Episode #527

- Claire and Brent confirmed that the mysterious Mr. Clayton had been killed, but someone took shots at them, leaving Claire with a bullet in her leg.
- Alex agreed to give things with Seth another shot, but both felt it would be best if their relationship did not get too serious yet.
- Lauren presented Josh with a Christmas present. He accepted it as a friendly gesture but did not seem to recognize that she hoped it would mean more to him.
- Paula asked Sarah if she should invite Matt to spend Christmas with the Fishers. Sarah said that she should but then made a phone call asking about someone’s plans for the day…


As Claire Fisher steps through the door of her former in-laws’ home, holiday cheer welcomes her. The Christmas tree shines in the corner of the room, and Nat King Cole’s voice coils through the air, bringing calm and comfort to those assembled to celebrate. Nevertheless, Claire feels uneasy as she joins the gathering.

“Hi, Mom,” Travis says in his signature uncomfortable-teenage-boy manner. They hug briefly, and while it might normally annoy Claire that her only child is not more affectionate with her, she is simply grateful that he is speaking to her this year.

“Merry Christmas,” Paula Fisher greets her. “How are you feeling?”

Claire waves away the concern. “I’m fine. The wound is healing well. It’s really not a big deal.”

“I’d hardly say a bullet wound is no big deal.”

“I know how to take care of it,” Claire says, “and there was no real damage done, so all things considered, it could be much worse.”

The women embrace, and then Claire moves through the room, offering hugs and Christmas wishes to the other Fishers. It still amazes her that, after all that has transpired, she is welcomed as a member of the family. She truly considered not coming today; she did not want to be the outsider intruding upon family time. Nevertheless, it is important to spend the day with her son, and she would never want the Fishers to think her ungrateful after all they have done for her.

When she comes to her ex-husband, though, the decision to attend suddenly seems unwise. The tension between them is palpable, like a vacuum-sealed bag closing in around them and threatening to cut off their air supply entirely.

“Merry Christmas,” Claire says politely. She allows Tim to give her a cursory kiss on the cheek, but the gesture is cool and the touch uncomfortable, on both their parts.

“Merry Christmas,” he says back. They stare at one another, unsure where they stand after the events of recent weeks. The chill is confusing to Claire: since their divorce, they have more or less been on good, if awkward, terms; now she is angry at Tim, for having led her on, having led her to believe that they might have another chance.

She does not want to make a scene on the holiday, and she knows that it will not accomplish anything, anyway, so she quickly moves away from Tim.

The next person she comes to, however, is Molly. Though Claire did not expect it, she receives a flat-out chilly reception from her former sister-in-law.

“Hi,” Claire ventures. “Merry Christmas.”

“Merry Christmas.” Molly seems to be waging an internal battle with herself over what to say and how to act.

Brent slides up beside Claire. Perhaps he sensed the awkwardness.

“How’s the leg?” he asks.

“It’s healing well,” she says. “Nothing to worry about.”

At the mention of her gunshot wound, Claire notices Molly giving her a cold glare. Instead of engaging in the conversation, Molly moves away, joining Paula and Helen Chase in conversation.

“I take it she’s upset,” Claire says to Brent.

“Not the most comfortable Christmas we’ve had,” he confesses. “Molly is… not thrilled. She thinks we’re being stupid by putting ourselves in danger.”

Claire’s response is automatic: “We’re in danger anyway. We’re just being proactive about it.”

“That’s what I said. She doesn’t see it the same way.”

They fall silent, observing the rest of the family members as they glide through the room, celebrating and happy. It is a moment of clarity for Claire: This is what we need to protect. This is why we need to find out who’s done these awful things to us.

One glance at Brent tells her that he feels the same way.


Across the living room, Tim joins his father and Matt Gray in conversation.

“We should be ready to open by summer,” Bill says. “It’ll be nice to be back in the business of running a restaurant. I’m not much for all of this planning.”

Matt offers a knowing nod. “As much as I’d want to work with you, I can’t stay I’m too unhappy about missing this part.”

“I really wish you could be part of it.” Bill seems ashamed at having to speak the words.

“I get it,” Matt says, holding up a hand to halt any further apologies. “It’d be weird. I had an interview at Windmills last week, actually. They have an opening for a line cook… might be good to have experience in that type of place.”

Tim marvels at the way that the two men navigate the awkward situation. Bill and Paula have maintained a good relationship with Claire, but the dissolutions of her marriage to Tim and relationship with Ryan were very different from Matt and Sarah’s split.

Matt turns to Tim. “Are you still caught up working on that book Ryan’s writing?”

“Very much so. We actually just brought in a co-writer to help him get it ready for publication. Should be an interesting process.”

“Your mother said you read it,” Bill says. The statement carries all sorts of implications and questions, and Tim considers how to balance his loyalty to his family with the responsibilities of his job.

“It’s going to change a lot before it’s published,” he says. “But, honestly, it’s not as bad as I expected. He takes responsibility for his part in everything, at least.”

Matt shakes his head. “I don’t know how you can sit in the same room as that guy and act professional.”

“It hasn’t been the easiest thing in the world. In some way, it’s helped me be less bitter about the whole situation…”

Tim struggles to find a further explanation, and he notices Matt and Bill’s eyes drifting away. He turns to see what has caught their attention and spots it himself: Sarah, entering the house with a man in a sweater and slacks whom Tim has never seen before.


In the dining room, Courtney Chase finds Alex Marshall lingering over the appetizers. Courtney shifts her infant daughter to her other hip and approaches her friend.

“Are you doing all right?” she asks.

Alex glances up abruptly, as if startled by her appearance, and then nods. “Of course. Why wouldn’t I be?”

“I don’t know, but judging by the way you were staring at those crackers, you either have something on your mind or you’re really, really stoned.”

A laugh cracks Alex’s mask of distraction and he offers, “I guess Christmas always makes me take stock of my life, that’s all.”

“Do you miss Seth?” She has her suspicions, but that seems to be the most tactful way of phrasing the question.

“A little bit. But come on, I’m a grown-up. I can spend a holiday away from someone I’m dating and not lose my mind.” He absentmindedly picks up one of the crackers.

“Have you talked to him?”

“He’s with his friends. I don’t want to distract him.”

“Oh, really grown-up. You don’t think he can handle a ten-minute phone call?”

Alex shrugs. “I don’t want to seem pushy. Let him enjoy his ski trip and his college friends. I’ll see him when he gets back.”

Courtney picks up a cracker, too, even though she does not particularly want it. Instead she holds it up for Sophie to swat, which makes the baby all too happy.

“So, that’s what you’re taking stock of?” she asks. “Whether Seth misses you?”

Another shrug. “I suppose. The whole situation’s just weird.”

“You shouldn’t be spending energy on something that you don’t want to be a part of,” Courtney says, hoping that she is not overstepping her bounds. “You’ve given Seth a fair shot. Sometimes relationships don’t work out. It isn’t the end of the world.”

“How do you know if it’s not working out?”

“You just know. Hey, you were there for your relationship with Dylan. You knew then, didn’t you?”

Alex groans. “Definitely knew then. But this is different. Seth and I don’t see eye-to-eye on everything, but… I don’t know.”

“That’s why you decided to keep it casual for the time being, remember?”

“Yeah. You’re right. I’m overanalyzing.” He smiles, a gesture intended to relieve her from her duties of worrying about him. “How’s Miss Sophie enjoying her first Christmas?”

“I’m not sure she has any idea what’s going on,” Courtney says, adjusting the baby’s holiday headband, “but no complaints so far. I’ll call it a victory.”


Lauren Brooks and her parents are enjoying a quiet Christmas dinner when the telephone rings. They have all been awaiting the call, and so, Patrick rises and moves for the phone at a casual pace.

Roz and Lauren continue to pick at their dinners as they listen to Patrick greet Trevor and launch into a conversation with him. There seems to be an unspoken agreement amongst the three of them that this year’s Christmas should be a low-key affair; perhaps it has to do with what a downer of a year it has been, with Trevor’s departure and Lauren’s health scare. None of them seem to be up for an overly festive celebration this year.

Patrick strolls into the room. “Say hello to your brother,” he tells Lauren, handing her the phone.

Excitedly, she takes it and stands from the table. She and Trevor have sent e-mails and instant messages back and forth almost every day since he left, but it has been months since she heard his voice.

“Merry Christmas!” she exclaims. She ducks into the living room with the phone so that she and Trevor can talk without her parents hearing every word. “You cannot believe how much I miss you.”

“I miss you, too,” Trevor says. “Did Josh like the present?”

She isn’t sure how to answer. “I guess. I mean, I know he liked it, but I’m not sure…”

“He understood where it was coming from?”

“Yeah. I feel like an idiot.”

“Why? No. Don’t. Josh is the idiot.”

“That doesn’t mean I’m not one…”

Trevor laughs. “Have you thought about just telling him how you feel?”

“I can’t. After the way I lied to him--he has to be the one to open that door again.” Sometimes she thinks that this is purely a self-imposed restriction, one that she should disregard and work around; she always comes back, however, to feeling as though she will never get anywhere with Josh if she has to beg him for another chance. “Am I really the ultimate idiot for even wanting this, after everything that’s happened?”

“Lauren, shut up.” Trevor pauses to let that settle. “You obviously have feelings for Josh. God only knows why, but you do. So if you want to be with him, you want to be with him. End of story.”

“Thanks.” Hearing her brother say it somehow makes her more confident in her stance--at least for the time being. “How are things with you? Where are you, even?”

“London, still.”

“Ready to come home yet?”

Trevor’s response is swift: “No.” He lets out a sigh, which sounds almost apologetic to Lauren. “Have you seen Alex?”

“A few times, yeah.” She doesn’t really know how much to offer, even though she suspects there is one thing about which Trevor is particularly curious.

“Are he and Seth still together?”

“I’m not sure. They were, then they weren’t, and now I think they’re dating but not super-serious.” She spits it all out at once. “Sorry. I don’t know how much you want to know.”

“I’m just being nosy,” he says, though it sounds more serious than that. “So did Mom make her famous cake for dessert?”

“Yeah, but we’re all hoping we have just the cake and no porn this year,” Lauren teases. Trevor laughs, and they keep gabbing until Roz pokes her head into the room, insisting that she have a chance to speak with her son, too.


“Merry Christmas,” Sarah says to whomever happens to be closest nearby, which turns out to be Jason. She leans in to hug him and notices his hesitant reaction.

“This is Graham. Graham, this is my brother, Jason.” She watches as the two men shake hands. She sees the questioning look on Jason’s face and the curiosity from everyone else in the room.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” Graham says. The sound of his rich, confident voice pleases Sarah; it is a perfect complement to his effortlessly sophisticated appearance.

“Mom! Dad!” Sarah catches her parents’ attention and beckons them toward her. “I’d like you to meet my friend, Graham Colville. I hope you don’t mind that I invited him.”

“The more, the merrier,” Paula responds with a smile, though she is clearly surprised by the addition to their celebration. She, Bill, and Graham exchange greetings.

“How do you and Sarah know each other?” Bill asks Graham.

“Graham actually saved my life,” Sarah says, smiling broadly.

As Graham tells Bill the story of how he found Sarah wandering in the snowy mountains, Paula pulls her daughter ever so slightly to the side, away from the men.

“I didn’t realize you were bringing a guest,” Paula says. She makes no effort to conceal the accusation in her words, and in a strange way, that delights Sarah.

“I’m sorry for springing a surprise on you like this,” Sarah says. “I didn’t want you to worry about it being awkward, with Matt here and everything.”

Paula’s eyes blaze. “Well, it is going to be awkward! Sarah, what are you doing? This isn’t…”

Out of the corner of her eye, Sarah sees Matt, lingering in the background as the family meets Graham.

“Isn’t what, Mom?” Sarah doesn’t wait for Paula to find the right word. “If you’ll excuse me, I need to go wish my daughter a merry Christmas.”

Before Paula can harass her any further, Sarah catches Diane, who wears a curious look of her own. She asks Diane about their daughters’ whereabouts and rejoins Graham; she can still feel her mother’s gaze burning into her, and something about that disapproval is oddly satisfying.


Will Graham’s presence at Christmas dinner cause trouble?
Should Brent listen to his wife and drop the investigation?
Should Alex cut his losses with Seth?
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