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Return of the Prodigals
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Return of the Prodigals
by Twig

Crane Cottage

"SHERIDAN!" Luis cried, leaping up and running over to her.
She was slumped, unmoving, over the table.
He crouched down next to her, panic making his head spin as he slowly lifted her up. Still she did not move.
"Sheridan," his voice was strangled, "Sheridan please say something!"
Suddenly she opened her eyes and stared straight back at him, her lips turning upward in a slight smile.
Startled he stepped backwards a bit.
"Gotcha," she whispered.
Luis pulled Sheridan to him and enveloped her in a crushing hug, "Oh, god, Sheridan don't do that to me!"
She kissed him softly, "I'm sorry. Just all those cracks you were making about how wonderful those pancakes were…I just couldn't resist."
He let out a shaky breath, "You scared the hell out of me."
"I'm sorry," she said again, running her hands through his hair.

Luis stood up with a nervous laugh, "I…"
"You're shaking," she said softly, standing up and hugging him close, "I'm sorry. I really didn't mean to scare you like that."
"I just don't know what I would do if I lost you," he whispered.
She responded by hugging him tighter, touched by his words, "Luis, I'm not going anywhere. I promise."




Harmony Hospital

Eve glanced at the chart she held in her hands as she headed in to an examining room to check on a patient that had just been admitted to the hospital.
"Are you…Rulian Blane?" she asked, reading the name off of the chart and glancing up.
Julian was perched on the examining table, dark sunglasses over his eyes, and a scarf wrapped around his lower face. A huge hat concealed the top of his head, and he was attired all in black.
Eve crossed her arms, "Julian, what do you want?"
Julian coughed, his voice muffled by the scarf, "I'm Rulian Blane. Can't you read?"
"Julian, I don't have time for this. What do you want?"
Julian sighed and removed the glasses and the scarf, "Eve, I need you to do something for me."
"Forget it."
"But I didn't even ask you yet!"
"You don't have to," Eve shook her head, "I want no part of it. Now get out of here."
"How do you think your…charming…husband would react if he knew about our past?" Julian said with a raised eyebrow.
Eve growled in annoyance, "PLEASE tell me you aren't going to start with this blackmailing crap too."
"You'd better believe it. Now I want you to listen VERY carefully to what I have to say. This is a matter of life and death."
Eve heaved a heavy sigh, "I'm listening Julian. But make this quick."




Crane Cottage

"Well Luis," Sheridan said as she emerged from her bedroom in a fresh outfit, "I know you want to get home for a while and see your family."
Luis shrugged, "They probably forgot what I look like."
She leaned up and kissed his nose, "I really doubt that."
"I guess I'll head home for a while then," he said reluctantly, heading towards the door.
"I’m going to go out for a while, do some shopping," she said brightly.
Luis laughed, "Guess you're looking forward to getting out."
"Like you wouldn't believe."
"Why don't you stop by my house on your way home? I'll make dinner."
Sheridan smirked, "Haven't you had enough of cooking?"
He shrugged, "I'm going to end up cooking for my family anyhow…it would only make it a much more pleasant experience if you were there too."
She smiled at him, "I'll be there."

Then she headed towards the door, "But I really am looking forward to getting out for a while."
"Then go," he laughed, "Go enjoy yourself. I'll see you later."
"Okay," she paused and then walked back over to him, kissing him softly, "Bye."
"Bye."
Tossing one last smile over her shoulder, Sheridan turned and headed out the door.

If Luis had watched out the window, he would have noticed Julian striding across the lawn towards her, his face a mask of grim intent.




"Sheridan!" Julian called as soon as he was within a few paces of her.
She rolled her eyes, "Julian, what do you want?"
"I need to speak with you about something. This is urgent."
"I've got nothing to say to you," she said coldly, "If you'll excuse me-"
Julian grabbed her arm, "You'll listen to every damn word I have to say! Now come with me."
He all but dragged her across the lawn.




Crane Mansion

William studied his reflection in the mirror, adjusting his baseball cap so that it was in the perfect position on his head. Amanda pushed her way into his room.
"Brother dear," she said brightly.
"What are you up to?" he asked suspiciously, recognizing the expression on her face.
"Me?" she replied innocently.
"Yes you," William sighed, "What other evil girls do you see around here?"
"Well, you've figured me out," Amanda gave a dramatic sigh, "Our other charming brother seems to have gotten himself into quite the predicament."
"And you want to help him out? That's not like you."
"Who said anything about helping?" Amanda laughed, "I want to make sure his torture is prolonged!"
"Well, count me in," William shrugged, "Any enemy of Ethan's is a friend of mine."
"Here's the story…" Amanda leaned in with an evil grin.




Lopez-Fitzgerald Residence

Much later in the day, Luis stood in the kitchen of his family's home, expertly grilling up steaks. His choice of entrée reminded him of the time at Sheridan's cottage when they had gotten into the minor disagreement over food and he had cooked a steak while she attempted to make scrambled eggs. The memory made him smile and he whistled as he flipped one of the steaks over on the grill, reaching above him into the cabinet to pick up a stack of plates.

The phone rang as he was placing the plates on the table, and Luis picked it up, tucking the reciever under his ear as he picked up one plate and proceeded to fill it up with food.
"Hello?" he said.
"Luis?" the caller was Eve Russell.
"Hey Eve," he said brightly as he finished with one plate and moved on to the next.
"Luis, I'm afraid I've got some bad news," her voice sounded pained.
"Eve, what's wrong?" Luis stopped his movements and stood in the middle of the kitchen, still holding onto one plate.
"It's…It's Sheridan, Luis."
"Did something happen?" he asked worriedly, "Is she all right?"
"No," Eve said in a strangled tone, "No, she's not Luis. There was a bad car accident…I'm so sorry, but she didn't make it."
Luis felt his heart constrict for a moment before he paused, a smile lighting up his face, "Eve, how much did she pay you to pull this stunt? She seems to have this morbid fascination with making me believe that she's dead," he laughed.
"Luis-"
He cut her off, "Come on Eve, you can tell me. How'd she convince you to make this call? She always has to one-up me…"
"Luis!" Eve yelled, her voice cracking.
"What?"
"Luis, I'm not kidding," she sounded as though she were about to break down crying, "Sheridan's dead."
All the color drained from Luis' face as he stood very still in the middle of the kitchen. The only sound was the shattering of glass as the plate slipped from his hand and crashed to the ground.




Lopez-Fitzgerald Residence

The blood pounded in Luis' ears as he stood there, clutching the phone. He made no move to retrieve the shards of broken glass from the floor.
"Eve…" he whispered into the phone, "Please…please tell me you're joking."
"I'm so sorry Luis," she replied softly, "I wish this wasn't true-"
Feeling suddenly like he was drowning, Luis dropped the phone, Eve's worried exclamations muffled by the roaring in his ears. The room seemed to spin around him as he slowly crumpled to the floor, holding his head in his hands.
"Sheridan…" he whispered brokenly.

He didn't hear the front door open as he sobbed. He didn't see his sister Theresa and her friend Whitney come in and look at the scene in the kitchen with mutual expressions of horror.
"Luis," Theresa whispered, crouching down next to him, "Luis what happened?"
"Hello? Hello?" Eve was still yelling through the telephone receiver, which Whitney picked up.
"Mom?" Whitney asked, startled.
"Whitney!" Eve exclaimed, her voice muffled, "Whitney, what's going on over there?"
Whitney glanced down at where her best friend was attempting to comfort her non-responsive brother.
"Luis is having some sort of breakdown. Mom, what happened?"
Eve's voice was choked with emotion, "There was a car accident, Whitney. Sheridan Crane is dead."
Whitney's jaw dropped, "Oh my god." She looked down at Luis, who was still curled up on the floor, his face twisted in agony.
"What happened?" Theresa mouthed, catching her friend's eye.
"Sheridan is dead," Whitney whispered back, stunned.
Theresa's face fell and her eyes filled with tears. She shook her head, "No! No, she can't be!"
"Mom, I have to go," Whitney said, hanging up the phone. Then she crouched down on the floor next to Theresa and Luis.
Theresa wiped at her eyes and looked at her brother, who still didn't seem to have noticed the arrival of either of them, "How…how did it happen?" she managed to choke out.
"A car accident," Whitney's voice cracked.

Luis finally looked up, a tortured expression on his face. Theresa leaned over and hugged him tightly, and they sat like that for some time, just holding each other and crying.




Crane Mansion

"Yes Father," Julian said dully into the phone, "I did what you asked."
"Do you mean to tell me that for the first time in your life, you've actually carried out an order I've given to you? I'm quite impressed, Julian."
Julian closed his eyes and tossed back an entire glass of brandy, "Father, I still don't see why we had to kill her."
"This is why you've been disinherited Julian. Failure to assess the measures necessary to control a potentially explosive situation."
"But she was my sister!"
"And you never liked her much, anyway," Alistair responded coldly, "Now stop whining and go break the news to the rest of the family."
Julian gulped down another glass of brandy, wishing for the first time in his life that alcohol had more of an effect on him than it did. He wouldn't mind drinking himself into a stupor at the present moment.
"I am a horrible person," he said out loud, rubbing his forehead.
"Julian, you are a Crane. Please don't attempt to grow a conscience," Alistair snapped, hanging up the phone.

Julian stood up somewhat unsteadily and made his way out of the library, pausing to refill his glass.
"Ivy?" he called softly, "Ivy can you come here?"
Ivy glanced up from the book she was reading, "Julian, I'm busy. Go away."
"Ivy-" his voice wavered slightly and she glanced up again.
"Julian, what on earth-"
"Ivy, Sheridan is dead."
The book slipped from her fingers, "Excuse me?"
"You heard me," he guzzled another glass of brandy.
Ivy stood up, a pained expression on her face, "Julian…how? When?"
"Earlier today. A car accident."
She covered her mouth with her hand, tears leaking from the corners of her eyes. She and Sheridan had never been particularly close, and yet…
"Julian," she said suddenly, her voice bitter, "Did you have anything to do with this?"
Julian backed off, "Ivy, how could you think me to be so heartless? Do you actually think I could hurt my own sister?"
"Don't lie to me Julian, or so help me god-"
Julian cringed away, "Ivy I'm not lying!"
Ethan suddenly appeared in the room, interrupting them, "Mother, Father, I'm going to-" he froze, "What's wrong?"
"Ethan," Ivy said haltingly, "Are your siblings still home?"

Ethan glanced quizzically at her, "Yes Mother, they're upstairs."
"Will you…will you go get them please?" Ivy asked quietly.
Ethan nodded and hurried back up the stairs. Moments later he returned with Amanda, William, Elizabeth, and Stephanie trailing behind them.
"What's going on?" Amanda asked as soon as they all filed into the living room.
"I've got some bad news for you," Ivy said in a strained voice.
"Mother, what's wrong?" Ethan asked worriedly, "Are you all right?"
"Ethan, I'm fine," Ivy said sadly, "But…I'm not quite sure how to tell you all this…"
"What is it?" William asked impatiently.
"Sheridan is dead," Julian finally blurted out, gulping down another drink.
Ivy glared coldly at him and removed the brandy glass from his hand.
"WHAT?!" Ethan yelled, backing away, his face pale, "Please tell me you're joking!"
"I'm not joking," Ivy said finally, sniffling.
"No," Ethan shook his head, "No, that's not possible! That's just not possible!"
Amanda let the tears trickle slowly down her face as she sat down on the couch, "How… how did it happen?"
Julian loosened his tie nervously, "Ah…there was a car accident."

Elizabeth began to cry loudly, hugging Amanda. Stephanie's eyes filled up and she bolted from the room.
William stood frozen, "What about her bodyguard?"
"Luis was removed from duty earlier in the day. The FBI caught the people who were trying to kill her," Ivy finally.
"So he's still alive?"
"Yes."
Amanda shook her head slowly, "Oh god…he's still alive. If I had known, I would have never…"
"You would have never what?" Julian asked suspiciously.
"I kept trying to get them together," Amanda said meekly, "I was finally successful, but if I'd known it was going to end this way….oh god…." she sobbed, wiping frantically at her eyes, "He's going to be devastated…"
Ethan suddenly flung a vase across the room, where it shattered against the wall, "What about the rest of us?! We're devastated too, Amanda!"
He turned and stomped from the room, his emotions threatening to engulf him.
Amanda sobbed louder and buried her face in her hands, her blond hair hanging forward.

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