Spoilers: This takes place just after season four, but there are no spoilers. Brooke and Peyton didn't leave to go to California together. In fact, I'm not even sure they're friends. That's up to you.
Author's Note: I've been writing so much angst lately, I figured we could all use a good BH friendship fluffy little one-shot. It was mostly inspiration from the girls at the BH thread at fan-forum. Made this a lot easier and more fun to write. Let me just apologize in advance for it's.. well, you'll see. It's definitely not the best thing I've ever written. However, I'd like to dedicate this to Kristin (shehasnotime) who has a wonderful, angsty new story everyone should go check out right now, and who asked me for this and is writing me a little BL-something in return. She also came up with the title, and there's a little something in here that you requested and I tried to fit in. Hehe. Also to Britney, who helped me with the word scattered, and is just amazing all around. This is to all the Baley fans out there, who might actually (hopefully) enjoy this.
Stop Crying Your Heart Out
So yes, Haley was her best friend. But did that really mean she had to stick around for this? This was worse than the time she'd been forced to baby-sit her six year old cousin who insisted on calling her Brookie Cookie. At least that little brat hadn't spent the entire evening screaming bloody murder. Little James Lucas Scott however, was an entirely different story.
The baby, just barely three months old, closed its mouth for a moment, swallowing deeply and preparing itself for another loud wail. When it came, Brooke swore one of her eardrums had popped.
Haley looked utterly stumped as she flipped through one of the million baby books she and Nathan had purchased - obsessive parents they were - in search of a clue on how to make this madness stop.
Brooke suddenly found herself regretting suggesting this little get-together. It had, at the time, seemed like a good way to spend quality time with her little Tutor Mom. Instead, it had turned into something close to the Holocaust. Or maybe what would happen if she had died and gone to Hell.
It was just the three of them in Nathan and Haley's newly restored apartment that they'd moved back into just a couple weeks before. Boxes still littered the ground and Brooke felt as if they were closing in on her slowly but surely.
The baby let loose another wild one, and she bit her thumb, standing. "Well, it seems like you've got everything under control here, so I'll just.."
"Brooke!" Haley's eyes were wide with fear. "You can't leave me!" It came out as something close to a squeak, and Brooke realized she'd never heard her friend sound so, well, scattered. Un-Haley like. Haley was actually reminding her of herself which was a really scary thought.
"I just," She looked desperately back over to the baby, who was certainly making this a much easier decision for her. "I wouldn't have ever agreed to come over if I'd known you'd given birth to Satan!"
Her friend chuckled now. "Oh come on. Don't call it that."
"You just called him it!" Brooke exclaimed, pointing towards Haley with a grin.
"Of course I didn't," Haley scoffed. "I called him a him."
"Yeah, no you didn't. You said, 'Don't call it that'."
"Brooke, don't be ridiculous."
Satan decided to take this moment as the chance to raise his voice even louder. She swore, one more octave and the windows and mirrors would start shattering. Which was probably a good thing, considering it'd make her getaway considerably easier.
"God," She yelled, pressing her hands to her ears. "Why do I have to stay, Haley? I'm not going to be any help!"
"Please," Haley spoke seriously, desperately. "You're my best friend. I need you."
It was something that she'd never heard Haley utter before. In fact, the shorter, lighter-haired girl had never referred to Brooke as her best friend before. Sure, it was implied on numerous occasions. After all, they'd lived together and Brooke had been her maid-of-honor. That all counted for a lot. But this, this, meant much more.
"Well, I'm only staying because you called me your best friend, I hope you know." She plopped back down on the couch beside Haley, who in return threw her arms tightly around Brooke, murmuring thanks and compliments as she did. Brooke suspected that this was really just to anchor her to the sofa, but she allowed herself to enjoy all the doting nonetheless.
"Haley, seriously though, we've gotta shut that thing up once and for all."
"Once and for all?" Tutor Wife looked confused as her eyes landed on the crib a mere ten feet away - Brooke didn't think even a million would be enough - and Brooke had a feeling the girl was just playing dumb.
"Well," She said mischievously. "Let's just say I wouldn't ask any questions if he went missing."
"Brooke! I'm not going to kill my baby-"
"Okay, did I ever say kill?" She put her finger to her lips, gesturing towards the windows, where neighbors could easily be listening.
"It was definitely implied." Haley accused, looking slightly upset now. And so yeah, Brooke had kind of suggested that she kill the baby, but honestly, she'd never heard screams so loud. It was either the baby or herself, at this point.
"Sorry, I'm sorry," She shook her head. "I think I've just lost it a little. The baby is screaming so loud that brain cells are actually leaving my brain so that they don't have to deal with this."
It occurred to her then that Haley didn't seem to be hating this as much as her. It was almost as if she didn't realize quite how loud James was screaming. Squinting, Brooke quickly reached forward before Haley could stop her, pushing her hair behind her ears and revealing - collective gasp, here - earplugs!
"Are you kidding!?"
Haley winced. "Yeah, this looks bad. But Brooke! I can't take it, I mean-"
"No way, missy. If I'm suffering, you're suffering with me. Take those guys out." Haley complied only reluctantly, standing to approach the sobbing child in the crib.
"Come on, sweetie. Why are you doing this? You've been so great until now.."
It was true. Until this very day, James had been possibly the best behaved child on Planet Earth. In fact, when Brooke had first arrived, she and Haley had managed to enjoy themselves for over an hour. Then Mariah Carey over there had suddenly thrown a fit. Haley had tried everything - feeding, rocking, attempting to amuse - needless to say, nothing had worked. And it was clear Haley wasn't used to this.
"Aw baby," she cooed. "I don't like seeing you cry. Mama doesn't like seeing you cry. Come on, Jamie, cheer up."
It was sweet, and yet the baby did not stop even for a moment to consider his poor mother's pleadings.
"I don't understand what he's so upset about anyway," Brooke rolled her eyes. "I mean, he's a baby! He has no problems. Everything is fun and new and exciting and there are no love triangles or crazy psychos. I mean, his biggest problem is, 'Well, should I look left or right?' Left or right! Simple.."
"Right. You know, Brooke, I've read it's very frustrating to be a baby. He can hardly move. He can hardly lift his own head! Everything must be really scary, too." She held her shrieking child close, the true picture of a perfect mom.
"You're defending Lord Voldemort?" She exclaimed in disbelief.
"Yeah, I just referred to him as the evil villain in Harry Potter that attempts to take over the magical and muggle worlds alike. Maybe I should go, then.."
"Nice try," Haley smiled her trademark smile that said, 'I-will-get-my-way-and-you-know-it', "but you're staying."
The baby had ceased crying for a mere ten minutes of the evening, when it had opted to instead sleep. As soon as the little guy had woken up, Brooke and Haley had momentarily cooed over him. The second he'd seen the two women, the baby opened his mouth, and Brooke knew what was coming before she even heard it.
So now, Haley was attempting to rock the baby back and forth again and Brooke was rummaging through the cupboards, looking for hopefully some really strong Vodka.
She managed to find some hidden at the bottom of one of the drawers - which instantly had her worrying about either Nathan or Haley's secret drinking problems until she'd remembered James - and had brought the entire bottle with her back to the sofa.
"Want some?" She asked Haley, before taking a sip herself.
"Brooke, no drinking in front of the baby!"
"Okay, you're being a wee bit paranoid, Hales. He's not going to become an alcoholic because there's alcohol in the room. Speaking of though, are you one?"
"Well, then why do you have alcohol?" She challenged, one brow quirked.
"I don't - special occasions, I guess? Does it matter?"
"I guess not, seeing as how after tonight I'll never put down a bottle of alcohol ever again in order to cover up the constant ringing in my ears."
"It's not that bad." Haley frowned as the baby spit up a bit, and ceased swinging him around so quickly.
"Haley, I swear if you're wearing earplugs again, I'll-"
The young mother rolled her eyes. "I learned my lesson the last time, trust me."
Brooke sighed, putting the cap on the Vodka bottle and setting it down on the floor. She had really lost her liking for alcohol over the past couple of years. What with DW-not I and the fact that most of her friends - especially Haley - didn't really enjoy it anymore either. She saw it as kind of juvenile now. Sure, she enjoyed the occasional drink. But drinking because the baby was being obnoxious wasn't really working for her right now.
"Do you guys have any food?"
"Haven't been shopping since we've moved in."
"Great. So all you have is Vodka and baby formula. We really are going to die."
"How about take-out?"
"Uh, do you have money?"
".. I was hoping you might.."
"I'm as broke as a joke. Hah! That rhymed. Get it?.. Wait, that's been said before.."
The two girls exchanged looks.
Haley shrugged helplessly. "Look, Nathan usually brings food home. When he gets back.. Well, I'm sure we'll manage until then."
"Speak for yourself." Brooke grumbled, and her stomach did too shortly after.
"I'm really sorry, Brooke." Haley did look as if she felt pretty bad. And honestly, Brooke felt worse. The poor girl looked tiny and famished, and there were bags under her eyes, indicating that she clearly hadn't been getting much sleep lately. Not to mention the fact that there was a very loud baby in her arms.
"It's okay. It's not your fault. Do you want me to hold him for a while?"
Haley seemed to collapse with relief. "Really? You don't mind?"
She did. She really did. At least while the thing was screaming like- "Sure, babe. I got it."
The two managed to make the exchange pretty easily, and Brooke tried unsuccessfully to bounce the baby until it would stop crying. But since the kid's own mother couldn't shut it up, she doubted she could.
"You know," Brooke said softly. "If you weren't crying so freakin' loud, you'd actually be pretty cute. Yeah. With your dark hair and blue eyes. Man, you're going to have all the girls after you.."
The baby did not blink, its voice did not falter.
"Well, not when you're doing this. Girls don't like cry-babies."
"Calling him a cry-baby is probably not the way to get him to stop crying." Haley advised with an amused smile.
"Hey, it worked for Nathan."
Haley made a face of confusion, and Brooke suddenly realized that she and Haley had not grown up as friends, as she, Peyton, and Nathan had.
"Oh, right. Well when we were like, five, that kid had a severe crying problem. I mean like, anything could set him off. That's probably where this guy gets it from. Anyway, one day I was like, 'okay buddy, stop. No girl likes a cry-baby', because I mean, I've always known what girls want and it's definitely not that.. Although I definitely would have appreciated it more if Lucas had shown a bit more emotion during our-"
"Right. Focusing. I swear I have ADD. Anyway, so I tell Nathan that no girl likes a cry-baby, and I swear, like," she unsuccessfully tried to snap her fingers, but the baby in her arms made it impossible. "that, he stopped crying. I haven't seen him cry since, I don't think."
Haley smiled softly, clearly thinking of her beloved husband. "I miss him. I haven't seen him all day."
"Yeah, I don't. He's the reason this kid is bawling into my ear right now."
"You can set him down if you want, I guess."
"Oh, thank you, Jesus!"
Haley's eyes were closed, but she could distinctly - even over James' cries - hear chewing. Now, she knew for a fact that the apartment was empty of all food, so this was quite strange to her.
Slyly, she peered over at Brooke, who was reading one of Haley's very, very large parenting books. She saw a flash of brown enter Brooke's mouth, and she jumped up.
"Brooke," Hearing her name, Brooke gulped down what was in her mouth, lowering whatever she was eating behind the book. "Is that chocolate?"
Damnit. Brooke closed the book, turning away from Haley and inching several feet away. "Nope, no, no."
"I can't believe you!" Haley shot up. The girl was short, but she was quick. She was at Brooke's side in a second.
"Haley, it's for your own good!" Brooke shot back.
"Um, how exactly?"
"W-well, duh." As if it were obvious.
Brooke threw her arms up. "You're not supposed to eat chocolate when you're still breastfeeding. Every woman knows that!"
"That's not true!" Haley frowned.
"Sweetie, it really is. I'm sorry, but by eating this myself, I'm saving your baby's life."
"Give me some chocolate!"
Brooke pouted. "Well, not when you ask so meanly.."
With a heavy sigh, Brooke handed the bar of chocolate over to her friend. "And you say you're not hormonal anymore."
They were both laying on the couch now. Brooke's head on one side of the couch, with Haley's on the other. The baby still hadn't stopped screaming. You'd think the kid's vocal chords would have given up on him by now, but nope. He was going strong. Brooke had to give him credit for being consistent at least.
"You know, if you think about it," Brooke began philosophically. "This is all your fault."
"What!" Shrieked Haley from the other end of the couch.
"Well, if someone had just waited until after high school like every other normal person, we wouldn't be here right now, would we?"
"I'm actually kind of glad we're here right now." Came the reply.
"Really? But it's so loud."
Haley giggled, nudging her friend slightly. "Yeah, but I'm really happy. With Nathan and with the baby. Despite his behavior tonight. And I've got a pretty great best friend, too."
"Well that you certainly do."
They were silent for a few minutes, even though the room was still as loud as could possibly be. It was hard to think with James yelling at the top of his lungs, but Brooke managed to do it.
"It's actually Nathan's fault."
"No seriously. If he'd never gone after you in the first place to mess with Lucas, we would definitely not be here right now."
"Well, thanks for reminding me why he went after me.." Haley added dryly.
"Could I sue him? For like, loss of hearing or something? Or would that require money…"
"I don't think you'd have that good of a case. Plus, I think if anyone's to blame," she continued, now joining in on Brooke's little game, "it would be Lucas."
"If he had never joined the basketball team, Nathan would have never felt threatened and would have henceforth never asked me to tutor him."
"Urgh," Brooke agreed with a roll of her eyes. "Everything is Lucas' fault."
Haley laughed. "Well, let's just say that and call it even."
"Yeah, but seriously.."
"It actually kind of sounds like he's singing now." Brooke said suddenly, realizing that James' screams sounded somewhat like 'Mary Had a Little Lamb', or were at least in tune with the song.
Haley burst out laughing. "What, are you high?"
"Probably. I've popped like twelve aspirins since I've been here."
"Brooke!" She shot up, her cinnamon colored hair sticking out in every which way due to the position she'd been laying in. "That's so dangerous!"
"Well," As she tried to think of an answer, she stalled with a drawn-out version of this word. "I was going to die from the sound of him. Honestly. I was beginning to hear the screams of murder victims in there somewhere. I mean, I'll probably be haunted for the rest of my life already!"
"Wonder where I get that from," Brooke frowned. "Really, though. I'm feeling.. Oh God, Haley. I feel-" She cut herself off, wrapping her slim fingers around her own throat.
Haley shrieked, jumping on top of her friend, preparing to give any form of CPR if she needed to. Brooke however had by now burst into laughter, shoving Haley off of her playfully.
"Aw, lighten up. I was just trying to have some fun."
"Fun? Fun! Let me tell you something.."
Great. Now look what she'd created.
Brooke bit her lip, unable to resist herself.
"So," she began, "when's Nathan getting a haircut?"
"What?" Haley was still a little upset about Brooke's little pretending-to-die joke, so she was kind of treading on thin ice anyway. Brooke was pretty lucky that she didn't usually hold anything she had to say back. Or perhaps not so lucky..
"I mean, it's just getting a little long, don't you think?"
"It's fine!" Haley snapped.
"Oh, well, okay.."
She could hear her friend breathing heavily, and she had to stop herself from laughing because she knew - knew by the way Haley was twitching, that Haley had something else to say.
She counted silently in her head.
"God, it's terrible! Don't you think? I'm thinking I might just cut it while he's sleeping."
"Ooh, that's risky business right there, friend," Brooke sat up higher so she could yell a little louder, as the baby's voice had slowly increased since they'd started talking again. "What if you cut it unevenly?"
"Well, if I cut it unevenly, he'll just have to get even more cut off, won't he?" Haley said with what Brooke could tell was a slightly mischievous grin. Her little Tutor Girl was all grown up!
"I thought so too."
"He's usually so awesome. I'm surprised he's let it get this bad. I never though Nathan Scott would actually have a bad haircut."
Haley shook her head. "You know, I blame myself.."
"Oh Haley, don't do this to yourself."
"I just can't handle this anymore.." And she was sure she heard a sob.
"Sweetie," She managed to swivel herself around so that her head was right beside Haley's. "You were pregnant. You had your own issues. You couldn't focus on cutting his hair.."
"You're right, Brooke. I know, I know.."
"You know, I've always thought of you as like a little sister."
Haley blinked at her. The moment seemed to pass. "But I'm older than you."
Brooke cleared her throat, annoyed. Haley seemed to secede. "Well," she said after a moment. "You are an old soul.."
"I am, aren't I?" The dimpled brunette acknowledged with a grin.
Haley swallowed and forced a smile and nod. "…Yep.."
"Anyway, as I was saying.."
"I've always thought of you as a younger sister. Someone I need to protect and be there for no matter what. As a part of my family."
Still slightly hormonal from the pregnancy, Haley's eyes began to mist. "Oh, Brooke.."
"So, with that being said," Brooke took a deep breath. "I will cut Nathan's hair for you."
"You are the bestest friend ever!" Haley threw herself at her friend, sending them both tumbling off the couch with a loud thump. The baby paused for a moment in interest, but the quiet was short-lived.
"Not to brag, but I really am.."
Haley giggled, kissing her friend on the tip of the nose. As she pulled away, a thought struck her, and she sat up rather quickly, giving herself a tiny head rush.
"I know what will shut it up!"
Brooke frowned. "There you go. You just called him an it again."
"No, I didn't." Haley spoke firmly, already getting to her feet.
"Whatever. Just please do it. Whatever it is, do it."
Haley grinned and left the room, and Brooke watched after her, an eyebrow arched in confusion.
"If you're solution is leaving, I hate you! You know I can't get up right now!"
Brooke's eyes were squeezed shut.
It took her about a minute to realize that she heard nothing anymore. There was not a sound in the universe. It was like, everything had gone-
"Oh no. I've gone deaf, haven't I?" Well, she'd heard herself, so that definitely wasn't the case. Unless she'd spoken inside her head.. It was hard to tell. The silence had really thrown her off.
"Brooke, he's- he's not crying." Haley's eyes were wide, her jaw to the ground like a child seeing a McDonalds for the first time.
Brooke forced herself to her feet, moving beside Haley. She cocked her head to the side as she examined the creature laying beside James, who was touching it with interest, using his tiny hands to run his fingers over the soft, brown body.
"What is that?"
"That," Haley said proudly, "is Mr. Waffles."
"Ah, so that's the guy that's always got you smiling.." Brooke teased, and Haley nudged her playfully.
"Hey, thanks for taking care of him with me tonight."
"Wouldn't have missed it for the world. Well, actually that's a lie. But I had fun too." They both laughed, now enjoying the site of the young child who had just moments ago been a hazardous to their health demon.
Just then, the door opened, and Nathan was standing before them holding two large bags that had clearly come from Karen's Café. Haley gasped. "My hero,"
He approached his wife with a smile, pressing his lips gently to hers. She almost instantly tore the bags from his hands, taking off towards their small, open kitchen.
"So you were really after the food." He pretended to be hurt but then shook his head, peering into the crib.
"Aw, look at my good boy. How was he?"
Brooke and Haley exchanged looks.
Brooke said, "Nothing we couldn't handle."
Haley choked on a breadstick.
Nathan's eyes widened as he saw what Baby James was holding in his little fingers. "You gave him Mr. Waffles?" He asked in surprise.
His wife laughed nervously. "He's borrowing it. He's - no, I couldn't give Mr. Waffles up."
"Right." The man smiled, turning to face Brooke and mouthing, 'insane'.
Brooke laughed, looking at the small family of three that she decided she loved more than anyone else on the planet. She walked towards the kitchen where Haley was devouring everything Nathan had brought home.
She leaned close to her friend's ear, whispering. "Just slip the key under the mat. I'll be back at probably around three this morning. So do not come out to investigate a strange noise, and make sure Nathan sleeps through it."
Haley nodded her head vigorously, her mouth filled with salad.
"Poor guy," her friend said as they watched Nathan play with the baby. "Has no idea what's coming to him."
"It's for the better." Haley managed, mouth full.
"Seriously. I'll bring an electric razor, because I have a feeling this is going to be quite a job."
"Brooke," Nathan looked up, frowning. "Did you just say electric razor?"
"No, no, no, of course not," Brooke stuttered. "Well, I said I could really use an electric razor."
"Oh, like a scooter?"
"Oh," He smiled, and both girls exchanged a look.
"Phase one completed." Brooke winked.
Haley felt a rush of love for her best friend run through her. It wasn't just anyone that would spend all night watching a seemingly possessed baby with you, and then come back later to shave all your husband's hair off.
This was true friendship.