Chapter One Hundred Fifteen: Remember Me
Author's note: I really hate to sound like a bitch, especially in the last chapter, especially since you guys have been so amazing, but this is not a brucas. Not remotely. To be honest, I'm not even remotely a brucas shipper. When I first started writing this I didn't intend for them to be together, it just happened. This is a naley. And thank you for reading. And reviewing. So much. This is the longest story I've ever written, and I love all of you who've gotten this far. Enjoy.
Nathan's pen hovered over the clear black line. The unalterable truth that she wanted out. His eyes scanned the document-her signature was already in place. In her bubbly yet schooled hand she had written the name she'd used for the past six years-Haley Elise Scott. He laughed. It seemed hopelessly ironic, that his wife had signed away their marriage using his name.
In the hall, he could distantly hear a harassed sounding Ryan round up his three children and her own for the funeral. For a moment, Nathan stopped feeling sorry for himself and allowed himself to feel sorry for her.
"Jake? We should go to Nathan's, they're probably going crazy," said Ryan, cautiously stepping in to his room.
"Nathan's. That's insane. It's been Nathan and Haley's for years," he said.
"Come on," she said. She reached out to grab his hand, but stopped herself just in time, the events of the night before coming back to her.
"We don't even have the right to be sad. We haven't been close to her in years. I let her go," said Jake.
"Baby, don't do this to yourself," said Ryan imploringly.
"How can I not?"
"You loved her more than anyone. She loved you alone," said Ryan.
"Yeah. And I did a great job of showing it. You know, I love being a Dad. More than anything. I love the little yellow boots she wears when it's raining. And the way she clings to you when she's upset, like you're the only person in the world. The way she smiles and looks just like you. How she turns us into the people that are so sure that our kid is smarter than all the others. And I hurt her, Ry. I let her see Peyton. I let myself act like she doesn't matter," he said in disgust. As he spoke, Jamie called out from the next room.
"Don't," she said again.
He reached out and grabbed her upper arms. He pulled her towards him, with reluctance on her part for the first time in years. Her lips melted under his, and heat built up between them, but from his tight grip on her arms and the pain in his eye, she knew he was using her. She knew she deserved more.
She pulled away from him and ran after Jamie.
"Brookie?" asked Lucas nervously, entering the bedroom of him and his wife.
"Baby," she murmured.
"Oh, Brooke," he said, taking her in to his arms.
"She needed us," said Brooke.
"She had us. You're not at fault," said Lucas.
"And Haley. They've been fighting it for years, but..." Brooke sobbed into his jacket. She sounded guilty to even speak of it.
"I guess they finally fought it off," said Lucas.
"Promise me we'll never fight it. Promise me, Lucas Scott," she said. He tilted her chin upward and met her tragic hazel eyes.
"I promise you, Brooke Scott, that I'm here. Forever. I swear," he said. She snuggled in to his embrace.
"Good. Because I play for keeps, my love," she said, settling her head on his chest.
Nathan ignored his little sister as she banged on the door and called out to him. He was having a difficult time feeling sad about a woman who'd only brought pain into the hearts of the people he loved.
With a shaking hand, he picked up a black ballpoint pen from the desk and touched it's tip to the document. A moment later, he'd dropped it again. Folding it up and tucking it into an inside pocket, he strode to the door and called after Ryan.
Bizarelly, the sun burst out as they arrived in the long black cars. Haley arrived moments later.
He watched as she stepped out of the limo. She was wearing simple, well tailored black clothing that only hinted at her curves. She shivered as his gaze fell on her.
The Scotts took up the first two rows of the church. Still attempting to create a good public face, Nathan and Haley sat with their children between them, fairly amicably.
Jake sat with his daughter on his lap, looking stoic. Ryan sat on the other side of Brooke and Lucas, avoiding his eye.
Nathan observed all this with amusement. It was unbelievable, that their supposedly strong relationships could be broken down so easily.
"Eve, take Nina and Kade and go with Auntie Brooke," said Haley. She waited until the church emptied before turning to Nathan.
"Do you have it?" she asked coolly. He watched as she erased all their memories, hid all her love.
With shaking fingers, he handed the papers to her. Relief flashed over her face as she flipped to the final page.
She looked up blankly.
"You didn't sign it," she stated.
"Never said I did."
"Nathan, I deserve this. It's in our prenup," she said, almost pleadingly.
"Maybe you do. But I'm not giving up, Haley. I can't."
"I'm not letting you go."
Nathan put an arm around her waist and pulled her to him. His lips descended to hers, possessively and passionately. She kissed back for only a moment.
Haley watched Nathan go, knowing she'd never be free. Knowing that despite any rift between them, he'd always be the father of their children, her first love, her husband.
As long as she lived, he'd be winning her back. It depressed her as much as it thrilled her.
Nathan watched from a respectful distance as Peyton Sawyer was slowly lowered in to the ground. As Nina began to cry softly, he lifted her onto his hip.
He thought of the cold, empty bed waiting for him at his home. He thought of the empty house, how it had been before her. He thought of another man with his hands all over what was rightfully his, and always would be.
What was that song, that had once meant so much to her?
its a winding road
I've been walking for a long time
Still don't know
Where it goes
And it's a long way home
I've been searching for a long time
Still have hope
I'm gonna find my way home
Nathan stared as Kade ran across the ground to her and she lifted him in her arms.
"I'll get you back, Haley James," he silently promised himself. Haley glanced up at him and hurriedly glanced away.
Finally it was over. Finally, after ten years, three children and countless heartaches her summer romance, which was never supposed to be more than just that, was finished. Her road had stopped winding, her love had stopped growing. It hadn't yet stopped shrinking. That would come later, at great cost and heartache. But she could hide it. She was good at hiding.
Nathan glanced at his sister, staring painfully and obviously at Jake. As he continued to watch, and as Peyton was lowered in to the ground, Jake slipped and arm around Jamie, who huddled close to him. Ryan glanced over and slid her hand in to his, and Nathan almost smiled. Whatever else happened to him, he knew that at the very least they'd survive. Jake and Ryan, in some form or another, would be forevr. At Brooke, her head comfortably on Lucas' shoulder, his hand on her ever so slightly swelled stomach. He knew, had always known, that they were all headed for a happy ending. He hadn't always known it about him and Haley, but he'd never faced up to it. Such a painful, passionate affair was never meant to last.
He glanced at Haley again. Whatever else they could be, whatever else they would become, he knew instinctively that they were far from over.