Episode #448

- Claire and Ryan's wedding guests were held captive in the basement of the restaurant.
- The armed guards forced Ryan to confess that he had shot Nick… who then emerged, in a wheelchair but very much alive.
- Nick condemned his enemies for all the wrong that he felt they had done him. He planned to blow up the building with all of them inside.
- When Brent and Jason created a distraction, Sarah made it to the back door. She was about to escape when a gunshot rang out…


The sound of a gunshot exploding cuts through the pandemonium. People cover their heads and drop to their knees, and the ruckus turns to silence. Stillness.

Brent is one of those who falls to the ground. He and Jason did their job: they created a distraction, and now Sarah is nowhere to be seen as the back door swings shut behind her. Even with his vision hazy and his head spinning, he spots the bullet hole in the door and feels an immediate sense of relief. She got out. She's fine. There is hope for them to be saved.

"Don't just stand there!" Nick shouts at the guards. "Go after her!"

Two of the guards take off in pursuit of Sarah. As the door closes hard behind them, the remaining guard delivers a swift kick to Jason's midsection. Jason writhes on the floor; Brent can tell that he is doing his best to be tough about it, with limited success.

"Jason!" Courtney's voice rings through the basement. Jason raises his eyes to find her and then lets himself go limp against the floor.

"Are you okay?" Brent tries to whisper, though what results is more of a croak.

Jason forces a nod. He is clearly in pain, but at least neither of them has been shot.

"A valiant effort," Nick says, rolling his wheelchair closer to them, "but I'm afraid effort doesn't count for much today."

Ryan, tossed aside by the guards when Brent and Jason charged, stands to the side now.

"Let them go!" he demands. When that gets no reaction, he changes his tone and tries a different tack: "Dad. Please. It isn't them you want to hurt--it's me."

"No, no, it's them, too. These people pried you away from me, made you think that you could be something other than what you really are." Nick fiddles freely with the remote control, as if he is considering pushing the button any second now and blowing them all to pieces.

"It's funny, isn't it? All you wanted was for them to accept you. You wanted to prove that you weren't anything like your father--either of us, Stan or me. But all you did in the process is prove exactly that."

Nick fixes his cold stare on Ryan as he speaks, drilling the words in so deep that Ryan cannot possibly brush them off, cannot do anything but accept them as truth. And it is the truth, Brent knows as he watches Ryan's utter helplessness. This man, whom they have all accepted and started to trust, pulled the ultimate fast one on them. He would have let Tim be put to death if it meant he got to spend his life with Claire.

Ryan drops his head in shame.

"And you," Nick says to Claire. "Your father once had such high hopes for you. But you ruined his life, and now you've ruined Ryan's, too."

Claire's face is hard, tightened with intensity. "Shut up," she spits at Nick.

Nick goes on, undaunted, as if he expected that she would be too dim to grasp the grand wisdom of his words. "I warned my son about you. I told him that you would ruin him. And it turned out that I was correct, didn't it?"

Claire doesn't answer. Brent lifts his head and surveys the group of captives. The kids are crying now, except for the twins, who seem oblivious to what is going on around them. Matt holds Tori in his arms, but his attention is only half on her; the door through which Sarah slipped out has the rest of his focus.

Brent catches Matt's eye. He offers what he hopes is a reassuring look. Sarah comes alive in situations like this, and if anyone can save them, it is her.

Matt does not look the least bit reassured.


Nick's two guards scramble out the back door and up the cement ramp that leads them to street level. There is no sign of Sarah, but they know that they are only moments behind her. A look between them confirms the direction that they should go, and with that wordless decision, they take off past the dumpster and around the corner of the building.

From inside the dumpster, Sarah hears the door slam closed. She hears the hurried footsteps that follow and braces herself. Of course they are going to check in here; she should have kept running. But the lid never opens, and after thirty or so more seconds pass, she cracks the top of the dumpster open. Sunlight stings her eyes--but the guards are nowhere to be found.

They can't have made it very far, she knows, so she does her best to be silent as she climbs out of the dumpster. Maybe someday she will be able to tell this story and laugh about it, but right now, that does not seem possible. Not with her loved ones trapped in that basement, with that madman ready to detonate a bomb at any second.

At least there wasn't too much crap in there, she thinks as she awkwardly hoists herself over the side of the dumpster and lands on the pavement.

Her hand rests on her stomach, as it did the entire time she was running up the ramp, looking for a place to go, and hurling herself into the dumpster. Everything feels fine with the baby. Not that she has any scientific way of knowing, but her body feels the same as it has since the moment she first suspected she was pregnant.

She has to do this for this baby, and for Matt and Tori. She has to stop Nick.

Pressing her body against the wall, she peers around the corner. The two guards are in front of the restaurant's entrance, guns out of sight but at the ready. They are searching for her behind plants, posts, benches.

"She probably ran to use the phone somewhere," one of them says, and his voice sounds so normal, as if he might be wondering where he left his keys, that it chills Sarah. She has no idea what they get out of this arrangement with Nick, but she has no doubt that they would kill her to ensure that his plan goes off as arranged.

The guards discuss the situation for a moment longer, though it feels excruciatingly drawn out to Sarah. As they finally take off across the street, toward the other shops and restaurants, she makes up her mind. Yes, she needs to get to a phone and call the authorities. But there is no counting on Nick to play it cool until then.

She has to find the bomb, and she has to defuse it before Nick can set it off.


Nick sits back in his wheelchair, seemingly content to let them stew in their own fear. For Tim, the silence is too much to handle. He cannot help but think about how much different all their lives would be--how much anguish they would all have been spared--if Ryan had never come to King's Bay in pursuit of Claire.

"I told them they were all wrong about you," Tim says, out of nowhere. His words command the attention of everyone in the basement, but he levels an unflinching stare on Ryan, who eventually meets it with one of his own.

"When I came back, I thought they were all crazy for thinking you'd changed," he continues. It feels so good to speak these words and finally, finally, not be out of line or earning the ire of the rest of his family. "Turns out I was right all along."

Ryan speaks with his jaw clenched, as if unsure that he can even manage a response without falling apart. "I did what I had to do. I never wanted to see you suffer, Tim."

"That was just an unpleasant side effect of getting what you wanted, right?"


The rebuke comes from Claire, and Tim throws her a disbelieving look. After all that this monster has put them through, she is still going to take his side?

"Nick might be crazy, but he's right," Tim says. "Ryan is no better than him or Stan."

"Wait," Claire says.

Tim sees the flash of hope on Ryan's face. He wonders if he is living in some bizarro version of the world in which up is down and wrong is right. It is the only explanation for Claire's insistence on sticking up for Ryan, even now, knowing all the horrible things that he has done to their family.

Tim shakes his head. "No. Everything I'm saying is true."

Claire looks to Ryan. He is ready to pull her to him and never let go. Tim shudders to think of what lengths Ryan might go to in order to keep her now--

"Just let me get a few words in, too," Claire says. "God knows he deserves it."

--or not. Ryan's face falls. Tim thinks that he can actually see the life draining out of this man who is supposed to be his brother.

"I was an idiot for thinking that you had changed," she says, refusing to look anywhere but dead into Ryan's eyes. "This isn't love, Ryan, and it never has been. It's obsession, it's control, and it is sick. You are sick."

She goes quiet and defers to Tim, but he cannot think of anything else to say right now. Seeing Claire rip into Ryan is too satisfying.

Nick, who has been watching the whole thing like a spectator entranced by a dynamic tennis match, clears his throat.

"Fun as this is, and as much as I enjoy seeing you suffer, Ryan, I'd really prefer not to waste much more time."

Tim zeroes in on Nick's hands. His fingers look old and frail, frighteningly like those of a skeleton, yet they hold the power to turn this entire place into a mess of fire and rubble and send them all to their deaths.

They are granted a momentary reprieve by the ringing of Nick's cell phone--or so Tim assumes, since the rest of their phones were taken and thrown into a pile in the corner.

Nick pulls out the phone and answers with a bark. "What?"

A split-second later, there is a hint of desperation in his voice. "What do you mean, you can't find her?"

Tim feels a surge of hope. He glances over at Matt, who, for the first time since Sarah slipped out, seems encouraged. She is going to save them. She has to.


Sarah hangs up the kitchen phone. Immediately she finds herself listening for the sound of sirens approaching, though she knows that it will be several minutes before the authorities arrive. And even then, there is nothing to stop Nick from detonating the bomb.

Unless she defuses it first.

She starts in on a frantic sweep of the restaurant. She has no idea what she is looking for, exactly, but she is sure that she will know it when she sees it.

That certainty, however, does little to help her in her search. She checks in every place that she can think of--the cupboards, the ovens, everywhere. Nothing.

She checks the clock. Minutes have already passed. Nick could push that button any minute, and it would all be over.

Then her eyes fall on the one place in this restaurant that she would love to avoid: the walk-in freezer. As soon as she sees it and processes the thought that she wants no part of it, she realizes that the bomb must be in there. Of course.

The last time the family celebrated a wedding at this restaurant, it was her own, and before she even made it to the ceremony, Jennie Burkle trapped her in this very freezer. In light of today's events, the whole thing seems much less serious, but it is still a place that she would prefer never to set foot again.

Too bad. She balls her fists and marches to the freezer. The door is heavy, but she yanks it open and takes a tentative step inside.

She goes through the shelves in a flash, searching everywhere, knocking things to the floor. Nothing. How much trouble could Nick's men have gone to in order to hide a bomb that they never expected anyone to find, anyway?

It isn't in here.

She bolts out of the freezer and out of the kitchen, relieved to leave the chill behind but even more troubled not to have found the bomb in there. The main area of the restaurant is relatively open--and yet, the bomb could be stashed anywhere. They do not have the luxury of time. She strains again to hear the sirens that she hopes are approaching, but there is no sign of them.

She looks around frantically. There has to be some place that is so obvious, so--

And then she sees it.

How fitting. How completely insane. Stacking the bomb with the wedding presents.

She doesn't actually see it, but she knows that it must be in there, in the pile of wrapped presents. She races over to the table and tosses aside the familiar presents, the ones she saw other guests carry in. There it is: a box with no gift tag on it. A big, square box, in completely nondescript wrapping. She picks it up with the utmost care and gives it an even more tentative shake.

This is it. She knows it.

She tears into the wrapping. Scraps fall to the floor, and her pulse races. If she can figure this out--if she can defuse it in time--

She hears the restaurant door open. Footsteps pound toward her. She tries to work faster.

But within seconds, a pair of hands have grabbed hold of her, a gun is mere inches from her face, and the half-unwrapped box might as well be miles away from her grasp.


Nick sits in his wheelchair, taking in the sight of his captives with a subtle but unmistakable glee. The basement has fallen quiet following the call about Sarah's escape, and as he huddles together with his family, Tim can tell that Nick is waiting for word either way so that he can decide how to proceed.

"Dad." Samantha, whispering, tugs on the sleeve of Tim's suit jacket.

Keeping one eye on Nick, Tim kneels down so that he can talk to his daughter. "What, honey?"

"I have to go to the bathroom."

Tim almost has to laugh. He is surprised that it took so long for something so mundane to arise. But he maintains a straight face as he answers Samantha.

"Can you hold it for a little while?" he asks gently. "We'll be out of here soon."


There is something so wonderfully childlike about her reaction, and it breaks Tim's heart. This kid--innocent enough to take her father's word that everything will be all right in a minute, despite all signs to the contrary--should not be in a situation like this.

"Your Aunt Sarah is working on it," Tim says. He wants to believe that, too, so for a few seconds, he allows himself to commit to the thought. They are almost out of here.

The shrill cry of Nick's cell phone interrupts Tim's moment of delusional bliss.

"You have her?" Nick demands as he answers the call. He listens impatiently, then says, "They'll never get here in time. Get her down here and we'll…"

But Nick trails off. He must hear it, too, the same thing that Tim hears. The faint but undeniable sound of sirens in the distance.

We're saved, Tim thinks, though he dares not voice the thought aloud.


Sarah struggles against the two guards who have taken hold of her, to no avail. These men are like brick walls, unfazed by anything she throws their way. Her declaration that she called 911 only seemed to spur them into a more urgent version of their robotic action.

"It can't be worth it!" she grunts as she tries to thrash away from them. "Whatever he's paying you--we can do better. We can give you immunity--"

She isn't really sure if any of that is true, and apparently, neither are the guards. They knock her to the ground and try to pin her down, despite the limbs flying in all directions.

Finally she settles down. She lies still long enough for the men to relax their grips just a fraction--and then she strikes. A swift kick to one's crotch and the other's face buys her the second that she needs to leap to her feet.

She makes it back to the gift table and grabs the box with the torn wrapping. She claws furiously at it. It's in there. If she can just--

Strong hands grab at her legs and try to drag her away. She allows them to do it, but she clutches the box. With enough of the wrapping ripped away, she fumbles to pop open the top of the box.

And then it comes. At first, she does not even realize that it is happening. The box makes a series of noises, first a click and then a hum.

The guards freeze, just as Sarah has.

The hum drones on. It doesn't work, she realizes, as the breath that has been trapped in her chest begins to move again.

"It doesn't work!" she shouts to no one in particular.

Then the humming stops, and everything around her is booming and burning and falling.


Who will survive the explosion?
Who won't be so lucky?
What might the future hold for the survivors?
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