Ashes, Chapter Nine

by scarlet (superscar)

A/N: I'm not a psychologist, my goal is to make things plausible, whether or not they are possible is not my area of expertise.

NYU Keg Party, Fall 2005

Blood roared inside Nathan's head as Brooke squeezed his hand, giving him the biggest smile he'd seen since before it began, more than a year ago.

"Nate, are you okay?" she frowned and turned to the bouncer that kept trying to get her to stay at the party, "Eric, can you just leave it alone this time, please? I really want to catch up with Nathan. Pleeeeease."

Peyton wasn't a begger, Nathan remembered that very clearly about her. So why would someone acting so obviously like Brooke Davis try to pretend she was Peyton Sawyer?

"Want to head back to my room?" he tugged her hand. He had to ask her, but not here, not with everyone crawling all over them.

"Baby, I thought you'd never ask."

He'd forgotten when he invited her that she might be adverse to his plan: talk, clear up the weirdness, and then screw until morning. Brooke had always been more of a fuck first, questions later sort of girl.

They barely made it out the door before she attacked his lips once again, muttering between kisses how much she wanted him, had missed him. And in her insanity of passion, he tasted peace. Her body felt like home and Nathan couldn't resist sinking into her warmth.

It wasn't until he said her name that she froze and pulled away from him. "What did you just say?"

"Brooke," he repeated, pulling her back into his arms, "C'mere."

"No!" she pushed him away, "What the fuck, Nate! You're not even pretending to know who I am. God! You'd think after we dated a year, just because I'm not your precious Haley."

"Shut the fuck up about her!" Nathan pushed her up against the wall.

"This is so typical! Is this why you broke up? Couldn't remember her name?"

Nathan frowned. "Brooke...what are you talking about?"

"PEYTON!" she practically screeched, "My fucking name is Peyton, you asshole!"

People were starting to look at them in the courtyard and someone was going to call security if he didn't get her to shut the fuck up.

"Peyton," he used the name she wanted, "Let's go up to my room, okay baby?"

"I don't think so," she shook her head, pulling away from him.

"Just to talk, I promise. We should catch up. Please?"

"Fine," she grumbled, "But keep your Brooke-loving hands out of my sight."

XXX

Nathan was being too weird and it annoyed the shit out of her. God, was it really that much of a challenge for him to murmur his sweet nothings with her name and not Brooke's?

Her estranged best friend was really the last girl she wanted to hear about in the throes of passion. Honestly.

And since when did Nathan want anything to do with Brooke? He'd been Haley's bitch since she collared him.

"Peyton?" he asked hesitantly, like she would snap on him at any moment. It was his own fucking fault. Men were such morons.

"Yeah?"

"The thing you said about Haley and I...breaking up?"

"Nathan, it's not your fault, I was just mad you said her name. You guys just weren't meant to be. I mean, what can you really expect, getting married at sixteen? But you're both in a better place now."

"Why does everyone say shit like that?" he practically growled at her, "You think I'm in a better place?"

"Well, it is New York."

"You think I wouldn't trade Central Park and random attacks of body odor to have Haley back with me?"

Brooke sighed, "Honestly, Nathan, you talk like she's dead."

XXX

She was crazy. 100.

"Oh, Brooke," he sighed, "What's going on with you?"

Her eyes snapped angrily and he corrected quickly, "I just meant, oh, and Brooke? What's going on with her?"

"Last I heard, her parents shipped her to some rehab place. We don't really talk anymore."

Nathan was in over his head, but he couldn't help asking...

"And Haley?"

"Oh, she's doing great at Stanford!" Brooke was practically dancing with excitement over it, "She's really getting out there and meeting people. I'm so proud. Don't worry, though, she hasn't moved on yet if that's what you're worried about."

It was tempting to join her fantasy, that Haley wasn't dead, she was in California. That instead of him moving past her death, it was just a temporary break up. But unlike Brooke, his mind couldn't accept the lie. It was too much and his heart ached with it.

"She's dead," he told her softly, trying to bring reality back to both of them.

"What?" Brooke gasped, "No, she's not, I talked to her yesterday."

He was almost jealous of her certainty, the way she could create her own reality and he wanted to drag her back down with him. "No, you didn't! You were there! You were in the car when she died, Brooke, you called me!"

She just shook her head and plugged her ears, like a child who didn't want to hear she couldn't have a snack before dinner.

Nathan pulled her hands from her ears, "Why are you doing this? Why didn't you come to me?"

"Leave me alone!" she fought him off her.

"Calm down!"

"No!" Brooke shook her head, tears pouring down her cheeks, "You're crazy, Nathan, what's wrong with you?"

He was crazy? "I'm crazy?!? You're totally losing it."

She was backing away from him, ready to bolt.

"No, I didn't mean that, Br, um, Peyton. I don't know what's wrong with me. Just...come upstairs, okay?"

"I just want to go home, Nate. Just let me go? Please?"

He couldn't. He'd never find her again if she left and he needed her. She was his best friend, the only person that really understood and he just wanted to force it out of her. But their connection had disappeared into the recesses of her mind and the only truth she didn't deny was physical.

"It's okay, baby," he wouldn't say her name, for fear of putting her off, but he refused to call her Peyton again. It might just reinforce the stupid fantasy she lived in. "I just want you so bad, it's been so long," he took her hand and pulled her against him, kissing up and down her neck, a move that the actual Peyton Sawyer had found ticklish, but always made Brooke Davis melt.

And though her mind was confused about her identity, her body wasn't and she clung to him as he re-ignited their passion, using all the tricks he knew from their time together.

"Let's go," she whispered in his ear.

XXX

Brooke didn't stop to think about why she was so willing to jump Nathan, when Lucas was the one she loved. The passion between them was consuming and she didn't have time to think, the feelings were overwhelming.

Images rained through her mind of their time together. Heated encounters that only made her hold on tighter to the feelings he brought so expertly to her body. He remembered what she liked and used those familiar movements against her until she didn't remember her name. The one he kept whispering in her ear sounded so right that she didn't think to question it.

When they finally hit the bed, she was far past ready and the completion in their joining was the sweetest relief and torture. As she locked him to her body with her legs and sank into the familiarity of rhythm.

XXX

He'd meant to stop when they reached his room, but he couldn't. Their need for each other was bigger than his plans to find out what was wrong with her and the way she moaned when he said her name sealed the inevitable between them.

It wasn't their first time together, but it had been so long that their instinctive knowledge felt like magic. Distant familiarity and surging need culminated in what was perhaps the most intense sexual experience of his life. The thought that it was wrong, that she wasn't herself only made the pressure of release more desperate. He'd missed her, needed her on a level he'd barely thought about until he was inside her body.

"Brooke," he panted her name, begging her to come with him as he spiraled higher.

"Yes," she murmured, but her eyes were closed, she wasn't really listening or thinking.

"Brooke!" he dug his fingers into her shoulders to get her attention. Her eyes flew open and she held his gaze. For that second, she was there with him until her eyes rolled back and she started shaking, closing in around him until he fell apart.

XXX

As Nathan cuddled her against his chest, Brooke stroked his stomach sleepily as everything he'd whispered and yelled came back to her.

"Missed you, Brooke," he kissed her forehead as he faded into slumber.

It wasn't right and she wanted to argue, but she was too tired and he felt so nice against her.

Later, she decided. She would yell at him when she woke up.

One last yawn enveloped her and she quickly lost consciousness.

XXX

It was tempting to keep laying there as she slept. It had been a long time since he'd felt so comfortable, like sex with Brooke, a woman he hadn't seen in almost a year, was a regular occurrence.

Unfortunately, this wasn't about his body's need to relax after the work out or his desire to re-bond with Brooke after all their time apart.

She wasn't okay and Nathan couldn't ignore that. But who could he tell? Her parents were off the list, they'd throw her into a mental hospital and he'd never see her again. Lucas was out. The second "Peyton" was near him, they'd be in bed together and Nathan had already dealt with plenty of that sort of drama.

He grabbed the cordless and dialed as he left the room. The last thing he needed was for Brooke to wake up in the middle of his call.

"Hello?" a woman answered as Nathan's door clicked shut.

"Mrs. James?" he asked. "It's Nathan. Sorry I'm calling so late."

"Nathan! Is something wrong? Are you okay?"

"I'm okay, it's not really me I'm calling about. Umm... you're a nurse, right?"

XXX

"Cold," Brooke murmured, feeling around for covers to snuggle into when someone else helped her out and tucked them in around her. "Eric?" she muttered, squinting to see who was with her.

"Nathan," his voice reminded her.

"Mmmm," she smiled as she opened her eyes to find him in the chair by the bed. "Hey, get back here."

"I'm not sure that's a great idea," Nathan tossed a cordless phone back and forth between his hands and the nervous tick struck her as strange. Why would he be nervous after what she'd considered to be perfectly great night of sex?

"All right, we can do it in the chair," she shrugged, throwing the sheets back.

"That's not what I meant, Brooke...shit, here we go."

Brooke. Again.

"Peyton," she corrected softly, crawling into his lap, "You sure about the chair thing?"

He wasn't sure, his physical reaction was more than obvious and all she wanted to do was encourage it. To leave whatever fight they were headed toward behind them.

"I'm sure...we have to talk."

She crawled into his lap and his eyes closed. "Doesn't feel that way to me," she ground herself into him.

Nathan sprang to his feet, lifting her off him. "Come with me."

"I was just trying to, baby."

"No, drive with me. Road trip."

Brooke's eyes narrowed, "Where?"

"Anywhere, let's just go."

His sudden desire to go on vacation made her suspicious, "What about school? Basketball?"

"Wouldn't be the first time I missed class and I'm riding the bench this year anyway."

"Nathan Scott? Not a starter?"

"Apparently, I have an attitude problem," he shrugged.

Imagine that, Brooke thought, amused. "You? Shocking."

"Shut up, smart ass, let's just go."

"Fine, but we can't leave til tomorrow," she dove back into the covers, "So care to join me?"

XXX

Nathan didn't get much sleep. It was wrong, having sex with Brooke when she was clearly out of her mind, but he rationalized it. Brooke would have wanted him either way, he told himself. And he definitely wanted her.

It was ages since he'd had sex, never mind the marathon Brooke hit him with.

Exhaustion hit him around sunrise and he slipped away.

He didn't hear her leave.

To Be Continued...