Haley,

I got your letter today. It's the ninth one you've sent in the three weeks I've been here. It's not like you've had much of a choice. I haven't been online and I'm not taking your calls. Something tells me that my inbox and voicemail are filled by you anyway. But I'm kind of into this letter writing thing. It reminds me of the beginning, of the note stuck inside my exam review packet. Of course, Brooke found it first and things didn't end very well. You have to appreciate the irony though--- back then, everyone warned you to be careful around me, but I'm the one who ended up hurt. Please don't say that you're hurting just as much. I'm not in the mood for your shit, Haley. You brought this on yourself.

Well, since you've gone out of your way to let me know about all the comings and goings of Tree Hill, I guess I should at least comment on them. Brooke's really gone, huh? That sucks about her parents. I mean, Brooke and I have never been you and Lucas, of course. One town can only hold so many Dawson and Joeys. We may not have been perfect friends our whole lives, but we were there for each other when it really mattered. I'm a little shocked that she didn't tell me about it beforehand, honestly. We were a lot closer after… well, you know. But I guess there wasn't very much opportunity. I mean, when would she have told me? When I was in the hospital, or during the fundraiser to make sure I didn't get tossed out of the apartment? I'll give Brooke a call later on. Tree Hill's just not Tree Hill without Brooke Davis to mess with everyone in it.

That's a lot of drama that Peyton's been facing. It's such a strange thought that so much of her life was affected by the death of a woman, only to find out that it wasn't even her mother. Did I ever mention that that was a key factor in her and me breaking up? It was the seventh anniversary of Anna Sawyer's death, and I didn't know about it. That's one of those things you would expect me to know, you know? I really care about Peyton. Sometimes I even wonder what would have happened if we never broke up. She and I could still be together right now, drowning in our teen angst, but content with it. Maybe we wouldn't have been deeply in love, but at least she wouldn't leave with a poser who probably swings for the other team anyway.

God. I wish that I could say that I was saying all that because it's the truth. It could be the truth. It might even be the truth. But that's not why I'm saying it. I'm saying it to hurt you, and I'm not going to lie about it. Somebody has to be honest. So while on the topic of honesty, I think maybe I can stop being a bitter asshole. Because that's not who I am, not with you. But you aren't here…

It's kind of funny, now that I think about it, when my roommate gave me this letter. I had been practicing, and he came over and said, "Yo, Big Time, you've got a letter." When I asked him who it was from, he said that he didn't know, but they definitely smelled hot. Kind of ironic, right Haley? You were definitely not considered "hot" before we got married. Not by any of the guys at school, or the River Court, but then suddenly there's the ring, and musicians pop out from nowhere.

Oh, wait. There goes the inner asshole. Sometimes I just can't help it, but you know that when I was with you, I never wanted to be that guy. I wanted to be somebody who was good enough to be around you. God, I changed everything for you, Haley. I would've given up anything to be with you. Hell, I gave up my old life, High Fliers, and my parents. I'm not sure I even have anything else.

Haley, you may have noticed by this point that I've been ignoring the "I love you"s and "I'm sorry"s that pepper your letters. I'm not ready to hear them. Because honestly Haley, I don't believe you. Even if I do, I don't trust you anymore. I can't. I told you as much before I left, and I'm sorry that it hurt you. If it's any small consolation, it hurts me at least twice as much.

You love music, and I know that. I've always known that. But I can't understand or accept what you did. I love basketball, and you know that. It's been the only constant thing I've had in my entire life. I can honestly tell you though that there's never been a moment where I loved the game more than I loved you. Yeah, I'm spitting your words back at you, but at least I mean them. I love basketball more than most, but if my playing meant that you'd have to be alone, I wouldn't look twice at a ball.

Maybe you were right. Maybe we're too young, and we made a mistake, and I should've listened to you in the beginning. That would be fitting, wouldn't it? You are tutor girl. But we could have worked on it. I drove a thousand miles just to see you, to have you tell me that you loved me, to come with you, to wait for you. You were home free right there Haley, and I would've crawled over hot coals to have you just say you'd come back someday. You couldn't even give me that. You told me that we were too young, that you were glad to see me, that you had to go on. I'm not sure why that surprised me. By that point, all you ever did was go. But really…what the fuck, Haley? I went so far for you, for us, and you couldn't even call me afterwards. You called the answering machine. You know that I deleted you.

That night, I could almost have punched myself for saying something so corny. "I deleted you"? Even the voice in my head was laughing at that one. Granted, this was the same one that had been putting up with me for all the time that you weren't, so I guess it deserves to have its fun. It's that same voice in my head that shot down each suggestion I made trying to blame myself for what happened with us. Because honestly Haley, yeah, I gave you an unfair ultimatum, but you were the one who acted like a child. Yeah, you realize that? Well, that's fan-fucking-tastic, but it doesn't change anything. And it's not even comforting that I knew it really was you, not me. All that I wanted was you.

Do you know what it's like to have someone you love with all your heart just up and leave you? I know you remember how hurt you were when your parents bough the R.V. after we got married. You told me then that, strangely enough, you'd never felt safer in your life. Well, I had my parents, my brother, my friends… and I'd never been lonelier. I gave up basketball, and so you became my constant. But you gave up me.

And that's the part you have to live with.

You can't just come back! You can't do that. You can't just show up on my doorstep after weeks of silence. You didn't come home when I was in a coma, so you don't get to now. Of course I told you not to, that's not an arguing point. The point is that you were supposed to ignore me and show up anyway, crying over how you had a change of heart and the accident made you realize that we could never be apart again. But you didn't. You waited until I could finally breathe without you, until I could laugh and smile with people who weren't you without you coming to mind at all. You waited until there were days where I didn't drink myself into a stupor, where I could spend hours at a time doing something other than mope. You waited until the wound wasn't quite so fresh to tear it open all over again. You can't do that Haley. My heart's finally off the table, and it's not too eager to play again.

Always and forever, you told me. Always and forever. That sounded perfect on our wedding day, didn't it? Our wedding was beautiful. The beach was so calm, and it had those tiny purple flowers you were just gushing over. You looked so gorgeous, Haley, and I could hardly believe my luck that somebody like you would want to spend the rest of your life with someone like me. And when I said those words to you, I meant to keep them for the rest of our lives. Don't you dare say them back, not after all that you've done. Always and forever meant always and forever, not "Always and forever, except when it's inconvenient." You ruined that, Haley. You broke it.

I don't know about you, but I've never been content to live like that. I don't want to live with something pieced back together. I'd rather have nothing at all. I can't rebuild and just pretend I don't see the cracks, where something good and whole used to be. I have loved you more than I've ever loved anything, Haley, and I hope that keeps you warm at night. Because that's all that I can give you now. I love you, but love doesn't owe you anything. That's where trust comes in, and that's where we end now, I suppose, because we don't have that. Now it's time to work on ourselves. We're too young for this kind of hurt. I'll focus on basketball, and you can work on your music. Honestly, you've helped me a lot, sports-wise. Anger has always channeled into determination for me, and I've never been so good. Trust me; this will really help your career too. From what I've gathered in snippets with Luke and Brooke, before I cut him off and she left the east coast, that is, Chris informed them that songwriters carry all this stuff about with them. You should have a field day with this.

Failure's always sounded better.

Nathan