AN: Hey! Yes your eyes don't deceive you, this is an actual update! I know I'm horrible, I know it's been insanely long since I last updated… I know you probably have forgotten this fic even exists… but there's not much I can do except say again how truly sorry I am.

The reason for the delay is pretty simple: writer's block. I don't need to elaborate on this, do I? I can't say I'm completely over it, so this chapter is actually a way to help me remember why I love writing this fic and hopefully get me my inspiration back. That's why this chapter is focused solely on a certain couple. I bet you can guess which couple that is… I hope you enjoy it, and this is another way of saying sorry.

A huge thanks to Cinthana who had to put up with my whining about not being able to get this right… and for helping me to finally get it right (as right as I can at least)! And thank you to Lindsay for also reading the different versions of this chapter and helping me steer it to the right direction!

Thanks to everyone that read and reviewed the last chapter! Since I've been writing this for so long it helps so much to know that people are still interested in seeing what's happening! So thank you to everyone that has been so patient with me!

Just to remind you where we are… at the party after the first game of the season, Rachel proposed a dare night and the gang agreed. So the three teams (BLF-RNH-JPS) went out separately to do three dares. The first dare was completed at the previous chapter and it left Felix on the Ferris wheel and Lucas and Brooke at the carnival.

And here we go… please read and review! Now that inspiration is kind of low I really need to hear your thoughts!

Chapter 27

A road that leads to…?

"Oh, my God! I still can't believe you did that!" Brooke exclaimed jumping up and down on her seven inch heels, and clapping her hands, making Lucas realize just how appropriate the nickname his best friend had given to her was.

He smiled at her somewhat shyly, and then turned his attention back to the fence they still had to climb over if they wanted to leave the carnival. He could still hear Felix screaming behind them, and that was just another reason for the smile etched on his face.

"I'd never thought you would do something like that!" Brooke gashed with a wide smile. "I mean, I didn't see you capable of something so…so…" She hesitated trying to find the right word.

"Brilliant?" Lucas filled in, smirking smugly.

"I was thinking more of the lines of sneaky and mean, and childish and…"

"Okay!" He stopped her raising his hands and giving her a fake pout.

Brooke giggled still in wonder of the boy standing next to her. She had to admit he had managed to amaze her once again. Sure, some would say that would he did was all the things she had just told him, but she was more inclined to agree with him. It was brilliant, and it made him look incredibly sexy! Which was so not what she should be thinking about at that time when it was just the two of them left alone out there.

"Really, Lucas, this was so… not you!" She anyway continued unable to mask her excitement.

"Who's the one putting the labels now?" Lucas asked teasingly.

Brooke's mouth fell open. He remembered? She shook her head. "It's not that, but I should have come up with this idea! Not you!"

"I'm full of surprises…" He trailed off turning again at the bars. The way she looked at him, with her eyes filled with excitement and something akin to admiration, made him incredibly happy. He wondered if her amazement would last when she realized where his actions had left them. And he wasn't talking about climbing over the fence, but to what awaited after that… or more to the point, what didn't wait. To be honest, he didn't take the time to really think through this, and kind of acted on the spur of the moment. He was really surprised Felix had actually fallen for it that easily. He hadn't even thought that this would mean he and Brooke would be left alone out there, but now that it'd happened he couldn't say he was complaining, especially since she seemed to be so happy about what he had done. Another thing that took him completely by surprise. To be honest, he was expecting her any minute now to start accusing him that he did all this just to get her alone. But first thing, first, and with Felix still yelling, they really needed to get out of there.

"C'mon," he motioned with his hand for her to come closer.

Brooke approached and looked at the fence with distain. "Here we go again," she muttered and then took a step back. "How are we going to do this without Felix?" She asked in slight panic.

"Yeah, well," Lucas looked back and forth between the fence and the beautiful girl. "I'll help you up, and then you'll wait for me to climb over and get you down. Okay?" He asked hesitantly.

"As long as I don't have that creep staring up my ass, it sounds great!" Brooke nodded thinking about Felix and his slimy hands that were trying to get all over her.

Lucas let out a relieved sigh. Maybe she would take the next part as happily as this. He approached the fence and joined his hands for Brooke to step on.

Brooke came close and again used the bars to lift herself up, stepping on his hands. While she was up she glanced down at him. "Are you staring?" She asked playfully, still caught up in the excitement that Lucas' little trick had caused her.

"What?! No! Of course not!" Lucas protested getting red and turning his eyes from her legs to her face.

"Because I wouldn't mind if you did," she whispered back with a slight shrug and a small smile, and turning her head around finally pulled herself all the way up. Sometimes she just couldn't help herself, and he just looked too cute when he was squirming.

"I…" Lucas mumbled surprised. What the hell, when did they come back to that? She used to be like that all the time when they first met and were trying to be friends, but after her and Nathan got together…

"Are you going to stand there all night?" She asked again trying to get steady lying along the long bar.

He just shook his head and quickly climbed over. This time Brooke managed to get her body around the other side without toppling over, and just hang with her hands gripping the top bar. She felt his warm hands gripping her waist gently but firmly, gracing the bare skin that was exposed between her skirt and top and hardly managed to disguise the sigh that escaped her lips. Letting go of her grip on the bars she let him lower her to the ground. She turned around to face him and realized just how close to him she had landed. Their eyes locked, and they stood there for a few seconds both saying nothing. Finally, Brooke smiled at him a little awkwardly mumbling something that she wished resembled a thank you. Not that he would actually make out anything she had said anyway, he was too engrossed in fighting the urge to take her back in his arms and keep her there forever. He noticed her walking to Felix's car and slowly trailed behind her. And then was when it hit her.

Swiveling backwards she stared at him with wide eyes. "Lucas?" She demanded.

Lucas grinned innocently. "I don't suppose you have his keys either, right?"

"I have the dares," Brooke yelled waving the envelopes in her hand around. "I even have his stupid cell! If you had let me in, in your little plan, I'm sure I would have been able to get his keys as well!" She fumed pacing in front of the locked car, like she had been doing for the past five minutes, the awkward moment and the excitement from before long forgotten.

"We've been drinking too much to be driving anyway," Lucas said with a shrug refusing stubbornly to admit that he hadn't thought about the car before then.

"Lucas! We're stranded! What do you suggest we do, fly out of here?" She snapped sarcastically.

"We can always walk?" He offered with another shrug.

"Are you kidding me?! We are miles away from anything!"

"Look, if you want we can just get him down, and then the princess won't have to walk a square!" He replied in an angry tone already fed up with the fit she was throwing.

"I don't want to get him down, Lucas! I'm just saying that you should have thought better about this!"

"Well, what do you want me to do now?!" He asked exasperated. He had tried to be the reasonable one, after all, it was mostly his fault they had lost their ride, not that he was going to admit that to Brooke, but enough was enough! So they didn't have a car anymore, he still couldn't see why she was making such a fuss about it!

"Argh! Why are you getting so defensive?!"

He just scowled in response and Brooke huffed.

"Look," he said with a sigh running his hand through his hair, a desperate attempt not to let her mood swings affect him. "We can walk to the mall. It's only a couple of miles from here. From there we can easily get a cab for our homes or Tim's."

"What about the dares?" Brooke interrupted.

"You still want to go through with that?" He asked in disbelief.

"Duh! I'm not giving up and let Rach-ho win!"

"What's up with the two of you anyway?" He asked genuinely interested.

"She's a skank!"

"How mature…" Lucas piped in sarcastically. "C'mon, there must be a reason you hate each other."

Brooke raised an eyebrow. "Like you have a reason for hating Felix?"

"He's an ass!" Lucas protested and then realizing that he sounded exactly like Brooke, shook his head. She was grinning in victory. "Touché, Davis," he relented.

Brooke sighed and looked at the dark road ahead of them. She then glanced down to the envelopes in her hands. "Can I at least take a peek?"

"Go ahead," Lucas prodded and walked closer to her pointing his flashlight to her hands.

Brooke smiled excitedly and opened the second envelope. "What?!" She shrieked startling Lucas.

"What does it say?"

"Okay, we're so done with these dares…" She replied shaking her head and hastily shoving the paper back into the envelope.

"Brooke?" Lucas asked curiously.

"It doesn't matter, we can't do it; we should just go home…"

"Okay, now I really want to know what that dare says," Lucas repeated shaking his head.

"It's not important, we have no car and—Hey!" She was cut off by Lucas snatching the envelope out of her hands. "Lucas!" She whined stomping her foot down again and reaching out to get the envelope back.

"Just let me read this," Lucas protested with laughter raising his hands above his head so that Brooke couldn't reach them. Her reaction was making him really curious. And he wouldn't complain about her attempts to get the envelope back that had her almost jumping at him, either.

"Argh! Fine! But I'm telling you now, there is no way in hell I'm doing it!" She relented stubbornly stepping away from him. She hated giving up so easily, but as she reached to get the envelope out of his raised hands she noticed how close to his body that had brought her. His scent that had managed to become so familiar to her in such a short amount of time engulfed her and her only option was to step back.

"Hm…" Lucas mumbled in thought obviously not convinced by the way she had given up so easily and a little disappointed, he might as well admit it. Making sure she was not going to try anything again, he carefully pulled the dare out of the envelope again. He quickly skimmed through it and raised a surprised head up to face Brooke. "How the fuck does he come up with these things?" He wondered.

"He's one sick creep!" Brooke replied relieved that Lucas seemed to agree with her decision not to go through with the dare.

"I wouldn't go that far," Lucas objected. "It sounds kind of fun, actually," he smiled in amusement recalling her earlier words about the first dare.

Brooke looked at him in disbelief. "Fun? Kissing a snake is your idea of fun?"

"It doesn't say I have to kiss a snake," Lucas corrected while his grin only grew wider.

Brooke frowned. "Yeah, well, the girls on your team are in no way kissing any snakes tonight!"

"Scared?" Lucas asked raising an eyebrow in challenge.

"I'm not scared!" Brooke denied fervently. "But it's…yack… a snake, like really gross and slimy and…" She paused with a disgusted grimace and then her mouth twitched in a smile. "Hey, if Felix would have been here we could go through with that dare in no time!"


"I could kiss him?" Brooke giggled, and Lucas laughed out loud. "Maybe he had that in his mind all along…" She continued sounding serious and Lucas could only laugh louder seeing her. "But now that he isn't here…well, whatever. So we're walking to the mall?"

"I really see no other choice, Brooke. C'mon, it's not that far away, we'll be there before you know it," he encouraged her.

"Easy for you to say! You're not the one that will have to walk on these heels!" She whined exaggeratedly.

"Oh, c'mon, you're a tough girl, I'm sure you can handle it," Lucas said with a smile and taking a few steps forward stopped to turn back and look at Brooke expectantly.

Brooke let out a miserable sigh and followed him. When she reached him he smiled at her again.

"Suck up," Brooke muttered begrudgingly, but Lucas only laughed as the two made their way along the dark road.

The road, if someone was kind enough to call it that, was a dirt road full of huge rocks and holes, Brooke had to be careful to avoid at each step. The streetlights were rare and didn't really do a great job in lighting their way. They actually had to use the flashlights occasionally, but Lucas cautioned her to limit their use, because the batteries were about to run out. Freaking awesome! Anything else that might go wrong? So to sum it up, it was dark and awfully quiet and just plain deserted, not her ideal setting, not her ideal setting at all. And those were only the least of her problems.

Brooke was actually partly thankful for the dreadful condition of the road since it kept her distracted and prevented her from thinking about the other aspect of her predicament: walking on an empty dark road, miles from everywhere and everyone (yeah, ok, she tended to be a tad dramatic) with Lucas Scott of all people. As soon as she realized that abandoning Felix on the Ferris wheel, as fun as it was, had left the two of them alone, she felt her nerves getting the better of her again, and all the excitement evaporated. She couldn't help but think about the last time the two of them had found themselves alone. And what had happened then? They had kissed. Actually, he had kissed her, but it was not like she actually fought him against it. Quite the contrary. The problem was she knew that had he tried again, she wouldn't have the strength or will to fight him this time either, no matter how much she had tried to convince herself for the opposite. But the thing was, she didn't really think he would try again, not the way he had been avoiding her the whole week. And her biggest problem lied in the immense sadness that realization brought her.

They hadn't said another word after she agreed with him to walk to the mall, and the best word to describe their little moonlight stroll would be awkward. They were even avoiding looking at each other. She wondered if she should break the silence or not. Judging by their past history, silence was probably the best option.

"Are you sure this is the right way?" She asked anyway looking ahead of them where she wished for any kind of light, but was only met by more darkness.

"Yeah, don't you remember, this is the road we followed to get here," Lucas responded turning to glance at her briefly.

Brooke shrugged still keeping her eyes on the road ahead of them. She hadn't been paying much attention to their surroundings when they were driving there. Her thoughts were, no surprise here, consumed by a certain blond blue-eyed boy that at the time at least was once again mad at her. Her thoughts were now again on the same boy, except from the attention she had to pay to where she was walking if she didn't want to fall flat on her face. She took a quick look around her and again affirmed that their surroundings were at best intimidating. Brooke was more of a city girl, walking in the darkness amidst fields and abandoned yards was not her cup of tea. She wasn't scared though, and the reason was him again. Everything seemed to come back to him. Just his presence made her feel safe. Even when they weren't talking, just feeling him next to her and the occasional brush of their hands, which sent a swarm of butterflies fluttering in her stomach, had a calming effect on her. Weird, if you considered how nervous it also made her.

Lucas waited for her to say something more, but when after a few seconds nothing came and she seemed to concentrate back on keeping her balance, he also returned to his own thoughts. He had contemplated offering her his help walking, because of the condition of the road, but he had changed his mind. She would probably turn it down, claiming she was doing fine by herself, and he was sick of being turned down by her. He had also contemplated talking to her. He had been the one avoiding her, sure, but that didn't mean he actually wanted to. She was the one that forced him with her behavior. He had so many questions to ask her, but he was one hundred percent certain that if he tried, the only thing he would accomplish would be her running away from him. Even though he could see she was slightly apprehensive of their surroundings, he would bet she wouldn't hesitate a moment to run alone in the darkness if he cornered her. So he stayed silent, just enjoying being there with her.

Venturing a side glance at his face, Brooke wondered what he could be thinking about. Was he happy like her that they had this chance to spend some time together even if it was under these weird conditions? Because she had to admit, despite her fears and the loads of apprehension what she mostly felt was happy to just be there walking with him. At least she got to spend some time together with him, and he didn't act like her mere presence made him disgusted. He had smiled and laughed with her, and Brooke had longed for that the last week so much. He was looking straight ahead now, and his face was partly covered by the shadows of the flickering street light, but he seemed deeply concentrated on something.

"It's so dark…" She mumbled looking around her.

Lucas took a look around and noticed that she was right; the streetlights were even more far apart where they were walking now.

"It's okay," he reassured her. "Are you scared?" He asked worried noticing how she had wrapped her arms around herself.

"No…" Brooke replied not that convincingly. She was scared, scared of the way he was making her feel when he did absolutely nothing at all, just by being there next to her. Of how she imagined herself always walking next to him. Being there alone with him in the darkness was the perfect setting to let herself get lost in dangerous illusions. Like, that there was just the two of them, and that none of the things, of the people, that prevented her from giving in to what she wanted actually existed.

"You know, we can call someone to come and pick us up?" He suggested.

"Oh! Of course! How stupid! How come we didn't think of it any sooner?" She asked mostly herself, but then realized that this would only mean their little stroll would be over. And it was not like she was having the time of her life, but she doubted she would be given the chance to spend any time with him again any time soon.

"Erm… it would be a little difficult to explain exactly where we are, of course. And they will wonder where Felix is," Lucas also struggled to find any excuse possible. Sure, if she was really scared he didn't want them to stay there, but on the other hand, this was the closest he had been with her in ages!

"Plus, most of our friends are wasted in the party, so…" Brooke agreed with him.

"So we keep going?" He asked and berated himself for the hopefulness that was obvious through his voice.

"Sure, I mean we're bound to be getting near, right?"

Lucas nodded and they just kept walking in silence again.

He had to thank Felix if he had anything to do with how the teams were assigned, in the first place. If only he had known he would end up stranded on a Ferris wheel. Lucas surprised even himself when he decided to let Felix up there. It wasn't like Felix would be harmed in any way he had reasoned with himself, only after they had left the carnival behind them. The chance that cops would show up was highly unlike, and even if they did, Felix had in times gotten himself into much worse trouble and his dad was able to bail him out. So it was just a harmless joke, a prank. Nathan had done similar things countless times, but Lucas always prided himself as being more level-headed. And he could blame Felix's annoying behavior all he wanted, but he knew that any other time he would just ignore Felix's comments no matter how much they bugged him. But the girl walking next to him now had changed all that. To watch Felix flirt with Brooke, even if she was rebuking all his efforts was unbearable. Almost as bad as watching her making out with Nathan. It just didn't look right. The only person he could imagine being right to flirt with her, kiss her, be with her was…

"Do you think we should call someone to come and pick Felix up?" He asked after they had taken a few more steps deciding to give it a shot. He usually had no problems with silence, but silence left room for lots of thinking and dreaming… and fantasizing…and he really shouldn't let himself do any of that when the object of his fantasies was so close within his reach. Plus, he had missed talking to her, and the little time they had spent at the carnival had only reminded him of how much he used to enjoy it. So after hesitating for a while, he decided to try and start up some kind of conversation. He imagined Felix was a safe enough topic for both of them.

"Nah, not yet. Maybe after we get to the mall. We don't want him to catch up with us before that."

"Hm…yeah, you're right," he agreed.

"Who are you going to call?" Brooke asked.

"Oh, I was thinking of calling Anna."

"Yeah, I guess his sister would be forced to come and get him. They are family after all," Brooke giggled.

Lucas smiled and the silence returned as she turned her head forward again. So much for that topic, he thought again dejectedly. She obviously had no intention of talking to him.

"What do you think the others are doing now? How far do you think they have gotten?" Brooke asked turning to him and biting her lip nervously.

She had been thinking about talking to him for a while now, but couldn't come up with anything to say. With so many topics she needed to avoid, there wasn't much left, was there? When he asked about Felix, he had taken her by surprise, because she honestly thought that he didn't want anything to do with her or that he was just tired of her contradictive behavior. She would be in his place, not that Lucas himself was an open book. He was equally frustrating as her at times. But when she found herself unable to find something to continue the conversation she had silently kicked herself. She just wanted them to get back to how they were in the carnival, some friendly talk was better than this tense filled silence she had tried to convince herself.

"Oh, uh…" Lucas stuttered completely shocked she seemed willing to start another conversation and then silently cursed himself. What was the big deal? She was probably just bored and wanted to talk to pass the time, which was fine with him. All he wanted to do was talk to her, this week he had even missed the sound of her voice. How pathetically love sick, was he? So after ordering his self to get it together already, he took a look at his wrist watch. "It's been more than an hour, so if nothing has gone terribly wrong, I'd say they're probably in the middle of the second dare."

"I wonder what they were supposed to do…" She said turning her attention back to the road.

"Who knows?" Lucas shrugged, "I have no idea what else Felix could have come up with."

Brooke nodded, but kept her eyes in front of her. She saw another subject dying down and almost screamed in frustration.

"I keep thinking how Hales is coping," he said with a chuckle pleasantly surprising Brooke.

"Oh God, yes! I thought she was going to kill me when she got on Rachel's team!" She giggled remembering Haley's reaction.

"Yeah, she's not her favorite person," Lucas nodded with a smile. "And I could have said the same thing about you just a few days ago, but… what the hell happened?" He asked turning to look at Brooke curiously, but with a warm smile still adorning his face.

Brooke laughed taking a quick glance at his handsome face. God, she had missed that smile so much. "What do you mean?" She asked feigning ignorance. "Nothing happened."

"Uh-huh, one day she thinks you're…" Lucas paused unsure of what to say.

"A manipulative brainless slut?" Brooke provided in question.

"No! I wasn't going to say that! She never said that!" He protested mentally slapping himself, the last thing he wanted was to screw up things with Brooke and Haley with his big mouth now that they've finally seemed to get along. He had done that enough already with all the lies he had told Haley about his meeting with Brooke.

"It's alright, Lucas, I know what Haley thought about me; she made it more than clear. But, let's say she had a change of heart," she stated with a reassuring smile.

He let out a quiet sigh in relief. "I can see she had a change of heart. What I'm asking you is what brought that change of heart?"

"Shouldn't you be asking her that?" Brooke replied not willing to talk about what Haley had heard and made her change her mind. She still didn't understand why that had made such an impression on Haley.

"I guess," Lucas agreed looking at her curiously not understanding why she wouldn't say. "What about you, then?"

"What about me?"

"Well, you knew how she felt about you, why did you forgive her so easily?" He questioned.

Brooke stopped walking and looked at him confused. "Forgive her?"

Lucas looked as confused as Brooke. "You said she thought you were a…" He shook his head not wanting to repeat Brooke's words. "She had hastily judged you, quite unfairly," he finally managed.

Brooke smiled sadly. "Ninety-nine percent of the kids in the school think the same things about me. Haley was one of the honest ones that didn't pretend to like me despite of them. Why would I hold that against her?"

Lucas nodded in understanding. "She was also smart enough to give you a chance," he continued with a smile.

Brooke smiled as well. "She is smart, she's very smart."

"I always knew you liked her," Lucas said knowingly.

Brooke looked down a bit embarrassed.

"And I knew she was going to like you too, if she'd only give you a chance."

"Lucas Scott knows just about everything right?" She asked back teasingly.

"No," he said with a chuckle, "but I do know Haley."

Brooke agreed silently with a smile, but Lucas went on. "And I think I know you," he finished with a quiet voice.

Brooke lowered her eyes. "You only think that you do…" She answered back quietly.

Lucas expected that answer, but he expected for it to come out more defiantly or more challengingly. Instead, it was hesitant and sad and it only peaked his interest, but he didn't know how to protest or even if he would be right to.

"You, and Haley and probably Nathan, you all think that you know me and that I'm different from what people think," Brooke continued not really surprising herself that much. It was fast becoming a habit, every time she talked to him, that desire to just spill her guts was just overwhelming. She did feel somewhat guilty when all the people she just met seemed to think so highly of her. They had no idea who she was and they would only see her like Rachel or worse if they knew half the things she had done, and sadly, continued to do.

"You are," Lucas insisted with a smile that turned into a frown when Brooke shook her head no.

"I'm not, Lucas," she smiled looking straight ahead of her. "You didn't know me back when I was here, but you've heard the rumors, right?"

"I don't listen to rumors."

"Well, you should," Brooke said softly. "I've done most of the things they say I did. And you all have no idea of the things I did in California, not even Peyton knows some of those things."

Lucas swallowed hard. He was not sure how to respond to that. He knew some of the things he'd heard were probably true, and Brooke never tried to deny any of them. Still, not that they didn't matter to him, he would be lying if he said that, but the girl he had met, she was different from the girl everybody described and different from the girl she seemed to believe she was.

"Okay," he agreed instead with a nod.

Brooke looked at him curiously. She wondered what that meant, probably that he just felt even more disappointed and repulsed by her. "If you did know," she started.

It was just like she was forcing him to admit something, he thought. He wasn't sure what that was but he didn't like it, so he decided to stop her. "It wouldn't matter," he said firmly.

Brooke chuckled bitterly. "How can you say that?"

"Okay, look," he said taking a deep breath to gather his thoughts. "You're saying you did some pretty bad things, okay, I believe you. And I'm asking you this, when you met me, when you met Haley and Nathan, were you pretending? Are you pretending now?"

Brooke bit her lip and looked down guiltily. Was he seriously asking that when a few nights ago it was exactly what he had accused her of doing?

"No!" Lucas interrupted her thoughts when he realized what she might be thinking. "Forget about Nathan, or Haley. I didn't mean… that!" He fumbled for the right words. "When you met me, when you are with me, are you pretending to be someone that you're not?"

Brooke looked into his blue eyes that were reflecting the dim streetlights. "No…you know I wasn't. I'm not," she whispered hesitantly.

"I do," he nodded, "and now you understand why it wouldn't matter, Brooke? I'm not in that ninety nine percent. I'm not pretending either, you know that right?"

"I do," she replied shakily before starting to walk again.

After that last conversation, they both could fill the air around them grow even tenser than before if that was even possible.

"Okay, we should have seen the mall by now, right?" Brooke asked after a few minutes. Walking with him was no longer calming. Why did he have to say the things he did? Why did he have to sound so true and sincere? She never got that from anyone else. On some level, she knew everybody pretended around each other. Relationships were built on false pretenses. Even with Peyton, she pretended to be the strong one, always. She pretended to not care about what anyone thought or felt about her, like nothing could touch her, and Peyton, well, Peyton just pretended to believe her. It worked better for both of them. But not Lucas. He had that ability to shake her to the core by just saying the simplest things and making pretending around him almost impossible. And that's why she couldn't afford being around him.

"I think it's just behind that hill," Lucas pointed to the distance ahead of them. He guessed that she would take his earlier comment the wrong way, but he had really meant it. And he wanted her to know that he meant it. So he had taken the risk, and thankfully she hadn't run away. But he assumed she wasn't too keen on spending more time with him either.

"You just think? Aren't you sure?!" Brooke snapped letting the frustration from her own feelings find its escape at Lucas. Plus, okay, he was there and made her feel safe and all, but it was still dark and it was starting to feel a bit cold, and her feet were hurting, and she was sure she could hear some not so friendly dogs hollowing behind them.

Lucas only chuckled. "I'm sure. Don't worry, I didn't get us lost."

"Hm… would you tell me if we were lost?" She asked challengingly.

"Of course, I would. It's not like you're scared, right?" He teased her.

"Right," Brooke mumbled.

"Just a little longer, I promise," he assured her trying to suppress his laughter.

"Okay," Brooke nodded. "Okay," she repeated trying to ignore the dogs' hollowing behind them that seemed to have grown louder.

Lucas chuckled again. "They're just dogs."

"I know that!" Brooke snapped and then furrowing her brows a little she turned to him quietly. "Do you think they're close?"

"You're not afraid of some little dogs, are you? I mean, you are not even afraid of snakes, so…"

"I was just asking," Brooke muttered stubbornly.

"There, you see? That's the mall," Lucas said pointing ahead of them to a concentration of bright lights.

"Thank, God!" Brooke sighed in relief, and Lucas laughed following her as she almost ran to the lights, magically forgetting both her high heels and the dreadful road.

They were finally reaching the mall, and Brooke was more than happy. But at the same time immensely sad. Their night together was coming to an end, and she didn't know if she should feel relieved or disappointed.

"So… it seems Rachel's going to win after all," Lucas said with mock regret. He on the other hand was sure that he felt nothing but disappointment that their night seemed to be coming to an end so soon, so he decided he might as well try. Brooke was stubborn and hated losing, especially if it was losing to Rachel, so why not?

"No! I mean, don't you think Peyton and the guys might beat them?"

"If I had to bet, I would place my money on Nate and Rachel," he said indifferently.


"Besides, even if Peyton and the others beat Rachel, she still would have beaten us…" He trailed off thoughtfully watching as Brooke seemed to bite the bait.

Brooke chewed her lip furiously. "But kissing a snake?"

"Hey, I understand, it sounds scary and…" He said in fake sympathy.

"I'm not scared! Just grossed out! I mean… it would be like…eww! Besides, where would we find a snake, anyway? Remember, Felix is still on the Ferris wheel."

"We're at the mall, I'm sure there's bound to be a pet shop with snakes in there…"

"You think?"

"Sure, you must know? I mean you are the one that hangs out there all the time."

"I do not hang out there, all the time!" Brooke objected indignantly. "Besides, even when I do, pet shops aren't exactly the places I look for! Now, if you wanted to know where you could find the best shoes or the best sales on the cutest clothes you've ever seen! Like that other day, Peyton wanted a new top, but she said she was kinda low in money, and I swear I had like a hunch we would find the cutest tops in Juicy's and on the best prices, and Peyton insisted she couldn't afford them, but I knew they were on sale. And of course I was right! And she got two of them, and well, I bought a few for myself," she said all in one breath.

"I see," Lucas chuckled amused. "Well, I'm sure it will be easy enough to find a pet shop, if we were going to go through with the dare, which we aren't."

"Damn it, Luke! I so can't let Rachel win this thing!" Brooke pouted.

"Yeah, but I mean, kissing a snake?" Lucas asked again feigning a disgusted face.

"Well, I've kissed worse…" Brooke said with a slight cringe remembering her past hook ups. Some of them might even make snakes look attractive.

Lucas frowned biting back the questions in his head. What did she mean exactly? She couldn't be referring to him could she? No, he shook the thought out of his head quickly. She must have been talking about her past hook ups. Only that thought made him frown even more. Just how many were those? Shit, he just couldn't think of her kissing anyone but him.

Brooke didn't notice his expression and just kept talking. "Just that I was really really drunk then and… that's it!" She exclaimed the last part giddily.

"Huh? What?" He asked confused only having paid half attention to her monologue.

"You, my friend, are getting me wasted!" Brooke exclaimed in triumph.

"It really says a lot about us that we carry our fake ids with us all the time…" Lucas trailed off taking a swig of his beer and taking another look at their dreary surroundings. The bartender, a big guy around his forties with a t-shirt Brooke had sworn he must have been wearing for at least a month without washing, had shocked him when he actually asked for their ids. Of course he barely glanced at them before shoving the beers they requested in front of their faces, and then their second ones and so on.

They had resorted to that shady bar, almost adjacent to the mall's parking lot. Now that he took a moment to observe it, because since they got there, he was too busy staring at his stunning companion to notice anything else around him, it looked as bad at the inside as it did at the outside. No wonder he had never noticed its existence before tonight. The upside was that it was almost empty. Either it was still too early for its usual crowd or this was its usual crowd, which would be really pathetic, and he had to wonder how it still worked if that was the case, probably because any of the regulars there drunk like a dozen normal people would. But then again, it was lucky for him that the bar was nearly empty, because he was already having trouble stomaching the way the few washouts who were there were gawking at Brooke. She was after all the only girl present. And what a girl she was…

"Always prepared," Brooke giggled.

"What, you've been to girl scouts or something?"

Brooke just giggled again, and Lucas shook his head. So here he was in a shady almost empty bar he would have never considered stepping into before, getting Brooke drunk and getting drunk in the process himself. What the fuck were they doing? And why the hell had he agreed to it? Didn't he know how this would probably end? Why was he actually anticipating for that end so much though he knew all too well how wrong that was?

Brooke had relaxed after the first beer, after all she had already consumed more than enough alcohol at the party, and Lucas found himself relaxing as well. She started talking non-stop about this and that, and all he did was sit and stare at her. Every now and then she would actually give him the opportunity to say something back, but he didn't really care if she let him get a word out or not. He was just content to be there watching and listening. The way she threw her head back when she laughed, the sound of that laughter that brought a smile to his own face every time, even if he didn't find anything funny in what made her laugh. Her mesmerizing eyes that were sparkling probably because of the alcohol but also the excitement she showed when she talked about the things she liked, such as Brad Pitt's new movie or Britney's new song. Her dimples that he had missed so much since she seemed determined to hide them around him and were now in full display and her raspy voice that filled the air. The hell with wrong and right, he would enjoy this night and whatever came from it.

"What do you think the others are doing now?" Brooke asked as she noticed he had become thoughtful again. Broody. She smiled to herself, even drunk he managed to brood, go figure. Did he ever really let go? She on the other hand… She realized what she had gotten herself into, just after she had proposed going to the bar she had spotted. And she still had to wonder what possessed her to suggest this particular bar. It was yucky and gross… probably fitting with the theme of their dare she mused. And usually she would be complaining non stop about being in a place like that, or more like it she wouldn't be caught dead in a place like that, but somehow that night it didn't really matter. She was sure that when she looked back she would only have nice things to say about the place. Was she losing her mind or what?

Anyhow, at first Lucas had protested a bit, saying that they were already drunk enough, but she had managed to convince him, those darn puppy dog eyes worked every single time, not that he needed that much convincing. As for her, she had stopped questioning herself on why she did the things she did anymore. Truth was she already knew. She knew why she had made Nathan convince Lucas to come to the party and it had nothing to do with Peyton. She knew why she had agreed on not calling anyone to pick them up, or why she had let him convince her to going through with the dares and she knew why she was here in this shame for a bar getting drunk. It was because she wanted to be near him and that desire was so strong she couldn't stop herself, damn the consequences. Although she managed to still be lying to herself assuring herself time after time again that there would be no consequences. Just two friends, having fun, playing a game.

"Well, I'm sure they're not at some bar getting wasted," Lucas replied sarcastically.

"If they had to kiss a snake they would," she giggled again and then her eyes fell on the envelope with the third dare which was temptingly laid on the bar just next to her beer. "What do you think the third dare is?" She asked innocently taking the envelope in her hands and flipping it around.

"We are not opening the envelope, Brooke," Lucas replied firmly.

"But why?" She whined widening her eyes in protest as she slumped the envelope back on the bar.

"Because it would be cheating?" Lucas asked bemused with her childlike behavior.

"The rules are that we do the dares in the correct order. We didn't say anything about not reading them before!"

Lucas seemed thoughtful for a second. "Why would they be in separate envelopes if we were meant to read them all at once?"

Brooke huffed. If she hadn't had the last couple of beers she would probably repeat the reason Felix himself had given them, so no one could accuse him of setting everything up, but as the case was, she did had the last couple of beers. "Why are you so determined to play by the rules Rachel and Felix set?"

Lucas scoffed. Why was he? He didn't know for sure, but then shook his head. "Nope, not gonna work!" He smirked.

"Party pooper! You're just insisting because you know I'm dying to read it, and you want to torture me!" Brooke said and of course pouted and turned to face away from him.

Lucas chuckled. "Mhmm… and is it working?"

"No!" Brooke denied, as she turned back to look at Lucas, the pout on her face totally contradicting her statement.

"If we had read the second dare, before doing the first, would you still go through with it?" He asked.

"Of course! Well, probably. I don't really know…" She raised her shoulders feeling confused. Perhaps taking another sip from her beer would help her clear her head.

"See… and then we would miss out on the chance of seeing Felix stuck on the Ferris wheel!" Lucas explained feeling proud of himself that he managed to deliver a reasonable explanation despite the fogginess in his head. The beers he had consumed were bad enough, add the girl who was sitting next to him, and he was beyond intoxicated by then.

"He did look funny! I mean his face was…!" Brooke giggled remembering Felix's both furious and terrified expression as well as his hysterical yelling when he realized what Lucas had done.

"And that's why we're not reading the third dare. Because I have to see your face when you're kissing that snake," he responded with a smirk.

"Lucas!" Brooke swatted his arm.

"And just to be on the safe side…" Lucas quickly grabbed the envelope and getting up from his stool shoved it in his back pocket and then almost fell back onto the stool.

Brooke gasped. "I told you I wouldn't read it if you didn't want me to! I can't believe you don't trust me!" She said in mock shock.

Lucas just raised an eyebrow.

"Okay…I wouldn't trust me either," Brooke giggled. "I guess I'm not that…erm…what's the word?"


"Possibly…" Brooke shrugged and took another sip of her beer. The last one she noticed with disappointment.

"You think you've had enough, yet?" Lucas asked, as he watched her emptying her glass.

"Enough to kiss Felix? Maybe. Enough to kiss a real life snake? Not even close!"

"Yeah, well, it will have to do, because there is always the third dare we need to think about, and I can't have you totally plastered by then."

"It's not like you're doing so much better yourself, mister…Don't think I didn't notice," she said trying to point her finger at him, but it slightly swayed left and then right, ending up pointing at a bald guy behind them.

"All the more reason for us to stop," he said grabbing her hand that was dangerously close to his face now, and bringing it down to rest on the counter letting his own hand rest above it.

Brooke looked startled at his hand on top of hers but made no move to retract it.

"I don't wanna leave yet…" She murmured still looking at their hands.

"I know, me neither," he said softly looking at her intently his eyes looking darker than usual while he draw light circles with his thump on her palm.

Brooke felt her heart beat hard against her chest and realized their faces were slowly inching closer to each other. She abruptly pulled back, pulling her hand away from his as well. Lucas opened his mouth to say something but she caught him too it.

"One last beer?" She asked pleadingly.

Against his better judgment, Lucas nodded reluctantly letting out a resigned sigh. He really did need another beer himself.

That last beer worked its wonders and they were laughing again in no time, as Brooke told Lucas stories from LA and some of the wild dares she had done there on various games.

"So in the end, we actually won because the other team didn't manage to break in the principle's office, while I had the keys for our coach's office," she grinned in triumph. "You should have seen their faces," she giggled, again.

Lucas chuckled loudly. "Crazy girl…you and your dares. Wow, wait a sec! We really need to get out of here. We have our own dares to complete!"

"Lukeee…" Brooke whined still not willing to leave and a little pissed he seemed so eager to go. Despite some awkward moments, they were finally having fun or at least she was.

"Oh, no, you don't! C'mon, get up! We're wasting time, and Rachel is winning!" It was not that he actually wanted them to go, or that he cared if Rachel actually did win. But her giggling was getting way out of hand and with him finding the stale tasting beer better and better after each swig he took, he knew it was about time they got out of there.

The name Rachel seemed to do the trick, disillusioning Brooke from her forgetful phase. "Fuck! I forgot all about that bitch!" She said almost jumping from her stool, and if Lucas wasn't quick enough to steady her, she would have probably landed on the sticky floor.

"Easy there!" He exclaimed. "God, did you really have this much to drink?"

She was of course just giggling again and pushing his hands away she made her way stumbling to the door.

"Oh boy," Lucas muttered shaking his head as he followed after her, almost tripping over two tables himself. It wasn't his fault that they put them right in his way!