Title: Little Wonders
Author: Kristen (KLafferty6)
Summary: Haley James finds herself pregnant and unwed about the same time Nathan Scott shows up on her doorstep. When he proposes a marriage of convenience, can she go along with the elusive loner's plan without getting her heart involved? Can he? NH.
Rating: M (in later chapters)
A/N: This story is inspired by a book called Heard it Through the Grapevine which I absolutely love and read on a far too frequent basis, so if the plot seems familiar to anyone at all, it has been based off of this magnificent book. It was just too wonderful not to use for Naley. This is the first multi-chapter fic I've started in who knows how long, so bear with me. I'm hoping to update once a week, if not twice a week. Thanks to my sister for the title suggestion and overall encouragement and support, you're a rockstar Moll.
*IMPORTANT* Also, I want to let everyone who may have me on alert (if that's anyone at all) know that I will be changing my account name from oth. daddy's. girl. 06 to Klafferty6 here in the near future. Just don't want to cause any confusion.
That word was playing on loop in her head as she stared down an the stick in her hand, thinking maybe if she squinted hard enough the blue would turn to pink. When it didn't, she slowly lowered herself to the floor of the small, dank bathroom in her tiny one bedroom house that shook as the rain and thunder rumbled on outside.
Twenty-three. She'd waiting twenty-three years before she found someone she thought was special enough to give herself to and she ends up knocked up straight out of the gate. Her brothers always did tell her she was an over achiever. She looked back down at the stick in her hand, glaring through hot tears, as it only seemed to only get bluer. It was then that it hit her, the enormity of the situation. Haley James, the unwed, only daughter of a preacher who had yet to receiver her college degree was pregnant. And with that, the tears began to fall. She was going to have a baby - she was going to have a little life completely dependent on her, the thought scared the shit out of her. It's not that she didn't like kids, or want kids; but this is not at all how she pictured it happening. Cart before the horse indeed.
She continued to sit there; sad and scared and miserable. She was pretty much sure things could not get any worse than this.
And then, with another loud clap of thunder…the lights went out and the house went completely dark. She sat there for a minute, a pitiful, pathetic whimpering noise emitting from her even as she turned her tear stained face up to the proverbial skies and grumbled a few choices words to the man upstairs. Rising slowly from her spot on the floor, she walked blindly through the small house towards the living room.
"Damn couch." She grumbled when she caught her knee on the offensive piece of furniture. With hands spread wide, she moved them in front of her, fumbling around the coffee table until she had successfully grabbed the large candle and lighter she kept there. Successfully lighting the candle she looked around her, everything untouched by the light bathed in darkness. She couldn't seem to find the energy to move around the house, lighting the other candles she kept mainly as decorative purposes so she moved back towards the couch, jumping in surprise and cursing as wax hit her hand when a rapping knock echoed through her small home.
He sat in the vehicle, fingers tapping repeatedly against the steering wheel as he peered through the rain at the house that appeared to be completely dark inside. He knew she had to be home; her old, piece of crap car was in the drive way and he knew if she had any of the sense she was born with she was smarter than to go walking at night, in the rain in this neighborhood. Hell, you'd be hard pressed to get him to walk around this neighborhood in broad daylight. If he had three guesses they'd all be that the power went out with the storm. In fact, he wouldn't have been surprised if he pulled up and the damn thing had just given in and collapsed all together. Granted, she had the nicest house this side of the campus but -he noted- taking in the neglected yard and weathered woodwork, that really wasn't saying much. With a sigh he climbed out of his truck and made his way to the house, frowning as the porch creaked from under him as he stepped on to it.
He swore to himself every time he came here it would be the last. He had better things he could do with his time and she certainly didn't want to be checked up on like a child. But Lydia James was nothing if not persistent and he'd always felt as if he owed them something – everything - and if checking up on Haley every now and then paid back even the smallest fraction of debt he felt he owed to them, then he figured he could suck it up and do it.
The porch groaned again as he stepped up to the door, and that odd, but vaguely familiar feeling started swimming around in his stomach. He knocked, only to be met with silence, and that feeling in the pit of his stomach only swam faster. He hated that feeling, wasn't well acquainted with it – except for when it came to her.
He knocked again, even louder, his frown deepening as there was still no answer. He glanced behind him, double-checking that yes, her car was actually there. He then remembered it was a Friday, maybe she was out on a date. And then he wished he hadn't remembered as a wave of memories rushed out at him.
He shook his head furiously as if trying to physically rid them from his head, playing in his mind's eye like an old movie he'd seen more times than he'd ever admit. As soon as he left the James' house at eighteen, he didn't think he'd ever have to be haunted by her again– until Lydia called a year ago asking him to keep tabs on her baby girl when she'd moved from Tree Hill Community College to UNC – Charlotte. Much as she loved her daughter, Lydia James knew all too well how naïve her innocent, kind-hearted daughter could be and she'd been protected all her life by loving parents and four older brothers, Lydia insisted there was no reason for that to stop with Nathan living so close.
Again he knocked; half afraid, half hoping the sad excuse for a front door would just give way against his fist. Finally he heard the sound of footsteps from inside before her quiet voice called out.
"Who is it?"
He sighed. "It's Nathan." He waited a beat, hearing nothing from the other side of the door. "Haley J?"
"What do you want?" she asked, her voice sounding strained and tired. That feeling in his stomach went from swimming to churning. Something was wrong.
"Open the door Haley." He demanded, trying the handle only to find it locked.
"What?" now she sounded tired and pissed. Great. "Nathan, I'm fine. I was sleeping."
"Haley James I'm about two seconds away from knocking this damn door down so either you let me in or move out of the way." He threatened, knowing she was standing on the other side with her arms crossed in defiance, a fierce stubbornness in her expression that he'd always admired and hated all at the same time.
"Nathan Scott, don't you dare!" She huffed back, rolling her eyes at his persistence. There used to be a time when he couldn't get away from her fast enough, now he wouldn't leave her the hell alone.
"Open the damn door Haley." He answered with a dead calm he didn't feel at all. "Or we'll be replacing it with a new one tomorrow."
He couldn't control the smirk that crossed his face as he heard her let out a grunt of exasperation, throwing open the locks before barely cracking the door open. He could hardly see her through the dark, a dim glow from a candle bouncing off of her face.
"It's dark in there Hales." He stated, deciding to go with the obvious. She was already pissed; might as well have a little fun with it.
"Well thank you for that astute observation Sherlock." she snarked; clearly not in the mood for his teasing. "The power went out about ten minutes ago, and like I said, I was sleeping."
"It's 830 on a Friday night Haley, what are you, 80?" he once again teased.
"Haha." She deadpanned. "You can go now."
"You came to check on me right?" she asked, watching through the dark as he nodded, though she already knew the answer. She complained to her mother every time they spoke that she didn't need a babysitter and she certainly didn't need Nathan Scott checking in on her and her mother would always say she'd stay out of it, but it never failed, a few days later, he would show up on her porch grumpy and looking liked he'd rather be anywhere else. "Well now you've seen me. You can tell my mother I'm fine. Goodnight Nathan."
She moved to close the door, but he was too fast for her, sticking his foot in the open space.
"Nathan, damnit!" she exclaimed, and though he couldn't see her face all that well, he just knew she was glaring at him.
"Now Haley James, I've known you since you were just a ten year old pain in my ass and I can count on one hand the number of times I've seen you be rude and curse at someone. Something's bothering you, let me in."
She stood there looking at him, half tempted to raise her fist to the skies and shake it angrily at the heavens. Though she always complained to her mother, she didn't hate him checking in on her nearly as much as she led on. She liked seeing him, grumpy and uncomfortable as he may be, she liked knowing he was doing well, that he was okay. He may have thought he was just checking in on her, but Haley was almost certain her mother was trying to keep tabs on the both of them. But right now? Right now Nathan Scott was the last person she wanted to see.
He stood there looking at her, knowing without really seeing that she was eyeing him warily. She'd never been so put off from one of his visits before, normally ushering him in, offering him coffee or a meal, making him feel uncomfortably at home the way the James' had always managed to do. He sighed when she made no attempt to open the door any further.
"Okay look Hales. It's me or your mother. I'd hate for her to have to drive down here so late at night but –"
"You wouldn't dare."
"Oh try me." He warned. A smile tugging at the corner of his mouth as she slid the chain lock free and let him in.
"There, was that so hard?" he smirked at her, shutting the door behind him. He watched as she stepped further into the living room, the lights graciously flickering back on. Her face was turned from him, her short chocolate-colored locks acting as a shield as she looked down, seemingly studying the pink polish on her tiny feet. His eyes worked down her body, taking in the hunter green UNCC t-shirt she wore that appeared to be several sizes too large as it hung past her denim clad thighs. It always amazed him - though he'd hardly admit it to himself - how she managed to look gorgeous without even trying. Insisting on coming inside was starting to become a bad idea, he realized, tugging at the tie still noosed around his neck.
"So what's going on Haley?" he asked simply, watching as she shrugged, her gaze never leaving her feet.
"Nothing, I was sleeping I told you."
"In jeans?" he questioned.
"No, I tugged them on when you knocked on the door." She lied.
Fighting to keep that image out of his mind he decided he'd stop discussing anything having to do with her and a bed and less clothing.
"Since you don't appear to be leaving, would you like something to drink? I can get you coffee?" she asked, briefly raising her eyes to his, unable to prevent the gasp when she saw the concern swirling in his blue eyes.
Before she could even make a move, he pulled her to him, hands braced on her shoulders so she wouldn't move as he took in her face properly for the first time since she'd opened the door. Her pretty face was tear-stained and red, her normally radiant brown eyes seemed dull and there were tears pooling in them. He was immediately overcome with rage, knowing she'd been hurt, automatically wanting to kill the person that so much as looked at her the wrong way. He might not have ever liked it, but he'd always been fiercely protective of her, from the time she was a pig-tail wearing pain in the ass to now when standing too close to her was painful in an entirely different way.
"Nathan…" she whispered, not sure what, if anything, she was going to say. She'd immediately noticed the way his eyes darkened in anger as he looked at her, her eyes following his as they traveled over her face.
"Tell me what's wrong Haley." He demanded tightly, sighing as she shook her head in protest. Leading her to the couch, he sat down next to her, grabbing on to her hand to insure that she wouldn't dart off. "C'mon Haley J, tell me. You'll feel better when you do."
"Nathan, just leave it be." She pleaded quietly, though she was sure it was in vain.
"No can do, sorry." He retorted simply. Eyebrow arched expectantly as he waited for her to give in. He once again, sat there watching her, clenching his jaw as her tears spilled over, trailing down her already stained face. He reached out before thinking about it, wiping gently at her cheeks with the back of his hand, tracing his thumb softly down the line of her jaw. Her tears once again bringing back those unwanted memories he'd fought away while standing on her porch.
He'd gone to the James' one summer, after weeks of Lydia demanding he come 'home' even as he insisted that was not his home. He was twenty-one, fresh out of junior college that he'd manage to struggle his way through, living in a shabby one bedroom apartment. He hadn't been back 'home' since he left at eighteen, only calling to check in every few months to assure Lydia and Jimmy he was alive. He expected to go back and have it be like a time warp, a scrawny fourteen year old Haley annoying and fascinating him at the same time as Jimmy and Lydia fussed over him while the boys acted as if he'd never been gone. And it was, except for Haley being scrawny and annoying and fourteen. He didn't know why it didn't occur to him, but over the three years he was gone, Haley had grown up to. Gone was the braces wearing, goofy kid that was constantly trying to make him a better person, make him part of their family. She'd been replaced with a beautifully developed seventeen year old young woman, poised and matured and sweeter than ever.
He'd stayed for a few weeks, spending time with her parents, assuring Lydia that he was doing well, playing football with her brothers, falling back into routine with her. Annoying though she may have been, he'd always considered her his best friend. His last night in town they'd driven to the Rivercourt, sitting in the bed of his old beat up truck, looking at the stars and talking about nothing in particular. He remembered her turning to him, softly whispering three words before her mouth landed on his, pushing sweet, chaste kisses to his surprised, yet cooperating lips. He let himself get caught up in the moment for a few seconds –admittedly longer than he should have – before pushing her away from him with gruff words and a cold stare, hoping she didn't see the want he was furiously trying to tamp down. She'd cried then, crushed and embarrassed, and he swore to himself right then and there he'd never hurt her again. He left Tree Hill as soon as the sun rose that next morning, hugging Jimmy and Lydia goodbye, shaking hands with the boys before glancing at her. Her eyes wouldn't meet his and his heart broke, though he knew he'd done the right thing in refusing her. He owed Jimmy and Lydia everything; he wouldn't tarnish his appreciation and gratitude towards them by lusting after their good, innocent, perfect only daughter.
He shook his head, bringing himself out of his thoughts as his eyes found hers again, once again frowning at the tears that fell from them.
"Tell me why you're crying Hales." he pushed again softly. "Are you sick?"
She shook her head, a small whimper escaping her lips at his mumbled 'Oh thank God.'
"No." she shook her head again. "It's nothing like that Nathan. Look there's nothing you can do, no point in you fussing over it."
"Do you need money? I know things are still a little tight after Jimmy's surgery."
"No!" she exclaimed, looking completely exasperated and scared. If she thought snapping at him was going to make him drop it she had another thing coming.
He sat there, mentally checking off the things on his list that would make this normally happy girl so sad that she was sitting in the dark crying. He'd just talk to Lydia so he knew the family was fine, she wasn't sick or doing poorly in school or struggling for cash, so…
"Is this about a guy?" he asked, jaw clenching at the sheer thought of a guy treating her like anything short of a princess. She shrugged, and he knew that was his answer. He half expected steam to billow out of his ears he was so livid. "Want me to call your brothers and go beat him up?"
"I'm afraid the damage has been done regardless." She said. "Plus you guys would kill him."
"I don't know that we'd kill him. Maim him for sure, but killing him is a bit extreme. But it depends, what did he do?"
She started to squirm but he held on to her hand tighter.
"Nathan, let me up." She requested softly, prying his fingers from her hand even as he shook his head in response.
"Do you want to know what's wrong?" she asked, finally acquiescing to the fact that she wasn't going to get rid of him. People were going to find out eventually, might as well get it out in the open now. She watched as he nodded and gave her a look that said 'Duh.'
"Then you need to let me up." She told him, freeing her hand gently before signaling she'd be right back, going into the bathroom to retrieve the pregnancy test box she'd haphazardly tossed to the floor when opening it.
Returning to the living room, she sat back in her spot, wordlessly handing him the box. He stared at it, hesitantly taking it from her hands as his eyes reconnected with hers. He watched as she shrugged helplessly, a sad smile on her face.
"Haley." He said softly, not sure of what to say. "How – how did this happen?"
She laughed light, hollow laugh. "Nathan, I highly doubt that's a conversation I need to have with you."
"Yeah. No, I mean, was it, are you -?"
"The stick turned blue Nathan, yeah." She answered, knowing what he was trying to ask her. She'd be amused by his inability to find words if there was anything about this situation to find humor in.
"And blue is – that means…?" he asked, his eyes glancing from the box that he fumbled from hand to hand to her eyes.
"Yeah, Nathan. Blue means baby." She shrugged again helplessly. "I'm pregnant."