A/N: So this is it; the final chapter. I'd like to thank everyone who reviewed, I never thought this little story would get as big of a response as it did, and I'm really glad that other people liked it as much as I did. I hope you enjoy this epilogue too.
"Haley, come out of there already!" Peyton shouted from the bedroom.
Haley was currently holed up in her bathroom, trying on yet another outfit for her date with Nathan. He had called her in the morning, as promised, and suggested that they go for dinner that night. At first she'd been excited – her very first date! But as the hours passed she realized how much trouble she was in - it was her very first date! She had no idea what she was supposed to do!
Panicked, she called Peyton, who showed up twenty minutes later, with Brooke, who'd apparently been at her house when Haley called and had wanted to come too. After throwing Haley's initial choice of outfit onto the floor they had turned the room upside down and put together clothes Haley was certain she didn't own.
Sighing, Haley eyed herself in the bathroom mirror one last time and came out.
Brooke grinned. "Tutorgirl, you look hot! I certainly have a knack for creating outfits if I do say so myself."
"I second that. Now, excuse me," Peyton said, getting up from the bed.
"What?" Haley wondered as the blond pushed past her.
"I have to go to the bathroom," she called before slamming the door shut.
The remaining girls shared an amused look before Haley's gaze flickered to the ground as realized she'd never been alone with Brooke before. The effervescent cheerleader had always intimidated her, and she was inclined to dislike her since she associated with the psycho Rachel, but Lucas claimed she didn't really like Rachel and only tolerated her because they were co-captains of the cheerleading squad. Either way, she was now Lucas' girlfriend and he had asked Haley to make an effort to be friends with her.
Haley looked up again and gave Brooke a small smile. "So…you sure this is okay?"
Brooke nodded. "Nathan's blind if he doesn't flip when he sees you in this."
Brooke smiled and held a hand out to her. "Here," she said, giving her a necklace. "I was looking through your jewelry when you were in there and I think this should go perfectly."
Haley put it on and noticed that it did. "Thanks, Brooke."
Just then, the doorbell rang, and Peyton called out from the bathroom, "Is that Nathan?"
"Yeah, I think it is," Haley said, as she quickly snatched up her purse.
"Okay, don't go down yet."
Brooke's forehead wrinkled. "Why not?"
"I want to have a talk with Nathan first."
Haley's eyebrows went up, way up.
"Okay, you go," Brooke whispered. "I'll stall her when she comes out."
"Thank you!" Haley said, before running down the stairs and opening the door.
Nathan was standing on the front step in a black button down shirt and dark jeans. He grinned at Haley. "Hey."
"Uh…this is for you." Nathan lifted his hand, and it was then that Haley noticed he was holding a single red rose.
She blushed and smiled at the same time. "Thank you. It's beautiful."
Nathan let out a nervous chuckle before asking, "So you ready to go?"
Haley nodded. "Yeah, just let me get my coat." She moved to the coat rack and picked up her jacket before going out and closing the door behind her. "Where are we going?" she asked as they walked down the steps.
"There's this restaurant by the docks that I've been to a couple of times. I thought we could go there. Is that okay?"
"Yeah, that's fine."
"Hey…" Nathan began as they stopped outside the passenger door of the jeep, "you look really pretty tonight. Not that you don't normally, I mean, that's not what I meant, I just…you look really nice – not only now, I mean…I'm really bad at this," Nathan said finally, laughing at himself.
Haley grinned at him. "You're better than you think you are."
"I'm glad. So…I know that technically we haven't been on a date yet and you're supposed to wait until the end of the date, but this hasn't happened in the most conventional of ways and…"
"Yes?" Haley prompted.
"Can I kiss you? Now?"
Haley raised a brow. "Are you asking permission to kiss me?"
"Kind of, yeah."
Haley grinned. "You have permission to kiss me any time you feel like it."
Nathan smirked as he bent his head and was about to kiss her when she suddenly moved back. "What? I thought it was okay."
"It is, I just – you were going to crush my rose," Haley explained. She put her arms around his neck and said, "There."
"So, now it's okay?"
"I'm not going to crush anything? I mean, I might mess up your hair so –"
Haley shook her head and stood on her tiptoes and kissed him.
Nathan grinned. "So…I guess we should get going."
Haley nodded so Nathan opened the passenger door for her and she got inside. As she waited for Nathan walk around the jeep she glanced out of the window and saw Brooke and Peyton staring at them through the kitchen window. When they realized she had seen them Brooke gave her a thumbs-up sign.
Haley signaled with her eyes for them to stop looking, but they didn't.
"You okay?" Nathan wondered as he strapped on his seatbelt.
Haley nodded vigorously, moving her body to the side, praying that Nathan couldn't see them. "Yeah! I'm just…excited."
Nathan chuckled. "Me too," he said softly.
And with that he drove towards the docks while Haley played with the rose in her lap.
About 3 months later…
Haley let the last customer out of Karen's café before turning the main lights off and putting up the closed sign. Another dull January day had just gone by in the same fashion that they always did; she went to school, went to work and, after closing up, she'd go home to an empty house once more since her parent's were on another one of their trips.
At least she could look forward to tomorrow though. It was a Saturday and Nathan was coming over; granted, it was to study for their history test on Monday, but she knew he would lose concentration soon and, truth be told, she didn't always mind.
She smiled dreamily while she wiped down the main counter as thoughts of her boyfriend flooded her mind. She and Nathan had been dating for nearly three months now, and she had never been happier. Most people at school still gave them weird looks – no one more than Rachel who, despite Nathan's attempt to get her off Haley's back, had only become meaner to her after finding out about their relationship. Still, lately she had been a lot less verbal about her dislike of Haley, and she knew that that was due to her new found friendship with Brooke, the only girl in school more popular than Rachel, and one of the nicest people she knew.
As Haley put away the chairs her thoughts returned to her boyfriend and she wondered about the plan he had almost let slip to her a few days ago. He had surprised her one afternoon by remembering that their three month anniversary was coming up and had accidentally started to mention what he had planned for the occasion, before clamming up. Haley had tried to persuade it out of him since, but he refused to budge.
A knock on the front door pulled Haley out of her thoughts and brought a smile to her face. She practically skipped over there and opened the door for the visitor who promptly planted a kiss on her lips.
"What are you doing here?"
"What? A guy can't visit his girlfriend?" Nathan asked as he kicked the door shut and kissed her again.
"Nathan!" she protested, squirming in his arms, but only slightly. "I'm working."
"No, the café's closed. You're off work," he informed her and began kissing her neck.
"I told Karen I…oh my…I'm supposed to…oh, Nathan…clean up," she managed.
Nathan kissed a trail up to her ear before whispering, "But this is so much more fun."
Haley couldn't help but smile, until she realized exactly where they were and pushed him away, this time managing to break free.
"You can't do that here!"
"This is not in public, Haley. No one can see us."
"Everyone can see us!" she exclaimed and pointed to the glass front and side of the café.
Nathan sighed. "No one is looking in and even if they were it's too dark for them to see inside properly.
"That's not the point. You are going to sit behind the counter until I finish cleaning up. And while you sit there you can tell me why you're here."
"Well, actually, it's something I have to show you."
That caught Haley's interest. "Huh?"
Nathan smirked and took her hand. "Come on."
"No, I can't leave," she protested as he started to lead her towards the back.
"We're not leaving. We're just going upstairs for a bit."
"But…upstairs there's only the roof."
"Huh? Nathan, what is going on?" she asked as she followed him upstairs.
"Patience, Haley. Isn't that what you always tell me when I say I don't understand?"
"Hey, no fair using that."
Nathan chuckled. "Come on, we're almost there." Nathan reached the top step and waited until Haley had caught up with him before he opened the door that led onto the roof. "You ready?"
"I don't know what I'm supposed to be ready for."
Nathan grinned and swung the door open. Haley gasped as she saw a mass of people already there and they all screamed, "Surprise!"
Haley was in shock.
It was party for her. A birthday party. And he had planned the whole thing.
And it wasn't even her birthday.
She had turned eighteen three weeks ago, during the December holidays, and, as usual, few of her friends had been in Tree Hill to help her celebrate the event. When she was a kid the only friend of hers who hadn't gone away for the holidays had been Lucas so they always celebrated her birthday together. This birthday hadn't been all that different.
Jake had been there too, so the two boys had taken her out and they'd had fun, but she'd missed her girlfriends, and especially Nathan, the whole time. Peyton's Dad had wanted her to come on one of his boat trips so they could have some quality time together, while Brooke's parents had been adamant that she spend Christmas in California with them. Nathan too had been away because of his family; in his case his Mum, who had finally decided to separate from Dan, had wanted Nathan to spend Christmas with her since Dan hardly let her see Nathan in this time leading up to the court case.
The day Nathan had arrived back in Tree Hill he had taken Haley out and they'd had a belated celebration of their own, which had ended in him giving her the most gorgeous pair of earrings that she was sure were far too expensive.
She had been perfectly happy with their night together so she had no clue that he had been planning this little shindig, as a sort of endeavor to make up for all the boring birthday celebrations she'd had in the past.
He'd even called her parents! When she'd seen the smiling faces of Lydia and Jimmy James amongst the crowd she'd thought that they had done this for her, but Lydia had informed her it had all been Nathan's idea. He'd just called them up and told them when it was. The decision to make Haley think that they would be out of town that night was their own.
Haley took a sip of her drink and scanned the crowd, noticing that Nathan had really taken the effort to call everyone she considered her friends. Not only were her parents, Karen, Keith, Lucas, Peyton, Brooke, Jake and the guys from the Rivercourt here, but so were some of her tutees. But just the ones she liked; which meant he would have had to have listened to all her rants about tutoring and school to know that.
Haley smiled to herself and her smile widened when she heard a deep voice from behind her, "Hey. You're not bored, are you?"
Haley turned and gave her boyfriend a quick kiss on the cheek. "No, I just came here to get a drink. Most definitely not bored."
"Good. So, do you mind if I steal you away for a bit?"
Haley raised a brow. "Another surprise?"
"Not really a surprise. I'd just like to have you to myself for a few minutes. Maybe get a proper kiss in."
Haley blushed, but nodded and put her empty plastic cup down on the table. Nathan took her hand, and led her back down the stairs and into the mop closet in the back of the café.
"What are we doing here?" she asked, incredulously.
"It's the only closet you guys have."
"And we have to do this in a closet?"
Nathan smirked and pulled a small box out of his back pocket.
"It's your birthday present."
"Wh-what? Nathan…Nathan, you already got me a present."
"I know, but I wanted to get you something better."
"Nathan I told you I love those earrings. Look, if you don't believe me," she said, and moved her hair so that he could see she was wearing them.
"And they look great on you, but I wanted to get you something…You got me a great present, Haley, and earrings just weren't enough."
She stuck her hands on her hips. "So now this is a contest to see who gives who the nicer birthday present?"
"Are you going to open it?"
Haley sighed and took it from him and slowly unwrapped the rectangular box. Inside it was a delicately carved jewelry box. "Oh my God, Nathan…It's –"
She glanced up at him. "But, I –"
"Open the box."
She took the jewelry box into the palm of her hand and lifted the lid expecting to find something inside it. Instead she heard soft music fill the air. "It's a music box," she whispered.
Nathan stuffed his hands in his pockets and nodded. "Do you like it?"
"I love it. But, you didn't have to get me -"
"I wanted to," he said simply. "Before your birthday I was looking for the perfect gift and I couldn't find it so I got you those, but when I was planning this I saw the box in a shop and I wanted to get it for you."
Haley smiled and gave him a soft kiss on the lips. "Thank you." She laughed and added, "But now that you've gotten me two presents you aren't getting me something for our anniversary."
"And if I already have?"
"You're spoiling me," she pouted.
"I like spoiling you."
"But now I don't know what I'm going to get you."
"I thought you didn't want this to be a contest," Nathan reminded her, eliciting a grin from Haley. He sighed and added, "I guess we should get back to everyone else before they wonder where we're gone."
"Well…" Haley began, putting the wrapping paper and the music box down on the stool beside them, "we don't have to go just yet. I mean," she said, as she wrapped her arms around his neck, "I haven't even thanked you properly for my present yet."
He leaned in and placed his hands on her waist. "No, you haven't."
"I don't think they'll miss us if we're gone for another…five minutes," she suggested.
Nathan smirked. "Make it seven."