A/N: Sequel to Someday, takes place three months after the ending. This is the longest oneshot I have ever written, so I would really, really appreciate some reviews. Read on!
Lucas awoke uneasily, with the distinct sense that he was being watched. And he was. Brooke was leaning against the doorframe in a breathtaking dress, but her tired eyes and weak smile didn't exactly match the couture. "Hey, you," he said kindly.
She offered a weak wave in return. "How's she doing?" she asked, her whisper cutting through the noise around them, finding its way to his ears.
Lucas shrugged, looking at the girl curled against his chest. She was wrapped up in a soft blanket, which had appeared at some point, most likely from Haley. Her head was tucked against his chest, and her blonde curls kept brushing against his lips. "She's been asleep for a while. I don't want to wake her."
Brooke took a few steps forward and sat down on his left. Gently, she brushed the hair out of Peyton's face and gazed at her friend sadly. Lucas could see the memories swimming in Brooke's eyes, the shadow of betrayal. "Hey," he said again, studying her expression. "Brooke, I'm sorry."
She squinted at him, trying to figure out what he was talking about, and then, to both her surprise and his, she laughed. "Sorry," she spluttered. "God, I'm sorry, that was so inappropriate. I…Luke. That was so long ago," she said, shaking her head. "That's so over, right? I should have known better, you should have been better, but…water way, way under the bridge."
He shrugged. "Still sorry."
Her smile was genuine as she said, "I appreciate it. But now you've finally got your girl back, hey? So everything's…" her smile faded quickly as she stared at something past him, "…good."
Lucas didn't want to turn around. He was scared of what he'd see. The colour seemed to drain from Brooke's skin as he watched her, trying to gauge what he'd have to face. He inhaled deeply and turned slightly, careful not to disturb Peyton's slumber.
The doctor was walking toward them. He was a middle-aged man with friendly – but guarded -eyes that carefully revealed little emotion. He looked at Peyton first, and then at Lucas with a question in his eyes – but it was Brooke who spoke. "Listen, she hasn't slept in days. Whatever it is, just…" she swallowed hard over the lump in her throat, "just let her have her peace right now."
The doctor nodded slowly, looking back at Lucas. "Boyfriend?"
"Yes," Brooke answered for him, sensing his hesitation.
He shot her a scowl. "You'll have to forgive my spokesperson," he muttered.
The doctor's smile was clearly forced. "Mr. Sawyer didn't make it through surgery," he said slowly. "I'm so sorry."
Lucas slowly lowered his head, pressing his lips to the crown of Peyton's head. "Fuck," he muttered. Brooke, next to him, buried her face in her hands.
"I'm sorry," the doctor repeated earnestly, and then turned away.
It was at least two minutes until Brooke resurfaced, her eyes tinged red and dancing with emotion. "Do you think we can get her home without waking her? If you carry her out and drive carefully?"
"I…yeah, probably, she's out pretty good."
Brooke nodded, scooping up her sweater and magazine with businesslike efficiency. "Let's get her out of here. She doesn't need to be in a hospital when she finds out."
He nodded, carefully getting up and balancing Peyton in his arms. She'd always been skinny, but in his arms she felt so light it scared him. "Does she eat?"
Brooke threw him a scathing look. "Of course she does. Just…not as much since…"
"Since what?" he demanded.
"Oh, Lucas, you idiot," she hissed, not wanting to wake Peyton. "Since you two broke up."
"Great comeback," she snapped, her voice still barely a whisper. She lead the way to Peyton's car. Her confident walk was the same as always, but Lucas noticed a little bit of weakness in her ankles. He carefully settled Peyton into the backseat, tucking her in beneath the blanket. He glimpsed a small smile as he pushed her hair back from her face and wondered, fleetingly, how long it would be until he saw that smile again. In high school, in those few weeks, those months of happiness, his goal had always been her smile. A real one, the kind that reached her beautiful green eyes and made that determinedly hidden pain disappear from those orbs.
He turned around and opened his arms to Brooke, who was struggling to remain perfectly composed. "C'mere," he muttered, and she dove into his embrace, her breathing unsteady against his chest.
"I can't do this again, Luke. I can't, I can't. When we were little kids, I…it was okay then because I wasn't supposed to know what to do, but now…" She breathed in and out, in and out. "I can't lose her, but I don't know what to do anymore."
"It's okay. It's okay."
"How can it be okay?" she looked up at him, eyes full of scepticism and sadness.
"I'm here now," he said softly. "And I'll take of her. Like always, right?"
"Lucas…" she pulled away, shaking her head. "These past years…she's been a mess, you know that. Because of you. I had to step up. I don't mind taking care of her, Luke, I love her, but she needed you and you were not here."
He looked down at the ground. "I was an ass."
"You were. You were such a jerk." Brooke swallowed hard. "I'm giving her to you, okay? I'm gonna trust that you can do it. That you can take care of her."
"Brooke…she still needs you. She'll always need you."
Brooke tilted her head to the side, studying him in the dim lights of the hospital parking lot. "And she'll always need you more." She offered him a half-smile. "You take care of your girl. I gotta get back to mine." Her smile formed fully at the thought of her daughter, as it always did.
Lucas watched her walk away. "Hey, B. Davis!" he called after a moment, and locked eyes with her when she turned around.
"You did it. You changed the world."
She lifted her hand in time to swipe away the single tear before it fully escaped her eye. "Thank you, Luke." Then she twirled around and walked away dramatically, typical Brooke Davis, right down to her stilettos.
Peyton muttered something in her sleep, drawing Lucas' attention again. Gently, he reached down and caressed her cheek, leaning in as she murmured, "Monkey lightning Jude Law."
His smile was pained. "Whatever you say, babe," he said sadly before circling the car and getting in.
Her house was as quiet as it had always been, but in a different way. She didn't live there anymore, for one. Peyton's house, as Lucas had known it, had always been waiting. Peyton filled up very little space, simply her room. There was always a sense of lingering time. When Larry wasn't home, the house seemed half-empty, and even when he was, not entirely full. Lucas had long ago realized that the Sawyer house stopped being a home when Anna died.
There was no more expectation in the walls. Anna was gone. Larry was gone. And their daughter, a baby they had taken into their home with every intention of giving her the perfect life, had fled from the house which no longer harboured all of her good memories, but her horrific and heartbreaking ones.
He carried Peyton up to her room and awkwardly opened the door, trying valiantly not to wake her. He laid her down on her old bed and carefully placed two blankets over her. He kicked off his shoes, flexing and pointing his tired feet, and then climbed into bed next to her.
She was so beautiful to him. Every time he looked at her he saw a fast-paced montage of every moment they ever shared, and fell in love with her a little more. When he was trying not to love her, those memories had the power to screw up his life.
When Brooke called him, her voice broken and desperate, he hadn't taken the time to think. He'd dropped the phone, and grabbed his wallet, and before he knew it, he was on a plane back to Tree Hill. Back to the girl he loved. To save her, one more time.
The flight had seemed too long. A girl one or two years younger than him was his seatmate, and she flirted incessantly with him, much to his annoyance. When they'd finally landed, he'd bolted off the plane with half of her phone number written in pink on his forearm.
He'd arrived at the hospital to see Brooke, Haley, and Nathan crowded around Peyton in a concerned little circle. "Peyton!" he'd called.
Brooke, Haley, and Nathan had carefully stepped away from her, giving him a clear path. Her eyes looked empty, and at the same time, full. "Luke," she whispered mournfully, and then she was a blur as she ran to him, flinging herself into his arms.
It'd been three months since his divorce. In those three months she'd sent him a CD and a single e-mail. He'd sent her a cheesy postcard, an e-mail, and an actual letter. Their correspondence was tentative. Neither of them wanted to chance hurting anymore.
And then, without thinking, he'd splurged on a plane ticket and spent hours in the air to be there for her. They weren't at that point in their relationship yet. But then again, when had that ever been an issue for them?
She clung to him as though he was the only thing keeping her alive. "I'm not going anywhere," he whispered, low in her ear, as he held her tightly.
She sobbed against his shirt, her tears soaking through the fabric. "I love you," she said painfully though her tears.
His heart leapt even though it ached as he pulled her closer still. "I love you, too," he told her gently. "So much."
Now, he watched her as she slept and knew it was true. He'd missed her. Every day. There would be moments, as he was trying to get a cab, or while he was going for a run, or when he was making dinner, that he would think I love Peyton Sawyer. I do. And then life would catch up with him again.
He was tired. He gently draped an arm around his…he didn't really know what she was at the moment. His girlfriend? His friend? His everything. He pulled her closer, and he could smell the fading scent of her shampoo as he drifted off to sleep.
He woke sometime in the darkest hours of the night with a restless feeling he couldn't shake. He reached out instinctively for Peyton, but instead came in contact with her leg. He blinked a few times, letting his eyes become accustomed to the darkness, before sitting up a bit so that he could make eye contact.
She was leaning back against her headboard, her knees pulled tightly to her chest. There were trails of tears on her cheeks that blended together artistically. She tried, and failed, to smile at him.
He tried, and failed, to smile back. She was already so broken. How could he tell her that her father was gone? He didn't know how he could do that to her. "Peyton," he began softly, struggling to find the right words.
She clasped his hand in her own, her grip deathly tight. "I know," she whispered. "Don't say it. I know."
He sat up all the way and opened his arms to her. She sank into them, but not fully. She was so stubborn, he thought affectionately. He pulled her closer and she gave in, resting her head on his shoulder.
"Talk to me," he said quietly, his lips brushing her temple.
"I'm glad you're here," she murmured.
The entire house was silent. Lucas glanced to his right, at the four locks on Peyton's bedroom door. He sighed. Maybe he shouldn't have brought her here. "How're you doing?" he questioned, stroking her bare arm lightly.
"About your dad?"
"Time?" he prodded.
The sound she made was half sob, half sigh. "Luke, can we just sleep?"
"Shh." Her index finger laid gently over his lips. "I'm okay. Just go to sleep." She nudged him until they were both lying down. She cuddled into him, placing her hand over his heart. Their position reminded him distinctly of the night he proposed.
He never should have left her. He cupped a hand around the one resting on his heart.
When he woke up the sheets were cold. He scrambled to get out of bed, his feet tangled in the blankets. His mind was two steps ahead of his body. Where was she?
He dialled on his cell phone as he shoved his feet into his shoes.
"Is she okay? What happened?" Brooke's frantic voice demanded by way of greeting.
"I don't know, I don't know. I woke up and she was gone. She's not there?"
"No. Shit. Okay. I'll go to Red Bedroom." Lucas could hear her sheets rustling.
"I'm going to the river court. Call me if you find her."
Peyton's car was gone, so he had so choice but to jog there. On the way, he called Haley, who also had no idea where Peyton was.
She wasn't at the river court. He wracked his brains, trying to think of where she would most likely be.
He snatched up his phone when it rang. "You find her?"
"Luke, we're morons. Under the bridge. I'll meet you there."
His heart was pounding, but he took a deep breath and took off running again nonetheless.
Brooke was pacing under the bridge when he arrived. She was wearing a large sweater that would only have been Owen's over cut-offs and Mickey Mouse flip-flops he recognized as Peyton's from the summer they'd spent together. She'd been ashamed of her Disney footwear, so much so that she'd felt the need to justify her ownership with a twenty-minute speech about how her mother bought her a pair when she was little that she loved, and they were just so comfy.
"You look like crap," Lucas blurted, astonished and too exhausted to edit himself.
Her brown eyes flashed dangerously. "My boyfriend's in New York for the weekend, my daughter has a cold, my best friend's dad just died, she's missing, and someone woke me up at seven fifteen, so sorry if I look like shit," she snapped. "Besides," she continued matter-of-factly, "you look worse."
"Sorry," he replied through heavy breaths.
She waved his apology away impatiently and looked around pointedly. Peyton was, clearly, not there.
"Brooke…" he began, his voice choked with tension. "You don't think she'd do anything stupid, do you?"
Her eyes filled with anguish and he immediately regretted asking. "No. No. She wouldn't. She…she won't. She wouldn't do that."
He nodded, but he couldn't meet her eyes. "Hey, um, where's Kayla?"
"I left her with Nathan and Haley. Jamie loves her." She pressed her lips together. "I'm happy, you know? And I feel bad because Peyton's not." She pouted at him. "So get it together, okay?"
"I'm trying, Brooke. Finding her would be a good first step. Can we take your car?" he asked, looking around.
"I took a cab here. I can't really drive right now. Not after Larry's accident."
"Accident…" Lucas muttered. "Damn! Accident! I am so stupid!" He bolted away.
"Luke! Lucas Scott!" Brooke's voice screeched after him, but he was too far gone.
He ran back to the main streets of Tree Hill and found her just where he thought she'd be. In her car, her gaze fixed on a traffic light.
"Peyton!" he cried, grabbing the side of her car and leaning down toward her. "Thank God! Dammit, couldn't you have left me a note? I was so scared for you…it took me forever to find you…" he touched her cheek lightly, but she stayed as still as a statue. "Hey, you," he said worriedly. "Peyton, look at me."
When she finally turned to him, he saw the kind of vulnerability in her eyes that he had only seen twice before. The first time, she'd been huddled on the floor of the library with a bullet in her leg. The second time, she had said, with her heart in her voice, "Don't marry her, Luke!"
Then, in a detached voice, she asked a heartfelt question: "Will you marry me?"
He stared at her, stunned, until she quirked a single eyebrow, clearly expecting an answer.
"I…yeah, God, Peyton, of course I will. Listen, are you o –"
"Okay. So let's go."
"Let's go get married."
"Right now?" he asked incredulously.
"Hell yeah, right now."
"But – but…it's like right o'clock in the morning, and your dad just died, and I only got divorced three months ago, and –"
"Lucas." She cut him off again. "Someday is now. Right now. True love always, or not?"
He locked eyes with her. "I love you. I'm in love with you. But we can't get married right now."
"Now or never," she countered, the set of her chin defiant.
"Okay, do you remember how upset you were when I gave you an ultimatum?"
"Lucas Scott. I love you, and I want to be with you forever, and I need forever to start right now." She gave him a small smile. "So are you getting in, or what?"
He got in the car. She stepped on the gas. And before he knew it, they were at city all, signing their names, one next to the other.
He touched her elbow lightly as she scrawled Peyton Elizabeth Sawyer. She looked up and shot him a smile, shy but full of love. He wanted to ask her if she was sure, but he couldn't. He wanted it as badly as she did.
They walked out in the sun together, hands clasped. They stopped at the top of the stairs and he looked at her.
She was wearing boxers, probably an old pair of his, and a t-shirt he suspected had belonged to Larry. Her curls fell messily onto her shoulders and there were deep, dark circles under her eyes. The whole situation felt surreal, but in a perfect kind of way.
"Hey you," he said, pulling her to him. Her arms wrapped around his neck effortlessly, naturally, as he placed his hands at the small of her back. "We're married."
She smiled at him with overwhelming affection in her eyes. With an shaky hand, he reached into his pocket for the ring he habitually carried with him. "Look, I don't know how you feel about this now, since someone else has worn it…it just has a lot of meaning to me. But I completely understand if you want me to get you another…"
Peyton took it from him and slid it onto her own finger. "Luke, it's perfect."
He smiled back at her. "Yeah, it is." He shrugged nervously. "So, wow, we're married. What now?"
With a genuine laugh and a coy smile, she pulled him around to the back parking lot, and into the backseat of her Comet.
He didn't want to take advantage of her emotional state, but his body overpowered his mind. He wanted her.
"Lucas…" she pulled him closer, wanting to the feel the reassuring sensation of his weight against her body.
"Peyton," he began, and then groaned when her lips hit that perfect spot on his jaw. "Peyt, I don't have anything. We have to stop."
"It's okay," she assured him, something unrecognizable in here yes.
"No, Peyton, wait," he insisted as her fingers traced the skin above the waistband of his boxers.
"I'm on the pill. Please, Lucas."
He couldn't resist anymore. "I love you," he murmured as she tugged off his boxers.
"I've always loved you," she replied, and then silenced him with a searing kiss.
She fell asleep in his arms in the back of her car. She was grieving and sleep-deprived, so he just laid there and held her. The sun was warm on his skin; it was barely ten in the morning.
He'd spent a lot of time wishing that he was married to Peyton Sawyer. He'd spent a lot of time, throughout his life, wishing for things with Peyton Sawyer. To have her forever and entirely his was almost too good to be true. But they'd been through enough. It was time.
She awoke around eleven, when the sun's rays grew too heavy and too hot. Behind her eyelids, which were still heavy with sleep, her eyes held a new light, a hopeful form of happiness. She pulled back on his old boxers and teasing climbed over Lucas, letting her body melt into his for a moment, before seating herself in front of the wheel. She put the key in the ignition but didn't start the car. "Hey, Luke?"
She blushed at the term of endearment and gently shoved his arm. "Am I…taking your last name?"
"Do you want to? You didn't mention it when we were in there."
"I don't know. I'd love to, I would. But my last name kind of feels like my last connection to my mom."
"Well then…think about it. I'm fine with whatever you decide."
"Thanks, Luke," she said. "For everything."
He slipped his hand into her hair. "Where to now?"
"I, um…I have to make arrangements and stuff, you know? But I guess I should probably put some better clothes on first."
Lucas nodded. "So back to your place. Let's go."
Brooke flung the door open with fire in her eyes. "Where have you been?" she shrieked, and they both shrank before her like two kids who'd missed curfew.
"Oh, P. Sawyer, are you okay?" Brooke wrapped her arms around her best friend protectively. She pulled back, leaving her hands on Peyton's shoulders, and studied her friend's face.
"I'm fine, it's just been…crazy and…hard…" Peyton shrugged and broke eye contact. She lifted her left hand to push back her hair, nervous under Brooke's intense gaze.
Lucas wanted to lunge forward and scream, "Nooo!" He wanted to grab her hand and hide it. But of course, he didn't. He stood perfectly still, watched Brooke's reaction, and waited for all hell to break loose.
Brooke's jaw dropped when she spotted the ring and her eyes grew huge. She snapped her mouth closed and smiled prettily when Peyton looked back at her. "Okay, P. Sawyer, why don't you get dressed? I need to borrow Broody for a second."
Brooke grabbed his arm and yanked him out of the room so fast he was surprised he didn't get whiplash. "Jerk! I trust you with her and you propose?"
"I didn't. She did."
"And you accepted, you idiot? She's a wreck."
"Brooke, she said it was all or nothing. What was I supposed to do."
She shook her head, exasperated. "When she's not two seconds from a breakdown, you're going to take that ring back. In a few months, Luke, then you can ask her again."
"I, um…I can't take it back."
"You can and you will."
"No, Brooke, I can't." He took a cautionary step back. "We got married."
She stared at him. And stared. And stared.
"Brooke? Say something."
"She," Brooke said, stabbing a finger in the direction of Peyton's room, "has to go pick out a coffin for her father. I was counting on you to be responsible – my god, Lucas, tell me you didn't sleep with her."
He hung his head.
"Fuck, Luke, so much for being the good guy. That was not comforting her, do you understand me? That was taking advantage of her."
"Brooke…" he could hear Kayla beginning to cry upstairs.
"If she didn't need you so much, I would tell you to stay the hell away from her. The two of you have the world's most convoluted relationship. I don't even understand was wrong with you both." She cast him a scathing glare before stalking off to take care of her daughter.
Peyton appeared seconds later in leggings, a long black shirt, and Ellie's leather jacket. "She eat you alive?" she asked sympathetically.
"I'm still standing," he shrugged.
She walked quickly across the room and buried herself in his arms. "I don't want to do this again," she whispered. "I miss my mom."
"I'm sorry, Peyt, I am so sorry. I'm here. I'll help you. I promise."
She nodded against his chest. "I know."
"Hey, P. Sawyer. Or P. Scott. Peyton. Your appointment at the funeral home's in ten minutes, honey."
Peyton pulled away but kept herself pressed to his side. "I know. I don't want to go."
Brooke gently sat her daughter down on the kitchen counter. "I know, baby, come here."
Peyton stepped in her hug. "I'm scared, B. Davis."
"I know, P. I'm so very, very sorry." Brooke pulled back. "Luke'll look after you. I'll see you in a couple hours. It'll be okay. You can do it."
The funeral was four days later. Peyton looked gorgeous in an expensive Clothes over Bro's dress, but her eyes were haunted. Lucas and Brooke flanked her protectively, while Nathan, Haley, Skills, Mouth, Millicent, and Owen hovered around them.
She buried herself in Lucas' arms when the coffin was lowered. He could feel her shaking against his. The fabric of his shirt was clenched in her hands.
He knew that Peyton hated to cry publicly, and he knew that she wanted him to hide her and keep her safe. He felt horrible because he couldn't. People were talking. Peyton Sawyer. Beautiful girl with mournful eyes. Hadn't been the same since her mother's death. Talented. Stalked. Shot by Jimmy Edwards. Lost the three parents she knew and loved. Lucas Scott's muse and soulmate. The girl who appeared at her father's funeral with a suspiciously familiar diamond ring on her left hand.
Lucas had told his mother about his marriage. Karen knew, their friends knew, and the rest of the town was purposefully kept in the dark. No one else needed to know yet. They'd all made their assumptions, of course, but he knew that the last thing Peyton needed was scandal.
"C'mon, honey, let's get you home," Haley said the moment the service ended. There was anyone there who Peyton was obliged to talk to.
"No," she said softly, moving away from them all. "I'm just going to go for a walk, okay?"
"You want company?" Lucas, Brooke, and Nathan asked in unison.
"Um, yeah. Sure. Mouth, come on."
Looking stunned, Mouth placed his hand in her extended one and followed her off.
"What was that?" Brooke asked indignantly as soon as they were out of earshot.
"We're stifling her," Nathan replied wisely. "She needs some space."
Lucas frowned as he watched her retreating back. "Something's off."
"She's fine, Broody," Brooke assured him confidently. "Mouth can take care of her. Let's go home, okay?"
Haley placed a hand on her husband's arm. "We're going to swing by our place first. I made some food for you guys that I want to pick up."
"Okay, Hales, thanks."
She leaned up to kiss Lucas' cheek. "Try not to worry, okay?" She threw him a devilish grin. "Your wife's tough."
He returned the kiss and waved goodbye to Nathan. Obediently, he returned to the house with Brooke and Owen.
"Mama!" Kayla cried the moment they walked into the kitchen, where the teenaged baby-sitter was filling the little girl's plastic cup with juice.
"Hey, my baby girl," Brooke cooed, scooping her up. "Hey, my perfect girl. How was she today, Molly?"
"Perfect," Molly shrugged, smiling. "She's too good."
"That's my girl," Brooke smiled, tickling her daughter's tummy. "Owen, babe, will you go grab my purse?"
As they waited for Owen to return with Brooke's purse, which contained Molly's pay, Lucas could sense the teen staring at him. He turned to her, smiling inquisitively – politely calling her on it.
She blushed deeply. "I'm sorry, I'm so rude, but are you…Lucas?"
"Yep, Lucas Scott," he said patiently with a gracious smile, waiting for a question about his novel.
Molly smiled prettily. "From Peyton's closet door."
He smiled back, surprised. "Yeah."
"Here's your purse," Owen said as he came back in, breaking the moment.
"Thanks, O." Brooke grabbed a twenty from her wallet and handed it over. "Thanks so much, Molly."
"No problem. I'll see you later." She bent to give Kayla a quick kiss and waved to them collectively on her way out.
Lucas smiled at the spot where she'd stood. Peyton's closet door had seemed to exist in another lifetime up until a few days ago. The thought of it brought back memories.
"What're you thinking about, perv?" Brooke asked, an affectionate threat in her voice. "Twelfth-grade makeout sessions?"
"And more," he replied cheekily.
"Jerk. Grab some plates, would you? Haley'll be here any minute."
Mouth and Peyton arrived back safely about half an hour later. Lucas kept a watchful eye on her as she relaxed, leaning back into the couch and listening as Nathan and Skills re-enacted every funny and embarrassing moment they'd ever experienced, hoping to make her laugh.
They were stifling her. When she got up to get a glass of water, everyone jumped up to do it for her.
"I'm not dying, okay? Someone else already did that." She brushed past them all and into the kitchen. They had just enough time to exchange worried looks before she re-emerged, sans water glass, and extended her left hand, looking only at the man she offered it to. "Come to bed."
Lucas obediently took her hand and stood, searching her eyes.
"Whipped," Nathan coughed quietly as they passed him.
Haley elbowed him sharply. "So not the time."
Lucas knew what she meant. Despite the connotation, the need in her voice was not sensual or lustful, but deeper. Always, it was deeper.
"Sorry," she said softly as she closed the door of her room behind them. "I just…God, Luke, I don't know where my head is right now."
"Hey, it's okay. Let's just go to sleep." It wasn't dark out, but that didn't really matter.
"Thank you," she said sweetly, looking particularly young as she sat, curled up on the bed as she waited for him to change.
"It's really okay."
"I'm being selfish."
"No, you're not. You're grieving, Peyt – that's okay."
"I feel weird lately." She spoke hesitantly, like it was a confession.
"That's because you are weird," he told her teasingly.
"Thanks, honey," she teased back sappily.
"Let's sleep," he replied, pulling her down to the bed and into his arms.
"Sounds good," she said contentedly, nuzzling into his neck.
Lucas was growing accustomed to waking up in the earliest hours of the morning, his slumber interrupted by one thing or another. That morning, it was the rumble of two female voices beyond the bedroom door. With a deep sigh, he threw back the covers and walked out to see what was going on.
Peyton and Brooke were arguing. Peyon's face was tearstained, and Brooke wore that defiant expression of hers that clearly indicated how hard she was fighting the urge to cry.
"Brooke, I'm trying to do you a favour!"
"The world's bitchiest favour!"
"I don't want you to go, P. Sawyer," Brooke cut her off, sounding extraordinarily young.
"What's going on?" Lucas demanded curiously.
They both swivelled to him. "I need to move out," Peyton replied, her voice clogged with tears.
"No, you don't!"
"B., you've let me live here for too long. You and Owen and Kayla, you're a family and I'm intruding. You need your space."
"No! You're part of the family, P. Sawyer, don't you get that?"
Peyton's lower lip trembled. "I love you, Brooke. And I love you for that, I do. But look at it from the outside and then tell me the same thing."
"You just want to be with Lucas all the time. Now that he's back, what'd you need me for, right?"
Peyton recoiled as if she'd been slapped, and without thinking about it, Lucas stepped protectively closer to his wife of five days.
Brooke pressed her palms to her eyes. "I'm sorry, P. Sawyer. Things are hard for you already and I'm being a bitch. But I like you here. I need you here."
Peyton clasped both of her best friend's hands in her own. "No, B. Davis, you don't. You've grown up. Now I've gotta do it. And I – we," she corrected herself, glancing at Lucas, "need to move out. Okay?"
Brooke pressed her lips together, but nodded. "Okay," she whispered.
Peyton nodded too. "Thank you."
The next couple weeks passed as organized chaos. Lucas spent nearly all of his time packing and lugging boxes. Peyton and Brooke were engaged in constant, playful arguments about what belonged to who, and whether it was really reasonable for Peyton to take Brooke's green dress that looked amazing on her (Brooke was insistent, Peyton stubbornly refused). Lucas, despite his incessant, joking complaints about being Peyton's errand boy, enjoyed it. He was surrounded each day by his friends, he was moving into a beautiful house, there was a sense of normalcy, he was writing again, and best of all: Peyton was smiling.
They were so busy that they often lost track of time. He found himself sneaking up behind her playfully around three in the morning, wrapping his arms around her waist. She jumped, so he instantly withdrew his touch and said calmly. "Sorry. It's just me."
"God, you scared me." She shot him a quick smile that faded into a frown.
"I'm sorry, I shouldn't do that so late at night. Time flies when you're unpacking, hey?" He lovingly wrapped his arms around her again, flattening his palms against her back and slowly sneaking a hand up her shirt. "You know, Peyt, I think we've been too busy lately…" He bent to press his lips to her neck, but her hands flew up to push him back.
Peyton, hey…it's me. It's okay, it's just me," he said slowly, soothingly. The panicked look she wore made him wonder if she was having Psycho Derek flashbacks.
"Lucas…" her eyes were huge, pleading – and then her face abruptly closed off. "Luke, I'm sorry, but I can't tonight." She fled from the room and locked herself in what used to be Larry's room for the night.
Four hours later, after his umpteenth restless slumber, Lucas called Brooke.
"Dammit, Lucas, you cannot get into the habit of calling me at seven o'clock in the morning."
"I need you to come over and talk to Peyton," he admitted.
"Is she okay?"
"I don't know. That's why I'm calling you so ridiculously early."
"I knew she shouldn't have moved out. Now I need to get dressed," Brooke grouched, worry and triumph both clear in her voice. "I'll be right over."
Lucas hung up and strolled down the hall. "Peyt?" he asked gently, rapping lightly on the door. "Peyton…baby, please talk to me. You don't have to come out."
Brooke marched up the stairs when she arrived, and knocked a bit more forcefully. "Sweetie, it's Brooke. Please let me in." After a moment, she added, "Babe, come on, talk to me." Another moment passed and she sighed. "You leave me no choice, Peyton Elizabeth."
Lucas watched as she pulled a bobby pin out of her hair and wrestled with the lock. Three minutes later, the two of them burst in.
"Why?" Brooke whined, glancing at the ceiling. She looked back over and Lucas and pointed to the bed sheets dangling from the window. "She's gone."
"She snuck out of her own house?"
"Oh, honey," she replied, almost pityingly. "I know that the two of you normally have some supernatural force pulling you to one another, but when Peyton wants to avoid you, she avoids you."
"So we have to look for her? Again?"
"I know. I really sucks to love that girl sometimes, doesn't it?"
Less panicked than they had been the first time, they went together in Brooke's car. "Think, Lucas," the fashionista, whose cheekbones were perfectly highlighted even before the sun had fully greeted Tree Hill, ordered as they cruised down the street, keeping their eyes peeled. "I'm not paying you to sit there and look broody."
"Firstly, your highness, brooding is most definitely a form of thinking. Secondly, Brooke of course I am thinking, I want to find my wife. And thirdly, Ms. Davis, I wasn't aware of the pay check."
She smiled guiltily as she parked effortlessly in front of Karen's Café. "Sorry. It's early." She let her hands fall from the steering wheel and into her lap. "I think we need reinforcements, Luke. Some brainstorming. And good."
He cracked a smile. "Haley and Nathan it is."
Neither Brooke nor Lucas had ever hesitated to walk into the Scott household without knocking. A few feet in, however, Brooke stopped so suddenly that Lucas ran into her. He looked up to see what had shocked her.
Peyton sat on one couch, Nathan next to her. He had his arm around her shoulders and was rubbing her arm soothingly. Haley sat across from her, both of her hands resting on Peyton's knees. She had her problem-solver face on, an expression that combined deep concern, unconditional love, and fierce determination. She spotted Lucas and Brooke first, her gaze sliding over to them. Peyton followed her line of vision and turned. Her eyes were red.
Brooke took two slow steps forward, regarding her friends suspiciously. She dropped her purse with a gasp. "Oh. My. God." She whirled around to Lucas with fire in her eyes, her hand lifting as though she intended to slap him.
Peyton shot up off the couch. "Brooke!" she cried desperately, and then shrank back, wrapping her arms around herself and staring intently at the floor. "Don't."
Brooke turned back around to face her. "Oh, Peyton," she said, shaking her head as she walked over, closing the distance between them. "Honey, you idiot." She engulfed her in a hug. "I love you."
Nathan stood up. "Luke, you have to go."
Lucas laughed. "What?" he demanded harshly.
Haley walked over and placed a calming hand on his arm. "Luke," she said quietly. "Later on, you'll know everything. You need to trust me on this. Right now, Lucas, listen to me. You need to go. Now."
He looked over Haley's head, seeking out Peyton, but she wouldn't meet his eyes. Stunned and spluttering, he felt Nathan grab his arm and escort him out. In the dizzying early morning sun, Lucas watched as Nathan offered him a compassionate shrug and said, "Sorry, big brother."
And then the door slammed in his face.
Lucas played an agitated game of basketball with himself at the river court, but he quickly grew so frustrated that he flung his ball into the river. Frowning, he sat down heavily and put his head in his hands. After nearly fifteen minutes, he felt someone sit down beside him, but he didn't look up.
He had recognized his connection with Peyton Sawyer from a very young age. From the moment he'd told her that her art mattered, he'd been her saviour. She loved him just as much in return, and that was all he asked for. That, and full disclosure.
"Talk to me, Lucas," his mother's voice said kindly.
He met her steady gaze with childish trust in his eyes. "I don't know what to do anymore." The tell me how to fix this was left unsaid.
"Lucas, sweetie, you are so good to her. If she needs time, all you can do is give her time."
"I know it's hard not to know what's going on, Luke, but Peyton loves you. That is the one thing you never have to doubt."
He shot Karen a grateful smile. "I'm sorry we got married so…spontaneously."
She smiled as she gave him a one-armed hug. "I'm just glad that youn married the right person this time."
Peyton showed up at the river court around dusk, wearing her jeans with the hole in the knee and one of Nathan's sweaters.
Lucas rushed over to her. "Peyton, God, what's going on?"
"Lucas…" she flattened her hands lightly on his chest. "I love you so much," she said faintly, almost to herself. She looked sick.
"I love you, too. Come here, sit down. Talk to me."
She wrung her hands and stared down at them. "Luke…I lied to you."
His heartbeat automatically sped up. "Okay. About wht?"
"You, um…you remember our, um…wedding day?"
He brushed her curls out of her face. She looked particularly pale. "Of course I od."
"I lied to you that day."
His mind went into overdrive. "About what, Peyt?"
"When…when I told you I was on the pill. I lied."
Lucas gaped at her. "Are you telling me…" he trailed off, searching her eyes for an answer.
She inhaled shakily. "I'm pregnant."
He kept staring at her.
"Lucas? Please. Say something. Luke?"
"Peyton…why would you lie to me about that?"
"What were you thinking? You weren't thinking."
"God, Peyton, that changes everything!" he nearly yelled, getting up and beginning to pace. "I didn't force you. I didn't want to have sex with you then, it didn't feel right, but you told me…dammit."
She slowly stood up and reached out to him. "Luke, please." She smiled slightly, almost secretively, in spite of the tears that clouded her emotionally overloaded green orbs.
He backed away from her, holding up his hands in both defence and surrender. "I can't do this right now," he said, beginning to walk away.
"Lucas." The breeze carried the soft syllables to his ears.
He cursed at the instinct within him that made him react to the sound of need in her voice.
He yanked his cell phone out of his pocket aggressively as he walked off and speed-dialled. "Hey!" Brooke greeted in a tone that indicated that she was expecting a happy man on the other end of the line. He knew now that she had figured it out earlier that day at Nathan and Haley's. How could he be so clueless?
"Peyton. River court," he said roughly. She'd know how to handle it.
Without really thinking about it, he ran to Tree Hill High. Peyton was undoubtedly having a meltdown at his usual escape. Haley and Nathan would be on the warpath as soon as Brooke called – Nathan would likely be out for his blood. And he didn't want to go home and explain himself to his mother. He couldn't.
He draped his sweater across the bleachers and laid down tiredly. His head was spinning. He carefully sorted out his thoughts. He could do that, he was a writer. Nouns and adjectives. Answers to the question: how did he feel?
Betrayed. Peyton tended to lie to spare him pain, but she'd never told such an important, dramatic, life-changing fib before. He hated that she'd lied to him. Hated it. He couldn't understand what her train of thought had been at the moment.
Ashamed. He felt impeccably guilty. Brooke had been right. He'd taken advantage of Peyton, who'd been a grief-stricken emotional trainwreck at the time. They'd had sex for the first time in years, and for all the wrong reasons. Their romance had always been out of order, but even in high school, even as horny teenagers, they had waited for the perfect moment. Peyton had been firm about it then. It was his turn, now, and he'd been too stupid to do what he knew was right.
And happy. Underneath the more powerful and painful emotions, a small, somewhat sappy part of him was screaming, Peyton Sawyer, love of my life, is carrying my child. The lovesick part of him, however, was drowning beneath his guilt and hurt.
Time passed for Lucas in a dreary sort of way. He was completely clueless as to what hour it was when Haley came in and walked over to him with her head sympathetically tilted to the right. "Took me a while to find you," she said softly, her voice nevertheless cutting through the quiet. She climbed up to sit beside him, continuing, "We've been looking for a while. You're lucky I got to you first. Nathan wants you drawn and quartered.
He placed a weary hand over his eyes. "How is she?"
Haley shrugged. "Brooke's been with her since you called. She's not falling apart, but she's not doing so good. To be honest with you, Luke, I think she needs her husband."
He grimaced guiltily. "She lied to me, Hales."
"I know, Luke."
"About serious stuff."
"I know," she replied patiently.
"I feel like I…I don't know, violated her, or something," he mumbled, his voice thick.
"Don't be stupid. You love each other."
"This…I don't know, it sucks."
Haley leaned down closer to him, her eyes thoughtful. "Does it?"
Lucas stared up at his best friend. "What do you mean, Hales?"
"You're finally with the girl you're in love with. You have a great big, beautiful house all to yourselves. You're married. She's pregnant. God, Lucas. It doesn't get much better than that."
He allowed himself the smallest of smiles. "Yeah?"
"Yeah!" she cried. "Lucas, you've always wanted to be a dad, you're absolutely amazing with kids. Peyton would never admit it, but Brooke and I both know how much she wants it. Both of you have always wanted to do it right, to be the parents you didn't have. You two have been martyred for long enough. You should've have to wait any longer for what you want."
Lucas nodded slowly. "It is amazing," he admitted slowly.
He wasn't sure if it was the angle he was looking at her from, but it seemed like there were tears in Haley's eyes. She smiled brightly. "You're gonna be a dad, Luke!"
"Yeah," he nodded, feeling dizzy with clarity. "Hey, Hales?"
Haley began to cry in earnest, but they were happy tears. "She's at home, you jerk. Go take care of your family."
Lucas sat up and quickly pulled his sweater over his head. He leaned down to kiss Haley's cheek. "Thank you."
She smiled at him fondly before pushing him away. "Go home," she ordered.
The windows of Peyton's house – his house, their house – were dark. Lucas let himself in through the perpetually unlocked front door. "Peyt?" he called softly, pointlessly. Brooke didn't appear out of the shadows to pounce. She must have left. It didn't matter. He knew where she was.
He took the stairs two at a time. The hallway toward her room was no longer empty and eerie, but crowded with half-filled boxes containing her clothes and records, his books and manuscript drafts. He smiled at the sight of his dog-eared copy of The Great Gatsby half-covered by her black Jimmy Eat World tee.
Her room, their room, was lit solely by four candles. She was curled up on her bed, facing the door, still wearing her jeans and Nathan's sweater. She looked guardedly happy to see him.
"Hey, you," he said, cautiously lying down next to her. "You got Brooke to leave you alone?"
She smiled sadly. "With a lot of effort."
They gazed at each other for a moment. Hesitantly, he pulled her close to him, and she buried her face in his neck, breathing unsteadily. He kissed her hairline, and, handling her carefully, unwrapped an arm from around her and slipped his hand under her sweater, then her tank top, to rest against the warm skin of her abdomen.
She placed a slender hand on top of his, intertwining their fingers intimately. "I'm so sorry I lied to you." Her eyes darted across his face, watching his reaction in the dim light.
"Today," he told her quietly, "you gave me the best news I've ever received and I was a total jackass to you. You aren't the one who has to be sorry anymore."
"I…I know the timing is really messed up, but…God, Luke, I want this. I've always wanted…those things you want. The house and the kids and the soccer games or…whatever. I was just scared of messing up, of doing it wrong. And then…then my dad…I just thought about how anything can happen. If I was always scared, then one day it would be too late."
Lucas nodded compassionately, sensing that she didn't want him to speak yet.
"I want to be happy. Brooding starts to suck after a while, y'know?"
It reminded him of that moment in Nathan's yard, after their first kiss. He'd asked her if it had just been a game. Wanna play again? He'd seen his eyes reflected in hers. A new, intense emotion, shielded by fright. What were they doing? What were they thinking? Why did it feel so powerful and unbreakable, whatever it was? They'd known then, and it scared them, so she cracked a lame joke. They new now, and it made them deliriously happy, so she made a silly comment. That had been the moment when he'd stopped resisting. The look in here yes told him that she was still fighting. But he could also tell that's she'd stop. Eventually.
He smiled at the look in her eyes now, the hope for reassurance. "Yeah, it does," he agreed.
She bit her lower lip. "Are you happy?"
He kissed her, passionate but gentle. He felt her fingers tighten around his. Breaking contact, he nudged her onto her back and pushed and sweater and shirt up so that he could press his lips to her stomach. He moved back up to pepper her face with kisses, tasting the salt from the joyful tears that slipped from her eyes. "Seeing you happy makes me happy," he said huskily.
She cupped his face in her hands as she kissed him. Just as their kiss grew deeper, she grinned against his mouth and pulled away, laughing lightly.
"What?" he asked lazily, pressing a kiss to the side of her lips.
Her eyes had filled with a beautiful sense of wonderment. "Sorry, it's just…" her gaze wandered around the room before her emerald orbs met her husband's blue ones again. "Right now, with you, this feels like home."
"Well I'm going home, to the place where I belong, and where your love has always been enough for me." – Chris Daughtry, "Home"
A/N: Review. Pretty pretty please.