AN: I have an idea but it'll take a while but it's for the aftermath of the championship accident and I seriously do not want it to be ruined by watching the -actual- aftermath. This was originally chapter 12 in my oneshots of Leyton "Together" but I realized the enormity of the possibilities with this plot so I've evolved it to a whole new story. I am totally in love with this story idea so I will promise that this isn't a dead end story, started but never finished- however, it's December which means deadlines are popping up so I'll update around the ever lingering suck factor of school.
Choose Your Poison
It was unreal. Peyton stood at Lucas's grave and she couldn't move. She wasn't crying; her eyes weren't even watering. There the grave stood, the letters etched into stone, meant to last forever. He was gone. But she couldn't cry. She cried the day she found out he was in the hospital, and she cried when she found out how serious it was, and she still cried yet again when she found out he died later that very same night. The funeral was last week and she had ended up at the same spot for every day since they erected the tombstone. She hadn't cried last week and she hadn't cried any other moment since.
It couldn't be real. Her hand hovered over the edge of the stone for what felt like an age before she gave in to her hesitation and dropped her hand. She couldn't even bring herself to touch it…lest the cold reality of the grave confirm that no, this wasn't a horrible fabrication of her imagination. She told herself to get a grip and tried again. Peyton hadn't even been able to gather the courage to say her last goodbyes to the open coffin at the funeral. It had scared her and she hadn't been given that one last chance to see his face in 3-D.
Exhaling in frustration, she finally just slammed her palm down on the tablet. Pain.
"How incredibly pathetic is it that it took you a week to touch a piece of stone?"
Peyton jerked in shock and her elbow connected with the tombstone, which was painful enough to make her stumble back, stubbing her toe in the process. Ordinarily, that would have been enough for her to snap at whoever had surprised her but she didn't this time because even though the voice had come from behind her, she knew it far too well to mistake it.
She turned around and the body matched the voice. It was Lucas. But what the hell was he wearing?
"Mother of God, Tommy Lee?" The rational reaction would have been a shriek or a hug or something more appropriate to the occasion of seeing the dead love of her life in front of her but all Peyton could think about was how ridiculous Lucas looked in that idiotic Halloween costume. "You look so stupid!"
"You do realize I shouldn't be looking like anything, right? That I should be down there in that nice little hole you're standing over and that it should be of greater concern to you that I'm walking and talking at all than that I happen to be sporting a few fake tats." He lazily leaned against his own grave and cocked his head mockingly. "Of course, you plainly think you're imagining things or dreaming. Otherwise, your trademark tears and mouth all agape would spring to life and you'd be sobbing all over me."
"You are such a dick in my imagination."
"What, I'm not allowed to be a bit of a jerk after my heart stopped at eighteen? But God, Peyton, you really are a bit loony. First you talk to yourself in the form of a bitchy angel of death and now you're speaking to your deceased boyfriend. I'd get some help for that." He smiled.
"You can't call her a bitch, even if she was one, since she was technically me and I take offence-" Her response was clearly dazed but he only laughed at her further.
"Don't worry. I liked you when you were all bitchy back in the days when I was still river court rat and you were still screwing my brother, so I kind of think your Angel of Death thing is hot. Maybe I have a thing for bitches?"
"You rise from the dead just to taunt me in a really bad Halloween costume? Is the afterlife that horrible? What is this? I mean, you're not him."
"Oh, just like creepy Peyton #2 wasn't really you?"
"I'm not going to believe that Lucas had any part of him inside that resembled you. And how do you even know about my Angel of Death? I'm pretty sure I didn't tell Luke-"
Peyton jerked in surprise again. A paler skinned, darker haired, edgier version of herself stared back at her. "You thought you were done with me, didn't you?" Death Peyton grinned.
"What the hell was in my coffee this morning?" Peyton frowned.
"Deb spit in it. I really wish mom hadn't let her crawl back." Lucas rolled his eyes. He put his arm around Death Peyton and the two looked absolutely freaky together.
"Okay, what are you doing here? Why are you here?"
"Well." Lucas went all sombre and whispered importantly, "We came from Christmas past and future in the hopes of changing your destiny."
Death Peyton shrugged carelessly. "The afterlife really is kind of boring. What can I say."
"You're not dead." Peyton stated flatly.
"Sure I am. You and me kind of branched into two different people after you started getting warm fuzzies for poetry reading Luke. You were all whiney and self absorbed and the whole dark angst that cloaked you faded away. So I was just like screw this and left since you were suppressing me anyways. It's funny, isn't it? You keep thinking that a part of you died when Lucas died but really a part of you literally died when you met Luke to begin with."
"I must say, I love this version of you. She's got a backbone. Rawr." Luke said and kissed Death Peyton on the side of her mouth.
"Love you too, honey." Death Peyton smiled and kissed him back.
Peyton stared at the display between the two in disbelief. "Hello? Since I'm the only one living at the moment, shouldn't you be paying more attention to me and maybe telling me what the hell is going on?"
"You didn't get to say goodbye. And Lucas wanted to see you." A new voice spoke up. Keith. Normal Keith.
"Why couldn't you look normal? Keith looks normal!" Peyton gestured, not even registering shock this time around at seeing another walking dead person.
"Normal for you maybe. Normal for this reality." Tommy Lee Lucas said, raising his eyebrows.
"Listen. I wasn't talking about that Lucas."
"Hey, Peyt." The fourth spectre showed up beside Peyton and this time the hazy bleary acceptance she was regarding the whole situation with fell away. She had assumed this was all some delusion playing out in her unconscious mind somewhere in reality but this Lucas snapped her out of her dream state. He was her Lucas. Wearing his crooked smile and those comfortably crinkled eyes.
"Lucas." It came out as a gasp and she fell into his arms.
Tommy Lee Lucas snorted. "Wow. I didn't get that reception. You really are vain, aren't you? A wig and some fake tattoos and suddenly I'm dead to you? Oh wait. I am dead."
"You're not as funny as you'd like to think." Death Peyton told him.
"Sorry. It was a condition. If I was able to see you, our doppelgangers had to come along. And I just figured you'd like to see Keith." Normal Lucas said.
"Am I insane?"
"You weren't all there even before people started dropping like flies in your life." Death Peyton cheerfully answered.
"Could you shut up?" Peyton glared at her counterpart and shut her eyes in frustration.
"Fine. Be that way." Death Peyton gave Normal Peyton the finger and walked away.
"Wait. Can she do that?" Peyton asked.
"There is no God we're pissing off, in case you're wondering. We weren't sent back by some divine entity. There aren't any 'rules'." Tommy Lee Lucas rolled his eyes.
"Actually, there are. Psycho bizarro world Lucas just doesn't do anything by the book." Luke said, exasperation coating his voice.
"Excuse me for not living among the harps and halos."
"You're in heaven?" Peyton said incredulously.
"It's a figure of speech." TLL answered, looking at her as if she was completely moronic.
"We can't tell you, actually." Keith said, rubbing his temple.
"I do get to converse regularly with myself though." TLL grinned. "You wouldn't believe how crazy you feel when you can have a six person argument with yourself. There's that Lucas, there's me, there's river rat Lucas, there's Brooke's boy toy Lucas…"
"Stop listing. Seriously." Luke held up his hand.
"The list stretches on. There's a crazy number of alternate realities and, joy oh joys, we get to talk with them and bitch about the different paths that could have and actually did happen." TLL ignored Luke and continued on. "So you see, it's wrong to call me Bizarro world Lucas when the actual Bizarro world Lucas to you would be the one where Dan had stayed with mom. Surprisingly, or maybe not, our lives are slightly more complicated than some would think and in such a world, Lucas and Nathan would not have switched places neatly. Mom wouldn't be Deb, I, or we, wouldn't be like Nathan. Well, clearly, Nathan wouldn't have existed. Hmmm. It does make you wonder, though. Haley would probably have turned out completely different."
Keith interjected reprovingly, "Anyways. How are you, Peyton? It's been awhile."
She smiled weakly. "Fine. And you?"
"He's dead. Stop being so damn polite! And you're not fine. You've been standing at this spot for a week, bemoaning how much life sucks and how you're destined to die alone. People always leave, whine, bitch, rant, cry. Lord. In my universe, I never harboured secret feelings for you. I wore this costume for an entirely different reason than the one you remember, and I was a total bad ass. All the other Lucas's suck. Although, I did have a foursome with you, Brooke, and Haley."
"You're freakishly talkative. Shut up." Peyton said again, rolling her eyes. "Is he always like this?"
"Personality wise, yes. But he doesn't usually wear that stupid outfit. You made him look that way, actually. Since you already had the whole Angel of Death visit a while back, your subconscious arranged him to look like the correspondent to your Angel of Death and this was the best image you could think of." Keith said.
"So I am imagining things?"
"Okay. So I was being sarcastic earlier, but we are here to warn you of stuff. And to offer you something. You can totally go back in time and save the pansy." TLL said.
"Jesus, you can't just be quiet and let me tell her in my way, can you?" Luke hissed, looking ready to punch TLL.
"What our favourite knight in shining armour is trying to say is, we can tell you of the different realities and you get to pick the one you like best and poof, everything is the way you want it to be."
"It's not that simple." Luke socked his double in the arm and tried to clarify. "Peyton, we are going to tell you the different ways the championship night could have happened and you do get the chance to pick one, but you don't have to and if you do, you risk messing up everything. It can be a really selfish decision."
"Can I make you live again?"
"Then tell me my options."
x X x
AN: Oh yes. Dun dun dun. I'm destined to fail at life if I don't work more on homework but this idea attacked me and like I said earlier, it just wouldn't make me feel as tingly if I left it until after the real aftermath. I really couldn't just let it wilt in microsoft hell so here's the beginning.