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Return of the Prodigals
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Return of the Prodigals
by Twig

Harmony Church

"All right," Rebecca was bustling around, "The caterers have brought everything to the mansion, we've got drinks set up in the back of the church…some annoyingly cheery redhead dropped off this frightful looking concoction she called a tomato soup cake, and…Gwen? Gwen? GWEN!"
Gwen, decked out in her beautiful white wedding gown, was chasing Bradley around the church.
"GIVE ME BACK THAT RING!" she screamed, lunging at her brother.
"Bradley! Gwen! Stop it!" Rebecca cried, horrified.
Gwen paused in her frantic pursuit, brushing her hair out of her eyes, a furious look on her face, "Mother, Bradley and Joshua are doing everything in their power to sabotage my wedding!"
"Gwen, you aren't going to HAVE a wedding if you don't do something about Theresa! Her whole family is lined up to get a piece of the Cranes, I swear it—"
"Mother, I am getting married today! Everything is going perfectly!"
Rebecca sighed, wondering where her daughter got her intelligence, or lack thereof, from.




"Dum dum da dum," Amanda poked Ethan in the back as they got out of the limo and headed towards the church.
"Shut up," Ethan snapped, his temper shorter than usual.
"What's gotten into him?" Noah whispered as he laced his fingers through Amanda's, walking with her into the chapel.
"He's got a bad case of the pre-wedding-groom-decides-he-doesn't-want-to-get-married-jitters."
Noah sighed, "That can't be good."
"Depends on who you ask."
Noah raised an eyebrow, "I'm asking you."
Amanda laughed, "In MY humble opinion, Ethan is doing himself a real big favor if he calls of the wedding."
"Doing himself a favor, or doing YOU a favor?" Noah grinned.
Amanda shrugged innocently, "Can I help it if I don't want Gwen Hotchkiss as a sister-in-law?"
Noah simply shook his head as they made their way into the church.

Ivy glared at Julian, who was busily straightening his bow tie.
"Ivy, my dear, no need to look so hostile. We've finally succeeded. Ethan and Gwen are getting married today."
Ivy continued to glare.
"Ivy?" Julian was getting nervous, "Ivy, what is it?"
Ivy simply narrowed her eyes.
Julian backed away slowly, "Ivy…?"
Ivy crossed her arms and made her glare even more icy, if that was possible.
Julian glanced over his shoulder and breathed a sigh of relief. It wasn't him that she was glaring at after all, it was William. And William was glaring right back at her, sporting his baseball cap defiantly on his head.
After a moment of standing rather nervously in the crossfire, Julian stepped forward and took Ivy's arm, "Ah...Ivy...DEAR…why don't we go look around the church? Make sure everything is in order?"
Ivy nodded slowly but did not tear her gaze away from William.

"Ivy," Julian hissed as soon as they were away from the rapidly growing crowd of people, "Would you stop making a scene?"
"I'm making a scene?" Ivy practically exploded, "William over there is wearing a backwards baseball cap to the WEDDING!"
"Don't you think I realize that?!" Julian hissed back, attempting not to attract any attention to them, "Father is going to have both of our heads!"
"Speaking of Alistair, where is he?"
Julian cringed, "He should be here shortly."
Ivy nodded, "Well, I'd recommend that you un-rebel-ize that son of yours, and FAST, before Alistair decides that not only are you not good enough to be his heir, but you're not good enough to live in the mansion either."
Julian shuddered, "Aren't you optimistic today DARLING."
Ivy ignored him and headed back towards the church doors. Perhaps she could spot Sam as he was arriving and get him alone for a few minutes…
"Ivy?" Julian called from behind her.
Annoyed, she turned around, "WHAT Julian?"
Julian stepped tentatively towards her, "Ivy, why are you always mean to me?"
"You have GOT to be kidding me," she scoffed.
Julian was very serious as he continued in a small voice, "I try to amuse you…to make you laugh…"
"JULIAN! I despise you!"
"Ivy, I had hopes that our son's wedding would bring about a…mending of fences so to speak."
Ivy stared at him as though he had sprouted another head, "Julian, where on earth is this coming from?!"
"Ivy, I want you to accept this as a peace offering."

Ivy stared dubiously at the small yellow flower he was holding out to her.
"Julian—"
"Ivy, just take the flower and say you'll be civil to me."
Ivy rolled her eyes and snatched the flower out of Julian's hand, "Fine, Julian I'll be civil to you. Are you happy now?"
Julian smiled and headed back towards the church.
Ivy glanced down at the flower in her hand and brought it up to her face, inhaling deeply. But there was no pleasant scent. Confused, she gave the yellow blossom a closer inspection.
"Julian!" she snapped suddenly, causing him to turn around.
"Yes Ivy?"
"Is this…a dandelion?"
Julian shrugged sheepishly, "it was the only thing around that resembled a flower—"
"You gave me…a dandelion?"
Julian looked annoyed, "Stop acting as though I gave you a dead mongoose! Haven't you ever heard of, it's the thought that counts?"
"JULIAN, I AM ALLERGIC TO DANDELIONS!"
She punctuated her sentence with an explosive sneeze
Julian frowned, "Oh."
Ivy sneezed again, and Julian lunged forward and plucked the flower out of her hand, tossing it aside. Yet the sneezing didn't stop.
Julian looked heavenward. As if things couldn't possibly get worse…




"When is this wedding thing going to be over with?" Paloma fidgeted in her seat.
"Stop acting like a three year old," Luis admonished.
"You have no idea how much I hate formal events," Paloma sighed, "no idea at all."
"This one is going to be rather interesting," Luis said softly, glancing to the back of the chapel where Sheridan was hiding inside one of the rooms.
"Hijo, are you sure this is the best thing to do?" Pilar said worriedly, "I'd hate to see anything happen to—"
Luis stood up, "I'm sure, mama. And I'm going back there right now, and we're going to put an end to this charade."
He made his way through the gathering crowd.
"Hey, he looks familiar," Paloma pointed to Miguel, who was heading over to sit with the Bennetts.
"Miguel!" Pilar hissed, "Miguel, come sit over here!"
Miguel sighed and redirected his route over to where Pilar and Paloma sat. He glanced curiously at Paloma.
"Who are you?"
Paloma heaved a sigh, "I'm your SISTER!"
Miguel paused for a moment, "Um…"
"Paloma!" she said impatiently, "I'm Paloma!"
"Oh!" Miguel's face lit up and he hugged her, "Paloma, welcome home!"
She sighed and hugged him back.




Sheridan glanced up as Luis slipped into the janitor's closet.
"Are you ready to do this?" he asked her softly, wrapping his arms around her.
She hugged him tightly for a moment before stepping back with a determined look on her face, "Yes. I'm tired of being 'dead'."
Luis peeked through the door, watching as the crowds parted for someone who was entering the church. He scowled.
"Alistair Crane has just arrived."
Sheridan took a deep breath, "Let's get this show on the road."
Luis shifted nervously, "You're sure—"
"Luis, there's no turning back now. I'm here, and I have every intention of staying. Besides…I want to see Ethan get married."
He grinned at her, "Always an ulterior motive."
"Believe me Luis, I have a LOT of ulterior motives…" she reached up and captured his lips in an intoxicating kiss.
After a moment, he pulled away, breathing hard, "You keep that up, and we're not going to make it out there to see the wedding."
Sheridan smiled at him and took his hand, "Let's go."
He nodded and opened the door.




"ACHOO! ACHOO!" Ivy was sneezing uncontrollably, causing the others in the church to turn and stare. Julian meekly handed her a tissue.
"Ivy, please, you're going to ruin the wedding—" he attempted weakly.
"JULIAN!" Ivy glared at him through red-rimmed eyes, "Don't you even start with me. This is all your fault! ACHOO!"
"Look at it this way Ivy, things can't get any worse—"
"EXCUSE ME everyone, I've got an announcement to make," they turned in surprise at the sound of Luis' voice.
A hush fell over the group of people gathered in the church as they saw just who was standing with him.

"Good god," Julian groaned, burying his face in his hands.
Ivy smirked, "Well Julian, looks like your plan wasn't so foolproof after all. ACHOO!"
Alistair Crane leapt from his seat, his face hidden by a convenient ray of sunlight. His voice was shaking with rage as he spoke, "Officer Lopez-Fitzgerald…WHAT have you done with my daughter? Leading us to believe that she was dead."
"That's real funny," Sheridan spat angrily, "Don't even try to deny it, FATHER. You tried to have me killed."
Alistair shot a murderous look in Julian's direction.
"Of course I wouldn't do that," he said smoothly, "You're my precious daughter. I don't know what that cop has been filling your head with, but—"
"That's enough," Luis said coldly, "Just know that if you EVER attempt to hurt Sheridan again, I swear, nothing will stop me from tearing you apart."
Alistair did not so much as flinch, but his expression shifted subtly.
"I would never dream of it," he said, sitting back down in the pew next to Julian, who cringed nervously away.




Luis, smiling smugly, took his seat with his family, Sheridan sliding into the seat next to him.
"Mildly interesting," Paloma conceded reluctantly.
Ethan, who was still standing at the altar, seemed to recover from his shocked stupor, bolting down the isle and grabbing Sheridan into a bear hug.
"Ethan…Ethan I'm alive. I'm fine, Ethan, really. You don't have to choke me—" she said helplessly as he clutched her tighter.
Moments later the rest of the Crane children had converged on her, even William.




Organ music drifted through the church, sending everyone scurrying back to their seats. Then the procession started.
Paloma shook her head in amusement as Theresa came walking down the isle in her lovely dress. She made a beeline for Ethan, only at the last moment stepping off to the side. The adoration she held for the Crane heir was written plainly all over her face, and tears slowly trickled down her face.
Everyone then watched Gwen as she pranced down the isle, grinning broadly at Ethan. As she reached the altar, Ethan gulped nervously, feeling himself break into a cold sweat. He couldn't do this…
"Dearly beloved," Father Lonigan said loudly, staring blindly, "We are gathered here to celebrate the union between Ethan Crane and Gwen Hotchkiss in holy matrimony…"

Whitney watched with concern as Theresa's face crumpled slowly. The closer Ethan got to actually marrying Gwen, the more the girl looked like someone had just run over her favorite dog.
"How could fate do this to me…" Theresa whispered brokenly, watching as Ethan and Gwen inched closer and closer towards saying the words that would finalize their union.
"If anyone has any objections, speak now, or forever hold your peace," Father Lonigan said clearly.
Theresa glanced up at Ethan through her tear-blurred eyes. Was he looking at her? Did he want her to object? No, of course not, she told herself.
"I've been kidding myself this whole time. Ethan never loved me…" she sniffled.

Ethan's hands were shaking and he reached up to tug at his bow tie, "Gw-Gwen?"
Gwen looked up, startled, "What is it, Ethan?"
"Gwen, I can't do thi—"
"GWEN!" the doors burst open and a figure ran in, panting desperately, "GWEN, DON'T DO IT! Don't marry him!"
Ethan, startled, took a step backward. Everyone stared in shock at the young man who bolted up the isle to stand before Gwen.
"Gwen, don't marry him," he said, gasping for air, "I love you."
Gwen's eyes bugged almost out of her head, but she wasn't saying anything. She looked from the handsome, dark haired man to Ethan, a look of panic written across her features.
"Gwen?" Ethan said slowly, pronouncing it GWINN, "Who is he?"
The man stared up at Gwen with desperation in his eyes, "Gwen…please…"
The chapel was dead silent as Gwen took a deep breath and opened her mouth to speak.




Harmony Church

"Gwen, I'm serious," Ethan sounded rather angry now, "Who is this guy?"
Gwen fidgeted with the hem of her dress, looking from the man she had been about to marry to the man who stood in front of her now.
"This…this is…"
Theresa was watching the unfolding drama with wide eyes, a grin spreading across her face, "It's fate…"
Gwen grimaced as she glanced over at Ethan again, "Ethan, darling, you know all those business trips I took to New York…"
"Yeah…?"
Gwen took a deep breath, "Being apart from you for all that time…I…well I got kind of lonely, and…well, Antonio here is a wealthy lawyer, we sort of hit it off…I swear I never meant to hurt you Ethan, but—"
"Gwen," the man she had identified as Antonio said, "I've given our last conversation a lot of thought. I can't live without you in my life. Please don't marry him!"
Gwen bit her lip, "Well—"
Suddenly, Luis stood up, "ANTONIO?!"
Pilar stood up behind him, "ANTONIO?!"
Suddenly it clicked to Theresa why he looked so familiar, "ANTONIO?!"
Miguel scratched his head but suddenly it all fell into place, "ANTONO!"
Paloma sighed, standing up and waving her arms in the air for dramatic effect, "ANTONIO!"
Antonio blanched, "Luis? Mama? Theresa? Miguel? PALOMA?!"
Gwen blinked in surprise, "You KNOW them?"

Antonio backed away slowly, "Oh…my…god…"
Then he turned and fled back down the isle.
Gwen stared after him for a moment, pausing to look back at Ethan. Then she turned and bolted down the isle after him, "ANTONIOOOOOOO!!!"
They both disappeared out the church doors.

Rebecca Hotchkiss stood up, her face pale, as she held one hand to her chest, "My Gwennie…ran off with…a Lopez-Fitzgerald?"
"Yes, she did," Amanda turned around and said gleefully.
A gasp went up through the group as Rebecca fainted dead away.
Theresa ran up to Ethan, shaking with her excitement, tears of joy already filling her eyes, making them sparkle in the dim chapel lights.
"Ethan…it's fate…"
Ethan was still staring stupidly back up the isle where Gwen had disappeared, chasing after the long-lost Lopez-Fitzgerald.
"Ethan?" she tugged on the arm of his tuxedo jacket.
Ethan turned his gaze to her, his expression blank, "Gwen…left me?"
She nodded enthusiastically.
"She left me…before I got a chance to call off the wedding?"
There was another gasp as Ivy let out a loud sneeze and then fainted dead away.
"You were going to call off the wedding? For…for me?"
Ethan nodded slowly, "Yes, Theresa, I was."

Luis tensed in his seat, and Sheridan grabbed his arm, "Luis…do NOT do this now."
"Ethan," Theresa whispered, still gazing soulfully at him.
Suddenly, it was all clear to him, the whole "fate" line that Theresa had always been so adamant about. Surely that was the only explanation for the events that had just occurred. Fate. He smiled slowly. Fate. He kind of liked that.
"Theresa," he said softly, "I think…I think you were right, about this being fate. I think…I think I'm in love with you."
If anyone had thought that Theresa's smile could not get any wider, she proved them all wrong.

Whitney turned in her seat to scan the crowd for Chad, and she finally spotted him. He was watching the unfolding scene with a smug grin. Seemingly feeling her gaze, he turned to look at her, and he winked.
She shook her head slowly, a small smile gracing her face. Then she turned back to watch what was happening.

Ethan leaned forward slowly, painfully slowly, intending to kiss Theresa. But that was the final straw for Luis, the added stress of his long-lost brother appearing and disappearing again finally causing his already strained patience to finally snap.
"WHAT do you think you're doing?!"
Theresa looked over towards Luis, and then back at Ethan, who was glaring at her brother. Deciding that there was only one thing she could do to remedy the situation, she grabbed Ethan and kissed him.
Luis practically flew across the church, with every intention of ripping the younger Crane to shreds. Sheridan, knowing that her nephew didn't stand a chance against Luis, did the only thing she could do. She grabbed Luis' arm and pulled him back to her, kissing him soundly. He was powerless to resist and melted into her embrace.

Paloma, who had been silent throughout the whole ordeal, finally turned to look at Pilar, a huge grin on her face.
"Now THAT was interesting."

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