Into the Fire

Summary: Nathan joins Haley at the burning boat ceremony.

I'm not even going to talk about how horrible 9x12 was but here's a oneshot based off that episode. 9x12 sort of ruined my mojo a bit, I finally hit a stride of writing and then 9x12 happened and the breaks went in lol. But this is finale week and gosh only a few more days and the show is gone. I've mostly the next chapter Suffer and I'm going through that with a little bit more of a critical eye and will post that soon. But in the mean time enjoy and please review!


"That fire ain't warming you up?"

Haley rolled her eyes and unwrapped her arms from herself. The last thing she needed was some a-hole hitting on her tonight.

"Listen," Haley turned her attention from the burning boat to face, "Nathan.. oh My God, what're you doing here?" Haley threw her arms around her husband.

Nathan chuckled and hugged her back, his arms eventually resting around her waist.

"I missed my girl."

"I missed you too." Haley leaned up and kissed him. "But you didn't have to end your camping trip so early. I know Jamie was looking forward to it."

"Well, after everything that happened, camping in the woods turned out not to be a good idea, especially since Lucas was standing guard with the shotgun my mom insisted we bring. We ended up just going back to the house and setting up camp in the backyard."

Haley chuckled.

"Yeah and then my mom is the one standing guard with the shot gun." Nathan shook his head. "I had to convince her that two kids are in the house so she should put the it away."

Haley looked on amused. Everyone was so worried when Nathan went missing, it was only right that everyone became so protective. Deb had offered to just stay at home with Lydia while Haley did the boat burning festival. Deb insisted that she wanted to spend some personal time with her grand daughter. With Dan gone, Jamie really needed his dad and it was great that Lucas flew back as well. Even though Lucas never forgave Dan for what he did to Keith, Dan did bring his brother back and over the years and even with Lucas moving away from Tree Hill, Lucas and Nathan remained close. She was so happy he decided to join them and she knew that the men in her family needed the bonding time together, in their own way to grieve over Dan and move on from it. It actually warmed her heart to see that each of them, Nathan, Jamie and Lucas needed each other during this time. With Jamie, outside of his dad, his Uncle Lucas and Dan were his next strongest male influences. Nathan wanted to be there for Jamie, feeling partly guilty for keeping Dan away from Jamie and even though he didn't say it much, Haley knew Nathan missed his brother. Over the years, Nathan really relied on Lucas as his big brother. It started in high school when he helped Nathan out with the messes Nathan got himself in, finally leading up to going to Gilmore with them to help raise Jamie. And when Nathan joined the NBA, it was Lucas who managed him and recruited Clay to be his agent before moving out of town. For Lucas, Nathan was the family he never had growing up and even though Lucas has his own family now, herself, Nathan and Jamie held a special place in his heart. He helped raise Jamie as one of his own and looked after Nathan only a big brother can and she knew it pained him that he couldn't do more to help Nathan when he went missing.

"Besides, Luke and Jamie kicked me out anyway because I kept looking at my phone to see if you texted me. I told them I'd be back later to roast some marshmallows."

Haley laughed. "Well I'm glad you're here."

"Me too but I'm sorry I missed you speech."

"It's okay.. I ended up just forgetting everything I was going to say and just lit the damn boat on fire."

Nathan laughed. "I actually wanted to come here and burn this." Nathan reached inside his pocket and pulled out a bunch of business cards.

"Those are your business card for the agency." Haley commented.

"Yeah. I'm not going to need it anymore."

Nathan pulled away and walked towards the boat. The flames weren't too big yet and so he was able to get close enough and throw all of them in there.

"You're leaving the agency? What about Clay?"

"No offense to Clay but I could really care less at this point."

Haley frowned. She hated how his job was responsible for his kidnapping.

"This is nothing personal against Clay and this isn't even about what happened to me.. well not directly at least."

"Huh?"

"Do you remember why I retired from basketball?"

"Because of your back."

"The risk of my back." He clarified, "You were pregnant and now I had two kids and a wife to think about, Clay and Quinn were recovering.. I realized basketball was not worth the risk of losing it all.. because at the end of the day it was about you, Jamie and Lydia. But I got busy with Fortitude and lost track of why I retired in the first place…to be with you and the kids more.. but with all this traveling. I don't want that. At least when I traveled for the Bobcats it was for basketball, and basketball was my dream.. being a sports agent wasn't my dream, it was a job that I got caught up in and I guess I let my friendship with Clay blind me. Sure it sounded good on paper and I was good at it but with all the traveling and recruiting, it's not worth it for me. I mean if Clay wants me to be like a spokesperson for the agency to be a face and be someone new athletes can talk to for advice or mentoring then okay but doing the ins and outs of everything" Nathan shook his head.

Haley hugged Nathan and rested her head against his chest.

"The only time I want to go anywhere is if you and the kids are with me. I can't and I won't do it again." He said resolutely.

Haley inwardly sighed in relief. She didn't want that either.

"Hey.. it's okay. I'm going to be fine." Nathan tried to soothe her when he saw Haley forming tears in her eyes.

"No, I'm okay, it's just that I don't want you to travel anymore either. It took me everything in me to be okay with you leaving the house and going camping." Haley was worried at first but having Lucas back helped ease her nerves and she knew how important this guy bonding trip would be for all of them. "I didn't want to tell you that I didn't want you to travel for work.. I didn't want to be one of those wives who.."

"Hales," Nathan interrupted her with a kiss. "At the end of the day, it'll always be our family first. If I remembered that before I started traveling then maybe none of this mess would've happened and Dan.." Nathan looked down. "Then again.. if it wasn't for my kidnapping, I would've spent the rest of my life hung up on my dad."

Haley caressed his cheeks. With everything he's been through, she couldn't believe how well he was handling everything. She felt a small sense of pride knowing that part of the reason for that was her.

"Anyways," Nathan took a deep breath. "That's not going to be a fun conversation with Clay but he has a son now too so I'm sure he'll understand."

"I'm sure he will." Haley nodded, so happy to know that Nathan isn't leaving town anymore. "But what will you do now?"

"I don't know." Nathan said honestly and he draped his arm around Haley's shoulder and the two looked on at the boat. "I ran into Mouth. Skills is taking over for him on the morning show while he works on putting together his own Sport's telecast."

"And I'm sure he'll love to have someone taking the lead when it comes to all things basketball related." Haley smirked and Nathan nodded.

The flames grew bigger now and he saw the police step in to control the crowd to tell them to move a little further back.

"Isn't it election year?" Nathan found himself asking.

"Yeah, why? Thinking of running as Mayor too?" Haley joked.

"Actually."

"Wait, you're serious?"

"Well, I definitely wouldn't be traveling anywhere besides Tree Hill police has been slacking for years now." Nathan's face grew more serious as he thought about all the problems the town had, Q's murder, drug dealers coming into town, the mob who kidnapped him and the crooked cop who helped them. Haley told him how frustrated she was with the police and turned to Dan to help find him.

"Say what you will about my dad but the only one committing crimes in this town when he was mayor was him."

Haley nodded. Aside from the Jimmy Edwards incident, Dan kept the town on a tight leash, which is probably why on one suspected him of Keith's murder in the first place.

"Mayor Scott? Hmm, it does have a ring to it."

"And you'll be my trophy wife.. well you already are." He smiled down at her. "But I think I definitely need to be more active around here. Look what happened to me, to Brooke, the cops were there and did nothing for us. Something definitely needs to change."

Haley nodded in agreement. All the mobsters were dead now but disgraced Officer Stevens was still alive and they were going to make sure that he gets the punishment he deserves.

"But how about you? Did you throw anything on the boat?" Nathan asked.

"Nope. I have no regrets. Chris did help Dan save you so he saved himself from being thrown in.. besides he's actually doing good a Red Bedroom. The tour he put Alex on going great. Brooke is doing more at the café even though she doesn't know how to use the espresso machine and I have the best husband and kids anyone can ask for." She smiled at Nathan and kissed him again.

"Although." She paused. "I'd like to throw your shirt into the fire."

"Why?" Nathan looked down. "Did I spill something?"

"No, I just like seeing you naked." Haley smirked. "But I guess we got to throw your jeans in there too." She wiggled her eyebrows.

Nathan smirked back and held her close. "Oh I don't mind but I don't know how I feel about giving the town a free peep show."

Haley grimaced, she already had a group of women coming up to her earlier asking for Nathan. She knew the type well, acted like they were concerned but really just wanted the eye candy.

"Yeah you're right. The ladies here are vultures, including some of the men."

Now it was Nathan's turn to grimace and Haley laughed.

"Well do you see what I see." Nathan looked off towards the end of the street.

"What're you looking at?"

"I see the Hilton down the road, I see that it's still early and I see that we have not one but two babysitters at home."

Haley grabbed his hand. "Let's go."

End.

Note: In Wilmington there actually is a Hilton down the road from where the burning boat ceremony takes place. You also see it in many shots as its across the river from the River Court, off to the side, and down the road from Karen's Café.