Episode #616

- Jason suffered an emotional meltdown on the one-year anniversary of Courtney’s death. His seeming instability fueled Helen’s concerns about his ability to care for Sophie.
- Claire and Brent discovered that “Mr. Clayton” adopted a baby boy from a woman in Tacoma, Washington, three days before Travis’s birth.
- Fearful that a baby switch had taken place, Claire decided to test her theory before involving the rest of the Fishers.


The wind whips across the university’s soccer field, making Travis Fisher grateful that practice has concluded for the day. He retrieves his belongings from the sidelines and, pulling his iPhone from his equipment bag, sees that he has a missed call and a voicemail from his mother.

He is zipping up his track jacket when the phone rings. Again, it is Claire calling. He answers on the first ring.

“Hey, Mom. Everything okay?”

“Did you get my message?”

“Haven’t listened to it yet. I just finished practice.” He picks up his bag, waves goodbye to some of his teammates, and begins heading back to his dorm. “What’s up?”

“I was wondering if you’d be able to come by the hospital sometime this evening,” Claire says.

“Why? What’s going on?”

“Nothing.” Her hesitance to reveal something comes through the phone loud and clear. “I need to take a blood sample from you.”

“What? Why?”

“It’s for… I’m trying to get all our medical things in order, that’s all. Between Tempest moving in with me, and finding out I have these brothers I never knew about, I just… I want to be sure that everything is in order. Just in case.”

Travis rounds the corner of the university gym and continues over the cobblestone path. “Are you sure everything’s okay? You sound weird.”

“I’m fine. I promise.” She lets out a deep breath. “Are you able to come to the hospital tonight? I’m working late.”

He had planned on playing video games with Landon for most of the night, since his Western Civ paper due tomorrow is already finished, but given how strange his mother sounds, there seems to be only one answer that is appropriate.

“I’ll head back to my room, take a shower, and then head over. We can get dinner in the cafeteria, if you have a few minutes free.”

“That sounds good. Thanks, honey.”

They say their goodbyes, and Travis ends the call. Clutching the iPhone, he glances up at the sky. The dull blue of the autumn afternoon is giving way to the encroaching darkness of the evening, casting an eerie dimness over the campus. Considering his mother’s odd request, it seems fitting.


On this particular day, Jason Fisher spends an inordinate amount of time cleaning up and childproofing his already-clean, already-childproof house. He straightens up the clutter of Sophie’s toys but strategically places a few here and there to show that she has fun; he contemplates a small statue placed high on a bookshelf and finally moves it to floor level. While Sophie is napping, he brings the baby monitor into the bathroom, showers, and shaves. He attempts to dress in a way that strikes a balance between “only people on TV get this dressed-up to hang around the house” and “total slob,” finally settling on an untucked blue button-down shirt and a pair of jeans.

When the doorbell rings, he steels himself and then answers it. Sophie stands by his side, as she has lately been fascinated by the ringing of the doorbell and the surprise of visitors.

“Hi,” he says to Helen Chase.

“Hi.” The awkwardness between them is thick, almost overpowering. Jason feels as if he should apologize--for what, he is not certain--simply to break the ice.

Instead he proceeds in a polite, businesslike manner. “She should be all ready to go. I can help you bring her things to the car.”

“Thank you.” Helen bends over to greet her granddaughter with a kiss. “Are you excited to have a sleepover with Grandpa and me?”

“Yes!” Sophie shouts with the excessive enthusiasm that is the domain of the very young.

Jason carries the stuffed diaper bag outside and places it in the trunk of Helen’s Toyota. When he returns to the house, he finds Sophie scowling.

“Hedgehog,” she says.

The one-word request--command, really--sends Jason’s nerves into overdrive. Never did he think he would spend this much time searching for things like stuffed hedgehogs, but so it is.

“She’ll be a terror if she doesn’t have that hedgehog,” he tells Helen. “I think she left it in my room. Let me go look.”

“We’ll go with you,” Helen says, with an undercurrent of nosiness that irritates him. He is grateful that he tidied up the house before she arrived.

Helen takes Sophie’s hand, and they follow him up the stairs to the master bedroom. He notices her appraising the last place where her daughter slept, and he feels bad for being annoyed with her. This little girl is her last link to the daughter she lost. He has to keep that in mind.

“If experience serves me…” he says as he gets on his knees to look under the bed. Sure enough, he locates the missing hedgehog. When he stands back up with it, though, he finds a stern Helen waiting for him.

“What are these?” she asks, though the question is so much more than that. Jason’s eyes flash to her hand, which holds the prescription bottle of sleeping pills that has been resting on his nightstand.


Claire finds herself having to focus extra-hard on her duties as she goes about her shift. She knows that Travis will be arriving soon, and while she thinks that he bought her flimsy story over the phone, having to draw his blood without letting on her true reasoning is another matter entirely.

She wishes that she didn’t even have to do this. She was sure that, somewhere in the hospital’s records, there would be an updated file containing a reliable blood type, from a checkup or a visit or some such occasion. But he has been a remarkably healthy kid, and there has never been a need to draw his blood, let alone type it. She always knew that his birth certificate listed him as being B-, but now she knows that she might have been working off false information for his entire life. Thank goodness there has never been a medical emergency in which that information was taken for granted…

She is exiting a patient’s room when she hears her name over the PA system. She hurries to the nurse’s station, where she finds Travis waiting for her. He is dressed in dark, straight-leg jeans and a hooded sweatshirt, and his blondish-brown hair is tousled from his post-practice shower.

“Hey, honey,” she says, embracing him. “Thanks for coming by.”

“No problem.” He takes a step back to examine her. “You’re sure nothing weird is going on?”

“Positive. Come with me. We’ll do this quickly and then I can take a break to have some dinner with you.”

They take the elevator down two floors to the ER. It is a mercifully quiet night--the kind that always makes Claire a little edgy, because it feels like they are waiting for something catastrophic to happen. That sense does little to help her relax in the face of this potentially life-altering encounter with Travis.

“Shouldn’t you already have my blood type from, like, medical files and stuff?” he asks as she prepares to draw the sample.

“Believe it or not, you haven’t had to have your blood tested or typed since you were a baby. I just want to be sure we’re operating off the right information, that’s all.”

He regards her with a curious but not particularly accusatory look. She hopes that he will just chalk this up to typical motherly worrying and over-planning.

“This might sting a tiny bit,” she warns him. He shakes his head nonchalantly but nevertheless winces when she inserts the needle. Moments later, the sample is drawn and labeled.

“Are you gonna do Dad and Samantha, too?” Travis asks as he stands up and pulls his sweatshirt back on.

“I have Samantha’s from when she came to the hospital last year,” Claire says. “And your father’s is on file, too. I just needed you and Tempest.”

They make their way out of the ER, and Claire sends the blood sample off to the lab. Then they get back in the elevator, bound for the hospital cafeteria.

“Now let’s get some dinner in you, and we can talk about normal things,” she says with a forced smile. There are hundreds of questions she wants to ask him about school, but she knows that the pending results will dominate her brain for the rest of the night.


“Those are mine,” Jason says, summoning every particle of willpower he has to keep from snatching the pill bottle out of Helen’s hand. “My doctor prescribed them.”

Helen turns the bottle over in her hand, letting her eyes slink over its label. “Are you having trouble sleeping?”

“A bit, yeah. They help me relax.”

“Is that what Alex was concerned about?”

He hopes that his panic does not show outwardly. “What?”

“A few weeks ago, he said that he was worried about you,” she says. “When Don and I asked what he meant, he clammed up. Is he worried about you taking these pills?”

“They’re sleeping pills. Not drugs.”

He can tell that she is unconvinced as she places the pill bottle back on the nightstand.

“Here’s your hedgehog,” he says, handing the toy to Sophie. “Let’s get your coat on so you can go have your sleepover.”

Helen makes no move to exit the room.

“Are you sure it isn’t a problem?” she persists.

“I’m sure.” He snatches the bottle from the nightstand. “Here. I’ll show you.” He makes a beeline for the master bathroom and pads over the limestone tiles toward the toilet. Helen stands in the doorway, watching him.

“See? Not a problem at all.” He empties the bottle’s contents into the toilet and flushes before they have all hit the water. “Happy now?”

“I was only asking a question,” she says. He could swear that she is playing innocent, all the while eating this up on the inside.

“No, you were accusing me of having a problem.” He pauses before speaking again; he can see Sophie sitting on the bedroom floor, playing with her toy and seemingly oblivious to them. Nevertheless, he fights to keep his voice down. “I know what you’re doing. You’re trying to paint me as this, this unfit father so that you can have control of Sophie, because she’s all any of us have left of Court and you think it will somehow make it hurt less if you have her. Let me tell you something: it won’t.”

“How dare you.”

“I’m not losing Sophie,” he says. “I’m her father.” With that, he slips past Helen, scoops up Sophie in his arms, and carries her down the stairs.

“Are you going to have fun with your grandma and grandpa?” he asks the little girl, purposely ignoring Helen as she trails him down the stairs. “Daddy’s going to miss you tonight. But I’ll see you in the morning, okay?”

At the door, he reluctantly hands Sophie off to Helen and gives his daughter a kiss goodnight. He doesn’t even make eye contact with Helen.

As soon as they are gone, panic sets in. Standing up to Helen felt good. But now he fears that she will use his accusations as further ammunition to prove that he is unstable, or unfit, or…

He does what he can, with little success, to push those thoughts aside, and he wonders how he is going to fall asleep without the pills tonight.


Later that night, after Travis heads back to campus, Claire attempts to devote her full attention to her job. It is an uneventful night, spent primarily visiting patients’ rooms and checking their vital signs. The lack of activity does permit her to spend quite some time talking with the wife and adult son of an elderly stroke victim.

Toward the end of her shift, she makes her way downstairs to the lab. Ivan, the tech, wears a white lab coat and his trademark thick tortoise-shell glasses. He has a ring of salt-and-pepper hair around his otherwise bald head; his entire air reminds Claire somehow of a professor.

“Do you have that sample for me?” she asks, tossing her empty Styrofoam coffee cup in the trashcan.

“Certainly. All done.” Ivan retrieves the sample in question and then reviews the order. “You’re positive that you only wanted this blood typed?”

“Yeah. That should be all I need.” She takes the sample from him, and her own blood seems to be itching in her veins, racing around her body anxiously. At first, she planned to have a full DNA test run on Travis’s blood, but waiting days and days for the results might have driven her mad. Besides, his blood type might tell her all that she needs to know--and he might not be the one whose DNA she needs to test against her own, anyway.

“Thank you, Ivan,” she says as she ducks into the hallway with the blood and unfolds the results. She wants so badly to see “B-” on this sheet.

Instead, she sees “O-.” She blinks and reads it again, but the result does not change. O-.

She rushes up to the nurses’ locker room, pulls her purse from her locker, and takes out the folded birth certificate. The one Loretta had mailed to her. She already knows what it is going to say, but she has to confirm it.


Kathleen Bundy’s child, John Charles McClintock, was recorded as having O- blood at birth.

Travis’s blood type is O-, not B-, as his own birth certificate states.

She crams all the papers into her purse and sits on the nearby bench. Dropping her head into her hands, she does everything in her power not to cry.


What should Claire do next?
How will Travis react when he learns the truth?
Did Jason overreact to Helen’s questioning?
Talk about it all in the Footprints Forum!

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