A/N: SOOOOOO SORRY!!! Life just got in the way. But here you go!! The next chapter to this amazing story. I really love and enjoy writing this, so does Heather. Think of this chapter like the calming BEFORE the storm.
A/N2: Also, I could not for the life of me find Jason's last name so for the sake of this update and the fact I ate too much today (Happy Thanksgiving you all by the way!!) I named him Jason Stone. I thought it suited.

Hush, Hush
Decode
Chapter Seven

"Has she gotten any better?" Nathan asked.

Brooke sat up and discreetly wiped the drool off her cheek. "Um, well I don't know a lot about doctor talk, they had to basically put it through the Brooke Davis filter but she is still the same; not getting worse but also not getting better." Brooke shrugged and pushed a small smile over her face to convince Nathan she was fine.

Nathan nodded and walked over to an unconscious Peyton and pushed some matted curls behind her ear. "This sucks." He declared softly as he sat down in a chair nearby.

Brooke sighed. "Everything sucks." She added. "Lucas is marrying Lindsey and Peyton doesn't even know it." She threw her head into her hands as her elbows rested on her knees.

Nathan felt horrible fro Brooke. She looked tired and sad and lethargic. "Why don't you go home and rest? I can stay here while you're gone." Nathan offered.

"No," She shook her head firmly. "I can't. I won't. She needs me."

"Brooke," Nathan argued.

"Nathan," Brooke countered.

Nathan could tell Brooke was serious. "Okay, how about Haley goes to your place and grabs some clean clothes?" He kindly suggested.

She nodded and went back to staring at Peyton, wishing she'd wake up.

--

"Come on sugar bee," Haley held out her hand. Jamie was playing at the play ground when Nathan called her about Brooke.

"But I was playing cowboys and Indians with the boys!" Jamie pouted.

Haley laughed. "Call you later Skills, Fergie, Junk," She waved to her ridiculous friends and walked to the car, Jamie in hand. "We'll come back later, I promise." She smiled and watched Jamie climb into the back seat.

"Where are we going Momma?" He asked as he buckled himself in.

Haley started the car and looked in the rearview mirror at her son. "We're going to Auntie Brooke and Auntie PeyPey's house." She smiled, knowing he loved that house.

"Yay!" He lifted his arms upwards in excitement. "Do you think there are cookies in that left cabinet?" He asked.

"How do you know that?" Haley asked her son, not knowing he too knew where hers and Brooke's secret stash of Thin Mints were.

"Brooke just tells me these things." He shrugged arms still in the air.

"Okay cheerleader, put 'em down so momma can back out of her parking spot."

Jamie scrunched up his nose. "Lilly says cheerleading is for girls."

"Lilly isn't always right." Haley retorted.

"You miiiiiiight wanna tell her that." Jamie frowned as he watched the scenery fly by.

Haley just laughed at her smart son.

As they were heading to their house, Haley couldn't hide the fact she was worried about her high school friend. But her gut told her that if anyone could pull out of this Peyton Sawyer could. Haley regretted being a bitch towards Peyton when she came home. Peyton didn't deserve any of that. If anyone knew how a broken heart felt it would be Haley. When she came back to Tree Hill after quitting the tour it was difficult to see Nathan so dethatched. She could only hope that Lucas came to his senses.

"Momma, you just past it." Jamie giggled.

Haley hit the brakes and backed up to the driveway. "Silly me." She laughed at herself.

Once in the house Haley heard several alarm clocks.

"What's that noise momma?" Jamie covered his ears.

"Alarm clocks. How about you run up to Peyton's room and shut hers off okay?" Haley patted his head and watched him run up the stairs. "Don't run!" She called back after him.

She laughed to herself and shook her head as she set her purse down on the kitchen counter before heading down the short hallway to Brooke's room. As she entered her fashionista friend's room she noticed off hand all the scattered clothing line sketches. She really does work hard, she thought to herself and began organizing everything up and packing her bag.

After spending ten fifteen minutes packing a bag for Brooke, Haley traveled up to the second floor where she found Jamie sitting on Peyton's bed looking at her sketches, the iPod on the dock was playing as well.

"Hey buddy," She spoke softly and walked over to the bed, joining him. She looked at the sketch Jamie was looking at. It was the sketch Peyton had drawn on her cast in the middle of their senior year. Peyton must have made a hard copy of it.

"Is that you momma?" Jamie looked up at his mother with bright eyes.

Haley nodded. "Yep," She answered.

"You were pretty!" Jamie exclaimed but then paused. "You're still pretty."

"I know what you mean bugger," She said as she ran her fingers through his blonde hair.

"Good." Jamie did a quick nod.

"How about we pack Peyton's bag now?" She sat up and closed the sketch book.

Jamie just nodded.

--

Lindsey was sitting on the counter, drinking some alcohol again. She couldn't the last time she had drank that much. Actually she could, it was the time right after her father past away and Lucas had been with her to drown her sorrows.

She couldn't ignore the sick feeling that was constantly churning her stomach every time she thought about Peyton in the hospital. And if she looked at something she'd somehow find a way to link it to Lucas, Peyton or Jason.

She thought about just running to the sheriff's department and telling them everything she knew but then that scared her. She could very well get charged with attempted murder or at least accomplice. Damn her and her Law and Order obsession.

She almost dropped her coffee mug at the sound of the front door shutting. Lucas must be home.

"Lindsey?" She heard him call.

Lindsey thought (hoped maybe too) that she could just disappear, like when the ground just opened up and swallowed people.

"Hey," He facial expressions were soft compared to the ones displayed previously. "Why didn't you call out?" He furrowed his brows.

Lindsey just shrugged.

"What's wrong?" He asked.

"What's wrong, hmm…" She pressed her palm against her temple, pulling it off seconds after. "Oh!" She showed an epiphany expression and a smile. "That's right, you walked out, never came home-again, I got a cheery talk from Haley, and then I basically drank my body weight in alcohol. So if you could not talk right now that would be great!"

"Maybe if you didn't go behind my back all the time I wouldn't have been so disgusted and I wouldn't have left!" Lucas threw his keys on the counter beside Lindsey and watching her flinch.

"Awesome! I now disappoint AND disgust you!" Lindsey glared and clapped her hands. "What can i do next?" She asked sarcastically.

Lucas rolled his eyes at how childish she was acting and turned around to walk to their bedroom.

"Walk away Scott; it's what you do best." Lindsey yelled then regretted doing so when her head fought back with a painful throb. "Shit," She rubbed her temples.

She jumped off the counter to rinse out her mug when she heard someone hit the outside wall of the kitchen in the hall. Her grasp on the mug and it shattered in the sink below her.

"You are not perfect," Lucas's voice was low as well as his head, as he spoke words so true they stung her heart and eyes. "You are a human being Lindsey, you've made mistakes, and you've regretted things. You have felt lost and scared and unaware." He paused and Lindsey feared what he would say next as she unknowingly held her breath for it. "Why can't you accept that of me?"

Lindsey just stood there, shaking slightly, as Lucas grabbed his keys again without looking at her and walked out of the house.

Once she heard his mustang start up and peel out of the drive way it was then she allowed herself to cry.

--

How can I decide what's right
When you're clouding up my mind?
I can't win your losing fight
All the time.

Lucas couldn't drive anymore so he parked his car on the side of the road in a familiar neighborhood and started walking.

With each stepped he took; he clenched his jaw and fists harder. He didn't know who he was trying to convince, himself or the world. He was head over heels for Peyton. Lindsey could never replace her; getting engaged was a mistake and a total jackassery move.

He messed up, there was no excuse for it, and now Peyton was unconscious in a hospital bed because of him. If he never had moved on, Peyton wouldn't have been crushed. If he was never a jerk to her around Lindsey, then she would have never written that letter which would have ultimately made her not need to deliver the letter. It was all indeed his fault.

Now who knows when Peyton would wake up so he could tell all that to her face.

He stood stiff as he knocked on a door.

"Lucas Scott," Whitey greeted from the other side of the screen door.

"I think I messed up," Lucas blurted.

"You think?" Whitey raised an eyebrow.

--

Not gonna ever own what's mine
When you're always taking sides?
But you won't take away my pride.
No, not this time.
Not this time.

Brooke was grateful for Haley, bringing her sketch book so she could at least finish her sketches for her new line called 'Baby Brooke'. Also the recent shower in Peyton's private bathroom and change of clothes was amazing as well.

Of course, every five minutes or so she would glance up at Peyton to check… just to check. She didn't know why but she felt she should.

She was a bit worried that Peyton's father hadn't shown or even gave a call back to the hospital. That would just go along with this suck fest disaster, her dad passing away as well.

She knew she shouldn't have caused such a scene with Lindsey but that woman needed to seriously be put in her place for once. "Seriously," She said to herself as she pressed hard on the red pencil in her hand.

"Talk to yourself much B. Davis?" Peyton mumbled groggily.

Brooke whipped her head upwards ad dropped her jaw in a 'what the hell' kind of way. "Peyton?"

Peyton laughed and did her best to sit up. "Have I been out that long?" She yawned, and then coughed.

"I should get a doctor," Brooke snapped out of her haze and went to push the sketches off her lap but she couldn't, because Jamie was on her lap.

Wait. Jamie is on my lap? WTF. She thought.

"Hey sleepy head. I apologize for him, he has become fascinated with artwork today. You should have seen him in Peyt's room earlier." Haley smiled at Brooke.

Brooke looked around and saw that Peyton was still in her come, lifeless, and Jamie was tracing the lines of her sketch, the sketchbook in his hands along with a bag. She bit her bottom lip and fought back tears.

"What's wrong Auntie Brooke?" Jamie looked down a little at his third favorite person in the world.

Brooke tried to bite down harder to fight the tears in front of Jamie, so young and naïve, but it didn't happen and she began crying freely, not bothering to wipe away the tears. "Aunt Brooke is just sad buddy."

"Why?" Jamie quirked his mouth.

"Well you how would you feel if Chester was sick and wouldn't wake up?"

Jamie looked down. "Pretty sad."

"That's how I feel right now. I miss my best friend." Brooke rested her temple against the top of Jamie's head and looked over at Haley with a sad, teary smile.

Jamie nodded and looked up at Brooke to wipe a tear away. "It might help to draw a picture for her when she wakes up! She likes art a lot. I am going to draw her something too."

Brooke smiled brighter and leaned against his forehead and closed her eyes.

--

How did we get here?
When I used to know you so well.
But how did we get here?
Well, I think I know.

Nathan never believed in the heavenly forces. He was never one to pray on his knees in front of his bed or say grace before eating dinner. There were no such things as angels or miracles. You were on your own in this life with help only from loved ones.

But desperate times calls for desperate measures right?

He knew Peyton would be laughing her ass off at the sight now even though he knew she came here often to talk but Peyton knew Nate like the back of her hand.

"Hey Anna, it is me, Nathan Scott. I dated your daughter during high school. We never met, I regret that. But hey look, I need you to work some magic up there and fix Peyton. Brooke's a mess, my son, Jamie, doesn't understand this and Lucas, well Luke is… he isn't doing so well. Everything is at an uproar and nothing is getting fixed." He looked at the smooth granite and stared at the words upon it.

--

The truth is hiding in your eyes
And it's hanging on your tongue.
Just boiling in my blood.
But you think that I can't see
What kind of man that you are,
If you're a man at all.

"Want something to drink?" Whitey asked as they walked into his living room. He rubbed his bald head and turned around. "Ice tea, water, or hows about some holy water?" Whitey's eyebrows curled in the way they did back in high school whenever he knew something before Lucas did.

"Now what is that suppose to mean Coach?" Lucas raised an eyebrow and sat down in the nearest chair.

"It means what it means." He shrugged. "So that is a no on the beverage?"

"Oh no I would like something with a kick in it." Lucas chuckled.

Whitey looked down at the boy he had coached not only in basketball but in life and nodded. "I suppose it is legal for you now. I will be right back."

Lucas just shook his head and laughed until Whitey was back with two bland colored green mugs and a full bottle of Jack Daniels in both his hands.

"So you are getting married I read." Whitey handed Lucas a mug and unscrewed the top of the Daniels. "Now how come I had to hear about it from black and white and not from the source? Just because I don't coach you anymore don't mean I am out of your life." Whitey pointed at him with his index finger.

"I am sorry Coach, life just got in the way." Lucas stared deeply into his mug before swishing it around and taking a drink of it.

"Life, or Peyton Sawyer?" Whitey said a few moments later.

Lucas's head snapped up at the words.

"Yeah, I am going to go with Sawyer getting into your head." He laughed and it was the same laugh Lucas could remember. Whitey hadn't changed at all. He pointed at Lucas again and smiled knowingly. "Yeah, that is the face of a man at a crossroad." He watched as Lucas wore a small, also knowingly, smile and dropped his head. "State championship. That was one of the best nights of my life. After the game, I saw you with Blondie. I had never seen your smile so big. And I knew then that that was the best night of your life too.

"You don't get to choose you just fall in love and you get this person who is all wrong and all right at the same time. And you know you love them so much except sometimes they just drive you completely insane and no one can explain it. And the reason it's so confusing is because it's love, but if love didn't have any challenges what would be the point?

"The only reason you don't have any answers yet is because you're afraid to ask yourself the right questions." Whitey patted Lucas' shoulder with a sympathetic face.

Lucas sighed; he didn't even try to make up some excuse or story that it was Lindsey that confused the hell out of him or that she drove him crazy but truth be told Lindsey didn't do anything to him. She was like that cheap wine that held off the emotions and the heartache for the evening but in the morning it would all still be there waiting for him.

"I think you know what you need to do son." Whitey spoke and Lucas just nodded again and finished off his drink.

--

How did we get here?
When I used to know you so well, yeah.
But how did we get here?
Well, I think I know.

Haley let herself into Lucas's house with the hide-away key under the glass frog she had bought Lucas and Karen in middle school. She saw that the kitchen was a mess, wine bottles and other alcoholic bottles lining the countertops and the coffee table still was covered with every junk food item imaginable.

Haley knew she was being nosey. But who was Haley James Scott without being nosey?

After looking around the house she came back into the living room. She wasn't sure what she was looking for, just looking she guessed.

She wished that she had the ability to rewind a few weeks back. Back before Lucas purposed to Lindsey, before Peyton got into the car crash, before she had hired Carrie, before life had happened. It seemed like just yesterday they were teenagers, hanging out on the rivercourt. Everything just seemed so messed up lately.

Lucas was a mess, to say the least. Brooke was trying to be strong for everyone, but she could see in her eyes that she was close to a breakdown. Nathan had been her saving grace lately. Things had been utterly in uproar, and he did whatever was asked of him. Haley knew he was just as worried as everybody else, but from running around, and doing everything for everybody he hadn't really had a chance to stop and think.

She sat there for a while and stared at the bookcase in front of her. After some time she noticed something sticking out between An Unkindness of Ravens and Grapes of Wrath. She pulled it out and unfolded the rather thick envelope.

Silently, she read aloud…

Dear Lucas,

That sounds so flat, so unfamiliar doesn't it? 'Dear Lucas'? It should be 'Dear Lucas Eugene Scott, the only man that has ever held my heart captive and close to his. The only man that still makes my heart skip a beat and my breath to hitch. The only man that can stare me down from across a room and see right through me so god damn easily.' There. That sounds better.

It's funny how big of an impact you have on me. It's like when I see you, you don't even have to speak. All you have to do is smile, and it can make my day, and then that's how I remember my reasons for loving you. "It's always going to be there; you and I." Remember when you told me that once? It seems you have forgotten. It seems like you have forgotten a lot of the things you've said, or have written. How can you forget them and not care? You said it was me, you said it was always me and that you would wait forever for me. Forever Luke!

I've been through so much with you and I still want you as much as I did the first time I laid my eyes on you. Every time I see you, it's like meeting you for the first time all over again. It's the butterflies in my stomach and not knowing what to say. But out of all the things you've taught me and showed me, there are still a few things I don't understand. And I few things I don't know.

I wish I could say that we had a happy ending. I wish I could say everything worked out. I wish I could say that our once upon a time ended in happily ever after, but that kind of stuff just doesn't happen to me. You're always saving me. Remember? I need to save myself now. And in order for that to happen I need to let go of you. All of you. All of your words and all the different laughs you have, the way your right eyebrow twitches up when you think you said something smartass, the way your eyes sort of go cross eyed when you look me in my eyes. The way your arms wrapped around my body, making me feel so safe and warm. The way your lips taste. The way your hand fit perfectly in mine. I need to save me, be my own hero because you have to be your own hero twice as much; once for you and once for Lindsey.

I don't know exactly how much I mean to you, and I don't know how to tell you that I wanted to be with you for the rest of my life and as I stand here looking at you. I doubt there will ever be a day when I will get over your smile or your love. There will never be a day when I let go of the hugs or kisses you gave me, which I can still constantly feel. There will never be a day when I forget the words you said to me. I will never forget what you meant to me, or how much I will always love you. No matter what happens with you, or between us. I will never let go, get over, or forget about you.

But, I am not writing this to rehash the past, just to tell you this:

I have this theory that the more important and intimate the emotion, the fewer the words are required to express it. For instance, in dating, 'Will you go out with me?' Six words. 'I think I care for you.' Five words. 'You matter to me.' Four words. 'I love you.' Three words. 'Marry me.' Two words. So what's left? What's the most important and intimate word you can ever say to somebody? It's 'Goodbye.'

Goodbye… The most perfect act of love is sacrifice. It's what Keith did for your mom. I love you Luke, you know I do and I think I have ever since we locked eyes. I love you enough to watch you walk away; to think of your happiness over mine. And I love you enough to know that no one will ever love you as much as me. I love you enough to know that you deserve everything Luke, everything in the world; so if she can give it to you…then let her. And at last, I love you enough to be the one to walk away last, I love you enough to be able to watch you walk away to her and not break down completely because we had our day and it was amazing, probably the best days of my life. But if that's what you want then I'm gonna do it. Don't worry about me; don't regret the kiss because I don't. Be happy Luke. I want that will all my heart.

Forever and Always,
Peyton Elizabeth Sawyer

Haley wiped the tears she didn't realize were falling and folded the letter up again and shoved it back into the same spot and backed up to leave when she saw Lucas.

"Hey, you alright?" Lucas asked. "What are you doing here?"

"Hey, um I don't really know actually." She laughed. "I guessed I missed my best friend." She shrugged.

"Remind me to hide that key somewhere else." He joked and walked over to pull her into a hug. "So you read the letter huh?" He said into her hair and placed a gentle kiss on the crown of her head before pulling back and sitting down on the couch. "For the record, I've missed you too Haley James Scott."

"Uh yah, word of advice, hide that somewhere else before Lindsey finds it. Better yet let me take it with me." Haley snatched it out again and slipped it into her bag.

He nodded. "I had a talk with Whitey today." He said.

"How is that big bear?" Haley laughed.

"Good I think. He is enjoying life of retirement." Lucas chuckled. "He said some things that kind of made sense. And I think I need your honest opinion Hales, should I be with Lindsey or Peyton?"

Haley sighed and studied her friend. "I can't make that decision for you Luke and you know it." She got up and sat down next to Lucas on the couch, taking his hand in her own. "What's in your heart? Is it Lindsey or is Peyton still there? Because you need to figure that out and quick, what you are and are not doing to both women is not fair and neither deserve it."

"It is all just hard." Lucas mumbled and bowed his head in his right hand, scratching his head as well.

--

Lucas grabbed what seemed like the millionth cup of dollar coffee and walked down the hall to Peyton's room when he was stopped.

"Hey aren't you that cop from a few days ago? Did you find out what happened to Peyton's car?" Lucas took a sip of warm coffee. It felt nice slivering down his throat.

"Yeah, yeah aren't Ms Sawyer's boyfriend, finance or something?" The cop asked while flipping his binder shut.

"Yeah something like that." Lucas took another sip and wonder why he didn't just come out and say 'No I am not her anything, I am engaged to this other girl that consequently these two women hate each other. Oh and I still have feelings for this one here.'

"Well we found evidence that her car was messed with, tampered with."

"Oh wow, so someone tried to hurt her? Intentionally?"

"What is going on over here?" A sweet, raspy voice behind Lucas asked.

"Hey Brooke, they figured out that it wasn't suicidal but intentional." Lucas handed her his coffee so she could have some.

"No thanks, I am straight H2O now I have had enough caffeine for decades." She turned to the officer. "Do you have any leads?"

"Right now we are looking into a Mr. Stone, ring any bells?"

Brooke and Lucas looked at each other, both not recognize the name. "Nope," They both answered together.

"Well, we will let you know when we know." He tipped his hat and walked out.

Brooke smirked and waited for Lucas to turn around again. "Something like that? Really Broody?"

"Brooke," Lucas shook his head. He really did not want to have this talk.

"I don't know how many times I am going to have to have this damn talk with you Luke," Brooke sighed and crossed her arms. "But you gotta stop this."

"It is just, I am afraid that if I let go that that will be it. Done. Over." He sighed.

Brooke placed a hand on his arm, friend to friend and said, "Honey, you let her go when you walked out of that hotel room."

--

"Open up it is the police, Mr. Jason Stone you are under arrest for attempted murder."

Do you see what we've done?
We've gone and made such fools
Of ourselves.
Do you see what we've done?
We've gone and made such fools
Of ourselves.