One Tree Hill Boss Talks Season 9 Duos: 'Naley,' 'Brulian' and... 'Deller'? (Dan and Chris Keller!)

One Tree Hill‘s final season kicks off this Wednesday at 8/7c, and while you may think you already know every little thing there is to know about the CW sudser’s last hurrah, Mark Schwahn is here to set you straight.

The OTH creator shares here, in his own words, the goods on what Season 9 has in store for the small town’s beloved twosomes — romantic or otherwise.

HALEY & NATHAN | “I don’t think it would be Nathan and Haley if they didn’t have obstacles ahead of them. That being said, we get to see the strength of that couple and the reasons they are so destined to be together. We’re in Season 9 and we know the fans care deeply about them, so we wouldn’t have done a last season in which they weren’t the focal point.”

BROOKE & JULIAN | “I was really compelled by the fact that Brooke has wanted that family dynamic for so long — which is why in Episode 1, it’s funny to see how sleepless and miserable she and Julian have become. But at the same time, her life is not without its struggles, but the place she’s at currently is really good. Obstacles will present themselves, some of them family-related and some of them professional, and then there’s the matter of [Brooke’s Season 6 attacker] Xavier’s parole, which is also on the horizon. But for them, first and foremost, it’s that they have have a family now, and their responsibility towards that will dictate some of their choices.”

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HALEY & CHRIS KELLER | “Chris Keller (played by Tyler Hilton) carries a torch for Haley, there’s no doubt about it. They’re both older now, but they’re still the same people they always were — and Chris is still a wonderful scoundrel. He’ll still be in Haley’s life a lot this season, and he’ll still be a bit of a predator. But Haley is more mature now and has a family that she loves very much, so their relationship is framed so differently than when they were together before. I feel that when Chris Keller is onscreen, there’s just a different dynamic to the show in really fun, playful ways because villains can make choices that the heroes can’t. But sometimes the antagonists can be the heroes and people will see a little bit of that this year — and not just from Chris.”

CHRIS KELLER & DAN | “Villains understand villains. I can’t even tell if Dan likes Chris Keller at all, but he does know that in a pinch there’s someone who will understand the language he’s speaking, and maybe even understand his motives. Those two have had interesting relationships with the Scott family over the years, so they’re kind of birds of a feather, and without saying too much, this is why they can exist in each other’s worlds. They can be thick as thieves.”

DAN & JAMIE | “Jamie is growing up and becoming aware of the pedigree of the Scott family name and what that means. He’s becoming aware of who his father was and who his grandfather was. I love seeing ‘Grandpa Dan’ in a classic sense, though. He’s been a villain and has made bad choices, but never in regards to his grandson. He’s always putting Jamie first and teaching him grace, nobility and honor.”

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MOUTH & MILLIE | “When one person in a relationship is making choices that the other doesn’t approve of, it really tests things — sometimes comedically, sometimes through frustration — and that’s their journey this year. Millie’s not going to shed many tears, but that doesn’t mean she won’t have a point of view and be involved in Mouth’s struggles. [Editor’s Note: Schwahn revealed at last week’s “Evening with One Tree Hill” event that Mouth will gain a significant amount of weight in Season 9, putting a strain on his relationship.]

CLAY & QUINN | “In the premiere we have a huge, angry argument between these two, so we know there are dark clouds ahead. Clay is just over being sick. He’s been poked and prodded, he’s been shot and had to do some rehab, and before that he was depressed over losing [his wife] Sara. He’s found his way through a lot of that, but [things like that] can effect your personal relationships. Clay’s going to make some mistakes, selfishly, and he’s going to have to pay for those.”

CHASE & ALEX | “Human beings just want what they want sometimes, even if they know they’re making mistakes, and I like that energy on the show. And that is what sort of infiltrates Chase and Alex’s relationship this season.”

Which couple’s journey are you most excited to see in One Tree Hill‘s final season?