Summary: AU. She doesn't know. She just doesn't. Nathan and Brooke. Oneshot.
Disclaimer: No, I don't own them.
A/N: The ending of this is up to the reader, just a warning. It's very much up to interpretation, and you'll know what I mean after you read. Reviews are very much appreciated.
The match lights, flickers, then flares. A slight twist of the wrist and the match ignites the moody maroon stick of incense, spirals through the air until it hits the wood of the dresser and extinguishes. She pushes her hair behind her ears and blows out the flame on the incense, smiling softly when a light gray stream of smoke curls into the air in front of her.
Lifting the tiny remote from the bed, she aims it at the stereo and pushes play. A hesitant silence surrounds her and then the familiar sounds of the CD filter through speakers and overcompensate the quietus of the dorm room.
She opens the window and presses her palms against the bottom of the windowsill, stares out at the mass of people wandering around campus after hours. With a roll of her eyes she turns away from the damp evening air, a stray strand of hair falling in front of her face as she flops down on the bed.
"Emo does not become you," her roommate comments as she walks into the room.
"This is not emo," she argues defiantly. "This is contemplative."
"Right," Erin rolls her eyes. "Hawthorne Heights? Come on, Brooke."
"It's a mix," Brooke retorts.
"Apple spice! Not emo!"
"Whatever you say, Davis," Erin chuckles and sits down on her own bed, the tiny space between the cramped twin mattresses too palpable. The volume of the stereo seems to increase, though it doesn't, and an awkward silence settles over the room as Erin adjusts to make herself more comfortable.
"I thought you were studying tonight," Brooke says suddenly. She raises an eyebrow and settles into her pillows, a thick novel lying next to her untouched.
"Couldn't concentrate," Erin shrugs, "Decided I'd come back here and order Chinese; try and get some work done. But apparently you cancelled your plans for this evening, so that's been shot to hell."
"I never told you I had plans for tonight."
"You always have plans."
"Oh, and you don't?"
"Never said that," Erin argues. "I just assumed you would be gone tonight."
"Well, you assumed wrong."
Brooke rolls her eyes again and pulls her hair back into a pony tail. She picks up the novel laying on the mattress next to her, quirks her mouth as she contemplates the title, and then sighs as she opens the book and starts to read.
Half a sentence manages to register in her mind before the sharp clicking of Erin's laptop distracts her and the sharp-and-mellow scent of her incense gets on her nerves. She rolls her eyes and closes the book again, tosses on an old hoodie and slips on a pair of flip flops.
"I need coffee," Brooke returns. Erin gestures toward the smoke that's curling through the air in the room and Brooke rolls her eyes, nods as she leaves the dorm and shuts the door behind her. No point in letting it burn if she's not going to be there to enjoy it. The quiet sounds of the stereo cut off just as the door clicks shut and she laughs to herself.
It still amazes her that they haven't killed each other yet. Then again, she's only been here for two months; there's still time.
She walks through the halls quietly, hands in her pockets, head up and brown eyes alert as she smiles at people she recognizes. The air is warm when she leaves her building and she considers rolling up the sleeves of her sweatshirt as the click of her shoes accompanies her otherwise-silent journey to the coffee house by the student center.
"Hello, maturity," someone says sarcastically. Brooke turns her head and spots the guy talking on his cell phone, a pissed-off expression on his face as he listens into the receiver. "You act like I did this!" A pause, "Whatever. If you wanna be a bitch that's your problem." He snaps his cell phone shut and shoves it into his back pocket, scratching the back of his head absently. When he glances up at her she flushes, continues walking toward her destination.
She clenches her hands in the material of her sweatshirt when he jogs to catch up with her.
"Taken up a career in eavesdropping, Brooke?"
"Well, you know me," she retorts. "Always up for a good round of gossip," she says dryly. He chuckles and she pushes a strand of hair behind her ear, clenches her other hand in her pocket again. "Haley, I assume?"
She nods her understanding and weaves through a small group of giggling sorority girls as they make their way into the coffee house together. The intense scent of caffeine catches her off guard for a moment and she pauses in the doorway to take in the familiar smells and sounds of the place.
"So is there a particular reason you're out here so late?"
"Erin decided to come back from the library early," Brooke explains. "Which meant I either had to put up with her typing and talking to herself or I had to leave and find something else to do for a while."
"The coffee won, I see."
"Caffeine does seem to own over my bitchy roommate, yes," she laughs. Nathan smiles and nods.
"Understandably," he agrees. "She can't possibly be that bad, though, I mean … isn't it sort of a requirement that college roommates are annoying?"
"To a certain extent," Brooke agrees. "But Erin takes 'crazy roommate' to a whole new level. If I make a single sound louder than a pin drop in the morning she freaks out."
"Silent morning ritual," she clarifies. "Swear to God, the girl is a Scientologist. Or something. She's a freak!"
They make their way to the front of the small, makeshift line and order their coffee. Nathan's cell phone rings and Brooke recognizes the ringtone; it's the same one she has for Haley on hers. He sighs and ignores the call before shoving his phone back into his pocket.
"Is everything okay with you two?"
"What does that mean?"
"They're not great."
"But they're not bad?"
Her eyebrows shoot up in surprise and she smiles at the employee who hands her the warm paper cup full of coffee as Nathan does the same and then leads her to a corner booth. The material of her jeans makes a scratching noise as it slides against the cheap imitation leather of the booth and she resists the urge to roll her eyes as he sits down next to her. He's not talking; probably won't for a long time.
"She was pregnant."
Brooke inhales sharply and looks over at him, the cup in her hands shaking dangerously as she sets it on the table. Nathan traces the rim of his own cup with his index finger, a firm look of indifference on his face as he nods his head nonchalantly.
"She didn't want a baby this early and I freaked out…"
"Nathan, you don't have to tell me this."
"No," he shakes his head and looks up at her. "I want to."
"Okay," she agrees, softly. He takes a deep breath and a sip of his coffee, then nods again as he continues with the tale.
"It turned into a huge fight. I was yelling, she was crying and threatening to kick me out," he rolls his eyes, chuckles a little. "I'm surprised she didn't throw her wedding ring at my head."
"Too melodramatic," Brooke grins.
Nathan nods, "Yeah. But she said she wanted to get an abortion and all of a sudden we both just stopped what we were doing and stared at each other."
"How did you respond?"
"Told her to do what she felt was necessary."
"So she got an abortion," she says quietly. He shrugs a little. "Is that why you transferred?"
"No, that came after she got drunk and cheated on me."
The stale, lingering scent of incense assaults her as she sneaks into the room and she closes the door silently, leans her forehead against the wood with a heavy sigh. Erin looks up from her laptop and raises an eyebrow.
"Finally nail that guy in the coffee shop?"
"No," Brooke says slowly, "Unlike some people, I don't sleep with every cute guy I meet."
"Does that mean I'm supposed to think you and Nathan Scott are just friends?"
"How the hell do you know about Nathan Scott?"
Erin shrugs, "I hear things."
"Well whatever you've heard is wrong," Brooke defends. "There's nothing going on with me and Nathan."
"If you say so."
"I do say so," she agrees. "Now can we stop the interrogations for the night? I have a novel to analyze."
"God help us," Erin mutters. Brooke glares at her and flings her flip flops off, a grin spreading across her face as they hit the wall behind her bed with a resounding thump. Erin grinds her teeth together and Brooke shrugs innocently, shooting her roommate a cheeky smile as she crawls into bed and flicks on the lamp by her bed.
She watches as a look of recognition flitters across his face and she gives him an apologetic smile as she pulls her cell phone out of her purse. The ring tone cuts off a second later and she presses the plastic to her ear.
"Hey, Tutorgirl," she greets cheerfully. Nathan drops the French fry he was eating and leans back in the uncomfortable metal chair with an awkward expression.
"You don't happen to know where my soon-to-be ex-husband is, do you?"
"Haven't seen him in days," Brooke lies. He smirks at her and she grins a little, flings a fry at him as Haley explains her dilemma. "Okay, so can't you just send his stuff to the dorm?"
"Does he honestly want all of this crap? I've found six different basketballs in the apartment just in the last two days."
"Just send it all," she shrugs. "Whatever he doesn't want he can sell or throw away."
"You're being reasonable," Haley comments. "College has changed you."
"For the better, I assume?"
"Seems like it."
"Good, then," Brooke grins. "I'll talk to you later?"
"Yeah. Later," Haley replies. Brooke says goodbye and hangs up her cell phone, turning it off as she turns back to her lunch.
"Erin talked to me yesterday," Nathan says suddenly. She widens her eyes in horror as she looks up at him and he laughs a little. "She claims that you get in late every night thanks to me."
"Girl is psychotic."
"Yeah, I'm beginning to reevaluate her now. She asked me why I latched on to you as soon as I transferred here."
"How does she even know who you are?"
"Cooper dated her older sister a few years ago; met her when they all visited Tree Hill for a weekend."
"I am so sorry," Brooke shakes her head. "Must've been awful for you."
Nathan shrugs, "She was cute." She rolls her eyes and throws another fry at him. "What? She was!"
"You're such a guy."
"Thank you … I think."
"Not a compliment."
"I'll take it as one anyway," he argues. She glares at him and fails to notice the girl that walks up behind her, though the slightly annoyed look in his eyes tips her off. She eyes him curiously and turns around, brunette locks flying as she looks up at the girl behind her.
"Erin," she forces a smile. "Need something?"
"Did you grab one of my textbooks when you left this morning?"
Brooke raises her eyebrows. "Um … no, I grabbed … my purse," she holds up the object, "And my cell phone."
"Are you sure?" Erin crosses her arms in front of her chest in annoyance. "I can't find my psychology book."
"I don't have it."
"Fine," Erin forces a smile and turns her attention to the man sitting on the other side of the table. "Nathan, how are you?"
"Can't complain," he shrugs. "You?"
"Well, I was great until I realized my book is missing," Erin glares at her roommate and then smiles at him again. "Your classes are good?"
"We should totally hang out some time. The last time we ever really talked was back in Tree Hill."
"Yeah," Nathan nods. "Sure."
"Okay! I'm going to go see if someone has a book I can borrow until I can get mine back," she shoots another glare in Brooke's direction. "I'll see you soon," she directs the comment to Nathan but keeps her eyes glued to her roommate. Brooke sets her jaw and folds her arms over her chest. Erin leaves a moment later and Brooke lets out a groan, slamming her forehead against the table.
"Why couldn't they have given me a normal roommate?"
"She's just helpless to the Scott charm," Nathan shrugs. "Soon enough you'll know where she's coming from." Brooke throws another French fry at him and giggles when he scoffs at the action.
She sits down on one of the various boxes that litter the living room of his new apartment, sighing heavily. He leans against the kitchen counter and she cocks her head to the side, a small smile spreading across her features as she appraises him.
Brooke's smile widens. "Nothing," she shakes her head.
"See something you like, Davis?"
"Nope," she shakes her head again. Nathan smirks.
She hums her agreement and nods her head, leaning back against the wall as he pushes himself off the counter. Her ankles cross and her flip flops slide up her feet, idly falling to the floor as he walks closer to her.
"Are you sure this is a safe neighborhood? We are in San Diego, after all, there is a high crime rate."
"Higher than Tree Hill?"
"But lower than Sunnydale," she agrees.
"Buffy freak," he shakes his head and stands over her, bracing his hands against the wall while she stands up so that she's level with him.
"You say it like you aren't one, too," she sticks out her bottom lip and then grins at him, dimples in full effect. Nathan rolls his eyes and dips closer to her, sliding his palms down the wall. Brooke angles her mouth up to meet his when a loud crashing noise forces them both to look at the door.
"Dude, you left the couch on the porch," Jay exclaims. "I could've broken my neck!"
"Thank God you survived," Nathan deadpans. Brooke slips under his arm and traipses across the room to greet the other man with a hug.
"I thought you weren't getting in until tomorrow!"
"Bored," Jay shrugs. "Mom didn't need me, figured I'd come back early. Realized this was moving weekend and packed up my stuff," he nods. Brooke grins.
"Well, I'm glad. Now you can do all the heavy lifting!" She turns to Nathan. "Think you can do the rest without me? I have a paper to write."
"You always have a paper to write."
"It's a convenient excuse," she agrees with a grin. He stares at her for a moment and then nods, gesturing toward the door with his hand.
"Go." She grins and gives him a kiss on the cheek before hugging Jay again and leaving the apartment. Nathan lets out a breath and Jay grins at him.
"I interrupted something, didn't I?"
"You always do."
His lips press against hers in the dark and she grins against his mouth, tangles her fingers in the short strands of his hair as she tugs him closer. He wraps his arms around her waist and lifts her up slightly until she's completely pressed against his body.
Letting out a groan, she tips her head back and he trails his mouth down her neck, nipping at her pulse point before soothing the bite with his tongue. Brooke murmurs nonsense into the air around them, letting him press her into the wall as he kisses her again.
"Did you just call me Jay?"
"No," she giggles, "Jay's going to be home soon."
"And he would be coming into my bedroom because…"
"You're secretly gay lovers?"
"Nice try," Nathan laughs against her throat and tugs at her tank top, pulling the thin fabric over her head as he kisses her again. She grinds her nails into his shoulder blades and then frantically tugs at the cloth of his t-shirt.
"Too many clothes," she murmurs against his mouth. He pulls away from her long enough to pull his shirt over his head, and they kiss again right when the stereo system in the living room starts playing a fast-pace techno song that neither has heard before.
"What the fuck?"
Several voices shout from down the hall and Nathan groans as he presses his forehead against hers. Brooke runs her fingers across his abs and kisses him lightly.
"Looks like you're hosting a party."
"I'm going to kill Jay."
The party thunders in full force around her and she takes the rolled up piece of paper from Jay with a smile. Holding it between her fingertips, she looks around at the slew of college kids that have invaded the apartment. She rolls her eyes when she spots Erin on the opposite side of the room and raises the joint to her mouth.
She inhales slowly, exhales even slower as she leans back against him on the couch. He runs his hands across her stomach and kisses the back of her neck intently, only taking the joint from her when she pokes him incessantly.
"This is going to fuck up my concentration," Nathan warns. Brooke shrugs and spins around, straddling him as he takes a hit.
"Mm, but it makes things so much more…" she nips at his earlobe and takes the object from him. "Fun," she breathes against his neck. He groans quietly and slides his hands around her hips possessively.
"Tease," he admonishes. Shrugging, she takes another hit and her eyes glaze over as she exhales.
"So touch me."
Her skull is pounding and she buries her head in her pillow with a groan, suddenly regretting her decision to come back to her dorm. She could have stayed with him; probably would've been easier, but she had gone back to her dorm and attempted to sleep off the inevitable hangover.
"There's aspirin on your dresser," Erin says loudly. Brooke winces and buries her head further into the pillow.
"Thanks," she mutters. Erin nods and turns her attention back to the text book that's open on her lap.
"So, you and Nathan are just friends, huh?"
"Relationships progress," Brooke rolls her eyes and swallows a couple of the small, white pills. She takes a drink from the bottle of water that's sitting next to the aspirin and turns to face her roommate.
"Friends to groping in two months," Erin nods. "Not bad."
"Oh, honey, you're looking a little green. You should probably get that checked out."
"I'm not jealous."
"Sure you aren't."
"It just pisses me off that girls like you get everything while girls like me do all the work."
"All the work? I'm sorry; you've been trying to court Nathan?"
"You aren't that stupid; you know I like him."
"Careful, Erin, you're starting to act a little too Swimfan for my taste," Brooke warns. Erin stares at her.
Erin opens her mouth to respond and Brooke's cell phone rings, effectively cutting her off. Brooke walks across the room and picks up her phone hastily, slipping on a pair of sandals as she leaves the dorm room.
"Please tell me you don't have class today," she pleads. Nathan chuckles.
"Erin's going all Fatal Attraction on me."
"Come over and distract yourself, then."
Brooke stops walking suddenly and grins into the phone. "Are you propositioning me, Scott?"
She grins and heads toward the stairs.
It smells like bleach. That's the only thing she can think, the only thing she can focus on. She doesn't want to consider where she is, why she's there, whose fault this is. She can't blame Jay, doesn't want to blame Nathan, and she wasn't there so she can't blame herself. An accident is the official story, though why it happened she doesn't know.
She doesn't know.
"We ran out of weed so Nathan offered to go talk to a guy I know…"
Brooke winces and runs her hands through her hair. Jay sits a few feet away from her, head in his hands as he stares at the dimly-colored waiting-room carpet. She exhales slowly and closes her eyes as she leans her head back against the wall.
"I don't know; some sort of misunderstanding, I don't know, Brooke!"
Erin plops down in the chair next to her and hands her a cup of watered-down coffee. Brooke waves it off and wipes at her eyes angrily. Erin rolls her eyes and sets the cup of coffee on the small table in front of them, crossing her arms as she sinks down in her chair.
"Shot? What the fuck do you mean he was shot?"
"I told you – something went wrong, our signals got crossed or something-"
"I don't care about your fucking signals, Jay! Nathan's in the hospital!"
She stands up and shakes her head hastily. "I have to …" she shakes her head again and runs out of the waiting room. Jay follows her and Erin remains stubbornly in her chair.
"Don't," she says firmly. Jay grabs her arm and pushes her against the wall, resting his hands on her biceps.
"You cannot lose it right now."
"Fuck you," she spits out.
"Insulting me isn't going to help," he says softly. "Nathan's in surgery; all we can do is wait."
"Wait for him to die, you mean?"
Jay hangs his head and lets go of her, but she doesn't move. "Don't do that," he whispers.
"Don't blame you, Jay?" she swallows hard. "Who the hell should I blame, then?"
"No one; it was an accident."
"He wasn't playing in the basement with daddy's pistol, you asshole! This wasn't a fucking accident!"
"Will you lower your voice? We're in a hospital," he grinds out. Brooke steps back into the wall again and laughs humorlessly.
"Oh, so you care about everyone else yet you're totally nonchalant about the fact that your best friend is dying on an operating table right now."
"He's not going to die."
"Welcome to Denial, Jay, feel as good as you thought it would?" He clenches his fists at his sides and she grins sardonically. "So you're going to hit me, now, is that it? I promise you that won't help matters."
"Not like it would make them any worse," he retorts.
"Finally, some emotion!"
"Shut up, Brooke."
"Fuck you! Your buddies put my boyfriend in the hospital with a bullet wound."
"I did not pull that trigger!"
"You may as well have."
"Shut the fuck up, Davis, you have no clue what you're talking about," Jay shakes his head and turns to walk back to the waiting room. Brooke grabs his arm and pulls him close to her, angling her body until they're less than an inch apart.
She cocks her head to the side, "So you're telling me you aren't jealous of his good fortune?"
"Come on, Jay. Erin loves Nathan, you love me, and neither of you got what you wanted. Suddenly Nathan's in the hospital thanks to an errand he went on for you?"
"Thought that was your bit," she lets go of his arm and steps back until she's leaning against the wall again. Jay stares at her and then raises his hands in surrender, turning on his heal and walking back into the waiting room.
She waits until he's out of site to sink to the floor and let her tears out.
The door of the dorm room opens and she tucks her hair behind her ears hastily. Her roommate leaves the door open and she rolls her eyes, slamming it shut before walking over to her bed and sitting down on it precariously.
"I had nothing to do with this," Erin says softly.
"Okay," Brooke nods.
"And this isn't Jay's fault, either."
"Okay," Brooke nods again.
"Is that all you're going to say?"
"If I say anything else I might lose it."
Erin nods and sits down on her bed. They stare at each other and finally Erin sighs and pulls a photo out from her bedside drawer.
"Took this at the party the other night," she holds it out and Brooke takes it after a moment's hesitation, a pained expression crossing her face as she looks at the image. She and Nathan sitting on the couch together, pre-joint and pre-sex, but smiling at each other and laughing at one of Jay's stories.
"I don't want it," Brooke shakes her head and drops it on the floor. Erin watches it flutter through the air and lets out a sigh.
"He's not dead, Brooke."
"Coma; same difference."
"He'll wake up."
"Did you and Jay get a deal on a duplex in the land of Denial? Fuck!"
Erin stands up and picks up the picture, shoving it at her roommate impatiently. "Mope all the fuck you want, that's not going to take it back or make Nathan suddenly better," she snaps. "And if I were you? I'd be at the hospital with my boyfriend and praying he wakes up rather than sitting around bitching at your friends for an accident they couldn't control any more than you."
"Jay's buddies did this."
"And I was across the street when it happened; does that mean I pulled the trigger?"
"Maybe," Brooke shrugs. "Are you going to tell me something to the contrary?"
"Oh my God," Erin rolls her eyes. She gestures to the picture, "You decide how you want to do this. You can be happy that you had the time you did with him or you can spend his last hours bitching at me and Jay about it." She storms out of the dorm a moment later and the photo flutters to the floor again.
Her hand slips into his and she rests her forehead on the mattress with a pained sigh. She strokes her fingers over the back of his hand and presses kisses to his fingertips as she attempts to catch her breath and control her tears.
"I'm sorry," she gasps. "I didn't … and it's not … I just … I'm sorry."
He doesn't move and Brooke chokes out a sob as she lets go of his hand and rushes out of the room. Jay steps out of her way as she runs down the hallway and she ignores him because it hurts too much to speak.
The match lights and extinguishes in the blink of an eye. She drops it on the pile of equally-burnt matches on her dresser and tries to light another, only to fail yet again. The stick of incense remains unlit and she groans as she throws the box of matches across the room. They scatter all over the floor when the cardboard hits the plaster and she clicks the CD player on and turns it up as loud as it will go.
Her cell phone rings but she can't hear it over the bass, and she buries her head in her pillow as she cries into the cotton. She doesn't know who's calling because she can't hear his ringtone, and when she lays down on the stereo remote she inadvertently turns it up higher.
And she doesn't know. She just doesn't.