Only in the News
I do not own One Tree Hill or anything related to it.
Story notes and warnings: In case you missed it in the summary, this is a fiction about a school shooting. This is a sensitive topic in which I obviously do not have a personal experience in, so if some parts seem unbelievable, I apologize. My knowledge simply comes from articles and books I have read, and I'm trying to remain as true to the characters as possible in writing their actions and reactions to what occurs in this story. There will be a character death in this story, a couple actually. One of them is a major character, and this will probably occur within the first few chapters.
"It happened really fast," a tear-streaked blonde girl Nathan recognized from his chemistry class said to the news reporter. "I didn't even have a chance to catch my breath and realize what was going on before it was over." In the background, there were still people milling about, parents fretting over sons or daughters, or parents still looking for children that would never be found.
He clicked off the television, shaking his head. Maybe for some people it had gone by fast. Maybe for those people who had found an escape early, before most, if not all, of the exits had been blocked off. Maybe for those people who had been shot early, killed before they even had a chance to run.
But for Nathan, it hadn't been fast. Granted, some parts went by quicker than others, but for the most part it had been a long, slow, terrifying process. The day had felt as if it had been stretched into years, maybe longer. What came after years? Decades? It could have been a decade.
The morning had started out normal enough. Just like always, he awoke to the sound of his shrill alarm clock...
"Holy shit," Nathan groaned, flopping over on his side to turn off the damned clock. Not long ago, his mother would have come in to shake him awake. But now, he was on his own, just recently emancipated.
From somewhere beneath his bed, his cell phone began to ring. Nathan scowled and dropped to his hands and knees to search for it. The ring was long and annoying. He really needed to get a new ring tone. Finally he found it, stuffed in the pocket of his Varsity jacket.
"Hello?" he said grumpily.
A voice laughed on the other end. "Just your morning wake-up call in case you slept through your alarm clock again," the person said cheerfully.
Nathan's features softened. It was Haley. "Thanks, Hales," he said, his tone considerably lighter. "I think Mr. Jones would have killed me if I missed his class again."
"I know," Haley said. "I'm in your class, remember? Anyway, I think I would have killed you if you missed his class again. I need my lab partner."
"Like you have a problem getting a partner," Nathan scoffed. "I bet all the guys jump for the chance to be paired up with you."
"Oh, they do," Haley teased, "but you're my favorite one."
"Damn straight," Nathan said.
Haley hesitated and then added laughingly, "Besides, you're the only one who's so scared of me that you'll actually do most of the work."
"Hey!" Nathan protested. "I am not!"
"Really?" Haley challenged.
They both laughed simultaneously. "Well, I let you go," Haley said. "You probably haven't even gotten dressed yet."
"You like that idea, don't you?" Nathan smirked.
Haley laughed again. "Dream on. Anyway, we should seriously hang up. See ya, Nate."
"Love you, Hales."
"Love you too."
Nathan hung up the phone, a smile on his face. Then he glanced at the clock.
Peyton and Brooke were in similar disarray, having slept in late after an impromptu decision to have a sleepover.
"You seen my shoe, Peyton?" Brooke demanded, tearing through her overnight bag.
"Nope," Peyton said. She was digging through her drawers with a similar fervor. Abruptly, the flying clothes stopped as she pulled something out with a triumphant "Aha!"
Brooke stopped her search too. "My shoe?" she said hopefully.
"No," Peyton smirked. "My shirt."
Brooke scowled. She studied the shirt Peyton was holding disdainfully. Yet another concert t-shirt, with yet another name of a band Brooke had never heard of splashed across the center. This one was a lighter than usual, Brooke noted, colored in green and yellow instead of the usual black.
"You'd have been better off if that shirt had just stayed lost," Brooke muttered grumpily.
Peyton just grinned sweetly. She knew better than to take Brooke too seriously this early in the morning. Especially when she was missing her shoes, which, surprisingly, happened a lot. Brooke tended to kick off her shoes and just hang out barefoot in the most random places.
"Where do you remember seeing it last?" Peyton questioned.
"If I knew the answer to that, then I'd be walking around in both my shoes right now, wouldn't I?" Brooke retorted. "Don't ask stupid questions, P. Sawyer."
Peyton huffed, vaguely annoyed. "You want my help or not?" she demanded.
"Only if it doesn't involve pointless questions that waste valuable shoe-searching time," Brooke answered. She stuck out her tongue playfully.
Peyton rolled her eyes. "You're impossible," she grumbled but crawled over to help Brooke search for her missing shoe all the same.
Brooke smirked and tilted her head slightly. "You know you love me." Suddenly, something black poking out from underneath her bag caught her eye. She reached over and tugged it out. "Well, what do ya know?" she giggled. It was her shoe.
Peyton just shook her head at first, but Brooke's laugh was infectious. "You're such a flake," Peyton protested before succumbing to her own laughter as well.
Lucas sat down at the table inside his small kitchen, on time, for once.
"What a pleasant surprise," his mom joked when she noticed him. "You'll actually be able to eat breakfast while it's still warm.
Lucas grinned back, "You mean you don't just grab it out of the fridge everyday?"
"I might as well," Karen said, "By the time you get around to eating it, it's probably halfway frozen."
"More than halfway," Lucas grumbled. He brightened when the aroma of his mom's cooking reached him. He sniffed the air curiously. "What are you cooking anyway?"
"Blueberry pancakes and bacon," Karen said proudly.
"Just a regular meal, huh?" Lucas raised a brow questioningly. His mom had entered some sort of international phase where Lucas couldn't even recognize, or pronounce for that matter, the things she cooked. He hadn't had plain old American food in a while.
"With a Thai twist," she admitted.
Lucas winced jokingly. "In that case, I'll just grab a frozen waffle," he teased.
"Oh, you," Karen scolded. "You'll like it."
Lucas smiled and walked over to wrap his arms around his mother in a bear-hug. "I know I will. Thanks, Mom."
A soft smile worked its way across Karen's face. "More than welcome," she said. She gave the pancake one last flip before trying to shrug away from his grasp. "Now go sit down. Breakfast is ready."
Nathan just barely managed to skid into his classroom before the bell rang. He glanced over at Mr. Jones, who had a scowl written all over his face. Nathan smirked back. He had gotten there just in time; Mr. Jones wouldn't be able to write him up or anything.
Haley knocked him in the shoulder playfully as he slid in the seat beside her. "I almost started to think you wouldn't make it again."
"Like I'd miss a date with my favorite lab partner," he grinned.
"Such a charmer," Haley rolled her eyes.
"Always," Nathan said cockily.
It was pretty close to being a moment between them, but some kid that sat behind them interrupted by tapping Nathan on the shoulder. "Could I borrow a pencil?" he asked.
Nathan shrugged. "Sorry, man, I don't have an extra one."
The boy bristled as if Nathan had offended him somehow. "Fine," he said coldly. "That's just fine."
Nathan and Haley exchanged alarmed glances. What was his problem?
Lucas sat silently in his second period, hyper-aware of Peyton's presence beside him. He didn't know why he tortured himself like this. It was always Peyton or Brooke, Brooke or Peyton, and it always got him into trouble. Without fail. He always messed up when it came to those two.
He snuck another furtive glance over at her, this time less successful than the last. Peyton turned and looked straight at him before he could avert his eyes, and she looked fairly annoyed. "What the hell is your problem?" she mouthed before turning in her seat to resume taking notes from the board.
Lucas sighed and raked a hand through his hair. It was starting to look like he would never get back into good graces with either of the two friends. Not that he didn't deserve the ice treatment—he had screwed things up pretty bad between the three of them. He was just lucky, and glad, that Peyton and Brooke were patching things up between themselves. He hated being the cause of the break up of two close friends.
Unbidden, his eyes traveled over to Peyton's legs, stretching out endlessly from beneath her cheerleading skirt. Nobody had legs like Peyton. Not even Brooke, although hers came in close second. Hers just got more attention because she showed them off more. Peyton wasn't usually very showy when it came to her body.
A disgruntled tap of a pen brought Lucas to his senses. He looked up to see Peyton glaring murderously at him, having caught him for the second time. Guiltily, he shifted his gaze to the board.
If he kept this up, he was going to get himself killed.
Nathan walked out of his second period, looking forward to lunch very much indeed as his stomach rumbled mutinously. Besides the brief exchange with the angry pencil kid, his morning had gone pretty much without hitch, and it looked like he would have a pretty boring afternoon to look forward to. It seemed that nothing of any interest had happened lately to discuss, probably a first for Tree Hill.
He stopped at his locker to drop off his books and continued on to the lunchroom. He was almost there when Brooke ran into him head-on.
"Damn it!" she swore as all her books fell to the ground.
"Jesus Christ, I'm sorry," Nathan said. He bent down to help gather her books.
"You know these things right underneath your forehead?" Brooke demanded, hands on her hips, "They're called eyes. Sometimes people use them to watch where they're going."
Nathan cocked a brow as he stood up and handed her the textbooks. "Then maybe you should start," he smirked, ruffling her hair as he brushed past.
Unbidden, a small smile came to Brooke's face, and she scampered after him. "And here I thought you were just a whipped little puppy," she drawled. "Didn't know you still had those remarks in you, Nate."
Nathan shrugged and shifted the weight of his books from one arm to another. "Didn't know you became such an easy target," he teased.
Brooke winced mockingly. "Ouch. This little puppy has a bite to him."
"You wanna see what else I can bite?" Nathan waggled his eyebrows suggestively.
Laughing, Brooke pushed him away. "Down, boy. Save those lines for your girlfriend."
"Trust me," a wry voice said behind them, "I wouldn't buy them either."
"Tutor girl!" Brooke squealed, and Nathan groaned.
"You flirting behind my back, Nate?" Haley asked sweetly.
"Never," Nathan claimed and enveloped her in a hug.
"Yeah," Brooke smirked. "If anything, he tries to make girls like him less by using those lines. You should feel pretty secure about your relationship right now."
"Oh, I do," Haley said seriously, giving Nathan a peck on the lips before breaking away from his grasp. "This puppy wouldn't dare cheat on me."
"What is it with the puppy thing?" Nathan protested. "It's not like I do everything you say."
"Kiss," Haley demanded.
Nathan paused. "Except that," he admitted with a laugh, leaning over to give her another peck.
"So you want to eat lunch with us, Brooke?" Haley offered as they entered the cafeteria.
"Would, but can't," Brooke said. "We're working out a new routine for tonight's game," she explained, waving vaguely over at a table of giggling cheerleaders. They looked over at the table and laughed. Peyton was in the midst of all the gossiping cheerleaders, looking very mutinous indeed.
"I better go before Peyton starts throwing things," Brooke joked. "Bevin's hair still hasn't lost all the green in it from the Jell-O last time."
Nathan and Haley nodded and smiled as Brooke hurried off to the table, immediately making herself the center of attention. Haley shook her head. "She's crazy."
"I can be pretty crazy too in certain places," Nathan murmured in her ear.
"What is it with you?" Haley giggled as she swatted him away. "You've got a one-track mind."
"Must be the vitamins," Nathan whispered. "I remember to take all of them today."
Haley rolled her eyes. "You're a bad influence."
"Pretty soon, I'll have you skipping school," Nathan teased, "I know how to sneak out of anywhere."
"Too bad that kid's blocking the doorway," Haley said dryly.
Nathan glanced at the exit with a disinterested expression, noting the guy Haley was talking about. Some kid from his Algebra class, a really smart, snotty kid who always knew all the answers. He kind of kept to himself.
Obviously, Nathan thought. I mean, the kid's eating lunch standing in front of a door for Christ's sake. You think he'd at least try to make a few friends.
The guy's eyes kept darting around suspiciously as if he was wary of everybody. Nathan shook his head. Some people were just too strange.
"Come on, let's go get lunch," Haley tugged on his arm, snapping away Nathan's attention from the weird kid. "I hear they replaced Fried Fridays with something else. Apparently, too many parents were complaining about all the grease stains."
"Good," Nathan grumbled. "You know how hard it is to play basketball after eating that chicken? Talk about sick. Those things make you feel so gassy."
Haley made a face. "Thanks for sharing."
Nathan shrugged. "Just thought I'd let you know."
They began walking, considerably less eager to the lunch line. "I think I've lost all will to eat..." Haley broke off mid-whine, when a girl's scream interrupted her.
"What?" Haley and Nathan spun around, shocked to see the kid from the doorway, pulling the trigger, facing directly towards them.
The shot went off before they even had a chance to duck. Luckily, the shot was wide, a little to the left. It left a bullet hole right through somebody's soda.
"Run!" Nathan yelled. He tugged Haley hard along behind him, a death grip on her hand. It was practically a stampede out to the cafeteria as gunshots rang behind them.
Lucas struggled to regain his bearings in all the confusion. He was sitting near the back of the cafeteria, making him an easy target for the gunman running behind them. Gotta get ahead, he thought, I have to run faster.
Easy to say, not so easy to do. Even if he could have pushed his legs any faster, a wall of people blocked his way. When Lucas finally saw an opening between two of them, he jumped on it, skirting around fellow classmates to put more distance between himself and his classmates. He was almost to the front when a panting voice beside him distracted him.
"Should've took those wind sprints Coach made us do more seriously," Tim gasped.
Lucas nodded. He couldn't waste his energy speaking. He was about to tell Tim to do the same, when the gun went off again. Lucas paused, shocked.
He and Tim had never been good friends, but that didn't mean Lucas wasn't horrified as he saw the bullet blast through the back of Tim's head. Lucas watched as for one surreal second, Tim just stopped, mid-stride, eyes open wide, before he fell. He was dead before he hit the ground.
A tear slid down Lucas's cheek before he resumed running again. He had just whispered a quick prayer when he noticed Nathan and Haley not far ahead of him. He hurried to catch up.
"Oh my God," Haley shrieked. "Tim!"
Nathan felt his blood run cold as he glanced over to the spot where Haley's eyes were transfixed.
It was Tim, all right. His best friend Tim, kind of lame but a good guy all the same, lying on the ground motionlessly. A bullet had been shot straight through the back of his head. Nathan moved to go over to him, to do...well, he wasn't sure. Anything. His friend was in trouble...
A strong hand clasped itself around Nathan's wrist and dragged him away before he could protest. Nathan's gaze shot up to see Lucas and Haley, side by side a few paces ahead of him, dragging him along. "Tim," he said blankly.
Lucas shook his head. His eyes looked pained. "There's nothing you can do for him, man. You'll only get yourself killed too."
His words were blunt, but they brought Nathan back to reality. The basic human instinct of survival overtook him. Tim was dead, and as much as Nathan wanted to go back to him, he couldn't. He had to worry about other people now. There would be time for remorse later. If he got out alive.
Peyton and Brooke and the rest of the cheerleaders led the throng of students racing through the hallways. They had had the good fortune to be sitting at the table next to the door. Brooke stuck next the Peyton like glue as they navigated the hallways, heading for the front door.
"I have a bad feeling about this, Peyton," Brooke said suddenly.
"What do you mean?" Peyton asked.
"Running right to the front door...it just seems too easy," Brooke said.
Peyton shook her head. "You watch too many movies, Brooke. How many people do you actually think would be involved in this anyway?"
"It's too easy," Brooke insisted. She stopped running abruptly, latching her hand around Peyton's wrist. "I don't like it."
"What do you think you're doing, Brooke?" Peyton raged as Brooke pulled them to a side hallway. "We have to get out of here!"
They were just around the corner from the front door...
Brooke put her index finger to her lips to shush her friend. Maybe she was being stubborn and irrational, which wasn't a new concept for her, but she genuinely feared what may await them if they continued on towards the front door. She was the type of person that believed strongly in karma, and feelings and all that, and despite how much it annoyed her friends, she rarely listened to anything but her own intuition. Even if it often led her to trouble.
Peyton was about to insist that they stop being so silly and join the people who had probably reached the safety of the outdoors when a group of collective screams and gunshots met her ears. She bit her lip and looked down at Brooke, horror-struck. The screams were coming from just around the corner, right where the front door would be.
Brooke's eyes darkened, and she turned away, facing the expanse of the hall before them. "Come on, we have to find somewhere to hide."
Author's Note: Well, that's it for chapter one. Look out for chapter two, which should be coming out pretty soon since I'm over halfway done writing it. Please tell me what you think in a review!