- Zoe telling Paul that she doesn't want to cause anymore trouble for his family
Helen tells Nikki to fetch Lucy for dinner while Scott gets confused setting the table - he was still counting a place for Paul. Jim thinks it might be time for one of them to check up on Paul at Lassiter's and Scott volunteers. Nikki (wearing a giant yellow sack as a t-shirt), reappears and lets the family know that Lucy is nowhere to be found. Jim grumbles that she'll be in trouble if she's off playing with Bradley, but Helen wisely points out that being disobedient is probably the only way Lucy can get her dad's attention these days.
Jim asks Zoe if Lucy is with Bradley, but it's Andrea who takes great delight in telling Jim that his daughter is there. She goes to retrieve the kids and Zoe tells Jim that she had a chat with Lucy and she seems to be OK with the idea of them being together now. Andrea returns from the hall with a note - Bradley and Lucy have run away. Andrea is quite upset at first, but when Jim mentions he'll call the police, she suddenly seems a lot calmer and tells him there's no need. Hmm. Jim exits to let his family know what's happened and Andrea and Zoe have a little tiff about who's to blame, but when Zoe says she's going to join the search party, Andrea is surprised and touched she cares so much.
Madge is around visiting Helen when Jim walks in and tells them about Lucy's disappearance. Madge offers to gather up Max and the boys to assist with the search party. Jim tells Helen that he's going to look in all the obvious places like the garage - "It's just possible that she wants to be found."
Des arrives home from his mum's and is appalled that Andrea hasn't called the police yet. Andrea makes up some nonsense about just wanting to protect Des - she figures that if the police are involved then everyone will know he's Bradley's father. But Des doesn't care if the whole world knows; he just wants the kids safe. Andrea looks very worried as Des dials the cop shop.
Jim tells Helen and Madge that the kids aren't in the garage, so Helen takes it upon herself to call Paul for help when Jim won't do it. Looking concerned, Paul tells his Gran that he's on his way. Helen gives the news to Jim, who isn't very enthusiastic about it but claims that he just sounds cranky because he's tense about Lucy.
Jim rejoins Zoe, Des and Andrea and thinks that they should call the police but Des replies that he's already done it. Andrea continues to look ill at the thought. Zoe wonders to Jim if it *is* her fault that Lucy has run away, and Andrea quickly butts in that it definitely is. She angrily adds that Jim has been putting all the blame on Bradley ever since he arrived on the street, but this time it's his daughter that's the ringleader. Jim wants to save the accusations until later causing Andrea to snap at him, but then she apologises and says she just wants to know where the kids are.
Paul rushes for his car and is about to turn the keys in the ignition when two little heads pop up from the backseat - Lucy and Bradley.
Lassiter's - Paul's Room
Paul leads the kids in and starts to dial home, but Lucy thinks there's no point; her dad won't care. Paul asks why Lucy believes that and Lucy quickly replies that he hit Paul, which means he doesn't care about any of his kids.
PAUL: And what about you? Do you think your mother doesn't care about you?
BRADLEY: Course she does! I just ran away to look after Lucy.
Hiding a smile, Paul tells Lucy that just because he and Jim had one argument doesn't mean they don't care about one another. In fact, he probably deserved the wallop for all the things he said to Jim. Bradley wonders what Paul's going to do now, but Paul hasn't a clue.
Helen stresses that she should have seen this coming because she knew how upset Lucy was, but Madge tells her that she can't blame herself for everything that's happened.
MADGE: The truth is children are totally unpredictable. It's no use beating ourselves over the head for the things we've done wrong.
HELEN: Speaking from experience?
MADGE: The problem with my two was that I never knew when to be gentle and when to be firm. Eventually what I did was be far too hard on Charlene, and too soft on Henry. Charlene adored Henry. When he started to have problems she blamed them on me.
Helen can see that Madge misses Charlene very much, and Madge apologises for getting upset - she was supposed to be cheering Helen up! Jim walks in just as the phone rings. It's Nikki letting them know she hasn't heard anything.
Lassiter's - Paul's Room/Number 26
Bradley quite confidently cracks a beer open from the fridge while Paul is trying to coax Lucy back home. He knows she's mad at their dad, but it doesn't give her the right to upset their Gran (and the rest of the family) too. Noticing the ale, Paul snatches it off Bradley and asks if he wants to keep worrying his mum.
BRADLEY: (indignant) I just ran away to look after Lucy. If I'd let her go by herself she could have got murdered, or bashed or cut up into little pieces!
The kids eventually agree to let Paul ring home and tell everyone they're safe. Jim answers and is quite relieved, telling Paul that he'll come and get them. But Paul wants to take the kids to dinner first so he can have more of a chat with Lucy.
Jim has delivered the news to the gang, but the gun that Des is flinging around distracts me for a moment (before I realised it was probably one of Bradley's toys). Andrea wants Des to take her down to Lassiter's quick smart so she can collect her Bradley-kins but the others think that she should just chill out and wait for Paul to bring them back.
ANDREA: Well I still don't understand how you can treat children to dinner after what they've done.
JIM: Well Paul has a lot of common sense and if he thinks that's the right way to handle the situation, I'm prepared to trust him.
ANDREA: That's very interesting. I heard that you virtually threw Paul out of home.
DES: (warningly) Andrea...
ANDREA: I'm only saying what I've heard. As a matter of fact, I heard that you did more than just that. Care to enlighten me?
JIM: No, Andrea, I wouldn't.
Helen complains to Madge that she felt sorry for Lucy this morning but now she could wring her little neck! Madge knows exactly how she feels - she's been through the many stages of sympathy/guilt/anger herself. But she asks that Helen not be too critical of Lucy when she returns home. Madge admits that she sees a lot of similarities between Lucy and Charlene and thinks that if she had have been more lenient with her then she'd be living with her right now.
Andrea hugs the life out of Bradley when Paul delivers him home and warns him that Des wants to have a few words with him. Grateful, Andrea tells Paul that he's welcome for dinner any night as a way of saying thanks. Paul declines, but instead offers to buy Andrea lunch one day instead.
Andrea steers Bradley inside and Des tries the stern dad act on but isn't all that good at it. He says that Bradley should be punished... He thinks... And then hesitantly checks with Bradley if he should be punished or not!
Helen peers out the window and comments that Paul and Lucy have been sitting out there for a while now. Jim remarks that he's just glad to know Lucy's safe, and admits that he's not so mad at Paul anymore, which is music to Helen's ears.
Paul brings a very sullen Lucy inside and says that she has something to tell their Dad and Gran - but what she blurts out isn't quite what he expected.
LUCY: I want Paul to come back home.
PAUL: (shocked) Hey, that's not what we'd agreed you'd say!
LUCY: I don't care. All I promised was to say that I didn't mind about dad and Zoe, and I was only going to say that because I wanted you back home.
Paul apologises and heads out the door but Jim chases after him and they have a big sorry-fest about the whole ordeal. Jim says he's welcome to come back home but Paul doesn't think it will work and admits that he just needs a break from the family.