By SF Writer
Copyright 1998 - 2009, All rights reserved.

SF35b: Storm's Passing

* * * * * *


"I know." Dade said as he stood in Marcel's doorway.

"What?" Marcel asked in agitated surprise as he noticed Dade.

"I know."

Marcel froze in his tracks as he realized the magnitude of what Dade meant. `He couldn't know.' Marcel thought to himself. How could he know?

"Who told you?"

"Does it really matter?" Dade said as he slowly stepped inside.

"It does to me." Marcel said stoically.

"Why didn't you tell me?"

"Claire came over tonight. She told me she let you go." Marcel said as he turned his eyes away from Dade and headed to his upper deck. "Is that why you're here? Because you think we have a chance now?"

"I do want a chance. I'm sorry for what happened to Claire."

"You should be. You hurt her, Dade." Marcel said flatly as his eyes remained fixed on the night view of Lake Herren.

"And I hurt you too. I'm sorry. I didn't know then." Dade said as he leaned against the deck railing next to Marcel. "I'm not just here for us. I'm here for you. I don't know what to say. Except ... I'm here."

"That's all?"

"For now."

"You know why I didn't tell you, Dade. I was afraid of what you'd think of me. I didn't want your pity."

"Even if I had it." Dade said with a small smile. "You wouldn't take it."

"You're right." Marcel said with a small smile of his own. "I don't want your pity."

"I wanted you back before I knew any of this. I haven't ... helped anything lately."

"Things haven't been the best for anyone, Dade. Not for anyone. I don't blame you for acting up a bit. Not being yourself. Storm's the same. This isn't how I wanted things to happen for us."

"So you did want something to happen again then?"

"I did. But I was afraid. I still don't know if I'm ready, Dade. Maybe you should've stayed with Claire."

"I'd only have hurt her more. I tried to get over you. It didn't work. I'm not here because I expect things to just be ok between us. I'm here because I still want to be near you. However you want. But I just want to be here for you. Would that be ok?"

"I don't know, Dade."

"You don't want me because I was with Claire?"

"I just don't know if I'm ready. I'm sorry. And I don't want your pity. I don't want you feeling sorry for me."

"Just let me stay. That's all. Nothing else."

"You don't think any differently of me?"

"I feel angry. I want to hurt them. I don't think any differently of you. Except I admire you a hell of a lot more and I already admired you a whole damn lot."

"Storm hurt them enough."

"He did?"

"He did. He still has it, Dade. The anger. It scares me."

"He's holding a lot in."

"I told you to talk to him. I told you to sort things out. Why didn't you?" Marcel asked annoyed.

"He was too busy talking about you. He didn't want to talk about us."

"So it was him then? I should've expected it. The way he's been lately."

"Don't be angry at him. He was thinking of you and me. He wasn't thinking about himself. Don't be angry. Don't hate him."

"He's been angry at me before. And he's iced me out. But I've never done the same to him. If he needed me, I was there. I think he's trying to make up for some of the past. I wonder what he was going through though to break my trust like that. It's not a good sign. If he doesn't care about what happens to him anymore, that's not a good sign."

"Even now, you're still more worried about him. He's still more worried about you. When the hell are either of you going to start worrying about yourselves?"

"It's called loyalty, Dade."

"I understand that. But still. I don't care what either of you say anymore. I know what I have to do now. It's my turn to take care of both of you. I'll help him. Whether he wants me to or not."

"That's more like the Dade I know. Where've you been?"

"I guess I've been a little bit lost too. I keep waiting for Storm to just tell me everything's going to be ok again. To be my big brother. I think it's my turn to take care of him."

"That's good, Dade." Marcel said with an almost relieved smile. "That's more like it."

"And as for you. I'm not here to pity you. I'm just here. Ok?"

"Ok, Dade. Ok."

"But I am sorry for what happened to you." Dade said with sorrow in his eyes. "I wish you had of told me. I would've understood. I know now why you pushed me away. And I understand. I'm not here to push you into anything. I'm just here for you. Please let me stay."

"I'm glad he told you." Marcel said with hints of tears in his eyes. "I don't think I would've been able to. Don't worry, I'm not angry at him. He knows he was risking a lot. But he did it anyway because he was thinking of us. I'm really worried about him, Dade."

"You're incredible." Dade said with a huge smile. "Even now, you still think about everyone else."

"I love him. He means a lot to me. He's my family."

Dade's eyes began to well up at Marcel's statement. He so longed for things to be right between him and Storm. He didn't feel like he could say the same thing Marcel just did. That they were family. They'd lost so much lately. He wondered whether they could get it back. Whether he could come to count on Storm as his brother again. Whether they would again be family.

"I love him too." Dade said with a bittersweet smile. "And I still love you as well."

"Thank you." Marcel said with a small nod.

"I'm so sorry." Dade said as he stood behind Marcel, resting his head on his shoulder.

"So am I."

"Would it ... be ok if I held you? Just for a little while?" Dade asked nervously. "I won't hurt you."

"I know that. I'm not stupid." Marcel said almost letting a tiny laugh slip out. "But there are some things ... I'm not ready for."

"Of course. All I want is to be with you so bad. Just to be around you. You have no idea how long I've wanted this. Just to be near you and not have to pretend that I'm not crazy about you. This is all I want. I don't need anything else."

"I don't know what we're doing, Dade." Marcel said as he somewhat anxiously let Dade's arms slip around him from behind. "I don't know what I'm ready for."

"I won't push you. All I want is to hold you. Just let me hold you. That's it."

Marcel let out an almost pain filled sigh as he let himself give in to Dade's secure embrace. Not many people ever saw this side of him. Saw him depend on someone else. But he knew now that Dade wasn't going anywhere. And that Dade wanted to take care of him. More than that though, he knew he wanted Dade to take care of him.

In the end, it wasn't Marcel who cried. It was Dade. He was simply overwhelmed with the fact that he finally had his blondie back. He'd wanted this for so long and now he finally had his chance. He knew he would have to be gentle with Marcel. To ease him into feeling comfortable again. But however long it took, he'd be there.

Marcel in turn felt the biggest sense of relief he'd had since returning to Merlow. Just being able to let himself go. To let someone else take care of him. Only Dade could truly help him. His friends ... his family had gotten him this far. The rest was up to Dade.

"Small steps." Dade said softly as he absorbed the fact that he was holding the one person he ever truly wanted. "Small steps."


* * * * * *


"Thanks for that, Lucas." Marty Lee said with a smile as he and Lucas arrived home.

"No worries, Marty Lee." Lucas said with an expressionless nod, still giving Marty Lee the cool treatment.

"You used to call me Marty. You could call me that again if you wanted."

"I don't think so, Dude. You gonna be ok to shower?"

"Yeah." Marty Lee said with a wry snicker. "I'll manage."

"Dude, I was so not hitting on you."

"I know. Thanks. I'll be ok. I think I'll take a bath."

"Ok. I think Storm's home so I'm gonna see if he wants any dinner."

"Thanks for tonight."

"You're welcome. Let me know if you need to pick anything else up, I'll drive you."

"I could always bring my car over."

"No. I don't want you getting too comfortable here."

"Right. You and Storm probably need your space back. I should be fine soon enough. Thanks for having me anyway."

"Dude, you really need to sort yourself out. I want to like you but I still have a hard time getting past everything you've done."

"I know, Lucas."

"Let me know if you need anything." Lucas said as he headed to his room.

He found his baby fast asleep on their bed, curled into a fetal position. He slept on his side of the bed, facing away from Lucas as if even in his sleep, he still didn't want Lucas to see him. As Lucas moved around the side of the bed, he could see that Storm had been crying. His cheeks still flushed and wet. The look on his face was strained and filled with pain, even as he slept. He looked so tired. It was almost as if he'd passed out from sheer exhaustion.

"Oh, Babe." Lucas said with a worried sigh as he brushed Storm's wet cheek. "You're still holding back."

Lucas closed his bedroom door and kicked off his shoes before he lay down behind Storm. He kissed Storm's shoulder tenderly and slid his arms protectively around his baby. He held onto him securely and pulled their bodies tightly together. He was afraid he'd stir Storm and he'd pull away subconsciously. To his elation though, Storm made a slight moan before interlaced his fingers through Lucas's and pulled his arms around tighter.

Lucas' mind was still filled with worry but he was buoyed by the fact his mate was receptive, even in his slumber. Something was going to give soon. He just hoped he'd be enough when it came time to pick up the pieces. For now though, this was the one place he wanted to be. At least like this, he felt needed and protecting. It took a long time to get to this point. Where Storm would let himself be vulnerable to Lucas. Would let Lucas be there for him. He still had a ways to go but they were getting there. Lucas had never felt so happy with their relationship than right now but he still worried about his mate. And no matter how much he needed their relationship, he'd always place Storm's wellbeing above it. He just hoped it never came to that. Storm already told him he'd stay but still in Lucas' mind, he wondered whether his mate still needed to get away from Merlow. Even for a little while.

"I hope not, Baby." Lucas said ruefully as he kissed Storm's shoulder. "But if that's what you need, I'll make the decision for you. But I won't make it without a fight. I'll do anything for you, Baby. Anything."


* * * * * *


"You sure you don't want to stay at your place tonight?" Sarah asked as Mike slipped into bed beside her.

"Dade's not home. I don't know where he is. He'll be ok without me for one night." Mike said as he wrapped his arms around Sarah. "How was your day?"

"It was ok." Sarah said with a tired sigh. "How was yours?"

"It was ok too."

"I hope you're spending as much time as you can with everyone before we go."

"I am. But I'm pretty anxious to get you out of here. Connie take you in today?"

"Yeah." Sarah said reluctantly.


"I don't know, Mike. I'm scared."

"We'll beat this, Sarah. I'm with you every step. I'm not going anywhere."

"I'm not afraid to die, Mike." Sarah said as her eyes stared vacantly out her glass ranch doors to the lake outside. "I'm afraid to live like this. Just fading away into a shadow of myself. People having to look after me. Pity me as I slip away. I don't want to go out like that. That's what scares me. I wish someone could just tell me I'll have a certain amount of time left so I can live it to the fullest. I'd rather have three great months than three long years."

"Hey, you're gonna have sixty years before I'm done with you. I know you're scared, Baby. I am too. But I'm not letting you leave me. Anytime you feel down or weak, you just grab onto me and let me be your strength. Use me."

"I'm so scared." Sarah said with fearful tears beginning to form in her eyes.

"I know, Baby." Mike said as he held Sarah close to him.

"I don't want to leave. I want to be here. If I'm going to go, I don't want to do it somewhere else. I want to be with the people I care about. My family. My boys. I wanna go back to school and have everything be the way it was. I want June to still be alive. I don't wanna be sick. I want us to be the King and Queen at the ball. Can't I just wake up in the morning and have everything the way I want?"

"I wish I could give you everything you wanted. I want the same things."

"They still need me, don't they?" Sarah asked with sad eyes. "The boys? Will they still need me when we go? Will they just forget about me?"

"Never. You know Snoogums will come and see us. Dade and Storm too. And you and Lucas are close. They won't forget you. They'd be hurt if they knew you thought like this."

"I'm sorry. I'm just scared."

"I know." Mike said as he kissed Sarah's neck reassuringly. "I know. It'll be ok though, Babe. It will. You'll see."

Mike held onto his future wife, waiting for her to ease into her sleep. He too was afraid but he dared not let his fear show. He'd fight as much as he could for Sarah. Give her everything he could to help her fight. He knew in the back of his mind that the main reason they were getting married now was just in case their time was limited. He didn't like to resign himself to that fate. He wouldn't. His eyes had never wandered. They'd always been for Sarah. Contemplating a future without her was too much for him to bear. His eyes began to water as he held his sleeping babe. He hoped ... he believed she knew how much she meant to him. How he'd trade places with her if he could.

Perhaps fate might just smile on them. Perhaps fate might spare them from a life too short. From a dream unrealized. Perhaps.



* * * * * *


Marcel woke to find himself still in Dade's arms. The feeling of it was so surreal for him. He'd wanted this moment for so long. Nothing had happened. They both lay fully clothed on Marcel's bed, but it still meant more to Marcel than anything sexual could have. He didn't think he was ready for anything like that. He hadn't even let Dade kiss him. Wasn't sure if there'd be anything like that in the future either. Neither of them had said that this was some step towards a relationship. It didn't matter. Dade made his intentions clear. He was here for Marcel and that was it. Nothing had to be decided yet.

Still though, it was the first time in far too long that Marcel felt safe. Let someone else care for him. Let himself be cared for. Held. He didn't think Dade had it in him. Wasn't sure if he'd still be the one who had to take care of Dade.

He didn't want to stir Dade. Didn't want to disturb the steady sound of Dade's breathing. Didn't want to wake him and perhaps ruin this moment. This moment of just letting himself be vulnerable, taken care of and being secure in someone's arms. It felt so good. Warm. Safe. He didn't want to give it up just yet.

He dared not move, in case he woke the sleeping savior next to him. The morning light had long arrived, filtering through the window blinds and radiating the supple skin on Dade's face. The more Marcel's eyes looked at him like this, the more he let himself feel just how much he wanted Dade. The more he let himself feel overwhelming relief that Dade had found his way back to him.

`I do want you back.' Marcel thought to himself.

As if breaking a non existent silence with a crash that lived only in Marcel's mind, Dade awoke. His eyes opening to meet Marcel's. Anxiously, Marcel waited for some reaction on Dade's face. Some signal to see whether this was what he really wanted. Whether he was happy with just `this'.

"Did you sleep ok?" Dade asked with a gentle brush of his hand across Marcel's cheek.

"Best sleep I've had in a long time, Dade. Thank you."

"Best sleep I've had in a while too." Dade said as kept his arms securely around Marcel. "Thanks for letting me stay."

"Thanks for insisting." Marcel said with a small but grateful smile.

"I could do this forever. If that's what you wanted. Just like this. Nothing would ever have to happen as long as I'd get to see that smile every day. That's all I want."

"Are you sure this is what you want?"

"Yeah." Dade said as he tentatively leaned forward and placed the softest of kisses on Marcel's forehead. "Positive."

Marcel simply smiled in response, before he closed his eyes and nestled his head in Dade's arms. Marcel's arms dared to move for the first time all night to reciprocate the embrace. Moving slowly around Dade's waist, he rested them gently against Dade's back. With an anxious but relieved breath, he let sleep reclaim him, secure in the knowledge that he was finally safe.


* * * * * *


Brad walked into school with a smile on his face. Things were actually getting better for him. Storm was on side again. Josh was doing everything to make Brad feel comfortable. Things didn't seem so bad anymore.

He was still nervous. Still knew he had a long way to go but he was a bit more hopeful now. The sun was shining. The people around him didn't seem so intimidating. It was a good day.

As he headed towards his locker, he spied Storm walking out of Mr. Brooks office. He wanted to call out to him but he stopped himself. The look on Storm's face made Brad uneasy. His eyes looked lost as he turned to walk away. He cast a lonely figure.

"Hey, Brad." Josh said with a smile as he patted Brad on the shoulder.

"Oh, hey." Brad said in surprise.

Brad turned back to find Storm, but he was already gone. He figured he'd catch up with Storm later, just to make sure he was doing ok. He didn't think Storm could be in trouble with Mr. Brooks so it must be something else.

"Everything ok, Brad?"


"Come on, let's go to class."

"Oh, hey. I got something for you." Brad said as he reached into his backpack. "Thought you might like it."

"Wow." Josh said with a smile as Brad handed him an X2 DVD.

"I know you never got into them as much as me but this movie's really awesome. It's definitely in my top five."

"Cool. I'll give it back when I've finished."

"No, it's for you to keep. I already got one. But it's really good. You should see it."

"Why don't you come over tonight? Come and watch us train and then we'll go back to my house and watch it. If you don't mind watching it again."

"Sure." Brad said with a big smile. "That'll be cool."

"Excellent. Thanks for this, Brad. You don't have to buy me stuff though."

"I wanted to. Don't worry about it. Anyway, I got trig. I better get moving."

"Ok. So tonight then?"

"Sure, it's a date." Brad said nonchalantly as he headed off.

Josh's stomach did a turn as Brad walked away. He knew Brad didn't mean anything by his comment. It was just one of his things. But it made him uncomfortable. If he slipped and let Brad see him being uncomfortable, his gig might be up. Brad might figure him out. Josh didn't want that. He wanted the two of them to be friends quite a lot. He was really seeing a side of Brad that he'd never seen before. Brad was a completely different person to the one who used to torment him. Now he was a lot more vulnerable and open. Not to mention sweet and thoughtful in a buddy kind of way. Telling Brad he was gay might make things weird and besides, Josh had no intention of getting with another guy anytime in the future so there was no point.

"Get it together, Josh." Josh said as he shook his head and headed off to class. "Just get it together."


* * * * * *


"Hey, Claire. You're still looking glum." Carl said with a smile as he sat down beside her. "I guess I'll have to get you a real rose next time."

"I'm the new class president." Claire said with a frown.

"That's great! What happened to Storm?"

"He resigned. I'm the new president by default. Mr. Brooks called me in to tell me that I'd be taking over till the next election."

"Why'd he resign?"

"I don't know. It's odd."

"Aren't you happy?"

"I guess so. Just surprised."

"Storm's got a lot going on. Maybe he didn't need the extra responsibility."

"Maybe you're right."

"Cheer up." Carl said with a cheery smile. "I'm sure Storm thinks you'll make a great prez."

"I hope so." Claire said with half a frown. "I hope so."


* * * * * *


Marcel sat on the hood of his car, watching the windsurfers out on the lake. Times like this he was glad he only had three classes at Merlow High. It gave him time on his own to think. In his own mind, he still hadn't decided what he was going to do next semester. The option was there for him to return to Drake and resume training. Or he could remain in Merlow and be a full time student for his final run at Merlow High.

Being with Dade had changed things for him. The urge to stay was great. Though he and Dade hadn't committed themselves to anything, Marcel wasn't in a hurry to give Dade up a second time. He wanted to stay. Dade seemed to know just what Marcel needed. He didn't push. Didn't rush.

"He's worth staying for." Marcel said to himself as his eyes scanned the horizon and stumbled across a familiar figure.


He stood on Herren Point, staring out at the lake, much the way Marcel was. Marcel's face became somber as he watched his best friend standing alone. The fierce wind blowing against him. He'd never seen Storm looking so alone before. So sad.

"He should be at school." Marcel said to himself as he hopped into his car and made the quick drive up to Herren Point.

He kept his eyes on Storm his as much as he could but the drive up would take him out of sight for a brief moment. By the time he came up towards Herren Point, there was no sign of Storm.

"Shit." Marcel said to himself as he parked up. "Where the hell did you go?"


* * * * * *


Dade sat eating his lunch in the cafeteria with only two things on his mind. Marcel. Storm. Marcel, because he was happy. Storm, because he was worried.

The night with Marcel had gone better than Dade had ever hoped. Nothing much had happened yet it was still more than Dade imagined. He didn't want to get up. Didn't want to leave. It felt good to be able to look after Marcel the way he did. Felt good to be close again. Things were definitely looking up.

He didn't think he'd get another chance with Marcel. But he did and it was because of his brother. His brother that he hadn't managed to bump into all day. The next time they spoke, Dade wouldn't let his brother push him away again. It was time to sort things out.

"So how's my future brother in law?"

"Sarah!" Dade said with a wide smile as Sarah hugged him from behind.

"How ya doing, Spunky?" Sarah said as she kissed Dade's cheek.

"What are you doing here?" Dade asked excitedly. "Shouldn't you be at home?"

"I should be. But I'm sick of that place. And I'm not spending my last weeks in Merlow, stuck inside my room."

"It's good to see you out and about. Does Mike know you're here?"

"He will when I see him. I saw Claire. She told me what happened. Did you end up talking to Marcel?"

"Yeah." Dade said with a serious tone as he stood up and walked with Sarah towards his locker. "Storm told me what happened to him. I wish he had of told me. I wish someone had of. But I understand why no one did."

"Storm told you?" Sarah asked in surprise.

"Yeah. He told me. He even drove me to Marcel's to make sure we worked things out. It wouldn't have happened without Storm. I really want to talk to him. I miss him so bad, Sarah. I know he's here every day but he isn't to me. He hasn't been the same for so long. I miss my brother. I want my brother back."

"Then you go see him and you don't let him get away from you again. Something has to give with him soon. No matter what he says, I know he still cares about you."

"I know he does." Dade said, pausing as he found a piece of paper stuck halfway in his locker. "Hmm, what's this?"

"Oooh a secret admirer? Perhaps from a special blondie?" Sarah said with a cheeky smile.

"No." Dade said in surprise. "It's from Storm."

"You want me to leave you alone while you read it?"

"No. It's fine." Dade said as he opened the letter and began reading it intently.

Sarah stood anxiously watching Dade. She hoped it was some kind of step toward reconciling. That maybe Storm had come to his senses. Though by the look on Dade's face, she began thinking otherwise. He seemed to have a confused, anxious look on his face as he read.

"What?" Sarah asked in concern. "What is it?"

"Sarah ... I don't like this." Dade said with fear filled anxiety, his eyes beginning to tear up.

"Give it to me." Sarah said urgently as she grabbed the letter from Dade.



I know you wanted to talk but I don't have it in me. At least this way I hope I'll be able to say the things I haven't been able to say to you in person.

I do love you, Dade. You are the greatest little brother in the whole world. You were my best friend and I still think the world of you. You are an incredible guy. You're so much better than you give yourself credit for. You're the best of us, Dade. I'm sorry for the way I've been lately. It wasn't all you, Dade. It was me. I gave up. I couldn't handle everything that was happening. I blamed you for Mom dying. Even more so when you told me your secret. I'm so sorry. I couldn't say it to you because I knew I'd hurt you if I did. I know you think I didn't care. I even tried to say it to myself. But I did care, Dade. That's why I couldn't say anything to you. I didn't trust myself and I didn't want to hurt you. I don't blame you though. I was just confused. Lost. I'm sorry I ever did and I hope you don't hate me for it.

More than that though, I've just felt so tired. I didn't know how to talk to you. I was so scared you'd see through me and you did. I was so afraid I'd let you down. Because lately I just haven't been the person you wanted me to be. I haven't been your big brother. And I'm sorry.

I'm sorry for everything. I hope one day you can forgive me. I never wanted any of this. I'm tired, Dade. I'm so sorry I let you down. I let Mom down. But it doesn't matter anymore. I love you.


"Shit." Sarah said with aggravation as her eyes quickly shot to Lucas' locker and spied an envelope sticking out of it.

She rushed to his locker and snatched the letter out. She knew it wasn't for her but right now she didn't care. If her gut instinct was right, Storm was saying goodbye.



I'm so sorry for all the hurt I've caused you. You are the best thing that ever happened to me. I love you.


"That stupid bastard." Sarah cursed before she faced Dade with an urgent tone in her voice. "Get Mike now! I'm going to find Storm."

"I'm coming with you, Sarah." Dade said firmly.

"No, you're going to find Mike. Tell him about the letter. Otherwise we'll be wasting time. Now, Dade!"

Sarah ran to the parking lot as fast as her legs could take her. She dialed in Storm's number on her cellphone but got no reply. She had no idea where she was going but she knew she wanted to be there yesterday. She drove as fast as she could towards the one place she hoped Storm would and yet still wouldn't be. Reese Bridge.

She made it there in double time but it still seemed to be an eon for her. The entire drive she was bordering on angry and scared out of her wits. When she arrived at Reese Bridge, Storm was nowhere in sight. No jeep. Nothing.

"Please let me be wrong." Sarah said as she rushed to the railing and looked over the side. "Where the fuck are you, Storm?"


* * * * * *


"He's not at Reese Bridge." Mike said as he clicked his cellphone off. "Sarah told me she's going to try the cemetery."

"Please don't let us be too late." Dade said to himself anxiously. "Where are you, Storm?"

"We don't know what he's doing, Dade. Let's not jump to any conclusions." Mike said reassuringly, but still with anxiety in his voice.

"Don't say jump, Mike."

"I should have been faster." Marcel said as he drove as fast as he could. "I saw him up on Herren Point. I knew something was wrong."

"Damn it!" Mike suddenly cursed out loud. "Don't do this to us, Storm. I should've been harder on him. I should've said something. We've all been too busy tip toeing around him. Damn it!"

"Mike, you're not the only one. We've all just been hoping he snaps out of it." Marcel said with frustration. "I knew something was going to give. I should've done more."

"You told me to talk to him. I shouldn't have waited till today. I don't know what he's doing but that's what scares me. His heads so messed up these days that we just don't know anymore."

"Dade, any answer on Lucas' cellphone yet?"

"No, Mike. He's over at the Sports Complex. I told Carl to make sure he calls us."

"Good. We have to find him." Mike said anxiously. "And then we're going to get all of this shit sorted out once and for all. That includes you, Dade."

"I know, Bro. I'll clean up any shit you ask me to. Just as long as he's ok. He came through for me when I needed him. I'll never forgive myself if I don't do the same for him. Never."


* * * * * *


Sarah's anxiety was overwhelming. She found it hard to concentrate on the road. Not to mention how tired she felt. But she was riding on adrenaline. She hadn't found Storm at June's grave. He still wasn't at school. This was one of the last places she could think of yet she knew it was somewhere that Storm hated coming back to.

"Come on, Storm." Sarah said anxiously as she pulled into the Marcus drive. "Yes!"

She found Storm's jeep parked in the drive. She let herself breath a small sigh of relief but still felt worried. Her instinct told her something wasn't right.

"Storm!" Sarah yelled as she rushed inside to find nobody downstairs.

She ran up the stairs and straight to June's room. Nothing there. Finally she ran to Storm's old room and shoved the door open.

"You stupid bastard." Sarah said in both relief and anger as she found Storm sitting on the edge of his old bed. "Where the fuck have you been?"

"What? What happened?"

"Are you ok?" Sarah asked as she gave Storm a relieved hug. "I was scared shitless."

He didn't seem overly responsive. His face still flush from crying. Eyes distant and lost.

"What are you doing here?" He asked finally.

"Trying to find you. What the hell is going on? You scared us all half to death."


"What are those letters about? You're saying goodbye?"


"The letters to Dade and Lucas."

"I wasn't saying goodbye." Storm said with a confused shrug. "I was just saying sorry."

"What the hell is going on with you these days? You've got us all scared shitless. The way you've been ... Mike tells me everything. I talk to Lucas. And I don't even have to talk to them. I see it myself. I feel it. You scared the shit out of us. We all don't know what you're thinking these days. We all thought you were doing something stupid. And it's all because we all just don't know what's going on inside your head these days. I drove up to Reese Bridge to find you because I thought ..."

"I never meant to cause any trouble, Sarah." Storm said with tears in his eyes as he stared vacantly at the floor. "I just came here ... because I had to. I've hidden from it. This room. Mom's room. This house. Dade. All of it. Today, I just had to ... face it. I'm sorry if I caused any trouble. I didn't mean to. You just don't understand."

"Now you listen to me. I'm still the bitch around here. And it's about time I kicked your ass. You've been walking around, acting like you're dead. You're not the one who died, Storm. And the way you've been acting ... it's not fair to June."

"I know." Storm cried with silent tears. "I know. That's why I'm here. That's why I sent those letters. It all hit me this morning. When I woke up, I felt the worst I've ever felt in my life. I'm so close to giving up. I'm so tired of feeling this way. I went to see Mom. I finally said goodbye. I told her I was sorry. Told her I was sorry for giving up the way I did. Sorry I haven't been a good brother to Dade. Sorry for letting her down. I won't do it anymore. I won't give up. I won't die inside. I won't go with her."

"She doesn't want you with her. Not yet. Not like this."

"I know. I'm so sorry I even thought about it. But I wasn't thinking about it today. I was thinking about how sorry I am. How angry I am at myself. I'm letting her down being this way. I won't do it anymore. I'm gonna fight it. I'm gonna start moving on, Sarah. That's why I did it all. That's why I'm here. I can't hide anymore. I'm sorry it's taken so long."

"I'm so sorry, Baby." Sarah said with tears in her eyes as she held Storm. "I'm so sorry this happened."

"Mom died. You have to leave because you're sick. And Dade ... oh man. Everything's changed too fast for me. I couldn't handle it. But I miss her so much, Sarah. I miss her so much. She can't pat me on the back anymore and make everything better. I have to do it myself. The thing that's always gotten to me though is that I never got to say goodbye to her. I never got to tell her that she was the greatest woman I've ever known. Never got to tell her how grateful I was for everything she did for me. She died. She just died. She left me. She left all of us. It wasn't fair. It wasn't fair. She had so much more left. I never thought I'd never get the chance to tell her everything I felt. I go to her grave and talk to myself. What an idiot. She's not there. She can't hear me."

"Yes she can."

"I'm so tired, Sarah. I'm sorry you had to find me like this. You're going through so much. This is the last thing I wanted."

"Shut up, you. I'm not dead yet. Don't treat me like I am. I'm still your girl. I'm still here to take care of you whenever I can. I'm glad I was the one who found you. I needed to feel ... like I was needed. Like one of you needed me. So don't be sorry."

"Of course we need you, Sarah."

"And we need you too, Storm. We need you to come back to us. Dade needs you and you need him. Don't shut him out anymore. He does stupid things when his brother doesn't help keep him in line. And as for Lucas ... don't even go there. That guy loves you more than he loves himself. Don't do this to him anymore. You gotta come back, Storm. You gotta come back to us. You're not the one who died. You're still here. We're all still here."

"I miss my room. I miss my life. But I'm ready to start moving on. I don't know if it'll happen overnight but it'll happen. It wasn't fair to Lucas for me to be like this. Wasn't fair to anyone."

"You don't know how relieved I am. We were all so scared. We love you so much, Storm. We really do. Don't scare us again."

"I won't. Where's my brother?" Storm asked with pain in his eyes. "I wanna see him. I wanna say sorry to his face. I miss the little bastard."

"Storm's on his way back then. Good. I'll call Mike. He's with Marcel and Dade looking for you."

"Oh man. How embarrassing is this?"

"Trust me, they'll be so happy."

"I'm tired, Sarah. Do you think I could come with you still? Just for a holiday? Not forever. Just for a little while."

"Of course, Storm. You don't need to ask. I think it'll be good for you. You need some rest and recharge."

"I quit the council today."

"You did?"

"Yeah. I'm no good there like this. And I don't have the time. I quit the council. I cut my hours down at work. I think I need to just take it easy for a while. I wanna spend more time with Lucas. Dade too."

"Things are gonna get better. I know they are. June would be so proud of you. I really thought one of us would have to kick your ass to make you come to your senses. But just like you do sometimes, you surprise us and you kick your own ass. That's what I love about you. But don't kick your ass too much. None of this is your fault."

"The thing I realized today is that she gave her whole life to me. To Dade. To everyone else. And if I gave up, it would be like spitting on her memory, on her legacy. I can't believe I even thought about it. Can't believe I let myself get so low. I'm so disgusted with myself."

"At least you realized what a lot of us already knew. I know Mike wanted to say it to you but he didn't want to push you too much while you were still hurting. She did a lot for you, Storm. She did a lot for all of us. I still feel guilty. She died coming to help me. I don't think I'll ever truly get over that. I think Dade needs to hear it from you. He needs to hear you say that you forgive him for what he's done to you. And that it's not his fault she died. He might not be reacting the way you did, but her death is still affecting him in his own way. You two really need to start doing what you should've been doing when she died. You two need to look after each other. That's what family does."

"We will, Sarah. I can't wait to see him. I never thought I'd say that again."

"You two have a lot of making up to do. And a lot of helping each other."

"I just ..." Storm began to say before he keeled over suddenly. "Oh shit. Uh oh."

"Storm?" Sarah asked urgently. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing. Just ... my ulcer I think has been giving me shit a bit. I'm ok."

"What do you expect the way you've been holding everything in lately. Stress doesn't help. And I think you've been under the most you've ever had in your life. Come on, I'll take you to see Dr. Haslan."

"I'm ok. I'm just tired. You should be resting. Not me."

"Shut up, Hero."

"You can go if you want. I'm ok. I'm just tired. So tired. I think I'm gonna have a sleep."

"I'm not going anywhere." Sarah said as she moved herself onto the bed and pulled Storm on top of her. "You just go to sleep."

"Ok." Storm said wearily as he closed his eyes.

"I love you so much, Storm. I'll be here when you wake up."

"Good." Storm said with a tired sigh.

"You just rest."

"I love you too, Sarah. I love all you guys. You're all my family. Thank you for being in my life."

Sarah brushed her fingers through Storm's hair. Her eyes flowing with pain filled tears. She still hurt so much for him. Still worried. Still felt uneasy. He said he was going to be ok now. That was at least a start. He was facing his demons. Yet she still worried. Still felt uneasy. She was actually anxious for him to wake up but she knew he needed to just rest. She couldn't imagine the drain on him since June's death. So much had happened since then, she still worried that he'd done himself more harm than he let on. Worried that he'd never quite be the same Storm again. But she'd face that when he woke up. Hopefully he'd be a little more recharged.

His sleep seemed a little deeper than it should though. Breathing seemed a little too shallow. She figured she was just worrying too much. Everything would be ok when he woke up.

"Is he ok? We saw his jeep outside." Mike asked as he, Marcel and Dade burst in.

"He's ok. He's just tired. He wasn't going to do anything stupid." Sarah said as she looked over Storm lovingly. "He didn't mean anything by those letters. He just wanted to say sorry. He knows he has problems. He misses you too, Dade. You two really need to talk when he wakes up."

"Oh, Storm." Dade said shaking his head as he knelt down next to the bed and kissed his brother's hand. "I'm so sorry. But everything's going to be ok now. I'll take care of you. We'll take care of each other."

"I'll call Lucas. Dad and Abby are both gone tonight. I'm gonna make us all some dinner. Everyone's staying here tonight. Except maybe you, Sarah. You ok to stay, Blondie?" Mike asked as he nudged Marcel.

"I'd like that."

"I'm staying." Sarah said shooting Mike a cross look. "I'll be ok. We'll all stay here. You'll just have to keep an eye on me here because I'm staying."

"Good. Then I'll call Lucas." Mike said as he headed to the door. "I'm glad he's home again. Finally."

"You sure he's ok, Sarah?" Marcel asked with his typical stoic concern.

"He will be, I'm sure."

"Don't worry. Everything will be ok, Bro." Dade said as he squeezed his brother's hand. "Everything will be ok."



* * * * * *

* To Be Continued *

That chapter was focused heavily on Storm.  It was actually a hard one to write.  Only because Storm's such a lonely character right now.  And whenever I write him, I have to make myself feel what he's going through.  But in this chapter, he seems more distant.  I think that shows too since you never get to see what's in his head in this chapter.   I know a lot of people don't like Storm but I still think it's because he's such an honest character.  Throughout his run in Storm Front, you've seen the good and bad of him.  Whether he says it out loud or in his head.  And he's not always right.   He's often wrong but you still see it.  I think every chapter since June's death has been hard to write because there's such a cloud hanging over Storm.

Storm's one character that I have to try really hard to put myself into his mindset because you hear his every thought.   And that's why it's been so hard writing Storm Front lately.  This chapter you don't get to see what's inside his head because he's in such a lonely state.   Everyone's trying to get to him but it's not until the end that you really get some idea of what's going on with him.  I love every character in SF.  Well the main characters anyway.  The Pack especially.  But I still have a certain affinity and loyalty to Storm because this story started with him.  He is or was the main character.  And even though Dade's the most popular, I won't have Storm playing second string.  So ... take that as you will.

This really was a pack heavy chapter.  And revolved heavily around the pack. Not sure if you picked up the opening theme with each couple sharing similar moments.  One being strong for the other.   Dade for Marcel, Lucas for Storm and Mike for Sarah.

Sarah's value should not be forgotten.  She's still very much a valued member of the pack.  They all have their roles.

And obviously, Marcel and Dade have made some small but significant progress ... finally.  Dade seems to be screwing his head on a bit after his acting out lately.  He realizes he has to play the bigger role now and take care of Marcel and hopefully his brother, now that he thinks he has the chance. 

One thing I do like about Storm now is he really does seem devoted to Lucas.  Knowing that he has to pick himself up as much for Lucas as himself.  And in turn, Lucas is devoted to him just as much.  They're still the original couple of SF.  Mike and Sarah too.  If you haven't figured out what End of an Era means yet, you should.  You defintely should by the next chapter.

The Pack still RULES.

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