By SF Writer
Copyright 2003  Stormnation, All rights reserved.

Storm Front 23: FlipSide

* * * * * * *

The bell signaling the end of the school day rang with a sudden piercing cry, allowing students all throughout Merlow High to jump out of their seats and head home for the day. However in Mr. Pearce’s last period Social Studies class, one student remained seated.

"Mike, everything ok?" Bryan Pearce asked as he leaned against Mike’s desk.

"Yes, Sir." Mike said with little conviction.

"What is it? Study? Home? The game this weekend? Girl?"

"How about all of the above." Mike sighed as he laboriously threw his books into his bag.

"Look, Mike. I know about the situation with your father. I’ve been there myself so if you ever need someone to talk to."

"I know you have, Sir. Everyone does. I guess that’s kind of why I stayed behind." Mike said anxiously as he held his hand over his stomach as if that would stop it from churning. "I think…"

"You think what, Mike?"

"I think I need help. I need someone to talk to. Someone to understand what I’m going through. I think if I don’t get help, I’m going to lose control of my whole life and everything and everyone in it. Will you please help me?"

"I’m no counselor but I have a good ear and a sound mind. And for the next hour, I’m all yours." The teacher said comfortingly.

The fairly young teacher, still in his mid twenties and an alumnus of Merlow High, motioned Mike to take a seat at the front of the class. He pulled a thermos out from under his desk and motioned towards Mike.

"I have some chicken soup here with your name on it." Mr. Pearce said as he handed a cup of the warm soup to Mike. "It’ll help calm your nerves. Now tell me where you want to begin."

"I don’t know where I should begin."

"How about starting off by telling me where all your anger comes from. You’re collected on the outside but you have a lot of anger inside. If you don’t release it somehow, it’s going to fester and explode. Are you angry at your father?"


"Is that all?"


"Who else are you angry at? What else are you angry at?"

"Myself. For taking it all these years. I feel so stupid sometimes."

"You love your father don’t you." Mr. Pearce said as more of an observation than a question.

"Very much."

"You stuck with him because you thought he’d change."

"I wanted him to…and he said he would. But he never did." Mike sighed regretfully, his face somber and disappointed.

"When did it start, Mike?"

"When I was seven is the first time I can really remember. All I can remember is that I smiled at him one day and he just started beating me. He said I looked like my mother too much and it reminded him of the past. At first he tried to rationalize what he’d done. But as time wore on, he just did it because he felt like it I think. He’d get drunk and I’d lock myself in my room and he’d just come in with his belt. Those times I hated him so much but then when he’d be off the bottle he’d always be nice to me and make me feel sorry for him. I fell for it every time."

"Until the last time…"

"The last time just pushed me over the edge. I couldn’t handle it and I was in so much pain, I thought he’d broken my ribs. I ran out of the house and just kept running. In the rain. In the cold. He beat me so bad that night, he was so angry. I thought he might have put me in hospital. But I could never bring myself to fight back. I don’t know why I never fought back or did anything."

"Has he ever sent you to hospital before?"

"A few years ago he did. He cracked two of my ribs, broke my arm and gave me a minor concussion. I said I fell off the roof and landed awkwardly. I always tried to cover for him."


"Because I loved him. He was my only real family. My real Mom died when I was young. I thought if I told on him or fought back that he’d leave me and then I’d have no one." Mike said as he held his face in his hands and sighed mournfully. "I never even told my Mom…I mean Dr. Marcus that he was really the one who put me in hospital. She’d never forgive herself if she knew. She’s always tried to watch out for me even though I’m not her blood."

"So now you’re living with Dr. Marcus. Has that changed your life at all?"

"You have no idea. She saved me, she really did. I owe her more than she knows. But I still have all this anger hanging over me. All my past and history still haunts me. I don’t know how to deal with it. I almost hit my girlfriend. I’m a passive guy. I don’t even like to fight. I’d rather use it on the field. But after what happened with Sarah, I’m scared man. I don’t know what to do."

"Talking to me is a great start. Admitting you need help is another great start. It’s going to take time, Mike but you’re a champion. You know you needed help and that’s the most important thing and I respect you for that. I’m going to help you, Mike. I know some people who can help you if you want but only if you want. Now I want you to sit back and finish that soup while I do some talking. Then you’re going to talk some more. And we’re going to keep doing this until you finally start feeling some release. Thank you for trusting me enough to come to me. It means a lot. I’m always pleased to help my students. And you knew you needed it. You’ll get through this, Mike. You’ll get through this."


* * * * * * *


"Come in!" June yelled from the living room as she heard a knock at the door. "The door’s open!"

"Hello, June."

"Daniel? What are you doing here?" June said feeling a little caught off guard by the father of their three children’s appearance at her doorstep, yet still managing to feign a polite smile. "I wasn’t expecting you."

"Would you believe I was just in the neighborhood and thought I’d stop in?" Daniel Marcus Sr. said flashing a well meaning and sincere smile.

"Merlow isn’t in the neighborhood for you."

"I have a week completely free. I wanted to spend it here in Merlow if you don’t mind. Not in the house of course but I want to spend some time with Daniel and Dade."

"You know how he gets when you call him Daniel." June said smiling to herself. "He’s all Storm now, you have to respect that."

"Not just in name either." Daniel said giving a mock look of distress at the thought of his son’s temperament. "But he’s a good kid."

"A good kid who just happens to be a very fine young man now." June said with pride in her eyes. "I’m sure they’d both love to spend time with you. Where are you staying?"

"The Lakeside Lodge. Room 329."

"I’ll be sure to tell the boys. I wish I could spend more time with Abby. It’s just so hard to get away from the job."

"I know exactly what you mean. We haven’t been ideal parents, June. But I intend to make up for that in the near future. How’s Mike doing?"

"Don’t ask. That story will take time and a cup of coffee. Neither of which I have right now unfortunately. Work calls." June said as Daniel helped her with her coat.

"Perhaps I can take a raincheck on that coffee?"

"Sounds good. Lunch tomorrow. Feel free to make yourself at home. It did once belong to both of us after all. The house should be filling up in about twenty minutes. Good luck." June smiled as she instinctively leaned forward and kissed Daniel on the cheek before she headed for the door.

"Thanks…" Daniel said surprised at June’s openness with him.

"Sorry about that." June said blushing. "I don’t know what came over me. Old habits I guess."

"Yeah…" Daniel said trying his best to suppress his own blush. "I know what you mean."

"I’ll see you later, Daniel."

"Bye, June." Daniel said closing the door behind June as he watched her get into her car and drive away, a warm reminiscing feeling passing over him.


* * * * * * *


Sarah stood proudly at the door of Mr. Pearce’s Social Studies room, listening to the conversation going on inside. Her eyes were just slightly watery and her lips were pursed in a proud smile.


"Lucas." Sarah said quickly wiping her eyes as she stepped away from the door and smiled at Lucas.

"What’s wrong?" Lucas asked as he put his hand on Sarah’s shoulder.

"Nothing’s wrong. I’m just so proud of my baby. He’s so wonderful. I knew I picked the right guy. He’s so incredible, I don’t know how I ever could have doubted him."

"Mike? What’s he doing?" Lucas asked surprised.

"Admitting he needs help. His heart is in the right place, Lucas. I just wish I could be there for him but he’s completely locked me out of his life now. He thinks he’s protecting me. Saying he doesn’t want to hurt me and that I’m better off without him right now. He’s full of shit. Damn Marcus influence. Now more than ever I know I need to be with him." Sarah said wiping her eyes even more as she let out a few stray tears. "Look at me, I’m going soft here."

"It’s ok, Sarah. We can be there for each other. You and Mike will be together again I just know. You’re meant for each other."

"What about Storm? Is he still freezing you out?" Sarah asked as she accepted a kleenex from Lucas and blew her nose. "I haven’t spoken to him lately. He’s been avoiding me."

"He does that sometimes. Right now he’s still angry at me. I’m trying to respect his wishes to leave him alone but it’s so hard for me. I just miss him so bad. I miss living there with him. I miss talking to him. I miss everything. But I’m trying to adapt. I know this is what he wants. I’m trying."

"It’s hard being us isn’t it?" Sarah said softly as her eyes fell to the ground in deep thought.

"Only every day including public holidays. Can I walk you home?"

"I’d like that. I just wanted to make sure he was ok. He doesn’t know I still watch out for him. I think I always will."

"I know what you mean. They can’t expect us to not want to be there for them."

"Come on, let’s go home." Sarah said putting her arm around Lucas’ shoulder as they headed down the now largely empty hallway and made for home.


* * * * * * *


Dade began his long walk home; purposely making sure to go the longer route and making sure no one he knew saw him. He didn’t much feel like any company right now. All he wanted to see was the shoreline of Lake Herren. The route he was walking would take him around the edge of the vast lake through the bay behind Sarah’s house.

Right now a myriad of thoughts entered Dade’s head as he walked wistfully along, stopping occasionally to skim a stone along the surface of the lake. Even though time had passed since Marcel had left again, Dade still had a lingering sense of emptiness that still haunted him. Although Marcel wasn’t the only reason for Dade feeling this way, it was a big factor. Another was the seeming lack of connection between himself and Storm lately. Ever since the incident at Reese Bridge, Storm seemed too wrapped in his own life and problems to hang out or spend time with Dade like they usually did. And this was one time when he could really have used his brother. Dade sighed to himself and wished Storm were there right now but he knew he’d already be at the Dojo teaching a junior class before the main classes began.

Dade tried his best to pull himself out of the funk he seemed to be in right now but it didn’t seem to do any good. Skimming stones along the water didn’t seem to be making him feel any better either.

"Maybe I should just call myself, Blue." Dade said frowning to himself. "Shake it off, Dade. You’re being a dickweed."

"Why are you being a dickweed?" Sarah asked as she approached Dade, Lucas flanking her right side.

"Oh. Hi, Sarah. No reason." Dade said as a sinking feeling came over him as he realized he’d been found by at least one of the people he least wanted to be found by; Lucas.

Dade eyed Lucas up awkward and nervously. Lucas returned the look with an uncertain acknowledgment. Unsure himself of what to say to Dade or whether he should say anything at all. Sarah meanwhile looked back and forth between each of them and frowned realizing the tension in the air.

"I gotta get home." Dade said with nervousness in his voice. "Bye."

"Uhh ok then. Bye, Dade." Sarah said bewildered as Dade quickly walked away slinging his bag over his shoulder.

Sarah stood with a huge disappointed frown on her face. Her eyes were fixed on the back of Dade’s rapidly disappearing figure. Lucas saying nothing the whole time.

"That was weird." Sarah said finally. "And really, really awkward. I hate that."

"You think?" Lucas said sarcastically.

"You’re getting bitter and sarcastic in your old age, Sheridan. Does he hate me?"

"No. He hates me."


"I told him I wished he were dead."

"Then I can see why he hates you." Sarah said as she began walking again. "I’ll talk to him later."

"At least he’ll talk to you. He barely acknowledges me. Can’t say I blame him to be honest."

"How the hell did we all get so fuc…messed up? What happened to all of us? We can’t even be friends now?" Sarah said holding her hands up as she awaited Lucas’ long delayed answer.

"I don’t know, Sarah. I used to be ever the eternal optimist. But…sometimes you have to know when to give up." Lucas said as he shrugged his shoulders and said no more.


* * * * * * *


Today I’d had to replace Sensei Takada and instruct the Junior and Senior classes while Marty Lee and I both took the intermediate. I’d done this before but today seemed more real. Because the other times I’d lead the class, Takada had been there watching over me. Today he trusted me to do it on my own. Granted of course he had no choice since his only daughter was going into labor with his first grandchild but still I felt honored to be given the responsibility.

Life had been weird for me lately. I’d become strangely placid. I didn’t feel as angry or as passionate in my thoughts about Lucas anymore. It’s like I really just didn’t give a damn anymore. Things didn’t seem as big a deal as they used to. That actually scared me at first because I knew if I didn’t feel passionate about something, then it obviously didn’t mean as much to me. Or at least that’s what I told myself.

Anyway, I’m kinda feeling good right now. Sure my friendships are screwed up but I’m happy. Happy or in denial. I’ll choose happy for now. So right now I’ve just finished leading our last training session for tonight and have everybody in formation in front of me awaiting my final comments.

"The Intermix is this Saturday. It’s being held in Hamilton at the Templeview Stadium. If anyone needs a ride. Don’t ask me." I said grinning mischievously. "I’ll be hitchhiking."

"Anyway." I continued, my light hearted sarcasm having it’s intended effect on my attentive fellow students. "This is one of the first big tournaments for us this year. Representing us this Saturday is Sarah Leo. I’m sure she’d appreciate it if you turned up this weekend and gave your support. I know I would. Aside from that we also have grading coming up in a few weeks and we’ll also begin working towards the next few tournaments coming soon. Of course I don’t need to remind any of you about the Cross Regionals coming up. It’s the big one. Which as you all know will be held at the soon to be completed, Merlow SuperDome. You all put in a good training today. Sensei Takada will be back on Thursday. See you then." I said bowing as everyone else followed suit and then quickly dispersed.

"You’re evil, Storm." Marty Lee said approaching me, his face flustered and his breath heavy. "Pure evil."

"Yes I am. Enjoy the class?"

"Loved it." Marty Lee said with a broad grin. "You’re a natural leader. Or maybe I should say dictator."

"You’re just barely in my good books." I said grinning wickedly. "Don’t tempt fate now."

"Don’t worry, I won’t. Great class." Marty Lee said winking at me before he headed off to the showers.

I took a deep breath, sighing happily to myself. Life seemed to finally be getting back on track. I could honestly say that I had no enemies. No Marty Lee’s. No Brad’s. Nobody. Both Brad and Marty Lee were now people I could actually have a civilized conversation with. My jeep had been stolen. I’d lost my boyfriend. But things were good. At least I felt like they were good right now.

That is of course until I think about my lack of close confidants right now. Sure I had a lack of enemies but I also had a lack of friends. Or at least a lack of best friends. Out of all the people I’d been hanging out with lately, not one of them were Sarah, Mike, Lucas or… or even Dade.

"Hey where’s Dade?" I asked Wendell with concern as I realized what I’d just thought. "I just realized I didn’t see him in here tonight."

"He was here. Didn’t you see him?"

"I guess I didn’t."

"He was at the back most of the time. Seemed pretty quiet tonight."

"Where is he now?"

"He’s probably in the showers."

"Ok thanks, Wendell. Listen, you’re an excellent competitor. A great athlete. You’re honest and you have integrity. I expect to see you make the Cross Regionals Team this year." I said patting Wendell on the shoulder. "But just keep working on your forward defensive stance."

"Thanks, Boss." Wendell said with a smile before he too headed off to the showers.

"Well, you’re looking happy for once." Sarah said as she spoke directly to me for the first time tonight. "I hope you stay that way. I still don’t understand why you’re not competing this weekend."

"I figure I’d rather stay aside this time and see someone else in the spotlight."

"I guess. You’re getting soft."

"You’re one to talk."

"Uhh Storm, you still angry at me?"

"About the jeep? No. I’m not. I’m just glad you’re ok."

"Then why have you been avoiding me?"

"Because you’re friends with Lucas. I’m not going to tell you who to hang out with but the bottom line is and I know this’ll sound selfish. I’m not sharing you with Lucas. You and Lucas are close now. There’s nothing I can do about that."

"So what you’re saying is as long as I’m best friends with Lucas, you and I aren’t?"

"Basically. Selfish but true."

"Well at least you’re honest. It always has to be all or nothing with you doesn’t it?"

"I’m not having this conversation with you. Lucas needs a friend. You obviously want to be his friend. That’s all there is to it. And as far as the jeep goes, it’s just a jeep. A very cool jeep but I’d rather lose the jeep than have you or Lucas hurt. I’ll have a new one soon enough once the insurance comes through."

"So that’s it for us then is it, Storm?" Sarah said becoming visibly angry, her face taking on a very serious and staunch tone. "It’s over is it? Just like that."

"This conversation is over." I said exiting out of the training room and into the showers.

I quickly stripped naked and moved under the showers, wanting to just get out of there as fast as I could. I took a deep breath and leaned my body underneath the showerhead. I rested my hands against the wall to support my weight and closed my eyes.

"Hey, Storm." Dade said as he stepped up beside me.

"Oh man you scared the shit out of me." I said as my eyes shot open. "I thought I was the only one in here."

"You were. But I thought I should tell you that Dad’s outside waiting for us."

"Dad’s here?"

"He wants to take us to dinner. He’s in town for the week. Says he wants to spend some time with us." Dade said with little emotion.

"How do you feel about that?"

"I don’t care." Dade said shrugging his shoulders. "If the old man wants to make himself feel good by spending a little time with us. Good for him. I don’t care. I’ll wait for you in the car."

I quickly turned the shower off and rushed after Dade. I pulled my towel out of my bag and yelled out to Dade to wait with me while I got changed. He agreed half heartedly.

"Listen, Dade. I know I haven’t spent much time with you lately."

"Yeah, you’ve been too wrapped up in your own life to worry about me."

"I deserve that. You’re right. You’re always there for me. But lately, I haven’t been there for you. And I get the feeling you needed me. I haven’t been a good friend or a good brother to you lately. I’m sorry. I wanna make up for it." I said as I pulled my tracks up and threw my bag over my shoulder, the night being too hot for me to care about putting a shirt on. "I’m sorry, Dade."

"Screw you." Dade said as he walked off in front of me.

"Well that’s nice." I sighed. "Pack? What Pack?"


* * * * * * *


"Have you spoken to Dade lately?" Claire asked Josh as they spoke on the phone.

Josh lay on his bed playing with the phone cord with his fingers as he let out a deep sigh. "No, I haven’t. He’s been kinda quiet."

"I’m worried about him."

"I try talking to him but he just seems distant. I don’t want to force anything in case he gets even more distant. I don’t know what to do."

"This will sound really weird but I think Dade is avoiding both of us because we spend so much time together now he thinks three’s a crowd."

"He has this idea in his head that you and I belong together. Isn’t that the craziest thing you’ve ever heard?" Josh said forcing a laugh.

"Uhh I dunno. Is it? What’s wrong with me?" Claire said sounding slightly offended.

"Oh no I didn’t mean it like that. I just meant you know…I’m gay and all."

"Yeah, so you keep saying. Anyway, I have more work I need to finish before the Fundraising Awards Ceremony on Friday. I’ll talk to you tomorrow, Josh. Bye."

"Bye." Josh said reluctantly as Claire hung up.

Josh laid his head down and covered his face with his hands. Life seemed so much easier when he truly believed he was gay as odd as that sounded to him. Lately he had begun to have doubts. Particularly when it came to Claire. His emotions were genuinely conflicted. He loved being with her. He loved spending time with her. He admitted he’d become jealous when he saw other guys flirting with her. There were so many things about Claire that he loved and admired. Including raw physical attraction. Lately he’d found he’d be paying more and more attention to the way Claire walked, the way she talked, the way she held herself, the way she looked in that white two piece swimsuit she loved wearing.

Another thing Josh had noticed about himself is that since he’d broken away from Brad, he’d become more of an individual. More confident in himself. More assured of who he was. Stronger. Physically but also more importantly mentally. And Josh had actually begun to like who he was which he believed was an important thing in anyone’s life. He attributed his change to his two best friends, Dade and Claire.

"The last thing you need right now is to be confused." Josh said shaking his head as he sat up. "You need to fix thi…"

Josh was interrupted mid sentence by the sound of knocking at the front door of his house. He figured it was his parents and little sister, back from their dinner outing. Josh had arrived home too late from baseball training to go with them.

"Why didn’t they use their keys?" Josh said to himself in bewilderment as he left his room and headed to the front door to open it.

"Hi, Josh."

"Dade!" Josh said in surprise. "What are you doing here?"

"Can I come in please?" Dade asked with a pensive look on his face.

Josh looked at Dade and realized he was completely soaked. He also seemed especially forlorn and gloomy as he stood on the doorstep in front of Josh. Josh pulled Dade in and closed the door behind him, leading him straight towards his room.

"What’s wrong, Dade? Did something happen? You’re all wet. Here let me help." Josh said as he undid Dade’s shirt and threw it into his laundry hamper. "You’re going to have to take your own pants off. But I’ll get you a towel and some clean clothes of mine. You can wear the clothes you picked out for me. At least then you’ll know they’ll be stylish."

"Anything you wear is stylish." Dade said feigning a smile. "It’s all in how you hold yourself. And you hold yourself pretty well these days."

"You still didn’t tell me what happened. Why are you wet?" Josh asked as he grabbed a towel from the hallway closet and began unconsciously drying Dade off.

"Thanks." Dade said with a small genuine smile. "It’s nothing I should be talking about with you. I just needed a friend."

"Well that’s what I am." Josh smiled. "Put these on."

Josh handed Dade a clean shirt and pair of jeans for him to wear. Dade smiled back at Josh and pulled his shoes and socks off before he finally pulled off his pants. He threw his socks and pants into the hamper on top of his wet shirt, leaving him standing only in his boxers.

Josh tried to not look like he was ogling Dade’s strong feet and legs but he couldn’t seem to help himself. He gulped awkwardly and shook his head, this was something he’d seen dozens of times before in the changing room at school or at the pools. Why was this time any different? It wasn’t any different, Josh realized. All those other times he’d been ogling Dade just as much then as he was now. From the way Dade’s lips curled and dimples showed to the way his eyes sparkled. His muscular shoulders, built chest, buff arms and strong stomach. Dade’s body had the tone and power that made Josh swoon but it was more than that. Dade just seemed to ooze sexuality. He just had this attraction about him that whether people liked to admit or not, drew them to him. In raw physical terms, Dade had become many a focus of Josh’s…good times.

"You’re staring." Dade said smiling wryly at Josh.

"I know. I’m sorry."

"Don’t be. It kinda turns me on to know I turn you on. Don’t think I don’t notice all the other times you stare at me. But I want to ask you something."


"You say you’re gay right?"


"Why do you get a hard on when you watch Claire’s ass?"

"Oh." Josh said blushing. "Uhhh I dunno. She’s attractive isn’t she?"

"And a bag o’ chips." Dade said giving Josh a strange look. "But you don’t just think she’s attractive. You want to make love with her. Admit it. We’re two guys. We’re buds. Just tell me. You fantasize about her sometimes don’t you?"

"I gotta sit down." Josh said letting out a deep breath as he tried to awkwardly cover his growing hard on.

"You’re getting hard right now just thinking about it!" Dade said trying not to laugh as he sat down beside Josh.

"So what? It’s not funny you know. I’m having a hard time dealing with all of this." Josh said as out of nowhere he burst into frustrated tears. "It was hard enough admitting to myself that I was gay. But at least then I was sure about what I was. Then I met Claire and I started having these feelings about her. I think about her all the time, Dade. I just don’t know why I can’t admit it to myself. It’s like I feel I’m so confused. I don’t know what I’m supposed to be. One minute I’m gay, the next I’m buying tickets on the T and A express. I’m so confused. What am I supposed to do?"

"It’s ok, Josh. I’m sorry, I never meant to make fun of you." Dade said trying his best to comfort Josh in one of the rare instances that Josh broke down and showed his vulnerable side.

Dade put his arm around Josh and tried to rub his arms reassuringly. Josh just kept crying in frustration. His face covered in tears and racked with sobs. Dade squeezed Josh tighter and just held him while Josh’s sobs began to subside. Dade knew that this was something Josh needed to do. It was a form of release from all the pent up conflicting emotions he had inside him.

"It’s ok, Bud. Just let it out. I’m here for you."

"I wish I could be like you." Josh said as he stiffened up a little and tried to compose himself.

Josh wasn’t as good at expressing his emotions or being as physically close to other people as Dade and everyone else seemed to be. He felt awkward when people hugged him, whether it be in the middle of a game after a touchdown or home run or whether it was a friend just being a friend. But lately since being friends with Dade and Claire and even Lucas. Lucas was a touchy feely kinda guy which made Josh feel awkward but since they weren’t friends anymore it didn’t matter. Claire seemed to have no problem giving Josh a hug or kissing him on the cheek at the strangest moments but that was just Claire. If she liked you, that was how she acted around you. And Dade was someone who wasn’t afraid of anything you wanted to do to him. Hug him, kiss him, whatever you wanted, he’d let you do it if that’s what you wanted to do. Dade would show you how he felt by the kindness in his presence and the sincerity of his friendship.

Josh tried to emulate aspects of his closest friends but obviously still had trouble sometimes. When Josh had realized he’d stiffened up and away from Dade, he let out a small smile and simply put his arm around Dade and leant his head gently on Dade’s shoulder.

"I’m trying, Dade. I’m trying."

"I know, Bud." Dade said smiling back. "You’re doing just fine."

"I wish I could be like you. You’re so secure in yourself."

"That’s the biggest understatement of the year." Dade said frowning as he sighed. "You have no idea."

"What is it, Dade? What’s wrong?" Josh asked as he perked his head up.

"I have a confession to make."

"What, Dade?"

"I came here for a reason."


"To seduce you." Dade said matter of factly.

"To what?" Josh said reeling back in surprise, instantly breaking any physical contact with Dade.

"I needed someone to want me." Dade said with a sigh. "I figured you could be that person but I realize you can’t be."

"To want you?"

"I just need someone to want me, Josh. So bad. Marcel doesn’t want me. Storm doesn’t think I’m a priority anymore to spend time with. Lucas said he wished I were never born. My Dad came to town today to spend time with me and Storm. Except he tells us that he’s moving to Canada and he wants Storm to go with him. Just Storm. There was no me in there anywhere. It’s always been about Storm to my Dad. He said he needed to make up for lost time like Storm was the only one who suffered. He doesn’t want me. Just like Marcel doesn’t. Just like Lucas doesn’t. Just like Storm doesn’t. And just like my Mom doesn’t." Dade said as silent tears streamed down his face with not a sound or whimper coming from Dade himself, just tears. Silent tears.

"Your Mom?" Josh asked finally as he tried to absorb everything Dade had said.

"Do you remember when Storm was in hospital?"

"Yeah. What about it?"

"Mom was up there too for a little while. While she was gone I was cleaning up her room. I never meant to pry or anything. I was just cleaning it for her while she was gone. I was packing some things away in her wardrobe when I accidentally knocked down one of her old boxes where she had a lot of her old papers and junk. When I went to pick them all up, I found an old diary. I didn’t even mean to read it but when I picked it up I couldn’t help but notice the word ‘Abortion’. I never knew that Mom had an abortion in her life. I had to find out more so I checked the date of the entry and it was over six months before I was born. I read further on and found out that she planned to have me aborted on more than one occasion. She never said why she wanted to or why she never went through with it. Just that it could be a big mistake if she went through with having me. Apparently Dad was the one who was pressing her even more to have me aborted. Makes sense. Abby was the love child. Storm was the planned one. I was the inconvenient one."

"She never wrote down why?"

"No. It wasn’t a personal diary, just notes in her planner diary. But it was her handwriting."

"This is why, isn’t it? This is why you’ve been so down for so long. You think your Mom wished you were never born."

"I don’t think it. I know it. She wrote it down herself. ‘I can’t have this baby.’ No two ways about it."

"But she did have you. And she still raised you. Maybe there are things you don’t know about. Have you ever spoken to her about it?"

"No. Because she’ll just try and explain it away. The fact is I was a mistake."

"I think your Mom would really be hurt if she knew about how you felt."

"I know she would be. I tried talking to her about it before, tried to tell her it was ok that she didn’t want me. But before I could she just broke down. I didn’t want to hurt her anymore after that so I swore I wouldn’t say anything to her. I’m just trying to deal with it. It’s just really hard sometimes. It gets to me and eats me up inside. I just feel totally unnecessary. Like if I weren’t here tomorrow then no one would give a shit. I thought Storm did but I don’t think so anymore. Marcel doesn’t. My parent’s don’t."

"Do you want to stay over the night?" Josh asked concerned. "I can call Storm and tell him."

"Thanks." Dade smiled. "But I’d better get home. I need to talk to Storm. I need to sort this out or it’ll kill me."

"Look, Dade. About your Mom. Whatever may have been going on at the time, she still had you. She still raised you. And whether you want to believe it or not, she still loves you and never regrets having you. I see pride in her eyes when she looks at you. She’s proud of you. You need to hear this from someone who’s not connected to your family. Trust me on this."

"Thanks, Josh." Dade said letting out a huge sigh of relief as his eyes began to well up again, this time with a sense of joyous relief. "I think I did need to hear it from someone unconnected. I knew there was a reason I chose you to be my best friend. I told you that you had potential when we faced Brad on the field. I was right. You’ve changed a lot."

"Thanks a lot to you. Dade…I…"

"You what?"

"I…I’m really glad we’re friends and I really appreciate you a lot." Josh said awkwardly.

"I love you too." Dade grinned. "And as far as your inner turmoil goes, this is the truest piece of advice, I’ve ever been given. Follow your heart. Not your dick."

"Sounds reasonable."

"This is something Storm said to me one time. Don’t be gay. Don’t be straight. Don’t be bi. Just be you. Just be you. Everything else will work itself out. It did for me anyway. I quit worrying about who I was supposed to be and just concentrated on being me. Don’t lock yourself into a label. If you feel for Claire, tell her. If you want to be with a guy, be with him. Just be. Ok? And quit worrying about everything else."

"I guess you and I are even tonight right?"

"Yep." Dade said smiling. "Except I feel like I owe you one."

"You don’t. Trust me you don’t."

"Have you ever kissed anyone before, Josh?"

"Uuuhh no…not really."

"Well…" Dade said leaning forward till his lips were just inches away from Josh’s. "I won’t be your first. Thanks for making me feel better."

"You’re welcome." Josh said blushing with embarrassment before he picked up his pillow and smashed Dade across the head with it. "Punk."


* * * * * * *


I lay awake in bed. Eyes scanning the dark interior of my vaguely moonlit room. My hands behind my head. The covers draped across my midsection, barely covering me. The cool night air nipping at my chest, arms and feet. I rubbed my feet together in a vain attempt to gather warmth. Probably an action performed more for psychological reasons than practical. I performed no other movements to try and warm myself.

My mind. My heart. My spirit. The cold seemed to reverberate there the most. Right now my state of being was in a total flux. Totally fluxed up.

I had no idea where to begin to decipher everything. To put it into some discernable form of logic. Some reasoning for why my life was the way it was right now. Not so much miserable. Just lacking.

Right now my biggest worry wasn’t Lucas. Or Mike. Or Sarah. It was Dade. 3am and still no sign of him. We didn’t exactly have the best night last night. He seems angry with me. And I don’t blame him. I just haven’t been giving him the attention I should have been. The incident at Reese Bridge rattled me and made me realize I needed Dade more than I thought. I needed to be there for him more than I thought. That was the perfect opportunity for me to solidify my relationship with him and to help him get through what was obviously a difficult period. I realize now that I didn’t use that opportunity. As soon as Lucas and I started falling apart, I completely neglected Dade. It wasn’t just that I neglected him. It was that I neglected him at a time when he needed me. That’s something I can’t quite forgive yet. But now I know it’s something I have to take care of.


"Dade!" I said with surprise, shooting my eyes towards my open door to see Dade standing there with a somber but more relaxed look on his face than the last time I saw him.

"Have you been waiting up for me?"

"I was worried." I said sitting up and moving back against the wall, leaving a free space for Dade to sit at the foot of my bed if he wanted it. "I’m sorry about last night. Where have you been? Are you ok? Are you hungry? Do you want a hot drink?"

"No thanks." Dade smiled, his trademark dimples grinning at me. "I’m sorry for last night. And I’m sorry for keeping you up."

"I’m sorry for being a jerk lately. I’m really sorry."

"It’s ok." Dade said with a reassuring smile as he sat down at the end of the bed. "You weren’t really a jerk. You just weren’t anything lately."

"You needed me. I wasn’t there. I know it sounds lame to say I want to make up for it but I do."

"It’s ok, Storm." Dade said putting his hand on top of mine and clasping it. "I love you anyway."

"Who have you been talking to? You seem in better spirits than last night."

"Josh. He helped me work out a few things."

"Oh, I see. So I’m already too late to be of any assistance huh?" I asked regretfully but still raising my eyebrows in hopeful anticipation.

"I’ll always need you, Storm. But in this case, I think it’s better that Josh was the one who helped me out rather than you."

"Ok." I said feeling rather rejected but still ok with the whole situation. "Is there anything I can do for you before you go to bed then?"

"Just talk to me. Tell me what’s on your mind. Just us. The way we used to talk."

"I miss Lucas." I said flatly.

"Well that’s obvious."

"Give me the brutal truth on what you think. No holds barred."

"Lucas. You two are made for each other, Stupid. Can’t you see that yet? Yeah so Lucas is a fucking dumb idiot sometimes. And yeah even I want to knock him out sometimes. But he’s the one, Storm. He’s the one for you. I’m sick of seeing you two pussy footing around and denying the painfully obvious. You’re stupid for each other. I mean come on. Tell me what you’re feeling, Storm. Honestly."

"Ok…well…to be honest. You’re right. I miss him like crazy. I miss him so bad, Dade. But I can’t take him back. I can’t."

"Take him back. Give the monkey another chance. Don’t be so damn stubborn and proud."

"Dade, I took him back before. If I do it again then he’ll think I’ll take him back every time he fucks me over."

"He won’t do it again, Storm. He won’t. Not intentionally."

"He never does it intentionally. He never thinks about what he’s doing. Sometimes I think he’s so selfish all he cares about is himself. If he wasn’t so selfish he’d think about what he was doing to me. Or to Ashley. She didn’t deserve the shit he put her through. His dick literally fucked up her whole life." I said angrily. "He’s an idiot!"

"You’re just making yourself angry again, Storm. Calm down."

"I know, I’m sorry." I said taking a deep breath as I swept the flecks of hair off my forehead with my fingers. "We shouldn’t be talking about this."

"Just listen to me, Storm. I hate Lucas. I really do. He’s nothing but an asshole to me. But I know real love when I see it. And you have it whether you like it or not. You wouldn’t be angry if you didn’t still care."

"That’s what Lucas said too. And I know I love him, I’m not denying that."

"I would die for what you have. What you have is a once in forever thing. You guys are so intense. That’s your problem. You don’t know how to control what you have. It’s so big and daunting. You’re both not sure how to deal with it. But it’s real. And it’s not unbreakable. Don’t lose it because of your stubborn pride."

"How do you know so much?" I asked giving Dade a puzzled inquisitive look.

"Just trust me. Believe in me, Bro. When it comes to you, I’ll never ever lead you wrong. If I wanted to do what I wanted, I’d keep Lucas away. But I honestly believe he is the best thing to ever happen to you. You guys will work through all of this. And ten, twenty years from now you’ll realize I was right. Please, Storm."

"I’ll think about it, Bro. I will. But still it seems like you’re helping me again." I said with a sigh. "I want to be there for you as much as you’re there for me."

"Long as I know you love me." Dade smiled as he stood up. "I’ll be sweet."

"Well you know I do. Always."

"I know. I love you too. Big time. I’ve just been angry about a few things but I’ve managed to sort some of them out tonight."

"Dad’s one reason right?"

"Yeah." Dade sighed with disappointment. "I guess I’m a little ticked off that he thinks he can just ride in whenever he wants and try to make up for lost time in a week. You think you’re the only one who had a beef with him. He left me too you know. I’ve just never been as vocal as you about how I felt."

"Well now’s your chance."

"We both know he pays more attention to you too. Mind you everybody seems to. But that’s not my problem with him. I’d just appreciate something from him. Some sort of lifeline that makes me believe he cares about me. Or some sort of reasoning for why he left us alone for so long. He always seemed more interested in how you felt about him even when you weren’t talking than how I felt when he and I were."

"I never thought I’d be defending him. And I’m not going to. He has to tell you himself those answers you want."

"I know. I know. Look, I’m going to let you get some sleep now. Sorry for keeping you up so long. But thanks for waiting up."

"You’re welcome. We’ll talk some more tomorrow."

"Night, Bro." Dade smiled as he walked out and headed towards his own room.

"Night." I replied.


* * * * * * *


So the next morning came and I’d had time to think more about what Dade had said. It still amazed me that even at his low points; Dade would always come through for me. Now came dealing with Lucas. Or more to the point deciding how to deal with Lucas. To be quite honest, I don’t even know whether or not I’m someone he’d want to see right now. We haven’t spoken to each other since I got back from the weekend with Ashley. I wasn’t so much angry with Lucas anymore. I was more disappointed now and sad about how things had worked out.

"Josh!" I yelled, catching Josh’s figure in the corner of my eye walking down the hallway. "Barrett!"

I walked up to Josh and shook his hand with a sincere smile on my face. "Thanks."

"For?" Josh asked seemingly disinterested.

"Being there for Dade. I think you know what I mean. I’m sorry if it seems like you’re picking up my slack. I just want you to know I appreciate what you’ve done for Dade. You’re a good friend to him. He’s lucky to have you."

"I’m just as lucky. He’s my best friend. I’ll be there if he needs me."

Josh looked me over semi intently, seemingly studying me as if to assess my psychological state of being or something along those lines. Probably trying to figure out what was affecting my relationship with Dade. He never appeared judgmental, just blankly inquisitive.

"Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks. You’re a good guy, Josh. But I think you already know that now. It’s good to see." I said with a smile. "I’ll see you around."

We nodded at each other and parted ways. Josh had changed a lot in the period of time since he’d stopped hanging out with Brad. I have to say he really impresses me. He appears to have a very ‘by the book’ attitude which I think is quite rare these days. Mix that with his sense of duty, loyalty, fairness and lack of dramatics and you have a level headed great guy.

Too bad he’s not Dade’s type. Least I don’t think he is. Wonder if he could ever be my type then?

"Storm, if you dodge me again, I swear I’ll hit you."

"Morning, Sarah." I said with a wry smile.

Sarah just glared back at me before breaking into a somewhat wry smile of her own. "You seem…better."

"How are you?"

"You mean you actually care?"

"You know it. Where’s Lucas?"

"Standing around the corner. Respecting your space while I speak to you. Pretty stupid I think."

"I agree." I said with a sigh. "It’s been pretty stupid of me to brush you off lately too. I’m sorry for being a jerk. Is there something I can do for you?"

"The Intermix. I need you in my corner. Will you be there please?"

"You got it." I said with a smile. "I’ll be there. Do you mind if I have a word with Lucas?"

"No." Sarah said giving me a quizzical look. "And you don’t need to ask me if you can speak to him. I’m not his protector."

"Thanks, Sarah." I said as I walked down the crowded hallway and around the corner that Lucas was leaning against.

I stood there just looking at him. He was oblivious to my presence. He just stood there leaning against the wall in his own little world. It had been a long time since I’d actually looked at him. Sure, I’d seen him around a lot but never actually looked at him since we’d broken up. Never watched him and tried to figure out what he was thinking or how he was feeling. Or just looked at him for the sake of looking. It felt good to be able to do that again.

He looked good. Well he always looks good but he looked good as in more than just physically. I can tell when Lucas is stressed or under pressure or feeling low. Today he seemed mostly okay.

I would have liked to have just stood there for a while looking at him but he turned his head in my direction and saw me looking at him. He looked back at me with a puzzled look on his face, trying to figure out what it was I was doing looking at him. He never said a word and neither did I, I just smiled back at him and tried to alleviate any tension between us. That just made him look at me even more strangely as if he thought I were nuts.

"Hi." I said softly as I walked up to a now stiffened and slightly tensed up Lucas.

"Uuhh, hi." Lucas said nervously but with an underlying smile evident on his face. "Hi, Storm."

"How are you?"

"Uuhh, I’m ok. I’m doing ok. How about you?"

"I’m doing ok too. I’m doing pretty good actually."

"Yeah…" Lucas said regretfully. "I bet you are. Is there something I can do for you, Storm? You haven’t spoken to me since that weekend which was a while ago now. Figured you’d never speak to me again actually so you must have a reason for coming up to me today."

"I came to apologize for acting like a lughead throughout all this. And for ignoring you. I just couldn’t deal with speaking to you without getting all worked up. I just want to say that…I don’t hate you and I hope you don’t hate me either. We used to be friends. Surely we can get past everything to at least acknowledge each other again."

"Because you’re ready now huh." Lucas said with just the slightest hint of annoyance. "Fine, Storm. Anything you want. You say jump, I say how high. That’s how it works isn’t it? You’re ready to stop being a stubborn jackass so now I have to be ready to be all accepting and submissive. Thankful to the benevolent Storm for gracing me with his presence. Well…things change, people change. I changed. Fuck off." Lucas said sharply as he walked right past me towards Sarah.

I stood there a little dumbfounded, a little surprised…but mostly impressed. Lucas had just knocked me on my ass, metaphorically speaking.

"Cool." I said smiling to myself. "There’s hope for you yet, Sheridan."


 * * * * * * *

Coming Soon - SF24: Flipside Upside

I hope you like this chapter and stick around for the next one.  This marks a turning point for Season 3 that will lead into the finale, Dissipating Storms.  Mike is making some headway with his own problems.  Both Lucas and Storm have resigned themselves to empty fates or denial states.  Josh is coming into his own and trying to overcome his own inner turmoils.   Dade is just flipside upside downside everyside.  But at least we finally know some of the motives for a lot of his actions since SF13: Paths Not Taken & SF14: Redemption right up until now.  Sarah is trying to reestablish herself.  And June and Daniel Sr are finding old habits die hard but Daniel has other motives.  That just sounded like a summary.  That was a summary.  Why did I do that?  Who cares, anyway.  Take care everyone!  Until next time...

Stay Tuned for SF24: Dissipating Storms and send me a note** to let me know what you thought of Chapter 23: FlipSide
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