Title: When It All Falls Apart

Author: Tejal (Mrs O-Town)

Rating: T

Summary: It's hard when the people in your life begin to drift away; it's even harder when it all happens all at once. Nathan, Brooke, Haley, Jake, Lucas and Peyton are going to find that one out. AU.

Author's Notes: Everyone needs to hurt me for starting another fic but I love where I want to go with this so there! Everyone also needs to thank Cari for metaing for me. Title is from When It All Falls Apart by The Veronicas.

When It All Falls Apart

Chapter One: Acts Like Summer and Walks Like Rain

Brooke and Nathan Scott stood proudly at the steps of their big house as a photographer greedily snapped their pictures. Arms around each other's waists, the fake smiles of the two teenagers never faltered. After all, from the tender ages of nine, they'd been groomed to constantly look their best, to always smile, and to make sure their lives were free of scandals.

How else could their father, the great Dan Scott, secure the mayoral position in their small town?

And now, flanked by their parents, they were celebrating his second term in office with a gratuitous photograph of their perfect family.

Karen and Dan Scott, the high school sweethearts and hard-working individuals who had gradually pulled themselves up to the top with Dan's car dealership and Karen's small but popular café smiled for the camera. Their family was completed seventeen years ago with the arrival of twins, Nathan and Brooke.

Of course, besides inheriting their parents' good-looks, the two of them had also inherited their parents' social standing within THHS. Nathan was hailed to be the next big thing in the basketball world, and Brooke, well she turned more than a few heads as the school's head-cheerleader and most desirable female to roam the school halls.

They were the all-American family… on the outside.

And truth be told, they were more or less the same when the cameras weren't looking.

Nathan and Brooke were the type of siblings who, though they often had their moments, generally got along. Maybe it was because they were twins, or maybe it was because they were used to acting like a happy family. Either way they could stand to be in the same room together and hang around in the same circles at school because they were the circle.

Everybody wanted to been seen with the twins. Everybody wanted to be their friend.

A little way away, Haley James waited patiently for her friends to finish posing for the cameras. Brooke gave her a sly roll of the eyes while the camera was being reloaded and mouthed 'I'm bored' to her. Dan caught the action and nudged his daughter back to attention.

"Mayor Scott, any words on your re-election?" the reporter from the Tree Hill Daily asked, as a Dictaphone was thrust in front of Dan's face. He grinned his famous Cheshire Cat grin and put on the Dan Scott charm.

"Well, all I can say is that the people of Tree Hill made the right choice in giving me another-"

The sound of a wailing baby cut Dan off. He frowned and cast a glance at the man trying his best to comfort the baby.

Jake Jagielski offered Dan a small, apologetic glance as he rocked his daughter back and forth, cooing to her softly and Haley came over to try and help.

"As I was saying," Dan turned his attention back to the reporter, clearly irked by the baby, "Tree Hill did the right thing."

Once they had the all-important sound bites, the reporter and photographer thanked the family before they trundled back to their van and drove off.

The grin on Dan's face faded as quickly as it had appeared and his features darkened as he turned to Jake. "How many times have I asked you not to come around here with your bundle of joy? Especially when I'm in the middle of a very important interview with my family? I will not have the fruit of your loins ruining everything and giving me a bad image!" he hissed at the young father.

"Dad," Nathan came between Jake and his father. "That's out of line."

"The only thing out of line is that thing wailing at all hours. Is it really necessary for it to cry all the time?" Dan asked.

Jake narrowed his eyes, ready to retort but Brooke took the bullet for him.

"Well at least he's there for his daughter," she huffed.

Dan looked at her and tightened his jaw.

"Young lady, you're treading on very thin ice," he warned.

Brooke could tell that even Karen wasn't too impressed with her comment.

"Dan, come on, we have some phone interviews to do," Karen successfully coaxed her husband away from the teenagers, though the angry encounter lingered over the group.

"I'm sorry," Brooke apologized to Jake as she wiggled a finger playfully above Jenny's eyes. "He's still a little touchy." She made a funny face as Jenny grabbed the finger and tried to eat it. Brooke managed to wrangle her finger free.

"No, it's my fault. I know better not to be around when your dad is here," Jake sighed. "I just couldn't find a babysitter."

"It's fine, Jake. We like Jenny anyway," Nathan told him tapping the infant's nose to prove his point. Jenny gurgled happily.

"And plus, it's our dad's problem, not yours," Brooke added.

Jake hadn't really been in Dan's good books ever since Jenny had arrived on the scene. Jake and the Scott twins had been friends since childhood. They'd grown up together and were literally inseparable. Of course, Nathan and Jake often ganged up on Brooke since she was a girl, but Brooke had got them back by befriending another brunette when they started high school, Nikki, who was in grade above them.

The foursome spent all their time playing basketball, shopping or hanging out at Karen's Café. Things had been going great even though Nikki, the wildest of the bunch, had often persuaded them all to sneak out so they could sleep under the stars, or investigate the cemetery, or try and get into an over 18s-only club.

Brooke fell for most of it, deeming it as exciting and adventurous. It was Nikki who had given her the fake I.D. and bought Brooke her first beer. Nathan was much more cautious than Brooke, and was constantly trying to dissuade his sister, but Brooke had missed out on having a girl best friend for a big portion of her life and relished being able to gossip and try on make-up and clothes instead of playing basketball and climbing trees with the boys.

When Nikki and Jake began dating, many thought that he would be able to tame the young girl – and for a while, he was successful. Nikki and Jake made a cute couple and Brooke prided herself on getting them together in the first place.

Disaster had struck when Nikki found herself barely seventeen and pregnant. The foursome quickly divided into two groups, boys versus girls and caused friction in the Scott household. However, Brooke was soon reunited with her brother and friend when Nikki ran away five months into her pregnancy.

Try as they might, no-one found her and in the end, the best they could do was try to move on with their lives.

A year later, Jake awoke to find his six-month old daughter on his doorstep, along with a scribbled apologetic note from Nikki and a bag of diapers.

Nathan and Brooke had stepped up to help their friend, feeling partially responsible, in Brooke's case, and always offering a hand. Brooke even had managed to learn how to change diapers.

By then, Haley James had joined their group, nicely filling the void Nikki had left. At least Haley didn't lead any of them astray, and preferred to do her algebra homework on a Friday night rather than go out to clubs.

She also quickly accepted Jenny and was among the first to offer herself for babysitting duties.

One not so impressed individual was Dan, who felt that his son and daughter should not be affiliating themselves with an unwed teenage father.

It was bad for publicity.

But over time, Jake and Jenny had become almost a permanent fixture in the two teenagers' lives, and they were not prepared to turn their backs on them.

"So, are we going down to the beach?" Brooke questioned glancing up at the sun. "It's supposed to be a nice day."

"Sure," Jake agreed. "I think Jenny would like that."

Nathan and Haley murmured in agreement at the thought of spending the rest of the afternoon there.

"Great! Nathan and I will get out of these ridiculous clothes and we'll take my car." Brooke motioned to the conservative, pastel-pink outfit she was wearing, and the smart suit Nathan had been forced into on a sunny April afternoon.

Jake, Jenny and Haley decided to remain outside while the twins changed, since Dan was most probably still bitter at Jenny's disruption of his interview.

Sitting on the porch deck, Haley sighed and twirled a strand of her hair around her index finger. Jake glanced at the girl.

"Nathan still not noticing you?" he asked. Haley looked at Jake in wide-eyed disbelief.

"What?"

"Your crush on Nathan," Jake said with a grin. Haley hushed at him to keep his voice down. "Everybody knows about it."

"But I only told Brooke!" Haley insisted. Jake gave her a look and she nodded slowly. "So the whole world knows?" she asked.

"No, Brooke just told me – but only because she wanted to know if Nathan reciprocated."

"Does he?" Haley looked hopeful.

Jake shrugged, "I don't know. But you know Nathan, he's a closed book half of the time. It took months for anyone to know he was crushing on that English teacher of his back in ninth grade," Jake chuckled. "Although it explains why he was getting 'A's all the time."

"Just keep it quiet, okay?" Haley pleaded, "Because the last thing I want is for Nathan to find out and our friendship to be weird."

"My lips are sealed," Jake promised. "But just so you know – I think you'd make a great couple."

He grinned when Haley blushed.

------

Peyton angrily drew the curtains across her window as she watched the goings on across the street. She groaned in disgust as Nathan and Brooke grinned for the cameras.

Stupid posers.

She flopped down on her bed and hit a button on her remote control, flicking her stereo on and blasting out some loud emo music through the speakers while she began to draw.

Lucas popped his head into her room.

"Dear Mom," he said in a high, mocking voice. "Today, I got angry at some people. And then I played my music so loud, the neighbors called the police to complain. My life is so hard. Wah, wah, wah!" He added a pout for good measure.

Peyton rolled her eyes and turned down the music.

"What do you want?" she demanded of her twin brother.

While Lucas and Peyton Sawyer shared the same tastes in music, the same blonde hair and the same parents; the similarities ended there.

Peyton found Lucas too carefree and laidback, while her brother found her too moody and whiny.

Ever since their mother had died four years ago, and their father decided to spend more time working on the oil rigs, it had been the two of them living on their own and their differences really began to show.

"What's the matter now?" Lucas asked, crossing his arms over his chest.

"The Scott twins," Peyton scowled. "Posing for the cameras as if everyone cares about them."

"Everyone does care about them. They're the mayor's kids. It's the closest thing to celebrity here in good old Tree Hill."

"I don't care about them." Peyton muttered.

Lucas rolled his eyes. "Of course you don't. Hence the reason you have 'Mrs. Nathan Scott' written all over your notebooks along with those freaky pictures you draw."

"I do not," she retorted. "Plus, it's not him that I have a problem with."

"Ah yes, the young Miss Brooke Scott. What's your deal with her again?" Lucas feigned ignorance.

"My problem is that she gets whatever she wants, whenever she wants it - even if she doesn't deserve it and she looks down on everybody else, even if she's no better than them."

"We're on this cheerleading thing again, right?"

"I hate being told what to do by Brooke Scott – and she's only the head cheerleader because of her stupid parents."

"You do remember that you have to be on the cheerleading squad to fulfill your after-school sports unit, right? Especially after the volleyball incident," Lucas reminded her.

"Who cares about stupid volleyball? Brooke's mean to me and makes me stand at the back!" Peyton complained.

"That's because she looks better in those skirts than you do," Lucas chuckled, his comment being greeted by Peyton hitting him with a pillow.

"Why do you think everything is a joke? Dan Scott cut the football team funding and now you have to play basketball. Are you not upset about that?"

"Not really, I like basketball," Lucas shrugged.

"How can you be so… so… blah about everything?"

"Well it beats drawing depressing art, holding grudges and whining about everything going wrong in your life. Ever since Mom died, I figured that life's too short to waste it," Lucas explained. "Why do you have to take everything so personally? You're not the only one with problems, you know."

"Because life's too short not to care about stuff," Peyton grumbled. "And life is too damn short for girls like Brooke Scott to go around looking down on people when everything is handed to her on a plate, and while the real people who deserve any type of praise whatsoever are stuck waiting for her to take the friggin' silver spoon out of her mouth!"

"Okay, pop a Midol or something," Lucas shook his head. "Did it ever occur to you that it's not her with the problem – it's you?"

"So it's my fault that she's a spoiled brat?" Peyton narrowed her eyes at him. "Why do you take her side all the time? I'm your sister! Your loyalty should be with me."

"Well stop acting like a jealous bitch and get over it. Maybe then I will side with you," Lucas told her. "Plus, you never really make an effort to get to know her. You're always scowling or making snide comments. It's not endearing you to her or anybody in close proximity to her. Everybody loves Brooke Scott."

"Including you, right?" she sneered. Lucas froze before shaking his head. "Oh, come on, Lucas. You don't think I've noticed you looking at her in class? I know you have her yearbook picture underneath your pillow and I don't even want to begin to know what you use that for!" She made a face and held out her hands. "Truth is, big brother, she doesn't care about you. And even if she did, it's not like you'll get past Mayor Dan's chastity belt. He wants his family to be free of scandals," she trilled almost happily. "And don't forget you're on the same basketball team as her brother."

"You have no idea what you're talking about," Lucas replied, "I'm not into Brooke."

"Yeah, sure, and I'm just Little Miss Sunshine around these parts," Peyton sighed as Lucas finally left her room. "Next time shut the door when you make happy with yourself!" she yelled after him.

--------

"So how's the new cheerleading routine coming?" Haley asked Brooke as they played with Jenny in the sand. Nathan and Jake were busy with an intense game of Frisbee a little distance away. Jenny gurgled now and again at the sight of both boys running after the luminous object.

"Good. I think most people have got it… with the clear exception of Peyton," Brooke grumbled.

"Is she still not listening to you?" her friend sympathized.

"I tell her left and she'll go to the right! That peroxide is seeping into her brain somehow. She has the co-ordination of a squirrel!"

Haley made a face as she envisioned a comparison between Peyton cheerleading and an uncoordinated squirrel. "Why don't you just kick her off the squad?"

"Because the volleyball team begged me to take her. It had something to do with transcripts and activities. All I know is that no matter what I do or how nice I am, Peyton Sawyer just hates me," Brooke pouted.

Haley patted her arm comfortingly. "Sorry, Brooke," she sympathized. "I wish there was something I could do."

Brooke's frown transformed into a grin as she hit upon an idea. Unfortunately for Haley, she knew exactly what this idea was.

"Brooke, no, I'm not joining the squad."

"Bu-"

"If you think Peyton sucks, I'm a whole new realm of suck. I wasn't born to cheer," she told her friend firmly.

"So? It's easy. You just learn a routine; add a few pom-poms, a couple of jumps and cartwheels-"

"…fall flat on my face…"

"Wear pretty little outfits. Get all the boys staring at you..."

"It's not my thing."

"Nathan thinks cheerleaders are pretty cute," Brooke pursed her lips as she glanced at Haley from the corner of her eye. The tutor blushed as she bit her lip as if in contemplation. "I'm sure he'd love it if you were there to cheer him on every game."

"Brooke…" Haley began.

"Haley…"

"I'm sorry," her friend apologized.

Brooke sighed and turned to Jenny. "I guess you're my last hope," she said to the infant. "What do you think? Could you learn a few cartwheels and forward rolls by next week?"

"I don't think Jake would appreciate his little angel turning into a cheer slut," Haley said before Brooke pinched her arm. "Ow! I didn't mean you."

"Whatever. Maybe we can make an outfit for Jenny anyway." Brooke suggested as she took both of Jenny's arms and began doing a cheer routine with them.

"Aw, we could get her little pom-poms too," Haley added. "She'd look so cute."

"What are you two conspiring to do with my daughter?" Jake asked as he jogged up to the girls.

"Brooke was just telling us her plans for Jenny to dominate Tree Hill's cheer squad. She'll be knocking them off their feet in no time."

Jake chuckled, "No way. No daughter of mine is going to be objectified and hollered at by horny teenage boys every day."

"Oh, like you do every game?" Brooke reminded him.

"Hey," Jake protested. "I'll have you know that I holler with respect." He scooped up his daughter from Brooke's hands and lifted her up over his head.

"What were you guys talking about?" Nathan questioned as he too approached them after fishing the Frisbee out of the sea.

"Oh nothing. Just cheerleading… and your girlfriend…" Brooke grinned cheekily at Nathan.

"Well I'm hoping you mean Jenny and not who I think you mean." Nathan took a gulp of his drink and apologized when Jake shot him a look. "Sorry, man, but you know what I mean."

"Yeah, I do, but next time, please leave my innocent infant daughter out of any hypothetical romantic links with you," Jake frowned.

"Anyway…" Nathan turned the attention back to the issue at hand, "Peyton is not my girlfriend."

"But she'd like to be. She's four steps away from spying on you with night vision goggles and rooting through our trash cans. It's like crazy stalkage crushing." Brooke told the group. "Maybe that's why she won't quit the cheerleading squad. She wants to be near Nathan," she sing-songed her brother's name and looked pointedly at Haley, who nudged her friend to shut up.

"Whatever. I'm not interested in Peyton Sawyer," Nathan sighed, "I just wish she'd get the message."

"Yeah well I don't want to be the one to break it to her." Brooke rolled her eyes emphatically, "Because she already hates me and I don't want her to have another reason to stick another pin in her voodoo doll of me."

"Maybe you should be nice to Peyton," Haley suggested.

"I'm an angel to Peyton."

"You threw something at her."

"Well how hard is it to get a cartwheel right?" Brooke defended the actions of last week, "And anyway, it didn't hit her."

"Pity." Nathan, Jake and Haley said in unison.

To Be Continued…