By SF Writer
Copyright 2003  Stormnation, All rights reserved.

Chapter 17: Testing Faith

* * * * * * *

I think I have a problem. Not a bad problem. Just a problem. You see I can’t seem to help myself watching Lucas sleep. He always seems so peaceful…so beautiful. And it’s at that time I seem to be able to fully absorb and appreciate the fact that he belongs to me. I don’t own him or anything but well you know what I mean. You’d think I’d have gotten sick of it by now or at least have had enough of a regular fix to stop my urge to want to look at him. But no go. I’d been up for a couple of hours, already been out for a run and had a shower and now I lay here all changed and ready for school. Just watching my baby sleep. Brushing my fingers across his cheek, through his hair, anywhere I could. But as with all other good things, they eventually come to an end. And the bringer of doom? Mr. Time.

"Babe, wake up." I said giving Lucas a good morning kiss before I jumped off the bed. "Come on ya great big stud. It’s almost seven."

Lucas yawned and rubbed his eyes, trying to get a good look at me as I stood next to the bed. "How long have you been up?"

"A while. Mike and I just got back from a run and had a shower. I’m gonna get changed and head down for some breakfast."

"Oh man, how come you didn’t wake me up? I would’ve come with you."

"You looked too peaceful to disturb. But last night you seemed kinda restless. You tossed and turned a lot. Everything ok, Babe? Something on your mind?"

"A lot, actually." Lucas sighed with a strangely serious demeanor. "A lot."

"Sounds serious."

"Breakfast!" Mom yelled from downstairs.

"Coming!" I yelled back at the same time as Dade and Mike joined in the yell from their rooms.

"I’m not real hungry, Dude. I think I’ll just have a shower." Lucas said brushing his hair out of his eyes as he sat up.

"Is there something you wanna talk about, Babe?"

"It can wait. Go have your breakfast, Dude. I’m gonna jump in the shower."

As Lucas stood up to go to the shower I put my hands on his shoulders and looked him in the eye. "Are you sure everything’s ok?"

Lucas just nodded and gave me a lingering angel kiss. "I love you."

"I love you too." I said raising my eyebrow puzzled as Lucas disappeared into the bathroom.lingering angel kiss. "I love you too."

Lucas was never good at hiding when something was on his mind. And I have to say that nobody else in the world can read Lucas like I can. Something was up. Something was definitely up. I wondered if it had anything to do with what Marty Lee said to me last night in the shower rooms. What a weirdo.

One thing’s for sure. I have a strong feeling today is going to be in the very least interesting. And for me that’s not usually a good thing. Still, one can hope right?


* * * * * * *


June walked in through her front door and ran in through to the kitchen, jogging on the spot as she opened her fridge and pulled out a mineral water. On the rare occasions when June had a day off, she always worked up a sweat with a run and a light workout to keep in shape. Although she used to play Basketball avidly and extremely well, even to the point of herself becoming a coach, she now had very little spare time to devote to it. Sarah would on numerous occasions credit June with the level of her ability having been introduced and taught the game at a young age by June. June taught Sarah’s junior high team until her work duties prohibited her continuation. She still however enjoyed keeping fit and playing whenever the opportunity arose.

Just as June closed the fridge, the phone rang and she picked it up and held it to her ear. "Hello?"

"Oh hello, Mira."

"Yes I’m fine thank you."

"You would? What time?"

"That sounds fine. It’s my day off today so that will be fine."

"Ok, I’ll see you then."

"Buh bye."

As June hung up the phone she wondered how serious this could be. She very rarely if ever spoke to Mira Sheridan and by the tone of her voice June sensed there was some semblance of importance to what reason Mira was coming over for. She’d just have to wait for her to arrive to find out.


 * * * * * * *


Bad vibes. Bad Karma. Whatever you call it. That’s what I felt. It was one of those days where you knew you just weren’t going to have a good day. I don’t know whether it was my encounter with Marty Lee last night or Lucas’ strange detachment this morning that had me in this mood. Even Dade seemed to be out of sorts this morning. Sure he said he was fine, but I know he wasn’t. I’d have to check up on that one tonight for sure.

I pulled my books out of my locker for my next class, dreading it because it was the one class that none of my favorite buds were in with me. I headed down the hallway and outside into the courtyard, this being the shortest way to my next class. As I came around the back of the courtyard where the smokers usually hid out I was startled to see Marty Lee and Lucas once again in conversation. Only this time it appeared that Marty Lee was getting rather heated with Lucas.

I hid behind one of the surrounding hedges, wondering whether I should interrupt them, carry on my way or eavesdrop. Although the curious side of me wanted to listen in on the conversation to finally find out what the hell the deal was between Lucas and Marty Lee, I just wouldn’t feel right doing it. I was just about to carry on my way when out of the corner of my eye I saw Marty Lee grab Lucas and shove him against the wall. Bad move.

I walked swiftly up beside Marty Lee and just as he realized I was there, I threw a crescent kick at his face and sent him reeling to the ground. My kick so sharp and precise it hit in the exact same spot he hit me yesterday. I looked over Lucas to see if he was ok and then looked down at Marty Lee.

"I could get you dismissed from the dojo and lose your rank for that." Marty Lee said wiping his lip. "Don’t you know what self defense is?"

"That WAS self defense. And yeah you could get me dismissed. But you won’t. Unless of course that’s the only way you can get to the top."

"You wish." Marty Lee said rising to his feet.

"I want to know what’s going on here."

"Ask him. Ask him what’s going on here." Marty Lee said pointing to Lucas.

"What’s he talking about, Lucas?"

"I…I…" Lucas began saying just as the bell rang which meant I was now late for class. "I gotta go to class."

"What the hell? LUCAS!" I yelled in surprise as Lucas high tailed it out of there leaving me flabbergasted. "What’d you do to him?"

"Now look you listen to me, Storm." Marty Lee said with a surprising amount of passion. "You don’t know anything about him. You don’t. He can’t be trusted. You have to believe me. You have no idea what kind of hurt he’s caused people."

"Why can’t he be trusted? And what do you know?"

"I’m only telling you this because I believe you are a trustworthy person. Otherwise you wouldn’t be so high up on Takada’s respect list. Second day and I’m already skipping class. Have a seat, Storm. We’ll be here awhile…"


* * * * * * *


"Hello, Mira." June said greeting Lucas’ mother with a smile as she entered. "Nice to see you."

"Nice to see you too, June. I wish I were here under more pleasant circumstances."

"I’ll get the tea. Please have a seat. Do you prefer tea or coffee? Or something else?"

"Tea will be fine thank you." Mira replied smiling at June.

June prepared both of their cups of tea while Mira sat down at their dining room table. She knew that whatever Mira had to talk about was important and most likely had something to do with Storm and Lucas. She had no idea what exactly she wanted to talk about but she would know soon enough.

"So…how can I help you?" June said in almost dread as she served Mira with her tea and sat down opposite her.

"There’s no easy way to say this. I want to apologize for my son’s influence on your son."

"Influence?" June asked surprised.

"Did your son prior to meeting Lucas express any kind of attraction towards his own sex?"

"Well…no. He broke up with Sarah not long before you moved here. I always thought they’d get back together or that he’d meet another girl. He’s always been a popular boy with lots of friends. He and Sarah were sweethearts as long as they knew each other. I had no reason to believe he was interested in his own sex."

"I’ve spoken with and been around your son a great deal. I must say he is a wonderful young man. You’ve done a wonderful job of raising him. We have an extremely pleasant relationship. Even more so than I have with Lucas. I would hate to see your son’s future jeopardized by my son’s influence on him. You said yourself he showed no interest in the same sex until he met Lucas."

"You know…I really can’t say whether or not your son had any influence over my son. Maybe he was simply the catalyst for something that was already there. However, I do know that my son is mature enough and intelligent enough to be able to judge for himself whether or not this is what he wants. And after knowing your son for almost a year I can say pretty certainly that he is nothing but a good influence on my son. He treats him well. He loves him. I may have had my reservations about the situation when it first arose, however time and circumstance have given me the greater insight to recognize that they have something true. And they should not be limited by our predilections or preconceptions on the way the world should turn. As their mothers and intelligent individuals we should understand that."

"So you actually endorse their relationship?" Mira asked with an unbelieving look on her face.

"I accept it. And yes I support it."

"I’m worried about your son. The amount of time Lucas spends here with him isn’t right for such a young age. Lucas is 17 now; he’s almost a man. Storm only turned 16 but a few months ago. I’m worried Lucas is smothering your son. I don’t want Lucas to hinder Storm’s growth as an individual. Storm has such potential."

"Lucas has just as much potential."

"No he doesn’t. He…"

"What do you mean he has no potential?" June asked heatedly, taking offense to Mira’s last statement. "He has incredible potential. How can you say he doesn’t? You’re his mother."

"Don’t you find the age difference odd between Storm and Lucas?"

"Well…yes." June said suddenly clicking and surprised she never realized what Mira implied earlier.

"He failed a year before we moved here. He’s repeating. All this time and you never knew. I doubt Storm even knew."

"So what." June said taking a deep breath. "That’s still no reason to condemn and to not support him."

"There’s more."

"I don’t want to hear it. I can’t believe you came here to drag your son’s reputation through the mud. You clearly came here to lower my thinking of him so I would intervene and split he and Storm up, didn’t you?"

"It’s for your own son’s good! Don’t you worry about how much time they spend together? How often Lucas is over here with your son? He’s smothering your son. Now tell me, did Storm sleep with Sarah?"

"That’s not any of your business."

"Well I’m pretty certain my son took your son’s virginity. He has a habit of doing that to people. Do you like the fact your son is just another notch on Lucas’ belt?"

"My Son isn’t a notch on anyone’s belt! I refuse to believe that Lucas would use my son in that way. And nothing you say will make me think otherwise so save it, Mira. I can’t even believe I’m engaged in this conversation. Unless you have one serious point to raise that affects my son, I’m going to have to ask that we end this discussion right now."

"I would like to tell you something important that I think is important to your son. Once I’ve said my piece I’ll let you decide for yourself whether you think you need to do something about their relationship. I think what I’m about to tell you is something you should know."

"Ok, Mira." June said firmly, her patience wearing thin. "Go ahead. I’m listening. But you make it real quick."

"I used to be like you. Used to live in a nice neighborhood. Had a lot of good friends. We were well respected. I love my children, June no matter how this sounds. My husband and I worked hard to build a life for our family there. To provide them with everything they needed to thrive. And all that went to hell when our Lucas started skipping school so he could sleep around with his girlfriend. I believe he really did love her. The girl’s name was Ashley Miller. They were a pair of lovebirds those two. Oh how she doted after Lucas and he seemed to adore her, even obsess over her just as much."

"I was under the impression Storm was his first love." June said interrupting Mira’s train of speech.

"That doesn’t surprise me. It’s as if he’s completely put Ashley behind him without a second thought. But he was the same way around her that he is around Storm."

"If he did love her. That isn’t a crime. But the fact he lied to my son about it is. Storm won’t be very happy about this."

"It’s my fault. I should have told Storm. I didn’t realize Storm was under the impression he was Lucas first love."

"I’m pretty sure Storm told me word for word that Lucas said he was his first love when he gave him that necklace my son is glued to."

"Then I apologize for my son’s actions. I am truly sorry."

"I have a feeling there’s more to this isn’t there."

"There is. Now the Miller’s didn’t take kindly to finding Lucas and Ashley having sex in Mr. Miller’s house. The two were banned from seeing each other and they never let Lucas near her again. The Miller’s are a very wealthy, public family so when she was discovered to be 2 months pregnant, Ashley was forced to have an abortion and sent away to a boarding school as punishment for her disgrace. She was a good girl with such a bright future. Ruined by my son. Lucas seemed like he loved her but as soon as she was gone it was like he didn’t care. But the damage had been done to that poor girls life. She will never be the same because of my son. He loves them, he leaves them. Once the community found out about what Lucas had done we were scorned upon for our son’s actions. And that made things very difficult. We moved away not long after Ashley was sent away. I still can’t believe what that girl had to suffer. What she went through." Mira said with tears streaming out of her eyes. "I don’t want to see anything like that happen to your son. I don’t know how he’ll do it but mark my words one day he will hurt your son."

June by now was already showing signs of obvious stress and strain. She was having trouble dealing with all the information being thrown upon her right now. She couldn’t believe what she’d learnt about Lucas but even more she was afraid of how her son would feel once he too learnt the truth about Lucas.

"He ruins other peoples lives. He ruined Ashley’s life, he ruined ours and he’ll ruin your sons. He doesn’t care about the circumstances as long as HE feels good. Your son doesn’t deserve to be used by him." Mira said with her deep embedded anger surfacing. "I love my son. I really do. But he’s not mature enough to understand the consequences of his actions. He doesn’t realize what he’s doing to people. Lucas won’t listen to me. But Storm will listen to you."

"So Lucas had a girlfriend before. So he got her pregnant. You know my husband and I lived that very same situation. That’s still not enough reason to break them up. I know Lucas wouldn’t willingly hurt that girl. He’s not that sort of person. I trust my own judgment, and my judgment supports Lucas. If anything I understand a lot more about both of you than I did before."

"Such as?"

"You’re angry because your reputations were shamed by Lucas’ actions and that’s why you moved. I imagine you personally held a lot of standing in the community and enjoyed your life there. And you weren’t happy when you lost it, were you?"

"You’re right. I was not happy. The Miller’s are influential people. It wasn’t long till I was off the board of trustees. Shunned in my own community organizations, the ones I helped to build."

"A victim of gossip and slander. Doesn’t sound like a very nice town."

"Actually. You’re right about that too. But it was my town. And it was all I knew. Here, we have to start from scratch. We shouldn’t have to."

"I’m sorry but you still haven’t given me anything to validate breaking them up."

"He will hurt your son."

"Every relationship runs that risk. I should know. There are no guarantees in life."

"Well all I can do is provide you with the information. It’s up to you to act on it."

"I appreciate you coming over. But I need some time to think."

"Please call me if you need anything. I am sorry if I have upset you in any way. I just don’t want to see your son hurt the way Ashley was."

"Thank you."

Mira got up to leave and June ushered her to the door. "Thank you for seeing me."

"Thank you for coming over. I’ll call you if I need anything."

"Ok. Bye bye."

"Bye." June said half heartedly as she closed the door.

June went back into the kitchen and sat down on one of the barstools at the bench, holding her head in her hands as she sighed miserably. She knew how much her son felt for Lucas and for him to learn this information would hurt him more than she wanted to imagine. Little did she know he was already learning what she now knew…and then some.


* * * * * * *


Lucas sat in class, unable to concentrate on what the teacher was saying in the front of the class. His hands were shaking, his breath was short. He tried to brush his hand through his hair to calm his nerves but his anxiety levels were so high he couldn’t help it. His palms were sweaty and his insides were knotted and contracted.

"Lucas, are you ok?" Ms. Connors asked as she walked up to Lucas.

Lucas just nodded his head not wanting to draw attention to himself. Ms. Connors rubbed Lucas back and could feel him shaking and he looked as if he were about to either pass out or burst into tears. "I don’t think you are. You better head up to the nurses office. Josh, will you escort Lucas to sick bay?"

"Yes, Ms." Josh replied instantly helping Lucas to his feet.

Josh put one arm on Lucas shoulder and the other on his waist as they headed out of class and up towards the nurses office. He could feel Lucas shaking and the tension that seemed to be emanating from him.

"You don’t have to do this, Josh. You can go back now." Lucas said, his voice trembling.

"Ms. Connors asked me to. So I’m doing it."

"I’m sorry. I’m really sorry. For everything. I’m so sorry." Lucas said feeling as if he knew his world was about to fall apart and these were his final rites.

"Ssshh. Don’t worry about that now. Let’s just concentrate on getting you well." Josh said managing a small smile in an attempt to allay Lucas of any further anxieties.

"I need to get out of here, Josh. I need to go home, I mean back to Storm’s. I’m not sick."

"You sure look like it."

"I just…it was a panic attack. I’ve got a lot of things on my mind and they just, I can’t think straight. I need to get out of here, Josh. Please, help me. Please."

Josh tried not to look at Lucas’ eyes because he knew he’d buckle and give in to Lucas if he did. But in the end Josh couldn’t help himself and he gave in, after all Lucas was in a bad state and Josh would help any person in a similar situation. "What do you want me to do?"

"Don’t take me to the nurses office. Let me go now."

"What about class?"

"I don’t care. I just need to get out of here."

"Ok go now. I’ll talk to the nurse."

"And say what?"

"Don’t worry. I’ll take care of it. Now get outta here." Josh said walking away before Lucas could say anything else to him.

Lucas didn’t waste any time and made a quick exit of the school. He was still nervous as hell and shaking but he had to get to June before his mother did. He took all the risky shortcuts, cutting through peoples backyards, jumping over fences. Finally he made it to Storm’s street and nervously made his way up the front path and opened the door.

"Hello?" Lucas called as he walked in.

"Hello, Lucas." June said flatly as she walked downstairs towards Lucas.

June walked straight past Lucas and slammed the door behind him before she turned to face him. She didn’t realize that the force of her door slam had knocked over a clay ornament that sat on a corner wall rack. The heavy object fell and landed right on June’s foot before she leaned down in agony. Lucas put his hands on June’s sides to help her up but she shrugged him off forcefully. "Just, back off."

"I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I just wanted to…"

"Why are you here, Lucas?"

Lucas knew then that his mother had visited and now June no longer trusted him. The flat hello, the slammed door, the refusal of help and now this. June had never once asked Lucas why he was there before. Lucas had always felt welcome, now for the first time he didn’t. And he knew why.

"I wasn’t feeling well and…"

"You don’t look it either." June said letting her maternal instincts override her caution by putting her hand on Lucas shoulder and feeling him shaking. "Why don’t you lie down on the couch. I have something that’ll fix you right up. Calm those nerves."

Lucas lay down nervously and awaited June’s return, his heart racing and insides turning. Soon June returned with a tablespoon and a bottle in her hand as well as a damp cloth. She gingerly patted the damp cloth over Lucas face and then put it on his forehead. She then took the teaspoon and filled it with the syrup from the bottle before she gently lowered the spoon to Lucas lips as he drained the liquid. She repeated this one more time before she capped the bottle. Inside June cursed herself for giving in to the fact that she cared for Lucas so easily instead of keeping up her defensive mother position. She just couldn’t bring herself to feel any kind of resentment or animosity towards Lucas.

"Oh man. That worked awesomely." Lucas said managing a smile. "Can’t I just have the whole bottle?"

"I want to calm your nerves not put you to sleep. Now we both know why you’re so anxious. So let’s just skip the shit. Your mother said a lot of things."

Lucas turned on his side away from June and held himself. "I’m going to lose him." Lucas said finally releasing all the tension he’d pent up all day and letting the tears fall freely.

"I think he’ll be hurt that you never told him there was someone you used to love before him. Isn’t that right, Lucas? And you still love her."

"But I was never going to see her again so it didn’t matter. They kept her away from me. I didn’t mean for this to happen. I love Storm. I’m so sorry. I’ve hurt so many people. My Mom’s right…" Lucas said turning away from June again and attempting to hide his face and tears with his hands. "I’m a bad person."

"Now now, that’s enough of that." June said leaking a few tears of her own at seeing the pain Lucas was in. June sat down next to Lucas and she let his head rest on her lap, stroking his face and hair gently as if he were her own son. "You are not a bad person. Don’t ever let me hear you say that. You know over the last year I’ve come to be quite fond of you, young man. I think you know how much I love you. It hurt me to hear some of the things your mother said this morning. You’d probably be surprised which things hurt me though. No matter what happens, Lucas. I know that you have a good heart. I know that. Storm knows that. I know sometimes he’s irrational and haphazard but you’ll be surprised when he turns into Mr. Understanding. Talk to him. That’s what you have to do if you want to hold onto him."

"I know. I’ll talk to him. I promise."

"That’s good." June smiled, stroking her fingers through Lucas hair. "Don’t worry, Lucas. Things will work out. Just try and relax for now."

"Do you think you could tell me what Storm was like when he was younger? I know I’ve heard it all before. But I want to hear it again. Please?"

"Ok, Lucas." June said smiling as she held Lucas, happy that she’d not taken the offensive on Lucas. "Well where on earth do I begin…"


* * * * * * *


As I turned off the ignition and jumped out of the wrangler, I dreaded what would come next. I slowly made my way through the front door and looked to see if anyone else was home. Didn’t seem like anyone was downstairs, Mom must have gone out. I headed upstairs and stood in front of the door as I took a long deep breath. I was pretty sure Lucas was behind the door and that meant he and I were about to have one serious conversation. Finally I slipped my hand around the knob and slowly opened the door.



Lucas sat on my bed as if he’d been waiting for me forever to enter that door. Usually I would sit right down next to Lucas and kiss him hello but right now it just felt inappropriate. I sat down at my desk and took another deep breath. I think Lucas knew that Marty Lee had already given about all the information I could handle in one day. "I think we need to talk."

Lucas just nodded his head in agreement, not wanting to speak in case he broke down for what obviously looked like it wouldn’t be the first time today. Lucas couldn’t even look at me; he kept turning away not wanting me to see his face. Whether it was for fear of me seeing the distress and strain on his face or whether he just couldn’t look me in the eye.

It hurt me to see Lucas in any kind of distress, whether we were together or not. Anytime I see Lucas in pain just crushes my soul and to see the state he was in now, words couldn’t describe it. I rushed to Lucas side and sat down next to him, clasping his hands and kissing his cheek reassuringly. "Don’t be afraid of hurting me. Or of losing me. Just talk to me. I’m not going anywhere."

"The last thing I want to do is hurt you. That’s the last thing I want to do. That’s why I didn’t want to tell you."

"Lucas, the bottom line is…" I said once again taking another deep breath as a single tear managed to slip through my guard. "You don’t owe me any explanations. Anything before you and I is your business. That’s why I don’t ask questions about your past. Don’t feel bad about anything that happened."

"I’m sorry. I lied to you."

"I know. That’s the one thing that did hurt me. You could’ve just told me you loved someone before you met me. I mean…so I don’t feel special now. So what. At least I would’ve known the truth."

"You are special." Lucas said, this time making sure I was looking in his watery eyes. "You are! This is so bad. Storm don’t fe…"

"I want to know about the necklace. It wasn’t really meant for me was it?"


"Please, Lucas."

"If Ashley and I were still together yes she’d probably be wearing it. But we’re not."

"Well that’s…nice. I don’t care about anything else that Marty Lee said. That’s your business. But I did care that I am not your first love and that I’m probably wearing someone else’s necklace. And that you lied to me."

"Storm…you know how you feel about Sarah? Or how you felt about her. And you compare that to how you feel about me. Do you understand now how I feel?"

"I guess. I just…I’ve gotten so used to feeling secure with you. It took me so long to give in to us. But that’s not important right now. I want you to tell me what happened exactly towards the end. Please."

"Ashley and I had been going out for a while. We cared about each other a lot. She was the first girl that I made love to. It wasn’t sex. I was infatuated with her. I couldn’t get enough. And that was our downfall. We got caught together by her parents and that was it. They threw me out and told me to stay away. They found out she was two months pregnant and she had to have an abortion. You don’t know what her parents were like. They sent her away to boarding school before I could talk to her. Nobody would tell me where she’d been sent. I called every boarding school I could find but it was no good. I went so crazy after they took her away. I feel so bad for what she went through. She got sent away from her friends, her school, her home because of me."

I quietly slipped my hand from Lucas and edged away. I felt like I’d already lost him. In fact I’d almost already resigned myself to the fact. I was simply numb inside. "I think there’s something you need to do. Something you already want to do."

"I’d completely put it behind me, Storm. But when I saw Marty Lee it all came back and I knew he’d know where she was."

"But he wouldn’t tell you would he."

"He blames me for getting her sent away. He blames me for a lot of things. And he’s right."

"He told me where she is."


"He told me where she is."

"How!? Where is she, Storm!" Lucas demanded. "Tell me please!"

"I had to make a little deal with Marty Lee. Had to give him something. Anyway…" I said pausing to contemplate the logic of what I was doing, definitely not working for my own benefit. "She’s living in Hamilton Bay with relatives. Seems they rescued her from having to stay at a boarding school she didn’t like."

"Oh my god. I found her. I can’t believe this. What did you have to give him?"

"Uuuhh. A rematch. Tomorrow at the park at Lake Herren. This time no rules. Apparently he’s still pissed at you but he wants to vent it at me. He wants to show he’s better than me as well. That’s the only way he’d give me her whereabouts."

"The hell that’s gonna happen!" Lucas said shooting to his feet. "If anyone has to be there tomorrow it’s going to be me. Like hell I’m letting you get hurt for this."

"Hey we’re about the same level. I have higher rank than him."

"Then why do you look scared? You’ve had enough fighting, Storm. NO MORE! Karate’s one thing. But I WILL NOT let you fight tomorrow. No. No. No. That’s it. You’re not fighting. Damn you for doing this for me. Damn you, Storm. You know I hate the thought of you getting into fights. You’re not a fighter anymore ok. You have to stop. You know he can hurt you. This is a street fight for crying out loud. You won’t have any padding to protect you. You can’t take the risk. I don’t care how good you are. You’re not fighting! I won’t let you. I’ll make sure you don’t turn up to that fight tomorrow."

"You won’t be around to stop it." I said throwing my keys to Lucas. "You’ll be far away from here."

"You got me the address. Now your jeep to get there. Why are you doing all this?"

"Because until you finish this, you’ll never move on and I won’t feel secure. You have to sort things out one way or the other. I already know you wanted to go find her, Marty Lee told me. This is something you want to do. And I want to help you. Anyway I can. You didn’t have the address. I was able to get it. So I got it. You don’t have any way to get there. I do. So I’m giving it to you."

"You don’t have to do this, Storm." Lucas said becoming clearly emotional. "You shouldn’t have to."

"Yeah, I do. And it’s all done so that’s all there is to it. Well I’ll leave you to collect your thoughts and whatever else you need that’s here. Clothes, whatever. Take whatever you need. The tank is full. There’s a gas card in the center compartment. Just whatever you need, take it. I’ll be downstairs if you need anything." I said opening the door to leave.

Lucas shot past me and slammed the door shut. "Wait!"

"What’s wrong?" I asked devoid of any emotion or enthusiasm.

"This whole situation is wrong. I didn’t mean to hurt you and now you’re already hurt. You’re already pulling away and putting up that wall I tried so hard to break down. And you’ve put yourself in harm’s way so I can find someone I used to care a great deal about."

"We both know there’s more to it than that. You loved her first. She’s the one that will always be special to you. Not me. Now who’s to say if you weren’t forced apart that you still wouldn’t be together. I know you want to go and apologize to her and for a lot of other reasons. I know the biggest reason you’re going for though. We both know. And that’s why I have to step aside and just let you do what you have to do."

"I never wanted to hurt you, Storm. I swear it." Lucas said not bothering to hide his tears anymore. "I never wanted to. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry."

"I know. I know. It took me a while to put things in perspective. Let’s say I were in Ashley’s shoes where she is and she was here where I am. I’d want to see you again too. And if I were you, I’d want to find her. At least for closure. I understand. Like I said before, I’ll be downstairs if you need anything."


* * * * * * *


I pulled the last of my gear out of the jeep as Lucas put in his bag of gear. We weren’t saying much. I’d written down the exact address of where Ashley was and even threw in a map for Lucas to get there the quickest. At the earliest he’d be back in a few days. Somehow I wasn’t holding my breath. I didn’t really care about the jeep because I knew Lucas would bring it back to me eventually no matter what happened. It still hadn’t completely sunk in what I was doing. I still couldn’t believe what I was doing. I was practically handing Lucas over to this girl. But I knew he had to go. I know Lucas, I know how he works, how he thinks, how he feels. And I can understand where he’s coming from. At the least he has to apologize and finally close that chapter of his life. And then again he could very well pick up where he left off. I just didn’t know. And I don’t think Lucas did either.

I was suddenly distracted by the sound of Lucas crying softly. I walked up behind him and rubbed his back comfortingly, hoping to relieve the distress he was in. All my gear was out, all his gear was in and he knew it was time to leave. I think that’s what set him off. The reality of the situation starting to sink into him. He held the keys shakily in his hand and stood motionless, unable to make the move into the jeep.

"I think it’s time." I said finally. "Don’t worry, Lucas. Everything will work out the way it’s supposed to."

"I am so sorry." Lucas said turning to face me.

"Don’t be." I said shaking my head with a small smile. "Thank you."

"What for?"

"For us. For me. Thank you."

"Storm…" Lucas whimpered through his tears. "I don’t know what to say."

"Lucas, I don’t need to tell you how much you mean to me. You already know. But I want you to remember something. Whatever happens, I want you to do whatever’s right for you. For you, Lucas. Not for me or anyone else. Your heart will take you where it is supposed to be. Here, take this." I said taking off the single most important inanimate object to me; the necklace Lucas had given me in the treehouse so long ago.

"What?" Lucas said his face streaming with tears as he choked back some sudden sobs at seeing me take off the necklace. "No it’s yours, Storm. I don’t want it."

I put the necklace in his hand and clasped my hands around his. "You know the deal. This belongs to the keeper of that big heart of yours. If it belongs to me, then you bring it back to me. If not…then give it to the person it belongs to. Either way, I’ll still love you. And I’ll still be here."

I raised my hands to Lucas face and gently, tentatively, longingly wiped his tears away as if it were the last time I’d ever be able to do it. I was essentially setting Lucas free. If he came back, it would be because it was right for him. Everything that happened from now on was up to him. I also wanted to make sure that everything he did was right for him, even if that meant things wouldn’t work out for me. That’s what real love is, isn’t it?

"I owe you so much." Lucas said as he held my hands to his face and kissed each of them tenderly. His hands shaking and tears still streaming. I wanted to kiss him then, to hold him or do something but I couldn’t. It was time for me to walk away and let him go.

"Remember what I said." I said trying to stifle a smile but not having much luck. "Bye bye, Strawberry guy."

I took a few steps back away from Lucas and hoped he would just get in the car and hurry up and leave because I wasn’t going to be able to keep up this strong front for very much longer. Fortunately Lucas looked like he wanted to hurry up and leave too before he broke down any more, he was definitely in worse shape than I was. As he turned the ignition on, I turned away and began walking towards the front door. I turned back and gave a small wave with my hand as Lucas pulled out of the driveway, his eyes apologizing to me as he did. Out in the middle of the street he gave me one last look…

And then he was gone.

My eyes remained fixed on the last place I saw Lucas. I took a deep breath and just stood there wondering what the heck I was going to do with myself.

"Well, he’s gone." I said to myself as I sat down on the front step on our pathway.

"He’ll be back." Sarah said sitting down on my right and putting her arm around me.

Dade sat down on the other side of me and put his elbow on my shoulder. "Yeah, Bro. He’ll be back." Dade said wiping some of my own tears away.

"Oh, I know that." I said blankly. "He’s got my car. He has to come back."

"I am so proud of you, Bro." Dade said squeezing me with a giant hug. "That was such a class act. I don’t know if I’d have been able to do that."

"I know I wouldn’t." Sarah smiled.

"What the hell am I gonna do?" I said finally breaking down and letting my own tears flow after being pent up so long to keep a brave face for Lucas. "What the hell am I gonna do?"

"Survive. Whatever happens, we’ll be here. Now I for one have my money on Lucas coming back for you. I know he feels guilty about what happened to that girl, getting her pregnant and sent away and all but I think he loves you more."

"Don’t be so sure. You didn’t love me more, Sarah. How do you know he does? I don’t know whether he loves her more than he loves me. But I wanted to give him the chance to find out without feeling guilty about it. This is just something he has to do. Love sucks. I need an emotionally unfulfilling, superficial relationship based entirely on sex."

"Amen to that." Dade said sighing. "Love is for people like Mike and Sarah whose love lives are so dull and boring that they never get excited enough to cause any drama between the two, therefore ensuring their relationships survival. As for the rest of us…"

"Well thank you for that, little man." Sarah said shoving Dade playfully.

"Do you guys feel like going out to get some Ice cream or something? Maybe go blading?" I said just wanting to get out in the world and get busy as soon as humanly possible. Start trying to rebuild what I had left of life right now.

"Sounds like a trip, Bro."

"Anything for you, Storm."

"Ok, let’s go then. We’ll have to walk though. We’ll go to the ice cream parlor first." I said as I got up and shook myself off. "I think I’ll have the strawberry…"


* * * * * * *


As much as I tried to sway my mind from thinking of Lucas, I couldn’t help myself. Two in the morning and I was still wide awake. Wondering what Lucas was doing now. Where he was. Whether he was with Ashley now and if he was, what they were doing. Not that I really wanted to think about what they were doing as it just made my insides turn. Not very constructive thoughts flowing through my head aye?

I’d almost cried myself a well since Lucas had left. Every time I was alone I seemed to break down. Unable to contain myself. Even now my cheeks were barely dry. Still remembering that day on the bus, the party, the train station, the necklace, the night in the rain and so many more moments. I even thought about how I loved the way Lucas ate, how screwed is that?

The thing I miss most right now is having him next to me at night, just knowing he’s there. Holding me close. Hearing him breathe. That’s what I miss right now. Maybe that’s why I can’t sleep. Oh shit, here we go again. I brought my hands to my face and held them to my eyes as if that action in itself would stop my crying. I had to do something.

I got up out of bed and walked quietly towards my door before I opened it gently, hoping nobody would wake. I tiptoed to Mike’s door and opened it softly. I felt bad for intruding on Mike but I knew this was the only way I’d get to sleep tonight. What a baby. "Mike." I said softly, sounding more like a whimper. "Mike."

Mike slowly opened his eyes and strained his eyes to see me in his drowsy state. He looked at me more intently, giving me a once over. Then he gave me a comforting smile and nodded at me. "Come here, Bro." Mike said holding up the covers for me.

"Thanks, Mike." I smiled as I closed the door.

I slipped in next to Mike and wrapped my arms around his waist, resting my head on his chest as he held me. I gave him a little peck on the neck to thank him before I snuggled in. Mike instinctively held me close as I pulled the covers over us and tried to settle in.

Feeling Mike next to me soon set me off again and I was soon setting free gentle sobs. I felt Mike’s fingers stroke my tears down my cheeks and away from me while his other hand rubbed my back. "Let it out, Bro. I’m not going anywhere."

"I’m sorry."

"It’s ok. It’s ok." Mike said half mumbling in his semi slumbered state. "Don’t worry. I love you, Bro."

"I love you too. Heaps and heaps." I said forging a small smile.

"Everything will work out the way it’s meant to. Trust me. I speak from experience. Now get some rest. And don’t feel me up while I’m sleeping."

I couldn’t help but crack up at that statement. I let out such a loud laugh I almost got scared I woke someone up. I quickly shut up and just lay there laughing to myself. I found that with a smile on my face it was much easier to think happy thoughts and suddenly found myself yawning. I pulled closer to Mike and sighed as I felt the dreamscape’s pull on me strengthen. I know tomorrow would be difficult but for now I have a funny feeling I’ll be dreaming happy drea…


* * * * * * *

Well guys that was Chapter 17.   Testing Faith.  Work that one out.  I told you Chapter 17 wouldn't be a three month long wait.  This was primarily a Storm/Lucas chapter.  I didn't want any other storylines to get lost in the mix.  Although if you use your eagle eyes you'd probably notice small hints as to...well you'll just have to find out yourself.  By the way, if you don't like this chapter that's fine.  But don't bother emailing me about it if you don't.  Just surf on outta here.  This wasn't a real happy chapter but I'm happy with it.  You can expect Chapter 18 to carry on some more of the themes in Nemesis' Rising. 

Stay Tuned for SF18: Breaking Down and send me a note** to let me know what you thought of Chapter 17: Testing Faith.  Or add your comments to the SN Board

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