Author's Note: Hey guys. So I told myself I wasn't going to start another story until I finally finished my first one. But here I am. I couldn't help myself. The other one is nearing its end so I guess it's ok...lol.
This fic is set up that it could be multi-chapter (but nowhere near as long as my first fic) if you guys like it and want to see it continue, or it could also stand alone as well if you hate it.
Disclaimer: I do not own One Tree Hill or any of its characters.
"La Lakers Nathan Scott and sketch artist Peyton Sawyer seen walking through airport together," blared from the television set of Nathan and Haley's Tree Hill, North Carolina home. "A romantic getaway perhaps?" the host continued.
"Hales, why you watching that?" Lucas Scott asked, taking the remote from her hand and switching the station to the sports channel.
"Hey!" she huffed. "You realize you don't live here, right?"
"Answer the question," he returned. "Why are you watching it when you know it's crap?"
"Entertainment," she replied smoothly. "And a chance to see my husband."
"One," Lucas said, "you'll see him tonight, and two, you have a weird sense of amusement. I don't know how you do it. All this press is just driving me crazy."
Haley chuckled. "Everyone has to make a living."
"Off spreading lies? Pretty shady, if you ask me."
"You expect anything less from the paparazzi?" she asked. "Peyton's in the big times now, Luke. You'd better get used to it like I had to."
"Like I said, I don't know how you do it."
"I didn't handle it very well for the longest time," she admitted. "If you'll recall that whole Renee scandal last year."
"Oh, I recall," he teased. "You actually bitch slapped a pregnant woman."
She tossed him a dirty look before speaking again. "Yeah, see. I do get it, Luke. But think of it this way, at the very least, Peyton's getting exposure."
"Yeah, wrong kind of exposure."
"Hey, no press is bad press."
"Let me just say I whole-heartedly disagree with that statement," Lucas said flatly. "I just wish they'd let up," he added. "This has been going on for weeks now."
"And it'll keep going on until the press realize there's no story there and move on to some other unsuspecting celebrity," she said. "Luke, are you sure you're ready to be married to an upcoming sketch artist? I mean, you're happy for her, aren't you?"
"Of course I am. And I'm so insanely proud of her. It's just this..."
"It will blow over, I promise," she told him, patting his leg in understanding. "The press will get bored with them soon."
"I hope you're right."
"In all our years of friendship, have I ever steered you wrong?"
"Well, there was this one time in grade school..., no, I'm kidding. You never have."
"No. So trust me now. And tell me how excited you are that her flight arrives tonight?"
"Pretty excited," he answered, now smiling ear to ear. "I get why she has to go. There's not much opportunity for an artist in Tree Hill. But every time she leaves, I just want to pull her back. But I don't. Instead I count the days for her return."
"Aww. I used to do that. Now, Nathan's gone so much, I kind of lose track."
"I daresay that will never happen to me," Lucas said gallantly. "I will always be counting the days because they're too damn lonely without her."
"You're so sappy," Haley teased.
"And you're not?" Lucas countered. "You forget you told me about the romantic dinner you have planned tomorrow night. Brooke watching Jamie? You and Nathan here all alone? Couple glasses of wine? Soft music playing in the background? Bow chicka wow wow..."
"Oh, shut up!" she exclaimed, her cheeks reddening. "What about you, huh? You got something special planned with Peyton?"
"I do," he answered with a wink. "Romantic dinner. Brooke watching Sawyer. Me and Peyton all alone. Couple glasses of wine. Soft music playing in the background. Bow chicka wow wow..."
"Oh my God, stop! Eww!" she cried, pulling a face and shoving him playfully. "And you totally stole my idea," she said with a slap.
"Well you shouldn't have told me," he yelped from the slap.
They went together to pick up their spouses at the airport, leaving Jamie and Sawyer with Karen, who was only too happy to look after them.
The flight was a little late, but they kind of expected that, and so they just waited.
Haley was the first to spot them, Nathan's tall and powerful build standing out of the crowd. She ran and jumped in her husband's arms, kissing him eagerly. "I'm so glad you're home," she said. Even if it was only for a few days. She would make the most of those few days.
Peyton and Lucas hugged tightly before he handed her a bouquet of roses and kissed her longingly. When they broke away, Peyton looked over the bouquet, a smile on her face. "Oh Lucas, thank you. They're beautiful."
"Beautiful flowers for my beautiful lady," he returned chivalrously.
Nathan had to roll his eyes before giving his brother a man hug. "What? No flowers for me?" he joked.
"You're not as pretty," Lucas jested in return.
"Well, hell, I'm going back to LA."
"Oh no you don't," Haley stated firmly, gripping Nathan's arm tightly. "You're plenty pretty."
"Thanks," Nathan chuckled, placing a tender kiss to the top of his wife's head.
Haley pulled away from Nathan to embrace Peyton, who she'd missed like crazy as well. "We have to get together before you leave," she told the blonde.
"Yeah, absolutely," Peyton replied. "I can't wait to see everyone. How's Sawyer? Has she grown?"
"You've only been gone two weeks," Haley reminded her.
"Feels like so much longer since I've seen her," Peyton admitted, her cheeks flushed. "I'm sorry. I just hate leaving her. I always feel like I'm gonna miss something."
Lucas took her hand as they headed outside to the car. "Trust me, Blondie. There's nothing about the terrible twos you wouldn't want to miss."
Peyton chuckled heartily, knowing he didn't mean that. It was just difficult to deal with that particular stage. She had to admit, Lucas had a lot more patience for it than she did. "Oh, I thought you'd have that taken care of by now," she jested.
"Yeah, I don't think it's going away anytime soon."
"How's Jamie?" Nathan asked.
"Nate, you've been skyping with him every other day," Haley pointed out. "You know how he is."
"Yeah, I know, but it's not the same. I don't suppose he's grown at all?" he asked. Every time he left and came back, he expected to see a growth spurt in his son, but it never seemed to happen.
"Oh stop," Haley chastised lightly. "He'll get some height on him eventually."
"Not if he takes after your genes," Nathan said.
"Haha. You're lucky you've been away, mister, or you'd pay for that remark."
"What?" Nathan asked innocently. "Hales, I'm 6'2. He doesn't get it from me."
Everyone laughed and still were when they made it to the car.
Nathan threw his bag in the trunk while Lucas took care of Peyton's, teasing her about the fact she had three bags to Nathan's one.
"A girl has more necessities," Peyton argued. "Not to mention I'm here two days longer than Nate is," she went on to explain.
"Sounds like valid reasons to me," Haley said lightly.
"Thank you Haley James Scott. Glad someone understands."
Peyton got in front with Luke while Nathan and Haley hopped in the back.
Both Nathan and Peyton slept all the way to Karen's house.
"Oh wow, she did get bigger," Peyton stated when Karen brought out a sleeping Sawyer.
Everyone rolled their eyes in amusement, knowing full well there was no significant difference in the two-year old in the past two weeks. Peyton was just being sentimental, and feeling guilty for leaving her for work. She wasn't used to it. She didn't know how Nathan could do it.
Nathan, who'd been gone six weeks compared to Peyton's two, took in his sleepy-eyed son who Karen had just woken. Nope, still didn't get any taller, he noted. Not that he cared one way or another. He loved his son. It was simply an observation that he was short. Clearly he would take after his mother. At least he has so far.
He picked him up to sweep him up in a bear hug, not caring that he was eight now. He'd just missed him. Jamie didn't seem to mind either. He was just glad to have his dad home. Plus he was also super sleepy.
Pleasantries and hugs were exchanged with Karen and Andy, but they were kept short since the kids were exhausted. Both Nathan and Peyton promised to stop by the cafe while they were down, and then they were off.
Lucas dropped Nathan, Haley and Jamie off, and then proceeded to their own home.
It wasn't a particularly romantic night in either household. It was late and everyone was tired. But for Nathan and Peyton it was nice to sleep in their own beds again. And for Lucas and Haley it was nice not to sleep alone in their own beds again.
The next afternoon, Haley, Peyton, and Sawyer met Brooke at Karen's Cafe while Nathan, Lucas, and Jamie went to the Rivercourt first.
Brooke wrapped her arms around her best friend and squeezed hard. "I missed you so much P. Sawyer."
"Missed you too, B. Davis," Peyton replied truthfully.
"Ok," Brooke said, pulling away and clapping her hands in excitement. "Sit. I want to hear everything that's been happening in La and don't leave a single detail out."
Peyton laughed. Of course Brooke wanted to know everything. Well, maybe not every single detail, she thought to herself. But she was only too happy to share with Brooke, Haley, and even Karen, who took a break to chat, all the interesting aspects of her newfound glory. "Well," she began, "we had the new gallery opening, and it was a big hit..."
"Of course it was," Brooke boasted confidently.
"I swear all my paintings sold within an hour, I'm not even kidding."
"Of course they did."
"And now they want a dozen more sketches before the next gallery opening across the city, plus at least one or two more for each gallery every week."
"Of course they do."
"It's so much work, though," Peyton said, not really complaining. "I'm not sure I'm up for it."
"Of course you are."
"Brooke, enough with the 'of courses'," Peyton attempted to rebuke sternly, but broke out in giggles instead.
"What? Just trying to support my best friend," Brooke defended.
"And I appreciate that," Peyton told her honestly. "I'm down for all the support I can get."
The three girls sitting with her were quick to tell her she had all their support, making the blonde smile in return.
"Now," Brooke began, edging closer to the end of her seat. "Enough with the work part, and onto the juicy stuff. What's this about a sordid affair I've been reading about everywhere?"
"Brooke," Haley admonished. "You realize my husband's included in that supposed sordid affair, right?"
"Oh right, sorry Hales," Brooke played dumb. "No, but seriously guys, I know they're all lies. I just want to know where they're coming from."
"From tabloid writers desperate for a story," Haley answered snarkily.
"Haley's right," Peyton jumped in to say. "Don't pay any attention to the stupid press, Brooke. They're all a bunch of vultures."
"Oh, I know that," Brooke replied. "I just thought maybe it's a publicity stunt or something?"
"It's something," Peyton deadpanned. "No, listen, it just so happens that Nate's the only one I know in LA so we kinda hang out a lot. The media sees this and tries to make something juicy out of it. By far, the worst part of my job."
"Sounds like it," Karen piped up, wrinkling her nose in disgust. "Makes me glad for this simple life in this, well not so simple town."
"Yeah," Peyton agreed with her mother-in-law. "It's definitely nice to be home again," she mused. "Oh hey, there's the guys."
Everyone shuffled over to make room and they all hung out at Karen's Cafe for a good two hours before Haley suggested it was time to go.
"And that's my cue to take this little one," Brooke said, grabbing Sawyer from Peyton's reluctant arms, along with the bag Lucas had packed for her. "Ready little man?" she asked Jamie now. He stood up and went to stand with his Aunt Brooke. "Ok," Brooke continued. "We'll see you all tomorrow. Have fun and don't do anything I wouldn't do."
With that she left the cafe and the rest of them parted ways.
"Smells good," Nathan commented as he came into the kitchen to find Haley stirring a pot over the stove. "Want help?"
"No!" Haley shrieked. "I told you to stay out. This is your welcome home dinner and you're not lifting a finger to help cook it."
"Ok, ok," he said, putting his hands up in surrender and laughing at his wife. "I'm gonna go take a nap then. I guess I'm still feeling a little jetlagged."
"A nap, yes. Good idea. Because you're gonna need all your energy for later."
"Sounds promising," he returned with a sexy smirk.
"Here's a little sample," she said provocatively, standing on tiptoes to give him a searing kiss. "Now get," she ordered, breaking the kiss and swatting at him with the spatula.
"Mmmm, delicious," Peyton said after tasting a mouthful of the dinner Lucas had prepared. "If I didn't know any better, I'd think you were trying to seduce me," she added, picking up her wine glass and taking a sip.
"Is that right?" Luke came back with.
"And let's say, for argument's sake, that you did know better. Would it be working?"
"Well that depends."
"What ya got for dessert?" she teased, making Lucas groan in anticipation.
Two days passed and Nathan, once again, packed his bag for departure. It was time for him to head back to LA.
"That was way too short a visit," Haley whined. "I wish you didn't have to go back so soon."
"Me too," Jamie agreed, looking equally sad.
Nathan hugged them both reassuringly, but he wished the same thing. It had gone by so fast. "End of season's coming up soon," he said positively. "Then I'll be home so much, you'll be wishing I was gone again."
"No way," Jamie said. "I like when you're home. But it's cool having a famous dad too," he added.
Haley tried to laugh but she wasn't feeling all too joyful right now. "End of season's nearly two months away," she pointed out.
"It'll be here in no time," Nathan told her. "You'll see."
There was a honk outside. Lucas, picking him up to take him back to the airport. Nathan sighed, gave his wife a final kiss goodbye, ruffled his son's head playfully, and then grabbed his bag and was out the door.
Lucas stopped for coffee on the way, frowning at the tabloid magazine still on display in the adjoining convenience store.
"Ignore those," Nathan told him. "They kinda go with the territory, you know?"
"Yeah, unfortunately," Lucas replied, still glowering at the tabloid.
"Last year I got some random chick pregnant, this year I'm sleeping with my brother's wife. That's just how it goes, Lucas."
"Doesn't it ever bother you?" Luke wanted to know as they walked back to the car with coffees in hand.
"Sometimes," Nathan answered. "But what are you gonna do?" he added with a shrug.
"Can't believe you're leaving tomorrow already," Brooke complained. "I feel like I hardly got to see you."
"Not true," Peyton protested. "We hung out yesterday."
"Yeah, only because Lucas was driving Nathan to the airport."
"Well, I kinda do have to spend some time with my husband," Peyton joked.
"Well, he can share," Brooke pouted. "I knew you first."
Peyton chuckled at her best friend's silly theatrics. "You know, you could fly out to LA and see me some time," she suggested.
"I could," Brooke said, and then her face suddenly lit up as it registered what Peyton had said. "I so totally could. And you could show me around, and oh, we could go shopping!"
"That's my girl," Peyton responded with a fond smile.
"I'm so totally on that," Brooke stated, already pulling out her phone to mark her calendar. "Let's see, next week, no, two weeks, no. Ok, I'm gonna have to work this out, but I'll keep you posted."
"Wasn't long enough," Lucas said the next day as they were getting ready to head out to the airport.
"No, it wasn't," Peyton fully agreed. It had been so hard for her to drop Sawyer off at Karen's, knowing she wouldn't see her again for a while.
"Any idea how long before you're back?"
Peyton shrugged her small shoulders. "Depends what they have scheduled. I'm not sure. I'll let you know though."
He nodded solemnly.
"I'm sorry, Lucas. This is hard on you, isn't it?"
"It's hard on everyone," he returned.
"I could stay," she offered.
"I'm not gonna ask you to do that, Peyton."
"No, you worked too hard to get here. It's time for the world to see your gift. Your art matters and I'm not going to let you give up on it. Sawyer and I will be fine, and we'll be right here waiting for you."
She smiled at her husband, grateful for his love and understanding. After a while, she finally nodded. "We should go then."
He stopped for coffee again but this time decided to use the drive-through, not wanting to see another one of those tabloids.
He kissed her long and hard before she finally walked away to catch her flight. He hoped it wouldn't be too long before she returned to him and their daughter.
She snuck in the back, trying to avoid the paparazzi that always seemed to appear out of nowhere, and used the key he'd given her to get inside.
He was sitting down watching a game on TV, beer in hand, when she came in. "Hey, Nate," she said.
"Peyton, hey," he greeted, setting his beer down on the coffee table beside him. "I didn't know you were back yet."
"Yeah, I got in last night, actually. Just took a taxi straight to the hotel and crashed. I was exhausted."
"You know I would have picked you up," he told her, mild irritation in his voice. She could have called him.
"Yeah right," she scoffed. "Give the vultures something else to run with?"
"Yeah," Nathan acknowledged. "About that," he continued. "You think Haley and Lucas buy it?"
Peyton shook her head. "No. They're not exactly thrilled about it, but I don't think they actually believe it."
"Yeah, that's the feeling I got too."
"But it doesn't mean they won't start believing it if stories keep popping up."
"What are you saying?"
"I'm saying if the press keep it up, it's only a matter of time before they do believe it."
Nathan stood up, crossing the few feet to Peyton. "So, what do you wanna do?" he asked her.
She lifted her shoulders uncertainly. "I don't know, Nathan. You're more used to all this coverage than I am. What do we do?"
"I don't know," he said. "I guess we be a lot more careful," he added, snaking his arms around her waist and coming in for a kiss.
"Oh God, we're so going to hell," she mumbled just before winding her arms around his neck and kissing him back.