Heh. Bet you guys didn't expect this one. I'll be straight with you—fandom is not where my head's been lately. I don't even watch OTH with any sort of regularity anymore and I'm completely obsessed with this original project my friend and I have been working on. But I still do love the OTH characters (how I interpret them, anyway. Which is mangled and angsty.) and I always loved the fandom better than the writers. This chapter is not perfect by any means but I want to start writing again because leaving all of my stories unfinished doesn't do them justice and it's unfair to the readers who stood by me. It's shortchanging everybody involved. This is me getting on the path to making things right.

Pathetically Poetic

Eight: Bleed

Brooke Davis did not believe that the sun rose. She spent enough vacant hours staring at the sky to know that at dawn, a ball of fire did not simply rise and kill the darkness. The sun bled in the morning. It bled through the night and gradually erased it.

Some nights Brooke did not sleep at all. She did not necessarily drink either. She could sit at her window and make her body as numb as her mind and watch the sky until the sun came to spoil a perfectly good darkness. At seven, her alarm clock would go off and she would dutifully ready herself for a day at school. Eyeliner was her war paint, lip gloss her shield.

It was a Tuesday morning and the alarm clock woke Brooke up for the first time in weeks. She was almost surprised to find that she had slept. It was refreshing, she mused, to wake up from sleep instead of mere unconsciousness. She thought that maybe she would curl her hair, but it reminded her too much of her, and opted for stick straight as always. It was so perfect that it almost looked sharp.

The first person she encountered in the hallway was Nathan Scott. Instinct told her to smirk at him in a friendly-but-suggestive fashion, but then she remembered the last time she had spoken to him. Brooke Davis did not blush, but Brooke nearly did. Nathan stared at her cautiously as he passed and she sighed as she pushed him through an open door that led to the library. To watch Nathan Scott pass her as if they had never been friends was brutal. She had already lost so much; she was too sober to watch even the trivial slip away.

"Are you going to hit me?" he asked. She understood why that would be a genuine concern. She knew that everything she had been doing lately would look crazy to someone like him, because Nathan Scott had no idea what it was like to walk around with his failing heart outside of his chest.

"I'm sorry," she huffed, then continued off his confused stare, "for what I said to you the other night."

"Oh, that? I figured you were just wasted."

"Why would you think that?"

"Because you're always wasted," Nate answered, as if it were obvious to everyone except her. As if it was like everything else. It was.

"You know what? I'm not that sorry," Brooke hissed, spinning on her heel with the intention of leaving the room. His large hand on her upper arm stopped her and she winced. Nathan inhaled sharply as he looked at her porcelain skin. She knew what he would find there.

"Who the hell did this to you?" he asked, fingers hovering over the mottled skin. Purple-green bruises had been appearing on her skin. Brooke had no idea how to answer his question—she did not remember where she had acquired them, or who, or how. She did not remember much of the last few weeks. The days all bled together, one giant party and sob and stumble and sunrise.

"No one," Brooke sneered. "I probably just walked into something."

"Probably? You can't remember, can you? Fucking typical, Brooke."

"I brought you in here to apologize for acting like a bitch the other day. Don't make me regret it, Nate."

"I didn't hear an apology. And I don't see my friend Brooke. I see some drunken whore who has no idea what she's doing."

"What the fuck, Nate? Stop being such an asshole. Just say its okay."

"It's not okay, Brooke," Nathan said slowly, his dark head shaking in what she presumed was his newfound sage wisdom. He had been spouting it all over lately. "You shouldn't be wrecking yourself over a guy who didn't love you in the first place."

It was not like being punched in the stomach. The squeeze began in her lungs. Imagining it as a thick red ribbon, it tightened beyond a bow and slowly cut off her air supply. Tears did not spring to her eyes, but slowly became a blinding film. Her throat burned. She thought maybe her heart stopped at his truth but it continued pumping acid.

"I'm sor—"

"Where was all that logic when you were in the hospital a few weeks ago, Natey? Who were the drugs really for? It's an awful lot to do for a guy who didn't love you in the first place," she intoned mockingly, a hard lump of satisfaction spackling the hole in the heart as she watched his eyes go flinty.

"Some apology," he scoffed. "Don't bring my dad into this."

"This is all about your dad," Brooke rolled her eyes and stormed out of the classroom, riding the wave of her indignation. She breezed past Haley James, whose concerned doe eyes attempted to crack her as she paused in her obvious search for her boyfriend. How nice it was that someone could spend their entire life being a heartless jackass and a sweet, naïve tutor could come and fix up their ramshackle soul.

She gave them three months.

Her hands shook as she fumbled for her keys and strutted through the parking lot. Brooke Davis had an excellent game face but she was not in the mood to deal with the pointlessness of her life. The voice in her head that kept her entertained—the one that mocked every component of Tree Hill High—was terribly silent. All she could hear was Nathan Scott.

Drunken whore.

Wrecking yourself.

Didn't love you in the first place.

Lucas Scott's truck was parked exactly four spots to the left and one row behind her VW Bug. The sunlight hit his hair the way it always did and he squinted hopefully in her direction. This was part of the routine, the same old song-and-dance they had fallen into. A sophomore Brooke remembered the face but not the name of stood nervously but curiously by. She stared at her as if nervous of what she would do next and wondering how long it would take to spread the word to all of her friends.

Nathan might have been wrong about Lucas—who could ever be on a guilt trip so thorough they continued to follow around the girl they didn't love for weeks afterward? Who would give up their 'dream girl' for someone they didn't care about at least a little bit?—but he was right about her.

But he wasn't going to be anymore. She threw her car in reverse and didn't look back once. Brooke Davis was not going to bleed anymore.