Author: thedreamygirl PM
Nathan tries to show Haley that baking can be fun, but they discover that cleaning up can be even more fun. Season One Fluff set after How Can You Be Sure?Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance - Haley J.S. & Nathan S. - Words: 7,119 - Reviews: 9 - Favs: 27 - Follows: 3 - Published: 01-23-07 - Status: Complete - id: 3357035
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Title: Little Things
Word Count: 6,700
Spoilers: Everything up to Season One's "How Can You Be Sure?"
Summary: Nathan tries to show Haley that baking can be fun, but they discover that cleaning up can be even more fun.
Author's Note: This is set some weeks after Episode 1.18 "How Can You Be Sure?" and it's around late November. Thank you to Diane for beta-ing for me. The story was almost a month ago written as part of the Dare You To Write Secret Santa Exchange, but I forgot to post it here earlier.
Characters: Nathan and Haley focused - other characters are welcome as the author would like to use them
Rating: Smut is always welcome :) Less than that would be fine if the author isn't comfortable writing it.
Season/Time frame: Season 1 - Holidayish.
Additional requirements: Nathan has to tutor Haley in something, a happy ending, and some Christmas tunes worked into the story in some way.
Nathan cringed as he heard his girlfriend's voice through the closed front door of her house. Being punctual was always important with Haley, but this time it wasn't his fault he was late.
The door swung open and one look at her face told him that wasn't going to cut it. Her petite frame didn't even take up all the space in the entrance, yet she still managed to look intimidating when she told him, "You said you would be here at 2 o' clock sharp!"
"But, Tim –"
"Don't blame this on Tim," she said, folding her arms as she moved back to let him in.
"But he's the one who showed up at my apartment just as I was leaving, wanting to play video games-"
"You're late because you were playing video games!" she exclaimed.
"No! I told him that I was coming over to see you, but then he said he wanted to borrow some of my games to play at his house, and I didn't know where I had kept a couple of them so we had to look for them."
"Well, if you cleaned up after yourself then you wouldn't have had that problem!" Haley huffed.
Nathan rolled his eyes, but didn't say anything. Haley was always going on about the mess in his apartment, and about how he should clean up, so he had gotten used to that. Now that he had finished pleading his defence, Nathan took in Haley's appearance. She had clipped her long brown hair back into a messy bun, revealing her slender neck to his eye. He could make out that she was wearing a green blouse and jeans, but just barely since the rest of her body was covered from his gaze by the giant apron she was wearing. It was this yucky creamy colour with lots of little red flowers and the thing was obviously not meant for someone as petite as she was. It reached her ankles and covered all of her front; she couldn't have come up with something better to cover herself up in and hide her amazing body from him if she tried.
Haley made a face at him, not missing his sarcasm. "This is the smallest one we have. Yours is on the table."
"Whoa, whoa – I'm not wearing an apron."
"Nathan! You promised you'd show me how to make this thing so I wouldn't fail Home Ec.!"
"And I will show you, Hales, but not wearing some grandma-size apron, I won't!"
Haley gasped. "This is my mother's apron! It's a good thing she isn't here to hear you call it that."
"I am not wearing an apron," Nathan repeated. "No way."
"Fine, but when you get your clothes dirty, don't come complaining to me." She looked up at him as she spoke and Nathan's attention was drawn to her nose, which appeared to be covered in a white powdery substance.
"Haley, did you start getting things ready?"
"Well, you were late so I took some of the stuff, like the flour and the chocolate, out. It'll be your fault if they've gone bad, by the way. What now?" she asked, when he only grinned wider.
Wordlessly, he kissed his hand and touched it to the tip of her flour-coated nose.
Haley smiled at that, but, not wanting him to know how much of an effect he had on her, especially through little things like that, tried to cover it up by commenting dryly, "How very Bugsy Malone of you."
It was Nathan's turn to be confused, and he wondered, "Who?"
"Never mind. Come on, let's get started." She turned around and Nathan was pleased to discover that her gigantic apron didn't block his view completely. The apron was secured with thin ties around her neck and her waist, leaving her back view completely unobstructed to his gaze. "I can't fail Home Ec.," Haley wailed as they walked into the kitchen, interrupting Nathan's thoughts.
"Don't worry, Hales. I won't let you fail, I promise," Nathan assured her.
"I still can't believe that you actually know how to cook," she commented as she sat down on one of the stools next to the island in the middle of the kitchen.
"Well, my grandmother always thought that everyone should know how to cook, so she taught me a few things. Baking was her specialty though, so when I was a kid I asked her to show me how she made her chocolate cake and brownies," Nathan explained. "It's been a long time since I've made it, but I should be able to remember most of it, I think."
"Wait, you know how to make brownies? Let's make those!" Haley said excitedly.
Nathan couldn't help but smile at her enthusiasm, but reminded her, "Haley, your assignment was to make a cake."
"Oh, yeah," she said glumly. "But chocolate cake is a lot harder than it seems!"
"I thought you chose chocolate yourself."
"One of the girls in class told me it was easy, but I think she lied so that she could get to make the sponge cake," Haley told him, grumpily.
"Well, don't worry, I'm going to make sure you have a perfect chocolate cake for your class tomorrow. For today, Haley James, I am your tutor."
Haley grinned at that. Hopping off her chair, she stood in front of Nathan and looked at him expectantly. "Okay, then; what's my first assignment?"
"How about you wipe that flour off your nose and then we'll get started?"
Nathan looked up from the baking tin he was prepping and glanced over at Haley. "You think the cake mixture is missing something?" he gestured to the bowl she had stopped mixing.
"No, I don't think so. I mean, I wouldn't know. I was just thinking that it feels like something is missing." She waved her hands around them trying to articulate herself.
"I don't know…just…" Haley's face suddenly lit up when she realized what she was thinking of.
"What?" Nathan wondered, having noticed the change in her expression.
She put the down the spoon she was holding and wiped her hands on her apron. "I'll be right back."
She ran out of the kitchen and into the adjoining living room. Nathan moved to the other side of the island so he could look out of the gap where a door should have been. She went all the way to the other side of the room and finally stopped at the stereo.
"We need music," she said as she turned the radio on. "Oh, I love this song!" she squealed. "Can you hear it in there?" she asked.
Nathan shook his head, then, realizing she wasn't looking in his direction, answered, "Nope."
"Okay, I'll turn it up." She did so, and Nathan recognized the song as Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You". "Can you hear it in there now?" she wondered.
Haley returned to the kitchen, humming the song, but less than a minute later she was singing parts aloud and moving along with the music. Nathan smiled at the display.
"You weren't kidding when you said you liked this song," he remarked.
"I love it!" Haley repeated. "It just makes me feel all happy and Christmassy," she admitted.
Shaking his head, Nathan put the baking tin down on the counter next to the oven before heading over to where Haley was standing and put his arms around her from behind. "Just as long as the 'you' you're talking about is me," he said, jokingly.
Haley grinned, in part from what he said, but also simply because he was so close to her. "Well…" Haley began, pausing the stirring she was doing and leaning back into his arms, "normally this is my and Mr. Waffles' song."
"Mr. Waffles!" Nathan grumbled.
Haley turned her head so she could look at his pouting face. "I'm just kidding, baby, of course it's you."
"Good." Nathan emphasized that point by kissing her lightly on the lips, and then moving to kiss the side of her neck.
Haley took in a sharp breath of air, before chiding him, "Nathan! Stop that!"
"Stop what? This?" Nathan asked with a smirk on his face as he kissed along her jaw.
"Yes, that. You should be concentrating on helping me make this cake, not…that," she finished with a sigh and Nathan worked his way up to her earlobe.
"But, how can I help it when you were shaking your ass, dancing like that?"
Haley blushed furiously, as she realized how all her shimmying around would have looked from Nathan's point of view. "Well, you don't have to look!"
Nathan moved his head back slightly, so he could stare incredulously at her face. "Baby, if your ass is moving I'm going to look. In fact, it doesn't even have to be moving; you-"
"Nathan!" Haley interrupted, before he could embarrass her even further. "Stop it! We have to finish the cake." She tried to move out of his grasp, but he didn't budge.
"Haley, I'm the tutor here, and I say you need a break. You said you didn't like to cook, right? Well, I'm going to teach you how much fun it can be," he said, dropping light kisses on her earlobe and finally one on the mole below her ear.
Haley shuddered at the touch, but shook her head. "I know you, Nathan Scott, and what you have in mind is definitely not cooking. Besides, there's plenty of time for that after we've finished."
Nathan relented, and let go of his hold on her waist, but not before promising, "I'm going to hold you to that."
He walked back to the other side of the island and once she had managed to clear her thoughts about Nathan's proposition as much as possible, Haley listened for the radio, which was now playing a different song. As Haley heard the bars of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," play, she commented, "It's kind of early for them to be playing only Christmas songs don't you think?" When Nathan only shrugged, she added, "I do like this song too, though. It always reminds me of Christmas."
Nathan raised an eyebrow at her. "Well, it is a Christmas song," he noted.
"I know," Haley rolled her eyes at him, "but what I mean is that it reminds me of the Christmas we normally have at home. See, every year, at Christmas, my Dad will play some songs on the piano, and sing them too, and this is one of his favourites so he always plays this one. So, whenever I hear it on the radio it makes me think of all that."
"Do you ever sing with your Dad?" Nathan wondered.
"Oh, no." Haley shook her head. "I couldn't."
"Why not? You were just singing a few minutes ago."
"No, I was singing-along."
"How is that different?"
"It is totally different. If I sounded bad there, then it doesn't matter because who can sound better than Mariah Carey? Plus, you've heard me sing before."
"Then, maybe it's time for you to open up to a wider audience," Nathan said pointedly.
"I'll be the judge of that, thank you. So, what do you normally do on Christmas?" Haley wondered, only partly so that she could change the subject.
Nathan's expression immediately became less animated, and he tried to look like he was busy doing something although he had already finished the tasks he had assigned himself. "Not much."
"Not much? So you don't do anything on Christmas?"
Nathan shrugged, without looking up. "We have a bigger lunch than usual; then we just take our presents and do whatever we want."
"But, don't you do anything special? Like, all of you together?"
"Nah. A lot of the time, my Mum's away at Christmas, helping poor families and sick children have a good holiday, so it's just me and my Dad and as long as he gets his fruitcake then he's happy. If they show a repeat of a basketball game we might watch it together," Nathan added.
"But that's not what Christmas is about! Okay, that's it, this year you are going to have a proper Christmas," Haley stated, putting down her spoon, as she started to think up all the things they would do. "You can come Christmas shopping with me, and we'll get a tree for your apartment, which we can decorate – and you can come over and help decorate our tree and –"
"Haley, slow down. Christmas is weeks away, and you really don't have to do all that."
Wiping her hands on the side of her apron, Haley moved so she could sit down on the stool next to Nathan. "But, I want to. I want you to have a great Christmas, Nathan."
Nathan smiled. "Look, if you want to do that stuff, then we can do some of it, but, as long as you're around, I'm sure it will be great."
Haley grinned, and placed her hands on his cheeks, drawing his head to hers so she could place a chaste kiss on his lips. When she broke away, she told him, "Thank you, but you might want to wait until you've been Christmas shopping with me to see if you still feel that way." Nathan chuckled, but before he could reply, Haley squealed again. "Oh my gosh, I love this song!" she said, a new one having started on the radio.
Nathan listened for it, and then rolled his eyes. "Another Christmas song?" he groaned. "Has this DJ not got a calendar or something?"
Haley lightly swatted him on the shoulder. "It's 'Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree'! Everyone loves this song. It's like a song for all the ages."
"No, it's a song for Christmas, and it's not even December yet-"
"I meant," Haley cut in, "that it's a song you can enjoy at any age. You know, my Mum told me this story about…oh, never mind."
"What? Tell me," Nathan prodded, a smile on his face.
"It's embarrassing!" Haley protested, a slight blush on her cheeks. She stood up and went back to her bowl saying, "Besides, the mixture is ready now and I have to put it in the tin."
"So you can do that while you tell me the story. Come on, Hales," he added when she shook her head.
She sighed, as she reached for the cake tin, but decided to give in. "It's not a big deal, it's just my Mum was telling me one time about how when I was a kid I used to have this dance that I would do to 'Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree'."
Nathan smirked at her and asked. "What kind of dance?"
"I don't know exactly, because I can't remember it. But all my siblings do; my sister Vivian says it consisted of a lot of shuffling and wiggling."
Nathan's smirk grew wider. "Wiggling? I would have liked to see this dance."
Haley glared at him. "I like to think that your three year-old self was not as perverted as you are now, Nathan."
"Hey!" Nathan feigned shock. "I can't help it if I appreciate a good view and I'm pretty sure I did then as well. Besides, I think you would have looked pretty cute when you were three," he remarked.
"Can you help me get this mixture into the tin? It's a bit heavy for me to hold and spoon it at the same time."
Nathan got up off his chair, and walked over to the other side of the island. "Now, there's a change of subject if I ever heard one," he commented wryly. Nathan held the bowl for Haley as she scooped up the mixture and put it into the tin. Glancing at her next to him, he added, "You know I think you look pretty cute now too, right?"
Haley blushed, but continued on with her task. "I thought you said I was wearing a grandma apron?" she stated nonchalantly.
Nathan chuckled and nudged her playfully. "No one can work the grandma apron like you can."
Haley laughed. She was about to come up with something in reply, when she realized that she had just finished with the last of the cake mixture. "Oh, look! It's finished!"
Nathan wrinkled his forehead in confusion. "You know we have to put it into the oven to bake first, don't you Hales?"
"Yeah, I know that, but I mean this is the last part that I have to do. Now, if it goes wrong, it's not my fault – it's the oven's for not cooking it properly. Or, if something is wrong with the mixture, then it's your fault because you're the one who told me what to do," she pointed out.
"Well, thanks for the confidence."
Haley was about to put the baking tin in the oven, but paused for a second to stick her tongue out at him. She then set the timer according to his instructions and took off the oven gloves, placing them on the counter. "Well, it's in so that's finally over with."
From behind her she heard Nathan say, "And now onto the best part."
Haley swiveled on her heel and stared at Nathan strangely. "Okay, did I just hear you correctly? Because I thought I heard you say that now's the best part."
"I did say that."
"But now the only things to do are wait or clean up, and you hate cleaning up; plus, you are the least patient person I know."
Nathan smiled. "This is a different thing. Or, a different kind of cleaning up."
Haley tried to raise one eyebrow at him, but didn't manage and ended up raising both.
Nathan sat down on a stool, sideways to the island, and put his hand out for Haley. "Come here and I'll show you."
Warily, Haley approached him and he pulled her into his lap so that her back was against the island. Then, Nathan reached behind her and took the plastic bowl they had been using for the mixture and put it on Haley's lap.
Even more confused, Haley looked up at him, craning her neck sideways due to their sitting position. "This is the best part?"
"What, you don't like sitting in my lap?" Nathan smirked at her.
"Now, you know that's not true," Haley said, a slight blush colouring her cheeks. "But, I know that's not what you were talking about just then. Spill it, Scott."
Nathan shook his head, laughing at her. "It's licking the bowl!" He gestured to the bowl, drawing Haley's attention to the left over mixture.
"Did you just say 'ew'?" Nathan sounded offended to Haley's ears.
"We can't eat that, Nathan! There was flour in there – and uncooked eggs! It'll make us sick or something."
"No, it won't-"
"I may not know much about cooking, but I do know that eating uncooked eggs is a bad idea, okay?"
"We're only having what's left in the bowl, which isn't much," Nathan pointed out. "And it's not going to make us sick, Haley. Whenever my grandmother made me cake she would always let me lick the bowl; it was my favourite part of cooking and I never got sick once." To emphasize his point Nathan rubbed his thumb along the inside of the bowl, gathering some of the mixture onto it, before popping it into his mouth. "See?" he said, once he had swallowed the mixture. "I don't feel sick."
Haley rolled her eyes, but rather than point out it would take longer than a second for him to feel the effects, she decided to risk it and try it for herself. She rubbed her index finger along the rim of the bowl, taking just a tiny bit of the substance and licked it off the tip of her finger.
Haley shook her head. "No, actually it doesn't. And, this is kind of fun," she admitted, with a smile.
Nathan grinned. "What did I tell you?"
"Okay, I'll admit it. You were right," Haley said, putting her index finger back in the bowl to scrape off more of the mixture. "But if I get sick from this I'm blaming you." She rubbed off a lot more than she did the first time she tried, and when she brought her finger up excess mixture started to drip off the tip of her finger. "Oops!" Haley exclaimed, and she was about to return her finger to the bowl so she didn't drip over the floor when Nathan swooped in and swiftly licked the tip of her finger, taking the sticky substance into his mouth.
Haley sat, stunned into silence, her eyes flitting between her gooey finger and Nathan's mouth, as she tried to process the fact that Nathan had just licked her finger – or part of her finger, anyway. She tried to tell herself that it wasn't a big deal, but her pounding heartbeat said otherwise. The feel of his tongue on her skin had only lasted for barely more than a second, but it had sent a jolt through her, and she was sorry it hadn't lasted longer.
She looked up at Nathan, whose blue eyes seemed to be processing her, and she noted that he looked a bit guilty. He opened his mouth to speak, and Haley realized that he was about to apologize, which was something she did not want him to do.
Instinctively, she put her finger on his lips; that same finger he had tasted a moment ago. Nathan's eyes darkened as he watched her curiously, allowing Haley to make the next move. Slowly, she traced his mouth with the tip of her finger, lingering on his lower lip.
Needing no further encouragement, Nathan lowered his head to take her index finger into his mouth. Haley sighed as the wet warmth of his mouth enclosed her skin, and her eyes fluttered half-closed as he started to lick off the rest of the chocolate-y mixture. Although Nathan was only touching a small part of her, Haley could feel it sending shivers all through her body. The thought passed through her mind that if this was the way she reacted when all he was doing was licking her finger, she might explode or something when they actually slept together.
And, there it was again; the big bad sex issue. It even put a slight damper – emphasis on the slight – on her reaction to the amazing things Nathan was doing with that mouth of his. When people said Nathan Scott had a mouth on him, they didn't know how right they were.
She may have said that she was going to wait until she got married to have sex, but Haley knew better than anyone that everyday that went by that she and Nathan spent together was another step closer to her caving on that resolution. She had tried to deny it to herself at first, but as things had progressed with Nathan she had given in and researched to find out a lot more on birth control. Haley James was nothing if not a great researcher and information finder. Yet, getting information, and actually putting that information to good use were two different things; and she had yet to use the information she had spent a whole day finding, after locking herself in her room, fearing her mother, or, even worse, her father, would come in and see what their baby daughter was studying.
But, with Nathan's mouth still caressing her finger, Haley couldn't stay wrapped up in her thoughts for long. She sighed when his tongue licked the skin between her middle and index fingers, before drawing it back into his mouth as he sucked the length of her finger. A few seconds later though, he reluctantly let go of her now clean, but moist, finger, causing Haley to let out an involuntary whimper.
Hearing it, Nathan smirked even wider, although Haley could tell that his eyes were watching her carefully, to see how she reacted. Haley had no idea what he expected of her though; how was she supposed to act after he had practically made love to her finger! She knew she was still iffy on whether or not she was ready for sex, but one thing Haley James was definitely not ready for was sex with a boy on her family's kitchen counter, which she assumed was usually the natural progression for Nathan from this point.
She should probably get up from his lap and start cleaning up. Like, actually washing up and not just licking the bowl clean. It would be the responsible thing to do. But Haley could still feel the wetness of Nathan's mouth on her skin, the sensation of it running through her, and she didn't want to be responsible.
Nathan tried to be patient as Haley had yet another conversation with herself; she seemed to be doing that even more than usual lately, and he was getting more impatient by the second. More than anything, right then, he wanted to kiss her. He could still taste the heady combination of the sweet chocolate mixture on her skin, and he wanted to share that with her. He wanted to kiss her until she stopped worrying about whatever it was she had on her mind, and got lost in the kiss; the way he always did when he kissed her.
She took Nathan by surprise when she wrapped her arms around his neck and placed her mouth on his. Haley was initiating their kisses more and more, but usually those were soft, gentle kisses and he had to be the one to push her further. This time though, she kissed him hard, her hands grabbing fistfuls of his hair to keep him in place. Her tongue traced over his lips, which he gladly parted for her, a groan escaping from him when she slid her tongue inside and flicked it over the roof of his mouth.
Enjoying the kiss far too much to start worrying so soon, Haley tried to stop thinking and concentrate on feeling; the way Nathan's full lips were pressed against hers, the way his hands were trailing up and down her back, pulling her even closer to him – an action which made the bowl on her lap even more unsteady as it was squeezed in between the ever declining space separating their upper bodies.
Nathan reached a hand between them to pick up the bowl, not breaking the kiss as he shakily dropped it on the island. Some of the sticky mixture transferred to his hand from the way he held it, but Nathan didn't realize until he returned his hand to Haley's waist and felt something gooey between his fingers and her clothing.
"Uh oh," Nathan muttered, breaking the kiss.
"What?" she asked, breathlessly.
"I, uh, think I got some of that stuff on your clothes," he confessed.
Haley quickly looked down to check, but soon smiled. "No, it's okay. You got it on my apron."
Nathan observed the brown mark on Haley's apron and breathed a sigh of relief. "That's lucky."
"That's not luck! That's the advantage of being prepared!" Haley exclaimed. "I told you this was going to happen when you said you didn't want to wear an apron."
"No, you said I would get my clothes dirty, and I didn't. Besides, it doesn't matter," Nathan brushed it off and tried to sneak in a kiss, but Haley put a hand on his chest to stop him from moving further.
"Well, the only reason it doesn't matter is because I'm wearing an apron, one which you insulted by the way."
"Haley; would you like me to apologize to the apron?"
Haley smacked him on the shoulder, before pointing out, "I just think you should admit that it wasn't a bad idea to wear it."
Nathan sighed. "No, it wasn't a bad idea. But, I think it'll be an even better idea for you to take it off now. I won't touch any more food, promise."
"Okay, give me a sec-" Haley began, about to get off Nathan's lap so she could untie the apron.
"Where do you think you're going?" Nathan tightened his hands around her waist. "Allow me."
With one swift tug his hands opened the ties around the back of her waist. His hands then danced upwards, gliding along her back until they reached her neck. Haley expected him to just remove the ties straight away, but instead Nathan's fingertips started drawing circles on her skin, around the white string. When he finally reached to pull on the ties and release the apron, he placed a kiss on the side of her neck, and Haley sighed, thinking that only Nathan could make her feel sexy while wearing an apron. After he hand removed the apron, dropping it to the floor, Nathan kissed his way upwards to take her lower lip into his mouth, and Haley corrected herself, knowing only Nathan could make her feel sexy, period.
Now that Haley's apron was disposed of Nathan could see that Haley's green top was actually a cardigan, which she was wearing unbuttoned over a pretty white blouse. He didn't have much time to admire her though, because Haley put her hands on his shoulders and pulled him forwards so he was kissing her once more. Nathan moved one of his hands from her head to rest on her lower back, to draw her closer to him. However, although their sitting position had been ideal when Haley had a bowl on her lap, now it was slightly uncomfortable. They broke the kiss to take in some much needed air and Nathan was about to suggest they move into the living room – he wasn't averse to going into her bedroom either, although he wasn't sure what she thought of that – when Haley kissed him again, only this time she did so on the sensitive skin behind his earlobe.
Haley smiled inwardly as she softly kissed his earlobe and felt Nathan shudder in response. She was always a little shy about taking the initiative and kissing him, but Nathan seemed to enjoy it, and she liked knowing that she could make him feel the way he made her feel. Daringly, her tongue came out to draw a line in the shell of his ear, and Haley could tell he liked it by the way his fingers gripped her hair a little tighter, so she did it again, before kissing a trail down the side of his neck. She came to a stop when she reached the small hollow in the base of his neck, revealed by his unbuttoned polo shirt. She brushed her tongue over it and-
"Haley, we're home!"
Haley practically fell off Nathan's lap when she heard her mother's voice come through the front door, and accidentally knocked the plastic bowl off the side of the island.
Ignoring it, Haley let her hair loose, before redoing her bun, which had become somewhat loose thanks to Nathan. "Quick, fix your hair!" she told him.
"Your apron and the bowl are both on the floor and you want me to fix my hair?"
"Lydia James can spot making out from-"
"You should know, Hales, that for what you and I just did to be classified as making out there would have had to be some-"
"Never mind! Just let me do it," she said, having fixed hers. She had to stand on her tip-toes to reach Nathan's hair so he bent down slightly for her. She spent two seconds trying to remember Nathan's normal hairstyle before straightening her palms and flattening it all down to his scalp.
"Hey!" he exclaimed and pushed her hands from his head. "I would never fix my hair like this!"
"Then fix it yourself," she told him, before rubbing her lips together in an attempt to spread whatever lip gloss hadn't been kissed off by Nathan.
"Haley?" they heard Lydia call out again, seconds before she entered the kitchen. "Ah, there you are. Oh, hello Nathan," she smiled at him.
He smiled back at her, lowering his hands from his head and shoving them into his pockets. "Hi, Mrs. James."
Haley heard her father call out, "Haley, honey, do you mind if I switch this radio off or are you still listening to it?"
"No, you can turn it off, Dad," she shouted back.
Surveying the room, Lydia wondered, "Have you two been cooking?"
"Baking," Haley corrected. "Nathan's been helping me with my Home Economics assignment."
"You keep an eye on that oven, Nathan," Lydia says seriously, "or Haley may burn this place down, taking all of us with it."
Nathan laughed, while Haley started to pout. "Mum! I wouldn't burn the house down!"
"Ahem," Lydia cleared her throat, and raised an eyebrow at her daughter. "I haven't forgotten the fire incident of 2002."
"That was an accident!"
"You started a fire?" Nathan exclaimed, having stopped laughing the moment he realized Lydia wasn't joking.
"No, there was just a little smoke."
"There was more than just a little smoke – half of it was from the fire extinguisher which your father had to use to put out the very real fire," Lydia remembered.
"Why did you take Home Ec.?" Nathan blurted aloud.
"It was either that or auto shop, and even with Keith's help I was worse at that," Haley said grumpily.
"Well, I'm glad to see you haven't burnt anything just yet, Haley. And that you like to cook, Nathan. Do you cook much at home?"
Nathan shook his head. "Ah, no, I only know a little because my grandma taught me when I was younger."
"Well, the fact that you can cook, even a few things, is great, Nathan. I think it's very important for a man to know domestic skills."
"Don't think I didn't hear that!" Jimmy James called from the living room, where he had settled in front of the television.
"Who do you think I meant to hear it, dear?" Lydia sent back, over her shoulder. Upon turning back to face them in the kitchen, she spotted the plastic bowl lying upside down on the floor. "Haley, honey, that bowl is on the ground. Cleaning up is an important part of the cooking process," she added, as Haley bent down to pick it up.
"We'll clean up, Mum."
Lydia turned to Nathan, and said, "You're not going to abandon my daughter when it's time to wash the dishes just because you did more of the actual cooking now, are you, Nathan?"
"Of course not, Mrs. James."
"Good; and don't forget to soap them up nicely."
"O-" Nathan began, when Haley interrupted, "Mum!"
"Now, Haley you have to start getting a handle on them now or it won't even take till your father's age – if you're not firm about it, five years from now he'll be handing over all the cleaning stuff to you."
"Was that another dig at me?" Jimmy called out.
"What do you think, dear?" Rolling her eyes, Lydia left the kitchen and walked to the living room to join her husband, leaving Haley and Nathan alone in the kitchen.
"I guess we better get started on washing this stuff, then." Nathan picked up Haley's apron off the floor and tossed it on the table, before taking the bowl from her hands and putting it into the sink. "It's a shame this fell upside-down or we could have finished it."
"Yeah…Sorry about that."
"It's okay. We can find other things to occupy our time with once we've finished cleaning up," Nathan said, looking over at Haley to give her a wink.
"Yeah, you don't have to do that, you know. I mean, just because my Mum said…that…you don't have to start washing up; I can do it myself. I know you don't like to do that."
"Well, I like to dry them even less than I like to wash them so how about I wash the dishes, and you dry them?" Nathan suggested, turning on the tap.
"Um, sure," Haley began, moving to stand on his left, "but you really don't have to clean up."
Nathan quirked a brow at her as he began soaping the things they had used to make the bake. "This is coming from the same Haley James who reminds me to clean up my apartment every time she's there?"
Haley smiled briefly at that. "Yeah, I know, I just…"
"Something bothering you? What, you don't think I'm going to clean them properly?" he added when she only played with the dishcloth, instead of replying.
"No, of course not!" she said straight away. "I just…what my Mum said…all that stuff…just pay no attention to her, okay?" Haley stuttered.
"So, I shouldn't soap them up properly? 'Cause I don't think just rinsing is going to get all the chocolate out of this-"
"No, not that bit. The thing that she said…that bit about…five years from now," Haley finally got out.
"Just…you shouldn't think anything of it. I mean, just because she said that, I don't want you to think that I'm expecting us to be together five years from now." Haley remembered doodling a heart in one of her notebooks the other day and writing "Nathan and Haley forever" inside it, but pushed that out of her mind as she said, "We don't even know what we'll be doing five years from now; where we'll be.
Nathan paused for a moment before simply asking, "No?"
"Well, you know, there's college and everything – plus we've got more than one and a half years of high school left. And I just don't want you to get freaked out by her saying that because it doesn't mean anything." Nathan smiled at her as if to show that she seemed to be freaking out over it a fair bit more than he was. Not knowing what to do next, especially not with this suspiciously calm Nathan, she remained silent next to him, taking the cutlery he handed her once he had rinsed them, and began to wipe them dry.
A few minutes later, Nathan said, "You know, unless they've invented this really handy robot that can do all this kind of stuff for you, chances are I'll probably still have to do the dishes five years from now. And, if that's the case, then I guess I'd rather be doing them with you."
Haley stopped wiping the spoon in her hands and took a moment to smile widely at that. She felt like saying something back to him, but everything that came to her mind sounded inadequate to her ears. She thought about telling him she loved him, but he already knew that, so, feeling the heat of his gaze on the side of her face, she simply kissed her palm and touched it to the tip of his nose, reminiscent of the way he had done that to her earlier.
Nathan chuckled in response, and playfully bumped her hip with his. Haley was about to return to her task of wiping up, when Nathan bent down to whisper in her ear, "That's not all we'll be doing five years from now."
Haley gasped and turned red, knowing full well what he meant by that. However, as much as she was embarrassed by it, she was excited by it too. Turning to face him, she grinned. "How about we finish this soon so we can finish what we were doing earlier in my room?"
Nathan's raised brows were evidence that he was surprised by her proposition, but the smirk on his face showed he definitely didn't disapprove. "I can have these dishes done in two minutes, tops."
"We can put them away later and say we left them to dry," Haley chipped in.
"My girl's so smart," Nathan said proudly, popping a kiss on her forehead as he quickly finished the dishes.
"Well, you know," Haley said, smiling at him, "I had a good tutor."
Nathan grinned. "So did I."