A/N: This is the end, my only friend, the end…yes I'm quoting Jim Morrison, but it's the truth. Last chapter! I want to thank all the reviewers. Your response to this story has been amazing and I thank you for spending time to drop me a few words of encouragement. The support for this fic surprised me especially when I started to give an original character such an important role, but then I guess that's the power of A.J., huh? lol. It was so hard for me to end this story because I had no idea how I wanted it to go. I think it came out cheesy, but in a good way…umm in a Lucas way. lol.

Fun fact for you all…I hate Shakespeare and all his works and yet in every God damn fic I write Shakespeare's little plays creep their way into my writing. It's not fair. And I'm sorry if any of you are a fan of his, I just had to rant a little about how I can't escape the man no matter how much I try. lol.

Okay enough of my extra long ramble…Thank you again and if at all possible, drop me a review and tell me how you liked the ending. Or you can curse at me for hating Shakespeare. Either way. : )

Disclaimer: I don't own One Tree Hill or Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet for that matter.

Chapter Nine: Thus with a kiss…

"Eyes, look your last! Arms, take your last embrace! and, lips, O you The doors of breath, seal with a righteous kiss. A dateless bargain to engrossing death!
Come, bitter conduct, come, unsavoury guide! Thou desperate pilot, now at once run on The dashing rocks thy sea-sick weary bark! Here's to my love! O true apothecary!
Thy drugs are quick. Thus with a kiss I die."

"Perfect!"

"And then I do this," A.J. said as he smashed his lips against hers. Peyton pulled back immediately.

"Okay, first of all, we said no practicing the kiss. Secondly, I'm dead. You wouldn't kiss a dead woman like that."

"Hmm, you've been friends with me for at least a month and you still don't know me well."

"Eww, necrophilia!"

"Having a hot, dead wife makes it okay."

"Thank you? I think."

"Take the compliments when I give them," A.J. said as he began looking through the cardboard box of costumes in front of him. He and Peyton were currently in running through the last dress rehearsal for their Romeo and Juliet performance. It had been one month since the Friday night party, and ever since then, A.J. and Peyton had become permanent English partners. No matter what the project, A.J. had convinced Peyton it was in her best interest to be part of their team. Or maybe it was more important to him that she kept him on track. Either way, Peyton agreed.

"So will you be wearing tights for this performance?"

"Ha," A.J. barked.

"Seriously? I need to give Karen the final details."

"Who's Karen?"

"Lucas's mother," Peyton said, rolling her eyes, "We've talked about this before."

"I used to smoke weed. I have a bad short term memory. Sue me."

"The words 'used to' imply it being past tense."

"It is," A.J. feigned a gasp.

"Liar," Peyton said, "Jill McCoy said she caught you smoking this past weekend with Sarah and Hannah."

"Jill McCoy is a liar, and she's also jealous because I slept with both those girls instead of her."

"Arrogant much?"

"More like brilliant and intuitional."

"Intuitional?"

"Inclined to follow intuition. Check the dictionary, dumb ass."

"Tsk. Tsk. That's no way to speak to a lady," Peyton said, clicking her tongue against the roof of her mouth.

"Where's the lady? All I see is-"

"You two bicker a lot, huh?" The voice came from the door of the gym. Peyton whipped around, a bright smile immediately coming to her face. A.J. just rolled his eyes.

"Yes, stalker boy, we tend to. She simply doesn't realize my perfection."

"How long have you been there, Luke?" Peyton asked, ignoring A.J.

"Just enough to know that A.J. slept with Sarah and Hannah this weekend and that Jill's spreading lies again."

"See! Even your stalker knows she's a liar."

"Wow, he's been here two minutes and you've managed to call him stalker twice."

"It's a pet name."

"Why are you friends with him again?" Lucas asked as he sat down beside Peyton. The two were still lingering in a state between friendship and dating. They were more then friendly with each other. They held hands and hugged more than normal friends would. There were small kisses on the cheek or forehead, but it seemed they were just edging a line, with all the fear in the world of crossing it.

Lucas though was ready to cross it. He had been aching for weeks now to kiss her. To call her his girlfriend. But for some reason, he couldn't get enough courage to just straight out ask her where she stood. That would hopefully change soon though. He had been putting into action a plan that would hopefully mean taking the plunge for him and Peyton. It would have them confront their feelings, or in the least, earn him another kiss from the curly blonde.

"I'm friends with him because he's witty enough to give you a pet name," Peyton said sticking her tongue out at him.

"That and I'm extremely good looking," A.J. said, "And funny and smart. I'm like you minus the emotional baggage of having a…well whatever the hell you two have."

"You are a smart ass," Peyton said quickly, trying to avoid the question of whatever the hell she and Lucas were.

"Don't hate the player. Hate the game," A.J. stood up from his spot. "I should get going. I have a date with destiny."

"Ooh Destiny? A stripper, perhaps?" Peyton teased.

"Try my father." A.J.'s face distorted "Ugh, thanks, bitch. Now I have this vision of my father in chaps."

"Go!" Peyton chuckled.

"Parting is such sweet sorrow," A.J. said dramatically as he exited the gym.

"That's not in our scene, A.J.!" Peyton called after him.

"Shakespeare needs no reason to be quoted." His voiced echoed off the walls long after he had shut the door.

"And then there were two," Lucas said, in a low mysterious voice. Peyton simply laughed a little, resting her head on his shoulder.

"Tell your mother to skip the tights. I think I'd be a fool to expect A.J. to actually wear them."

"You'd be a fool to think anyone else wants to see him wear them," Lucas said scrunching his nose at the thought.

"Oh, you'd be surprised. All the girls in our class would love to see that."

"Take a man's perspective. Tights are not something we feel comfortable wearing."

"I understand. I personally hate them too."

"Well your pretty legs shouldn't be covered in tights anyways," Lucas said. He patted her kneecap, uncovered by her short denim skirt.

"Charmer," Peyton teased.

"Always." They sat in comfortable silence and the linoleum floor. Lucas played with Peyton's curls, twirling the silky blonde strands through his index and middle finger, as she repacked her boxes. When she finished, she took the time to relish in his subtle caring gestures before breaking the tranquility. She needed to get home.

"Will you walk me to my car?" she asked sweetly, a shyness creeping over her that only Lucas could instill and he responded with a kind smile.

"Of course." It's not like he could deny her anything.

They walked, hand-in-hand to Peyton's car, the only sound heard was the gentle breeze and Lucas's humming of "Linoleum" by Lucas. Peyton couldn't help the giggle that tumbled out at hearing it.

"You're goofy," she said as she opened the door to her car and he guided her box into the backseat.

"I know," he said as he pulled back.

"So," Peyton began, but she was cut off by the ringing of his cell phone. Lucas glanced down, his eyes widening.

"Can you wait one second? I just got to answer this."

"I could always talk to you later."

"Just wait impatient one." He flipped his phone open. "Hello."

"It's done, stalker boy. I talked to Mr. Camden, and he's giving Haley and I a pass."

"And he's okay with it?"

"Yeah I guess he's all for romantic gestures. I should have expected it from a silly hippy like him."

"Thanks again for this."

"Well as long as it works. I'm so sick of this 'will they, won't they' crap. I feel like I'm watching the WB."

"Well this should settle it."

"Good luck then." And with that, the line went dead.

"Who was that, Luke?" Peyton asked as he placed the phone back in his pocket.

"A friend of a good friend."

"Why aren't you dressed?" Peyton panicked as she paced backstage. The theater was filled with the entire school. All of them allowed assembly to see the junior and senior classes perform their skits. Unfortunately, her partner seemed to have gotten cold feet, though his smirk confused her in that regard.

"I'm not dressed because I'm not going out there."

"And why the hell not?" Peyton demanded as she invaded his personal space, her fists curling into balls and her eyes narrowed.

"Has anyone told you, you're sexy when you're angry?" A.J. said, raising an eyebrow. Peyton disregarded his statement.

"Aaron James Hopps! We are the last performance of the day and we're up in two minutes! I don't have time for flirting."

"You never have time for flirting," A.J. muttered, his smirk still in place.

"A.J.," Peyton began in a very low voice.

"Relax," A.J. sighed, "I'm not going on for a very good reason."

"And that would be?" Peyton hissed.

"There's someone else to take my place."

"What? Who? Why?" Peyton sputtered, trying to make sense of it.

"Another actor. Don't worry though. He knows his lines. I made sure."

"A.J., what the-"

"Ooh curtain call," he said shoving her out on stage, "Don't forget your lines."

"Aaron James," she hissed before she saw the curtain begin to rise. She nearly froze in place, but quickly hurried to her spot and lay down, closing her eyes. She could hear the footsteps on stage, but the identity of her fellow actor was unknown. Not wanting to open her eyes and ruin the scene, she let herself just trust A.J., and it was a scary thought to have trust in him.

Then, she heard the voice and she had to try her hardest to keep the goofy grin off her face. She knew who it was standing at the edge of her bed. That voice, she had learned, was distinctive. It was raspy and low, sexy enough to send chills down her spine. She was awoken somewhat from her trance by the feel of his hand on her cheek.

"Here's to my love!" he said, caressing the smooth skin on the line of her jaw. He removed it, and she repressed a groan at the loss of contact. She heard him unscrew the lid of his flask, no doubt getting ready to swallow the poison. And she felt herself giddy with anticipation at the thought of his lips on hers.

"O true apothecary! Thy drugs are quick." He leaned forward so that she could feel his breath on her lips and his hands moved to cup her face, "Thus with a kiss I die."

His lips brushed hers in the gentlest of ways, before pressing down with a bit more fervor. His tongue darted out for the briefest second to taste her bottom lip before retreating back into his own mouth. He collapsed gently beside her, whispering in her ear, "I'm glad you didn't go with tights."

It took all the strength she had to finish the act, and not just reach over and kiss him senseless, but she did. And finally when she laid down to die and she saw the curtain close she reached over and smacked him on the chest.

"Ouch!" he said, recoiling into a ball, "What was that for?"

"A.J. almost gave me a heart attack when he said he wasn't going on!"

"Well, it was the only way."

"The only way for what, may I ask?" Peyton said, rolling her eyes.

"To kiss you without having to worry about the consequences," Lucas said honestly, "I've been wanting to do it for weeks, but I wanted to give you time."

"Well, you could have just asked."

"Asked to kiss you?"

"No! Just…I don't know, asked me out."

"Really?"

"Yeah. I think," Peyton began before stopping to take a deep breath and gather her strength, "I've been thinking about this a lot lately. It would be easy, Luke, to punish you for the mistakes you've made. They were foolish and we both know that, but we both also know that you've come a long way since then. You basically have done everything I've asked of you and while it would be easy to hide from this thing we have, I'd rather embrace it. I'm tired of walking the thin line of friendship and relationship and hiding behind something platonic with you because damn it, I like kissing you!"

They both shared a small chuckle before Peyton continued.

"You're the one who taught be to open my heart up and let people in. And you also taught me that even if doing so leads to heartbreak, it doesn't mean the end. There's always second chances at love. And I'm ready for our second chance. I've actually been ready for awhile. I just figured you'd want to make the first move."

"I'm glad you want to give me a second chance," he said taking her into his arms and hugging her tightly.

"You're worth it," Peyton mumbled into his shoulder. They pulled apart though Lucas kept his hands on her shoulders.

"So a simple 'Hey Peyton, want to see a movie tomorrow?' would have sufficed."

"Probably," Peyton laughed.

"This was all in vain huh?"

"Well, no," she said playing with his collar, "I love grand romantic gestures. And this was definitely cheesy enough to make my top ten even. And it was quite a first move on your part if I do say so myself."

"So does that mean I get another kiss? Or do you need-"

He was cut off when Peyton's lips smashed against his, her tongue immediately delving into his mouth which had been open mid-sentence. He pulled her close and wrapped his arm around her waist while his other hand was buried in her hair. A sudden clapping caused the two to break apart.

"Well, well well," A.J. said, "Looks like stalker boy's little plan worked."

"You!" Peyton said pointing a finger in his face. A.J. could tell she was preparing one of her long winded rants so he put his hands up.

"Now's not the time for this, Peyton." She immediately shut up hearing him use her real name. "You two need to go enjoy the night now that you're officially a couple and I'm going to go chat up that brunette over there."

"Umm, A.J.," Lucas said quietly, "You do realize-"

"Of course," he smirked before heading to the back of the theater. The girl watched him approach with a look of apprehension and intrigue settled on her face.

"Why hello young lady," he said smoothly, his hands folded behind his back, "Did you enjoy the show?"

"It was lovely," she said politely, "I especially liked the last act although I think you would have done much better as Romeo."

"Naturally," A.J. nodded, "But he suited her Romeo much better. The whole broody thing she has going. Way too depressing and angsty for a charming, upbeat fellow like myself."

"I can see that."

"Maybe you just have a thing against her Romeo."

"Whatever you say, Hopps."

"I've heard stories about you," A.J. said suddenly, "Some very interesting stories."

"None of them are true."

"Pity. I'm always looking for a good screw and a girl who can drink me under the table."

The brunette girl smirked and turned to face him.

"Well, maybe not all the stories were false," she said quirking an eyebrow, "What did you have in mind?"

"We are the two hottest, horniest people in this school. I'm sure we could think of something. The real question is how much time do you have, Brooke Davis?"

"It was only a matter of time," Peyton laughed as she watched A.J. and her former best friend slip out the back door of the theater.

"They seem to make sense," Lucas said, furrowing his eyebrows, "Although I really don't want to think of the havoc they're about to reek on Tree Hill."

"I don't either. I'd rather think of where you're going to take me on our first date."

"Well I was thinking dinner and a concert. I got tickets to NOFX."

"I think that sounds lovely as long as you don't start singing."

"That's me inside your head," he managed to sing before he was cut off by Peyton's lips.

THE END

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Yeah I couldn't resist a little Brooke Davis/ A.J. Hopps action...They seem fitting really. Anyways, I hope you enjoyed reading this story as much as I enjoyed writing it. Be sure to check out my latest LP fic "The Art of Selflessness"

Christina