Nick protecting Sharon by telling Harold that the fire at the Coffee Shop was *his* fault.
Helen and Jim head through from the kitchen to the lounge room, Helen commenting as they do so that at least Des shouldn't have any trouble collecting the insurance: there didn't appear to be any suspicious circumstances. Todd is kneeling by the coffee table and he grins that he almost hates to go away: you never know what's going to happen next! The front door opens suddenly and Nick comes in, escorted by Harold. Jim smiles at Harold that it's the man of the moment! Harold replies mutedly that he only did what was necessary. He then turns to Nick and says:
NICK: Come on young man - speak up.
Nick just stands there in silence. Looking concerned, Helen says she hopes it's not more graffiti. Harold replies coolly that he's afraid it's a lot more destructive than that. Nick continues to stand there in silence, and so Harold explains:
HAROLD: Right. Nick was smoking in the Coffee Shop and his discarded cigarette caused the fire.
Helen looks at Jim in shock.
Paul and Gail are lying back on the couch, watching TV. Paul gets up and turns it off, though, and he asks Gail if she's sure she's well enough to go to the clinic in the morning. She nods that there's not a trace of the 'flu left. There's suddenly a knock on the front door and Paul opens it to find Jane standing on the step. She apologises for disturbing him, before going on:
JANE: I know it's a terrible imposition, but do you think I could have tomorrow off? I wouldn't normally ask, but it's a really special shoot.
PAUL (looking irritated): Jane, I thought all of this was supposed to be over on the weekend.
JANE: Well, you see, Robert couldn't get the location until tomorrow and Sylvie - the other model - won't be available 'til later in the week. So please?
Paul sighs that he'll see if Helen can fill in - but he tells Jane that this is the last time: he needs her at the office. Jane assures him that she'll make sure it finishes tomorrow. With that, she heads off. Paul goes and joins Gail in the kitchen and comments:
PAUL: We're going to lose her, you know? Glamour's starting to win out.
GAIL: Oh, I wouldn't worry too much.
She then suggests that they call it a night: they've got to be at the clinic early in the morning and she wants to be fighting fit. Paul smiles at her and says sincerely:
PAUL: As long as you remember that you're more important to me than any baby.
Jane is sitting in an armchair in the lounge room, trying on some false nails. Sharon is lying in front of the TV and Jane tells her that the nails should be just right for tomorrow's shoot on Victorian romance. She asks Sharon what *she* thinks, but Sharon just mutters:
SHARON: What do *you* reckon?
Jane asks in surprise if she's done something wrong. Sharon, however, explains quickly that she's just worried about the fire. Jane comments that that's Sharon's job gone, isn't it - but at least it's only pocket money; she doesn't have to support herself like Mr. Bishop. Looking guilty, Sharon gets up and goes to make some coffee. The doorbell rings suddenly and Jane goes to get it. She finds Scott standing on the step and he apologises for turning up so late. The two of them head into the lounge room where Scott tells Jane that he thought tomorrow's photo session might make a good piece for the paper. Jane exclaims:
JANE: Oh Scott, no one would want to read about *that*!
SCOTT (insists): Yeah, sure they would! Modelling's high- profile. You're sort of the local girl who's made good; sort of the - well, I don't know - the duckling to swan story, maybe.
JANE (looking thoughtful): If that's the sort of thing you're after, you should talk to Sylvie.
SCOTT: Who's she?
JANE: She's the other girl I've been modelling with. She's got a really unbelievable history.
SCOTT: Fantastic! Will you fill me in?
JANE: Better than that - why don't you come down to the shoot tomorrow yourself? Robert won't mind - he loves any sort of publicity.
Sharon comes back in with coffee. Scott turns to her and smiles that she's next! Sharon asks glumly what for. Scott explains that he's doing a small piece on the fire and he wants an eye- witness account. Sharon retorts that she wasn't there. Scott persists:
SCOTT: You were the last person to leave the shop, right? Could you just tell me exactly what happened before you left?
SHARON (warily): Well... I was closing up. I turned everything off. And...
SCOTT (gently): Look, nobody's blaming *you*, OK? Right. Do you know... do you know if the wiring's been checked lately?
SCOTT: Did you smell any smoke?
SCOTT: Well *something* weird must've happened. Fires just don't start by themself.
SHARON (snaps): I don't know *anything*, all right?
With that, Sharon storms out, leaving Scott to ask Jane what's up with *her*.
Nick is sitting on the lounge room floor, working on a sketch of the Coffee Shop on fire. Todd emerges from his bedroom and tells Nick that he'd better not let Helen see that: he's in enough trouble already. Nick mutters that she hasn't said much. He screws up the sheet of paper. Todd goes on:
TODD: It's really dumb, you know? What do you want to smoke for anyway?
NICK (snaps): I *wasn't*. Yeah, well, I'm not going to do it again, all right?
Todd replies that that's what he said about video games - but some of them just get to you. Helen emerges from the bedroom area and tells Todd that it's time for bed. Todd goes to the kitchen to get a glass of milk first. Helen bends down and picks up Nick's screwed- up sketch. She looks at it and remarks that it's not a pretty sight, is it? Nick mutters:
NICK: I'd prefer it if you just *yelled* at me. You're angry, right?
HELEN: No - I'd say 'disappointed' is more the word.
NICK: Well it's not as if I did it on purpose.
HELEN: Look, I'll admit the fire was probably an accident...
NICK: *Probably*? What do you think I *am*?
HELEN: I honestly don't know. Fighting... smoking... I expected *better* of you. It's not as if you're a stupid boy; you're *not*. This smoking, for example: you know it's bad for you.
NICK (sighs): Yes, I *know*.
HELEN: Even Sharon wouldn't have been silly enough to try it.
NICK (retorts): Hey, Sharon's no little angel, you know.
HELEN: Perhaps not - but she's not my responsibility; *you are*.
NICK: Look, nobody asked you to take on the responsibility—
HELEN: I *know* nobody did. I did it because I thought you were my friend. So far, all I've seen for my investment is more trouble.
NICK: What can I say? You're right: I've let you down, haven't I? I've let *everyone* down.
HELEN: No, Nick, it's far worse than that: you've let *yourself* down.
With that, she walks off. Todd comes back in and remarks to Nick that Helen made him feel pretty bad, huh? He adds that she'll get over it. Nick just sighs:
NICK: You reckon?
The next morning, Helen is in the kitchen making breakfast to take into Katie in bed. She tells Jim and Todd, who are sitting at the table, that the girl is bored already. Jim says he may have the solution to that, and he asks what Helen thinks about them having one of Bronwyn's kittens. Helen points out that Beverly wasn't too keen. Jim, however, replies that that was just tension; now she's of the view that it's just one more mouth to feed! Nick comes in and Helen tells him tersely that his breakfast's on the table. She heads off to Katie's room, leaving Nick to murmur to Jim that she's still angry. Jim retorts:
JIM: What do you expect, Nick? Helen has gone to a lot of trouble for you - more, I'd say, than your behaviour merits.
NICK (snaps): I said I'm sorry.
JIM: Saying sorry isn't good enough; you've got to *prove* it.
NICK: Yeah? How am I supposed to do *that*?
JIM: Well, you could start by smartening up your attitude, to start with; do a bit more work around the place. You can't expect a free ride forever.
Nick glares at Jim and then stands up and walks out. Todd goes after him.
Sharon joins Nick on the street and asks him if he copped heaps. Nick retorts:
NICK: What do *you* reckon?
Sharon tells him that he saved her life; they would've sent her back to Narrabri. Nick just snaps that he figured he owed her one, but they're even now. He walks off. Todd joins Sharon and she starts to ask him why Nick's so mad at her; it's not *her* fault he's in trouble. Todd just says:
TODD: How would *you* feel? He's not even family and everyone's yelling at him. Uncle Jim just stuck the boot in too.
SHARON: Mrs. Daniels is cool, isn't she?
TODD: It's different: she's laid this big guilt- trip on him about how they were friends and he's let her down. Nick's copping it from everywhere; he's probably wishing he was never here in the first place.
With that, he walks off, leaving Sharon looking worried.
Outside a stately home
Jane and her modelling friend, Sylvie, are in the middle of their Victorian- themed photo shoot, looking demure in their Victorian outfits as they sit in an old carriage. Scott arrives and watches them. Sylvie smiles at him from behind a fan. The photographer then calls to the two girls to break for lunch, and he walks off. Scott joins Jane and Sylvie and tells them that that was fantastic: it was like watching a silent movie! Jane introduces Scott to Sylvie Latham and Scott tells Sylvie that it's nice to meet her. Sylvie says to Scott:
SYLVIE: You're a reporter, aren't you?
SCOTT: Yeah, yeah, just for the local paper. I'm doing a piece on Jane's modelling, but I think she's gone a little bit shy on me, actually!
SYLVIE (laughs): She'll get over that when she's been in the business for a while - but if *I* can help...
SCOTT: Yeah, that'd be fantastic, actually! She said you've got an interesting background.
SYLVIE: I don't know about *that*... Look, I'm dying to get out of this gear. Why don't we talk over lunch?
Harold is standing inside the blackened Coffee Shop, murmuring to himself sadly:
HAROLD: What a waste...
The door opens and Sharon comes in. She looks around and exclaims in shock that she didn't think it would be *this* bad. Harold tells her that he's afraid she'll be out of work for a while. Sharon insists that the main thing is that *Des* is going to be OK. Harold mutters:
HAROLD: Oh, when I think of the senseless waste...
SHARON: It wasn't deliberate.
HAROLD: In *my* opinion, it was just as good as. Reckless stupidity: that's what it was.
SHARON (looking guilty): Can I give you a hand?
HAROLD: Oh, there's not much point at the moment - I'm just making out a report for Des. Not good news - but it was a very kind thought.
Sharon murmurs that she'll push off, then. Harold picks up one of Nick's paintings that's lying on the counter and mutters that you give a person a break and what thanks do you get? He throws the painting on the floor, angrily, adding that he notices young Nick hasn't turned up with any offers of help. Tears well- up in Sharon's eyes and she cries:
SHARON: The fire wasn't really his fault.
HAROLD: Ignorance and cowardice are no excuse, Sharon.
SHARON: But you shouldn't be blaming Nick. You see, I—
HAROLD (sharply): Yes?
SHARON (murmurs): Doesn't matter.
HAROLD (firmly): Displaced loyalty - that's what's happening here, Sharon. Now, that young... punk... had us all fooled.
SHARON (cries): Nick's all right.
HAROLD (dismissively): Oh, really? It's been one disaster after another since he set foot in Ramsay Street. Now, I don't know what Helen Daniels must've been thinking of, but really, I'm very sure that she must've had time to re- evaluate her opinion since.
SHARON: But Nick's not—
HAROLD: Sharon, look, I know you youngsters stick together, but that - that *boy* - has gone too far; and if Helen doesn't take action, then *I* most certainly *will*.
SHARON (cries): No, you can't. The fire wasn't Nick's fault - *he* wasn't smoking in the kitchen. It was *me*.
Harold stares at Sharon as she bursts into tears.
A short time later, Harold and Sharon are sitting on two chairs in the middle of the blackened shop. Sharon is still sobbing, and Harold hands her a tissue and tells her gently to dry her tears. He then asks if it isn't time she told him what really happened. Sharon explains about how two girls from school came in - they'd been giving her a really hard time - and they all smoke and think she's really square because she doesn't. Harold murmurs:
HAROLD: And you decided to prove them wrong...
SHARON: They said I could be in the group, so I tried it - but it tasted awful; it made me cough. They just made fun of me. They took off just before I heard you coming in. I knew you'd go crook at me so I had to get rid of it. I thought it was out...
HAROLD: Yes, well, evidently it wasn't.
SHARON (sobs): It was an accident.
HAROLD (retorts): That does not excuse the fact that you let Nick take the blame.
SHARON: I was going to tell you - except Nick knew how frightened I was of being sent back to Narrabri. Once he'd said it, it was easier to let you think that he...
She breaks off. Harold takes off his glasses and rubs his eyes as he asks Sharon what made her change her mind. She says:
SHARON: You're going to keep hassling him... and Mrs. Daniels doesn't like him anymore... and it's all my fault... I didn't *mean* it to happen.
HAROLD (soothingly): Come on, come on, come on...
SHARON (cries): Des could've died... and Nick could go to jail... and Jamie'd be an orphan and—
HAROLD: None of that is going to happen. Now, you did make a very silly mistake and you've got to rectify it. You're going to have to explain to Des - and I think you owe Nick an apology for letting him take the blame, don't you?
SHARON (murmurs): Yeah.
HAROLD: Very well. Let's hope this has taught you a lesson. Just because other people do silly things, that does not mean you have to follow. 'To thine own self be true', hm?
Sharon nods, sadly.
Jim is in the kitchen when Helen arrives home, sighing that she's had a long and weary day. Jim asks her if she saw Nick on the way in and she nods that he's in the garage with Sharon: he's painting, and Sharon is chatting away nineteen to the dozen. She adds that you'd think he didn't have a worry in the world. Jim tells her:
JIM: Well, he's got one less worry today than he had yesterday: Sharon has admitted to starting the fire in the Coffee Shop.
HELEN (gasps): He didn't do it?
HELEN: Then what on earth possessed him to say that he *did*?
JIM: He probably thought she'd be shipped off back to Narrabri. Nick didn't want that to happen.
HELEN: And he was prepared to risk his own security to prevent it. Well, he may have his faults, but lacking loyalty certainly isn't one of them.
She then groans that she was one of the first to doubt him...
Inside a stately home
Sharon and Sylvie are walking through a stately home, Scott asking questions and recording the answers on a tape recorder. He asks Sylvie what her plans are for the future, as she can't model forever. Sylvie just shrugs that she'll take it as it comes. She then asks if this is going in the article. Scott, however, explains that he's just looking for an angle: with Jane it was 'local girl makes good', but *she's* a little difficult to figure. Sylvie grins:
SYLVIE: It's designed to keep you interested!
SCOTT: Oh, I'm interested all right. So far all you've given me is a standard bio, and Jane said there's a lot more to know.
SYLVIE (flirtatiously): Oh there is - I promise...
Jane joins them and asks them if they're ready to go. Scott muses that Sylvie still hasn't told him about her 'interesting' background! Sylvie suggests that they have a drink on the way back and Scott can interview her to his heart's content. Jane, however, invites them both over to dinner at No.32. They accept - although Scott tells Sylvie that he wants warts and all! With that, he dashes off to talk to Robert, the photographer. When he's gone, Sylvie smiles at Jane:
SYLVIE: Nice moves, cute body...
JANE (pointedly): And married to my best friend.
SYLVIE: Yeah, but she's up in Brisbane or somewhere, isn't she? Poor guy must get really lonely...
No. 26/Driveway of No. 22/Ramsay Street
Sharon is in the garage of No. 26 and she creeps round to look at the painting Nick's working on. She stares at it and exclaims excitedly that it's really wild! Nick, however, tells her to buzz off, as it's not finished yet. Helen joins them and comments that she thought they might be hungry. Sharon, however, says she'd better be getting home. She walks off. When she's gone, Helen tells Nick that she knows, now, what happened. She continues that she thinks Sharon was foolish about the cigarette and he was silly to cover for her, but she understands why he did it and she's sorry for being so harsh with him. Nick says:
NICK: That's OK. I know I shouldn't've lied for Shaz, but I know how she feels about living around here. *I* wouldn't want to go, either.
HELEN (smiles): No chance of that - and in future, if you have any more problems, will you come to *me* with them?
Nick smiles back that it's a deal. With that, he and Helen go to head into the house, Nick closing the garage door behind him.
Across the street, Paul and Gail pull up in the driveway of No. 22 in their car. As Paul climbs out, he calls over to Helen to ask if she's finished his painting yet. Helen calls back that she's only been home for half an hour! She and Nick head into the house. Paul then starts dashing across the street towards No. 26. Gail asks him in surprise where he's going. He turns and tells her:
PAUL: Gran's been painting in the garage. Ten- to- one it's my portrait. I'm just going to take a peek.
A few seconds later, Paul opens the garage door and nips across to the easel. He stares at the painting on it and a look of horror crosses his face. It shows a very blocky Paul with steam coming out of his nose and dollar bills flying around him. He exclaims to himself:
PAUL: Oh what? Oh Gran, how *could* you?