1. THE RETURN OF THE FORGOTTEN ONE
Nathan Scott walked into his old girlfriend, Taylor James' house. They had broken up two weeks ago and had decided to make an attempt at being friends. Nathan didn't know if he was capable of doing that, but he was willing to do anything for her, as he was sure she knew. He walked into the kitchen and smiled as her father greeted him. "Hey, Nathan. It's been a while since we've seen you," he said. He reached out his hand and Nathan took it.
"I'm just here to pick Tay and Brooke up," he said.
"You guys have plans?" Lydia James asked, coming out of the dining room.
"No, not really. We're just going to meet up with my brother and our friend, Jake and his girlfriend, Peyton, to hang out. It's just that summer's almost over and, um, once we all start school, we'll all be too busy," he said.
"The lives of the young," Lydia joked. Nathan had always found Lydia James to be an interesting person. She was a fair, considerate and loving mother. Lydia loved all of her children to death and would give them almost anything they wanted, but she was still very firm in the way that all mothers were.
Jimmy James was a laid-back kind of father. He let his children do, basically, whatever they wanted. As long as the police didn't show up at his front door in the middle of the night or early in the morning, he was quite fine to leave them alone, but this didn't mean he didn't care about them. That couldn't be further from the truth.
"Well, I'm off to work. Have fun, guys. Bye, Lydia!" Jimmy called as he walked out the front door.
All of the James children had a tendency to be wild and out of control. Taylor was the worst. She was the real wild child of the family and once Nathan had seen her, he couldn't get enough. Her personality seemed to match his in every way as he was the wild son of the Scott family. Her cousin-turned-sister, Brooke was pretty much the same way and seemed to bring it out of Taylor more when they were together. They were both superficial, obsessed with shopping, partying and drinking. They were both extremely beautiful and, most people would argue, way too aware of that fact. In high school, Taylor and Brooke had shared the title of Queen of Tree Hill High. While Brooke had found her King in his three-month older brother, Lucas Scott, Taylor had found hers in him.
But, alas, things don't always turn out the way people hope they will. Nathan and Taylor had tried to deny that things were changing between them, but as more time passed, they couldn't lie to themselves or each other anymore. They knew it was over. While they loved each other immensely, their time together, as high as it was, was now over. Then he heard footsteps bounding down the stairs and knew without a doubt that it was Brooke and Taylor. Taylor smiled widely at him.
"Hey, Nate," Brooke said coolly as she brushed past him. Nathan couldn't help but smirk inwardly at her lack of interest in him. Brooke and he had never really seen eye-to-eye but put up with each other for Taylor's sake. "Where's Lucas?" she asked, looking around.
"Um, he's picking Jake and Peyton up," Nathan replied. Brooke frowned and Nathan could swear that he saw hurt on her face. Brooke rolled her eyes at Nathan's sarcastic smile. She couldn't believe he had the nerve to take pleasure at her pain.
"So, Tay, when are you and Joe getting together?" she asked, sticking it to him. It paid off when he visibly tensed at the mention of Taylor's new boyfriend. It was not a common thing to see Nathan Scott actually show his feelings. He wore a suit of armour that was as strong as stone and not a lot of things could break it. Except Taylor.
"He's going to meet us at TRIC," she replied, slipping her sandals on her slender feet. Then, the phone rang. Surprisingly, it was Nathan who picked it up.
"Hello?" he said into the receiver.
"Hello," a delicate voice said.
"Who is this?" the girl asked.
"That depends. Who's this?" he asked. Like he was actually going to tell her his name. He had no idea who she was.
"Look, is Lydia or Jimmy James there?" the girl asked. He sighed.
"Mrs. James, it's for you," he said. Lydia came into the kitchen and smiled.
"Who is it?" she asked. Nathan shrugged.
"She didn't say," he said, handing her the phone.
"Hello?" Lydia asked into the phone. Lydia's eyes widened in surprise and her mouth curved into a big smile. "Haley?" she asked. Her voice was full of excitement.
"That's Haley?" Taylor said in surprise. Lydia nodded, but put a finger up to her mouth to signal them to be quiet for a second.
"Are you serious? Of course that's all right with us, sweetie! When?" she asked. Nathan looked to Taylor and Brooke. They were both looking at Lydia and their eyes were wide with excitement. "Ok. I'll be there," she said as she hung up the phone.
"Mom, what's going on?" Taylor asked in excitement.
"Well, honey, I've got some news for you," she said.
"About Haley?" Brooke asked.
"Who's Haley?" Nathan asked. Taylor laughed at him.
"She's my sister, Nathan. The one you never met," Taylor said. Nathan nodded. The youngest of the James'.
"She's coming home," Lydia announced.
"Are you serious!" Brooke and Taylor squealed in unison.
"She's on a plane as we speak. She'll land in about twenty minutes, which gives us just enough time to zip over there and pick her up," Lydia said.
"This is awesome!" Taylor exclaimed. Then, Brooke frowned.
"Um, there's one problem with your plan," Brooke said. Taylor, Lydia and even Nathan looked at her in confusion. "Dad took the car," Brooke said. Lydia sighed. Brooke's actual parents had died in a car accident when she was just a baby and right away, her aunt and uncle had adopted her as one of their own children, even giving her their last name. Brooke had always called them her parents because to her, they were. She didn't remember her real ones and for some reason that was beyond her, she was ok with that.
"Oh, no," Lydia said. "Haley's going to get off the plane and wait for us. I can't believe this."
"We could take a cab?" Brooke suggested. Taylor shook her head.
"You have $200 to pay for the ride? Because that's how much it's going to cost to get there and it'll be another 200 for the drive back," Taylor said.
"It's a shame that the van is getting fixed," Lydia said.
"Well, I could drive you if you want," Nathan offered. All three of them turned to him.
"Is your car big enough for five people?" Lydia asked.
"It's a van, Mom. He's test driving it for his dad," Taylor said. Lydia nodded.
"Are you sure you won't mind?" Taylor asked. Nathan shook his head.
"Of course not. I'll just have to call Lucas to tell him that we'll be a little late," Nathan said.
"And I'll call Joe," Taylor said. Nathan nodded as he dialled Lucas' number.
"Peyton, can you answer that for me?" Lucas asked, looking at her in the mirror. He was driving and Jake was sitting in the front seat. Peyton was sitting in the back seat all alone with her purse and their duffel bags thrown in beside her. She nodded as she opened the front pocket of Lucas' bag and grabbed his cell phone.
"It's Nathan," she said.
"Probably wondering what's taking us so long," Jake said, laughing.
"Hey, that court was just too peaceful not to play a short game of 21 at," Lucas offered, laughing.
Peyton smirked as she flipped the phone open and said, "Hey, Nate."
"Peyton, hi," he said. There was a bit of confusion in his voice.
"Is Lucas around?" he asked.
"He's driving right now," Peyton replied.
"Oh, ok. Um, well, look, I'm afraid that Taylor, Brooke and I will be running a little late," Nathan said.
"You're going to be running a little late?" Peyton repeated. Lucas looked at her in confusion in the mirror. Jake turned his head around and gave her a similar confused look.
"Well, it's a long story, but the short version is that I'm taking Taylor, Brooke and their mom to the airport," Nathan replied.
"Why the airport? Is Mrs. James going somewhere?" Peyton asked in confusion. Personally, she had never really cared much for either Brooke or Taylor, but still hung out with them for Jake's sake, as he was friends with them since high school began.
"No, their younger sister is flying into town. I'm driving them to pick her up," Nathan said. Peyton sat upright in her seat.
"Haley's coming back!" Peyton exclaimed. Peyton and Haley were the same age and had been pretty close friends until she had left town. They had bonded on their love of the arts, especially music. Peyton was an artist in the drawing sense and had a lot of talent that she did a weekly comic strip for THUD Magazine. Haley was a musician and was in an entirely different league of her own.
"Yeah," Nathan replied in confusion.
"That's awesome! So, you're on your way to the airport right now?" Peyton asked.
"Yeah, we are," he replied.
"Good. We'll meet you there," she said, snapping the phone shut before he could get a word out. "Turn the car around and head for the airport," she ordered. Lucas laughed.
"We have plans to meet at TRIC, Peyton," Jake said.
"Well, those plans have just been changed. Taylor's younger sister is flying into town and they're picking her up from the airport. So, we're going to meet them," Peyton said.
"Peyton, we can't," Lucas said.
"And why not?" Peyton asked.
"Well, one: I want to get home and drop off my bag and you need to get home and change. Jake might want to drop off his bag at your place. We'll never make it in time," Lucas said.
"Then, we won't do that other stuff. I can change later. I want to see Haley," Peyton said, turning to Jake. She started to pout.
"Who?" they both asked.
"Boys are such idiots. Have you been listening to a word I said? Taylor's younger sister, Haley, is flying into town right now. She's my friend and I want to see her. I haven't seen her in six years," Peyton said. Jake smirked sympathetically.
"Then another hour won't make that much of a difference," Lucas said. Peyton's mouth dropped open and she kicked his seat.
"Lucas Scott, don't be so rude!"
"Ow! Damn it, Peyton," Lucas exclaimed as he swerved to the side of the road and then got back into the proper lane.
"Please?" she asked.
"Look, if Haley's just coming to town, I don't think she's going to want a bunch of people to ambush her at the airport. Would you?" Jake asked. Peyton shook her head.
"I guess not," she said.
"Then, we'll drive over to the house so you can see her when Nathan calls to tell us that they're back," Lucas said. Peyton nodded in agreement.
Twenty-year-old Haley James walked away from baggage claim with all the other people on her flight. She was lugging a huge bag on her shoulder that had her computer and purse in it. Her guitar case was slung around her other shoulder. She had three suitcases in her hands as well. She went to an area where people were sitting waiting for people to pick them up or waiting for their flight, or even waiting to pick other people up. She sat down and put her guitar down on the floor beside her. She looked around, searching for her mother or another familiar face, but sighed deeply when she didn't see anyone. She had called her mother from the plane and made sure it was enough time so that she would get there before her plane landed. And her plane had been late too! Where was her mother?
"Haley!" a familiar voice carried over the noise of the airport.
Nathan followed Taylor, Brooke and Lydia through the noisy airport to the seating area that someone had directed them to. "Haley!" Taylor called out. No one answered. Nathan looked around, searching for a girl with blonde hair and similar figure to Taylor's. He knew that Haley was a year younger than them, so she shouldn't look too much different.
"Taylor?" someone called. There was a figure walking towards them, but through the hustle of other people, Nathan couldn't quite see what they looked like.
"Little sis!" Taylor exclaimed, hugging someone. Lydia and Brooke came over and hugged her too. Nathan just put his hands in his pockets and started to look around.
"Uh, guys, I do need to breathe," the girl said, laughing. They let her go and Nathan looked Taylor's little sister over. She didn't look a thing like Taylor or Brooke. First of all, her hair was brown as were her eyes. Taylor's were blue. She was smaller and skinnier than both Brooke and Taylor. She was wearing black pants and a simple white t-shirt and a long black jacket. She had hoop earrings and a necklace that had a simple hoop that the chain connected to. The hoop rested on her skin a few inches below her neck.
"Look at you!" Lydia exclaimed. She walked over and took both of Haley's arms and held them up and apart from each other so she could get a look at her. "You're a little too skinny," Lydia said. Brooke and Taylor scoffed.
"Mom, she looks hot," Taylor said, shaking her head in annoyance.
"Yeah, you do look really different, Hales," Brooke said. Haley scrunched her face in confusion and shrugged.
"It's been six years. What'd you expect? Last time you saw me I was fourteen," Haley said.
"Good point," Taylor said, putting her arm around Haley and giving her a squeeze.
"I've missed you," she said.
"Same here," she said as she turned and met Nathan's gaze. Haley looked at the stranger with a confused look on her face. Following her gaze, Taylor chuckled. "Hi," she said to him. He looked up at her in surprise.
"Hi," he said politely.
"Haley, this is mine and Brooke's friend, Nathan Scott. He was kind enough to offer to drive us here and pick you up," Taylor said. Haley nodded.
"Well, thanks," she said.
"It's no problem," he said, coming closer and shaking her outstretched hand. It was warm and her skin was soft and smooth. She took her hand away slowly, keeping eye contact with him for an extra second longer than needed and then turned back around and headed to the chairs. She started picking up her luggage. "I can help you with that," he said.
"Thanks," she said in surprise. He walked over with her and saw her reach for the guitar.
"You play guitar?" he asked. She nodded. He took it from her as well as two suitcases while she carried a shoulder bag and a suitcase.
"So, Saint Haley, are you visiting or staying?" Brooke joked and she and Taylor burst out laughing. Haley looked at them in annoyance. She loved her cousin like a sister and everything, but sometimes Brooke, as well as Taylor, got on her nerves.
"Girls, you know that she's staying," Lydia said, rolling her eyes.
Before Haley had left, Brooke and Taylor had just started high school and excluding her a lot since she was still in middle school. They had always been the inseparable pair and they were more like twins than cousins. They had the same interests and the same dislikes. Haley doubted that either one of them had a difference of opinion on anything. The three of them shared the same DNA, but that's where their similarities ended. They were loud, obnoxious and used to being the centre of attention. Haley was quiet, cooperative and didn't care what people thought of her. She was the odd apple in her family and being so different from the rest of her family gave her the strength to face other people in school who would try to make fun of her. Once she opened her mouth and put them in their place, they got the message to not mess with her.
Haley bounded down the stairs of her house about two hours later and she was dressed in a pair of jeans and a light blue t-shirt. "So, Hales, how's your room?" Brooke asked.
"Smaller than I remember," Haley replied.
"You were up there for a while," Taylor commented.
"I was fixing my piano," she said.
"It's broken? Nobody's touched that thing," Brooke said. Haley smirked.
"No, it's not broken, but I had to tune it," she said, chuckling. Then there was a knock on the door.
"Nathan, could you get that?" Taylor asked. Nathan shrugged and walked out of the room.
"So, who is he exactly?" Haley asked.
"Our friend," Taylor said. Brooke chuckled.
"I think he was a little more of a friend to you for a while," she commented. Then it snapped into her head.
"Wait a minute. That's Nathan? Your boyfriend?" Haley asked.
"Ex-boyfriend, but, yeah," Taylor said.
"They broke up a few weeks ago, but now they're friends," Brooke said in an amused tone. Taylor looked over at her.
"What's wrong with that?" she asked.
"He's always around," Brooke said in annoyance.
"He is not. We had plans today so that's why he was here today. But Haley interrupted them and he offered to pick her up," Taylor argued. Haley couldn't help but flinch at Taylor's tone. It was almost begrudging.
"Well, if you have plans, then why don't you go?" Haley snapped. Taylor looked at her in surprise. Taylor had never heard Haley yell before. She didn't think her sister was capable of raising her voice in anger or annoyance and it was unnerving to Taylor to find that she could.
"We would be, but we're supposed to spend time with you," Brooke said. The surprise at Haley's new attitude was evident in her tone as well. Haley scoffed.
"Well, I just got home after being away for six years. Far be it for me to interfere with one of your daily shopping trips," Haley said sarcastically.
Nathan walked into the kitchen with Peyton, Jake, Lucas and Joe trailing behind him. When he walked into the room and saw the surprised looks on Brooke's and Taylor's faces, he knew something was up. He could feel a lot of tension in the room and most of it was radiating off of Haley. He turned to look at her and was surprised to see a look of anger on her face. "Haley, no one said that you were interfering," Taylor said. Haley laughed.
"Both of you just did," she said.
"No, we didn't," Brooke argued.
"We never said that," Taylor said again.
"Well, you certain implied it," Haley said, turning back around and grabbing some stuff out of the kitchen. Then, she slammed the cupboard door shut with a force that made all of them, but Nathan, jump in surprise.
"Wow. Taylor, Haley, and Brooke fighting. It's nice to see that some things never change," Peyton commented and smiled when she saw Haley freeze. She turned around and looked at Peyton carefully. Her big brown eyes widened in surprise.
"Peyton, is that you?" she asked smiling. Peyton stepped out from behind Jake, Lucas and Nathan. She cocked her head to the side and her blonde curls bounced right back into place as she moved her head.
"What, do I look different?" she asked. Haley burst out laughing as Peyton came over and hugged her. "How've you been, Hales?" Peyton asked.
"Fine," she said as she pulled away. "What about you?" Haley asked.
"Can't complain," Peyton said.
"Ahem," Jake said and coughed to announce his presence. Haley looked at him in confusion. Peyton laughed and reached for his hand. He took hers and squeezed it.
"Haley, this is my boyfriend, Jake Jagielski," she said. Haley smiled and shook his hand.
"Jake, this is Haley, obviously," Peyton said.
"Hi, nice to meet you," Haley said.
"You too," Jake said.
"This is my boyfriend and Nathan's brother, Lucas Scott," Brooke said. Haley nodded and shook his hand.
"This is my boyfriend, Joe," Taylor said. Haley nodded and shook his hand.