Title: Highway
Rating: Mature (language, vague porny leanings)
Pairing: Brooke/Peyton
Genre: Romance, Drama, Humor
Disclaimer: Do I look like I own 'em?
Timeline: Sequel to Comedy of Errors!
Teaser: One month of driving leads to a nerve-wracking but still effective emotional journey for a sexually-confused Brooke Davis and an emotionally fragile Peyton Sawyer. Along the way, they'll be helped and hampered by a handful of craziness that can't be defined as an ever-loyal Mouth holds down the home fort against spreading rumors - and a window, in the end, provides the final piece.

-

Prologue

Four and a half months after graduation, Peyton finally got the call she had been waiting for.

She spent the rest of that night processing the offer, what it could give her if she was just willing to fight for it. Legs tucked against her and shaking, she suffered under the weight of her fear, paralyzing in the dim light of her bedside lamp. Good things, he had told her, were available to those who took the risk and— and she wanted someone like him right now in her corner, supporting her, assuring her that, no, the world was not as bad as she thought it was.

The decision, she finally realized, had been made even before he finished his explanation.

There was a good community college there, for when Peyton decided she was ready to go, and she had seen the house, warm and welcoming if only a bit empty but there was a yard and even a tire swing and how could anyone say no to a tire swing? It could be home, she knew, could be what she had been looking for the last months with a growing desperation, dodging every sign of dark hair or crooked grin. He had even offered a pet of her choosing, as long as it wasn't a hamster.

Maybe a puppy, or a dog?

They would have the yard for it.

He wanted a home as much as she did, recovering as he was, and he seemed helpless, the way his voice had sounded on the phone. She had recognized the quality and felt a bitter kind of laughter bubble in her— they had apparently inherited their mother's way of coping with depression. They were both alone, and while Lucas was still attempting to assure her in his clumsy but sincere way that not wanting to have sex with him was natural, she didn't fool herself into thinking he cared the way he thought he did.

She wanted Brooke but then Brooke was the very root of her current breakdown.

Going to Brooke was no longer an option for Peyton.

But letting her wounded brother take care of her heart?

Where was home, anyway, when your heart was broken?

This, she finally accepted, was the only option she had left.

-

Brooke Davis remembered the promise she had made when Peyton's mother had died.

She'd been thrown by it, by the idea that someone could be there one day and then not there the next, as if they had never existed in the first place. Yet, thrown as she was, frightened as she was, she had known her place, curling her arms around Peyton as if she actually was strong enough to make the Bad Things simply go away. It was easier said than done and the promise, exacted as they cuddled together in a bed under blankets and teddy bears remained the one thing she had never been able to let go of.

It had been her promise, to take care of Peyton, to protect her from hurt and pain and things that shouldn't touch Peyton in the first place. It was, she had known even then, a stupid thing to promise, a ridiculous thing to swear to a little girl crying for her mother, but it was unshakable, the knowledge of what she wished she could do. And just because she couldn't protect Peyton from Life, didn't mean her heart didn't ache for her to be able to.

And then horrible awful things had happened that led to Peyton looking at her like that, heart in her eyes and voice breaking and that, in the end, had crushed her, weakened her beneath the force of her failure at keeping Peyton's heart safe. It was sharp and cutting, the realization of it, left her shaken as she scrambled to figure out how the world worked now that the world itself was different, now that she was the reason for that shattered look in her friend's eyes.

Hindsight, damn it, actually was 20/20.

And as much as she'd like to say that it was all Lucas' fault, and as much as part of it was his fault, there was too much of it that she could trace back to her own wounded pride and her own desperate attempt to save whatever part of it she could. It stung, that years of trust could suddenly mean nothing, but it stung even more that those years of trust would be destroyed for someone like Lucas, of all people. All at once, things had only gotten worse, too fast to get her balance, and in the end, she'd been a scared young woman in a waiting room hoping for something, anything, other than this… nothing she found herself tangled in.

Peyton had pushed, and she had taken it, well, like a girl, dropping back and waiting, trying to be good girl.

And, by the way, since when the Hell did Brooke Davis start trying to be a good girl?

Honestly, how had she become so completely unlike herself?

And how had she gone so long without even realizing it?

Brooke truly didn't know what she wanted with Peyton now, not these days, when the nights missing her friend had made her think of things. Of how many times she'd held her and never really felt her, remembering breath against her neck and arms that hooked around her so tightly she was sure Peyton would never let go, of how it felt when they decided to watch cartoons on Saturday morning, legs tangling up neatly with hers. And other things, things she wasn't brave enough to think about yet, not when she felt so raw in her desperation to formulate a plan to fix everything.

What Brooke Davis wanted, she got, right?

And if she wanted Peyton back, she would get Peyton back, right?

Yeah, sure, it sounded easy enough, but actually managing to pull it off?

The idea of attempting anything and only making anything worse made that knot in her middle tighten even more, and she scowled the smallest bit, biting the inside of one cheek. Peyton looked mellow enough, sitting on the other bed in her pajamas and working her way through a pint of cookie dough ice cream they had grabbed before coming to the hotel room, but the hand that gripped the spoon looked a bit white-knuckled from where Brooke was, laid out silently in the other bed and watching.

There was clearly something wrong with the universe, when they could barely make eye contact.

She took in Peyton again, gnawing her lip as she pondered the predicament at hand, weighed her options, how long they had until they got to San Francisco, especially if she should want to stop at a few places. Peyton didn't seem to be in a rush, and kept staring at her when she looked away. As soon as she glanced back, however, Peyton would go back to whatever she had been fiddling with before, as if nothing had happened.

It was getting to be annoying, especially since Peyton ignored most of Brooke's attempts to get her talking.

This holding pattern was getting to be the bane of Brooke's road trip existence.

But, still, she was Brooke Davis damn it…

And so, finding herself suddenly feeling refreshed, Brooke studied her again, took her in, watching as she nibbled on her ice cream and watched Conan on mute. She looked tense, looked tightly wound, and why shouldn't she, after the last year, really? Curling fingers into her pillow, Brooke went back to her restless gnawing, slowly nodding to herself as she came to her decision.

They could figure out the semantics of what they wanted to be later, after they got back to where they had been…

What Brooke Davis wanted, she got, right?

-

I'm amazed and delighted by the feedback I recieved for Comedy of Errors, and, yep, here we go into the second part of the epic journey of the Breyton - there will of course be some angst, but a good amount of humor that I think (hope) will help balance everything else out, heh. So, basically, just enjoy yourselves, )