It happens in the girls' locker room, of all places, and all Haley can think is that she's suddenly become a cliché. Well, in so much as she's thinking anything at all, which, when Brooke's mouth is one hers and her hand is moving down to stroke Haley's thigh, is more difficult than she expected.
The rest of the girls have already left, showered and changed and gone, but Haley had stayed behind to talk to Nathan after the game while Brooke flirted with Lucas, and by the time they got the the locker room, it was already nearly empty. And it's not like that's anything Haley ever thought she'd be worried about, being in a room (even alone, even sweaty and half-naked) with another girl, but Brooke has this way of making her head all fuzzy, or making her do things she never thought she would. And when Brooke had come up beside her, when she'd brushed her hand across Haley's waist -
Well, the fact that Brooke's currently pinning her up against the lockers, her tongue halfway down Haley's throat, probably speaks for itself. And it's not like she'd meant to kiss Brooke - or maybe Brooke had kissed her; it's kind of hard to tell, at this point, and it's not like it really matters - but she had jumped at the touch, and when Brooke had leaned in, and smiled, things had just kind of escalated.
She's not sure how long they've been making out when she pulls away (and it's definitely her that moves, this time; Brooke's expression is unmistakeable), nervously tucking nonexistent stray locks of hair behind her ears. Brooke kind of tilts her head, going from hurt to confusion to curiosity, and Haley smiles lamely, trying not to think about stepping forward and picking up where they left off.
"I can't," she says, her voice hoarse, and she's not even sure if she got the words out right. "Nathan -"
That's all it takes for Brooke to back off, giving Haley a tight smile that doesn't quite reach her eyes. "Yeah."
"Brooke -" But all she can think to say is I'm sorry, which she isn't, and she doesn't think it would be the right thing to say, anyway. "I should go," she finally settles on.
"Yeah," Brooke says again, moving back so there's enough room between them that Haley won't have to brush past her on the way out. That hurts, somehow, though Haley's pretty sure it shouldn't.
She's all too aware that she's still wearing her cheerleading uniform (the one Brooke touched, the one she twisted between her fingers as she -) but it's not like she can stay and change, not after what just happened. But she lets her hand graze Brooke's as she walks part, anyway; maybe as a way of apologising, maybe just because she wanted to.
She closes her eyes when Nathan kisses her outside, squeezes his hand as he leads her away, and she's really not sure what she feels more guilty about.
Haley wakes covered in sweat halfway through the night, her heart racing, mouth dry. Nathan shifts in his sleep, and she runs a hand down over his shoulder before she closes her eyes, willing herself to sleep.
He's up before her the next morning, the smell of pop tarts wafting in from the kitchen, and she slips on an old t-shirt before going out to greet him. He's smiling, half-dressed, small beads of water still glistening in his hair, and his grin widens when he sees her.
She smiles back wearily, and he frowns as he finishes his breakfast.
"Are you okay? You look tired."
"I didn't get much sleep last night," she says, and it's true. She tries again, smiling more convincingly this time, and reaches past him for a box of cereal.
"Anything on your mind?" he asks as she's pouring the milk, and she has to act fast not to spill it all over the counter.
"Not really," she says, and the lie comes out surprisingly easily. "Just tired, you know? School, cheerleading, tutoring ..."
"Poor baby," he says, coming up behind her to wrap his hands around her waist, brushing the hair away from the back of her neck. "Does that mean you're too tired to take a shower with me?"
She spins around, laughing, placing a hand on his bare chest. "Didn't you just take a shower?"
"Doesn't mean I can't take another," he says, leaning down to kiss her neck. "Besides, you can never be too clean."
"Uh huh," she says, disbelieving, but she's still smiling. "Is it okay if I finish my breakfast first?"
"Whatever you want," he says, and leans back against the counter to wait.
She doesn't see Brooke for most of the morning on Monday, but she's there when Haley goes to her locker before lunch, and whatever she was expecting, it isn't the cheery smile Brooke gives her.
"Cheerleading practice after school," Brooke says, as if it's just any normal day. As if they hadn't been kissing in the locker room only a few days ago. "Tell the hubby you'll be home late."
That's it, and Haley can't help staring after Brooke as she leaves.
That afternoon, after cheerleading practice, Haley waits until they're reasonably alone to approach Brooke.
"I'm sorry," she says, and Brooke just shrugs.
"It's okay. I get it."
Haley really wants to ask her what it is that she gets, because she sure as hell doesn't.
She and Nathan are watching television when she finally confesses, leaning against each other on the couch. She was never made for keeping secrets, she thinks resignedly. She didn't even last a week.
She leans forward as Nathan reaches for the remote, scooting over to the far side of the couch and turning to face him.
"I kissed Brooke," she blurts out, the words all coming in a rush, and she thinks that, really, she could have found a better way to say it. She's not sure if there even is a better way to say something like that.
Nathan just blinks, and she rushes to fill the silence.
"Or she kissed me. I don't know. I don't really remember. But ..." He's still staring at her, seemingly shell-shocked, and she frowns. "Please say something."
"Was this, like, some kind of truth or dare thing?" he asks finally, and she shakes her head.
"Were you guys drunk?" He sounds more confused than anything, and she isn't sure if that's a good thing or not.
"No, Nathan. It was ..." After the game, she wants to say, but she thinks that might not be such a good idea. "We were in the locker room, and it was late, and we were alone, and it just kind of happened."
There's a long silence, and she waits for him to speak, to say anything.
"Can I watch next time?"
She stares at him, not quite sure how to respond. "Wait, you're okay with this?"
Nathan shrugs, and reaches out to take her hand lightly in his. "I don't know. I'm just kind of surprised, I guess. I mean, are you - did it mean anything?"
"No," she says, a little too quickly.
"Well, are you planning on leaving me for her?" She could swear his tone is teasing, even if there's no betrayal of it on his face.
"No." More forcefully, this time.
He shrugs again, and leans back against the couch. "So you kissed Brooke. Who hasn't?"
Haley laughs despite herself, and Nathan smiles at her.
"Besides, it's kind of hot." And with that, he picks up the remote, pulling her back against him as he flicks through the channels.
"Do you have any more ice?"
Haley whirls around to see Lucas, standing at the edge of the kitchen. "Did you check the freezer?"
He smacks his forehead, smirking at her. "The freezer. Of course. Why didn't I think of that?"
"All right, no need to get smart," she says. "If there's none in there, then I guess we're all out."
He wanders off, and Haley glances after him, surveying the living room. After what happened last year, she and Nathan had agreed on no more parties, but he had promised this one would be small, just a few close friends. He'd even been telling the truth, mostly.
It helped, of course, that they'd kicked Tim out after his third beer, Nathan muttering something about a strip club that wasn't carding as he steered Tim towards the door. The rest of the basketball team had followed soon afterwards, leaving a fairly manageable group still crowded into the small apartment.
After Junk knocks over a lamp, facilitating his speedy exit, and Nathan ducks out to hide the rest of the beer in the bathroom, the party shrinks even further. And somehow, it's only her, Nathan, and Brooke left standing at the end of the night.
"You can go," she says to Brooke after Lucas leaves, but Brooke just shrugs, helping Haley clear the counter.
"It's okay. I don't mind helping clean up." Brooke smiles at her, and Haley smiles back, a moment that's only interrupted when Nathan emerges from the bathroom, three beers in hand.
He pops the caps off, and slides the bottles onto the counter. "You don't have to do that. You're a guest. Relax."
Brooke puts down the empty bottles she was holding, reaching for a beer. "Relax, huh?"
Nathan grins. "Yeah, relax. Sit back. Have a little fun."
"What did you have in mind?" Brooke asks. She looks over at Haley, and Haley blushes, taking a long sip of her drink.
"I don't know," Nathan says. "Why don't we play a game or something?"
"Like twister?" Brooke asks suggestively, still looking at Haley. Haley glances over at Nathan, who seems oblivious.
"How about I Never?"
"Okay," Brooke agrees, a little too readily, and Haley takes another drink. "I never ... no, wait." She holds up a hand. "Yep, did that, too. Wait, I've got it. I never had sex with Peyton."
Nathan drinks, though he raises an eyebrow at Brooke, who just shrugs. "Okay," he says, when he's done. "I never had sex with Lucas."
Brooke drinks, looking unconcerned. "Your turn, tutor girl," she says.
"Okay," Haley says. "I never had sex with anyone I wasn't married to."
Both Nathan and Brooke drink at that, and Brooke shakes her head. "No fair. All right, you're going to pay for that. I was never a rock star."
Haley drinks, reluctantly, and, as Brooke leans over towards her, for a little longer than is probably necessary.
"I never watched my wife make out with another girl," Nathan says, and Haley glances at him sharply.
Brooke just laughs. "This isn't truth or dare, you know."
Nathan shrugs. "Maybe it should be."
Brooke fixes him with a stare, leaning over the counter, something in their exchange Haley can't quite read. Finally, Brooke glances away. "Fine. It's your party."
"Then I dare you to make out with Haley."
"You didn't even -" Haley protests, but she's cut off when Brooke's lips meet hers, and she's done protesting. She parts her lips, Brooke's tongue sliding against hers, hands tangling in her hair, brushing the back of her neck, and she makes a sound in the back of throat that she really hopes nobody heard.
"Okay," Brooke says, as she breaks the kiss. "Your turn."
It takes Haley a minute to realise Brooke was talking to her, and she swallows. "Um. Nathan, truth or dare?"
"Okay, I dare you ..." She thinks for a moment, before finishing, lamely, "to finish the rest of your beer."
Nathan rolls his eyes, draining the bottle in one smooth motion. "Brooke, your turn."
"Haley," Brooke says, not missing a beat. "Truth or dare?"
Haley can't quite look away, and she doesn't know if she's dreading or looking forward to what's coming next. "Dare."
"I dare you to kiss me."
She pauses, glances at Nathan. He just shrugs, smirking a little, and after a moment, she steps forward, pressing her lips lightly to Brooke's.
She's about to move back when Brooke reaches for her, pulling Haley closer, one hand on her waist wile the other strokes her hair, her cheek, her breast. Haley kind of squeaks a little, and Brooke laughs against her mouth, but she doesn't break the kiss, and after a minute, Haley begins to relax into it.
She doesn't hear Nathan move, but she feels it when he comes up to stand behind her, pressing against her back, his hands holding on to her waist, entangling with Brooke's. He kisses Haley's shoulder, and she makes a sound, not quite sure if it's supposed to be encouragement or protest.
"Nathan," she says, and there are too many sentences lately she can't finish. She turns to face him, and barely hears Brooke slip away. "I don't -"
"Hey," he says. "Look, it's okay. I just thought - we don't have to do anything you don't want to, okay?"
"Okay," she says, and he pulls her closer, brushing the hair away from her cheek. "I don't even know what we're doing here."
"Whatever you want," he says.
After a minute, she almost does a double take. "Wait, what do you mean you just -"
She's interrupted by Brooke, who's holding a beer bottle, a puzzled expression on her face. "Why do you guys have beer in the bathroom?"
That's all it takes for Nathan and Haley to start laughing, and Nathan reaches out for Brooke, pulling her towards them; he glances at Haley, and she nods, taking Brooke's hand as she leans in for a kiss.
The weirdest thing - well, apart from the fact that any of it happened at all, which is still pretty freaking bizarre, even after Haley's had some time to adjust - is that Brooke doesn't act weird about it at all.
She kisses Haley goodbye the next morning, almost chaste, and it isn't until Monday that Haley sees her again. Brooke sits one row over in English, offering Haley a smile as she ducks in just behind the bell, and Haley's almost too flustered to return it. At lunch, Brooke sits beside her, her thigh pressed lightly against Haley's in a way that could be accidental, and Nathan doesn't even falter as he finishes his story. Brooke takes one of Haley's carrot sticks, leaning forward to make some remark Haley doesn't quite catch, and she only manages to get through half her lunch before she has to throw the rest away, uneaten.
During cheerleading practice, she could swear Brooke winks at her, and Nathan flashes both of them a smile as he runs past. Afterwards, when the team marches off to the locker room, Haley inches closer to Brooke, catching her as the rest of the squad leaves.
"Brooke," she says, and she really wishes she had some kind of cheat sheet for this. "About what happened this weekend -"
"I had fun," Brooke says, as if that's all there is to it, and maybe it is.
"Yeah," Haley says, finally. "Me, too."
She leans over to help Brooke with the equipment, and she doesn't jump back when Brooke's fingers brush hers.
"You ready for the game this week?" Brooke asks, and she nods.
"Yeah. I think so."
"Great." And then Brooke smiles, slowly, in a way Haley's beginning to recognise. "I hear there's going to be a killer party afterwards."