A/N: I'm in an angsty mood. And nothing screams angst like Peyton andLucas.As a result, I wrote this. It's quite bittersweet. Nevertheless, I hope you enjoy!
He's walking down the street, but it's empty. No sounds. It's not day, but not quite night. The sun is casting a strange glow on all the buildings around him. He'd speak, but his lips feel like their cemented shut. He doesn't know how he got here. He doesn't know why he's standing in front of his mother's café. He looks through the window. There's no light inside. Everyone has left. But where did they go? He doesn't know.
He keeps walking. Past the barbershop. Past the fire station. Past the dealership and police station. He doesn't know where he's going, but his feet are carrying him somewhere. He'd stop, but walking keeps him from being idle. When he's idle, he can think. And something in the back of his mind is telling him there's no time to think. So he walks and he looks. He tries to figure out why everything looks so familiar and yet at the same time it all looks so strange. Finally his feet stop moving and his body lurches forward expecting another step. But his feet want him to stop here. His head turns itself to the left. His eyes focus on a sign. He wishes he could describe this feeling. But even if he could, there'd be no one to hear it. No ones around.
The sign his eyes are focused on says something, but no matter how hard he tries he can't grasp the words. He sees the letters clearly. He can spell them in his head, but when he puts them together nothing comes to mind. It's frustrating him. His feet must sense this because they move him closer. Then suddenly he makes sense of it. Tree Hill Cemetery. Why is he here again?
As if answering his question, the gates are opened to the place before him. He watches them carefully as they slowly creak apart. They're black. He remembers that. And they have angels carved in the middle. But the angels faces are a blur. He doesn't know how he can tell they're angels. They have no wings nor halos. He just feels that they are. But there isn't any time to dwell on that. He has to keep moving forward.
His feet are making noises now. Crunching leaves. Each crackle a testament to the season. He could have sworn it was spring, but apparently it is fall. He looks around him. Still no one. But that makes sense. It's a cemetery. The occupants are all six feet under. The headstones all look the same. They're all grey marble. The names he can't read. Not for lack of trying.
Then he spots something. A group of people dressed in black huddled around a solitary white marble headstone. It lies beneath a yew tree. His feet are carrying him to the spot. When he reaches the destination, he wants to sigh in relief. But his lips are still clamped shut. He knows these people. These nine people. They're standing in a circle. He steps between the two women who were on the end. He looks across and spots a couple cradling each other. The girl is fragile. He can tell. Her blonde head is tucked into the man's chest. He can see the tear stains on the man's shirt. The man isn't doing much better. He looks as if he's been crying as well. That man is his brother. He's almost positive of that. And that blonde fragile girl is his best friend.
Next to his best friend, is an old man whose shoulder is being clasped by an even older man. The old man is not really old, but compared to most of the group, he's seen many more days. The old man is broken, he can see it in his eyes. But the man's not crying. He assumes the man ran out of tears. That old man is Larry Sawyer. He thinks that's the name. And the older man with the hand on Mr. Sawyer's shoulder was his coach. Coach Whitey. The name suddenly appears in his head and then he forgets as fast as it came. Cursing himself for loosing it.
His gaze shifts to the guy and the little girl next to the older man. This guy is crying heavily. Meaningful tears he's sure. The guy has a toddler in his hand. A blonde toddler. She's not crying, but he figures she doesn't comprehend any of this. But neither does he. Why are they crying? In his head, the fact that they're in the graveyard doesn't connect with the tears and so all he feels is confusion. The guy is named Jake and he used to live in this town. He knows that. So the girl in his arms must be Jenny.
Suddenly he feels someone latched onto his right arm. His mind wants to pull back out of fear, but his body doesn't. Instead it wraps his arms around the figure. He feels her tiny body crushed against his. It's so close he can feel the outline of her pearl necklace pressed into his ribs. He feels the tears seeping through his shirt. His head bends down and plants a kiss on the brunette's head. This is his girlfriend. This is Brooke. Her body is growing heavier and heavier against him almost as if she can't hold herself up anymore.
The woman to his left he knows well. It's his mother, but he feels like he missed something. This isn't the mother he remembers. His mother had warmer eyes. And she smiled. This woman won't look at him, but he can see that her eyes are glassed over. And her smile doesn't exist. It almost looks as though it's never been there. He wants to reach over and hug her, but he can't.
All of the sudden, he notices music. As if it hadn't been there before. The ninth person in the circle, not including himself of course, is sitting on the headstone playing a guitar and singing. The words to the song aren't connecting in his head. All he knows is that it's a soft song. It's probably supposed to calm them all, but no one's really listening. The man on the tombstone picks up the beat repeating the chorus. What are those words? Why is he there? Why is Chris Keller playing a guitar on a headstone?
Where is Peyton? The question just pops into his head. Only unlike the other ones it doesn't fade away. Where's Peyton, Lucas? His mind is taunting him. His eyes dart around the circle. She should be here. It's all that's going through his head. The blonde hair, the hazel eyes, the perfect smile. "Where's Peyton Sawyer?" Those words he says out loud this time. But they don't hear him. He only mumbled them. So he repeats it louder. "Where is Peyton!" he basically screams. Jake scowls at him. Nathan and Haley look at him with sad eyes. Larry Sawyer stares past him. Brooke cries harder. Chris plays faster. And faster. "Where is Peyton!" he screams again.
No response. Words. He needs to hear words. The guitar is going so fast he wonders if one man could possibly play a guitar like this. Who's in the grave, Lucas? His mind is taunting him again. He doesn't care though. He just wants to know where Peyton is. Why is it bugging him so much? He doesn't know.
Who's in the grave, Lucas? He can't see the name on the headstone. Chris's legs are swinging across it, blocking it from his view. The guitar plays faster. The words are still jumbled. Suddenly Chris's legs swing away. The words are clear. PEYTON SAWYER.
Guess who's in the grave, Lucas? His mind taunts. He can almost feel his conscience smirking. Tears should be falling, but this body he can't control isn't allowing for tears. He curses himself. Peyton's in the grave. Peyton's dead. How'd she die? He didn't ask it aloud. Before he got a chance, he makes out one single lyric from Chris's song.
"You'll be the death of me, baby. You'll be the death of me. You were the death of me."
It's all he can hear. No more questions floating through his mind. Just those words. He doesn't know what they mean to him or why there being played. He just hears them. He's scared. He can feel it. Peyton's dead and he doesn't know why. He doesn't remember her dying. It scares him. How could he forget something like this? Why does he feel so numb? Is he high?
"How did she die?" he finally asks. No one looks at him. Except his mother. She turns to him slowly. Her eyes are glazed with dark circles underneath.
"You killed her," she says in an eerily calm voice.
"What?" he mumbles as Brooke pulls away from him.
"You killed her," Brooke repeats through her sobs.
"You'll be the death of me, baby. You'll be the death of me. You were the death of me," Chris sings.
"I didn't kill Peyton! I would never kill Peyton!" he yells as he backs away from the circle. They're all looking at him with either pity or anger and he can't stand it. He doesn't even get it. Why are they saying these things?
"You killed Peyton!" Jake screams, "You killed Peyton!"
"I didn't kill Peyton. I'd never hurt her! I love her!" he says trying to make sense of it all. But then he thinks about it. He can't remember anything from the past. What if he did kill her? He's still back peddling away from the grave.
"That's the thing, Lucas," says a voice behind him. He turns around to see Peyton, dressed in her angel of death costume. Only it's not really Peyton. Because Peyton's dead, "You never told her you loved her. Now it's too late. You killed her."
He does the only thing he can think of. He runs. His body finally complying with his mind. He runs as fast as he can. Out of the gates with the angels on them. He glances back to see if they're chasing him, but they're not. Not seeing where's he's going he crashes into someone. When he looks to see who it is, it's Dan.
"Like father, like son," Dan smirks. He falls to his knees before his father.
"Make it stop!" He cries out, throwing his hands to the sky.
"You could have stopped it, but you didn't."
"I didn't kill her!" he cries, tears finally pouring down his face. Dan kneels down before him and leans next to his ear.
"You didn't," Dan whispers, "Not yet, that is."
Lucas awoke with a start. His body was covered in sweat. His heart was racing. It was going so fast it felt like it just might explode out of his chest. He tried to calm himself, knowing that it wasn't good with his heart condition.
"It was all a dream," he whispered. Peyton wasn't dead. While the revelation was extremely relieving to hear, it wasn't helping his nerves. He couldn't calm down no matter how hard he tried. His hands were still shaking and his breathing was erratic. He needed to get out of here. He needed to take a walk.
He dressed as quickly as he could. He debated about whether he should go out the window or the front door and decided the front door was best. Tiptoeing out his room, he shut his bedroom door behind him. Turning around, he found himself face to face with his mother.
"Lucas, what are you doing?" she asked clearly not amused.
"I need to take a walk," he said shakily.
"What's wrong?" Karen said worry etched in her voice.
"Nothing mom. I just had a really bad dream."
"Ok," Karen nodded. Whenever Lucas had a bad dream, he'd walk to the Rivercourt to clear his head.
"I'll be back in a little. I promise."
"Be safe, Luke," she said placing a small kiss on his forehead. He nodded and slipped out the front door.
He walked to the Rivercourt, a basketball wedged under his arm. When he got there, he shot around, trying to forget his dream. Unfortunately, the words still lingered in his head. You could have stopped it but you didn't. You never told her you loved her. It's too late. It troubled him. He'd almost lost her so many times now and yet he still didn't learn his lesson.
He was so wrapped up in his thoughts he didn't notice someone approaching him. She stayed quiet, afraid of scaring him. He looked so graceful when he played. So at peace. She hated the fact that he had to lose that. But the one thing she couldn't handle would be loosing him. That's why she was here.
"Hey," she said. His heart skipped a beat at hearing her voice. Proof she was alive. He spun around as quickly as he could and found himself looking straight into her hazel eyes. She took the three steps needed to reach him and wrapped her arms around him tightly. He held her close. It felt so good to hold her. To forget about his terrible nightmare. To know she was safe right here with him. Then, he felt the tears on his shirt.
"You ok?" he asked pulling away a little so he could see her face. She was crying.
"I was so scared," she said through sobs, "I had this horrible dream where you died and everyone kept saying it was my fault." Lucas looked at her intensely, his breath caught in his throat.
"You too?" he croaked.
"What?" she asked.
"I had the same dream, only you were dead and everyone was blaming me for it."
"Is that why you're here?" Peyton asked, releasing herself from his arms.
"I come here whenever I have a bad dream. It helps me forget about it all," Lucas said shoving his hands in his pockets, "Why are you here, Peyt?
"I saw you here," she said blushing a bit, "I was riding around trying to forget about the dream and then I spotted you and I just wanted to make sure you were all right."
"Was that it?" Lucas asked cautiously. Peyton bit her lip. He cursed himself silently. His words seemed to come off cold and he could see in her eyes she was leaving something out.
"Yes," she whispered hoarsely. She then cleared her throat and continued, "I'm going to go. I just wanted to make sure you were ok."
"Peyton," he said grabbing her arm.
"I-" Lucas began, but he trailed off.
"You what?" Peyton urged.
"I'll see you at school," he finished lamely. Peyton nodded pulling her arm away from him slowly.
"Be safe, Luke." Peyton walked across the court slowly. She was determined not to look back.
"You too," he whispered. He closed his eyes for a moment and remembered the gothic vision of Peyton. You never told her you loved her. Now it's too late. You could have stopped it. This was his last chance. She was almost at her car.
"Peyton!" he yelled. She either didn't hear him or refused to turn around. So he moved closer and called her name again louder. "Peyton!"
"What is it now?" she replied turning around. He picked up his pace and jogged toward her. "What, Luke?" she asked again when she saw him just staring at her. Now or never, his head reminded him.
Now. It was all that was guaranteed in life. He put his hands on her shoulders, bent his head down and captured her lips with his in a single sweeping motion. He put everything he had into that kiss. Hoping to speak the words without actually saying them just yet. Because he didn't trust voice to speak from it's heart. Reason and responsibility were rooted in his head, but the heart knew neither. All it knew was Peyton Sawyer and the fact that she had placed her mark on it a long time ago. It had been aching for a chance to reconnect with her. Begging him to claim her again.
And to say he was utterly shocked that she didn't pull away would be an understatement. In fact, Peyton threw her arms around his neck and pulled him closer. He sighed in relief. She felt it too. Her lips parted when his tongue (acting on his heart's accord, of course) slipped out of his mouth and traced hers. And the moment their tongues touched, he knew it was official. He loved her. God, he really did love her! No one made him feel like this.
Finally, she pulled away. He feared it was from guilt. He feared she'd push him away like always. Her eyes were focused on the ground, making it impossible for him to know what she was going to do for sure. But if she was going to push him, he'd make sure she knew what she was pushing away before she did it.
"I love you," he blurted out, "I need you to know that I'm totally and completely in love with you." He was sure she'd curse him for this. Or tell him what about Brooke? What about Jake? What about living life as a good person? It was all the questions his conscience was telling him, but what she did say shocked him.
"I love you too," she responded automatically and then she continued, "I realized in that dream that you could die tomorrow never knowing how I felt about you. When I saw you here, I came to tell you that I was in love with you. But then, I thought you didn't feel the same so I figured I'd leave you alone."
"I was afraid too," he admitted, "We never really have good timing with our love confessions." They both shared a smile.
"Where does this leave us?" Peyton asked.
"Life's too short to live it with regrets," he said, almost repeating the line he told her on his porch two years ago.
"Let's not regret it then," she said extending her hand to his chest, tracing circles over his heart.
"One night," he whispered, "One night before responsibility and trust and loyalty take over and we forget about now."
"Yeah," she said, "Come with me." They drove in total silence to Peyton's house. Each overwhelmed with feelings of love and lust, anticipating the one night they were allowing themselves. Guilt had long since abandoned them. It was crushed my something more urgent and powerful. Would they regret it in the morning? Who knew at this point?
Peyton led him to her bedroom by the hand. She shut the door behind them and locked it.
"Is your dad here?" he asked breaking their silence.
"No," she responded, "But I don't lock my doors and Haley always likes to pop in checking on me." She didn't dare mention Brooke. It would only kill the moment. But then again she and Brooke hadn't spoken to each other in three weeks.
He approached her slowly. The anticipation was getting too much for him to handle. He needed to touch her. His hand tentatively reached out to cup her cheek. He heard her breath catch in her throat and watched as her eyes snapped shut. He leaned forward and kissed her.
It was a blur really after that. Somehow they had wound up on the bed. Her shirt discarded on the floor along with his. The rest of their clothes being peeled off layer by layer until all that was left was her underwear. There was no time for shyness or modesty when all you get is one night.
His lips were now descending upon her neck, dragging across her collarbone. Her hands were in his hair, pulling him closer. Hovering above her, he placed small kisses down her chest and across her stomach. Bringing his head level with hers, he placed a small kiss on her lips. His hands were lingering on the hem of the last barrier between them. He looked into her eyes. This was it. No going back.
Peyton awoke the next morning and found her bed empty. She blinked a couple times to take in her surroundings. Maybe she had dreamt it all. Then looking down she realized she was naked. And seeing as she didn't sleep naked, it all must have happened. She frowned. He regretted it all then. Once again, Peyton Sawyer was Lucas Scott's mistake. He'd probably hate her for this.
She turned on her side and clutched the covers close to her neck. Then, she spotted something on the nightstand. A piece of paper folded in half that wasn't there before. She reached over a grabbed it. It was a note from Lucas.
Until my loyalty and responsibilities no longer rests with Brooke, I only have two things I can give you. One is my heart, which you claimed the moment you almost ran me over with your car. The second is the promise that someday soon, our love will be enough.
Love with everything I have,
P.S. In your dream, was Chris Keller playing guitar on my grave?
Peyton sighed and held the letter close to her heart. That promise was enough to hold her. She then chuckled a bit at the post script, humming the words from her dream.
"You'll be the death of me, Lucas Scott," she muttered with a smile.