A/N: Hey, it's April Fool's day! And also my birthday. And no, I'm not joking. I can't even tell you how unfunny that becomes after several years. Anyway, here's a little present for both you and I. Total AU LP, and just a little something that was fun for me to write. The title/lyrics are courtesy of Joel Plaskett Emergency. If you know who he is or they are, I'll be impressed; I'm such a small town kid at heart for loving this band – they're from where I'm from. I guess that I have two songs which I consider "mine", and this is one of them, so it's important to me for several reasons, including that it references my hometown. Who better to lend it to than LP, right? Forgive my lengthy author's note. Enjoy, and how 'bout you give me a b-day present in the form of a review?! ;)

hey, good looking, why the frown?

you always look better when it's upside down

"Where are you?" Haley demands, laughing at him on the other end of the line.

He sighs, repeating, "Halifax." He called her for help and reassurances, but she's spent more time poking fun at him than offering up any kind of advice.

"Halifax, like in the UK?!" she squeals. Haley has a serious love for the British accent, though she rarely 'fesses up about that fact. It's one of her many weird loves that Lucas has come to love her for.

He heaves another sigh. "No, Haley. Halifax in Canada."

"Oh." She sounds disappointed. "Uh, Luke?"

"Yes, Haley?"

"How the hell did you end up in another country? You were supposed to go to New York!"

Lucas groans as he grabs his bag off the carousel. "I realize that. I'm embarrassed enough about it without you rubbing it in my face, thanks. And why is it acceptable for me to accidentally end up in England but not Canada?"

"Sorry, buddy," she replies sincerely. "So…why don't you just get on another flight and get back home?"

"Apparently there aren't that many flights out of here on a daily basis, and they're not just booked but overbooked for the next two days. They said I could go to Toronto or something and catch a connection…but it just sounds complicated," he sighs. His head is aching from the stress of it all. "I'm just going to crash here for the night."

"Luke…you know that all of your biggest fans are currently awaiting your appearance in New York, right? There are girls just dying to faint when they see you, and they're expecting to see you in about an hour. I know you're tired, but it would probably be best if you headed Toronto and grabbed the next flight you can get to New York."

He presses his lips together and takes a moment to think before he can reply. "I'm gonna stay here, Hales."

"But, Luke –"

"I'm not trying to shirk on my responsibilities or anything," he interrupts her. "I just…I think I need to stay here."

Her silence tells him of her concern and he grins to himself, "Haley, don't worry, I'm not having a breakdown or anything. This just…feels right. I guess I need a break for a couple days, and it's been given to me. I'm staying here."

Haley giggles.

"What?"

"No, sorry, Nathan was just…here, I'll give him the phone."

Lucas sighs impatiently, listening to the soft murmur of their voices and the clatter of who-knows-what as Haley handed the phone to her husband.

"Hey, bro."

"Nathan."

"So, let me get this straight –"

"Here we go," Lucas mumbled.

" – you think that being an idiot and winding up in not just another city, or state, but another country is actually some kind of fate?"

"Maybe I do."

"You are such…an author," Nathan scoffs.

"Gee. Thanks," Lucas responds dryly. "I'm going to go, man; I need to find a hotel…"

"Okay, hang on…Haley says to be careful, and to call her tomorrow."

"Will do," he promises, flipping his phone closed and stashing it in his pocket.

His brother can mock him all he wants, but he has a good feeling about this accidental trip.

It doesn't take much for him to find a hotel. He explains his situation embarrassedly to someone at a desk full of tourist information. She knows who he is, giggles sweetly through their entire conversation, tells him he's written the greatest romantic novels of their time, gets him a great two-night deal at one of the best hotels downtown, and nervously asks for his autograph. He signs his book for her, putting a heart by his name, and she arranges for a limo to take him into the city.

The woman at the reception desk at his hotel is equally helpful and in love with his writing. She practically gets starry-eyed when she sees him, her jaw dropping, her elbow digging into her colleague's side. "Mr. Scott," she chokes out, "Your room's ready." Lucas grins and thanks her, wondering if everyone in this strange city is just as impressed by his work.

He goes up to his room to set his things down, makes himself a cup of coffee and stares down onto the busy streets teeming with people, at the glittering waters of the harbour. His muse is quickly getting ideas for his third book, but he realizes that it would be stupid to spend two days sitting in a hotel room. He wants to go out and experience this city. If he really is here for a reason, he needs to find out what that reason is.

He grabs a handful of tourism brochures from where a large stand is set up near the front desk, flashes the helpful girl at the desk his best smile, and asks her what she recommends.

"It's a beautiful day. You should go to the landing."

He thanks her with another smile and heads outside. He's walked two city blocks and sifted through all his brochures when he realizes that he doesn't know where the hell "the landing" is. Finally, he finds a bookstore, filled with old, bound books and the familiar smell of used books. It's four stories tall and the shelves reach the ceilings; there are books absolutely everywhere and something calm and quiet about the atmosphere. He has to resist the urge to stay all day; instead, he asks the clerk where exactly he might find "the landing".

The guy behind the desk sets down his copy of The Fountainhead and chuckles, but in a friendly way, easily explaining him to head toward the harbour at the bottom of the hill and get onto the ferry there. "The landing" is in Dartmouth, the other half of the city. The guy rifles through Lucas' brochures and finds him the correct one before sending him on his way.

He reads his pamphlet on the ferry. This landing everyone keeps talking about is actually called Alderney Landing, and it has a theatre, convention centre, market, art gallery, and restaurant. It looks like a good enough place to spend the day.

The moment he steps off the ferry something shifts. He feels it. His eyes dart around, searching for whatever he is meant to find her, and then he sees a girl. She's standing about twenty feet away from him, trying on sunglasses at a vendor's stand. She whips off the pair she's wearing and frowns contemplatively and all he can think about is how beautiful she'd be if she smiled.

That's when he realizes that he knows her.

you say you got nowhere

that you're going to

She's wearing a hat that would look ridiculous on most girls, and he senses the change in her. He doesn't know her, he knew her, and not very well, at that. But there are parts of her that are still the same, so easily connected to the sixteen-year-old he once pined for. There has always been something about her, small town charm in the way she speaks even when she's bitching someone out, something tragic and striking about her eyes no matter her mood.

He isn't sure exactly what he's thinking, but barely a minute later he's standing next to her and saying, "Hi."

Her eyes fly up to meet his, defences rising at the same time, but then there is a spark of recognition in her eyes and her lips curl into a smile. "You know we match?" she returns, lifting her eyebrows and smirking to herself.

Taken aback, he glances down at his own outfit of jeans and a red t-shit before looking her over, pretty blue dress and a red leather jacket. "I…I guess we do."

She sets her sunglasses down and begins to walk off. He follows because he has a feeling she expects him to. He catches her sizing him up in her peripheral vision. Finally, a full smile blossoms on her lips and he remembers fully what it's like to want her. "You grew up good, Lucas Scott," she tells him quietly.

He feels a huge surge of happiness like he's still that sixteen-year-old kid watching her longingly from afar. "You remember me?"

"How could I forget? You're everywhere these days. Quite the famous author."

"Oh…yeah, right," he mutters, glancing at the ground.

"Hey," she says softly, and he looks up, locking eyes with her. "For the record, I would have remembered you anyway."

He grins. He can't help it.

"And I'm guessing you remember me, since you came over to me first."

"How could I forget?" he shrugs.

She rolls her eyes but blood rushes into her cheeks. "You wanna tell me what brings you to Halifax, you famous author? I thought you were on a book tour or something."

Giving her a long, calculating look, he asks, "Peyton Sawyer, have you read my books? My cheesy romance novels about fate and destiny and finding true love?"

Her smile is sweet and genuine, all warmth and realism. "They weren't cheesy," she tells him.

His heart soars, thumping so fast that it almost hurts. "So, uh…where're you off to?"

With a blithe shrug, she simply says, "Nowhere."

can I go nowhere with you?

"You can't go…nowhere," he informs her. "Physically, logistically impossible," he adds on, insistently, teasingly.

She laughs, the sweetest sound he's heard all day. He really is like a lovestruck kid again, his stomach doing somersaults and his heart soaring skyward, his mind screaming I made Peyton Sawyer laugh!

"Impossible, huh?" Something bitterly sad and something heart-warming dance together in her green eyes. "Watch me," she laughs as they come to a stop in front of the art gallery. She drops one eyelid in a slow, smouldering wink. "Maybe I'll see you around someday, Lucas."

He nods. "Yeah, sure," he says faintly, wishing he had some kind of response that would get her to really and truly notice him or to stay.

She steps inside of the building, disappearing off to do whatever she does, and he watches her go remorsefully, wishing he could follow her.

Because, damn, nowhere has never sounded so good to him.

I took the Dartmouth ferry

into the town

spent my pennies bumming around

Once she's gone he's honestly not sure what he's doing here. He feels a little lost the moment she leaves, standing there alone. He doesn't know anyone else in this place and he feels a sudden surge of loneliness. Maybe he should've just taken Haley's advice and headed to New York as soon as possible.

The first thing he does is go back to the ferry terminal and wait for the next boat. Once he's back in Halifax itself he'll figure this out somehow. He's going to go to New York, then he's going to go home, and he's going to use this strange feeling of having lost something he never really had in the first place to write yet another novel that will break a thousand hearts. He's going to be fine.

But he can't shake the feeling that never pursuing things with her back in high school was a little bit cowardly and a little bit stupid but understandable, while not pursuing things right now is just plain cowardly and a lot stupid.

He wastes time before he goes back to the hotel and makes any decisions. He meanders around downtown Halifax, sticking close to the waterfront. This is where he finds the more eclectic, original stores and he can't resist going in. Before he knows it, he's shopping for everyone he knows and loves. He buys Haley a poncho because he knows she'll laugh, hockey jerseys for Nathan and Jamie because they're a lot easier to find than basketball ones, a teddy bear with a Canadian flag on its chest for his baby sister, a book of famous local photographs for his mom.

This must be why people find retail therapy so effective, he muses as he walks back into the lobby of his hotel, loaded down with bags. He pauses at the front desk to ask if he can get the times for the next flights back to New York before lugging all of his purchases up to his room. Ten minutes later he's drinking another cup of coffee and talking to the concierge, learning that he can be on his way to New York via Toronto in four hours.

He sighs. That gives him at least two hours before he has to head to the airport. He turns on the TV but it doesn't really occupy his mind. He gets up from where he's sprawled out across his bed and grabs the phone book. He sits down at the desk and flips through, wondering if just maybe, she's maintained some kind of permanent residence here. He scans through the S's twice, slowly and carefully. There are several Sawyers, but only two of them could possibly be her.

He calls them both, and they're both disappointments. He rests his face in his hands and sighs. He can't believe he just let her walk away from him.

He wonders if, maybe, she is living here, but living with someone. Maybe she's married. Maybe she's engaged. Maybe he's just way too late. He's an idiot.

It doesn't feel like there's much point for him being here anymore. He calls the airline and gets a ticket. He orders room service and flicks through the TV channels again. He's grown strangely fond of this city in a short period of time, but he really misses American TV.

The only thing he can find is The Land Before Time, a movie about animated dinosaurs that Jamie has forced him to sit through multiple times. He eats quickly and packs the few things he bothered to take out of his bag, leaving the movie to play in the background for company. He's slipping his laptop into his bag and turning off the lamps when one of the dinosaurs on the screen says something that manages to speak to him. He stands there, momentarily frozen with his finger on the power button of the remote control, when his phone rings. He grabs it and is informed that his shuttle to the airport has arrived. He thanks the person on the other end of the line…and tells them to forget it.

He leaves the hotel with the intent of taking the advice of an animated dinosaur in a children's movie, letting his feet fall where they will and trying not too think too much or too loudly about his potential destinations.

"Let your heart guide you. It whispers, so listen carefully."

trying to find a way to tear a strip off these boots

can I go nowhere with you?

He walks around aimlessly as dusk falls. The sky is beautiful, pinks and reds and oranges over-coating the yellow gleam of the sun's rays. All around him, people are moving, on their way to their evening destinations. There are middle-aged couples, groups of teenagers with jeans and short skirts thrown on over their bathing suits, and tons of people shedding nametags and letting their hair down as they leave work and move on to the fun part of their day. He can describe it all perfectly in his head and itches to write it down.

All these people, or at least as it appears to him, know where they're going, what they're going to do when they get there, and, more importantly, who they're going to see. He watches a blonde girl who can't be more than fifteen, curly hair in a ponytail, throw her arms exuberantly around the neck of a boy who playfully stumbles backward under her weight and Lucas' heart almost aches.

He's just walking, without a plan, without the certainty or the surety of having someone waiting for him when he gets where he needs to go.

It gets darker; the streetlights pop on, casting their light down and creating a pattern of darkened spots in between illuminating points of pavement, and he's reminded of the time he was dribbling a ball across a street late at night and a girl, all curly hair and venom, almost killed him with her car.

"I thought I'd never find you!" an exasperated mother yells at her adolescent son, and Lucas knows the feeling.

He can't shake the suspicion lingering with him. If only he could find her, then maybe it would sort of be like finding himself.

paid the cover, saw the show

sat at the bar where the drinks did flow

The streets empty out slowly as people slip into restaurants and bars, and his feeling of loneliness increases tenfold. He doesn't want to keep meandering out here; his feet are starting to hurt. He figures he may as well step into the nearest bar and order something to drink and proceed to write down all his thoughts on as many napkins as it takes. Tomorrow morning he'll wake up with a headache and catch a plan to Toronto, then New York.

He doesn't into the very next bar he sees, teeming with rowdy college kids and a blushing bride-to-be surrounded by twenty of her closest friends all decked out in matching shirts for her bachelorette party. He gets picky about it, assessing his choices, and finally decides on one that looks fairly cool but also has a plaque out front declaring it a "heritage building". It seems like his kind of scene.

And maybe hers.

He sits at the bar and the female bartender notices him almost instantly, leaning across the countertop as she asks him what he'd like.

"Surprise me," he reasons, figuring he can't have anything left to lose. "What do people like to drink in Halifax?"

She stands straight and studies him momentarily; the smile that sneaks onto her lips is entirely sweet, gently mocking his ignorance. "Beer," she tells him, lightly and bluntly all at once.

He cracks a grin, feeling just a bit more at home. "Sounds perfect."

Ten minutes later three guys have surrounded him, having taken it upon themselves to explain to him the history of breweries in the city as well as the nearby vineyards. Lucas takes it all in stride, chuckling at their rambunctious, tipsy methods of storytelling. These guys are practically screaming to be characters in his next book – all friendliness and eagerness, but they must have layers beyond all that innocence. He misses being a carefree college kid. He misses feeling like his life was only beginning, rather than like it's stuck in a rut.

Eventually, his newfound friends get distracted by a table of girls, and Lucas waves their meagre apologies off as they ditch him. He laughs to himself and takes a swig of his second beer. He watches the people that surround him as he waits for the entertainment to begin. The band is full of energy, enthusiasm, and probably a bit of alcohol as they introduce themselves to the crowd, waving and joking around and offering up the stories behind their songs.

When they actually begin to play, he's wowed. He wasn't expecting them to be bad, but he certainly wasn't expecting them to be this good. He gets caught up in the music, tapping one foot lazily to the beat and letting his eyes scan the bar.

He sees a sparkle of gold and green, a flash of blonde, the smallest glimpse of red. It all happens in one heart-stopping split second.

She's here.

didn't see a single face that I knew

'til I went nowhere with you

He stands abruptly, refusing to let himself lose sight of her. For a couple of moments, he's left desperately searching, but then his eyes find a clear path to her.

She's alone, just like he is, and he can't deny that he makes him happy. She's there, in her red leather jacket, those legs he used to dream about crossed underneath her blue dress, unruly curls tumbling onto her shoulders, smiling to herself as she listens to the music.

So this is nowhere.

can I tag along tonight?

we'll kill some time, it looks like you might

need a little company

I'm so cheap I might as well be free

He sidles up to the small table she occupies on her own. He won't allow himself to hesitate before slipping into the empty chair next to hers.

"Hey, there."

She looks over at him, startled, and he's glad to see the way her expression softens when she sees who she is now sitting with. "Hey yourself." She tilts her head to the side, scrunching up her nose adorably. "Are you stalking me or what?"

He grins. "Maybe a little bit."

"Oh, yeah?" Her eyebrows fly up.

"Well…I have to admit…I might have been hoping that I'd see you again."

"Coincidence," she comments.

"Fate," he returns as if it's just as logically a possibility.

It's her turn to grin as she takes him in, trying to figure him out. She swivels her body so that she's facing him. "Are you going to buy me a drink or what?"

His eyes search hers, wondering where she intends this night to go. "Is that what you want?"

She grins cheekily. "Hey, fate says."

"What're you drinking?"

"Whatever you are," she replies blithely, uncrossing her legs and then crossing them again, the skirt of her dress riding up the slightest bit. He wonders if she's trying to torture him or if it's completely unintentional.

His throat feels tight as he tells her he'll be right back, and he sees something in her eyes that tells him that she just might know exactly what she's doing to him.

He returns to her moments later clutching two bottles of beer. She accepts one readily, a glimmer of approval in the smile she gives him, locking their eyes together momentarily. She takes a drink and rests her cheek against her palm, giving him her full attention. "So, Lucas Scott, what's your story?"

"My story?"

"Yeah. I mean, I know the basics. Unwanted son of the idiot mayor of a small town. Great basketball player. Amazing author." She takes another drink, swallowing hard, and for a second he thinks she might be nervous. "You got a girl waiting for you and a white picket fence?"

Lucas shakes his head, smiling. "No girl; definitely no picket fence."

"No?"

"You sound surprised."

"Well…yeah. I mean, the way you write…" She trails off as she chooses her words. "Everyone's always saying that you write what you know. I guess I always kind of figured that someone who can write such epic love stories must have lived that kind of love story. At least in some sense."

He shakes his head. "Nope."

"So how do you do it, then?" Her face is open, free of all her defences, entirely curious.

And beautiful. So beautiful.

He unfolds and refolds a napkin just to have something to do with his hands. "I guess you could say that I…I write what I wish for."

She ducks her head down and waits a moment before she looks at him again, shyly, peeking up at him through her eyelashes. "Good answer," she says, her voice impossibly soft, but he hears her.

The napkin is thin and crumpled in his sweaty palms. "I didn't realize it was a test."

Smiling softly, she doesn't respond to his words but instead says, "What you wrote…I loved both of your books, Lucas. The Comet was beautiful and heart-wrenching and…it took my breath away. It made me cry, and I don't cry at books or movies or TV. But what you wrote…at the end of Ravens…that was so…" She sighs, running a hand through her hair. She's definitely nervous. "Look, I don't go around saying this to guys I just happen to meet twice in one day, but…I kind of know you from before, and…if it's fate, right?"

He smiles, resisting the urge to reach across the table and link their hands together, and she takes it as her encouragement to continue.

"That moment of clarity," she says softly, "I've always wished for that. To feel it, or to make someone feel it…I've always wished for that, for something that means that much."

Lucas inhales as if he can breathe in her words. "You're an artist," he says quietly.

Her smile is small and surprised as he cheeks turn red in the moderate lighting. "You remember that?"

"Yeah. And I can tell. By the way you talk."

She returns his praise with her own by the means of a schoolyard taunt, a teasing smile playing on her lips and lighting up her green eyes: "Takes one to know one."

He laughs. "It's the same thing in a way, you know? You're always searching for that one perfect image, to capture a feeling or a moment…or a person. I'm always looking for that one perfect word."

Understandingly, she nods, finishing her drink.

"Try me."

"What?" she laughs lightly, furrowing her brow.

"In one word, try and describe me."

She bites her lower lip hesitantly. "You first. Describe me first. You're the pro at this."

He takes a long moment to think about it. He doesn't want to scare her off, or overwhelm her, or over-flatter her, or insult her. It seems like the most delicate procedure, choosing a word for her. Finally, he settles on the one that's followed him around for what feels like forever, settled in the back of his mind for years. "Lonely," he says simply.

She closes herself off so suddenly and so noticeably that he's taken aback. She pushes her empty bottle to the side and stands in an instant, turning away.

"Hey, Peyton –"

Just before she disappears into the crowd, she gives him a scathing look and says: "Cocky, know-it-all, jerk."

hey, good looking, why the frown?

you always look better when it's upside down

He darts after her into the city streets, his only thought: I can't let her get away. Not again. Not this time.

"Hey, Peyton!" he calls when he finally catches up with her, reaching out to gently grab her wrist. She yanks her arm back violently.

"Oh, I'm sorry, did I not make it clear that I want you to stay the hell away from me?" she growls.

He's momentarily struck speechless. This feistier side of her is a turn-on, he can't lie. He shakes his head to clear it, easily falling into step with her. "Hey, I'm sorry. And you know, uh…technically that was three words."

He sees her wanting to smile. The temptation is there for only a split second, but he sees it, and it gives him hope. She shakes her head nonetheless, curls flying. "Well, you deserved all three, and a few more which I could easily supply to you now."

"I didn't mean to hurt you."

She sighs, turning away from him, her body language slowly relaxing into something a little less hostile. She pushes her hair out of her face and eyes him warily. "You…" She sighs again, her eyes searching his for a minute. He wants for her to see that she can trust him. "I guess you just hit a little close to the truth," she murmurs, her eyes darting from the ground to his face and back again.

"I shouldn't have said it. I'm sorry."

She shrugs, grudgingly forgiving him. "You told the truth. You shouldn't have to apologize or that."

"If that's how you want to play it…then you do have to apologize for calling me a cocky, know-it-all jerk, right?"

She gasps, laughing as though she can't help it, and bats at his chest half-heartedly, hitting him with the back of her hand. "No, I don't."

"Fair enough," he grins.

Fiddling with the hem of her jacket, she tells him, "Listen, I'm not mad or anything but I…I think I should go home. Thanks for the drink."

"Well – wait – at least – let me walk you," he appeals. He's not ready to let go of her just yet.

"It'd be easier to take a cab. Thanks."

He sighs heavily, reaching out, his hand cupping her elbow. When she doesn't pull away, he lets his arm glide down at her until he takes her hand firmly in his own. "Don't go. Please. C'mon!" he says, trying for enthusiasm. "I want…I want to get to know you better. I'll be good, I promise," he tells her, giving her his most encouraging look. "No more cocky, know-it-all, jerk-like comments, I swear."

She considers it for a moment with her eyes on his before glancing down at their hands, effortlessly intertwined. Daringly, he lifts his other hand, gently tucking her hair behind her ear. Her eyes dart back up to his face, and the confusion he sees in her green eyes is gentle, almost like wonderment, so he lets his palm linger against her skin.

"Who are you to say no to fate, huh?" he asks her quietly, jerking his chin forward slightly, challenging her to contradict him.

She looks down, the city lights dancing across her porcelain cheeks in the moonlight. She smiles to herself, to the sidewalk, and he thinks he might be in love, even though it's technically too fast and too soon. Screw technicalities.

"Okay," she says softly.

you say you got nowhere

that you're going to

can I go nowhere with you?

They walk aimlessly, hands linked together perfectly. She's courageous and calm, but he feels a surge of protectiveness toward her every time they turn a darkened corner.

She recognizes it and laughs at him, all fondness as she cups his cheek lightly for a moment. "You're too sweet, you know that?"

"Sweet?"

"Is that emasculating?" she teases, tugging him down another street. "C'mon, this way."

He follows her without protest. "You know this city pretty well."

"Yeah, I guess so."

"How long have you been here?"

"Um, well…almost five years, now. Wow." She laughs to herself. "I didn't think it had been that long."

"You're happy here?"

"Well…yeah. I came out here after high school to go to NSCAD – the art school – and when I graduated, one of the galleries was interested in my work for a show, and some of the friends that I'd made were working for a record label and managed to get me an interview, and I got a job…and the rest is history."

"But?" he asks gently, sensing her hesitance.

She gives him a small smile. "But…I don't know, I'm happy here, like you said. My two biggest passions are music and art, and I've been given opportunities to pursue both here. This city's been good to be. But even then, I suppose I never really thought I'd end up staying here…permanently."

"Five years isn't permanent. You were in school for at least three of those, right? Lots of people go elsewhere for college."

"Yeah…but I don't have a reason to live. I have everything I've ever wanted here. And I feel so…disconnected…from home."

"You still think of it at home? North Carolina? Tree Hill?"

The look she gave him was a good enough answer.

He gave her hand a gentle squeeze. "Well, then, this city can't have given you everything you're looking for, can it have?"

She leans into him, resting her head against his shoulder momentarily and clinging to his hand. "Know-it-all," she murmurs into the fabric of the sleeve of his shirt, and he chuckles. He releases her hand and wraps his arm around her. He doesn't need to see her smile; he can sense it as she wraps her arm around him as well as nestles into the crook of his arm, getting comfortable. Their footsteps are in perfect sync.

"Maybe…maybe I should go to Paris. Or Milan. Or one of those artsy cities. Maybe I should go to India! Or New Zealand or Morocco or Norway!" she cries, her ideas increasing in their craziness.

"I think the liquor might be getting to you," he laughs.

"I'm serious, Luke," she insists, using the shortened version of his name for the first time. His stomach flips. "Maybe I need to go far away."

He runs his hand lightly up and down her arm both for warmth and comfort. "Or maybe you should go home."

She's silent after he says that, and he wonders if she's picked up on his true motives, his true desire for her to return to the same place he's got to go back to. It's too early for that kind of seriousness, and they both recognize that, but he couldn't help but say it.

"And what brings you here?" she asks softly. "How does Lucas Scott end up in Canada? Aren't you doing a book tour?"

"Long story," he replies evasively. "Long, boring story."

She stops abruptly, straightening up and looking him straight in the eye, one of her arms still wrapped around his body and vice versa, keeping them close. "You did something stupid," she says knowingly, triumphantly, reading him like a book.

"Did not."

"Tell me!" she says delightedly, and resorts to tickling him.

He releases her reluctantly to get away from her hands, laughing. "Okay, okay. I might…have…gotten on…the wrong plane."

She bursts out laughing, complete and unadulterated joy, the first time he's ever seen it from her, and he just stands back, admiring her as she giggles at his expense. "Luke! How do you even do that, this is a different country!"

He shrugs sheepishly. "I honestly don't know. I was reading this really good book and I just sort of…wandered. And no one stopped me."

She giggles again, reaching for his hand again. He gives it to her willingly as she closes the distance between them, tilting her head up as she looks at him. For the briefest second he thinks she might kiss him.

Instead, she says, "Maybe you're not a know-it-all after all." She giggles, making the sweetest face, before grabbing his hand and pulling him after her. "Come on, in here."

here we go

na na na na na na na

na na na na na na na

na na na na na na na


"Where's here?!" he demands as he trails after her.

She casts him a coy look over her shoulder and winks. "Nowhere," she says mysteriously, tugging him into another bar.

There's something freer about her as she weaves easily through the crowd, pulling him behind her, and he realizes that she's starting to really let him in to her life and her thoughts and her world.

He rests his hand lightly on the small of her back as she leans across the bar, ordering them shots. He wants everyone to know that she's with him, that he's with her.

"Oh my God!"

He follows the source of the squeal to a girl who honestly doesn't look old enough to drink.

"You're Lucas Scott!" she cries, scrutinizing his face. "I mean…you are, right?"

He nods, smiling slightly as she approaches him shyly, holding out a napkin and asking for his autograph. Her name is Lily; he tells her that's his sister's name and that sends her squealing again. As she accepts the signed napkin, Peyton turns around, looking thoroughly amused by what's going on. Lily grins at them both and yells, over the music, "You guys are soooo cute!"

He actually finds his cheeks heating up and Peyton drapes her arms around his neck. "Look at you and your fangirls," she purrs into his ear.

"Yeah, yeah," he says modestly. She laughs and pulls away, handing him a shot.

She holds hers up and nods to him. "To being a kickass author. I mean that," she adds, her voice earnest and gentle.

He raises his small glass as well. "To having the most beautiful girl in this city as my date. And I mean that."

Blushing, she brings the glass to her lips and tilts her head back as she downs her shot. He asks the bartender for another round, answering her inquisitive look with his eyes, telling her to be patient. He hands her one and she accepts it, waiting.

"To finding clarity," he says quietly, locking his blue orbs with his green ones.

Her lips curve into a soft smile. "To getting what you wish for," she whispers. They hold each other's gazes for an extra moment.

With one beer and two shots in her system, she shakes off the seriousness, taking both of his hands in hers and taking a couple steps back. "Come dance with me," she says, quietly but playfully, and he'd have to be an idiot to say no.

can I go nowhere with you?

again

na na na na na na na

na na na na na na na

na na na na na na na na na

She's even more beautiful when she's letting go, when she dances like no one's watching, arms and feet and hips and legs, legs, legs. She sings along to the music, gives him the most perfect smiles, and syncs her body to his like that's what it was meant to do.

He stops suddenly in the middle of a song and kisses her in the middle of the dance floor. She's shocked into stillness at first, but slowly, surely, she responds to him. It might not be the perfect first kiss, on a doorstep or in a rainstorm, but it's more than he could ever want. His hands cup her cheeks, cradling her face delicately, cheeks warm beneath his palms. She tastes like alcohol and strawberries and chocolate and everything he could ever wish for.

And he never wants this to end.

can I go nowhere with you?

He lets her lead, following around, basking in her spontaneity. They stumble out of the bar and she leans back against the brick wall of a neighbouring building, breathing heavily. She runs a hand through her hair and props one foot back against the wall for support. "You kissed me," she marvels, biting her lip.

"Should I…not…have?"

She smiles as if she's realizing how very long he's been waiting to do just that. "You should get over here and do it again," she tells him softly.

Their second kiss is chaste and sweet; he's not one for pushing PDA. He'd be willing to do anything for her, but he gets the impression that it's not her thing either. He just lets his lips linger against hers, breathing the same air, noses brushing together. She closes her eyes and sighs against his mouth.

"Tired?" he asks her tenderly, his hand getting lost in her hair. However reluctantly, he'll take her home if that's where she wants to go, and leave her there like a gentleman.

Her fingers dance against his chest, his shoulders, his jaw. "I've never felt more awake," she says faintly, and he knows that she means it.

He grins. "So what now?"

"Let's go somewhere," she shrugs, looking at him with stars in her eyes.

"Where?"

She pushes off of the wall and intertwines their fingers. There is a security in holding her hand that he could never explain, and he knows that she feels it, too. She smiles at him, beginning to walk away, and he follows willingly, as always.

"Nowhere," she says simply, and he's starting to love this.

He wants this to be how his life is. All the time.

And he wants her to be his. All the time.

can I tag along tonight?

we'll kill some time, it looks like you might

need a little company

She leads him to 'Pizza Corner', an intersection which houses four pizza places, where it seems that everyone who's intoxicated goes to get the pizza they're so suddenly and desperately craving. They fight playfully over who pays and she finally gives in to him, allowing him to pay for their slices and their bottles of water.

They sit at the counter and two swivelling stools, lazily propelling themselves back and forth. Every few seconds their knees bump and he feels like a teenager with the hugest crush on the most beautiful girl. She smiles at him, pizza sauce on her upper lip. He leans over and kisses it away.

"So," she says quietly, idly picking a green pepper off her slice. She puts it onto his and he rolls his eyes tolerantly as she does the same with the rest of her peppers. "Are we going to talk about…what…we are?"

He studies her face. "Do you want to?"

She sighs. "Not really." She meets his eyes. "Is that okay? Isn't it better that way?"

"Yeah, I…I guess so."

Giving him a smile of thanks, she rests her hand on his knee. "I like having you with me, Luke."

"I like being with you," he replies easily.

She sighs again, but more contentedly. "This is my best night in a long time."

"Same here."

She frowns suspiciously. "Are you just going to agree with everything I say?"

"Well…what'll it get me?" he asks, wiggling his eyebrows playfully.

Rolling her eyes, she pushes at his knee, sending his stool swivelling in away from her. He swings back to face her.

"Seriously, Peyton. I'm telling you the truth. I can't remember the last time I felt this way."

Her voice sounds very small, "And what way is that?"

He runs the back of his finger lightly down her cheek before tucking it under her chin, forcing her to meet his eyes. "You know," he says quietly, huskily.

"Yeah," she whispers shakily. "I guess I do." She cracks a smile. "I'm glad you were so stupid that you got on the wrong plane."

Lucas laughs. "Oh, me too, believe me."

She fidgets uneasily on her stool. "I want you…to know me, Lucas. Even if this is all we have…I want you to know me."

He understands what she's saying. She doesn't let a lot of people in, but she wants to allow his access to her hidden thoughts and her heart. That means the world to him, but there's something that she doesn't realize. He rests a hand on her knee; her arm crosses over his to rest on his opposite one as she waits for him to speak.

"Peyton Sawyer," he muses, so thankful that he's here with her tonight, so thankful that this is happening for them, finally. He smiles at her fondly. "I always knew you."

I'm so cheap I might as well be free

whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa

It's nearly four in the morning before they finally leave, wrapped up in each other. They walk aimlessly, or at least he thinks so until she says "Aha!" He shoots her a confused look and she gestures to the store they stand in front of. A twenty-four hour convenience shop. "Come on!" she calls to him as she walks through the door. He blinks and hurries in after her.

She picks out grape-flavoured bubblegum and chilled coffee from a brand he doesn't recognize that's bound to be awful, but he doesn't care. She tells him to pick out some chocolate bars and disappears down one of the tiny aisles on a search for something else. Frowning in confusion, his heart skips a hesitant beat as he tries to figure out what she's thinking.

He grabs two bars of his favourite chocolate and waits impatiently for her to reappear. She does, slipping out of an aisle wearing an impish smile, something hidden behind her back. She walks up to him, pressing her body against his, and speaks close to his ear so that the shop owner won't know what she's saying. He can hear the triumphant smirk in her voice as she speaks: "You thought I was looking for condoms."

He shakes his head, spluttering helplessly as he pulls back. She grins, eyes sparkling even though they should both be exhausted right now.

"Admit it," she says softly, but she doesn't make him actually say the words. She simply pulls her surprise out from behind her back and hands it to him.

"Well, I wasn't that far off…" he mutters, examining the appearance of what's inside the plastic bag-like packaging. He holds it up, dangling between his fingers. "What do we need balloons for?"

"Pig," she says, berating him for his initial train of thought, but there's something affectionate and kind in that one word. She snatches the package of balloons out of his hands and winks. "Trust me."

She leads him down the large hill, both of them tripping over their own feet, until they're at the waterfront, on the opposite side of the harbour from where they first saw each other that day. No one's around and the water looks perfectly peaceful. She walks all the way to the edge of dock-like walkway that lines the harbour and turns to him, shrugging off her jacket.

"Oh, no," he grimaces. "You're not going to make me going swimming, are you?"

Laughing, she tugs on his hand as she sits, her feet dangling over the edge, above the water. She throws her jacket to the side. "No. Lucky for you, the water's polluted." She makes a face and then quirks her eyebrows, leaning toward him. "But would skinny dipping be that bad?"

He groans. "You're killing me," he tells her simply.

In response, she tears into the package of balloons and hands him one, giggling as she orders: "Blow."

He blows up the entire package of twelve red balloons as she takes off her heels, stretches out her feet, and pulls all of their other purchases out of the bag before setting her shoes atop it to keep it from blowing away. He takes the opportunity to admire her; the way her curls stick to her lips, the newly exposed skin of her arms and shoulders and back now that she's shed her jacket.

"You're staring," she says softly, turning to look at him.

Lucas just smiles. "You're beautiful."

She shakes her head fondly, breaking off a piece of chocolate and handing it to him. He accepts it, eats it, and they both bask in the silence for a while, staring out into the darkness and over the water. Knowing that she's there, sitting right next to him, is the most comforting, satisfying feeling.

Eventually, she grabs one of the balloons and bats it into the air. It drifts out and she kicks at it with her foot, turning her head to smile at him. "Did you play this game? At birthday parties? It was my favourite thing. My mom always bought me balloons when I was sad. I don't think anyone can resist it, you know? That urge to just play, to keep the balloon up in the air."

He places his hand gently over hers, cupping her fingers tenderly with his. "I'm sorry about your mom, Peyton."

She throws a balloon gently toward his face, so that it hits his nose and rebounds into the distance, revealing her smile, sincere and sweet and soft. "Thank you," she says mutedly before offering him a brighter grin. "So, are you gonna play with me or what?"

He returns her grin and grabs another of the balloons. She's right, it's irresistible, and soon enough they're laughing, desperately trying to keep ten balloons in the air, arms and feet swinging outward. For a few minutes, red balloons are falling all around them, and it's the perfect moment, everything he'd ever wanted with her.

As the last one falls into the harbour, she sighs, falling into him. Automatically, he lifts an arm, pulling her closer and allowing her to cuddle against his chest. He offers her the bottle of disgusting cold coffee and she giggles, shaking her head negatively. With another sigh, she pulls away, resting her weight back on both of her hands and staring off at the water and the sky.

"Look at that," she whispers.

They watch the sun rise together, so similar to the previous day's sunset, all reds and pinks and oranges coating over yellow. He can only imagine what she sees, with her artist's eyes. It glows down generously onto the city, onto her, illuminating her hair like a halo and allowing her eyes to cast out a million colours.

"Hey, Luke?"

He makes a sound of acknowledgment, speechless as he watches the sun's rays bathe her body in their light.

She turns to him, meeting his eyes with her own, kaleidoscopes of all of those magnificent colours. She speaks softly but purposefully.

"I'm so glad you always knew me."

if you get tired and want to go home

I'm still wired

I can go it alone

They finally get tired as the sun makes its ascent into the sky. She gathers up their garbage, candy wrappers and empty bottles, her bare feet padding softly against the wooden boards as she walks to the nearest trash can and throws everything away. When she sits next to him again he pulls her feet into his lap and slips her shoes on for her. She kisses his cheek as she grabs her jacket and stands. He joins her, wrapping an arm around her shoulders as they wearily plod up the hill toward his hotel.

She snuggles into his arms in the elevator, giggling to herself.

"What is it?"

"It totally broke the hearts of all those girls at the reception desk to see you leading me up to your room."

He chuckles but says nothing because he wouldn't have it any other way.

They may be tired but they're still hyped up for no real reason, so after they flop down side by side on his hotel bed, he turns on the TV and they watch the comedy channel for hours, laughing until their stomachs and throats ache. He can't shake the feeling that this is what he wants to experience every day for the best of his life, because it doesn't feel like it can get better than this.

same time next week at a quarter past ten?

and we can go nowhere again

When he switches to the weather channel to make sure everything will be fine for his flight, she pouts about him leaving and distracts him with her soft lips, wandering hands, her body fitting perfectly into his as she rolls on top of him, her toes resting gently atop his and she settles there, her hips matching his. He groans at the friction and she makes an appreciative sound.

He wants to feel more of her, pushes her jacket off her shoulders and tosses it aside, relishes the sensation of her skin under his hands. His hands don't stay still, one creeping under her neckline, just barely under her bra, the other pushing her dress up. She sighs, murmuring, "Stop," against his lips even as she kisses him fiercely.

"Mixed messages, Peyt," he mutters, reluctantly pulling back and meeting her eyes. She blushes and peppers kisses all over his face.

"I'm sorry. I want this, too, Lucas, but…it's too soon. I'm not that girl."

"I know," he assures her quietly, his hands moving to skim lightly down her back.

She smiles softly. "At least, not with you," she amends quietly. "Not with you. And…you… You're leaving soon, and I don't…I think it'd break my heart." Her fingers tap a light rhythm out on his chest just above where his own heart beats. Her smile twists into something like a frown. "We should sleep."

"Yeah," he manages to agree, though it feels like a Herculean feat to let her roll off of his and tuck herself close to his side, messy curls splayed across her pillow, beautiful green eyes searching his face.

Tears gather in her eyes but they don't fall. "In another life, Luke…" she murmurs, a promise that can never be kept.

if you show up then

then you know I will too

can I go nowhere with…

He feels his own eyes burning, surprising him. "But we won't get that, will we?" he asks her, expecting honesty.

She presses her lips together until they turn white, blinking quickly. He runs his hand down her arm soothingly, trying to tell her that it's okay if she falls apart, but she gets it together, sucks some air in, and kisses him soundly. "Probably not," she whispers. "But Lucas, back in high school, I never, ever, in a million years would have imagined this. You and me, here. But it happened, it's happening…and it means everything." She heaves an unhappy sigh. "And you're gonna go home and write another beautiful book and I…I'm going to stay here."

Lucas studies her face for a moment, glassy green eyes and a perfect nose and lips that he never wants to stop kissing. "You're not disconnected, you know." He elaborates: "Earlier, yesterday, today, tonight…you said you felt so disconnected from home. From Tree Hill. But you're not. I look at you and I see the most beautiful woman, but I also see the sixteen-year-old girl who hated cheerleading but never missed a game. And when you talk everything about your voice is so seamless, but I hear a Southern accent, just sometimes. And I feel it, Peyton. I feel it in my heart when I'm with you."

A single tear escaped her eye, tumbling haphazardly down her cheek, over her nose, and leaving a damp spot on the pillow. She smiled through her tears. "Listen, I'm going to go home, okay? I'm going to shower and change, and you're going to do the same, and I'm going to meet you in the lobby of this hotel in an hour." She sits up, scrambling for her shoes and her jacket.

He sits up as well, moving in slow motion compared to her hastiness. "Peyton…"

"I'm just not ready to lose you yet," she says softly, finger-combing her curls. "I want you for a little longer, okay?"

He grabs her hand and kisses her knuckles. "Of course it's okay. I'll see you in an hour."

"Okay," she breathes, giving him a quick, grateful smile. "We'll do something. Go somewhere."

"Or we could do nothing. Go nowhere."

She squeezed her eyes shut for a split second to stop her tears before leaning down to brush her lips against his. "Sounds perfect."

hey, good looking, why the frown?

you always look better when it's upside down

She's sitting in his hotel lobby when he steps out of the elevator exactly one hour later, staring at the floor and tapping her foot impatiently. He sneaks up on her, leaning down to huskily whisper in her ear: "Hey, gorgeous."

She jumps, but the moment she sees that it's him, a smile lights up her face. She takes his hand, letting him pull her up from her chair. "Hey, handsome," she replies to tease him. She stands on her toes and kisses the corner of his mouth. "You're such a dork." She kisses him full on the lips. "But I love it."

He rewards her with a smile of his own. She looks different today, an hour later than he's last seen her, curls piled atop her head in a bun that is somehow messy and elegant all at once, in nothing but jeans with holes in the knees and a shirt that's some colour in between the realms of pink and red. He kisses the apple of her cheek and tells her she's beautiful before she drags him out the door, asking him to walk with her for a while, to absorb the city.

you say you got nowhere

that you're going to

"What do you want to do? I mean…do you have goals? Or are you just going to let life take it's course?"

Peyton shrugs. "I've always sort of let things happen as they will. I've never been one of those people who make lists of things they want to do before they're thirty or whatever. What about you?"

He shrugs as well, coming to a stop as they wait for a light to change. "I don't have lists, but I guess I have plans. Hopes, at least."

"Like what?"

"Well…" He scuffs his toe against the pavement, suddenly shy. "You know when I sat next to you in that bar last night and you asked me if I had a girl and a white picket fence?"

"Yeah."

"The truth is…I wish I did. I want that. Sure, I write about epic love and longing and clarity, but…I think you can have all of that if you just meet the right person. Love can be epic and beautiful and it can clarify things for you without all the heartache and the complications."

"Love isn't easy," she contradicted him softly.

"No, I don't mean to say it is. I just…it's like I said, I write what I wish for. I want the happy ending. I guess I really always have."

The light changes but she doesn't move.

can I go nowhere with you?

na na na na na na na

"I want those things, too," she admits, looking him right in the eye as if she's begging for his understanding. "The happy ending…I want that."

He touches her cheek gently and she relaxes. She knows that he knows.

She shakes her head sadly, her lips trembling. "Maybe, y'know?" she asks, something desperate and heartbreaking in her voice. "Maybe someday, baby," she tells him quietly, wrapping her arms around him. He holds her tightly as if he'll never have to leave, just as long as he doesn't let go. She buries her face in her chest and tries not to cry.

Eventually, she releases him, wiping swiftly at her eyes.

"This is going to be fun," she insists. "They call it a goodbye for a reason, right? Let's get some ice cream."

(hey, good looking)

na na na na na na na

She takes him to Cows, which is apparently the best ice cream on the Eastern coast. There's a long line early in the morning, but it doesn't bother them. They stand together in comfortable silence, hands clasped together like they're pledging some kind of oath. They watch little kids pester their parents for chocolate ice cream, not strawberry frozen yoghurt, for two scoops, not one. He looks at her in his peripheral vision, and he catches it in her eyes. That flash of longing that can make a heart ache, and he's knows that she really does yearn for all the same things he does.

He wishes he'd known her for months, for years, for whatever time it takes so that begging her to come away with him right now wouldn't seem absolutely insane.

Instead of doing what he aches to, he lets her drag him inside and order him some sort of chocolate concoction, listens to her insist that they have something sweet because they're both going to hold on to these days and that one long night as a good, happy memory.

Not as something that could have, would have, should have been.

(hey, hey, good looking)

na na na na na na na

When they finish their ice cream, she calls a cab and they take it to the park she loves to go to when she can't find her muse. It's atop a hill, right next to monuments commemorating the Halifax Explosion. It's beautiful, peaceful and calm. They climb a tree and sit together, hidden away in its branches, escaping the world for one last hour. They kiss and whisper and try not to think about the seconds that are rapidly ticking by.

"Can I tell you something?" Her voice is choked up and raw when she speaks, a full two minutes after he gently tells her that he's got to go in ten.

"Of course," he replies soothingly.

"When I can't draw, or when I feel like I can't help people…with their music…I come here. And I sit, in this tree, and a lot of the time…I read your book. Ravens," she clarifies. "Those last sentences, Lucas…" She gathers his hand in both of hers and unbuttons the first couple buttons of his shirt, placing his hand just over her heart so that he can feel it pounding. "It's like you touched my soul with those words. So when I lose myself I…I turn to them," she tells him with a shy shrug, sniffling softly. "Because sometimes it feels like those sentences and the mind they came from know me even better than I know myself." She smiles weakly. "You really did always know me, didn't you?"

He sighs, reaching out with his other hand to cup the back of her neck, bringing her forehead to rest against his for a moment. She's still clutching his other hand over her heart.

"You talk about finding your muse here," he says, his voice just above a whisper. "Peyton, you were my muse. All through high school." Her eyes meet his, surprised, and he admits, "I was so…enthralled and infatuated and…you were so beautiful and broken all at once. Somehow I could feel your strength but I also just ached for you and all you'd been through. When I dreamed of or wished for love and clarity and those epic journeys, for something worth all the heartache and the misery and the waiting…I was thinking of you."

Her eyes dance across his face, marvelling at what he's just revealed to her. She takes a couple deep breaths before she asks, "And now?"

He takes out his penknife and carves into the bark of her favourite tree.

Lucas and Peyton.

T.L.A.

She has to struggle to speak, her words catching in her throat as she releases his hand and runs her fingers delicately over the letters, inscribed for eternity. "You've gotta catch a plane."

you got nowhere that you're going to

can I go nowhere with you?

can I go nowhere with you?

They say their goodbye in a secluded corner of his hotel's lobby; he still has to head upstairs and pack and call for a shuttle to the airport.

He kisses her forehead and tells her that he could fall in love with her. That maybe he already has. She stops him there with a bruising kiss, unable to hear anymore or to tell him the same.

But she doesn't have to. He feels it.

"I wish, Luke." She sighs. "I wish we could just be together. I wish there was that chance for us. At some time or somewhere or…"

"Or nowhere," he says lightly.

"Or nowhere," she agrees.

Two perfect, languid, emotion-packed kisses and a hug that he never wants to end, and then she's gone, out the sliding doors and disappearing back into the crowds of the city.

can I go, can I go nowhere with you?

He's sitting in the airport three hours later at Gate 31, waiting for his flight to Raleigh to begin to board. His heart is heavy. He's got books in his bag and Haley won't stop calling his cell but he doesn't feel like dealing with real life. He's just lost something, someone, and it means more than it should after only twenty-four hours together.

They finally announce the boarding call and he sighs in relief, standing up. He just wants to get on the plane and stare into the clouds miserably for a few hours.

It's like a movie, the way the crowd parts when he stands, and all of a sudden he sees her face. She's there; she's standing right there, not more than ten feet away from him. She's staring, waiting for him to notice, to see her.

And what's more than that, he sees her hands…clutching a boarding pass that could only be for his flight.

She smiles at him, tears gleaming in her eyes but something cheeky in the way she grins, like well, you were the one who told me I might need to go home, weren't you? She quirks an eyebrow and laughs to herself.

His feet move and hers move and all of a sudden they're standing right in front of each other, each grasping boarding passes like their lives depend on it. They don't say anything, and he figures they don't really need to. He grins at her and she blushes. She reaches for him, clinging to the lapels of his coat, and his arms wrap easily and naturally around her waist, holding her close. She rests her forehead against his and they just take a moment to breathe each other in.

The only word spoken between them leaves her lips just before they collide with his.

"Clarity," she whispers.

can I go nowhere with…

nowhere with you?