Author's Note: WOW, I'm so so so sorry it took me so long to write this. I had major writer's block, but this chapter kind of opened up my eyes as to how much I really like this story. It's so different and AU, and I just love writing it. I loved a lot of the reviews I got, especially the ones that got really in depth. And yeah, enjoy. I'll try to get the next update out much sooner, I promise.

Chapter Seven: Forget The World
If I lay here, if I just lay here,
Would you lie with me, and just forget the world?
We'll do it all, Everything
On our own

-- Snow Patrol, Chasing Cars

"No way!" Unconsciously, Haley reached up to pull her hair into a messy pony-tail, her eyes staying focused on Nathan as he told her his story.

"Yeah, I mean, I was up all night. My mom was so pissed. She kept saying that she couldn't believe my dad would elbow his own son, and I guess Karen was so mad that she took Lucas home for the night, even though it was his weekend at our house.." Nathan's used his hands, she noticed, when he spoke. Depending on what he was saying, his gestures would often get less or more intense. "..Then he told her that he'd apologized to Lucas after the game because it was, you know, heat of the moment or whatever, and he still ended up sleeping on the couch."

"Ouch," Haley chuckled softly, and he did the same. It was funny how his parents fighting didn't really seem to phase him. If her own parents were to argue, it would certainly be a big deal. Jimmy and Lydia James rarely fought, and if they did, the fights were never too heated.

He shrugged. "He'll be back in his own bed tonight. Mom never kicks him out for more than a night. Plus, he's done a lot worse than elbow Lucas."

"Really?"

"Well, I mean not a lot worse, but he's done this before. The last Father-Son basketball game was a disaster."

The tutoring center was buzzing softly, due to the fact that today, they were not the only people inside it. A few other tables were occupied, and Nathan was slightly embarrassed by it.

"So," Haley said after a moment of silence had passed. "What'd you do last night?"

Nathan hesitated, but could not manage to stifle the smile that began to reach the corner of his lips. "I.. hung out with Peyton. We, um, I don't know." He was blushing furiously.

Haley resisted the urge to roll her eyes. Or maybe cry. She couldn't help but feel disappointed. And truthfully, she wanted so bad not to like Nathan. It was just that the more time she spent with him, the more she liked him. Maybe this whole tutoring thing wasn't the best idea. Instead of telling Nathan her thoughts, she said, "That's cool. Are you two together now?"

"No," he shrugged.

"Are you like, together but not official?"

"I don't know-- uh, no, I guess." Suddenly he had closed up. It seemed he no longer wanted to discuss it, and she figured it was because he really didn't know where he and Peyton stood.

She assumed it'd be up to her to break the silence. She racked her brain for conversation starters, when an image of Lucas suddenly popped into her mind. "Oh my God, I forgot to tell you," She began, and she knew she'd gotten his attention when he looked up in interest. "Guess who my partner is in English, for this project we're doing?"

"I give up." He made a face.

"Your brother!"

"My-- Lucas?" The expression on his face nearly caused her to laugh. He seemed extremely shocked. Like this was the last name he'd been expecting to hear.

"Yeah. It's weird, but we have a lot of the same interests."

Nathan sighed. "Yeah, that is weird."

"Who would have known. Haley James, tutor and star basketball player of the Tree Hill Ravens, Lucas Scott actually have quite a bit in common?" She joked, and he laughed, but it was hollow.

---

The two girls, so intensely different in looks, but both gorgeous in their own way, sat facing each other, legs stretched out in front of them. Whenever the cheerleaders stretched, Brooke and Peyton were always without fail partners. It had been that way since they'd begun cheering together years before.

As they stretched, the girls also talked. At the moment, they were speaking of something that others were most likely speaking of as well: Dan Scott's annual charity league party for the Tree Hill Ravens. Though it was mainly an excuse for people to suck up to him, everyone always went. It was simply tradition. Plus, Brooke and Peyton usually managed to enjoy themselves.

Peyton bit her lip, stretching her arm over her head. "I'll probably pick you up at like, five. Or four-thirty. Depends--"

"Wait," Brooke frowned. "Aren't we getting ready together?"

"Oh, do you want to?"

"Um," it wasn't like it was some big surprise. "We do it every year."

Peyton shrugged. "Right. Sorry. My mind is totally somewhere else today."

The moment landed the two friends in an awkward moment, something that rarely happened between them. Brooke felt suddenly uncomfortable, and found herself needed to say something to break this silence.

"So, do you think Nathan will be there?"

"I don't know, it is his house." Her answer was so clipped, dripping with such annoyance. She seemed so disturbed by Brooke suddenly, and this frightened the Davis girl intensely.

Instantly, she dropped it.

She always did. If Peyton seemed annoyed with her, really, really annoyed, Brooke would end the conversation. She knew she was lucky to have a friend like Peyton. A real one. She wouldn't risk that just so she could get the answers she wanted or sometimes needed. Peyton could leave in a second, and Brooke was fully aware. In fact, it was one of the things that she worried about most.

Everyone in her life had always left. Whether it be her parents, or boys, Brooke had never had someone that had stayed. Except for Peyton. So if keeping her meant not pressing issues she should not press, she wouldn't press.

Popularity could be gone from her in moments. People could turn their backs on her. The one person she counted on not to do this was Peyton, and still, she was so afraid that their friendship would not always be there.

Behind all the makeup and smiles, Brooke Davis was terrified.

---

"This is going to be hard," Haley exhaled as she looked over the 'Project Description' sheet that she and Lucas had been given.

Lucas nodded. "Well, we're definitely going to have to meet up out of school sometimes. Fifty-five minutes isn't long enough for us to fully develop this."

She found herself surprised, still, at Lucas' wit. He was definitely not a brainless jock. He was probably even smarter than her. He read for pleasure. She'd never met a person at this high school that did that. And while she sometimes found herself enjoying a good book, she read mostly so she could get educated, not for actual enjoyment. She found herself wondering how many of his friends knew this little tidbit about him.

"How about this weekend?" She suggested after a moment, noticing that she'd gone too long without speaking, so indulged in her own crazy mind.

He made a face. "Actually, this weekend isn't good for me. My dad's hosting his annual kiss-his-ass party."

"Sounds," she crinkled her nose, "really disgusting."

"Yeah. It's supposed to be this charity basketball league thing. Not a big deal. But my presence is still required." Lucas shrugged, taking a moment to look at the clock. Only eight minutes were left in the class.

"Sucks," and before she could stop herself: "Will Nathan be there?"

"How do you know Nathan?" He looked at her, genuinely interested.

Where to begin? Should she start with the fact that she liked him or that they often talked about his relationship with Peyton, therapy-style? "I tutor him."

"Oh," He nodded with a smile. "Yeah, he has to go. Forced every year against his will."

Silently, she wondered why Nathan had not invited her. Had it been because he was inviting Peyton? She-- no, she would not allow herself to do this. Nathan and her were acquaintances merely brought together by the fact that she was tutoring him. Of course he wouldn't invite her. He wouldn't invite her to anything. She didn't mean anything to him. If it came down to it, and he had to choose between being friends with her or Peyton, she knew he'd pick Peyton. No hesitation.

"You should come." Lucas suggested it casually, clearly addressing her as a friend.

She nearly burst out laughing. Lucas considered her to be enough of a friend so that he could invite her, but Nathan didn't? God, she needed to get out of this classroom.

"Thanks, but I'm not sure I'm going to want to kiss your dad's ass." As she said it, he laughed heartily, and she realized she'd been wrong all along about Lucas Scott.

---

Deb Scott looked around at her house, transformed from a home to a party, complete with decorations and a set-up bar. She watched with an unveiled smirk as her husband flirted with a bartender, young enough to be perhaps his daughter.

She approached her husband, guiding him away from the girl with a mumble about needing to speak to him.

Having just barely made up, Deb forced a smile, helping him adjust his tie. "You ready for tonight."

He looked around the room with an aloofness that reminded her of both her son and step-son. "Always am."

Footsteps thumped closer towards them, and both looked in the direction of their dark-haired son, who appeared in a dressy blue button up shirt and dark chinos.

"Nathan," Deb smiled at her son appreciatively, but his gaze shifted awkwardly towards his father.

"Dad, this is lame. Why do I have to go to this stupid thing? I'm not even on the basketball team. I mean.. I really shouldn't have to go."

Deb winced and braced herself for the argument that was sure to ensue; Nathan and Dan had this exact same fight every year, and every year, Nathan was forced to attend the event despite his best attempts.

She was surprised however, when her husband allowed a dimpled smile to spread over his features. Wordlessly, the man reached into his pockets, pulling out a set of car keys. They dangled in front of Nathan's face teasingly, and the Scott boy reached for them blindly.

Dan pulled the keys away, his grin deepening. "It all depends on your behavior tonight, son."

Reluctantly, Nathan forced himself to nod. "You know," He said, not able to help himself. "I don't remember you bribing Lucas."

Dan bobbed his head. "You know, I don't remember you having enough money to buy yourself a car."

Though he looked clearly frustrated, Nathan did not reply, opting instead to back away.

--

Karen Roe closed the door of Dan Scott's house behind her as she entered, and she shivered involuntarily. She wasn't quite sure what crazy thing inside her had inspired her to come, and even more so, to comealone. With a deep breath, she pushed herself forward.

"Well, well. If it isn't Karen Roe." The voice behind her was quiet and soft, that of a familiar person. Instantly, she could tell by the accent and tone that it was Whitey Durham, her son's basketball coach and mentor.

Allowing her timid smile to soften up, she looked towards him. "Whitey."

"I have to say," the older man placed his hand gently on the small of her back, guiding her deeper inside. "I'm quite surprised to see you here."

She laughed. "You know me and Dan are on good terms, right?"

"Well sure," he nodded. "But still, it's gotta be some kind of strange walking into this house. And I can't say I can remember ever seeing you at any of his functions."

"It's certainly new for me." She admitted quietly, wondering if her uncertainty was that obvious.

Whitey laughed. "Well, I'm glad you came," he lowered his voice. "I don't find much interest in any of the other parents. They're all just here to kiss Danny's ass. Something I don't personally enjoy doing."

"I'd hoped I'd see Lucas. I don't see enough of him these days. Partially because of your doing." Karen teased him with a nudge. The coach laughed and she continued. "How is he? I mean, you're his coach. I'm sure you know him better than I do, or even his father. Basketball is his life."

They were rounding the foyer, so the rest of the house and it's occupants lingering on the patio were coming into view. "You're right," Whitey nodded, "basketball is certainly one of the hugest parts of his life. Maybe even the hugest. He works himself hard."

"Too hard?" She raised an eyebrow worriedly.

"Hard enough," Whitey sighed. "Sometimes it's maybe too hard. But he's got a good head on his shoulders. I trust his judgment."

"Well, I'm his mother. Of course you'll tell me that."

The man shook his head. "No, ma'am. I don't try to pull any wool over anyone's eyes. He's a good kid, Karen. You raised him well. It's only his father I worry about sometimes."

She had no opportunity to ask him to clarify, because soon, he was enveloped in a crowd of Raven parents, asking him questions about the season that he would probably have no trouble answering.

As she drifted away from the coach slowly, her eyes seemed to instinctively travel towards a light haired person that didn't particularly look like he fit into the crowd, despite his status as the team captain and overall social king.

"Hey kid."

Her son looked up to meet her eyes, and he smiled widely. "Mom! What are you doing here?"

Karen's heart swelled at the sight of her son, and she allowed him to lift her into a tight hug.

"Bet you didn't expect to see me here." Her words were muffled by his shirt, but she didn't mind, really. She was just happy that he cared enough to squeeze her this tightly.

"Have you ever even been here?" Lucas laughed softly.

Karen pulled away from him, chuckling herself. She slapped him on the arm. "Of course I have! When you were a kid, I didn't just drop you off down the street!"

"Ouch, ma," He winced. "How was I supposed to know? I can probably count the times I've remembered you and dad having a conversation."

She forced a smile on her face, looking around at her former lover's large home. "Yeah," Karen spoke quietly. "How hard is it to believe that once we were inseparable?"

--

"Sarah Williams totally got a nose job." A series of nods and murmurs of agreement began right as Brooke finished her statement. Peyton was the only one of the group who did not comment, instead choosing to look over the group of people she openly called her friends. She was so… different compared to them. She didn't care who had gotten plastic surgery, or who had cheated on whose wife, and she couldn't understand why they did. Why they thrived on it.

In their small town, news like this ran rampant, affecting most social groups alike. For a moment, Peyton pictured their picturesque, wealthy, small town, and she felt a slight tug at her heart. Tree Hill was not living up to the expectations she'd once had for it.

Longingly, her eyes drifted from the group of teenagers towards the house, illuminated by lights. She searched for Nathan, and gave a disappointed sigh when she could not find him.

"Brooke," She interrupted whoever was speaking to her, and her best friend's loyalty was strong and apparent as she turned away from the other girl to face her. "I'm going to get something to drink." Brooke winked, and Peyton was glad her friend hadn't asked to come along as she walked away.

Luckily for her, she didn't need to search through the house for too long. Nathan sat on one of the oversized, living room couches, looking bored out of his mind as he fiddled with his tie.

"Hey." He looked up in surprise upon hearing the greeting.

"Hey," he greeted warmly with a smile, patting the seat beside him.

"So… cool party." He laughed as she said this, shaking his head slowly. He wasn't sure where they stood now, after that kiss and thatnight. It was strange between them, but for some reason, it was a good kind of strange.

"Well, it is now."

Peyton laughed. "Nice line."

"But it's true." Nathan told her, and she felt her insides begin to turn to mush. This thing between them was certainly new for her. Peyton Sawyer didn't really do relationships. Most guys didn't even want to bother with her because she wasn't the typical, bubbly cheerleader. Sure, they cat-called her, they tried to hook up with her, some even hit on her… but there were hardly ever guys that were just real with her.

A blush crept on her face, and she looked down, desperate to avoid eye contact with him. "So… last night."

"A good night." The tone of his voice when he'd said it had her laughing, and soon, the blushes of their faces had disappeared, and conversation was flowing much easier.

Off in the distance, cup of vodka and cranberry juice held firmly in her fingers, Brooke felt something close to jealousy surge through her veins. Maybe she was a bit - okay, a lot - tipsy because of the drink, but hadn't Peyton told her she wasn't interested in Nathan? Heaving a sigh, she stumbled over to Theresa.

"Let's make this party more interesting, shall we?" The girl linked arms with her instantly, clearly feeling honored to be Brooke's second choice after Peyton.

"What'd you have in mind?" She said gleefully.

"Just get everyone outside in the basketball court. You know, away from all the adults." Brooke winked, and was off, swaying slightly and giggling as she went. In her mind, she wasn't sure what she felt at the moment; was it anger or confusion? Or perhaps hurt? Of course Peyton would tell her she was going to get a drink, and then end up flirting with Nathan Scott… leaving Brooke alone. One of these days, Brooke reasoned, she wanted to be the one to leave. Just to show Peyton how it felt.

As the Tree Hill High students filtered into Nathan and Lucas' backyard, Brooke kept her eyes trained on Peyton and Nathan, who came out together, sober and happy - the exact opposite of what she was right now.

"So, everyone," she grinned, wobbling slightly on her heels. "I called you all out here for a little game of truth or dare! Who's in?" A series of cheers met her ears, and Nathan and Peyton exchanged nervous smiles.

"Alright, um, Bevin! You first."

"Dare, obviously."

Brooke gave her friend an evil beam. "Go give Dan Scott a kiss on the cheek, and make it flirtatious."

The tall, blonde girl shrugged easily. "Please. I'd do that voluntarily. He's a total hottie."

"Not sure I've ever heard someone use that phrase, but good for you! Off you go!" Everyone laughed at her wit, and for a moment, Brooke felt as if she were on top of the world. It was things like this she lived for; being loved, being popular. She didn't think people really cherished it quite like she did.

"Brooke, kiss me!" Tim shouted suddenly, gaining attention from his surrounding basketball friends, who shook their heads in disbelief and chortled at him.

"Uh, why would I?"

"As a dare!"

"I'm making up the dares here, Timmy. No dice." She couldn't help but notice Lucas' absence from the group. Perhaps he was off sucking up to his daddy. Wait, what was she thinking? Of course he was!

"Now, where was I?" She pretended to think out loud, eyes casting "innocently" over the crowd of people. "Oh, okay. How about you, Nathan?"

Nathan gulped. Either way, he figured he was screwed. But at least with a dare, he'd probably be licking the ground and not telling the world he liked Peyton. "Uh… dare?"

"I was hoping you'd say that," She flashed him a smile. "So, your dare. Hmm. Oh, I've got it! Kiss me!" Maybe she wasn't quite as smooth as she thought, but still, kissing Brooke Davis was an honor.

"Uh…" The crowd was suddenly silent, eyes trained on Brooke and then Nathan, interested to see what would occur next. They certainly all knew kissing Brooke was an honor.

Still, as Brooke waited, shifting uncomfortably because Nathan was still about twenty feet from her, and was making no move to come towards her, she felt suddenly as if she was too drunk and she might throw up.

"No thanks, Brooke. I'll um, pass."

The smile dropped from her face, and all around them, people were 'ooh-ing' and whispering loudly and Peyton was trying to conceal the feeling of happiness inside her and Brooke was sure then that she would throw up.

She was so humiliated. She looked around at the teenagers there, laughing at her. And suddenly, she was running inside the house, not even caring how stupid she looked because she figured, it couldn't anymore stupid than she already looked.

If she would have turned around, she would have seen the shocked expressions on the students, Nathan's look of shame, Peyton's of confusion, and Tim's… which mirrored hers almost exactly.

--

Brooke stumbled up the stairs of the Scott household, tears streaming down her face. She looked from door to door, confused. She needed to lie down right now, and she didn't even care if it was in Dan Scott's bed.

She pushed a door open and took notice of the basketball on the ground, a few toy dinosaurs that lined the walls, books, and a poster for some band she'd never heard of.

It was Nathan's room, she figured. And as much as she hated him at that moment, she didn't care.

She allowed herself to fall onto the bed, and she clutched her knees to her chest, allowing herself to cry her drunkenness away.

--

Karen held her white wine close to her chest, scared to move an inch in fear that she'd move something out of place, or cause any other sort of attention to herself. For most of the evening, Lucas had been at her side, until she'd forced him to go with his friends; he didn't need to be wasting his social life as a youth beside hismom.

Of course someone would bump into her. And of course, when she'd turn around, she'd see that it was Deb Scott; the woman that robbed her of this life. Or perhaps the woman that saved her from Dan.

"Sorry." She said, though it was not her fault.

"Oh, no, I'm sorry. I completely ran into you." She had but Karen did not say this because it appeared the woman was as nervous as she was.

"That's okay." She wanted to click her glass slippers and get the hell out of there. Pronto.

"I was actually trying to build up enough courage to come up and talk to you anyway," Deb laughed nervously. "I um, you and I don't really talk."

"Yes, I've realized." She was trying to be polite as she could, but this was plain weird.

"I personally think that should change. I mean, Lucas is with me half the time. I know him… well, I think I know him pretty well. It's weird to me that someone I consider to be my son has another mother I know nothing about." Karen felt a mixture of emotions come at her. Relief - that Deb wasn't a horrible monster. Since she'd spoken to her only courteously, and even then only rarely, she was glad to know that Deb seemed to have a good personality. Jealousy - because no other woman beside her should have the right to call Lucas a son. Lucas was hers. Deb had Nathan, so why did she need Lucas as well? And then there was that feeling she could not explain. One that told her Deb wanted to be friends.

"It's hard. We - Dan and I - we have too much history for us to be one big, happy family."

"I don't expect us to be one big, happy family. But maybe friends?" Deb shrugged, and she really was trying.

Karen smiled. "Well, I guess that'd be okay. Maybe a little long-overdue. After all, you're right. Our boys are brothers and we're complete strangers. That doesn't really make sense to me."

"Good. So, can I get you a drink?"

--

Lucas was bored. Completely out-of-his-mind bored. His friends laughed as they talked about something that had happened earlier - he really didn't care enough to find out what - and he stared at the basketball hoop with a longing; wishing they'd leave so he could do the one thing that came naturally to him.

"Can you believe that, Luke?" Mike spoke from beside him, and he nodded, though he didn't know what the hell the guy was talking about.

"Actually, guys, I think I'm heading to bed. Pops has got me waking up at five these mornings for two mile runs." He lied easily (though it really wasn't a drastic lie; his father had him waking up at seven sometimes on weekends if he really wanted to be an ass) and began to stand up.

The boys nodded as if they knew what he went, and then went straight back into their gossip. He swore they were just girls with penises most of the time.

He climbed the stairs slowly, taking his time to reach his room. For a moment, he contemplated going back downstairs to tell his mother goodnight, but found he was feeling suddenly much too tired, and looking for her down there he was sure to run into some rabid parent wanting to know 'just exactly how he did it'.

He yanked the door open, but was surprised to find his bed was already occupied. He squinted through the dark, and when he could make out only the figure of a female frame, he flicked on the lamp on his desk.

Brooke Davis. He raised an eyebrow. One hand folded underneath her head, with the other resting on the bed, and her legs bended, she looked… much less feisty than usual.

Lucas bit his lip and sighed quietly, pulling off his tie simultaneously. He went to his closet, grabbing a blanket off the top shelf, and walked slowly towards his bed, careful to keep his footsteps silent.

His leaned over Brooke, lowering the blanket over her sleeping frame, making sure any exposed flesh was covered; he didn't know why, but seeing her there exposed made her look delicate and fragile, and he wanted her to be warm.

She began to stir, and he pushed himself down so he was kneeling beside the bed, expecting an insult. Brooke's eyes opened, and she blinked up at him in confusion. "Lucas.."

"Hey," He spoke softly, and he was sure this was the nicest tone he'd ever spoken to Brooke Davis in. "Sorry to wake you. I was just covering you up."

She looked at the blanket covering her, then back up at him. He looked so sincere; so different. She wasn't sure if it was because she'd never before seen him in this light. His hair, short naturally spiky; his eyes so blue, framed by curled golden eyelashes; his jaw line and cheekbone, making him look as if he'd been chiseled down flawlessly just for her eyes to see. She couldn't help but stare. And when that came to be too much, she looked away, tears surely streaming down her cheeks. "I feel so stupid." She whispered.

"Why?" He'd never seen her cry in the time he'd known her. Even when they'd been in elementary school. Sure, she'd pulled a fake-out once or twice or possibly a million times on teachers, but he'd never really seen her cry.

"I'm such a mess. I'm sorry I'm in here, I'm probably the last girl you'd like to end up drunk in your bed."

He laughed lightly. "Don't worry about it. You can sleep here, if you want."

She wasso tired. Her eyes fluttered open and closed. "I always make an idiot out of myself, huh? Did you see that downstairs?"

"I don't think I've ever in my life seen you make an idiot out of yourself."

"Liar." She whispered, but it was nice to hear.

He leaned closer to her, bringing a hand to her hair and running his fingers through it; her hair was unusually softer than he'd expected it to be. "I'm sorry that you're sad."

"I'm used to it." Brooke shrugged, her skin tingling where his fingers touched her. He'd never actually expected her to be so… serious. All he'd ever known of Brooke was fun and games and being a bitch. She herself was feeling too serious, too vulnerable. Without thinking, she leaned forward, pressing her lips to his hastily.

For a moment he almost let himself kiss back, but when he realized he could still taste the vodka on her lips, he pulled back.

"Well, I'm just doing great tonight, aren't I?" She laughed bitterly, choking on her tears.

"No, no, no," He sighed. "I just don't want you to regret this tomorrow. And I know you will, because… well, it's me."

She wasn't sure how to respond, so she simply stared, allowing herself to drink this sight in: Lucas Scott kneeling beside his own bed with her in it, whispering sweet things at her; she was sure it would never happen again. This would be the only moment they'd ever share, in years later, she'd always wonder 'what if'.

"I'm so embarrassed." She cried, and he pulled her in for a hug. This was strange, he realized. Him and Brooke Davis hugging; him and Brooke Davis doing anything other than arguing. But she was sad and acting surprisingly not at all shallow, and he was a much nicer person than she thought he was.

In his arms, she whimpered. "It'll be okay, Brooke. Don't worry."

It took her a few moment to calm down, pulling herself together. Lucas could see her beginning to fall asleep, and he cleared his throat loudly. "Well, I'm just going to sleep on the floor."

"Lucas," she sniffled. "It's okay. Get in the bed."

"My bed's really small." He swallowed.

"Well, so am I." She rolled over and patted the place beside her. After a hesitant look, he climbed into the bed beside her. He'd been right; the bed barely managed to fit them both. They were face to face, and it was hard to concentrate with her so close.

The lamp stayed on, the door remained open, and the thing that was bothering him was that she fell asleep so quickly, when it was all he could do not to keep his eyes open and stare.