By SF Writer
Copyright 2002   Stormnation, All rights reserved.

Chapter 14: Redemption

* * * * * * *

Dade walked up the stairs and trudged slowly towards his door. He stepped inside his room and closed the door, leaning his head against it and sighing. His finger resting softly on the light switch, waiting for the signal to turn it on. It had been such a long day, Dade didn’t want the light to invade him. His thoughts filled with pain and want.

He wouldn’t cry though, wouldn’t let the pain get to him. He could beat it. He’d done it so many times before. He was in control. Dade could handle it. Suck it in and keep going. Same as always.

"I can do it." Dade whispered to himself.

"You can do anything you want."

"Marcel?" Dade said surprised turning around to see Marcel lying down on Dade’s bed with his hands behind his head, staring blankly at the ceiling. The only thing illuminating him being the moonshine that lit the night.

Dade’s immediate reaction betrayed his desired motives. His face lit up for an instant at seeing the familiar form of his…well what was Marcel to Dade now? A former friend? Dade sighed realising his short showing of his true feelings. His eyes silently traced the moonlight down Marcel’s face and across the laying form of his body. At that moment Dade knew he wanted Marcel more than anything he had ever wanted in his life. Clarity had graced Dade with its presence, making his desires solid and certain.

Dade wanted things to be the way they used to be so he could let Marcel hold him and take his pain away. Wanted to jump next to Marcel right now and talk the night away about anything he wanted to. Wanted to just be close to Marcel so he could feel safe and warm. Marcel had a comforting reassuring effect on Dade that Dade couldn’t get enough of. There were so many reasons for Dade to love Marcel but not one of them were strong enough for him to lower his guard.

"What are you doing here Marcel?" Dade asked finally.

"Waiting for you."

"It’s late. I’m tired. I’ve got to wake up early for training before school tomorrow so I’m not in the mood ok."

"What did I do? Do you hate me now?" Marcel asked quietly.

Dade hung his head in slight disappointment at himself for making Marcel feel guilty or unwanted. His intention not being that. He slumped down in his desk chair and stared at the ground waiting for some sort of inspiration. He couldn’t find any.


"Of course I don’t hate you. I just don’t want to be near you knowing that you know I love you and the fact you don’t want me. Never wanted me. I don’t need to be reminded of how inadequate I am."

"Dade…" Marcel said sitting up. "That is such bullshit. Don’t say that man. You are not inadequate. Where the hell do you get off saying things like that? I don’t need to tell you how awesome you are. I shouldn’t have to. You should already know it." Marcel said sounding pissed off more than anything else at Dade’s comment.

Dade shook his head defiantly and remained tight lipped. The anger in him welling up in his eyes and threatening to burst. And that was the last thing he wanted.

"Dade you’ll get past this. In time you’ll look back at this moment and thank your lucky stars nothing happened. You’re not like me. Because you deserve better than this and I know you can get it. You can have whatever you want. Do anything you want."

"Damnit Marcel shut up! I don’t need you trying to make me feel better. If it makes you feel better to try and save me, good for you. I don’t need you rubbing in how pathetic I am. Salt in the wound. Just fuck off Marcel." Dade said clenching his fists over his eyes in frustration. Tears tempting him with the release they could offer but he would not let them come.

"Dade…let me help you. Please…"

"I said FUCK OFF!" Dade yelled. "I don’t need your pity. I don’t need you. I don’t need anyone. Just fuck off."

Marcel visibly shaken and shocked by Dade’s sharp outburst brushed his hand through his hair nervously. He leant forward and put his head in his hands, breathing heavily with silent tears falling unnoticed.

"It hurts to be around you Marcel. I know you mean well. But it’s not good for either of us any more. Things have changed. They’ll never be how they used to be. All I know is whenever I’m around you now I’m torn inside."

Marcel sighed and looked at the floor in dismay and remorse. "I’m so sorry. I hate the fact that I do that to you. I never want to hurt you Dade. I could never do that. Not knowingly."

Dade tried to say something but he choked and couldn’t get the words out. Marcel moved himself opposite Dade and took Dade’s hands, holding them tightly.

"Bye Dade. I love you. When you need me, I’ll be waiting." Marcel said choking, not bothering to hide the fact he was crying.

"Bye..." Dade said letting himself release tears he had never shown before.

Dade sobbed and brought Marcel’s hands to his lips, holding them there tightly for what seemed an eternity. Farewelling Marcel in his own way. He held Marcel’s hand to his face and closed his eyes. Feeling the soft smoothness of Marcel’s skin against his own.

Marcel stood up slowly and Dade let his hands go. Dade closed his eyes and lowered his head, not wanting to make eye contact with Marcel. He could hear Marcel walking away and then pause, no doubt looking back in the hope Dade would offer some reprieve. He didn’t.

Dade heard the door close softly and he opened his eyes and looked up with such sadness in his eyes, it was unfathomable. But he had what he wanted, what he needed. Release from the pain of being in the presence of someone who doesn’t want you the way you long for them.

He had lost his best friend. Sure Marcel would still be around, they would probably even exchange the odd conversation. They would sure see each other a lot. But they’d never be as close as they used to be. Dade wouldn’t allow it. He was vulnerable to Marcel now, so the wall had to go up. That was the way it would be. And right now Dade thought that was best.

Lying down on his bed, Dade wrapped himself up in his blanket and shivered from the cold that existed only in his mind. Shivered and wept, wept and shivered until the night claimed him and his demons.


* * * * * * *


Claire saw the lunchroom line and decided she wouldn’t put herself through the agony of standing in it. Now she realised why she would rather bring her own lunch, that and the fact she thought the school food sucked and was overpriced. She decided she’d go and find Sarah now and come back for some lunch later when the line wasn’t so full.

Claire headed towards the indoor basketball courts where she figured Sarah would be, finding ways to improve her already awesome game. Most likely due to the high standards she placed upon herself. Sarah had the highest rebound and shot point average in the girls team and second highest overall in the school. Her determination and standards had scored her the captaincy she excelled at. Their team a high prospect to win the district champs. Sarah’s motto for the team being ‘second place is for people who aren’t good enough to come first’. An extreme point of view to some people but still one Sarah lived by. She demanded excellence in everything she did or she wouldn’t do it.

This side of Sarah daunted Claire but Sarah never seemed to be critical of anything Claire did. Sarah’s criticism usually limited to herself or her teammates of whom it was Sarah’s responsibility to lead, so she led by example.

Sure enough Claire spotted Sarah practicing her lay up shots. Her face iron clad with determination and sweat. Claire gulped as she watched Sarah, Sarah having a daunting effect on Claire. Claire felt however that Sarah was one of the more positive influences in this school and she almost idolised Sarah. Sarah had so many qualities Claire wished she had, she figured if she hung with Sarah long enough she’d pick up on some of them.

"Hey Sarah. I’ve been looking all over for you." Claire said smiling at Sarah.

"Oh hey Claire." Sarah smiled, pausing to wipe the sweat off with a towel.

"I was wondering what you’d be doing. I was hoping we could hang out but I can see you’re busy."

"Oh no I’d love to I’ll just hit the showers. Be 5 minutes max." Sarah said grabbing her gear and heading towards the changing room.

Claire stood patiently waiting for Sarah, smiling just because she felt like it. It was a beautiful day, she had an awesome friend and she just felt happy. Nothing could ruin it.

"Hi Claire." Brad said smugly approaching Claire.

"Brad." Claire said bluntly. Her smile turning into a frown at the presence of who she considered the school loser and his two tag along buddies Scott and Peter.

"What are ya doing?" Brad said smiling, Claire almost repulsed by the thought of Brad smiling at her.

"What does it look like I’m doing?"

"It looks like you’re getting yourself ready for a date with the Bradster."

"Yeah, whatever. Why don’t you take your right hand out on a date Brad?"

"Who do you think you’re talking to? I’m not some punk. I’m the damn star player, Merlow’s finest. You should consider yourself lucky that I’m even thinking about dating you. Most girls would love a chance with the Brad."

"Well then you shouldn’t have any trouble finding someone. Now leave me alone. See Ya." Claire said turning to walk away.

"Hey!" Brad said putting his hand on Claire’s shoulder to hold her back.

Sarah grabbed Brad’s hand and flung it off Claire. "She said leave her alone."

"Butt out Sarah." Brad scowled taken by surprise at Sarah’s arrival.

Sarah stood herself in between Claire and Brad, blocking his way. "No."

"I said butt out. Now get out of my way before I move you myself."

"Brad I know you’ve got a really small brain and all but you have to learn what ‘no’ means."

"Bitch, get the fuck out of my way."

"Ok listen up. Only a few people get to call me that. You’re not one of them. And the answer’s still no."

"Stupid fuck." Brad said striking Sarah on the side of her face.

Sarah reeled back in shock as Brad tried to shove her out of the way but she rebuffed him, stepping quickly to the side and using his own momentum to trip him over. Brad tried to get up but before he could Sarah drove her knee into Brads back, resting her weight there and pinning him down flat on his face. She leaned her head down to his, pulling his head up by his hair.

"Brad…you are nothing. Do you hear me? Nothing." Sarah said speaking with cold certainty.

When Brad attempted to get up Sarah smashed his head against the floor and kneed him in the back again, winding him. She stood up and faced Scott and Peter who were watching on unsure of what to do. They couldn’t very well touch Sarah, not just because she was a girl but because she was Mikes girl. And as well as that she just wasn’t someone you fucked with, she had more power in the school than most of the jocks. She was popular, she commanded a lot of respect and she was one tough chick. She didn’t get two stages away from a complete black belt by just looking pretty. Although the legacy left by her two older jock king brothers helped pave the way for her and she simply pulled the reins in when it came her time.

"What?" Sarah asked casually looking at Scott and Peter nonchalantly.

"Nothing, Sarah."

"You two. You helped him beat Storm?" Sarah said, her face flustered and getting angrier by the second.

"Yeah, but we only did what he told us to do."

"Why the hell do you have minds if you aren’t going to use them? Now tell me what the hell did Storm do to you?"

"Uhh nothing."

"You think I can’t kick your ass? You think Storm wouldn’t have taken you one on one? You couldn’t even look him in the eyes before you went after him. I thought you’re supposed to be men. From now on, if I see you with Brad I’m going to make your lives hell. Who scares you most? Him or me?"

"Don’t listen to her." Brad said getting to his knees.

"STAY the fuck down!" Sarah said kicking Brad in the head and knocking him to the ground.

"Do I make myself clear?" Sarah said coldly to Scott and Peter.

"Yes, Sarah."

"Good. Now fuck off and stay away from Brad."

Sarah watched as Brad’s two mindless sidekicks deserted him. She turned to Brad and motioned him to get to his feet. She stepped closer to him, her presence making him uncomfortable and forcing him back against the wall. Sarah stared Brad down unrelenting, neither of them saying anything. Brad had lost his cocky confidence now, outmatched by Sarah’s pure fire.

"You don’t sca..." Brad began to stutter.

Sarah’s anger overwhelmed her as she picked up her basketball and threw it full force into Brad’s face, knocking his head back into the wall and causing him to falter. Brad covered his head with his hands and reeled in pain.

"This is for Storm." Sarah said bitterly, roundhouse kicking Brad in the stomach.

"This is for Dade." Sarah said clenching her fist and slamming it into Brad’s jaw.

"And this is for me…" Sarah said striking the side of Brad’s face the same way he’d struck her.

Brad fell back and slumped against the wall, moaning in agony. Sarah had moved so quickly Brad couldn’t even react. Sarah’s anger consumed her and she had to stop herself from beating Brad senseless. Her contempt for him unmatched by anything else she felt right now.

"I nailed all those fuckers." Brad snickered.

Sarah couldn’t believe the arrogance of this scum. She picked Brad up roughly by the collar and slammed him against the wall, pressing her forearm against his neck and holding the back of his head by his hair painfully.

"I’ve got so many reasons to beat you stupid." Sarah said breathing heavily. "But I don’t need to beat you because you’re already stupid. Do I?"

"No, Sarah." Brad said, his cocky arrogance gone and almost on the verge of tears at being so humiliated.

"Not so Mr. Cocky now are we? Brad do you know how much I hate you? How much I want to hurt you the way you’ve hurt so many people. Do you have any idea how evil you are?"

"No, Sarah." Brad said croakily.

"Look at you now. You’re so pathetic. I can’t believe we used to be friends. Why did you do it? Why’d you beat Storm? Why’d you hit Dade? Why are you such a fuck up? Why are you such a fucking loser? Do you get a kick out of hurting people?"

"He pissed me off. I hate him. I hate him. He makes me so angry. He deserved it. They both did. Acting like they’re better than everyone else. He’s so damn high and mighty. Thought he was too good to be friends with me. But I showed him I’m the better man. I sure did."

"This is how good you are." Sarah said spitting in Brad’s face. "He is too good for you. Everyone in this school is too good for you. You’re nothing but a loser. And I am going to make sure you don’t hurt anyone again. From now on, you have no friends. You have no life…" Sarah said letting go and stepping back. "And I’ll be watching."

Brad covered his head with his hands and tried to hide the fact he was crying. Sarah almost let herself feel for him but she didn’t. She turned to walk away and was followed close behind by Claire. They left Brad sitting alone in the Gymnasium and headed out to the lunch tables in the courtyard outside.

They both sat down and Sarah covered her flustered face. Claire put her arm around Sarah and rubbed her back. "Are you ok Sarah?" Claire asked softly.

"I’ll be fine." Sarah replied rubbing her sore cheek. She still couldn’t believe that Brad had actually hit her and was a little shaken but all things considered felt she’d handled herself well.

"Why are you trying to help him?"

"What?" Sarah asked confused.

"Why are you trying to help Brad? You’re bringing him to his knees in the hope he’ll learn the error of his ways aren’t you? You’re going to ruin his reputation to try and humble the prick. Take away his friends and make him realise what a loser he is. Why? Why give him the help? Why don’t you just give him what he deserves and crush the stupid fuck."

"Well…we used to be friends a long long time ago. We all did. I think he needs help. And I think this is the only way I can help him. You can’t just talk him into realising what a shithead he is. You have to make him realise."

"I’d still prefer to crush the shit. He’s caused so much trouble. I mean he hit you. I can’t believe he did that."

"It’s not the first time he and I have fought. And I think I gave him as good as he gave me."

"Hell yeah. You fair whipped his ass. Remind me never to piss you off."

"Well I told you before, I’ve had practice with my older brothers." Sarah smiled. "And I was only two steps away from a black belt in karate before my parents pulled me out. When I rejoin I should have it within six months. You think I got all those trophies in my room by just painting my fingernails?"

"Which trophies in particular? You’ve got so damn many. You sports freak you."

"So shoot me. It’s just how I am. I must have picked it up from hanging around with the guys so much."

"I’ll say. Storm the karate freak. Dade the hockey king. Mike the quarterback. Lucas the stud. I mean football pro. Marcel he’s just awesome. Our all round athletics and tri-athlete king. All of you are damn freaks. Mike’s got pro written all over him. Marcel’s got Olympics in his genes and you’re just like damn. National Basketball Captain?"

"I think you’re getting ahead of yourself. All I did was lay Brad out. With three shit for brains slaves he can take people out but alone he isn’t anything. I’ve had worse."

"So basically you can kick anyone’s ass."

"When it matters." Sarah said bluntly.

"And did it matter with Brad?"

"It mattered."

"So are you going to tell Mike that Brad hit you?"

"No…Mike’s got his own problems. He doesn’t need mine..."


* * * * * * *


The Sun set on another day in Merlow, night crept in. The cool evening breeze weaving its way through the air. The gentle murmur of people talking filled the up beat undeRage bar known as EviDance. The smells of hot apple pie teasing the patrons.

As Lucas and Marcel sat sipping their shakes, Lucas kept looking at Marcel oddly every few minutes or so. Marcel’s eyes staring blankly out the window to the view of Lake Herren and the snow capped mountains miles in the distance.

"Marcel, what’s wrong?" Lucas asked finally.

"Oh. Nothing."

"Look, something’s wrong. Don’t deny it. Now you can either tell me about it or wallow by yourself. Your choice Dude."

"Ok." Marcel sighed. "I broke someone’s heart. I could see…I could feel the pain they went through. I hated it. I’ve been where they were. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. And now I know what it feels like to be on the other side and it feels even worse."

"Can you tell me who?"

"I can’t, I’m sorry."

"Don’t be. So you’re feeling bad because you broke someone’s heart. Was it like what happened with you and Storm?"

"It feels worse. Now I know how Storm felt and it sucks. You want to give the person what they want but you have to stay true to yourself as well. You have to do right by both parties. But it’s so hard. There’s so much hurt. When I felt what hurt I caused that person I wanted to die."

"But you didn’t hurt them. You can’t help what they feel."

"I know. I know. I just can’t help but feel responsible. I really care about this person. Heck I love them but just not like that. I’m not even sure if it’s what they want…or even need."

"Marcel. I’m sorry man. I wish there were some way I could help."

"I wish there were too. Thanks for being there though. You know…to listen and all."

"Hey, that’s what friends are for right?"

‘Friends?’ Marcel thought to himself. He didn’t even have that with Dade any more. No friendship, no anything. Just echoes of the past flashing in his mind. He closed his eyes and rubbed his forehead in frustration.

"Dude?" Lucas asked concerned.

"I’m ok. I’m ok. I’m sorry I’m not much good company today Lucas." Marcel sighed.

"We all have our ups and downs. I’m just glad you and I are friends now. Real friends."

"Yeah." Marcel smiled. "Can never have enough of those right?"

"Right." Lucas said nodding his head up and down and smiling at Marcel.

"So how are you Lucas? Missing your baby?"

"Well I’ll be talking to him on the phone in about an hour. I miss him right now. And probably 2 minutes after I hang up I’ll start missing him again. But at least I know he’s ok and he’s coming back in a few days hopefully so I’m ok I guess. I’m just happy he’s ok. I was so worried…scared he wasn’t going to make it."

"Storm’s a fighter. I never doubted for a minute that he’d be ok. I may have doubted for a few seconds but definitely not a minute."

"Well he’s going to be just fine. And that’s all there is to it."

Marcel raised his eyebrow in bewilderment at Lucas subliminal smile. He’d been wearing it ever since they’d come back from visiting Storm. Marcel would’ve expected Lucas to be feeling a bit lower. "What’s with the silly smile you’ve been wearing for the past few days?" Marcel asked.

"Oh. Uuuh. I guess it’s because I know Storm really loves me. I mean I knew he did but…I dunno. He just gave me a reason to be sure in the fact he does. And it makes me happy. I know I should be feeling blue but I can’t help it. He loves me. I know he’ll be back eventually so I don’t mind. As long as he loves me. And he does."

"What was the reason?"

"He kissed me. He looked at me. He acknowledged me."

"Uhh yeah and…" Marcel said trying not to laugh.

"Well he did all that in front of the Doc. It’s the first time he’s ever done that in front of anyone outside of our group. He’s always going on at me about watching ourselves but it’s like he didn’t give a shit now. All he wanted to do was to show me he cared. Maybe I’m making too much of it. Or just being too sentimental." Lucas said casting his eyes down into his milkshake as he swirled it with his straw.

"Na uh Dude boy." Marcel said swallowing a bit of the burger he was eating, trying to talk in between mouthfuls. "I know Storm. That’s a big deal. I know how he thinks. As do you, that’s why you feel special because you know it was a big step for him. It was important. It meant a lot to him and you. Trust me, I know everything." Marcel smiled.

"You don’t know what my birthday is."

"Ok so I don’t know EVERYTHING. Just everything that’s important that’s all." Marcel grinned.

Lucas narrowed his eyes in mock anger and shook his head smiling. "Well at least you’re smiling now Blondie."

"Yeah yeah."

"I’m going over to Storm’s to see Dade and Mike and wait for Storm to call. What are you getting up to now? You wanna come?"

"Nah I better go home. I got a shitload of homework to do. Plus I still gotta fit in some cardio too."

"Man you are such a stud. You’re going to please the socks off of some Dude that’s for sure."

"That’s the problem." Marcel said shrugging and getting to his feet. "I’ll see you at school tomorrow Bud. Stay awesome."

"You too Dude. Take care." Lucas said biting into his burger and waving at Marcel as he left.

Lucas sat eating his burger and looking out the window as dusk faded and gave way to night outside. He smiled thinking about the moment Storm would come back and they could finally spend the quality time that had been so harshly and frequently taken away from them lately.

Lucas finished off his food and rose to his feet, throwing his bag over his shoulder and taking one final sip of his shake. He turned to head towards the door and paused when he saw Brad sitting down at a table…by himself. Lucas thought the site odd as Brad was almost never alone. He made it a habit to always have some sidekick by his side, especially in this place. Lucas shook his head and shrugged, not particularly caring if Brad had any friends or not.

Lucas made his way across town and headed towards the familiar streets of North Merlow. He crossed the small wooden bridge at the North Western end of Lake Herren, a shortcut which put him only 5 minutes from Storm’s street. The lights from across the lake sparkled and Lucas almost couldn’t believe he was looking across the lake at EviDance where he had been what seemed only moments ago. Still when you know your way around Merlow, everything’s only moments away from each other or you can at least pretend it is.

Finally making it to Storm’s street Lucas climbed up the side of the house and threw himself through the window and onto Storm’s bed. Smiling to himself he curled up with Storm’s blankets and inhaled the familiar scent of his absent love. Lucas felt comfortable in this room, even more than he did in his own these days. Even though Storm wasn’t around Lucas spent a lot of time here. It helped him feel as though he were close to Storm.


"Oh shit." Lucas yelled jumping to his feet. "Dade man don’t do that."

"Sorry, couldn’t help myself. I thought I heard you. These are all your clothes. I just washed them all while I was doing mine." Dade said putting Lucas clothes on Storm’s bed and walking back out.

"Thanks Dade. Sorry I left them lying around."

"Hey don’t worry this place is a regular hotel. We aim to please." Dade said sarcastically.

"You ok man? You wanna hang out for a bit? You spend less time at this house then I do these days."

"Define ‘hang out’. You mean you want me to keep you company until Storm calls right?"

"Uuh I…"

"No thanks. And clean up your fucken room when you’ve finished will you?" Dade scowled closing the door behind him.

"Whoa." Lucas said shaking his head. "That was…harsh."

Lucas eyebrows furrowed in puzzlement. That wasn’t like Dade. Lucas took his bag off and put it in Storm’s wardrobe and looked around the room to make sure it was clean. He didn’t want to piss Dade off any more than he had already. Although he didn’t think he had really done much to piss Dade off.

Lucas walked out of Storm’s room and headed downstairs and into the kitchen where Dade was prepping the dishes for the dishwasher. Dade obviously taking stance as the keeper of the house while his mother and brother were out of town and Abby having gone back to work in her town again.

"Where’s Mike? Isn’t he supposed to be looking after you Dude?"

"I don’t need Mike to look after me. Does it look like I need Mike to look after me?" Dade said frustrated, almost smashing a plate as he rinsed it. "And he’s sleeping in the spare room."

"Dade what’s wrong?"

"What do you care?" Dade mumbled under his breath.

"Dude what are you talking about? I care about you Dade."

"Whatever. I’m your boyfriend’s little brother. You have to be nice to me."

"Dude that’s not true. We’re friends."

"Whatever whatever. It doesn’t matter. I’m going to Robert’s. When Storm calls tell him I love him and I hope he’s doing ok. See ya." Dade said drying his hands with a handtowel and slipping a jacket on as he walked out the door.

"Dade wait!" Lucas yelled, his only response being the closing of the door.

"What was all that about?" Mike yawned as he walked down the stairs and sat down at the kitchen table.

"Something’s wrong with Dade." Lucas said sitting down next to Mike.

"Nothing’s wrong with him. He’s just growing up. He’s a lot more mature than a lot of us though. He’s just going through some growing pains."

"Like what?" Lucas asked concerned.

"I think he realises that we’re not his friends."

"But we are his friends. And aren’t you two supposed to be like brothers or something?"

"Oh yeah we are but he’s just realised that as much as he likes us we’re not his friends. We’re Storm’s friends. Do you get what I mean?"

"But we are his friends. Dade’s awesome. Of course we’re friends." Lucas said in disbelief.

"Ok so you don’t get it. Look, he’s gotten so used to us he thought of us as his friends. And we are. But we’ll always be Storm’s friends first. Get it now?"

"I think so. He thinks that as friendly as we’ll get he’ll always play second fiddle to Storm. Is that it?"

"That’s basically the main idea. And he likes being around us more than his own friends so I think in realising what he did, it really hurt him. He’ll be ok. Besides, even if he’s not your friend he’ll always be my bro so I win." Mike grinned.

"Oh man. Poor Dade. He’s too awesome to feel second place."

"Yeah well he’s realising that he’s second place to Storm in quite a few things. And that we don’t really pay attention to him. We just take for granted that he’s ok because he’s Dade. He has his head screwed on right so don’t worry about him. I think we take him for granted too. But basically he’s just growing. He’s finding himself. Just have to let him do what he has to. And hope he doesn’t end up hating us…or Storm."

"That won’t happen. Will it? They’re too close for that to happen."

"I dunno." Mike shrugged. "I can see Dade beginning to resent Storm more and more lately. I just don’t know. I hope not. Dade’s going through a rough time. Not that it should matter to you, your only interest in this house is the occupier of that room you’re so fond of."

"Well it does matter."


"Because he’s Stor…"

"Exactly. Nuff said. I’m going to have a shower." Mike said getting up and stretching his arms. "Don’t worry about it Lucas. He’s not your concern."

"He is too my concern. He’s my friend. He’s helped me out more than once when I needed him. He didn’t need to. He just did. That’s what friends do. It’s what we are." Lucas said assertively, more to convince himself than Mike.

"Whatever. Be back in 15." Mike said walking away. "Don’t you dare hang up without letting me talk to Mom."

"Wait a minute. What the hell gets you off the hook so easily? What do you do for him that I don’t?"

"Oh don’t even go there. Don’t even try and go there." Mike said fuming. That was Mike’s weakspot, the Marcus family of which he had claimed himself a part of. You could hassle him about anything and it wouldn’t matter but get into family stuff and beware.

"Well you’re making out like this is all my fault. But it isn’t. I’m not the only one. I know exactly what you’re talking about. We’re all to blame. Wait a minute no none of us are to blame we didn’t do anything wrong. We just didn’t get it all right. But don’t try and make me feel bad and pass yourself off as the innocent party."

"Well don’t try and act as if you’re best friends or something with him. Because you know it’s not true. Just admit it. You only talk to him because of Storm. Don’t try and make something more of it."

"Well don’t try and act as if you’re brothers, because you’re not!"

"We are brothers, fuck you Lucas. Fuck you. You don’t know shit."

"I’m sorry Mike. I didn’t mean it." Lucas said grabbing Mike’s arm.

"Fuck off Dude boy." Mike said ripping his arm away angrily and heading up the stairs.

Lucas shook his head in dismay "Man I’m just pissing everyone off tonight."

Lucas sat back down at the table and sighed, the night wasn’t going too well at the Marcus household. He closed his eyes and held his head in his hands hoping the phone would ring soon. A hand tapped Lucas shoulder and Lucas opened his eyes with a start.

"Dade?" Lucas said surprised. "I thought you left."

"I did. I just forgot something. That wasn’t a very clever move."

"You heard that?"

"Yup. Mike’s real sensitive when it comes to him being a part of our family. We’re all the family he’s ever had. We may not be blood but we’re as close to. He’s just…he doesn’t like not being thought of as one of us."

"I know. I didn’t mean to say that, it just sorta came out."

"Forget about it. You two will be kissing each other’s ass again tomorrow. Anyway smile will ya? You’re depressing me. "

"No." Lucas said unable to stop himself from smiling. "I don’t get you Dade. You just freaked on me a little while ago and now here you are cheering me up."

"Character flaw. Don’t worry I’m working on correcting it."

"I hope not. Dade is something wrong? Did I do something to make you angry?"

"No. I just realised we’re not friends."

"But we are. I trust you. And I hope you trust me too. And you’ve been such a cool dude to me. I mean…you just rule man. You’ve been there for me. Regardless of Storm and I, you and I are friends."

"Don’t do that." Dade said narrowing his eyes.

"What?" Lucas shrugged.

"That thing you’re doing that’s making me feel warm fuzzies. I hate that."

"You are so much like your brother."

"Did I say I hate that? I meant I love it. More please."

Lucas looked at Dade puzzled, surprised at Dade’s sudden turnaround. It disturbed Lucas, knowing where there’s smoke there’s fire. "Dade, why are you so anti Storm?"

"Well I think it’s time to go." Dade said getting up.

"No." Lucas said putting his hands on Dade’s shoulders and sitting him back down. "It isn’t."

"Ok then. You want to know why I’m so anti my rain cloud brother?"

"Yeah…" Lucas said nodding his head with a concerned look on his face.

"For all the expected reasons. I’m sick of living in his shadow. I’m sick of being compared to him. I’m sick of being like him. I’m sick of having to lever my friends with how much influence he has on people. I’m sick of everyone I’m even slightly interested in, having no problem in passing me over if they had a chance with Storm. Storm Storm Storm. Storm this, Storm that. Dade who? That’s why I’m fucking anti my brother." Dade said getting up. "But you know the thing that really pisses me off?"


"I still love him. Another character flaw. So what can I do? Just suck it in and carry on. Same as always. Good old Dade."

"Dade…I can’t believe you feel that way. Storm would be shattered."

Dade rolled his eyes. "Yeah and we wouldn’t want to shatter Storm would we?"

"Dade please. Don’t let yourself get eaten up inside with this resentment, it’ll turn into hate and then you’ll lose each other. Look I resented my parents for so long because they didn’t accept me. It ate me up and consumed me so much so that I hated my parents. I felt sick with anger all the time but I decided to let it go and move on. Don’t let it get you Dade. Please."

"I…I…" Dade began to say before slumping back down into his chair and laying his head on the table. "Oh fuck I dunno Lucas. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I’m so angry lately. But you’re so right."

"Dade. I’m your friend whether you like it or not. You’re stuck with me. I’m gonna jump right out of left field here. You resent Storm because you want to be him and you know you’ll never be him right?"

"What?" Dade said in disbelief. "That’s bullshit. I wanna be like ME. I’m Dade Paul Marcus. D-A-D-E. Remember the fucking name. I don’t wanna be like your damn boyfriend. You got your head stuck so far up his ass you think everyone wants to be like him. I resent Storm because I want to be like him huh? What the hell have you been smoking?" Dade fumed getting up and charging out the door.

"Oh man it’s a good thing no one else is here. I’m just not saying the right things tonight." Lucas said slumping his head on the table.


* * * * * * *


Josh headed towards class with his books in his hands and a smile on his face. He was his own man this week. No more hiding from the world behind Brad. And the world seemed to be treating him well so far.

"Hi Josh." Claire smiled as she walked past Josh.

Sarah even smiled at Josh as the two walked past him in the hallway. Sarah never smiled at Josh. He knew it was because of Brad too. He didn’t quite get a hi but he got acknowledged by Merlow High’s most powerful female.

"Hi." Josh replied back nervously.

"Don’t grin too much Josh, Mike might lay some smack down on you." Carl Bentley said urging Josh along.

"Just because they didn’t say hi to you." Josh smiled.

"They only said hi because they pity you. I mean look at that hair?" Carl said shaking his head. "And that face...geez talk about a Pig’s ass."

"Takes an Ass to know an Ass." Josh said walking towards Class.

"Hey Josh!" a voice yelled from behind Josh.

Josh turned to see Marcel walking towards him. Josh looked to either side of himself to make sure Marcel was really talking to him. "I’ll meet you in class Carl. I’ll just see what Marcel wants."

"Yes Sir Captain Sir!" Carl said mock saluting Josh as he walked off.

Josh tried to hide the fact he was nervous...and the fact he was blushing...and the fact he was completely head over heels for Marcel. "Hi Marcel, what is it?" Josh said as Marcel approached him.

"Josh, have you spoken to Dade today?" Marcel asked with what Josh took as concern.

"Yeah I spoke to him this morning, they were training down on our fields. I’ll be seeing him after school too. Why?"

"Is he ok? I haven’t spoken to him in a few days, I was just wondering. Since you two are so buddy buddy these days I figured you’d know."

"He seems ok to me. I thought you two were close, you still not talking after that fight you had or something?"

Marcel paused for a moment, realising how much he missed his bud. "Or something. I’ve just been...busy. I think we both have. I just want to keep an eye on him while Storm’s away."

"Oh. Dade’s ok. I’ll tell him you asked. Although you should ask him yourself."

"Yeah...I guess. Hey Josh you’re coming to Storm’s and My party right? It’s on Friday so you got two days to find a date. Just kidding. But even if you wanted a date, you shouldn’t have any trouble. That game you handled last week really impressed a lot of people. Myself included, even though I wasn’t there. I know what has to be done. After all my best friend is the regular Captain, he talks about it enough. I guess you’re making a play for Brad’s vice captain spot right?"

"Uhh no. I don’t think so. I’m not sure. If Coach thinks I’m good enough then yeah. But I doubt it. I mean I only got it because Mike was away, Brad was injured and Lucas was away. I think Lucas has more chance than me. He’s a natural."

"Dude boy for VC huh. Well I hope you get a shot Josh. You deserve it."

"Thanks Marcel." Josh said blushing.

"Well I better go. So you’re coming to our party? Don’t say no. Be there by 7. My place."

"I’d love to. I’ll see you there."

"Bye Josh." Marcel said walking away.

Josh’s face was red and he was smiling from ear to ear. He watched Marcel walk away and couldn’t believe that Marcel Lewis had just invited him to his party. That and the fact that Marcel thought Josh would have no trouble finding a date. Not that Josh had any intention of having a date. He wanted to devote all his attention to Marcel, or even just being with Marcel. Every time Marcel spoke it made Josh weak in the knees.

Josh shook himself to attention and headed back towards class. He took his seat just as the bell rang. His mind was racing and he dreamt of the impossible happening at Marcel’s party. He could settle for dreaming.

"Well if it isn’t Mr. Loser himself." Josh said realising he was sitting next to Brad.

Brad didn’t say anything to Josh, he just sat by himself trying to ignore Josh. Josh knew Brad had been dealt to by Sarah a few days ago and that’s why he was sitting by himself. But this was the first time he’d actually seen Brad since then. It was odd to see Brad by himself, without any flunkies hanging around with him. It made Josh realise how pathetic Brad was without his so called friends. Josh had learnt lately that if you’re not strong enough to stand alone when you need to, you’re not very strong at all.

He wondered if Brad would show his face at training this afternoon. He definitely wouldn’t have that cocky attitude he liked throwing around. Josh couldn’t help the anger that was building inside him at just seeing Brad. The last time he saw Brad, Brad kicked his ass. Maybe he should return the favour.

Josh sat through class not saying anything, he would bide his time to get revenge on Brad. Every now and then he would look Brad up and down just to let Brad know that Josh had his number. Josh couldn’t believe that he’d actually been Brad’s ‘friend’ for so long. He felt like the biggest idiot in the world. How weak he’d been. Spineless and controllable. A puppet. A loser. But not any more. Finally the class bell rang and everyone began filtering out.

"You’re not so tough sitting there by yourself any more are you?" Josh said angrily as Brad packed his bag.

Brad didn’t say anything, he just tried to ignore Josh and hope Josh would leave him alone. Brad walked out of Class and headed towards the back of the school where he usually ate his morning lunch, this time it would be alone. Josh followed Brad wanting some sort of retribution for the torment he’d placed on Josh over the years.

"What’s wrong Brad? Not so keen to take a shot at me now you’ve got no idiots to back you up?"

And still Brad said nothing. Josh become irritated all the more by Brad’s silence.

"You don’t have anything to say?"

"Yeah...I do actually. How’s your lip?"

Josh tried to contain himself from lashing out at Brad. He wanted Brad to apologise, to say sorry for what he did. But Brad didn’t. "You know what Brad?"


"I’m not a violent person." Josh said

"And look what it did for you."

"But in your case I’ll make an exception." Josh said lunging at Brad.

Josh caught Brad off guard with a left hook before he jumped at Brad and shoved him over some old wooden chairs. Brad slid across the slippery floor and before he could get up Josh was on top of him.

"FIGHT FIGHT!!" the surrounding students yelled in unison like a mad mob.

"You’re not so tough any more are you!" Josh yelled hammering Brad with a flurry of punches. "What’s wrong Brad? Huh?"

"Nothing faggot." Brad cursed hauling Josh over him so Brad was on top. Now Brad was the one pounding Josh.

Josh tried to cover his head to no avail as Brad’s onslaught mauled him. Brad picked Josh up by the collar and threw him against the wall, Josh heaving in agony. But he wouldn’t let up. Josh pushed himself off the wall and powered his foot into Brad’s abdomen. Brad reeled forward and Josh grabbed Brad’s head and put him in a headlock.

Josh had Brad in his control and there was nothing Brad could do about it. "This is for all the shit you’ve put me through."

Brad submitted and Josh loosened his grip on Brad, at that instant Brad shot his fist square in the balls of Josh. Josh staggered and Brad kicked Josh’s legs out from under him. Brad got on top of Josh and head butted him, knocking Josh backwards. Brad raised his fist and was just about to lay it on Josh when he was yanked up.

Brad turned around suddenly and threw his fist into whoever had pulled him up. He was surprised to see that it was Lucas Sheridan. Lucas didn’t even flinch as Brad’s fist came at him. Lucas brushed Brad’s fist away with one hand and used his other hand to slap Brad upside the head.

"Excuse me?" Lucas said perturbed.

"Uhh uhh..." Brad stuttered.

"What the hell do you think you’re doing?"

"This faggot attacked me first!"

Lucas slapped Brad upside the back of his head again, aggravating Brad more than anything. "I beg your pardon?"

"He came after me! I didn’t start it!" Brad protested.

Once again Lucas slapped Brad upside the back of his head. It’s effect being clearly obvious.

"Stop it Lucas!" Brad cried frustrated.

Lucas whacked Brad again, the hits not hurting Brad at all just humiliating and frustrating him.

"Please Lucas. Don’t!" Brad cried stepping backwards with tears in his eyes.

"Brad can you hear it?"

"Hear what?"

"The chants."

"What chants?"

Lucas began chanting quietly by himself. Little by little he raised his voice and the mob encircling Brad, Josh and Lucas began chanting with Lucas. Brad looked all around him and tried to find somewhere to run but he couldn’t. And the chants kept getting louder.


"Lucas make them stop please!" Brad cried.

Brad dropped to his knees and held his head in his hands sulking profusely. Lucas hushed the crowd and sent them on their way. Soon there was only Brad left with Lucas, Josh and Carl standing over him. Lucas sent Carl and Josh away so it was only Brad and himself.

"Get up." Lucas demanded.

Brad stood slowly to his feet, his head hanging down and his spirit broken. "It wasn’t my fault. I didn’t start it Lucas."

"You don’t like being picked on do you Brad? You don’t like being hurt?"


"So why pick on other people? Why hurt people?"

"I don’t know."

"Was it fair that Josh jumped you? Was it fair that I humiliated you?"


"Was it fair when you beat Storm? Was it fair when you hit Dade? Was it fair the way you treated Josh? Was it fair the way you pick on people and make them fear you?"


"You can’t give it and not expect to receive it right back at you Brad. You know what they say, what goes around comes around."

"I’m sorry Lucas."

"I don’t want to see you hurt anyone any more Brad. Do you understand me?"

"Yeah Brad. Do you understand?" Sarah said walking up from behind.

"You did all this just to teach me a lesson?" Brad said confused.

"Actually. Josh really did want to kick your ass. He thinks you deserve it."

"This is all because of Storm isn’t it? This is your payback. You already kicked my ass Lucas. This isn’t fair."

"I obviously didn’t kick your ass enough. You still went after Dade and Josh. You’re still a prick."

"I’ll do whatever you tell me to. Look you’ve taken away all my friends. You’ve humiliated me in front of the school. What more can I have taken?"

"Your spirit. You’ve done worse. But we don’t want that. All we want is for you to stop terrorising everyone. Stop hurting people."

"I won’t do it any more. I promise."

"Brad. Go." Sarah said bluntly.

Brad wiped the tears out of his eyes and picked up his bag. As he picked up his bag he broke down crying again but grabbed his bag and ran off anyway.

"I don’t like this Sarah. I know he deserves it all. But what does it make us?"

"I know Lucas. But we have to teach him a lesson that he’ll never forget. But I want to do it so he learns from it."

"I hope you’re right Sarah. Because I feel sick to my stomach at what I just did. I mean he looked so pathetic. We really hurt him."

"I know Lucas. I know. I’ll wear it."

"We both will."


* * * * * * *


Mike threw all his dirty training gear in the washing machine and turned it on. He walked back through the house and sat down at the kitchen table so he could start working on his homework. He held his head in his hands and sighed. His demeanour showing the stress he was feeling, he hadn’t been able to concentrate on the things he wanted to lately, Sarah, Dade, Football, School. And the mounting pressure of his school work, knowing he’d have to up his GPA if he were to have a shot at a scholarship. Not having the money to pay himself, he couldn’t rely on his father and didn’t even want to burden June Marcus, although inside himself he knew she’d support him. She was his mother after all. No one would tell him otherwise.

Mike heard the door handle being fumbled with and he perked his head up to see who it was "MOM!" Mike smiled in disbelief.

"I think that’s what they call me." June Marcus said as she walked in, looking a little worn and tired but still smiling.

Mike jumped out of his seat ran up to June’s open arms, kissing her on the cheek and hugging her tightly. She softly stroked her fingers through his hair and he buried his head in her shoulders.

"How’s my favourite football star?" June asked softly.

June waited for an answer but all she heard and felt in response were the gentle quiet sobs of Mike. He held onto June needing the security he received from her and had missed so much lately. June lifted Mike’s head and kissed him lovingly on his forehead.

"What’s wrong Mike?"

"I just...missed you...a lot."

"Why? What happened? Is everything ok?" June asked wiping Mike’s eyes as she looked at him concerned.

"You’re my Mom, right?" Mike asked almost scared to in case the answer he received was no. Contemplating that would be too much for him. He had to believe she’d say yes. He had to.

The question hit June like a SledgeHammer, what could she say? She had always raised Mike as her own son, that was her promise to Mike’s birth mother but she kept enough distance so as not to hinder Mike’s relationship with his father. Now she had to look him point blank in the face and tell him her answer.


"Don’t say no, please." Mike pleaded, his eyes begging for acceptance.

"I wasn’t going to." June said assuredly. "You’re my boy. My beautiful boy." June said kissing Mike and comforting him.

Mike smiled the biggest smile June had seen since he’d gotten his favourite transformer for Christmas. Mike used to be such a happy, smile endowed child but in the last few years June had seen that smile fade just a little. If there were anything she could do she’d do everything she could to bring that smile back. She must definitely be on the right track.

"Then why can’t I stay with you?"

"Mike, what happened? What’s wrong?"

"Nothing’s wrong. I just wanna stay here. I wanna live here. If you’re my Mom why can’t I stay with you. I love you Mom, I don’t wanna go back."

"What happened Mike?" June asked looking Mike in the eyes.

"I just...don’t wanna go back. Please don’t make me go back." Mike pleaded.

June could sense immediately the seriousness and fear Mike had in that statement and knew what she had to do as a Mother and a caring person. "I’m not going to make you go anywhere. You’re going to stay right here with me. This is your home." June said holding Mike.

"Thank you. Thank you!" Mike said wrapping his arms around June. "I love you so much Mom, I don’t know what I’d do without you. Thank you for loving me."

"Like I have a choice? You’re my son. And you are a beautiful person. I’m always going to be here for you Mike, you know that. And you’re a big softie. You have such a gentle, tender spirit Mike. You try to hide it, but it’s there. I love you Mike." June said kissing Mike again on the forehead. "Now I need to know what happened Mike. I need something for when I go and tell your father that you’re..."

"I don’t care what you say to him. I’m not going back, this is my home. I’m not going back there. I hate him, I hate him. He doesn’t mean shit to me any more. You’re my world, I don’t care about him. He doesn’t deserve me."

June had to stop herself from outwardly agreeing with Mike, she knew Mike was too good to be treated the way he was by his abusive father. But she held her tongue, trying to be as objective as she could so as not to taint Mike’s judgement and increase the animosity he felt against his father in the hope he would one day change his ways. "I think you’re old enough to be able to make this decision. And I’m not going to say no. I will never turn any of my children away. I will never ever turn you away Mike."

"I’m sick of being his punching bag. I’m scared I’ll end up fighting back and hurting him. I don’t know how much more I can take."

"Mike, when did this start up again?" June asked assertively. "When did he hit you?"

"He...he started drinking again a while ago...and he started pushing me around and was angry all the time. And then last weekend I didn’t go home straight away, I went to the hospital and then came back here. And I went home on Saturday to get some clothes and he was there drunk...and he just...he wouldn’t listen. I tried to explain it to him...but he wouldn’t listen. I tried to tell him but he wouldn’t listen. He just...kept...he just...wouldn’t stop." Mike said shivering with sobs and looking like he was going to clam up and fall over or go into shock.

June’s eyes streamed with tears, her face rigid with anger and resentment. Inwardly the self blame began to consume her as she held Mike and eased him onto the lounge suite before he fell down. Mike buried his head in his hands and curled into a tight ball as if he were in a defensive stature. June’s very soul chilled from the inside out at this sight and she tried to stop herself from breaking down as she comforted Mike. She closed her eyes and tried to shut away the images that flashed in her mind.

"I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. My Baby, I’ll make sure this never happens to you again I promise. I swear it on my life you will never go through this again. I’m here Baby." June said trying to comfort Mike.

Mike cried and sobbed profusely, shaking violently and letting his pain flow out. June tried to rock him gently but she knew he had to let all this pain out, the depth and wail of his cries haunting her. She did all she could do, tried to comfort Mike and hope her warmth would ease his pain. Only time would tell.


* * * * * * *


"So how was my Stormy Brother?" Dade asked Lucas as he walked into his kitchen.

"Oh Dade...hi." Lucas said nervously, hoping he wouldn’t irritate Dade for the umpteenth time this week.

"I’m hitting the shower and heading to bed. Night." Dade said turning to leave.

"Wait Dade!" Lucas said getting up. "Your Mom’s back."

"What?" Dade said backing up.

"Your Mom is back."

"Where is she?" Dade said excitedly.

"She said she had to go somewhere. I don’t know where. She said she wouldn’t be long. And that was about two hours ago."

"You mean she came back without Storm?"

"She said she missed you guys and that Storm would be ok with his father."

"Storm? Ok with Dad? By himself? Who’s she kidding?" Dade said shaking his head.

"I don’t know. But Mike’s in bed upstairs. I think he’s sick or something."

"I’ll go check on him soon. Cool Mom’s back." Dade smiled turning to walk away.


"What is it Lucas?"

"Dade...I’m sorry."

"For what?"

"For yesterday."

"Forget about it."


"Lucas don’t do that."

"Do what?"

"What you’re doing now. That puppy dog eyes thing. Just...fuc..."

"Dade..." June Marcus said taking her son by surprise. "I hope you weren’t going to say what I think you were about to say."

"Mom..." Dade said taken aback.

"Hi Son." June said waiting for some sort of reaction from her youngest son.

"How’s Storm?" Dade asked casting his eyes to the floor.

"He’s ok. He’ll be back tomorrow."

"Friday tomorrow. Storm’s birthday."

"Don’t I even get a welcome home hug or kiss?"

Dade walked over to his mother and kissed her gently on the cheek. "Welcome home Mom." He said softly.

"We haven’t seen each other for six days and that’s all I get?"

"Well that’s not my fault is it? I better go have a shower. I stink." Dade said

"Ok don’t move Mister." June said firmly.

Just then the phone began to ring and Lucas stood looking from side to side between June and Dade nervously. "I’ll get that shall I?" Lucas said promptly dismissing himself.

Dade stood in the middle of the staircase, his head hanging down and saying nothing. June approached him from behind and put her hand on his shoulder.

"Dade, you know I had to be there. I didn’t have any choice. I missed you like crazy but you never talked to me on the phone because you weren’t here or had to go somewhere. I’m sorry I was gone so long."

"I know. I’m sorry Mom. I was being selfish."

"No you weren’t." June said trying to raise her son’s head so she could look at him. "What happened to you Son?"

"Nothing Mom. I’m ok. I’m sorry for talking out of line. I’m gonna go have a shower."

"I want to talk to you before you go to bed ok?"

"Yes Mom." Dade said quietly.

June was ready to burst into tears having sensed the two feet high wall Dade had put in between them. What had happened since she’d been gone to turn her doting son into a forlorn lonely seeming person?

June couldn’t believe the way her life had been inundated with trials lately. Storm just seems to be getting back on track and she arrives home to one of her kids about to have a breakdown and another feeling neglected and unloved. Daniel popping back into her life and wanting a second chance. What else could happen?

June sauntered down to the kitchen and sat down at the table. She took a deep breath, her hands trembling as she held her face in her hands. The enormous stress she felt taking its toll on her.

"Mrs. Marcus. Are you ok?" Lucas asked sitting down beside June.

"Lucas I think we’ve been through enough and seen enough sides of each other to dispense with the formalities don’t you think? Call me June."

"I’ll try. June...are you ok?" Lucas asked putting his hand on June’s shoulder.

"I’m fine. It’s just been a very long hard week. And a terrible day."

"Do you want to talk about it?"

"Do I want to talk about it?" June said half smiling. "With you?"

"What’s...wrong with me?" Lucas said taken aback, his eyes downcast to the ground at June’s statement.

"No I didn’t mean it like that Lucas. I just don’t know why you’d want to help me after what I said to you."

"We’re past that. Besides you’re the mother of the guy I’m going to spend forever with. We have to get along. And on top of that I just really love and admire you. So yeah I want to help you." Lucas said taking June’s hand and kissing her on the cheek. "You have no idea how much I look up to you. And I’m not the only one."

"It’s undeserved I assure you." June said shedding a tear, feeling completely unworthy of the affection and respect Lucas gave her. "Thank you Lucas. It’s been a hell day. A hell week."

"What happened to you?" Lucas asked in disturbed shock looking at June’s hand.

June’s knuckles were raw and her wrist had a bruise that made Lucas cringe. Lucas knew June looked a little worse for wear when she got back but figured it was stress, now he knew otherwise. "June, what happened?" Lucas asked pressingly.

June held her hand out in front of her and shook her head, brushing her hair out of her face. "I had to do what I should have done a long time ago. And it cost me. But if I have to, I’ll pay till my last breath." June said standing up and kissing Lucas on the forehead.

"Wait June." Lucas said standing up. "Are you sure you’re ok?"

June nodded her head in agreement but the single tear that escaped gave away her obvious distress. Lucas walked towards June nervously and put his arms around her. Surprisingly she accepted his embrace and let him hold her close. She leant her head on his shoulder and let someone comfort her for once.

"You’re always there for everyone else. But who’s there for you when you need help?" Lucas said softly. "I’ll be here for you. Just like everyone else who loves you."

"Thank you Lucas." June said sighing in relief at the fact she’d managed to stop herself from breaking down in front of Lucas.

June took a deep breath and managed to compose herself. ‘Too close’ she thought to herself. She stepped away from Lucas and turned to head upstairs.

"I’m going to go and talk to Dade before I call it a night. I think he’s out of the shower." June said kissing Lucas. "Goodnight Lucas."

"Night Mrs....I mean June."

June smiled at Lucas, proud of the choice her son had made in a partner. His sensitive and caring qualities just some of many reasons she knew her son had chosen him for. June felt a pang of sorrow for Lucas as he sat down and put his head in his hands. She knew he missed his Baby, his Storm. She couldn’t fault the love he felt, it was so sincere and obvious. She knew Lucas would make her son happy and that in turn made her happy. Even on a day like today.

June walked slowly upstairs and stopped outside her youngest son’s door. It was unusual for him to have his door closed. He usually kept it open. The total opposite of Storm who hated having people watch him sleep, Dade seemed to like the attention. Or the open door policy making him feel closer to the other members of the household.

"Dade...honey can I talk to you?" June asked as she gently opened the door to her son’s room.

"Yes Mom." Dade replied from the darkness.

June turned the light on and Dade sat up in his bed, his eyes still focused down. June sat down next to him and put her hand to her son’s face. Dade didn’t move or say anything. He just waited for June to do something.

"Dade...I’m sorry."

"You don’t have to be sorry Mom. You didn’t do anything wrong. I’m ok. I can look after myself."

"I know you can. That’s the problem. You look after yourself too much and too well. That’s supposed to be my job but I haven’t been doing it very well lately."

"Don’t say that Mom. You’re the best."

"I don’t feel like the best Mom. Especially when it comes to you. Why are you so sad Son? I can see it in your eyes. What is it?"

Dade looked at his mother June and looked away quickly, unsure of what he should say or whether he should say it. He knew his mother and even his father had raised him to tell the truth, even when it hurt. So that’s what he’d do. Tell what to him was the truth.

"You love Storm more than you love me." Dade said quietly.

"What?" June said tearing up. Unbelieving of what her son had just said.

"It’s ok Mom. I’ve accepted it. Have for a while."

"You think I love your brother more than I love you?"

"Mom. You know you do. Why do you think I just do what I have to do and don’t annoy you about it? It really bugged me. But I’ve realised in the last week. Everybody loves Storm more than they do me. It’s just a fact of life I have gotten used to. He’ll always be better than me."

"That’s not true. That’s not true. Nobody’s better than you Son. You think I don’t love you as much as your brother?"

"You don’t."

*SNAP* That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. June just couldn’t take any more. Dade watched in horror and seeming slow motion, his mother leaning forward, mouth agape in a cry that never came and collapsing off his bed and on her knees to the floor. She began sobbing and shaking uncontrollably in a tortured cry that sent chills up Dade’s spine.

Dade jumped off his bed in a flash and rushed to his mother’s side. Cursing himself inside for doing this to his mother. ‘I’m a bad person’ were the first thoughts that echoed in his mind. In a panic Dade picked up his mother’s weeping form and held her in his arms.

"Don’t cry Mom, please don’t cry." Dade said rocking gently.

It was as if she couldn’t even hear him. She weeped continuously and throbbingly. Every second more making Dade die on the inside.

"Mom, I’m sorry. I’m sorry Mom."

"Please don’t cry. Please don’t cry Mom." Dade said rocking back and forth and kissing his mother’s forehead. "I’m sorry Mom. I’m sorry. I’ll be good I promise."

"Mom. Mom please." Dade cried. "Mom, stop crying. I promise I’ll be good. Please Mom, I’m sorry. I’m sorry..."

Dade sat coaxing his mother, rocking back and forth in an attempt to win his mother back from the sobs that claimed her. Every minute seemed an eternity to Dade. His pleas going seemingly unnoticed. For 20 minutes Dade held his mother until her weeps had finally subsided.

"I’m sorry Mom. I’m sorry." Dade continued. "Please forgive me. Please. I love you Mom. I won’t hurt you again I promise. Please Mom."

June lay motionless and Dade stroked her hair wondering if she had cried herself to sleep. He couldn’t believe the amount of grief he felt, and anger at himself. Dade held his head close to his mother’s, needing to feel as close as he could to her. Hoping she didn’t hate him.

Dade could hear the silent breathing of his mother and knew she had indeed cried herself to sleep. The enormous stress on her shoulders having finally broken her. Dade pulled his blanket off his bed and put it over himself and June. He wrapped his arms back around her and held on tight, praying that she would be ok in the morning.

Dade settled himself in and tried to go to sleep but his mind wouldn’t let him. Either the wind was too cold, the floor was too hard or the night was too dark. Everything seemed to give Dade a reason to be unable to get to sleep. Finally, he decided he’d just watch over his mother and hope that eventually sleep would consume him.

"Dade..." June said softly catching Dade completely by surprise.

"Mom!" Dade said almost shouting.


"I’m sorry Mom. I’m really sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you like that. I’d rather die than do that to you again." Dade said holding himself close to his mother.

"It wasn’t just what you said Dade. I just snapped. I couldn’t handle all the stress anymore. I had to let it out. I just broke."

"I shouldn’t have said those things to you. Mom, I love you more than anything. I hate seeing you hurt. It makes me wanna die. I don’t like seeing you like this Mom. I didn’t know what to do." Dade said crying frustratedly.

"It’s ok Son." June said kissing her son gently. "It’s ok. Dade I don’t love any of my children more than the other. If I gave Storm more attention it’s because I thought he needed it. I just assumed you were ok because you never were a kid to complain. You’d always just grin and bear it. But I’ve been neglecting you. I’ve been expecting you to take on too much. I’m going to make it up to you Son, I promise."

"You don’t have to make anything up to me. You’re the best Mom in the world. The absolute best."

"I can do better. Things have just gotten on top of me lately. But I’ll do better."

"I will too Mom. I’ll do better too. I love you Mom. I really really love you."

"I love you too Son."


* * * * * * *


"Ok Son. Are you ready? Time to go home."

"I’m ready Dad." I said smiling.

"I hope your Mother got back ok. We’ll give her a call before we leave."

"I just want to hurry up and get out of this stupid hospital."

"Are you sure you’re going to be ok by yourself Son?"

"I’ll be ok Dad. I’m just glad I get to fly back instead of having to sit in a car for a day."

"Ok then let’s get going." Dad said picking up my bags. "You feeling ok Son?"

"Yeah Dad, I feel awesome. Stop sweating. I feel good as new." I said jumping up.

We headed out down towards the hospital elevators. Dad paused to use the phone, most likely to call Mom. She would’ve gotten home last night some time. I wouldn’t have actually minded going home on a car because it meant I would’ve gotten home after my birthday. Today’s my birthday by the way. The big 16. I hope Marcel’s having a good day.

"Ok Son, your mother is fine. We better hurry so we aren’t late for check in." Dad said issuing me into the elevator.

When we arrived at the car park, I could see the direction we were heading and the car we were heading towards. My eyes nearly popped out of their sockets. "Holy Fuck."

"Now now Son."

"Sorry Dad. You have awesome taste. Marcel would scream." I said running my hand along the patriot blue exterior. "This is a ’99 Jeep Wrangler Sports. Command Trac 4 Wheel Drive. Quadra coil suspension. Soft top. Four Litre Power Tech engine. 5 speed manual transmission. 181 Horsepower..."

"You know your stuff don’t you." Dad said laughing a little.

"Are you kidding? There’s a reason I drool over Marcel’s Wrangler. He keeps saying it’s his parents but we all know it’s his."

"You like it?" He asked inquisitively.

"It’s a beauty."

"That’s good. You didn’t think I’d forget about your birthday did you?"

My jaw just about dropped and I think I nearly drooled at the prospect of having my own vehicle, and an awesome vehicle at that. I just about died of excitement right there until my annoying sub conscious came in and spoke up before I could stop it. "I can’t take this."

"Why not?"

"Because you’re trying too hard. You don’t have to buy me back Dad." I said looking at him.

He looked back at me disappointed with himself "I didn’t want it to seem like that Son. I just know you’re sixteen now. I got my first car when I was sixteen. I want you to have the same. I did it for Abby, and I’ll do the same for Dade."

"He’ll be glad to hear that." I smiled.

"I better spend some time with him. I haven’t seen him in a while."

"Well regardless of whether I wanted it or not, I don’t have my licence yet. I have to wait till I’ve sat my test yet."

"Do you doubt you’ll pass?"


"Then there’s no problem."

"There’s one more thing, I don’t think this will fit in the luggage compartment."

"Here’s the deal. You get your licence. We’ll do it today. I already arranged a time just in case. I’ll give you the keys and you can drive back to Merlow. OR I can take the keys, you can catch the plane. Take the test and I can drop the car off to you next week sometime."

"Oh man." I moaned. "I want it now. But...ok let’s work this out. Now it’s 8am. It takes about half an hour for a test, right?"

"Roundabouts. Your session will be at 8.25am. So you should be out about 9am. Then we can get some breakfast. And if you leave about 9.30am you should get back to Merlow about 3 or 4pm."

"So I can still make it back before Marcel’s party? They’ll hang me if I don’t turn up."

"You can make it back plenty of time. If we hurry you could probably make it back between 2 and 3pm if you don’t stop for lunch and so forth."

"Ok let’s do it!" I said excitedly. "Thanks Dad!"

"Happy Birthday Storm."



* * * * * * *


"Where the hell is Lucas?" Sarah panicked. "Of all the days he chose to not come to school he had to choose today. We’ve still got lots of things to organise."

"I haven’t seen him around." Claire said shrugging her shoulders. "Are you sure Storm’s coming back today?"

"He better be coming back today. It’s his sixteenth. He can’t not be with us."

"This means a lot to you."

"Well, Storm’s my boy. He means a lot to me."

"Do you still like him?"

"Oh hell no not that way. We’re just like best buds. We’ve known each other our whole lives. I just wanna share this with him."

"He has quite a few people holding out for him doesn’t he. He must be pretty special. I don’t really talk to him much. He’s like the male version of you. Daunting."

"I’m not daunting." Sarah retorted.

"The hell you aren’t. Do you know any other girls who can kick Brad’s ass? And look at the way you’ve completely alienated Brad from the school. Nobody talks to him any more. I mean you just proved nobody fucks with Sarah. Now if that’s not daunting, I don’t know what is."

"I didn’t want to do that, but he was out of control. Maybe this way he’ll learn a lesson. He just pushed me too far. And he’s hurt so many people."

"You don’t have to justify yourself to me. If I were you I would have just crushed the shit." Claire laughed. "I guess you’re not as bitchy as I am."

"I’m starting to feel sorry for him. Maybe I should go talk to him."

"If Mike knew what Brad did to you, Brad wouldn’t be walking. How come you can just forget that and feel sorry for him."

"In case you didn’t notice I give it as good as he did."

"Oh fuck here he is now. You stalking us or something Brad?" Claire said glaring at Brad.

"Sarah, can I talk to you please?" Brad said standing next to Sarah and ignoring Claire.

"Anything you want to say to me you can say in front of Claire."

"Please Sarah..."

Sarah looked at Claire and Claire nodded her approval and walked off a bit so Brad and Sarah could talk. Sarah still didn’t trust Brad and kept her hands ready to defend herself in case Brad decided to live up to his reputation. Instead Brad pulled Sarah aside and lowered his head.

" long are you going to keep doing this to me?" Brad said quietly. "I’m a loser ok, you’re proven your point."

"Not quite. You’re going to apologise and you’re going to mean it. To Storm, Dade...anyone you’ve hit. Hurt. Tormented. Josh. Everyone. And you can start with me."

"I know this sounds like bull shit but I didn’t mean to hit you. I don’t make a habit of hitting girls or anything. It was just like reaction. I didn’t mean it. I truly am sorry Sarah." Brad said faintly.

"That wasn’t too bad."

"I mean it." Brad said genuinely. "I’m sorry."

"Ok. I believe you. Now you have to work down the rest of the list."

"Ok Sarah."

"I’ll see you later Brad." Sarah said turning to walk away.

"Sarah..." Brad faintly spoke.

"What is it Brad?" Sarah asked softly. Her attitude towards Brad having changed in the last few days she no longer felt it necessary to punish him. His attitude towards her had done a complete 179 and she almost felt sorry for him at the submissive nature he’d taken on.

"Would it be ok...if I...never mind." Brad said almost inaudibly before turning to walk away by himself.

"Wait Brad!" Sarah said putting her hand on his shoulder. "What is it?" She asked gently.

"Would it be ok...if I...stayed by you today? Instead of by myself?"

Sarah cringed inside, she felt like some sadistic prison warden. Her intentions being good she wondered if she had stepped over the line. This was definitely not the same Brad she’d fought with 5 days ago. This must have been the Brad stuck inside the harsh exterior of the person so despised by Sarah and her friends. The weak pathetic needy person she’d always suspected lurked inside of Brad. But now that she’d broken Brad and forced him to shake off his exteriors, what would she do with him? Surely it was her responsibility? She couldn’t leave him now, she’d started it and she had to finish it. Her goal never being to destroy Brad but to help him rebuild himself and make him less inclined to paint other people black and blue.

"Ok Brad." Sarah said turning to head towards Claire.

Claire had a look of bemusement at Brad’s flanking of Sarah. Claire said nothing as she joined Sarah and they walked silently towards class. A few odd glances were thrown upon the three of them as they walked through the crowded school hallway for morning class. As soon as they reached the classroom Claire held Sarah back and let Brad go in by himself.

"What the hell is up with that?" Claire asked annoyed.

"He asked if he could hang with me today. I felt sorry for him ok?"

"But...he’s Brad! Are you forgetting everything he’s done? The guy is a jerk!"

"I can’t just leave him."

"Yeah you can. Sarah I can’t believe you’re doing this. If you want to hang with him then you go ahead and do it by yourself. I’m not going near him."

"Claire. Please. Just one day. Only one day ok? Please, for me? Come on Claire. Please?"

"Ok Sarah. But if he even looks at me funny you promise you’ll send him packing?"

"I promise."

"What will Mike think?"

"I’ll talk to him later. He won’t like it but I started this and I’ll finish it."

"Ok. Come on we’ll be late for class." Claire said grabbing Sarah’s hand and dragging her into class.


* * * * * * *


"DAD I PASSED I PASSED!" I said jumping up and down and running towards him.

"I knew you would." He said before I jumped on him and gave him a hug, knocking him over.

"This is so cool!" I said excitedly. "I think I’m gonna pass out from excitement."

"Well, all your gear is packed up and ready to go Son. But there’s just one problem."

"What’s that?"

"It’s too long a trip for you to be driving by yourself so soon."

"Are you gonna come?" I said smiling hopefully.

"No, I’ve got my own car here. And Merlow is in the opposite direction to my town."

"Then what?" I asked confused.

I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned around to see who it was.

"I believe someone needed a spare driver."

"LUCAS!" I said almost fainting, too much excitement for one morning I think.

As soon as I saw those strawberry lips I couldn’t help myself. To hell if anyone saw. I had to have some. I yanked him towards me and before he had a chance to say anything I sucked gently on his bottom lip so I could get my fix of luscious strawberry. Lucas wrapped his arms around me and kissed me as if I were the cure to a thirst he could not quench. Every second I would try to get more and more, I couldn’t help myself.

"Uhhh guys?"

I pulled myself away from Lucas. Grudgingly to be sure. But I wouldn’t let him get away that easy. I took his hand and held it in my own, interlacing our fingers. I kissed him again on the cheek and raised his hand to my lips, holding my lips to his skin for a brief moment. Lucas was blushing unbelievably and he had a smile that lit me up inside. It looked as though he couldn’t believe what I was doing. Making him feel as though he were the centre of my universe, which without a doubt he was.

"Sorry Dad." I said grinning.

"You better get going Son. Lucas will drive the first half. And then you can take over. He’s had his licence for a while so it’s better he do the longer drive."

"Ok Dad."

"I’ll go warm up the car." Lucas said leaving Dad and I alone.

"I apologised to Lucas. He’s a good guy. I’m sorry for interfering."

"Thanks Dad."

"You really love him don’t you?"

"I do. I love him so much Dad. I can’t believe how lucky I am."

"I’m happy for you Son. It’s obvious he feels the same way."

"You planned all this didn’t you?"

"I did."

"Well it was the greatest present ever Dad."

"Then why do you look so sad?"

"’s like we just got back together and then we get separated again. I don’t wanna leave you. I want you to come back with me."

"I’m coming down next week remember Buddy." Dad said wiping my eyes.


"I promise Son."

I wrapped my arms around him and leant my head on his shoulder. "Thank you for staying with me all week Dad. And for today. I’ve never had a better birthday present. And I don’t mean the car."

"Anything for my Storm aye? You drive safely."

"I will." I said before I kissed him on the cheek. "I love you Dad."

"I love you too Son."

"Don’t be a stranger...please." I said turning to walk away.

I’d realised in this past week how much time had been lost and just how much I really needed my Dad. I cried myself to sleep the day after we reached an understanding because I knew I’d lost so many years. We were playing catch up for too much time lost. I knew it was partly my own fault for never giving him a chance. I’d come to the conclusion that my Dad’s pretty cool and he means more to me than I cared to admit to myself in the past. I am a new Storm. I know exactly what people mean to me, no more charades or built up walls. Maybe it’s from being so close to death, or maybe I just had long enough to think it over. But either way I’d gotten my Dad back.

I waved as I walked away and Dad smiled back at me and waved. We were both having a hard time saying bye, just went to show how close a bond we used to have and it was coming back. I tried to stop myself from bursting and I managed to do that so he wouldn’t see. But as soon as I got to Lucas I just wrapped my arms around him and bawled my eyes out. Lucas didn’t say anything, he just held me close and rubbed my back. Occasionally kissing my forehead.

"Are you ok Baby?" Lucas asked finally.

"I’m ok. I just...I dunno. I’m so angry at myself for losing so much time."

"You still have plenty of time to make it up." Lucas said wiping my eyes.

"You’re right." I smiled. "Lots of time."

"Do you feel ok? Physically I mean?"

"I feel awesome. Best I’ve felt in ages."

"I was so excited when your Dad called me last night. He flew me up here this morning. I’m so glad because we’ll have some time to ourselves before I have to share you with everyone in Merlow."

"Lucas...I’m so happy to see you. When I saw you I just...couldn’t help myself."

"I know!" Lucas smiled. "Dude do you have any idea how special you made me feel? You’ve changed. I can feel the love you have for me."

"Lucas. I don’t think I’ve ever really given you the credit you deserve. I have no doubts about the way I feel about you. I want you to know how much you mean to me."

"I love you."

" you have any idea just how crazy I am about you?" I said smiling.

"Storm...I think they’d have to put us in a mental asylum. We’re that crazy." He smiled. "About each other of course."

"But of course." I said before I jolted my head as if I had a tick. "Of course."

Lucas began laughing and I couldn’t wipe the grin off my face. He was just so beautiful. I’ve always known it but Lucas really is my dream. Even his laugh and smile just made me want to fly. I really am totally head over heels in love with this guy. And what’s even better he feels the same way! If you think that’s cool gimmie a HELL YEAH! If not...BEAT IT!

"You know, I feel like I’m falling in love with you all over again."

"Dude." Lucas said pulling me closer to him. "You don’t know the half of it..."


* * * * * * *

 Chapter 14: Redemption has just concluded.  Hope you liked it!  Now get ready to PARTY!!

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