By SF Writer
Copyright 2003 Stormnation, All rights reserved.
* * * * * * *
"Well thats the police taken care of." Sarah said as she put her cellphone in her pocket.
The night sky no longer held the cover of stars. Instead being enveloped by the daunting presence of dark clouds that did not serve to ease Sarah or Lucas sense of anxiousness right now. All they could think about was the jeep. Or to be more precise, the jeeps lack of presence right now. There was no doubt in Sarahs mind that it had been stolen. And as both her and Lucas breathed in the chilly air, they each tried to figure out just how in the world they would explain this to Storm.
"Sarah look at this." Lucas said as he bent down over the road area where the jeep had been taken from.
"What is it, Lucas?"
"Look." Lucas said pointing to the inside of a broken glass beer bottle.
"Holy shit. I never even saw those before. Those are shredder nails."
"I get the feeling this wasnt an accident, Sarah."
"I dont like the sound of that." Sarah said leaning down beside Lucas. "Do you think the people who left this here are the same people who took the jeep?"
"I think we should consider ourselves lucky that you werent in the jeep when it was taken, Sarah." Lucas said taking a deep breath as he squeezed Sarahs hand. "Man thats creepy. Lets just hope theyre gone."
"Its not our job to speculate. Were just lucky were in Merlows boundaries. Officer Kendrick is going to give us a ride back into town."
"I hope he gets here soon." Lucas said squeezing Sarahs hand again as they sat down on the roadside.
"Lucas Sheridan, are you scared?" Sarah asked teasingly as she nudged Lucas playfully.
"Just a bit. Its dark ok. I dont like the dark."
"Theres nothing wrong with that. Im afraid of a lot
"Yeah? Like what?"
"Dying. Being alone."
"Whoa." Lucas said as a shiver ran up his spine. "Yeah, youre right. That is scary."
"I miss my Baby." Sarah whimpered softly as she buried her head in her knees.
"Well be home and warm soon enough, Sarah. Mike will be there."
"Mike and I our relationship isnt like yours. We have our ups and downs. Our relationship isnt as eventful as yours. But I like it. Mike treats me like a queen. I treat him like a king. We have fun. We have pain. But we always always have each other. Its never a question. Were not clingy or anything but we do like being around each other. A lot. And sometimes when were apart. Like right now. I really miss him. I really miss him, Lucas. Mike and I wouldnt survive what you and Storm go through. You guys are like I dunno but youre screwed up thats for sure. We need each other. We need to be with each other. We just couldnt do what you guys do."
"Do you really think hes the one? I mean I see you guys. And its like rock. Mike and Sarah. It makes me smile because you guys are so strong. So steady. It really makes me happy to see you guys together. Mikes a great guy. I love him a lot. Hes not like those other jocks you know. He doesnt care about girls. He just wants to make his Sarah happy. Thats all he thinks about. You. School. Football. In that order."
"Dont forget family. Storms high on his list. Just like June and Dade and Abby. Mike really loves them. They might doubt that soon but he does."
"Why would they doubt it?"
"Mikes hes got a few issues to deal with. One in particular that I think might cause him some strife with his family. But Id rather not talk about it. Not yet."
"You just miss him. Thats why youre thinking about him so much."
"What a way to end the day." Sarah sighed as she let out a yawn.
"Yeah, Ive had better days. And thats an understatement. Wouldnt you agree, Sarah?"
When Sarah did not answer, Lucas turned to her and reacted instantly to the distended look of pain on her face. "Sarah, Sarah, are you ok?" Lucas asked urgently as he put his arm around a hunched over Sarah.
"Im Im fine." Sarah said feigning a small smile. "I mustve just eaten something bad back at the tourney."
"You dont look so hot." Lucas said putting his arm around Sarah so her head rested on his shoulder.
"Just a bit tired thats all."
A sinking feeling of concern fell over Lucas as he noted Sarahs heavy breathing. Her eyes were closed and Lucas was doing his best to make sure she was comfortable. It didnt take long for Lucas to realize that Sarah had fallen into a light slumber. Lucas kissed her head worryingly as he breathed in the biting chill.
"Im ok, Lucas. Just really tired. And I miss Mike." Sarah said yawning again. "Do you mind if I stay like this till the ride gets here?"
"You can stay like this as long as you want." Lucas said comfortingly as he tried his best to keep Sarah warm in the increasingly cold night air. "Im not going anywhere."
* * * * * * *
"Hello." June said politely as she answered her phone.
"Yes hello, Bill "
"Excuse me?" June said sounding irritated. "Hes what?"
"Well this is news to me." June said trying to keep herself calm.
"No, I wont, Bill. I wont do any such thing until I speak to Mike myself. Do you understand me?"
"Yes, Bill. Yes. Yes there is something I can do about it. And you know I thought you would have changed by now but you do prove that some people really are stupid. I dont know what happened to you, Bill. I dont know what happened to you. But I wont let you get to Mike."
"Then Ill talk to him! But the only way youre going to get him back is if he decides to go back. And if he does then you had better remember who I am. Because if you hurt him Ill be the last person you see before they drag you off. Thats not a threat. Its a fact..."
* * * * * * *
"Oh man my head hurts." Lucas moaned as he struggled to open his eyes.
"Anyone would think youve been drinking."
"Storm?" Lucas said excitedly as he sat up.
"No." Dade said turning over on the bed so he was facing Lucas. "Its me."
"Dade, what are you doing here?"
"This is my brothers bedroom. I should be asking what YOU are doing in here."
"I was waiting for him. He still isnt back yet?" Lucas yawned as he flopped back down.
"No. Which is why Im here. Lucas where is my brother?"
"Hes in White Swan."
"You said that last night when you got back. WHERE in White Swan?"
"I dont know. In a hotel. With Ashley."
"I dont know."
"Why dont you know? Shes your girlfriend." Dade said in a notably hostile tone.
Lucas was speechless. If ever he wondered about Dades intentions, he didnt have to now. Dade was no doubt here to score a point for his brother. To right the wrong that was Lucas. Lucas knew inside him that he had nothing to lose now and his first instinct was to lash out at Dade the way he did at Sarah. That is until he remembered what had happened with Sarah after he lashed out.
"Dade. Just leave me alone ok? I dont want to get into anything with you."
"You know what your problem is, Lucas? You dont have any balls. You never know what you want because you dont have the balls to believe in what you do want. Youre flopping in every direction. Screwing over everyone who cares about you. You need to grow some balls, Lucas. Plain and simple."
"I told you to leave me alone."
"Not until you tell me what I want to know. And when weve finished I want you to get out of Storms room. You dont have a right to be in here anymore."
"I still care about him."
"Lucas, you guys arent even friends anymore. What the hell is he doing with Ashley?"
"She hates me too." Lucas frowned. "She took him with her for the night so he wouldnt have to be near me."
"I like her already."
"Dade, if all you want is to make me feel bad. Then just go ahead. But Im not going to stay in here and listen to this." Lucas said as he was just about to jump off the bed.
"Yeah you will."
"And why is that?"
"Because because Im going to cut you some slack."
"Why?" Lucas asked as he shrugged his shoulders. "Im the guy who broke your brothers heart not just once but twice."
"Because I owe you one. You helped save my life. I figure I owe you. Probably more than just cutting you some slack but its a start."
"I dont want you to cut me some slack because you owe me one. I want you to be honest with me."
"Honestly? I Im hurt. I mean I know its my brother you screwed over but I feel hurt because I believed in you. Id come to think of you as Storms other half. Almost like a brother in law. Im not disappointed for me. Im disappointed for you. Im angry at you for hurting my brother. But its more than that. By hurting him, you hurt yourself. Look at you. Youre verging on miserable. The only reason you arent miserable yet is because youre under the illusion that youre going to get Storm back. But when the time comes and you realize that hes gone. Youve lost him. There wont be anything anyone can do to ease the misery youll be in. Wait for it. Because it will come. This is one story that wont have a happy ending."
"But but we are gonna get back together." Lucas said trying to suppress his uprising emotions, unsure of whether he was trying to convince Dade more or himself.
"No." Dade said somewhat sympathetically, sensing Lucas increasing distress. "Youre not."
"Were not " Lucas said, half questioning Dade, half realizing that Dade was in fact right.
"Once bitten, twice shy. Twice bitten...game over."
"Were not getting back together." Lucas barely managed to say before he broke down in front of Dades eyes.
"Uh oh." Dade said to himself hesitantly as he watched Lucas sob to himself.
Dade sat himself against the wall next to Lucas and pulled a reluctant Lucas into his arms. He tried his best to comfort the visibly shaken and distressed Lucas but Lucas would not accept his attempts.
"This is what you wanted. Dont try to make out like you care." Lucas whimpered as he pulled himself away from Dade. "Youre right. I realize now that Storms not going to take me back. And yes now I feel miserable. But it doesnt mean Ill let someone like you be there for me. Ever since I came back you were just waiting for this. Storm hates me. And I hate you. You you spoilt shit!"
"Storm spoils you. He cares and worries about you so much it interferes with his own life sometimes. You take up so much of his time. There were so many times wed have to make adjustments to our plans just so he could spend time with you. I always took second place when it came to you! And thats not fair because I always made sure Storm came first! But if it werent for you and your stupid problems! You drag him down every time you screw up, Dade."
"But why?" Dade asked in confusion and bewilderment. "What did I do?"
"You were born. I wish you had of jumped that day. I know you meant to. Would have made my life easier if you did." Lucas snapped as he wiped his eyes with his sleeve and headed towards the door.
Dade couldnt even speak. The resounding impact of Lucas spiteful comments having their effect on Dade. His face quickly turned to one of hurt and sorrow as he nodded submissively to Lucas, hoping Lucas would leave before he broke down himself. The more he thought about what Lucas had said the more he began to hurt inside, a few single tears already falling down his cheeks.
As Lucas opened the door to leave, Dade quickly pulled Storms blanket up and over his head to hide himself. He curled into a ball and held himself under the blanket, sobbing silently with Lucas words still ringing clearly through his mind.
"Oh my god. I dont believe I just said that."
Dade felt Lucas sit down on the bed beside him and he tried his best to be silent now. His open sobbing had been in the belief that Lucas had left. He hadnt. Now Dade lay sniveling silently under the blankets unsure of what to do or say. Simply hoping that Lucas would leave.
"I dont know why I said that, Dade. Lately Ive been saying a lot of things I shouldnt. But this takes the cake. Oh man. I dont even know what to say."
"You want me to die. You wish I were dead. You wish I were never born. I screw up Storms life. Thats pretty much the size of it." Dade said still hiding under the blankets.
"Thats what I said. But I never meant it. I dont know whats wrong with me." Lucas said as he moved his hand under the covers and found Dades. Dade didnt move as Lucas interlaced his fingers through his own and squeezed tightly. "I swear I didnt mean it."
"Can I tell you a secret?" Dade asked as he pulled the cover off and sat up, looking Lucas in the eyes.
"Of course, Dade."
"Youre not the only one." Dade struggled to say as his voice began to shake. "Youre not the only one who wishes I were never born."
"Oh my god thats it isnt it? Thats why oh Dude. You have to tell me."
"No. I dont want to talk to you anymore." Dade said as he pulled the covers back over his head and began crying silently to himself beneath the covers. "Please dont talk to me. Just leave me alone."
"I think I understand a bit better now. Youre so lonely inside arent you? Marcel left you. Your father left you. Abby left you. You feel like Storms the only one who loves you. Thats why youre so dedicated to him. Your Mom oh now I really understand. If you think oh man. How long have you felt this way, Dade?"
"Shut up. You dont know. You dont know anything."
"How long have you thought June wished you were never born?"
"Since Storm was in hospital." Dade said reluctantly. "I have proof. Im not imagining it. She doesnt love me. Storm would have died to save me. He let go of the bridge before hed let go of me. Hes the only one who cares. You wish I were dead. Sometimes I wonder why I didnt just jump."
"I dont even know what to say now so Im just gonna lie down here for a bit." Lucas said as he lay down next to Dade and wrapped his arms around him. "My heads on overload right now. I just need you to feel that youre not alone. Im so sorry for what I said. I promise the last thing I want is for you to be dead. I love you, Dade. Ive never said that to you before. But I do love you."
"Promise me youll never say that to me again."
"I promise. Im so sorry. Im so sorry Dade. I love you. I do."
"Please leave me alone now. I need to be by myself."
"Im really sorry, Dade. Dont you believe me?"
"Not really. But you should think about Storm. You hurt me and it did hurt. But what about Storm? What about Ashley? If this is how much you could hurt me, then what of them? They matter more. Dont forget about them."
"They dont matter more. Im sorry but its true. Youre just as important. Im sorry, Dade. Im sorry for not saying anything before. I knew you meant to jump back on Reese Bridge. I could see it in your eyes. But I didnt have the balls to say anything to you, to Storm or to anyone. Just like you said."
"How did you know I was thinking about it?" Dade asked in surprise, his head perking up out of the covers.
"Because Ive been there before. Before Storm. After Ashley. My Dark Days. Ive been there. I know that look because Ive been that look. Ive lived that look. I never said anything to Storm about you. I never said anything to you because I didnt have the balls. I figured everything was fine. That it was just a one off thing. But someone needs to step up to the plate and say something. Storm suspects about you but doesnt believe. I dont believe I know. So tell me, Dade. Tell me whats wrong. What led to that bridge? We almost lost Dade. Losing Dade do you know what that would be like?"
"Lucas, I swear it wasnt going to happen. It was in my mind Ill admit that much but I didnt jump. I swear it. I did fall."
"I believe you. But you need to talk to someone. Im here, Dade."
"Will you please talk to someone? What about Mike? Or Storm?"
"Storm. But hes not here. And its because of you. You hurt so many people, Lucas. Even me."
"I never intended to. I swear."
"Im ok now, Lucas. Im over it. But I think you should go away and think about things. I think you should."
"Ok, Dade Ill go." Lucas said as he let go of Dade and sat up reluctantly.
Dade turned over to face Lucas as he stood up and headed toward the door. No anger existed inside Dade anymore. Just the somber remnants of hurt. He let out a deep sigh as Lucas stood holding the door open and turned back to Dade.
"Dade, please talk to me next time you see me. Itll be bad enough that Storm will pretend I dont exist. I couldnt take it if you did as well. Ill make sure you dont regret it if you do say hi." Lucas said raising a small smile that tried to distract from his watery eyes.
Dade felt a pang of sympathy for Lucas as he headed downstairs, closing the door behind him. He had a feeling inside him that this would be the last day Lucas would be a member of this household. He knew Lucas couldnt stay here if he wasnt with Storm. And he knew Lucas would leave before Storm would have a chance to.
"So this is how it ends " Dade sighed. "What a waste, Lucas. What a waste "
* * * * * * *
"Hey, Sarah. Have you heard from Storm today? Has he called you?" Mike asked as he snuggled up behind Sarah on her bed.
"Mmm no " Sarah mumbled with a yawn as she turned back into Mike and let his arms wrap around her. "Im dreading his phone call. He should be calling soon though. Ill come back with you when you go home so Ill be there when he gets back."
"Nobody knows where he is. I mean where is Storm? He hasnt called. Thats the thing with those two being split up now. I mean before you just had to ask Storm where Lucas was or Lucas where Storm was. Now when Storms gone somewhere, nobody knows where the hell he is."
"Hell be back when hes good and ready." Sarah sighed, kissing Mikes neck gently as she pulled herself into his arms more. "I missed you."
Mike smiled warmly to himself as he held Sarah in his arms, he rubbed the tip of his nose against hers and kissed her lips ever so softly. "I missed you too. Youre still tired. Go back to sleep. I wont go anywhere."
"I promise, Honey."
"I love you."
"I love you too..."
Mike held Sarah in his arms. Loving the feeling of her presence almost inside his own. Some people took for granted the very privilege of lying next to the person they loved. Not Mike. Every second to him was one he treasured. He knew Sarah was his. She would not give herself to another, nor would he. They were for each other. Thats all Mike knew. And as long as he had Sarah in his life, he would treasure it for she gave his life twice the meaning it would have otherwise. She was his anchor and stabilizer.
No matter how much Sarah loved him though, he dreaded having to tell her of his impending decision. A decision she had constantly been against. So he would enjoy these moments. Knowing there may be some time before Sarah would let him have them again.
* * * * * * *
"Hello " Lucas said rather nervously. "Anyone home?"
"Son " Mira said in disbelief as she rose from her living room chair. Mira held her hands over her face and rushed to Lucas side, embracing him unabashedly in a hug. "Son!"
"Heh." Lucas said feeling slightly uneasy as he returned the hug. "Hi."
"I knew youd come back eventually."
Lucas said nothing as Mira smothered him with her affections. Inside he felt as if he would break down any minute. His world still feeling as if it had fallen in on him. Hed lost his love. Hed lost to his mother. Here he stood a broken man. Unable to speak.
"Son?" Mira said as she looked into Lucas downcast eyes. "Sweetheart?"
"Mira Mom, I need your help."
"With what, Son? Tell me. Anything."
"You were right." Lucas said, straining to finish the words as his face distended in tear filled anguish. "I hurt people. I hurt Storm. I hurt Ashley. I didnt mean to. I didnt. But I hurt them. I hurt them a lot. Im sorry, Mom. You were right about me. I hurt them."
Mira felt a surge of guilt and remorse overcome her as she held Lucas face in her hands. She kissed Lucas cheek and wrapped her arms around him once again as Lucas began to weep softly on her shoulder. All her past anger and condemnation seemed to disappear, leaving behind only guilt and remorse. She did not want her son to have to feel this pain and she knew shed played a part in making the problem worse instead of better. The fact she was right held no importance to her, all it did was serve to make her feel guilty as she felt the pain reverberating out through her son as she held him. She continued to rub his back soothingly as they both wept. Lucas weeping as a son who needed support, love and guidance from his mother. Mira weeping as a mother who had her son back and as a mother who felt guilt for her sons current state and remorse for time lost and past actions taken against him.
"This is our new start, Son." Mira said as she rubbed Lucas back and let him rest his head on her shoulder. "I am sorry. I am sorry, I was not there for you the way you needed me to be. There is so much you dont understand about what happened with "
"Storm told me, Mom. He told me all of it."
"I will try to be a better mother to you. There was a time long ago when you would come to me if you needed me. I can change, Son. Do you think you could let me be there for you again?"
"I need you, Mom. Please help me."
"You dont know how good it is to hear you say that." Mira said with joy as she held Lucas. "Ill help you. Of course I will."
"I need to get him back, Mom. I cant breathe properly when I think about him." Lucas cried as he became increasingly frantic. "Its been too long already, Mom. I gotta get him back soon. I gotta get him back today, Mom."
"Ssshhhh its ok. Well work something out."
"I need him, Mom. I need him so bad. Please, Mom. You have to help me. Ill go crazy without him, Mom. I need him."
"Sssshh sshhh. Dont cry, Sweetheart." Mira said soothingly as she held Lucas.
"Mom, it hurts." Lucas cried, sobbing voraciously. "It hurts so much."
"I want us to put the last two years behind us, Son. Ive lost so much time. But not anymore. Thank you for coming to me. I promise you, I will do everything I can. I will be here for you, Son. I promise..."
* * * * * * *
"Mom? Everything ok?" Mike asked as he and Sarah sat down in the lounge.
June sat in her chair looking through an old set of photo albums, nodding slowly in acknowledgment to Mike. Mike walked over and knelt down beside June, sensing that things werent as ok as June wanted them to seem. Sarah stood up and moved behind Junes chair, putting her hands on Junes shoulders gently and resting them there as she leant her head on the back of Junes.
"Are you sure?" Sarah asked sincerely.
"Yeah, Mom. Whats up?"
"Mike honey theres something I want to talk to you about."
"What is it, Mom?"
"Maybe you can tell me. I got a call from your father this morning "
"Oh, Mom, I was going to tell you. I was just waiting for the right moment. Please dont be angry. Its just that with Lucas living here now, I just figured this would be best so the house wouldnt be so crowded anymore and Dad is really keen on trying to get me to give him a second chance now. Itll work out best for everyone. Dont be angry, Mom."
"Well if thats what you want." June said coolly as she stood up. "I would have appreciated you even letting me know you were even thinking about leaving instead of waiting till youd already decided. You are old enough though to make your own decisions. If this is the right choice for you then you know Ill support it. When do you move back in?"
"Well tonight I guess. That way Lucas and I can both have our rooms set up by Monday."
"Ok...ok " June sighed trying to hide her emotion as she promptly exited the room and headed towards the front door. "I Im going out for a little while. Call me on my mobile if you need anything."
"Mom are you ok?" Mike asked awkwardly, knowing that hed probably made Junes day even worse than it already was.
June just raised a small smile and said nothing as she closed the front door behind her. Sarah shook her head and walked to the front door, looking out it to see if June were ok. She could tell by the tired hurt look on Junes face as she hopped into her car that Mikes sudden news had definitely taken its toll.
"Great work, Mitchell. You never even told me youd decided on this. And what about June?" Sarah said spitefully as she watched June drive away. "You really handled that one well didnt you?"
"Shut up, Sarah. I feel bad enough as it is. If youre gonna give me grief you may as well go home. If youre going to stay then help me pack. Either way cut me some slack will you?"
"Like you cut June some slack? The woman who saved your ass? The woman whose fed and sheltered your ungrateful ass for nearly four months now. You just broke her heart, Mike. Hope youre happy."
"Thanks for the moral support, Sarah. Dont let the door hit you on your way out."
"Screw you. I dont have to leave. This isnt your house anymore. I have just as much right to be here as you do."
"Why are you being such a bitch?" Mike asked as he walked up to Sarah and shrugged his shoulders in bewilderment.
"Why are you being such an asshole? I thought you actually gave a shit about June. Now youre just leaving her as if shes past her used by date and you never even talked to her about any of this. Do you have any idea how she feels right now? Or did that not really come into your things to consider list?"
"I am doing what I think is right ok!"
"And going back to your fathers is really the right thing to do is it?" Sarah said forcibly frustrated. "Youre screwing over everyone who cares about you! How stupid is that? Do you have any idea what youre doing? Or have the thousand times Ive told you just gone straight through that thick head of yours!?"
"I DONT KNOW!" Mike yelled angrily, his eyes welling up with tears of frustration. "Just get out of my face, Sarah! You dont know anything!"
"I know youre being stupid!"
"So Im stupid now am I!?"
"YOU ARE WHEN YOU ACT LIKE YOUR FATHER!"
"AAAAHHH!" Mike yelled as his pent up anger let itself loose and his fist shot out.
Sarah moved her head instantly as Mikes fist flew past her and smashed into the wall, inches away from her head. She let out a sharp hysterical scream and covered her face in her hands as she slid down the wall and leant her head on her knees.
"Get off me!" Sarah shrieked frantically. "Get away from me!"
"Sarah, Im sorry! I was never going to hit you. I only hit the wall. Id never hurt you."
"Dont touch me!" Sarah cried, rocking herself gently.
"Oh my god " Mike gasped as he stumbled backwards.
"Ive been waiting for this for so long. Waiting on edge to see if youd lash out and be like him. And you are " Sarah cried as she shook her head, tears rolling down her cheeks as she held her face in her hands. "Youre just like him! I feel so numb inside, I dont know what to think."
"Sarah, Im so sorry. I wasnt going to hit you. I was just so angry so I hit the wall."
"And what about next time? Will it be the wall next time too? You couldve killed me. Look at the damage you did to that wall." Sarah said as she pointed to the large smashed in hole. "Imagine if that were me? Im getting out of here." Sarah said shooting to her feet as she rushed to the door.
"Sarah, wait!" Mike yelled jumping up after her, grabbing her arms to hold her back.
"DONT TOUCH ME!" Sarah yelled hysterically as she jumped away from Mike. "Dont touch me!"
"Sarah, please dont leave me. I need you. Ill do anything you tell me to." Mike pleaded.
Sarah didnt answer him, she just opened the front door and Mike grabbed her hand, falling to his knees as he kissed Sarahs hands.
"Please!" Mike begged, crying tears of desperation as he held Sarahs hand to his face and wailed. "Please! Please dont leave me, Sarah. I cant lose you. Please, Sarah. Please. Please dont leave me. I love you. I love you. Dont leave me please. Please, Sarah. Ill do anything you tell me to if you just dont leave me. Youre my whole life, Sarah. Ill give you everything Ive got or ever have if you just dont walk out that door. Please, Sarah."
Sarah leaned her head against the door and paused for a moment before she gently pushed the door shut. She lowered herself down against the door slowly, Mike still holding her hand and staring at her wide eyed and teary. She shakily pulled Mike towards her and wrapped her arms around him. Mike held his head against her chest as he sobbed into her, holding her as tightly as he could. Sarah began softly rocking Mike in her arms as she kissed the top of his head. "The only reason Im still here right now is because Im absolutely crazy about you." Sarah said letting out a tiny smile, her eyes still red and watery. "I think I should still go though. I just need to think. Call me before you pack up all your gear and Ill come back and help you. And we can talk. Just dont forget to call me."
"I wont." Mike stammered as he buried his head in Sarahs arms. "I wont "
* * * * * * *
Dade sat at the edge of Lake Herren, the water gently lapping at his toes. His head rested on his knees as his mind drifted in deep thoughts and contemplations. Hed been sitting here for over an hour now. Not even noticing the time pass by or the people around him who were taking advantage of the sunny Sunday and the inviting waters of Lake Herren. Nothing around him seemed to register.
"Huh?" Dade said in surprise as he snapped from his reverie. "Oh, hi Natalie."
Dade turned and raised a smile at the unexpected guest who sat down beside him with a large smile on her face. Natalie Marceau had been on Dades long list of crushes, slotting in just before Claire Carlyle and Marcel Lewis entered the list. Shed also at one point been Dades on again off again girlfriend thanks to his brother setting the two of them up on a date around a year earlier. A blonde haired, blue eyed girl with a slight frame and a fairly well known reputation. Dade found her to be nice enough but also found her to be lacking slightly in the depth department. The physical attraction was there for Dade but as he soon learnt, thats about all there was as far as a relationship was concerned.
"Fancy meeting you here." Smiled Dades blonde haired blue eyed former girlfriend. "You here by yourself?"
"Yeah. Just having some time out by myself. You know." Dade shrugged as his eyes turned back to the water.
"You look good."
"Thanks." Dade smirked happily.
"You seem a little distracted today. Everything ok?"
"Sure. Everythings fine."
"Are you and Claire having problems?"
"Me and Claire?" Dade said letting out a small laugh. "No, were not. Were not even going out."
"Were just friends. Weve never been anything more. Just friends."
"So does that mean youre single?"
"You know, I still dont have a date for the fundraiser ball next week."
"Really?" Dade said flatly, deciding not to bite at the not so subtle hint. "Thats too bad."
"I was kind of hoping youd take me."
"I was thinking of going stag actually. Besides, I wouldnt be very good company. Ill be busy most of the night helping out."
"Youre the only guy I know in our grade who can pull off going stag somewhere. And youre still so cool. Because you dont really care what people think. But you know how popular you are. I dont think I could pull off your attitude. I do admire it though."
"You never used to." Dade grinned. "All you ever wanted before was to eat me up and show me off."
"You were my first though. My only actually."
"Well you already know you were my first too."
"Youre different now. Youve put on more muscle, I can tell." Natalie said as she quite obviously ran her fingers up Dades bare side and arm. "Youre even hotter than you were last year. Your hairs grown out some. It looks really good."
"You know if youre here to keep my ego in check, its not working." Dade smiled. "And yeah Ive put on about thirty pounds of muscle in a year. Ive been doing a lot of extra strength training with Mike and Josh and some fitness training with Storm and Sarah."
"I know. Just because you stopped talking to me doesnt mean I dont still pay attention. I saw you in the dragon boats yesterday. You looked really good."
"Thank you." Dade said sincerely. "Its nice for a guy to hear that every now and then."
"I could tell you more often if youd like."
"Youre not half obvious are you, Marceau."
"Dade, I know you want to be by yourself but why dont you come over with me for a little while. Were all just having fun over there. Theres some food. Volleyball. Id really like it if you came. Roberts there too. You guys could hang out."
"Robert and I arent really friends anymore."
"I know you like hanging with the older guys and girls like Joshua Barrett and Claire but why dont you try hanging out with us for a while. Might be a nice change. And you look like you could do with some fun. You seem really tense."
"Thats probably because I am."
"Maybe I can help." Natalie said as she gently placed her fingers on Dades shoulders and began kneading them gently. "Wow, you really are tense, Dade. Is everything ok?"
"Not really. And no offence, youre the last person Id want to talk to about it." Dade said as he closed his eyes and tried to let himself relax under Natalies treatment.
"None taken." Natalie said, a tone of concern evident in her voice. "You know, Dade I think the last thing you need to be right now is alone. My sister always says, a somber soul alone is a somber soul alone. A somber soul with friends, makes it to the end. So why dont you take me up on my offer and let me look after you for a few hours. Hang out with us for the rest of the day. Besides it couldnt hurt, could it?"
"No I dont suppose it would hurt." Dade smiled as he let Natalie take him by the hand and help him to his feet. "Lead the way."
"My pleasure." Natalie smiled broadly. "Ill make sure you have a good time, Dade Marcus. No strings attached. Just friends hanging out."
"Sounds like fun."
* * * * * * *
"Sweetheart, what happened here?"
"Mom, Im so sorry. I didnt mean to do it."
"What happened, Mike?"
"I I got into an argument with Sarah and I "
"Did you hit Sarah?"
"No, I didnt."
"Did you want to?"
"Did you hit the wall?"
"I was angry "
"She told me I was turning out like my father. She was right. I dont have any excuses, Mom."
"Where was Sarah when you hit the wall, Mike?"
"Standing next to it "
"Where is she now?" June asked both concerned for Sarah and angry at Mike.
"Shes at home."
"This isnt going to happen again, Mike. Not in my house. Not under my roof."
"Dont worry. Ill have my gear out by tonight."
"No, you wont. Youre not going anywhere."
"Listen to me!" June said surprising herself with the force in which she spoke. "This is not going to happen again! Do you understand?"
"You are going to go down to the hardware store and get everything you need to fix that wall and you are going to fix it yourself. The equipment you need to buy will be taken out of your allowance. That wall is going to look even better when youre finished then it did before you punched a crater into it."
"Yes, Mom." Mike said submissively.
"And when youre fixing that wall. I want you to think about how Sarah felt when she was standing there with a fist flying at her. I want you to think about how she feels inside. And I want you to think about how you feel inside. This isnt going to happen again, Mike. And do you know why?"
"Because Im going to help you." June said lowering her tone softly as she put her hands on Mikes shoulders. "Well stop this before it even begins. You are not your father, Mike. You are your own man. You decide."
"I love you, Mom." Mike said leaning his head on Junes shoulders and wrapping his arms around her. "Im sorry."
"You have to remember that the things you do dont just affect yourself. But also the people who matter most to you. People like Sarah. And me. If you dont learn from your mistakes youll be set to repeat them. You cant let yourself become like your father. For your sake and more especially for Sarahs. You have to think about her."
"I know what I have to do..."
* * * * * * *
"Thats my name." I said, not bothering to turn around and see who had spoken to me.
"May I sit with you?"
I soon recognized the voice as Mira Sheridan. My second favorite person. Yeah right. Well to be honest, I didnt really dislike Mira. We actually had always gotten on but I didnt like the way she treated me well and then shit all over Lucas. It just didnt seem right to me. So I appreciated being able to spend as little time with her than I had to. I couldnt in all honesty be happy with myself being on good terms with someone who had little to no respect for the person I cared most for.
Mira sat down on the park bench beside me as I stared out towards the waters of Lake Herren and the mountains off behind them. Night had well and truly set in now but the air was unusually warm which was unexpected since the nights had been so cool lately.
"I sometimes come here to think myself."
"I like to come here." I said as I took in a large breath
of fresh air. "It helps me relax. Sometimes I need to think. Sometimes I just like
watching the water or the view in the distance. Theres so much beauty in Merlow, you
might as well appreciate it."
"So tell me. Is this coincidence or intentional?"
"Fortunate coincidence. I come here to meet John. We often have our quiet time together here on Sunday evenings. Unfortunately he is out of town on business but I decided to come here anyway. I needed to do some thinking of my own."
"Well its probably time I headed home anyway. I havent checked in for the weekend and theyll no doubt be wondering where I am soon. So Ill leave you to your thoughts." I said nodding my head as I stood to my feet.
"Please stay. Just a while longer. There is something I would like to speak to you about."
"Very well." I said sitting back down. "I could do with just a bit more fresh air. Theres something different about the air in Merlow. Of course my opinion is probably biased but I can tell when Im home just by breathing the air here."
"Your opinion is well substantiated." Mira smiled. "I think an intelligent young man as yourself will not find it too difficult to work out what I would like to speak to you about."
"Starts with L, ends with ass. I mean as."
"Still bitter I see."
"Slightly." I said rather short and sarcastically.
"Well, I wanted to thank you. I should have been more supportive of your relationship with my son. I was not. And for that I sincerely apologize. I have much to make up to both you and my son especially. You have had a very positive impact on my son and been a very good influence. Hes matured through you. He still has some growing up to do but thanks to you he will get there a lot faster. My son has come to a few realizations about himself and that is no doubt in part because of your influence on him. He came to me today. Hes coming home."
"Yeah? Good for him. Id advise you that now is probably not a good time to speak to me about your son. Unless youre ready to see the bitter side of Storm. I hear hes not a very nice person."
"You would be surprised at what I am able to handle."
"I imagine you are rather happy with the way the events have played out. Lucas went running home to Mommy just like you wanted. He lost Ashley. He lost me. Id say that would make you one happy screwed up controlling bitch of a mother, what about you?"
"I will let that comment slide. Do not repeat it."
"This conversation is over. You can tell your fucked up pratt of a son to stay away from me lest I whack him upside the head a few times." I said forcibly as I promptly stood up and began walking away.
"Storm. Is it easier to hate my son than to admit you still have some feelings toward him?"
"A lot easier." I said flatly. "And since when have you been so high on love advice?"
"Since the moment I realized how much my son still loves you."
"Too bad it took you so long to get with the program huh Mira? Goodbye. Remember to tell Lucas to stay away from me and my family. Zero contact. I dont want anything to do with him. Just keep him out of my life and well all live happily ever after."
"Bitterness will not help you heal. I was bitter for a very long time. It has done me more harm than good. I believe you already know what bitterness can do to you. How much time did you lose with your father? Was all that lost time worth it?"
"No but that was different."
"Hes my father. I have to forgive him."
"And what is Lucas?"
Shed gotten me this time. For once I didnt have a quick comeback to shut her up. I turned my head away from her in slight disgust with myself for letting her get the best of me. What is Lucas to me? If I had of said nothing it would have been a lie. No matter what, I didnt think I could resort to a bold faced lie to save face or win points. She asked the question. I had to answer.
"He is my soul mate." I said flatly. "Somehow I still believe that. But I no longer believe that I am his."
"Then why can you not forgive him?"
"Because he wont change. Somewhere, sometime, somehow, hell do it again."
"How do you know?"
"Because I know Lucas. Better than he knows himself. He hurts people. He doesnt even realize it. But he does. He cant help it."
"How do you think your mother felt when you were in hospital? When she knew you were in pain."
"Worried I guess. Whats that got to do with anything?"
"Its the same way I felt today when Lucas came home. He hurt in ways Ive never seen him hurt before. I understand your feelings of bitterness toward him. But if you had seen him today there would be no doubt in your mind of the way he feels about you. He hurts without you. The state he was in made even someone like me realize how he truly feels about you. I believe you are his special one. And I beg you to give him another chance."
"I think hell just froze over. I never would have guessed youd be saying you believe in me and Lucas. Its a bit LATE, Lady! And everything Ive just said still stands. I want him out of my life. So he hurts, so what. Its about time he did the hurting for once. Now for the last time, Goodbye."
"Remember this day. Remember it well. For it will never come again. Goodbye, Storm."
* * * * * * *
Sarah sat at her usual diner table waiting for Mike. She hadnt seen him since their incident and had the feeling that Mike was avoiding her. More than likely thinking that Sarah was still angry with him. Although Sarah knew she felt more concern than anger right now.
Sarah raised her head, catching Mike as he strode into the diner. Their eyes caught one anothers and Sarah caught the somber look on Mikes face as he walked towards her. Her entire world seemed to go into slow motion as Mike pulled the ring Sarah had bought him off his finger and slid it into the center of the table. He sat down opposite her and neither said a word as Sarah refused to accept the ring that was meant to signify their distant unification.
Sarahs head told her to take the ring and leave Mike before the situation escalated into one a smart girl wouldnt let herself be taken into. Still her heart couldnt quite let her agree with that reasoning. As soon as Mikes fist hit the wall next to her shed already made the decision in her head to leave. Now she just had find the strength to follow through with it. However she never expected Mike to beat her to the punch, metaphorically.
"Im not real good with words. I know you love me. I know you do. I know you want to help me. I know you do. I know youre scared. I know you want to leave me. But I know your heart wont let you. I know that head inside you is telling you to run as far as you can away from me. And Ive always respected your wisdom, Sarah. I know you want this." Mike said as he nudged the ring into the touch of Sarahs fingers. "But you dont want to abandon me. Ill be ok, Sarah. I dont want to hurt you. I dont want you to be afraid. So just please dont say anything and let me do this for you."
Mike feigned a small smile at her before he slowly stood up and walked away. Sarah lowered her head in numb shock and surprise as she looked at the ring that lay inches from her fingers. Even as she watched Mike leave, her disbelief still overwhelmed her. She didnt know quite how she felt at this moment. And she knew it wouldnt sink in until she realized that Mike had just said goodbye
* * * * * * *
I stepped up to our front door and took a deep breath before I moved my hand to the door handle. As I entered, I called out to see if anyone was home but to no reply. Obviously no one was home.
"What the hell is this?" I asked in shock as I noticed a large gaping hole in the passage wall just beyond the doorway entry. "Somebodys bashed this in."
"HELLO!" I yelled as I ran into the lounge to check if anyone was home. "MOM! Are you ok?"
I ran upstairs and straight to Moms room to see if she was home. "Mom? Dade!" I yelled as I continued to his room.
Still no one home. However, I was surprised when I opened Mikes door to find that he indeed was home. He just sat motionless at the edge of his bed, his eyes cast towards the ground. His face showed no sign of emotion or even acknowledgment of my presence.
"Storm." Mike said with hesitation as his eyes rose to meet mine, a look of nervousness and almost fear in his eyes. "Youre back "
"What is it, Mike? Whats happened?"
"Youre going to be angry."
"If you think so then I probably am. But I still want to know."
"Have you spoken to anyone else since you got back?"
"Youre the first."
"Well then I guess Im the bearer of bad news. Im gonna say this all at once. Your jeep was stolen. Sarah and I broke up. And I made that hole in the wall when Sarah was standing next to it."
"You hit Sarah?"
"No. I didnt. But I could have, Storm."
"My jeep was stolen?"
"You and Sarah broke up?"
"Just a little while ago."
"I think I need to sit down." I said as I took a seat next to Mike and put my arm around him. "You thought I was going to be angry. Didnt you?"
"You mean you arent? Not even about the jeep?"
"Theres a saying. But I dont remember how it goes. I only remember it includes the line the wisdom to know what you cant change or something along those lines. I cant bring the jeep back. Ill have to think about that later when I talk to Sarah. Are you scared of me or something?"
"Sarahs your best friend. I knew youd be angry. Or at the very least youd be disappointed in me. You are the man of the house."
"Did you think Id hit you or something? Or that Id start a fight?"
"I dont know. Weve fought before. But it wouldnt be fighting. It would just be you kicking my ass. I wouldnt have blamed you if you were angry." Mike said still keeping his eyes away from me as his voice began to shake. "Its because of you, Storm that Im here. You let me be a part of this family. I let you down. If youre not angry, I know that youre at least disappointed."
"Did you actually hit Sarah?"
"No. But I was so close, Storm. Within a second it was just like something inside me just snapped. I thought I was better than that. I thought I wouldnt be like my father. But I am."
"Ill go and talk to Sarah after this. But first, I want to make sure youre ok. You do understand what youve done, dont you?"
"I know." Mike said as he nodded his head in agreement.
"Look, Mike. Were all here. You know that. Ill help you. You did the right thing by Sarah. This will take time. But Ill be here for all of it. You need time to sort yourself out. Sarah will be ok. Shes strong. Resilient."
"You have no idea how strong she is." Mike smiled. "I know shell be ok. Especially with you keeping an eye on her."
"Roger that, Captain." I said nodding my head. "Will do. Are you ok?"
"Not really." Mike said faking a smile. "It hasnt really sunken in yet. But it will soon."
"You wanna crash in my room tonight? Im gonna go talk to Sarah and Ill see you when I get back. Its my turn to watch out for you now."
"Thanks, Storm." Mike sighed as he flopped back onto the bed and splayed his arms either side of himself. "I wish you didnt have to go at all. Its starting to hit me now."
"As I knew it would." I said as I put my hand over Mikes and held it firmly in my own. "I promise Ill be back soon. Then Ill be all yours."
"Ill need you the next few days, Storm. Youre the only person I can talk to."
"You mean Im the only guy you can cry with." I said smiling. "Its my honor. Ill be here for you. You know it."
"You better go now." Mike said nudging me off his bed with one arm and leaving the other draped over his eyes. "Before it hits. Hurry back."
"I will, Bro." I said as I squeezed Mikes hand and stood up. "I love you."
"Love you, Storm."
"Be back soon."
"Hey, Storm "
"Im Im afraid."
"The future. Everythings different now, Storm. I can feel it. Its as if everything up till now didnt mean anything because everything has been wiped. Were not the same group of friends we used to be. There are no couples anymore. Theres no Marcel anymore. Dades drifting. You and Lucas and me and Sarah. Everythings changing."
"One of the few true constants in life is change. Were growing up. Growing apart. Changing. Its life. Our Pack isnt what it used to be. Weve all been burned. These are the ashes."
"If theres supposed to be a phoenix in all this. I dont see it."
"Thats because you ARE it. We all are."
"Am I going to live happily ever after, Storm?"
"Thats up to you, Mike." I said as I opened the door to leave. "Think about where you are in your life. You can do one of two things. Feel sorry for yourself. Or use this as an opportunity to make yourself better and stronger. Use whats happening now to your advantage. I know you can do it. Im doing that very same thing. Theres a positive to every situation. You just have to look hard enough and you have to want to see it. Its hard to break a cycle, Mike. But you can do it. You will do it. I believe in you. Ill see you on the flipside, Bro."
"Thanks, Bro." Mike smiled. "See you on the flipside "
* * * * * * *
Coming Soon - SF23: TBD*
I'd like to thank everyone who emailed me their supportive comments after the last chapter, by email or on the StormNation.Com Board. It's much appreciated. As you can tell, there are a lot of ashes in this chapter. And a lot of burnt bridges. Also even though this is a second parter it was not meant to bring resolution to the issues raised in SF21. It was meant to bring a bit of focus to characters who weren't in the first part in that big a way. Ie. Mike, Sarah and Dade. And to carry on the theme of change that seems to be going through Merlow right now. The process is not over. It's just beginning. Thanks for stopping by. Hope to see ya around. Until next time...Stay Tuned for SF23: FlipSide and send me a note** to let me know what you thought of Chapter 22: The Phoenix Process II