By SF Writer
Copyright 2003 Stormnation, All rights reserved.
* * * * * * *
"Hun, wake up."
"What time is it?" I asked groggily, my eyes still not quite able to open.
"You have to get up, Storm." Lucas said sitting me up.
"What is it?" I asked realizing that Lucas was standing up and not in bed.
"You better come downstairs." Lucas said taking my hand and helping me up.
"What is it, Lucas? Whats wrong?"
Lucas didnt say anything. He kept his eyes away from me, as if me seeing them would give away what he didnt want to tell me. He led me out of my room with my mind still working overtime trying to figure out what was wrong. In the instant I stepped out of my room, my whole world seemed to go into slow motion. I stepped out of my room heading towards the stairs when my eyes nonchalantly turned in Dades rooms direction. My whole world felt like it was slowing to a motion blur as I saw Dades door was open and his bed was empty and hadnt been slept in.
"Dade " I said barely audible.
"How did you know?" Lucas said turning to face me in somber surprise.
"He never came home last night, did he?" I said as my face distended in pain and realization.
"Your mother wanted to tell you. Lets go downstairs." Lucas said not wasting any time now as he quickly ushered me downstairs.
"Dad?" I said in surprise as I walked into the lounge to see two policemen along with Mom and Dad. "What are you doing here?"
"Son." Mom said standing up from her conversation with the two officers. "Come with me."
"Hes dead, isnt he?" I said, not budging when Mom tried to usher me to the side of the room. "Dades gone isnt he?"
"I received a phone call at 3am this morning, asking me to come down and identify a body. Im afraid it is your brother." Mom said doing her best to keep on the in control face. "They say he fell off the Reese Bridge while he was walking home last night."
"I dont believe you. Dades not dead. Hes not dead." I said shaking my head in disbelieving denial. "Hes not dead."
"Im sorry, Baby." Mom said putting her hands to my face, wiping away the emerging set of tears streaming down my face.
"No, Mom." I whined. "No "
"Im sorry, Storm." Mom said trying to wrap her arms around me.
"No!" I yelled shrugging her arms off.
"Where is he?" I asked forcefully. "I want to see him. Where is he?"
"You cant see him yet, Storm. Soon. If you want to see him. Ill take you. But hes being em you just cant see him, ok." Mom said this time being more vigorous in holding me close to her.
I pushed myself away from Mom, still not willing to accept what was being drummed into my head. I didnt want to believe it. I couldnt believe it. I couldnt.
I was too numb to cry, too shocked to believe. I turned and headed slowly for the stairs, before I made the seemingly long walk up them. I turned my head up towards the top and my jaw fell open as I saw Dade standing at the top of them, smiling at me with his big dimples and blue eyes.
"Dade " I sighed, smiling.
"Storm?" Lucas said putting his hand on my shoulder.
"Look." I said to Lucas as I pointed towards the top of the stairs. "Its Dade."
"Storm " Lucas said sadly, squeezing my shoulder with his hand.
I turned my head back towards the top of the stairs and felt the harshness of reality finally beginning to get to me. "He was just there he was smiling at me. He was there, Lucas "
I carried on walking up the stairs, Lucas keeping his hand on my shoulder or arm. Constantly making sure he had a reassuring grip on me somewhere. But he never said anything to me. I think he knew I was still trying to adjust. But I wasnt adjusting. Because I didnt believe it.
I stood at the entrance to Dades room, looking all through it. Unable to enter. Too frightened to leave. "Hes playing his guitar " I said as I saw the familiar image of Dade sitting on his bed playing his guitar.
Id seen him do this a thousand times. His slender fingers dancing on the strings as if they were an extension of himself. Only now I knew I was only seeing a memory of what Id taken so much for granted. What Id give right now to see my real brother playing his guitar on that bed. It had hit me now. I knew Dade was gone. I knew. I knew.
* * * * * * *
"Are you sure you want to do this?" Mom asked, putting her hands on my shoulders as we stood outside the door to the room that held Dades body.
"Try and keep me away." I said with indignant tears in my eyes.
"Ok. You can go in. Ill be out here if you need me." Mom said rubbing my back.
"Me too, Storm." Lucas said, putting his hand on my shoulder. "Ill be here."
I nodded at both of them as I pushed through the double doors to see Dades body lying on a cold metal table. A single sheet draped over his naked body from the waist down. His hands neatly at his side, his eyes closed. He still looked beautiful to me. He was still my brother. Still our Dade.
I stepped slowly towards him, feeling myself break down inside with every step I took. I sat down at his side and just stared at him. Still not quite able to fathom the jarring harshness that life and death had dealt me. I couldnt stop the tears that fell from my face now.
I touched Dades skin and tried to ignore the cold numbness of it. I held his hand in mine and kissed it gently. My tears falling onto his lifeless skin. I kissed his arm and his cheek then his forehead, the spot I always used to kiss my brother to let him know I loved him and that everything was going to be ok. Except now I was doing it more for myself than him.
"I love you, Dade." I said smiling bitter sweetly as I stroked his face gently. "I love you."
I leant down to kiss him again and held my face against his. I didnt care if he wasnt there. This was as close as I would get to ever being with my brother again in this life. And I wanted to make the most of it. Nobody would ever take this moment away from me.
* * * * * * *
"We are gathered here today to mourn the passing of our young son. Dade Paul Marcus "
I listened without listening. Watched without watching. This was all too surreal. Time had passed so fast since Dades passing. I almost couldnt remember what it was like to have him with me every day. It all seemed so far away now.
Time had passed by so quickly since Dade had died and now we were already burying him. It just didnt seem right. It wasnt right. Im supposed to be the first to go. The first to die. Not because I wanted to. Just because I knew I couldnt handle seeing anyone else I loved go before me. Its so hard. So much pain. So much hurt. So much anger.
My mother said something similar to how I felt. That a parent should never outlive their child. She has not been handling Dades death well at all. Dads been really supportive. Hes really been there for Mom and I know that hes killing himself inside too. They both are. I really think that if one thing good comes from Dades passing it will be Mom and Dad getting back together. Call me selfish but Id rather have my brother back.
I was overwhelmed by the turnout here today. So many people I had no idea how many lives Dade touched and influenced. So many people who genuinely respected and cared for Dade. There was one person missing today though, Marcel Lewis. Wed been unable to reach him in Larraine where hes burying his grandmother. Im not looking forward to when he finds out that Dade passed on and he will be buried before Marcel even knew.
I was trying to distract myself from my own tears by watching everyone elses. A completely shattered June Marcus sat at graveside gently rubbing the wooden polish of Dades coffin. Whispering words to my brother as if he were still here.
Dad stood in solitary denial. Abby stood with her other half Rob, comforting her. Everyone had been as supportive as possible. Joshua Josh Barrett has been surprisingly helpful throughout the last few days. Hes done his best to try and help organize and assist Mom or Dad. Along with Sarah, who organized the wake. Mike and Sarah took Dades death pretty hard. Both almost refusing to deal with it. But I think in the end, they will be the ones who will move on the fastest so they can be there for Mom and I. Lucas has been too busy looking after me to do any of his own mourning but I know hes feeling the same loss we all feel.
"I wish Marcel were here." I said quietly to Lucas who stood with his arm around me.
Our love was no longer a secret. Lucas had refused to let me stand alone. And that meant I needed him to hold me on a whim. Hed been so incredible the last few days. Never leaving my side. Tending to my every need. Constantly lending me his shoulder to cry on. In the state Id been in the last few days I needed him so much and that meant people saw him holding me, comforting me. We both resolved ourselves to not bothering to hide how we felt about each other now. Everyone knew. But no one said anything. Most I think had resolved to let me grieve before they shared their disdain or acceptance of me and us.
"I tried everything I could to reach him. I left messages. I hated doing it that way but I didnt know what else to do."
"Lucas " I said physically shaking. "I dont think I can do this next part."
"Storm I know this is hard. This is your last chance to say goodbye. I dont think youll be able to live with yourself if you dont do this."
I simply nodded in response and waited nervously for my signal to go up and say a few words about my brother. As my time came all too soon, my heart panicked, my fingers shivered as they held the cards Id prepared. My whole body shivered nervously as I felt myself on the brink of breaking down.
"And now we will have a few words from Dades brother. Daniel Marcus."
I took a deep breath, closing my eyes and trying my damn hardest to keep my tears at bay and my shivering subsided. I squeezed Lucas hand tightly in my own before I prepared to step forward. I made my way towards the head of Dades coffin where it lay waiting to be lowered. I wiped a tear from my cheek with my finger and touched it gently to the wood of his coffin in respect and remembrance as I walked past.
"Hi there." I said, my voice shaking so badly I could hardly get out those two words.
I felt my heart clam up in my chest as the impact hit me once again of why I was standing here right now. I felt myself begin to choke on the words that struggled to get out. I felt my hands shake as I tried to find the first card Id set aside for myself. And I felt my eyes glaze over as the tears fought me for release. Not yet. Not yet. This is for Dade. This is for him.
"My name is Daniel Marcus. But people call me Storm. Im here today to speak on behalf of my brother. He decided to fall off a bridge and now hes dead. So unfortunately he wont be joining us today." I said hoping my crass attempt at humor wouldnt be too scorned upon.
"My brother Dade Marcus. I know that everyone who comes up here after me will say how much they loved my brother and how much he meant to them. Theyll say a lot of nice things about him and everything so I figured Id try to be different. And Ill say all the bad things about him. The things that used to tick me off and really annoy me."
"Funny thing is though. None of the bad things seem so bad anymore. Id give almost anything to have my brother sit me on my ass with a solid hook again." I said with a strange smile on my face. "When we were younger I used to find it annoying that Dade would want to sleep in my room sometimes. If there were a storm outside or wed watched a scary movie. Id get this knock on my door and Dade would be standing there holding his pillow and a blanket. But now it makes me smile to remember those things about my bro."
"Dade and I were pretty close in age so growing up we played for a lot of the same sports teams, we hung out a lot. Dade was my brother and one of my best friends. I could always count on Dade to be there for me. When I needed him, he was there. When I needed a shoulder he was there. When I needed advice he was there. When I needed a good hard reality check " I said surprising myself with a little laugh. " he was there. He told it like it was. Never what you wanted to hear. Just what you needed. He was always there."
"Im pretty sure hes here today. Standing right over there." I said pointing towards the back of the gathered mourners. "Hed be standing there. At the back. Playing it cool. Not wanting to draw too much attention to himself. My brother used to think I was cool. But he was the cool one."
"You know I think Im just rambling now. Because I stopped following these stupid cards and am just going off what Im feeling right now. Im going to try and wrap this up real quick but first and most importantly there are a few things I need to say not about Dade. But to him."
"I love you, Bro."
"Im going to miss seeing you in the morning when youve just woken up and your hairs still messy and you have that dont look at me face."
"Im going to miss seeing your dimply smile and those wise eyes of yours lighting up."
"Ill miss you looking after me."
"Ill miss me looking out for you."
"Ill miss the way you used to raise your eyebrow."
"Miss watching the way you play your guitar."
"Miss seeing you across the table when we eat."
"Ill miss kicking your ass in training."
"Ill miss hanging out with you. Going out to clubs we werent supposed to."
"Ill miss our little conversations where more often than not you came out sounding a whole lot wiser than your older brother."
"Ill miss seeing your face. Ill miss your smile. Ill miss your voice. But most of all " I had to take a breather now as my words became broken and stuttered.
"Ill miss you "
I leant down at the head of his coffin and kissed it gently, rubbing my hands along its polished exterior. "Bye, Dade."
"If anyone else would like to say a few words. Nows the time." I said quickly moving towards the side next to Lucas.
I kissed his neck and let him hold me gently as once again I had a little cry. I let him rub the back of my head softly as he held me close in his arms.
"Im proud of you. I know that was hard."
"I couldnt say everything I wanted to because I knew Id break down if I did." I said sniveling with soft sobs as I did. "I wanted to say so much more. But I couldnt. It was too hard."
I turned back to see Mom now standing where I had just been. Waiting patiently for her words to find her as she gazed at Dades coffin. There was a bittersweet smile on her face as she looked down at Dades coffin. I think she was remembering the good things. The joy Dade had brought her and how much he meant to her. The onlookers waited patiently for Mom to find her words and eventually they came.
"My son. My Dade. The youngest of our three children. Some would say the wisest. Id say he was definitely unique. I love my son very much. For me this has been the most difficult experience Ive ever had to face. But I know the amount of pain I feel is only there because of how much joy I felt when Dade was with us. He made me happy. He made me smile. He was always a good son. Always. I miss you, Baby. We all miss you. Im going to need you to be watching out for us while youre up there. Dont ever forget how much your Mommy loves you. I always have and I always will "
I closed my eyes and buried my head in Lucas shoulder. I couldnt take listening to anymore of what Mom said. It was too hard. Everything was so hard.
Mike, Sarah, Dad, Abby, Josh, Dades friends, everyone. They all got up and said something about or to Dade. I think Dade would have been proud to see how many people really loved him. And how many would really miss him. It was hard listening to everyone. I dont think Id ever cried so hard so much.
But not as hard as this moment. When everyone had spoken. When all had been said. And it truly was time to say goodbye. Thats when I lost it. Thats when I let go. Broke down. And felt the most pain Ive ever felt in my life.
This was the moment that will haunt me the rest of my days. The lowering of Dades coffin. That one moment when it jerked downwards and I knew it was time. He was going. He was going.
I dont think Ive ever cried so loud. So hard. Sobbed so much. I was almost hysterical. This was all too much. But still they lowered him. Still his coffin kept going down. I held onto Lucas. Mike held onto Sarah. Abby held onto Rob and Mom held onto Dad. And we all just lost it.
I went limp in Lucas arms, shivering and shaking as I sobbed uncontrollably watching my brother get lowered further and further. Further away from us. I couldnt handle it. I just couldnt handle it. I wanted to die. For once in my life I truly just wanted to die
* * * * * * *
I lay here on Dades bed. Trying to feel his presence in this room before time took it away. Smelling him on his pillows, his blankets. Picturing him sitting at his desk doing his homework. Or right here on his bed playing his prized guitar. My brother the musician. And so much more.
I didnt want to move. I just wanted to lie here and pretend he was still here. In here, in this room. Dade still existed. He still had his mark on everything in here. Including me.
I leaned over to Dades bedside dresser and pulled off one of the photos he had sitting up there. This particular photo was of Dade and I from our little league days. Even back then he still had the dimply smile that everyone loved. The same smile that seemed etched into my mind. In the photo I had my arm around my little brother, both posing in our team uniforms. The Marcus Bros. That was us.
I never realized how much I would miss even just being able to put my arm around my brother. I remember just a few days ago he was making me breakfast. Making sure I was warm. Sticking up for me against senseless idiots. That was my brother. We always seemed to know just when to stick up for each other and when to be there for each other. We had good balance and intuition when it came to that.
I picked up Dades guitar and held it, trying to find the same zone Dade found when he played it. My fingers fumbled. My arms shook. My breathing shivered. I couldnt do it.
"Storm. What are you doing?"
"Oh Mom. I was just never mind. Im sorry." I said putting the guitar down.
"Its ok, Honey." Mom said as she sat down beside me. "I know why youre here. I was doing the same thing this morning. Trying to feel like he was near."
I looked at Mom, my eyes still red and wet. How much Id cried today. Too much. Not enough.
Moms eyes were exactly the same. Although I imagine she was going through a hell all her own right now. Something I couldnt imagine. Mom kissed my forehead and held my head in her arms.
"I miss him." Mom said with silent tears streaming down her face. "I miss him."
"Dont change this room. Not yet." I said shaking my head. "Not yet. Hes still here."
"I know I know."
* * * * * * *
Breakfast. It has been exactly one week now since Dade died. Lucas, Mike, Mom and I all sat at the breakfast table. Dade no longer sits in his seat but his seat is still taken. Dad has moved back in. Im not sure for how long but hes here for at least the next few weeks. My own thoughts on this are rather ambiguous but as far as Mom is concerned I think his being here is a good thing.
This mornings breakfast was a quiet and subdued affair. As almost every meal has been lately. Nobody really said anything to each other. We just ate. Made one or two small comments and then left.
"Mom, what time will you be home from work? I was thinking Id make dinner tonight. Give you and Mike a rest."
"Ill help you, Son." Dad piped in.
"Ill be back around six tonight. You may as well pick up some of our groceries off the list after school too please."
"And dont forget to pick your brother up from hockey prac " Mom said quickly covering her mouth in shocked realization of what shed just said, her eyes rapidly beginning to water. "Im sorry."
"Its ok, Mom." I said putting my hand on Moms shoulder. "Its ok..."
* * * * * * *
Three weeks. Our family grows distant and more estranged as the days go by. Mike seems to be the glue in all this. He is taking it hard but handling it the best. Strange but true. While the rest of us wither and die, he thrives. Turning his grief into positive affirmation. Making sure the nucleus that was once our family does not completely break down and fall apart. I dont envy his job. Dad has left now. So much for the reconciliation. Abby is contemplating moving back to Merlow so she can be close to Mom and I.
Mom has unfortunately taken up smoking again. I had a feeling she might when she had a few right after Dade died but I was hoping shed drop it after he was buried. Shes now picked the habit up again full time.
I myself have almost resorted to picking up a cigarette and lighting it up. Ive come as close to putting one in my mouth with the lighter an inch away from the cigarette. But luckily for me Lucas has always been just a step away and he promptly removes the cigarettes from me. I know Ive been going through a rough time lately and Lucas has been there for me every step of the way. He never lets me out of his sight for very long these days. Whether its at school, at home, out and about. Were practically always together. To be completely honest, sometimes hes the only thing from stopping me sliding completely downhill.
I think I need help. I feel like my life is falling apart slowly and painfully. I believe there is something wrong with me. These days I am always depressed. Not a day goes by anymore when I dont cry. Every day I feel like Im on the end of my tenure. Ready to just break down at the slightest. Every day is a struggle. Every day I feel like I cant be bothered. Because my bro isnt here with me. And, damn I miss him like crazy.
Everywhere I go I see him. I feel like hes trying to tell me something. Maybe Im just imagining things. Maybe Im going crazy. I feel like he needs me but theres nothing I can do to help him. Every time I see him its like hes saying why? why? why didnt you help me? I needed you. I close my eyes and hes there. His eyes sad and his face looking at me in bewilderment. Why?
I keep feeling like I let him down. Like its my fault he died. Nobody says anything but I know everyone thinks Dade jumped off the bridge that night. I refused to believe it. But as the days go on I keep seeing Dade in my mind and the look on his face and its harder for me to keep believing he just fell. Now my head spins wondering why he jumped? Why didnt I see? What didnt I do? I never expected it. Least of all from Dade. I cant believe he jumped. I dont want to believe it.
Thats the real reason were going downhill as a family. Pretty soon Mike might be better off back with his father. Mom works and works and when she has free time, she works some more. We barely talk anymore. Both of us blaming ourselves inside for Dades loss.
With all Ive been through in the last few weeks Ive come to this conclusion. Life without Dade is almost not worth living.
* * * * * * *
"Babe, are you ok?" Lucas asked as he rubbed my arm soothingly.
We both lay in our bed, Lucas arms wrapped around me from behind. Im not even sure what time it is. I dont even want to know.
"Storm?" Lucas asked again, stroking his fingers along my cheek
"Im sorry. I cant sleep."
"Do you want to talk about it?"
"I still see him. I see him in my dreams. When I close my eyes. I see him when I walk. I seem him when I talk. Everywhere, I see him. I know hes not really there but "
"And what does he say?"
"He says he needs me."
"Maybe he does. Maybe he does need you."
"He doesnt need anything. Hes dead. Besides, maybe he did need me. When he was still alive. But I wasnt there for him. He needed me when he was alive. Thats when he needed me."
"You cant keep doing this to yourself. Its been long enough. Dont you think Dade would want you to move on now? Its been two months since he died now. You cant keep doing this. You dropped out of martial arts. You dropped the presidency. Youve locked yourself away from everyone. You dont go out anymore. I cant take this forever, Storm. You have to get over this. You have to."
"Or what? Youll leave me?" I said sliding away from Lucas ever so slightly.
"I never said that. Youre the one who keeps closing off to me. Im not the one leaving you. Youre the one leaving me. Its like an obsession. I know you love Dade. I know you miss him. We all miss him. We all wish he were here with us. But hes not. Hes gone, Storm. And you cant go back and change the past. And you cant keep blaming yourself for not being there. You cant keep dwelling on the past. You have to move on, Storm."
"I cant." I said shaking my head. "I just cant ok."
"Why, Storm?" Lucas said turning me towards him as he rested his chin on my chest and looked up at me. "You have to find some way to move on. You have to make peace with yourself. You have to make peace with Dade. Let him go. Let him go. Let him rest. Move on, Storm. Why cant you just move on?"
"Because if I move on Im scared Ill forget him. And I dont want to. I dont want to be happy again. Because happy was when we were all together. You dont understand. I just cant ok."
"I do understand. And its ok, Baby. Its ok." Lucas said kissing my chest before he rested his head down over my heart. "Its ok. I understand. In time youll heal."
"Im sorry, Lucas. Youve been there for me so much. I dont know what I would have done without you."
"They couldnt have kept me away from you if they tried. My place was by your side. Thats where I was needed." Lucas said kissing my skin again. "Thats where I belong."
"I love you."
* * * * * * *
Lucas, Mike, Sarah and I all stood next to the railings on Reese Bridge. Id come to finally lay my brother to rest. Id come to finally let him go. To make peace within myself. This was where I had to forgive myself. Where he died. Ever since Dade had died, something had always drawn me to this spot. I couldnt figure out just what. But this seemed to be where Dade called to me from. This is where fate took my little brother from me. From all of us.
"My little spunky." Sarah said shaking her head as her eyes wept her sorrow, a small smile forming on her lips in remembrance. "Hunky spunky."
Mike said nothing. His eyes were still kind of glazed over. Still disbelieving. Even though hed known as long as I did. He still didnt believe it.
"This is where he died." I said looking down over the side of the bridge to the rushing water below.
"He didnt jump." Mike said finally, shaking his head in stubborn defiance. "I dont care what anyone else thinks. He didnt jump."
"He didnt jump."
"He didnt jump."
"He didnt jump " I said holding onto the railings, in almost the exact same spot Dade supposedly jumped from. "He didnt jump."
"Im getting out of here." Mike said frustrated, shaking his head angry and incensed. "Fuck this. Lets go, Sarah. I dont know why you keep doing this, Storm. You have to let go."
"Im staying here." I said blankly. "A little longer."
"Ok. Ill stay with you." Lucas said putting his hand on my shoulder.
"No " I said shaking my head as I looked down below to the surging water. "I want to be alone."
"No, Storm." Lucas said looking at me with worried concern on his face.
"Lucas. Im not going to jump." I said, instantly recognizing the cause for his concern. "Thats not why I want to be here. Just please, give me some time. Ill be ok."
Lucas kissed my forehead right there, not caring if any cars came by and saw. He held me tight in his arms and whispered how much he loved me. I let him hold me for a while, feeling warm and safe in his arms until finally he let me go.
I smiled at the three of them as they walked away, leaving me standing here alone. My hands slid along the cold metal flat surface of the railings as I walked a few steps along the bridge. I didnt know exactly why I wanted to be here. I just knew I did.
I gripped the railings tightly with both hands as I leant over the edge and looked downwards towards the furious water below. I wondered if this was the last thing Dade saw before he died.
I almost tipped myself over the edge in shock as I recognized the familiar voice. I quickly stood up properly and turned to see Dade standing on the railings with his arms outspread, looking down to the water below. His eyes seemed distant as if he wasnt really there. And my mind told me that this wasnt real but it was it had to be.
"Dade?" I said in disbelief, my eyes frozen as I gazed at Dades figure standing on the edge. "Is that you?"
The wind blew through his hair. The sun reflected shone down on his skin. His hands and fingers shook as they reached out to either side of him. His eyes still staring down to the water below. I could see him I could see him. But he wasnt there. He wasnt really there.
"Youre not here. Youre not real. Youre not my brother." I said shaking my head in disbelief. "Im seeing things."
"Youre not real! Youre not my brother! Dade didnt jump! He didnt jump!" I said breaking into tears as I cried out. "He didnt jump!"
"I need you "
My expression changed to one of pained rage to sudden emptiness and longing. My eyebrows furrowing in distended hurt as my eyes cried their aching. "I need you too, Dade. I need you too."
"I need you now "
I knew he wasnt really Dade, I knew he was just my imagination or Dades spirit. But still it stabbed at me and ripped my insides out as if it were real. Dades ghostly figure leaned off the railing and I jumped towards it in slow motion terror. Seemingly unable to reach out. Unable to do anything except watch as he plummeted off and below. "No! Dade, dont jump! Dont jump, Dade!"
"Storm! Wake up!"
"AAHH!" I cried as I sat bolt upright in my bed, a cold sweat running rampant on me. "Dont jump, Dade "
"Storm, you had a nightmare." Lucas said rubbing my arms and kissing my forehead as he pulled me into his arms. "Its ok, Babe. Im here. You just had a bad dream, thats all."
"A really bad one." I said sobbing onto Lucas shoulder as I rubbed my hands along his back. "I dreamt Dade had died. I dreamt he died. And I couldnt let go. And all our lives went to hell because he died. It was all a dream. It was all a bad dream "
"Storm " Lucas said pulling my head back so our eyes were looking into each others. "That wasnt a dream. Dade is dead."
"AAHH!" I cried as I sat bolt upright in my bed, a cold sweat running rampant on me.
"Storm, Baby what is it?" Lucas asked as he sat up next to me, rubbing my arms and trying to hold me. "Did you have a bad dream?"
"Dade!" I said jumping out of my bed as I ran to the door and swung it open as I headed straight for Dades room.
I threw his door open with a large smile on my face, knowing this was all just a bad dream and hed be lying in bed sleeping peacefully. I shook my head in disbelief feeling like I was going to explode as I saw Dades bed empty and unslept in.
"Hes not there?" Lucas said in surprise as he walked in behind me and leant his arms on my shoulders. "I thought he was already asleep in bed when we got back from the party last night."
"The party was last night?" I said turning to look at Lucas intently. "That was last night?"
"Yeah, Dude. Marcel just left last night remember. You said Dade wanted to be by himself for a while. Dont you think hes out a bit late though? It must two in the morning."
"Shit shit shit!" I said in a panic. "He needs me. He needs me. I understand. I understand."
"I need the keys!" I said rushing downstairs and into the kitchen where my keys were on the bench.
"Storm, wait for me!" Lucas yelled frantically as he rushed down the stairs.
"No, Lucas. Wait here. I have to hurry." I said rushing straight out the door and to the jeep.
My heart was in a panic as I slammed on the accelerator and sped off down the street. Destination: Reese Bridge.
2am in the morning and Im pedal to the metal through the streets of Merlow, thrashing the jeep in my attempts to get to where I believed Dade was as fast as possible. My brow sweated, my heart beat like crazy in my chest, my pulse was racing as fast as the jeep was. All because I feared what could happen if I didnt hurry. If I wasnt already too late.
I turned the roundabout just before the Reese Bridge and sure enough there Dade stood. On the rails with his arms outspread. I rammed into high gear and sped onto the bridge, slamming on the brakes just as I reached where Dade was. In one swift movement I was out of the jeep and on the sidewalk next to Dade.
"Dade!" I yelled as I ran up behind him.
"Storm!" Dade yelled in surprise as he turned to face me, his left foot slipping as he turned on the railings. "Whoa!"
My breath seemed to fall away from me as Dade lost his balance and began falling backwards. I ran towards him as fast as I could and jumped up into the air towards Dade as he went over the edge. One hand grabbed Dades ankle as my other hand gripped the railings. Dade slammed his head hard into the metal grating of the bridge rails and yelled out in pain but I had still successfully grabbed him. That didnt seem to be helping much though as the weight of both of us was proving to be too much for my one hand on a smooth metal surface. My hand slowly losing its grip.
"AAHH!" I screamed as I struggled to hold Dade in one hand and the railings in the other, my arm straining with all its might. "Im slipping! I cant hold on!"
"AAAHHH!!" I cried as I struggled with all my strength to hold onto the railings but feeling my grip slip slowly. "Dade! I cant hold on!"
"Let me go, Storm." Dade said almost too calmly. "Let me go. Then you can use your free hand to get yourself back up. You cant hold onto both of us. Let me go, Storm."
"NO!" I cried, tears streaming down my face in agony as I struggled with everything in me to hold on.
"Please, Storm. Let me go. Its the only way."
"Shut the fuck up, you! When we get out of here I am going to kick your ass so bad. Why were you standing on the railings, Dade? Tell me!?"
"I was just messing around. Ive done it lots of times. This is the first time Ive slipped. Now let me go!"
"Fuck you!" I said defiantly as I pulled every bit of strength out of me in an attempt to pull us up.
I managed to get a solid grip but there was still no way in hell I would be able to pull us both up like this. I was holding Dade by the ankle in one hand and the railings in the other. And I wouldnt be able to hold on forever. This was it. I had to choose.
"Come on, Storm. You can save yourself or we both fall. PLEASE!! FUCKEN LISTEN TO ME FOR ONCE, STORM! DO IT NOW!!! LET ME GO!"
"DO IT OR WELL BOTH FALL!!" Dade yelled in desperation. "LET GO!"
"I love you, Dade." I cried with cold realization. "Im sorry. I love you. I love you. Please forgive me for what Im about to do."
"Its ok, Storm." Dade said quietly. "I love you too, Bro. I love you too. Bye, Storm. Let go."
"Ok. Ill let go."
I looked down at Dade one last time. Both our eyes were filled with tears. Dade had a look of fear in his face that he was trying to subdue with a look of Im doing the right thing. We both smiled at each other painfully. Oh how I missed that face only to have to lose it again. But Dade was right. I stay or we both go. I had to let go. So I did. I let go of the railing.
"NO, STORM!" Dade screamed with all his might.
"That wont be necessary." Mike yelled, both his arms shooting over the railings and grabbing my hand.
"Mike!" I yelled as Mike held onto Dade and I with all his might, his face red with strain as he grabbed my arm and tried to haul me up.
"Anytime you feel like joining us, Lucas! No hurry or anything." Mike said sarcastically as he struggled to hold both Dade and my weight.
"I was grabbing the tow rope from the back of Storms jeep!" Lucas yelled in worried aggravation as he appeared next to Mike and threw my tow rope down beside us. "Dade, grab on!"
"Ok, Im on!" Dade yelled as he grabbed the bottom end of the rope, while he still hung upside down with me holding onto his ankle with a vice like grip.
"Storm, let go of Dade and then Dade you climb up the rope or just hold onto it real tight while Lucas pulls you up. Ill hold onto Storm."
"No!" I yelled anxiously. "Ill keep a hold of Dades leg. Dade you start pulling yourself up. Lucas you pull the rope up at the same time. Come on, Dade. You can do it."
Dades forehead was bleeding and he struggled to get his bearings on the rope which is one reason I had no intention of letting go of his leg until Lucas had him back over the railing. His face grimaced in pain as strained and struggled to use his arms to pull himself upright, his legs still higher than his head. We all kept spurring him on as he pulled himself up the rope at the same time as Lucas pulled the rope up. Finally I sighed a deep sigh of relief as Lucas grabbed both Dades arms and pulled him over the top. With my second arm now free I grabbed Mikes hands, both our hands clasping onto each others as tightly as we could. I was too far beneath the railings now for me to even try to grab them so it was all up to Mike, who himself was leaning dangerously over the side as he held me up. Mike closed his eyes and a steady look of iron determination passed over his face before in one powerful lunge he pulled me up and over, Lucas grabbing my waist as I reached the railings and making sure I came over safely.
I lay on the ground on Mikes chest heaving and gasping for breath, my energy sapped and spent. I could feel Mikes chest rising up and down as he sucked in as much air as he could, recovering from his mighty show of strength and determination.
"Thank you, Mike. I owe you my life." I said with my eyes closed and my breathing labored. "You saved us."
"Do the dishes for a month and well call it even." Mike said still panting for breath. "Make sure Dade helps you."
"Id give you a hug but Im too tired to get up. Thank you, Mike. Thank you. Thank you."
"Thats what brothers are for. Dont mention it. Just get off me, youre heavy."
"Storm, youre ok." Lucas sighed in relief as he helped me to my feet.
"Im ok, Babe." I said as Lucas kissed my lips a few times in anxious filled relief, slipping his hands around my waist and pulling me close to him. "Thank you. Thank you."
"Youre ok, Bro." Mike said patting my shoulder as he walked past me and sat down next to Dade.
Lucas reluctantly let me go as I quickly rushed to Dades side. He sat in the front seat of the jeep holding his head with his eyes closed. I could see that Lucas had already taken the first aid kit from my jeep and tended to Dades head wound.
"Do you think itll need stitches?" Dade asked with his face grimacing in silent pain.
"I dont think so. I hope not. Maybe we better get Mom to check it out when we get home."
"No, no. Its ok."
"Scared shell ask how you got it?"
"I wasnt going to jump. Ok, Storm?" Dade said agitated.
"You fucken better not have been." I said pissed off. "You better tell me what the hell you were doing up there. Now."
"I wasnt going to jump!"
"Look Dade " I said completely lowering the tone of my voice as I crouched down and took Dades hands in my own and kissed each of them tenderly. "I only ask because Im your brother, ok? And I love you. And I dont want to lose you. I know what it would be like if you werent around, Dade. And it would suck so bad. Mom would start smoking again, Id drop out of martial arts, and your funeral would be really depressing and Mom and I would stop talking and Mik "
"Storm?" Dade said raising his eyebrow at me and giving me a weird look as if I were crazy.
"Oh sorry." I smiled, realizing Dade had no idea what I was talking about. "Just know ok that there isnt anything I wouldnt do for you "
I leant into Dades ear and whispered, not wanting anyone else to hear what I was about to say to Dade and Dade alone. " even die for you."
Dade kissed me and leant his head on my shoulder as his arms rubbed my back and his eyes shed silent tears. I half expected him to say something but he didnt. He just kept rubbing my back and kissing my shoulder. I kissed his hair and held him gently in my arms, trying to shake off the stigma that dream had left me. What if Dade left me? Would I really let my life spin so far out of control? None of that mattered anymore though because thats all it was a dream. A very bad dream. And now I had my brother back with me everything was just as it should be. Just as it was meant to be.
"I love you, Storm." Dade said in a soft whisper.
"I love you too, Dade." I said kissing Dade's forehead. "I love you too."
"Thank you for not letting me go." Dade said still speaking in a faint voice.
"There was never any other option. I can't let you go. Not then. Not now. You're my brother. You're my blood. If you died, so would a part of me. I wasn't going to lose you. You're too important to me."
"You are my hero." Dade whispered, letting out a sigh as he rested on my shoulder.
"Just don't expect me to wear tights."
"Storm how did you know to come? I wasnt going to jump, I was just thinking. I had a lot on my mind. I swear Ive been up there dozens of times and never once slipped. Its stupid but it lets me think. But how did you know to come?"
"Well I had this dream. A really bad dream. And you were dead. And everyone thought you jumped but I didnt believe it. It was really really bad. And then I woke up. And I knew you were in trouble or something. Its weird, Dade. I know. I probably sound crazy but thats how I knew to come. You were dead and fuck it sucked so bad. I just knew I had to do anything I could to make sure that dream never came true. Thats why Im here. Wait a minute " I said pulling my own head up off Dades shoulder as I turned to Mike and Lucas who stood watching us. "Not to sound ungrateful for you two saving our lives and all but what are you two doing here?"
"Well you probably wont believe me " Mike said nervously. "But I was having this really bad dream that you and Dade were both dead. And then Lucas came in acting like a wussy boy. We gotta go after Storm!, we gotta go after Storm! He woke me up saying he was really worried about you and he shouldnt have let you go off by yourself. And I knew something was wrong. Call me weird but I just knew. And so I borrowed Moms car and we shot over here as fast as we could."
"Thats too weird." Lucas said shaking his head.
"Ok so I dreamt Dade was dead." I said pointing to myself.
"And I dreamt you were both dead." Mike said as he raised both his eyebrows.
"What did you dream, Lucas?" Dade asked as we all looked at Lucas curiously.
"Uhh happy thoughts?" Lucas said smiling sheepishly.
"Horny bastard." Mike smiled as he patted Lucas on the back. "I vote we make tracks soon. Ive gotta be up at five."
I left Dade and Mike to have a moment by themselves, letting my eyes wander back to them occasionally as they spoke. I wondered how the bond between the three of us would change and grow. Dade had always been Mikes little bro. But now it seemed as if it were more. Every day Mike would become more and more secure and certain in his firm belief that we were his brothers and his family now. I think I can safely say that Mike really is meant to be my brother now. Or our brother I should say. Once again, just reaffirming what I already believed.
"Dont think I didnt notice you nearly died." Lucas said kissing my forehead as he held me securely in his arms. "And dont think I didnt notice you letting go."
"Im sorry, Lucas. I just couldnt let him go. Not just to save myself. Im sorry."
"Its ok. Lets not worry about it. Youre both ok now and I know exactly what was going through your head. I know how much you love your brother. Lets just try not to think about what could have happened. Youre both ok. Thats all that matters."
"I know. I know."
"Storm. Next time you run out of the house in the middle of the night. Remember you only have your boxers on and nothing else."
"Oh it didnt seem important at the time."
"Oh hey Im not complaining." Lucas said with a mischievous grin on his face. "Definitely not complaining. How are you feeling though, are you ok? That must have been pretty scary."
"People dont understand fear without experiencing it fully. I was scared that I was going to die. I was scared I was really going to lose Dade. Fear I was afraid. You cant understand how I felt until you hang off that railing there and see death beneath and life slipping away above you."
"I was scared so was Mike. But we both tried not to show it. He was just determined as hell to make sure you two were alright. Especially Dade for some reason "
"Do you think Dades ok? You dont think "
"No." Lucas said fairly confidently as he looked over at Dade and Mike. "What I do think is that Dades cocky enough to think hes invincible and he can high wire anything without worrying. Thats what I think. I dont think he ever thought he could fall off. After all as he always says Dades the man. I doubt he even once thought he would fall off. He thinks hes invincible. The great Dade."
"Youre probably right. Its just that he left the party so depressed last night. He looked so lonely. I felt so bad. I hope you are right. I really hope so."
I looked over at Dade as he talked to Mike. I tried to study his body language right now and tried to see if his face showed any underlying strain or cause for depression. I mean obviously there was the Marcel factor but I didnt think that was enough to take Dade over the edge. Is there something else I didnt see? I cant shake this feeling that Dade may have been even contemplating jumping. I hope Im wrong. I pray that I am. Ive heard so many cases of peoples loved ones committing suicide so unexpectedly. Seemingly without any warning. Was there something I missed with Dade? Or am I being over cautious? All I know is I dont plan on letting my bad dream come true anytime soon. Nothing is going to happen to Dade nothing
* * * * * * *
The afternoon sun shone down brightly on Dades face. The wind blew through his hair and he closed his eyes as the soft breeze enveloped him. His fingers rested gently on the railings of Merlows, Reese Bridge. He leant over the railings and looked down to the surging waters below.
"Jump me?" Dade said raising his eyebrow as he looked toward the water below with disdain.
" of course not "
"Never never "
* * * * * * *
Well that chapter was pretty out there. It's probably the most out there chapter I've written in the main SF storyline. It's pretty surreal but I like it for showing the bond between Storm and his brothers, Dade and Mike. With many people, myself included. When you have a strong bond with someone like your family usually or someone you love very very much, you sometimes have this empathic connection to them. When there's something wrong you can usually feel it without them having to say anything. I had a dream like this about my sister, except it was a lot darker and a lot more sinister. I'm very grateful that I have the sort of bond with my family and a few very close people that I show Storm and Mike as having with theirs. Some people have it, some people don't.
This chapter was self contained in this version. I originally had it as a cliffhanger where it would end just after Storm let go of the railings because he couldn't let Dade die just to save himself. But I figured a cliffhanger ending just wouldn't work in the long run for this chapter. For me I felt better having it as one solid, self contained chapter where you get the whole story at once and if you choose, you can read around it and pretend it never happened. It is a standalone chapter but one I really felt compelled to do.
As for the suicide factor. Do we really know who or even if we ourselves would be capable of it, given the right motivation? I myself have never been in a position where that has been an option and being the person that I am I doubt it ever will be. But I know people who completely unexpectedly have commited suicide and always the question left with loved ones is 'why?'. No one really knows and once somoene's gone you can't go back and find out why. I'm thankful that no one close to me has ever commited suicide but I know many people who have contemplated it. Now I don't think it was ever really an option for Dade but he may have been close to the contemplating stage. I doubt he would have gone through with it. There's the obvious Marcel factor, but what about just general strain or maybe he isn't so comfortable with his sexuality or identity as he lets on. So many different reasons why maybe it could have happened. I left the opening open for you to decide for yourself whether you think he was or wasn't going to jump. You'll find out eventually. Until then, draw your own conclusions.
Losing a loved one. That is something I have experienced too often. And it really just bites royal !#@$ but it's part of life. The grieving process Storm and co went through is pretty much how it goes for many people. It's something you don't want to face or go through yourself but when you love people so much, one day you have to face the eventuality that they will die. Maybe you'll go first. Maybe they'll go first. But it'll happen whether you like it or not. So that's why you have to make sure that you let people know how you feel about them. Don't let them think you don't love them, even if you fight or something. You have the power to make sure people know you love them. Use it. Until next time folks...Stay Tuned for SF21: The Phoenix Process and send me a note** to let me know what you thought of Chapter 20: Losing Dade
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