I'm not going to write a long introduction. All my comments are the bottom of this so I'll let you all read and enjoy the last installment.
Chapter Fourteen: Oranges & Blues
Brooke rubbed off the remains of the orange nail polish that she'd painted on her toenails a mere ten minutes ago in an effort to cheer herself up. She'd been pleased with the result for all of three minutes before grabbing the nail polish remover and rubbing it off, leaving her toes looking discolored and ill. She sighed and reached for another color, a bright blue, and started painting again.
As she reached the pinkie on her left foot, she heard an urgent rapping on her door. The sound made her jump and the nail polish extend the toenail area. With a groan, she glared at the door and vowed to ignore it. The person on the other side would have to wait until she could repaint the nail that had messed up. It didn't take long for Brooke to take one look at the finished result, make a face, and start removing the nail polish again.
The person outside the door knocked again, this time more harshly. Brooke simply glared at the doorway, the curtains across the window preventing her from seeing who it was. She hadn't quite reached the end of one foot when the knocking started to become annoying. Grabbing the nearest object she could find (a shoe), she threw it at the door, cringing when she realized that the heel at connected with the wood. She hoped it hadn't broken.
She crawled to the edge of her bed to inspect the damage when the door opened and out of the darkness emerged a face she had never expected to see.
"Peyton, what are you doing here?" she didn't bother hiding the surprise in her voice. She couldn't quite place the look on her former-friend's face.
"I had to talk to you," Peyton told her. Brooke wasn't sure what to say, so instead she glanced at her clock.
"But… it's two in the morning."
"And you're painting your nails?" Peyton's eyebrows came together as she frowned, spying all of Brooke's nail polishes strewn across the bed.
"I couldn't sleep," she admitted as she began packing a few things away. A few moments of silence passed between them before Brooke spoke again. "What are you doing here? Come to yell at me some more? Because Peyton, I know what I did was wrong, and I'm so sorry I hurt you." Brooke was on the verge of more tears. The shock of seeing her friend voluntarily in her room after more than a month's worth of silence.
She'd imagined this moment countless times since then. There had been several different speeches she'd thought she'd say. Some were apologetic, some were defensive, and some appealed to Peyton's softer side. All of them wanted forgiveness.
But none of them were coming to mind not matter how she tried.
So instead she did what she did best. Ramble.
"You hate me. I hate that." Brooke began, "And if I could go back and change things, I would. I would never have even spoken to Lucas or let him drive me to school. He was just being so nice and he said he just wanted to be friends and I believed him. I'm not trying to blame him, because I don't think he did it on purpose, but it all happened so fast and so suddenly, I wasn't sure what happened."
Before she knew it, Brooke was on the verge of tears. Her voice had started to falter halfway through her speech and she hoped that Peyton had heard all of that because she knew there was no way she could repeat it. She was just thrilled to have Peyton standing in front of her.
Peyton didn't react and Brooke began to worry.
"I get it now." Peyton said the words so numbly that Brooke almost didn't believe her.
"I get it. All of it. You and Lucas."
"There is no me and Lucas. I promise."
Peyton gave a small nod and paced Brooke's carpet as she chewed on her bottom lip. Brooke watched the pacing with interest. She decided to let Peyton speak first, mostly because she still had no idea what to say or what Peyton had meant.
Eventually Peyton stopped and turned back to Brooke.
"Guess what I learnt today." She said. Brooke gave a shrug. "I had someone come see me. Lucas was on my porch when I got home and he said that he wanted to talk to me… about you." The brunette looked away.
"What did he say?"
"I don't know. I left and when I got back, Haley was there. Haley really can lay on the guilt." The blonde chuckled slightly before continuing, "Anyway, so she really let me have it. I guess I deserved most of it too and afterwards… well, afterwards I just… just really needed to paint something."
"You never paint," Brooke commented.
"But I needed to. I don't know, I just felt like doing it. And that'd when it hit me." Brooke's breath hitched in her throat as she awaited the explanation of Peyton's epiphany. "I was staring at my paint palette and I realized that contrasts are harmonious. I mean, we learnt it in art last year. I can't believe I didn't see it before."
"Peyton, you know I don't speak art. Can you give me the English translation?" Brooke asked. Feeling slightly thrown by Brooke's request, Peyton looked around the room to try and explain it. Picking up two of Brooke's nail polishes, she held one up in each hand.
"Look at these. What are they?"
"Very expensive nail polishes. You're not going to throw them, are you?" Brooke grew slightly worried. Peyton's pacing had seemed to create a surge of adrenaline in the tall girl. To Brooke's surprise, Peyton laughed at the comment.
"No, look at them. This one is orange and this one is blue – and they work together."
"Uh, they really don't." Brooke seemed unconvinced at Peyton's comment. "I'd never wear blue and orange together."
"But they do! On the color palette, they're contrasting colors, and it's a well known fact that colors that contrast will work together. They're opposites. Opposites attract."
"Oh, that adage thing."
"Yeah, that adage thing. For some reason, it stuck with me tonight and I just couldn't shake that feeling. You and Lucas, you guys… you're made for each other."
"We are?" Brooke said the words slowly, wondering if this was really Peyton standing in front of her saying these things when the last month she'd barely been able to look at her.
"Believe me; I never would have believed it. You guys are two different extremes, but you're extremes that manage to meet in the middle and just create something… unique. Not a lot of people have that. Those things are kept for the Nathan and Haley's of the world. But I guess you guys have it too."
"Brooke, you're orange. You are spontaneous and fun and exciting. Lucas… Lucas is blue. He's calm, rational and intellectual. I'm just… I'm black. I'm moody and dark and kind of a lost soul. And while black and blue work too, they don't work for long because nobody wants to stare at that. Lucas needs you to bring some of that light into the world, and you need him to tame you."
"You've lost me." Brooke shook her head, trying to comprehend all of this. Peyton's tone changed.
"I let myself get too comfortable with Lucas. Comfortable to the point where I got bored. I have no doubt that you'll keep each other on your toes. You might be a better match because of it."
"You got all this from nail polishes?" Brooke questioned, earning another chuckle from Peyton, something Brooke was pleased to hear. However Peyton's smile only lasted a few seconds before she got serious again.
"Do you care about Lucas?" Peyton asked gently, though it seemed to blindside Brooke.
"Of course not!" she shot back too quickly to be true. Peyton sighed and shook her head.
"Don't lie to me. Not again. Do you care about him?" she pressed and made sure Brooke knew that she expected to hear the truth from her friend.
"Yes." The brunette fought a fresh batch of tears. She knew how much it must hurt Peyton to hear those words coming out of her mouth.
There was a short pause and then: "Do you love him?"
"I... I don't know." Brooke admitted honestly.
"Peyton... how could I? Not when I know how much he means to you."
"Forget about me now. I mean, I won't lie and tell you that I'll feel nothing. But Brooke, I think I've been angry long enough. Maybe too long. I don't feel the same way about him that I did when we were together. I guess if I think about it, my feelings about him had already changed by the time we'd broken up. I might have just been holding onto him because I thought the two of us had something because we had so much in common, and that if I let it go, I wouldn't find something like that again. I was mistaken. I know now that it's not just about what music we like or if he 'gets' my art. I can get that from just a friend."
"But you loved him so much."
"Once but not now. I don't think I ever will love him more than a friend. It's tough admitting that our relationship didn't work when everyone assumed it would - but I do have to let that go. Beside, after everything that's happened between me and him, I don't think we can ever go back to that." Peyton made a little 'huh' sound at the end, surprised at her true feelings. Earlier in the day, she had never even wanted to see Lucas again, and now she was kind of looking forward to having him as a friend.
"Peyton, I know that this is a huge step for you, and for me, and for us. As much as I love you being here and talking to me and saying these things… I don't… I don't get it."
"I guess today's been a really good day for surprises. And Haley was right; this has gone on for too long. I've acting like a bitch and I didn't hear you guys out when you tried to make it up to me. But you can understand why I was mad, right? I just felt betrayed, even if nothing happened physically, knowing he stopped caring about me and started loving you just-" Brooke placed a hand on Peyton's knee until she spoke again, "It broke my heart because, once again, someone in my life left me. That's why I was trying to hard to hold onto Lucas. I couldn't lose someone else."
"I know I can't hide behind that excuse forever. People always leave and I just have to deal with it. But I felt you leave too. Even before I found out, I could feel you slipping and I didn't know why. That's why I exploded in the gym when you told me. I thought I'd lost both of you, when I guess I'm the one that pushed you out."
"You know you could never lose me, P. Sawyer."
"Even when I was at the top of your bitch list?"
"I think that might have been me." Brooke added. "Does this mean we're friends now?" she wondered aloud. Peyton shrugged.
"If you'll have me." She placed a hand on Brooke's and sighed. "Do a favor for me? If you do decide to be with him, could you just wait like a week? I know it's probably really unfair of me to ask after everything, but I just... I lost you for so long. I just want us back on track before I lose you to a guy."
"You don't even have to ask. But are you sure you'll be okay with it? I mean, I haven't made up my mind about it or anything but if I did-"
"I guess I'll have my moments but I think we'll be good. In fact, I think I owe it to you guys for being such a bitch."
"Well, yeah." Brooke raised her eyebrows and Peyton shook her head.
"I hate you."
"You love me." The brunette teased, never letting go of her friend's hand. Now she'd had it back, she was never going to let it go again.
"Yeah... I do." Peyton admitted, pulling her friend into a long awaited hug. Even though they had patched up their differences, they both knew deep inside that it wasn't going to be the same as it was. They'd have to work even harder to ensure that whatever had been broken this time would not weaken their friendship.
Lucas drained the last of his beer and placed the empty glass on the bar. He roughly wiped at his mouth with his sleeve and ordered another. The bartender eyed him suspiciously but went to fill his glass anyway. Lucas was thankful that Brooke had given him his fake ID before every thing had gone wrong. At least he had somewhere he could drown his sorrows in, even though this was the first time he'd put the ID to use.
He had been surprised when Peyton and Brooke had shown up to school together on Monday morning. It had been slightly unexpected since Lucas had assumed his efforts had gone to waste after Peyton dismissed him. As news of Brooke and Peyton's reunion spread through the school, Lucas wasn't the only one wondering where it left him. Nobody had dared to ask, of course, and since the two girls hadn't spoken to him nor even looked twice in his direction, he took it as a sign to back off.
Now it felt like he was a sophomore again; unnoticed, ignored and unwanted. The only difference was that now he was vying for Brooke's attention – not Peyton's.
Maybe it was better this way.
He could understand why neither of them wanted much to do with him since he was the one who had come between them in the first place.
He deserved nothing less.
But he just couldn't understand why they hadn't told him that to his face – or know what exactly had prompted their reunion.
A reunion that was well into its twelfth day, if any one of them was going to make a move, then it would have already happened. Now it was too late.
When the bartender placed his glass of beer in front of him, Lucas reached for his wallet, but the bartender stopped him.
"It's already been paid for. Some girl said you looked like you needed it," he explained. "Want me to repay the favor?" he questioned. Lucas shook his head.
"Tell her thanks, but no thanks. I'm off-women for a while." He muttered. The bartender shrugged and left Lucas to mope into his beer. It only took a few moments for someone to sidle up to him in the seat next to him and tut disapprovingly.
"You owe me a beer, you know," she said. Lucas turned to look at her as she reached across him, picked up his beer and took a long gulp from it. He stared at her a little dumbfounded at first but eventually found his voice again.
"That's my beer." Lucas reminded her.
"Did you pay for it?" she questioned. He didn't even shake his head, but continued to look at her. Neither were quite sure how to proceed. Too much had passed for them to slip back into their carefree, teasing stage. Or at least remain there for long.
"I, uh, I saw you and Peyton made up." He commented, hoping that it would at least spark off a conversation. She nodded slowly.
"Yeah, we did. It was kind of a pleasant surprise. I thought for sure I'd lost her," she considered taking another sip of the beer but decided against it.
"I'm glad," he replied genuinely. "It's nice to see you happy again."
"So… is there any reason you've been ignoring me or are you just-"
"-trying to kill me?"
"-I haven't been ignoring you."
"Yes, you have." He was trying his best not to accuse her or drive her away again but he just had to know. "Brooke, you haven't once looked at me for a long time now. You and Peyton are back together, there is no reason for us not to talk to each other."
"Lucas, I had lost my best friend. You had completely pulled out the rug from underneath me when you told me you loved me. You can't expect me to know what I want when I was so confused and hurt."
"And now?" he questioned.
"I'm still confused and I'm still hurt," she admitted, "but it is getting better." She sighed as she pushed the beer away from her. "The reason why I haven't talked to you since Peyton and I made up is because I just got her back. She's the most important thing in my life and I still feel like I need to make it up to her. I might not have done anything wrong but it doesn't seem like that sometimes. Even being here right now makes me feel like the worst person in the world. But I am working on it."
"You think I'm not working on my own guilt?" he challenged, not to begin an argument but at least to prove his own scars were still healing. She nodded.
"We all do." Brooke said gently "Listen, I just wanted to tell you that I was sorry about what I said... about not wanting to be with you?" she watched him flinch a little at the memory. "The thing is that I do want to be with you."
"So, what's the problem?"
"The thing is, you really hurt Peyton, and you also hurt me. I just want to make sure you won't do that again."
"Of course not. I learnt my lesson." She seemed relieved at his answer.
"Good, because you know how I have all these walls around me? Before we really get into anything, I want to make sure that they're down. All of them. You're going to get my whole heart, Lucas; I need a guarantee that you won't break it."
At first she worried that he'd change his mind after being given this huge responsibility but instead he just nodded and gave her a small grin.
"So… where do we go from here?" he asked. She grinned widely and extended her hand.
"Hi, I'm Brooke." She said brightly. Lucas chuckled, wondering if she was really going with this, and when he saw her waiting impatiently, he shook it with his own.
"So, Lucas, do you want to get out of here and talk? We could get to know each other a little better," she suggested, not breaking his grasp. She enjoyed the feeling that spread through her body, particularly at her fingers where the feeling carried all the way down to the pit of her stomach, filling it with warmth she'd thought was long gone.
He nodded and the two got up, her purse falling down to the floor. Bending down to pick it up for her, he noted something strange and as he straightened and handed her purse back to her, he questioned: "Your toenails."
"What about them?" Brooke asked, concerned why he'd been looking at them and what exactly was wrong with them.
"They're painted orange and blue?" he looked at her outfit. She was wearing neither color. Shrugging, she offered her reply.
"I just thought they looked good together."
So there we go. Let me take this opportunity to thank every single person who has read, reviewed and helped with this is some way. Particularly Cariand Summer, without whom I could not have gotten this far because they let me bore them with my ideas and my babblings for the last few months.
I guess it's no secret that this is among the last One Tree Hill fanfictions I'll be writing due to personal reasons as well as fandom. The fandom has changed considerably. Or maybe it's not changed, but it's become a very difficult place to stay in. The show isn't the same as it once was either. Sure, it has its moments of awesomeness but I don't think I'm the only one who feels that they're watching a completely different show that is more concerned about ratings than staying true to their characters.
Maybe it's just me.
Anyway, so I really hope you all enjoyed this. It is one of my favorite fanfics I've written and I have to thank you guys for being there with me through all of it and your reviews are the best piece of mail I get everyday.
Aside from this 'When It All Falls Apart' is coming to a close too so check that out too!
Thank you again.