Annie Mott......Paige Turco
Daniel Musser......Peter Krause
Hawkins......Stephen T. Kay
I Want You Back by The Jackson Five
Bailey is looking under the hood of Sarah's car, and Sarah is trying the engine. They argue about what the source of the car trouble is, Bailey convinced it's just the battery, and Sarah trying to tell him it's more serious. When Annie pulls up and offers them a lift, Sarah says she can't leave her car, but Bailey jumps at the chance to get to his Anthropology test on time. "Is that cool?" Bailey asks Sarah hopefully. "Ish," she replies with a slight frown. Bailey is grateful to Annie for saving his academic career by letting him get to the test on time. She asks him for a favour in return. She says that she's having a cash flow problem this month, and wonders if he could speak to Hank about relaxing the deadline for the rent. Bai is uncertain, saying he doesn't know Hank that well, and just when Annie apologizes for putting him on the spot, he says he can probably do something to help.
Charlie, Nina and Owen at the wharf, picking out fish for the restaurant. While Charlie is paying for his purchase, Nina and Owen find an injured bird. Charlie is worried that the bird might carry diseases, and Charlie is about to refuse Owen's plea to take the bird home when Nina tells him to take the bird, since he's the one wearing gloves. Nina puts the bird into his hands and Charlie and Owen follow her off the wharf.
At Annie's apartment, Natalie is picking out a scheme for her room, about to be painted. "Blue sky, white clouds, yellow sun," chants the little girl. Annie reminds her daughter to thank Bailey for lending them drop cloths and paint rollers so they can paint her room, and she thanks him politely. Annie asks how the Anthro. test went, and Bailey says it was fine. He tells Natalie that he has a class all about Africa, and he learns things like how a whole village will pitch into a purchase a new cow when one villager's cow -- Bai searches for a way to broach the subject of death to the wide-eyed girl. He settles on -- "goes to the big farm in the sky." Annie sees where this conversation is headed, and sends Natalie off to watch tv. "Our cows are fine, Bailey," she tells him firmly. Bailey says he got nowhere with Hank and gently insists that she let him lend her $200 to help with rent, if only for Natalie's sake. Annie takes the money.
Charlie is getting a few lessons from Nina on caring for the adopted bird. Nina tells him that her group of ornithologists has a chance to be selected to do a big migration count in China. Charlie begins to beat around the bush about how long she might be gone. Nina, with the trace of a smile, says "Charlie, if you think you're gonna miss me, could you just say it?"
When Sarah finds out that Bailey gave Annie $200 of their shared money, she is angry. Her car trouble turned out to be the starter, rather than the battery, as Bailey predicted, and will cost at least $300 to repair. Bailey reminds her of the many chores left to do around the building, and Sarah relents a little, saying that will be a start on earning back the cash. Back at the Salinger house that evening, Charlie is chopping onions, and Claudia and Owen are trying to pick a name for the bird. Claudia can't decide between "Stands-with-a-Fist" and "Stands-with-Difficulty". Owen votes for "Nina". Charlie doesn't want them to name the bird at all. It's better not to get attached to things, he says. Claudia guesses that his comments aren't really about the bird. She asks him what's got him upset. Charlie says that nothing's wrong. Nina's great with Owen, she won't let Charlie pick a fight, she can quote yard stats for the 49ers; she even knows who to root for between the Serbs and the Croatians. Nothing's wrong, except that he's Charlie Salinger and something's bound to come between them. "Like -- China," he says, exasperated.
Claudia blinks. "The whole country?" Charlie explains that Nina's group of ornithologists could be going to China for 2 months or more to do a migration count. "So you'll write," says Claudia. Charlie interrupts her: "We're not naming the bird!"
At the museum, Julia is in the ladies room; she puts a navy cardigan over her sexy new dress, and goes to Daniel's office. Daniel says that they are letting her go because of "performance issues." Julia counters that the reason she's being fired is because she wouldn't let him kiss her. Daniel says he doesn't like the way she teases and manipulates people. Julia draws a deep breath and tells him that other people in the museum might be interested in how she came to be fired. When Daniel accuses her of threatening him, Julia says she is protecting herself. Later, Daniel and a museum staff member are going through the space for the Biennale exhibit; Julia is tagging along, and Daniel ignores each of her suggestions. She gives up until Daniel asks if she wants to help. She says yes eagerly, and Daniel sends her to fetch his drycleaning.
Back at the Salinger house, Claudia and Owen are horrified to find a feather in Thurber's mouth. Charlie begins to explain to Owen that it was probably better not to get attached to the bird, because "sometimes you meet a bird, get to know it, and think maybe the bird needs you. But sometimes it doesn't work out." Claudia thinks this is the worst lecture on loss she's ever heard. Charlie ignores her and tells Owen that they've also learned that "your big brother is always right." Charlie leaves, and then bird droppings land on Owen's shoulder with a splat. "Charlie!" Owen and Claudia chorus.
Later Julia tries to impress Daniel by producing all sorts of work towards the Biennale, but he tells her to go home. He doesn't trust her if there's no one else around after hours; he doesn't know what she will say about him, and since she's the kind of person who obviously takes whatever advantage she can, he doesn't want her around. Julia leaves without arguing, a look of dull misery on her face.
Nina meets Charlie at Salinger's. He says the bird has recovered. It recovered all over the kitchen, in fact. He wonders why life always pairs good news and bad. "Bird lives, kitchen ruined. Meet a great person; she goes to China." Nina tells him that her group was not selected for the migration count. Charlie tries to be sympathetic, but he's happy she's not going away. "I'm happy you're happy," says Nina. Charlie decides maybe life can be good after all. As they begin to move their faces together for a kiss, a large chunk of ceiling falls onto the bar not far from where Nina is sitting. At Julia's and Griffin's apartment, Griffin is making notes from a manual when Julia comes in. He notices she's been crying, but she won't talk about it. She says she just needs some sleep, and she closes herself in the bedroom. She leans against the door and begins to cry.
Coming back from a meeting that night, Bai and Annie joke about one participant who hogged the microphone. They say goodnight rather lingeringly. Sarah tells Bailey that they had a call from Hank, who told Sarah that Annie owes Hank about $2000 in back rent; she's 3 months behind. Sarah tells Bailey that Annie lied, and that he doesn't really know her at all.
The next morning Griffin is waiting outside the bathroom to talk to Julia; he's worried about her. She puts him off, telling him it's just work. She says she can't quit, but he shouldn't worry about her. Bailey confronts Annie about being three months behind in rent. At first she says it's not his business. He says it's his job to collect the rents, and $200 of it is his money. She says she didn't lie to him; she is having cash flow problems. Her divorce was nasty and expensive, since her husband wasn't willing to get sober. She had to get Natalie away from her husband. And now she's in a hole and it's the lawyers versus the landlord, and the lawyers are meaner. But she is going to make it.
Charlie is getting an estimate from a contractor on the damaged ceiling at Salinger's. He tells Charlie that he has a "separation". Water has gotten into the ceiling through a fine crack in the roof, and now the ceiling is collapsing under its own weight. Charlie asks how much and how long. The contractor says four grand and two weeks' work, but no guarantees. Bai and Sarah receive Annie's eviction notice from Hank. Bai tells Sarah to stall on giving it to Annie, but she refuses, saying she can't afford to lose her job and her apartment.
At Salinger's, the repair is under way, but Nina and Claudia are more interested in playing with Owen than in Charlie's worries about the repair job. When Nina, Owen, Claudia and the contractor are dancing to the radio, Charlie comes in and tells Nina that her trying to find the positive in this situation is only making it worse.
Later, Sarah goes to Annie's apartment to deliver the eviction notice. She doesn't have the heart to wake Annie when Natalie comes to the door, but gives the letter to the little girl. Griffin goes to see Daniel and tells him that Julia is unhappy about work. Daniel tries to tell Griffin to talk to his wife about that. Griffin already tried that. Daniel is unnerved and tells Griffin that his wife should wear her wedding ring, and stop acting so available. Griffin crashes into Daniel, sending display models flying, but Julia intervenes before Griffin can punch Daniel. Julia admits that the situation is not all Daniel's fault. Griffin storms out of the office and Julia follows him. Griffin demands an explanation and Julia says she flirted with Daniel because she knew he liked her; nothing happened, but she did whatever it took to get the job. She thought that if nothing actually happened, she wasn't doing anything wrong. She says it was a really stupid, but that's all it was. Griffin roars off on his motorcycle without another word.
Bailey comes up a possible solution to Annie's problem. He tells her to write to the rent control board, citing all the things wrong with her apartment that Hank has had to fix, and to say exactly how long it took for Hank to fix each one. If Hank doesn't keep ahead of the repairs, Bai tells her, then he's in violation of the lease, and he can't demand payment of rent, and the eviction process can't go forward. Annie sighs in relief. Now she might have a chance to get catch up on her payments.
Julia goes to Daniel's office to apologize for Griffin's behaviour, saying he was just protecting her. Daniel says the two of them need to work on their self-control. "The three of us," Julia counters. "I flirted with you to get the job, but you gave me the job so you could flirt with me." She says she's quitting anyway, so he doesn't have to worry about being alone with her. He tells her to stop being so dramatic, and says she can keep her position as a docent, since that's the job she's qualified for. Daniel thinks they should just stay out of each other's way, and they should consider the whole situation an accident. "An accident," Julia repeats softly. "Great."
Annie goes to Bai and Sarah's apartment to thank Sarah -- she took Bai's advice about the rent control board, and she is not going to be evicted. She hugs Sarah gratefully. Sarah is taken aback, but responds as politely as she can. Annie wants to see what they've done with their second bedroom; Sarah tells her awkwardly that it's Bailey's bedroom, and Annie is surprised to learn that Bai and Sarah are not a couple.
Charlie goes to see Nina at the nature preserve. She's not interested in talking to him if he's going to spread around his negative attitude, however. He asks her what he was supposed to think: a piece of ceiling nearly kills her, he has to spend four grand on repairs, and he's out of business for two weeks. Where's the silver lining in that, he wonders. Nina says that with her trip cancelled and Charlie free at the same time, it would have been an opportunity for them to take a vacation together. "A vacation!" Charlie exclaims. "A vacation?" he wonders. He frowns speculatingly. "A vacation."
Sarah asks Bailey if he's in love with Annie. She can't figure out why he's willing to risk their livelihood and apartment for her, otherwise. Bailey can't believe it. Of course not, he says. He's trying to help her out because she's in a bind, and she's alone, and she's got a kid. "We're just good friends, that's all," he says.
Julia goes to the shop to see Griffin. She wonders if he's mad at her. He says he just feels bad. He asks if she's happy with him at all, because she doesn't seem to be "into this at all." She's not into the apartment, nor into having his name -- none of it. She says it has nothing to do with him. She sometimes feels like a kid playing dress-up; if she puts on her lipstick and heels, she can pretend to be a grown-up. But there's a lot she doesn't know; there are reasons why she doesn't feel like she can fit in.
Bailey and Annie have finished painting Natalie's room. Noticing a smear of paint across her cheekbone, Bai tries to tell where it is so she can wipe it away, but she misses and tells him to do it. It seems to have dried on; he has to rub his thumb across her skin quite hard to get it to come away even a little. His touch seems to bring her to a decision, and she lifts her face to his and kisses him. After a moment he kisses her back.
Julia is about to lead a tour at the museum. She's introducing herself when she catches sight of Griffin among the tour group. "I'm Julia -- Holbrook," she says firmly, her eyes on Griffin. He ducks his head, but he can't hide the smile this brings him. Julia starts off with the group, and when she looks back at him and smiles, he smiles back and follows happily.
The final scene shows Owen, Nina and Charlie back at the wharf. Charlie sits on the railing watching as Nina and Owen cup their hands around the bird. On her count, Nina and Owen open their joined hands and throw their arms wide, releasing the bird. The camera follows the bird upward, and we can see the three of them on the wharf as the bird takes flight.
Fade to credits.