A.N. So, wow, hmm...Well I suppose the story needs some form of an explanation. Originally this was started as the spring challenge fic for the board. Then Jess got her hands on it and refused to accept it cause she wanted me to do a full length fic to it. So that's why it's not. So lots of thanks goes out Mariah for beta-ing this. And to Michelle and Rian cause I didn't stop bouncing ideas off of them. And Maggie for the fantabulous banner. And also to Sam, for well being Sam.
Congratulations on the baby! I can't wait to see how big you are, I'm sure you look gorgeous though! My flight gets in from Paris at 10:15 on Wednesday morning, and Blondie's gets in at like 10:00 or something so we'll rent a car and come straight to the house! Can't wait to see you! Give my love to Nathan.
"You've got to be kidding me," Nathan scoffed dropping the card with Brooke's loopy handwriting back onto the marble kitchen counter top of the mansion that he and Haley have resided in for just over a year.
The entire house, with pale walls and marble floors was brand new, pristine, cold and unwelcoming; everything that shouldn't personify the state of their marriage and their lives together but sadly did.
"It was Brooke's idea," Haley's voice was cruel in it's nonchalance as she stared coolly at her husband of over a decade.
"Of course it was," his tone had yet to lose it's scoffing sarcastic tenor, a tone that had drawn Haley to her husband so many years before but now only seemed to infuriate her.
"Well, I sure as hell didn't invite them here for the last two weeks of my pregnancy," Haley wrenched open the fridge and pulled out a bottle of water, "you're the one who invited Lucas."
"Whatever, we'll put on a nice little show for two weeks. Make everyone believe that everything is just perfect," Nathan trailed a finger over the bare skin on Haley's upper arm, "you're great at pretending everything is okay, aren't you babe?"
"Fuck you Nathan." Haley's brown eyes flashed out a warning and her mouth formed a thin, dangerous line telling Nathan that he was treading dangerous waters. Waters he's hardly held his head above for the last two years.
Nathan let out a cruel sounding laugh, "I'm sure you can have one of your fuck buddies take my place." Walking halfway out the kitchen he stopped to turn his shoulder, "you may want to ask them to stay away while our friends are here though. It might shock them to see the truth behind the charade that is our marriage."
Before Haley could react to his demeanor Nathan had already left. Anger brewed deep within her causing her to hurl the water bottle clenched in her hand at the cream walls.
"Mrs. Scott," Lenora, the Scott's housekeeper, was an older Hispanic woman who had worked for them for almost six years now. She'd been privy to battles between the famous Scott couple that tabloids would pay plenty of money to get their hands on, but Lenora was a trustworthy woman who picked up after the disasters they created, things always ended up being thrown and usually something a hell of a lot more expensive then a bottle of water. She never commented on the fighting, never said a word against it and with a click of her tongue and a sigh she'd set to sweeping or mopping. She'd seen both of them in so much pain that there was no way she'd go to the tabloids with information, she felt for them no differently than she did her own children and with that feeling the Scotts, the NBA's golden couple, were safe from either of their names being dragged through the mud.
"I'm going out Lenora," Haley stated as she easily stepped over the puddle of water that had formed at the entrance of the kitchen courtesy of her very own water bottle. She stopped briefly in the grand entrance of the estate to stare at her reflection in the full length mirror that had been placed there for just that reason. With her light auburn hair curled perfectly and every aspect of her facial make-up flawless she looked like the very picture of a perfect trophy wife, complete with the designer handbag and outfit. Her black maternity shirt showed off her rounded stomach and more cleavage then most nine-month pregnant women could get away with. But Haley James-Scott wasn't any of these women.
Long ago she had shed her tutor-girl image and stepped into the roll of sexy wife of Nathan Scott, NBA's MVP and the US' newest golden boy. If you were to ask anyone who knew her they'd tell you she was confident, sexy, friendly, generous with her money and her time, and had a gorgeous home and husband who obviously loved her very much, but it was only her closest friends scattered across the country and the world who noticed that her smile never reached her eyes when she stood faithfully next to her husband during press conferences. But those were the same people who dismissed it just as easily, brushing the nagging feeling that something was wrong with the fact that she'd never recovered from her grief and putting the thought out of their mind.
Congratulations on your graduation! Can't wait to see you Hales, we'll be coming into town for the two days surrounding graduation. We're so proud of you.
Mom and Dad
Haley smiled as she closed the small card with pictures of graduation hats on the front of it and set it back down on the counter, "my parents are coming for graduation."
"That's great," Nathan brushed the comment off, making it clear to his wife that he wasn't paying any attention to her words, "did you bother looking through the rest of the mail?"
"No," she shook her head. They'd been spending most of their time at the hospital with Lucas lately and the mail had started stacking, "why?" Her voice tinged with curiosity as she plopped herself onto a stool at the counter of the kitchen in their apartment.
"Because there was more in that pile than useless catalogs in our weeks worth of mail," Nathan responded with a smirk spread across his face as he held up four envelopes, two in each hand baring the insignia for Duke and the other for Stanford.
"Oh my god!" Haley jumped off the stool and clapped her hands together, "with everything going on with Luke lately I totally forgot that our acceptance letters were coming."
A frown creased Nathan's features at the mention of his brother but he brushed it off, "which should we open first?"
"Stanford!" Haley stated quickly, "no, no, Duke!" She'd been waiting for this moment for most of her life, she dreamed about college for so long and now she was only a week away from graduating and she'd completely forgotten.
"Well, which?" Nathan teased waving the envelopes in the air.
"Duke," Haley nodded her head firmly this time, hardly able to contain her excitement.
"Nathan! Just gimme!" Haley quickly reached for the letters with her name on it and her eyes immediately seeked out the letter with Duke's print on it. Briefly her eyes locked onto Nathan's and they shared looks of encouragement before they both ripped into their letters, quickly scanning the contents for words like accepted and scholarship.
"I got a full ride!" Nathan exclaimed, "to play basketball for them," quickly he pulled Haley into a tight hug that lifted her off of the ground.
Haley laughed as he spun her around before gracefully setting her back on her feet, "Nathan that is so amazing I am so proud of you."
"What about you?"
"Partial academic," Haley grinned, Nathan's excitement was infectious and she couldn't help but be excited over her partial scholarship.
Nathan pressed his lips against Haley's. She could feel his excitement in the way he kissed her, wrapping his arms tightly around her, "I love you. And if we decide to go to Duke we'll come up with the other half."
If they chose Duke? Haley couldn't believe that there was really a part of Nathan that was considering not going to Duke. With the way his blue eyes were sparkling with more excitement than Haley had seen there in months she couldn't believe that he had actually remembered that they applied to Stanford too, because that's where she wanted to go.
"Well then, let's check out these Stanford letters," Haley announced as she slid her finger under the seal of the envelope; her heart in her throat. She almost half wished that they didn't accept her. She didn't want either of them to have to choose between their dream schools. Haley fumbled to pull the letter out of the envelope and her eyes immediately flood with tears as she read the words accepted and full ride. She'd dreamed of those words, written on this paper since she could remember and now that she held it all on her hands she felt sick to her stomach.
"I got in," Haley was surprised that Nathan's voice could contain any more pride and excitement then it had moments before but it did.
"We'll go to Stanford," Nathan spoke without a second thought, "I can play basketball anywhere. You've wanted to go to Stanford your whole life."
Haley blinked slowly. He was prepared to walk away from his dream for hers without so much as a blink of an eye, but hadn't she followed her dreams when she'd gone on tour with Chris? No, it wasn't fair for him to do this; it was time for her to let him follow his dreams. Haley wiped at the tears on her cheeks with her left hand while her right crumpled the letter, "I didn't get a scholarship, Nate. Let's go to Duke."
"Hales," Nathan paused as she searched Haley's face for some sort of an indication that she wanted something other then what she had just said.
She offered him a bright smile, "we were leaving it up to fate to pick our colleges for us and I think that this is what we're supposed to do. Besides, Duke's close to home and who knows what's going to happen to Lucas. I think we should be close to home."
"This is what you want?" Nathan took a step closer to Haley so he was looking right down at her. His blue eyes locked onto her chocolate brown ones.
She nodded, "Duke's an amazing school Nate, and you'll get to play ball."
"I love you," Nathan repeated his earlier sentiments as he pulled her close.
"I love you too," Haley responded wrapping her arms tightly around him so that he couldn't see the traces of disappointment written all over her facial features.
"Mom!" The yell came from somewhere on the second floor of the modest house in the middle of a New Jersey suburb, the words were followed by a loud crash and a thud.
"Mom have you seen my backpack?" An Asian girl with her hair half braided in pigtails came skidding to a stop in front of her mother.
"Mom! Mason won't let me practice!"
The proclamation is followed by several piano keys being struck at once creating a horrible off key sound and a shriek from the same girl who the voice belonged to.
"Alright!" Peyton Sawyer, 28 and the mother of five, had had enough uttering her next threat with her hand covering the mouthpiece of the phone in her hand. "The next person, who isn't bleeding or seriously injured, who says my name before I get off this phone will be grounded and have to stay with Annie instead of going to the opening tomorrow."
This of course didn't silence her house. With so many children silence was impossible, but it did stop her children from demanding all of her attention so she could give it to Simon. Simon, her assistant, was enough of a nervous wreck without all of the distractions that were usually a part of the just before school mornings.
"Yeah, Simon, I'm here, just the typical Sawyer house drama." Peyton couldn't help but smirk at his nervous tone. He'd been with her for the last four club openings and provided a sort of amusement through the stress of the final days, mostly because he worried enough for the both of them put together, "no, they'll be there," the blonde laughed, "Simon just because they didn't call you personally doesn't mean that the band won't be there, because I talked to them myself. Besides, I hooked them up with their label they owe me." As the noise in the living room escalated Peyton had no choice but to end the conversation with Simon, "listen, everything is set up for tomorrow night. Call me if you have anything else to freak out about but not until after nine when I have the kids in school, but I've got to go now before those very same kids land me on the five o'clock news."
Once Peyton shut the phone off, she took a deep calming breath. Mornings were always chaos and without a doubt the most stressful part of her day. She could handle booking bands for the six clubs she owned in New York City. She could handle talent scouting for various record labels and occasionally doing the art for album covers for various bands. She kept her head, was calm, cool and collected. But give her two hours to get her hoodlums out the door and she very easily lost her cool. She loved her kids. She'd known what she was getting into when she time after time adopted but that didn't stop her from being a stressed mother.
"Ilyssia," Peyton pulled the 5-year-old towards her and expertly finished the second braid, "your backpack is behind the couch. Today when you get home make sure that it makes it to your bedroom." Peyton followed Ilyssia to the living room where her oldest daughter and son, 10 and 7 respectively, were still arguing. "Daisy, you don't have time to practice this morning, we're leaving for school in 10 minutes and as far as I can tell you've yet to brush your hair." Peyton gently touched Daisy's matted hair, "as for you Mason you know the rules, leave your sister alone when she's practicing."
"I'm ready for pre-school," 4-year-old Brandon declared appearing next to Peyton and clutching his favorite picture book to his chest, "I'm taking this for show 'n' tell, cause you drewed it."
"And how many books did you pull off of your shelf in the process?" Brandon's guilty expression was enough to tell Peyton she didn't want to know, "that'll need to be picked up when you get home from school."
"Up Mama," Peyton smiled down at the child currently demanding her attention. With her dark head full of crazy curls and mocha colored skin Georgiana was typically as sweet as she looked.
Swinging her 2-year-old onto her hip Peyton asked, "Georgie girl are you ready to take your brothers and sisters to school now?" At her enthusiastic nod Peyton called out, "everyone, car now!" She briefly paused in the bathroom to catch sight of herself before she left, just to make sure that she didn't have some child's breakfast food stuck to her face or hair. She looked every bit the part of a soccer mom. Her blonde curls were pulled back into a messy ponytail, worn jeans and a t-shirt that by the end of the day would have some new stain, finish her ensemble and she couldn't help but think what her best friends would think of her now. They hadn't all been together in years and with a reunion of all five of the high school best friend Peyton couldn't help but wonder if she changed the most.
"I'm coming, I'm coming!" Peyton ran a hand through her wet hair. Her doorbell had rung three times since she stepped out of the shower, just enough time for her to throw on a pair of boxer shorts and a white tank. "I'm coming!" Peyton yelled again. Why the hell would someone ring her doorbell so incessantly? People who knew Peyton just walked in and no one else should be standing at anyone's door and ringing like an idiot.
"Jake," Peyton's jaw dropped suddenly feeling like she'd been hit in the stomach with a soccer ball at the sight of him standing in front of her.
"Hey," Jake offered a meager smile in response.
"I can't believe you're here," She stated as she finally began to process the fact that he stood there in front of her and she moved to wrap her arms around him in a tight hug.
"You look great," Jake commented when they finally pulled out of a long embrace.
Peyton ran her hand self-consciously through her hair, once she processed that he was there her brain wouldn't let her move past the fact that Jenny wasn't with him.
"Jenny's in foster care," Jake explained as if he could read her thoughts.
"What?" There was that soccer ball in the stomach feeling again, "Jake, God, come in," she pulled Jake into the house, "explain."
"I caught up with Nikki in LA," Jake stated once they're settled on the living room couch, "giving enough time to watch her get arrested for a list of charges."
"Nikki's a shitty mother, but that doesn't explain why you don't have her," Peyton's leg bounced nervously as she waited for Jake's explanation.
"Apparently kidnapping your child doesn't look good to child welfare."
Peyton searched Jake's face for some sort of emotion but found him calmer then she would have expected.
"That's idiotic! You're an amazing father, Jake, and you took Jenny because of Nikki..."
"Jake we'll fight it...we'll..."
"Like hell they are."
"Right now I can't be a good father to Jenny; I want her to have the best life possible. That's not with a father who has yet to finish high school, and the people she's with right now Peyt, they're amazing. And they're great with her; I'm allowed to see her."
"So you're just going to give up?" Peyton couldn't believe what she heard. After everything Jake had gone through, he wouldn't fight for her one last time, "Jake, it's Jenny." There was no way Peyton could keep the tears that began to well up down. Deep within she'd always hoped Jake would come back with Jenny and they'd be a family again.
"Hey," Jake gently pulled Peyton to him, "I was thinking that I'd stick around for awhile."
"It won't be the same," Peyton shook her head. Suddenly she couldn't picture their relationship without Jenny. Was that the only reason why she'd been with Jake in the first place? It couldn't be.
"I know," Jake sighed letting his arm drop from around Peyton's shoulder, "do you think we'll ever get the timing right?"
"I think we had the timing right for awhile. I needed a family and you and Jenny were it. And I was...convenient..."
"You were one hell of a lot more than a convenience," Jake insisted, "there's never been a doubt in my mind that I loved you."
Peyton shrugged in response. What could she say to that? She knew she loved Jake too but they weren't ready for a relationship, "maybe you're right, maybe the timing was never right. Or maybe I wanted to be Jenny's mom so much that I let myself be in love with you. I don't have any answers, Jake, except I do know that neither of us were ready to have the type of relationship we had. Playing house."
"I know you're right," Jake nodded, "I'm going to go, no more popping in and out of your life."
Peyton walked him to the door, "maybe one day we'll get it right Jake." Before letting him walk away Peyton kissed him softly as he squeezed her hand before walking out the door.
"Ms. Davis, your 4:30 appointment's rescheduled to 5:30," Brooke's secretary, Veronica, informed her the instant she set foot into her office.
"So I have an hour free?" Brooke asked quickly, her thoughts immediately shifting from work to what, or rather whom, she could do with for a free hour.
"Um actually, Ms. Davis," Veronica had a nervous look on her face as she handed Brooke a stack of contracts that needed to be looked over, "Racquel called ten minutes ago, she quit. She said she'd finish out today but that's it."
"Damn," Brooke cursed as she tucked the folders under her arm, "what is it this time?"
"Well," Veronica shifted uncomfortably at the situation she'd been put into, once again having to explain to her boss what her daughter had done.
"Well, out with it," Brooke demanded as her heeled foot tapped on the lushly carpeted floor.
"Her exact words were, 'I'm tired of taking care of a pain in the ass brat 24/7'. Apparently Sasha went through Racquel's closet and cut apart anything that wasn't currently in style."
A smile played at the corner of Brooke's lips as she thought about her daughter's frumpy nanny of two months, "write Racquel a check for the clothes and call the nanny service to get a replacement as soon as possible. I leave tomorrow and I need someone to watch Sasha."
"I already have," Veronica replied a she prepared herself for the wrath that would follow her next words, "the nanny agency doesn't have anyone else to send. Sasha's earned a reputation and no one will take the job. Apparently Racquel was your last resort."
"What the fuck am I supposed to do now?" Brooke snapped, "I leave tomorrow for LA, Racquel said she would be fine. What the hell am I supposed to do with Sasha?"
"You could take her with you," Veronica tentatively suggested.
"Oh, fantastic idea," came Brooke's snarky response, "to show my best friend the five-year-old terror I've raised?"
"If you used the term 'raised' loosely," Veronica muttered under her breath before she quickly added, "I'm not sure you have much of a choice Ms. Davis."
"I have a video conference with the editor of Vogue in fifteen minutes but when I'm done I want you to have a name of someone to watch my daughter while I'm in LA." Brooke almost made it to her office before she added, "and keep my 4:30 window open, call Bryan and tell him I'd like to see him and I've got an hour free. His wife'll be back when I get back from LA..." Brooke trailed there was no need to say anymore her secretary was more then well informed about the liaison between Brooke and their very married, slightly older, advertising rep.
At twenty-eight Brooke Davis seemingly had it all. If the could see her now, they'd probably say she was exactly the same. That she'd traded in her designer jeans for designer business suits; and high school parties for exclusive after show parties. That she'd traded in her high school boyfriend, star of the basketball team, in for big screen stars that she married and then discarded like last years newest designer shoes. But despite the fact that outwardly Brooke hadn't changed in the last years, she knew that inside she wasn't the same person she'd been in high school. She'd lost a piece of her soul when she walked away from Tree Hill, and for the first time in ten years she was about to confront that missing piece.
"Hey Pretty Girl," Lucas greeted from his position on his own bed. It had been three weeks since he'd collapsed in the middle of a pick-up game at the River Court.
Three weeks since Brooke had waited anxiously with their closest friends until a doctor came out to announce that Lucas had had a major heart attack and that it was now a waiting game to see if he'd make it through the night. It had been two and a half weeks since Brooke had overheard a drunken Dan Scott sob to his son that it had been him who had shot the only father Lucas had ever known and then asked God if he would give him his son back he'd turn himself in. It had been two weeks since Lucas had woken up and two weeks since most of the town of Tree Hill had turned out to watch their mayor be escorted by police away from the hospital. It had been one week since Brooke had gotten the acceptance letter that had offered her the chance of a lifetime. And it had been three hours since Brooke had made the decision that would break both of their hearts.
"Hey Luke," Brooke returned the greeting. She couldn't find it in her heart to use any of the numerous nicknames they had for each other. Was she horrible for doing this to him when he was recovering from a nearly fatal heart attack? But what was the point of waiting, it'd end the same.
"What's wrong?" Lucas pushed himself up further on the bed, his eyes searched Brooke's for some clue as to what was going through her head.
"I got accepted to a fashion school in Paris," Brooke handed Lucas the envelope and watched as he quickly pulled the letter out and read through the words.
"That's great," Lucas smiled brightly, "it's the perfect school for you. I'm so proud of you."
How was it that he'd always known what to say to her when she needed it to be said. He was only making this harder, "it's in Paris."
"We'll work it out."
Brooke shook her head, "we can't. I think we should break up."
"Brooke..." Lucas trailed, "I know you're worried about the long distance thing but we can make it work."
"No," Brooke shook her head, "I don't want to make it work. I want to go to Paris and start over, and I can't do that if I'm leaving behind a boyfriend." Her words were cruel, she knew, but it was the easiest way to do this. If he knew that she still loved him more then anything he would fight her on this and she couldn't have that. She needed to break it off so that when he found someone new, because she knew he would the inevitable would have already happened. She couldn't stand to get a phone call from him months down the line saying that the distance was too hard and that he'd found someone closer to home.
"Brooke, I love you," Lucas stated, "and I don't know what's going through your head. But you're scared about something, I can see it. Just talk to me, we'll figured it out."
Brooke focused on snatching the envelope back from him, and let anger bubble to the surface, anything to keep her from crying in front of him. "There's nothing to figure out, Luke, I don't want to be with you. End of story." She turned on her heel then, unable to look at the broken expression on his face, an expression that would have matched hers if she had let it show. She paused as her hand reached for the handle to whisper under her breath, "good-bye Broody."