- Danielle confessed to Brent that she spent time in rehab for a drinking problem before returning to King's Bay.
- Sarah and Matt finally saw eye-to-eye over his insistence that they expand their family.
- Ryan was upset when he noticed that Claire was not wearing her engagement ring, but he agreed to give her time to adjust.
- Tim suggested to Diane that Ryan had something to do with Nick and Lola's deaths, but she felt that he was grasping at straws.
The members of the Fisher family and their various associates--spouses, in-laws, dates--move through the living and dining rooms, carrying their pre-dinner drinks and sampling the wide array of appetizers. It is a relaxed, quiet affair, except for the grandkids occasionally running through in a burst of chaos.
Tim Fisher stands in the corner of the dining room, looking as though he hopes to disappear into the wall. Diane Bishop is at his side, talking to Tim's sister, Sarah, and her husband, Matt. When this conversation is over, Diane will lead Tim elsewhere, and he will stand like a statue, as he has done all evening.
He hears Diane say something familiar about a coworker with a bad unibrow, and when Sarah and Matt laugh, Tim plays along. This is how every minute of every day feels lately. He floats through work, home life, everything, too consumed by actual life-or-death matters to waste energy on the rest of it.
His eyes shuffle sideways, catching on his half-brother. Ryan is laughing with Claire and Paula. Every now and then, he glances over and finds Tim watching. Tim does not avert his eyes; there might not be much he can do, but at least he can silently promise Ryan that he will not back down, that Ryan will not get away with pinning two deaths on him.
The kids run through again--Travis fleeing from his sister and cousin, a perfectly normal holiday scene. Adults shout out and playfully grab the kids before they barrel into something. Claire pulls Travis to her and he tries to wriggle away. Ryan stoops down to talk to the boy.
He has my life.
Tim has known it all along, since he returned to the land of the living and found out that Ryan was his brother. And involved with his wife. And now acting like a father to his son, too. He has known it all along, but never before has he thought it so succinctly. If I were to go to prison, there's already a replacement me.
He has my life. The words flash through Tim's mind like a message in flashing lights. But instead of sinking him even further into his hole, it strengthens his resolve. He mentally tacks a few more words onto the marquee: Not for long.
Matt Gray notices Tim's eyes straying. He knows that what has Tim distracted is much more dire than the source of his own distraction, but that does not help him any less antsy. As soon as there is a lull in the chatter between Sarah and Diane, he places a hand on his wife's arm.
Sarah looks at him; he can tell that she knows what he is thinking.
"Come on," he urges.
"I don't know."
"It's Christmas! What better time is there?"
That stumps Sarah for the moment. Tim and Diane observe them curiously, waiting to be let in on the subject of the disagreement.
"See? Now we have to tell," Matt teases Sarah.
"Tell what?" Diane focuses her iron stare on Sarah. "Don't even try to throw me off. You know what a nosy bitch I can be."
Tim, momentarily checked into the conversation, raises his eyebrows. "It's true."
Matt feels a temporary surge of doubt when Sarah glances at him again. She appears truly troubled.
"Not yet," she says.
He knows why she is so wary, but the occasion is so perfect. And, to him, it seems like bad luck not to conceal something of this magnitude.
To Matt's surprise, Sarah cracks without further prodding. "Fine," she says, as a smile breaks through. Seeing her so happy only increases his excitement.
Sarah waves Tori over. Their daughter joins them, and Matt whispers to her, "You don't have to keep your mouth shut anymore, okay?"
He picks her up--she's getting way too big for this, but right now Matt doesn't care--and grabs a fork with his other hand. He raps it against Sarah's glass.
The sharp ringing hushes the room. Heads turn here and there before settling on Matt and Sarah.
"Sarah and I--and Tori--have some news we'd like to share," he says, hardly able to wait. But he pauses anyway, to share a look with Sarah, to be sure that she is okay with this. Her eyes tell him to go ahead.
"We just found out a few days ago," he continues, "that Tori is going to have a little brother or sister."
Excitement and surprise travel through the room at lightning speed. As congratulations surround them, Matt revels in what feels like, after so many rough ones, a perfect Christmas.
Tim offers his congratulations and then moves to a quieter spot. As happy as he is for his sister and Matt, he cannot stand to be in the thick of celebration right now. He is keeping to himself when Claire approaches.
She stands in silence beside him for a long time. Finally she asks a question that no one has wanted to ask him lately:
"How are you?"
Tim's face softens with appreciation. "Okay, considering. It doesn't really feel like Christmas, though."
She nods respectfully, a wordless acknowledgement that she cannot fully grasp what he is going through.
"Any other year, I would've complained about what a circus this morning was," Tim says. "But it didn't even seem worht worrying about today."
"I guess it's really not such a big deal, in the grand scheme of things."
Tim finds himself wishing it were. He wanted his kids to have as normal a Christmas morning as possible: waking up, running downstairs to look under the tree, opening presents in their pajamas. As it was, he and Diane brought Samantha over here, and Claire and Ryan brought Travis, and they all tried to be as civil as they could on neutral ground.
The whole arrangement should have annoyed him. But with the grim possibilities that lie ahead of him for the coming year, being with his children at all seemed like a blessing.
"Isn't it weird?" he asks, tipping his head toward Sarah and Matt. "They're celebrating another baby on the way--they've finally got it all together--and I'm facing the end of my life as I know it?"
Claire's lips form a tight seal.
Tim cannot help but laugh, even if it is a bitter, awful little thing. "It's okay, you can say it. It's not like I'm not aware of it."
"I wish we could just ignore it. Pretend it wasn't there and make it go away."
"That's the worst thing I could do." When Claire looks at him with confusion, Tim adds, "I am going to find a way out of this."
His suspicions hang heavy between them. He senses that she knows precisely what he is thinking--that Ryan had something to do with the murders--but, for fear of rattling the hard-won peace between them, Tim does not voice those suspicions, and Claire does not defend Ryan against the unspoken accusations.
She does, however, offer encouragement. "You will beat this. Somehow."
He is about to thank her when he catches sight of it: perched there, on her finger, so casually taking the place of its predecessor, quietly trying to wipe it from memory.
Tim locks eyes with Claire, but all he can see is her new ring.
Brent Taylor forces himself to shake Matt's hand and give Sarah a kiss on the cheek. He is genuinely happy for them, especially Sarah, who has come so far from the days when they were married. Still, there is a lingering awkwardness that he suspects will never disappear.
As the excitement dies down, Brent finds himself standing beside his sister at the dining room table, loading appetizers onto their plates.
"That's some Christmas surprise," Danielle says, testing the waters.
He nods quietly. Things have been odd between them since she confessed to having been in rehab for a drinking problem shortly before coming to town. Brent wants to be as supportive as possible, but the dynamic feels strange--and he knows why.
"You have to tell Molly," he says abruptly.
At first she seems to go on the defensive, but her response is softer: "I will. Once the holidays are over."
"Would you have told me if I hadn't talked to Melanie?"
"Yes." But her eyes betray her lack of certainty. "I always intended to tell you guys. The timing hasn't felt right, with all that's been happening. That's all."
"It'll never be the perfect time," Brent says, able to see how difficult this is for her. He has always seen Danielle as such a free spirit, unencumbered by baggage, that he finds it disconcerting to regard her in such a fragile light.
"Then tell her tonight."
"Brent." She stares him down, and when that doesn't get him to back down, she tries another tack: "Not with Dad in town. He's had to deal with this enough already."
Her logic makes sense to Brent. Their father is only in King's Bay for a short time; they are even missing out on time with him right now, since it seemed unwise to bring Josh to the Fishers' after last year's fiasco. But Brent looks across the room and spots Molly with Jason and the twins, and he cannot let it go.
"You're around the boys all the time," he says. "She has a right to know."
"Not tonight," Danielle says, a finality to her voice that she punctuates by walking away from him.
Once the hoopla about Sarah and Matt's news has dimmed, Bill casually pulls his daughter into the kitchen. He has been observing her since the announcement, and he wants to be sure that everything is all right.
"Congratulations. Again," he says as he checks on the ham. "You certainly didn't waste any time."
Sarah looks back at him quizzically.
"Matt told me what was going on, not long ago," he explains. "He came to me for advice, and I told him to be sure not to disregard your point-of-view on something so important."
He waits for a response of some substance, but all he gets is a pained smile.
"I take it you changed your mind, then," he says, hoping to coax something out of her. "You feel that now is a good time for a second child?"
"It was as much my decision as it was Matt's."
Bill closes the oven and studies her intently. She has never been good at concealing her emotions, which served him and Paula quite well during her rebellious teen years. Right now is no exception: something is not right.
"I needed to wait," she finally admits. "To tell everyone, I mean. I'm barely six weeks along, and if anything happens... I just felt like it was too soon."
"But Matt couldn't wait."
"Matt is a great guy. And I'm just being neurotic. He's really excited about being a dad again--actually being around for the pregnancy and the birth and everything." Her demeanor darkens, no doubt with the memory of how she acted when she was expecting Tori.
"I know he is," Bill says. "I'm very happy for both of you, and for Tori. I just want to be sure that you're feeling okay about this."
"I'll feel a lot better once I'm out of the first trimester. Seriously."
"That's all I wanted to know." Bill returns to checking the various almost-ready courses of their Christmas dinner, hoping that Sarah is being honest with him and with herself.
"I was going to tell you," Claire says, pulling away her hand, "when the time was right."
Tim does not know if he should even bother responding. No matter what he does, he will come off as bitter or jealous or something equally terrible. But he cannot stand by and watch their past together be so unceremoniously swept offstage.
"You thought I wouldn't notice it?" he challenges. Does she really think so little of him?
"I kind of wanted you to see, I guess," she says. "So you'd know and I wouldn't have to bring it up." A moment of heavy silence, and then: "I'm sorry."
"You don't owe me any apologies. You don't owe me anything," he says, trying to be casual.
"That isn't true."
They are quiet again until Tim blurts out, "When?"
"We don't have a date. It's more of a long-term thing, a commitment."
"That, too. But I meant, when did he ask you?"
"A few weeks ago. The night--it was actually the night Nick's maid was shot."
That takes the wind out of Tim's sails all over again, but in a completely different regard. If Ryan was busy proposing to Claire that night, then he can't be the key to what happened to Lola. Unless...
"You were together all day?" He already knows the chances of that are slim.
"I worked most of the day. I actually got up the nerve to go see Nick, and when I came home, the last thing I expected was..."
Neither of them can verbalize it. Which is fine by Tim. For the moment, though, he has more important things to worry about.
"I need you to do something for me," he tells her, dropping his voice even lower.
"Find out where Ryan was earlier that night."
"What? Tim--" But then her eyes widen. "No. Ryan did not have anything to do with what happened to Lola. Or Nick."
"You're absolutely, one hundred percent certain of that?"
When she doesn't respond immediately, he goes in for the kill:
"Claire, if you're going to marry him-- Do this for everything we had. Do it for our son."
END OF EPISODE #438
Claire help Tim, or has he finally gone too far?
Does Sarah have a peaceful pregnancy ahead of her?
How long will Danielle stall in telling Molly the truth?
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