In the design office, Katie consulted with Thorne and Carter about the custody hearing. Thorne suggested that he and Katie get married before the hearing. Thorne figured the union would help if the judge planned to compare Katie's home to Bill's. Carter said that the marital status of a parent shouldn't matter, whether married or single, but a judge would take into account any stepparents involved.
Carter advised that Will's approval of the union could work in their favor. Katie said Bill had been neglecting Will for months before she and Thorne had started dating. Thorne had given Will a man to count upon, and it had been amazing for Katie to watch Will open up to Thorne, who paid attention to Will and looked him in the eye.
Katie didn't want to diminish Bill's place as Will's father, and she intended to foster the relationship as long as it was healthy. She hated to say it, but fatherhood and Bill didn't fit. She'd once bought into Bill's notion that all his failures with Wyatt and Liam stemmed from the mothers who'd kept Bill's sons from him, but she'd realized that Bill was compromising his relationship with Will, too.
Katie felt that Bill was an occasional father who saw his child on his own terms; however, Thorne gave Will loyalty and devotion. She believed Will would only have positive things to say about Thorne and the home they created for him. Happy to hear it, Carter supported the decision to marry before the hearing because their stable home was preferable to Bill handing Will over to a nanny while Bill chased women.
Carter left, and Katie and Thorne discussed the idea of immediately getting married. The feminist in Katie resisted the idea that she needed a husband to strengthen her case. Thorne joked that he wasn't just any old husband.
As Thorne started to tell Katie that they could take their time, she blurted out, "Let's do it." Katie reasoned that they were already in agreement that they'd go down life's road together, so there was no reason to wait. Katie proposed that she and Thorne go into the hearing as husband and wife and show the judge the stable family they could provide Will.
Thorne insisted that he wasn't trying to rush a wedding for the hearing, and they could take as much time as she wanted. Katie said she'd marry him right then and there, even if there wasn't a hearing. Thorne yelled for Carter to return as an officiant. Chuckling, Katie decided that maybe it shouldn't be right there in the office and said she didn't even have a dress.
Thorne said they could get the dress right there, or he could sew her one. He told her that they could get married whenever, as long as they did it. He explained that, after Darla's death, he'd hoped to find himself and meaning in his work in Paris. He'd had many dates that had gone nowhere, and if he'd known what had been awaiting him, he would have returned much sooner. He thanked her for enabling him to be a husband and a father.
At Judge McMullen's office, the judge didn't know what Ridge wanted done. Ridge repeated the judge's vow to be there for whatever Ridge needed. "Well, this is it," Ridge said, and he asked if they had an understanding that the judge would rule against Bill.
The judge stated that he didn't know what Ridge was suggesting. Ridge advised his old friend that there was no need to look uncomfortable because Ridge just wanted the judge to make sure a boy ended up in the right home. When the judge was silent, Ridge reminded him that Ridge had been there when he'd needed help.
The judge was grateful for the loan that had opened doors for him, "but what you're asking me to do -- " the judge started to say. Interrupting, Ridge stated that he wasn't asking anything. He was telling the judge that he needed help, and the mother needed custody of her son.
Standing up, Craig McMullen conveyed disbelief that Ridge was putting him in that position. Ridge quipped that he had indeed put the judge in his position by loaning the money for Craig to become a judge, and the time had arrived to do Ridge a favor. Craig said it went beyond a favor. Ridge claimed that Craig knew Ridge wouldn't ask unless it was important.
Ridge called Bill Spencer scum and said that Katie was with Ridge's brother. Ridge insisted that Will needed a proper guardian to look up to, and Craig could give Will one. Craig replied that it wasn't that simple. Ridge believed that it was, and all Craig had to do was evaluate the evidence and make the right decision.
Ridge told Craig that he'd do the same thing as Ridge was doing if someone like Bill had hurt Craig's family. Ridge claimed that Bill had targeted Ridge's daughter, a woman half Bill's age, and had refused to take no for an answer. Ridge asked how Craig would feel if it had been Audrey. "You mean he actually...?" Craig asked. Ridge looked choked up and said, "Yeah."
Craig said he was sorry. Ridge was, too, and claimed that it was the way Bill was and how Bill treated his sons. Ridge believed the physical and mental abuse would come out in court. Ridge stated that Bill was a bad man, and giving Katie custody was the right thing to do.
Ridge asked what Craig thought. Craig replied that he thought he could lose his job. Craig stated that if he made the wrong decision there, it could mean the end of his career. Ridge noted that Craig wasn't saying "no."
At Spencer, Justin tried to talk Bill out of bribing the judge. Bill said that anyone could be bought. Justin wondered how Bill would care for his son from behind bars. "Fine," Bill relented. He decided that he'd take the lawyerly advice he paid for and not bribe the judge.
As Justin exited, Brooke arrived. She'd gotten Bill's message about the hearing date. She couldn't believe it had gotten to that. He asked if she could try once more to convince her sister that the custody battle would only hurt Will.
Brooke wasn't sure she should have agreed to meet Bill. Though she cared about both sides in the hearing, it felt wrong to her to meet Bill in secret like that. Bill asked what would be the worst thing that would happen if Katie found out.
Brooke replied that Katie wasn't the only person she was worried about. Rolling his eyes, Bill assumed she was referring to the dressmaker. Bill said that even the best marriages had secrets. Brooke glared at him.
Brooke exclaimed that she'd already tried to reason with her sister. "But you know how stubborn she is," Brooke complained. Bill admitted that he'd made mistakes, but they hadn't been egregious enough to cost him custody. Bill didn't think it was fair that his relationship with his son was in the hands of a total stranger.
Gripping his shoulders, Brooke told Bill not to worry about going before a judge because the judge had to be impartial. Brooke believed that no matter what Katie said, Bill would get the chance to explain and show what Will meant to him. Brooke stated that fathers had rights, too. "We do. I do," Bill agreed and stated that a judge would decide things. "And Katie had better damn well accept it," Bill concluded.
Later, Bill was alone when Justin returned and said Judge McMullen was clean. Bill didn't believe it. Justin mentioned a traffic ticket the judge had gotten but reminded Bill that blackmail wasn't an option. Agreeing, Bill said he still liked to have information -- just in case.
Justin had plenty of information, but it was boring newsletters and church bulletin stuff. McMullen was a midwestern self-made man with nothing to hide. Justin offered to keep digging. Bill decided that a clean judge might be a good thing because he wouldn't just give Katie sole custody.
Justin was impressed by Bill's positivity. Bill faulted Brooke for it and said she had a way of making him be that way. Justin said Brooke had always been a good influence on him. Bill replied that it meant a lot to him that Brooke didn't just give blind loyalty to Katie.
In the Forrester CEO's office, Ridge text-messaged his phone number to the judge. He said he knew that Craig was conflicted, but "this" was best for all. Brooke entered, and Ridge hastily put his phone away. Brooke said she'd been running errands, and Ridge claimed that he had been, too. Talk turned to the custody hearing, and Ridge stated that Will deserved better than Bill.
Brooke thought Ridge had a right to hate Bill after all that the men had put each other though, but she reasoned that Bill was just trying to have a relationship with Will, one that Bill didn't have with his older sons. Brooke noted that Ridge acted as if "we" could prevent it, but the judge would decide. "Yes, he will," Ridge haughtily agreed. She replied that it was wrong, and they couldn't take Bill's son away from him. "The hell they can't," Ridge replied.
Back in McMullen's office, the judge received Ridge's message, sighed, and opened some files. The screen panned to Bill, who was staring at a picture of Will. The camera cut back to Forrester, where Brooke was studying her husband's curious demeanor.
• Eric is surprised by Ridge's deep investment in Will's custody hearing.
• Katie explains to Will that Thorne becoming Will's stepfather didn't replace Bill as Will's father.