Title: All the Bright Colored Fish

Summary: This is where the water is shallow and nothing is as deep as you'd hoped it would be.

Rating: Mature

Disclaimer: I am in no way associated with the WB network or the television show One Tree Hill.

You bad girl
Does it feel good being bad?

She swirls her drink with one finger, dipping it in and out of the cool liquid. Some people like their beer warm, but she's just never developed the taste for it. There are a lot of things that she's just never developed the taste for, pleather, warm beer, and morality being only a few of them.

She looks across the room, watching as a brunette girl with far too few items of clothing and far too much makeup attempts to stand but stumbles. A boy catches her arm, and Peyton briefly considers following the hand up to the face but in the end, finds that she simply can't bring herself to do it. She's gotten lazy in her old age and anyway, does it really matter?

She smirks slightly as she sees the adoring gaze that Brooke is sending up to him. This might be good material for her strip, if she was still into that sort of thing. Too bad she isn't. Once she realized what a walking cliché she was, she had stopped. How could she have thought that it was her place to criticize society's hypocrites? There wasn't a person alive more hypocritical than she. But she doesn't care about all that anymore.

She sees the boy motion to the stairs with his finger and Brooke nod coyly. Well, as coyly as possible when completely hammered. She briefly considers playing the hero and swooping in to save Princess Brooke from the big, mean sex-machine but, once again, finds she doesn't have the energy. Oh well, what Brooke won't remember tomorrow won't hurt her.

It's interesting, though, to think of how Brooke might react if she did remember. If she could recall her best friend's passive gaze on her as she headed upstairs to make yet another mistake, what would she think?

She'd probably be angry, and play hurt, like usual, but Peyton wouldn't buy it. Then Brooke would be Brooke, and toss her head, and play it off. As much as Brooke pretended to hate the reputation her actions gave her, she thrived off of people talking about her, good or bad. This is why Peyton likes to call Brooke 'her lovely little sociopath'. Brooke used to hate it when Peyton called her that, and demand that she stop because it might "give people the wrong idea". Lately, though, when Peyton has called the nickname through the halls, Brooke has only winked and blown a kiss. Peyton somehow wishes that she would still fight it.

Finally, Peyton forces herself to take a good look at Brooke's latest violator.

Oh, God, it's him.

Her eyes roll almost involuntarily. He, above all people, makes her sick. He even makes her sicker than she makes herself, which is saying quite a bit. At least she knows what she is. A drug addicted whore who would rather use her own, or, if need be and Brooke was drunk enough, her best friend's, body to buy what she wanted than shell out the few hundred dollars which was only a drop in the bucket of her monthly allowance. But really, she couldn't help it if she was naturally thrifty.

But anyway, back to the vomit-inducing perv who has apparently given up on Brooke's making it up the stairs herself and has swung her over his shoulder and is currently struggling under her dead weight. Lucas Scott. The name leaves a bad taste in her mouth.

She wonders idly how many times this scenario had taken place. Friday night party takes place at Bevin's, Brooke and Peyton arrive together, Brooke gets smashingly drunk, Lucas sweeps in to rescue her, and then Peyton creeps upstairs into whatever bedroom he had so conveniently found to protect her from all of the drunken jocks in, and watches him nervously cop a feel as his damsel lies passed out on the bed. The fact that she can't help herself from watching makes her want to both laugh and cry at the same time.

Peyton doesn't do crying, so she laughs instead.

The best part about it is the way his eyes shift while it's happening. Usually, Peyton only gets to watch from a crack through the door while it's going on but there was this one time where she and… oh, she can't really remember his name, but she and this guy were going at it in Bevin's parents' closet for some reason and he had passed out right in the middle. Like, literally, right in the middle. Peyton had been a bit offended, but also a bit stoned, so she had been slow about getting her clothes back on and getting out of the closet. Just as she had been struggling to clasp her bra, she heard the door to the bedroom open. Curious, she had stayed and watched the proceedings and, boy, was she ever glad she had.

Lucas had walked through the door, laid Brooke down on the bed, looked at her for a second, and then walked back toward the door.

Here's where the memory gets strange. Peyton remembers feeling, in that one, split-second, more angry than she ever had in her life. She felt angrier than she had when her mom died, and angrier than she had when Brooke had stolen her third-grade boyfriend, and even more angry than when she had realized that art meant nothing. She wanted to leap at Brooke, to jump on top of her like a lion onto an antelope and rip all of the girl's hair out with her teeth. Then she would turn to Lucas and sink her claws into him, leaving his back a minefield of torn flesh. How dare Brooke get treated with such tenderness and respect, when Peyton was lying in a closet half-dressed with a sweaty and drunk boy passed out still inside of her?

But Peyton doesn't like remembering that part. It's not funny, and it bothers her. What she likes is remembering the scared look that had appeared in Lucas's eyes when he had not left the room and shut the door behind like a true gentlemen, and when he had, in fact, shut the door and returned to the bed slowly. He had reached one finger out slowly, trailing it up and down the flushed skin of Brooke's arm. Then, ever so hesitantly, he had leaned over and kissed her softly on the mouth. Peyton, barely holding in the laughter at this point, had detached herself from the boy and leaned forward to get a better look. She watched, then, as Lucas slipped Brooke's shirt over her head and sat down next to her on the bed. His eyes were still moving, looking right and then left, and sometimes even up, as if he feared something could be watching him from above. That was what really got to Peyton; that, and the fact that, beyond the small kiss he had planted on her lips, he hadn't really done anything. After all of the trouble that he had went to, waiting until she was too drunk to remember his social status, carrying her limp body all of the way upstairs, waiting in the shadows until the coast was clear… all of this, and now that he finally had her, all he seemed interested in was taking off her shirt and laying beside with his head in between her breasts.

The idiocy of his actions made Peyton double over in the closet, dangling her long curly hair in the face of the boy with his head in her lap as she shook with laughter.

Finally, though, when she realized that this wasn't getting old for him, she decided that it was for her, and slowly crawled her way to freedom. He was so preoccupied with rubbing strands of Brooke's straight brown hair over his cheek that he didn't even notice the mostly naked girl slowly creeping across the floor, or the small crack of light that shown on the bed next to them when she finally made her exit.

Sometimes she wonders if Lucas isn't more of a crack head than she is.

And, as the perfect end cap to the hilarity of this memory, she recalls what had happened the next day.

"Oh God, he is so hot" Brooke exclaims as she and Peyton make their way down the hall together.

"Who?" Peyton questions, searching the crowd for Brooke's latest conquest.

"Him…oh, I don't know his name, but he is seriously sexy!"

Peyton follows Brooke's pointing finger straight to…

"Lucas Scott?" she squeaks, her attempt at crushing the mirth rising in her stomach causing her voice to come out choked.

"Yeah" says Brooke with a sigh. "Too bad he's a total loser. I bet he'd be such a good lay. Oh well, it's not as if I'll ever get within ten yards of that. I bet that degree of unpopularity is catching."

"I bet you're right" says Peyton, swinging an arm around her friend's shoulder. "But we'll never catch it."

Smirking a little to herself, Peyton takes a sip of her drink and then grimaces. She hates warm beer. She hates it almost as much as she hates Lucas Scott, or Brooke. She hates it almost as much as she hates herself.

And getting worse?

Italicized lyrics belong to Cursive. No copyright infringement is intended.