Leave the Pieces
Disclaimer: I do not own One Tree Hill. It belongs to Mark Schwann and the CW.
Summary: After a year of fighting for their love, it looks as if Nathan Scott and Haley James have finally called it quits. There are just too many obstacles in their way for them to be together. But their friends think differently. What happens when those friends convince Nathan and Haley to return to where it all began? Will that original spark be reignited, or will they realize that the flame has already burned out?
AN: Hi everyone, I hope you've had a great summer. I'm so excited to finally be posting this story. I know it's been a while, and that "Stand By Me" didn't exactly have a fairytale ending. But I am definitely not one to leave a story untold, and there is a lot more of this story to tell. I appreciate you guys being so patient. A special thanks to Ashly for reading all of my drafts and listening to my crazy ideas. You rock! Here is the first chapter (finally!) for you guys. Let me know what you think!
Her throat was raw and her hands aching. What must have been only a few minutes felt like hours; she was getting nowhere fast. Haley James cursed under her breath. She was going to kill Brooke when she got her hands on her. The tenacious brunette had sprung more than her fair share of surprises on Haley these past few months, but this topped them all.
With one last pound on the door and call for help, Haley sunk down to the ground, exhausted. Clearly no one was around to hear her. There was only one way in or out, and that was locked at the moment. The only light came from the small window on the back wall. Haley could break it, though there would be no point. Not much more than her head would fit through it.
Haley chewed on her bottom lip as she went through her options. Reaching into her pocket, she pulled out her cell phone. No service. Figures, she thought. Why was it that nothing could seem to go her way anymore?
At least if she had a signal she could call Lucas. Surely he would rescue her from Brooke's latest scheme. Haley loved her best friend, but Brooke did have a tendency to get carried away sometimes. Hell, Lucas knew that firsthand. He'd been dating her for a year, after all.
Haley wondered what would make Brooke do this in the first place. It only took a second for the answer to pop into her head. With it came a whole array of intense emotions. Sadness. Anger. Jealousy. They all churned inside of her, eating away at the brief moments of happiness that she had actually experienced this summer.
That's if you could call what she'd had true happiness. Looking back on it now, Haley could see that it was probably just an illusion. Nothing had been resolved. Not even close. The ache in her heart returned in full force. It had never been healed—only numbed for a short while with false hope.
Haley turned her head away from the small rays of light shining through the dusty window. She preferred the darkness. Deserved it, even. Yes, maybe she needed to be there. Maybe Brooke had done this so she could have some time by herself to really think about everything.
Closing her eyes, Haley's mind drifted to the very beginning. Back when there had been nothing but darkness.
The sound of the TV and laughter drifted up into the hallway. Haley pulled the covers up over her head and closed her eyes, trying to block out the noise. Her door was shut, but it wasn't exactly helping. All she wanted was some peace and quiet. With both of her parents having the day off, she should've known that wouldn't happen.
Haley buried her head into her pillow as she felt another tear slide down her face. She'd thought that she'd be all cried out by now. All she seemed to be able to do recently was cry and sleep. They were the only times that the pain wasn't as excruciating.
She'd faced some difficult things in her life, but nothing compared to this. It was like there was this big, gaping hole in her chest. Sometimes it was hard to breathe when she thought about everything that had happened. How could everything be so perfect one minute and then go to hell the next?
It was the story of her life.
There was a soft knock on her bedroom door. Haley didn't move. She didn't even speak. After a minute, the door opened.
"Haley." It was her mom, Lydia. "Haley, honey, are you awake?"
Haley stayed absolutely still and remained quiet. If she was lucky, her mom would just leave her be.
There was a soft sigh and the sound of the door creaking. "Your father and I were going to watch a movie. You're welcome to join us. It might do you some good to get out of this room."
Her mom sighed again. "We'll be downstairs if you need us, honey."
Haley waited until the door shut completely. She wiped at the moisture on her cheeks, but it was no use. More tears continued to spill from her eyes. Her hand covered her mouth as a sob escaped. It was like she had no control over her emotions. Her entire being was in a perpetual state of despair.
Looking back on the last year, she couldn't believe that it had come to this. It was her own fault she was feeling this way. She knew that. But what was done was done. Haley had made a decision, and there was no going back. No matter how much it was eating her up inside.
Nathan trudged through the woods. He could feel his brother's eyes on him the whole way, but he refused to be the one to speak first. It was obvious what Lucas was thinking. He could just sense the lecture coming. That was the last thing that Nathan wanted.
He didn't need Lucas yelling at him or telling him what he'd done wrong. Nathan was well aware of how much he'd screwed things up this summer. Nothing had gone right. It was one big cosmic joke. He was stupid to think that his life might finally be getting on track again. That some kind of normalcy would return.
For one tiny second, Nathan had actually thought that he'd gotten back the most important thing in his life. That maybe there was a reason for all of the crap that led up to now. The explanation for his false hope was simple: He was an idiot.
"Are you even going to say anything?"
Nathan gritted his teeth and kept walking.
"You can't avoid this, Nate."
"Luke, leave me alone," he warned.
His brother wasn't deterred. "You can't keep avoiding it. You went too far this time."
"Lucas, seriously, shut up," he snapped. "And why the hell are we always the ones to do this? Can't people get their own damn equipment? I thought we were past this shit this year."
Lucas snorted. "You're losing it, man."
"You're one to talk. This is all your fault."
"My fault?" Lucas replied. "How the hell do you figure that?"
The ball left Nathan's hands and bounced off of the backboard before falling to the side. It was the tenth shot in a row that he'd missed. It was really starting to piss him off. He was a basketball player. He had been co-captain of the Tree Hill Ravens. He had helped his team win the state championship. And come this fall, he was going to play college ball. Nathan Scott was officially a Duke Blue Devil.
The fact that he couldn't sink his shots was pathetic. If the scouts could see him now, they'd be wondering why they'd ever taken an interest in him. Nathan just had to focus. He bounced the ball a couple more times. This shot was going to make it.
Nathan took his stance and released the ball from his hands. It hit the rim, spun around, and fell to the side. He caught the ball in his hands. After a few seconds, his frustration getting the better of him, Nathan cursed loudly and threw the ball at his house as hard as he could.
It hit the brick siding and ricocheted onto the driveway, rolling downward. Nathan didn't even bother turning around to catch it or see if it was headed into the street. He just couldn't bring himself to care.
And it wasn't just basketball. Nathan had finally gotten out from under his father. All of his life his father had tried to control him. This last year, Dan Scott had been an even bigger pain in his ass. Dan had been furious when Nathan had decided to live with his mother after their divorce. It had taken blackmail for Dan to get Nathan to move in with him.
Dan had threatened to make public Nathan's test results after he collapsed on the basketball court a couple of years ago. He'd taken drugs to improve his game. It had been stupid, and that mistake had cost him. Nathan had to do everything his father said to protect his basketball prospects. Pretty much anything other than training and working at the dealership was forbidden. Spending time with his friends was out of the question. And dating…well, that wasn't an option.
It wasn't until Nathan had discovered that his father was embezzling money at the dealership to avoid paying taxes that he had any leverage over him. Dan had been tricky. At first Nathan had discovered that Dan was hiding the money and his ledger of illegal activities in the ceiling of his office. Then it had been moved into the safe.
Nathan had tried for weeks to guess the combination. Eventually he had figured it out. He'd gone straight to his mother afterward and told her everything. They'd then gone to the police. That same day Dan had been arrested.
Once he'd been taken away, Nathan had felt like he'd finally gotten his life back. Nathan had been able to move back in with his mom. He could see his friends whenever and wherever he wanted. The decision to attend the college of his choice was once again his.
And most important, he was free to love and be with—
Nathan shook his head, unable to think on it further. The one thing he'd wanted most, he'd lost in the end anyway. Now Nathan wondered if any of it had been worth it.
For the first time in his life, Nathan actually wished he was still in school. Graduation and summer vacation left him with too much time on his hands. Nathan was sick of thinking about everything that had gone wrong. Of constantly playing that pivotal moment over and over in his head, analyzing just what the hell had happened. Even now he had trouble understanding it.
And worst of all was this feeling of having his heart ripped out. The pain was just too much to bear. As much shit as his father had put him through, none of it compared to this. Most days Nathan didn't know whether to just surrender himself to the misery or the anger. Both emotions seemed to be battling inside of him, with no clear victory in sight.
Nathan rubbed his hands over his face and sighed. He would just stay in the house the rest of the day and play some NBA Live. At least in the video game he could make the shots.
Nathan was just about to walk inside when he heard a voice behind him.
"Aren't you forgetting something?"
He turned and saw his brother, Lucas, holding his renegade basketball. Last year it would've been completely weird to even acknowledge his connection to Lucas. Dan had gotten Lucas's mom Karen pregnant before leaving for college. When Dan had gotten Nathan's mom pregnant three months later, he'd married her. Growing up, Dan had always taught Nathan that Lucas was the enemy. He was the bastard child and should be treated as such.
For a while Nathan had hung on to his father's every word. That was until he'd attended Camp Aldrich last summer and met a very stubborn, sarcastic, yet kind-hearted blonde who was determined to see them get along.
Immediately, Nathan felt a stab of pain in his chest. He did his best to ignore it.
"I don't need it."
"You sure?" Lucas dribbled the ball as he walked forward. He took a shot and smiled as the ball swished in the net.
Nathan glared, annoyed.
"Want to play a game?"
"No, man. I'm done for the day," he replied.
"How about a game of HORSE?" Lucas suggested.
"What's the point? I'll just lose anyway," he muttered.
"It's nice to see that your ego has gone down a notch or two," Lucas said, laughing. "Come on, it was a joke."
"Ha ha," Nathan deadpanned. He folded his arms across his chest. "What do you want, Lucas? I'm not in the mood to go to the River Court today."
"Can't a guy just stop by and pay his brother a visit?"
Lucas put his hand to his chest in mock outrage. "That hurts."
Nathan rolled his eyes. "Whatever. It's freaking hot out. I'm going inside where it's cool." He didn't even check to see if Lucas was following him. Nathan could care less either way.
Opening the refrigerator, Nathan grabbed a couple of waters.
"Thanks," Lucas said, accepting the bottle.
Nathan took a few gulps. "So?"
"Don't play dumb. You came here for a reason, Luke. Just spit it out already."
"I was wondering if you had any plans for the summer."
Nathan took a seat at the island. Lucas followed suit. "I'll probably just shoot around and play video games."
"So you're free then?"
"I didn't say that."
"You kind of did," Lucas replied.
"Whatever." Suddenly Nathan had the urge for a beer rather than water. "What's it to you?"
"Well, it's just that me, Brooke, and the others were thinking—"
Lucas ignored him and pressed on. "It's our last summer before we all go off to college. We thought it'd be nice to do something special. Something that we'd never forget."
"A naked toga party?" Nathan suggested. "Those are always memorable. And I'm sure you'd be a step ahead for college."
"Not exactly." It was obvious he was trying hard not to roll his eyes. "We were thinking of something more long-term. Something new and fun."
"Like?" Nathan prodded, not really all that interested. He was too busy playing with the label of his water bottle to pay close attention.
"We've all decided to go back to camp for the summer."
Nathan's head snapped up at that. "What?"
"It's where we all met last year. And it certainly wouldn't be boring."
"How is that new and exciting? We've already gone there," he pointed out.
"Here's the thing: We wouldn't be going as campers. I spoke to Whitey last week, and he said that the camp is looking to hire CITs." At the blank look Nathan was giving him, Lucas clarified, "Counselors in training. We'd be junior camp counselors instead."
"I know what a CIT is. What I want to know is when you all lost your minds." Nathan remembered what a handful they had all been as campers. Why Lucas and the others would want to subject themselves to that he had no idea.
"There's more. We want you to come with us."
Nathan laughed out loud. "Uh-huh. Yeah. That's what I'm going to do."
"I'm serious. We want you to come with us. It'll be good for you, Nate. You should get away from Tree Hill for a while. The fresh air might clear your head. Put things in perspective."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Nathan demanded. His brother was hinting at something.
"All I'm saying is these last couple of weeks have been kind of rough. I know you and H—"
His whole body tensed. "Do not say her name."
Lucas rephrased, "Emotions were running high and some things were said. I'm sure neither of you meant them."
"I am not the bad guy in this, Lucas, okay?" Nathan snapped. If he had to hear Lucas try and convince him one more time that everything that had gone down a couple of weeks ago was one big misunderstanding, he was going to flip out. He was sick of hearing it. "She made her decision."
"I'm not saying that. Nathan, she was just upset."
"If you came to defend her Lucas, then you can just leave. Because I don't want to fucking hear it." Nathan stood up and tossed his empty bottle into the recycling bin and walked out of the kitchen toward the living room.
The doorbell rang, and Nathan cursed under his breath. Who was this now? He answered the door and inwardly groaned when he saw Jake and Tim. Why did he get the feeling that he was being ambushed?
"What up, Nate Dogg?" Tim greeted.
"Is this a bad time?" Jake questioned, taking in the disgruntled look on his face. Tim, as usual, was clueless.
"No. It's perfect." Nathan left the door wide open and headed for the living room.
He heard Jake and Tim behind him, closing the door. "Hey, Luke," Jake greeted.
"We came as soon as we got your text."
Nathan glanced over just in time to see Lucas glaring at Tim. He'd been right. They'd all planned this.
"Like I told Lucas, I'm not going. So you can save your breath." Nathan flopped down on the couch and turned on the TV.
"I think you'll be missing out, Nate. You really will. It'll be fun," Jake tried to convince him.
"Yeah, Nathan. Come on. We'll be junior counselors. We can totally boss around the campers. How awesome is that!" Tim enthused.
"I'm not feeling it."
Lucas marched over and yanked the remote control out of his hands and shut off the TV.
"Nathan, can you for one second not be a stubborn ass and just listen to us? It's our last summer all together, and it would mean a lot if you would come to Camp Aldrich with us. Besides, Whitey will be running the basketball program for Mr. Philips. He said the camp needs more CITs, especially ones qualified to coach," Lucas explained. "That's us."
"You don't get it, do you? This has nothing to do with spending the summer before college together or basketball," Nathan exploded, having heard enough. "I do not want to go to Camp Aldrich and be reminded of her! Okay? Can you understand that?"
If Nathan was already having trouble not thinking about her here, he could just imagine how much more difficult it would be at the camp. There were so many memories there. Too many memories. They would eat away at him the whole summer. Now that would be hell.
"And do you honestly expect me to believe that she won't be joining you guys? I'm not stupid."
"Hal—" Tim began.
"Don't say her name," he growled.
"She isn't a problem. Peyton said that she's going to be tutoring this summer," Jake quickly cut in.
"You see," Lucas said. "It'll be fine."
Nathan crossed his arms. "I'm still not going." He looked his friends in the eyes and stood his ground. "And that's final."
"This was your damn idea. I never should have come here."
Nathan was pissed. Really pissed. After all of the protesting he'd done, he still hadn't been able to get out of this. Lucas was the one that had to go to his mom and tell her about his camp idea. Nathan hadn't known exactly what he'd said to her, but the next thing he knew she was in his room packing his things. Nathan had told her repeatedly he didn't want to go, but she wouldn't listen.
All she kept saying was, "I am not going to let you sulk around the house the entire summer. You should go to camp and be with your friends. It'll help take your mind off of—everything." She had caught herself before saying her name. Deb knew better than to bring her up in front of him.
Nathan's response—and last-ditch effort to convince his mom to let him stay home—had been, "I can't go. What about Dan's trial?" He was a key witness in the case against his father. Nathan knew that when the day came, he'd have to face Dan again and testify before a judge.
"A date hasn't been set yet. But when it is, I'll let you know and pick you up that day from camp," she'd replied.
When the day to leave for camp arrived, Nathan had no choice but to sigh loudly and sink lower into his seat as his mother drove him to the bus station. There was just no way he was getting out of it.
"I did what I had to to make things right."
Nathan rolled his eyes, his voice sarcastic. "Yeah, well you've done a fantastic job so far."
"It's not my fault you've been a dick. I gave you the chance to put an end to all of this, and you only made it worse. So for once, take responsibility for your part in this and deal with it. Because I'm not taking the fall for this one, Nate."
Lucas shot him a disgusted glance and walked on ahead. Nathan paused for a moment, staring after him. He wanted to argue. In fact, what he really wanted to do was pummel his brother. But deep down he knew he was right—not that he was going to admit it.
"Come on, they're all waiting," Lucas said as he opened the door. "Ladies first."
Nathan scowled at him and walked inside. He was startled by someone running towards him.
"Wait, don't shut that—" the voice started.
"Haley?" Nathan questioned, shocked.
She flew past him, heading for the door. There was a quick slam. Nathan turned around just as he heard the key turning.
"Lucas! Lucas Scott, you open this door right now. I mean it!" Haley shouted.
"What the hell is going on?" Nathan tried the handle, but the door was locked.
"I'm sorry," Lucas called back, "but it's for your own good."
Haley was pounding on the door, shouting for her best friend but there was no reply. "Damn it."
Nathan tried the handle again and slammed his shoulder into the door. It wouldn't budge. "What the hell is going on?"
"It looks like we're stuck in here," Haley answered, out of breath from yelling.
Nathan finally got a good look at her. Haley's blond, wavy hair was loose and slightly messy. She must have been running her hands through it. Her cheeks were flushed a light pink, and her hands were placed on her hips. Already she was chewing her bottom lip in agitation.
Haley was pissed, but she looked beautiful. The thought struck him so suddenly he stepped back from her.
"I was so close," she muttered to herself.
Instantly, the reality of what had happened sunk in. Nathan looked from Haley to the locked door and back again. An overwhelming sense of déjà vu hit him. He was stuck inside this stupid shed—again!—and the only person who had known how to get him out the last time was in here with him. As if that wasn't bad enough, he and Haley weren't exactly on the best of terms. In fact, things between them were a downright disastrous.
Nathan's jaw clenched as his hands fisted at his sides. It was official: He was going to murder Lucas.