Episode #481

- Danielle found a drunk and passed-out Ryan in the park. She brought him back to Brent and Molly’s house to sleep it off, much to their displeasure.
- Paula learned from Claire that Ryan was being forced to move out of his loft. She continued to hide that she had gone to see her son on Thanksgiving.
- Lauren’s family accompanied her to the hospital for her biopsy. They ran into Brent, and Lauren lied to him that Trevor was the one having a minor procedure.


Dishes, bowls, and glasses are spread over the dining room carpet. Paula Fisher and Molly Taylor kneel in front of the long, oak breakfront in which the Fishers have always stored their dishes. For the first time that Molly can ever remember, the cabinets are completely empty.

“Thank you for helping me with this,” Paula says. “I know it’s a fairly thankless job, but I’ve meant to get to it for so long.”

“I’m glad to help.” Molly picks up a small stack of dessert plates with a modern, red-and-black print on them. “I didn’t even know you had these.”

“I’d forgotten about them, too. They were a gift from a few years back.” She considers the plates with Molly for another moment and then turns her attention back to the collection as a whole. “I had no idea we’d accumulated so many things. It’s a little embarrassing.”

“That’s why we’re cleaning out,” Molly says.

Paula regards three teacups and saucers. Molly remembers the set from when she was much younger, but it has not been used in years. Even the sight of that familiar, almost-forgotten print fills her with nostalgia for her youth.

“I feel bad throwing these away,” Paula says. “I used to love them. But over half the set is missing now…”

Molly slides over the cardboard box that they are using for disposal. “Put ‘em in here. We have to take a stand.”

Agreeing, Paula packs the cups and saucers into the box. Molly feels a twinge of guilt at seeing them retired, but nostalgia is no reason to keep odds and ends around for years.

“Mom, there’s something I’ve wanted to talk to you about,” she says suddenly. The thought has been bubbling inside her since she arrived today--since it happened, actually--and something about this moment compels her to spit it out.

“What is it?” Paula asks.

For some reason that she cannot figure out, Molly lowers her voice. “It’s about Ryan.”

Paula’s shoulders snap backward, and her spine straightens into an awkward, forced posture.

“He was at our house the other day,” Molly says.

“He came to see you?”

“Not exactly.” Molly did not want to begin with the most troubling part of the story, but she knows that there is no avoiding it. “Danielle brought him back. She found him… in the park…”

Doubt surges through Molly’s being. She does not want to alarm her mother, but she also feels that this merits sharing.

“He was passed out on a park bench,” she says at last. “Drunk.”

Paula inhales sharply, and in that instant, Molly can see how deeply Ryan’s recent actions have hurt their mother. Paula has only known him as her son for a few years, but his struggles affect her as much as any of her other children’s do.

“Is he okay?” Paula asks.

“He’s fine. He slept it off in our guest room, and Danielle took him home. I really didn’t even see him once he woke up, to be honest. Brent wasn’t thrilled about having him in the house, so Danielle kind of snuck him out as soon as he was awake and functioning.”

Molly can see her mother becoming lost in contemplation of this news, sinking into silent what-ifs and grim possibilities for the future.

“Mom, I just thought you should know,” Molly says. “He’s fine. He drank too much, he passed out--”

“In the park!” Paula exclaims. “That isn’t fine!”

Molly seals her lips. She feels stupid for suggesting that this incident was not troubling.

“I knew this was what was happening,” Paula says, almost muttering to herself. “I could see it.”

“See it? Mom, you’ve seen Ryan?”

Paula looks up, abruptly, as if caught in a criminal act.


“Give it back!”

Little Christian Taylor tears through the family room, clutching a miniature basketball between his hands as though it might wriggle free at any second. Caleb chases him.

“Give it back!” Caleb yells again.

“Hey!” Brent calls out from his spot on the couch, where he has been trying to rest his leg. His tone gives the boys pause, but instead of stopping and listening to their father, they take off through the kitchen.

“I’ll get them,” Josh offers. He springs up from the chair where he has been trying to watch the Sonics game. Moments later, he returns with a twin tucked under each arm.

Brent watches Josh awkwardly deposit the kids on the couch.

“Gee, thanks. You could’ve just given Caleb the ball back.”

“I am not getting involved,” Josh says, returning to his chair.

Brent sorts out the basketball situation--which shouldn’t even be a situation, because there are two balls and two hoops--and sends the boys back to play.

“I don’t know how you live like this,” Josh says, shaking his head.

“It isn’t like this all the time.”

“Yeah. Sometimes they leave the basketball out of it and bite the shit out of you instead.”

Brent laughs. Sadly, the statement is truer than he would care to admit.

“You get used to it,” he says. “And when they’re yours… you’ll understand someday.”

“I don’t know about that.”

Brent tries to resist the urge to issue his brother a warning about living like a boozed-up Peter Pan. Thankfully, something else comes to mind that he feels merits mentioning.

“You and Lauren are totally done?” he asks.

“Way done.” The way Josh says it, it seems as though the mere act of thinking about Lauren exhausts him.

Brent thinks better of questioning whether Josh is as over Lauren as he would like to be and instead continues: “I ran into her at the hospital yesterday.”

Despite his alleged complete lack of interest, Josh leans forward. “Really? I didn’t know it was anything that bad.”

“Her brother was having some minor procedure,” Brent says. “Having something removed, I think.”

“That’s weird.”


“Because she called in sick yesterday and today. You’re sure it was Trevor having something done?”

“That’s what they said.”

This confirmation does little to put Josh at ease, however. He continues watching the game, but he hovers on the edge of the couch, as if perpetually an instant away from bolting out of here.


Danielle Taylor locks the front door and makes her way to the used Honda that she recently purchased for herself. She is only halfway there when she hears her name.


Even though she knows it is not Brent’s voice, she looks to the house, scanning the door and windows. There is no sign that it is her brother trying to get her attention.

“Over here!”

This time the voice pulls her attention toward the end of the driveway. Peering around the fence, waiting for her to notice him, is Ryan Moriani.

“I didn’t want to risk Brent or Molly seeing me here,” he says.

Danielle approaches him tentatively. He looks much better than the last time she saw him: he wears jeans, a sweater, and a light coat, and his face is freshly shaven.

“Probably wise,” she says. “What are you doing here?”

“I wanted to thank you. I didn’t have any other way of getting in touch.”

“Oh. You’re… welcome.”

“I mean it. I was a wreck that day, when you found me. I don’t even remember why I was at the park. I guess I was so sick of being cooped up in my place and having to clear it out…”

“So you got blitzed and passed out in a public area?”

She immediately regrets the comment; it comes out far too harshly. She appreciates Ryan taking the time to acknowledge her help. This could be a big step for him.

“I’m sorry,” she hastens to add.

“No, that’s essentially what I did. No point in sugarcoating it.” Ryan dips his hands into his coat pockets and expels a cloud of visible winter air from his mouth. “I just felt that I should come thank you. Let you know that I appreciate what you did. Not a lot of people would have done that.”

“I can understand what you’re going through.”

“Your whole family hates you because you shot your father and let your brother face life in prison for it? Wow, quite a coincidence.” Even though he says it with a tone of smirking self-deprecation, he cannot even hide the pain from his face long enough to get those few sentences out. Danielle can see how troubled he is by what happened with Nick and Tim--and it boosts her faith that she did not make a mistake by helping him that day.

“I’m a recovering alcoholic,” she says.

Ryan’s response is a wordless shift backward, as if he needs to examine her from a different angle to see how he could have missed this. “Really?”

“Really. And I know this isn’t easy, but I’d be glad to help you--take you to meetings, introduce you to people, whatever it takes to help you get sober.”

“Whoa. Wait a second.” His hands go up in front of him, palms out like a pair of shields. “I don’t need to go to AA. I’m not an alcoholic.”

“You were passed out drunk in a public park in the middle of the morning.”

“My problem isn’t alcohol! It’s my life.” He waits for her to accept that, and when she doesn’t, he continues, “I’m not a drunk.”

Instead of trying to argue with him, she simply says, “I’m offering you help. A chance to improve your life.”

“Sorry, but that is not what’s going to fix my life.” He starts away from her but turns back, barely slowing his stride, to add, “Thanks for your help, but I don’t need anymore.”

“That’s what you’ll keep telling yourself,” Danielle says, but he is already far enough away that he probably doesn’t hear her. She tells herself not to be disheartened, that denial is a significant part of this process, but part of her still feels like a fool for having believed that she could help a man who clearly has no desire to help himself.


“You’ve seen Ryan?” Molly asks her mother.

A long moment passes with no activity--no denial, no confirmation. Then Paula’s head nods slowly.

“On Thanksgiving,” she says. “I went to his loft.”

Molly thinks back to Thanksgiving and remembers her mother’s “trip to the store.”

“He was drunk then?”

“He was drinking,” Paula says. “I saw him leaving his building, so I--I followed him to this place, this bar, and he was playing poker there.”

Molly doesn’t know how she is supposed to respond to that. Ryan is drinking and gambling--these things should not be shocking after he framed Tim for murder. Yet she finds herself troubled by this image of what her half-brother’s life has become.

“He’s moving out of the loft,” Paula adds. “He can’t afford it.”

“Ryan is the one who has to help himself now,” Molly says.

“I know.” Despite her words, Paula does not seem convinced of this. She appears to be planning, searching for some loophole that will allow her to help her son.

“Mom, it was horrible seeing him that way, but he did this to himself. He had months to come clean about what really happened to Nick, and instead he chose to let Tim be punished for it.”

“I just wish there were something I could do,” Paula says, “without giving him the impression that he’s forgiven for what he did to Tim. But that’s not possible, is it?”

“I don’t think so.”

Paula picks up the set of red-and-black-print dishes again and silently considers them.

“Those are nice,” Molly says. “You’re sure you don’t want to keep them?”

Seconds drift by, and then Paula sets them in the cardboard box. “No. They don’t fit with our other ones. There’s no point.”


Josh Taylor doesn’t doubt himself. It’s just one of his things. When you start doubting yourself, he figures, you’re left with no one to trust. Other people can see it, too--they’ll latch onto a hint of uncertainty like a dog onto a scrap of meat. So he doesn’t doubt Josh. Period.

That is why he resents Lauren Brooks as he approaches the front door to her house. He isn’t supposed to care anymore. He doesn’t, not really. It doesn’t matter to him personally if something is wrong with Lauren, but it is going to affect his work, and he deserves to know if that’s going to happen. Pushing aside whatever sour notes of doubt have crept into his consciousness, Josh rings the doorbell.

The woman who answers is not Lauren. She is middle-aged, but on the younger side of it and very well preserved.

“Mrs. Brooks?” he asks.

“That’d be me.”

“Josh Taylor. I’m… I work with Lauren.” He shakes her head and sees Mrs. Brooks looking him over. Clearly she is aware of the history between him and her daughter.

“I was hoping I could see Lauren for a minute,” he says.

“Oh.” She clamps up for a moment. “I’m not sure that’s going to be possible.”

“Why not? I see her car out here. And my brother said he ran into you guys at the hospital, and Lauren said her brother was having something done, but she’s taken some sick days at work, so I thought maybe…”

“Hold on. Just a second.”

Mrs. Brooks closes the door in his face, but she does it lightly, with a promise of return.


Roz rushes upstairs and into Lauren’s room, where her daughter lies in bed, resting after the biopsy she had performed yesterday.

“There’s someone here to see you,” Roz says.

Lauren, who until now was lying quietly in bed, her limbs lazy and relaxed, snaps alert. “What? Who?”

“Your friend… Josh.”

“Mom! You know he’s not my friend.”

“I know, but… he’s worried about you.”

Lauren sits up. “You didn’t tell him what was going on, did you?”

“No. He said his brother, that guy we met, told him about running into us, and he thought it was weird you took sick days when Trevor was the one who had surgery.”

“Get rid of him. Tell him I’m fine.”

Roz is about to agree, but she has seen the way Lauren gets in recent weeks when the subject of Josh comes up. If she were as over him as she claims to be, she wouldn’t get all rigid and awkward at the mention of him.

“Are you sure you want to keep doing this?” Roz asks. “He seems sweet. And you didn’t mention that he’s such a good-looking young man.”

“The only thing sweet about Josh is… I don’t even know how to finish that sentence.”

Roz sits down on the edge of her daughter’s bed. “Why are you doing this? Are you scared that if you tell him what’s happening, he’ll get all crazy and run away?”

Lauren falls quiet and glances out the window. Josh’s car is visible by the curb.

“There’s nothing for him to run away from,” she says. “We work together. That’s it.”


“Tell him I’m helping take care of Trevor and that I’ll see him at work tomorrow.”

Roz lingers, hoping that her daughter will reconsider, but Lauren will not look back at her. Finally, with no other choice, Roz rises from the bed and leaves the room.


Josh waits outside in the cold. With every second that passes, he becomes more convinced that something is up. The way Lauren did that about-face with him during the blackout was too strange. She had been freezing him out, and then she decided to hit defrost on the situation, and then, right when things were getting good, she put up that wall again. Josh wonders if maybe her mother will be the one to help him break the ice this time.

The door opens, and Mrs. Brooks stands in front of him.

“She’s helping Trevor change his bandages,” she says. “She won’t be able to come down right now.”

“I can wait.”

Mrs. Brooks’s square jaw tightens--a moment of indecision. The perfect time to pounce.

“Mrs. Brooks, if there’s something going on with Lauren, please tell me,” he says. “She and I were--we were pretty close until right before the holidays, and if something is going on, I’d like to--” He doesn’t really know how to finish that statement, but he can tell that she gets the idea.

“Lauren is fine. She says to tell you that she’ll see you at work tomorrow.”


“Yep. Thanks for stopping by.”

She closes the door on him again, but this time, the locks click into place afterward. Josh stands there for a few seconds, wondering if she might open the door and offer something more. It doesn’t happen.

Josh pries himself away and retreats to his car. He decides that he is glad there is nothing going on with Lauren. It will make work a lot simpler. He will be spared the exhaustion of acting all concerned. In fact, he is glad that he didn’t even have to see her today. After the way she’s yanked him around, she doesn’t even deserve his concern.

Once in the car, he pulls out his cell phone.

“Sabrina,” he says when there is an answer on the other end. “What are you doing right now?”


Is this it for Josh and Lauren?
Should Danielle try to help Ryan?
Will Paula and Molly stay away from Ryan?
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