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- After confirming to Spencer that she is his biological mother, Claire collapsed. She was rushed to the hospital. Upon awakening, she summoned Tim and Travis to the hospital. She told Tim the truth about Travis and Spencer having been switched as infants by her late father.
- Spencer intercepted Travis and told him the truth. Travis ran to Elly to seek solace, leaving Tim and Claire panicked about his whereabouts. Finally, though, they were able to reach him on the phone.

KB Memorial Hospital

Tim and Claire Fisher huddle around the cell phone. For all they care, the world might as well not exist outside this two-foot radius at the moment.

“Just tell me the truth,” Travis’s voice says over the line. “I’m not your son, am I?”

Claire’s eyes drift upward from the phone and find Tim’s already locked upon her, asking a silent question: What’s the right answer?

“It’s true,” she says, but before Travis can even begin to respond, she presses onward: “You are our son. Not biologically, but you’re our son. This changes nothing.”

“It changes everything,” comes the disembodied voice over the line.

“Where are you?” Tim asks. “Let me come to you.”

“I’m fine. I’m with Elly.” A heavy breath crackles across the weak cellular connection. “How? Just tell me how. Did my grandfather do this?”

Claire feels her hand shaking as she holds the phone. “Yes. When he took you--” She has to stop herself. “When he took our baby from the hospital, the child we got back was you. And you have been our son since that day. The biology of it makes no difference.”

“But it does make a difference,” Travis says. “Who… where did I come from? Do you even know? Does anyone?”

“I found the woman who gave birth to you,” Claire says. She can’t bring herself to use the word mother in reference to anyone but herself right now. “When I was trying to find out if it was true, I found her name and went to see her.”

“How long have you known?!”

Claire can feel Tim’s gaze burning into her the same way Travis’s voice just did, all but accusing her of having some hand in this conspiracy.

“This is what Loretta wanted,” she says. “There was no way I could have brought this up without looking into it first--but looking into it was so complicated and confusing, and by the time I knew for sure--”

“I don’t want to talk about this right now,” Travis says, his voice as distant as the young man himself seems. And then it comes: the barely perceptible click and a shift in the tone of the air. Claire glances at the screen to confirm what she already knows--that he has hung up on them.

“I’ll try him again,” she says.

“Don’t bother. I’m going to find him,” Tim says as he heads for the door.


In an alcove down the hall, Brent Taylor holds a digital recorder in his hand.

“So you were in the hallway with your brother and Claire when the fire started?” Brent asks.

“Yeah.” Spencer Ragan glances up and down the hallway and then abruptly bolts to his feet. “Shouldn’t I, like, have an attorney present for this?”

Brent maintains his calm as he tilts his head. “Do you need one?”

“I don’t know. Do I?”

“I’m taking a statement, Spencer,” Brent says. “Trying to save you a trip to the station or a visit from an officer, since I know you have a lot of other stuff going on. But if there’s more to that fire…”

“No! Can I do this some other time?”

“If you’d like. Sure.” Under normal circumstances, Brent would have a lot less patience for an entitled college kid making it this difficult to take a simple statement. But he understands the enormity of what Spencer learned tonight; it must be incredibly confusing, especially for a young man raised with such a skewed view of the world already.

  Spencer Ragan

Spencer begins to bolt, but he pauses--involuntarily, it appears--when he sees Tim coming down the hall toward them.

“Could we talk for a minute?” Tim awkwardly asks this young man--this virtual stranger who is actually his child.

Spencer’s jaw clenches tightly. “About what?”

“Just give me a minute,” Tim says.

With a backward glance toward Brent, Spencer shrugs his shoulder. “Sure. Fine.”

Brent takes that as his cue and stands, putting away the recorder. “Is Claire still in her room? I should check in with her.”

“Yeah, she is,” Tim says.

Brent makes a quick exit, leaving the sudden father and son to attempt some kind of beginning together.


Travis Fisher spikes his phone onto the bed. It bounces once on top of the mattress, flips over, and lands face-down atop the comforter.

“What happened?” Elly Vanderbilt asks. She stands nearby, her arms hanging at her sides uselessly. She has the sense that, no matter what she does, there is nothing that could possibly make this better for Travis.

“My mom knew. She knew long enough to do a blood test, get the results, keep it to herself… and tell Philip. But not me.”

“I don’t think she did it to hurt you.”

“No! She didn’t do anything for me. She had this huge piece of information and kept it a secret because she didn’t want to deal with it--even though the person it really affects is me.”

Elly swallows a whole series of words before she finds some that she thinks will be okay: “From what you’ve told me about your grandfather--”

“He wasn’t my grandfather! None of them are my family--not my mother, not my father, not my sister. How fucking weird is that?” Travis balls up his fists, and for a second, Elly thinks he is going to put at least one of them through the wall, but instead he just swings at the air and then collapses onto the bed.

  Travis Fisher

Elly sits down beside him and slips an arm around his waist. Travis doesn’t pull away.

“When I found out I was adopted, my mom and dad--Tom and Melanie--they didn’t stop being my mom and dad,” she says.

“But you were mad at them. That’s why you ran away.”

“Yeah. And because I needed to see Danielle and hear it from her. And now… I know this sounds corny… but I have two sets of parents.”

“How do you do that? How do you get to be okay with it?” he asks.

“It takes time, and adjusting, and… not pushing people away.” She squeezes his shoulder. “Tim and Claire love you. They are your parents.”

“But I don’t even know who my real parents are,” he says. “You knew who Danielle was. You loved her already. I’m, like--some stranger or something.”

“I didn’t know Jimmy until a few months ago, but I’m getting to know him. We’re not super-close yet, but it’s still going well. I know this is a total shock, and it’s crazy, but you’re going to get through this. I’m going to help you.”

Travis turns to look at her, then closes his eyes and leans his head against her. “You’re the only one who understands.”


“We don’t have anything to talk about,” Spencer says, blowing quickly past Tim.

Tim grabs him by the arm. The movement is involuntary--a reflex borne of a need to have this conversation, a conversation, right now--but its gravity surprises both of them and freezes them in place. It occurs to Tim that he just grabbed Spencer like he was familiar, like he was family.

“Sorry,” he says as he drops his grip. “I know this is a big shock--”

“Is that why you gave me that internship?” Spencer asks. His green eyes radiate intensity. “Is that why you stopped to help me with my flat tire that night? Because you knew I was your kid and you felt, what, guilty?”

“Spencer, I just found out.”

Tim sees the shift. It is subtle, just a softening in Spencer’s posture, really, but it’s the opening Tim needs.

“I had no idea until I walked into Claire’s hospital room today,” he says. “If I’d known…” He hesitates for a split-second, wondering if there is a world in which Claire’s choice would have been the one he made. “I would have told you immediately.”

Spencer shakes his head, but it’s more like he is trying to ward off reality than simply denying what Tim has said. “This is all so fucked-up. If you expect me to start calling you ‘Dad’--”

“I don’t expect anything. But we can’t deny facts. And I really did enjoy having you work with me at Vision. We have a lot to figure out, but I’d like to try.”

“I can’t do this right now.” Spencer turns to walk away, then wheels back around. “I don’t know what kind of game you and Claire are playing, but I’m not playing along. Sorry.”

The young man storms off, and Tim resists the urge to chase after him, at least right this second. He knows how much trouble he is having processing this shock, and he’s a grown man whose whole identity hasn’t just been pulled out from under him. The one thing he does know, as he watches his son’s back disappear down the corridor and then around a corner, is that he is not going to lose any more time with his son.


The only thing Claire knows for certain is that she can’t stay in this hospital room, doing absolutely nothing while her family crumbles. She changes out of the hospital gown and back into her own clothes, and she is zipping up her purse when there is a knock on the door. It cracks open, and Brent Taylor peeks his head in.

“How are you doing?” he asks in a tone that suggests he already knows the answer.

“So you heard.”

“Yeah. I ran into Philip and Spencer outside.”

Claire shakes her head. “Every part of it was horrible. That isn’t how I wanted either of the boys to find out. Or Tim.”

“It’s done now. All you can do is move forward.”

“I should have come clean a long time ago,” she says, looking as though she didn’t even hear what he said. “I was just too scared. I knew it would cause such a mess. And I think there was a part of me that wanted to believe that if I kept it to myself, it didn’t have to be real.”

  Claire Fisher

“Don’t do this to yourself,” Brent says.

“I’m the one who did this!” She slings the purse over her shoulder. “I ran that blood test and then didn’t tell anyone what I knew. If I had, maybe it could’ve been less painful for everyone--”

“Claire, you had your reasons. I think a lot of people would have reacted the way you did. God knows I didn’t know how you were supposed to even begin telling everyone the truth.”

“You knew, too?”

The voice comes from the doorway. Both Claire and Brent look over and see Tim standing there, only half in the room, his face slack with both surprise and disappointment.

“You, Philip, Brent,” Tim says, his stare fixed upon Claire. “Is there anyone who didn’t know the truth? Anyone besides me and our sons, I mean?”

She makes a move toward her ex-husband. “Tim. Brent only found out because of our investigation into Loretta--”

“I don’t want to hear it.” Tim gives each of them one last disgusted look. “I don’t want to hear anything from you anymore, all right?”

As Tim blows out of the room, Claire knows that she shouldn’t follow him. Her eyes meet Brent’s, but neither of them moves nor says a word, because they both know that there is nothing either can do right now to make this any better.


Will Travis ever feel close to his parents again?
Will Claire’s family be able to trust her after this?
Will Tim be able to get through to Spencer?
Discuss all this and more in the Footprints Forum!

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Sat., March 23, 2013

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