The Search for Who He Was and Is

By Emily Carol

Disclaimer: I do not own One Tree Hill, just the CDs and DVDs and my obsession with James Lafferty.

Wow…I'm good today, two chapters in one day (Okay, okay, I had this written like two weeks ago…). Check out my other story Finding the Only One Tree Hill for the other if it so moves you. (Wow…that's kinda a weird saying…)

Enjoy!

-Emily Carol

---

Chapter 6: When Plans Fall Apart

Nathan gave Haley a blank look as she read off a math problem to him.

"Come on, answer it," Haley said.

"I don't know," Nathan admitted.

"Wow, you're dumb," Haley said.

"Hey," Nathan protested. Haley just scoffed and handed a worksheet over to him.

"Just do these problems so I can see where you are," Haley said, getting up and moving to the desk at the front of the room so she wouldn't be breathing down his neck. It was their first tutoring session, Wednesday after practice, and both were going along with their friend's plans for them. Haley had so far not said a nice thing to Nathan and Nathan had still been nice in response.

Nathan looked at the worksheet for a few minutes before standing up and walking to the desk where Haley sat, immersed in The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner. "You're not done," Haley informed him.

"I don't know how to do any of this," Nathan said timidly.

"They're just basic proofs," Haley said coldly. "You should have learned them before you even came here."

"I don't remember how to do them," Nathan pulled up a chair to the desk and sat down.

"Okay, what's your deal? Are you faking being this dumb just to mess with me or something?" Haley accused. "Did Brooke put you up to this? Does she just want to get me back because I'm cheer captain and she resents me because we left her slut-of-a-self behind when she moved to the other side of town and we didn't welcome her back into our arms in high school?"

"Don't call Brooke a slut," Nathan snapped. She could insult him, fine, but Brooke was his friend and he couldn't let Haley get away with insulting her. "She's a nicer person than anybody else in this school. She became my friend when everybody else ignored me. On Monday you said I think I'm better than the team, I don't. The team thinks they're above me and that I don't matter and they've been led into that mindset by your ass of a friend Lucas. When you offered to tutor me I thought you were nicer than Lucas, but I guess I was wrong. You're a bitch just like Brooke warned me." Nathan stood up and moved quickly across the room, grabbing his backpack and beginning to head out the door.

He stopped when he reached the doorway though, and turned around. "And you can go back to your ass of a friend and tell him he's getting his wish back. He'll be the only star of the team when I'm declared ineligible. Thanks a lot."

Haley just sat there in awe. She couldn't believe how that guy would stand up for Brooke like that while risking his basketball career as well; Lucas had never done than for her or Peyton. Rumors circulated about them all the time and Lucas just let them go. He'd even occasionally encouraged the rumors so that he could have a laugh. Nathan was a decent guy and he'd been nicer to her than she would have expected. She'd been a bitch and he'd still put up with it until she'd insulted his friend.

Haley wasn't thinking anymore when she stood up and ran out the tutor center and yelled, "Nathan! Wait!" Nathan turned around to look at her. "Let's give this another try."

"Why?"

"Because this time I won't be a bitch," Haley said, truly meaning when she was saying. Nathan was the first decent guy she'd met in her two years at Tree Hill High and he deserved to be helped.

Nathan paused for a moment before slowly walking back in her direction.

---

Haley slammed her locker furiously and let out a half-scream. It was Friday and she was getting ready to head to lunch.

"Woah, what's got you all riled up?" Lucas asked, coming up behind her.

"It's happening again," she groaned.

"Which rumor is it this time?" Lucas asked.

"That I slept with some random college guy at a Duke party and now I'm pregnant," Haley said, leaning up against the lockers.

"That's a new variation," Lucas said with a small laugh.

"Luke, you're not helping."

"Sorry, what do you want me to do?" Lucas asked.

"Help stop the rumors maybe?" Haley was exasperated as she had to point out all the little aspects of everything to Lucas. Lucas was book-smart, but he lacked commonsense capabilities a lot of the time.

"What's the point? There'll be a new one next week anyways," Lucas replied unsympathetically. "I mean, you've got that good-girl complex yet you're popular and well known, people just want to take you down."

"You know what Lucas? You're turning into your dad more and more each day," Haley hissed at him before beginning to walk away.

"Hales! What are you doing? The cafeteria's this way," Lucas yelled after her.

"I can't deal with you right now," Haley yelled over her shoulder.

Lucas stood there for a second, dazed and confused. Haley had never called him on his crap before and she normally chalked up his bad behavior and stupid remarks to his upbringing. And she had never, not once, compared him to being like his dad. Lucas only had a second to mull this over in his mind before half the basketball team walked by and he was swept back up into his own self-centeredness.

---

"How's tutoring with Bitch going?" Brooke asked, coming up to Nathan in the hall on the way to lunch.

"Her name is Haley," Nathan corrected. Brooke just glared at Nathan. "It's going really well."

"So we'll be seeing you on the court after winter break?" Brooke asked.

"Definitely," Nathan replied.

"Good," Brooke said. "But don't get too caught up in Haley James's good-girl appeal, she's really more of a bitch and a slut than you'd think." Before Nathan could protest, Brooke disappeared into a crowd.

Instead of heading to the cafeteria where he'd eventually meet up with her again, Nathan took a turn and headed towards the library.

---

Dan sat on his computer looking through the Yellow Page online. He'd narrowed down the area where Deb and Nathan lived by knowing that Nathan used to attend Grove High School but Grove serviced four small towns in the area as a high school.

Finally, the listing came up on the last attempt.

Deborah Lee

752 14th Street

Sugar Grove, NC

"Now, let's find out what you really want," Dan said as he grabbed his coat and car keys and left the dealership.

---

Nathan looked around the library for a free table to sit at. Haley had given him some basic worksheets for all of his classes to work on that morning and he wanted to get them done while he still remembered what they'd covered.

Plus, this way he was avoiding Brooke. Ever since Haley had become his tutor, the whole five days, Brooke had been acting extra weird and Nathan didn't know what to make of it. She was even referring to Haley as a slut and a whore all the time, names that killed tiny parts of Brooke every time she heard someone refer to her as those exact words. He figured after finals he'd confront her about this, but for now, he'd just play the study card.

But thanks to finals being in a week and half, Nathan couldn't find a table to himself. He moved towards a corner of the room, figuring he'd study on the ground, when at the table nearest the window he recognized the blond ponytail coming out from behind The Sound and the Fury.

"Mind if I sit here?" He asked. Haley lowered her book, surprised to see Nathan standing in front of her. "There's no open tables," he reasoned as she hadn't given a response.

"Oh, sure, fine," Haley said.

"I was just going to work on the worksheets you gave me," Nathan said. He pulled his binder out of his backpack and began work. He assumed Haley had resumed reading her book, but a few minutes later he looked up and noticed her watching his work over his shoulder.

"You're getting it," she smiled at him.

"Really?" Nathan said. "I wasn't sure."

Haley nodded, "You're figuring it out pretty quickly too."

"Well you made me understand it better," Nathan said honestly. "You're a good tutor."

"Thanks," Haley said softly. "Listen, do you want to get together over the weekend to try and get some extra studying in? You're improving a lot in two sessions but we've only got a few more sessions until finals start. Since finals start on Wednesday we really only have two sessions before then."

"Um, I dunno," Nathan said. "I was supposed to go visit some family near Charlotte."

"When are you leaving?"

"Saturday morning, I'll get back Sunday night," Nathan said.

"What about tonight? I have somebody else to tutor after practice but I'd be free about seven o'clock," Haley offered.

"Don't you have plans? A party or something?" Nathan asked.

"Oh, so I can go sleep with some random guy even though I'm apparently already knocked up?" Haley snapped.

"Huh?"

"There's just a rumor going around that's really not true," Haley said. "I don't want to talk about it." Nathan just nodded, respecting her decision. Even so, he noticed tears forming in the edges of her eyes. "So tonight? Seven?" She blinked back the tears and let out a small sniffle.

"Sounds good," Nathan said.

"Here's my address," Haley said, scribbling it down at the top of one of his worksheets. "I'm not too far from here."

"Thanks."

Haley just smiled, "Come on; let's see how you do with the practice history quiz."

---

Dan knocked on the door, this was it; he was finally going to get his answers.

A dark haired man answered the door, "Can I help you?" Cooper asked.

"I'm looking for Deb Lee," Dan said.

"One sec," Cooper said. He disappeared into the back of the house and moments later, Deb appeared.

Deb had changed much since Dan had last seen her. The vibrant blonde who had been so filled with life was deathly pale and skinny. She looked exhausted and her once shiny hair was dulled and pulled back in a loose bun. She wore sweat pants and moved slowly.

"No," She said, once she was close enough to realize who was at the door. Dan Scott had changed very little in appearance since college. "Leave, you leave this house right now."

"Why'd you send him to me Deb?" Dan asked, ignoring Deb's orders. "Why did you send Nathan to Tree Hill to find me? He told me it wasn't for child support, so what do you want with me?"

"I don't need you Dan Scott, you need to leave," Deb said. She was at the door now and was reaching to close it in his face but Dan put his arm in the way. Deb was too weak to resist his pressure on the door.

"Why Deb?" Dan repeated.

"I told myself the next time I would see you, would be over my dead body," Deb said. "I'm not too far from that, so just leave before it becomes true."

"What?" Dan was confused by Deb's cryptic words.

"I sent Nathan to you for his sake," Deb said.

"Why?"

"Cancer," Deb said softly. "I didn't want Nathan to see me die."

"You're dying?" Dan asked, shocked. Deb nodded. "Oh Deb," Dan muttered.

"Now leave Dan," Deb reached to close the door again. Cooper appeared at the back of the house and began to walk towards the doorway.

"No," Dan said. "I'll give you the money for treatment, anything you need."

"I don't need your help."

"It's for Nathan," Dan protested. "He needs family."

"It's too late. Why do you think I sent him to you? Cooper can't take care of him, you're all he has," Deb pointed out, by now Cooper was standing behind her. "But you didn't take him in like I expected. Nathan didn't give me any details to why he's staying with Keith, but I bet it has to do with you being an ass as usual. Now leave."

"No, we're going to talk," Dan continued his protests.

"Leave Dan," Deb said. "I don't need you." She began to close the door in his face, Dan tried to stop it again but this time Cooper helped his sister close the door the rest of the way.

---

"Hey, I missed you in lunch," Brooke said, appearing behind Nathan after practice.

"I was studying in the library," Nathan said.

"Oh," Brooke said. "So you want to hang out tonight? There are a few parties or we could just watch a movie or something. My parents are in Bermuda, or maybe it's Aruba, so we could watch it at my house. Or we could watch it your house. Or go to a movie. Whatever."

"I can't," Nathan said.

"What? Come on," Brooke said. "You have to go visit your mom tomorrow and Sunday so I won't see you all weekend, what are you doing tonight that you can't spend some time with your best friend?"

"I have to study."

"You can study on your bus ride," Brooke pointed out.

"I have to meet Haley to study," Nathan finally told her.

"But you meet Haley on Friday mornings, not nights," Brooke pointed out.

"We added on another one since finals are so close," Nathan replied.

"So instead of spending your one night in town this weekend with your best friend you're hanging out with that whore?" Brooke asked him.

"Haley is not a whore Brooke!" Nathan protested.

"Really? You should hear some of the rumors going around," Brooke said.

"Those rumors aren't true Brooke!"

"There's always some truth behind rumors."

"Really? Because the school goes around calling you a slut and a whore too, but I know that's not true, so maybe the rumors about Haley aren't either," Nathan reasoned, the dynamic of his voice raising.

"Well honesty time, I kind of was one for awhile," Brooke told him. "So there is some truth behind that."

"Okay, well honesty time; what would you say to me having feelings for Haley?" Nathan's voice was still getting louder as he spoke.

"You can't have feelings for Haley," Brooke scowled.

"You can't stop me!" Nathan said. "Nobody can stop anything that's someone else's choice. It's just like how I can't stop my mom from deciding to die instead of fighting the cancer!" Nathan was yelling by now and Brooke's jaw dropped. She'd never asked why Nathan was in Tree Hill really, he never seemed willing to talk about it.

Tears clouded Nathan's eyes and he couldn't yell, or even talk, anymore. By this time in their argument, he and Brooke had reached the street two blocks from Keith's apartment so, without another word, Nathan walked off towards Keith's apartment, leaving behind a shell-shocked Brooke.

---

"Surprise!" Lucas and Peyton half-shouted as Haley walked out of the tutor center. She'd just finished with her Friday afternoon student and was getting ready to head home; she was supposed to meet Nathan there in an hour.

"What are you guys doing here?" Haley asked.

"We're taking you to a party," Peyton told her.

"Yeah, we wanted to take your mind off of the stupid rumor going around and Tim's having a party, so we're gonna go," Lucas reasoned.

"Peyton, tell the ass next to you I'm not speaking to him," Haley told her friend.

"Hales, come on," Lucas whined. "I'm sorry I wasn't more sympathetic, I'll try to be better."

"You always say that," Haley said. "But you just keep getting worse, like I said; you just keep becoming more like Dan."

"Haley," Peyton said. "Come on, give him some slack."

"Give him some slack? Peyton! All we do is give him slack." Haley complained. "When there are rumors going around about us, what does Lucas do? Nothing! That's what he does. But if I say one slightly mean thing about Brooke to Nathan he calls me on my crap and yells at me, but does Lucas do that to anyone in our school for us?"

"Woah, don't bring Nathan into this," Lucas protested.

"Why not? Nathan is twice the person that you will ever be," Haley told him.

"Haley?" Peyton interjected, "do you have feelings for Nathan?"

"So what if I do?"

"So what?" Lucas yelled at her. "You can't have feelings for Nathan and be my friend."

"You know what, I can't deal with this," Haley said. "I have to go meet Nathan for tutoring." She brushed past them as she left the school.

---

"Nathan?" Brooke knocked timidly as she pushed open the door to Nathan's room.

"What are you doing here?" He asked.

"Keith let me in," Brooke said. "I wanted to talk."

"I think you made your feelings clear on the way back from school," Nathan said. Brooke entered his room all the way; Nathan was lying on his bed, staring up at the ceiling. The room was pretty bare; he hadn't decorated it at all in the past two months.

Brooke lay down next to him on the bed and looked at him, his eyes were red. "Your mom's sick?"

"Yeah," Nathan sniffed. "Breast cancer."

"The doctors can't do anything?" Brooke asked him.

"It's too advanced," Nathan said softly. "Plus we don't have that kind of money; she wanted to make sure I'd have something after she was gone so she decided not to even try treatment."

"Is that why you came here? Is that why you came to find Dan?" Brooke asked.

"I'd always thought my father was dead, but my mom told me he was here and made me come when she found out how sick she was," Nathan said. "I guess she didn't want me to watch her die either."

"I'm really sorry Nathan," Brooke told her friend, she rested her head on his shoulder. Nathan didn't say anything for awhile she decided to speak up again. "It's okay that you have feelings for Haley."

"Thanks Brooke," Nathan said, his head resting on hers. "That means a lot to me."

"You really didn't need my approval you know," Brooke pointed out.

"I meant thanks for being my friend," Nathan corrected.

"Well, thanks for being mine."

They stayed like that, her head on his shoulder and his head on hers, for awhile. Cancer does funny things to people, it makes them be there for those that need it just by being there; without words or actions, just the fact that they care. It's a sign of true caring and friendship.

Nathan left eventually for Haley's for tutoring, and Brooke began to walk home.

"I'd hate to see you have your heart broken," She mumbled to herself, really speaking to Nathan. "But I don't think anything's ever going to happen with her."