Episode #421

Previously ...
- Brent learned that there was a broken window at Nick's house on the night of the shooting, suggesting that someone else had been in the house. He questioned Ryan, who denied having been there.
- Claire could not help but focus on the mysterious cut on Ryan's hand from the night of the shooting.
- Diane vowed to stand by Tim no matter what, and Tim swore that all he did on the night of the auction was punch Nick.


Claire Fisher transfers the stack of mail to her other hand as she unlocks the door to the loft. She steps inside and finds Ryan Moriani in his favorite chair in front of the plasma TV, but he is looking right at her.

"Hey," she says. There is a strange intensity to his stare, as if he is trying to read her thoughts. It has been this way for days now, ever since Brent came by to question him about Nick's shooting.

"Hey." Ryan stands but makes no move toward her.

Claire flips through the mail in silence until Ryan speaks again:

"How was work?"

"It was good. Fine, I should say. I'm exhausted." She looks directly at him and can see the question that is really on his mind. "Still no change in Nick's condition. I'd tell you if there were anything."

He comes toward her and takes the mail that she has just set down. He leafs through it quietly.

Then--out of nowhere, his gaze still fixed on the cable bill--he asks, "The chances of him waking up aren't very good, are they?"

Claire shakes her head, but then she says, "Every case is different. You never know."

Ryan looks like he is about to protest, like he doesn't believe her attempt to reassure him, but a knock on the door interrupts.

"I've got it," Claire says. She opens the door to find a young man, certainly college-aged, holding an envelope.

"I have a delivery for, uh, Claire Fisher," he says, glancing at the label on the envelope.

"That's me." She accepts the envelope and recognizes the logo immediately.

Once the messenger has gone, Claire continues to gaze at the envelope, but she doesn't dare open it.

"Who's it from?" Ryan asks.

She doesn't know if she can answer.


The door of the crime lab opens with a determined force. Brent Taylor sweeps in like a man on a mission--which he is.

"Tell me you've got something good for me," he says to Carlos, the lab tech who serves as Brent's most regular go-to guy in this neck of the woods.

"I've got something," Carlos says, "but it's not somethin' good."

Brent waits for the news that will, he is sure, condemn him to another stupefying, frustrating week of work.

Carlos pulls out a tray containing what Brent has come to recognize as the shards of broken window from Nick Moriani's house.

"Not a single print on any of these," Carlos says. "Not even a hint of one."

Brent isn't surprised, but it still takes a moment for the hope that he has built up to drain away.

"I don't even know where to turn next," he finally says.

Carlos gestures at the glass. "Couldn't be a coincidence that this happens on the same night a guy gets shot."

"It's not. Someone besides Katherine and Tim went to Moriani's house that night."

"You still think it was his kid?"

Brent nods slowly. "It all fits too well. The broken window, the bandaged hand, the obvious motive..."

"But we're missing the thing that'll pull it all together."

"Exactly." Brent leans against the steel counter and looks over the shattered glass. "Too bad we don't have a clue where to look for it."


"Knock knock," Sarah Gray announces from the doorway of the office. Diane Bishop looks up to see her friend holding a styrofoam takeout contains in each hand.

"Oh, you are officially my favorite," Diane says. She sets aside her work to make space for the food. "Thanks for meeting me here. I'm up to my collagen injections in work. At least this way I feel like I'm not cutting out."

Sarah sets out their lunches. "Pad Thai for you, almond chicken for me... and some glamorous plastic forks."

"I can deal." Diane takes a fork. "You wanna go catch your brother before he leaves for his lunch meeting?"

"I popped in to see him on my way in. He was already on his way out, but we got to chat for a few minutes."

"At least you got to see him." Diane pops open the styrofoam container and takes a moment to breathe in the delicious scent emanating from the mountain of food.

Sarah settles into a chair across the desk. "How's he been lately?"

"Not bad. I was worried, but..." Diane trails off, her mind dashing back to the night of the bachelor auction, when Tim mysteriously disappeared and came home acting like a zombie.

"If he says he'd innocent, we have to believe him," Sarah finishes for her.

"Yeah." But an uneasy silence blankets them until Diane asks, "Are you all ready for your trip?"

Sarah looks momentarily frazzled. "Apparently I'm in charge of packing for Tori, Matt, and myself, so I really need to get on top of that tonight."

"They're not making you do four days of crappy wedding activities, are they?"

"No. Jake and Mia are pretty reasonable. Rehearsal dinner and the actual ceremony--that's all."

"Don't forget the reception!" Diane adds, pausing between bites of her Pad Thai. "How's work?"

"Better than it's been in a long time," Sarah says. "I've got a couple of cases that are actually interesting, for once. I almost hate to leave them for a few days." She stops a forkful of chicken right in front of her mouth. "Almost."

"Maybe someone should hire you to figure out what happened to Nick. God knows the police aren't having much luck."

Sarah finishes chewing. "I'm almost scared to have them actually solve it. Because chances are--"

"--it's someone we know." Diane nods, again consumed by the same thoughts and fears that have plagued her since she learned of the shooting.


Tim Fisher picks up his briefcase and heads away from his desk. Seeing Sarah, if only for a few minutes, has put a relaxed smile on his face; he doesn't get to see any of his siblings nearly enough these days, no matter how often he vows to himself to increase his efforts.

If anyone had told him several years ago--before he disappeared, or right after he came back--that he would be able to catch a few minutes with his younger sister when she dropped by the office to see Diane Bishop, whom he'd also happen to be dating... well, Tim would have laughed in that person's face.

He checks his watch as he strolls out of the department. It is a habit that he has picked up since his return home after those years away: he sets markers at specific milestones in every journey, no matter how big or small, and checks the time at each one. For frequently traveled routes, he has developed a sense of how many minutes it should take to reach a particular point, so he can always track his progress against the norm.

In some ways, it has become an obsession--making sure that he never loses a minute more than necessary, since he has already lost so many.

He passes into the Vision reception area and is about to push the button for the elevator when a messenger, standing at the front desk, speaks to the receptionist:

"Package for a Tim Fisher."

The receptionist accepts the package, a thick envelope, just as Tim steps forward.

"That's me," he says both to the messenger and the receptionist, a dim young woman with a penchant for wearing Looney Tunes apparel to the office.

He signs for the package and takes it with him to the elevator. As he waits, he opens it and slides out the thick document. He has to read the words in order to believe that this is happening.

But the logo on the envelope--that of Eric Westin's law firm--tells him all that he needs to know.


"What is it?" Ryan asks when Claire doesn't answer his first question. He watches with concern as she handles the envelope like a scorching hot pan.

Finally she removes the envelope's contents. "The divorce papers."

Ryan angles for a glimpse of the print.

"They got this done really quickly," Claire says, to no one in particular, as she flips through the pages.

"Yeah." Ryan is not sure what to make of her tone, so he just agrees with the fact itself.

She scans the text, looking uncertain about something. About whether she should trust that these printed words make it real.

"This is what we've been waiting for," Ryan says. He moves closer to her, slides his arms around her waist.

And he feels it. It is momentary, if that. The slightest hint of a movement. But it is there, and he notices it: an instinctive reaction to his touch. Claire flinches, almost jerks away from him.

"I didn't expect this to happen so fast," she says. She doesn't acknowledge the flinch, but he can hear its ghost underneath her words.

"Come on, sign them." He picks up a pen off a nearby desk. "How long have we wanted this?"

She looks at him uncertainly, then takes the pen from him. From his bandaged hand, on which her eyes linger for a painfully long moment.

Without even thinking about it, Ryan stuffs the hand into his pocket.

"I've waited so long to be with you--to really be with you," he says. "We're finally free. It's just you and me."

Claire holds the pen.

"I can do this later," she says. "I should read it over--"

"You know exactly what it says. Come on." He uncaps the pen for her. "This is what you want, right? Just get it over with."

After another uncertain glance at him, Claire sets the papers on the desk and does just that.


Will Claire and Tim finally, completely, move on?
Is Diane's faith in Tim beginning to waver?
Will Brent find the clues he needs to bring the case together?
Come on over to the Footprints Forum to discuss!

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