Author's Note: Here it is, finally, the last chapter. It's not that great, it took me forever to finally finish it because I kept putting it off. I hope that you guys are okay with how I end this. There isn't really any loose ends to tie up, it's just for closure, I guess. Enjoy and please leave a review.
Two seconds. That's all. It only took two seconds for countless people's lives to be ruined. Not only did this whole thing destroy Haley's life, it ruined mine and Brooke's, Karen and Taylor's, Deb, Dan, Lucas, that girl Courtney, hell I'll even count Nathan in on this because Lord knows that his life will be completely different now. I know that I keep comparing this to when my mom died, and as much as I hate to admit it, it's not the same. This is so much worse, so much harder. I mean, not only am I older so I understand everything a lot better, but this thing with Haley, what happened to her, it's the worse thing that could possibly ever happen to a person, in my opinion. Being raped, remembering everything that Nathan did to her, Haley's going to have to live with that for the rest of her live, and so are we. I'm going to remember that feeling of complete and utter devastation when Brooke told me what happened, the way my stomach dropped to my feet when the doctor told us that Haley will never be able to have children, or the way my throat closed up the first time I saw her living in her hospital bed. Everything that's happened in the last three days will be permanently embedded in my brain for all of eternity. And a part me knows that's a good thing. It's good that I always remember how close I came to losing her because then I'll never take her for granted. And if there's one thing that this whole experience had taught me, it's that anything could happen at anytime. It could have just as easily been Haley calling to tell me that there was an accident and Brooke had died. Then what would I have done? My best friend would have died hating me, and then I would have hated myself. I don't want to ever be in that position again. So from now on; it's me, Brooke and Haley against the world. To hell with anyone who tries to stand in our way.
"So," I begin, looking around the room nervously. Brooke and me are sitting together on the loveseat; Karen's sitting in the chair, while Taylor and Denise lounging on the couch. We've been sitting in silence since we came down here and since Brooke hasn't shown much indication that she was going to change that, I guess it's my job, which blows because I suck at small talk, especially with people I don't know. "You're the infamous Taylor, huh?"
"The one and only," she tells me with sort of a grin. If it hadn't been for the horrible situation, I can tell that she'd be just like Haley described her to be. She's just got something about her, like there's a look in her eyes that tells me she's wild. I think Haley was right; she's definitely the Brooke of the James clan. "Hay talks about me?"
"Only all the time," Brooke finally decides to cut in, remembering that I suck at things like this. I always wished that I had the ability to make small talk like Brooke does; she doesn't care about making first impressions at all. "You'd never know that there are like six of you. All I ever hear is Taylor this and Taylor that. It's quite cute actually."
"Ha," Taylor laughs slightly. "Haley-bub's always had that kind of big sister admiration towards me. Can't blame the girl, either."
"Maybe you're different around her," Denise muses, and I can tell that they're good friends. They have the same light air between them that me, Haley and Brooke have. "But if you're like you are back at school, I think I can definitely blame her."
"What's that you said about me being a comedian earlier?" she teases the other girl. Denise sticks her tongue out at Taylor, who returns the gesture, before the blonde turns her attention back to us on the loveseat. "So, which one is which? Let me guess, you're Peyton and you're Brooke." Wow, right on the first guess.
"Like I would ever have a stupid name like Peyton," Brooke snorts and I elbow her in the ribs. She gives me a lopsided grin and shrugs her shoulders. I ignore her and look at Taylor, nodding my head to tell her that her guess was right. "Good guess, Blondie."
"Yeah, I should warn you that she'll do that a lot."
"I think she's referring to my overuse of nicknames," Brooke answered for me, rolling her eyes. She doesn't think that it's annoying, but it is. Oh well, after fourteen years, I've gotten more than used to it. I've gotten more than used to a lot of Brooke's annoying habits, now I find them endearing more or less. Sometimes. On a good day, anyway. "You'll learn to love me for it."
"I'm sure I will," she answers, giving Brooke a strange look. "I actually tend to do that sometimes too. I mean, I still call Haley by her childhood nickname, and I don't think anyone in our family even remembers what it is."
"Aw, I didn't know Haley had a childhood nickname," Brooke gushed, and I can just tell that she can't wait to tease Haley about it later on.
"I'm sure it's better than the one you made up for her," I playfully snap at her. For someone who prides themselves on calling people by their nicknames, she doesn't come up with very clever ones. She fakes a gasp.
"I put a lot of thought into Haley's nickname," she defends and Karen and me shake our heads. If that took a lot of thought, that is so sad, I could cry. She can see what I'm thinking by the look on my face and she starts to get all defensive. "I did."
"That's so sad I could cry," I laugh at her, shaking my head and glance over to see that Karen is amused by it as well. Taylor and Denise look at us strangely.
"What's her nickname?"
"The ever clever Tutor Girl," I answered before Brooke had a chance to. Now that I think about it, I think that's probably the most famous of all Brooke's stupid nicknames. She's never called anyone by their nickname for as long as she's called Haley that. Hell, even Whitey's called Haley that before.
"That is pretty sad," Taylor laughs. After we explain the names origin to Denise, which takes all of about two seconds, we start talking about how we became friends with Haley. Apparently, the fact that Haley is friends with two cheerleaders is something that Taylor could never had fathomed.
"Well, I'd hardly say that we're regular cheerleaders," Brooke argues. It's so weird; she's always been so defensive when it comes to cheerleader stereotypes, yet she's never done anything to prove them wrong. I mean, me and Haley know better and we understand that what Brooke shows the world isn't her true nature, but it's like she holds a grunge against the world for not seeing past it, when she really doesn't do anything to prove them wrong.
"I'm not anyway," I say just to piss her off. I guess it worked, since she swats me in the arm. I give her a sweet smile and she rolls her eyes. I turn back to Taylor to continue our previous discussion. "I guess it's a little weird, that we're like the most popular girls in school yet we're friends with Tutor Girl, as Brooke so affectionately refers to her as."
"But Hales is way cool," Brooke quickly jumps in. I have to admit, when Haley first approached me to make sure it was okay that she was hanging out with Brooke as well, I thought it was a little strange and I questions Brooke's motives for a bit, but it's clear to me now that Brooke really loves Haley as much as I do. If this entire situation didn't prove that, I don't know what could. "She was totally there for me one hundred percent when Lucas ditched me, even though he was her best friend."
"Yeah, Haley is great," I agree. I can see the smile on Taylor's face and I hope that knowing Haley has good friends helps ease some of Taylor's fears about Haley being her by herself. We sit in silence for a little bit. I can't tell if it's a comfortable silence, everyone is busy thinking about Haley, or if it's an uncomfortable silence because nobody knows what to say about Haley next.Ding. Thank God.
"Dinner's ready," Karen informs us at the sound, as if we couldn't figure that out on our own. Wow, we've been sitting in here talking for a lot longer than I thought. It's been a couple of hours, when it only felt like a couple of minutes. Karen stands up and moves towards the kitchen to check on what the hell it is that she's cooking in there. She stops at the door and turns to look at the four of us just sitting on our asses. "One of you should probably go wake Haley up."
"On it," I declare, already half way up the stairs before anyone else has a chance to move. After her little conversations with Taylor and Brooke, and the reports that we've received from them, I really need a chance to talk to her myself, one on one to make sure that she's okay. I don't know why, but I just get the feeling that she's hiding something from them, something that for some reason, she might tell me. It's a stretch, a big one because really, she's no closer to me than she is to either of those two, despite what I'd like to think, but I want to at least try. I take Brooke's huge ass stairs two at a time and I finally reach Brooke's room, where Haley is currently sleeping. I raise my hand to knock on the door but I stop at the last second when I hear her voice.
"And I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, for whatever it was that I did to deserve this, I don't know what it was, but I'm so unbelievably sorry." I stare at the moment for a moment, trying to figure out who she could possibly be talking to, when I realize that she's probably praying. I can't recall a time when Haley went to church or talked about her religion in the past month, but now that I think about it, I imagine that she's probably a religious person, considering her views on sex before marriage and everything.
"I didn't mean it, I swear," she continues, and I think she's crying, but I can't be sure through the thick door. There's a part of me that knows that I shouldn't be listening to this, but it seems to be the only way that I'm going to find out of Haley really is dealing with this as well as she's trying to make us believe she is. "I know it was a stupid and horrible thing to do, getting involved with Nathan in the first place, given Luke's feelings towards him. And I should have listened to him, both he and Peyton tried to warn me about Nathan, but I wouldn't listen, I kept thinking that I could change him, that everybody deserved a second chance." I close my eyes and lean my forehead against the cool surface of the word, as if it would somehow make it better or that it would magically comfort Haley when I couldn't physically be there with her.
"Is this your version of an 'I told you so'? Is me getting raped by my creep of a boyfriend, your idea of fun and entertaining consequences? Is this your kind of karma? Because if it is, then fuck you!" I have never heard Haley sound so upset and angry before, but I certainly can't blame her. Hell, I'm just as angry with 'God' as she is. If ever there was proof that there isn't a God, it's this. How can someone who's supposed to be so loving, and so mighty allow something like this to happen, let alone to someone like Haley? What a load of bullshit that is.
"I didn't deserve this, I know I didn't," she cries and I'm glad to finally hear her say that. Me, Brooke and Karen have been telling her over and over again that this was in no way her fault, that she did nothing to cause this to happen and I'm just so thankful that she knows that. She kept saying that she did, but I wasn't so sure. "Nobody deserves what happened to me, no one, and I don't understand how you can let something like that happen to anyone when you're supposed to be this higher being of peace and love. But you know what, it happened, for whatever reason you had, you made it happen, and there's nothing I can do about it now, is there?" She's quiet for a moment and I'm wondering if maybe she's finished, if she just ran out of things to say.
"But I'm going to be okay," she finally speaks so quietly I can barely hear her. I'm not sure if she's feeling bad about lashing out or her voice is just too dry from crying. "I'm not sure what your plan for me was when you set this whole thing up, but it didn't work. I'm not going to let that prick ruin my life and destroy me, not for something like this. And I sure as hell am not going to let you, you selfish bastard, break me like I don't deserve a chance at a good life, because I know I do." You're damn right you do! I'm so overwhelmingly happy to hear that she's going to be okay. I'm not stupid, I know that she's not really okay right now, there's no way she can be, but at least she has hope of someday being okay again. That's really all that we can ask for right now. I can hear her moving around in there and I'm starting to think that she's bringing this little wrap session to a close soon. Then what am I supposed to do? If I knock, it'll be kind of obvious that I was listening, won't it?
"Obviously you don't give a shit about me, but can you at least not take this out on the people I love. My friends, my sister, Karen, you hurt them more than you know with this, especially Brooke and Peyton who think this is their fault. But it no, we know who's fault this is don't we? It's yours. I know that you seem to have some kind of problem with me, so I doubt that you're really looking to do me any favors, but could you just give them a break? Whatever your problem is with me is with me, not them. So just back off." I can't believe that after all this, and after everything that she said, she's worried about how we're handling this. Doesn't she understand that it doesn't matter how we feel about it. All that matters, to me or to Brooke, all that should matter to her, is that she's okay.
"I've always been taught that everything happens for a reason," she says sadly, and I know where she's going with this. "Whenever someone died, that all I ever heard, was that you had some kind of reason to take them away from everyone that loved them. Well, what was the reason for this, huh? What purpose did me getting raped serve, exactly? Did it make starving children less hungry? Did it stop some loser father from beating his children? There was no reason, was there? You just looked down on me one day and decided that things were going too well in my life and I needed some drama. Well, thanks, I appreciate it." Her voice is no longer shaking, meaning she's not crying anymore. "Glad I could entertain you."
I stand outside the door for few minutes, trying to decide what I should do. I want to leave her alone, give her some time to sort through her feelings, but I know that if I let her do that, it'll only led to bad places, places she shouldn't be. I know what it's like to be in a dark frame of mine, obviously I can't even begin to comprehend what she's going through, but I know from experience that when something bad happens, it's never a good thing to be left alone with your thoughts. All that does is kill you slowly.
I finally decide to just stand here like an idiot for a couple of minutes, that way she has time to collect herself and she won't know that I've been standing out here listening to her intimate conversation with the Big Guy. After about three minutes, I finally get up the nerve to knock, afraid that someone from downstairs was going to come up here any minute to see what the hell was taking me so long. I raise my hand slowly and knock gently.
"Hales?" I call softly, wanting her to know that it's me for some reason. I can hear her shift around for a couple of moments before the door opens slightly in front of me. She peeks out for a moment, maybe to make sure that it's just me and we're not here for some kind of intervention. After she doesn't see a group behind me, she opens it a little more. If I hadn't been standing here and listening to her crying, it still would have been obvious that she had been, but that just makes me prouder of her. She looks so small and broken, yet she somehow finds the strength to try to overcome this. "Hey, sweetie."
"Uh, hey," she stammers, surprised to see someone at her door. She's giving me a strange look; probably silently trying to deciding whether I was listening to all of that. I know it's wrong what I did, but I'm not going to tell her that. It would just make her uncomfortable, and that's the last thing she needs right now. "What's up?"
"Dinner's ready," I answer, making sure to keep a bright smile on my face so she can't tell that I was listening. "Karen told me to come and get you."
"Okay," she says simply. I can tell that she doesn't want to eat. Truth is, I don't think I can keep anything down still, but we both need something to eat even if it doesn't seem appealing. "Um, just give me a minute. I just want to get washed up a bit."
"Sure," I nod, not moving. She looks at me expectantly, trying to figure out why I'm still standing here. "I'll wait for you."
"You don't have to…"
"I want to," I cut her off. She is going to be so sick of us by the end of the week. It's so obvious that she's already getting annoyed with our constant hovering and it's only been half a day. We stand there for a moment in silence. Not knowing what else to do, I lean forward and kiss her gently on the forehead. "Go wash your face, I'll wait out here."
"Thanks," she whispers before disappearing behind Brooke's bedroom door. A few minutes later, a much fresher looking Haley opens the door, still clad in her pajamas and gripping her favorite teddy bear. As soon as she takes a few steps, I quickly wrap an arm around her waist to help hold her up. "I don't help walking you know?"
"Humor me," I say dryly, knowing full and well that Haley isn't up to walking yet, especially not down Brooke's huge ass stairwell. It's a challenge enough to walk them when you're healthy, she'd never make it in her condition.
"That excuse isn't going to work forever," she mumbles and reluctantly lets me led her towards and down the stairs. It takes us about twice as long to reach the kitchen, but we do get there, and when we do, Brooke, Karen, Taylor and Denise are already sitting around the table waiting for us.
"Hey, baby," Taylor says, being the first to greet us. Haley gives her a weak smile, probably too whipped out from the venture down the stairs to say anything else at the moment. I help her over to the table and she plops down in the chair beside Brooke and across from Taylor, leaving me to take the only seat left at the head of the table. "Did you have a good sleep?"
"It was alright," she mumbles, bringing Mr. Waffles up and hugging him tightly to her chest. I knew she wasn't going to eat anything, but at least she's not locked up in Brooke's room alone. She needs to be around people. She catches the look at Taylor is sending her way and she straightens up and rests Mr. Waffles on her lap. "You must be Denise."
"Yep," she answers, not phased by the situation at all. "And you're Haley, Tay talks about you non stop. You're like a celebrity." I glance at Haley and she can't help but smile a little bit at Taylor, who softens her expression and returns the gesture. "I pretty much know everything about your childhood it's ridiculous, really. I must say, you're much cuter than your school pictures make you out to be."
"Thanks," she says shyly, blushing a little bit. I can see Karen smiling proudly at her, like she was her daughter, which I guess she is in all the ways that matter. "It probably has something to do with the pajamas and teddy bear."
"Ah, you're just being modest," Brooke interrupts with a smile, nudging Haley playfully with her shoulder. "You're always adorable and you know it." Always knowing what Haley needs, Karen decides to rescue her.
"Alright, alright," she injects, reaching forward to grab the pot in the middle of the table. "Haley is cute, it's not like that's new information or anything. Why don't we start dinner?" Haley mouths a thank you to her and everyone nods. "Haley, you want any?"
"No thanks," she tells her as politely as she can. I know for a fact that everyone at the table is fighting the urge not to tell her she should eat something, but not one person says it. Karen nods sadly and takes the lid off to start putting some on her plate.
"What is it anyway?"
"Macaroni and cheese," Karen answers simply. That sure gets Haley's attention. She straightens up even more and peers past Brook to get a look at it. I glance over at Taylor to see that she's watching Haley reaction with a smile as well.
"Mac and Cheese?" she questions with interest. Karen smiles smugly at her and immediately passed the pot right past Brooke and into Haley's hands. Haley grabs the large spoon and starts piling the food onto her plate greedily.
"Hungry?" I ask with a smile and a raised eyebrow. She glances at me with a shy smirk.
"It the food of the Gods, man." Everyone laughs at her words and the rest of the dinner is eaten with comfortable conversation about anything and everything.
It's been hours since dinner and now we're all spread out over Brooke's large living room, watching Bring It On. We've been watching movie after movie since dinner and I think Karen left sometime during 10 Things I Hate About You because she had to get up early to open the Café.
I glance around the room to find that almost everyone is asleep. Denise had long since passed out on the chair, her legs now curled up underneath her. She had changed into something of Brooke's that was a little more comfortable after dinner. Taylor was also asleep at the end of the couch. Haley was also knocked out, Mr. Waffles wrapped in her arms, her head resting in Taylor's lap and her legs curled up in mine. Brooke is sitting on the floor in front of the couch, her head leaning against Haley's stomach so I can't tell if she's awake or not.
"Brookie?" I call softly, not wanting to wake up anyone. She takes so long to respond I assume that she's asleep too until she rolls her head to the side to look up at me.
"Everyone's out," I inform her as if she couldn't figure that out on her own. She glances behind her and sees the other three are indeed passed out.
"I guess they are." She actually sounds surprised by this. I guess she was really engrossed in the movie, even though I'm sure that she's seen it a hundred times. "Should we wake them up?"
"Might as well leave Taylor and Denise down here," I answered, starting to sit up. "We didn't even get a chance to set up a room for them yet. We should try to get Haley up to bed though, her current position can't be too comfortable."
"I don't know," Brooke smirks, looking adoringly at Haley's peaceful face. "She looks pretty comfortable to me." My eyes follow hers and I study Haley's face for a moment. She does look peaceful.
"I guess she just needed a little Taylor Therapy." Brooke nods, smiling at how cute the sisters look together and starts to stand up. She walks over and turns off the TV, moving the table back into its rightful place. By the time she's done fixing the living room up and comes back over to the couch, I'm already up and standing over Haley. She doesn't say anything, just leans down and runs a soothing hand over Haley's head.
"Hales," she whispers into her ear. She moves her other hand and grabs Haley's, loosen her death grip on Mr. Waffles. The touch seems to stir Haley. "Come on, let's get you upstairs and into bed, huh."
"Uh, five more minutes…" she mumbles and Brooke giggles lightly.
"Nope, come on, baby." She doesn't wait for a reply, but gently helps Haley's limp body into a sitting position and motions for me to give her a hand. Before long, we have her on her feet, but she's leaning heavily on me and we're practically dragging her to the stairs.
"You need an elevator," I mumble, tightening my hold around Haley's waist as we take the steps slowly. It was so much easier being a completely awake Haley down the stairs than it is to drag a drowsy Haley up the stairs. Go figure.
"Jesus, she's a cow," Brooke exclaims in a loud whisper when we finally make it to her bedroom. I kick the door open and we make it over to her bed just before Haley collapses on it. As soon as she hits the mattress, she's curled back up in her usual sleeping position. Brooke and I stand around for a moment, staring at her in a mixture of wonder, sadness, anger, helplessness and hope.
"Alright," I break through, shaking my head slightly. The word seems to have broken Brooke from her daze as she turns to look at me. "It's bedtime for Pey Pey," I decide, moving towards the air mattress that was set up on the other side of the room.
"Why don't you share the bed with us?" Brooke suggests before I can move too far away. I look warily at the bed, trying to see if we'd all be able to fit. "It is a King Size, we should all fit. Though, I don't know with Haley's big ass…" I laugh.
"Sure." I move back over to the bed and slip in on the other side of Haley, pulling the covers back over us. Brooke walks over to the door, closing it and turning off that lights before she gets in on Haley's other side. I can hear her shifting still until she finally decides on a position that she's comfortable with.
"I love you guys," Haley mumbled, probably having been woken by Brooke's movements. Brooke wastes no time, leaning over and kisses her on the temple, mumbling an 'I love you, too' to Haley and a goodnight to me. The shallow breathing of both signals that they're asleep.
It wasn't until two hours of complete silence later, that I notice that Brooke is still awake. I glance over at her to see if she's looking at me, or if she's looking at Haley, but she's just staring blankly at the ceiling. She doesn't even acknowledge the fact that I'm awake, which is what startles me when she speaks.
"Do you think she'll be okay?"
It's a simply question really. Something that I would normally answer 'yes' to without a second thought just to make her feel better, but I can't this time. That really is the million dollar question, that really only she can answer, but for some reason, Brooke thinks I have the answer.
I think back to the things that she said earlier when she thought she was alone, and I picture the look of pure happiness on her face as she laughed with Taylor about a silly story from their childhood. Haley is amazing at a lot of things; school, singing, dancing, taking, comforting, but masking her feelings is not one of them. If she says that she'll be okay, than I trust her.
"Yeah," I whisper back, a hopeful smile gracing my lips. "I think she will be."
That's all she wrote. I know it was disappointing, trust me, I'm disappointed with it as well, but I'm just so sick of stressing over it, I just had to finish it so I could focus on my other stories. This is probably my least popular OTH stories, which, I understand because it's so anti-Naley, but I hope that the few people who read this one, are at least semi happy with the ending.
Anyway, it's been a pleasure writing this story for the past year or so, and I hope that you all continue to support me with my other stories. Looks for updates for a couple of them soon.