Author's Note: I was on a serious adrenaline rush after watching the season finale last night. So, to avoid doing something productive, and to get it out of my system, I wrote this. Let's just pretend Lucas called all three girls instead of just one for the sake of the story. This is how that scene, and a few deleted ones before it, would have played out if I owned One Tree Hill. Excuse the ending. It was late, and I was just sort of like 'okay! Done!' So it's a little strange. But whatever.
Disclaimer: I do not own One Tree Hill or its characters. I am only responsible for their fictional corruption.
When the phone rings, she jumps a little in her seat. The people around her probably think she's unstable. The soft vibration-and-ring combination of her phone is enough to set her over the edge. But it's not just any ringtone. It was the one she'd specifically set to go off whenever Lucas called her, all those months ago. She fumbles with it for a moment before flipping it open instantly. She'd left a message. He was responding. It was the way they did things. They played phone tag. "Hello?" She murmurs breathlessly.
The other end is silent. She blinks, pulling the phone back and staring at the display. The timer is clearly recording the minutes she's on the phone, and the seconds are slowly ticking by. It's killing her, sitting here with the phone pressed to her ear, desperately waiting and hoping to hear his voice. "I know it's you, Lucas." Her voice is soft, barely able to be heard over the dull murmur of the airport behind her.
She almost hangs up after two straight minutes of silence, she wills herself to do it, to just be done with it all. But she knows she can't, she knows she won't be able to let go so easily. She has to hear him say it. She has to hear his voice tell her it's over. She was never one to leave a relationship without closure. With Lucas, there definitely was no closure (at least on his part; she made her part very clear, at least until her previous phone call).
"Lindsay?" His voice finally breaks over the quiet, and she lets out a sigh of relief. So things aren't completely lost with them. He's still speaking to her. That's a plus, right? "Are you there?" She's painfully aware of how exhausted his voice sounds, how rough it is.
"I'm here," she murmurs, her voice barely above a whisper. She pauses, waiting. He doesn't respond. "You called me," she points out bluntly.
"You called me first," he replies. She can't help but let an involuntary smile appear on her lips as she shifts the phone to her other ear. Even if his voice sounds tired and drained, his banter still comes out the same. The Lucas Scott she knows is still in there somewhere.
"I did." She takes a deep breath. "And I meant what I said, Lucas. I was –am- scared. I care about you so much, and I'm scared to put myself out there because I don't know if you're all there. But if you are ready and willing to move past all of this, I'm ready, too. I am. I can see past the Peyton thing and the comet thing and everything. Because it's you, Lucas. It's you. I love you." She says this all very fast, so it comes out as one very long and slurred sentence. There is silence for a minute, and she thinks he might not have understood her and she might have to repeat the entire thing. "Please don't make me say it again." Her voice cracks as she gives a forced laugh.
"I heard you," he mumbles, and she notes a distinct change in his tone. He's more alert now, and she can sense a hint of something hidden behind those three words. But what is it? Sadness? Indecision? Regret? Maybe it's a little of all three. When he speaks again, his tone shifts to one she's heard only once before. He's definitely sad; she can tell by the way his voice cracks halfway through. But there's no indecision there. He seems very sure. And regret? If anyone knows anything about regret it's Lucas Scott. "I'm sorry, Lindsay. I can't."
"I understand," she says, but she really doesn't. There's no way to truly understand why someone you love doesn't love you back. But you learn to deal with it. "It's not an epic love story, right?"
"I want you to change the dedication," he says suddenly, stopping her from hanging up the phone.
"Change it. I want to dedicate it to you."
"What?" She echoes, obviously confused. "Why?"
"Because. Without you, I never would have written it. It never would have gotten finished. And, because I do love you, Lindsay. It's just…"
"We're not an epic love story."
He pauses. "No, that's not it. I just…"
"Lindsay? You'll change it?"
"Fine, but won't it give Peyton the wrong idea?"
She hangs up.
He stares blankly down at the display of his phone. One down, two to go.
When the phone rings, she doesn't answer. She doesn't answer because she's on the other line, and she doesn't bother to flip over to see who's calling her. If she would have, she would have seen it was Lucas, and she probably would have utilized her call waiting, even just for a moment. But as it is, she doesn't, so he's left with her voicemail.
He closes his eyes when he hears this. It feels very cheap and very wrong to just leave a voicemail and walk away. He already knows he's a coward for not saying these things face to face. With Lindsay, he'd consoled himself with the fact that she was probably on a plane back to California by now (unaware to him, she's in the very same airport). He knows he should have just said it to her face, but he really can't bring himself to do it. Because every damn time he looks into those eyes, he falls back into their pattern.
Their pattern is simple. He finds someone or something that truly makes him happy. At that point, she waltzes back into his life. And then everything around him comes crashing down. Whatever life he's made is destroyed in her path. Whatever walls he's managed to build up to protect himself come crashing down when she's around. But in the end, the only thing that happens when she comes to town is a whole lot of heartache on both ends of the spectrum. She wants him. He's taken. But he still wants her. So they go for it. But then he breaks some poor girl's heart, and inevitably his own heart gets broken in the process.
And then there's this girl, who's always waiting for him. So he'll go back to her, because she's his constant. He loves her, he really does. But he doesn't know if he can let that happen again. He doesn't know if he's built up this life (what life?) just to let it all come crashing down again. He doesn't know if he wants to start over. In short, Lucas Scott is still completely indecisive.
So he hangs up.
But when his phone rings two minutes later, and her name flashes on the caller ID, he's sure. He's sure that what he wants isn't that lifestyle. He can't fall back into that vicious cycle again, no matter how much his heart aches for her sometimes. The truth is a part of him still wants her. It probably always will. But a bigger part, a stronger part, is telling him he needs to get over this. He needs to break this cycle, because it's not healthy for either of them. "Hello?" He murmurs breathlessly.
The other end is silent. He blinks, pulling the phone back and staring at the display. The timer is clearly recording the minutes he's on the phone, and the seconds are slowly ticking by. It's killing him, sitting here with the phone pressed to his ear, desperately waiting and hoping to hear her voice. "I know it's you." His voice is soft, barely able to be heard over the dull murmur of the airport behind him.
She almost hangs up after two straight minutes of silence, she wills herself to do it, to just be done with it all. But she knows she can't, she knows she won't be able to let go so easily. She has to hear him say it. She has to hear his voice tell her it's over. She was never one to leave a relationship without closure. She needed to hear his voice as long as possible. And she knows he won't hang up either, because he can't end it that way. He's not that kind of man.
"Fine, okay. You don't want to talk? I'll talk." Her heart breaks at the resigned tone to his voice. He sounds so sure, and yet, she can sense something else behind his tone. What is it? Sadness? Indecision? Regret? Maybe it's a little bit of all three. When he speaks again, she can hear the way he pauses, taking deep breaths. She can almost feel the regret he has about leaving her. But there's no indecision there. His voice is strong. "I can't do this anymore. I love you, and a part of me probably always will. But these circles we're running around each other? I can't. I'm done."
She doesn't speak. He inhales deeply. "Are you there?" He asks desperately. "Please don't make me say it again." He forces a laugh.
"I heard you," she mutters. "I don't understand," she says, but she really does. There's someone else. There always was and always will be. And even though she knows he's moved on, it still hurts. "We're an epic love story."
"Yeah," he agrees. "But this isn't fiction. This is life."
"I love you, Lucas." Her voice falters. He can hear the tears she's trying to hide. "I always will."
"Listen," he says, "I can't do this thing with you again."
She nods and then remembers he can't see her. "Okay." But it's not okay. It's really not.
She hangs up first.
He sighs. This is starting to become a pattern.
When the phone rings, she really hopes it's him. See, the thing is, he's the only one that can keep her together these days. Even her best friend can't console her, because she's being all sulky. It's like she's channeling her teenage self. But, that's not a new thing for them. She's starting to think she's channeling her own teenage self, because she's never been as dependent on anyone since…well, since she was so dependent on him the last time. She answers after only one ring. "Hello?"
He's relieved to know that she's not avoiding him like Peyton, and it eases his mind to know that when he hears her voice, he doesn't want to avoid her, either. "Hi," he replies quietly. Silence settles over them. But it's a comfortable sort of silence, the kind that two people can share and still be okay. It's not awkward silence and it's not angry silence. It's just…quiet. He needs his quiet sometimes, and he knows she does, too, even if she hates being alone.
"Hi," she echoes lamely, her voice slightly rough from what he can only assume is crying. It sort of hurts to know he left her there alone, when he knows she hates being alone, and he knows she needed him there to console her. But he had to make his rounds then. And he's doing the same thing now. "Did you call me just to say 'hi' or do you have something important to say?" She jokes, but he can tell behind the humor she's serious.
He tries to ignore the way his stomach seems to knot up when he opens his mouth to speak. For the first time all night, he finds himself speechless. He's a best-selling author. He can come up with brilliant words of wisdom for pep talks and amazing speeches on the spot. And yet he still can't find the words to say to her to let her know what he's feeling. For the first time in his life, he's completely speechless. He opens his mouth again, but only a heavy sigh escapes his lips.
She doesn't think of hanging up on him. First of all, it would be extremely rude. And secondly, he called her. That means he has something to say to her, something important. She shifts the phone to her other ear and breaks the silence, pulling him out of his thoughts. "You know, Lucas Scott, I've heard enough of your speeches that this can never live up to them. So don't even bother."
Strangely, that seems to jolt him out of his daze. Before he even realizes what he's asking, the words are escaping his mouth, as if his brain didn't tell him to say them. "I've got two tickets to Las Vegas." Which is true. They're sitting in his clenched fist. "Do you wanna get married tonight?" As soon as the words leave his mouth he's stunned. He's not so sure that's exactly how he wanted to do this. He'd wanted to ask her to come, and then give her a real proposal, not blurt it out like some impulsive idiot (which, he's guilty of, on all counts).
When he speaks, she doesn't sense sadness or indecision or regret. All she hears is his voice that night in New York ringing in her ears. And then he says it, to break the stillness that's settled over them. "I want us to be together forever." He pauses. "I'm the guy for you, Brooke Davis."
Her breath catches in her throat. She's waited so long to hear those words come out of his mouth, desperately clinging to a single shred of hope. "It's you. It's always been you." But the longer he sits in the silence, the more he's starting to think that girls rejecting his proposals (or leaving him at the altar) is becoming a pattern, too.
But her voice breaks through the deafening silence. "Yes," she mutters, exasperated.
"What?" He mutters, confused.
"Yes!" She echoes her voice cracking as she speaks. "I love you, Lucas Scott." Her breath finally returns so she can speak. "I think I always have, deep down."
He just grins. "I love you, too, Pretty Girl." A pause. "So, are you coming? Our flight leaves in half an hour."
"I'll be there in ten minutes."