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)
Disclaimer: I don't own One Tree Hill, The Bachelor, any quotes, songs, allusions, schools, ABC, airports, or cities. Just the plot and the new girls.
After Nathan left, Denise turned to Brooke and raised a brow. "Haley went to school in Stanford?" she repeated. "Why would you lie to him like that?"
Brooke shrugged, unconcerned. "I forgot the name of that school Hales goes to. Besides, if it weren't for Nathan, Haley would've gone to Stanford."
"Orange Coast College," gritted out Denise. "That's the school that Hales and I went to. And don't act like you're all that just because you got into FIDM…"
"My point is," Brooke cut off, sweeping her hair over her shoulder, "we're really going to need to work overtime just to get Haley on the show."
Denise sighed. "Brooke, c'mon, do you really think that Haley will fall for your plan?"
"Yes," Brooke replied unabashedly, her brown eyes wide with anticipation.
Denise rubbed her temples, unsure why she dealt with this unrelenting vixen. "You know I'm all for getting Haley back with Nathan. But Hales…she will literally freak out when she finds out that Nathan is the bachelor. This might sound totally wrong, but she may ruin the show for us and get you fired. And, she'll probably never talk to you again. Do you really want that to happen?"
Brooke sighed. "No," she said wearily. "But I can't just let Nathan hook up with some slut off the street. I know that Haley and Nathan love each other, and they belong together. And if I lose Haley or my job in the process…so be it. I'm willing to do anything for Hales." She smiled sadly.
Denise was amazed at this side of Brooke. Usually, her friend was this energetic, bossy young girl who always got her way. But now…she had grown up to a young woman. "You know, Brooke, maybe if we tell Nathan that Haley lives with you, he'll not do the show and we can always get someone else. It's less complicated and everyone's happy."
Brooke blinked. She really hadn't thought of that. "No…Haley will just run away again, and this time, I'll have absolutely no idea where. As crazy as it might sound, if we put her on live television, she's more than likely not to do anything outrageous. And even though this might sound selfish, if Haley goes under disguise and creates this huge drama at the end, more ratings for us. Everyone wins!"
Denise shook her head, her dark curls splashing her face. "And how do you propose we disguise Haley?" she finally asked. Brooke grinned.
"Facial prosthetics," she announced, a smile plastering her face. Denise just gawked at her.
When Brooke got home, she was surprised to see Haley studying. "Hey, Tutor Girl," she said cautiously, dropping her stuff on the couch. "What are you doing?"
Haley took off her glasses, and rubbed her eyes. "Studying," she replied tiredly. "I had an epiphany at work. I'm never going to become some famous American Idol or rock star." Haley laughed bitterly. "I have no boyfriend, no career, and absolutely no direction in my life. Seven years ago, this would sound so ridiculous! But it's so true. I'm practically white trash now." Haley sighed. "So now I'm trying to get my credentials in teaching."
"Oh, honey," murmured Brooke. She pulled out a chair and sat next to Haley. "You are so not white trash! You're pretty and smart and you have such a beautiful voice. It's all about timing, that's all."
Haley rolled her eyes. "Whatever." She got up and ambled over to the refrigerator. "You want something to drink?" She tossed a can of Diet Pepsi to Brooke, and took out a Sprite for herself. "How's the show coming?"
Brooke took a deep breath, and popped her can open. She took a swig of the soda before answering. "Well, it's going okay. Have you thought about my offer?"
Haley blinked. "Wait, you were serious about that? I thought you were just tired or something."
"Hales!" whined Brooke, her big brown eyes widening even more.
"Brooke!" Haley whined back. "C'mon, this is me we're talking about. You know I would never go for it." She took a sip of her Sprite. "It's not me."
Brooke grabbed hold of Haley's slender hands, and rubbed them. "Please, Hales! You have to do it! You would make a great bachelorette! Besides, I'm sure the Bachelor would totally go for you." The last words escaped her mouth before she could stop speaking. Brooke bit her lip, and cursed under her breath.
Haley gave Brooke an odd look. "You already chose the Bachelor? That's great! Who is it?"
Brooke racked her brains to choose some name, any name. "Kyle…Thompson. Yup, Kyle Thompson. He's a great guy, great teeth and everything."
"I thought you were choosing a celebrity bachelor," remarked Haley, puzzled. Brooke shrugged.
"I'm not sure actually, the executives won't tell me anything," babbled Brooke, twisting the bracelets on her wrist. "Something about me being too bossy and overpowered, I don't know."
"Aren't you one of the executives?" asked Haley, looking at Brooke confusedly.
"Um, technically…let's not get into details!" Brooke said hurriedly. "Please, Haley, you have to do this for me! And yourself. You deserve to be with someone and be happy."
"Who said I wasn't happy?" Haley asked quietly. Brooke's eyes lowered to the table.
"No one," she said quickly. "It's just, right after Nathan…"
"Brooke, don't," snapped Haley. Haley never snapped at anyone, especially Brooke. "Stop it. I'm over him!"
"No, you're not," whispered Brooke, looking up at Haley. Her sad brown eyes mirrored the pain that Brooke knew glittered in her own eyes whenever she thought of Lucas. "You're still in love with him. I know you are!"
Haley stood up, knocking down her chair. She didn't bother to pick it up. "Brooke, shut up. You don't know how I feel about anything, so don't tell me what I feel. You have no right to."
Brooke got up, too, but she didn't knock over her chair. "I know you too well, Haley James. And if you want to prove me wrong, join the show and I'll never mention him again!"
Haley glared at her, a glint of familiar anger flashing in her eyes. It was something Brooke hadn't seen for a very long time, and even though she hated when it was directed at her, it was a welcoming sign. "Fine. I'll be a bachelorette for your stupid show."
Inwardly, Brooke was about to bust out in song and dance. Instead, she coolly replied, "Fine. I'll call up a friend of mine who specializes in facial prosthetics and you can come down to the office with me to sign the contracts."
Haley just glowered at her, picked up her books, and stomped to her room, slamming the door hard. Brooke grinned and whipped out her cell phone. "Denise? We're in! Call up that friend of yours."
The next morning, Haley got up from bed, not wanting to go to work. She had yet another dream about Nathan, and even though she would never admit it, she liked those dreams. It was the waking-up part that hurt the most. After she got out of the restroom, she shuffled to the kitchen, still in her pajamas. "Ouch!" she yelped. She had stubbed her toe on some…big, scary machine. Haley blinked.
"Good morning!" chirped Brooke, scrambling eggs by the stove. "Hungry? I'm making eggs right now, but there's some bacon for you." She seemed unaware of the huge group of people scattered all over their apartment, drinking coffee and pushing buttons on the machines. Denise was sitting at the table, reading a magazine.
"Oh, hey, Haley," she addressed her. "Have a seat." Denise gestured to the chair next to her, where a meal had already been prepared for Haley.
Haley squinted, and rubbed her eyes. "Please tell me this is a dream," she groaned, pouring a glass of orange juice for herself.
Denise put down her Latina magazine, and smiled. "Nope. Today, we're going to transform you into a beautiful hot mama…not that you're not one already," she hastily added after Haley gave her a look.
Brooke slid some of the scrambled eggs onto Haley's plate. "Eat up, it's gonna be a long day," Brooke sang in that annoying cheery voice. Haley just glared at her.
"Hasn't it occurred to you that I have to work today?" Haley asked Brooke. "And I'm going over to the community college to take some night classes. My boss will never let me stay home!"
"Oh, don't worry, we already talked to her," Brooke cheerfully told her. "I told her that you're pregnant and have a bad case of morning sickness and the doctor ordered you to stay at home, in fear of losing the baby."
"You did what?!?!" squawked Haley, spitting out her juice. Denise grimaced, and wiped the drops off her magazine.
"Your boss was really nice about it, she was very emotional, actually," continued Brooke, ignoring Haley. "She told me that she totally understood and hoped everything would go well for you. And if a truckload of flowers gets delivered to the apartment, thank your co-workers, okay?"
"You told my boss I was pregnant?" screeched Haley. "Brooke! I can't believe you! You know I'm still a…never mind." She shot daggers at the workers who were all staring at her.
"It was either that or you got into a coma after last night's horrific car accident," deadpanned Denise, flipping through her magazine. "And just be glad I talked her out of telling your boss that you had an extremely contagious STD." Haley punched Brooke on the arm.
"Ouch! Hey, I did it for you, sweetheart," complained Brooke, rubbing her arm. "Now, I brought the papers for you to sign. Sign it later, okay, sweetie?"
"I hate you," mumbled Haley, taking a huge bite of her eggs. Before she could get another bite of her food, her plate was whisked away. "Hey! I was eating that!"
"No time for that, sweetheart," a man briskly told her. "We're ready for you!" He dragged Haley out of her seat and shoved her into a different chair. "It's time for your transformation."
Those were the five deadliest words Haley had ever heard in her life. Actually, if he hadn't used 'it's' as a contraction, it would be six, she mused. But there was no time to think as her hair was violently yanked to one side. "Ow!" yelped Haley. The girl who was brushing her hair just rolled her eyes.
"Haven't you heard of 'conditioning'?" she muttered under her breath. Haley opened her mouth to reply, but something was tickling her toes. She giggled.
Denise and Brooke stood next to Rob, the man in charge of Operation Cinderella, which is what they referred the transformation to. "How's it going?" whispered Brooke. She winced as she heard Haley yelp in pain.
Rob clicked a few icons on his laptop. Brooke and Denise leaned closer to the screen as Haley's picture zoomed in. "Well, we change her hair and eye color, add some foam latex to change her face shape, I think she'll be unrecognizable. She'll have to be very careful with the foam latex every time she steps in the water, though. I think we can make a waterproof mask."
"What color are you dying her hair?" asked Denise, taking a sip of her coffee. Rob frowned.
"No, with hair like hers, I don't want to damage it. Using a wig would be much easier," decided Rob, shifting his thick framed glasses up his nose. "It would be easier to style and we don't have to cut a strand of hair. But as for the color, I think we'll go with…either brown or blonde. What was her original hair color?"
Denise glanced at Brooke. "Auburn, I think," replied Brooke, trying to remember back from all those years.
"I thought so," murmured Rob. "Yes, this will work out nicely. Perfect!" He ran a hand through his short, spiky hair.
Denise turned towards Brooke, her long black hair whipping Rob on the face. "Now, we need to get her an identity."
Brooke nodded. "We'll let Haley choose afterwards. I'd hate that she has absolutely no say in the whole thing." Denise just shook her head, amused.
Hours later, it was finished. Brooke and Denise had been sent out for a while to make the unveiling more dramatic. All three girls had no idea what to expect, and needless to say, they were all nervous. As Brooke and Denise walked up to the apartment, Brooke halted in her steps and grabbed Denise's arm. "Oh, God, Denise, what if he recognizes her? We would be so screwed!"
Denise sighed, and gave Brooke a hug. She knew this just wasn't about the show. "We'll do fine, Brooke. Just relax." Brooke inhaled and exhaled deeply before throwing the door open.
Sitting primly on a leather stool was a pretty girl, reading a textbook. She looked up. "Finally," the girl complained, tossing the book on the couch. "They wouldn't let me look in the mirror till you guys returned!"
Brooke and Denise just gawked. "Tutor Girl?" Brooke said cautiously, walking up to the unfamiliar girl. "Is it really you?" She prodded at the girl's nose, and had her hand slapped away. "Ouch! It really is you!"
"Oh, come on, Brooke, I can't look that different," snorted Haley, hopping off the chair. "Now let me see a mirror!" A full-length mirror was rolled in front of her, and her jaw dropped. "Oh my God."
"You don't look like Haley anymore," commented Denise, awed. "You look like a…"
"Blanca," breathed Brooke. Everyone stared at her. She shrugged. "What? Blanca is a beautiful name."
"I can't believe I'm doing this," Haley muttered, running a hand through her wig. Rob had decided to go with the honey-colored one. "I must be dreaming." She blinked, and the girl in the mirror blinked back at her. Her natural brown eyes had been replaced with subtle pale blue orbs. Her lips were fuller, and her nose was straighter, with a small bump on it. Her eyelashes were curled back, and her eyebrows were thicker.
Denise smiled from behind her. "Rob, you're a genius." Rob just waved his hand, as if he got compliments like that all the time.
"I already told her how to take care of everything," he told her. "She has my number is she has any questions, so I'll just be going now."
Patting Haley on the shoulder, he shooed his people out of the apartment. Already, it seemed much quieter and less chaotic. "I can't do this," Haley whispered, unable to tear her eyes away from the mirror. "This is…this is insane."
Brooke wrapped an arm around Haley's shoulders, squeezing lightly. "You can do this, Hales. I know you can."
Denise did the same. "You may have gone through a total makeover, but your personality is still the same. Just be that girl we know and love. I will personally kick this guy's butt if he doesn't pick you over the other skanks on the show."
Haley laughed. "Oh, be nice, Denise." She lightly swatted Denise's shoulder. "Oh, and I signed all the papers, Brooke. You guys are pretty adamant when it comes to the whole appearance thing."
Brooke giggled nervously. "Yeah, well…"
Denise cut in before any more awkward questions could be asked. "So, Haley James, with your new look, we need a new alias for you. What's it gonna be?"
Haley bit her lip, twirling her new hair between her fingers. She sighed and slumped onto a nearby couch, the other girls following shortly. "I don't know. This is so weird, starting all over again."
"You could be anyone you want to be," Brooke pointed out, ruffling Haley's wig. "New name, new job…anything."
"Why can't I be Haley James, part time student, part time DCA employee?" complained Haley, tracing the pattern of one of the pillows. "It's less complicated."
"Nope, not interesting enough," Brooke interjected quickly. She was met with a glare. "I mean…you have a chance to be anyone you want to be for a few weeks or so. Don't you want to try something new?"
"What Brooke is trying to say is that it just wouldn't fit with the whole masquerade idea she's using," Denise said dryly. "She's just lacking the words to describe it."
"What she said," Brooke said, rolling her eyes. "You could be Tila Tequila, porn star!"
Haley pinched Brooke, while Denise just rolled her eyes, sighing loudly. "That's already been taken, Brooke," Denise pointed out dryly. "Try again."
"Well, she can't be Wednesday or Morticia," huffed Brooke. "She's not pale enough."
"I don't want to be named after characters in the Addams Family, thank you very much," gritted out Haley.
"Okay, then. How about Aurora?"
"You're kidding, right?"
"When you figure out names other than the ones belonging to Disney princesses, get back to me."
It was like that for the rest of the afternoon. Brooke would offer names (like Spectra or California) and Haley and Denise would shoot down her ideas. They argued for hours, never agreeing on anything.
It was past nine when they decided that Haley would be a receptionist (preferably at Brooke's office, but that was a bridge they would cross later), but the name was still undecided. "Well, the last name should be basic. You guys seem to have the most commonly used surnames in America," remarked Denise, taking a sip of her hot chocolate. They had finished dinner hours ago, and were relaxing in the kitchen. "I mean, c'mon. James and Davis? I bet everyone in your town had last names like Smith or Scott." She guffawed while Haley and Brooke exchanged a look.
"Haha, yeah, right," Haley said, giggling nervously. "Smith or Scott. That's great."
"How about Reagan Johnson?" suggested Brooke, yawning. "Simple and sweet. I've always loved Reagan."
"You mean the president?" Haley ventured.
"Him, too," Brooke replied, waving her hand as if that didn't matter.
"Reagan Johnson," Denise said aloud. "I like it." She looked at Haley.
Sighing, Haley ran another hand through her fake hair. "I guess so."
Brooke grinned, and gave Haley a hug. "Hello, Reagan Johnson!"
"Bye, Uncle Nate!" little Baylee Lynn said to her cousin, who was leaving for LA in a few hours. Her dark brown curls had been tied up with a pink ribbon, and her blue eyes glittered. The Scotts were famous for their gorgeous blue eyes.
"Bye, sweetheart," Nathan whispered to the little girl. Oh, how he loved his young cousin! Up until his junior year, he had never been too fond of children. But he and Haley always had talked about having children together, and he found himself enjoying the company of Haley's young babysitting charges. After Baylee was born, his love was cemented. It broke his heart when he realized that he probably would never be as happy as his uncle and his wife…he didn't think that any show could change that.
Lucas gently detached his niece/sister from his half-brother so he could give him a proper hug. Well, at least as proper as it could get for two men. Nathan felt slightly guilty each time he saw his blonde brother. He felt obligated to tell him that he had found Brooke, his forgotten love, but something held him back. Strange as it might sound, Nathan felt a tiny bit jealous that he knew where Brooke was, and if he told Lucas, then they would reunite and everyone would be happy. Everyone except Nathan. He still hadn't found Haley, and as sad as it sounded, their brotherly bond had grown stronger when the girls left. They had both moped and backed each other up. So if Lucas and Brooke got back together…then Nathan would be all alone.
"Something bothering you?" Lucas frowned. Nathan blinked. He was disconcerted to see all of his friends and family staring at him because apparently, he had been spacing out the entire time.
"No," Nathan said quickly, shaking his head. "Sorry, just thinking." He lowered his eyes, because Lucas had obtained this uncanny gift of reading people's minds. He sure as hell didn't get that from Dan.
"He's just dreaming about all the beautiful girls he's about to meet," teased Jake. Nathan mockingly punched him on the arm.
A few months after the disastrous event, the only person who was put out of their misery was Peyton. She had been at odds with both Nathan and Lucas, even though they both forgave her in the end. It was a surprise to everyone when Jake showed up with Jenny. He had won custody of Jenny, and wanted to go back to Tree Hill. He and Peyton fell in love again, and at the young of twenty-one, they were married. They had wanted to get married even earlier, but decided to wait. Along with the Scott brothers, they became an inseparable group.
Peyton gave Nathan a quick hug, Jenny clinging on to her back. "Have fun, Nate," she said sincerely, though the guilt had never disappeared from her eyes. She wasn't a fan of those stupid reality-dating shows, and thanks to Brooke's obsession, she knew there would be a lot of drama. Peyton didn't want that for Nathan, but she knew that if she hadn't screwed things up with him and Haley, he would have never been in this situation.
Nathan smiled at her. "Thanks, Peyt," he replied, biting back a smile as she glared at him. He knew that she hated that name.
After hugging his mother, Karen, and Keith, he picked up his bags and walked away from his home. Even though he knew he wasn't going to find love on the show, Nathan had a feeling something big was going to happen.
"So, how's our girl?" Denise asked as the two girls pulled up to a parking place at the Long Beach Airport. "Is she really going through with this?"
Brooke slid on her sunglasses and checked her hair before getting out of the car. "Yup. She's at home, practicing putting on contacts. I swear, she's lost at least three pairs already."
Denise laughed, linking arms with Brooke as they started walking towards the entrance. "Aw, even if Haley's an entirely new person, she's still our klutzy Hales."
Brooke sighed nostalgically. "Some things never change." She became unusually quiet.
"What's up, B. Davis?" Denise asked concernedly. "You seem distracted."
Brooke shook her head, her wavy hair flying all over the place. "What? Oh, it's nothing." Denise gave her a knowing look. Brooke sighed. "Fine. I'm just worried about tonight."
Denise nodded, her dark braid bobbing up and down. "That's understandable. But isn't it ironic that we're the ones freaking out and she's cool with everything?"
Brooke smiled a little bit. "Not for long." She spotted Nathan awkwardly standing over by the luggage pick-up as a group of young girls attacked him for autographs. "And this is where everything changes."
Denise looked at her confusedly, but realization settled in when she followed her gaze to Nathan. "Here goes nothing." She cupped her hands over her mouth and yelled, "Nathan!"
Nathan's dark head jerked up, and he smiled in relief when he saw Brooke and Denise. Dragging his bags behind him, he jogged towards them. "Hey," he said breathlessly, running a hand through his short hair. Denise almost swooned, and once again cursed Haley for having all the luck.
"You're welcome," smirked Brooke, grabbing one of his bags. Nathan gave her a funny look.
Brooke snorted as she handed Denise one of the other bags and started towards the exit. "For saving you from your lethal groupies," she replied, as if it was very obvious. Nathan rolled his eyes.
"Please. I could handle them," he said confidently, his chest puffing out in pride. Brooke laughed.
"Nate, darling, you freaked out when a bunch of third graders bombarded you back during senior year," she reminded him. "Are hormone-pumped teenagers any better?" Denise burst out laughing as Nathan scowled at the brunette.
"What, did you run away or something?" giggled Denise, nodding at a cute tourist who smiled at her.
"Actually," Nathan began, but Brooke cut him off.
"Oh my God, it was hilarious! He started to turn this weird white color and he became flustered and everything. It was so cute." Brooke winked at a glowering Nathan. "It got so bad that we thought he was going to pass out so we had to get all the kids away from him. Remember?"
"That was like, four years ago," muttered Nathan, squinting as the sunlight temporarily blinded him. "I was just exhausted." The girls laughed.
When they reached Brooke's car, Nathan gave a low whistle. "Damn, Davis. Looks like you've been doing pretty well all these years," he said appreciatively.
Brooke patted her car. "It's one of the perks for working for ABC," she said loftily. They threw Nathan's bags in the trunk and in the back of the car. "Thank God you're a guy, Nate," Brooke told him, getting into the car. Denise sat up in the front with her while Nathan was squeezed in the back. "If it were me, I'd have like, tripled the number of bags you have." Nathan rolled his eyes.
"Surprise, surprise," he said sarcastically. "All you girls are the same."
"Not all girls," corrected Denise, leaning forward to change the radio station. "Hale…Hilary Duff has been known to take only like, eight bags per trip." She cringed as Brooke glared at her.
"That's good to know," Nathan said facetiously. "Looks like we have something in common."
Brooke hesitated, but decided to go for it. "Hey…Nate?"
Brooke took a deep breath, and went for the plunge. "Have you…have you talked to Lu-Lucas about me?" The moment his name left her lips, she felt strangely light, but still lonely.
Nathan was quiet. "No, I haven't."
The rest of the trip was silent, with the exception of the radio in the background. Denise was afraid of making another mistake, and Brooke had started another daydream again. Nathan was quiet, nervous and excited about what was going to happen later that day.
Brooke finally pulled up to a huge mansion overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Nathan gawked as they parked right in front of the door of the circular driveway. "Brooke, please tell me you don't live here. Otherwise, I might have to kill you," Nathan said in amazement as he got out of the car.
Brooke snorted. "Please. I don't make that much money. This is where you'll be staying for the next six weeks." Nathan almost fainted.
The front door swung open to reveal a scrawny man with weird hair. Brooke and Denise's jaws dropped. "Keller? What the hell are you doing here?" demanded Denise after she recovered from the initial shock.
Chris Keller smirked. "Chris Keller is the host of the show. Shouldn't he be the first one to greet our Bachelor?" Nathan looked worriedly at Brooke, wondering why he was talking in third person.
Brooke glared at him. "Okay, first of all, you didn't pick up Nathan from the airport, making you like, the twelfth person to greet him seeing as the groupies beat you to it. And second, who the hell made you host? I thought Oliver United was hosting."
Chris skipped (or that's what it seemed it like he did according to Brooke) to Nathan and extended his hand, which Nathan took awkwardly. "Hi. I'm Chris Keller. Sorry that Shrek and Donkey had to take you over here." He jerked his thumb towards Brooke and Denise, who were glaring daggers at him. He added in a loud stage whisper, "Brooke Davis, the feisty brunette over there, is Shrek, by the way." Nathan chortled.
"Gee, Davis, I always pegged you for the Princess Fiona type," Nathan told his old friend, grinning at her. "Or at least the clingy dragon."
"And I always thought you resembled one of those little dolls that got its head blown off during that cute little song," Brooke shot back.
"What?" Everyone blinked. Brooke just glared at all of them.
Chris looked at both of them in surprise. "Wait, do you two know each other?"
"No, Keller, we just happened to find him at the airport and decided to take him here," deadpanned Brooke.
"We went to school together," Nathan put in. Chris' eyebrows crinkled.
"You went to the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising?" he asked, bemused.
"No, jackass, we went to the same elementary, middle, and high school together," sighed Brooke. "We practically grew up together."
"Shut up! The Keller never knew you actually have a history. He thought you just crawled out from under a rock one day or Satan's spawn decided to make an appearance. You were actually a child, Davis?" Brooke punched him. "Ouch! Davis, watch it! Keller does not want to appear on primetime with bruises!"
"Oh, you'll appear on TV with more than bruises," promised Brooke, raising her foot over Chris'. Denise gently pulled her away.
"We better get going," she told Nathan apologetically. "Thank God you already know Brooke. Otherwise, you'd probably be on a plane back to Tree Hill." She turned to Chris. "Don't screw things up."
"Love you, too, Torres," Chris deadpanned. With a final wave, Denise dragged Brooke back to the car.
"Good luck, Nathan!" called Denise as they sped out of the driveway. Chris turned to Nathan, a sly smile creeping up.
"So, do you like music?"
"I don't think I can do this," Haley whimpered. She bit her lip nervously. Brooke swatted her hand.
"Don't do that! That's very expensive lipstick," she scolded. "Now smile." Haley obliged, and Brooke swiped a pale brush on her cheekbones. She stepped back to examine her work. "Voila!"
Denise looked up from the Sudoku puzzle that she was trying to do to look up at Haley. "Haley James, or should I say, Reagan Johnson, you are one sexy mama," she proclaimed, standing up to check her out. Haley blushed. But it wasn't like anyone could really see her do it.
"Remind me again, was I drunk when I agreed to do this?" Haley asked nervously as she absentmindedly fluffed her faux hair.
"No, but you were half awake when you signed the papers," Brooke told her, fixing the strap of Haley's dress. She had managed to swipe ("Temporarily borrow," she called it) a beautiful Vera Wang gown. It was an icy blue color, which complimented her light eyes. Her long tendrils had been curled and some of it was pulled back with a plain clip. The straps crisscrossed along her back, and the neckline plunged deep. It was totally un-Haley, but on "Reagan", it worked out fine.
"I don't think I can do this," repeated Haley, her hand coming up to touch her cheek.
Brooke hugged her. "You'll be fine, Tutor Girl," she told her affectionately. Haley felt herself relax a tiny bit. But it still wasn't enough.
"Are the other girls pro with their facial prosthetics?" asked Haley, prodding at her nose. Brooke gulped and cast a worried look at Denise.
"Probably," Denise said breezily, shooting Brooke a warning look. "But remember, you can't ask them anything about the subject. Don't ask them for advice or anything. You're supposed to act like it's your own little secret."
"No offense, but I think the whole idea of using a mask to get a guy is stupid," complained Haley, flouncing back on her chair. "It's about what's in the inside that counts, not on what's the surface."
"Exactly! And that's what we're trying to prove to America," Brooke told her smoothly. "Once the competition is over, the girls will take out their masks as you call it, and we'll see if what's in the inside really outshines what's on the outside."
"In your case, you've been blessed with both gifts," Denise added, her dark eyes lit up with anticipation. Haley giggled nervously.
"While we're on the topic of rules, let's make sure we have everything clear," Brooke said authoritatively. Haley sighed softly, but nodded. "First, don't tell anyone your real name or occupation. Think of it as your Indian name; if you tell strangers your real name, then it'll be bad luck and possibly bring death."
"Brooke, I hardly think that Island of the Blue Dolphins happened to every Native American girl…"
"Secondly!" Brooke held up a hand to prevent further lecture. "Secondly, you must not be seen without your facial prosthetics at all times. Therefore, you must take good care of the skin, hair, and eyes."
"But that's never been a problem, so why worry about it now?" Denise smiled warmly at Haley. Brooke ignored her.
"Thirdly, we've already discussed not discussing this with the other bachelorettes. But fourthly – "
"Fourthly doesn't sound right," interrupted Haley. "You can substitute 'in addition' or something similar to that – "
"I'm not trying to write an essay," Brooke said annoyed. "You're Tutor Girl, not me."
"You're twenty-three years old, shouldn't it be time for you to use proper grammar?"
"Girls!" Denise's stern voice broke through the argument. "Let's not get into this now, okay?" She turned to a triumphant Brooke. "Brooke? Continue."
"Fourthly," Brooke sent a pious look to Haley, who just rolled her eyes, "and most importantly, you may not freak out and leave the show for any reason at all. You signed a contract, and we know how much you hate breaking your promises." She smiled sweetly at the honey blonde.
"Fine, fine, I got it." Haley sighed heavily.
"Repeat what I just said to you, then."
"I'll just paraphrase, if you don't mind." She shot Brooke a look. "No revealing identities, no leaving the room without your face (Denise chortled), no asking the other girls about their faces, and no leaving the show for any reason." Haley looked oddly at Brooke and Denise. "Suppose I don't get a rose?"
"I highly doubt that'll happen," smirked Brooke, exchanging a knowing look with Denise. "Now, let's get your bags and go. You have a limo to catch."
Nathan shivered, and rubbed his numb hands together. "Is-is it always this cold at night?" he asked, his teeth chattering. Chris shrugged, running a hand through his messy hair.
"I don't know. I guess so," he replied nonchalantly. Nathan learned that the more you got to know Chris, and the more he liked you, then he would stop trying to annoy you. If he stopped annoying you, then he stopped speaking in third person and took up speaking in first person like any normal human being. However, this meant that the time he saved from speaking in third person was spent on playing his music. Nathan had to admit that while Chris was a decent musician, hearing "When the Stars Go Blue" twenty times in one hour and listening to him gripe about how it wasn't perfect yet could get a bit annoying.
A van pulled up to the side, and Nathan tensed, wondering if the girls were already there. He vaguely remembered from past seasons the bachelorettes coming up in limos, but the times had changed. However, instead of a pretty girl in a dress, a small group of men with cameras emerged. "Oh, look, we're starting to roll," Chris said excitedly, rubbing his hands together. Nathan sighed. Earlier that day, he had done his first private video about his thoughts on the show. He cringed as the words came back to him…
Why am I here? Well, like all of my other predecessors, I'm looking for lo- a companion. I think it's time for me to settle down and meet a nice girl. I want someone that I can lean on, and someone who's strong enough to lean on me. Even though I'm a basketball player who's always jetting across the country to the next game, I want to find a girl who I can cook dinner for and sit down and talk to. I don't want a girl who travels a lot and spends her nights clubbing. I want someone real, someone down-to-earth. I guess you can say I'm an old-fashioned kind of guy.
I've done some stupid things in the past, but this time, I'm going to use them to help me with my future. I'm not looking for marriage; I'm not even looking for love. This might sound totally gay, but someone once told me that love is like a butterfly. You can chase a butterfly all over the field and never catch it. But if you sit quietly in the grass it will come and sit on your shoulder. You can't expect to find love on a show. But maybe, just maybe, I can find something more.
Nathan knew that he couldn't find love on the show. He had found that a long time ago, but he lost it. He might grow infatuated with some of the girls, but never fall in love. Love was lost. None of the girls would ever come close to the girl he had loved. But it was time to move on, and he had always been an extremist, so the show suited him.
Nathan turned to Chris. "How far is this from my place?"
Chris shrugged again. "A few miles, maybe. For your own safety, the girls aren't allowed to know where you live. This house will be the common ground for you guys. Lucky bastard." Nathan just shook his head, smiling a little bit.
Haley found herself squeezed in-between a petite Asian girl and a curvy brunette. She, along with two other girls, had declined champagne. The other girls were laughing and talking loudly, the alcohol swishing out of their crystal goblets.
"What, you can't stomach some sparkly?" a tall blonde, who Haley learned was called Maya, taunted the girls.
Haley shook her head quietly. She had tried to avoid alcohol all her life. There were only two exceptions to the rule, though; one time during her junior year with…He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named and the first time she stepped foot on California soil…
It's October again…
Haley downed another glass of vodka. This was her sixth one that day and her third bottle that week. For someone who could never really hold alcohol all too well, she was doing pretty well.
Haley never really understood why young girls drank. She could sort of understand the reasoning that it made them loose; God knew how many times Brooke had gotten "loose" due to the alcohol she had consumed. But she also knew that when the euphoric high came down, it became the complete opposite. She had spent many sleepovers with Brooke and Peyton, listening to them cry in their pillows. Each time she reached out to comfort them, they would tell her in a muffled tone that she was fine and of course not, why would she be crying?
Haley could also understand that drinking alcohol would make you accepted by your peers. Erika Marsh had gone from perfectionist loner to popular lover in one night. But in the end, she wasn't really accepted. Her drunk version had been accepted; not her. And that was the girl that counted.
Those she could sort-of understand. But the one reason that truly perplexed her was the numb feeling that everyone felt when they tasted alcohol. Haley personally though it was bitter and far from numb, so she always thought that was stupid. But when she came to California, and the only drink available to her was alcohol, she began to appreciate its magic.
Drinking made her forget about her problems. It made her forget about the most painful things she had ever experienced. It made her forget about Nathan. Haley would drink so much that her mind would grow fuzzy, which gave no room for Nathan. She would drink till she fell into a dreamless slumber. She would drink so that it would give her a hangover the next morning, and she would have to focus on that rather than Nathan.
Even though the alcohol made her depressed, it made her happy that it was making her depressed. It helped her slowly get over Nathan, but little did she know was that it was making everything worse.
Brooke didn't know what was going on. She had been scurrying all over the place, asking money from her parents and relatives, which led to rejection. She managed to get a part time waitressing job at a popular restaurant, and after her shift ended, she would go to the local bar and bartend there. She made enough tips to pay the rent and managed to get enough groceries for the week. However, she was too preoccupied with staying alive to see if her friend was doing the same.
One day, Brooke came home from work in high spirits. "Hales, I got into FIDM!" she squealed, tossing her purse on one of the chairs. She was wary to see that all the lights had been turned off, and an empty bottle of scotch lying on the table. "Haley?"
When no one responded to her calls, Brooke began to panic and started searching around their tiny apartment. She found Haley lying on the bed, groaning softly and clutching her stomach. "Haley!" She rushed over to her side, almost tripping over another empty bottle. "Oh, God, what have you done?" She placed a cool hand on Haley's forehead, and was alarmed to find it warmer than usual. Brooke snapped the light switch on and with the light, she could see a pale, sweating Haley curled up in a ball. Brooke lifted Haley's eyelids and was frightened to see glassy, bloodshot eyes staring up at her rather than beautiful brown ones.
"Brooke?" mumbled Haley, struggling to keep her eyes open.
"Haley, what happened?" asked Brooke, her fear evident in her tone. A light bulb lit up, and she made the connection…the empty bottles…a sick Haley…but it didn't make sense. "Haley, have you been drinking?"
Haley just groaned. "No."
Brooke jumped up, and started searching for the phone. "No, Brooke, don't call a doctor," mumbled Haley. "I'm fine."
"No, you're not," Brooke told her firmly. "You're wasted. You could be poisoned for all I know!"
"I don't think I ate anything before I drank today," Haley groaned, rolling over on her side. Brooke rushed to her side.
"Don't move," she said, panicking. She tried remembering all those times when the same had happened to her, and Haley would take care of her. "Oh, God, why didn't I pay attention?" She started pacing the room, rushing to Haley's side every now and then. She really couldn't call a doctor; it was too expensive and they would have to have Haley's record on file, making it easy for anyone to look for her…oh, God, why was she thinking about that now? Brooke pushed those thoughts aside, and one night flashed through her head.
Brooke remembered being wasted after another fight with Lucas, and she remembered Haley had stayed with her. Haley had fed her…soup and ginger ale. Brooke ran to the kitchen and was relieved to find a half-empty bottle of ginger ale and a few cans of chicken noodle soup. She bustled around the kitchen, preparing the meal for Haley.
When she returned to the bedroom, Haley was sobbing hysterically. "Here, drink this." She shoved the tray towards Haley, who took it with shaking hands.
Haley managed to eat all of the soup and drink most of the ginger ale, and that seemed to help. But tears still streamed down her cheeks as she started to fall asleep. Brooke sat next to her, stroking her hair. "Shh, it'll be all right," she kept repeating. It was exactly like the night when they left for California.
Haley fell asleep, but kept whimpering every now and then. Brooke stayed up all night, holding her hand. At one point, Haley started crying again, and Brooke tried to calm her down. "I miss him, Brooke," she cried. "I love him so much. I miss Nathan."
It was the first time she had said his name in weeks. Brooke just hugged her, and she fell asleep.
Haley woke up with a pounding headache the next afternoon, and couldn't remember what she had said or did the night before. Brooke stayed home with her, nursing her back to health. Haley never tasted a drop of alcohol since.
Her thoughts were interrupted by one of the girls squealing. Haley winced. She hadn't been in the car for more than an hour and already these girls were getting on her nerves. And I thought Brooke was bad, she thought ruefully.
"We better be the first limo or else I'll just have a bitch fit," one of the brunettes said angrily. Haley gulped. "And I want to be the first one to see him."
"Uh, who made you queen?" one of the other girls demanded. "What if I want to be first?"
The brunette scoffed. "Please, Danielle, you don't want to scare him off the first night." All the girls, sans Haley, gasped.
The girl, Danielle, actually stood up as if to make her way to the other girl. She stumbled back into her seat when the limo went over a small bump. "Ouch! Okay, first of all, my name's Diana, and if you want all your fake hair to stay onto your head, you better watch it."
Haley held up her hand before a catfight could ensue. "Come on, you guys, we're mature young women. Can't we just be nice and…" she trailed off when her proposition was met with glares. "Never mind then."
The brunette was about to open her mouth and say something snappy to Haley, but the Asian girl beat her to it. "Who do you think the Bachelor is going to be? I heard they were considering Matthew Lawrence!" Haley shot her a grateful smile, which was tentatively returned.
"Yeah, I don't know about that, but all I know is if it's a redhead, I'm so out of here," replied Maya, flipping her hair.
"Hey!" squealed a redhead, who was sitting across from Haley.
Maya smiled thinly at her. "You look fine," she said stiffly. But when the redhead turned her head, Maya just rolled her eyes. Haley gulped again. She was way in over her head…there was no way she was going to make it out of the limo alive. No man was worth it. Maybe if the limo stopped at a red light, she could somehow jump out from the sunroof…
"We're here!" the girls squealed. Haley winced, and fought the urge to cover her ears.
"Dammit, the other limo is already here!" the brunette next to Haley growled. "I can't believe it!"
"Well, if little Miss Sunshine over here hadn't taken forever going to the bathroom then maybe we would have beaten them!" Diana snapped, glaring at Maya.
"Oh, so now it's my fault? How about when you…"
"Can anyone see the bachelor?" the redhead asked loudly. All the girls tried to look out through their windows, but they were parked behind a fountain, blocking their view. They groaned.
A cameraman poked his head into the limo. "Hey, ladies, how are you?"
"Good!" chirped all the girls. Haley was taken aback by the sudden mood change.
"Okay, the last girl from the first limo is almost finished speaking with our bachelor. I'll be here to tell you when you can go and meet him," the cameraman told them.
"I'm first," the brunette said quickly. All the other girls opened their mouths to protest, but the cameraman smiled.
"Great!" He poked his head outside, and for that split second, Haley was afraid that the girls were going to claw out the bossy girl's eyes out. But he opened the door all the way, and helped the girl out. "You're next. Good luck!"
When the door closed again, one of the girls commented, "I hate that bitch. I hope the bachelor sees what a whore she is."
"Yeah, and what horrible taste she has," added Diana, fiddling with her diamond necklace. "Did you see those shoes? They were so last season!"
"And you can totally tell that she got her nose done," another girl put in. "She should get her money back."
"Oh my God," Haley heard the Asian girl mutter.
"Can someone pass me another champagne?" the redhead called.
The brunette passed one to her. "Careful, sweetie, you don't want to be buzzed in front of national TV," she said in a singsong voice.
Haley's heart dropped. This was the part of the show that she dreaded the most. Unlike the past seasons, this show was filmed live. No edits or anything. Just raw reality. "It's because we're time-pressed and on a low budget," a sheepish Brooke had explained. "But the more drama the better!" Indeed.
The cameraman poked his head inside again. "Next."
Maya jumped up. "That would be moi." Haley suppressed the need to retch.
That's how the rest of Haley's time in the limo was spent. One girl would leave, and all the other girls would tear her apart, and then put on angelic smiles when the cameraman returned to receive the next girl. Only Haley, the Asian girl, and another blond shied away from the brutal executions.
Finally, only Haley and the Asian girl were left. The quiet blond had politely asked to go next, and they willingly let her go. Haley let out a deep breath. "Nervous?" the Asian girl asked, smiling a little.
"You have no idea," sighed Haley. The other girl laughed.
"Oh, but I do," she said, looking out the window. "I'm pretty sure your family didn't put you up for this." She made a face.
"Not quite. My friends, actually," corrected Haley, laughing a little.
"I don't get it. I finish school, have a decent job, and I'm pretty happy. I mean, I'm only 24. Isn't it a little too early for me to settle down?" the Asian girl wondered aloud, playing with an empty champagne bottle.
"Tell me about it," muttered Haley. She extended her hand to the girl. "I'm Hale…Reagan."
"Hello, Hale-Reagan," the Asian girl grinned, flipping her shiny black hair over her shoulder. "I'm Chatelaine." She pronounced it as "shat-uh-len."
"Oh, no, it's only Reagan," laughed Haley, shaking Chatelaine's hand. "That's such a pretty name. Is it French?" Okay, I get a boring name like Reagan Johnson, and this girl's first name is prettier and far more interesting than my entire name. She really must have studied those baby name books.
Chatelaine nodded ruefully. "I was born in Quebec, and my mother was obsessed with magazine," she said, shaking her head. "Really, how many parents name their children after magazines? And that's not it. My whole name is actually Chatelaine Marie Claire Nguyen." She sighed.
Haley laughed. "Well, I think it's a beautiful name. Better than Reagan Johnson."
"That's like, three presidents right?" asked Chatelaine. "Andrew Johnson, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Ronald Reagan. What's your middle name?"
"Madison," joked Haley. "That makes it four." They laughed.
The cameraman, whose name was Rick, peered inside the limo once again. "Next?"
Haley and Chatelaine exchanged a look. "Do you want to go next?" ventured Chatelaine. Haley shrugged.
"You can go first, if you want to," Haley told her. Chatelaine's face lit up, and Haley knew that was exactly what she wanted. She squeezed Haley's hand before stepping outside the limo.
Haley was alone at last. She really enjoyed talking to Chatelaine and was glad she had at least made a friend. God knew what would happen to her if she was left alone with the sharks…er, the other bachelorettes.
It seemed like hours until Rick returned to retrieve Haley. "Ready, Bachelorette Number 25?" he grinned. Haley allowed a small grin before taking his hand to step outside of the comfy limo.
"He's a really nice fellow, all the other girls liked him," Rick told her as they crunched through the gravel. "We did have a few problems with a few of them. They were past tipsy. Not a great first impression for the first date," he chuckled.
When they reached at the end of the shadowed driveway, Rick lagged behind and told her that the cameras would start rolling once she walked in the light. Haley found that statement extremely amusing, and thanked Rick. She was nervous about being seen on national television, but little did she know that America was the least of her problems.
She couldn't really see the profile of the Bachelor, but she saw two figures standing by the steps, talking and laughing. They both had their backs turned to her. One had weird, tasteless hair and Haley hoped that he wasn't the man she was fighting for. The other was straight out of the storybook; dark, short hair and extremely tall. Haley knew that he would dwarf her by at least a foot.
As she approached the men, she couldn't help but feel a sense of nostalgia. Her heart was beating fast, she had these strange tingles…the only time she experienced these was when she was around…
And all of a sudden, Haley's world went black.
Author's Note: Okay, you guys, I'm exhausted. I just had my last finals today, and my friends and I celebrated by heading over to Disneyland and California Adventure. Needless to say, all I want to do is just close my eyes and sleep. But I figured I owe you guys this chapter. And all I ask of you is to use your imagination. This plot was never intended for this fandom, so it was extremely difficult for me to convert the plotline.
The plot is more or less in order, but I don't know when I'll be able to update again. School's been a real bitch, and since I screwed up big time this semester, I really have to get my ass in gear this semester. And by the way I just guessed on 85 of my bio test, I'm figuring I won't be around as much. -cringe- Hopefully, I'll be able to have the next chapter up by spring break. And if I'm feeling good about myself, maybe I'll even update on my disasterous birthday, which just happens to land three days after the worst holiday. Brownie points to anyone who can guess my birthday. :)
But seriously, your reviews motivate me so much. I wrote ten pages in one day. How amazing is that? And there are so many people on my alert list, so even if you're a lurker, a nice "Good job!" or "What the hell were you thinking?" would make my day. Okay, the latter; not really. But you get what I mean.
Anyway, for those of you who finished finals, congratulations! And to those who are preparing to take it; good luck.