Title: Reflections of Things That Never Were
Rating: T – but more for later I guess!
Disclaimer: Nothing but the plot is mine
Summary: Haley Scott never let herself dream of a life uotside of Tree Hill. Nathan Scott never dreamt of staying. Happily married there's still sometihng missing from both their lives. Is it something they can give each other, and is their love strong enough to survive it if they can't?
Authors Notes: I probably shouldn't start a new story. But none the less here it is! I was going to work on a fluff idea after the fun I had writing Two More Weeks but this wouldn't stop niggling at me. I hope you like it! Italics are flashback. Backstory should clear up as it goes along!
OneAs far as Haley Scott was concerned, the only reason she was the one to marry her husband was because they were both left behind in the small North Carolina town of Tree Hill. His dreams dashed out from underneath him, her never confident enough to pursue her own. He didn't remember her from high school. The few encounters they'd shared, the ones that had been burned in her brain from when she was a fifteen year old tutor dreaming that one day the basketball star would notice her, were lost on him. The times she'd brought it up he shrugged, claiming he was a different person then.
When they'd first slept together, three months after he'd walked into the same cafe she'd worked in for the past 8years of her life and asked her to go for dinner with him, it had been under the stars on a flat weathered rock on the beach. He'd stared shocked at the bright red streak that marked the grey, astonished to discover at 22 she was still a virgin. He'd been angry with her at first, claiming if he'd known it would of been different, it would have been of perfect. To her it was perfect, everything with him was. She knew he didn't feel the same though, and she lived in fear that one day, someone would come back to the town. It'd no longer be the two of them, and they'd take her perfect life away from her.
"You can go now if you'd like, Haley." Karen smiled at the girl she'd grown to think of as a daughter as she watched her stare out of the window of the nearly deserted café. "I doubt anyone will be braving the storm to come in and you've been here all day."
"Oh, thanks Karen. But I may as well stick around. Nathan's going to come by and get me after work. He doesn't want me driving in this weather. He's so over-protective."
"He loves you." The older woman smiled, knowing it was true. Her nephew was a completely different person since he'd met and fell for Haley James – now Scott. Never would she of imagined the petite girl who'd nervously chattered her way into a job nearly 10years before would be the one to tame him. If she'd known, she'd never of waited years to introduce the pair.
"I know." Haley responded, and she did. She knew he loved her, as much as he could, but she also knew he'd never love her in the way she loved him. She'd read an article once on how no couple are equally in love. One person is always more in love, more willing to sacrifice for the other. She'd asked Nathan if he thought this was true and he'd laughed saying they were both as stubborn as each other, and then asked her to turn off the light. As she'd laid there in the darkness, the fact that he didn't dispute it lay with her.
"You should call him. Maybe Dan would let him leave early. If people aren't venturing out for food, I'd bet they're not coming out to buy cars either."
"I doubt it, but yeah, I'll call if you don't mind." They shared a smile as Haley walked into the back.
"Well my nephew, the superstar, you grace us with your presence." Haley watched as Karen walked over to where Nathan had just hobbled through the door on crutches, hugging him quickly before guiding him to sit down. Trying not to draw attention, Haley moved so she was cleaning a table closer to them. That's what happened when you didn't leave the town you grew up in, things like childhood crushes on the captain of the basketball team never go away; especially when said captain looked like that.
"Superstar I ain't, Aunt Karen." Nathan responded, motioning to his knee.
"Oh be quiet you, you're going to heal fine and you'll be back playing before you know it."
"Whatever you say." His darkened tone didn't escape Haley before it quickly disappeared and was replaced by a happier one as he asked after his Uncle and cousins.
"Oh Haley!" Haley looked up, hoping she hadn't been caught in her eavesdropping. "You remember Nathan?"
"Um vaguely." She could feel her cheeks flushing as she looked up shyly from underneath her bangs and smiled at the young man in question. "Hi."
"Hi." He smirked at her and she felt her knees go weak. Taking a deep breath she chastised herself for it. "Haley was it?"
"Yep. Did you want me to get you guys something?" She turned toward Karen, feeling herself shake under his gaze.
"Oh, no honey, I just wanted to introduce you guys properly."
"Oh okay, well I'm going to get back to work then. It was nice meeting you again Nathan."
"I've met her before? Where?" She heard Nathan ask when he presumed she was out of ear shot. She wasn't sure whether to be upset he didn't remember her, or giddy at the fact he'd asked.
"You went to school with her."
"Really?" This surprised Nathan, he didn't think she could be any older than eighteen.
"Yes, and she worked here all through high school. Oh Nathan you do live in a bubble."
He watched the petite honey blonde smile at an elderly couple in the corner, she poured them coffee and laughed openly at something they'd said. Throwing her head back and laughing, really laughing, from deep in her belly, the melodic sound carrying across the café. He didn't think he'd ever seen something so free. It was a stark contrast to how he viewed this town, he felt completely suffocated the moment he crossed the state line.
"I don't remember her."
"That's a shame, she's a lovely girl. Wouldn't do you any harm to associate with someone like that." Karen nudged as she watched her nephew fixate on the girl. "A pretty little thing don't you think?"
"Sure." He hadn't really paid much attention he had to admit. He was used to attractive girls throwing themselves at him. Gorgeous people were just a way of life to him these days, but he looked now it was pointed out to him and he had to agree. She was tiny, but from what he could tell from her jeans and t-shirt combo she was far from a stick, she might not be instantly striking, but the more he looked the prettier she seemed, in fact she was starting to verge on beautiful.
"I'll be back." Karen promised, standing up when a new group of people walked into the café and she went over to take their order.
"You seem busy." Haley stopped, a little startled when Nathan spoke to her as she walked past; shaking her head a little at the girlish butterflies that started up in her stomach. She felt like she was back in high school again.
"No more so than usual." She answered, cleaning up the table next to him to avoid meeting his piercing gaze.
"Karen tells me we went to school together?"
"I was a couple of grades below you and your brother." She nodded.
"You remember me then?" That cocky smirk graced his lips and she giggled, pushing a strand of hair behind her ear.
"You were Nathan Scott, how could I not."
"I'm still Nathan Scott." He laughed, confused.
"Well, yes, I mean…" She smiled sheepishly as she stumbled a little over her words "you were a bit of a legend at Tree Hill."
"They were all true you know." He grabbed onto her arm trying to coax her to sit down.
"What were?" She shook her head at his silent invitation, continuing to clean around him.
"The rumours." His voice went a little deeper and Haley stopped to ask herself if he was flirting with her, only entertaining the possibility for a second.
"Well, for both our sakes, I hope that's not true." She laughed and he smiled, there was definitely something about that laugh. "And that's not quite what I meant. I just meant you were the basketball star, the king of Tree Hill High, at least during my time there. Even after you'd left nobody seemed to live up to the shadow of Nathan Scott."
"For the school or for you?"
"The school." She bit out with an eye roll, suddenly that famous smirk she'd found endearing grated on her a little. She motioned to the tub of dishes. "I need to take these back. Do you need anything?"
"Some pie would be good."
"I'll bring it over in a minute. Or I could send it with Karen."
"I'd prefer you did." And damn the thing was endearing again.
"Okay." She smiled at him before turning and placing walking into the back.
"What were you and Nathan talking about?"
Haley jumped at the sound of Karen's voice, she'd been replaying their conversation in her mind.
"Oh, um, nothing; just high school really. He wanted pie."
"I'll take it to him."
"Oh no I'll…um." She trailed off, blushing and giving Karen an embarrassed smile at how eagerly she'd jumped to stop the older woman.
"He's an attractive man, isn't he?"
"Don't be embarrassed honey. You certainly won't be the first to agree with that statement."
"Well, of course he is, he was, but..."
"But, I'd better take him his pie and start serving coffee again before we lose all our customers."
"Yes, you get back out there to Nathan."
"Karen." Haley warned, but brunette just laughed in response.
"I mean, get back to your job young lady!"
"I thought you'd run away." Nathan spoke up as Haley put a plate down in front of him and poured a cup of coffee.
"You're not my only customer."
"But I'm your favourite."
"I don't even know you."
"Maybe so, but you didn't deny it." Haley held his gaze for a minute before shaking her head. It was becoming harder to convince herself he wasn't flirting.
"Excuse me, Miss!" A voice rang from behind her and she blinked before turning away. Signalling to the customer she'd be with them in a moment.
"Enjoy your pie."
"I'm sure I will."
"Okay then." She laughed, a little uncomfortably, under his scrutiny, before turning and walking across the room and tending to the other patrons. She walked around exchanging the odd words with him as she passed his way. Both grateful and annoyed at the sudden influx of people entering the café and stopping her from speaking to him more.
"Haley, you can take your break now if you want." Haley nodded at Karen's suggestion and started moving to the back of the café, clearings as she went.
"Are you leaving?" She asked as she passed Nathan who was reaching for his crutch.
"I was going to, but if you're going on your break maybe I could keep you company."
"Oh, you don't have to! Busy as this place is I'll probably be called back in at any moment. You don't have to stay on my account I'd hate to keep from anything."
"You're not keeping me from anything, Haley. What is there to keep me from in Tree Hill? What would you say if I told you I wanted to sit and talk to a pretty girl for an hour?"
"I'd ask who you were planning on talking to." She flushed pink and he was surprised at how appealing he found it.
"I want to." He assured her.
"I'd ask you why, but I get the impression you don't enjoy that question."
"Not much. Do what you do, because you want. That's my motto."
"Must be nice."
"Not worrying about other people."
"Well, I never said that. Now, I'd be a gentleman and pull out a chair for you but at this point I think you're a bit more agile than I am, so come on. Sit down. I promise I won't bite."
"And I thought you said all the rumours were true. I'll be back." She promised before walking back to the kitchen and dropping the dirty dishes and her apron on the back counter, unable to stop herself fussing with her appearance in the small mirror that hung on the back of the door before she walked back onto the café floor. The one lunch break, turned into more of the same, he'd come by around midday, and sit with her while she ate her lunch. She tried to question him on why he'd waste his time talking to her, and he'd responded that he just needed to get out of the house; she was just a happy bonus. Two weeks of shared lunches, and he asked her to share a dinner.
"Dan Scott Motors, Nathan Scott speaking."
"Hey Hales." She smiled at the relaxed sigh that was audible when he realised it was her on the line.
"Selling any cars today?"
"In this weather?" He laughed, and she smiled; God she loved it when he laughed.
"Well that's what I figured. They're not coming to buy food either. Karen's offered me the rest of the day off. Any chance my favourite father in law would do the same?"
"I doubt it."
She sighed, twisting the phone cord around her finger. "Yeah I figured. Could you ask?"
"I could…if he were here."
"So just leave." He could hear the glint in her eye she always got when she was doing something that could be deemed somewhat wrong.
"I can't just leave."
"And why not? You've been working so hard lately I feel like I never get to spend any real time with you. An afternoon where we both have nothing to do? Sounds like heaven to me."
"Me too, baby, but we do have things to do. Or at least I do, and you working the next few hours would come in handy pay day."
"I guess, I just feel bad taking money when there's not going to be any work to do."
"You're telling me to leave work I have, but you feel bad for taking money for hours you were supposed to work anyway."
"Karen's nicer than your dad." She pointed out, and they both laughed in agreement.
"This is true. I'm sorry Haley. If I could I would, but it's just not going to happen today. I'll pick you up in a few hours."
"Okay. I'm sorry I bothered you." Her hurt tone came across a little snippy on his end.
"Don't be like that, Hales."
"Be like what? I'm disappointed Nathan that's all. I think I'm entitled."
"I am too."
"Really? Cause you didn't exactly try hard!"
"Dad's not here to ask! Even if he was you know him well enough to know he wouldn't let me, and the hassle of asking wouldn't be worth it."
"He's not the devil, Nathan! Glad to know the possibility of an afternoon with your wife isn't worth the hassle!" She hung up the phone and grabbed a mop next to her and began ferociously cleaning the floor.
"Woah! Is it safe to come back there or will I be attacked with a cleaning instruments?" Karen joked as she stood in the doorway watching Haley move the mop over the floor.
"Well, I should be saying it to Nathan but he's not here so I figured you'd do for now."
"I take it he's not coming to pick you up?"
"He has to work. Oh Karen, I just hung up the phone on him because he has to work. I'm the worst wife in the world." She sat down a chair and held her head in her hands.
"Oh now don't talk such rubbish." Karen stroked a hand up and down Haley's back trying to soothe the younger woman.
"I have no idea what's wrong with me." Haley swiped at the tears that were welling there. "I must be all PMS or something."
"What about the 'or something'?"
"What?" Haley looked up confused, even more so when Karen smiled expectantly at her.
"Oh, no, I mean I can't be."
"Haley you're a married woman, I'm sure the possibility is there."
"Well, I mean of course I could be. But I'm not. I've not skipped a period or anything, and I'm like OCD about taking my pill."
"I didn't mean to freak you out hon. It's just you've been a bit on edge lately, and I know when I was pregnant I was constantly screaming at Keith for no reason."
"I'm just missing Nathan. He seems to be working all hours god sends these days. We rarely eat dinner together, some days I'm not even awake when he gets in, especially if I've worked the opening shift. Then those days when I am, he's too tired to hold any kind of conversation. I thought the first year we were married we'd spend all our time together, and now… I'm so sorry Karen, if my stress at that has been carried over into my work."
"Oh don't you be silly. We both know my concern has nothing to do with your work, Haley. And don't you worry about Nathan. I can guarantee you he'd much prefer to be at home with you than at work with his father. You're just over thinking things sweetie. Things will go back to normal before you know it. I've never seen a couple more content with just being with each other than the two of you."
"I hope you're right."
"I generally am."
"I think I should call my husband."
"I think that'd be a good idea." Karen smiled sympathetically at Haley before walking out of the room.
"Dan Scott Mo…"
"I'm sorry, I love you." Haley rushed out before Nathan could finish his greeting.
"I love you too." He smiled; he'd be staring at the phone since she'd hung up at him.
"I'm a horrible person; a completely useless wife."
"You are not. You're the best wife. I'm your husband, how could you not be?" He leaned back in his chair placing his feet up on the desk before him. "Listen, when dad comes in I'm going to ask him…"
"No, you don't have to. You're right. We need the money, and if you have work to do, you have work to do. I'd just let myself get carried away with the idea of having an afternoon to ourselves."
"Seeing as I won't be making any sales this afternoon I doubt I'll have any reason to stay any later tonight, so why don't we go out for dinner?"
"In this weather?" She laughed at the thought as she watched puddles splashing up as a fresh downpour hit. "I'll cook. But maybe we could just eat together, like actually at the table. Talk a little."
"I think so too."
"Just because there's no customers doesn't mean there's no work, Son." Dan Scott's voice boomed as he walked into Nathan's office, and Nathan immediately removed his feet from the desk.
"I've got to go Hales, I'll see you soon."
"Talking to the little woman when you should be working?"
"Well unlike you, I don't use work to escape my wife." Nathan sneered back in response as he hung up the phone, silently sending a prayer that Haley had hung up before Dan's condescending statement had been spoken.
"Apparently you don't use it to actually do work either."
"It was a two minute phone call, Dad, lay off. We haven't had anybody come in to buy a car in this ridiculous weather, and I'm working my way through these papers. I'll stay an extra two minutes tonight if you really want."
"Oh you'll be staying longer than that."
"Jesus dad we weren't having phone sex! It was a two minute conversation. You can check the phone records."
"As much as I enjoy that insight into your personal life Nathan, and I have to say I never would of pegged Haley for the type-" Nathan's eyes darkened with anger at the mention of his father thinking of Haley in away other than just his daughter in law, and Dan laughed at the possessive stance his son took. "-I meant that I'm changing the cars in the show room."
"And that involves staying behind how?"
"I need you to supervise."
"Supervise yourself, I have plans with my wife."
"I'm fed up of telling her to understand! I'm going to finish my paperwork, and then I'm going home. We won't be getting any customers today."
"I'm your boss Nathan, and you'll do what I say. When you agreed to take this job you said you didn't want any special treatment. Well you're not getting any. You chose this life for yourself, you need to live it."
"It was hardly a choice, Dad."
"Well, maybe if you'd spent more time with those physical therapists, and less time pursuing that girl we'd be having a very different conversation now."
"That girl – is my wife. And she has nothing to do with this."
"I know she's your wife. I like Haley, I do. I just don't think she realises how much you gave up for her."
"I didn't give up anything for Haley. Your damn specialists screwed up their job before I even met her. I'd appreciate if you stopped saying otherwise, 'cause I swear if she ever hears anything you'll pay. You know what, screw the damn paper work. I'm going to pick up my wife. I'll see you tomorrow Dad."
"Hello?" Nathan called, pushing his way out of the rain and into the café.
"Hi!" Haley looked up shocked from where she'd been sat at the counter reading over a magazine. Jumping up she wrapped her arms around his waist laying her head against his chest. She laughed seconds later pushing away from him and wiping at the dampness of her cheek. "Ew you're all wet."
"Yes, rain does that Hales. I thought you were supposed to the smart one."
"Hush you. I am the smart one!" She stood on her tiptoes kissing him lightly before turning back round to cleaning up her things. "I thought you couldn't come till later?"
"I decided you were worth the hassle."
She shook her head grinning before sending him a beaming smile. "Do you have like a perfect husband handbook or something?"
"Not hardly." He snorted. "Can you go now?"
"So you come up with all those little perfect lines on your own huh?"
"Well, maybe you are the smart one mister. Let me just get my purse."
As he watched her walk around the café grabbing her things and call goodbye to Karen, he was hit by a familiar uncomfortable sensation that came from how freely happy she was around him. It had been one of things that attracted him to her in the first place, but lately the fact that it was so easy for him to make her happy, that he had that kind of power over her, was starting to unnerve him.
"Are you okay?" She took in the pensive look on his face in concern.
"I'm fine, Hales." He forced himself to smile at her, helping her into her coat and placing his hand on the base of her spine, guiding her out of the door as he called goodbye to his aunt. "Just had a run in with Dad."
"I'm sorry. You shouldn't have asked him about coming. I don't want you two fighting…"
"We'd argue anyway. Don't worry about it, I wanted to. Come on." He held his jacket open for her to duck under in shield from the rain as they quickly made their way to the car.
They sat in mostly comfortable silence, exchanging the odd words about their day during the short drive home.
"I can't believe how soaked we got just walking up our driveway!" Haley laughed, shaking her hair out as she walked through the door and into the house; quickly running in toward the linen closet and passing Nathan a towel.
"It's ridiculous." He watched concerned as her teeth chattered as she tried to dry her hair. "You should go have a bath or a hot shower. You're going to get sick." He pushed a wet tendril out of her hair smiling down at her. "I'll see if we've got anything for dinner."
"Or..." She started, her lower lip working its way into her teeth, a blush already creeping its way up her neck. A coy giggle escaping as she stroked a finger up his chest. "You could join me? After all, we can't have you getting sick either."
He smiled adoringly at her; although they had a decent sex life it was rare still that she initiated things other than late at night in their bedroom. Sex had been the furthest thing from his mind this afternoon. He actually had wanted to have dinner with her and just talk, and that was still what he wanted. He'd been lying though if he said hadn't presumed they'd end up in the bedroom. He watched her smile waiver, obviously he'd taken too long to reply, and he could see her about to backtrack and apologise. Before the words could leave her mouth he took the towel he'd been running over his hair and whipped it playfully across her bottom, before taking off up the stairs. "Race you."