Episode #467

- Jason wanted to talk to Courtney about where their relationship might be headed, but they wound up having sex again instead.
- Trevor grew depressed about his crumbling relationship with Alex and his stagnant modeling career.
- Seth applied for Ryan’s former job at the ice arena. Jason realized who he was and decided to interview him anyway.
- Tim and Claire learned that Travis skipped his first therapy session.
- Matt finally got Sarah to talk about the baby they lost, but the discussion turned into an argument in which each blamed the other for what happened. They were horrified to see that Tori had overheard them fighting.



Jason Fisher opens his bedroom door slowly, carefully, and peers out into the dark hallway. Alex’s door is closed. Good. Jason turns back and gestures to Courtney, who is still pulling her sweatshirt over her head.

He nods his head toward the hallway, indicating that the coast is clear. Courtney slides past him and tiptoes her way down the hall.

“Why are we even doing this?” she asks in a whisper so light that he would not be able to hear it if it hadn’t become such a part of their routine lately.

“Because.” Only now does it occur to him that there is no good answer to that question. He is certainly not embarrassed by her. He knows that his family and friends like her. But none of that curbs the instinct to keep this thing between them private. Secret.

They reach the living room. Now, with the front door only feet away, Jason notices the way that she is looking at him. Apparently his “because” was not as sufficient an answer as he had hoped.

“Then why haven’t you told anyone?” he challenges back.

No answer.

“That’s what I thought,” he says before concentrating all his energy on silently unlocking the front door.

“It’s getting exhausting, that’s all,” she says.

“I know.”

They spend all day at work trying to act platonic--for whose benefit, Jason is no longer sure. Sandy caught them together, so it isn’t as if it is a secret to her. However, something about going through the day without acknowledging it makes the whole arrangement a lot easier to deal with. Only in stolen moments--in the supply closet, in an empty corridor--do they let that shared spark out.

Jason slides the door open, and Courtney moves wordlessly through the doorway. She turns back, a genuine smile on her lips.

“Thanks. Again,” she says.

Now comes the awkward part: the goodbye kiss. The kissing when they meet up, that he has no issue with. Those aren’t just kisses--they are preludes to sex, the reason they are meeting up. But there is something distinctly more couple-y about these goodbye kisses, and he has not yet figured out how to handle them.

“Have a good night,” he says, leaning in and laying a peck on her lips. That is all he intends it to be. But when they touch, there is something about the contact--he can’t bring himself to break away just yet. It is turning into a full-blown kiss when they hear a door opening elsewhere in the apartment.

“Jason?” Alex asks from down the hall.

Without another word, Courtney dashes out of the apartment, shutting the door behind her. Jason closes it just as Alex enters the living room.

“Are you going somewhere?” he asks.

“I thought you were asleep,” Jason says, trying to play it casually.

“I’ve been reading. What are you up to?”

“Nothing. Just getting some fresh air. It’s stuffy in here.”

“You’re going outside without shoes at the end of October? Just crack open your window and call it a night.”

Jason shrugs. Better not to dig the hole any deeper. He breaks toward the kitchen.

“You want anything to drink?” he asks.

“No, I’m fine.” Alex does not move from his spot. “Jason, something is up. What’s going on?”


Tim Fisher waits awkwardly with his son as Claire unlocks her apartment door. The moment she has it open, Travis bolts inside.

“Travis, wait,” Tim says, but the teenager pays them no attention. He vanishes into his room and swiftly closes the door behind him.

“Let him stew for a while,” Claire says as she removes her coat.

Tim nods, both in agreement and because he is too rattled from the night’s happenings to do much else. He had hoped that Travis beginning therapy would be start of a turnaround in their relationship with their son, but instead, Travis skipped the session and went to a Halloween party. Thankfully, he didn’t put up too much of a fight when they showed up at the party and asked him to come with them--maybe because he feared further embarrassment in front of his friends--but he has not said a word to them since leaving.

“Do you want something to drink?” Claire asks.

“No, I’m fine.” Tim takes in the apartment around him. It is the first time he has come up here; usually he just pulls up in front of the building and waits for Travis to come down to the car. “Nice place, by the way.”

“It’s still only half-put-together, but I haven’t really had the time to get it done. I feel like I’ve said that about every place I’ve lived for the past fifteen years, though.”

“I think it always feels that way, no matter where you are.” Tim understands the feeling well: since coming back, he has lived at his parents’, then at Diane’s, and now back at his parents’. His living situations have been so temporary for so long that he hardly remembers what it is like to have a true home.

Claire uncaps a bottle of water and settles into a beige armchair. “What are we going to do with him?”

“We’re doing everything we can,” Tim says, as much as he hates to admit defeat on this front. “There’s only so much we can do if he doesn’t want it.”

“We just need to keep at it. He’ll come around eventually.”

“You really think so?”

“He has to.”

Tim is unconvinced. “What if all we do is push him further away? We’ve already put him through so much--if we keep pushing, we could lose him.”

“We’re going to lose him if we don’t make him face this. He’s a good kid who needs some straightening out. We’ll get that for him.”

Tim was sure that having to drag Travis out of that party was a sign that whatever they are doing is not working. Maybe they have been going about this all wrong, forcing the issue and pressuring Travis to communicate with them. Maybe less is more.

“I say no parties, no soccer, no friends unless he goes to Dr. Arcaro,” Claire says.

“I don’t think taking away the only things that he actually enjoys will do us any good.”

Silence strikes. They stare at each other, in a deadlock. Tim cannot believe that Claire is taking such a hard stance on this. He was sure that she would agree about backing off a little.

“I thought you were worried about him blaming you,” he says. “Isn’t forcing him to see this therapist only going to make it worse?”

“He’s going to hate me either way, so he might as well hate me while doing something good for himself.”

Tim doesn’t know what else to say.

“We’ll talk about this tomorrow,” he finally manages.

“Just think about what I’m saying,” she says, almost a plea as he leaves the apartment.

Since he cannot promise that, he says nothing at all.


Anticipating the chill of night, Sarah Gray slips on her fleece jacket and zips it up all the way over her neck. Even the sound of the zipper seems amplified to an unbelievable degree in the totally silent apartment, so she begins opening the front door with the utmost care.

She feels someone behind her even before there is any sound or movement to suggest another person’s presence.

“Where are you going?” Tori asks.

“I was just going to take a drive,” Sarah says, and even though it is the truth, all she feels is overwhelming guilt.

Everything about Tori seems so childlike right now--the softness of her voice, the sleepy daze in her face, the simple ponytail. She is so full of energy and attitude most of the time that it is easy to forget that she is such a child… an innocent child caught in the middle of whatever is going on between Sarah and Matt.

“Where to?”

Sarah removes her hand from the doorknob. “I don’t know, really. It doesn’t matter. Driving helps me think sometimes.”

Tori just stands there, her presence a silent plea for Sarah not to go anywhere.

Taking the cue, Sarah asks, “Do you want something to drink? Eat?”

“No.” Tori moves to the couch and curls up against one end of it. “Why do you have to go someplace else to think?”

“I don’t.” It is a lie. Sarah can barely breathe in this apartment tonight. She doesn’t know if it is even possible to clear her head, but if it is, it sure as hell is not happening here.

She joins her daughter on the couch and cuddles up to her.

“Are you and Daddy getting divorced?”

The question reaches out and chokes Sarah. A million possible responses shoot through her head, but all of them are dwarfed by the ticking of some invisible clock warning her that every second that passes without an answer is a second that could do serious damage to her daughter.

“No,” she says, simply and firmly.

“Good. You can’t.”

Sarah wraps her arms around her daughter, and Tori’s tired body melts right into hers. The contact is simultaneously the most comforting and the most heartbreaking thing that Sarah could imagine right now. She knows that her one-word answer is what has helped Tori relax, and she wishes that it could do the same for her. Instead it burns at her with the guilt of, if not a full-blown lie, a possibility too swiftly denied.


The glow of the television bathes the otherwise dark room in a strange light. Maybe it is only because it is Halloween, but to Trevor Brooks, the effect is more than a little eerie.

After fixating for several minutes on the bizarre, blurry projections on the wall, Trevor picks up the remote and turns off the TV. It doesn’t matter, anyway; he hasn’t paid any real attention to it for at least half an hour.

The dark and silence are nowhere near as peaceful as he’d imagined they would be, though. His mind is still running itself ragged, thinking about Alex and his career in the same loops that it has been following for weeks now. It just seems to compound--the more he thinks about it all, the more he finds it impossible to pry himself away and think about anything else but the sorry state of his life. Drifting off to sleep, which would be a welcome escape, seems a distant possibility.

Sound and light explode all at once, and before he fully processes what is happening, Trevor darts out a hand and grabs his phone off the nightstand. Alex? That’s the only person he can think of who would be calling at this hour. The possibility somehow makes his body both light with relief--if he’s calling, that has to be a good sign--and jittery with anxiety.

But the display on the caller ID does not say Alex’s name. Instead it shows a number… a number with a New York area code. Intrigued, Trevor answers.


“Trev. Baby. What’s up?”

Cliff Burkett’s voice tears at Trevor’s stomach like a rusty blade. He should have known it would be Cliff.

“What do you want? I don’t have any more money,” Trevor says. It’s a lie, though not an enormous stretch. He has enough saved up, but one or two “donations” to Cliff would wipe him out pretty well.

“Kinda what I figured.” The silence that fills the line is typical Cliff: the kind of quiet that won’t let you relax, because there is something behind it, something waiting to leap out. “That’s why I’ve got an offer for you.”

Trevor doesn’t know how to respond to that. He figures that he might as well play Cliff’s game, so he says nothing.

“Looks like you’re having some trouble getting modeling work,” Cliff says.

“I’ve been out for a few things. That’s how it is. You work in spurts.” It is the truth, although Trevor has not had such a level-headed attitude about it lately. He has had the feeling that his agent hasn’t wanted to bank too much on him because of what happened with Objection, and all that suspicion has done is make Trevor feel less confident when he does manage to score an audition.

“Too bad, though. Like I said, I’ve got an offer for you. Probably can’t afford to turn down work, huh?”

“Work?” And then Trevor gets it. “No. No, no, no. I am not--that is the worst idea I have ever heard.”

“You’d be a star, Trev. People know your face. They wanna know a lot more of you.”

“They’ve seen all they’re going to see.”

“Hey, if that attitude can pay the bills, good for you,” Cliff says condescendingly. “You think I always wanted to make porn? I wanted to be a photographer, shoot movie stars and all that.”

This sliver of personal info knocks Trevor even further off-kilter. It hasn’t ever occurred to him that Cliff could be anything more than a sleaze who lured vulnerable guys into making movies they’d later regret. To think of him as a younger man with dreams… the way Trevor is, or was…

“Just remember, things don’t always go the way you planned, and you’ve gotta make adjustments. I’ll be in touch,” Cliff says, and then the line goes dead.

Immediately Trevor sticks the phone back on the nightstand, but it does nothing to put that call any further away from him. The only thing he knows for certain is that sleep is no longer even a possibility.


Alex’s question, spurred by innocent curiosity though it might be, strikes panic into Jason. Not only has he been keeping his relationship with Courtney from his friend--he also has yet to mention that he interviewed Seth for a job and is strongly considering hiring him.

“Jason. What’s going on?” Alex repeats.

“Nothing. Why do you think something’s going on?”

“Because you’re acting weird?”

Maybe Alex knows. He has to know. He must have found out somehow, and this is his way of pressuring Jason into coming clean.

“You’ve been acting weird all the time lately. If something isn’t going on, then I’m worried about you.”

Alex stares him down, his gaze unflinching, like a dare for Jason to try and come up with a cover story that will actually work.

Jason knows that he cannot do it. So he blurts out the truth:

“Courtney was here.”

“What? Why would--” Realization comes to Alex. “Ohhh.”

“Yeah. We don’t… we’re not sure about telling people yet.”

“You can tell me,” Alex says, backing off. “You can tell me anything. God knows you listen to enough of my drama.”

“I’m happy to listen. This is different. I don’t even know what to say about my drama. Or if it is drama.”

“If you’re having sex and feeling the need to hide it from people, it’s drama.”

“Point taken.”

Alex settles onto the couch. “So it happened that one time at the office and has been going on since then?”

“Yeah. All the time. We said we weren’t going to come here if you were home, but one thing sort of lead to another tonight…”

“At least you guys were quiet.”

“Thanks. I think.” Jason tries to slow his breathing. It really does feel good to get this out and discuss it with someone, especially someone he trusts as much as Alex. Keeping it all in this little bubble with just himself and Courtney has started to feel suffocating.

“So, what, you guys aren’t sure if you want to get back together?” Alex asks.

“We haven’t really talked about it. We’ve started to, and then… other things happen.”

“You think maybe you’re avoiding talking about it by having constant sex?”

Another good point. “Very possible. It’s like, why should it be an issue? We’re already good friends, we know our families like each other… it should be a no-brainer to get back together.”

“But it’s not.”


Alex considers that for a long moment. “Maybe because of how it ended last time.”

“We’re past that,” Jason says, not even wanting to go there. It still hurts to think of how angry Courtney was when she found out that he had been keeping Alex’s secret--and concealing that Alex had made a move on him. He knows what his reasons were for not telling her, but that didn’t make it any easier when she found out.

“You get along again. You’ve forgiven each other for what happened. But it doesn’t mean you’ve forgotten it.”

“I don’t think any of us are ever going to forget that debacle.”

“Maybe you shouldn’t.” Seeing Jason’s confusion, Alex leans forward. “I love Courtney, you know that. And I want both of you to be happy. But the way things ended last time… What if it happens again? What happens when you make a personal decision and she doesn’t agree with it?”

“You make it sound like she was the bad guy,” Jason says. “Maybe she did overreact, but I did lie to her about some pretty heavy stuff, too.”

“I’m not disagreeing. But maybe you’re protecting yourself from that happening again.”

It makes perfect sense. Getting back together with Courtney means putting himself in that position again--being on the receiving end of her temper when she doesn’t agree with him. He doesn’t know that he can handle another breakup as ugly as the last one they had.

“You’re a genius,” he tells Alex.

“Oh, I’m brilliant when it comes to picking apart other people’s lives. Too bad I can’t do the same for myself.”

Just like that, the guilt hits Jason again. Here is Alex, taking the time to help him work through this, and yet Jason is still keeping something huge from him. Something that could affect Alex significantly.

“What?” Alex asks.

For a second, Jason worries that he muttered something aloud, but he realizes that Alex has been watching him, awaiting a response, and can tell that something is on his mind.

He starts to form the words. I interviewed Seth. I’m thinking of hiring Seth. Seth is the most competent person who’s applied for this job. Would you kill me if I hired Seth?

Not tonight. He can’t do it tonight.

“Nothing,” Jason says, forcing a smile.


How will Alex react to Jason’s other news?
Should Jason risk it again with Courtney?
Will Trevor cave to Cliff’s pressure?
What should Sarah do next?
Come talk about it in the Footprints Forum!

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