Episode #480

- Brian told Sarah that he and Diane slept together. Sarah made him realize that trying to romance Diane was the worst course of action.
- Jason and Courtney told their families about her pregnancy. Paula in particular voiced concerns over whether they are ready to be parents.
- Lauren informed her family that she scheduled a biopsy for the lump in her breast.


The Pacific Northwest rain falls steadily but lazily, from the sky, as if fulfilling an obligation about which it is not very excited. Brian Hamilton dashes from his car to Diane Bishop’s front door, not bothering with an umbrella. The constant downpour is such a part of life here that it is easy to go without noticing it, and besides, Brian is focused hard on his goal.

As he waits for Diane to answer the door, Sarah Gray’s words replay themselves in his head: “Nice? Diane? Does that sound like a combination that makes any sense at all?”

When she does answer, dressed casually in jeans and a sweater, Brian mutters a faint greeting and hands her the plastic bag of folders and pages that he brought with him.

“Thanks,” Diane says. “I couldn’t face going into the office today.”

“This should be everything you need,” he says, already turning away and ready to go.

“I can’t deal with talking about this Ryan Moriani thing until I have something concrete to tell people. The questions are getting really irritating.”

“I bet.”

She focuses harder on him. “What’s going on with you?”

“Oh, nothing. I’m fine,” he says casually.

“You seem weird.”

“I’m fine. The rain’s gross. I need to get to the office.”

He can tell that it is working. His disinterest, his lack of eagerness to be around her--it’s working like a charm. He should have realized this earlier. If there is one thing that might drive Diane Bishop insane, it’s not being the center of attention.

“You wanna come in? Have a cup of coffee or something,” she says.

“I don’t know…”

“Shut up. Come in.” She grabs his wrist and pulls him inside.

Brian stands by the counter while Diane pours him a cup of coffee and refills her own. She takes a seat at the dining room table, where her laptop and a slew of work-related papers are spread out.

“You would not believe how sanctimonious Ryan was about turning me down,” she says. “Like that family is ever going to want anything to do with him again. Who does he think he is, acting like he’s superior to me?”

Now Brian pulls out the big gun, the thing that he is sure will set her off: “The guy’s trying to get his life back on track and you’re offering him money to tell the whole story is as much sordid detail as possible? Not really sure you’re on the moral high ground there.”

“Don’t be ridiculous.” She dismisses him with a wave of her hand but continues watching him, and when his expression does not change, she persists. “You’re serious?”

Brian shrugs. Play it cool.

And then Diane is out of her seat, and her hand grabs at the front of his shirt. “Okay, there is something we need to do right now.”

He can barely conceal his excitement. It’s working!


With her family behind her, Lauren Brooks crosses the hospital’s lobby and moves toward the elevator bay. She leads the way, wanting more than anything to get this over with. She could try to avoid it, but this biopsy has to happen; the sooner it is done, the sooner she will have some idea of how her future will look.

As they wait for an elevator, she looks at her mother, father, and Trevor, and she is grateful all over again to have them here with her. She has had to expend so much energy at work pretending that everything is fine. She plans to use a few of her sick days and hopes that no one at Willis will be the wiser.

“Just need to get this over and done with,” Roz says, running a hand over Lauren’s hair. “Then you can put all this ugliness behind you.”

Lauren nods. She wants to believe that will be the case.

“Your mom and I are planning on sticking around for as long as necessary,” Patrick adds. “I know we’ve been gone a lot lately, but if you need us, we’ll be here.”

“Thanks.” Lauren forces herself to shut her mouth. Now is not the time for an outburst. What she wants to tell them is that this is exactly what she doesn’t want--everyone turning their lives upside-down, regarding her as “the sick one.” They don’t even know yet that anything is actually wrong, but her parents’ attempts to reassure her that everything will be okay, but just in case, they’ll be here, are giving her whiplash.

Trevor opts for silence and instead places a comforting hand on Lauren’s shoulder. She is thankful that he does not try to offer some guarantee that things will be fine, even though none of them have any way of knowing that.

An elevator opens, and they move toward it as a unit. Lauren stops dead in her tracks when she spots a familiar face: Josh’s brother, Brent.

The eye contact is too direct, and she has met him too many times, for her to avoid an encounter.

“Hey,” she says, and when he returns the greeting, she scrambles to add, “How are you?”

“Just finished some physical therapy.” He takes in the sight of the entire Brooks family and then focuses on Lauren again. “How about you? Is everything all right?”


“You always do this.”

“Are you really complaining about having too much food?” Tim Fisher questions his brother as they survey the mass quantities of Chinese take-out spread out on the coffee table.

“Not complaining,” Jason says. “Just commenting on.”

They help themselves to the food. On the television, one of the college football season’s final bowl games plays; it is not a game either of them is particularly excited about, but it seemed as good an excuse as any for a brotherly get-together.

“Travis will eat a bunch of it whenever he gets home,” Tim says.

“Is he doing better? On Christmas, he seemed a little… less hostile.”

Tim’s weariness is evident. “You just missed his tirade of the day. He freaked out that Claire and I were talking and took it to mean we were going to get back together and ruin his life by breaking up. Something like that.”

Unsure whether a chuckle is appropriate, Jason stifles the one waiting in his chest. “Were we that all-over-the-place when we were his age?”

“Probably. Although, neither of us had to deal with half the crap he’s had to, so maybe not.”

“I don’t know how you do it.”

Tim looks up from his food. “Do what?”

“Deal with him and Samantha and stay reasonably sane. I’m already freaking out.”

“Don’t. It’s not worth the energy.”

“Yeah, having a kid, totally not worth worrying about,” Jason says sarcastically.

“That’s not what I mean,” Tim says, pausing to take a bite of his Kung Pao chicken. “There’s just no way to anticipate what’s going to go wrong or be difficult. All you can do is treat your kids with respect, always look out for their best interests… everything else, you sort of have to be ready to respond to what comes up.”

“That’s reassuring. So, basically, I have to be on my toes for the next… rest of my life.”


Jason is not sure whether he should share his concerns with anyone, especially after the way that his mother implied that he and Courtney might not be ready to be parents. But if there is anyone he can confide in, it is Tim, and he cannot keep this to himself forever.

“I’m just worried I won’t know what to do,” he says. “Like, is there some instinct that kicks in? You’re a great dad. Is it because of something you’ve tried to do, or is it just how you are? What if I’m not that way?”

“Hold it a second.” Tim sets down his plate so that he can use his fingers to count. “I had a kid with my boss while I was married to my other kid’s mother… I missed years of both my kids’ lives… I was a suspect in two murders… and I still live with my parents. And you consider me a good parent? Seems like that shouldn’t be a tough bar to reach.”

Jason allows himself to laugh, grateful for the self-deprecating way in which Tim recounts his various problems.

“You’re a great dad,” Jason says, knowing that, underneath the humor, Tim is probably very insecure about what kind of father he has been to Travis and Samantha. “A lot of that stuff was totally out of your control, but you dealt with it all. This stuff going on with Travis is because of circumstances out of your control--not because of the way you’ve handled them.”

He can see Tim’s skepticism, and though it pains him to see his brother plagued by guilt over what kind of father he has been, Jason also finds it strangely reassuring. It is plain to him--and, he thinks, to anyone else who observes Tim with his kids--that he is an excellent father. And if even such good parents have doubts about their abilities, maybe there is hope for Jason, with all his doubts and fears.

“Thanks,” Tim responds, helping himself to more Chinese food. “You’re going to be great, too. The fact that you’re even worried about it says a lot.”

“I hope so.”

They settle in to enjoy their food and watch the game, and, at least for tonight, Jason’s heart is a little less heavy with terror over his chances as a father.


Brian should have thought of this earlier. All it took was some feigned disinterest and a little bit of criticism, and Diane is hotter for him than she has ever been.

“What’s that?” he asks, relishing the way that she is pulling his shirt tight, pulling him closer to her.

Diane parts her lips to speak, but instead, Brian hears Samantha’s voice.

“Mom, I think my DVD player is broken!”

Diane and Brian break apart. Diane’s daughter appears at the entry to the hallway, oblivious to what was just going on.

“Hi, Samantha,” Brian gulps, trying to calm his breathing. “I didn’t know you were home.”

“Winter break doesn’t end until next Monday,” she says. Then she turns back to her mother. “My Sailor Moon DVDs won’t play.”

“Did you try any other ones?” Diane asks.

“Yeah, and nothing works.”

Diane starts down the hallway. “Let me take a look at it.”

“Maybe I can help,” Brian offers. The words escape his mouth before he even knows he is thinking them. He mentally scolds himself for letting Mr. Nice Guy slip out, but maybe Diane will overlook this one instance.

Samantha dashes back to her room, and Brian pulls Diane back for a second.

“I didn’t realize she was home,” he says quietly. “Were you just going to…” He widens his eyes, hoping that will complete the thought for him.

“Brainstorm about Ryan?”


“I know he’s her uncle, but I don’t think Samantha has any idea what I’m doing with this memoir thing,” Diane says. “After we fix this thing, we’ll sit down and hash out a new approach to winning Ryan over.”

“That’s what you wanted me for?” he asks.

“Yeah. You’re the only person I know who inspires my evil genius.”

“Gee, thanks.”

Just like that, casual as can be, Diane takes off down the hall. Brian follows, wondering how he could have misread the situation so badly but grateful that Samantha interrupted before he made even more of an idiot of himself.


This is just what Lauren does not need: Josh receiving a report from his brother that he ran into her at the hospital, with her whole family in tow like something important was going on.

“Everything’s fine,” she says, trying to keep her cool. Thinking on her feet, she quickly adds, “You’ve met my brother. He has to have this annoying thing removed, so we all tagged along for moral support.”

Thankfully, Trevor falls into step with her. “God forbid any of us did anything alone.”

Brent smiles. “Good luck with that.”

“Thanks,” Trevor says.

“Oh, uh, Brent,” Lauren says, “these are our parents, Patrick and Rosalyn. Mom, Dad, this is Brent--he’s married to Jason’s sister, Molly.”

They all exchange greetings and handshakes. Lauren attempts to keep her breathing even and act as normal as possible, even though all she wants to do is scream like a lunatic. There is only so much holding-it-together that someone can do on a day like this.

“I should get going,” Brent says. “Molly’s coming to pick me up. Good seeing you guys.”

He heads in the direction of the hospital’s front doors, and Lauren herds her family into the open elevator.

“I don’t think it was necessary to lie about Trevor having a procedure,” Patrick says.

“No, Dad. It was. That was Josh’s brother.”

“It’s fine,” Trevor interjects. “I don’t mind.”

The elevator doors close, sealing the four of them in there together. The sting of her lie burns on Lauren’s cheeks and deep in her stomach. It was a foolish, impulsive thing to do--harmless enough, but so blatantly dishonest.

“I don’t see why this Josh boy can’t know about all this,” Roz declares. “If you and he were really as hot and heavy as it sounds like you were--”

“Can we not say ‘hot and heavy?’” Trevor cuts in.

Roz scowls at him. “Point is, you shouldn’t have to lie about something so serious because of some boy.”

“That’s why I had to lie,” Lauren says. “Because he is a boy, and he’s never going to grow up, and I don’t need that in my life. I don’t need Josh feeling bad and hanging around me out of some sense of obligation.”

The justification sounds stupid even to Lauren, and she cannot bring herself to look up and see her family’s various forms of disapproval. But as she remembers the awkwardness of that evening in the blackout, when Josh’s hand grazed over the lump in her breast, she knows that she had to do this. In that single moment, she saw the months and years ahead of them: Josh trying to be a stand-up guy, then getting stuck by her side as she grew sicker and sicker and he grew more and more detached. That is not what she wants.

“This has nothing to do with Josh,” she says as they arrive at their floor. “I have you guys here with me, and that’s all I need.”

Wanting desperately to believe that, she steps off the elevator, and her family follows.


Will Josh learn the truth about Lauren?
Is Diane messing with Brian’s head?
Will Jason be the type of parent he hopes to be?
Come on over to the Footprints Forum to discuss!

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