Chapter 1

Stefano returns one of the prisoners.

It had been a year since that fateful day that Julian Crane turned over Lexie Carver, Baby Theo Carver, and the highly annoying Liz Sanbourne, to Stefano DiMera. It had been a year since Pilar, and her family, finally found proof that Martin Fitzgerald, beloved husband of Pilar, and father of Antonio, Luis, Teresa and Miguel, was indeed dead. The family laid him to rest, with friends and family in attendance. Pilar never gave up, trying to figure out how her husband ended up inside a brick pillar. It had been a year, since Fox and Whitney got married, and moved into the guest house on the Crane Estate. It had been a year since Julian and Fox, were able to force Austin out of Crane Industries with proof of Alistair being alive. Austin left town shortly after, returning to Salem. Teresa, was in no shape to accept the young man's kind offer of love and adoration, as she was still so shocked and hurt over her father's death.

Other events happened within that year. Julian, took up where Tony left off, and had both Eve and his own respective marriage, dissolved quickly, and the two were married in a small ceremony, with only select family and friends in attendance. That meant Sheridan, and a reluctant Luis(he liked Eve, but he still hated Julian's guts!). Celeste, Whitney and Fox. Simone refused to attend, and T.C., was off with John Black. Both men were still trying to find the women they loved, Marlena and Lexie.

Tony, unfortunately, got off, since Alistair wasn't really dead. And that was actually verified, when Stefano called Julian one last time. Julian had been appalled and did not want to know how the prisoners were! He wanted to forget all about his part in that fiasco! Stefano told him that he would send part of Alistair's finger(yes, another finger!), through the mail, to show proof that the Crane patriarch, was indeed alive. Stefano did as was promised, much to the disgust of Luis and Sam.

Tony also escaped being brought up on attempted murder charges, by bringing in a doctor, who claimed that Tony's blood disease had returned, yet again! Tony returned to Salem, but vowed to get back at Eve and Julian, for making a fool out of him. Julian replying that 'he did that so well himself', made things worse!

And finally, the birth of the twins, was a much awaited event, though Eve suspected that it was only much awaited, just to her and Julian. Julian, used his clout in the town, to begin 'count-down' articles, to the day of the babies births. Die-hard Evian fans ate it up! People that hated both of them, used the papers to line bird cages.

But, the important thing was, Julian and Eve were together, married, and then, the proud parents of twins, a boy and a girl, that they decided to name Evan and Erin Crane. The birth had been more exhausting to Julian than Eve. Eve had told him that he really didn't have to be in there with her, since she knew how delicate his sensibilities were.

But Julian had said he would hear of none of it! Of course he would be with her during the delivery! Eve figured he might be alright, since he had delivered Tabitha Lennox's child. But, as soon as the first head crowned, Julian fell to the floor, having passed out. Eve really hadn't had the time to notice, busy as she was. And for her, Julian's being unconscious during the births of their children, was of little or no importance to her. The point was, he was there for her now, ready, as her beloved husband, to raise their children together. Only, as per the norm, there was trouble on the horizon....

Eve hurried down the stairs of the Crane mansion. She had been paged to the hospital, and had an emergency coming in. She hurried towards the dining-room to get a little breakfast she could eat on the run.

Eve would have to admit, that she had been surprised when Julian told her he didn't mind her keeping her job at the hospital. Nor did her long hours irritate him, though when she got home, he always made it clear how much he missed her!

What a change from T.C.! She instantly felt guilty. T.C. was going through the unimaginable. T.C. and poor John Black. And in a way, Lexie and precious baby Theo's kidnappings had been all her fault!

Because when Lexie's car was found at the airport, there was a bottle of chloroform, new, found in the car with Liz's fingerprints all over it! Fingerprints that Pilar had brought over from the FBI. And Liz would've never even been a negative factor in their lives, if Eve had just told the truth about her past with her sister, in the first place! She couldn't even look T.C. in the eye these days. But then again, he wasn't around much anyway. Everytime he got a new lead on Stefano's whereabouts, he and John Black, went off on what would be the first of many wild goose chases.

Eve shook her head and walked towards the dining-room. She heard a gurgle and smiled. The twins were getting their breakfast and....

'Julian!' Eve cried out.

Julian, was reading the paper, and feeding both Evan and Erin eggs! It appeared as if he had mashed them until they were practically paste like. He spooned some into Evan's mouth. His little lips parted and took them in.

Julian didn't even jump, when Eve yelled his name. He put down the paper and stood up. He walked over to her and kissed her cheek.

'How is my beautiful wife this morning? Come, sit down and join us.'

'Julian, you can't feed the twins that kind of food...'

Erin began kicking her feet against the high chair! Julian smiled.

'She wants more eggs.'

'Yes, of course she does.' Eve said, rolling her eyes. She then turned and walked out into the hallway. She picked up the phone and called the hospital.

'Yes, this is Dr. Crane, can you get someone else to cover for a few hours? There's an emergency here at home. Thank you, goodbye.'

Eve hung up, then turned around and faced Julian. He smiled at her. He always smiled when she referred to herself as 'Mrs. Crane' or 'Dr. Crane'!

'Are you planning on feeding them yourself, dear?'

'Yes, I am! Julian, I know it's tempting to spoil them, but what they really need to be eating is baby food.'

Julian sighed.

'Darling, have you seen the looks of that slop? My God! I mean, I cannot believe that you would want our children to eat such poor nourishment.'

'It is not 'poor nourishment' Julian. And just because it's not what you would eat yourself, doesn't make it bad for them.'

Julian raised a brow.

'You really are angry, aren't you?'

Eve's face softened and she walked up to him. She pulled on his tie, teasingly.

'I could never be angry with you. I guess I'm just a bit jealous....and sad.'

'Jealous of what?'

'Jealous that you have more time to spend with the babies than I do.'

'For God's sakes, Eve! Take some time off from the hospital then! I thought you went back to work entirely too early anyway!'

Eve didn't answer, but peeked at the babies. Evan was sitting in his highchair, calm as you could please. Erin almost looked as if she were scowling, still waiting for Daddy to feed her more eggs!

Eve looked at Julian again.

'Maybe you do have a point.'

'Yes, I do. And another thing: I know how you feel about this, but we are going to have to be practical. With our schedules, a nanny might not be such a bad idea.'

Eve didn't answer at first. There were servants in the house, but Eve had made it clear that she certainly didn't expect them to be looking after her babies, something Julian didn't agree with. He had then wanted to hire a nanny, but Eve didn't want strangers caring for her children. When she and T.C. had had the girls, they had trusted friends help out in binds, like Grace or sometimes Pilar. A nanny to Eve, was a stranger.

So, Whitney had begun helping out. And Eve knew it was not right.

Fox and Julian, spent a lot of time at Crane Industries, and while Eve knew Whitney loved Evan and Erin, she needed to do something of her own. Eve sensed that just being Mrs. Nicholas Foxworth Crane, was not enough for her daughter.

'You have a point. I mean, Whitney has her own life. I think I'm going to try and convince her to go back to school or something. She looks bored around here.'

Julian raised a brow. Neither Ivy nor Rebecca had ever been bored just lying around here! But then again, those two women were a special breed in themselves.

'Whitney is just feeling her way around here, that's all. She will be fine. I'm more worried about our situation here. Now, I think you need to make arrangements to take more than just the morning off. If you are going to continue to work, then we are going to need someone to look after Evan and Erin, when we're not around. And I know you feel uncomfortable about some stranger taking care of them. That's why you should do the interviewing. Surely, you'll find someone you feel somewhat comfortable with.'

Eve nodded. Julian was making sense. Julian reached out and pulled her into an embrace. Erin began began kicking again. Eve pulled away.

'You'll have to excuse me, Mr. Crane. There's just a little something I have to take care of.'

She walked over to the twins. Her heart melted, when Evan smiled up at her. Her eyes fell upon Erin, who was still kicking. Eve sat down, then reached out and held one of her feet still.

'Missy, you're going to be trouble.' she said, pulling the baby food closer to her. Julian walked back in as well. He sat down.

'I'll feed Evan.' he offered.

'Oh yeah, how hard will that be! He'll eat anything!'

Julian smiled. He secretly agreed. His son was a pretty easy going baby. Erin could be a little more work. But he had always liked a challenge, and one just had to be a bit more forceful with Erin, that was all.

Julian watched as Eve attempted to spoon some baby food in Erin's mouth. Erin kept her lips clamped tightly shut. The doorbell rang just then, and the sound of shoes walking quickly could be heard. Soon after, so could a piercing scream!

Erin began to cry! Evan looked as if he wanted to! Eve began to get up, but Julian gave her a sharp look.

'No! Stay here with the twins!'

Eve nodded fearfully, then pulled Evan's highchair closer to Erin's. They both stopped crying suddenly and stared at their mother.

Julian walked up behind the maid that had answered the door, then stopped short. The maid had a hand over her mouth. Julian's own mouth dropped open. Good Lord!

For sitting on the outside of the door, was Alistair Crane. He was in a wheelchair and staring into space. His middle finger was missing. Julian eased past the horrified maid, and looked out of the door. There was not a soul around. But that didn't matter. His father could have only come from one place. Stefano DiMera had decided to return his father home, thus, breaking the deal Julian had had with him.

Julian wondered who else would be coming home soon....


Sam, Luis and Sheridan arrived, soon after. The media began to circle the property, but Julian made special arrangements to keep them at bay. Whitney came over as well. Julian told Fox to stay at the office.

'Julian, I just spoke with your maid. She said she didn't notice anyone else on the property. Did you see anyone running away or anything out of the ordinary?' Sam asked.

'No! Look, I'm sorry to snap at you like that, but you must understand how upsetting this is. My father has been obviously tortured, nor was he given proper medical treatment after DiMera shot him!'

Sheridan walked over to Julian and rubbed his shoulder.

'It's alright. This is just as big a shock to us as it is to everyone. Right Luis?'

But Luis was eyeing Julian. He had always found it a little coincidental, that Julian had been the one to figure out that Alistair had been kidnapped and not killed. And they had never had any real proof as to WHO had kidnapped Alistair, until that finger showed up. No one else besides Stefano DiMera would be that vicious.

Still, it had been mighty convenient that the finger had shown up at all. For while it cleared Tony DiMera on the murder charge, it also invalidated the will that left Austin Reed and Chad Harris in charge of the Crane fortune. Thus, Austin was forced to relinquish his control.

Luis didn't like thinking about Austin. Probably because he had been wrong about him. He was good for Teresa. But his little sister, couldn't let go of Ethan, who still never paid her the time of day.

And Chad Harris...well Chad was dead. And for what? Nothing!

Luis didn't answer his wife and looked away. Julian looked at Sam.

'Could I answer your questions later? Eve is upstairs alone with Father, and I just want to see how he's doing.'

Julian really didn't care about how the old man was doing! He didn't like the idea of Eve being alone with Alistair! His father could be faking, or God knows what! And if he was alert or could speak one word, Alistair was capable of telling Eve about the 'company' he had, while he was in captivity.

'Alright,' Sam answered, 'but I really can't let this slide, Julian.'

'I'm not asking you to. But this has been such a shock. We were all so worried about Father...'

Luis snorted! Sheridan lifted a brow. Julian was going a bit overboard!

'Why don't you just see how Eve and father are doing, okay?' Sheridan suggested, pushing Julian from the room. Julian mouthed a 'thank you', then hurried up the stairs. Sheridan then faced Luis and Sam.

'Okay! Spill it! What is it that you think my brother has done now?'

Sam eyed Luis. He then stepped forward.

'I think the proof that arrived here, verifying that your father was still alive, along with Lexie and Theo Carver's disappearances, are related.'

Sheridan shrugged.

'I thought it was pretty much assumed that Liz Sanbourne kidnapped Lexie and Theo?'

Luis rolled his eyes.

'Then where is she, Sheridan? The woman has literally disappeared off the face of this earth! There's no record of her even being in the airport, or on the premises! And while I was no fan of Liz's, Antonio has been very upset. He's sure she met with some sort of foul play. I hate to say it, but I'm beginning to agree with him.'

'Fine, Luis, but how does that tie to Julian? Or do you just need a suspect, and my brother is the first person that comes to mind?'

Luis walked over to her.

'Honey, you know that's not fair.'

'Do I?' Sheridan asked. Sam interrupted.

'Look, Sheridan. I never believed for one minute, that it was just a coincidence, that on the same day that the FBI drops all the charges against Eve and Julian, a tape shows up that fingers Tony DiMera for Alistair's 'murder'. Three people from this town disappear: Lexie Carver, Theo Carver and Liz Sanbourne. Then, a finger shows up, identified to be Alistair's, allowing Julian and Fox to get their fortune back and damned near run poor Austin Reed from this town!'

'You can't think that all of this is related?' Sheridan asked, incredulous.

Luis looked at his wife.

'The only reason we haven't made any of this public, is because T.C. would go ballistic if he thought for one moment, that Julian Crane had anything to do with Lexie and Theo disappearing. And in order to get them back, we need to keep cool heads.'

Sheridan backed away from them.

'Where in the hell are you getting the idea, that Julian had anything to do with those kidnappings?! Eve was in the hospital back then, remember? He never left her side!'

Luis looked at Sam. Sam sighed.

'There was a witness, Sheridan.'

Sheridan looked Luis up and down, before looking at Sam again.

'What do you mean, 'a witness'? Who is this person?'

'I'm not at liberty to say.' Sam said, sorry he had said anything at all. Sheridan looked as if she were going to explode!

Luis tried to comfort her.

'Come on, honey. Let's just drop this and concentrate on your father.'

'I'm telling my brother that you're targeting him in this investigation!'

'Sheridan!' Luis said warningly.

'Luis! I want to know who this person is, that says that she saw Julian kidnap three people!'

'Sheridan, no one is saying that he, personally did it. But, he was seen in the area...along with Fox.'


Luis looked at Sam, then looked at Sheridan again.

'Look, let's just calm down here, okay? There's no proof of anything yet.'

'You're damned right there isn't, Luis! Look, I know my brother has a bad reputation, but I'm telling both of you, Julian is a changed man! I mean, I've come over here and seen him changing diapers and doing things that he never did with Ethan, Fox or any of his other children. He loves his life now and would not, I repeat, would not, do anything that would make what he has now, disappear! He would not kidnap anyone!'

Sam and Luis looked at one another again. They did not realize that Whitney was standing behind one of the doors to the room, eavesdropping. She decided to go to Crane Industries and pay her husband a visit...and to warn him.


Eve checked Alistair's pupils with a pen light, then got up from the bed. When she turned around, she did not see Alistair's eyes suddenly focus in on her. His facial expression was something akin to a snarl. Eve turned back and found him looking vegetative again.

Julian opened the door and walked in. His gaze focused in on his father, who looked small, harmless and quite zombie like. Julian then put an arm around Eve.

'How is he?' he asked.

Eve stared at Alistair.

'It doesn't appear as if he was mistreated...except for that middle finger. I would like to call in a specialist to look him over. Julian, with a little help, he could regain his speech and some mobility.'

'Eve, he doesn't look as if he knows where he even is! What good would being able to speak or move, do for him?'

Eve turned to look at him. She touched his face.

'Honey, it's up to you...and Sheridan. But if we don't get him well here, we may be taking care of him, in this room, for the rest of his remaining years.'

'Lord!' Julian cried out.

'I know. You know, I have to admit, the idea of Evan and Erin being under the same roof as him...'

Julian put his hands on her shoulders.

'I know, dearest, I know. As a matter of fact, I was thinking of looking around for some other facility to take him in.'

Eve looked over at Alistair. He did seem so small and defenseless looking. She didn't think one night would hurt. She turned back to Julian.

'I know that no matter how you feel about your father, to actually see him again, in the flesh, has got to be hard for you. So, I don't want you dealing with where to put him and all of that. Not until you've had some time to adjust. And poor Sheridan must be going through a lot as well. Do Sam or Luis have any clues, as to who they think had Alistair all of this time?'

Julian glanced at Alistair, before looking at Eve.

'Darling, I think we both know who was holding my father prisoner.'

Eve glanced over at Alistair, then back at Julian.

'Julian, we don't have any choice but to keep him here then.'

Julian looked at his wife as if she were crazy!

'I'm sorry, darling, I'm not following.'

'Honey, if Stefano kept your father captive, then if we can get him talking again, maybe he can tell the authorities where Lexie and Theo are.'

'And Liz.' Julian murmured.

'What?' Eve asked.

'Well, darling, I think the police suspect that your sister kidnapped them.'

'Yes, I thought that too, at first. But you know, the more that I think about it, I now wonder if Stefano found out what Liz did to them, and maybe killed her or something. Or maybe she's a prisoner too. Whatever the story is, I'm sure your father knows something.'

Julian said nothing. He knew he should be worried about Liz, or Lexie, popping up as well, but he wasn't, at least, not at this moment in time. What bothered him, was having Alistair in the same house with Eve and the twins. Eve, the woman Alistair had referred to in a very derogatory manner over the years. It was an opinion that Julian knew had not changed.

And Alistair would not be happy about Evan and Erin. This was the same man that had had his and Eve's firstborn son, kidnapped. If Alistair were able, what would he do to Evan and Erin?

Yet, Alistair looked like a vegetable. Why had Stefano pulled that crude wheel-chair dump?! Why had he returned Alistair to them? He was supposed to keep him forever!

'Julian?' Eve asked. She could see her husband was off in another world.

Julian tore his eyes away from Alistair, and focused back on Eve. Eve smiled and pulled him into her arms.

'Oh, my poor baby. You have really had a rough time of it. Being a super-daddy, getting me out of various scrapes...I want you to let me handle this now. I will call a friend of mine, who specializes in comatose patients, and everything will be alright. You'll see.'

Julian rubbed her back, wanting her words to be true, but sensing something was amiss, with this whole scenario. He let go of her and smiled. She smiled back, then picked up his hand and pulled him out of the room. She closed the door behind him.

Alistair looked over at the closed door, as soon as it shut.



Rebecca Hotchkiss sat in a row of chairs, waiting for John Black, and T.C. Russell, to return. She rubbed her hands together. Things seemed to be getting better.

She tried not to think about what her ex, Julian, had said to her, almost a year ago, when she had tricked Marlena Black into coming to her office at Basic Black, without warning her that Stefano was waiting to kidnap her there, yet again.

Julian had said that John would be so preoccupied with trying to find Marlena, that that would leave precious time for a romance between herself and him.

And her Pookie had been right, sort of. For the first six months, John was like a mad man. Rebecca had had to swallow her guilt, as she became his confidante, listening to how much he loved Marlena, their respective children, his life with Marlena, Marlena, Marlena, Marlena! And for the longest time, Rebecca thought she would go quite mad!

Then, one day, John stopped talking about Marlena all of the time, and began asking about her, personally. Her life, her marriages, Gwen, her grandson, etc., etc.. Soon there were small, semi intimate dinners.

But no nookie! And Rebecca knew that she had made progress. So much so, that if Marlena were ever to walk back into John's life today, Rebecca felt as if the hold she suspected she had on John now, would not just die. He would be a torn man. A wife that hadn't been around in a year, or the woman that had not left his side since this terrible tragedy happened?

And poor T.C.! It was kind of hard to look him in the eye, though not that hard, since he barely acknowledged her anyway. Rebecca hoped that T.C. had not been bad-mouthing her to John. Because if she ever found out that that was the case, T.C. was going to get a piece of her mind! Her cell phone rang just then. Rebecca eyed the gate, then answered it.



'Pookie? Why are you calling? And I can barely hear you?'

'That's because I can't talk long, dear. I just wanted you to know that you should be on your toes.'


'Because Stefano returned Alistair!'

Rebecca stood up quickly.

'What!?' she squeaked.

'That's right! The old man was sitting on our doorstep, missing his middle finger, which I found interesting, but also, unable to utter a word or move! I'm telling you, Stefano is trying to scare us or something!'

'How is Alistair my problem, Julian? Obviously you did something to tick Stefano off! Look I have to go...'

'Uh, Rebecca dear. If Father begins to talk, he might remember who else was with him. Also, if Stefano can suddenly become 'ticked' with me, he can become 'ticked' with you too, dear. Goodbye!'

Rebecca hung up, then stared at the phone for a few moments. Why would Stefano return Marlena? He was supposed to be so in love with the woman, or so he claimed! No, Stefano's returning Alistair was something personal between himself and Julian. It did not concern her.

Rebecca looked out the window and saw John Black's jet stopping on the tarmac. Hopefully, this had been another wild goose chase for both John and T.C.. She crossed her fingers.