Episode #369

Previously ...
- Tim realized that Claire had been out alone with Ryan.
- When Ryan pressured Claire to choose him, she compared him to Stan, which sent an offended Ryan fleeing.
- Courtney met up with Josh but was resistant to his overtures of reconciliation. Instead she ended their relationship.
- Lauren cut short a date with Jason to pick up an inebriated Josh from a party.
- Alex located Trevor, who turned out to be the one who'd gotten Dylan to drop the phony plagiarism charge. They agreed to put their miscommunications behind them and finally shared a kiss.


The restaurant is just busy enough to give it a certain livelihood without seeming hectic or overcrowded, a fact for which Alex Marshall is immensely grateful. He has been looking forward to a pleasant lunch with ample conversation, and he feared that the place might be too packed with families to afford such an opportunity.

He easily locates the booth where Courtney Chase is seated. She looks up from her drink--diet soda, Alex guesses--to greet him.

"I'm so glad to see you!" she says. "I was starting to feel like a loser, sitting here all by myself."

Alex slides into the booth across from her. "Yeah, sorry about that. I kinda got held up." He can feel the grin betraying him even as he speaks.

"What's that face for?"

He slinks downward, suddenly bashful, and finds himself looking away.

"Come on," Courtney urges. "What is it?"

He faces her again, unable to banish the idiotic grin from his face. All of a sudden, realization dawns on her face.

"Oh my God! You totally got lucky!" She pauses a moment, just long enough for his silence to confirm her guess. "With who? Come on, spill!"

"It's more than that," he says, his cheeks warm. "It's Trevor ..."

"You guys hooked up?"

"Well, we're--I dunno, dating, I guess."

"Whoa. Back it up, back it up. How'd that happen?"

Alex recounts the entire drama: the mysterious accusation of plagiarism; his foolish suspicion of Trevor; and Trevor's success in getting Dylan to come clean.

"So I went out to that spot by the river, where he took me last summer," he explains, "and there he was. I thought he might be angry with me, but ..."

"Obviously not," Courtney fills in, a suggestive smirk on her lips. "I'm really happy for you, Alex. You deserve this."

"Thanks." He goes quiet for a few seconds, reliving his time by the river with Trevor. "I'm ready to be done with drama. From here on out, it's just enjoying life, appreciating what I've got, and seeing where things go."

"Good! Oh, this is so awesome! You guys are perfect together, seriously." She sips at her soda, and her expression transforms ever so slightly. "I hope I can get as lucky as you have--no pun intended."

Through a laugh, Alex asks, "What about Josh?"

Courtney's features cinch up. "That's done--and from what I can tell, we're both pretty okay with that."


Brent Taylor buries his head in his hands, savoring the door's click as it shuts firmly behind his departing visitor. Sometimes he wonders how he ever could have left the public sector of law enforcement for a time; days like today remind him more than adequately. After all, he only has so much patience for dealing with wayward officers caught urinating on the lawns of crime scenes.

When the next knock on his door sounds, he groans out loud, takes a moment to steady himself, and calls for whoever it is to come in. He makes a mental note to keep his cool, though if someone else has had a problem keeping his--or her--fly zipped, all bets might be off.

He breathes an audible sigh of relief when he sees that the visitor is his brother-in-law.

"Tim! What's going on? Have a seat!"

Tim ambles toward the desk, moving with greater ease than Brent has seen since his return. His steps are still deliberate, but they look less labored than they have over the past several months.

"Is this an okay time?" Tim asks, lingering over a chair.

"Yeah. Please, I could use the break--unless you're here to tell me that you caught one of my officers relieving himself in your yard."

"Not exactly. But this isn't really a social visit, either."

"Why, what's going on?"

Tim takes a long moment to respond. It looks as though he is gathering his strength, preparing for something exhausting.

"It's Claire," he finally says. The pronouncement gives way to a spell of silence, during which Brent does his best to measure his reaction. If Tim is getting at what Brent suspects he is, then Brent has to proceed carefully. They all knew this was a possibility from the moment that Tim returned.

"I know about her and Ryan. I have for a while."

"Oh ..." Brent has no idea how else to respond.

Thankfully, Tim picks up the slack. "I thought we could jump back into our marriage like nothing had changed. Claire insisted we could. It was stupid to believe that."

"She really does love you," Brent hears himself saying, before he has even had a chance to process the thought. "It's not like she stayed with you out of pity."

"But it was stupid to think she'd get over Ryan so easily. They got really close--God only knows how or why. And that's where you come in."

Brent shifts in his seat.

"I know exactly what I need to do to rebuild my marriage," Tim says. "I have to figure out what the hell was going in that clinic, why I was being kept there."

"Domingo refuses to talk. If he names one name, then he opens the floodgates and makes himself a lot of new enemies. He has a lot of people to protect."

"Then we need to give him enough incentive to name names. There's a reason Stan Lincoln had that information on him when he was killed."

Brent agrees with a swift nod. That loose end has troubled him for months, but without help from Domingo, there isn't much that they have been able to do about it.

"We have to come up with a way to make him talk," Tim says, "because I'm more convinced than ever that when he does, he's going to point us to one name: Ryan Moriani."


Ryan Moriani works his way through the maze of cubicles and corridors. After a few weeks of working at Objection, he finally has a handle on the place's layout, and he takes a special pleasure in navigating it so expertly. Seeing that Molly Taylor's office door is open, he raps lightly on it as he ducks inside.

Molly looks up and smiles. "Hey!"

"Hey. You have a couple minutes?"

"Yeah, of course. Sit down." She drops her pen on top of the notepad in front of her.

"Julian wanted me to bring this to you," he says, handing her the file folder.

Molly glances over its contents. "Is this just the reworked version of that thing from yesterday?"

"Yeah. And I know you hate dealing with this kind of thing, so don't worry too much about it. All we did was make those changes that we all discussed."

Looking relieve, she closes the folder and banishes it to a far corner of her desk. "Thanks."

Only now does Ryan draw up one of the chairs across from her. He feels strange doing this, but she is his sister ...

"Have you talked to Claire recently?" he asks.

Her demeanor suddenly wary, Molly says slowly, "No ... Why?"

"Everything kind of blew up--with me and her and Tim."

"What happened?"

"Tim knows." He waits a moment for that to sink in. "Seems like he's known for a while and didn't want to rock the boat, I guess. But Claire and I spent some time together, and he found out."

Now Molly's face goes dark, clouded by what Ryan interprets as disappointment.

"It's over," he assures her. "I know that."

"Then why would you be spending time alone with her? After we all went out of our way to keep our mouths shut, for Tim's sake--"

"Maybe I thought we still had a chance. I don't know. But I'm convinced that it's done now." Seeing Molly's skepticism, he adds, "I only wanted to know how Tim reacted. I cut out of there pretty fast. And I'm sure Paula can't be thrilled with me, either."

"Probably not," Molly says, sighing heavily.

An awkward quiet overtakes them, and Ryan has the urge to bolt from the office. He never should have brought this up with her. All he's accomplished is making Molly think that he can't be trusted.

Her next words surprise him: "You're really ready to put what you had with Claire in the past?"

Claire's accusation clangs around in his head, even louder than they have since she first spat them at him. "You sound like your father--you sound like Stan."

Ryan nods, very slowly, very deliberately. "Yes. I really am."


"Knock, knock," announces a voice from behind Lauren Brooks. She looks up from her work to see Josh Taylor leaning against the cubicle's wall, arms crossed in front of him.

"Hey Josh," she says, setting aside the papers she's been perusing. She finds herself trying hard to be pleasant--or at least pleased to see him.

For as much as she's gotten to know of him, she likes to think that he means well. Even so, each time they speak, she knows it's only a matter of time before he inevitably puts his foot in his mouth or says something to offend her.

When he walks into her office with his hands behind his back, Lauren realizes how uncomfortable she feels around him. "What are you doing?" she asks.

"Here," he says, shoving something toward her. She studies his creation, a white rectangle of paper taped to a straw. "I figured since you've been ignoring me for the past day or two, I should apologize. See, it's a white flag. I made it on my break."

"At least you know you always have a career in teaching kindergarten to fall back on." She rolls her eyes, but accepts his peace offering the same way she continues to accept his numerous apologies.

"Somehow I don't think the educational system would want me ... especially after the shit I pulled the other night."

"Your language could use some work, too," Lauren adds snottily.

"I think we've sufficiently covered the attack on my maturity level," Josh concedes, his wide smile making him seem even more impish. "Seriously, I hope I wasn't too annoying. I really appreciate you helping me out like you did."

Lauren can read his sincerity. "I'd like to think you'd do the same for me. Besides, I got a good laugh out of you cursing 'Scotty and his horse-faced girlfriend' all the way home for ditching you."

Josh scratches his head and winces. "Yeah, I was a little out of control."

"We all have our embarrassing moments."

"It's too bad Courtney's doesn't see things the way you do. She could stand to lighten up a bit, you know?" he sighs.

Lauren decides to avoid commenting on Courtney's faults. "Are you two still fighting?"

"Still fighting would imply that we are 'still dating' ... which isn't really the case anymore."

Lauren's eyes widen. She gives him a sympathetic frown. "I'm sorry, Josh."

He shurgs exaggeratedly. "Enh! Probably wasn't meant to be, anyway." She sees him tense up suddenly. "I should get back to work."

"Thanks for the gift," she says, waving her flag at him as he walks away.


Courtney finishes explaining the tale of her meeting in the park with Josh: "And I could just tell that, like, I didn't care. I felt indifferent about the whole thing."

"Probably a good sign that it's not headed anywhere," Alex says, setting down the iced tea that the waiter brought him while Courtney relayed her story.

"I'm not wasting energy on something that doesn't even feel important," she says. "Besides, he's kind of a dick, anyway."

"I haven't been too impressed with him. And as long as you're happy ..."

"I am. Breaking up was the right thing to do." Courtney lifts her soda but pauses, suspending it millimeters from her mouth. "I don't think Josh is exactly heartbroken, either. Seems like he's got a little crush on the side."

"What makes you think that?"

She sighs, as if trying to expel all traces of her annoyance with the situation from her body. "He was talking about how he got stranded at some party and called me for a ride, and I didn't answer, but Lauren did, and that was so great of her and blah, blah, blah."

"You think he's got a crush on Lauren?" Alex asks, an alarm sounding in his head.

Courtney nods, and previously insignificant scraps fly through Alex's mind: Jason casually explaining that Lauren had to take off; Josh lurking around Lauren's house; Lauren trying to keep him out of Alex's sight. At the time, he didn't think much about any of it, but now ...

"What's wrong?" Courtney asks.

He recovers as quickly as he can, doing his best not to show his suspicions--if they even have any merit, because really, he doesn't think Lauren would intentionally do anything to hurt Jason.

"Oh, nothing," he says, returning to his iced tea, though he cannot stop the wheels spinning in his head.


Will Alex mention his suspicions to Jason?
Is Tim's hunch correct? Can they get Domingo to talk?
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