Return to One Tree Hill

Episode 2- Welcome Home

 

The persistent plong plong plong sound of basketball meeting concrete was a sound deeply ingrained into the soul of the river court. For years, friends and foes alike had faced off and come together under the lights and hoops. Some had found it a gathering place, a spot where friends could meet and hang out. For others, it was a place of solace and reflection, and those often chose to come alone. 

   It was still Nathan Scott's haven, one of the few places he felt completely at peace and ease. It had been that way for him since before he'd become a star player for the Ravens. And, he suspected, it would be the case long after he was able to dribble a ball. 

   “Whew, number twenty three.” The attractive brunette fanned herself as she stepped from the grass onto concrete. “You still look damn fine on a basketball court.”

   With a grin, he turned towards the voice that had been lifting him up since he was seventeen. 

    “Well, if it isn’t Haley James.” He tucked the ball under his arm as he stood, hip slacked at the free throw line. “My favorite cheerleader. What are you doing here?”

   “I could ask you the same thing.” Haley strolled over to wrap her arms around his waist, tipping her head back to look into his face. “It's awful late to be squeezing in some practice. What's going on in that head of yours?”

   “Just going over things for this meeting Clay has set up for tomorrow,” he replied, dropping chin to rest it on the top of her head.

   “Worried?”

    “A little.” He shrugged. “It’s nothing we haven’t been through before, but this deal is big. It could go a long way towards the goal of setting up an office on the west coast.”

   “You’ll be fine,” Hayley told him with a reassuring squeeze. “Nash Hendrix would be crazy not to sign with Fortitude. You and Clay have a great reputation for standing up, and for, your players.”

   “Maybe you should sit in on this meeting tomorrow,” Nate chuckled. “You’ve got a great sales pitch.”

   “I learned from the best.” She rested her chin on his chest as she sighed.

   “What’s wrong?”

   “What?” Haley squeezed again as she looked up at him. “Nothing. Absolutely nothing.” She tipped up on her toes for a quick kiss before taking a look around. “Do you think this place will ever get old?”

   “The river court?” Wrapping an arm around her shoulder, Nate scanned his surroundings. “No, never.”

   “Me either.” She paused for a moment as she took in the sight of the Cape Fear under the lights. “So, I just got off the phone with Lucas before I came over to find you.”

   “Yeah?” Nate grinned as they began to stroll over to the lone picnic tablet that had stood watch over the court for as many years as Nathan could remember. “What’s my big brother up to?”

   “Not much.” Haley hitched herself up on the table and sat. “Sawyer’s still giving them a run for their money.”

   “Teenagers.” Even as he said the word, he thought of the one he still had living at home.

   “Yeah. And then some.” Haley leaned over to lay her head on her husband’s shoulder as she reached out to lace her fingers through his. “Nathan, you should know, Lucas and Peyton...they’re talking about moving back to Tree Hill.”

   “Get out of here.” In his surprise, Nathan turned to his wife, causing her head to slide from his shoulder. “Lucas Scott, moving back to Tree Hill? Are you serious?”

   “I’m just telling you what he told me.”

   “He swore he’d never move back here. I mean, I’ve always hoped he would, especially after Dan died.” 

   “I’d love to have him back, too. But I’m afraid his homecoming wouldn’t just be for a joyous reunion. Apparently, things are getting pretty bad with Sawyer.”

   “Damn, I hate that for them.” He reached over to pull his wife back to his side and just sat thinking for a minute. “Have they made any decisions yet?”

   “They’re weighing their options. I mean, Peyton’s got her job at the label, so that’ll be hard to walk away from.” Haley sighed. “And it’s not like history’s going to repeat itself and she’ll create another Red Bedroom Records here in Tree Hill.”

   “True. And Luke has been writing for that show for a while now.”

   “Yeah, but apparently, he’s run the idea past the bigwigs out there and they’ve said he can write from here, send his pages in by email and whatnot.” Haley shrugged. “I’m not sure of the logistics of it all, but they worked out an arrangement if it comes to that.”

   “Where would they live? I mean, Jamie took over Karen’s old house. Surely they wouldn’t kick him out.” 

   “Well, technically, it is still Lucas and Peyton’s house. And besides,” she grinned, “you’re missing one key element in this particular situation.”

   “Which is?”

   “If Jamie has to move out of their house, he’ll have to move back in with us.” She watched as his grin spread to match hers. “At least temporarily.”

   “I like the way you think. And it would be nice to have everyone living under the same roof again, even if it’s only for a little while.”

   “It would definitely only be for a little while. Not because I wouldn’t want him at home,” she added at the look he shot her, “but because he’ll be starting a new job soon and I’m pretty sure he’s not going to want to live with his parents.”

   “Oh, yeah? What will the boy be doing?”

   “Well,” she began as she stood and pulled her husband to his feet. Taking the basketball he still held, she tossed it between her hands. “It seems like he’s following in the Scott family tradition by becoming a coach for the Tree Hill Ravens.”

    “What?” The shocked look on Nathan’s face become one of intense paternal pride. “He got a coaching job with the Ravens?”

    “Not a job,” Haley corrected with her own proud smile. “THE job. He’s going to be the head coach. Can you believe it?”

   “Oh, yeah. That boy’s been a Raven from the day he was born.” Nathan shook his head as he put his arm around Haley and began walking to where their SUV sat parked at courtside. “He’s always been determined when it comes to basketball. Remember when he was - what, ten? - and he told me he was going to break my scoring records?”

   “Yeah. I believe you told him he’d need to grow some more.” Laughing, she tossed Nathan the ball. “I guess he showed you, smashing your record his senior year.”

   “I was right, though. All those years I ragged on him about getting his shortness from you...who would have guessed he’d grow six inches his freshman year?”

   “And keep on growing?” Haley shook her head at the memory. “I couldn’t keep that boy in clothes that fit.”

   “Or shoes.”

   “Oh, God the shoes.” She couldn’t help but laugh as they stepped up to the vehicle. “Don’t remind me.”

   “Alright. I’ll just remind you of something else.” Tossing the basketball through the open driver’s window, Nathan stepped back to press his wife’s back again the car door. “Do you have a curfew tonight, Haley James?”

   “Nope,” she replied, playing along as she snaked her arms around his neck. “My parents are out of town and I have the house all to myself.” Send him a coy smile, she played with his hair. “What did you have in mind?”

   “Well, I was going to suggest making out in the backseat, but you’ve just given me other ideas.” Setting his hands on her hips, he dipped his head down to kiss her once, twice, three times before she sighed.             “Lydia’s at a sleepover tonight, right?” The question was asked on a husky whisper.

   “Yep.” Haley nipped at Nathan’s lower lip. “She won’t be back till late tomorrow morning.”

The look between them sizzled before they gave in to laughter as they sped to get in the car and race home.

 

* * *

   The next morning, somewhere over Kansas, Lucas Scott sat shoulder-to-shoulder with the other airline passengers, a drink in one hand and his head in the other. Occasionally, his fingers would wind through his sandy blonde hair, causing it to stand in spikes in every direction. As the plane few miles above the ground, worries and doubts filled his mind, and he wondered if he was making the right decisions about the most important aspects of his life.

   His work was going well. When he’d moved to L.A. with Peyton and Sawyer, he’d never dreamed he’d be writing for television, let alone one of the most popular series in the country. Lucas like his job well enough, but there were times - more and more lately - where he found himself wanting to get back to where his dreams had started.

   He wanted to write another book.

   He wasn’t sure what it would be about, but the longing to write something, anything, besides what he was currently writing was tugging at him hard. But he’d been ignoring those tugs of longing, putting his dreams on the back burner to focus on his family.

   Namely, his daughter.

   When they’d discussed the idea of moving to L.A. when Sawyer was a baby, Lucas and Peyton had thought it was a solid idea. And the first few years had been great. There had always been something to see or do or experience. But now that Sawyer was getting older, there were experiences Lucas didn’t want his only daughter having. A beautiful girl, Sawyer had begged her parents to let her go into modeling. They’d agreed, with limitations, of course. But it appeared the limitations weren’t enough. Sawyer seemed to be on a slippery slope, a course her parents were at a loss to know how to correct.

   Lucas was hoping this trip would provide answers.

   He continued to think over his family’s situation as the plane flew closer to Tree Hill. Lucas called it thinking, or even contemplation, but the women in his life - Peyton, Hayley, and his own mother, to name a few - called it brooding.

   He’d been arguing with them over it for years.

   When the plane finally touched down, his mood grew lighter, his anticipation growing at the thought of seeing all the people he missed by living on the other side of the country. Lucas made quick work of luggage claim and getting a rental car. By the time he slid behind the wheel and put the key in the ignition, he was almost smiling.

   Driving down the familiar streets, he wondered where he should go first. It was Saturday, and a beautiful summer day, so everyone would be scattered. Lucas decided his best bet would be to start at the other Scott house, the one belonging to his brother and his best childhood friend.

   It only took a matter of minutes before he found himself pulling up in front of the house Nathan and Haley had called home for twenty years. The home was not a mansion, but still impressive. Between Nate’s basketball career and Hayley’s rise to music stardom, the pair had been able to carve out a spacious home, one that always made friends and family alike feel welcome.

   Striding up the walk, Lucas knocked on the door, leaning against the doorframe as he waited. When the door swung open, he tipped his sunglasses down to peer over the tops of them.
   “You don’t write, you don’t call. Does a guy have to fly across the country to get some attention?”

   “Luke.” Nathan stepped over the threshold to grab his brother in a bear hug. “What are you doing here, man?”

   “Thought I’d come back for a quick visit.”

   “Just you?” Nathan asked as they stepped inside and he closed the door.

   “Yeah. It was a last minute thing and Peyton had to work. She made Sawyer go with her.” Lucas studied the living room, noted the quiet. “Where is everyone?”

   “Lydia is sleeping off the effects of an all-nighter. Slumber party,” Nate clarified at the eyebrow quirk Lucas shot him. “Hayley’s at the cafe. And Jamie’s either at your old place or the gym.”

   “The cafe, huh?” Lucas took his sunglasses, hooking the earpiece into the collar of his shirt. “One of the places I wanted to see while I was here. What do you say, little brother? How about we kill two birds with one stone and go surprise Hayley?”

   “I say it sounds like a plan. Man, she’s going to freak out when she sees you.”

   “Should be fun then.”


* * *

   Hayley hustled behind the counter at Karen’s Cafe, as the late breakfast crowd shifted over to the early lunch crowd. She bussed tables, delivered food, and wiped down counters, just as she had since reopening the cafe. Just as she had when she’d worked here as a teenager, when Karen Scott had owned the place.

   She loved it just as much - if not more - now than she did then.

   Back behind the counter, Hayley took a minute to refill the cookie jar. When the bells on the door chimed, she called out to the newcomers in what was now second nature.

   “Hi, welcome to Karen’s. Grab a table and I’ll be with you in just a minute.”

   “Thanks, but I’ve always preferred seat at the counter.”

   At the familiar voice, Hayley’s head snapped up, her eyes going wide at the sight of Lucas Scott standing in her diner, grinning that lopsided grin of his.

   “Lucas? Oh, my God. Lucas!” Dropping the tongs she’d used for the cookies, Hayley ran around the counter to leap at her old friend, wrapping her arms around his neck as he lifted her off her feet.

   “Nice to see you too, Hales.” Chuckling, Lucas set her back on her feet, leaning back to get a good look at her. “Pretty as ever.”

   “What are you doing here? And why didn’t you tell us you were coming?” she asked with a swat to his arm.

   “I’m here for a visit. And I wanted to surprise you.”

   “You sure did. Does Nathan know you’re here?”

   “Yeah, he rode with me from your house. My first stop.” He tapped her on the nose with his finger. 

   “Where are the girls? Did they come with you?”

   “Not this time.” He led her over to the counter where they both boosted themselves onto a stool. “Work stuff.”

   “Damn, it would have been great for us to all be together for a bit. But I’ll settle for just you.” Hayley winked and started to speak again when she caught movement out of the corner of her eye. “Or maybe you and a couple other people.” She nodded towards the front door where Brooke Davis Baker was reaching for the handle. 

   “Well, as I live and breathe. If it isn’t Lucas Scott back in Tree Hill.” Brooke stood, hands on hips, just inside the door. “Never thought I’d see the day.” Her husky laugh followed her as she strode over to hug Lucas.

   “It’s just a quick visit.” Chuckling, Lucas swayed along with the hug. “Hey there, pretty girl.”

   “Hey yourself, handsome. Where’s Peyton Marie?” she asked as they parted.

   “I was just telling Hales that Peyton and Sawyer are still in Los Angeles. Work stuff,” he shrugged.

   “Too bad. Looks like we get you all to ourselves. How long are you here for?”

   “Couple days.”

   “Not nearly enough time.” Brooke sighed, looked over to Haley. “Hey, you’ve got spare rooms at your place. We could lock him up, keep him here.”

   “If only,” Haley laughed as she slid from the stool. “But I guess we’ll have to settle for all of us together for dinner.”

   “Oh, I like that idea.” Brooke clapped her hands in excitement. “I have to get back to the store, but text me and let me know and we’ll be there.” With a peck on the cheek for Lucas and a wave for Hayley, Brooke was out the door as quick as she’d come through it.

   “She doesn’t change, does she?” Lucas laughed.

   “And probably never will, God love her.” WIth a laugh of her own, Hayley turned to go back behind the counter. “So, what are your plans for today?”

   “Oh, I thought I’d hang around town for a bit, see who I could bump into, maybe go by the old house and see Jamie.”

   “Well, if he’s not there, then he’ll be settling into his new job.”

   “Oh, yeah? What’s he doing now?”

   “Pull up a stool and Nathan can tell you over lunch.” She winked at him as she went back to work. “He’s pretty proud of it.” 

 

* * * 

 

   Across town, Jamie sat in his new office, unaware he was the center of conversation. He sat in complete and total awe at the fact he was behind the desk as a coach for his alma mater. Like his uncle had been, like his father and grandfather had stepped in to do, like Skills had been. Now it was his turn.

   He couldn’t wait to get started.

   He had a lot to do. There was conditioning to set up, plays to modify and create. Tryouts to schedule. Not to mention preparing for his classes. Not only had he followed in his father’s footsteps with basketball, he’d followed in his mother’s by becoming a teacher. 

   To his way of thinking, it was the best of both worlds.

   Now he had to just figure out a way to balance his new work life with having an actual life. One that included having a girlfriend and going out somewhere other than ball games. 

   His phone rang, pulling him from his thoughts. Grinning at the sight of his mom’s number on the screen, he quickly tapped the button to connect the call.

   “Hey, Mom.”

   “Hello, son of mine.” Jamie could hear the smile in her voice. “What are you up to?”

   “Setting up my new office.” The tone of pride came across the line loud and clear. “What’s up?”

   “Well, Mr. Head Coach, if you’re not too busy tomorrow night, you might want to come to dinner.”

   “Okay.” Confusion crept into his voice. “But we just had family dinner last night.”

   “Well, I mean if you don’t want to come, that’s fine.” Hayley’s voice gave away her shrug of indifference.    “But you’ll miss out on spending some time with Uncle Lucas.”

   “Uncle Lucas is in town?” Smiling, Jamie nodded. “Sweet.”

   “So you’ll be there, then?”

   “Ah,” he hesitated, remembering his plans for the evening in question. “I kind of have a date, but I’ll see if I can’t rearrange things.”

   “Bring her with you.”

   “Mom --”

   “C’mon, you’ve been seeing her awhile now and we’re dying to meet her.” Hayley sounded as if she were on the verge of begging. “What better time to do it than when we’re all together at once?”

   “Okay, fine. I’ll ask her but I’m not making any promises she’ll come.”

   “Good enough. I’ll see you tomorrow, baby. I love you.”

   “Love you too, Mom.”

   As he hung up the phone, he let out a long rush of breath. He texted Maddy, knowing she’d be fine with the idea of changing their plans. It’s just how she was.

   But boy, was his family in for a surprise when they met her.
 

   Vote for Episode 3 now...the poll closes May 12, 2019!

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