A/N: I know it has been a very long time since I have written/posted/updated anything, and for that I apologize. I'm getting a lot of writer's block and haven't been as motivated to produce anything for some time now. Hopefully the other things I have been working on will progress further sometime in the near future. To all who have been reading I Shall Believe I am grateful for the wonderful reviews and promise to try and get you an update sometime before the month ends - hopefully. As for this story, the title is from a Matthew Ryan song and the story itself somewhat follows the Jack's Mannequin song Hammers And Strings (A Lullaby), but not completely, nor is it about a piano. Anyway, I hope you enjoy, reviews are, as always, greatly appreciated.
--Some Streets Lead Nowhere--
She must have seen the light from the street. Maybe as she was driving by, maybe someone called her and told her, I don't know. But here she is, standing in my room holding my leather jacket in her hands, touching the well worn material that has seen many a day.
That jacket has followed me around ever since the day I put it on. It had been sitting in my closet for exactly nine days before I could bring myself to do much more than just stare at it and remember that I had lost yet another mother. But then I picked up, put it on, and it made me feel better, somehow connected to her. And my God, that thing fit so well, felt so comfortable. That leather jacket just feels right, and the things it must have seen, I just hoped that in wearing it I could continue on its legacy, I hope that I have.
It's been with me through all the dark punk rock clubs of one thousand American towns. In musty bars and packed stadiums, to every concert venue or quiet little club that I could find, that the music found me. That jacket has been all over this country, through a few others and to places I'm sure I can't even imagine.
I watch her bring it up to her nose, inhaling the aroma that surrounds my precious leather. I imagine it smells somewhat of those smoky clubs, maybe a little of my own sent, and the smell that is all its own. She cradles it to her chest, seeming lost in her own reverie as I continue to just watch on, waiting for something.
I decide to break the silence, make my presence known. Part of me wants to find out why she's here, especially after all this time has gone. Strangely though, I just want to watch her some more, content to just stare at my friend, wondering if I would be right or wrong in still calling her that, and hope that when she turns she will be happy to see me.
"Is it like you remember?"
I've startled her, I didn't mean to, and as she spins around, still clutching my jacket, she has an unreadable expression on her face. I wonder if we're both disappointed at this.
"What I meant was, the jacket, is it still as you remember?"
"Oh, yes, it is. It still smells just like you – maybe a little smoky, but mostly of leather and vanilla."
"What are you doing here? Not that it's not good to see you, it really is, I just…I didn't expect to see you, especially with the way we left things. Well, the way I left would probably be more accurate."
She looks at me for a moment, maybe gathering her thoughts or not knowing what to say. I watch as she turns a little and replaces my jacket over the chair it was on before she came. With the utmost care she runs her hands over the leather, making sure it won't fall from its perch. Turning back to face me, she takes a tentative step towards me before she speaks.
"I was on my way home and I just, I don't know, had the urge to take a little detour and drive down your street, I don't know what I was expecting. But then I saw the light on. As far as I know there hasn't been a light on in this house in three years. I knew it had to be you. So I stopped my car and I sat there, parked at the curb for a while. I didn't know what to do. But I haven't seen you in so long, I needed to see you."
"Are you still mad at me? 'Cause I would totally understand if you were, I mean I said some pretty nasty things, we both did. But I am sorry. I never wanted to hurt you. I never meant to hurt you, Brooke. I'm so sorry."
"I know, and I'm sorry too. How 'bout we just put that in the past for now? It's just really good to see you Peyton."
She closed the remaining space between us and wrapped me up in a hug. It felt so good to hold her in my arms again. The smell of her shampoo triggered scores of memories throughout the years. I held her just a bit tighter as I tried to fight off the oncoming of tears. I knew she, too, had tried as she started to laugh as she pulled back just a little to wipe her eyes and look at me again, before resuming our hug.
It really had been too long since we had seen each other, since we had been us, together. We had spoken, shortly, distantly, less than a handful of times. It wasn't enough.
"So, how have you been?"
It was such a loaded question. I decided to answer it as vaguely as I could; I wasn't ready to dig to deep. It didn't go quite as planned.
"Oh, you know, I've been well. Yeah, the moneys coming, but damn if I haven't missed you like hell. I'll be walking down the street or something and reach into my jacket only to find a sugar packet and I swear I can hear your ghost in that old jacket. 'Peyton, please, just put them in your coat pockets, you know we'll need them later.' You always were having me carry around little things for you in those pockets. It just hits me sometimes, you know?"
She nods her head in understanding, wiping a few errant tears as she pulls me to sit next to her on the bed. Grabbing my hand she gives it a squeeze and leans her head on my shoulder before she speaks.
"Peyton I know we haven't talked much, but I still see you, hear you, wherever I go in this town. I'll be anywhere and I'll still hear you voice as I did in those old puck rock clubs. I can't even go to Tric much these days; I turn a corner and expect you to be there. I miss you so much."
I put my arm around her shoulder and bring her into me a little more. We've hurt each other a lot with this distance, this disappearance from the other's life. It scares me to think of it happening again.
"Come on, Blondie, play me a song, give me something to trust. Just promise me you won't let it be just the radio you touch."
"How 'bout I take you somewhere?"
"Alright. Grab that old leather jacket, take me anywhere. As long as you're with me, we can go anywhere."
It's strange. It almost feels as if no time at all has passed. But then I look in her eyes and, as I'm sure she can see in mine, there's a certain sadness, it speaks of loss and regret. I only hope we can fix that, that we can be better than we were.
The night is cool and I'm feeling nostalgic as reality washes over me. There are no arguments, no getting our selves worked up for some party we're heading to, no expectations. It's just us on our way somewhere, together.
Brooke's wearing my leather jacket. We stepped outside and she started to shiver, so I gave it to her to wear. I know she will keep it safe and treat it well, she knows how much it means to me, and she respects the garment for all it has been through, though I doubt she knows to what extent.
It's been with me in planes, train, cars, the back of passenger vans, through the snow, dirt, and sands of one thousand American towns. But something she'll never know is that I'd give up that jacket in a second for her. Nothing is held in higher regard than her. It's Brooke, Music, Leather Jacket. Those are the top three. My art probably ties with the last.
As we drive off into the night, Brooke speaks to me, with her heart heavy and a pain in her voice.
"Peyton, the doctor, he prescribed me these pills. But I know I'm not crazy, maybe I just lost my will. I just don't know why I take them still."
I didn't expect this. When I finally came home, for the first time in nearly three years, I didn't know what to expect. I honestly thought that she would not want to see me. We both hurt each other and then with my leaving, I just, I didn't think, I guess. But Brooke had always been relatively happy, you know? Brooke Davis is a peppy person. But I know better than most that there is a whole lot more to her than that party front she puts out. She's a good person, a good friend, and she cares and feels more than people give her credit for. It's saddening to hear that she hasn't been doing well. I'm not naïve, I didn't think that she just wouldn't care and write me off, forget everything, be carefree, and I hope I'm not part of the problem, I hope I didn't have a hand in her unhappy state. I also hope that I can help her and be there for her.
"I feel like I need something to believe in again. I need a breath from the breathing, and it's hard to close my eyes. Lately I'm not dreaming and I don't see the point in sleeping. It feels like at night I've got nowhere to hide."
I realize at once, the time. It must have been nearly one in the morning when she came over. I can share in difficulty sleep has become these days.
I don't have the answers for her but maybe I can help, maybe we can be friends again, we can be together again.
"I'm going to be here, Brooke. Whatever you need, I'm home now. When you're sleepless this will always be my reply: I will write you a lullaby."
We spend nearly an hour and a half in the car, listening to music as I drive, top down, wind blowing in our hair. These roads have guided us to many a destination, but tonight they just keep us company, keep us moving forward. They don't need to lead anywhere, because it's the journey that matters.
And despite everything, for the first time in a long time, we're happy.