Disclaimer: I do not own One Tree Hill, or any of the characters, except the made up ones. It belongs to Mark Schwahn and the CW.
Summary: Nathan and Haley Scott had the perfect life, but nothing in life had prepared them for what happened that fateful night over four months ago. With both of them broken, they'll learn that the more you love someone the harder it is to let go.
AN: Hey, guys. So this is my new story. I hope you like it and let me know what you think. Special thanks to Brittany for helping me with it.
Chapter One –The World Spins Madly On
Nathan sat at the large table drumming his fingers steadily against his leg. The blurred voices of the two older men going back and forth had long been lost on him. He stopped paying attention long ago as they tried to settle things. He felt like he had been in this room countless times over the years. They were all the same to him. Only now things were different. He wasn't one of the lawyers going back and forth trying to negotiate things. He was the client.
His sighed heavily, his eyes glued to her as she sat across the table from him. He didn't know how things had gotten to this point in his life. There she was, his wife, looking like she wanted to be anywhere but here. He tired hard to get her attention but that hadn't worked. In fact, since she walked into the room, she hadn't glanced at him once. Her arms were folded over her chest as she glanced off blankly out the window. It was something that she had been doing for months now and he hated it.
Sometimes he felt like shaking her until she woke up.
He knew that wouldn't help matters –nothing would. Somehow everything in his life had lead up to this moment and he couldn't fight it anymore. He was tired of fighting. It seemed like lately all he had been doing was fighting to keep his life and it hadn't worked. He had tried everything. In the end it didn't matter. She had given up on them long before he had. This was her fault. It was easy now to put all the blame on her.
She was the one that had given up on them. She was the one that stopped believing in them. She was the one that had shut him out and decided to stop living. She had been the one to push him away. This was all on her.
In his mind he knew that it wasn't all her fault. It takes two and he had his fair share in what had happened between them. This wasn't all on her. Still, it was easy to blame her. He hadn't wanted things to turn out like this. She just didn't seem to care. Hell, she didn't seem to care about anything these days, not even herself.
He felt a pang of sadness hit him as she bit her bottom lip. It was something that she had done often when she was nervous and his first instinct was to rush to her side and hold her hand and tell her everything was going to be alright. Sure, he could do that. But he knew it wouldn't work. His efforts to be there for her were never enough. He was never enough.
He knew that now. He accepted it. It was over. Just like all things come to an end, so did they. No matter how much the good memories of their marriage weighed out the bad, it still wasn't enough. The bad had done too much damage to both of them and there was no going back. It would be pointless to fight it. If the last few months proved anything, it was that. There was simply nothing left to fight for. She just didn't love him anymore and he couldn't make her.
In the beginning he had fought so hard to prevent this. Still, darkness consumed every inch of her. She was angry and was dealing with things in her own way, he knew that. But hadn't he been angry, too? Hadn't he been in pain? Hadn't he wanted to just give up and stop living? He had. The pain was so bad that all he wanted to do was never feel anything ever again.
Anger rushed through his whole being. He could feel it pulsating within him. He clenched his fists under the table. Over an hour of sitting here and still nothing from her. It's as if he hadn't existed to her, as if he never had. Like so many times in the past he wanted to shake her. He wanted her look at him and at least acknowledge him –them. It seemed like they had never been. That's what it felt like when he was around her, like they were nothing.
All those amazing memories of their marriage would just disappear when she was around. They would all turn dark like she sucked the life right out of them, which in his mind she had. How could she pretend that what they had never happened? How could she give up so easily? How could…
These questions plagued his mind over the months. He wanted answers that he'd never get. Getting them would require her to talk to him and she didn't talk to him anymore. They used to talk for hours and hours about nothing…everything. Now, not even a word. It was simply as if he had never existed, like he hadn't been by her side over the years, like they hadn't faced everything together, like they were never anything.
He didn't understand it. She was the best part of him. Didn't she get that? Didn't she understand what she was to him?
He wanted to scream he was so angry. He wanted to let all his anger and pain out in one long loud scream. He knew it would make him feel better. He was so tempted to do it right now in front of everyone. Let them hear his pain, he didn't care. He wanted her to feel it. He wanted her to know that she was killing everything in him. He wanted her to hear what she caused. Maybe, then she'd wake up from this endless nightmare that had been his life for the last four months.
But he knew that that would take a miracle.
No, he stopped praying for miracles, he stopped believing. Why should he believe in anything? Everything that ever mattered to him was being ripped away from him. There was nothing left of him. He was empty. Everything that made him who he was was gone. He was broken in every sense of the word and nothing could put him back together. The only person that could couldn't even bear to look at him anymore.
He felt someone shaking his arm and he glanced at the old man next to him. His mouth was moving and he tired his best to pay attention. He hated when his clients seemed out of it. Well, now he got it. When your life is over it's pretty much hard to concentrate on anything. Once he understood what the old man was asking him, he clenched his jaw before looking away angrily.
"Give her whatever she wants."
The old man seemed relieved to finally have this over with. The tension in the room had been thick since they all entered. His eyes went back to watching her. He couldn't help it. He had spent most of his life watching her and he didn't think that would ever change. It was something that he was used to doing. She was his…or at least she used to be.
The papers were pushed in front of him a second later. Lifting the pen up he glanced over what he was signing. It was the end of them and when he thought about it, the end of his life as well. He really had nothing left to live for. He felt his heart aching in his chest. Glancing up, he watched as she signed the papers like it was nothing –like they were nothing. Then she was up and rushing out of the room, away from him. He watched her go angrily wishing with everything in him that he could bring her back in here and make her watch him the way he had watched her. He tossed the pen down and rushed after her. He could hear his lawyer yelling for him to go back and sign the papers but he didn't care.
She did this. This was her fault and he was going to make her watch just as he had. She didn't get to run away, not anymore. He wasn't going to let her.
He shouted her name loudly as he rushed around the huge building looking for her. It didn't matter that people were staring at him like he was crazy as he shouted out to her and pushed through them. They could judge him all they wanted. He didn't care. He didn't care about anything…not anymore. His life was over. He had nothing left to live for.
He searched the endless crowd of people for her but still nothing. She was nowhere to be found, gone forever. Pain like he never felt before flooded his body and he yelled as loud as he could in agony.
"Mr. Scott. Mr. Scott, wake up." He felt her hand on him shaking him awake and he shot up quickly, his head leaving his desk before he glanced around. Once he realized where he was he glanced at her. She looked at him concerned. He glanced away before running his hands over his face. How had he fallen asleep at work yet again?
"I'm sorry," Nathan muttered.
He glared at her. "It was nothing."
"You were screaming her name again, Nathan."
"Carrie," Nathan started in frustration. "I told you it was nothing. Now, stop asking questions and get back to work. You work for me remember?"
"Yes, Sir," Carrie nodded before walking from around his desk.
He felt bad instantly. She was just trying to help him. He knew that. And she wasn't just someone that worked for him. He knew her from way back when he was younger. They went to school together before he had moved to Tree Hill with his family. They had a history, one that he tired to forget. But that didn't give him the right to talk to her like that.
"I'm sorry," Nathan repeated as he leaned back into his chair. "I didn't mean that. Thanks for waking me. I didn't get much sleep last night."
"It's ok, Nathan. Really, I get it. Remember my offer still stands. I'm here whenever you need me." She smiled at him before biting her bottom lip. She stayed staring at him and he glanced away.
"Thanks," Nathan mumbled.
"Well, anyway. I was coming to check on you anyway. It's getting late and you're the last one here. I don't want you to be late again."
"Right," Nathan nodded. She left his office and he glanced at the clock. He still had a few minutes. He took his time getting himself together. He couldn't leave. Not like this. His father would kill him if he knew how much he had been slacking off at work. He hadn't meant to fall asleep. Really, he hadn't. It just seemed like the only time that he could get any sleep was when he was here.
He ran his fingers through his hair. His eyes scanned his desk at the paperwork that filled just about every inch of the surface. Things had just seemed to pile up lately. He was so good at getting everything done but recently it hadn't been that way. He had too many cases to deal with all at once. Didn't his father understand that?
His eyes found the picture sitting next to his computer. Anger swell inside of him and before he could stop himself, the picture slammed against the wall, shattering. He felt bad immediately and was on his knees lifting the picture up. He glanced at it again. Now, at least it seemed to look right, a happy family broken. The glass was cracked in the middle, the long line running through the whole frame. He took his time picking out the glass and tossing it into the trashcan. Once he was finished he sat back at his desk and buzzed for Carrie.
"You need something?"
"Can you bring me another frame? This one fell again," Nathan told her.
His eyes stayed glued to the picture and he regretted the anger he felt from before. The nightmare that had consumed his sleep was starting to get to him. He hated closing his eyes. He hated sleeping. Sleeping only brought on the nightmares and he didn't want to live any of those. It's why he was always so exhausted and tired. Then again, it's not like staying up helped matters.
Carrie walked into his office again and handed him a frame. He was sure that she was buying them in the bulk at the rate he had been breaking them. He placed the picture in the new frame as she bent over his desk and started fixing his files. Once he was finished he placed the picture right back where it had been for years now. It was only then that he noticed her breasts hanging out in front of him. He glanced at her exposed chest for only a second before quickly looking away. Guilt rushed through him. Before he could do something else stupid, he stood up and reached of his briefcase.
"Go home, Carrie," Nathan instructed.
"I don't mind hanging around and cleaning this up for you," Carrie smiled.
He shook his head before smiling. "You've done enough. Get out of here and go have some fun. I'll see you tomorrow."
"Ok," Carrie smiled back. Before he knew it she had her hand on his arm. "Call me if you need anything." Her hand rubbed his arm soothingly and he stood there waiting for her to stop. She did seconds later before leaving his office. He knew that she was just trying to be a good friend but it still felt wrong. It made him feel like he was doing something wrong. Before he could think about it further, he left his office and made his way to his Range Rover.
He took off slowly pulling away from the law firm that he shared with his father. The streets of Tree Hill were quiet and it wasn't long before he was parking his car. He got out slowly and started for the door. The shadow of his brother could be seen out the living room and he smiled. He let everything else leave him like always.
He didn't bother to knock. He walked right in and laughter filled his ears. His smile brightened at the sound of it. After this terrible day it was good to hear this.
"Hey, guys," Nathan greeted.
As if his son could fly, he jumped off the coffee table and into his arms. Nathan hugged him tight. His little red cape was secure around his neck as he pulled away and smiled at Nathan.
"Hey, Jimmy Jam. Did you have fun with Uncle Lucas today?"
Jamie nodded. "It was so cool. Uncle Lucas let me help with the team!"
"Is that right?" Nathan chuckled.
"He was great," Lucas grinned. "You should've seen him, Nate."
"Sorry, I missed it."
"The guys are so good, Daddy," Jamie rushed out with a grin. Nathan smiled before glancing at his brother. Lucas shook his head and Nathan chuckled. Lucas had been having trouble with the team lately. Lucas was trying to get the team ready for the start of the season but it was easier said than done.
"Look, who woke up."
Nathan glanced to his side as he heard his sister-in-laws voice. She was smiling brightly as she held her daughter in her arms. Just like always he felt a pang of sadness at the sight of her and along with it he felt guilty for even feeling that way. He knew that he had no right. But it was how he felt.
"Can I play with her?" Jamie questioned.
Lindsey walked over to him and bent down. "You sure can. Let's just set her up here." He watched as Jamie helped Lindsey place the baby blanket on the ground before she placed Lexi on it. Once Jamie started tickling the baby she started laughing, Nathan glanced away. He noticed his brother staring at him and he glanced at him for a second before quickly looking away. He didn't want to see that look from his brother. It was bad enough that he had gotten that look from just about everyone else. He didn't need that look from his brother, the one that said Lucas felt sorry for him.
"You like that huh, Lexi?" Lindsey cooed.
"Look she's pulling me finger," Jamie said excitedly as he grinned up at Lindsey. Nathan glanced down and noticed Lexi squeezing Jamie's finger with her hand as she tried hard to pull it to her mouth. She was so beautiful. Just like her mother. Lexi rolled herself over and started crawling. Once she reached the sofa she pulled herself up and started walking as she held onto the edge of it. Jamie held out his arms for her.
"Come on. Walk to me," Jamie said playfully. Lexi smiled before letting go and stumbling towards Jamie. She wasn't walking perfectly yet but she was trying. She made it to Jamie's arms a few seconds later and giggled loudly.
"Good girl," Lindsey smiled at her.
When he couldn't listen anymore, he took off for the porch. The cool night air felt good and he took a seat in one of the chairs as he glanced out into the darkness. Most days he could handle being here, being around them. He hardly ever got this way. But he couldn't keep it in all the time and why stay in there and torture himself? He didn't want to feel this way about his brother and his family. He loved Lucas. Lucas was his best friend. He had been his whole life. He was glad that his brother was finally happy.
Lucas and Lindsey had been married for two years now. She had been Lucas' editor and they had hit it off right away. The next thing Nathan knew his brother was in love once again. After seeing his brother down for so long, he was happy. Lindsey was great, perfect for Lucas. It didn't surprise him that they got married just a year after dating. They were happy and he was happy for them even if he couldn't bear to watch them sometimes. It had nothing to do with them. Really, it didn't.
It was minutes later when he heard his brother walk onto the porch and take a seat in the chair next to him. They sat in silence for minutes both just staring out into the night. He didn't know how many times over the last few months that they had done this. It had been a lot, he was sure of it. Lucas had this amazing way of being there for him whenever he needed it. It seemed like the last few months he had needed it more than ever.
"Yeah, I'm fine," Nathan replied quickly. He didn't need Lucas worrying about him. But even then he knew that Lucas would. He didn't know why he bothered lying anymore. Lucas always could read him like a book.
"How was work? Is it good being back?"
"Good," Nathan muttered. "I didn't realize how many cases had piled up on my desk with me gone. It seems impossible to catch up with it all."
"I sure hope so. I can't expect dad to handle everything."
"He understands," Lucas pointed out. "No one expects anything from you, Nate."
"Thanks again for taking care of Jamie for me," Nathan told him.
"We don't mind," Lucas grinned. "Lindsey loves having the company during the day. It's usually just her and Lex while I'm at work. We love having Jamie around. He makes things interesting. She took him to the park today. She said he had a lot of fun."
"That's good," Nathan smiled. It was good that Jamie was having fun. He needed for Jamie to be happy and having fun. It was the only thing that was keeping him together. If it hadn't been for Jamie then he'd be lost. Taking care of Jamie gave him something important to do so that he didn't feel useless.
The door opened and Lindsey poked her head out laughing. "You guys staying for dinner?"
"Not tonight," Nathan shook his head. "But thanks."
"You sure? We've got more than enough," Lindsey added.
"We should get home," Nathan apologized as he stood up. "But thanks for watching Jamie for me. It means a lot. I'll go get him. Thanks again." He left them standing on the porch together as he walked inside. Jamie was still lying on his stomach and playing with Lexi when he walked into the living room. He watched them for a second before lifting Jamie's bag in his hands. "You ready, buddy?"
"Yep," Jamie nodded. "Bye, Marshmallow." He leaned done and kissed Lexi's face as she started giggling. She reached for his face and tried to pull him back towards her but Jamie quickly stood up and smiled at her before waving.
"Marshmallow?" Nathan questioned with a chuckle.
Jamie grinned. "She's so fat like a giant marshmallow."
"I see," Nathan chuckled. "Let's get home, knuckle head." They said their goodbyes and left. Nathan took his time driving home. Before he knew it, they were pulling up to the huge house that they had lived in for years now. He pulled the car into the garage. He took a few seconds before turning off the car and getting out. Once he got Jamie out of his car seat, they started for the door. The inside of the house was gloomy just like he knew it would be. It had been so radiant before but now, it took everything in him to walk into the place. Still, it was their home.
"Did you have fun at the park today?"
"Yep," Jamie nodded. "I played with Lexi on the swings."
"That's great –" his words died on his lips as they made it to the hallway. The sight before him pulled his heart in a million different directions. He bent down and made Jamie face him instantly. "How about you go practice on your jump shot and I'll be back there in a few minutes to help you?"
"Sweet." Jamie dashed out of the living room, through the kitchen, and the out the back door. Once the door was closed he stood up slowly and made his way into the living room. He kneeled on the side of the sofa.
He brushed her long blonde locks from her face, the sight of her heavy on his heart. Her face was still red and puffy and he was certain that she cried herself to sleep. He swallowed the lump in his throat before lifting her in his arms like he did some many times in his life before. She snuggled into him instinctively, her body fitting perfectly into his arms, as her head fell on his shoulder. He carried her slowly up the stairs not wanting to wake her.
Once he reached their room he placed her on the bed reluctantly. Then he just sat next to her and watched her sleep. Reaching out, his hand brushed her cheek softly, wanting nothing more than for his touch to bring her back to life. When she leaned into his touch smiling, he felt a little piece of ice break around his heart. He knew she was only dreaming and it wasn't real. But still he continued to caress her cheek lovingly as she smiled in her sleep. He wondered what she was dreaming about. It was only in these moments that he could pretend that everything was right in the world.
In his mind he could easily see himself leaning down and kissing her. She would kiss him back and then he'd crawl under the covers with her and make love to her over and over again. He wanted that more than anything, but he knew it wasn't going to happen. He wanted to sit here and watch her. But reality set in and he had Jamie to think about.
"I love you so much," Nathan whispered.
Leaning down, he kissed her forehead softly before leaving the room hesitantly. Jamie was waiting for him in front of the small basketball goal that he had set up for him. They played together for thirty minutes and it was a lot of fun. With everything else in his life bad, he could always count on Jamie as a bright spot. No matter what they did, they had fun together. Jamie made him forget about everything else. It felt good.
When it was time for dinner they went inside. Jamie took a seat on the stool sweating heavily and breathing hard. Nathan placed a box of juice in front of him before going back to the refrigerator.
"You're not cooking again, huh, Daddy?" Jamie grimaced.
Nathan chuckled. "After what happened last time? I won't take any chances." So he wasn't a good cook. He couldn't help that. Maybe he'd take a cooking class. Lord knows that Jamie had eaten enough pizza over the last few months.
"Can we have pizza?"
Before he could answer there was a knock on the door. He took off to answer it. He wasn't surprised that it was mother-in-law standing there with a dish in her hands. He smiled before letting her in. She didn't say anything as she walked into the house and went straight to the kitchen. He took a seat.
"Grandma," Jamie grinned.
"I made your favorite," Karen smiled at him.
"Spaghetti?" Jamie asked excitedly.
"Yep," Karen nodded. "I'm sure you boys have been eating too much junk food."
She had her back to them and Nathan glanced at Jamie before placing his finger over his mouth for Jamie to be quiet. Jamie giggled before nodding. She placed two plates in front of them and they both instantly started eating. Nathan was happy that she had been taking care of them. They had been eating too much junk food. They were both used to eating home cooked meals every night. Karen had been feeding them pretty good in the last few months and when she didn't there was always pizza.
They ate in silence as Karen fixed another plate and a glass of water before disappearing upstairs. He hoped that she had better luck than he did. But she always seemed to do things better than him anyway. He finished eating and cleaned the kitchen. It wasn't long before Karen was standing next to him in front of the sink with an empty plate. She smiled at him and he was glad that she came by. It somehow made him feel better. Karen spent most of her days here as well when he wasn't home.
"Yep," Karen nodded. "She fell back asleep. I should head back home. Keith and Lily are waiting for me. See you tomorrow. I love you and get some rest. It looks like you haven't slept in days." She kissed his cheek and then made her way into the living room. He watched as she sat with Jamie and talked to him for a few minutes. Then she left them alone.
He sat down and watched cartoons with Jamie before taking Jamie upstairs to get ready for bed. After reading Jamie a book and tucking him in, he stayed and waited for Jamie to fall asleep just like he did every night. It wasn't long before Jamie was fast asleep and he left Jamie's room. He walked across the hall to their room and checked in on her. She was still sleeping. He wanted to crawl into bed with her but that would do no good. They had been sleeping separately for months now. This was her room. He walked reluctantly to the spare bedroom that he had been staying in.
He took a quick shower before crawling into bed. Like every night sleep didn't come. As soon as his eyes would close flashes of his nightmare would invade his mind and he didn't want to live it again. He hated the nightmare, hated how it consumed him, and he hated how real it felt, like it was glimpse of his future.
He knew the nightmare had nothing to do with her. It was him and his fear of letting go and giving up. That nightmare had been his biggest fear for months now and he didn't want it to come true. He didn't want to give up on his life. He knew that he never would. He would never give up on his marriage. She meant everything to him and he wasn't about to give up on that. She was just lost right now and so was he. He couldn't control that. As much as he wanted to save her he couldn't. He had tried. Nothing worked.
It wasn't long ago that they had been happy. They had been so happy. If you asked him they had the perfect life up until a few months ago when their whole world was shattered. Still, they had been through so much together and throughout it all they had been side by side, leaving home and starting their life together, college, stupid girls throwing themselves at him, guys always chasing her, law school, the loss of her bestfriend, their first child, moving back home…everything. They had always dealt with everything together. This was different he knew. Nothing in life had prepared them for what happened that fateful night over four months ago.
The sound of glass shattering broke him out of his thoughts. He stayed in bed listening as the breaking of things continued. This was nothing new nor surprising. It happened often and unlike before he knew that trying to make her stop was pointless. She'd only take her anger out on him and he just didn't feel like dealing with it right now. It had been a long hard day and he just didn't need her lashing out at him. He blamed himself enough and he knew that she did, too.
The sound of Jamie running down the hall filled his ears and he opened up the covers just in time for Jamie to jump into bed with him. Jamie snuggled up close to him and Nathan could feel his heart pounding hard in his chest. He didn't know why he bothered to put Jamie in his own bed these days. Jamie always ended up in bed with either him or Haley. Lately, it had been him. He held Jamie tight until he fell back asleep. He waited until Jamie was sound asleep before getting out of bed and walking quietly down the hall. He could feel his heart beating rapidly as he made it all the way down the hall to the last room on the right.
He stood in the doorway not wanting to take a step further into the room. But like always he pushed through his own selfish pain and made it into the room trying his best not to look at anything but her. She was asleep again in the rocking chair. It's where she spent most of her nights and days even. He wanted nothing more than to carry her back to bed but it was pointless. She'd just end up back here.
Reaching down for the small quilt, he placed it over her body.
He had been told by everyone that she just needed time. He wanted to believe them but somehow he just couldn't. They weren't the ones that watched the life drain right out of her eyes. They had no idea what it was like to watch the person you love most in the world just give up and stop…living. That's exactly what she had been doing, giving up. Every time their eyes locked now it tore him up on the inside. Those beautiful brown eyes that used to be filled with so much life now held nothing. They were hollow, just like she was. As much as he hated to admit it, it was the truth. His wife was gone and this shell of a person was left. All he wanted was for her to come back.
Didn't she know how much he needed her? Didn't she know that he couldn't live without her?
Tears spilled from his eyes and he had to get out of here. Being in this room always did that to him. He stood up and left the room.
It wasn't long before he made it to the beach across town. He had run as fast as he could here just like he did most nights. He made it to his spot before burying his feet in the sand and glancing at the calming waves crashing onto the shore. He buried his hands in his pockets as he took in the beautiful sight. This was his favorite place in the world and the only place that calmed him recently. He found being here soothing. It was their place. It held some of their best memories from better times. It was the first place he'd seen her and where he fell in love with her and it's where they married. They stood in the very spot he was standing in now and they vowed forever.
He didn't care if that nightmare was a glimpse into his future. There was no way that he was giving up on his wife. He vowed always and forever and he wasn't planning on giving up on that anytime soon. He would save her from this. He would bring her back for Jamie and for himself. They needed her. No matter what it took, he'd put them back together. He didn't have a choice. He loved her too much not to at least try. He wasn't giving up on them.
"Always and forever," Nathan whispered into the darkness of the night.