AN: I know people are going to start threatening me if my updates are as sporadic as they have been of late, apologies. The reason for that is the fact that I used to have art classes during the OTH timeslot- meaning I missed most of the first season and have only caught snippets using the net, along with transcripts and the lovely TWP. So I couldn't scrounge up very many Pathan moments for Peyton to re-do. I finally settled on the only memory I have of them that would be plausible. Hope you guys enjoy ) Thanks so much for reviewing, it's the main reason I keep ploughing on here. And yeah, sorry- I said this would be up sooner than this... hee. But OTH comes back in two days, so hopefully I'll have the urge to spit out faster updates.

3: Tall Dark & Handsome. The Other Brother.

Nathan Scott was Peyton's first crush.

He was the first boy she ever liked.

He was the first boy she ever kissed.

He was the first boy she ever went out with.

He was the first boy she ever had sex with.

Nathan was Peyton's first everything.

They would always dismiss their time together as being little more than a continuous chain of booty calls. They would come to view their relationship as less of a steady girlfriend/boyfriend thing and more of a friends-with-benefits type of deal. This is how they dealt with it. They had to keep telling themselves that they wouldn't have worked out, that they didn't work out, that the only good thing that came of their relationship was sex. But that was a lie.

He was Peyton's first everything. It meant much, much more to her than she ever let on. It was never just about the physicality. And he knew it. Which is why they lied and said always that they were horrible together. They fought constantly- that was true. But damn it, they only fought because they cared and couldn't stand it when the other person didn't seem to understand or feel the same way.

They weren't good people back then. Neither of them were happy. But that was not a result of their being together. They were unhappy because circumstances made them that way. The truth of the matter is that without each other, their lives would have been much more miserable than it was. Contrary to what they let others think, they did save each other in their own way.

And they cared. God, they cared. He was her first, how could she not care?

As much of a jack ass as Nathan was, how could he not care that he was her first? That was a sacred title since this wasn't a one night stand or the result of a drunken dare. He liked her. He asked her out. They dated. He cared for her and she for him. The sex was not just physical. She did not just do it to get it over with, and he didn't pressure her into doing it. They both genuinely felt for each other. She will always hold a small section of him because though she wasn't his first, she was the first girl he fucked and actually cared about. The first girl he could say he made love with.

They cared. But they dismissed it.

"Has it occurred to you how much more pleasant Lucas's life might be had you just stayed with Nathan, leaving his life considerably less dramatic?"

"Maybe you're asking yourself, could I love Nathan? And maybe you're scared because you know the answer is yes. And maybe you're really worried because that world just may be that utopia you want- a world where you don't get Lucas at all. Not now, not in the future, and not even in the past. No memories to tide you over, but he could live and all could be rosy. Are you scared of what you might see, Peyton?"

Peyton hadn't spent much time with Nathan in ages. Since breaking up, they've barely interacted. And that's not because they've lost interest in each other. It's because they both dove right into new relationships so quickly they didn't have time to properly deal with their own. It's because they weren't sure of how they would still feel after all this time. It's because a small voice still occasionally asks 'what if?'.

And she remembered, after skimming through the many memories she had, she remembered the one pivotal incident where things could have happened differently. Had she been a worse person, had he been a worse person…

But could she do it? Did she really want to see?

Tommy Lee Lucas was staring at her. "You know what you want to change." It wasn't a question.

"I don't know if I can do this."

"It's not like you're doing anything definite. There's nothing wrong with seeing what could have happened. Or are you really that scared that you'd be better off without Luke?"

"I'm not a bad person."

Tommy Lee Lucas laughed. "No, you just dally around with your best friend's boyfriend behind her back, string on single fathers who are so pussy whipped by you it's unfair, and who by just living directly led to Keith's death. You're the paradigm of goodness."

"I don't… I don't want to steal Haley's husband. I don't- this isn't-"

"Honey, what we're doing now? He won't be her husband."

"You don't understand- the thing I want to change, he was with her. He was with her and she really really liked him and I can't do that to her."

"But you want to."

Peyton sighed. "I don't know."

"There's nothing wrong in just seeing what could have happened, like I said. This is just a possibility."

"Why are you being so nice? You want to set me up for hating myself, don't you?" Peyton demanded suspiciously.

"Possibly." Tommy Lee Lucas grinned. "But I'm actually curious."

Peyton took a deep breath and looked around. She hadn't seen her Lucas in a while. Probably because her conscience wouldn't be able to take it.

"Oooh! I know what you're thinking of, you dirty little slut." Angel of Death Peyton exclaimed suddenly. "We always did have a secret fantasy for doing it in the water, didn't we?"

Peyton shut her eyes, scandalized.

Angel of Death Peyton looked at Tommy Lee Lucas and smiled knowingly. "To the auction night we go."

"'There will be a time where you will wish you did little evil to do greater good.'" Tommy Lee Lucas quoted before Peyton's vision clouded over and everything faded out again. Through the grey swirl she was now becoming accustomed to, Peyton recognized the very familiar setting.

Music. Lights. A cocky, stripping Nathan.

Apartment. Pool. A still cocky, now wet Nathan.

Apartment. Bedroom. An amazingly decent Nathan.

"What happened to us, Peyton? We used to be good together."

"It's just sex, right?"

"You're turning into the kind of guy I always knew you would be."

"I guess I'll always have feelings for you, Peyton. But I owe it to Haley to be a better guy than I've been. I just don't wanna be the kind of guy who cheats on her."

Peyton opened her mouth, completely panicking.

Luckily for her, the mocking voice of Tommy Lee Lucas interrupted the decision she thought she would have to make that instant. For once, he was welcome.

"For those in the audience who aren't aware of every detail of your life, I think a refresher course is needed. A recap, if you will. A taste to remind you of just exactly what happened in the original scenario to better understand what it is you can and will change. So relax, chicken legs- you don't have to re-do the night right this second. Though God, that look of sheer panic on your face a second ago was something I could not pass up seeing." He laughed at her look of puzzled relief and only laughed louder as the expression turned to a slight glare.

"Jack ass."

"Oh? I'm sorry, would you like to tell Nathan you do actually want to screw his brains out?" Tommy Lee Lucas innocently asked, cocking his head to the side and somehow making the pool in which past-Nathan had just been speaking in materialize again. Tommy Lee Lucas looked at the paused image of Nathan and puckered his lips. "Aren't we just the hottest brothers you could ask for?"

Peyton crossed her arms and eloquently said, "If I had met you a year ago, I would have physically shoved your foot in your mouth."

"Guess my other half just turned you into a pussy, didn't he?"

She gaped indignantly for a second but Tommy Lee Lucas rolled his eyes and interrupted. It was fast becoming a habit of his. "Like I said, let's glance over the night that could have been, shall we?"

Peyton blinked and when she reopened her eyes, she was standing beside her past form talking to Haley as a half naked Nathan preened on a walkway in front of a crowd of screaming women.

Haley was begging her to bid on him, to get him away from them. Fishing out her emergency twenty triumphantly, past Peyton shouted out the winning bid of $112.

She had to do the bidding for Nathan since Haley had opted to spend some platonic friend time with Lucas and Jake, Peyton's original boy of choice, had been outbid by someone Peyton couldn't identify.

As the ladies went to pay and collect their prizes, Nathan was his perfectly deadpanningly arrogant self as he strutted up to his girl and his ex. Haley told him not to have fun, and Nathan so charmingly told Peyton to hurry up so he could get it over with. Peyton of course felt the need to joke that this was what he used to say before the pair had sex.

The two of them headed for Nathan's new apartment. He had just become emancipated and his place barely had time to be painted, much less be filled with furniture. It was actually pretty empty- with the notable exception of him having a bed.

As she was shown around the apartment, Nathan led her to the outdoor pool and in typical fashion, "accidentally slipped" and pushed her in with him, both fully clothed. She hadn't wanted to swim because she had stated that he was her boy toy- to which he responded just like old times. She rolled her eyes and responded that he did whatever he wanted, which was usually sucky or mean. He simply told her that she had let him.

They had an underwater sparring match that seemed to last for ages before settling down and talking, still in the pool.

Nathan looked at her. "What happened to us, Peyton? We used to be good together."

Past Peyton responded firmly with, "No. We weren't. We just had sex a lot."

He asked her if she was sure about that.

"Trust me." And then she told him that he knew she was the only one she's been with and they both confessed that even though they broke up, neither of them had slept with anyone else since.

Nathan swam closer to her and said, "It's just sex, right?"

Past Peyton was affronted and declared how Haley deserved better than that because of how much she liked and trusted Nathan, adding in, "And yeah, we could do it right here in the pool and no one would know, but I would know and you would know." She wouldn't do that to herself, or to Haley, or even to Nathan because he wasn't that much of a jack ass.

Nathan's response made her want to curl up and die. "I know it would hurt Haley, the only reason I mentioned it was to let you know that I wasn't pressuring her." To humiliate her completely, he smirked that she said he was good in bed. Having no response to that, Peyton just dunked herself under water in complete embarrassment.

Later, they left the pool and returned to the apartment, Nathan lending Peyton his sweatshirt as they both dry off and change out of their dripping clothes.

She's in the middle of towelling her hair when he admits that he was hitting on her back in the pool, attempting to explain why he did it with, "I don't know anymore. This whole good guy thing is new to me. I guess I'll always have feelings for you, Peyton."

Past Peyton felt her heart seize up minutely at that remark. It shouldn't have affected her but it did. She ignored the fluttering in her stomach and repressed the voice inside that said 'me too! Me too!' at the top of it's lungs. Because God, she had known that she would always feel for him but had been scared that she really was just a sport fuck in his eyes. For all the times she said that's all they were, she would have been rather hurt had he ever actually considered it as such.

As her brain went all kinds of crazy mulling over that one sentence, Nathan continued on and made those thoughts of hers shut up. "But I owe it to Haley to be a better guy than I've been. And I just don't want to be the kind of guy that cheats on her."

To cover for her uncomfortable line of thinking earlier, Peyton smiled and told him that she was proud of the man he was becoming. "You're turning into the kind of guy I always knew you could be."

Everything in her life had made it necessary for Peyton to be able to cover up her real feelings with ease. She was good at acting. But that didn't mean she wanted to stick around to hear more of whatever he had to say. It didn't mean she could pretend to herself that she didn't feel the stirrings of past emotion just by being near Nathan. So she said she should get going.

By boy toy rules, he owed her a kiss. So she received one. It was sweet, friendly, and altogether innocent. And it would be the very last time Peyton Sawyer would ever get to taste Nathan Scott. It was a good-bye kiss; the closure to their relationship.

And yet it never did fully close their relationship. It couldn't. Not when he was with Haley. Not when she was just getting out of a serious emotional relationship with Lucas. They couldn't honestly address anything they felt about 'them' when they were already supposed to have moved on so long ago. There was no them.

Just that sad little kiss where Peyton felt the fabric of the hoodie that had brushed his bare skin brush against her own. And the things she felt, the actions she briefly considered that night, were all shoved violently into a box she would deny existed.

It was just a whisper, barely a spark. But it existed. And with time, the repression would make her stop thinking about it but with that repression the 'what if' would grow. The whisper would never be silenced because she would refuse to acknowledge that it existed at all.

Tommy Lee Lucas reared his obnoxious head again, "Awww."

Peyton ground her teeth together. "I don't want to do this. I've changed my mind."

"No you haven't. You still wonder. People everywhere wonder what would have happened had they made that one choice differently, here you are given the ability to do this for several choices and you decline?"

"I know it's a difficult concept for you, but I have a conscience!"

"You're just scared to death, that's all. Come on. You're the one who decided Lucas was more important to you than your best friend. Who are you really going to hurt? At the time, Nathan was using Haley to get back at Lucas anyways and you had already broken up with Luke. You were single and his relationship with Haley was casual at best. And must I re state that this will be a hypothetical situation? No one will be hurt."

"You're being strangely reassuring." Peyton pointed out, ever the suspicious one.

"Well I'm getting increasingly impatient at your lack of assertiveness. Just pick a freakin' choice so we can get this stupid thing over with, already!"

"I want to talk to Luke."

"No you don't. You and I both know he wouldn't help in this scenario at all."

The blonde rolled her eyes.

"I'm going to take that as, 'Yes, hot Lucas, I'm ready to try to sex up your brother!'" Tommy Lee Lucas said in a falsetto, seconds before the grey mist reappeared, signalling the imminent do over.

As the greyness swirled around her head, Peyton couldn't help but think back to the beginning of the night she would be re-doing. Nathan was undeniably attractive and loath as she was to admit it, the cocky side of him was a bit of a turn on. Not that she went for jack asses.

He wasn't always that way, though. The night Nathan had slipped in Karen and Dan's prom tape into his beach house at a basketball after party had resulted in Peyton wondering if her and Brooke would turn out that way. Brooke had lightly said that maybe Peyton would because she let her boyfriend treat her like crap. But it wasn't always that way. He wasn't that bastard that Lucas and the unpopulars had hated so much. He had always been arrogant but he had cared about her. And he had treated her right. It was only recently that things turned sour.

The pair had dated for two years. Two years. She would not have stayed with him for so long if they weren't decent together. And the tidbit about them having sex a lot and that being all their relationship were? They only started having sex a year and a half into their relationship. He hadn't pressured her at all- even though he had just experienced his first sexual encounter two months before dating her. Peyton had been Nathan's lucky number seven in terms of his fuck list. Their dynamic had turned crappy in their final two months together, with their constant break ups. During those break ups, Peyton was fully aware of the fact that he seized those technicalities and slept around- even if they were normally broken up for only a few hours.

By the time they broke up for good, he had probably garnered an impressive 40+ conquest list. Comparing that to Peyton being his seventh it's not hard to tell why everyone thought he was such a dick. He was a man whore. And Peyton was too pissed off at the world to really give a shit. It was during those last two months that they had really started to degenerate into fuck buddies.

Funnily enough, after their final break up, Nathan hadn't slept with anyone else until he married Haley. After realizing they were done for good, he had been affected enough to actually not want the random girl booty calls anymore. It was the small details like that one remark of his about him not being with anyone since Peyton that alluded to how much he did care about her. Never explicit, always played down. God, she wished it wasn't like that. She wanted honesty, just for once.

And now she could have it- it was hers for the taking. The mist cleared. She found herself bent over, testing the temperature of Nathan's pool. Peyton had just enough time to realize with exasperation just what moment jack ass Tommy Lee Lucas had sent her back to before she felt Nate's arms slip around her as they both fell into the water.

She shrieked, just as she did before. And familiarly, Nathan mischievously said he slipped, impish grin intact. The blonde relished the renewal of the water fight.

After they calmed down again, Peyton once again floated near the edge of the pool and casually looked at her ex boyfriend, preparing herself for what would come.

As they repeated the same conversation as they had the first time round, Peyton realized with a jolt that it had always been her who said all their relationship had been was sex. He had always protested minutely. Funny, wasn't it?

"What happened to us, Peyton? We used to be good together."

"No, we weren't. We just had sex a lot."

"You sure about that?"

Peyton hesitated. "You're the only guy I've been with, you knew that."

He said him too and then- "It's just sex, right?"

Instead of bringing up Haley, Peyton stared into those intense eyes that had once made her weak in the knees and allowed her body to shift slightly closer to him as he drifted nearer to her.

Her silence led to Nathan's cocky head rearing itself earlier. "You know, you totally just said I was good in bed."

She could have hid in mortification, but this time she found herself smiling slightly. "You were my one and only so it's not like I have a lot to compare you to, but yeah you are good in bed. Come on, do you really think I'd have done it with you so often if I didn't enjoy it?"

His eyebrows shot up in surprise at her frankness and she laughed.

Resting her hand on his wet chest, Peyton added in quietly, "And Nate? Of course it wasn't just sex."

She left him rather shocked in the pool while she lifted herself up and out. Flinging her hand down, she helped him out and the two walked back to his apartment.

Feeling nervous as all hell, Peyton accepted the proffered clothes he handed her and changed. They smelled of his laundry detergent and of him. It made her smile despite herself.

Nathan uncertainly repeated the same words she remembered well. "So, I think I was hitting on you in the pool."

"I think I was reciprocating." She wryly responded.

"This whole good guy thing is new to me. I guess I'll always have feelings for you, Peyton."

"You've always had the good guy in you." She said before he could bring up Haley. "And you know when I said we weren't just about sex? I meant it. God, Nathan, you were my first boyfriend… I gave my virginity to you. That's not a light thing, even for a bitchy whore like me." She joked. "It hurt too much to admit that I felt anything for you, especially when you went around hitting on every girl in the area. I didn't want to make it obvious that you mattered more to me than I did to you."

"The other girls meant nothing to me, you know that-!"

"I stuck around while you slept around. Do you wonder why I did that? It's not that I didn't care or that I somehow like being a doormat. It's just that, despite what we both say, we were good together for most of the time we were together. It was only recently where you started being a dick and I stopped calling you out on it."

"I know." He admitted. "And I'm sorry. You deserved better."

"I'm sorry for bringing this up." Peyton sighed. "We were doing so well at pretending. I'm sorry I had to ruin the bubble we existed in just fine."

"It's probably good we're mentioning it. God knows I wouldn't have. Every time I try to, you brush us off as being fuck buddies."

"I've just noticed that," she laughed. "It's a defence mechanism, I guess."

"You meant just as much to me as I did to you, if not more, Peyt. You were the one I thought of when things got really bad, you were the person I went to when I couldn't deal with my dad's crap anymore."

"I guess making varsity was what changed you then. Why did everything turn so bad for us?"

"Come on. Everyone could tell you were into Lucas. And why not, you guys were perfect for each other. I couldn't just stand there and try to win you back when you were already falling for him. Appearances, you know. And I don't know… when I made varsity dad just turned way more severe with training and I didn't want you to feel sorry for me."

"So you kicked up the jack ass meter. Wow. Nice method there."

"Hey, you weren't exactly warm and fuzzy either."

Peyton cocked her head to the side and playfully socked him in the arm. "Maybe we're more alike than we thought."

He chuckled.

"Nate, you really are turning into the kind of guy I always knew you could be. The kind of guy you were not so long ago, the guy who had his hands in his pocket and a shy nervousness that one day in tenth grade when you asked me out. The guy who brought me roses and was so gentlemanly you only kissed me on the cheek that first night."

He remembered. "You made me nervous, I'll admit it. You were different from all the other popular girls. And everyone said you were so damn picky with giving out dates. Seriously, all the guys were impressed when you said yes to go out with me. I think having you as my girl is half the reason why I became the most popular kid in the school."

"I'll let you in on a little something. I've always thought you were hot and I was pleased you asked me out. It wasn't some charity date- I was giddy and I made Brooke come over three hours early to coach me on not making an idiot of myself."

The pair sat down on the floor against the wall and grinned at their slightly pathetic past.

"I'm glad we were together."

"We were good together, weren't we? Before we started fighting non-stop?"

"We only fought because I didn't treat you right."

"You did, once."

"I guess becoming a junior went straight to my head." He said apologetically.

"Would it be out of line right now if I continued this stupid chain of honesty and said that I… miss you, sometimes?"

"I do too."

Peyton glanced at the watch around Nathan's wrist and commented, "Well. It's just about midnight. Looks like you're not my boy toy any more."

"Aw, and you didn't really even get a chance to do anything with me." He joked. "I guess the rules state that I owe you a kiss." He leaned in closer to her and she almost let him. Almost. Peyton pulled away at the last moment and stood up.

"I can't let you do that because truth be told I kind of wanted to just say screw morals and well, have sex with you back when we were in the pool. And I hate myself for it and so yeah I don't think I should get that goodnight kiss because really again it'd be a case of you meaning more to me than me to you and I've just made a huge idiot of myself all night and I can't seem to stop."

"I love it when you start rambling." Nathan grinned and joined her standing up. He smoothed over a wet curl of hers and tucked it behind her ear. "And I'm sorry Peyton, but rules are rules." He leaned in again and slipped his arm behind her to bring her closer to him. The kiss this time was not as innocent as it should have been. In reliving what it was they had been, this kiss was like so many of their other ones, so familiar and so natural. His lips parted and before either of them could realize that they weren't allowed to kiss this way any more since they had broken up, his tongue glided into her mouth.

A two second peck turned into a three minute breath withholding make out session.

His hand slipped down to her waist and hers caressed his chest, the material of his wife beater thin enough so that she could feel every detail of his upper body in all its sculpted perfection. His fingers found their way under the hoodie of his she was wearing and then he had picked her up and against him as she wrapped her legs around his waist in a straddle.

"Did you say pool?" He breathed.

Next thing she knew, their clothes were being ripped off and they were all over each other under water. God, it felt good.

It was intoxicating. He could make her body feel things no one else had yet managed to make her feel.

As they finished a third round, Nathan asked with concern, "So, are you okay? Cold?"

"How come you're always nicest after sex?" She teased.

"'Cause it's when I'm in the best mood?"

She snorted and let him hold her against him in his arms.



"What does this mean?"

He looked down at her and gave her a quick peck. "I don't know."

"A good bye fuck? A booty call? Or is it more?"

"I don't know. More."

"And Haley?"

"And Lucas?"

They just looked at each other.

Nathan finally said, "Well, for what it's worth, I don't regret this."

"You care about Haley, don't you?"

"I still care about you." He helped her out of the water again and wrapped a towel around her. "And… call me crazy but…"

"Can we try 'us' again?" Peyton weakly suggested.

His eyes melted into hers and just like old times, she felt weak just looking at him.

"Things will be different this time, I promise you." He whispered.


"How's the tutoring going? You're tutoring Nathan right? It's ok. He tells me everything." -Peyton

If they were so bad together, then why did he still trust her with everything he had, even when they were fighting constantly?

"It's not about the car. It's about you. I finally saw you clearly for the first time last night. The way you treated me, the way you treated Tim, the way you treated your brother. And the way you're playing that girl."

"What? Are you talking about Haley? Is that what this is about? Peyton, she means nothing."

"You're still an ass and what's really sad, Nathan, is that you're too stupid to get that. So thank you for being such an amazing son of a bitch last night. You really made this a no-brainer."

It surprised him more than anyone could have suspected when she broke up with him for good. They had probably had at least a dozen break ups and make ups and it hadn't occurred to him that they could ever really end for sure. She had become so much apart of him that he didn't know what exactly to do when they weren't a couple anymore. At the time, she had looked to Luke and he to Hales but throughout it all, he had always thought Peyton would be the girl he'd be going home to at the end of every day.

So they were together. Again.

They were happy, in a way.

He almost reverted back to his jack ass tendencies- staying with Haley for the emotional cushion she provided with all her innocence and using Peyton as a sex object to get him off. Peyton didn't take to that and booted his ass out the door- so he finally chose his first deep relationship over Haley.

He wasn't a bad guy and she finally stood up for herself. And when he treated her like the way he would have treated Haley had they stayed together, Peyton thought she had found her prince after all.

As time wore on, Lucas faded from her mind, the attraction dimming. Nathan was who she was most attracted to and his wise cracking in your face remarks (when toned down so as not to be overly harsh) made her laugh. She was once more that young school girl who had anxiously begged her best friend to help her prepare for her first date.

She still clearly remembers the first time they slept together. He had been so careful, so considerate. Nathan was paranoid she would think all he wanted was to get in her pants- despite the fact that he had patiently waited the year and a half for his girlfriend to be comfortable enough to do it. It was a beautiful night and their first time had been at his house, while his parents were away.

That was one of the happiest times she could remember.


"Look at you, all happy." Tommy Lee Lucas gushed annoyingly. "Looks like someone does indeed have bad lusty thoughts over an ex."

Peyton didn't have an answer to that.

"Is that what you want then?"

"I shouldn't have felt that happy." She muttered guiltily.

"Oh come on. You don't believe in soulmates, do you? You can be just as happy with any number of people, if the circumstances are right."

"I always thought I was meant to be with Luke- and-"

"And now you're going to break his undead heart." Tommy Lee Lucas pouted. "Isn't it tragic that he comes to comfort you from beyond the grave to offer you hope and you want to choose a reality where he's barely in your life at all?"

"I never said that's what I wanted-"

"You do want it, though, darling." Angel of Death Peyton smiled. "Nathan was one hell of a hot man in bed and otherwise. Nice choice. I approve."

Keith sighed and materialized beside the trio. "Before making any hasty decisions, you need to know the full story, the full repercussions. And Lucas here should have told you them already." He shot the boy a look.

"Oh but we were so close…"

"Manipulative schemer that he is, he wants the worst for you. Don't forget that, Peyton." Keith rolled his eyes. "If he's goading you into choosing a supposedly utopian world, it's clearly got flaws he's trying to hide because he'd be more than amused to see you pick a world in which you'd be miserable."

Tommy lee Lucas crossed his arms. "Fine. I knew someone would call me out on it. She's too stupid to do that herself."

"That wounds me deep inside." Peyton snorted sarcastically.

"Mmm. I know the perfect way to drive the point home." Tommy Lee Lucas smirked. "Let's have a chat with the girl you back stabbed, shall we?"

Haley walked into Peyton's line of vision with a scowl on her face. "You really are a backstabbing boyfriend stealing slut, aren't you?"

Peyton raised her eyebrows.

"Oh what, naïve little Haley James can't swear?" She hissed.

"What happened to you?"

"You stole my soul mate, I settled for yours."

"You and Luke?"

"Yeah, me and Luke."

"Were you happy?"

"I took over Karen's café when she retired. My whole life, and that's all I would be. A coffee shop owner. No one ever did find out that I could sing. I never had the guts to be more than a meek little could-have-been. I suppose I could have been happy with Luke, he was wonderful. But I never could get over his brother. And Luke knew that. He never forgave you for doing that to me. We weren't really happy. Lucas always knew I had settled for him as a second choice. But he never would break up with me because he didn't want to hurt what was left of me. So I ruined him, inadvertently. He tried so hard to be everything for me. As a result, both our sparks went out."

"But you and Nathan weren't that serious-"

"Oops. I guess I forgot to show you this detail." Tommy Lee Lucas piped up, blinking innocently.

Haley and Lucas in Karen's café. Boy Toy auction night. Lucas was glaring at Haley's lower back. Peyton frowned as she recognized Nathan's jersey number tattooed across her skin.

"Haley, why would you do that?"

"Because I'm in love with him."

Peyton felt her stomach lurch and looked at future Haley, who couldn't seem to do much but look incredibly hateful. The scene's not over.

"You're not a mess, you're just in love." Luke soothed.

"But I'm not sure if he is." Haley murmured quietly, tears overshadowing her face.

The scene faded away and Tommy Lee Lucas looked giddy with amusement. "Looks like he wasn't, after all, eh? She confesses her love and total commitment to him while he's eating his ex out in a pool. Isn't that sweet?"

"I didn't know she cared that much…"

"You are such a hobag." Tommy Lee Lucas shook his head. "Mm. Well, in case you're wondering, everyone lived a mediocre life as a result of your little tryst. You were all happy enough- but because of all that you sacrificed to get to that piece of middleclass heaven, no one was willing to risk changing anything for fear of making the sacrifice worthless. So you accepted the apathetic life instead of striving for more. Nathan would still go to Duke on full scholarship and be that basketball star he always wanted to be, but it'd be a hollow ride because well honey he wasn't a father yet and his life was 'meaningless'. Lucas and Haley never left Tree Hill and let's just say it, became rather celibate since after the first few times they had sex it just felt incestuous. He still wanted to protect her, but it made him sick to think of her as more than a sister. Amusing, no? Mm and Luke did have to drop bball because HCM was still there but he didn't care enough to have his 30 seconds of victory- Whitey never got his state championship. Brooke and you remained good friends, and she never did get close to Haley. As a result, Haley was a bit of a mousey stay-at-home nerd throughout her life."

Tommy Lee Lucas shrugged. "Well, look at this way. No one died or were really all that miserable. You did kind of become second generational Dan-and-Deb's, but you were all still alive and semi-decent. It's probably going to be the best case outcome. Do you really think you'll find a world where everyone's happy? This is the closest you've come and it's the closest you'll get. Choose it."

"I want to talk to Lucas."

"No, no you don't." Tommy Lee sighed. "Seriously, why the hell do you insist on guilt tripping yourself?"

"I want to talk to him!"

Next moment, Lucas's hand was comfortingly weighing down on her shoulder. Peyton turned to face him, her expression washed over with guilt.

"Hey. This is to make your life better, to make you feel better. I'm already dead, remember? Pick whatever it is you want to pick."

"It's not that I don't love you- I don't even feel anything for Nathan anymore, Luke, you have to understand."

"We always want what we can't have, right? But now you can have anything you want." Tommy Lee Lucas grinned.

She stared at her Lucas, at his soft concerned eyes and she didn't know what to do.

"Come on, go for tall dark and handsome." Angel of Death Peyton interrupted impatiently. "He's fucking gorgeous. And the whole concerned-and-sensitive act blond tortured jock is feeding you is going to get really old, really fast. He's a pussy. Nathan sure as hell isn't. The choice is easy."

"I'll understand, Peyt. I will." Luke reassured her.

She shook her head and took his hand. "I won't settle for mediocre. I won't settle for a half-life without you."

He smiled and kissed her lightly on the lips. "I really do love you more than you'll ever understand."

She smiled back.

Tommy Lee Lucas looked as though he might gag soon and quickly blurted loudly, "All right, then- so let's bring on the next door. And if you're going to start ripping each other's clothes off anytime soon make sure you warn us. There's nothing less attractive than angsty, whiney, over-sensitive, super pale sex between a bunch of pussy whipped vomit inducing doormats such as yourselves."

Peyton glared at him.

"What shall you choose next?"

"Can't we do this without you?"

Tommy Lee beamed. "Nope."

She exhaled heavily and tried to think of another choice to change while Tommy Lee smirked in the background.

"Man, this is boring." He rolled his eyes and as if to specially accommodate him, Angel of Death Peyton draped her arms across his chest and started sucking on his neck. "Mmm. Want to amuse me, baby?"

"I'll be your sex object if you'll be my boy toy." She responded lowly.

Peyton crammed her hands over her ears and screwed her eyes shut as the couple behind her started moaning as Angel of Death Peyton began systematically teasing Tommy Lee Lucas.

"I'm trying to think here, you sex addicted perverts!"

"Don't care." Angel of Death Peyton chirped in a sing song voice. She grinned as she focused her attention back on the task at hand. "Wow. Hard already?"

"You know you make me hotter faster than anything else." He replied, stroking her breast.

"Peyton, seriously. If you can't pick something soon, I'm going to have to pick for you." Lucas tensely exclaimed, his face filled with disgust at the borderline pornographic scene happening way too close to him.

She could barely hear him over the chorus of 'ewewewewewewew' occurring in her mind. Dear God, how could anyone be expected to think straight under these conditions?

Her brain frantically tried to make up its mind- she refused to sit here as they had outright sex. If this was what the afterlife consisted of, she really did have to save Lucas from such a horrific fate.

"God, I hate my life. And I'm not even fucking alive." Lucas muttered under his breath. It was now Angel of Death Peyton's turn to be teased and she was letting out a steady string of 'oh, yesss' and 'just fuck me, pleeease'.

It really was unfortunate that you couldn't kill someone that was already dead, because Peyton would have sincerely loved choking the life out of Lucas's stupid alterego. Motherfucking pig.

Sigh. Such was life. Now if only she could pick a scenario, already…