AN: Thanks to: dot, NateandHales, naleysocute23, naleyluv, SLUVER15, DayDreamer323, brit, NaleyyIsLove, barefoot!, Sam2007, OTH.daddy'sgurl.06, JPNeverlosetheeButterflies, coupling-all-the-time, bellasmomma, NaleYLuv01, Lauren, othluver2325, Nathanlvr23, KissOnMe, nathans.girl.23, chelle2911, pam211, MrsLucasScott, and onesweetthrill23!!
Alright, so this is the last chapter!! I hope you enjoy it!
Explosions of 'Happy New Year's' and cheers came from inside the house, but we never broke our gaze. She opened her mouth a few times to say something, and then closed it again. I wanted to tell her to say whatever it was, just to hear that voice again, but I was too busy thinking of what to say myself. Finally, I opted for something a little old-school.
"Do you, uh..." I cleared my throat, "do you want to go for a walk?" A vivid flashback to the basketball game appeared in my mind. Haley had just blown up at me, after what turned out to be a troublesome misunderstanding. Desperate not only to get to know her better, but to prove myself to her, I had asked her to go for a walk with me. And she had agreed.
The smile that appeared across her lips at that moment let me know that she remembered that night and those words as well. Nodding her head, she answered, "Sure." I mirrored her smile, in earnest joy and excitement. I made a mental note of thanking Lucas profusely for forcing me to come here tonight.
I fingered the small scrap of paper, still in my jeans' pocket, deciding whether or not I should tell her about it. Either way, I had to say something soon. I felt like an idiot just standing there, in complete silence, sneaking glances over to her. It was still so surreal. Was she simply an illusion? Or had I forgotten how amazing it felt to have her standing right next to me? Had I forgotten just how beautiful she was?
"I still can't believe this," She said, reading my mind, "I mean when we made that deal so long ago, I didn't really believe that we would go seven months without seeing each other."
"Yeah, I know what you mean... I'm having trouble believing this is all real," I said, "I feel like any second now, I'm just going to wake up and find this was all just a dream." Now, I would have never predicted her next move. But boy, did it make me happy. She reached over and grabbed my hand, very casually I might add, and I looked over to see that she was staring right at me.
"It's real," She said, with a smile of reassurance. And just like that. Just like that. It was as if those last seven months had never even happened. I felt right then the way I'd felt on May 1st, whenever I was around her. And just when she opened her mouth to say something else, I couldn't stop myself from kissing her.
Somewhere between a squeal and a moan- that's the noise I made when I was surprised with the feeling of Nathan's lips on mine. Amazing. I had so much to tell him. So many times over the last few months, I would experience something during my day, and for some reason find myself dying to share them with Nathan. But when he kissed me, all coherent thoughts escaped my mind, and I suddenly understood what people meant when they said that talking was overrated.
His arms encircled my waist and I grabbed onto his shoulders to try and bring him closer, if that was at all possible. We eventually pulled away, but kept our embrace in tact. I'm sure, if I could have, I would have stayed in that position for the rest of my life.
"You have goose-bumps," I said, feeling them on his exposed arms. Only wearing that cotton t-shirt, he must have been freezing in the winter, night-air.
"I guess I should have brought a sweatshirt," He said, "I mean, I didn't really plan to take a walk at midnight, outside, so..." He shrugged to hide his shivering. But I noticed. Being quite warm myself, in my over-sized Stanford sweatshirt, I decided to switch the roles a little bit. Play around. So I quickly pulled it over my head and off, and not giving Nathan time to protest, I handed it to him.
Of course, only when I saw his eyes widen with shock, did I realize that all I had been wearing underneath was that skimpy top that Bevin and Peyton had forced me to both buy and wear to this party. That's right, the wonder-bra top!
OK, so I'd like to think that I'm not a jerk. I'm not some superficial, dumbass jock, who only cares about looks and sex. But at that moment I must have seemed like it to Haley, because as soon as she realized that she had just stripped to reveal one of the skimpiest tops I have ever seen, she went on this huge rant of: "They made me buy it. This is so not me. Oh. My. God. You must think I'm such a slut. Oh, this is embarrassing..." I had to cut her off at some point, or we would have been there all night.
"Haley, relax. I may be having a little trouble thinking right now," I said, smiling "I mean, I am a guy, after all. But I can't take your sweatshirt from you. You look a little,uh... uncomfortable like that. And honestly, I don't really want other guys seeing my girlfriend dressed like this." Her eyes shot to mine at that last sentence.
"Your 'girlfriend'?" She said, eyes wide, completely unreadable. I couldn't tell if she meant that as a good thing or a bad thing. Girlfriend? Had I said that? It must have just come out...
"Whatever," I said, brushing it off, and handing her her sweatshirt back, "take it, I'm fine," I said as ironically, a breeze passed by making me shiver. Why were they outside in the middle of the night? In the middle of winter?
"No, you're not. Really, I'm ok... just a little embarrassed," She said sheepishly. Figuring that all this 'you take it- no you take it' stuff wasn't going to get us anywhere, I took off my own shirt, pulled her sweatshirt over my head, and handed her my T-shirt, that would probably be large enough on her to act as a sweatshirt anyway.
"Thanks," she whispered, putting it on, and smiling sweetly. I couldn't help but pull her into another kiss. Talking to her was great and all, but let's face it, we had a lot of time to make up for. And she didn't seem to mind.
Haley's POV: Four Months Later
I waited for Nathan in the Tree Hill High parking lot, torn between excited about the news, and dreading telling him. I was playing with my hair, pulling it into a ponytail, putting it back down again... anything to keep me busy. When Nathan stepped out of the building, I swear, my heartbeat accelerated more than it had ever done before. Calm down, Haley! I told myself over and over again.
He saw me immediately and ran over. I took a deep breath. "Hey," I managed to say, before his lips met mine, in a searing kiss.
"Hi," He said, smiling when he pulled away. Something was off.
"Everything OK?" I asked, as we started walking back to my house. This was the routine: I get out of school, walk over to his school and he would walk me home. But of course, school was almost ending. Our senior year was almost over. And while I hated to admit it, there were a lot of changes that were coming our way.
"Yeah, just happy to see you, that's all." He said, although he still held that goofy smile on his face. I figured, better he be in an overly good mood than in a bad one, so I tried to ignore it.
"So," I started, not being able to look him in the eye, "I kind of have some news..." He gestured for me to continue, looking a little worried now, "It's nothing to worry about... I mean, I don't know..."
"Haley, just tell me," He said. Right, I wish it were that easy. I plastered a slight fake smile across my face.
"I got into Stanford!" I braced myself for his reaction. Practicing this in front of the mirror had done nothing to prepare me. While me and Nathan were close, and had been dating for a while now, he was still somewhat of a mystery to me. I never knew quite what to expect. Nathan's expression was unreadable. Then a smile crept upon his lips. Now there was something I wasn't expecting.
And suddenly I was flying. Out of nowhere, Nathan had grabbed me and swung me around in the air, like a father does to a three year old. I let out a little yelp and giggled, "What's gotten into you?"
"Is that really all you wanted to tell me? God, Haley I thought it was going to be something horrible. This is great! I'm so happy for you," He said hugging me, and what's weirder... It actually seemed like he meant it.
"Really?" I said, still in shock. And my head spinning a little.
"Yeah, we have to celebrate! I'll take you out to dinner tonight, wherever you want to go," He said enthusiastically. I was trying my hardest to turn that fake smile into a genuine one, but it just wasn't coming. As much as I wanted to live in the moment, celebrate, be happy for myself, I couldn't. Questions about the future kept popping into my head. What happens when we graduate in a month? What happens when we go off to college? All these questions were clouding my mind, and they didn't seem to be bothering Nathan in the least.
I just wish that everything was still as simple, and as easy as it was on New Years.
Walking back to the party, holding hands, and talking about anything and everything, I felt myself start to get nervous again. Those butterflies in my stomach had disappeared when I had reconnected with Nathan, and especially after that long walk, but for some reason they were rearing their ugly heads as we approached the entrance to Bevin's house. I guess Nathan noticed it, because he immediately asked me what was wrong.
"I'm just nervous I guess..." I responded, but that was only half of it. What was I supposed to do when introducing him to my friends? Hey guys, this is the guy you've heard me obsess about for the past seven months! No, that was not about to happen.
"Why? Do you think this is to soon or something?"
"Honestly," I said, not wanted to start of this relationship dishonestly... whatever sort of 'relationship' is really was, "I don't really know this is." I said, motioning the space between us.
"What do you mean?"
"I mean- earlier when you called me your girlfriend..." I said, hesitantly. I didn't want to be that girl that had to put a label on everything. But at the same time, I didn't like this stage we were at right now. This place where I would be constantly asking myself what to introduce him as, where exactly we stand.
He sighed, and looked at his shoes. I could tell that he was battling with what to say next. I squeezed his hand, that was still firmly holding on to mine, to reassure him that I was still there, and I had no intention of leaving. "I'm sorry, if that was weird," he said softly. I wanted to yell out: No, it wasn't! It was fantastic! But I kept my mouth shut to hear what he had to say first.
"I mean, I have spent the last nine months waiting for this very day... I guess I just got a little ahead of myself," The way he said that just made me want to kick myself. Why did I have to say something? Why couldn't I just let him call me his girlfriend, and move along?
"No!" I said, a little to intensely perhaps, "You just took me by surprise- that's all." Not that I didn't absolutely love being called your girlfriend, I wanted to add.
He smiled, and I have to say- shy looked good on the boy. His cheeks reddened a little, and he looked at the floor again. He hadn't striked me as the shy-type, but it reassured me that I wasn't the only nervous one here. "So... will you be my girlfriend?" He finally said, looking up from the ground into my eyes.
I opened my mouth to say something. Yes, for example. I would love to- even better. What I really felt like saying was: Duh! However, while I'm sure either of these options would satisfy Nathan, they didn't quite measure up to what I had envisioned. That, and I didn't think I could go on much longer just looking at Nathan without jumping him. So I leaped out from the shy-girl I was known to be, and did just that. He reciprocated the kiss, and held me tightly, as if he would never let me go.
-END OF FLASHBACK-
Something isn't right, and I can feel it. Haley should no better than try to hide something from me, because if there is anyone that knows her inside and out, I would like to think that it would be me. Now, she's sitting there in front of me, not touching her food, not looking me in the eye, and chewing on her lower lip.
"OK, what is going on with you?" I said, tired of trying to make conversation and just getting one word answers from my clearly-distracted girlfriend.
"Hun?" She said, as if just waking up. "I'm sorry. Oh God, I'm so sorry. You're having an awful time, aren't you?"
"You aren't having a good time. Hales, you just got into your dream school. We're supposed to be celebrating here!" I said, reaching over to take her hand in mine. I loved her. I really did. I was passed the point of hiding from it, or having the fact that I'm in love with her scare me. On the contrary, I loved being in love with her. And having her love me back- now, that was the best feeling there ever was.
She took her time before responding. "You're going to think I'm so stupid-"
"Not possible. Hales, you're the smartest person I know."
"No, I mean... I don't want to ruin the dinner. This was so sweet of you, Nathan, really. But..." She took a deep breathe and I stared intently. Where was this going? "I don't see how you're so calm about this. And I don't want to put any pressure on us, but I have to say something."
"So say it," I said, trying to be gently, but I was beginning to get worried.
"We're graduating, Nathan!" She said, as if it was the worst news ever, "And OK, we have the whole summer, but if we don't talk about the future at least a little, I'm going to be spending that summer just wondering what will happen in the fall, when we go off to college. I don't like this, Nathan. I really don't like this-"
"Don't like what?" I asked still keeping a firm grip on her hand.
"I don't like the thought of being away from you!" She had tears in her eyes now, and I wanted so badly to do something, say something to make her feel better. Feel happy- but there was nothing I could do. "And it seems to me like you haven't thought about this at all. Like you're completely fine with being apart, but I'm not like that."
And I swear, seeing her this distressed made me water up a little, too. Had I thought about being away from her? Not much. But not because I didn't care. It was because I cared too much. I was dreading the day that we had to part ways, so whenever the thought came into my brain, I would push it as far away as possible.
"Haley," I said softly- that way maybe she wouldn't notice the crack in my voice, "I love you."
"I love you, too," She said sniffling, a single tear rolling down her cheek.
"Alright, so listen to me," I started, deciding to take the firm hand on this round, "Do you know what day it is?" She didn't answer, but instead gave me a blank look. So I smiled and continued, "It's May 1st." A small smile appeared on her face.
"Oh, Nathan..." She said, "I completely forgot... Wow, it's May 1st, really?.. Happy one-year anniversary, I guess."
"Exactly a year ago, I had on of the best days of my entire life. And you know what I thought on New Years, when we finally found each other again?"
"What?" She said softly.
"I knew it. That's what I thought. I told myself: I knew it. I knew I would find the girl of my dreams, again. Because you and I... we're inevitable. It wasn't a question of if it would happen, it was a question of when and where. And I knew that from the moment that you kissed me in front of St. Catherine's. I mean you were a complete stranger, and I knew it then and there," She returned my smile with a reassured one of her own, and my heart felt that much lighter.
"So, I have no idea what to do about college," I continued, "I know I don't want to be away from you. I know it'll be hard if we end up having to do the whole long-distance relationship thing. But, I also know that whatever obstacles will be thrown our way, we can get through them together. We're perfect together. And no college, or miles of separation is going to change that. It's just like I said: We're inevitable."
"Inevitable..." She whispered, "I like that."
"Me, too," I whispered back, pretty much all talked out. So I leaned over the table, as she did too, and our lips met in a sweet loving kiss. A kiss that signified our inevitability. A kiss that signified one year of our shared love. And a kiss that signified many more of those years to come.
AN: WOW!!! that was about two times longer than I planned it to be. I hope that makes up for the lost time, even though I doubt it did! I'm so sorry, again for the very very very long wait!
So anyways, that's the end! I really hope you guys liked it! Thank you so much for reading! The feedback from this fic has been amazing, and I want to thank you all so much for reading and reviewing. It means more to me than you know!