BRIEF NOTES BEFORE I START:

This is my first story. Reviews are greatly appreciated. :D

EXPANDED SUMMARY:

Everything in Tree Hill seemed fine – Karen Roe gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. 3 months later, Haley and Nathan welcomed their son to the world. Brooke and Peyton's friendship was slowly rebuilding itself, while Lucas and Peyton's relationship seemed like it was destined to be for keeps. That was, until Lucas discovered the truth about Keith's murder. Dan confesses, gets convicted, sentenced to life, and sent to a state prison. Karen found it too difficult to stay in Tree Hill after everything that's happened and decides to leave. She doesn't force Lucas to go with him but Peyton convinces him to, despite his claims that it was alright with his mom if he stayed. They try the long distance thing for a while, but a phone call, one afternoon a year later brings them to an end.

Four years have passed since then. Nathan and Haley graduated from Duke and both decided to return to Tree Hill for good, instead of their usual weekender trips. Brooke is graduating with a degree in Fashion from American Intercontinental University in California. Larry Sawyer figured in a dredging accident during Peyton's sophomore year. Peyton struggled but eventually came through – graduated as an Art and Music major from UNC-Wilmington. Derek came home from his Iraq tour during Peyton's freshman year – he's been out of commission and staying with her since. Lucas graduated from NYU with a degree in Literature and creative writing and has been getting book deals from several publishers.

Just when it seems like everyone has moved on, change comes again to turn their lives around.

Will it work for Lucas and Peyton this time? Is Lucas going to really find his way back home? And when Lucas is faced with the reality he's tried to overlook all these years, will he finally learn to embrace it?

DISCLAIMER:

I don't own One Tree Hill. Wish I did, though.


PROLOGUE

"It's time we went back."

His mother's words were cryptic, but he understood the meaning nonetheless. What he didn't understand was why. Why, amidst everything that's happened, would she want to go back?

Feigning ignorance, he says "To where?"

Karen Roe rolls her eyes. "Lucas, you can hide from everyone else… but you've always been a bad liar to your mother."

He heaves a deep sigh "You're right, ma." He then proceeds to stand up from his spot at the dinner table, saunters by the fridge and leans sideways to face his mother. "But why though? I mean, why would you want to go back to Tree Hill? That place has given us nothing but pain."

"You and I both know that's not true." Karen defies her son's raised eyebrow with a steely look that said everything she had to.

"Fine, but what about Kaitlyn? She's made a life here, she's got friends and she's established her place in this society." His rebuttal was said with a voice so stern you'd think he wasn't talking to her mother.

But that never worked… not with her, anyway. "Your sister is only four, Lucas."

Like he didn't know. "So?" He wasn't about to give up that easy.

She's exasperated. She knew he would be stubborn about this. "You know, for a 22-year-old man who's supposedly one of the most promising writers in his generation, you sure do have a knack for turning into an unreasonable 10-year-old."

"I resent that."

Now she had him. "Look, I'm not asking you. I'm telling you. Lucas, you and I both know this place is nowhere near ideal for a child… and I want Kaitlyn to grow up in the place her father loved, even if that place is where he had his tragic end…" she trailed off, pausing for a moment to collect herself. They both knew she still had traces of the pain from Keith's loss.

Both of them did. It was a pain that wasn't so easy to erase… most especially because discovering the truth to his death was something they could never, ever forget.

But more than that, his thought proceeds to the other reason why he hesitated going back. His mind brings him back to that night where she unselfishly let him go despite the fact that she hated it when people left her… then fasts forward to that afternoon, one year later, when a call was all it took to shatter his heart into a thousand pieces.

His train of thought was derailed by his mother's voice "… and anyway, I'm not asking you to come with us. I know you've done well here, son, and I won't take that away from you."

Okay, now he knew he was in for it. "Ma, I can't leave you and Kaity. You know that."

"I know, Luc. I'm just giving you the freedom to choose. But whether or not you decide to come, Kaitlyn and I are going back to Tree Hill. This time, for good."

He knew her well enough to judge the finality of her words. Just as well, he knew himself enough to know his choice.

"I'll go tell Kaity." He said with a sigh.

Inwardly, Karen Scott danced a victory dance. She knew it was time… for him and for her. "Lucas?" she calls as he starts towards his sister's room.

He turns his back to look at her. "Yeah ma?"

"Everything will be in its right place."

He resumes walking to Kaity's room. Silently, he whispers, "I hope you're right."


She walks to the bar and takes a seat. It was a quarter past one.

"Tired?"

"Just a bit. It's three days before summer and the place is already packed." Billy, the bartender, nods as he hands her a glass of water. "Yeah, well. You've always had a knack for bringing a full house to Tric." He says as he proceeds to clean up the night's mess.

"Well I wouldn't want Karen to be disappointed." Her words were laced with a mix of pride and apprehension.

The man sensed it, he always did. "Karen would be at her proudest. You've done well with this place, kid… all that with a heavy load on your side too."

She blushed at his words, acknowledging the truth in them. The past 4 years had not been smooth sailing, especially for her. But she got through, and now she was stronger than she could imagine herself being. The future may not have clear skies all the way ahead, but she knew she was going to be okay. She had to be.

"Well, I'm gonna head out. G'night Billy, I'll see you tomorrow."

The bartender looks up and bids her goodbye. She turns towards the door, when she hears him say, "Hey Peyton…"

"Yeah?"

"Karen did the right thing when she signed Tric over to you." He offers a smile as he gives her the words, then returns to the task at hand.

She smiles as she makes her way out. She thanked God for the darkness, her beet red face was only starting to return to its normal shade. After four years, Peyton Sawyer still didn't know how to take a compliment.


"They're down for the night, thank God." He whispers to his wife as he slowly walks out of the bedroom.

She laughs at the sight of him tiptoeing his way to the hall where she currently stands. Who knew 2 hyperactive boys would be enough to turn this blue devil into mush? "Rough afternoon?" she asks as she puts her arms around him.

He does the same as they walk towards their bedroom. "You couldn't possibly imagine." The memory of this afternoon's events had released a chuckle from him. "But, remind me not to let them near the clothesline again."

She wrinkles her nose at the thought. "Do I even want to know what happened?"

Nathan Scott laughs softly. "No, mommy, you wouldn't."

Haley James-Scott heaves a sigh. "I'll find out soon enough."

The couple settled themselves onto the bed. He turns off the lights as his wife moves to lay her head on his chest.

"I love you, Hales." He couldn't have asked for a better family or a better life.

"I love you too, babe. Always and forever."

As they closed their eyes, the last thought that came to their minds assured them a peaceful sleep.

It was good to be back home.