Episode #432

Previously ...
- Alex kept news of Seth's visit from Trevor, while Trevor hid the fact that he was being blackmailed over having made adult videos.
- Sarah slipped and indicated to Brent that something troublesome had happened with Molly.
- Claire accepted Ryan's marriage proposal.
- The police found Lola Bouvier shot dead at Nick's house. They also found a cell phone--just as Tim arrived home and realized his was missing.

The world around Molly Taylor comes to life before she even opens her eyes. The sounds of the shower turning off, of the bathroom door opening, of someone going through the dresser drawers bleed into her consciousness and drag her from what has been, at best, an uneasy night of sleep.

She watches her husband getting dressed across the room and then looks to the windows. It is still dark outside; only the faintest hints of morning light have penetrated the autumn sky. Molly looks to the bedside alarm clock. 6:03 a.m.

"What are you doing?" she asks. Her voice is a croaky, decrepit, early morning shadow of its usual self, and the sound of it forces her to grip her pillow wearily.

Brent turns to her as he buttons his pants. "I have to get to the station."

Molly accepts the news silently--at least until enough awareness floods her brain to prompt another question.

"When did you get in last night? I tried waiting up, but I was exhausted. I don't even think I made it to 11:00--"

"I came in a little after midnight." His tone is brusque or, at the least, coolly professional.

She pulls herself to a sitting position. "What's wrong?"

Brent looks her over, but by the time he shakes his head and says, "Nothing's wrong," he has been quiet long enough to tell her that something is, in fact, wrong.

"Seriously, Brent, what's going on?"

He and his indecision hover over the open dresser drawer.

"Mol--" His cell phone rings--a sharp, invasive sound that should be banned at this hour of the morning--and Brent hesitates for only a split-second before answering. "This is Brent Taylor... It's all ready? Good to hear... Yeah, thanks. Bye."

When he hangs up, he closes the dresser drawer immediately.

"Brent, if something's bothering you..."

"It can wait," he says. "It'll have to." He finishes dressing hastily and hurries out, leaving Molly to wonder whether the chasm between them is a figment of her imagination. But, as much as she would like to believe that, she knows with troubling certainty that it isn't true.


As the third knock sounds against the front door, Tim Fisher hustles through the living room of Diane Bishop's condominium. He struggles into a sweatshirt and unlocks the door. Who could it be at this hour on a Saturday? This had better be good...

All annoyance drains from his being when he sees who the guest is. Or, more accurately, all annoyance is immediately replaced with terror.

"Brent," Tim says, trying his best to remain composed. "Hey. What's up?"

"Tim Fisher, I have a warrant to search these premises." His brother-in-law presents two pieces of paper. "I also have a warrant authorizing the search of your personal vehicle--"

"How? You can't just get a warrant on a hunch."

"Where's your cell phone, Tim?"

Tim's breaths come fast and hard now, as if no matter how much oxygen he sucks in, none of it makes it to his lungs. How could Brent know about his phone having gone missing?

"It was found at the crime scene," Brent continues.

"Nick was shot weeks and weeks ago."

"The scene of Lola Bouvier's murder."

"Lola was killed?" Tim tries to block Brent from entering the condo. "Be reasonable."

Brent looks him in the eye for the briefest of moments. "I'm sorry, Tim." And then a small team of police personnel files in behind him.

Diane emerges from the bedroom, wrapping her robe around her. "What the hell is going on?"

Tim goes to her side. "Just something they have to do."

He puts his hands on her; he needs the confirmation that she is here, beside him, ready to wait this out. But when he touches her, she flinches--recoils. A moment later, she relaxes and accepts his touch, but for Tim, the whole thing is a charade now. Because all the questioning, and now all the activity swirling around them, have already convinced her that he is guilty.

He is the one to pull away.

"I'm going to get Sam," he says. "Take her out for breakfast or something. She doesn't need to see this."

Diane nods grimly, though she makes no move to follow him.


The rattling of his cell phone on the nightstand jerks Trevor Brooks from sleep. He grabs the phone immediately, before he is even fully awake, and silences the ringer. Only then does he check the caller ID: it's Wes. An early-morning call from his agent seems to merit answering, so Trevor drags himself reluctantly from the bed as he answers.

"Hello?" he asks quietly, glancing back to the bed. Alex Marshall is still sound asleep, unfazed by the miniature commotion.

"Oh, you're actually awake." Wes's voice is bright, alert, and loud, so much so that Trevor beats a hasty retreat into the hallway for fear that the voice on the other end of the line will somehow wake Alex.

"What's with the early morning call?" Trevor asks as he pulls the door closed behind him. He isn't so sure that he wants to know the answer.

"Bad news. I had some people check up on this Cliff Burkett, and it looks like all his stuff is in order. All his records are legit."


"So, I was hoping we could get him on a technicality. That's usually how these things go. Some idiot tries to blackmail some kid who made a mistake without bothering to have proper legal documentation for his smutty videos. It's usually pretty easy to get someone to back down then."

"But Cliff's stuff all checks out?"

"Unfortunately." Wes draws a breath, and Trevor can see him in his mind's eye: poised, unwilling to rush or worry, ever the agent.

"We'll find another way to deal with this," Wes says at last. "But I wanted to shoot you an update. And whatever you do, do not pay him any more money. Got it?"

"Got it."

Trevor flips the phone closed and slips back into the bedroom. He hesitates over getting back into bed. Alex looks so peaceful, still asleep, totally unaware of the stupid mistakes that Trevor made and is now so desperate to cover.

As he pulls the sheet back over himself, Trevor vows to deal with this, somehow, as soon as possible. He can't go on like this.


He is barely aware of the feeling at first. Just a touch of warmth, skipping down his skin, pausing only momentarily to leave its mark here and there and there. But the pauses become longer and longer, and the surges of anticipation that they send through his body become greater and greater. Now the feeling on his torso is unmistakable: a pair of lips, touching down on his stomach, warm and wet.

Alex opens his eyes and sees the tousled mop of brown hair and the long, lean body covering his legs. He smiles to himself and rolls his head backward. What a way to wake up.

The hands reach up and tug down his boxer briefs. Alex lifts his hips to speed the process along.

"Good morning," he finally says, his voice drowsy with sleep and pleasure. He cannot keep a smile off his lips.

"Shh," comes a whisper from down by his waist.

He turns his head to the side. The room is so familiar that, at first, he doesn't notice that something is amiss. But it is familiar in a distant way, like a memory seared into his consciousness through sheer repetition... like an experience far removed from his actual life.

And then it hits him: this isn't his bedroom.

It isn't Trevor's bedroom, either. It's--

He looks down at the head. That brown hair isn't Trevor's.

This is his college dorm room.

Alex runs his fingers through the young man's hair, slides them down to the sides of his head, tips the face up to look at it.

It's Seth.

With a start, Alex awakens. He nearly falls out of bed. Immediately he sits up and looks around to be sure of where he is. Sure enough, it is Trevor's bedroom, familiar and current.

And beside him, eyes open, is Trevor.

"Bad dream?" he asks.

"No," Alex says, swallowing hard. "I mean, yeah. Weird."

Trevor places a hand on Alex's bare chest. Alex forces himself to lie back down, even though he wants nothing more than to bolt from the bed and shower until he forgets all about that dream.


Tim intends to lead Samantha from her bedroom to front door in a mad dash, but as soon as they step into the living room, it is clear that he will not be able to make such a smooth getaway.

"What's going on?" Sam asks as she observes the officers turning the condo upside-down.

"Just something that needs to get taken care of," Tim says.

"Uncle Brent!" Samantha calls out. Brent turns around, looking a little thrown by the collision of his very different roles as police commander and uncle, and then waves to her.

Tim tries to keep his daughter moving toward the door.

"You're going out?" Brent asks.

"Diane will be here." Tim nods toward Samantha. "We're going for breakfast."

"What's going on?" Samantha asks again, glancing between Tim and Brent for a more concrete answer.

"I'll explain over breakfast," Tim finds himself saying, even though he has no idea how he is going to explain this to her. They leave the condo and head down to the parking lot.

"Hang on!" Brent calls after them. He catches up with them. "We need to get at your car, too."

Tim knows better than to blow off the request--which is really more of an order--so he hands Brent the keys. "Make it fast."

"I hope it will be."

Another officer joins Brent and starts going through the car.

"I swear, you're not going to find anything in there," Tim says to Brent, who opens the trunk. "Or in the condo. I mean, if it'll clear things up faster, fine. But--"

Brent looks up from the open trunk. "Samantha, why don't you go see your mom?"

Samantha doesn't move. "Why?"

"Your dad might be busy for a little while," Brent says. Tim doesn't like the sound of that, but he urges Samantha along. Brent doesn't make another move until the little girl has gone back inside.

"What the hell is going on, Brent?" Tim asks. He is getting angry now. It's one thing to do his job; it's another to turn Samantha's life on its head in the name of acting official.

"You think you can explain this?" Brent holds up a rolled towel.

Tim looks it over. "That isn't even mine. And I don't get what a--"

Brent unfolds the towel--and pulls out a handgun.


Molly pulls her hair back into a ponytail as she rushes into the kitchen. Danielle has the boys in their high-chairs and is caught in a showdown with Christian, whose lips seal tighter and tighter with each millimeter that the spoon advances toward his mouth.

"Are you sure you can handle them?" Molly asks.

Danielle glances up and smiles. "I've got it. Don't worry."

Molly pulls a bottle of water from the fridge. "I shouldn't be long. I just need to grab a different sketchbook and my laptop--"

"Molly. I'm serious. Go."

She lowers the spoon just enough so that Christian is able to reach out and smack it, sending globs of food all over himself and the floor.

"No!" Molly tells him as she grabs a dishtowel. The little boy moves back in his chair; the one-word reprimand is something that he clearly understands.

"Still sure about that?" Molly asks.

Danielle takes the towel from her. "Positive."

Pushing aside her reluctance, Molly exits the kitchen and the apartment. She hopes Danielle is up for this challenge.


When Alex finishes his shower, he heads down to the Brooks' kitchen, where he finds Trevor pouring two cups of freshly brewed coffee. He gratefully takes one and sips it, though it does nothing to dispel the cloudiness in his head.

"How'd you sleep?" Alex asks, glancing over at his rumpled boyfriend.

"Pretty good."

Trevor takes his coffee and sits down at the table, where the box of muffins that they bought at Costco awaits. He picks up a blueberry one and picks at the wrapper.

Alex studies him. There is something cool, distant, about Trevor this morning. Suddenly it hits Alex, with all the force of a semi-truck, that maybe Trevor knows about his dream. About Seth. Somehow.

That isn't possible, though. Is it?

"Hey," Alex says over the rim of his coffee cup. "There's something I've been meaning to talk to you about."

Trevor looks up as he breaks a piece off the muffin. "Yeah?"

"Yeah. I got invited to this wedding next weekend..."

"Cool. Are you gonna go?" Trevor's focus is back on the muffin, on his coffee, on the wall. Anywhere but on Alex.

And with that, Alex's resolve is gone. The rest of the explanation rushes out as he deflates: "No. I don't know. It's in Portland."

"Am I invited, too? Is it, like, bring a date, or..."

"Yeah." You idiot, Alex scolds himself. "I guess. But I don't think I'm going to go."

Trevor lifts one shoulder in a half-shrug. "Okay."

Alex nods and leans back against the counter. He sips the piping hot coffee and watches Trevor pick at the muffin. Somehow, the few feet between them feel like more miles than he could ever hope to traverse.


"You didn't have to do this," Ryan Moriani protests--though lightly--as Paula Fisher sets down a heaping plate of eggs, bacon, and toast before him.

"It's my pleasure, really." Paula takes a seat at the kitchen table with him. "Now, to what do I owe this visit?"

"I have news," Ryan says through a bite of toast.

"I don't know if I can stand another one of my sons inheriting millions of dollars. Do you have a wealthy, imprisoned stalker in your past that you've forgotten to mention?"

He finishes chewing. "Not exactly. Though I can't say I would mind that... but this is even better, I daresay."

"Even better? Really?" Paula smiles broadly as she awaits the news.

Ryan makes her wait a moment longer, but he can only hold it in for so long. He hasn't told anyone yet, and he has waited too long for this to keep it to himself.

"Claire agreed to marry me," he says. "We're engaged."

"Oh my gosh! Congratulations, honey."

"Thanks." Ryan sets down his fork. "I'm still having trouble believing that it's real."

"It certainly is surreal," Paula says, and though she maintains a pleasant facade, Ryan can see a hint of a crack in it. He knows that this is strange news for Paula, as it will be for the entire family, but stalling their relationship will not do anyone any good in the long run.

"We're going to be careful about how we break the news, especially to Tim. But I thought you should know--and honestly, I had to tell someone."

Paula offers a compassionate look in response.

"There was a time when I never thought this could happen," he says. "The only parents I had were Nick and Stan... The fact that I'm even able to share this with you..."

"I'm glad you did, honey." She places a hand over his. "Besides, if we could all accept Molly and Brent getting married, I'm sure we can handle this, too."

"I hope you're right."

The warmth in his mother's face gives Ryan hope that this will all turn out as he hopes--that after years and years, he and Claire are finally on Easy Street, and this is the final roadblock in their path.


When Alex arrives home, he finds Jason lying on the couch in sweats.

"What's up?" Jason asks.

Alex manages only a shrug. He ducks into the kitchen to get some water, but as he lingers in front of the open refrigerator, the weight of the day hits him hard. It is only mid-morning, and already he is completely in a funk. The frustration--confusion--whatever it is--is knotted in his chest like a hose with a kink in it, ready to burst open at any time.

He returns to the living room with his water and decides that he needs to be the one to undo that knot. If he keeps this all to himself for much longer, he's liable to lose his mind.

"Remember how you guys dropped me off here the night of the bachelor auction?" he begins, taking a seat across from Jason.

His face scrunched into a curious expression, Jason lifts his head. "Yeah..."

"Someone was here. Waiting for me."

It takes Jason a second to pick up the cue: "Who? Why?"

"Seth." Alex searches Jason for recognition of the name, and sure enough, there it is. "He wanted to talk, or... I don't know."

"After all this time, he just shows up at your place and wants to talk? How'd he even find you?"

"I saw him before," Alex says. "In Portland. He came to my book signing, and then we went to have a drink and talk, and his fiancee showed up--"

"Girl fiancee?"

"Yep. Which, whatever. He can live whatever life he wants." He breathes in deeply, twists the cap off his water bottle and then screws it right back on. "He invited me to the wedding."

"Classy move. I didn't know the little black book doubled as a guest list for weddings."

Alex cracks a grin, albeit a somber one. "I kind of want to go. Just to see it and get some closure on this thing."

"I thought that's what the book was for." There is a forcefulness to Jason's voice that surprises Alex; it is more of a reprimand than a gentle reminder.

"It was. And it is--I mean, it helped me get past it. But seeing him get married would really put a cap on the whole thing."

"You haven't told Trevor?"

Alex shakes his head. "He's being weird. Really preoccupied or something. And I don't want him to get the wrong idea."

Jason just sits there, staring back at him. Finally he stands from the couch.

"Do whatever you feel like you need to do, buddy," he says. "Just don't throw away the good things in your life because you're too busy chasing the past."


Tim buries his face in his hands as he leans against the kitchen counter. When he hears footsteps coming down the hallway, he doesn't even look up. He cannot face Diane or Samantha right now.

"She's working on her homework," Diane's voice says as she brushes past Tim. "Hope that keeps her distracted for a while."

Tim drops his hands but doesn't look at her.

"There's an explanation for all of this," he says. "I just don't know what it is yet."

She regards him with sadness, maybe defeat.

"Diane, I swear. I don't know how that thing got into my trunk."

"You have been through a lot," she says as gently as Diane Bishop ever gets. "A lot of shit, enough to make most people crack. If something happened... we'll get you out of it. We will."

"Nothing happened!" He starts to slam his hands down on the counter but stops mid-motion, afraid that Samantha will hear. Lowering his voice, he hisses at her, "I did not do this!"

Before Diane can respond, Tim bolts from the kitchen.


Brent sits at his desk, unable to focus on any of the paperwork before him. It is filler, all of it, simply a means of ticking away the minutes until he has something concrete on which to proceed. Cases usually do not fill him with this much anxiety, but today, he might as well be the one under examination.

When a shadow steps into his doorway, he calls out, "Come in!" before the person even has a chance to knock.

It is Detective Diaz, holding a piece of paper that Brent recognizes immediately.

"What'd Ballistics say? Is it the same gun?" Brent asks, rising from his seat.

Diaz holds his lips together in a grim line as he hands Brent the sheet.


Christian and Caleb sit on the living room floor, surrounded by more toys than they could possibly have interest in playing with, though they had interest in removing all of them from the toy chest. Danielle stands over them, watching, as they play not with each other, but beside each other as young children tend to do.

Caleb drops what he is doing and searches around. He zeroes in on the toy that Christian is holding, a stuffed basketball, and after a moment of calculation, makes a grab for it. Danielle has to laugh at how sneaky the whole move is. Christian's eyes grow wide as his brother swipes the basketball from him--and then he bursts out into tears.

"Hey, Caleb. Give that back to your brother," Danielle says as she kneels down beside them. Caleb looks untrustingly at her, and Danielle has to fight to suppress laughter at his expressin.

Christian is still crying, so she sweeps him into her arms and stands up. He spends a few seconds reaching downward, toward the lost basketball, before giving up. Danielle pulls him closer to her chest and rubs his back, soothing him back into quiet.

She feels the child go slack against her body. He rests his hand on her shoulder, and for a moment, Danielle is transported back in time. Back to an ease that she never expected to feel, to the comfort of a stolen moment...

She pushes the thought from her mind and sets Christian back down. When he appears ready to cry out again, she gently pries the basketball from Caleb's tiny hands and gives it back.


Alex turns the phone over in his hand several times. His thoughts flip even faster, alternating between conviction and doubt, between confidence and terror.

This isn't even a big deal, he reasons. Seth came here. He invited me to his wedding. I didn't do anything wrong. Yet he doesn't feel fully confident in that stance as he finally opens the phone and dials Trevor's number.

"Hey," Trevor answers. "What's up?"

"Listen, can we meet up a little later?"

"I actually was gonna give you a call in a little while."

"Really?" The news helps put Alex at ease. Maybe he really was making more of Trevor's distraction this morning.

"Yeah. I'm heading to New York again. Just for, like, two days. For work."

"Oh." Just like that, the wind is out of Alex's sails. "When are you leaving?"

"Tonight. I want to make this as fast as I can. Why, is something--"

"No. Nothing big."

The line is silent for a few seconds, until Alex speaks up again: "You probably need to go pack."

"Yeah, I'm in the middle of it now. I'll let you know when I'm supposed to get back, okay?"

"Okay." More awkward, uncertain silence, not at all like the quiet hours that they have spent lying together without needing to talk or fill the space. "Have a good trip."

"Thanks. Talk to you later."

As he ends the call, Alex is busy re-routing himself mentally. Trevor must have some idea of what's going on, even if it is only subconscious. He seems so distant, so removed.

Alex crosses the room and pulls Seth's wedding invitation from the drawer. He knows exactly what he needs to do now.


Brent maneuvers the squad car back over the same path that he traversed earlier in the day. As much as he does not want to be the one to do this, he also feels that he has to be: he cannot imagine Tim being handled by other officers. He knows what the evidence says, what it tells him to think, but he cannot suppress the hope that something new will arise...

When his phone rings, it sets his pulse racing. It is only the middle of the day, and already so much has happened that he knows not to expect a quiet moment. This phone call will be no different, he is sure.

"Brent Taylor," he answers, keeping his focus on the road. But that proves difficult when he hears the news on the other end of the line.

"Are you sure? When?" He struggles to wrap his brain around this latest development. "Yeah... thanks for letting me know."

He hangs up, grips the steering wheel harder, and tries to absorb the news. He has no choice now...


Ryan hesitates before stepping off the elevator. He still is not sure what force brought him here, but now that he has made it to the Intensive Care Unit, there is no turning back. For better or for worse, he has to go into Nick's room, has to see his father, as strange as it might be.

He makes his way down the hall and finds the door to Nick's room open. He turns the corner, and an orderly looks up at him.

"Can I help you?" the orderly asks.

Ryan looks between the man and the empty bed.

"I'm looking for my father," he says. "Nick Moriani. He was in this room last time I was here."

The orderly's lips form into a tight line; his face is an unreadable mask.

"I'm sorry," he says at last. "Your father passed away earlier today."

Ryan's hand reaches for the doorframe, but even when it makes contact, it doesn't feel real. Nothing does.

"Are you sure?" he hears himself ask. "Wouldn't someone have called me? I'm his son..."

The orderly's mechanical attempts at comfort ring hollow in Ryan's ears as he backs out of the room.


Whatever is on television is nothing more than a blur of colors, shapes, and sounds to Tim. He cannot focus on anything. He can barely stand to be here, but it is better than the alternative of going to his parents' and having to explain to them what happened earlier.

This will all blow over. It has to.

When there is a knock at the door, his first instinct is to ignore it. Don't move, he tells himself. Whoever it is will go away.

But they don't. There is a second knock, and then a third.

"Tim?" Diane calls out from the spare bedroom that serves as the office.

"I'm getting it!" he responds, several seconds before he bothers to rise from the couch.

He drags his body to the door. The weariness is ready to overtake him; he wishes that he could fall asleep and stay that way until this is all over.

Especially once he opens the door. Staying on the couch would have been far preferable to this.

Brent looks him straight in the eye, his stare unwavering.

"Tim Fisher, you are under arrest for the murder of Nick Moriani. You have the right to remain silent..."


Is the evidence too much for Tim to overcome?
What will Nick's death mean for Ryan?
Are Alex and Trevor going to destroy their relationship?
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