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Return of the Prodigals
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Return of the Prodigals
by Twig

Book Café

"Why do you look so sad?" Noah asked Amanda, concern lighting his voice as he watched her pick at a blueberry muffin.
"I'm not sad," Amanda lied.
"Stop lying."
"I'm not lying."
"Stop shutting me out."
"I'm not shutting you out!" she insisted, looking up so that he could see the tears glistening in her bright blue eyes, "It's just…"
"What is it?" he pressed.
She sighed, "Nothing. Nothing at all."




Crane Mansion

William peeked into his room, finding Ivy still hunched over the video game.
"Mother, you've been playing for three hours now. Don't you think you ought to give your eyes a rest?"
Ivy sighed and glanced forlornly back at the game, "Oh all right." She moved to shut it off, shooting a few more of the miniature Grace-trolls for good measure.
William rolled his eyes, "I've created a monster."
Ivy followed her son down the stairs, for the first time hearing voices rise up from the parlor.
"Who's down there?"
William shrugged, "Paloma and Sara stopped by. Seems they needed a little adventure in their lives."
"You let SARA in here?! What about Stephanie—"
"She went over to the Hotchkiss Mansion to talk to Gabriel about something," William replied in a bored tone, "She should be home soon."
Ivy sighed, "William, when are you going back to school?"
"What do you mean?"

"Well," she said delicately, "The summer is nearly over. When are you going back?"
"Are you trying to get rid of me?"
"No—"
"You don't want me around anymore," William accused, "Is it because I'm a rebel?"
"I never said—"
"Mother, how could you be so cruel? I thought we were bonding!"
"William—"
William sighed, "So Ethan is still the favorite…"
"WILLIAM IF YOU WOULD STOP INTERRUPTING ME!" Ivy suddenly screeched, causing William to shut up.
"Now," Ivy took a deep breath and smoothed down her hair, "I want you to go pack up and head back to England."
"Amanda, Elizabeth and Stephanie all go to school in England, Mother. I go to school in France."
"Then go back to France!"
William actually looked wounded, "Why are you trying to get rid of me?"
"William, this…ah…bonding experience has been wonderful, really, but it has also thrown everyone's lives into a state of upheaval! Once everything goes back to the way it was—"
"The way things were?" William sounded bitter, "When it was just your golden boy Ethan and the rest of us were too far away even to matter?"
"That is NOT what I said!" Ivy began to regret even broaching the subject at all.

"Well you know what?" William crossed his arms in the best rebel-pose he could muster, "I’m not going back to France."
"You're WHAT?!"
"I'm not going back," he said simply, "I'm staying here."
"But your education—"
"Mother, I can go to college here."
"CRANES DON'T GO TO LOCAL COLLEGES!"
William shook his head in disgust, "What's happed to you, Mother?"
"I want you to get rid of this ridiculous notion right now—"
"That's not going to happen," he said in a clipped tone, "Especially not now. This reaction has only made me MORE determined to stay at home, if only to make your life and Father's life a living hell."
And with that, William stomped off, leaving a stunned Ivy standing in his wake.
"That didn't go as planned…" she sighed to herself.




Paloma glanced up, startled, as William burst into the parlor, an angry look on his face.
"What happened to you?" she asked lightly, "baseball cap too tight?"
William glared at her, "Paloma, I'm not in the mood."
She blinked in surprise, "You can give it but you can't take it, huh? Well—"
She was answered by the slamming of the door.

Sara raised her eyebrow, "That's not the way to woo him, Paloma."
"I'm not trying to WOO him Sara," Paloma scoffed, "I can't even stand him!"
"So when are we going back to Bwizville?" Sara shrugged.
Paloma bit her lip, considering her options, "Uh…"
"Your visit is up in less than a week, right?"
"Yes…"
"So then you'll be returning to an existence where people don't croak, come back to life, have glowing yellow eyes, talk in weird voices, AND TALK TO PENS!" Sara shrieked.
Paloma was silent.
"Right?" Sara pressed, "Right?"
"Well…" Paloma hesitated.
"Please tell me you aren't leaving me to my dull existence in Bwizville," Sara said hopefully.
"I might stick around…for a little while longer," Paloma finally sighed.
"I KNEW IT! You're in love with the rebel!"
"I am not!" Paloma retorted quickly, "I just…ah…need some more time to bond with my family."

"Yeah. I'm sure. You seemed REAL fond of your family the other night," Sara rolled her eyes.
"I want to…ah…give them a chance," Paloma said hastily.
"I sense an ulterior motive."
"Not everyone is as scheming as you," Paloma sighed.
"Not everyone is as transparent as you," Sara shot back.
Paloma sighed and stood up, tossing her long, dark hair, "I think I'm going to go bother William."
Sara grinned knowingly, "Yup. You do that."
Paloma glared at her and hurried out the door.




William was skateboarding merrily across the roof of the limousine, blissfully ignoring the chauffeur's horrified screams.
"WILLIAM!" Paloma yelled, breaking through his daze.
He paused and glanced down at her, "What do you want?"
"I want you to get down from off of that limo!"
He rolled his eyes, "Now you're my mother?"
"Would you quit being such an idiot and just tell me what's wrong?"
William clambered down from the limousine, "Why should I tell you anything? You've been nothing but mean to me this whole time."
"And you haven't exactly been Mr. Congeniality, now have you?"
"I'm not in the mood for this," he growled as he brushed past her.

"Then perhaps you'd be in the mood for this," without thinking, without planning, without even anticipating, Paloma pulled him into a kiss. And to her shock he kissed her back.

Of all the confused thoughts that jumbled through her brain, the one that rang most clearly was: DEAR GOD, WHAT AM I DOING?!
Finally, she managed to pull away, taking a shaky breath and looking up at William, her brown eyes stunned, "Ahem."
William coughed and looked down at his feet, "Ah…"
She recovered quickly, attempting to cover her flustered state, "Ah…now that I have your attention, will you tell me what's wrong?"
"Nothing's wrong," he said with a smile, "Nothing at all. In fact, I'm staying in Harmony."
"Where would you have been going?" she was baffled.
"Back to boarding school in Paris."
"PARIS?!" she exclaimed, before inwardly kicking herself. Paris was so far away…
"But I'm not going," he continued to smirk, "If my mother and father are that determined to get rid of me, the more determined I am to stay."
"Now that's the rebel I know and lo—" Paloma froze again. She had been about to say love. "I know and loathe," she said, not displaying any outward signs of her awkwardness. Dear god, what had gotten into her?
"Yes, well I'd hate to disappoint you," William smirked, heading back towards the house.




Book Café

Noah and Amanda walked, hand in hand, out the door and into the rapidly cooling air. The chill only served as a reminder of her impending fate, and Amanda couldn't repress a shiver.
"Are you cold?" Noah asked.
She shook her head, "No, I'm all right. I was just thinking about something."
"Couldn't have been good, if it made you shiver like that."
She cocked her head and studied him, "I can't believe you're related to Ethan. You're more perceptive than he is."
He shifted his weight from one foot to another, "Um…thanks. I think."
"You know what?" she asked him, blue eyes dancing merrily.
"What?"
"I think…" her lips turned up into a smile.
Noah smiled back as he waited for her to continue.
"I think that you should watch where you're going!" she laughed as he bumped into a ladder, sending paint sloshing down all over him.

Noah stood, stunned for a moment, gaping at her.
"I'm sorry," she gasped with laughter, "I'm sorry, but…oh my god that is so funny!"
Paint dripped from Noah as he continued to stare blankly at her, "I'm glad you think this is so amusing."
"Oh but it is," she giggled.
"Well you know what would be even more funny?" he asked, mischief alighting in his eyes.
"What's that?"
"THIS!" he laughed and pounced with the paint can, dumping the remaining paint all over her.
"NOOO!" Amanda howled with laughter, attempting to wriggle free. Moments later the two stood face to face, completely covered in pink paint.
"You are crazy, Amanda Crane," he said with a smile, feeling his skin begin to stiffen as the paint dried on it.
"And you are charming, Noah Bennett."
For a moment, she forgot about her troubles and lost herself in the magic of kissing Noah.

"HEY! You kids!" an angry voice yelled, snapping through the trance that had overcome the pair.
"WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING?! You're responsible for replacing that paint—"
Noah and Amanda glanced at each other and sprinted off, hand in hand. The painter attempted to follow them, yelling in great breathy gasps, "HEY! HEY YOU KIDS!"
Finally he gave up and allowed the two to make their grand escape.
After they were out of sight, Amanda and Noah flopped on the grass, laughing hysterically.
"You are going to get me into so much trouble one of these days!" Noah wheezed, clutching his sides as he struggled to gain control over his laughter.
"I know," Amanda chortled back, "but it's fun, isn't it?"
Their laughter echoed on into the rapidly approaching night.




Crane Mansion

Amanda Crane stood silently in the room that belonged to her, looking around at the suitcases she had packed for her return to school in England. The last week and a half of her summer had flown by all too quickly, and she found that every moment she spent with Noah was another moment she would spend missing him.
"This wasn't supposed to happen," she whispered, willing herself not to cry, "I wasn't supposed to fall in love, dammit."
Ivy knocked on the door, "Amanda, is everything all right?"
Amanda had to bite back a laugh at that one. Her mother had been getting more and more eager as the date the children were to depart approached.
"Everything's fine," she finally said, as Ivy poked her head in the room.
"Amanda, I know you're still upset about Noah—"
Amanda turned to face her mother, "Maybe I am," she said simply, "But I wouldn't want to disappoint the family by not following through with your plans for me, now would I?"
"Plans—" Ivy attempted.
"Plans that don't include Chief Bennett's son," Amanda snapped, and then a slow smile spread across her face. Time to test a theory…
"Or at least ONE of his sons," she continued.

Ivy paused, "Amanda, what on earth are you talking about?"
"I'm certain you've got BIG plans for a certain heir to the Police Chief…although I'm certain he doesn't exactly know who his real father is…"
Ivy felt the blood drain out of her face, "Oh my god. You know."
Amanda felt some twinge of satisfaction at that, "Yes I know all about you and Sam Bennett…and Ethan, for that matter. And I find it amazing that you've managed to keep it a secret all these years."
"How did you find out?"
Amanda giggled, "Oh, your former boyfriend is as dense as his son, so it seems. Ethan, that is. He left incriminating evidence lying around just BEGGING to be uncovered."
Ivy perked up, "What kind of incriminating evidence?"
Amanda waved her hand, "Oh you know, the usual. Love notes, pictures…that sort of stuff."
Ivy couldn't keep the smile from her face. He saved them…

Amanda sighed as she moved towards her suitcases, carefully folding a sweater into the black leather bag.
"The kind of memories Noah and I will never have the opportunity to make…"
Ivy felt herself soften slightly, "Amanda, I know this is hard for you—"
"Hard? You have no idea," Amanda laughed bitterly, "You know, I haven't even told him yet that I'm leaving. I can't bear to see the look on his face. Before I catch my plane this afternoon I'm leaving him a note under—"
"The rock that Sam and I used to exchange notes under," Ivy supplied with a sigh.
"You're kidding, right?"
"Why would I make something like that up?" Ivy squeaked.
"You have a point," Amanda conceded with a wry smile.
"Do you love him?" Ivy asked finally.
Amanda, startled, turned to face her mother. "Cranes don’t fall in love," she said finally.
Ivy let her mind wander to Julian, who was now home from the hospital and driving the staff crazy with his bedside demands, "You do have a point there."
"But if you're asking me that as a person, and not as a Crane," Amanda took a deep breath, "Yes, I am in love with Noah Bennett."
Ivy sighed, "Then Amanda…I'm shocking myself by telling you this but…you have to do what YOU think is right. Follow your heart."




Bennett Residence

"This is SO cool," Kay exclaimed gleefully.
Simone shook her head and sighed, "Kay, having a long distance boyfriend doesn't mean that—"
"Wait until everyone at school hears that my boyfriend is Bradley Hotchkiss and that he's sending me letters from boarding school in France!"
She sighed, "Ever the optimist, aren't we, Kay?"
Kay smirked, "Simone, I wouldn't be so negative if I were you."
"And why not? Chad isn't separating himself from my sister any time soon," Simone sighed.
"But according to Bradley, a certain twin brother has been asking about your address so he can write to you…"
Simone perked up, "Really? Joshua is interested in me?"
"Yes he is," Kay was grinning widely.
Simone felt a smile creep across her face, "Kay, I think I've changed my mind. This whole long-distance boyfriend thing is fabulous!"




Elizabeth, Miguel and Charity stood outside on the Bennett's front porch, staring at one another solemnly.
"I am going to miss you two," Elizabeth said with a small smile.
"I can't believe you're going back to England," Charity said sadly, "You've been such a good friend. Breaking me out of the mental institution…"
Elizabeth held up her hand, "Please, no need to elaborate. I remember that quite well."
Charity grinned stupidly.
Miguel shrugged, "So do I, unfortunately."
"I wonder what happened to Tabitha and Timmy," Charity said wistfully.
Elizabeth inched away, "Well, I should be going. I don't want to miss my flight."
"Elizabeth, wait," Miguel said suddenly.
Elizabeth paused and turned to look at him, "Yes?"
"Can I…can I talk to you alone for a second?"
She shrugged, "Fine with me."
Charity beamed at both of them and headed back into the house to talk with her oh-so-supportive cousin Kay.

"I wish you weren't leaving," Miguel said quietly.
Elizabeth shrugged, "Maybe I'll talk my parents into having me home again next summer."
He shoved his hands into his pockets, "That's not…that's not all I have to say."
She raised her eyebrows, "I'm waiting."
"We've been through a lot together this summer, and—"
"Your frequent pauses are killing me," Elizabeth sighed, "Just spit it out."
He heaved a sigh, "Elizabeth…I think I like you."
"Good god, you took ten minutes to say THAT?!"
"No…I mean…I REALLY like you."
"Are you trying to say that—"
"I didn't mean to," Miguel stammered, "I only meant to get Charity back. I didn't mean to fall in love with you."
Elizabeth took a deep breath, "I can't say I was expecting that."

"I'm sorry if—"
"Don't apologize," Elizabeth smiled, "You don't have to say you're sorry. Because…I've got the same problem. I didn't mean to fall in love with you, but…I did."
He shifted his weight from one foot to the other, "So now what do we do?"
She sighed, "There's not a lot we CAN do. Are you willing to break up with Charity on the faint chance that you'll ever see me again?"
He looked down at the ground, weighing his options.
"I didn't think so," she was still smiling sadly.
"I didn't say—"
"You don't have to," she shook her head, "I'll write to you."
Elizabeth leaned over and kissed him softly on the cheek. Then she was gone.

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