AN: Yup, it's another post 4.14! I wasn't going to post this when I saw the slue of well written follow up to this episode – but I've been struggling with the update for my fic The Day Got Worse, so what the hell here's my offering. I hope you like it.
Haley's eyelids fluttered softly as she woke, taking a few seconds to adjust.
"He's not kicking." Nathan mumbled into her neck, his lips brushing against the skin as he punctuated the words with a kiss.
"Mmmm, I know, apparently baby decided Mommy gets a lie in this morning – Daddy on the other hand was not so kind." Nathan's laugh vibrated against her skin his fingers stroking at her bump.
"What can I say, I'm trying to get into the habit of having you to myself while he's sleeping" She rolled her eyes good naturedly, her giggling turning into a soft moan as his hands travelled up from their place on her stomach cupping her breasts lightly.
"Nathan.." She breathed, arching into his touch as she felt herself slipping into a Nathan-haze. Thoughts of anything else slipping further and further out of reach as her eyes fell shut.
Haley blinked her eyes rapidly in confusion as she heard the sounds of wheels squeaking on linoleum flooring. She took in her surroundings, she was no longer in her room at home but instead in a stark hospital room, Nathan sat beside her instead of lying behind, his hand clutching hers.
"You understand there are no guarantees in medicine, but as long as we can locate a heartbeat, there's no reason to expect that this baby won't be perfectly healthy" Haley stared at the doctor perplexed. What was happening? Hadn't she just been… Her thoughts were cut off as she listened to the hollow soundlessness that echoed through out the room. Clutching Nathan's hand tighter she felt the doctor repeat the path she'd already taken around her stomach.
"Mr. and Mrs. Scott, I'm so sorry…" Haley placed her hand on her stomach, a strangled sob escaping from deep in her throat. She felt Nathan's hand leave hers and she instantly turned to him for comfort only to see his eyes focussed somewhere else, a cocky smirked etched across his handsome features. She watched as he got up from the chair, not sparing a glance at Haley as he followed the finger beckoning him to the other side of the room. Haley followed his movements taking in Rachel in her 'hometown hotties' garb. Her legs all but completely exposed, her breasts thrust up and out.
"No baby, no reason we can't finish what we started huh Nate?" Rachel's voice rang out huskily the room.
"Na..Nathan" Haley's voice broke with tears as she called out for her husband. Unable to turn away she watched as he stalked across the room roughly grabbing Rachel who let out a seductive giggle as Nathan pressed her eagerly against the wall, his lips latching onto hers.
Haley's surroundings changed again and she found herself standing in the Tree Hill High gym, flat stomached and decked out in her cheerleading uniform, as she watched Rachel wrap her legs around Nathan's waist pressing her lips tightly to his as the crowd whooped and hollered encouragingly.
"Gooo Rachel!" Peyton shook her pom-poms enthusiastically and Haley turned to look at her in shock. "Oh, come on Haley. You kissed Chris so it's only fair" Haley felt bile rising in her throat as she watched the bitter smirk grow on Peyton's face.
"PEYTON! He's my HUSBAND"
"And did you really expect things to ever be back to normal? You left Haley, you can't ever erase that. It's always going to be there. No one's ever going to truly take you back"
"Not that you were exactly accepted in the first place" Brooke's voice broke in patronisingly from her place on Haley's left, the trio's eyes not leaving the groping pair before them. "I mean really tutor-girl" Haley felt herself wince at the distain that laced Brooke's voice as she used the nickname. "Did you really think you were one of us? That all this was for real" Brooke's hands flailed around her, gesturing at their surroundings.
Suddenly the three girls were standing in the Scott living room, the party raging around them. "This isn't really your scene is it? Poor naïve little Haley. You were never one of us. We accepted you because we had to. Nathan had his plan and that involved you. How you ever became more than that I'll never know. Let's face it, you're not quite up to his usual standard. Look at P.Sawyer; tall, gorgeous. Model in a bottle, right there. Then of course, there's me…" Brooke flashed her dimples at Haley walking across the room and pushing in the VHS tape, moaning and panting rang out through the surround sound speakers as Nathan and Brooke withered around on the screen. Haley felt her cheeks dampen with tears as she looked around the room searching for Nathan. She felt the tightness in her chest lighten a little as she saw him walk into the room heading in her direction. She opened her mouth to say something, expecting him to wrap his arms around her and make it better, but he walked right past her. Kissing Brooke, he took her hand and brought her over towards Haley where he once again ignored his wife, never losing contact with Brooke he leant down, this time pressing his lips to Peyton's before the three of them headed upstairs together.
"I thought you were doing it for me, Hales?" Lucas asked as he stood in front of her
"I thought you were going to make him stop hurting me. I thought this was about how much I meant to you – but now we're almost strangers."
"Luke!" She called out as watched him walk away.
"I guess you were right" Haley pivoted round toward the voice. "You don't fit in" Skills continued, and then the pair were back on the school roof discussing their hopes and fears. "You didn't even back then. We only dealt with you because you were Lucas' little lap-dog and he got fed up of trying to shift you!" Was he really saying this to her? What exactly was happening? She wasn't sure but she knew it hurt. "He was too nice to tell you were to go, and you were just too oblivious to pick up on the hints. Or maybe you were just too scared to be alone? By then Taylor was off sleeping with your husband to be."
"No" Haley shook her head definitely. This wasn't true, none of what he was saying was true. "we're friends, I was one of you – one of the guys. I was" She stated more for herself than to Skills.
"Baby's kicking" Skills' hand reached out and pressed against her stomach, the pressure causing Haley to wince slightly.
"The baby's kicking."
Haley awoke abruptly, the pressure on her bladder becoming painful as the baby shifted restlessly inside her. Looking across the bed she took in the expanse of unwrinkled sheets before her. Sighing she turned to look at the clock. 11.30 – God, could this day really not be over yet?
Awkwardly she pulled herself out of the bed and hobbled over to the bathroom. The apartment was unnervingly silent. Maybe asking Nathan to stay away hadn't been the best idea. After seeing the tape he'd turned to her and said her name, his tone pleading, she'd just stood back shocked, feeling as if he'd taken his hand and slapped her across the face. She'd looked away and saw Brooke and Peyton holding each other's eyes in a steely gaze, Lucas looking between the duo. After a few seconds delay that seemed to last forever she'd turned and walked out of the room as fast as her injured leg would let her, heading for the door she'd tried to ignore the murmured words and sympathetic, expectant glances thrown her way. Once outside she'd turned to Nathan and Skills who'd trailed behind her. Directing her words at her husband she informed him that she couldn't, and wouldn't talk about this right now, and that he should go inside and sort out the mess he'd created. Standing strong against the heartbroken expression that crossed his face she turned toward Skills and asked him to drop her home. Turning down Skills' offer to stay with her for the night, she'd let herself into the apartment heading immediately for bed where she'd pulled the covers over her head as she'd fought the image of Nathan and Brooke out of her mind. Eventually the exhaustion both physical and emotional had taken her away.
That had been barely over an hour ago and as she moved from the bathroom to living room she wondered why so many days in her life seemed to go on forever. Shifting uncomfortably she propped her leg up on the sofa next to her, and turned to gaze at the water feature behind her. How could someone who was so thoughtful and sweet seem to break her heart over and over again? She knew it was as much as her fault as his that they kept coming back to this point. He'd screw up, apologise, and she'd forgive him. They never dealt with the underlying problem, and the cracks in the foundation, instead, just had another layer placed on top of them. After everything they went through when she returned from touring she honestly thought they had reached a new level in their relationship. A maturity based in honesty and trust, an equilibrium they hadn't shared before. Apparently, she was mistaken.
Her breath hitched as she heard a shuffling outside the apartment door and a key click into the lock. She watched with slight trepidation as the door opened and Nathan's large frame stood awkwardly in the doorway as he took in the unexpected sight she made before him. Immediately she tore her gaze away from his. "I'm pretty sure I asked you not to come home tonight" Her voice was monotone not wanting to let him hear how affected she was.
"Technically, it's morning" She didn't have to turn to see the playful smirk that crossed his face to know it was there. If he thought he was going to come in and charm his way past this one he had another thing coming.
"Did you sort things out with Brooke and Peyton at all?" He'd walked over to her now, and was trying to catch her eye as he sat at the end of the couch, shifting her foot into his lap. Her first instinct was to pull away from his touch, but she couldn't deny that this was a lot more comfortable and with the impending conversation being anything but she figured she'd take any small comforts she could get.
"I couldn't give a crap about Brooke and Peyton, Haley!"
"Evidently at one point you could!" He winced against the venomous tone that seeped into her words. She was still looking anywhere but at him. "You know when we were living together Brooke tried to give me all these tips to try and entice you back, of course if I'd known she actually had experience in getting your attention maybe I'd have taken her up on them. "
"Don't" She broke in "I don't want to hear how sorry you are Nathan. How much you regret it, and how much you care. I know you love me. I know you don't want to do things that hurt me, hurt us, but you do, and they are."
"I didn't know you when it happened Haley, I swear. If I'd known what was going to happen between us, I'd never have slept with Brooke. You have to believe me."
"But you slept with her even though your girlfriend was her best friend? That's not really a good defence Nathan!"
"We weren't together at the time!" He defended and Haley scoffed
"Under that logic, should I be asking whether you and Peyton got a lot closer than it seemed last summer?"
"My relationship with Peyton was nothing like ours, Hales. I can't believe you'd say that. I can't believe you'd even think it."
"No, of course you wouldn't" Her voice was barely audible as she sighed listening to the complete disbelief in his voice
"What's that supposed to mean?" He stared at her profile as she looked down at her joined hands in her lap and shrugged, lips pursing slightly. Reaching out he pulled her hands toward him causing her to look over at him. "Baby, I am so, so, sorry about tonight!"
"It's not about tonight Nathan," She tore her hands from his not wanting to feel his affection, "or the fact that there's a tape, or even about the fact that practically our whole class was there for its unveiling. – Although believe me neither of those things exactly thrill me. It's about the fact that you didn't think it was worth telling me that you'd slept with Brooke. That neither you or Brooke decided once, in the past two years that maybe this might be something I'd want to know, that my relationship with either of you was enough to warrant me knowing you had a history together." She took in a deep shaky breath as she tried to fight against the tightening in her chest and the prickling at her eyes. She wasn't going to cry, to show weakness. She was going to prove she was strong enough to deal with this. That they were strong enough to deal with this. "You know, I didn't think I could feel more betrayed, smaller, more.." She paused trying to find the right words as she watched shadows shifting on the blinds in front of her fighting her instincts to turn and look at her husband, "more insecure than when I found out about you and Taylor, and then this happens. And suddenly it isn't something that you can defend away under the pretence of not knowing I had any connection to her, I mean, I lived with Brooke, Nathan! She was maid of freaking honour at our wedding! Yeah, one of my best friends and my husband hiding the fact they slept together, that really screams honour to me!!"
"You make it sound like we got together and decided to keep this from you Haley. It was a mistake. A stupid, foolish, drunken mistake made by two over-sexed teenagers."
"Oh, that makes me feel SO much better! Now, let me see, you've met Quinn, and Viv, so I'm presuming we can rule those out of your little, well..." she let out a bitter laugh, "not so little – harem. Maybe I should pull out the albums, just to make sure there are no cousins or family friends I shoudn't be looking in the eye. Or, oh! The yearbook! I'm sure that'd be a riot of a read!"
"Haley, come on! Don't be like that..." Nathan tried not to let the anger rising in him at her tone take over.
"You really don't understand why this upsets me so much do you?" She gave out an exasperated sigh running her hands threw her hair in frustration.
"Honestly?" He asked and she looked up at him nodding, momentarily he was pleased to see the cold haze having shifted from her eyes, but his heart broke as he took in the unshed tears and sadness they now held in them. "No, I don't. We weren't together when this happened Haley."
"It's not about the damn tape!" She shouted swinging her leg off of him and attempting to pull herself up. "Are you not listening to me? It's about what it represents! After the accident your promised me, you'd let me in, all the way in, Nathan. This tape just shows there's this whole other part of you I don't know. That there are secrets you're still not telling me." She stood before him weight shifted onto her good leg, brown eyes boring into blue.
"That day on the dock when you asked me to renew my vows to you we weren't both on the same page. You told me you didn't regret anything that happened because it brought us to where we were. I thought that was a place of understanding, and honesty, and respect, but apparently I was wrong. Because since then you've done nothing but hide things from me, and I've let you."
"Haley, please, sit down! Baby, please" Nathan stood up begging Haley to let him guide her back to the couch and sit down. "You have to calm down, this isn't good for you or the baby"
"Nothing that's happened since I found out I was pregnant has been good for me, or the baby or us, Nathan." She gave into his prodding as she sat back down, but shrugged off the arm he placed around her shoulders. "I'm not trying to fault you for needing time to get over everything that happened on the bridge that day. I understand it was this huge, traumatic event for you. I wanted to give you time to get over it, and make sense of it all before I told you, but you have to understand that between worrying about how you were coping, trying to get you to open up to me, and trying to work out how you were going to react when I told you I was pregnant. Not to mention trying to wrap my head around the pregnancy myself, I was nothing but stressed all that time. Then when I did tell you, you walked out on me, practically telling me that basketball was more important to you than me and the baby."
"Just let me finish, Nathan, please." He nodded on, knowing that he really didn't want to hear this, but that she had to say it. "And then all the financial repercussions came in, and I had to fight my body as it tried to adjust to all the changes going on so I knew we'd have at least a chance of having food on the table, and paying the rent and bills, even though all I wanted to do was sleep, and cry most of time. "
"And then Dante" He broke in quietly.
"Yeah, and then Dante" She felt her resolve slipping at the pain and regret so evident in his voice. She wished she didn't have to bring this up, but she'd promised herself this time they were going to talk about things. "Then we're moving on, your dad helps out of debt, my legs heeling, the baby's progressing perfectly, and this happens. And I'm back to thinking I don't know you. I'm carrying your child, and I just look at you sometimes and see a stranger, but the fact is, this stranger, this person I know nothing about, everyone else in Tree Hill seems to."
"It's not like that Haley..." He pleaded kneeling down in front of her so he could hold her still, pleading at her with his eyes, and words, and touch. "That person, it's not me anymore. The person who asked you to marry me, twice, the person who holds you in the morning even when you're sleeping, just so I can be close to you, who runs out at three in the morning to buy butterscotch ice cream and Doritos just because you have a weird craving. That's me, the real me. Not the guy on that tape Haley. That's not me anymore, you chan.."
"God, Nathan, don't! Don't tell me I changed you! Don't say that!"
"What Haley, why?" He was genuinely confused as to why she seemed to react so negatively to it. The fact that she'd made him become who he was today made him love her even more. That she was such an amazing person she could influence him to become someone so much more than he was destined to be. He couldn't understand why to her it seemed like the worst thing in the world.
"You can't tell me I changed you Nathan. You can't put that on me. You changed you. I may have been part of your inspiration for God knows what reason, but you were the one who did it. I can't be responsible for being your moral compass. Your guide. In a few months we're going to have a baby. A whole other person dependant on us to show them right from wrong. You think between school, and the baby, and basketball, and jobs we're going to have time to talk about every decision? I need to be able to believe that you're going to make the right choices. I need to be able to trust that you know you're going to make the right choices. You're a good person, Nathan. You really are an amazing man. And I love you so much, but I worry about you too. I can't be everything for you, especially not now. Not now that we are going to be everything for someone else. I need you to treat me as your equal. Your partner, not like I'm going to break if you tell me something I don't want to hear. I need you to tell me if you do something you're not proud of, you can't hide things from me. If you can't promise me that Nathan you might as well go now, and never come back. Our marriage is never going to work if you don't trust me to be able to handle the things life throws at us. Yeah, things are going to be scary, in fact probably terrifying. But we're going to be okay if we have each other to lean on, but if you don't let me be there for you, you're not going to be strong enough to be there for me. I need you in my life. More importantly I want you in my life. I've loved you almost as long I've known you, and I'll always love you, but my life isn't about me anymore. My life is about the three of us, you, me and the baby. I need to make choices that are good for all of us, and I need you to do the same." Tears fell from her eyes as watched him react to what she'd said. Confusion, fear, and even a little anger seemed to cross his features before he breathed deeply and clasped tightly onto her arms drawing her closer to him.
"I swear, Hales. God I promise you I won't keep anything from you again. I can't lose you, you and the baby. You're it for me Haley. Those things you need? I need them to. I want them too. You are my equal, my partner, and I'm so, so sorry if I ever made you feel less that then. Please baby, you have to believe." He kissed her cheeks trying to mop up the tears that were falling, tangling his hand in her hair he drew her face to his kissing her fervently, trying to get her to feel how much he meant his words. "I love you so much." He murmured into her neck, his own tears dampening her skin before he brought his lips to hers.
She wanted to push him away, to tell him they needed to talk more, to try and make sure he really understood what she was saying, but she couldn't. His kiss set something off inside of her, even without the swirl of pregnancy hormones. This whole day had been a whirlwind of emotions, and his touch brought a calm she was desperately searching for. Eagerly she learnt into his kiss, deepening it she shifted so he could lift her up bring and her into their bedroom.
"Nathan.." Her voice broke into the room a while later as they lay side by side on their bed as she shifted out of his embrace.
"Hmmm?" He asked tiredly eyes shut as she studied him intently.
"Why didn't you ever ask me?" Her voice was timid, almost child like and she looked away from him, unsure, and uneasy about what his response might be.
"Ask you what?"
"Tomakeatape" She mumbled out quickly into her pillow
"What?" His eyes popped open and he shifted quickly on his side to look at her, had he just heard her right? Was she offering? He smirked at that thought as he stroked the side of her face coaxing her to look at him. "What did you just say?"
Letting out a frustrated sigh she gave into his ministrations and looked at him. "Why did you never ask me to make a tape? I mean, Brooke was this one night stand – or, at least I think that's what you're telling me…" She chewed on her lower lip nervously lowering her gaze away from him.
"She was" He responded eagerly
"And Peyton came barrelling downstairs, under I'm pretty sure the assumption that she was going to be the one on the screen, are there others?"
"I, Uh," It was Nathan's turn to shift uncomfortably
"Yeah, that's what I thought. So I can't help but wonder if I'm the only person you never wanted to do that with?"
Nathan stared at his wife aghast, watching her lower lip tremble slightly as she self consciously pulled the sheet around her, disappointment ringing on her features.
"Is it that they're so much more perfect than me? Peyton with her model figure, and Brooke with her movie-star looks, and I'm just…" She paused for a moment shifting uncomfortably under his blank stare.
"You're just.." He prodded gently trying to comprehend what she was saying to him. Did she really believe she was less than the other girls? He had to hear her say the words, and even then he wasn't sure he'd believe them.
"I don't know Nathan, I'm just me okay!" Haley was suddenly very aware that she was naked, and she pulled the sheet tighter around her, her eyes darting around the room searching out the oversized t-shirt Nathan had removed from her body earlier.
"Hales" Nathan shifted closer to her but she immediately pulled away, reaching down she slipped the shirt over her body.
"I know I'm not that type of girl, okay. The type that guys look at when she walks down the street, or the one that turns heads walking into a party, and I'm okay with that I am, really. Usually. Because I have you, and I don't want anyone else, I never have, but then things happen to remind me that you have, you've wanted all these others girls, you've had all these other girls, who are gorgeous and perfect and the only reason you looked at me in the first place was as a means to get to Lucas."
"You can't honestly still think that's what we're about Haley?!" Nathan was confused, he thought they'd moved past this along time ago.
"Of course I don't, I know you love me, but when things like this happen it makes me worry, it makes me scared that next year, when we've barely got time for each other and these perfect girls are throwing themselves at you, I'm not going to be enough.."
"You can't honestly think I'd.." He was fighting between anger and disbelief that she'd even insinuate the fact that he'd ever want to be with someone else.
"I don't, I don't" She shifted closer to him trying to placate him a little "It's not about that, it's about me feeling that there's someone else out there, better, more suited, and it scares me."
"Haley you're being ridiculous!"
"Don't do that!" It was Haley's turn to feel anger in the conversation, "Don't tell me my feelings are stupid! I'm trying to be honest here, like I'm asking of you and you're belittling me."
"Okay, Okay, I'm sorry, come here." He pulled her closer to him laying her head against his chest he stroked lightly on her hair. "You have nothing to worry about Haley, I promise. I want you, only you. You're so much more than any of those other girls ever were. You've got it so completely wrong. They've got nothing on you, not the other way round. You're beautiful, Hales. Every part of you, inside and out, And as much as a part of me wishes I was the only person who saw that, I'm not. You do turn heads, you just don't realise it because I quickly make sure anyone who even thinks of making their want known to you, knows you're mine." She couldn't help but let out a small laugh at that and he smiled hoping some of the tension had dissipated. "There's no one else out there more perfect than you Haley, not just for me, but completely. I'm sorry if I didn't do enough to make you realise that, I'm sorry if I ever made you doubt you're the only one for me, Haley James Scott. You were right, we do need to be honest with each other, and when you feel like this I need you to tell me. I want to make it better, I want to take all your fears away Haley, I might not be able to all the time, but when it comes to me and you, and how much I love and want you, I'm pretty confident I can do that." He pressed a kiss to her forehead as she smiled up at him tearfully. "I never asked you to make a tape with me, because when we make love, it's about you and me, it's about expressing what we feel for each other. It was never about that with anyone else, it was just something I did, but with you it's all about you and me, being together, sharing each other completely. Now.. if you're offering..?" A devious twinkle appeared in his eye and she hit him in the shoulder lightly.
"Uh, no I am not."
He shrugged. "Can't blame me for trying." She shook her head lightly in amusement dragging her lower lip lightly through her teeth. He leant down capturing the scratched tissue between his own lips and sucking on it lightly. "I know circumstances are just going to get more difficult when the baby comes Haley, but I love you too much to let it become too much for us. I promise from now on complete honesty, but I need it from you too, okay? I don't want you worrying, and scared, I'm always here to try and protect you and make it better, Hales, Always."
"And forever?" She joked and he grinned
"Exactly" They kissed softly for a moment, before she drew back unable to stop the yawn that was bubbling.
"Go to sleep." He told her, moving so she lay more comfortably against him, his arms stroking soft patterns up and down her arm. As she drifted off to sleep she felt a contentment she hadn't in a long time. Yes, they had a lot more to discuss, Yes, chances were they'd be screaming at each other when the morning came, but they would be talking things out, this wasn't just another thing to be swept under the carpet and forgotten. They were working on the cracks, rebuilding the foundation, maybe things weren't perfect, but they were real, and that was better.