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Of Porcupines and Sprinklers
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Of Porcupines and Sprinklers
by Twig

Lobster Shack

Sheridan watched as the doors opened, and a couple walked in and sat down.

"Luis," she hissed, "Isn't that-"

Luis turned and glanced over at the table, "Eve and TC Russell. I should go say hello…"

"Oh, let them enjoy their dinner in peace," Sheridan admonished, "our waitress is coming back."
No sooner were her words spoken before the waitress hurried over, bearing two huge lobsters on plates, which she presented to Sheridan and Luis with a flourish.

"Enjoy your meal," she said, and hurried off.

Sheridan poked her lobster with a fork, which incidentally glanced off the hard shell, flew through the air, and struck Luis square between the eyes.

"OW!"
"Luis!" she exclaimed, jumping up and hurrying over to him. He opened one eye and glared up at her, rubbing his head.

"Ow," he said again.

"Luis, I'm so sorry!" Sheridan cooed, hovering over him.

He shooed her away, "Sheridan, are you *trying* to kill me?"

"No! I think I'm just a bit clumsy today."

"A bit," he agreed, handing her back her fork.

Sheridan, moving much more cautiously, took a bite of her dinner. Luis, eyeing her warily, followed suit. After several more moments passed without incident, they both relaxed, believing the worst to be over. As she reached over to take Luis's hand, something caught her eye.

"JULIAN!"
He scowled, "No, it's Luis."
"No!" Sheridan hissed, turning Luis's head towards the door, where her brother had just made his grand entrance. "He can't see you here! Hide!"

Luis, lacking any grand escape route, ducked under the table, concealed by the red checkered tablecloth.

Julian had eyes only for Eve Russell. He crept up behind her table, careful to keep himself out of TC's line of vision. Taking a sip from his ever-present flask to garner courage, Julian began to make his way over to the object of his affection.

"Julian!" Sheridan snapped as he walked past her, "what are you doing here?"

Julian jumped at his sister's voice, "Sheridan?"

She merely raised an eyebrow.

"I'm…ah…" Julian sputtered, "I'm attending to some very important business. What are you doing here?"
"I'm on a date."
"With whom?"
"It's…ah…a blind date. Gwen set it up. Some friend of hers from the office."

Julian smirked, "Ah, I see."
"You see what?"
"I don't see your date around here. Where is he? I'd like to meet him."
"I think it's a little soon to be introducing him to the family," Sheridan said disdainfully, "Anyhow, I wouldn't want to keep you from your…business."
Julian scowled at her, sucking down more liquor, "Of course! The business!"

He stood, frozen, knowing that he couldn't make a move on Eve with his sister sitting right there.
"Damn," he said under his breath.

"What was that?" Sheridan asked sweetly.

"I…was wondering as to the whereabouts of your date."
"If you MUST know, he went to the bathroom to wash his hands."

"I was just by there," Julian protested, "I didn't see anyone."

Sheridan pouted, "You mean he ditched me?"

"Poor Sheridan. So unlucky in love," Julian did his best to sound sincere, internally laughing at the mental anguish he was certain to be unleashing on his sister.

Sheridan shot him a withering glare, "In that case…WAITRESS!"
The waitress hurried over, "Is something wrong?"

"I want this food wrapped up," Sheridan said coldly, "I'll be taking it home."

"Is everything all right?"
"I've been dumped by my date," she did her best to sound angry.

"No," the waitress was confused, "I saw him go und-"
"Just wrap the food, all right?" Sheridan snapped.
The waitress nodded and hurried off with the plates.

Julian attempted to inch away, "Well, I suppose I've done enough for the night-"

"Not so fast," Sheridan grumbled, "Since my date has hightailed it out of here, you're driving me home."

Julian glanced helplessly at Eve, who was happily oblivious, chatting with TC. "I…But the business…"
"The business can wait," she said crossly, handing him the bill, "Do you mind?"
"We're *paying* for this food?"
"Did you expect to get it for free?"

Julian sighed and handed his credit card to the impatient waitress.

"Thank you Mr. Crane," the waitress said, a slightly biting edge to her voice.

"Oooh," Julian said, admiring her as she walked away.

Sheridan pretended not to notice, fighting the urge to whack her brother in the head. But she feared that she'd done enough of that for the evening, and she doubted that inflicting yet another head injury would improve her shaky standing with Luis. Speaking of Luis…

Luis crouched under the table, cursing his luck. <<next time, I'll pick a place where Julian Crane isn't going to show up>> he thought to himself. He attempted to move, hitting his already sore head on the top of the table.

"What was that?" Julian asked Sheridan, watching the table shake.

"Nothing," she said quickly, moving to block his view of the table, "Um…one leg on the table was too short. It keeps tilting."
"Oh," Julian said, convinced.

The waitress returned with his credit card and receipt, which he grudgingly accepted.

"These prices are criminal," he grumbled, putting his card back in his wallet.

"Oh please," Sheridan scoffed, grabbing her pocketbook and the cartons containing her and Luis's dinner.

"Ah…" Julian said suddenly, "You haven't seen Deputy Do Right around here, have you?"
Sheridan froze, "You mean Luis?"

"Who else would I possibly be talking about?"
"No, I haven't seen him," she said carefully, keeping a smile plastered on her face.

"Are you sure?" Julian gulped down some more liquid from his seemingly bottomless flask. "I saw his patrol car outside."

"Ah…I guess he must be next door."

"You haven't spoken to him?"

Sheridan shook her head firmly, "Not since his last night as my bodyguard. I'm glad to be rid of him."
"Well," Julian nodded, "That's good to know. Those Lopez-Fitzgeralds have always been a bother."
Without answering, Sheridan rolled her eyes and headed out the door. Julian stumbled slightly, and finally followed her out, tossing one last, lovelorn gaze at Eve Russell.

Luis, still under the table, ran the exchange over and over in his mind, sighing in defeat. Julian Crane had interceded in their plans yet again. As soon as he was sure he had given Sheridan and Julian enough time to make their exit, Luis crawled on his hands and knees out from under the table, emerging from under the tablecloth.

"Ahhh!"

Luis had crawled right in front of TC Russell, who was on his way to the bathroom. TC stumbled over his friend, toppling forward. His head hit a nearby table.

"TC!" Luis exclaimed, jumping up, his knees cracking.

TC groaned, sitting up. Eve rushed over, horrified.

"TC!" she cried, "Are you all right?"
"I'm fine," TC waved them off, "Luis, what the hell were you doing under that table?"

Luis sighed, "Long story. I'm sure I'll tell you about it eventually."

TC nodded, and then narrowed his eyes, "Luis, what happened to your head? And your hair?!"
Luis just shook his head glumly.

Eve hovered over her husband, "TC, are you sure you're okay? You hit your head pretty hard against that table."
"Tell me about it," TC laughed, rubbing at his head, "I'm fine Eve. My bad leg hurts a bit, but other than that…I'm as good as new."
Eve laughed in relief.

"I'm really sorry about that TC," Luis stammered, backing away, "If you guys don't mind, I'm in a hurry-"

TC waved him away, "Go on. If it was important enough for you to be lurking beneath the tables at the Lobster Shack, it must be something good."

Luis nodded, and grabbing a rose out of a vase on a nearby table, he bolted out the door.

"I think," Eve commented once he was out of earshot, "That Luis is in love."

TC grinned, "I think you may be right."

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