Disclaimer: As much as it pains me, I own nothing. One Tree Hill, it's characters and storylines are only mine in my dreams.
Author's Note: Any feedback on this story is very and truely appreaciated; But note, I don't comment on my coupling. My goal is that you like the story enough that it doesn't matter one way or the other who's being paired with who. I hope that doesn't lose me readers, but if it does...guess that can't be helped.
Because He Loved Her
And OTH Fanfic
He couldn't sleep.
What else was new? It was the third night this week he had lain in bed awake staring at the ceiling at a little past three in the damn morning.
What he wanted, what he needed, was a shot of something strong, a willing woman who would leave on her own in the morning, and a superpower that would allow him to get a decent night's sleep.
But he couldn't have it.
Not any of it.
He's stopped drinking more than three years ago and he wasn't about to go back to that. Not for all the sleep in the world. He hated who he had been then. The only woman he had ever wanted was gone. Married someone that wasn't him. She was building a life with another man far away from the life she'd once had in Tree Hill.
If he smoked, right now would be when he would light up.
In the dark he turned his head to stare at the clock that sat on his nightstand. Pushing up on to an elbow, he reached into the nightstand drawer pulling out a plastic bottle. He sat it down smartly next to the clock then reached out an arm to turn on the lamp.
Midnight blue eyes bore holes into the prescription sleep-aid.
He didn't want to take that shit. He didn't need to. He could get to sleep on his own. He always did. What the hell had he been thinking? He should have taken Haley's head off for filling the damned thing. He should have flushed the pills down the toiled a long time ago, that's what he should have done.
He didn't need them.
"I don't need them." Lucas spoke aloud.
Yanking open the nightstand drawer once more, he threw the pills back inside slamming the drawer shut.
Switching off the lamp, Lucas rolled to his back folding his hands behind his head. His thoughts were moving in his mind a mile a minute. What he had, what he lost, what he wanted and what he needed.
He closed his eyes to try and stop the thoughts, to turn off his brain. When he opened them again it was daylight.
Sunlight shined brightly into the room making his squint his eyes to be able to see. He looked at his clock its red numbers showed that it was still early. It wasn't even noon. Lucas didn't close his eyes again. It would have been for nothing, he was awake.
He ran a hand over his face, his palm scraping against the stubble on his cheek. He had stopped looking at himself in the mirror a long time ago. So long that it had become a habit. He brushed his teeth in the shower and, had he been inclined, he would have shaved in there too
The water stopped and Lucas slid open the sweating shower door. Stepping out he shook his head hard like a dog knocking what water he could out of his ears and from his hair. He wrapped a towel around his waist and stepped from the steam filled stall and was greeted by Simon.
A retired K-9 officer, Simon, a German Shepard, had been given to him by a good friend. The very best. Even though the guy had a tendency to be a pain in the ass, and piss him off on a daily basis.
Fall had to be his favorite time of the year. Lucas never could put his finger on the reason why. Maybe it was being outside while the leaves fell from the trees. Maybe it was the sight of fire places being cued up or the smell of the last of the summer cook outs until the next year, or the way that the air tasted when it changed from warm to cold.
His eyes fell on his computer the same as they always did when he walked though his living room. Lucas made himself look away. His mind wasn't blocked, no it was far from it. He had so many things running through it he could write for years, but he refused to acknowledge any of it. He didn't have the energy to fight with characters or deal with plotlines. He had been burned out for the past year and a half. In just these past few weeks the spark to do something about the thoughts inside his mind had made itself present.
He was afraid.
His phone rang but Lucas made no move to answer it. That's what answering machines were for. After the third ring his machine clicked on and a recorded message told whoever it was that he didn't feel like talking, but if they just had to, then leave a message. Who was he to stop them? After the beep Haley's voice filled the room.
"I give a smooth damn about how you feel," she spoke. "I hate that damn message. It's rude."
"Lucas please. Pick up the phone. Pick up the phone, Luke."
He stood in the open door way of the fridge drinking milk from the carton. He looked at the machine half expecting Haley to be standing there glowering at him. She sighed over the line again, but this time in anger.
"Okay goddammit, enough is enough." She said. "You've been holed up in that house and cut off from the rest of the world for too damned long, Lucas."
"You act like I'm doing it for nothing, Haley." He slammed the refrigerator door shut. "I do have a reason for doing what I'm doing."
"My birthday is coming and I expect you to be there. "You're my best friend dammit and you should be there. Okay? You and Nathan can't stand each other, I get that-"
Lucas shook his head. "No you don't."
"But for one night, one night, all I'm asking is that the both of you table it. Choke on it. For me. Can you do that? Please."
No, he couldn't.
"I can't." He spoke aloud.
The machine beeped signaling the end of the message.
He hated it with every breath that he took, but Lucas had no say in it. Haley had fallen in love with his brother. She married the man for Christ sakes. Her father had asked him to give her away knowing how he felt about the man, but Lucas had done it anyway. He had stood up for Haley that day.
If he could respect what they had why couldn't Haley respect him on this? Why couldn't she respect the fact that he and Nathan would never be one big happy family whether Dan Scott was dead or not? Too much had happened.
Just thinking about it made Lucas mad at both himself and at her. But still, he made mental note to see the little dictator on her birthday if not before.
"When is this going to stop, Haley?"
Nathan followed his wife though their home from the back of the house to the kitchen. He had listened minutes before as Haley had let yet another message on Lucas's answering machine. He watched as she wiped tears from her cheeks and he blood had boiled with anger because she couldn't see what was right in front of her face.
No, she wouldn't see.
That was what was really eating at him. Not the fact that Lucas hadn't come around to her way of thinking. The man never would and Nathan could care less. He didn't care if he saw the guy's face or heard his name ever again in his lifetime. What he cared about was his wife and the fact that she was putting her "best friend" before them.
He was tired of watching her fight for something that would never happen whether Lucas agreed to it or not. There was still another person in her damn equation.
No one had asked Nathan what thought about being "brothers" with Lucas. He didn't want to be family to that guy anymore than Lucas wanted to be one big happy family with him. And Haley, his wife, was just assuming that he would go along with it and fall in line.
Well wasn't she in for one rude awakening?
He'd sit through a party with the man for Haley because it was her birthday and he loved the little tyrant with every fiber in his being. But that was it. He wasn't doing anything else.
He didn't want to.
"Are we going to fight about this?"
"We've been fighting about this." Nathan said to her. "Just because you and I are married and Lucas didn't object doesn't mean that he's happy about it. It doesn't negate the fact that he wouldn't piss on me to put out a fire. It doesn't mean that he wants to hang out and have a couple of beers and watch a game. It doesn't make us friends. It doesn't make us brothers."
"Dan is dead," she began.
"Haley, you're too damn smart to say something so stupid. This has nothing to do with him and you know it."
"No," Nathan ground out. "It doesn't. You ever stop to think that I don't want this anymore than he does? No? Why does that not surprise me? I'm sick and damn tired of coming second to Lucas with you, Hales."
"If you came second to Lucas with me, Nathan, then we never would have gotten married. It's my birthday, dammit!" She shouted. "I get to be selfish. I want my husband and my best friend to sit on their stupid assed feud for one damn night and eat cake and flippin' ice cream! Is that too much to ask?"
"It's not all you're asking and you know it." He spoke quietly. "You want more. I know what you're trying to do, Haley. I know what you're after and he does too. We are not going to be one big happy family because this is the real world, and in the real world you don't always get what you want. If you did, Lucas wouldn't even exist."
"In that world," Haley said to him. "Neither would you and I. It's because of Lucas that we're here in the first place, or did you forget that?"
Nathan pulled in a breath so deep his chest rose. He closed his eyes and tried to let it out slowly but he came out so fast it was like a balloon deflating.
"That was high school."
"It still happened, and I'm not going to apologize for wanting this mess between the two of you dead and buried. What happens when we have children, Nathan? What then babe? I want our babies to have their family. Mine and yours; and that includes Lucas. He's apart of that whether either one of you likes it or not."
"I'm not going to shut him out, but I'm not going to force him either, Hales. Fuck if I beg. Lucas hasn't chosen. You keep pushing this and you're going to make things worse than they already are. And I'm sick and tired of feeling like you're putting your relationship with Lucas before us and our marriage. We don't need him to be happy."
"Oh, Nathan. It's not li-"
"It is!" He shouted. "But you're so wrapped up in all things Lucas, wrapping your perfect word with a damn ribbon and a box, that you can't see it. Maybe you don't want to."
For a long time afterward Lucas sat on his back porch trying not to think. His one goal for the day was to tax his body to the max so that even his mind wouldn't be able to keep him awake tonight.
Pushing away from comfort of the recently sanded wood and the warmth of the dog he had yet to deem him his, Lucas wrapped at hand around the long, smooth wood of the ax handle. It was buried into the stump of a tree that had been cut down a long before he even moved into the house.
He didn't need any firewood but that wasn't the point.
He sat a quartered log upright on the stump. In one hand held the ax, its weight made his arm heavy; it pulled on the muscles in his shoulder weighing his arm down. Lucas focused on the wood he was about to split and it was like the anger had come out of nowhere, but it hadn't. I was always there waiting for him to let his guard down so that it could escape. He had learned a long time ago to control it best he could without going crazy.
Today he was going to let it loose because he wanted to use it, not let it use him. Lucas lifted the gate. He let his guard down and let it come. It started at the bottom of his feet, burned up his legs and throughout his body. It spread up his arms and down through his fingers. It moved up his spine, his neck then over his head.
He lifted the ax high with both hands and brought it down hard.
The force of the ax split the wood clean down the middle the halves shooting out to either side. He put another and another, breaking and splitting wood. Sweat dripped from his temples. It fell from his hair to burn in his eyes. It itched at the back of his neck, slid own his spine too pool at the small of his back.
It was working, Lucas could feel it. He could feel the anger draining. It would always be there, Lucas wasn't naïve about that, but he was in charge of it. He ruled it, not the other way around.
He kept splitting wood until there was nothing left. His arms hung heavy and he was exhausted but he made himself lift the ax one more time to bury it back in the stump. Safety first and all. He made a weak attempt to wipe the sweat from his face with his shoulder as he headed for the porch.
And stopped dead in this tracks.
"What the fuck are you doing here?" Lucas snapped angrily. "How the hell did you get in and why the hell are you on my damn porch?"
He took the five steps up and didn't spare his brother the slightest glance. In the beginning he had had to work at it. Now, it was like he had been born doing it. He didn't even care if it rubbed Nathan the wrong way anymore. Said something didn't it?
Lucas dug into the cooler that sat in the far corner of the porch. He paid Nathan no mind once more as he moved back down the steps. He uncapped the long neck bottle on the stair banister draining half of it in two long pulls, and waited.
Nathan stood like a bull in a china shop in the doorway. He wore a dove gray jacket that was open at the collar, worn jeans and black work boots. Basketball having not worked out of him the way that he had wanted it to, Nathan now owned a semi-successfully construction business. People in town still held the championship against him all the years later even though they had won that game.
He had his hands shoved in the pockets of his jeans as he stared Lucas down. He wasn't intimidated by the person who stood only a few feet away. Why would he be when what he saw as less than intimidating?
"So, what? You're going to make her beg?"
"Go home, Nathan." Lucas warned him. "Before you ruin my good mood." The anger that he had succeeded in using earlier to his advantage earlier, exhausting it to nothing started to rise slowly in Lucas again.
"Aren't you supposed to be the 'good brother', the 'better son'? The hero to my villain?" It pissed him off when Lucas looked right through him with the same eyes that Nathan saw in the mirror every morning.
"I will break you." He promised. "I will break you in two if I have to watch my wife shed one more tear over someone who's worth less than a damn. One more, Lucas, and I'm coming back. And when I do, words won't have a place. Understand?"
He drained what was left in the bottle, tossing the empty into the recycling bin. His anger was back in full force now, and every bit of it was egging Lucas on, practically begging him to take those stairs and knock Nathan's block off. His anger took over his fatigue completely.
He pulled the ax out of the stump and set up another log. He chopped wood still ignoring Nathan. He knew that the guy wouldn't take the hint. Soon as he said what he needed to say he would get the hell off his property. And if he was smart, he wouldn't bring himself back.
"I'm willing to table this for Haley." Nathan went on. "I could care less if I ever see your face again in life."
"I'm always going to be first, Nathan." Lucas kept on chopping. When he looked at Nathan his eyes were cold and gave away nothing. "And even though he chose you, you know just like I do that he regretted the choice, the mistake that he made. It pisses you off that he regrets not being there for me when he should have been. That's why you come at me the way that you do."
"Haley is my wife."
"And a grown woman." Lucas cut in. "Life isn't fair. You don't always get what you want even if you think that you need it. We both know about that."
"I would do anything for that woman." Nathan said. "The same thing used to be said about you. How the mighty have fallen."
"You should feel like the better man then, now shouldn't you?" Lucas raised the ax high then brought it down.
"Go home, Nathan." He told him again. "Tell Haley, tell you wife that you did your good deed for the day and that it got her key confiscated. You can leave it in the kitchen on your way out."
"Before she married me, you told my wife that she deserved better than me and you were right. When I go home and tell her that she deserves better than you I'll be the on in the right won't I, Lucas?"
He kept splitting wood. "Haley still deserves better than you, Nathan." He replied. "That hasn't changed. And even if I'm not there for her the way that she wants me to be, I'm there in the way that she needs me to be."
He set up another log. "It doesn't matter how you feel about me or how I feel about you. Haley chose to marry you, but she's been my best friend since grade school. You won't change that. Don't threaten me again. I don't like it. I promise you won't either."
"You don't deserve her."
"Neither do you."
The screen door smacked shut and second later the front door slammed.
Lucas kept going. He kept chopping wood until the anger had left him again and his arms refused to move. He couldn't even put the ax in the stump so he laid it across it. He used the last of his energy to crash down hard on the steps.
He looked over his shoulder and smiled, laughing softly when Simon dropped another cold one in his lap. Lucas reached behind him, scratching the dog behind his ear then he took a long drink. The flavor burst on his tongue reminding him of southern summers when times had been good. Simon sighed heavily behind him. Closing his eyes, Lucas let his mind wander to those few short snatches of goodness that had happened in his life. It didn't last long. He opened his eyes when he felt a shadow fall over him.
"That had better be soda you're downing." A deep rough voice like honey over gravel spoke with silent intensity.
Lucas stared at the man saying nothing then sent him a smile that was so fake it was mocking. "Grape soda deputy," he raised the bottle in his hands as a toast all most in Jake Jagielski's direction.
"Want one?" He offered.
Jake glared down at his friend. His hair was plastered to his skull with sweat; the t-shirt he wore was stuck to his torso with it. Jake glanced to his side, taking in the ax that was laid over the stump.
He had every right to be skeptical about what his friend was tossing back. He'd had been the first one on scene when Lucas had gotten behind the wheel of his classic T-Bird and nearly killed himself. The car had been totaled and if it hadn't been for the good lord and Karen Roe looking down on him, Lucas would have been killed too.
So many things had happened to him and it seemed like it had happened all at once, one thing after another. And from the looks of it, the guy was still throwing himself a pity party. It was long passed about damn time for him to "get off the pot" as his father was fond of saying. They had a friend in need and she was going to need all of them.
"She's coming home, Luke."
Lucas lifted his shoulder in a shrug and took another pull on from his bottle of soda. "Why should that matter to me?"
"It does matter to you."
"Oh bullshit!" He snatched the near empty bottle from the other man's hands and threw it as hard as he could against the side of the house. The glass shattered on impact, sending what was left of the soda inside slapping up against the side of the house. Lucas shot up from where he sat that the two men stood toe to toe, nose to nose. Both breathing hard, their eyes shot fire. Simon who was now perched on the porch, growled low and deep in this throat.
"There isn't much left of the girl we used to know, Lucas." Jake told him. "And if you think that that son of a bitch that she married is going to let her go without a fight then all those years your spent trying to drink yourself to death when you weren't wrapping your car around a goddamn tree did more than just kill off your brain cells.