Summary: 5 after graduation the kids of TH deal with how their lives have changed since becoming adults, and dealing with the death of a close friend. Possible NR. LP. RP friendship.
Disclaimer: I don't own OTH, but I did write this story. ;)
A/N: This fic is dedicated to my soul twin Sarah, who asked me to write it and I am really glad she did because I have enjoyed writing it. I really hope you like it sweetie! I hope everyone who reads likes it.
XoxoxoxoxoX4 YEARS AFTER HIGH SCHOOL
Nathan shut his eyes tightly. His back was pressed against the door and his heart was pounding so loudly he thought it might burst through his chest. Or, maybe it just sounded incredibly loud to him. Other than the beating of his heart, there was nothing but silence. An eerie, heartbreaking silence and it was all too much for him to take. Always and forever, he kept repeating the words over and over again in his head. It made him want to laugh bitterly and cry convulsively all at the same time. Who would have thought always and forever would have ended at the tender age of 21? It made him sick just thinking about it.
He couldn't do this, life, alone without her? What was he going to do? All anyone wanted was for him to talk about his feelings. He couldn't handle the concern, or the worried glances he kept getting. It was the last thing he wanted to talk, or even think about. All of this was his fault. She was on her way to see him play his first game in the NBA, when the plane she was on crashed. No on the flight survived. Nathan choked back tears thinking of all this.
Their son James was only 4 years old. He didn't understand what was going on and Nathan had no idea how to explain it to him. Haley had been such a good mother. A better parent than Nathan most of the time. It wasn't that Nathan was a bad father, far from it, but parenting had just seemed to come so naturally to Haley.
He jumped slightly at the sound of a soft knock on the door. He released a shaky breath that he hadn't even realized he had been holding in. He didn't want to open that door because he knew exactly what was on the other side of it. Everyone who cared about him, overwhelmed with concern and worry. The truth was he was worried too. He was petrified.
"Who is it?" Nathan called finally after staring at the door for a good moment. The door slowly cracked open and Peyton poked her head in.
"Hey." Peyton greeted him softly with a sad smile and understanding eyes.
"I don't want to talk." Nathan responded immediately. "I just don't" He shook his head.
"Okay. It's okay to not want to talk about it." Peyton nodded sympathetically because she knew how he was feeling all too well. "We have to get going." She added gently.
"Everyone's in a hurry to put my dead wife into the ground?" Nathan snickered bitterly.
"Nathan…" Peyton uttered caught off guard by the comment.
"I just need a second." Nathan answered abruptly.
"Okay." Peyton nodded backing away leaving him alone in the room as she slowly shut the door.
"How is he?" Rachel asked as soon as Peyton closed the door behind her.
"He doesn't want to talk about it but I don't think he's doing too good." Peyton admitted sadly. "He's a wreck." She shook her head feeling helpless.
"I feel so awful. I wish there was something we could do." Rachel sighed. "And at the same time I know there's really nothing that can make this any better." She admitted remorsefully.
"I can't believe this." Brooke cried hysterically. "Haley is gone. It just doesn't feel real." She sobbed and Peyton immediately pulled her into a tight hug, tears rolling down her own face. Rachel wrapped her arms around both girls in an attempt to comfort them. She and Haley were never really that close but they has managed to get passed all of the silly high school drama and become pretty good friends over the last 4 years. Rachel cried tears of loss with them, because really, they had all lost a sister. They would face this together because it was the only way to keep from falling apart. A teary eyed Bevin nearly tackled them all to the ground when she came over to join in on the hug, providing a much needed laugh.
"Oh you guys." Bevin sobbed hugging them. Peyton broke away from the girls to go check on Lucas, who had pretty much been an emotional wreck after receiving the devastating news. He was probably as broken up, as Nathan was, the only difference being that he wasn't bottling it up. Peyton glided over to him and pulled him close to her, wrapping her arms around his neck.
"How are you doing baby?" Peyton cooed softly.
"I just can't believe this is happening. She was my best friend, like a little sister. She was my family. I just want to wake up and have this all be a bad dream." Lucas answered emotionally resting his forehead on Peyton's, while tears rolled down his face. "Everything was going so good. Nathan and Haley doing great, Nathan's dreams were finally coming true, you and I had just gotten engaged and my book is being published soon and then this happens?! It's not fair!" He sobbed.
"I know Lucas." Peyton murmured softly giving his shoulder a comforting squeeze.
"And poor Nathan. God, I can only imagine what he must be going through right now. But he won't talk to me about it. He just lost the love of his life. I can't even possibly fathom what I'd do if I ever lost you. I really hope he's gonna be okay." Lucas continued to cry. Peyton enveloped him in her arms closing the space between them and he returned the embrace holding her tightly. It was almost like he was afraid she might disappear.
Suddenly the door swung open and all eyes in the room were on the broken man in the doorway. The rims of Nathan's eyes were red, and his eyes were puffy and bloodshot. It looked like he had been crying for hours and hadn't slept in days. Which was probably the case. He scanned the room and his eyes fell upon Lucas and Peyton. Peyton was hugging Lucas and he was crying softly into her shoulder. He sadly wished that Haley were still here to hold him like that and help him get through this. No one seemed to know how to react or what to say to him, but Brooke was the first to approach.
"Nathan." Brooke cried throwing her arms around him with tears gushing from her eyes. "I'm so sorry." She wept finally releasing him. That's what he kept hearing from everyone it seemed. Sorry? That's great but it wasn't changing anything. People being sorry wasn't making it better or bringing her back to him. He knew it was only their way of showing that they cared. He just really couldn't appreciate that right now.
"It's kind of sad it takes something like this to bring us all back together." Nathan remarked numbly. After high school they had all gone their separate ways off to college, pursuing their individual dreams.
"Hey man." Lucas greeted as he approached with Peyton by his side. He pulled Nathan into a hug. "I'm gonna help you get through this." He promised.
"I don't think you can." Nathan chuckled sadly.
"I can try." Lucas reasoned softly.
"I can't give a eulogy. There are no words to describe how this feels, so thank you for doing it. Your better with words than I am anyway." Nathan admitted.
"I wanted too." Lucas answered in a heartfelt tone. There was a brief moment of silence where the bothers just looked at each other with understanding. "Are you ready?" He asked.
"No, but I guess I'm gonna have to be." Nathan answered leading the way to the door.
It was a very emotional ceremony. There wasn't s dry eye at the funeral. Afterward everyone went back to Nathan's house. He stayed for about an hour before he couldn't take it anymore. He had to get out of that house.
"Mom, can you keep an eye on James for me? I need to get some air." Nathan requested handing over his 4 years old son to his grandmother.
"Of course." Deb obliged failing to mask her worry.
"I'm fine Mom." Nathan answered sensing her concern.
"Of course your not." Deb frowned hugging him. "I know how hard this is for you. I wish I could change it." She began to cry softly.
"Mom, don't okay? Just please don't." Nathan asked pulling away from her embrace and heading for the door.
"Nate, where are you going?" Peyton called catching up to him followed by Rachel.
"I just don't want to be here right now. I know I'm probably supposed to stay but I can't…" Nathan shrugged. "I'll be back later. I just need some time." He added.
"You should really talk to Lucas. He was just as close to Haley as you were, if anyone can relate it's him. He's in a lot of pain right now. We all are." Rachel offered sympathetically.
"We're here for you. I just want you to know that." Peyton reminded.
"Yeah, we're here for you if there's anything you ever need. Even if you don't want to talk, if you need anything like money or a babysitter, or just friends…we're here for you. You don't have to go through this alone." Rachel explained softly.
"Thanks guys. Right now, all I want is to be left alone." Nathan answered simply.
"We understand. We're just worried." Peyton let out a nervous laugh folding her arms across her chest.
"So am I." Nathan admitted before turning to leave and walking out the front door. The girls watched him leave, their hearts heavy with sorrow for their broken friend.
ONE YEAR LATER
Rachel huffed dragging a bag of Peyton's through the front door. She seriously wasn't expecting the bag to be this heavy. It was only art supplies. How heavy could a paintbrush or a pencil really be? She dropped the bag in front of the coach watching as Peyton entered the house carrying a box of albums, closely followed by a zombie-like Nathan who was there to do all of the heavy lifting. He was currently carrying in Peyton's computer. Rachel darkly noted Nathan had been zombie-like a lot these days. For the last year actually, he hadn't been the same since Haley's untimely passing. Rachel plopped down on the coach think about how she should have made Nathan carry the 50-pound bag of art tools.
"Oh no you don't!" Peyton reprimanded immediately grabbing Rachel's hands and pulling her to her feet. Nathan exited the house to unload the rest of the truck.
"Give me a break. I had class this morning. I have tons of studying to do, on top of helping you move. Plus, I have a shift at the café on top if helping you at Tric. A girl deserves at least a 5 minute break." Rachel whined although she wasn't really annoyed. Peyton smiled at her pouting, Rachel had really become one of her closest friends over the years.
"Well, maybe if you hadn't taken time off of school you'd be done like the rest of us." Peyton retorted with a sly grin.
"Good times." Rachel smiled.
"I'll bet." Peyton replied sarcastically. Instead of going to college right after high school like every else Rachel took some time off to travel and also did a lot of partying. When she finally decided it was time to get serious and do something with her life, she chose to pursue veterinary school.
"Are you sure about this?" Rachel asked. A question she had already asked repeatedly.
"How many times are you gonna ask me that?" Peyton laughed.
"I just want to make sure your not making a mistake because I think you might be." Rachel answered honestly. Nathan re-entered the room giving the girls a glance.
"I thought I was supposed to be helping you move, not moving everything for you." Nathan said. It was a playful comment but he wasn't smiling or amused.
"Stop whining like a little girl Nathan. You're stronger than us. Most of the stuff is heavy. I nearly broke my arm carrying that bag." Rachel answered.
"Now you're being dramatic." Peyton grinned. Nathan rolled his eyes and went back to work.
"I appreciate your concern. I really do. But I've made up my mind." Peyton answered Rachel's previous question.
"What about Lucas? How is he gonna feel about you moving?" Rachel reminded with concern.
"What about him? He's half way across the country Rach. He won't even notice I'm gone." Peyton explained failing to disguise how much this simple fact bothered her.
"Peyton that's not fair." Rachel answered softly.
"Life rarely is." Peyton shrugged.
"You know if you told him how you felt…" Rachel began.
"He'd be back in Tree Hill in an instant and I don't want that. Lucas has had to sacrifice enough for the people in his life and he deserves this. Besides, the engagement is off so there's really no need for me to live there anymore." Peyton added with a sad smile acting like she didn't care what they both knew nothing could be further from the truth.
"You know instead of feeling sorry for yourself and resenting Lucas for following his dreams. Maybe you should thank God that you still have Lucas, that you can still have stupid things to argue with him about or get mad at him for." Nathan snapped heatedly dropping the box he was holding to the floor. "I'd give anything to have Haley back, in good times and bad." He admitted and his voice gave out on those last words with a heartbreaking crack. He walked off with tears brimming his eyes. Peyton and Rachel exchanged a look of concern.
"I'll go talk to him." Peyton murmured walking in the direction he had disappeared him.
She entered the bedroom to find him sitting on the bed. His eyes were fixated on the floor, a sad blank expression written across his face.
"I'm sorry Nathan. Things with Lucas and I are just complicated right now. But I don't take his presence for granted." Peyton said softly as she sat next to him.
"Lucas left to promote his best-selling novel Peyton. He's following his dream. Your just selfish." Nathan retorted harshly.
"I pushed him to follow his dreams!" Peyton cried defensively.
"Yeah, and now you resent him for it." Nathan laughed bitterly.
"This isn't even about me or Lucas. This is about Haley. Nathan I know how badly you hurting. But it's been a year do you really think Haley would want you doing this to yourself?" Peyton replied her eyes filled with concern.
"It still doesn't feel real, the idea that I can never see her again. I can't hear her laugh or sing. I can't see her smile. I can't ever touch her face or hold her again. What makes it worse is that it's all my fault." Nathan explained bitterly. "If it weren't for me she'd still be here. She was on that plane because of me. She was on her way to see me play my first game as a professional basketball player." He added emotionally.
"Haley's death was not your fault!" Peyton replied passionately. I used to blame myself for my mother's death. She was on her way to see me just like Haley was on her way to see you. There's nothing you could have done." She insisted with determined eyes.
"That doesn't make me feel any better." Nathan shrugged looking away trying to fight off tears.
"Give it time Nathan." Peyton hushed softly.
"It's been a year." Nathan croaked.
"It's been 12 years since my mother passed away and it still hurts me. It'll never stop hurting Nathan. You're always going to miss her. That's okay. But she would have wanted you to be happy, not let her death consume the rest of your life. She would have wanted you to move on and create a great life for you and James." Peyton explained with a caring smile.
"We should move the rest of your stuff." Nathan responded suddenly rising to his feet.
"Are you okay?" Peyton asked worriedly.
"I'm fine." Nathan smiled grimly. Although they both knew it was a lie.
Nathan aggressively slammed Rachel against the door, his mouth covering hers in a forbidden kiss. They stumbled further into his apartment, nearly tripping over one of the end tables. The strong odor of liquor was seeping through Nathan's pores and it tasted even stronger in his mouth. This had been going on for about a month. Nathan would drink so heavily that he was completely belligerent and then he and Rachel would hook up. She was being used. She wasn't a stupid girl. She knew this. She didn't know his reason, maybe it was just helping to feel something other than grief for a moment, but Nathan was definitely using her. The same way he used alcohol to escape the pain. When she said if he needed anything, she'd be there, she wasn't expecting it to turn into this. She was ashamed on many different levels because of this, but right now Nathan felt too good to care.
He roughly backed her up against the kitchen counter. Rachel noticed every time that they had hooked up like this, Nathan kept his eyes tightly almost the entire time, even during the actual sex. Perhaps he was ashamed or even worse felt as if he was betraying Haley.
For him it was about feeling something, anything other than this constant aching pain. Since he was unable to do this emotionally and mentally, sex was the one thing that could physically make him feel something different even if just for a moment.
He grabbed Rachel's hips, lifting her up and onto the counter. Her hot tongue dipped into his mouth and he moaned lifting her shirt over her head in one swift motion. He left a trail of kisses down her neck and her breasts before taking his own shirt off. She pulled at his belt buckle, pulling it through the loops if the pants and discarding it to the floor.
Nathan lifted her short denim skirt up over her ass exposing her black thong. She captured Nathan's lips once more and their tongues went to war, wrestling for control. She breathlessly ended the passion-laced kiss by biting down on his lower lip, hard. She almost swore she could taste blood but he didn't complain or seem to be in pain.
She forcefully unbuttoned and unzipped his pants. Nathan snaked his hand over the waistband of her panties and grabbed it breaking the elastic while ripping them off of her body. Her core was throbbing for him in an almost painful way.
"Fucking asshole, those were expensive!" Rachel hissed breaking the kiss.
"Shut up." Nathan growled and without warning he had shoved his way inside of her. Rachel screamed a cry bordering pleasure and pain as she bit down on Nathan's shoulder, hard. Nathan hissed and began pumping inside of her harder causing her to dig her nails into his back. She kept her teeth clenched into Nathan's skin in a desperate attempt to keep from being too loud. But with the way Nathan was working it, he obviously wasn't going to let that happen. So, she cried out, because he felt good inside of her.
"Nathan." She moaned loudly unaware she had even been able to get out an actual word.
"Shut up." Nathan breathed into her hair while moaning. He continued roughly moving inside of her, each stroke applied more expertly and felt better than the next. Her hips rocked into his thrust for thrust as he slammed into her against the counter harder, faster, rougher each time. The back of her head hit the cupboard door above her but she didn't seem to mind or notice. It was a good thing she wasn't fragile.
She cried out raking her nails down his back and he hissed once again, causing her to smile. He was close now and so was she. She might not have liked the circumstances, but God he was good. With one last thrust they both cried out in pleasure. Her core tingled as sensational pleasure rushed through both of their sweat-covered bodies. She unwrapped her legs from around his waist and his slipped out of her. They were both panting and breathless, chests heaving. Her arms still rest around his neck and she went to rest her head on his shoulder. He immediately backed away as if she had burned him with her gentle touch. He pulled his pants up and began getting dressed.
"No cuddling. That's not what this is." Nathan warned.
"Then what is it exactly?" Rachel asked curiously.
"Sex., meaningless sex, and nothing more. We've discussed this." Nathan huffed barely slurring his speech, which was amazing considering the amount of alcohol he had consumed. "You should call a cab." He added abruptly. Rachel nodded slowly slipping herself off of the counter.
"Nathan, you don't have to be like that. We're mature adults. I'm not expecting some kind of marriage proposal or any kind of relationship at all. We're friends and I worry about you. What you're doing to yourself isn't healthy Nathan…" Rachel explained with genuine concern.
"Save it." Nathan cut her off his jaw clenched. "I won't remember a word you said tomorrow anyway." He shrugged. She sighed with a nod, gathering the rest of her things and leaving him alone in his apartment.
She was worried about him, scared for him even. He had been grieving for a year now and things had just progressively gotten worse. Nathan Scott was spiraling downward and all she could do was helplessly watch him self-destruct.
A/N: Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed and please review! If you don't review then I will never update! Muhuhuhahaha! (I kid Sarah! LOL)