If you all haven't heard the "news" about S7 and Chad… well you're lucky. My heart is positively broken in two. I don't want a S7 whatsoever, especially not without Chad/Lucas. Let's hope the show ends this season. I don't even know if I can watch the rest of this season, but I do know that I am feeling very angst ridden, and I was insanely inspired for this.

So I know this setting has been done before, the post 3x16 world, but I have a very different plan for it, and I hope you all trust me enough to do a good job with it. I'm really invested in this story. I was going to wait until after TSITT, but I just couldn't anymore. Seeing as I don't know what the fate of OTH will be, I want to get this out there - it's something I've been planning forever. Don't worry for those who follow TSITT, it'll be finished soon. I promise.

Here's what you need to do: takes place directly after 3x16. That's all, the rest you'll have to find out. It will be kind of a slow start, but we'll really get into it the next chapter. My timeline will be different, for sure. I'm stealing a lot of ideas, but it's going to happen on my own time.

The water is rushing in
I feel it on my skin
Our boat is sinking now
I wake up
I grab my things
As the waves keep
Rollin in
I ask myself
Oh whats the point?
Whats the point of it all?
Whats the point?

A maple leaf whispering across the graveyard caught Lucas's eye, happy for the momentary distraction. He never expected that the day he put his uncle in the ground - the man who was a second away from really becoming his father - would find the sky as blue as ever, encasing the shining sun, with not a cloud in sight. The weather was warm, and if this had been any other day - this would constitute the perfect fall day.

It isn't any other day. And there isn't any sign of rain or cold weather or dark clouds like he'd depicted in his mind or read in novels. Keith Scott's life had been taken, and today all of his loved ones have gathered around the grave site, bidding one last goodbye.

The preacher - who frankly, doesn't know a damn thing about Keith or how much he'll be missed - rattles on while Lucas stares straight ahead, unseeing.

He tries not to think of his uncle who's life has tragically been cut short.

Or the boy - who despite the act of violence, was still just a boy - who'd taken his own life mere seconds later.

He tries not to think about Peyton's near-lifeless body in his arms as he carries her out of the school.

The chill in her hands, but the warmth of her lips against his.

The way his mother had sobbed every night - all 3 of them, and he figures it can only get worse now that it seems so final - leaving him to either comfort her or blink back tears himself.

But most of all: he tries not to think - so fucking hard, he tries not to think - of the fact that had he not run into that building... Keith would still be alive.

Instead he focuses on soft cries around him.

Brooke is sobbing quietly, but he can hear her and it tears at his heart. She's been amazing to him and his mother since the shooting, and he's thankful for that - really, he is. But the hovering is too much to handle.

Haley is shaking with silent tears streaming down her cheeks. He knows her well enough to know that she'll break down in private with Nathan later. His brother is stoic, but his grip on his wife is tight.

"And now we ask for the strength to help us navigate the stages of our grief, as we lay our brother Keith to rest…"

The priest spews words that Lucas is sure are supposed to mean something, but altogether mean absolutely nothing to him. He walks forward to grasp a handful of dirt, shakily dropping it on top the casket.

He watches as one by one, the funeral attendants repeat the same action until the casket has been lowered and no one remains but him and his mother. Her hand grasps his and his lip starts to quiver. When he reaches over to wrap his arm around her, and her head falls to his shoulder, his insides burst, but the tears that he's sure are supposed to be present, never come.

Give me heart
Just give me hope
Give me love
Just give me warmth
Give me all I never knew
Give me something
To hold on to

Peyton bites her lip as she stares at the house in front of her. She's visited the Roe/Scott residence dozens of times - each time held a separate memory. Even with the heartbreak she'd experienced here, it always represented a home full of warmth and love to her.

Now, it just seemed cold and daunting. Through the windows, she could make out people milling about - all dressed in black. Not being able to make it to the funeral had her bursting into tears in her hospital bed, but she had been determined to make it here.

As her father led her into the house, her insides twisted. She didn't want to see the devastation of the people she loved. It was too hard.

She'd been through this at such a young age - to see Lucas and Karen, and countless others suffering wasn't going to be easy to swallow.

Brooke and Lucas are the first two people she lays eyes on. Before she can speak a word, Lucas is walking toward her, but her father intercepts.

"Lucas, I'm so sorry." Larry speaks sincerely. He's known utter heartbreak, himself. "I wanted to say thank you for saving my little girl."

Lucas shakes the older man's hand and nods.

Larry knows that somewhere deep inside - even though the boy he'd once deemed Rake Boy is dating his daughter's best friend - that Lucas wouldn't have ever been able to take anything happening to Peyton.

At the same time, Brooke walks over to her best friend. "Hey buddy," she speaks softly. Almost treading the water.


"I'm sorry I haven't checked in lately, I've just been busy with Lucas and Karen…"

Peyton internally freezes. She wants to be upset. She wants to cry and yell at Brooke and tell her that she's her best friend, and she should've been there.

But then her eyes catch a flash of blonde hair and she crumbles. And then does what she does best.


"Yeah, of course."

Brooke sighs in relief. "I'm glad you're gonna be okay. I mean, you're gonna be okay, right?"

"Yeah, I'm gonna be fine," she assures. "I'm just gonna have to do some physical therapy stuff, so…"

They stand in awkward silence for a moment, both realizing it shouldn't be like this with your best friend, but then again, they both know where Lucas was at the time of the shooting, and it wasn't with Brooke.

"Well can I get you anything? Any food?"

"No, I'm okay really. I just came to see Karen."

Setting her crutches upright, she hobbles away. Working her way down the hallway, she passes Lucas and her father, and for a moment Lucas catches her eye - and everything she's been thinking since the shooting is conveyed between them.

It's not lost on the brunette standing in the living room.

Time goes by so slow
When you're waiting
For a rescue boat
The water's getting cold

After having sat with Karen for longer than she'd intended - the woman who'd been so sweet to her for as long as she'd known, had broken down on her shoulder, and Peyton hadn't had the heart to leave, so they'd cried together over lost loves - she made her way back to find her father, but was pulled into a room by a familiar pair of hands.

"Lucas!" Peyton gasps, clutching a hand to her heart. This movement has her crutches clattering to the floor.

Lucas leans down to pick them up and hand them back to her. "Listen can we talk?"

She nods and moves to sit on his bed, but he stays standing in front of her.

"How are you holding up?"

Her tone is soft and the words almost sink into his soul. His eyes flutter shut momentarily before opening back up. "Okay."

He's showing clear signs of shutting down, but she refuses to let that happen. "Lucas, don't shut down. Not on me. I just… I know how you are. I'm the same way."

Lucas moves to sit on the opposite end of the bed, but doesn't say anything. They sit in silence for a few moments until she begins to move toward the door. "I should get back to my dad," she mumbles. "Let people in, Luke. You won't make it through if you don't."

"Why weren't you there?"

The questions shocks Peyton from leaving. Her head snaps around to look at him and her eyes begin to water. She tries not to take it personally - his uncle has just passed and she of all people knows what it's like to lose someone you love so fully, completely.

Stuttering over her words, her voice is no more than a soft whisper, "Luke… you know I -"

Lucas is fuming, short breaths coming through his nostrils. He jumps up from the bed and begins to pace. "No, you should've been there Peyton. My uncle was put into the ground today." His hands begin to shake. "And I needed you there. You weren't there."

Hobbling forward, she ignores the fresh pain throbbing in her leg. Dropping her crutches, Peyton reaches forward to wrap her arms around the lost boy.

Lucas squeezes his eyes shut, not allowing himself to release the tears pooling in his eyes, and refusing to accept the comfort Peyton so badly wants to give him. He wants it too, but he can't. Not from her.

Pushing her gently away, he sidesteps, pretending to miss the flash of pain that is shining through her - now dull - emerald eyes.

"Lucas it's okay to be upset. It's okay to show it."

Shaking his head furiously, he rejects that notion. "No, I can't." After a beat. Again. "You should've been there."

Sighing, Peyton shrugs sadly. "I know. I tried Luke. The discharge process took forever - by the time I was out, the funeral was ending. I'm sorry." Lucas refuses to meet her eyes, so she brings her hands to his face, gently titling it in her direction. "I'm sorry." She repeats.

For a moment, Lucas allows his shield to crumble; tears begin to build, throat tightens, and frown lines tug at his lips. But then he looks into her eyes, and all he can see is the blood stained carpet of the library, her tear stained face, Jimmy, Keith - and instantaneously the barrier is back up.

For a moment - and it's just a single moment in time - Lucas's inner voice whispers that had she not needed to be saved yet again, there would've been no reason for him to run into that building and Keith would still be alive.

He'd be on his way to officially becoming Keith Scott's son. And his mother would be an ecstatic bride.

Lucas shakes his head of the thought almost immediately. But it still doesn't erase the fact that the seed has been planted.

Removing her hands from his face, he steps around her and opens his door.

She watches him turn back to her and open his mouth, as if to say something, but instead he shakes his head and walks out.

It takes all she has not to break down.

And the ocean
Is not a home
When you feel it
All alone
Well it's time to let you go
Let you go
Let you go

It's been five days since the funeral.

Five days since Lucas has spoken to her. Five days since Brooke has been around. Five days since she's felt anything but numb.

There had been a ridiculous party thrown by Rachel and Brooke at the school for Lucas - for everyone, really. It had been a way to forget for one night, but Peyton knew that it would never work. Lucas was losing himself to the grief, and a party seemed so inappropriate. Instead of showing up, she'd curled up in her bed with her beloved sketchbook - but nothing had worked its way out.

Haley had been a rock for all of her friends. She'd called Peyton every day to check in. That was how she heard about the party, and how she'd heard that Lucas had exploded on Brooke, telling her that while the party was good in theory, it had been entirely wrong placed.

Peyton had been brokenhearted that Brooke hadn't been the one to tell her any of this, but then again, she'd come to not expect much from the brunette lately.

Sitting on her porch, she was broken out of her reverie by footsteps on the wood floor.

"Sawyer," Nathan greets, sitting down next to her on the step.

"Hey Peyton," Haley hugs her in greeting.

Peyton raises a brow at the married couple. "Not that I'm not happy to see you both, but what's with the impromptu visit?"

Haley bumps her shoulder into Peyton's playfully. "What? We can't just stop by to see our dear friend."

Peyton smiles cheekily before dropping back into a frown. "No, not at all."

They all laugh and sit in peaceful silence for a while.

"How's the leg holding up?"

She pats the afore mentioned leg gently and shrugs, turning to answer Nathan's question. "Good, I guess. It's weird getting used to crutches, but it's fine."

"Good!" Haley perks up. "We need you back on your feet for cheerleading."

Sighing, Peyton slumps again. "Oh right… school. I'd forgotten we have to get back at some point."

From each side of her, her two friends lean in to wrap their arms around her.

"So how is he?"

It's the elephant in the room and she can't not ask about him. She cares too much.

Haley bites her lip and thinks back to the night of the funeral.

"Hey," Haley whispers to her best friend as she sits down next to him at the café.

Lucas barely acknowledges his sister-in-law and brother. The box full of each prediction the best friends had ever made sits in front of him, and he's in quiet contemplation for moments. And then he speaks, the words literally breaking Haley's heart. "Here, I'm taking my predictions back. They're not gonna come true now anyway. Not without Keith."

Nathan lays a comforting hand on Haley's back; he knows without looking, tears are welling in her eyes. "Lucas…" she starts.

"It was my fault anyways."

The other two occupants in the room are stunned at his admission. No wonder he's been escaping the presence of everyone lately. On top of the grief, he's living with the burden that this death was his fault. He's clearly wrong, but he believes it himself. And that's more than he needs.

"Do not say that!" Haley pleads with him.

Lucas shakes his head adamantly. "I shouldn't have gone back into that school."

"You're wrong!" Haley shouts "Luke, Keith would've gone back into that school if you were in there or not because that is who he was. This is not your fault."

This time it's Nathan who pipes up. "Hey, she's right Luke. You did what he did. You - you went back in there to save a life. Otherwise we might have been at Peyton's funeral."

Even the though of that caused bile to rise in the back of his throat. Had he not gone back in there - would he have been at Peyton's funeral? Would Keith have survived? Or would he have lost both of them?

"I couldn't save Keith," he murmurs. It's not him realizing the truth, it's him mourning the event.

"Neither could I," interjects Nathan.

Haley stands behind her best friend and hugs him from behind, resting her head on his shoulder. "He loved you a lot Luke. Just like we do."

The blonde girl pauses, mulling over her thoughts. She knows that Brooke has been there for her this year, and that her once-enemy has turned out to be an amazing friend. But she'd never quite been able to see her being the one for Lucas in the end. Haley reaches in and rifles through the many predictions until she finds the one she'd been searching for.

Taking a seat next to Lucas again, she flattens the edges in front of him, making sure he sees what's in front of him. He tries to look away, but Haley speaks loudly, assuredly. "Peyton Sawyer will become Peyton Scott."

Nathan's mouth drops open. His brother has loved that curly blonde longer than anyone could imagine.

"Lucas, if you'd not gone in there - you would never have the chance to make this come true. This is your second chance."

He reaches over for the piece of paper and stares nostalgically. Moments of Peyton race through his mind. He closes his eyes to remember each and every one before folding the paper up and putting it in his pocket.

The three sit in silence with no other words spoken.

"He's about as to be expected. He's blaming himself, Peyton."

Haley smacks him, causing him to balk at her. "What? It's the truth."

Peyton frowns. She'd wanted to hear he was dealing, that he was letting himself open up to others. Not regressing. "Oh God, why?"

She watches as Nathan and Haley glance at each other, making her sigh in frustration which ebbs into sadness. It hits her.

He ran back in to save her. That's why he feels guilty.

"Oh God," she breathes. "This is all my fault. He thinks that saving me killed Keith."

'No!" Nathan bellows. He shrinks back when he realizes how loud his voice came out. "No, Peyton. It's not your fault."

"Yeah," Haley soothes, "you didn't ask to be shot."

She stands up very slowly, reaching for her crutches. "Thanks for coming to check on me guys, but I think I need to be alone."

Just as she's about to walk in, she hears Haley call to her. "Peyton, don't let the darkness swallow you too."

All I ever really wanted was to
All I ever really wanted was to
All I ever really wanted was to

"Can't a girl get some peace and quiet?" Peyton jokes as Brooke flops down on the bed next to her.

"How's the leg?"

"It'll be okay. How's the boy?"

"He'll be okay," she answers. But she hasn't talked to him in days, and she can't be sure that it's the truth at this point.

Peyton enjoys the silence between them until she hears her best friend crying. "Brooke…"

"Peyton, I'm sorry."


"Because I shouldn't have left you there. I thought you were behind me -"

Peyton begins to protest, "Brooke,"

"No! I should've made sure," she insists.

For a few moments, Peyton isn't sure what to say. She's touched that Brooke cared so much, and has been so upset about this, but she knows there's something else lurking just beneath the surface. She's known Brooke Davis long enough to know that something else is eating away at her.

"Okay, you're my best friend," Peyton begins. "And, you wanna know what made me feel better when I was trapped in that library? It was knowing that Brooke's okay! You know, my best friend, she's safe!"

And then the other shoe drops.

"I love you for that, P. Sawyer. But there was something else that made you feel better in that library. My boyfriend. And I guess I can't hold it against him, can I? I mean, the boy I love protected the girl I love. And it's the girl he loves too."


"No, we both know it's true," she wails miserably.

Peyton wants to protest - she wants to yell at Brooke. Scream at her to stop being so selfish when something so much greater than either of them can fully grasp yet has occurred - is still occurring.

But yet again, she shields herself and Brooke from her true feelings. Getting into their sordid history is too tiresome, and making Brooke feel better is her main priority these days.

So, she jumps up on one foot and motions for Brooke to stand. "Come here."

As soon as the brunette is by her side, Peyton engulfs her with what she intends to be a comforting hug.

"Alright, I want you to listen to me. I care about Lucas. And I always will. But he is insanely in love with you. And you know what, so am I! You're my Brooke. I'm not gonna hurt you again."

Even as the words leave her mouth, a violent wave of nausea sweeps over her. Remembering her kiss with Lucas, she knows she's left out a lot. But she figures she took the safe route out with her explanation.

"You're something you know that? I'm the one that gets shot, and you're the one who needs consoling."

"I'm sorry," is Brooke's whispered apology.

Peyton shakes her head and just squeezes tighter. She's not sure what's going to happen or if what's happened is too much for any of them to ever be okay again.

But she knows she's got her best friend right now, and as they embrace, her thoughts never leave the blonde male who saved her life in the library that day.

Give me heart
Just give me hope
Give me love
Just give me warmth
Give me all I never knew
Give me something
To hold on to

Quiet sobs penetrate Lucas's house that night. It's no different from any other night recently, but this time each cry is like a single stab to his heart.

His mother hasn't said it, but she looks at him differently now. She probably blames him too, he thinks. And it's just as well - Keith loved his nephew with all his heart, and Lucas knew that. But he selfishly ran back into that school without thinking of his mother or his uncle or his girlfriend. His only thought… was of Peyton.

He knows it's wrong to avoid her because of what was his own fault, but his inner voice that had spoken out during his conversation with Peyton was only getting stronger.

Now his only worry is that if he doesn't squelch it soon… things will never be the same again. Not just for himself. But for everyone he loves.

Give me heart
Just give me hope
Give me love
Just give me warmth
Give me all I never knew
Give me something
To hold on to

I'm really nervous about this. Let me know what you think!