Episode #362

Previously ...
- Molly arranged for Ryan to have a job interview at Objection. He admitted to her that he can't imagine letting go of Claire forever.
- Katherine refused to give Nick a divorce, despite having lost all trust in him and their marriage.
- Hoping to clear up any misunderstanding about Jennie, Matt went to see Sarah, who let him know that she is through chasing after him. Jennie phoned Matt and insisted that she needed his help with something.


"I don't know if this is a good idea."

Sarah Fisher's slender fingers curl around the steering wheel of her Jeep. She stares straight out her windshield, at the lavish scenery of the upscale neighborhood. The impressive houses loom large against the dull March sky, their lawns so perfectly manicured that it doesn't seem possible that they are real.

"It's fine," Diane Bishop says. "It's not like you've told me any of the details."

Sarah glances over at the passenger seat, where her friend is in the midst of touching up her vivid red lipstick. "Diane, even bringing you to their house ..."

"I'll block it all out. Hey, I'll even do you one better: I'll pretend that I haven't figured out that some rich guy obviously hired you to find out if his wife's been getting busy with the gardener or the milkman or whoever."

Sarah feels her mouth gape open. It wouldn't be the first time Diane went through her papers--

"Like it's that hard to guess," Diane says, capping her lipstick and placing it back inside her tiny Prada purse. "Besides, you said it'd be quick, right?"

"Mm-hmm." Sarah knows that Julian left for his business trip this afternoon and will be gone for several days. She needs to get a feel for the area surrounding his home so that she can plan her surveillance accordingly.

"Just let me help out." Diane waits for a reaction, and when none comes, she adds, "You're no fun."

With a sigh, Sarah takes her hands off the wheel and pulls the keys from the ignition. "Fine, fine. It'll be a help, anyway."

"You could use the adventure."

"Or the distraction."

Diane reads her friend easily: "You still bent out of shape because of Matt dropping by?"

"Sort of. Yeah. It totally seemed like he wanted to make sure I knew that it's nothing between him and Jennie, but then she called and he went running."

"He wouldn't be the first guy to get yanked around by some chick he wasn't interested in," Diane suggests, a knowing gleam in her eye.

"I guess not. But if he's that much of a sucker for her ..." Sarah's voice trails off, and she turns her head to look out the window. "Then there really is no chance for us to work things out."


Matt Gray parks his truck by the curb. As he steps out of the vehicle, he surveys the neighborhood, which appears to have seen better days--or, at least, he hopes that it has. Double-checking the address, Matt traverses the cracked concrete of the walking path that leads up to the house.

It is a one-story home, its wood-paneled exterior badly in need of a new coat of blue paint. The lawn has been freshly mowed, but it looks choppy, as if whoever cut it overdid part of the yard and was forced to redo the rest to match. To one side of the yard is what Matt guesses was once a garden but is now a few square yards of dirt marked off by a small, crumbling white fence.

He strikes the doorbell with urgency and, almost instantly, hears footsteps from inside. Seconds later, the door flies open.

"Thank you so much for coming," Jennie Burkle says through a relieved gasp. "It's a mess."

"Let me have a look," Matt says. Her phone call made it sound as if something was horribly wrong, but when he phoned back to confirm the directions, she explained that there was a plumbing catastrophe that she couldn't handle. Matt has a feeling that it shouldn't be too hard to get under control.

Jennie leads him down a short hallway and into the kitchen. The cabinet doors beneath the sink are splayed open, and a multitude of towels has been stuffed inside.

"Water just starting leaking out," Jennie explains, "and when I opened it up, there was all this water spraying out everywhere."

Matt pushes up the sleeves of his Pittsburgh Steelers sweatshirt.

Jennie stares helplessly at the mound of towels. "My dad is gonna kill me. I wouldn't have called you--I'm sure you were busy--but I had no idea what to do, and plumbers are so expensive. I don't wanna have to pay for this ..."

"Relax," Matt tells her. He drops to his knees and begins moving towels out of the way. "I bet something just came loose."

"Oh, Matt, thank you so much," she says. "You have no idea how much this means to me."


Ryan walks along the mall's busy storefronts, weaving briskly between elderly and obese patrons in search of an electronics store. He's been meaning to purchase a universal remote for his television for weeks, and now that he's spending so much time lazing about his apartment, any excuse to get out and accomplish something--get his mind off Claire, if only for a short while--seems exceptionally appealing.

He dismisses his fleeting thought of Claire as quickly as possible, something that's becoming increasingly difficult for him.

"Ryan!" A voice to his right slows his stride, derails his train of thought. He turns, slightly startled, to find Nick Moriani with an armful of bags from various stores. As his father approaches, Ryan struggles to prevent a grin from sprawling across his face.

"Well, well," he says and buries his hands in the pocket of his jacket. "Those look pretty heavy. How're you doing?"

A familiar scowl freezes on the older man's face, and for a moment, a pang of guilt--pity?--strikes Ryan at the sight before him.

"How do you think?" Nick grumbles. "Up to your usual important business?"

"As a matter of fact," Ryan tells him, "I had an interview earlier today at Objection. I think it went very well."

"I didn't know you'd taken up fashion design."

"I'll be working with the business side of things," Ryan answers flatly.

In an instant, Katherine is beside the two men, smiling quickly at Ryan before scowling at Nick. There are no bags weighing down her arms, save for the oversized purse slung over her left shoulder.

"Hello there, Ryan," she says with her typical, over-the-top sweetness.

"Hi, Katherine. Looks like you two are having quite the productive day."

"Your father is helping me take care of some very important errands," Katherine says. "But I'm afraid we have to run. You should join us for dinner sometime." She gestures for her husband to follow her. "Come on, dear."

She flits away, back down the mall's main thoroughfare. Nick lingers behind for a moment--catching his breath, it appears to Ryan.

"Looks like you're really enjoying the perks of married life," Ryan says, unable to keep his amusement off his face.

"From what I hear," Nick says, turning to follow his wife, "so is Claire."

Silent, Ryan watches him walk away.


Running the monologue through her head one last time, Diane rings the doorbell of the grand house. She prepares a pitch-perfect smile as she awaits an answer.

When the doors, she is momentarily taken aback by the age of the African-American woman who opens it. She is much younger than Diane anticipated--her guess is early thirties, tops. She expected the woman to be older, probably because of how impressive the house is. Then again, maybe she just got her hooks into an older, wealthy guy; that only makes it more likely that she really is fooling around behind his back.

"Good afternoon," Diane says, shifting seamlessly into her new persona. "How are you doing?"

"Fine," the woman answers pleasantly enough, though Diane is sure that she's wondering who this random lady at her door is. "How can I help you?"

"My name's Natalie. I'm with the Northwest Center for the Disabled. We're holding a coat drive, and we were wondering if you might have any donations you'd like to make."

The woman considers it, then nods. "Let me check. I'm sure that we do." She leaves the door open as she disappears back into the house.

Diane takes the opportunity to have a closer look at the interior. The place is exquisite, its decor a carefully assembled collection of baroque pieces. A pang of jealousy rises inside Diane; while it might not be exactly her style, the house does match the level of sophistication she's always hoped to have in her own home. She has continually put it off, though, telling herself that the apartments and the condominiums are only stops along the way, until she has a family and can settle into a real home. Maybe it's time to admit that any further postponement would be futile.

A voice jars her from her thoughts--a man's voice, asking who the woman at the door is.

"Any coats will do!" Diane calls out. "Adult, child, heavy, light! It doesn't matter!"

A few seconds later, the woman returns, with an attractive man behind her. He is also African-American and, in Diane's estimation, in his early-to-mid thirties. A sharp jawline is the most striking aspect of his face.

The woman hands Diane two coats. "My son outgrew that one, and my husband hasn't worn the other one in at least three years."

Without missing a beat, Diane says to the man, "Sure you're okay with her giving your stuff away?"

"Oh, it's not mine," he says, slightly startled. "I'm just a friend."

Sure, buddy, a friend, Diane thinks, keeping her smirk to herself. She thanks them and beats a hasty retreat down the block, where Sarah has parked.

"She's definitely not alone," Diane reports as she slides into the passenger seat. She catches Sarah staring at the coats. "We can donate 'em to the Salvation Army or something."

"She has a guy there?" Sarah asks, incredulous. "Wow, talk about not wasting any time." She ponders that for a moment, then throws open the driver's door.

"Where are you going?"

"I have to have a look at this," Sarah says. "You coming?"


"You're my cover. If they see us, you can pretend you dropped your lip gloss or something."

Diane follows her back to the house. Instead of approaching the front door, though, Sarah leads her around the side of the house.

"I need to find a good angle," Sarah says. She peers into a side window but apparently finds nothing satisfactory. "Come on."

Diane watches as Sarah skillfully reaches over the top of a gate and blindly unlocks it. She eases it open, slides inside, and motions for Diane to come quickly.

"Okay," Sarah says, "now we need to find a--"

The horrified look on Diane's face stops her in mid-sentence. Sarah follows Diane's gaze until it finds the object of her terror: the Rottweiler, posed as if ready to pounce, its mouth opened in a fang-baring sneer.

The women freeze as the dog lets out the most vicious snarl they have ever heard.


The toolbox clamps shut, and Matt clambers to his feet.

"It's fixed?" Jennie asks, disbelief filling her tone. "That's it?"

"Yep. I just needed to tighten a few of the bolts." He wipes his hands together, but the sliminess lingers. "I should probably wash my hands ..."

Jennie points down the hallway. "There's a bathroom down that way. First door on the left."

Matt thanks her and makes his way through the darkened hallway. He flips on the light in the bathroom, and his eyes take a moment to adjust to the harsh bulbs. He turns on the water and immediately places his hands beneath it, eager to wash away the residue of his impromptu repair work. He is drying his hands when he hears the clatter of a door opening and closing.

"Jennie!" a man's voice barks.

Matt makes his way slowly toward the entryway, but he gets there about the same time as Jennie.

"You're home early," she says. As much as she tries to sound pleasantly surprised, Matt can tell, it still comes out like an accusation.

"I got done earlier than I was supposed to," her father says.

"That's nice."

"Would be, if it didn't mean business was so damn slow." The man brushes his hands on his work shirt--probably from a garage, Matt guesses--and his eyes snap toward the unfamiliar man standing in his house.

"Dad, this is Matt," Jennie explains. "He works with me at the restaurant. Matt, this is my father, Ed."

"Nice to meet you," Matt says, stepping forward with an extended hand. Ed hesitates, then grumbles as he shakes Matt's hand.

"Steelers, huh?" Ed's iron stare makes Matt feel like a delinquint kid, but he manages a nod.

"Born and raised in Pennsylvania," he says.

Ed continues staring for a moment and then, with a disinterested shrug, drifts toward the kitchen. He sets his keys down on a small table as he goes. Jennie follows him quietly into the kitchen, so Matt falls into line behind her. Glancing down at Ed's keys, he notices the bold green-and-blue Seahawks keychain.

The inevitable uproar comes an instant later: "What the hell is going on in here?"

"We've got it under control, Dad," Jennie reassures him, her own voice shaky. "Something started leaking, and I didn't know what to do, so I called Matt."

Stepping into the kitchen, Matt sees that she has done an admirable job of cleaning up. All the water has been mopped up, and the towels have been moved into a neat pile.

"It was no big deal," Matt says, explaining the process in brief. "Should be fine now."

Ed appears tempted to argue, but instead he turns to Jennie. "How many goddamn towels did you have to use?"

Jennie offers a weak protest, which earns an annoyed huff from her father. Matt takes advantage of the lull to tap her on the shoulder.

"I'm gonna get going," he says quietly.

Jennie nods. "I'll walk you out." They trudge to the door silently, but once Matt opens it, he pauses.

"You wanna grab a bite to eat?" he asks. "Just to get out for a while?"

A sparkle passes quickly over her face. "I can't. I've gotta cook dinner and take care of some stuff. But thanks for helping me out. I would've been dead meat otherwise."

"No problem," he says, unsure of how to acknowledge the unpleasant situation awaiting her in the kitchen. "See you at work, I guess."

"Yeah ... Thanks again, Matt."

He steps outside, and Jennie closes the door. He tugs down the sleeves of his sweatshirt and heads for his truck.


Will Sarah and Diane escape unscathed?
Is Jennie as bad as she seems?
And how much more of this can Ryan take?
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