A/N: Umm, yes I realize this is not an update to A Love Story, but this oneshot has been burrowed in my head for quite some time. I have a strange affection for writing Lucas as an ass and Nathan as Peyton's knight in shining armor (See oneshot: Time Still Exists). Anyways, I read Wildly Obsessed's Pathan oneshot, I realized that it's okayfor an LPer to branch out during these times of Lucas being...well Lucas.
This is not exactly a romantic Pathan story. It's just them bonding and angsting together. There's a teensy bit of negativity towards Lucas and Haley, but that par for the course with the subject. We're set 5 years in the future, and Lucas did marry Lindsey (that bastard...).
Disclaimer: I don't own One Tree Hill or the song Same Script, Different Cast by Whitney Houston and Debra Cox.
Same Script, Different Cast
Sometimes Peyton wonders if her life is just stuck on repeat. It's like Groundhog's Day, only instead of the same day, she's doomed to repeat the same months or years. There are days where she wakes up and thinks she's still in high school, as though nothing has changed.
It's on those days that she pulls out her old converses and leather jacket and heads over to Rivercourt. The place is all but deserted nowadays. The few stragglers who participate in a pick up game hardly notice her crying on the embankment near the river. When she looks at that river she muses about how much of it is forged from her tears and how much of it is actually river water.
She's so fucking sick of crying, and so sick of feeling sorry for herself. And so sick. Period. Amen. Done.
She wishes it were that easy. Declare it done and move on. But, it's like Groundhog's Day. Every time she thinks it's over, it starts again.
Sometimes Nathan feels as if his life is moving too fast. It's like that movie Click with Adam Sandler. Large chunks of his life have just been sped over, especially within this past decade. There are days where he wakes up and wonders what happened to high school? When had everything changed?
It's on those days that he goes for a walk; sometimes he takes Jamie with him, if Haley doesn't have him for the week. But on the days he's alone, he always stops by Rivercourt. Sometimes, it's so he can join a pick up game with the guys there. But mostly, it's to check on Peyton. He's noticed she comes here to cry. It's not inconspicuous, but he thinks maybe Peyton doesn't care who sees her anymore.
She must be sick of crying by now. She probably wishes that the heartbreak would just go away. But, he knows it will always be there.
He's talking from experience.
Boy meets girl. Boy loses girl. Boy goes after girl. Girl and boy live happily ever after. Cue the sparkly handwritten "the end" and the peaceful music. The lights go on and everyone goes home with a smile on their face. Peyton sits in the theater, watches as everyone clears out, content and carefree over the movie's ending.
People were so stupid if they thought that was a happy ending. No, a truly happy ending would be if girl slapped boy upside the face when he said he was sorry and girl learned that she didn't need boy to make her happy. Now, there was something unique.
Who wants unique though when you can have cliché? Cliché will pay the bills. Cliché is the master of deception. Cliché is also Peyton Sawyer's best friend (don't tell Brooke that though), and Cliché has been ruling Peyton's life for as long as Peyton could remember. Illusions of Grand Adour. God bless 'em.
Suddenly the popcorn feels like it's cutting at the back of her throat. Peyton throws the almost empty bucket in the seat next to her and storms out. The price of admission was hardly worth the price of her own admission.
Nathan looks up at the marquee on the movie theater. The Triumph of Love. He laughs at the absurdity of the title, but the smile's gone when he sees Peyton exit the theater with a grimace. Must have been a really crappy movie.
His name is Lucas Scott and he is everywhere in this damn town. It seems like every time she turns a corner she catches him, all sincere smiles and flattery, chatting up the townswomen with his natural southern charm. Dan Scott, incarnated.
She likes to slip that into conversation with him as much as possible. It's always subtle, but it stings just enough for his eyes to flicker and his smile to fade and for just a moment she thinks she's hurt him about as much as he hurts her on a daily basis. But it never lasts because he's got enough of an ego to keep his spirits high and by the end of the day he's back to smiling at full force.
God, if she didn't love him so much, she would bury him six feet under without a second thought. Is it cliché to say you hate someone as much as you love them? Probably, but it's okay. Peyton isn't best friends with Cliché for nothing.
Her name is Haley James and she is nowhere to be found. It seems Nathan can only find her when she's dropping off Jamie. Otherwise, she disappears into the house they once shared, not to be seen until she has to pick Jamie up again. It's not just him who doesn't see her. Brooke let it slip that she's basically sticking to work and Jamie. There's no room for anyone else.
Nathan wonders if she hides from the town because she's ashamed or regretful. Any sign of what she's feeling would be welcomed. But, Haley is like a closed book now, empty of any emotion other than love for Jamie. It makes him sick. It's not the girl he fell in love with. It's not the wife he married.
But people change.
"I brought you food."
"Thank you?" she lets the question hang as she opens the door just enough for him to slide by. She has to keep boundaries even if they're meaningless.
"How you feeling?"
Angry. Bitter. Crappy. Depressed. Examinant. She probably has a word for every letter for the alphabet, but she settles on—
"Fine." Blatant lie.
"I was at work and I happened to notice the day-"
Of course, he does. He always does. He's caring and compassionate and loving. The perfect man.
"Yeah well I'm not suicidal. You can just truck on home." She gestures half heartedly with her thumb towards the door.
He doesn't budge (when did he ever?). It's always about what Lucas wants, what's best for him and his sanity. It's not that he doesn't care, maybe he does and maybe he doesn't, but it's more that he wants too much. He has Dan's ambition and Karen's good heart and they're always fighting battling beneath the surface.
Dan's an ass, but everyone knows it. They know to be weary around him. With Lucas, it's not that simple. No one can deny him because he's Karen Roe's son, and at the same time, he draws people to him because he's the spawn of Dan Scott. A catch-22.
His voice is smooth and saccharine, and it lures her into his embrace just like he intends it to. She wonders idly within the hold, if he realizes that she's not here willingly. If he knows that she'd give her soul to break the hold he has on her. She wants to walk away, prays for it every day, and gets nowhere.
Maybe he knows and maybe he doesn't. But when he tilts his head to kiss her, Peyton knows it doesn't matter either way.
Nathan is just back from his evening run when he notices the date on the calendar. The anniversary of Ellie's death. He frowns, scratching his head. He should go visit Peyton, check up on her like he's gotten used to doing lately. Maybe he'll bring her some food too, because God knows she doesn't eat when Brooke's out of town.
He decides to skip bringing the food; instead maybe he'll take her out and risk having the gossip mill start churning again. Last time, he took her out for her birthday and everyone assumed they were an item. Haley had been especially snippy to him after that.
Lucas wouldn't even look at him. Even with that golden band around his finger, Lucas still thinks that Peyton is his. He had lectured Nathan about trying to get his family back; told him that Haley would forgive him if he just tried hard enough to get her back.
His big brother is a hypocrite and a terrible husband. If Lucas thinks that the way to be a good husband is to pretend that he was nothing but happy with Haley, then he's wrong.
But apparently, it's unacceptable for Nathan or Peyton to move on. Apparently, they're supposed to spend their lives pining for Haley and Lucas because it makes Haley and Lucas feel better. It's always what those two want, isn't it?
Nathan was never good at taking orders.
He should be surprised to find Lucas' car outside Peyton's house, but he's not. Lucas is drawn to Peyton, like a moth to a flame. He knows it's not healthy for either of them to be around each other. He knows that Peyton hurts because Lucas won't let go. Just like he hurts because Haley let go too soon.
In the end, he guesses it all just hurts the same.
He doesn't bother knocking at the door, just opens it with the key Brooke gave him. In the few seconds before they notice him, he catches a glimpse of their lips brushing. Then when his presence is known he sees Lucas jump back about twenty feet, his eyes snapping towards the intruder and his cheeks red with shame. Peyton for her part looks unaffected, but being Lucas Scott's mistress has been her job long enough for her to accept it.
"Nate," Lucas says, "What are you doing here?"
Nathan is too busy looking at Peyton, seeing the helplessness in her eyes. It reaches out to him, tugs at his heartstrings. He gets it, he does. All too much, and he can't help but want to help her out.
"You didn't tell him?" Nathan says, furrowing his eyebrows. He's gotten good at acting.
"Tell me what," Lucas says cautiously, as if the words might break him.
"Peyton and I have plans tonight." His tone is careless, leaving Lucas wondering if the plans he speaks of are romantic in nature or just friendly.
In truth, there are no plans. Lucas turns to look at Peyton and she gives a halfhearted smile. It's still more genuine than anything she's given Lucas lately. Lucas just sort of nods, reluctant to accept the brush off Peyton's giving him with her silence.
"Well, I'll get out of your hair then," Lucas says.
"Thanks man," Nathan grins, for once it's a smile not forced or coerced, and Peyton has to keep herself from chuckling at the interaction unfolding before her. As soon as Lucas is out the door, Peyton lets it out and soon Nathan joins her in laughter.
"What was that for?"
"It looked like you needed my help."
"Yeah," Peyton admits as her chuckles die down, "I did." She eyes the bag still sitting on her coffee room table. "Looks like dinner's on Lucas."
"Awesome." Nathan extends an arm to Peyton and she accepts it as they settle down on the back porch to eat.
Nathan Scott, Peyton Sawyer's knight in shining armor. Who would have thought that one up?
They eat in silence, a common practice for the pair. It's not that they have nothing to talk about; it's more that there's not much to say that hasn't already been said. They've been through it all these past five years; Nathan watching Peyton cope at a distance and Peyton feeling his gaze even when he's not there.
It's strange how much they understand each other. Their situations are so different and yet, they feel the same, stuck in a rut, as the whole world moves around them, backwards for Peyton, forwards for Nathan.
"This is good food," Nathan says, finally breaking the silence.
"Yeah well I guess the least Lucas could do was buy me a sandwich before he fucks me," Peyton says, the careless smirk haunts her face.
Peyton loves the fact that with Nathan she doesn't have to pretend. She hasn't told Brooke that she's sleeping with Lucas for the obvious reason that fidelity is one of the few things Brooke will always stand by, and Peyton's helping Lucas tear it to shreds.
Nathan was always faithful to Haley, even when he was faced with situations that most men would crumble under, but that doesn't mean he sees anything in fidelity. He was faithful because he didn't want anyone but Haley. There was no greater moral code etched in his mind. And so he's okay with what Peyton does because he's never been one to judge.
"He's a character, isn't he?" Nathan says, "He gave me another lecture yesterday about my marriage…"
"You mean the one that's been over for five years?"
"According to Lucas, it's never over. When you promise someone forever, it has to mean something." Nathan takes a long sip of his beer. "Can you believe that?"
"If Lucas believed that, I'd be wearing his wedding ring," Peyton says softly, as she fiddles with the necklace Lucas gave her for her 18th birthday. It's the closest thing to a commitment she would ever accept from him.
"You're the one who said no."
"And you said always and forever," Peyton shoots back, before downing her beer.
"We both made mistakes," Nathan shrugs.
"You made a mistake. I didn't," Peyton says firmly, "If I had married Lucas, Lord knows who he would have found to be his mistress then."
Nathan pauses mid sip as if contemplating the notion before he responds, his voice low, but confident. "No one. You'd both have your two-story house with the white picket fence and a handful of kids. And we wouldn't be out here drinking. You'd be giving me the same sad worn out speech Lucas is."
"Are you trying to hurt me?" she says behind tired, played out eyes, and he knows she doesn't mean it. He can't hurt her when there's nothing left to hurt.
"No, I'm trying to be honest. Your perspective changes when you've been here."
"I guess," Peyton whispers, taking a moment to admire the stars above her.
Nathan watches her idly from his spot next to her. The crease of her brow, the jut of her jaw, they all look prominent in the moonlight. Her bottom lip has been drawn into her mouth, clutched between her teeth as she star gazes, as her spirit breaks and bends with each new day. Every day she grows older, Peyton looks more striking, as if the misery feeds her beauty.
"You think it'll get better?" Peyton asks, shaking Nathan from his trance. Blue eyes meet green and for a moment, there's nothing but two people at a crossroads. Acceptance and determination.
"I don't know."
This moment, perfect as it might be, is both heaven and hell.
By the time Nathan and Peyton figure out which it truly is, it'll have changed; skipped forward, or gone back to the beginning.
Like Groundhog's Day or Click.
Only not in the least bit funny.