NINE: You Get What You Give
Haley sighed with a smile, slowly waking, as Nathan softly pressed his lips to her temple. She snuggled close to him, sliding one of her legs along his. She loved the feeling of his skin on her skin. Her body was still singing from the night before.
"Hi." He smiled into her drowsy eyes, lazily combing his fingers through her hair.
Her smile widened and she stretched her neck to press her lips to his. "Merry Christmas," she whispered.
"Merry Christmas," he returned her whisper and her kiss. Then he sighed, settling his head more comfortably on his pillow. "I wish I had a present for you."
"Nathan!" she laughed. She ran her palm over his bare chest, relishing in the feel of the hard muscles that were there. "This whole thing has been one huge present."
"This is all Brooke though."
"And Lucas and Peyton," Haley reminded him.
"Right. I want to give you something from me. Just me."
Smiling again, she reached for his left hand. Tangling her fingers in his, she held it up for him to see. His wedding ring glistened in the early morning sunlight.
"You already have. You gave me yourself, and that's all I wanted; that's all I ever wanted Nathan."
He stared deeply into her eyes, pulling her hand to his lips for a kiss. Then he laughed.
"What?" Haley asked, smiling in confusion.
"We are never going to hear the end of this from Brooke," he chuckled, covering his face with his hands. "Or the other two either."
Haley began to laugh too. "Who would've thought this whole thing would actually work?"
"You didn't?" He looked over at her again, growing serious.
"Mmm-mmm," she shook her head. "I wasn't sure anything would bring you back to me."
His forehead crinkled and he reached for her hand. He needed to touch her.
"Did you think it would work?" she asked quietly, watching as his thumb caressed her knuckles.
"I wasn't going to let it work," he admitted. "I was determined to stay angry at you, to punish you."
She looked down, her eyebrows knitting together in shame.
"But it's impossible not to love you Haley James," he said, pulling her closer to him.
"Scott," she added, smiling a little.
"Scott," he nodded, touching his lips to her forehead.
"What made you change your mind?" Haley nestled her head against his chest and listened to each breath.
"You. Everything you did."
"Keep going. I think I like where this is headed," she smiled.
Nathan laughed and tightened his arm around her. "I don't know, it was just… everything. You told me you were sorry, and then you showed me you were with everything you did. You were patient and you let me come back at my own pace. You took care of me. I saw sincerity in all of it. That's what it was. Your sincerity and your sweetness and just… everything about you."
Haley flashed a smile that was so joyous, it was almost blinding. She gently nipped at his lips.
"I love you," she said, eyes shining with the glory of knowing that he loved her too.
He placed a hand against her cheek, just staring for a second, before he kissed her.
"Mmm," she purred when the kiss intensified. She wrapped her arms across his back, slowly drowning in a fresh wave of desire. "Wait, wait Nathan."
He let out a long breath and slowly rolled onto his back again.
"I'm sorry," she giggled when he looked over at her with longing eyes. "I just wanted to ask you something really fast."
"It can't wait?"
"All right, I'm sorry," he sighed. "What is it?"
"I want to head back home for Christmas. I know the morning's pretty much shot, since its five and a half hours back, but we could get there by early afternoon if we left right now."
"Right now?" Nathan asked, the longing in his eyes deepening.
"Well, no, not rightnow. We still need baths and we need to pack up and stuff…."
"Stuff?" There was a hint of hope in Nathan's voice.
She sent him an oh-get-a-hold-of-yourself look before she broke into a smile.
"What?" he wanted to know.
"Things would probably go a lot faster if we took a bath together. Don't you think so?"
"Yes, definitely, absolutely," he nodded.
"All right, then. Come with me." Haley took her husband's hand and led him into the bathroom.
"That was the best bath I've ever had in my life," Nathan chuckled later as he locked the cabin door and stuck the key under the welcome mat again.
Haley paused when Nathan gathered up his luggage and most of hers and headed to their two cars. She placed a kiss against her fingertips and pressed them against the rough wooden door.
"Thank you," she whispered.
"Hales!" Nathan called to her. "Come on, we need to get going ifwe want to get home before dark!"
She smiled and let her hand linger for a second on the door. "Thank you so much." Then she turned, grabbing her remaining bags, and jogged for her car.
Nathan, who had already put his things in the back of his mom's SUV, was trying to fit Haley's stuff in the little trunk of her car.
"Oh, these I just put on the back seat," she said, re-arranging everything. When she was done, she frowned at him.
"What's wrong?" he laughed, taking her cute face in his gloved hands.
"We have to drive back in separate cars and I'm gonna be lonely and miss you," she mourned.
"Well, I'm gonna be lonely and miss you too. So, I guess we better make this kiss a good one, huh?"
"A really good one," she nodded, crossing her arms over his back.
"Come here," he whispered with a smile. His lips found hers and made her see stars.
"Okay, so just follow me out," Nathan said to her as he pulled his driver's-side door open. He heard the crunch of running footsteps in the snow and when he turned, Haley's arms were around him and she was kissing him again.
"I love you."
"I love you too Mrs. Scott," he chuckled, touching his lips to hers over and over again.
"All right, I'm getting in my car now, I promise," she vowed.
"All right," he nodded with an encouraging smile.
"Here I go. I'm going to my car," she said, taking slow, careful steps backwards.
"Yep, you're going to your car. Slowly, but you're going," he agreed.
"Oh, just one more!" she begged. She ran to him again and he took her in his arms, smiling as they shared a third passionate goodbye kiss.
"Hello?" Nathan answered his cell phone with a smile about three hours into the journey back home.
"I see the sexiest guy driving a shiny silver Range Rover," Haley giggled.
Nathan glanced in his rearview mirror and saw her car. "Oh, yeah?" He smiled even more.
"Well, there's this incredibly gorgeous girl right behind me."
"How gorgeous is incredibly gorgeous exactly?" she laughed.
"Indescribable," he said.
"Nathan, do you see that little restaurant up ahead?"
"Uh-huh," he said, spotting it through the windshield.
"Let's park when we get to it."
"Why? Are you hungry?" he asked.
"Something like that," she smiled.
"What is it?" Nathan asked once he'd found a space in the restaurant's tiny parking lot. "Do you want lunch? I guess we kind of-Mmm," he moaned when Haley silenced him with a kiss that could have melted the snow.
"I couldn't take it anymore," she breathed against his lips. "Three hours without a kiss from you is too long."
He smiled and pulled her closer. "Miss me, did 'ya?" he laughed.
"Yes, very much," she nodded, cuddling up to him and letting him hold her. She enjoyed the warmth and strength of him.
"Nathan? Haley? Is that you kids?"
The young couple turned toward the familiar voice and cried out, "George!"
George burst into a chuckling fit, walking up to them with an outstretched hand. A very stately woman with graying red hair and soft green eyes walked beside him with a smile.
"How's it going George?" Nathan gripped the man's hand tightly.
"Good, good," he nodded. His eyes wandered from Haley's face back to Nathan's. "What about you two? How are things with you?"
Nathan broke into a wide smile and wrapped an arm around Haley's shoulders. He pulled her close and kissed her hair to show George that things were just fine.
George chuckled so hard, his face turned red. "Well, that's really great. That's just really great. I'm so glad to see you worked things out."
"Thanks to you," Nathan grinned.
"Nah," George shrugged. "I didn't tell you anything you didn't already know."
"A-hem." The woman at George's side quietly cleared her throat, smiling at George when he slipped his hand into hers.
"Nathan, Haley, I'd like you to meet Susan."
Haley smiled and took the hand the woman offered her. "Hello."
"Hello," Susan smiled in return.
Nathan took her hand next and a sudden thought made his eyes bulge.
George laughed at Nathan's expression and nodded.
"She's… Is thisyour Susan?" Nathan asked quietly. Next to him, Haley looked confused.
"Yep. MySusan," George nodded again. "I decided to take my own advice, so I tracked down her new phone number and gave her a call. Would you believe it? After all these years, and the horrible way we left things, she was glad to hear from me."
"Cool," Nathan smiled. "George, that's awesome."
"Wait, wait! No, no, no!" Haley whisper-shouted. She grabbed Nathan's hand when he raised it to knock. They'd just arrived back home in Tree Hill.
"What?" Nathan asked. He laughed when she flashed a mischievous grin.
"How would you feel about a little payback?" she giggled.
"I would love it," he laughed again. "'Ya know, when you get all devious like this, it really turns me on."
She arched an eyebrow and smiled. "Oh, really. Good to know. No. Nathan, no. No kissing," she said when he made an attempt to capture her lips. "Look mad. Just like that. That's perfect."
"I'm mad at you," he pretend-grumbled, unable to hide a grin. "No kissing. Geez."
Haley quickly pecked his cheek, put on a fake scowl, and knocked at the door.
"Not good enough," he mumbled.
"Don't make me laugh," she snickered, trying to keep her scowl in place. She knocked again- harder this time.
"All right! I'm- oh, no." Brooke's eyes just about popped out of her head when she pulled the door open and found Nathan and Haley.
"Hello Brooke," Haley said icily.
"Peyton! Lucas! Come protect me!" Brooke exclaimed.
Lucas wandered over from the kitchen and Peyton appeared from out of her bedroom. They both could only stare.
"What is wrong with you guys?" Nathan shouted furiously.
"It didn't work?" Brooke asked in a very small voice.
"What do you think?" Haley demanded.
"I mean, all three of you must be completely insane! Seriously, you totally went out of bounds with this one!" Nathan continued yelling as he yanked his gloves off.
Brooke, Lucas, and Peyton all glared through smiles when they saw that his wedding ring was back on his finger.
"Itdid work!" Brooke squealed, clapping her hands with glee. "I knew it! Kiss each other!" she ordered.
Nathan smiled down at Haley, who was smiling up at him. They did as they were told without protest. Hugging and handshakes followed the kiss as everyone celebrated a love back from the ashes.
"Thank you Brooke," Haley murmured later that night. The two girls were sitting side-by-side on the couch and Haley rested her head on Brooke's shoulder.
Brooke smiled affectionately and nestled her head against Haley's. "Anytime Tutor Girl."
"I need to head home," Nathan reported, walking into the living room. "I just got off the phone with my mom and she told me my grandparents flew in and everything, so-."
"Does she know about-?" Haley began to ask.
"I told her," Nathan nodded with a smile before she could finish. "She wants you to come too."
Haley glowed. She got to her feet and sprinted into her husband's open arms.
"Kiss again!" Brooke begged with a smile of her own.
Haley and Nathan laughed. They shared a deeply passionate kiss.
Brooke squirmed. "Okay, that's good. I said that's good! Enough already! Stop!"
"Hey Pretty Girl," Lucas smiled. He entered the living room and walked straight to Brooke. Leaning down, he kissed her lips.
"Hey yourself," Brooke giggled, returning his kisses times five.
"I was wondering if you'd come home with me and have Christmas dinner with me and my mom," he managed to say between kisses.
"I'd love to."
"Great," he gazed adoringly into her shining eyes. "Get your coat and let's go eat."
"Well, what about Peyton?" Brooke nibbled on a fingernail. "Her dad's out on his boat, and I can't just leave her here alone. It's Christmas."
Lucas smiled again. "Peyton!"
"What?" Peyton shouted from her bedroom.
"Would you want to come and eat dinner at my house?"
"Of course! Your mom is the best cook in the world!"
"Good! Hurry up and get out here then because I'm hungry!"
As everyone was leaving, Haley caught a glimpse of Peyton's face. She looked so sad. Brooke had Lucas, and she had Nathan, but Peyton didn't have anybody.
"What are you thinking now?" Nathan laughed when Haley tugged on his sleeve with a smile.
Haley stood on her tip-toes to whisper something against his ear.
Nathan pulled his wife close and kissed her. "Haley, just when I think I couldn't love you more, you go and think of something like that."
"Could you do it, do you think?" Haley chewed anxiously on her bottom lip, her eyes bright.
"Yeah, probably," he nodded. "Consider it done."
"Thanks for agreeing to play Haley," Peyton smiled. It was New Year's Eve, and Tric was packed to capacity with people who'd come to send the old year out in style.
"No problem," she shrugged. "I love being on stage. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to get back up there again. And for so much more Peyton."
Peyton smiled and shook her head.
"No, really. I mean, you and Brooke and Lucas, you gave my whole world back to me. I'll always be grateful to you for what you did for me and Nathan."
Peyton reached out to squeeze Haley's shoulder. Then she said, "Well, get up there already. I've got people waiting for food, so I'd better get back to work."
Haley made her way through the crowd and managed to reach the stage. She found Nathan- and somebody else- waiting in the wings. She sent her husband a delighted smile.
"Happy New Year Tree Hill!" she shouted into the microphone.
The throng cheered.
"Okay, before I get on with the show, I want to make sure we let Peyton Sawyer know what an awesome job she did pulling this all together."
"Oh, do you know what? I think there's one more person who wants to let Peyton know how amazing she is. So, I'm going to hand the mic over to him."
Peyton was kind of zoning out, mechanically wiping down a table. She knew she shouldn't let herself feel this way, especially on New Year's Eve, but she couldn't help it. She missed Jake.
"Peyton? Where are you?"
She snorted under her breath. That was so funny. She missed him so much that she could actually hear his voice. Well, she'd finally gone off the deep end.
"Peyton!" Brooke was beside her now, tugging at her arm. "Get up there, will you? He's looking for you!"
Slowly, Peyton looked to the stage. Her heart stopped and her table-wipe-down rag fell from her numb fingers.
"Jake?" she whispered.
"Peyton?" he called again, squinting through the spotlights.
"Jake!" she cried. Tears streamed down her cheeks as she pushed her way through the crowd. "Jake!"
"Peyton!" he finally caught sight of her. He dropped the microphone and hopped down from the stage.
The crowd parted like the Red Sea, making a path for them.
"Jake!" she wept, throwing herself into his arms.
"Hey Peyton," he smiled, holding her tightly against his chest.
"What're you doing here?"
"Well, let's just say that you get what you give," Jake chuckled.
"Mom's watching her for me tonight."
Peyton took his face in her hands and pounced on his mouth.
All around them, the mass of people erupted in a roar of approval.
Before long, the timeless countdown began.
"FIVE! FOUR! THREE! TWO! ONE! HAPPY NEW YEAR!"
Jake pulled Peyton close again and kissed her.
At a table in the back, Brooke blinked rapidly to fight tears as she watched her best friend reunite with the man she loved.
"Happy New Year," Lucas murmured against her ear.
Brooke looked over in time to see him slide into the empty chair beside her.
"Happy New Year Luke," she sniffled.
"Can I share my New Year's resolution with you?"
"Sure," she smiled at him.
"This year, I promise to be the kind of boyfriend you deserve. If you give me another chance, I swear I'll make you so happy. Brooke, this non-exclusive thing isn't what I want. I want you, all of you, all for myself."
"Kiss to seal the deal?" she laughed through tears.
He smiled and leaned over to meet her lips.
Nathan walked out on to the stage from behind the curtain.
Haley smiled at him from where she sat at her keyboard.
He took her hand and pulled her to her feet.
"Happy New Year Nate," she murmured, leaning into him.
He snaked his arms around her hips. "Happy New Year Haley. I promise I'll make this year better than the last one for you."
"I love you."
"I love you too," she smiled. She stretched to touch her lips to his.
"I guess I should let you get back to your show," he breathed against her mouth as the audience went wild at this second public display of affection.
"I guess you should." She laughed when he kissed her again.
"I'll be watching from the wings, okay?"
"Oh, now I'm going to be looking over that way for the rest of the night! Just so I can see your face!" she teased with a smile.
Nathan returned her smile and grabbed the microphone. "Give it up for my wife!" he shouted.
Again, the crowd cheered.
Haley blessed Nathan with one last kiss before he headed backstage and she settled down at her keyboard again. She broke into her own rendition of "Auld Lang Syne" and the cheers grew louder.
"Should auld acquaintance be forgot/And never brought to mind/ Should auld acquaintance be forgot/ And days of auld lang syne…."
Thank you all for reviewing! I hope you liked it! I'm starting a sequel, so you can check it out if you want to when I get the beginning up. I love getting feedback, so please be sure to let me know what you think: ) -Sarah