Author's Note: I wrote this for my friend Hilary a long time ago. Well, I wrote most of it. I just now finished it and it's not really that great, but I owe it to her to at least get it out there. Hilary, I miss you. And you have to know that's true because I wrote you a freakin' Leyton for God's sake.
Spoilers: Season one only. Lucas never came back.
Don't change your name
Keep it the same
For I fear I may lose you again
I know you won't
It's just that I
And I want to find you when
Something good happens
- AM 180, Grandaddy
She stares at him for what seems like eternity, feeling inside herself that her eyes are betraying her; there's no way that Lucas Scott is really standing in front of her. She reaches an arm out, and when the tips of her fingers reach his soft clothing, she gasps, taking a step backwards.
She hasn't seen him in so long that just the sight of him is unfamiliar. What's funny is that nothing has changed. She's sure she has seen this shirt about a million times, and his scuffled, brown boots don't look at all new.
He manages a smile, but she can see how nervous he is just by looking at his eyes.
"What are you doing here, Lucas?" She manages to squeak out, trying her best to look fierce and upset. Because honestly, she is feeling both fierce and upset, and she has been upset for so long, she can hardly remember thinking of Lucas without mentally cursing his existence.
"I'm visiting. Keith and I thought it was time."
She scoffs. "It's been years. You just now decided it was time to come visit?"
"I missed my mom," He explains with a smile and a sheepish shrug. "And uh, I missed you."
"Well, that's too bad," She weaves her way around him, unlocking her front door, and fully preparing herself for the loud slam she'll hear in seconds. "Because I don't miss you."
After much knocking, apologies and pleas sounding from outside the door, she finally caves, tugging it open, and allowing him inside.
She promises herself that it's only to shut him up.
He stares at her unsurely, before finally saying, "I'm sorry I left."
Peyton frowns, realizing that boys truly are stupid, and he has learned absolutely nothing since he's been gone. "It's not that you left Lucas, it's how you left."
She continues, "You went off to be a better person. Why couldn't you have started here? Why didn't you say good-bye to us in person? You said bye to Nathan. You said it to Haley. So, what? Brooke and I didn't deserve it?" She pushes his chest lightly, but with just enough force that she feels she's getting her point across.
"I wrote you a letter.." He says weakly.
"Yeah, we burned it." It's a little harsh, but it's not like he doesn't deserve it.
Lucas winces, trying to tear his gaze from hers. He doesn't want to look her in the eye, but he feels too cowardice not to. "I guess I deserved that."
"You deserve a lot worse." Her voice cracks, and she hates herself for letting him get the best of her. Hates herself for it. More than she hates him.
They're silent, and as she contemplates this, he looks her over, looking for obvious changes. He sees none. Her hair is the same as it was when he left, only slightly longer, and her eyes are still broken and green-olive colored, and she's wearing an old Dashboard Confessional shirt he's sure he's seen a few times himself.
She herself has noticed changes, but not too many. She gave herself an outrageous haircut a year or so ago, and since then, she has vowed never to change herself again. She's loved none since him, and she intends never to again. She tried to be a lesbian once, but it didn't work.
"I saw Nathan and Haley. They're good. Marriage seems to be treating them well." He chuckles softly, and she supposes it is kind of funny and slightly ironic, but she doesn't laugh.
Instead, she says, "I know. I live here. I see them basically every day of my life."
"I - look, I have things I kind of have to do, so.."
"Yeah, of course." But he doesn't move.
"I'm leaving, I swear," He tells her. "I just need to - to stay here for just a second. I just need to see you."
"You're looking at me right now."
He blinks, holding back what she thinks to be tears. "I know."
As he turns the knob on the door, he turns around to look at her over his shoulder one more time.
"I really am sorry. For leaving. I didn't.. I don't really know how to handle things, I guess."
She crosses her arms over her chest, because as much as she'd like it to be enough, it's not.
She doesn't say anything, and he nods, "I'll be seeing you."
And then he's gone.
"You loved him more than I ever did." Brooke says suddenly a few days later, as they both lounge in her room and paint their nails. She is looking down at her toes, but Peyton can see the thoughts running through her mind.
"I don't know what you're talking about, Brooke." She says, because she really doesn't know what else to say.
"Lucas," Brooke looks up, pushing her bangs out of her face with her unpainted fingers. "Lucas."
"Not really. He's here, and he's obviously all we can both think about."
"I'm not thinking about him." Peyton lies horribly, and she looks back down at her half-painted toes.
"Liar." Their eyes meet and Brooke smiles.
"It's okay," She says, "if you want to be with him. I'm over it."
Peyton laughs. It's too complicated for it to be this simple. "Brooke, that is so not the point."
"I know, but I'm just letting you know that if you were to re-think your relationship with him, I'd be okay with it."
Brooke hums softly to herself as she paints her nails a soft red color, and Peyton stares at her. She bites her lip.
"You're a good friend, B. Davis."
"Oh, I'm the best."
She glides her marker easily along the pad of paper, pausing to take a sip of coffee.
When Peyton hears the sound of glass clinking against the bar in front of her, she smiles appreciatingly towards Karen.
"How do you know what I want at every hour? Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks and you can read my mind." She chuckles.
Karen shrugs. "Well, you've been coming here daily since you were seventeen, and you're twenty-one now. I think I've gotten the hint."
"Has it really been that long? It doesn't feel like it."
"Well, according to my calendar.." The older woman smiles brightly.
Peyton smiles faintly. "I have to get out of this place. Or at least, I was supposed to."
"Maybe you've been waiting for something that will inspire you to leave." They make eye contact, and Peyton realizes that Karen realizes that despite what she'd initially meant the words to mean, it sounds like she's pushing Peyton to Lucas.
"I didn't mean..-"
"I- he was gone for so long that I don't think I can just.. forget. I mean, he just left."
"Peyton," Karen drops her head. "If he wasn't my son, I'd probably feel the exact same way towards him."
"I loved him once."
"Maybe I still do."
"I do. I mean, I know I do. I just can't - I just can't."
"Hey," The brunette reaches for her hand, "I know."
"How long is he here for?"
"A little while longer."
Peyton sighs, mostly because she's not sure how much more she can handle, but also kind of because she doesn't know what to say. "Oh."
"How did I end up here?" She says to herself, and she truly doesn't know. Either way, she's staring at the Rivercourt, where she first realized she had feelings for Lucas, and where she drew that cursed flaming number three, and where she watched him and Brooke flirt just years before. And standing in the middle of it all is him.
He looks surprised to see her, and the basketball he's holding slips straight out of his hands, bouncing away and then rolling.
"I didn't think I'd see you again,"
"Well, here I am."
He nods, and then pauses. "Why?"
"Because," She says. And then, because perhaps that was not sufficient: "I don't hate you. Not really."
"But kind of?" Lucas winces.
"Kind of," Peyton nods.
"I never stopped loving you," He says - quite boldly, she thinks - and then: "Not really."
"It probably wouldn't have worked," She reasons.
He nods. "Yeah, probably not."
Her hands are shoved so deep into her pockets that she thinks that at any second, her hands may go straight though and then she'll be touching her own thighs like an idiot.
"But maybe it would have," She says after a moment.
"I think so."
They stand there awkwardly for a few more seconds and she says, "So when are you leaving?"
He shrugs. "I thought I might stay."
She nods. "Yeah," and then, louder, "Yeah."