Hey everybody. Long time no… nothing, I know. I'm not going to make excuses about how busy my life is, because you've heard it all before. So here's my offering to the ficcy gods. It came about when Jess oh so nicely asked me to write a one-shot for the Save Brucas challenge. Eventually I decided against submitting, because trust me, this thing is so full of angst that it's not saving anybody.

This fic is rather experimental for me, and I'd be delighted to hear what you guys think about it. All the lyrics used are from various songs by a band named Metric, who I love enough to have the little musical babies of. There are going to be some errors with things involving canon or show consistency, because I refused to watch the fourth season of OTH on moral grounds, lol. But you know, the writing's always more about feeling than fact.

For anyone who's still interested, I'm in the process of writing the second chapter of And the Mirror Cracked. Thanks so much for your continued interest and support. Special thanks for this story to Amanda, Cathy, Maggie and Elena, who deal with far more of my whining and bitching than they should, and don't hold it against me … too often. Lol.

As always, I own nada. With the state of One Tree Hill these days, that's something I'm really, really happy about.

For Jess, who loves BL more than anyone I know, and could really use a little distraction.


We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank

2012

Nobody knows which street to take

He took the easy way

What was the easy way?

First double-cross her heart

He wants to start a family

She always thought she would not

"We could get married," he suggested, the words forming puffs of smoke in the ice cold alley way. Lucas Scott cowered from them though they were his own, the visible breath surrounding him like tangible guilt. The stench of betrayal swirled around them, and he could feel bile slowly rising in his throat.

"Shut up, Lucas," she gasped, her normally rasping voice now so hoarse that it could barely be heard. Brooke Davis huddled deeper into her heavy winter coat, but the chill remained in her bones. She looked so small as she leaned against the brick wall that it was almost impossible to imagine that another life could be growing within her.

"What do you want me to do, Brooke?" he asked, exasperated. Lucas almost apologized for his tone, but she wasn't listening, and he didn't really mean it.

"Fuck! Luke, what are we gonna do?" Brooke looked up, meeting his eye for the first time since she dropped her bomb. Lucas… I know that this isn't what we planned, definitely not for you and me, but there's no easy way to do it. I'm just gonna say it. I'm pregnant. Three weeks, and it's yours.

"We should get married," he repeated again. It was starting to sound like a good idea to him. Imagining her walking down an aisle towards him, swathed in a white silk dress, her dark hair pinned back and a slight bulge at her stomach filled him with unexpected warmth.

"We both know that's not going to work," she tossed a withering glare from behind the tears welling up in her green eyes. They seemed to swim before him, and he quickly closed the three foot gap between them to hold her in his arms. They did both know that it couldn't be that simple—a tall, thin, beautiful, artsy blonde would never allow it to be so.

"What do you want me to do?" he whispered into her hair, inhaling the faint scent of kiwi and some other fruit that had always been part of the Brooke Davis mystique.

He could sense her grim smile without looking. "Take back the last seven years."


2011

Sort of wonder why no one said a word

Don't you like it on the sly? Don't you like it till it hurts?

Have I been on your mind? What's a voice without a song?

Something in your head you've been fighting all along

I don't want to say it, the news is not so good

We'll never get away, and even if we could

It was nearly three A.M. when her cell phone chirped obnoxiously. Cracking an eye open, she could see the little outside display screen light up, dancing red and blue and green in the darkness. Brooke groaned, her thin arm shooting out from under the covers and fumbling for the phone before it could wake up Peyton. The cabin that the whole group had decided to stay in over Christmas was moderately sized, but not enough so that they could expect their own rooms. As Brooke Davis and Peyton Sawyer were roommates in Los Angeles, it wasn't a far stretch to imagine that they'd bunk together in Vermont. Although, at least at home they had their own rooms. Brooke couldn't bring herself to wonder why Peyton and Lucas weren't sharing a bedroom.

As if just thinking his name had conjured him, the caller ID shouted back at her: LUCAS. Swiftly, she silenced it, and stuck the phone under her pillow, squeezing her eyes tightly closed. If she ignored it, maybe it would go away.

Instead, the phone buzzed insistently, indicating she had a text message. The beautiful brunette sighed, even as she sat up on her bed and stuck her feet into a pair of fluffy slippers. Meet me outside. Wrapping herself in a thick bathrobe, Brooke gently closed the door behind her, careful not to make a noise. Peyton, for all her deep paranoia, slept like a log. Brooke padded her way down the hall, prepared to flee at even the slightest noise. There was none, and she slipped out a side door and onto the wraparound porch that they'd all admired earlier in the day.

"Hello?" she asked in a tone that managed to be both a whisper and a scream. A figure walked out of the shadows, long and lithe, and leaned against the railing. The moon's reflected light off the snow illuminated half his face—the sharpness of his cheekbone, the rigidity of his jaw, the softness of his mouth. Her heart constricted at the sight. No matter what had happened between them, loving Lucas Scott was the one habit that Brooke Davis could never seem to break.

"I'm right here, babe," he said, extending a hand to her. She took it, but scowled anyway.

"Don't call me that."

"Why not? Would you prefer snookums? Pumpkin? Sweetpea? Dumpling?" he laughed lowly, his warm breath sending shivers down her spine.

"I'd prefer if you called me Brooke," she stated crossly. At his surprised look, she continued. "Let's not make this something that it's not, Luke."

"Exactly what is this, Brooke?" he asked, more than a little defensively.

"This is a tawdry affair that we're both going to hell for, Lucas," the edge in her voice wasn't lost on either of them.

"I wish you wouldn't say things like that," he whispered, and she felt herself soften.

"How do you think of these meetings, then?" she asked, the unwilling vulnerability in her voice leaving her soul bare.

"I think of them as the only chance I get to spend time with the woman I love," Lucas said, bringing a hand up to caress her cheek.

"I wish you wouldn't say things like that," Brooke closed her eyes and nuzzled into his palm.

"Why?"

"Because this is wrong, Luke. Peyton… she loves you, so much. If she ever found out about this, it would kill her," Brooke nearly whimpered as a sudden swell of tears rose up in her.

"Then why do you keep coming? If you care so much about Peyton, why do we do this?"

"Because I care about you too," Brooke swallowed the lump in her throat and managed a watery smile. "Even if it damns me, I care about you, Lucas Scott."

His steely blue eyes smiled at her, but no more words were exchanged. Slowly, he leaned his head down, and she rose on her tiptoes to meet him, their lips colliding in the middle. For moments, they just rested there, breathing in each other's air and enjoying the feeling of intimacy that only came to them once in a blue moon.

One of the many downsides of a tawdry affair, Brooke supposed.

"We should leave all this," he muttered into her mouth. "We should leave everything behind and just be together."

Brooke willed herself not to hear him, tried to pretend that she'd never lain awake at night thinking the same exact things. The tears came faster now, sliding gently down her cheeks and leaving her feeling more vulnerable to the cold than ever. The salt stung her lips but she wouldn't break the kiss.

"Don't cry, babe. You're too beautiful to cry," Luke said, wiping the tear tracks from her face.

"I don't want to do this anymore," Brooke murmured softly enough to be carried away on the winter's breeze, but Lucas heard her, and instantly froze.

"What do you mean? I thought you cared about me."

"I do, Lucas, I do. But Peyton's my best friend, and she's your girlfriend. Why doesn't this bother you at all?"

"You know what bothers me? The fact that no matter what I do, you won't take me anyway. Even if I break up with Peyton, like I've been trying to, you still wouldn't be with me."

Brooke couldn't meet his eyes, and he forcibly tipped her chin.

"Admit it, Brooke."

"I would never want to rub you in her face. That would be cruel," Brooke choked around her tears.

"She had no problems doing it to you," Lucas rationed, and resentment bloomed swiftly in Brooke's chest.

"Don't act like you're so innocent in all of this, Saint Lucas," Brooke snarled.

"I know that I've made mistakes, Brooke. The worst of them was picking Peyton over you. It's the one that I'll never live down."

"Looks that way," she said, breaking his hold on her and rushing back into the house. Brooke never looked up as she walked quickly down the hall, but she could feel Haley's accusing stare piercing her from the petite Scott wife's place in the kitchen. Making a sudden detour into the bathroom, Brooke knelt on the cold tile floor and thought of those disappointed brown eyes, the loving blue ones, and the heartbroken hazels that would be sure to come out of this. Maybe once she emptied her stomach, she could finally get to sleep. Maybe if she tried just one last time to purge herself of this guilt, she could pull her heart out of her throat.

Maybe she'd been saying the same thing for years and it had never worked before.


2010

Promiscuous makes an entrance

Her mouth is full of questions

Are we all brides to be?

Are we all designed to be confined

Buy ourselves chastity belts and lock them, ah

Organize our lives and lose the key, ah

Our faces all resemble dying roses

From trying to fix it

Trying to fix it

Trying to fix it, when instead we should break it

We've got to break it before it breaks us

"God, Lucas, what are you doing here?" Brooke asked frantically, nervously peering down the hallway to make sure that her nosy neighbors had stayed put.

"Visiting," he answered with a charming smile, dropping a tentative kiss on her forehead as he walked past her into the apartment, a duffel pack sling over his shoulder.

"Yeah, got that," Brooke snapped. "But Peyton's not here."

"That's good. That would make this pretty awkward," Lucas gestured between the two of them, his eyes sliding towards the back room where she slept.

"This is pretty awkward already, Boyfriend of my Best Friend," Brooke folded her arms defensively across her chest and leaned against the locked front door.

"Brooke, don't be like that. I came to L.A. to spend time with you," he pleaded to her with his eyes. She'd seen this look before. Give me a chance; your heart; forgiveness; a break; your trust; your blessing. Each time he asked, he'd gotten it. Brooke Davis had never been able to deny Lucas Scott. It hadn't mattered much in high school, where each heart ache that had felt like the end had really only been a growing pain. But now… now they were older. They were old enough to know better and the stakes were higher than they'd ever been.

Lucas, through the years, had proved to be completely irresistible. Once upon a time, when she was a different girl completely, it had made her heart soar. Now it made her blood run cold, anxiety forming tight black swirls in her stomach. This was wrong, it was so wrong, and she was apparently the only one who realized it. Growing up in Tree Hill had left no one with a clean conscience, but she contemplated calling Haley James Scott just to remind herself that she wasn't the only one with a soul. Her right leg twitched, her body preparing itself to bolt at any moment, though her heart stayed right where it was.

"You came all the way here, just to see me?" Brooke asked incredulously. She tried to look straight into his eyes. Everywhere else in the room, reminders of Peyton were strewn about the apartment that the two had been sharing for the last three years. Mementos from more than a decade of friendship littered their home, and Brooke's nausea increased exponentially.

"Of course," Lucas said, as if it were something she should never question. Somewhere along the line, Lucas Scott had started to believe that what was between him and Brooke was a real relationship. Lucas was good at living in his own world, believing what he wanted. He believed he could play basketball with his heart condition. He believed he and Peyton could live happily ever after. He believed that nobody would have to get hurt.

"Luke," Brooke sighed. She didn't have the right words for what she wanted to say. She wanted to tell him that what they had was wrong. She wanted to tell him that all of this would never happen again, that it never should have happened in the first place. She wanted to tell him that they shouldn't see each other anymore until they were sure they could be friends again. She wanted to tell him all sorts of things, but she'd lost that ability along time ago. Beautiful, bold and fearless Brooke Davis was not so much anymore. "Peyton thinks you're going to ask her to marry you."

"She what?" he asked, stopping abruptly. The strap of his bag slid from his grip, dropping unceremoniously onto the shining hardwood floor. Brooke found it painfully symbolic.

"She… she thinks you're going to get married one day. You're going to have your 2.5 and your white picket fence and you're going to be really happy," Brooke said, trying to inject certainty into her shaking voice. Peyton Sawyer had dropped the angst and uncertainty of her youth underneath the California sun, and now, she knew what she wanted. Her future was bright, with a job at a major record label and an amazing boyfriend. She knew where she was going. Brooke tried to imagine her own future, and couldn't figure out if she was relieved or horrified by her inability to do so.

"Not without you, I won't," Lucas replied, looking dazed. It was clear, but the terror in his eyes when he looked up, that the severity of their situation was finally hitting him. Sometimes it was easy to pretend they were still in high school, where your problems lasted through the semester and then you could wipe your slate clean.

This was so much more than a passing grade.

"Shit. Brooke, what are we going to do?" he looked up, tears in his eyes. Brooke swallowed, staring at a picture from junior year. Nathan and Haley cuddled in one corner; she and Peyton pressed their faces together and beamed at the camera. Lucas stood behind them, an arm draped around each of their shoulders. That had been her whole world once, and she felt like every second that ticked by, it continued to crumble around her.

"You're going to leave," Brooke said firmly, her fingers clenching a table for support. Her knuckles turned a ghostly shade of white. Idly, she wondered if she could wrap her entire body around the table and simply disappear completely.

Lucas rose unsteadily from the chair he'd dropped into, nodding mindlessly. He was a puppet on a string now, too shocked to do anything but listen to her.

"You're going to leave, you're going to go to a hotel, write a letter to Peyton telling her how much you love her, and you're never going to call me again," Brooke said, leading him gently to the doorway, even as she could feel her own heart breaking. How had this become her life? The lies, the pain… she hadn't wanted any of this.

"I love her. I'm not going to call you," Lucas repeatedly vacantly, making his way into the hall.

"Goodbye, Lucas," Brooke said with a finality that tore at her soul.

"I love her. I'm not going to call you," he repeated, willing it into reality.

Even then, they knew it wouldn't last long.


2009

Another one too cold to touch, can't stop smiling, cry so much

The square face man of primetime, her mind's a padded room

Whenever she gets that shrink-wrapped pill, thrill in her hand again

The first to let us know, she is not the perfect woman

And neither are you, who can't stop shopping, I can't

I can't stop the lonesome lows, don't just go away overnight

Dr. Blind, just prescribe the blue one

(Here's to you, Mrs. Robinson)

If the dizzying highs don't subside overnight

Dr. Blind, just prescribe the red one

Brooke sneezed, and it ricocheted violently through her slim body. Whining miserably, she buried her head beneath a pillow and prayed to never see daylight again, if that's what it took to make her feel better. She groaned as she heard a knock at her door. She may have muttered "come in", but it sounded more like a stream of unintelligible vowels.

"Brookie? You okay?" Peyton Sawyer gently eased open her best friend's door. The brunette burrowed further into her pillows, groaning in acknowledgement.

"Aw honey, I'm sorry you're sick," the blonde murmured soothingly, sitting gingerly on the edge of the bed. Brooke grumbled in response, something like 'Its okay' but sounding more like 'Isshlamkeh'. Peyton smiled weakly and continued apologetically. "I can't stay home with you today; I've got to go into the studio."

"'Sokay," Brooke lifted her head off the pillow by a fraction of an inch to gaze reassuringly into her best friend's eyes. "I'll be fine."

"I know you will," Peyton said, ruffling Brooke's hair. Idly, Brooke wondered how long it had been since she washed those same long chocolate strands. She felt as if she'd been lying in bed forever, sleeping away her life in the vein of Rip Van Winkle. If she were being honest, she couldn't wait for Peyton to leave her alone so she could continue. She didn't deserve Peyton Sawyer's concern, her care, her sympathy. She deserved to lie in her bed, whining and sniffling forever.

Brooke Davis always believed in karma, even if she didn't always live it.

"But Lucas is here, so he'll get you anything you need. You'll be in fighting shape soon enough," Peyton teased, missing the way the brunette's spin stiffened at her words.

"Hopefully," Brooke attempted a cheery smile, but it faltered on her full lips. "What's Luke doing here?"

"He got some time off work, finally. You know our anniversary's coming up. Or, you would know, if you hadn't been semi-comatose for the last week," Peyton laughed. "So he's going to hang around here while I'm at work. Feel free to use him as your personal manservant. It's good to keep him on his toes."

"I'll probably just rest," Brooke said quietly, pulling her blankets up to her chin and drooping her eyelids for emphasis. Peyton smiled warmly, rising from the bed and smoothing out the wrinkles on her black pants.

All through her teen years, when Peyton had been floating in a sea of her own personal angst, music had been her life raft. Joining the record label had been the greatest thing that ever happened to her. The very thing that had been her redemption through the dark times was what led her into a better life. Slowly, the scowls that marred her pretty face were replaced with easy smiles, the holey jeans transformed into stylish and sleek pants. In California, after high school, life was just easier for Peyton Sawyer, and she couldn't help but feel undying gratitude to Brooke Davis for being there for her through all of it.

"I suspected as much, but if you need anything, just yell for Luke," Peyton squeezed Brooke's shoulder supportively before exiting the room, closing the door behind her softly and casting the place back into darkness.

"Like that'll happen," Brooke snorted to herself, screwing her eyes shut tightly. Still, her peace was disturbed. Brooke had trouble lulling herself back to sleep knowing that he was just down the hall. She couldn't ignore it—him—the way she normally could when there were hundreds of miles between them, inside of just the hallway. She waited for a few more moments for him to come in and disturb her, and tried not to be disappointed when he didn't.

"For the best… for the best," she murmured sleepily, feeling waves of exhaustion crash against her, coaxing her back. As the lids slid down over her bright green eyes, she thought she may have seen a figure enter her room, but it may as well have been a dream as she snuggled into the warmth of her bed.

Lucas Scott smiled, albeit a bit wistfully, as he saw the sleeping beauty buried beneath layers of blanket. He cautiously took a step towards her, but she didn't react, and he moved to her bed with more confidence. Sitting gingerly on the edge, he stroked her hair as if terrified that she would disappear at the last second. It wasn't an illogical fear for Lucas Scott—Brooke Davis had been slipping out of his grasp for as long as he'd known her. He wasn't presumptuous enough to think that he could ever tame a girl like her, but he was close, and just the sight of her tugged at his heart strings.

He didn't deserve to be this close to her, and if she woke up, she'd surely scream herself even hoarser. Peyton had said Brooke had been acting differently for the last three weeks or so, and hadn't even left her room for the last one. Lucas Scott wasn't an idiot, he could do the math. He was the cause of her problem, just like he'd always been. Sometimes he wondered if causing her pain was all that he was good at; dangling hope in front of her, and snatching it away when the going got tough.

Still, she'd forgiven him time after time. She trusted him. She gave him a choice, and Lucas chose Peyton. He chose Peyton Sawyer, and he'd chosen her again and again when it was time to make a decision, and most of the time, it felt like that was the greatest choice he'd ever made. When he was with Peyton, everything was less serious. All the pain that they harbored seemed to lessen with the presence of the other. For a long time, it looked like he might just be the one to save her.

He ignored the nagging little voice in the back of his mind that told him that his problems didn't fade around Brooke—they disappeared completely, hiding in the shadows that her light cast.

Before he could stop himself, he swung his legs onto the bed, toeing off his shoes and lowering himself slowly. Tentatively, he curled an arm around Brooke's waist, entwining his fingers with hers. To his relief, she did not wake, merely sighing in content and shifting towards him slightly. If anyone caught him here—including Brooke herself—there would be hell to pay, he was sure of it. Still, he couldn't resist the temptation. It had always been his greatest vice, and he succumbed to it on that January day, just as he had on New Year's Eve.


2008

We were too wasted to close the window

Friends and family looking into my only hiding place

The rhythm of a stranger's skin

Infidel to die for, what I am doing

Will happen in the morning when the mirror won't recognize me

He knows a certain gesture

When we're loving, to ask each other,

"Do you want it? Do you want me?"

I want it, It is you

You are where I want to be

"Peyt? Peyton? You here?" Lucas Scott peered curiously around the apartment. He dropped his bags beside the kitchen counter, or the island as Brooke was always quick to point out. Thinking of the brunette he'd been friends with for years, he called for her too, and only heard his own voice echo through the spacious apartment. Thinking about it, Luke should have realized that showing up unannounced on New Year's Eve was a ridiculous plan. Peyton Sawyer and Brooke Davis hadn't been the most popular girls in Tree Hill High because of their love of staying home on weekends. If there were a party in a thirty mile radius, Brooke would find it, and Peyton would be cheerfully along for the ride.

Walking to the refrigerator, Lucas decided that he would just hang around their apartment until someone turned up. The girls were bound to come home eventually, and like a loyal housewife, he would wait, he thought to himself with a snigger. Peyton surely wouldn't mind, and Brooke probably wouldn't come home at all. A bright green Post-It caught his eye, and he recognized his girlfriend's neat handwriting immediately.

BROOKIE-

THE LABEL'S HAVING A NEW YEAR'S BASH. CAN'T MISS IT, BUT IF THE FOO FIGHTERS ARE THERE, I'LL BE SURE TO REMEMBER THAT DAVE'S YOURS. MAYBE ;-). HAVE FUN WITH JOSH!

-PEYT

Lucas' heart was unsure what it was supposed to do—swell with pride or shrivel with jealousy. Compromising, it continued to beat normally as he mulled over what their lives had become. Peyton had made a good one for herself, flourishing at work and delighting in living with her best friend. He was happy for her, but he couldn't help but wish he played a larger part in her life. Lucas himself was constantly surrounded by Nathan, Haley and their son James. He wouldn't trade his family for the world, but seeing the love between his brother and his wife grow each day only served to remind Luke of how far away his own love was.

Making his way into the living room, he collapsed into one of the squashy armchairs the girls had been quick to furnish their room with. He flicked on the TV, idly tossing the remote control between his hands. It was a good five minutes before he realized that he couldn't quite see the picture—there was a hot pink Post It stuck in the very center.

P. SAWYER-

SORRY GIRLIE, I CAN'T WAIT FOR YOU ANYMORE. IF YOU GET THIS, MEET ME AT THE CLUB. IF NOT, YOU BETTER BE HAVING A DAMN GOOD TIME SOMEWHERE ELSE. DETAILS TOMORROW!!!!

LOVE YOU!

BROOKE

Lucas smiled to himself, removing the note from the television and shoving it absently into his back pocket. It was so like his girls to miss each other completely and leave matching notes in places that would be obvious to everyone but each other. Resigning himself to a quiet evening in, he watched Dick Clark prattle away, and thought of his girlfriend. He couldn't wait to see her again, and could almost picture her at his side, blonde curls tickling her cheek as she rested her head upon his shoulder.

The peaceful delusion was short lived as the front door flew open, the only thing stopping it from crashing into the wall being the little rubber stopped used to prevent such a thing. It jolted him out of his stupor, and Lucas bolted upright, prepared for anything—anything except for what actually greeted him. He rubbed his eyes a few times to ensure that he hadn't drank more than he thought, but no matter how many times he blinked, Brooke Davis was always huddled beside that kitchen island she so loved, shaking as tears made rivers of black across her pale skin. She trembled, not bothering to silence her hysterical sobs. It occurred to Lucas that she probably had no idea he was standing there, intruding on her private pain. He should really duck into Peyton's room and make himself scare until his girlfriend returned, and Brooke would never know the difference, but he just couldn't leave the brunette alone.

"Brooke?" he asked tentatively, dropping to his knees before her. She stiffened immediately, jumping nearly a foot in the air at the shock, and whimpering at she smacked her head.

"Perfect," she blubbered, clutching the spot as her sobs gained strength. "Broken heart, check. Concussion, double check. I hate this year already."

Silently, he gathered her in his arms, and she wrapped around him, crying into his neck. He stroked her back softly, waiting for the hysterics to pass. Lucas Scott had stopped being in love with Brooke Davis when he was a senior in high school, but seeing her in pain always brought him to near tears himself.

"You want to tell me what's wrong?" he could feel her shake her head slightly, her long dark hair tickling the places his skin was bare. Immediately, she straightened, getting up off the floor and adjusting her skirt.

"Nothing. I'm cool," Brooke blew out a deep, shaking breath and shot him a killer smile. Her pearly white teeth gleamed, but smudges of black across her cheeks and rings of red around her eyes were all too telling.

"Oh, come on, Brooke. You can't expect me to believe that," Lucas folded his arms, looking at her expectantly.

"Right. I'm the only one that falls for total bullshit," Brooke scoffed, removing her stilettos and chucking them a bit too violently toward the shoe bin beside the door.

"Is this about Josh?" Lucas asked tentatively, and her reaction did not disappoint. Immediately, Brooke whirled to face him, her hands on the hips barely covered by her short skirt, her green eyes flashing.

"And how exactly do you know about Josh?"

"Post It tag," Luke shrugged, gesturing toward the fridge. Stalking over to it, Brooke quickly read the note. For a moment, she softened, almost smiling at her best friend's words. By the end, she was glaring again, and ripped the green sheet clean in half.

"Well, Josh certainly had fun anyway," she sneered, and Lucas took a step backward. For all the years he had known Brooke Davis, he had never been too familiar with her anger. When it was directed at him, it was always mingled with love and despair, both of which were easily cured by a kiss and a declaration of his devotion. The pure, unadulterated rage that seemed to radiate from her now was almost terrifying, even from a girl so small.

Lucas didn't say anything, just stared. His gaze was intense, as if trying to read her mind, the way he'd always done when they were together. Brooke glared back resentfully, as if recalling the same memories in a very different light.

"But you know all about that," she finally said, turning on her heel and disappearing through an archway. After a moment of baffled silence, Lucas followed.

"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" he demanded, pushing open the door to her bedroom and walking in uninvited.

"I think you know exactly what that means," Brooke answered, seemingly unperturbed to be left standing around in only a large t-shirt. Her party clothes lay discarded in a pile that didn't quite reach her hamper. It was obvious that she had bigger things on her mind.

"Enlighten me," he answered, his mouth a hard line as her rage seemed to seep into his own body.

"Josh figured out real quick what every other guy who's ever been with me knows. I'm nothing special. Dispensable, forgettable Brooke Davis. I'm an awesome placeholder until the girl you really love, or a sluttier size two, walks by. But oh no, never a real relationship," her words were mocking, but the pain in her eyes was very real. "God, I'm so stupid."

Lucas watched in shock as she crumbled onto her bed, the tears beginning to pour once again. Entire years seemed to melt away. He was a junior again; too shocked to be turned on that the most beautiful of the cheerleaders was naked in his backseat. He was a senior; a box of letters was thrust into his chest as the love of his life walked off his porch, now familiar tears marring her perfect complexion.

"You're not stupid, Brooke," Lucas said, swallowing harshly around the lump in his throat. "And you're definitely not forgettable."

"You didn't seem to have any trouble doing it," she sniffed, and he realized just how drunk she was. It didn't stop him from moving closer to her—the magnetic pull she had always had on him, that he thought had broken, was back in full force.

"I'm the stupid one, Brooke. And so is Josh, and any other guy that's ever passed on you. You're too good for them. You were too good for me," he said, and she looked up as he sat beside her on the bed. "But don't ever think that I didn't love you, Brooke Davis. Because I did. I do. I always will."

The words had barely escaped his lips before hers crashed down upon them, and they tumbled across the comforter, limbs entwined as their tongues battled. He hadn't realized quite how much he missed her until she'd come barreling through her own front door earlier, and now he just couldn't get enough of her. It was a mystery to him that he'd ever been able to turn his back on Brooke Davis.

"Luke, Luke! What about Peyton?" Brooke pushed his head away from hers, by only an inch but it felt like a mile.

Ah. That was how.

"Doesn't matter," he answered, desperately attaching his lips to any part of her that he could get to. "It's you and me, Brooke. That's how it's always supposed to be. People who are meant to be together, remember?"

"I remember," she said, tears welling in her eyes.

"That's us, Brooke. It's taken us so long to realize it, but we're meant to be together," his eyes pleaded with her, and she was powerless to resist. He believed it, too. It was astounding to him that less than an hour before, he had been daydreaming of cuddling with Peyton on the sofa. He supposed that was the difference that his heart had always been trying to tell him—he was happy to be near Peyton, but he needed to be with Brooke. It was never enough to bask in her light when you could be basking in her warmth instead.

He could never get enough.


2007

Not looking for reason, not trying to understand

Not trying to catch your eye, not trying to touch your hand

Not trying to show you a part of me no one else can find

But I will bring a song to you, who will buy my time?

The people get philosophical and say there is no future

I am trying to tear myself away from your eyes

The people get philosophical and say there is no future

Nothing is as blinding as your eyes

"Luke, you coming, man?" Nathan asked, his arm latched firmly around his wife's waist. Haley James Scott herself fluttered about, exchanging hugs with everyone that passed and congratulating everyone wearing a matching cap and gown. Nathan himself could barely contain his grin, and the faces of everyone around mirrored his—triumph, joy, perhaps a tinge of sadness. The graduation ceremonies had ended. Tree Hill High, the place that had bound them all together, was now just a monument of their past. Now all that was left were the parties, and then they would all go their separate ways.

He, Nathan and Haley would be together, and that's what really mattered. They were family, and nothing should ever come between them. The James family, along with Nathan and Lucas's own mothers were gathered around, crying and laughing as they looked on with pride. Larry Sawyer had his only daughter wrapped in a bear hug. Even after becoming popular and having his life turned upside down in junior year, Lucas Scott had kept a small circle of close friends, and there was someone missing from this picture.

"Yeah, definitely. I'll be there in a little bit, there's something I've got to do."

Lucas wandered away from the crowds, slipping virtually unnoticed through the commotion. Eventually, he found the doors to the gym, cracked open just the slightest bit. Opening the heavy double doors, for what might be the last time, Luke walked inside, and found a single figure sitting against the bleachers.

"What on Earth are you doing in here, Pretty Girl?" he asked, confusion evident in his tone. He knew that he was bound to find someone waxing nostalgic in the gymnasium where the Ravens had played their home games, but the last person he would have guessed to find there would be head cheerleader Brooke Davis.

"You're not the only one that's spent some of the best times of your life in here, Lucas Scott," she answered cheekily, her eyes looking suspiciously moist. "God, I'm gonna miss this place."

Lucas hopped up beside her on the bleachers, nudging her shoulder playfully with his own. Not for the first time, he found himself overwhelmingly grateful that he and Brooke had managed to become friends after he started to date Peyton. Sometimes he wondered what his life would be like if he had chosen differently, but he knew that either way, he would be forever tied to two of the greatest girls he could ever hope to meet. There was no point in looking back when there was so much ahead of them.

"So am I. But I'm supposed to. I'm Broody, remember?"

"How could I forget? I'm the genius behind that one," she smiled brightly at him, laughing a little.

"You're quite a girl," he added, his voice much sincerer than hers, and Brooke leaned her head onto his shoulder.

"I'm really glad I met you, Lucas. I just can't believe all this is over," Brooke sighed. "I'm so nervous. I try not to show it, but I am. I liked high school. I was good at high school."

"Nobody could hope to be better," he laughed a little. "You coming to the party?"

"It's not a party if I'm not there," she scoffed playfully.

"You want a ride?" he asked hopefully.

"Nah, I'm good. I just want to sit here for a little while longer. I'll see you over there," she promised, but they both knew it was hollow. Once they arrived at the party, Lucas would be glued to Peyton, and Brooke would float among her adoring subjects in one of her last acts as Queen of their high school.

"Alright," he said, and began to walk away. His footsteps sounded abnormally loud, their black soles scoffing at the glossy hard wood. At the last second, he turned around. "Brooke—call me some time."

She smiled slowly, and it lit up the room. "Count on it."

Lucas Scott left the Whitey Durham Gymnasium for the last time with small bubbles of hope rising in his chest. He knew that there was no way to predict the future, but with his brother, his best friend, his girlfriend, and a girl who he suspected would change the world at his side, it couldn't be all bad. He knew they'd stick together, but he couldn't help but be relieved at the feeling that he'd be seeing a lot more of Brooke Davis.

He couldn't know how right he was.

Not looking for an ending to make the pieces fit

Need is always pending on how much you can get


Thanks for reading.