Episode #379

Previously ...
- Courtney told Sarah that she saw Jennie--with her bruise--before the time of the alleged rape.
- Tim hoped that, by proving Ryan was behind his disappearance, he could bridge the gap between himself and Claire.
- Katherine reported to Ryan that Tim had offered to remain quiet about Nick's criminal dealings if Nick fingered Ryan as the one who held Tim at the Vermont clinic.


Matt Gray studies the ragged property with trepidation. The sky, now dim with twilight, shrouds the scene with a sense of foreboding. From the looks of things, a dark figure could leap out at any moment and knock him and Sarah senseless.

Sarah must notice his reluctance, because without prompting, she assures him, "This is what we've got to do. Maybe we can talk some sense into Jennie."

"I don't think she had any to begin with," Matt says, forcing himself to continue up the walkway until they arrive at the Burkles' front door. He still isn't convinced that such a hands-on approach is the best idea.

"Trust me," Sarah says as she rings the doorbell. Matt tries his best as they await an answer.

The door opens to reveal Ed Burkle's hardened face, its creases cemented in a permanent scowl.

"You've got no business coming here," Ed tells Matt.

"Mr. Burkle," Sarah says, "we need to have a talk with your daughter. There's been a new development in the case, and we think she might--"

Ed reaches for a nearby cordless telephone. "I'm calling the cops."

"Give us five minutes!" Sarah lets herself into the house, and Matt's hesitant feet follow. An instant later, Jennie emerges from the kitchen and assumes her place behind her father.

"You're not welcome here," the young woman announces. "Neither of you." Her veneer of self-assurance is flimsy, Matt can see; it appears likely to collapse any second now. But Jennie maintains her steely expression, eyeing both of them.

"We have something to discuss with you," Sarah says.

"There's nothing for us to talk about, especially not after the way you came after me at the restaurant before." Jennie takes the phone from Ed. "I'm calling the police."

Sarah snatches the phone from her. "No, you're not! You're going to listen to what we have to say--because I have a feeling you'll be very interested."

"The only thing I'm interested in from either of you is an apology."

"You can't always have what you want," Sarah says pointedly. "Now, Jennie: does the name Courtney Chase ring a bell?"


The brass numerals loom imposingly before Tim Fisher. The numbers are correct, the same as the ones on the small piece of paper that Claire left on the refrigerator. Tim's eyes have passed over it frequently, always pausing to consider; those numbers seemed like an invitation, or were at least as tempting as one. Now that he is here, however, he fears that he has overstepped his bounds.

Checking his nerves, Tim knocks on the door. A moment later, Claire opens it, and he is left standing there with his tongue in a knot.

"I, uh, I wanted to see you," he says. He raises the paper grocery sack in his right hand. "Thought you might be hungry."

Her expression, initially as inviting as the proverbial deer in headlights, now softens. "Come on in."

Tim surveys the hotel room that his wife has called home for the last few weeks. It looks just like the other rooms at the hotel that Tim has seen: neutral tones, unintrusive gold lamps and fixtures, a soft-looking queen-sized bed. He isn't sure whether he is relieved to see that she is staying someplace comfortable or sad that it is such an impersonal space.

"I know you had a long day at the hospital," Tim says, setting down the paper bag on the desk. He removes its contents: two hot sandwiches, pressed on her favorite focaccia bread; a bottle of wine; a corkscrew; and two plastic cups.

"Sorry I missed you and your mother," she says. "Molly and Brent came down to see me on their way out, though."

"Can you believe they're having twins?"

"I'm not sure that they really believe it yet!"

Now that they have begun to settle into conversation, Tim feels his body relaxing. His heartbeat calms, his hands steady, and the anxious buzz coursing through his veins subsides. He unwraps the foil around the sandwiches and hands one to Claire, who recognizes it immediately.

"Smoked turkey and provolone and spinach leaves!" she exclaims as he hands her one of the still-warm sandwiches. "Tim, you didn't have to."

"Hey, don't forget about the dijon. That's in there, too."

"Thank you," she says, genuine appreciation radiating from her words. "This was really thoughtful of you."

Tim shrugs it away as no big deal. "I hope I'm not intruding. I just wanted to see you, and it's been so long since we had any time for the two of us ..."

"Not at all." She dismisses his concerns with a wave of her hand. "I'm glad you came by."

Relieved, Tim busies himself with opening the wine bottle. "I hope you're impressed enough by the sandwich not to be turned off by plastic cups," he says. "Glass is a little harder to transport."

"I think I can handle it," Claire says with a smile, watching as he pours the wine.


The voice comes from behind to startle Ryan Moriani.

"I'm somehow acceptable again?" it asks.

With a start, Ryan turns in the high-backed bar chair. "It'd been a while since I saw you. Is it a crime to ask my father to have a drink with me?"

"No, but it's certainly a little strange," Nick says as he settles into the chair beside Ryan. The older man catches the bartender's attention and orders a Scotch. "What's this about?"

"I don't know why you're so crotchety," Ryan says.

"It's the only way that I know how to relate to you."

Ryan pauses to sip at his martini--an exceptionally strong one; he admonishes himself to stop at one--and glances around the busy restaurant. Its glass and silver accents provide a thousand attention-grabbing distractions, and he allows his gaze to wander before addressing Nick again.

"There is something specific I want to discuss with you," he says at last.

Nick nods--knowingly, even smugly--and then accepts his drink from the bartender.

Ryan lowers his voice, even though his words are sure to be muffled by the din of the crowd anyway. "Are you still working that deal for Esposito?"

Though he begins to answer, Nick quickly catches himself. He draws his shoulders back. "What, are you fishing for info now?"

"No. I'm ..." He stalls again and fills the lull with another gulp of the martini. "I'm interested."

It takes only an instant for realization to gleam in Nick's eye. "Interested-interested?"

Ryan nods, and the older man emits a tough, condescending little laugh.

"And the prodigal son returns," Nick says. "Why now? I thought you were settled into that cushy job of yours with Camille's firm."

"I've been having some conflicts with the guy who runs the department. I'm a little worried about longevity there. Having something reliable to fall back on would be nice."

Nick nearly manages to suppress a self-satisfied grin but does not quite succeed.

"Why should I give you a chance?" he asks. "After the attitude you gave me--"

"Because I'm admitting that I was wrong. And now that Tim is back, I don't have a leg to stand on with Claire, and if I can't be with her ..." He trails off, losing his focus for a moment in the depths of the martini glass. He downs the rest of it in one final slug. "... then I've got no reason to worry about appearances."

Nick tamps his mustache thoughtfully and studies his son. He works on his drink in silence and finally, after what Ryan finds to be an excruciating bout of silence, sets down the glass.

"You've got a deal," Nick says.

"Thanks, Dad. I really appreciate it," Ryan says--his right hand buried in the pocket of his slacks, his fingers crossed.


Matt sees the panic flash over Jennie's face, and for the first time since she sprung this plan on him, he truly believes in Sarah's assurances. Jennie knows exactly what this is about.

Nevertheless, she covers quickly, asking in an unsteady voice, "The girl who used to date your brother?"

"That's the one," Sarah says, turning the cordless phone over and over in her hand. "Do you remember, say, bumping into her recently?"

Jennie shakes her head, but it is the kind of hard, frantic shake that practically announces itself as a lie.

"Well, Courtney remembers running into you--on the night of this alleged rape, as a matter of fact. And she swears that you were out buying ice cream with that bruise on your face nearly an hour before you claim to have gone back to Matt's."

Matt looks to Ed for his reaction to the mention of the bruise. His expression betrays his own guilt. These people might be sleaze, Matt thinks, but at least they're not very good liars.

"Okay, look," Sarah says, straightening her back. "There's no physical evidence that you and Matt had sex. There are now two witnesses who can testify that they saw you with that bruise before you were even alone with Matt. You have no case."

Jennie raises her chin smugly. "I'm not going to let you intimidate me like this. After what I've been through--"

"Give me a break, Jennie!"

Matt is glad that Sarah says it, because if she hadn't, he would have, and he'd prefer to remain as uninvolved in this encounter as possible.

"Now here's the deal." Sarah's tone makes it clear that this is more than a proposal--it's a mandate. "You drop the charges. In return, we don't pursue criminal charges or a civil suit--or both--against you for cooking up this bogus rape allegation."

"You can't bully my daughter like this," Ed declares, taking a step closer to Sarah so that he can loom threateningly over her.

Sarah doesn't flinch. "If I were you, I wouldn't push your luck, Mr. Burkle. Do you really want the police investigating where Jennie really got that bruise?"

With an audible gulp, Ed swallows whatever words he might have had prepared. Sarah hands him the phone.

"Oh, one more thing," she says. The Burkles' fear is plain to see now. "Jennie, first thing tomorrow, you hand in your resignation at the restaurant. I don't want to put my father in the middle of this."

"No way!" Jennie shakes her head forcefully. "I need that job!"

"You should've thought of that before you cooked up such a flimsy story," Sarah says. "Do we have a deal, then?"

Neither Jennie nor Ed responds, so Sarah reaches out for the phone.

"Give me that. I guess I should call my brother-in-law, the police commander--"

"Fine!" Jennie exclaims, with all the poise of a preteen girl who has just been told that she can't go to the school dance.

Matt and Sarah look to Ed for his agreement, but it appears to Matt that the man might lunge at them instead. After some quiet coaxing from Jennie, however, his shoulders slump.

"Get off my property," Ed mutters, "or you're gonna have yourself a whole new set of problems."

Sarah turns with a satisfied smirk, and Matt, still incredulous, follows her back to the car.


Leaning against the side of the bed, Tim balls the foil from his now-finished sandwich into a tight ball. His legs sprawl across the floor, and as he sips his wine, something strangely similar to contentment fills him.

Claire finishes the last few bites of her sandwich and then, planting her hands behind her for support, reclines.

"I needed that," she says. "I'd barely eaten anything all day."

"That's not good for you." Tim's tone is considerate, the kind of caring remonstration that he doles out without thinking. They go quiet, each sipping the wine and appreciating the peace in the air.

"Remember the night we got engaged?" Tim asks suddenly, after realizing that he has been lingering on the memory for what feels like minutes.

"Yeah, I think I kind of remember that," Claire says with a laugh. "I haven't gone senile quite yet."

"After you accepted, I mean. Remember how we sat on the floor of my apartment all night long talking about the future and all the plans we had?"

He can see the cloud of memory drift over Claire and envelop her for a long moment.

"All we wanted was to settle into our careers, have a few kids, buy a comfortable house," she says wistfully. "How did all that turn out to be so difficult?"

"Maybe it was somewhere around the time your father kidnapped our son and ran off with him," Tim cracks.

Claire doesn't miss a beat. "Or the time Diane tricked you into thinking she was me and got pregnant ..."

They share a hearty laugh at the ridiculousness of it all, something that, for a long time, Tim never thought would be possible. Now it fills him with hope.

"If we made it through that stuff," he says, "we can make it through anything. All of those things came from the outside--we stayed strong. This is no different."

Claire's response doesn't come as expected, and he sees that her eyes are now searching the carpet.

"This is a little different," she says finally. As much as he was hoping that it wasn't true, he knows that she is right: this isn't about something external, at least not entirely. This has to do with the very foundation of their relationship and whether it is powerful enough for Claire to turn away from Ryan forever.

Quieter now, he says, "I need to apologize for being such a jerk at Travis's birthday. I shouldn't have picked a fight with Ryan like that."

She accepts the apology with a silent nod.

"Claire, I know this is hard for you to believe, but that clinic--Ryan has to be connected to it somehow. It's the only thing that makes sense."

"You don't know that."

"I can feel it," he insists, avoiding her counterpoint. "I want you to be prepared when the truth comes out. I know you've grown to care about him, for whatever reason--"

"Tim, he's your brother."

"My mother gave birth to him. He's not my brother," Tim says. "I don't want to see you get hurt anymore than you already have been."

"I'm pretty sure that's inevitable." Her gaze has gone hard, and without warning, she rises to her feet.

The tide has turned, Tim can feel it; he kicks himself mentally for ruining the mood. Regardless, he stands, placing his half-finished cup of wine on the nightstand.

"I should get going," he says, before she has the opportunity to say it. Claire simply nods and folds her arms across her chest.

"It was really nice to see you and spend time with you," he tells her as he lets himself out. "And Claire? I love you."

She nods again, and her silence gives Tim's heart pause.

"I love you, too," she says finally.

A little bit relieved--but not much--Tim makes his exit.


Do Tim and Claire still stand a chance?
Is Ryan digging his own grave?
Are Sarah and Matt really through with Jennie?
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