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- After Sarah's shooting at the bookstore, Jimmy went to the hospital with Brent. Jimmy and Claire realized that they are far more connected than they realized. Later, Claire and Brent put their rift behind them and resolved to be friends again. 
- Travis made another plea for Elly to forgive him, but she wouldn't budge. 
- After Tori showed him the letter that Sarah wrote and threw in the trash, Matt broke up with Danielle and went to see Sarah. He told her that he's in love with her and doesn't want to be with anyone else, and he doesn't want them to keeping making the same mistakes. The exes shared a kiss that seemed to seal their reunion. 


Rain pummels the roof and windows as she leads him into the kitchen.

"What's going on?" she asks, leaning against the countertop. 

His jaw shifts and his lips start to move, but no words come out of the man's mouth for a long moment.

"This seems serious," she says as something tightens in the pit of her stomach.

"I just want to talk."

"Matt. Come on. You never just want to talk." Danielle Taylor tries to infuse the comment with humor, adds a wry grin just to put him at ease, but inside, she is twisting up. Something is wrong. 

Danielle listens to the rain outside as she waits for him to explain himself.  

"It's about us," he finally blurts out.

She wishes she were more shocked, but in a way, she already knew this was coming. She didn't even realize it until this moment. "What about us?"



Elly Vanderbilt's voice jolts Danielle out of her memory. Her immediate instinct is to slap a smile on her face, but as she catches a glimpse of herself in the mirror, she sees how fake it looks. Instead she focuses on Elly, who has just entered her bedroom.

"You look beautiful," Danielle says, taking in the sight of her daughter in the navy-and-white printed dress she is going to wear to graduation. Her hair is styled with a slight curl, and her makeup is more pronounced than usual; it's just enough that it forces Danielle to see Elly as a grown woman, not the teenager to whom she has become so accustomed. 

"It's not too much, is it?"

"No! You look great." Danielle steps forward and gives her a warm hug. 

  Danielle Taylor

"Are you doing all right?" Elly asks, taking a step back. 

Danielle waves her hand haphazardly through the air. "This is your day."

"That's not really an answer."

"I'm fine," Danielle insists. "How are you holding up?"

Elly shrugs. "Okay, I guess. This just isn't how I expected graduation day to be."

"You know what I've learned? Nothing is ever the way you expected it to be. Ever. Better to learn that lesson now rather than later."

"Yeah." Elly smooths her dress and perches on the edge of Danielle's beige bedspread. "I always thought Travis and I would be celebrating together. We've been together literally all of college."

Danielle nods as she considers her next words very carefully.

"Are you reconsidering things?" she asks. 

Elly shakes her head, but it's a stunted movement, one that takes a few seconds to get going. 

"What's to reconsider? I feel like I can't trust him."

"People do make mistakes…"

"I know. But something's changed--I can feel it. I don't know if there's any way to get it back to the way it used to be."

Danielle takes a seat beside her and offers a sympathetic smile. "I wish I had an answer for you."

"It's okay. That's not your job."

"It feels like it should be." She wraps an arm around the young woman. "I'm so proud of you. I remember looking at you when you were just a few minutes old. You were so tiny. And I knew what I had to do for you--I knew that Tom and Melanie would be the best parents you could ask for, better than I could have been. I knew it was right, but it still hurt so much. So to get to be here with you today, seeing you so grown-up…"

Danielle trails off. Even if she did know how to put this feeling into words, she's too choked up to get them out. 

Instead, Elly simply rests her head on her shoulder. And right now, that feels like all the communication either of them needs. 


A humongous white tent covers the quad at the center of campus, shielding the stage and the rows upon rows of chairs from the shining sun. 

"God, it's so damn hot," Travis Fisher says as he and his roommate trudge over one of the congested walking paths that wind through campus. 

"That's why I'm a genius and you're a sucker," Landon Esco says.

Travis rolls his eyes as he swings around to face Landon. His royal blue graduation gown billows around him as he turns. "Don't remind me."

"Hey, man. Just being smart. While you're overheating under there, I'm gonna be…" Landon pulls his gown up just enough so that Travis can see his bare knees.

"Don't you dare!"

"…breathing free." Landon lets the gown fall again.

"I do not need to see you in those Pokemon boxers again," Travis says as they continue walking. "Now where the hell are my parents?"

They stop and scan the crowd. Finally, Landon smacks Travis on the arm and points. Travis sees his father waving from the edge of the quad, and the two boys hurry over.

"Happy graduation day," Tim says as he claps an arm around Travis. He reaches out to shake Landon's hand. "Congratulations, Landon."

"Don't congratulate him yet," Travis says. "There's still time for them to haul him offstage for being the King's Bay Flasher."

"Do I want to know?" Claire asks.

Travis shakes his head. "No. Hi, Mom." Claire comes forward and gives him a hug; there is something tentative about it, which is not lost on Travis. He feels kind of guilty knowing that she feels so awkward around her son on the day of his graduation--but then again, it's a lot more complicated than that. He does feel a thrill at the thought that he's here, receiving his diploma today, and Spencer is not. 

"Are Grandma and Grandpa here?" Travis asks.

"They went to reserve seats," Tim says. "Landon, where are your parents?"

"They came by our room a little while ago," Landon explains. "They wanted to go get coffee before the ceremony." 

Travis hears the exchange from a distance, like a conversation between two strangers sitting a nearby table at a restaurant. He is too busy sweeping his gaze over the quad, looking for any sign of her. He is still searching when he feels a hand drop down on his shoulder.

"Try and enjoy your day, dude," Landon says. "We made it! We're done with school forever."

"I'm trying," Travis says, not even convincing himself. 

Tim sidles up right next to his son. "Thinking about Elly?"

"Yeah." Travis spares a glance at his dad before he resumes his search. "I tried to talk to her outside one of her finals, but she wouldn't even give me the time of day."

"I'm sorry, buddy."

"So am I." Travis lets out a sigh. 

"Today is the beginning of the rest of your life," Tim says. "If Elly's a part of that, fantastic. And if not--you have a lot of years and a lot of great things to look forward to. Don't forget that."

  Tim Fisher

"Doesn't seem like it."

"It will. I promise." 

But as they stand there, lost in a sea of blue caps and gowns, Travis doesn't see how that could possibly happen.


Danielle waits at the edge of the parking lot, cell phone in hand, as bodies swarm all around her. The campus is absolutely packed today, and there is an unmistakable surge of excitement in the air. She wishes that she could simply take pride in her daughter's great accomplishment today, rather than keep having to fight off the nagging sense of disappointment that threatens to overtake her. 

Finally, the shuttle from the off-site parking pulls up, and her brother steps down off the bus, taking extra care as he places the foot of his prosthetic leg on the pavement.

"I feel like I just went on a trek across the Alps," Brent Taylor says as he greets Danielle.

"I know. It's crazy. Thanks for coming."

"Of course. I want to be here for Elly--and for you." He tilts his head compassionately. "How are you holding up?"

"I'm fine," she says, as if by rote. 

"You sure about that?"

She nods insistently. "Yes. And I went to a meeting yesterday, in case you're wondering, which I know you are."

"Okay, good. I know you've got this down by now."

"I do. So Matt broke up with me. It isn't the end of the world. I've been through worse. I'll be bummed out for a few days, but I'll survive. I'm definitely not going to lose my sobriety over that."

"If anyone can handle something like this, it's my sister," he says. "I just wish you didn't have to."

"Me, too. But that's life, right?" She feels as though saying it enough times, declaring that this isn't a big deal in the grand scheme of things, will eventually make that thought a reality.

Brent shrugs. "Unfortunately, yeah. But if you want to talk about anything, come to me. Okay?"

"Deal. Now how about we try and get through this crowd before it turns into a riot?"

"I think we might be too late for that," Brent says with a laugh as he takes her arm and leads the way. 


The plates inside the dishwasher clatter as Sarah Fisher closes the door with her foot.

"Whoa, watch it," Matt Gray says from his seat at the kitchen table.

"Sorry. I'm just a little excited that I can actually move again. This is the first time since I got shot that I don't feel like a total zombie."

"You're sure that's the only reason?" Matt asks, rising from his chair and wrapping his arms around her waist.

Sarah grins. "Maybe. Maybe not."

"Lemme see." Matt plants a kiss on her lips. Though he intends it to be a quick peck, there is something magnetic about her, something drawing them together. It is several more seconds before they come up for air.

"This is nice," Matt says. "And thanks for breakfast."

  Sarah Fisher

"My pleasure." Sarah stares into his face for a long, quiet moment. "You're sure Tori had no idea you were coming here?"

"She's an 18-year-old girl. You think she's thinking about where I am as long as I'm not bugging her?"

"Good point."

"I told her I was going to the restaurant to set up for the graduation party," Matt says, his fingers brushing along the small of her back. "I just sorta left out the part where I was coming here first." 

"When do you have to get to the restaurant?" she asks. 

He glances at the clock on the microwave. "I should get going soon. Even though I really don't wanna…" He toys with the bottom of her white t-shirt, slipping his fingers beneath it just enough to touch the soft skin of her waist.

"You need to stop doing that, or I'm not going to let you leave," she says with a smile. 

"I might be willing to take that risk." He brushes her dark blonde hair aside and nuzzles his lips against her neck.

"We're going to have to tell everyone at some point," she says.

"You think?"

Sarah lets out a giggle as he tickles the sensitive spot on her neck--the spot he hasn't forgotten how to find, even after all this time. 

"I do," she manages to say before their lips meet again. The kiss grows heated and passionate--the kind of kiss that is not likely to stop there.

Suddenly Sarah pulls back and thumps a hand against his chest. "Okay. Go to work."

Matt frowns. "Do I have to?"

"I guess." She gives him one more quick kiss. "I'll see you at the party."

"Maybe sneak back into the kitchen to pay me a little private visit?"

"Maybe," she says with a wink. "If you play your cards right."


"I think that's your call," Samantha Fisher says after a half-comprehensible voice makes some kind of announcement over the P.A. system.

"You sure?" Travis asks.

Samantha references the time on her phone. "They said you guys are supposed to line up in the Rose Garden at 11:40, right?"

Travis shrugs. "Yeah. I think."

"Just go, then!" his sister urges him.

"You might as well just go," Tim says. "Come on. The sooner we get this ceremony over with, the sooner we get to party." He sticks his index fingers up and does what Claire recognizes all too well as his standard wedding dance.

"I'm going before anyone sees me near you doing that," Travis says. He heads toward the end of the quad, grabbing Landon away from a chat with the Escos along his way.

"I suppose we should find your parents and sit down," Claire says. 

Tim and Samantha agree, and the trio makes its way under the tent. But they are still searching for the spot that Bill texted them about when they see a group of familiar faces at the end of the row. There is a lengthy moment of hesitation, as if everyone has fallen under the power of a spell, before Tim bridges the divide.

"Congratulations, guys," he says as he approaches Danielle, Brent, and Jimmy

"You, too," Danielle says as they all shake hands. 

Claire eyes Jimmy nervously. He's more dressed-up than she has ever seen him, in a loose-fitting white button-down shirt that he has actually tucked into some khaki pants. He leans in and gives her a stilted hug.

"Good to see you," he says quietly.

"You, too." 

He keeps his face close to her ear as he continues, "Maybe we can hang out later. I'll give you a call."

"Yeah. Okay."

Jimmy pulls back, smiling.

"Where are all the other Fishers?" Danielle asks.

"My parents are saving seats," Tim says. "We couldn't swing tickets for the whole crew, though. We're having a party for the whole family at my dad's restaurant--you guys are welcome to come by--"

"Thanks," Danielle says, "but I'm not sure that's the best idea, considering…" Her hand gesture implies everything about Travis and Elly that needs to be said. 

While Tim, Danielle, and Jimmy continue talking--something about how Elly's adoptive parents, Tom and Melanie, are holding seats in an area that Danielle can't find--Claire pulls Brent aside.

"Can I ask you something?" she says.

He sticks his hands in the pockets of his navy trousers. "Shoot."

"It's about Jimmy. He's not… is he a good guy? That whole thing at the bookstore--you and he were working together, right?"

"Not a lot I can say about that, since the charges are still pending."

"Okay. Yeah."

"But… I can tell you this much: there are no charges being pressed against Jimmy."

Claire nods. "All right. Thanks." She lets out a sigh. "It's just that I've been burned before by that kind of thing."

"I remember. Very well," Brent says with a resigned little laugh. "Things okay between you and Travis?"

"Actually, yeah." She slips into an empty row so a group of people can pass by. "Things are getting better. I just hope it stays that way."

"You deserve a break."

"Tell that to the universe," she says. "But thanks. It's really good to be able to talk to you again."

"Same. I've missed you, Claire."

"You, too." She smiles at her friend, daring to hope that perhaps the mess that her life has become is finally starting to straighten itself out. 


"I see them," Paula Fisher tells her husband.

Bill scans the sea of indistinguishable bodies filling the tent. "Where?"

Paula takes his hand and helps him to his feet. She points to a spot near the front of the tent. "There. That's Brent, isn't it? He's talking to Claire."

Leaving her husband to save their seats, Paula winds her way through the hordes of people. She sees Tim and Danielle, too, and hurries along as best she can. It is only when she is right near them that she catches sight of someone else.

It takes her a moment to place the face. But when she does, she can hardly process what she is seeing.

"There you are," she says as she reaches out for Tim's sleeve. Paula greets Danielle and congratulates her on Elly's achievement, and then she tells her son, "Your father and I are over there." She points to their seats, where Bill is waving his arms.

"Perfect. We'll be right over," Tim says.

As they step aside, waiting for Claire to finish her conversation, Paula leans in closer to Tim. "Claire brought a date with her? That seems awfully tacky. She could have used the extra ticket for another member of the family. I'm sure Tempest would have loved to come, no?"

"Date?" Tim says, confused. 

"Yes." Paula adopts a whisper as she explains, "That's the man I saw coming out of the shower at her apartment!" 

Tim looks around. "Wait. Jimmy?"

"That one. Yes."

"He isn't here as Claire's date," Tim says quietly. "He's Elly's father."

"Excuse me?"

"That guy. He's Elly's biological father. He moved to King's Bay last year. You're sure that's the guy you saw at Claire's?"

"I'm positive," she says, "though of course he's wearing more than just a towel this time. But yes. That's him." 

Before either can say anything more, Claire and Brent turn to them. 

"Paula. Hi," Brent says. "How's Sarah doing?"

"She's much better. Thank you. I was at her house last night. She's seeming like her old self again."

"That's a huge relief," he says. 

"Thanks for saving our seats," Claire tells Paula. There is still a chill between the women, the same one that has been there since Paula found Jimmy at Claire's apartment. Paula can tell that Claire is trying to be cordial, though, and this day is not about them. It's about Travis. So, for the time being, Paula decides not to say anything about Claire's choice of romantic partners.

"Of course," she says instead. "Now why don't we get to our seats?"


"Esco. Ettinger. Farhad. Ferris. Fisher…"

The Student Activities coordinator checks off the students one by one as they stand in line in their blue caps and gowns. The line winds around and out of the campus's elegant Rose Garden as late arrivals shuffle to find their places. 

Once he has been marked off, Travis reaches forward and pokes Landon in the shoulder.

"I'll be right back," Travis says.

"You have to go take a leak? Bad timing," Landon says.

  Travis Fisher

"No! God. I just have to go do something."

"Well, don't take too long or you're gonna miss walking."

Travis waves off the warning and steps out of line. He moves to the outside of the line-up and jogs toward the end of it, past the arches that mark the entrance of the garden. He finds Elly standing alone, already in place; apparently she doesn't know anyone toward the end of the alphabet. 

"Hey," he says, a little tentatively. 

"Hi. Happy graduation, Travis."

"You, too. Look, I was hoping we could talk--"

She sighs, but it sounds more exhausted than annoyed. "Talk about what?"

"Us. I don't know. Everything." He looks around, a little self-conscious that there are so many people nearby and that a few of the students are clearly eavesdropping on them. "I always thought we'd be, you know, celebrating together today. It's weird not to even talk to you." 

"I know. It is."

"My family's having a party at my grandpa's restaurant after the ceremony. Maybe you and your parents could come."

Her pause before responding is all the answer he needs.

"I don't know if that's a good idea," she says.

"Elly. How long is this gonna go on? I screwed up so badly, and I'm so sorry. But I miss you, and I will do whatever it takes to make it up to you. I swear." He has a head of steam built up now, and he doesn't care who can hear him. "It was so stupid and selfish of me to throw that application away. But it was like… I just found out my parents weren't my parents. You, of all people, know how screwed up that can make everything seem. And there was this other kid who was supposed to have my life, and he was everywhere, and--I just couldn't even think about losing you, too."

She nods thoughtfully. He feels that she is actually hearing him, really taking in what he has to say. Maybe there is hope after all.

"I understand why you did it," she says. "I really do. I'm sorry you felt that way, or feel that way. It must be horrible."


The many speakers positioned throughout campus begin to play "Pomp & Circumstance." 

"I want to forgive you," she continues. "And I will. Maybe I do already."


"Yeah. But that doesn't mean…"

"It could."

She shakes her head. 

"Why not?"

"I got into Stanford Law School," she says. "I'm going in the fall."

"That's amazing. Congratulations."


He reaches for her hand. She lets him take it, but there is something cold about her grip. It isn't even a grip, really. 

"We can make that work," he says. "I can fly down, or--I don't even have a job lined up here. Maybe I can come down there--"

"Travis. No."

She pulls her hand away.

"I can forgive you, but I can't forget what happened," she says. "I don't know how to go back to trusting you. And law school is such a huge opportunity. I need to… I think it's time for a fresh start."

He doesn't know whether he wants to fold in on himself and disappear or just start smashing things. 

"Why are you doing this?" he asks.

"I'm not doing anything besides living my own life. You should do the same."

"You are my life."

"No. I'm not."

Suddenly Travis is very aware of all the eyeballs planted on them. 

"Underhill, Underwood, Utada, Vance, Vanderbilt…"

Elly gets checked off by the coordinator and then turns back to Travis. 

"You should get back in line," she says.


As "Pomp & Circumstance" continues to play, Travis trudges back through the arches and toward his place in the line-up, fighting back the sting of tears the entire time. Today was supposed to be a celebration of the past four years and a look toward a wide-open future… all it feels like to him is a sentence to a life that he doesn't want to face.


How can Travis pick up the pieces of his life?
Will Danielle really be okay with this breakup?
When will Sarah and Matt share their news?
Talk about it all in the Footprints Forum now!

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

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