Title: Closure

Author: WildCherry45 (Janet)

Author's Email: drowninginyoublendsyahoo.com

Notes: AU, also set a few years from now. I got the inspiration for this after watching 21 Grams. This story is also based loosely off something I read in the BtVS verse. I can't remember the name of the story or else I would credit it.

Spoilers: None in particular. Maybe a few things here and there from the first season.

Rating: R

Disclaimer: I own nothing. WB & Company own all.

--

It's the simple things that are so hard to grasp.

--

Is this working? Am I supposed to- ahem Well, you've reached Haley James's cell and obviously I'm not here right now so you know, do your thing after the beep. Okay, what am I supposed to press now? I am pressing pound. It's not working. Oh, Oh, I think I've got- beep

--

"Ha!" Haley said triumphantly as she stabbed at the pound button for the last time, "I told you I could figure it out without your help."

Nathan tried his best to hide his laughter through coughs but failed sadly.

Haley's eyes narrowed as she squinted at him, her hands on her hips, "Are you laughing at me Nathan Scott?"

Nathan coughed loudly and shook his head innocently, "Never. I just," he struggled for words, "I just, I never thought it was that complicated to set a voice mail."

Haley scoffed loudly, "I'll have you know I got this contraption," she waved her cell phone in the air, "For you and for you only. I mean," she turned away from him, a small smile on her face, "the guy at the counter said I had 30 days to test it out and I could still return it so-"

"No, no," Nathan said hurriedly, "Don't." He walked up to her and wrapped his arms around her tightly, "I want to be able to reach you whenever," he kissed her neck softly, "Wherever."

"Isn't that a Cingular commercial?" Haley asked curiously as she cocked her head to the side, obviously enjoying the attention she was receiving from Nathan.

"Who cares," he muttered before he turned her body around, kissing her passionately.

--

"No, Nathan," Haley said angrily as she pushed him away, storming off for the door, "I don't want to hear it."

"Haley, please," he nearly screamed, his voice strained. He reached out for her but she only pulled her arm away as if it had been burned.

"Just leave me alone," she said venomously as she slammed the door to the apartment loudly as she made her exit.

It took him a few moments for him to finally move. Sliding down onto his couch, he stared blankly at the empty space in front of him.

She had to understand. He had to make her understand. But, she wouldn't listen. Not now.

Sighing, his hand slipped from his knee down onto the couch and bumped into a plastic figure. A phone.

He could call her. Leave a message. She wouldn't answer. He knew that. But, she might listen. Later. She just might.

Grabbing the phone, he gripped onto it tightly and shakily, he dialed the familiar number. It rang a few times before it clicked over to the voice mail.

Is this working? Am I supposed to- ahem Well, you've reached Haley James's cell and obviously I'm not here right now so you know, do your thing after the beep. Okay, what am I supposed to press now? I am pressing pound. It's not working. Oh, Oh, I think I've got- beep

"Haley, please," Nathan started, his voice hitched, "I need you to just listen. I'm sorry, I'm so so sorry. Please call me." The words slid from his mind as the desperateness settled within him, "I love you. Bye."

--

The phone rang.

3:09 AM.

Almost 3 hours since Haley had left. Nathan opened his eyes groggily as his hand floundered for the phone. Finally finding it, he answered it with a hopeful yawn, "Haley?"

"Is this Mr. Scott?"

Nathan rubbed his eyes tiredly as he sat up on the couch, "What?"

"Is this Mr. Nathan Scott?"

"Yeah," he replied as the sleep slowly dissipated from his mind, "What's going on?"

"Mr. Scott, do you know someone by the name of a," The woman was quiet for a moment as if she was searching for something, " A Ms. Haley James?"

"Yeah, she's my girlfriend." Nathan said, his brow furrowed as the worry began to sink in.

"I'm very sorry, Mr. Scott, but Ms. James passed away earlier-"

The phone fell from his hands and suddenly, the world went black.

--

"I got here as soon as I-" The words died on Lucas's lips as he took in Nathan's shaking body. Lucas was silent as he watched Nathan through pained eyes. Looking up at the ceiling, he sighed, "Her parents are coming soon, I called them," he whispered quietly.

"Did you tell them she's gone?" Nathan asked numbly.

"She's not gone," Lucas snapped, intertwining his fingers nervously, "She's going to be fine."

"She's dead."

Lucas pushed Nathan up against a wall hard as he leaned in close, "She's. Fine."

The tears slipped from Nathan's eyes as he shook his head.

Lucas stared at him shell shocked as his mouth tried to form words, "You said she was-"

"I lied."

It took him a few moments to regain composure and Lucas focused his mind on only one thing, "Why?"

"Because I knew you would break down."

"You're lying to me."

"She's gone."

"Stop saying that," Lucas yelled as he paced around the visitor's room, not even noticing the looks he was receiving from others, "She's not-" his voice was cracking, "She's not-" He felt his knees collapse as his whole body fell to the floor, "Dead."

--

She was so pale.

Nathan's fingertips touched the wodden casket briefly before his hands slipped down by his sides. She would've hated this. There was nothing but black and white all around. Hundreds of bouquets of flowers hung around the small room. Nathan frowned.

All this mourning. Haley would've hated this.

He looked back at her body. So pale. So cold. So quiet. Haley was never like this. She was always so alive, so warm, so lively. She could breathe life and happiness into anyone. She helped him live again.

Now, he wished he could do the same.

He touched her hand gently. So smooth. Still. He could still feel her by him and he closed his eyes. The warmth was still there, not on her body but surrounding him, cocooning him. She was there.

He felt a tap on his shoulder. Turning around, he was met with Peyton's worried eyes. He pulled his hand back and walked away quietly.

She was gone. He had to remember that.

--

"Come on, sexy, I've got a room at the motel just down the street." The bleached blonde hung over him in what she thought was a sexy yet appealing away but came off as hideously unattractive.

Yet through Nathan's drunken haze, he barely noticed that this girl was not what he wanted and that the situation he was in was not one he was supposed to be in. All he heard was the invite back to her room.

He shook his head dizzily, "I've got to-" He pushed her away and stumbled to his feet, "I've got to call my girlfriend."

The blonde giggled annoyingly, "You don't have a girlfriend, blue eyes. Forget about her, you're all mine for now."

He pushed her away again as he fell into the bathroom, managing enough sense to lock the door. He collapsed onto the floor and leaned against the door, ignoring the pounding and drunken shrieking from the other side. His hand dug into his pants as he dialed the familiar number.

It went straight to the voice mail.

Is this working? Am I supposed to- ahem Well, you've reached Haley James's cell and obviously I'm not here right now so you know, do your thing after the beep. Okay, what am I supposed to press now? I am pressing pound. It's not working. Oh, Oh, I think I've got- beep

"Haley?" Nathan slurred, "You need to pick up. You need to-" He frowned before laughing all of a sudden, "You need to come and pick me up. Or just come back. Just come back." His fingers lost it's grip on the phone and it slid from his hands, "Come back."

--

"I've got the mail," Peyton said as she walked through the door of Nathan's apartment. "Bills, bills, bills." She frowned, "Nathan, get up." She walked over to the couch and wrenched the bottle of liquor from his hands, "Please, Haley wouldn't want this for you."

"Haley's dead," Nathan muttered.

She slapped him.

It was a surprise to both of them. Peyton took a step back as she held her hand to her mouth, trying her best to hide the shock. She shook her head sadly as a sob escaped from her lips, "I'm so sorry, Nathan. I didn't mean to. I didn't- I'm sorry."

"Don't Peyton," Nathan said quietly, "I deserved it."

"No, no," she bit her lip hard, "I shouldn't have. It's not my place and I'm so-" she looked around the room nervously, "I should go."

Nathan made no move to stop her and within moments, she was out the door. He slowly got to his feet and he walked over to the kitchen table where Peyton had dropped the mail. He flipped through it uncaringly and was about to walk away when he noticed an envelope on the floor.

It was a phone bill. A cell phone bill.

Frowning, he opened it up and saw what it was. Haley's cell phone bill.

Haley's cell phone. They never found it. But, that was impossible. Haley always had her cell phone with her but they didn't find it anywhere near the body.

Nathan flinched visibly. The body. That was what she had been reduced to. Peyton should've done more then just slapped him.

Opening the bill, he paused for a moment. A few memories of the drunken night he had last Friday coming back to him. Was it...

He paused. No, that didn't make any sense. The phone was probably destroyed, along with everything else in the car accident. That was why they couldn't find it. And besides, he was drunk. Delusional.

Grabbing the phone, he began to dial the number, the all too familiar number. He could feel the anticipation building up inside him.

Is this working? Am I supposed to-

Nathan pressed the off button quickly as he threw the phone onto the kitchen table. It was her. Her voice. Her. It felt as if she was back here again.

Shaking his head, he pressed the redial button and again, her voice filtered through the phone.

Is this working? Am I supposed to- ahem Well, you've reached Haley James's cell and obviously I'm not here right now so you know, do your thing after the beep. Okay, what am I supposed to press now? I am pressing pound. It's not working. Oh, Oh, I think I've got- beep

Nathan was silent for a few moments before he finally pressed the off button again.

He leaned against the table and breathed in deeply. This was all he had now. Her. It still felt like she was here.

Even though she was gone, she was still all he had.

--

"You okay?"

Nathan nodded numbly as he held the flowers in his hands. Red roses. Her favorite. A classic. "I have to be, right?"

"You don't have to-"

"I've never forgotten any of it. Not an anniversary, not Valentine's Day, none of it. I'm not planning to forget a birthday anytime soon."

Lucas smiled wryly at Nathan's faithfulness, "She loved you. You know that right?"

"I didn't just know it," Nathan said quietly, "I felt it everyday." He laid the flowers on her grave gently before he began to walk away.

Lucas frowned slightly. "You're not staying?"

"I can't," Nathan said, his voice strained, "If I do. I'll-" he stopped himself and looked into Lucas's eyes, willing for him to understand.

"Right."

--

Nathan held the phone tightly in his hands as he threw the covers aside. The storm outside was thundering hard. He pressed the phone up against his ear as he struggled to hear the voice mail.

Is this working? Am I supposed to- ahem Well, you've reached Haley James's cell and obviously I'm not here right-

beep

Nathan frowned as he stared at his phone in confusion. Call waiting. Someone was calling him. He check the id.

Peyton.

-now so you know, do your thing after the beep. Okay, what am I supposed to press-

beep

Ignoring it, Nathan cradled the phone by his ear.

-now? I am pressing pound. It's not working. Oh, Oh, I think I've got- beep-

"Haley, I love you," he said, struggling with his words. "Happy Birthday."

Turning off the phone, he pushed it onto the other side of the bed. It was ringing now. And, he knew who it was.

Peyton.

He couldn't answer it. It felt wrong. He wasn't supposed to feel like this.

He wasn't supposed to be able to love two women at the same time.

--

"And, so yeah, I completely botched up and basically made a complete fool out of myself in front of everyone," Peyton said with a shake of her head. "Are you laughing at me?" She accused.

Nathan shook his head and turned away, "No, of course not."

"Yes, you are!" She said in mock outrage. "Nathan, I'm telling this to you in a 'share my pain' talk and you're laughing at me. I'm scarred for life."

"I'm really not," Nathan said before he broke down into heavy laughter, "Okay, so maybe I am."

She laughed along with him for a few moments before she looked at him, a twinkle in her eye, "I've missed the sound of that."

"The sound of what?"

"Your laugh," she answered, "It's been awhile since I've heard it."

"It's been awhile since I've been happy."

Peyton nodded silently, clearing her throat before she looked away. Not wanting to push thing any further, she slid off the stool and cleared off the kitchen table.

Nathan reached his hand out and stopped her. "It's different now."

She smiled awkwardly, "Because you still love her right?"

"No," he walked up to her and leaned down close to her lips, "It's different because of you."

--

Guilt. It streamed through him like waves and Nathan closed his eyes tightly, gripping the phone tightly in his hand.

He kissed Peyton. He kissed Peyton when he still loved Haley. He was sick.

Dialing the familiar number, he felt his nerves quiet down as the soothing voice came over the line.

Is this working? Am I supposed to- ahem Well, you've reached Haley James's cell and obviously I'm not here right now so you know, do your thing after the beep. Okay, what am I supposed to press now? I am pressing pound. It's not working. Oh, Oh, I think I've got- beep

Nathan was quiet for a few moments before he finally whispered, "I'm sorry."

--

"He's smiling."

Peyton grinned at Lucas's comment. "You're surprised."

"I didn't think he'd ever smile again."

"Neither did I." Peyton watched Nathan from the sidelines quietly, clapping and cheering when he made another basket. "Get back in there." She pushed at his shoulder playfully.

Three games later, Nathan ran up to Peyton, breathing heavily. He kissed her and she kissed him back. "Good game or errr, games."

"Sorry, it took so long."

"Well, it was fun seeing you whup Lucas's ass."

Lucas raised his eyebrow as he took a huge gulp from his water bottle, "Watch it, Ms. Sawyer. You don't want an enemy in me."

Peyton laughed good naturedly, "Threatening me?"

"Perhaps."

Nathan smiled softly as he watched the exchange between the two. It felt so comfortable. So familiar. So like before. When Haley was still here.

But, she wasn't.

For the first time, Nathan had finally accepted that. He felt something settle inside his heart and he leaned in, kissing Peyton on the forehead.

--

Closure.

He needed it. He wanted it. But, how could he get it? He and Haley's relationship had ended so abruptly in so many ways. He was miserable.

And, now he was happy.

Did he deserve it? He didn't know. Haley would've had all the answers.

But, she wasn't here. He knew that now. And, he accepted it. He would always love her. She was always inside his heart and she always would be. Nobody could ever replace her, he would never let anyone.

He wanted to let her know that. But, how?

Grabbing the phone off the couch, Nathan began dialing the familiar number once again.

This time, things went a little differently.

Instead of the usual soothing voice of Haley James. It was an electronic recording.

Inbox full.

Nathan clicked the off button before staring at the phone in shock.

He looked upwards and then laughed.

This was her sign. Her blessing. Her acceptance.

Closure.