By SF Writer
Copyright 2004  Stormnation, All rights reserved.

SF28: The Darkest Day
Season 4
Part I of the III part Crossroads series.

* * * * * * *


I dreamt the dreams of happiness. Lucas by my side. Surrounded by my loved ones. Mike, Sarah, Mom, Dad, Abby, Dade and Marcel. We were all together. Happy. Smiling. We were all together. Inside the lounge. Everyone seemed happy. No one said anything it was as if we were wrapped inside joy. It almost made me cry. Mom smiled at me with a loving smile. She told me everything was going to be just fine. She had her arm around Dade. Mike had his arms around Sarah. Everyone was happy.

But then suddenly the tone of the dream changed. The room grew darker as the skies outside become covered in an ominous cloud. Mom looked at me strangely, as if she were hurt and sad. And even puzzled at me before suddenly she fell to sleep. Dad stared blankly at an old family photo on the mantelpiece. Marcel's eyes were also downcast and filled with sadness. Abby looked at Mom with a melancholy look in her eyes as she seemed to be rocking a baby who wasn't even there.

Mike held Sarah in his arms. His eyes were blank and expressionless as he rocked a sleeping Sarah back and forth. He kept asking her to wake up. But she would not listen.

I turned to Lucas beside me who suddenly pulled away. Tears streamed down his eyes. His face filled with hurt and sorrow. He looked like he wanted to take my hand but couldn't reach his arm out. I couldn't understand it.

Finally I turned to Dade. He was holding onto Mom like he used to when he was little. He was crying and his wrists were bleeding. Then he turned to me angrily and I looked past him in horror. I realized that we weren't alone. In the hallway right behind Dade stood a shadow. Someone I didn't recognize. My heart began racing as the shadow seemed to realize I was staring at him. He stepped out of the darkness towards me and my eyes went wide with horror. He reached for Dade but I lunged at him. I jumped over Dade and tackled the shadow who laughed at me horribly.

Soon I realized I was holding onto nothing. I stood up and turned back but everyone was gone. The house was empty. The photo of my family had fallen and shattered. The seats were all empty. As if they had been empty for days, maybe even months. The room was filled with an eerie ominous feeling. I was alone. All alone.

I woke with a start. Stirred from my sleep by a nightmare that I could not place. A terrible feeling I couldn't shake. I turned to see Lucas still sleeping soundly. This brought a smile to my face and I couldn't resist the urge to steal a quick kiss from his lips. It was still dark outside as I popped my head out. Dawn hadn't quite come yet. It looked as though when dawn finally did come, there would not be much sunshine around. The sky today somehow seemed foreboding. It disturbed me. I was about to pop back inside when I spied some ripped material at the entranceway. It didn't belong to me. And it didn't belong to Lucas. Then I realized who it belonged to. Dade.

He must have come up while we were sleeping. At least I hope it was while we were sleeping. Uh oh. Well, I'm sure he'll get over it.

" that you?" Lucas mumbled still half asleep.

"Yeah, Babe. It's me."

"Come back to bed."

"I want to go do some training in the basement before anyone else wakes up. I'll have a shower after that and come straight back. You get some sleep."

"Come on, Babe." Lucas said grabbing for me without opening his eyes.

He pulled me down beside him and wrapped me up in his arms placing slow kisses on my lips as his breathing shallowed. He rested our foreheads together, his eyes remaining closed and I almost thought he had fallen back to sleep already.

"Don't go. You can never keep still. Just stay here and be with me. It's too early, even for you."

"I couldn't sleep. I had a bad dream."

"Was it Dade again?" Lucas said opening his eyes this time as he rubbed my back.

"No. It was just...dark. Empty. I was alone. It was a bad dream. A very bad dream."

"I don't like it when you have bad dreams. So stop having them."

"I'll try." I said taking a deep breath.

"Are you ok, Baby? Your heart is beating overtime."

"I'm ok. I want to go and work out. I'll bring you some breakfast when I've finished." I said giving Lucas a quick kiss before I hopped up.

"Ok, Honey." Lucas sighed as he pulled the covers over himself. "I love you."

"I love you too, Babe." I said as I climbed down the tree to the ground below.

I headed into the house and grabbed a drink of water. I walked into the lounge to see Mike and Sarah asleep on a futon on the floor together. Sleeping soundly with their arms around each other. Who am I to ever think that I could be where Mike is right now? Those two belong together. I smiled as I watched them together for a moment. It made me so happy. I noticed another bed made up beside them and figured that it must have been Dade wanting to sleep next to them for some company. Dade's often clingy like that.

It was then that I heard noises coming from downstairs in the gym. Being 4am in the morning, I didn't expect anyone else to be up. Sure most of us are all early birds in the house for work or training but today was Sunday. Who else would be up at this hour?

I moved into the hallway and back towards the stairs down to the basement. Part of me was a little petrified but then the hero in me came out and I knew that if someone was in here to hurt my family, they'd be coming through me first. That seemed to fill all my courage bars up. I grabbed a baseball bat from the hallway closet before I made my way downstairs. The light was on and the door was slightly ajar. I eased it open slowly and stepped through. I didn't have any shoes on so it was easy to be light footed.

As I stepped inside I could see someone sitting on the workout benching holding their leg. I didn't recognize the figure from behind. I stepped up anxiously with a thousand butterflies in my stomach as I raised the bat. I would have actually preferred using my hands but a bat would sure give me a head start.

As I stepped closer, I tilted my head sideways. The hair was shorter. The upper body was bigger but...


"Storm!" Marcel yelled with a start as he jumped up and spun around, almost falling over in the process. "You scared the hell out of me!"

"That makes two of us. What the hell are you doing here?"

"Why don't you put that bat down and I'll tell you."

"Oh." I said realizing I still hadn't lowered the bat. "Sorry about that."

"I got here yesterday. To see Sarah."

"Oh. I bet she was glad." I said still standing staunchly. "What are you doing up?"

"Training." He said still looking at me strangely.


"I guess I'll get out of your way then and leave you to it."

"Sure." I said nodding in agreement.

The tension was so thick between us. Why? Dade, I guess. Marcel broke his heart. You don't do that to my brother. I don't think they should have gotten together in the first place. I stepped aside as Marcel made his way past me. Rather slowly I might add as he was limping. He was wearing shorts and he had a large bandage on his left leg.

"What's wrong with your leg?"

"Nothing." Marcel said hurriedly. "It's just...a little tight. And I hurt it again when you startled me and I jumped up."

He tried to hide the fact that he was limping but the more he tried, the more obvious it was. I watched him for a few moments and I think he knew I was watching. I could tell he was annoyed with himself as he tried walking faster. I knew he was hiding something but right now I wasn't interested in finding out what. I decided to leave it and get to my workout.

That was a decidedly cold reunion. Maybe things would thaw out with time. Who knows? He may go tomorrow and we won't have a chance. I'm not really worried to be honest. We never talk on the phone anymore anyway. He's been gone so long I don't really know him anymore. Funny how time changes things.



* * * * * * *


"Morning, Mom." I said kissing Mom good morning before I sat down on the table beside her.

"Long time no see, Stranger." She said smiling at me. "This household seems to cross paths now and then. We barely have a meal together anymore."

"I guess we need to free our schedules up more. Want me to take you to dinner next Thursday after work?"

"Sure, Sweetheart." Mom smiled. "You coming with me to take your father to the airport?"

"No." I said with a wry smile on my face. "You can take him by yourself."

"Don't get any ideas, Son. Things don't move that fast."

She said that with a smile on her face. Like she only half believed what she'd said. Somehow the idea of our family coming back together had been playing on my mind a lot lately. Mom and Dad seemed to be getting on a lot better. I know they still love each other. It's written all over their faces. It's just a matter of time I'm sure.

"Right, Mom. Anything you say."

"How's your sweetheart?"

"Which one? I have so many." I said pumping my chest out. "Let me check my black book."

"The one you have up in the tree house. Tall. Cute. You might remember him."

"Oh yeah...the hot one. Yeah he's still sleeping. I think I wore him out."

"That is not something I want to hear, Young man. How's everything at school going, Baby?" Mom said smiling at me with that proud Mom look on her face as she brushed my hair back affectionately.

"Pretty good, Mom. Stacey is giving me attitude over being with Lucas but it's nothing I can't handle."

"I am proud of you. That was a very big decision you made. You make me very proud." Mom said hugging me and placing a kiss on my forehead.

"Thanks, Mom. I'm still not sure if I made the right choice but it makes Lucas happy. And if he's happy, I'm happy. I really want things to work between us this time and I really feel like they are working. We've both grown up. Both changed."

"You're right, Son. You have. Are you happy? Does he make you happy?"

"Yes, Mom. He really does."

"Then I hope you two make it work. You deserve some happiness."

"So do you, Mom."

"One step at a time, Son. One step at a time."

"Do you think you could help me finish my calculus assignment? You know I always have a hard time with that."

"Sure, Son."

"You're the best, Mom." I said jumping up and kissing Mom on the forehead. "I don't know what I'd ever do without you."

"Just like I don't know what I'd ever do if anything ever happened to you, Son..."


* * * * * * *


Josh approached Claire from behind and tapped her shoulder before he greeted her with a warm smile. Claire reciprocated the smile and placed a small angel kiss on Josh's lips. Josh blushed a deep red as he nervously took her hand. He was still getting used to them being together but his stomach seemed to leave him any time they were together. She consumed his every thought now. He was falling for her faster than he ever thought possible. He only hoped she felt as strongly as he did.

Josh wore a bucket hat, a pair of Oakley glasses with three quarter pants and sandals. He wasn't wearing a shirt as the purpose of their early morning date was to go kayaking on the lake before an early breakfast.

"You look" Claire grinned as she looked Josh up and down. "Who has been giving you fashion tips?"

"I don't have fashion. I have Dade's do's and don'ts of fashion. He tells me what looks good on me and I listen. You approve?"

"Always. I can't get over how much you've changed. You seem so much more comfortable with yourself these days. It really shows. You look great, Josh."

"Thanks." Josh said blushing again. "What do you want to do first?"

"Kayaking. Then we'll eat."

The two approached the lake edge where their double kayak awaited them. Josh gingerly picked Claire up and threw her into the water and they distracted themselves with several moments of playful wrestling in the water. They were soon geared up in the kayak and paddled away without nary a look behind them. Little did they know being too busy wrapped up in each other, that someone not unfamiliar was indeed watching them from the shoreline.

He watched longingly with a sense of melancholy about him. It was only when he felt the presence of another standing behind him that he pulled himself from his reverie.

"What is it, Dade?"

"They look so happy."

"That's odd. You don't seem very happy for them." Marty Lee said as he put a hand on Dade's shoulder. "May I ask why?"

"No. You may not." Dade said as he hauled the heavy bag of wood blocks over his back and continued running along the beach.

Marty Lee kept a distance behind Dade walking with a steady confidence that exuded from in great abundance. There was something tangible in the way Marty Lee held himself at times. Dade felt it from Storm at times and right now he was feeling it from Marty Lee. He wondered to himself if he ever conveyed the same aura about him. He hoped so.

"That's enough, Dade." Marty Lee said raising his hand for Dade to stop running.

They were now under a large oak tree with a huge branch jutting out from the thick trunk. Dade dropped the bag of wood and took several deep breaths but did not allow his fatigue to show too much. Marty Lee pointed a finger towards the sky and Dade knew what was next.

He jumped up and grabbed the branch which seemed sturdy enough to carry his weight. He proceeded to do chin ups. His feet pressed together, his legs and his back straight and perfectly aligned. He not only had to do chin ups, he had to keep a perfect form for Marty Lee. The muscles in his arms, shoulders and back tensed and strained as he performed the sets.

"I want a hundred." Marty Lee said without batting an eyelid.

Dade did a hundred. And it showed. His arms by the end were tense and stiff. With a simple flick of his finger, Marty Lee signaled the next phase. Dade flipped around so he were hanging upside down from his legs. His hands were behind his head and he began crunching his abs. It was becoming a lot harder to maintain his form in this position and with his fatigue becoming a factor.

"You're an asshole." Dade grimaced as he continued. "You're pushing me too hard, we've been working since before dawn."

"Then quit." Marty Lee said flatly. "You don't have to follow this stupid rule that says I own you for a week. Quit if you want."

"Fuck you." Dade heaved as he continued. "I get a harder workout from Storm. This is pussy shit compared to what he goes through."

"That wasn't the right thing to say." Marty Lee said slamming his foot into Dade's stomach.

He knocked Dade clear off his perch and Dade fell to the ground below with a hard knock. Dade grimaced and held himself as the wind had been knocked out of him. Marty Lee helped Dade to his feet and Dade shoved Marty Lee away angrily.

"Fuck you. You get angry because I tell you that Storm's a thousand times better than you'll ever be? Go to hell." Dade said spitting in Marty Lee's face. "Truth hurts huh? You want to feel like a big man telling me what to do? I can do anything you throw at me. You've been pushing me for two hours and I'm still going."

"Dade, I like you but..." Marty Lee began to say as he slammed the back of his fist against Dade's face so hard he sent him falling backwards. "You're going to have to learn your place real soon or else I'm going to have to hurt you even more than I have today."

"Oh shit." Dade said grimacing as he felt pain in his cheek and still hadn't recovered from the kick he'd received as well. "You mother fucker. You get off on this."

"You're right." Marty Lee said with a sadistic smile. "I do. I love it. And the thing is, you can't do shit to stop me."

"I hope you're not expecting us to be friends after this week. So you'd better make the most of your time telling me what to do."

"Don't compare me to Storm again."

"Why is that such a sore point? Because you're jealous he's better than you or you're angry he doesn't feel the same way you do?"

"I don't know what you mean."

"Yes you do. You are a fag boy. Just like Storm. Just like Lucas. Just like..."


"Not anymore. And I'd never be interested in someone who gets a kick out of hurting people like you. I should have known you could never be trusted." Dade said pulling himself to his feet.

"I liked hitting you. I liked hurting you. It's a drug to me. I get off on it. But you do you. Or you would have fought back. You didn't fight back when even I have to admit that you would be a formidable opponent. believe you deserve this."

"If Storm knew what you were doing to me, he'd kill you. You'll never be able to beat him."

"Is it that I won't be able to beat him?" Marty Lee said as once again his lightening fast actions dealt a straight kick into Dade's chest, knocking him over again. "Or is it that you won't ever be able to beat him?"


As quick as Marty Lee was, he didn't even have time to react before Josh had spun him around and knocked him on his ass with a devastating punch to the head. Marty Lee shook his head to refocus himself as he looked up to see an angry Josh standing over him. Josh helped Dade to his feet and when Marty Lee tried to get up, Josh pressed his foot against Marty Lee's neck.

"Sorry it took me so long to get here, Dade. I was on the water." Josh said breathing heavily, having run all the way up the beach through heavy sand and his anger was still on high. "Don't you ever lay a hand on Dade again. This deal is over. Dade doesn't have to do anything for you anymore."

"Wait a minute, who the fuck are you again?" Dade said snapping angrily at Josh. "Are we friends now all of a sudden? Do I know you? Nice to meet you, Josh. Who are you again?"

"Dade..." Josh said with a confused look on his face.

"I don't need your help and in case you didn't get the message last night. We're not friends anymore. So fuck off and leave me alone. And you." Dade said turning to Marty Lee before he placed a low shattering straight kick to his stomach. "Get some psychiatric help, FREAK!"

And with that, Dade shoved Josh away from him angrily and picked his shirt and bag up off the ground before he stormed off. Josh was about to follow when Marty Lee grabbed a hold of Josh's foot and spun him around so Josh fell face first into the sand.

"You're amusing." Marty Lee said with a smile as he stood up seemingly jovial and happy before he helped Josh to his feet. "But surely you must know that I could hurt you in seconds?"

"I'd like to see you try."

"Josh! Marty Lee!" Claire yelled as she approached them hurriedly. "What the hell is going on here? What are you two doing? Where's Dade?"

"I'm telling Storm what happened here."

"Go ahead. I'll tell him we were training. Which we were. Dade will agree with me."

"No he won't." Josh said showing anger that was rare in him. "He doesn't bow to peer pressure, even from you."

"Relax, Josh. Just forget about it. It's all under control. I'm just making Dade stronger so he can be a champion one day, just like his brother. Perhaps...even better."

"You have a sick way of showing it. I know you weren't training when you hit him more than once. I'll tell everyone I need to about what you did here today. I'll make sure Dade doesn't have to do anything else for you this week."

"Last I knew, don't have the stroke to relieve Dade of his obligations to me. You're not exactly VC now are you?"

"It's a stupid tradition. No one will listen to it from now on. I'll see it end."

"Why don't you and your little girlfriend run off and play in the water and leave my business to me."

"Dade is my business."

"I'm pretty sure I just heard him say otherwise." Marty Lee said with a cocky smile. "That means you're not VC and you're also not friends with Dade. I guess you'll just have to mind your own business. Now run along before I change my mind and decide to hurt you."

"Fine." Josh said indignantly. "But this is far from over. I'll be watching you. Stay away from Dade. Or else..."


* * * * * * *


June stood at the airport waiting for Daniel to confirm his travel arrangements. For the first time in years she felt herself genuinely wishing that Daniel would not go. That he would stay. For the first time in years she felt as if she were part of a team again instead of a one woman army in charge of a household. Now she had to readjust herself to being the alpha female with no alpha male again. Daniel was leaving her once again.

"Oh well, here we go parting ways." June said with a smile. "Again."

"June..." Daniel Sr. said taking June's hand. "These have been some of the best days of my life lately. Being with you. Thank you."

June didn't say anything, she just smiled back at him as the butterflies began fluttering around in her stomach. She hadn't felt like this since she was a teenager. She realized the way Daniel was looking at her as he held her hand. He'd looked at her this way many times but this was the first time the feeling was reciprocated by her in years. She let the motion behind the look continue. He stepped forward and put his free hand on her waist as their lips met in the first real kiss shared in years. June felt as though she were literally floating.

Daniel held her gingerly in his arms as they kissed. Both feeling the exhilaration of long dormant feelings being released once again. June let herself go in the moment. The briefest of moments before both pulled away from each other but Daniel kept his hand firmly in June's.

"It's been a long time since you let me kiss you like that."

"So...are you coming back?" June asked somewhat nervously.

"If you'll let me." Daniel said smiling the proudest smile.

"I'd like that."

"So would I." Daniel said clasping June's hand tighter. "I'll never rush you, June. But more than anything I want our family back together."

"So do I." June said nodding her head in agreement as her eyes had watered up. "I want you to come home."

"When I come back. I'm coming back for good."

"Good." June said overcome with tears now. "Now get going. The sooner you get out of here, the sooner you can come back."

"I can't wait. Thank you so much, June." Daniel said picking June up off the ground and spinning her around. "You've made me so happy. Thank you."

He let her down again and the two once again shared a brief kiss that Daniel raised in intensity as he held June's face. He leaned his forehead against June's in a manner not unlike his eldest son.

"I love you, June Marcus." He said with a proud smile as he headed to the check in terminal.

"I love you too, Daniel Marcus. I'll be waiting for you."


* * * * * * *


I stepped out of the shower with a knot in my stomach. I had an uneasy feeling today. I didn't realize I had so much resentment towards Marcel. I blamed him for Dade being on that bridge. I don't know if it was just Marcel or something else. Dade told me he was just fooling around up there but the more that time goes by the more I think there's something else to it. Dade's become darker lately. Morose. Something's not right. At the very least I know Marcel hurt my brother. They should never have been involved in the first place. It was wrong of Marcel. He should have known better. And I resent him for it. That's the sad truth.

I was too busy having these thoughts running through my mind that I didn't even notice Lucas approach me from behind. His lips were on my neck and his fingers played gently on my stomach, causing me to shiver. I moaned at first when his hands wandered downwards but then I came to my senses.

"Mate, what are you doing?" I asked short of breath as I tried to block the pleasure his hands were giving me from my mind. "You can't still be horny."

"You're kidding, right?" Lucas laughed as he continued kissing my neck. "I'm a virile young man. The energizer bunny is my second cousin."

"I could have sworn I was the energizer bunny last night."

"Everyone is downstairs talking. Mike and Sarah are getting ready to take Marcel home to get some of his gear and kill some time."

"Why don't you go with them?"

"Because it's more fun here with you." Lucas said still trying his best to get me in the mood by nibbling on my ear. "We have lots of time to make up for. Besides, you looked so damn good in that shower. I've gotta have some."

"You're insatiable."

"How do you spell that?" Lucas laughed. "H-o-r-n-y?"

"Something like that." I said turning around to face him as he pushed me gently up against the wall and wasting no time in pressing his lips to mine.

I let him suck eagerly on my bottom lip before we both parted with heavy breaths. I put my arms around his neck and teased him for a few moments by letting our lips almost touch but not quite letting them meet. I could tell he was getting frustrated but hey, I'm a tease.

"We should really try to control ourselves."

"Think of it this way, Dude. We'll be rabbits for two months and then we'll turn into an old married couple who only have sex every other month. We may as well make the most of this time."

"Oh come on, Lucas. Do you really think it's going to be that way?" I asked with a wicked grin and a Dade eyebrow.

"Nah." Lucas said grinning sheepishly at me. "We've been around each other for how long now and I think I'm hot for you even more than when we first met. It's even worse for me now than when we first got together. Back then I used to fear being with you in case you didn't like it. Now I just want to pull you into any corner we can get into. I think it's because you tease me so much and play hard to get."

"Maybe." I said smiling as I stole a lingering kiss from him and pulled abruptly away. "But you like it that way."

"Not today I don't!" Lucas moaned as I wrapped a towel around my waist and left him standing alone in the bathroom.

I closed the door behind me as I heard the shower turn on so Lucas could have his turn in there. I could just imagine the annoyed look on his face right now knowing that he wasn't going to get any. It's not that I don't like sex, I guess I do like playing hard to get. I want to keep Lucas' interest up as long as I can and I don't think I'll be able to do that by giving him all the cookies at once.

I quickly looked for something nice to wear, fussing pedantically over everything as if I were going to our school ball. Something that isn't too far in the future from now either.

I soon found an outfit that I knew Lucas liked on me and quickly dressed. It wasn't long before I heard the shower stop and Lucas entered the room with his towel wrapped around his waist. I tried not to go bog eyed as he stood there with rivulets of water all over his body. He still did it to me. From his pretty face right down to his sexy feet.

"Two can play that game." Lucas said winking at me with a grin.

"Aren't you going to Marcel's?" I asked with heavy breaths as Lucas stepped up to me.

"Sure I am. Just as soon as you give me what I want."

I looked him up and down as his wet fingers began playing with my earlobe. He just smiled at me as I stood there helpless. I never used to be this weak.

"Ok, you win." I said shoving Lucas back forcefully onto my bed. "Twenty minutes. Do your worst."

"Ahh Dude, you sure know how to make a guy happy." Lucas grinned as he pressed his lips against mine. "But only twenty minutes?"


* * * * * * *


"I hope those two get here soon. I'm starved." Mike said as he fired up the barbeque. "Where's Marcel?"

"He's packing some clothes to take back to your house."

"Well I wish Storm and Lucas would hurry up."

"They sure seem to be getting along a lot better these days." Sarah said as she helped Mike prepare some of the food to be cooked.

A silence passed between the two with Sarah seemingly lost in thought and Mike somewhat bewildered. He stared at her intently but she seemed oblivious to his inquisitive gaze.

"Does that bother you?" Mike asked curiously, pausing to see Sarah's reaction.

"I guess it does a little bit."

"I know you're going through a hard time, Babe. But you will tell me if your feelings for Storm change, won't you?"

"Of course I will. I'm sorry, Honey. I don't mean to make you feel bad."

"We haven't been back together long, Sarah. If you want to change your mind about us, now's the time."

"No, no. I swear. You don't have to worry about Storm. I promise. I love you but I don't just love you, I want to marry you. Mike..." Sarah said casting her eyes away from him.

"Yeah, Babe?" Mike asked concerned as he wrapped his arms around Sarah from behind.

"If things...don't look good for me. Would you still marry me? Sooner?"

"I'd give you anything you want, Sarah. You know how I feel about this. But don't go thinking all negative on me. You'll be fine."

"That's what we said a year ago."

"There isn't anything you're not telling me, is there?"

"I'll see June again tomorrow. But...I may have stage two tumors going into stage three in the cervix."

"Has the grading changed? Why didn't you tell me!?"

"It could be grade 3. I'm sorry I didn't say anything. I found out when we weren't together. I was going to tell you as soon as I saw June again so she could tell me what I was looking at."

"Oh for fucks sake." Mike said angrily as he kicked the wall. "This isn't fair!"

"It's ok. It's ok." Sarah said grabbing Mike in her arms. "Calm down. It'll be ok."

"We should never have broken up. I should have been there for you the whole time."

"Lucas was there for me. He did a good job. Don't you dare go feeling bad. None of this is your fault." Sarah said resting her head against Mike's shoulder.

For a moment Mike paused. His face losing all previous thoughts of anguish and torment and seemingly pacifying to a blank stare. A blank stare of intent focus as if all doubts were suddenly being erased from his mind.

"Sarah, I don't want to wait. Marry me now. Mom will give us permission. We don't have to wait anymore. Please, Sarah." Mike said falling to one knee. "Marry me?"


* * * * * * *


"Dade." Josh said as he approached Dade from below.

Dade sat at the entry of the tree house that he had so obviously outgrown. He rested his chin on his knees, oblivious to Josh's approach. He climbed part way up nimbly and then waited there for some kind of acknowledgment. Josh looked up at Dade and used a fallen branch to prod the soles of Dade's feet.

"What do you want?" Dade said finally.

"I wanted to talk."

"Save your breath. There's nothing to talk about."

"Dade, I know I haven't been a good friend lately. I am so sorry. You did so much for me. You took me in when no one else wanted me. You made me what I am. You are the best friend anyone could ask for. And I dropped you just like that as soon as Claire came along. I've been so selfish lately and I haven't been there for you when you needed me. I know I've hurt you, Dade. All I can do is plead ignorance and stupidity. I'm new at all of this. I'm really sorry."

"So am I." Dade sighed.

"Can I come up?"

"Not right now, Josh. I just want to be alone."

"Don't shut me out, Dade. Please give me another chance. I'm still your best friend, aren't I?"

"'re not. Just leave me alone please."

"Ok, Dade." Josh said climbing up just far enough so his head was level with Dade's feet. He rubbed Dade's left foot warmly as he did something totally unexpected and placed a gentle kiss on Dade's right foot. "Just remember, I..."

Josh's eyes began to mist up as he semi frowned and looked up at Dade who looked down at him with surprise. Josh gulped and averted his eyes for a moment before he returned them to Dade who was now doing his trademark eyebrow. Josh had never really been so...openly affectionate with him before in such a personal manner. Josh usually had his own ways of conveying his feelings but today he was doing it the open way.

"Just remember, you're my best friend. I hurt you and I'm sorry. I still owe you for helping me so much. I...I love you, Dade. Oh man...I've never said that to anyone before."

"You know it's really nice you're straight and all but I think I like the shy, confused Josh a lot better. He seemed a bit more sensitive. The new confident all American Josh seems to have lost all of that. But it's too late, Josh. I'd like it if you just left me alone please."

"You would?"


Josh hesitated for a moment before he stepped back down to the ground still looking up at Dade with an almost pleading look in his eyes. He gave Dade a puppy dog look and frowned before he nodded at Dade and resentfully turned and walked away.

Dade watched him leave with a deep sigh. He didn't even flinch when he felt someone move behind him. Soon a chin was rested on his shoulder that belonged to none other than Marty Lee Miller. He flashed a cocky smile to himself before he turned his eyes toward Dade and ruffled Dade's hair with his hand.

"I thought he'd never leave." Marty Lee said as he revealed his presence.

"Shut up." Dade said angrily. "You should leave too. I don't want to be near you."

"I own you for a week, Dade. You know that. You're going to do whatever the hell I tell you to and you're going to like it."

"Or what?"

"Or I'll hurt you again. And you don't want that." Marty Lee said with a snicker. "Or do you?"

"What do you want from me?"

"You know what I want." Marty Lee said brushing his fingers against the small of Dade's back. "You're beautiful."

"Take your fucking hands off me!" Dade said shoving Marty Lee away forcefully.

Marty Lee grabbed Dade's wrist and yanked him inside the treehouse roughly. He quickly pulled Dade into a chokehold and forced Dade to gasp for breath. Dade's arms were pinned awkwardly behind his back by Marty Lee's left arm and Marty Lee's legs had Dade's lower torso securely wrapped.

"I can't breathe." Dade gasped.

"Don't fuck with me, Dade. I have plans for you. Don't fight me and I won't hurt you. I'm here to help you. I'm going to make you stronger."

"Please let me go." Dade said gagging for air as his face turned red. "You're hurting me."

"Don't fight me, Dade. I don't want to hurt you but you are going to be mine for a week. You can either like it or you can hate it. But either way, you'd better deal with it or I will hurt you."

"Ok, ok. Please. Let me go."

Marty Lee let Dade go and Dade gasped for air as he rolled over onto his stomach. He breathed heavily as he struggled to compose himself. He tried not to cry but he felt so humiliated and things seemed to only be going from bad to worse lately. Soon Dade couldn't compose himself any longer. He buried his face in his knees and began sobbing softly to himself as tears fell freely from his eyes.

Dade shoved back angrily as he felt arms wrap around his shoulders and midsection from behind. Once again he found himself being enveloped by Marty Lee's embrace. Except this time there seemed to be a genuine softness in it rather than the previous intent to hurt. Marty Lee placed a tiny kiss on the nape of Dade's neck and held him tightly as Dade continued to cry. Soon Dade stopped fighting Marty Lee off and instead seemed to fall more into his arms and wrap them around himself tighter. Marty Lee smiled wryly to himself as he realized he had almost broken Dade down enough for him to be able to save.

"I know what it's like to feel pain, Dade. I'm not like any of the others. I won't let you down and I won't leave you or forget about you or neglect you. I'm not here to hurt you. I'm here to help you. One way or another. Make this easy on both of us."

"Why?" Dade cried as his head now rested on Marty Lee's forearm. "Why are you doing this to me?"

"Because no one else will. If I need to break you to make you, I will. But I think you've been broken enough by the people you love already, don't you? Storm, he doesn't care about you anymore. He's too busy fucking Lucas."

"I know. I came up here last night while they were doing it."

"You need him and he's not there for you. Yet you were always there for him when he needed you. Josh needs you and you're there for him but now you need him and where is he? He had too little too late. None of them understand your pain. None of them know you're hurting. They don't care."

"And you do?" Dade snapped harshly. "Do you choke everyone you care about?"

"I do what I have to when I have to. No compromises. If you make me hurt you, I'll hurt you. But that's not what I want. I know just the way to help you feel better."


"We're going to my place."


* * * * * * *

To be continued...

Coming Soon - SF29: The Darkest Night
Part II of the Crossroads series

This is the first part of the three part Crossroad series.  The reason for it being called the Crossroads series as well as The Darkest Day for the title should be obvious and if not now then by the end of the next or final concluding chapter.

Frosty the Snowman has come to visit Marcel and Storm.  Is Storm just being an asshole or does he have valid reason to harbor some form of resentment towards Marcel?  Marcel sure didn't come back to Merlow the way he left.  There's something a little less innocent or jovial about him.  He has a darker tone to him.

June and Daniel on the other hand seemed to have lightened up somewhat.  As have Lucas and Storm.  They're still on the up and up.  Mike and Sarah have definitely reached a crossroads.   Some would disagree with their decision but after what they've been through together, you can somewhat understand their motivations and support them.

Josh has finally gotten some comeuppance for his shitty attitude lately.  Dade on the other hand is coming under a very bad influence in the form of the apparently unstable Marty Lee.  And then we still have that eerie prophecy that will come to pass in the second part to this chapter.   One will fall.  I hope you enjoyed this chapter, I'd love to see more posts on the new SN Board.

Stay Tuned for SF29: The Darkest Night and send me a note to let me know what you thought of Chapter 28: The Darkest Day
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