Charlie collapses on
the raquetball court
Annie Mott......Paige Turco
Bailey comes into the apartment, where Sarah is preparing dinner. Bai is panicking about having to plow through _Moby Dick_ in two days. Sarah says it's his kind of book, with lots of hunting and fighting. Bailey wonders why Sarah is cutting up so many red peppers, since he can't eat them. Sarah says they're not for him. She has invited Elliot, the guy she met through the Internet chat room, to come for dinner. She was hoping Bai could make himself scarce. Bai offers to stay in his room the whole time, saying he'll be quiet. Having her ex-boyfriend in the next room while she's getting to know Elliot is not what Sarah had in mind, and when Bai promises that they won't know he's there, Sarah exasperatedly wishes Bailey's next date luck, since it's obvious Bailey has forgotten what people do on a date.
Charlie, Julia and Griffin are in the Salinger kitchen and Julia and Charlie are discussing preparations for the wedding. Charlie tells them he has too much on his plate right now to handle the wedding by himself, so he has hired a wedding coordinator to handle the catering, decorations and lights. Music will be all up to Julia and Griffin. Griffin has little attention to spare for music, though, since a new bike shop, part of a chain, has opened three doors away from his shop. He goes to check out the competition, kissing a frustrated Julia on the forehead as he leaves. At the new store Griffin does a little comparison shopping and discovers that the chain can afford to lower its prices to levels he can't compete with.
Bai is trying to read in his room ("I've Got You Under My Skin" is playing in the next room) when his curiosity gets the better of him and he stoops to looking through the keyhole of his door at Sarah and Elliot. Sarah chooses that moment to come in looking for CDs. Naturally, the door hits Bai in the head when she opens it. When Sarah offers to introduce him to Elliot, Bai refuses.
Charlie, Kirsten and her husband Paul are having a drink in a restaurant. Paul says his racquetball buddy cancelled out on their game, and Kirsten is glad to hear it, saying Paul can stay for dinner. Paul and Charlie decide to play racquetball. Charlie says that he's been feeling kind of worn out, but maybe a good sweat is what he needs. There is competition even in the swing of their beer bottles as the two men finish their beers.
Bai goes into the bathroom, only to find Elliot using it; Bailey gathers his books and goes to leave, and Elliot introduces himself as Bailey heads for the door.Bai heads for the laundry room to find a quieter place to read. He hides when he sees Annie coming. After she's gone, Bai sits on ones of the dryers. When the washer Annie used starts acting up, Bai tries banging on it to settle it down. When that doesn't work, he lift the lid to see if there's something caught in the works. The first thing he fishes out is a black bra.
Julia and Griffin are walking home from shopping and Julia is trying to interest Griffin in the wedding plans, but Griffin's mind is on something else. Griffin tries to show some interest, but his suggestion does not meet with wholehearted approval from Julia. Griffin strives to come up with a preference, and says he likes an ice cream cake. "A cake that melts?" cries Julia.
Heading back to the apartment, Bailey finds Sarah and Elliot necking. He backs out the door and sits on the staircase in the hall.
During their intense racquetball game, Paul and Charlie trade stories of how pathetically devoted they are to their respective significant others. When Paul asks about Nina, Charlie says she's amazing, fantastic, and that he's crazy about her. [Actually, the way it comes out, it sounds like it's all one long emphatic word: "'SamazingfantasticI'mcrazybouther!" -- S.] Charlie is pale, sweating profusely and evidently being roundly trounced by Dr. Paul. After challenging him to a second game, Charlie collapses on the court. Paul calls an ambulance over Charlie's protests. Paul takes Charlie to the hospital where Charlie is examined. Paul suggests that he stay with Charlie, and offers advice to the examining physician on what to look for. Charlie convinces him to go back to Kirsten, and says he'll let them know. After Paul leaves, the doctor examines the lymph nodes under Charlie's arms and finds *something*.
Sarah comes into the apartment the next day with new sheets, which she plans to wash before using them, so they'll be softer, and scented candles, as well as perfume which she asks Bai's opinion on. Bai really isn't interested in Elliot and Sarah, but Sarah tries to tell him that if something were to happen between her and Elliot, she wants to be ready.
At the Salinger house, Charlie and Julia are meeting with the wedding coordinator, Zoe; Griffin is late. Charlie tells Kirsten and Paul, who are also there, that he's recovered from his collapse, and that his energy level is fine. He's waiting to hear from the doctor's office about his tests. While Julia and Zoe discuss how to fit all the wedding guests into the house, Paul suggests holding the wedding in the garden. Everyone else looks uncomfortable. Kirsten says they could make it look different, or hold it at night. Julia likes that idea. Charlie's doctor's office calls and he takes it in the kitchen. Instead of telling him much over the phone, the doctor's staff person insists that Charlie meet with the doctor the next day. Charlie agrees, but goes back into the living room and tells everyone else that his tests came back fine. Julia decides not to wait any longer for Griffin before doing a run-through of the ceremony.
Bailey and Sarah collide in the bathroom while Sarah is preparing for her date with Elliot. Sarah's hair is in curlers, and Bai's bumping into her knocks an armload of stuff onto the floor, including a package of condoms. This is too much for Bailey, who is shocked to learn she is considering sleeping with Elliot after knowing him for three weeks, especially since Bailey and Sarah were together for months before the subject even came up. Sarah says she really likes Elliot; that he's very sweet, and that she's in college now, and this is what people her age do. Bailey doesn't want to hear any more.
At home that evening, Charlie peels back the bandage from his biopsy incision, and examines under his arm gingerly. From the way he grimaces at touching the spot, it's clear that the incision is very sore. Meanwhile Julia goes to see Griffin at the bike shop. He is dismayed to realize he totally forgot about the meeting with Zoe because it's so busy at the shop. Julia tells him to hire someone, but he says he can't. "You mean you won't," Julia says in frustration. He apologizes, but Julia thinks he doesn't care about the wedding. At first she didn't either -- she thought that they didn't need all the traditional things like a church ceremony, all they needed was each other because "it was about us." But now she's really excited by all the preparations. Griffin says "I'll get out of this."
Charlie's at the doctor's office and she asks him if the incision site is tender. Charlie says it's fine. The doctor tells Charlie that they found Hodgkin's disease, a form of lymphatic cancer. Charlie is shocked, especially since his earlier blood tests indicated nothing wrong. The doctor tells him that this kind of disease wouldn't show up on a blood test, but the biopsy confirms it. Charlie fades out for a while, and nothing the doctor tells him about testing and treatment really registers, until the doctor encourages him to have the preliminary test done within the week. "No," Charlie says right away. "That won't be possible. Now's not a good time."
Bai comes into the apartment while Sarah is preparing for her dinner with/seduction of Elliot. Seeing the apartment filled with candlelight and music, Bai asks "It's *tonight*?" Sarah thought he understood that part. She wonders if maybe Elliot won't want to. "Oh, he's gonna want to," Bailey assures her. "Those candles are very strong." He tells her he's going to the library overnight to read his book. He takes a blanket with him. "Have -- " Bailey begins, and then reconsiders. "Be good," he tells her instead.
Griffin goes to see Howie at his comedy club. Griffin asks for a little more financial help, but the further $5000 he asks for causes Howie to question Griffin's commitment to their "partnership". Howie uses a combination of fear and guilt to convince Griffin it would be better to ask for more upfront, and agrees to give him another $15,000, though not without letting everyone in the place know how much Griffin asked for, and embarrassing him further.
Bai is in the coffee shop, and just when he gets to the chapter of _Moby Dick_ entitled "The Pequod Meets the Virgin," his forehead hits the table in exhaustion. Annie finds him at the coffee shop and tells him she's been worried about him. She thought he'd been missing meetings, but he tells he's been going to meetings on campus. Annie says she just wanted to make sure he was alright, and leave the coffee shop. Realizing she probably checked out every coffee shop he might have mentioned to her, Bai follows her out. He admits he thinks about her all the time, and that he's been avoiding her. Annie says she's been doing the same thing. Bai knows he's not supposed to get involved with somebody new in the early part of his sobriety, in order not to add a new relationship to a whole lot of other new things, but "how does giving up somebody great help my sobriety?" he wonders. Annie says she doesn't know. Bailey reaches for her hand, and knits his fingers into hers. They smile at each other.
Griffin is only a little bit late for next the meeting with Zoe, and Julia and Griffin begin to tell the wedding coordinator about some of the changes they would like her to make to the plans for the wedding. Charlie gets home but stands outside the front door for a minute or two, debating whether or not to come in. When he comes into the living, he hears Zoe trying to convince Julia and Griffin to go along with her suggestions. Charlie says "no one is going to make them feel bad about what they want!" Charlie fires Zoe and heads upstairs. In the bathroom, Charlie looks at his own face in the mirror and breaks down. He washes his face quickly when he hears Julia knocking. He apologizes to her when she opens the door. "No," she says, coming to him and putting her arms around his neck. "Thank you, for everything." With her arms around him and her head on his shoulder, Julia doesn't see how hard Charlie struggles to keep his unhappiness out of his face.
Bailey and Annie are in bed. "What do we tell Natalie?" he asks her. "We tell her we're dating," Annie suggests, "but we tell her slowly." Not too slowly, says Bailey. "The way I see it, it's good news."
Howie comes to see Griffin at the shop and tells him that he wants to put some of the profits from his "cash-only" business into Griffin's business. Griffin doesn't like the idea of hiding funds from the government, and tries to refuse, but Howie overrides Griffin's objections.
Kirsten comes the doorstep to tell Charlie that she doesn't think she can handle Julia's wedding after all. Being there with all of them under those circumstances would be too much for her, she says. Charlie begins to cry while she talks to him. When she asks what's the matter, Charlie tells her he has Hodgkin's. "Oh my God," says Kirsten softly. "It's this cancer -- " Charlie explains. "I know what it is," Kirsten tells him. Charlie's scared. He can't help thinking about the statistics he's be told -- what's seventy-five percent of that tree over there, he wonders. Is that a good chance? "Am I going to live?" he asks her. Kirsten puts her arms around him and just holds him. The sound of the telephone and Claudia's voice from inside the house causes him to shrug out of her embrace and scrub the tears from his face. "You haven't told them," Kirsten realizes. She urges Charlie to tell them, but he refuses to do so until after Julia's wedding.
Meanwhile, Julia and Griffin are checking out the bridal registry section of the department store. Julia explains the various pitfalls of registering. You don't want to register for things so expensive that no one can afford to give gifts, but you don't want a cheap pattern either. At least registering avoids having to return a lot of stuff. At the idea of returning gifts, Griffin perks up, and he asks the saleswoman if it's possible to return wadding gifts for cash.
Bai returns to the apartment and Sarah wonders where he was the night before. He tells her he crashed on a buddy's floor. He asks how she is, and she says she's "still completely a virgin." Bai says "Don't tell me he missed the signs?" Elliot got the signs, all right, but Sarah changed her mind. She decided that adding another change to her new school, new place, new boyfriend, new life would be one change too many. She asks Bailey if he thinks that's really lame. "No," says Bailey. "I don't."
Charlie and Nina come into his bedroom. Nina is full of news about her trip. Charlie doesn't make conversation, even when she asks him how things went with him while she was away. Instead of answering, Charlie takes her in his arms and stops her mouth with kisses. Nina is puzzled by his silence, but returns his kisses.
Fade to credits.