When You're Near


Set shortly after the season 2 episode "Lifetime Piling Up"

Oneshot.


"Visiting hours are well and truly over, I'm sorry"

"I know - I understand that this is an inconvenience but…"

"Visiting hours are…"

"Over!" she snapped back, "I know, I am fully aware of that fact…"

"Well then you will just have to come back tomorrow"

Tears were pricking at her eyes as she ran her shaking hands through her hair, "Listen, I am his wife and I only just got in so I have to see him…" by the time she had blurted the words out tears were falling down her cheeks and she was gasping for breath.

"I am very sorry, miss" a warm hand rested on her shoulder as Haley swiped at the tears.

"Mrs." she corrected, "Mrs. Scott"

The nurse patted her arm and nodded, "I am very sorry Mrs. Scott. Your husband is fine, he is stable and right now he is sleeping soundly because of the medication we gave him, so…"

Still wiping at her swollen eyes, Haley focused on the honey-haired nurse standing beside her, processing the words she had just spoken.

"He's alright?" Haley whispered.

The nurse nodded and forced a small smile, "he'll be just fine…"

"How bad were his injuries, will he have scarring or…"

The nurse patted her arm again and kept smiling, "His leg will be pretty sore for a few weeks, he'll need to get around on crutches until that's healed up, and there is one small scar on his chest…"

Haley could feel a fresh set of tears forming as she imagined Nathan's pain and the difficulties he would experience in the coming weeks… how she wouldn't be there to help him, to ease the pain.

Haley closed her eyes and exhaled, running a hand through her hair again. When she opened her eyes the nurse was still standing beside her, patient and smiling.

"And he's asleep right now?"

The nurse nodded, "He probably won't wake up until tomorrow afternoon, so you can come back then if you want…"

Haley shook her head as Nathan's words swirled in her mind once more; don't come home Haley… because I don't want you to.

She bit her bottom lip and exhaled another breath before looking into the nurse's eyes. "I need to see my husband" she whispered.

The nurse began to slowly shake her head, but before she could speak Haley broke in; "ever since I got the phone call that he was hurt and in hospital I haven't been able to calm down… ever since I heard I haven't been able to keep still or eat or drink or think straight and I just need to see him and know that he is going to be alright…" her voice broke but she couldn't stop, the nurse's lips were pursed, about to tell her the exact same thing but Haley couldn't stop, not until she saw Nathan; "I need to know that he is alright, and to do that I need to see him right now, I need to touch him… I just need to be in the room with him and then maybe I will feel like I can breathe again…"

The nurse's eyes softened for a moment, as she quickly glanced over at the empty nurse's station.

"Well, I'm very sorry but I cannot allow you to go see him right now"

Haley's eyes began to water again but before she could begin pleading some more, the nurse cut in. "…But right now I am going to get a coffee from down the hall, and once I have my coffee I am going to sit at the nurse's station with my back turned away from room 321… so I am very sorry, but there is nothing I can do right now" Haley's lips began to curve into a smile, and the nurse quickly winked at her, adding "The Notebook is one of my favorite movies…" and with that she went striding down the corridor, leaving Haley with a 'thank-you' on her lips as she walked hurriedly towards room 321, thinking how grateful she was to have just been 'notebooked'.

The room was dark, moonlight poured through the slits of the blinds, illuminating everything in stripes. Nathan lay still on the bed, his face streaked in darkness.

Haley crept forward, her arms wrapped tight around her middle as she tried choking back tears that still somehow managed to creep down, wetting her cheeks. She stood by his bedside, staring at his furrowed brow, wondering what he was dreaming about.

Slowly she reached out a shaking hand and rested it lightly on his chest… she let out a relieved sigh as she felt his breathing and watched her hand rise and fall as it lay flat against him.

"Oh, Nathan" she whispered, pulling her hand away and sitting on one of the chair's beside his bed.

She reached for his hand, gently lifting it up and kissing it before lowering it again, and letting her fingers entwine with his. With her other hand she lightly touched his brow, smoothing out the worry lines.

"Its ok baby" she whispered smoothly, "I'm here now…" she gently shook her head as she looked past Nathan at all of the monitors surrounding him.

"What did you do?" she asked quietly. She asked the question, even though deep down she knew it wasn't what he had done, but what she had done.

Biting her lower lip Haley nodded her head, "I think I made a mistake, Nathan…" as she said his name her voice suddenly faltered, and despite the tears that were falling, she couldn't help but keep talking…

"The night that I got on the bus, you told me that we were over if I left and I got on that bus anyway… but I made a mistake Nathan because there's nothing these past few weeks have taught me that I didn't already know…I love you…"

She rubbed his hand as she exhaled, wiping away the tears with her free hand; "I love you and I miss you… I miss who I am when I am with you and I have this ache inside me thinking that I am never going to have you again." She gave a small nod and continued, "I made a mistake leaving you Nathan, chasing after things I have no right to want because it just makes me selfish… I found you and you were my blessing, I was wrong and selfish to think I could have more when you are all I need in this world".

Nathan's voice began ringing in her head again, and she couldn't push it aside; You have to go after your dream; just like I have to go after mine. Because if we don't, then,… we're just gonna end up regretting it… then we're gonna end up resenting each other.

Haley shook her head, "you were wrong by the way" she looked up at his sleeping face, shrouded in night. "I had my dream and I let it slip away…" she reached up again, smoothing away a piece of stray hair from his brow, "…I made a mistake, I regret getting on that bus, I regret leaving you and I know what a mistake it was now… and I just hope that you'll let me try to make it better… I hope, even though you have every right not to, I hope you'll forgive me."

Haley glanced at the clock on the wall; 2:45.

She slowly stood up, still holding his hand tightly she bent down and kissed him gently on the forehead, whispering "I love you" as she pulled away.

The winter wind is a blowing strong
My hands have got no gloves
I wish to my soul that I could see
The girl I'm a-thinking of

She looked down at their entwined hands, noticing that he was not wearing his wedding ring. Suddenly, Nathan's voice whispered in her mind again - Whatever choice you make today, is gonna affect the rest of your life.

Don't you remember me babe
I remember you quite well
You caused me to leave old Kingsport Town
With a high sheriff on my trail

"I hope you forgive me Nathan because I know I made a mistake, and I am going to try and fix it, if you let me… because I choose you, I want you, I love you… you are my life"

High sheriff on my trail, boys
High sheriff on my trail
All because I'm falling for
A curly-headed dark-eyed girl

Reluctantly, Haley slipped her hand out of Nathan's. "I know you are mad right now, and your hurting… you're not ready to forgive me…" she reached up, brushing his cheek lightly, "I am going to come home and we will be a family again, I promise"

Who's a-gonna stroke your cold black hair
And sandy colored skin
Who's a-gonna kiss your Menphis lips
When I'm out in the wind
When I'm out in the wind, babe
When I'm out in the wind
Who's a-gonna kiss your Memphis mouth
When I'm out in the wind

She wrapped her arms around herself and headed for the door.

She began walking down the white corridor, but only got a few steps before she broke down, leaning against one of the walls she slowly sunk to the ground and let herself cry into her hands.

Who's a-gonna walk you side by side
And tell you everything's alright
Who's a-gonna sing to you all day long
And not just in the night
Who's a-gonna walk you side by side
Who's a-gonna be your man
Who's a-gonna look you straight in the eye
And hold your bad luck hand

"Hales?" Nathan's eyes fluttered open for a moment, but only a moment as he looked once again into his empty, darkened hospital room, sure that he could smell Haley's perfume amidst the sickly clean smell of the hospital….

Hold your bad luck hand, babe
Hold your bad luck hand
Who's a-gonna hold your hard luck hand
And who's a-gonna be your man

Outside, Haley slowly rose to her feet, swiped at her wet cheeks, wrapped her arms around herself and kept walking towards the exit; and with every step that carried her further and further away from Nathan, she felt that stillness that came when he was near slowly slip away…

The winter wind is a blowing strong
My hands have got no gloves
I wish to my soul I could see
The girl I'm a-thinking of.


SONG: Bob Dylan's "Kingsport Town", highly recommend Eleni Mandell's version of the song also.