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Return of the Prodigals
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Return of the Prodigals
by Twig

Crane Mansion

The phone rang sharply and Julian, already anticipating who was on the other line, answered in a bored tone, "Yes?"
"JULIAN!" Alistair boomed, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING OVER THERE?!"
Julian dropped his brandy glass, "Ah…keeping the Crane empire running smoothly."
"Nonsense, Julian. You're getting drunk. AGAIN."
Julian glared at the phone, "Father, I am doing no such thing-"
"Have you given any thought as to what is going on around you while you're sitting on your rump?!"
"What could possibly be happening HERE?"
Alistair made a disgusted noise, "Julian…go drop by your sister's cottage to say hello. You'll see what I'm talking about."
"But it's eleven-thirty at night! Father, she's probably sleeping!"
"I assure you that she isn't," Alistair said coldly.
Julian choked on his sip of liquor, "You don't mean-"
"That's exactly what I mean you IDIOT! Now go over there and put an end to it!"
"How?" Julian whined.
"I DON'T CARE HOW YOU IMBECILE! JUST DO IT!"
Julian heaved a heavy sigh and hung up the phone, heading outside to carry out his father's wishes.




Crane Cottage

Sheridan was snuggled on the couch, wrapped in Luis' warm embrace as the two of them pretended to watch a movie. Yet Sheridan was more entranced with the way the shadows cast by the flickering television played off of his features, and he was far more interested in the expression on her face.
"Luis-" she said softly.
"Sheridan-" he said at the same time.
She laughed, "Why do we always do that?"
"Do what?"
"Interrupt each other?"
He shrugged and pulled her closer, "I dunno."
"Well, what I was trying to say was-"
"HELLLLLLLP!!!"

Luis sat up, cocking his head to one side, "What was that?"
"Probably just the movie," Sheridan said absently, still held captive by his eyes.
"HELLLLLLLLP!"
"Someone outside is yelling for help," Luis said suddenly, standing up and grabbing his gun off of the coffee table.
Sheridan was suddenly afraid, "Do you think it's a trick?"
"I don't know," he said honestly, touching her face, "Just stay here. And stay down, all right?"
Sheridan nodded fearfully, sitting down on the couch. Luis, gun in hand, crept towards the front door, creaking it open and stepping outside into the dark night air. After a moment, Sheridan, naturally being stubborn, stood up and followed him, not intending to let him get killed protecting her without her doing SOMETHING.
"Luis?" she hissed as she stepped out into the shadows, scanning the property for him but not catching sight of his form.
"Sheridan! What are you doing out here?" Luis snapped from the darkness, suddenly appearing in front of her and grabbing her hand, "It's too dangerous!"
"I don't want you to get hurt trying to protect me," she whispered back.
"HELLLLLLLLLLLLLLP!" the voice was louder now.
Sheridan and Luis broke into a run, finally stumbling across-

A giant chicken.

"WHAT THE HELL?!" Luis and Sheridan both said simultaneously, as the man-sized chicken waddled around in circles around them, flapping its wings.
"BWAWK!" the chicken said loudly.
Sheridan and Luis exchanged glances, fighting hard not to keep laughing. For the identity of the man underneath all the feathers was obvious, given away by the glass of brandy clutched in one wing.
"Julian, what in the name of god are you DOING?" Sheridan finally demanded of him, causing the giant chicken to stop flapping its wings and waddling around. It looked at them though the glass eyes of the mask.
"Bwawk?"
Luis leaned over and pulled the mask off of Julian's head, leaving him standing there in his chicken suit.
"Julian…." Sheridan was shaking her head.
Julian sighed, "I, uh…well…I…"
"You know what?" Sheridan held her hand up, "I don't want to know. Really. Just…carry on with whatever it was that you were doing."
And with a muffled laugh she grabbed the stunned Luis' hand and pulled him back towards the cottage.
Julian sighed. His 'brilliant' plan had failed yet again.




"I don't believe this," Kay griped to Simone, as they trailed glumly after Grace and Sam, who had gleefully insisted that all present in the Bennett house join them for a romantic moonlit stroll.
"At least you've got Miguel to look at," Simone pointed out, "I haven't seen Chad in ages."
Kay made a face as she watched Miguel and Charity walk hand in hand down the street, looking like Sam and Grace in training. "A lot of good that does me if the psycho is clinging to him all night!"
Reese suddenly hurried up and grabbed Kay's hand, "Look at this Kay my sweet. A wonderful romantic stroll-"
Kay shrieked and leaped away as if she had been burned. Simone fought hard not to laugh.
"What's the matter Kay?" Reese questioned, not realizing that he was the cause of her distress.
Stephanie hurried up to intercede, "Reese, Kay is in the middle of a conversation. Why don't you come talk to Jessica?"
Jessica smiled at Reese, who shrugged, "Okay."
He headed over to talk to Jessica. Stephanie grinned.

Elizabeth scowled at Kay, watching as the other girl gazed unabashedly at Miguel. Suddenly, she narrowed her eyes as Kay bolted forward and shoved Charity, hard. Charity stumbled on the pavement and fell flat on her face, crying out in pain.
"Kay!" Everyone yelled.
"Kay, why did you do that?" Miguel asked accusingly as he bent over to help Charity up.
Kay was smiling, "There was a GIANT wasp on her back! It was going to sting her, so I pushed her out of the way!"
Miguel smiled, "That's the Kay I know, always thinking about other people!"
Charity was standing shakily, rubbing her arms, which were scratched up by the pavement, "Thanks Kay, I think."
"SAMMMMMMMM!" Grace wailed, and Sam hugged her.
"What is it Grace darling?"
"Listen," Grace gushed, "There's an echo!"
Sam shushed everyone around them.
"SAMMMMMMMMM!" Grace yodeled again, her voice resembling a siren. Sure enough, her cry echoed off of the houses, sounding like several Graces all yelling "Sam" at the same time.
"GRAAAAAAACE!" Sam tried, with the same effect.
"SAMMMMMMM!"
"GRAAAAAAACE!"
"SAMMMMMMM!"
"GRAAAAAAACE!"
"SAMMMMMMM!"

Neither of them noticed that all the teenagers had fled in terror.




Crane Mansion

Julian, still attired in his chicken suit, made his way glumly back into the mansion. Ivy was sitting on the couch, yelling at Ethan and William. When she saw him, her voice trailed off mid-tirade.
"Julian?" she asked, startled, "What on earth-"
Julian flapped his wings, sending loose feathers fluttering through the living room, "Don't even ask Ivy, don't even ask."
"Father is dressed as a chicken," Ethan stated matter-of-factly.
"Perhaps he is rebelling," William suggested.
"Julian," Ivy attempted again, "WHY ARE YOU DRESSED AS A CHICKEN?!"
Julian sighed and tossed the chicken mask across the room, where it landed on the floor, beak pointing up towards the ceiling and flapping his wings in frustration, "I told you not to ask!"
Ivy narrowed her eyes.
Julian sighed, "Oh all right. If you MUST know, I was trying to…ah…peck away at Sheridan and Luis' relationship."
Ivy rolled her eyes, "Julian, don't you think you've done ENOUGH horrible things to them in this lifetime?"
"I don't see how dressing up as a chicken is all that horrible-"
"And I don't see how you could have imagined that doing THAT would break them up!" Ivy exclaimed, "I really don't see the logic!"
Julian sighed again and poured himself another brandy, "Well, I'm off to my library. Continue trying to un-rebel-ize William, will you?"

Ivy crossed her arms, "What if I won't?"
William and Ethan stared at her in surprise.
"Bwawk?" Julian said, then coughed, embarrassed, "I mean…excuse me?"
"What if I told you that I LIKE the way that William turned out," Ivy said loudly, smiling at her son, who reached up and adjusted his backwards baseball cap on his head.
"I would…" Julian was talking through clenched teeth, "I would…remind you…of the consequences that would befall you should Father find out that we have a rebel for a son."
Ivy smirked at him, "and what if I don't care?"
"Mother!" Ethan said angrily, "I follow your expressed wishes for years and THIS is how you repay me? By allowing a self-proclaimed rebel to waltz in here and take my place!"
Ivy was flustered, "Ethan…no one can ever REPLACE you in my heart. Believe me, you are very…um…special. But you can't prevent me from trying to bond with my other children!"
Julian flapped his wings anxiously, "I've heard enough! Ivy…UN-REBEL-IZE that boy!"
The shrill ringing of the phone cut him off.
"Oh good god," he groaned, waddling, chicken-like, towards the study.




Julian's Study

Julian grabbed the phone awkwardly in one wing, "Bwa-uh-hello?"
"Julian, why in the name of god are you dressed up as a chicken?"
He narrowed his eyes, "Father, I was simply following your orders!"
"Dressing up as a chicken is NOT going to tear Luis and Sheridan apart!"
"I was pecking away at their relationship!"
Alistair heaved a heavy sigh, "Julian, how in the HELL do you get dressing up as a chicken from 'pecking away' at their relationship?!"
Julian pouted, "But Father-"
"Julian, I don't even want to hear it. You have failed yet again. It's time for drastic measures."
"Father, killing Luis is not the answer-"
"We're not going to kill Luis."
Julian let out a relieved breath of air, "Ah…that's good."
"We're going to kill Sheridan."
Julian spit out his brandy.




Seascape Restaurant

Amanda dug into her lobster eagerly, listening intently as Noah laid out the plans for uncovering the truth about their parents.
"…So you get your family out of the house," Noah was saying, "then you can have the freedom to poke around. You're bound to uncover something."
Amanda nodded, "Same goes for you. You might be able to interrogate your father, he might crack under pressure. But if worse comes to worse, it shouldn't be too hard to get them out of the house."
Noah shook his head, "My parents are hardly ever home! If they're not going off on vacation, they're eating out…my sisters are horribly neglected."
Amanda laughed, "It could be worse. They could be home all the time. From what you've told me, Grace and Sam Bennett can be nauseating."
Noah laughed, "You can't really grasp it until you see it."
"I'm not sure I'd WANT to see it," Amanda shuddered, "You're not anything like that, are you?"
He smirked, "Does it SEEM like I'm anything like that?"

Amanda shrugged and took a sip of water, "You never can tell."
"I assure you, I am not going to go crazy and start yelling your name as if I were an alarm system."
"Thank god for small favors."
"Are YOU anything like that?"
Amanda snorted, "HA! That's the funniest thing you've said all night. If I were anything at all like that, instead of walking up to you and eating your breakfast right out from under you, I would have wrapped myself around your neck like a scarf and started talking in a tone of voice that puts most felines to shame."
Noah shuddered, "And I would have run screaming for the hills."
"Good thing I didn't do that then."
"Good thing."
"It would have been funny, though."
Noah cringed, "Funny to whom?"
"Funny to me. But I'm glad I didn’t, because I have really enjoyed spending time with you."
Noah smiled, "I've enjoyed it too, Amanda. I really have."
"And look at this," she pointed to the map of the Crane mansion she had drawn on a napkin, "We're about to embark on our first adventure together."
"I knew there was a reason to live."
Amanda and Noah exchanged smiles.




Crane Cottage

Luis held the door open for Sheridan as they headed back indoors.
"I still can't figure out, for the life of me, why Julian was dressed up as a chicken," Sheridan was shaking her head in amazement.
"I'm sure he was up to no good," Luis scowled, glancing nervously out the window.
"Well, good or no good, it was an amusing sight."
"I'll give you that one," Luis conceded, smiling. He would not be forgetting the image of Julian the giant chicken for quite some time.
Sheridan shivered, although the air in the cottage was warm, "I can't shake this feeling, though, that our problems didn't stop with finding out what Julian did with that mask."
"What do you mean?" Luis questioned.
"I'm worried that my brother isn't going to just stop trying to split us up."
Luis wrapped his arms around her, "I won't let that happen."
She smiled weakly at him, "I'm just being paranoid."
He sighed, "No, I don't think you are. But we have nothing to worry about."
Sheridan nodded her head, "You're right."

Luis gestured towards the couch, "You wanna finish watching that movie."
Sheridan smirked at him, "Nope. Do you?"
"Nope."
Sheridan leaned over and kissed him, banishing all of her fears to the farthest corner of her mind.




Bennett Residence

The door squeaked open a crack, and Jessica, Kay, Simone, Miguel, Charity, Reese, Elizabeth, and Stephanie all peered in nervously. The kitchen was dark, however, and Grace and Sam were nowhere in sight.
"Thank god," Kay muttered, as she pushed her way into the house, dragging Simone behind her. She flicked on the lamp, bathing Grace's ridiculously cheery kitchen in light. She glanced nervously into the oven.
"Is anything baking?" Miguel asked.
Kay shook her head in relief, "No, thank god. Mom hasn't gotten any more ideas."
Jessica shuddered.
Stephanie shoved Reese towards Jessica, "Look! She's afraid and needs comforting!"
Reese, however, assumed that Stephanie meant Kay, and headed over towards his "girlfriend" and put his arm around her.
"There, there Kay," he said in a reassuring voice, "It's all right."
Kay squealed and jumped away, knocking Simone into the refrigerator.
"OW!" Simone yowled, flailing around, trying to keep her balance. Her arm knocked into the teapot, and sent it crashing down onto Charity's foot. Charity shrieked and ran to Miguel, tripping over Stephanie in the process. Stephanie and Charity went down in a heap, and as they hit the ground, Miguel attempted to break Charity's fall by leaping across the room in an effort to get to her side. His actions caused him to bump into Elizabeth, sending her crashing into the counter, where there just happened to be an open bag of flour, which exploded on impact, dousing the teens and the rest of the kitchen with white powder.

"Oh. My. God." Kay, who had received the brunt of the flour attack, was standing stiffly, her entire person chalk white. As she spoke, little puffs of powder drifted through the air.
Reese removed his glasses and rubbed his eyes, which were the only part on him that weren't covered in white dust.
"What's going on down here?" Grace Bennett, wearing only a bathrobe, was standing at the entrance to the kitchen, looking down rather blearily at the mess in front of her.
Sam appeared behind her, also wearing a bathrobe, which had been hastily tied, "What happened kids?"
Stephanie's eyes widened at the sight of them. This was just too much for her to handle. She, having Ivy's genes, fainted.

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