It wasn't just some ordinary winter. Haley hated it and loved it all at the same time. The fact that it was so cold, so crisp, and so white was enough for her to love winter. It was the memories of winter that brought out the hatred. Winter represented pain in Haley's life and it wasn't quite something she was looking forward to this year.
It was at her winter formal her junior year that her date Craig showed up with a girl that wasn't her.
She had resigned herself a long time ago to just expect it. Sometimes it was something minor. She didn't get the CD she wanted for Christmas. Nobody asked her to the winter formal. She broke her foot while ice skating. This year was going to be different. She could feel it.
It had been her first semester at Harvard and she was on her way home with a her roommate Brooke. She was from New York and always told Haley of the good life. The massive Christmas tree at Rockefeller center. The millions of shoppers. She talked of her parents who were never really around and her twin brother Nathan who stuck by her thick and thin. She gushed about her fiancé Jake. Haley couldn't wait to spend a winter away from discontent.
They arrived by train to New York sometime in the evening and already Haley felt loads better about this winter. This winter would change her life. She felt it all the way down to her bones. It was either that or the freezing wind chill that felt like she didn't even have a coat on.
"Brooke!" she heard an familiar voice call out and recognized it as the one that had left several messages on their answering machine. Jake. She didn't waste any time before dropping all her bags and leaping into his arms, kissing him feverously. "Oh, how I missed you."
"Hi, I'm Nathan. Brooke's brother." a dark headed boy stepped in front of Haley extending her hand, as the two love birds completely ignored their presence. She got lost in the clear blue eyes he possessed and didn't respond. Not until he lightly touched her cheek, sending shivers down her spine that she responded and shook his hand.
"Haley." she introduced, relishing in the touch of his hand. She realized that he was staring into her eyes as well and that they were holding hands for far too long of a time for them to have just met. And finally they broke contact when Brooke stopped kissing Jake and took notice of her brother and best friend.
"Oh good, I see you too introduced yourselves. I'm so glad to see you Nate." she said hugging her brother.
"You too little sis."
"Oh my God. Only by three minutes." she retorted. And he laughed. Really laughed. A sound Haley could really get used to. "Oh and Haley this is Jake." she smiled as Jake and Haley shook hands. "So what are we doing tonight?" Brooke asked eager to 're-experience' New York as she liked to put it.
"We have about half an hour to get to Soho and meet Lucas and Peyton." Jake responded. Brooke looked down at her watch and glared at Jake. "What?"
"Half an hour Jake? We'll never make it in time." she scolded.
"So they'll adjust. Take a pill little sis." Nathan said putting his arm around her shoulders.
"Ahem…Lucas and Peyton?" Haley said speaking up.
"Oh tutor girl you remember me telling you about my best friend and my ex." Brooke said looking at Haley with a duh look. "Oh come on, I know I told you."
"Don't worry. I'm sure once we get some alcohol and a little sleepiness in Brookie, she'll spill the whole sordid story." Nathan replied taking his arm off of Brooke's shoulders and placing them on Haley's, much to her surprise and delight.
"Don't call me Brookie, Natey." Brooke glared. "Alright, can we get out of the freezing ass whether, into a cab, and on our way?" she asked and Jake nodded grabbing her bags as Nathan grabbed Haley's. Haley suddenly felt a lot more colder without Nathan's arms around her.
They stood on the corner of the street waiting amongst all the people to get a cab. Jake and Brooke were cooing at each other, leaving Nathan and Haley once again to fend for themselves. Haley, for the most part, was concentrating on her shuffling feet but every once she looked up she saw that he was staring at her.
"It there something on my…" she started.
"Oh here we go. We should take separate cabs, that way we're not cramped." Brooke said. Nathan and Haley exchanged glances and Brooke just gave them a charming smile.
"Brooke…" Nathan said menacing knowing exactly what she was doing.
"Oops, got to go. See you there." she quickly responded grabbing Jake and getting into the cab.
"Are you always this quiet?" Nathan asked once they were settled into the cab and on their way.
"Do you always stare at people you just meet?" Haley retorted.
"Only the pretty ones." he winked sending her into a fit of giggles.
"Does that ever work?" she laughed.
"Not always." he responded never taking his eyes off of her. "You know Brooke's trying to set us up."
"I had a feeling." she nodded. "Quite the little matchmaker."
"Yeah always has been. I think she's trying to make up for her last attempt that ended in disaster."
"Another story. Another time." he replied as they pulled up to the restaurant. He glanced over at Haley and she gave him a mischievous grin. "What?"
"You wanna make Brooke's mouth drop? Completely leave her speechless?" she asked and Nathan smiled, nodding.
Twenty minutes later they sauntered hand and hand into the restaurant, clothes and hair in disarray. Once they made their way to the back of the place, she winked at him and walked right up to the table consisting of Jake, Brooke, and who Haley assumed to be Lucas and Peyton. They were in the middle of laughing when Brooke looked up and did a double take noticing her friend and brother.
"What the hell happened with the two of you?" she ranted. "Oh my God. Nathan Scott. Haley James. Oh, visual. Eww. You two had sex! Haley you're a virgin!"
"Brooke!" Haley blushed. "Still am." she whispered though clenched teeth. "It was a joke. Ha ha…ha. Thanks Brooke for the public announcement."
"That look was priceless though." Nathan laughed. Haley let go of his hand, straightening her hair and sat down.
"Peyton, Lucas, this is Haley James." Brooke said taking her seat and introducing Haley.
"Sorry if that was out of line or whatever. Way to break the ice huh? Sorry, I must really have a bad first impression now." Haley rambled.
"It's ok Hales." Brooke said giving her a smile and patting her hand. "Besides, why would we care, you embarrassed yourself." she laughed.
"Thanks Brooke." Haley laughed and soon the rest of the table was laughing as well. "So uh, Peyton, Lucas, what are you in school for. Oh I forgot to ask you Nathan." she asked.
"Well I'm in NYU for art. And Lucas here is in business. Something about sports management. " Peyton said rolling her eyes." Oh and we're not dating. Just to clarify."
"I play basketball at UCONN. " Nathan spoke up. "But they used to date."
"Nathan…don't drag out that whole story." Lucas groaned.
"Oh come on it's a good story. Anyway, I dated Peyton first. It was pretty much just for sex."
"Nathan!" Peyton said hitting his arm. "Alright it was but still." she conceded.
"Well Lucas stole her from me. Brooke turned around and stole Lucas from Peyton. Then Peyton and Jake dated. Then Brooke and Jake dropped the broody twins and got together. And now Brooke, Jake, and Jenny are going to live happily ever after." Nathan finished.
"Wait, who's Jenny?" Haley asked confusion covering her soft face.
"My daughter." Jake spoke up. "Not Brooke's biologically but yeah. That's another long story. She's with a sitter tonight."
"Wow. That's pretty incredible. Why didn't you tell me Brooke?" Haley asked.
"A lot of people frown at the fact that I have a two year old. The frown even more when they find out she's not really mine. We just choose to keep it private. I don't mean to keep secrets from you Haley…"
"It's ok. We all have our own little secrets." Haley smiled.
Their dinner went on a for a little over an hour, with the five life long friends telling each other stories about their lives and Haley listening intently. How boring and ordinary her life compared to the lives of those five amazed Haley. Her life paled in comparison.
"Alright, I think Jake and I want to take a walk and get caught up." Brooke announced once she handled the check.
"Translation: their going back to his apartment and-" Peyton started.
"Do not even finish that sentence P. Sawyer." Brooke glared. "Besides who know what you and Lucas do once you go back to your apartment."
"You live together?" Haley asked once again out of the loop.
"Oh yeah, forgot that part. It works." Lucas said. "And we don't do anything Brooke. Don't listen to her; her mind is always in the gutter." he whispered behind his hand to Haley.
"I heard that Lucas Roe." Brooke scolded. "Anyway, Nate you'll take Haley home?"
"And I'll see you tomorrow Peyt? Shopping? You know you wanna." Brooke said wiggling her eyebrows.
"I know I don't have a choice." she muttered.
After the gang said their goodbyes and gave each other hugs, Nathan and Haley watched as Jake and Brooke walked towards Central Park and Lucas and Peyton climbed into a cab. Nathan gently put his hand on the small of Haley's back nudging her in the way of what Haley assumed to be 'home.'
"So you were by yourself?" Haley spoke up after a block of silence.
"Well after you and Peyton split. You were by yourself?" Haley asked, obliviously to discomfort in Nathan.
"Not exactly." Nathan coughed.
"Oh." Haley said catching the hint. "Sorry…I didn't mean to uh, you know, pry."
"Her name was Madison." he said quietly. Haley looked up at him, listening, urging him to continue if he wanted. "First girl I ever loved. Or thought I loved. We went out for almost two years. Anyway, she uh, she cheated on me. Haven't talk to her since we graduated seven months ago."
"That sucks." Haley replied and to her surprise Nathan laughed. "What's so funny?"
"It's just that every has said everything from 'I'm sorry' to 'her loss.' Nothing compared to the outrage you just possessed saying 'that sucks.' It's refreshing, that's all."
"Oh, well I am sorry it happened to you. That's life though you know. Gotta roll with the punches. It wouldn't have happened unless it was for a reason. Maybe you're a better person, stronger, because of it."
"Speaking from experience?" he asked.
"Kinda." she shrugged. "Technically though, I've never had a boyfriend." she confessed.
"You're kidding right?" Nathan asked incredulously.
"Nope." she said nonchalantly. "It's not a big deal. I went on dates. Some. Alright a few. I was too focused on getting into Harvard to have time for a boyfriend. Not like I had boys banging down the door with offers though." she chuckled.
"Me either." he joked and she laughed. "We're almost there. So how do you like New York so far?"
"It's…crowded." she laughed.
"I like your laugh." he said and she looked at him and sighed.
"Thanks." she said sheepishly, the blush creeping up into her cheeks.
"Oh we're here." he said stopping in front of an apartment building. Haley nodded and followed him inside. He greeted the doorman and they spoke for a few minutes as Haley sat down at the piano in the lobby, grazing her fingers over the keys. "You play?" Nathan asked sitting beside her on the bench.
"Some." she replied taking her hands off the keys and placing them on her lap. "Not so much anymore."
"Can't play music if you don't have the words or the notes." she replied giving him a small smile. "We should uh, get upstairs. I'm kind of tired." she yawned.
"Oh yeah, of course. I didn't even think you would be tired." he replied taking her hand in his own and walking with her to the elevator. They stepped inside and he let go of her hand to press the button to the fifteenth floor.
Nathan stepped inside the apartment, flipped on the lights and held the door open for Haley. She followed him into a small guest bedroom that was decorated in light pink all over. She gave a small frown which didn't go unnoticed by Nathan.
"It's like pink threw up in here." she replied, shriveling up her nose in disgust. "Sorry, I don't mean to sound ungrateful, I just, well pink isn't exactly my favorite color." she finished as Nathan busted out laughing.
"You can sleep in my room."
"What?" she asked incredulously which caused him to laugh once more.
"I mean I'll sleep in here. You can take my room. I promise there's no pink in there."
"Oh." she said quietly. "That's really nice of you."
"It's not a big deal." he shrugged. "I'm hardly going to be here anyway."
"Where are you going to be?" she asked a little more eager than she had wanted to.
"Training. I can't miss three weeks of practice just because it's Christmas. Come on, I show you my room." he said and she nodded, following down the hall into his bedroom. She could admit that she felt a little more than embarrassed being in his room and sleeping in his bed. "Better?"
"Lots. Listen I feel really bad doing this. I mean this is your home and I am a guest and I'm complaining about it being pink? I really do appreciate it. Are you even going to fit in that twin bed?" she asked chuckling a little bit.
"Probably not but I'll adjust. It's really ok. I mean the way Brooke's talks about you, she really cares about you and well she'd probably kill me if I didn't make you as comfortable as possible."
"Oh so it's just for Brooke huh?" she smirked. "Oh wow, I can't believe you have a plasma TV. " she gushed which caused him to laugh once more. "Small town in North Carolina with very little money. Hence, the overwhelming need to get a scholarship." she explained.
"I understand. I don't know if Brooke explained but we were like that for a little while before our dad struck it big. Alright it's late and I'm going to go hit up some TV." he replied, setting her bags down at the foot of the bed. "I'll uh, see you in the morning for breakfast?"
"Yeah of course." she answered and gave him a small smile. He returned the gesture and turned to leave the room before she rested her hand on his arm. "You're more than welcome to stay and watch it in here. I'm going to take a bath." he nodded and sat on the bed as she grabbed her clothes. She returned a half and hour later to find him asleep on the bed. Smiling, she turned off the television and light, placed a throw over him, and slipped underneath the covers. She fell asleep listening to his peaceful breathing.