Episode #636

- Claire waited for the DNA results to find out whether Spencer is her biological son.
- Travis got into trouble after he confronted Spencer about his treatment of Elly’s roommate and wound up punching him in the middle of the dining hall.
- Samantha accidentally spilled coffee on Miranda, a senior with whom Tori and her friends have been hanging out. When Miranda taunted Sam over it, Tempest leapt to her defense.
- Diane had to bail Natalie out of jail after she assaulted Julian for cheating on her. When they returned to the hotel, Natalie found that she was banned from the premises, while Julian told her that he planned to leave King’s Bay.


The springtime sun has lured the students out of the cafeteria, where they have been trapped for lunch periods all winter long, and out to the quad. A persistent breeze rustles the trees’ leaves and threatens to blow away napkins and paper bags, but it is not enough to detract from the bliss of the long-missing sunshine.

Tori Gray and her two friends follow a stone path along one side of the quad, where several seniors are sitting beside a dense cluster of evergreen trees. Though she has been hanging out with these older girls for weeks, Tori still feels a tightness in her gut every time she goes to meet them-like she might say the wrong thing and screw it all up at any second.

“Hey,” she says to Miranda Kennedy and the rest of the seniors. They nod their heads and murmur greetings, and Tori spreads a sweatshirt on the grass so that she doesn’t get her jeans wet.

Miranda nudges her. “There’s your cousin. Did she say anything about what happened the other day?”

Tori watches Miranda’s index finger poking out, indicating Samantha sitting on a brick ledge and eating her lunch while reading a book. She wishes her cousin would just make more of an effort. She’s always reading or playing on the computer instead of trying to make friends or going to football games and stuff.

“No, I haven’t really seen her since then,” Tori says, feeling that jumping sensation in her stomach again. When Samantha bumped into Miranda and spilled coffee on her at Thaw the other day, Tori felt like she wanted to die. Miranda probably should have been watching where she was going, but Samantha never understands how she should be a little more careful in certain situations… and it only got worse when Tempest had to go and get in Miranda’s face.

She hears Miranda filling in the other girls about how Samantha ruined her pink Ralph Lauren sweater by spilling coffee all over it. Tori tunes back in just in time to hear Miranda say, “Too bad she doesn’t have her little homeless friend to keep her company.”

One of the other girls, Callie, shrugs as she picks at the lettuce in her sandwich. “Whatever. It was probably an accident.”

Tori is relieved to hear someone else say it. With any luck, they can move on and never mention this again. Miranda, however, doesn’t seem so willing to let it go.

“But she was totally rude about it,” Miranda says. “And she was not paying attention to where she was going.” A rough noise scratches out of her throat. “Plus, I was worried that homeless girl was going to punch me or something.” She focuses on Samantha, who is reading her book, totally oblivious to the attention.

Tori attempts to make small talk with the two Fees, but she is only half-able to talk about the movie they watched last night. She can tell that Miranda is contemplating something.

“What do you say we teach her a lesson?” Miranda finally says.

The rest of the girls look at one another, unsure how to answer. Clearly none of them want to shoot down the idea too immediately.

Then it happens: Miranda’s gaze settles firmly upon Tori.

“You won’t rat us out, will you?”

Tori wants to say a lot of things--that maybe this is a bad idea, that they could get in trouble, that Samantha didn’t do anything that terrible--but she knows that any opposition is just going to make her look like a loser. And then Miranda won’t want to hang out with her anymore, and she’ll be relegated to sitting on the perimeter reading books while she eats her lunch all alone.

“No, of course not,” she says, as breezily as she can manage.


The sound of the television--all dramatic musical stings and exclamations--permeates every molecule of air in the condo, challenged only by the sobbing outbursts of the person watching it.

“What a bastard!” Natalie Bishop cries from her station on the couch, where she is wrapped in one of her sister’s blankets. “How can he treat her like this?”

Diane Bishop peers over the kitchen counter. The living room has been like this for days: Natalie’s de facto home base for mourning the end of her relationship with that idiot, Julian St. John.

“Are you seeing this? It’s a tragedy!” Natalie says.

“It’s the Sex and the City movie. I think it all turns out all right in the end.”

Natalie lets out a huff, as if unable to understand how the sight of Mr. Big standing up Carrie Bradshaw on their wedding day has not reduced Diane to tears.

A knock on the door sends Diane moving strategically across the living room, careful to avoid the balled-up Kleenex strewn all over the carpet.

“What the hell is going on in here?” Ryan Moriani asks as Diane lets him in.

“I’m running a halfway house for the tragically single.”

“Natalie is staying with you?”

“She’s banned from the hotel,” Diane says. “She and Bree are staying in Samantha’s room, and Sam is staying with Paula and Bill for a little while.”

Natalie’s tear-stained face falls at the sight of Ryan. “What is he doing here?”

“He and I have some business to go over,” Diane explains. “Just keep watching your movie.”

“What kind of business could the two of you have? Are you working on some new way to ruin my life?”

Diane can tell that her sister is dead serious, and if she weren’t in such a pathetic state, Diane would probably march over to the couch and slap her across the face. As it stands, though, she would prefer not to get snot all over her hand--and it would just mean having to listen to more of Natalie’s crying, anyway.

“Let’s go back here,” Diane tells Ryan, nodding her head toward the master bedroom.

“What the hell are you two up to?” Natalie demands, but they ignore her as they escape down the hallway and close the door.


With her Bluetooth earpiece fixed firmly to her ear, Claire Fisher drives her Honda Accord through the streets of King’s Bay.

“This paper is the last thing I have to do for the semester,” her son’s voice says through a thin haze of static.

“You should be proud,” Claire says. “You’ve had a very good freshman year.”

Travis laughs. “Wait until I get all my grades before you say that.”

“I’m sure you’ll be fine… unless there’s something you aren’t telling me.”

“No, no. I think my grades will be good. I promise.”

“I’m glad to hear that. Do you and Elly have plans tonight? I was thinking of making enchiladas.”

“Oh…” An awkward silence falls over the line, and for a moment, Claire wonders if she has lost the connection. But then Travis speaks up. “I think we have a thing tonight.”

“A thing?”

“A study session. With some kids from Elly’s floor.”

Claire processes that as she slows to a stop at a red light. “Studying for what? I thought you said your paper was all you had left for the semester.”

“Oh, I, uh, it’s Elly’s thing…”

She can tell that something is amiss. His free, open attitude of a minute ago is gone, replaced by this stilted conversation that can mean only one thing: he is hiding something.

“What’s going on, Travis?” she asks, careful to keep her tone calm so that he does not feel pressured and clam up. He has matured a lot in the past year, but he is still the son she raised.

“It’s nothing. We just can’t make dinner tonight. That’s all.”

The light turns green, and Claire focuses on accelerating the car through the intersection while she tries to pick her next words. “You can tell me if something’s going on, or if you just aren’t up for coming over tonight.”

“It isn’t that.” She can almost hear him thinking over the line. “It’s that jerk, Spencer.”

Hearing Travis speak Spencer’s name sends a chill coursing through Claire’s body. Even as she tells herself that it is an irrational thought, she wonders if Travis could know the truth--or what could be the truth, what she is waiting for the DNA results to confirm.

“What about him?” she asks as evenly as she can.

“He was being a di-- an idiot, and he picked a fight with me. Totally goaded me into hitting him.”

“What? When did this happen?”

“A few weeks ago. Don’t worry. I just got written up for it… so I have to do a bunch of community service hours.”

“Travis…” Claire’s hands feel shaky on the steering wheel. “You can’t go around punching people, no matter how much they might provoke you.” In any other situation, she would be telling him that adamantly, desperate to drill the lesson into him; right now, however, she is just saying whatever comes to mind in order not to tip him off.

“Why would he pick a fight with you?” she asks.

“To get under my skin. Because he’s psycho. I don’t know.” Another beat passes before he adds, “He was a jerk to Elly’s roommate, and I was trying to stand up for her.”

“Thanks for being honest with me,” she says, her hands sliding over the wheel as she makes a right turn. “But please, please try not to get into any more trouble. No one is worth ruining your college career over, no matter how irritating they might be.”

“I know. I’m trying. He’s just so…”

He cannot find the proper word to complete the sentence, and for that, Claire is glad. She is beginning to think that the less she knows about Spencer Ragan--and the less they all have to do with him--the better.


After lunch, Samantha goes to her fifth-period pre-calculus class. Once it lets out, she crosses campus on her way to her British Lit class and stops by her locker to pick up her paper on William Blake. Upon turning into the locker bay, she notices something unusual.

She nears her locker and sees that the object on its door is a black garbage bag, held up by tape. With no idea why this would be here, she tears it down and is about to enter her locker combination when she notices the note taped up behind the garbage bag:

You might need that!

A wave of discomfort passes over her. She cannot figure out what that is supposed to mean, but the whole thing is awkward and uncomfortable. Probably someone pulling a prank that isn’t even funny or clever. Anyway, she doesn’t have time to puzzle over it, because she has to get to class.

As soon as she enters the locker combination and begins to open the door, however, she realizes that the garbage bag was only the beginning of it.

The stench assaults her as soon as the door is cracked. It smells putrid and dirty and… wet. Somehow she can smell the disgusting dampness of it all, even without seeing it. Cringing, she opens the locker door all the way and sees a mass of garbage dumped all over the inside. Used napkins, discarded cups, and mysterious seeping liquids fill her locker.

She doesn’t even know how to react. Part of her wants to cry, as her mind does a quick evaluation of anything that was in there that might be damaged. It is pretty much just books and papers, but she needs a lot of them for the remaining month of school. And her paper for next period--

Covering her hand with the garbage bag, she fishes for the folder containing the paper. Some brown liquid, probably soda or maybe coffee, stains the outside of the folder, and the inside is just as messy. The whole thing stinks. She drops it on the floor, knowing that she will have to bring it to class and at least show it to her teacher to prove that she did the paper.

She is vaguely aware of other students in the locker bay watching her and reacting to the stench. She hears a few muffled laughs and whispers behind her.

As hurriedly as she can, she scoops the garbage out of her locker and gets as much of it into the plastic bag as possible. Everything left in her locker is soaked and filthy. A browning banana peel misses the bag and nearly lands on top of her foot. Instead it hits the floor with a disgusting smack.

Tears sting the backs and outsides of her eyes as she hears a boy say, “That’s fucking gross.”

She wants to turn around and yell at him, “Of course it’s gross! Do you think I keep garbage in my locker for fun? You probably did this, didn’t you?” But she bites her tongue and fights back the tears. Leaving a mess on the floor outside her locker, and feeling a little bad for the janitor who will probably have to deal with it, she picks up the soggy folder with two fingers and leaves the locker bay.

As she is tossing the garbage bag into a trashcan, still quite aware of all the students watching her, she wonders which of them did this. A moment later, though, all doubt disappears. She sees that girl Miranda standing with her friends over on the edge of the quad. In between bouts of self-congratulatory giggling, they steal glances over at Samantha. And Tori is with them--not laughing, from what Samantha sees, but still…

The bell rings, and she nervously realizes that she is going to be late to British Lit. She hopes the teacher will understand when she shows him the folder.

As much as she would rather not think about it, she realizes that she knows what must have happened. Because Tori is the only person at this school who has her locker combination.


“…very careful…”


“…over the Pass…”

Little bits and pieces of Diane and Ryan’s private conversation float through the bedroom door, until--no matter how hard she attempts to ignore the tantalizing scraps--Natalie can no longer consider it a private conversation at all. It probably has something to do with their stupid marriage, Natalie thinks, as she once again wonders how she and Julian came to King’s Bay engaged to be married and now her sister the one who’s married instead.

Distracted from her movie, Natalie rises from the couch, with the blanket still wrapped around her, and creeps down the short hallway to the master bedroom. She stands at the closed door and, sure enough, hears even more fragments of whatever Diane and Ryan are discussing in there.


“…don’t mention…”


That last one catches Natalie off-guard. Nowhere in this entire situation has prison entered into the equation. Maybe there is something even deeper going on between those two.

Her opportunity to dig up more information, however, is cut short by a whole bunch of sudden movement inside the room. Natalie recognizes it as the prelude to the door being opened, and sure enough, she has barely enough time to dart into the kitchen before the door opens and Ryan emerges, followed by Diane.

“You two are being awfully secretive,” Natalie says. Might as well put them on the defensive.

“It’s none of your business,” Diane snaps.

“Yeah, well, the last time you two got mixed up in some stupid scheme, it ruined my wedding trip.”

Diane gives her usual Diane response: a drop of the chin and a look as though she were peering over a pair of invisible glasses.

“You and Julian still could’ve gotten married,” Ryan says. “The fact that he kept putting it off should have been a sign.”

“You stole our thunder!” Natalie says.

“Oh, god.” Ryan waves a hand to dismiss her. “You’re better off without him. Believe me.”

Natalie glowers at him. “That’s easy for you to say. You have a wife and a fiancée.”

“Ignore her,” Diane says, stepping in front of Ryan. “Listen, let me know when you hear back.”

“Will do.” He moves to the door and pulls it open. “Keep your fingers crossed,” he says to Diane before leaving.

As soon as the door closes behind him, Natalie moves out from behind the kitchen counter, toward her sister. “What’s going on? Are you two up to something?”

“It has absolutely nothing to do with you. Now clean up this mess,” Diane says, gesturing at the Kleenex littering the living room floor.

Natalie decides not to push her luck, given that Diane is putting her up and that she is no longer allowed to set foot inside the only nice hotel in this stupid city. She walks through the living room, hunched over and picking up used tissues. She can still feel the dried tears on her face, making the skin taut and sticky.

It is Diane and Ryan’s fault that everything got so screwed up with Julian. If not for them and their plots, Julian would have married her in Las Vegas, and she wouldn’t be stuck here now, moping around her stupid sister’s condo and sleeping in a full-sized bed with her daughter.

Whatever the two of them were discussing in that bedroom… I’m going to find out. And I’m going to make them pay, she vows as she chucks the collection of tissues into the trashcan.


Is Natalie going to cause problems for Diane and Ryan?
What should Samantha do about Tori and her friends?
Will this new information about Spencer influence Claire?
Talk about all this in the Footprints Forum!

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