Chapter 1: And it all comes crashing down

“Ryan, can you please come out of your hiding place?” Quinn shouted as she ran around the house trying to find the mischievous toddler, “Come on baby, mommy is getting tired.”

“Finally feeling your age?” Nathan asked teasingly as he walked into the kitchen having heard the last of Quinn’s rant.

“Very funny,” Quinn said rolling her eyes, looking under the dining table to see whether her son was hiding there or not, “And you try running after him all day, then we’ll talk.”

“Been there, done that,” Nathan said smirking, “You don’t think Jamie was born an angel do you? He was just as hyper, if not more, as Ryan. He kept Haley and I on our toes all the time.”

“Did you just say Haley and I? After 10 years of being your tutor, my grammar is finally rubbing off on you,” Haley said grinning as she came to stand next to her husband.

“It was going to happen sooner or later,” Nathan laughed wrapping his arms around Haley.

“So the little monster’s gone missing again?” Haley asked looking as Quinn’s disheveled state.

“Yes,” Quinn groaned in frustration, “Ever since he has learned to crawl I haven’t had a moment of peace in my life.”

“Ah, I remember when Jamie was at that age. Those were some of the most worrisome days of my life. All I wanted to do was tie him in his high chair, but he would have none of it,” Haley said smiling fondly at the memory.

“Yeah, I remember when we tried doing that in the middle of the night one day, I swear that kid screamed so loudly that he woke up the entire building. Lucas swears he has never been able to hear properly after that incident,” Nathan agreed.

“Well looks like you guys are approaching that phase all over again, soon you’ll be running around the place after Nat,” Quinn said distractedly.

“I am trying not to think of that day. Nat is at her best stage at the moment, she’s finally sleeping all night, she smiles all the time unless she’s upset of course, and most importantly, she loves me more than Haley. I am in no hurry to move past this stage,” Nathan said seriously.

“Nathan Scott, Natalie does not love you more than me,” Haley gasped, turning indignantly towards her husband.

“She totally does Hales. I am the only person who can calm her down no matter how upset she is, and she smiles at me all the time,” Nathan said smugly.

“That’s only because you’re always playing with her and making stupid faces at her that she finds amusing for some stupid reason. And anyways she’s supposed to love me more, I gave birth to her,” Haley said narrowing her eyes as if waiting for Nathan to contradict her.

“Oh please, not the birth card. You know she loves me more, you’re just making excuses,” Nathan smirked. He knew he was pushing his luck, but seeing Haley all aggravated like that still gave him a thrill.

“Quinn, back me up here. Nat loves me more right?” Haley demanded of her sister who had now moved to the living room searching for her ever missing son.

“Haley Nat is two months old, you really can’t judge who she likes more at the moment,” Quinn said shaking her, “But…if I did have to pick one, I would say she loves Nathan more.”

“Quinn!” Haley said looking appalled.

“Hah, there you go,” Nathan said smiling victoriously, “Even Quinn admits it.”

“I am sorry Hales, but she is the most content around Nathan,” Quinn said shrugging.

“This is so unfair,” Haley said pouting, “I carried her for nine months, I went through 10 hours of painful labor, and now my daughter loves her dad more, and he didn’t even do anything.”

“Hey, you nearly broke my hand while giving birth,” Nathan protested.

“Oh wow, what a tragedy,” Haley said sarcastically.

“It is. If you broke my hand, my career is the NBA would be over,” Nathan said dramatically.

“Yeah for like 3 months,” Haley said moodily.

“Oh come on Hales, don’t be like that. I was just messing with you. Nat loves both of us equally,” Nathan said trying to calm her down.

“No, she doesn’t. She does love you more. Everyone can see that,” Haley said clearly upset.

“It’s just natural,” Quinn said coming back in the kitchen, “Girls are always closer to their dads. Remember how you, Viv, Taylor and I would always take dad’s side over mom? She used to get so upset about it.”

“Yeah, I remember,” Haley said smiling slightly, “I guess it’s okay if she loves you a little bit more, as long as she doesn’t start hating me.” The statement was meant as a joke, but Nathan could hear her fear beneath it.

“Haley, I don’t think there is anyone in this world who can hate you. Least of all your children. They love your more than anything else in the world, and so do I, so don’t ever think like that,” Nathan admonished.

“I am sorry, I am sorry,” Haley sighed, “My hormones are still all over the place, I really didn’t mean that.”

“Well as long as you’re okay, it’s all good,” Nathan said kissing her softly.

Before Haley could reply, they heard Jamie shout from his room, “Hey dad, can you come up here a second?”

“Coming,” Nathan replied, and giving Haley’s arm a slight squeeze, he turned around and walked out of the kitchen.

“I can’t find him anywhere,” Quinn said in a panicked as she walked back into the kitchen after checking the backyard for any sign of Ryan, “I am a terrible, terrible mother. I have lost my son, oh my god, I have seriously lost him.”

“Quinn calm down, he’s got to be here somewhere. All the doors have security alarms on them, and you know how creative Ryan can get with his hiding spots,” Haley said trying to soothe her completely frazzled sister.

“Haley I have looked everywhere. Under the bed, in the bathroom, under the swing set, in your cabinets, everywhere, he’s...”

“Right here,” Nathan said walking back into the kitchen, with a giggling Ryan in his arms.

“Ryan, oh thank god,” Quinn said quickly taking her son from Nathan’s arms and hugging him close to her chest, “You scared mommy, baby.”

“Where was he?” Haley asked.

“In Jamie’s room,” Nathan replied as Quinn’s eyes snapped back to him.

“Jamie’s room? But I just asked him if he saw Ryan and he said he didn’t,” Quinn said confused.

“Jamie found him under the coffee table, and took him to his room without telling you to play with your head a little,” Nathan said grinning as Jamie walked into the kitchen looking sheepish.

“James Lucas Scott, why would you do that to your favorite aunt?” Quinn questioned playfully, a lot calmer now that she had her son in her arms.

“I didn’t want to ruin his game. He looked like he was having so much fun,” Jamie said innocently.

“Yeah, a lot of fun scaring his mother to death,” Quinn said mock glaring at the innocent face of her son.

“Well he’s safe and healthy, so no harm done, right?” Jamie asked hopefully looking from Quinn to his mom.

“I’ll let you get away with it this time, young man. Next time, don’t scare your aunt like that,” Haley said.

“I won’t, I promise Aunt Quinn,” Jamie said nodding, “Thanks mom.” And with a quick hug to his mom, he was gone.

“Well I am going to upstairs and take a shower,” Nathan announced getting up, “But feel free to join me anytime, Hales.”

“Oh ew. There’s a baby in the room,” Quinn said looking disgusted as Nathan laughed.

“Well how do you think he got here?” Nathan asked jokingly, but immediately regretted his words as Quinn’s face fell, “Shoot, I am sorry Quinn, that was insensitive.”

“No, no, it wasn’t. You didn’t say anything wrong, don’t worry about it,” Quinn said, avoiding eye contact with both her sister and brother-in-law.

Nodding, Nathan quickly turned around and walked away.

“Quinn,” Haley said once Nathan was gone.

“Don’t Haley. It’s okay, seriously. I am over what happened, it was my fault anyways,” Quinn said shaking her head as she absentmindedly ran her hand through Ryan’s hair.

Looking down, she was reminded once again just how much he looked like his father’s. . His hair, eyes, face structure, mannerisms, everything, he was a carbon copy of his dad. And that was what made everything so difficult. She wanted so badly to forget him but the constant presence of Ryan ensured that he would always be a huge part of her whether she wanted it or not.

“Quinn, Quinn, you in there?” Haley asked waving her hand in front of her sister’s face who seemed to be in some sort of a daze.

“What? Oh yeah, I am here. Just got lost in some thoughts,” Quinn said coming back to reality.

“So, do you have any plans for today?” Haley asked as Quinn placed Ryan in his high chair and poured him some lucky charms cereal.

“Yeah, I am planning to take Ryan to the beach today. We haven’t been there in a while, and the weather today just screams ‘beach’”, Quinn said.

“Teetch?” Ryan asked looking up a huge smile on his face.

“Yes, beach,” Quinn said laughing as a look of complete excitement filled Ryan’s face.

“Someone’s a big fan of the beach,” Haley noted as she saw Ryan struggling to get out of his high chair.

“Ryan, we’ll go to the beach when you finish your cereal. So you can struggle all you want but we’re not leaving unless you’re done eating,” Quinn said sternly.

“You’re talking to him as if he understands what you’re saying,” Haley said teasingly as Ryan continued struggling. “You might as well take him out of the high chair, and take the cereal to go. He’s not going to stop struggling.”

“I shouldn’t have said the word beach around him, seriously it’s like taboo,” Quinn said giving in as she freed Ryan from the high chair.

“Teetch,” Ryan said giggling clapping his small hands together.

“Yes, we’re going to the beach,” Quinn said shaking her head, a small smile on her face.

“Wait Quinn, is that his first word? I don’t think I have heard him say anything so real sounding before,” Haley asked interestedly.

“No, it isn’t,” Quinn answered shortly, and before Haley could ask any more questions, she got up and walked out of the kitchen.

--

5 minutes later, Quinn and Ryan appeared again, this time completely ready for their outing.

“Aww, my godson looks so cute,” Haley said, coming over and giving Ryan a kiss.

“Yeah, that’s the one thing he is good that,” Quinn said laughing, “Anyways, we’ll be back by dark.”

“Alright, have fun,” Haley said walking them to the door.

“Ta ta,” Ryan said as he waved and gave Haley a flying kiss.

“Oh aren’t you just a charmer,” Quinn said as she strapped him to his car seat and gave him a quick kiss on the forehead.

“See you in a couple hours,” Quinn said to Haley, and with that she got into the car and drove away.

“Like father like son,” Haley muttered shaking her head sadly.

--

She had just walked back inside the house, when a knock stopped her in her tracks.

Wondering who could be calling in the middle of the afternoon, Haley turned around towards the door, and quickly opened it. However, the person on the other side caused her to blink in surprise. Surely she was imagining him here, she hadn’t seen him in almost 2 years and all of a sudden he was there standing on their doorsteps.

“Hey Haley,” the guy greeted, looking slightly uncomfortable.

“Clay, what are you doing here?” Haley asked once the shock had worn off a little, and she was sure she was not hallucinating him there.

“Well nice to see you too,” Clay said smiling slightly.

“I am sorry, that was so rude of me. Come on in. You just took me by surprise, you were the last person I was expecting to see—”

“Haley, who is it?” Nathan asked coming downstairs. When he noticed Clay, his face broke into a smile, “You came.”

“I came. I don’t think I could have refused an offer like that,” Clay said seriously.

“What offer?” Haley asked curiously, “Nathan, were you expecting him to show up.”

“Yes and no,” Nathan said as he led them to the living room, “I was hoping he would show up, but I wasn’t sure. That’s why I didn’t mention anything to you Haley.”

“What? What are you talking about?” Haley asked beyond confused.

“Nathan offered me a deal to become his agent again, he has been after me for the past six months, it was only a matter of time before I cracked,” Clay explained.

“You and Nathan have been in touch for the past six months?” Haley asked shocked, “How did you know where he was?”

“I ran into him in a bar in Charlotte, and I haven’t left him alone ever since,” Nathan answered, “So have you thought about my offer? I know you’ve been dealing with independent clients for the past year and a half but this is a great opportunity—”

“I know it is a great opportunity. That’s why I am here. But I have a question,” Clay said looking straight at Nathan.

“What is it?” Nathan asked curiously.

“Why are you doing this for me? You didn’t seem to give a damn what happened to me or my career before I left, so why now?” Clay asked bluntly.

“Because I was an idiot. I was angry that you screwed up my deal, and at that time I just wanted you gone. But when I found out what you had done for me—”

“So this is just some sort of a repayment for what I did?” Clay asked.

“To a certain extent, yes, but mostly it’s an apology. You messed up, but everyone makes mistakes, and I shouldn’t have ended you career because of that. It was selfish and I am sorry. But by the time I realized that, you had already left, and when I found out what you had done for me, I felt so guilty that I tried hunting you down, but it was like you had vanished,” Nathan explained.

“Yeah, I was lying low for a while,” Clay admitted, not wanting to go into more detail about the dark days that had followed his dismissal from ISC, “Anyways, I have thought a lot about your proposal, and if Ken is willing to negotiate the deal, then consider in done.”

“Seriously?” Nathan asked grinning.

“Seriously,” Clay said smiling slightly, “I’d be an idiot not to take the deal.”

“You won’t regret it, I promise. And believe it or not, Ken is very excited to have you on board again. According to his secretary he missed having you around.”

“Kinda disturbing, but hey if it gets me the job then he can miss me all he wants,” Clay joked.

“Okay, I really don’t appreciate being this uninformed. What the hell is going on?” Haled asked.

But before Nathan could answer, Natalie stated crying from upstairs, her voice echoing loud and clear from the baby monitor placed nearby.

“I have to go see her, but this conversation isn’t over,” Haley said looking at Nathan as she got up.

“Oh yeah I heard you guys had a baby girl,” Clay said, “Congratulations.”

“Thanks, her name is Natalie, and she will bring down the house if I don’t go check on her,” Haley said laughing as she turned around and quickly walked out of the living room. Soon, the two men heard the baby monitor shut down, indicating that Haley has gotten the situation under control.

“How does it feel like to be a dad again?” Clay asked after a couple minutes.

“Honestly, it feels amazing. Last time I became a dad, I was 17, so 25 is definitely an improvement,” Nathan said laughing, “But it’s great. She’s so amazing Clay, she makes everything worthwhile.”

“You’re a great dad, Nate, Your kids are lucky to have you and Haley as their parents,” Clay said sincerely.

“Thanks,” Nathan said quietly, “So it looks like you’re my agent again.”

“Looks like it,” Clay nodded.

“So you’re moving to Tree Hill? Or are you planning to stay in Charlotte?” Nathan asked.

“Nah, I am moving back here. I talked to Ken on the phone yesterday, and he is willing to give me back my office back and everything,” Clay said, “Plus, this place has felt more like home to me than any other place I have been in ever since Sa—a long time.”

“Well it’s good to have you back,” Nathan said sincerely, “I know things aren’t ideal between us, but I am sorry for what happened, and I hope we can work things out again.”

“You aren’t the only one at blame Nathan. We both made mistakes, we both acted rashly. But like I told you that night on the rivercourt, you were the best friend I had, and while we might not be at that point right now, I am pretty sure we’ll get there again,” Clay said quietly.

“Yeah,” Nathan nodded, then deciding they had shared enough feelings for one day, changed the subject, “So do you know where you’re staying?”

“My beach house is still empty, so I am going to go back to living there. I sent in my furniture yesterday, so it should be all set by the time I get there,” Clay said.

“Well if you need anything else, we’re here for you,” Nathan said.

“Yeah, I know. Thanks,” Clay said, “But I really should get going, I have a lot of things to do before I start work on Monday.”

“Alright, I’ll see you later then,” Nathan said getting up.

“Yeah, definitely,” Clay said opening the door and walking out, “I’ll call you if something comes up, but the dealings look pretty final, so I am pretty sure we don’t have much to worry about.”

“I hope so,” Nathan said as Clay got in his car, and with a final wave, he drove away.

--

30 minutes later

“He left?” Haley asked as she came downstairs with a gurgling Natalie in her arms.

“Yeah, about ½ an hour ago,” Nathan said as he immediately took his daughter from Haley’s hands.

“So he’s back in Tree Hill for good?” Haley asked nervously, sitting next to Nathan on the couch.

“Yeah, Ken’s agreed to give him back his old office back and—holy crap he’s moving to Tree Hill,” Nathan’s eyes widened as if something had just dawned on him.

“What are we going to tell Quinn?” Haley asked anxiously.

“I have a feeling that he will get to Quinn before us,” Nathan said with a sinking feeling in his stomach.

“What do you mean?” Haley asked urgently.

“You said that Quinn was at the beach right?” Nathan asked.

“Yeah,” Haley nodded.

“Clay’s moving into his old beach house,” Nathan said quietly, and by the small gasp Haley emitted, he knew that she understood the situation.

--

Quinn was standing on the beach staring at the endless ocean in front of her, while Ryan played with his sand toys a few feet ahead of her. This beach held so many memories for her, both good and bad, and she didn’t know which ones were more overwhelming. She had had heart fixed and broken here by the same man here, and no matter how hard she tried to escape it, he was everywhere. This beach was their “spot”, for those 2 blissful weeks, this place was their haven, but that happiness was short lived.

Unconsciously, her eyes drifted to the place where everything fell apart.

-Flashback-

“You’re very quiet tonight,” Quinn observed as she ran her finger through Clay’s hair while he lay on her lap.

“Just thinking,” Clay muttered quietly.

“Anything important?” Quinn asked gently.

“Just my miserable life,” Clay said bluntly.

“Clay—”

“No, Quinn, don’t. You know as well as I do, that I am in hell right now. Your words aren’t going to change the way I feel,” Clay snapped.

“I was just trying to help,” Quinn said softly.

“Well don’t. I don’t need your help. I brought this upon myself. I got careless, I deserve this,” Clay said miserably.

“You don’t deserve this Clay, nobody does. You made a mistake, it happens. It’s not fair that you have to pay such a big price for it,” Quinn said stubbornly.

“Nothing in my life has ever been fair, I am kind of used to it by now,” Clay said bitterly.

“There has to be some way out of this situation,” Quinn said desperately.

“There is,” Clay said quietly after a couple of minutes.

“What is it?” Quinn asked eagerly.

“I have been thinking about it for a while, and I think this will be the best way to go- for both of us,” Clay said softly.

“Both of us?” Quinn asked confused.

“Yes, both of us,” Clay said taking a deep breath, “Quinn, I think we should stop seeing each other.”

“What?” Quinn asked shocked, “Where is this coming from?”

“That’s the way it should have been in the first place. This, this thing between us should have never happened. Nathan told me to stay away from you, and I should have respected his wishes. Ending this relationship, or whatever you want to call it, before it escalates, will be good for both of us,” Clay said as he gazed at the dark sea in front of him.

“You don’t know that Clay, you—”

“I do know that Quinn,” Clay interrupted, “This has affected both of us, I mean you and Haley aren’t even speaking to each other anymore.”

“Clay—”

“I need to fix the mess I made, Quinn. I need to prove to Nathan my worth, and somehow get him on the Bobcats again. I need to do this by my. I can’t do that with you around,” Clay said quietly, hating every word that came out of his mouth.

“So that’s it? This is over? Just like that?” Quinn asked quietly.

“Just like that,” Clay said softly, trying to not let any emotions show.

“Alright then,” Quinn said quickly getting up, she didn’t want him to see how much he had hurt her, “I am sorry. For everything.”

“Quinn, none of this is your fault,” Clay said grabbing her hand. She had to understand that he didn’t blame her for anything that had happened. She had been the best thing that had happened to him since Sara, and now it was all over. Over before it even started.

“Somehow it feels like is,” Quinn said quietly, and freeing her wrist from Clay’s grasp, she turned around and quickly walked away, leaving a miserable Clay behind.

-End Flashback-


Shaking her head, Quinn tried to unsuccessfully pry her head away from all the unpleasant thoughts that plagued her every time she looked at that particular spot. She knew she was just hurting herself by continuing to relive those memories, but she couldn’t find an escape from them.

Forcing herself to think about happy thoughts, she turned her attention towards her son who was still playing in the sand. He was trying very hard to build a mountain of sand, but every time he reached over to get more sand, the rest of the pile would fall off. Quinn laughed slightly as his sand mountain collapsed once again and was just about to go and help him, when she heard a voice she thought she would never hear again.

“Quinn?”

Spinning around, she felt her eyes grow wide as she realized that it was in fact him standing in front of her. After almost 2 years of silence, he was here, in front of her, without any warning.

“Clay?” Quinn gasped once she could get her mouth to function, “What are you doing here?”

“Taking a stroll on the beach,” Clay answered in a ‘duh’ voice. He knew what she meant, he just felt like playing around with her a bit.

“No, I mean what are you doing in Tree Hill?” Quinn asked rephrasing the question. She snuck a quick glance at Ryan and was glad he was facing away from them.

“I live here, now,” Clay answered, wondering how she would react.

“What? Since when?” Quinn asked thunderstruck. Of all the things he could have said this was the last thing she had expected or wanted to hear.

“ISC gave me a deal, they want me to come back, and Nathan wants me as an agent, the offer was pretty awesome, so I accepted it,” Clay explained.

“Oh, that’s great,” Quinn said uncomfortably, sneaking another glance at Ryan.

“Yeah, after the life I have been living for the past 2 years, it is—is there some cute behind you that you keep sneaking glances to? I know it’s none of my business, but you seem so distracted. If this is bad timing for you—”

“Yeah it is kind of a bad time. I really have to get going—”

“You’re hiding something,” Clay said looking at her closely.

“No, I am not,” Quinn said quickly.

“Yes, you are. I can tell,” Clay said stubbornly.

“Don’t pretend like you know me Clay, this is really not the time,” Quinn snapped.

“Well then if you’re not hiding anything, let me see who you keep glancing towards?” Clay challenged.

“No, that’s a bad idea,” Quinn said hastily as she stepped in front of Clay. Bad move. Because in trying to prevent Clay from walking forward and see Ryan, she had given him a perfect view of him.

“Were you looking at that kid?” Clay asked confused.

“No, I wasn’t. Why would I be looking at that kid?” Quinn asked laughing nervously.

“I don’t know. You tell me,” Clay said.

“Clay, look please, just drop this. This is not the time or the place. I’ll talk to you later—”

“He’s your son isn’t he?” Clay asked quietly, stopping Quinn in between her rant.

“What?” Quinn asked stunned, as he moved around her and started walking towards where Ryan was sitting playing with his toys, completely oblivious to the world around him.

“He’s your son,” Clay repeated again, but this time it was more of a statement than a question.

“Clay, you really don’t want to do that,” Quinn insisted grabbing his arms before he could turn to come face to face with Ryan.

“Why not?” Clay asked confused. “Are you ashamed of him or something? Because I am pretty sure he’s a cute kid, I mean look who he has for a mom.”

“Clay—”

“I just want to see him,” Clay insisted, his interest being peaked at what Quinn was trying to hide, “Come on, its not like one look at him would be the end of the world.”

And with that, he gently pried her numb fingers away from his arms, and walked around so that he was face to face with Ryan.

“See, nothing—” However, at that very moment Ryan chose to lift his head up to meet the stranger, and Clay felt his words die in his throat.

“It is the end of the world,” Quinn whispered as she took in Clay’s horrified expression.

“Clay?” Quinn asked after he hadn’t said anything for more than two minutes.

“Say it,” Clay whispered. His eyes were still fixed on Ryan who was staring at him curiously.

“What?” Quinn asked confused.

“Say it,” Clay repeated in a much harsher tone.

“Say what?” Quinn asked desperately, but when he raised his furious eyes to meet hers, she immediately understood what he wanted her to say.

“Clay we can—”

“Just say it god dammit,” Clay almost hissed. He knew he looked completely inhumane, but he didn’t care. He needed to hear the truth from her, and he needed to hear it now.

Shaking, Quinn took a deep breath, and looking straight into his eyes repeated the words Clay had said only a couple minutes earlier, “He’s your son.”

And with those 3 words, Clay felt his world crash into pieces all around him.
--

A/N: So this has got to be the hardest thing I have ever written. I don’t know how I feel about it, but this is an idea that has been in my head for a long time, and I couldn’t seem to get rid of it. So I decided to put it on paper and make a story out of it. I have the whole plot planned, and I am kind of excited about how I am going to make this work, since this is such a new couple.
So, let me know what you think

Original version on fanfiction.net link