After the Fact, Chapter Five

by scarlet (superscar)

One of Haley's biggest concerns as she made her way to her attorney's office was that Nathan Scott would actually be present for her deposition. There was no possible way she could stay calm if he was there watching her every word.

The fact that he believed her to be some kind of gold digging groupie, she could deal with, though she didn't really like anyone to think badly of her, particularly the father of her child.

But she couldn't handle him taking her baby. Just the idea that he was trying to was horrifying on such a deep and painful level, Haley could barely breathe at times, just thinking about it. Brooke had spent almost every second assuring her it could never happen, no matter how much money he had.

Why would he want to do it? How could he hate her that much? Was the money really that big of a deal to him? Could he believe she'd be that poor of an influence on a child he hadn't even wanted until recently? Or did he just want to inflict as much pain as he could on her, in some sort of twisted revenge?

Haley was frustrated with herself for her naivete. It seemed like she was constantly shocked by the cruelty of people, that just because she, herself, would never go out of her way to hurt someone, that others wouldn't share these same moral principles and behave accordingly.

She'd barely survived high school, and now this.

"Haley James, right?" the secretary behind desk caught her attention as she entered the office.

"Right, I'm here for my deposition?"

"Of course, just go on back to Mr. Davis's office, you can just relax and he'll let you know what to expect and then in an hour or so it will be in held in Conference Room 3."

"Sure, no problem," Haley nodded, taking the familiar path back to her lawyer's office.

Mr. Davis stood up immediately as she entered and motioned to the chair, "Did you need help sitting down?"

Haley shook her head, concentrating on getting her larger than normal ass into the seat without her legs giving out.

"Is Brooke with you today?" he looked almost hopeful and Haley felt a little bad for him. She knew the whole story of how he'd tried to control Brooke's life since she was a child, but Haley now had a certain sympathy for parents parted from their children, no matter what reason.

"She had a call back audition for Grease, I'll let you know where it's playing if she gets it."

He looked embarrassed, "Oh, don't worry about that. Let's get down to business, Haley. Remember while you're in there that their whole purpose is to rile you up, to ask questions that will infuriate you and take your life out of context. They have no case and they're going to have to resort to tricks. Don't let it work. Everything that they squeeze out of you initially, we'll be able to clear up in the cross examination, so don't sweat what they ask until afterwards."

"No problem," Haley nodded, trying to seem anything other than terrified.

"Nathan Scott will not be present, so don't worry about that, it will just be his lawyers."

Relief flooded through her body, it would be so much easier to keep calm without him around.

"So let's just run through some sample questions, then, are you ready?"

Haley took a deep breath, "Go for it."

XXX

Nathan lay on the floor of his new hotel room, shooting his basketball straight up, and catching it – over and over. He was trying not to think, just concentrate on his shot. It was an exercise he'd been practicing since elementary school and it relaxed him. Like meditation.

He was 99.99 Josh's father. The paternity results were back, but he wasn't really surprised. From the second Lucas said 'six months ago' and he really looked at Haley's picture, he'd known it was his. It hadn't been real then, he'd just wanted the whole torture of it to end, to never let Peyton find out, so he panicked. He signed the check.

But he still wondered.

Nathan cleared his head, he was thinking again. He'd been trying not to.

The door bell rang and he ignored it. There was only one person he wanted to see right now, and there was no way in hell she'd break this early in the game.

But the ringing persisted. It was either a really excitable girl scout or someone who knew him well enough to realize he'd ignore them.

He stayed where he was and eventually the ringing stopped...and the knocking began. An erratic rhythm that screwed with his concentration.

"God damn it," he muttered, rising from the floor and lumbering to the door. "What?" he barked as he opened it.

"Oh, Nathan, you are home!" the woman in front of him looked delighted and he wished he'd been able to ignore her.

"Mom, what are you doing here?"

"I heard that things didn't work out with you and your girlfriend and I felt just awful I had to come and see you."

"She was my fiance, mom, and you never liked her in the first place."

"Does that mean that I can't feel bad for my only son when he's in pain?"

"Why don't you just drop me off with Dan, that's what you're used to, isn't it?"

Debra Lee's eyes narrowed as he spoke, "Nathan, I've apologized for that, I was in a rough place and I thought it would be best for you. All my life, I've just wanted what was best for you."

"What's best for me would have been not to have a junkie loser for a mother or psychotic control freak for a father, but I guess you couldn't help that, could you?"

"Nathan, I was a single mother and I had trouble dealing with life sometimes, I admit that. But I cared about you, I loved you, I will always love you."

"Good to know," Nathan tried to shut the door, but she pushed against it. "Mom, I have practice. You know, a job. I believe you've had a few yourself between husbands."

"Don't be like this, Nathan, if you let anger consume you, you'll end up just like your father."

Nathan wanted to laugh, "Haven't you heard, mom? He's a new man. He's happy, he's satisfied, he wants everything to be peachy with everyone."

Deb obviously hadn't been privy to this information like he was and her mouth dropped.

"That's right, he married Lucas's mother about a year ago. Didn't tell me for awhile, of course, being that we weren't speaking, but yeah. Everything's great with Dan, he wanted my forgiveness for the hell he put me in after you basically boxed me up and sent me off to him."

"Nathan, I fought for you, in court, but I lost, I didn't give you to him, not ever!"

"Fuck off, mom, you didn't fight for shit, the case was settled out of court, there was never a ruling."

"He knew things, Nathan, I would have lost you anyway!"

"I guess he knew you pretty well, then," Nathan told her, pushing the door closed before she could respond.

As a child, Nathan's whole world was Debra Lee. There was no person more perfect in his mind, his memories were full of color and light. She was a fun mom, she took him everywhere and tried to give him everything. But that was before everything changed. She was there less, she forgot him more. He couldn't forget the pitying look his kindergarten teacher had given him when she was late to pick him up.

But he'd loved her desperately, begged for her attention in all the ways a child could. He'd smothered her with his attention and sometimes, she responded. Nathan didn't understand the ups and downs at the time. As an adult, he was frustrated looking back at the innocent he once was, that he couldn't pull it together at the time, he just wanted his drug addict whore of a mommy.

Nathan grabbed his basketball from the floor and hurled it across the room. Nothing broke, much to his disappointment. He wanted to destroy something, anything.

XXX

"Do you have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?"

Haley was confused by the question, she'd expected something different. "No."

"Dr. Allison of the Raleigh Mental Treatment Center told us she delivered this diagnosis on October 3, 2003. Was she lying?"

"No, she wasn't lying, but it was misdiagnosed."

"Who made the proper diagnosis, then?"

"Dr. Baker."

"Dr. Kevin Baker?"

"That's correct."

"Were you aware that Mr. Baker has since lost his medical license, but Dr. Allison is now the head of the Mental Treatment Facility?"

"No," Haley shook her head, not sure where they were going with the questions.

"Is it not perhaps true, then, that we should consider Dr. Allison's diagnosis?"

"No. I had Acute Stress Disorder."

"Acute Stress Disorder lasts up to four weeks, maximum. Why were you in the facility for six weeks if that's the case?"

"Objection," Haley's attorney jumped in, talking mostly to the stenographer, "Please note that my client isn't a doctor, this isn't a question for her to answer."

"If the judge agrees with your assessment, we'll strike this from the record," the opposing counsel agreed and turned back to Haley, "Please answer the question."

"I think the extra time was for observation."

"Because they weren't sure of the diagnosis?"

"Because they wanted to be sure I was safe."

"Safe from yourself or safe for others to be around?"

"Objection, my client isn't her own physician, you know they won't let this question pass."

The attorney looked a little annoyed, but gave, "Question withdrawn. Have you had any subsequent symptoms for Acute Stress or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?"

"No."

"Are you an alcoholic?"

"No."

"Do you consider yourself promiscuous?"

"No," Haley was going to murder this man.

"Do you consider yourself bi-sexual?"

"No!"

"Who did you kiss at midnight on New Years Eve?"

Haley's eyes bugged. How could he possibly know something like that?

"Please answer the question."

"Brooke Davis," Haley sighed. God, she wished Brooke hadn't talked her into that. It did have the desired affect, they were very popular the rest of the night.

"Your current roommate."

"Yes."

"Are you in a lesbian relationship with her currently?"

"No, it was just..." Haley hesitated to explain with Brooke's father in the room, "It wasn't a sexual thing. More of a feminist thing."

Thankfully, he changed the subject, "If you're not an alcoholic, you're not promiscuous and you've had no subsequent symptoms of your disorder, how do you explain your behavior the day you met Nathan Scott? Consuming extreme amounts of alcohol and having sexual intercourse within hours of meeting him?"

Haley wanted to drop kick his head, but she answered the question, "It was the anniversary of a friend's death, I had a few more drinks than usual and Nathan Scott is much more charming when he's drunk. Less...like himself."

One of Nathan's lawyers snickered, only to get elbowed from both sides by his colleagues.

It still made Haley feel a little better, though.

"What was the name of your friend?"

"Tim Smith."

"His death was what the catalyst of your disorder?"

"Correct."

"But you want us to believe your out of control behavior on the anniversary of his death was unrelated to the disorder?"

"I wasn't out of control, first of all," Haley glared at the man, wanting him melt into a pool of goo, "I was mourning the loss of one of my very best friends, you arrogant bastard, not that you or your client would understand human fucking emotions!"

Haley saw the stenographer wince and her anger chilled instantly as cold dread swept through her veins.

Shit.

XXX

Nathan picked up the phone on the second ring, ready to toss hang up if it was his mother. "Scott."

"This is Mr. Roberts, we have a rough copy of the Haley James deposition and I believe you'll be pleased with the results. We don't want to messenger it over due to the sensitive nature, but if you could come to the office to view it, we'll decide where to go next."

"Great," Nathan smiled for the first time all day, "I'll be right there."

Finally, something was going right.

XXX

Haley couldn't help the tears from rolling down her cheeks as she made her way back to her apartment.

She was going to lose her son.

"Honey, are you okay?" a woman on the train asked her, "Are you going into labor?"

"No," Haley shook her head, "Just a bad day."

"Man problems?"

"'Man' is a strong word for him," Haley muttered bitterly.

Her companion laughed, "Jane Harrison," she held her hand out.

"Haley James."

"We've all been there, Haley, what separates your jackass from the rest?"

Haley sighed. Long story.

XXX

"Please don't shut the door."

Peyton sighed, letting the door swing open a little, "Nathan, you can't keep doing this, you're hurting both of us."

"I know, I'm sorry, I just... My mom came to see me."

"Oh God, here we go," Peyton groaned, "Do you want some coffee?"

She wasn't sure exactly why she was letting Nathan through her door again, but she was strangely excited to give him advice, when she wouldn't have to soften it like she would have before. It was strangely exhilarating and she couldn't wait to lay into him.

"What's wrong with you?" Nathan asked.

Perhaps he noticed the bounce in her step as she found a mug for his coffee. "Nothing, you came to me, so spill."

"I just wanted to say that I'm sorry, that I couldn't forgive Dan that night. He wanted me to, you wanted me to. I couldn't forgive him for making me hate my mom, for trying to control my whole god damn life and then when you," he paused, breathing hard, "...when you took his side, I lost it. I know that you just wanted me to be at peace with my father, but I couldn't. I can't. I still can't. I hate him. I hate her."

This was the Nathan Scott that she couldn't hate, the little boy that he sometimes was, that didn't understand why his mother didn't love him, that made Peyton's heart ache because her mother left her too.

"Nathan, what did your mother say?"

"That she just wanted to be there for me since we broke up, but that's such fucking bull shit!"

"She never liked me," Peyton agreed.

"It was probably about money, I just didn't let her get around to asking."

Privately, Peyton agreed with him. While Deb Lee probably really did love her son, she had always loved herself just that much more.

"What does this have to do with me, Nathan?"

"If I would've listened to you and forgiven my father, none of this would have happened, we would still be getting married. So tell me, now, tell me what to do and I'll make it better. Should I talk to my mom? Should I let Haley have the baby?"

"Nathan, you and I will never be better. Maybe someday, we'll be able to be friends, but I can't marry you, I can't marry someone who blames all his problems on circumstance. You're barely taking responsibility for what you did! God, Nate. Dan didn't cheat on me. Your mom didn't cheat on me. Haley didn't cheat on me. You did. You ruined our relationship. Don't pretend it was because of the fight because I was there too. I could have made myself feel better my fucking some random guy, but I didn't, I waited for you to come home to me. And I can't devote my life to someone who wouldn't do the same."

"I'm so sorry," Nathan closed his eyes, "You're right, it's totally my fault and I wish I could take it back."

"Your parents screwed you over Nathan and I'm sorry, but you have to get over it. Get a therapist or something if you need one, but don't keep destroying your life because they're not here to do it for you."

"How long have you been waiting to say that?"

"Since we met."

"Six years...wow."

"Felt good," Peyton smiled.

"I don't know how to do this without you, Peyt."

"Don't be pathetic, of course you do."

Nathan took a deep breath, "Thanks for the coffee."

XXX

Brooke hadn't stopped ranting since Haley got home.

"...and I cannot believe that a jury would not see through that jerkface fuckwad."

"The jury hasn't had a chance to yet, your dad said not to worry."

"Whatever, where does he live? No, never mind, I can find him on my own," she shrugged on a jacket.

"Brooke, what are you doing?" Haley was nervous.

"I'm telling him it wasn't you."

"No!" Haley was appalled, "He'll sue you for fraud or something, accuse me of perjury, we agreed to keep it under wraps!"

"Don't worry, it will be a 'just between us' sort of thing, I can't let him do this, Haley. No one who really knew you would ever consider this. It's not fair."

"You can't change people, Brooke."

"Watch me," she walked out the door.

XXX

"Your brother is insane!"

Lucas didn't have to look up to know who it was, "Brooke, always a pleasure."

"You have to fix this."

"Me? Talk to him!"

"Well, I would, if I could find him, but you'll have to do."

"Lucky me."

"You can't let him do this to Haley. She's the sweetest, most perfect person and he's a gutless fuckhead that needs a kick in the teeth."

"And I'm sure you're the woman to deliver?"

"Only if you're not man enough to do it for me."

"Look, I've tried to get him to stop, I keep telling him not to be an ass about this, but Nathan's stubborn, it's hard for him to understand people in shades of gray. All he can see is that Haley's first priority is money and he can't see that she might be using that money to provide better for her son."

"Haley didn't know about the money. She wouldn't ask for it, so I did."

Lucas looked impressed.

XXX

"Brooke, you could at least take your keys when you hunt down - " Haley stopped talking as the door opened fully and it became clear she was talking to the wrong brunette.

"Hi."

"I think everything beyond that can be conveyed between our lawyers," Haley told him.

Nathan's look nailed her and Haley for the first time since that night, she felt the pull behind those beautiful eyes. "I want to drop the case."

"A minute won't hurt, come right in," she stepped back from the door.

He smiled and followed her inside.

"I don't have coffee cause you're only supposed to have a cup and considering me, that's like, giving an addict like, an ounce of crack, but keeping the bag right next to them..." she tried to take a breath to stop the hailstorm of unnecessary.

"That's fine, I just wanted to let you know that I want to settle out of court and I'm sorry that I put you through this whole thing, I'm-"

Haley wasn't sure what to do with this extremely sudden change in the ex-lover-formerly-known-as-Satan.

"Why would you... do you not want Josh anymore, is that it?"

"No, I want to be a father still, I just don't want to stop you from being a mother. Do you think maybe we could work something out? Out of court?"

"Not if you're really as bi-polar as you seem right now." It flew out of her mouth before she thought maybe she could actually let him drop the case before she went bitch on him.

Nathan ran his hand through his hair, "I get that you needed money. I read in the transcript that you lost your job, I probably would have blackmailed me too."

"So all of a sudden you're just on my side? Is this because of the 'human fucking emotion' thing, are you trying to prove something?"

There was something there, something tangible and significant that had changed his mind about her, but he wasn't telling and it was driving her totally crazy. Brooke hadn't found him to tell him, so what was it?

"We're going to be parents soon and if you can't at least be honest with me, why should I let you anywhere near my son?"

"You never would have let me have him, would you?"

Haley glared at him, "I would kill you before I gave you my baby. That's a promise."

Unexpectedly, he smiled. "Good. That's good. First step toward being a good mom."

"I will throw Brooke's keys at you if you don't tell me what the fuck changed your mind."

Nathan laughed, "I play basketball, you don't think I can catch a set of keys?"

He was the most infuriating person on the planet. "Look, you may never have seen a pregnant person run after you, but trust me, it's not pretty."

"Fine, look, I knew him, okay? We went to the same basketball camp."

"What?" Haley had no idea what he was talking about.

"Tim Smith. I knew him. I heard when he died and I know how it happened and if you were Tim Smith's best friend, you can't be that bad."

"Tim was one of the most obnoxious people I ever knew..." Haley couldn't help laughing at the thought of Tim and Nathan, like, hanging out, it was ridiculous.

"I know, he cracked me up," Nathan joined her laughter at it was a strange, comfortable moment.

"Then you must know Jake too, right? Jagielski?" she asked.

"What was that?" Nathan's eyes narrowed, "that batty eyelash thing when you asked about Jake?"

Haley could feel her entire body turn red, "There was no...batty eyelash thing."

"You must have dated, right?"

"I'm so not discussing this with you, don't you have basketball to play?"

"Agree to joint custody and I'll leave," Nathan grinned.

"Hah!"

"Then answer the question, you and Jagielski go out?"

There was something about him that made her want to play along and bash his head in at the exact same time.

"Fine. The answer is no. Jake and I did not go out...we stayed in," she winked. "Now I believe you have to be going?"

Nathan got to his feet and pulled out his phone, "I'll just call Lucas, get the ball rolling to drop the case. You can even watch me."

It was tempting to tell him that it was okay, that she trusted he would do what he said...but since that wasn't even close to the case, Haley just motioned for him to continue.

"Hey Luke," he said into the phone, "I was just calling to...no, I'm not watching TV, why? Uh-huh...interesting. I'll talk to you about this later," he snapped the phone closed.

Haley frowned, "But you didn't tell him...about the settlement."

"Did you meet someone named Jane today?"

"No...oh, well, yes, actually, on the train...why?"

Nathan picked up the remote and snapped on the TV.

"...bitter custody battle between James and Scott in what James said to be 'petty revenge' over Scott's break up with actress, Peyton Sawyer."

As the TV flipped back off, Haley stared, slack-jawed at the blank screen.

Here things had been going so well...

To Be Continued