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Return of the Prodigals
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Return of the Prodigals
by Twig

Bennett House

Miguel strolled in the front door, followed by his girlfriend Charity, as well as Kay Bennett and Simone Russell.
"Hi Miguel," Grace said warmly, "I figured you'd be here for breakfast, so I made extra acorn and mango pancakes, just for you!"
Miguel smiled at her, "Thanks Mrs. Bennett."
Charity wrapped her arms around Miguel's waist, "Oh Miguel…" she said, a dreamy look on her face.
Kay fought hard not to gag, "Oh please. When will he get sick of her clinging to him?!"
Simone shook her head, "Not any time soon it appears."
"That's it," Kay stamped her foot, "No more playing nice."
"You've been playing nice?"
Kay narrowed her eyes, "I'm gonna get Miguel if it's the last thing I do."
"And how do you intend to do that?"
Kay smirked, an evil glint coming to her eyes, "I'm sending her to the mental institution."
Simone raised her eyebrows, "Oh really?"
"Yes. Once Miguel sees how crazy my cousin really is, he'll have no choice but to come running to me."
"And you believe that *this* plan will work because…?"
"Because it has to! Come on, help me drive Charity insane!"
Kay grabbed Simone's arm and dragged her up the stairs.

She turned the corner to run to her room, and crashed right into a tall figure.
"Kay?"
"NOAH?!"
Noah blinked, looking from both Kay to Simone, both of who appeared rather nervous.
"Uh…"
"MOM!" Kay suddenly screamed, "WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL ME THAT NOAH WAS HOME?!'
Grace's voice drifted up the stairs, "Oh, that's right! I forgot! Noah's home!"
Noah sighed, "Forgotten again."
"Dammit Noah, does this mean I have to give up my room?"
"Fraid so," Noah smirked, "You'll be sleeping in Jessica's room for a while."
"But Charity's in there!"
Noah blinked, "Who the hell is Charity?"
"Oh, of course, Mom probably forgot to tell you about her too. Charity is our cousin. Mom's twin sister was killed in a fire. Charity is living with us."
"Mom has a twin sister?" Noah looked shocked.
"She *had* a twin sister," Kay corrected, "She croaked."
"KAY!" Simone exclaimed, horrified, "That's a terrible thing to say!"
Kay shrugged, "So what? It's true…"
Noah shook his head, "Well, I for one, am heading out for some breakfast. I have no intention of suffering through acorn and mango pancakes. Missing Mom's cooking adventures has been the best part of being away at school."
He hurried down the stairs.
"Well," Kay said with a sigh, "There's no way I'm sharing a room with that psycho. She might try to smother me in my sleep! I guess I'll be staying at your house."
"Great," Simone muttered.
"And we are going to get Miguel away from Charity once and for all."




Book Café

Noah shook his head as he plopped down in a booth at the Book Café. Not only had his parents forgotten about him, but his sister Kay hadn't even been happy to see him. All she'd cared about was her damn room.
"Why do I have such a screwed up family?" he groaned. He wondered where Jessica was. She had always been pleasant.
A waitress hurried over to the table and introduced herself as Beth, while practically fawning over him. Noah yawned and ordered a blueberry muffin and some coffee, which she scampered off to get.
The door to the Book Café opened, and in walked the most beautiful sight he had ever seen in his life. She was tall, and blond, and she was heading straight towards him…

Amanda walked right past the rather cute young man who was staring at her, and straight up to the counter.
"Blueberry muffin please," she told Beth.
"Sorry, he got the last one," Beth replied in a bored tone.
Amanda narrowed her eyes, "Oh really." She turned her gaze to the young man, who had a handsome face and rather familiar-looking blue eyes. He was hunched over his coffee now, the muffin sitting on the edge of the table.
Amanda grinned wickedly and crept up behind him.
"Excuse me," she said loudly, as she reached over and snatched the muffin. "Thanks for the muffin."
"Hey!" Noah said loudly, annoyed, watching as she crammed half the muffin in her mouth.
"Sorry," Amanda said, her voice muffled, "I was hungry."
"And you couldn't buy your own muffin?"
"They were out of blueberry."
"So you should have gotten something else."
"I'm used to getting what I want," Amanda sniffed, inhaling the rest of the muffin.
"And why is that?"
"Because," Amanda smirked, "My last name is Crane. Ask and you shall receive."
"Well you didn't ask."
"And I STILL got the muffin."

Noah shrugged, "Well, since you've managed to ruin my breakfast, I think I'll be going."
"Going? Going where?"
"Anywhere."
"It's a small town. There's not much to do here besides eat."
"Then I'll go down to the wharf."
"I'll go with you."
Noah narrowed his eyes, "You don't take a hint, do you?"
"I took the hint when I saw you staring at me before. I'm just making it easy for you."
"You call this easy?"
"Is this how you treat all your dates?"
Noah sighed, "This is a date?"
"Would you prefer to call it a social gathering?"
"Do you always talk this much?"
"Do you always ask so many questions?" Amanda grinned at him as she wiped the crumbs from her lips with a napkin.
Noah stood up, shaking his head in amazement, "Then I guess we're going to the wharf."
"Guess so."
They exchanged tentative smiles and headed out of the Book Café.




As Noah and Amanda walked out the door and down the street, Kay Bennett dragged Simone into the Book Café.
"Wasn't that your brother?" Simone asked curiously as Kay tugged her over to a booth.
"Yeah, so what? I have more important things to worry about right now."
"Like how to drive Charity insane. You've told me all I wanted to know."
"What better way is there to get her away from Miguel?"
"What makes you think that if you get rid of Charity, Miguel is going to want to date you?" Simone argued.
"Because he'll see how much I truly love him!"
The door swung open and in walked two unfamiliar blonde girls, one about seventeen and the other about fourteen.
"Who are they?" Kay grumbled.
"I've never seen them before," Simone shrugged.

Elizabeth spotted two girls about her age, and decided that her younger sister was old enough to fend for herself. Leaving Stephanie sitting at the counter, she hurried over to their table, a big smile plastered on her pretty face.
"Hi," she grinned down at Kay and Simone, both of who looked up at her as if she'd suddenly sprouted another head.
"Hi," Simone smiled up at her. Kay glared across the table at her friend, and then leveled her best mean look at the new girl.
"We're kind of busy right now, so…" she waved her hand in the air.
"I don't mean to be rude," Elizabeth wasn't smiling now. She matched her glare to Kay's, "I was just trying to be friendly."
"We don't need any more friends."
"Fine," Elizabeth turned on her heel, then turned back, smiling coldly, "What was your name again?"
"What do you care?"
Simone poked Kay, "Stop being so mean!"
"Why?" Kay asked her friend, "so some unusually cheerful blond idiot can come along and steal Miguel away?"
Simone smiled apologetically at Elizabeth, "I'm sorry. My friend is confused."
"So I see," Elizabeth was still scowling, "Well, I'll just let my *father* know how rude the local people are around here. I'm sure he'd be very interested to find out your name and exactly how you've been treating me."
"Why the hell would I care what your father thinks about me? MY father is the Chief of Police," Kay said smugly.
"MY father is Julian Crane."
Kay dropped her mug of coffee, which splattered all over the table, drenching Simone, who leapt up with a squawk.

Elizabeth kept her ice blue eyes locked on Kay's face. "Well well well. Seems you know of my family after all."
"You're lying."
"Why would I lie to you? I don’t even know you!"
"There are no more Cranes!" Kay protested, "Just Ethan!"
"No more Cranes living at home, you mean. We were all away at boarding school. But we're back now."
"I…" Kay looked positively horrified, and her expression threw Elizabeth for just a moment. Why were people so unsettled by her family?
"Let's start over," Elizabeth said with a smirk, "My name's Elizabeth Crane. And you would be…?"
"Kay Bennett," Kay said in a low voice.
"Simone Russell," Simone said after her, still smiling weakly at Elizabeth.
"Now that wasn't so hard, was it?"
Kay was silent, staring straight ahead with an annoyed expression.
Elizabeth beamed at them and sat down at the table, causing Kay to scoot over in the booth. Kay let out a disgusted noise, but did not speak.
"You know what?" Elizabeth said in a faux cheery voice, with a big grin plastered to her face, "I think this is the start of a beautiful friendship."




Crane Mansion

Ivy stepped inside the front door, closing it softly behind her and letting out a huge sigh. Why was it that all of her plans to woo Sam always backfired?
"Oh Sam…" she whispered to herself longingly, fingering the locket she always kept around her neck.
That was when she spotted the bags lying on the floor in a heap. With a perturbed expression, she crossed the foyer and bent down next to them, studying the luggage with the Crane logo embroidered on them.
"Oh it can't be," she whispered, not sure quite what to make of it. She glanced at the nametag just to be sure.
"Amanda's home…" Ivy stood up, glancing around at the curiously silent house. Amazing…she would have thought that Amanda would be raising hell by now. Unless she already had…
The door opened, and Ivy whirled around, half expecting to see her oldest daughter standing behind her. What she saw instead was her precious son Ethan, helping his fiancée in as she hobbled pitifully on crutches.
"Gwen!" Ivy exclaimed, shocked, "What happened?"
"I tripped over some bags," Gwen explained, glancing down at her cast in dismay. "I broke my ankle."
"It was Amanda's fault," Ethan sighed, leaving out the part of how he had moved the bags.

Gwen shook her head sadly, "We're going to have to postpone the wedding again until I can walk without crutches."
Ivy shook her head, realizing that the trouble had only just begun.




Crane Cottage

Sheridan could see by studying Luis' face that William was starting to wear on his patience. Amanda he had tolerated, and he had been amused by Elizabeth and Stephanie, but William's attitude was starting to grate on his nerves. Amazing how her nephew couldn't see how he'd overstayed his welcome. Indeed he presented an unusual picture, his khaki pants and button down oxford shirt, his neat haircut, and the tattered baseball cap placed defiantly backwards on his head.
"I don't see why you don't just hire more Crane security," William droned on in a snobbish, well-practiced voice, "instead of spending day in and day out with a single bodyguard."
"As I've explained to you BEFORE," Luis said with gritted teeth, "The FBI assigned me to protect your aunt. That is why I am here."
"But still-"
"William!" Sheridan interrupted, "Aren't you hungry? I know the eggs didn't exactly work out for the best…why don't you head down to the Book Café and get something to eat?"
"I'm not particularly hungry," William pronounced every syllable of every word quite carefully.
"You must be hungry," Sheridan persisted, "That long plane ride and everything…really. Go get yourself some breakfast."
Apparently as thick-headed as his brother, William did not take the hint, "I said I was fine Aunt Sheridan. Thank you for you concern. But I believe that staying here and arguing my case with Officer Lopez-Fitzgerald is much more important than that."
"That's really not necessary William, I'm perfectly fine, as you can see."
"But for how long? I'm sorry, but I think that more protection is in order-"
"AREN'T YOU SUPPOSED TO BE THE REBEL IN THE FAMILY?!" Sheridan suddenly exploded, pointing to the backwards baseball cap.

Both Luis and William jumped, startled.
"I am a rebel," William declared, puffing up his chest proudly.
"So stop acting like the rest of the family!"
William nodded slowly, standing up, still looking like the distinguished socialite he was, except, of course, for the baseball cap.
"I think I'll go up to the main house and antagonize Father," he said with an evil grin, grabbing his skateboard off the porch, "Goodbye Aunt Sheridan, Officer."
Luis barely managed a polite smile as the youngest Crane male skateboarded away from the cottage, looking positively ridiculous in his outfit.
"See?" Sheridan said hopefully, "They're not so bad."
Luis shook his head, "Please. Just PLEASE tell me that there aren't any more."
"Nope. You've met the entire Crane brood."
"Thank god."
"Now are you gonna help me clean up this mess in the kitchen?"
Luis sighed, "Only because I think that if you tried to turn on the sink by yourself you'd break something."
"I should be offended by that," Sheridan scowled, but she was amused nonetheless.
"The truth hurts," Luis shrugged innocently and they made their way into the kitchen.




Amanda and Noah wandered aimlessly down the wharf, eating ice cream cones.
"My treat," Amanda had insisted, "Since I ate your breakfast."
"I'm touched," Noah responded with a laugh.
"You still haven't told me your name," Amanda said lightly, "What kind of date is this where the girl doesn't even know who she's out with?"
"My name's Noah Bennett."
"Noah? Like the guy with the ark and the animals?"
Noah shrugged, "I didn't name myself you know."
"Amanda Crane," she said with a big grin, sticking her hand out.
"Great to know," he said with a sigh, shaking her hand.
"You know," she pouted, "I've got a few questions for you."
"I've got one question for you first."
Amanda smiled, "Go ahead."
"Were you born evil, or is that something you learned?"
She stepped back as if slapped, "Excuse me?'
"Seriously," he was still staring at her, "I've never met anyone who acts like you. What's your secret?"
"I have no secrets," she laughed, "That's my secret."
"I see."
"But," she continued, "I wouldn't call that *evil.* I just don't follow the same set of rules as everyone else."
"You've made that fairly obvious."
"It never hurts to have some originality in your life. Breaks up the mundane occurrences."
"I'll bet your life is anything BUT mundane."

Amanda shook her head, "You'd be surprised how ordinary it is. Once you take away the illusions of wealth and power, I have a rather dull and dreary existence. That's why I try so hard to spice it up."
"No life could possibly be as dull as mine, I don't care what you say," Noah argued, "you try living with the Bennett family."
"I can turn anything into an adventure. Take, for example, breakfast. What's a typical breakfast at your house?"
Noah grimaced, "Today I believe the menu read acorn and mango pancakes."
Amanda wrinkled up her nose, "You don't even have to try on that one. Just swallowing that monstrosity is an adventure in itself!"
"If that's what it takes to be exciting, I'd rather stay boring."
Amanda sighed, "You're right. I don't think even I'd go that far."
"Something in common at last."
"Think it's time to let the future in-laws meet?"
Noah spit out his ice cream, "Excuse me?"
"We seem to be getting along pretty well. We might as well get married."
"Don't you think you're rushing things a bit?"
"There's no such thing as rushing love. If it's true…it's true."
"Love?"
"There you go again with the questions! Just let fate take over."
"Fate?"
"You, my friend, need to stop taking things so seriously," Amanda giggled, "I'm just joking. For now."
Noah's laughter joined hers.
"Care to raise some hell around Harmony?" Amanda asked him, a devilish look in her eyes.
"What exactly are you proposing?" Noah inquired.
"Well…" Amanda raised one eyebrow.
"I'm waiting."

Amanda smirked at him, "I have had a wonderful time today Noah Bennett."
Noah nodded, "It's been an unusual experience."
"I would LOVE to go out with you again sometime! How sweet of you to have asked!"
"But-"
"Tonight at seven? How great. I'll meet you at…uh…" she scanned the area, "Ah, The Lobster Shack!"
"I-"
"See you tonight!" Amanda grabbed his hand and kissed it with a flourish, before turning around and sprinting down the pier, laughing hysterically.
Noah just shook his head and smiled.




Crane Mansion

William opened the door and peeked inside, taking notice of all the neatly placed, expensive things. He laughed evilly to himself as he placed his skateboard down on the clean white rug.
"I am a rebel," he said out loud, glancing at his appearance in the mirror. Finding his sole deviation from the standard rich-kid uniform suiting, he grabbed the skateboard and sprinted up the stairs.
"Father!" he yelled, knocking on the walls.
Julian poked his head out of his study and peered up the stairs, wondering what all the racket was. He gulped down another glass of brandy and took a few steps towards the staircase.
"Father!" William shouted again.
Julian locked eyes with his son, "William? What are you doing home."
William brayed with laughter and took off, running towards the head of the stairs. And then he was off, skateboarding straight down the railing.
"WILLIAM!" Julian yelled, horrified.
William landed neatly at the foot of the stairs, leaving black tire marks in his wake.
"WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING?!" Julian was shrieking at the top of his lungs, his voice hoarse.
"I am a rebel," William informed him, with an insane little laugh.
Julian shook his head and guzzled some more brandy.

Ivy strolled in, "Julian, Ethan's wedding has to be postponed again-OH MY GOD! What happened in here?!"
She stood gaping at the chaos William had managed to unleash.
Julian was fighting a losing battle for control over his emotions, "Your son just SKATEBOARDED down the RAILING."
Ivy bit her lip, "Um…William…what would make you do something like that?"
"I am a rebel."
"This is all your fault!" Julian snapped.
"How is this MY fault Julian?" Ivy's voice was full of loathing.
"You haven't spent enough time with your son!"
"He's your son too!"
"This is a mother's duty!" Julian screamed, "You've been doting on Ethan and you've neglected William!"
"I never saw YOU going out of your way to spend quality time with him!"
"The Crane empire is my concern! YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO BE GROOMING THE CHILDREN FOR THEIR FUTURE!"
"AND YOU-"
William stepped between them, looking baffled, "You guys don't need to fight over me. I am a rebel!"
Julian drew himself up to his full height, "IVY! You will correct this problem!"
"And how do you propose I do that, JULIAN?"
"You will spend more time with William! You must un-rebel-ize him before the wedding, or Father will have both of our heads!"
"Un-rebel-ize him? How on earth-"

William was shaking his head, "You can't un-rebel-ize me! I am a rebel! The black sheep of the family!"
"SPEND QUALITY TIME WITH THE BOY!"
"WHY CAN'T YOU DO IT?! I'M PLANNING THE WEDDING!"
"ETHAN CAN HANDLE THE WEDDING BY HIMSELF!" Julian was screaming.
"FINE!" Ivy spat, whirling to face her misguided son, "William, I am going to spend more time with you."
"You don’t have to do that-"
"YES I DO! Now," Ivy took a deep breath, "What would you like to do?"
William smirked, "Mother, I am going to teach you how to skateboard."
Julian snickered at the terrified look on his wife's face.




Amanda opened the door and poked her head in, just in time to catch the argument between her parents.
"Great," she muttered, before taking a deep breath and prancing inside, "Hello everyone! The favorite child is home!"
Julian paled, "What are you doing here?"
"Hello to you too," Amanda grumbled, turning to her mother, "Mother, I'd like to think that the reason you neglected to have me picked up at the airport was because you were so overcome with emotion at the thought of my impending return…"
Ivy ignored her, instead focusing her attention on William, "SKATEBOARD?! I can't possibly-"
William put on a puppy-dog face, "But Mother, you promised me that you'd spend some quality time with me. I feel so neglected!"
Ivy softened slightly, "Oh, all right. If it means that much to you. I'll take you skateboarding tomorrow afternoon."
Amanda made a loud gagging noise and pranced up the stairs. Her departure was not noticed by any of her family members.

She skipped down the hall, pausing outside one closed door. She rapped loudly on the wood, "Oh brother dear!"
Ethan opened the door and glared out at her, "Haven't you tortured me enough for one day?"
Amanda pushed past him and marched into his room. Gwen was sitting on the bed, her leg stretched out in front of her, wincing in pain.
"Feeling all right Gwen?"
Gwen shrugged, "I'm more disappointed than hurt. I wanted to marry Ethan sooner!"
"God knows why."
"What was that?"
"Nothing!" Amanda smiled cheerily, "Well, my darling brother, why don't we let Gwen rest for a while? An injury like that needs time to heal."
"But-"
"COME ON!" Amanda snapped, dragging him out of the room, leaving a startled Gwen behind.
"Wait guys!" Gwen whined, "How am I going to get up again? Guys? GUYS!"
Amanda and Ethan had already run down the back stairs and were heading out of the house.

As soon as they were outside, Ethan yanked his arm away and glared at his sister, "All right, what are you up to?"
"What makes you think I'm up to anything?" Amanda said sweetly, "I could just be looking forward to spending some quality time with my favorite brother."
"You hate me."
"And you hate me, so I guess we're even."
Ethan glanced down at his feet before looking up again, "So what do you want?"
"I want the scoop on the guy living with Aunt Sheridan. And I mean ALL the details…"

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