By SF Writer
Copyright 1998 - 2004, All rights reserved.

SF30: The Rise of Angels
Season 4
Crossroads: Part III/III

* * * * * * *


When we are born, we are devoid of identity. We are an object of flesh and bone. Our first claim to identity is our name. Our names tell a story. My name is Daniel Marcus. That was the name I was born with. Daniel the name shared by my father and given to me by my father. Marcus the name of my father's family and the last name of my married parents. Both those names mean that I am the second in line. That name came with expectations. Expectations from my father to carry on his role in the family. To be responsible. To take charge in his stead. To carry on the line. The name and expectations carry a lot of a weight. Since the day he left us I have carried that weight on my shoulders. Inadvertently becoming the man of the house. Nothing in my life though could have prepared me for the weight of responsibility I felt today. For today I must say goodbye to the strongest support structure I have ever had in my life. My mother.

June Marcus.

I try to temper the shock of her death with the fact that right now Sarah is fighting for her life. I almost wish this moment would last forever. Waiting to see how Sarah has fared in her sudden downturn. Although I suspect it is not as sudden as we would have believed. And that Sarah has been battling and perhaps even expecting this for a great length of time already. We all stand together right now. The `Pack'. United in our fear and for some of us already, our grief. As the seconds tick by like hours, I look at each of us and somehow find strength. Strength in our union and common affection. Our history. Our camaraderie. No matter what has happened in the past, these people are all my family.

Mike, who I have known for all of my life. I have not appreciated him lately as much as I should have. He has always been there for me. No matter what he had to deal with in his own life. His mother's death, his abusive father. Or even all of his personal successes. He has always stood by me. As I watch him now, his heart hanging by a thread as he waits with ceaseless abate and anxiety, I can't help but feel grateful for his presence in my life.

Sarah, who I have also known for as long as I can remember. I know she is in there fighting for her life right now but for some reason, I have hope. Or even a comfort that everything will be fine. She and I have shared a strange history. For a long time I just took for granted that her and I would be together forever. Well as forever as young love would think forever is. Now I know though that the best thing to ever happen to her is Mike. I feel as though somehow Mom is still watching out for her. That somehow, just as she did while she was alive, she's looking after Sarah.

Then there's Marcel. My blondie. Eternally loyal to me, I haven't always given him the same respect. He's changed. He's too serious for the Marcel I know. There's something less innocent about him now. Like someone's taken away his smile. I don't know what changed, but I know it didn't happen while he was here in Merlow. I can still remember that chubby ten year old in the playground. Seems like only yesterday. Never would have expected him to turn into the stud he is today. Cocky and upbeat. That was Marcel. Key word being `was'. Yet another person I have to rebuild bridges with but yet here he is, just proving the character he is. I know he is going to do as much as he can to help over the next few days.

Lucas has been around long enough now to be one of us twice over. One day he just walked into my life and turned it upside down. Or I should say he hopped onto the bus, asked to sit down next to me and we're still riding that bus. That's where it all started. We've had our highs and lows but he is so giving, supportive and affectionate that I still sometimes can't believe he's mine. I don't know what I did to deserve the way he smiles at me but I'll never complain. Here's to us, Babe.

Finally there's Dade. Sure he's my brother and he's been around forever but he's always been the outsider of our little pack. On the fringe wanting to be noticed. I know there's a lot of conflict inside him. I don't know exactly what the cause is but I do sense that some of it has to do with me. He's a made man in our pack but he still feels like he's just Storm's little brother. Resentment. That's always been an issue. Lately though, there seems to be a little more to it. He thinks I don't notice but I know there's something going on with him that he's not telling me. And I haven't exactly pressed the issue of finding out. Too busy feeling sorry for myself. I love him though more than he knows. He is my little brother but he's also one of the coolest guys, best friends and greatest allies that I have. I don't know how he's going to take Mom's death when I tell him but I hope it doesn't make the gap between us even wider. I need to work on that before he and I end up on different sides of the fence.

And that's our pack. Always has been and I hope always will be. Somehow I know no matter how things change, we'll always come together when it matters. I seem to find the strength I need now just looking at all of us. And as inappropriate as it may seem, I manage a smile. Through all the chaos and pack nerves on edge, I approach Mike and place my hand on his shoulder. He seems to look at me strangely as if he's surprised by my sudden calm. I give him a small smile and hope it holds as I speak.

"She's going to be ok. Trust me."

"How do you know?" He asks with some annoyance, probably believing I have no sense of gravity on the situation.

On the contrary, he has no idea exactly what the gravity is right now. But unfortunately for him, he will soon.

"She's got an angel watching over her." I say through watery eyes. "The best angel."


* * * * * *


I was right. Sarah was fine. Say what you will but it was all Mom. No one can tell me otherwise. Unfortunately for me, the gravity of Mom's death is starting to weigh down. I still have yet to tell Mike and Dade what's happened. Not to mention Abby or Dad. I don't know why I feel that this is all on me to take care of. Perhaps because I am the oldest son and the oldest member of what's left of our household now. Mike is in with Sarah's parents now getting the rundown on her condition. She has a rough road ahead of her and isn't out of the woods yet but I know all of us will stand behind her two hundred percent.

Lucas and Marcel are both talking intently. Giving me the space I never asked them for, but they know I want. I think now that they know Sarah is out of immediate danger, their attention has turned to what they're going to do to help over the next few days. They're both just awesome.

Josh and Claire just turned up and are with Dade right now. I still haven't had a chance to speak to him. I've been dreading speaking to him actually. I have to though because I know he's wondering why Mom isn't here since she's Sarah's doctor. Or she was. I just don't know how to say what I need to.

I walk anxiously up to the three who are focused on Sarah right now. Standing there not saying anything, I manage a smile for them. I motion for Dade to join and he does so with a certain amount of unease. I think he senses that something is still wrong. I put my arm around his shoulders and usher us to a corner of the waiting room. I can see Lucas and Marcel watching and dreading what's about to happen for Dade's sake.

"Storm? What's wrong? Is it Sarah?" He asks with intent concern.

"No, Dade." I say shaking my head, having to take a breath to fight the sudden upswell in emotion. "I'm sorry, Dade. It's Mom."

"What?" He asked sharply with shock. "What about her? Where is she?"

"There was an accident. On her way to the hospital."

"Where is she, Storm?" He asked again with urgency and anger. "Where is she!?"

"She's gone, Dade. She died at the scene. She's dead." I said somberly.

"No." He said angrily. "You're lying!"

I just shook my head slowly at him. I waited for him to respond. His bright eyes filling with angry tears. Disbelief, anger and grief all washing over him at once. I didn't know what I could do to make him feel any better right now. I just stood there waiting for it to hit him so that I could pick him up when it did.

"No. I don't believe you." He said shaking his head before he backed off slowly. "I don't believe you."

He ran straight out of the waiting room, distressed and angry. I wanted to go after him but I don't think I'm the one he needs right now. That says a lot about our relationship I suppose. I look at Marcel and he knows immediately what I'm asking of him. He moves quickly out of the waiting room after Dade and I'm left standing there trying to figure out what I have to do next. I'm waiting for Dade to crash down to the reality of the situation and maybe then I can get through to him. If he even lets me. A gut feeling in my stomach though fears Mom's death isn't going to bring us closer together. If anything I fear it will make him resent me even more.

"Storm? Babe, is there anything I can do for you right now?" Lucas asks softly as he approaches me.

"No, Babe." I respond automatically without thinking. "Well I tell a lie. I actually wish you could hold me right now. But it's not time for me to break yet. When Mom's buried, then I can break. But until then, there's a lot to take care of."

"Babe, no one expects you to carry this by yourself."

"Yes they do. But I'm not going to do it by myself. You're all going to help me whether I ask you to or not. And I'm going to need you to."

"Good. At least you're not going into your shell like you used to."

"No. I have to grow up. Be a man. Sounds cliché. I need you to keep me steady over the next few days, Honey. Eww that sounded so gay. Honey." I said surprising myself with a laugh.

"There's that smile I love so much." Lucas said putting his hand around mine. "I'll be here. You know that."

Funny how even at this time, I'm still conscious about the whole public displays of affection thing. But it gets easier. I return the gesture by placing a small kiss on his lips and smiling back at him.

"Storm. Is everything ok? What's wrong with Dade?" Claire asked as her and Josh approached.

"I just told him our Mom died. I don't think he's taking it well."

Well there's an understatement. Way to be blunt and direct, Storm. Josh didn't even respond, he shot out the door before Claire could even muster a response. I think she had the same idea in her head but just not as quickly as Josh did. It was getting easier to say. Mom's dead. But the more easier it was to say, the more disconnected I became from the statement. Pushing it away and making it separate from anything I was feeling. Like it wasn't real. I was getting sick of saying it to be honest. Having to break news that you know is going to affect the other person. It's draining. But then when I realize that I'll only say it once in my life, I mean I won't lose another Mom. The gravity of it starts hitting all over again. And that's draining too.

Before Claire could say anything, Mike came in and yelled out for me to go with him. I left Lucas with Claire and followed quickly behind him. Mike filled me in on her situation. The doctors had managed to stop the rupturing she'd suffered but things were going to get worse before they got better. She'd have to start on chemo almost immediately. Right now she was resting but Mike still had an urgent look on his face as we stood outside Sarah's room.

"She was asking for Mom. She should have been here by now."

Here we go again. Time to roll, Storm. Keep it under control.

"She's not coming, Mike. She's not coming ever again." I said hoping he'd get the idea so I wouldn't have to spell it out.

"Storm..." He said as he looked at me in numb disbelief. "You can't mean..."

"I'm sorry, Bro. I wanted to wait until Sarah was out of the woods to tell you. She was in an accident on her way to the hospital. She's dead."

"Not again..." Mike droned off. "I..."

But words failed him and he almost fell down as he tried to sit. I grabbed him and pulled him into my arms. I held him as tightly as I could. She was his Mom too. I knew this would hit him harder than some of the others. He almost wailed as I held him. I never let go. I just held him and tried to reassure him as much as I could. He is as much my brother as my friend. More so. He'd lost his birth mother and all he'd known since then was Mom. We were the closest thing to a real family he'd ever had. Soon it just ended up that we were his family.

He shivered and sobbed as I held him. I wish I could have done this for Dade but...that's an issue for another time. Right now Mike's grieving. And as I held him and felt his hurting, it made mine start to surface too. I wish I could just turn it off. Just for a few days. Please just for a few days more. Don't let me break yet. Not yet...


* * * * * *


"Dade!" Marcel yelled as he rushed after Dade.

They were outside the hospital grounds now and Dade was running faster than Marcel had expected. The night seemed darker than usual. Eerie. The rain had only just stopped but the air was cold and bitter. Marcel ran after Dade as if his life depended on it. Even with his leg injury, Dade was no match for Marcel. They were just approaching Reese Bridge when Marcel had just about caught up to Dade.

"Dade! Wait!"

"Fuck off! Leave me alone!" Dade screamed.

"No!" Marcel yelled angrily as he grabbed Dade angrily by the shirt and held him against the railings. "And just where the hell do you think you're going? HUH!?"

"To finish what I started. If I had of before, she'd still be here..." Dade cried as he looked over the bridge. "It's all my fault she's dead. I killed her."

"You know that's not true, Dade."

"You don't know. You weren't here. You left, remember? You don't know anything."

"I know more than you think. I know you were going to jump that night. And I know it wasn't because of me."

"What?" Dade asked in surprise. " know?"

"Yes. And I don't think any different about you. She didn't tell you because she didn't want to hurt you. This wasn't her fault remember. You can't blame her for what happened."

"I don't blame her." Dade said weeping. "I blame myself. I'm part of her hurt. I was born out of her suffering. How am I supposed to deal with that? All this time I've been holding onto it. Blaming Storm. Blaming Dad. Even blaming Mom. I finally confronted her about it tonight...just before she left to come here. And look...don't tell me it was just an accident. I broke her. I hurt her. I made her lose control. I killed her. And all she ever did was love me."

"You're right about one thing. She did love you. And right now that's about all that's going to get you through the next few days whether you blame yourself or not. Just don't forget, you're not the only one who's hurting. I know underneath it all you still blame Storm. I don't know why but I know you do. But you have to just deal with that, Dade. He's going to try and make sure your Mom gets the funeral she deserves and that everything is taken care of. That includes you, the house, Abby. Who's going to take care of him? Now is not the time for you to be pulling any stupid stunts, Dade. Now's the time to show what you're made of. Show some form. No matter what you think, you were her son. Make her proud."

And with that, Marcel felt a pang in his leg and knew he'd done himself no favors by chasing after Dade. He put his hand on Dade's shoulder and squeezed reassuringly. Then he turned and started limping away. He felt Dade's hand on his own shoulder slowly turning him around so they were facing each other again.

"I needed that. But more than that...especially now...I need..."

Dade's eyes showed the immense amount of hurt he felt right now, but more than that they were still tinged with something else. Longing. And his eyes were searching. Searching for something else as they probed Marcel. Marcel stared back unflinchingly at Dade, determined and steadfast. Just as he always is.

Dade's eyes finally found what they were looking for. Hope.


* * * * * *


"Josh?" Claire asked as he returned dejectedly to the waiting room. "How was he?"

"Marcel's taking care of him. I think he'll be ok."

"Are you ok, Sweetheart?"

Josh sat down next to her and put his arm around her. He stared up at the ceiling and took a deep breath. Then he turned and kissed Claire on the cheek. She appreciated the gesture but didn't feel it was entirely genuine and more to keep her happy than anything else.

"I want to help." He said finally.

"I do too. This is too much to take in one day. Thank goodness at least that Sarah's ok but I feel so bad for Storm and Dade. Mike and Marcel too. They all loved June."

"Dade was there for me when I needed someone. He changed my life to be honest. I wouldn't be with you if it weren't for him." Josh sighed as he stared down at the cold sterile floor. "I never returned what he gave me. I feel like I let him down. Right now I don't like the way I feel. Not a bit."

Claire wanted to say something but held her tongue, figuring now is not the time. She wanted to tell him that she noticed how quickly he seemed to run after Dade. Not that she begrudged him that. He had been feeling very guilty lately about Dade. She just hoped that that was it. She didn't want to come all this way just to have him realize he'd made a mistake. So she held her tongue, not wanting to force an issue she hoped wasn't there to begin with.

"Hey." Lucas said managing a smile as he approached the two. "Thanks for coming. I'm sure Sarah will appreciate it."

"Is Storm going to be ok?" Claire asked with heartfelt concern, the only type she ever had in her.

"I don't know. I really don't know. I just have to do what I can and pick up the pieces if he breaks. Storm's never easy to read. I don't know how he's going to react when it all sinks in. I still can't believe it."

"Where is he now?"

"He had to go and identify her body. Mike went with him. He's taking the news pretty hard as well. I don't know what's going to happen now with Storm and Dade." Lucas sighed, his voice heavy with worry and fear of what may happen now. "There's so much to think about. He's trying to distract himself by taking care of June's affairs and making sure she has the funeral she deserves. I get the feeling that this isn't going to hit him until she's buried."

"Are you going to be ok?"

"I'll be ok. I'm just worried about my mate. This is the worst day in his life, I'm sure. I have no idea what he's going through. Or Dade. Their lives are going to be turned upside down by this. I'm just still completely in shock about the whole thing. June was such..." Lucas paused as his eyes began watering up again but he managed to keep himself in control "She was such a great person. She was the world to them. She didn't deserve to go out like this. She hadn't even hit forty yet."

"Man..." Josh said as he shook his head in disbelief. "I don't know what to say. This is terrible. I hope Dade's ok."

Lucas stood staring blankly at the wall. His arms crossed and his mind lost in thought of what the future might hold and how his mate would cope in the coming days. Josh and Claire sat next to each other but not really with each other as each had their own thoughts consuming them. All three were silent for a while, just absorbing the events of the day. Still in disbelief and wondering what they could do to make things easier for the people they cared about.

"Listen, you guys should head home. It's late and I don't think there's anything else you can do here but thank you for coming. I know Storm appreciates your support and I'm sure Sarah does too." Lucas said genuinely.

"I love the way you guys do that. Your little pack of friends. You all come together when you really need each other. And right now you're the ambassador." Claire smiled. "I really admire the way you're there for Storm. He's a lucky guy. Maybe we should take his advice and head home, Josh."

"Listen, Lucas. If there's anything we can do to help, we'd like to." Josh said as he stood up and extended his hand to Lucas.

Lucas knew Josh had a thing about shaking hands. It was just the type of person Josh was. He wanted you to know you could trust him. That a handshake was like an unspoken promise. Something not many people today believed in anymore. He shook Josh's hand and the two nodded at each in respect. They had a checkered history but Lucas respected Josh.

"Bye, Lucas." Claire said as she hugged Lucas. "Give my love to Storm."

"And Dade." Josh added.

"I will."

Lucas watched as the two left. He was happy they'd ended up together though for some reason he always thought Josh might have had a go with Dade. He could still remember long ago when Josh would talk to him about his conflicted feelings. Unsure of whether he liked girls or guys. He seemed happy with Claire but Lucas still was surprised Josh hadn't even tested the waters. Still, the heart leads where it leads and it must have lead to Claire.

"Nice couple." Lucas smiled. "I hope it works for them."


* * * * * *


Something I didn't expect to be so difficult. Coming home. The house felt different now. It suddenly seemed restrictive. Smaller. I didn't want to be here anymore. The house just seemed to have Mom's touches everywhere. I started noticing how she'd organized everything. How she'd have touched some things. Whether it be the way the dishes were stacked up or how her favorite CD was put neatly at the top of the rack. I couldn't get away from it. I tried to take comfort from these little things but it was really just depressing. I pushed all of these kinds of thoughts aside though with the notion that there was a lot of a business to take care of.

I would keep myself busy by taking care of all the affairs that would need taking care of. Bills would have to be paid. I would have to close all of Mom's various accounts. I'd contacted Abby and Dad. Needless to say both were completely shattered. I know Dad was hoping for a reconciliation and I think he would have gotten it but he won't now. Both will be in Merlow by morning.

The funeral was the most pressing issue right now. I made a list of all of our extended family, which wasn't much since both Mom's parents were dead too. And a list of all her friends. Tomorrow I'd contact all of them. I'd already called a funeral director to take care of everything. Marcel was helping to organize in that area. Lucas and Mira were going to get the house ready to receive guests and prepare the wake. The funeral would take place at the edge of Lake Herren. Mom would at least have a great view. Mike was going to help where he could but I told him to take care of Sarah first. He was going to break the news to her in the morning. I haven't seen Dade yet since the hospital and I don't really want to. I don't know what it is but there's just space between us now for some reason. I don't think it was me either. I feel as though he's the one who's pushed me away.

There was nothing more left for me to do tonight except sleep. I told Lucas I would be alright on my own and asked him to just let me have tonight to myself. He really didn't want to. He protested as much as he could but I told him I just needed to be alone. I think he understood. Mike's staying at the hospital but he insists on checking on me every other hour. Marcel's still at the hospital

I'd been sitting here on my bed ever since I got home. I wasn't hungry and I didn't feel like walking around the house and being reminded of Mom. So I just sat here, staring out the window.

Suitably the weather wasn't all that great tonight. Earlier on in the evening it had been really stormy with some fog that had attributed to Mom's accident. Right now though the rain was strangely comforting. It fell steadily, soothing my nerves and calming my thoughts. I felt as though Mom were with me right now trying to help me through this.

My reverie was abruptly interrupted by soft knocking at the front door. I almost didn't even notice it. No doubt it was someone who had just heard the news and just had to come around and offer their condolences. Like I needed that. I hopped up and headed downstairs. The house was still completely dark as I didn't bother turning on the lights when I got back. I didn't bother now either.

I opened the door to see Dade standing there. He was soaking wet but didn't seem concerned about it. I wasn't either to be honest. I was more concerned about the way he was standing there. We didn't say anything to each other. Our eyes probing one another's. I stepped to the side for him to come in but he didn't. He just looked at me, waiting for me to say something I suppose. I could tell he'd been crying and probably walking the streets thinking about what had happened.

"Are you ok?" I asked finally.

"No." He said flatly as he shook his head.

"Neither am I."

We stood there again for a while. I don't know what it was but something had changed between Dade and I. You could feel it somehow. I used to feel like I had to protect him because he was my little brother but lately I'd grown less interested. Dade started pushing me away a while ago, resenting me and we've come to blows over it. At first I fought it because he's my little brother but lately I've just been tired. I still sense it's there for him. I feel like he hates me sometimes and I have no idea why. He never says anything but he walks around with this dark cloud over his head and I don't know how to fix it. Heaven knows I've tried.

"Get some sleep." I said as I stepped forward and kissed his forehead. "I'll see you in the morning."

I turned and headed toward the stairs. I didn't know what Dade wanted from me but I didn't feel like I could give him what he wanted anymore. He was waiting for me to say the right thing. To be the big brother. I've been that so many times and he's kicked me in the gut almost every time. We used to be close. I used to depend on him and trust him. It's sad to say that I do neither of those things anymore. I'm just too tired tonight.


"Yes, Dade?" I said pausing but not turning back.

"I loved her too."

"I know you did. I know." I said with a sigh.

"I love you too."

I turned back this time to face him, his eyes staring right at me. I smiled back at him and nodded as if to say I felt the same way. There was still some tension there. But this was a start. I didn't really feel like opening up to Dade right now as I still felt as though behind my back he'd still hate me or resent me.

"Night, Dade."

" Night, Storm."


* * * * * *


"Hey, Babe." Mike said as Sarah woke from her slumber.

She groaned slightly and asked for water but apart from that, seemed ok. She looked at Mike and smiled. He returned the gesture, delighted to see her awake.

"I heard I had a bit of a group gathering last night?"

"You sure did. Gave us a bit of a scare there."

"Oh well. Thanks to June I'll be fine."

"What?" Mike asked bewildered.

"I was talking to her last night. She told me that everything was going to be fine. Where'd she go?"

"You're kidding right?"


"Sarah...June died last night."


* * * * * *


This morning had been pretty sobering. The initial shock had worn off but the house felt even lonelier than it did last night. I'm not sure I could ever get used to living in this house again or whether I want to. There's just too many memories. Right now I don't need those.

Lucas had come over to make breakfast for me. I tried to protest but he wouldn't have it. Marcel had already started on the business end of getting things organized. He's definitely an asset right now. He knows how to get things done and seems older than his years would suggest. I've actually noticed that about him since he came back. He's been a lot...darker since he came back. Maybe that's not the right word. Marcel used to be one of the most funloving people I'd ever met. He always had his serious side, his determined and organized side. Now though, that seemed to be all he had. He'd changed since the last time he was here. I don't know if it was just from living in an adult's world for so long or what but he'd grown up a lot since he'd left Merlow.

He's taken Dade to get fitted for his funeral suit. Now Dade, there's a weird one. For someone who just lost his Mom yesterday, he's sure in better spirits than I've seen him in a long time. Don't get me wrong, he's hurting over Mom's death but he just seems happier than he has been for a while. I don't think it's related but I'm glad to see it. I don't think I could handle having the depressed Dade moping around the house.

"Storm!" Lucas yelled from downstairs. "You've got a visitor!"

Oh great. Another one. I've had about enough visitors today. Thank goodness Dad and Abby are back to help greet all of them. I'm getting sick of it. I know they mean well, but you can only take so many `are you ok?' or `we were devestated'. Lady, you have no idea. I try to be as gracious as I can but it's hard.

Abby is her usual self. She seems to be taking the reins of Mom's role quickly. It's not that she wants to be Mom, it's just natural for her to assume some sort of maternal role in the household now. Dad is the one I worry about. He looks like shit to be honest. Like his heart's been ripped out of his chest. I've never seen him so low before. I'm just glad he doesn't drink. He reminds me of myself, keeping his feelings to himself and trying not to be obvious. I feel for my father, I know he was so close to getting Mom back and I really believe they were that close to reconciling.


"Oh, coming!" I yelled as I remembered Lucas was waiting downstairs.

I hopped off my chair and bounded downstairs. When I saw who was at the front door, I almost stepped back in surprise. Not shock, just surprise.

"Brad." I said as I looked him up and down, his arm in a cast and looking as though he'd been run over by a liner. "What happened to you?"

"Got run over by a parked car." Brad shrugged. "Anyway, I just heard about your Mom. I can't believe it. I'm really sorry know. I just wanted you to know. Is there anything I can do to help?"

"I think I should be asking you that same question."

"I'm ok."

"Well, Brad." Marty Lee said cockily as he slapped Brad on the back and stepped up to the doorway. "You look like shit."

I raised my eyebrow in trademark Dade fashion at Marty Lee. I'd always known he was a prick at times but kicking someone when they're come to think of it, I do expect that kind of thing from him.

"Marty Lee." Brad said with the slightest quiver in his voice as he stepped away from him.

Lightbulbs went off in my head and possible scenarios played over. I may be naïve sometimes, but I'm not stupid. My eyes narrowed on Marty Lee. He noticed this and quickly changed his demeanor.

"I just wanted to see how you and Dade were doing. I was really sorry to hear about your Mom."

"Thanks." I said flatly.

"I better go, Storm. I'll see you at the funeral. Call me if you need anything ok?"

"Don't worry, Brad. I'll be calling." I said as I smiled sincerely at him. "Thanks for coming."


"So, Marty Lee. Is that all you came for?" I asked bluntly.

"Yeah. Is there anything I can do to help?"

"Yep. Pray." I said with a snicker as I slammed the door shut.

"What was that all about?" Lucas asked as he came over.

"Marty Lee. I think I need to keep a closer eye on him."

"What happened to Brad?"

"I'm not sure yet. But I get the feeling Marty Lee happened to him."

"You've got enough to worry about right now. Brad will have to wait."

"I know. He's my friend now though. I can't let people walk all over him. He's different now. He doesn't deserve that."

"You'll excuse me if I don't sympathize with anything to do with Brad." Lucas said shaking his head as he headed back into the kitchen.

"Hmmm...hey, Babe. Hasn't Marty Lee been spending time with Dade lately?"

"Oh...yeah. That. Marty Lee was the vip. You know what that means."

"You're kidding right? I don't want that prick anywhere near my little brother. He has mental issues."

"I know how you feel but Marty Lee knows he can't do whatever he likes. It's tradition."

"It's stupid. I don't want him anywhere near Dade. I don't trust him." I said as my eyes narrowed on his figure walking away through the window. "There's something just weird about that guy. He's bipolar or something. I'll be keeping my eye on him."


* * * * * *


Marcel stood watching as Dade was being fitted for the suit he was going to wear for his mother's funeral. Marcel had taken it upon himself to make sure every fine detail was taken care of. It was the least he could do for a woman he considered a maternal matriarch. A woman he loved as if she were his own family. A woman who treated him as if he were her own family.

Josh had joined the two, offering to help Marcel with some of the driving around. Marcel had agreed readily but Dade didn't seem to be too happy about it. Some underlying tension still there, Marcel thought to himself. Dade himself actually seemed to be doing a bit better today. Marcel believed it was because of his conversation with June. If ever there were an upside about her death, it was that Dade managed to make peace with her before she died.

Out of the three of them, Josh seemed to be the most distracted today. He seemed anxious and tense. Marcel pinned some of it down to the fact that Dade hadn't asked him to come but he'd come anyway. There was something else though that Marcel couldn't quite figure out.

"So, Josh. What's with you and Dade?" Marcel asked bluntly, as he tends to do. "Have a fight?"

"My fault. What about you two? Are you getting back together now?" Josh asked rather directly to Marcel's surprise.

Marcel smiled in response, respecting Josh's openness. He always knew Josh to be a face value guy. Yet he seemed somewhat distracted today. On edge.

"We haven't made any plans. I don't think it's time to think about anything like that. I'm just here to play my role and do what I can to help. Why do you ask?"

Josh just shrugged his shoulders and the conversation was over faster than it had started. Marcel turned his attention back to Dade, watching him with a curious mind. He studied Dade with his eyes. His mannerisms, his little nuances. The dimpled smile that seemed to be coming out more today. He wondered whether he and Dade had any kind of a future together. He'd actually put it out of his mind until last night when Dade had made it obvious that it was very much on his own mind.

The only problem for Marcel was that he believed he'd changed too much since he had last left Merlow. He wasn't the same person anymore. He wasn't as happy, wasn't as funloving. He was harder, darker, less innocent. Dade on the other hand seemed to be finding his innocence again. He'd been through his dark time and now seemed to be emerging from it.

"It wouldn't work." Marcel whispered to himself.

"What was that, Marcel?"

"Oh, nothing. Listen, I have to go and take care of a few more things. You think you can take Dade home after this?" Marcel asked as he threw Josh his car keys.

"Sure. Will you be ok on your own to get home?"

"Yeah, I'll taxi."

"Ok. See you later then."

Marcel began walking away, pausing to turn back one last time. He still couldn't understand how after all this time, Dade still wanted him. If there was one part of his life that he felt he had no control over, it was Dade. Everything else he could predict, train for, overcome but not Dade. He through the ility out of stability. Yet Marcel kept coming back. He always tried to find reasons to keep Dade at a distance but still he came back.

Marcel was about to turn away when he spied a look on Josh's face. A look that gave away everything Josh was trying to hide. Marcel shook his head and smiled, he didn't feel as though he had enough of a hold on Dade to feel any kind of green eyed envy. Wasn't his style anyway.

Josh turned to watch Marcel as he walked off. He figured Marcel had come home because of some kind of injury as he'd been hobbling around since he came back. Josh knew all about his and Dade's history. He wondered whether they'd finally get to give their relationship a go now that Marcel seemed to be sticking around for a while. He knew the type of person Marcel was, he wouldn't leave Merlow again until both Dade and Storm were ok.

"Maybe they would make a good couple." Josh said to himself. "I should be supportive."

"Supportive about what, Josh? Where'd Marcel go?" Dade asked as he approached Josh.

"He had to take care of some other things. He didn't say what. He asked me to drive you home."

"That was nice of him." Dade sighed as his face fell with tiny signs of disappointment. "At least it'll give you and I time to talk, Josh."

"About what?"

"About the fact that you keep coming back when I remember asking you to leave me alone."

"I know, Dade." Josh said as he lowered his head in shame. "Sorry."

"Oh gimmie a break. I'm not some kind of uber prick. Don't do that, Josh. I thought you were past that. Where's the confident Josh that I used to hang out with?"

"I guess he's only confident when you're around." Josh said with a wide smile.

"Oh that's so corny." Dade grinned back. "You're a hard one to stay angry at. Especially when you won't leave me alone! But don't worry, I'm over it. Just don't dare do that to me again. I deserve better. Understood?"

"Understood." Josh said with a mock salute.

"Good. Now, you're my chauffeur I believe?"

"I am. I've never driven anything this expensive before though." Josh said as he looked at Marcel's keys.

"Don't expect Marcel to have it for very long. He likes everybody to think he's really common like the rest of us folk. But we all know he loves his toys." Dade said cheekily. "Don't let him know I told you that. He'll deny it but you can't believe him. He has money printed for him by his parents."

"He doesn't seem like he cares about money. I always thought he was really cool like that. He never brags or anything."

"I'm playing with you, Josh. He feels ashamed of the fact that his parent's are uber rich but if I were him, I'd milk it to bits!"

Josh stared at Dade quizzically for a moment, confused by his jovial spirits. "You seem pretty cheery for someone who just lost their mom."

"Only because I know she loved me. She's not gone you know. Long as I'm alive, she'll always be with me. I'll never forget her. I'll miss her but I'll never forget her."

"Good." Josh said with a smile. "I hope I'm as positive as you are if I ever lost my parents."

"You just never know until it happens. Don't get me wrong, I miss her like crazy. I'm just trying to be as positive as I can about the situation. Can you understand that?"

"I think I can."

"Good. Now let's get going. Too bad Marcel didn't hang around. He's going to miss lunch."


"Oh yeah. Didn't you know? Driver has to buy me lunch." Dade said with a mischievous grin.

"I think that can be taken care of, Mr. Marcus." Josh smiled back.

"Great. Let's go, handsome." Dade said as he tapped Josh on the back and headed off.

Josh stood there for a moment with a great big smile on his face. He threw the keys up and caught them in his hand before he bounded affably after Dade.


* * * * * *


"Storm. Everything's been arranged. You don't have to worry about anything." Marcel said as he hung up the phone and was about to head out the door again. "Mira will be over soon to start getting things organized for the wake. Dade should be back soon with Josh too."

"Thanks, Marcel." I said as I gave ol' blondie a great big hug. "I really appreciate everything you've done. There's some things I want to say to you, Marcel. You are one of the most loyal people I have ever known. This isn't the first time you've come through for me. I haven't said thank you enough times. I haven't told you how grateful I am that you came into my life. I'm sorry for being such a shit to you lately. It was wrong for me to blame you for what happened with Dade."

"About Dade, you might want to find out more about what's going on there. Not my place to say anything but I wasn't the reason he was on that bridge, Storm. I know you blame me but you know I would never set out to hurt him."

"I know, Marcel. I'm sorry. I really am. I love you, Blondie. Believe it or not, I do think I'm growing up a bit. I know how valuable you are to me. And I hope I can be there for you as much as you have been for me."

"You know you've been there for me too, Storm. I'll always be your friend. Always be here for you. Even when you're a stupid opinionated shit with no idea of what's really going on." Marcel said with a grin. "Anyone ever tell you you're pigheaded, stubborn and really annoying sometimes?"

"Thanks." I said with a smile. "When this is over. We need to talk more though. Ok?"

"Oh, I love you too." Marcel grinned before leaving. "Even though you never once gave me any loving. And I am just too fine to be passed up. Especially for him."

"I heard that." Lucas yelled as he headed upstairs.

"I won't be long, Storm. See ya soon." Marcel said as he headed out the door.

I followed him out onto the front porch and watched him drive away in my jeep. I don't whether it was losing Mom that was making me appreciate the people around me more but I seemed to. Marcel especially. No matter where he was in the world, he'd always come back eventually. You can always count on him to take care of you. He's loyal to a fault. He'll tell you if you're being stupid but he'll always look after you. Strong, dependable, loyal. That was Marcel.

I wondered if he'd find someone of his own soon. I didn't know where he stood with Dade or whether he was even looking but I know he deserves someone awesome. And if he does end up with Dade, I won't do anything to interfere this time. Dade would be lucky to have him.

I was about to head back inside when Mira drove up. I rushed over to help her with her things and she greeted me with a warm smile. I never expected I'd come to really love let alone like this woman. I hope Lucas never has to go through what I'm going through anytime soon.

We carried her shopping inside before she placed her hands on my arms warmly and gave me a hug. I returned the gesture and smiled back at her as she let go.

"I'm so sorry for your loss, Daniel. I want you to know if you ever need anything, John and I always here. Anything at all. Please don't hesitate to ask."

"Thank you, Mira. And thanks for helping and everything."

"You're more than welcome." She said with tears as she gave me a bigger hug this time. "You're a good boy, Daniel. I mean young man. You're mother would be proud."

"She is. She is."

"I'll get started with all of this. Where's that son of mine?" Mira said with a mock cross look. "Lucas!"

"He's upstairs. I'll get him. He's been great today." I said as I bounded upstairs to my room.

I leaned against the doorway and sighed as I watched Lucas laid out on my bed. That was my Lucas, a constant sleepyhead. He looked so cute snuggled up like that. He'd been worried about me and fretting about all day, helping Marcel get things organized. Poor guy must have been tired.

"Hey, you." I said with a smile as I leaned over Lucas' sleeping form and wrapped my arms around him from behind.

"Oh hey." Lucas said sheepishly as he woke from his slumber and realized he was supposed to be helping Mira. "I'm sorry, I just laid down for a minute and must have fallen off to sleep."

"Shh." I said as I pulled him back down so I could hold him for a moment. "You've been helping out all day. I'm sorry I haven't spent much time with you lately."

"It's ok, Storm." Lucas smiled as he rested his forehead against mine and closed his eyes again. "It's just nice being here with you. You holding up ok?"

"Still kicking. Keeping busy."

"I'm here whenever you need me." Lucas said as he gave me a tiny angel kiss. "Anytime for the next oh...lifetime or so. If that's ok with you."

"I think we can arrange that." I said with a grin. "I'm gonna let you go back to sleep. You look like you need a rest."

"No. I'm ok. You should be having a rest, not me."

"Soon. I have to head out and get my fitting done for the funeral. Then I have to meet Dad and Marcel to go over some of the arrangements for tomorrow. If I'm not back by the time you and Mira leave, I'll call you in the morning."

"I can't stay?" Lucas asked sheepishly as he tilted his head to the side with a puppy dog look.

"When this is all over, we'll have plenty of us time. I promise."

"I know. I just want to look after you that's all."

"I love you." I said with a smile as I kissed Lucas' cheek softly and hopped off the bed.

His hand held onto mine for a moment and I stood there as he drifted back off to sleep. I placed his hand down gently on the bed and kissed him again. I couldn't help feeling so grateful at that moment for Lucas. We really seemed to have found our comfort zone lately. And it was working wonders.

"Man, I really do love you, Lucas Sheridan. I don't what I'd ever do if I lost you too."


* * * * * *


Mike stood outside Sarah's hospital room, watching her sleep. She'd had a rough couple of days and it didn't look like it was going to get much better anytime soon. He felt so much for his mate, he wished he could go through all of this for her. Now having to deal with June's death, he knew Sarah would be doing it tough. Sarah had blamed herself for June's death. Saying that if she wasn't sick, June wouldn't have had to rush to the hospital and wouldn't have crashed.

Mike knew better than that. So many were blaming themselves but it wouldn't make anything better. He knew June would be angry if she heard people were blaming themselves for her death. He himself hadn't had time to deal with his own grief. Being here at the hospital had distracted him but now that Sarah was doing better, June's death was sinking in. She was the greatest woman he'd ever known and the only mother he ever knew. Even thinking about her know would bring him to silent tears.


Mike felt a hand on his shoulder and turned to see Sarah's mother standing next to him. He smiled at her and she gave him a warm hug. He'd grown close to Sarah's parents and they respected each other. Even Sarah's brothers seemed to respect Mike. They knew he'd stuck with Sarah the whole time she'd been sick and that made them grow to admire Mike.

"She'll be ok. Go and spend some time with your family. I'm sure Sarah will understand. It might do you some good to get out of here." Connie Leo said with a concerned smile.

"Will you call me if anything changes?"

"I will. Give our love to everyone. We're thinking about them. If we can do anything to help, let us know."

"Ok. Tell Sarah I'll be back tonight. Thanks."

"You're welcome." Katherine replied. "And Mike."


"I want you to know how much we appreciate you supporting Sarah like this. She likes to play strong but she hurts when you're not around. Thank you for looking after my daughter. Especially at a time like this. I know your heart is in two places. Go home and see your family."

"Thank you." Mike replied with gracious tears. "See you later."

Mike headed to the lobby and ordered himself a taxi. As he stood outside the hospital waiting, June's death seemed to start hitting him more and more. The taxi ride didn't help. The dark wet streets, the silent night all did nothing to distract him. He spent the ride home doing his best not to cry in front of a stranger but the grief often proved too much. The taxi driver himself had been quite gracious, probably working out that since he'd picked Mike up from a hospital that things weren't good right now. Mike gave the driver an appropriate tip as he stood on the footpath outside his house.

His feet felt heavy as he approached the doorway. This was the first time he'd been home since Sarah had gone into hospital. It was all too much for him now as he turned the knob to head inside. A heavy hearted and tired Mike stepped into the house and broke down right there. The combination of Sarah's illness and June's death had taken it's toll. Now coming home he was finally able to feel the grief that he tried to keep at bay for Sarah's sake.

His face strained with the sudden tears that overwhelmed him as he held the stair post to steady himself. He fell to the first step and sat there sobbing into his hands. His whole body shook as the pain he felt inside seemed tangible.

"Bro, bro!" Dade yelled as he rushed to Mike's side. "It's ok, Bro. It's ok. We'll get through this."

Mike buried his head in Dade's arms and held onto him with all his might. He shook so much he couldn't manage any words. His sobs shaking him to his soul. Dade shared his tears with Mike, the two sitting there holding each other. It didn't matter that they weren't bonded by blood, they were family. Dade's heart broke for Mike, he knew this would hit him hard and the timing couldn't be worse.

"It's ok, Bro. Just let it out. I'm not going anywhere. I love you. I'll look after you. We'll all look after each other."

Mike didn't see the rest of the pack approach him but he could feel them as they all joined in to hold Mike. The group in it's entirety finally being able to share the grief they all felt together. He knew Sarah wasn't here right now but her spirit was with them. The latest events had shaken all of them, had filled them all with some of the worst grief they'd ever felt. Right now their loyalties and bonds were clear. They were all family. Together they'd get through this.

Lucas, Marcel, Mike, Dade, Storm and even Sarah. They were all each other had now. Maybe, just maybe, it might be enough.


* * * * * *


After all the preparation. The days of distracting myself with the tasks of making this happen. Here we were. The setting couldn't have been more perfect. More beautiful. The sun shone brightly down on us, shimmering off the water of Lake Herren. The slightest of breezes blowing in to offer a cool respite. The mountains in the distance. The foreshore of the lake. I couldn't have asked for better.

"For all the days on this earth, we can only ask for one thing. To be loved by those we love ourselves. June Marcus was a woman who shared her love in abundance with her family, her friends and the wider community. Through her service as a healer, a mother and a peerless member of the community, she has received that love in return with as much abundance as she herself gave. That is proven today with the attendance of many of you here who shared your lives with this great woman.

We are here not just to say goodbye, but to celebrate her life and her many achievements. Her legacy will live on through her children and her many great deeds. She will always be remembered with fondness and admiration."

I stood there side by side with Dade and Abby, watching the director give the opening speech. I knew what would come next. I was hoping that time would pass by slowly. That every speaker would take their time. We had an open floor to begin with and that would be followed by the scheduled speakers. I would be the last. Marcel was first. He looked pretty damn neat up there with his suit and oakley glasses. We needed them on a beautiful day like this. Sun shining down as if Mom herself were smiling on us.

"Hi there." Marcel said with a smile as he started his speech. "For those of you who don't know me, my name's Marcel Andreveich Lewis. As you can tell my last name isn't Marcus. But I did love June as a mother. I had the privilege of sharing this woman's life for the last seven years. She, like her eldest son, took me under her wing and never let me go again. She had no reason to take a shining to this chubby ten year old with a snotty nose. But she did. I'm so grateful that she did. I wasn't the only one either. Mike has had her for almost his entire life and I know he shares my feelings towards this great woman. Mike and I are the surrogate children she had but never had to conceive."

This comment drew a laugh from the crowd and helped to lighten the spirits. Even Mike managed a laugh. I was glad. Trust Marcel to help lighten the moment. He faltered towards the end of his speech but I'd have to say he was the strongest of all of us. He always was stronger than we used to give him credit for though. Man how he's changed. From a chubby ten year old to a spunky athletic seventeen year old. It didn't seem that long ago that Marcel and I were sharing our sixteenth. Now our seventeenth had passed without barely a mention.

I asked Mike if he wanted to speak but he told me he wouldn't be able to get through any speech. Dade didn't speak, he ended up doing his own thing. He sang. It was a song he originally wrote for either me or Marcel, I'm still not sure. My Inspiration. Just him and his guitar. That was his tribute to Mom. I stood behind him while he sang. Mike surprised me by joining in with Dade. I have to say they both sounded great. Dade kept his composure through most of it, Mike was the one who had trouble holding it together towards the end.  I know Sarah would have liked to have said something but she was too weak and I wouldn't have wanted to put her through it.   I wasn't even sure if she should have come but there was no keeping her away.   She was adamant she would be here to pay her respects, no matter what.

Abby said her piece and I'm glad she did. Dad was up next and I was so proud of him when he did get up. I wasn't sure if he'd be able to. He didn't last very long though before he began to break down and in an instant, Dade and I both rushed to either side of him.

"We're here, Dad." I said as I squeezed his shoulder.

"Yeah, Dad. We're here." Dade said as he smiled proudly at Dad. "And we both love you."

For a moment my curiosity peaked as I noticed some kind of look pass between Dade and Dad. As if somehow Dade's comment had some strengthening effect on Dad. It was like I missed something but at least it worked. Dad finished his tribute without a hitch and brought all of us to tears as he spoke of the history that he and Mom had shared. I found it quite strange to hear tales of life for them in their younger days. Their life before they were married. Their life when they got married. Their life with us.

Now finally it came down to me. Time to step up to the plate, Storm. You'll only ever do this once in your life so make sure it's good. I stepped up to the head of the coffin and placed my hand on it, tracing the polished wood as if it were Mom.

"I've spent the last couple of days trying to figure out what exactly I could say here. What I could say that would do justice to my mother. And I realized that nothing I say today could ever convey the way I feel about this woman. She is and always will be the greatest source of inspiration in my life. She was the cornerstone of our family and those who became part of our family. On behalf of them and myself, I want to thank you Mom for the love and life you shared with all of us. I try to think of one moment, one snapshot of you that I could share to show the kind of person you were. There were just too many. I don't know how I'm going to live without you. I wish you were here with me to give me strength but as long as I draw breath, a part of you will be inside me. I lived to make you proud of me. To see you smile. There was so much more I wanted you to have. So much more you still had to offer and experience. You were taken before your time. You always worked so hard and never got that time for yourself we all know you needed and deserved. This isn't exactly the kind of time I was planning for you. But if there is a heaven, you're surely there watching over us having the holiday of eternity. I will try to take comfort from that thought. The world feels emptier now without you. The house feels a little less like home."

I paused then as my voice began to creak and give way. I wouldn't break. Not yet. I'm almost there. I've almost done it.

"I love you more than you'll ever know and will cherish every memory I have of you. I will never forget you and I will never ever say goodbye. Just goodnight until I see you in the morning. So Mom...until then...thank you for my life. And thank you for yours. You'll always be the best."

I stood down and shook my head with tears at Dade as I walked off. "Sorry, Bro. I can't say anymore."

It was hard to think then. Hard to walk. Hard to stand. I was the last to speak. The last to say goodbye. It took everything I had to keep it together then. I'd managed to last this long without breaking down and right now it was the hardest to do. As the director committed her body to the earth and the coffin was slowly lowered, I fought inside myself to hold back from breaking. It was hard though. So damn hard. Seeing Mike cry like I'd never seen him before with Sarah looking frail and weak but still doing her best to comfort Mike even with her own tears. My heart felt so much for him right now. Even Dad and Abby. I'd been too hard on them. They still loved Mom just as much as me. Then there was Marcel. The solitary warrior. Trying to be stout and upright but his demeanor visibly shattered, his face wrought with immense grief and sadness. He seemed to be doing a better job of holding back tears but to those who knew him, we knew whatever he showed on the outside was amplified a hundred on the inside. Seeing my friends, my loved ones like this. It hurt me. But not so much as seeing Dade. He just completely broke down as Mom's coffin was lowered. He cried out for her and I quickly grabbed him and held him. I held him with all my might as she shook and sobbed violently. Still crying out. And there I was thinking he was doing so well. I know exactly how he feels.

I put my hand on his shoulder to reassure him. It was time for him and I to do our thing again. I handed him a shovel and we each tipped the first mound of dirt over Mom's coffin. For something so simple, it was one of the hardest things I've ever done. It was our way of showing respect. Lucas took the shovel after me and Marcel from Dade. They each shoveled their mounds and stood for a moment, each saying their own last words to mom. Marcel is one of the absolute hardest men I've ever met. Even now, he holds it all inside but it makes it worse because I know he's just breaking up inside.

"Forget the rest." Marcel said with a choke in his voice. "You're the best, June. You're the best. Thank you."

He blows a kiss to Mom and hands the shovel off to Mike while Lucas does the same to Sarah. Sarah refuses any help and does her shovel by herself. She looks terribly weak and tired but her determination is unfathomable. Mike, I've never seen him so cut up and visibly shaken before. I always knew he loved Mom a lot but I guess the depth of his affection is pretty evident right now. He says his I love you and last words to Mom as he cries over her coffin below. I gently take the shovel from him and hand it on before the rest of the pack surround me.

"Bye, Mom." Dade said kissing a flower before he let it fall to her coffin. "Love you."

"We'll all miss you, Mom." I said as the six of us stood around her coffin while everyone else had their turn with the shovels. "Love you heaps. Good night. Till the morning."

And now. Now when the last mound of dirt had been shoveled on top. Now when people started to disperse. Now it was all over. Now I let it hit me. Finally I felt like I could break and grieve for my Mom. It hit me like a locomotive. I stumbled back and turned to find the nearest hideaway I could. I made it to a large tree that hung out over the lake in a little cove. My chest began to heave and my eyes welled up with tears as I broke. I literally broke. I fell to my knees and held my own sobbing head in my hands. I felt physical pain in my chest. As if Mom were a physical part of me and she'd just been ripped out. I screamed out in anger and cried out all the pain I'd been holding in ever since she died. I fell limp against the tree and let the grief and sadness overwhelm me. Thoughts of my mother running through my head. Painful thoughts of life without her. In the end it was all just pain. But it had to come eventually.


* * * * * *


"Where's Storm?" Mike asked Lucas anxiously as Lucas stood looking over the lake.

"Over there." Lucas said with tears in his eyes as he pointed to a lonely tree that had an equally lonely figure huddled beneath it.

Mike gave Lucas a puzzling look and was about to go after his brother when Lucas stopped him. This made Mike even more confused.

"He's hurting. How can you leave him alone at a time like this?"

"You should know as well as I do. That's how he does it. He's been so strong for everyone and this had to happen sooner or later. He just held it until he knew he'd buried his mother. Now he's allowed to grieve." Lucas said with pain in his voice, seeing his mate hurting but knowing he couldn't help him. "He's only just letting it hit him and I know it hit him hard."

"I can't watch this. I don't care what he's like. He's my brother. I have to do something."

"Mike. Not yet." Lucas said holding Mike back. "He's saying goodbye. Let him say goodbye in his own way before we let him know that he isn't alone."

"He isn't alone." Marcel said as he approached his two friends.

"None of us are." Sarah said as Dade helped her along. "When he's said goodbye in his own way and let his grief out, we'll be here."

"We'll all be here."


* * * * * *

Coming Soon - SF31: The Ones You Leave Behind

This is the last part of the three part Crossroad trilogy.  By now you probably understand why the trilogy was titled crossroads.  It should be obvious that things in Merlow are changing.   June's death will no doubt have some huge impacts on all our major characters.   What happens to the Marcus household?  Will some of the pack decide that now is a good time to move on?  I don't want to give any of the future away but I will say that basically, Storm Front is planned out right up till the end of season 5.   Little things change but the big events are all planned.  So if you're thinking I knocked off June just for the hell of it, you're wrong.

First of all, both Storm and Dade have basically cheated death.  There had to be a counterbalance.  Someone had to go or else you'd think no one would ever go.  Secondly though and most importantly is the future.  You'll have to wait and see.  It's all planned out from here on in so when Storm Front is all over, you'll probably read back and go, oh ok I kinda see now why this had to happen othewise this wouldn't have been able to happen.   Whatever.  You can even just call it destiny. 

I really did love June and I felt really bad killing her off.  That's why at least I fully believe she deserved a trilogy to send her off in a manner worthy of her impact.  This really is a turning point for our friends in Merlow.  Signs are there, maybe you can see them already. That's why it's called crossroads.

The Pack really came together in this chapter and two standouts for me are Marcel and our regular unsung hero, Mike.  Two workmen in Storm Front who are often forgotten.  Mike's had a lot to deal with and naturally he's a bit overwhelmed.  Marcel pretty much handled himself like a champ.  The only time he seemed off his game was when it came to Dade.

Storm and Lucas are well, Storm and Lucas.  They seem to have really found their groove lately.  So much so they're not even worth mentioning anymore!  Storm's attitude towards Dade is changing and perhaps Dade brought this on himself.  He's basically been turning on Storm for a while now and perhaps Storm has picked up on the little signs.  What would he think if he actually found out just how much Dade wanted to beat him?  Sure, Dade's finally come around but it may be too little too late.

Speaking of Dade, for the first time in almost two seasons, he's doing a hell of a lot better.  He's happier for one.  Trying to make amends with the people he cares about.  What about Marcel aye?

And what the hell is Josh smoking?

Quite a lot was covered in this chapter yet even more was left unanswered.  This chapter was mainly a tribute to June.  I tried not to involve too many of the other storylines but some of them did make little appearances.  Expect them to come back into play in the coming chapters.    Marty Lee.  Marcel and Dade.  Sarah.

We're coming to the mid point of Season 4 now.  There are around eight chapters left in the season as it stands now.  I suppose that's still quite abit actually.  If it makes you feel better, I'm not planning a break between Season 4 and 5.  And I'm going to aim for a chapter at least once every week or two so keep checking back.

Well I sure hope you enjoyed the crossroads series.  I know it was a majorly depressing trilogy but stick around, it has to hurt if it's to heal, you know?  Expect Sarah to get a lot more face time in the next chapter.  So it's goodbye to June and hello to the future.  Once again, thanks for coming back to the site over and over again.  Sharing this journey with me.  I didn't expect to be going this long after I wrote the first chapter.   And I never believed it would have such an impact on my life.  I might have reconsidered lol.  Just kidding.  You couldn't take this away from me if you tried.  You can take Ty away from StormNation, but you can never take Storm Front away from Ty.  Until next time.

I hope you enjoyed this chapter, I'd love to see more posts on the new SN Board.   For those of you who haven't gotten any temp passwords, please drop me a line at and I'll send you a temp one.

Stay Tuned for SF31: The Ones You Leave Behind and send me a note to let me know what you thought of Chapter 30: The Rise of Angels.  Or add your comments to the SN Board

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