Episode #488

Written by Ira Madison
For the 2008 Webseries Writer Swap Project

- When Travis spotted Claire and Tim getting close again, he begged his father not to put everyone through another go-round of their relationship.
- Miriam crashed Seth’s date with Alex. Wanting to prove his interest to Alex, Seth chased an upset Alex into the rain and kissed him, with a resentful Miriam watching.
- Lauren learned that the lump in her breast was not cancerous.
- Jason blurted out a marriage proposal to Courtney. She was less receptive than he had hoped.


"They can't touch you now, they can't touch you nooooowwww..."

A Patti Smith classic blares on the radio as Seth Ashby's car barrels down the road. He stares out the window, fear swells in his eyes in the form of tears. He needs out of this car. But not because of the speed, more because of the Smith & Wesson currently aimed at his head.

"Because the night belongs to lovers..."

It's not even night. The afternoon is barely mature. The sun hangs low, almost welcoming the impending solar eclipse has been reported on the news all morning. For the moment, it is still daylight. Yet the fog rolling into King's Bay from the coast is more than enough to obscure Seth's view of the road. He feels trapped in total darkness.

"Don't worry, baby," Miriam Frost says, cooing as she simultaneously grips the steering wheel and the gun she has aimed at Seth. "We're gonna get the hell out of King's Bay."

Seth wants to respond, but the duct tape covering his mouths prevents such an enterprise.  He struggles with the ropes that have begun to tear at his skin, but he remains bound and helpless in his own car's passenger seat.

"I'm sorry, did you say something? You're going to have to speak louder, Seth." Miriam chuckles at her joke and adjusts the rearview mirrors to check her make-up. She notices a small bead of sweat on the corner of her forehead and quickly wipes it away. She needs to be immaculate for Seth--just as he remembers her from when they were headed to the altar. "Oh, would you look at that?"

Seth glances out the window and sees Alex Marshall standing smack dab in the center of the road. He too is bound and gagged, helpless as the car inches closer and closer and--

"Because the night--we interrupt this commercial-free music hour with a continuation of breaking news..."

Seth Ashby's focus snaps to attention as he grips the steering wheel to make sure he's in the correct lane. His mind has been wandering yet again to dueling thoughts of Miriam and Alex, an unfortunate inner battle that doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon. There is his kiss with Alex, quite possibly the most emotionally overwhelming moment Seth has experienced in his life, but in his mind thereafter it is constantly marred by the sudden appearance of Miriam in King's Bay.

"...the woman has been identified as Annabel Patrick, former fiancée of Marcus Farrell, who was to be wed to Michelle Arbor this morning..."

Seth has no idea what Miriam wants, but he hopes that she has had her fill and remains far, far away from his budding… relationship? Seth isn't exactly sure what it is that he has with Alex, but he doesn't want it to crash and burn before it even begins.

"...Ms. Patrick stormed the church where her former fiancé's nuptials were to take place, which unfortunately resulted in a hostage situation..."

Seth parks his car outside Alex's apartment. He turns off the ignition and exhales slowly. The news is hardly doing anything to calm his nerves--the last thing Seth needs is even more nightmares about Miriam protruding into his daily thoughts.

Seth knocks on Alex's door and waits patiently. His day can only get better from here, he's sure of it.


Courtney Chase carries a large purse as she walks through the front door, finding Lauren Brooks near a sales rack. Lauren lowers her coffee and smiles at her friend.

"Whoa there," Lauren says. "What's up with the sitcom purse? Are you trying to hide that bump of yours?"

Courtney laughs and lowers her purse. "Not at all. I've got a lot of paperwork I'm carrying around."

"Someone needs to invest in a Blackberry."

Courtney places a hand on her bulging stomach. "I think this baby is all the investing I can do for now."

"How far along are you now?"

"Five months," Courtney says, beaming. "Soon enough I'll be bigger than a house. So I'm wondering why you devised this cruel and unusual torture--there's no way I can fit into any of these clothes."

"Oh, I'm sorry," Lauren says as she lifts a selection of men's clothes from the rack. "I'm attempting to multi-task. I'm getting a birthday present for Trevor. How about you? What else is going on in your life? It feels like we haven't caught up in forever."

Courtney smiles coyly. "Well...I may have some exciting news." Her expression quickly sours. "Or, possibly, some less than exciting news?"

"What is it?" Lauren asks.

"Jason asked me to marry him."

"Get out of town!" Lauren cries, immediately grabbing at Courtney's hands. "How did I not notice the ring when you came in?"

"That's just it..." Courtney pulls her hands away in slight embarrassment. "I haven't exactly agreed to marry Jason yet."


"Her whereabouts currently unknown after escaping from the church, Ms. Patrick proceeded to..."

Claire Fisher turns off her car and parks in the driveway, taking a deep breath before she walks toward the front door. Ever since the fallout from her relationship with Ryan, she feels ill at ease here, as if her presence will only escalate existing tensions.

At least, that’s how it has been with Travis, anyway. She grabs her purse from the passenger's seat and makes sure once more that her son's iPod is safely tucked away inside. He left it at her place during what became one of their painfully routine visits and, being obsessively attached he was to it, he made sure to bombard Claire with an array of voicemail messages insisting upon its return.

Tim surprises Claire as he opens the door, as if on his way out. "Claire? What are you doing here?"

"I didn't know you were home," Claire says suddenly, almost instinctively. She mentally kicks herself for it.

"Yeah, just old me here," Tim says. "What's up?"

"Our son," Claire says, finding that the smile on her face does not take much forcing. "What else?"

"Come in." Tim steps back and allows Claire to enter.

She stands near the couch and quickly removes the iPod from her purse. Claire hands it to Tim. "Travis left this."

"You know, for something he couldn't live without, he sure loses it a lot," Tim says.

"Just be glad we never wasted money on an iPhone." Tim fiddles with the iPod's screen, accidentally turning it on. "Wow, take a look at what our son's been listening to."

Tim shares the screen with Claire. She smiles excitedly.

"Stevie Nicks? Well, I guess we raised a kid with good taste in music."

Tim scrunches his face. "'Edge of Seventeen.' Do you remember dancing to this song at that dive bar in Chicago?"

Of course she remembers. "That was a wonderful night. Can you believe we almost moved there?"

"Maybe things would be less crazy if we had."


They stand for what seems like an eternity, just staring at each other. Remembering what it felt like to see one another when they first fell in love. Claire makes the first move. She rests her hand on Tim's shoulder. "Those were good times. The best. But it's probably better to just--”

"Forget about it?"

"Yes." Claire knows she's lying even as she says it, but her actions speak louder than her words. She leans forward and kisses Tim on the lips. He takes it in, feeling her soft, wet lips on his own, somewhat dry. Claire's kiss awakens him.

He drops Travis' iPod onto the floor and wraps his arms around her. He does not break the kiss and as they continue, fully invested at this point, Tim and Claire sink to the couch.


"It's open!" Alex Marshall shouts upon hearing a knock at his door. He emerges from the bathroom amidst a wave of steam, wrapping a towel around his waist.

He enters the living room as Seth closes the door.

"Sorry, I thought I'd be dressed by the time you got here," Alex says.

"It's fine... I sort of did call last minute." Seth tries not to stare at Alex's body as small drops of water slowly roll down his chest. "Did I catch you at a bad time?"

Alex shakes his head, accidentally splashing water onto Seth. "No, but I do need to head to Vision in about an hour or so--oh, I'm sorry. I'm getting you all wet."

"It's fine," Seth insists. He blushes and shifts his weight nervously. "You look different."

Alex smiles widely. "Really? I've been getting that a lot lately."

"You didn't get a haircut..." Seth's voice trails off as he tries to decipher what's different. It's not immediately something physical, but something else about Alex that's different. He seems exceedingly content for some reason.

"No, I just got a call from Brian Hamilton," Alex says. "In addition to my second novel, Diane Bishop wants to use some of my short stories in an anthology she's publishing."

"Really? That's awesome," Seth exclaims. "What made Diane think of you?"

"I don't know, she's been in a good mood lately for some reason," Alex said. "I think she threw herself a party the other day."

"Well, as long as she doesn't hire you write another exposé about me, I'm cool." Dammit.

Seth regrets speaking as soon as he does, unaware of how bitter his reaction would sound. He grimaces and then braces himself for an equally icy response.

Almost on cue, Alex asks, "Speaking of… is Miriam still in town?"


"You haven't--can I slap you?" Lauren asks, only half-joking.

Courtney grins and raises a fist. "Okay, but you know I don't slap back, I punch. And I will hunt you down."

Lauren throws up her hands in defeat. "No way am I messing with a pregnant woman," Lauren says. "We're at a standstill. But seriously, I think marrying Jason is a wonderful idea. You two are good together."

"Really?" Courtney asks, nervously.

"Trust me, anyone's relationship is perfect compared to me and Josh."

"So there is a you and Josh?"

Lauren briskly backpedals. "No. I didn't mean that. I just meant...when we were together, we weren't functioning. And now that we're not, we're functioning even less. I just want to tear out all my hair at work."

"Well, at least you're not going crazy over it," Courtney deadpans.

At that moment, both of the women's attention turns to the front door. Nearly everyone in the store is startled as a woman with severe blonde extensions rushes in, wearing a full wedding dress.

"Cleary she is," Lauren whispers.

The woman struggles to push her entire dress through the door. Once she rolls fabric around her arms and soldiers through, she eventually makes it. Her face is stained with visible tears and running mascara, which only adds to her apparent crazed state.

"Um... you were saying something about Jason's proposal?" Lauren asks, in a feeble attempt not to stare at the woman who is now hurriedly walking past them. "Why haven't you said yes?"

"It's just, with everything going on in our lives, it kind of feels like he's only proposing to me because of all of this," Courtney waves her hands in front of her pregnant stomach.

Lauren gets the point. "Oh, right. That."


"Tim! Are you listening to me?"

"Huh?" The sound of Claire's voice instantly brings Tim out of his fantasy. He still has Travis's iPod in his hands and is staring directly at Claire. He blushes uncomfortably and diverts his attention to a scatter of magazines on the coffee table.

"Did you hear what I said about Chicago?" Claire asks, wondering what's gotten into Tim.

"Yeah," Tim says. "But, you know, it's probably better if we don't talk about Chicago. It was a long time ago."

"You're saying you don't remember? It wasn't that long ago."

"No, what I mean is I don't want to remember," Tim says. He can sense the harshness in his voice, and yet, he also remembers his recent conversation with his son.

Travis warned Tim against allowing his endless break-up and make-up cycle with Claire to keep occurring. It hasn’t only damaged them--it has hurt their family. Travis doesn’t want his family being constantly thrown into turmoil simply because Tim and Claire can't make up their minds, and Tim is inclined to agree.

It isn't fair to anyone.

There was a time, when Tim was brought back from the clinic in Vermont when all he wanted was to hold Claire in his arms again. But now, there seems to be no going back. Not with all of the damage that has been done.

"I just don't think we should reminisce like that, when there's the potential that we might--”

"Remember some better times?" Claire interjects.

Tim shakes his head. “--cross a line we don't want to cross. I'm just not interested in rekindling our relationship. So I think it's best if we both just move on."


Seth closes his eyes and imagines he's jumping off a cliff. At this moment in time, it's preferable to having Alex pissed off at him. Which happens more often than Seth would like. Maybe there's something about him that just easily irritates people.

As he opens his eyes, light streaming in from the window momentarily blinds him. He blinks quickly, processing his surroundings again. The combination of lingering steam from the bathroom and his embarrassment make Seth want to rip off his clothes and jump under an ice cold shower.

"I don't know where Miriam is," Seth says finally. "All I know is that she left King's Bay, but I haven't heard from her since."

Alex welcomes this news. "Good. Because I am really not a fan of hers."

"Really? Because I could have sworn she was in your MySpace Top 8."

“Yeah, ‘cause we’re a bunch of 19-year-old girls,” Alex says.

“That could be hot.”

The words spill out of Seth’s mouth before he has a chance to think about them, but as soon as they are out, he sees the awkwardness stiffen Alex’s entire being.  Probably not smart to remind Alex how confused he is right now.

Seth grins. "Forget MySpace. I'd rather keep tabs on you in person, and not online."

He leans forward to kiss Alex. This time, there's no uncertainty, nothing uncomfortable between them. Alex and Seth revel in the familiarity of this kiss, how natural it is.

"I think that's a good idea," Alex says. "We couldn't really do this online."

Seth shrugs, kissing Alex again. "Well, we could, but I don’t know if we need a sex tape getting out or anything."

Though a simple joke on Seth's part, the comment triggers a memory in Alex's mind. His most recent interaction with adult entertainment--Trevor's video. The video that was from one of the lowest points in Trevor's life and the lowest in their relationship. It seems now that it wasn't the video so much that broke them up, but it was more an excuse for Alex to lash out at Trevor and temper his own guilt over having Seth back in his life.

At times, Alex still wishes he could fix things with a simple phone call. A quick hello. A long embrace. But he knows he can't. And besides, this thing he has with Seth is really taking off. And, for the first time possibly ever, it doesn't need any quick fixes. It just is.

It's this that Alex keeps telling himself as Seth pulls him closer into a longer kiss. It's what keeps Alex from resisting as Seth loosens the towel around Alex's waist.


"You think I'm just being crazy, don't you?" Courtney asks, positioning herself to avoid eye contact with the bride who seems to be staring her and Lauren down.

"Actually, no," Lauren admits. "The thought did cross my mind when you mentioned that Jason proposed, but your reasoning makes sense.”

Courtney stifles a laugh. "I just don't know what to think about all of this."

"I want to tell you something," Lauren says, lowering her voice. "I discovered a lump a couple of months ago that I thought was cancer."

"Oh my God!" Courtney gasps. "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine. Really. I had a biopsy done and my results came back negative."

"Well, that's good. Don't scare me like that!"

"I'm sorry," Lauren says, accepting a hug from Courtney. "But the point I'm trying to make is, I could have had cancer. I just think life is too short and if you don't take any kind of risks, you'll end up with wasted time and opportunities."

"You know, your girlfriend is right."

Lauren and Courtney turn to see the newly arrived bride approaching them, a wildfire of intensity burning in her eyes. They shift nervously as she plops herself in the center of their separate personal space bubbles.

"Excuse me?" Courtney asks.

"Life's too short, baby," the woman says weakly. "My name's Annabel, but you can call me Ann."

"Hi Ann," Lauren says, speaking slowly. "Are you getting married today?"

Ann narrows her eyes at Lauren. "Are you retarded? Why are you talking so damn slow?"

Flustered, Lauren indignantly folds her arms and clams up.

"I've been through a hell of day," Ann says. "The love of my life is getting married to some white-trash, Shania Twain-loving bitch. And you know why? It's all because I didn't have the guts to shoot her dead when I had the chance." Ann sighs heavily and removes a handgun from her purse, holding it at her side. Courtney and Lauren freeze, panic setting in almost immediately.

Ann notices their fear and laughs. She pops open the gun and reveals that it doesn't have any ammo in it. "I couldn't even load the damn thing. I was afraid I might accidentally shoot Marcus if I did."

Lauren closes her eyes and says a quick prayer while Courtney tightly grips the nearest clothing rack.

"Do you love this Jason person? This guy you keep talking about?" Ann asks.

"Yes," Courtney says. She doesn't know if it's the fact that subconsciously, she is absolute in the fact that she loves Jason, or if it's the duress of a gun-toting woman dressed in a bridal gown that is forcing her statement, but it doesn't matter. She loves Jason. That's a fact. "Yes, I love him."

"Then I don't think anything else matters."

Tears swell in Courtney's eyes. She touches Ann's arm gently and turns to Lauren. "I have to go find Jason. Are you going to be... you gonna be okay here?"

Lauren casts a glance at the front door, where two police officers enter quietly. They have Ann in their sights. "Oh, I think I'll be just fine. You go ahead."


The sky goes dark as Tim closes the front door. He watches Claire walking to her car, as the beginning of the eclipse shrouds her in black. He told her she could stay at the house until the eclipse was over, but he knew she would probably decline. After what he'd said, how could she sit in the same room with him?

How could Tim do the same, knowing full and well what he'd told her was a lie in order to protect them both?

He goes to the kitchen and turns on the radio, ready to grab a cold beer. An old Bonnie Tyler song squeaks out through the static, comforting Tim as he's left alone with only his thoughts.

"Turn around, bright eyes, every now and then I fall apart..."

Lauren tosses her empty coffee cup into the trash as she exits the boutique. She turns back momentarily to watch as Ann is handcuffed by the two police officers. Despite the scariness of the situation, Lauren finds herself feeling sympathetic to Ann.

It's an extreme, sure, but Lauren hopes she doesn't end up similarly crazed. Her back and forth with Josh is already enough to make her want to pull out her hair every morning on her way into work.

Deciding not to think about Josh for the rest of the day, Lauren climbs into her car and turns the radio up full blast. She hopes she can get home before the sun has been completely eclipsed.

"...And I need you now tonight... And I need you more than ever..."

Claire rests her head on the steering wheel. She sees Tim watch her through the window and is thankful for the eclipse. He can't see her tears in the darkness.

Though she put up a strong front to make him believe that she was perfectly fine with not trying to start up their relationship again, she was privately crushed at the prospect. Every time she is with Tim, she is reminded of their past.

His touch. His taste. His breath. His face. His hands… everything about him reminds her of a time she knows she will never be able to experience again.

"I don't know what to do when I'm always in the dark..."

"Seth, stop," Alex says, backing away. He bends over and picks up his towel, wrapping it around himself once more. "I can't."

"Huh? Why not?"

"Jason's going to be home soon," Alex insists. "And I have to get to Vision, and I just..."

Seth frowns. "It's fine. I get it."

"It's not what you think."

"What I think is that you don't want to have sex with me," Seth says.

"I can't right now, no."

Seth nods. "Then it is what I think." He turns around walks toward the door. He opens the door quickly and heads out into the hallway. "You can call me later."

Alex bites his lower lip as the door slams shut. He does feel remorse for upsetting Seth, but at the moment, the only thing truly on his mind is Trevor.

"There's nothing I can do, a total eclipse of the heart..."

Jason Fisher turns off his car and walks toward his apartment building. He sees a visibly upset Seth Ashby bounding down the exterior stairs. Seth brushes past Jason without speaking. "Hey, Seth. What's going on?"

"Absolutely nothing," Seth shoots back through gritted teeth, heading to his own car.

Jason shrugs and reaches into his pocket for his keys. He looks up at the sky, which is just about completely eclipsed in darkness. There is only a sliver of sunlight that remains. Before he can even stick the key into the lock, he hears a car horn blare loudly.

Quite literally stuck in a set of headlights, Jason spins around to face the car.

"Once upon a time there was light in my life, now there's only love in the dark..."

Courtney doesn't bother to turn off her car as she maneuvers her pregnant stomach out of the car. A wide grin on her face, she is glad the man she assumed was Jason actually turns out to be him and not some random stranger.

"Courtney! What are you doing here?" Jason asks, a surprised look painted across his face.

"Yes!" Courtney exclaims.

"Yes what?"

"Yes, I want to marry you, you idiot!" Courtney says, pulling a startled Jason toward her. "I want to marry you."

"Really? You really mean it?"

"Yes, yes I do," Courtney says. "Now kiss me like you're about to marry the luckiest girl in King's Bay."

"Will do." Jason wraps his arms around Courtney and kisses her passionately.

From her open car door, the radio continues to blare as the last trace of sunlight vanishes from the sky. And as Jason and Courtney close their eyes, melting into their kiss--the sky and all of King's Bay fades to black.


What did you think of this special guest-authored episode?
Is Alex being unfair to Seth just as he was to Trevor?
Can Tim and Claire ever have a relationship again?
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