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Episode No. 24 - Found and Lost

written by Shannon Bryan

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About this story

Published: 1997 | Size: 127 KB (24565 words) | Language: english | Rating: PG-13
Average: 4.5/5   4.5/5 (70 votes)

based on stories and characters created by Winnie Holzman

Previously on "My So-Called Life" ...

[A montage of scenes from Episode 23: Lost & Found.]

Rickie is talking on the phone.

RICKIE: ...The lawyer already sent the papers. All he has to do is sign them and send them back. And then I'll be *free.*

Rickie, Joseph, and Katimski eating dinner.

RICKIE: (spoons casserole onto his plate, clears his throat) So did you...have you heard from my uncle yet?

JOSEPH: It's only been two days, Rickie. I'm sure everything will be fine. We just have to be patient.

A tall stranger stands in Katimski's doorway.

MAN: My name is Martin Vasquez. (pause, looks over Katimski's shoulder into the apartment) I've come for my son.

The camera focuses on Katimski's shocked expression before zooming in on Rickie. He stares at his uncle, rigid, eyes wide with shock and fear.

<and now...the conclusion>

 

 

INT.KATIMSKI'S APARTMENT--living room

Joseph, Katimski, and Martin Vasquez stand in the living room. The apartment is thick with tension. Rickie watches mutely from the kitchen area. He stands behind the island, arms folded tightly around himself.

MARTIN: (pulls some papers from a coat pocket) I received this request to transfer guardianship of my son yesterday. (glares at Katimski, his expression cold) Do you mind telling me the meaning of this?

JOSEPH: (snorts) The *meaning*? It's very simple. You didn't want Rickie.

(pause) And we do.

MARTIN: (casts Rickie a sharp look, turns to Joseph) I don't know what Rickie has been telling you, but leaving home was his choice. I didn't force him out.

Rickie opens his mouth to speak, shuts it again. He looks ill.

KATIMSKI: (angry) That's not the issue. The *issue* is that you moved your home three states away. (beat) Without telling Rickie. (shakes his head in disgust) Gee whiz...that's what I call heartwarming.

MARTIN: (frowns) That was a regrettable decision. But I was transferred to another office. (shrugs) That's why it took me so long to come back.

JOSEPH: (rolls his eyes) Right.

MARTIN: (his eyes narrow) I don't appreciate your tone.

JOSEPH: And I don't appreciate you barging in here during our dinner. Rickie is happy here. *That's* what matters. (pause, deliberate) I don't think he was quite so happy living with you.

MARTIN: (scowls at Rickie) What is this? You've been telling lies about me again?

RICKIE: (his voice rises, panicking) What? No!

KATIMSKI: (steps forward) It's been really, ah, *enjoyable* meeting you Mr. Vasquez, but I suggest you leave now. (looks toward Rickie, concerned) You're making Enrique uncomfortable.

MARTIN: (tight smile) Fine. I'll leave. But I'm not signing these. I'll be in town until Rickie is ready to come home. (pause) Where he belongs. (hands Katimski a business card) This is my hotel. If you change your mind, call me. If you don't, my lawyer will be in touch. (smirks) I believe these are yours. (thrusts the papers at Katimski) Goodnight, gentleman. Rickie. (opens the door and disappears into the hallway)

JOSEPH: (locks the door, runs a hand over his face) Well. So much for my appetite.

RICKIE: (stares at the closed door, swallows) I'm--I'm sorry about that.

KATIMSKI: (confused look) Why? Did you ask him to come?

RICKIE: (shakes his head) No, but--

JOSEPH: Then there's nothing to worry about.

KATIMSKI: (walks into kitchen, stands beside Rickie, speaks softly) Listen...Enrique. I want you to know...that if you want to go with your father, we understand. (quick glance at Joseph who nods in agreement) This is your decision, not ours.

RICKIE: (adamant) I *don't* want to go with him!

JOSEPH: (gently) Are you sure? He *is* you father.

RICKIE: (grim) He's *not* my father. He's my uncle. And I *don't* want to live with him again. (pause) *Ever*.

KATIMSKI: (bites his lip, stares at the far wall for several seconds, slowly, cautiously) Enrique...when I became aware of your...situation this past January, I...ah, recall several bruises--

RICKIE: (stiffens, walks toward his bedroom) I don't feel like talking about this anymore. I'm just, like, really tired or whatever. We can talk about this tomorrow. Okay? (pauses in the doorway, but is unable to meet their gazes) So goodnight.

Rickie's bedroom door slams shut and Joseph and Richard exchange glances.

KATIMSKI: (sags against the cupboards and closes his eyes) Now what? Am I supposed to try and talk to him? Give him space? *What*? (heavy sigh, rolls his head back and forth) I have no idea what I'm doing.

JOSEPH: (lays a hand on Richard's shoulder) You're doing fine. We'll give him some time and try talking a little later. Okay?

 

INT.CHASE HOUSE--living room

Patty sits on the couch folding laundry. She glances toward the stairs.

PATTY: (loudly) Angela, do you think you could come out of your room *this* year?

DANIELLE: (runs down the stairs, pauses on the landing, stares at Patty as if she is dense) Mom. She's on the *phone*. With Rickie.

PATTY: (nods) And it's wonderful that she's...she's *there* for him right now. (pained look, tosses some mismatched socks into the basket) I hope things work out. I really do. (pause) But that doesn't mean she can just stay in her room all day.

DANIELLE: (continues down the stairs, shrugs) I don't mind. It's relaxing.

PATTY: (heavy sigh) *Danielle*.

DANIELLE: Well it *is*. And I still need my blue hair band. (dramatic) Cindy's party is this weekend. (gives Patty a look) I *need* it!

PATTY: I know. (pause, thoughtful) Are you sure you checked your--

DANIELLE: (shoots a withering glare at Patty) Duh.

Danielle enters the kitchen. Patty stares down at the laundry basket.

 

INT.CHASE HOUSE--Angela's room--afternoon

Sharon sits on the floor, her back against Angela's bed, writing in a notebook. Angela looks thoughtfully through her collection of CD's.

ANGELA: (holds out a CD) What about this one?

SHARON: (makes a face, shakes her head) A definite no. Brian *hates* their new song.

ANGELA: (sighs, annoyed) Perfect. What are we supposed to listen to then? This could easily be the dullest party *ever*.

SHARON: (softly, slowly) Well...this *is* Brian we're talking about.

ANGELA: (sets the CD down) I can't even do this.

SHARON: You want me to go through the music?

ANGELA: (gives Sharon a look) No! I mean I can't *concentrate*. I keep thinking about Rickie. I just can't believe that his dad came back!

SHARON: (head tilt) Do you think he wants to go back to Wisconsin with his dad?

ANGELA: (looks down, hesitant) I don't know...I mean, I think he's kind of afraid of him. (pause, looks back at Sharon, her face pinched) Because I think that when Rickie didn't have any place to go? And he had that black eye and his lip was all bloody? I think that maybe...well...(deep breath) I think that maybe his dad did that.

SHARON: (stares at Angela, aghast) You think Rickie's dad could do something like that?

ANGELA: (VO) I really wanted to say no. That there was no way Rickie's dad could hurt him like that. But I couldn't. Because...because...(reaches for the CD again, uncertain, aloud) I don't know.

 

EXT.SCHOOL--front steps--morning

Brian and Rickie sit on the steps. Students file past them. Others lounge near the doors smoking.

BRIAN: (watching Angela and Sharon approach) So, um, what are you going to do?

RICKIE: (shrugs) I don't know. I keep hoping if I don't think about it, everything will just...go away.

BRIAN: (crooked smile) Sorry. I've tried that approach. (shakes his head) And it doesn't work. Like, at *all*.

RICKIE: (heavy sigh) I was afraid of that.

ANGELA: (leans against the railing, looks from Brian to Rickie) Hey. Hi.

SHARON: (to Brian) So did you do the extra credit for Katimski?

BRIAN: (stares down at his backpack) Of course I did. (pause, looks back at Sharon, lifts his eyebrows, lowers them) No.

Sharon gives him a look.

BRIAN: (fidgets, uncomfortable) It was just...too much.

ANGELA: (to Rickie) Do you have a sec? I wanted to talk to you about something.

RICKIE: Um, I guess. (accepts Angela's hand and she helps pull him up) What?

ANGELA: (softly) Not here. (considers a moment) Let's go to the bathroom.

SHARON: (notices that Angela and Rickie are leaving, turns to Brian) I have to go. But I'll help you with the extra credit. If, you know, you want me to. Later!

Brian watches Angela, Sharon, and Rickie disappear into the school building. He sighs and stands. Rayanne flounces past Brian.

RAYANNE: (smiles sweetly) What's the matter, Krakow? Forget to bring breath mints again?

 

INT.GIRLS' BATHROOM

Rickie and Angela both lean against a sink, they face away from the mirror. Sharon stands a few feet away, touching up her makeup.

RICKIE: So what's up?

ANGELA: (traces the edge of the sink with one hand, nervously) I just wanted to ask you something.

RICKIE: (shrugs) Go ahead.

ANGELA: (VO) It's funny how you know *exactly* what you want to say to someone, but the minute you open your mouth the words all try to jump out at once. (pause) Or they don't come out at all. (aloud) Um...okay. Cuz I was, like, wondering about, you know, back when you lived with your dad...(pause, clears her throat, looks to Sharon) I mean...

SHARON: (purses her freshly lipsticked lips, turns to Rickie) She wants to know if your dad hit you.

RICKIE: (stares from Sharon to Angela, open mouthed, pushes himself off the sink) *What*! (sputters) What...what kind of question is that?

SHARON: (head tilt) A straightforward one. (gently) From somebody who, like, *cares*.

RICKIE: (crosses his arms, avoids Angela's gaze) My dad did *not* hit me.

ANGELA: (tucks hair behind her ear) But you told me that he used to break down your door, right? And when you didn't have a place to live, you were, like...*hurt*. (crosses her arms) I don't think ice can give you a black eye, Rickie. I mean, you have to admit, the few times you talked about him, you seemed (pause, searching for the right word) kind of...nervous. Or something.

RICKIE: (glares) You don't know what you're talking about, Angela. (angry) Just drop it.

ANGELA: (softly, raises her hands) Okay. I will. (deep breath) Right after you tell me how you got hurt. (moves closer to Rickie) You tell me that your dad has never hit you, and I'll believe you.

Rickie looks down at the floor. He swallows, pale. After a long tense moment he turns and stalks out of the bathroom.

ANGELA: (sags against the sink) Great. Now he hates me.

SHARON: He doesn't hate you. He's just...scared. I think he's afraid to admit the truth.

ANGELA: (VO, staring at the closed door) I think I'm afraid to hear it.

The bathroom door opens and Rayanne bursts in. She gives Angela a hard look before throwing a tight smile at Sharon.

RAYANNE: Hey, Chase. Know what? If you look up the word lame in the dictionary, I'm pretty sure there's a picture of you.

ANGELA: (stung) What?

RAYANNE: (snaps her fingers) Damn. I forgot. Krakow is lame. You're just obtuse.

ANGELA: (annoyed) Why am I obtuse?

RAYANNE: (rolls her eyes) Duh squared. Think about it. Saturday night. Music. Jordan. The Wire. Ring any bells? I thought Catalano invited you.

ANGELA: (frowns) He...did. (glances toward Sharon, softly) He invited *everyone*.

RAYANNE: (incredulous) Big deal! *You're* the one he wanted to come!

Angela frowns, chagrined.

RAYANNE: I mean, your turning Jordan down is like--God! (waves her arms, frustrated) A sign the end of the world is coming. (looks into the mirror, fastens a neon pink rubber band around one of her braids) And I have *tons* to accomplish first, so just knock it off. (checks the result in the mirror) I thought Jordan Catalano was more important to you than air or something.

ANGELA: (VO) More important than air? That feels like it should be true. It *used* to be true. (frowns, lip tremble) But I don't...I don't think it is anymore. (aloud, her face pinched, she moves toward the door) I'm going to be late for class.

Rayanne watches Angela carefully in the mirror, silent.

 

INT.KATIMSKI'S CLASS

Katimski reads from a book in front of the class. Rickie stares down at his blank notebook not paying attention. Katimski's gaze lingers on Rickie, worried, but he continues reading.

KATIMSKI: "...above him, the train walks on stilts, rumbling. A twentieth century dragon hunting. He lays awake huddled, cold. The hunted." (long pause while the class fidgets) How do you think the author was feeling when they wrote this poem?

STUDENT: Lost?

KATIMSKI: (wryly) Thank you. Now...can someone give me an answer that's not directly taken from the poem's title? Um...how about...Delia?

DELIA: (bites at her lip) Well...the main character doesn't have a place to live. He *is* lost. That one line...(she searches the page, finds what she's looking for) it says 'slick hair the color of childhood obscures a carved face.' That makes me feel, like, sad or something. Because living that way, you know, without someplace to go (grows uncomfortable, quick glace at Rickie who is staring down at his desk) isn't childhood at all. So I guess...I guess the person in the poem wants to be found. (pause, frowns) Did that make sense?

KATIMSKI: (faint smile) It made sense. And you're right. There is some powerful imagery here. I think we'll...(trails off, sees that Rickie has his hand raised) Enrique? Do you have a question?

RICKIE: (stone-faced) Maybe some people don't want to be found. Maybe it's okay to be lost. Or not lost but...not with your real family. (finally looks up at Katimski, his voice wavers) Isn't that, like...allowed?

Katimski blinks and Delia casts her friend a worried look. Jason shifts in his seat and tries to see Rickie's face.

KATIMSKI: (uncertain how to respond, rubs his jaw) Enrique...

RICKIE: (stands abruptly, hurries for the door) I don't feel very good. Excuse me.

Jason and Delia look to Katimski. A few classmates glance toward the door with vague curiosity, most take no interest in Rickie's departure.

KATIMSKI: (pointed look at Jason) Um...perhaps one of you could go check on Enrique. (pause) I, ah, don't think he's feeling well.

JASON: (bolts out of his seat) I'll go.

 

INT.BOYS' BATHROOM

Brian walks into the bathroom carrying several books. He sets them on the window ledge and turns toward one of the stalls when the sound of someone crying stops him cold. He hesitates, eyebrows raised, torn between staying to help and making a hasty retreat. His choice is made when another stall door opens and he comes face to face with Rickie.

RICKIE: (wipes his face, embarrassed) Oh. Brian. Hi.

BRIAN: (blinks, both worried and curious) Hi. So...what's wrong? (glances back toward the door, as if making sure he is really in the boys' bathroom) And how come you're in here? (quickly) Not that that's, like, *bad* or anything.

RICKIE: (goes to the sink and splashes water on his face) I don't know. I got upset and left Mr. Katimski's class. And the minute I was out the door I felt like *such* an idiot. (sigh) And I figured this would be the last place anyone would look for me.

BRIAN: (considers) Oh. How come you left Katimski's?

 

INT.GIRLS' BATHROOM

Rayanne sits on the window ledge reading a magazine. The door opens and Jason peers in.

RAYANNE: (looks up, smirks) Excuse me, Matthews, you see any urinals in here?

JASON: (pleasant smile) No, but I see you. You mean this *isn't* the guys' bathroom? I just figured you were waiting for your next quickie.

RAYANNE: (hearty laughter) Fun-ny! (stops laughing abruptly, glares at Jason) What do you want, Guam Boy?

JASON: (his smile disappears) Have you seen Rickie? He ran out of Katimski's class.

RAYANNE: Why? Is Katimski wearing that red tie again? That's enough to make anyone run screaming.

JASON: (annoyed) I'm serious, Graf. Rickie was upset. So have you seen him or not?

RAYANNE: (frowns) No. Not lately. (tries to be casual, slides the magazine into her bag) So...what was Vasquez upset about?

 

INT.BAND ROOM

The band room is deserted except for Rickie and Brian who sit in the top row of chairs.

RICKIE: I know the poem doesn't have anything to do with me. Or my father. It's just...the thought that he's here. In the city. And that he wants me back. It sort of makes me crazy. Or something.

BRIAN: (rests his head on the back of the chair) But doesn't it feel, like, *good* that he wants you back or whatever?

RICKIE: (rubs his hands together, nervous, long pause) Actually...it makes me feel...afraid.

BRIAN: (softly) How come?

RICKIE: (flailing) Just...just because.

BRIAN: (faint smile) If my parents actually wanted me around I'd be afraid. I'd have to start looking for pods in the backyard.

RICKIE: (frowns, head shake) No, I don't mean like that. I mean...(very soft) I'm really...afraid.

BRIAN: (not looking at Rickie) But why? Does he, like, hit you or something?

RICKIE: (sits upright) Why would you ask that?

BRIAN: (sits up as well) Why else would he scare you? I mean, I remember those bruises on your face when you didn't have a place to live.

RICKIE: I told you I--

BRIAN: (shrugs, interrupts) I know what you told me. (bites his lip, thoughtful, haltingly) But sometimes...it's easier to say what people want to hear. Instead of what's, like, *true*. I should know because I do it, like, *all* the time. (pause) The hard part is saying what *you* want to hear, you know? (looks down at his hands) And I think that maybe...I'm finally learning to do that. It's hard. (swallows) And basically terrifying. (pause) At least to me. (looks at Rickie) But if I'm learning to say what I *feel*, and not what makes it easier for, you know, other people...maybe you can too.

 

INT.LERNER'S CLASSROOM

Ms. Lerner is drawing an equation on the chalk board. Angela doodles in her notebook.

ANGELA: (VO) How was I supposed to know Jordan wanted me to come, like, *more* than everyone else? (frowns, scribbles harder) He could have, like, *said* something. (sets the pen down) Not that I would have gone. Because I wouldn't have. (long pause) Probably.

Sharon is copying the equation. A single empty seat in the back of the room marks Abysinnia Churchill's absence. A knock on the door pulls Lerner away from the chalkboard and Angela cranes her neck to see Ms. Krzyzanowski standing in the hallway.

LERNER: One minute, class.

Sharon takes advantage of Lerner's absence by whispering to Angela.

SHARON: Do you have the invitation list?

ANGELA: What do you mean, *list*? Brian knows, like, four people. Who all do you want to invite?

SHARON: (annoyed look) Angela, this party was your idea. And now you don't want anyone to come?

ANGELA: (sighs heavily) Of course I want people to come. I just have...other things on my mind right now.

INT.BAND ROOM

Rickie stares at Brian, a look of terror on his face.

RICKIE: No, I don't have--I don't--

Brian blinks at his friend, silent.

RICKIE: I--I mean--

Brian lifts his eyebrows, waiting.

RICKIE: My dad never...never...(his face crumples, his voice drops to an anguished whisper, covers his face) never...said he was sorry. (begins to cry) All the times...he hit me...he never *once* said...he was sorry.

BRIAN: (looks uncomfortable, but as Rickie cries, his face softens and he blinks back tears of his own) *I'm* sorry. Sorry that he hurt you.

Rickie cries harder at Brian's words. Brian reaches out and puts a hand on Rickie's arm.

BRIAN: (adamant) And that's why you can't go back with him! You, like, *have* to tell Mr. Katimski. He has a right to know, Rickie.

RICKIE: (panicked) No!

BRIAN: Why not? Are you afraid to tell him?

Rickie doesn't answer.

BRIAN: Because you shouldn't be afraid. You didn't do anything wrong. (embarrassed) Not that I really know what I'm talking about...because I don't. Not about, you know, *that*. But I *do* know that you aren't the person who should feel blame about this. Or guilt. (urgently, his voice grows louder) I still think you should tell him. Because if you talk about this...you won't have to go with your dad. If he tries anything, you can file charges and--

RICKIE: (horrified, his voice spirals) God, Brian! I don't want people to, like, *know*!

BRIAN: (holds his hands up, backing down) Okay. I understand that. But Mr. Katimski isn't, like, *people* right? He's like...your family. And he can probably, you know, help. Or something. So just consider talking to him. (pause) Okay?

 

INT.HALLWAY

Jason stands in the hallway, watching Brian and Rickie through the window. He puts his hand on the doorknob, but hesitates when he sees Brian pat Rickie's arm. Jason stares as Brian comforts Rickie. Jason lets his hand fall away from the door, and turns on his heels, heading back the way he came.

 

INT.BUS--afternoon

A stream of students file onto a school bus, Angela and Sharon among them. Sharon is carrying her clarinet case. The two girls wade to the back of the bus and fall into a seat.

SHARON: You finished the list, then, right? I was thinking we could get the invitations done tonight.

ANGELA: (preoccupied) List? Oh. The party. (brightly) Right. I've, um, been working on it.

SHARON: (huffs loudly, disgusted) Angela...

ANGELA: (quickly) I have. During history. It's pretty much done. (glances around, cautious) Besides, we should talk about this at my house. I don't want Brian to hear.

SHARON: (regards Angela as if she has three eyes) Come on, Chase Face, he's not even on the bus.

ANGELA: (frowns, cranes her neck toward the aisle) What? He's always on the bus. Brian *lives* on the bus.

SHARON: (quietly) Not when he's seeing his shrink. (pause, fidgets with her instrument case) Every Monday and Wednesday. (looks mildly uncomfortable) I mean, Brian told you that, right?

ANGELA: (turns toward the window) Yeah. He told me. I guess I just...forgot. (VO) It always catches me off guard whenever Brian isn't around. I mean, he's *always* around. Getting in the way. Only I never realized until recently that I actually...kind of...*like* him getting in the way. In *my* way.

SHARON: (nudges Angela out of her reverie) By the way, has Danielle been practicing her piece this week?

ANGELA: (sinks lower into the seat, rolls her eyes) Practice isn't the word *I'd* use.

 

INT.CHASE HOUSE--Angela's room

Angela drops her backpack onto the bed. She grimaces at the sound of her sister's playing, stalks to the door, and pokes her head into the hallway.

ANGELA: Danielle, can you *please* play that softer? You don't have to be *that* loud. *Sharon* is supposed to hear you, not the neighbors!

DANIELLE: (OS) It's not too loud! (whining, vindicated) Besides, Sharon just said I'm getting better. You're just jealous!

ANGELA: (scowls) I'm not jealous. (pause) I'm looking for the Tylenol!

DANIELLE: (OS) (stops playing abruptly, loudly, ingratiating) I wish *you* were my sister, Sharon.

ANGELA: (shuts her bedroom door, leans her head against it) So do I.

 

INT.TASTE OF HEAVEN

Graham is dicing vegetables on one of the large workspaces while Leo is busy behind the large stove. Hallie bustles into the kitchen and observes Graham's progress.

GRAHAM: You waiting to help? Grab a knife.

HALLIE: And risk adding *my* pinky to the ceasar salad? No thanks. That's why I hired you.

GRAHAM: (smiles blandly) Is *that* why? Not my sparkling conversation?

HALLIE: (grabs a small piece of cucumber and pops it into her mouth) Feel free to delude yourself in whatever way you need to.

GRAHAM: (finishes cutting and sweeps the diced pieces into a large pot and hands it to another worker) (wipes his hands on the front of his smock) So. How are things with you and Chris?

HALLIE: (amused) Not much different than when you asked me this morning. (her expression fades, she studies Graham's face) All right, what is it? You've got that "I'm a poor sad male who can't share my feelings so I'll use yours" look on your face. (pause) Spill it.

GRAHAM: (laughs, incredulous) I am *not* wearing that look!

HALLIE: Probably true. I keep forgetting that slightly constipated look is normal for you.

GRAHAM: Hallie!

HALLIE: (warning) Talk and I'll stop with the insults. (pause) Probably.

GRAHAM: (heavy sigh, gives in) I sort of need your help.

HALLIE: (nods, digesting Graham's statement) Of course you do. (pause) What kind of help?

GRAHAM: (uncertain, nervous) I'm...uh, considering having a surprise party at the restaurant.

HALLIE: (grins) Am I invited?

GRAHAM: (softly) Actually...it's a party for one.

Hallie lifts an eyebrow.

 

INT.CHASE HOUSE--Angela's room

The clarinet can still be heard, but the sound is muted by the closed door. Angela moves to put a pair of earrings inside a flowered box on her dresser and accidentally knocks a small storage container onto the floor in the process. Frustrated, she bends to scoop up a mix of old letters, papers, and movie ticket stubs. She stops when an overturned photograph catches her

eye. She flips it over and the camera zooms in on a picture of three smiling children. Although the picture is several years old, it is obvious the children posing on the porch steps are a young Angela, Brian, and Sharon. Sharon and Angela are smiling for the camera, but Brian is smiling shyly at Angela, his face in profile. Angela remains on the floor, the photo in her hand, her expression thoughtful.

Music starts in the background, "Ghost" by the Indigo Girls while Angela examines the picture. A series of visuals play throughout the song, a combination of flashbacks and present-day scenes of Angela in her bedroom.

(Visual--Angela kneels in front of the bed, her elbows resting on the bedspread, "the letter" spread open before her. She looks from the letter to the photo, and back again, her forehead creased, as if searching for something.)

There's a letter on the desktop
that I dug out of a drawer
the last truce we ever came to
in our adolescent war
And I start to feel the fever
from the warm air through the screen
you come regular like seasons
shadowing my dreams

(Flashback--Angela facing Brian on a winter evening, Jordan's red car visible in the background. She looks at him with soft amazement, actually *seeing* him, he sits on his bike, unable to meet her bright gaze.)

And the Mississippi's mighty
but it starts in Minnesota
at a place that you could walk across
with five steps down
and I guess that's how you started
like a pinprick to my heart
but at this point you rush right through me
and I start to drown

(Present day--Angela gives the photo one of her tentative, brilliant smiles and walks slowly to the window and looks out at Brian's house.)

And there's not enough room
in this world for my pain
signals cross and love gets lost
and time passed makes it plain
of all my demon spirits
I need you the most
I'm in love with your ghost
I'm in love with your ghost

(Flashback--Brian stands in front of Angela at school, sincere, offering to hand out copies of the bootlegged Liberty Lit.)

Dark and dangerous like a secret
that gets whispered in a hush
(don't tell a soul)
when I wake the things I dreamt about you
last night make me blush
(don't tell a soul)
and you kiss me like a lover
then you sting me like a viper
I go follow to the river
play your memory like a piper

(Present day--Angela leans her forehead against the window, flushed, still smiling softly, embarrassed over some secret thought.)

And I feel it like a sickness
how this love is killing me
I'd walk into the fingers
of your fire willingly
and dance the edge of sanity
I've never been this close
I'm in love with your ghost

(Flashback--The final scene from Episode 22; Angela and Brian sitting shoulder to shoulder on the bathroom floor.)

Unknowing captor
you never know how much you
pierce my spirit
but I can't touch you
can you hear it
a cry to be free
oh I'm forever under lock and key
as you pass through me

(Flashback--Angela and Brian sit together on Brian's bed the night of their "talk" after the letter. Angela offers him a shy smile. He smiles back.)

Now I see your face before me
I would launch a thousand ships
to bring your heart back to my island
as the sand beneath me slips
as I burn up in your presence
and I know now how it feels
to be weakened like Achilles
with you always at my heels

(Flashback--the final scene of Episode 7: Angela and Brian play catch outside the Chase house, she laughs at him, cruel, hoping he learns what kind of pain it is to love someone.)

(Present day--Angela's face crumples, ashamed to realize Brian has known that pain all along.)

This bitter pill I swallow
is the silence that I keep
it poisons me I can't swim free
the river is too deep
though I'm baptized by your touch
I am no worse than most
in love with your ghost
you are shadowing my dreams
(in love with your ghost)
(in love with your ghost)
(in love with your ghost)

(Present day--Brian steps out onto his front porch. Angela presses both hands against the glass, a mixture of fear and joy on her face, as if she has stumbled upon an amazing secret.)

 

EXT.KRAKOW HOUSE--driveway

Brian carries a metal garbage can to the curb. He sets it down with a thud and looks up to see Angela crossing the street. He stares at her, surprised, but obviously pleased.

BRIAN: (nods once) Hey.

ANGELA: (hair tuck) Hey. (pause, nervous) Are you busy?

BRIAN: Uh, not really. (vaguely suspicious) Why?

ANGELA: (gestures toward his front steps) Do you have a second?

BRIAN: (stares at Angela for a long moment) Um, sure. Yeah. (hesitant) Do you...do you need something?

ANGELA: (annoyed) I don't always *need* something when I talk to you, Brian. (sighs, looks down) It just...seems that way. (bites at her lip) But I guess I tend to do that a lot. Sort of, like, *use* you for things.

BRIAN: (smiles faintly, puts his hands in his jacket pockets, shrugs) Maybe, you know, every once in a while.

Angela laughs and ducks her head, self-conscious. She also does another little hair tuck and Brian shifts on the step, not quite at ease.

BRIAN: (trying) So...uh...Sharon said that Jordan is doing really well. With, you know, the tutoring or whatever.

ANGELA: (annoyed, on guard) Brian. We are *not* going to talk about Jordan Catalano.

BRIAN: (nods) Okay. Fine. We're not. (beat) Why not?

ANGELA: (exasperated) Because!

BRIAN: (oblivious, unable to stop talking) Sharon said his band played at The Wire over the weekend.

ANGELA: (turns away, hunches her shoulders, leans forward) Yeah. I guess.

There is a brief pause and Brian and Angela speak at the same time.

BRIAN: Did you go?

ANGELA: I didn't feel like going.

BRIAN: (blinks) Oh. Okay. (pause) How come?

ANGELA: (familiar tone of voice) Bri-an! (stands uncertainly, folds her arms) Maybe...maybe I should get going. (nods toward her house) I have...you know...homework to do.

BRIAN: (grimaces, realizes it's his fault she's leaving) Yeah. Me too. (hopeful look) But we could, like, do it together. (pause, runs a hand through his hair, embarrassed) The homework, I mean.

ANGELA: (amused) I know what you meant, Brian. (she sinks back down beside him, considers) Maybe we could.

BRIAN: (takes a deep breath) Actually...I'm glad you came over. There's something I've been, like, wanting to tell you.

ANGELA: (swallows, looks up at Brian, eyes bright) There's something I've been wanting to tell you too.

BRIAN: (avoids Angela's gaze, unsure how to respond) Really? You have? What?

ANGELA: (hair tuck, wavering smile) You can...you can go first since you, um, you know...mentioned you had something to say first.

BRIAN: That's okay. I mean . . .

ANGELA: (sharply) Brian.

BRIAN: Okay. (rubs his hands nervously over his knees) I just wanted to tell you...like, that your friendship is important. (pause) To me. Because...because I wasn't sure I wanted to be your friend. (quickly) I mean, *just* your friend. After the letter. (pause) And everything. And...it was hard to, like, change. Or whatever. But I'm glad that I did. Because being your friend is a good thing. (thickly) It's like...the best thing. And I just, you know, wanted you to know how I felt.

ANGELA: (manages a smile but her chin trembles) Oh...right. Okay. Thanks, Brian.

BRIAN: (looks at Angela out of the corner of his eye, struggles toward full eye contact) What's wrong? (begins panic mode) Oh. You don't want to be friends. Right? (turns his head) Oh God.

ANGELA: (thin laughter, she claps one hand over her mouth, briefly touches Brian's leg with the other) Believe me, I *do* want to be friends. (nods, wipes at her eye) I do.

BRIAN: (faint smile, relaxes) Good. Because...having friends is kind of...helpful right now. And...you help a lot. (pause) What I mean is...you've helped me a lot. Already. And I'm, like...thankful.

ANGELA: (bows her head, picks at a tiny chip in the concrete) I'm glad. I think...I think that I like helping you. (pause) Even if you are a pain sometimes.

Brian laughs. His gaze lingers on Angela's hair for a moment, but he takes a deep breath and turns his eyes toward her house. There is a brief moment of silence.

BRIAN: So...what did you want to say?

ANGELA: Huh? Oh. Nothing. I...I was just wondering if you wanted to take that walk, actually.

BRIAN: (blinks, nonplused) Oh. Um. Sure. (nods) Okay. (pause) But...I thought you had homework.

ANGELA: We can do that after.

BRIAN: (a genuine smile) Okay.

They both stand, a little stiffly.

ANGELA: But you know what? I have to get something quick. My, um, sunglasses. (takes a step down, glances back at Brian) Can you wait a sec?

BRIAN: (slips his hands into his pockets) Sure. Yeah.

 

INT.CHASE HOUSE--kitchen

Angela stands in front of the cupboard, a drawer pulled open. Various miscellaneous items are visible in the drawer, including a pair of sunglasses. Angela has one hand over her face, the other wrapped around her stomach while she cries silently. After a moment she takes a long shaking breath.

ANGELA: (VO, angry) What I hate, what I *really*, really hate is when you're looking for something (resumes digging savagely through the drawer) but you don't even know what you're looking for. Not really. You have this, like, *vague* idea, but that's all. And then suddenly, you find it (her voice cracks as her hand closes over the sunglasses) but it's too late. (She wipes harshly at her eyes and slides them on. She turns and peers through the kitchen window, stealthily observing Brian.) The thing you were looking for, the thing that you were hoping was going to be there...just...isn't. (Pulls the curtain shut) It's lost.

Behind her, the door swings open and Patty enters the kitchen.

PATTY: (flipping absently through a stack of bills) Oh. Angela. Your father is bringing something home from the restaurant for dinner. We'll be eating soon. Why don't you invite Sharon to stay?

ANGELA: (wipes at her face, clears her throat) I don't know. I'm going for a walk with Brian. And then we have homework. (beat) He's, uh, helping me with a project.

PATTY: (frowns) Well...why don't you invite Brian over too.

ANGELA: Mom, please. I'm not even hungry. (heads for the door, stops, her back to Patty) Maybe Sharon and I will just go over there.

Alone in the kitchen, Patty sighs, frustrated, and massages her neck. She notices that Angela left the junk drawer open and pushes it shut. Hard.

 

INT.KATIMSKI'S APARTMENT--evening

Rickie sits on one end of the sofa. It is obvious he has been crying. Joseph sits on the opposite end of the couch, a combination of hurt and anger warring for control of his face. Katimski paces the length of the living room, one hand massaging his forehead, a stunned expression on his face. Periodically he stops, looks at Rickie, and tries to talk.

KATIMSKI: I just wish... (he hesitates, frowns, falls into silence and resumes pacing) Gee whiz...Enrique, why didn't you-- (he shakes his head, grimaces, and runs a hand through his hair, softly, slowly) Why...didn't you say anything...before?

RICKIE: (head bowed, a near whisper) I just...couldn't. (pause) I was...afraid.

JOSEPH: Afraid of what? (his face tightens) Martin hurting you again?

RICKIE: (wipes at fresh tears) No. No. I was afraid that...that...

KATIMSKI: (sits beside Rickie on the couch) That we would...blame you?

Rickie nods, unable to answer. He covers his face with his hands.

KATIMSKI: (puts an arm around Rickie and hugs him close, sadly) Listen to me, Enrique. You are not the one who deserves any blame here. (pulls back, looks at Rickie) Because you did nothing wrong. *Nothing*. Do you understand me?

Rickie nods again, still silent.

JOSEPH: I just want to say...that I'm very proud of you, Rickie.

RICKIE: (surprised, wipes at his face) What? Why?

JOSEPH: For telling us the truth. For letting us help you. (pause) That takes courage.

RICKIE: (weak smile) Thanks...but I kind of had some help.

 

INT.SCHOOL HALLWAY--morning

Jason, Rayanne, and Angela stand together near Rayanne's locker.

RAYANNE: (grimacing) Come on Angela! Some of us have actual *lives*. Why do I want to spend five hours of my precious time with Brian Krakow? (makes a face) Isn't it bad enough I have to see him every day in school?

ANGELA: Come on, Rayanne. Please?

RAYANNE: (shakes her head) Nice try. (points to Jason) Try again.

ANGELA: (rolls her eyes) Ray-anne!

RAYANNE: (rummages in her locker, pulls out a pack of gum, innocent look) What?

ANGELA: (to Jason) You're coming, right?

JASON: (shrugs) I don't know. Is Rickie?

ANGELA: Yes. (nods, hair tuck) Yes, he is. And so is Delia.

RAYANNE: (eyes wide, feigns excitement) Ooh, Angela, that sounds like a real blast! (pause) *Not*. (brightens, casts a look at Angela) Why don't we ask Bri what he thinks? (laughs at Angela's shocked look, calls out) Krakow! Come here!

Angela whirls to see Brian a few feet away. He lopes up to the trio and manages to look annoyed, disconcerted, and pleased all at the same time. He nods curtly at Jason, studiously ignores Rayanne, and offers a smile to Angela.

BRIAN: (lifts an eyebrow) Hey. What?

RAYANNE: (loudly popping her bubble gum) Whatcha doin' on Friday, Brian?

ANGELA: (moves close to Rayanne and gives her a solid jab with her elbow) Ignore her. (weak smile) She's, um, already had her sugar quota for the day. (nudges Brian down the hall) I was really wondering if...um...I mean...(gives Brian a tight smile, casting for any topic) I mean...I just wanted to say...thank you for the walk yesterday. (head bob) It was...it was

nice.

BRIAN: (blinks) Oh. It was nothing. (puts a hand to his forehead, makes a horrified face) I didn't mean it was, like, *nothing*. Because it was definitely, you know, *something*. Something good. What I mean is...(sighs, slow smile) you're welcome.

 

INT.SCHOOL HALLWAY

Rickie hurries down the hall, Sharon in desperate pursuit.

SHARON: Rickie! (grimace) Rickie, can you wait for *one* second?

Rickie strides up to Rayanne and Jason, peering past them, down the hall.

RAYANNE: Hey Vasquez. What's up?

JASON: (smile) Hey Rickie. (taps his backpack) I picked up a few movies on the way to school. I thought we could hang out for a while tonight.

RICKIE: (distracted) What? Sure. (bites his lip) Hey, have either of you guys seen Brian? Oh--wait! There he is, never mind. (brushes past Rayanne and Jason)

Sharon catches up to the group just in time to see Rickie take off again.

SHARON: (glaring) I didn't know I was going to need my running shoes this morning. (turns the glare on Rayanne and Jason) Okay, listen up, you two. Brian's birthday party is this Friday. (jabs her finger in the air in their direction) It's a *surprise*. (puts her hands on her hips) That means *no* blabbing. And you both better be there. And you better have *fun*, because Angela and I are going to more trouble than either of you could *possibly* realize to make this whole party a success. (pause) Understand?

Rayanne gives Sharon a look, but Jason has ignored most of Sharon's tirade. He looks off into space, a vaguely troubled look on his face.

RAYANNE: Cherski. Chill. This is Brian Krakow. Remember? All he needs for a successful party is a cupcake and a blow-up doll. (looks thoughtful) Actually, just the blow-up doll, really. (grins, shrugs) One trip to the Pleasure Center and we're done. (finger snap) Easy!

SHARON: (leans close to Rayanne, growls) No blow-up dolls. Just music, cake, and presents. And fun. We're *all* going to have *fun*, Graf. (stalks off after Rickie)

RAYANNE: (drily) Yeah. (slams her locker shut) I bet.

 

INT.SCHOOL HALLWAY

Brian and Angela are leaning against the wall, talking quietly. Rickie rushes up to them and interrupts.

RICKIE: Hey. Brian. (breathless, swallows) I can't thank you enough. What you said to me yesterday, it...it...helped. A lot. (wide grin) So thanks.

ANGELA: (curious, looks from Brian to Rickie) What? (looks back to Brian) What did you say?

BRIAN: (embarrassed) Uh...you know...nothing really.

RICKIE: (shrugs his shoulders, rolls his eyes dramatically) Yeah right. (to Angela) He only proved that he really does have the brains for a triple minor, that's all. (pause, grin, ruffles Brian's hair) They're just hard to see under that mop.

BRIAN: (half smile, backs away) Uh, no. I didn't do anything. (flustered) I have to get to class.

ANGELA: The bell didn't ring yet.

RAYANNE: (bounds up, grinning) Am I hearing things? I could have sworn somebody said Brian has a brain.

BRIAN: (avoids eye contact, uncomfortable with all the sudden attention, continues backing away) I have to get to class, you know, *early*.

ANGELA: (shrugs) Then I'll walk with you. (they walk off together)

RAYANNE: (snorts) Did I miss something or did Brian Krakow hypnotize Angela with one of his mechanical pencils? Since when did they become joined at the hip?

RICKIE: (gives Rayanne a pointed look) Maybe Brian isn't the only one with a brain.

 

EXT.TASTE OF HEAVEN--outside the loading entrance

Hallie and Graham both sit at a small table directly outside the kitchen entrance to the restaurant. Hallie is eating something while Graham pretends not to watch.

HALLIE: (scowls) If you don't stop studying me like I'm a bug I swear to God I'll start chewing with my mouth open. And trust me, that is *not* an image you'll want to take back into the kitchen.

GRAHAM: (flinches) Okay, okay. Sorry. (fidgets for a moment) I just haven't made much of an effort with red snapper before. (pause) With fish at *all*, really. I know I tend to give poultry dominance, but I shouldn't. There's a lot to be said for sea food. (swallows, hopeful) Isn't there?

HALLIE: (lifts an eyebrow) I certainly have something to say. Two things actually. The first thing is that I heard on "Crossfire" that poultry only achieved dominance over seafood through a large stockpile of chemical weapons. (Graham shoots her a quizzical look) Second, (slides the empty plate toward Graham) the phrase, 'More, please' springs to mind. Or, if that's too hard to understand, how about, 'I won't beat you senseless if you bring me another helping in the next five seconds?'

GRAHAM: (leans back in the chair, relieved) So it's okay? It's...good?

HALLIE: (rolls her eyes) Let's just say, if I were Patty, I would forgive you for pretty much anything after this. I mean, my God! You could kill off half my relatives and I wouldn't mind. (lifts her head, considering) You could probably kill off *all* my relatives for this. This is sauce is just...*wow*. (shrugs) So yes, that pretty much translates into, 'mmm, yum.'

GRAHAM: (runs a hand through his hair, exhales) Okay, that's great. (taps the edge of the table) Did you...did you get a chance to talk to Chris about what I mentioned? Is everything, you know, okay?

HALLIE: (looks furtively around, brings her wrist toward her mouth and speaks into her watch) The red snapper flies at midnight. (breaks into laughter) It's fine. (pushes her chair out, stands) It'll be fun.

GRAHAM: (sickly smile) Right. Fun.

HALLIE: (pats Graham's arm, heads into the restaurant with a broad smile) Did you know you look incredibly insecure when you're nervous? It's almost cute. (her smile disappears) But not quite.

GRAHAM: (turns to call after Hallie) I'm *not* nervous! (sighs, picks up the empty plate, sniffs it, frowns) I've already bypassed nervous. I think I'm heading into blind panic.

 

EXT.SCHOOL--courtyard--lunch

Delia, Sharon, Rayanne and Angela sit in a circle near the steps. The four of them eat out of white take-out cartons.

DELIA: (makes a notation in a notebook) Decorations, check.

RAYANNE: (digs her chopsticks into her container a little too zealously) Decorations? What kind of decorations? (closes her eyes, tilts her head back) Please tell me it's something good. Does this party at least have a theme? (opens her eyes) Like...I could wake up in the shower at any moment and I'll finally realize this whole Brian Krakow birthday thing has been a dream?

ANGELA: It's not a dream, Rayanne.

RAYANNE: (pouts) Well it *could* be. Try harder. Like, I could be in the shower right now with...

DELIA: (automatically) Brad Pitt.

Sharon looks disturbed at the mention of Brad Pitt, but no one seems to noticed.

RAYANNE: (considers) No...he's more of a bath man.

ANGELA: (smiling) Like you'd know.

RICKIE: (walks up to the group, hands in his coat pockets) Hey. Have you guys seen Jason?

RAYANNE: No. We haven't. (tugs on Rickie's coat) We have more important questions on our minds anyway.

RICKIE: (squats down beside Rayanne) Such as?

DELIA: Such as...is Brad Pitt a shower man or a bath man? (giggling) You know...when he has company?

RICKIE: (puts a hand to his face) Oh my God! I cannot *believe* you guys. You and your Brad Pitt. Do you really think I sit around all day long and fantasize about him? I mean, he is *so* not my type. Besides, I didn't come over here just to ask about Jason. (to Sharon) I wanted to let you know that I'll be at Brian's on Friday. I'm staying over, so there's no problem. (gets to his feet) I was going to tell you this morning, but I couldn't find you.

SHARON: (purses her lips, tight smile) I wonder why.

RICKIE: And I talked to Corey earlier. He's coming too.

DELIA: (makes another notation) So that's everybody, right? What do we do about food?

SHARON: Um, what about pizza?

ANGELA: My dad is, like, *the* cook. I think we'll manage.

RICKIE: What about a cake? Somebody's ordering a cake, right?

SHARON: That's done. (casts a quick look at Angela) Right?

ANGELA: (nodding) Right.

RICKIE: Okay then. I'm going to look for Jason. I'll catch you guys later. (pause) Oh, and one more thing...

ANGELA: (hair tuck) What?

RICKIE: (smile) Baths. Definitely.

 

EXT.SCHOOL--outside the side entrance

The four girls have finished lunch and are on their way back into the school building.

JORDAN: (OS) Angela!

Angela turns to see Jordan walk up behind her.

JORDAN: (inhales on a cigarette, doesn't look at her) Do you have a second?

ANGELA: Um...sure. (glances toward Delia, Sharon, and Rayanne) Go ahead. I'll be there in a minute.

RAYANNE: (helpful) Take your time.

Sharon and Delia pull Rayanne away from the doorway.

ANGELA: (risks a quick look at Jordan) So...how are things?

JORDAN: (shrugs) Fine. (tosses his cigarette on the ground, grinds it out with his heel) Okay, look. How come you didn't come hear me play last weekend or whatever?

ANGELA: (startled) I was...I was busy.

JORDAN: (pulls his shirt sleeves down over his hands) With Brian?

ANGELA: (stung) *No*. Not with Brian. I had to do some stuff for my mom. I'm...I'm sorry... (VO) That I hurt you. Not that I didn't go.

JORDAN: (quietly) Yeah. Me too.

ANGELA: (folds her arms, nervously) So...um, now what?

JORDAN: I don't know. I just wish you could, you know...

ANGELA: (she looks into Jordan's face) What?

JORDAN: Like...tell me why you're like this.

 

INT.HALLWAY

Rickie and Jason walk down the hall together, almost, but not quite arguing.

RICKIE: What are you talking about? I'm not acting different.

JASON: Yes you are. I mean, even if you subtract my low self-esteem veiled behind a grossly inflated ego, my all-encompassing paranoia, not to mention the stray chemicals I've ingested from hair spray and really cool dye jobs, I can *still* say you've been spending a lot of time with Brian Krakow lately. (pause) Which is not that big of a deal. (longer pause) Except of course, I can barely stand Krakow.

RICKIE: (stares at Jason, shocked) Are you, like, jealous...or something?

JASON: Um, I believe the correct answer is 'something.'

RICKIE: (steers Jason toward a stairwell where they have a semblance of privacy) I'm sorry if it bothers you that I spend a lot of time talking to Brian. He's my friend. I like him. (lowers his voice) But that doesn't change the fact that I, like, *like* you.

JASON: (nods, pleased) That's a good start. Keep going.

RICKIE: (sighs) We wouldn't be having this conversation if you would just try talking to Brian. He can be a really great friend.

JASON: Okay. *This* would be the part where our definition of "great" doesn't seem to mesh, apparently.

RICKIE: Come on. I know you guys don't get along that well. But Brian is, like...(searching for the correct word) he's just...shy or something.

JASON: (covers his heart with one hand, wounded) *I'm* shy! (beat) You know, in my own way.

RICKIE: (laughs, incredulous) What way would that be? The "get-in-the-face-of-total-strangers-show-them-your-scars-and-criticize-their-fashion-sense" way?

JASON: (grins) Exactly.

The bell rings and students scatter to their classes. Rickie and Jason both remain near the stairs.

RICKIE: So...what movies did you rent? (clears throat, looks down) If you still, like, wanted to hang out later. Or whatever.

JASON: (waves away the implication) And burst your bubble by taking my beatific presence from your life? I couldn't live with the guilt.

RICKIE: (head tilt, smiles at Jason, sensing Jason's true feelings) Thank God for guilt.

They start up the steps together and move out of camera range.

RICKIE: (OS) I don't suppose you got any movies with Brad Pitt or anything?

 

INT.CHASE HOUSE--kitchen

Patty sits at the breakfast nook while Danielle stands in front of her, continually grimacing while Patty braids her hair.

DANIELLE: Ugh! Not so hard! Are you trying to pull out *all* my hair? Do you have any idea what kind of stress early hair loss would even have on me? (tries to turn her head to see Patty) I mean, do you?

PATTY: (wearily) Do you want me to braid your hair or not?

DANIELLE: (turns back to the front) My hair has to look perfect. I mean, it's bad enough I have to go to this stupid party.

PATTY: (lays the brush on the table) You begged me for two weeks straight to go to this stupid party.

DANIELLE: Of course I did. (beat) That was before I found out Cindy was having a scavenger hunt. Who has scavenger hunts for their twelfth birthday? It's just...not done!

PATTY: Then I guess you'll have to break it to Cindy gently, okay? Maybe after the cake and ice cream.

DANIELLE: (folds her arms, in a huff) That's *so* funny, mom. Not.

PATTY: That's me. The not funny mom. (frowns) Hold still, will you please? Thank you. (fastens rubber band around Danielle's braid)

Angela storms into the kitchen.

ANGELA: (tosses something on the table) How many times have I told you to keep your junk out of my room?

DANIELLE: (overjoyed) My blue hair band! (to Angela) Do you have *any* idea how long I've been looking for this? (races for the door, already pulling out the braid Patty just put in) Now I don't have to look like a huge geek for Cindy's party!

ANGELA: (calls after her sister) Too late!

PATTY: (sighs, more out of habit than actual anger) Angela. Don't use that tone of voice on your sister.

Angela ignores Patty and rummages noisily in the refrigerator for several minutes. Patty gathers up some business papers, valiantly trying to ignore Angela's behavior, but the effort becomes too much.

PATTY: (whirls toward Angela) *What* are you looking for?

ANGELA: (peers at Patty, hair tuck) Where's the cake? The cake is supposed to be here. Mom, Brian's party is *tonight*.

PATTY: Couldn't you have just asked instead of making a huge mess? I'm picking it up over lunch.

ANGELA: (closes fridge) Okay. But don't forget. This party has to be perfect. Brian deserves that. And Sharon has been trying really hard to plan everything just right. And Rickie totally deserves to have a good time too.

PATTY: I'm sure everyone will have fun, Angela. Just try not to force it, all right?

ANGELA: (rolls her eyes, annoyed) Oh please. Like I'd do that.

EXT.CHASE HOUSE--front porch

Angela steps out onto the front porch in time to see the bus turn onto her street. She glances toward the Krakow house, apparently looking for Brian, and slowly heads for the bus. Seconds later, Brian's front door flies open and he hurries toward the bus, looking upset.

ANGELA: (VO, boarding bus) It seems like every single year Brian's parents promise to give him a ride to school on his birthday. And every single year he ends up having to take the bus. (she takes a seat, watches Brian board the bus) I guess it doesn't really matter considering Brian will be able to drive himself to school in a few weeks. (pause) Then again, maybe that's why Brian's parents want him on the bus.

Brian walks down the aisle and spots Angela.

ANGELA: (VO) I really wanted him to sit next to me. I wanted to wish him a happy birthday and have a really great talk with him. (pause) Well, as great as you can get in the twelve minute ride to school. (shifts in her seat suddenly and drops her book bag onto the empty seat beside her) But then I thought, if I mentioned his birthday, what if I said something about the party? Not, you know, *out loud*, but accidentally? What if he could just, like, tell something was going on?

Brian stares at the book bag on the seat beside Angela, frowns, and keeps walking. He slumps into the empty seat behind her.

ANGELA: (VO, closes her eyes, grimaces) All I could think about was the fact I wanted to talk to Brian. (pause) Only I was ignoring him instead. (slumps in her seat, mirroring Brian) On his birthday. (Brian sighs heavily and Angela rolls her eyes) I hate it when he does that. Sometimes it was *so* much easier when I was immune to Brian-guilt. (takes a deep breath,

arranges a bright smile on her face, turns in her seat) Hey. Brian.

BRIAN: (morose) Hey. (starts to say something, stops, starts again) Have you...have you ever expected your day to go a certain way...only it goes, like, the *complete* opposite? So that by, like, seven forty-five it's already fifty times worse than you ever imagined it could be?

ANGELA: (clears throat) Did you, ah, forget about that history test today?

BRIAN: (annoyed) No. I did *not* forget about the test. I...(trails off, looks at Angela, softly) Do you know what today is?

ANGELA: (hair tuck, nervous smile) Um, Friday?

 

INT.HALLWAY

Sharon opens her locker with more force than necessary.

SHARON: (miserable) Oh my God, did you see the look on his face? Did you? There's not going to be any party. Krakow is either going to kill himself--or us--long before tonight comes.

RAYANNE: (mutters, blowing bubbles) I know which one *I* vote for.

RICKIE: (grabs the bubble container and wand from Rayanne, annoyed) Give me that.

RAYANNE: Hey!

SHARON: (staring into her locker) This was a horrible idea. We're supposed to be making Brian feel *better*. I can't believe I put this much energy into an idea this...this...*horrible*.

 

INT.TASTE OF HEAVEN--early afternoon

Graham leans against the center island, his head in his hands. Hallie stands in the doorway, her coat over one arm.

HALLIE: It's *not* a horrible idea. You're just nervous. (pause) Of course, normal people have to build up to the level of angst you wake up with every morning, but hey. Nobody's perfect.

GRAHAM: (speaks through his hands) If you're trying to make me feel better, you're failing miserably.

HALLIE: (sighs) Okay. Let's try this again. (lays her coat across the island) I think this dinner thing you have planned is a good idea. You love Patty and you're basically the best cook ever. I mean, none of that's news, right? So. Try to have fun tonight. Your whole marriage shouldn't hinge on whether the red snapper is dry or not. All right?

GRAHAM: (exhales slowly) You're right. You're right. It's just...I'm not even sure I'll be able to get her here.

HALLIE: (grabs her coat, heads for the office) Of course you wouldn't be able to get her here. That's where Chris and I come in.

Graham is left alone in the large kitchen.

GRAHAM: (calling after her) Wait a minute. The red snapper was *dry*?

 

INT.HALLWAY--afternoon

RAYANNE: (slaps Sharon's arm) Cheer up, Cherski. You survived the World Happiness fiasco. (grimaces as Rickie blows a stream of bubbles into her face)

RICKIE: Don't worry. Everything will be okay. (hands the bottle back to Rayanne, looks from Sharon to Angela) It will. Really.

RAYANNE: How do you know, Vasquez? You've been so low lately you practically need a ladder to smile. Since when did you become Pep Talk Boy?

RICKIE: (shrugs) What can I say? Maybe things aren't as bad as I thought.

RAYANNE: (scowls) If you so much as *try* to use the saying 'darkest before the dawn' or any phrase with the words 'silver lining,' I swear to God I'll make you drink this stuff.

ANGELA: (squeezing Rickie's arm) Well, *I'm* really glad you're feeling better.

SHARON: (tired smile) Yeah. Me too.

RAYANNE: (blowing bubbles at Rickie) I suppose your not-so-subtle point is that Saint Bri is the one that made life worth living again?

RICKIE: (smile) Not exactly. My not-so-subtle point is maybe *your* life would be worth living if you didn't expend so much energy hating Brian.

RAYANNE: (disgusted) Please! Hating Brian Krakow *is* my reason for living. (getting into it, being dramatic) Hating Brian Krakow makes the world go 'round. (she puts her hand over her heart as if saying the pledge of allegiance) Hating Brian Krakow is the American way. Hating Brian Krakow is good for you. In fact, nothing cheers up sick children better than coloring books and hating Brian Krakow. (Nodding solemnly to herself) I think the Surgeon General proved it.

SHARON: (grabs a book, shuts her locker, and leans against it) Come on Graf. Do you *really* hate Brian that much?

RAYANNE: What would you say if I did?

Angela looks horrified.

RAYANNE: (scowls at Angela) Don't even *try* that lip tremble-chin quiver thing on me. (put upon sigh) Okay. I'm only going to say this once, so listen up. (lopes down the hallway, lets the others work to keep up with her) When Brian's not being a sniveling, whining pathetic coward, depressed, or acting all superior, he can actually be mildly interesting.

(throws a look at Angela) Of course, that only leaves, like, what? A thirty second window each day where he's actually tolerable. And he usually sleeps right through that. (scoffing) And you guys thought I couldn't stop insulting him.

RICKIE: (drily) Oh yeah. That was great, Rayanne.

SHARON: (annoyed) I just can't believe you're really that annoyed by Brian.

RAYANNE: (scowling) Please! You're as annoyed by Krakow as I am, Cherski! Or at least you used to be. Y'know. *Before*.

Rayanne trails off as Corey Helfrick comes up to join the group.

SHARON: (greeting Corey) Hey. (to Rayanne) What do you mean by that? Before what?

RAYANNE: (thinking about whether or not to get into it, sighing) Before Kyle died. Ever since you found out Kyle killed himself, you've been acting like it's your personal mission to save everyone who feels depressed. Especially Krakow. (pause, softly) Throwing Krakow the best party *ever* isn't going to save Kyle, Sharon. (shaking her head) Nothing ever is.

Corey, Angela, and Rickie stare at Rayanne and Sharon uncomfortably.

RAYANNE: (softly) Sorry, Cherski. But I had to say it.

SHARON: (softly, choking back tears) You did?

RAYANNE: Yup. Because it's what you do. When someone's your friend. (pause, shrugs) I heard that somewhere. (pause) You have to let it go.

Sharon swallows slowly and nods at Rayanne.

RAYANNE: (hefting her bag onto her shoulder) I have to get going.

SHARON: (swiping at her cheek) You better show up, Graf! Or else!

RAYANNE: (over her shoulder) Yeah, yeah.

ANGELA: (not sure what just transpired) Are you okay, Sharon?

SHARON: (nodding slowly to herself) I think I will be.

COREY: (to Sharon) Are you ready to get going?

SHARON: Sure. Let's go. I have an unscheduled stop I want to make though, okay?

COREY: Whatever you want.

 

INT.KATIMSKI'S APARTMENT--evening

Joseph and Katimski sit on the couch, Rickie is sandwiched between them. Martin sits in a nearby chair, his expression cool.

MARTIN: I'm very pleased that you took the time to reconsider things. (tight smile directed at Rickie) I should think you'd be quite happy to get back home, Enrique.

RICKIE: (takes a deep breath, collects himself) I *am* home.

MARTIN: (scowls at Katimski) What's the point of this meeting then? You led me to believe a decision had been made. (lifts a finger, points it at Richard) The *correct* decision. I would have sent my lawyer otherwise. You could waste his time instead of mine.

JOSEPH: (smug) Is that how you see this? An opportunity to see Rickie is a waste of time? Interesting.

MARTIN: (glaring) Kindly refrain from putting words in my mouth.

JOSEPH: Why not? I like the ones I put there *so* much better than anything you seem to come up with.

KATIMSKI: (frowns a warning) Joseph...(to Martin) Mr. Vasquez, I'm sorry you feel Enrique's decision is not the correct one. (shrug, look of determination) We think it is.

MARTIN: (snappish) Of course you do. You think he'll be staying *here*. Well I've got news for you: he won't. (glaring at Rickie) Don't get too comfortable, Rickie.

KATIMSKI: See, that's where you're wrong. Rickie *should* get comfortable. He should feel at home wherever he lives. He should feel loved. Safe. Accepted. (shakes his head) And I hate to say it, Mr. Vasquez, but I really don't think Enrique felt any of those things while he was living with you.

MARTIN: (standing) You can tell it to my lawyer.

RICKIE: (trembling) No! I don't want to tell it to your lawyer. I-I want to tell *you*.

MARTIN: (hesitates) Tell me what?

RICKIE: (his voice wavers as he begins speaking, but gradually, his voice grows stronger and more controlled) That I'm not going with you. Ever. No matter how many lawyers you hire, no matter what you say to me. (pause) Because the truth is...is...that you hurt me. With your words...and with your...your fists. (swallows) And I don't think I deserve that. Not anymore.

And maybe...I never did.

MARTIN: (crosses his arms, lifts an eyebrow) So now you plan to malign me? Is that it?

JOSEPH: (seething) That's enough, Vasquez. You know damn well Rickie is telling the truth. (pause) You're probably just having an allergic reaction. Wait a moment. It will pass.

KATIMSKI: Just think about this, uh, Mr. Vasquez. There are dozens of witnesses that have seen Rickie bruised and beaten after he was forced from your house. Witnesses who will vouch for his credibility. His honesty. Can you say the same? Because you know as well as I do that any court appearance is going to go from being about guardianship to scrutinizing

your character. (tight smile) Now, I happen to feel Enrique has more character and integrity than...well...almost anyone I've ever known. You, on the other hand, seem to be...sorely lacking. Apparently, it doesn't run in the family.

RICKIE: (looks from Joseph to Katimski, blinks back tears, smiles) Yes it does.

 

INT.CHASE HOUSE--living room--late afternoon

Camille and Patty sit on the couch, two empty mugs rest on the coffee table.

CAMILLE: So what do you say? How about a nice getaway with Andy and me? Fun in the sun. Fun out of the sun. (winks) A little skinny dipping could be just what the doctor ordered.

PATTY: (smirks) Funny, my fantasies about drowning Graham don't often involve nudity.

CAMILLE: (inches closer to Patty) Oh honey, are things still that bad?

PATTY: Not really. They're probably worse. It's like living with a stranger. I don't know. Worse than that. A ghost. (pause) But the thing is, Camille, *I'm* the ghost. I don't think he even sees me anymore. I don't know why I'm surprised. I've been invisible to the kids for years.

CAMILLE: You're aren't invisible, Patty. It's obvious that Graham loves you.

PATTY: (snorts) To who? (sits in silence for a moment, bites her lip) Do you think that's why Angela dyed her hair?

CAMILLE: What are you talking about? Because of you and Graham?

PATTY: Yes. No. I mean, maybe she dyed her hair because she felt invisible. Because she wanted to be noticed. To be *seen*. By us. (leans back on the couch) Then again, I practically give myself a crew cut and it does nothing.

CAMILLE: (concerned) Don't say that. Of course it did something. It made you look incredibly sexy and sophisticated, honey.

PATTY: A lot of good that does me considering my husband has turned speaking in monosyllables into an art.

CAMILLE: All the more reason to come spend a weekend at the cottage with Andy and me.

PATTY: (squeezes her eyes shut, grimaces) Our last getaway wasn't particularly successful in rekindling the romance.

CAMILLE: That weekend with Neil and the hussy at the bed and breakfast? You never really said what happened up there.

PATTY: And I *never* will.

They are interrupted by the doorbell.

PATTY: (stands, sighing) If it's not Ed McMahon, I'm not answering it. (takes a few steps and gasps) Oh God. It's *her*.

CAMILLE: Her who?

PATTY: Hallie.

CAMILLE: (lifts an eyebrow) Do you want me to kill her? I'm pretty sure I could make it look like an accident.

PATTY: (laughter) Camille, hush. Anyway, that wouldn't work. She's with someone.

Patty opens the door. The doorway frames Hallie and Chris.

HALLIE: (all smiles) Hi Patty, I'm really sorry to bother you-- (senses movement beyond Patty and peers into the living room) oh, it's Camille, right? How are you?

CAMILLE: (OS) Just great.

HALLIE: Well, that's wonderful. Anyway, Patty, the reason I'm here is that Graham needed--oh my God, I can't believe I forgot to introduce you to Chris. (gestures toward an amused Chris) This is Chris, my boyfriend. Chris, this is Patty. The long suffering wife of the world's most anal cook.

PATTY: (barely listening) Nice to meet you. What did Graham need? (pauses, looks from Hallie to Chris and notices the man is holding Hallie's hand) Wait a minute, Chris is your, uh, boyfriend?

CHRIS: I prefer the term "Significant American."

Chris and Hallie burst into laughter. Patty laughs too, but more out of relief and tension.

PATTY: (extends her hand to Chris, flustered) Hi. So, ah, Graham sent you here? (takes a hesitant step backward) Do you want to come in?

HALLIE: I'd love to come in. (Patty's smile petrifies) But we don't really have time. We're on our way to a movie. I'm just the messenger. So, don't shoot me!

PATTY: (startled) What?!

HALLIE: It's a joke. You know, don't shoot the messenger?

PATTY: (weakly) Oh right. Of course. So...what do you need?

CHRIS: It's what Graham needs apparently. There's a really important guest coming to the restaurant tonight and he's in a total panic.

HALLIE: He's desperate for the cookbook on top of the microwave. Not the big one, but the little one with the blue cover. (pauses, thoughtful) Or did he ask for the big one? (shrugs) I guess you better bring both.

PATTY: (incredulous) Me? Can't you take them back?

CHRIS: (puts an arm around Hallie) No way. This little workaholic isn't going near that restaurant for one more minute tonight.

HALLIE: (smiling, earnest) You don't mind, do you?

 

EXT.CEMETERY

Corey's car stands parked along the road the winds through the cemetery. Corey gets out and Sharon exits the passenger side, holding a small plant. Corey comes around the car, making as if to come with Sharon.

SHARON: (tentatively) Corey, do you think you could take a walk or something. I really need to do this alone.

COREY: Sure. (looks at his watch) Just keep an eye on the time. You don't want to be late for the party after you threatened loss of appendages to those who were tardy.

SHARON: (small smile) I won't be. This shouldn't take long.

COREY: Okay.

Corey moves back in the direction of the car, where the sun is setting in the sky, and Sharon continues on, looking at the graves. She stops at one about halfway down the row. It doesn't look very old. A close-up of the headstone says "KYLE VINOVICH". The wind blows through Sharon's hair, and all throughout the scene it whips around her head, and she halfheartedly pushes it out of her eyes.

SHARON: Hi, Kyle. I know I haven't been here since the funeral. For awhile I told myself that I would come every week. But now I don't think that I will. (pause) Your funeral was hard for me. It's like I couldn't even take it in yet. (pause, bites her lip) And to be honest, I've never been to funeral before. I guess I've never really known what they were for. The day of your funeral I just couldn't stop crying. I guess maybe I was in shock. (pause) And I felt so guilty about it. About using you. Even though, in some ways I think you used me too. (pause) But for some reason, I still haven't been able to let go of this . . . this . . .*feeling* that I have. So, just like the people you used to make fun of, *I've* been going to Crazy Krzyzanowski. No one really knows about it except my parents. I know you *never* would have gone to her. Sometimes I wish you had. Maybe she could have helped you. (She brushes the hair out of her eyes) She helped me finally figure out what *I* was feeling. It wasn't sadness anymore. And it wasn't guilt, because Brian really helped me forgive myself. (pause, her face hardens) What I'm feeling now is anger. I'm angry that you did this to me Kyle. And to yourself. I'm angry because I was looking forward to being friends with you. I was looking forward to seeing you find somebody new. I was even looking forward to seeing you at our reunion and wanting to kick myself for ever breaking up with you when I saw how you looked and how your life had turned out. But now I can't do that. (still matter-of-fact, not venomous) Because you were a coward. Because what you did-- it was just another way to try and control me. I understand that now. (pause) And as much as killing yourself was about sadness, it was also about, like, *power*. And I can't let you have the power to make me this angry for the rest of my life. So maybe it's not enough to forgive myself. Maybe I have to forgive you. (pause, she bends down to put the plant on Kyle's grave) I'm still not positive, but I think I know now what funerals are for. To make peace with the dead person. And that's what I came to do. Even if I am a month too late. (stands & wipes off her knees) I forgive you Kyle. And I'm sorry if I hurt you. (she brushes the hair out of her eyes a final time and smiles sadly) Good-bye, Kyle.

Sharon turns and slowly walks back toward Corey's car. He is waiting inside it, listening to the soft sounds of the radio. As she opens the door and gets in, he switches it off.

COREY: Is everything okay?

SHARON: (nodding) Yes. (She seems surprised) I think that it is.

COREY: (starting the car) So, now it's onto Brian's house for the party?

SHARON: (shakes her head quickly, back to her "organized" self) No! We have to go to Angela's first! Angela's house is the staging area for the party,

COREY: (dubious, but amused) The "staging area"?

SHARON: Right. Then we're going to go over to Brian's house in waves, so as not to make too suspicious. Angela and I will be the first wave. Then Delia and Jason. And finally you and Rayanne if she bothers to show up.

COREY: (nodding with mock seriousness) Okay. Then we'll have a wave of navy seals with balloons and then a battalion of tanks carrying the cake. (Sharon looks at him quizzically, as he begins to laugh evilly and twist his nonexistent moustache in his best melodrama villain fashion) Our invasion of Brian's house will then be complete! From there we can continue our plan to seriously inconvenience the world! Mwah-hah-hah!

SHARON: (with a slight smile) You're a little twisted, aren't you?

COREY: (smiles back) A little. (Pause) Does that bother you?

SHARON: No. (Thinking) Actually it's sort of refreshing.

COREY: Cool. (He nods at her, flips the radio back on, and puts the car into gear)

INT.KRAKOW HOUSE--living room

Brian sits cross-legged on the couch while Rickie prattles happily from the floor. A bag of chips and container of dip sit on the coffee table. Rickie munches frequently while he talks. Brian appears to be making an effort to listen to his friend.

RICKIE: (excitedly) You should have heard him. God, Brian, it was *so* cool. Katimski was amazing! And so was Joseph. They were *both* amazing. And I actually told my uncle how I felt! (huge grin, takes a bite out of a chip) I don't know which feels better: the fact that I actually told Martin how I felt, or the fact that he's going back to Wisconsin tomorrow. (pause) Without me!

BRIAN: (faint smile) Probably the fact you, like, stood up for yourself. But I'm glad that he's leaving.

RICKIE: I know. And since we’re talking about asinine parents, I can't believe yours are at a seminar. Especially tonight.

BRIAN: (perks up slightly, stares at Rickie, hopeful) Why? What's tonight?

RICKIE: (backpedaling) Oh you know, just a Friday. (shovels a chip into the dip) But you're supposed to have fun on Friday nights, not do work stuff or whatever.

A loud pounding on the door startles Brian. He starts to get off the couch but Rickie moves faster.

RICKIE: (jumps to his feet and hurries to the door, speaks as if he is reading from a script) Gosh, I wonder who that could be.

Rickie opens the door and Sharon bustles past him.

SHARON: Hi Rickie, hi Brian. I'm sorry to barge in like this but if I don't barge I'm going to drop four liter bottles of soda all over your carpet. And *I'm* not going to be the one to clean that up.

Angela follows Sharon inside and drops her book bag near the table.

ANGELA: (her words sound only slightly rehearsed) Hey. I hope you guys don't mind, but Sharon and I were bored. Mind if we hang out for a while?

BRIAN: (staring as Sharon putters in his kitchen) Why do you have four liters of soda?

SHARON: (gives Brian a look) You can never have too much caffeine, Krakow. It's, like, a rule or something.

ANGELA: (grabs Brian's arm) Can you come upstairs with me for a minute?

The doorbell rings and Rickie lets Jason and Delia in. The three of them begin whispering and join Sharon in the kitchen.

BRIAN: (suspicious of both Angela's request and the group in the kitchen) Um, what's...what's going on here?

ANGELA: Huh? Nothing? Let's go upstairs.

BRIAN: (torn between wanting to go with Angela and monitoring the growing chaos in the kitchen) Why? What's upstairs?

ANGELA: (pulls Brian by the arm toward the stairs) Games. We need games. Sharon and I want to play a game. Do you still have Monopoly? Or maybe we could play Yahtzee even though I haven't played that in ages and probably still suck at it.

The doorbell rings again and Brian hesitates on the landing. Voices carry up to them. He strains to see who the newest guest is.

BRIAN: Angela, wait. Who is that?

ANGELA: (smiles, shrugs) I don't know. Rickie will take care of it.

BRIAN: (anger and suspicion growing) I'm not going upstairs. Why are all these people, like, coming to my house?

ANGELA: (continues to pull at Brian) Oh please. It's not 'all these people'. It's just Corey, Delia and Jason.

 

INT.KRAKOW HOUSE--Brian's bedroom

They enter his room and Angela flips on the light switch. She surveys his room, trying to remember where the games are.

ANGELA: How do you feel about Trivial Pursuit?

BRIAN: (clenches his fists) Angela. I don't care about some stupid game. I just want to know what's going on. I want to-- (Brian reaches out for the door frame and closes his eyes tightly) --oh God.

ANGELA: (drops the charade, concerned) Brian? Are you okay?

BRIAN: (quietly, staring at the far wall, his voice a monotone) Tell me this isn't another attempt to get Jordan Catalano over to my house.

ANGELA: (confused) What are you talking about?

BRIAN: (his face is flushed) You know, I can't help thinking that a party is, like, a *lot* easier than pretending to help me with some stupid science project, right? I can't believe this! (convinced his idea is the truth) My parents are gone so you can invite half the school over and do whatever you want. Who cares that this is my house? (his voice cracks) That *I'm* still here.

ANGELA: (blinks at Brian, stunned by his outburst) Is that what you think is going on? This is some elaborate plot to set me up with Jordan? (her face tightens) What is wrong with your brain, Krakow? I thought we were beyond all...all...*this*.

BRIAN: (looks at the floor) So did I.

ANGELA: (angry) Fine. If you want to be completely paranoid and delusional, feel free to sit up here and feel sorry for yourself. *I'm* not going to sit up here with you. (heads for the door)

BRIAN: Wait. Wait a second. (runs his hands through his hair) If this isn't, like, some big scheme, then what is it?

ANGELA: (the desperate look on Brian's face deflates most of Angela's anger) Brian. How can you be so smart and so stupid at the same time? Is it that hard to believe that we just came over to see *you*?

BRIAN: (sinks onto the bed) Well, considering how the rest of my life has turned out, I'd sort of have to say yes.

ANGELA: (smiles a little, hair tuck) Can you just tell me where to find Trivial Pursuit?

BRIAN: (resigned) In the closet. Second shelf. (watches Angela dust the top of the box off with one of her sweater sleeves) I never really pictured Jordan as a big fan of Trivial Pursuit.

ANGELA: (drops the box beside Brian on the bed) God, Brian, will you shut up already? This is *not* about Jordan. This is about you. Your ego should be thrilled. (peers into Brian's face) I mean, do you *want* this to be about Jordan?

BRIAN: (clears his throat) Well, um, no. Not really.

ANGELA: Okay then. Come on. We can go back downstairs.

BRIAN: (shakes his head) I'm not sure I can. (quickly) Not because I, like, feel sorry for myself or something. I'm just...kind of tired. I don't really feel like, you know, partying. (shrugs) Or whatever.

ANGELA: (holds out her hand, smiles) Come on. You can party a little. After all, it *is* your birthday.

BRIAN: (his face transforms, he takes her hand tentatively) You...you remembered?

ANGELA: (gives him a radiant smile, speaks gently) Of course I did. We all did. This is *your* party, Krakow.

 

INT.TASTE OF HEAVEN

The front door swings open and Patty enters the restaurant. She stares for a moment, nonplused. The main seating area is deserted. The hostess approaches from the far end of the lobby.

GIRL: I'm sorry ma'am, the restaurant is reserved for a special--(she recognizes Patty and her plastic smiles widens into the real thing) Oh, Patty! Do you have the cookbooks? Graham will be so relieved. (pointing toward the small private room reserved for special events) He's getting things ready right in there.

PATTY: Thanks. (looks around at the piles of fresh flowers and candles on each table and shakes her head, mutters) Who's the big guest? The Pope?

Patty takes a deep breath as she reaches for one of the large french doors that opens into the private room. She turns the handle, opens the door, and the camera zooms in for a close-up of her face so that we only see her stunned reaction, and not what is inside the room.

 

INT.KRAKOW HOUSE--living room

The living room is strung with haphazardly hung streamers. A colorful bouquet of balloons hangs from the ceiling. Assorted plates of cookies and other treats line the coffee table, along with a stack of plastic cups and one the liter bottles that Sharon brought. Brian is back on the couch. He is seated in the center; Angela is on one side of him, Rickie is on the other. Sharon and Delia sit in nearby chairs and Jason is perched on the sofa arm beside Rickie. Corey is looking through a stack of CD's beside the stereo.

DELIA: (leans forward, eager, to Brian) So, were you surprised?

BRIAN: (raises his eyebrows, matter-of-factly) Well, I sort of suspected--

Angela and Rickie simultaneously give Brian playful slaps. Angela on his arm, and Rickie across his chest.

ANGELA and RICKIE: (outraged laughter) Liar!

BRIAN: (shrugs, sheepish smile) Okay, maybe I didn't suspect. (pause, his smile grows wider and he chuckles) Like, at *all*.

SHARON: (pleased) Good. Happy birthday, Krakow. (purses her lips, considering) Of course it would probably be happier if I had bought those smiley face party hats like I had wanted.

RICKIE: (thoughtful) Those yellow smiley faces? I don't like those. They're creepy. (his declaration is met with much laughter but he defends his theory) I mean it! It is just *not* normal to smile that much.

BRIAN: (shrugs) He has a point.

RICKIE: (to Brian) Thank you.

JASON: Uh, Corey, how about some music? Preferably something loud. (pause) To drown out this scintillating conversation.

COREY: I'm looking, I'm looking.

RICKIE: (elbows Jason) Come on, admit it. You think those smiley faces are a *little* weird, right?

JASON: The only thing that's a little weird is the fact you're still talking about this.

There is a flurry of knocks at the door. Before Sharon can get to the door, Rayanne pokes her head in, a panicked expression on her face.

RAYANNE: (slamming the door, she turns to face the others, wringing her hands in an exaggerated manner) Did I miss all the fun? Am I too late for Tiddly Winks? Is it time to watch E.T. phone home?

DELIA: That reminds me, I did bring movies. (throws Rayanne a look) *Not* E.T.

RAYANNE: (flounces over to the couch, squeezes herself between Jason and Rickie) I *knew* this party wasn't going to be any fun.

BRIAN: What movies?

DELIA: That new version of Romeo and Juliet with Claire what's-her-name and--

ANGELA: (wrinkles her nose) God, she's *so* annoying.

RICKIE: (shrugs) It was an okay movie. (pause) Leo was shirtless.

DELIA: (nodding) You do have a point.

COREY: (interrupting) We can watch movies later. Right now it's time for a little dancing. (holding a CD in one hand, he moves toward the others) The reason we're all here is obviously because of Brian's birthday, but there are other things we should celebrate as well.

BRIAN: Like Rickie's new family.

Cheers and whistles greet Brian's statement.

COREY: (nods) Exactly. This had also been a tough semester for a lot of us. Especially Brian and Sharon. But since this party is for Brian, I'd like to dedicate a song to Sharon. (pause, looks over to Rickie and Jason) I could use a little help though.

Sharon squirms in her seat and casts Angela a quizzical look. Angela shrugs. Rayanne, Jason, and Rickie lean forward to look at the CD Corey is holding and break into laughter. The three of them get to their feet.

RICKIE: (offers Sharon his hand) May I have this dance?

SHARON: (shrinking into the chair) Why do I feel like I'm about to be humiliated?

RAYANNE: (rubs her hands together, excited) Cuz you are!

Grinning, Corey presses the play button on the stereo and a series of familiar chords blasts through the room. Sharon covers her face with her hands and groans. Angela and Brian break into laughter as the sound of The Knack’s "My Sharona" swirls around them. Rayanne gyrates wildly to the song and helps Rickie pull Sharon out of her chair. They dance wildly, lip-syncing to the song. Angela attempts to pry Brian off the couch, but he resists with a shake of his head and a tight smile. Within minutes, everyone is laughing and dancing around the living room except for Brian. He watches the group from the safety of the couch. He smiles at Rickie and Delia's exaggerated dance moves and the look of exhilaration on Angela's face as she bounces in time to the music with Rayanne. Her hair flies around her face. The camera circles all of them repeatedly as they ham it up. The scene conveys a sense of joy and release. Finally, the song ends and they collapse onto various pieces of furniture. Laughing and exhausted, no one notices that Brian has moved to the bottom of the stairs. He watches Angela another moment, turns away, and hurries quietly up the steps. Sharon is flopped in a chair, recovering from her dancing. Corey sits on the floor by her feet, breathing hard, looking up at her. She catches him looking.

SHARON: What?

COREY: (shakes his head) Nothing. (Pause, turns back) You weren't really that embarrassed, were you?

SHARON: I'm not embarrassed. I do wonder how come you have CDs from back before we were even born, though.

COREY: (confused look) Wait. That song's from Reality Bites, right? That was just a couple years ago. (Sharon laughs and gives him a soft kick) So, do you think you might want to dance with a twisted guy like me?

SHARON: (nodding) Sometime. Just not tonight. Is that okay?

COREY: That's cool. (Pause) Is it because of Kyle?

SHARON: Partly. But also, tonight isn't about couples. It's about friends. If we tried to make it into something else, it could ruin it. I mean, with Krakow as the guest of honor, it's on the precipice of doom anyway. (Pause) Does that make any sense?

COREY: (smiling) No. But I think I get what you mean anyway.

SHARON: (nodding) Cool.

 

INT.THE LOFT

Jordan sits on the edge of worn chair, head down, playing the guitar. He is singing the song "Red" softly, almost absently. He plays a wrong chord and stops abruptly. He shakes the hair out of his eyes and begins playing again, but this time, the song is different. We recognize the song from Episode 20. It is "Chasing the Dream", the song he was writing for Angela.

Haltingly, he sings lyrics. The words begin as a whisper, but gradually, they become louder and blend sweetly/sadly with the melody.

JORDAN: (singing) Did I dream you?
Were you real?
When I close my eyes,
I can almost feel
your hand in mine...

He is interrupted by the shrill sound of the phone. Sighing, he sets his guitar down and reaches for the phone.

JORDAN: Yeah? (listens, shrugs) Nah. I'm busy. (pause) Working on a song. Huh? No, a different one. (cradles the phone against his shoulder and pulls both sleeves of his shirt down over his fingers, takes the phone back in one covered hand) Sure. Yeah. Tomorrow's fine. Okay then. Later, Tino.

Jordan hangs up the phone. He reaches for his guitar and stares at it for a long moment. Then, he puts it back down and reaches for the phone again. He seems hesitant and unsure. Finally he dials a number. We hear the phone on the other end ring several times and then a 'click' as the answering machine picks up.

DANIELLE: (VO) No one here can come to the phone right now, because everyone in this house is so consumed with themselves that no one can be bothered to pay any attention to *me* much less answer the phone.

PATTY: (VO) Danielle, what are you doing?

DANIELLE: (VO) (loudly) Nothing! (Softly) Oops, busted. Leave a message okay?

There are several short beeps followed by a long one. Jordan opens his mouth to speak and then closes it again, abruptly. He hangs up the phone and picks up his guitar again. He clears his throat and begins playing Angela's song again, but near the end of the song.

Chasing after you
Is much harder than it seems
But I'm gonna keep on chasing
Cause chasing you
Is just like chasing a dream . . .

He finishes strumming the final chord and smiles to himself.

INT.KRAKOW HOUSE--living room

Non-specific music plays in the background. Corey, Delia, and Sharon are dancing in a clump. Rayanne and Jason are watching TV, but periodically argue over the remote.

SHARON: (glances around) Where's Brian?

RICKIE: I think I saw him go upstairs.

SHARON: (in command mode) Good. Angela, can you help me get the cake ready?

ANGELA: (on the couch with Rickie, her head on his shoulder) I'm busy.

Sharon observes Angela with a frown, but before she can comment, Delia volunteers her services.

DELIA: I'll help. (curious) Who brought the cake?

ANGELA: (lifts her head from Rickie's shoulder, tilts her head over the back of the couch so she has an upside down view of Sharon and Delia moving toward the kitchen) My mom brought it over to Berneice this afternoon. (drops her head back onto Rickie's shoulder and sighs heavily)

RICKIE: (taking her cue) What's wrong?

ANGELA: (keeps her voice low) I waited too long. As usual.

RICKIE: For what?

ANGELA: (turns slightly to see if anyone is listening, secure, she turns back to Rickie) To tell him how I feel.

RICKIE: (stares at the top of Angela's head, softly) Are you talking about Jordan or Brian?

ANGELA: To tell you the truth, I haven't really been thinking about Jordan all that much. And even when I, like, try to think about what's going on with us, I just end up thinking about Brian.

RICKIE: (lifts an eyebrow, smiles) You do?

ANGELA: (nods) And the problem is, I've been thinking about him in a more... um... um...(trails off, flustered)

RICKIE: (helpful) In a non-friendly way?

ANGELA: (her face falls) Exactly. But it's too late. He told me that he's happy that we're just friends. (chin tremble) How ironic can you get without, like, totally puking?

RICKIE: (moves so that Angela is forced to lift her head off his shoulder, he turns to face his friend directly) Okay, I have to ask you this. Do you finally have feelings for Brian because you think he's, like, a totally great guy, or because you feel guilty about his depression?

Rickie watches Angela intently. She opens her mouth to respond, shuts it again abruptly and ducks her head, almost in tears.

RICKIE: (bites his lip thoughtfully for a moment, searching for the right words) Because speaking as your friend, and speaking as Brian's friend, I kind of think you both deserve better than that. You shouldn't like him out of guilt. You should like him because...because, well, you *want* to.

ANGELA: (folding her arms, leaning forward) I *do* like him.

RICKIE: That may be. But you have to admit, Angela, you have this habit of seeing Brian the way he was. The way you remember him when he was younger. Not the way he necessarily is now.

ANGELA: (chagrined) No I don't! (pause) Much.

 

INT.TASTE OF HEAVEN--private room

The room contains a long table and 12 chairs. An elaborate candle setting burns in the center of the table. Two places at the end of the table are set with silverware and plates. Several delectable dishes are waiting to be tasted, the red snapper among them. The soft strains of Natalie Merchant singing "One Fine Day" emanate from the restaurant sound system. Graham

smiles nervously at Patty. He uncorks a bottle of wine and pours some into a crystal glass.

PATTY: (stupidly) I brought the books. (holds them up so Graham can see them)

GRAHAM: Thanks, but I don't really need them. They were just an excuse to get you here. (pulls out a chair) Have a seat?

PATTY: (frowns) Hallie said there was some special guest here tonight.

GRAHAM: (nods) She was right. There is. Now why don't you sit down so I can serve her dinner before it gets cold.

PATTY: (swallows, smiles faintly) She doesn't have much of an appetite.

GRAHAM: (intently) Please?

PATTY: (shaking her head, as if to clear it) Graham...what's going on?

GRAHAM: (guides Patty to the chair) Dinner. Some music. Some conversation. That's what's going on.

PATTY: (lets herself be seated, lifts an eyebrow at Graham) Conversation? What's that?

GRAHAM: (takes the seat next to her) I'm not sure, but I heard some married couples have it. (with a straight face) I'm thinking it might be sex.

PATTY: (takes a sip of wine) Really. I heard it was a form of verbal communication that didn't involve raised voices, four letter words, or death threats.

GRAHAM: (sadly) I liked the sex idea better.

PATTY: (tries hard to hide her smile, fails) I'm sure you did. (looks down at the food) I must say Graham, this looks delicious. This wouldn't be an attempt to poison me, would it?

GRAHAM: Nah. That would be bad for business.

PATTY: Of course.

Graham raises his glass to Patty. After a moment she raises hers.

PATTY: What are we toasting?

GRAHAM: (touching her glass) Communication. Talking. To each other.

PATTY: (suddenly nervous) Oh? Talking? About what? Do you have a particular topic in mind?

GRAHAM: As a matter of fact I do. (pause) I want to talk about you, Patty. I want to talk about...about how much I miss you. About how much I still love you. (his voice grows softer with each admission) About how afraid I am...that...that I've pushed you away. (his voice breaks) Because Patty, right now I need you more than ever...

Patty stares at him, stunned, listening, her eyes growing bright with unshed tears.

GRAHAM: (rushes on, speaking quickly, almost babbling)...I need you to know that this restaurant isn't just some selfish venture on my part. Even if it seems like that. I'd be lying if I said I didn't want this place to be a huge success. Because I do. But only because I want to share this success. With you. And the girls. I want to give you all the things you deserve. (his voice breaks) I want you to be proud of me, Patty. (reaches out and touches her fingertips with his own) I want you to be proud of me the way I'm proud of you. (moves his fingers up over hers until he is holding her hand) I've always been proud of you. And...and more importantly...I'm proud to be *with* you.

Graham watches Patty for some reaction, but she is mute, lost in thought.

GRAHAM: (runs a hand over his face) For God's sake, Patty, say something. (desperate) Anything.

JASON: (OS) Where's the bathroom?

 

INT.KRAKOW HOUSE--Brian's room

Brian's room is dark, but there is enough light from the hall to reveal Brian's outline; he is sitting on the bed, his back to the door. We see Jason walk by in search of the bathroom, glance inside, and walk out of view. After a moment, Jason backtracks and stands illuminated in the doorway. He frowns at the back of Brian's head.

POV: Brian and Jason both face the camera, Brian on the bed, Jason to the left and behind Brian in the doorway. Neither one can see the other's face or reactions.

JASON: (stands quietly for a moment) Hey.

BRIAN: (shifts slightly, but he does not turn his head) The bathroom's on the right at the end of the hall.

JASON: (hesitates, then snidely) For future reference, it's customary for the guest of honor to actually attend his own birthday party.

BRIAN: (just as snide) Thanks, I'll make a note of that.

JASON: What exactly is your deal, Brian? A lot of people spent a lot of time -- too *much* time in my opinion -- trying to do something nice for you, (incredulous) and you don't even care?

BRIAN: (defensive) I care.

JASON: Uh-huh. I can see that. And apparently, you show how much you care by sitting in the dark feeling sorry for yourself.

BRIAN: (glares toward Jason, his face in profile) I'm not feeling sorry for myself. (pause, his face softens) I'm just trying to, like, understand.

JASON: (takes a few steps into the room, folds his arms) Understand what?

BRIAN: (more to himself than Jason) It's just so weird. I've been waiting for something like this for so long. But now that Angela's here--that they're *all* here--like, of their own free will, I don't know how to deal with it. Maybe I would have before, but not now. (bows his head) I feel like they're all looking at me, trying to gauge how much fun I'm having. And if I don't pass the test, if I don't measure up...they'll leave.

JASON: (faint smile) Yeah, but you could find them. You know where most of them live.

BRIAN: (quietly) You know what I mean.

JASON: (stares at Brian for a long time, struggling with how to respond) Yeah. I guess I did. It's just that everything you're saying is complete crap. I should know, because I used to think the same crap. Sometimes I still do. But that whole 'if I'm not having enough fun I'm going to flunk' thing is all in your head, Krakow. (uncrosses his arms, stuffs his hands in his jeans' pockets) I mean, from what I hear, you've never even been in the same room with fun and they still like you. It's a mystery to me, but there you go. (Jerks his thumb toward the stairs) You should have heard them; your surprise party is the only thing Rickie, Sharon and Angela have been talking about for decades. (approaches Brian, stands close to the bed) I mean, Rickie cares about you so much, it might, you know, make *certain* people jealous. (tugs at a small blond braid, grins) Thank God *I'm* not one of those people.

BRIAN: (shifts to look at Jason thoughtfully, runs both hands through his curly hair) So...I guess I'm, like, lucky. Or something.

JASON: I guess. Maybe you could try dwelling on how lucky you really are instead of waiting for all your friends to leave you. You think? (pause) I hate to break it to you Brian, but that's my bonding quota for the night. (turns to leave) I gotta pee.

BRIAN: Um, Jason...? Some people might think that Rickie is lucky too. To have you...you know, in his life. (crooked smile) Not that *I'm* one of those people.

 

INT.TASTE OF HEAVEN--private room

PATTY: (flushed, flustered) This is not what I expected. Not at all.

GRAHAM: That was kind of the point, Patty.

PATTY: I don't...I don't know what to say. (hoarsely) I mean, of course I still...I haven't stopped...(clears her throat, takes a deep breath) I love you.

GRAHAM: (smiles, blinks back tears) Thank you.

PATTY: (forehead wrinkles) And I am proud of you, Graham. (earnest) I'm *very* proud of you. I've never said any different. And you accuse me criticizing you, or putting you down, but it is not intentional. (faint smile) At least it's *rarely* intentional. (shakes her head sadly) but you...you're so certain that I don't support you, that you hear criticism when there isn't any. You look for it. (lifts her hands) I don't know how to fight that. You don't give me a chance. (fights tears) If I didn't believe in you, Graham, I wouldn't be with you. My heart wouldn't feel like you...you...tenderized it every time you you're home later than you said you'd be. Every time I feel the distance between us.

GRAHAM: I don't want that distance either!

PATTY: (tilts her head, rubs at her eyes, weary) Then what do we do?

GRAHAM: (cups Patty's face in one hand, looks into her eyes, swallows) We bridge the distance.

 

INT.KRAKOW HOUSE--kitchen

Angela, Rickie and Rayanne are in the kitchen. The cake is visible on the table behind them. Rickie is slicing apples on a cutting board while Angela struggles to pull the cover off a container of caramel without making a mess. Rayanne ignores both activities and simply wanders around the kitchen, idly snooping inside various drawers and cupboards.

RICKIE: (stops slicing for a moment, thoughtful) Listen Angela, no matter how happy Curly says he is to be your friend, I'm pretty sure he still has feelings for you. (Angela opens her mouth to respond but Rickie cuts her off) But he's, like, concentrating on getting over his depression. I don't think Brian is the kind of person who can handle asking you out on a date while he's still doing the whole getting-out-of-bed-and-being-alive-every-morning thing. (pause) Or whatever.

RAYANNE: (interjecting) Not that I'm listening--because this whole conversation makes my skin crawl--but if I *were* listening, I'd like to point out what really drains Bri's energy every morning. (Angela and Rickie watch her, expectant, Rayanne makes a familiar rapid hand gesture) Think about it, playing with his unruly pants-puppet has *got* to be exhausting. (shakes her head sadly) No time for dating. Y'know, anyone *besides* his hand.

Angela puts a hand to her face and Rickie lobs a chunk of apple toward Rayanne. She ducks and it lands with a thunk on the counter.

RAYANNE: God Vasquez, how rude. I'm gonna tell Brian you're messing up his kitchen.

RICKIE: (to Angela, points at Rayanne) Who invited her, again?

Angela laughs and hands Rickie a large bowl. He drops the fruit pieces inside.

RICKIE: Anyway, what I mean is, try to be patient. (leans against the cupboard, chin resting on his hands, head tilt) Because, I believe if something is meant to be...like true love or happiness...or whatever, you'll get a second chance.

RAYANNE: (groans, puts a hand over her stomach, disgusted) That is the most puke-inducing statement I've ever heard.

RICKIE and ANGELA: (together) Rayanne!

RAYANNE: (gives them a look) Hey. Don't 'Rayanne' me. I can't help it if I've got an inner radar that goes off every time I hear complete and total b.s. (She gets a reverent look on her face) It's sort of a...gift.

ANGELA: (ignores Rayanne, pokes her finger into the caramel, licks it off) I think I just have to face the facts. I lost my chance.

RICKIE: (determined) That's my point. You might have lost *this* chance, but if you and Brian are meant to be, you'll have another chance.

RAYANNE: (making a gagging sound) Can I use that bowl for a minute?

ANGELA: (studies Rickie's face, her skepticism turning to hope) You really believe that?

RICKIE: Let me put it this way: a few months ago I was homeless, miserable, and alone. Now I have a real family and a really cute, um, (sheepish grin) boyfriend. I thought I had *completely* used up all my chances at happiness. But I didn't. (Confidently) And neither have you.

ANGELA: (moves to hug her friend warmly) Oh Rickie, I'm so happy for you.

RICKIE: (hugs her back tightly, excited grin) I have to say, I'm kind of happy too.

RAYANNE: (flouncing over to join them) Please. Jason isn't *that* cute.

 

INT.TASTE OF HEAVEN--private room

PATTY: "Bridge the distance," huh? (Shaking her head) You make it sound so easy, Graham.

GRAHAM: Maybe it *is* easy.

PATTY: (swayed by his previous words, but not wanting to give in, shrugging) If it's that easy, how did we ever let it get this bad?

GRAHAM: (thinking) Well, Neil says that we fight just so we can make up.

PATTY: (arched brow) Oh? Is that who we're taking romantic advice from these days? The man who is famous for his drive-by come-ons?

GRAHAM: Well, no. (pause) It got this bad because I was inattentive, Patty. Because I was consumed with something else. With getting this restaurant off the ground. And that's all I was consumed by. That's all.

PATTY: (smiling) So that's why you had Hallie come by and parade her new boyfriend in front of me? Or are you going to say that wasn't your idea?

GRAHAM: (smiling back) It was definitely my idea for Hallie to parade Chris around. I also taught her the marching steps to use and gave her the baton -- she *did* use the baton, didn't she?

PATTY: (laughing) Not that I saw, no.

GRAHAM: (serious) I know we need to re-connect, Patty. And I know it won't happen instantly. But I thought that a nice dinner and conversation, with just the two of us would be a good start. That's all. A start.

PATTY: (pleased) It *is* a good start. We're just going to have to work really hard.

GRAHAM: I know. But I hear the failure rate of marriages these days is about as bad as the failure rate of new restaurants. I plan to do my damndest to make both work.

PATTY: (raising her glass again) Me too. (She clinks her glass with his) To Neil and his stupid advice. Because making up is pretty nice after all. (She looks around the room) Although somehow I don't think this is exactly what he had in mind.

GRAHAM: No, I'm sure his version was more x-rated. I don't get lots of g-rated advice these days.

PATTY: Neither do I. (Broad smile) Camille suggested skinny dipping.

GRAHAM: (with raised eyebrows) That would be refreshing after indulging in Neil's suggestion of mud wrestling.

PATTY: (laughs) Unfortunately we don't have a place where we could do either one.

GRAHAM: Are you kidding? (Points towards the front of the restaurant) We have the whole fountain. (He leans forward to kiss her) Y'know, if you *wanted* to skinny dip.

PATTY: (embarrassed laugh) Graham, what about the staff?

GRAHAM: (as he draws her close) They could spot us, in case we get any of the pebbles in there wedged anyplace, y'know, *delicate*.

PATTY: (laughing) You're disgusting.

GRAHAM: (drawing her close) I love you, too.

They kiss in the candlelight, the red snapper forgotten.

 

INT.KRAKOW HOUSE--kitchen

Sharon enters the kitchen carrying a gift-wrapped package.

SHARON: Okay you guys, everything is just about ready. We just have to bring the cake into the other room and then we can do presents. (snaps her fingers) That reminds me, we need matches. (loudly) Jason? Do you still smoke? I need some matches.

ANGELA: (smirks) Shouldn't Brian get to decide when he opens his presents?

SHARON: (tight smile) You know, normally, it might actually be up to Brian to make that decision, but since I have no idea where he is I guess I'm allowed to decide *for* him. (pause, shrug) And anyway, Delia wants to watch Romeo and Juliet.

BRIAN: (OS) I'm right here.

 

INT.KRAKOW HOUSE--dining room

Everyone is gathered around the dining room table. The cake sits in the center of the table, several envelopes and presents surround it.

BRIAN: (lifts his eyebrows, eyeballing the presents) If I knew there'd be presents I'd have been here sooner.

RAYANNE: (claps her hands together) Prezzies! Let's check out Brian's loot! (beat) Not that there'll be much worth checking out.

ANGELA: (to Brian) Where were you?

BRIAN: I was looking for something.

ANGELA: Did you find it?

BRIAN: (nods slowly, smiles) Yeah. I think so.

COREY: (hands Brian a slim plastic package) You might as well open my present first...since it's not actually wrapped.

ANGELA: (cranes her neck) What is it?

BRIAN: (laughs, holds up the package) It's Pez!

RAYANNE: (eagerly) Can I see?

Brian leans forward to hand the candy dispenser to Rayanne but Rickie stops him.

RICKIE: (knowingly)You *won't* get it back.

RAYANNE: (annoyed) Party pooper.

Next Brian picks up a small envelope. A few coupons flutter out onto the table.

DELIA: (smiles) You know where to come if you want a HunkBurger. But one word of advice, most Big Guy Burger customers actually eat what they order rather than throwing it away. Like, almost eighty percent of them, even.

BRIAN: (smiles, touched, not so much by the gift, but by the fact Delia has given him anything at all) Thank you.

RICKIE: (excited, impatient) Okay, now mine. (hands Brian a gift-wrapped box)

After tearing open the paper and box, Brian pulls out another gift certificate.

BRIAN: (pleased) It's a gift certificate for the CD Warehouse.

RICKIE: (pats Brian's shoulder) Now you can buy some new music.

JASON: (smirks) That's Rickie's polite way of saying he's bored of listening to your tired old crap.

RAYANNE: (pulls a rectangular package out of her big bag and slides it across the table at Brian) I can't believe how boring you people are. Everyone knows you get gift certificates when people have no idea what you really want or need. At least *someone* here went to a little effort. (makes an odd face) I just can't believe it was *me*.

Brian hesitates for a moment, as if he is afraid the gift is going to explode or sprout legs. It does neither. Finally, he opens it and bursts into laughter. It is a School House Rock Video.

ANGELA: (snatches the tape out of Brian's hand) How cool!

RAYANNE: (doesn't want to look *too* good) Sure. If you like adverbs.

BRIAN: (swallows, struggling to maintain his composure, possibly recalling the day he and Rayanne talked about the videos in the boiler room) Thanks, Graf.

Rayanne simply shrugs. But when Brian's attention leaves her, she smiles brightly. Brian opens Sharon's present next. She has spent an exorbitant amount of time on ribbons and shiny paper. Inside the box are several packs of film and an expensive, leather-bound photo album.

BRIAN: (his eyes go wide at the site) Oh. Wow. Thanks, Cher--Sharon. I just wish I still had my camera.

SHARON: Look at it this way, Brian; now you have incentive to get a new one.

BRIAN: (permitting himself to dream) Someday.

ANGELA: (hoisting her duffle bag onto the table) There's one left.

BRIAN: (stares at the bag) Your duffle bag?

ANGELA: (rolls her eyes) Open it up.

Brian unzips the bag and removes a large bundle of tissue wrap. He stops unwrapping, half way through, stunned.

BRIAN: Oh my God.

RICKIE: What is it?

RAYANNE: A huge wad of tissue paper. Be still my heart.

BRIAN: (blinks back tears) How...how did you...?

Angela carefully pulls away the remainder of the tissue, her face radiant. Brian's camera, broken weeks before by Kyle's friends, has been repaired.

BRIAN: (holds it reverently, looks to Angela) Did your Dad fix it?

ANGELA: (laughs loudly) God, no. My dad is mechanically challenged. My Uncle Neil fixed it. After I pulled it out of the garbage.

BRIAN: (amazed, overjoyed, he summons the courage to envelop Angela in a big hug) Thank you so much.

ANGELA: (taken by surprise, grins and hugs Brian back) You're welcome, Brian.

RICKIE: (head tilt, gives his friends a swoony look) That is *such* a Kodak moment.

BRIAN: (faces his friends, tears on his face) I don't know what to say.

RAYANNE: Quit blubbering, Krakow. Try doing something important. (preens) Like taking my picture!

BRIAN: (wipes his face, holds the camera tighter) Are you kidding, Graf? I just had the camera *fixed*!

RAYANNE: (stares at Brian, a faint smile touches her lips) If I didn't know better, I'd say that Krakow just made a joke.

BRIAN: (gesturing) Everybody get together. I want to take a picture of everybody. (looks through the camera experimentally, adjusts the settings)

SHARON: (frowns) But it's your birthday. You have to, like, be *in* the picture.

JASON: (steps forward) I'll take it.

Brian and Jason look at each other. Finally, Brian hands Jason the camera. He points to one dial and then another, but background music begins and we can't hear his instructions.

"Change will come
Change is here.
Love fades out
then love appears."

Sharon and Angela pull Brian between them.

Jason raises the camera and the group is framed by the camera lens. POV is wobbly as Jason adjusts his grip and tries to get everyone inside the frame.

"Now my water's turned to wine
And these thoughts I have
I now can claim as mine
I'm coming home."

They are all laughing. Each face is filled with promise and hope and possibilities. Brian stands slightly stiff, nervous, he does not smile. Rickie does an impression of Katimski and they laugh harder. Even Brian is caught off guard. He smiles at Rickie and the flash goes off. The moment is captured.

The image remains frozen while the song finishes.

"Change has been
Change will be.
Time will tell
Then time will ease.

"Now my curtain has been drawn
And my heart can go on
Where my heart does belong
I'm going home."

As the chorus ends, the photograph image fades lighter and lighter until the screen is blank.

End.

 

 

The song "Ghost" is from the Indigo Girls 1992 CD: Rites of Passage.

"My Sherona" is by The Knack and can be found on the 1994 soundtrack to the movie: Reality Bites.

The Natalie Merchant version of "One Fine Day" is from the 1996 soundtrack for the movie: One Fine Day.

The song "Reunion" if from the 1995 Collective Soul CD: Collective Soul.

I know this was a long time in coming. Thank you to Shobi for making something that was merely okay into something great. You would not be reading this story if it weren't for his support and advice. Oh yeah. Thank you for reading this story.

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Average: 4.5/5   4.5/5 (70 votes)
  • rachel commented on 24 Feb 2000:
    You*re story was SO amazing.. but I don*t understand how you could make Angela end up with Brian!? I mean.. My life is so similiar to Angela*s it*s not even funny.. and I am telling you now, just because your childhood friend develops feelings for you, it*s NOT going to make you forget a thing like that of what Angela felt for Jordan.. I mean, don*t get me wrong I LOVED your stories.. I stayed up until 6:30 AM reading them.. But the ending really dissappointed me :( Angela and Jordan like BELONG together.. She helps him grow, he helps her realize her worth. Oh well.. sorry if i seemed mean.. the story was great otherwise.. It*s just that everyone has a happy ending except for poor Jordan. :(
  • Jason commented on 22 Jun 2000:
    Your stories were a trip down memory lane, as my grandparents would say. After glumly accepting MSCL's untimely demise five years ago, the last thing I ever expected to see was such a well-written continuation of the characters I came to enjoy so much. You render the psychologies of all the major characters very well... the subtlities that made the show so authentic are captured very nicely in your writings. It is a shame such a good show lasted barely half a season, whereas schlock like 90210 is only just now, after 10 years, getting cancelled. Of course, it might be interesting to speculate on where all the characters would be now, five years after the show ended, if no one else at this website has already done so. (Of course, if people here have written X-Files/MSCL cross-overs, I suppose anything's possible).

    To reply to Rachel: you couldn't be more wrong about Jordan vs Brian. Jordan represents the typical teenage infactuation. He's older, mysterious, and a figure through with Angela was able to live out her own desire to rebel. Brian represents a higher stage in evolution. He's her intellectual equal for the most part, and appreciates her as an adult. If this story were fast-forwarded five years, I guarantee you Brian would by far be more likely to be with Angela. If anything else, because they both would be attending college, something I have a hard time seeing Jordan doing. He's nice and all, but he's a boy.

    Wow, I'm a tad long-winded tonight. Anyway, Shannon, excellent work. Thanks for writing so well. :)
  • mikki commented on 04 Mar 2001:
    I love this story! Your story remained true to the whole feel of the show. I liked the way you tied up loose ends specally between Angela and Brian. Regarding the previous posts...yeah my life is similar to Brian's --- although there is no Angela in it. I've been through what most of what Brian has been through...ignored and most people seem to hate him for no reason in particular; even if he tries to stay out of their way. I've also been through the depression stages and all. I'm glad that there is a story out there that gives justice to Brian. And I'm extremely happy about the way you fixed both Angela and Brian up --- if there is one sure road leading to love its friendship. Thanks for writing! This surely gave the series as sort of closure for me that I have been dreaming for in years.
  • Ben Hoback commented on 01 Nov 2002:
    Wow! A five-part series that started with two '9's and ended with three '10's. Simply amazing, have you considered writing professionally for a television show? It'd be hard work no doubt cranking them all out on time, but with the quality you've shown here, how could they not hire you?

    A beautiful end to a beuatiful series, a perfect '10' for the series.
  • anonymous author commented on 26 Feb 2003:
    To Jason:Man, Brian is like her brother,you know?She always talks to him and stuff and that's really great but I don't think she'll ever be interested in him that way.
    To Rachel:As for Jordan, she is totally hot for him,she may even sleep with him,eventually.But he has all this issues with expressing his emotions and I don't think she'll end up with him either-unless he grows as a character which entirely possible-compare Jordan from "Dancing in the Dark" to Jordan in "In Dreams Begin Responsibilities"
  • anonymous author commented on 24 Apr 2003:
    Brian and Angela!? Great sence of humor, I'll give you that.
  • amanda commented on 10 Oct 2003:
    i'm so late on this, but are things not clear to people? angela did NOT end up with brian. the story ended with them as friends. i can see this going two ways: one angela or brian gets up the courage to tell the other that they want to be more than friends, or two angela hears the song jordan wrote for her and just completely melts back into him. just a thought...

    it was very well written. i enjoyed it immensly, you've no idea how many i just had to squeal out with excitement, at the acuracy of portrayal of characters or even just a few one liners. bravo! i heart you for feeding my mscl appetite.
  • Loz commented on 23 Oct 2003:
    I love that Angela realised her feelings for Brian. That's how I see it too - she struggles to have a relationship with Jordan for a while, but then realises that who she's been wanting Jordan to be, already exists in Brian. Beautifully written.
  • slc commented on 17 Aug 2004:
    Angela and Jordan BELONG TOGETHER! It doesn't have to be so complex. They don't seem to be meant for each other forever, but for now, Jordan is too important to turn into such a reject.
  • Micheal Buse commented on 09 Apr 2005:
    You did a good job, although some references are after the events unfolding. But then again, this is fiction, not fact. I too beleive Angela was destined for Brian. The end of 1.19 has her riding off with Jordan, but if you forget what you want to happen and look at what did happen you'll see that Angela knows what Brian feels. And in my continuation, she is only giving Jordan a chance to admit to her that he lied. Again.
  • Julia8 gave this story a 5.0/5 5.0/5 rating and commented on 01 Sep 2009:
    loved it! is there any more?
    brian and angela rules! i just wished we'd got to see them together. pretty please? :P
  • mikoto_lee gave this story a 5.0/5 5.0/5 rating and commented on 07 Sep 2010:
    Wow...its been more than 10 years for me since I've seen MSCL. I love reading fanfics with Brian and Angela. Jason hit the nail on the head. Jordan is every girl's teenage dream. He's good looking, he's in a bad, he's a bad boy with a heart. The great thing about the show is that they made him more 'human' by showing his flaws. He has problems with emotions and he's in the immature side. Brian is more mature compared to Angela or Jordan. But at the same time he has a hard time expressing himself. The series DID NOT END with Jordan and Angela living happily ever after. That's so far from the truth. While love reading Brian and Angela fanfics, sometimes I feel that Brian deserves someone better than Angela... Nonetheless great fanfic. I've read this several times but its the time I have reviewed it.
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“Ignore her. She got up on the wrong side of the coffin this morning.”

Enrique (Rickie) Vasquez, Episode 9: "Halloween"