Episode #409

Previously ...
- Tim learned that Claire had retained their usual lawyer to represent her in the divorce. Diane offered to help him and called Eric Westin.
- Brian appeared resentful of Diane's relationship with Tim.
- Ryan helped Katherine prepare for the bachelor auction by convincing Jason to participate. In turn, Jason recruited Tim.


The conference room is quiet -- disturbingly so, as far as Claire Fisher is concerned. There is a foreboding undercurrent to the stillness, a calm-before-the-storm quality, that has her on edge.

Her attorney, Jim Thompson, sits beside her and combs through his papers one last time before the meeting begins. As Claire whittles away the minutes by watching him and examining the inviting dark wood that populates the room, she is grateful that they have chosen to do it this way rather than in a courtroom before a judge. At least this place is somewhat familiar to her, and the privacy--

The door opens, and in comes Tim... followed by a very familiar-looking man. It takes Claire only a moment to place him.

"Hi, Claire," Eric Westin says. He wears the same smarmy grin on his darkly handsome face that Claire remembers.

As Eric and Jim greet each other with a professional civility, Claire cannot help leaning over the conference table toward Tim.

"That's your attorney?"


"This is the man who made your mother collapse on the stand! He forced her to admit in front of everyone that Ryan was her son--"

"And now he's representing me," Tim says with a stamp of finality. "What did you want me to do, Claire? You got to Jim first. Diane offered to help me get someone good. That's all there is to it."

She bites her tongue at the mention of Diane.

"Besides," Tim adds, "all we're here to do is get things in order. There won't need to be any shocking witnesses or bombshells."

Claire just shakes her head. The memories of that day in court, when Ryan was revealed as Paula's son, are still painful.

"I can't believe how badly she has you brainwashed," Claire says.

Tim's mouth is open, poised to respond, when the door opens again. This time it is Rebecca Lowe, the woman whom Jim enlisted to conduct the mediation.

"Good afternoon, everyone," the heavyset, middle-aged woman says, obviously aware of the heightened tension in the room.

"Good afternoon, Ms. Lowe," Jim says. He reaches across to shake her hand and flashes Claire a look of warning: Cut it out. Now.


Diane Bishop inhales sharply and draws her purse closer to her inflated ribcage. People pour into the elevator, making space where there really isn't any, eating up every last millimeter of available room. Diane has half a mind to starting swinging her purse and throwing elbows to clear them out, but then it's too late: the doors close, and she's pressed against the back wall for the duration of this death cruise.

She manages enough wiggle room to check her watch--though it involves elbowing the portly man beside her, a move in which she takes considerable delight. Tim should be meeting with Eric Westin about now, preparing for the first session of divorce mediation. She wishes that she could be there to help Tim fight it out, but work comes first.

Finally the elevator settles on the fifth floor with a decisive thump. A ding sounds and the doors part, and she watches with relief as the crowd drains out of the elevator. Soon she has the entire thing to herself. She watches the departing passengers disperse in front of her and is about to hit the Close Doors button when--

"Hold it!"

Brian Hamilton shoves his way through the thicket of people meandering in front of the elevator and practically dives inside. Only once the doors are closing does he really see Diane.

"Oh. Hi," he says, facing the closed doors. He reaches across and pushes the already-lit button for the tenth floor.

"What was the point of that?" Diane asks.

"Of what?"

"The button had already been pressed."

"I like to look out for myself," Brian says. He turns briefly, enough to give her a profile glimpse of his face. "I learned that I really have to."

Diane's restraint falls away. "Would you cut the passive-aggressive crap? It's getting--"

The elevator cuts her off as it lurches to a halt. They both stare expectantly at the row of numbers above the doors, but none of them are lit up, and no ding ever comes.

Diane pokes at the Open Doors button, but the result is exactly what she feared: nothing.


Ryan Moriani's head is filled with warring sentiments as he rides the hotel elevator downward. On one hand, his latest meeting with Katherine has left him confident that the bachelor auction is coming together nicely; on the other, the thought of actually being up on that stage makes him feel like a complete fool. It's too late to back out now, though, and he owes it to Katherine to do what he can to make the event a success.

He steps out of the elevator and into the lobby--and he nearly runs smack into his father.

"Well, well," Nick says, eyeing him like a predator circling its prey.

Nick is the last person whom Ryan expected to see here. "What are you doing here?" he asks.

"Paying a visit to my dear wife. I'm dropping off the last of the things that she left at the house." Nick holds up a shopping bag full of, from what Ryan can tell, miscellaneous items.

"Couldn't you have gone through your attorneys?" Ryan challenges. "I'm sure Katherine would be all right never having to see your face again."

"Believe me, it's no walk in the park for me, either." Nick pauses, as if convinced that the question he is about to pose is too ridiculous to bother with--and then he asks it anyway: "Were you here to see her?"

Ryan takes great satisfaction in answering, "Yes, as a matter of fact. Katherine and I are--well, she's planning something that will help her recover from all the damage you've done to her reputation."

"What, a smear campaign against me in the local paper?"

Ryan hesitates to give any more information, but the smug look on Nick's face compels him to pile it on:

"A big event. For charity."

"How selfless." A condescending chuckle escapes Nick's throat. "Please. Katherine is going to need a lot more than some gala event to restore her reputation. This is as much her doing as it is mine."

"How could this possibly be her fault?" Ryan challenges, getting into his father's face. He sees people around them taking notice of the confrontation. "Because she believed that you actually loved her?"

Nick's face turns to stone. "I did. That was never the issue."

"Bullshit." Ryan backs away, and he cannot resist giving his father a little shove. Nick stands still, solid, and doesn't flinch in response.

"You hurt Katherine just as badly as you hurt Claire and Tim and the rest of that family," Ryan says. "My family."

He thinks that he sees the faintest stirring of emotion behind Nick's eyes, but then the older man pushes past him.

"I'd like to get this over with as quickly as possible," Nick says, holding up the bag of Katherine's things. He turns away from Ryan to wait for the elevator.

Ryan stares back at him for a long moment before finally going on his way. He leaves just in time to miss seeing the amused, thoughtful look on Nick's face.


"This all looks very good," Rebecca Lowe comments as she pages through the documents that Eric and Jim prepared prior to this hearing. "Thank you for taking the time to take care of this ahead of time."

"We were glad to do it," Jim says.

"Everyone wants this to be as smooth a process as possible," Eric adds.

Claire sits back and watches as Ms. Lowe skims the rest of the documents. The essence of them, if not the language itself, is familiar to her: they contain the terms for division of assets that she and Tim have tried to hash out with their lawyers. With any luck, it will all look good to the mediator, and all that will remain in this painful process will be formalities.

"Regarding the custody of your son," Ms. Lowe says, "there appear to be some inconsistencies."

"We plan to share custody," Claire says. She glances across at Tim, who nods. Though they haven't discussed the specifics, they have both been adamant about not having a custody battle.

"Whose home will be the primary residence?"

Claire explains, "We're hoping to do it one week--"

"Mine, technically," Tim says. "I'm staying at my parents', so it makes sense. They're Travis's grandparents, and that's been the most consistent home he's ever had." He flashes Claire the same kind of look that she just gave him.

She doesn't offer a simple nod in response, though. "I assumed that we meant we'd divide custody evenly. One week with Tim, one with me--"

Tim interrupts her. "You can see Travis whenever you want, but do you really expect him to live at Ryan's place for an entire week at a time? He'd hate it."

"You don't know that. He's my son. I want to have him with me, and he'll want to be with me."

"I'm not disagreeing with that! He can spend the night whenever he wants."

Eric taps Tim on the shoulder and pulls him backward, whispers something to him. Tim doesn't look thrilled, but he sits back in his chair and says nothing else.

"We were under the impression that Tim and Claire would divide custody evenly," Jim explains. "Such a one-sided agreement isn't in anyone's best interests."

"Neither is having my son live with a mobster half the time!" Tim blurts out.

Something snaps inside Claire. "What happens when you move out of your parents' house? I don't want Travis living with Diane!"

"Diane is a good mother to Samantha," Tim says.

"She raped you, Tim! Just because you've forgiven her for that doesn't mean I have."

A chill falls over the room. Jim places a firm hand on Claire's arm and, reluctantly, she backs off. She glances at Ms. Lowe, whose face is now the expressionless mask of a person trying to suppress shock.

"Why don't we take a break?" the mediator suggests. "When we come back, we can sort out some of the other issues."

Eric leads Tim from the room, but Claire remains in her chair. Jim leans over to whisper to her:

"He won't take your son away from you. I promise."

As reassuring as those words might be, Claire realizes that something else has been taken away: the bond between her and Tim. When this divorce goes through, it will take with it all the feelings between them, all the hopes that they once shared. And that is something that no one can help her reclaim.


"Just get us out of here, okay?"

Diane finishes shouting into the emergency intercom. At a loss for what to do, she analyzes the doors, as if hoping that some magical way out will manifest itself.

"Can't you try to pry these apart or something?" she snaps at Brian.

"Can't you sit still for two minutes? They said they'll have us out of here soon."

"What'd you expect them to tell us? 'Actually, we're not really sure what's wrong or how to get you out of there, so maybe you could just hang out for a while, and if you've got any Chapstick, try to conserve it, because it might be all that you have to eat for the next six days'?"

The faintest hint of a grin cracks through Brian's stony visage, but he suppresses it. He slides down the wall until he is crouching, and when their silence fills the elevator, he begins to whistle.

"Oh, do not even start with that," Diane says. "I am not listening to that for the next 18 hours while they try to--" She pounds her fist against the door, beating out the syllables of her speech. "--get--us--out--of--here!"

"What if I want to listen to it?"

She holds up her hands. "Who's the one with sharp nails and pointy heels?"

"You know, you really can be a bitch. And I don't mean that in the 'You're such a funny, empowered woman' sort of way."

"Hey, you knew that from the get-go."

"Maybe. But it's a lot different when you're on the good side of it." He breaks eye contact with her, stares down at his hands. "Do you realize we've come full-circle since I came back here?"

"What do you mean?"

"We're back where we started. First I was mad at you, and then we patched things up, and then last summer happened, and we... you know. Now we're back to hating each other." He draws a ring in the air with his finger. "Full circle."

She watches him, slumped against the wall, for a moment before turning her back on him.

"You spend way too much time thinking about this, clearly," she says.

"Oh, like you don't," Brian says. She hears him moving, and then he is behind her, looming right over her shoulder. "Tell me you don't ever think about it."

Diane stares at their blurry reflections in the elevator doors.


Will Diane be forced to confront what happened with Brian?
Will Claire and Tim be able to keep their divorce civil?
Did Ryan make a mistake in telling Nick about the auction?
Come on over to the Footprints Forum to discuss!

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