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- Alex invited Liam to join him, Cameron, and some friends for a night out at a local club's LGBT night. 
- Hoping to help Samantha out of her shell, Tempest brought her to the Lookout, as well. Samantha was startled when she ran into Alex, who offered a listening ear if she ever wants to talk about anything and promised to keep the matter between the two of them. 
- With police guarding the house in the wake of Sandy's murder, Jason decided to spend a night alone at home. When a woman crept up to his front door, the police cornered her...


"Freeze! Hands in the air!"

The sharp female voice cuts through the night. Standing in the front doorway of his house, the foyer lights illuminating him from behind, Jason Fisher suddenly sees the two police officers on his lawn, their weapons drawn.

"Oh my god," he says, his attention flicking back and forth between the officers and Natalie Bishop, who stands in front of him, holding open her trenchcoat to reveal a lacy black bra, matching panties, and a whole bunch of exposed flesh. 

Natalie swivels her head slowly.

"Hands in the air!" the female cop, who introduced herself to Jason earlier as Officer Jimenez, barks.

"I'm not--what the hell is going on?" Natalie asks, looking back toward Jason even as she lifts her arms.

"She's my--she's a friend of mine," Jason calls past Natalie to the officers.

Jimenez and the other officer, a black man in his 40s, continue to hold their weapons aloft, aimed toward Natalie.

  Natalie Bishop

"You're sure she's safe?" Jimenez asks.

"Do I look dangerous?" Natalie says. "Where would I be hiding a weapon?"

"I see two things right there that could put someone's eye out," Jimenez says before redirecting her attention to Jason: "Why didn't you tell us someone was coming over?"

"I didn't know." He takes in the entire scene, attempting to wrap his brain around all this new input. To Natalie, he says more quietly, "What are you doing here?"

"I wanted to surprise you!" she says, loudly enough so that it's clear it is intended for both him and the officers.

"I told you I was getting police protection," Jason says, placing a hand on her shoulder.

"I didn't realize that meant trained assassins holding guard!" Natalie drops her arms and quickly closes up the coat. "Are we done here?"

Jimenez and the male officer lower their guns. 

"Sure," Jimenez says. "Mr. Fisher, would you please ask your... guests to give you a heads-up from now on? We're trying our best to keep you safe."

"Maybe you should start by not trying to shoot the guests!" Natalie exclaims. 

Jason places his hands on Natalie's arms and calls out to the officers: "And I appreciate what you're doing. Thank you. I'm sorry about this." He forcibly moves Natalie through the doorway and into the house before she can open her mouth again.


When he and Liam Cassel join Cameron Kelley and his friends out on the dance floor, Alex Marshall is relieved that he recognizes the majority of the songs that the DJ plays. The five men dance in a loose circle for a while, and Alex rolls up the sleeves of his lightweight sweater. He watches as Liam and Andrew, Cameron's friend with the wild, floppy blond hair, dance closer and closer to one another. Alex's mind drifts toward his earlier encounter with Samantha Fisher; he hopes that he did the right thing by offering a listening ear and that he didn't make her feel put-on-the-spot or anything. Then again, he remembers how a little bit of that would have benefitted him at her age.

As Rihanna is singing about finding love in a hopeless place, a joyous beat rising up behind her voice, Alex realizes that the vodka-soda in his hand is doing an excellent job of softening the edges of his concerns about Samantha, and when Cameron backs up into him to dance, Alex decides that maybe it's fine, just for tonight. 

He is considering whether he needs to refresh his drink when he sees Liam, eyes wide, take a step back from Andrew.

Alex follows Liam's gaze and looks over his shoulder, where he is surprised to see Trevor Brooks standing mere feet away from them, having paused mid-dance move.

"Hi!" Alex shouts over the music.

Trevor leans in closer in order to be heard. "Hey! How are you?"

  Alex Marshall

"Good!" Alex's brain buzzes, the song and the liquor competing for attention in his head. "Who are you here with?"

Before Trevor can answer, Cameron ducks between them, giving Trevor a quick hello and then moving on to hug the lightly bearded guy beside him.

"Curtis. He's a copywriter at Objection," Trevor explains to Alex, his words muffled beneath the loud music. 

"Oh. Cool." Alex is all-too-aware of Liam watching them from a few feet away, so he turns slightly away from Trevor, opening up into a semi-circle, so Liam can step in. 

"Hi!" Trevor and Liam exclaim in forced near-unison. As they hug, Alex moves aside to let them chat--as much as they can in the noisy, busy environment. 

A few moments later, Cameron slides through the crowd and back toward him.

"They're okay, right?" Cameron asks, his mouth close to Alex's ear.

Alex nods. "I think so. Yeah."

"Good. Then let's dance." 

Cameron brings his hands to Alex's hips, and Alex tries to relax into the beat that he can feel vibrating beneath his feet--trying to ignore the way that Trevor glances over at him, lips pursed.


Toward the front of the club, Tempest Banks is having an animated conversation with her two friends, Steph and Maria, while Samantha Fisher stares off at the sea of bodies writhing on the dance floor. She spots Alex out there with his friends and Trevor Brooks, and though she wonders what is going on with all of them, given Trevor's past with both Alex and Liam, there are more pressing matters on her mind.

She hears Tempest and the two others laughing hard, wildly, and sees them doubled over, but it all seems kind of distant and weird. Samantha is trying to refocus on their conversation and even stretches her mouth into an obligatory smile when Tempest turns to her.

"What's up with you?" Tempest says. It's less a question than a statement: Something's up with you.

"I'm fine," Samantha says and takes a sip of her mojito.

"Mm-hmm." Tempest takes a step closer toward Samantha so she doesn't have to shout as much. "You still freaked out because of Alex?"

Samantha shrugs. "I don't know. A little." 

"He said he wasn't gonna say anything to your mom and dad, right?"


"Then he won't." Tempest takes a drink of her whiskey-and-coke while she waits for Samantha to react, and when she doesn't, Tempest adds, "He seems like a good guy. He's not gonna run off and tattle on you."

"I hope not. Yeah." 

"And whatever. If he says something, it's not a big deal."

Samantha, whose attention has been drifting around the club, snaps back toward Tempest. "What do you mean, not a big deal?"

"Your mom isn't gonna, like, throw you out if she finds out you came here."

"No, but…" Samantha feels something rising up within her, almost choking her from the inside out. "It still matters."

"Yeah, but--"

"Forget it."

Tempest places a hand on her arm, but Samantha quickly jerks away from her touch.

"I need to get some air," Samantha says, and she makes a beeline for the exit.


Jason pours two glasses of white wine and then returns the bottle to the refrigerator.

"Getting shot in my damn underwear would've been a new one," Natalie says, hands planted on the granite-topped island, her trenchcoat once again tied at the waist. 

"Yeah, I'm glad we managed to avoid that." He grins as he hands her one of the glasses. "I really don't know what kind of cleaning crew I would call to deal with that."

"Because that would've been the big tragedy."

"Totally." He picks up the wine glass and extends it toward her. "Here's to not getting shot."

"I guess that's something to celebrate," Natalie says as she clinks her glass against his. They each take a sip of their wine.

"Why didn't you just tell me you were coming over?" Jason asks.

"Because you were being boring! If I had said, 'I'll be there in 20 minutes,' you would've been all, 'No, I'm tired and I'm watching basketball.'"

"I was watching Friends!" he says, pointing to the paused image on the flatscreen in the living room.

Natalie widens her eyes. "Well, in that case…"

"Shut up. At least we got a funny story about it."

"Yeah, and now that cop thinks I'm some kind of deranged flasher."

Jason scrunches up his face. "I mean, you kind of are…"

She sets the glass down on the counter with a little too much force. "That was for your eyes only!"

"I didn't say I minded."

Something hums in the air between them--an energy, somehow tangible. Jason is sure that he can see it in Natalie's face, the same way that he feels it vibrating through himself. 

"I actually thought it was a great surprise," he says, placing his own glass down and moving a little closer to her.

Natalie smirks. "Yeah?"

"Yeah." A shot of nervousness shoots through Jason's veins, but he wills himself to reach out and place a hand on Natalie's side. The material of her coat crumples under his fingers, and he can feel the heat from her skin radiating out toward him. 

"I mean, it would be a shame for you to go to all that effort and have it go to waste," he says.

"You think?"


Natalie's hand goes to the coat's belt. "Does that mean you need to see it again?"

Jason nods, his tongue poking devilishly through his lips. "I think so. Yeah. Just to review."

"Just to review," she says as she pulls the belt and the coat falls open.

He draws his head back a bit so he can take in the entire picture. "I think I like that," he manages to say, his breath catching at the sight of her in just the bra and panties.

"That was my plan." She places a hand on his chest. "See, now I think you're overdressed."

"And what are we supposed to do about that?"

"I'll take care of it." Natalie tugs up the bottom of his sweatshirt and runs a fingernail over his stomach. Jason shivers at the touch, at the thought of how long it has been since he felt this. 

Unable to help himself, he moves in swiftly, crushing their mouths together. He is hungry for her, eager, and he can feel the same need emanating from her. The rest is a blur--a glorious blur--as he pushes the coat down her arms, letting it pool on the kitchen floor, and Natalie forces him to break the kiss just long enough to yank the sweatshirt over his head, and then they are stumbling as one awkward unit toward the living room, their mouths joined and their hands roaming as Jason lowers her down onto the couch. 


Samantha quickly makes her way to the back exit of the club. Outside, she finds a covered smoking area and another bar, with plenty of clubgoers clustered in little packs, drinking and chattering. The cool night breeze is a relief from the oppressive, sticky air inside, so Samantha sits down on a ledge and tries to will herself to relax.

She feels a little foolish for having stormed out that way, but she is also tired of Tempest minimizing her concerns. Irritation and reason duel inside her as the memory of their tiff swirls around in her head. She is sipping down the last of her drink when she sees Tempest emerging from the same door that she came through a few minutes ago.

"You okay?" Tempest asks cautiously when she arrives in front of Samantha.

"I'm fine."

"You sure?" 

Samantha nods. The awkward quiet sits between them, even with the din of conversation and the music from inside floating around.

  Samantha Fisher

"I can get you another drink," Tempest says.

"I'm okay. Thanks." Samantha puts the plastic cup down on the ledge beside her. "I know you've been through way worse stuff than me, and this whole thing probably doesn't seem like that big a deal to you, but it is for me, okay?"

At first, Tempest seems surprised by the sudden outburst, but her only response is to nod solemnly.

"I'm sure my mom and dad aren't going to disown me," Samantha continues, "but it's still tough and it's personal, and I'm allowed to be a little nervous while I figure it out and, I don't know, try to accept it."

"Yeah. You're right." Tempest takes a seat on the ledge only a few inches from her. "Sorry I'm being pushy."

"You're not." Samantha breaks into a mini-grin. "Well, kind of. But I need some of that, maybe. I just need you to acknowledge that this is still something difficult that I'm working through."

"Got it. I swear."

"Okay." Samantha starts to go on, then stops herself, and finally decides it's all right to bring this up. "Can I ask you something?"


"What happened between us the day you came over to my mom's--you liked it, right?"

"Yeah! Why wouldn't I?" 

"Well… if you like me that way, why'd you bring me here?" Samantha is suddenly aware of the sweat on her palms. "Isn't that sort of, I don't know, like getting your favorite ice cream and then bringing it to a potluck?"

A smile breaks over Tempest's mouth. "You're ice cream now?"

"You know what I mean!" 

"Okay, Rocky Road or whatever the hell you are. Here's the thing." Tempest hunches forward. "I'm into you. Okay?"


"But you've gotta figure all this junk out first," Tempest says. "Otherwise it's gonna be a mess. Been there, done that, no thanks."

"And once I figure this stuff out…?"

"Then it's on." Tempest stands up. "Now how about that drink? Can you handle another one?"

"Definitely," Sam says, a new ease spreading over her as she rises to follow Tempest to the bar.


When the music makes a turn toward some more recent hip-hop that he doesn't recognize, Alex takes the opportunity to slip off the dance floor to get another drink. After promising to get one for Cameron, as well, he snakes his way through the crowd and heads for the outside bar. He finds a spot toward the back of the crush of people awaiting their chance to order.

Minutes pass, and the messy line advances. The refreshing air reenergizes Alex as he waits. He is only two people from the bar when he feels a finger tap him on the shoulder.

"There you are," Trevor says, his tall body and bright face loose from the drinks he has had already. 

"Hey," Alex says. "Having fun?"

"Yeah. I guess." Trevor rests a hand on Alex's shoulder; despite himself, Alex feels a rush from the touch, which he hates to admit he has missed. 

"Sorry if that was weird before," Trevor says, his hand lingering. "I didn't realize you were with Liam."

"It's fine. Everyone's fine."

Alex shuffles forward as the person in front pays for his drink and walks off. 

"So you guys are, like, good friends now," Trevor says.

Alex snaps around. "Yes! We're working together. And we've gotten to be friends. Which is partially because he needed someone to lean on after you called off your wedding the night before--"

"That was the responsible thing to do! It sucked, but it was the right thing."

"There were a lot of things you could've done before that that would've been responsible, too," Alex says, his annoyance surging. 

"I'm sorry, okay? I can't go back in time and change anything. But I miss you. And this sucks."

"What sucks?"

"This wall you're putting up--"

"What else am I supposed to do?" The words fly out of Alex, and he is immediately aware of their volume and the fact that people nearby are now paying attention to them.

But Trevor does not seem nearly as aware--because the next thing he does is grab Alex and kiss him, hard. 

Alex hates himself for melting into the feel of Trevor's lips and the delicate swipes of his tongue. He hates that he still misses this. 

He is so busy hating it that he does not notice Samantha and Tempest, seated back on the ledge with their drinks, watching the kiss. Nor does he notice Cameron's friend, Andrew, walk outside, watch them through the crowd, and then disappear back into the club, his face stretched with shock. 


What will happen with Alex, Trevor, and Liam now?
Should Samantha open up to her parents?
What did you think of Jason and Natalie's first time?
Come to the Footprints Forum to discuss it all!

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Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015

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