Episode #468

- Courtney and Jason continued to sleep together. Jason confessed their secret relationship to Alex, who wondered if Jason’s desire to keep it a secret sprang from a fear of being hurt by Courtney again.
- Josh attempted to get Lauren to forgive him, but she resisted once again.
- Travis skipped his first therapy appointment to hang out with his friends. This only deepened the rift between him and his parents.
- Diane ended her relationship with Tim.


This time, she can’t ignore it.

She tried. She told herself that it must have been something she ate--though there isn’t much that she has eaten for five days straight. She wondered if she might be coming down with that bug that everyone has been getting lately. Normally she wouldn’t hope for such a thing, but this is different.

There is no ignoring it now. The seesawing in her stomach grows wilder, more erratic, like a weak ship being tossed around by brutal waves.

The thought of being on a ship only makes it worse.

Hand over her mouth, she makes a break for the bathroom. The hallway is dark, and though she shoots out a hand for a light, she pulls it back without even trying the switch. She knows it will not work, the way none of them work right now. She careens through the darkness and into the bathroom.

She doesn’t even have time to drop to her knees. Bending in half over the toilet, her stomach empties itself in heaves. The feeling is both excruciating and an enormous relief all at once.

When she finally feels settled, or as settled as she is going to feel, she raises her head. There is no denying it. The nausea that she tried to blame on illness or bad food. The bloating that seemed like a byproduct of fewer trips to the gym. The period that she has been telling herself would come any day now.

Pregnant. There’s no denying it.

An Hour Earlier…


Jason Fisher rushes to answer the knocks at his door. He is not expecting anyone, so he is overly conscious about his wild hair and sweatpants… until he sees that it is Courtney Chase at the door.

“I need to talk to you,” she says, foregoing greetings entirely. She barrels into the apartment, leaving Jason with no doubt that she means business.

The only response he can manage is a stunned little “Okay.” He closes the door against the chilly autumn night.

“The other night--neither of us could come up with a good reason for this to stay the way it is,” Courtney says. “Because there isn’t a good reason.”

She seems very certain about where she wants this to go. All Jason can do is stand there and nod, his arms folded.

“I mean, this is obviously what we both want, right?”

Jason wants to agree, but Alex’s words from the other night come back to him: 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? Maybe you’re protecting yourself from that happening again.

He must be wearing that doubt all over his face, because Courtney seems to see what is going through his head.

“That is what we both want, isn’t it?” she asks.

“You know I’ve been enjoying this,” he says, careful with each syllable that moves past his lips.

“That’s not an answer. Jason, what aren’t you telling me?”


Salacious. What the hell does that even mean?”

Diane Bishop cuts out of the conference room like a woman on a mission, though Brian Hamilton, who follows close behind, is pretty sure that Diane does not know what that mission is. They lingered behind at the conference table for several minutes after the meeting concluded and their associates left, but when their brainstorms led nowhere fruitful, Diane sprang out of her seat and bolted from the room. Now Brian hurries to keep up with her.

“I’ll tell you what it means,” she says, answering her own question. “It means the stuff I’ve been bringing is obvious. Boring.”

“That’s not what it means,” Brian counters. “This is just another direction they want to go. Memoirs are huge right now. People are addicted to tabloids. It’s in the air.”

“God. You sound like one of them.”

Brian knows that there is no way to defend himself against that charge, so he shuts up. It is not often that he sees Diane this out-of-control at work. Usually she is the one giving the orders and getting things done. Sitting in that room, hearing and seeing her receive something very close to a dressing-down from her superiors, threw Brian a bit off-kilter. Now he has no idea what to say to reassure her.

He opts for a warning. “Keep your voice down.”

“They’re all gone,” Diane says, waving her hand. “It’s almost seven o’clock. Everyone sprinted straight from that meeting to their cars.”

Looking around the office, Brian cannot help but agree. The place is like a ghost town.

Salacious,” Diane scoffs. “Jesus.”

Diane hits the button for the elevator. Brian moves to readjust the various items in his hands--folders, pens, Blackberry, manuscript--and succeeds only in dropping a folder and several pens on the floor.

“What am I supposed to do? Find someone to write an expose on how Marilyn Monroe had an affair with a horse?” Diane continues ranting.

Brian scrambles to pick up his things. “Maybe we can have someone make up that story.”

“God forbid we just publish good fiction, right?”

When Brian rises, scattered items in his hands, he sees the elevator doors closing--and Diane on the other side of them, not even paying attention.

“Hey! Hold that!” he cries out.

It takes her a split-second to notice what is going on and react, and the doors close on her. A moment later, they begin to part again--

And then everything goes dark.

“What the hell?” Diane says from inside the elevator.

Brian can see her, barely, through the tiny opening between the doors. There are no lights anywhere--not overhead, not on people’s desks, and certainly not in the elevator. He looks out the wall of windows to his left and sees no lights in any of the other buildings, either.

“It’s a blackout,” he says.

“Great. Because this is what I need right now,” Diane says before groaning loudly and slamming her hand against the elevator door.


Josh Taylor thinks about putting on a shirt to answer the door but decides against it. Might as well give whoever it is a little show, he figures. And when he opens the door, he is grateful for his decision.

Lauren Brooks stands before him, mouth open but no words coming forth.

“Hello to you, too,” Josh says after far too long a moment of silence. He can feel his heart rate accelerating and his stomach wobbling, despite his internal warnings for them to keep cool. What is she doing here?

“I needed to see you,” Lauren says at last. “Can I come in?”

“Depends on if you’re gonna be nice this time.”

“I’ll try.”

Josh steps aside and lets her in. He shuts the door, closing out the icy air. He is about to reconsider his decision to stay shirtless when he notices Lauren looking him over, almost guiltily. No, his instincts were right.

“I’ve been thinking,” she says, sounding so pained that someone might be twisting a knife into her back, forcing her to say this, “about everything that’s happened lately. About us.”

He knows that he should bite his tongue, but he can’t help himself. “So you decide it’s time to change your mind, and I’m supposed to roll over and be ready to play along?”

“No.” She shrinks away, embarrassed. “I stand by what I said before. Going behind my back the way you did, it was disrespectful and stupid, and I shouldn’t have to put up with it.”

“Doesn’t sound like this is going anyplace good.”

She struggles to articulate whatever is she came here to say. “But I’ve been thinking about you. A lot. You were right on Halloween--what we had was good. Really good.”

“You’re giving me another chance?” he asks.

“I’d like to. But you have to promise me: no more lying. No more going behind my back. We can disagree, but disagreeing means we’re actually upfront about things.”

His first instinct is to shout out in agreement. Of course he can do that! Anything to be with her. But before he can answer, the whole house goes black. Dead.

“Shit,” Josh mutters, poking his head into the kitchen. As he suspected: power’s out all over.

“It looks like it’s out all over the neighborhood,” Lauren says, checking out the window.

Josh thinks for a second about the flashlight he keeps in one of the kitchen cupboards and then decides that he has more important things to worry about.

“We can work with this,” he says, pressing his body against Lauren’s.


“We’re cool, right? I don’t go behind your back, you don’t get mad at me for going behind your back, everything’s fine.”

“Yeah.” Her shoulders scrunch up as soon as he touches her.

“Relax,” he says, lips close to her ear. She does, and Josh is even more grateful for the decision not to put on a shirt: it’ll save him a second here, and that’s a second that he doesn’t think he could wait.


All at once, the light disappears. The streetlights that line the park’s paths and illuminate the activity areas--the ground lights that shine up on the signs--all dead, just like that. Travis Fisher gazes around the half-pipe area where he and Landon have been skateboarding.

“Blackout,” he says, marveling at the sudden purity of the dark.

“Yeah, I noticed,” Landon says. He picks up his skateboard and joins Travis in looking around. “Weird, dude.”

“I wonder what happened.” Travis’s mind goes to all the potential causes of the outage, and he can’t help but flash back to that day at his grandfather’s restaurant. He remembers the chaos of being trapped in that basement, the overwhelming burst of light and noise during the explosion--and suddenly he is very grateful for the calm darkness all around him.

Landon shrugs. “It’s kinda cool.”

“Yeah.” Travis lays down his skateboard and is about to tackle another trick in the dark when a voice cuts through to them.

“Hello? Excuse me!” it calls out. It is young and female--definitely enough to get his attention.

“Sorry,” the voice says. Travis can make out a shadowy figure coming toward them. “I was waiting for a bus, but I wondering if you guys knew anything about the schedule…”

“Do buses even work when the power goes out?” Landon asks.

“Oh my God, you’re an idiot,” Travis says, shaking his head as the girl comes into view. The night reveals her piece by piece: brown hair with the slightest hint of red; very cute face; definitely a body he can appreciate. Score for blackouts.

“I’m trying to get to…” She pulls out a printed Mapquest page. “Randall Street and 124th Avenue.”

“My aunt and uncle live right around there,” Travis says.

“Do you have any idea which bus goes there?” the girl asks. “I can’t figure this schedule out.”

Travis shrugs. He has no clue. He looks to Landon, hoping that for once he’ll have something useful to contribute, but Landon looks just as clueless.

“I’ve never really taken the bus here,” Travis says.

“Oh.” The girl falls quiet, then offers a quick smile. “Thanks anyway.”

“We’d give you a ride, but…” He feels like a loser admitting it, but he has already gone far enough that he needs to finish the sentence. “We don’t have a car.”

She laughs. There is something instantly infectious about it. The sweetest sound Travis has ever heard. She buries her face in her pink scarf.

“Maybe it’s better I don’t get in the car with strangers, anyway,” she says.

“Guess so.” Travis sinks his hands into his pockets, unsure what to say now. He doesn’t want her to walk away.

“We’re not serial killers or anything,” Landon offers helpfully.

“Well, that’s good to know. Thanks anyway, guys.”

The girl returns to the bus stop on the sidewalk, poring over the multicolored bus schedule and her Mapquest directions. It’s a good thing that it is pitch black out, because that means it is too dark to stare--or, at least, for her to notice Travis staring.

“Dude, come on!” Landon says, dropping his board onto the half-pipe. He gives Travis a playful shove before taking off through the darkness.

Telling himself that he’ll never see her again, Travis peels his eyes away from the shadow at the bus stop and rejoins his friend.


“Here, put this on the table,” Jason says, handing Courtney a freshly lit candle. “Be careful.”

The bead of light on the candle’s wick burns through the darkness, illuminating Courtney in a distinctly eerie way as she maneuvers it onto the coffee table.

“Okay, enough stalling,” she says as soon as the candle is out of her hands.

Jason’s thumb pushes down on the lighter that he is holding, and he focuses very hard on lighting the other candle in front of him.

“I’m not stalling. I didn’t make the lights go out.”

“You got lucky.”

Courtney stares at him, a stare so intense that not even the darkness can lessen its strength. Jason’s finger slips off the lighter before the flame touches the wick.

“Dammit,” he mutters, and he tries again.

“Jason. We’re talking.” She takes the lighter from him. “What’s with all the hesitating? Do you or do you not want to do this?”

He doesn’t know how to answer that, and in the absence of any further power outages or candles to light, he is stuck sitting there like an idiot. Like an asshole.

“I don’t know what to make of all this,” he admits.

“So… you want it to just be sex.”

“That’s not what I said.”

“That’s sort of the implication.”

He hates seeing her this way. In this moment, he wants nothing more than to reach out and touch her, hold her, let her know that he does want to be with her. But will it always be like this? Can he put himself through things falling apart all over again?

“This is ridiculous,” she says, tossing the lighter onto the table.

“Courtney. Hang on.”

“For what? So you can get what you want out of me and then send me on my way? No thanks.”

She opens the door. Jason is stunned by how black it is outside--no lights, no texture, just darkness.

“Where are you going?” he asks.


“You can’t drive right now.”

“I’ll manage.” She slams the door behind her.

Jason stands up to chase her, but he pauses where he stands. What can he say, short of telling her exactly what she wants to hear? He isn’t sure that he is ready to say that yet, or if he ever will be. And if she reacts this way to not getting what she wants…

He drops back down to the couch, wishing he had something to keep him company besides blank space and room to think.


Brian stands just outside the stalled elevator, its doors jammed with no more than three inches of space between them. On the other side of the opening, trapped inside the elevator, is Diane.

“What do they mean, they can’t do anything until the power comes back on? Can’t they come and pry these things open?” she asks.

Brian puts away his cell phone. “You’re not going to die in there. Calm down.”

He finds the dark, despite the circumstances, soothing. The lack of noise and light and activity around them is a welcome change from the wild clamor of the workday. And it is so rare that he gets to be around Diane in such a subdued setting.

“Remember the last time we got stuck in there?” he says.

“Yeah. You were ready to force yourself on me!”

“Please.” The memory absorbs Brian. It was back when Diane and Tim were still solidifying their relationship, and Brian was sure that he still had a shot with Diane. But no matter how hard he tried, she would not admit how much she had enjoyed that one night they spent together the summer before--though he could see it in her before they were rescued from the elevator.

“You can deny it all you want,” he says, “but I know you were into me at least once. I bet it would’ve been more if Tim hadn’t waltzed back into the picture.”

“Let’s not go crazy here. You made a move and you got shot down. End of story. It’s really pathetic to keep trying.”

Brian hangs on that for a moment and then says, “You know what? It is pathetic.”


“I might as well go,” he says, “since my presence is clearly so irritating to you.” He knows that it is childish, but he cannot help himself. If this is the type of game Diane wants to play, it is the type of game she will get.

He slides in front of the elevator doors’ opening and waves. “See you later.”

He makes it only a few steps when Diane bites.

“Wait! Brian, cut it out..”

He does not move. “Why? I’m not the one stuck in there. I could go home, relax…”

“Stop it.” Diane’s conflict is palpable; Brian can somehow feel it pulsating around them, prodding at her, until she spits out, “I want you to stay.”

Savoring the moment, he slowly returns to the elevator doors. “You’re sure I’m not going to make you too uncomfortable?”

“No. Okay? I want the company.”

Brian sets his back against one of the elevator’s doors and looks across the totally dark office. He wishes that he could be smoother about this, but when he is alone with her, there is nothing he can do to suppress it.

“Would it kill you to at least admit that you had fun?” he asks. “That one night we spent together--it was fun.”

With a groan, Diane caves. “Yes. It was fun, okay?”

Brian is about to revel in that when she adds, “Fun. That’s it. Then it was over.”

The frustration inside him, which was shrinking by the minute, now expands to fill his entire chest. Why does she have to be so damn stubborn? Why does he even care?

“Do you know what I was thinking when we were trapped in that restaurant, about to die?” he blurts out. “I was thinking that I’d had a good life… good career, good family… but my one regret was that this never worked out. You and me.”

He hears the sharp intake of breath on the other side of the doors and wonders if he has finally gotten through to her.

“That’s it,” she says, sounding dazed.

“What?” Brian has to turn and peer through the opening to see her.

“That’s our salacious story,” she says, buzzing around the empty elevator. “We get Ryan Moriani to write about the whole thing. It’s been all over the news. It’ll be huge!”


The blackout is all but forgotten in Josh’s bedroom, where he and Lauren are tangled up in the sheets. Josh’s mouth barely breaks from hers as he removes her shirt.

“So you’re done--” He breathes words between kisses. “--holding stupid shit over--” Another pause. “--my head?”

“As long as you stop doing this alleged stupid shit,” Lauren says, managing a smile up at him.

He hesitates over her. “I just want to make sure we’re really cool.”

“We’re fine. Clean start.” She reaches a hand behind his neck to pull him back, but he resists. “Come on!”

He makes her hang for a moment. “You want more? I’ll give you more!” he says before diving back in.

His fingers unhook her bra with expert skill, and he makes a show of flinging it all the way across the room. Lauren tracks it to a spot near the bedroom door before refocusing on Josh. Which isn’t hard to do, considering how his hands are all over her.

And then it all comes screeching to a halt.

Lauren feels it, and she is sure that Josh has felt it, based on the way that he pauses. Something… a bump? Something weird, something she has never noticed before. Not that she spends that much time feeling her own breasts, but still.

She can feel Josh’s eyes on her, but she will not meet them. She would rather not acknowledge whatever that was. It was nothing.

Taking the cue, Josh’s hands move to the button on her jeans. They get as far as the zipper when she pulls away.

“I can’t do this.”

“What?” He finishes unzipping her pants. “Come on.”

“This was a mistake.” She doesn’t even know why she is saying it, but this is too weird. “Maybe I’m not ready to forgive and forget.”


But she is out of the bed, bounding across the room to grab her bra. She pulls her clothes over her as quickly as possible.

“I’m really sorry,” she says as she flees from the room.


“It’s brilliant,” Diane says. “Everyone’s curious about what really happened. This guy killed his own father--or he tried to--and he framed his own brother. It’s perfect!”

Brian slumps against the outside of the elevator door, as he has been doing for the last several minutes while Diane prattles on and on about her idea. He knows how she is when she gets like this: she has to articulate the idea and work it out on her own, and there is no point trying to derail or redirect her.

“Why would he agree to do it?” Brian asks. It is a well practiced part of the routine--he asks just the right question, and it gives her the opportunity to work out potential kinks.

“Because he wants to clear the air. He’s been painted as the bad guy. This is his chance to tell his side of the story,” Diane says, without missing a beat. “And he needs the money.”

Brian cannot argue with any of that. Still, he wishes that she hadn’t been hit by inspiration now, just when they were getting into something serious--something that he has wanted to get into for months and months.

He is thinking of ways to try to steer her back to his preferred topic when it happens.

The lights come back to life. No flickering, no buzzing. They just come back on, like they were never gone.

“Thank God!” Diane exclaims, excitedly hitting a button inside the elevator. The doors open, and as she steps out, Brian knows that he has once again lost his chance to get her to talk.


As she grips the steering wheel hard, Lauren sees the streetlights and traffic signals lighting up the night around her. It looks like the world is waking up, and she hopes that she will wake up, too. Maybe this has all been a dream, a very bizarre dream that has twisted and turned in ways that she could never have foreseen. Maybe when she wakes up, that thing--whatever it was--will be gone, a figment of her nightmare.

But the lights come on, and nothing changes. The world looks the same, only brighter. She feels the same, embarrassed and confused by what just happened with Josh. She holds tightly onto the steering wheel as she guides herself home.


Josh finds an open spot at the bar and settles in. 322 is moderately busy, surprising considering the night’s power outage. The noise and activity around him are a welcome distraction to Josh, who wants anything but to be alone in his own house right now.

Fucking Lauren, jerking him around this way. What kind of game is she playing? He doesn’t know, but he is sure of something else: no more. He doesn’t have to deal with this shit. Her loss.

He orders a beer and takes in the crowd around him. It doesn’t take long for him to find a prospect. A few minutes of flickering eye contact later, she is at his side, ordering another drink. He appraises her up close, not even bothering to conceal his intentions, and decides that she’ll do nicely.

“Let me get that for you,” he says, and by the way she looks at him, he can tell that he’s got her. He extends a hand. “Josh.”

“Nice to meet you, Josh,” the blonde says. “I’m Sabrina.”


Travis knows that he shouldn’t push it. His dad barely agreed to let him leave the house tonight. Now it’s getting late, and he should get back to his grandparents’, but he would rather not face any of them. So he and Landon wander the streets, watching the city light back up.

“That was kinda cool while it lasted,” Landon says, maybe trying to get a conversation going. Travis doesn’t mind the silence.

“Yeah. Dammit, if one of us had a car, we could’ve given that girl a ride.”

“Come off it, dude. She wasn’t gonna get in the car with two random guys anyway.”

“Guess not,” Travis says, but that was their only chance of getting to know her a little better, and he can’t let go of the possibility yet.

Landon looks at him like he’s insane. “Travis. There’s lots of other girls.”

“I know.” He does know that. He doesn’t know why he even cares about this one. He met a hot girl, she went away, the end. So why’s he still thinking about her?

Not that it matters. He won’t ever see her again, anyway. Trying to put it out of his head, he drops his skateboard onto the sidewalk and hops on.


Danielle Taylor is in her bathrobe when the doorbell rings. Brent and Molly went to bed not too long ago, and she hopes that the noise doesn’t wake them. Same with the twins, though they crashed hard once the lights came on, after running around like lunatics the whole time that the power was out.

Holding her bathrobe closed with one hand, Danielle opens the door… and then she has no idea what to say.

“Surprise!” exclaims the young girl on the porch.

“Elly? What are you doing here?”

“I had to come see you,” Elly says, and Danielle notices something much less cheerful about her. Something troubled. Her senses on alert, Danielle steps aside to let her  teenaged goddaughter in.

“Is everything all right?” Danielle asks.

“I don’t know. I had to get away from home,” Elly says as she removes her pink scarf.


She is still staring in the mirror when the lights come back on. The taste of vomit lingers in her mouth, and she reaches for her toothbrush. She knows that brushing it away will not change the situation, but she has to try.

This is supposed to happen in the mornings, right? So if it’s happening at night, maybe it’s not… what she thinks it is.

But as she looks her reflection in the eye, she knows that she is lying to herself. It isn’t working. Maybe if things had gone differently tonight, she would not be so desperate to believe anything but the truth.

But Jason doesn’t even want a relationship with her--so he surely will not want any part of this.

Courtney finishes brushing her teeth, but she can’t take her eyes off her reflection. She wonders if she looks different yet. If it’s somehow visible on the outside. She doesn’t see anything… yet. She wonders how long it will be until she starts to look pregnant.

She pries her stare away from the mirror and turns off the bathroom light, this time by choice.


What will Courtney do about her pregnancy?
What is going on with Lauren?
Will Travis have another chance to see Elly?
Should Brian continue pursuing Diane?
Come discuss this episode in the Footprints Forum!

Next Episode