Disclaimer: This all belongs the Mark Schwahn and the other people who own One Tree Hill. I'm just borrowing the characters.

Note: The prologue is really long. It's probably double the size of what the regular chapters will be. I just wanted to establish where Haley is when she and Nathan meet. Right now it's rated a very strong T because of a very adult situation that happens right here in the prologue. It could be bumped to an M later on.

Haley James stood by a lamppost, leaning on it with her bag slung over her shoulder. She looked out in front of her. This part of the campus was deserted; most people were at Maples Pavilion. The Stanford Cardinals were playing the Duke Blue Devils. At least, Haley thought they were. Sports held little appeal for her, so she wasn't sure when the game ended. Haley began humming the finale from Les Miserables as she waited. Her friend Crissy from her advanced algebra class was supposed to bring her the notes she had let her borrow. Haley wouldn't have bothered waiting, but she had a test coming up and really wanted to look over the notes again. She checked her watched. December in California wasn't that cold, but there was still a chill in the air and Haley began rocking back and forth on the heels of her feet, trying to stay warm.

"I'm sure I could help warm you up," a voice called to her. He was a few feet away and made his way toward her.

She looked at him. She wasn't the type to check out guys, but she couldn't help it. Besides, he was the one to use a cheesy pickup line on her. It was only fair that she be allowed to see who it was that was offering. He was definitely tall. He had dark hair and strong features. His blue eyes held a spark of mischief. He was definitely hot. But, Haley wasn't looking for a relationship right now.

"No thanks," she responded, smiling at him, humoring him.

"Are you sure? My name is Nathan." He walked right up to her, standing less than a foot away. "If you're not doing anything, I could buy you dinner. You never know, this could be the beginning of something real good."

"You're persistent, I'll give you that."

"Does that get me dinner? You still haven't told me your name."

Nathan was about to continue when a girl ran up to Haley, apologizing profusely.

"I'm so, so sorry!" She was out of breath and reached into her bag, pulling out a handful of papers. "You're a lifesaver, James. These helped a lot. And I'm sorry for making you wait, I got caught up and I even missed them game-"

"Standford lost," Nathan answered. He turned his attention back to Haley. "And, now I know your name is James. A little weird for a girl, but I'll overlook it. So, about dinner…"

"I'm not interested," Haley told him politely.

"Why not?" Nathan honestly didn't know why she would say no. "Do you have a boyfriend?"


"Are you a lesbian?"

Haley let out a laugh, "No. Just not interested. But thanks for asking."

"Okay, one last try before I start looking pathetic. You never know, I could be your future husband. If I believed in that kind of thing."

"See, there you go. I am into that kind of thing. But have a good night." Haley turned back to Crissy as Nathan shrugged his shoulders and walked away. "It's no problem, Crissy. Don't worry about it."

"Okay, but onto more important things. Do you know who that guy was?" Crissy looked impressed and looked off into the direction of where Nathan had walked.

"He said his name was Nathan." Haley shrugged, not knowing what the big deal was.

"Nathan Scott. He's Duke's star player. He has NBA scouts after him and he's only a junior. He's going to go pro someday. He could go now, if he wanted. He's gonna be famous." Crissy shook her head in disbelief. "I can't believe you turned him down."

"I'm not going to go out with some strange guy just because he can put a ball through a basket and might be famous someday."

"How about because he's hot? Because that boy is fine. That's a great reason to go out with him."

Haley laughed, "Well, you know me."

"Yeah, I do. I'll see you in class, Haley."

Haley brought her bag up further on her shoulder and wrapped her arms around herself as she made her way through campus back to her dorm. She was looking forward to getting into her flannel pajamas and getting under her covers with a good book. She quickened her pace and decided to take a shortcut. It was a small alleyway between two buildings. There was only a small light illuminating her path.

"You want some company? You should be walking out late by yourself."

Haley turned around, half expecting to see Nathan there again but knew it really didn't sound like him. Looking at the person standing before her, he didn't have that friendly look that Nathan had.

"Um, no thanks, I'm fine," she replied softly before turning around and walking, this time even faster than before. He broke into a sprint and caught up to her, though.

"Really, you never know who could be out here," his voice was lower this time. He sounded like he didn't want to be heard.

"I'm really fine, you don't have to go out of your way," her voice shook slightly. She was just getting a bad vibe off of this guy. His jeans were frayed at the cuff and his hoodie had grease stains on it. His hair hung over his eyes slightly and his mouth was curved in a half smile half snarl.

"Let me be a gentleman and help you out," he reached for her wrist, but she pulled it away. He blinked several times and his hands clenched into fists. "I'm just tryin' to be helpful."

"I know. But it's okay, I can make it on my own." Haley began taking a few steps backward, her eyes never leaving his face.

Before she could register what was happening, he tackled her and slammed her body to the ground. She tried to scream, but his hand covered her mouth before anything more than a whimper could come out. She began squirming, feeling the roughness of the concrete beneath her body. Her legs began kicking and he used the weight of his torso to keep her in place. The hand that wasn't covering her mouth was pinning her arm down. She could smell the alcohol on his breath. It made her want to vomit.

"I was trying to do this right. This is your fault, I wanted to help you home and then you'd invite me inside and we could get to know each other. But you made this hard. You did this," he seethed.

Haley's eyes grew wide as she heard him blaming her for attacking her. She did the first thing she could think of and bit down on his hand. She could taste the dirt caked into his palm and wanted to spit but had to try and get free.

"YOU BITCH!" He brought the hand that had been covering her mouth, curled it into a fist and began hitting her.

Haley felt his fist make contact with her face. He hit her several times, trying to subdue her, trying to punish her for fighting back. "No," she managed to say. "No." Haley knew what was coming as the hand that wasn't holding her arm made its way down her stomach, getting lower and lower. She felt tears coming to her eyes and tried holding them back. She didn't know if she'd succeeded. She knew what was happening and she knew that she couldn't stop it. She was weak from the beating, she managed to squirm some but not enough to get him off of her. She let her mind wander, anything to keep away the reality of what was happening to her.

Haley was vaguely aware of him getting off of her and leaving. Before walking away, he brought his hand to her face, caressing her cheek. Haley shuddered, but tried her best not to move. She just wanted him to leave. She wanted this to be over. She stayed there, not moving except for her own breathing. And she was breathing. She could feel her heart dully beating in her chest. Her mind was focused on one thing. Getting out of there. She knew that she couldn't do that until she was sure he was gone.

Eventually, she tried to get up. She made it onto her hands and knees, crawling out of the alley, her hands scraping on the ground. Occasionally she stumbled. She made it back to that same lamppost she'd been standing at earlier before collapsing onto her back, gasping for air. She realized that she could barely open her left eye but could still make out the faint outline of Christmas decorations and twinkling lights on top of the post before blacking out.

"P. SAWYER, WHERE ARE MY FUSCIA PUMPS?" Brooke Davis was frantically searching for her shoes. She had other shoes of a similar color but she had her heart set on these. They were the perfect accent to her gun metal gray dress.

"I'll be up to help you look in a minute, Brooke!" Peyton made her way to the living room of the house she shared with Brooke in San Francisco, California.

The two made the decision to move from Charlotte, North Carolina when their best friend Haley James was accepted to Stanford University. San Francisco was less than an hour away. The three friends hadn't been separated since they met on the playground at four years-old. After high school, they realized that Peyton could study art in San Francisco and that Brooke could work on her fashion designs. With some help from Brooke's trust fund, they purchased a small condo. Haley spent as much time there as she could. If she wasn't at the dorms, she was at Peyton and Brooke's.

There bond was an unlikely one. But, as unlikely as it was, it was also unbreakable. Peyton was the artistic, moody one. Brooke was the cheerful, fashionable one. Haley was the intelligent one. That would be someone's opinion if they only looked at the surface. The three girls, who were more like sisters, knew that there was so much more to each other. Peyton may have been prone to moodiness, but she was also one of the most generous people you'd ever meet. You wouldn't want to get on Brooke's bad side, but if she cared for you then she cared about you with the ferocity of a mother lion. And Haley, well, she wasn't just intelligent but also saw the good in everyone and in every situation. The three bounced off of each other beautifully.

As children, Brooke's parents had left her in the care of their housekeeper. Peyton's mother died shortly after the girls met and, while her father Larry tried his best with his young daughter, she got her greatest comfort from her friends. Unlike Brooke and Peyton, Haley came from a large family. She was the youngest of seven – three boys and four girls. The James family took Brooke and Peyton in like they were children numbers eight and nine. They spent holidays and birthdays together. Haley's older brothers looked out for Peyton and Brooke the way they looked out for Haley.

Haley was grateful when Brooke and Peyton decided to come to California with her. They may have been nearly an hour away, but it was better than the alternative of 3,000 miles.

"Peyton, I can't find them!" Brooke's voice was filled with frustration and Peyton could only imagine the look on her face as she searched for her beloved shoes. Peyton had her foot on the first step of the stairs leading toward the bedrooms when she heard her phone ring.

"Hold on, Brooke!" Peyton shook her head, reaching for her phone. "You'd think she'd learn to clean her room," Peyton muttered, looking at the caller ID display and not recognizing the number. "Hello?"

"Peyton Sawyer?"

"This is her, can I help you?"

"My name is Officer Millard with the Palo Alto Police Department. Do you know a Haley James?"

Peyton's heart began beating wildly in her chest. Why would a police officer being calling about Haley? "Yes. Is everything okay?"

"You and a Brooke Davis are listed as her emergency contacts. I'm afraid she's in Stanford Hospital's emergency room. There's been an accident."

Peyton felt her mouth go dry and she reached for the railing of the stairs for balance.

"Peyton!" Brooke's shouting was now frantic and it snapped Peyton from her reverie.

"What kind of accident, Officer?"

"Ms. Sawyer, I think you should come down to the hospital. Can you make it here?"

"Yes. Yeah, we'll be right there. Emergency?"

"Yes, ma'am. I'm sorry I can't give you more details on the phone."

Peyton shut her phone without answering him. She sprinted up the stairs, taking two at a time and barreling into Brooke's room. She picked up the first pair of shoes she saw. They happened to be fuscia pumps.

"P. Sawyer, you are a lifesaver! Thank you so much!" Brooke hurriedly slipped the shoes on her feet and grabbed her clutch but stopped when she noticed the grave expression on Peyton's face. "Peyton, I heard your cell phone ring. Who called, Peyton?" Brooke's voice was suddenly calm but had an edge of worry to it.

Peyton cleared her throat and nodded her head, "It was the police. They said something happened to Haley and she's in the emergency room at Stanford Hospital. We-"

"We have to go now," Brooke finished Peyton's sentence for her. She yanked Peyton's arm and grabbed the car keys from the table next to their front door, tossing them to Peyton so she could drive. They got into the Comet and headed toward Stanford.

After twenty minutes of driving in complete silence, both of them thinking of a million scenarios, Brooke spoke. "They didn't say what happened, did they? You would have told me if they did."

"No. He wouldn't say." Peyton tried keeping her voice calm. She'd been trying to keep calm since she got the phone call.

"Peyton, I'm scared," Brooke admitted, her voice barely audible.

"Me too."

What should have taken them forty-five minutes took them just over thirty by the time Peyton steered them into the parking lot at Stanford Hospital. They both dashed from the car and through the sliding glass doors of the E.R. Brooke made it to the front desk first and slammed her palm on the counter.

"Haley James."

"Excuse me?" The nurse behind the desk looked incredulously at the two women in front of her. They made quite the picture, one in a satin gray cocktail dress and the other in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt.

"We're looking for Haley James. The police called and said she was here," Peyton said, more calmly than Brooke had.

"That's what I said!" Brooke's agitation was evident now that they were in the hospital.

"Are you family?" The nurse knew exactly which patient they were looking for. The whole E.R. staff knew who she was.

"Yes," both Peyton and Brooke answered.

"You'll need to speak with the officer first," the nurse informed them. She waved her hand at the officer standing in the hallway and he approached them.

Down the hall, Haley began to wake up. She opened her eyes, or rather her eye. She was still having trouble with her left eye. The brightness of the room was offensive to her eyes, causing her already painful head to ache further. She looked around, taking in her surroundings. She could smell something sterile. She quickly realized she was in a hospital. Her observations were interrupted when she heard a familiar voice from somewhere nearby.


Brooke. Haley knew that voice anywhere. Brooke may have sounded angry, but Haley found that comforting. Haley brought her hand to her head, trying to remember what had happened that night. She looked down at her arms and noticed bruises. As soon as she saw them, her memory flashed to how they got there. She remembered. She remembered him. She could feel him. Haley jolted up in the bed and leaned over the side, dry heaving because there was nothing in her stomach to throw up. She must have dropped something because she heard a clatter on the ground.

A nurse came running into the room to check on her when she heard the noise.

From down in the hall Brooke and Peyton heard a commotion from one of the rooms. They heard one of the nurses say the name Haley James and without waiting for anyone's permission, they went in the direction of the chaos. They stopped dead in their tracks when they saw Haley. Half of her face was covered in bruises, her left eye swollen shut, and her lip cracked open.

They recovered from their initial reaction and ran to her. She'd stopped heaving and was now grasping onto the railings of the bed for dear life as the tears flowed freely. Peyton and Brooke climbed into bed with Haley, taking her into their arms. Haley let go of the bed and grabbed onto her two friends. She knew that with what had happened tonight that she could count on them. She could hold onto them and they would be there for her.

"It's okay. You'll be okay, Haley," they both held her and tried to find words to comfort her. "We're here, Hales. We're not going anywhere."

"He raped me." Haley sounded like it physically hurt to say it. And it did. Saying it made it feel like someone was punching her all over again. Her sobs quieted down but the tears kept falling as she clutched even tighter to her friends.

Hearing Haley's words, Brooke and Peyton looked at each other. They were not only shocked but horrified and they tightened their grip on Haley.

The three girls hadn't noticed that a nurse, a doctor, and a police officer had come into the room. They'd been too busy comforting Haley. Eventually, though, the doctor cleared her throat.

The doctor looked to be in her late twenties. If it wasn't for the blue scrubs and white lab coat, they would have mistaken her for a nurse. "Ms. James, I'm Dr. Adler. I treated you when you were first brought in. We did a cursory examination and treated your cuts. You were somewhat coherent, going in and out of consciousness. From what was seen when you were found and from what we could tell, it did appear that you were raped. I just heard you tell your friends here, so that confirms it. What will happen now is that with your permission, we'll do a rape kit. We'll collect any evidence that may have been left behind. Like I said, that's your choice. I know it's a lot to take in right now. You don't seem to have any lasting physical injuries so we can probably release you by the morning. Do you have somewhere to go?"

"Yes," Brooke and Peyton answered quickly.

"She's coming home with us," Brooke answered.

"I don't want to be any trouble, guys," Haley protested.

"You've got to be kidding me, Foxy. You're coming home with us," Peyton answered with finality.

"Ms. James, I'm Officer Millard. I'll need to take a statement from you soon."

"You're the one who called the me," Peyton realized.

"Yes, ma'am."

"Haley, I'll understand if you want to take a few minutes but if you decide to go ahead with the rape kit, we need to do it as soon as possible to preserve any evidence and catch whoever did this," Dr. Adler told her.

Haley nodded her head, her mouth a thin line. "Okay."

"Haley, are you sure you don't want to take a few minutes?" Brooke soothed Haley's hair, her other hand holding Haley's.

"No. No, I want to get this over with."

"Okay, Haley. We'll get started. It'll just be me and the nurse here. This is Brandy. She's been helping with you since you were brought in. Officer Millard will be stepping out, as will your friends."

Haley looked a bit panicked, looking from Peyton to Brooke and back again. "I, I'd like them to stay. If I can."

"We're staying," Brooke announced.

"Okay, if that's what makes you comfortable, Haley," Dr. Adler smiled sympathetically.

Officer Millard left the room and Dr. Adler and Brandy began preparing the things they'd need.

"I'm going to have to ask your friends to get off of the bed while we do this," Dr. Adler requested.

"Peyton Sawyer," Peyton introduced herself. "And this is Brooke Davis."

"Ms. Sawyer, Ms. Davis," Dr. Adler nodded as she continued working.

Brooke and Peyton got off of Haley's bed, each standing on one side and not letting go of Haley's hands.

Haley looked down, biting onto her lip, not remembering that it had been split open. She immediately stopped. She quietly spoke, "I, um. I don't think… I don't remember him using a condom."

Peyton put her hand on Haley's back and Brooke placed hers on the back of Haley's head. They felt helpless, not knowing what they could do to help their friend.

Dr. Adler nodded her head and stood next to Haley's bed. "Okay. We'll look into that and we'll take the necessary precautions. This will be uncomfortable, but I'll try and make it go as quickly as I can, Haley."

Haley's palms were moist but she tightened her grip on Brooke and Peyton. Dr. Adler began doing her job and Haley tried to keep her mind off of what was going on. "I don't know what to tell me parents."

"Don't worry about it, Tutor Girl. Just worry about you right now, okay?"

"Brooke's right, Haley. You don't have to worry about anything right now but you," Peyton added.

"You guys didn't call them, did you?"

Brooke and Peyton could feel Haley occasionally squeezing their hands. Peyton looked at Brooke and then back to Haley. "I think we were so worried about getting to you that we didn't think about calling anyone else. But we can, if you want us to."

"I don't know," Haley flinched at something Dr. Adler did. She tried focusing on Brooke and Peyton. "I should probably let them know," Haley choked on her words, trying to keep the tears from coming again. "I don't want them to see me like this. I'm sure I look terrible."

"We'll call them when we're done with this, Hales," Brooke offered.

"Thank you. Both of you. Thank you for being here," Haley moved her hands and wrapped her arms around theirs, trying her best to hug them.

"We wouldn't be anywhere else, Haley," Brooke told her.

An hour later, the exam had finished and Haley had told Officer Millard everything she could remember. Dr. Adler was processing Haley's tests. The results wouldn't be in for two days but she put a rush on them. She had given Haley a sedative, knowing that the girl needed some sleep. Haley was under observation for a few more hours before they'd let her go home.

Once Haley had fallen asleep, Officer Millard asked to speak with Brooke and Peyton.

"I wanted to give you this," he said, holding out Haley's messenger bag. Brooke took it, clutching closely to her body.

"What happened?" Now that they weren't in the room with Haley, Brooke allowed a few tears to spill from her eyes.

Officer Millard frowned and put his hands on his hips. "A security guard found her on campus. He couldn't tell what had happened; he just saw that she'd been beaten. He called it in. I was the first officer on scene." The burly man looked down at his shoes and cleared his throat before continuing. "It was pretty obvious what he'd done to her. Another officer canvassing the area found her bag with her wallet and ID. That's how we knew to call you."

Peyton nodded and crossed her arms. "Thank you, officer. Is there anything else we need to know?"

"Well, she said she got a good look at him, so in a day or so, if she feels up to it, I think she should talk to a sketch artist. Might be helpful. Especially around campus. We wouldn't want this happening to anyone else. A Detective Calhoun will be here soon to take over. I'll talk to him and then he'll fill you in."

"Thanks," Brooke said softly. She took a seat on one of the chairs in the hallway, resting her elbows on her knees. With another nod, the officer left them and walked toward the reception desk.

"I hate this guy, Peyton. I fucking hate him and I want him dead," Brooke spewed, her tears still falling.

"I know, Brooke. I do too."

"Haley's never hurt anybody. She never would. And this…"

Peyton sat next to Brooke. As she sat, she felt the phone in her pocket. She breathed out, loudly and pulled it from her pocket. "You know what we have to do next."

"I do. I don't think I can, Peyton," Brooke confessed. "You know how emotional I get. I don't want to bail on you but this is…"

"It's fine, Brooke, it is. I had a feeling I'd be the one doing this. Why don't you go in and sit with her while I do this. I don't like her being alone. Even if she is asleep."

"Thanks, P. Sawyer. I don't know what I'd do without you," Brooke said, standing. She smoothed out her dress before picking up Haley's bag and taking it back into the room.

Brooke looked over at her slumbering friend. Haley was always someone who looked so peaceful when sleeping, but not tonight. Brooke could tell that she was frowning. Her hand held onto the hospital blanket, which was high on her chest, nearly to her neck. Haley's head was slightly to the side and even in the slightly dimmed room, Brooke could see the angry bruises on Haley's beautiful face. They were now changing color and the one that hindered Haley from opening her left eye was looking worse than it had when they'd first arrived.

Brooke yawned and looked at the clock. Two o'clock in the morning. They'd been there for two hours already, but it seemed like ten minutes. Brooke settled into the chair after moving it slightly closer to Haley. If Haley woke up, Brooke wanted her to see someone she could trust.

Peyton paced a few steps in the hallway before opening her cell phone. It was early, she knew that, but she hoped she would answer. After four rings, Peyton heard a groggy hello greeting her from the other end.

"Corinne, it's Peyton. I'm really sorry to wake you up, I know it's late."

"Peyton? Haley's… Wait a minute. Haley isn't here."

"I know, Corinne. I'm with her right now. Listen, there was an accident and Haley's gonna stay with me and Brooke for a few days."

"An accident? What happened? Is she okay?"

Peyton honestly didn't know if Haley was okay. She didn't know what to tell Haley's roommate so she just avoided the question. "She's going to stay with us for a bit. I was wondering if I could stop by and get some of her stuff for her. Just a few days of clothes and stuff. Like I said, I know it's late but we're here at the hospital and she'll need something to wear when they release her."

"Stanford Hospital?"


"I'll pack her a bag and be there in twenty minutes."

Peyton didn't even get a chance to argue before Corinne hung up. Peyton knew Haley would want as few people seeing her like this as possible. She didn't have time to think about that, though. Peyton's call to Corinne had been a way of putting off the call she really needed to make. She walked toward the reception desk, placing both hands on it and leaning.

"You okay, sweetie?" Another nurse replaced the one who'd been sitting there earlier.

"I have to call her parents. I have to tell two of the most optimistic people in the world that their daughter, who'd never hurt anyone, was raped by some, some, some disgusting lowlife who isn't even fit to be called a man. But, compared to Haley, yeah. I'm okay."

Peyton walked back into the hall and searched for the number she needed. It barely had a chance to ring before someone picked up.

"Peyton Sawyer. What in the world are you doing calling here at two o'clock in the morning? You're lucky Jimmy and I like to wake up early. You girls aren't drunk are you? Because if you're drunk dialing, you're going to have to do a lot better than the two of us. You're three gorgeous young women. There are boys to be called."

"Hey, Mama James," Peyton began, her voice cracking slightly. It did not go unnoticed by Lydia James.

"You're not drunk, are you?"

"No. Um… God, I don't know how to tell you this," Peyton sighed and shuffled her feet, running her hand through her blonde curls.

"Peyton, is it you? Is it Brooke?" Lydia James didn't want to ask if anything was wrong with her youngest daughter. She didn't want anything to be wrong with her youngest.

Peyton had done so well holding it together so far. She'd stayed strong for Haley and for Brooke, but hearing the worry in the voice of the woman who was a surrogate mother to her after her own had died was her undoing. Peyton choked back tears and spoke, "Something happened to Haley."

As they arrived home the sun was coming up. Corinne had arrived with a bag of Haley's clothes. Mostly jeans, t-shirts, and pajamas, but she'd also packed Haley's laptop in case she wanted to do any studying. Luckily, when Corinne had arrived Haley was still fast asleep. The girl could tell from the stressed look on Peyton's face that it was best to save the questions until later. She left, asking Peyton to call if she needed anything and leaving a trio of cheerful helium balloons for Haley.

True to Officer Millard's word, Detective Calhoun arrived and when Haley woke up, he went over her statement with her. Dr. Adler told Haley that she should return in two days and they could go over the results of her test. She would have to continue coming in for testing, though, for several months before she was in the clear. Haley was discharged with a small supply of pain pills for the bruises on her face and left in the care of Peyton and Brooke.

The drive home had been silent. On their way there, Peyton had broken the speed limit in her hurry to get there. This time, though she was in a hurry to get home, she drove at an acceptable speed. Occasionally she'd glance in her rearview mirror, seeing Brooke sitting next to Haley. Haley seemed to shy away from any contact, so Brooke gave her space. Haley's gaze remained focused on the scenery passing them by. She looked, but she wasn't truly seeing anything. She had her hoodie zipped up as far as it would go and kept tugging on the sleeves, letting them cover her hands. Her arms remained closed into her body. Brooke watched, worriedly, noticing that Haley would sometimes swallow hard, like she was trying to keep from crying.

As Peyton pulled the car up to their house, Brooke went to take Haley's hand as they walked up the four steps that led to the front door, but Haley flinched at the contact. Haley gave a quiet apology before taking Brooke's offered hand.

"You can take my room," Peyton offered as they walked in. "Brooke's is, you know."

"I'm offended by that, Peyton," Brooke replied. She wasn't really offended but she desperately wanted them to be able to get some semblance of normalcy for Haley.

"I can take the sofa. I don't want to be any trouble." Haley's voice was weak and hoarse, still tinged from the sedative she'd been given, along with the tears and dry heaving she'd experienced.

Peyton turned to face Haley and apprehensively took her hands in hers. "Haley, what did you tell me all those years ago when my mom died?"

Haley looked at Peyton, confused. She'd said a lot of things back then. They were six years-old and Haley couldn't figure out which Peyton meant.

Noticing the confusion on Haley's face, Peyton patted Haley's hands and smiled. "You told me something and I don't know if you've realized it, but it's something I've thought about a lot throughout the years. It's something that's made me feel better. You told me that no matter what, the three of us would always have each other. And we do, Haley James."

"I know," Haley answered.

"Okay. You know that. I can't tell you that I know what you're going through or that I know how you feel because I can't. But I do know you and I know you don't like to bother anyone. You like to shoulder things by yourself. Stop it. Let us help you. You have me and you have Brooke and we're here for anything you need. Right now, whether you want to or not, you need to be taken care of. Let us do that for you."

"P. Sawyer is right, Tutor Girl. Let us take care of you. Let us be at your peck and call," Brooke added.

"It's beck and call, Brooke," Peyton corrected her.

"Well, that too. Whatever. We're here. Now, let's get you upstairs, get you resting in bed."

Haley began walking up the stairs, Brooke and Peyton following behind her. As she climbed up the steps, Brooke removed her fuschia pumps and pulled out the large hoop earrings she had been wearing.

"If you guys don't mind, I think I'd really like to take a shower," Haley asked.

"Yeah. Sure, whatever you want," Brooke told her. "Are you hungry?"

Haley shook her head. "No, I just really want to take a shower. I just, I want to take a shower."

Haley's shower lasted for an hour. Brooke and Peyton stayed near the bathroom, listening for any signs that Haley needed help. Afterwards, she'd changed into a pair of flannel pajama pants and a short sleeved t-shirt. She'd fallen asleep almost immediately, but it wasn't sound. Peyton could see her face contorting as she slept. She'd roll over and try and find a comfortable position without fully waking up. Whenever she moved, Peyton would look up and wait to see if she was actually waking up. When she was sure Haley was asleep, she returned to sketching. Looking at the piece before her she saw the Haley that existed just twenty-four hours ago. This Haley had a face free of bruises. It was full of life and full of innocence. Her brown hair was flowing freely, her smile reaching her eyes, which were alight with joy. This was the Haley that Peyton desperately wanted her friend to be again.

Downstairs, Brooke tried to distract herself with Fashion TV. She and Peyton agreed that one of them would stay with Haley while the other stayed downstairs in case the police called about anything. They didn't want the phone disturbing Haley. She'd changed out of her cocktail dress and into a pair of sweat pants and a v-neck sweater, her hair out of its elegant up do and now in a ponytail. She twirled her finger in one of the tendrils falling at the side of her face and tapped her foot on the floor. Brooke Davis could easily become embroiled in Fashion TV but today that wasn't even working. Right now, all Brooke Davis wanted to do was make someone pay. Her thoughts of vengeance were interrupted when the doorbell rang. Brooke bolted, not wanting whoever was there to ring it again, not wanting Haley disturbed.

Brooke looked through the peep hole, surprised to see the two people standing there. But then again, not really surprised. They always rallied when it was needed. She opened the front door and launched herself into Lydia and Jimmy James, bringing them in for a hug. Jimmy dropped the two small suitcases he'd been holding and returned Brooke's hug. She stepped aside, letting Haley's weary parents into the house. As she ushered them into the house, she let a few tears fall. Her earlier anger was replaced by relief to see the two people who were like parents to her. She also felt sympathy. Haley was their youngest. They had seven children and Haley was the baby. She was also the kindest person any of them had ever met. Brooke looked at the two people who had just arrived and knew that they were hurting because their daughter was hurting.

"She's asleep. Peyton's upstairs with her. We didn't want her to wake up alone so we've been taking turns sitting up there," Brooke explained.

"I know we said we'd wait for you guys to call with more news, but we just couldn't," Jimmy told her. "We needed to be with her."

Brooke nodded, still crying. "I know." Brooke understood exactly what they meant. Haley wasn't someone who needed a lot of protecting, but that didn't stop the people who loved her from wanting to do just that.

"She's in Peyton's room since it's not messy like mine. You guys know me," Brooke shrugged. "But I'll clean mine up a little bit and you guys can take it."

"Brooke, we didn't want to be any trouble. We just wanted to see our little girl," Lydia said.

Brooke gave them a small laugh. "Haley said she didn't want to be any trouble when we told her she was getting Peyton's room. Peyton gave this great speech about how we're always there for each other, so let us. So, just take the room. Don't worry about it."

Jimmy set their suitcases in the living room next to the sofa before turning his eyes toward the stairs. "Brooke, I think we'd just like to see our daughter."

Brooke wrung her hands together, needing to explain to them. "The thing is, I don't want you to be shocked but I don't think I can stop that even if I warn you."

"Warn us about what, honey?" Lydia put her hands on Brooke's shoulders.

"He hit her. A lot. The bruising is… bad. She hasn't been able to open her left eye. The doctor said it'll be several days before the swelling goes down. So, she doesn't look like our Haley right now." Brooke looked down at her hands, not wanting to see the look on Lydia and Jimmy's faces.

Lydia placed her hand on Brooke's cheek. "Brooke, look at me." Brooke did as told. Brooke rarely listened to adults; her parents hadn't set the greatest example. Lydia and Jimmy James were different, though. Brooke respected them. "Brooke. Thank you for taking care of our daughter. Thank you for loving her."

Brooke nodded and her cry became more intense. "I'm angry. I know I shouldn't be saying this because right now we all need to focus on Haley and you just want to see your daughter and you came all the way from North Carolina to do it and I should let you just go upstairs to see her and not tell you that I'm angry and if I ever had ten minutes with the son of a bitch who hurt her he'd be dead."

"Brooke. Thank you," Lydia reiterated. She stepped away from Brooke and along with her husband, walked up the stairs to Peyton's room.

Lydia grabbed the railing for support. Brooke stayed at the foot of the stairs and watched as the two people she thought of more as parents than her own parents walked toward their injured daughter.

The next few days passed quietly. They were able to get Haley to eat and the swelling on her face was finally decreasing and returning to its normal shade. She began talking more and even laughed a few times. Having her parents there seemed to make a big difference. The house was crowded, but none of the five occupants minded. They were sitting around, watching The Philadelphia Story and eating macaroni and cheese – Haley's favorite – when there was a knock on the door. Brooke stood from her seat on the sofa and looked through the peephole.

"Hi, Detective. Come on in," Brooke stepped aside. Hearing who was there, Peyton hit pause on the DVD.

Detective Calhoun walked into the house and nodded a greeting to Peyton. He looked over at Haley.

"You're looking better, Haley," he sincerely said.

Haley had been leaning against her mother, a blanket over her lap. She sat up and gave him a small smile. "These are my parents. Lydia and Jimmy James. Mom, dad, this is Detective Calhoun. We told you about him." Haley's voice had returned to its usual tone in the past few days. It no longer sounded strained. She was beginning to sound stronger. Despite that return to normalcy, the four people in the room who knew her best could hear that something was missing. She sounded slightly numb.

Detective Calhoun shook hands with Lydia and Jimmy and they exchanged pleasantries.

"You can take a seat," Peyton offered, indicating the chair not far from the sofa. The man sat down and faced Haley.

"How are you feeling, Haley?" In the few days that the detective had gotten to know and spoken with Haley he had come to like her. He'd worked rape cases before and always wondered how someone could do this to a woman. Haley James was no exception. He hoped the news he was bringing would help her.

"Okay. I guess. My face is less sore."

"That's good news." Detective Calhoun leaned forward in the chair. "We have some news. We arrested a man this morning. Early this morning. He matches your description and the sketch that we made. We talked to a judge and got permission to take a sample of DNA. We're just waiting on the results. We're pretty sure it's him, though. If you're feeling up to it, it would be really helpful for you to take part in a lineup."

Haley stared at her hands. She bit onto her lip. The cut on it was closed. Biting her lip was a habit she'd had since childhood. She did it whenever she was deep in thought or nervous. She turned her eyes toward the window. Her left eye was opening up some, but not completely yet. She looked back at the detective.

"A lineup? Like in the movies? I'm in one room and he's in another and he can't see me?"

"Yes. Like that. He won't see you. We'll have him back in a cell before you leave the room."

"You're sure it's him?" She squinted her eyes, looking at the light blue rug in their living room. Peyton was sitting on the floor, leaning against the sofa. She wrapped her arm around Haley's leg, wanting to give her friend some support.

"I am. He left DNA and we took a sample from him. I'm sure it'll confirm it."

"What if it isn't him?" Haley's question was barely audible. "You think it'll help if I go down there?"

"I do. With your ID and the DNA results, we would have a strong case for the DA."

"When, when would I have to go?"

"Haley Bob, you don't have to do this if you're afraid," Jimmy told her, taking his daughter's hand.

Haley chewed on her lip again, grateful it was sealing where it had been split open. "If I don't, he could do it to someone else."

"That's a good way to think of it, Haley," Detective Calhoun encouraged her. "The sooner you do it the better. We could go this afternoon or you could do it in the morning."

"If I'm going to do this, I want to get it over with. I just want all of this to be over."

It did go by quickly. Before Haley knew it, Christmas and New Year's came and went. It was now mid-February, two months after her attack. She kept living with Brooke and Peyton and commuting to school. Her parents stayed until just after New Year's. Haley reluctantly let them tell her six siblings what had happened and why the three of them wouldn't be joining them for Christmas. Haley just didn't feel up to leaving for North Carolina. Instead, they, along with Brooke and Peyton, had a quiet dinner and exchanged a few gifts.

Haley's initial tests came back negative for any sexually transmitted diseases but she was still required to go in from time to time. True to what Detective Calhoun said, they had caught him. His name was Damien Smith. He was abandoned by his parents as a child and grew up in the system. Because of the DNA he had left and Haley's identification of him, the district attorney had no problem convicting him.

Haley awoke one morning and looked at the calendar. February 14th. Valentine's Day. Haley laughed. There would be nothing romantic about today. She wouldn't be attending classes. She had things that needed to be done. Today, Damien Smith would be sentenced. Haley had faced him in court already. With Brooke and Peyton sitting and watching, she had testified. It was the hardest thing she had ever done. When it was over, though, she felt relieved. She meant it when she told Detective Calhoun that she wanted this to be over and she knew she could help that by telling the jury exactly what had happened that night.

The evidence against Smith had been so strong that his public defender didn't even have a case. There were definitely times when Haley sat in bed, her knees curled up to her chin, holding herself in and trying not to break. She wallowed. She wondered why this happened to her. Without having to tell them, Brooke and Peyton knew that that had been Haley's first time. It wasn't how she planned on losing her virginity. But plans change.

She also had moments of anger. She looked at herself in the mirror, smoothing out the off white blouse she had paired with a black skirt that went just above her knees and a simple pair of pumps. Her rich brown hair was down, but had a clip to keep strands from falling in her face. She noticed the scar that was just below her left eye. Once the swelling had gone down and she was able to notice it she spent a good twenty minutes in the bathroom staring in the mirror. That scar, which would fade in time but not all the way, would always be there to remind her. Every time she looked in the mirror, she would see it.

Not that she needed a visual reminder. There were moments when she would wake up and not think about it. She would get up, begin her day, and then it would hit her like a ton of bricks. She wondered if that feeling would ever go away. She wondered if there would ever be a day that she didn't remember that she had been raped.

Today would not be that day. In addition to the sentencing, she also had an appointment with Doctor Adler. Generally for follow up appointments from emergency room visits a patient was advised to see a general physician. Doctor Adler had made an exception, knowing that Haley wouldn't want to share her experience with very many people. Doctor Adler had been there from that first night and knew the whole history of what had happened. She'd been taking care of Haley's testing since it happened.

After the first round of tests, Haley had to come in anyway so Doctor Adler could examine her bruises and cuts to make sure they'd healed properly. There were stitches to be removed from near her eye as well. That was when Haley had been told that the first rounds of tests were clear. Today, she'd be finding out about the second. Haley wouldn't have to be tested again until the six month mark and then six months after that. Then, she would be in the clear. Then, maybe this entire situation would be over and Haley could get on with her life. Then she could get on with finishing her junior year.

She hadn't told her roommate, Corinne, what happened. She just said that she needed to stay with Brooke and Peyton. Corinne had given her a confused look but nodded. She hugged Haley and that was that. They saw each other sometimes on campus, though. For the most part, Haley just went to class and stuck to herself. When Brooke and Peyton weren't working, they were with Haley. They didn't want to leave her alone and truth be told, Haley didn't want to be alone.

Going to the sentencing was something that Haley felt she needed to do on her own. Peyton and Brooke both protested. They offered to wait in the hall. Both had already sacrificed a lot for Haley over the past two months. Peyton had missed several art classes and a few shifts at the record company she interned at. Brooke had a website where she sold her designs and had gotten behind on a few orders.

Haley walked down the hallway at the courthouse, trying to keep her head high but not fully able to. She stopped just outside the courtroom where sentencing was to take place. She wasn't surprised to see Detective Calhoun walking toward her. The middle aged man had been there every step of the way. A part of Haley would miss him; she had come to trust him a great deal. But, he was just another reminder of this nightmare. Haley didn't want anymore reminders. She wanted nothing more than to forget.

"Haley, could you sit down for a moment," Detective Calhoun indicated the bench just behind them.

"Yeah, sure. Is something wrong?" Haley took in the grave look on his face. What now? She couldn't imagine why he looked like this. Today was supposed to be a victory for both of them. He had told her that they didn't catch very many rapists and it was nice to finally have one off of the streets and see a victim get some justice.

"The jail called this morning. They said that there was a fight between some of the inmates," the detective began.


Detective Calhoun nodded and continued, "He was involved. He was killed. He was stabbed by another inmate. I went down there and saw it for myself. He's dead, Haley. He won't be going to prison."

Haley let the news sink in. She didn't know what to say. The vengeful part of her wanted him to suffer in prison for the rest of his life. But there was another part of her who thought this might be for the best. Now, no matter what the sentence, he'd never be out there again. She didn't know how these things worked; maybe he could have been released on a technicality, or good behavior, or because of prison overcrowding. She had heard about overcrowding from something Peyton had watched on National Geographic.

"Oh," was the only thing that came out of Haley's mouth.

"I don't really know what to say to you, Haley. You've been really strong throughout this entire thing. You're a fighter. I know you'll be okay."

Haley nodded and began chewing on her lower lip. This was it. It was over. She didn't have to think about Damien Smith ever again. Other than occasional tests at the hospital, she was done. She knew it would be over today, she just didn't think for a second that this would be the way it would end.

"Thank you for everything, Detective Calhoun. I appreciate it. All of it," she stood up and smoothed out her skirt.

"Haley, you have my number, you call me if you need anything. Good luck with school," the Detective said, saying goodbye to this young woman who he'd come to admire.

Haley turned and walked away, hearing her heels click on the tile floor of the courthouse. She had counted on this taking much longer. She wasn't scheduled to meet Doctor Adler for another three hours. Haley stepped outside and walked down the stone steps of the courthouse. She took in the trees and the grass, which weren't very green because of the winter weather. She inhaled and exhaled, not really knowing what to do with herself. She felt like she should feel different. She felt like she should feel like there had been a larger impact. Maybe it just hadn't sunk in yet.

She walked up to the snack cart in the portico of the court. Ordering a coffee, she took a seat on a bench and looked at the people walking in and out of the building she'd just exited. This whole thing was ending as abruptly as it had begun. A slight winter breeze wisped through the trees. Haley sipped her coffee but found that it tasted bitter. Throwing it out, she began walking. She had taken the bus to the courthouse. The only car they had was Peyton's Comet. She debated whether or not she should call her friends but decided against it. They were both busy. She'd tell them when they got home. Maybe she'd cook dinner for them.

The three girls had been a lot together, much of it in the past two months. Haley knew she would have fallen apart without their support. She wanted to do something nice for them. She knew she could never repay them for their friendship and deep down she knew she didn't need to. She did want them to know how much they were appreciated.

Haley walked a few blocks before finding a bus that would take her to the hospital. She'd be early, but she would just wait in the lobby. She had a book with her; she could get some reading done.

She arrived at the hospital to find the waiting room surprisingly empty. Almost empty. There was an older man waiting with a bag of frozen vegetables over his mouth. Haley took an empty seat and began reading. She had only read a few paragraphs when Doctor Adler walked by.

"Haley. I thought we weren't meeting for another hour or so?"

"Yeah, I know. I just, the appointment I had earlier got canceled. I figured I would just wait."

"Well, let me take care of this patient and then we'll talk," Doctor Adler nodded toward the gentleman with the vegetables.

"You can take her," he offered. He removed the frozen bag to reveal a split lip. "This'll keep. I've had worse."

"You were here first," Haley protested.

"Ladies first. Especially young ones," the old man smiled.

"Doctor Pruitt will be done with his current patient shortly, then he can see you," Doctor Adler told him, smiling.

Haley stood up and grabbed her purse. "Thank you. Good luck with your lip," she told him.

She followed Doctor Adler to one of the exam rooms in the back. On their way, Doctor Adler grabbed Haley's chart from the reception desk. She'd had it ready, expecting Haley to come in. Haley took a seat on the bed as Doctor Adler sat on the stool.

"He's dead," Haley blurted out. She just couldn't hold it in any longer. She had to tell someone and Dr. Adler had been there since the beginning. She'd seen Haley at her worst.

"Excuse me," Doctor Adler questioned.

"Damien Smith. The guy who did this. Who raped me. He got into some fight in jail this morning and he's dead. I was supposed to go to his sentencing and now he can't be sentenced because he's dead. Although, I guess if you're religious, he has been sentenced. I didn't think of that earlier," Haley mused. "So, other than the two more rounds of testing I have to do, I guess it's done. I don't have to be reminded of this anymore." Haley was talking to herself more than the doctor now, but it felt good to say it out loud.

The doctor's face was serious. She held Haley's chart in her hand as well as a few brochures. "About that, Haley. About reminders."

Haley's heart sunk. She suddenly felt her stomach churn. What had that bastard done? What else was happening now?

"We found something," Doctor Adler said.

Haley had spent the past few hours baking. She needed something to do; she had to stay busy. By the time Brooke and Peyton walked into the kitchen after getting home they found three dozen cookies and a chocolate cake on the counter. Haley was in the middle of cleaning up the mess and deciding what to bake next after the apple pie currently in the oven was finished.

"What's going on, Tutor Girl?" Brooke inspected Haley's handiwork and looked at her friend. Haley had changed out of the earlier outfit and was now in a pair of jeans and a hoodie. "How did today go?"

"Well, he's dead," Haley replied, not facing them. She just kept cleaning the counters. "Bastard got into a prison fight and got himself killed."

"Oh," Peyton's reaction had been the same as Haley's. "Haley, what are you doing? With all the baked goods."

"Trying not to think. It isn't working," she answered. She finally faced them. They could see the stress all over her face.

Brooke took a few steps closer to Haley. "What happened with Doctor Adler?"

Haley shook her head and looked out the kitchen window. "When Calhoun told me he was dead, I thought I could be done with this. Two more rounds of testing and no more reminders. You know?"

"Yeah, that would be great," Brooke agreed.

Haley looked down at her feet, clad in a pair of Uggs. "Except I can't do that. They found something."

Peyton and Brooke both moved to stand right in front of Haley. They looked at her, waiting for her to tell them what was found. Brooke grabbed Haley's hand and led her to the kitchen table. Haley had stopped flinching when Brooke or Peyton went to touch her. It had taken a few weeks, but she now didn't think twice when one of them went to touch her unexpectedly.

After what seemed like an eternity, Haley finally answered them. Her response was quiet. It was almost like she felt like the quieter she said it, the less true it would be. It was true, though, Haley had seen for herself. Doctor Adler had confirmed it and handed her the literature detailing her options.

"I'm pregnant."

Note: Thanks for reading! It's been a long time since I've written anything so any helpful feedback would be great!