Author's Note: This is not an illusion, I'm actually updating. So sorry for the wait, but I took a hiatus from this show and everything just because real life needed focus. Anyway, I'm back and trying to write because it is my form of therapy or an outlet.

Now, this isn't very long, but it's intense and I needed to be. Just remember I'm a happily ever after writer. Haley needed this chapter. I hope you guys enjoy it and I have big plans for other stories. I'm taking RA in a whole different direction than I planned and I'm excited for that. Hope you guys will be too.

Love you all and thanks for hanging in there. Oh and this also wasn't beta-ed, but I just really wanted to get it out to you guys, so mind the errors. Sometimes you miss things when you only see what you meant to write. Ha

Chapter Twenty "Let It Die"

A heart of gold
But it lost it's pride
Beautiful veins
And bloodshot eyes
I see your face
In another light

A simple man
And his blushing bride
(Why'd you have to go)
(And let it die)
(Why'd you have to go)
(And let it die)
Hearts gone cold
Your hands were tied
(Why'd you have to go)
(And let it die)

Do you ever think of me
You're so considerate
Did you ever think of me
Oh so considerate

Foo Fighters

Stepping into the kitchen, Nathan was hit with a suffocating rush of tension as soon as he saw his wife furiously scrambling eggs. "Hey,"

Jerking her head around to him, she shot him a glare, though it broke her heart. Her hormones were driving her insane. She needed to be angry with him, had to stand her ground, but the bigger she got the more vulnerable she felt, the more terrified she was of what was to come, of losing him no matter how toxic he was for her.

She'd noticed his shift in moods lately, not to mention the cracks it was causing in their marriage, but damn it, did he know how hard this was on her too? Did he know how she struggled to keep a smile on her face and to see the positive in all this?

"What do you want?' She faced the obviously well blended eggs once more, pouring them into the pan, the sizzle from the impact emphasizing Nathan's pregnant pause.

Stepping closer, Nathan still kept his distance. "I'm sorry I missed the ultrasound."

"Whatever." Haley continued stirring the eggs, the consistency becoming fluffy, mocking the moment.

"Damn it, Haley. Will you yell or something? This ignoring me and my screw ups isn't fucking helping."

She laughed and turned off the stove, "Isn't helping YOU feel better right? Because if I yell or scream then you'll feel like you've been punished and can move on to pull your next stunt. Well, you know what Nathan, I'm tired of your apologies, and I'm tired of your Jekyll and Hyde complex."

He sighed and reached out to touch her shoulder, to which she flinched, making his heart the one to break now. "Haley…I've just been going through a lot and basketball…"

"Are you ready to talk, to stop with the excuses, and tell me what's going on?" She interrupted.

"That's what I'm doing. Trying to balance everything has just been harder for me than I thought it would be, that's all."

Grabbing three plates, Haley divided the eggs, "No that's not all. The Nathan I married would never have missed our appointment yesterday and the Nathan I married wouldn't sneak out of our bed every night the last couple weeks to pass out on the couch, but you know who would?" Shoving a plate at him, she gave him a look a disgust, "The Nathan that fucked me and told me not to go cry to Lucas, the one that treated me like a piece of ass for months because he couldn't get a handle on what he felt for me. But maybe that is the one I married come to think of it and the version when I woke up in the hospital was some act you should get an Oscar for."

Slamming the untouched plate in the sink, Nathan grabbed her by the shoulders, his own anger flaring. "That's bullshit and you know it. I love you. Don't for a second question that. And by the way, you weren't Miss fucking perfect either when I met you."

She moved away.

"No, I wasn't, but ever since I married you and found out about being pregnant I've fought to get through each day, to put a god damn smile on your somber face since we found out there were two. Sure, you had a couple good days here and there but for the most part, I feel like I'm in this alone. Do you know how hard this is on me? I'm the one carrying them, I'm the one that has to give birth, breast feed, take the brunt of it all, while you throw a ball through a hoop!"

"You think I don't know that? Fuck, Haley, I know what I've done to you and it kills me."

Feeling sick, Haley sat her own plate down verses nearly breaking it in the sink like her counterpart. "That's the problem, Nathan. Even with all the stress and worry I have, I feel so immensely blessed and wouldn't change my life for anything."

She took a breath, tears brimming in her eyes. "Granted, this wasn't what I would have ever planned, but everyday when I feel these two move inside me or catch a glimpse of my stomach in the mirror, everything else disappears, but you…you look at me like you gave me AIDS or something. Like having these children equals a death sentence. You can't even stand to be around me anymore."

His face softened, "It's not like that. I want them and I want you, always. It's just…"

"It's just what?"

He didn't want to hurt her, but at the moment he couldn't control what he was feeling either. "I think maybe we rushed into all this…it's just a lot to take on for me and especially you."

The moment he said it was the moment everything changed, the moment nothing could be taken back with a few sweet words or edible treats. The room before had been merely brimming with the anticipation of words left unspoken, leaving only thoughts of the damage that could have been, but now the line had been crossed, the words anything but unspoken and all that was in it's wake was gut wrenching agony for both parties.

If he had shot her, she would have been less shocked and more importantly less scarred. Her mouth fell open and her body grew heated while at the same time her heart felt utterly defeated. "A little late for that now." She whispered, grasping her stomach.

Guilt flew at him, "I didn't mean it the way it sounds."

Her voice was still feather soft, "You couldn't have meant that any other way."

"Hey guys." Lucas strutted into the kitchen, kissing Haley on the cheek and patting her expanding belly, oblivious to the storm brewing within the house, not that he hadn't noticed the dark clouds manifesting for the last few weeks.

Nathan voice went hard, previous guilt put to the side. "Look who it is, Daddy Lucas."

"Oh give it a rest, Nate," Lucas drawled out while grabbing the orange juice out of the fridge.

Haley winced at him drinking it out of the carton, but focused on pressing matters, "At least he's there." She threw her husband a look. Husband, that word had lately left her feeling disgusted at its mention.

Giving her a sickening smirk, he glanced between the two of them," At least I know he can't knock you up...for another three months that is."

Running her hands over her stomach, Haley fought to contain her tears. She couldn't let him win. she couldn't' lose it, like always of late, she had to hold it together. It wasn't about her anymore, it was about her children, and she would do whatever it took to protect them from any harm, especially from their father. "I'm late for class."

Reaching out, Nathan took her arm, the severity of his statements sinking further in. "Haley..." He'd never had censor on his mouth, always lash out first, regret later and right now the severity of that weakness was facing him dead on.

Plastering a smile on her face, she turned unconvincing eyes on him, "I'm fine, I'm just late for class."

Both brothers watched after her worriedly.

"You're an asshole." Lucas spat and finally went after her when it was obvious Nathan wasn't moving.

The door swung open before he reached it, Peyton nearly colliding with him, "Whoa, Lucas, what's with you and prego Scott trying to run me down?"

Pausing, Lucas simply glared in his brother's direction before brushing his lips across Peyton's cheek and racing to his Yukon where he knew Haley was waiting probably on Nathan, but not counting on it.

Closing the door, Peyton sighed, "I really thought you'd get over this."

"Get over what? Lucas manhandling my wife every chance he gets?"

Laughter immediately erupted from Peyton and before long she was wiping tears from her eyes, "You are truly losing it." a few more giggles escaped and she finally calmed down enough to talk, "Putting whatever Lucas and I are starting or experimenting with aside, they're Lucas and Haley. They are closer than siblings, yet still keep the—disgusted reaction of every being together sibling thing—to their bond. They've always been affectionate, hugging, sharing a bed, kissing hello/goodbye, but that's it."

"He's always rubbing her stomach!"

Peyton gave him a look, "And?"

"And what? That's not normal."

This time she rolled her eyes, "I rub her belly, and strangers rub her belly, which to me is the more disturbing thing, but whatever. He's their uncle. He loves those babies and should. And you should be damn grateful he's picking up your pathetic ass' slack."

Crossing his arms, he sat on a stool, "You don't get it Peyton."

"I don't get it? I lost a mother too, Nathan and I lost Jake. I know what you're doing. Pulling away because you're scared of losing her. The whole 'People Always Leave' mantra you and I adopted in high school. But you know what, keeping that mentality is going to be the reason why people always do leave and when they do you won't be able to blame God or fate—only yourself."

Walking into class, Haley wanted to groan out loud at the lack of seating available. Brooke and her sorority minions were in the back, heads together with the latest gossip and as if they could sense fresh meat their heads all turned toward her or more importantly her ever growing bump as she struggled in between rows to get to a seat.

She was used to their anything but sincere smiles and the outright judgment in their eyes. When she'd married Nathan they all, save Brooke, envied her, now they acted as if she had trapped him and that he was the poor victim stuck with her.

Her due date couldn't come fast enough, for the simple fact she would be able to prove when these babies were conceived. Still, the double standard enraged her. That Nathan was thought of as the poor innocent boy who she obviously held a gun to his head to have sex with her.

Granted she was poor now, but she had just enough if not more than Nathan's family when they met. His future NBA earnings would merely compete with what would have been her trust and yet she was the gold-digger in their eyes.

Through out class, she struggled to hold it together, but her conversation with Nathan and his indifference lately steadily ate away at her. Tears continuously pooled in her eyes, but each time she blinked them away.

When Brooke walked past her at the end, with nothing but a haughty look towards her, that was it. She ran, as quickly as she could manage in her state, to the parking lot. Trying to open Lucas' door, she screamed out when she discovered its locked state and collapsed by the passenger side, the tears exploding from her eyes.

She felt arms around her and turned to sob into the illusion of their comfort, for while she knew they held nothing except support, it only made her feel more empty knowing they weren't the arms she truly wanted.

"Shh." Peyton soothed. "It's gonna work out, Hales, I know it will."

Gasping for breath, Haley pulled back, "No, it won't. He doesn't want this anymore, Peyton."

"Yes, he does, he's just…"

"He's just WHAT? GOD!" Another gasp for breath "I can't do this anymore." The last part she barely said above a whisper, the reality of her words cutting like a knife through what was left of her heart, a heart she wished wasn't even there.

She'd heard stories of people dying from heartbreak, the depression, and the loss so enormous their bodies saw it as a disease and lost the battle. At this point, she understood that all too well and even with her children inside her, a part of her ached for that sweet release of death, of never having to feel an ounce of pain again from imagining a future without Nathan in it.

It was selfish, she knew that. She was a mother now, she was supposed to be strong and had been for months, but God she was still eighteen and heartbreak at eighteen, well at any age can seem like the end of the world, even if it's for a day, a week, a month, a year. There is no timetable for the grief of someone breaking your heart or spirit and even the mightiest of us fall when it hits.

Peyton swallowed the lump in her throat, "What can I do?"

The dark blonde simply began to cry harder and sink back into her friend's arms. She had no answers, only gut wrenching anguish taking hold of every ounce of her body, mind, and soul at the one thought running through her mind.

She had to let him go because he was obviously letting go of her.