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28 July 2007 @ 01:06 am
The Way Our Cards Are Dealt by Brit, Teen  
Title: The Way Our Cards Are Dealt
Author: Brit
Rating: Teen for mild swearing
Disclaimer: Nope, I don't own a thing. Just tinkering around with my favorite characters of One Tree Hill.
The first sentence of this story and the last two are also inspired by the narration from the pilot episode of Everwood, which are given credit to Greg Berlanti.
Word Count: 4,687
Characters: Lucas, Haley, Nathan
Spoilers: If you've seen the first couple of episodes of season one, then you're good to go.
Summary: Nathan Scott has always had the upper hand in life. Of course, there's one person whose willing to change all that, Haley James.
Author's Note
: I was inspired by one song in particular while writing this piece, which was "Rewind" by Stereophonics. The song begins with the words, "It's your time / It's your day / It's never too late / To change lanes." Reading these lyrics a few times helped me come up with this different take on Nathan and Haley's first tutoring session. I hope you enjoy reading it!

I wasn't there the day Haley James changed Nathan Scott's life forever, but I’ve heard it enough times to be able to tell it. Their first meeting wasn't anything close to a fairytale moment. Time didn't stop; music wasn't playing in the background, none of the bells and whistles most fairytales are made up of.

No, it was an ordinary day, nothing special about it. The leaves were beginning to turn into deep shades of orange, yellow, and red. The wind had started to pick up its pace as autumn had begun to takeover the summer that had inhabited Tree Hill for the past couple of months. School was in full swing, which meant basketball season had already consumed the small little town, where for some, achieving dreams was already in the making.

His name was Nathan Scott. Basketball prodigy. Junior in high school. Wealthy. Popular. The girls loved him and the boys envied him. His charm was undeniable. One smirk and the girls would go weak in the knees. But none of that would matter to one girl at Tree Hill High School. It wouldn't matter at all.

"I can't believe you're going to tutor him, Hales. Can't you just scratch his name off of the list and call it a day?" Lucas questioned Haley as he grabbed another pretzel off of the desk in his bedroom.

"Unfortunately, no. Would I like to? Yes. I don't have any control over the placement though. The teacher assigned him to me and I have to deal with it," the petite bookworm responded while turning the page in her Romeo and Juliet novel, not even bothering to look up to see her best friend staring down at her.

"He's going to feed you all of these lies, I bet. Won't cooperate with you at all. And then that'll just make me hate him even more because you'll come to me completely upset about the entire situation," Lucas said as he munched on yet another pretzel.

She looked up from the text and began to curl a strand of hair around her index finger. "Lucas, you're paranoid."

"Of course I'm paranoid! First of all, he's my half-brother who I've only ever exchanged swear words with. Secondly, our father treats me like I'm a rock underneath fifty miles of crap. And thirdly, the rumors that swirl around about Nathan don't exactly give him the best reputation," Lucas spat out in one solid breath. "I certainly think I have a right to be."

"While your points are understandable," Haley paused while she turned down the corner of her page and closed her Shakespeare novel, "I'm not going to let him take advantage of me. You're getting yourself worked up for no reason. Surely you have faith in me, don't you?"

He glanced down to the brown, doe eyes that were staring back at him. "Yes. It's him that I worry about."

"You're letting Nathan get to your head," Haley pointed out while she wagged her finger at Lucas. "Forget about him. As far as I can see, your life is a thousand times better than his. You know that and so do I. Let me just do my thing. You...you worry about trying to finish that essay."

Lucas jotted down a couple more sentences in his notebook and then tossed the pencil back onto his desk. Although he wanted to discuss the tutoring arrangement more, he knew it'd be better to just drop the subject. It was what it was. Nathan was going to be tutored by Haley. His half-brother was going to study with his best friend. Nothing could change that, no matter how much he wished. The inevitable was going to happen. No, he didn't like it one bit, but that's the way the cards had been dealt. Damn cards.

"I need an opinion on this last part; I don't think it sounds as best as it could." Lucas stood up from his wooden desk chair and then squatted down onto the floor, against his bed, where Haley James sat with her legs sprawled out in front of her.

She eyed the scribbled essay intently, reading each word carefully, biting her bottom lip as she did so. "In the end, our dreams are what we make of them. We either succeed or learn from our mistakes along the way. The tragic part about it all is for those who sit on the sidelines and watch their dreams pass them by; not even knowing that they're losing their chance at chasing what could be theirs. If that's not considered tragedy, I don't know what is," Haley read aloud.

"I understand the point you're trying to get across, but I can see how you think it could be worded better," Haley agreed with her best friend. "Let me play around with it for a bit."

They sat there in silence for a while as Haley altered the essay. Next to her, Lucas sat impatiently and stared into space, milling over the tutoring session that was mere hours away.

They had been friends since kindergarten, as most people knew. They were attached at the hip during elementary school. Crayons were shared, hopscotch was played, and the dare that resulted in their first kiss was had. Although after that, they pinky swore to never let an occurrence such as that ever happen again.

He told her everything and she returned the favor. They were confidants. Best buds. Friends to the end. It was no shock to Haley that Lucas had reacted the way he did when she told him about having to tutor Nathan. The nightmare he had always feared was going to come true. Haley, of course, knew that she couldn't stop from tutoring the one boy that had made Lucas' life a living hell from junior high on. If she could have changed it, she would have done so in a heartbeat. After all, there's nothing quite as bad as being the middle man between your best friend and the boy who makes his life miserable. No friend wants to be caught in that situation. And here she was smack dab in the middle of the two of them. Oh, how things worked themselves out.

"Alright, I might have figured something out for this," Haley suggested while she handed the notebook back to Lucas. "I moved some of the words around, but pretty much kept the same sentence structure."

"In the end, our dreams are what we make of them. Follow through and we either succeed or learn from the mistakes while trying to achieve the goal. Sit on the sidelines and watch our dreams pass us by, now that's what I call tragedy," Lucas recited after sitting down on his plush mattress.

He glanced up at Haley who was now standing in front of him, a nervous look etched across her features. "So...what do you think? Good or bad?"

"Much better," Lucas stated simply and then smiled towards his best friend. "No wonder you're the best tutor at school."

"I think the only thing that would consider me as the best tutor in school is if I make it through this session with Nathan without clobbering him," Haley laughed as she dug through her beige corduroy satchel. "I'm glad you liked the changes though. Does all my hard work and effort earn me a chocolate chip cookie from your mom?"

Lucas chuckled as he moved towards the door of his bedroom. "You know, sometimes I think you're friends with me just so that you can get your hands on my mom's cookies."

"Don't forget her pies," Haley added with a laugh before she pulled out a paperback book from her bag. "I have something for you, by the way."

"Oh yeah? What is it?" Lucas asked curiously as they had begun to walk down the short hallway towards the kitchen.

"Well, it's this thing called a book. It has pages made out of paper and on these pages are small little letters that spell words. And these words make out sentences that-" Haley rattled off before Lucas had a chance to grab it from her.

"I'm well aware of what it is," Lucas chortled. "I just want to know which book it is," he claimed after heading over to the cookie jar and opening its lid.

"Oh!" Haley exclaimed as she grabbed one of the larger cookies out of the jar, examining it to make sure it had enough chocolate chips. "It's The Knight's Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer. You know, from The Canterbury Tales."

He closed the lid and then took the book from her extended hand. "Hales, this is great. I was thinking about getting into Chaucer this year and I heard this is one of the better tales to start with first. Thanks," he grinned widely.

"Sure, no problem. I saw it on Thomas' bookshelf, which he left in his room, before moving out to Seattle. Obviously he's not going to read it...thought I might as well give it to you," Haley admitted. She wiped her hands on the paper napkin she had taken from its holder on the counter and then glanced over to the wall across from her.

Lucas gazed over at the clock and winced. "You should probably, you know, go now."

"Five o'clock in the afternoon has never been so despised by me," she replied, clearly upset that her leisurely afternoon had now come to a dreaded halt. "Don't eat all the cookies before tomorrow," she warned, half jokingly, half...not.

"With what you're going through tonight, I might have my mom whip you up another batch," he relayed to Haley, in all seriousness, as they made their way to the front door.

"You - you really think it's going to be that bad?" she asked him honestly, wanting to receive an answer just as honest from her friend.

Lucas took in Haley’s worried facial expressions and put on one of the bravest faces he could muster. "With a tutor like you, I think it'll go just fine. You're a feisty one, Hales. If Nathan's not aware of that, he'll surely know if he oversteps his boundaries."

Haley pulled her favorite satchel over her shoulder and then took a quick glimpse of Lucas. "Alright, that's true...I am pretty feisty when I want to be. Okay...I can - I can do this. And at least five cookies, warm mind you, with milk on the side, tomorrow afternoon. Deal?"

"Deal," Lucas laughed, clearly amused that even with all of this; she still had time to make sure there were cookies left waiting for her the next day. Some things never changed.

Haley left him on the porch that day, not knowing what she was in for when arriving to the Market Street Docks downtown by the river. Awkward would be an understatement, although she wasn't quite sure what to expect. Who knew? Maybe Nathan actually had a good side in him that others never really had the chance to see. Haley, always the optimistic one, set off towards the docks with a hopeful feeling that maybe this tutoring session wouldn't go so bad after all. Sure, all odds were against her the minute she had learned about this arrangement, and had screamed shipwreck ever since. Nevertheless, she decided to go into it with a clear conscience, give him the benefit of the doubt. Besides...how bad could he really be?

"You're fifteen minutes and thirty-one seconds late," Haley informed Nathan in a tone she had never used with any of her tutees before. She pulled out a couple of her notebooks and then glanced up towards the tall, built boy who was towered over her. "You going to sit down or do you prefer to have this lesson standing up?"

He took a seat across from her and sprawled his arms across the table as he opened up a bottle of Gatorade and a bag of potato chips. He took a slug of his orange flavored sports drink and then licked his lips, something that didn't go unnoticed by Haley, who sat there impatiently with her arms crossed over her chest. "Want some?" Nathan asked in an oblivious voice, clearly not noticing the steam fuming from the girl's ears across from him.

"Are you kidding me?" Haley snapped, trying to control her temper as much as possible. So much for giving him the benefit of the doubt. "You make me wait fifteen minutes for you to show up, and when you get here, you don't even apologize. And then you have the nerve to offer me a snack. This is a tutoring session Nathan, not snack time at pre-school!"

"Woah. Chill out," he remarked while he put the cap back on his Gatorade and then shoved it into his backpack, along with the chip bag. "I just came from practice and I always get hungry after working out that much. Whitey is killing us this year."

"Oh," Haley noted quietly, now completely embarrassed by her sudden outburst only a few seconds ago. "If - if you need to eat then, go on ahead."

"Nah, it's cool. I already had a turkey sandwich on my way here," Nathan smirked. He was already learning which buttons to push and he had only been at the table for a couple of minutes. Obviously, this Haley girl could get easily annoyed.

Haley looked up from her notebook and caught his two, crystal clear blue eyes staring right back at her...along with his trademark smile that always received a second glance from the girls. But, not this time. Haley just kept her eyes focused on Nathan's, her facial expression anything but pleasing. "Nathan, I expect you to take this tutoring session seriously. It's after school hours, which technically means, I'm off the clock. You're taking away my time by showing up late. Don't let it happen again."

"I can't promise anything, but I'll try my best," Nathan nodded sincerely. Sure he was going to get a kick out of making her squirm and get agitated, but if she was always going to be in a sour mood, then what fun would that be?

"I'm taking a huge chance on you, Nathan," Haley mentioned as she had begun to jot down a couple of notes. "Don't make me regret it. Now, which subject do you want help with first?"

Nathan's smirk widened. He really did seem to enjoy this, much to Haley's dismay. "If you're so upset about this, then why did you even meet me to begin with, huh?" he inquired, flat out ignoring the question she had asked first.

"I had no choice. Obviously you don't understand how this whole tutoring thing works," Haley responded in a deflated tone. "I get assigned to somebody, I tutor them. Mrs. Barnum passed my name onto you hence me sitting here with you today. I have no say in who I tutor."

"You could have tried to change it though. I mean, there must be some part of you that wanted to meet with me today," Nathan reasoned, the smirk still playing on his lips.

"You know what Nathan, you are absolutely right. There is a reason why I didn't try to change your tutor. You wanna know why?" Haley asked him, a smile teetering on her lips as she did so.

"And why's that, Haley James?" Nathan questioned her, curious as to what her answer was going to be. Surely she wasn't going to cave like most girls would in this situation. Nathan could already tell that this brown haired girl across from him was somebody unlike anybody he had ever met. She wasn't giving him the special treatment he always received from his peers and enemies alike. No, this girl was different, which made things all the more interesting.

Haley leaned in over her books and kept solid eye contact with Nathan. "Because I don't back down from a challenge."

Nathan's eyes widened as he took in the calm, smiling face of Haley in front of him. "Oh really now?"

"Yes, really. I don't care what excuses you throw my way. I'm going to help you pass the courses you are flunking whether you like it or not. Now answer the question I asked you before. What subject do you want helped with first?"

Haley realized at that exact moment that tutoring Nathan was going to be anything than what she had imagined. It was apparent that he got complete joy out of making girls blush from head to toe. He took no interest in the books underneath his fingertips. He’d rather pull out all the stops and try to charm the girls around him. It was Haley’s job to settle Nathan down, make him take notice that grades were also important. Of course, that was going to be no easy task. Nothing was going to be easy about tutoring Nathan…absolutely nothing.

Nathan pulled a couple of textbooks out of his backpack and plunked them down onto the wooden table. "Well, I have a history test tomorrow. We might as well start with that."

"Alright, hand me your notes and I'll see what part of history you're studying."

"Uh - what notes?"

Haley sent him a dumbfounded look and already knew the answer she was going to get when she asked him, "Why not?"

"Because I don't take them," Nathan said nonchalantly. "No need to take notes on some bald guy with bad teeth when I've got the book in front of me, which lists the exact same information."

"Alright, lesson one: pay attention. From now on, you'll be expected to show me your notes for each class at the start of these hourly sessions. There's no way you can excel if you aren't going to review the lectures your teacher gives you in class. Got it?"

"You have got to be kidding me," Nathan scowled.

"Oh no no, I'm not kidding. Believe me; you'd know if I were. Do you even know what chapter you're on in the book?"

Nathan hunted through his disheveled folder and pulled out a ripped sheet of paper. "According to the study guide, we're on chapter four."

Haley grabbed the history book, which looked like it had never even been opened. She propped it open in front of her and glanced over the lessons from chapter four. She quickly familiarized herself with the topics at hand and then said, "Okay, it looks like you've been studying the Great Depression. Did your teacher give you a study guide?"

"Uh," Nathan muttered before he once again began to dig around his folder. "Yeah, here it is."

"Question one: Who was president when the stock market crashed?" Haley read aloud.

"I don't know. His name is the same as a vacuum cleaner," Nathan answered as he peered over towards the river to watch one of the barges float past.

"Well, I can guarantee you that that answer will not be given to you on the multiple choice test. Try again, Nathan. C'mon now, think about it."

"I am thinking!" Nathan hissed as Haley noticed the sudden frustration he had with himself. After a couple of minutes of silence Nathan finally spoke up. "You know what, I don't know and I don't care. This is stupid anyway. I don't need to know who was president when the Great Depression happened. All I need to know is how many average game points the shooting guard at Bear Creek has for Friday's game."
He shot his left hand out in front of him and grabbed the thick textbook that was sitting underneath Haley's arm.

"What do you think you're doing?"

"I'm putting my things into my backpack and then I'm leaving. That's what I'm doing," Nathan admitted sharply as he shoved his folder into his book bag, not even caring that some of the papers inside had been torn in the process.

"No you're not," Haley replied stubbornly. Nobody had ever walked out on her during a tutoring session. Well, there was that one time when Billy Patterson ran out of the room because of the sudden wave of nausea that hit him. That was different though. This time it was because Nathan didn't want to admit he was failing in school. And with how much pride Nathan had, Haley knew it would take more than a couple of minutes for him to confess that to her.

She was finally able to see a different side of Nathan that afternoon, one that none of her classmates had ever gossiped about before. Failing at something wasn't an option for Haley though, something of which Nathan wasn't aware of quite yet. None of her students had failed a class. She wasn't about to let Nathan run out on her and break that record. She had her own pride, too. Haley may not have wanted to tutor Nathan, but she wasn’t going to use that excuse for allowing him to walk away from this.

"Let's face it Haley. I'm not smart and I can deal with that. I don't need grades to get into college anyway. Basketball is my ticket into any school I want. That's good enough for me. You don't want to be here anyway. Admit it, its better if I just go."

"You know what Nathan?" Haley finally snapped once again, for the second time this afternoon. "Your attitude about all of this really ticks me off. And damn it, you are smart, you just don't realize it!"

"Oh I am, am I? Well then why can't I pay attention in class and earn grades like everybody else does, huh?" Nathan gathered the last of his things and then stood up from his seat, prompting Haley to do the same. “You know what? Don't answer that.”

"It's because you've never been disciplined enough to do just that, Nathan!" Haley exclaimed as her hands motioned different wild gestures. "You've never tried before and now that you have to, you're not even willing!”

“I am too willing but that’s not important right now! What I need to focus on is basketball. Grades may be what is honored in your home, but the only thing my dad cares about is how many points I average in one game. School means nothing.”

“It means nothing? Did you honestly just say that, Nathan?” Haley huffed, entirely perturbed by the young man’s idiocy. “You don’t think an education is important? You do realize that if you have a failing grade at the end of this semester, you’re going to be pulled off of the team. Then what? What do you do then?”

Nathan threw his book bag over his shoulders and then grabbed his duffel bag by his left hand. “Whitey won’t kick me off the team, Haley. I’m his best player. I’m the only chance Coach has at a championship before he retires.”

“You know Nathan; I’ve met that man on more than one occasion. A couple of my brother’s actually played on his team many years ago. And if there’s anything I’ve learned about Whitey, it’s that education is far more important to him than some stupid orange ball with the word Spalding on it,” she said forcefully. “He’ll know if you’ve failed a class, and I have no doubt in my mind that he will bench you for the remainder of the season. Think about it.”

He placed his duffel bag down onto the table and looked at the girl in front of him. Her hair was pulled back into a half ponytail and her cheeks were a rosy red. She looked just like any ordinary girl that he would pass on the street. Then again, she was anything but ordinary. Here was a girl that he had never even spoken with before, trying to make sure that all of his options were open to him. She didn’t care that he played basketball. She didn’t care that he was one of the most sought after guys in their class. She didn’t care about anything but what she was assigned to do: tutor him.

“You don’t even like basketball, do you?” Nathan wondered aloud as he took off his backpack.

Haley noticed that he had put his belongings down onto the table and looked up at him quizzically. “No, I don’t. Why?”

“All of this fighting was actually about my grades? I mean, that’s what you’re concerned with. Nothing about this fight had to deal with basketball?”

“Have you not paid attention to anything I have just said, Nathan? Jeez!” she grumbled. “Yes, that’s what I’m concerned with. Grades are important whether you realize it or not. If no one in your life is going to tell you that they are, then now I know there was an actual reason why you were assigned to me. I’m not going to let you walk away from this. You need good grades to play basketball. I care about you actually succeeding, though with the way you act towards a certain guy I know, I have no idea why I’m even fighting for you this hard,” Haley flustered aloud.

Nathan flinched and his jaw tightened at the mention of Lucas, even if she didn’t pronounce his name. He had done some incredibly horrible things to the guy. Yes, he was his half-brother, but that didn’t matter much to him. Their two families didn’t get along with each other and that was enough of a reason to make him miserable.

“So if I go to these tutoring sessions with you, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that I’m studying and I’ll be able to play?” Nathan observed.

“Wow Nathan,” Haley pointed up annoyed. “I can’t believe it took you that long to crack that code. Yes, that’s how it would work.”

“Deal,” he stated simply.

Haley’s jaw dropped slightly and her eyes widen immediately once she processed his words. Did she just win this battle with him? She actually intimidated Nathan enough to keep him going to their tutoring sessions? Things sure did not make sense today.

Before Haley was given the chance to speak, Nathan added, “You seem so surprised.”

“I – well, I mean,” she stuttered frantically. “You’re telling me that you’ll come everyday after practice and let me help you with your studies?”

Nathan shrugged his shoulders and sat back down in his seat. “Uh huh,” he nodded.

Haley looked into Nathan’s eyes and she could tell that he was being honest. No smirk was even dancing on his lips.

“Then, uh, take out your history packet and let’s go over this study guide for your test tomorrow,” Haley suggested as she sat down, as well.

As Nathan had begun to take out his history materials, Haley sat there in disbelief.

“Wait,” Haley said aloud. Nathan looked up at her expectantly and stopped rummaging through his bag. “Why are you doing this?”

“Doing what?”

“Why are you letting me tutor you? A couple of minutes ago, you had already packed your bags and were ready to forget about all of this. What gives?”

“You,” Nathan confessed. “I have never had anyone stand up to me like that before. If you’re willing to fight that much just for me to stay, I can’t even imagine what you would do if I would have walked away.”

Haley eyed him closely and then titled her head towards the books. “Yes, well, I’m glad it didn’t have to come to that,” she said as a slight smile had begun to appear upon her lips.

Nathan returned a small, sheepish grin and then went back to searching his backpack for the history packet. Once he had found it, he handed it to Haley and watched her review it once more.

“Question two: In what year did the stock market crash?”

And there they sat, as they would many days soon after. No, I wasn’t there the day Haley changed Nathan’s life forever, but I was around for many days thereafter, when they would finally have their own fairytale ending.


 
 
Mood: happyhappy
 
 
 
babyjamesisminebabyjamesismine on July 29th, 2007 08:04 pm (UTC)
Aw I really liked your version of the first tutoring session, good job! :)
autumnleaves23: NHCloudsautumnleaves23 on July 30th, 2007 06:10 pm (UTC)
Thank you for reviewing my one-shot, babyjamesismine! :)

I'm so pleased that you enjoyed reading my entry. It was definitely a fun one-shot to write. :)

Beautiful icon, by the way! Such a great NH moment! :)
babyjamesisminebabyjamesismine on July 31st, 2007 12:34 am (UTC)
It really was ♥ And you can call me Jackie =)