A/N: Ok, so here's the thing...This is my first big fic. Twenty one chapters. I've had fics that were a couple of chapters before but nothing this large. I've been working really hard on it so hopefully it's good enough. Reviews are welcomed and very much encouraged. This work is done entirely from Peyton's POV. It is a Leyton, but you'll have to wait a while before that pans out. That's enough of my rambling I think...Enjoy!

Disclaimer: I don't own One Tree Hill.

Chapter One: Cruelest Day Since Yesterday

January 21st 2006

Three weeks. Some might say that's a pretty long time. I say that these past three weeks have been the longest three weeks of my life. My life has been on a downward slump ever since that wedding. I've become a shell of what I once was (not that that was anything special). All my old friends have abandoned me. The only think I count on is my alcohol and my newly found vice, cigarettes. Three weeks and my life went from somewhat shitty to total crap fest. And there's no sign of improvement. I, Peyton Elizabeth Sawyer, am in a funk.

This is the cruelest day since…well yesterday. Why? My eyes are almost glued to the site before me. They sit across the room in a tangled mass within a booth. I don't know why I torture myself watching this. But it's been this way every day since the wedding. They come here for the music, or so they say. She brings him here to rub it in my face. I see her devilish smirk when she catches my eye. I watch as she purposely drags her lips across his neck in my plain sight. He doesn't protest, but he doesn't seem comfortable all the same. Poor guy. That's sarcasm.

I down another shot of bourbon. My body is so numb to alcohol now that it makes no difference what I'm drinking. I've been drinking for three weeks straight now. Every night. It all tastes the same going down. Sour. Just like me. I stretch my long arms over my head in the hope that it will straighten out the kink in my back. As a result my back arches forward for a moment and my eyes wander back to that booth. He's staring at me. A small smirk creeps onto my face which I hide well. It's good to know I still got it. But it's sad to know it's only lust. I return to my slouching self, a little warmer. That is until the devil in red lays her painted lips on his and I'm back to square one.

I need a cigarette. I don't usually smoke in the club. It's this whole reputation thing. I don't want people labeling me as a smoker because I'm not really. I only smoke when I feel like the walls are closing in. Right now I'm getting that feeling. So after three weeks of playing it safe, I ditch the reputation and start searching through my purse for my pack. I just bought them the other day because my old ones dried out. That's the problem when you only smoke four or five cigarettes a week. I finally catch the green Salem label and pull them out, my hands fidgeting with the crappy plastic film.

As I remove the cigarette, I catch Rachel's eye. Oh, did I forget to mention I'm not here alone. Yeah, I've found some new friends to hang out with. Mostly Rachel and Bevin and some jocks on the basketball team who happen to hate Nathan and Lucas. They love to bash them twenty-four seven and while it's annoying it's also a relief from the total godlike worship that my old circle used to give them. I love those boys to death but hell they're not perfect. But back to the important part, Rachel's giving me that knowing look. I hate that look. Ever since her accident, Rachel lives life to the fullest and that means she wants to actually live life. She hates my smoking and drinking. But this is Rachel Gattina talking, and she knows it would be hypocritical if she said anything to me. So she just sticks to those looks.

I roll my eyes at her as I stick the cigarette in my mouth and light it. Ah, carcinogens! How I've missed them polluting my lungs! A long drag. A flick of an ash. Back to drinking. I order another shot. This time a stronger proof of bourbon. Six shots and not a single bit of buzz. Something's definitely off.

Some upbeat Jimmy Eat World tune starts playing. It may be Fall Out Boy. I don't know. Lately, all music is sounding the same to me. Anyways, Rachel and the girls all decide it's time for the group to hit the dance floor. They drag the boys out there. I stay back like always because A. I don't like dancing and B. I'd rather down my next shot of bourbon.

Luckily, the bartender hands me my next drink before I get antsy. I stare at it carefully. I've never really paid attention to the color of bourbon. I tilt the glass forward and back looking at the light reflecting on it. I don't even notice when someone approaches and takes a seat next to me.

"Where's your head at Peyton?" says an all too familiar voice.

"It's currently reading bitter and lonely," I turn and look at Nathan quickly offering him my glass, "Bourbon?"

"No thanks." Instead he signals for the bartender to bring him a beer.

"Good. I'm not much of sharer," I mutter downing the shot, "What's up?"

"You're drinking yourself to death."

"Tell me something new, Nathan."

"You're avoiding Haley and me. And I happen to think that's a pretty shitty thing to do to someone who just got of the hospital."

"Well, if I'm not mistaken, people who just got out of the hospital shouldn't be drinking beer."

"First of all, I injured my back not my stomach so what's wrong with drinking? And secondly, don't change the subject, Sawyer."

"I'm not avoiding you," I say blandly, "I'm avoiding her."


"Yeah, Haley. You're wife's such a bitch" I say sarcastically. I roll my eyes at his confused look. Clearly he didn't pick up the sarcasm. "I'm avoiding Brooke." The words roll of my tongue like poison.

"Easy there. I already knew that." He warns with a smirk. The bartender hands him his beer and he sits down next to me on the stool to drink it.

"You can leave," I say, not knowing if I want him to or not.

"I could," he says sipping his beer, "but I won't."

"What about Haley?"

"I told her I was coming over here. Besides I'm really just here to piss off Brooke." A small chuckle bursts out despite my attempted restraint not to show emotion.

"What did she do to you?" I ask.

"She told me that if I came over here, I'd lose all her respect and trust. And you know how much I like it when people tell me what to do," he says giving me a knowing look. I think back to all those times when we were dating and I had to basically beg for him to do anything remotely unselfish. Only Haley has that ability to order him around.

"So, I'm guessing Brooke's been playing dictator to you guys when it comes to me." I take another drag of my cigarette waiting for his response.

"Exactly. Haley says she's staying out of it. She refuses to take sides. And Lucas, well he's afraid to look at you or Brooke will have his head. And I'm not talking about the one he uses to talk." We both laugh at the fact that Luke's completely whipped by the devil herself.

"Eh," I shrug after my laughter subsides, "What can I do?"

"Well, here's one thing. You can tell me why you're drinking, smoking and brooding on this very barstool every night. Then maybe Lucas will get off my ass about making sure you're ok."

"Lucas?" I ask disbelievingly. Lucas could give two shits about me.

"He's worried about you," Nathan says looking me in the eyes, "He's afraid that you're self destructing or- what was it he said? Something about building up these walls that no one can reach around. I don't know. All I know is that he wanted me to make sure you're all right since he can't do it." All I can think at this moment is how dare Lucas? How can he just make assumptions when he hasn't spoken to me in three weeks? Granted, it's partially my fault that we lost contact, but still he's got me angry now.

"You can tell him the following," I say to Nathan, "Fuck you, Lucas."

"Really?" Nathan says quietly. I can tell he's shocked to say the least.

"Actually how about fuck you, Lucas. If you cared, you'd be the one asking me that. So why not just stay the fuck away."

"Angry at Lucas too?" Nathan quirks an eyebrow. I ignore his question using a straw to stir my next drink, a coke. I'm guessing Nathan ordered it when I wasn't looking.

"I want you to tell him that." I whisper, trying to force the tears back, "And if my ex-best friend happens to wonder what I told you about her which I know she will, tell her I said she can burn in hell."

"Harsh," he says shaking his head, "Any choice words for Haley?"

"Tell her I love her to death and I don't want to put her in between me and Brooke. She should just steer clear of me."

"And what do you have to say to me?" Nathan asks with another smirk.

"You're a good guy, Nate and I'm happy to see you're out of the hospital."

"Thanks, Sawyer," he says, "I'll come visit you." I nod as he walks back to his booth. I'm not exactly waiting on pins and needles for his next visit. I've long since left that drama filled clique, but I'm positive my angry remarks will only incite Brooke's bitchiness and Lucas's worry. And right now, I don't want either of them. At least, that's what I'm trying to tell myself.