Episode #412

Previously ...
- When Ryan told him about Katherine's upcoming bachelor auction, Nick was critical of the plan and its potential for success.
- Tim and Claire argued over the custody portion of their divorce settlement.
- When they got trapped in the elevator together, Brian tried to make Diane admit that she still wants him. She denied it but was obviously affected by the encounter.
- Lauren told Jason that she would like to work on their relationship, but he told her that he had to end things.


Claire Fisher hands her wrap to the young man behind the coat check desk. Thanking him, she takes Ryan Moriani's arm and walks with him into the hall where Katherine's grand auction is to be held.

There is an air of anticipation in the hall. Claire notices it as soon as she and Ryan walk through the double doors. It feels as though the place has somehow drawn a deep breath and is holding it in, waiting for the event to get underway before it exhales.

The hall is largely empty, save for the behind-the-scenes workers putting last-minute touches on things. The decor is striking: rich burgundy and lush gold adorn the tables, the stage curtains, everything, in tasteful touches that stop far short of overwhelming. Claire marvels at the elegant scene as Katherine catches sight of them and hurries over.

"Oh, thank heavens," Katherine says, grasping Ryan's hand. Her fiery red hair is swept up, neat but not pulled tight, and her black-and-white gown and shawl create an imposing, regal character.

"What's wrong?" Ryan asks. He tries to sound comforting, but at the same time, he fires a puzzled look at Claire. Katherine is far from the picture of cool contentment that they expected her to be.

She sighs, a melodramatic show of fluttering eyelids and tilted head, before answering: "I have the most awful feeling. The ladies have yet to arrive--"

Ryan cocks an eyebrow. "Your friends? They're probably getting a few martinis under their Chanel belts before this thing gets underway."

"They promised they'd be here early," Katherine says. She looks around fretfully and then adds, "This has to go well, Ryan. My entire reputation is at stake."

Four car doors close in rapid succession, temporarily upsetting the still night air in the mostly empty parking lot.

"I told you that we could've hung around my place for another drink. There's hardly anybody here," Diane Bishop says.

Tim Fisher rounds the car and takes her hand. "Katherine wanted all the bachelors here early."

"I know you guys are just dying to get up there on stage," Sarah Gray teases. She looks at Tim and then at her husband as she laughs.

"Laugh all you want now," Tim says, "but just wait until the old ladies are throwing out hundred dollar bills left and right for us."

Matt Gray shakes his head. A hint of a smile is present on his face, but it is clouded by uncertainty.

"Let's get inside," he says. "I think Diane's right -- I'm gonna need another drink if I'm gonna get up there."


Claire sits at the table where Katherine has reserved places for her and Ryan. She sips a glass of white wine and looks around the expansive hall. A few more people have come in since she and Ryan arrived, but the place is still very empty.

She watches Tim and Diane at the bar, laughing together. She knows that it will not be possible to avoid them all night, but that doesn't mean that she will not try her best. She is here to support Ryan tonight, not to be mired in the mucky situation that is her pending divorce.

She considers approaching Sarah and Matt, but she knows that Tim and Diane will return to the table where they are seated, and then awkwardness -- or worse -- will ensue. She leafs through the printed program once again; her eyes skip over the words, having already ingested them twice. She happens to glance up just as Paula and Bill enter the hall.

Thankfully, they spot her almost immediately, and they make their way over to where she is seated.

"You're here early," she says, standing to hug both of them.

"We wanted to be here to support everyone," Paula explains. She wears a smart pale blue suit, far less dramatic but no less flattering than what Katherine is wearing. She appraises Claire and says, "You look wonderful."

"Thanks. So do you," Claire says.

Bill scans the room. "It's much emptier than we thought it would be."

"Don't let Katherine hear you. She's halfway to having a fit already."

"Where's Ryan?" Paula asks.

"Backstage, helping Katherine with a few last things. Do you guys want to sit down?"

"We should go say hi," Bill says, nodding in the direction of the table where Tim and Diane have just rejoined Sarah and Matt. "But yes, we'll put our things down here."

Claire breathes a sigh of relief. "Thanks. I could use the company."

With a pair of sympathetic smiles, her in-laws make their way over to see their children.

Outside the hall, Brian Hamilton walks slowly. His dress shoes click against the stark concrete floor, beating a rhythm that works its way inside him and amplifies his nervousness. This sounded like no big deal when Sarah called to ask if he would do it, but now that he is here, in a tuxedo, ready to be auctioned off -- or, worse, not bid upon at all! -- in front of a room full of people, agreeing to participate seems like an extremely ill-advised decision.

He stops at the double doors and checks the nameplate. Hart Hall. This is it. He steels himself and opens the door, spurred on by the awkward smile from the guy at the coat check desk. But as soon as he enters the room, his nerves flare even worse.

Not because of the intimidating elegance of the decor, nor because of the sheer expansiveness of the room, but because the first person he sees is none other than Diane. She looks stunning in a low-cut red dress that seems to defy gravity.

Brian averts his eyes and tries to act as though he hasn't seen her at all. It isn't long, of course, before Sarah spots him and calls out.

"Brian! Hi!" And then she does the worst possible thing: she waves him over.

He forces the expression of dread off his face as best he can, just in time for Diane to set eyes upon him.

Backstage, Katherine paces back and forth, reciting under her breath the short speech that she will make later in the evening. She has been practicing these words for days on end, and she knows them well, but now they seem determined to slip out of her grasp.

"These are all in order," Ryan says, handing her the stack of notecards that will be given to the auctioneer.

"At least something is," she grumbles, taking the cards from him. "Do you think we should get all of our bachelors to come back here yet?"

"Let everyone mill around and enjoy the cocktail hour first. It can't hurt to have the merchandise circulate a bit before it goes on the market, can it?"

She tries to laugh at the remark, but it is a forced gesture. In her gut, she has a horrible feeling about this evening, one that she cannot shake.

Outside the building, a black sedan sits far from the other parked cars. Its occupant makes no move to exit the vehicle, and he has his eyes closed as he rests his head against the back of the leather seat.

Finally he opens his eyes, but only to check his watch. Not quite time yet. A grin curls his lips as he awaits the appropriate minute.

This should be fun, Nick Moriani thinks as he once again closes his eyes.


The first thing that Jason Fisher notices when he steps into the hall is how few people are present -- and how many of the people who are present he already knows. The light dusting of people throughout the room consists mainly of his family members and the other men who were at Katherine's meeting for the bachelors being auctioned off.

"Wow, some turnout," Jason says as he, Alex Marshall, and Courtney Chase pause by the door. "Looks like you guys might not have to do much work at all."

"Fine by me," Alex says with a laugh. "I wasn't really looking forward to a bidding war over you, anyway."

"Only if it's someone crazy," Jason reminds him. They worked out their deal earlier: if anyone too insane-looking starts to bid for Jason, Alex is supposed to step in and outbid the person.

"We should go say hi to your parents," Courtney suggests. The trio is about to make its way across the room when a cloud of perfume, big hair, and minks blows through the door and nearly tramples them.

"That broad had better never say that we don't do anything for her," one of the women proclaims to her friends.

"Looks as though we were right," another of the ladies says. "It's going to be a dud, all right."

"We might as well take advantage of the open bar," the third lady suggests.

"Brilliant idea, Dar!"

The women flutter toward the bar, leaving Jason, Alex, and Courtney to exchange wide-eyed looks as they suppress their laughter.

"You didn't tell me he was going to be here," Diane snaps at Sarah.

"Ryan asked if I knew anyone else who might be willing to do it," Sarah says, taking a step back from her furious friend.

"You could've warned me," Diane hisses before turning to give Brian a stern glare.

Brian steps up to the group. "Hi, everyone." He shakes hands with Matt, Tim, and Bill. "Sarah, you look wonderful. You, too, Mrs. Fisher."

Diane continues glaring at him, but Brian doesn't so much as acknowledge her. Instead he asks Matt and Tim, "Are we allowed to mingle around for a while, or does the drill sergeant want us backstage?"

Matt holds up his beer. "We're staying on this side of the curtain 'til they drag us back there."

"Sounds good to me," Brian says. "I'm going to go get a drink, then." He makes his way for the bar.

"Excuse me a second," Diane says to the rest of the group, and she slips off in pursuit of Brian. He is almost at the bar when her hand clamps down on his shoulder.

"Not so fast, buddy." She spins him around. "That was a really cute trick, not mentioning that you would be here. I know you were waiting for me to be shocked when I saw you, but let me tell you something: that's all you are getting out of me. You'd better find something else to keep you occupied tonight, you hear me?"

Brian is quiet for a moment. "Fine by me," he says. He turns on his heels and takes a few more steps toward the bar, then turns again. "Oh, one thing, though."

"What?" she demands with a scowl.

"If you're so determined to have nothing to do with me, why'd you have to go out of your way to chase me down just now?" he says, smirking, before he turns again and goes to the bar.

Paula and Bill are taking their seats as Ryan returns to the table. He greets them and then takes his own seat beside Claire.

"Has Katherine calmed down at all?" Claire asks.

"If anything, she's more high-strung than she was twenty minutes ago. Although I don't blame her..." Ryan glances around the room. "The turnout's not so hot right now."

"People will come," Paula says, waving away the concerns with a flip of her hand. "It is early."

"Katherine had to call her closest friends and practically force them to come down here," Ryan says. "Her reputation among these society people -- it's not so hot right now, in light of everything that my father has done."

"But people already bought tickets," Claire says. "Even if they don't show, she'll have made some money."

Ryan responds with a slight shake of his head. "The ticket prices basically cover the cost of putting on the event. The auction is what's going to make the money for charity. And if no one shows, then there are going to be a lot of bachelors without owners at the end of the night."


Fifteen minutes later, a few more parties have entered the room, but it is still woefully empty. Jason is catching up with Sarah when, at the same moment, they both spot the latest arrivals.

"Oh, great," they say, nearly in unison.

Jason knows that Sarah's comment is in regards to Molly's entrance on Brent's arm, but his own is a response to the sight of Josh Taylor, trailing behind the couple. He has been anxious about this all week, since Molly warned him that she and Brent recruited Josh to participate in the auction. The two men managed to keep their distance from each other at Katherine's brief orientation meeting, but Jason is less confident about a full night involving lots of alcohol.

Sarah seems to read the concern in her younger brother's face. "No throwing punches tonight," she warns, a teasing edge to her voice that helps to relax him ever so slightly.

"Same goes for you," Jason fires back.

Thankfully, Josh hangs back when Molly and Brent come over to say their hellos. Jason watches the other man out of the corner of his eye.

"There you are!" Katherine proclaims when she locates her trio of friends near the bar, taking generous sips from their wine glasses.

"Some gala event," Tenille quips.

"It's early. People like to arrive fashionably late to these affairs," Katherine says, though her voice sounds shaky and uncertain even to her own ears.

Marj shakes her head, and her near-bouffant of hair sways precariously. "I don't know, darling. Of course, we were glad to come, because we're your friends, but those others--"

"They'll be here," Katherine snaps as she casts another anxious glance at the door.

"Mm-hmm," Dar hums before taking another glug of wine.

"All right. Bye, bye, Miss American Pie," Diane says, flipping her cell phone closed. She approaches Tim. "I have a feeling the girls are going to lynch that babysitter if she doesn't let them eat that apple pie in the next five minutes."

"I just talked to Travis," Tim says as he pockets his own phone. "They just got back to Cory's house from the hockey game, and Cory's mom is ordering pizza."

"At least you don't have to worry about him."

"That babysitter looked like she could hold her own," Matt offers.

"When you get Sam and Tori together, nothing would surprise me," Diane says. She slips her phone back into her purse.

"They'll be fi--" Tim stops in mid-word, and his expression goes from nonchalant to horrified in under a second.

"What?" Diane asks, but she discovers the answer for herself as her gaze tracks to the door: Nick Moriani has just arrived.



Katherine flits from group to group, tapping her bachelors on the shoulder to get their attention. "Why don't you head backstage?" she suggests to each one, though her tone leaves no doubt that it's more a command than a suggestion.

She doesn't have to tap Ryan on the shoulder; he gets the cue from her expression. He rises from his seat at the table and is about to go when he spots his father at the door.

"What is he doing here?" Katherine asks, looking to Ryan as though he might have a perfectly rational explanation.

Nick spots them and makes a beeline for his estranged wife and son.

"Get out of here, you bastard," Ryan says, his teeth gritted and his voice low. A few feet away, Claire, Paula, and Bill watch the scene with growing concern.

"Never fear, I purchased a ticket," he says. "I've always been one to support a good cause -- though I must admit, Katherine, I'm not sure that your social standing ranks up there with hurricane relief and hunger in the third world."

"Don't be so smug," she responds, a new ferocity about her that surprises Ryan. "You might have made a fool of me once, but it ends tonight."

Nick snickers. "Ends with what? Twenty people milling around with free alcohol?"

Katherine shoots him a dangerous glare. "If you'll excuse me, I have some final details to which I must attend."

She storms off, and Ryan leans in closer to his father.

"I'm warning you," Ryan says. "If you don't get lost, I will throw you out of here."

Nick takes a step backward. "If you insist on being a Neanderthal about it..."

Ryan watches him walk away, but he isn't so sure that the Nick he knows would accept defeat so easily.

Jason stands in front of the mirror in the bachelors' makeshift dressing room, straightening the tie of his tuxedo for the millionth time tonight. It never looks perfectly straight to him, and he suspects that even if he got it to that point, it still wouldn't look right because he has grown so accustomed to seeing it crooked. He is fiddling with it when the door opens, and he looks over to see Josh entering the otherwise empty room.

"Oh," Josh says, pausing for a moment before he closes the door and enters the room. He raises his whiskey-and-Coke to his lips again. "Is it safe for me to come in?"

"That depends," Jason grumbles. He tries hard to keep his focus on the mirror.

Josh sits down in one of the folding chairs. "Sorry things didn't work out with you and Lauren. She told me about that little misunderstanding."

It takes all the willpower in Jason's being not to whip around. How can Josh sit there and be so snide, offering his condolensces over a relationship that he wanted to see dead in the first place? And then for Lauren to go and tell him about the breakup--

He keeps his jaw firm, almost locked, as he says, "Yeah."

"It sounds like she did want to work on things, though," Josh continues. He stands up and paces the floor, drink in hand.

Jason still refuses to turn around. "This is your business how?"

"Lauren's a friend. We talk about these things," comes the response, and even though Jason can't see Josh's face from his current position, he is sure that, at this very moment, it bears that trademark smirk that seems to be Josh's permanent accessory.

"That was really kind of a dick thing to do," Josh continues. "I mean, you hound the girl for weeks to give you a second chance, and when she decides to, you turn around and act like you don't give a shit about her?"

Jason snaps around and is surprised to find that Josh is only a few paces away from him.

"I'm not going to let this turn into a repeat of Christmas," Jason says, "but if you don't shut your mouth--"

"What are you gonna do about it?" Sure enough, there is that smirk, bright and obnoxious as ever.

Jason closes the gap between them quickly. "I'm just warning you. Shut up, okay?"

"I've got every right to offer my opinion."

"And I've got every right to give mine back: you're an asshole."

Josh touches a hand to his chest. "Oh, I am hurt. That really the best you can do?"

Something inside Jason snaps, and the next thing he knows, his hands shoot out to shove Josh.

But Josh is quicker than him, and he jumps backward. Jason's hands barely miss him, but in the fray, Josh's glass goes flying--

--and its contents splatter all over Jason.

Ryan can see the worry in Tim's face, and as he approaches his half-brother, he hopes that it is clear that this has nothing to do with the bad blood between them.

Luckily, Tim seems to understand perfectly. "What was he doing here?" he asks.

"Trying to get under Katherine's skin, I suppose," Ryan says. "I don't buy that he would leave so easily, though."

"Is the guy dying for a longer prison sentence than he already has coming?" Diane asks.

"I gave up trying to figure out how his mind works a long time ago," Ryan says.

"I'll talk to Brent," Tim offers. "Maybe he can get some guys out here."

"Probably not a bad idea. Come on, though, Katherine wants us all backstage."

Tim says goodbye to Diane and grabs Matt, and they make their way over to Brent. They pass Katherine and her circle of cronies just in time for Tim to overhear one of the ladies exclaim:

"Sorry, darling, but this soiree really is turning out to be a dud. I'm afraid I might have to call it an evening."

The other two ladies cluck their agreement, and Katherine turns away. Though she tries to hold her chin high, her eyes speak volumes -- and what they are saying is: This is a disaster.


At their table, Paula, Bill, and Claire sit in uneasy silence. The confrontation with Nick unnerved all three of them, and now they flip halfheartedly through their programs.

"I wonder if any other people are going to show up," Paula says, glancing at the door.

Claire is too distracted to ponder the thought much. Suddenly, however, she fires off a completely different line of questioning: "What do you think Nick was doing here? Why would he even want to be here? Just to bother Katherine?"

"It's possible," Bill says, sounding just as distracted as Claire feels.

"No, he's up to something," she says, setting down her program. "He has to be."

The men walk the rest of the way to the dressing room in relative quiet, as well. None of them wants to voice what is readily apparent: that the night is a bust, and that they might not even up make it up onto the stage, since there is hardly anyone in attendance to do any bidding.

Ryan opens the door to the dressing room, and they all freeze in surprise. There stands Jason, his tuxedo shirt covered in liquor, a smashed glass at his feet. A few feet away is Josh, doing his best to look innocent.

"What is going on in here?" Brent demands, honing in immediately on his brother.

"He came at me," Josh insists. "All I did was jump back."

Jason glares at Josh but says nothing. Tim pulls him away, and Ryan says, "We rented a few extra tuxedos just in case. We'll get you a clean shirt."

Tim keeps his voice low as he addresses Jason: "What was going on in here? I thought you were going to stay away from him."

"I was doing my best," Jason says, "until he had to get in my face about Lauren."

"Just ignore him," Tim advises, though he knows that is much easier said than done.

Outside the dressing room, Katherine paces back and forth. She can't call the thing off, not now. She'll look like a fool. No, the auction must go on, whether there's much of a crowd in attendance or not.

Ryan bursts out of the dressing room and nearly collides with her.

"Do you know where the extra tuxedoes are?" he asks.

"They should be hanging in the dressing room, in that area behind the curtain," she says. "Why?"

"Minor spill. Nothing to worry about." Seeing the worry in her expression, he quickly adds, "Katherine, don't let my father get to you."

"It's not him!" she cries out. "It's this entire thing! It's a flop!"

"It's still early," Ryan counters, even though he knows that she is probably right. He ducks back into the dressing room, leaving Katherine in the dark hallway to ponder what a fool she will look like when word gets around that her event was a such a dud.

A commotion from down the hallway draws her attention, and she looks to find Tenille, Marj, and Dar hurrying toward her.

"I thought you were leaving," she spits at them.

"We are," Tenille says, "but we wanted to ask if it would be possible to have our admissions refunded--"

"Absolutely not!"

"--seeing as how we paid to attend an event, not an empty room."

"I think I have to use the ladies' room," Dar chimes in, her voice slurred, as Katherine and the other ladies have come to expect at this sort of event.

"There will be no refunds," Katherine says.

"Is this it?" Dar asks. Katherine turns in time to see her turning the knob to the dressing room. Then comes an excited squeal.

Katherine looks over to see Jason Fisher, shirtless, inside the dressing room. He offers an awkward smile as he pulls on a fresh tuxedo shirt.

"Oh, my!" Tenille and Marj exclaim, clamoring to get a view for themselves.

"Those are the men you're auctioning off tonight?" Dar asks, turning back to Katherine.

"Yes." A new confidence fills her, and she repeats, "Yes. Rather impressive, don't you think?"

"I'll say!" Marj says. She whips out her cell phone. "I think I need to call Evelyn and let her know."

"Ooh, wonderful idea!" Tenille echoes. She takes out her own phone.

Before Katherine knows it, the three ladies are on their cell phones, chattering away.

"This might be fun, after all!" Tenille says, patting Katherine on the back.


Will Katherine's friends ensure that the event is well attended?
What does Nick have up his sleeve?
Can Jason make it through the night without killing Josh?
Come over to the Footprints Forum to discuss this episode!

Next Episode