AFTER TWILIGHT
Chapter Four: Trouble

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Author's Notes: IMPORTANT! This fanfic was written nearly two years ago when One Tree Hill JUST started. So obviously, Nathan and Haley are not together/married in this fic. Honestly, I never expected them to get married... and quite frankly, I'm not too thrilled about the idea, but what can you do? Not much, except for writing fanfiction. So here's my version. Much more romance and angst to come—that's what it's all about.

Thank you all for being patient with me! I have no excuse for my lack of updates in nearly two years... so all I can give you are my apologies.

And now, I hope you enjoy.

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"Hey," he whispered into her ear, as his arm snaked around her waist. "I've missed you."

"I was only gone for a few hours," she said, smiling. "And I know you're lying. Now, what is it that you want?"

"What?" he asked incredulously. He pulled away from her, and turned her around to face him. "You don't believe me? Are you trying to tell me that I can't even be nice to my wife without being accused of—"

"Oh, please. Save me the dramatics, Nathan. I know you, and because I know you, I know that your romancing affections come at a price. And I think I know what you want now." She turned back around, knowing that she was being difficult and loving it. "But now is not the time."

A little girl, about eight years old, suddenly bounced into the kitchen. "Mommy! You're home!" she squealed.

Smiling, Haley bent down to pick her daughter up. "Hey, were you a good girl for Daddy?" she asked.

"Of course!" the little girl said with a grin on her face. "I'm always a good girl for Daddy."

"Pssst! Haley? Haley! HALEY!"

Her eyes immediately flung open, and the sight that greeted her was an embarrassing one. She found that almost every possible pair of eyes within the room was staring at her. It was unnerving. Chuckling slightly in awkwardness, Haley sunk back in her seat as the teacher stared at her.

Beside her, Peyton was giving her a look of sympathy.

When had she dozed off? She couldn't remember.

"Are you okay, Haley?" Mr. Toney asked her in concern. Had it been any other student, he probably wouldn't have asked. But it was Haley who fell asleep, and she was one of his brightest students. He found it weird that she would snooze in the middle of his class.

"Oh, I'm fine, Mr. Toney. I'm sorry for dozing off like that..." she said quietly.

Mr. Toney gave her a smile and a nod. Then, turning back around, he continued his ramble on all things math-related.

The class ended half an hour later, and as Haley started to walk out towards the door, Mr. Toney stopped her short.

"Haley, can I please talk to you?" he asked.

Nodding dumbly in surprise (she hoped that he wasn't going to give her detention for sleeping), she came back in and stood in front of him at his desk. Nervous, she said, "I'm sorry for s—"

"Nonsense," he smiled. "Everyone's allowed an off day, Haley."

She let out a sigh of relief.

"I wanted to ask you something though," he said. "And you can decline this if you want, but I was wondering if you could tutor Ryan Chase? You do know him, right? The tall, blond-haired boy who sits in the back row with a bored-looking face every day?"

Haley nodded. How could she not? She had tutored him once before.

"And since you're tutoring Nathan, I figure that maybe you can add him on too? I'm not sure what areas exactly you're tutoring Nathan in, but with Ryan, it would only be for Math."

"That will be no problem, Mr. Toney," Haley said with a smile.

"Thank you, Haley. You may very well be Ryan's last savior."

- - -

"...so now I have to tutor them both."

"Wow," Lucas said with a chuckle. "Are you sure you can handle that, Hales? Two guys at once?"

The short brunette glared at her best friend. "Thanks for your help," she muttered. "I'm leaving now." She made a move to stand up, but was immediately pulled back down into her seat, where she landed with a big plop.

"You know I'm just kidding. I know you can do it."

Sighing, Haley stood back up with the dishtowel in hand. "Yeah, thanks. But seriously, Luke, Ryan and Nathan really don't like each other. Well... the hate's more on Ryan's side, but still, I—"

"You're worry too much, Hales," Lucas said lightly. "Just let things be. There's nothing much you can do to change the situation right now."

"I guess you're right. I can't change things now, but maybe I can change things when we all get together for the tutoring..."

"When is the next tutoring session anyway?"

Haley smiled over at Lucas. "Tonight."

- - -

"Haley! Telephone!"

"Got it, Mom!" Pause. "Hello?"

"Haley?"

"Nathan?"

"Yeah. Hey, I just wanted to let you know that I probably won't be able to make it to tutoring tonight. I have this thing with the guys that we've been planning for a while. I forgot to tell you that the other day."

"Oh." Was that disappointment in her voice? "Okay, that's all right. We can make it up another time."

"Great. Cool. Thanks, Haley. I'll talk to you later."

"Okay, bye."

"Bye."

- - -

Her doorbell rang at precisely 6:15 PM. 15 minutes. He never changed. He was always 15 minutes late. Why she was timing it, she didn't know.

"Hey," she greeted as she opened the door.

"Hi," the blond-haired boy greeted back.

"So here we are again." Haley shut the door. "It's good to see you again, Ryan."

"Yeah, likewise," he said, cracking a small smile at her. "You must think that I'm really stupid needing help with Math again this year."

Haley shook her head. "No, you're hardly stupid, Ryan. You just don't pay attention in class, and frankly, I have to be honest, you're also lazy as hell. The problem is that you just don't care. Even if you were stupid, that would have nothing to do with it."

"That's you, Haley," he snickered, suddenly turning cynical. "You were always the one who tried to make things seem better than they really are."

"You know I don't lie," she remarked.

"No, but you sure as hell have the talent to twist the words around to make them sound good."

"What can I say, it's a gift." She paused and looked over at him seriously. "And the truth."

"And there you go again," he muttered under his breath. Haley promptly decided to ignore it. Ryan Chase was never an easy person to get along with, but she put up with it because she knew that despite his crude attitude, he desperately needed a friend. She had once been that friend... until their tutoring sessions ended.

Nearly 45 minutes after starting their session, the doorbell rang.

"It's probably the pizza man." Haley immediately got up, and ran over to the kitchen table where the money was located. When the doorbell rang again, she shouted. "Coming!"

As she opened up the door, it revealed the last person she had expected to see.

"Nathan?"

"Hey," he smiled down at her. "Guess I made it to tutoring, just a little bit late."

"Yeah..." she said, and Nathan noted that she didn't sound all too happy.

"What's the matter?" he asked. "Not thrilled to see me?"

"Ha ha," she said sarcastically. "Hurry up, just come in."

Nathan stepped inside, but just as Haley was about to close the door, the pizza man came up on the steps. Exchanging her money for the pizza, Haley thanked him before going back into the house. When she entered the living room, she noticed that the air had changed completely.

Tense. Tense, that was what it was.

Before she could utter a word, Ryan abruptly stood up and curtly announced, "I'm leaving."

"No, Ryan, wait—" she began.

"We can talk about this later, Haley," he said tersely. "Just not now."

And she could say nothing more as she watched him leave. Then, slowly turning around, she met up with Nathan's unreadable face.

"Uh, pizza?"she said nervously as she offered him the box.

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