Authors Note: This story is fairly AU so when reading it it's best not to assume relationships unless I have clarified them. A couple things I would like to make clear, in the beginning of this story the characters are not going to match with themselves on the show, but if you stick with the story some familiar quirks will appear. Also I am looking for criticism so any response I could get would be appreciated. Thanks for reading and I'd love to hear what you all think. Flashbacks are in italics.
Important! I keep getting reviews for this story, and while I appreciate them I feel as though you guys are being misled, so I wanted to make this clear before you start reading. I did decide to stop writing this story, so it is incomplete and it is likely that it will stay that way. There are nine chapters and I certainly hope you enjoy them and if you'd still like to tell me what you think of them that's wonderful and I appreciate that but just know that this story will not be updated. If you'd like an explanation you should go ahead and skip to the big AN I posted as chapter ten.
Chapter 1 (The Same Deep Water as You)
The silver glint of the belt buckle caught his eye, soliciting his small body to make a mistake, to raise his eyes from the floor, or shudder too excessively. His messy blonde locks hung loosely covered in nervous perspiration as the towering figure of his father stood gruffly in front of him. The normal seclusion that met the family nearly every night had been disrupted by the unwelcome call of Lucas's basketball coach requesting help at the yearly fundraiser. Although basketball had created a near sanctuary for both Lucas and his father, in two entirely different ways, the idea of collaborating with the close to thirty candidly happy families seemed less that appealing and brought on a less than ideal confrontation.
Lucas's eyes remained trained to the ground, the harsh leather of his father's work boot sending out a warning itself. Nightly beatings had become somewhat of a rarity as things had been going smoothly as of late. He had finally considered the fact that as long as he didn't come into contact with his parents he was invisible and that seemed to be the way they preferred it. As his shrunken frame backed into the corner that one thing stayed constant in his mind, disappearing, whether temporary or forever.
However a sharp jab from his father reminded him of the horror that lay before him. It didn't matter how bruised he was, how tired, or how many tears had fallen from his sweet blue eyes, there was nothing that could change his father's mind. Coming back to the reality of it a subtle but noticeable sob escaped his lips and he immediately felt the callous metal slamming into his cheekbones. His head shot back in response, he brought his small hand up to his newly acquired welt, gauging the severity of it. Yet another wound he would have to hide.
She stood at the doorway watching as the belligerent altercation took place, a wavering pang of guilt hovering over her. It wasn't that she agreed with her husband, and it wasn't that she didn't love the little boy in need of rescuing. It was fear, a fear of her husband, but also of her son. Life had refused to be easy for any of the occupants of that house, but that little boy had been the light. He had been her reason for waking up, and he had saved the sorry excuse that was a marriage but his inability to loosen his guard questioned her abilities as a mother.
Unable to watch anymore she backed up from the room, her hands grazing the pictures held in their glass frames, of a happy family, who had been long since locked in those very same glass frames, unable to discern between destructive behavior and the needs of a ten year old boy.
Morphed into a six foot tall athletic machine that very same boy sat on the edges of his sanity starring out at a peace he would never know. His hands dug firmly into the cumbersome sand of the beach, as his eyes traced the union of ocean and sky wondering if perfection like that actually existed.
Normally the party would have been up to her standards, but that particular night she found herself seeking solace in the beach and the lonely boy that sat entranced by it. Pulling the light cotton fabric of her sweatshirt closer to her body she ventured out of the house and down to the beach. Nerves had never played a large part in who she was and how she portrayed herself, but she would not go as far as to say she was confident. Too many years of unexpected surprises left her unsure of the world around her.
"Would you like some company?" She asked, her voice nearly fading into the crashing of waves and the dissatisfied breathing of the boy beside her.
With his eyes still focused on the scene in front of him, he lifted his broad shoulders into a gentle shrug. She quietly situated herself beside him, careful to leave him plenty of space.
As a child, living in California the beach had always held a sense of security for her. It was a soothing reminder of home and the peace and assurance that came along with that. She could nearly smell the flowery scent of her mother, and hear the hearty laughter of father as she would bury him underneath the sand. She could feel the oily sunscreen digging into her pores as her mother applied more than would ever be necessary. Unfortunately that woman had disappeared with that life and instead of the joyful company of her parents she was met by the silent, sullen company of a stranger.
Hours seemed to pass as the two of them basked in what could have been hushed repose. However the comfort that should have encompassed the two of them failed, just as most things seemed to.
A distant call broke both of them out of their reflective stares. Her eyes followed the sound leading her gaze with who she assumed to be Haley, her overly friendly neighbor, beckoning her. Brooke couldn't suppress her laughter as Haley's arms waved widely in the air, nearly knocking the teenage girl off her own two feet. Lucas's eyes however, still remained fixated on the ocean, and his mouth still formed a strong line assuring Brooke that he found the charade all too trivial.
As her laughter died down she rather gracefully pulled her body up from the sandy sanctuary, dusting her hands off as she did. She turned to the boy in whose company she had shared for nearly two hours. His intent was obvious to her; he was hoping to find answers in the smooth perfection of nature, hoping to find a flaw that would prove that perfection was just a word and not a state of being. She had set out on that very same quest, only to be reassured that nothing was fair and what you got wasn't necessarily what you deserved.
"I guess I'll see you later then." She said, waiting for a response, assuming it to be a nonverbal cue as his previous acknowledgement had been.
He turned to her, the same nonchalant expression adorning his face, "What's your name?"
"Brooke." She managed to sneak out underneath the nearly tangible shock written across her face. She had assumed him to be slightly transparent, meaning that his quiet demeanor suggested a shy, offbeat persona but the throaty confidence that his words held suggested otherwise.
"Thanks for the company Brooke." He said curving his lips into what could only be described as a smirk.
Rummaging her mind for the confidence that she had so clumsily forgotten the only reaction she could think of was to match his. A polished smile broke out and as her pearly white teeth were revealed she felt her back straighten and her eyes brighten.
"No, thank you." And with that she left in search of the obviously intoxicated girl that had called her away.
"So, looks like you've found yourself a boy." Haley slurred, her finger poking Brooke in the shoulder as she swayed uneasily on her feet.
"Looks like you found yourself a beer." Brooke quipped back, finding the situation less and less amusing by the second. "Is there a reason you called me up here?"
"Yes," Haley stammered as she attempted to straighten her body against the banister that stood firmly to the right of the two girls, "your cell phone has been vibrating forever." Choosing to elongate the last word she started to giggle despite herself, repeating it time and time again. Brooke watched Haley's slight fascination in her speech; it was obvious the girl could not hold her alcohol.
After guiding Haley to a seat she shuffled through her purse picking through compacts and a pair of sunglasses until she found her phone. The caller ID flashed Peyton, who happened to be one of her best friends from California. Brooke quickly flipped open the phone.
"Peyton!" She managed to squeal out, despite the blaring hip hop music that consumed the house.
"Hey Brooke, god I feel like it's been forever since I've talked to you, especially since apparently you don't believe in answering your phone anymore. I've been calling for like an hour."
"Sorry about that, I'm at a party right now so it's a little difficult to hear my phone vibrating when I can barely hear my own voice."
"How long have you been there again?" Peyton questioned, even though her purpose was clearly rhetorical. "Like three days and you're already at a party. There really is no mistake; you are the ultimate party girl." Brooke frowned slightly at her friend's statement, but shook it off, walking over towards the porch where there seemed to be less noise.
"Too bad the party sucks." Brooke heard Peyton laugh through the phone line, Brooke's blunt way of thinking and talking had always been a source of amusement. "I'm serious I've spent most of my time sitting on the beach with some guy."
"Now why does that not surprise me? You and a boy at a party, you see its almost like you never moved in the first place."
Brooke glanced at her reflection through the siding glass door to her left, taking in her appearance. It was so typical of her, wearing cloths that barely covered her body, let alone kept her warm against weather that she was just getting acclimated to. And apparently the party scene was hers as well. So far her new start had been nothing but a repeat of the life she left behind in California.
She found herself reminiscing with Peyton for nearly an hour and the thought of new beginnings stayed clearly imprinted in her mind. She had a chance to be something different and she was beginning to wonder why she was already wasting it.
Placing her phone back in her purse she scanned the premises one last time, taking in her new town of residence and the people that came with it. Her gaze stopped; as she peered out the back window an unexplainable comfort crossed over her as her eyes connected with him. He was proof that this town was not the superficial mess she had thought it to be and even more he was a challenge. She smiled briefly before turning back to the distraught girl behind her; she lifted Haley from the couch and led her out to the car. The two girls were next door neighbors; it was the least she could do.
Easing the car into the driveway he could only pray that a deep slumber had overcome the residents of that house. He jiggled the key in the lock; his rough hands not allowing the fluidity he had wanted. Finally the door broke open and he was surprised to see a lamp on and the disgruntled gaze of his mother starring pointedly at him from the kitchen table. She pulled her reading glasses away from a face that had learned over the years how exactly to hide emotion, it wasn't enforced that particular night.
"Sit down," she called out to him, a sickening whisper that reminded him of the little girls in horror films with so much more held stubbornly behind their voices.
He complied, sitting in the seat opposite her, his face glowing with challenge and a satisfaction that few people could understand.
"Luke its three o'clock in the morning, your curfew is set for one." He was slightly disappointed to hear the return of a motherly lecture, instead of the scathing rant that she kept buried inside of her. "I suppose I should be pleased you aren't drunk this time but somehow the fact that I've wasted precious hours of my time as well as your father's waiting up for you doesn't bode in your favor. There are ground rules set in this house and believe it or not they do apply to you. It's not like this is the first time something like this has happened and you and I are both very aware of that. Lucas I am obviously struggling with getting through to you but if I do not see some distinct changes in your behavior then there are going to be consequences."
She paused looking over at her son, slouched in the chair in front of her, his disrespect was more than apparent. The stony look of his face and the coldness behind his eyes always managed to unsettle her but sitting in front of her with the nearly angelic light that had framed his rigid form she couldn't help but notice the irony. He was anything but an angel, but in truth it was only because he hadn't been given the chance. She held very little doubt that underneath his collective smirk there were years of unsheathed pain and a heart of gold that had been trapped under the complexities of life.
"Right now I think it's wise that we both head upstairs to bed, tomorrow is your brother's birthday so I would appreciate it if you would be awake to enjoy it with everyone." She stood from her chair walking over towards her son; in a moment of unexplainable hope she leaned down ready to plant a soft kiss on the top of his head only to be reassured that the glimpse of an angel was shrouded with hatred and distrust.
His body jerked quickly away from her in more of an instinctual move than anything as he tumbled off the end of the chair connecting himself with a row of bar stools. Smacking his elbow against the harsh tile flooring he groaned quietly but tucked the pain away for a time when he could fully process it. He lifted his body from the tile and stole a glance at his mother whose features had transformed from maternal to horrified, she backed away from him muttering I'm sorry under her breath before disappearing into the master bedroom.
Cradling his elbow he examined it, years of self diagnosis had taught him to properly judge the severity of his injuries. He sighed as the pain faded, assuring him that it was nothing but a soft bruise to the body's most notoriously known bone, the funny bone. A laugh nearer to malice than to happiness pushed up from his throat. It all really was quite funny, that his reaction to his mother brought him pain and his response to pain yielded him laughter, not the tears he had ultimately been searching for.
The youngest sat at the top of the stairs, hidden from sight listening quietly, stirring in a curiosity that overwhelmed him. It wasn't so much the satisfaction of knowing his older brother was in trouble or the fact that Lucas seemed to be losing the battle of sibling rivalry. His interest was in the silence, in the hushed conversations that took place behind locked doors, in the secrets the whole family held onto but for whatever reasons he was not privy to.
Thunderous footsteps sounded up the stairs, he knew Lucas was on his way up. Nathan quickly scurried back to his room, shutting off the lights and settling himself into his bed. Confrontations between the two boys never went smoothly, especially the ones that Lucas didn't initiate. If the simple fact that he had been eavesdropping even occurred to Lucas he was certain that either a verbal or physical sparring match would take place. The younger boy's fear of conflict held steadfastly to his chest as his heart pumped, the adrenaline surging through his body.
Even though Nathan was light on his feet Lucas knew of his presence and with a furtive grin on his face he opened Nathan's bedroom door, peering in at the brown haired boy. He was certain a threat or menacing warning would leave his mouth but the tone of his voice unnerved him as his message took on a more genuine purpose.
"You know I can't really understand why it's all so interesting to you, I pray every night that I could forget and hopefully one day you'll realize that it's just not worth it." A quiet sigh and he was gone.
As soon as he was sure Lucas was gone Nathan sat up in contemplation. A distinct innocence guarded his expression. He didn't know if it was the four year age gap or the different lifestyles that made him and his older brother direct opposites but for the life of him he could never quite understand the pain written clearly underneath Lucas's words. Hours of his time were spent carefully dissecting his brother and the plain speech that clung to both of his parents. Memories of holidays where Lucas would utter some mixture of bland words that would set the entire family off rushed through his head. He could remember his mother escaping the room in tears and his father's varied reactions, however angry or unresponsive they may have been.
As Karen slid into bed beside her husband she couldn't stop the tears from falling. Somewhere along the way one of the most important relationships that she would ever have had been destroyed. They had watched as their eldest son spiraled downward only caring to address the disobedience rather than the reasons behind it. The warmth of her husbands body lying next to her was a constant comfort and even more so as his strong arms wrapped around her quivering body. However, sometimes the physical security was not enough. No matter how understanding or how dependable he could be she knew she could never trust him with her whole heart, not after what had happened. With disaster always lurking around the corner she couldn't afford to take that chance, but in some ways she couldn't afford not to.
The rough voice of her husband met her ears, "He just get home?"
It took her a moment to respond, swallowing her sorrow she whispered, "I don't think he's ever been home."