A/N: Okay, so I know I said I was done with the OTH fics, but then my muse got a hold of Peyton and it signed me up for this challenge over on Live Journal called "5_loves" where you claim a character and write five oneshots of five different pairings for them. And Peyton really kind of works for that….so yeah, here I am with the first one. Using the prompt "truth" for this LP one.
Warning: Minor Peyton/Julian (and miniscule Peyton/Jake).
Disclaimer: I don't own OTH. If I did, I'd probably be watching it when it aired instead of Heroes on Monday nights. I also don't own Mother Goose and all her rhymes...although that would be pretty sweet if I did.
Her mommy used to recite Mother Goose from memory.
Georgie Porgie, Little Bo Peep and Humpty Dumpty.
Quite ironic then that Peyton tiptoed a ledge until they pulled Mommy's plug. She lost her footing and cracked like that silly egg. And as Daddy tried to tape together silk thin shells, the only story running through her head was a three word phrase, people always leave.
It stuck with her longer than the nursery rhymes did.
She used to know what she wanted. There was a pretty little laundry list tacked up on her bedroom door. Names of men Brooke approved of. Bands she always wanted to see. Jobs she thought would be entertaining.
There was no Lucas on that list.
And then he appeared. Again and again and again. And she painted over doors with dark paint and etched true love into wood like it made it real.
And now, there is no longer lists of wants but one want that disguises as a need and makes her crumble into this whiny mess of a person. This girl who wanders through deserts chasing an oasis.
He wonders why she can't tell him things. Why it took her a whole month to tell him about Julian. Why they pretend names like "Lindsey" and "Brooke" are punch lines to a joke.
Reflection is a disease that infects the steady path he's offering her now. She's so tired of being lost.
And that's all reflection will get her.
Sometimes, Peyton wonders how long ghosts can chase you. Lucas, who will always read her mind like she's the book he wrote (and yes, technically he did), will always have something to say to keep her thoughts from wandering in the wrong direction.
"You've been so good to me," Lucas sighs into her hair after Lindsey calls to give Lucas his weekly numbers on The Comet.
Lucas's words are like slanted mirrors in dressing rooms. They give a distorted view of the world -- flattering, yes, but wrong.
Peyton can't forget there's still a woman peddling Lucas's book who used to wear his engagement ring. And there's a man whom she shared a bed with who's taking Lucas's words and turning them into foundations for a house of glass to play on screens around the States.
But, she trusts Lucas to tell her what she needs to hear.
It's working. For now.
Jake calls Lucas.
Says he signed a release for Lucas to use his name in the movie. (Doesn't say he spent three hours swapping stories over Lucas's fiancé with the producer.)
Congratulates him on finally getting Peyton to settle down. (Doesn't mention that hot Savannah night that ended with her proposing to him.)
Wishes him the best of luck. (Doesn't add that he thinks Peyton won't make it down the aisle).
He bites his tongue and plays nice because he likes Lucas and he likes Peyton even more. And above all, Jake likes it when people he likes are happy.
Peyton walks in half way through the conversation and when Lucas hangs up the phone, she asks who it was.
"An old friend," he says simply.
A lie by omission. Necessary though. Their baggage already takes up the master bedroom of the house.
There's a girl standing in front of a three way mirror. She is covered in white satin and beaded trim. A box hat and hair pinned up messily. There
It takes Peyton six seconds to realize she's staring at herself.
There are parts of her she can't remember. Parts she lost when he asked her to marry him. Parts lost when he walked away. When he started seeing someone else. When he almost married a girl named Lindsey.
He chips away at her little by little until the face staring back at her is not what she wants but what he always saw.
She's happy though even if it's not her idea of happiness.
Sometimes you can't get what you want.
"You're going to go through with this right?" Brooke mutters through the pen she's got stuck between her teeth.
There's a suitcase in Brooke's bedroom filled with Peyton's stuff. Just in case -- because Brooke knows her all too well.
It's their little secret.
Julian keeps his duffel bag packed. Unzipped and balancing tediously on the chair next to the door. At the bottom, there are pictures from when they were dating and a teddy bear she won him at Disney Land. He's never been good at letting go, or maybe he's just not good at cleaning. Either way, memories of her sit idle at the bottom of this bag.
When he knows she's happy, he'll leave, he said.
It's been two months and he can't go.
He can't unpack either.
Some people would call these mixed signals.
"Do you think it's possible to love someone so much that you wonder if they could ever love you the same way?"
Haley purses her lips. She is the middleman, territory that comes with being Lucas's best friend. Her mother had warned her when she was little that the oldest Scott was trouble. All she saw was a scrawny kid with hands in his pockets. It's the quiet ones that break hearts, Lydia had said. And Haley had learned that from observing, glad Nathan swept her away before she too could be lured away. No one was immune to Lucas Scott. No one.
"Lucas loves you." The three words are released by the press of a button. A default setting for a broken record.
Peyton's smile is frail, tired almost. "You didn't answer my question."
Haley knows things, knows Lucas. But she doesn't know which one of them Peyton's question is referring to.
"Lucas loves you as much as you love him."
Haley sees Peyton frown and holds back a sigh.
Haley knows things, and then there are those things she likes to forget she ever saw.
She leaves Haley's house and doesn't cry until she's in the freezer aisle of the grocery store staring at frozen pizza. Then, she's turning on her heel and smacking right into some unsuspecting shopper.
Only it's not just anyone.
She crumbles to the ground seeing him there because this...this is all too much. Julian picks her up by the arms and straightens her out. He doesn't say anything until they're out of the store.
"You know, they say third time's a charm."
She's still laughing when she gets home.
When Brooke worries, she sleeps with inappropriate men. It's either that or take up smoking again.
"You need to go home."
Julian is scanning through another screenplay, pretending to ignore her. Brooke is getting dressed, her plans of sneaking out while he was asleep foiled when she discovers he never sleeps anymore. Stage four of five for grieving over a girl like Peyton. Brooke knows the stages. They were hers for Lucas.
"I'll even drive you to the airport." The desperation catches him off guard and his eyes soften as much as they can for her.
"Brooke." His hand reaches out, curves around her bicep as she goes to close her earring "It's okay."
"You were just a rebound. Get over it and go home" she says coldly. He hears the silent 'before it's too late' and that removes all the sting it could have had.
"Life is complex, Brooke Davis," Julian shrugs, "We weren't just rebounds."
Brooke nods because he's right. They were necessary catalysts to a chemical reaction which ultimately led to their own destruction. Part of someone else's destiny.
It just sounds nicer if you call it a rebound.
Her cell phone is dead and Lucas is using the home line so she digs his cell phone out of his pocket so she can call Brooke. The first number on the received call list is one she used to know by heart.
"You've been talking to Jake?"
Lucas tilts the portable phone away from his mouth to answer her. "He called once -- wanted to congratulate me on the book."
"Oh," Peyton's fingers skim the edge of the table. She wants to ask how he's doing. How's Jenny doing. If he asked about her. All inappropriate things to ask her fiancé about her ex fiancé.
The past hits her like a wave, throws her off balance so that she's hanging by a thread off this ledge they built.
She doesn't even realize she's leaving until the car keys dig into her palms.
"Where are you going?" he asks.
"Just a drive," she says, braving an unconvincing smile.
She drives, and drives and drives. Calls Daddy. Calls Derek. Leaves a message for Mick.
There is a moment before life changing decisions where all a person can feel is calm.
The eye of the storm.
She stands in Julian's doorway.
"I don't know what I'm doing here."
He leans against the door, closes his eyes.
"Go home, Peyton." He can feel her step forward, her body covering the light from the streetlamps outside. Her hand rests against his cheek, briefly. Fingertips trail over his cheekbones, as if remembering and forgetting the feel underneath them all at once. Then, the touch disappears.
When Julian opens his eyes, he knows she's gone.
"You came back," Lucas whispers.
And she leans in, brushes her lips against his.
"I never really left."
And maybe that's not a lie.
with joyous hearts
we invite you to attend
the wedding of
Peyton Elizabeth Sawyer
Lucas Eugene Scott
Julian crumbles the words with his fist and tosses the invitation across the room. It misses the trash can and lands in the duffel bag by his bedroom door, keeping the company of other parts Peyton lost along the way.
Peyton whistles an unwritten tune while she tries on her outfit for engagement party. The green dress hugs her entire body. She's been losing weight. A toothpick ghost stares back at her in the mirror, and she feels sick.
"Happy looks good on us," Lucas whispers as his arms wrap around her stomach.
He has bags and worry lines under his eyes as if he hasn't slept or stopped thinking in days. He's withering away too.
Peyton smiles, all saccharine and glowing. Because she is happy, even if her whole body aches like it's miserable. Happiness has drained them both.
The lies probably looked better on them.
Brooke still keeps a list full of tabs of her brethren:
Julian's gone home.
Lindsey's back in New York.
Anna's experimenting her way through European graduate schools.
Pete Wentz...he's married that Ashlee Simpson chick right?
Jake sings a lighter tune in Savannah.
And Brooke sits back and laughs, her bridesmaid dress wrinkled already from the car ride to the church. She laughs because of all the lovers scorned, she's the only one who gets to watch this tale told by idiots finally end.
'I do' falls from Peyton's lips like hallelujah, and that's all the crowd before her hears.
She waits for the relief she knows she won't feel and scans the crowd for faces she knows she won't see. Then, he's sealing his lips over hers in a promise to love, honor and cherish.
There's a fountain outside their reception hall.
Peyton jumps on the base, walks around the circle over and over again, like she's nine all over again (and old habits really do die hard). She holds her balance as she goes. She walks until she gets a headache. Walks until she trips and falls.
Lucas catches her before she can hit the ground.
Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall
All the kings' horses and all the kings' men
Couldn't put humpty dumpty together again.