"Hanging By A Moment" is the thirteenth episode of the first season of One Tree Hill and the 13th produced episode of the series. On their way to pick up Karen from the airport, Keith and Lucas' car collides with an oncoming vehicle and an unconscious Lucas is left fighting for his life. Having witnessed the accident, Dan races Lucas to the hospital and must acknowledge that Lucas is his son in order to save his life. Meanwhile, Peyton decides to tell Brooke about the kiss she and Lucas shared.
Haley is standing in Tree Hill Highschool's gym. She is standing with a ball in her hands waiting to shoot to score a point. A commentator discloses that she needs this to achieve her grade average as Haley gets more and more nervous. To one side of her, Lucas is standing telling her she can do it and to the other side, a topless Nathan is doing the same. The gym is in an uproar of cheers with "Tutor Girl, Tutor Girl don't screw up" chanting over and over. As she throws the basketball, Haley wakes up from a nightmare.
The following day, Lucas and Peyton pretend that the previous night, in which they kissed, never meant anything and it was a moment of weakness that should be forgotten about.
Continuing their therapy, Dan and Deb go to their next meeting. The therapist asks Dan about Lucas. First of all, Dan changes the subject of Lucas to try and deem the therapist unfit to be handling their relationship. But as the therapist continues to pressure Dan into an answer, he tells her about how he had to cut off the weaker part of his life that was holding him back, which meant Lucas and Karen. When he found Deb though, he saw a future with her and Nathan and stayed with her. Later on at highschool, the corridors are empty as Lucas starts talking to Peyton. He tells her that he can't just forget what happened between them and that he wants to be with Peyton. Feeling guilty, Peyton mentions Brooke, but Lucas doesn't want to be with her as she isn't Peyton. Agreeing, the two wonder about what they are going to do now that they both want to be together.
After school, Haley goes to visit Lucas. She tells him that she is failing gym and needs his help with basketball so she can pass. Lucas, occupied with his own situation, asks Haley if they can do it later and is just about to tell Haley about his problem when Brooke walks in oblivious to anything going on. Keith goes to visit Whitey at his office to congratulate him on his upcoming 500th game. Whitey is not as happy about this game and tells Keith he is thinking of stepping down. Laughing it off, Keith thinks there is no way that he will step down as he enjoys it too much as the look on his face whenever a game starts. After being rejected by Lucas, Haley goes down the river court to practice basketball. Unaware Nathan is there, she makes a fool out of herself due to her lack of skill. Although at first Haley tells Nathan he can't be there with her as it is too embarrasing, Nathan eventually helps Haley by teaching her how to throw a basket. Whilst Deb tells Keith that she doesn't think they could ever go back to the way they were, Dan is taking a run when he bumps into a woman. The two flirt and Dan is eventually invited round for dinner.
After inviting Brooke and Lucas round to help redecorate her room, Peyton is told by Brooke how much she likes Lucas and how much she has truly fallen for him. As Lucas and Peyton plan to tell Brooke that night about their affair, Peyton realizes what a bad idea it is and fakes feeling ill and tells them to go home; subtly telling Lucas that she does not want to go through with telling her their secret. Lucas and Brooke walk home together and Brooke asks if he's okay noticing he is acting somewhat anxious; Lucas just tells her he is anxious about his mom returning the following night because he wants to know if Karen and Keith are finally going to get into a relationship. Brooke also says she is anxious for the same reason and that she wants Karen to like her as she is such a big part in Lucas' life. Peyton comes to Haley for advice on her situation but saying it is a friend's life she is trying to help with. She asks Haley if it is worth risking a friendship for a relationship. Haley compares the situation with Nathan and her and relates to how she had to tell Lucas and says that best friends will always get through it and Peyton begins to feel better. Haley though then tells her that it is not as though Lucas and Nathan were dating, putting Peyton back to square one with her situation.
Going to see the coach, Nathan arrives at his office. Whitey has just read a note with three points on. The first two he has completed, but the 3rd 'to make a difference,' he is not so sure about. He asks Nathan who tells him he has, on his basketball technique. Not wanting this answer, Whitey tells Nathan to take his file and leave. Nathan does so but also accidently picks up Whitey's checklist.
After refusing to go for dinner with Dan, Nathan finds Whitey's list in his file before continuing to tutor Haley. Keith prepares Karen's house for her long anticipated return to Tree Hill. The next day at highschool, Haley runs up to Nathan ecstatic as she was good at basketball at gym class which she had been worried about. She says she is very thankful and owes him and Nathan immediatley takes her up on that offer and they both go to the library to research Whitey's past. Meanwhile, Peyton and Lucas sneak behind a bookshelf in the same library as Nathan and Haley. Peyton tells Lucas that their affair must be more than a fling as she wouldn't risk her friendship with Brooke for something that will not last. Lucas agrees saying while he did not wish to hurt Brooke, he must be with her (Peyton) and the two kiss passionately as Haley catches them together watching them kiss and is clearly disgustingly astonished.
Dan pays Keith a visit and begins blaming him for everyone leaving him. He calls Keith malicious as he believes it is all his plan and that Keith will always be alone. Furious, Keith tells Dan about Karen and him but Dan just laughs it off saying he will never be good enough for her. Later, Keith goes to the cafe for a beer. Advised against it by Deb, he tells her it is just because he is so nervous and it is only one, Deb agrees and serves him. Dan invites Carrie, the woman from the beach, around for dinner. As the two flirt, Dan finds a picture of him and Deb. He immediatley tells Carrie to go, but Deb walks in in shock at what she is seeing.
Apologizing to Deb, Dan tries to get Deb to stay and shows her the photo of them two. Deb although at first looking intrested, resists and tells him them that those two people have changed too much. As she storms out, Dan tells her that he still loves her, but makes sure Deb is too far away to hear what he is saying.
Haley goes over to Lucas' and asks about him and Peyton. Originally lying about it, Lucas realizes Haley saw him and Peyton together at the library. Haley then lectures him on how wrong his affair with Peyton is as he is with Brooke. Lucas says it's complicated but Haley says it was simple and that he should just "stop it" and then says how much he has changed. Lucas snaps back her saying it is really her who has changed. Haley is visibly shocked at the outburst, but Lucas brings up her relationship with Nathan and when Haley says she had only done it for him Lucas says, "Is that what you're telling yourself everytime you kiss him?" The argument ends with Haley storming out saying the next time he sees her not to talk to her. Meanwhile, Nathan pays Whitey another visit. He says that Whitey can't step down as he loves his job too much. He says that he loves yelling at him too much and Nathan likes making him yell. After he makes Whitey yell, Nathan tells him that he has made a difference, to him. The answer Whitey was looking for when he originally asked. Whitey then changes his note playing 600 games and decides to carry on coaching for the team.
Dan goes over to Deb's house. Originally planning to get back together with her, Deb hands over a divorce to Dan. Dan is furious and walks out of the house to drive home. After re-doing Peyton's room, Peyton tells Brooke she needs to talk to her; fully intending on telling her about her and Lucas's affair. Haley is still furious with Lucas and she tells Nathan what happened and as Nathan tells Haley how strange it is that Lucas is now the jerk, he lets slip that he originally was tutored by Haley to get at Lucas. Haley turns around in shock realizing what Nathan has done with her. Meanwhile, Lucas and Keith are going to pick Karen up from the airport. At crossroads, Keith pulls out not realizing his light was still on red. Another car goes plummeting into the passenger side of the car, Lucas' side leaving the fate of both the driver and passenger in the air.
Dan, who had seen the accident nearby, watches as Keith emerges from the wrecked car and quickly helps him. Keith climbs out shouting for Dan to get Lucas. Dan runs to drag Lucas out of the car and finds him unconcious and soaked in blood. Dan puts Lucas in his car and rushes him to the hospital. At the hospital, Dan brings Lucas into the hospital and when confirming Lucas was a minor, the doctor asks Dan if he is his legal guardian and Dan quietly tells him Lucas is his son so they will get him to the emergency surgery room needed to save him.
As Lucas is in surgery, Keith is asked how much he had to drink, not before Karen arrives at the airport with no one to greet her and Keith phoning the airport to tell Karen where they are. As Lucas in in surgery, he flatlines and the emergency medical staff are forced to try and ressusitate him before he dies.
- "Tutor girl, Tutor girl, don't screw up"
- - Cheerleader's chant in Haley James' dream
- "This game is what keeps you young. Without it, you'd be, I don't know...you'd be off somewhere babbling and wearing a dress"
- "You haven't seen me at home"
- "People that are meant to be together always find their way in the end"
- "If you weren't good enough for her then, what do you think makes you good enough for her now?"
- "The other day you asked me if you had made a difference, well you have, to me"
- "You're his legal guardian?"
- "He's my son"
- - Medical staff and Dan Scott as Lucas is rushed into surgery
- "Was that your jump shot? Because if that was your jump shot, I can't date you anymore. My mom said you would be here, something about a grade?"
- "Yeah , you cannot be here right now."
- "Why not?"
- "Because I look stupid."
- "You realize I've seen you in that crochet poncho thing you wear, right?"
- "Come on, this is embarrassing. I want you to think I'm not embarrassing."
- "You don't embarrass me, Haley."
- "Oh, yeah, OK."
- "OK, I take that back."
- "I can't do this."
- " Yes, you can like this. Alright, square your shoulders to the basket. Bring the ball up right past your nose like this, okay? Bend your knees a little, just relax your hips, and just shoot. Okay, that wasn't perfect, but it also wasn't embarrassing. It was actually kind of sexy."
- "The One You Want" - The Get Up Kids
- "Inside Of Love" - Nada Surf
- "Everybody Wants You" - Josh Kelley
- "Leaving Trains" - James William Hindle
- "Don't Confess (This Thing That Breaks My Heart)" - Tegan & Sara
- "All I Can Do" - Sandstrom Thomas
- "Pink Bullets" - The Shins
- "Brief Intermission" - Rob Momary
- "Most Of The Time" - Josh Canova
This episode's title originated from the song Hanging By A Moment, originally sung by Lifehouse.
- Karen Roe made her first appearance in this episode in 4 episodes.