A/N: Am I starting another story when I have two on the go already? Yes. Am I crazy? Probably. But I have about 15 chapters of this written. This idea has probably been done before, but hopefully I can bring a little something different.

Totally AU. Lucas/Nathan/Haley's stories are all the same. Peyton grew up with Brooke and Jake in a different town. I don't think there's anything else that needs to be explained. Back stories will be told within the first few chapters. Any questions, just ask.

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From the first day they met, they knew they'd get along wonderfully. Standing in front of the bulletin board on the courtyard at UNC, she was laughing a spirited laugh at a hand written apartment posting, and he was groaning at yet another fraternity flyer.

He didn't really take any time to look at her, since he was in a horrible mood, and she seemed a little crazy, the way she was laughing loudly to herself.

"You'd think in a college town, you'd be able to find a decent place to live," she said suddenly, turning to him.

"You'd think," he said simply, running a hand through his short hair.

"I lived with my best friend for my first three years, but she just moved to New York," she explained. "Unfortunately, our apartment was paid for almost entirely by her parents."

"I lived with my brother, and sister-in-law and their son, but my brother skipped his last year, so I'm pretty much homeless in about a week," he explained.

"Awesome," she muttered sarcastically. "I'm Peyton."

"Lucas," he said, offering her hand out for her to shake. "What are you studying?"

"Art and art history," she said, holding up one of her textbooks on European portraiture. "You?"

"Literature and creative writing," he said. "We're both double majors."

"I just love art," she said, waving off his attempt to make it sound more impressive than it was.

"I just love books," he said with a smile.

He kind of regretted thinking she was insane for laughing. She actually seemed like just a funny girl. A genuinely funny girl. And what he'd learned in the time since his last serious relationship, was that genuinely funny girls were hard to come by.

"You wanna...I mean, if you have time, we could split on a newspaper and grab a coffee. Check apartment listings not posted by vain, boy-crazy shopaholics with daddy's credit card and mommy's vapid personality?"

He just chuckled at the picture she'd painted. She certainly had a way with words. He could tell she was an artist.

"Or beer-swilling, fledgling loser students in their sixth year of a four year program?" he added, making her laugh. "Lead the way."

She walked a pace ahead of him for a bit, and he took a moment to observe her clothing. It was casual, but not too casual. Dark jeans and black boots, and a simple grey tank top. She had a laptop bag slung over her shoulder, and she was clutching a portfolio. He found himself wondering what her art looked like.

"So Lucas, tell me something about yourself," she insisted as he caught up with her and walked beside her.

"What do you want to know?" he asked, shrugging his shoulders.

The truth was, his story was long and unbelievable to most. The few people he'd told didn't believe him, and so he'd eventually stopped telling people. It was alright with him, he decided. The people who needed to know, knew. He tended to be a little closed off, and though he'd promised his best friend that he'd be more open. Whoever this Peyton girl was, she was the first person he was opening up to. Haley would be proud, though he was sure she meant that he should join a writer's group or a rec basketball team. Instead, he was talking to a stranger who he was finding more and more interesting by the second.

"I dunno," she said with a shrug of her shoulders. "Anything."

"Um...I grew up in a little town called Tree Hill, on the coast," he explained.

"Tree Hill? No way!" she cried. "Like the U2 song!"

"Sort of," he laughed. "You a U2 fan?"

"God no," she said with a grimace. "Not at all. Can't stand them."

"Me neither," he said, laughing at how forward and honest she was being. "What about you? Where are you from?"

"Wilmington," she said simply. "Born and raised."

She turned to look at him, and noticed the crooked smile on his lips. She'd promised Brooke she'd meet more boys, even though she already knew plenty, and she didn't want to let her friend down. She hadn't really looked at Lucas. She'd only noticed that he had blonde hair, just a little bit lighter than her own, and a healthy stubble on his jaw line. He was wearing a plaid button down and jeans, with a messenger bag over his shoulder that she assumed housed a computer, given his field of study.

"Tree Hill's only about a half hour from there," he said with a smile, almost amazed that they'd grown up so close together.

"I've never heard of it," she admitted.

"Most people haven't," he informed her, pulling open the door to the coffee shop they'd both somehow known they were heading for. There were a few on campus, but this one was his favourite. "What's your poison?"

"Vanilla latté, no foam," she said, dropping her bag at a vacant table and reaching for a newspaper from the rack. "Thanks."

Lucas was kind, she decided. Kind in a quiet, almost shy kind of way. It was almost as though he didn't want to tell her anything, and she completely understood that. She was careful with the information she let people in on, too. Hometown and her dislike of U2, she could handle divulging.

Her phone rang in her bag, and she reached for it just as Lucas returned with their drinks. She saw the name on the screen, and decided to ignore the call.

"So have you been looking for a place for long?" he asked, watching as she took a sip of her latté and closed her eyes, savouring the taste.

"Since the beginning of August," she explained. "I went home for the summer, but Brooke's place is paid for until October. I just kind of thought I should get out of there before her parents realize I'm still loafing."

"I thought you said she's your best friend," he said with a furrowed brow, unsure of why the other girl's parents would have a problem with her staying there.

"She is, but her parents hate me," she said, almost sadly. "Her mom's a bit...a bit of a vain, vapid shopaholic."

He could only laugh, because he could see, even more, why she didn't want to live with someone like that.

"I was home for the summer, too. My lease is up on the 15th, and I don't need a three bedroom house all to myself," he said. "Nathan and Haley were home for the summer, but they just moved to Atlanta."

"What's in Atlanta?" she asked with interest.

"That Atlanta Hawks," he said proudly, locking eyes with hers to gauge her reaction. He was met with confusion. "My brother is Nathan Scott."

"What!?" She was wearing a huge smile and her green eyes went wide. "That's amazing!"

"It's...something," he laughed.

Nathan and Haley had gone to Duke together, where Nathan played three amazing years of college ball, leading his team to two championships. When the opportunity to enter the draft came up, his decision to leave Duke sent shock waves through the school, though everyone understood his desire to play pro a year early if he could. Haley transfered to a university in Atlanta to finish her degree, and she'd be going to school while he was playing his rookie season.

"Well, my best friend is Brooke Davis," she said smugly.

"Who?" he asked cluelessly.

Right. He was a boy. Boys don't know or care about fashion designers and successful clothing lines.

"Brooke Davis. Clothes Over Bros? Moderately priced, stylish clothing for the masses?" she offered, kinking her brow as she waited for something to click with him.

"Oh yeah, I think Haley's into that stuff," he said absently. He was sure this Brooke girl was impressive, but he couldn't say that fashion was an area of interest.

Her phone rang again, and Peyton checked the caller ID, once again hitting the ignore button.

"Seems like someone's trying to get ahold of you," he pointed out as he opened the paper.

"Not as important as trying to find a place to live," she said, trying to brush off his comment.

Truthfully, she knew that if she had answered her phone, she would have had to leave, and she was kind of liking getting to know this guy. He was interesting, in an unassuming way. She got the impression that there was a lot more going on in his head than he was letting on, and she found that completely intriguing.

They sat in relative quiet as they read through the pages of apartment listings. Anything in her price range was in a poor neighbourhood or a building she knew she hated. She didn't want a roommate that she didn't know or trust, and she was getting frustrated at not being able to find anything. She didn't know that Lucas was feeling the exact same way.

"Nothing!" he said in irritation as he closed the paper and dropped it on the table.

They'd finished their drinks and were just sitting together, and though he'd known her for less than an hour, it felt fairly comfortable for him. Maybe it was because he didn't feel like she was trying too hard. She wasn't giggling or flipping her hair like a lot of the other girls did. She was just...honest.

"I know," she sighed, shaking her head. Her phone rang for the third time, and she watched as Lucas raised an eyebrow. "Sorry. I should probably answer this time."

"No problem," he said casually.

She got up and walked to an empty space near the wall about 10 feet away. He picked up the paper again to keep himself occupied, but he couldn't help overhearing her.

"Hey...No, I was just busy, that's all...Yeah, we're still on for tonight...No, I'll meet you there...I'll just meet you there!...I can drive...No, I'm not drinking...Because if it's lame, I'm leaving...OK, I'll see you later."

He was running a hand tiredly over his face when she sat down again, smiling weakly when she dropped her phone onto the table, a little too harshly.

"Sorry about that," she mumbled.

"Boyfriend?" he asked nonchalantly. He wasn't jealous, he just wanted to know more about her, and it seemed like a decent place to start.

"Something like that," she said vaguely, making him narrow his eyes and tilt his head. "There's this party tonight at his friend's place."

"And you don't want to go? The first big party of the year, I bet," he pointed out, leaning back in his chair and clasping his hands behind his head.

"I kind of hate parties," she said, almost groaning at even the thought of going. "I'm so over that whole scene, you know? I wouldn't even go, but..."

"The boyfriend? Or something like that," he said, winking at her as she rolled her eyes.

"Why don't you come?" she offered politely. "I'm sure it'll be awful."

"Tempting offer," he laughed.

"Come on," she pleaded. "I won't know anyone if you don't come. Mike's an engineering major."

"Ugh," Lucas groaned, "those are the worst."

"Thanks for doubting my taste!" she cried with a laugh.

"No, I didn't mean it like that," he amended. "I just mean that a whole party of them sounds like pretty much the last thing I'd want to do with my Friday night."

"Me too," she said, leaning forward. "Which is why I need you there to entertain me, so I don't lose brain cells as they try to build bridges to scale out of beer cans."

"Did that actually...?"

"Last weekend," she said seriously. "The Brooklyn Bridge made out of Bud cans isn't quite as pretty."

He laughed, and then sighed, and then looked at her once more. She was biting her bottom lip in anticipation of his response and looking at him hopefully.

So maybe one party wouldn't be that bad. And he liked this girl. The longer he sat with her, the more he was starting to really believe that they could be friends. And he certainly couldn't let her suffer through this evening alone. He wasn't sure why that was. But he was young, and going to parties on Friday nights was what he was supposed to be doing.

"Alright," he said after a moment. "I'll come."

"Really?" she asked excitedly.

"As long as that won't cause any problems with your something-like-that boyfriend," he teased.

"No," she laughed, then held out her hand, palm up. "Give me your phone."

"Give me yours," he said, pulling his from his pocket and placing it in her hand. He reached for hers across the table and began keying in his number. "What's your last name?"

"Sawyer," she said absently as she saved her number in his phone. "Where do you live? I'll pick you up."

"You don't have to do that," he insisted.

"It's fine," she said with a shrug of her shoulders. "If I drive, you can fake sick or something and we can leave if this thing is totally lame."

"Oh, I see. So I'm your excuse," he pointed out as he squinted.

"If I need you to be," she said seriously. "Then yes." He flashed her a grin that she was sure made a lot of girls swoon, and she checked the time. "OK, I should go. I have some reading to do before this thing. Just um...text me your address and I'll pick you up at like, 9:30."

"Sure," he said with a nod, watching as she gathered her things. "Sounds good."

"See you later, Luke," she said sweetly.

He offered a wave and a smile, and wondered how she'd gone from being a perfect stranger, to using the shortened form of his name in just over an hour.

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A/N: Let me know what you think of the first chapter. It was kind of a prologue. I promise things will get more interesting.