By SF Writer
Copyright 2003  Stormnation, All rights reserved.

Chapter 16: Nemesis’ Rising

* * * * * * *

A new day dawned on what would be the final term of the school year. As much as I looked forward to the impending holidays, I actually liked going to school. Things were good for me there, I had a lot of friends. I got on well with my teachers. My grades weren’t scholar like but they weren’t too shabby either. I hate to admit it but Mike has better grades than me. Although he busts his ass to get them. No offence meant to my brother but the grades he gets he has to put in the extra effort, which he does in spades. He’s not one of those born naturally types that wraps trig around their fingers with their eyes closed. You could say that I’m very proud of him, but I’ll say it myself instead.

The new millennium has begun it’s cycle and I wonder what it has in store for me and the people I care most about. They say success breeds success, you are what you eat. All that jazz. Well I tend to hang out with people that I believe have so much potential. I feed off it, I learn from it and I try to give in turn what they give to me without even realizing. To be the best at anything I do is what I want from life. So naturally, I try to surround myself with people and influences that will help me achieve that goal.

Lucas Sheridan, what can I say? Half of what he gives me would be enough for you to feel like you can leap tall buildings in a single bound. So you can imagine how he makes me feel when he gives me all his attention. I’ve come a long way since Lucas and I first met. Not always for the better but with the help of Lucas and some friends who are more like family, I’ve managed to stay in the game. Lucas is my godsend. I lived 15 years before I knew him, but funnily enough I can’t remember life without him.

Last year Marcel Lewis left the confines of this town we know as Merlow. And as long as it’s been since he left, I still miss him just as much. The only consolation comes in knowing that he’s out there powering towards his dream. We hear from him often enough but not as often as we used to. He used to call every day, then every second day and now it’s turned to once a week. I know he emails Dade fairly regularly though but you can feel the growing distance between Merlow and Marcel. I think I already know how this story ends. But that’s just life huh?

Dade and Sarah both rejoined Karate about three months ago. Not long after Marcel left. It’s good having them back. Almost like the old days when Dad used to take all of us. I’m hoping that I’ll do good in this years round of championships but I won’t pre-empt myself by claiming victory now. As it stands I’m number one in the dojo but the competition is extremely tight. Both Sarah and Dade have gotten back into the groove really well. Sarah is 3 steps away from her black belt, her years break from karate obviously not affecting her skills too much. Dade has also progressed rapidly, he and I have some intense training sessions out back as well as our usual training times at the dojo. Dade has a lot of fire inside, something I’m not quite sure I have at the same level of intensity anymore. One day he will beat me. One day. For me to deny that would be fairly arrogant, I can just see it in his eyes. He won’t say it, but he feels it. He wants to beat me. When he does that, he’ll know he’s made it. One day I will concede victory but he will work for every single point he scores against me. I won’t lay down for anyone, not even my brother.

Contrary to how I sound, there’s no big sibling rivalry between Dade and I. We’re both fairly competitive since we like being the best but it’s generally a friendly competitiveness. Things have been really good between my bro and I, he’s actually somewhat of a guru to me. Right at the least expected moment Dade will just splurge this dead on insight to a problem I never even knew he had any idea of. He’s one of those wise beyond his years type and if at one point in time I was someone who daunted him, he’s fast putting a spin on that.

It’s probably an odd place for me to start the day but whenever I like to begin the day, week or year positively, this is where I do it. Sitting off the edge of our tree house, waiting for the sun to greet me with its enveloping rays of light. I love the crisp air in the early morning. Love looking at the pastel blue streaking ever increasingly across the sky as it fuses with the burgeoning warm yellows that only dawn can produce.

I’ve seen this a hundred times. Every time as good as the first. It had always been good, but now the experience felt...complete.

"Morning." Lucas said waking with a yawn from his slumber.

And that’s why…

Lucas wrapped his arms around my front as he snuggled in behind. I turned my head slightly and greeted Lucas with a feather touch angel kiss. I smiled at Lucas and kissed him once more on his moist strawberry lips, lingering for an endless instant.

"Looks like I’m just in time." Lucas smiled resting his head on my shoulder as we both watched the moons domain give way to the sun and all its burning glory.

Lucas threw his blanket around us and rested his head back in the same spot on my shoulder so that our faces were touching as we watched the sky. We snuggled close to each other, a blissful smile passing over both of us as we did. I laced my fingers through Lucas hands and brushed his fingers along the curves of my abs as I pulled his arms around me closer. Feeling the tips of Lucas fingers against my skin sent whispers echoing through me.

Together we watched the dawn come, watched the sun rise and the sky light up. My own mind was filled with thoughts and dreams as it always is at times like this, but I had no idea what Lucas was thinking. No idea what thoughts were flowing through his mind, what dreams were inspiring him. The only thing I knew for certain is what he was feeling and what I was feeling. We felt it together. And though there is a name to describe it, all it does is limit the actual feeling.

I believe now that I am ready for my day, my week, my year, the rest of my life to begin. I have rays of inspiration emanating from the dawning sun. I have the better part of my being holding me close to him. We have that feeling words fail to describe. We have each other. I think it’s time for the rest of our lives to begin.

Bring it on. I’m ready now.


* * * * * * *


Mike sat at the breakfast table finishing off the last of his morning meal. As he ate the last spoon of toasted museli he knew he was both mentally and physically psyched up for the day ahead. Mike had settled into a morning routine in his new home. Becoming a permanent resident of the Marcus household was one of the best things to happen to Mike and he knew it. He tried his best to show his appreciation for what he had now thanks to June Marcus. Security, stability, a sense of belonging and a warm, inviting but most importantly, safe place to call his home.

Mike had lost the on edge insecurity that once defined his being. That was how he felt with his father. Things were sometimes good and Mike felt that the worst had past but it never truly did. The more often his hope and optimism were crushed the less and less he’d have it the next time around. Until finally, he was always on edge. Always deep inside himself he felt anxious, tense, on edge and in fear. Even if that fear and feeling were slight, they were always there. Waiting…waiting. Waiting for the moment some random factor would send his father into the all too familiar rage.

Now he no longer waited.

That was what June had given him. That was what he was thankful for. Sarah had told Mike that she could tell the difference in Mike’s demeanor, his attitude, his smile. Mike could even tell the difference. More peace in his demeanor, less edge in his attitude, more bliss in his smile.

"Mike honey, I’ll be home about 6.00pm this afternoon. Then we can go do some shopping after you get back from baseball and while the others are at Karate. We can get that new gear you wanted." June said pulling her keys out of her bag and making sure she had everything she needed for work.

"Hey I just said I liked it, I didn’t mean you have to buy it for me."

"They’re nice clothes, I think you’d look good in them. Don’t argue with me, I want to fill up your wardrobe anyway. It may as well be with things you like, don’t you think?"

"Man, I better get a job like Storm. I can’t have you spending all your money on me."

"Mom’s prerogative. You can get a job if you like but there’s no pressure from me for you to get one. You’re sixteen, still at school and you have a lot of things that occupy your time. You spend a lot more time on studies and after school classes than Storm does. You have your football, which takes a lot of time off you. Then there’s Sarah. Frankly I don’t think you have the time for a job unless it were very flexible and didn’t take up a lot of time. Just know that I’m not expecting you to rush out and get one right now. Especially not if it interferes with your studies, your football or a certain amount of leisure time. That’s what I said to Storm and it’s what I’m saying to you. Those are the rules if you want to get a job. But apart from all that, we’re still going shopping tonight. Now I’m going to work. I’ll see you this afternoon, Honey." June said giving Mike a quick kiss goodbye before she headed out the door.

"Have a good day, Mom. Love you." Mike smiled, waving to June as she pulled out of the driveway.

There was only one thing now that could put strain back onto Mike’s face and that was the impending visit he knew he had coming with his father. June had kept in contact with Mike’s father over the last three months, monitoring his progress in both anger management and his curbing of the use of alcohol. Mike dreaded the visit wishing he could just forget about it. But none of that really mattered and Mike’s father couldn’t hurt him anymore.

This is home now.


* * * * * * *


Sweat glistened on Sarah’s smooth olive skin, the muscles on her arms and shoulders rippling with each pull back of the rowing machine she was on. Again and again she repeated the exercise, her muscles contracting and expanding. Sarah’s breathing was a slightly labored but constant rhythm. Her motion fluid and form perfect. No doubt about it, the steady determination on Sarah’s face showed she was on a mission…


Sarah moved along to the next machine having heard the beep to signal rotation. Sarah leant down and fastened the ankle strap around her ankle farthest from the machine. She bent her knee slightly and raised her leg out and away from her body. Completing a full set of repetitions, Sarah switched sides and repeated the exercise and switched back again. Sarah’s breath moved in even timing, perfectly matching the exertions of her body.


Once again, Sarah moved on to the next machine. And when the beep came again she continued on to the next. Over and over she repeated the circuit. Pushing herself past her own limits.

All this so that one day she’d have the glory of the first female intermix karate champ. Unfortunately there’s almost always a price to pay for glory. Something Sarah should have already been prepared for…


* * * * * * *


Claire sat at her usual cafeteria table for recess, her eyes transfixed by an object in the distance that existed only in her mind. Some would call it a daydream. Others preoccupation or lack of concentration. Claire cared for neither of these descriptions, as they had no bearing on what she was doing or how she perceived herself. In fact she was merely prepping for her forthcoming diary entry, her mind locked in deep concentration.

Claire bit gently on the plastic tip of her blue ballpoint pen, her big brown eyes suddenly casting themselves down at her opened diary page with a cheerful glint. She gently brushed the wisps of her hair back over her ear and let out a content sigh. Her demure face strangely glowing a gentle red blush as she gently pressed the nib of the blue pen to the awaiting blank page.

Dear Dayze,

Todays words of wisdom: Don’t let yourself get distracted by gorgeous guys.

Today on my way to meet Sarah in the gymnasium, my eyes were distracted by the jaw dropping torso of none other than Josh as he headed down towards the school pool. At first I had absolutely no idea it was him, I was too busy fixated on his super defined chest, strong back and washboard abs. Calm down Claire. I’ve hung out with Josh a whole lot lately and I’ve seen his bod before and I know he’s really cute but I just never noticed him like THAT before. My eyes nearly popped out of their sockets when I realized who I was looking at. I think I have a problem, why do I find all the gay or bi guys extremely appealing? At least with Josh I know he’s gay before anything gets out of hand.

Anyway when I realized it was Josh I just hightailed it out of there before he turned and saw that I was staring at him. My head was so full of thoughts that I didn’t pay attention to the door I had just walked through until suddenly I found myself in a room full of sweaty, naked and semi naked guys all getting dressed in the guys changing rooms. Now I am praying that nobody saw me. I was pretty quick to realize I’d made a booboo and ran from that room like a bat out of hell.

I feel really bad about looking at Josh like that and even worse about barging into that room full of guys changing…I saw a few packages today. Oh boy. Bad Claire. I just hope Josh doesn’t find out I was oogling over him for an instant, he might think I’m weird or som….

"Hey, Claire." Josh said as he sat down on the opposite side of Claire and pulled a granny smith apple out of his bag. "What are you doing?"

"Oh…" Claire gasped quickly slapping her diary shut. "Just writing an entry."

"Sorry." Josh said smiling comfortingly. "Didn’t mean to startle you. Or interrupt."

"Oh it’s ok." Claire said blushing a giveaway red.

"It must have been a very interesting diary entry I interrupted."

Claire slipped her diary back into her bag sighing to herself, still with a semi embarrassed smile on her face. "I’d say it was."

"So, who is he?" Josh smiled confidently, the assured look on his face saying how much he’d worked out.

"That’s for Dayze to know and you not to, Mister."

"As long as it’s not Lucas."

"Not even close."

"So are you coming to Dade’s tonight?"

"Why, what are you doing?"

"Oh." Josh shrugged. "Just hanging out. I like it at his house."

"You probably like him too, dontcha?" Claire winked making sure nobody was within earshot of her.

"If I didn’t think he was cute, I wouldn’t be gay would I? Or I’d still be gay but I’d just have bad taste if I didn’t. He is very, very cute. Babe. Just like his brother." Josh whispered. "But I don’t like him that way."

"I know, I know. But you know I’m hooked on trying to set you up, don’t you?"

"I wish you wouldn’t. I’m not really looking right now."

"Ok." Claire smiled as she put her hands in the air. "I’ll mind my own business. Last thing I want to do is get off side with you. I just thought it would be cool to see you get some for yourself. I see how you look at Storm and Lucas and wish you had the same."

"Oh, I mean thank you for the thought and everything. You’ll never get off side with me, I’m just not really looking right now. Dade said to me you shouldn’t try and force it. The best love happens when you least expect it. Sometimes with people you least expect. Don’t look for it, it’ll find you. I’m trying to take his advice."

"Oh ok. I’m pretty sure Merlow’s all out of gay or bi folk anyway. We’d have to venture outwards to find you someone. Like my brother. You think he’s cute?"

"Yeah for sure. He’s just not my type. No disrespect meant or anything."

"None taken. You’re so…polite you know that? Gentlemanlike. Polite, shy, reserved, courteous."

"Blame it on my parents."

"I like all those qualities. Can’t you be straight for me?" Claire smiled with a hint of mischief.

"Sorry." Josh shrugged as he smiled back. "You still didn’t answer my question. Are you coming with me to Dade’s?"

"Straight after school?"

"No, after Dade gets back from karate tonight. I’ve got baseball training after school and he’s got karate tonight. But I want to go over there after he’s finished and just hang out. You know like we usually do."

"Yeah…" Claire smiled. "I’ll come. Besides, I’ve gotta give Dade’s CD back."

"Pretty awesome don’t you think?"

"Dade or his music?" Claire said sitting herself back down on one of the outdoors lunch table.


"He is actually. He’s very awesome. He’s got a good grip on things too, don’t you find that surprising? But…there’s something about him that seems…well…sad. He’s not obvious about it. It’s just kinda…there beneath. Am I just seeing things? I mean you’ve known him way longer than I have. I’ve only hung with him a couple months. Some of the latest songs he’s written have been kinda sad too don’t you think?"

"Yeah…" Josh sighed knowingly. "He’s just got some personal things going on. Don’t worry about him. I shouldn’t even be talking about it. Forget I said anything."

"You didn’t say anything. You just confirmed what I already had a hunch on. Don’t worry, Josh. If it’s something personal consider it wiped. I won’t mention it again. You’re pretty loyal to Dade aren’t you?"


"So he’s your absolute best friend now huh?"

"He’s my best friend. I’m not sure if he sees me the same way."

"I bet you’re glad you stood up to Brad that day huh? Lose one, gain another."

"It was really Dade’s choice for us to be friends. He could’ve just left me hanging and I’d just be a complete loser right now but he didn’t. He’s a great guy."

"What about Lucas?"

"I don’t owe him anything. I used to think I did but not anymore. He kicked my ass and I don’t think I deserved it, looking back. Storm didn’t do anything to me, why should Lucas have? I just don’t really like Lucas anymore."

"I guess the VC thing doesn’t help either huh?"

"No it doesn’t." Josh said narrowing his eyes before he shook his head. "But that’s all ancient history now. I don’t hate Lucas…I just don’t really want to be friends you know what I mean?"

"Yeah, I do." Claire sighed as she unexpectedly observed Brad sitting by himself in the corner of the cafeteria eating his lunch. "I guess that’s the same with you and Brad, right?"

"Oh, Brad…" Josh said casting his eyes upon the solitary figure of Brad Sisto. "I kinda forgot about him. We haven’t spoken in a while."

"I used to really ha…no that’s a bit strong a word. I just really really disliked him. But he’s kinda pathetic these days don’t you think? I kinda feel sorry for him."

"I don’t." Josh said bluntly, taking another bite out of his juicy green apple.

"Not even a bit?"

"Nope. Would you like an apple?"

"Uhh sure." Claire said looking over at Brad with a confused look in her eye. Unsure of whether she should feel sorry for him or just forget about it. Josh gave the impression that he thought Brad deserved whatever he had. Josh had never failed Claire before, maybe she should just listen to him. After all, Brad was nothing but bad news. Claire was sure even after all this time, he couldn’t have changed.

"Claire?" Josh said holding a crisp green apple out to Claire.

"Oh sorry."

"Forget about him. He’s bad news ok. Just stay away from him. I don’t want you hanging out with him."

"What?" Claire said with a surprised smile on her face, wondering what had prompted Josh to say what he did.

"I’m sorry. I mean, I would really hate to see someone like you get mixed up with someone like him. You’re my friend. I’m protective of you. I’m sorry for saying that though, it was out of line."

"It’s ok. Least ya care. Thanks, Josh. I’ll stay away from him." Claire smiled. "For you, Pal."

"Thanks." Josh smiled back. "Now about this guy…"


* * * * * * *


Carl Bentley and I made our way towards next period via picking Sarah up from her locker. A routine we’d subconsciously perfected. I smiled as I saw Lucas walking in my direction with Mike as they headed to their next class. Lucas smiled warmly at me as he approached and I did the ‘brow thing’ to both him and Mike, who replied in kind.

"Hey Babe."

"Hey Babe."

Lucas and I walked past each other and raised our hands slapping a high five as we went in separate directions.

"Later Babe."

"Later Babe."

Carl looked at me strangely as we walked through the hallway. "Are you two in love or something?" Carl grinned.

I stopped dead in my tracks. He thinks Lucas and I are in love. This could ruin us at school. Oh well. Who am I to argue with the guy? I turned around and shouted after Lucas. "Lucas! Buddy!"

"What is it, Dude?!" Lucas shouted back.

"Carl here thinks I’m in love with you!"

"Well you are, aren’t you?" Lucas said very matter of factly with a sheepish smile on his face.

"Oh yeah, that’s right. I am." I said with a ‘light bulb’ look on my face. "Later Mate!!" I shouted back as I turned around to carry on to class.

"Weirdoes." Carl said shaking his head.

"Now now, don’t get jealous. I won’t forget about us."

"Puh lease. Just don’t even go there. I’m gonna get me some Claire. Hot damn that babe is fiinneee."

"Yup. I know."

"How do you know?"

"Uhh hullo, you know I have three names, First is Storm, Third is Supreme."

"What’s the second?"

"Stud." I said smiling back.

"You forgot Butt Head."

"But then if I called myself Butt Head, people would get you and I mixed up."

"Smart ass."

"Beats being a dumb ass."

"You’re so fucking infuriating Storm!! Why can’t you just let me win sometimes!?"

"Because I don’t know how to lose." I grinned.

"AAaAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!" Carl screamed. "I’m gonna get you one of these days, Storm Cloud."

"Hey, Sarah." I said walking up behind Sarah as she got her books ready and I leaned against her neighboring locker. "How are ya Sexy Girly?"

"Not bad, not bad. Hey, Carl. How are you guys?" Sarah said greeting us warmly with a smile.

"Hi, Sarah." Carl said blushing, still getting a kick whenever Sarah even acknowledged him. This guy’s a real sucker for the ladies that’s for sure. "I’m fine thanks."

"Great, Babe. You all ready for our big test today?" I said covering my mouth as a slight yawn escaped me.

"Sure am. How bout you guys?" Sarah said throwing her bag back over her shoulder as she closed her locker.

"Ready and willing, Captain!" Carl said making a mock salute.

"At ease, Soldier!" Sarah said saluting Carl back with an unbelieving grin on lurking beneath her smile.

"What a dork." I said almost cracking up with laughter when out of the corner of my eye I noticed Lucas having what looked like a very in depth conversation with someone I had never laid eyes on in my life. And I know almost everyone in this school. "Hey, Sarah. Who’s that over there talking to Lucas?"

"Huh? Oh him. He’s the new guy. Marty Lee Miller. Just moved here."

"You know anything about him?"

"Not really. People call him Marty Lee, not Marty. And only that he has the cutest accent and he was very pleased to meet me. "

"I’d be pleased too. Wouldn’t you, Carl?"

"Hell yeah. Damn pleased." Carl grinned. "Don’t tell Mike I said that."

"They look pretty deep in conversation." I said looking this new guy over once more. He looked like he was about 5’9 or maybe smaller. I was taller than him anyway and so was Lucas for that matter being a little over 6’ himself. Marty Lee’s hair was a short spiky brown. For some reason just looking at his stature made me believe he was very self confident. Just a vibe I picked up. And both he and Lucas seemed to be in the middle of some deep looking discussion. "Maybe I’ll just introduce myself later."

"He seems to be making friends alright. At least he wasn’t greeted by Brad before he realized Brad is the school loser." Carl said pointing to Brad who stood at his open locker a few steps down from Lucas and Marty Lee. "Man that dick sure got what he had coming. Even the geeks don’t hang out with him."

"Oh…" Sarah said softly under her breath.

"Shut up, Carl. Let’s just leave him alone. We don’t need to tease him. Come on, Sarah."

"Of all people you’re the one that should despise him the most. You couldn’t stand the guy. You never liked him."

"Yeah well…people change you know…"


* * * * * * *


"Man, I am famished. That test musta taken it outta me." I said as Sarah and I entered the cafeteria for lunch. "I could eat a horse."

"Me too." Sarah said as she rubbed her stomach. "I’ve been working out triple time lately and it’s making me eat like a Brahma Bull."

"I can tell." I said poking Sarah’s midsection and feeling her hard abdominal muscles. "Damn you’re one hot chick, Sarah."

"I don’t usually like people calling me chick…but just this one time…" Sarah grinned back at me with a wink. "Well you never know when you and I might get to spar, Big Boy. These legs have got a lot more kick in them now and these arms…"

"Stop making me drool." I said stepping up behind Sarah and wrapping my arms around her midsection and squeezing slightly. "It’ll make Lucas jealous."

"It’ll also put you in a hurtlock. From yours truly."

"Come on, one quick shag before lunch. It’ll work up your appetite."

"You are such a dick sometimes, Storm." Sarah smiled, pushing me off.

"I know, I know. I try my best." I said grinning.

My cheeky grin suddenly dissipated as my eye caught the lone figure of Brad sitting by himself in the oft rejected table. I felt incredibly guilty right now as I watched Brad eat by himself, nobody even willing to sit at the same table as him. A few months ago I made a deal with Dade. Brad and I would try to become friends in a two week period but Dade would be watching Brad like a hawk. If Dade wasn’t happy and still felt weary of Brad, I had to stay away from him. It was Dade’s call. I don’t really blame him after what Brad not only did to me but also to a lot of other people including Dade. I respected Dade’s decision as I knew it would ease his mind and because it was also part of our deal. Even though I felt that Brad and I could have ended up being friends with a bit more time. Dade felt otherwise.

Now almost three months after I told Brad to back off, here he is. Alone. His tough guy reputation remained no more. He almost didn’t hang out with any of the jock club anymore except for the very, very few occasions when Josh hung out with him. Those were all past now anyway as Josh had fully moved onto being friends with Dade and Claire.

Brad hadn’t spoken to Scott and Peter his former thug agents since Sarah told them to stay away from him. He had also gone from being vice captain of the football team to being the lowly waterboy. Mainly because Brad had been sidelined due to injuries and inappropriate behavior. I’m pretty sure Brad would class this school year as definitely not one of his best.

Three months Brad had to practice the loner routine. He was pretty good at it. Even people who weren’t so popular didn’t even want to hang with Brad. They remembered the torment Brad would issue upon them daily and had no want to hang with him now. Brad was the definitive loser.

That fact didn’t bother me. What did though is the new attitude or manner Brad had. He was deathly quiet these days. When in the past he was loud mouthed, obnoxious and outspoken. He was defeated. Often Submissive. Broken. Silent.

I didn’t like it.

"Sarah, can you go on ahead. I need to do something. Tell Mike and Lucas I’ll see them later."

"No sweat. Don’t be long."

"I won’t."

As Sarah left me I made my way over to the very corner of the cafeteria. I approached Brad from behind and quickly made my way around the table to sit directly opposite him. Our eyes met as Brad raised his head having just taken a bite out of his meat sandwich. Brad’s rusty brown eyes were boring into me intently, both attempting to decipher why I was here and looking at me with contempt because I was here.

"Brad." I said breaking the tense silence between us.

"Storm." Brad replied short and sharp.

"Uuuhh…how are you?"


"Ok. So…"

Silence. Brad continued eating his lunch as if I weren’t even there. Probably expecting me to get up and walk off. When after five minutes or so I still hadn’t vacated my seat he put his drink down and looked at me curiously for a few moments before he finally broke the silence.

"What are you doing here, Storm?" Brad asked unhesitant.

"I…I don’t know. I just…"

"I don’t need your pity. Go away." Brad said bluntly.

I raised my left eyebrow in surprise at Brad’s directness. "No." I replied flatly.

Once again a brief silence returned, filled with Brad’s stunned gaze on me. This time his gaze was laced with a slight smile that gave away the fact he was slightly impressed with my rebuttal. "So what’s it like being the big class president now? You must be awfully proud of yourself sitting way up there."

"It’s an interesting job. I like it."

"And everyone loves having you in it. Mr. Popularity. King Storm. Everybody loves you."

"Do you have a problem with me being class president?"

"I don’t. But you know your tough little babe of an ex girlfriend might. Of course I’m sure she doesn’t show it but we all know she had the votes. She just conceded because she didn’t want to challenge you publicly. Now that’s what I’d call a true friend. Wouldn’t you?"

"Brad, I came here to try and be friends with you but it’s obvious you’re still a jerk. I’ll just let you sit here and wallow on your pathetic lonesome." I said as I shot to my feet. "And you’re right, Sarah is a true friend. Something you could only dream of having."

"Well at least I made you go away." Brad said taking another bite of his sandwich.

"You know." I said sitting back down opposite Brad. "I think I’ll just sit back down here. Besides, you’ve just made it obvious that you want me to sit here."


"If you really wanted me to go away. You wouldn’t have said that you made me go away. You would have just let me go away."


"Not too bright there are we?"

"I’m not stupid, Storm."

"I didn’t mean it like that. I know you’re not."

"I voted for you, you know."

"Huh?" I said surprised.

"Not too bright there are we?" Brad said inadvertently letting a smile slip. "I said I voted for you."

"I know what you said. I just didn’t expect that you would have."

"You know, Storm…"



"No, go ahead. Tell me."

"Dade wouldn’t be very happy if he knew you were talking to me."

"Oh well. He’s not here. Besides that’s old news."

"Well I kinda like being by myself now. So if you’d just leave me alone, I’ll do the same to you." Brad said suddenly trying to resume what he was doing before I sat down.

"Are you sure? You know I could st…"

"No thank you." Brad said going suddenly icy on me.

"What? Did I say something wrong?"

"Have a nice day." Brad said flatly, pulling out one of his scrapbooks and pencil as he began to sketch like I wasn’t even there.

I knew when I was getting the shuffle on. For a moment there I actually thought Brad and I were connecting on the level again. "Uhh ok. You too." I said getting up and leaving.

I don’t know what made him suddenly go cold on me again but I had a feeling it was pointless to try and push further with this. In time I could. But not at this moment. I had an urge to at least try and rid the tension and simmering animosity between Brad and I. It had been so long and to me Brad just didn’t seem like the same person anymore. I guess being spun out like he had been the last few months had taught him humility. And on occasion humiliation too I imagine. For some strange reason I wanted to try and make things right with Brad. It was a challenge for me. I’m not sure why…I don’t know why…but I want to be his friend…go figure.


* * * * * * *


Lucas closed his locker shut and threw his bag back over his shoulder when he noticed Josh was also at his locker. He made his way over to Josh nervously, knowing that he and Josh hadn’t really been on bud terms for a long time. When it came to people like Brad, Lucas didn’t care what they thought of him. But someone like Josh was another story. Lucas respected Josh. And even more so he wanted Josh to be one of his closer friends.

"Hi, Josh." Lucas said nervously. "Uhh how was your break, Dude?"

"Is there something in particular you wanted, Lucas?"

"No…I…I just wanted to see how you were doing, Dude. See how your break was and everything."

"Well to be honest I don’t really want to talk to you, Lucas." Josh said closing his locker. "I appreciate you helping me sort things out before but you know I realize now even though it’s a bit late, that you had no right to smack me around at Camp. I mean Storm didn’t hit me so what gave you the right to?"

"Dude I’m so sorr…"

"Forget it. I’m not here to reopen old wounds. You helped me, you beat me. We’re even. Game over."

"What do you mean? I’m sorry about the VC thing man, I re…"

"Don’t be sorry. You earnt the VC fair and square. That’s old news. But I’d appreciate it if from now on you just left me alone. I don’t want to be friends, I don’t want to be enemies. I don’t want to be anything. Not with you." Josh said walking away.

"Josh! Please! I’m sorry man!" Lucas said grabbing Josh’s shoulder.

"Lucas, I don’t want any trouble."

"Trouble? Dude, I just wanna be friends again. Can’t we be friends like we used to be?"


"But why? I told you I was sorry. I tried to make it up to you. I thought we were ok about what happened. This is still really about the VC thing isn’t it? I’m sorry, Josh. I know you could’ve done a great job."

"You remind me of what I don’t have. That’s why I don’t like being around you unless I absolutely have to. And you know I’m angry at myself for just letting slide what you did to me before. You Fucking Asshole." Josh said fuming now, his long buried simmering animosity towards Lucas for past sins coming to the surface. "How would you like it if I just kicked your ass right now huh? I bet you wouldn’t. Everybody thinks you’re a nice guy but you’re full of shit. You’re a selfish asshole. Nothing but a fucken punk."

"Oh man." Lucas said backing away slowly trying to hide the hurt he felt right now. "Why are you doing this?"

"Just leave me alone ok? And I’ll return the favor. Goodbye."

"Josh!" Lucas shouted pointlessly as Josh quickly made himself disappear into the sea of students moving towards their next classes. "Josh!"


* * * * * * *


"Babe, what’s wrong?" I whispered leaning over to Lucas. "You’ve been pouting all class."

"It’s Josh." Lucas frowned.

"Lovers tiff?" I said smiling cheekily.

"Quiet you." Lucas said smiling broadly back at me.

"I see a smile!"

"This is one of those moments where I feel like giving you a little kiss. But even Mike and Sarah aren’t allowed to do that in the middle of class."

"We’ll make up for it tonight. So tell me what’s up?"

"I know Josh has been really distant from me since I got the VC but today he outright said he didn’t want to be friends with me."

"Because of the VC thing?"

"Yeah and because of what happened at camp. You know."

"Yeah…I know. But why now? I mean you guys were friends after that happened. It must just be the VC thing."

"I doubt it. I think someone said something to him. He said he realizes now that I had no right to beat him. And he’s right. I just wish I could fix it. I’m no better than Brad."

"Course you are. I just feel bad that Josh got mixed up in that whole thing. He’s a good guy. He really is. Ever since he’s been hanging out with Dade I’ve gotten to know him a lot better. It’d be sad to see you two get off side with each other because Josh is an awesome guy. He’s polite, well mannered, courteous, shy, modest. I could go on and on. He would’ve been perfect for Marcel."

"I dunno. But you’re right he is a good guy. That’s why I want to be friends with him. I just don’t know what to do."

I put my hand on Lucas shoulder and squeezed it reassuringly. "Everything’s going to be fine, Lucas. You’ll see. Just take a deep breath and relax. Trust me. Everything will be ok."

"Ok." Lucas smiled contentedly as he sighed. "I trust you."

"Only twenty minutes left till the end of the day. What a day. I wish we both didn’t have training tonight. I just want to go home and make out all night with you." I whispered to Lucas with a smile on my face.

"I know, Dude. I feel the same way. But umm it’s ok if I stay at your place tonight isn’t it? Do you think it would be ok?"

"That’ll be fine, Babe. Mom will understand. I think when she was my age she was the same way with Dad. And we haven’t spent hardly any time together today. Would you rather stay at my place or do you wanna stay at your place?"

"You know I like your place better. It just feels homelier. And like…umm I don’t mean to crowd your space or anything but your room…you know…it kinda feels like our own little apartment together or something. I love it."

"You know, when you turn 18 next year we can get our own apartment together. If you wanted to that is."

"Are you kidding?" Lucas said lighting up with a beaming smile. "Our whole house is already decorated inside my head. I know all the kinda furniture that you would like. We could use some of the stuff from your room and mine. And get lotsa new stuff."

"I can’t wait."

"You know I really love it when you talk about us in a long term way, you know?"

"I love talking about us long term." I said smiling warmly. "I love ‘us’."

"Class, put down your pens please." Miss Hatcher said as she moved to sit Indian style on top of her desk at the front of the class. "Everyone relax a bit. I want to ask you all a question and would like to hear your personal thoughts on this."

"Oooh, talk time." I grinned at Lucas. "Most fun I’ve had since middle school. I love this part of class."

"Me too, Dude."

"Me three." Mike said moving his chair closer to us as Sarah did the same.

"Me four. I wonder what she’ll snore us with today. I just love this analytical crap…I mean study." Sarah said trying to hide her contempt for ‘talk time’.

"I want you all to have a good think about this." Miss Hatcher said adjusting her legs. "And put your hand up if you would like to give your opinion. What would you consider worse personally? Let’s say you are with the partner of your dreams and you have a beautiful relationship. Would it be worse if your partner one day suddenly woke up and realized they didn’t love you anymore or would it be worse if they had an affair?"

An unusual silence fell over the class and sure enough Mike and Sarah’s eyes were on each other as were Lucas eyes on mine. I looked intently into Lucas eyes as we both tried to work out what the other was thinking. I think I wanted subconsciously to be on the same level as Lucas was. By the look in his eyes he wanted the same thing. We looked at each other nervously, trying to see who was going to be the first of us to answer if either of us did at all.

Mike was first to break the silence as he raised his hand and Miss Hatcher nodded for Mike to go ahead. "I think cheating is the worst thing because when you love someone you’re supposed to be able to trust them. If they cheat on you they break that trust so how can you love them the same? And if they cheated on you do they really even love you? At least if someone falls out of love it’s not really of any fault of their own, it just happens. So yeah I think cheating is worst."

A loud murmur of agreeances came from the class including Lucas. I couldn’t help but offer a little new dimension to this discussion since most of the class had already agreed with Mike. I raised my hand to the air and waited for my signal to speak.

"Well I think the worst thing would be to wake up and have the person you love more than anything just suddenly not love you the same anymore. At least if your partner were to cheat on you, there’d be more of a chance at salvaging a relationship. But I mean what would really feel worse? Having someone you love cheating on you or having someone you love just wake up and not love you anymore. That’s what I think anyway..."

I didn’t really pay attention to what anyone else said in response to Miss Hatcher’s question. Lucas and I looked at each other strangely as if our differing opinions would have some kind of detrimental effect on our universe. Even Sarah and Mike were doing the same thing, their opinions also differing. I suppose both Mike and I expected our partner’s to have the same feelings we did on this kind of subject but both were differing, Sarah with me and Lucas with Mike.

We all sat silently through the remainder of class. I could read Lucas so well, I knew the look in his eyes. He felt like if he could hold my hand we’d both feel better. But since we couldn’t, he just sat there looking at me instead.

"It won’t happen you know." Lucas whispered into my ear as the bell rang.

"What won’t happen?"

"Me waking up one day and not being in love with you."

"How do you know? You can’t see the future."

"Yeah I can." Lucas said softly with a content all knowing smile on his face.

"Ok." I smiled. "We can pick up on this later. I’ll see you after training."

"I wish you played baseball with us. Mike told me you were awesome when you used to play together. It would be sooo cool to play on the same team."

"Yeah I know. It’s just that the training nights collide. Anyway I better jet. I’ll see you tonight."

"Aren’t you gonna come by…you know…our spot before training starts?"

"Oh yeah. I just gotta go pick some books up from the library and I’ll be right over."

"Hurry." Lucas said in that soft seductive voice of his.

My eyes went wide and I just looked at Lucas before I grabbed my stuff and threw my bag on. "Time me."


* * * * * * *


"Hi, You." I said walking up to Lucas, putting my hands at either side of his waist and pulling him towards me. I held Lucas against me and leaned forward rubbing the tips of our noses together as we smiled at each other. "Hope I didn’t take too long."

"No. Thank you for coming." Lucas said pressing his soft lips against mine and kissing me gently.

We held our foreheads against each other in our trademark manner, occasionally stealing a few kisses from each other as we enjoyed our quiet time together before Lucas had baseball training and I went home. We wouldn’t see each other again until late tonight after karate practice was over and even though that wasn’t usually much of a big deal to normal people, it seemed like forever to Lucas and I.

Lucas brushed his fingers against the side of my face before he moved his hands to the back of my neck. I left my hands at his waist and gently massaged the small of Lucas back. "Ok I should let you go. Have a good training, Baby. I love you."

"You just got here. No one will see us here and we’ve still got 25 minutes before I have to be on the field. Just stay here with me, a little longer. Please?"

"Only because you love me."

"Plus there’s something I want to talk to you about."

"What is it?"

"It’s about Dade…"


* * * * * * *


Dade sat on his bed, his slender fingers dancing on the strings of his guitar. His blue eyes closed, he had no pattern or rhyme to work from. No music sheet to play from. He simply sat there letting his fingers pluck music from the subconscious flows of his mind. Time seemed to exist everywhere else but here when Dade was in his own zone.

Dade sat against the wall so that the whispering breeze coming through his window would gently caress his face and chest and tease the wisps of his hair. This was heaven to Dade. This was as good as it gets. Nothing could bring him out of his own version of meditation…

"You have email!"

Dade’s eyes opened instantly and he shot to his feet, accidentally banging his toe against his desk chair leg. He cursed silently to himself and sat down at his desk hurriedly, flipping open the laptop Marcel had left behind for him.

"Receive." Dade said sharply, interpreted accurately by the voice recognition software installed in his laptop by Marcel to help deal with Dade’s techno phobia.

Instantly the screen brought up the incoming email.

Hi Dade,

I’m sorry I took so long to get back to you. I know it was really crappy of me to leave you hanging for so long to wait for an answer but I really had to have a big think about what you said. I know we’ve got some really important things to talk about and I really don’t want to get into them over email. I’ll call you tonight and we can talk then.

I miss everyone there so much. I don’t cry at night or anything like that. But I get the worst pangs while I lie awake at night thinking about everything I’m missing out on back home. I feel like I’ve had to grow up so quickly here. I just won’t come back the same person and it really sucks. Sometimes I wish I’d never come here. What does success matter if you don’t have any people to share it with? I mean Nate’s cool but it’s not the same as being with you, Storm, Sarah and Mike. But then you’ve heard this all before haven’t you? How many times have you read this very same type of email from me talking about all my troubles?

Anyway what really sucks is both of us feeling shitty at either end. And that’s what else I want to talk to you about so I’ll call you the usual time tonight. I love you, Babe. Talk to you real soon.

- Marcel

3 months, 26 days…

Dade leaned forward and lay his face in his hands, sighing with a slight whimper. Every time he heard from Marcel made him glow on the inside. And then just as quick as Dade shut down the laptop or hung up the phone he was filled with an intense longing again. And this is how it went and how it had been ever since Marcel first left. Tearing Dade up inside with emotions and longings he hadn’t experienced before. He wasn’t sure how much longer he could go on feeling like this. And that’s why he’d put Marcel on the spot and asked him the hard question to which he’d soon know the answer.

"Reply message. Begin text. I’ll be waiting. Fullstop. End text. Send message. Delete all messages."


* * * * * * *


I entered the familiar surroundings of the dojo that I’d spent so much of my time in over the years. This was one place that had remained constant with me over the years. From the mirrors that adorned the front of the room, from floor to ceiling. To the practice rooms that joined on from the side, filled with training equipment that had been some of the few things to be updated over the years.

Above the main mirrors, the nine level belts hung in a row as they always had. Giving each student that had passed through this place the encouragement to continue, strive and to succeed till they had accomplished the ultimate. I was proud to now be a member of that group who had.

Sarah and I made our way into the practice room to spend some time training while Dade spoke to Sensei Takada. I almost always spent time warming myself up and doing some of my own private training while we waited for class to begin. It always charged me up for the main class and got me into the flow.

"Whoa! Look at this guy, I’d hate to be on the receiving end of his lightening kicks."

That last statement, spoken by another student of this dojo, Wendell Seeder, instantly caught my attention. I turned my attention to see someone I didn’t properly recognize, practicing his roundhouse and thrust kicks against the training bags. The power and precision of his kicks made even me raise my eyebrow in trepidation.

"Yeah man, I hear ya. Where did he come from? I think he’s going to give Storm competition with moves like this and it’s only practice." Drew Paris said to Wendell.

"Did I just hear someone say my name?" I said stepping up behind Wendell and Drew. "Hey, Sarah, isn’t that the new guy?"

"Huh?" Sarah said, obviously her attention had also been on the awesome display in front of us. "Oh yeah it is. Marty Lee."

"Oh hey, Storm. What’s up, Champ?" Wendell said slapping my hand.

"I was planning on prepping up for class. What’s all the fuss about?"

"You better have a look for yourself." Drew said pointing towards Marty Lee. "This new guy is very impressive."

"He sure looks good in that uniform." Sarah said letting a smile edge across her face. "Maybe I should get Mike to join."

"He definitely looks impressive." I said admittedly, observing the fluidity and sheer force being exerted by Marty Lee. "Definitely impressive…"

"Ok, Storm let’s run through some drills before class starts." Dade said patting me on the back as he walked up from behind. "Gimmie some quality time with the champ."

"You bet, Bro. You can be my training partner going into the cross regional coming up. I wanna bring that baby home." I said as Dade and I made our way to a spare sparring section in the practice room.

"Well who else is going to take it from you? In your division, you’re the best. In our dojo, you’re the best. Always have been, always will be."

"Well you know what they say…when you’re at the top there’s only one place to go…" I said with foreboding apprehension as my eyes became transfixed on Marty Lee as he annihilated that training bag. The way he moved with such confidence and powe…

"Storm? Heellloooo. Dade to Storm, come in Storm."

"Oh sorry, Bro. I was just watching the new guy, Marty Lee. Isn’t he something? He’s going to be a challenge I can tell. A perfect fit for our dojo."

"Hey guys, mind if I practice with you?" Sarah said walking up beside us.

"Sure, Sarah." Dade replied. "We’re just going through a few drills before class starts."

"Ok let’s work on this self defense drill I’ve made." I said getting into a ready position opposite Dade. "Okay, Dade I want you to come at me with a right hook while I counter."

"Okay, Bro."

Dade stood in a ready position waiting for my signal to him to go ahead. I nodded at him and Dade lunged at me with a solid right hook. I instantly stepped aside and avoid Dade’s punch with a high block using my left hand and throw a punch to Dade’s mid-section followed with a right thrust kick backing him up. I then threw a ridge hand to the neck, taking Dade off his feet with a sweep of his right leg, sending him to the ground.

"Nice touch, Storm." Sarah said helping Dade up. "That was a solid thrust kick you gave."

"Don’t I know it? Glad I had my rib protector on or else my ribs would have been crushed."

"Well that was an extremely impressive one-step you just did. I like doing those myself also, it makes you think quick."

"Ahhh thanks." I said turning to see Marty Lee standing behind me. "If you don’t think quick Martial Arts is useless. You can have all the technique in the world, but if you don’t think fast it don’t mean jack. Hey you’re the new kid at school."

"I am. Name’s Marty Lee. I’ve seen you at school, but I don’t know your..."

"Storm. Storm Marcus. Pleased to meet you." I said shaking Marty Lee’s hand firmly. "Marty Lee I’d like to introduce you to my brother Dade. I believe you’ve already met, Sarah."

Marty Lee extended his hand to meet Dade’s "Pleased to meet you Marty Lee."

"Likewise, your brother has quite a kick there. I saw from across the other side of the room. Good thing you wear a rib protector. Once I was doing this drill with a friend of mine back home and I didn’t mean to hit him so hard, but he insisted he didn’t want a protector on. The next thing I know he’s on the floor crying."

"Hi Marty Lee, I didn’t know you trained in the Martial Arts?"

"Hi again, Sarah. I’ve been studying the Martial Arts for a number of years now. I’m really excited about joining your dojo."

"Okay everyone, let us begin our class." Sensei Takada said, instantly summoning every student.

Everyone entered through the main doorway entrance, each stopping and bowing before they entered. The class lined up according to belt level with me, the highest ranking member of the class at the start of the line. Sensei Takada took his usual spot at the front of the classroom while I shouted the motto, since that duty is given to the current highest ranking member. At that point everyone in the class including Sensei Takada bow before we begin with a few opening words from him.

"Before we begin our warm up exercises, I would like to take this moment and introduce to you a very special new member to our karate school. Everyone please welcome, Marty Lee Miller."

"Welcome, Marty Lee." I said in unison with everyone else, prompting nods and a smile from Marty Lee.

"Marty Lee comes to us from our West District Dojo and is trained by one of my closest friends, Sensei Richards. He is a highly decorated student. A two time junior champion and has won several forms competitions at various belt levels. His one steps are spectacular and he has quite an imagination. I’ve asked Marty Lee to tutor some of our beginners as they try to advance to the next belt level and he has graciously offered his assistance. Okay let’s begin with our warm up exercises for 15 minutes. Storm, would you please lead the class for me?"

"Hai." I replied with a small bow.

I led the class in several stretching exercises to help increase flexibility and reduce the risk of damaging muscles during class. Once again just part of the daily routine as far as our training went. And with this being a teenage sparring class, this part was vital as classes are always very intense at this level.

"This is a large class today, so I will break from our normal routine as I will have only two people sparring at once. I’d like Marty Lee to come up along with Drew." Sensei said ushering both students to the mat.

I watched with building anticipation as Marty Lee and Drew bow to Sensei and to each other before both assumed a ready position. This would be the first real assessment I could make of Marty Lee’s abilities. I already felt as if he’d instantly assume number two ranking, and eventually even my spot. I knew I would have seniority over him for the next few weeks or so even if his skills outshone mine, partly for my experience and time with this class and because having a new guy come in straight to number one would be too unsettling for the class. So as you can imagine I was very interested in seeing him in action.

Marty Lee’s eyes always remain on his opponent as he bows, never releasing his guard to anyone he faces. Before his opponent can get into a solid fighting stance, Marty Lee initiates the sparring match with an offensive side kick, back round kick which immediately starts to fluster his opponent, Drew. Each kick makes contact with Drew’s midsection. The kicks were so well timed it was almost impossible for Drew to block them.

As they circle around, Sensei watches them like a hawk. Drew lunges forward, throwing a back fist that comes inches from Marty Lee’s head with a follow up body punch to Marty Lee’s solar plexus. It was a good punch as it did connect to his rib protector. Marty Lee picks the pace up a notch as he begins to throw Drew off direction. He fakes right and moves left as he sees the perfect opening for a thrust kick, jump spin wheel kick. If this were a real fight, Drew would have felt that right foot come crashing on the side of his jaw. Luckily for Drew, in sparring there is no head contact allowed in the dojo. The onlookers, including myself, are very impressed with Marty Lee’s self control and his quickness as his legs move like lightening.

"Okay. Break." Sensei Takada said instantly eliciting the desired response. "I’d like to have Marty Lee stay up here and I’d like to have two students this time face off against him. Dade and Wendell, you’re up next."

Dade had a slight grin on his face, not that of a cocky fighter, but more of slight intimidation. Once again the students bow to our Sensei and each other before entering their stances. The sparring begins with both sides keeping their distance. Suddenly, Dade makes the first move this time and throws a clean crescent kick, reverse hook kick.

I find my insides churning slightly with excitement and exhilaration, and also with happiness seeing Dade fare so well against a highly skilled student. Marty Lee however isn’t worn down at all, rather he is being very cautious against both his opponents. I can see him studying their moves, seeing who is aggressive and who might be passive. It’s obvious to Marty Lee that Dade is the aggressor.

Dade again initiates a flurry as he executes a sidekick. This time it’s blocked by Marty Lee who gives Dade a round kick to the midsection and without a pause, round kicks coming close to Dade’s chin. His double kicks are rapid and unexpected. Marty Lee sweeps Dade off his feet sending him to the ground. I can see Marty Lee noticed my one step technique in the practice room and just used it himself on Dade. The timing allows Marty Lee to focus now on Wendell. He tosses a ridge hand to the throat area followed with a hook kick, round kick combination. Dade is up at this point and shakes it off, much to my proud but subtle smile’s delight. He is again the aggressive one of the two, which impresses Sensei Takada.

"Break! Good work you three, you may have a seat."

"Dade, you looked great up there! You’ve really settled in awesomely over the last few months. All the effort you’ve put in with Sarah to get back on top. It shows, Man. I’m so proud of you." I said patting Dade on the back and grinning proudly.

"Thanks, Bro." Dade said smiling back at me with those dimples of his accentuating his mischievous grin. "Man that guy sure has stamina and power too. I have a lot of work to do still, that sweep got me, Bro."

"Don’t worry, Dade you did great. I saw the look in Sensei Takada’s eyes, you impressed him with your aggressiveness."

"He’s pretty damn good. But you could still take him, Bro."

"Yeah…well, we’ll see."


* * * * * * *


 "Hi, Dad." Lucas said as he entered his lounge and flopped down on the settee, throwing his bags off the side. "Phew."

"How was your day, Son?" John Sheridan asked as he lowered his evening paper to look at his son.

"Busy. Same as always. How was yours, Dad?"

"Busy. Same as always." Lucas’ father replied. "I need a vacation."

"So take one, Dad. You work too hard." Lucas said hauling himself up so he could sit up straight.

"Maybe in a few months. We’re not really in a position to now. You know your sister called for you last night."

"Whoa, Anna?" Lucas replied in surprise.

"Do you have any other sisters?"


"Then it was her."

"What did she want?"

"To talk to you. But since you weren’t here."

"Oh man...I was supposed to be here. Oh man." Lucas said slapping his forehead. "I’m so stupid sometimes. How could I forget?"

"I’ll give you a clue. Five letter word starting with S and ending with M."

"I can’t believe I forgot."

"One of these days she’s going to stop calling back."

"I’ll make sure I talk to her this week. Where’s Mom?"

"She’s out back. Maybe you should go talk to her."


Lucas pulled himself to his feet and picked his bags up. He threw them nonchalantly into his room as he walked straight past and continued out to the backyard where his mother had just finished planting some mint in her herb garden. Mira Sheridan, a blonde haired woman with piercing green eyes, just entering her early fifties. You could definitely see the resemblance between mother and son. The same lips, the same smile, same nose.

"Hi, Mom." Lucas said leaning down to kiss his mother hello as she sat on her knees toiling in the soil.

"Dinner’s in the oven. Your father and I weren’t sure if you were going to join us so we ate without you."

"Oh, ok. Thanks."

"Anna called for you last night. You told her you were going to be here. You know she’s a busy woman, all you had to do was be here. You said you were going to be here."

"I’m sorry, Mom. I totally forgot."

"I bet you did."

"Don’t start on me, Mom." Lucas said sighing aridly to himself. "I just stepped in. Can’t you wait at least five minutes before you start in on me? At least Dad asks how my day was."

"How can I ask how your day was if you’re not even here? You barely come home anymore. When was the last time you were here? Friday? You said you’d be back yesterday."

"I’m a big boy. I can take care of myself. Besides I always call Dad to let him know I’m ok."

"Don’t you think you’re smothering that poor young man? You’re taking over the poor guy’s life. It’s bad enough your influence turned him in to what you are."

"And what exactly is that, Mother?" Lucas said becoming clearly heated at his mother’s words.

"It’s not normal. It’s not natural. How many times do I have to tell you? Let the poor guy go before you’ve ruined his life forever."

"I’m not ruining his life. I don’t care what you say. We’ve known each other almost a year now. Been going out for six months. This isn’t a fling. We’re in it for the long haul, Storm just as much as me. Why don’t you ask him if his life is ruined?"

"Maybe I will. I wouldn’t mind having a talk to his mother either. Or his father. I best be talking to them before you take over his life completely. I can tell it’s heading that way. And It’s also obvious to me that they would rather their son be normal but they support him because he’s their son."

"Exactly! So why can’t you be that way with me?"

"Tell me, Son. You say this isn’t a fling. If I recall correctly, neither was Ashley."

"That was different."

"Well at least you can’t get anyone pregnant this time."

"You are such a…bitch." Lucas said so angry and frustrated, trying to keep all his emotions in check. "Why can’t you just let me be? Every single time I talk to you you’ve got to bring up the past and attack me with it. You have to remind me what a mistake I am and what a bad person I am. Don’t you? And you wonder why the hell I don’t spend any time here anymore? Let me tell you something, I am not going to let you screw up my relationship with Storm the way you did with Ashley. I won’t let you."

"He’ll dump you as soon as he learns the truth anyway. Maybe he can still be saved."

"I don’t need this shit. I’m going over to the house of the poor guy that can still be saved, Mother. I get more love there than in my own house. Now that’s modern. Bye, Mother."

"If you don’t come back tonight, Lucas. I’m going over to have a talk to June tomorrow."

Lucas stopped and turned back to face his mother with a distended scowl on his face. "And say what?"



* * * * * * *


"Excellent, Dade." Sarah said taking Dade’s hand as he helped her to her feet. "Maybe you should try using a bit more leverage in the after flow. No doubt about it though, you’re deadly."

"Thanks, Sarah." Dade replied, taking a few deep breaths. "Maybe I’m just having a good day."

"I doubt it." Sarah said putting her arm around Dade’s shoulder as they both turned to see Sensei Takada signaling he was about to speak. Everyone else in the class also stopped sparring and turned to face the teacher.

"Class, please be seated around the main sparring area. We will be having a special exhibition sparring match, which will involve a points system. For those newer members who have not yet observed one of these matches, this is how the system works. For every punch that is thrown that lands and makes contact from the shoulders to the stomach there is one point awarded. For every kick that lands in the target area the student is awarded two points. The first person to five will win the match. Our three corner judges will be, Sarah Leo, Brighton Matthews and Dayton Ridge. Our two competitors, Marty Lee Miller and Storm Marcus."

"Whoa." I said, taken by surprise.

"You’re up, Bro!" Dade said patting me on the back.

"I better go grab my flag and take my place." Sarah said getting up to take her place as corner judge.

I was just about to head up when I turned to look at Dade and tried to inspect the look on his face while his eyes were focused elsewhere. Tried to see if there was any reason for me to be concerned about my bro. I tried to find something but I couldn’t see it, he seemed fine to me. A content slight smile on his face allaying any fears I may have had. He suddenly turned to look at me and noticed me staring at him and gave me a funny look.

"What?" Dade asked with a weirded out smile on his face.

"Dade…is everything ok?"

"What do you mean?"

"Is anything bothering you that you want to talk to me about? Because you know I’m here for you whenever, right? Anything at all, you just have to ask. You know that right?"

"I’m fine, Bro." Dade said smiling back at me. "Now get up there and show him who the man is."

"Ok." I said rising to my feet.

"Hey, Bro."



"Anytime." I said slapping Dade’s hand and gripping it before I proceeded towards the mat.

I looked around at all the corner judges and everyone who sat waiting. I had to close my eyes and take a deep breath, trying to focus and calm myself. I gulped nervously and took another deep breath as Sensei summoned both Marty Lee and I to him. We both bow to our teacher and then to each other, neither of us taking our eyes off the other. The class came to an anticipative silence.

Marty Lee and I both set up in our fighting stances, both similar yet with our own variants. I guard my body well with my left arm protecting my mid section, knowing this is a prime target for such an exhibition. Marty Lee guards his head and upper body with his right arm, which is about a foot from his face. His guard is sound except he doesn’t have his left hand guarding his stomach as much. We both knew what the other could do, but in this format waiting around is going to get you nowhere fast as your opponent is going to swarm all over you.

As we touch hands, Marty Lee is the first to execute a 360 side kick right off the bat. I’ve never faced someone with this much skill or determination, not even at the annual karate tournaments I’ve participated in. He follows up with a crescent kick, round kick which just misses its target. I can tell Marty Lee is amazed at my defensive skills, knowing a normal competitor would have just surrendered two points easily to that kick combination.

Before Marty plants another kick, I pivot my left foot as I deliver a reverse side kick, back round kick. As Marty and I begin circling each other, I sweep the foot of Marty Lee, getting one back for my bro, Dade. Although my attempt didn’t take Marty Lee off his feet like he had done to Dade, it allowed me to sharply execute a quick front kick that sneaks between his block.

"Break!" called Dayton as he raised his flag.

I looked around me to see three of the four judge’s flags raised signaling my hit was valid and I’d just scored two points. My jubilation was fleeting as Marty Lee and I once again touched hands. I can now see a very determined and aggressive look in Marty Lee’s eyes. Time to end this match quickly I think. A good kick and a punch will get the job done and make me look good at the same time in front of the class.

As we continue, Marty Lee is much more aggressive this time around and he knows he can’t surrender another point. He lets loose an unbelieveable combination, first throwing a three punch juggle which rattled me, throwing me off guard. He follows it up with a wheel kick, jump spin wheel kick that flew past me so fast it almost brushed the sweat off my face. Adrenaline rushed through me as I countered with a double side kick of my own which backs Marty Lee up against the back of the wall. This move unwittingly sets Marty Lee up to launch a running jump side kick, which he does with hair raising accuracy. I try to defend against it but I feel Marty Lee’s foot hit my upper chest and instantly know I’ve handed him a point.

"Break!" Sarah calls, raising her flag.

Well at least she’s impartial. While I see that two judges did not see the point, the two facing the action did. Thus awarding Marty Lee two points to tie the match 2-all.

We touch again, now knowing this match could go the distance. We got at it again and I instantly take the offensive again, throwing as many solid blows as I can to the mid section of Marty Lee. While no points are scored, I know my aggressive behavior is starting to turn the match in my direction. I manage to sneak in a clean jab followed by a tornado kick, barely missing my target. I spin, preparing to unleash a kick combination as Marty Lee sends a side kick to my ribs like a missile. My heart nearly jumps in surprise as rush to defend myself, just managing to get my hand in there to block it. However, I still feel the full force of the blow from his kick and can’t help but bend forward from the sharp, shooting pain. While this is happening, Marty Lee delivers a round kick meant for my ribs again but as I am bent over my face is left exposed and I try to close my eyes as my jaw is met with a vicious kick sending me straight to the ground.

For an instant I blank out but manage to quickly bring myself to. My head still ringing from the thundering kick. I pull myself to my feet and can feel that my lip is bleeding from the blow. I stagger slightly, my eyes locked on Marty Lee in a menacing glare.

"Break! This match is awarded to Storm as head contact of any kind is a result in disqualification, intentional or not." Sensei says raising my hand. "Class dismissed."

I’m overcome by a look of embarrassment, knowing I put myself in a position to allow this to happen. As Marty Lee and I stare each other down, both breathing heavily, I try to calm myself and walk away. As the rest of the class dissipates, neither Marty Lee or I move an inch. I hated to win by technicality and I could tell he sure hated to lose by it in his first match.

"Maybe you should work on that foot of yours."

"Unintentional, I assure you. Maybe you should defend yourself better. Ask me nicely and I’ll give you a rematch."

"Ask me nicely and I’ll give you one." I said walking right up to Marty Lee and getting into his face. "I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and believe that was unintentional. Let’s just get one thing clear. I know your type. We don’t play that way here. We play clean, we play fair. If you want to fuck with those rules, you do it elsewhere. Am I understood?"

"Perfectly." Marty Lee said smiling smugly. "I made you look bad. Now you’re angry."

"Bite me. I already don’t like you." I said turning to walk away. "That means you’re fucked."

"Oh, Storm…how’d you like kissing my feet? Get used to it. Your throne looks quite comfy."

"Whatever." I said walking away, trying to calm and diffuse myself.

I’d fought many of Marty Lee’s types in tournaments and exhibition matches before and they were all the same. They all wanted the glory, loved the power. It wasn’t about the sport to them. I should’ve guessed he wanted my spot. But I’ve got more important things to think about. Like getting showered and going home to see my baby. Ahh there we go. Just think Lucas, everything seems all that better.

I headed to the showers and was surprised to see that almost everyone had cleared out already. I stripped off and began rinsing myself off, letting the warm water soothe me. I made quick work of the shower, soaping up, rinsing and drying off. I just wanted to get home and plus I knew Dade and Sarah would be waiting outside for me to drive everyone home.

As I stood in the changing rooms pulling my socks and pants up, I grabbed my t-shirt and was about to slip it on when I felt someone step up behind me and I could tell instantly by the familiar scent that it was Marty Lee. Without warning he moved his lips next to my ear before he whispered…

"I know…"


* * * * * * *

Ok guys I hope you liked the opener for Season 3.  It was a long time coming I know.  I'd just like to thank everyone who helped me push this chapter out.  This is the first chapter for me since December 1999 so I was very nervous when I wrote it.  But eventually it came out.  And you just read it.  Chapter 17 won't be a three month wait though.   Keep your finger on the zone.  And with that being said, welcome back to Storm Front...

Stay Tuned for Chapter 17: Testing Faith' and send me a note to let me know what you thought of Chapter 16: Nemesis Rising.  Or add your comments to the SN Board

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