A/N: OK, considering I have three stories on the go, I probably have no business writing anything other than those. However, I was watching season 1&2 yesterday (lazy OTH marathon day!), and watching 1x20 (Haley's party, the Nikki/Peyton fight), I was totally annoyed that Lucas didn't go after Peyton. I mean, I get that he wanted to help Nathan, but still...So, this is kind of a drabble alternate ending that I couldn't not write.
After the evening he's had, he shouldn't be here. He broke up a fight, was outed in front of everyone for sleeping with a perfect stranger. He was almost arrested, and stood up for his...brother...when he was arrested. He had a confrontation with his 'father', and didn't back down.
And he managed to lose the one girl he never wanted to lose.
For what feels like the infinite time since they even started talking.
But he's here. He's walking up the stairs towards her bedroom. He was actually surprised to find the front door unlocked. He thought for sure she'd lock herself in her house and avoid him altogether. He wonders, for a moment, if maybe she wanted him to come. Maybe she left the door unlocked because she knew he'd show up.
But then he's standing in her doorway, and she's tucked into her bed, looking beautiful even in her misery.
She looks up from him and he smiles a broke smile, and she really wishes that didn't bother her. He shouldn't be hurting. She is.
"How's Nathan?" she asks coldly, not moving from her place. When she called Haley to apologize, she was filled in on what happened after she left. That did nothing to keep her from feeling terrible.
"Fine. How are you?" he inquires.
He wants to sit down on her bed to be closer to her, but she's angry, and he can tell, and he doesn't want to push his luck. The fact that she's not screaming at him is just one small victory, and he can't expect anything more than that.
"I have a split lip and a..." Her voice trails, but she's glad she caught herself.
But she can't let him know that she has a broken heart. He doesn't deserve to know.
But he came to see her, to check on her, and probably to apologize, and she hates that she loves that. She should be able to tell him to leave, but a part of her - a big part - doesn't want him to. She wants him to stand there with that apologetic and ashamed look on his face, and ask her how she is, and smirk at her when she mumbles something sarcastic.
"I'm fine," she amends.
He knows she's lying. He's always been able to tell, to see past all the defensive words she spits out. He can always see the hurt in her eyes, and he hates - absolutely hates - that he's the one who's put it there this time.
"Peyton, look, I didn't know about Nikki and Jake until I met her."
He speaks quickly, just because he needs to get the words out before she can interrupt him and tell him she doesn't want to hear it.
She lets out a bitter laugh, and sits up in her bed, and he prepares himself for what she's going to say next, knowing that it's not going to be good.
"So she was just some stranger in a bar you slept with?" she asks angrily. "Lucas, you don't need to apologize. OK? It's just that...after all the stuff that you and I had been through, where my head and my heart were at, I couldn't have gone and just slept with some stranger."
God, he's an idiot. He had her heart, which was what he'd wanted all along, since that first night they kissed and he'd placed his palm over it. Probably even before then.
Definitely even before then.
"Peyton, I was..." he starts before sitting on the bed next to her. He doesn't know what to say, though, because honesty is a terrifying thing, and it hasn't worked in his favour with her in the past.
"What?" she asks. "You were what?"
"Hurt!" he cries, looking at her pointedly. "You had literally just walked away from us. From this."
He takes her hand in his, and he knows she still feels the same feeling when their hands touch. It's like a chill, but warmer, somehow. Better and more intense and just...everything.
"And for what?" he asks quietly, averting her gaze. He's looking at their hands, wondering both how they look so good together, and why she hasn't tugged hers away yet.
She just can't.
"You know the answer to that," she says calmly. She'd wanted to save her friendship with Brooke. It all backfired, but her intentions were pure.
"Yeah, I do."
He moves his hand, then, and rubs the back of his neck in that way that is so sexy that she finds herself taking a deep breath.
Hating him would be a lot easier if she wasn't so in love with him.
"But look where that got you," he mumbles.
And hating him just got a little easier.
"Yup," she seethes. "No best friend, and a guy who hooks up with random girls instead of telling me how he really feels."
He groans and rolls his eyes, though he knows that'll only serve to make her even angrier. He just couldn't stifle it.
"Peyton, I told you how I felt. I told you over and over again," he reminds her. "And you walked away. Every time."
"And you never came after me!"
He sees her chin quiver, and he knows that if she starts to cry, he'll lose his mind. He doesn't want to be the one to make her cry, though he knows he's done it before.
He'd love to argue with her statement, and he could, but he won't. He won't tell her how to feel. She's obviously hurting, and it's all his fault, and he'll do anything to heal her. But he needs to point out one little detail.
"What am I doing right now?" he asks gently.
He's right and she knows that. After everything that happened that day, he could have gone straight home. But he came to see her. It's late, and she knows it's past his curfew, but he's there, and he's already making her feel better. She kind of hates him for that, too. He shouldn't be able to change her mood so easily.
"I don't know what to do," she admits after a moment. She looks down at her hands instead of at him, because she's afraid of whatever look might be on his face.
Her friendship with Brooke might already be beyond repair, but she knows that if she and Lucas...become she and Lucas, there will be no hope for her and Brooke at all.
Part of her is telling her that he just might be worth it.
And maybe that's what scares her most of all. What she feels for him is huge, and she doesn't want to put herself out there and have it all come tumbling down. Because if it does, she doesn't know what she'll have left.
"What do you want, Peyton?" he asks gently, making her eyes meet his again.
"I want to kick Nikki's ass," she says, only half-jokingly. Maybe she's not joking at all.
"Again?" he says with a smile, making her laugh.
She raises her right hand to touch the cut on her lip that hurts a hell of a lot more than she's letting on, and his face turns concerned again.
"It's fine," she insists softly before he can ask.
"You should ice it," he says seriously, rolling his eyes when she shakes her head. She has to be the most stubborn girl in the world.
"I'll be alright."
"Look, I know a thing or two about taking punches, OK? Let me get you some ice," he says, standing from the bed.
He's out the door and walking down the stairs before she can say anything else, and while he didn't want to walk out on the very serious conversation they were having, he knows his leaving will give her time to come up with an answer to his simple question.
She knows what she wants, and she's intensely aware of it as soon as he leaves.
All she wants is him.
She wants to take back past mistakes. She wants to turn back the clock to the beginning of the year when things were somehow easier. Lucas and Brooke never would have dated, and Peyton would have had him.
Something in the back of her head is telling her that, on some level, she always did have him.
But they've hurt each other so much in the few short months that they've known each other, and she doesn't know if she can handle any more of that. Her heart is fragile at best, and she doesn't want it to break. Again. Or more. Or whatever would happen to it if she took the chance and it didn't work out.
Part of her knows that he'll do everything he can not to hurt her again, but it's just a little hard to believe, after all they've been through already.
All he can think, as he steps into her kitchen, is that she hopes she'll tell him that she wants him. She wants them. That's all he's wanted for so long, and maybe he's strayed from that, but he's promised himself that if he ever has her again, he'll never let her go.
He laughs when he opens the freezer and sees a couple frozen pizzas stacked with the other groceries, remembering that night not so long ago, when she was telling him secrets and he was listening intently to every word.
He wants to hear everything she has to say.
He wraps some ice in a towel and grabs a glass of water for her, and then he heads up the stairs again. He has to remind himself to breathe; to stop holding his breath, waiting for what she might say.
"Here," he offers, handing her the ice. She smiles at him a little bit, and winces when the cold hits her lip. "Hurt?"
"So bad," she finally admits.
And once again, she's admitting things to him first. She wonders if maybe that's just the way it's supposed to be.
"I know," he says with a laugh. "It's a good thing Nathan and I don't hate each other any more."
"Yeah, he tuned you pretty good a couple times," she says, smirking because she just knows he'll hate that statement. It kind of feels good to tease him like that sometimes. Now is one of those times.
"Whose side are you on?" he challenges as he sits back down on her bed.
"Whichever one of you isn't being a jerk to me at any given moment," she says with a raised eyebrow.
He grimaces, but nods, because he knows she's got reason to say things like that.
"Sorry," she adds softly upon seeing the look on his face.
"Look, Peyton, I know you have every right to hate me, but I...I know it doesn't count for much...but I never wanted to hurt you," he insists determinedly.
"I know," she whispers.
But maybe that's why it hurt even more. It wasn't deliberate, it just happened, and she thinks that maybe that's worse than the alternative. At least if he'd been aware of what he was doing, he would have been thinking of her at all, or worried about her feelings. To think that maybe she just never crossed his mind breaks her heart a little more.
"I don't hate you," she says quietly, locking eyes with him.
He almost smiles. Almost. He's taking these little things as they come - these little signs that maybe there's still a chance for them. Maybe he hasn't ruined everything and lost the only girl he ever really cared about. Loved, even.
"Are you sure?" he asks, making her laugh.
"Pretty sure," she says with a smile. They both laugh at those words, knowing the other time they were spoken was way back at the beginning of it all.
"Well, that's something," he says softly, looking back down at his hands.
He looks so fragile and insecure. Vulnerable in a really good way. She knows he cares. She knows that. But it's just really hard to let it all go and tell him that she cares, too. To think that, just earlier that day she was about to do that very thing, is pretty indicative of their entire relationship. It changes quickly, and the feelings are strong, whether they're loving or not.
"It just...It's hard when you expected more from someone."
He takes a deep breath and nods, and it hits him again how much he hates himself for ever making her doubt them. He's made so many mistakes already, and he's reminded just how amazing she is, that she'll even let him anywhere near her, let alone sit in her bedroom late at night for a serious conversation.
"I'm sorry," he says shamefully.
He's shaking his head, and she believes him. She knows he's sorry, and he's finally said the word, and she'd pretty much forgiven him already, but it was still nice to hear.
"I don't know what to do," she repeats. She says it again because it's true.
She's conflicted. Should she fight for Brooke? Or should she let Lucas fight for her.
She's got more faith that she and Lucas will work things out, than she does that Brooke will ever talk to her again.
He understands her opinion; her position. She's conflicted and probably a little scared. He's hurt her before, a lot, and he doesn't want to do it anymore, and he's not sure how to prove that to her without just taking time. And he doesn't want to take time. He's spent enough time without her - or barely with her - and he just...can't do that any more.
So he does the one and only thing that he thinks might just prove to her how much she means to him and how genuine his intentions are.
So he leans over and he kisses her, mindful of the side of her mouth that's red and swollen. She lets out a little noise that stems from her surprise that he's actually kissed her, and her palm lands on his chest. She's not sure if that's just where it falls, or if it's so she can push him away.
But she doesn't push him away.
He's doesn't know if that should surprise him or not, but he takes it as a good sign.
"If you apologize, I'll kick your ass, too," she mumbles, and he closes his eyes and lets out a soft laugh.
That joke is the best thing he's ever heard her say. Hands down. He's just kissed her, and she isn't telling him it was a mistake, or that they shouldn't have done it. She's not yelling at him. She's telling him, in her own way that he loves so much, that she's glad he kissed her. That maybe she wants him to do it again.
"I'm a little scared of you," he says softly.
"You should be," she insists.
He's not talking about a physical fight, and he's pretty sure she knows that, but he can't let her lay there without knowing how he really feels. They've kept too many secrets and hidden themselves from each other, and if they want this to work between them, all that needs to stop.
"I'm not talking about your left jab," he teases.
"Neither was I," she whispers.
She takes his hand again and tugs it a little, encouraging him to lay down next to her. He can't say no to that, and he'd be crazy if he did. She curls into his side like she used to when they were...whatever they were. She feels comfortable there. She feels like maybe she should have been there all along. But hindsight is 20/20.
"What now?" she asks softly as she places her hand over his heart.
"I don't know," he answers honestly.
He doesn't know, really. All he knows is that he wants to be with her, and that by some strange miracle, she's willing to put everything behind them and tuck into his side like that and place her hand on his heart like that and question the future that they both know, on some level, is with each other.
"I can't stay," he says regrettably after a while. He caught sight of the clock at her bedside, and he knows that if he doesn't get home soon, he'll be in a huge amount of trouble.
"OK," she says, squeezing him a little bit before moving away and rolling onto her back.
He sits up and just looks at her for a moment, taking in the sight of something he saw just earlier that day, but feels, somehow, like it's been missing forever.
A genuine smile.
He leans over to kiss her, but stops short when he sees the red line on her lip that he's already so worried about.
"What?" she asks.
"I don't want to hurt you."
As soon as he's said the words, he recognizes the double meaning, and he's happy when he looks down and sees that she's recognized it, too.
"Just kiss me, Luke," she says softly, as though that simple action will make everything OK. As though a kiss is all they need for him to heal her and promise her that he won't break her heart again.
He does as he's told, and she touches her lips as he stands from the bed. It's not from pain, or from regret, or from thinking that they're stuck in limbo again.
It's because she can feel that promise on her lips, and she's pretty sure that he felt it, too.