Fandom: One Tree Hill
Pairing: Brooke/Peyton. Eventually, quickly.
Rating: There's no cursing but some kissing.
Summary: AU. Sometimes attraction is instinctual and inevitable.
Author's Note: I'm hoping taking this break from my other fics will shake me out of this writer's block. This one has been floating around my head for a while. Perspective change is denoted by dashes (i.e. ---------) Feedback is love.
Disclaimer: I don't own One Tree Hill, obviously. This story was inspired by a lot of things I've read. I've gotten ideas from some places, storylines from others, but no infringement intended. If it sounds like something you've read before then we must have the same taste in books. I have less than no money, so suing would be pointless.
Brooke wasn't shallow. She knew this. But because she was seventeen and pretty and rich, she sometimes acted like it. Shallow pretty much came with the territory. And she was okay with this. Because, while she sometimes may be a little shallow, there were many things that Brooke Davis was not. There were a couple things that you couldn't tack on to her because they wouldn't stick. One of the things Brooke Davis was not is dumb.
She knew sometimes that it was best for her to seem it, though. Sometimes people would mistake her silence for disinterest or stupidity, like she was incapable of something just because she didn't want to do it. But she was interested. So very interested. She learned less by reading, more by osmosis. She absorbed things, let them sink in, until they were a part of her and she felt them. So she listens, and sometimes she's surprised by what she hears.
She hears her parents fighting, When they're home, they're fighting. Since she can remember, it's been unsettling. Not because she's worried about the state of her parents' marriage because that's been over for so many years, they're only waiting until Brooke is out of the house to make it official. No, it's unsettling because of what follows. After the words are done and the dust has settled her parents retreat to their bedroom. Then there's noise that turns Brooke's stomach.
At first it was because she was hearing her parents having sex, but then it was more how they were afterwards. All soft smiles and stolen glances and her father will pull out her mother's chair for her and help her pull on her coat. Brooke takes all this in, she stores it away in the back of her mind and this information sits there, waiting, growing. After a while it turns into this idea, this notion that sex makes everything better. Like, afterglow is therapeutic somehow and it works and repairs relationships like her parents'. When they're like that Brooke can trick herself into thinking that maybe they really are happy and their family might make it. Then they start fighting again.
But this idea stays with Brooke. She carries it with her and it's like a shadow, at her back but ever present, waiting and true. It doesn't surface, this idea, until she gets to high school and she discovers boys. Boys are easy and fast and always there. They are quick to tell her she's pretty, she's amazing, she's a goddess. And Brooke takes it all in. She doesn't believe it (she's not stupid, remember?) but she lets them thinks she does. She lets them think that she thinks she's lucky to be with them because it's easy that way.
It gets less easy when Brooke realizes that sex isn't giving her what she wants. It's fun and it kills time but when it's over the novelty wears off too quickly and Brooke's just left with this empty place that they were supposed to fill and she starts to think that nothing ever will. She doesn't like it, this emptiness. Like part of her is missing. It makes her feel like she doesn't know who she is. Then everything she's worked so hard for (the boys, the popularity, the appreciation) means nothing and she's just been wasting her life so far.
Brooke doesn't like it. That idea disturbs her more than anything. It makes her feel hot and uncomfortable in her skin and she wants to take it off. She wants to pull away all those labels she's been assigned because as shallow as she is, Brooke doesn't want the highlight of her young life to the night she got a plastic tiara and some wilting flowers at a dance that won't matter after two weeks because it'll almost be prom season. She wants to remember something more than that, something bigger.
And something bigger is coming. Brooke feels it. Feels it like a storm brewing, deep in her bones. When she's running late for Algebra one morning, she's jogging to class. If she's tardy again, it'll be a week's detention. She turns around the corner too sharply, too quickly, and there's a collision because there's a body on the other side of the hallway. Books are clattering to the floor and so are bodies. Brooke's caught herself and is kind of on her hands and knees. There are a pair of Converse All-Stars directly in her line of vision and Brooke sees them scrambling as she stutters out and apology.
"Are you okay? I'm so sorry."
She looks up from the shoes to a girl about her age. She's all legs and blonde hair and Brooke can't stop looking at her. Brooke's mouth is still open but no more words are coming out. She's a little speechless. And that has never happened.
"I'm fine, I'm sorry. I didn't even see you coming." Brooke thinks this is funny because the girl is blameless, it was entirely Brooke's fault and it makes her want to laugh a little.
The girl pulls herself up and Brooke watches. She's got long limbs and lean muscles and there's something graceful in the way she moves that fascinates Brooke, makes it hard for her to pull her eyes away. This girl is lithe; coltish. When she stands, Brooke is looking up at her through her lashes and she has this thought. It's quick, a flash, like muscle memory. It's familiar and recognizable and Brooke can't put a name to it. The girl is still looking down at her, and the gaze feels heavy, weighted with something real and it pushes Brooke's eyes down.
They must both have them same thought because the girl is dropping back to her knees and then they're both reaching for fallen notebooks. Their hands collide over a sketch pad and when their fingers meet, when they actually touch, Brooke feels something inside her go cold. Cold and hot at the same time. And it feels a bit like a beginning.
She feels the corners of her mouth turn up and she's smiling. "I'm, uh, I'm--"
"Brooke, I know." Everyone knows Brooke Davis. Cheerleader. Homecoming Queen. So beautiful.
Brooke manages a nod because this girl knows who she is and it makes whatever Brooke is feeling stronger. The girl picks up the last of her things and the bell rings. Brooke's late. But for once it feels like she exactly where she's supposed to be at just the right moment. This time they rise together. The girl's gaze flicks past Brooke, down the empty hallway, and then back. Brooke wants to hear her say her name again. Wants to know her name.
"Well, I'll see you… I guess." The girl nods and turns slowly. She walks towards the double doors, away from Brooke. Brooke watches her go. At the end of the hall, when she turns to look back, Brooke is still watching. The girl lifts her hand in sort of a wave and smiles before disappearing around the corner.
Brooke closes her eyes, leans back against the cool lockers. She can see the girls smile against the back of her eyelids, like it's burned on her retinas. Maybe it is. Maybe Brooke likes it.
My dad's car is in the driveway when I get home, I pull up behind it. It started raining on the drive home and I have to hurry to the doorstep because I don't have an umbrella. Our door is always open, sometimes I forget where we even keep the keys. The house isn't huge, but it's big. Big enough that I feel small when I'm alone in it. But it's warm, cozy and lived in. Outside, the rain keeps falling. No thunder, just a steady sheet, soothing and consistent. Like it would always come down. Like it would always be there. And there's comfort in that.
I tiptoe past the kitchen and up the stairs to my bedroom. I step out of my shoes and kick them into the bathroom. They're muddy. I'll wash them later. If I lie across my bed, I can see out of my window to the street. The water makes everything outside look blurry, like the whole world is wet and running together. It felt lonely.
Sometimes I imagine what it would be like if I had brothers and sisters, instead of just me and my dad (occasionally). I wonder what it would be like to fight over the bathroom or who finished the milk. Days like that, the silence in this house is deafening and oppressive. Those days I would hug myself and sleep. Sometimes though, when I'm one the porch, drawing and sipping coffee, being alone feels right and good; whole.
Brooke. Who did she go home to at night? Would she remember me? Had she seen it too, whatever it was that I saw when I was looking at her on the floor? Had she felt it?
"Peyton, Dinner! Come down and tell me about your first day of school." my father calls up the stairs.
"Okay," I yell back. I sit up and shrug off my jacket. It sat in my closet on an old hanger for most of the summer. I was afraid to wear it, I didn't want it to stop smelling like my mom. Like leather and perfume when I'm five years old. I used to sit in front of it, running my fingers over it again and again, trying to feel her in the stitches. But wearing it now feels good, a little like home.
When I move through the door to the kitchen, I smell garlic and tomatoes and I know my father is making spaghetti, it's about the only dish he can make properly. I smile and drop into a chair at the counter.
"I made pasta," he says through a cloud of steam. "I hope you're hungry."
"I could eat."
"Do me a favor and set the table?"
I start pulling out plates and silverware and glasses. I arrange them all at the counter. We only eat at the table on special occasions. I'm dropping ice cubes into the glasses when my dad yelps, the hot water had splashed his hand as he'd poured the noodles into the colander.
"Quiet, you, or no dessert."
"There's a pie. Apple's still the favorite, right?"
"Is there ice cream?"
"Of course," he says, taking my plate and filling it with spaghetti.
I watch him sprinkle parmesan over his dinner, most of it goes on his shirt and he ignores it and starts eating. I want to ask him about mom. About how long it takes to stop missing someone like this, until it stops hurting. I miss her a lot. We could talk about anything. She would probably have a lot to say about Brooke. She was like that, she had opinions about everything and everyone. She had opinions about the idea of things.
"So do you love it or hate it?"
I blinked. I didn't love her, I didn't even know her.
My father raised his eyebrows. "Someone's out of it. Where'd you go?"
"I was just thinking."
I looked down at my plate, twirled some spaghetti. "Nothing."
"Don't say nothing," he sighed. "If you don't want to talk about it say so. You don't have to tell me, just don't lie about it."
"I don't want to talk about it." I took another bite of spaghetti.
"Is it about a boy?"
"I don't wanna talk about it."
"'Cause we could talk about that. If you wanted. I know I'm not your mom, but if--"
"Dad. There's no boy. Just leave it alone."
He focuses on tearing apart a roll for a minute, he's struggling to find something to talk about. It happens a lot. We'll be talking and then we'll run out of things to say and we just sort of stutter into silence. We can pretend we're not strangers, that all this time apart hasn't turned us into sometimes-roommates when we used to be father and daughter. He likes to pretend we're not there yet. He's trying so hard. I usually let him. He's leaving on a job tomorrow. I wonder if he'll say goodbye.
"So, what happened at school today?"
He rolls his eyes, sort of shakes his head, so I add, "We got our books, and they might have to close AP Studio Art; not enough interest."
"I'm sorry. I know you were really looking forward to that class."
I shrug. I don't need a class to draw. I could draw Brooke, I think. Put her on paper and then I'd have a part of her I could hold on to. If I see her again, I'm going to tell her my name. I roll my shoulders. Sitting at these stools all the time is making my back hurt. I put down my fork and twist in my seat until I hear my back pop.
"Don't do that," Dad says with distaste. "It's rude. Unladylike."
"Since when do you care what's ladylike?" I crack my neck for good measure and smile when he flinches.
"I'm sure this boy would think it was unladylike."
I pressed my fork into a bit of tomato. The sauce was chunky, like always. I didn't like it when I could feel the tomatoes rolling over my tongue, fleshy and red. "There. Is. No. Boy. Dad."
"I'm only saying, if there were--"
"But there really isn't." I spun off the stool and dropped to the floor. The tile was cool under my bare feet. Hard and sturdy. I put my plate in the sink. "Thanks for dinner, Dad."
"Take some pie, I made it special."
I raised an eyebrow at him. "Okay, I bought it. But I bought it special."
I cut two slices and left one next to his plate. He pokes at it, knocking off the crust with his fork. "Maybe you can have this boy over some pie and coffee sometime."
"I know, I know. If there was a boy, which there isn't, he wouldn't come over for pie."
When Brooke gets home, her house isn't empty. For once. Her parents have company and she tries to get upstairs before he parents notice she's home. But her mother hears her, sees an opportunity, calls her.
"Brooke, darling. Come here a minute. I want you to meet some people."
Brooke didn't want to come here a minute. She wanted to go upstairs and remember this girl with the blonde hair and how her stomach flipped when their hands touched. She wants to think about what that means, if anything. She wants to know this girl's name. She does not want to meet people.
"This is our daughter, Brooke," her mother is saying as she crosses the room. Her mother is in a chair, a martini in hand and Brooke's father standing dutifully behind her, stoic and unaffected. Brooke's mother takes her hand, kind of tugs a little until Brooke is next to her. There is a chorus of hellos, then looks of appraisal.
"You were right, she's gorgeous," someone says. Brooke thinks it was the woman in the corner nursing the scotch. "Absolutely stunning."
"A spitting image." This time it's a man to her mother's left. He looks back and forth between the two and nods in conformation. Brooke has to force a smile.
"Sweetheart, have a seat. Fix yourself a drink," her mother says.
"I uh, have a lot of homework to get working on."
Brooke nods. "I want to get head start."
"Best get to it," this comes from her father. Brooke knows it's likely the most he's said all night. So Brooke goes.
Upstairs, alone Brooke has the TV on. She's curled up with a pillow against her headboard and her eyes won't focus on the screen. She wants to tell someone. She wants to talk. She feels like she needs to voice these feelings, whatever they are, to make them real. But they are real. So achingly real But she still wants to let them out. She thinks it'd make the most sense to tell this girl how she's feeling. Warm and kind of like she just ran around the block: breathless. Brooke wants to lean in close and whisper this in her ear--how random and perfect it all is (how random and perfect she is). Yeah. That's what Brooke would say if she was here to listen.
Brooke turns her head towards the window. It's still raining. She reaches blindly for the remote, her eyes don't leave the dripping window, and she clicks off the TV. In front of the window now, she sits, her legs folded underneath her. She lifts a finger to the cool class and traces the path of a rolling drop. She likes what the rain does. It makes the world sort of blurry around the edges. Softer somehow, and then it's easy to believe it is.
It was raining again. Today it was making me sad. Today it felt heavy and oppressive, not like it would wipe the world clean. I'm watching it make mud of the courtyard out the window of Mr. Anderson's class. "Supply and demand, people," he's was saying. "It makes the world go 'round. Without something to want, there'd be no reason to give. And without something to give, there'd be no reason to want."
This was stupid. All of it. Already it was October and I had only seen Brooke once since I'd bumped into her: she was turning into a classroom as the bell rang, her hair in a ponytail bouncing brown and kind of red behind her. Brooke. I tried to picture us side by side, walking down the hallway. Or her walking in front of me, towards me. And her smile, they way it crinkled her eyes around the edges and dimpled her cheeks. I wanted to see her smile. Again and again.
But the rain was falling hard against the windows, crashing. Making me feel like I should stop hoping: People always leave. Sometimes they come back.
I felt the air shift. Then it was still. And warm.
I don't look up. Afraid to be wrong, There's quiet and then paper shuffling, like Mr. Anderson was checking a class schedule, making sure this student was in the right place. I turn my head slowly. Mr. Anderson was frowning at a program card. But Brooke was looking at me. And smiling.
"Take an empty seat, find a book, page 34. We're taking notes."
Brooke looked around the room and nodded hello to a couple people. She stopped at the seat in front of me. There were empty ones all over. When she sat down and opened her bag she tossed her hair over her shoulder. It smells like rain and honey shampoo. I inhale. She pulled out a notebook turned around in her seat. She has to kind of stretch and lean over my desk to talk to me.
"Can I look on with you?" It would've been a lot easier to share a book with the boy next to her. That would've made the most sense.
When I was little, my mom used to talk about energy, (how that's all love is) electrons crossing space and connecting two bodies through the air. You can't make sense of it, she'd say. You shouldn't try. She was right. None of it made sense.
I turned my book sideways so we could both see it. She took the corner of the book and smiled, wide and genuine. Her other hand was next to mine, pressed against the pages, holding them flat. When I glanced up, she was watching me. Then she looked down at the text. I watched her eyes, they were still. She wasn't reading. Now her fingers looked closer. Had they moved? They were just barely touching mine, like an accident. She didn't pull them away.
"Ms. Davis?" We both looked up. Mr. Anderson was frowning again. "Perhaps you'd be more comfortable with your own book? There's one under the desk in front of you."
Brooke turned around and looked back at me, her eyes apologetic, and she shrugged. Then she faced forward. Looking at the back of her head I can feel my ears burning. I'm blushing. Brooke's hunched over her desk and I can see her hand working, scribbling something on paper. I watch how her shoulder moves when she writes, it's fluid and deliberate. Nimble. Then Brooke's head comes up and there's a tap at my foot where it's resting under Brooke's chair.
She's holding a note under her seat. When I don't take it immediately she shakes her hand a bit. I lean over and pull it as smoothly as I can from her fingers. I open it quietly.
You got a name?
I scribble back. Peyton Sawyer. I refold the paper and poke her ribs with the corner of it. She reaches under her left arm and takes the note with her right hand. She writes quickly.
You wanna get out of here, P. Sawyer? Go for a drive? I think the rain's stopped.
The nickname made me smile. I wrote back, I dunno. Can you get in a lot of trouble for ditching?
Not sure. Never done it before. I'm glad. I didn't want her to be a ditcher. It might make me like her less. I didn't want to like her less.
My car's in the west lot, right behind the gym.
The next thing she writes back is a smiley face. When the bell rings, Mr. Anderson tells Brooke he needs to speak with her. I gather my things as slowly as I can but I can only take so long putting books in my bag and he's still reading through the syllabus and highlighting things for Brooke. Outside of the classroom the hallway thins pretty quickly. A teacher I haven't met before tells me to get to class. Instead, I walk through the double doors and out into the parking lot. I figure I can get my car and pull up to wait for Brooke.
After a couple minutes, the doors swing open and I see Brooke squinting at the new sunlight. She looks beautiful, just like I'd remembered. She sees me waiting and walks over. I've put the top down on my car and Brooke drops her bag into the back seat before climbing into the front.
"You waited," she says, surprised.
"Of course I did."
She holds my gaze for a moment, her eyes searching and serious. Then she breaks into a smile and turns to fasten her seatbelt. I turn the ignition and put the car in gear. As we're pulling out of the parking lot, the CD changer picks up where it left off. The Smiths fill the air and I watch Brooke smile slow in recognition. She speaks softly, more to herself than to me. "I love this song."
I turn it up. Her smile gets bigger. And it's contagious. I keep looking back and forth between her and the road, waiting for direction. Finally I ask. "So, where are we going?"
Brooke's got an arm out, her hand arcing up and down, making waves in the air. "Let's go to your place." She says it quietly, like a secret. Maybe it is.
When we turn onto my street, Brooke is singing softly along, her fingers still dancing in the wind. She looks at ease, comfortable. It looks good on her. I don't think she knows I can hear her so I pretend I'm not listening, But I am.
Don't feel bad for me/ I want you to know/ Deep in the cell of my heart/ I will feel so glad to go.
I stop the car in my driveway but I leave the engine running so the music can still play. Brooke looks over after a second and grins. Like she knows I'm doing it for her. "It's okay," she says. "I've heard it before."
The first thing Brooke notices when she walks into Peyton's house is the pair of dirty old work boots by the door. She points to them, raises an inquiring eyebrow. Peyton follows her gaze and blushes a little.
"My dad's," she says.
"Is he home?" Brooke knows the answer is no, but she asks anyway. Peyton shakes her head.
"He works a lot."
"Mine, too." Brooke likes that they have that in common. Not so much the absentee father part, but she likes that it's one more thing that ties them together. She likes feeling connected to Peyton.
In the living room Brooke's eyes fall on a framed photo on the mantle. She walks over to it and sees it's a picture of Peyton as a child. Her hair is a different color, darker, but still curly and her eyes are the same. Peyton is grinning and missing both front teeth and a blonde woman is kissing her cheek. The picture makes Brooke smile.
She feels Peyton behind her. "This your mom?"
"Yeah." Peyton pauses, adds, "One of them."
Brooke turns and looks at Peyton. "it's a long story," she says. But she's looking down at her shoes so Brooke doesn't push her for answers. She turns back to the photo. "She's pretty."
"She was." Brooke doesn't turn around this time. She just waits to see if Peyton will volunteer more. She knows not to say anything if she does. "She died when I was little."
Peyton moves next to her. Their shoulders are nearly touching. Brooke can feel the heat coming through Peyton's jacket. She thinks about earlier in class when she'd just barely felt Peyton's hand over the text book. How she'd read about diminishing marginal utility through Peyton's fingers. It feels like static. Electricity she can feel but can't see. It makes the hairs on her arm stand up. It makes her brave.
"Can I see your room?"
Peyton just looks at her and for a second Brooke thinks she's going to say no.
"Yeah, it's…" Peyton starts. Then she just turns and leads the way. And Brooke doesn't think it's weird that she's walking up the stairs to the bedroom of a girl she doesn't know like she maybe should. Because, really, she knows her.
Upstairs, Peyton's room is big. The walls are deep red and covered in sketches. Brooke feels at home in it. She hears the creak of the mattress as the bed dips with Peyton's weight. Then rustling like Peyton's taking off her jacket. Brooke looks at each drawing. She takes them all in and makes them a part of her. She takes her time, trying to see more than just ink on paper. And she does. She sees sorrow and joy, pain and longing, happiness and satisfaction (and she feels it all). It feels a lot like she's looking at Peyton naked.
Brooke thinks about that for a second. This thing with Peyton. It isn't about sex. She doesn't so much want to have sex with Peyton as she wants to get inside her. She wants every part of her until they're bound together, always. She wants to burrow under Peyton's skin and live there forever.
Brooke stops at one picture. She reaches up and pulls it gently off the wall. She carries it to the bed where Peyton is waiting and sits down next to her. She's holding it so Peyton can see but she's looking at it still.
"That's how it feels, isn't?" Brooke says. Her voice is small, she's really just thinking out loud. "Kind of like your heart's exploding," Brooke continues. "Only it doesn't hurt."
The drawing is of two girls standing together. One with straight hair, one with curls. They're holding rifles aimed at a giant heart with the initials PS and BD. The barrels are smoking like the guns have just been fired. The heart has been shot but it's whole and intact; better for it.
When she looks up from the picture, Peyton is watching her. Brooke holds up the picture and watches back. "Can I have this?"
Peyton nods and drops her eyes back down to her lap where she's wringing her hands. Brooke reaches out and covers Peyton's hands with her own. Brooke thinks maybe there is another world. A better world. Where this just is. Well, there must be. Peyton's hand turns under Brooke's and she laces their fingers together. Brooke isn't surprised by how well they fit. Maybe Peyton is her way to this world. Brooke wants so badly to go there and get lost.
"You know I'm going to kiss you, don't you?"
Peyton looks up again and takes a deep breath. Then she nods again. Brooke's heart is pounding and blood is rushing past her ears until their lips meet. Then all she hears is Peyton's breathing. All she feels are Peyton's lips against hers, soft and warm as her hand. Then it's quiet and still and perfect.