Author's Notes: I must warn you that this story is about a school shooting. That's why this is rated R. That does mean there will be character deaths. There will be nothing overly graphic but please be aware. Secondly, this story is heavily about the relationship between Lucas and Nathan. It's what I find most interesting about the show. All the other characters are in it, and there will be things with them, so don't worry if you wanted to see anything about another character. The show's given me plenty to work with.

Disclaimer: I do not own any of these characters, the fictional town of Tree Hill, etc. No money was made, etc.

Chapter One

The early spring morning looked promising. There were no clouds to blemish the bright sky as the sun began to peak over the horizon, with colors of purple and red dancing around it. The sound of the early birds chirping were a reminder that spring had come at last. The grass, trees, and bushes all boasted their natural shades of green as if winter had never been a problem.

The smell of bacon drifted past Lucas Scott's nose, pulling him from his deep sleep. With a disgruntled moan, the blond rolled over and looked at his alarm clock, which read 5:56. Four minutes until his alarm clock was set to go off. He reached over sleepily and turned it off, slowly rose from his bed and rubbed the sleep out of his eyes.

As his mind cleared up, Lucas yawned. Like most sixteen-year-old boys, he liked to sleep in, but he didn't usually have trouble getting up early. Right now, however, all he wanted to do was lie down and go back to sleep. He'd gone to bed early the night before because of a headache, so he decided he probably had just gotten too much sleep. He gave his bedraggled hair no attention before he left his bedroom, walking towards the small kitchen in his mother's house.

Karen Roe was turning over six strips of bacon from the pan, and when she saw her teenaged son enter she looked up and smiled at him. "Good morning," she greeted warmly. "Great timing, the scrambled eggs are ready, and I'm almost done with the bacon. Would you toast the bread for me?"

Mumbling something incoherent but not disagreeable, Lucas grabbed the loaf of bread from the tiny pantry and put two pieces into the toaster. By the time they came back up, brown and crisp, Karen had the eggs and bacon on the table, divided onto two plates, one for each of them.

He handed her a piece of toast with a smile as he sat down and began to butter his own. This routine was a typical morning for them and he enjoyed it. He was one of the few teenagers who had a close friend in his mom, and despite her motherly ways he liked being in her company. Breakfast was one of his favorite parts of the day.

"Do you have any big plans for the day?" Karen asked, starting up their normal conversation.

"No, not really. I have physically therapy after school. My therapist thinks I'll be able to play in a month or so, just in time for the playoffs."

"That's great honey!" Karen exclaimed, placing a hand on her son's arm.

"Well, whether or not I'll be as good as I used to be remains to be seen."

"Lucas, don't think like that. Your recovery has been going really well."

"Yeah, I know. Think positive. Attitude is everything," Lucas said with a heavy sigh. He had heard these words more often than he could count since starting physical therapy.

Lucas had been in a car accident nearly five weeks before, which had caused his shoulder to separate. He had also suffered some internal injuries, resulting in a splenectomy. The only long-term affects had been to his shoulder, but there was still hope for a full recovery.

"So, uh… Keith is coming over for dinner tonight, right?" Lucas asked timidly, knowing the subject of his uncle was still touchy for his mom.

"It's only dinner," Karen retorted sharply. "He won't let me pay him back for your medical bills. Dinner was the least I could do, especially since he had to sell his garage to Dan."

"So you invited him for dinner? Are you sure it's not more than that?" Lucas asked hopefully. Keith Scott had always been like a father to him, in the absence of Lucas' real father, Keith's brother Dan.

"We're getting to be friends again," Karen said slowly, giving her son a look to let him know the subject was closed.

Keith had been driving the car the night of the accident. When Karen found out he had been drinking beforehand, their entire relationship was put on the brakes. She hadn't even spoken to him since, except to return his things he had at the house and to promise to pay him back for Lucas' medical expenses, which he had refused to let her do.

At quarter to seven, Lucas was ready for school. Grabbing an apple from the fruit basket on the counter, he kissed his mom on the cheek. "Bye."

She frowned. "You feel a little warm, you're not coming down with something are you?"

"No, I'm not. I'm fine. I promise."

"All right. Have a good day. Make sure to be home for dinner."

"You know I will," he grinned at her before closing the door behind him. Karen sighed, frowning slightly. She knew he was expecting more from her and Keith than they could give him. She hoped he would realize that and not let whatever might happen that night hurt him.

*****

"You have practice after school today," Dan Scott informed his son Nathan over the phone.

"I know that Dad. You don't have to remind me of my basketball schedule," Nathan replied through gritted teeth, not bothering to restrain from rolling his eyes as his father was not in the room.

"Lucas is going to be back on the team soon, son. Are you prepared for him?"

"Dad, he's recovering from a pretty serious shoulder injury," Nathan replied, his nerves grated almost to their extent. "He won't be at the top of his game right away."

"I'm just making sure," Dan said. "You know I'm just concerned. How are you handling living on your own?"

"Dad, I'm fine. I mean, money's tight, but I have that construction job and they're really flexible about school and basketball. When summer comes I'll be able to work more and things will be fine."

"And you have enough time for homework?"

"Since when have you cared if I did my homework or not?"

There was a pause. "Nathan, I know I haven't been the best father, but I am trying to make up for that. I care about you, that's all. I want to make sure that things are really okay. You're not just saying they are?"

"No, Dad, they're really fine."

"If you needed help you know you could come to me, right? I've always been there for you."

"Have you? I mean, have you really been there for me? Your primary concern with me my entire life has been revolved around sports. Today marks the first day you've expressed true concern about my homework, or about how I'm handling things. And you know what else, Dad? I'm only a sophomore in high school. I have two more years on the team before I go to college. Oh, and Lucas isn't my competition. He's my teammate."

As usual, Dan began his tirade of defenses for himself, sounding like the arrogant and self-assured man that he was. Nathan cut him off to tell him he had to go and quickly hung up.

He cradled the phone and turned back to his breakfast, a bowl of Golden Grahams that were quickly going soggy. His father had called him after the third bite. Grumbling about how his father was always messing things up, Nathan hastily finished his breakfast.

Even though he was only sixteen years old, Nathan was renting his own apartment, not living with his mother or his father. Dan and Deb Scott's divorce was taking an ugly turn with Nathan right in the middle. He was tired of being used by one parent to hurt the other so he had removed himself from the situation and gotten himself emancipated from both of them.

The apartment was small, especially for Nathan who had grown up in one of the largest houses in Tree Hill. The living room of the apartment wasn't even the full size of his old bedroom. He was slowly adjusting, however. He had gotten one of the cheapest deals he could get in a nice complex, but as he had told his dad, money was still tight. He was thankful now for the car Dan had given him as a gift, because he only had to worry about paying the gas and insurance on it.

Since he'd moved out of Dan's beach house, where he'd lived for a record three weeks, Nathan hadn't talked much to either of his parents. Dan had called him this morning to tell him that the divorce was now final. Even though Nathan hadn't kept his promise to live with Dan, his father had kept his promise in giving Deb an easy divorce. However, it did not change the fact that Nathan did not have a good relationship with either of his parents.

The fight for custody over Nathan had gotten to its worst when Dan revealed that there were things about Deb that would come out should their be a custody battle. Deb refused to tell Nathan what they were, so Nathan moved in with Dan to protect his mom. He was angry with Dan for what his girlfriend Haley had called "emotional blackmail." Truthfully, Nathan was also mad at his mom for giving Dan the power to do that. But Deb always gave power to Dan. It was how their relationship had worked.

She had given him all the power over Nathan's life by making sure she was away on a business trip for half of the time. Only recently had Nathan realized why, and it was the same reason that Dan had used against her to get Nathan to live with him: one summer she'd left Dan for another man. Meaning she had left Nathan too. The only reason she came back was so that she wouldn't risk losing her son, which was a little ironic because the moment Nathan found out about it, she'd lost him.

Casting thoughts of his parents out of his head, Nathan decided that today was supposed to be a good day. He would not let them ruin his mood. Besides, he was much too busy these days to let them get in his way. He had practice three days a week and he worked the other four, not to mention that he had school five days and finals would be coming up in less than three months. Haley helping him study was the only reason he wasn't going completely under in school. People always said that springtime was the busiest, most stressful time of year and Nathan was feeling that to its core.

But for the time being, he would push his worries away and enjoy himself. Life was too short to live it any other way.

*****

Haley James was the youngest child in a large family, and while she loved them all, sometimes she wished for a small family. It was easy to get lost in the midst of so many people, especially when they were all gathered together eating a meal. On this particular day at breakfast, Haley really wished that she was an only child.

Two of her older brothers had stopped by for breakfast before work, a monthly ritual she was usually glad for. But today, her older sister had come by as well. Haley did not get along well with Kristin, for reasons she still didn't quite understand. The two had never gotten along. The two looked so much alike that a few people mistook them for twins, even though Kristin was six years older than Haley and the two did not look exactly alike. Kristin was a snobby girl in her early twenties who believed she was better than most people in the world.

She didn't get along very well with David either, who was four years older than her and the closest to her age. He had bleached blond hair and dressed like a punk, which didn't bother Haley, but he had an attitude to go with his clothing style. He sneered at everything she said or did. He hated Nathan even though he hadn't bothered to get to know him.

The only two of her siblings that she got along with were Jeffrey and Michelle. Michelle was the oldest at twenty-four, a full eight years older than Haley. She was married and lived in Missouri, so she and Haley didn't talk that much. But when they did they always had a lot of fun. Michelle was very laid back and easy going, and that made her easy to talk to.

Jeffrey James was five years older than her, making him 21. He was incredibly protective over Haley but he'd gone out of his way to make time to get to know Nathan. He was the one who had given Nathan a job with the construction company. It was a little scary that the two worked together, but Haley knew that Jeff was looking out for Nathan so she felt a bit better about it. Jeff had always been collected and mature, and she greatly admired him for it.

At breakfast, however, Jeffrey and David were arguing like little boys. David even had his fist up and ready for action. They'd started arguing before Haley was even out of bed, so she never caught on to just what the fight was about. Instead she ignored it and tried to have a conversation with her mom, but Kristin swooped in and immediately started discussing the dynamics of manicures, effectively distracting their mother.

Finally Haley gave up. Without a word of good-bye to anyone, Haley grabbed her backpack and headed out the door. If Lucas made a comment to her at school about smoke coming out of her ears, she would punch him.

TBC