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Return of the Prodigals
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Return of the Prodigals
by Twig

Bwizville Manor

Luis stood very still, his entire body numb. His surroundings ceased to be important as his gaze fixed on the one person he had thought he would never see again…the one person whose death had left his heart split open and bleeding. It was as if this was some sort of cruel joke, and yet if it were a joke, the punchline was everything he'd always wanted and more.
"Luis…" Sheridan said softly, reaching out and touching his arm, "Luis, say something."
He opened his mouth to speak, but found that nothing came out but a low gurgling noise. His hands shook as he stared at her, and he felt the color drain from his face. Reaching one trembling hand out he touched her face, running his fingers along her cheek.
"Is…Is it really you?"
She closed her eyes and leaned into his touch, "It's really me."
Then he reached forward and pulled her into a crushing embrace, unable to think to do anything more. She hugged him back fiercely, running her hands down his back. She had known, as soon as she saw him walk into the party, that she should have stayed away…and yet like a moth is drawn to flame she was drawn to him. His face, the only face in the entire crowd of people that she had actually recognized, had seemed to beckon to her, tugging at her heard the moment he was in her line of vision. Everything that had happened in the past few weeks…everything Julian had instructed her to do…everything that she in her heart knew was the sane and rational thing to do flew out the window and the only thing left was Luis. So she had gone to him.

Not releasing her from his desperate grasp, Luis whispered, "How?"
The soft, almost childlike way he asked the question caused something to snap in her heart and she felt the tears prickling at the corners of her eyes. Instead of answering him, she leaned back a little and captured his lips with hers.





"Hey," Sara said suddenly, as Paloma retrieved her suitcase from underneath a table, "It looks like your brother's struck up a conversation with that secretary."
"Oh god," Paloma groaned, "What did you say to them?!"
"Charming how you seem to think that I'm responsible for everything that goes on here. I think you give me WAY too much credit."
Paloma sighed and glanced over to where her friend was staring, just in time to see Luis envelop the blond woman in a crushing embrace.
"Awww," Sara said loudly, "They're bonding."
"Bonding?!" Paloma exclaimed, watching in disbelief as the two suddenly began kissing as though they were the only people in the room, "I'd say they're doing a bit more than bonding!"
Sara raised her eyebrows, "You have a point. So will you now admit that I have a distinct knack for this matchmaking thing?!"
"You had nothing to do with that," Paloma pointed out.
"Yes I know, but I TOLD you that those two were perfect for each other, before I'd spoken a word to either of them. And LOOK at them! Surely, you aren't going to argue with me over this."
Paloma reluctantly conceded, "I don't suppose there's any way I could. But I suppose I'd better go break them apart before they make a scene."
"They're ALREADY making a scene," Sara declared, waving her arms at the pair standing off to the side. People had stopped dancing to stare at them.

"I will NEVER live this down," Paloma sighed, as she caught Ruth Green shooting a disapproving look at Luis and the blond lady.
"Yeah…gives old Ruth Green another reason to hate you. Lucky I'M not related to any of these people," Sara chuckled.
"Believe me, you don't need your relatives to get you into trouble. Now are you going to help me snap those two out of la la land, or do I have to do this on my own?"





Oh god, Luis thought as he kissed Sheridan, if this is a dream, I don't ever want to wake up. He didn't want to think about opening his eyes to the cold gray world his life had become without her there.
"AHEM."
The noise came from behind him, and Luis reluctantly tore himself away from Sheridan to come face to face with…his fifteen-year-old sister.
"Are you two through?" Paloma asked in amusement.
Sheridan, red faced with embarrassment, buried her face in Luis' shoulder, and he relished the feeling. If his sister could see her, then maybe she wasn't really dead…maybe he wasn't really dreaming…
"So?" Paloma pressed, "Are you going to introduce me to your…ahem…friend?"
"You see her?" he finally asked, unable to keep the desperate hope from his voice as he clutched Sheridan tighter.
"How could we miss her?" Sara piped up, "You two weren't exactly being…subtle about this whole thing."
"Luis," Sheridan whispered softly, "I'm real. I swear to you…I’m really here."

"Paloma…" he finally said with a cough, "This is…this is Sheridan Crane. Sheridan, this is my sister, Paloma Lopez-Fitzgerald."
Sheridan stepped back from Luis slightly and studied the younger girl in front of her and suddenly it all clicked. The candy striper at the hospital where she had gotten a job…the one who was always shooting her strange looks when she thought she wasn't looking.
*I can't believe* she thought to herself, *that of all the towns I chose to go to, I ended up in the one where Luis' sister lives.*
It truly seemed that fate had a hand in their lives.

It took a moment for what Luis had just said to register with Paloma, "Sheridan…CRANE?! You mean, this is…?"
He nodded slowly, still clutching Sheridan's hand tightly, "Yes, it is."
"But I thought she was dead!"
Luis winced at the words, as the pain of the last few weeks assaulted his senses, "So did I."
He ended his sentence by looking pointedly at Sheridan.
She sighed, "I guess I've got some explaining to do."




Crane Mansion

"Fine Ivy…fine…you want the couch that badly, then TAKE it," Julian pouted, regarding her with an annoyed expression.
Ivy glanced up from where she was reclining comfortably on the sofa, "Well thank you Julian, I wasn't aware that I needed your permission."
Julian stood in front of her, arms crossed. Ivy ignored him and closed her eyes, before beginning to chuckle, endlessly amused.
"WHAT do you find so amusing, DEAR?" Julian grumbled.
Ivy continued to ignore him, cackling louder.
Julian began to feel self-conscious. He glanced down at his outfit, and then reached a hand up to touch his hair. All seemed in order…
Ivy abruptly ceased laughing and glared at him, "Julian, please go away. If your face is the last thing I have to see before I go to sleep, I'm going to have nightmares!"
"I could always change your opinion…" he raised an eyebrow suggestively.
Ivy rolled her eyes, "Honestly Julian, do you EVER give up?"
Julian sighed and turned around, staring up at the ceiling.

After a moment, Ivy closed her eyes. Julian sighed and moved over to the window, peering at the board that Ivy had managed to loosen enough to dump the brandy through. The opening was much too small to crawl through, but maybe if he pushed a little…
"WHERE do you think you're going?!" William's face appeared between the wooden planks, causing Julian to leap backward, shocked. His foot hit the lamp, sending it toppling over onto the couch.
"YEEEEEAHHHHHHH!" Ivy leapt up, sending pillows flying.
"BWAHHHHHHHHHH!" was Julian's startled response, as he backed away further, tangling himself up in the blanket and tumbling to the floor in a heap.
Ivy stood, arms crossed, looking from her amused, rebellious son, to her unfortunate husband.
"William," she said finally, "Was this REALLY necessary?"
"I enjoy torturing Father," he said through the window with an evil grin.
"But you're torturing ME," Ivy sighed.
William's response was to shove the loose plank back in place.
"To think I was actually starting to LIKE you," Ivy glared at the boarded up window.

Julian stirred on the floor, sitting up.
"For that," he declared, "I am taking the couch."
Ivy merely waved her arm, "Go ahead Julian. Your tired antics are boring me."
Julian harrumphed and flopped down on the couch. Ivy stomped over to his desk and sat down in his chair, which squeaked loudly.
Julian opened one eye briefly, the closed it when no further noise came.
After a few moments of sulking, Ivy glanced over at her sleeping husband, and then down at the desk. She grinned widely and pulled open one of the drawers.
"Hmmm…" she said loudly as she rifled through the papers, "Verrrry interesting…"
She continued to go through several overstuffed file folders, "Well, isn't THIS something the tabloids would be interested to know—"
"THAT'S IT!" Julian leapt up from the couch and stomped over to the desk, snatching the papers out of Ivy's hands, "TAKE THE COUCH! JUST FOR GOD'S SAKE STOP SNOOPING AROUND!"
Ivy pretended to be hurt, "Why, Julian, whatever happened to the part about sharing everything?"
Julian simply narrowed his eyes and sat down on the chair. Ivy, grinning, sauntered over to the couch.

"I don't see why you have to be so vengeful," Julian finally said with a pout, as he glared at her from across the room.
Ivy opened one eye, "Julian, I have long since given up any hope of discovering that you have a heart. I'm merely looking out for myself."
"I have a heart!"
"And killing your sister is a WONDERFUL way to let that show," Ivy closed her eyes with a huff.
"Ivy, I've been trying to tell you—"
"SAVE IT JULIAN! Whatever your excuse is, I DO NOT want to hear it."
"Ivy would you just shut up and listen to me for a moment—"
"DO NOT tell me to shut up, Julian, you long ago gave up any kind of authority you might have had on me—"
"Ivy, if you weren't so hell bent on ruining my life you might actually learn—"
"Hell bent on ruining YOUR life? Does no one care about MY life anymore?! Having to suffer all these years with you—"
"SUFFER?! You're living in the lap of luxury, I would hardly call that SUFFERING—"
"Having to look at your face every day is not exactly something I ENJOY—"
"Contrary to popular belief, I am not here on this earth merely to make your life miserable. You're doing a pretty damn good job of making ME miserable too, DEAR!"
"You DESERVE to be miserable! Anyone who could kill their own sister and get away with it deserves a hell of a lot more than just misery, but—"
"IVY I DID NOT KILL SHERIDAN!"
Ivy continued her rant, "You and Alistair seem to think that you can just go through life destroying all those who get in your way, but what you did THIS time was beyond low, it was beyond STUPID, it was beyond—what did you say?"
"I SAID," Julian took a deep breath, "That I did not kill Sheridan."
"And I'm supposed to believe that? Then who killed her? The tooth fairy? I'm pretty sure I spotted THAT little costume somewhere in your stash—"
Julian blushed, "Ah…That's beside the point. What I'm trying to say is that Sheridan is not dead!"

Ivy rolled her eyes, "And now you're delusional too! This just keeps getting better…"
"Ivy, I had her leave town because I didn't want to kill her. Father ordered me to and I didn't want to. So I had Eve Russell help me fake her death."
Ivy raised an eyebrow, "EVE helped you fake Sheridan's death?"
"Yes, she did."
"Why on earth would Eve help YOU?!"
Julian sighed heavily, "I merely explained the situation to her, and she was more than willing to help save my dear sister's life—"
Ivy smirked to herself. Eve had just dug herself into a deeper hole than she could have ever imagined. Just wait until it was revealed that she knew this little bit of information…
Julian narrowed his eyes, "Ivy, why are you smiling?"
Ivy was startled out of her little daydream of blackmailing the good doctor Eve Russell. She shot a small smile in Julian's direction, "Just glad that Sheridan is alive."
"I sent her to a small town called Bwizville. No one's ever heard of it before…so I figured there was little chance of her being recognized."
"Yes, it wouldn't do to have her come back, now would it?" Ivy glared at him.
"Father would kill her. And then me. And probably you too, just for good measure."
"Do you have any intention of letting Luis know that the love of his life isn't dead? Or Ethan, for that matter?!"
"No," Julian said flatly, "To be fair, I shouldn't even have told YOU."
"But you did," Ivy whispered to herself, "And how much fun this is going to be…"




Bwizville Manor

"I guess I've got some explaining to do," Sheridan sighed, as she sat down. Luis sat next to her, unsure whether he should be angry that she'd deceived him or overjoyed that she was alive. The emotions bubbling from inside his heart dictated, and he decided that whatever Sheridan had done could be forgiven. He had gotten his wish…he was able to hold her in his arms again. And that was all he could ask.
"Why did you leave?" he asked finally, still holding her hand, reluctant to relinquish the contact, lest she disappear into thin air.
Sheridan took a deep breath, and began to recount the events leading up to her "death".

~~~~~********~~~~~~Flashback~~~~~~********~~~~~

"Sheridan!" Julian called as soon as he was within a few paces of her.
She rolled her eyes, "Julian, what do you want?"
"I need to speak with you about something. This is urgent."
"I've got nothing to say to you," she said coldly, "If you'll excuse me-"
Julian grabbed her arm, "You'll listen to every damn word I have to say! Now come with me."
He all but dragged her across the lawn.

As soon as they were far enough away from the cottage, Sheridan yanked her arm away from her brother's grasp.
"Julian, what the HELL was that about?!"
She glared at him, watching in surprise as he shifted uncomfortably from foot to foot.
"JULIAN!" she finally snapped, and he raised up his head.
"Sheridan," Julian began pushing her towards his sports car, "You need to get out of town."
"What?! Why?"
"I'm going to drive you to a little town called Bwizville. I've called ahead and set up a new identity for you and a bank account. You've got a job as a secretary in the hospital there. Now go."
"Julian, I am not going ANYWHERE. Is this another one of your SICK plans to try and get me away from Luis? It's not going to work—"
"Sheridan, just shut up for a second!" Julian yelled, and she was taken aback by the desperation in his tone. Julian NEVER sounded like that.
"What?" she finally said.
"Father has ordered me to kill you," he said in a low voice.
"He WHAT?! Julian, what the hell kind of game are you playing—"
"I have better things to do than to come down here and joke around with you. Now would you please get in the car before Father realizes that I didn't follow his plan?"
"Don't you think he's going to NOTICE that I'm not dead?" she still balked as he attempted to shove her into the car.
"Not with the plan I've got. I'm going to have your car driven off the road into a ditch, where it will be consumed by fire. Eve Russell is going to confirm that you're dead. And you get to go on living."
They had reached the car and Julian was hurriedly trying to cram her inside.

Sheridan gripped the door tightly, pushing back, "I am NOT leaving! I don't care what you say, my father wouldn't try to kill me!"
"There are a lot of things you don't know about him," Julian said grimly, "and I wouldn't test him if I were you. If you don't get out of here, NOW, he'll not only kill you, I wouldn't be surprised if he offed me AND that bothersome police officer."
She finally quit struggling at the mention of Luis, "I have to at least tell him what's going on—"
"There isn't time!" Julian insisted, "I've got to drive you all the way to Bwizville and get back in time to carry out the other arrangements."
"I can't just LEAVE!" she screamed at him, "I'm not going to let Luis think that I'm dead—"
"That's the only way for Father to buy it. Now lets go. Once you're in Bwizville, you are never to contact ANYONE in Harmony, are we understood?"
She crossed her arms, "Are you telling me that I'm never going to see Luis again? Or Ethan…or anyone?"
"You're young," Julian said dismissively, "You'll get over it. Make new friends. Buy a dog. I don't care what you do, but we have to leave NOW."
And with that he shoved her all the way into the car and slammed the door. Seconds later, he was roaring out of the driveway, and Sheridan watched the cottage disappear behind them as tears tracked slowly down her eyes.

~~~~~********~~~~~~End Flashback~~~~~~********~~~~~

"Wow," Paloma said, her eyes wide, "That's pretty amazing."
"Yeah," Sara nodded her head, "Even weirder that you end up here, where Luis' sister lives."
Sheridan wiped at her eyes, looking over at Luis, "I can't believe you came."
He shrugged, "I tend to have that habit of showing up in unexpected places. Especially where you are concerned."
"Don't I know it," she laughed softly, leaning her head on his shoulder.
"I'll tell you one thing," he said firmly, "I am not letting you out of my sight, EVER again."
"You mean that?"
"Damn straight, I mean that."
"Good," Sheridan smiled, "Because I wasn't too keen on the idea of letting YOU out of MY sight ever again."
"So are you coming back to Harmony with us?" Paloma asked.
Luis and Sheridan exchanged glances.
"I don't know if it's safe-" Luis began.
"Luis, I'm going back," she said with a determined gleam in her eye, "I am not going to let my father run me out of town. Besides, what have I got to fear with Supercop on the case?"
"These past three weeks have been hell," he reluctantly admitted.
"I'm completely in agreement with you in that department," Sheridan bit her lip, thinking about how she had cried herself to sleep night after night, thinking she would never see him again.
"I think…if we do this carefully…you should be all right to come back…"
"And not to be pushy, but I WOULD like to see my nephew get married."

"And I would like to see my sister be the bridesmaid," Paloma piped up.
"That IS why I came here Paloma," Luis sighed.
Sheridan's mouth dropped open, "You know?"
"You KNEW?!"
They stared at each other for a moment before they both began to laugh.
"God, Sheridan, I've missed you," Luis managed to choke out as he hugged her.
She hugged him back tightly, unable to stop laughing.
Paloma and Sara exchanged glances before rolling their eyes.
"Looks like you're gonna be here for a little while longer than you expected," Sara chuckled.
Paloma eyed the reunited couple critically, "I've been forgotten again."
"Join the club."
The two of them wandered off into the crowd, hoping to watch the old couple Ruth and Rufus Green engage in another entertaining dance. Behind them, Luis and Sheridan continued to cling to each other as if the other were slowly but surely fading away.

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