Episode #373

Previously ...
- Kelsey proposed to Courtney and Jason, individually, that they skate together for their final test. Courtney thought it was a good idea, but Jason's reaction was less certain.
- The morning after being attacked by her father and going to Matt for help, Jennie went to the police to file a report.
- Sarah and Matt decided to give their relationship another shot, but before they could seal the deal with a kiss, they were interrupted by the police--who arrested Matt for raping Jennie.


The living room lights glow as though it is the middle of the afternoon, and the late hour makes their color seem harsher than usual. Brent Taylor would prefer to turn them off entirely, but he is afraid that, if left in the dark, he would slip back into sleep in no time--and the phone call made it clear that is not an option.

Molly emerges from the kitchen, her robe pulled tightly around her ever-expanding stomach, carrying a tray with three cups of coffee. She sets the tray on the table, and Brent swiftly reaches for one.

"That one's yours," Molly says, indicating the cup closest to him. "I already put your sugar in it." Brent picks up the steaming cup and takes a grateful first gulp, hoping that it will give him the kick of energy that the lights and the television have failed to provide.

Stirring cream into her own coffee, Molly says, "I wonder what could be going on."

"It sounded pretty serious."

"I can't imagine that Sarah would call us, let alone so late, if it weren't."

Too dazed from the night's brief sleep for further conversation, they lapse into quiet, sipping their coffee and focusing halfheartedly on the TV. When footsteps sound on the landing outside, Brent springs into action. He opens the door before Sarah even has the chance to knock.

"Thanks for letting me come over. I'm sorry about the time," Sarah says as she hurries into the apartment. She casts a wary glance toward the couch. "Hi, Molly."

"Hi. Want some coffee?"

"I could use it," Sarah says, and as she settles in with the cup, explains, "This day has been absolutely insane."

Brent pushes up the sleeves of his sweatshirt and blinks the last remnants of sleep from his eyes. "What's the matter?"

Sarah sets her cup down on the coffee table. "Matt needs your help."


The television's sharp light shrouds the bedroom in a gentle glow, and its faint volume hums through the darkened room. In the bed, Jason Fisher and Lauren Brooks huddle together, the covers pulled tightly over them.

"I've seen this episode too many times," Jason says, scowling at the TV.

A note of amusement enters Lauren's voice as she says, "You've seen every episode too many times. It just now occurs to you that this might be an issue?"

"I said nothing about it being an issue. Me and too much Simpsons will never be an issue, don't worry. I've just seen this one so many times that it's losing its effect. I can't pay attention."

Lauren lifts her head from his chest. "Does that mean you're looking for a distraction?"

Meeting her grin with one of his own, Jason says, "There's a thought."

Without another word, Lauren moves her fingers to his chest. Only a few seconds later, Jason places his hand over hers, stopping her in her tracks.

"Hey, there's something I need to talk to you about," he says. Seeing her sudden, undisguised concern, he hurries to add, "Sorry for the freaky timing. No offense, seriously."

She props herself up on an elbow. "Is something wrong?"

"No, no. Nothing to worry about."

Lauren doesn't quite seem convinced.

"It's something that I thought I should ask for your advice on," Jason says. "I didn't think I should make a decision without getting your input."

"Are you busting into the stock market or something?"

"Please. Something that mature, coming from me?" That earns a smile from Lauren, and he continues: "Kelsey thinks that she should step aside and have me skate with Courtney for this last test. Since Court needs a partner anyway ..."

He watches Lauren's reaction closely. A bit of shock registers but quickly levels out.

"What does Courtney think?" Lauren asks. "Does she even know about this idea yet?"

"Kelsey talked to her first, and apparently she thought it was a good idea--which sort of shocked me, considering that she's spent the last few years wanting to use her blades to dice me up."

"Maybe she's mellowing out."

"Maybe, yeah."

Neither of them speaks for a long moment. Lauren exhales audibly, sharply, several seconds before she tosses the ball back into his court.

"I guess what really matters," she says, "is how you feel about this. Do you want to skate with Courtney again?"


By the time Sarah finishes recounting the tale of Matt's arrest and the frantic, confusing hours since, she has drained her coffee cup. Molly suggests a refill, but Sarah brushes away the offer with a wave of the hand.

"Aren't there some strings you can pull--something?" she asks, her focus sharply on Brent. "I know you and Matt aren't exactly best pals, but you know he isn't capable of this."

"He already has a lawyer?" Brent asks.

"Mm-hmm. I was able to get in touch with this guy I know as soon as he was arrested. He met us down at the station and has been with Matt the whole time." Sarah drops her head into her hands. "At least the arraignment is out of the way."

A sudden bustle fills the room, as Rex the pug dashes in and lands in Molly's lap. The dog is back to sleep in ten seconds flat.

Molly scratches the dog's neck with her artfully manicured nails. "Did Matt and Jennie--did he have sex with her?"

"He swears that nothing happened between them last night," Sarah says. "He said that after I left, he tried to take care of her bruise, but she tried to kiss him and he asked her to leave. She got hysterical and ran out. That's it."

"She's claiming that Matt gave her the bruise, though?" Brent asks.

"Yeah. Since I was the only other person who heard her say that her father gave it to her, I bet she's counting on the fact that it will look like I'm lying to cover for Matt."

Brent nods gravely.

"There has to be something you can do," Molly says to her husband. "This doesn't sound like Matt at all."

"It's not," Sarah says firmly.

"I can't promise anything," Brent says, "but first thing in the morning, I'll find out what I can." He keeps to himself any darker thoughts running through his mind: namely, that from his experience with rape cases, the perpetrator often doesn't seem capable of the crime, until all the facts come to light.

The electronic jingle of a cell phone sounds, and Sarah scoops the source out of her purse wearily. The conversation is brief, but it seems to rouse a new energy in her. Before hanging up, she says, "I'll see you at the station in 20 minutes."

"I've got to run," she tells Brent and Molly. "Thanks, for whatever it is you can do. Matt and I both really, really appreciate it."

She exits in a flurry of movement. Once the door is closed and they are alone, Molly says, "There must be something you can do, Brent. Matt is a good guy."

"I hope so," is Brent's mumbled response, and the unwelcome skepticism weighing on his chest makes it clear that he will not be getting any more sleep tonight.


Jason dangles on Lauren's question, and it immediately becomes clear to him that he needs to figure out his own answer before he can make any sort of decision.

Before he can give Lauren an answer, though, a loud crash thunders from elsewhere in the apartment. They both scramble upright.

"What was that?" Lauren asks.

"Do I look like I'm out there to see?" Jason climbs out of bed and pulls on a pair of Adidas warmups over his boxers.

Lauren stands, too, but more tentatively. "Do you think somebody's in the apartment?"

"I'm gonna say that's a better possibility than us having missed an earthquake," Jason says. "Probably Alex coming in."

"And walking into walls?"

Seemingly reassured, Lauren joins Jason at the bedroom door. He cracks it open, and Lauren grips his shoulder. Pulling the door open fully, he steps out into the short hallway ...

... and finds Alex and Trevor, lying in a heap on the carpet, both of them gasping for air.

"What happened?" Jason and Lauren both ask, merely milliseconds apart so that their words overlap into a ball of incoherence.

Alex raises his eyes to them, and Jason recognizes the glossy sheen in them immediately: drunkenness.

"Trevor forced me to give him a piggyback ride," Alex explains through laughter.

His expression serious--as serious as he can manage through the boozy haze--Trevor helpfully explains, "We were trying not to wake you guys up."

"Good thing we were up, 'cause you really did a bang-up job," Jason says. He watches as the two men bumble to their feet, stalled by their own laughter. "Get to bed, you lushes."

Lauren bumps her shoulder into her brother's side. "See you in the morning, Drunky."

"No, I'll see you in the morning!" Trevor vows, as Alex drags him into his room. Jason and Lauren troop back into Jason's bedroom.

"Kind of awkward that my brother is in the next room over," Lauren comments as they settle back into the bed.

"I think we've got enough weirdness in this group to last Jerry Springer a couple of seasons."

Lauren goes quiet with what Jason assumes is agreement, and she rests her head on his shoulder before speaking again.

"If you want to skate with Courtney," she says, "you should go for it. I think it's a good idea."

"You do?"

"I'm all for anything that helps us all be friends again. This bitter thing has gone on way too long."

Jason finds himself nodding, staring vacantly at the television. "Yeah. It really has."


"You're free to go."

The door closes, and Matt Gray stands, confused, at the mouth of the long corridor that, for the last several hours, seemed to have devoured his livelihood. Only now, without metal cuffs around his wrists or an officer hovering behind him, does he feel even the slightest hint of normalcy.

"Thank you," he says, hurrying toward Sarah, who meets him in the middle of the lobby. "How did you cover the bail so fast? I thought--"

Sarah turns to look over her shoulder, and Matt follows her gaze.

"You have your brother to thank for this," she explains. Jake Gray, with Mia Davich inches behind him, slowly approaches the pair.

Jake speaks carefully, as if concerned that his brother might blow his top at any instant. "Sarah called me this afternoon. We hopped on the first flight we could get."

"You put up my bail?" Matt asks.

"Of course."

Matt reaches out and grasps his brother's hand. "Thanks, Jake."

"I didn't do this," Matt says, meeting Jake's eye, then Mia's, and finally Sarah's. "You guys have gotta believe me."

Mia offers a confident smile. "Of course we do."

"I'm going to find a way to prove that you're innocent," Sarah says.

Grateful as he is, Matt doesn't feel quite as inspired as they seem to be. "It's her word against mine. You know how these cases are ..."

"We've got a long way to go," Mia says, "but you know Sarah's gonna find a way to work this out."

Matt feels Sarah's fingers interweaving with his own.

"I promise," she says, and in the moment, Matt believes that she will make it happen.


How can Sarah prove Matt's innocence?
Is this the beginning of a fresh start for the Gray brothers?
Will Lauren wind up regretting her advice to Jason?
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