A/N: Heard these two words in a song (Unfold by Jason Mraz) and it sparked this story. Funny how inspiration finds you...
And yes, I realize that this basically rewrites the entire show, but it's all LP.
It's a nice summer day, and he's strolling through the park with his mom and his uncle, and when the two adults sit on the bench to talk, he gets bored quickly. He starts looking around and tuning out their voices, as kids are known to do, and he spots a little girl not too far from where he's sitting.
She's a blonde girl with a head of curls, spiraling out in every imaginable direction. She's skinny, even for a nine year old, and it doesn't look like she's with an adult.
His mother prods him, and tells him to go sit with that girl. Karen knows the Sawyer girl's father, and the situation he's in, and she thinks it might be nice if Lucas made friends with the pretty blonde.
He sits himself down next to her and says hi, and she looks up at him, but she doesn't smile like he was hoping she would.
He sifts some sand through his fingers like he always loved to do, and he looks around for any parent that might be with this girl, but he doesn't see anyone.
"Where's your mom?" he asks innocently. He looks over to see his own, sitting on the bench with his uncle, laughing at something or another.
When he looks back to the blonde girl, it's then that he notices that there's a little sadness in her eyes, and it makes him sad, too.
"I don't know," she replies honestly.
She knows he won't know what that means, but she doesn't care. She's busy pushing sand around, pretending she can count as high as she'd need to, to be able to count all the tiny grains.
She likes the sandbox, and she always has. It's like art to her, somehow. Her mom once told her that sand is the same as glass, and she thinks that might be the most beautiful mystery; how those tiny little pieces of dirt can turn into something so beautiful.
He's not sure why, but he reaches out and takes her hand, closing his little fingers around her little fingers. Haley does it to him sometimes when he gets sad, and it always makes him feel better, so he does it for this blonde haired girl; maybe it'll make her feel better, too.
She sends him a little smile, and then she looks down again, and he lets her hand go.
He's too old for sandboxes, and he doesn't know why his mom insisted that he sit there, but he's pretty sure, as he watches this girl trace pictures in the sand with her fingers, that he should thank his mom later.
"I'm Lucas," he says out of nowhere.
She looks up at him again, and for a quick moment, she looks annoyed that he interrupted her. She smiles a little bit again, not too big, but it still makes him smile, too.
She looks back at the sand and he doesn't know why she seems so sad, but he wants to talk to her more, and she's too quiet.
His mother calls him, and he says goodbye to the girl he was sitting with, and he looks down to see that what she was tracing in the sand is actually a name.
It's his name.
He's 13 when he really realizes just who Peyton Sawyer is.
She's sarcastic and popular, and she has a lot of friends, and one of those friends is his brother. He can tell she's closed off and guarded, and she doesn't really want anyone to know her.
She's also funny and beautiful and he thinks that just maybe she's not as much of a mystery to him as she is to everyone else.
The bell had rung minutes earlier, signaling the start of class, but someone bumped into her in the hallway, spilling soda on her top. He sees her down the hall, and he grabs a few paper towels from the boys' washroom before walking towards her, handing her the napkins as she mumbles a string of curse words that she's probably too young to really know.
"Thanks," she says tersely.
He begins picking her books up off the floor and wiping the sticky liquid off them, holding them for her until she cleans herself off.
"Great! Grape," she says angrily. "A big, purple splotch isn't exactly the best fashion statement, is it?"
He lets out a chuckle, and she glares at him, but he raises an eyebrow and cocks his head, and she smiles a bit. It is, after all, a little funny.
She realizes that he's still holding her books, and she takes them from him, offering another one of those little smiles as a thank you.
"I have a tee shirt if you want," he says with a shrug, trying to pretend that even talking to her isn't making his hands clam up.
"Why would you do that?" she asks, as though someone doing something nice for her is just the most absurd notion she's ever heard.
"The big, purple splotch doesn't go with your skirt," he says sarcastically, and she laughs.
She laughed. He made her laugh. He's not sure what's happening to his young heart, but it feels strange and wonderful, and he's pretty sure he doesn't want it to stop any time soon.
She sighs dramatically and he walks the several meters to his locker, with her trailing behind him. He takes out a simple white tee shirt, and she shoves her books back into his hands before taking the fabric from him.
She pulls the clean cotton of his tee shirt over her head, and he tries not to stare as she tugs her arms out of her own shirt's sleeves and pulls it off without baring an inch of skin. He doesn't know much about physics yet, but he's pretty sure that she just broke some of its laws with that maneuver. She ties his tee shirt at the side and rolls up the sleeves, and he doesn't know how she's taken the most simple article of clothing ever and made it look so good.
"Thanks, Lucas," she says sincerely, pulling her books back into her own arms.
He's just about to respond when she turns and bounds down the hallway towards whatever class it is that she's late for.
She knows his name.
It's some time in the middle of the night, and his 15-year-old self is unable to sleep. One of the benefits of having your own door in your bedroom is that it gives you an escape route, no questions asked. His mother used to insist that he tell her when he went out, but he's old enough now that she trusts him, and that's a great feeling. Still, part of him knows that if she was aware that he leaves the house in the middle of the night, she'd probably bolt that door shut pretty quickly.
But he can't sleep, and he hates tossing and turning, so he figures he'll go and try to either tire himself out, or at least figure out what's bothering him, in the one place that's always made sense to him.
The only thing casting any light on the court are the lights from across the river. He kind of likes the darkness. Something about just barely being able to see the hoop makes him think it'll actually help his game. The hoop doesn't move, and there are no variables other than himself. It's all up to him whether he makes the right angle for the shot.
He checks his watch and sees that he's been there an hour, and it's 2:00 am, and he's sweating, so he tugs off his sweater, taking his tee shirt with it in the process. He has no intention of leaving. He doesn't know where all this energy is coming from, but he's hit 34 shots in a row, and he doesn't want to stop there.
He doesn't know he's being watched until he hears the voice, and his heart races for reasons other than just because he's been playing so hard.
"Not bad," she says, stepping a little further onto the court just after he's sunk another basket.
She's in just a pair of black sweatpants and a blue long sleeved tee shirt, and her blonde curls are pulled up in a way he's never seen. She looks adorable in that 'just got out of bed' way, and he's lost for a moment, thinking about her in bed. Being a teenaged boy will do that to you.
"Shouldn't you be sleeping?" he manages after a moment, turning away from her to send up another shot. That's 36.
"Shouldn't you?" she retorts with a raised brow.
He can't really argue, and he mentally kicks himself for saying something so dumb.
"Couldn't sleep," she says with a shrug when she sees that he's not going to talk.
"Me neither," he admits. He shoots the ball again from where he stands, and he sees a shadow of a smile on her lips when it sinks through.
"Do you ever miss?" she asks teasingly. The boy who's been after her for a month prides himself on his basketball game, but this blonde boy makes it look effortless. How those two boys are so different, she doesn't really know. They shouldn't be, really.
"That's 37 in a row," he says proudly.
He's seen Nathan talking to her in the hallways, and he wonders if she knows about their situation. Most of the town knows, but thankfully, some of his classmates don't. The looks Nathan sends him, and the fact that they share the same last name probably tell people all they really need to know.
"That's pretty good," she says nonchalantly, and he wonders what it would take to make this girl really smile. "Aren't you cold or something?"
It's then that he realizes he's still not wearing a shirt, and he hopes that she can't see him blushing, though he's sure she can. He's skinny, but muscular enough for his age, but he doesn't tend to show himself off like the other boys do. He's watched some of the varsity players when they unceremoniously take over the River Court, and it seems those boys are more interested in impressing girls than they are in playing the game.
"Sorry," he says sheepishly, walking to the bleachers and grabbing his tee shirt. He slips it over his head as she looks down to the ground.
"So how come you aren't on the team?" she asks. "At school, I mean."
"I dunno." He shrugs his shoulders, but it does bother him that he's never really been given a chance to play, and he's pretty sure she'll be able to tell that he's lying. He knows why. She knows why. The whole town probably knows why.
"He's kind of an ass," she points out seriously.
"Who?" he asks with a laugh.
"Wouldn't know," he says, shrugging his shoulders again.
She senses that he really doesn't want to talk about it much, so she doesn't press the issue. She knows what people say about him behind his back, but she knows, from her few encounters with him, that he's a nice enough guy. She doesn't know why everyone gives him such a hard time.
She doesn't say anything more, so he shoots the ball again, just for something to do, and he hears her laugh when it goes in again.
"What?" he asks with a smirk.
"You just gonna play until you miss?" she inquires, taking a seat on top of the picnic table. "We could be here a while."
He realizes that she's not going anywhere, and his heart is racing again. He doesn't know why she'd want to stay there with him, why she'd want to watch him play against no one. He doesn't ask for fear that she'll realize she doesn't want to. He just smiles at her and shrugs his shoulders again in that way that she's already getting so used to seeing, and he sends up another shot.
He's at 43 when he sees her shiver. It's not exactly warm out, and he's not sure why she's not wearing a jacket, but he's kind of thankful that she isn't. He picks up his sweater and tosses it to her, and she thanks him and pulls it over her head. The sight of her in his clothes makes his mouth go dry. The grey cotton is way too big for her, and she's got her hands tucked into the pockets, and she just looks adorable, sitting there and watching him play.
It's another 15 minutes before he misses a shot, and it's totally not fair how it happens. He's hit 62 - a personal best, and he wonders if it's because he's got his own personal cheerleader. Well, she's not cheering, but he can pretend, at least a little bit. But then she lays back on the picnic table and stretches her arms over her head, and both his sweater and her tee shirt ride up, and he can see most of her stomach.
And he bricks it.
She notices that the sound of that shot was different from the others, and she sits up again and looks at him. It almost looks like sympathy, and she offers a lopsided smile, as if to say sorry.
But really? He wouldn't take that miss back. If making the shot meant that he hadn't seen that amount of bare skin, he wouldn't trade it.
"Come on," he says, picking up the ball and resting it against his hip. "I'll walk you home."
She doesn't say anything, just nods, and she wonders how he's so different from all the other boys.
They talk about Mr. Bell's english class, and the lame dance the following week that neither of them are going to. She tells him that her dad is away on a job, and she has the house to herself. He tells her he can pretty much get out of the house whenever he wants, and that the River Court is the only place he can go to clear his head. She says she understands that, and it makes him smile. She really isn't the girl that everyone else sees.
He walks her up the steps to her house, and she pulls her key out from under the mat, explaining that she didn't have pockets to carry her own.
"Thanks, Lucas," she says quietly, and he just smiles in response before she pushes the door open.
That's the second time she's stolen his shirt, and he kind of likes that she has a piece of him. Maybe that's why he didn't ask for it back. He's got five more sweaters just like that one, so he doesn't care if she keeps it.
He doesn't think he's ever seen her look sexier than she does when she turns her back to him to go inside.
She's wearing his last name on her back.
They're 16 when she finally kisses him for the first time.
It's late - or early, depending on how you look at it - and they're at the beach. They alternate between there and the River Court on those nights when they can't sleep. But really, even if he's asleep and she sends him a text message, he'll still get out of bed to be with her.
They've done this a couple nights a week for the past year. They talk about art and music and books, and the pressures that come with being a teenager, or a near orphan or the illegitimate son of the town's self-proclaimed most prominent businessman. They can talk about anything, and neither of them gets upset when opinions are given. He knows her and she knows that.
No one else really knows they do this, other than his mom and his best friend. Their friendship exists almost entirely outside of school hours and cliques, and they're both perfectly fine with that. He doesn't want to be part of her group, and she doesn't want to share him with her friends. It's maybe a little selfish, but she knows how the other girls would act around the cute new boy, and she doesn't want that.
He's the best secret she's ever kept, and she wants to keep him.
She's crying when he sits down next to her, and he doesn't know why. He knows her better than to ask, so he just pulls her into his side and lets her tears fall. She's wearing his sweater, like she often does, and she wipes her cheeks with the cuffs, leaving dark little spots that damn near break his heart.
"He's not coming home on Tuesday," she finally says after a half hour of silence. He knows what she's talking about without further explanation. "He promised he'd always be here for that day, and now he's not."
"I'm sorry," he says softly, running his hand up and down her arm as she leans against him.
"It's not your fault." She chuckles a little, and he knows she's just trying to joke to deflect the pain; she's notorious for it, and he does the same thing. They're quiet for a moment before her voice turns timid. "Who's gonna come to the cemetery with me?"
"Me," he offers simply. She feels him shrug his shoulder, and she pulls away from him to look at him questioningly.
"You don't have to."
"I know," he says. He smiles, and she does the same.
And maybe that's the moment he realizes that he loves her. He's always thought it, no more than in the last year. But with her sitting there, with his arm around her and the remnants of tears on her cheeks, he realizes that he'll do anything for this girl. Anything.
Love is the only way to explain that. It's the only way to explain the way he feels when she smiles at him in the hallway, or shakes a pom-pom jokingly in the parking lot as he sees her making her way to her car. His heart swells when he sees her laugh, and the sight of her legs makes him think things that he probably shouldn't think.
He loves that his old sweater that she 'stole' now smells like her, and that she'll sit at the River Court for hours and watch him. She leaves him notes in his locker that are funny and sarcastic and not at all like the ones he suspects the other girls write to boys, but they're so very her, and so very them, and he loves it. He loves her.
And he doesn't think she has any idea what she does to him.
He reaches out to dry her cheek with the pad of his thumb, and she swears she sees everything she needs reflecting back at her in those icy eyes of his. She's never denied that he's a good looking boy, and she hasn't dated anyone, really, since she 'met' Lucas and they started this friendship.
But he takes care of her in ways that she knows a 16-year-old boy probably has no business doing. She wonders, briefly, why he does it, before realizing that it doesn't really matter why. It only matters that he does.
His hand lingers on her cheek, and their eyes lock, and all she wants to do is kiss him.
So she does.
It's innocent enough. Just a gentle press of lip to lip. When they part after a few moments, she rests her forehead against his and keeps her eyes closed.
He doesn't know what that was for, but God, he wants to do it again.
So he does.
He leans forward and brushes his lips against hers, and she places her hand on his chest. He knows she'll feel the rapid beating of his heart, and really, he wants her to know the effect she has on him.
His hands tangle in her hair, and she clutches the fabric of his black sweater in her fist, and she's damn certain that this is the best kiss she's ever had. He's gentle but not too gentle, and his lips are soft, and he tastes like rain, and it's just perfect, perfect, perfect.
They part again, and it's beating hearts and conflicted eyes, and she's not sure what any of it means, but she weaves her fingers through his and leans against his shoulder again.
And maybe, she realizes, Lucas Scott is a lot more than just a boy she meets up with in the middle of the night.
They're at school the next day, and he's standing at his locker, arranging his books for his next classes. She's standing across the hall, and he's doing his best not to stare. But it's really, really hard not to stare.
"What's got you smiling?" Brooke asks her with a raised eyebrow.
He locks eyes with Peyton, waiting to hear her answer, and when she turns back to her best friend, she shrugs her shoulders and gives an honest answer.
She says his name.
They become inseparable. He joins the varsity team and she somehow convinces the boys she knows on the team to be nice to him. Well, he knows how she did it, and he's sure she just scared Nathan and his lackeys into leaving Lucas alone.
But truthfully, Nathan doesn't want to be a jerk, it just comes naturally. That quickly changes when Haley promises to tutor him and lays out a serious set of rules for him to follow.
Lucas and Haley seamlessly blend into the group of popular kids after a little time. The girls like Haley, and the guys respect Lucas, and Peyton is the linchpin that everyone turns to. She's Lucas' girlfriend and Brooke's best friend, and she and Haley bond over music and sarcasm and the blonde boy they both care about. They're all a little surprised when Haley and Nathan start to date, and even more surprised when Lucas is just fine with it.
They still get together in the middle of the night in neutral spaces. Now it's not just convenient, but it's so they can control themselves. Behind closed doors, things get heated and one of them always stops things. They aren't ready for that yet, and they're both scared, and neither cares if the other knows that. They don't have to hide things from each other, and even if they tried, it wouldn't work.
But then he tells her that he loves her.
They've been together close to six months, and he's known it all along, and it was all he could to do keep himself from saying it before then. She's laying on her stomach on her bed, in just a little pair of shorts and a tank top, and her hair is falling around her face. She's just doing homework and listening to music, but when he walks through the door and sees her, he knows he can't not tell her.
She doesn't even know he's there until he says those three words.
She turns her head to look at him, and she gives him what may just be the most perfect smile he's ever seen in his life. She gets up and stands in front of him, and grabs the front of his shirt like she always does, and right before she kisses him, she says she loves him, too.
She feels his heart beating as her hand rests against his chest, and she's looking into his eyes, and they both know this is a big moment. She wants to kiss him and he wants to kiss her, but they each see it in the others' eyes that they both want to do so much more than that.
He spends the night for the first time. It's perfect and it's beautiful, and they're each others' firsts, and she's pretty sure there'll never be anyone else. She certainly doesn't want there to be. She loves him more than she ever expected to, and she's perfectly OK with that. It doesn't scare her like maybe it should, because every time he wraps his fingers around hers, she's reminded that she only ever really feels safe when she's with him.
She wonders if maybe that's the most romantic notion of all.
The next morning, they wake up tangled in each other, and she stretches and he smiles, and they spend a few minutes kissing, and that quickly turns into more, but neither complains and neither stops it, and he's falling even harder than he knows he should. But he won't stop.
He's waiting for her to get dressed, and she's talking to him through the bathroom door, and he catches a glimpse of the notebook on her desk. They don't really have secrets, but this is something he's sure she doesn't want anyone else, maybe especially him, to see.
It's her first name before his last name.
They buy a little house. It's got three bedrooms, and a little yard, and it feels like them. They're 22, and they've been through so much, and they've both come into some money, and it's the best investment in every possible sense of the word. It's the start of a life for the two of them, and that's the best gift they can give each other.
She spends hours trying to decide between carmine red and falu red paint for the living room, and that doesn't really mean anything to Lucas, but it's important to her, so he'll listen to her go on and on about the benefits and pitfalls of each. He should have known that his artist girlfriend would be so particular.
He realizes, one day, that the little park that she probably doesn't even remember is only a few blocks away. He's never asked her about that day over 10 years ago, and he's sure that if he did, she'd look at him like he was crazy. She's always said she loves that he remembers all the little details about their relationship, but he isn't sure he wants to bring that one up.
But then, once their settled in their little home, and he's settled into his new coaching job, and she's got buyers lined up for her paintings, he buys a ring.
He talks to her father first, and Larry does his best not to tear up. He's always thought of Lucas like a son, and it didn't take long after seeing the smile that boy put on his little girl's face when they were 16, for him to realize that he'd be walking her down the aisle towards that Scott boy someday.
That day is coming soon, and so he shakes Lucas' hand and the two men hug, and he gives a barely serious warning about him not hurting his little girl. He knows by now that there's no way Lucas will do anything of the sort. Larry reaches for a box in a drawer, and he hands Lucas a thin platinum band, and Lucas looks at the man questioningly. It's Anna's wedding band, and he doesn't explain anything further. Lucas knows Peyton will wear that ring after they're married, and he wouldn't have it any other way.
So he buys an engagement ring. He doesn't tell Haley or Brooke, knowing they'd be girly and drive him crazy, and that neither has the ability to keep a secret, and he really wants it to be a surprise. It's perfect for her, and for them, and he knows she wouldn't want anything big or flashy. It's a simple platinum band with diamonds arranged like stars all the way around it. He knows it suits her, and he knows it'll match the wedding band he was given, and it's all just perfect.
All he needs is for her to say yes.
And he knows she'll say yes.
It's the middle of the day on a Saturday, and she's grumpy and frustrated because she couldn't get a brushstroke right on one of her paintings, and he's listening to her complain, and even that, he loves. She's passionate and full of fire and there's an energy about her that he's still sometimes in awe of.
She's wearing the paint splattered jeans that he loves, and a plain black tee shirt, and her hair is pulled up messily, and he just takes her hand in his and leads her to the front door, with her protesting the entire way. He stops once they're on the porch, and he tells her she needs to clear her head, and maybe a change is exactly what she needs.
Only he knows just how big a change he's talking about.
He's had the ring loose in his pocket, out of the box, for close to a week, waiting for the perfect moment.
He realizes now, that you make the perfect moment, you don't wait for it.
They walk hand in hand to the park, making idle chat or not saying anything at all, and when he spots Nathan and Haley with Jamie about 50 feet away, he nods, but doesn't walk over to them.
Instead, he walks to that old sandbox, and he turns to Peyton, and she looks at him questioningly.
"What's this?" she asks, but the smile on her face lets him know that she remembers, too.
"Where we met," he answers simply. "You remember?"
She nods her head, and her heart flutters a little bit, because he's so damn romantic, even with the little things. She should have known he'd take her there someday and reminisce about that day so many years ago.
There are a few toddlers with buckets and shovels at their feet, and onlookers are watching in confusion, wondering what those two adults are doing there. Nathan and Haley watch, too, neither of them aware of what's really going on.
"I wrote your name in the sand," she says softly.
"You did," he says with a smile, nodding his head. He loves her for remembering that.
He reaches into his pocket, and he gets down on one knee, and she gasps as her hand flies to her mouth. He sees Haley, out of the corner of his eye, throwing her arms around Nathan.
He had a speech prepared. A retelling of the best parts of their history and the best parts of her, and how she brings out the best parts of him. But it's not necessary, and on some level, he feels like it wouldn't be right.
So when he looks up at her again, and she's nibbling her bottom lip like she's always done when she's nervous, he just asks the simple question that they both already know the answer to.
"Peyton, will you marry me?"
"Yes," she whispers tearfully.
She drops to her knees, too, and she throws her arms around him, and he laughs, because this moment is just so Peyton.
He doesn't make fun of her for nearly knocking the wind out of him, or for not caring about the ring. He loves that about her. She kisses him softly, remembering that they're around children, and he places his right hand over her left one as it rests on his cheek. He brings it down so it's between them, and he slips the ring onto her finger, and he places a kiss on the band like a promise.
She glances at the ring as it sparkles in the sunlight, and she wonders how he could have found the most perfect ring in the world. It reminds her, somehow, of those nights they used to spend on the beach or at the River Court, just the two of them beneath the stars, growing up and growing into a relationship that was somehow so much bigger than the both of them.
"I always wanted to be Peyton Scott," she says softly as he wipes her tears.
He can only close his eyes, because that's all he's ever wanted, too.
She's taking his name.