Disclaimer: I own absolutely nothing that you recognize.

Summary: Everything changed the day he made the Ravens Varsity squad. Now an unlikely friend helps guide him through the new world he's entered, complete with fights, lots of alcohol and a legendary hazing that no one talks aboutMajor Brucas! Some LP mentioned but nothing graphic as well as some NP.


Chapter 1 - Into the Fire

Come on, come on

Put your hands into the fire

Explain, explain

As I turn and meet the power

This time, this time

Turning white and senses dire

Pull up, pull up

From one extreme to another

The first time Lucas Scott walked through the halls of Tree Hill High had been two years before. His best friend, Haley James had stood by his side, watching as students walked past in their effort to find either a locker or the first class on their schedule. But after a few uncertain glances exchanged, the two put one foot in front of the other and became no exception. Each easily blended in with all the other incoming freshman who had no clue where they were headed or what lay ahead of them.

His brother Nathan, on the other hand, was truly hard to miss.

Overly confident by nature, the tall and dark haired boy could back up whatever claims he made on the basketball court. A natural by most people's standards, there wasn't anyone on the school's team that was better than the youngest Scott. That was of course… except for his brother, Lucas. Yet Lucas didn't play for the Ravens. He didn't show anyone the talent he possessed, save for five friends he spent time with down at Tree Hill's Rivercourt. An out of the way slab of concrete with rusted metal hoops and a row of weather worn wooden benches.

It was there, in obscurity, that Lucas Scott played the game he had grown up loving. There he felt no pressure to be the best, though he undoubtedly was. There he was free to enjoy it all, laughing and talking amongst the other misfits in his year. Boys who were neither popular nor outcasts. Friends who simply preferred to spend time with each other rather than vying for the attention of some popular clique member that would smile one day and laugh at their face the next.

Only Lucas couldn't quite stay put in the caste he'd been placed in. A crush on a popular curly haired blonde cheerleader ensured that he would never be entirely satisfied with the life he led. Yet he knew he could never have her. She was his brother's girl and interfering with it would be inviting trouble he didn't need or want.

"She loves him, you know," Brooke Davis had once said. As the captain of the cheer squad, and a beautiful girl in her own right, she was also known as the most popular of them all. A snap of her fingers would ensure that at least ten guys would be gathered around her, waiting for whatever instruction she handed out. A fact that he'd rarely ever seen her exploit, despite the myriad of unfavorable rumors circling around school about her since she first walked through the doors two years before. "They have their song and dance down. Break up, make up and then do it all over again. But at the end of the day, no matter what he's said or done… she still loves him."

That had been four months before at an end of school party hosted by his brother's side-kick, the foot in mouth king himself, Tim.

After that night it had taken several weeks before Lucas got the opportunity to ask the queen bee what her comment had been all about. But the answer she gave him had not been what he expected and made Lucas wonder why he had given her so little credit up until then.

"I see you looking at her," Brooke had declared in response, kinking one perfectly shaped eyebrow. It was almost as if she was daring Lucas to refute her claim. To make some excuse as to why she'd caught him looking at her best friend, Peyton that night. "I know you like her, not that I blame you. She's a great person. But she's with Nathan and putting her in between the two of you isn't fair."

"I'm not trying to do anything," Lucas had been quick to deny.

"Not that any girl wouldn't mind having the Scott brothers vying for her attention, but… I'm just trying to look out for my friend. It's no offense against you," she said, despite the fact that she hardly knew the elder Scott brother at all. "See you around, superstar," she added and walked out of his mother's café with the brownie she'd ordered after first stepping up to the counter.

Since then, Lucas had heeded her advice and stayed a safe distance away from Peyton Sawyer. The least cheeriest cheerleader on the squad and Brooke Davis' long time best friend.

Little did Lucas know that everything was about to change. He was about to venture into a world he had only ever glanced into from the outside. A world that was the norm for people like Brooke and his brother Nathan. Something he had no desire to be a part of until he got so deep in that there was only one person to guide him through it.

An unlikely ally who made it all worthwhile.

-----

"Please tell me Bevin's just bleached her hair so many times now that the peroxide is playing tricks with her brain cells and that you aren't actually trying out for the Tree Hill Ravens."

Uneasiness rolling off her in spades, the short brunette looked down at her best friend expectantly. "Hello to you too, Hales," Lucas greeted as he glanced up from his book, decidedly immune to the stern expression of hers that he'd grown accustomed to over the years. "How was your day?" he asked calmly. A little too calmly for Haley as she glared with brown eyes in frustration.

"Luke, If you don't answer me in the next few seconds, I'll have no other choice but to beat it out of you," Haley threatened. "Again."

"Okay first of all, we were ten when that happened and you were taller than me," Lucas quickly pointed out as he stood up from his bed, towering above the much shorter girl for emphasis. "And second… no, there's nothing wrong with Bevin's brain cells. At least not about this," he amended. "But I'm not going to try out… I already did. This afternoon in fact."

Ignoring the hurt she felt about finding it all out from Bevin instead of her best friend, Haley curbed the impulse to frown again and instead asked, "Well what happened? Did you make it or… not?"

His impassive expression curved up into a smile as he nodded. "I guess you're gonna have to start going to games now, Hales."

Despite the shock of it all, Haley knew enough by the smile on her friend's face that he was obviously happy about his decision. It was why she put aside her own reservations before wrapping her arms around him in a brief hug. "Congratulations, Luke. I... wow. A Raven, huh?" She tried to be happy for him, smiling on the outside while inside she was full of uncertainties. Specifically… how his mother was going to take the news.

"Look, I know it seems out of left field but the Ravens lost a player and… I don't know. Between Skillz and Keith, I just decided to go for it. Why not, you know?" Lucas shrugged as the first doubts began to set in.

"Nathan's gonna blow a gasket when he finds out," Haley declared bluntly before a contrite look graced features. "Sorry."

"Lucas, do you have the… oh hi, Haley. I didn't know you were here," greeted Karen Roe, a short brunette in her mid-thirties who wore an apron around her waist and held a dishtowel in her hand. "I'm making spaghetti for dinner if you want to stay," she said to her son's friend before looking at the tall blonde teenager who had been her whole world for sixteen years. "Lucas, I was looking for the cordless phone. I need to call Keith and I don't want drag the phone cord around while I cook. Do you have it?" Karen asked, glancing up at him expectantly.

"Coffee table," Lucas informed and waited until the door was closed behind his mother before returning his attention to Haley. "Actually I'm more worried about what she's gonna say than I am about what Nathan thinks," he admitted, hoping that his uncle Keith would make good on his claim to smooth things over with Karen. As his biggest supporter and her best friend, if there was anyone who could do it, it would be Keith Scott.

"I'm sure she'll be okay," Haley said though she could hardly believe it herself.

Basketball had been her Dan Scott's mistress when Karen first found out she was pregnant with Lucas. It was just a game, but he chose it over his son and Karen had never quit despising it since. An oddity considering how much time her Lucas spent on the court. "Yeah… piece of cake," Lucas murmured as he too found it hard to believe that everything would just fall into place.

-----

"So word around the halls is that you're Tree Hill's newest shooting guard." Lucas wasn't at all surprised that news of his basketball status had spread around school already. What did surprise him was that Brooke Davis was the one leaning against the nearest locker, peering up at him curiously.

Since that summer day in June, the two hadn't exchanged more than a few casual words. Mostly it was a nod on Brooke's side, sometimes a smile or a wave. "If that's what the gossip mill says then it must be true," he said with a small smile and a hint of dryness in his words, causing the feisty brunette to laugh softly.

"Basketball skills and a sense of humor. Who would have thought?" she asked while Haley saddled up to his other side, unaware that he already had company. "Hey tutorgirl," Brooke cut in as Haley began a frustrated tirade involving Tim and some cheesy pick-up line he'd used on her for third time that week. "Later, superstar"

With a grin in their direction, Brooke pushed off the lockers and sauntered down the hallway. Low riding jeans and a tight shirt that ended just above her waistband garnered the attention of every available male in the vicinity. Yet she never turned around once or acknowledge anyone beside the random cheerleader or friend she encountered along the way.

"You know Brooke?" Lucas asked at the same time Haley said, "Don't tell me it's already starting."

"Wait… what?"

"Starting. As in now you're one of them and your life is no longer your own," Haley elaborated with a pointed glance at the cheerleaders who stared at Lucas before turning to whisper behind their hands. Giggles drifted across the corridor, causing Haley to roll her eyes at them. Cheer sluts, as she so fondly referred to them as. "Or hadn't you noticed the way they all hiked their skirts a few inches higher while your back was turned?"

"Actually… I hadn't," Lucas informed, momentarily forgetting his own question as the warning bell sounded. "Later, Hales."

"Later, superstar," Haley mimicked once her friend was out of earshot.

And it was only the beginning.