Faded

by scarlet (superscar)

Nathan

He could feel the sun beating down on his face and snuggled further into his pillow. Pain spread down his arm and he grunted, opening his eyes. "Hales?" his voice cracked.

Nathan could only see the outline of a woman in the chair and he closed his eyes immediately to the light. There were footsteps and the drapes closed. A hand clasped his tightly and a Styrofoam cup touched his lips and he drank the water greedily.

"Nathan?"

"Thanks, Hales," he opened his eyes and frowned, "Oh, sorry, Brooke - where's Haley?"

Brooke sat back in the chair beside his bed heavily and Nathan started to notice he was in a hospital room. What happened? He stared at the IV in his hand, undoubtedly the cause of all the pain.

"Haley?" Brooke squeaked her name and Nathan was almost amused.

"Yeah. Haley. You know, my wife?" he held up his left hand and pointed to the gold band on his left finger.

"I-" Brooke swallowed, "I'll tell the doctor you're awake."

She ran through the door so quickly he was almost dizzy. Not that everything about Brooke hadn't made him dizzy in the past. What the hell had happened to him? He moved every body part carefully. Everything moved and nothing hurt - well, except his hand with the damn IV sticking out of it.

But how could he not remember coming to the hospital? He'd gone to bed, enjoyed some...lovely...attentions from his wife and then...nothing. He woke up here.

The door opened and a doctor in his mid-fifties walked through the door with a smile. "Hey, Nathan, I'm Dr. Waynes, how're you doing?"

"Ummm...good. I guess? What happened?"

"Tell me what you remember."

Nathan's heart started thudding at this question, "Have I been in a coma for years or something?"

The doctor chuckled, "I know that's an alarming question and no, you haven't been in a coma. You were sedated last night."

"So what's with the memory questions - are there things I don't remember?"

"Well, Nathan, that's what we're trying to determine."

"Okay...right, I remember getting married a couple weeks ago."

The doctor nodded, "Anything following?"

"Doc," Nathan smirked, "What usually follows a wedding?"

Waynes laughed, "Nothing wrong with your sense of humor. What's the date, Nathan?"

"Ummm, well, honestly, I have no idea - it's March, we just played in the state championships, that was on the...the 25th?"

"Of what year?"

Nathan's heart stopped, "2005?"

The doctor nodded and took notes on his chart.

"You're really freaking me out here, Doc...where's my wife?"

"She'll be in to see you in a bit, I just have a few more questions."

Nathan tried to settle back down into the bed, "Shoot."

"Do you feel any confusion? Any pain? Other than your present location and these questions?"

"This IV thing hurts like fuck and I have no idea how I got here - what do you mean confusion?"

"Are there any blurry memories?"

"No, but the fact that you keep coming back to memories is a concern."

The doctor sighed, "I'm not going to lie to you, Nathan. Your memory is missing a substantial chunk of time that concerns me."

"What happened? Was I in an accident? Or?" What was he missing? Where was Haley?

"The mind is still a mystery to us, even in neurology, but occasionally people have been known to blank out on traumatic events to protect themselves..."

"But my wife is fine? She's here? What about Lucas? What happened?"

"Calm down, Nathan, everybody you remember is perfectly fine."

He breathed. "Can I see Haley now?"

Dr. Waynes looked at him blankly, "Who?"

"Haley. You said she was outside?"

"Ahhh," he nodded, "If you'll excuse me a moment, Nathan."

XXX

Haley

The phone rang off the hook and Haley wanted to cry into her pillow. She'd only gotten home maybe 4 hours ago.

It kept ringing.

She gave up and grabbed the phone, "WHAT?"

"Haley?"

"Yeah," she yawned.

"It's Brooke."

Brooke... Her sleep-deprived mind tried to function and it finally hit her, "Brooke! Wow, it's been... Why are you calling so early?"

"Haley, I need you to come see us."

Haley frowned, "Brooke, what happened?"

"It's Nathan, Haley - he just...he can't remember anything past March of 2005."

"But that was -"

"Before your divorce. I know, Haley. He thinks you're still married."

XXX

Brooke

She hung up the phone and lay her head in her hands.

"Mrs. Scott?" Dr. Waynes approached her.

"I called his ex-wife, she's on her way."

"Your husband's condition is abnormal. There is nothing that explains it physically. Emotionally, a trauma such as you've experienced could easily explain why his mind would protect him, blocking out anything that reminded him of his pain."

Lucky, she couldn't help thinking, "How do we fix it?"

"He has to know that he is safe, emotionally. You have to be there for him as does - what was her name?"

"Haley," Brooke sighed. Why did everything always have to come back to Haley? "What do we have to do?"

"Take him to familiar places, talk to him - not about what he's missed but reconnect with him. And I would recommend he see a psychologist. This won't be solved with a cat scan."

"But you think he could make a full recovery?"

"There is no injury to prevent it, but psychological illnesses are sometimes even more complex than physical ones."

"What can I tell him?"

"You can answer his questions, but try to keep things positive."

Brooke rolled her eyes, "Great, so tell him...what, yes, we are married but not mention his divorce from Haley? He's not a dumbfuck."

"Mrs. Scott-"

"Sorry," she sighed, "It's been a bad couple months for me."

"I would also recommend counseling for yourself as well. Maybe as a couple?"

Brooke sighed, "He doesn't even remember us as a couple."

"Mrs. Scott, you have to believe that his memories will come back and you need to be there to help him deal with the harder ones."

She sat down and leaned back against the wall, out of energy to even cry.

XXX

Nathan

The doctor hadn't bothered to come back to see him and he was starting to increasingly freak out. He was missing chunks of time due to some sort of traumatic event.

What?

No one died, had he been caught in some kind of life or death situation? It seemed ridiculous, but who knew? Was he attacked? But if that was the case, why wasn't he injured?

The door opened and Brooke came in, smiling at him weakly.

"Brooke - what's going on? Where's Haley?"

Her smile faltered for a second, "She'll be coming in as soon as she can."

There was something fucked up about the entire situation, but he accepted it and tried to relax. "So, did they tell you? Lost a huge chunk of time, or something."

"Yeah," she nodded. "They told me."

"So how much was it? What's the date?"

"I- don't know..."

"If you're trying not to over stress the mental patient, I guarantee I'm already overstressed not knowing anything. It can't be that long ago, you look the same."

Brooke smiled, "You're not looking closely, but thanks."

"So? Just give me a year, that's it."

"2014."

His eyes bugged, "NINE years?"

"They've yet to really utilize the hovercraft," Brooke smiled, "Don't worry."

"Did I go pro?"

"Typical. Of all the questions. No, you didn't go pro."

"What do I do instead?"

"You're one of the world's best sports photographers."

"I didn't even know I had a camera..."

Brooke laughed, "Currently, you have...about 20, I think."

"Huh...well, what does Haley do?"

Brooke looked away, "She released her 5th album last month."

"Wow...I knew she could do it. You've seen her sing, right, is she as amazing as she was?"

"Yes," Brooke nodded.

"That's great...that's so great!" he leaned back against the pillows, "So what about you?"

"Oh, I put my brains to good use and went into modeling."

Nathan laughed, "Any publications I would know?"

"Nothing in playboy, if that's what you're asking."

"Don't worry, your time will come," he smiled and she laughed.

"I'm not listening to this," she plugged her ears and the glint of the massive diamond on her finger caught his eye.

"You're married?" he caught her hand and stared at the huge ass rock next to a simple, patterned wedding band, "How many carats is this thing - damn, Brooke."

"Two," she shrugged, "I feel my finger looks infinitely better with $30,000 on it, but that's just me."

Nathan smiled. It wasn't often that he really enjoyed Brooke's presence, but she'd matured, it seemed, had a sense of humor about herself and a natural grace that he'd never really noticed before. And apparently they were still friends, or why would she even be here when his own wife wasn't?

A nurse leaned into the room, "Mrs. Scott? You have a visitor."

Scott? Nathan frowned, who had she-

Lucas appeared at the door and it all clicked. Of course, they'd been a thing in high school too, it shouldn't be that much of a shock they'd get hitched at some point. Brooke got up from her chair and rushed into Lucas's arms.

Nathan felt instantly annoyed with his brother and he wasn't sure why. Was it because he got to be there with his wife, while Nathan's was MIA?

"Hey, Nate, how're you feeling?"

"Pretty good for someone who somehow forgot a third of their life."

Lucas winced, "That sucks, man, what's the treatment? You can get it back, right?"

"Who knows, my doctor didn't really tell me much of anything, I just get the impression he doesn't know. It's some kind of emotional trauma, but he won't even tell me what happened. Do you guys know?"

Brooke and Lucas exchanged uncomfortable looks.

"Right, but you can't tell me."

"Nathan-" Brooke tried to explain but he cut her off.

"Just send Haley in, would you?"

"Brooke," Lucas took her arm, "Let's get some coffee."

She nodded, "Okay."

XXX

Lucas

"So he doesn't remember you. Or at least, the current you."

Brooke shook her head, "No."

"And he thinks he's still married to Haley."

Her shoulders slumped, "Yeah."

"You can't tell him?"

"We're only supposed to tell him the happy stuff."

"Brooke, he's never been happier since you guys got together."

"Then why is Haley his like - happy safe place?" she made a face.

"I don't know, but I know he never regretted how things turned out."

"It's just so unfair, Luke," Brooke sighed, "It's like I can't get a break. I love him. I love him so much. At first we were like, just trying it out, casually dating and somehow he became my best friend and the center of my world. And that's gone for him. He just wants her again - fucking Haley - I cleaned up her shit once, I can't do that again!"

"He's been completely yours the last seven years, Brooke, she had him for one."

"But it's anyone's guess about the next seven," she muttered.

"Brooke, it's not like that chunk of time has been cut out - he knows, I know he knows, but if you could forget for awhile, and just give yourself a break, wouldn't you? Maybe he went back to 2005 because it's easy by comparison?"

She lay her head on the table and sighed, "I just want to know now, if I should put the effort in, Lucas. I'm tired."

"So just what - let him go?"

"It's what he wants, Lucas..."

Lucas shook his head, "I know you're barely in your right mind right now, so I'm going to ignore this defeatist attitude. The Brooke Davis I know fights for her man - and she wins."

"Davis-Scott," she mumbled.

"That's a start."

XXX

Haley

She walked into the hospital feeling completely out of place. A few people looked at her oddly, but she got that a lot. It wasn't like she was an actress, on every other billboard, but she'd had her face out there quite a lot and people often asked if they'd met before. The embarrassing thing was when she'd launched into her speech of having put out a few records and it turns out they recognized her from a bar a couple weeks ago. Thankfully, it wasn't a majority.

"Excuse me?" she stopped at the reception desk, "I'm here to see a patient?"

"Name?" the nurse didn't even bother to look up.

"Uhh, mine or his?" Haley chuckled nervously.

"Well, sign yours there," the nurse pointed to a sign in sheet, "And tell me his."

"Umm, okay," Haley signed her name and the nurse finally looked her in the eye.

"Name?"

"Haley, no - his name, Nathan. Nathan Scott." Why was she so nervous?

"Room 423, that's up two floors from here, down this hall," the nurse pointed.

"Right. Okay. Thanks," Haley nodded, wandering toward the elevator.

It was the slowest moving elevator on the face of the planet. Haley pictured an old man in the basement, pulling on a rope to lift her an inch at a time. After years of watching ER, she'd expected something with a little more pep to it. Something that didn't leave her mind spinning.

He thinks you're still married.

Hadn't that been her dream when she was younger? That she could just erase all the pain between them and start anew? A little older and wiser?

But he wasn't hers anymore and hadn't been for a long, long time.

Haley followed the numbers down the hallway, 428, 427...423. She expected Brooke to be there, waiting, but it was deserted.

"Haley?"

The door was ajar and their eyes met. Nathan. But it wasn't the Nathan that gave up on them after she hurt him so badly. It was like looking back through time and seeing how it might have been if they'd been able to scrape things together again. The pure, unquestioning love in his eyes made her shrink inside as the series of events he didn't know about tumbled around her head unbound.

"Where were you?" he asked softly as she pushed the door open, "I missed you." So often, Nathan was like a vulnerable child to her and that part of Haley that when she'd said forever, had meant it, curled up and cried inside of her.

"Oh, Nathan, I'm so sorry," a tear slipped down her cheek and she wiped it away quickly, "I missed you too."

He smiled and her heart warmed to him. This was the man that she had loved so deeply.

And hurt so irrevocably.

Until today.

Haley smiled back at him.

XXX

Brooke

Lucas dragged her back to Nathan's room after a much needed coffee...or three. She even felt like something approaching human. The door was wide open and she walked in to see Nathan take Haley's hand and pull her in to-

"No!" Brooke hadn't even realized she'd spoken until Haley and Nathan's eyes darted toward her interruption. Haley looked guilty. Nathan, annoyed. She laughed a little hysterically, "Hey now, none of that until I speak to Haley for a second," Brooke waved her finger at Nathan and clamped her fingers around Haley's wrist. She ignored Haley's wince and dragged her out of the room.

As the door clicked shut she let go and whirled on her friend, "Tell me that wasn't what it looked like."

"Brooke, I'm sorry, I didn't know he would do that-"

"Well, he couldn't have if you kept your distance!"

"Brooke," Haley sighed and Brooke crumpled into her arms.

"He doesn't love me anymore, Haley," she whispered, "It's gone."

"Shhh," Haley stroked her back, "Of course he does. He's sick, Brooke. This isn't real."

"I don't know if I can make it through this. If he doesn't..." she wanted to continue, but she was going to cry at any moment.

"He will," Haley squeezed her hands, "Now what do you need from me, Brooke?"

"Let's talk to the doctor," Brooke shrugged, "I'm not sure where to go from here."

XXX

Dr. Waynes considered them both very carefully, "Is your goal the same in this?"

Haley jumped at this question, "Of course...we both want Nathan better."

"Because a fight between you is the last thing he needs."

Both girls studied their hands.

"Let him ask questions, let Nathan explore and answer him truthfully, but don't push him in any particular direction, though you should try to talk about things that would trigger his memories. Nothing painful - but if he wants to talk about the world - pick places he's been, you see what I'm saying? This is a mind block - one little nudge and it will likely all come back to him and be READY for that, because no one wants all that time coming back to them at once."

"Okay," Brooke nodded, "How do I keep him from...kissing Haley," she muttered.

The doctor looked annoyed by a question outside the realm of medicine, "Say she has a cold?"

Brooke got a very clear image of the last time she had been sick and snorted, "Uhh, he generally doesn't care about that sort of thing."

"I'm sure you'll figure out something."

XXX

Nathan

Haley and Brooke were acting weird.

They were girls, well, women now, and this sort of thing was to be expected, but they were being awfully shifty and neither of them came near him. At first Haley had seemed fairly normal, but now? There was something going on he didn't know about and it was driving him crazy.

"So...Haley, what's our house like?"

Haley looked at Brooke quickly, and seemed a little lost. The other woman jumped in immediately, "You have the most kick ass house ever, Nathan."

"She would know," Haley rolled her eyes, "She designed it."

"You did?"

"Honey, I'm always here to help you spend your money," Brooke winked.

"Wow. So mirrors on the ceilings...jacuzzi in every room? Sounds like I like it. Don't I, Hales?"

Haley smiled tightly, "Sure do."

He had felt, from the moment he opened his eyes that something was off, like they were keeping something from him, that something significant had happened in the last nine years that they weren't telling him.

"What is it?"

"What's what?" Brooke looked nervous and Haley avoided his eyes.

"Whatever you're hiding from me, you can just spit it out. Did I kill someone?"

Brooke paled. "Nathan, no-"

"What is it? Why won't Haley come near me? Why are you always fussing around like some sort of major catastrophe is going to fall on us?"

"I-"

Music started playing and Haley reached for her cell phone quickly. "Sorry, I'll be right back," she darted out the door as she opened her phone, "Haley Jam-" the door slid shut, cutting off voice and Nathan stared after her uncomfortably, not liking what had just happened for no apparent reason.

"She still goes by her maiden name?" he zoned in on the issue and Brooke looked panicked for a second.

"Yeah."

Haley came back into the room in a flurry, "I am SO sorry, I had a thing today, but my agent canceled it, they just wanted to know what the deal was and and when to reschedule. God, it's crazy." Her hands finally stopped waving around and she returned her phone to her purse and folded her hands in front of her. "So. Continue."

"Where's your ring?" Nathan frowned.

"Ring?" Haley gave him a blank look.

"That I gave you? Wedding ring?"

"Right!" she looked at Brooke for help and Nathan's stomach sank as a possibility he hadn't even considered crossed his mind for the first time.

Maybe he and Haley didn't make it.

And suddenly just looking at her hurt. He squeezed his eyes shut as they burned and covered his ears. He couldn't hear her confirm his fears. "Haley, get out of here," he begged her to leave, but didn't even watch her go.

There was a hand on his arm and he jerked away instinctively, cracking open his eye slightly to be sure she was gone.

"Brooke," he relaxed into her touch as though he'd done it a million times before. "Just tell me. Please."

XXX

Brooke

It wasn't in her to deny Nathan, Brooke had discovered over the years. Not when he said he wanted to be with Peyton and their fling should stay a secret. Not when she knew he wanted Haley, so she did what she could to bring them together. And not when that ended and she'd been there every day, bringing them to this moment.

"What do you want to know?"

"Haley and I - we're done, right? We didn't make it?"

"You're no longer together," she confirmed as gently as she could and watched the news of the break up hit him, for the second time.

"How long has it been?" he wanted to know.

"The marriage only lasted a few months, Nathan, I'm so sorry."

He looked totally stunned by this news, as though nothing in the world could shock him more than the failure of a marriage between sixteen year olds and Brooke wanted to scream at him to snap out of it and love her like he did yesterday.

"Why would I still be wearing this?" Nathan lifted his hand, wagging his ring finger and Brooke held her breath as the pieces fell into place for him as he examined the pattern he'd seen not long before on her own finger.

"Nathan..."

"Why didn't you tell me?" his eyes pierced her and she didn't have a good answer all of a sudden. "God, I thought you were married to Lucas!"

"I- The doctor- I'm sorry, Nathan. I should have told you. Not...let you go on about Haley."

He stiffened and Brooke's heart squeezed.

"Can I talk to her?"

She wanted to cry, but she couldn't. Her tears dried out ages ago. "Sure," she opened the door and started walking. This was one time in her life that she couldn't be there for him.

XXX

Haley

It wasn't hard to figure out what would happen when she went back into that room and Haley wasn't looking forward to leading him through all that heartbreak again.

"Hey Hales."

She turned to find Lucas, the man she'd considered her best friend in another life.

"Hey Luke...can you believe this?"

"Not really... do you want me to go in with you?"

"No, he needs to hear this from me," Haley sighed, "I just wish I didn't have to hurt him again. He's been through so much."

"Brooke needs him, Hales, so if it hurts him to come back, that's the way it has to happen."

Haley nodded, "I didn't know you and Brooke were so close."

"She's one of my best friends."

"Right," she pulled away from him, "I better go in."

XXX

Nathan

It was hard to stop himself from comparing the new Haley with the old. The new one had a much keener fashion sense, but as he looked at her, there was something missing.

"Hey," she was clearly uncomfortable being around him and he was scared to know why. The reason for their breakup.

"What happened?"

"If you listen to me, you gave me an ultimatum between our marriage and going on tour, I chose the latter and you served me with papers. In fairness, your point of view would probably mention something about Chris Keller, the guy that wanted me on the tour in the first place."

"So I thought you cheated on me? Is that it?" It seemed ridiculous. He couldn't imagine Haley of all people -

"There was a kiss."

"You kissed that guy?"

"He actually kissed me, but I was a little late in stopping him."

"I thought you were better than that," was all he could think to say.

"That was another problem in the relationship," Haley agreed.

It was strange seeing her so matter of fact about the whole thing, even though this was old news to her, for him they'd gone from honeymoon to divorce in less than a few hours and he was reeling.

"We didn't even try?"

"Nathan, we were so young," Haley said, like it that was what he'd forgotten.

"But we promised, we said Always -"

" - and Forever," Haley finished, "I know, that song won me a Grammy."

"So that's what our marriage is to you now, an award? Inspiration for your songs?"

"Nathan, our marriage meant everything to me and when I left, I truly didn't think it would be forever, it just happened that way."

"You're here now," he pointed out.

"But now you're married to someone else."

He'd forgotten that sometime during their discussion. "It's hard to imagine myself with Brooke. I assume I love her."

"You certainly seem to."

"What do I do, Haley?"

"You get your memory back and do better with your second marriage than your first."

"Are you married too?"

Haley

"No," she almost laughed. Marriage was the last thing on her mind at this point in her career. She wrote, recorded, toured...rinse repeat. It wasn't a lifestyle that loved domesticity. "I'm seeing someone, but not seriously."

"Not Chris Keller, right?"

She actually laughed. He was just so Nathan, that same exact Nathan that she had loved so deeply and could now think of with nothing but fondness. "Not Chris Keller," she promised.

"He sounds like a dick."

"He is," she confirmed.

"I guess...I mean, I think I should probably talk to Brooke, right?"

"Definitely," Haley encouraged, relieved, "I'll go grab her."

"Haley," he stopped her.

"Yeah?"

He shook his head, "Nothing. I just...there should be something more...that I should say, right?"

It was touching, that in his traumatic situation, Nathan Scott wanted to bring closure to the relationship from years ago. The only relationship, if she was honest with herself, that she ever gave a shit about.

How many times had she wanted to go back and talk to Nathan? To explain, to cry, to take back all the ugliness?

"You don't need to say anything," Haley shook her head, "But I do, Nathan. I want you to know that I wouldn't leave if I had it to do over again. Our love was real. We could have made it if we hadn't let go."

"But it's too late," Nathan finished for her.

"It has to be," Haley agreed, pushing the door open.

"Ow, fuck," Brooke rubbed her head as she backed away from the door.

It wasn't hard to figure out what was happening, "Eavesdropping, Brooke? I thought you gave that up in high school?"

"That was Tequila," she grimaced.

"He was asking for you."

"So I heard, look," she took a deep breath, "if you really want Nathan, I mean if you swear to me that you'll never hurt him like you did before..."

"Brooke, stop!" Haley pulled her away from Nathan's door in case he heard something. "What you're thinking isn't an option. You need to pull it together, okay?"

"I just want it all to stop, Haley, I don't want to feel all this pain, all the time, I can't...I can't deal with this and Nathan too. But if he's happy, maybe I can just put it all behind me..."

"That's completely psychotic."

"Thanks for the support," Brooke murmured, "Don't you have recording to do or something?"

"Nope, I'm free."

"Wonderful. Let me just go shoot myself."

XXX

Brooke

After seven years with Brooke, Nathan wanted to be with Haley again. And the facts – that he was currently a mental patient, that he didn't remember those years and that there was no reason he couldn't just snap out of it...really didn't weigh with her in the slightest.

"Brooke, I know this is hard for you," Haley tried to sympathize and Brooke snapped.

"No! You don't KNOW, you don't have any fucking clue. You were with him for a year a decade ago! I'm his wife, I'm the mother of his child, we built a whole fucking life and it is toppling."

She didn't know where the tears came from, but they poured from her eyes as she sobbed and Haley stroked her back, telling her it would be okay. Lying bitch. There was no more of this she could take. If Nathan didn't snap out of it... Brooke was starting to get hysterical.

"Is she okay?" Brooke heard the question distantly and recognized Lucas's voice.

"She heard me reminisce with Nathan and had a breakdown," Haley told him.

"What did you say?"

"That if I had it to do over again, I wouldn't leave him," Haley sighed.

"Haley, why would you say something like that in front of her?" Lucas asked.

Brooke felt herself changing hands as Lucas pulled her into his chest and she cuddled into him.

"It wasn't in front of her," Haley defended herself, "She was eavesdropping!"

"Uhh...yeah. It's Brooke."

"Hey!" Brooke said to his T-shirt, poking for emphasis.

He ignored her.

XXX

Nathan

In his mind, he now had two wives. The wife he loved, but couldn't have and the wife who loved him, but he couldn't remember loving back.

Fucking nightmare. He felt awful for Brooke. Had it been reversed and Haley couldn't remember him, he would go crazy and yet he'd just sent Brooke from the room.

He hit the nurse call button.

"What did you need Mr. Scott?" a nurse poked her head in the room.

"What's this IV feeding me?"

"It's liquid and nutrients to replenish your system while you were out."

He interpreted that to mean unnecessary bull shit and took it out the second she left. What he could really use were a pair of jeans, but it seemed like he was going to have to deal with the draft if he wanted to talk to Brooke.

His feet tingled as they hit the floor and he padded toward the hallway.

It was deserted but he could hear Lucas and Haley's voice and wandered toward them.

XXX

Lucas

"It'll be okay," Lucas lifted Brooke's chin to look her in the eye, "Whatever we have to do bring Nathan back, we're hear for you."

Her eyes flitted down the hallway and back to him, "Anything?"

"Absolutely."

Brooke smiled...and kissed him. Hard. Her hands held his neck in place and offered him no options. It was different from any other kiss he'd ever had, even from her. Sloppy, desperate. Gently, he pushed her away from him.

"Brooke, what-?"

That's when he was tackled.

XXX

Haley

Haley's mouth dropped when Brooke kissed Lucas. The strange return to high school couples was crazy and she was floored until she saw Nathan – sprinting down the hallway toward them.

"No!" she tried to stop the collision but she wasn't quick enough and Lucas went down hard with Nathan on top of him. "Stop that! Brooke!"

But Brooke's expression was, if anything, triumphant and that's when it clicked.

Leave it to Brooke to manipulate the mental patient.

XXX

Brooke

Hah!

She focus on the fact that her husband was pummeling his brother, the relief that somewhere inside him, he remembered, was all she could think about.

Haley's voice finally pierced the fog around her and she snapped to the present, allowing Haley to pull her into the fray and separate Nathan and Lucas.

"Jesus, Brooke," Lucas glared at her, rubbing his jaw as the girls held his brother off him.

She didn't bother to apologize because she didn't care, not really. Luke could take a punch or two if it would bring Nathan back.

"What the fuck?" Nathan turned on Brooke, then. "All your bull shit about Haley and you're making out with Lucas? I can't buy an album but you can tongue kiss my brother?!"

"That was four years ago, Nathan," Brooke's eyes welled with tears of relief. Her husband was back. Pissed, but back.

"I don't fucking care how long ago it was, you threw a huge jealous fit and now this? Has it been going on awhile or what?"

"This is ridiculous," she heard Lucas mutter.

Brooke ignored her ex and focused on her husband, "Baby, do you remember what's going on? Before you saw me and Luke?"

XXX

Nathan

"Of course I remember," he snapped, "We're in the hospital, I can't shake this ass draft. I came out to comfort you, Brooke, and this is what I find?"

Brooke rolled her eyes, "I did it for you, genius. Do you think I wanted to live the rest of my life with you wanting Haley? Look, I'm sorry that you're such a jealous Neanderthal that you attacked Luke for helping me bring back your memory. But I'm not sorry you really love me," Brooke started crying and Nathan automatically felt like shit, "I would fuck him right here if I thought it would bring you back to me."

It was an image could have survived without.

"Don't hate me, baby," Brooke begged, throwing her arms around him and kissing his neck, "I just wanted you back with me. I love you so much."

"Love you too," he sighed and their lips met. It didn't matter that they were in the middle of the hospital or the breeze on his ass was annoying as fuck, it had been forever since he'd touched her, since the night of Connor's death.

No. His mind rebelled against it even now. Couldn't accept that their son was gone.

He broke contact with Brooke and she noticed immediately, crying openly as she, too, relived the horrific accident. "Not your fault," he murmured against her mouth.

Brooke was driving. Their four year old had taken off his own seat belt and when she turned back to yell at him – that's when the other car pulled out in front of them.

It could have happened to anyone.

Nathan couldn't believe he'd left her alone with this. Even if he wasn't trying to abandon her, that's what it must have felt like. And for Haley. God, he felt like throwing up.

"Let's go home," he told her softly.

Brooke nodded, "Okay, I'll just find the doctor."

As she slipped away from him, Nathan realized that Lucas and Haley were still there, looking around awkwardly at anyone but him.

"Thanks for making out with my wife, dickhead."

Lucas shook his head, "I didn't enjoy it if that helps."

"Liar."

"Seriously."

Nathan ignored him and went back to his room.

XXX

Lucas

"I didn't," Lucas told Haley, since she was the only one left.

"Right, I believe you," she seemed amused, "Because Brooke Davis can't kiss. I remember that about her."

"You're awfully critical for the one who made a move on the married man."

"Oh, please, I did not."

"You wouldn't jump at the chance to have Nathan back?"

"Not that Nathan," Haley shook her head. "My Nathan was a different person."

"Well, we've all changed since then."

"Exactly."

XXX

Brooke

"The doctor said to check in sometime next week, but we're free to go home now," Brooke sat in the chair by Nathan's hospital and rested for a second.

"So I can change back into pants?" Nathan looked excited and she smiled.

"Too bad, I could get used to the easy access."

"Is this part of your freaky kilt fetish?"

"Mayyyybe."

"C'mere," he held out his hand and Brooke crawled into his lap. "You know that I love you, right? Only you?"

"It's okay, Nate, it's not your fault this happened. I know you love me. I love you. But it does make me jealous that she had you first, that you made promises to her even after our first time together."

"Brooke, we were sixteen. She was the first person to really treat me like a human being and I appreciated that, I still appreciate that, but that young relationship is nothing compared to what we've gone through together. Haley and I gave up on each other, Brooke. That will never happen here."

Brooke leaned her head against his chest, "Let's go home."

XXX

Haley

Haley didn't say goodbye. She walked out of the hospital with Luke and called a cab to the airport. There was a life beyond this haunting reality and Haley couldn't wait to get back to it.

She had a new idea for a song and she hummed it to herself as she sat down in first class. Pulling out her note book, she wrote 'March 2005' in big letters.

Haley closed her eyes and indulged in those hazy sweet memories from the past as the plane took off, carrying her back to the life she'd chosen.

The End