Okay, guys. This is the final chapter of this story, so I hope it doesn't disappoint. I love you guys for sticking with me through it; I've really loved writing this. Also, in case anyone's interested, I recently posted the first chapter of my new Leyton story, Someone Else's Life. It's AU, and the premise is pretty different from what you normally see, and I'm really excited about it. I'd love for you guys to check it out. Now, finally, the last chapter of LYA. I hope you've enjoyed it! Reviews would be great, as always!
if this is what it takes
just to lie with my mistakes
and live with what i did to you
all the hell I put you through
I always catch the clock
now you wanna talk
its not hard to dream
you'll always be my konstantine
they'll never hurt you like I do
no,no,no,no, no, no, no, no, no
this is to a girl
who got into my head
with all the pretty things she did
you keep me up in bed
this is to a girl
who got into my head
with all these fucked up things i did
baby you could keep me up in bed
After he left, Peyton sat in her living room, staring at the thick manuscript. By the time her pizza arrived, she was no longer hungry.
The truth was, she was scared of Lucas' new book. She knew nothing about it, except that Lindsey had supposedly realized it was about her.
She had a distinct memory of reading The Comet for the first time. Haley had told her just a little about it; how after reading it, Haley had known Lucas was still in love with her, whether he was ready to admit it or not.
Still, she hadn't been prepared for the powerful effect the book had on her. She had devoured the words as if they were some sort of message from Lucas, reading it all in one sitting, and she had cried when she reminded herself that he had written this before he left, a lot of it even before he got married. No matter what anyone thought the book was about, it hadn't mattered.
And this new book…it had been written during his marriage. It had been the reason he and Lindsey hadn't spoken for a month, the reason she'd cheated on him. And now, it seemed as though it was Lucas' last ditch effort to fight for her.
Peyton shivered. She wasn't ready. Not just yet.
When Will dropped by the studio the next day, bringing her the customary coffee, he noticed the stack of papers, which she'd brought with her. Just in case she felt ready.
"Damn. Who's contract is that?'
She laughed a little. "Not a contract, dumbass. That's Lucas' new book."
Will's eyebrows shot up with interest. "Really? What's it about?"
"No idea." She sighed, explaining, "I haven't…I haven't been able to read it yet."
Will's eyes lit up as he stared at the thick stack of papers. "Can I?"
He grinned and drew back. "So are you going to?"
"Yeah, I will…probably." She moaned a little. "I mean, Lucas wants me to read it." After a pause, she looked up at Will and admitted, "He bought a plane ticket. Back to Tree Hill, for Saturday night."
Will looked at her searchingly. "That's what you told him to do, right?"
Sighing, Peyton nodded. "Yeah, I know, I just…I don't know what I want, Will. Well, that's not true. I know what I want…I want to go back six years ago, to that fucking hotel room, and I want to say yes!"
Will leaned forward and said, in a soft, comforting voice, he said, "Peyton. I have no idea what any of that means."
She gave a shaky laugh. "It's just this thing…it's a long story. It was the screw up, my screw up, that set his screw ups in motion. If that makes any sense."
Will laughed a little. "Not really."
"Doesn't matter. I can't change what happened, obviously, and neither can he."
"But you get to decide what happens now."
On Friday afternoon, Lucas hadn't heard from Peyton, and he began to pack.
"So I'm pretty sure I'm coming back tomorrow night." The phone was balanced between his neck and shoulder as he tossed clothes into his suitcase.
Haley, on the other end of the phone, was quiet for a moment. "You don't think she's going to change her mind? When she reads the book?"
Lucas sounded utterly hopeless. "Like I said…I'm pretty sure I'll be coming back." There was a long pause, and then Lucas added, "I was hoping Nate and Skills would maybe…think about letting me help out with the team again."
"Well, I'm sure they will, Luke. But there's no rush, you know…you should take some time off. Finish editing the book and all that…and there's probably gonna be another book tour."
He sighed heavily. "Yeah, about the book…I'm thinking about breaking the contract. Not publishing it."
"I don't know if I can do it…have that out there."
Trying to be practical, Haley reminded him, "Luke, you can't just break the contract with your company…"
"It doesn't matter. I'm probably not gong to be writing anymore."
Dismayed, Haley asked, "Why would you say that? You love writing!"
"I can't do it without her. I never could."
It wasn't as though he didn't want to write anymore. He instinctively knew that, without Peyton, he didn't have another book in him. Besides, if it boiled down to it, the first book had been about their relationship, together and happy; the second had been about her return home, and now it looked like the final book would be about their ending, the death of their last shred of hope.
There was nothing else to tell.
That night, Peyton was sitting in her kitchen, once again wrestling with herself over the issue of Lucas' book. This time tomorrow, he'd be on a plane. It was now or never. Yet somehow, she couldn't make herself begin reading.
Her phone rang suddenly, and Peyton was so grateful for the distraction that she snatched it up without glancing at the caller id. "Hello?"
"Haley? Wow, hi! How are you?"
"Hey. I'm good. How about you?"
"I'm…I'm good." Peyton sensed a deeper question.
Haley hesitated, then cut to the chase, "Have you read the book yet, Peyton?"
Caught off guard, Peyton stammered, "Um, no, I haven't, not yet."
"But you're going to, right?"
Peyton sighed, "Haley, look, every thing's really complicated-"
Guiltily, Haley backtracked quickly. "Peyton, I know they are. And I don't blame you for being mad at him, or being scared…I don't, I promise. God knows you have reason to be. It's just…I think if you don't read the book before he leaves, you're going to regret it."
Peyton was quiet for a long moment, so Haley continued, "There's some stuff I didn't tell you, back after he moved. Like…Brooke and I both told you how he looked after you when you walked out of the wedding. But what I never told anyone was…I found Lucas in the bathroom right after his wedding, crying about how he'd made a mistake."
Peyton was speechless. This gave her a different view of Lucas' seemingly useless visit to her bedroom during the reception.
Haley continued, "And do you know why he asked me to tell you about the move? Because he said if he had to look at you and tell you then he wouldn't be able to go."
Peyton felt tears welling in her eyes, and she finally found her voice to say, "Why are you telling me this, Hales? It doesn't change anything."
"I know." Haley said gently. "But I just wanted you to know…you've been in his heart every step of the way. Even when his actions suggested the opposite. And I think if you read the book you'll know that for sure."
"Okay." Peyton heard herself saying. "Okay, I'll read it."
Lucas was crouched in the wet grass, rain pouring over him, clutching Peyton's body close. He frantically searched her wrist, and then her chest, for a heartbeat. Nothing.
Squinting through the torrential downpour surrounding them, he made out flashing red lights, coming closer. His heart lifted. The ambulance had actually come.
Two faceless paramedics leapt from the ambulance and came running toward them, dragging a stretcher and various equipment. Lucas began babbling, "I can't find a pulse, her heart stopped…you have to help her, please…"
They pried her body from his arms, and he slid over to the side, watching them press the paddles against her chest, shocking her heart over and over.
Finally, they stopped, and one of the paramedics looked back at him. "She's gone. We have to let her go."
"No! You can't just…you have to help her please…" He rushed forward, wrenching the paddles from the hands of the paramedics; he somehow knew exactly what to do, alternately shocking her heart and reaching for her pulse.
He kept it up for a long time, until finally he felt a hand on his shoulder. "She's gone, son. It's over. You have to let her go."
"No. No, I can't. No. No. NO!" He repeated the word over and over as they pried her body from his arms; he repeated it until it back a scream; he repeated it until he collapsed on the ground, sobbing uncontrollably.
That's how he woke up, face down on his bed, violent sobs wracking his body.
Peyton was reading through a cloud of tears not two chapters into the book, and they never seemed to go away.
It did not take long to understand that was she was reading was, essentially, the account of Lucas ' life in New York with Lindsey and the account of the life he and Peyton could have had together.
Both were heart wrenching and painful to read.
In spite of its supposed fiction, this book was more like An Unkindness of Ravens than The Comet. There was no metaphorical deciphering needed; these characters were simply them, with slight tweaks in names and trivial circumstances.
The chapters in which Ben (the narrator, who for all intents and purposes was Lucas) was with Kate, the book's equivalent of Peyton, made her ache with longing. She could easily imagine the scenes in the book occurring between them, the ease and comfort and happiness. The chapters when Ben was with his wife, Jessica (the manifestation of Lindsey), were similarly difficult to stomach, not only because of the marriage but because it was indicative of Lucas' obvious misery.
Peyton lay in bed with the pages, tears often streaming freely down her cheeks. She read all night, and by the time she got to the newer part of the story, when the chapters had been about Ben/Jessica turned into him getting a divorce, searching for Kate, finding out she'd moved, and going to fight for her, Peyton was sobbing quietly.
Lucas' words seemed to etch themselves on her heart. She read certain passages or just certain sentences over and over, committing them to memory.
I couldn't understand for the life of me what I had done to deserve another chance. I had long since decided that my choice had ruined me, that my path had been chosen. Now, I had actual evidence to hope that fate could step in anyway, allowing me to end up where I was always meant to be: with her.
She was always a better person than I could ever hope to be. She had an amazing, open heart, and a staggering amount of grace. She forgave me when I couldn't even forgive myself, all because her love was never selfish, never altering.
In the chapters that told the story if he had gone with Kate, they had a son after a year and a half of marriage and, in the simplest terms, lived happily ever after. In the other chapters, the other version of Ben's life, things abruptly cut off after yet another of "Ben's" mistakes with Kate; when he was contemplating the terrifying notion of having to let her go.
Peyton let the manuscript fall from her trembling hands. It was nearly five a.m.
She lay back in her bed, her mind and heart heavy with thoughts and emotions.
Lucas woke up at 6:20 with the beginnings of a dull headache. He'd only been able to fall back asleep two hours ago, and it took him a moment to identify what had woke him up.
There was a pounding on his hotel door, and he pulled on a T-shirt as he headed to the door and opened it.
Peyton stood there, clutching the manuscript in front of her.
Lucas stared at her for a good thirty seconds before he said hoarsely, "Hi."
"How does it end?"
He stared at blearily for a few seconds, still trying to wake himself up and understand that Peyton had actually come. "Sorry?"
"How does it end?" She repeated. "The book."
He met her eyes. "I guess I don't know yet."
She nodded for a little longer than necessary, then blurted out in a shaking, almost fragile voice, "I love you, Lucas." Her lip was trembling, tears pooling in her green eyes. "I-I couldn't remember if I've said that yet. Since you've been here."
She looked so small and scared and broken, Lucas had to resist the urge to pull her into his arms. Quietly, he replied, "You did. Outside your studio, when we were fighitng…you said you're in love with me…"
"Oh yeah." She flushed. "I just wanted to be sure."
Silence fell for another moment, and then Lucas cleared his throat and asked tentatively, "Peyt. What are you thinking? I mean…I just figured if you actually showed up…" His voice trailed off, and he turned pleading, questioning eyes on her. "What does this mean?"
Her voice shaking, Peyton replied, "I want the happy ending part. I really do. The half of the book that wasn't real, the imagined part…God, I want that, Luke. I've wanted it for so long…"
"Me, too." He said quietly.
Peyton thought maybe both of them were thinking the same thing.
And now we can have it.
She shook her head slowly, willing memories away. Then she continued, "But it didn't happen, the other part did, and I just..I don't know if we can get there from here. Do you?"
Lucas took a deep breath, then said simply, "Yes."
Peyton nodded a little, looking up at him expectedly.
Lucas added softly, "I love you, Peyton. And I know now that it's enough. It's everything, it's all there is of me. And no matter what you say right now, whether I take that plane this afternoon or not…I will love you forever. Nothing's going to change that. And I know I have no right to ask, not again. But I…" His voice faltered slightly. "I don't want to leave you again, Peyt. I want us to be together. We can get that happy ending, I know we can. My happy ending…it's always been with you. That's the only way. And I just…really, really want another chance at that."
Lucas' insides seemed to seize up; his heart stopped beating for a brief moment, as though he couldn't dare let himself believe that meant what he thought it did.
Peyton was nodding. It had all hit her at once, a moment of clarity that seemed to make all her pain and fear dissolve it into something inconsequential in the face of this, her possibility for a happy ending. Because her happy ending, her only way to get a happy ending…it was with Lucas. It had to be. And here was her chance at getting it, and to let it slip away because of fear seemed suddenly ridiculous.
Lucas' mouth was dry, his voice raspy as he said shakily, "By okay…do, do you mean-"
"Yes. I want the happy ending with you, Lucas, I do, so yes, yes…" She was crying now, and suddenly she stepped into his waiting embrace, her tears soaking his T-shirt.
He held her tightly for a few long moments, then drew back just the slightest, she looked up at him, and his fingers gently brushed at the tears, one hand cupping her face. "Peyton, baby, don't cry…it's okay. Everything's okay now."
She smiled at him through her tears. "I know it is." Her hand wrapped around the back of his neck and pulled him closer, her lips on his.
He was the only person she'd ever meant who could seem to kiss her with both fervor and gentleness. After a few moments, she murmured against his lips, "God, I love you…"
"I love you," he replied, voice husky with emotion. "And I'm gonna spend the rest of my life proving it."
She moved forward a little, forcing Lucas to move backwards as they kissed. After a moment, he collapsed onto the bed, pulling Peyton onto his lap.
A little later, they lay in bed, Peyton's head resting on his chest, his fingers tangled in her hair. "Hey," he murmured. "Where's your head?"
She looked up at him, and he was surprised to see tears trickling down her face . "Hey…what's wrong?"
She laughed a little, almost embarrassed. "Nothing's wrong, Luke. It's the good kind of crying."
"I don't like seeing you cry. Any kind."
She moved up a little so their faces were level, laying next his on the pillow, their foreheads touching. "It's just…I can't believe this is real. You and me…I've needed to be here for so long…"
"Me, too." He whispered, reaching over to lace her fingers with his. "I love you so much, Peyton. And I know I have a lot to make up for, but I'm going to try everything I can."
She kissed him softly, then shot him a sweet smile. "You already have. There's no point in dwelling in everything that happened, Luke." She gave his hand a gentle squeeze. "We made it. We're going to be fine."
"Better than fine." He smiled. "God, I didn't want to leave. I was so relieved to see you this morning…"
She shot him a teasing grin. "Well, you got lucky then. I was thinking of waiting until you were at the airport. Make it more dramatic."
He arched an eyebrow. "A little cliché of you."
"That's why that strategy was ultimately not selected." He laughed, then she added, "That and the fact that I couldn't wait…I'm sorry you had to buy the ticket, though."
He smiled. "You really think I care?" Then after a pause, he said, "Hey. Why don't we both go?"
"To Tree Hill? "
"Yeah. Come with me. Just for a visit. We can see Haley and Nathan and Brooke…stay for a week or so. What do you think?"
Peyton considered for a moment, then smiled, "Sounds perfect." Her smile faded slightly, and she said, "Luke, I know you weren't planning on actually moving to Seattle...but the studio is here, and a lot of the talent I have is based in the area, and-"
He interrupted, "Then I'll be here."
"Are you sure? I mean, I know this isn't home for you…"
"What did I tell you, Peyt. You are home for me. If you're in Seattle, so am I."
She smiled . "Okay."
He smiled back. "I guess I can write my ending now."
"Let me guess….happily ever after?"
He kissed her again. "Exactly."