I own nothing, not even "Gone Away", by SafetySuit.

Not even going to comment on the length of time it's been since I last updated. Just know that I'm sorry! This really sets in things in motion for the rest of the story.

Seriously, this is an absolutely gorgeous song. I know I use songs in everything and I appreciate everyone who takes my tastes into consideration and for those of you who trust my musical influences you NEED to download this if you don't have it. Its one of those songs where the lyrics (my favorite part of music) have the power to just bring you to tears.


I think about life
And oh how it changes so fast
And oh how it's so hard to last here
Waiting for something to give

"Brooke Davis, you are kind of amazing."

His former girlfriend places her hand on her hip and kinks her brow; her stance totally asks if that was ever a doubt. Lucas chuckles and takes a sip from the bottle of water in his hand. It's the grand opening of her boutique in Tree Hill and it seems like the whole town is here (and that could very well be the case).

"Tell me something I don't know Lucas Scott", she teases. He laughs again, louder this time. Brooke punches his shoulder and when the bell above the door chimes (the music isn't all that loud) their eyes are directed to the people that are walking in.

And Lucas can feel his breath stop.

Her hair is down and in those famous curls, but the thing that really steals his attention is her dress. It's a color green that he's never seen her wear and it dips low between the valley of her breasts. The hemline is just before her knees and that leaves her always wonderful legs exposed to the world. (But he doesn't think it's ever going to be easy to see those scars).

It's also not so easy to see her walking in with Julian.

It's only been a week since he helped Peyton finish painting most of the store and since then he's spoken more with Julian and laid it all out on the line. They don't have to be friends, in fact they probably never will, but they can work together. Lucas wants the movie made more than he's wanted anything in a really long while.

And he believes Peyton and everyone else when they say that Julian isn't connected to her in any romantic way, but it's a little obvious that the man has feelings for her. He can't exactly blame Julian though. It's been years since Lucas has been with her and he's nowhere near being over her.

"Oh yay! My best friend brought my newest boy-toy", he can hear Brooke rasp. Lucas turns his head to look at her and she grins. "Well, I need to find a way to entertain him since he'll be in town so much", she says innocently.

Lucas smirks and rolls his eyes while Brooke shoves his shoulder in jest. They're both laughing when Peyton and Julian approach and when Lucas laughs as he makes eye contact with her, Peyton feels her heart flutter. But she'll never admit that.

"Hey guys", she says with a smile. "Brooke this is amazing!"

"I know right!"

Both girls squeal and embrace which leaves the two men to stand there awkwardly. They nod and Lucas sips his water while Julian scratches his ear. He notices that the girls start to walk off a little bit and he groans internally.

"I was thinking that we should have a meeting pretty soon, just to set things up and get everything in order . . ."

"Sounds good", Lucas agrees while nodding his head. Julian nods again and soon enough they're both standing in silence again. Lucas doesn't know how he's supposed to make an entire movie with a guy he can't make a conversation with.

"I'm gonna get a drink", Julian mumbles and brushes past the blonde. Lucas groans as his business partner walks past him. This movie is a fantastic opportunity for him and he doesn't want to make things too awkward because . . . well that just isn't enjoyable.

"Uhh, so Julian, I was thinking, I know that this is a collaboration, but I want to be more involved with it", Lucas says once he returns. Julian makes a face of interest and Lucas continues. "Well I know this story and these people better than anyone so what if I wrote the screenplay?"

Julian raises his brows. He had asked Peyton if she thought Lucas would be interested in writing the screenplay, but she didn't really know. Writing about Keith the first time was hard for him, having to write out the scene and imagine what was going through Dan's mind as well as Keith's. Julian's glad he didn't have to flat out ask Lucas himself.

"I think that would be really great", Julian says with that grin and offers Lucas his hand. Peyton and Brooke join them just as they shake hands.

"What did we miss?" the brunette asks with a smile. Julian looks at her and then to Peyton.

"Lucas here just decided to write out the screenplay for Ravens", he says in excitement. Brooke's eyes widen, but Peyton's the one to speak.

"Really? Wow", she says in quiet astonishment. Lucas meets her eyes and smiles softly. This is weird; finding each other again. It's almost like high school when he was the loner and she was the popular cheerleader. Except now there's way too much history between them.

"Julian, I want to talk to you about who should play me", Brooke says coyly. He lifts his head and grins at her while Peyton hides her chuckle. They are seriously like the same person. Her brunette best friend reaches forward and places her hand on Julian's arm.

"I guess that's something we need to discuss then", Julian says smoothly. Brooke nods and they both walk off (not before sending Peyton small smiles). Lucas smirks at Peyton and she bites her lip before they both burst into laughter.

"They're kind of the opposite sex equivalent of each other", he comments.

Peyton nods. "Trust me, I know", she says in exasperation. "The paint job looks pretty great, huh?" falling back into a conversation about neutral topics is easy by now. They're pros at avoiding issues and past memories.

"Yeah, I did a great job", he says seriously, but steals a glance at the curly blonde. Her mouth drops and she places her hand on her hips threateningly.

"Please! You stood in the same spot and pushed a pushed a roller up and down!"

He rolls his eyes like he doesn't believe her, but they both know she's right. He didn't move much from the two foot diameter he set up for himself. He kind of liked the view he had – that's a secret that will stay with him.

Peyton eyes the water bottle in his hand. Her mind flashes to what Haley said the day she moved in. as far as she knows Lucas hasn't touched alcohol since she's been home, but of course she can't know for sure. And if Lucas's drinking is as bad as Haley made it seem then there's no way any of them could really know. It's a reality that he could be hiding it from them all.

She places her small silk clutch under her arm and looks past him. "I'm gonna get a drink, do you need anything or are you sticking with the water?" she asks innocently enough.

Lucas shakes his hand while holding up the half empty bottle of water. "This is what I'm sticking with, but I'm alright for now", he assures her.

Peyton nods and walks past him, Lucas breathes in her scent. He's not too discreet in turning his head and watching her saunter off to the counter where the bartender is. He's still a guy and she's still Peyton, of course he's gonna look. Jamie runs up to her and Peyton laughs as she picks him up into her arms.

Lucas thinks tonight has the potential to be a really good night.

I think about time
A luxury so hard to find
And I just can't figure out why I
Wasted it all here without you

He watches from afar as Peyton talks with Nathan's agent. He likes Clay; he thinks he's a good guy. Plus, he's been through his own share of heartache. His wife passed away suddenly a few years ago; an undetected aneurysm caused her to collapse to the floor and she was instantly gone. And he's always done right by Nathan, making sure he stays with the Bobcats and getting him the best deals possible.

But right now, he doesn't like the way he's looking at Peyton.

He knows Clay's been through a lot in the past few years and since his wife's death he's become a one-night stand kind of guy. It's not like Lucas is passing judgment because he was that guy up until a few weeks ago; he just doesn't want Peyton to be another notch on Clay's bedpost. And he doesn't want Clay to be Peyton's first time in three years.

He strides over to the counter with a purpose. Julian and Brooke are totally wrapped up in each other and Nathan and Haley already left for the night. That doesn't leave too many people for Peyton to walk home with. So he sends Clay a nod and then focuses all of his attention on the curly blonde before him.

"I think I'm gonna head home", he says while sneaking a glance at the man who's trying not to eavesdrop. Peyton nods (though she doesn't really know why Lucas is telling her this) and tilts her head to eye the man she's been talking to for most of the night. Clay seems pretty great and she doesn't think she's done getting to know him.

"Okay, well I think I'm going to stay", she says slowly, doubting that's the answer Lucas is looking for. "I'll see ya, goodnight", she reaches her hand and squeezes his forearm. Maybe that bit of courage comes from the three glasses of champagne she's had. The bubbly always goes to her head.

Lucas stands a little straighter and looks at Clay before looking back at Peyton, his Peyton. Without giving it a second thought his hands curl around her thin arms and pull her close to him. He knows Clay's wondering what the hell is going on and he's sure Brooke's eyes are burning a whole into his back, but he doesn't care. Because he just needs to tell her something.

"He's not good enough for you", he breathes out against the shell of her ear.

And then he loosens his grip and glides down her arms to hold her hands before letting them fall to her sides, then he walks out of the boutique. Once the fresh air hits his lungs he sucks it all in. It's like he's riding on the biggest high of his life, but no drugs or stimulants were involved. Just Peyton.

His moment of . . . whatever he's feeling is short lived because the door opens and Peyton steps out like a bat out of hell.

"Hey! Don't do that!" she yells from her place on the carpeted stairs. Lucas places his hands on his hips and furrows his brows. So much for tonight being a good night.

"Do what?"

"He's not good enough for you?" she reiterates his words from just moments before. Lucas bows his head because suddenly the high he was feeling is replaced with guilt (and he doesn't know why). "I don't want you saying things like that to me, Lucas! That's not fair to me!"

And in those short five words his guilt switches to anger.

"You know what wasn't fair to me?" he yells and doesn't wait for her to respond. "Being abandoned by you!"

Peyton blinks and takes a step back like he's just slapped her. He supposes verbally he has, but that's not his concern right now. Right now, he wants to tell her all those things he's held in for years and tiptoed around for weeks now.

"You left, Peyton! You decided that you couldn't handle this anymore and you just took off! I get that it was hard for you, but did you ever once consider how hard it was for me? I lost her too; I lost our baby too, Peyton! And then I lost you!"

He doesn't even know he's crying until the tears hit his shirt. He breaks the steady eye contact they had and once he does Peyton lifts her head and blinks her eyes; her tears will not fall. The tipsy feeling she had disappears and all that's left is a numbing feeling that she knows is going to turn into a killer headache.

"Lucas, I can't –"

"You can't talk about it?" he snidely assumes. "I don't care! Peyton, you got to leave! You got away from the pain and the memories and I live with them every day!"

She stomps down the steps and marches right over to him. Any sadness she felt dissipates and she really just wants to punch him in the face. How dare he make any type of accusations.

"So do I Lucas!" she screams. "Every time I close my eyes I relive those days!" she yells so loud that her voice feels raw and sore. "Don't you dare assume that I don't carry that weight around!"

"Then why'd you leave?" he question brokenly. The sight of him so broken and hurt kills her. And the fact that she did play a part (a vital part) in it kills her even more. "We could have gotten through it together . . ."

"I couldn't . . . I couldn't be around you", she whispers. "It hurt too much", her voice cracks and Lucas's jaw clenches. She can't stop them now. Big, hot tears roll down her cheeks and fall off her chin.

He's not thinking as he pulls her into his arms and kisses her tenderly. He just knows that he wants to and that seems like good enough reason to. Peyton melts into him, the feel of him. His strong arms and soft lips. She's missed him, she's missed this.

But she knows it's not right.

Because he's fucked up and she's fucked up and they can't be together because they'll just fuck each other up even more. She places her hands flat on his chest and pushes away from him. She's still crying and doing her very best to stop it. She's been stronger than this for years now; she doesn't understand why this needs to happen tonight.

"I knew we weren't mean to be", she says stronger than she thought she could. Lucas's eyes darken angrily and he gently shoves her as his hands let go of her arms. He doesn't want to physically hurt her, but he can't stand to be anywhere near her right now.

His jaw quivers, he can feel his eyes burning, and he hates it. He hates that he's just barred his soul and opened old wounds that didn't need to be opened. He hates what Peyton's said. And he hates her more than he's hated anyone (not counting Dan).

And he really hates how badly he wants a drink.

Lucas walks away and Peyton's left sobbing on the sidewalk.

But I'll be fine
Oh don't you worry
Cause I'll be fine
See I'm in a hurry to be

"Peyton when did you accumulate this much crap?" Brooke asks as she furrows her brows at the sight of the boxes that have yet to be unpacked. Her blonde best friend has lived in this house for too long to still be living out of cardboard boxes. And Brooke won't stand for it any longer.

She's also trying to take Peyton's mind off of the disaster the other night turned into.

"I don't know Brooke; I lived on another coast for years! Ever think it's not crap, by the way?" Brooke raises her brows and makes a face as Peyton's voice filters in from the kitchen. No, this all seems to be pure crap.

"Whatever", she mumbles. "I'm hungry! When's lunch?"

Peyton rolls her eyes and walks into the living room. "It's grilled cheese, lunch can be ready in ten minutes", she says simply. Brooke nods and opens another box that's on her hardwood floors.

She takes a sip of her coffee and smiles as her best friend - the head of Clothes Over Bros – takes old items out of a box and dusts them off before placing them on the bookshelf. Brooke's dressed in sweats, her hair is in a messy bun, and it's Sunday (Sunday's are really the only day she has to herself). Peyton's appreciative, but she's not naïve.

Brooke and Julian are the ones who picked her up (literally) off the sidewalk and then had to carry her into her house. Thankfully neither of them have talked about it since then (Julian went back to LA the next morning), but nobody's talked about Lucas. It worries her and she knows it probably shouldn't, but she can't help it. She knows that Lucas has a drinking problem of some sort and she doesn't want to be the trigger.

Too bad that trigger was pulled long time ago.

"I'm gonna start fixing the bathroom", Brooke grabs the box labeled bathroom junk! and heads down the hallway. Peyton sips her coffee some more and leans against the window frame to look out at her gorgeous view.

She's starts reflecting which is never any good, but can't help it. And the days that she finds she can't help doing that are the days she doesn't want to help it. This house should have a totally different feel to it and she should hear the pitter-patter of little feet followed by heavier footsteps that are purposefully slow in pace.

Suddenly her house feels too big. She doesn't need four bedrooms and living on the beach isn't that big of a deal . . . she bought a house she doesn't even need! Her eyes snap shut and she takes a deep breath. Right now Peyton needs to distract herself from her own thoughts. She realizes that she hasn't heard anything from Brooke in the last five minutes and with Brooke that's rarely a good thing.

"Hey B, this is the right thing to do . . . right?" she asks in a timid voice as she rounds the corner. She stops in her tracks when she spots Brooke at the bathroom sink with a small cosmetics bag in her hand.

Her brunette friend eyes her and lets out a breath. "Peyton, what is all of this?" she asks in reference to the bottles of pills that reside in the black zipper bag. Peyton shakes her head and speedily walks over to her.

"It's nothing Brooke", she mumbles as she grabs the bottle from her friends hand and then snatches the cosmetics bag. She turns on her heels and picks up the cardboard box before throwing all the items into it.

"Peyton it's not nothing . . . those are sleeping pills and anxiety and depression meds; they are bottles of pills", she says firmly. There's a mixture of fear and anger in her voice and Peyton stops where she is; she closes her eyes.

"Leave it alone Brooke", she says through gritted teeth. Brooke places her hand on her hip and arches her eyebrow, fully ready for an argument.

"I will not leave it alone", she bites back. "Peyton Elizabeth Sawyer . . . what's going on", her voice is much softer this time. It's obvious she's concerned and Peyton can't really fault her for that (even if she wants to).

Peyton pinches the bridge of her nose and gathers her bearings before turning around. She tosses the box to the ground and kicks it into the guest bedroom. "They're not all full bottles", she starts to mumble, but Brooke will have none of that.

"I know, some of them are empty so that you can run off to the doctor whenever you want and tell him that it needs to be filled again. I work with models Peyton; I know how this shit works. Now tell me why!"

"I was prescribed the sleeping pills after the accident. After I lost the baby I was prescribed Xanax and Prozac", she whispers and Brooke swears she feels her heart stop beating. "I just . . . I was having nightmares about the car accident and the baby and I – I couldn't handle it so my doctor gave me the prescription, but it wasn't refillable. I haven't taken them in a while, but being here just makes it all so hard . . ."

Brooke's stance falls and she walks over to her best friend with a sad smile on her face. "Maybe you should try talking to someone", she offers carefully. "Like a specialist."

"I'm not crazy", she spits out with hard eyes.

"I know that! You're not crazy Peyton, you're –"

It might be obvious, what she's about to say, but Peyton's eyes are daring (or pleading, she can't tell) her to just come out and say it. Because pretty much everyone else has skirted around true feelings and deep dark emotions and quite frankly it's time to stop all the hiding.

"You're broken", her voice cracks and Peyton snaps her eyes shut. "Okay, you're nothing like the Peyton I used to know, but you're trying so hard to fit that mold and it just isn't working. You and Lucas are just so broken and it's so hard to watch", by now the tears are falling down her delicate cheeks.

"I don't want to talk about it", Peyton's voice waivers, but her stance is still strong. Brooke knows the old Peyton is in there somewhere, but she's held down by all the terrible shit she's gone through. "I can't talk about it . . ."

"You need to; it's not healthy to lock it all up, P. Sawyer", Brooke whispers; her voice raspier than usual.

And then Peyton starts crying. It's a little whimper at first, but by the time she's wrapped in Brooke's arms and they're sitting on the floor of her new home that coincides with her attempt at a new life, she's sobbing and shaking and it's obvious she's doing more harm to herself then good.

"I . . . miss he – her", Peyton says between gasping breaths and loud coughs. Brooke doesn't know if her friend is talking about the old version of herself or if she's talking about Emma.

Either way, this feels something like a breakthrough.

Gone away awhile
Tell me all the things that I
I'll be missing here in this old life
Man cause I just don't know

He's sitting alone in his house much like he has for the last few days. The lights are off and the television is on, but it's muted. There's a bottle of scotch on the table and a lowball glass is a third of the way filled with the amber liquid.

He's only left his house to get more liquor and hasn't bothered to answer the phone when people call. He doesn't really care about any of the feelings his friends may have because they haven't gone through half the things he has. And sure, that sounds selfish and a little childish, but it's the truth. In the last three years he's lost more than he ever thought he would.

And he doesn't want to fucking talk about it. He just wants to drink.

It's not healthy and not the smartest thing ever, but fuck it. He raises and drains the glass. By this point it doesn't even burn anymore; as if he's drinking a glass of water. Just as he's pouring another mouthful his front door opens and slams shut.

Nathan stands in the doorway of the living and stares at Lucas. His face is a mixture of disappointment and utter disgust. This man (he uses that word lightly) is supposed to be his older brother; the person he looks up to. Quite honestly there's nothing to admire in the least.

"If Peyton could see you now", he says as he folds his arms over his chest.

"Fuck off, Nathan."

"I'm serious . . . I bet she's kicking herself."

Lucas opens his mouth to spit out a snarky remark, but he's just too tired to. Plus, this whole thing is killing his buzz and that's not something he's trying to do. "How come you're here? Usually Haley comes by."

"I told her not to bother, you weren't worth it", this time Lucas makes a face as the liquid burns his throat. "But she told me that you were still her best friend and my brother."

Lucas smirks softly. "Good ole' Haley, always concerned about everyone."

"That's where you're wrong, Luke. The only person she ever really needs to worry so much about is you because you feel the need to act like a total dick", Nathan says with venom in his voice.

"Don't give me that crap. My life isn't of any –"

"Don't!" Nathan cuts him off and charges into the dark living room. "Don't you dare say that it doesn't concern us because it does Lucas, more then you know, but if you're gonna sit there and say that we don't care or that your life doesn't affect us then I don't know why I'm here at all."

Lucas listens as he turns on his feet and walks down the hall. He wants to let his baby brother walk out that door and not give a shit, but a part of him wants to keep talking and keep yelling and make sure that someone understands his point.

"You don't know what it's like!" he yells as he stands from the chair.

Nathan whirls around and seems to leap towards him. "How are any of us supposed to know? You don't talk to us Lucas! You look for answers in the bottom of a bottle and its gotta stop", he says desperately.

"I have nothing!" the older of the two yells, it actually causes Nathan to flinch. "I lost the only man I ever considered a father when I was eighteen, Peyton nearly died in a car accident, I lost my daughter, and then the love of my life walked out on me! I lose everything that means something to me and I can't do it anymore!"

"We're still here", Nathan shouts back. "You haven't lost everything, okay? Your mom and Lily are here, Haley and Jamie and me; we're all here Lucas!"

"And I can't lose you", Lucas whispers. It starts to make sense to Nathan now, the drinking, the distance he's kept . . . if he keeps everyone shut out then they can't get close enough for it to kill him if he ever loses them.

"Lucas, we're not going anywhere", Nathan promises softly. By now he knows that Lucas has heard that promise more than once in his life and he may not even want to consider him his brother at the moment, but when it comes down to it they're the only real family each other has.

"It shouldn't be like this, you know? It's got to stop sometime. First the HCM and then losing Keith and the baby and Peyton. It's not a reality", he says softly.

Nathan shakes his head and runs his hand through this hair. It's like Lucas will never learn. He isn't the only person in the world who's ever had something tragic to them; he can feel his anger about this entire situation rise.

"It's life Lucas! Do you think Haley and I wanted to have a baby at eighteen? Do you think Karen wanted to struggle to raise you on her own? Or have another child just as you were leaving for college?"

"That's not the same, Nate", Lucas yells.

"I know that, nothing about our lives is typical, Lucas. That's what makes this Tree Hill", he takes a breath and gives it all one more shot. "You know there is one person who knows exactly what you're going through and shutting her out isn't smart."

Lucas's jaw clenches and he walks turns his back on his brother. Nathan watches as he fills his glass with more scotch and downs it only to fill it again. The brunette scoffs and shakes his head.

"Fine; if this is your answer then there's nothing we can do for you. I told Haley this was pointless"

Nathan slams the front door behind him with a force that has the entire doorframe shaking. Lucas shakes his head and lets Nathan's words flow through his veins. He's officially a deadbeat; his own brother thinks he's a lost cause.

Lucas throws his empty glass at the wall and watches as it shatters; much like his life.

I think about you
And all of the times that we shared
And oh what a wonderful pair we
Made it so far here we go again

Haley watches as Peyton walks around the studio. She's seated at the piano and has a birds-eye view of the mechanic state her friend is in. the blonde walks from her desk to the pool table to the recoding booth all without ever having a facial expression.

Haley knows about the incident with Brooke (the brunette called her hysterical crying at eight that night) and she's well aware of the argument that occurred between Nathan and Lucas the other day. The threads are starting to fray and pretty soon this delicate blanket that's coated her two blonde friends is going to shred to pieces.

And they just can't do it anymore. She's kept her eyes on Lucas for the better part of three years and she's done her best to be there for Peyton, even when she was so far away. But she always knew there was going to come a time where she just couldn't be the protector, the mother hen. She never really knew what was going to happen though.

Haley's pretty sure she's going to find out soon enough.

Lucas is lost in his world of alcohol and she's certainly going to deal with him, but right now she wants to talk to Peyton. She was the first person to get her to open up the slightest bit about LA and losing Emma so maybe she can get her to crack. The young mother shakes her head; that's a horrible way to put it and it's a horrible thing to want. But it's completely necessary.

Her phone buzzes next to her and she smiles when Nathan's picture pops up. She picks it up with one eye still on Peyton and quietly greets him. Before she can even get a word in Nathan is yelling. She doesn't understand much of what he's saying simply because he's so mad, but she catches certain bits. Apparently Karen called the house because she hasn't been able to get in touch with Lucas. Nathan's so furious because he had to lie to her and tell her that Lucas hasn't been feeling too well lately, but he'll make sure his brother gets the message.

Haley pinches the bridge of her nose and closes her eyes tightly. Nathan's still yelling and she knows he just needs someone to yell at because he can't yell at Lucas anymore (it does no good) and he wouldn't scream at Peyton (he just wouldn't). So they end up snapping at each other over the smallest things and they both know they're not angry with the other, but at a certain point a person just has to say enough is enough.

Haley's finally reached that point.

"I gotta go babe, Mia's here", she whispers into the phone. Yes, she's lying, but she really needs to talk to Peyton. Just as she's thinking of what to say or how to act Peyton walks into the room and heaves a great sigh.

"I want to give you something", Haley says suddenly. Peyton raises her brows and moves closer to the piano. "I called around and I want you to take this number", she says sternly and slips a small, white slip of paper over to her friend.

"A number for what?" Peyton asks as she examines the name. There's a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach that has her dreading what this name and number mean.

Haley takes a deep breath and rushes out, "It'sforatherapist."

Peyton shakes her head so fast it's as if it'll fly right off her neck. She tries to push the piece of paper back at Haley, "I don't need thi –"

"Stop it!" Haley yells out of frustration. "Stop telling everyone you're fine when you're not! If you were fine you wouldn't have broken down like you did at Brooke's boutique or the other day!"

Peyton blinks. She figured Brooke would tell Haley about the incident at her house, she just didn't expect Haley to throw it back in her face like this. She crumples the paper up and tosses atop the piano; it jumps and rolls closer to the petite brunette.

"Haley, let's just work on Mia's album", Peyton seems to warn. Haley stands and smooths out the crinkles so the name and number are legible.

"No Peyton! This isn't something I'm going to let you get away with not talking about. Now I know you don't like to discuss the car accident and losing Emma, but you have to. This whole time you've been bottling everything up and . . . Peyton you're starting to crack and honestly we aren't going to know what do to when you finally break."

The curly blonde looks at the floor and closes her eyes tightly. Mia's due in the studio in a half hour and this is most definitely not the conversation to be having right before you're only client arrives.

"I don't ever talk about things . . . I brood and I draw and I listen to angry music . . ."

"No, you did that when we were kids. I know it sucks to think about, but we're adults now. You need to start acting like one and that means owning up to things", Haley says without thinking.

"And what does that mean?" Peyton asks with a raised brow.

Haley regrets her words, but it's too late to take anything back now. "You left", she says simply.

Peyton rests her hands on the black piano and takes on the look of an angry bull. "How dare you", she hisses.

"You left", Haley says again. "And Lucas let you. And it all sucks because you were supposed to be together forever and have every dream you ever dreamt be complete with each other. I'm so sorry that you've been dealt such a shitty hand, but you can't keep doing this", she whispers helplessly.

Peyton frowns for all of a second (Haley never cusses); "What exactly am I doing?"

Haley says it flat out because it's the most obvious answer in the world; "Hiding."

"What am I supposed to do? Jump into his arms and tell him that I'm in love with him?" she asks rhetorically.

Haley smiles for the first time since entering Peyton's studio. "I knew you still love him", she says cheekily.

Peyton blushes before shaking her head and smiling sadly. "It doesn't matter Hales, he – he hates me. He has to . . ." she trails off.

"Lucas does not hate you", she says with a gasp. "It's impossible for him to hate you. He's spent the last few years kicking himself over ever letting you leave. Peyton, he didn't want to work with Julian because he assumed you two were dating. Trust me . . . he loves you."

Their moment is cut off when Mia walks through the door. She jokingly asks who died because of the solemn looks on both women's faces. Haley puts on her stage smile (the one she used to use for her concerts, but now she uses to Jamie can't tell when she's upset) and tells the young girl that she's gonna be dead if she's not ready to push out some awesome recordings. The dark haired singer rolls her eyes and makes a comment about being born ready before walking in the direction of the recording booth.

Out of the corner of her eye Haley sees Peyton slip that little piece of paper into her back pocket.

And she feels like she can breathe a little easier.

I think about love
And oh what a beautiful song
And oh how it needs to be sung here
Sing it so loud all the world can hear
I think I'll be

He's sitting in TRIC with a glass of scotch in front of him. He wouldn't even be out of his house, but he ran out of alcohol and he's pretty sure Nathan paid off every liquor store in the area (he doubts that's legal) to refuse to sell him anything.

So here he is in the most obvious place in the world, trying to get drunk. It's not smart (nothing he's done lately is), but this is just the most ridiculous thing he's done lately. He's not worried though. This place is owned by his mother and since she's not here he's the unofficial owner; nobody can kick him out or refuse him.

He motions to the bartender, it used to be Owen and for a while it was Chase, but now it's some grungy looking guy who prides himself on knowing what people like to drink. The bartender man finishes his conversation with another patron and sighs softly as he approaches Lucas.

"Are you sure you need another?" he asks delicately. Lucas squints his eyes.

"I can tell you what I don't need, you telling me what I should and should not do", the blonde barks out before pushing the empty glass in the other mans direction. He's too lost in his dealings that he doesn't notice Julian walk up the stairs and into the club.

But Julian's not looking for Lucas. He needs to talk to Peyton.

The curly blonde is sitting at her desk with her hair pulled into a loose ponytail and her workout clothes on. She needs to hit the gym and work off all the frustration and anger she's got piling up inside of her. There's some last minute paperwork that she has to file and sign and then she's getting out of here and spending a decent hour at the gym and hopefully get in a run on the boardwalk.

Someone walks into the office and she expects it to be Nathan, they haven't talked since before Haley blindsided her with the number of that therapist. That piece of paper is safely tucked into the drawer of her night stand; close enough in case she needs it, but far enough away that she can forget it's there altogether.

The footsteps stop just shy of her direct view. For a second her heart races and she thinks it might be Lucas making an attempt to talk about how they left things. She lifts her head and strains her eyes . . . thankfully it's not Lucas.

"Julian!" she cheers with a wide grin. He legs push her out of her chair and propel her forward. "What are you doing here?"

He reciprocates the hug she offers, but it's halfhearted. He hasn't seen or spoken to her since the night of Brooke's boutique opening. It's not that Peyton hast tried to reach him because she has, but he's been avoiding her. Her freak out didn't freak him out (he works in LA, he's accustomed to them).

"I've been calling you", she says softly as she untangles her arms from his waist. "I'm pretty sure Brooke's in meetings all day"" she informs him once she doesn't get any type of answer.

"I know, I'm not here to see her", he mumbles. Peyton turns and walks closer to her desk. If he's not here to see Brooke then there are only two other reasons for him being here.

"I haven't talked to or even seen Lucas since you left", she says softly as she scuffs her running sneaker against the ground. Julian shakes his head once again.

"I'm not here to see Lucas either."

Peyton bites her bottom lip. That only leaves one other reason.

"You probably have some questions . . ." she trails off.

Julian beats her to the punch; "How could you not tell me?"

Peyton puts the folder on her desk and folds her arms over herself nervously. "I'm guessing Brooke told you?"

Julian narrows his eyes at her accusatory tone. Is she really going to try and blame this on someone else? He takes a step forward as she leans against her desk. He hadn't wanted to get angry, but it's far too late for that.

"After we dragged you to the limo and I carried you inside I was a little confused. Brooke started to tell me some fabricated story, but she broke down, Peyton! And stop trying to make it about other people! I've spent the last two and a half years with you and you never said anything!"

She's spent the last few days being forced to talk about her feelings and emotions. Considering she went over three years without talking about those deep dark secrets, there has been a lot of time for it all to stew. Now it's boiling over and there's apparently no stopping it. She simply snaps.

"I moved to LA because I didn't want to think or talk about it! And I loved spending so much time with you because you didn't know the gory details about my losing the baby or Lucas turning to alcohol and me slipping into depression", she says loudly.

"You should have told me", he argues softer this time. Peyton shakes her head and folds her arms over herself.

"I didn't want to talk about it; I didn't want to remember that it ever happened. Being in LA and around you, it helped me to forget for a little while . . ."

"Until you went home and tried to go to sleep", he supplies as she trails off. Peyton lowers her head.

"I guess Brooke told you about the pills too?"

"I thought we were close", he whispers, ignoring her question (that means it's a yes). "If you had told me I . . . I could have gotten you help. There are great doctors in LA."

"Julian, I didn't want to be helped", she says softly. "I wanted to forget and with you I was able to, and even though it was only for a little while each day, I'm glad that I had you for that time in my life and I'm glad that I have you now . . . as long as you don't hate me", she says meekly.

Julian sighs loudly and shakes his head. "I don't hate you", he mumbles.

Peyton walks forward and wraps her arms around his waist. Julian places his hands just above her lower back and his cheek rests on the top of her head. He's been confused about a lot of things that concern his feelings for Peyton over the last few years. But after the last few days all he wants is for her to be happy again and comfortable. After being (gently) rejected by Peyton for years he's learned he needs to let go of that illusion; plus, he's kind of got a thing for Brooke.

"No more lying though, okay?" he asks softly.

Peyton nods and takes in a deep breath. "No more lying . . . wanna grab something to eat?"

"Nah, you clearly want to get to the gym and I already have plans", he mumbles while turning away from her. Peyton smirks and grabs his arm.

"Plans with a certain best friend of mine?"

"Maybe", he says with a smile. "By the way, Lucas is sitting at the bar."

With that Julian walks out and Peyton takes a deep breath.

Then she walks out to the club.

Gone away awhile
Tell me all the things that I
I'll be missing here in this old life
Man cause I just don't know

He's yammering on about the girl who stole his heart and never gave it back. This isn't the first time he's done this, but every time he has rambled like this it's been a different bartender so they always tend to humor him and listen for a little.

Grubbs is an understanding man. He's been through heartache and he's written about heartache, but he doesn't think it can ever compare to the life that Lucas has been through. He's read the books and he watches the news, Peyton hired him and he's played piano for Haley's little protégé. He knows the Scotts and he knows their extended family and the drama that it carries.

Therefore, he knows Lucas shouldn't be drinking and he definitely shouldn't be drunk.

"Why don't I call you a cab?" Grubbs offers once Lucas takes a break from his rambles. The blonde looks at him and seems to actually contemplate it. But in the end he shakes his head.

"Why don't you get me another drink?"

Grubbs knows his bartending rights and obligations. He could easily refuse to serve Lucas, but in the end that would cause more damage and embarrassment then good. He walks off to get Lucas another drink.

"You don't have to do that Grubbs", Peyton says strongly as she approaches the bar. Lucas makes a face and glares at her. Who the hell does she think she is?

"Yes he does and I think you should stay out of this", he warns. Peyton places her hands on her hips and steps inside the bar. She takes the glass from Grubbs and motions for him to start serving the other patrons.

"He doesn't have to do it if I say he doesn't" she tells Lucas seriously. He shakes his head and leans forward, his weight resting against the wooden top of the bar.

"Peyton, you may own a space in TRIC, but at the end of that day that's all you own", he seethes. "No I suggest you go back into your little studio of yours and make some music."

She absolutely hates his tone of voice. He sounds asinine and pigheaded and she really wants to punch him in the face. Drunk or no drunk, he has no right to talk to her like this.

"Actually when your mother left she signed over TRIC to me. I own this entire space", she throws back into his face proudly. He's crestfallen for a minute, but quickly recovers.

"You're lying", he says with his eyes squinted.

"If you don't believe me than you can call her, although I don't think she'd appreciate a drunken phone call from her twenty-three year old son", Peyton spits out.

He gulps noticeably and Peyton smirks internally. This isn't exactly how she imagined their first time talking would go, but that's the thing with them. There's always some element of surprise. And she really doesn't want to think it, but it really does hurt to see him sitting here like this. Let's be honest, she'd have to be a fool not to think this has at least a little to do with her.

"Look . . ." he starts to say, but she cuts him off.

"No you look, as the owner of this bar I have the right to refuse service. Lucas, you need to leave", she orders.

She doesn't stick around to see how he reacts, simply turns on her heels and walks out from the behind the bar. As she passes Grubbs she pauses and quietly asks him to call Lucas a cab. He assures her that he will do just that.

Lucas watches her walk away and is overcome with the urge to follow after her, take her by the arms, and . . . well he doesn't really know what else he'd do, but he just wants to run after her.

But as usual, he doesn't.

He looks over at Grubbs to double check that he isn't going to serve him any more drinks and when the bearded man shakes his head, Lucas scoffs. Ever since Peyton came back into town she's been consistently screwing things up and it's pissing him off. He grabs his jacket off the back of the bar stool and pushes the heavy door open before storming down the metal stairs.

It's a cool evening and when Lucas sticks his hands into his pockets he finds his car keys. He's parked just a few feet away and his desire for alcohol is just too great. He knows there's a small liquor store just outside of town. It wouldn't take more than twenty minutes to get there.

He's still deep in contemplation when a yellow cab pulls up in front of him. He clenches his keys into a fist in his hand and laughs bitterly. She acts all tough and bitchy, but she'll still call a cab for him?

"Hey buddy, you needa ride?" the older man asks through the rolled down window of his taxi. Lucas has dealt with Haley and Nathan and Brooke being there for him and telling him to get his shirt together and he can handle that because he knows they care.

And if Peyton's doing the same thing . . . it means she still cares.

And that's more than he can bear right now.

Lucas smiles his best charming smile and waves him off. "Nah, I just got here", he lies easily. In recent years he's found that lying and denial are pretty much second nature.

The driver seems to hesitate before nodding his head and driving off. Lucas watches the taillights as they disappear down the softly lit street. He walks in the direction of his vintage mustang and fidgets with his keys. Somewhere deep down inside he knows that he shouldn't be doing this.

But he's ignoring that voice completely in favor an escape from reality. Everything with Peyton and Nathan and Haley is just too much and he knows that if he doesn't drink more he's never going to get to sleep tonight and that's all he wants to do. So he gets into his car, starts the engine, and pulls out of the parking lot.

Lucas never makes it to that liquor store.

I just don't know
I just don't know

He's hooked up to monitors and can hear the beeping and smell the disinfectant. Everything's still a little fuzzy, but he definitely knows he's in the hospital. His body's sore and he can't move his left leg. For a second he thinks he had another heart attack.

And that seems to trigger the memories.

It wasn't a heart attack at all; he almost wishes it was. After he pulled out of TRIC he made it down the straight road and managed to turn along the necessary streets. But sometime during all that he lost his train of thought and ran a red light. His car hit a pole.

That's the last thing he remembers before falling back into a slumber.

When he wakes up again Haley is clutching his hand and sitting at his bedside. She lets out a breath of air and lunges forward to gently hug him. She kisses the top of his head and rests her cheek against his forehead.

"Oh thank God you're okay", she says in complete and utter relief. Lucas is pretty sure she's the only one who's glad to see him awake . . . maybe even alive.

"Did anyone else get hurt?" he asks with a raspy voice. Haley grabs the cup of water and guides the straw into his mouth. After he takes a large gulp she says;

"You remember? The doctor wasn't sure if you would . . . no, no other cars were hit", she promises. He nods his head thankfully and closes his eyes. This might just be the most sleep he's gotten in years.

"I can't do this anymore Lucas", she whispers. "None of us can, it's all too draining and this was just the icing on the cake. It just . . . this isn't – we're just all so tired", she whispers brokenly.

Lucas keeps his eyes closed and his face expressionless. The truth is, he hates himself right now more than he ever has in the last few years. He's sunk to a new low and he deserves to be abandoned. He just doesn't want to face it right now.

Soon enough he falls asleep and Haley kisses his head one last time before leaving the room.

When he opens his eyes he finds a fierce brunette with fire in her eyes, leaning against the closed door to his room. He wants to close his eyes and pretend he's still sleeping, but it's far too late. She's storming over to him.

"How could you be so fucking stupid!?" she growls between clenched teeth. He knows she isn't expecting a real answer so he simply lays there. "You have nothing to say? Are you even sorry?"

"Of course I'm sorry!" he snaps back. "I never wanted to be the person who took someone else away from their family", he comments softer this time. His heart monitor began to soar and with his preexisting condition that's probably not the greatest thing to happen.

Brooke's face turns solemn and he notices the tears that start to gather. He's just about to question it, when she speaks; "You're doing that anyway."

Before he can comment on it she wipes her eyes and walks out of the room. Lucas is left to think of all the hurt he's caused his family.

It takes him a while to fall back to sleep after Brooke leaves; his mind was racing. But he knows that he did eventually because he's jolted awake by the sound of his brother clearing his throat.

"I don't want you to talk", Nathan says, he raises his hand to stop Lucas from saying anything. "I'm just here to tell you that I'm done. Haley and Brooke are done. Lucas I cut you out of my life once this will be easy for me. Don't call the girls because they'll cave and I'll be pissed. You're not a person we need around and Jamie doesn't need to see his Uncle acting like a fucking douche bag."

He says his peace and walks to the door. Before he leaves he turns again and Lucas is hopeful that something positive will leave his mouth. That's not the case.

"From this moment on, you're back to being the bastard son I never wanted to know."

Lucas wishes he could be pissed off at everything Nathan said, but he knows it wasn't said without merit. He hasn't been a good person for a really long time and he used to pride himself on being one. He almost doesn't want to fall asleep because he's scared to death that his mother is going to be the next person he sees when he wakes.

When he wakes up later that night (he knows this because it's dark outside) he's more than surprised to see Peyton standing at the foot of his bed. Her arms are folded over herself and with the aid of the moonlight he notices the dried tear tracks.

"Hey", he says softly. She bites her lower lip and lets out a shuddering breath of air. Lucas knows this is going to be the worst conversation he gets today.

"You could have killed someone", she whispers sadly. "You could have killed someone or really hurt them . . ."

And that brings on the memories he desperately tried to keep out.

Lucas walked back into the bedroom and climbed in next to her. She smiled as he carefully rested his hand on her stomach and his head next to hers on her pillow.

"Who was at the door?" she asked softly, clearly not letting him rest without knowing. He looked over at her and moved his hand from her belly for just a second, to brush some hair from her face.

"That was the detective who's working the accident case", he said softly. Peyton's eyes widened and she seemed to stop her breathing.

"Well what did he want? Did he say anything important?" she pried.

Lucas cleared his throat and said; "They don't usually do this unless it's a lawsuit or something, but he wanted you to know . . . the teen that was driving the car, he was over the legal limit."

"He was drunk?" she said with a scowl. Lucas nodded and Peyton let out a noise of utter disgust. "Drunk drivers kind of haunt us, huh?"

Her mother. His accident with Keith. Now her accident can be added to that list.

"I just don't understand how someone can even do that. Don't they realize that they could hurt someone, or even worse, kill them?" he asked rhetorically.

"No everyone's a good person, Luke", she whispered lovingly as she stroked his cheek. She leaned up carefully and kissed him. "I'm lucky I got one of the good ones."

"I'm sorry", he says as she stands before him. Peyton shakes her head and starts to back away.

"You don't need to apologize to me", she assures him. But they're both pretty sure he actually does. "We called your mom, but never got through so she doesn't know about the accident; it's probably better that way", she whispers.

"Peyton I –"

She doesn't give him the chance to finish because she doesn't know what's going to follow those two words. Besides being afraid of his words, she feels the pressure building behind her eyes and she doesn't really want to cry in front of him. So she walks away.

"I'm so sorry", he whispers into the dark room.

And for the first time in a long time, he lets the memories play in his mind like old movies.

He cries himself to sleep that night.

But I'll be fine
Oh don't you worry
Cause I'll be fine
See I'm in no hurry
No I'll be fine
Oh don't you worry
Cause I'll be fine
See I'm in a hurry to be

He thanks the older man and gives him a generous tip. The second Lucas walked out the hospital doors he was very accommodating. It couldn't have been easy since he's at least forty years older, but he made it look easy. He carefully gets out of the taxi and takes a deep breath.

Nathan wasn't kidding when he said he was done, but Lucas can't dwell on that now.

Lucas hobbles up the steps of his house on the beach. From the outside it's pristine with its wraparound porch and white shutters. But he knows inside is a completely different story. And he's going to change that.

He pushes open his front door and leaves his crutches leaned up against the wall. He doesn't technically need to use them, but the doctors told him it would be a good idea. He's got two bruised ribs and a sprained ankle. He's lucky, he knows this, but it's going to make cleaning things more difficult than ever.

He starts with the little things. He opens his windows wide so that the ocean breeze filters in and fills the house with that wonderful salty smell. Then he grabs some garbage bags and checks all the nooks and crannies of his place. He knows where he hides the bottles and he knows they need to go.

The person he's become is not the person he wants to be for the rest of his life. If anything his car accident was the biggest wakeup call he could have ever asked for (not that he would have asked for it to happen).

He passes his stereo and stops to put on an old CD that he hasn't listened to in years. The second the first song starts to play a smile spreads across his face and he continues to hobble around his house, filling the garbage bag with a variety of filled and empty bottles.

She can tell it's going to rain. The birds are squawking and the breeze is stronger than it has been all day. As she approaches Lucas's house she watches the shutters swing back and forth and can hear the loud music that's playing.

Peyton stands in his doorway and watches as he hops around the house. He's wiping down furniture and fluffing pillows. She thinks this is probably his first step at being a different person. A better person.

"Hey!" Lucas says over the music. He limps over and lowers the volume. "Hey", he says again; much softer this time.

"Nathan told me you got released today", she says instead of greeting him. He nods his head and lets out a soft laugh.

"I didn't think any of them even knew", he mumbles. Peyton runs her hand through her hair. He doesn't sound bitter or anything, but she still feels the need to defend the others.

"They just . . . they don't know how to handle it", she says softly. Lucas slowly walks closer to her. He cannot believe that after everything she's standing here talking to him and making it seem like what he did is something that she can handle; it's not. It's not something any of his friends should have to deal with.

"Neither do you."

Peyton can feel her eyes burn and she really dislikes that she's opened these floodgates because they never stop. She cries almost all the time and it's been weeks since the opening of Brooke's boutique. She needs to deflect the conversation away from her.

"Nathan, Haley, Jamie, and Brooke; I know they'll miss you so much and Julian has been looking forward to working with you for so long, I know he'd hate to miss out on that", she says with a shaky voice.

"And you?" he asks bravely. Peyton meets his eyes and her tears slowly spill over; gliding down her reddened cheeks. She really didn't want to make this about her, but right now this moment they're having . . . it just feels right.

"Do you really need to hear me say it?" she questions tearfully. The song changes and it confirms her earlier thoughts; she gave him this CD years ago. When they were juniors in high school and teetering the lines of friendship and more.

Lucas swallows and whispers, "Yeah", while nodding his head.

Peyton takes in a deep, shuddering breath. "Lucas, if anything ever happened to you . . ." she trails off to suppress the sob that's gathered in the back of her throat.

Lucas instinctively takes a step forward and absolutely aches to touch her. Peyton crying has always been his kryptonite (aside from her legs). Without caring to think it might be inappropriate or dangerous, he lifts his hand and brushes away her falling tears with his thumb.

The last time Lucas really saw her cry was the day they she gave birth to their daughter. He could feel her slipping away after that, but didn't try hard enough to keep them together. He lost himself in booze and decided that struggling for their relationship was pointless.

Well he won't let that happen again.

Peyton leans into his light touch. It's been so long since he's touched her and the fact that he's even willing to must be a good sign. She unconsciously takes a small step forward and breathes in his scent; it seems to be the one thing that hasn't changed about him.

"Do you want to stay for some coffee or something?"

Peyton blinks her eyes and takes in a gust of air. She runs her hand through her blonde locks and shakes her head. Staying probably wouldn't be the best idea. They're both emotional and lonely and . . . she just shouldn't stay here.

"I should head home before the storm hits", she whispers. Lucas nods and drops his hand from her face. She offers him a small smile and backs away from him and to the front door. Lucas ingrains every small detail about her into his brain (as if he hadn't done so for years).

He watches as Peyton stops once she has the door open, she bites her bottom lip and he takes a deep breath. He's always loved when she does that. He's got a million and one thoughts swimming through his mind and he really needs to clear them out.

"I know we haven't been the best versions of ourselves lately, but if something doesn't change we'll never get those people back. I miss those people", she breathes out. He closes his eyes; he misses those people too.

Within the hour he's got a bag packed and is on his way to a treatment facility just outside of town.

Gone away awhile
Tell me all the things that I
I'll be missing here in this old life
Man cause I just don't know

Let me know what you think!