A/N: First One Tree Hill fanfic, so some kindness please :) Was written for my friend who is obsessed with the show, and thanks to her kind words I found the courage to post it on here, so hope you enjoy :)

But you see, just because we've been dealt a certain hand, it doesn't mean we can't choose to rise above- to conquer the boundaries of a destiny that none of us wanted. To try to retain whatever essential humanity we can.

I sometimes wonder how I got here, how far away from the path that I thought I was destined for I have strayed. It wasn't necessarily choice that led me here, just actions and consequences, a series of events that I may have set into motion, but for which I never saw my life today as the consequence for. Whether that makes me a fool I don't know, perhaps I should have opened my eyes a little wider to see all of this. But would knowing what I know now have made me choose a different path? Would I have chosen the path I believed I deserved? Or the one I have now?

Who knows? Destiny dealt me a certain hand, and it is my job to play the hand I have been dealt and just try to make the best of what I have, wherever the game may lead.

I always believed that my life was mapped out for me, in the hands of my controlling father I believed my fate was sealed. There was the plan, high school, then Duke to play college ball. It was the dream I was told, what I was working my ass of in high school for. But it wasn't my dream, it was my dad living vicariously through me. Believing that through me he could relive his youth and have me not make the same mistakes as he did, well at least what he saw as mistakes. My dad and me, up until now our lives have run pretty much parallel, everything I've achieved has been in his shadow, or at least that's what he believes. He thinks I can never be as good as him, never beat his records or recapture the glory of his high school days as a basketball player. And maybe he's right, maybe I will never be as good as him on the court, but I know one thing. Off the court I'm a far better person than him, that I know. At my age he had already gotten Karen pregnant, abandoned her in favour of his dreams, gone off to college and met my mum. 9 months later there was me. He did the right thing in one instance and the wrong in another. Yet despite creating a family with my mom, something that would make most men proud, he allowed the dreams our family had shattered for him to bottle up into bitterness and hatred. He turned his back on Lucas, his own son, for reasons I'll never understand, he not only deprived Lucas of a father, but me of my brother. I spent years hating Lucas, yet not really knowing why, maybe it was envy. Lucas had it easy in my eyes, he got to escape life with Dan. He didn't have the punishing drills every day, the constant taunting about basketball scores, the impossibly high goals to reach and fulfil, not for me, but for Dad. It was never about me, nothing was about me, nothing was until I met you.

When I met you, Haley, the path suddenly wasn't so clear. Instead of a straight line to Duke and NBA , it was a crossroads, for the first time in my life, basketball wasn't the most important thing in my life. It wasn't the first thing I woke up thinking of, I didn't spend my days reliving shots I could have taken better or how I was going to play in my next game. Suddenly it was all you, only you. Somewhere, deep within me, was a part of me that Dan's dictatorship had left untouched, and you found that part of me. The part of me that I didn't even know existed, and you brought it to life. All of a sudden I was smiling for no apparent reason, counting down the minutes until I could see you next. There was a part of me that felt I didn't deserve you, what right did I have to something so pure, so untouched? I didn't understand what in me could make you love me? What good there was inside of me that deserved what you gave me. All those years with Mom and Dad had destroyed my idea of what love should be, until you showed me what it was. It wasn't about keeping up appearances, or money, or status. It was about loving someone, right or wrong, through the good and the bad, about holding onto something so tightly because you're too afraid that if you let go then it never existed. I always thought basketball would be the greatest love of my life, the one constant I would always have when everything else failed. Then I found you, and I realised after that everything else I loved, failed into insignificance, it didn't matter how many baskets I made, or how many championships we won or lost, what mattered was you and me, us to be more precise.

I never thought that I would be married at 17, that wasn't part of the plan, but then again, meeting and falling in love with you wasn't part of the plan, all I knew then was what I know now. That I love you. That I love you more than I can ever say, I love you for all your strengths, and all your flaws, because that's what makes you you. I love you for the fact that when I'm with you, I'm not in Dan's shadow. That I can step out of that shadow because I know in that moment, when I'm with you, that I'm a better man than he ever will be. Because unlike him, I never shied away from how I felt for fear of getting hurt, for fear of losing the one I love, because all that pain, it's worth it. It's worth it for being with the person you love, if only for a moment. I've never felt more alive than at our wedding, because nothing else existed for those moments, it literally was just you and me. Together, in that moment, we became one. One heart, one soul, one mind. Never again would it just be about me, every hearbeat from that moment on would be for you, every thought would have you in mind, there was no me and you anymore, only an us.

Just like my path had deviated, so did yours. You have a gift Haley, an amazing gift that the world deserves to hear. It just pains me that in order to do this you had to leave, leave the life we had built, our friends, our family, and me. When you left to go on tour, it was as if a piece of my heart was taken from me. Like I couldn't breath properly anymore, there was a weight on me so heavy that I couldn't lift it. Nothing mattered anymore,all my dreams left the day you did. I didn't just lose you the day you left, I lost everything. The future I had seen for us, all the adventures along the way. But yet, everytime I picked up the paper and saw you name, I couldn't feel angry, I was never angry at you, not deep down. How could I be when I still loved you? It felt as if, for the first time in my life, I had lost, and it wasn't some high school basketball championship, I had lost the other part of me. I was angry at myself, for giving you up, maybe I wasn't any better than Dan after all? He let Karen slip through his fingers all those years ago, and here I was, doing the same. But after seeing you, on tour, I realised that maybe I had to let you go. Like a boomerang I had to let you go to see if you came back, if we really could stand the tests that others said we'd fail. But you didn't, you stayed on tour, and kept my heart with you. The longer it went on, the more I realised that perhaps I had done the wrong thing. That just like Dan my pride was making one of the worst mistakes of my life for me, and just like him, I did little to correct it. Instead of making myself a man you'd be proud to come home to, I turned into the antithesis of what you deserve. I cut school, I drank, I pushed everyone away. Do you deserve that? Is that the kind of husband you should have? Whilst you were out on the road making me proud of you, I let myself wither away, so consumed by anger and grief. I wanted you back so badly, yet I couldn't find the words to say it, the courage to pick up the phone, the keys to the car to come and bring you home. Damn pride.

I've made a lot of mistakes Hales, but despite what people say, marrying you was never one of them. I would never trade what we have for anything, even all the bad times have been worth it, if only to prove that we can make it. That we can make this marriage work, that we can survive and flourish, like a phoenix out of the ashes. When I got behind the wheel of that racecar, I felt more alive than I had in months, the adrenaline that rushed through me was like nothing I'd felt, the speed added to the excitement. Out there, on the track, with nothing but the car, I saw what I had become, the person I had promised I would never be. Yet it didn't make me stop, instead I went faster and faster, thinking if I went fast enough, the visions would stop, that I wouldn't see it anymore. I'm not him, Haley, I'm not Dan. I'm a better person than him, because if I wasn't, I would never have got you. I didn't crash the car on purpose, I swear to you, because as Dan was taunting me in my head, there was vision that was clearer. As Cooper and Lucas were shouting at me to stop, there was one voice that was louder than both of theirs, it was yours Hales. You were telling me to stop, stop the car, stop my own path of self destruction. That I had a chance, a chance to be the person I was capable of being, despite what ran in my DNA. That's what made me stop the car, the possibility of a new beginning. If I wake up from this, whatever this is, then I want that, I want to be the person I know I can be, the person I know I should be. Destiny may have dealt me a different hand to the one I thought I was going to get, but I don't care. I'll play their hand and I'll win, anything if the prize is you. I'll take all this pain if it leads me back to you, if it brings you back then I'll lie on this operating theatre table forever. Anything to have you back with me again, home where you belong. I love you Hales, I just hope that's enough, always and forever.