Episode #396

Previously ...
- At his and Sarah's wedding reception, Matt learned from Brent that Jennie was found dead after a car accident. Matt kept this news from Sarah, just as he kept his realization that Jennie had locked Sarah in the freezer earlier.
- As Katherine met with her attorney to set her divorce in motion, Nick showed up at the house, having struck a deal with the authorities to be released on bail. He ordered Katherine out of his house, now that she no longer has anything to hold over his head.
- Ryan invited Claire to move into his loft with him -- and suggested that it might be time for her and Tim to discuss their future.


"You're sure this is the last of it?" Ryan Moriani asks as he and Claire Fisher step out of the elevator and into the hotel's lobby. Ryan carries a cardboard box piled high with Claire's belongings, and Claire rolls a suitcase behind her.

"That's it," Claire assures him. "Now all we have to do is carry it from your car into the loft."

Ryan groans at the prospect of a whole new project. "You know, if I didn't want you to move into my place..."

"But you do. Which means free labor for me." She flashes a grin that Ryan doesn't see, because his attention is now focused elsewhere.

Claire tracks his gaze across the lobby, to a familiar red-haired woman in an elegant sweater and slacks at the front desk. Ryan leads the way over to his stepmother and sets down the box at his feet.

"Katherine," he says, and for the first time, the older lady notices him.

"Ryan!" she exclaims. Then, as if realizing that she has been caught, she quickly adds, "What are you doing here?"

"Claire's been staying here, and I'm helping her move her things out. What about you?"

For a moment, Katherine's chin hangs in its usual, elevated position, but her face drops as she says, "Your father is out of jail."

"He's what?" Ryan asks. The outrage in his voice mirrors that swelling in Claire's chest.

Claire looks from Ryan to Katherine and back again. "How is that possible?"

"Apparently, he had some information that the authorities needed," Katherine says. "He refused to share unless they arranged for him to have bail. It seems that he had his way."

"That man is a menace!" Ryan says. "He should be behind bars for the rest of his life for what he did to Tim alone--nevermind the scheme he was running through Objection."

Katherine takes back her credit card from the desk clerk and signs her receipt. "I certainly would have preferred that. He blew into the house and ordered me to get out immediately."

Claire recognizes the spark of inspiration that flashes over Ryan's face. "We can find a way to get him out of that house," he tells Katherine. "You don't have to stay here."

"To tell the truth, I'm happy to be out of that place. Of course, I'd have preferred some more time to gather my things, but I'll find a new home of my own soon enough."

"I'm really sorry about this," Ryan says, as if some of the blame legitimately rests with him.

"Don't be. The man is a monster. There isn't anything you can do about it." A wicked smile turns up the corners of her mouth. "Besides, I've already met with my attorney to set the divorce in motion."

At the mention of divorce, Claire finds herself looking to Ryan--and he looks back at her.

"I'm going to make sure that that man doesn't enjoy a single second of his freedom," Katherine promises with a flourish of her fiery head.


It has been years since Tim Fisher came to this office. An odd mixture of familiarity and disorientation fills him as he takes in the hallways, cubicles, and faces that surround him now. In some ways, this place seems so different, but in others, he might as well have been here yesterday.

He finds Diane Bishop's office precisely where he remembers it being, and when he pokes his head inside, he finds Diane mashing angrily at the keyboard.

"This damn thing is always freezing on me!" she barks as she backs away from it.

"Bad time?" Tim asks, lingering in the doorway.

"No, come on in. I'll be grateful for the break." She observes Tim as he sits down across the desk from her. "Look at you. You look like your old self."

"I'm feeling that way," he says, "slowly but surely." He adjusts the knot of his tie and the lapels of his blazer.

"Here's the deal," Diane says. "I've been asking around in different divisions, and while there's nothing open that's equal to where you were when you..."


"I was going to say 'died,' but that seemed wrong." She laughs, and Tim can't help but join her. "Anyway, I can get you in reading manuscripts."

"Oh, God. Are you serious? Reading?"

"I know. It's not exactly ideal." She reaches across the desk and pats his forearm. "But hey, it's work, it's in publishing, and I'm sure if you do your time--"

"There will be opportunities to move up. Yeah. And I will be grateful just to be working again, doing something productive. Who do I have to meet with?"

"You're looking at her."

"You mean I got all dressed up for nothing?"

"I wouldn't say it's for nothing," Diane says. "I'm enjoying the sight." They are still enjoying the inside joke, the reference to their budding relationship, when there is a knock at the door.

"Oh, hey," Diane says, her voice much different now.

Tim turns as Brian Hamilton enters the office. "Hi, Brian."

"Hi, Tim." There is something about Brian's tone that Tim finds off-putting. If he didn't know better, he would think that Brian were being deliberately cold to him. Then, almost as an afterthought, Brian asks, "What are you doing here?"

"I'm looking to come back to work," Tim explains. "Diane might have found something for me."

"Are you sure you're feeling up to that?" Brian asks. He hands Diane a packed file folder.

"Yeah, I'm feeling great. Better every day."

Diane flips quickly through the file. "Thanks for getting this to me, Brian. Could you give Tim and me a couple of minutes? I'll come track you down to talk about this in a little bit."

Brian hesitates before saying, "Fine, yeah. See you later."

"What's wrong with him?" Tim asks quietly once Brian has exited. Diane responds with a shrug, then wipes away the unpleasantness completely with a broad smile.


The baggage carousel spins around and around, but none of the items are the ones for which Matt Gray is looking.

"Over there!" his wife says, pointing somewhere down the conveyor belt. They wait with baited breath for the brown duffel bag, but when it comes close, they realize that it only bears a close resemblance to one of their pieces of luggage.

"I always forget about this part of traveling 'til it's too late," Matt says.

"I'd say it was worth it for that honeymoon." Sarah's fingers curl around his arm, and Matt feels his blood pressure relax. She's right.

Finally one of their bags passes by, and Matt grabs it.

"That trip couldn't have been any better," Sarah says.

Matt nods in agreement. Their trip to the Pacific coast was the perfect follow-up to the madness of their wedding day: walks along the shore; long, lazy meals full of food and wine; mornings in bed that stretched into the afternoons. But there is one thing that has lingered in the back of Matt's mind this whole time, and now that they have returned to reality, he knows that he has to come clean.

"Hey, listen," he starts, "there's something I've been meaning to tell you."

Sarah's curiosity is visibly piqued, but she is just as quickly distracted again.

"There's my suitcase!"

They wait in silent anticipation for the suitcase to reach them. Matt picks it up off the carousel before he resumes speaking.

"I didn't want to make you crazy at the wedding," he says, "so there was something I didn't mention to you."

Her interest now morphs into alarm. "What?"

"When we were looking for you--when you were in that freezer--I saw something in the parking lot. Something that made me pretty sure you didn't wind up in there by accident."

Her stare urges him to continue.

"I saw Jennie's car turning out of the parking lot."

"Jennie was there?" He can see the gears in Sarah's mind turning, doing the math, and fitting together the pieces. "The commotion that I heard in the kitchen--it must have been her, trying to lure me in there."

"Yeah. I told Brent, and he had some officers keeping an eye out for her car."

"Did they find her?"

The answer sounds unreal to Matt, even though he has lived with the truth since the wedding reception. "They found her car in a ditch. It looked like she'd lost control and spun off the road."

"Was she..."

"Dead when they found her." Matt goes quiet, and thankfully, another of their bags comes by, and he focuses on that.

"Wow." Sarah sounds as shocked as Matt still feels. "That's... How could you not have told me?"

Her aggression catches Matt off-guard. "You were already a wreck at the wedding," he says. "And Brent called during the reception to tell me that they'd found her. I didn't want to ruin it for you by telling the whole story then."

"Or anytime during the days and days that we spent together afterward?"

"Sarah, don't do this."

Their final bag, which Matt didn't even see coming, appears in front of them. Sarah grabs it from the carousel. With a bag over her shoulder and a rolling suitcase in hand, she walks away from him.

Matt gathers his luggage quickly and chases her. "You can't seriously be mad about this."

"She locked me in a giant freezer at my wedding! I had a right to know."

"Would knowing have made things any better?" Matt struggles to keep up with her speedy pace. "Is this how it's gonna be?"

Sarah halts and turns to him. "What?"

"We're back in the real world for ten minutes and you're pissed at me for making a judgment call. Is this how being married is gonna be?"

He worries that he has pushed too hard, but by the grace of God, her face softens.

"No," she says. "Of course not. This isn't... I guess I understand why you didn't tell me."

"I wanted to make our wedding day as special as I could for you," Matt says. "I'm sorry I didn't say something sooner, though."

"I know."

They are silent for a long moment, and Matt can almost feel the dust settling around them.

"You're right," Sarah finally says. "It's stupid to fight over this. I know you meant well."

"Yeah. Now, you ready to get back to real life?"

Sarah gives an exaggerated groan. "After the trip we just had, I don't know if I'll ever be ready for that."


Ryan ascends quickly up the front steps and to the front door of his father's house. Its brick exterior stands forebodingly against the moody gray sky, and it gives Ryan the tiniest moment of pause before he pounds hard on the door.

A sneer spreads across Nick's face when he opens the door and spots his son.

"The good word has spread quickly, I see," Nick says.

"You're amazing," Ryan says. "How do you do it?"

"Looking for tips, are you?"

"I just had to see it for myself," Ryan says. "Claire and I ran into Katherine. You leave her alone, you listen to me? You have put that woman through enough."

Nick swipes away the finger that Ryan has stuck in his face.

"Please, Ryan. Katherine is far from innocent." Nick strolls away from the door, which Ryan takes as an invitation to follow him into the house.

Ryan waits until Nick looks at him again before saying, "Don't think this is going to last. You'll be back in prison in no time. This time, for good."

A laugh escapes Nick's throat. "Let's not rain on my parade just yet. But you mentioned Claire. Do I take that to mean you two are back together?"

"Yes. In spite of all the hell that you and Stan have put us through, Claire and I are finally together for good."

"Bravo," Nick says, his hands falling into a mockery of a clap. "Bravo, son. Somehow you've managed to convince that woman that you're some kind of knight in shining armor. I'm impressed."

Ryan isn't sure what Nick is insinuating; the one topic that he truly hoped to avoid with his father was his own involvement in the Objection drug ring. He'll never admit to Nick that he was the one who tipped off the police, but he also knows that he doesn't have to: Nick is smarter than that.

"You leave us alone," Ryan warns him. "That means me, and Claire, and Tim, and the rest of the Fishers. Leave us all alone."

"Don't flatter yourself," Nick says. "I have much more important things to concern myself with."

Ryan goes for the door. "Yeah, like rotting in prison for the rest of your miserable life. Have fun with that."

Nick doesn't say anything. Ryan is sure that Nick is smiling to himself, maybe even planning some new way to get back at Ryan for turning away from him. He can't even bring himself to look back and confirm his suspicion, so he keeps walking, right out the front door and back to his car.


When Tim bounds through the door of his parents' house, fresh from his meeting with Diane at Vision, he finds an unexpected sight awaiting him: his wife sits on the sofa, staring idly at the television and sipping from a Starbucks cup.

"Oh, hey," he says, slowing his step and trying his best to be casual.

"Hey." Claire shifts in her seat and picks up the remote. "What are you dressed up for?"

Tim is unable to suppress his excitement. "I had a meeting at Vision."

"You're going back to work?"

"Yeah! It's not exactly what I was doing before, but it's work, and I'll be able to look out for in-house opportunities."

"That's great, Tim," Claire says with a warmth that makes him wonder why they can't simply put the weirdness of the last several years behind them and return to the way things were.

He loosens his tie. "What are you doing here? Waiting for the kids to get home?"

"Yeah. I'm dying to see them." She focuses on the remote control. "And I was hoping we'd have a chance to talk."

"Of course, yeah. Let me just go and grab some water. You want anything?" She declines, and he heads for the kitchen, enthused by the relaxed vibe between them. He returns to the living room with his water.

"Talk away," he says as he removes the tie and drops into a chair.

"I can't keep staying at the hotel, Tim. It's been way too long."

He nods, trying to figure out where this is going. Does she want to move back in here?

"Are you looking at getting a place?" he asks carefully.

"Not exactly," she says, folding her hands in her lap. "Tim, I'm... I'm moving in with Ryan."

Now it is a fight for Tim to remain calm, and he is certain that he doesn't do a very good job of it while struggling to form words.

"This has to be resolved sometime, right?" she asks, as if she genuinely needs his approval before proceeding.


She draws a deep breath. "I think it's time for us to start talking about a divorce."


How will Tim react to Claire's decision?
Is Diane going to be caught between Tim and Brian at work?
Do Nick and Katherine each have some tricks up their sleeves?
Come over to the Footprints Forum to talk about it!

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