Episode #411

Previously ...
- Molly found herself stressed as she tried to balance her career with her new role as a mother.
- Ryan helped Katherine prepare for the upcoming bachelor auction.
- Trevor received phone calls requesting money from a mysterious man and tried to ignore them. Later, he got a call from his agent, who reported that a man called Cliff had contacted him about being owed money by Trevor.
- Lauren never received Jason's message about meeting if she wanted to give their relationship a chance. When she didn't show, Jason took it as a sign of their relationship truly being over.


The first signs of spring are in evidence as Alex Marshall makes his way to the Brooks' front door. There is a freshness in the air, a new sharpness to the blue of the sky, that Alex takes the opportunity to savor before ringing the doorbell.

Lauren Brooks answers, dressed for work. She has a travel mug in her hand, and her hair is still pulled up messily in a temporary post-shower state.

"Hey. Trevor's upstairs," she says as she lets Alex into the house. "I know he's awake, though. He came down for coffee a few minutes ago."

"Okay. Thanks." Alex hangs up his jacket and starts up the stairs, but he stops in mid-movement.

"I wasn't going to bring this up," he says, "but you really need to give Jason a call or something. You owe it to him."

Lauren, already on her way back to the kitchen, freezes but doesn't turn around.

"I know," she finally says. Alex swears that he sees her shoulders slump in defeat, an admission of her guilt.

"He's been a mess since the other night. He waited for you to show up, and when you didn't--"

Lauren whips sharply around. "The other night?"

"At Windmills. He thought you'd at least call..." He trails off as the realization comes over him.

"Windmills? What are you talking about?"

Alex can tell from her expression and her tone that she is being sincere; she has no idea.

"He left a message for you at the front desk at Willis," Alex explains. "For you to meet him at Windmills if you had any intention of working on things with him."

"I never got it." She is quiet for a few seconds and then blurts out, "Didn't that occur to anyone?"

"I told him that maybe you didn't get it, but he was convinced that you just didn't want to make any more effort." Seeing her skepticism, Alex is quick to add, "It's not that implausible. You avoided him for weeks and weeks."

There is a distinct element of shame about her as she says, "I know."

"You really owe it to Jason to get this cleared up," Alex says.

"Yeah." For a moment she says and does nothing, and then: "Let me go finish getting ready. I need to go see him."

"Good." He starts up the stairs but pauses again to add, "However you feel, just let him know. You guys can't go on like this."

"I know," Lauren says with a contrite nod.


Jason Fisher cries out, but his words are slurred by the toothpaste clouding his mouth. There is another knock on the door, and Jason hurries from his bathroom and into the living room, toothbrush in hand.

He calls out again, another murky assurance that he'll be there in a second. But when he opens the door, he finds himself wishing that he'd stayed in the bathroom and pretended not to be home.

"Oh, hi," Ryan Moriani says when he sees the in-progress morning ritual. "I, um, I have your tuxedo for the auction." He holds up a plastic garment bag.

Jason gets out of the way to let Ryan inside, and he holds up a finger to indicate that he'll be back in a moment. He hurries back to the bathroom, finishes brushing, and rinses out his mouth before returning to the living room.

Ryan stands awkwardly, looking at the titles in Jason and Alex's combined DVD collection.

"You probably want to try that on before the night of the event," Ryan says, gesturing toward the plastic bag now lain over the back of the couch. "If there's anything wrong, just let me know and I'll deal with it."

"Okay. Thanks." Jason picks up the tuxedo and studies it. Looks pretty standard, but he has no idea how to fill the awkward space, so he keeps examining it as though he expects to discover a third sleeve on the jacket or something equally ludicrous.

"Congratulations on your test, by the way," Ryan says, out of the blue.

"Thanks. It, uh, it feels good to be done with it. Kind of surreal."

"I bet. You've been skating since you were a little kid, haven't you?"

"Yeah. I kind of can't believe that I don't have to go to the rink and practice every day." The whole encounter seems profoundly bizarre to Jason; he isn't sure that he and Ryan have ever had a conversation alone, especially not one this normal.

"Well, it's pretty amazing that you stuck with it for so long." Ryan clasps his hands together and moves toward the door. "Let me know if there are any problems with the tux."

"Yeah. Thanks for bringing it by."

Ryan gets as far as placing his hand on the doorknob but then stops.

"Hey," he says, "I know you're not crazy about me being a part of this family. But I really appreciate you helping out with this event. It means a lot to Katherine and to me."

"Glad to help out," Jason says, and then, with a shrug: "It might even turn out to be fun."

"I hope so," Ryan says with a grin as he lets himself out.


"Have you seen Silly Dog?"

Molly Taylor shouts the question at her husband as she flies in and out of their bedroom. The twins' diaper bag sits, open and frustratingly half-empty, on the couple's bed as they dash around the apartment getting ready for the day. Molly thought she was doing well until she realized that Caleb's terrycloth puppy -- the one that he won't go to sleep without -- is nowhere to be found.

"Did you look under the couch?" Brent calls out as Molly zips back down the hallway. "I found it under there a few days ago."

Molly checks under the couch, to no avail. She feels full-on panic mode setting in, so she ducks into the kitchen and pours herself the cup of coffee for which she's been waiting ever since her alarm went off this morning. As she blows on the steaming liquid, she brainstorms other possible hideouts for Silly Dog.

She can hear Brent coming down the hallway, and he says, "Hey, look what I found!"

Molly pokes her head out of the kitchen--and collides with Brent, who is on her way in. The next thing she feels is the hot splash of coffee, soaking through her blouse and onto against her skin.

"Ow! Ow!" she chants, almost methodically, as she unbuttons the blouse. Brent already has a dry towel at the ready.

"I'm so sorry," he says, as she takes the towel from him and dries off.

She waves it off. "Did you find Silly Dog?"

"No. You remember that check I thought I'd lost?" He holds up the piece of paper, clearly proud of his discovery.

"That's good," she says, already on her way back to the bedroom to change, "but I don't think it's going to get us out of here on time this morning."

Brent doesn't have the chance to respond before one of the babies lets out an ear-splitting wail.

"I'll get him," Brent says, en route to the boys' room.

"I'll handle it."

"You go change. You're a mess."

"I can take care of my own son!"

"So can I!" Brent seems to catch himself, but it's too late to stop the outburst, so he repeats more quietly, "So can I. Just calm down, Mol."

"I am calm," she insists as she storms into the boys' room. As she tries to quiet Christian, Brent appears in the doorway.

"This is total bedlam," he says.

She waits until Christian takes the volume down a few notches before responding, "We can handle it."

She rocks the baby, and Brent comes up behind her.

"Maybe we need a vacation," he suggests. "Something crazy, something romantic. London, Paris? Maybe Tokyo?"

Molly shakes her head. "We barely have time to sleep. How would we fit in a vacation?"

"We could make it work if we wanted to. Even just for a weekend, to get some quiet time for the two of us."

Molly hands Christian over to him.

"I need to go get changed," she says. "If I'm going to be late to work, I need to at least be wearing clean clothes."


Alex finds Trevor in his room, at his desk with a cup of coffee, just as Lauren told him he would. He thinks of knocking on the open door to announce his presence, but instead he decides to sneak up on him. He is tiptoeing up behind Trevor when, suddenly, his boyfriend swivels his head.

"Not so fast," Trevor says with a smirk, grabbing Alex and pulling him to him. "You're not nearly as sneaky as you might wanna think." He pulls Alex into the chair with him and gives him a good-morning kiss.

Alex crinkles up his face. "Gross. Coffee breath!"

Trevor laughs and attacks him again, more vigorously, and Alex doesn't push him away.

Finally they separate enough for Alex to ask, "What are you doing today? I kind of need new shoes, and I really don't want to go downtown alone."

"Wow, I'm glad I mean so much to you!"

"Hey, what's the point of dating someone if you can't use them to make awkward social situations easier?"

Trevor's face darkens, though, and he shifts uncomfortably.

"You might have to go it alone," he says. "Or wait a few days."

"You have plans?" Alex asks.

"Yeah... Wes just called, and I have to fly to New York. He got me an audition."

"That's awesome! I think shoes can wait, yeah. Or I'll force Jason to go with me."

"I'm sure he'll love that," Trevor says.

"What's the audition for?"

Trevor shrugs and glances back at the open e-mail inbox on his computer screen. "Some skin-care thing. Nothing huge, but it's a good opportunity."

"Good luck," Alex says, but as he stands up and goes to sit on the bed, he doesn't notice the troubled expression on Trevor's face.


When the next knock on the door comes, Jason is in a much less difficult position: at the computer, making a digital cut of performance music for one of his skating students. He gets to the door before a second knock comes, but as soon as he answers, all thoughts of editing music vanish from his mind.

Lauren stands awkwardly before him, shifting her weight from one foot to the other and back again. She is dressed for work, which only makes her appearance at his door more puzzling.

"I'm sorry," she says.

Jason has no idea how to react. "What?"

"I've been horrible. I guess I freaked out when you proposed, and--I don't know. But I haven't been fair to you at all."

He is slow to respond. "Thanks? I don't even know what to say."

"I don't blame you."

He sees her looking past him, into the apartment, but he maintains his firm stance in the doorway.

"Alex told me that you left a message for me at the office," Lauren says. "I didn't get it. I would've shown up, I swear."

He has to laugh. After all the anguish that he put himself through, waiting at Windmills for Lauren and trying to reconcile the end of their relationship, it's such a ridiculously simple explanation. It's a short, bitter laugh, the kind that is an alternative to a good cry or a fist through the wall.

Lauren waits until it passes before she speaks again. "If I'd known... of course I would have been there."

He can hardly believe what comes out of his mouth next: "Maybe it's better that you weren't."

Shock registers on Lauren's face, and she stumbles over her words for a moment. "I do want to work on this," she finally says.

As much as Jason doesn't want to sound bitter or snotty, he cannot help it.

"Maybe it's too late for that," he says.

"I thought you wanted to."

"I did. Now I'm not so sure." His hand is on the door now.

"Jason, I'm sorry. I was... confused, I guess."

"So was I. I think you'd better go."

He takes a little bit of satisfaction in how Lauren looks.

"You bought a ring!" she protests.

"I took it back." He tries not to think about how painful this is, because if he stops to do that, he might not be able to go through with it. "Maybe it had to happen this way, so that we'd know this wasn't right."

"I don't even know what to say."

"You don't have to say anything." He starts to close the door.


"Bye, Lauren," he says before the closing door makes her disappear from sight.

He hovers by the closed door for a long time, wondering what came over him to make this possible. All he knows is that, for the first time in a long while, his anguish is accompanied by an overwhelming sense of relief.


Can Jason and Lauren move on now?
What is Trevor hiding from Alex?
Is Molly on the verge of losing it?
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