By SF Writer
Copyright 2004  Stormnation, All rights reserved.

Storm Front: Dissipating Storms
Chapter 24 - Season 3 finale

* * * * * * *

I sat by myself in the school cafeteria. Just because I wanted to be by myself. Well…truth be known it’s because I was in a ‘feeling sorry for myself’ mood and I didn’t want to share that with anyone. I just wanted to be alone. Feeling kind of lonely. Feeling kind of depressed. Feeling kinda shit.

I’d realized that cliche as it may sound that ‘you don’t know what you got till it’s gone’. I missed Lucas. Everything else in my life was going great. School was good. Grades were good. Martial Arts were good. I’ve been teaching some of the junior classes to help Sensei Takada lighten his load and also increase my own experience. I’d begun doing heavy weight training with Mike to bulk myself up and put some serious muscle on my build and that was going really well. I was pleased with the results coming in. I’d always been fit and strong but now I was making a concerted effort to radically increase my strength and physique. So that was going good. I’d managed to solidify my friendships with Brad and Marty Lee, effectively taking out my two biggest nemeses. I was class president. I was popular. I got along with everyone just about. I was doing shifts down at the produce warehouse to make a good bit of money on the side. Life was good.


I missed…I miss Lucas. I miss him every day now. Everything I do now seems to be an exercise in distraction. I thought I’d done the right thing for myself by letting him go. By fooling myself into moving on. I feel like a fool now even admitting that I miss him. People told me I’d miss him when I let him go but I said no, I’ll be fine. I’m a real dick sometimes, aren’t I?

Now I see him and he doesn’t want anything to do with me anymore. My life is great but empty. It’s hollow because I don’t have anyone to share it with. I’ve been trying to move on because now I know that Lucas has moved on or is moving on. Apart from mainly Sarah, he’s making new friends outside of our circle and he’s meeting new people. I think he’s even found someone he likes. Now I see him having a life without me and he seems happy with it. That kills me. It was once my greatest fear. It’s always been my greatest fear I think. Ever since I fell in love with him. And I hate to say it but it’s my fault things ended up this way. Sure, Lucas screwed up but so did I by not handling things better. I could have been more compromising, more forgiving, less stubborn, less proud. But there’s no use singing my shoulda, woulda, coulda’s now. It’s too late for that.

I don’t know what to feel, I don’t know what to do. Sometimes I feel like smashing my fist into a wall. Sometimes I feel like breaking down and crying. Sometimes I smile in some denial filled euphoric daze.

I have to move on. Move forward. Mike was right when he said I have to let Lucas move on. I can’t give him false hope. But that’s the point. Would it be false? And does he really hope at all anymore anyway?

I used to be able to feel when Lucas missed me. Sometimes I still feel it…but not much anymore. Just when we’re in the same area as each other and we know we’re close to each other but never say anything anymore. Lucas told me to fuck off and I’m respecting that. But I miss him. I miss him. Damn, I’m stupid.

"Hey, Bro." Dade said as he sat down next to me. "What’s up?"

"Nothing." I said feigning a smile.

"Don’t lie to me. What’s up?" Dade said again but this time giving me his trademark eyebrow at the same time.

"I dunno, Dade…I just…" I sighed as I played with my lunch, which today was some strawberries and yogurt.

"Strawberries on the brain aye? Strawberry lips more like it. You’ve been missing him a lot lately. When you two first separated you didn’t miss him. I don’t think it was really until he told you to fuck off that you started to miss him. You really think it’s over now?"

"You tell me otherwise."

"I wish I could, Bro." Dade said patting me on the back. "I know he’ll never forget you. And he’s not over you. I just think he’s given up and I think he’s moving on. I doubt he’ll ever stop caring about you though."

"What should I do?" I asked as my head fell down and I lay my head in my arms on the table. "It’s really starting to hurt now. I miss him so much. I miss him every day now. I just don’t think he wants me anymore and I don’t blame him. I just don’t know what to do or what’s going on."

"Don’t get down on yourself. That won’t help. I don’t want to see you getting into a big funk over this. If Lucas sees you like this he’ll feel sorry for you and it’ll start pulling him back but for the totally wrong reasons. You can’t get him back by breaking down and hoping he’ll pick up the pieces. Or not even hoping but you know if you do start breaking down, he’ll notice and he’ll try to help you. But you can’t get him back that way. Getting him back out of pity isn’t going to save you two. You need to find the reason you guys were together in the first place. The reason you’re in love. The reason you love being together. The reason you belong together. You need to find each other again."

"You’re so wise…" I said smiling at Dade. "How old are you?"

"Everything I’ve just told you, you already know. You just needed to hear it." Dade said smiling back as he stood up and yanked at the back of my shirt. "Now get up and come play some football on the fields. Take your mind off things. Mike, Brad, Carl, Marty Lee, Josh and all the rest are starting a friendly game in five minutes."

"Ok, Bro." I said as I stood up and the two of us left the cafeteria.

Just out of the corner of my eye, I spied Lucas sitting down with his new mainstays. He caught my eyes on him and I quickly turned away and carried on with Dade. I really hated that things had come to this between me and Lucas. Dade I think caught me looking at Lucas and he frowned at me when he saw the sad look on my face.

"Hey, Bro." Dade said stopping me. "I need a bathroom break. Carry on without me and I’ll meet you on the field."

"Ok, Bro." I said giving him a slight eyebrow as I left him alone and carried on to the fields.

I had a funny feeling that Dade didn’t really need a bathroom break but I knew when to just do what he said and not ask questions. I guess I’d find out eventually.


* * * * * * *


Dade walked into the cafeteria just as Lucas and his three companions were getting up to leave. With a steely look of determination, Dade walked right up to Lucas and stood toe to toe with him. With the slightest tilt of his head, Dade looked at Lucas’ new friends and spoke with a menacing amount of command and presence.

"Walk away." Dade said sharply. "Now."

The tone in which Dade spoke made certain that in little time at all he was standing alone with Lucas. Dade had a definite height disadvantage to Lucas but the resolve in his demeanor made him seem ten feet taller than Lucas.

"I’ll say this once. You’re hurting him. Stop it. Tell him it’s over to his face. Then he can move on too. Do it soon before he loses it. Do you understand me?"

"Or what?"

"Or you’ll get what I owe you."

"Fine." Lucas replied staunchly.

Dade turned to walk away, not wanting to spend any more time with Lucas than he needed to. Just as he began to walk away, he felt a hand press gently on his shoulder.

"Dade…" Lucas said in a much softer tone than when he last spoke.

"Yeah?" Dade replied without turning around but also in a much more gentler tone than when he last spoke.

"I am sorry."

"Me too." Dade said turning to Lucas and feigning a small smile.

They gave each other a look of recognition and Dade nodded in acknowledgment at Lucas. A moment of understanding and mending came between them in that short time before Dade turned once again to leave.


* * * * * * *


You know I’m starting to worry about myself. I’m sitting here just outside the school gates hoping to get a glimpse of Lucas as he walks home. I feel like a stalker. I sit where he won’t notice me. I don’t want anything from him. I just want to see him. Just to see that he’s ok. He seems ok. He seems more than ok these days. He seems happy. I’m starting to accept that he can be happy without me. I hope one day the same is true for me.

And there he goes. My stomach turns a few thousand times, my eyes start to water and my head starts to hurt. And then he’s gone. We used to be able to feel when we were near each other. I don’t think he can feel me anymore.

The worst though is when he does see me. We catch each others eye for about five seconds and then he turns away as if I’m not even there. He really doesn’t want anything to do with me now. I’m like the past he doesn’t want to remember anymore. I’m not in his future or his present.

I guess this is how he felt when I didn’t talk to him after we broke up. Geez I’m a prick sometimes. I bet he felt even worse then than I do now. I guess this is karmic comeback.

I don’t know how long I can take this. I thought I was over him. But now it seems as though the more time that goes by, the more I want him. The more I need him. I hurt without him. It’s really starting to affect me now. I’m not the same person. I hate being depressed but these days that’s my state of being. I really feel as if I’m never going to get another chance with Lucas and that’s what hurts the most because I would do things differently next time. I’d appreciate him more. I’d give him more of what he needed from me. What he deserved from me.

Now the only thing I can do for him is let him go. Wish him well. Try to move on.



* * * * * * *


"Everyone please give a warm round of applause for the Inaugural Intermix Champion. Our very own, Sarah Marie Leo!" Sensei Takada said as he stood on our dojo stage.

Sarah was greeted with a well deserved round of applause from her peers and team mates. I smiled proudly but made sure I stood somewhere in the distance, out of sight and out of mind. There was no doubting though, I was so proud of Sarah. She pushed herself ever since she qualified for entry into the Intermix competition. She now proudly called herself the Black Belt Bitch. I could tell she’d softened lately but she still had that fiery streak in her.

I had a smile on my face so wide you’d think I was high or something. Sarah and I hadn’t said a word to each other since well before the tournament but I’m sure she knew I was in her corner. I’m sure she did. I was cheering her on even when she thought I wasn’t.

I’d been spending a lot of time teaching the junior classes lately so Sarah and I hadn’t had much opportunity to bump into each other lately. That suited me just fine. Tonight though, I had to be here for Sarah’s moment. The entire dojo had been summoned to her presentation. She’d won one of the biggest tournaments this season.

Being Intermix Champion she automatically qualified for entry to the District, Regionals and nationals. Of which the first two titles currently belonged to me. None of this mattered right now though because tonight it was all about Sarah.

Sarah was all smiles and well into her speech when she managed to spot me at the back of the room. I gave her a proud smile and nodded in acknowledgment. She returned in kind and carried on with her speech.

"I’d like to thank the person responsible for me standing here today and introducing me to what has become one of my greatest passions. It’s because of him that I made it this far and it’s because of him that I try as hard as I do. He’s been an inspiration to me and to some of you too, I’m sure. He’s been a great friend…" Sarah said with just the slightest tinge of sorrow in her voice. "And I’d like to thank you, Storm."

I lowered my head in modest appreciation. My eyes teased the sensation of watering up but I kept my composure. Even now she was still good to me.

I smiled back and accepted the small applause she’d generated for me. There’s no denying I felt pretty special right now. Her speech soon finished and she was once again given a hearty round of applause. Sarah held her trophy up with tears in her eyes and a few cameras flashed. Mine was one of them. Mike’s was another. But if you thought I was way at the back, he was practically against the wall trying not to be noticed.

I figured this was a golden opportunity to patch things up with Sarah so I waited for her to walk off the stage. Mike had already slipped out. He just wanted to be here for Sarah’s moment. He’s still a hundred percent supportive of her. I tried to be as supportive as I could from a distance. Now I wanted to try and close that distance.

I began walking towards her with a smile on my face as she started coming off stage. Until I saw her being greeted with a large hug from none other than Lucas.

Time to go.

She’d seen me walking towards her and knew from the way my face suddenly dropped that I was going to do an about turn. She pleaded with me through silent eyes but knew that I wouldn’t approach her as long as Lucas was around. He wanted me to fuck off. So I would.

"Junior Alpha’s! To the brown room. Straight into stretches and warm up, B sets." I said rushing the kids along.

I headed towards the brown room myself, our training room designed mainly for the junior levels. I spied Marty Lee out of the corner of my eye so I approached him and tapped him on the shoulder.

"Hey, Buddy." I said with a happy smile. "I’m taking the Alpha’s. I want to ask you a favor."

"What is it?" Marty Lee asked intently, knowing full well he’d more than likely say yes to anything I asked.

"I want you to work closely with Dade today since I won’t be there. He’s got a lot of drive and I want to make sure he keeps pushing himself. Can you do that for me?"

"Sure, Storm. Do you need any help with the Alpha’s?"

"Nah. All I do is give them the main outline and instruction. They do the rest. They actually help me out a whole lot."

"What about that kid, Mar?"

"Yeah, he’s been around a while. He’s sharp. Nothing gets past him. Some guy will try and test him but he doesn’t often let anything get past him. He’s good to work with."

"You seem to really enjoy doing this." Marty Lee said with a smile. "It’s good to see."

"Yeah. It is." I said patting Marty Lee on the back. "See you after class."

"Bye, Storm."

I was really starting to latch on to Marty Lee. He had a habit of making me feel confident about myself somehow. Maybe because he saw it in me. But every time I walked away from his presence, I felt good about myself. Stronger somehow. More confident. I think he’s one to keep.

I needed that pick up too. Seeing Lucas had still shaken me. He still has a big effect on me every time I see him. Mostly bad these days.

The training session with the Alpha’s went well today and seem to just fly by. I have so much fun doing it that you feel like you just finish warming up and you’re already warming down. You just get so much enthusiasm from children. They throw themselves into things so wholeheartedly that it reawakens aspects of myself that haven’t been there for so long. I’ve become so jaded and cynical that I’d forgotten the simply joys of laughter and having fun.

I walked into that brown room feeling good and I walked out feeling even better. I knew something would kill it. Sure enough, I was right.



He seemed to exist simply to bring misery into my life lately. Well I didn’t fancy getting another round of ‘things change, people change. I changed. Fuck off.’. We made eye contact and that’s all we made. I just looked at him, held myself together and looked away from him. For the slightest moment I thought I caught a look of longing and sadness but I didn’t fancy deluding myself. He was obviously waiting for Sarah. I made a quick exit to the changing rooms and avoided another potentially volatile situation. Way to go, Stormy one.

"Hey, Storm." Marty Lee said to me as he walked into the changing rooms.

I just looked back at him and smiled weakly as I leaned back against the wall. "Hey."

"Why so glum?"

"I dunno. I don’t mean to be." I sighed to myself.

"I know. I’ve gotten pretty good though at reading your moods. It’s still Lucas isn’t it?"

"Still. Always." I sighed. "Always."

"As much as I’d like to have a go at him right now…I can’t hate him. I think he’s doing really well for himself. I think he deserves it."

"Yeah…he does. He does." I said closing my eyes so I wouldn’t even show the slightest hint of watery eyes.

"So do you, Storm. So do you."

"Thanks." I said smiling at Marty Lee.

I don’t really think he’d ever had truly malicious intentions against me. I think he was just misunderstood and his anger over Ashley was misdirected. He’s a lot better now. Just like Brad. I’ve found gems in both of them. But I could really tell that Marty Lee didn’t just want to be any old friend, he was making a play for a best friend spot.

"Lucas is going out on a date on Saturday night. He’s going with Maya Williams. I think he’s moved on. I think you should too." Marty Lee said as he put his hand over mine and squeezed slightly, drawing open eyes and a raised eyebrow from me. "I just want to make sure you’re ok. I don’t want you to break down over this. I’m not making a move or anything. I just want to be your friend. That’s it."

"You’re doing pretty good." I said smiling again.

"If there’s anything I can ever do for you. Anything. Please call me. And don’t think I’m just doing this because I feel sorry for you. I need a friend just as much as you do. So call me ok?" Marty Lee said standing up and throwing his bag over his shoulder before he headed towards the door. "Call me, Storm. Take care."


* * * * * * *


"Hi, Son." Daniel said as he walked into Dade’s room and sat down at his desk. "Whatcha up to?"

Dade was sitting against the wall with his legs stretched out on his bed. His guitar assuming a familiar position with his fingers dancing a strum on the strings. Dade didn’t even raise his head as he replied to his father in a nonchalant fashion.

"It’s pretty obvious isn’t it?"

"Feel like catching a movie?"

"Storm busy, aye?" Dade said raising his eyes so they finally met his fathers.

"I know I haven’t been around a lot lately."

"Yeah and even when you are, I don’t see you. I’m not your oldest son or your only daughter but you know, a few minutes here and there wouldn’t hurt would it? You don’t even call. You call Storm though."

"I’m sorry, Son. I just figured you didn’t li…"

"Well you figured wrong. Close the door on your way out. I don’t need you."

"Ok." Daniel said not really stunned but still letting out a disappointed sigh before he stood up to leave.

"No, wait." Dade said jumping off his bed and moving swiftly in front of his father until they stood eye to eye. "You don’t get off that easy. You don’t know me. I’m your son. I’ve always been here. But you don’t know me. That’s your loss. But you can’t come in here and in one week expect that to change. You’ll be lucky if you can change that at all. Now get out."

"You’re right, Dade. I don’t know you. You’ve become bitter. You’re already becoming hard and hostile. Then there’ll be more bitterness. Then it’ll be lonely. Just ask me. I already know. I’m sorry for not paying you more attention. You just never seemed to want it. You always seemed to be looking after yourself. Not complaining much but always having your trademark dimpled smile for everyone. You were a great kid to be around. I’m sure you still are. You’re just a lot older. Don’t lose your smile. It really suits you. Try not to end up too much like your old man. Don’t be so angry. Don’t be so hard. And don’t become unchangeably bitter."

"Big words." Dade said raising his eyebrow. "And not without merit. But that still doesn’t change the way I feel about you. And the difference between Storm and I is I don’t have this subconscious need to have your love. I’ve got all the love I need right here inside me." Dade said as he prodded himself firmly in the chest. "I don’t need anything from you. Not anymore. You had your chance."

"Storm was angry but he was never like you are now. You just really…don’t like me."

"You’re wrong. I hate you." Dade said bluntly.

"I’m getting a bit sick of listening to this now." Daniel said rolling his eyes.

"Then why don’t you fucken run away again, huh?" Dade said shoving his father forcefully. "Go on. Run away again. Leave. Leave like you left your wife. Left your kids. Left me. Leave all your responsibilities. Just leave. Go on. Fuck off. Go away."

"What are you going to do, Dade? Hit me? Is that what you want to do?"

"I know you wished I were never born. You never wanted me before I was even born. You wanted Mom to get an abortion. She was going to do it. Why? Do you have any idea how that makes me feel?"

"Ahhh…now I understand where this is coming from. How long have you known?"

"Long enough." Dade said scowling at his father in an attempt to mask his hurt.

"Your mother was sick. There was a risk that her carrying a baby to term would jeopardize her health. I didn’t want to lose your mother. It wasn’t anything against you, Dade. You have to know that. You should also know that there was no way she was going to give you up. I did pressure her but only because I wanted your brother and sister to have their mother around. She considered it but not very long. There were a few problems but she had you. After you were born we took steps to make sure you were the last. She called you her miracle. You can have your beef with me but don’t ever think your mother doesn’t love you more than she loves herself."

"Regardless of any of that." Dade said wiping his eyes, his face still staunch and angry. "You still left. You’re still a loser. You left Mom on her own to fend for herself. To raise us. You took Abby away. You really suck. I still hate you."

"All I can do is try." Daniel said as he opened the door to leave.

"Another thing. Don’t you dare think you can just waltz in here and take Storm away from me. Thanks for making me feel wanted there too. It’s nice to know I wasn’t wrong when it came to you not wanting me. But you can’t take Storm. You can’t. He’s mine. Not yours. I need him. You can’t have him. So don’t you dare try and take him away."

"You should know better than anyone that you can’t make Storm do anything he doesn’t want to do. If he wants to come with me, he will. If he doesn’t, he won’t."

"Get out." Dade said shoving his father out of his room. "I’m done talking to you."

As soon as his father was out, Dade held his head in his hands and collapsed onto his bed. Half laced with pain, the other with relief. His mother did love him. And he did indeed hate his father. First came tears of pain, then tears of joy and finally just tears.


* * * * * * *


"Bud." Sarah said sitting down next to Lucas on his bed. "How’s it going?"

"Hey, Babe. I’m ok. How are you?"

"I’m ok. I just…didn’t feel like being home by myself right now. I wanted to talk to someone."

"Something on your mind?" Lucas asked concerned, his attention fully focused on Sarah.

"I guess…I’m just missing things the way they used to be. I miss me being with Mike. I miss you being with Storm. I miss Marcel being here. I miss us all being together. Storm and I don’t talk much at all these days. Neither do Mike and I. And you don’t really talk to either of them much now either. We used to be the best friends in the world. Now we’re barely acquaintances. I hate it, Lucas. I really hate it. And I feel like you’re starting to drift away too."

"Never from you, Sarah. You’re a really good friend and I really appreciate how you’ve stood by me lately. I’ll never forget it." Lucas said pulling Sarah into his arms so she lay back into his chest, both staring out his window into the night sky.

Lucas held Sarah warmly, both feeling a sense of intimacy with each other that they could no longer get from their former partners. They craved intimacy, affection, attention and they both gave it to each other but still without crossing the line into something that would complicate their friendship.

Still for anyone looking from the outside in, they’d think the two were married or at least in a fairly close relationship. Which was not entirely wrong. They were close now. Both had other friends but both depended fiercely on each other for the intimate level of friendship that couldn’t be found anywhere else. They often held hands as they walked to and from school. Kissed each other hello and goodbye. Their bond had become so close that they threatened to go from a platonic friendship to a sexless relationship.

"We need each other so much right now. It’s funny how we’ve become so much closer lately." Lucas said as they lay down on his bed, still with Lucas’ arms wrapped securely around Sarah’s waist as he nuzzled his face into the back of her neck and closed his eyes. "I love you, Sarah."

"I love you too, Babe. Just don’t get any ideas." Sarah said with a mock mischievous smile.

"I won’t. Besides, I’m too tired. Do you want to stay over?"

"I don’t think your Mom would like that." Sarah said turning over to face Lucas, wrapping her own arms around his waist as she did. "But I would. I’m feeling pretty tired myself. I could do with a good rest."

"Let’s get some sleep then. Use the guest bed if you feel uncomfortable. I won’t bite, I promise."

"I’m sure you won’t. This’ll sound really lame but it’s been so long since I’ve been held like this. I’d like to stay. No funny stuff, just buds."

"Of course. I feel the same about the being held while I sleep part. It feels nice to be able to hold someone like this." Lucas smiled. "Even if it’s not Storm."

"Let’s face it. You and I both know we’re still crazy about them. We’re just filling the gaps hoping we get them back."

"Let’s talk about it tomorrow. Shut up and go to sleep." Lucas said dashing forward slightly and planting a kiss on Sarah’s lips. "Goodnight."

"Goodnight." Sarah smiled.


* * * * * * *


"I’ll just have the chicken salad thanks." I said as I stood in the lunch line.

Today I was having lunch with Brad of all people. There was still a slight tension and weariness between us but I had noticed a big change in the Brad of today as compared to the Brad of five months ago. I suppose having lost the need to try and be the jock had left the real Brad revealed. He wants us to be friends and I appreciate that he wants us to be. So I try and be accommodating.

I really wish Marty Lee were around. He’s actually the one I’ve come to depend on. He’s pretty steadfast when you get used to him. He trusts me and I trust him. Funny how things change.

"You’ve got this thing about chicken and salad don’t you? In a Storm Sub, in a sandwich or just by itself."

I turned around to see a smiling Sarah standing beside me. It was really weird. Actually it was kinda sad. Here’s one of my once best friends and former girlfriend smiling at me and I don’t know what to say.

"Sarah...uhh yeah you know me. I love my chicken salad." I said somewhat awkwardly.

"How’s it, Storm?"

"Ok. How about you?"

"I’m good. You look good, Storm. You’ve really been working it haven’t you?"

"Just another outlet for my pent up frustration. At least that’s what my virtual psychiatrist says." I said managing a small laugh. "Keeps me occupied and I guess I do want to see how far I can push myself. I just want to be better."

"So a certain someone might notice you again?" Sarah smiled.

"I don’t think that certain someone will ever notice me again. It’s…more like a self esteem thing. I feel like I’ve gone far with the martial arts and this is just a compliment to it. I dunno. I just like doing it. It feels good. I’ve always liked doing it but I want to fill out my build more so that’s why I started doing the heavy weight training with Mike."

"Well you look good. Uhh Storm…I really miss you. Can’t we work things out please? It’s bad enough without Mike but you too?"

"Hey Babe, whatcha doing?" Lucas asked as he put his arms around Sarah from behind and nuzzled her neck, not realizing I was standing right in front of her. "Oh…Storm."

"Storm, it’s no…" Sarah began to say hurriedly before I put my hands in the air in a stop motion.

"None of my business." I said shrugging my shoulders. "See you around."

Sarah looked like she wanted to reach out after me and I saw her falter for an instant and put her hand on her forehead. I was about to run back and see what was wrong because it didn’t look like an emotional faltering. Lucas already had her taken care of so I carried on my way but it didn’t stop me wondering what was up. I’d suspected the last few months that something was wrong with Sarah. Now I suspected even more that something was wrong. Pregnant? I doubt it. It’s been too long and she hasn’t even got the slightest bump. Whatever the case, I do feel as if something is wrong. I think it’s time I pulled my head out of my ass and found out.


* * * * * * *


"Oh come on, Josh. You want her ass. You want it bad." Dade said nudging Josh playfully as they watched Claire playing basketball.

"Dade!" Josh said blushing. "I do not. And even if I did. I wouldn’t be so crude about it."

"Well come on, Josh. You’re best friends with two hot specimens. One on either side of the gender barrier. You like Claire. How many times do we have to go through this?"

"I thought you liked her?"

"Liked. Past tense." Dade said matter of factly. "I know you have the hots for her and as long as you do, I’ll stay away from her."

"Ok, I’ll admit I’m attracted to Claire but I’m not sure how much and I’m not sure what drives me more. Guys or girls."

"Only one way to find out."

"And how is that?" Josh asked confused.

"Try both. I have."

"And what did you decide?"

"That I like both." Dade said with a mischievous grin. "A lot."

"I wish I had as much experience as you. I wish I had any experience."

"Well…do you think experimenting is wrong?"


"Think of it as a one night stand that’ll teach you the ropes."

"Whoa. You’d really do that for me? Wouldn’t that make things weird between us?"

Dade raised his eyebrow at Josh for a moment as he contemplated what Josh had said. He didn’t mean to give Josh the impression that he was the one who would experiment with him. But now that Josh had that idea in his head he figured he’d just roll with it anyway.

"Not if we don’t let it. It would just be experimenting. And besides, wouldn’t you want to experiment with me?" Dade said leaning back, putting one hand behind his head and slipping the other under his shirt and slipping it up.

"I…I’m not sure. I really want to wait until I can be with the right person. I want to actually be with that person, you know?"

"Great answer." Dade said as the tone of his face changed dramatically from a horndog teen to a satisfied teacher. "You’ve got quality, Josh."

"Thanks, Dade." Josh gulped as he turned his eyes away from Dade. "But don’t do that to me again. Catch me at the wrong time and I would have been tempted. Were you testing me or something? What would you have done if I had said yes?"

"You’ll never know." Dade smiled as he stood up and walked away.

"Oh man." Josh said trying to contain himself as lust filled thoughts entered his mind watching Dade’s ass as he walked away.


"Hi, Claire." Josh said refocusing himself.

"Was I good?"

"Pretty good." Josh said with a smile. "You looked good."

"I always look good."

"Yeah…you do."

"Be careful I might think you like me."

Josh took and deep breath and finally admitted. "I do like you. I like you a lot. And I would like to know…if...nevermind."

"Shit." Claire said dead pan. "Holy shit."

"I’ve never done this before so…please don’t hate me."

"Are you sure?" Claire asked trying to stem the blush that threatened to overwhelm her.

"I am sure."

"Oh boy." Claire smiled, brimming from ear to ear. "Umm…aren’t you supposed to be gay?"

"Supposed to be." Josh smiled. "I think it’s about time I took some of Dade’s advice."

"What was that?"

"Don’t be straight. Don’t be gay. Don’t be bi. Just be me. Something along those lines."

"Next time you see him, tell him I love him."

Josh just smiled back. This time making firm eye contact with Claire as both tried to see if the other was genuinely interested in them. Both were.

"Uhh…so what happens now?" Josh asked shrugging his shoulders.

"Well…wanna go for a walk?" Claire said slowly taking Josh’s hand in her own as she beckoned him to go with her. "See where it takes us."

"See where it takes us." Josh smiled genuinely. "Sounds good."


* * * * * * *


Mike sat in the library working on his English assignment. Life had been getting gradually better for him lately. He knew he had problems and he’d taken all the right steps to try and remedy them. He still had a long way to go but nothing was going to stop him. He knew for damn sure that he was never ever going to be like his father. Never.

Only one thing bothered him about how things had gone for him lately. He was doing everything he set out to do, exactly the way he had set out to do it. Alone.

That fact didn’t sit well with him. He knew the longer he spent away from Sarah the more she’d grow closer to someone else. In the back of his mind, Mike felt that Lucas was a threat to him. The two had never been as close since Lucas and Storm’s falling out. Sarah being there for Lucas and Mike being there for Storm. Mike knew there was no way he and Storm would end up together. That would just be plain weird. But Lucas and Sarah?

"Maybe I did the wrong thing." Mike said out loud thinking about how he had let Sarah go so he wouldn’t be able to hurt her anymore.

Even though his mouth was saying one thing, his gut still told him that he was right. Sarah was better off without him right now. At least until he cleared his head.

"At least Lucas is there for her, I suppose." Mike mumbled to himself.

"There for who?"

"Oh…for you." Mike said as he unintentionally smiled at Sarah’s presence. "What…are you doing here?"

"We broke up, Mike. I didn’t know that meant we couldn’t talk to each other. Besides, I’m getting sick of not talking to you." Sarah said as she sat down opposite her ex boyfriend. "It’s bad enough Storm runs away from me every time I try to talk to him. Don’t you start too."

"You haven’t been the best, have you?" Mike said looking at Sarah intently.

"Can’t put anything past you, can I?" Sarah said feigning a smile. "I’m just having an off day, that’s all."

"Are you having problems again?" Mike asked concerned. "I thought you were clear."

"No." Sarah said shaking her head. "I’m not."

"What?" Mike asked in disbelieving frustration. "I thought you were. They said you were."

"I was."

"Why didn’t you tell me before?" Mike said hurt but trying his best not to sound angry.

"You have your own problems without having to worry about me and…we’re not together anymore."

"You know I still care. I thought I was doing the best thing for you."

"Then you’ve been hanging out with Storm too much."

"Ugh…damn it. I’m so stupid. This is all my fault." Mike said trying to quell the burgeoning anger with him that he’d been struggling to take control over. "Damn it."

"It’s not your fault, Mike. These things happen."

"Have you told, Lucas?"

"Yeah, he knows."

"Why did you tell Lucas and you haven’t told Storm?"

"I don’t know. I didn’t tell Storm before because I wanted to keep it private and then we thought it was clear and there didn’t seem any need to say anything. Now Storm and I are on the outs. He’s not being friends because he thinks I took Lucas’ side over him. Lucas has been a good friend to me."

"I know." Mike said regretfully. "I’m glad you have someone there for you. Listen, you know if you ever need anything from me. Anything at all. Just tell me ok? I still love you. If you need me, I’ll be here. I’m sorry I haven’t been there for you lately."

"It’s not your fault. It isn’t." Sarah said putting her hand softly to Mike’s cheek. "We don’t have control over these things."

"Is Lucas treating you good?" Mike asked with a deep breath.

"Not as good as you. But he’s good to me."

"Good." Mike said standing up, trying not to show the building tears in his eyes. "You need someone who’ll be there. He’s a good guy. He’ll take care of you. Just remember I’m here if you need me."

With that, Mike turned and high tailed it out of the library and as he did he bumped straight into Lucas who seemed to be looking for Sarah. Mike tried to keep his face as straight as possible as he and Lucas eyed each other up.

"She’s in there." Mike said pointing back towards the library.

"Uhh thanks." Lucas said awkwardly. "How…how are you, Mike?"

"Fine. Just fine."

"That’s good." Lucas said looking at Mike with concern.

"Promise me something, Lucas."

"Anything." Lucas said intently.

"Look after her ok?" Mike said putting his hand on Lucas’ shoulder. "And yourself too. If you need anything, you know where to find me. Anything at all."

Mike didn’t stick around long enough to hear Lucas’ reply. He wanted so much to be able to look after Sarah right now but he knew it wasn’t his place to anymore. In his mind it was Lucas’. He couldn’t imagine how but as far as he could see, Lucas and Sarah were an item. He knew Lucas would be good to her. And as much as it hurt him to not be able to be there for Sarah the way he used to, he’d have to get over it and just be there for her as much as she would let him.

Try as he might though, he would never be able to get Sarah out of his mind. The more he thought about her, the more he hurt. The more often he remembered what led to he and Sarah breaking up, the more he punished himself inside. He almost hit the girl he wanted to spend the rest of his life with. He knew he did the right thing by letting her go until he knew he would never do something like that again. Doing the right thing is never always the easy thing. He hurt inside. And though he was getting his life in order, inside he felt like he was dying every single day he wasn’t with the girl of his dreams. Depression creeping up on him like a silent hunter coming in for the kill.


* * * * * * *


Brad tossed the football to Dade, an uneasy feeling still lingering between them. Dade had been the longest to come around to the new Brad. He’d been holding off, trying to get Storm to see that Brad would soon turn back to his old ways and begin terrorising everybody. Dade would never forgive Brad for what he’d done to Storm. But he would try and give him a chance, especially if his brother wanted him to.

"You don’t have to do this you know, Marcus." Brad said as he caught the football.

"You’re right. I don’t." Dade said catching Brad off guard as he planted his fist square into Brad’s jaw, knocking him off his feet.

"What was that for?" Brad asked as he held his jaw, sore but mostly humiliated looking as if he were about to cry.

"That was for punching me last year. You’re lucky that’s all I give you. Storm may have forgotten what you did to him and so may have everyone else but I haven’t. Be careful, Brad. You made a lot of enemies in your time. I’m one of them. Stick by my brother and you’ll be fine. Fall out of favour with him and you’re mine. Do you understand?"

"Yeah." Brad said covering his face with his hands as he snivelled away.

"Oh don’t start crying. You’re going to make me feel bad."

"Ok, Dade." Brad said standing up, shaking himself off and wiping his eyes.

He threw his bag over his shoulder and picked up the rest of his gear before he quietly began walking off. He didn’t say anything in retaliation, didn’t put up a fight. Just started walking away.

"He really has changed." Dade said surprisingly concerned as Brad continued to walk away. "Brad…"

Brad didn’t say a word, he just turned around and looked at Dade with an unmistakable sense of sadness and feeling lost. Dade couldn’t help but feel terrible at the sight of a once great nemesis reduced to a defeated shell of his former self. The bravado had gone. The real Brad remained.

"I’m sorry."

Brad acknowledged Dade’s apology with a nod and continued on his way. Dade felt like a creep and what at first felt like just deserts now felt like bully material. A year ago he wouldn’t have thought twice about hitting Brad. Now he realized he had hit a different person to the one who had hit him.

"Great stuff, Dade. Just great."


* * * * * * *


"Hey, Cap. You coming to the party tonight?" Bobby ‘The Bruiser’ Weiss asked as the football team walked off the field from an informal run session.

Mike contemplated The Bruiser’s question as he ripped his training shirt off and wiped the sweat off his brow with it. Sweat glistened all over his torso as his muscles tensed and strained, having just been through one of the first pre season runs. Mike always felt awesome after a hard game or workout. He smiled to himself as he tensed all his major muscles and cricked his joints and knew he was in even better shape than last year. Combine that with all the off season play making he’d been doing and he knew he was on top of his game. For one of the few times in his life, he felt like he knew he was great. He knew he was going somewhere and that one day he’d be somebody. One day he’d go pro.

"Come on, Cap. All the guys’ll be there. Let your hair down. You look like you need to relax."

Mike was about to say no when Lucas caught as eye as he walked off the field. Mike’s smile soon faded and he stopped in his tracks, still staring at Lucas’ distant figure.

"Come on. A ton of girls will be there. You can take your pick."

"I dunno." Mike said shrugging his shoulders. "I’m not really into that whole scene right now. Especially not on a school night."

"We only have a half day tomorrow. Plus it’ll give the boys a lift to see their captain there. Josh is going to be there too and you know he’s not a party animal. It’s only you and Lucas who are still deciding."

"If Lucas doesn’t go. I’ll go. If he goes. I’ll pass."

"That wasn’t too cool of him taking your girl was it?"

"Not really. But he is still the vice captain. Gotta give him respect. You find out about the party and let me know."

"Ok, Boss. I’ll talk to Lucas." Bobby said as they entered the changing rooms.

"Talk to me about what?" Lucas asked as he wrapped a towel around his waist and was about to head toward the showers.

"Bobby wants to know if you want to go to a party tonight. The whole team is going. Only you and I are still undecided." Mike said trying to keep an emotionless face.

"Sounds good. Are you going, Mike?" Lucas asked trying to strike up some kind of communication between the two.

"Probably not. I have other things I should take care of. You guys have fun."

"Listen, Mike." Lucas said pulling Mike aside and nodding Bobby away. "We need to talk."

"You’re right. We do. We need to coordinate our offensive and defensive lines based on the team this year. I have a few ideas. You and I will have to go over all of this eventually once we’ve had a few runs and can see the potential of some of the new guys."

"No, not that. We’ll talk about that but we need to talk about us. We were best friends, Mike. What happened?"

"You dissed my brother and you stole my girl. That about sum it up for you?"

"What happens between Storm and I is our business. It shouldn’t affect you and I. And I never stole Sarah. You let her go. Remember?"

"It’s still rude, Lucas."

"You did it to Storm. Storm had Sarah first."

"Her and I belong together. Storm and Sarah had already broken up."


"I’m not getting into this with you here. We have a team to run so we have to respect each other. That’s fine. But we don’t have to be friends." Mike said trying not to raise his voice.

"Yes we do." Lucas said putting his hands on Mike’s shoulders to stop him from leaving.

Mike waited for the changing room to empty out a bit before he responded to Lucas. Mike noticed Josh soaping himself up but paying special attention to the exchange between Lucas and himself. Mike looked Lucas dead in the eye and kept his demeanour as calm as he could.

"You know what she means to me. I needed time to sort myself out. For her sake. You didn’t even give me a chance to earn her love back. You were supposed to be my friend."

"Mike, get a clue. I am your friend. I never stole her. She’s still single. I’m going on a date with Maya Williams tonight. How can I do that if I’m supposedly Sarah’s boyfriend?"

"Oh…good point. But you two are so close now."

"That’s because she needs someone and you know why. You need to get yourself together and claim her back. She needs you. I can only do so much without us crossing a line we don’t want to cross."

"How though? I let her go. I don’t deserve another chance."

"Oh save it. You’ve been hanging out with Storm way too long."

"Not you too. Do you hate him now?" Mike asked inquisitively.

"I’m just trying to move on. He wanted us to break up. He’s the one with the problem. I’m just moving on. Maya likes me. She appreciates me."

"I hope you’re happy with Maya. Storm will be better off in Canada. Away from you."

"Canada?" Lucas asked, taken by surprise.

"Don’t start acting like you give a shit." Mike said stripping his shorts off before he stepped under the water.

Josh, Lucas and Mike were the only three remaining in the showers. Josh promptly exited the showers and went to get changed, not wanting to interfere in the conversation between Mike and Lucas.

"Hey, why don’t you get a fucking clue?" Lucas said yelling in a whisper as he soaped himself up. "It wasn’t my fault things ended up like this. He made the choice. He cut ME loose. I’ll be damned if I’m going to let him control my life by moping around and pining after him. That’s the old Lucas. This Lucas doesn’t take shit like that. If he wants to be an asshole then fine, fuck him. I’m not buying into that shit anymore. He can do what he likes."

"Gee, if I didn’t know better I’d say you were angry." Mike said sarcastically. "Storm deserves better than a fuck up like you anyway. That shit with Ashley was just dumb. I’m not the smartest guy around but even I know how stupid that was of you to do. I don’t know why the hell you even bothered coming back. You screwed things up, Lucas. YOU screwed things up. And Storm’s the one who’s suffering. You may not give a shit but he still does. I’m the one who sees him hurting every day. Not you. You think you’re so fucking righteous. Storm screwed me, Storm was such an asshole. Storm dumped me. Wah wah wah. It’s all Storm’s fault. I hate Storm. I’m going to be bitter and move on without him. Well go fuck Maya for all I care. The sooner Storm gets away from you the better off his life will be. You fucking ruined him. You messed up his whole head. Be happy, Lucas. You broke him. He’s miserable. Good for you. You win."

Mike mock imitated clapping and turned away from Lucas. Lucas just glared back at Mike, seething with anger. He looked as if he were going to explode right there. No one had ever challenged him like this before. Mike had never even spoken to him like this before. He just wanted to throttle Mike. It took all his self control to stop himself from lunging at Mike right there.

"You’ve never spoken to me that way before." Lucas said finally, still seething with anger.

Mike sighed to himself and leaned against the wall, letting the water rush down his body. "I’ve never had a reason to. I have no right to speak to you that way. I’m sorry. I was angry. It won’t happen again. I apologize."

Mike stepped out of the shower and wrapped his towel around his waist as he headed back to his changing room locker and pulled his clothes out. He watched as Lucas slumped down opposite him and without a sound held his head in his hands and began to cry. Silently and softly.

Mike felt a pang of guilt inside him and went to sit down beside Lucas. Out of the corner of his eye he noticed Josh keeping guard at the door, making sure no one saw or entered but also not saying a word himself.

"It’s not your fault." Mike said clasping one of Lucas’ hands, their fingers interlocking tightly. "Storm’s not the easiest person to deal with. I know you’re trying to be strong, you’re doing a great job. Just ignore me. You’re doing fine, Lucas."

"Is Storm really hurting enough to leave Merlow?"

"He is." Mike said nodding his head. "I believe he just wants a new start. I think he’s tired."

"Have I really broken him? I never wanted to. I feel so bad about that."

"Don’t worry. Storm always bounces back."

"I try to act hard, Mike. But I’m still the same. I’m still crazy about him. Still pine over him. Still miss him." Lucas said crying his heart out as Mike held him in his arms and kissed the top of his head tenderly.

"It’s ok, Buddy. Things will work out. You’ll see."

"Thanks, Mike." Lucas said raising his head and smiling through tear filled eyes.

"There’s my Buddy!" Mike smiled as helped Lucas to his feet and gave Lucas a hug.

He patted Lucas on the back and looked him in the eye, one of Lucas’ hands still clasped to his. He made sure Lucas was ok and was taken by surprise as Lucas’ planted a kiss on Mike’s unprepared lips. It was a quick kiss similar to the one other time the two had shared a kiss. Nothing romantic attached to it. Just affection.

"Thanks, Mike." Lucas smiled as he let go of Mike’s hand and carried on getting changed.

"You’re lucky you have really sweet lips. Next time though, let me know before you plan on kissing me ok?"

"Didn’t want to give you a chance to run away." Lucas grinned as he turned to Josh and smiled but he had already left. "He’s gone. I wanted to thank him."

"You two not the closest right now either aye?"

"Yeah…he’s been angry at me for a while. I don’t think he’s angry anymore. We just haven’t had a chance to patch things up."

"There’s a lot of bad blood around right now. A lot of anger. I think it’s about time all of us just sorted our shit out and got things back together again. You and I. Storm and Sarah. Me and Sarah. You and Storm. You and Dade. You and Josh. You know, I’m sensing a bit of a pattern here."

"Yeah." Lucas said smiling wistfully. "A lot of people have problems with me. I can’t say all of it is undeserved either. You’re right though, we need to fix this. I’m with you, Mike. You’re the glue remember. Tell us what to do."

"First things first. Think about what you want. You and Storm can’t just rush back to each other and say please baby take me back. Neither can Sarah and I. Just take things slow and see what happens. Go out on your date and see how things work out with Maya."

"I’ve never stopped feeling the same way about Storm. I just didn’t want to put my life on hold until he wanted to stop being a prick this time you know?"

"Lucas, you don’t have to explain." Mike said hushing Lucas. "Go with your gut. He might do better in Canada anyway. And you might do better without him around. We’ll just see what happens. I have to go. I’m on dinner duty. Don’t worry, everything will work out just the way it’s supposed to. You’ll see."

"Ok, Mike. And will I see you later?" Lucas asked expectantly.

"Sure." Mike smiled back. "Sure."


* * * * * * *



"I’m so sick of being fucken depressed." I said as I threw a tennis ball against the wall with all my might.

"I’m so sick of you being fucken depressed too." Dade laughed as he caught the ball and threw it back against the wall.

"I don’t know what I should do. Do you still love Marcel?"

"Where’d that come from?" Dade said as he caught the ball and gave me his trademark eyebrow.

"I was just wondering. Because if you do still love him, how do you handle it?"

"I just do. I’ve wanted to go out and see him but I wasn’t sure if I should. I do miss him but I’m trying to move on. I still love him but it doesn’t…control me anymore. It’s more of a memory than a feeling."

"With…Claire or Josh?"

"Neither. I like Josh, but not that way. Besides, he’s gunning for Claire."

"I need to talk to Sarah. There’s just so much negative vibes between the pack right now."

"Like Storms around Storm aye." Dade smiled. "Storms that need dissipating if you ask me."

"You are so cool, Bro." I said smiling back proudly. "Have I ever told you that?"

"What’s with you today?" Dade asked shrugging his shoulders. "Your head’s going in ten different tangents. And for someone who’s supposed to be depressed, you seem pretty happy."

"Ahh…that’s because…I’ve come to a conclusion."

"What’s that?"

"I’m sick of being fucken depressed. And I plan to do something about it."

"You’re not going to Canada are you?" Dade said narrowing his eyes at me. "I’ll be so angry if you go. You can’t leave me by myself. I need you. Don’t go, Storm. Please. We’re a team."

"Of course we are." I said putting my arm around Dade’s shoulders as we walked back towards class. "I’m not talking about Canada. I just think it’s about time we all started coming back together. We used to be such a strong unit. But when Marcel left we all started coming apart. Well fuck that. Enough’s enough. It’s time the pack came back. And I’m going to make it my mission to fix everything and make that happen."

"I’m not really sure how you’ll do that. I know I don’t really want to talk to Lucas. Or Sarah. But…if you really want this to happen then…just tell me what I need to do."

"I’ll tell you what you need to do as soon as I know what I need to do. How’s that?"

"Just promise me. PROMISE ME. You’re not going to Canada with Dad. I know things have been bad lately. But they’ll get better. You’ll see. Just promise me, please."

"I won’t be here forever you know, Dade. I’ve always had this feeling that I’ll go before you. I’ve dreamt of you dying before and it wasn’t nice. I think I’d like to go before you. Anyway that was totally off point."

"You’re telling me."

"I meant to say that I won’t always be here. You won’t always need me. If I do go to Canada it won’t change how I feel about you. I love you all the way through. Distance won’t change that. I don’t want to go to Canada but…it does kind of feel that things have reached an end for me here and it’s time to move on."

"I’m going through a hard time ok? I need you. I’m so angry at Dad and the thought of you leaving. Marcel not being here. I’ve just become the third wheel on the Josh and Claire express. I need my bro. And it’s not even just now. I always need you. We’re a team. I don’t ask of you very often, Storm. But this time…I’m asking you. Stay. Please." Dade pleaded, as he looked me in the eye. "Please…"


* * * * * * *


"Here, Mike. Have a beer." Bobby said putting a steinlager in front of him. "It’ll take all your worries away."

Mike looked at the steinlager in front of him. He knew what that bottle meant. Another bottle. And another bottle. And then another bottle. Until you lost count. And then every time he had a worry after that it would be another bottle. And another bottle. And another bottle. Until you lost count.

And then you’d end up…like Bill Mitchell. Mike wasn’t someone who could just drink casually. He knew where this one bottle would take him.

Somewhere he didn’t want to go.

"No thank you." Mike said with a huge smile. "I don’t need one of these to take my worries away. All I need is me."

And with that Mike jumped up on the benchtop, filled with a new sense of direction and exhilaration. He looked out over the gathering of faces and cupped his hands together as he yelled. "I NEED KEYS! WHO’S GOING TO GIVE ME THEIR CAR! IT’S IMPORTANT!"

"Catch!" Carl yelled as he threw his keys up to Mike.

"You’re the best." Mike grinned as he caught the keys and jumped off the bench and made for the door. "I’ll be back as soon as I can!"

"Where are you going?"

"To see my Baby!"


* * * * * * *


"Lucas? You’ve barely touched your food all night. Is something wrong?" Maya Williams asked Lucas as they sat in the same restaurant he and Claire had their first and only date in.

"Sorry. I’m not really hungry." Lucas said feigning a smile, his mind furrowing with thought.

The green eyed, copper skinned Maya Williams was a 5’8 stunner. She had the figure of Jessica Alba and the poise of Angela Bassett. She held herself well but did not impose herself onto others. Her approach was subtle and her manner refined yet gentle and selfless. Her sex appeal on the other hand is what drew Lucas to her.

"You seem distracted." Maya said as she softly wiped the edge of Lucas’ lip with a napkin.

"Sorry. I don’t mean to be rude."

"It’s one of your friends, isn’t it?"


"Does it have anything to do with Storm going to Canada?"

"You knew about that too?" Lucas asked surprised.

"Come on, everybody knows. He’s the class president. He has to give notice before he hands the position to the next in line, Sarah. I’m on the fundraising and sports committee so I hear these things. Storm’s resignation will be final tomorrow. It’s a big loss for our school. He kickstarted a lot of the projects underway right now. I would have liked him to be around for the opening of the new sports center."

"Wow. He’s really leaving."

"I’ve noticed you two aren’t really friends anymore. That’s a shame."

"Can we talk about something else? Like you. You’re really beautiful. Have you ever thought about modelling?"

"Haven’t heard that line before." Maya said flashing a warm smile. "Actually. I do have a portfolio. Dade and I…"

"Dade?" Lucas interrupted, almost trying not to smile so much.

"Yeah, Dade Marcus. He had his portfolio done a little while go. Just before you got back from Hamilton I think."

"Oh man." Lucas grinned. "The little spunk. He actually did it and he never told anybody."

"Uh oh…forget I mentioned that. I know he seems cocky but he’s quite shy and modest. But is HE ever hot. Sorry." Maya said blushing.

"Don’t worry. Dade is very good looking. He could do quite well."

"He could. Anyway…this food is cold now. I’m bored. Let’s get out of here." Maya said taking Lucas’ hand as she stood up.

Lucas took care of the bill and the two walked out of the restaurant hand in hand into the cool night. Lucas felt an increasing sense of nervousness build inside him the longer he spent in close proximity to Maya. His thoughts were scattered but the more he heard her voice the more centred his thoughts became.

They realized they’d walked all the way to the shore of Lake Herren. Maya slipped her shoes off and dipped her toe into the water, surprised by its tepidness. It wasn’t cold. It was…perfect.

"Fancy a swim?" Maya asked, smiling seductively at Lucas with a twinkle in her eye.

"At this time?"

"Sure, you need to loosen up."

"But…I didn’t bring anything to swim in." Lucas said feeling just a tad self conscious.

"Neither did I." Maya said slipping her dress off to reveal her two piece underneath. "It’s a beautiful night for a dip."

"Okay!" Lucas said trying not to grin so obviously as he ripped his shirt off along with his pants.

Lucas kicked his shoes and socks off and was soon standing in just his boxers. He thought for a moment if he should let this moment carry on. Knowing full well it’s potential outcome.

"Come and get me, Big boy!" Maya yelled as she dove into the water and disappeared beneath.

Lucas watched her figure emerge. Saw the moonlight flicker off her water drenched skin. Her curves lulling him into a sense of south of the border euphoria.

"Oh boy." Lucas said unable to stop himself from rushing into the water after her.

The two frolicked about in the water, playfully splashing around and wrestling underneath. One thing Lucas didn’t expect was genuine laughter. He was having a good time. He was enjoying himself. He was having fun.

Lucas was really enjoying being with Maya. She really knew how to help him relax. Soon though their actions became more primal and focused. Skin seemed to brush up against skin more often and with more vigour. Hands wandered endlessly and before Lucas even realized what was happening…


* * * * * * *


I let out the slightest yawn as Brad and I walked along the North Western Bridge of Lake Herren. Just a small wooden bridge. It was a good shortcut from North Merlow to the sparkling lights of Central Merlow. Brad and I were just killing time. Going for a walk. I needed to get away from Dade and so thought I’d see what Brad was up to.

"Dade’s really angry that you might be leaving, isn’t he?" Brad said matter of factly.

"Yeah…I guess so."

"He seems angry a lot lately. He must be scared of losing his older brother."

"Probably. I needed to get away from him. He was pressuring me and I’m not really into dealing with him right now."

"Yeah…hey, Storm. I think…holy shit. Look at that!" Brad said almost knocking me over as he grabbed me and pulled me down behind a tree so we were looking at the beach.

"What is it?" I said not sure what I was supposed to be looking at.

"Isn’t that, Lucas?"

"Oh…wow." I said deadpan as I realized he was right. "And…Maya."

My face dropped like an anvil as I watched the two make out on the sand, their hands dancing a duel all over each other. I’m pretty sure Maya was topless. She has really nice tits. Not that I’m supposed to notice that. All I did notice was her rapid attempts to remove Lucas’ boxers.

"Ok, time to go." I said quietly but forcefully as I stood up.

"Holy shit. They’re gonna have sex right there." Brad said in disbelief.

"I know. Let’s go now. I feel like a voyeur. Come on. Let’s go." I said grabbing Brad.

"Wow, Lucas and Maya. That was kinda fun to watch." Brad grinned as he we quickly made our exit.

I didn’t say much the rest of the way home. There was nothing to say. For all the grief Lucas had given me lately. This was actually the best thing he could have done for me. Now I know with certainty that I’ve lost him. And I can move on. Thank you for making my choice that much easier, Lucas.

"I lose." I mumbled quietly to myself. "It’s time to move on."


* * * * * * *


"Oh…oh…uh…Lucas!" Maya yelled as Lucas rubbed against her.

His lips were glued to her neck, driving her insane. Her hands had made their way into his boxers as his hands had also made their way into her panties. Both had their hands full. Both moaning with ecstasy as Maya slipped a condom from a hidden pocket and brushed it along Lucas’ lips.

"Do you think we’ll need one of these?" Maya asked as she gasped for breath.

Her hand was still working on Lucas’ shaft, making it hard for him to concentrate. It had been so long since he’d had sex he was just completely caught up in the moment. Maya could have asked him to beg like a dog and he would have.

"Oh, yeah." Lucas moaned as his fingers teased Maya with sharp bursts of ecstasy.

"Here. Let me put it on." Maya said as she slowly slid Lucas’ boxers off him.

His member stood sharp to attention. Lucas’ eyes were closed as Maya’s fingers ran up and down his shaft and testicles. He moaned as he felt her warm breath against his throbbing member. And then he hit the payload. He felt the warm wet tingle of lips on his…

"Ahh!" Lucas said jumping away like a frog on speed.

"What? What did I do?" Maya asked confused.

"I…I…I’m sorry." Lucas said pulling his boxers back on. "I can’t do this. I’m not ready."

"I…I don’t understand. I thought this is what you wanted."

"Fuck!" Lucas yelled in frustration, punching the sand. "FUCK!"

"I thought that’s what we were going to do."

"I promised myself I wouldn’t do this again." Lucas yelled to himself as he got changed. "I’m sorry, Maya. I can’t do it."

"I…but why?" Maya asked again, starting to tear up as rejection began to set in.

"FUCK!" Lucas yelled, cursing himself again as images of Storm flashed through his brain. "It’s not fair! Why can’t I be with anyone else!?!?!"

"What are you talking about, Lucas?" Maya sobbed as she slowly put her clothes back on.

"I am so sorry." Lucas said with tears in his own eyes. "I am so sorry. This is all my fault. Please forgive me. I just can’t have sex with you tonight. It’s not you, I swear. You’re beautiful. You don’t deserve any of this."

"I feel like such a whore. And I haven’t even done this before."

"Do yourself a favor. Next time. Pick someone worth your affection. Go ask Dade out. Or Marty Lee. I’m a jerk. I’m no good for anybody. I just screw things up. I’m so sorry. Here, I’ll call you a taxi." Lucas said pulling out his cellphone.

"I only live a minute from here."

"I’ll walk you home. I’m so sorry." Lucas said hugging Maya. "I’m sorry."

"Lucas, you have some shit in your head that you really need to sort out. A women’s feelings are not something you want to hurt. I’m gonna let you off the hook this time but you need to sort out whatever is in your head. Don’t do this to another girl."

"It won’t ever happen again. I’ll make sure of it. It’s happened too many times already."

"Just walk me home. Tell me all about it on the way. And I want the truth. You owe me that much."


* * * * * * *


I lay on my bed staring at the ceiling. Mike was at a party and Dade had gone to pick Mom up from work so I was home alone. I’d already decided in my head what I was going to do. I wasn’t looking forward to facing Dade.

Just then I heard a loud banging at the door. It scared the hell out of me because it was so loud and it caught me off guard. I jumped out of bed and ran downstairs as fast as I could since the knocking was so loud and constant, I figured something must be wrong. When I reached the door and flung it open I was taken by surprise to see Lucas standing in front of me with one of the angriest looks on his face that I’ve ever seen. And it was all aimed at me. So what’s new?

"If you’re here to tell me to fuck off again, I got the message last time. Loud and clear." I said turning to walk away.

"YOU’VE RUINED MY WHOLE FUCKING LIFE!" Lucas yelled angrily as he stormed inside and slammed the door behind.

"And just who gave you permission to walk into my house and mouth off like that?" I said turning back to Lucas so I could get in his face. "And how the hell did I ruin your life?"

"Ever since I met you I haven’t been able to get close to another girl. Every single time I’d start thinking of you. And tonight I thought I’d finally broken it. I was this close…" Lucas said holding his fingers up in front of me and making a miniscule measurement. "I was this close to having sex tonight with a girl I thought I could be happy with. I thought I was safe and then bang, you pop up in my head again. Right when I’m about to get some. I’ll never be able to have a normal relationship with anyone else as long as I live! It’s all your fault! I’m sick of this shit!"

"HEY! FUCK YOU!" I yelled angrily, my face red with fury. "Who the hell gave you the right to burst in here and start mouthing off at me? This is MY house! I respect your space outside of here but don’t you fucken come in here and start throwing your weight around! I’ll knock your fucken head off!"

"Go on! Do it!"

"Every single time I see you it’s only to make my life more miserable. And on top of that you come in here and start throwing this shit at me? I’m sick of it. I’m sick of you. You can go to hell for all I care! You wanted me to fuck off, well I’m fucking off! You can bitch as much as you like about me when I’m gone but I’ll be damned if I listen to another word of this bullshit here. Now get the fuck out of my house!" I yelled angrily as I held the door, waiting for Lucas to leave. "Go on, fuck off! Get out!"

"No." Lucas said steadfast.

"Now." I said simmering with anger, trying to hold myself back from smashing something.


"Just…go, Lucas." I said composing myself with deep breaths. "Just go."


"What do you want from me?" I asked confused, my voice pleading and desperate. "Do you need to hate me? Is that it? Then fine. Go ahead. Hate me. If that’ll help you. Go ahead. I don’t know what you want from me. I don’t know what I can do. I give up. I just give up."

I let the door go and made my way for the stairs. I walked up slowly and left Lucas standing on his own. By himself. The fire in me had dissipated as quickly as it had eventuated. I closed the door to my room behind me and flopped down onto my bed. I heard the slam of the door and figured that Lucas had left. I didn’t hear any footsteps coming up the stairs so I closed my eyes and tried once again to shut out the world.

Then I heard a rustling outside and an almighty crash. I poked my head out the window and saw Lucas sprawled out on the ground, holding his stomach and looking as if he were trying not to laugh. I smiled down at him, pretty certain of just what got him into his current predicament.

"Are you ok?" I asked concerned.

"Aside from a bruise to my ego. I’m fine. I’ve never fallen down before. Not here."

"We’ll it’s been a while, you know? And it’s dark." I said laughing. "Hold on, I’ll be right down."

I jumped out the window and in two deft movements was on the ground below at Lucas’ side. I helped him sit up and we both couldn’t help smiling at the situation. I tried to keep my distance even though my natural instinct would have been to fuss over him or hold him. Be close to him at least.

"You sure you’re ok?" I said smiling as I brushed a wisp of hair out of his eye.

"I’m fine." He replied smiling back at me. "I was trying to get into your room. I thought it would be cuter if I came through the window. This isn’t exactly the look I was going for."

"If it makes you feel better, you still look cute all sprawled out on the ground."

"Storm…" Lucas said as he slipped his arm around the back of my neck, not once breaking eye contact with me. "We’re soulmates. We’re meant to be together. We keep coming back to each other. This is meant to be. I love you. We can either fight this and keep being angry at each other all the time. Or we can accept it."

"I’m not going to fight it. I won’t fight. I’m crazy about you. Have been ever since I met you and will be until the day I die."

"You can’t keep holding things against me, Storm. That’s one thing that has to change. If we move forward from this, you’ve got to forgive me for the Ashley incident. You never truly forgave me for that and I don’t think that was fair. I never held things against you. The truth is, Storm. I miss you. I miss you so much it hurts me. But I’m not going to let you walk all over me this time. We both deserve respect and you better start dishing more of it out my way and stop making me feel like shit and like I’m the bad guy all the time. Because I’m not." Lucas said with frustration and clenched lips, his mood having rapidly changed from jovial to watery eyed and aggravated. "I make mistakes but so does everyone else who draws breath in this world. You can’t keep punishing me for every little thing. We were supposed to be partners but you made me feel so inferior so often. Like your sixteenth birthday party when Marcel left and you just totally turned on me in front of Claire. And the time you flipped on me for telling Josh about us and threw me up against the wall. I didn’t deserve any of that. You treated me like shit so many times and I just let you do it. Let you manipulate me. Let you try and control me."

"You’re right." I moaned with frustration. "But if I’m so damn horrible why are we wasting our time standing here talking? I treated you like shit. I didn’t love you enough or some shit like that. I’m the real bad guy here. I get it. You don’t have to keep telling me. I get it."

I was trying not to cry now. He’d broken me. Again. It just felt like all he wanted to do was crush me and hate me and punish me. I stood up and took a few deep breaths, composing myself before I started to walk away.

"That’s your solution for everything, isn’t it? Walk away. Run away. Ride away. Fly away. Anything to stop you from dealing with the problem. Just walk away. It seems so easy for you to do." Lucas said shaking his head, his voice soft and dejected. "That’s typical, Storm. True to form. As always. When things hurt. You hide. You hide until you feel strong enough to face the problem. Stop being a coward. It doesn’t suit you."

"Do you have anything constructive to say? Or are you just going to bash on me every time we talk? The only thing I feel from you these days is hate." I sighed defeatedly, letting the silent tears run free now.

"Shut up damnit!" Lucas cried frustrated. "I love you. Don’t you get that!? I miss you. How can you think I hate you when you’re the one who pushed me away? When you’re the one who still runs through my mind every single minute. I just want us back together. I didn’t say those things to hurt you, I said them to put my point across. I hate hurting you, Storm. Please don’t cry. It’s killing me. I don’t wanna hurt you and I sure as hell don’t hate you. You can’t honestly believe that can you?"

"I don’t know what to believe anymore." I said, my voice still defeated, my face wracked with tears but empty ones. "It just hurts to know you feel so much animosity towards me. And it hurts that you’re right."

"I’ve made mistakes. Big ones. But you can’t keep holding them against me every day. You need to let go if we’re ever going to make it. And I want us to make it. I do."

Lucas was the one crying now and I turned around and put my arms around him. I held him for the first time since we’d broken up. It felt so good. I rubbed his back and held him close to me as he cried on my shoulder. Both of us breaking down the hardened walls that we’d put between each other.

"I need you, Storm. I still love you. Nothing’s changed except I feel like if I don’t get you back soon, I’ll explode. I didn’t think we’d ever get back together. But I never gave up hope. We just keep coming back to each other."

"There’s so much I need to work on when it comes to you, Lucas. I think I should be the one asking you to take ME back. I just felt so bad because I knew you were right about all the things you said. I really wasn’t very good to you."

"You were, ok? You’re the best thing that ever happened to me. Those are just some of the problems we had. The good stuff outweighs the bad by infinity."

"I know."

"So what are we going to do? Are you going to give us another shot or are we both going to keep being miserable?"

"Are you really sure? You seem like you’re actually better off without me."

"I’m not. I just want you to start treating me better. If you love me, show me. Do you love me?"

"What do you think?"

"Then be with me." Lucas said as he pressed his lips slowly against mine and eased me down onto the ground with him.

Well here’s something I hadn’t expected today. Intimacy with Lucas. Go figure. I’m in love with the taste of strawberry. Right now I was getting my strawberry fix. I’ve never once tired of kissing Lucas. His lips always seemed so lush and melt worthy. I loved it when he had his way with me. His lips dancing with mine before the inevitable make out.

I don’t remember how long we stayed like that. All I know is it wasn’t enough. This was one of those moments I could have stayed in forever. It felt like my first kiss with him all over again. He was mine. He really was.

"Storm…" Lucas said panting as he pulled away and seemed to glow at me, smiling sheepish and content. "I am so happy right now. I’ve missed this."

"I have too, Babe. I can call you that again right?"

"Anything you want. Baby’s fine." Lucas smiled as he sat up. "I have to tell you something."

"What is it?" I asked as I sat up with him.

"Here." Lucas said pulling my hand under his shirt.

I knew what he was doing. Besides giving me more than just a quick thrill at feeling his flesh and muscle beneath my fingertips. He was placing my hand directly over his heart. I smiled at the familiar gesture.

"You know as long as it beats. I love you. Even when you think I don’t."

"I know."

"I also want you to know that I’m the happiest here…" Lucas said holding my hand tighter to his heart. "I’m the happiest in here when I’m around you. That’s when I’m truly happy. I feel so good right now. Like weight’s been lifted off my shoulders. I love you so much."

"Thank you." I said smiling with the beginning hints of watery eyes. "Thank you. For telling me how you really feel. The good and the bad. That means so much to me. You already know how I feel. Umm…are we together?"

Lucas didn’t say anything. He just smiled slightly and nodded. I took his free hand with my own free hand and interlocked our fingers as I looked him square in the eye.

"We’re going to do this again. This time we’re going to do it right. I promise you. I need to treat you better. We need to be happy. And if we’re going to be happy. I need to stop being afraid. I anticipate doom and it comes. Well not this time. We’ll make it work." I said confidently, brimming with joy.

"What are you thinking?" Lucas said eyeing me up and down. "You’re up to something."

"I’m going to show you that you mean everything to me. I won’t let you get frustrated any more, Lucas. I know what you wanted most from me. I knew it back then and I never gave it to you. It’s the one thing that I think could have made a difference."

"I always thought I just wasn’t good enough for you to be proud of being with me."

"I’m sorry you felt that way. I’m sorry I made you feel that way. Let’s get some sleep ok. It’s cold out here and it’s getting late. Wanna stay here?"

"Uhh…I would really like to." Lucas said grinning as he stood up, grabbing me by the hand to help me up too. "But I better not push things on the first night. Being a gentleman and all."

"Oh sure, Mr. Gentleman. You know…you tasted different tonight. Kinda like…oh what was it."

"Don’t start." Lucas said blushing. "We weren’t together, you can’t hold that against me."

"Hey, I’m not! I’m just…laughing. I’m sorry you didn’t get laid. She has really nice tits. She’s extremely fu…no that’s not nice to think like that. She’s really nice. It doesn’t hurt that she’s a knock out either."

"Dude, dude. Don’t start." Lucas said putting a finger to my lips. "Besides, she is hot…"

Lucas began looking me up and down, making me feel slightly self conscious right now as I realized I was being compared. He had a mischievous glint in his eye. His fingers dancing a tune under my shirt as he checked me out.

"She has nothing on you though. You’ve changed, Storm. You’re getting bigger. Stronger. Harder even." Lucas grinned. "I don’t know how the hell you managed to stay single."

"Same reason you were."

"You know why I stopped tonight with Maya?" Lucas said pinning me slowly up against the wall as his lips once again lingered inches away from mine. "Because no one will ever be able to top you. You’re the best. You know why."

"Don’t start." I said cringing as I tried to keep south of the border from moving north. "You better go."

"You’re right." Lucas said snapping back into sheepish Mr. Irresistable again.

"I’ll see you tomorrow?"

"Not if I see you first."

"Bye, Lucas."

"Bye, Storm." Lucas said giving me one more kiss to melt over before he left. "Thank you so much for tonight. I’m so happy right now."

"Me too. See you tomorrow."

He kept staring back at me with a silly grin on his face, trying to stall his actual departure. I wasn’t really sure if I wanted him to leave just yet either. Just before he closed the side gate behind him, he popped his head back through, still wearing his trademark sheepish smile.

"I love you."

"I love you too." I replied.

And then he was gone. But his impact remained. I didn’t expect things to be perfect from the get go. We had to work at it. Good things take time. What was important was feeling the love we felt for one another for the first time in a very long time. Since just before the ‘Ashley Incident’. I love him. I love him with all my heart. I say that now without any slight hint of hesitation. I love him. Nothing’s going to take him away from me this time. Not even me. I know what I need to do to make sure Lucas knows he comes first. I know what I need to do to keep him. The same thing he’s asked for but never demanded. The question is, am I strong enough to do it?

Am I?


* * * * * * *


Dade walked into school making idle chit chat with Carl. It was true that ever since Dade had jumped a few classes, he’d been gradually moving unintentionally into what he classed as ‘Storm’s circle’. He didn’t mean or want to but it seemed as if the whole grade were in the circle. Making it more than a little difficult to find his own niche.


Dade turned to see who was calling out to him as he and Carl stood at the front gates. It was Josh. Dade feigned a smile and waved back. Carl just patted him on the shoulder and left Dade to go after Josh. Dade didn’t particularly want to go after Josh. But he knew it would be too obvious if he started ignoring Josh’s morning calls now.

"Hey, Bud." Dade smiled wholeheartedly as he greeted his current best friend.

Emphasis on the word current. Things were about to change. Dade could feel it in the air already. He felt he’d fulfilled his usefulness in Josh’s life now. The Josh of today had far surpassed the shy, reserved, shell of yesterday’s Josh. The Josh that Dade had made a point of trying to help.

"Hi, Dade." Josh said brimming with a smile that threatened to explode if it got any bigger.

"Hey you guys." Claire said as she approached the two.

"Hi." Josh said with an obvious twinkle in his that Dade instantly caught.

"Hi, Claire."

"How are my two favourite men today?"

"Great." Dade smiled.

"Great." Josh echoed.

Dade watched the two with amusement. He picked up on the body language that had sparked between the two for months but today it was different. They were trying not to be obvious.

"Congratulations." Dade said trying to kill the awkward silence between the three.

"Uhh…thanks." Josh said blushing.

"Yeah, Dade. Thanks." Claire said unafraid now to take Josh’s hand openly.

Dade could tell that Josh was still not comfortable with the gesture which wasn’t surprising since he’d never had a girlfriend before. He found the play between the two rather amusing. Dade felt like an old hat when it came to being with someone else. He liked seeing a couple who still looked as though they were innocent to the kind of trials that many before them have undergone. It made him smile.

"You know…it’s because of you we’re together, Dade." Josh said patting Dade on the shoulder. "Thanks for nudging us together. We wouldn’t be here without you."

"The word you’re looking for is ‘kicked’." Dade said correcting Josh. "Kicked you together. Anyway, you two look like you need some private time. I’ll…see you guys at lunch."

Dade grabbed the two and gave them an impromptu group hug before he headed on his way. He had now become the proverbial third wheel.

"Man that sucks." Dade said laughing to himself as he headed towards class.


* * * * * * *


I sat twiddling my thumbs in class, waiting for it to hurry up and finish. And it did. And I shot straight up out of my chair. Rushing to get my first glimpse of Lucas for the day. No sooner had I walked out the door I bumped right into Lucas. Both our faces were covered in all knowing grins.

"Hey, Baby." Lucas whispered mischievously.

"Hey, yourself." I replied with a wink.





"You’re beautiful."

"Bet you say that to all the girls." I said grinning.

"Yeah I do. But only to one guy."

"This is fun. I’ve got butterflies."

"Me too."

"Hey have you seen Mike? He didn’t come home last night." I asked concerned as I remembered Mike’s lack of presence at the breakfast table this morning.

"Nope. Have you seen Sarah?"

"No, I haven’t."

"Good." Lucas smiled. "That means they’re together right now."

"Good. It’s about damn time. Those two belong together. If they are together that is."

"They’re probably thinking the same thing about us. Or maybe they’re too busy making up for lost time."

"Probably. Uhh…Babe. What’s wrong with Sarah? I know something’s wrong. And I know she told you."

"You have to ask her, Storm. It’s not my place to say anything either way."

"I’ll call her today. I feel really bad that I haven’t been there for her lately."

"That was my fault. I’m sorry, Babe."

"It’s ok. I’m just worried about her."

"She’s fine, Storm. Mike’s with her. I know it. I bet they’re fucking two ways into the next age right as we speak."

"There’s a thought." I said grinning. "Let’s go."


"Where else?"

"The stall is so romantic." Lucas said pursing his lips at me as he unthinkingly grabbed my hand.

"Hey guys." Carl said as he walked up to me and patted me on the back.

My hand snatched away from Lucas before I’d even realized what I’d done. Exactly the thing I said I would not do. Lucas just let out a disappointed sigh and walked off. He mouthed that he’d see me later but not very enthusiastically. I felt so bad right now, this was exactly what I said I wouldn’t do.

"Hi, Carl. How’s it?" I said feigning a smile.

"Good to see you two talking again." Carl said with a wry grin. "You two make a good…pair."

He knew. He knew. I could see it on his face. Carl was probably the only person on the outside of my circle of friends that had the most inkling of something going on between Lucas and I. He’d seen enough of Lucas and I together to pick up signals I’m sure. He never once hinted that he knew. Until now. But I wasn’t going to bite. Not yet.

"We’re friends aren’t we, Storm?" Carl asked trying to make eye contact with me.

I looked Carl in the eye, realizing the implications of his statement. He valued my friendship with him. It mattered to him. I’d always thought of him as a friend. A pretty good one at that. A long time friend. But that was it. I was obviously more than that to him. He wanted us to be real friends. Not just superficial ones. I thought that was all he wanted. I think I was wrong.

"Of course we are, Carl. Why do you ask?"

"I get the feeling you don’t really trust me as much as your other friends."

"What are you getting at?"

"Nothing, Storm. Don’t worry." Carl said resigning the conversation. "It’s ok. Let’s go to class."

I could feel the amount of disappointment emanating of Carl right then. I’d just made him feel second class. He’s been a good friend to me ever since we’ve known each other. He’s been steady. Ever since kindergarten.

Carl and I sat down in class and proceeded studiously with our work. Carl didn’t say much to me the entire class. He didn’t seem angry. He just didn’t seem interested in talking. I tried to talk to him but he’d zoned out on me. Finally when class ended we both stood up to leave and I followed him out into the hallway.

"Wanna play some ball?" I said hopefully.

"Sure, Storm." Carl said feigning a smile.

"Carl." I said halting him. "What’s wrong? Have I done something to upset you? You aren’t usually like this."

"Well…I don’t know what to say. I just thought we were friends that’s all."

"We are. Why are you getting so serious all of a sudden?"

"We’ve been friends for as long as we can remember. I can understand with Mike and Marcel that they’re your best friends. But Brad and Marty Lee? Those two guys were jerks to you and now you talk to them more than me."

"I didn’t think you cared."

"I don’t want to be the jealous type or anything but I think I’ve hung around long enough to earn your trust and get a promotion. Don’t you think? It’s obvious you don’t trust me." Carl said in a tone that gave everything away.

He knew. He knew everything. I’m good at reading people and right now I’m reading knowledge. Carl knows. He just won’t say anything.

"I never told you, Carl. Because I didn’t think you’d accept me after I told you."

"Then you obviously don’t know me as well as you should." Carl said visibly annoyed now as he began walking away, pausing to leave me with one last comment. "If you did, you’d know I’m loyal and that I’m not a redneck. I’m a good friend, Storm. You just never gave me a chance to be one. Go and find Lucas. You have some making up to him to do."

"Can we hang out later, Carl?" I yelled after him, eagerly awaiting his response.

He didn’t give me one.


* * * * * * *


"I haven’t done a very good job by our boys, have I?" Daniel Marcus said as he and June sat in the Lakeside Lodge restaurant enjoying a cup of coffee after their breakfast together.

"We all make mistakes. But you’ll be making an even bigger one if you try and split them up. They need each other. Dade needs his older brother."

"I know. I just feel like I’ve missed so much time. I have a chance with Storm to make things right. Dade won’t give me the time of day. Storm will."

"So you just give up on Dade, is that it?"

"I’m just wasting my time with him. He hates me."

"You can’t break them up. You just can’t."

"I’m due to fly out in two days so Storm has until then to decide if he wants to come with me."

"I wish you hadn’t of asked him. I really wish you hadn’t. I just know that he’s going through a really hard time right now and you asking him to move to Canada with you is just giving him a way out."

"Is that such a bad thing? Maybe he needs to get away from Merlow. Maybe it’s time he saw more of the world. This could be a good experience for him. Dade’s a survivor. He’s still got you and he’s still got Mike."

"He needs Storm. He needs his older brother. If you take Storm away now…he won’t come back. Nobody ever comes back to Merlow. Just look at you. Once you moved away, you never looked back."

"That’s not true. I always look back. I always look back. I wanted to be here. I want to be here. You know I do."

"Don’t start with that again. You and I were brought together for three very good reasons. Their names are Abby, Daniel and Dade. You made me the happiest woman in the world. That’s history now. We both know why."

"You know what? Storm takes after you so much. You’re both so stubborn and unforgiving. You won’t give me a chance and he won’t give Lucas a chance. Nobody gets a second chance with either of you. You fuck up once and that’s it, you’re screwed for life. There’s this thing, it’s called being human. Ever heard of it, June?" Daniel said fuming with anger as he tried not to create a scene, but stood up calmly to leave. "I’ll take care of the bill. Tell Storm, I’ll see him tomorrow and I hope he comes with me."

"You’re right." June said abruptly without raising her head to make eye contact with Daniel.

"Excuse me?" Daniel said raising his eyebrow in disbelief.

"I never gave you a second chance. I should have and I’m sorry. I know a lot of the reason you stayed away was because for a long time it hurt to be around me without us being together. It was hard for me too. I know that’s what kept you away from the boys a lot. The truth is I was so hurt when you left…I didn’t want to risk putting myself through that again."

"I know, June." Daniel said softly as he put his hand on top of hers and smiled at her. "I never deserved a second chance…I still don’t…but look in my eyes and believe me when I swear to you, I would never hurt you like that again. My heart is yours. It is now, it was then and it still will be tomorrow. I’ve messed things up. I’m not asking for an instant reconciliation or even assuming that one will happen. But please…give me a chance to earn your love…and your trust again. Just one chance. We can go as slow as you want. Just give me one chance, please."

"We’ve both changed so much. So much time has passed. Do you think there’s still hope for us?"

"There’s always hope. What’d ya say? May I spend the day with you? Let me go to Canada knowing we both gave it a shot."

June paused for the longest time. Not saying anything. The butterflies in her stomach were starting to grow wings and fly again after she thought them long dead. Her face seemed to glow and almost blush. That coupled with the ever so slowly growing smile on her face and the long dormant twinkle in her eye gave away her answer.



* * * * * * *


Dade sat at his usual lunch table. Waiting for Josh. And Claire. He looked at his watch. 12.05pm. Josh is never this late. Claire sometimes is but never Josh. Dade sighed with a sense of disappointment.

"They won’t show. I am officially the third wheel."

"Dade!" Josh yelled as ran up to Dade with a smile on his face.

Dade raised both his eyebrows in surprise and stared blankly at Josh who Dade noticed was making no attempt to sit down. Josh stood tapping the table. A trait hitherto unknown of Josh.

‘The man must be in love’ Dade thought to himself. "Hi, Josh."

"Listen. Claire wants…"

"It’s ok, Josh." Dade interrupted, not letting Josh finish his sentence. "Go on. I’ll be fine."

"Are you sure?" Josh asked feeling guilty.

"Get outta here." Dade said reassuringly as he nudged Josh away. "Go on."

"I’ll see you after school?"

"Suuure." Dade smiled, not believing that he would see Josh after school.

"Thanks again for helping me, Dade. I never would have gotten Claire without you. She makes me so happy. I…I think I’m…"

"Don’t say it. Not on the first day."

"Anyway. Thank you, Dade. You’re my best friend." Josh smiled before he turned and rushed off.

"And so it begins…" Dade sighed to himself as he flopped his head down on the table.

Dade didn’t like where he was right now. He felt like he’d lost Josh and now he was alone again. He didn’t have much time to be alone though as he was soon brought to attention by three large thumps on the table.

"So…is this the rejects table?" Carl said smiling at Dade as he sat down.

"Is it that obvious?" Dade said smiling back.

"It is to a fellow reject. Have you seen Mike?"

"Not today I haven’t actually. Do you know where he is?"

"He must be at Sarah’s. He’s got my wheels. He took them to go and see Sarah last night. He must still be with her. It’s only a half day today so he probably thought it wouldn’t hurt to skip."

"Wait’ll Mom finds out!" Dade said with a wicked grin. "Skipping school to screw the girlfriend I bet!"

"I need one of those."

"Yeah…me too." Dade sighed. "Geez we suck."

"Geez…you’re right. We do!" Carl laughed.

"The names, Dade Paul Marcus." Dade said extending his hand to Carl in a mock gesture as if they hadn’t met before. "Pleased to meet you."

"Carl King Bentley."

"Well, Carl King Bentley. It’s you and I now. Thanks for joining me today. I was feeling like a right loser."

"That goes ditto for me."

"Sucks being me." Dade laughed as he dropped his head on the table again. "I am such a loser now."


* * * * * * *


I walked into the middle of the school’s busiest pedestrian thoroughfare. Just my luck. Students and teachers mulling back and forth going to and from different blocks. This is not where I wanted to be. But this is where Lucas was so this is where I was going to go. He stood leaning against a pole as people walked all around him.

I couldn’t see anyone in particular but I could feel as if everyone were watching me. Josh, Claire, Marty Lee, Brad, Carl, Dade, everyone. I knew what I had to do. I just didn’t know if I had the balls to do it. I was about to say goodbye forever to the life I had known up till this point. The safe life. From here on out…and I do mean ‘out’, things are going to get a whole lot more interesting. Goodbye former life. I love Lucas more than I love you, so I’m saying goodbye to you.

Lucas had a forlorn, deep look of concentration on his face as if he were lost in thought. I had a feeling I knew what he was lost in thought about. Sure he was glad we were back together but he looked as though he was depressed. Thinking that things are going to be exactly the same this time and that I won’t give him what we need to survive. He probably thought that after my initial euphoria, things would be back the way they were. Little did he know…

My hands were almost shaking, my breath quick and my heart racing as I walked towards Lucas. I took a deep breath and closed my eyes as I tried to summon the strength to keep walking towards him.

"You can do this, Storm." I mumbled to myself.

That’s when Lucas looked up and realized I was looking at him and walking towards him. He looked at me inquisitively at first and then his eyes grew wide with realization and disbelief before finally a large smile broke out on his face.

I stepped nervously up to him, looked him in the eye and shakily put my hands on his waist. I gulped and tried not to look at the rapidly growing attention we were receiving. My breaths were heavy and labored and I thought I would faint from nervousness. This was it. Could I really do this? My weak knees were saying otherwise but my heart was pressing me forward. Time to put up or shut up.

"I’m not sure if I can do this. Or if I should. But this time I really do want you to know that you do mean everything to me."

My eyes locked onto Lucas and soon enough, I’d forgotten completely that we were being watched by an increasingly curious crowd. Lucas’ lips curled as if to say he loved me and soon I felt his arms slip around my waist. Amongst loud yells of ‘Holy Shit!’ and ‘What the hell?’ and in plain view of what seemed like the entire school, I leaned forward tasted the strawberry lips I’d so long desired. I kissed him…


* * * * * * *

 Coming Soon - Season 4!

Welcome to 2004!  WOOO!!   Well that's the final chapter for season 3.  The finale.  I really hope you all liked it.  Next season will be even better!  I tried to fit each major and supporting character into this chapter.  So everyone gets 'screentime'.  Naturally the Pack dominates but the supporting mains have some good spotlight too. 

It's hard to believe I'm over halfway there.  Only two more seasons left.  Next season will be the biggest season ever of Storm Front.

Anyway, I hope you really liked this chapter.

Until next time...

Stay Tuned for SF25: Unbreakable and send me a note** to let me know what you thought of Chapter 24: Dissipating Storms
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