A/N: Total NP love. They are my new obsession, I swear. I heard this Taylor Swift song and, I kid you not, before the first listen was even over, I was writing this. Great song.


| I've never gone with the wind
Just let it flow |

She was just barely 16 years old, and she saw the boy she'd known for what felt like forever walking towards her. He was hot, she couldn't deny. No one else would, either. He was all blue eyes and dark hair and that killer smirk. Letterman jacket and athletic build. He was the boy all the girls wanted, and the guys wanted to be. There's one in every school.

In their school, it was Nathan Scott.

She was a cheerleader, but she was not a cheerleader. She cheered for her own reasons and none of them were conventional, but no one asked questions about it because at 16, they were all too wrapped up in their own stuff to really care about anyone else's. She enjoyed it more than she'd admit to anyone. She felt that same rush as everyone else did on game night, pulling on that pleated skirt of blue and white.

Nathan was walking down the hall toward her, and while all the girls wanted him, he seemed to only want one girl.

Why he'd chosen her, she really had no idea.

They'd known each other since they were six years old, placed next to each other in their classes all through elementary school since their last names started with the same letter. As they got older, they were always running with the same crowd and going to the same parties. They used to know each other better - be closer friends - but then high school came along and it was basketball and studying and other girls and other guys.

She took a few moments longer to gather her books than she needed to, just to be there for his daily flirtation. Yes, she was giving in to him, but he was always good for a laugh, and she had to say she liked the way he looked at her sometimes; like she was more to him than he was letting on. She ignored the voice in her head telling her that he probably made a lot of other girls feel that way, too.

"Saw you staring at me at practice yesterday," he stated, his tone cocky and confident as he leaned against the locker next to hers. "I thought Brooke was going to revoke your pompom privileges."

"She wouldn't dare," Peyton said in mock-awe, flashing him the same fake smile she wore on game nights. He laughed a little, knowing she could certainly put on an act.

"I just got you to admit you were staring at me," he said with a raised brow and that smirk that she hated to admit made her melt a little.

"Just thinking how much skinnier you are than the senior boys," she taunted, slamming her locker shut and walking away from him after giving him one last smile; a genuine one this time.

"Bullshit!" he called after her, smirking again when she raised her hand in the air and waved nonchalantly. He pushed himself off the wall and watched as she walked away, happy to have gotten the day's sarcastic remark from her.

The girl was all legs and attitude, and what he had come to realize quickly was that he cared about her more than he cared about the other girls he pursued. Maybe it was because he'd known her longer, and could remember sharing cookies with her on the playground. Or maybe it was because she didn't just give into him like the other girls did. She didn't seem care about his basketball ability and his social status. If she did, she didn't let on. He liked the idea that he was just a boy to her.

What he didn't want anyone but her to see was that he wanted to be her boy.

| Let it take me where it wants to go
Till you open the door, there's so much more
I've never seen it before |

After the Ravens' win one Friday night, Peyton, being a cheerleader, was 'required', according to Brooke, to attend the regular post-game party at one of the rich kids' houses. She couldn't say she didn't actually want to go. Part of her loved these parties, knowing her high school days were passing quickly. She wanted to take everything in.

She also maybe wanted to see Nathan.

They'd been playing cat and mouse since they were old enough for their hormones to kick in, but things were getting more interesting. He'd wink at her in the hallway, or pass her notes in class, commenting crudely on her appearance; 'you look fucking hot', or 'that skirt makes your ass look amazing'. She kind of liked the attention.

And when Brooke pointed out that Nathan had given Peyton 'the nod' at the game that night, she decided to play the game a little bit, herself. She was a good flirt, she knew. She was no stranger to boys, and with Brooke as her best friend, she knew how to act around them. Sure, she wasn't quite as shameless as Brooke was, but she could hold her own.

She had a smile that only Nathan got, and she didn't know why that was, or if anyone else knew that. She didn't know if he knew it.

She was perched on the counter in the kitchen tossing party mix into her mouth when she saw him come in. She didn't change her posture or fluff her hair or tense up at all. That wasn't her style.

She smiled at him when he caught sight of her there, sitting atop the dark granite in her jeans and black halter top. She was wearing Chuck Taylors, and he kind of thought that was the coolest thing about her. Other girls always came to parties in little skirts and heels, and she'd show up in her jeans and Chucks and a leather jacket, her hair down and unruly, and he thought that was just about the sexiest thing in the world. She didn't have to try to be sexy. She just was sexy.

He said his hellos to the people he passed, grabbed a beer, and he made his way over to her, standing next to her and leaning back against the counter, observing the party from her point of view.

"So? Are you impressed by me yet?" he asked before taking a swig of his drink.

He'd scored 24 points in the game that night, and she, along with everyone else in the building, had taken notice. She didn't want to let him know that. Not yet.

"Should I be?" she inquired, turning to meet his eyes. She loved that shade of blue.

"Well, most people are," he said with a smirk.

"Well, I'm not most people," she reminded him, hopping down off the counter. "And nice work on the matching." She gestured between the two of them, and he noticed then that they were both wearing black shirts and dark jeans.

She weaved through a few people and out of the room, and he was left alone, smiling to himself at the game they were so obviously playing. She'd pretend she didn't care, and he'd pretend he wanted other girls, but they were each faking it.

And she always left him with something intriguing to mull over when she walked away.

He found her an hour later, sipping a diet Coke and laughing with Bevin and Brooke over something or another.

He walked over to her and placed his hand on the small of her back as he leaned down to whisper in her ear, "come for a walk with me."

Bevin and Brooke exchanged looks, and Peyton passed her soda can to her best friend, walking off with Nathan without a second look to either girl. Her eyes were fixed on the boy who was holding her hand and leading her towards the back of the house.

He didn't let go of her hand and she didn't want him to, and he didn't say anything until they were strolling down the beach.

"I didn't think you'd come," he admitted, moving his thumb against the sensitive skin between her thumb and forefinger.

It seemed a bit vulnerable, which was a rarity from him, and she had a sarcastic and somewhat crude remark right there on the tip of her tongue, but she didn't want to ruin the moment, unsure of when she'd get another one like that with him; if she would.

"You whisper in a girl's ear like that, and it's hard to say no," she said with a smile, looking up at him briefly.

"I'll remember that," he muttered, making her let out a breathy laugh.

"I'm sure you will," she said softly. "You were really good tonight, Nathan."

"Baby, you haven't even seen my A game," he said in a low voice.

"I was talking about basketball," she told him, glaring at him just a little bit, but not at all seriously.

"So was I," he said.

He stopped walking and let go of her hand, and he sat himself down on the sand. He looked up at her after a few moments, as though asking why she wasn't next to him yet. She took a quiet breath and took her place beside him, wondering what she was doing and how he was making her do it.

"How come you're like this with me?" she asked quietly.

"Like what?" he asked with a furrowed brow. He wasn't sure if he should be offended by that question or not.

"Sweet and...nice. And still sexy," she said, sifting sand through her fingers and avoiding eye contact.

"You think I'm sexy?" he asked with a sly grin.

"Oh my God," she groaned. "Of course, that's what you take from what I said."

"I was joking," he said seriously. "But not really." He laughed when she shook her head, before his voice got quiet again. "I just...like you."

"You like me?" she asked with a knowing smile.

"It's not, like, a secret," he told her. "I've been hitting on you all year."

"Nathan!" she cried, swatting his arm. He reached for her wrist and then wove his fingers through hers again. "You don't treat me like you treat other girls."

"I don't want to treat you like I treat other girls," he admitted seriously.

She softened her eyes and let out a breath in surprise. Of all the things she thought he might say, she certainly hadn't expected that.

| I was trying to fly
But I couldn't find wings
But you came along and you changed everything |

"Wow," she sighed. "You really are sweet."

She said it as though she couldn't believe it, and once again, he had no idea if he should be insulted by that or not. This girl was making him work for it, and he was totally drawn to that.

"When I want to be," he said quietly, turning to look at her. "And you're really not a bitch."

Her jaw dropped and he laughed, because they both knew he was right.

"It's like a screening process," she started, making him raise an eyebrow questioningly. "If someone can put up with the bitch, they can put up with the rest of me."

She looked down to their joined hands again, wondering why he was so insistent on having their fingers intertwined. She definitely liked it. His large hand holding hers like it was the most natural thing for him to do. His calloused fingers and her skinny ones, and the silver ring she wore on her middle finger that wouldn't even get past one knuckle of his.

"What about me?"

"What about you?" she asked.

"Which version of you do I get?" He turned his head and locked his eyes with hers, and that smirk of his was out in full force, and she thought she might lean over and kiss him then and there.

"Which version do you want?" she inquired seriously.

"I think the bitch is sexy as hell," he admitted in a low voice, making her chuckle a little bit and shake her head. "I kind of like all of it, though."

She was quiet for a moment, contemplating what he'd just said. Boys didn't like the bitch. Maybe that was why she put it out there so much. She didn't want attention for her looks alone, and that may have sounded conceited, but it was true. She got the feeling that if she explained that to Nathan, he might just understand.

"I don't...I don't really know what to say to that," she said quietly, flashing him one of those genuine smiles.

"You don't have to say anything," he said, shrugging his shoulders and turning his head back to the ocean in front of them.

"You are full of surprises, Nathan Scott," she said, shaking her head.

"You're not exactly an open book either, Sawyer," he pointed out. "Maybe we could be..."

"What?" she asked when his voice trailed.

"You'll be sarcastic," he insisted, using that as an excuse to keep his statement to himself.

"Nathan," she said pleadingly, caressing his thumb with her own.

"We could...hang out and...I dunno...get to know each other again," he said quietly.

"Just hang out?" she asked.

"I mean, if you wanted to do more than just hang out, I'm all for it..."

"Shut up," she scoffed.

But she wanted to kiss him already, and she was sure that if they started to hang out more, that want would only grow.

He draped his arm around her shoulder, pulling her into his side and she wondered if anyone would miss her if she stayed on the beach with him all night. Surely Brooke could find another ride home.

But she was Peyton Sawyer. And Peyton Sawyer didn't sit on beaches late at night with arrogant basketball players, even if those arrogant basketball players were seemingly not so arrogant after all.

He kissed her temple and her heart melted. She didn't care about her rules or her idea of what kind of boy she should date; musicians or artists with messy hair and brooding eyes. She never thought of Nathan as the kind of boy who would kiss anyone's temple, and that only made him sexier.

"Come on," he said, pulling away from her to stand up. "We should get back."

He extended his hand to her and pulled her up so she was standing in front of him, and her free hand naturally made its way to his chest. He was looking down at her like he wanted to kiss her, and when she licked her lips just subtly, he couldn't help himself.

He pressed his lips to hers, and it was like all the years they'd known each other - all the tension they'd been building up in those sarcastic comments and lewd remarks - all poured into that kiss and made it much, much more than it should have been.

The kiss she expected wasn't the one she got, and that just made it more amazing. It wasn't hard or rough, and he didn't even try to deepen it, though she definitely would have allowed him to. It was gentle and almost too light, and when he pulled away and told her that Brooke was probably looking for her, she really couldn't find it in her to care.

She just wanted to kiss him again. He was hell bent on leaving her wanting more.

He let go of her hand before they entered the party again, and he winked at her as he went off with his friends and she went off with hers.

But that was the night it all changed.

| You lift my feet off the ground, you spin me around
You make me crazier, crazier |

After that, he'd pull her behind the field house and they'd talk for 10 minutes before practice, with him in his shorts and mesh jersey, and her in her sweat pants and tank top. He'd tuck a curl behind her ear and she'd smile at him coyly. He'd kiss her forehead when Whitey bellowed for him, and he'd jog around the corner towards the gym doors. They were secret, stolen moments that no one, not even Brooke, knew about. She didn't want to be judged, and she wanted to find out on her own whether or not Nathan was playing her.

What she had settled on, was that he either wasn't playing her at all, or he was playing her so well that she would never find out about it. She really didn't think it was the latter.

When he called her one Saturday, two weeks after that party, he told her that his parents were away and that he was bored, and she should go to his house and hang out with him. She thought about it for about three seconds, and then told him that she'd be over shortly.

She contemplated changing, but her jeans and Van Halen tee shirt were just too comfortable. Her hair was down and, by some fluke, actually wasn't a disaster. So she stuffed her feet into her sneakers, threw on her leather jacket and grabbed her wallet and keys.

It was pouring rain and when she got to his house she was surprised to see Nathan shooting baskets in his driveway, sweatshirt drenched and his hair wet, and his jeans clinging to him. She felt her temperature spike before she'd even cut the engine.

"What are you doing?" she shouted when she stepped out of her car. "It's crazy out here!"

"So!" he yelled back with a smile on his face.

"This is an expensive jacket!"

"So take it off," he said simply, shrugging his shoulders.

She tipped her head back, then tugged off her jacket and threw it, along with her keys, onto the covered porch before walking back towards him. So much for her good hair day.

"Why are you out here?" she asked as she stood in front of him.

"I like the rain," he told her. "You get all cold, and then you have to find ways to warm up."

He put his hands on her hips and pulled her closer to him. Though they had been stealing moments together in the weeks prior, they hadn't kissed - not really, not on the lips - since that night on the beach. She had known, when she agreed to go to his house, that was about to change. She should have expected him not to waste any time.

"Let me guess. You have a few ways in mind, don't you?" she said flatly, with a raised eyebrow as she looked up at him.

"Sure," he said, smiling as he leaned down to press his lips to hers.

Before she knew what he was doing, he'd hooked his arms around her and lifted her up off the ground, never breaking the kiss until she squealed.


"I love it when you yell my name, baby," he mumbled in her ear.

Oh, this boy was going to get her into trouble.

She didn't do this. She didn't go to houses without parents around, and she didn't kiss in the rain, and she didn't let her heart flutter when boys smiled at her and called her baby.

She didn't let boys take her hand and lead her into their houses and promise her fireside hot chocolate, either.

But Nathan made every idea sound like the best idea, and she couldn't really argue with him when he told her to take off her tee shirt and pull a dry sweater over her head. She walked back into the kitchen after changing in the red cotton that was far too big for her, and when he smirked at her, she blushed and told him to stop staring.

He told her he wasn't going to.

| Feels like I'm falling
And I'm lost in your eyes
You make me crazier, crazier, crazier |

They agreed not to tell anyone that they were hanging out outside of school, but the time they spent together went from rare to very often. They'd have movie marathons and she'd force him to listen to the music she loved. He'd admit that not all of it sucked, and she'd be okay with that answer. She'd kiss him when they were listening to the classic rock station and he'd correctly attribute a song to Led Zeppelin or Boston or Cream.

She'd sit on the bench in his driveway and draw and cheer him on sarcastically as he practiced his free throws, and they'd both comment on how their parents were never around, and yet they'd never spend the night with each other or break curfew. She called it the 'wonders of the honour system', and he called it stupidity. She laughed and told him to relax, and he playfully rolled his eyes and told her he'd be patient.

He respected her, and she knew that, and he wouldn't push her. He knew her situation, and she knew his, and they were both surprised the night he admitted that he'd wished he had waited. Though he'd sigh in frustration when she pushed his hand away or tell him to stop, she knew he understood.

"You have pretty eyes," he observed one day when they were sitting on the bleachers in the gym.

Practice had just ended, and the entire team and all the cheerleading squad was still in the room, but he said it quiet enough for only her to hear. She just looked at him and smiled, and he shrugged his shoulders like he did almost every time he said something nice to her. It was like he wanted to downplay just how sweet and caring he really was.

That drove her crazy.

"Don't shrug," she scolded.

"What?" he asked obliviously.

"I hate that," she said. "You say something like that and then try to make it seem like nothing."

He was leaning back on his elbows and looking up at her, and she could tell he wasn't going to say anything in response.

"You don't have to pretend with me," she insisted softly.

"Pretend what?" he asked.

"That you don't mean what you say," she clarified.

"I do mean it. I just...don't want to say something that freaks you out," he explained.

"Like what?" she asked, turning her body to his. Her knee brushed his thigh and she watched as he smiled at even that little contact.

"I don't know," he said, shrugging his shoulders, laughing when she glared at him teasingly. "I just...like you. A lot."

"Well, if a boy likes a girl, he's allowed to say that she has pretty eyes," she said in what she knew was his favourite tone of voice. Soft and low, and just seductive enough to make him take a deep breath.

She stood up to gather her things, and he reached for her forearm to stop her from walking away.

"You also look fucking sexy in those pants," he muttered, smirking wolfishly as she shook her head.

"Annnd there's Nathan Scott again," she teased, making him laugh before she slung her bag over her shoulder. "I'll call you tonight."

"Later, Sawyer," he called after her, smiling as he watched her hips sway.

He was head over heels for this girl, and she had no clue. Every time he tried to tell her, he'd clam up and always downplay things. But he wanted to be her boyfriend, and he didn't care about other girls, and he wanted other guys to stop staring at her.

He just wanted her all to himself, and he'd never felt that for anyone before.

| I watched from a distance as you made life your own
Every sky was your own kind of blue
And I wanted to know how that would feel
And you made it so real |

He watched her in the hallways as she laughed with her girlfriends, but he'd look away before anyone could notice. He'd see her driving through town in that old crappy car of hers, and he'd smile at the sounds of what he now knew was Dashboard Confessional blaring from her speakers. She'd tell him she knew when he was looking, and he'd say 'good', and she'd sigh and roll her eyes. She'd say he was shameless, but they both knew that wasn't really true either.

He went to a party one night and she wasn't there. She had told him that she just didn't want to go, and he'd asked her to reconsider, but she wouldn't. He didn't press the issue, instead driving straight from her house to the house of one of the guys on the team.

He tried to care about what the girls at the party were saying, but he really just couldn't do it. He didn't care about the things they were talking about. He wanted passionate talks about music that he didn't really understand, and he wanted charcoal smudges on his palm when she forgot to wash her hands before holding his when he walked in and she was sketching.

It wasn't even 11:00 and he left the party without an explanation to anyone. No one put two and two together. They either didn't care that both Peyton and now Nathan were missing, or they weren't in the frame of mind to figure it out.

When he stepped into her bedroom, he saw her laying on her bed, obviously surprised to see him there.

"How do you talk to those girls every day?" he asked as he sat down next to her, placing his arm on the opposite side of her body.

"I'm generally barely paying attention," she explained with a laugh. "That bad, huh?"

"Usually Brooke's there to keep things cool, but she was making out with someone in the corner," he said with a smirk, laughing when her eyes went wide.

"Who!?" she asked excitedly. "God, she's nuts."

They both chuckled, knowing that for all Brooke's bluster and reputation, she really didn't do things like that too often, and Peyton was actually a little sad that she was missing out on what would surely be Monday morning's gossip. Any regret she had over not going to the party was erased when Nathan spoke again.

"You know what I like most about you?" he asked. "I mean, besides the fact that you're insanely hot."

"Of course," she teased, rolling her eyes.

"Of course." He took her hand in his and ran his thumb over her knuckles. "I like that you just...do your own thing."

"So do you," she countered, making him shake his head.

"No. I have to listen to my dad and to Whitey, and I have to lead the team," he explained. "You're just...your own girl."

"Well," she said, sitting up so her face was only inches from his, "I'm kind of your girl, too."

He pressed his lips to hers and she tugged at the front of his polo shirt as she laid down, with him moving so a little of his weight was resting on her.

She had no idea what that statement meant to him, and he wasn't about to tell her. Not that night, anyway.

"I want to be like you are," he said softly, brushing a stray curl off her forehead.

She could only smile at him and close her eyes for a moment. She didn't know how this boy was the same boy everyone else saw. Maybe he wasn't. He was thoughtful and sweet and he said the most perfectly simple things. Those things meant more to her than all the flowery language other guys spewed. Nathan meant his words. He said things as they were.

And she believed him.

| You showed me something that I couldn't see
You opened my eyes and you made me believe |

His shirt was quickly discarded when their kisses became more intense, and she was in just her tank top and jeans as her hands clutched his back and his hovered over her body.

He pushed the thin cotton of her tank top up and his fingers danced along the bare skin of her stomach, moving toward the button of her jeans, and she started to get nervous. He could tell right away, and so he pulled back from her slightly and smiled at her sheepishly.

"Sorry," he whispered.

"No, Nathan, I'm sorry," she said, shaking her head.

"Why?" he asked in confusion. He was well aware that his palm was still beneath her shirt, but he didn't want to move it and she didn't ask him to.

"I keep stopping things," she said, avoiding eye contact.

"I'd be kind of a dick if I didn't let you stop things," he said seriously, making her roll her eyes. He loved it when she did that. "Peyton, you don't have to apologize."

"I just...feel bad," she admitted, finally looking at him. His features softened and he sent her a little smile.

"Don't," he insisted. "Remember? Not like other girls?"

"Yeah, but other girls..."

"Other girls aren't you," he interrupted, and her lips bent into a weak smile. "But...what are you scared of?"


"No," he said, shaking his head. "I don't mean it like that. I just mean...God, look at you."

"Uh...what does that mean?" she asked with a laugh.

"It means that you're beautiful," he said softly, moving his thumb gently on the side of her stomach. "You're just...I know girls get insecure or whatever, but...You shouldn't be."

"I'm not," she lied, looking away from him again.

But she couldn't fool him, and all he wanted to do was to make her see what he saw.

"Do you trust me?" he asked seriously.

"Depends," she said with a raised eyebrow, making him laugh softly.

"Do you trust me?" he repeated, smiling down at her. She nodded her head slowly, and he smiled a little wider. "I'm going to show you something, okay?"

"Nathan, I..."

"No, not that," he said with a smirk. "Just..."

His voice trailed and he pushed the cotton of her tank top up a little more, his gaze never leaving hers, and she nodded her head when he raised his brow slightly, asking for confirmation. She sat up a little so he could pull her shirt up off her body, leaving her in only a black bra.

"This freckle," he said, circling the spot on her hip with the tip of his index finger. "This freckle drives me wild. You have those jeans...the ones with the hole in the knee...and you wear them with short shirts, and I can always see this freckle."

"It tickles," she mumbled, placing her hand over his and making him smile.

"And this scar," he started, running his thumb over the short line of pink flesh on her upper arm, "you told me last week that you hate this, but I think it's sexy."

"It's a scar," she said skeptically, furrowing her brow.

"Scars are badass," he pointed out, making her chuckle. "It's totally hot."

He pressed a gentle kiss to her lips and tried to ignore the way her hands felt on the small of his back.

"Show and tell over?" she asked with a smile.

"One more thing," he said. "But you have to really, really trust me."

She took a deep breath and nodded her head, and her eyes stayed locked with his as he unbuttoned, then unzipped her jeans.

And she had to admit, he was making her feel things she'd never really felt before, in a lot of different ways. She might have been falling for him, and she was definitely ready to do more with him than just kiss and touch.

He pulled the denim down her legs, and tried not to jump to conclusions when he noticed that her breathing was shallow. And he tried to control himself at the sight of her in just her matching bra and underwear. It wasn't an easy thing to do.

His hands caressed the outside of her legs, just above her knees, paying extra attention to the subtle contour of the muscle there.

"This, right here," he explained with a smirk. "This is responsible for more of my missed free throws than anything else."

She smiled, then blushed, but she wasn't nervous for him to see her that way. He wasn't gawking at her or making crude comments. He was appreciating her, and making her feel sexier than she ever had. She maybe shouldn't have needed a boy to feel that, but Nathan was capable of doing anything he wanted to do, and he apparently wanted to make her feel that way.

He moved back up her body so his face was hovering just above hers, and she wrapped her arms around his neck again.

"You're amazing," he said, speaking between kisses. "And sexy...and beautiful...and you make me crazy."

She knew it wasn't a bad crazy.

So when he kissed her again, she let it be more than just a simple kiss. It was her hands running through his hair, and his moving up her side, and then they were both struggling to balance their breathing.


"I know. Sorry," he managed.

"No," she said, shaking her head. "I want to."

She would have laughed at the shocked and worried look on his face if it wasn't such a serious moment for the both of them.

"Peyton, we don't have to," he insisted, showing that sensitivity that she always loved so much. "I don't want to make you feel..."

She cut him off with a kiss, making him moan against her lips and press his hips against hers a little more, just for a momentary release.

"Make me feel good, Nathan," she whispered.

He looked into her eyes once more, just to be sure that she was sure, and then he kissed her again. He mumbled assurances against her skin, and he took his time with her. He knew that no matter what, she'd remember that night for the rest of her life, and he wouldn't let it be a bad memory.

That was the night she realized she was falling in love with Nathan Scott.

| You lift my feet off the ground, you spin me around
You make me crazier, crazier |

The playoffs were underway, which meant an away game against Bear Creek, one of the team's most hated rivals. She was driving with Brooke, since Whitey was enforcing his rule of 'no girls on the bus'. So she made him a mix of all her favourite old school hip hop, and wrote on the CD with her loopy cursive. He smiled when he saw the words, 'Bring your A game, Scott', there on the shiny plastic.

No one noticed that she cheered just that little bit harder for his baskets, or that she'd take a deep breath when he stood in front of her at the end of the court to toss the ball inbounds.

He noticed.

Their team was down by two with eight seconds to go, and Nathan had the ball. He could have passed, or driven the lane to tie it, but instead, he glanced at his teammates, watched as they distracted the defenders, and drained a perfect three at the buzzer for the win.

The cheerleaders and Ravens fans who'd made the trip all ran onto the court, and Nathan received adulation from all of them.

But he only saw one girl rushing towards him. Blonde curls and a bright smile and those pretty eyes. She threw her arms around his neck and she congratulated him, and then she did something he didn't expect at all.

She kissed him.

Her feet weren't even on the ground, and her lips were on his, and she didn't care who was looking or finding out about them. She just wanted to kiss him.

So she kissed him, and his hand tangled in her hair as his other arm held her tight against him and held her up.

And he kissed her back.

| Feels like I'm falling and I
I'm lost in your eyes
You make me crazier, crazier, crazier |

They were the talk of the school the following Monday morning. Guys looked at Peyton differently - like they were disappointed she had a boyfriend. They didn't leer at her like they used to, knowing Nathan Scott's girl wasn't to be messed with.

Girls gossiped and stared at her as she walked down the hall, wondering what she had that they didn't, and how she'd made Nathan 'settle down' and actually call someone his girlfriend. When she had asked him that same question, he told her that it was because she hadn't made him do anything.

"Seriously? I don't think I'd get more attention if I had, like, a horrible face tattoo or something," she muttered as she opened her locker, where Brooke had been waiting for her.

"All the things you could have said, and you come up with face tattoo?" Brooke asked with a kinked brow.

"Whatever!" Peyton laughed as she gathered her books. "God, you'd think I was the first girl to ever date a guy or something."

"Okay, you know this is like, a huge deal, though, right?" Brooke asked seriously. "I mean, God, you're Nathan and Peyton."

"No, I'm Peyton, he's Nathan, and we happen to be a couple," Peyton corrected.

"Whatever," Brooke mumbled. "How long have you two been sneaking around?"

"We weren't sneaking..." Her voice trailed when Brooke raised one eyebrow again, and she knew she'd been caught in her lie. "I don't know. Like, a month and a half or something."

"A month and a half?!"

"Brooke!" Peyton hissed, looking around at the stares they'd drawn.

"Tell me - please tell me - you haven't had sex with him," Brooke begged, closing her eyes as she waited for the answer. Peyton suspected they both knew the answer, but that Brooke wanted to hear it from the source.

"Brooke, it's...not like that with us," Peyton said delicately. "He waited...we waited...until I was ready."

Brooke saw the look in Peyton's eye, that soft glimmer of something other than just sarcasm and cynicism, and she knew her friend was in over her head. She didn't like it one bit. She loved both Nathan and Peyton individually, but she knew Nathan and his reputation, and she didn't want to see her best friend heartbroken because of him.

"You're not, like, falling in love with Nathan, are you?" Brooke asked incredulously.

"Brooke, honestly..." Peyton admonished.

"Honestly? Tell me the truth," the brunette requested, putting a hand on her hip.

"Honestly, he's not like what everyone sees," Peyton explained, suddenly growing upset and defensive of her relationship and her boy.

"Nathan is a total jerk, Peyton! You know that! All he cares about is chasing girls and drinking and basketball!"

"Oh, so he's like you, but a guy? Chasing guys, and drinking, and cheerleading," Peyton said hotly.

"I'm going to pretend that you didn't say that," Brooke said, shaking her head.

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean that," Peyton sighed, signaling her defeat. "He just...We're good. Me and Nathan. We're...really good."

Sure, Brooke had seen a change in her best friend, and she'd mentioned it in passing a few times, but she hadn't thought the mood was a result of giving her heart - and apparently her body - to a guy like Nathan Scott.

"He's going to break your heart," Brooke said seriously, shaking her head.

"Better to have loved and lost, right?" Peyton said with a shrug of her shoulders, piling her books into her hands. "I've gotta go."

"Peyton..." Brooke tried, before noticing the dark haired boy at the end of the hall.

"Brooke, I'll see you at practice!" she called out, walking towards a smiling Nathan and slipping her hand into his.

"She give you the 'Nathan's a jerk and he's going to hurt you' speech?" he asked.

"Pretty much word for word," Peyton muttered. She loved her best friend for caring, but she couldn't say she appreciated the way she'd been ambushed.

He looked around and then pushed her into an empty class room, pressing her against the wall gently before placing his hands on her hips.

"You know...I mean...that I won't, right?" he asked nervously. "Not if I can help it."

"I know," she whispered, nodding her head.

"Good," he said, leaning down to kiss her quickly. "Now let's go to the class you told me we're not allowed to skip."

Maybe what she liked most about him was that he could say those sweet things, then switch the next second and be the confident, cocky guy that everyone else saw. It should have made her mad that he wasn't just one way or the other, but she liked that she was the only one who knew that he was more complex than that. She was the only one he let see him that way, and it was like he was her best kept secret.

They blew off a party one Saturday, and since everyone knew they were a couple, they made fun of Nathan for being 'whipped'. Peyton didn't really care what they said, and neither did Nathan. He'd been the one to suggest that they hang out at his place alone instead of being around everyone, and when she showed up in those jeans with the hole at the knee and just a little tank top and one of his sweaters, he definitely stood by his choice. He answered the door in just his jeans - no shirt - and she was pretty secure in his choice, too.

"You have pretty eyes," she said as they lay in his bed, tucked beneath the covers together as they attempted to watch a movie. She'd discarded his sweater, then complained of the cold, and he laughed and pulled back the sheets for them both to cuddle in.

She was still sometimes surprised by how different his eyes were than the rest of him. They were soft and emotional and soulful, and she knew that if she ever said that to him, he'd scoff and say something inappropriate. She kind of loved that about him, too.

"Recycling lines?" he asked. "Lame."

"They're really blue, but they can be grey depending on what you're wearing," she explained, ignoring his comment.

He turned on his side and propped himself up on his elbow as he smirked at her.

"And what colour are they now?" he asked.

She knew it was an innuendo, since he was shirtless, and they were both well aware of that fact.

"Almost black, actually," she laughed.


"It's true!" she said. "It's a fact. When you're physically reacting to something you want, your eyes darken. Or something like that. You really should pay more attention in bio."

"That's stupid," he scoffed, dismissing her explanation and rolling onto his back.

"What colour are my eyes right now?" she asked, slinging her leg over his so she was pressed against him.

He let out a dramatic sigh that they both knew he was faking, and turned his head to look at her face.

"They're like emeralds," he told her after a moment, almost in awe of that fact. "Fuck, you're hot."

He pulled her on top of him in one swift motion, making her giggle and brush her hair back from her face.

"Seriously. We're sexy, Peyton. We are hot together," he said, reaching up to touch her, but she swatted his hands away, making him pout boyishly.

"Is that all you care about?" she asked teasingly, that little bit of her southern accent creeping into her speech.

The denial he spoke next didn't support the fact that her body was making his react in certain ways, or that he pulled her by the wrist so he could kiss her. He flipped her onto her back and gazed at her for a moment, until she grew uncomfortable beneath his staring and she self-consciously asked what was wrong.

"I think...I might be falling for you," he admitted, as though he had just realized it and it was a shock to him that he was even capable of feeling it.

She smiled and ran her fingers through the hair at his temple, and she just shook her head before she kissed him, and she mumbled the same words back to him against his lips.

| Baby you showed me what living is for
I don't want to hide anymore |

Their first real fight as a couple was a big one. It wasn't over what CD to listen to in the car, or why she didn't want to hang out at his place instead of hers. It wasn't trivial or silly, and she would have brushed off the rumors, but she just couldn't.

His season was over, and she knew for a fact that he was missing all the attention the game brought to him. Maybe that was why, when people started whispering about him and one of the senior girls hooking up at a party Peyton hadn't gone to, she was quick to believe that just maybe there was some truth to the rumors after all.

And instead of talking to him like she knew she should have, she decided on the silent treatment, which just served to piss him off even more than the fact that people were talking trash about him. She avoided him all day at school, and when he'd tried to talk to her, she pulled her hand away and told him not to bother, before she walked off and left him standing still on the middle of the quad alone.

"Peyton," he said, stepping into her bedroom to see her sitting at her desk in her pajamas and a tank top.

He got no response, so he just sighed and ran his hand through his hair in frustration.

"Come on. You know it's not true," he said seriously.

"Do I?" she asked, looking up from her sketch to meet his eyes. She hated the hurt she saw there.

"If you don't believe me, then what are we even doing!?" he asked angrily. "You say you trust me, but then as soon as some idiot talks shit about me, you're questioning everything again. I thought we were over this."

"It wasn't some idiot, Nathan! It was your best friend," she pointed out as she stood from her chair.

"And Tim's an idiot!" he cried. They both knew it was true, and he had to wonder why she was listening to Tim instead of him anyway.

"But why would he say that if it wasn't true?" she asked, doing her best not to let him see how hurt she was by the allegations that he'd been with another girl

Brooke had already stopped by, and not to offer support, but an 'I told you so'. She wanted her best friend to understand and to be there for her, but instead she got a smug talking to and words she didn't want to hear at all. She hadn't given up on Nathan yet, and she was mad that no one else understood that. She was mad at herself for not being secure enough in her relationship - in herself - to just know that he hadn't stepped out on her.

"Because he's a moron," he stated, as though it were the simplest answer in the world.


"He's...jealous or something," he said with a shrug of his shoulders, defeated that she wasn't easily won over. He didn't expect her to be, but when he knew the truth and he was telling her the truth, it was hard not to be frustrated that she didn't believe him.

"I just...Everyone talks about you...about us...and I don't want..."

"What?" he asked, taking a step towards her when he noticed that she was about to cry. God, those tears were going to kill him.

"I don't want to be just another girl you had sex with in high school," she admitted quietly, looking up at him.

She knew it was a heavy statement. She was telling him, without really telling him, that she wanted their relationship to last a long time. Maybe forever. She was 16 and she already felt like she'd found the one, and she was sure every girl felt that, but something told her that this relationship was more. She didn't know why, and she didn't know why she was doubting him if that was the case, but she suspected that it was the intensity of all the good emotions that was bringing on the bad ones.

"I...wow. That's..."

Her shoulders dropped a little bit and she let out a short breath before she looked away.

"If that's not what you want, too, then you can just go," she said, turning away from him.

He grabbed her elbow and held it gently to pull her back to him. He wasn't going to let her get all bitchy and defensive and brush off her statement.

"That's not...I didn't..." he stuttered.

"Then what, Nathan? What?" she asked desperately. A tear fell from her eye and it made him sad and angry at the same time. Sad because she was sad, and angry because he was to blame for making her that way.

"I'm...I...Fuck, Peyton, I love you!"

| You lift my feet off the ground, you spin me around
You make me crazier, crazier |

She just looked into those eyes of his and knew for a fact that he was telling the truth. It wasn't the perfect I love you. It wasn't what the other girls dreamed of. There was cursing, and it was almost yelled, and it was during a fight, and she was already crying. But it was theirs. It was perfect for them and it suited their relationship, and it was theirs.

He laughed a little when she threw her arms around him almost desperately and lifted her feet off the ground like he knew she loved to do.

He kind of liked to hold her up, too.

He was sure that meant a lot more than just the simple act, but with his girlfriend in his arms and kissing along his jaw line, he really didn't want to waste time dissecting metaphors.

"If you were wearing a bra, I wouldn't have given in so quickly," he muttered into her ear, making her laugh. It was kind of true, though. Her little white tank top with nothing underneath had been a distraction since he'd walked into the room.

"You so love me," she teased, pulling away from him when he set her down.

"You so love me, too," he insisted with a smirk, placing his hands on her hips. He was confident that it was the truth, even though she hadn't said the words.

She narrowed her eyes and looked up at him, and she would have tried to argue with him if he wasn't looking at her like that, and his fingers weren't digging into her hips just enough to be sexy.

And if she had any case to argue at all.

"Yeah," she sighed, making him smile a little wider just before he kissed her.

| Feels like I'm falling and I
I'm lost in your eyes
You make me crazier, crazier, crazier |

The summer after their first year at Duke, she watched from the kitchen as he played ball in the driveway of his childhood home, where they were living until school started again. It was pouring rain, and she wondered if he remembered that day years ago when she came to his house for, really, the first time.

She walked outside barefoot, in her jeans and black tee shirt, and put her hands on her hips, speaking before he saw her.

"It's crazy out here!" she shouted, making him turn to her and smirk before he dropped the ball and walked over to her.

"Yeah?" he asked, looking into her eyes. He noticed they were like emeralds again, just like they always were when she was lusting after him. "You want to warm me up?"

"You do remember," she said with a smile.

"Of course I do," he scoffed, hooking his arms around her waist. "You looked so hot all wet."

"God, obviously, you'd say that," she said, rolling her eyes.

He lifted her up, just like he had that first day in his driveway, and when she squealed and placed her left hand on his cheek, he felt the cool metal of the ring he'd given her. She kissed him gently before he put her down, then pulled away from him.

"This is an expensive top," she muttered, walking backwards toward the house, her gaze locked with his.

"So take it off," he suggested with a smirk.

He didn't expect her to do that very thing, and he groaned when she did, and then he followed her just like he'd been doing for years. She giggled when he slammed the door behind him, and when her hands traveled to the button of her jeans, he let out a moan he just couldn't stifle.

"Baby, you still make me crazy," he muttered, taking her in his arms and kissing her as the water dripped off them both.

He made her the kind of girl that kissed in the rain, and let her heart flutter when he smiled at her and called her baby.

She made him the kind of boy who kissed her temple, and held her hand like it was the most natural thing in the world, and never let her believe she was anything less than everything to him.

"You always make me crazy," she said seriously, running the pad of her thumb over his cheekbone as she looked into his eyes.

She should have known he'd follow that with another one of their throwback phrases from those early days when it was just the two of them, sifting through their own emotions and trying to figure each other out at the same time.

"You haven't even seen my A game."