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Return of the Prodigals
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Return of the Prodigals
by Twig

Bennett Residence

"I still don't understand how my house got egged," Miguel said slowly.
Kay smirked slightly, "Oh, Miguel, I'm sure whoever did it will fess up soon. At least we got it all cleaned up before your brother came home. He would have been really mad."
Charity glanced down at the cross Miguel had given her, which was still clutched in her hand. She had found it on the Lopez-Fitzgerald's lawn, coated in raw egg, although she couldn't remember losing it there. In fact, she'd gone to sleep with it on…
"I wonder who did it…" Kay said slowly, fixing her gaze on Charity.
The phone rang loudly, and Noah went to answer it.
Charity fingered the cross again. Was it possible…could she have been the one to egg Miguel's house? She couldn't remember anything of it…but she hadn't remembered anything about what had happened to Jessica either…

"Mom, Dad," Noah said grimly as he hung up the phone, "I've got some bad news."
"Noah, honey, what's wrong?" Grace asked from her place at the stove, "Who was that on the phone?"
"That was Amanda Crane…" he ran his hands through, "She…uh…she told me that Sheridan Crane is dead."
Grace paled, "Oh, that's horrible!"
Sam shook his head slowly, "Luis has got to be going nuts."
"Why is he going nuts?" Hank asked as he came strolling through the door, "Please say it's because Sheridan decided to dump him and come after me." He grinned at his family, but his face fell slowly as he noticed everyone else's grim expressions.
"Hank…" Grace said delicately.
"Hank, Sheridan is dead," Sam blurted out.
Hank froze, "She…she's what?"

"She's dead," Kay said in a stunned voice. She had always liked Sheridan…always thought that Sheridan and Luis had made such a wonderful couple…
Miguel shook his head slowly, "Oh man…I should probably go home…my brother's gotta be heartbroken."
"I'll go with you," Charity offered.
"NO!" Kay snapped, causing Charity and Miguel to pause and glance back at her. "I mean…" she was flustered, "I mean that Luis probably only wants to see his family right now…"
"You're right Kay," Miguel said, standing up, "Charity, I'm sorry. I'll call you later, okay?"
"Okay," Charity nodded, hugging him, "I hope Luis is all right."
He nodded and hurried out the door, pausing briefly to try and remember which way he had to turn to go to his house.




Lopez-Fitzgerald House

"I still can't believe this," Miguel said softly as he straightened his tie.
Theresa nodded glumly, glancing at her reflection in the mirror one last time as they prepared to head out to the funeral.
Pilar, dressed all in black, came out of her room, regarding them both with a somber expression. Her face looked worn and lined, one of many outward signs of the grief she was going through. Sheridan had been like a daughter to her…
"Where's Luis?" Theresa asked quietly.
Pilar bit her lip, "He still hasn't come out of his room. I don't know if he's coming."
"How can he miss the funeral?" Miguel grumbled, "I thought Sheridan was important to him."
Pilar narrowed her eyes, "Mijo, Luis loved Sheridan with all of his heart. That is why he can't bring himself to come out of his room."
"He just doesn't want to say goodbye yet…" Theresa whispered, wiping at her eyes.

The door to Luis' room opened suddenly and he came out, dressed in a black suit. His face was somber, but as he saw his family he weakly attempted to smile.
"Are we ready to go?" he asked in a pained voice.
"Luis, are you all right?" Pilar asked him worriedly.
He shrugged wordlessly, digging his hands into his pockets, "I uh…I guess I kind of have to be, huh?"
He ran his fingers through his hair, struggling to keep his emotions in check as he headed towards the door and held it open for the rest of his family.




Harmony Cemetery

The large group of people stood outside in the gloomy weather, watching as the casket was lowered slowly into the ground. As Ethan stepped up to give a eulogy, the sound of a cell phone ringing interrupted the somber proceedings.
Julian cringed as he picked up the phone, ducking away from the irritated stares of those around him, "Hello?" he whispered.
"Julian, what's going on at the funeral?"
"Father, I can't believe you aren't HERE!" Julian practically yelled, lowering his voice when everyone turned once again to stare at him. He continued in a hushed tone, "Sheridan was you daughter for god's sake, and you couldn't even make the funeral?"
"Don't use that tone with me Julian," Alistair snapped, "I had an important business deal to attend to."
"But-"
"Julian, do not presume to lecture me. Let's not forget which one of us is responsible for this…unfortunate event."
"I'm hanging up," Julian said coldly, turning off his cell phone and tossing it to the side.

Ethan scowled as he took his place by the podium, looking out on the large group that had gathered for the service.
"Um…" his voice wavered as he began, "Sheridan was my aunt…but she was so much more to me than that. We grew up together, and have always been very close. She was more like a sister to me than an aunt, and she was someone I could always go to with my problems, just like she knew that she could always turn to me." He took a shaky breath and glanced down once more, catching Theresa's eye. She nodded encouragingly at him and he went on, "There are so many memories of her that I will cherish…and I know that she will be missed by so many people here who loved her-" he looked pointedly at Luis, who was standing somewhat to the side, his expression stony. At Ethan's words, Luis glanced up quickly and then ducked his head down slightly, as if to hide the tears that were coursing silently down his cheeks.
Ethan sighed and continued the speech he had rehearsed, "Her death has left a void in my life that can not be filled…but I hope that the memories of what a kind, generous, and loving person that she was will be enough to carry us all through the forthcoming years." He sniffed slightly, wiping at his eyes, struggling mightily to stay in control over his emotions until he left the spotlight.

Ivy hugged her precious son close to her as soon as he rejoined the group. Ethan clutched her coat like a small boy, sobbing into her shoulder. Amanda came up behind him and touched his shoulder reassuringly, doing her best to smile bravely through her own tears.
William was kicking at the ground, in no hurry to spoil his rebel image by breaking down. And yet he felt close to breaking inside. Earlier that morning, instead of crying or seeking comfort, he had let out all of his pent up anger and grief by tearing apart his room. Yet a feeling of helplessness and despair was once again settling over him, and without warning he whirled around on his heel and stalked off, in search of some release from the pressing grief.
Elizabeth and Stephanie exchanged glances and headed over to where Luis was standing by himself, looking lost.
"I'm sorry," Stephanie whispered, reaching up and hugging him. Elizabeth followed suit.
Luis thought that his heart would surely crack in two at the sweet gesture, but he did his best to smile down at them and thank them.
"I'm sorry too," he said softly, redirecting his stare to where the casket had disappeared into the earth.

Slowly the crowds began to dissipate, and when she saw that Luis showed no signs of going anywhere, Pilar walked over to him and touched his shoulder.
"Luis? Are you ready to go?"
Luis blinked at her, looking as though he had just awaken from some dream, "Huh?"
"Are you ready to leave, hijo?"
He shook his head slowly, "No…You go ahead. I'm just gonna stay here for a while."
Pilar nodded and turned back to where Theresa and Miguel were standing. Slowly they too left, until Luis was the only one standing in the cemetery.
"Hey," he whispered brokenly, crouching down in front of the headstone and reaching out to touch the marble with one finger. "Hey, Sheridan, I just…I want you to know that I love you, no matter what. I always will love you-" his voice cracked but he went on, "You've made such a difference in my life. I just needed you to know that…and I'm sorry I never told you sooner." He paused and looked at the gravestone before his face completely crumpled, "Please come back…" he whimpered, "Come back…"
Then he leaned his head against the gravestone and sobbed, with no one to hear him but the lonely sky.

It was dark before Luis finally had enough strength to climb to his feet and leave the cemetery, looking back at the gravestone one last time.




Lopez-Fitzgerald Residence

The next three weeks blurred together, as those close to Sheridan did their best to put her death behind them. As the wedding date rapidly approached, Theresa suddenly found herself fretting over the fact that she had less than a week to inform her brother that she was supposed to be the maid of honor.
"Theresa," Whitney said softly, "Why don't you just tell Gwen that you CAN'T be her maid of honor. Given the circumstances, I'm sure she'll understand-"
"I can't do that," Theresa was horrified, "It's so close to the wedding now! What will she do without a maid of honor?!"
"Theresa, like you REALLY plan on helping her out," Whitney rolled her eyes, "You're intending to steal her groom right out from under her nose. Why don't you just save yourself the heartbreak and tell her no?"
Theresa shook her head stubbornly.
"Then do it for your brother," Whitney waved her hand in the air, "He's got so much to deal with right now…what do you think this will do to him?"
Theresa glanced into the living room at Luis, who was sitting on the couch, staring blankly at a photo of himself and Sheridan. He had hardly spoken at all since the funeral.

"I have an idea," she said suddenly, strolling into the room and sitting down next to Luis, her face hopeful.
Whitney sighed and leaned against the doorway.
"Luis," Theresa began, smoothing her hands over her skirt, "I have something very important to tell you."
He raised his gaze to meet hers and she shivered when she saw the pain reflected in his brown eyes. Yet she pressed on, "Luis, I've been working for the Cranes for almost a year now, I'm in love with Ethan, and I'm the maid of honor at Gwen's wedding." She said in a rush.
Luis blinked, not really giving any sign that he'd comprehended her at all. He glanced down at the picture he clutched in his hands once more. "That's nice, Theresa," he said dully, not looking up again.
Theresa beamed and stood up, bouncing over to where Whitney was standing.
"See?" she said brightly, "I told you it would work out!"
Whitney stared at her best friend, aghast, "Theresa, that was a HORRIBLE thing to do! How could you be so insensitive to your own brother?!"
Theresa shrugged innocently, "He was accepting, wasn't he?"
"Only because he's so grief-stricken that he has no idea what you're saying!" Whitney snapped, "Theresa, that was low, even for you."
Theresa looked wounded, "I only did it for Ethan and I."
"No, you only did it for yourself."
And with that Whitney turned on heel and stomped out of the house, leaving Theresa standing there with a crestfallen expression.




Lopez-Fitzgerald Residence

Luis glanced up as he heard the door slam behind him, and turned to see Theresa, looking stunned, staring at it.
"She's just overwhelmed by it all," Theresa said to herself, "Once she sees how happy Ethan and I are, she'll realize that I did the right thing." And with a happy little smile, Theresa skipped down the hall to her room.
Luis sat still for a moment longer, attempting to recall what it was that his sister had just said to him. He hadn't exactly been paying attention to her, yet it kept nagging at him that she had actually said something important.
Suddenly, it dawned on him.
"WHAT DID YOU SAY?!" he yelled, standing up, all of the grief and pain that he'd been bottling up suddenly exploding to the surface.
Theresa cringed and locked her door, "Well…Luis will get over it."
Luis stood in the middle of the living room for a moment, running his hands through his hair. Then he turned and stalked out of the house.




Bennett Residence

Charity stood in her room, staring in horror at a picture of Miguel that was hanging on her wall. Someone had cut jagged lines down the center of the picture, and the words DIE MIGUEL DIE were emblazoned in bright pink lipstick on her wall. Shivering she reached into her pocketbook, pulling out her lipstick and examining it. Sure enough, it was squashed into a waxy pulp.
"I…I did this…" she said out loud, covering her mouth in terror, "Oh my god, what's happening to me?"

Kay stood outside the room, biting her hand to keep from laughing out loud. Oh, everything was going according to plan…
"Kay, I still think this is horrible," Simone sighed.
"LOOK at her," Kay laughed, "She's completely nuts!"
"No, she isn't. YOU are completely nuts! You're the one who's been doing these terrible things to people and leading Charity to believe that she's responsible."
"Just one more push, and the girl will be in the mental institution. You just watch."
"I'm glad I'm not your cousin," Simone shuddered, but she continued to stare at Charity, fascinated.
"Simone, you should be happy for me," Kay said with a smirk, her eyes not leaving the unfolding drama in Charity's room, "I'm going to have everything I've ever wanted."
"Sure you are," Simone sighed. "Isn't your mother going to notice that her sleeping pill supply is rapidly diminishing?
"That's not going to matter, Simone. Just watch and learn," Kay snickered.
"Oh no, what are you up to now?"
Kay raised an eyebrow and withdrew something from behind her back. Then, with a little laugh, she strolled into Charity's room.

"Charity!" she exclaimed with faux horror, "What did you do that for?!"
Charity, her eyes wide, looked from the picture on the wall to her cousin, "I don't know…I can't remember…"
"Well I hope you can remember THIS," Kay said angrily, holding up one of her nice dresses. There was a huge rip down one side, and pink lipstick was squiggled across the front.
Charity touched the dress, "What happened?"
"YOU happened, Charity," Kay snapped, "I woke up last night and you were in my room, going at my wardrobe with a pair of scissors!"
"I…I was?"
"Yes, you were!" Kay crossed her arms, "Now Charity, I'm not going to bring my mom and dad in on this because I don't want you to get in trouble, but please explain to me why you seem to hate me so much!"
In the hall, Simone raised an eyebrow. She had to hand it to Kay, the girl could put on a show.
"I don't hate you Kay…I really can't remember…" Charity sounded lost.
"Yeah? Well maybe you're just going crazy then," Kay said lightly, "You might want to take down that picture before Miguel gets here. I'm not too sure he'd be very happy to see that."
Then she flitted out of the room.

Simone shook her head, "You are evil, Kay. You really are."
"Just wait…" Kay counted off the seconds on her fingers.
Charity tore the picture on the wall, and saw what was concealed behind it. Then she threw back her head and began to scream hysterically.
Kay pumped her fist in the air.
Simone's eyes bugged out of her head, "Kay, what did you do?"
Sam and Grace bolted up the stairs.
"Why is Charity screaming?" Sam yelled, holding his gun in his hand.
Kay scowled, "She's having a complete meltdown."
Grace ran into the room and attempted to comfort Charity, who was still shrieking her head off.
"Charity, Charity calm down!" Grace soothed, but her words had no effect.
Kay snickered and took Simone's arm, leading her away from the door. Behind them, Charity continued to scream and scream.

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