"at the end of the day, you are who you are, and it's probably who you've always been."
Jamie had fallen asleep on one of the couches at the funeral home and Luke had carried him to the car, and then into the house. As he carried him, he wondered how someone so small could handle so much. The boy was light as a feather in his arms, and his eyes were puffy with dark circles under them, and Luke was afraid that one wrong movement and the boy would fall apart under his touch. Just disintegrate on the spot, because God knows that the eldest Scott boy felt like that. Like he would just blow away in the wind. He felt.. insignificant. He felt insignificant and vulnerable because what did a human life mean if it could just be gone? In the blink of an eye, and the only proof that it ever even existed was what you left behind. Luke, who believed in life and fate and all that bullshit was questioning the validity of it all.. of the point of it.
Now, sitting on the couch across from a brunette that he used to love, more than once, and would probably always love.. someone who he believed whole-hardheartedly would change the world some day, was being forced to put her life on hold because the universe had other plans. And he was angry. Not because he didn’t love Jamie, and of course he wanted to be there for the boy, but because it wasn’t fair. It wasn’t fair. “It doesn’t..” be began, then drifted off, not sure how to phrase what he was feeling. He chuckled lightly, though it lacked humor. “It doesn’t feel real,” he finally admitted, a little louder as he looked directly at her. He glanced around the house, that was lived in. That had their mark on. “It feels like they’re gonna walk in that door.”
Brooke wanted to be angry. Angry at whatever caused this, angry at something — but more than anything, all she felt was sad. The air around her felt heavy, as though even their home noticed the absence. Brooke felt like it was crushing her. She couldn’t begin to imagine how the others were feeling — Peyton or Mouth or Skills or, more importantly, Jamie. Maybe it was selfish to think of it this way, but how could this happen to them? They had all lost someone — a friend, a mentor, a sibling, a parent…this just wasn’t fair. Death wasn’t supposed to be able to touch them. They were young, fearless, supposedly invincible; but now the reality of it was so apparently clear. They weren’t invincible. Never were. But it was cruel to throw the truth at them in such a way. How could the universe take away two of the most amazing people? How was that fair?
As Lucas spoke up, trying to explain how he felt, all Brooke wanted to was try to comfort him. He deserved that much — but perhaps she was hoping that by helping him she could find a way to help herself, too. She wanted to find a way to make it better for all of them, but the truth was that there was nothing she could do. What is that saying? Time heals all wounds or whatever? Maybe there is some truth to it. Or maybe the wound never heals — maybe time just dulls the pain enough for you to live on. That’s how she felt; but she also believed that everything had to get worse before it could get better. Even if it hurt. “Luke, how are we gonna do this?” she blurted. That was the last thing she had intended to say, but Nathan and Haley weren’t going to be walking through that door. No matter how much they wanted it — no matter how much they wished and dreamed and hoped for it.
It was still unbelievable, the fact that Hayley and Nathan were gone. He still couldn’t say it out loud.. admit that he’d lost both his best friend and brother in the blink of an eye. There was nothing good about it, no upside that he could find. Luke was a believer in fate, and though it’d been tested many time he held a firm conviction that everything happened for a reason. Maybe he was a romantic or ignorant for thinking that, but so be it. Up until now, that is. Because there was no reason for Hayley to not be playing on the piano and for Nate to not be playing basketball in the backyard. There was no reason for them to leave behind their son. There was no reason for them to be gone.
Luke sat on the couch opposite Brooke, him still in his suit and her in her dress. They were clad in black, and a cloud seemed to be hanging heavy over their heads. Luke shivered lightly as he glanced around at the dimly lit house. The fire place was on and burning bright, but there was an undeniable chill in the air. “I still can’t believe it,” he murmured, almost to himself. He glanced over at Brooke, who seemed to be lost in her own thoughts as well.
Nathan and Haley couldn’t be gone. They were only twenty-two — far too young to be taken from the world that they were going to change. Haley was going to be the voice of reason that the kids at Tree Hill needed and Nathan…Nathan still had hundreds of courts to play on that he never got the opportunity to. They were supposed to have decades to be young and raise Jamie and be with their friends. No, this wasn’t supposed to happen to them. Not when they had so many more dreams to believe in.
Even worse than seeing her friends in the dark clothes, either struggling to keep from crying or not trying at all, had been Jamie. The young boy was upstairs in his room where Lucas had carried his small sleeping figure. Brooke had almost considered laying down with him, but here, sitting in the living room where the only sounds were coming from the crackling fire, she knew she was far from slumber. The red- and puffy-eyed brunette didn’t know how long they had sat there before Luke’s voice broke through the quiet. “Tell me about it” was her simple response, voice low, expression wavering.