Disclaimer: I don't own One Tree Hill or its characters. It belongs to Mark Schwahn and the CW. The title is based on the song by Leona Lewis.
Summary: Sequel to More Than Anyone. After five years of marriage, Nathan and Haley are still going strong. They've got their dream jobs, wonderful family and friends, more money than they could possibly ever need, and, most of importantly, each other. But as life often proves, nothing can ever stay perfect for long.
Author's Note: Hey everyone, it's finally here! I know you've all been waiting for this story for a long time. Thank you all for your patience. I wanted to make sure that this story was close to finished and the best it possibly could be before I posted it. I'd also like to say a very special thank you to Ashly for all of her input and help with this fic. You're the best! I hope that you guys will really enjoy this sequel and the continuation of Naley's story from the world I created in MTA. So without further ado, please read and tell me what you think!
June 29, 2012
Nathan watched his wife's face carefully. She hadn't said anything in the last couple of minutes, and the way she was biting her lip was making him a bit nervous. He figured that she would be a little shocked after his announcement, but he hoped that she would understand. In fact, he knew she would. She always supported him no matter what. She just needed some time to process it all. That was it.
"Hales," Nathan said after another moment of silence passed. "Say something."
"I don't know what to say."
"Well, what are you thinking?"
She bit her lip again and looked down at her hands. He noticed her twirling her wedding band around her finger. That wasn't usually a good sign.
"Is this a definite thing? Is it really going to happen?"
"Yes," he answered.
Haley shook her head. "I don't know."
"What do you mean you don't know?"
"I…I can't," she stated. "We can't."
"We can't go through with this."
"I don't understand." Nathan let her words register in his mind. He still wasn't quite sure what she meant. "Haley, we don't really have a choice."
"I wanted to tell you this before. I was going to tell you about this before…well, all of this stuff happened. But it never seemed like the right time and then I just sort of pushed it to the back of my mind and—"
"Haley, you're rambling. What's going on?"
"Nathan, I don't want to go," she repeated.
"Haley, what are you talking about? You knew that this would happen eventually."
"Yes, I knew, but it's not what I wanted. And I certainly didn't expect this new development. This completely changes things, Nathan."
"No, it doesn't."
"Yes, it does, Nathan. It changes everything."
"Haley, this is my career we're talking about," he reminded her. He couldn't believe the words coming out of her mouth. He hadn't seen this coming at all.
"I know that. And you know that I've always supported you. But I can't pretend this time that it doesn't affect me."
"'This time'?" he repeated. "Meaning you didn't like it the last time?"
"What exactly have you been pretending to feel, Haley?" he bit out.
"Nathan, please don't be angry. I didn't mean it like that."
"No, I think that's exactly how you meant it. And apparently you've been lying to me about your feelings for the last three years. So yeah, I think I have the right to be angry at the moment." He stood up and faced the wall while running his hand through his hair.
"Nathan, all I'm saying is that this place has always felt like home to me. And for a while I was able to forget how much I missed it. But now…"
"Now what?" he prodded.
"Now it's not so easy. Now I know where I belong. Where we belong. It's right here."
He turned to face her. "I can't believe I'm hearing this. I can't believe you're telling me this now."
"I'm sorry, but I can't lie."
"You could before."
"I didn't lie," Haley objected. "I was so happy for you. I was so proud of you. I wanted you to have everything you worked so hard for."
"And now you want to take it all away. Is that it?" Nathan accused.
"Of course not. But if we do this, then I'm not going to be happy. Don't you think I matter in any of this?"
"It's not that simple, Nathan," she argued, "and you know it."
"What do you want me to do, Haley? Huh?" he challenged, his voice rising. "This is my team we're talking about. We're building something. I can't turn my back on it."
"And what about me, Nathan? I'm your wife. What about our family? Doesn't that matter at all to you?" Haley threw back, her volume matching his. She stood up, as well.
"Of course it does. But I thought everything was fine up until a couple of minutes ago. Now you've turned everything upside down and backwards."
"Oh, so you can make big life changes for us, but I can't tell you how I feel?"
"It's a feeling, Haley. It'll pass, and you'll get over it. You're just overwhelmed."
"Yes, I'm overwhelmed! You just came to tell me instead of discussing it with me first. Of course that's upsetting!"
"Well, it's not my fault, since I thought you were okay with everything. I'm so sorry I'm not a mind reader!"
"Well, now you know," she shouted.
"It doesn't change the fact that we have to go along with this."
"No, we don't. There are other options out there for you, Nathan."
"I don't want any other options."
"Why are you being so stubborn? Why won't you even consider just—"
"Because what you're asking me to do could put my whole career in jeopardy!"
"So I don't matter at all? Gee, thanks, Nathan. That's really great."
"Don't put this on me."
"You're the one apparently making all of the decisions here. And since you're doing so well on your own, why don't you just go on without me!"
"Maybe I will!" Nathan yelled back.
Haley suddenly turned her back to him. But not before Nathan saw the unshed tears glistening in her eyes. He heard her sniffle a moment later. "Excuse me," she said and left the room.
Nathan flinched when he heard the bathroom door slam down the hall. He took a seat on the couch and placed his head in his hands. It's not like he'd been all that thrilled about the news he'd received earlier, but he was dealing with it. He had to. So many people were counting on him, and there was also his condition to consider. That had changed everything.
Then there was Haley. Nathan thought that she'd be surprised and maybe a little bit upset. He never expected the reaction that she'd had, though. He had absolutely no idea that she was so deeply attached to this place. She loved it; Nathan knew that. But he'd also been under the impression that she was happy before they came here. To find out the opposite was true now was a blow.
Nathan sighed. What the hell was he supposed to do now? He sat there for a while, thinking about it. It wasn't until he noticed the sun setting that he realized he hadn't heard Haley come out of the bathroom. Instantly he felt somewhat guilty. Despite everything he shouldn't have gotten her so upset. The stress wasn't good for her.
Nathan stood up and made his way down the hall. He knocked on the bathroom door gently. "Haley," he called. There was no answer. "Haley, open up."
He listened carefully but heard nothing. Normally he would assume that she was giving him the silent treatment. Considering he couldn't hear any crying or sniffling, it struck him as odd.
"Hales," Nathan repeated and knocked on the door. He heard a faint sound, almost like a whimper. "Haley?"
Nathan heard it again but louder. His whole body went rigid at her tone. Haley didn't sound sad or angry. She sounded like she was…in pain.
"Haley," he called, panicked, and opened the door. It was unlocked. He stepped inside and froze at the sight. "Oh my God."
It was raining outside. The sound of the water droplets could be heard against the building along with the slight rumbling of thunder in the sky. Nathan sighed and placed his head in his hands. As much as he usually loved the rain, nothing could make him feel better right now.
"Are you okay?"
Nathan recognized the voice instantly. He looked up to make sure that he wasn't hearing things; anything was possible at this point. Just as he thought, his brother Lucas was standing in front of him. "I really wish everyone would stop asking me that," Nathan mumbled.
"I'll take that as a no." Lucas sat in the seat beside him.
Nathan watched as a group of doctors and nurses passed by, tending to someone on a stretcher. They disappeared behind the ER doors. How he wished he could follow them. He needed to know what was going on. His whole life and everything he held dear were beyond those double doors.
"It's going to be okay, Nathan," Lucas said.
"I'm glad you think so."
"No offense, Luke, but I'm not in the mood for one of your pep talks right now," he cut him off. "You're the last person who should be giving advice to anyone." As soon as the words left his mouth, Nathan regretted them.
Lucas looked down at the ground with a resigned expression on his face. "I guess you're right."
Nathan sighed. "Look, I'm sorry. I didn't mean that. I'm just…I can't think straight at the moment."
"Have you heard anything?" Lucas asked quietly.
"No," he answered with a shake of his head. The different scenarios started to replay over in his mind. Nathan could feel the tears building behind his eyes and held them back. Crying wouldn't do him any good now. "All I know is that this shouldn't be happening. It's all wrong."
"We don't know anything yet."
"You didn't see it happen. You didn't see how she looked. You weren't there." The anguish in his voice was potent.
"Haley's a strong woman. If anyone can get through something like this, it's her," Lucas encouraged.
"God, Luke, I don't know what to do." He ran a shaky hand through his hair. "If anything happens to her or—"
"Don't think like that. Okay? Don't make yourself sick until you know what's going on for sure."
Nathan placed his head in his hands, once again. It was all too much to take. Life never seemed to get any easier no matter how much time passed. "Have you ever had someone who was the best part of you?"
Lucas was silent for a moment. "Yes."
"You ever lose them?"
He drew in a shaky breath. "Yes."
Nathan glanced away when he noticed the pained expression on his brother's face. "Well, it doesn't have to be permanent for you," he said. "I'm surprised you're even here."
"I guess when something like this happens, it…well…it tends to put things into perspective," Lucas stated.
Nathan met his gaze and nodded in understanding. "Yeah, it does." He then added a second later, "Brooke's here."
That seemed to pique Lucas's interest. "Where?"
"She and Karen went to get some coffee and food. They'll probably be back soon."
"Oh." Nathan could tell that his brother was trying his best not to look like he cared. But it was obvious that the opposite was true.
The two were silent for a couple of minutes. Nathan watched the ER doors intently. He sat up in his chair when they opened, but the disappointment soon set in when a random nurse walked out.
"God, I hate hospitals," he muttered. Everything was so white and unsettling. All of these sick people in one place was depressing.
"Me, too," Lucas said.
"This is all my damn fault."
"Why would you say that?"
Nathan couldn't help but think about everything that had happened over the last several months. Everything had just kept building up. Today seemed to be the culmination of it all. "I'd rather not go into it right now."
Lucas nodded and let it go.
Several minutes passed until Nathan finally spotted the doctor. She was heading toward him. He felt a wave of relief followed by another bout of anxiety. Whatever she was about to tell him did not look like good news.