Chapter Thirty: Five Hundred Days

Of course, it wasn't quite that simple. It was two months before they'd begun to fully act like their normal selves. First there was Peyton, throwing herself at Nathan, trying to explain that she really cared. When Brooke and Lucas reconciled, they attempted to get Nathan and Haley back to where they'd been to the point that Haley eventually exclaimed that she felt like she was on the OC, that Brooke was Seth and Lucas was Summer and she was Ryan and she'd punch someone's head in soon if they didn't quit it.

She thought she'd said her message clearly, but it didn't affect anyone that much.

Brooke was welcomed into the Scott's home. Her and Lucas planned to move into their own place as soon as they could afford it, but Karen was in no hurry to let them go. Astonishing nearly everyone, Lucas dropped out of the team to spend more time with her and the baby.

And so it was then, as senior year drew to a close, with Haley and Nathan still at odds, that Nathan finally saw what was staring him right in the face.

She looked up in surprise when he ran into their apartment. She'd cancelled cheerleading practice, but he should have been at basketball.

"Hey, you're home early," she said in surprise.

"Yeah. Something just occurred to me," he said. She nodded expectantly. "The only thing I don't understand is why you came up with an evil mastermind plot to make me come back to you instead of just telling me you were pregnant."

Haley took a deep breath.

"Okay, two things. Number one, who told you about the evil mastermind plot?" demanded Haley.

"Justine. She can't keep secrets for her life. What's the other thing?" he asked.

"Who told you I was pregnant?"

"Figured that one out by myself. Why, Haley?" he asked.

"Because. I wanted you to learn a lesson. I didn't want you to be with me because you had to. I was afraid you'd eventually get scary and resentful," she said.

"Never," he promised. He'd been crouching on the floor in front of her, and in one fluid moment he was on the couch with her in his arms.

"I guess I was scared," she mumbled.

"I'm so sorry," he said fervently.

"Well, you should be," she said, leaning back her head to kiss him.

Nathan smiled in relief. The baby thing was somewhat terrifying, but nothing he couldn't handle.

"Are you guys finally being normal again?" asked Brooke, coming in with Jackie in her arms, followed closely by Lucas. Haley blushed.

"As we'll ever be. Hey, I'm pregnant," she announced to the assembled group.

"Hey, everyone knew that. God, could you be slower on the uptake?" asked Brooke, dropping onto the couch opposite.

"I could try. Nathan got into UCLA the other day," said Haley proudly.

"You two are going?" asked Brooke, looking temporarily fragile.

"Yeah. What about you two?" asked Haley.

"We're doing some classes at Duke. We'll go full time when he gets bigger," said Brooke. Haley nodded understandingly.

The four were silent for a moment, imagining their pending separation.

"College is going to be awesome. Like the Classic twenty-four seven," commented Brooke.

"With studying. That was a fairly impressive Classic tournament," said Haley.

"Yeah. It wasn't nearly as good this year without you," said Lucas, lightly kissing Brooke.

"No cheerleaders got sick, I didn't go skinny dipping in the middle of the night to be caught by a dark stranger. It was fairly lacking," agreed Haley.

"You guys spent that night together? Weren't we still together?" asked Lucas suspiciously.

"Come on, you two made out in their room," said Nathan, laughing. Haley smiled and leaned against him.

"That was an accident," defended Brooke blushingly.

"Oh yeah?" teased Lucas. They kissed again. The sight which had once revolted Haley was somehow pleasing in her eyes.

"Nate, let's make ourselves scarce," said Haley, as their kisses deepened. Brooke and Lucas broke apart as Haley and Nathan stood.

"You guys can stay," said Brooke, looking down to the silver ring on her right hand.

"Nah, we'll make our own party," said Haley, taking Nathan's hand. Brooke and Lucas laughed as they vanished into their bedroom.

By then, it had been a year and a half. Over five-hundred days since the four of them had abruptly collided and begun interacting. Five hundred days of pain, loss, love, betrayal.

Five hundred days that they wouldn't give back for the world.

The End

Author's note: I'll say again that this story is dedicated to Ange, with thanks, as ever, to BOB.