Episode #422

Previously ...
- Paula and Bill joined Courtney in encouraging Jason to accept the money that Shannon willed to him.
- Alex kept the news of Seth's visit from Trevor.
- After Lauren purchased a date with him at the bachelor auction, Josh convinced her to go to a concert instead of the pre-planned date.
- Sarah told Diane that she, Matt, and Tori would be flying to Pennsylvania for Jake and Mia's wedding.


The arena thunders with anticipation. Bodies pack the floor and the seats. Lauren Brooks watches her feet carefully as she follows Josh Taylor through the crowded aisles.

Only once they reach their seats does Lauren dare to break her concentration enough to speak.

"This is nuts," she says, taking in the crowd around them. "I didn't think there'd be so many soccer moms and ten-year-old girls."

Josh cocks an eyebrow. "It's a Kelly Clarkson concert."

He hands her the oversized soda and box of candy that she ordered from the concession stand. She thanks him before continuing: "Don't sound so disgusted. I think it'll be fun."

He sulks silently for a moment. It is the same weird trance he went into several times during the long drive from King's Bay. She cannot tell what is going on in his mind--if he is genuinely annoyed to be at this concert, if he is contemplating some inappropriate remark, or if there are things going on inside that head that she cannot even imagine.

Finally he turns to her; the dim lighting catches and accentuates the strong, square line of his jaw.

"When I suggested a concert," he says, "I was thinking more, like, Kanye."

"Hey, I'm the one who paid for the alleged privilege of your company, so you might as well indulge me. Besides..." She trails off, smirking.


"Nothing." She goes quiet for a second, then blurts out, "If you can sing along to 'Since U Been Gone' when you think you're alone in the break room..."

Josh's face lights up--first with something that looks like embarrassment, but it quickly shifts into something cockier and more Josh-like.

"You were the only one that saw that. Right?"

She tightens her lips and toys with him for a few seconds.


"Yep." She smiles broadly, savoring the rare chance to one-up him. "Don't worry, though. Your dirty little secret is safe with me."


The sound of the door opening pulls Alex Marshall's attention away from the Sex and the City episode on the television. He reaches for the remote instinctively but decides not to change the channel.

Jason Fisher enters and drops his equipment bag on the floor beside the door. "Hey," he says, before getting a look at the TV. "Oh, no. Not you, too!"

"It's a good show!" Alex protests. "It's addictive." He neglects to mention that this is the third consecutive episode he has watched this evening.

"I think I'm the last person in the world who hasn't caved," Jason says. He drops down onto the couch anyway.

Alex takes in his roommate's exhausted appearance. "Rough day?"

"The class I had to teach tonight was insane. I swear they only advertise these group classes to kids in juvie. Or asylums."

"Yes, I hear figure skating is a popular choice for the children following their shock therapy sessions."

"Seriously." Jason drops his head onto the back of the couch and makes a noise that sounds like the bastard child of a sigh and a moan. "Days like this are enough to make me want to take that money from Shannon. Speaking of asylums."

Alex focuses a stare upon him. "So that means you're considering taking the money, then?"


The fading night provides a hazy blue backdrop to the wedding reception, which is still in full swing on the property's lawn and in the various gazebos spread over it. The DJ plays a hip-hop tune that Sarah Gray does not recognize, and she finds her daughter on the dance floor with the bride and bridesmaids.

Sarah watches from the sidelines until the song ends. Mia spots her and leads Tori over.

"You should join us out here," Mia urges her. "We're dancin' up a storm. Right, kiddo?"

"Right," Tori says, still dancing to another song that sounds vaguely, generically familiar to Sarah.

"I don't even think I can dance to all this newer music," Sarah says. As soon as the words pass her lips, it hits her that she officially sounds like her mother.

Tori's hands go to her hips. "This isn't new, Mom. It's from, like, last summer."

"Well, I'm sorry, miss," Sarah teases back. She looks to Mia. "You have no idea how elderly I feel right now."

"You? Girl, you look fabulous!"

Matt's voice comes from behind Sarah: "She does, doesn't she?" A moment later, his arm slides around her shoulders.

Jake steps around them to join his new wife. "What's going on?"

"My daughter's just making me feel old," Sarah says.

"I can deal with old," Matt says. He kisses her on the cheek.

"You guys are gross," Tori says before slipping back into the crowd of dancers with Mia's bridal party.

Sarah looks to Matt. "Does she get that attitude from you? Because I know it couldn't possibly be from me."

Matt's eyes widen. "Yeah, right."

"She's a great kid," Mia says.

Jake leans in toward his brother and sister-in-law. "To tell you guys the truth, Mia and I are gonna start trying right away."

"To have kids?" Sarah exclaims.

"Shh!" Jake responds, but he nods and smiles at the same time.

"We don't wanna wait too long," Mia adds, "with neither of us getting any younger and all."

"That's awesome," Matt says, sounding genuinely excited. His eyes flash to his wife. "We'd like to have another one, too, right?"

"Yeah. Of course," Sarah says. She has always assumed that they would, at some point, give Tori a sibling.

A smile curls Matt's lips. "Soon, maybe? You know Tori would love it."

"Yeah," Sarah says, "she would." She takes in the excitement of the other three, failing to mention that something about the idea makes her a little uneasy.


It is bedlam in the arena. Lights flash, music roars, and the screams of preteen girls threaten to drown out Kelly Clarkson completely.

Lauren glances over at Josh. He has been quiet since the concert began--observing the crowd around them, watching the pop star onstage without much of a reaction.

She leans over to him.

"I'm sorry," she shouts, aiming her voice directly at his ear.

He looks over, puzzled.

"I'm sorry!" she repeats, a little louder.

Josh leans into her. "For what?"

"Making you come to this." Her voice sounds hollow to her own ears, laid out against the background of overpowering noise that threatens to suck up every hollered word. "I thought it'd be fun in a cheesy way, but if you're not having a good time--"

"Who said I wasn't having a good time?"

She makes a face. No need to strain her vocal cords telling him how obvious it is.

"I am, I swear," Josh says. "It's just not really my scene, you know?"

"Seriously, it's fine. If you want to go..."

"I don't!" He leans in closer, and Lauren is very aware of his shoulder pressed against her arm.

She looks back at the stage, and a moment later, a voice floats into her ear.

"No, I can't breathe... No, I can't sleep..."

She turns back to find Josh grinning as he sings along.

"I'm barely hangin' onnnnn!"

With a smile, Lauren joins him: "Here I am, once again, I'm torn into pieces!"

Her eyes go back to the stage, but she can feel Josh beside her, pressed against her, as their shouting, off-key voices blend into the hundreds of similar ones around them.


Alex waits for Jason to respond to his question, but all he receives is a blank stare.

"I don't know," Jason finally says, and the debate raging inside him becomes visible to Alex. "My parents and Courtney, they all think I should give it to charity or something."

"I don't see why that's such a painful option."

"It's not." But Jason's distant tone, coupled with the way that he concentrates way too hard on straightening the pile of coasters that they never use, suggest otherwise.

"It's just, like, there are a lot of things I could do with that money, too," he continues when he is ready. "But knowing where it came from..."

"Sounds like, after everything Shannon put you through, a few millions dollars is not such an unreasonable trade-off."

"Guess not." Jason puts his feet on the coffee table. "What's going on with you? I feel like I've barely seen you lately."

"Well, I haven't received any multimillion dollar inheritances from any deceased, psychotic heiresses, but... things are still pretty decent. Writing a lot, mainly."

"Finally figure out what the next book's gonna be?"

"I'm working on it. I've been doing some brainstorms, trying stuff out. I'd like to do something totally different for this one."

"Less personal?"

"Yeah. I think so. Something more fun."

"I think you've earned it, considering how hard the last one was for you to write." Jason stands and starts to move toward the kitchen, then turns back. "You ever wonder if he read it?"

"What?" The reference to Seth puts Alex on edge; he wonders if Jason found the wedding invitation or saw Seth on the porch that night or--

"I just assumed he could read," Jason says. "You know, since you met at college and all... But I guess that was a ridiculous assumption, huh?"

Alex manages a shrug, tries to toss off an unconcerned laugh. "Who knows?"

Jason doesn't force the issue. Instead he ducks into the kitchen, leaving Alex alone with his thoughts and Carrie Bradshaw's neurotic ramblings on the television.

Stop being paranoid, he tells himself. He doesn't know Seth was here. Still, some part of him wishes that Jason knew--that he could confide in his best friend about this thing that he cannot get off his mind.


Will Alex tell Jason about Seth's visit?
Are Lauren and Josh on the road to a relationship?
Why did the mention of another baby make Sarah nervous?
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