prepares himself to open the door, to face Sarah with an austere expression but receive Tori with great excitement. He's accepted that, even though things didn't work out between him and Sarah, she will always be a part of his life, and they have to put on a good show for their daughter.

But when he opens the door, his preparation turns out to have been for naught. It isn't Sarah that he finds--it's Jennie.

"You left your phone at the restaurant," she says before Matt has the chance to ask what she's doing here. She holds up the phone, as if to prove that her reason for coming by is legit.

"Yeah, I was hoping someone had picked it up." He takes the phone from her and adds, "Thanks."

"I think I'd freak out if I lost mine," she says. "Didn't want you to panic."

"I appreciate it." He goes quiet, hoping she'll take the hint, but that doesn't appear to be the case.

She looks past him, into the apartment. "You are such a boy. Don't you ever wanna, like, decorate a little?"

"Not really my thing," Matt mutters.

Jennie takes a step forward, and before Matt knows it, she has moved past him and into the apartment.

"Have you had breakfast yet?" she asks. "I've been in the mood to do some cooking. All my dad ever wants in the morning is toast and coffee--"

"Jennie." The name is enough to interrupt her, and it gives him a chance to redirect the conversation. "Look ... I really think we need to have a talk."


She plants herself on the couch. Sighing to himself, Matt checks the clock on the VCR and closes the door.


"You guys are gonna do great."

Sandy James gives Courtney a reassuring pat on the back. The touch of her longtime coach soothes Courtney's nerves temporarily, but as Dylan leads her onto the ice, they flare up again.

The arena is silent, save for the sounds of their blades on the ice. Courtney has always preferred the raucous energy of competitions to the reserved formality of test sessions. As they skate to their opening position, the lead judge raises her hand in a sort of all-encompassing "Hi / We're ready/ Good luck" gesture. Courtney offers an uneasy smile in return.

Dylan begins the familiar process by getting down on one knee. Courtney raises her right foot off the ice, and Dylan takes hold of her blade. She stretches her other leg so that the foot glides away from him, and with a flourish of the arms and a twist of the head, the pose is complete.

The eerie quiet hangs heavy around them as they wait for their music to begin. Courtney draws a few shallow breaths in the hope of calming herself, but her nerves are jumping like flames from a bonfire. Determined not to focus on the rubbery feeling in her legs, she shuffles her eyes around the arena:

The banners of the local hockey teams, the same banners that Courtney has passed over with disinterest for years.

An assortment of parents, hers included, in the stands.

The scoreboard, its familiar lights showing the time.

A few of the coaches of the younger skaters standing off to the side--Jason among them.

The music starts suddenly, sending an involuntary spasm through Courtney's body. Before she knows it, she and Dylan are headed down the ice for the side-by-side jumps.

She launches herself into the air and, somehow, manages to come out of the rotation on one foot. She sees that Dylan has done the same. Feeling a little better now that the jump is out of the way, she tries to lose herself in the choreography. This is nothing that they haven't done before; now is the chance to prove what strong skaters they are.

They skate into the pair spin. Determined to earn this test--and maybe to show up Dylan, too--Courtney pushes as hard as she can into the spin. Unfortunately, it is a little too hard, and the next thing she knows, the spin is over before it even begins.

Dylan's eyes snap to hers, as if to ask, "How could you do this?" For an instant she wonders if he is going to reach out and smack her. She shoots him an expression that tells him to calm down.

Grabbing her roughly by the hand, Dylan pulls her into another, smaller spin, just enough to pace out the music. A flourish in the tune indicates that the spin should be ending, so they skate onward.

His grip is harder than usual as they set up for the throw triple Salchow. Courtney yanks on his hand in an effort to make him relax, but she realizes that he is intentionally being so rough--her punishment, apparently, for screwing up the spin.

Grow up, you asshole, she thinks. She feels a wave of relief that she won't have to skate with him after today.

She is still thinking about that as Dylan launches her into the jump. Her upper body scrambles to catch up with her legs, but the effort is in vain. She feels herself tilting in the air, and a split-second later, she goes sprawling across the ice.

When she picks herself up and rejoins with Dylan, his grip is rougher and less forgiving.


Matt moves toward the couch, but instead of sitting, he hovers over it. Jennie looks back at him expectantly, but he doesn't know how to say this delicately.

He decides to ease into it: "Look, you know how much I appreciate you looking out for me, especially after that whole mess with my brother."

"Of course," Jennie says with a nod. "I hated seeing you so twisted up."

"Yeah. And it was good for me to have someone there--a friend." He pauses, giving that last word time to sink in. He watches her for some sign that it has.

Before he can go on, though, there comes another knock at the door.

He signals for Jennie to hang on and makes a move for the door--until it hits him who it must be. Hand on the doorknob, he takes a moment to compose himself. Play it cool. It's no big deal. It's not like anything is going on.

Still, as he opens the door and Sarah and Tori come into view, an overwhelming sense of weirdness assaults him.

"Hey, you crazy little monkey!" he says, stooping down to hug his daughter.

"Hi, Daddy!"

He plants a kiss on the tip of her nose, and Tori squirms.

"I thought you weren't coming for a while longer," Matt says to Sarah as he stands.

"I was hoping you'd have a little time to talk," she responds. Matt watches as her eyes track past him and land on Jennie, who sits with her hands folded in her lap.

Sarah shuffles. "But if you're busy--"

"Did you put together my new toy box?" Tori asks, tugging on Matt's hand. She makes a dash for her bedroom. "I wanna see!"

"Hang on a sec," Matt says to Sarah. He hurries after Tori, but not without a nervous glance backward at the two women.

Sarah remains in the doorway, her arms folded across her chest. When the awkwardness gets to be too much, she asks, "You work at the Fisherman's Pier, don't you?" She already knows the answer.

Jennie nods.

"Bill Fisher is my dad."

"I know," Jennie says. "I recognized you."

Now it is Sarah's turn to nod, and the silence follows. Thankfully, Jennie breaks it before things become too uncomfortable.

"Your little girl is adorable," she says.

Sarah relaxes and manages a smile. "She's a real character."

"Well, you and Matt are really lucky to have her." Jennie adjusts her position on the couch, pulling one leg up beneath her. "Seems like Matt is a great dad, too."

"Yeah. He really is."

"Of course, he's an all-around great guy. I'm sure I don't need to tell you that, though."

Sarah isn't sure how to respond to that, so she just forces another smile. Suddenly the silence doesn't seem like such a bad option.

Jennie, however, insists upon continuing. "I wish he wasn't so hard to read, though. It's like he's trying to be all mysterious, and that's not the easiest thing to deal with in a relationship."

Sarah nearly chokes on the air that she is breathing. "So you and Matt--are you ..."

A pleased expression fills Jennie's face. "Yeah. I mean, we're just starting out, but he's so terrific."

"Yeah." Sarah glances at her watch but doesn't even notice the time. "Hey, I really need to get going. Can you tell Matt that I'll catch up with him later?"

"Sure." Jennie wiggles her fingers in a dainty little wave. "Bye, Sarah."

"Bye," Sarah croaks as she beats a hasty retreat from the apartment.

Jennie crosses the room and closes the door. As she is fastening the deadbolt, Matt returns.

"Where'd Sarah go?" he asks, his alarm apparent.

With a shrug, Jennie explains, "She said she had to run. Seemed a little weird, if you ask me."

Matt lets out a sigh. "She didn't say anything else?"

"Nope. Not a thing. So, how about that breakfast?"


Will Jennie take Sarah's place in Matt's life?
What will Courtney do now that her plan has gone bust?
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