The Aftermath

Bang.

The six in the tutoring center sat in silent shock as the single gunshot echoed through the hall.

"He's gone Danny. He's gone."

Keith Scott felt as if he had failed. He thought he could save Jimmy. Out of the corner of his eye he saw a small, black object rising slowly to meet him eye to eye. A gun. The same gun that Jimmy had shot himself with only minutes ago. Would Dan really shoot him?

Bang.

Nathan quickly jumped out of his seat. "Oh my God I have to get out there!"

"Dawg are you trippin'? Didn't you just hear those gunshots?" Skills was never one to old back or sugar coat his feelings.

"Yeah but man, Lucas and Peyton are still out there." At the mention of those two names Haley sat straight up.

"What? Nathan…"

Nathan walked over to his wife. Bent down until he was less that 4 inches from her face.

"I'm so sorry Haley! When Luke and I got off the bus my first instinct was to come find you. Luke followed me and tried to make me change my mind, but in the end we both stayed. I came looking for you and Lucas went to look for Peyton."

The fear and desperation scared Haley more than it should have. Tears began to slowly pool in her eyes.

"Oh my god Nathan." She couldn't get her mouth to say what her heart was telling it. "You can't go out there."

Nathan could see the fear in her eyes. He tried to ignore the way it made his heart feel heavy.

"I have to, he's my brother."

Haley couldn't find words strong enough to convince Nathan to stay.

"Yeah but Nathan…"

"Hales, its Lucas. I'm going to go." Nathan got up and retrieved his and Haley's phone. He gently tossed it to her. "Here take your phone. I'll text you if it's clear. If you don't get a text, stay put."

"Nathan…" She had intended that to come out strong and firm, instead she had barely whispered it.

"Haley, I love you. Always and forever, okay? I'll be back. Stay here and be safe. Please. I love you."

He brought his face down level to hers and gave her a kiss that could've paralyzed him, but he knew he had to save Luke and Peyton. He painfully pulled himself away from Haley. He reached across the floor to pick up the aluminum bat he had held tightly in his hand hours earlier.

"I love you, Nathan." Haley had given up on hiding her fear, she let her tears roll down her face freely.

Nathan looked up from the bat. "I love you too babe. I'll be back"

He walked slowly towards the door never dropping eye contact with the woman he loved more than life itself.

"Take care of my girl Skills." He gently taps the lock on the door. "Lock this."

Nathan and Haley share one more glance before the door is shut and locked. Haley collapses into Skills arms, overwhelmed and exhausted from the situation.