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Of Porcupines and Sprinklers
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Of Porcupines and Sprinklers
by Twig

Crane Mansion

Sheridan trotted up the steps to the mansion, Luis right behind her. Before she could even ring the bell, the door was flung open to reveal Julian, who glared out at her and Luis.

"Sheridan," he said, feigning joy, "You're all right!"
"No thanks to you," she snapped, "Can you let me have one of the guest rooms tonight?"
"But of course," Julian said, with an exaggerated grin, "My house is your house." He took a swig of brandy out of a crystal glass. "Ah, Officer Lopez-Fitzgerald. Thank you for looking out for my sister."
Luis did his best to mask his innate dislike for the other man, "Just doing my job."

Sheridan took her bag from Luis and shoved it into Julian's arms, "If you don't mind carrying this up for me?"
"Of course I don't mind Sheridan," Julian chuckled sarcastically, "I don't mind at all."
He vanished into the house.

Sheridan turned to face Luis, "Luis, I…I just wanted to thank you for doing what you did. I know living with me hasn’t been easy for either of us, but…you did save my life. And I'm grateful for it."
"Sheridan Crane, actually thanking someone? I'm shocked!"
"Don't be so smug!"
Luis smiled, "Look on the bright side. Now that this is over, we never have to see each other again."
"Thank god. I'm counting the seconds until you leave."
"Fine."

"FINE!"

Luis turned and stomped down the steps, before turning to face Sheridan, who was still standing in the doorway.

"You wanna go get something to eat tomorrow night?"

"Sure," she said quickly, smiling.

"Pick you up at seven?"
"Great."
Luis nodded, then turned and glanced back at her, "Is it all right if you don't tell Julian?"
"I won't tell him."
Luis nodded and continued walking. She watched him as he headed down the path, until he was long out of her sight. When she finally turned back to the door, Julian was leaning against the house with his arms crossed.

"Tell me what?"
Sheridan coughed, "Uh, Luis just didn't want you to know how damaged, uh, the rugs in the cabin were from the blood. He figured you'd be upset."
"THE RUGS ARE DAMAGED?! Do you have any idea how much those things COST?! Father had them installed…he won't be pleased…"

"I'm having them torn up and replaced next week," Sheridan informed him.

"NO!" Julian said a bit too quickly, "Um…I'll do it. No need for you to trouble yourself over it. Why don't you head up to bed?"


Sheridan shrugged and disappeared into the house. Julian stood outside for a moment longer, taking another sip of brandy.

"No one can know what's hidden under that rug," he whispered to himself, finally turning and heading back into the mansion.





Lopez-Fitzgerald House

Pilar Lopez-Fitzgerald watched through the window as her son approached the house; home for the first time in weeks.

"Theresa! Miguel!" she called up the stairs, "Luis is home!"
Luis's younger siblings hurried down the stairs to greet him as he walked through the front door.

"You're home!" Theresa said happily, hugging him.

"Is everything okay?" Miguel asked, eyeing Luis worriedly.

"Yeah, everything's fine," Luis responded, "The two men after Sheridan are dead."
"Dios mio!" Pilar exclaimed, "Did you kill them hijo?"

Luis nodded somberly, "Yeah, I had to. They almost got to Sheridan."
At that point, Theresa's eyes went wide and starry. She was no longer listening to her brother recount his tale, but was now lost in her own thoughts. Had Whitney been there, she would have surely recognized the expression on her friend's face and rolled her eyes appropriately.

"Well," she said brightly, "I'm glad everything's okay Luis. I'm gonna go call Whitney now. Call me when dinner's ready!"

She sprinted up the stairs, thoughts of Ethan running rampant through her head.

Miguel feigned a yawn, "Well…the Bennetts invited me over for dinner tonight. See you later!" He sprinted out the door before anyone could protest.

"I'm going to start cooking," Pilar informed her son, bustling off into the kitchen. Luis, left alone, flopped on the couch.

"Now what am I supposed to do?" he muttered to himself, missing Sheridan despite his professed dislike for her. At least he had someone to talk to when she was around.

After several more moments of pure boredom, he headed into the kitchen to see if his mother needed any help. Despite his fine-tuned culinary skills, his mother shooed him away, telling him that he deserved a break after working so long and hard to keep Sheridan safe.

Luis returned to the living room and sat down on the couch yet again.

"I don't need a break," he mumbled to himself, "What I need is someone to talk to!"

Theresa hurried down the stairs.

"Theresa!" Luis said, pleased, "Come talk to me."
Theresa shook her head, "Sorry Luis, I'm going over Whitney's. We have some important things to discuss. See you tomorrow!"

She hurried out the door, tossing a "Bye Mama!" in Pilar's direction, and leaving Luis by himself once more.

Switching on the TV, Luis flipped absently through the channels, looking for something to amuse himself with. Channel after channel of boring comedies and unsuspenseful dramas stared him down relentlessly. And the sappy love stories only made him think of Sheridan, but he couldn't figure out why for the life of him. As the delicious odors of dinner wafted from the kitchen to where he was sitting, Luis wondered what Sheridan was doing…

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