By SF Writer
Copyright 2000  Stormnation, All rights reserved.

Chapter 13 - Paths not taken

* * * * * * *

"Josh, sweetheart it’s time for dinner."

"Yes, Mother." Josh replied.

Josh began to pack his school books back away into his bag. He sighed to himself and moved his hand along the smooth wood of his desk, tapping it gently as he went. He slowly stood up and moved towards his window to close it, the unusually stormy weather outside causing him to shiver a little. He looked at the walls of his room. As confining as they seemed to him sometimes he also considered this room to be his only sanctuary.

His walls were covered with football team photos and class awards. Achievements he knew his father could be proud of. Yet they held little value to him. Sure, he liked playing but his main drive was to please his parents. By keeping his first string position and maintaining his grades. The rest of his walls were smattered with posters of teen celebrities, mostly cute guys with just the right amount of girls to keep his parents from being suspicious.

Inside his wardrobe he kept his magazine collection where he could look at guys he could only dream of being with. Teen magazines that only giggly girls were supposed to look at. There was no doubt in his mind. He wasn’t bi, he was 100% gay. He just didn’t know how to be gay, or how exactly he could have what he wanted in his heart. He didn’t know how to be himself so he let others guide his path. Always following, never making his own choices so he wouldn’t risk rocking the boat. It had gotten him this far. But how far had it really gotten him?

Josh lay against the window ledge thinking about his life and where it was. He felt a bit lost lately. Not having the security blanket of Brad yet he felt happier with who he was becoming. A more independent Josh, less needing of someone to tell him what he should do. Instead doing more of what he wanted to.

Josh finally closed the window properly and rubbed his arms trying to warm the cold away. He leant down next to his stereo to pack his CD’s away tidily. His Stereo one of the many rewards for being a ‘good’ son. He sighed again and finally left his cold room, closing the door gently behind him.

Josh carried on towards the kitchen and sat down at the dinner table. He sat there patiently as his mother Petra put a plate of mashed potatoes and green beans to go with the rest of the dinner she had prepared. Josh’s father Colin Barrett sat at the head of the table, a proud father who liked to have everything in it’s proper place. An average size man with a strong build and wide shoulders, Colin Barrett looked more like a football player himself than a store manager.

"How was your day Son?" Colin asked smiling at his son as he served his dinner.

"Good Sir." Josh replied.

"I wanted to watch you play today but I got called into work. How did you go?"

"We won. They took us into extra play though. We didn’t have some of our best players and it showed."

"I’m sure you managed fine without them. Who was missing?"

"Mike Mitchell. Brad Sisto. He’s injured. And Lucas Sheridan."

"So who captained then?"

"I did Sir."

"My son was the Captain and I missed the game? Oh I’m so sorry I missed that son. I’m sure you would have made me proud. I always knew you’d be one of the best."

"Thank you. It’ll be back to normal next week though."

"You ought to be up for vice captain soon with the way you’re going son."

"Joshy’s the best." Josh’s little sister Carly said from across the table.

A spritely ten year old with golden locks and big green eyes with a tiny bit of freckles on the tip of her nose. She sat across the table smiling brightly at her big brother.

"No, you’re the best." Josh said smiling back.

The two smiled at each other, Carly was Josh’s favorite person in the world and he was hers. They were the best of friends and Josh always made time for her.

The Barrett family sat eating their dinner, occasionally making small talk usually instigated by Colin Barrett.

"I think you deserve a night out Son. The Captain of the team shouldn’t have to stay home with his family on a Saturday night."

"Oh it’s ok Sir. I’ve got a lot of homework to do."

"Nonsense. Here." Colin said pulling out his wallet and handing a fifty dollar note to his son. "It’s not every day you get to be the big man Son. Enjoy it."

"Thank you. May I be excused?"

"Yes Son. Be back before 11pm" his mother replied.

Josh promptly got out of his seat and ran to his bedroom, quickly changing his top and grabbing his bag. He rushed back past the dinner table and kissed his Mother’s cheek and ruffled his sister’s hair before heading out the door.

Josh had no intention of going out on the town. He ran down his street, the wind howling through his hair teasing him with the possibility of rain. He continued on, crossing over streets until he reached his destination. He walked up the pathway and stood at the door nervously before he plucked up enough courage to knock. When the door opened Josh smiled as he recognised barely the female standing in front of him.

"Hi Abby. Is Dade home?"

"Hi…yeah I remember you. Joshua. You’re Bradley’s friend aren’t you? I remember when you were little…"

"Yeah that’s me." Josh said quickly interrupting Abby, not wanting to be reminded of what he was like when he was ‘little’.

"Dade’s upstairs. Go on up."

Josh smiled at Abby as he walked past her and proceeded up the stairs of the Marcus household. He walked into Dade’s room and looked around but Dade wasn’t there.

"Dade?" Josh called softly.

"I’m in here."

Josh put his head out into the hallway and realised Dade’s voice came from Storm’s room. Josh walked in slowly, opening the door and seeing Dade sitting on Storm’s bed with his head in his hands.

"Dade…" Josh said softly.

"Hi." Dade replied meekly.

Josh walked over to where Dade was sitting, looking around him realising he was in Storm’s room. He had never been in here before. And he wasn’t sure whether Storm would like him being in here either. Josh looked curiously at the photos of Storm and Mike as they grew up through the years. The room spoke volumes to Josh, it gave him insight and a faint imagining of what Storm’s life had been like growing up and the sort of person he was.

Josh sat himself down next to Dade and bit his lip unsure of what to say. He knew something was wrong but he wasn’t sure how to handle it. So he decided to play by ear. He took in a deep breath and realised the room felt unusually cold, he looked up to see that Storm’s windows were open. He reached up to close the windows and noticed an etching in the window ledge so faint he only managed to see it because of the flicker from his watch. It read ‘Storm loves Lucas’ and was positioned so that it wasn’t overtly obvious. Josh wondered if Storm really loved Lucas. He knew how much Lucas loved Storm, he could see it in Lucas eyes and Lucas had told him so himself. But Josh hadn’t been around Storm long enough to see whether or not Lucas love was reciprocated. He raised his eyebrow in contemplation of the inscription, trying to gauge its value.

Realising he’d drifted somewhat from his intended purpose for the second time that night Josh closed the window and sat down at the end of Storm’s bed. Josh felt somewhat unsure of how to act with Dade. He wanted to be a good friend to Dade, to prove himself but he felt as if he were going to shoot himself in the foot every time he opened his mouth. In the end he decided to go with the painfully blunt and obvious question.

"What’s wrong Dade?" Josh asked finally.

Dade raised his eyes and looked at Josh blankly before he lowered it again. "I’m just worried that’s all." Dade sighed.

"Have you heard any news?"

"No. Mom hasn’t called back since they moved him upstate early this morning."

"Did Lucas and Mike go with your Mom?"

"No. Lucas, Sarah and Marcel drove up in Marcel’s wrangler. His parent’s wrangler actually. Mike stayed behind to look after me with Abby. I wasn’t allowed to go."

"I’m sorry man. Is there anything I can do?"

"What are you doing here?"

"I just wanted to see if you were ok. That’s what friends are for right?"

"Thanks Josh. I’ve had people come over today but I didn’t really feel like talking to them. Least of all Robert. I’m glad you came though. Wasn’t sure whether you’d still be up for our deal."

"I wanted to be here. I knew you might not be doing ok. I’m telling you Dade though, Storm will be ok. I promise."

"How can you promise? You have God’s ear or something?" Dade said slightly perturbed.

"No. I just know Storm’s a fighter. And well…he’s got a lot to fight for."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, there’s you. His family. And all his friends. And…other things."

"What other things?" Dade asked looking at Josh curiously. He didn’t realize how much Josh knew, nor did Josh realize how much Dade knew.

"I’m not sure if I should say."

"And who’s friend are you trying to be by not telling me?"


"So you know huh?" Dade stated trying to prompt Josh to spill the beans.


"Yeah you know, it’s written all over your face. You know. Who told you?"


"You two friends or something?"

"Uhh sorta."

"Are you like him?"

"Like him?"

"Yeah like him." Dade said flatly. "Like him and my brother."

"I…I…" Josh began to say before he gave in and started nodding his head almost in defeat. "Yeah. I am."

"Don’t worry Dude. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s just different that’s all." Dade said reassuringly.

"You mean, you’re ok with it?"

"Gimmie some credit will you? Look man it’s just the way it is. Aint nothing you can do to change it so you may as well roll with it."

"You mean you are …."

"Whoa whoa whoa hold up mate. I play for the other team. I like the ladies."


"So Lucas told you did he?"

"Yeah. He was trying to help me deal with it."

"Yeah that’s Dude boy. Always helping out. Gotta love him aye."


"So how long have you known?"

"A few years ago. All my friends were whistling at the girls and I was whistling at the guy with his arm around the girl. And I realized when I spent more and more time looking at guys and no time looking at girls."

"Oh ok. You like anyone?"

"Uhh yeah. Umm."

"’Come on you tell me who you like and I’ll tell you who I like."

"Promise you won’t tell anyone?"

"I promise." Dade said crossing his heart with his finger.

"I like Marcel. I think he’s a babe."

"Marcel…uhh how long have you liked him?"

"Oh since…as long as I’ve known him. I just love him. He’s so cute, and he’s got such an awesome smile. Makes me…"

"Ok ok I get the picture. In other words you’re in love with the guy. You like him a bit more than like, I can tell by the huge smile on your face when you talk about him."

"Yeah well he’s like totally straight so it doesn’t matter."

Dade bit his lip and tried not to laugh, knowing how wrong Josh was. But he didn’t feel it was his place to say anything. "Yeah…"

"Ok your turn. Who do you like?"

"Claire Carlyle. Man she is the bomb. That girl is so fiiinnneeee." Dade said smiling brightly, falling back against the bed and sqqueezing one of Storm’s pillows as if it were Claire herself. "Claire, Claire Claire!"

"And you said I was bad…" Josh grinned.

Dade lay down on Storm’s bed looking at the ceiling. "Josh. Have you ever been in love with someone who never even noticed you. I mean, really really been in love. And don’t tell me Marcel. I mean you got a crush on the guy but it aint love. I mean have you actually loved someone and they’ve never even given you a second look?"

"I…can’t say I have Dade. I’m pretty unexperienced in that department."

"I mean. I really like Claire. But I love someone else. But they’re like…oh nevermind."

"No tell me Dade. Please. I swear I won’t tell anyone."

"You know something Josh?"

"What man?"

Dade sighed. "I hate being me."

"What? Why? You’re awesome. And I know I’m not the only one who thinks that."

"I’m like. Nobody really notices ‘me’. I’m just sorta…there."

"I don’t get it."

"Yeah. Just forget about it."

Josh hopped up next to Dade and lay down, trying to find out what it was Dade found so appealing about the ceiling. "I know what that’s like. People noticing you. But never really noticing ‘you’. Just sorta what they choose to see. What they want to. Never really bothering to see what’s really there."

Puzzled and slightly impressed by Josh’s fairly accurate read into the situation Dade could only presume Josh had experience in that situation. "You’re exactly right. Unbelievable. You’re right man. That’s exactly what I mean." Dade said shaking his head and smiling in disbelief before he lay down again.

"If Lucas could see us now he’d probably think…"

"We’d have to be doing something for that to happen though." Dade interrupted. "And there aint no chance in hell of that mate."

"So Lucas, Mike, Sarah and Marcel all went up to see Storm?" Josh asked.

"Not Mike. Just the other three. Mike stayed behind to look after me. He should be here now. I don’t know where he is. He said he was going home to get some things."

"I hope he’s alright." Josh said concerned.

"Yeah. Me too. I might go look for him if he isn’t back soon."


* * * * * * *


Mike stumbled across the grass and slumped himself against the tree. His eyes racked with tears and his face red and flustered. He sobbed unabashedly, sliding down the tree slowly. He sat slumped there weeping and sobbing as rain poured down around him and the wind howled it’s chilling cry.

The water came down in torrents, the leaves in the large evergreen tree acting as a filter, ebbing most of the flow of rain. Mike slumped there feeling empty and cold. Alone and afraid. The memories of past few hours drilling into his mind like shards of glass slicing nerves. He tried to block out the pain in all of its forms. Tried to hide from his demons.

Mike didn’t know where to go. Didn’t know what to do. Who could be there for him? Who could help him. Maybe if he just didn’t tell anyone. Maybe if he pretended everything was ok.

Mike leaned himself against the tree painfully. Lightening streaked through the sky followed by the sonic boom of thunder jarring Mike violently from the peace he’d managed to just give himself. His mind flashed violently, each moment he remembered stabbing at his being.

And at the moment Mike screamed, sharing his pain and sorrow with the world. Yet no one would hear. No one would come. He sobbed and cried, curling into a ball at the base of the tree. The cold numbing him, the rain cleansing him and the wind ravaging him. Empty. Cold. Alone…alone.


Waiting for time to pass. Waiting for pain to leave. Waiting for the miracle that would never come.


* * * * * * *


"Sarah? Sarah what is it?" Marcel asked concerned.

"Something’s wrong. Something doesn’t feel right."

"What are you talking about Sarah? We haven’t found out anything new. Mom said the worst has been and gone. Now we just have to wait for him to wake up."

"No no. I’m not talking about that. I need to call Mike. He should be with Dade." Sarah said nonchalantly walking down the corridor towards the payphone.

She picked up the phone and dialled the number to call the Marcus household. Something nagged inside her. For an instant she had a sharp jolt inside her telling her she needed to be with Mike. That Mike needed her. Maybe she was just feeling oversensitive right now.

She waited impatiently for someone to pick up. They seemed to be taking forever.

"What the hell is taking so…."

"Hello?" Came the voice Sarah recognised instantly as Dade. "Sarah is that you?"

"Hi Dade. Hey Dade can I speak to Mike please?"

"He’s not here Sarah. He should’ve been back awhile ago. I was just about to go out and see if I can bump into him somewhere. There’s no one answering at his place."

"You’re worried too huh?"

"Well…he’s my bro. I dunno…I guess I am getting worried."

"Well I’ll call back later Dade. Nothing new to report up here. You take care buddy. See ya."

"Bye Sarah."

"Bye." Sarah said hanging up the phone and stood there wondering what could be the matter.

Sarah felt a hand on her shoulder turning her around. "Sarah is everything ok?" Marcel asked.

Sarah leant her head on Marcel’s shoulder and wrapped her arms around his waist so he could hold her. The warm comfort of a friend calming her worried notions. "I’m not sure. But for a moment there, I felt like he really needed me. Maybe I’m just worrying too much today. I wish we were all back in Merlow."

"Me too. And don’t worry. Mike will be fine. You’ll see when we get back." Marcel said kissing Sarah’s forehead and rubbing her back gently. "Everything will be ok Mate, you’ll see."

"I hope so."


* * * * * * *


Lucas sat beside Storm’s bed, one hand on Storm’s and the other gently stroking his hair. Lucas gazed at his sleeping beauty, his mind swimming in the possibilities the future held for them together. Lucas knew he’d just about lost his love and he didn’t want to spend any time apart unless he had to. And right now he didn’t have to. June Marcus had given Lucas this time to sit with Storm by himself. And Lucas was not going to waste it. He leant forward and kissed Storm gently on his forehead, pressing his lips against Storm’s skin softly. He moved away then leant forward and kissed Storm again, unable to quench the love he had to express.

Lucas moved his head down so he could lean it on the bed right next to Storm’s ear. "Storm, I know you can hear me." Lucas whispered. "And I know you’re going to be ok."

"There’s some things I need to say to you Storm. Maybe this is the best time because I can say everything I need to."

Lucas gripped Storm’s hand in his own tightly, waiting for some kind of sign that Storm was acknowledging Lucas presence.

"I am so sorry for treating you the way I did. The last time I saw you, I knew you were angry with me. And I knew I was wrong. I can’t excuse what I did. I wish I could wipe it from existence. I never wanted to make you feel cheap or bad. I can’t believe I hurt you." Lucas said, tears beginning to well up.

"I just felt confused when it happened. I didn’t know what went wrong. I was angry. More at myself than anything I guess. I had no right to take it out on you."

"When you come home, I’m going to make it up to you. I promise."

"I want you to know Storm. That you are the greatest part of my life. There isn’t any me, without you anymore."

"I want you to know that if I could swap places with you I’d be lying where you are in a heartbeat. You can’t leave me baby. You have to get better. It’s your birthday this week. We’ve gotta have a big party for my baby’s sweet sixteen."

"I wish I could hold you. I wish you could hold me. I’m sure I need it more than you do." Lucas said laughing a little. "I’m trying to be strong. But you have to help out here Storm."

"I’m not leaving this room until you tell me you love me. So there."


* * * * * * *


"Josh. You don’t have to go if you don’t want to. You can stay if you like." Dade said yawning. "Keep me company Bud."

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah course I am. Is it ok with your parents?"

"Oh yeah I’ll just give them a call. They won’t mind. I’m number one in their books today because I captained the team. To victory even. I’ll be right back."

"Ok Mate."

Josh picked up Dade’s cordless phone and walked into the passageway, not wanting Dade to hear him suck up to his parents. Dade opened his wardrobe and pushed his hanging clothes aside and pulled his guitar from the back of the wardrobe. He sat down on his bed and positioned his fingers on the strings as if it were second nature. He closed his eyes and let the rhythm flow through as he began strumming in a sandatori beat. His fngers plucking at the strings so delicate and confidently the guitar almost sang for him. His head gently motioned back and forth, the sound and rhythm causing him to sing without a second thought.

"Somewhere deep inside

Something’s got a hold on you

And it’s pushing me aside

See it stretch on forever

And I know I’m right

For the first time in my life

That’s why I tell you

You’d better be home soon…" Dade sung slowly opening his eyes.

"Wow Dade I didn’t know you could…" Josh said before being interrupted.

"What? Play, sing or make an idiot of myself?" Dade said smiling.

"Play and sing. You like play that thing as if it were like…natural. And you have such a smooth voice. Are you planning to be a singer or something?"

"Or something. It just relaxes me. It’s just something I do."

"Who were you singing that for? Storm?"

"No. I was just playing and that came out. I didn’t realise you were standing there. Anyway what did your parent’s say?"

"They were fine. And Mike called. He said something came up and he’d either be back later tonight or tomorrow morning."

"He didn’t want to speak to me?" Dade asked puzzled.

"No. I asked him if he did but he didn’t want to. Said he was in a hurry."

"That’s odd. I guess I’ll see him later then."

"I guess."



* * * * * * *


I opened my eyes groggily. The world seemingly a warped blur. My vision limited to fuzzy images. I tried to focus myself. And as I did the pain jolted me like a lightening bolt coursing through my body. My stomach felt like it was on fire, like acid was burning through my insides. I started to become short breathed and my chest felt heavy.

I managed to center myself and the pain dulled itself to a gentle throbbing that I could manage to cope with. I looked around at my surroundings and realized that I was in a hospital room. I went to move my hand and realized it was covered by another hand. I looked down to my left and smiled limply as I recognized Lucas had fallen off to sleep with his head on my bed next to mine and his hand on my hand. The rest of him looked uncomfortable as he sat on a chair.

I lay my head back and tried to replay the last events stuck in my mind. Fighting with Lucas, being sick, fighting with Josh. Coming home and then…coughing up blood. The last thing I remember was Mike saying everything would be alright. I knew there was a good reason I believe him.

I squeezed Lucas hand gently, reveling in the touch of his skin next to mine. I was so happy the first thing I saw when I woke up was my baby sleeping next to me. The fact that he was in such an uncomfortable position but was willing to go through that just to be next to me, proved just how much he loved me.

"Lucas. Baby." I said softly.

"Huh?" Lucas mumbled as he awoke slowly.

He slowly opened his eyes and I smiled at him. He just stared back at me in shock, his eyes looking so sad and I knew he was going to start crying. Tears fell down his cheeks as he continued to just look at me, not saying anything. He then moved his face closer to mine and kissed me achingly on the lips and my cheeks before he buried his head in my neck holding me close to him. He sobbed hard into me, his tears falling down my neck. He wasn’t just crying, he was actually sobbing so hard I could hear the pain in his moans. For what seemed like forever he just held me there, sobbing continuously. Interrupting himself with urgent kisses on my neck before he would try to hold me even closer to him. I knew there wasn’t anything I could say to stop his crying so I let him carry on. He just held me close, rocking me gently till his sobs slowly subsided.

He moved his head up and kissed me gently on the lips before he rested his face against mine. I could feel the wetness of his cheeks and once in a while he’d jolt with a sob that managed to escape him. I could feel that his breathing was still irregular, the sobs still stuck in his throat. I knew this guy had to love me a hell of a lot.

"I thought I was going to lose you." He said eventually, breaking the silence.

"Who me? I’m invincible." I said trying to lighten the moment.

"That’s what I keep telling myself. But you don’t know how scared I was. I was so scared. I don’t know what I’d do if you left me."

"You’d get over it."

"How did I know you’d say that?"

"Because you know me."

"Yeah I do. But I really was scared. I was so scared." He said leaning forward to kiss me again. Each kiss filled with a sense of relief and joy at the same time. "Don’t ever do that to me again. Please."

"I’ll try not to."

"Storm…I’m so sorry about yesterday. I’m so sorry." He said beginning to well up again. "I’m so angry at myself. I can’t believe I hurt you like that."

"I’ll live. Why don’t we just consider ourselves even."

"Does that mean you still love me?"

"Lucas…I will always love you. I can’t help it. But I want to know something."

"What is it Storm?"

"Why did you do it? I know we’ve been through this but I don’t think I really got an answer."

"Because I was angry at you for making me…you know…shoot early. When it was really my fault. But I had no right to say those things to you. I just really want to hurt myself when I think about it."

"Well don’t. Or else I swear I’ll kick your ass. I guess I just wondered if maybe you felt bad was because well…you don’t really find me attractive…that way."

"What? I love you."

"I know. I just thought maybe you … nevermind."

"No Storm. I know what you’re getting at and I swear you’re wrong. I love you. I don’t know how many times I can say that. One day I’ll show you how much I love you that way as well. Because believe me I do. I swear it with every part of my being."

"Lucas…I’m so lucky to have you. I love you so much baby."

"I knew I wasn’t going to leave this room until you said those words to me."

"What time is it Lucas? And it’s Saturday right?"

"It is Baby." Lucas said as he looked at his watch. "And it’s just past seven pm."

"You look tired Baby." I said stroking Lucas face softly.

"I am. I’ve been up most of the night worrying about you. Haven’t had much sleep since I got back from camp."

"And you didn’t look too…"

"I thought we heard some talking!" Marcel said smiling as he and Sarah walked into the room.

"Hey Marcel. Hey Sarah." I smiled.

"Hey yourself." Sarah said leaning down next to me and kissing me softly before she kissed me again on the cheek and held me.

"Wow. I got a kiss from Sarah, how long’s it been since that happened?"

Sarah ignored me and kissed me again. I felt so comfortable with her holding me, I could tell she’d really been worried about me. It reassured me because lately I’d begun to think we were drifting apart.

"I tell ya Stormy babe, you do this again and I’ll kill you myself."

"See, ya love me. Admit it."

"Who says I ever didn’t?" She said seriously. "I love you Daniel. Don’t doubt that ok?"

"I won’t bud. As long as you don’t call me Daniel."

"Get lost Sarah, my turn." Marcel said pushing Sarah aside.

Marcel just grabbed me tight and hugged me, slipping in a few kisses on the cheek to show me how much he loved me too. Anyone know how lucky I am? I sure do.

"Ow ow. Marcel gently Dude." I said cringing a little.

"I’m sorry I’m sorry!" Marcel said letting go quickly and backing away, a look of horror on his face.

"No no no I’m ok. It’s just my stomach feels really tender. I’m sorry bud." I said sitting myself up painfully. I managed to get upright a little and leant against the wall so I was sitting up. "Come here bud."

Marcel moved back slowly and I pulled him in and hugged him tight, being weary of my stomach area. I felt bad for making him feel so bad. I should have just grinned and beared it. The guy felt too scared to hug me now.

"I love you my buff blonde babe."

"I love you too Storm. I’m so glad you’re ok."

"Where’s Mike and Dade?"

"Back in Merlow." Sarah replied.

"What? Then where the hell are we?"

"General State Hospital."

"What the hell?" I said in shock. "I didn’t even realize."

"Yeah well when the doctors were here before with your Mom you were talking but you weren’t really there. But they knew you were going to be alright then."

"So how did you guys get here?"

"Marcel drove us up."

"Why didn’t Mike come?"

"He and Abby are looking after Dade. I should really go get your Mom." Sarah said. "She’d want to see you. And the doctors too."

Sarah walked out of the room and no sooner did she leave that she came back in again, followed by a doctor. Mom came in straight after and I smiled like a little boy.

"Mom!" I smiled.

She sat down next to me and hugged me tight, kissing my cheek and stroking my hair. "You gave us quite a scare Son. But you’re going to be ok now. You just need to be in here a few days to be safe."

"What’s wrong with me?"

"You had a hole in your stomach. We had to fly you up here last night because surgery couldn’t be performed in Merlow. We thought it might be internal bleeding but thank goodness that was a false alarm. That would have been harder to…deal with. Let’s just say you’re very lucky."

"I think I am."

"But Son. Next time you know something is wrong, don’t wait till you’re nearly dead to tell me."

"Sorry Mom."

"This is Dr. Sherman. He’ll be monitoring you. Be nice to him."

"Hi Doc." I said extending my hand. He smiled back at me and shook. He looked like he was just out of grad school or something. A black haired, green eyed man standing 5’9. "Doc I feel fine. Can I go home now?"

"Dr. Marcus has told me a lot about you. So don’t try it Mr." He said smiling.

"Damn. Ok well then can I at least have a bed for all my friends too, in this room of course. Come on Doc?"

"Ahh sorry no can do."

"I feel fine though Doc. Seriously."

"No you don’t. You wouldn’t make it two steps away from the bed if you got up. Maybe when you wake up in the morning we can see how you go with a little walk. You shouldn’t even be sitting up." Doc Sherman said coming towards me and easing down into a laying position.

"Ow ow. Gently Doc."

"I thought you said you were fine?" He said smiling. "Ok I need to do a few tests. Would you all mind if you left us. Except for you of course Dr. Marcus."

Mom just smiled slightly towards the young Doctor. I loved seeing her get respect from her peers. I knew she deserved it.

Sarah and Marcel both smiled at me and waved before they quietly left the room. Sarah popping her head back in just to smile at me and let me know she was thinking of me. She had a sad glean in her eyes that made me feel for her somehow. I couldn’t quite place it, but it was definitely there. The room reeked of sterilization and hospital whiteness. I could hear a lot of people outside, figured I must be in one of the busier sections of the hospital.

Lucas just looked at me, and then at the Doctor and then back at me again. Unsure of what he should do. I smiled at his wanting to stay with me but I knew the Doctor wouldn’t do anything until Lucas left.

"I’ll be ok." I smiled.

"Ok…I’ll be outside if you need me." Lucas said looking between me and the Doctor again. I knew what he wanted, and as much as the old me would have felt uncomfortable, the new me didn’t give a shit.

I held his hand and eased him forward, kissing him subtly on the lips. I tried to express how much I loved him just in that ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ moment and I think I did it. Lucas smiled back at me so wide I couldn’t help but smile back at him.

"I love you." he whispered in my ear. "More than anything else. Don’t forget that."

"I won’t. Now hurry up and get out or else I won’t be able to let you go."

Lucas eased back and left the room quickly, smiling back at me and mouthing that he loved me. I couldn’t help blushing. I turned to my right to see Mom blushing softly and the Doc with a ‘well that was interesting’ look on his face.

"We’re together." I said flatly to the Doc.

"I noticed."

"I love him."

"Yeah I noticed that too."

"Does it bother you?"

"Intrigues yes. Bothers no."


"Do you have a problem with it?"


* * * * * * *


Lucas, Marcel and Sarah all stood in the hallway, a look of relief and happiness on their faces. Neither said anything to the other, they just looked at each other and smiled then looked at each other and smiled again. They stood just outside the doorway to Storm’s room, looking like some sort of guard patrol. Sarah sighed deeply and blew the hair from out of her face before smiling at Lucas.

"You look really relieved Lucas." Sarah smiled.

"I am. I can’t believe I was in such a state just a few minutes ago. These have been the worst days of my life that’s for sure. But I’m so glad he’s ok. I can’t believe I actually thought about the possibility of him leaving us."

"Well I always knew he’d be fine." Marcel said smiling smugly to himself.

"Yeah whatever Blondie. I think I should go and call Dade and Mike."

"Ok I’m going to find Mr. Marcus and tell him Storm’s awake."

"I’ll wait here, I wanna make sure he’s ok."

"No surprises there." Sarah smiled as she walked away.

She looked back at Lucas as she headed down towards the payphone. She almost bumped into a man in a wheelchair because she was looking back.

"Oh I’m sorry." She said apologetically.

The man just shrugged her aside and continued on his way. For some reason Sarah just wasn’t feeling good. She was glad Storm was ok but something was nagging at her. Something wasn’t right. She stood at the payphone and watched Lucas standing outside of Storm’s room. He stood there patiently, throwing brief smiles at everyone who walked past. Sarah could see Lucas face laced with relief and even tinged with a bit of joy to give him an extremely contentedly happy look on his face. She could see he was tired though and she realised that she herself was rather tired. It had been a long day and all she wanted to do now was to go home. She picked up the phone and dialled the number to the Marcus household. The ringing tone seemed to throb in her ear and she rubbed her forehead and closed her eyes trying to wake herself up.


"Dade it’s Sarah. Storm’s awake from his operation. He seems ok. I think the worst is over with."

Sarah could hear Dade breathing but he didn’t say anything. She could almost picture him leaning against the wall in relief.

"Are you ok Dade?"

"I’m ok Sarah. I’m just…really relieved. Thanks for calling me. Tell Storm…I love him."

"I will Dade. I promise. Dade is Mike back yet?"

"No. He called to say that something came up. He’ll be a little late or he’ll just come over in the morning."

"Oh. Thanks Dade."

"No prob. Bye Sarah."

"Bye Dade." Sarah said hanging the phone up for the second time tonight.

She wondered what could be wrong with Mike. Something didn’t seem right. She leaned her head back against the wall and sighed. As she did this she saw that Lucas was having a conversation with Daniel Marcus Sr. She saw Marcel was further down the hallway, obviously he’d been sent away so Mr. Marcus could have a talk to Lucas. It didn’t look like a conversation Lucas was enjoying. As the conversation went on Lucas face seemed to drop a little more, his eyes saddening with every word spoken to him.

Sarah could tell just by the look on Lucas face what was going on. She headed down the corridor toward Lucas, stricken with anger. Just as she reached the two and was about to say something she was interrupted by June Marcus coming out of Storm’s room. June signalled Daniel Sr to come in and Lucas was left standing outside by himself.

Sarah put her hand on Lucas shoulder and lifted Lucas face gently. "Lucas, are you ok?"


"What did he say to you?"

"Nothing I haven’t heard before." Lucas said with his head hanging down.


* * * * * * *


"Hello Daniel."

I snapped to attention and nearly choked when I saw who had spoken to me. "Don’t call me Daniel. My name’s Storm." I retorted.

I looked at my father and my eyes narrowed on him with contempt, I could even notice my breathing quicken. I turned my head away from him, hoping he’d just leave me alone.

"June, can I have a moment with our son please."

I pleaded to Mom with my eyes not to leave and she responded by shaking her head at me. She didn’t say anything to my father she just left the room. I felt like getting up and running out of the room myself. I felt like I’d been abandoned. I just didn’t want to be here. I nearly burst into tears from the sheer frustration of being unable to be somewhere else.

"What the hell do you want?" I yelled.

"Please Son. I don’t want to argue with you."

"And I don’t want to talk to you."

"Well that’s too bad because I’m not leaving."

"What do you want?"

"I want to see how you are. To know you’re ok."

"Well I’m ok. And as soon as you leave I’ll be damn happy. How’s that?"

"Why do you hate me?"

I turned away from me, finding the strength to hold my tongue. I wanted to tell him how much I hated him and why but I didn’t want to give him the answer. Why? Because then he’d try and find out how to fix it. And I just didn’t want that. Not at all.

"Son. I know about you and Lucas."

"Yeah you’re son’s a faggot. Guess you won the lotto huh. 1 out of 10 they say. How do ya feel?" I said sarcastically, still on the verge of breaking down. But I didn’t want to let him see me break because of him.

"I talked to Lucas…"

"What did you say to him?" I asked anxiously.

"I told him that you’re too young to be sure. That he shouldn’t have taken advantage of you."

My eyes burned with rage, I couldn’t believe he’d said that to Lucas. "Fuck you Daniel. You had no right. You stay the hell away from Lucas. And from me. I can’t believe how much of a bastard you are. You haven’t changed. Don’t you dare go near him again."

"Look he should have known better. Your nature let you be too easily swayed."

"GET OUT!" I yelled. "I hate you you stupid old fuck. Now get out! I don’t ever want to see you again. Just GET OUT!"

"Son please. I can help you."

"MOM!" I yelled at the top of my lungs. Childish I know but I didn’t know how else to get this loser away from me. "I hate you so much." I said, my eyes burning into him.

Mom burst into the room and looked at the two of us. A look of anger and disappointment clearly evident as she shook her head in dismay. I looked at her and begged her to get him out of here without even saying anything.

"I’m not leaving this hospital Son. I’m going to be here for the duration so one way or another we’re going to sort this out."

I didn’t say anything to him. I just glared at him, my chest heaving with anger. I couldn’t feel anything but contempt for this man right now. I watched as Mom ushered him out and I lay my head back in relief. I closed my eyes and tried to stop myself from crying but I couldn’t help it. I couldn’t believe how angry I was at him. He just seemed to know how to turn my insides out. I put my hands over my eyes and sobbed into them quietly.

I felt a hand gently brush the side of my face and I uncovered my eyes slowly to see who it was. "Sarah…"

"Hey Buddy." She said smiling weakly. "Your eyes are leaking."

"He’s such a prick. He hasn’t changed."

"I noticed. I saw him talking to Lucas. Don’t let him get to you Storm. I’ve seen him do this to you so many times before."

"Yeah…you helped me out so much back then. We used to be so close didn’t we?"

"I know. Things seemed to change as soon as we broke up. Then Lucas came and we sorta just drifted apart. Just seeing your father back here reminds me though of those days when you first went through all this hell with him. I just want you to know I’m here for you. Always have been. Always will be."

I felt a pang of guilt as I looked at Sarah in a way I hadn’t for a long time. Funny how the more things change the more they stay the same. "Thanks Sarah. Hey, how are you? You don’t look 100%." I said trying to change the tone of the conversation before I slipped any further back to the way I used to feel.

"Oh. I’m just tired. It’s been a long few days."

"Are you sure that’s all?"

"Ok well I’m worried about Mike. I just felt for him a little while ago. It was so strange. Maybe I just miss him too much."

"True love aye? Gotta love it." I said smiling. "Well you guys going back to Merlow tonight?"

"No. We were going to crash in a motel so we could stay by you to make sure you’re ok."

"Well as you can see I’m ok. I think you should get back to Merlow so you can see how my bro is."

"What about Lucas?"

"Lucas…I think it would be better if he went back with you. I don’t want him anywhere near my father. God only knows what he’s said to Lucas already."

"I don’t know how you’re going to get him to come back with us."

"Can you get him for me please?"

Sarah got up and went outside to get Lucas. I watched her leave and couldn’t help but notice she didn’t seem her usual self. She looked like she needed to be held or something. She seemed almost vulnerable.

Lucas opened the door slowly and came in. He smiled at me weakly and took my hand as he sat down. "I’m not leaving." He said bluntly.

"Lucas, I don’t want you to be here with my father around. I want you to go back with Marcel and Sarah."




"Hey I’m supposed to be the stubborn one. Not you."

"I’m not going Storm. I’m not going."



"Lucas, do you know why I want you to go back?"

"Because of your father. I don’t care what he says to me. I’ve heard it all before. All I care about is you."

I sighed to myself and closed my eyes for a moment. They were beginning to feel heavy, my body starting to feel drained and unresponsive. "I’m tired…"

"Are you ok Baby?"

"I’m fine. Please Lucas, promise me you’ll go back. I need to sort things out with my father. Make him understand." I said slurring and slow. "Please Lucas."

Lucas didn’t say anything back to me. His head hung down, his eyes defeated and forlorn. "Ok."

"Please don’t be angry." I said softly.

I felt my eyes close and the world fade. Lucas lips kissed my cheeks delicately and I could feel him holding his head close to mine. "I’m not angry. I’ll be waiting for you my love…rest well."


* * * * * * *


"June. June we have to talk about this. We can’t keep putting it aside."

"WHAT? What the hell do you want me to say Daniel?"

"That you should have told me! I should know what’s going on with my son."

"Then you should have damn well spent some time with him. Then you’d know. Maybe if you showed you even gave a shit he’d have told you. That’s why you’re the last to know! Because you’re the last to show you even give a damn."

"That’s not fair."

"Don’t even start with me about being fair." June said sternly, her face not hiding the deep seated resentment and anger she felt right now.

"Why June? You think I’ll hit too close to home? That you weren’t fair? That you share as much of the blame as I do for our children being split apart? You knowing your daughter as much as I know my son? Why we separated? Is that what you’re wondering? Is it June?" Daniel said in an almost patronizing manner.

"No I don’t wonder why. I don’t care anymore. You did me a favor. The only reason I’m tolerating you now is because of our son. As much as I despise you, our son deserves a chance to know his father."

"You haven’t changed."

"Save it Daniel. I’m sick of arguing with you about something you CAN’T change. You dropped the ball. You let too many years slip by and you wonder why your son doesn’t want to know you?"

Daniel waved his hand at June in disgust and turned to walk away. He was getting too frustrated at her and knew he wouldn’t get anywhere in the current line of conversation. Best thing would be to walk away wouldn’t it?

"Yeah that’s right Daniel. You go on and walk away. You’re so good at it. Just walk away and let everyone else deal with everything."

"I CAN’T WIN WITH YOU CAN I?" Daniel shouted in sheer frustration. Tears burst from his eyes and he held his hands to his eyes trying to contain all the frustration he felt. "Damnit June just leave me alone."

June’s chest heaved at the amount of anger she was feeling right now. She couldn’t believe that she once loved this man as much as she once did. But as she realized she had won this battle she felt remorse at the state she had driven the father of her children to. She stepped closer to Daniel as he leant against his car with his head in his hands. June wondered if anyone else in the car park had heard the commotion they were causing. Surely at this time of the night someone would have heard something.

She put her hand softly on Daniel’s shoulder and held it there reassuringly. "I’m sorry Daniel."

Daniel turned around slowly, his head hanging down. "What happened June? What drove us to this?" Daniel asked, tears falling slowly as he spoke. "We used to be a family. A real family. Don’t you remember?"

"We just grew apart Daniel. We changed."

"No we didn’t. I didn’t realize what a good thing I had until it was too late. I didn’t give you the credit you deserved."

"Don’t do this Daniel."

"I can’t help it June. I’m still so in love with you. I never stopped."

"Don’t do this Daniel." June said shaking her head, her eyes welling up. "It’s too late. We’ve changed too much. I’m not the same woman you left."

"I know. You’re stronger. More independent. And you’re even more beautiful than the day I met you."

June held her head in her hands, shaking with the words being said to her and the impact it was having.

"I love you June. I love you. Do you know why we’re both still single?"


"Because we can’t be with anyone else but each other. We belong together. We have three beautiful children to prove that."

"This can’t be happening."

Daniel put his hand to June’s face gently, caressing it with love he hadn’t been able to show for too many years. He raised his other hand to her cheek and held her face in his hands. "I love you June. You’re the most beautiful person I have ever known. Look in my eyes and tell me you don’t still love me."

"You make me melt too easily Daniel Marcus. But I can’t help it. I still love you."

"Please give me a chance to prove myself to you. Let me be with you. Let me love you…please June."


* * * * * * *


Dade awoke from his slumber, yawning and stretching out his arms. He threw his cordless headphones on his head as he got up out of bed. Swinging his head from side to side as the music blared into his ears, charging him up for the day. He yawned again as he slipped on a pair of tearaway pants and threw his headphones back on his desk. He looked himself over in the mirror and did a few flexes just to make sure his tone was still there. He admired the way his abs were beginning to form a strong six pack, by the time he’d hit 15 in a few months he’d be as buff as Marcel. This was a morning ritual for Dade, he wasn’t vane or at least he didn’t think he was. He just liked being in shape and looking good. He liked the shape his body was taking, a good firm build, pecs and biceps were well defined for his age. Perfect for football when he hit the 10th grade.

"And the crowd goes wild." Dade mouthed. "Dade’s the man. Dade’s the man."

"Is that right?" Josh said smiling.

"What the?" Dade yelled in surprise. "What the hell are you doing here?"

"Ahh you let me stay over remember. You even let me sleep on the floor. Thanks for that."

"Oh yeah. Well hey I told you to go sleep on one of the other beds but you didn’t want to. And well mate I woulda let you sleep with me in my bed but…I don’t think you’d be able to help herself." Dade grinned. "So did ya get a good perve?"

"As if you got something to perve at? Little man." Josh said smiling back.

"Little…" Dade said narrowing his eyes.

Josh raised both his eyebrows in agreement, grinning at Dade. "Geez is that the time? I better be outta here."

"You don’t get away that easy fucker." Dade yelled jumping at Josh and slamming him against the wall. Dade put Josh in a headlock and imitated a DDT into the mattress of his bed. Josh started laughing at Dade’s sudden outburst. Dade clearly annoyed put Josh into a headlock and tightened his grip rhythmically, seemingly choking the life out of Josh.

"Now who’s the little man." Dade said red faced and smiling.

Josh put his arms around Dade and raised him into the air before he threw Dade onto his own bed.

"You are." Josh laughed as he grabbed Dade from behind and tackled him down to the floor, the two of them wrestling around on the floor. Josh held Dade against the floor with his arms behind him.

"Now who’s the master?" Josh grinned.

"I am!" Dade yelled kicking his leg back and nailing Josh square in the family jewels.

Josh reeled back in pain, squirming on the ground with his knees to his chest. Dade stood up proudly and raised Josh to his feet. "Sorry Josh but when you gotta win. You gotta win." Dade said patting Josh on the back.

"That was a low blow man."

"Your point being?" Dade said walking out of the room.

Dade carried on downstairs and walked into the kitchen looking for some breakfast. "Mike?" Dade said in surprise.

Mike was standing in front of the stove with a pan in one hand and a jug of pancake mix in the other. "Oh hey Bro. I’m just making some breakfast for us. Hungry?"

"Yeah Dude. I’m just surprised to see you. How are ya Bro?" Dade said sitting himself down at the bench next to Mike.

"I’m great man. By the way, Abby’s gone up to see Storm. She was going to wake you but thought you’d want to stay here with Josh. She’s not coming back. She’ll be going back home from seeing Storm so you’re stuck with me until Mom gets back. She left a note for you though with a bunch of flowers." Mike said smiling. "Maybe to give to your new boyfriend."

Right then Josh stumbled in, looking like he’d just been done over. Which he had of course. He sat down next to Dade, neither of them with any shirt on and making Dade feel slightly uncomfortable especially after hearing Mike’s smartass comment.

"Oh hi Mike." Josh smiled.

"Hey Josh. Rough night huh?" Mike grinned.

"Shut up Mike. Smart ass." Dade scowled.

"Phone’s been going hot for you all morning Dade. Natalie called, she didn’t say it was her but when she rings up as much as she does you start remembering her voice. And Robert and Hayden called."

"Oh well who cares about them. So anyway Bro what happened to you last night? I thought you were going to come back and hang with me."

"Sorry Man. I just…got caught up. Had to do some things."

"Things aye. Ok then. I missed ya though. I got stuck with this guy all night." Dade said punching Josh playfully and smiling at him so Josh knew he was only kidding.

Dade cursed under his breath as he heard the phone ring. He knew it would be for him but he hated talking to people on the phone. Especially ditzy girls.

"Dade it’s for you." Mike said handing the phone over with a grin.

Dade smiled at Josh and put his finger in his own mouth to simulate throwing up. Josh laughed back and Dade tried to compose himself. "Uhh Hello. Dade here. Wazzup?"

"Oh hi Natalie." Dade said rolling his eyes.

"Oh you did Natalie? That’s great."

"You wanna go to a movie today? Oh well geez I’d love to but I already have plans."

"Yeah yeah I’m going with some friends to the…Blade Bowl."

"Who? Uhh Josh Barrett and Mike. You know Mike. Yeah Captain of the high school football team." Dade said before he put his hand over the phone and mouthed to Mike that Natalie thought Mike was the coolest.

"Yeah I’m really sorry about that. Maybe some other time."

"Ok then. Bye Natalie."

Dade hung up the phone with a sigh of relief. "Well that was fun."

"Must be hard being such a stud huh." Mike said putting a plate of pancakes in front of Dade and Josh.

"Haha funny funny. They’d all ditch me in a heartbeat if they thought they had a chance with either of you two ‘football jocks’. Mike can I ask you a question?"

"Anything Bro."

"I want Claire Carlyle. What are my chances?"

"In between zip and zero." Mike said bluntly. "Ok maybe zero and two."


"I’m kidding Bro. I’ll be honest. She’d probably love ya. Except for the fact you’re still in Junior high. If she doesn’t have any hang ups about that, you’re home free."

"I’ve got it for her sooo bad man. Josh here’s going to help me aint ya Josh?"

"Sure I am Dade. Don’t know how exactly but I will." Josh said in between mouthfuls. "Mike these are fucking devine. Oops sorry, excuse my language. But these are like the best pancakes I’ve ever eaten. Where the hell did you learn to cook like this?"

"I dunno. I just know."

"Mike’s an awesome cook. And just plain awesome. Aint ya Mike?" Dade said proudly.

"So I’ve been told. I think it’s genetic." Mike smiled back.

"So Mike do you wanna come hang with us today? Oh that is if you want to Josh. If you’re not busy or anything."

"I’m not doing anything. I’d love to." Josh said perking up.

"Sorry Bro. As soon as I’ve finished here I’m going to see Sarah. They got back early this morning and she’s having a little sleep. Lucas is asleep in Storm’s room and Marcel’s asleep in the spare room. Couldn’t you hear him snoring?"

"Marcel doesn’t snore Mike. Geez I didn’t even hear them. I can’t believe Abby didn’t take me to see Storm."

"You and I both lucked out there. He should be back in a few days. I doubt Mom will let us miss out on school though. Monday tomorrow. We wouldn’t have enough time to drive up and back. And I doubt Marcel would feel like driving us up anyway."

"So he’s still asleep huh? Hmm. Ok well I’ll clear up these dishes. You can go see your baby now Mike. Say hi to her for me." Dade said finishing off the last bit of pancakes.

Mike patted Josh and Dade on the back as he went past and headed out the door. "I’ll see you later on Bro. Bye Josh."

"Later Bro!"

"Bye Mike."

Dade snapped into action as soon as Mike closed the door behind him. He wiped the bench clean quickly and took Josh’s plate and his own and put them near the sink.

"Hey I wasn’t finished!" Josh snarled.

"Too bad. You can finish later." Dade said grabbing Josh and dragging him upstairs. "Now keep quiet."

Dade tiptoed down the hallway towards the spare room at the end. He quietly opened the door and motioned Josh to come towards him. Josh creeped up behind Dade quietly and waited for Dade to do something.

"I don’t usually do this but if I help you. You’re going to help me. Now there’s Marcel. Your sleeping beauty."

Josh’s eyes went wide and he looked like he was about to hyperventilate realising how close he was to the guy of his dreams. Dade smiled at Josh’s love struck face. He put his hand on Josh’s shoulder and leant into Josh’s ear.

"Do you trust me?"


"Good. Now go have a shower and stay out of my sight for 20 minutes. Trust me on this."

"Yeah ok."

"Ok. Wish me luck." Dade said slowly tiptoeing into the room and closing the door behind him.

Dade walked towards Marcel’s bed nervously and decided he may as well get his plan under way now. He jumped on top of Marcel, Marcel waking with a start and a pissed off look on his face.

"SSsshhh." Dade said putting his finger to Marcel’s mouth.

"What the hell did you do that for?" Marcel asked perturbed.

"Honestly? I just felt like it." Dade smiled.

Dade lay on top of Marcel with his finger still hushing Marcel. Marcel waited for Dade to move his finger again so he could speak. "What do you want?" Marcel whispered.

"Tell me who you like."

"What? That’s what you woke me up for? Dade I’m really tired. I’ve been driving all night." Marcel said trying his best to be quiet.

"Please Marcel. Just tell me who you like."

"Do you really want to hear this? You won’t be weirded out?"

"Oh please. Gimmie some credit. Just tell me already."

"Ok. I like Jacob Carlyle. Yeah Claire’s brother. I just met him properly at the sports meet but I think he’s the hell babe."

"Oh." Dade said deflated. "Is there anyone else you like, anyone at all?"

"Well I suppose there are a few people at school. I mean you know I love Storm but that’s a lost cause. Ummm maybe Carl Bentley. Oh nah not really even him. There’s actually not many people. Maybe a few out of the football team."

"Like who? Brad? Josh?"

"The only day I’ll like Brad is when he’s…nope better left unsaid. And Josh well…Josh is cute but he’s a bit wimpy for me. He never seems to stand up for himself and is always following people around."

"Oh." Dade said even more deflated. "Well Brad I can understand."

"Josh…well even if he were like me I don’t really think there’s anything there. I mean…I don’t know. Why are you asking me this Dade?"

"I was just wondering." Dade said, his heart feeling for Josh’s unknowing rejection. "So Marcel you’re the expert with the ladies. Ironic aint it? Anyway. How do I ask Claire out?"

"Like this…’Claire, would you like to go out with me sometime?’"

"That’s it?"

"Short and sweet mate."

"Marcel…can I ask you another question. Don’t be mad or anything I’m just wondering."

"Go for it buddy."

"What about me?"

"What about you?"

"What about ‘me’?"

"Holy shit. Dade get the hell off me. What you been smoking buddy?" Marcel said pushing Dade off him and sitting up.

"Nevermind." Dade said standing up.

"No wait, Dade Dade what’s wrong?" Marcel asked concerned as he pulled Dade back down next to him.

"Well what’s wrong with me? You can love Storm but you can’t love me?"

"Where’s this coming from? I had no idea. Dade are you ok?"

"Just forget about it."

"No. Dade what’s going on?"

"I just wanna know why the hell no one’s looking at me. I mean I’m right here and nobody gives a shit. I’m either too young or I’m Storm’s little brother or some other bullshit. I mean you guys have got your little love/like things going on with each other. Sarah and Mike. Storm and Sarah. Storm and Lucas. Marcel and Storm. Marcel and Jacob. Marcel and J…nothing. But never any Dade. Why the hell doesn’t anyone notice me? ‘Me’ Aren’t I good enough or something?"

"Dade you are so full of shit." Marcel said cracking up.

"What?" Dade said smiling in surprise. "Why am I so full of shit?"

"Because. You’re saying nobody notices you. Ok Dade you try going one day without any of us noticing you. Won’t happen. Never has. Never will."

"Yeah but everyone treats me like their little brother or little buddy or little Dade but mate in case you hadn’t noticed I aint little! So I’m a grade under the rest of you. It doesn’t mean shit. I’m sick of being treated like that. I want people to notice ‘me’ not Dade the cool little bud or bro. I mean come on Marcel have you ever asked me how I feel about love. About sex. About just how I’m really feeling. Do you have any idea what I’m going on about? I want to be treated as an equal."

"I thought…I did."

"You treat me awesome Marcel. I…I just…oh hell I think I should just shut up."

"How do you feel about love?"

"I think it’s awesome. I would love to have someone know me inside out. I’d love to be able to know that I have someone who loves me just as much as I love them. Someone I can share things with and be with. I want what Mike and Sarah have. Hell I’d even be happy with what Storm and Lucas have. They both have love. Why can’t I have it? And everyone I want to love just won’t even give me a second look."


"Who the hell do you think?" Dade said frustrated.

"Oh my G…me?"

"You think I like you holding me just for the hell of it? You think I like being with you just because I feel like it? You think I turn to you just because I can? Hell no. But you never even would have worked that out would you? You were too busy falling head over fucking heels in love with my brother. Just like every fucking other person in this damn town. Both you and Claire. I’m so sick of that shit. I hate being me. I hate it. And I hate the fact I just let you see me."

"Oh man…I never would’ve"

"No you wouldn’t and that just proves my whole point. Being me sucks." Dade said walking out and slamming the door behind him. His heart was racing and he couldn’t believe he’d just opened up to Marcel the way he did. "Sucks being me." Dade mumbled under his breath.

"Josh hurry the fuck up." Dade yelled pounding on the bathroom door. "I need to get out of this damn house."

"Dade wait!" Marcel yelled.

"Fuck you." Dade yelled back. "Fuck everyone."

Marcel ran after Dade and was caught off guard when Josh opened the door to the bathroom and stepped out with a towel around his waist. "Oh hi Marcel. What’s wrong with Dade?"

"Yeah hi. I’m trying to find out." Marcel said running straight past Josh and down the stairs.

Marcel ran after Dade as Dade grabbed a t-shirt that lay on the ground and slipped it over quickly. Dade tried to slam the door behind him but Marcel caught it and grabbed Dade’s arm. "Get your hands off me." Dade snarled ripping his arm back.

"Dade. Get in the fucking car.." Marcel said bluntly as he walked towards his Jeep Wrangler. "Now."

Dade didn’t know what to do. As he looked at Marcel he knew Marcel wasn’t messing around. Dade walked over to the Jeep and jumped in without saying a word. Marcel turned the car on and slammed it into reverse. He sped down the street and headed towards his own house. He sped down the roads and turned into his own street. Neither said anything to the other the whole trip. Marcel pulled into the driveway and slammed on the brakes.

"Nobody’s here." Marcel said looking half pissed as he got out of the Jeep. "If you wanna start yelling now’s the time. But we’re gonna sort this shit out now Dade."

"What shit? There is no shit for ‘us’ to sort out. I’ve got all my own shit I don’t need any of yours." Dade said getting out of the car and heading into Marcel’s house.

As soon as they were both inside Marcel slammed the door and flipped Dade around towards him "Now tell me, what the hell is going on?"

"What the hell do you care?" Dade said defeatedly. "Who gives a shit?"

"I give a shit. Dade, it’s me Marcel. You’re hurting me here man. Don’t do this to me please. I need to know what’s going on."

"What do you think’s going on? I’m in love with you. Ok. I love you. And not the way you thought I did. And you should’ve noticed me. A long time ago."

"You mean all this time…I could’ve had you?"

"All this time. But it’s too late. I’m not going to be your second choice place getter. I’m not going to be the person you ‘settle’ for because you couldn’t have the one you wanted. Telling you all this and seeing your reaction just proves to me that you don’t love me the way I needed you to. Or you would’ve at least had a clue. And once again I say…sucks being me. Now let me be."

"No. No. Fuck." Marcel said putting his head in his hands. "Dade please…"

"You chose a path and that path didn’t and doesn’t include me. I’m the path you didn’t take. I’m the one that got overlooked. I’m the one nobody noticed. AAaaaaHHH" Dade screamed in frustration. "I HATE being ME!" he cried sliding down against the cold wall.

"Oh Dade.’ Marcel said sitting down beside Dade and taking him into his arms. "I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry you’ve had to go through that. I’m so sorry." Marcel said tears escaping him as he consoled a wreck of a Dade.

"Sucks being me." Dade whispered.

"Dade I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to fix things."

"Ahh forget about it. I’ll just have to deal with it as I’ve always done. Put up a face and smile for everyone. Good little Dade." Dade said standing up and wiping his eyes. "I’ll be fine Marcel. I just need time. Just forget about me. I’ll survive. Tomorrow it’ll be as if nothing ever happened. Just like always."

Dade walked out the door and closed it behind him. Marcel sat against the wall shivering and sobbing, the realization he was the reason Dade felt so much pain overwhelmed him completely. It seemed like some sort of vicious circle. Dade having to repeat the cycle he’d been through.

"He can’t be." Marcel mumbled under his breath. "God don’t make him go through this. Don’t let him be like me. He has to be confused. He just has to be."


* * * * * * *


"I have nothing to say to you." I said scowling at the sight of my father coming into my hospital room.

He stood at the foot of the hospital bed and hung his head, unsure of what to say. Eventually he looked at me, his eyes looking almost sorry. "I know…you blame me for a lot of things. And god knows you’ve had to fill my role in the last few years. But the bottom line is, you’re my son and I will always love you. No matter what."

I didn’t say anything. It wasn’t the action I was expecting. Or wanting to expect. I just closed my eyes and hoped he’d leave.

"Daniel…Storm. I have so much to make up for. Lost time. Lost years. I can’t begin to imagine what you’ve had to deal with. I thought I was doing the right thing. I figured in time things would sort themselves out…that was years ago. Wasted time. I’m so sorry for letting you down son. For not being there all the times you needed me. I know I can’t expect a miracle from one apology. But I’m asking for the chance to make up for…mistakes past. We used to be a family remember. You used to love me. We used to be so close. Please Son. Give me one chance."

Uh oh. Ok so a few tears slip so what. I just felt so torn up inside. I didn’t know what to think. All I’d ever known was how to hate my father. I don’t need to hear that he loves me. I don’t need that. I tried to turn away again and close my eyes. Hoping this nightmare would end or someone would rescue me.

"Son. You need me. Whether you like it or not. And I want to be there for you."

"I needed you four fucking years ago." I yelled back suddenly, my rage surprising me even. I yelled so hard I hurt my stomach. I couldn’t hide the tears any more, the pain was too much. Both the physical and the emotional. "You’re a little late."

"Look I didn’t want to leave. I didn’t want to leave you and Dade. Your mother and I…."

"Oh I’m sick of hearing that bullshit every time I see you." I said frustrated. The pain in my gut became more severe with every word I spoke and began to move around my entire body. I could feel my breath shorting on me but I was too proud to ask this screw up for help. "Just leave me alone."

"What do you want from me?"

"Same thing I’ve always wanted. Nothing."

"Have I hurt you this much? I’m truly sorry. I’m trying my best by you Storm. I’ve missed out on so much of your life. Important time. I screwed up. I really screwed up. I think that you’re old enough now to know whether you want me to be a part of your life. So I’m giving you the choice. If you really hate me so much and all I cause you is pain. I’ll stay away. But if even one part of you wants to give me a chance I swear I won’t let you down. The ball’s in your court Son. Just know that no matter what I will always love you."

I closed my eyes and tried to summon all the hate I’d felt to give me the energy for that one final push. But I didn’t have it in me. As much as I hated to admit it, I needed my Dad. I wiped the tears from my eyes and held my head in my hands. How do I do this? Somebody please tell me what to do.

"I…I…need my Dad." I gulped.

"Thank you Son." He said taking me in his arms and holding me close. I sobbed into his shoulder and wrapped my arms around him, grabbing on as tightly as I could.

"I needed you so much Dad." I sobbed.

"I’m so sorry Son. I’m so sorry. I need you so much. I won’t ever let you down again I promise. I swear it." He said kissing my forehead and holding me close. His fingers wrapping through my hair and touching my face as if he were only just getting to know me. I realised he didn’t know me. I’d never let him get this close in years.

I cried away all the frustration I’d felt. All the anger I had buried inside. And all the hurt that fuelled it. I let him see my vulnerability and need. And for the first time in so long he was there for me when I needed him.

"Thank you." I whispered finally.

"For what?"

"For not giving up on me."

"I never will. I’m just so angry at myself for losing so much time. Things could have been so much different if only your mother and I hung on."

"Well we can’t go through life singing our shoulda woulda couldas. Sure things could have been different if we had of gone down a different track. But we didn’t. This is where we are. Let’s make the most of it."

"You’re pretty clever."

"Just practical I think."

"Just like your mother."

"That’s a good thing."

"Don’t I know it."

"So what do we do now?"

"I’m going to sit here while you tell me all about what makes your life right now. And don’t tell me you’ve got somewhere to go."

"Damn." I smiled. "Ok you asked for it. Well you know I came 2nd place in the district open meet."

"Oh yeah your mother was telling me. She says you’re a lethal weapon."

"Haha yeah whatever. I could tell you a few stories." I said rolling my eyes and smiling.

"We got plenty of time."

"Yeah. We do don’t we."

* * * * * * *

Well here it is, finally.   Chapter 13, the third and final draft.  Some saw the first.  Some hated the second.  But you're all stuck with the third.  Whatever you think of this chapter don't and I mean DON'T start spitting tacks until you've read Chapter 14.   They're like two pieces of a puzzle.  Anyway, hope you enjoyed!


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