Story arc part 2 after Unrequited

It's been a few weeks since UNREQUITED, and Jaclyn has moved on (poss. to Champ?) and Trevor is happy for her. Trevor and Claire are talking again, bantering again, but something is still missing, still a little strained. Things are going well between Claire and Frank, and Claire is excited that she's going to California with Frank for her HIGH SCHOOL REUNION. Trevor makes a comment that she wants to relive her schoolgirl 'experimental' slumber party sleep over phase.

Claire is suddenly surprised when her sister MARA (I envision Maura Tierney, guess I got a thing for brunettes...) shows up, a guitar on her back. MARA is more of a free spirit, and a freelance musician. She was in town and stopped by to see if she could fly to California with Claire and Frank, since Mara and Claire were in the same graduating class, their ages not very far apart. Claire agrees, although she and Mara bicker almost instantly (that Mara should settle down, Claire should loosen up etc..), it's good to see her. Trevor introduces himself, and Mara is instantly very attracted to him. Claire is unexpectedly annoyed by the attraction, and takes Mara aside to explain that Trevor's a 'patient', warning her away. Mara see's Claire's interest a little differently, and ignores the warning, flirting with Trevor.

Trevor asks Mara if her and Claire ever took baths together as kids and if they would be willing to do it again with a third. Mara smiles. "Aren't we the dirty one?" Trevor smiles back. "That's why I need the bath..." Mara considers it. "Hmmm." It has the desired effect, annoying Claire tremendously.

Since Mara is a singer, she offers to perform at Taggerty's, just her and her acoustic guitar. Claire and Mara are fighting again, just before she takes the stage. Claire talks with Trevor, wondering why her and Mara always have to fight. Frank shows up, kisses Claire, and they all sit to hear Mara sing. Mara says she dedicates the first song to her dear sister Claire, and starts an acoustic version of YOU REALLY GOT A HOLD ON ME with the line "I don't like you, but I love you..." But the rest of the lyrics, about someone who's always in her thoughts, she basically sings to Trevor, winking at him. Claire notices and is silent and fuming. Beside her, Frank notices, and becomes thoughtful.

Champ is working that night behind the bar, and Trevor takes him aside to talk as Mara continues to sing. He explains to Champ how he really likes Mara, and what Champ thinks. Champ notices Mara's smiles. "She seems to be really into you, Trevor." "Yeah, and to think she's Claire's sister-" "Claire's sister? Are you nuts?" "That opinion varies. What's so nuts about it? Claire's with Frank. Don't you think I should move on?" Champ shakes his head. "Trying to come between two sisters-" Trevor interrupts, "Hey, I only did that the one time when I was distracted-" Champ continues "It's playing with fire, Trevor." Champ leaves Trevor looks at Mara, genuinely attracted. "Yeah, but at least they don't share an eye..."

Trevor is there to see off Frank, Claire and Mara at the airport. Claire is sort of formal with the goodbye for Trevor, but Frank says their friends, she should give him a hug. Frank watches carefully, seeing what he expected when Claire gives Trevor a hug that's too cautious. As Frank and Claire board, Mara is the last to say goodbye. She hugs him warmly and whispers into his ear. "Follow me onboard, in about a minute..." Her hand slips unexpectedly into Trevor's pocket and she turns to leave, following Frank and Claire. Trevor looks at what she gave him. It's a plane ticket for that very flight. It's obvious Mara wants him to go too. But it is totally unexpected, he's not packed, has no luggage. But Trevor can't decide, looking at the ticket, and looking at the terminal as the last boarding is called and the door begins to close.

Packing her bag into an overhead bin, Mara rolls her eyes at Frank and Claire kissing in their seats. She starts to walk discretely forward, trying not to be noticed as she counts rows and seats. Finding the one she wants she looks down and... Trevor is sitting there. Mara's happy, but says to stay put until they've taken off and there's nothing Claire can do about it. She leans in close to Trevor and asks if once they're airborne, if he'd be interested in joining the mile-high club. Trevor blushes, the club he belongs to tends to fly a little higher. Mara says maybe on the return trip.

Mid-flight, Claire vows to not argue with Mara to Frank, just as Mara brings Trevor over. Claire is furious, asking what Trevor is doing there. Mara explains that Trevor is her date for the reunion, enjoying Claire's discomfort. Claire says Trevor can't just leave Chicago without supervision. Mara points out that his therapist is on the trip with him.

In California, they all check into a fancy hotel. AT the front desk, Claire tries to find a room for Trevor, but the hotel is booked. Mara offers her room. Claire's jealous, but Mara asks if Trevor is allowed to make his own decisions, or does she baby sit him. Claire says no, and Mara says her and Trevor will share a room, and the rest is none of her business. Claire's angry and jealous, but can't think of an excuse to stop it. Trevor points out that he doesn't have any clothing, and Mara gives him her credit card, saying he can pay her back later (Apparently she's a more successful singer than she lets on...). Frank offers to go along, wanting to talk to Trevor, who agrees.

They go through several clothing stores, Trevor making comments to total strangers, trying to set a few up from blind luck. Frank asks Trevor how he feels about Claire. He says Trevor's attracted to her. Reluctantly Trevor admits it, since 'he's a guy' and the only guy who wouldn't be is Oedipus, because of the 'eye thing'. Frank asks why he's never tried to ask Claire out. Trevor explains the doctor patient thing, and besides, Claire thinks he's a 'nut'. Frank says no she doesn't, "She's very fond of you." Trevor is confused. "Why are you telling me this?" Frank says with sincerity, a little sadness. "Because I would never stand in Claire's way, I love her too much." Trevor pats his shoulder. "You're not. You two belong together." Trevor leaves, and Frank wonders.

Trevor goes into his and Mara's hotel room, packing his clothes. Mara is in the shower, and Trevor talks to her from the bedroom, asking cautiously with a small bit of nervousness about the sleeping arrangements for the night. Mara steps out of the shower, drying her hair with a towel, another wrapped around her. She looks at Trevor as he suddenly turns around, dropping the towel to the floor. "Oh," she says seductively, "I think we'll think of something." Trevor is stunned, but suddenly starts to look away, scrambling for a spare sheet and pillow and say's that he'll sleep(his eyes keep looking at her, not able to help it) That he'll sleep out in the hallway. He asks Mara not to tell Claire he did, since it would ruin his reputation. She nods, smiling at him, still uncovered. "Right." Later that night, Trevor sleeps on the floor just outside Mara's door, tossing uncomfortably. In the room next door, Claire sleeps beside Frank, tossing uncomfortably too, wondering what's happening in the next room between Mara and Trevor

The next morning, Claire steps out of her hotel room, forcing Trevor to scramble into Mara's room before he is seen, dragging the sheets in. He's only partially successful when Claire sees him and comes over, noticing him shirtless and dishevelled. Claire looks into the partially open door Trevor is standing in, to see the spare bed sheet sprawled over the floor and covering part of a table, the bed is unmade too and Trevor seems winded. Trevor says he had a busy night, and suddenly Mara appears behind him, kissing his cheek, saying thanks for last night. She pulls him inside with a giggle, leaving Claire fuming in the hallway as she bows her head, feeling hurt somehow.

They finally go to the reunion, although you could cut the tension between Claire and Mara with a knife. Trevor is finding despite his reluctance to sleep with Mara, he really likes her a lot. Mara tries to keep him beside her, but Trevor keeps going off, using the excuse of setting up couples because reunions are ripe for rekindled romance, old and new. Claire has Frank with her, introducing him around, but perhaps slightly embarrassed that he's only a carpenter, trying her best to appear not to be but not pulling it off.

Claire is finally alone with Mara, not facing each other. Claire shakes her head. "I can't believe that you slept together. That's so... YOU." Angry, Mara corrects her. "Before you paint a red A on my chest, We didn't." "What?" "Trevor slept out in the hallway." Mara continues off of Claire's surprised look. "Hey, believe me, it wasn't my idea. I've still got a few bruises from throwing myself at him. But I can always try again tonight. Maybe he'll come around." Claire doesn't understand. "But why didn't you know." Mara shakes her head in disgust. "How blind are you?" And she walks away.

As the reunion continues, Frank continues to notice Claire's embarrassment of him, and how she is always looking over at Mara and Trevor.

Mara is with Trevor trying to convince him to kiss her. It takes everything in is power not to since he's very attracted to her. Still, he doesn't want to face why he doesn't want to. Trevor walks off, and Claire, after seeing Mara's efforts, decides she's seen enough and storms over. "I know what you're doing, Mara." "And what's that Claire?" "You're trying to seduce Trevor because... well, like you always do, you think I'm..." "You're what, Claire?" Claire glares at her. "You know what I mean, Mara." "No, I don't explain it to me." "You think I'm interested in Trevor." Now Mara's angry. "Well are you?" "No! Of course not!" Then you can't claim him. And therefore that can't be the reason behind my attraction to Trevor." Claire counters. "It's the reason because you think it's the reason!" "Well, if you want to stop me, Claire, you'll just have to take him for yourself won't you?" Mara tries to walk away, but Claire follows. Claire starts saying how she's tired of always fighting and competing with Mara. Mara responds, "Yeah. Sure. Some competition." Claire disagrees angrily, saying how she was always jealous of how Mara was closer to their father than she was, always jealous of how they were more like kindred spirits. Free thinkers who went their way with no consideration for consequences or responsibilities. Meanwhile, Claire had to be responsible since she was thirteen, when their Father left. How even though she had always dreamed of being a photographer (Paula Marshall was originally a photographer) she had to heal and comfort the tortured, hurting souls of mom and dad during and after the divorce. Not to mention Mara herself. But who comforted her? In fact, she got so good at fixing and healing people she became a psychologist, seeing that as her niche, her place in life. Meanwhile Mara was free to do what she wanted, get away with what she wanted, because everyone knew Claire was the responsible one. Angry, Mara counters that no one was stopping her from being a wild child herself. Claire says she tried that, and each time it was a disaster, pointing out how her pilot boyfriend left her, and how her escapades in college only left her empty. She had been trained to well growing up.

Mara is angry, and counters back, getting her turn. "Do you ever bother to ask why I was like that?" "Because you were Mara! I don't know, enlighten me then!" Mara replies loudly in anger, and sadness. "Because I couldn't be you! Because I couldn't live up to being you. I'm not as smart as you, not as successful, not as in control, Claire! You act like a carefree life is always a great thing, well, it's not. Sometimes I feel there's never anything solid under my feet. And I've always been jealous of all you were that I wasn't and would never be. I mean there was Sarah(What is the name of the sister who had the baby, I don't remember...) but she was younger than the two of us. It's not the same thing. It was you and me who were competing, Claire. And believe me, I lost every time! So instead of trying to live up to you, I went with what I was good at. Living down from you..." Mara storms off, leaving Claire speechless, never having realized before how Mara felt.

Frank is standing near Trevor alone, both not having seen or heard Claire and Mara's argument. Frank catches Trevor watching Claire as she storms across the far side of the room. Frank speaks simply. "You love her. Don't you." Frank looks down. Trevor looks over, surprised as Frank looks at him calmly, continuing. "Don't try to deny it. Because... we both know better." Trevor pauses, realizing there's no real reason to hide it. He shrugs. "What difference does it make..." Trevor leaves without another word. Frank whispers softly to himself. "Every difference in the world..."

The reunion continues, as a slow dance tune plays, either OPEN ARMS by Journey, Or I COULD NOT ASK FOR MORE, by Edward McCain (which I may use at the end anyway.)

Mara is dancing slow with Trevor, Frank is dancing slow with Claire. Mara looks into Trevor's eyes, asks why he hasn't tried to kiss her. Trevor says he's just not wanting to push it too fast. Mara asks how he can find someone to love unless he takes a chance? So why can't he take a chance on her? Trevor finally... kisses her

Claire, dancing with Frank, sees the kiss and looks away, wiping a small bit of moisture from her eyes sadly. Frank notices, sees the hurt in her expression

Trevor finally breaks the kiss and admits that he can't do this. He tried. He really tried. But it's not there. Mara sighs. "She'll never love you, Trevor. She'll never make you happy." Trevor nods soberly. "I know." Mara tries to convince him. "You can't live your life stuck in might have beens, in all of the almost love of your life that you find. You have to move on." Trevor thinks. "Even if Claire is never more than almost, it's enough." Mara leans her forehead on his chin, "I understand. Still, it's too bad. I'm really phenomenal in the sack..." Trevor laughs. "So I would have guessed." Mara smiles at him, looking closely into his face. "It would have been good..." Trevor agrees. "Without a doubt. All of it. All of it would have been good." "SO what now, Trevor?" Trevor sighs. "We keep dancing."

Claire looks away from Trevor and Mara again, her voice subdued, her eyes misty. She's them leaning close, sees Trevor laughing, and sadly accepts it. She looks sadly at Frank. "It looks like Trevor and Mara have hit it off. I'm... I'm happy for them. I really am." Frank lowers his eyes, telling Claire they need to talk. Claire is forced to wipe away a tear. "What is it?" Frank bows his head and continues, knowing its difficult for him to say, that maybe... he should move out of her apartment. That maybe they should break up, since there are other factors they should consider. Claire can't believe it. "I don't love Trevor Hale! WHy does no one believe that?" Frank blinks at her. "WHo said anything about loving Trevor?" He explains that he thinks she doesn't really love him, and that's the reason. Claire says she loves him more than he'll ever know. He point's out that she's ashamed that he's a carpenter. And that if she really loved him, she wouldn't be, because nothing he did for a living would matter. Claire asks if he really thinks she's that shallow. He says she's not, when she really loves someone. Claire confronts him, saying that he should tell her the truth. the real reason this is happening. He tells her honestly that she was right awhile ago. She does love Trevor. Claire says she was only saying what she thought he thought. Frank disagrees, saying that because he DOES love her, he'll step aside, he won't stand in her way. Claire says he's being ridiculous. "PLease, don't do this Frank. You're throwing our relationship away, you're throwing us away, for something that isn't true." "Yeah. That something that isn't true is your feelings for me. That's why I can't stay. I can't be that selfish. And can't be with someone who only loves me 'almost as much as she loves someone else."

Claire pleads, there is no almost. And if there were, even if what he said were true and not a delusion of his, what they have is worth it. That almost can become 'most' someday. Isn't that enough?

Frank sighs. "It's almost enough to stay. But it's enough to leave."

Claire leans against him, knowing she won't change his mind as the song continues, everyone dances, pulling and fading away to...

The dark interior of the plane ride home. The plane is quiet, Claire has a small reading light, Frank asleep beside her, on as Mara comes up to her. They have a quiet conversation, apologizing and making up for all the arguments over the years, and all the arguments they'll continue to have. They never knew the way they felt about each other, knowing each other a little better now. Claire says that if Mara wants to date Trevor, she's perfectly free to. Mara says that's not going to happen. "Why not?" Claire asks. Mara looks straight at Claire. "Because he doesn't love me." She smiles to herself, before turning away.

Later on, everyone among the passengers is asleep except Trevor and a few seats away, Claire. trevor glances over at Claire, watching her carefully, before looking away before Claire can notice. Claire looks up at Trevor, watching him stare out the window, and thinks about him, before she looks away too. Neither say a word.

Back in Chicago, Trevor goes to Claire's office. He stops to talk with Jaclyn, to ask how Claire's doing, since he heard that Frank and Claire broke up, and that he was moving out. Jaclyn says not so good, that Claire asks her to come over a little later for support as Frank packs. Trevor goes into the office, finds Claire looking out the window. He does his best to cheer her up, but can't. She thanks him, but says she wants to be alone right now, and Trevor leaves, saying he'll be there if she needs him.

As he leaves Claire's office, he vows to find someone to make Claire happy, just as he bumps into a young and VERY HANDSOME doctor. he asks him his name, hoping to set him up with Claire.

The man extends his hand. "Hi. I'm Richard Dehnt. Dr. RIchard Dehnt."

"Ouch. Dr. Dehnt. That can't be good for business. You sure you don't own a body shop on fifth?"

"No. No body work. Just mind work." Richard smiles. "I'm new here. And you? Are you a doctor too?"

Trevor was about to say he was Cupid, but thinks better of it. "You're a psychologist?"

"Yeah. I started this week. Do you work here?"

"Yeah. I'm Dr. ... Dr. Love. Maxwell Love. You can call me Max. I just arrived a year ago myself from... overseas. By the way. Are you single?"

Dr. Dehnt gave Trevor a look. "Just so you know, I hate musical theater, so..."

"No. Not for me." Trevor puts his arm around him as he leads him off. "But I do know this very cute psychologist..."

(If you're wondering why so much about this Richard Dehnt guy, he'll play a more prominent role in SHOT THROUGH THE HEART and HANGING BY A THREAD)

Here's where I thought I might add the COULD NOT ASK FOR MORE montage, or I might not.

Claire tries to work on her book, but can't unable to write. She shuts her computer off and goes into the reception area of her office. "Jaclyn? Want to leave a little early today?"

Trevor receives a package in the mail, addressed to Cupid, God of love. It's a signed CD from Mara that reads, Even though what wasn't would have been good, what was was worth it, Mara. Trevor smiles and turns, looking at the CD.

Claire is at her doorstep, and gives Frank a final hug before letting him go and closing the door behind him. she turns and looks at all the empty spaces where his stuff used to be, amazed at how empty the house seems now. Jaclyn, who is there, walks up to comfort her. Claire is silent, depressed, saying how every man she's loved has left her. Jaclyn pats her shoulder, and hugs her, saying that someday she'll find the right one. "Or... he'll find you."

Claire laughs, wiping her tears, and thanking Jaclyn for being there. Claire say's it will take some time, but she'll be alright, and she would rather be alone right now. Reluctantly, Jaclyn nods, before finally leaving, saying they'll talk later.

Claire closes the door, and turns and leans against it, forced to face her empty house. She drops her face into the palms of her hands and cries softly, having never felt so alone in her life.