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Return of the Prodigals
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Return of the Prodigals
by Twig

Crane Mansion

Ivy woke up slowly, conscious first of the hard ground underneath her and the scratchiness of the rug against her skin.
"What on earth-" she sat up, rubbing her head, which was throbbing with pain. She glanced around, noting the state of disarray that the dining room was in, and also spotting Julian sprawled on the ground next to her. Unlike herself, he showed no signs of waking up any time soon.
"Julian," she grumbled, "JULIAN WAKE UP!"
Julian's eyes snapped open and attempted to focus on their surroundings, "What's going on?"
Instead of answering his question, Ivy focused on standing up, not an easy feat considering her recent blow over the head and her previous skateboarding injuries. Julian sighed and followed suit, leaning heavily against the table.
"Damn that rebellious son of ours," he griped, looking in horror at the mess surrounding them.
"This is not WILLIAM'S fault," Ivy snapped, "if you hadn't made me call Grace Bennett for recipes, we might have been able to fix an edible meal!"

Julian's eyes crossed, "Ivy, I am not going to have this argument with you. All I want is something to drink-"
Ivy launched herself in front of the brandy, "DON'T YOU DARE! You are not sitting back and drinking yourself into a stupor while I attempt to round up this family of ours and fashion some sort of excuse before Alistair has our heads!"
Julian grimaced, "Fine Ivy, we'll come up with some way to lie to Father to cover up this…incident…"
"I wouldn't worry about that," Amanda said brightly from the doorway, "William and I did some major damage control with Grandfather last night while you two were so conveniently unconscious."
Julian and Ivy simultaneously let out a breath of relief.
"There is one piece of information I believe you should know, however," Amanda continued, "After everyone cleared out of here, I had a long talk with my dear brother Ethan. He's contemplating calling off the wedding because he witnessed Gwen cold-heartedly bashing you two over the head with her crutches."
"Call off the wedding?" Ivy gasped, "He can't do that!"
"I didn't say he was *definitely* calling off the wedding," Amanda smirked, "I just said he was contemplating it. Although, with his intelligence, I don't know how much contemplating he could accomplish…"

"That’s enough out of you young lady," Ivy said crossly, "Where is Ethan right now?"
Amanda shrugged innocently, "I don't know. Where do fine, upstanding young men go to do their contemplating?"
Julian narrowed his eyes, "Amanda, tell us where Ethan is RIGHT NOW!"
"He went to…" Amanda's voice trailed off as her eyes danced merrily.
"Amanda," Ivy said warningly.
"Oh for heaven's sake, the idiot is still sleeping," Amanda finally relented, annoyed, "Apparently, life-changing decisions aren't enough to keep him awake."
Julian harrumphed, "He wouldn’t call off the wedding…he knows how much this means to us…"

Gwen burst through the door, big smile on her face, moving rather quickly on her crutches.
"IVY! JULIAN! Oh, I'm so glad you're all right!"
"Yes well, aside from a HEADACHE, I'm just fine," Julian said, eyebrow raised.
"You have NO idea how sorry I am about that," Gwen gushed, "I honestly don't know what came over me…"
"Well…we're still around…no harm done," Ivy said with a forced smile, "Why don't you go on up and see Ethan?"
"Ethan! Oh yes…I know he was upset about what happened last night…" Gwen hurried towards the stairs, studying them with some foreboding.
"Why don't I just go fetch him for you?" Amanda suggested after a moment.
"Would you? Oh that would be great," she gushed.
Shaking her head with amusement, Amanda headed up the stairs.




"Yes Theresa…I love you…"
Amanda froze outside the door to her brother's room, uncertain as to what she had just overheard.
"Theresa…"
Oh, this was too good to be true. Smirking, Amanda pushed open the door, finding her brother sprawled on his bed, talking in his sleep. She slowly poured a glass of water and flung it in his face.
Ethan sat up, sputtering.
"Good morning, brother dear," she said with a wide grin, handing him a towel.
"What did you do that for?" he grumbled, wiping at his face.
"Well, you were having a rather…vocal dream. Dare I imagine what would have occurred had Gwen been the one to wake you up?"
Ethan looked uncomfortable, "What did I say?"
"Let's just say that I don't believe you about Theresa being 'just a friend' anymore," Amanda cackled.
Ethan groaned and slapped his forehead with the heel of his hand.
"Now," Amanda paused, "What are you going to give me to ensure that I don't spill this little secret?"

Ethan crossed his arms, "Amanda, please tell me you aren't about to blackmail me."
"Give me one good reason why I shouldn't blackmail you!"
"Because the love and respect of your siblings is important to you?" Ethan said hopefully.
Amanda laughed, "Brother dear, don't try to appeal to my morals, because I have none."
Ethan shot her a sour look as he stood up.
Still laughing, Amanda added, "Why don't you let me meet this Theresa person? Since you're so OBVIOUSLY enamored of her, I believe she should know EXACTLY what it is she's getting into should she start a relationship with you…"
"I am not starting a relationship with Theresa. I'm in love with Gwen. I'm going to marry Gwen."
"You may be able to convince your own feeble little mind of that fact, but you are not doing anything to persuade us of higher intelligence."
Ethan scowled as he reached for a shirt, "Amanda, why is it that you persist in torturing me? What have I ever done to you?"
"You were born, weren't you?"
Ethan sighed, "Talking to you is like reasoning with a mountain lion."
"You see? Leave it to you to come up with the most ridiculous metaphors. Reasoning with a mountain lion?!"

He shrugged, "I'm going downstairs to talk to Gwen. You can stay here, for all I care."
Amanda shot him a withering glare, "No thank you. I, unlike some people I know, actually HAVE a life."
"Amazing, considering your lack of social skills."
"Before you go," Amanda smiled, "Do consider what you're doing. Whoever this Theresa person is, she has to be a hundred times better than that giggling pep-squad you've got waiting downstairs for you."
Ethan narrowed his eyes, "I'm going to marry Gwen."
"Even after she tried to murder Mother and Father?" Amanda raised one eyebrow.
Ethan sighed, "I haven't thought that far ahead."
"Of COURSE you haven't."
"I've had enough with your jabs at my intelligence!"
"WHAT intelligence?"
Shaking his head, Ethan meandered out of the room, heading down the stairs to talk to Gwen.
Amanda laughed evilly to herself, "Things just got a WHOLE lot more interesting around here…"




Crane Cottage

"I can't believe we fell asleep just sitting here," Sheridan laughed as she raised her head off of Luis' shoulder, rubbing the back of her neck.
He shrugged innocently, "It was a long night."
"You can say that again. I never, EVER want to see Julian and Ivy in the kitchen again," she shuddered.
"Blame Grace Bennett," Luis laughed, "I've been friends with Sam long enough to recognize those recipes."
"And you had the nerve to criticize my scrambled eggs?!"
Luis shook his head, amused, "You see the problem with that, is, whatever it is that Grace likes to cook, she cooks it *well*. It's never…shall we say…charred."
"I'd take my chances with the eggs, if I were you."
"You've got a point."

Luis stood up and made his way into the kitchen, "How about I cook breakfast today? That way we won't have to worry about any accidental poisoning."
"Sounds like a plan to me," Sheridan smiled, trailing after him.




Bennett Residence

"Helloooo?" Grace said into the phone as she flipped some pancakes on a griddle, "Oh hello Ivy! How did the dinner go?…Really?…REALLY?!…well that's just great…I'm glad they liked the recipes…oh yes…well I could always give you some more-…what's that?…why not?…oh I see…Sam? What about Sam?"
Sam glanced up from the newspaper with a wary expression.
"Well yes, he's right here. Hold on," Grace said cheerily, handing the phone to her husband.
Sam grimaced and took the phone, "What?"
"Be nice dear," Grace swatted his arm.
Sighing, Sam turned his attention to the phone, "Ivy how many times to I have to tell you-…NO Ivy!…NO!…yes, I know what you mean…yes…NO!!!…All right, goodbye."
With a huge sigh, he hung up the phone.
"Ivy wanted to let us know how much everyone in her family LOVED my recipes," Grace gushed, "Wasn't that sweet of her Sam?"
Sam shook his head, "Yeah. Real sweet."
"Sam, have you seen the girls?" Grace asked after a moment.
Sam shrugged, "Kay is probably with Simone, and Jessica is probably…uh…doing whatever it is that she does most of the time."
Grace seemed to accept that explanation and turned her attention back to the pancakes, "What about Noah?"

Sam paused, "He's probably out with Amanda again."
"Amanda?"
"Amanda…" Sam grimaced, "Amanda Crane."
"He's dating Ivy's daughter? Oh that's wonderful!" Grace bubbled, "If they get married, Ivy and Julian can be our in-laws! Maybe that would finally put an end to your hatred of the Crane family!"
"That's not likely to happen Grace," Sam shook his head.
"But Sam…I know you hate the Crane family, but I think this is exactly what our family needs. Especially since it didn't look like a relationship between Hank and Sheridan was going to work out…"
"You can say that again," Sam bit into a pancake and grimaced, carefully spitting it into his napkin when Grace wasn't looking.
"Oh Sam," Grace said dreamily, gazing at him.
Sam smiled back at her.

Charity came strolling into the kitchen, "Aww, you two are so sweet. I'm going over to Miguel's."
She hurried out the door. Moments later Kay appeared in the kitchen, dragging Simone behind her.
"Oh Simone, I didn't know you slept over," Grace said with a smile.
"I didn't-" Simone began.
"Yeah, we got home late," Kay interrupted, "We didn't want to wake you up. Well, we're going over Miguel's now. Bye!"
She dragged Simone out the door.




"I still don't understand why you keep making me climb through the windows of your house," Simone grumbled as soon as they were outside.
"Because I don't want my mom and dad to find out about my latest plan to drive Charity insane!" Kay snapped.
"Oh yes, I'm sure that what you did last night to that poor girl is really going to drive her to the mental institution."
"Even if it doesn't send Charity to the mental institution, it's going to drive Miguel right into my arms, so what do I have to lose?"
"I hardly think that Miguel is going to connect *Charity* to the egging of his house last night."
"Simone, you underestimate me. I made SURE that he would realize that Charity was responsible."
"But Charity wasn't responsible Kay, YOU were."
"But he is never going to know that, now is he?" Kay grinned wickedly.




Crane Mansion

"Good morning Ethan," Gwen said brightly, grinning at her husband-to-be.
Ethan shifted from one foot to the other, looking first to Gwen, and then to his parents, who, despite being somewhat frazzled, looked none the worse for wear. "Good morning Gwen," he finally said.
Ivy breathed a sigh of relief, "Well, you two are getting along fine now."
"But Mother, Gwen tried to kill you last night. I don't see how-"
"Ethan, I am still alive," Ivy said flatly, "And NOTHING is going to get in the way of you marrying Gwen, am I understood?"
Julian nodded his head to punctuate Ivy's comments, "Nothing is going to get in the way."
"But-"
"No buts about it Ethan. I've forgiven Gwen for what she's done, so now it's time for you to do the same."
"You do the same," Julian nodded.
Ivy glared at him, "Are you a damn parrot now?"
"Ethan?" Gwen asked hopefully, leaning on her crutches as she gazed at him.
Amanda crept down the stairs and listened to the exchange with a slight smile.
Ethan took a deep breath, "I forgive you Gwen. We're still getting married."
She clapped her hands together, "WONDERFUL! Oh Ethan, I don't know what I would have done if you'd said that the wedding was off-"

"When is this wedding going to happen, anyway?" Julian interrupted, gesturing to the cast on her leg.
Gwen paused, "Mother and I have already started finalizing plans for a month from tomorrow."
"A month?" Ivy breathed, "But that's so long…So much can go wrong…"
"What could possibly go wrong?" Gwen asked with a big grin, "I'm marrying the most wonderful man in the world!"
She wrapped one arm around the less-than-enthusiastic Ethan.
"More can go wrong than you realize…" Amanda whispered to herself from the stairwell.
"Nothing specific," Ivy laughed nervously, "It's just we were all expecting the wedding to be sooner, but with you breaking your ankle-"
"Trust me," Gwen smiled and leaned even more on Ethan, "Nothing is going to go wrong! I am going to have the most wonderful wedding in the world!"
"We'll see about that…" Amanda snickered to herself, before turning around and heading back towards her room.

The loud ringing of the phone caused Julian to pale with nervousness.
Ivy glanced over at him, "Julian, you look like you've seen a ghost!"
Julian shifted from one foot to the other, "Ah…I must be going. Good day!"
He hurried towards the door.
Ivy stared at him quizzically, "Aren't you going to answer the phone? It's probably Alistair!"
Julian inched closer to the doorway, "Ah, he'll call back later."
And with that, he was gone.
The phone rang once more and then was silent.
Ivy shook her head slowly. For as long as she lived, she would NEVER understand Julian.




Crane Cottage

"Are you sure these pancakes aren't poisonous? They look too good to be real," Sheridan glanced in amazement at the plate Luis had just set in front of her.
"I guarantee you that the only bad thing about these pancakes is that I didn't make more," he grinned at her.
"You always have to have such an ego," Sheridan smiled across the table at him.
He opened his mouth to respond but was cut off by the ringing of a phone.
"That’s your cell phone," Sheridan said after a moment.
Luis sighed and picked up the phone, "Hello?…Oh, hi Sam…They what?…Are you sure?…No, I'll tell her…All right…Bye."
Sheridan glanced up at him, "What was that all about?"
Luis shrugged, "That was Sam. He said that the FBI apprehended Roger and Pierre late last night. You're out of danger."
She looked almost disappointed, "So I don't need a bodyguard anymore?"
"Fraid not."

Sheridan stood up and walked towards him, "But…what if I still want one?"
He grinned and wrapped his arms around her, "I think something could be arranged…"
With a little laugh she backed away, "That will have to wait until after breakfast. I'm starved!"
Luis gestured towards the pancakes, "Taste what a *real* breakfast is like."
She scoffed at him and sat down, eagerly cutting into the pancakes. He sat down across from her and smirked as she bit into the pancake.
"Good?" he asked in an amused tone.
Then he stared in horror as she suddenly keeled over, slumping onto the table.




Lopez-Fitzgerald Residence

"…A month from tomorrow?" Theresa said into the phone, scribbling frantically onto a pad of paper, "Yes, that's fine…Yes, I'll start with the arrangements right away Mrs. Crane…Thank you."
She hung up just as Whitney strolled in the front door.
"What's a month from tomorrow?" Whitney asked suspiciously.
"The wedding," Theresa was smiling mischievously, "Of course, there isn't going to be a wedding, but they don't know that yet…"
Whitney shook her head, exasperated, "Theresa…I don't even know what to say anymore. I've run out of things to say to try and convince you to give up this ridiculous pursuit!"
"In one month, I will be walking down the isle at the biggest wedding EVER in Harmony. But I won't be the maid of honor. I'll be the bride, and Ethan will be my groom."
Whitney sighed loudly at the dreamy expression on her friend's face, "Theresa…I give up. That's it. I quit."
"You'll see," Theresa smiled, "You'll see."
"You're still forgetting that your brother is going to be AT the wedding, and he still has no idea you even KNOW Ethan!"

Theresa sighed, "I have a month to figure out how to tell him. If only I could figure out how…"
"Theresa, there is no way to tell Luis that you're the maid of honor at Gwen's wedding without him going nuts. I'm sorry, but you're stuck in this one."
"But I LOVE Ethan!"
Whitney threw her arms in the air, "I KNOW. You've told me MANY TIMES."
"I just have this feeling that when I tell Luis, he's not going to mind."
"This is why you're considered delusional Theresa…there is no way that Luis is going to take this news easily unless he's unconscious!"
Theresa raised an eyebrow, "That could work."
"Theresa, NO. You are NOT going to be knocking your brother out."
"But-"
"He'd only come after you when he wakes up."
Theresa sighed again, "You're right. Maybe if I tied him up-"
"Theresa!"
"You're right, this isn't right," Theresa's eyes began to fill up with tears, "But I know everything is going to work out in the end. It HAS to. Fate won't let me down now."

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