By SF Writer
Copyright 2004  Stormnation, All rights reserved.

SF27: Winds of Change
Season 4

* * * * * * *


"Hey, Babe. Sorry to keep you waiting so long." Mike said apologetically as he approached Sarah who sat reading a book in one of the library's private corners.

Sarah raised her eyes above the book and smiled warmly at Mike. She sat with her legs sprawled out next to the large conservatory window that let her see out towards the snow capped mountains past Lake Herren. The gray skies of impending rain were beginning to settle over Merlow. The sound of soft raindrops lulling Sarah as she was reading her book.

Mike raised Sarah's legs from their position and placed them back down over his legs as he sat down next to her. She closed her book and placed it beside her as Mike clasped one of her hands within his own. He beamed a smile of pride and love at her, unable to resist the temptation to place a quick kiss upon her lips.

"What's that book about?" Mike asked as he leaned back against the window.

"The third reich. For our social studies assignment."

"Yucky." Mike said squinting his nose.

"So how'd the meeting go?"

"Coach wasn't too disappointed. We pretty much have all the changes decided for next week."

"Anything major?"

"No. Lucas had a few problems out there today but it was his first time out as VC. He may just need time. Coach wants him to attend our post game session next week."

"That makes sense. VC's are supposed to attend. Brad always did."

"Brad pretty much had the VC spot well under control. It was one of the few things I used to admire about him."

"Do you really think he's changed?"

"You'd have to ask Storm."

"Honey...about Storm." Sarah said awkwardly.

"What is it?"

"When I told him last night...we..."

"I see." Mike said gruffly. "I knew something like this would happen one day. I understand."

"You do?"

"He was your boyfriend before me remember. For a lot longer than you and I have been together. I can understand the emotions getting a little mixed up after sharing that news. Did you really have sex though?"

"No." Sarah laughed. "But his hands did wander an awful lot during the night."

"Can't say I blame him." Mike said with a knowing grin as he leaned down and placed a lingering kiss atop Sarah's foot. "He doesn't know what he's missing."

"I just had to tell you. I don't want us to hide things from each other."

"I expected something like this to happen one day. I just didn't know how far it would go. You and Storm have always been close. You and I only just got back together so...I suppose I would have understood if something happened between you and Storm. Even if you had of let your hormones get the better of you and you two had sex. I would have dealt with it. The poor guy really does need to get laid with a woman just to get it out of his system. I know he looks at you that way a lot. You know how you hear about these men who have families and go to their thirties trying to be straight. Then all of a sudden they cheat on their wives or leave them to go off with another man. I sometimes worry that Storm will stay with Lucas but always wonder what it's like to be with a woman. Then one day he'll cheat on Lucas or just up and leave him for a woman. I wish he had of gotten laid with a girl while he was apart from Lucas. Just to get it out of his system so he won't have wandering eyes so much with Lucas. That's the trouble with being bi I suppose."

"You say that like you can relate to him." Sarah said with a mischievous smirk.

"Nah. I tried that. It doesn't work for me."

"You what?!"

"Yeah. Lucas and I. I kissed him. To see what it's like."

"Was it good?"

"It was ok. He has nice lips. But I didn't want to make love to him or anything. Yuck." Mike said shaking his head. "No, no, no. Pussy please. Pussy please."

"Oh so crass." Sarah laughed.

"How are you feeling today?"

"Pretty good."

"That's good. You want to come over for a while? Watch some movies? Or do you want to go back to your place?"

"Can we go back to your place?" Sarah asked lighting up. "I feel like being around friends. I just wish Marcel were around. It would be nice to have all of us around today. I'm sure Lucas will be sleeping over at your place tonight."

"Sounds like a plan." Mike said standing up and offering Sarah his hand. "Shall we go then?"

"Yeah let's get out of here."

Sarah took Mike's hand and he lifted her onto her feet. He held one hand on the small of her back and the other underneath her chin before he placed a kiss on her unexpecting lips. Sarah let out a small laugh as she wrapped her arms around Mike and the two began making out keenly. Sarah felt the butterflies in her stomach rise as Mike raised her off her feet and carried her entirely by her waist.

"You're so strong." Sarah sighed as she gazed lovingly into Mike's eyes. "And what was that kiss for?"

"Just to make sure you knew I love you. Besides you're so pretty it's so hard to resist planting a kiss on those sweet lips of yours." Mike said stealing another kiss before he swept Sarah over the threshold. "Time to go."

"What is it with people carrying me like this?"

Mike ignored Sarah and carried her straight out of the library, pausing only to throw both their bags over his shoulder. Both were so wrapped up in the feeling of happiness between them that they didn't notice anything as they walked into the foyer outside the library. Sarah's eyes did a double take however when she saw the trail of blood over Mike's shoulder. She followed the trail of blood with a look of horror before it led to its eventual target.

"Brad!" Sarah yelled as she and Mike walked into the main hallway where Brad's bloodied form lay slumped against the wall.

Sarah jumped out of Mike's arms and rushed to Brad's side with Mike swiftly behind her. He wasn't crying but she knew he had been. He almost seemed to be in shock. Almost as much as Sarah was at seeing him like this.

"Brad! Brad!" Sarah yelled frantically as she surveyed him for damage.

"Huh?" Brad moaned.

"What happened, Brad?" Mike asked impatiently as he began ripping the sleeves from his shirt to use them as rags to stop Brad's bleeding.

A lot of the blood was dry and it was easy to see that Brad's tears had actually dispersed much of the blood on his face. Sarah was sickened by the sight before her. She did what best she could to make him comfortable.

"I...I don't know. It's not as bad as it looks." Brad moaned as he used his left hand to hold his ribs.

"Are your ribs broken?" Mike asked as he soon noticed that Brad's right arm hung limp. "Is anything broken at all?"

"I'm ok. I don't want any trouble."

"Brad." Mike said forcefully. "I know you better than this. Talk to me. We've done this before in a dozen games together when one of us has been hurt. I know you're in pain. You need to tell me how bad it is. You can trust me, Brad. You know that."

"Ok. My right wrist is broken. My right shoulder is dislocated. I think I may have bruised ribs at least. But it feels like one or two may be broken. I know my face is a mess but I can handle it. It'll heal. I don't think my nose is broken. I hope not. Everything else will just be bruising. But just call my Dad. He'll pick me up and take me somewhere to get fixed up without causing a scene. Don't call an ambulance. I'll live."

Mike nodded at Sarah as a silent agreement passed between them. Sarah quickly stood up and pulled her cellphone out of her bag as she walked away. Brad sighed in relief thinking she was calling his father when in actual fact she was calling June Marcus.

Mike pulled a metal rod from the wall and tied it to Brad's arm to form a makeshift splint. There wasn't too much else Mike could do at the moment. Except try to find answers.

"Who did this, Brad?"

"No, Mike. Forget about it. Please. You'll only make things worse."

"Brad, you know what? I was the one who found Storm in the state he was in after you and your goons had your way with him. Now you guys really hurt him and it was just lucky that you didn't break any of his bones. You used a baseball bat for crying out loud. Now I've dealt with you since then but I've never forgiven you. But what you did to Storm...this is worse. You didn't deserve this. Whoever did this needs to be dealt with by the police."

"No!" Brad yelled suddenly, exerting himself so much so that he moaned in agony and held his ribs with his working arm. "I don't nark. We handle our own, remember? I got back from Lucas and Sarah what I gave to Storm. They dealt with me. We handle our own. Even I know that. We just have to make sure nobody finds out about anything that happened here today."

"And what are you going to say to people, Brad?"

"They surprised me. It all happened so fast."

"Is there anyone else you want me to call?"

"Just my father. Don't tell anyone else. Promise me, Mike."

"What about Storm, aren't you two friends now?"

"No. Definitely not him. He'll only try and hit back at the person who did this."

"Who was it, Brad?"

"No." Brad said firmly.

Sarah soon returned to Mike's side with a frown on her face. She shook her head and Mike instantly picked up on her meaning. June could not be reached. A concerned frown passed over his face and he nodded again at Sarah who stood up and left to call Brad's father for real this time. She returned not long after with a disappointed look on her face as she knelt down beside Brad.

"I called your father. He's on his way." Sarah sighed. "Brad is there anything else we can do to make you more comfortable? We're going to have to inform the school since this happened on school grounds and there's blood all over the ground."

"NO!" Brad moaned again, obviously in pain as tears began falling from his eyes. "I'll deal with it. Please, Mike. Make sure nobody knows what happened here. Please, Mike. We used to be team mates. Do this one for me. I'll owe you whatever you want. Just take care of this for me."

"Fine but only on one condition." Mike said firmly.

"I won't tell you who did this." Brad replied equally in kind.

"At least think about it then. This is serious, Brad. You look like you've been spear tackled about ten times too many and kicked in the head at the bottom of a ruck for a day and a half."

"I feel like it." Brad laughed before he grabbed his sides in agony. "Don't make me laugh."

"Sorry." Mike said putting his rolled up jacket behind Brad's head for support. "Just rest. Everything will be taken care of. You just rest."


* * * * * * *


Marcel's dreams were filled with hopes being realized. The successful achieving of an ultimate fantasy. To be the best. He dreamed of a sea of people in an Olympic stadium. All cheering for him. The one hundred meter champion.

The sun shone down, baking his already sweat covered skin. His head bowing slightly as he stood on the dais and received his medal in recognition of his outstanding performance. This is what he'd dreamed of all his life. Forget the rest, Marcel was the best.

But that's all it was. A dream. And as the crowd began to disappear. The music faded away. The sun seemed to dull and be replaced by a gray of inequity. The darkness of dreams being destroyed overwhelmed him. The once huge sea of people became a small group of jeering heckling faces, contorted and evil. They screamed at Marcel. Tormented him.

Marcel shot bolt upright as a cold sweat racked his body. He shook and shivered as he took in his surroundings. He was still in the Marcus household. `Thank goodness' he thought to himself. This was the safest place for him right now. The one place he felt comfortable. Warm. Invited.

Darkness had set in outside and the house was also dark. He still seemed to be alone. He wiped the sweat from his body with his shirt and awkwardly tried to stand. His left leg wavered but he remained steady. He was still tired but craved the warmth and comfort of a bed.

Right now, Storm's bed or Mike's seemed like the safest bet, as Dade didn't seem too fond of him at the moment. He stumbled into the kitchen and pulled open the fridge, pouring himself an orange juice. He drunk it down in one gulp and then headed towards the stairs.

"Where is everybody?" he asked himself as he stood at the bottom of the stairs.

The house seemed so empty. So devoid of life. It was almost eerie. He needed someone to be home right now. Although at the same time he dreaded facing anybody. He was just about to walk upstairs when he heard the key turn in the door. He turned anxiously to see who it was and was immediately surprised by the person who greeted him.

"Marcel? Is that you?" Daniel Sr. asked as he walked into the house and closed the door behind him.

"Sir?" Marcel said out of habit. "You have a key? Has something changed since the last time I was here?"

"No." Daniel Sr. smiled. "June and I have been...talking a lot lately and we seem to have made some progress but nothing has changed that much. She let me have a key so I could come and go as I please. I was hoping there would be somebody here interested in dinner. Is anybody else home?"

"No. I don't know where they are. Dade went out somewhere. I don't know where anyone else is except June said she'd be back soon but I fell off to sleep and I think that was several hours ago."

"Well then. You'll do." Daniel Sr. said with as a smile as he opened the front door for Marcel to step through it. "Throw on a shirt and you and I can grab some dinner. What do ya say? We can catch up. It's been a while."

"Sounds good." Marcel said smiling back.

Marcel walked into the lounge where his bags were still packed and his left leg buckled just slightly but enough for Daniel Sr. to notice. He quickly grabbed a shirt out of one of his suitcases and threw it on. He leaned over and pulled his sandals on, a slightly pained look coming over his face as he tried to mask the slight stiffness he felt in his leg. He tried to look as natural as possible but as he finally stood up, he realized it was for nothing.

"What happened to your leg? Cramps?"

"Ahh yeah. It's just a little tight. Long trip."

"Okay. Well let's get out of here then." Daniel Sr. said ushering Marcel through the door.

Marcel tried his best to look calm as the two exited the door. The door shut solidly behind them and soon the house was empty. It remained that way for a time. No echo throughout it. No light bringing life into it. It was simply cast in shadow as it waited for an occupant to return and spring it to life. Minutes passed. Minutes that soon turned into hours. Shadows grew longer and the house remained still. Devoid of life until finally the sound of a key wrangling at the door cut through the silence in the house. Life had returned.

June Marcus stepped through the door and closed it firmly behind her. She smiled as she gleamed Marcel's bags in the lounge. One of her `children' had returned home. Her natural maternal instincts began kicking in as she entered the lounge and grabbed his gear. She ferreted back and forth moving all his bags up into Mike's room. Marcel was a fairly organized person and he had always had a pattern in packing his bags. She knew that his biggest case was always assigned to clothes. A second case assigned to other affects and a third shoulder bag to personal items. She knew that he trusted her enough to go through his bags when necessary. She'd done so since he was ten.

Memories flashed through her mind as she began unpacking his clothes. She looked at the garments and realized how much Marcel had grown since she'd first started doing this for him. Her eyes began to tear as she thought back to those days when everything just seemed to be so perfect. How things seemed to change so much since then. Her daughter had left her and was now a completely self reliant family woman. Her boys were now all young men. The marriage she once thought eternal had proved to be anything but.

How things change. She held one of Marcel's jerseys to her face and inhaled the scent. She was almost overcome with emotion as she realized how foreign it was to her. How much it had changed. Only time can do such things. Marcel had grown up.

With an air of both love and melancholy she began packing his clothes into the drawers once given for Lucas to use. She thought of her household now. How much it seemed to be changing. Her drive and instincts had been so maternal for years gone by yet soon they would be redundant. Soon her boys would too be gone and she would be left alone in her house. She loved so much looking after her boys. This included Mike, Marcel and even Lucas. They had all become a part of her life. She had loved them. Taken care of them. Given herself to serve their wellbeing. That was her drive in life. It was one of the things she enjoyed purely. The thought of this changing terrified her. It had all gone by so fast. Yet somehow she felt as if she'd missed so much. Or that in some she had failed her boys. Failed her family. She believed in providing the strong, secure family environment that they needed to develop. Yet much of her time had been devoted to work to cater for the household in the last few years. Ever since her marriage fell apart.

"Maybe this is my mid life crisis." June said to herself as she finished packing away Marcel's clothes.

She placed his other bags by the wardrobe and loving placed a clean set of his track pants on his bed. She knew he loved sleeping in these. With tears threatening to fall from her eyes, she stood at the door to Mike's room and stared into it for a few moments. She absorbed all the memories that seemed to be associated with it. The feeling of it. And then she slowly turned the light out, closed the door and headed back downstairs.


* * * * * * *


Dade stood outside Josh's front door having just knocked on the door. He was hoping to catch Josh by himself as they hadn't had much chance to talk lately. Josh was still his closest confidant right now and Dade really needed to talk to him. Thankfully it didn't take long for the door to be answered and the woman who did smiled gleefully at Dade when she realized it was him.

"Hi, is Josh home?" Dade asked as he stood dutifully at the door of the Barrett household.

"Sure, Dade." Petra Barrett said as she ushered Dade inside. "Would you like a drink, Dade?"

"No thank you, Mam."

"Josh is in his room. Go on in."

Dade smiled at the woman and carried on to Josh's room. He was sure that Josh's parents liked him. He always tried his best to be courteous and respectful. He knocked on Josh's door which was already slightly ajar and found Josh sitting at his desk with his school books out in front of himself.

"Hi, Dade." Josh said with a smile.

"Hi, Dade." Claire said surprising Dade as she sat on the window ledge.

"Oh, hey." Dade said faking a smile.

He had really wanted to speak to Josh alone but these days it was nigh impossible to find him separated from Claire. Even though the three had once been strong friends, lately they had been barely friends. Dade was clearly on the outer.

"What's up?" Josh asked as he swung his seat around to face Dade. "Everything ok?"

"Yeah. Uhh...I just wanted to say hi. You guys check out your movie?"

"No not yet. We're going in about five minutes. We had to change session times because Claire's brother was in town so we wanted to spend time with him before he went home."

"Oh, that's nice."

"How about you, Dade?" Claire asked buoyantly. "What'cha been up to?"

"Not much."

"You should come to the movies with us."

Dade's heart dropped when out of the corner of his eye he spotted Josh shaking his head at Claire as if she had asked something he didn't want. Dade was indeed the third wheel. It seemed he'd served his purpose with Josh and was no longer of much interest. Dade decided to save Claire the trouble of retracting her invitation to him and to make Josh happy.

"That's ok, Claire. I just wanted to say hi that's all."

"Are you sure?" Claire said with the slightest bit of annoyance that was not directed at Dade.

"Positive. Hey, I'll see you guys later. You have fun. Bye, Claire. Bye, Josh." Dade said nodding to both of them before he promptly left the room.

"That was a quick visit." Petra Barrett said smiling at Dade as he headed to the front door. "Come back soon, Dade."

"Bye, Mrs. Barrett. Bye, Carly Bear." Dade said smiling at Josh's little sister who in smiled a big wide smile back at Dade.

Dade closed the door behind him and was surprised at how the girl's smile had somehow made him feel a little bit better. Just as he walked down the footpath he heard the door open behind him and a rush of footsteps. He turned to see it was Claire who quickly ran up to Dade and put her hand on his shoulder.

"I'm sorry, Dade. I don't know what has come over Josh lately."

"I hope you didn't tell him off. I don't want to cause any trouble."

"We're all friends here remember."


"Come to the movies. I'm still your friend aren't I?"

"Sure you are. But it's ok."

"What's wrong? Why did you really come over?"

"There was something that I told Josh about before. I needed to talk to him again. It was just about my Mom. There were some things I told him before but I never told him the whole story and I felt like I should."

"Well come in and tell him now."

"No, I don't think so anymore. I think Josh and I have passed our use by date."

"Do you mean that?"

"Well to be honest, Claire. I feel pretty rejected. I was with Josh the whole time he was trying to break away from Brad and become this great person he is now. I didn't forget about him. Now he seems to have everything he always wanted and I don't seem to matter anymore. I was supposed to be his best friend. But I suppose I served my purpose. I tried to give him as much lee way as I could but I can only take so much. I just wish he'd tell me to my face. I have to go. I have things I need to take care of. Bye, Claire."


* * * * * * *


"I think Dade is angry at you. And I think it's my fault." Claire said seemingly out of nowhere as her and Josh were eating dinner after their movie.

"About what?"

"Because you've been neglecting him and rejecting him over and over again. We've been spending too much time together Josh. I should have seen this earlier. We've hurt our friendship with Dade."

"Are you serious?"

"Can't you see it? He's feeling rejected. And he saw you shaking your head before. Don't be surprised if he backs off real quick Josh and when our honeymoon is over and you want your best friend back, he may not be waiting for you."

"I didn't mean to upset him...I guess I was too busy thinking about us."

"When Dade was with Marcel, did he forget about you then?"

"No..." Josh said feeling a sudden rush of guilt. "Dade has been with me right from the start. You and I wouldn't be here without him. I wouldn't be here without him. Oh man...I did real bad."

"I should have seen it too, Josh. Dade told me he was through with you two now. That you and I can just live happily ever after. He's served his purpose."

"Oh no...if he said that then he is feeling really bad right now." Josh said shaking his head. "How could I? I was too busy thinking about you. Thinking about us."

"I don't think I helped. I wanted to spend time with you too. I guess in the high we just..."

"Forgot about Dade..."


* * * * * * *


"I'm sorry, Babe. I know you don't really want to be here." Lucas said shrugging sheepishly at me. "She insisted though."

"When did you tell her we were back together?"

"You know me, Dude. I told her as soon as I got home!"

"Well...there's not much we can do now." I said as Lucas and I walked up to his front door. "We're here."

"It's not too late for you to change your mind, Dude. I'll understand." Lucas said trying not to look too disappointed.

"It's ok. But you know, I never really got a chance to ask how things were between you and Mira since you moved back in with her?"

"They've gotten a lot better. I don't think she resents me as much as she used to. We sorted out a lot of things. She seems a lot happier now. So does my father. She's a lot happier and now he's a lot happier too. He doesn't just sit there reading his paper anymore when he gets home from work. They laugh more. It makes me really happy. And I think she loves me again like she used to before everything went to hell with Ashley and we moved to Merlow."

"Great. I'm glad you two have made progress." I said probably not sounding as interested as I should have, Mira still made me wary.

"I'm glad the air has cleared between you and I now. I've wanted to see your Mom for the longest time. I miss her a lot. She really helped me out when I needed somewhere to stay. I owe her a lot."

"You and me both." I said with a reflective tone. "I don't know what I'd do without her."

"I have to say...I loved living with you, Storm." Lucas said with moist eyes. "It took me a long time to get over missing you. I hope you and I get another chance to live together."

"Yesterday it was marriage. Now it's living together. What'll it be tomorrow?"

"His and her towels?"

I raised my eyebrow at Lucas in true Dade fashion. He smirked back at me and broke out with a small laugh. His face full of joy. I couldn't help but reciprocate the look.

"Sure, I think I'd like that."

"What are you two doing standing out here?" Mira said opening the front door.

She greeted us with a large smile and surprising me, she kissed my cheek and gave me a great hug. As if we were family who hadn't seen each other in a long time. It made me feel rather awkward. Actually it made me feel incredibly awkward. It was like hugging my arch nemesis. I managed a small smile and tried my best to return the gesture.

"I'm so glad you're here, Daniel. Thank you so much for coming." She said smiling at me again before giving me another great big hug. "Oh, I'm so glad to see you. You've made my son so happy."

"Mom...please." Lucas blushed. "You'll scare him away."

"The feeling's mutual." I said with a genuine ear to ear smile that made Lucas sigh happily. "And thank you for inviting me, Mam."

"I know that you and I have a mixed history, Storm. But I'd like us to be able to realize we have one thing in common. We both love my son. Let's work from there. It's Mira. Not Mam. We've seen the ugly sides of each other more than we should have. Wouldn't it be nice to see some of the good sides?"

"Yes, Mam...err I think I'll stick with Mam. If we're starting again, I'll start with Mam. We'll work up from there."

"Very well." Mira said with a smile. "Come inside. Dinner is almost ready. I hope you two are starving, I made Lucas' favorite."

I raised my eyebrow at Mira, again mimicking my brother. "KFC?"

"Dude, KFC covers every major food group." Lucas said mock annoyed. "Don't knock it."

"No. It's Chop Suey, Raro Salad and Roast Pork with vegetables." Mira said as we stepped inside and she closed the door behind us.

"Wow!" I said genuinely excited. "That sounds great!"

"Dude, you get the royal treatment." Lucas said nudging me as we were ushered to the table.

"May I wash up before we eat?"

"Certainly." Mira said with a nod.

Lucas and I trudged to the bathroom. Lucas keeping his hand on me at almost all times. As if to make sure that we were always together. Then when we reached the bathroom he hurriedly closed the door and nudged me in the arm. We quickly washed up and headed back to the table. Lucas was starting to make me feel slightly uncomfortable with his clingy behavior but in a way I did find it to be very reassuring. And to be honest, Lucas has always been this way so I shouldn't really be surprised. Even before we started dating, he was touchy feely with me.

We entered the dining room holding hands and I was caught by surprise to see Lucas' father John sitting at the table with a newspaper in his hand while he waited for dinner. He surprised me even more with a smile and extended his hand to shake mine.

"Hello, Sir." I said shaking his hand.

"Hello, Daniel."

It wasn't the first time we'd met but today it seemed like I was almost meeting Lucas' parents for the first time. I suppose because it was like a fresh start for Lucas and I and things really were different now. We were both `out'. I hate that term but that's the word.

"Dude, you're so polite." Lucas whispered proudly in my ear before he placed a quick kiss on my cheek which made me frown big time. "Dude, chill out. It's not like they don't know."

"Just keep the PDA to a minimum." I said softly shoving him away. "It makes me feel uncomfortable."

Dinner went quickly and without incident. In fact it was almost a startling success. It was such an enjoyable evening. The food was great. And there was so much laughter had by the three of them. I could tell the tone in the house had changed so much. It was all due to Mira too I would say. Her whole attitude had changed from a domineering, extremely bitter woman to one who had let all of that bitterness go and perhaps realized that life was too short to live that way. Her change in attitude had a ripple effect on her household and the occupants within it. Mr. Sheridan seemed to come out of his shell. Lucas was so much more relaxed and happier. He seemed so proud of his parents now. He smiled at them with a twinkle of pride in his eye and responded to them with affection and genuine love that was so sorely missing in the past.

I marveled at the way they were with each other now. It was just absolutely fantastic. So much laughter and happiness. I was the quietest one at the table. When dinner was over, we adjourned to the lounge for tea and coffee and still the mood remained the same. Buoyant, extremely cordial and relaxed. When it was all over, I was almost disappointed. Almost...

"Will you be staying over, Daniel?" Mira asked me out of nowhere.

I almost spat out the hot lemon tea in my mouth as she threw that question out of nowhere. I've stayed at Lucas' before but I always felt uncomfortable so I kept it to a bare minimum. Once it was common knowledge that Lucas and I were together, Mira never asked me to stay over even though she was very fond of me. I suppose it was because at that time she still believed Lucas was corrupting me. And of course he was, but in the sweetest way.

The fact that Mira was asking seemed to show that her attitude had indeed changed. As if she not only condoned and accepted us, but wanted to embrace us too. It was bloody scary.

"Uhh no thanks. I work in the morning."

"Lucas or anyone of us could give you a lift in the morning."

I looked at Lucas who seemed embarrassed by his mother but still hoping that I'd say yes. As much as I didn't want to, I agreed. I didn't want Lucas to feel like I didn't want to be there and I didn't want to reject Mira when she was trying so hard. It was the least I could do.

John and Mira both readied for bed and came to say goodnight to Lucas and I. I still couldn't get over how different Mira seemed. Just so much happier and more receptive. She kissed both Lucas and I goodnight and then left us in the lounge by ourselves. Lucas lay back on the couch and lay his legs over my lap as I sat. He let out a great big sigh and smiled at me.

"Thank you."

"What for?"

"For making my parents feel comfortable and good. They really like you." He said proudly. "This night meant a lot to Mira. I hope you didn't feel overwhelmed."

"It was a great evening. Really weird but great. Things seem to be starting off a lot better for us this time."

"I know, Dude. I really am so happy." Lucas said taking my hand and holding it against his chest.


"Did you wanna stay up and watch a movie or do you wanna...get some sleep." Lucas said mischievously as he rubbed my fingers over his left nipple.

He let out a moan and I smiled wickedly to myself. I slipped my hand under his shirt and positioned myself over him. I let my lips hover just above his, just barely letting us kiss. I moved slowly downwards, letting my fingers tease his nipple relentlessly as I used my free hand to ease his shirt up. His tight midsection was now exposed. I darted my tongue out over his abs and placed small kisses all around his belly button. Then I blew a cool wisp of air over the same area and he bit his bottom lip all while I teased him. I began moving even lower now till the source of his excitement was evident. The fabric could do little to mask the way Lucas felt right now. A wicked smirk crossed my lips before I bent down and bit lightly through the fabric right on the tip of his member.

"And that's all you're getting tonight." I said jumping off him with a terrible smirk on my face.

"Dude!" Lucas moaned as he sat up quickly and used a cushion to cover his uhh...little general, I mean big general! "That was way harsh. Come on, please! Gimmie some Storm. I want some Storm."

"Not at your parents. No way! That's just too weird."

"Storm, I'm practically screaming down here. It's been so long. Please, please, please. Come on, Baby."

"No way. Not here."

"Dude, you can't tease me like that and not gimmie some. That's just mean. I want some damnit!" Lucas said grabbing me by the shirt and gritting his teeth.

"Na uh. Not here."

"Fine have it your way." Lucas said angrily as he stood up and walked out of the room.

He came back not long after with a pair of shoes and began putting them on. He threw the keys to Mira's car in his pocket and then walked straight up to me. I gave him a bewildered look before he grabbed me and threw me over his shoulder.

"Lucas! What the hell are you doing?"

"You said not here. So we're going back to your place." He said as he carried me over his shoulder right into the garage where the car was waiting.

He put me in the passenger seat and I sat there while he pulled my seat belt on. He hopped in the drivers side then pressed the button to open the garage before we quickly sped out. We didn't say anything the whole trip. Lucas had this cocky smile plastered on his face like he knew he was going to get some or something.

We arrived at my house quickly enough but Lucas parked on the roadside. I still couldn't figure out what he was up to. Before I could even say anything he pulled me out of the car and threw me over his shoulder again. He marched me right into the backyard. It was then that I realized what he was doing.

In a show of strength that made me proud, he carried me right up to the treehouse over his shoulder. Now this was somewhere I hadn't been for a long time. Dade obviously still used it as his time out space. When he needed to think. There was still a futon mattress with sheets and coverings on. A lamp and various other items were strewn about. So many memories came out of this tree house. But tonight, Lucas only wanted one memory.

As soon as we got in he threw me on the futon and began ravaging me. He literally tore off my clothes and threw them aside. His lips barely leaving some part of my body.

"Damn it, Storm. It's been so long. I never thought you could be more beautiful but're cut even more than before. I've missed so much..." He said thoughtfully as his fingers traced my pecs down to my hard six pack. "You're so much bigger."

There were almost tears in his eyes as he realized the amount of time we'd been apart. It was painfully obvious when we saw how different we looked now since when we were together. His hair was so much shorter. He even seemed taller somehow but I just put that down to the new haircut changing his look.

His fingers lingered over my body, tracing right down from my pecs to my feet. Then he leaned down and placed lingering kisses on my chest, stomach and then my shoulders. Kisses that were slow, long and deliberate.

"I've missed you so much. I miss this." He said gripping my waist firmly. "I miss being with you. You've changed so much."

"Well...I guess we should get to know each other again then. Don't you think?"

"I'd like that." Lucas said trying his best not to cry. "I don't want to ever look at you again and wonder where it all changed. I want to see it all from now on. From now on, you belong to me. That's it. I'm staking my claim."

My non-committal side popped up again as it had for most of my life. Fearing the thought of being tied down. Only this time I felt somewhat wiser and a little more grown up. I knew that some things had to change inside me if it was going to work out with Lucas. I hated being apart from him but then when we were together I seemed to push him away. That wasn't going to happen this time. I'd committed to our relationship in front of the school. Now it was time to do it again behind closed doors. You can do it, Storm. Change for him.

"Ok, Baby." I said smiling back up at him. "Stake your claim. I'm all yours."

"I've been waiting for this." Lucas said as he sucked on the flesh of my neck. "I love you, Storm. I don't want to force you into this. I know it's been a long time since we made love. Is it too soon for you?"

"I'm ready." I said with a sure smile as I pulled Lucas down and placed a swift angel kiss on his lips before I rolled him over so I was on top. "I love you, you know that right?"

"I think so." Lucas said blushing proudly.

"Well in case you didn't hear me the first time, I love you." I said as I eased his shirt off over his head and continued undressing him. "And in case you didn't hear me the second time, I love you."

"I think I remember how this goes." Lucas said laughing as I buried my head in his neck and eased his pants off.

And with that we began our lost but not forgotten routine of ravaging each other under the covers. It was filled with a lot of laughter and genuine joy. Two things that made the experience that much more than it already was. We were both happy. I held my head above him having just finished tickling him so much he was almost crying.

"And in case you didn't hear me the third time..."


* * * * * * *


Marcel arrived back at the Marcus household with a fairly genuine smile on his face. He had just had dinner with Daniel Sr. and it was almost like old times when he often thought of Daniel Sr. as the father that wasn't quite his. Marcel felt a sense of melancholy when Daniel Sr. described how much he realized he still loved June Marcus. He remembered the days when the two were most happy. When the family really was a family. He took comfort in the fact that deep inside himself he had the tiniest sensation that believed Daniel and June Marcus would be together again.

"Baby!" June said as she greeted Marcel with a kiss and a warm hug.

Marcel immediately lit up as he felt the warm comforting arms around him. He had always felt secure with June. He knew she'd always take care of him. And even though now he was a lot older and a lot taller. More of a man now as opposed to the ten year old she used to watch out for.

"Oh, Mom. It's so good to see you." Marcel said closing his eyes as he embraced the hug.

He felt a pat of approval and support on his back from Daniel Sr. and noted out of the corner of his eye a small kiss placed on June's cheek. Things seemed to have warmed up a hell of a lot between them since he was last around.

"You seem to get older every time I see you." June said standing back to look Marcel over. "You're a man now. You really are."

"Come on, Mom. I'm not that old."

"No, no. You're not." June said smiling with a hint of melancholy as she looked at Marcel. "But you've changed so much since you left. You've had to grow up so fast. Sometimes I wonder whether it was the right move sending you out there. But that was your decision and your parents to make."

"If it makes you feel any better. I sometimes wonder the same thing."

"It doesn't make me feel any better. It just seems like you've grown up a little bit faster than you really had to. You and Daniel are the same age but he still has some growing up to do. But with you now, there's a different look in your eye. You've grown up."

Marcel shrugged his shoulders and the two made their way into the lounge. Marcel sat down as June went to the kitchen to prepare them both a hot drink. Daniel Sr. followed behind June and Marcel was almost certain he could hear the two of them fooling around. Marcel kicked his sandals off and placed them by the door just as it opened and he was greeted by another occupant of the Marcus household.

"Aww, Snoogums!" Mike said as he bounded through the door and greeted Marcel with a hug.

Mike's face lit up with joy as he lifted his friend off his feet and spun him around in a hug. Marcel grimaced slightly but tried to mask it before he pulled himself away and smiled at Mike.

"What the hell are you doing here, Blondie?"

"I came to see Sarah mostly but I wanted to see everyone else too. It's been a long time."

"Too long ya bastard." Mike said grinning with a huge happy smile. "Oh man it's so good to see you. How long are you back for?"

"I'm not sure yet. I need to sort a few things out before I decide how long I'll be back. I still have to catch up with Storm and Lucas but especially Sarah. Where is she?"

"She's outside talking to Dade. She's know...telling him."


"So!? Come on! Fill me in!" Mike said excitedly as he dragged Marcel upstairs. "How ya been? Whatcha been doing?"

"Gently, Mike. My leg's a bit sore." Marcel said stumbling up behind Mike. "And Mom's making a hot drink for us."

"What? What happened?"

"Blondie!" Sarah yelled as she walked through the door.

Her eyes were already red, as she and Dade had obviously shared some tears. Marcel wrapped his arms around her and placed a few urgent kisses on her as they hugged. He felt his eyes well up as he realized why he was here and suddenly the thought of losing Sarah overwhelmed him. He kept his composure but one tear managed to escape him as they held each other.

"I didn't expect to see you here so soon." Sarah said sniffling through her own tears.

"Yes you did." Marcel said with a smile. "You knew I'd come back."

"I hoped."

"You knew." Marcel said kissing Sarah's forehead.

He put his arm around Sarah to lead her into the lounge when he spied Dade standing in the doorway. The two shared a brief, cold stare before Marcel led Sarah away. Dade was left standing in the doorway with a stoic expression on his face that tried to mask the pain he was feeling right now.

"Hey, Baby." June said greeting Dade with a warm smile and kiss hello. "You hungry?"

"No thanks, Mom." Dade said smiling sincerely. "How are you?"

"Pleased to have a full house for once. It seems so quiet these days. Why don't you go in the lounge and catch up with Marcel. Your father and I are preparing some light snacks for everyone."

"Dad's here?"

"He just brought Marcel back. They went out for dinner to catch up."

"Oh." Dade said feeling even more pangs of hurt. "That was nice of Dad. Where's Storm?"

"I'm not sure. I haven't heard from him today. I had a late night at work tonight. I haven't been home too long."

"You work too hard." Dade said patting his mother's arm supportively. "Take a break. Why don't you go in the lounge and I'll finish making everything."

"Sure. You can help your father." June said smiling at her son before she tilted her head quizzically. "Son, are you ok?"

"'d tell me if...there were something wrong with me, right?"

"What kind of something?"

"Oh nothing. I love you, Mom." Dade said kissing June's cheek. "I'll go help Dad."

Dade feigned that everything was ok and made his way into the kitchen. His eyes met with his father and an uncomfortable air filled the room. It seemed to follow Dade around these days. He seemed to be at odds with almost everybody.

Dade took his place beside his father and helped prepare some of the crackers and light snacks for everybody. They tried to cooperate as easily as possible without saying anything but the tension was tangible. The last words they'd exchanged were not pleasant ones and both of them had reason to feel hurt. It wasn't long though before Daniel Sr. showed he was the more mature one and tried to break the ice between them.

"You've really grown. You're a young man now. It seems like yesterday when you and your brother were playing little league."

"Yeah." Dade said flatly, not breaking his concentration off the task before him.

"Listen, Dade. I know you're angry at me. For a lot of reasons. All I can say is I'm sorry. I thought I was doing the right thing. But it wasn't. I should never have left your mother. We should have never split up the family. Abby and me, you boys and your mom. It wasn't right. I know you think I favor your brother..."

"You do."

"I'm sorry if it seemed that way. I don't want you to hate me but I don't really know what I can do to try and fix things between us."

"It's ok. I know why you favor Storm. And...I just want to say. I understand why." Dade said with tears falling down his cheeks. "I have no right to be angry at you. I understand that now."

"Dade...what's wrong? What are you talking about?"

Dade turned to Daniel Sr. and put his hands on either of his shoulders. "The food is ready. I'm going to sleep in the tree house tonight. I just want to be by myself. Have a good flight in the morning. And I don't hate you. I'm just...really sorry. I'm really sorry that you're not...the father I want you to be. You haven't been and you never will be. And I'll never be the son you want me to be. I never have been and I never will be."

"Listen, Dade. I know we have our problems but surely we can work through them?"

"We don't have to. I'm not your problem." Dade said patting his shoulders before he walked away.

Daniel Sr. stood dumbfounded. His heart feeling as if it had been ripped out and shot to pieces. He tried to compose himself as June walked in and noticed immediately that something was wrong.

"Daniel?" June said putting her hand to his face. "Is everything ok?"

"No. No it's not."

"What is it?"

"There's something wrong with Dade. Something seriously wrong. He said some very strange things to me. Very unsettling things. It was as if he'd truly given up on he and I ever having a relationship. I know I've hurt him but...there was something in the way he said it. He seriously believes that he isn't my problem anymore. That I'm not the father he wants me to be and that he's not the son I want him to be. That we never have been and we never will...oh..."

"No." June said firmly. "He doesn't know. He's just going through a crisis right now. Something to do with his brother."

"He seems to think we love Storm more. But even more than that. He seems to have accepted it. I'm really worried, June. There's something wrong with him. I think he knows."

"No!" June said adamantly. "He doesn't know. No one knows. There's no way he could know. Storm doesn't even know. Storm would tell me if he knew."

"I think I need to cancel my trip. I have a feeling my son needs me and I've spent enough time being away from him. Maybe we should tell him, June."

"NO!" June said even more adamantly now. "Don't cancel your trip. I can take care of Dade. You're overreacting. He doesn't know. He couldn't know. He just couldn't..."


* * * * * * *

Hope you enjoyed that chapter.  We are starting to see Dade unravel as he has slowly been since way back in the second season in SF14: Redemption and just before.  There has been a reason for his motives since that point.  A reason why he was on that bridge, a reason why his resentment for Storm started kicking in a lot more, a reason why he craves affection and isn't often happy.

This season will see a lot of resolution and the last season will basically be the aftermath of what's left.   Like Sarah's illness.  etc etc.

As you can see, even the older characters can change.  Daniel Sr.  Mira.  Have all undergone character adjustments since being put into messy situations.  Mira has apparently made peace with her son finally and she's not so much the bitch she used to be.   Daniel and June are perhaps on a reconciling track.

Sarah is still sexy as ever and although she admitted to Mike about her conflicted feelings towards Storm, she maintained her integrity I think in being up front with him.  I really think her and Mike are in a love that's actually stronger than any of the other characters.  Just my opinion.

And finally we have Marcel.   We still haven't really heard how long he is going to be around but hey, it's looking it'll at least be three chapters!  Last season it was only two.  He didn't get too much screentime but what he did, it's obvious that he's changed as well.   Hope you enjoyed the chapter and I'm pretty sure that there'll be a new chapter soon.

Coming Soon - Things take a dark turn in Merlow with three part Crossroads series.  A crossroads that will change the face of Storm Front forever when Merlow loses one of it's best.

Stay Tuned for SF28: The Darkest Day and send me a note to let me know what you thought of Chapter 27: Winds of Change
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