This is AU. This is so severely AU it's insane. But I dedicate it to Amanda, who I love to bits, and who had to listen to me whine over it for a million years.


You can't make everything perfect, Haley.

You grip your cup in anger, hearing the plastic crinkle. You're not even really sure what you're doing there. Well, that's not true. You can distinctly remember your two best girlie friends shoving scraps of lace masquerading as a top your way, citing this party as a way to make you feel better. You remember how hopeful and excited they looked, making it impossible to turn them down. Even more than that, you can remember the fight that led you to them in the first place.

You just take things, and you twist them and mold them until it's all pretty enough to exist in Haleyland.

Snorting irritably, you swirl the liquid of a mysterious color round and round your glass. You aren't really sure what it is, as the cup was shoved in your hand when you burst through the door. You know two things: it's liquor, and it's strong—and that's enough for you.

Your boyfriend is a damn hypocrite. How dare he accuse you of… whatever it is that he's accusing you of. If anything, Lucas was the one always trying to alter the universe for his own good. Your mother warned you of this long ago, against dating your childhood best friend. She always said that they loved who you were, and who you become may not match up. You're starting to think that mother really did know best. Lucas Scott's version of you is so far up on its pedestal that no one can match up. Not even you.

Just stop trying to fucking fix me.

You catch Brooke's eye from across the room, and you know right away that she won't be coming home tonight. Gulping down what's left of your drink, the dizziness eases up as you take a deep breath. Everyone who is anyone is there, you can see as you glance around the room. Everyone except your darling boyfriend Lucas. He's God knows where doing who knows what with God knows who. You're not hypocritical enough to let that bother you. You're not Luke.

Don't drag me into your quest for idealism.

Laughing aloud, you wonder how much of a fool he would feel like if he knew how wrong he was. If he knew how much of a mess you've been making of things, he'd know that perfection is the last thing on your mind. In fact, it seems that it's "idealism" that you're running from. At least, that's what you think when you feel the tiny hairs on the back of your neck raising. It's from his stare, naturally. He's the only one that's ever been able to evoke that kind of reaction without you even seeing him. You can sense his presence though, and it makes you wary. It frightens you sometimes, because it's certainly not the he you should be having a sixth sense regarding. It is him though, and he's the only person that can make all the air disappear from the room.

Do you even know what you want anymore, Haley?

Sometimes you do. You can imagine the future life that everyone thought she was destined for. Be with Lucas forever, go to Stanford, get married, move to the suburbs, pop out 2.5 kids to play with their dog, and watch her degree waste away while her husband thrives.

And sometimes you want Nathan.

Sometimes you can feel his eyes on her body, stirring feeling that Lucas never could. His touch was rough, and his smirk was sensual, and you can use it to justify your actions. The tingles he sent down your spine, and the way he could make you shake with just words, made it seem perfectly sensible in her mind. You can use it all to justify a crush on the "evil" half-brother of you gorgeous boyfriend. When he isn't there, it seems crazy. Nathan Scott and his entire world had been nothing but a torment for everyone you care about, dating back generations. If Lucas found out, he'd have a coronary on the spot.

Maybe that was part of the appeal.

Lucas's sworn enemy, his arch-nemesis from birth, is the one that his girlfriend carries on with behind his back. There's a malicious sort of irony attached that you find undeniably appealing.

So basically, yes, you're going to hell for having sex with Nathan Scott. Eternal damnation for a series of fucks that don't mean anything, and the joy you get from knowing that your holier-than-thou boyfriend is none the wiser.

Even worse, when you're with him that seems like a fair exchange.

"Sounds good," you laugh to yourself, most of the sound swallowed by your cup. Your shoulders shake silently, even as you feel him press against you. Every single one of his hard muscles is distinct against your back, and you silently thank God that Dan Scott is a tyrannical bastard. You don't care much at the moment that he's given both his sons, claimed and illegitimate, a million lifetimes' worth of baggage. All you can judge is the product of how hard he rode Nathan, the exquisitely toned body that's had girls of all ages drooling since puberty.

"What's good?" the deep timbre of his voice reverberates through you. "Besides me, I mean."

"Funny," you roll your eyes, subtly scanning your surroundings to make sure Peyton is gone too. You try to act as if his mere presence isn't enough to make your heart speed up. He can tell though, he always can. His long fingers curling around your wrist and his lips placing themselves gingerly at the base of your neck allow him to feel your pulse racing. Shrugging him off, as you always do, you glare. He's getting sloppy again, and pretty soon, people will stop looking the other way.

You can't decide if that's the day you dread or the one you've been living for.

"Where to?" he sighs, and he looks tired. Not tired in the physical sense, naturally, as you'd felt just a second ago that he was ready and raring to go. There was just weariness in the way that he uttered the words that makes you nervous. You can't tell if he's getting sick of the arrangement, or just of you. There's no real reason for him to be displeased with either. Now, he's getting no strings attached sex, and you melting at his every touch. Even if worst comes to worst, he'll get one up on his enemy. You don't see a downside as far as Nathan's concerned. You're the one that stands to lose it all.

"Third floor, fourth door, I'll be there in ten minutes," you mutter out of the corner of your mouth. He nods slightly, the infamous smirk beginning to twitch as he heads away from you. This is a terrible idea, it always has been, but you're still going to go to him. You always will, and that's what really scares you.

You slip into the room silently, and aren't caught off guard in the least by the hands that reached out to grab you, or the way you're slammed against the wall. It's rough, but there's no fumbling. By now, you know each other's bodies better than you know your own, and you can't decide whether to be thrilled or resentful at the way that he fits with you much better than Lucas ever did. You love your boyfriend, you swear you do. Nathan is just an act of rebellion. This is so heartless, it couldn't mean less. But you know when it gets quiet and you have time to stew in your thoughts, that you're the heartless one.

Nathan's tried to stay before. He'll dawdle near the bed; make a big production out of gathering all his clothes. He never kisses you goodbye, an invisible line being drawn there. Your scowl is what shoves him away. Still, it surprises you sometimes when you wake up and he's not there. What made you think that he couldn't find the door in the morning when he found the bed so easily in the dark, you aren't sure.

Let me know when you figure it out. Let me know when you figure out what it is you want. I can't read your mind Haley; I bet you can't even do that.

Lucas's problem was that he was too sure of himself. He was always positive that he was right, in thoughts, actions and speech. He didn't wear arrogance nearly as well as his half-brother did, but they both carried it equally. It was the curse of the Scotts, you suppose, because Dan is the smuggest of all of them.

Your boyfriend isn't right, and that you're sure of. You know exactly what you want, in moments like these. When you wake up naked, wrapped in unfamiliar sheets, you know. You want a return to normal, when Lucas was your accepting and unchanging best friend. You want to admit that these liaisons with Nathan aren't a mistake, that if they were, they wouldn't keep happening.

Someday, you'll tell Lucas. Not to bruise his ego, because that would be cruel, even for you. Just to clear your conscience, to try and honor the friendship you two had before it disintegrated into the pettiness of high school dating. You both deserve more. Or, he does, anyway. For your childish infidelities, you don't deserve much. You doubt that citing how pretty his eyes are, or how his body makes your mouth water, would justify the affair to the boyfriend that you love so much. It's not a lie, you do love him--just not in the way you should. You really do wish you were properly in love with Lucas, because it would make it all so much easier. Looking at the bruises on your thighs, formed many times over from how hard you cling to Nathan's muscular frame, you have a painful realization, given all that's gone wrong.

These nights are not enough for you. You cheating on Lucas isn't to fight against the good girl image that's been thrust upon you. It's just something you can't resist, and that's the weakest excuse. You aren't running from idealism, you're seeking it out. The quirk of fate makes you hysterical, laughing and sobbing in a guest bedroom.

Lucas can give you the world, but you only want it from Nathan.