A/N: Hi everyone! This is my first fanfic ever posted, though it's not the first I've written. If you like this one I have another one. I just started watching last year, and I'm finally all caught up on the back episodes and my creative muse is going haywire. Please feel free to review- questions, concerns, comments are welcomed. If this inspires anyone, please feel free to borrow my ideas. Your writing means more reading for me, and I am a reader first, so have at it!
Before it begins, I just want to say thank you to all the OTH fanfic writers out there. You've done such a great job with your stories, you inspired me to try some of my own. I've had such fun reading your stories, I just hope I can return the favor. Enjoy!
This is an alternate ending to 5.18. Everything happens up until Lucas and Haley talk by the Rivercourt looking at Peyton's drawings. Instead of confronting Peyton, Lucas follows through on his original plan to "take off for a while" and leaves, so the scene in her office never happens.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything, not the characters, not OTH. And I got nothing from writing this fanfic but the pleasure of having the story in my head finally on paper. Places and events in this story are completely made up, except Charlotte, NC does really exist.
Chapter 1: The Call That Started it All
"Hi this is Patricia, calling from the adoption agency…." The message was interrupted as Brooke stumbled to the phone. Her exhaustion quickly evaporated as she listened to Patricia praise her care of Angie, and her face lit up as Patricia continued, offering her a unique opportunity. She hung up the phone, thanking Patricia profusely, then, squealing and wiggling in excitement, ran to Peyton's room and jumped on the lump that lay huddled under the covers.
"P. Sawyer, get your bony ass out of bed and get dressed! We're going to Charlotte for the weekend!" Brooke said excitedly, lying full out on what she thought was Peyton and trying to hug the general vicinity of her torso.
"Ughhh, God, its too early for Tigger Brooke." Peyton groaned as she rolled over, knocking Brooke to the bed beside her in the process. "Cant you tell me about our plans for the weekend in like," checking the clock that read 8am, "2 hours?"
"No, P. Sawyer, because you have to get up, and fix that 'I've been crying over Lucas because he left town without saying goodbye after I wrote a love letter for the whole world to see' face so we can go to Charlotte!" Brooke squealed, clapping her hands in excitement.
"Don't remind me." Peyton sat up and ran a hand over her face, to clear the cobwebs from her brain and to erase the sadness from her eyes. It had been one week, 5 days, 14 hours, and 8 minutes since Lucas left town, a direct rejection of Peyton's outpouring of emotion, a love letter to him left on the Rivercourt concrete. She said she'd let him go before and she meant it at the time, but his failed wedding and Haley's belief that Lucas still loved her, evident by the words in his book and in his high school predictions had given her hope again, hope that was finally dashed to pieces by Lucas' response to her confession of love.
She had nothing left to hold on to, nothing left to give. No matter that Haley's conviction as his best friend spoke of yearning and longing, Lucas himself had proven to her over and over that there was no love left in his heart for her. "I do" to another woman, "I hate you" to her. His words and his actions said what he felt today, louder than any high school writings could. Hell, the whole world knew Lucas Scott loved Peyton Sawyer in high school. But high school was 4 years ago, and "I hate you" was last week.
She cleared her mind of the musings and focused on the conversation at hand. "Ok, mistress of no information, I'll bite. Why are we going to Charlotte at 8 o'clock in the morning?"
"Because, I'm getting a baby!"
"Really?" Now Peyton was as wide awake as Brooke, who was currently jumping on the bed. "That's great, Brooke! How old is she? Or he? What's her name? Or his?" Peyton swiped at Brooke's legs to get her attention when she didn't answer. "BROOKE! Stop jumping and give me DETAILS!"
"Huh? oh!" Brooke said, as Peyton's attack on her legs caused her to trip, landing on the bed with a bounce. She sat up and faced Peyton. "Ok, so technically, I don't have a baby yet. And it might not be a baby."
At Peyton's look of confusion, Brooke continued to explain what Patricia had told her on the phone. "They did appreciate my work with Angie, which was so a test, but I passed it, so whatever." Brooke began. "Anyway, they don't have a newborn available right now, and the waiting list for babies is like, 3 years long, so she suggested I might have better luck with this opportunity at the Loving Care Children's Center in Charlotte!"
Brooke took a deep breath, having said the last bit in one long sentence. "They are having this open house, where eligible parents come and pick out a kid that's in need of adoption. It's a foster to adopt program, so once you pick the child you're interested in you foster them for 6 months and then, if everything goes well, you can adopt them! They have some infants there, but not a lot, so you have to get there early before they run out."
"You make it sound like a sale at Macy's." Peyton said, laughing.
"Not really! Well, yeah, kind of," Brooke admitted, thinking about it. You do get to pick, but you have to stay all weekend- today, Saturday Sunday, and you spend everyday there, getting to know the kids. At the end of each day, you let them know which ones you are interested in and they try to set up activities for you to do with them the next day so you can bond, or 'grow your connection,' or something like that. Then, at the end of the weekend, they interview you and they do some kind of match thingee where they match a kid to a parent for adoption!"
Peyton frowned. "That doesn't sound very cool for the kids. What happens if a kid's not picked after hanging out with these 'potential parents?"
"I asked the same thing," Brooke said, "and apparently, the Center has different adult volunteers that come and play with the kids all the time, so the kids will just think it's a normal day. Matter of fact, if you tell a kid that you're interested in adopting them, you are asked to leave. I guess they don't want the kids to get their hopes up, just in case things don't work out."
"Sounds like this could be a good opportunity Brooke! Designer, pick out your own baby, one stop shopping. I like it." Peyton yawned, and with the excitement over, pulled the covers up over her head with every intention of going back to sleep.
"P. SAWYER!" Brooke yanked the covers off of Peyton, ignoring her protests. "WHAT do you think you're doing?"
"Going back to sleep?" Peyton asked, shrugging her shoulders.
"Noooooo," Brooke said slowly, as if she were talking to a small child. "You are getting out of bed and packing your things and getting in the car. I'm pulling the road trip friend card!" Brooke said, hand on her hips.
"Fine, but what am I supposed to do while you are off choosing your North Carolina orphan Annie, or Andrew, or whatever?" Peyton grumbled, swinging her legs over the side of the bed.
"Well, you are kind of on the guest list too! Since you were living here, you had to pass the foster care test too. I had to make you a co-parent figure person and do all that stuff I did when Angie was here so she could come, like the background checks, home study, personality profile, why you want to be a parent, etc." Brooke said, ticking off on her fingers the list of things she had to do.
"Wait, wouldn't I have had to sign something, or fill out some forms?" Peyton asked, suspicious.
"Oh, you did!" Brooke sang as she waltzed out of the door.
"Brooke Davis!" Peyton yelled in exasperation.
"Chop, chop! I want a baby, so we have to get there before they're all gone!" Brooke responded. "Yell at me in the car if you want, but for right now, get dressed!"
Peyton shook her head as she made her way to her closet, pulling out her duffel bag.
"And don't pack! I'm going to pick out your clothes. You need to look your best so I get my first choice!"
"Why can't I pick my own clothes?" Peyton said, raising her hands in frustration.
"Because," Brooke said, poking her head inside the door. "I don't think your 'high school rocker chick, trendy, but unemployed' look will win them over to my side."
"Hey, I'm employed!" Peyton huffed. "And successful! Red bedroom records is doing well, thank you very much!"
"Yes, you are" Brooke soothed, coming into the room and patting Peyton on the back. "I'm just going to make sure you look like it."
They arrived in Charlotte at one and checked into the nearest hotel to the Center. The official program and activities didn't start until 6, but Brooke had googled the Center and fund an after school play program, where volunteers helped the kids with their homework and played, or changed diapers and fed the younger children, or just lent a hand in any way that was needed. She decided to take advantage of the unsponsered time, 'to scope out the new spokesmodel for Baby Brooke.'"
Peyton had to chuckle at Brooke's skills of persuasion, as she convinced the program director that they had come early accidentally, and thought they could 'help out' while they were waiting for the official program to start. If Peyton didn't know Brooke so well, she would have been worried about her steamroller tactics.
She knew that for Brooke this was not about picking out the cutest baby, or the youngest baby, or any other superficial characteristic, though she was looking for an infant. Rather it was about the feeling- when she looked in the baby's eyes, when she held them, did she feel a connection? Would she recognize that special something in that baby that would let her know that this was the child that was meant for her to nurture and to love? Brooke's mechanisms and stratagems came from a heart of gold and the mind of a CEO, a combination that was getting results.
The Center was set up by age group. The infants and toddlers were on the second floor, presumably where the nursery and the bedrooms were located. The older, school aged children roamed the halls of the first floor in various stages of activity- some were taking off their coats, others were doing homework at the tables, still others were running to the kitchen and coming out with cookies in their hands. Brooke immediately made her way to the second floor, while Peyton lingered on the first floor. She figured she would stay with the older children so it wouldn't seem so obvious that they were only here for the infants, and not to truly help out.
She propped herself on the wall to observe, taking in the organized chaos until she found a place where she could be helpful. The place really was set up well, from the toddler tables where the 3 and 4 year olds were busy coloring, or 'doing their homework,' if you asked them. The 5-9 year olds were busy at folding tables, with volunteers answering questions or just sitting next to the kids, encouraging them with their work.
As she looked around, Peyton noticed something off in the room. Something out of place had caught her eye. In the far corner of the room, underneath a small table wedged in a corner with a couch flanking either side, a small child sat huddled, with one arm around his bent knees, and the other propped on his knees to better allow his thumb to rest in his mouth. The table was so low that Peyton wouldn't have been able to see the boy if she hadn't been across the room from him. Concerned, since he was the only child not engaged in any activity, and a little worried that something might have happened since he was cowering underneath the furniture, Peyton approached the room mother quickly.
"Excuse me," Peyton said, interrupting the room mother as she finished instructing a volunteer in a task. "I just wanted you to know that there's a little boy hiding under that small table in the corner. I think something might be wrong with him."
The room mother, whose name tag read Mrs. Warner, looked in the direction Peyton was pointing, frantic, then calmed when she recognized who it was. "Oh," she said, relaxing. "That's William." And upon making that announcement, began to walk in the opposite direction of the child in question.
"Wait!" Peyton said, trailing after her. "Aren't you just a little concerned that he's hiding like that? He may be hurt, or scared. Something may have happened to him!"
Mrs. Warner turned to Peyton, exasperated, only softening when she saw the look of genuine concern on Peyton's face. She gestured to Peyton to follow her, leading her out of the room to the hallway, which was quieter.
"I appreciate your concern," she began gently. "It's always good to have volunteers that care about the children." She shrugged her shoulders. "But William is a special case."
At Peyton's perplexed look, she continued. "William's mother died from cancer when he was 2 years old. He came here first for a while, but then we placed him with a family that wanted to adopt him. He was back here within a month. Since then, we have not been able to find a family that is willing to keep him."
"Why?" Peyton asked, curious.
"He's so quiet, like a little mouse. He is constantly humming, he sucks his thumb, and he doesn't speak, only gestures." At Peyton's look of sympathy, the Mrs. Warner quickly clarified. "Oh, he can speak, and he has, he just more than likely won't. What he does do is find the smallest, darkest corner, and hide out there until you force him to come out. It's sad really," Mrs. Warner said, shaking her head. "Parents want a child that will interact with them, in some way, but William is beyond shy. Its like he's in a world of his own." She sighed heavily, then continued. "It's only gotten worse since he came from the last home. The parents, in their attempts to make him interact, would beat him when he didn't. And so now he's back with us, more withdrawn then ever."
Mrs. Warner glanced over to where William sat huddled. "Poor little thing, he's been through so much in his 4 years. Since he came back from his last placement, we just leave him be and don't push him. If huddling in corners makes him feel better, who are we to take that away from him?" Mrs. Warner said simply. At that moment, her name was called, so she patted Peyton's shoulder and walked away.
Peyton saddened at the thought of all that little boy had been through in his short life. Just like her, he had lost his mother too soon, and to cancer no less. But at least she had her dad and Brooke when Anna died, and Brooke and Lucas when Ellie died. This little boy had no one to pull him out of darkness, and it seemed like the world was content to leave him there.
Peyton squared her shoulders, determined to also square her karma. Just like someone reached out a hand to help her into the light- well, yank her out, kicking and screaming- this weekend she would do the same for William, and maybe a step into the light would bring him closer to the family he needed.
Reviews are appreciated.