Episode #397

Previously ...
- Alex told Trevor and his friends about an upcoming book signing in Portland.
- Kelsey told Brian that she took a job managing Objection's new Seattle store and would be leaving King's Bay.
- Tim went to Vision to discuss job opportunities with Diane. Things got awkward when Brian walked in on the two of them, and they noted his strange behavior.
- Ecstatic over the prospect of going back to work, Tim came home and found Claire waiting for him. She dampened his enthusiasm by announcing her plans to move in with Ryan--and then suggested that they discuss divorce.


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

Tim Fisher feels his stomach drop out as the word hits his ears. It is the one word that hadn't yet been mentioned, and its absence has allowed him to maintain hope that, somehow, his family might come back together. But now Claire has uttered that word, and every last fleck of optimism in Tim has been blown asunder.

"Why?" He knows it is a stupid question -- he knows why they are not together right now. Nevertheless, he has to ask.

"Tim..." Claire turns away.

"I only tried to make that deal with Nick because I wanted to protect you and the kids," he hears himself saying, though he has no control of his mouth. "I really believed that Ryan was responsible for keeping me in that clinic." He doesn't know where the plea came from, and he hardly expects it to change her mind, but he has to give it a shot.

"I know. I understand." She moves a hand toward him, as if driven by instinct to touch him; realization strikes and she stops the hand before it makes contact. Instead it sits awkwardly between them, hanging there like an explanation that she cannot bring herself to give.

Tim's adrenaline, which a moment ago was surging, now plummets. His shoulders and his spirit slump. "How did things turn out this way?"

Claire shakes her head. There is a sadness to the movement that only contributes to Tim's own anguish.

"In a different world, one where Nick hadn't taken you away and interfered with our lives, I really think we would have made it," she says. She stands before Tim has the chance to react. He is about to open his mouth when she speaks again.

"I'll have the lawyer get in touch with you," she says.

Tim sits, devastated and silent, as she lets herself out.


Diane Bishop moves swiftly through the halls of Vision Publishing, shaking the cluster of papers that she is bringing to the copy machine. The sooner she gets this stuff to Human Resources, the sooner Tim will be cleared to resume work. The possibility of them working in the same office has given her a new, intensified hope for whatever is developing between them.

When she rounds the corner into the copy room, however, her mood takes a nosedive. Standing at one of the machines is Brian Hamilton, his face is screwed up with frustration.

"Damn you," he mutters to the copier, giving it a controlled kick for emphasis. The machine responds by whizzing and whirring, but from what Diane can see, it produces nothing resembling a photocopied sheet of paper.

"You should know by now never to use that one," she says. "It never works."

Brian looks up and, seeing her, hesitates before responding. "I always forget how untrustworthy it is until it's too late."

Diane goes straight to the other machine and places the first of her papers on the tray. One press of a button later, the machine is making encouraging noises. She stands back as it spits out her copy.

Brian smacks his hand, hard, against the defiant copier.

"I'll be done with this one in a minute," she says. "Stop trying to force that one into behaving."

"I'll get it to work. Don't worry about it.

"Just trying to be helpful," she says, and she goes on making her copies. It's his problem if he wants to be so stubborn.

She opens her machine, then stops to look at him. "Is this because of that thing with Tim before?"

"What are you talking about?" he asks in what might be the worst imitation of nonchalance that she has ever seen.

"You're jealous," Diane says. "Of Tim and me."

Brian focuses hard on the copier, pushing buttons that do nothing. All of a sudden, he kicks the side of the machine again and snatches his document from the machine's bed.

"You've got to be joking me," he says. "I'm not jealous."

He moves past her on his way out of the room. She is about to scoff when he stops just long enough to add, "I'm furious--at myself, for being stupid enough to throw away what I had with Kelsey."

He leaves before she can call him on what she is sure is a lie.


The blade of Jason Fisher's ice skate shreds the ice into a fine powder as he stops beside Courtney Chase. The pair strikes the final pose of their program as the music's last notes sound over the arena's speaker system.

"I am impressed," says their coach, Sandy James, as Jason and Courtney skate over to her.

"That felt great," Jason says. Sandy agrees, but nevertheless goes on to enumerate several ways in which the program could have been even stronger. As Jason listens, his attention strays to the petite young woman in a light green winter coat who is approaching them.

"You guys totally look ready for this test," Kelsey Barker says as she joins them at the side of the ice.

"Thanks," Jason and Courtney say, almost simultaneously but not quite.

"Are you all ready to go?" Sandy asks Kelsey.

"Yep. My things are in the car, I turned in the key to my apartment... I'm all set."

"We're going to miss you around here," Sandy says.

"I'm going to miss you guys, too, but this move is the right thing for me." Kelsey's face radiates excitement.

"You're going back home for the holidays and then moving to Seattle, right?" Courtney asks.

"Yeah. It will be nice to have the time with my family before I start out in a whole new place." She gazes out over the ice. "I'll miss skating, but it's time to move on. This job with Objection is too good an opportunity to pass up. Jason, Sandy, thank you for helping me finish out my tests."

Sandy smiles. "It's been my pleasure."

"Mine, too," Jason says, leaning over to gives her a hug. "You'd better keep in touch."

"Don't worry. I will."

"Thanks for everything," Jason adds.

"Good luck on your test, you guys! You look terrific!" Kelsey says to both him and Courtney. They thank her, and a final round of hugs are exchanged.

"Good luck in Seattle!" Jason calls out as Kelsey walks away from them. She turns, smiles, and leaves the arena, on her way to a new chapter of her life.


Alex Marshall stares at the computer monitor, unable to break his eyes from the words before him. He reads them over and over, and each time exposes a new detail that slices into his gut like a sharp razor.

"Are you almost ready to go?"

Trevor Brooks's voice travels to him from down the hallway, and footsteps follow a moment later. Trevor looks at the open suitcase on the bed, half-filled with folded clothing. "Alex, come on. We've got to leave for the airport soon."

"Yeah," Alex says, still intent on the monitor.

Trevor comes up behind him. "What are you doing?"

"I was printing out my boarding pass, and I started playing around--"

"And reading reviews." Alex can feel Trevor reading over his shoulder. "Not a good one?"

"Not even close. Apparently I'm 'meandering' and 'rambling,' and--"

"You can't let this stuff get to you."

"Yeah, but it's hard not to!"

Trevor kneels down beside the computer chair. "Look at it this way: so some people don't like your book. Meanwhile, there are going to be plenty of people in Portland who come to hear you read, and if you miss your flight, they're not going to be so happy."

Alex looks at his half-packed luggage but doesn't move. "I wish someone would've warned me how hard this is."

"That's the price you pay for getting to do the thing you love," Trevor says. He reaches over and takes control of the mouse.

"What are you doing?"

The printer comes to life with a whirr.

"I'm inspiring you and coming to your rescue," Trevor says with a cheesy grin. He pulls the finished sheet from the printer. "Here."

He tacks it to the bulletin board above Alex's desk.

"That's supposed to help me how?" Alex asks.

"Every time you sit down to write, you'll see that bad review and think about how want to work even harder and write even better. No more of this taking-it-personally."

As he looks at the printed sheet, Alex isn't quite sure, but Trevor's hand on his shoulder sends a surge of confidence through him.

Finally he cracks a smile. "Look at you, being all zen and self-helpy."

"I'm good for something," Trevor says with a shrug. "Now come on and get packing. You have a flight to catch."


Claire feels like a cannonball as she shoots out the front door: no direction, no thoughts of the future, just pure momentum. She has to get out of there, away from Tim. It is only once she makes it off the porch that she is able to catch her breath.

It is at that moment, however, that Paula Fisher's Toyota pulls into the driveway. Though she would rather run away right now, Claire waits for her mother-in-law to climb out of the car. Paula brings with her a single paper grocery bag.

"What brings you by?" she asks as she approaches Claire.

Claire's throat tightens. Having this conversation with Tim was difficult enough; breaking the news to his parents seems impossible.

She tries to force the explanation out, feeling like a parent nudging a child into an unfamiliar, frightening situation. "I had to talk to Tim."

"Oh." Paula seems unfazed by the statement, which means that she hasn't picked up on its implications. "The kids will be home from school soon, won't they? Do you want to stay for dinner?"

"I really shouldn't. I..." Staring off into the distance helps Claire to distance herself from the words. "I just finished talking to Tim about starting divorce proceedings."

As though someone has blown a whistle, she feels the entire conversation turn at that moment. Paula's eyes widen, and her stare morphs into something much more intense.

"Are you sure?" the older woman asks finally.

Claire nods, pursing her lips tightly.

"Then it's the right thing to do."

Paula's matter-of-fact response surprises Claire, but only for an instant. Of course Paula would be so reasonable about this; she understands what Claire has been through over the course of Tim's disappearance and return.

"Thank you for being so good to me," Claire says.

"Honey, you're a part of this family. You always will be. I want you to be happy just as much as I want Tim and Ryan to be."

The comforting touch of Paula's hand on her arm soothes Claire's frazzled nerves, and she wonders if there is some way that, someday, she will look back on this decision with confidence.


Will Tim and Claire have a smooth divorce?
Why does Diane care what Brian thinks?
Has Trevor put an end to Alex's insecurities about writing?
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