We Might As Well Be Strangers

Chapter 1

A/N: This one is going to be a few chapters. The pacing on this one feels off to me but I can't rewrite it again.

"Marry me." He says one night as they're curled together under the sheets in the bedroom of her small apartment.

She's lying on her side with her back to him, and it's a full thirty seconds before she rolls onto her back and asks him to repeat his question although she heard him the first time. He repeats his question and she stays in her position and stares at the ceiling for another beat until she lets out a loud sigh.

"I don't want to do this tonight Lucas." She braces herself for the fight that is about to come.

"Do what, propose to my girlfriend?" He's angry now and she can sense it, as he sits up suddenly in bed.

"Lucas I don't want to get married. And you've known this since we were teenagers, nothing about that has changed."

"I thought I might have changed that."

They'd broken up during college, both of them not wanting the stress of having a long-distance relationship. After they both graduated and made their way back to Tree Hill they rekindled things almost immediately. Although they'd been back together for almost two years they still didn't live together, though the subject had been brought up (mainly by Lucas). Not much had changed when it came to Peyton and her fear of commitment, and Lucas' frustration with that fact had only increased.

"You haven't changed my mind." She stares down at her wringing hands and feels sorry for him, though she know he doesn't want her pity especially now. "What's wrong with the way things are now?"

"I don't want to just be your boyfriend, I want something more."

"And I told you that I'm not ready for that yet." As she reaches out to touch his arm he pulls away and grabs his shirt from the floor. "Lucas, can we not do this tonight, not again."

He pulls on the jeans that she had pulled off only hours earlier when they had stumbled into the apartment after a late night date and buttons them in haste. He finds his shoes near the dresser and quickly ties them with his back to her. "I don't think I can do this anymore Peyton."

"What are you talking about?"

"I used to tell myself that I would wait as long as it took for you to get your stuff straightened out, but now I'm not so sure anymore. I need a break from this." He finishes dressing and stands near the foot of her bed not entirely sure what his next step will be.

"So this it? You're leaving after all that we've been through because I won't marry you?" she tries to sound angry but the noticeable shake in her voice gives away true feelings.

"I'm sorry Peyton."

She cuts him off before he can finish. "Just get out." When he continues to linger by the foot of the bed, she yells at him one final time telling him to get the hell out of her apartment. He gets the message and leaves, slamming the front door loudly behind him.

She falls asleep after thirty minutes of staring at the bedroom ceiling, fighting back the angry tears that threaten to fall and ruin her Teflon fa├žade. The phone call comes a few minutes after she shuts her eyes. Even through the haze of being fresh from sleep she recognizes Karen's voice, the older woman is panicked and talking too quickly to comprehend. Peyton begs her to slow down. She can make out certain words; car crash, hospital, Lucas. It's all she needs to hear before she tears out of bed, dresses as quickly as she can and runs out of her apartment.

The hospital emergency room is chaotic, even at one o'clock in the morning. As she bursts through the painfully slow moving sliding glass doors she nearly runs straight into a man dripping blood from a large gash near his eyebrow onto his crisp white dress shirt. A young girl sitting in a section of chairs is vomiting into a plastic basin and her mom rubs gently at her back while yelling at a nearby nurse.

Somehow Peyton manages to find Karen amongst the crowd and immediately begins questioning her about what's happened. The gaps of information that had been missing from Karen's initial phone call were quickly filled in. The battery is his car must have died while he was out on the road, it had happened a few times before and she'd told him a dozen time to replace it. He was struck from the side as he was checking under the hood of the car and he smashed his head on the windshield of the car. The driver of the car called an ambulance and he was rushed to the hospital and taken right into surgery.

"How long has he been up there?" She asks nervously.

"About an hour." Karen says quietly.

They sit nervously in the third floor surgical waiting room, all wringing hands and impatient shifting. When a doctor came in an hour later the front of his dull blue scrubs were dabbled with small drops of crimson red blood, Lucas' blood, he tells them the news they've been waiting to hear. Lucas is out of surgery.

They wait another three hours so they can see him for ten minutes. When they slip into his room his head is wrapped in a large halo of white gauze and there are various tubes coming from his arms and nose. His face is swollen and a large gash runs down his cheek. The man Peyton had seen only hours earlier is now barely recognizable. Peyton doesn't cry, she just stands in shock unable to move. As her eyes scan over his broken body she knows that he is in this bed because of her and what she did to him.

He's in a coma, the doctors tell the two anxious women that he will come out of it but it is going to take some time. They spend three days by his side waiting, sometimes impatiently, for him to wake up. On the fourth day Peyton is holding his hand in hers and she feels him squeeze once, and then again. Doctors are called and they all wait anxiously for him to finally open his eyes. When he does there is an audible sigh of relief that echoes through the room. His eyes scan the room and he smiles when he spots Karen, she moves closer to his bed and kisses him on the forehead. When Peyton moves closer to him a blank stare comes across his face, she notices it and stops her forward movement.

"Who are you?" He asks, and Peyton can feel the blood drain from her face.