|Back To You
Author: HarleyQuinn23 PM
Nathan and Haley haven't spoken since graduation and never planned to again. That was before their son who they gave up for adoption comes looking for them. Can Jamie Scott reunite his parents and teach them what always and forever truly means? N/H with L/P and B/JRated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Angst - Nathan S. & Haley J.S. - Chapters: 31 - Words: 194,651 - Reviews: 680 - Favs: 162 - Follows: 236 - Updated: 02-11-13 - Published: 01-17-10 - id: 5674337
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Hey guys. Here's an update. Finally. Internship is brutal, but I wanted to get this up before it becomes super crazy. I'm having a ball, though. Great fun. Teaching is awesome.
This chapter starts us on the long (I won't drag it out too long) road of the trial. Forgive me if my legal know-how and jargon aren't perfect. My tudor was Law and Order. Ha. This chapter will focus on the testimonies of character witnesses. Don't forget, there is no jury in this case. It's in court for a judge to decide who should be Jamie's parents. No crime has been committed. Also, there is a pretty substantial time jump in this chapter. If a date is not indicated after my breaks, assume it is the same day. It's a longish one. Enjoy!
Shameless plug- Any Glee fans out there? Puck and Quinn fans? (Come on guys, they're like Naley) Anyway, I just wrote a one-shot about the aftermath of Quinn's accident. Check it out if you'd like. It's called Moment of Impact. ;)
To my readers and reviewers...I write for you all. Well, I write for me too, but you all are what make it so rewarding. Thank you so much for staying aboard this train. I appreciate your dedication. Here's a shout out to my reviewers:
Disclaimer- I do not own an ounce of One Tree Hill. The show and the characters belong to Mark.
Chapter 28- Truth and Testimony
Monday, July 12, 2021
Lucas was lost between a daydream and his frustrations with his new book as he stared at his blank computer screen, its cursor taunting him with menacing blinks. He squinted his eyes at his opposition and sighed when the page remained wordless. His current novel had him in a whirlpool of writers block, and it stumped him now more than ever. It wasn't that he was all out of ideas, though. Not Lucas Scott. He just wasn't exactly sure how to write this new book. He wasn't sure how to write a story that wasn't about his and Peyton's relationship. He had the characters, the setting, and the plot etched into his mind, but the words wouldn't come.
He looked from his screen to the window and sighed. It was a perfect day to write, and he was beginning to get mad at his wasted opportunity. A steady summer rain pinged off of the roof, and the light gray sky should have had him typing away in his own little world. But not today. With his eyes still out the window, he rose to his feet when he saw a familiar white truck pull up to the curb.
The distraction was welcomed. It was 12PM, and just like every day except for Sunday, Leroy was there to drop off the mail. Lucas knew the mail would get soaked in the rain if he didn't get it soon, so he hurried out the front door and down the sidewalk as fast as he could go. As he trotted back up to the house, Lucas slowed his pace when he saw a small white envelope with his name on it. It didn't look like a normal bill or letter, and he felt the seriousness of the envelope in its weight. The card's return address was from Raleigh and the State Seal of North Carolina was pressed firmly into the top corner. Stoping under the cover of the porch, Lucas read the subpoena.
Mr. Lucas E. Scott,
The North Carolina Department of Justice has hereby summoned you to appear in court on July 27, 2021. You are to appear as a character witness for the plaintiff in the Scott/James vs North Carolina Department of Social Services trial regarding the reinstatement of Mr. Scott's and Mrs. James' parental rights.
Your preliminary interview has been processed. You will testify before the honorable Judge Ralph Newton under oath. Report to Wake County Courthouse at 10:00AM on the morning of July 27. Failure to appear may result in you being held in contempt.
Wake County Clerk of Court
Lucas dropped his hand to his side and sighed. Had it really been eight weeks since Nathan and Haley had initiated the lawsuit? Had they been over in Raleigh for that long? Had the time really flown by that quickly?
He walked back into the house and glanced at the calendar on the side of the refrigerator. Sure enough, the twenty sixth was circled and had court written on it in Peyton's neat scrawl. The trial started then and the testimonies would follow. He guessed the defense would take the first couple of days to hear the testimonies of their witnesses, and then it would be Nathan and Haley's time. His time was the twenty-ninth. Lucas shook his head because he couldn't believe how time had passed. Where had June gone? What had happened to summer?
Curious if he would see a similar request for his wife in the pile of mail in his hands, Lucas thumbed through the rest of the mail until he saw an identical envelope with her name on it. He pulled it out of the stack and set it on the table so she would see it when she got back from a movie with the kids.
As he made his way back to his study to wrestle with his writer's block, Lucas wondered if there were other Tree Hill natives that had received the same notice.
A few miles away, Brooke had her own issues with Nathan and Haley's courtroom drama, but it had nothing to do with a small white envelope.
She had run into the local drug store to get a few things like nail polish remover, new razor heads for Julian, and bandaids for the boys because they couldn't seem to say away from trouble these days. She had only intended on making it a quick trip, but when she was at the register, something alarming caught her eye. Something on the magazine rack caught her eye.
Star Weekly ran a spread about some washed up actor making a comeback, but in the bottom right corner, Brooke recognized the second headline. "ESPN Star's Courthouse Nightmare." She also recognized the grainy picture of Nathan.
"What the hell?" Brooke said under her breath as she furrowed her brow and grabbed the magazine. "Why would they run this?" She said to herself. Didn't magazines have actual news to run, important things?
Brooke flipped through the glossy pages and stopped when she found the article on Nathan and Haley. She began to read to herself silently until the truth of the situation began to melt into vicious lies, which caused her to gasp out loud. Brooke's grip tightened around the paper as she read the inaccurate account of the custody battle. The magazine had the audacity to say that Jamie was an illegitimate child from a fling of Nathan's while he was a player at Duke. Haley was made out to be a cheerleader from a rival college, and a girl with no morals or regard for the child. The magazine had twisted elements of the truth, Nathan had in fact played for Duke and Haley had in fact been a cheerleader in high school, but the magazine had rewritten the couple's history. The magazine failed to mention, Brooke noticed, the fact that Nathan and Haley had been married. The child wasn't illegitimate. She didn't understand their angle. Nathan and Haley had been in love. So, as she continued to scan the page, Brooke crumpled the magazine in her hand when she read the last few lines.
Scott is using his fame and fortune to persuade the North Carolina court system to give him his son back. A lump sum of 50K has already been transferred from Scott's account, and is said to have been given directly to Social Services personnel. Money may buy many things, but will it work for Scott? The court date is expected around the end of July.
"They don't even know what they're talking about." Brooke said loud enough so the woman behind her heard. Her emotions were boiling, but she didn't care who saw. When it was Brooke's turn at the counter, she placed her small basket with her items in front of her, but held up her finger at the clerk and smiled. "One second." She ran to each magazine rack and snatched up every Star Weekly she saw and plopped them on the counter.
The older woman behind the counter laughed as the middle-aged woman stacked the magazines high. "Plan on doing some beach reading?"
Brooke smiled faintly and shook her head. Wrightsville Beach was known for its scenic views and Gulf-like water, but it was a gross, rainy day. There was no pleasure in reading theses magazines. "No."
Back at the house, Julian was editing a script when he noticed a voice come from behind the front door. He got up to see who it was, figured it was Brooke because she should have been back, but he couldn't tell what the noise was. Mixed with the sounds of rain and thunder, he didn't know who it was until he opened the door. Standing with six bags in her hands and damp hair from running through the rain, Brooke smiled as her husband looked at her hands.
"I thought you were just going to get a couple of things?" Julian said as he reached for a few of the bags.
"Change of plans." Brooke stepped inside and set the bags down and turned to get more.
"Wait." Julian said as he put his hand on his wife's shoulder. "Leave 'em in the car." He didn't see the point in her running back out to the car and get soaked all over again. "What'd you get anyway?" He looked into an opened bag and smirked. "Magazines?" He shook his head. "How many?"
"Twenty-four." Brooke said calmly.
"Twenty-four? Why did you get twenty-four magazines?" Half amused and half concerned about the sanity of his wife, Julian narrowed his eyes.
Brooke leaned down and picked up a magazine and flipped to the article. She handed it to Julian and he instantly understood. "They made Nathan and Haley look like monsters. Half of it isn't even true." Brooke's emotions were starting to show as a layer of tears coated her eyes. "It's not fair. They aren't doing anything wrong. They just want their son back. The press is acting like they don't deserve him."
Julian sighed. "Speaking of." He walked toward the kitchen and picked up two white envelopes and waved them in the air. "Look what came in the mail today." He handed Brooke her envelope.
"Is it..." Brooke knew the moment she read that it was from the Justice Department. "We've been summoned?"
Julian nodded. "I already talked to Lucas. He and Peyton got one too."
"I can't believe we have to go to court." Brooke walked closer to Julian and leaned into his chest.
He put an arm around her and sighed. "I know."
The whole thing was crazy, absolutely crazy. Brooke and Julian stood in front of the kitchen for a little while before Brooke went into the boys' room to check on them. She couldn't imagine what Nathan and Haley were feeling at this point. Did they even know about the bad press that the custody battle was generating? When was the last time they'd gotten to see Jamie?
As she peeked her head in the room, Brooke saw the twins playing a video game and stepped away so she wouldn't bother them. While she walked back downstairs, she thought that she would do the same thing Nathan and Haley were doing. If she had a child out in the world that was hers, she'd want him or her back. She'd do anything. Thinking about the court date and the time between then and now, she hoped that those two weeks would help Nathan and Haley get Jamie back. She hoped that court would go well and all of the testimonies would prove that they would make great parents. Time would only tell, however.
Monday, July 26, 2021
Haley paced through the loft as she waited for Nathan to come downstairs. She and Nathan had been living in a loft perched between a bank and health food store in downtown Raleigh for a little over a month, but it still felt odd. The furniture, the pictures on the wall, the exposed brick all felt out of place. Deciding to stay somewhere other than the hotel while they waited for the trial, Nathan had found the loft through a friend of a friend and they'd moved in as soon as it had become available. It was already furnished and was only five blocks away from the courthouse, so they jumped at the opportunity to live there while the trial lasted. Renting was an economical decision, but it also looked better in court. Living together as a couple "in a relationship" certainly looked better than living in a hotel. They were making drastic efforts to prove their dedication to getting Jamie back. And while their initial reason to move in together was solely for the sake of Jamie, neither of them could imagine living with anyone else. Nathan and Haley had grown fond of the arrangement.
When she heard the thud of Nathan's feet echo off of the spiral staircase, Haley turned around and smiled. Nathan was wearing a dark gray suit with a shirt that matched his eyes and a loose tie was draped around his neck. He reached for the ends but couldn't bring himself to tie it.
"My hands won't stop shaking." Nathan said nervously between an embarrassed smile. "I can't get it tied."
Haley smiled kindly and walked toward him. "I'll get it."
She reached up to his collar and flipped it up to make sure the tie was flat around his neck. Bringing the ends down to his chest, Haley began to overlap them and knot the tie. She slowly pushed the knot towards his Adam's apple and smiled when she folded his collar back down.
"How's that?" Haley raised her brow. "Better?"
"Thank you." Nathan said as he shook his head. "I guess I'm just so nervous..."
Haley reached up and caught Nathan's cheek in her hand. "Remember what Garrett said? We have to look confident. We have to look strong."
Nathan glanced down and nodded. He wished that he could be more like her. She looked confident and radiant. Her yellow blouse paired with a green sweater enriched the chocolate of her eyes. Her black dress pants looked professional, and her flats showed her vulnerability in her height. Nathan thought she looked absolutely beautiful. He could only hope that her confidence might somehow rub off on him.
He hadn't slept at all the night before. He had tossed and turned as each dream that circulated his head ended with a gavel slamming against hardwood, silencing any hope to get Jamie back. But what he didn't know was that Haley was struggling just as much as he was. She may not have showed any weariness on the outside as of late, but on the inside, her heart quivered as each secondhand clicked closer and closer to the time of their trial.
She needed him to be strong. He needed her to be strong. Today they needed each other more than ever.
"Whatever happens," he began.
Haley quickly stopped him as she pressed her finger to his lips. Their eyes locked and it was as of words weren't necessary, but she tried to reassure him. "We can't start thinking about the verdict or the judge's decision. It's up to him. And whatever happens..." Her voice began to tremble as her first line of defense to hide her own nerves wavered.
"Happens." Nathan finished.
Haley nodded as she smiled to try and combat the tears she felt forming in her eyes. She ran her hand down Nathan's cheek, down his broad shoulder, and then around to his back. Nathan stepped closer and wrapped his arms around her, hugging the fear out of their trembling bones. Haley rose to her tip toes and squeezed her eyes closed as she held on to him. She rested her chin on his shoulder and sighed.
Over the last few weeks, Nathan and Haley had remained coy about their relationship, their real relationship. To the court, they appeared to be a couple in love and as happy as ever. And yet, even though they loved one another, their relationship scared them just about as much as the trial. So many things could go wrong. It could turn badly with one wrong decision. Neither of them talked about it. If they didn't talk about it, their couldn't be problems, right? They danced on eggshells and hoped that things would turn out the way they wanted, but they hadn't really gone any further than superficial displays of affection, but they both knew that things meant much more than they appeared. Each hug and delicate kiss had a lingering effect of desperation. Each look and glance silenced the air. Each smile balanced unresolved temptations. It was confusing to say the least, but they both new that things had to be taken slowly.
So as the two adults held on to one another, their relationship was as hazy as ever. Love didn't come with rules or directions. The mess with Jamie didn't make things easier, but it was the support of one another that kept them going. Together, they were going to get through it.
"Hello? I'm here." A middle-aged man with jet-black hair and shiny shoes walked into the loft. It didn't take much to guess that he was a lawyer. His briefcase, haircut, and white teeth oozed court appeal. Garrett opened the front door and walked into the loft just as Nathan and Haley stepped away from one another. "Good. You both look great." Dressed and ready for court, his clients were sure to impress the judge. He glanced down to his watch and then nodded toward the street. "The car is downstairs." He clapped his hands together and smiled as he walked closer to Nathan and Haley. "You two ready?"
Haley's eyes widened as the truth of their reality reached its ultimate climax. She was ready, but something was out of place, missing. She glanced around and shrugged. She thought she had everything but she'd forgotten something. "I've got to run upstairs to get my purse."
Garrett nodded and both men watched her climb the steps. Garrett patted Nathan on the shoulder and smiled, trying to reassure his friend that the trial would be okay. Garrett had known Nathan for a little over ten years. They'd been introduced by a teammate of Nathan's years ago, and they'd done business ever since. Nathan had never really gotten into trouble, but having a lawyer-friend was never a bad thing. In times like this, it was a relief.
"How do you feel?' Garrett said with a sigh. He knew Nathan was struggling, so he wanted Nathan to get his nerves out before they walked into court.
Nathan shook his head. "I don't even know. Nervous. Anxious. Worried."
Garrett nodded because all of that was expected. "Just remember to stay clam. Try to be confident."
Cracking a smile, Nathan cut his eyes at Garrett. "You say that like it's supposed to be easy."
"Nothing's going to be easy." Garrett said with a smile to alleviate the seriousness. "I'm just trying to prepare you. We don't have control of what happens."
Nathan nodded, "That's what worries me."
Hearing the floor creak above them, Garrett glanced at the ceiling. "How's she holding up?"
"Better than me." Nathan said as he sighed. "I heard her crying the other night in the bathroom." He ran his hand across his jawline and shrugged. He remembered it well. Nathan had gone in there to comfort her and they had both wound up asleep on the bathroom floor. His neck hurt for the rest of the day, hers too. He ran his hand and behind his head and squeezed his neck remembering the stiffness. "It was the last day we got to see Jamie." Nathan's voice cracked and he shook his head. "But other than that, she's been good, really strong."
Garrett took a deep breath. "Be there for one another. Hold her hand. Do that in court. The judge is going to need to see your affection toward Jamie and each other. Everything counts." Bringing in a basketball analogy, Garrett smirked. "Today you've got to make all the shots and hope there aren't any fouls. We can't give the defense a good angle."
Nathan agreed. "I know."
Haley's footsteps softly thudded down the stairs, and both men smiled as she joined them. Nathan noticed that she had put on a darker shade of lipstick, but he liked it. She looked stunning. He just hoped that they looked the part of parents. As Garrett walked to the door, Nathan placed his hand on the small of Haley's back. He wasn't doing it to practice their public displays of affection. This was real; he was sincere.
Haley smiled and all three of them headed down to the street to get into the car. Today was going to be tough. It was going to be grueling. It would probably be exhausting. It would also be a day of surprises.
"Please rise for the honorable Judge Ralph Newton," the clerk announced as a man with a bushy mustache and salt and pepper hair took a seat behind the bench.
The man in the dark robe took his seat quickly and then placed small glasses on his nose. Nathan grabbed Haley's hand as they stood up. They locked fingers and glanced at one another as the judge began to read papers. Looking across the room, Nathan saw Jeff and Kathy behind the other desk. They were dressed in their Sunday best and holding hands as well. Feeling a slow burning creep up his throat, Nathan reached for a glass of water.
"Today we are here because Mr. Nathan R. Scott and Haley B. James have requested the reinstatement of their parental rights. Is this statement accurate?"
Garrett nodded as he flattened his tie. "Yes, your Honor."
Judge Newton placed the papers on his desk and removed his glasses. He looked at Nathan and Haley and sighed. They were about the same age and his oldest son. Nathan, he knew from his career as a Bobcat, looked nervous and clammy. The woman at his side was a bit more composed, but he could tell that she was scared. He had met them in his chamber a couple of weeks ago, and while they seemed like they would make fine parents, the boy's Foster parents were just as equipped, if not more so. Judge Newton looked to his right and saw the Joneses, Mr. Douglass, and their legal representative, Nick Anderson. This was a though case, and the judge wasn't looking forward to taking away someone's parental rights, but that was probably how it was going to turn out.
"Are there any statements that the defense or plaintiffs wish to make before we begin witness testimonies?" He waited for someone to speak.
"We have none, your Honor." The Jones' lawyer said.
"No, sir, your Honor." Garrett shook his head.
Judge Newton leaned back into his chair and sighed. "We shall begin with the defense's first three witnesses." He squinted at the paper on the bench and then glanced at Mr. Anderson.
"The defense calls Mr. Wade Seymour, principal of Needham Broughton High School to the stand."
A police officer that had been standing at the back of the courtroom opened the doors to allow a young man in a brown suit walk down the aisle. Haley watched the young administrator walk to the stand. She watched him take his seat and sighed to herself. She knew how educators worked, they were people pleasers, she just hoped that Mr. Seymour wasn't too good of a witness fir the defenense.
"Please state your name for the records." Judge Newton inquired.
The principal leaned close to the mike. "Wade Wallace Seymour."
The Jones' lawyer walked towards the witness as he buttoned up his jacket. "Tell the court how it is you know James Scott and the Joneses."
"I'm Jamie's principal at Needham Broughton High School in Raleigh. I have met Jeff and Kathy on many occasions at the school. They attend all parent-teacher conferences, open houses, and other functions that school allows parents or guardians to attend."
Mr. Anderson nodded and he walked to the stand and leaned on the wood. "Can you describe James Scott as a student?"
Principal Seymour smiled. "One of the best. He has great grades. I expect him to be a National Merrit finalist when the time comes."
The layer interrupted, "And why do you suppose the boy has excelled in his schoolwork?"
The young administrator looked to the Joneses and smiled politely. "I've found that good parenting attributes to the success of our students. Parents that are involved in their child's education make a huge difference than those who aren't. Jamie has been very lucky. I know that Mr. and Mrs. Jones make sure he reaches his fullest potential, which as his records indicate, are quite high."
Mr. Anderson furrowed his brow. "Suppose you removed James from the Joneses care, what do you think would happen?"
Principal Seymour scratched his well groomed beard and sighed. "With a student like Jamie, I feel like there would be a significant impact on his academic performance."
Mr. Seymour looked at Mr. Anderson and shrugged his shoulders. "Well, when you remove a child from a productive and nurturing environment, there are certain consequences that can occur."
Mr. Anderson smiled. "You're implying that the Joneses provide a productive, nurturing, and safe environment..."
Garrett stood up. "Objection, your Honor."
"State your objection, Mr. Anderson." The judge nodded so Garrett continued.
"The defense suggests that the Joneses are providing a productive and nurturing environment based on the testimony of someone that has not proved himself to be a child psychologist, your Honor. I ask to have that wiped in grounds of inflating the defense's ability to be good parents."
The Jones' lawyer smiled coyly. "I am simply gathering an opinion from a professional educator, your Honor. There is no intent to inflate the parenting ability of the Joneses."
The judge pursed his lips together and folded his fingers together. "Overruled. I'll allow it. Mr. Seymour has professional experience to make that kind of statement. Continue, Mr. Anderson."
Garrett sat back down and wrote something on his legal pad and slid it to Nathan. Do we have a witness that can provide education tidbits?
Nathan read the note and looked at Haley. He thought he remembered someone Haley had told him about. He reached under the table and tapped her knee to get her attention. Haley's eyes went from the witness to Nathan and then to the paper. She read the note and nodded.
She didn't need to explain to make Nathan feel better. Haley was a college professor after all, didn't that make up for all of the years they weren't there to parent Jamie through school?
Mr. Anderson walked to the far side of the courtroom and leaned against the empty jury box. "Tell me, Mr. Seymour, would James be alright if he was taken out of Needham Broughton High School? Would he be as successful in a different school rather than the one he is currently enrolled?"
The principal tilted his head. "It depends on the student. Jamie is a very strong student. I imagine he will be alright when..."
"Could you clarify what you mean by 'alright,' Mr. Seymour?" The Jones' lawyer said as he walked back toward the witness stand.
"Of course." The principal nodded. "I would expect his grades to remain relatively high. He would probably maintain his As. However, I think it would be challenging emotionally, to change schools this far in his academic career that is. He would have to adjust to a new environment. He would have to make new friends."
"So, you're stating that it would be harmful to move the child to another city or state?"
"Objection!" Garrett stood up again and shook his head. "You Honor, the defense is implying that my clients are going to take James out of his current school system. There have been no such plans made. There is no intention to do that."
"Sustained. Reword your question Mr. Anderson." The judge said as he looked from Garrett to the Joneses lawyer.
"Mr. Seymour, would it be beneficial or harmful to James if he were removed from his current environment?"
"I believe it would be harmful."
Mr. Anderson smiled. "Thank you, Mr. Seymour. No further questions." The Joneses smiled as he walked back to the desk where the Joneses were seated.
Garrett rose from his seat and walked toward the witness stand. "Mr. Seymour, how long have you been in the education field?"
"Eleven years." The principal said into the mike.
"And how many of those years have you spent as an administrator?"
"Four." Garrett nodded. "Of those four years, how many were at Needham Broughton High School?"
"And, how long has James Scott been at the high school? How many years as he attended?" Garrett raised his brow as he waited for the principal to respond.
"Three years. He just finished his junior year."
"So you missed his freshmen year, is that accurate?"
Mr. Seymour nodded. "I did."
"How many student are enrolled in your school, Mr. Seymour?"
"About twenty-one hundred."
Garrett placed his hand on his chin. "Tell me, how, in your two years at the high school and with more than two thousand students, you got to know James Scott so well?"
Mr. Seymour shifted in his seat. "I take great pride in getting to know my students. Jamie was also very active in SGA, school organizations, sports... He is a well-known and well-liked student."
Garrett was surprised at how well the principal retorted. "I see." He dropped his hand from his chin and walked closer to the stand. "Do you have children, Mr. Seymour?"
"I do." Mr. Seymour nodded. "A boy and a girl."
"If you found yourself in my clients' position, would you actively pursue your rights?" The principal looked to Mr. Anderson and then to his hands. He knew his answer wasn't going to be what the defense wanted to hear. "I would."
"If a student at your school were to..."
"Objection!" Mr. Anderson stood up and slapped his hands on the desk. "The defense is using hypotheticals, your Honor. The defense is leading the witness."
Judge Newton agreed. "Get to your point, Mr. Hamilton."
Garrett nodded. "Yes, you honor." He turned his attention to the witnessed and continued with the cross examination. "Is your school equipped with guidance counselors?"
Mr. Seymour nodded. "We have four."
"Would you say that they would be able to assist a student with personal matters, personal matters involving a student's home life?"
"I would expect so. Yes."
"Your stating that your school would be able to help a student adapt to a change in living situations or some other problem with the home life?" Garrett was very close to Mr. Seymour.
"It is their job to help the students, so yes. They would help a student adapt."
Garrett smiled. "No further questions."
Judge Newton looked at Mr. Seymour. "You may step down from the witness stand. The defense may call their next witness."
Nathan and Haley watched silently as the two lawyers cross examined the other witnesses for the next hour and a half. The first witness was Jeff's boss. He was a kind man and had great things to say about Mr. Jones. He was the first to say that there are no such things as perfect parents, but that the Joneses came pretty close. He'd seen Jamie on a handful of occasions, and by all accounts, he thought the boy was happy with them. The second witness was Kathy's sister, Helen. Helen was able to fill in the court about Kathy's ability to be a good mother. Kathy, like Haley, had come from a huge family, but she was the oldest. As the oldest, Kathy became a surrogate mother to all of her brothers and sisters. Helen had given a compelling testimony; tears had been shed when she pondered the thought of her sister being denied Jamie. The defense's witnesses were definitely doing their parts.
Garrett was able to get in a couple good countering remarks and questions, but if there was a score posted behind Judge Newton's bench, it would probably be 2-1 in the Jones' favor. Nathan's hand never left Haley's during the first half of the testimonies. He'd even put his arm around her when Helen started to cry because he knew Haley was fighting her own tears. And even though Garrett had encouraged that kind of interaction, Nathan did it because he wanted to.
Judge Newton taped his gavel three times to draw everyone's attention. "Court is now in recess." He was releasing everyone for a lunch break. "We will resume testimonies at one PM."
Garrett pushed his chair back on the hardwood and sighed. "Let's go to lunch. We can talk strategy."
Strategy was the last thing Nathan or Haley wanted to talk about. But walking back to court ill-prepared would be a mistake, and this early in the game they couldn't chance it.
Cafe Luna had been packed, but the food had made up for the crowdedness and chaotic routes and speeds at which the waiters hustled through the restaurant. Garrett had spent most of the time reading and glancing over his briefs and notes. He wasn't sure which witnesses the defense would pull for the remainder of court, but he needed Nathan and Haley to be prepared. He took a bite of his meal and then a thirsty gulp of his ice water.
"Best case scenario, it will be the Bells. You know them, or know of them. Worst case scenario, it's someone really good that's going to make you look really bad."
Nathan looked to Haley. "I don't have enemies. Sure I've had disagreements, but nothing that could be detrimental to the case."
Haley shook her head. "Me either." She didn't have anyone that she knew of. There was one person, but she was so sure he was off the defense's radar that it probably wouldn't matter.
"I think we've done a good job so far." Garrett set his glace on the table and sighed. "It's going to get tough when you or you," He looked at Nathan and then Haley, "take the stand. It'll be hard when the Joneses take the stand. Prepare yourself for Jamie, though. He'll take the stand in a week or two."
Haley placed her fork on her plate and looked down. "He has to testify?"
"Yes." Garrett nodded.
"But I thought he was supposed to stay away. We aren't supposed to have contact."
"Right, but he still has to testify and tell the judge what he wants." Garrett wanted to make sure they knew what was to come. "He'll tell the judge who he wants to be with."
Nathan leaned back in his chair and tossed his napkin to the table from his lap. He knew that the trial would take time, but the process was getting to him. It was wearing on his emotions and breaking his spirit. He couldn't imagine what it was doing to Jamie. How was he holding up? Was he doing alright? They hadn't seen him since last week, and it was killing Nathan to be kept away from him. He knew it was killing Haley as well.
Garrett checked his fancy watch and signaled for the check. He insisted that Nathan and Haley go on to the courthouse without him. He knew that they probably needed to be alone, away from lawyers, and away from the drama of court.
"Walk to court. It's just a few blocks north." Garrett pulled his wallet out and smiled. "The fresh air will help you clear your head."
"Thanks." Nathan smiled. "We'll see you in a little while." He waited for Haley to scoot out of her chair and the duo walked out of the restaurant together.
As they made their way down the sidewalk, Haley put her arm through Nathan's and she leaned into his side. The comfort of his strong arm provided a safe haven she could retreat into. He'd been great in court, allowing her to hold onto his hand when she needed it, but as she securely tightened her grip around his arm, she never wanted to let go. She had no idea what they'd be facing when they got to court, and if she knew what she was about to walk into, she probably would have never left lunch.
"I think things are going well," Nathan said as he tried to sound optimistic, but really it was too early to tell. "Garrett's doing a good job."
Haley agreed. "He is. I've been impressed."
The further they walked into the city, the tighter Haley's grip became. She had been washed by a wave of nerves, and she started to feel uneasy. These nerves were worse than the ones she had felt before court today. Her stomach was restless and her hands trembled with tempered anxiety. Nathan noticed her change, she'd gotten quiet, and slowed his pace.
"You okay?" He was concerned.
"I think...maybe it was lunch, but I don't feel well." Haley put the back of her hand against her forehead and sighed. "I'm not feverish."
Nathan touched her forehead and furrowed his brow. "You might be a little warm."
The late July sun wasn't helping at all. It was a blistering ninety five degrees with little wind. And what wind there was, felt like an oven's hot breath. Her nerves mixed with the hot weather were not doing Haley any favors.
Haley eyed a bench in the shade just outside of the courthouse and nodded toward it. "Can we sit?"
Nathan smiled sympathetically. "Yeah. Sure."
The stone was warm as they sat. Haley could feel a thin later of perspiration mask her forehead. The sitting was nice, though. These nerves were really something else. She'd never felt anything like them before. She felt like a stranger in her own body.
Nathan put his hand on her thigh and smiled. "You feel any better?"
How times had changed. Earlier in the day, he'd been the one struggling with his own emotions and nerves. Now it was her. He knew exactly how she felt.
Sitting was making it better, but Haley needed to be in air conditioning. "Let's go inside. I can go to the ladies' room and freshen up."
Nathan nodded. He'd do whatever she needed. As they walked up the shallow steps to the courthouse, Nathan placed his hand on her back to help guide her. She seemed fragile. "I'll wait for you by the doors. We'll walk in together," he said as they broke apart.
Haley smiled and went straight for the bathroom. When she got into the small room, Haley felt as if she was going to have a panic attack. She couldn't breathe. She couldn't concentrate. She couldn't do anything. She removed her cardigan and fanned herself with her hands. That seemed to help, but she needed something else. As she paced along the tiled floor, Haley watched herself in the mirror.
Why was it so bad? Why was she feeling so poorly right now? What did her body know that her mind did not? Haley took a couple steps toward the vanity and turned the sink on. She let her hands soak under the chilly water and that seemed to help a bit. She patted her cheeks with her cool hands, touched the back her neck, and took three very deep breaths. That seemed to help a lot, but her cheeks were still flushed and her eyes had a washed look of hopelessness. She closed her eyes and took three more deep breath through her nose.
"Confidence, Haley. Confidence." Those words felt foreign on her tongue and as she swallowed, so did the courage she'd been trying to muser up.
She placed her purse on the counter and fished around for her cell phone. A phone call back to Tree Hill sounded like it would certainly help right about now. Lucas would calm her down. Brooke might make her laugh, and Peyton would tell her to get a hold of herself. Before she found the phone, Haley saw the hold Cracker Jack bracelet. She wasn't even sure if Nathan knew she had taken it from the envelope, but she had. It was far too worn out and old to wear, but she'd grabbed it back at the Beach to remind her what they were doing, what she and Nathan were doing. She pulled the old charm bracelet from her purse and looked at it with a warm smiled spread across her lips. The plastic colors were faded, but they seemed to bring a certain life back into Haley that she'd been missing for the better part of an hour.
"Whatever happens," she said under her breath, "happens."
She didn't have the power to make up Judge Netwon's mind, but the bracelet reminded her that what ever the outcome may be, Nathan was going to be there when all was said and done. He'd be the one she'd celebrate with. He'd be the one she would cry with if the verdict went the other way. No matter what happened, she had him; he had her. The simple reminder that he was with her, fighting in the same corner, brought an abundance of refeif she needed. It wasn't that she'd forgotten that they were doing this together, but the stress and drama of it all had shadowed him for a brief moment.
Haley looked at her reflection and smiled wearily. She placed the bracelet back in her purse and pinched the clasp together. She checked her watch and knew that she needed to head back to the courtroom; Nathan was waiting. They had a little less than fifteen minutes before the testimonies would resume, and now that she was feeling better, Haley headed out of the bathroom.
The lobby of the courthouse was busy with men and women dressed in suits and fancy clothes as they waited for their own time in front of a judge or jury of their peers. Haley walked down the wide hallway and saw Nathan sitting on a bench outside of their respective courtroom. She smiled at him when he looked up. His forearms had been resting on his thighs and he looked like he was in deep thought. She hoped he hadn't been hit by the same nerves she'd just battled.
He glanced to his left, and then Haley suddenly knew what his body language meant. Garrett had told them that there could be often were surprises in court. Appernetly the surprise was sitting just across the way from Nathan. When Haley saw the man sitting on the opposite bench smile her her too, her heart plummeted into the depths of her stomach.
His name escaped her mouth, "Peter."
As she walked closer to Nathan, her eyes stayed on her former fiance. She never thought the defense would call him. But it was smart move for them, a very smart move. What better person to use against her than the person she abandoned? What better person could show her inability to commit to something? What better person was there to expose Haley's weaknesses and troubles?
The man in a navy suit got up from his bench as Haley approached Nathan's side. He had his glasses on and his hair was pushed up with gel. The blues in his outfit made his sea green eyes pop, and he walked towards her with a look of uncertainty and regret, a swirl of longing was mixed in as well.
Nathan rose quickly to put himself between them. He had tried to ignore the man sitting five feet away, but now he couldn't.
Peter held out his hand. "I just want to talk to her. Just for a second."
Nathan shook his head. "I don't think so." He wracked his brain for some sort of official reason they shouldn't talk. "Isn't that against the code of ethics or something?" The crease between Nathan's eyes deepen as he looked at Peter sternly.
Haley shook her head as she whispered. "No, it's okay. You just can't talk about the case." She didn't know what he wanted to talk to her about, but she might as well hear him out.
Peter raised his brow as if to agree with Haley. "I just want to talk. Just for a minute."
Nathan's lips pursed together. Which one was it? Did he want to talk to her for a second or minute? He felt Haley's hand on his bicep and sighed heavily. He wasn't going to tell her she couldn't. He wasn't going to tell her no. She was a grown woman and could make her own decisions. As much as he didn't want to, Nathan sighed. "Fine."
Peter nodded appreciatively and tiled his head toward the corner. "Let's go over there."
Nathan's eyes narrowed. Could he not talk to Haley in front of him? He began to feel his fists shake with an envious and jealous rage. Nathan couldn't stand Peter. If they weren't in court and the trial wasn't going on, Nathan's fists would pound the smirk right off of Haley's ex's face.
Peter put his hand on the side of Haley's waist as they walked around the corner. He pointed to a bench and they took a seat. He folded his fingers together and shook his head. "I've been trying to call you. I wanted to tell you that I'd be here."
Haley's eyes softened. She'd noticed several missed calls from his number a few weeks ago, but she had figured that he was trying to get her to come home. "I know. I'm sorry."
Peter looked around the courthouse and smiled. "I didn't know that this is what you wanted." He said it like he had somehow failed her, like he wished he could have been the one she was leaning on for support and not Nathan.
"He's my son, Peter." Haley shook her head slightly. "I want him in my life."
Peter's Adam's apple slowly dipped and came back up. "I know." He turned his body towards her and sighed. "I'm not here to tell the court that you won't make an amazing mother." He smiled. "I always though you would be." His genuine sincerity showed in the misty haze that settled across his eyes. "I just thought that it would be with me, with our kids."
Haley put her hand on his and squeezed. "I'm sorry that I hurt you." She knew an apology like that would never repair the damage she had done to his heart.
"I just want you to know that I wish you the best, that I'm going to answer truthfully and honestly."
She didn't expect anything less of him. Peter was a great man. While she wasn't expecting him to stand up and tell the court that she was a perfect human being and deserved to have her son back, she applauded his efforts to reach out to her. He was a character witness for the defense, so she knew that he would be asked questions that probably painted her in a dark light, but that was the price she was going to have to pay.
The sound of footsteps tapped off of the marble floor and both Peter and Haley saw Nathan round the corner. He sighed and tilted his head toward their courtroom. "We can go back in."
Haley moved her hand away from Peter's and got up quickly. She glanced over her shoulder to give him one last look and then reached for Nathan's hand. She felt his fingers wrap around hers and they headed for the courtroom. She had no idea what to expect when they crossed through the threshold of the double doors. To prepare herself, she could only expect the worse and hope for the best.
When they reached their spot behind the desk, Haley didn't immediately sit. She turned to face Nathan and smiled. He remained standing, watching her every move with a new look of worry. Her chocolate brown eyes looked up to his blue eyes and she sighed. Still holding on to his hand, she held it with both hands and looked at his knuckles as she brushed her thumb over the boney ridges. Swallowing the lump in her throat before she glanced back into his eyes, Haley smiled to comfort his nerves. She could sense his insecurity, his jealously, and his bitterness.
She stepped closer to Nathan and lifted on her tiptoes. "I love you, Nathan Scott."
He needed to hear those words so badly. He needed to feel her breath on his cheek. He needed her to remind him that he was the one she wanted and not Peter.
A relieved sigh slipped through his mouth. "I love you." He kissed her with his eyes closed and then they pulled apart.
Whatever Peter was going to say on the stand wasn't going to affect them. It may hurt their chances in their quest to get Jamie back, but his words wouldn't and couldn't break them apart. Nothing was going to break them apart. As they waited for Judge Newton to take his place behind his bench, they sat back down. While their strength seemed unbreakable, they both had no idea what they were up against in the this coming week and the weeks to follow. They would be tested like no other. They would be pitted against one another. They would have their emotions exposed and exploited. They would find out just how strong they really were.
It would all start when Judge Newton slapped is gavel against the wood to resume the trial. The truth of all of the testimonies would start to really matter.
So we have Peter's testimony coming. Don't forget the Tree Hill gang has to be cross examined as well.
Nathan and Haley discuss their relationship next chapter.
The return of Jamie is coming.
There will be media fall-out.
Hope you all like the chapter. Was the courtroom stuff easy to follow? I've never written anything like that. Like I said I don't have any idea how all of that stuff really works. I pulled from what I've seen on TV. Ha.
I'd love to hear what you all think about the return of Peter. What do you think his testimony will do to N&H?
Review please :)