Episode #360

Previously ...
- Courtney took to the ice for her test with Dylan, planning to dump him once they passed. Unfortunately, she made a number of mistakes.
- Lauren continued to tolerate Josh at work, despite his penchant for irritating her.
- Despite Jason's warnings, Kelsey continued to date Brian.


Reality settles over Courtney Chase as she steps off the ice. That was it: her Senior test, a complete disaster. From the botched spin to the graceless fall to the stumbles on footwork, she knows that there is absolutely no chance that she and Dylan passed their test. She doesn't even want to see what the judges have to say about that utterly embarrassing performance.

But there is something that she is dreading even more than the papers with their marks, and that is having to address it with her partner. There were points out on the ice, as the mistakes mounted and buried their chances of passing, that Dylan was downright hostile toward her. The glassy, unforgiving look in his eyes would have been enough to disturb her, but the way he yanked her around left no doubt in her mind that he blames this on her.

Courtney looks down and shakes her head as she comes face to face with Sandy. "I'm sorry," she says to their coach. "Those were stupid mistakes."

"It happens," Sandy responds. Courtney has always admired Sandy's ability to maintain a level head in the face of disappointment, even if Court doesn't always want to hear it at the time.

"What happened on that spin?" Dylan asks. "We never miss that!"

"I don't know. I pushed too hard and lost my edge," Courtney admits. She can't even look at him after how horribly that went.

"Yeah, well, you should've been able to pull yourself together." Dylan snaps a plastic guard over one of his blades.

"Not here," Sandy says. She ushers them away from the ice, away from the other skaters and coaches who have been watching them for some explanation of what happened out there. As Sandy leads the way toward the arena's back corridor, Courtney averts her eyes from the spectators--but not before noticing Jason, who offers a solemn, tight-lipped nod.

I bet he's loving this, Courtney thinks.

Sandy opens the door and holds it for them. "You guys wait here. I'll get your papers and bring them back."

Courtney and Dylan step wordlessly into the corridor. The heavy door closes with a thud, sealing them inside the passage. Courtney finds this silence a relief from the silence out there, with all the inquisitive stares and stifled comments.

She paces several steps, her guard-covered blades clicking against the cement floor.

"Look," she says, turning abruptly, "I'm really sorry. I--"

"Save it." Dylan's gaze bores into her like a laser beam. "There's no excuse for falling apart like that. You're supposed to be better than that."

"Me? It's not like you held it together, Dylan. You looked like you were going to flip out as soon as we missed the spin!"

With a few quick steps, he is right in front of her, his angular face looming over hers.

"Don't you dare," he says through gritted teeth, "try to blame this on me!"


"Here," Josh Taylor says as he saunters over to Lauren's desk and casually deposits a few photographs. He stops, yawns, and stretches exaggeratedly. "Tell me which of these you think is worth printing. I'm tired of looking at them."

"You seem too tired to do much of anything today," Lauren replies, leafing through the photos quickly and selecting two. She holds them side by side for a beat before looking up at him. Then: "Jeez, you look exhausted. What's up?"

"Nothing much." He shrugs. "Courtney's got her test today so we met early for coffee, is all. She's pretty nervous."

"I'm sure she'll do fine," Lauren cuts in quickly. She hands him the picture in her right hand and then sets the rest of the pile in a basket on her desktop. "This is the best one, but it needs a little work."

"Yeah, I'm not too worried about Court. Just Dylan," he remarks, his cool blue eyes studying the photo with intensity.

"Dylan?" An amalgam of concern and curiosity tugs at her voice. She knows better than to commiserate with Josh about her former best friend, but ...

"Yeah. It's kind of complicated."

"Oh." She feigns indifference, sipping the near-empty bottle of water on her desk before looking back at him. His piercing gaze meets her, and a bolt of silence strikes; neither seems sure what to say, if anything.

Then Josh clues her in. He offers a brief synopsis of the situation and relays Courtney's plan. The shit's already gone down by now, anyway, he thinks to himself as he spills to Lauren.

Lauren absorbs it all, slightly shocked. "Wow." She wordlessly wonders how influential Josh was in the concoction of this scheme; it doesn't seem like Courtney to do something like that. Then again, she hasn't been close with Court in a long time.

"Yeah," Josh continues, a grin creeping across his lips. "Just goes to show you: don't mess with Courtney Chase's fudge-packing pals."

"Josh!" Lauren exclaims, nearly incredulous. "Honestly. What an insensitive thing to say."

"Simmer down," he suggests. "I didn't even think you and Alex were really friends anymore."

"That's not the point." She stands from the desk and glares at him. Her nostrils flare. "My brother's gay too, so the next time you feel the urge to make derogatory comments like that, keep them to yourself."

"I--" he stammers, offering a palms-up in place of an explanation.

"Save it," she says, grabbing the bottle and leaving in a hurry.

He watches her walk away and swallows hard.


Courtney shrinks away from Dylan. "I know I screwed up," she says, "but you were making it impossible for me to relax!"

"Because you kept fucking up!" Dylan's voice rises with every syllable until it reaches an all-out shout. His face is hard and his eyes wide.

"That was a fucking embarrassment!" he rails. "You skated like total shit."

She flinches but spits back, "You know, I was right about you."

Now Dylan pauses. "What do you mean?"

"You are an asshole! The way you treated Alex was disgusting. You're only nice to people as long as they're useful to you."

"What, is this supposed to be hurting me? 'Cause you're so much better than me, right? I didn't see you playing the good friend card over Alex until now."

Courtney hesitates, but he has pushed her far enough. Now she is the one to get in his face.

"I was using you for this test, Dylan! I was planning on dumping you as soon as we passed." She tries to ignore the pangs of embarrassment over her failed plan; telling him off feels too good. "Turns out it was the best idea I've had in a long time."

He sneers back at her. "Oh, that's classy, bitch. Real fucking classy."

His hands shoot out and grasp her shoulders. Courtney tries to break away, but she knows that he is much stronger than her.

"I don't need you, Courtney! I do not need you!"

She lifts a foot to kick him away, but before she can, he shoves her backward. Her body slams against the wall.


The voice cuts into the fracas, and an instant later, Courtney feels Dylan's grip relent.

"What is wrong with you?" Jason challenges Dylan, after shoving him back several feet. "Keep your hands off her!"

For a moment, Courtney believes that Dylan is going to settle down, maybe even apologize. But the contrite flash that passes over him turns out to be just that--a flash.

"This has nothing to do with you," Dylan says to Jason.

"I could hear you from outside!" Jason turns to Courtney, but he keeps one eye on Dylan. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah, I'm fine." She is still struggling to comprehend what has happened.

The door opens again, and the three of them fall quiet as Sandy appears.

"I have your papers," she says, but as soon as the words are out, her demeanor shifts. "What's going on out here?"

"I found good old Dylan ready to beat the crap out of Courtney," Jason explains.

"Shut up!" Dylan intercedes. "You have no idea what was going on. She was--"

"You were slamming her against the wall!"

"Whoa, whoa! Everybody quiet down." Sandy folds her arms sternly. "This is completely unacceptable behavior."

"Tell that to her!" Dylan yells. "You know what? I'm glad you messed that up so badly, Courtney. Because I can go find a partner who isn't a total bitch--and one who can actually skate, for that matter. It'll be a hell of a lot easier for me to find someone than it'll be for you."

"Dylan, you know," Sandy cuts in, her voice as authoritative and self-assured as Courtney and Jason have ever heard it, "the judges didn't seem to think those mistakes were all Courtney's fault. They had some choice words about your skating, too."

"I've got some choice words for them, too! Those blind old bats wouldn't know good skating if it bit them in the asses. They're a pathetic bunch of washed-up--"

It takes Courtney a moment to realize why Dylan has gone quiet ... that is, until she sees the two judges standing behind Sandy, looking none too amused by Dylan's tirade.


As Molly Fisher steps into the store, she notices the scant smattering of customers among the shelves and racks. The thin crowd doesn't bother her, though; there won't be a tremendous amount of traffic in this part of downtown King's Bay until later in the afternoon. She simply enjoys seeing people in the store, browsing through the clothes--some of which she personally designed.

She spots Kelsey Barker near the back of the boutique and makes her way over to the young woman. Molly has had a number of interactions with the shop's assistant manager over the past several months, and each one has left her more convinced that she was wise to take her brother's recommendation and hire Kelsey.

The women exchange greetings, and Molly finds that Kelsey is, as always, a little shy.

"Camille had a few notes that she wanted me to run over with you before the spring collection goes out on the floor," Molly says.

"Any tips would be a godsend at this point," Kelsey says. "We've got so much stuff to put out here and no idea what to do with most of it."

Molly opens her datebook and flips to the notes she received from Camille. "We just have a few pieces that we want to make sure are highlighted."

One by one, she explains the points to Kelsey, who nods agreeably. Toward the end of the list, however, Molly nocies Kelsey's focus wandering. She puts her explanation on hold.

Kelsey notices the pause and, with a start, says, "Sorry. I--I'm watching that guy over there."

Molly follows the younger woman's gaze, expecting to find an attractive guy, probably with a girlfriend by his side. Instead, she sees a scruffy man, likely in his thirties, with a ski cap and several days' worth of patchy beard growth.

"Not exactly our typical customer," she comments quietly.

"That's what I was thinking," Kelsey says. "And he's been in here for a while."

"Just looking at clothes?"

"Yeah. I guess he's not doing anything wrong ..."

"Keep an eye on him, though. Just in case."

Molly is about to return to her list of notes when someone else enters the store--a familiar face, she quickly realizes. She recalls Jason telling her about Kelsey and Brian Hamilton.

Brian begins making his way toward Kelsey, but he hesitates visibly when he catches sight of Molly. She does her best to offer a cordial smile.

Kelsey turns quickly to Molly. "I'm sorry, Brian and I have plans to go to lunch. He's a little bit early."

"It's fine," Molly tells her. She carefully tears the page of notes from her datebook.

"Hi," Brian says as he steps up to them, looking first to Kelsey and then to Molly.

"Hey," Kelsey responds, her voice faint. Molly feels bad for her, though she isn't sure if it's because the young woman is so uncomfortable right now--or because she's so sweet and has no idea what a schemer Brian is.

"Hi, Brian," Molly says. She closes the datebook and folds the slip of paper. "Kelsey, here are the rest of the guidelines. They should be pretty clear, but feel free to give me a call if you need me to clarify anything."

Kelsey accepts the paper with a nod. Molly is about to break away from the pair when Brian speaks up.

"Hey, congratulations on your wedding," he says, "and on the baby. I'm glad you guys are happy."

"Thanks." Molly purses her lips, forcing back the admonitions for Kelsey's sake. She'd be more willing to buy Brian's words if she didn't think he had played a part in taking those photos of her and Brent together just to set Sarah off.

"You ready to get to lunch?" Brian asks Kelsey.

"I need a few minutes," she tells him. "The other assistant manager isn't here yet."

Molly waves off the concern. "You guys go ahead. I can keep an eye on things until she gets here."

"Are you sure?" they ask in near-unison.

She assures them that she is, and they say their goodbyes. As Kelsey and Brian leave the store, Molly finds herself hoping that Brian won't compromise his relationship with Kelsey for the same thing that compromised theirs: Diane.


The fresh, outdoor air is a welcome change from the stuffiness of the arena. Courtney breathes in a long drag of it and holds it in; when she finally releases it, she feels immense relief. It is as if all that has happened today has lifted its bulk off her body--not entirely, but enough so that she can begin to relax and gather herself.

"Thanks for jumping into that," she says, folding her bare arms to shield herself from the chilly afternoon.

Jason shrugs. "I knew Dylan could be kind of an ass, but that, I never saw coming."

"I should have."

"You had no way of knowing he'd, like, try and beat the crap out of you."

"Well, no." The tip of her skate bumps into a pebble and sends it clattering over the parking lot's surface. "I probably had it coming, though."

"Why? Because you made some mistakes out there? That's not--"

"Because of this whole retarded plan I had."

Jason pauses before asking, "What plan?"

Courtney turns her back to him. "To basically use Dylan to pass my test and then dump him right after."

A smirk creeps across Jason's face. "You were seriously planning to do that?"

"Yeah. I was gonna break up with him as soon as we passed. I could barely stand to look at him after what he pulled on Alex."

"I know I should probably be scolding you," Jason says, "but that's hilarious. I only wish I'd gotten to see that."

They share a laugh, but as it fades, regret again washes over Courtney.

"I guess I got what I deserved for being such a bitch," she says.

"You just had a bad skate. It happens. Believe me, I know." Jason hesitates over the memory of his own disastrous test, but he cracks a grin as he adds, "Besides, I'd say Dylan still got what he had coming."

Courtney laughs, thinking of those judges' faces as they overheard Dylan's rant. "I don't think he's gonna have much luck with judging panels from now on."

"He'll be lucky if he even gets to show his face in this sport again. If there's one thing I can say about skating people, it's that they don't let stuff go. Ever."

"I hope they can forget that disgraceful program I just had," Courtney says through a sigh.

"Please, Court, you've bounced back from way worse than that. Remember Sectionals our first year on Novice?"

"Yeah." She smiles despite the embarrassing memory of forgetting their short program and clumsily trying to improvise. "That was so horrible."

"But you can laugh at it now. And we went out the next season and totally dominated. You'll bounce back from this, don't worry."

Her first instinct is to contradict him, but she stifles it. Somehow, hearing Jason say it really does reassure her. Maybe this really will turn out okay.


What will become of Courtney's career now?
Is Dylan ruined in figure skating forever?
Will Josh ever stop pushing Lauren's buttons?
Join us in the Footprints Forum to discuss this episode!

Next Episode