Warning: Spoilers for both seasons 3 and the upcoming season 4.

Basically, this is how I can see season 4 progressing, based on the limited spoilers I've seen.

Rated T for language.

Pairings: Sarah and Hank and Mark, Amber and OC

Disclaimer: I have the DVDs of the show along with a girl crush on Lauren Graham. That's it.

One More for the Road

The bar closed at 2am. A quarter past meant a flurry of drunken activity; the college students in their brightly coloured tights contemplating whether a four-way split in cost meant a cab was worth-wile, the mid-twenties band groupies still obsessed with chasing the ideals of youth complaining about the fact that work starts in six hours. Groups of each type eventually met together to create one larger group, loud and obnoxious in intoxication. Half of the students hassled one grumpy cab driver, encouraging him with stale fries to break the 'no more than 5 passengers at a time' rule. The twenties were having much the same trouble, using a slightly more expensive but just as revolting bag of chicken wings as the bribe. The smell of the occasional vomiting club girl wafted through the street, which coincidentally, was known for encasing the highest amount of gun crime in San Francisco.

One solitary girl, or woman if you prefer, stood to the side of the bar entrance. She'd spent the evening wrapped in a hazy bubble of pouring martini after beer after cosmopolitan, hearing nothing but mundane, limited conversation that she was sure meant her IQ was currently down 20 points. She was waiting for her boyfriend to pick her up after her shift, though so far, he hadn't appeared. She tugged nervously on the ends of her raven black hair, shrugging into her jacket. It was silly really, how scared she was. She'd certainly been through enough and seen enough drunken idiocy to know how to take care of herself. She burrowed tighter into her jacket, willing the college-age boys a few feet away to stop leering at her and giggling. She turned away as if to say 'fuck off', looking to the other end of the street. Mark, where the hell are you.

Sarah Braverman was caught off guard as the sight of a familiar car brought a slight shiver to her frame. It wasn't her boyfriend of eight months there to get her, apparently. She watched her mini-me daughter stumble tiredly out of the driver side door, her face heavy with dejection. She was learning, as her mother did twenty years prior, what she was capable of, and at the moment, she had to admit that it wasn't much. She waved half-heartedly to her mother, holding out her arms for a half-hug.

"Amber, what are you doing here?"

"Mark asked me to get you, he went out for drinks after the parent-teacher meetings with friends."

"He could have told me." Sarah said softly, feeling that Mark, her boyfriend, was pulling away from her.

"He tried, your phone was switched off! Come on, let's go. I have an early shift tomorrow." Amber was a waitress at the Coffee House. Every day, she repeated to herself that she was only doing this to give her time to figure out what she wanted to do with her life. A lot of good that was doing.

Mother and daughter shuffled into the car, Sarah resting her head on the back of her seat. Mark was out with friends. Again. Without her – again. She'd met them once, which had set off a continual rumination on how fucking old she is, and what exactly Mark saw in her. They started to bicker throughout her revelations, and Mark's solution was to have a baby. Yeah, like that's actually going to happen, Sarah thought.

At least she had her new job – if you could really call it that. She was finally doing something artistic, yes. That something was supposed to be an assistant to the photographer job, and turned into a 'get me coffee' internship for lousy money. She'd already messed up on her first day, losing a bucketload of negatives meant for a magazine. They'd had to reshoot everything, leading Sarah to the conclusion that her boss thought she was an idiot only capable of coffee runs.

They reached the house after a while, and Amber trudged back to her unpacked room while Sarah decided that yes, a glass of wine would be a good idea. It wasn't like she had some big, important, Julia-esque job waiting for her in the morning; she just had to make sure Hanks' coffee was hot at nine am.

She slipped some red into a glass, then a little more, then a little more. When the glass was most full, she slipped the new packet of cigarettes (that she'd stolen from Amber) into her jacket pocket, and began the short walk to her outhouse. Looking back, she decided to take the bottle – after all, there was only a quarter left, and it wasn't worth wasting.

Sarah sat on the top step of the guesthouse, rummaging through her bag, looking for the book she'd begun that morning while Hank was in a meeting. There was a character stunningly like her, and as depressing as the outcome for that character would inevitably be, Sarah wanted to revel in the self-deprecation she was currently feeling.

The next morning was a cold one, and as she woke, Amber burrowed further into the covers. It was seven am, and she had to get up, shower, make herself look presentable and get to the coffeehouse by eight thirty. Instead of jumping out of bed like she was sure her cousin Haddie did, she lay silently for minutes, ruminating over her current romantic situation. Or lack thereof. To put it crudely – she was horny. There hadn't been anyone since Steve a couple of years ago, and, well, Amber missed men. She supposed that that was a gene given to her by her mother, who had never lacked for male attention, which made her think. The gene you had to give me is a lousy taste in men and a penchant for unhealthy sex. Gee, thanks mom!

Thinking of her mother was always a double-edged sword. While Amber loved her to pieces, she saw too much of herself in her, and as much as she tried, she couldn't see that as a good thing. She wondered if Mark had really been out with friends last night – though deep down she knew that he loved Sarah and wouldn't want to do anything to hurt her, Amber knew what men could be like. He was pulling away, and it was easy to see.

Sarah walked into the office with a pounding head and an ever-heavy feeling. She didn't know what was wrong with her, just that she felt something that was off-base. She missed the look Hank gave her, one of slight irritation and major curiosity, and sat at her...well, it couldn't really be called a desk.

Hank watched as his new assistant entered with a slightly odd look on her face; it was as if she was somehow off kilter. He didn't know her well enough to show concern, so he figured he would nonchalantly get to know her better. He'd be careful, though. Women had only brought trouble to Hanks life...well...really...no. He'd been a drunk and addict a while ago, and as he had been sober for going on ten years now, he could see that he'd been the one to be trouble. Nobody he'd met could understand the futility of it all; how he could hate himself to the extent that he came across as extremely cocky and eccentric – boasting was all he could do to pick himself up. He guessed that getting to know Sarah would bring the same feelings of guilt and abandon as he'd had with his ex-wife and ex-fuck buddies, so as she sat down and placed her head in one open palm, he sighed and went off to send her an email with her assignments for the day.


Sarah's computer beeped. New email. Open.

What a brilliant invention, she thought. It allowed her boss to give her instructions without having to even look at her.

She read the easy assignments, thinking that surely, there must be something she could do to get back in his good books. She looked over at the far wall, where Hank pinned his proposals, picture ideas, etc. She reflected on the last picture she'd drawn – after Seth had returned to Berkeley, Sarah had tried to get back to her artistic roots by designing record covers for invisible bands. She realized that one of her most recent, a study of birds flying into an unruly vortex, could easily fit into this one idea Hank had pinned to the wall.

She completed her coffee fetching for the morning, and returned home to pick up the picture, thinking she'd leave it on his desk alongside a note detailing her idea, and how it could fit into his.

Hank was exhausted. He had a headache the size of Rhode Island. He'd been stuck in meetings with potential clients all day, and just wanted to get home and sleep. He was going to head straight home, but his business head reasserted itself and he popped into his office to check his emails. On top of the current client list folder on his desk lay a new picture – he thought Trish, his business partner and fellow photographer, must have put her new project there for him to look over. No. It wasn't a photograph; it was a picture, painted. He was shocked by its skilled waves and shades. Glancing over the note that accompanied it, he was even more shocked that Sarah had produced it. Reading over her proposal that this would be just right for the Arthouse magazine spread, he couldn't help but agree.

Hank wanted to see Sarah before he used it, of course. He walked out into the corridor to see if she left yet. The light was still on in the main office room, and her tiny, cluttered desk contained her head.

Should he wake her?

Ultimately, he decided to. He nudged her shoulder, thinking it cute when she merely grunted and turned her head to rest on her other hand. He called her name and patted her a little harder, and she looked up quickly, squinting against the sullen, dim light.

"Oh, hi." Fuck. Don't fall asleep on the job. Don't fall asleep on the job.

"You, er, that is – you fell asleep."

"I can see that. I guess I'll, er, you know. Head home. To my house –"

"Wait, Sarah." The sharp tone made her turn, thinking that for sure, she was about to be fired. He surprised her by walking closer slowly with a small smile on his face; the first time he'd smiled at her since she started. "Did you leave this on my desk" He held up the picture.

Shit. Shit. Why did I do that

"Yes. I guess, you know I wanted to, I just thought that it would be..."

"It's great." He grinned at the shocked look on her face as she looked up at him. "Inspired. Unique. Why didn't you show it to me yourself"

"I'm, well, that's great, for one thing. And I'm not sure, I just...didn't want you to know how cocky I am!" She grinned slightly.

"Fair enough. Listen. Why don't I take you out to dinner, we can talk about how we're going to incorporate this into the spread for the magazine directors on Thursday."

Shock. Fucking A!

"Yes! Yes, sure, let me just make a...I've just got to call, you know," she blubbered.

"Of course. Well I'll just finish up the emails I never got to and I'll meet you out front in 10"

"Good. Great!" Sarah smiled widely as she fished out her phone, expecting to see a few concerned texts and calls from Mark. She opened her mailbox to see...nothing. A missed call from her mother, Camille, but that could wait. She had a dinner to get to, and a boss to further impress.

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