A/N: I'm re-watching season one, and I couldn't resist the temptation to expand on 1x05, which I'd always wished ended a little differently. I loved LPN way more than BLP, but I wanted something more to happen at the end of this particular episode. This is it. I know that Peyton implied in 5x09 that her mom never brought her hot chocolate, even when she was alive, but…I'm just going to chose to ignore that. Read and review, please.
"Did you know my mom died tonight?" She asks it bluntly and sees the shock on his face. "Seven years ago." She pauses before she adds tiredly, "You didn't know, 'cause you never asked." Shaking her head slightly, she tells him, "I didn't come here for you tonight."
"So why'd you come?" he demands.
As if on cue, a door swings open and he looks up, somewhere behind her. She turns, following his gaze, and sees Lucas standing there. Her lips twitch up into a smile for only a second before she turns back to Nathan.
She sees it in his eyes, realization and accusation mingling together with just a little bit of hurt. Turning again, she looks into another set of blue orbs, and those are filled with worry and compassion.
He likes her. He likes her in the sweetest, most genuine way, enough to worry about her wellbeing. She appreciates it but she also fears it. She has a greater connection to him than she's ever experienced with anyone before. In the end, she breaks eye contact and walks away from the Scott brothers, trying to sort out her thoughts and blinking back tears.
She stops short and squeezes her eyes shut at the sound of his voice when he calls out to her. If one of them had to reach out to her right now, she has to admit that she'd hoped it would be him.
She doesn't say anything and she doesn't move; she just waits for him to catch up with her, listening to his feet hit the pavement.
"Hey," he says softly, delicately touching her elbow. He gives her a small smile, teasing and gentle all at once, and asks, "Wanna go for a drive?"
She almost starts crying right then and there, but she manages not to. She just nods her assent and falls into step with him as they walk to her car.
Parked at a green light, waiting, she feels his eyes searching her face.
"Just say it," she whispers.
He sighs. "I don't want to tell you what to do, because I can't pretend to know what you're going through. But I wish you wouldn't do this, Peyton. I'm worried about you. One of these days you could actually get hurt."
"I almost did," she chokes out as the light turns yellow. "On the way to the game tonight, I almost got into an accident. I almost got hurt."
She can tell without looking at him that he finds this information horrifying. "Please stop this," he begs quietly. "Please promise me you'll stop doing this." He places his hand gently over hers on the gearshift. "I don't know what I'd do without you."
She bites her lip until it bleeds but she doesn't hit the gas as the light turns red. She sits there and stares straight ahead as his thumb moves slowly back and forth, stroking her knuckles soothingly, pleading with her.
She parks easily in her driveway but doesn't get right out of the car. She takes a couple deep breaths and tries to get herself together.
He touches her shoulder. "C'mon. It's getting cold; I think it's going to rain. Let's get you inside."
By the time she gets her door open and steps out of her car, he's standing right there next to her, still and staring like he's deep in thought.
What? she asks him with her eyes.
All of a sudden, he hugs her, wrapping her up in a warm, comforting embrace. She's startled at first, and automatically resists, but he holds her strongly and patiently. It doesn't take long for her to give in. There's something amazing about the way he holds her, something so very secure about being wrapped up in his arms, his hand cupping the back of her head. She savours it and finds herself disappointed when, after a long time, he releases her.
"Let's go in."
"Yeah," she mutters, following him.
Inside they stand awkwardly in her front hall, unsure of what to do. It's awkward but somehow comfortable, standing there with him, in her home.
"What now?" she whispers, the ghost of a grin gracing her lips.
He smirks, pleased at the sight of her smile. He reaches out and clasps her hand in his for no real reason. "You tell me."
Her smile forms fully as she blurts, "My feet are fucking freezing," prompting them both to look down at her blue-and-white toes in her old, beat-up, black flip-flops.
Chuckling lightly, he uses their entwined hands to tug her after him, toward the stairs. "Let's warm you up." He says it so innocently, so purely, without even a trace of innuendo. Her eyes water and she follows him willingly up the stairs, down the hall, into her room, and all the way to her en suite bathroom. He gives her hand a squeeze before letting it go to twist the taps, allowing the water to run.
He tests the temperature with his hand and turns his head to speak to her over his shoulder: "Shoes off."
When the bathtub is filled up halfway, he turns off the water and offers her his hand to help her step in. Shooting him a grateful smile, her feet stinging slightly as they're submerged in the hot water, she suggests, "Join me?"
He kicks off his sneakers and pulls off his socks, perching on the edge of the tub next to her with his feet in the water.
"Dude, your feet stink," she teases.
Laughing, he says, "Sorry."
"How was the game?"
He shrugs. "Kind of crappy, especially for Nathan. This just isn't a good day."
She nods. That, of all things, is most definitely true.
Reaching out, he wraps an arm around her shoulders and pulls her close to him. She sighs, shutting her eyes and resting her head against his shoulder.
She lies on top of her bed covers, leaning back against her pillows, her bare feet wrapped up in a fluffy white towel, flipping idly through old photo albums. She shoots him a small smile as he joins her, mimicking her position, peering at the pictures.
"So I've seen you naked," he says jokingly, pointing to a shot of her three-year-old self in a bubbly bath, her mother kneeling next to the tub.
She rolls her eyes and elbows him lightly.
"She loved you so much, Peyton," he tells her quietly as she flips the page. "I can see it in the way she looked at you."
Exhaling, she smiles again. "She was awesome. She taught me to draw."
"She did a good job," he says simply.
"She could cook, too, way better than I can. She would make so much food right before my dad would come home from a trip. I'd sit on the counter in the kitchen and watch her. She always smelled like vanilla and cinnamon and paint." She sighs sadly. "Then Dad would come home and they'd both hug me at the same time, and I'd feel so safe." Swallowing hard, she continues, "Then they'd send me to Brooke's for the night." She makes the universally recognized, grossed-out-but-resigned face that all kids make when forced to think about their parents' sex lives, which causes him to chuckle softly. "They'd pick me up the next morning and we'd go to the park or the beach or something." Her fingers trace over a photograph. "It was perfect."
"Sounds like it." His voice is soft, unobtrusive.
"I don't know if I've ever really been as happy as I used to be then." Sighing again, she forges on, "And then…then, when he left, my mom would wake me up in the morning with this really great hot chocolate she made, with the foam and sprinkles on top, y'know? We'd just lie together in my bed." Her face crumples and her throat aches. "It should get easier, you know? I should be stronger than this, especially after so long. It shouldn't hurt this much."
"It's okay that it does," he murmurs, gently tucking her curls out of her face, his thumb softly wiping the tears from her cheeks. "I'd be miserable without my mom; I'd miss her every single day. I can't even imagine it."
"Yeah…at least I have a good dad, right?" she chokes out, grasping at humour.
"No," he insists. "It still sucks for you and I'm sorry. I wish so much that I could change this for you."
Slowly, she closes the album. She loves him for saying that, but she can't find the words to tell him so. Instead, she says, "I've never talked about this stuff with anyone."
"Not even your dad?"
"No, not really. It's too hard. For both of us."
"What about Brooke?"
"She knows some of it, but we don't talk about it."
She smirks mirthlessly. "Uh, no."
He takes a moment to think. "Can I ask you…why Nathan? Why were you with him for so long if you weren't all that happy?"
Sighing, she shifts uncomfortably. "I know I…I put up this…bitchy front, but…it kind of sucks. Being alone so much," she clarifies, staring at her hands.
His bare leg is pressed against hers. "It's okay to need people, you know." His watch beeps before she can respond, making them both jump. "It's midnight. I should probably go." He looks at her for a long moment, eyes searching her face. "Of I could stay. If you want."
She takes a deep breath and looks up, hesitantly meeting his eyes. "I want."
"Should I, uh, sleep downstairs on the couch?" he asks as they both stand up, peeling the blankets back on her bed.
"Don't be stupid," she dismisses his words. "Stay here." She crawls into the bed without bothering to change what she's wearing at all or brush her teeth, and he hesitates for only a second before climbing in and lying down next to her. She reaches over and turns off her lamp.
They lie together in silence. Her vulnerability and the darkness and the fact that they're in bed together makes this seem so intimate, and her heart's pounding.
"You know…" he says when the silence starts to stifle them. "I used to watch you."
"Shut up," she replies softly, lazily.
"I'm serious. I remember you in the park when we were…six, or seven. You were so damn cute, with ribbons in your messy hair. You looked happy. You were with your mom." He pauses. "She was beautiful."
"Yeah," she whispers, smoothing out wrinkles in her sheets that aren't there. "She was."
He turns to look at her, eyes glinting in the moonlight that sneaks in around her curtains. "You're like her."
A tear tumbles down her cheek as she stares at the ceiling, smiling. "Goodnight, Luke."
In the morning, the sun's rays take the place of the moon's glow, filling her room with soft light that wakes her up. She sighs contentedly, realizing that she's all wrapped up in his arms, cuddled against him. Her fingers dance across his chest, over his heart, doodling as her lips curve up into a smile. He shifts as the sun wakes him as well, smiling blearily at her. His hair is adorably mussed.
"G'morning," he says, kissing her curls. "You look like an angel when you sleep," he tells her matter-of-factly.
Her skin heats up and she's suddenly very aware of their proximity.
"How're you feeling?" he murmurs, lips brushing her forehead as if it's the most natural thing.
She snuggles closer to him, wrapping one of her legs loosely over one of his. "Safe," she whispers, meeting his beautiful blue eyes.
"Good," he replies firmly. "It's early, go back to sleep."
Tucking her head into his shoulder, she does just that.
When she wakes again, he's gone, and she sits up in bed with a frown on her face. But before she can even analyze how his disappearance makes her feel, he walks back in carrying a mug.
"Hey, sleeping beauty," he greets, holding it out to her.
Hot cocoa with foam and chocolate sprinkles.
"Foam," she breathes as if she's in awe of it, tears gathering in her eyes, and at that moment her heart is his.
He shrugs modestly. If he weren't wearing basketball shorts, she's sure he would've jammed his hands in his pockets by now. "There's a fancy coffee machine at the café." He smiles. "It's ten o'clock, I should probably get going."
Setting her mug aside, she nods. For a moment, they just gaze at each other. He doesn't seem all that anxious to go.
"You gonna be okay?"
She nods again, and then impulsively, she reaches out, grabbing a handful of the shirt he's wearing and pulling him down to her, pulling his lips to her lips.
The kiss is gentle but full of electricity and pent-up yearning paired with a bit of gratitude. When they break apart she's glad to find muted hope in his eyes along with obvious shock.
"Thank you," she says, breathlessly, through a smile. She doesn't let go of his shirt.
"Thank you," he says quietly, his eyes sparkling, a teasing note in his voice. He leans in, hesitantly brushing his lips against hers again.
She deepens the kiss immediately, pulling him closer. She lies back slowly and he crawls onto the bed, settling his body atop hers.
It feels so good, one of his hands getting lost in her hair. It feels safe, the reassuring weight of his body pressing against hers. And it feels like the happiness she'd thought she lost, penetrating her grief and overwhelming her senses.
He rests his forehead lightly against hers, his hand slipping out of her hair to gently cup her cheek, and she smiles at him before tilting her chin up and kissing him once more.
She knows, somewhere deep inside, that her mom would have approved of this boy.
And that makes it just that much better.