A/N What would have happened if Lucas left Tree Hill at the end of Season one and didnt return? This is set in the aftermath of season one/beginning of season two. Its a year later and Lucas is going back to Tree Hill for the first time! Its a definite Brucas. Please review and let me know what you think of the first chapter!


Charleston…

It was different. It was so much bigger than the place he had grown up. At times Lucas thought about that tiny town, Tree Hill, and wondered whether he missed it. At times he wondered if there was a right answer to that question.

He missed his mom. He missed Haley. In a strange way he even missed Nathan. The two of them had been getting so close before he had left. He wondered absently if he had screwed that relationship up forever and part of him wished he had stayed. He could have gotten closer to his brother given more time. He wasn't such a bad guy, Lucas knew that now but the sixteen year old boy had spent so many years hating Dan's son that he laughed a little at the words. He had never imagined that he could get close to him, let alone hold a civilized conversation with him. Haley had brought them together however. He smiled fondly recalling his best friend and wondered how she was.

"Luke?"

He glanced up from the passenger seat of the car to look at his uncle. Keith was the one thing in his life that felt secure. He had always been there for him; he had never let him down. It seemed strange to think that his own father wanted nothing to do with him when his own brother was such a huge part of Lucas' life.

"What you thinking about kiddo?" Keith asked, taking his eyes off the road for a moment to look at him. "You seem miles away."

Lucas sighed deeply, leaning his right elbow on the window ledge and gazed at the scenery passing him by in a blur of colour.

"Do you regret leaving Tree Hill?"

Keith paused a moment, leaning his arms idly over the steering wheel.

"Sometimes. I sure as hell don't miss the drama!" He said with a smirk that forced a laugh from Lucas.

In truth his early life had been nothing but chaos. In the year since he had moved to Charleston things seemed so much simpler. It was welcoming change. He didn't have the constant conflict of Brooke and Peyton here. He knew he had messed up a lot of stuff to do with them, but even so he hadn't meant to hurt either of them. At times he felt like they both blamed him for how their relationship had turned out. They had been friends since they were kids and Lucas knew he had ruined that. He hoped that with him absent from their lives that they had both managed to reconcile their differences and make a fresh start.

He liked it here. At least in Charleston no one knew him as Dan Scott's abandoned son. There was no stigma. He didn't have the complications of wondering who he was and where he fit into the world. He could be whoever he wanted to be here. Nothing was written in stone, there were no preconceived ideas of who he was. He was just Lucas Scott… there was no baggage with that name now.

It had been hard starting a new school. The kids already had their own friends and were pretty settled after two years together, but even so Lucas had found a niche. Over time he had settled in and made some pretty amazing friends but they were not Haley, or Mouth, or Skillz. He really missed those guys. In his own way he was happy but at times he could remember Tree Hill with fondness. These feelings were few and they were certainly short lived.

"What's up Luke?"

"Nothing." Keith raised his brow but did not push him. His uncle knew him well enough to realise he would talk when he was ready.

"I know going back to Tree Hill is gonna be hard, Luke but its only three days and then we're back to Charleston."

Lucas sighed. Three days seemed like a life time. He was looking forward to seeing Karen but he hoped he could get through his entire visit without bumping into Brooke and Peyton. It was too awkward. There were too many unresolved issues there. Not to mention the fact he had left without even saying goodbye. He doubted his hastily drafted letter explaining things to them had gone down well either. He winced a little at his own cowardice. He should have told them in person he was going.

"Have you told my mom we're coming?" Lucas said finally.

"Nah, I thought we could surprise her."

The last time Lucas had seen Karen was a month ago. She had come to Charleston and spent Lucas' birthday with him. She had tried to act happy but he knew she was miserable. Lucas could tell she missed him and it made him feel guilty for leaving. In truth he had meant to return to Tree Hill after the summer but the longer he left it, the more settled he became until he didn't want to return. Lucas glanced out of the window again, his thoughts wandering as Keith continued to drive back to Tree Hill.

As they neared both Keith's and Lucas' childhood home, the boy was astounded by the sense of nostalgia he felt as the passed familiar structures. He had come to think as Charleston as his home but evidently he had not left Tree Hill completely behind. It almost seemed as if he had never left despite it being a year since he had last been here.

Rounding the corner and heading up the street were Karen lived, Lucas felt strangely apprehensive. It wasn't that he was scared of seeing his mother – he could never be afraid of that – but he wondered what reaction he would get from the others. He had already decided he would stop by and see Nathan and Haley tomorrow and although he had kept in contact with them both for the first few months the periods in-between calling had got longer and longer until he eventually stopped calling altogether. He always felt awkward talking to either of them. He knew that they thought he had simply run away from his problems and although he had in a way he did not regret leaving. He had needed to go at the time. It had been the best thing for him to do. He just hoped they understood that.

Climbing out of the SUV, he dropped his hands to his hips and took a moment to study the house he had grown up in. It hadn't changed at all. He wondered if he had expected it to look different somehow, as if a year's absence could have changed his home so much.

"Come on Luke." Keith said, dropping his hand onto his shoulder and steering him towards the house.

He glanced around nervously as Keith knocked on the door and after a moment it opened. Karen looked momentarily stunned and then threw her arms around her son, laughing.

"Lucas!" She held him tightly for a moment before pulling back. Karen studied him tenderly. "Why didn't you tell me you were coming?" She asked gazing between the pair of them.

"Its called a surprise for a reason, mom." Lucas said grinning. He felt all of his apprehension dissipate in that moment. He had forgotten how much his mother could heal for him. Her embrace could right all wrongs in the world.

"Come in." Karen said after a moment, hastily ushering them into the kitchen. She stared at her son in disbelief as if wondering if he was an apparition stood before her. After a moment she turned and put the kettle on.

"How are you?" Keith asked, taking a seat at the table.

"Good. Things are good." Karen answered, seizing three mugs from the cupboard on the wall. "How is school, Luke?"

"Great." The blonde haired teen replied, his eyes roving around the familiar room. He had not realised how much he had missed this place.

"Are you still playing basketball?"

"Yeah. I finally got a shot on the first team since I last spoke to you."

Basketball. It was the only thing that had kept him sane in the first couple of months in Charleston. He had joined the team in the first week and although he had spent the majority of the first season benched he had finally been given the opportunity to show his Coach what he could do. From that point on Lucas had played in every match, eventually moving onto the First team after a matter of weeks. He knew he was good but even so he felt proud that it was recognized by others. In Tree Hill he had always felt as if he was measured against Dan. People expected him to be great because his father and half-brother were. He had no one to be compare to in Charleston.

"That's wonderful." Karen smiled. Handing them both a steaming mug of coffee. She seized Lucas' hand and rubbed it gently. "I've missed you kid. It's so good to see you."

"I've missed you too ma."

Karen opened her mouth to ask something else but Lucas never found out what it was. The sound of the front door opening broke the conversation as the three of them glanced up. Lucas glanced questioningly at his mother but she merely gave him a small frown.

"Karen? You'll never guess what happened to me today! I was-"

The brunette girl stopped in her tracks, her eyes moving from Karen to Keith before resting on Lucas. She blushed a little, her mouth working to speak but she either couldn't form the words or she chose not to. Lucas glanced down at his mug, suddenly engrossed with it, wincing slightly. She was the one person he hoped he would not meet. He had not expected her to be stood in his mother's kitchen ten minutes after his arrival back in Tree Hill. For the last few days he had run through a list of things he would say to her if he had bumped into her but now, coming face to face with her, his mind seemed irritatingly blank.

"Lucas?" Her voice held a tone of incredulity. Knowing there was nothing else to do but bite the bullet he glanced up at her and forced a smile.

"Hello Brooke."