Title: The Bachelor
Author: Sweet Sarcasm
Summary: Nathan and Haley had a spark which was put out by one little lie. Fast-forward a few years ahead, and we find Haley, working at a restaurant and Nathan, a totally successful basketball player. Their old friend Brooke Davis is the hottest TV executive on ABC, and she decides to revive her all-time favorite show, The Bachelor. When Nathan applies for the show, Brooke's gears go into overdrive, and she persuades Haley to join the show, convinced that her favorite couple will finally be together once again. The catch is, Haley is under disguise, and Nathan may never be with his true love if he makes the wrong move. (Alternate History)
Author's Notes: Hey, everyone, this is my first One Tree Hill story! Originally, the plot was intended for my Lily/James fandom, but I got tired of that idea. Anyway, this is an alternate history, so here's a rundown on what's going on so far:
Haley and Nathan never got married.
Brooke and Haley left Tree Hill for California shortly after their high school graduation.
This story takes place six years later.
"We need ideas, people!" shouted Victor Laughlin, slamming down a pile of manila folders. His employees cringed as the papers flew around the room, and quickly avoided looking at their boss. "ABC ratings are dropping down! We can't afford that!" He glared at everyone, and his gaze fell on an attractive brunette. "Davis! What the hell was up with your idea of a porn star falling in love with a gynecologist? It sucks!"
Brooke Davis lifted her eyes to look at her boss. She was a pretty girl; thick brown hair, vivacious chestnut eyes, and a way of making people laugh. However, she had an idea that her charm wasn't going to work here. "Actually, that was your idea, sir," she murmured quietly. One of her friends, Denise Torres, poked her on her side.
Victor's face changed colors as quickly as a stoplight; from pink to a dark maroon. "Are you calling me an idiot, Davis? Do I look like an idiot to you?"
"No," Brooke said quickly. "You're right, it was a horrible idea. I'm sorry I even suggested it." She grimaced, angry that she had resorted to taking the blame once again.
Victor glared at her again, examining her. "That's why I'm putting you in charge of the next show. You make it a success, you keep your job. Get a rating lower than seven, and you're out." He jerked his thumb at the glass door.
"But that's not fair!" protested Brooke, standing up. Denise tugged on her grey tweed skirt, but Brooke slapped her hand away. "Why is my job on the line? I haven't done anything wrong!"
"You never do your work, you just read magazines all the time, and I always see you making some stupid dress. You're lazy and you don't live up to your potential. You're costing me a lot of money!" yelled Victor, saliva spraying the conference room. Brooke winced, but refused to back down.
"Brooke," Denise whispered urgently, still tugging on her friend's skirt. "Sit down. Please."
Knowing that she could indeed lose her job, Brooke glared one last time and sat down. "Glad to see that you've come to your senses, Davis," nodded Victor, smirking. He shuffled more papers around. "Now, the next time I see you, I want a full, well-prepared presentation. You screw up, Davis, and your days at ABC are over." He stood up. "See everyone else on Friday."
Everyone gathered their papers, and the chatter filled the tension-draining room. Brooke remained seated, and plopped her head on the surface of the glass table. Denise rubbed her shoulders comfortingly. "Don't worry, Brooke, give him a few days and he'll stop PMSing," she joked. The young Latina had started working at ABC about the same time as Brooke. She was truly a quiet beauty; she had dark, black hair that she kept braided and soulful black eyes. Her words were tinged with a slight Spanish accent, and she often jabbered in Spanish. She and Brooke had bonded over the fact that they had three main things in common; their love for reality shows and Thai food, their obsession over hot British actors, and their dislike for Victor Laughlin and Chris Keller.
"Yeah, right," snorted Brooke, not looking up. "Remember Patrick Garnier?" Both girls cringed as they remembered what had happened to the legendary employee. Rumor had it that he his self esteem had dropped so much that he was now roaming the streets of Compton, selling crack door to door. It was then and there that Brooke decided not to aggravate her boss, for she really didn't fancy being humiliated in front of millions of viewers during primetime.
"Aw, is Brookie Wookie finally leaving ABC?" a taunting voice came from the doorway. Brooke didn't even have to look up to see who was speaking.
"Piss off, Keller," came her muffled reply.
Chris laughed, and walked over to the two girls. He was one of the vainest people Brooke had ever met which was a miracle in itself because she had bestowed herself that same title before she had come to LA. He was cocky and annoying (what normal person spoke in third person!) and a total man whore; it was no rumor that he was constantly screwing all the new secretaries. On top of that, he happened to be the male version of JLO; he could also sing and play the guitar like it was nobody's business. One song and a few beers later found Chris Keller's next victim alone in bed, wondering where the handsome singer had gone.
"Lighten up, Davis. You may not realize it now, but Laughlin just gave you one of the best things you'll ever get while you're over here," continued Chris, smirking. "Now you have more time to walk the streets. You won't get paid as much, but hey, at least you'll be useful to someone. Or someones."
"Son of a bitch," growled Denise. "You know, I think Laughlin just left to go to the bathroom. You better hurry, because he'll need someone to hold up his balls while he does his business."
"Cute, Torres, cute," replied Chris, his dark green eyes full of mischief. "Why don't you come with the Chris Keller, he'll need someone to wipe his ass."
"Ha, ha," Denise rolled her eyes. "Do you need something?"
"Nah, Chris Keller just likes to watch Davis wallow in her self-pity," answered Chris, leaning against the table next to Brooke. "I think I've been inspired to write a song; I think I'll entitle it 'The Downfall of a Wench.' Or 'The Wench's Downfall.' Damn, Chris Keller is good. "
"Well, you won't be getting anything because I'm so not going to sit here and lose my job," declared Brooke, standing up. She grabbed her briefcase and her hat. "Let's go, Denise. I can't breathe in here; Keller's ego is taking up all the space." She glared at Chris, and pulled Denise out the room.
"Hey, Davis, Chris Keller calls first dibs on your office when you leave!" Chris called after her. He just smiled to himself. "See ya!"
"It's so not fair!" complained Brooke as she shoveled in a piece of broccoli into her mouth. "I do nothing wrong, just nod my head and agree with all his ideas, even if they are the most stupid ones that anyone could even come up with, and I get blamed for all of it! I thought I changed my karma when I left Tree Hill!" She stuffed more Thai food in her mouth.
It was lunchtime, and Brooke and Denise had met up with Brooke's friend, Haley James. Haley had moved to California with Brooke from Tree Hill five years ago. She was an aspiring singer, but she was still stuck in her "working-at-a-restaurant" stage. However, it was a step up from most of the waitressing jobs; she was a hostess at Ariel's Grotto in Disney's California Adventure. Brooke and Haley lived together in a two-room apartment in La Habra.
Haley stiffened, like she always did when her old hometown was mentioned. She sighed, and used chopsticks to insert a piece of orange chicken in her mouth. "You'd think that," she muttered, chewing on her food.
Denise shook her head, amused. "I swear, you two are the moodiest single women I've ever hung out with. Wah wah wah. Cry me a river, won't ya?" She took a swig of her soda.
"Easy for you to say," grumbled Brooke, wiping her mouth with her napkin. She sighed as she saw that she had smudged her lipstick off. "You're not the one in danger of losing your job and having to worry about paying rent. Why is God punishing us?"
Denise laughed. "It's California, sweetheart," she explained, as if that was the ultimate answer. She stole a piece of Haley's orange chicken from her plate, receiving a protest from the owner. "Life's not all about sunshine and warm weather, you know." She blinked. "That made no sense at all."
"Well, it's way better than what we're used to," Haley said under her breath, tucking a piece of honey-colored hair behind her ear. She closed her eyes, trying to erase all memories of five years ago away from her mind. "I don't care if I have to work at Disney all my life, it's worth it."
Denise and Brooke exchanged a look. Haley had always been a sensitive girl; she felt things rather deeply. It had been exactly five months and one week since "The Incident" that the girls dared not to talk about. Brooke didn't even know the whole story; she just knew that Haley had been hurt badly and she hadn't recovered since.
Denise laughed nervously, tugging on one of her plaited braids. "Uh...it's safe to say that our lives are as dramatic as a reality show. Dude, we should totally write to MTV and petition to have our own show." She made huge hand gestures to suggest a marquee. "The Working Girls of the OC...or The Undiscovered and Fabulous...or The Trials of the Real Real Orange County!" Denise clapped her hands happily.
Brooke rolled her eyes. "Thank God you're not in charge of choosing titles. I can see the ratings now...and they're not too good. Reality shows are so six years ago."
"I was a reality show freak back in high school," giggled Denise, reminiscing. "Laguna Beach, American Idol, The Real World, Survivor...ooh, and the date shows! I might sound like a total dork, but I was obsessed with shows like Blind Date, Elimidate, and...The Bachelor!" She sighed dreamily. "I tried applying for those shows so many times, but they never picked me. That was my ultimate dream."
Haley just continued to play with her chopsticks, but Brooke's ears perked up. "The Bachelor! I loved that show...talk about sexual tension and the catfights. Could you ask for more?"
"Too bad they cancelled the show," mused Denise. "I taped every single episode. You know, I should go through the archives at the office and sneak them home!"
"Yeah..." Brooke drifted off. Haley frowned.
"What's up, Tigger?" she asked, putting down her chopsticks. "I know that look; that's your 'piss-off-I-have-the-world's-greatest-idea' look."
"You know me so well," murmured Brooke, thrusting a hand through her dark hair. She checked her watch, and picked up the bill. "I-I gotta go. Don't wait up for me." After paying the bill, she grabbed her purse and left the restaurant. Denise and Haley blinked.
"You'd think that after knowing you two for…fix, six years? I'd be able to know what the hell you guys are thinking," Denise said a few moments later.
"You got that right," frowned Haley. She glanced at her own Disney watch and sighed. "Ugh, I better get going now. The traffic on the 91 is horrible around this time, and I can't be late this week. My boss's going to chew my ass out."
Denise nodded, and began to gather her things. "Have fun at work, Ariel." Haley rolled her eyes; Denise and Brooke took great pleasure from teasing Haley about her job. "Man, what a life you have. You wear a seashell bra and fins, and guys hit on you all day. You got it good, Haley James."
"Okay, first of all, I'm not even a Disney character, let alone Ariel. I'm a hostess; I show you to your seats," babbled Haley, getting to the peak of your spiel. "And…" Denise held a hand up.
"Okay, okay, I got it! You're not a Disney slut. Whatever," grinned Denise. "Well, I gotta go, chica. Gotta make sure Brooke doesn't do anything stupid. See ya later!"
Haley shook her head ruefully as she opened her wallet to leave a tip. Her eyes fell on a tattered, folded picture that had been tucked into one of the pockets. Her breath hitched, and her heart beat faster, like it always did whenever she saw him. Haley had never gotten the courage to throw that picture away, no matter how much it pained her. So it just lay hidden in her wallet, unforgotten. "Are you okay, Miss?" a concerned busboy asked as he stood behind the young woman, waiting to clear the table.
"Yeah. Just fine," Haley replied softly. She tossed a few dollar bills onto the table, and stepped out of the restaurant.
Hours later, Denise found Brooke in her office, a few tapes on her desk and wads of yellow paper scattered throughout the room. The TV was left on, but nothing was showing. "Uh…Brooke? What are you doing?"
Brooke was skimming through folders and piles of paper, and then scribbling something down on a pad of paper. "Can't. Talk. Now," was her distant reply.
Denise sifted her way through the paper and sunk down into one of Brooke's plushy chairs. She yelped when a sharp poke made contact with her bottom. "Dammit, Brooke, these aren't pin cushions!" she growled as she contracted a needle that had been sticking out of the chair. It certainly was not the first time that this had happened; Brooke was very absentminded, and tended to lose track of her hobby materials.
"Sorry," mumbled Brooke. She groaned, crumpled up the piece of paper that she had been scribbling on, and tossed it at the trashcan. It bounced off the rim. Denise snorted.
"Brooke Davis, basketball star of the Los Angeles Lakers," announced Denise in a sarcastic voice.
"Okay, Brooke, now you got me intrigued. What the hell are you doing?" Denise reached over to look at one of the videotapes that was resting precariously on Brooke's desk. "Andrew Firestone? Isn't he that one heir of…tires?"
"And?" prodded Brooke, waving one hand around, waiting for Denise to continue.
"And…the first Bachelor!" gasped Denise. Suddenly, the world made sense. "Oh, my God, Brooke, are you…?"
"It's in the process," replied Brooke, pushing the desk away from her so that her chair rolled back. She stretched her arms and took a swig of her Jamba Juice. "I've been here for three hours straight. Ugh."
"This is genius!" squealed Denise, standing up. "The revival of one of the best shows ever! Laughlin will have to let you air it!"
"Yeah, now I just need to come up with a kick ass presentation, and I'm home free!" Brooke rubbed her eyes and yawned. Her sleek hair had become mussed and her hands were smeared with ink.
"You have to let me help you!" continued Denise, grabbing her own pad of paper and pen. "I'm thinking…rose petals. All around. Pictures of the hottest celebrity bachelors. Romantic music. Candles. Curtains. This is just brilliant!" She jotted all these things down.
"What are you ladies doing?" a rude voice interrupted them. Brooke groaned. "You two aren't starting an idea before running it by the Chris Keller first, are you? That just won't do. Chris Keller is very disappointed."
"Oh, go fuck yourself, Keller," growled Brooke, standing up to shut him out of her office. Chris stepped inside instead.
"Oh, come on, share with Chris Keller! Maybe Chris Keller can give you some good ideas," he offered slyly. The girls snorted.
"As if." Denise shook her head. "You're just trying to steal Brooke's idea so you can get all the spotlight again. Well, guess what. Brooke is so going to beat your ass!" She pushed Chris out with all her might, leaving him to stumble into the hall way, and bumping into Laughlin, who spilled his coffee all over his shirt.
"Keller!" he bellowed, dropping the cardboard tray. Brooke and Denise tried to stifle their giggles as Chris lamely attempted to help his boss, and got a lecture instead.
"That annoying, son of a bitch will try to steal your ideas, Brooke," the young Latina said worriedly. She picked up the pieces of paper and threw them into the paper shredder. "I don't think this is the best idea to work here."
"Yeah, let's head back to my place," suggested Brooke, picking up all her stuff. She stuffed the videos into her bag. "Maybe Haley can make us hot chocolate when she gets home!"
Denise snorted, making sure that she had gotten all the paper wads. "I love how you drink hot cocoa, even though it's only early May." Brooke shrugged, slinging her bag over her shoulder. She caught her reflection, and smoothed her hair out, smiling.
"I'm a unique person," she said offhandedly. Linking arms with the taller girl, they skipped their way out of the office, smiling brilliantly at Keller, who was on his way to the dry cleaners.
Haley tiredly rolled in later that night. It had been a very long day for her, and the only thing she wanted to was get into her bed, pull up the sheets, and just sleep. She knew that she didn't have to deal with Brooke for at least a few more hours; Brooke often came home late, at least past one or two in the morning. After she had let herself in with the key, Haley shuffled into the kitchen, throwing her bag on the couch. "Ouch!" it squeaked. Haley blinked.
"Do you carry bricks in here?" complained Denise, sitting up from the couch and rubbing her forehead. "God…"
"Denise? What are you doing here?" yawned Haley, rubbing her eyes with the back of her palms. "Where's Brooke?"
"Over here, Tutor Girl!" called Brooke, somewhere near Denise. "I have the best idea ever!" Brooke was sprawled on the floor, and she had changed from her tweed suit to her favorite pajamas. Her hair had pulled back in a neat ponytail, and a mug of hot chocolate rested next to her. Crumpled pieces of paper, video cassettes, and magazines were scattered through the apartment.
"Can't you tell me tomorrow, Tig?" Haley asked tiredly. "I'm exhausted and I just got another letter concerning my student loans."
"Okay!" chirped Brooke. Haley groaned. A cheerful Brooke and an exhausted Haley was never a good combination. Haley always ended up cleaning up the messes that Brooke created, whether it be physical or emotional.
"Denise, can you pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty please watch Brooke for me? I'm exhausted, and in no shape to deal with whatever the crap she's doing," pleaded Haley. Denise rolled her eyes.
"Girl, I'm not even supposed to be here. I just fell asleep on your couch a few hours after listening to Brooke chatter. But since I love you, and you do look like crap, I'll watch her for a few hours," sighed Denise. Haley broke out in a grin.
"Thanks, Denise, you're the best!" Haley ambled to her bedroom, and shut the door quietly.
Denise turned to Brooke. "Okay, Princess, what's the plan? I know I've heard it at least ten million times, but whatever. Entertain me."
Brooke beamed. "I'm going to change my karma and Tutor-Girl's, too. And possibly yours," she added as an afterthought. Denise raised a brow.
"Oh, really? And how exactly do you intend do that?" she questioned, propping herself up on a pillow.
Brooke's eyes gleamed, like a child in a candy shop. "Well, first of all, this show will be a success and I'll be able to keep my job, and then I'll get to buy that cute Chanel dress I saw at South Coast a few months ago." Denise rolled her eyes. "Secondly, I'll get Haley on the show, and maybe she'll meet Prince Charming, and forget about," she lowered her voice, "Nathan. As for you, you're always a happy person, but you'll help me in every possible way, and since I love you, I'll let you pick the bachelor and you can keep whichever one you want for yourself. It's perfect!" She clapped her hands. Denise just gawked at her.
"Okay, it's way too late to be this perky," she groaned, stretching her arms. Her eyes caught hold of the chipped green mug next to the large pile of crumpled paper. "Hey, you have any more hot chocolate?"
Brooke hugged her mug, and glared at Denise. "No! You can't touch my chocolate!"
Denise mumbled something incoherently in Spanish, and pulled the Afghan up to her chin and concentrated on fitting in a few more hours of sleep in.
"In conclusion, this may revive the age of dating shows, and provide a rush of hot nostalgia for others, if launched carefully," Brooke finished up. "If the viewers show an interest in the show, we'll be able to air other dating shows, giving ABC the highest ratings, beating out Fox at last!"
It was another day, another conference meeting. But this time, Brooke was on the hot seat, and her life was on the line. Haley had left early that morning, leaving her lucky lip gloss bottle on the kitchen table. So Brooke had worn the lip gloss, no matter how much it clashed with her other make-up or outfit. Brooke chewed on her lower lip, and glanced at Denise, who gave her a warm smile.
Victor was silent for a few minutes, just leafing through the booklet that Brooke had provided. He looked over at his assistant, who was sitting to his right. She gave him a nod. Victor nodded as well, and he looked over at Brooke, whose heart had leapt at the small motion. "Okay, Davis, I'm granting you permission to air the show. I'll provide housing, food, etc., but you have to get the bachelor and the bachelorettes yourself. You get a rating lower than seven, and you're out. Got it?"
Brooke nodded quickly. "Absolutely." She snuck a grin at Denise, who gave her a thumbs up.
Victor stood up, an indication that the meeting was over. Everyone else, save Brooke, Denise, and a depressed Chris Keller, got up and stretched. "I want the names of the people by next Tuesday."
"Yes, sir," Brooke replied eagerly, gathering all her items. She sent her a boss a radiant smile. "I can guarantee you 100 satisfaction!"
"You better," Victor answered dryly. After barking at his assistant, he left, shooting Brooke an encouraging smile. After he had left the conference room, Brooke and Denise began giggling and jumped up and down.
"I have to call Haley!" squealed Brooke, diving for her cell phone. "She's going to be so excited!"
Denise giggled, picking up a handful of rose petals that had been scattered over the table. She threw them up in the air, and twirled around. "You are a genius, Bee."
"You're sleeping with him, aren't you?" Chris finally spoke up. He hadn't stopped staring at the chair their boss had just vacated. "That's the only reason I can come up with."
"Ah, Brooke, the monkey can speak in first person," commented Denise, ruffling his hair.
Brooke giggled. "Yes, I think monkeys speak in first person when they're very disappointed. Right, Keller?"
"Women," muttered Chris, collecting his things. His vibrant grey eyes had dimmed, and he looked rather disappointed. He shot the girls one last malicious look before leaving them alone.
"Hales? Guess what? I got it!" squealed Brooke. "I know, we have to celebrate when you get home! I'm so happpppppppy! Okay, I'll see you later then. Okay, bye!"
"Now comes the fun part: choosing the poor victims," grinned Denise. She had picked up a photograph of Tom Cruise, and smirked.
"And as promised, you get to pick the celebrity bachelor while I pick the oh-so shallow ladies," laughed Brooke, cleaning up the room. She had draped the conference room in dark, velvet drapes, and lit candles all over the room. Red and white rose petals lay scattered on the floor.
"Yeah, leave it to me, I know someone who knows someone who can get the word out," Denise said nonchalantly, flipping her dark hair over her shoulder. "You still going to get Haley on the show?"
"Nah, I was just kidding. She would never go for it, and besides, I'd hate to see her heart get broken again," Brooke replied, her mood changing rapidly. Now she was serious and solemn.
Denise nodded gravely. "Poor Hales," she said after awhile. "I'm going to go over to Tree Hole and pummel the guy's ass."
"Tree Hill," corrected Brooke. "And I really don't know what was going on with them. We were all so good friends, and then…well, life happened." She sighed. "I was leaving for California by myself, but then Haley burst in while I was packing. I'll never forget her face…it was the saddest thing I had ever seen," she whispered. "I'd never seen anyone look so…broken. She begged me to take her with me, and I did. We could relate." She laughed bitterly.
Denise was quiet. "You know, you never told me why you moved out here," she commented quietly. "Haley, I could understand. But you…you were so quiet when I first met you. I don't know, I could just tell that you had been such a spirited person before, but it seemed like someone had crushed your spirit or something." She looked Brooke in the eye, who avoided her gaze. "Why did you run away, Brooke?"
Brooke's head snapped up. "I never said I ran away," she answered quickly. "Where did you get that idea?"
Denise shook her head. Brooke's demeanor had answered her question. "And you hardly date, too. You're such a pretty girl. It's like, you're always pushing away every guy you meet."
"That's not true," defended Brooke. "I went out with Jason for two months, didn't I?"
"Yeah, but…you barely really got to know him. You were playing it safe with him," pointed out Denise, playing with her hair.
Brooke sighed. "I just don't want to get hurt again," she said softly, so softly that Denise barely caught the words. But she did, and all she could do was offer a hug and a sad smile.