Episode #404

Previously ...
- Trevor showed Alex his latest Objection ad in a magazine. Then he received a phone call from a mysterious man.
- Bill and Paula expressed their disappointment with Jason for ruining their Christmas party by picking a fight with Josh.
- After an argument with Claire at the Christmas party, Tim forced himself to put his lingering feelings behind him and finally slept with Diane.
- Tired of feeling like a joke in her elite social circle, Katherine came up with a plan to regain her friends' respect.


The midday sunlight steams through the large window, filtered by the slats of the vertical blinds so that it hits the hardwood floor in beams. Ryan Moriani stands in the middle of the sun-drenched floor, gazing through the window at the peaks and caps of the downtown buildings.

The moment of silent reflection is broken when Claire Fisher emerges from the bedroom, in the midst of tying her hair back into a ponytail. "Have you seen my purse?" she asks, pausing in her tracks to scan the room.

"Uh... I don't think so." Ryan peeks around the obvious nooks and crannies of the living room. "Where'd you have it last?"

"I thought it was on the chair in the bedroom," Claire says as she clears pillows off the couch with increasing urgency. "Crap. I'm already running late."

They search for a few more seconds, with no results. Ryan can tell that she is getting more and more frustrated.

"Hey," he says, "how about I drive you to the hospital? That way you won't be late for your shift, and then I can come back here and search for it." He can tell that she is reluctant to be swayed from her mission.

"It isn't like I have anything more pressing to do with my day," he adds, trying to inject a little humor both to relax Claire and to keep himself from dwelling on the sorry state of his job at Objection.

It is enough to make her relent, and, thanking him, she hurries off to grab her coat. Then comes the knock on the door.

Ryan answers it and is surprised to see his soon-to-be-former stepmother waiting there for him with a pleased smile on her face.

"Ryan! Thank goodness that you're home!" she exclaims before he can ask what she is doing here.

"I'm actually on my way out," he says, leaving her near the open door as he goes to a side table for his keys.

"Oh, I see."

As he grabs his keys, Ryan hears Katherine remark, "Oh, what a lovely handbag."

"Where? What?" Ryan rushes back to her, and sure enough, she is holding Claire's elusive purse. "Where'd you find that?"

"It was right here," Katherine says, looking a little confused by his intensity. She points to the bookshelf that stands against the waist-high wall.

"Oh, you found it!" Claire proclaims as she returns in her coat. "Thank you, Katherine."

Katherine hands her the purse. "Hello, Claire. Are you on your way to work?"

"I am now that I have this! Thank you." Claire turns and gives Ryan a quick kiss. "I guess I can drive myself now."

"Perfect," Katherine says, "because I have a matter of the utmost importance to discuss with Ryan."

Claire says her goodbyes and rushes off. Ryan watches her go and then closes the door. He leads Katherine to the living room area as he asks, "What's going on? Is my father giving you trouble?"

"Yes... in a roundabout way," she answers slowly. "That's why I've come here: to ask for your help with a very important endeavor."


"What? Don't tell me you don't remember me."

The voice creeps directly from the cell phone into Trevor Brooks's ear, but it feels to him as though the entire coffee house can hear it, as though it is being broadcast over the loudspeaker. He casts a glance over at Alex Marshall, busy flipping through the magazine that Trevor brought, and then shuffles a few more feet away from their table.

"C'mon. Trev. Don't--"

"Yeah." He blurts it out, desperate to shut up the other voice and end the cat-and-mouse game that he remembers so well. "Sorry. I couldn't hear for a second there."

"What, you at some big, loud model party or something?"

Trevor wills his tongue to move, to respond, but it only lies there like a carcass, all dead weight. His fingers curl tighter around the phone.

"What's the matter, kid?"

"What do you want?" Trevor snaps. He glances at his boyfriend again; Alex looks up from the magazine and waves, so completely unaware of the panic alarms blaring behind Trevor's forced smile.

"A guy can't call up an old friend to congratulate him on getting all big and famous? Always knew you'd make it. You had the sweetest face, and that body--hell, from the looks of this magazine, it's only gotten better."

Trevor wets his lips, tries to bring them back to life so that they can bail him out of this. He cannot decide what to say, though: being rude will only make things worse, and playing nice will make it even more horrible by prolonging it.

"Just wanna make sure you don't forget about us little people now that you're on top of the world," the voice says, somehow managing to coo while still sounding like a rusty chainsaw. "Especially those of us who helped you get where you are and might be a little down on our luck."

"Look, I'm kind of in the middle of something. I've gotta--"

"Then let me cut to the chase. I need money, Trev."

"I'm sorry. I have to go." Trevor snaps his phone shut, locking any potential response inside there. As he rejoins Alex, he is grateful for the acting skills that modeling has forced him to hone; he manages a casual expression on his face and a matching coolness to his movements.

"Business?" Alex asks.

"Uh, yeah, nothing urgent. Nothing I need to worry about at all, actually."

I will not go back there, Trevor vows, forcing the recollections of the past from his mind so that he can refocus on his present, his new life, here with Alex.


Jason Fisher holds the key in his hand, but he rings the doorbell instead. He has always felt exceedingly comfortable in his parents' home, even after moving out; often, when he visits, it feels as though he never left. But right now, walking in unannounced does not seem like a very wise move.

His mother opens the door and, for a moment, appears to struggle over how to address him. Finally, lips held together tightly, she simply says, "Hello."

She moves out of the way to let him inside--maybe it's an instinct, Jason thinks, and she doesn't even realize she has done it--and he hesitates before entering the house. Bill sits on the sofa, now distracted from the Law & Order rerun on the television, and he regards his youngest son much as Paula did at the door.

"I really felt like I needed to come talk to you guys," Jason says.

Paula rejoins her husband on the couch. "We're listening," she says.

"I know I can say it a million times and it won't take back what happened, but I really am sorry about what happened on Christmas. It was immature and totally out-of-line. I don't know what else I can say..."

"We thought you had more common sense than that," Bill says.

Jason meets his father's gaze for an instant but finds it too distressing. He diverts his eyes toward the fireplace. "So did I. But the way Josh was monopolizing Lauren--and then when Alex and Courtney told me that they thought he was after her--I just lost it. I was already so nervous about proposing and what she would say."

"Have you spoken to Lauren since then?" Paula says, showing the first signs of thawing back into the warm, ever-concerned mother that he knows so well.

"I went over there later that night," Jason says, and without pausing he dives into an explanation of how Lauren not only turned down his proposal but left the entire future of their relationship in doubt. As far as Jason can tell, he doesn't even breathe until he finishes recounting the whole depressing thing.

His mother's response surprises him. She rises to her feet and says, "I'm sorry about that."

"Thank you for coming to see us," Bill adds, sounding less hostile himself. Jason doesn't know what has happened, exactly; maybe some parental instinct kicked into gear and overrode their anger at him. Whatever the case, they seem like the parents that he remembers, not the people whose Christmas party he ruined by starting a fight.

Paula tips her head downward, the way he remembers her doing when he was a kid. "I hope you've learned something from all this."

Jason resists the urge to crack a joke, ripe though the material might be, and instead just nods. "Yeah. I have. If I'd just controlled myself and not made a scene, Lauren and I wouldn't be having problems now."

"Are you sure about that?" Bill asks. Jason looks to him, confused, and his father continues, "If this incident was enough to make such a mess of things between you and Lauren, then maybe there are deeper issues than you realize."

"Dad, it's just--"

"Jason, I'm only saying. If there are issues there, they will find their way to the surface at some point or another. Maybe your fight with Josh was just the catalyst for that."


The waiter sets two glasses of white win on the table. Diane Bishop and Sarah Gray thank him with appreciate smiles before returning to their conversation.

"Thanks for making time for lunch with an old friend," Diane says, "even though you're a married old hag now."

"I do what I can. But no promises," Sarah says. "I do have a very busy schedule of driving Tori to dance class and cooking dinner."

"Don't forget vacuuming. Wives have to do that all the time, don't they?"

The women share a laugh and sip their wine in silence for a moment.

Finally Diane asks, "How's work? Do you have cases right now?"

Sarah shrugs. It is the offhand response of a woman who, for once, is neither consumed by her work nor troubled over the lack of it. "Yeah, but nothing major. To tell the truth, it's a relief not to have any high-profile cases for a while. I'm sure I'll be itching to do some real investigating before long."

"Just make sure you count me out of it! I've had enough showdowns with evil dogs to last me a long, long time."

Unable to suppress a laugh at the memory of Diane running through the grass, barefoot and with a chunk torn off the bottom of her skirt by a vicious Rottweiler, Sarah cracks up. Diane flashes her a warning look before joining in.

"I still can't believe I fell for that guy's scam," Sarah says, a dark cloud suddenly settling over the amusing memory of their investigation into Julian St. John's marriage.

"You had no way of knowing! When you had actual evidence, you put the pieces together."

"I guess. Yeah." Sarah pauses for another, more pensive sip from the wine glass. "I can't believe he was running a drug ring out of Objection. That's like something from a movie."

A smirk passes over Diane's lips. "Wouldn't it have been funny if your sister somehow got implicated in that whole thing?"

Sarah snickers. "Oh, I can definitely see Molly as a drug kingpin. She'd have to use a different drug every day, depending on what shoes she had on."

The waiter returns, and they guiltily pick up their untouched menus and ask for a few moments to decide.

Sarah lifts her eyes from perusing the menu long enough to ask, "How's work for you?"

"Par for the course. More good than bad," Diane says, though Sarah can tell that there is more of an answer waiting to emerge. She waits, and a second later, Diane slaps her menu down on the table. "I'll tell you, it's really nice having Tim around the office again."

"I bet," Sarah says, with a hint of innuendo. "He seems really happy to be working again, too."

"He needed it. He's getting his life back together, piece by piece."

"I take it things are going well with the two of you, then."

Diane's eyes widen, and her long lashes only contribute to the shock in her expression -- the closest, Sarah believes, that she has ever seen Diane get to genuine humility.

"I can't believe it," Diane says. "After everything that's happened, it hardly seems real."

"Sometimes a lot of stuff has to happen before the right pieces fall into place. Look at Matt and me. If I hadn't married Brent, and if Matt hadn't been running away from his past, would we have wound up together? Probably not. But those things happened for a reason."

"Look at you, all glass-half-full." Diane lifts her wine. "To optimism."

"This has to be Upside-Down Day, because I never thought I would hear those words out of your mouth," Sarah says. She lifts her own glass. "And to good friends."

They clink glasses and drink.


Ryan sinks into the soft leather sofa. "All right, I'll bite. What is this endeavor?"

Instead of taking his cue and sitting down, Katherine remains standing. "I'm in the beginning stages of planning a charity event--something grand, that will make people sit up and take notice."

"Camille Lemieux has me on indefinite leave," he says, shifting uncomfortably, "so I'm really not in the best place financially. If it's money you need--"

"Don't be silly." Laughter trills merrily from her throat; to Ryan, she seems worlds away from the angry, tense woman whom he ran into at the hotel a few weeks ago.

"No, no, I have plenty of that," she says. "What I need from you is your enthusiastic participation."

"Why does that make me wish you'd just asked for money?"

Katherine wanders over to the waist-high dresser against the wall and examines the few knick-knacks on top of it. Ryan waits, but he does not push for further details. He is sure that she will offer them when she is ready, and he is not entirely certain that he even wants to know.

Finally, she draws a deep breath and announces, "I'm going to throw a bachelor auction!"

"One of those events where women bid on dates?"

"Precisely! It's perfect. Dangle an attractive young man in front of these society ladies, and it's money in the bank."

"Who are you--" He sees the way that she is looking at him. "Oh, God. Katherine, no. I can't."

"Of course you can! It will be a wonderful time and benefit a worthy cause. Claire won't mind. It's all for fun."

He squirms. "Why me? There have got to be better options--"

"Well," she says quietly, as though confiding in him, "this might come as a surprise, but I'm no longer as well connected to as many attractive young men as I might like." Before he can speak again, she adds, "Besides, you have brothers and brothers-in-law and all sorts of friends."

"Katherine, I'm living with one of my brothers' wives. The youngest one hates me on principle. I don't really think I'm your man."

"Oh, they'll come around," she says, waving off his protests with her hand. "Ryan, it would mean a great deal to me to have your help with this. And, as you can imagine, your father's antics have taken quite a toll on my social standing. This event has the potential to undo the damage that Nick caused."

Suddenly she looks a lot more like lady Ryan remembers from recent months: a sad, old woman struggling to maintain her pride in the face of humiliation.

"All right, I'll be a part of it," he says, wondering if he has lost his mind, "but I can't promise that anyone else will agree to it."

She claps her hands together, apparently not caring about his sizable caveat. "Oh, thank you! This is going to be a spectacle like no other!"

"I bet it will," Ryan mutters as he stares out the window again and wonders what he has gotten himself into.


Will Ryan be able to convince others to participate in the auction?
Will Katherine be able to reclaim her social status?
Has Trevor heard the last of the man on the phone?
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