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Return of the Prodigals
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Return of the Prodigals
by Twig

Lopez-Fitzgerald House

Paloma sighed as Luis pushed open the door to the house and gestured for her to go inside. Sheridan followed.
"I don't know why we couldn't go to Sheridan's cottage," Paloma pouted, "I've never been there." She paused and looked around at her surroundings, "Well…I've never been HERE either, but—"
"Paloma, you have so been here," Luis corrected.
She held her hands up in the air, "Oh, excuse me. I was here when I was a little kid."
"Would you keep your voice down? Do you want Mama to wake up? Or Theresa? Or Miguel?" Luis shushed.
Paloma glanced at her watch, "It's twelve-thirty at night. No doubt they're all awake and watching late night TV."
Luis raised an eyebrow.
"Or," Paloma backtracked, "Maybe I just have a boring life. Anyhow, show me to my living quarters. And I swear Luis, if you tell me I'm sleeping on the couch, so help me god—"
"No, you're not sleeping on the couch," Luis sighed, "You can take my room."
"Oh THANK YOU, I'm so honored," Paloma stomped off down the hall.
"Uh, Paloma?" Luis called after her.
"What?" she hissed back.
"You're going the wrong way. My room's over there."
With a huff, Paloma turned on heel and stomped in the other direction.

"Well," Sheridan said delicately as she sat down on the couch, "she certainly is a handful."
"Stubborn as hell," Luis sighed.
Sheridan snickered, "Oh, and I wonder where she got that from!"
He regarded her innocently, "What?"
Paloma suddenly reappeared in the hallway, "Something just dawned on me."
"What's that?" Luis and Sheridan both asked.
Paloma took a deep breath, "I HAVE BEEN AWAY FOR YEARS AND NO ONE EVEN THINKS TO GIVE ME A WELCOME HOME PARTY?!"
Luis and Sheridan exchanged glances.
"Um…welcome home?"
There were noises from opposite ends of the house as its sleeping occupants were roused from slumber by Paloma's outburst.
"Dios mio," Pilar stumbled into the living room, "What's going on out here? I should have known that I wouldn't be allowed to ever get any sleep…" She rubbed her eyes and finally spotted Sheridan.
"SHERIDAN?!"
"Hi Pilar," Sheridan said with a sad smile, hugging her former caretaker.
Theresa bounced out of her room, "What's going on? Is Ethan here—" she froze when she saw Luis and quickly amended her sentence, "Hear—ing church bells for the big wedding day?"
Luis simply sighed.
Theresa's eyes widened when she looked further into the room. She ran straight towards Sheridan and then past her, sweeping Paloma up into her arms, "YOU CAME!"
Paloma grinned and hugged her sister back , "Glad someone appreciates my presence."
"My little sister came to see my wedding!" Theresa gushed.
Luis coughed loudly, "YOUR wedding?"
Sheridan shot Theresa a warning look.

"Sheridan?" Theresa said, finally realizing what was out of place, "What are you doing here?! I thought you were dead!"
Sheridan shrugged, "Well…I'm not."
"Oh this is great!" Theresa grinned, "Now Luis can be happy again and then there—"
The doorbell rang.
Pilar sighed and went to answer it.
"Ethan," she hissed when she peeked outside, "What are you doing here?"
"I came to see Theresa," he declared.
"Ethan, go home. Luis is here," Pilar said insistently.
"But Theresa told me that he already knows about Theresa helping with the wedding—"
"Ethan, he wouldn't take too kindly to you showing up here at twelve-thirty at night. Now go home!"
Ethan sighed and turned away, heading back down the driveway.
Pilar shut the door with a breath of relief.

"Who was at the door Mama?" Luis asked as she ventured back into the living room.
"A salesman," she said hurriedly.
"At this hour? I'll go give him a piece of my mind—"
"Let it be Luis," Pilar urged, pushing him away from the door.
"Where's Miguel?" Paloma asked suddenly.
Everyone in the room exchanged glances.
"Did something happen to him?" Paloma pushed further.
"Miguel is never home," Theresa finally said, "Actually I think the last time he set foot in the house was for the funeral—"
"Theresa," Luis shook his head, "Don't bring that up, all right? Now that Sheridan's back, I see no reason to talk about that."
Theresa shrugged, "I was only trying to illustrate a point. None of us ever see Miguel."
"Maybe you sent him away and you just forgot," Paloma said bitterly.
"That's ENOUGH," Luis finally said.
"Welcome home Paloma," Pilar finally said, hugging her youngest daughter.
Paloma endured for a moment longer before letting out an exaggerated yawn.
"Well," she said, "I'm going to bed."
She slipped away.
"Sleep is a very good idea," Pilar said hopefully, "Tomorrow is a big day."
Theresa nodded, her eyes bright, "I know."
They both retired to their respective rooms.

Luis flopped down on the couch and closed his eyes briefly before opening them and looking up at Sheridan.
"It's been a hectic few days," he said with a tired laugh.
"Don't I know it," she replied with a smile, "So are you gonna offer me a place to sleep?"
Luis smirked, "I SUPPOSE I could share the couch…"
"Well I suppose you better move over before I toss you off the couch altogether."
"If you insist…"
"Oh, I insist," Sheridan whispered, flopping next to him on the sofa.
He wrapped his arms around her, "I guess we can both fit on this thing."
She closed the gap between them and kissed him, "I guess we can."
And they drifted off to sleep like that.




Crane Mansion

"All right, the caterers are all prepared, the florist has delivered the flowers, the reception hall is reserved, the limousines are ready, the landscapers have made the lawn look perfect, Ethan's tuxedo is ready, Gwen has her dress, the bridesmaids dresses are all in order, the wedding gifts have all been sorted—"
"Ivy would you QUIT with the frantic last-minute preparations? You're giving me a terrible headache!"
Ivy glared at Julian, who was calmly sitting in his study, reading a copy of Playboy.
She decided that, rather than incur the wrath of William, that she would be much better off just keeping quiet. She returned to the wedding preparations.
After a moment, the sound of Julian rustling the pages of his magazine had driven her nuts. She idly commented, "Grace Bennett is bringing a tomato soup cake to the wedding."
Julian dropped the magazine, "She's WHAT?! Good god, does she want to frighten the guests away?!"
Ivy sighed, "She seems to think that a little 'local color' would charm the guests and make them more…generous in their wedding gifts."
"Or they'd send us packing for the mental institution!"
"Yes well, I could always divorce you and let you take the heat," Ivy smirked.
Julian narrowed his eyes, "Don't you think that I would allow that for a minute—"

"Are we getting along all right in here?" William asked from the doorway, grinning broadly.
Ivy and Julian whirled to face him, plastering fake smiles on their faces.
"Of COURSE we are William," Ivy laughed, "We're getting along…ah…"
"WONDERFULLY," Julian finished, patting Ivy on the head.
William nodded and headed back down the hall. As soon as he was out of sight, Ivy and Julian leapt apart, each shooting the other a look of mutual disgust.




"What do you think Amanda? Tarantulas in the soup? Or crickets in the wedding cake?" William asked idly as she passed by his room.
Amanda yawned and stretched, "William, it is by FAR too late to be discussing such matters. If you intended to sabotage the wedding party, you should have done this earlier."
"I would have if you'd been around to help me. Unfortunately, you went out frolicking with that boyfriend of yours, Noah's Ark."
Amanda rolled her eyes, "It's NOAH. And he can't help that the people who named him are the same people responsible for that hideous dinner that Mother and Father tried to cook. What's gotten into you, anyway?"
William shrugged moodily, "Nothing."
"Fine then," Amanda shrugged, reaching over and swiping the backwards baseball cap off of his head.
"HEY!" William leapt up and grabbed for it.
"You just try it, slowpoke," Amanda giggled playfully, bolting out of the room with the baseball cap. William grabbed his skateboard off the floor and skateboarded after her.
"No fair!" she yelped as she looked over her shoulder and saw him gaining ground. She headed towards the staircase, bolting down the steps two-by-two.
"Been there, done that!" William shouted as he skateboarded down the railing after her.
The two of them rounded a corner and crashed into Julian, who had his nose buried in a magazine. The magazine, Julian, Amanda, William, the baseball cap, and the skateboard all went flying.

Julian was the first to recover, staggering to his feet.
"WHAT ON EARTH?!" he screamed, "WILLIAM, I THOUGHT WE HAD SUCCESSFULLY UN-REBEL-IZED YOU!"
William snatched the baseball cap off the floor and placed it defiantly on his head, "Wrong."
Ivy, who was standing in the doorway, crossed her arms, "Tell me that he didn't skateboard down the railing again."
"Oh he most certainly did," Julian spat.
Amanda and William exchanged amused glances.




Hotchkiss Mansion

"Now," Gwen stood in front of her three younger brothers, "I am going to tell you ONE MORE TIME. If you three attempt ANYTHING like that stunt you pulled at the Crane Mansion, Mother and Father will make sure you NEVER see the outside of boarding school EVER AGAIN!"
Gabriel gulped nervously.
Bradley and Joshua exchanged bored glances.
"I will NOT have you ruin the most wonderful day of my life!" Gwen went on, "Ethan and I are getting married tomorrow, and if you three even DARE to—"
"Gwen?" Rebecca Hotchkiss poked her way into the room, "Gwen, darling, it's late! Stop yelling at your brothers and start worrying about how to keep that little gold digger away from your fiancé."
"Mother," Gwen sighed, "I am getting MARRIED tomorrow. I am not having this discussion with you. Good night!"
She shoved Rebecca, Gabriel, Bradley, and Joshua out of the room and shut the door.




Crane Mansion

"Well brother dear, it's your wedding day. How do you feel?" Amanda yanked open the curtains, flooding Ethan's room with light.
Ethan blinked and rubbed his eyes, "Like I'm getting dressed up to go to my own funeral."
Amanda wrinkled up her nose, "THAT is not a very good sign. Are you sure you don't have a case of…what does Gwen call it?…the pre-wedding jitters?"
Ethan stood up and fumbled blearily for a bathrobe, "No, I do not have the pre-wedding jitters. I am going to marry Gwen."
"And don't you just look thrilled about it," Amanda inspected her freshly manicured nails.
"I am thrilled," Ethan attempted to smile, but it came out looking more like a grimace of extreme pain.
Amanda sighed, "I think I've put up with you long enough. I am going to go get ready for this glorious event. Noah should be here soon."
"You're bringing him to the wedding?"
"Yes," Amanda snickered as she imagined her mother's reaction to Noah.

Ethan sighed and rubbed his head again, "I should take a shower and get ready."
Amanda glanced at her watch, "That might be a good idea, brother dear. Considering you only have a few hours of freedom left."
"Don't remind me," he snapped, hurrying into the bathroom.
Amanda shook her head slowly as he slammed the bathroom door. "I don't know where he gets it from," she muttered to herself, "Surely no one else in the family is that stupid!"




"William, you are not wearing that to the wedding."
"I am a rebel."
"You may be a rebel, but I'm putting my foot down."
"But I am a rebel."
"William, do not even start with me today—"
"We rebels do what we want."
"William, take the damn baseball cap off before I rip it off your head!"
"I will not!"
Ivy stared her youngest son down, "William Julian Crane, if you don't take that baseball cap off RIGHT NOW, so help me god—"
"Mother! Isn't my dress pretty!" Stephanie came running down the stairs, her pale green skirts flowing behind her.
Ivy paused in her "discussion" with William to study her daughter's appearance, "You look lovely Stephanie."
Stephanie giggled, her thoughts running wild. She had originally been hell bent on wearing that particular dress to the wedding because the flowing skirt offered a lot of potential hiding places for sharp objects. Yet now…now all she could think of was the boy with the light brown hair and pale eyes. Gabriel Hotchkiss. She sighed. She might as well bring the knife anyway…just in case.

Ivy turned away from her scheming daughter and refocused her attention on William.
"William, PLEASE take the baseball cap off!"
Elizabeth slunk down the stairs behind Ivy and William, hoping to escape the room unseen. She had a bag slung over her shoulder.
Stephanie spotted her, "What's in the bag?"
Elizabeth dropped the bag with a grunt, "Clothes."
"Why do you need clothes?"
"Because I'm going on a little trip."
Stephanie's eyes widened, "You're running away? But…Mother and Father wanted you to start dating Joshua or Bradley!"
Elizabeth rolled her eyes, tossing her long blond hair over her shoulder, "No you idiot, I'm not running away! I'm hitchhiking to Bwizville with Miguel to rescue Charity from the mental institution We decided that it would be best to leave straight from the wedding, since everyone will be too preoccupied to notice that we're missing."
Stephanie glanced over at Ivy, who was attempting to snatch the baseball cap from William.
"Somehow…" she sighed, "I doubt you'd be missed all that much."
Elizabeth closed her eyes, "Somehow, I think you're right."

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