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- Spencer worried that someone would figure out that he--not Philip--was driving the car that crashed into Molly's house. 
- Sarah and Matt told their family and friends that they are back together. 
- Travis, upset about his complicated ongoing family dynamics, turned to Ryan for advice. Ryan suggested that it might be time for Travis to seek out his biological parents. 


Claire Fisher straightens the floral arrangement on the dining room table one last time after she hears the knock at the door--but then, upon considering the flowers once more, she decides they look too staged and quickly musses them up a little before she answers the door.

"Hi!" she says, opening her arms somewhat tentatively in the hopes that her son will reach out for a hug. Travis does, and Claire relishes the moment.

"I was so glad you called," she says as she shows him into the apartment. "If you haven't had lunch yet… I made some tomato soup and grilled cheese. It seemed fitting since it's so gloomy outside." She glances at the table and again wonders if everything looks too staged, too fussy. All she wanted to do was make things nice for his visit.

"Sounds good. I'm starving," he says, and she breathes a quiet sigh of relief.

"Great. Let me get everything ready."

  Claire Fisher

She moves into the small kitchen to transfer the piping hot soup from the pot into two bowls. The inviting aroma of the tomato and basil soothes her nerves ever so slightly.

"So what did you want to talk about?" she asks as she ladles the soup. "It sounded kind of serious."

"It is," Travis says as he hangs his fleece jacket on the back of a chair and then sits down at the table. "But it's not bad. Don't worry."

"Well, that's a relief." She delivers the bowls of soup and returns to take the sandwiches out of the warming drawer. "What's going on, then?"

Travis shifts around in his chair. Claire pauses, taking note of how nervous he seems.

"You said it isn't something bad," she says.

"It's not. It's just weird."

She waits, instinctively holding her breath.

"Remember how you said you and Uncle Brent met my… my birth mom or whatever?" Travis says.

"Yes. She lives in Tacoma."

"Okay. Well, I think I want to meet her, too."

Vision Publishing

Spencer Ragan hurries into the reception area, his body filled with equal parts excitement and dread. He was down in the mailroom when his supervisor received a phone call summoning him to the front desk; it is unusual for someone on his level to get a personal call like that, so his mind has been churning since the moment he started for the elevator. He makes his way over to the front desk.

"What's up, Lily?" he asks the receptionist, a cute Asian girl whom he might consider hot if she dropped 20 pounds or he had about that many beers in his system. "Do I have a package?"

"You have a visitor." Lily points to a cluster of chairs, where Spencer finds a woman on her feet, waiting for him.

"Hi, Spencer," Paula Fisher says. When Spencer doesn't approach her to close the gap between them, Paula takes it upon herself to do so.

"Hi. Do you want me to get Tim for you?"

"No. I came to see you." She nods for him to step further away from the desk, and Spencer is so conscious of Lily's presence that he follows her toward the corner of the lobby. 

"Why?" he asks flatly.

"I have an offer for you," the woman says. 

"What kind of offer?"

"More of an invitation, really. I thought coming in person might show you how serious I am about it."

Something swells in Spencer's chest; in his mind, it looks like a flaming hot red ball, surging and expanding.

"Do you have plans for Thanksgiving?" she asks.

"Uh." It isn't exactly what he was expecting, but this whole encounter is so strange that he really doesn't know what he truly anticipated, anyway. "I don't think I do."

"I would love it if you'd join us at our house, then. Your brother will be there with Molly, and I know your--I know Tim would love the chance to spend the holiday with you. My husband and I would also love it."

As Spencer takes in this invitation, he looks her over. He has only seen the woman in the flesh a few times. She is familiar largely from photographs that he has seen in Tim's office. She looks good for her age, which he estimates to be late 60s or early 70s; her face is healthy, aging but not harshly so, with no evidence of any kind of cosmetic work. He cannot quite wrap his mind around the fact that this woman is his grandmother. She's a stranger. 

She must see him fading, because she adds, "It's only a meal. I don't want to pressure you--"

"Pressure him?" comes a voice from the entry of the reception area.

They both turn to see Tim standing there, his coat speckled with marks from stray raindrops outside. 

"Mom," he says sternly to Paula. "What are you doing here?" 


"You have to take off your underpants before you sit down!"

"At least he knows where to sit," Matt Gray comments as he leans against the doorframe of the downstairs bathroom.

"That's something," Sarah Fisher grumbles. She hoists Billy up, tugs down his training pants, and then sets him back on the toilet chair. She stands and steps back to join Matt by the door, but Billy glares at them.

"No!" he says, shaking his head.

"Come on, buddy. You're already on the can," Matt says.

"No!" Billy repeats.

"He doesn't want us watching," Sarah says. She pushes Matt out into the hallway and then pulls the door part of the way closed, peeking back in to tell Billy, "We'll be right here if you need help."

Out in the hall, Matt whispers, "You should tell him that he gets privacy once he can wipe his own butt."

  Matt Gray

"As long as he learns, he can do it however he wants." Sarah slumps against the wall with a sigh. "I am ready to never be on diaper duty again, that's for sure."

"You're almost there."

"If he can sort of have this down by Christmas, I'm calling it a victory."

"Not bad." Matt moves closer and wraps an arm around her waist. "Then maybe we'll have time to get locked in another attic this Christmas."

"Might be worth a shot," she says as Matt dives in and kisses her neck. Just as it begins to turn heated, Sarah giggles and pushes him back. "My child is literally pooping seven feet away from us."

When Matt pulls back, grinning, he says, "I was thinking about something else."

"If it's not making out or pooping, I'm all out of guesses."

"It's about us. I was thinking about how Christmas morning is gonna work--it'd be good for us to be together. As a family."

"You can spend the night here."

"I was thinking more long-term. Like… maybe it's time for you guys to move into my place."

Sarah's eyes brighten with delight, but just as quickly, some kind of cloud settles back over her.

"What?" Matt asks, unable to read her.

"There's not enough room there. Tori's still going to need a room when the dorms shut down for the holidays and summer."

"No offense, but I'm not moving into the house where you used to live with your dead husband."

"Yeah." But she sounds troubled by this reality, as if caught in some unnavigable maze. 

"Then let's put this place on the market and find a normal house," Matt says. "We don't need this much space."

"I know." It is evident that she has more to say, but it takes several seconds for her to produce the words. "But I can't sell this place."

"What? Why?"

"Because it's like…profiting off Graham's death. I can't do it."

"I'm not gonna live in this haunted house, Sarah."


But a cry from inside the bathroom cuts them off: "Mommy! Done!" 

"Let me go deal with this," she says, and she slips back inside the bathroom, seemingly eager to escape this conversation. Matt remains in the hallway, trying to process this latest bit of weirdness. 


Claire stands over the open warming drawer, heat radiating onto her face.

"I have a right to meet her," Travis says, his tone growing more aggressive. 

"Of course you do." Claire scoops the quartered sandwiches, melted cheese dripping enticingly out of them, onto a plate. "I would never, ever try to stand in the way of that."

"Oh. Okay." He sits back in his chair, as if surprised that he didn't need to come prepared to do battle here.

"I wish none of this had happened in the first place," she says, "or at least that there were a universe where everything could just be the way it was before--"


"--but it's the reality, and you do have every right to meet this woman." She sets the plate down on the table. "Her name is Kathleen Bundy, like I told you. I don't--I wish I had her contact information, but all I have is the name of the school where she works."

"Is she a teacher?" he asks as he grabs a sandwich.

"She's a…" Claire hesitates, reminding herself not to answer with any kind of bias. "She works in the cafeteria. I only spoke to her for a few minutes, but she seemed like a nice lady."

"Okay." Travis munches on his grilled cheese for a few moments. "Is she really young? Or was she when she had me, I mean? Is that why she gave me up for adoption?"

Claire places a sandwich on her own plate,which gives her time to smooth out her response a bit. "I don't think she was a teen mom or anything--but it sounded like she wasn't in a position, financially, to raise a baby. So it was a very responsible decision for her to make sure her child went to a family that could afford it."

"So she let your dad and that crazy woman adopt me?"

"All she knew was that they were a well-off couple and seemed nice," Claire says. "Your grandfather… he could be very charming when it suited him."

"Did you guys tell her that, like, you raised her kid and those people got your baby?"

"We didn't even really understand at that point." Claire dips her spoon in her soup and stirs it aimlessly. "That was how we figured out there was another baby, kind of."

"So this lady has no idea I'm out there?" he asks.

"We told her that her child had been raised well. She was concerned about that, for the record." She sets down her spoon. "I think she'll be happy to hear from you--at least to hear that you're healthy and that everything turned out okay. But I just want you to be prepared…"

"For what? Is there something weird about her?"

"No. In case she isn't… receptive, that's all. It might be difficult for her--some women who give up a child for adoption might not react well to meeting that child if they aren't prepared or haven't chosen to."

"I just want to know something--anything--about where I come from," he says, his voice again rising in both volume and force. 

"I know. And I really hope you're able to get that. Why don't we ask your Aunt Sarah to find contact information for her? That way you don't have to surprise her while she's at work."

"That's a good idea," Travis says, and he goes on eating, even though she can tell he is distracted.

"Whatever happens," Claire says, "I want to make sure you know that you are always, always a part of this family. Nothing can ever undo that. Okay?"

He glances up, a certain wariness in his eyes. "Okay," he says, and all Claire can do is hope that he really does believe her. 


"Would you excuse us for a minute?" Tim says to Spencer, and without waiting for a response, he leads Paula out into the hallway.

Lily the receptionist catches Spencer's eye. "That was weird," she says.

"Yeah." He thinks of jumping ship but figures Tim might want to debrief after this, and he's kind of curious to know what gets said between the two Fishers, anyway. He drops into one of the stiff chairs and pulls out his phone.

On the screen is a text from Philip, alerting him to the fact that the repairman will be at the loft between 2 and 5 p.m. to fix the squeaky bathroom door, in case he planned on running home during that time. Spencer taps out a reply:

  Spencer Ragan

Thx. Guess who just showed up to see me at work?

Philip's response comes quickly:


Tim and Molly's mom. She wants me to come to thanksgiving, wtf

This time, the response takes a little longer. Spencer can picture Philip beginning to type, stewing over his choice of words, placing a knuckle to his chin the way he often does while in thought, and then finally sending his comment:

What did you tell her?

Spencer glances at the glass doors, which are closed, though he can see Tim and Paula near a corner. He can't tell how animated the conversation is or if it has turned into an argument, though.

Nothing yet. Tim came in and saw. He was pissed!!

Another long pause ensues before Philip responds:

You should consider saying yes. It would really go a long way toward Molly seeing you as a member of the family.

While Spencer takes that in, a little irritated, another text from Philip comes in.

Consider it a favor to me, if nothing else. 

Spencer understands the implication--"in exchange for saving your ass by taking the fall for the car accident," though Philip probably would not word it that way. As much as he hates to admit it, his brother might have a point.


Out in the hallway, Tim brings Paula around a corner so they are not in full view of the reception area.

"What are you thinking?" His eyes flash frustration and disbelief, something very close to anger.

"I'm thinking that I have a grandchild I hardly know," she says. "The holidays are coming up, and it doesn't seem you're going to ask him to join us--"

"I don't want to scare him off."

"From what? We don't even know him, Tim. You get to see him every day, but your father and I--Spencer is our grandson, and that was the longest conversation I have ever had with him."

She sees Tim's face soften. "I know this is difficult," he says. "I still feel like I'm walking on eggshells with him a lot of the time. I try not to push it beyond the office, because I know he needs time--"

"But how much time is enough?" Paula says. "If God forbid something were to happen tomorrow, I would so regret the fact that my own grandson has been living in the same town and I've barely ever spoken to him, let alone gotten to treat him like my grandson."

"I know."

"Every day, I thank my lucky stars that there came a point when I was able to have Ryan in my life," she says. "I know you aren't his biggest fan--and with good reason--but he is my son, too, and sometimes I wonder if we had known him earlier, if he hadn't been raised by those two awful men for so long, maybe things would be different."

Tim responds with a tight-lipped nod. 

"I promise not to push," she continues. "But the invitation is out there now. I couldn't have lived with myself if I hadn't tried."

"Okay." Tim pulls her into a hug. "I'm sorry I snapped at you. It's just such a delicate situation."

"It is."

He starts for the lobby and reaches for the door, but before he opens it for her, he adds, "No pressure on him. Remember."


They re-enter the lobby, where Spencer sits in a chair, typing on his phone. He looks up at the sound of them returning.

"I have to get going," Paula says, "but it was good to see you, Spencer. The invitation stands, if you're interested."

"But there's no pressure either way," Tim says.

Spencer rises from his seat. "Actually, I was thinking it sounds good."

The only reaction Paula can manage is to look over at Tim, to be sure that she didn't imagine what Spencer said. Tim's look of utter surprise confirms that this is really happening.

"Are you sure?" Tim asks.

"Yeah. Sounds like a good idea. Thanks for inviting me," the young man says. "I'll see you on Thanksgiving."

It takes every bit of restraint in Paula's being not to leap at him and pull him into an embrace.


How will Spencer fare at a Fisher family holiday?
Did Paula overstep her bounds by inviting him?
What should Travis expect from meeting his birth mother?
Talk about it all in the Footprints Forum!

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Friday, Nov. 14, 2014

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