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Return of the Prodigals
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Return of the Prodigals
by Twig

Crane Mansion

Julian winced as the phone rang continuously. He had ignored it for the past hour, but the damned thing kept trilling.
Finally, he couldn't take it any more. Punching the speakerphone button, he growled, "Julian Crane."
"Julian, why are you avoiding my call?" Alistair demanded.
"Ah…I'm not avoiding your call, Father. I've been busy," Julian said with a false smile.
"No you haven't Julian, you've merely been bumbling about, proving your incompetence," Alistair sneered.
Julian groaned, "Father, what more do you want from me?! I killed my own sister, for god's sake!"

Ivy, who had been walking by the study with a list of wedding guests, froze at her husband's last comment.
"Julian, that has to be the only sensible thing you've done of late. Thank god you didn't manage to screw that up, like you have everything else," Alistair snapped.
Julian sighed, "I still think we took it a bit too far."
"And THAT is why you are no longer my heir. Goodbye, Julian," there was a click as Alistair hung up the phone.
"No one can find out the truth about what really happened," Julian whispered to the empty study.
"Too late," Ivy said coldly, barging in, "I already did."
Julian glanced up, panicked.
"That's right Julian. I heard every word you just said," Ivy stalked towards him, glowering with rage, "HOW COULD YOU?!"
Julian backed away, "Now…Ivy…you don't know the whole story…"
"I have been married to you for some time now," Ivy snarled, still advancing, "And while I'd be the first to admit that I absolutely DESPISE you, I'd have never thought you could stoop so low as to kill your own SISTER. And WHY?! Because 'daddy' told you to?! Well you've gone too far this time Julian. Not only have you completely destroyed the life of Luis Lopez-Fitzgerald, but think of what you've done to your own family! To your son—er…to ETHAN! Do you have any IDEA how devastated he is over this?!"

Julian held up a brandy glass as a shield, "Ivy…"
Ivy snatched the glass from him and flung it across the room, "Julian, nothing you do or say to me right now will stop me from going straight to the police about this. It's high time everyone found out just how LOW you are."
Something caught her eye out the window, "Oh, look at that. Looks like I don't have to go to the police after all. Here comes Luis."
Julian's eyes bugged out and he grabbed Ivy's arm, "Ivy, PLEASE don't say anything! You have no idea what the consequences will be-"
"Julian, I have long since given up caring about consequences."
"YOU DON'T KNOW THE WHOLE STORY!"
"And I don't care to," she said frostily, "All I know is that Sheridan is dead, and it is because of YOU. And that, frankly, is all I needed to hear."
"Ivy you don't know what you're talking about-"
"Oh, poor little Julian," she said with mock pity, "You're finally going to have to face the consequences for your actions. Pity it didn't come sooner."
"Ivy, just give me a moment to explain-"

They were interrupted by a loud commotion from downstairs.
"Good grief," Ivy exclaimed, "Now what?"




"WHAT IN THE NAME OF GOD DO YOU THINK YOU ARE DOING?!" Amanda screeched as Luis slapped handcuffs on her wrists.
"I am arresting the whole damn Crane family," he said through clenched teeth.
"As if pulling a GUN on me the past few times you've met me wasn't enough?! You've got to arrest me now, too?! This is unbelievable! YOU WILL BE HEARING FROM MY LAWYER!"
"I'm arresting your lawyer too," Luis snapped, advancing on Ethan.
"Luis," Ethan said warily, "Calm down…"
"I am perfectly calm," Luis said bitterly, glaring at the eldest Crane child, "But what I would like to know, is for how long you planned to keep your relationship with my *sister* a secret?"
Amanda's eyes widened, "THAT's the Theresa you were talking about?!"
Ethan glared at her.
"Luis," Ethan attempted, "It wasn't my place to tell you about my friendship with Theresa…she should have told you herself…"
"She did," Luis growled, slapping the handcuffs on Ethan's wrists.

"So why in god's name are you arresting ME?!" Amanda yowled, "You want to take this up with my idiot brother, be my guest. Just leave me out of it!"
"Luis," Ethan tried again, "You're not thinking rationally. Please, just calm down-"
"WHAT'S GOING ON DOWN HERE?!" Ivy yelled from the stairs.
Luis stomped towards her, handcuffs ready.
Ivy backed away, "Luis Lopez-Fitzgerald, WHAT do you think you're doing?!"
"You're the one who hired my sister?" Luis growled, "You got her involved in this whole mess?"
Ivy backed away, "But…Pilar told me she'd be good for the job…"
"Luis, don't go arresting your mother too," Ethan piped up, "I know you're upset. Please, just calm down."
"I'LL HAVE YOUR BADGE FOR THIS!" Julian thundered, stomping his way down the stairs.
Ivy groaned. Julian just HAD to go and make it worse…
Luis felt as though the world was pressing in on him from all angles. Every where he turned, all he could see was Sheridan's face, floating just out of reach. And standing before him suddenly was the man who had done everything in his power to keep the two of them apart.
"Ah…" Julian noticed the crazed look in Luis' eye and backed away.
Luis did the only thing that he could think to do. He swung.

Julian ducked just in time, and the force of Luis' punch whirled him around. Ethan put out his hands and stopped Luis from falling to the floor.
"WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH YOU?!" Julian sounded properly indignant as he dusted himself off.
"What's the matter with him?" Ethan sounded furious, "He's heartbroken, can't you see that?! Dammit, Father, so am I, but you just don't seem to give a damn!"
Ivy shot an icy glare in Julian's direction, but didn't say a word.
"Of course I'm upset," Julian said, flustered.
Luis rubbed his forehead, "I'm sorry," he said quietly, "I don't know what I was thinking." He leaned over and unlocked Amanda and Ethan's handcuffs.
Ethan, being surprisingly perceptive, shook his head, Luis, you don't have to apologize. I know you're upset."
"Well he owes ME an apology," Julian harrumphed, earning glares from the other people present in the room.
"Luis," Amanda said carefully, "Why don't you go home? I'm sure your family is worried about you."
Luis nodded his head slowly, "Yeah…Look, Ethan, Amanda, Ivy, I'm really sorry about that. I just-"
"It's all right," Ivy said softly, "Really, I understand."
Luis nodded and turned to leave, without acknowledging Julian.

"He really loved her," Amanda murmured sadly.
Ethan nodded his head, "I can't believe I didn't notice that sooner."
"You're not exactly Mister Perceptive."
Ethan was too heartsick to respond to her good-natured jab. He merely shrugged.
"I know…I know you were closer to Sheridan than the rest of us," Amanda finally said somberly, "And I can't even begin to imagine what you're going through over this. But you're going to have to move on a little bit. You're getting married in less than a week."
"And Sheridan isn't going to be at the wedding."
"She will," Amanda said softly, wiping a tear out of the corner of her eye, "She'll be in your heart. And mine. And Stephanie's, Elizabeth's, even in William's. And as long as she stays there, you'll never go through another day without her."
Ethan's vision blurred slightly as his eyes misted, "How'd you get to be so good at that?"
"At what?"
"At saying what I needed to hear."
"Brother dear, I was born talented."
He laughed and then embraced her, "Amanda, I know we fight a lot, but I just wanted to say thank you."
"I'm touched," she said semi-sarcastically as she hugged him back.
"No, I mean it. I don't know how I would have gotten through the past three weeks without you."
She smiled tearfully, "I knew I was good for something."




"A MENTAL institution? Are you KIDDING me?" Elizabeth exclaimed into the phone.
"I…I can't believe this," Miguel's voice was shaking on the other end, "No one knows what's wrong with her. She just flipped out this morning."
"That's horrible," Elizabeth said sadly, "I…I don't know how this could have happened."
"Charity isn't a danger to anyone," Miguel insisted, "She is the sweetest, most generous person I know. And I don’t see how this could have happened to her, of all people."
Elizabeth narrowed her eyes, and her grip on the phone tightened. She had a pretty good idea how it had happened…
"Kay has been so supportive all day," Miguel said with a sniff, "She was the one who broke the news to me."
That was all the proof Elizabeth needed, "Miguel, you stay right where you are. I am coming over."
"What are you going to do?"
"I am going to help you get Charity out of that mental institution," she said determinedly.




Lopez-Fitzgerald Residence

"Oh, mijo, I am so sorry this happened. I should have been there to stop you," Pilar said softly as she studied Luis' face.
He shook his head slowly, "Mama…I just haven't been able to think rationally at all. I don't know what I was doing…All I keep seeing is Sheridan."
"It will get better, Luis, trust me. I know your heart is breaking right now, but it will get easier with time."
With a bitter laugh, he glanced down at his hands, "You know, it amazes me, but Ethan isn't the jerk I thought he was."
Theresa, who was standing unseen in the hallway, gave a silent cheer.
Pilar smiled sadly, "He is a good person, Luis. Just like Sheridan was."
"I'm still angry no one told me that Theresa was working at the Crane mansion."
"Hijo, we were afraid how you would react. And you certainly proved that we had every reason to be afraid. Going to the mansion with the intention of arresting the entire Crane family could have ended disastrously."

He sighed heavily and stood up, "I know mama. I just…I don't know how much more of this I can take. I miss her so much-"
"I know you do," Pilar said softly, "I, of all people, know how you feel."
"It's like someone stole a piece of me, Mama. I feel so empty inside…All I want is for everything to go back to the way it was. I want to be able to hold Sheridan in my arms…god, what I wouldn't give even to fight with her again."
Pilar stared at him with a somber expression, "Luis, I cannot do anything to ease the pain you are going through right now. But, if I may suggest something-"
He fixed his tortured gaze on her face, "Anything."
"I think you need to get out of town for a little while, Luis. Why don’t you go pick up your sister Paloma, and bring her back for the wedding? I'm sure she'd love to see Theresa as the bridesmaid."
Luis nodded slowly, "Maybe getting away would make it a little easier."
"You won't be bombarded with memories everywhere you turn," Pilar urged, "I'll call her tonight and let her know, if you'd like."
Luis hesitated for a moment, his gaze falling on the picture of Sheridan that he had held so dear for the past three weeks. "All right," he said finally, "I'll go."




Bwizville Hospital

"Can you believe that my family has finally shown enough interest in me to invite me home?" Paloma Lopez-Fitzgerald, decked out in her candy striper uniform, said loudly to her friend as they made their way through the winding halls.
"Amazing," Sara Witherspoon said, shaking her head.
Paloma shrugged, "I don't know if I should be excited or annoyed. I mean it's not like I've heard from any of them recently."
Sara shrugged, "You do WANT to go home, don't you?"
"I guess so…" Paloma popped a stick of gum in her mouth, "But I can't help but feel like I'm just an excuse."
"An excuse? For what?"
"Mama said that she was sending my brother Luis to come get me."
"Is he that really really hot guy in the picture you showed me?"
Paloma shot her a withering glare, "He's my BROTHER, Sara."
Sara waved her hands in the air, "Sorry. Go on."
Paloma shrugged, "Anyhow, she said that his girlfriend just died in a car accident and that he needed to get out of town for a while. So my impression is that the ONLY reason any of them are displaying interest in me is because he needed an excuse to leave Harmony."
"His girlfriend died? So he's single?"
"Sara!" Paloma exclaimed, punching her friend in the arm.
"Sorry," Sara said again, "That's really sad about his girlfriend. Did he ever send you a picture of her?"

Paloma shook her head, "No…but he wrote about her a lot. I always thought it was kind of funny that he ended up dating someone in that family he was always griping about."
"What family?" Sara looked confused, "You haven't been keeping me updated, my friend."
"You know," Paloma sighed, "He's got some sort of vendetta against the Crane family. He was always writing about it in his letters. God, sometimes I wondered if he ever did ANYTHING else but sit and think about how much he hated the Cranes. Then abruptly he mentioned this lady Sheridan in his letter, and the next thing he was all happy and in love and sickeningly sappy."
"And now she's dead?"
"Yep."
"That's terrible," Sara looked sad.
Paloma shrugged, "I'll find him someone new."
Sara suddenly scowled, "Did you say Crane?"
"Yeah, why?"
She shivered, "I just hate that name…"
Paloma rolled her eyes, "Sara, don't go getting all weird on me again. Now spit it out before we get in trouble for not doing any work!"
Sara reached up and touched the faint scar that ran down her cheek, "It's nothing major. It couldn't even be the same Cranes… Just something that happened to me a long time ago, when I was in boarding school in England."
Paloma sighed, "Oh yes, in England. Why is it that everyone seems to have a more adventurous life than I do?"

Sara shrugged, "Who knows? This whole returning to your hometown thing could be an adventure."
"Yeah, if you LIKE sitting in a room with a bunch of people you hardly know and proceeding to call them family."
"You could always meet some guy and fall madly in love," Sara said hopefully.
"Girls!" an elderly lady wearing a nametag that identified her as a volunteer croaked loudly, "Get to work!"
"You going to that party tonight?" Sara whispered as she hurriedly grabbed a stack of patient charts and attempted to file them.
"Unfortunately," Paloma yawned, "I hate these stupid hospital events. You and I always go and sit there bored out of our minds."
"Maybe prince charming will be there," Sara offered.
"No prince charming, I'm afraid. Just my brother. Mama told him where I would be and he's picking me up from the party."
"Talk about forced social situations."
"Tell me about it."

Sara shrugged, "Well, you could always try your hand at matchmaking and set him up with the new secretary over there."
Paloma followed her friend's gaze and settled her eyes on a young blond woman who looked somewhat lost as she typed up files, "Nah…she looks too nervous."
"Of course she's nervous, she's new."
"She probably won't even BE at the party tonight."
Sara shook her head, feigning disgust, "Always the pessimist. Anyhow, I think it's a good idea. Your big brother leaves his old town to clear his head and finds love here, in charming little old Bwizville."
"I would much rather focus on how I'm going to survive for two weeks in a town with a bunch of people I don't really know and I don't really like."
"Look, once we get out of here, I'll help you shop for a dress. That always puts you in a better mood."
Paloma sighed, "Fine, fine. But I STILL don't want to go."
Sara rolled her eyes and kept on filing.




Crane Mansion

"Ivy," Julian said hesitantly, "I want to thank you for covering for me."
"Julian, I did NOT cover for you," Ivy harrumphed, "I was just too taken aback by the turn of events to consider confronting you."
"If you would just listen to me for a moment, I could tell you that-"
"SAVE IT Julian," Ivy snapped, "I'm really not interested in why you found it necessary to kill Sheridan."
"But-"
"JULIAN!" Ivy exploded.
He was properly humbled, "Ah…"
"Since you've managed to shut up, I would like to make one thing perfectly clear."
"Anything, dear," he said sarcastically.
"You are NEVER to speak to, or even to look at me again, are we understood?" Ivy's voice was dripping with venom.
Julian pouted, "But Ivy, about the thing with Sheridan-"
"Julian, I DO NOT WANT TO HEAR IT!"

William paused at the sound of raised voices, poking his head into Julian's study.
"Mother? Father? Is everything all right?"
"Everything is FINE William," Ivy said crossly.
"Yes William, we're quite all right," Julian said as he sipped a glass of brandy.
"You know I don't like it when you two argue," William crossed his arms.
"Oh really dear? I thought it would amuse you," Ivy poured herself something to drink.
"Yes, we Cranes ENJOY confrontation," Julian smirked, plucking the drink out of Ivy's hand and gulping it down.
Ivy glared at him and snatched the glass out of his hand, heading over towards the brandy once again.

"I am a rebel!" William shouted, causing Ivy's hand to freeze halfway towards the brandy.
Julian and Ivy turned to look at him.
William chuckled, "Now that I've got your attention, I would like to take this moment to explain that, since I am a rebel, I hope you can find my actions forgivable."
"What actions?" Julian asked nervously.
"Well," William leaned against the doorway, a gleefully evil look on his face, "I've had enough of you two arguing over every little thing. So I've decided that I'm not going to let you out of this room until you settle everything."
With that he stepped backward and slammed the door to Julian's study. A moment later, the sound of a lock clicking echoed through the room.
Ivy and Julian exchanged stunned glances.
"Before you two get any ideas-" William's face appeared in the window behind Julian's desk, "I'm boarding up this window. So you two are stuck."
With a laugh, he set about hammering boards over the window.
"William!" Ivy pleaded, "You don't know what you're doing-"
"PLEASE DON'T LEAVE ME IN HERE WITH HER!" Julian screeched, pounding on the door.

When there was no reply, Ivy crossed her arms and stared coldly at Julian. He glared back at her for a moment before descending on the brandy.

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