Disclaimer: These characters are in no way, shape, or form mine. I am simply playing with the beautiful creations of someone else's brilliant mind.

A/N: I am a freaking huge Naley fan and even wrote a fic about them, though even I will admit it wasn't very good. But ever since Clay came into the picture last season this story has been nagging me so I figured I would just write it so I could be at peace and move on. So please don't hate me, here is my first pretty extremely short (and maybe, maybe not last) Clayley story. Hope you enjoy.

A Footnote in Their Love Story

Clay sat down in Quinn's room, in a house that most of the time felt more like home than the beach house he currently occupied. He momentarily allowed himself to wonder how healthy that was, but stopped when he remembered that sometimes he had conversations, hell entire weekends full of conversations, with his dead wife.

After a few moments lost in thought and the beer that he held in his hand his eyes raked over this familiar room. So much in it reminded him of the girl that he had promised Nathan, and himself, that he would fall insanely madly in love with. It all said, Quinn; the clothes strewn about that reminded him of how they clinged to her soft, beautiful skin in all the right places, the perfume that lingered, the camera sitting idly by on the nightstand.

But then his gaze fell on a picture. A simple photograph he knew she must have taken because it captured the beauty, grace, and simple happiness of the moment it displayed. It was Nathan, Haley, and Jamie lost in a moment of happiness. Nothing exceptional was happening. It wasn't of the night Nathan's team had won the NBA finals a few months ago, or the weekend they had all taken Jamie to Disney World, it was simply a stolen moment of a family playing a video game, smiles etched across each of their faces.

Clay thought he remembered that moment though. It was a few months after they had gotten back from Julian's movie premiere. They had just finished a family dinner and he was cleaning up the table. He heard the laughter before he looked up and saw them. They were what he imagined to be the perfect family; Nathan, the strong, handsome protector, who was funny and genuine and just truly loved his family. Jamie was that adorably, funny kid that every father looks at proudly, the kind of kid that makes you believe in the future again. And then there was Haley. A few months pregnant and looking happier than he could ever remember seeing anyone else look in their entire life. She was beautiful, smart, talented, and most importantly exceptionally kind hearted. And it was in that moment that he realized, more so than he had before, that they made him believe in true love and happily ever afters. They gave him hope. It was also in that moment, however, that he realized a little piece of his heart that he knew really should be reserved for Quinn, Nate, or Jamie, belonged to Haley James Scott. Good, bad, or completely ridiculous, a part of him wished he had met her first, while another part of him, the part that got to witness moments like that, was so incredibly glad he didn't.

"Are you hiding from the creepy clown too?" a voice he instantly recognized questioned, jolting him from his brief trip down memory lane.

"Totally, did you see the way it was eyeballin' me?" he joked back looking at her and feeling instantly guilty for the way his heart was lifted, even if it was only a bit, by her bright smile.

"Oh yeah, definitely. You better watch out," she smiled sitting next to him.

"Hey, I'm serious, have you ever heard the story of the clown and the babysitter." Clay joked, laughing when she playfully slapped him.

"Tell me and Jamie will be very sad his Uncle Clay isn't allowed to come over anymore!"

"Fine, so how is the little guy? Having a good time at his birthday extravaganza?" he questioned, genuinely hoping it was his best birthday party yet!

"He is having an amazing time. Last I checked Nathan was playing basketball with him in the pool, literally, I think Jamie was the ball. And I'm sure Quinn was glad that Zoe finally went to sleep so she can sneak out and join them. And did you know my baby boy is eight years old, Clay. Gosh, I'm so old!" she shrieked and even though she was kind of joking, he could see that a part of her was actually a bit sad. He allowed himself to be briefly marveled at the incredible passing of time. Jamie was six when he had first met them.

"Hales, chill out. You are not old, you are twenty-five! Most people are fresh out of college, searching for a career, getting drunk and having crazy one night stands, you just happen to be the rockstar wife of an NBA star, with 2 amazing kids and a kick ass body," when she raised her eyebrows at him he added, "for a mom."

"Gee thanks."

"And Jamie is eight, not eighteen. You still have quite a few years of him being your little boy, and then a lifetime of him worshiping the ground you walk on for being the coolest mom ever so take a deep breath and remember, kick ass body."

She smiled at him in a way that he knew should be reserved only for Nathan, and the fact that he was his best friends made him feel awful. But a little bit alive. He shouldn't have enjoyed it as much when she leaned over and hugged him.

"Thanks Clay, you and Nathan always know how to make me feel better. Even if it is sometimes in a very perverted, man-ish sort of way!" she smiled making a motion to get up.

"Haley, can I ask you something?"


"Well I know its stupid and pointless to ask, and I hope you don't think I'm completely awful because I really do love your sister so much more than words can express, but do you think if Nathan wasn't a part of the equation and we had met, would you have given me a backward glance?" he knew that on some level Haley had always known that a part of him saw her in the way a man sees a woman, not just in the way a friend sees a friend.

She looked over and smiled at him in that way that made his heart ache a little bit as she brought her hand up to brush his cheek.

"Who knows, maybe even two." She leaned over and kissed his cheek, "Now how about we get back to the party. After all it isn't every day a kid turns eight, you know."

And as they walked back into the party Clay knew that he would never be anything more than a footnote in the incredible love story of Nathan and Haley Scott, and he was actually really okay with that.

Well that is it. As you can it isn't really a Clay/Haley story as much as it is a Clay realizes he can never have Haley, because Naley is perfect story. If that makes sense. Anyway it popped into my head, I wrote it, you read it. If you want, tell me your thoughts.