Chapter One: Friendly Encounter

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Author's Notes: This is my first One Tree Hill fanfic. Any flames should be directed to me in e-mail. Other than that, comments, questions, suggestions, etc. would be greatly appreciated in a review. Also, I've altered this a bit to fit into my liking. (This is fanfiction, after all.) So, everything after this chapter is going to be what's going on in my imagination. :)

Disclaimer: One Tree Hill is not mine, nor will it ever be.

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"It's not that."

Haley James was silent for the next few minutes as she stared down at her plate. Really, why did she even bother? What had she honestly expected for him to say when his friends had asked him if they were on a date or not? That it was indeed a date? That he, the star of it all, was out with her, the tutor girl? The girl who was also best friends with his unwanted half-brother?

No, of course not, she thought bitterly. But then why did it hurt her so much? If she knew the answer, then she should have been expecting it. It shouldn't have hurt.


She looked up at him after letting out a loud sigh. The look on his face was one of worry; he was afraid of what she would do next. Quietly, she began to speak her mind.

"Does it really hurt your pride that much to be seen with me in public like this, Nathan? Does it?" she asked softly. She tried her best to sound calm about the whole thing, and so far, she was doing a pretty good job of it. "Because if it does, I could just leave right now and we could forget about all of this."

"I told you," he said. "It's not that."

"Then what is it? Would you mind telling me?" she retorted resentfully.

Nathan found that he couldn't respond to her questioning. All he could do was look at her, hoping that she could somehow read him through his eyes. Unfortunately, she didn't catch it.

"I'm going to go," she said quickly as she stood up from her chair. "I'll see you tomorrow."

He was just as quick to jump out of his chair to stop her. "Wait, Haley. You're getting this all wrong. Don't leave."

"I'm getting this all wrong?" She let out a quiet, bitter laugh. "You really think that I'm the one getting it all wrong? Nathan, take a good look of yourself the next time before you say that."

Nathan's gaze on her became more rigid, causing her to flinch briefly beneath him. Once again, he did not know what to say to her. Was he really the one who was getting it all wrong?

He snapped out of his thoughts when he suddenly felt her brushing past him, making her way to leave. On instinct, he reached out to grab her arm. She slowly turned around, staring at him.

He freed her arm before allowing himself to talk. "Please, at least finish dinner with me. I'll walk you home after that, and then you can be mad at you all you want."

With one look to his eyes, Haley gave in and sat back down.

Silence took over the rest of the evening.

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"Earth to Haley?" Lucas said as he waved his hand in front of her face. "Hellooo? Anyone there?"

"Oh," came the soft reply.

"You all right there, Haley?"

She looked at him, and then moved over to another corner of the counter, continuing to clean it spotless. "Sorry, Lucas, I didn't hear you come in here." She stopped for a minute and looked up at her best friend, smiling sweetly. "So, what do you need?"

"Need? No, I don't need anything. Just wanted to see how you were doing. You okay?"

Her smile faltered as she rolled her eyes playfully. "Thanks for your concern, but I'm fine. Really." She then went back to her job, hoping that he would buy it and ignore the whole thing.

Skeptic, Lucas raised an eyebrow. "You sure?"

She stopped and glanced up. Looking him straight in the eye, she said, "Of course. I mean, what do I look like to you now? Sad? Angry? Stupid?"

"Okay, okay," Lucas said slowly as he nodded, though still skeptical. "Okay." He turned around to look out at the windows. The instant he looked out, he had regretted it. "Look who's coming," he jeered as his face hardened. "The king of all assholes himself."

Haley looked up and saw Nathan approaching the shop. She already knew it was him, so she didn't know why she had even bothered to look up. "Are you going to leave?" she asked.

"Yeah," Lucas replied over his shoulder. "I'll talk to you later, okay?"

"Okay," she said. "Bye, Luke."

He made a move to walk out the door just as Nathan made a move to come in. Lucas decided to slide off to the side and allow him in first. Nathan entered, and Lucas left with no words exchanged.

With his hands in his pockets, Nathan looked around the shop. It wasn't until a few minutes later that he decided to greet her with a casual "Hey."

Haley seemed lost in her world of wiping tables. "Hi."

"So..." he started, obviously trying to make a conversation, "are you busy tonight?"

It took her a while to answer. She wasn't sure if she wanted to lie about this or not. But before it even registered in her mind, she answered, "Yes."

His usual cocky posture seemed to go slump for a bit. "Oh... well, what about tomorrow?"

She didn't know why, but the conversation was beginning to irritate her. Why did he want to know anyway? If she ended up saying yes, he would no doubt ask her to hang out. And knowing her considerate nature, she would eventually give in, and in the end, get hurt once again. What was the point? Why set herself up again?

"I don't really feel up to it," she said honestly, with an anger-free voice.

Nathan sighed. "Haley, come on. Don't be like this. You know I'm sorry."

"As you were a lot of other times before," she replied easily. "This isn't the first time, you know. You can't just keep expecting people to forgive you when you apologize to them."

He slowly took in what she had just said to him. Everyone else, with the exception of her and Peyton, had always forgiven him when he apologized. So why was it that she didn't want to accept it?

"Haley, I'm sorry, okay? I'm sorry I screwed up. Don't give up on me now. What do you want from me?"

She turned to him, her face solemn. "The truth, Nathan, the truth. I don't want your apology, I want to know the truth. If you can tell me that much, I'll be happy."

"The truth?" he asked, echoing her as if he had clue what she was talking about.

"Yeah, the truth," she said firmly. "Why are you so humiliated to be seen with me when your friends are around?"

"I'm not. It's not humiliation, really... whatever it is, I'm sorry. I don't mean it, but you are just my tutor, after all."

Right, she thought, just a tutor. "And that's the truth?"

He seemed hesitant to nod. "Yes."

She followed his suit, nodding. "Okay then. Good, thank you."

It was surprising how loud silence could be against his ears. He didn't know what else to say. "Are you busy tonight?"

"You already asked me that," she said. "I said yes."

"Well, you might've been lying to me."

"I wasn't. I have plans with Lucas tonight." Okay, so she was lying. But he didn't have to know, right? Besides, she wouldn't exactly be lying if she'd ask Lucas later to go see a movie with her.

Surprisingly, Nathan backed off. "Oh, what are you guys doing?"

"Just a movie."


Haley put the dishtowel down and looked around the shop before clasping her hands together. "Well, it looks like we're going to be closing up pretty soon, so... you should probably get going."

Nathan moved aside and nodded. "Okay. I guess I'll see you later then." He walked towards the door, where he paused momentarily. He suddenly turned back to look at her, and waved. "Bye, Haley."

"Bye." Haley gave him one wave of her hand before turning her back to him.

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