A/N: Remember this story? I know it's been a while. Months, in fact. But I had debated over posting this fourth part, and then when I actually finished it, I felt like I had to. So here it is. It's a little angsty... I hope you like it.
Lucas and Peyton have been married over four years when Brooke Davis comes out of hiding.
Well, at least that's how the media puts it.
She's been keeping a low profile for years, and while a few die hard fans cared, the media didn't. That's just the way it is with popularity - one minute you're the commodity, and the next, you're off the radar and someone else is hogging the attention.
Peyton's in line at the grocery store with Anna swinging her feet as she sits in the cart, and Lucas is running to grab something he insists they've forgotten, and that's when Peyton sees the photo of her former best friend on the front of Us Weekly. Brooke's in a black trench coat and a pair of dark sunglasses, and the headline reads 'Why The Sad Face, B. Davis?'
And Peyton can't find it in her to care.
Lucas comes up behind her and places his hand on the small of her back as he passes Anna the heart shaped cookie with pink and red frosting Peyton had told her she couldn't have. Even though she's standing right there, Lucas still holds his index finger up to his lips and then points to Peyton discreetly as he looks at Anna with wide eyes. The little girl just giggles and looks at Peyton with a devious smirk as she bites into the cookie. Lucas laughs at her, and Peyton shakes her head. Lucas lifts their daughter out of the cart and sets her on his hip.
"We'll be in the car, OK?" he says, looking at Anna with a furrowed brow as crumbs from her treat drop onto his black shirt.
"Sure. Then we'll go home and you can chase her around the yard to work off the sugar," Peyton says with a raised eyebrow and he rolls his eyes and nods his head. He winks at her before he turns away, and her heart races.
She smiles again after he's disappeared through the doors.
He didn't even notice his ex-girlfriend's face splashed on the cover of a magazine.
She breathes a sigh of relief; she has nothing to worry about and she knows that, but sometimes a reminder is nice.
It's hard to believe they're still just in their 20's sometimes. Lucas is the best-selling author of three novels, and his company has given him the option of taking his time with the fourth one. But they all know there will be a fourth one. He's the head coach of the reigning North Carolina High School State Champion basketball team.
He's an incredible husband and father.
But that's no surprise.
Deb and Karen decided to expand their business and open another club the next town over, and the two older women decided to take Peyton on as a partner. They essentially gave her control over everything to do with the new venue. She decided on location and decor and dealt with staffing from the start, but she hired a manager for the new club when the hours started wearing her too thin. She still books bands and puts out any fires, but she's really just the boss.
She's 25 years old and she's somebody's boss. Quite a few peoples' boss, actually.
She's an incredible wife and mother.
But that's no surprise.
She walks out into the parking lot with their cart full of food, and she sees Anna sitting on the trunk of the car, and Lucas with his arms on either side of her.
"Mommy!" she shouts. "Daddy ate half my cookie!"
"He'll do that," Peyton says with a chuckle. "And since you weren't supposed to have a cookie at all, I guess you should consider yourself pretty lucky."
"But I wanted a whole one," the little girl pouts.
"You mean you don't like sharing with Daddy?" Lucas says, sticking out his bottom lip teasingly.
"Sometimes," Anna says, trying not to smile. Lucas tickles her sides and picks her up as she giggles. He buckles her into her seat and then returns to help Peyton load the groceries into the trunk.
"You're such a sucker," she says, and he just smirks at her. "Seriously, Lucas, you're allowed to say no to her sometimes."
"Ahh, where's the fun in that?" he asks, laughing when she rolls her eyes. "And she's not the only one who always gets her way with me."
Peyton puts her hand on her hip and raises an eyebrow, and he challenges her right back. She sighs and turns away dramatically, because she knows he's right, and then she's giggling with Anna in the car until he takes his place next to her and they head home.
She holds his hand as he drives, just like she always does, and they wave to their neighbours as they pull into the driveway.
Their life is extraordinarily simple, and they wouldn't have it any other way.
As they all sit on the sofa that evening, Anna falls asleep with her head in her mother's lap, and when Peyton looks over to Lucas and sweetly asks how he feels about bringing her some ice cream, he just reminds her that he's never said no to her before.
He carries Anna to her bedroom and tucks her in. When he returns to the living room with his wife's snack, he leans down to speak into her ear and tells her that she can have her way with him any time she wants. He smirks when her cheeks turn pink. He always did love to make her blush.
"Did you see it?" Haley asks before any other greeting when she walks into the house and heads for the sofa where Peyton sits.
Peyton doesn't need to ask what her sister-in-law is talking about.
Haley's got she and Nathan's 6-month-old daughter, Leigha, in a baby bjorn, and her very stylish baby bag in her hand.
After a horribly unfortunate accident left Nathan unable to be drafted into the NBA, he and Haley moved back to Tree Hill, into a large home in a new subdivision. With Peyton's tough love, Lucas' gentle (or sometimes not-so-gentle) encouragement, and Haley's amazing strength, he's almost back to where he was before he was thrown through a glass window. Haley's teaching at Tree Hill High - well, when she's not on maternity leave.
"At the supermarket, yeah," Peyton says distractedly as she pulls her niece - and God daughter - into her arms. The little girl is has jet black hair and the deepest brown eyes Peyton's ever seen.
"What's up with that? She just disappears after that whole...thing, and then now..." Haley says, shaking her head.
"I don't know," Peyton sighs. "I just...Is it wrong that I don't care?"
"Not really," Haley says honestly. "I mean, it's not exactly like she kept in touch all these years. She hasn't been there for Jamie. She doesn't even know about Anna or this one." She points to Leigha as the little girl grabs onto Peyton's necklace. "Why should we be interested in her life just because it's on the front of a magazine, when she hasn't been interested in ours at all?"
"That's exactly what I was thinking," Peyton says with a smile, happy to have Haley on her side.
"Where is Anna anyway?" Haley asks, suddenly noticing how quiet the house is.
"Lucas took her to practice with him and Skills," Peyton explains, and both women laugh. Not only is Anna a daddy's girl, but she seems quite fond of the game her father grew up on. She's certainly a Scott.
Peyton and Haley spend the rest of their morning chatting about the affairs of the little town they love, and their husbands, and their children. They talk about music, and...everything they can. They've really become like sisters over the years, and neither would change that for a thing. The thing they both realize is that neither would trade the other for the brunette they both used to consider their best friend.
It's all really easy to believe that the emergence of Brooke Davis from wherever it is that she was doesn't change anything.
But it does.
A couple weeks after that original photo is printed, Brooke Davis is photographed with a child's hand tucked firmly into hers.
And that child has sandy blonde hair and blue eyes.
Peyton refuses to buy the magazine that has her heart stopping in her chest, but can't stop herself from doing a Google image search that brings up more photos of that little boy. They're all grainy and a little bit out of focus, but she can still do the math and the boy looks to be about the same age as her daughter, give or take a few months.
Peyton starts feeling like maybe their life is neither perfect nor simple anymore, and she's crying when Lucas rushes through the door and he just shakes his head when he sees her.
"Where's Anna?" she asks, wiping her eyes quickly and standing from her place at Lucas' desk.
"With Nathan and Jamie," Lucas says, placing his hands on her arms to stop her from leaving the room like he knows she's about to do. "Peyton, I'm...I don't know..."
"Me neither," she whispers.
She looks at him again, and there's uncertainty in his eyes that terrifies her. He's always the rock. He's always the strong one. That he's showing any weakness at all tells her he's just as scared as she is.
"What are we gonna do?" she asks.
"I don't know," he repeats. "I mean...I haven't heard from her since...I really don't know what to do, Peyton."
"OK. Well, did you...Were you...protected?" she asks, though it kills her to do it.
"With these genes? Of course," he says, and they both laugh despite the tears that are in their eyes.
"OK. Well...maybe...Maybe she was trying to numb the pain, you know? Maybe she just...had random sex with a bunch of guys who looked like you," Peyton says, pulling away from him to pace the floor of their bedroom. "Maybe...maybe she was already pregnant before you two even slept together. I mean...it's possible, right?"
"Peyton, honey," he says, pulling her against his chest, "I...we need to try to stay calm."
"Calm? Lucas, you might have another...another child," she says as more tears fall down her cheeks.
"We don't know that," he insists, shaking his head.
She closes her eyes and tries to pretend that it's not all happening and that it's still just the three of them, and there's not the possibility that her husband has a son he didn't know about from a one-night stand that he readily admits never should have happened.
But she knows Lucas, and if that child is his, their lives are about to change in a huge way. He won't abandon his son - not like his father abandoned him - and Peyton wouldn't expect him to. She wouldn't want him to, and she'd never ask him to. He's just not that man. That's one of the reasons she loves him so much.
"I'm...Maybe I'll go stay with Anna at Nathan and Haley's," she says, wiping her tears. She hides the way her heart breaks at the look he gives her. "You need...you need some time to sit with this."
"What is need is you," he says sincerely. But there's a hint of anger, or maybe disappointment, in his tone that she really wants to hate.
"I know," she says with a nod. "And I'm here for you, Lucas. You know I am. But...we both just need to..."
"OK," he says before she can finish.
He doesn't want her to leave. In fact, that's pretty much the las thing he wants. But he knows her, and while she's trying to act like all this uncertainty isn't killing her, he knows that it is. And he hates himself again for ever calling Brooke that night in New York.
"OK?" she asks skeptically.
"Whatever you need, Peyton," he says, shrugging his shoulders.
"I should be saying that to you," she laughs.
He wipes her tears and she wraps her arms around him, and they spend a few minutes like that, just embracing each other in the silence of their empty home.
She pulls away and pretends she doesn't see the broken look on his face as he sits on the bed and watches her drop a few things into a bag. She doesn't want to leave and he doesn't want her to go, but they each think that is what the other needs.
They're always trying to do right by each other, but those good intentions have never had them sleeping in separate beds before.
Peyton gets to Nathan and Haley's, and she insists to the both of them that she doesn't want to talk about it. She and Haley tuck Anna and Jamie into the single bed they're sharing for the night, and Haley acts like she doesn't see the tears in Peyton's eyes as she looks at the little boy that suddenly looks a lot like an older version of someone else.
Haley stands across from Nathan and Peyton as they sit at the counter in the kitchen. Both kids are asleep, and there's nothing but the silence around them, and Nathan just can't take it any more.
"Sooo," Nathan says in an attempt to break the tension.
"Nathan, I love you. But I swear to God, I'll knock your ass off this stool right now if you ask me how I am," Peyton says seriously.
"You need alcohol," he states firmly. "Tequila. Or...how do you feel about scotch?"
"Scotch is Luke's drink," she points out, for no reason other than it was the first thing that comes to mind.
"Tequila it is!" Haley says, and they all laugh.
Nathan and Peyton do one shot, but he won't drink any more than that, and Peyton won't drink alone, and Haley can't drink at all. They laugh at themselves and what their lives have become, but the look they share, and the quiet moment it exists within, tells them that they wouldn't change any of it.
They talk about Jamie's impressive basketball game from the day before, and Haley shows off a drawing Anna did that afternoon, and Nathan has to bite his tongue when Peyton starts to tear up at the piece of paper with three blonde stick figures on it. It's their family.
Just the three of them.
"Peyton," Haley says sympathetically, placing her hand over Peyton's.
"No," Peyton says, shaking her head as she hops off her stool. "If you start, then...I just can't."
"Why don't you get some sleep?" Nathan suggests.
"Yeah," she sighs. "I'm just...I'm gonna grab Anna. I need her right now."
"OK," Haley says with a nod. "Whatever you need, we're here."
"Thank you." Peyton offers as big a smile as she can manage, which isn't saying much, and heads up the stairs.
She picks Anna up from the bed and ensures Jamie's still covered up before leaving the room. She walks into the spare bedroom and lays down in her sweats with her daughter in her arms.
"Mommy?" Anna coos sleepily.
"Yeah, sweetie. Go back to sleep," Peyton says, kissing the girl's forehead.
Peyton's throat gets tight again upon hearing that word, and all she can think is that there might be another child out there calling her husband by the same name.
"Daddy's at our house," Peyton explains.
"How come he's not here with us?" Anna asks, twirling one of Peyton's curls, just like she always does when she's in her mother's arms.
"Mommy just wanted you all to herself," Peyton says, pulling her daughter a little closer.
Anna falls asleep a few moments later, but Peyton can't. In fact, it's long after she's heard Nathan and Haley close their bedroom door that she realizes that she can't sleep without her husband. She doesn't want to, and she shouldn't be trying, and she certainly shouldn't be trying right now.
She gathers Anna in her arms again and hastily writes a note in red crayon on construction paper and leaves it on the counter for Nathan and Haley, just to let them know not to worry when they wake up to find her gone.
Peyton's never been more thankful that her little girl sleeps as soundly as her father than she is that evening when she's trying to buckle Anna into her car seat. Anna doesn't stir the whole way home, and she still doesn't wake up as Peyton walks her down the hall of their home to her bedroom and lays her in bed. Peyton kisses her daughter's forehead one last time before stepping back into the hall.
She's a little surprised that Lucas hasn't come out to greet her yet. She knows if he's asleep, there's no waking him, but she really didn't think he would be.
She walks into the bedroom and sees him laying there, fast asleep, though the worried look she last saw on his face is still there. She pulls back the covers and crawls in next to him, and he instinctively pulls her closer to him.
This is what she's needed all night, and she was crazy to think otherwise.
"I love you," he whispers, and she moves closer to him still.
"I love you, too," she says. "I'm sorry I left."
"I understand," he insists. "Did Haley get through to you?"
"No," she says, shaking her head.
"Then what did?"
"Trying to sleep without you when I knew I didn't have to."
A tear falls from her eye, but it's a different kind. It's the comfort that she feels every time she's with Lucas, and just the way he holds her like he wants to save her.
He always does.
"Well," she says the next morning after dropping Anna off with Grandma Karen for the day, "we had a good few years with no drama."
"I guess we can be thankful for that," he says, taking her hand in his.
They drive to the café, and head straight for the roof. It's where they sometimes steal moments when they don't want to be found. It's where they watch the stars and drink hot cocoa before going home to an empty house when Anna spends the night with her aunt and uncle or grandmother.
And right now, it's where they'll go to rationally - and hopefully without tears - discuss the very real possibility that Lucas and Brooke have a child together.
"Where's your head?" she asks as she rests her head against his shoulder, sitting atop the picnic table.
"Kind of all over," he says. "It feels crazy to jump to conclusions, you know?"
"Yeah, because you were so great with the prospect of me being pregnant," she says teasingly, and he squints at her until she kisses him.
"I just...As much as Brooke kind of cut ties, I just can't see her not telling me," he points out.
He's right, she knows. And really, of all the people she used to know, Brooke really only kept in touch with Lucas. Well, she kept in touch with him more than anyone else, anyway. And just the thought of that has Peyton's blood boiling, wondering if there's a deeper reason for that.
"I wish I could say that you're right," Peyton says objectively. "But none of us really know her any more."
"I know." He kisses the top of her head, and plays idly with the rings on her finger, as he's known to do when they sit this way. "I guess I just want to believe the best of her."
"What?" Peyton asks, pulling away from him. She doesn't like the way that statement sounded.
"I just mean that she knows what I went through as a kid," he explains quickly. "One, I can't see her turning me into Dan. And two, I can't see her putting that on her child, you know? To not know his father."
She leans over and kisses him as an apology, and he'll forgive her every time.
"I hope you're right," she says softly. "I just...I'm going to be selfish and come right out and say that I want any child of yours to be mine, too."
How in the world she thinks that's selfish is mind-boggling to him. He only wants the same thing, and he really hates that there's a possibility that dream won't come true.
But he won't resent Brooke's child if it is his child, too. He won't do that, and both he and Peyton know it.
"That's not selfish," he insists quietly. "I'm so sorry you have to go through this."
"We," she corrects him, weaving her fingers through his. "Always we."
Apparently, Brooke Davis is not an easy woman to get ahold of.
They try every number, past and present, and they get nowhere. The cell number they have for her is, no surprise, not in service, and when they try Clothes Over Bros' head office, they catch attitude from the girl who answers the phone, saying that 'you can't just call and talk to Miss Davis'.
The only good thing about any of it is that Anna's too young to understand what's going on.
So they hire a lawyer. Well, Andy loans them his lawyer and generously foots the bill.
But after a week of work on his part, he hasn't gotten anywhere either.
Peyton has had enough.
The day Extra is on in the background and there's talk of Lucas Scott and those photos from years ago, and comparisons to the hair and eye colour of Brooke's son, Peyton breaks down.
"I just hate this!" she hisses at Lucas.
Anna's home, and colouring with Karen and Lily in the kitchen, and Peyton won't raise her voice in front of her daughter. She never does, or at least she tries not to. Anna doesn't need to feel anyone else's emotion.
And right now, Peyton can hardly keep hers in check.
"I'm sorry," Lucas says for the thousandth time.
"It's all...worse," Peyton says as the tears start to fall.
Lucas pushes her towards the bedroom and closes the door behind them, and he pulls her against his chest, wrapping his arms around her even tighter when she tries to pull away.
"I look like an idiot, Luke!" she says in exasperation, finally wrenching herself from his hold. "Everyone looks at me differently now. Like...like I'm the one keeping you from your son, or I'm the one who stole you from her."
"That's not true," he insists firmly, his icy eyes locking with her. If she didn't know better, she'd be scared of that look. She knows he's not mad at her. He's just mad.
"I hate this," she whispers again.
"Me too," he says. "I want to make this better for you, Peyton, but I can't. And it's killing me."
"Why did you have to sleep with her?" she asks quietly, shaking her head with her eyes closed.
She's never asked. Not once in all the years since they got together, has she asked why. They hadn't talked about it much at all, in fact, until...everything. It was considered water under the bridge. A spot on their history that meant little in hindsight. But now that she's looking at it from a different perspective, that spot just keeps getting bigger and bigger.
"I'm sorry," he says shamefully.
"I know," she whispers. "I'm just not sure what that really means anymore."
He tries to kiss her before bed that night. Nothing too intimate or too forward, just their every day, standard goodnight kiss. It's the same kiss they've shared almost every night since they got married. She's on her side of the bed, and he's on his side of the bed, and right before he reaches over to turn out the light, they meet in the middle and share that little kiss.
But this night, she lays on her side with her back to him, and he feels his heart wrench in his chest.
He heaves a sigh and inwardly curses himself - and maybe Brooke - for the infinite time. He's an idiot, and he's drowning in self-loathing, and he really doesn't deserve the beautiful woman laying next to him.
Even when she is giving him the cold shoulder.
"Don't do that," she insists.
"Sigh like I'm the one you're mad at," she says knowingly.
Dammit, he wishes she wasn't right all the time. Something in him doesn't want to admit she is.
So he says nothing, and he switches off the light and turns on his side so his back is to her.
They've never gone to bed angry, and though neither of them has really come out and said the words, it's all there, laying in the space between them on the bed that's never really existed before.
"Can we...Can this be over?" he says from his place.
"Why? Can you go back in time and not screw your ex-girlfriend because you were mad at me?" she asks dryly, her back still to him.
"I wasn't mad at you!" he says adamantly, though they both know he was.
And lying about it now isn't going to get him anywhere.
"You were. You resented me because I didn't feed your little ego, so you found someone who would," she says. She feels the rustle of the sheets, then the light turns on again, and he's grabbing her shoulder to lay her on her back so she'll look at him.
"Stop it," he demands harshly. "None of this was about ego. I was in love with you, and you were ignoring the fact that you were in love with me, for a reason I still don't understand."
"I loved you for two years before you even acknowledged it!" she reminds him. "And wow, who came between us in the beginning, too?"
"Don't blame everything on Brooke," he says, shaking his head.
"Don't defend her!" she shouts as she sits up in bed. "Everything I've ever done has been out of love for you, and...with you, there's always something to do with Brooke."
"That's just a little bit of an exaggeration, don't you think?" he asks incredulously.
"No. I don't," she says with tears in her eyes.
"How do you not get that I love you?" he asks in frustration.
She stands from the bed and walks to the door, and he's almost in tears himself, wondering why she won't just lay down with him and let them heal each other.
"Because there's a kid out there who might be the product of a night where you were running so fast in the opposite direction of our love, that you just...you forgot all about me," she says brokenly.
As soon as she's in the hallway, she feels like the wind has been knocked out of her. She just said things she didn't really mean, and things she didn't really believe, and she walked away from her husband when he needed her most. She's being selfish an horrible, but she thinks that just maybe she has the right to be. She's put on a brave face up to this point, and she can't do it any more.
She walks down the hall to check on Anna, who's asleep in her bed with her angelfish night-light glowing, and as she looks at her daughter - their daughter - she realizes that he doesn't deserve it.
He doesn't deserve her animosity or her anger, as justifiable as it is. A marriage isn't about placing blame and shifting around the hurt; it's about compromise and a constant shoulder to lean on and a unified front against anything that comes at you.
So she rushes back into the bedroom and starts crying a little harder when she sees him wiping a tear from his eye. She lays on top of him and they hold each other that way for what feels like forever.
This time, it's her saying it.
This time, he knows exactly what it means.
This time, when he leans in to kiss her, she kisses him back, and she curls herself into his side like she's done almost every night since they've been married.
And he realizes that no matter what they do, they always do seem to meet in the middle.
It's a Wednesday morning when Brooke Davis comes back to Tree Hill. Nathan is the first to see her, and tells everyone immediately. She appears to be alone and staying at the nicest of the hotels in town, or so he assumed as he drove past and saw her stepping out of a cab.
"I'm not going," Peyton says, crossing her arms over her chest.
The four of them are standing in the kitchen at Nathan and Haley's house, and Lucas just got off the phone with their lawyer, letting him know what's going on. It was suggested that Lucas and Peyton seek Brooke out and get things underway and have a long discussion to see where things stand, or if she has an explanation for anything.
"Peyton," Haley says, shaking her head.
"No!" she insists. "I'm not. I have nothing to say to her." She turns to Lucas and places her hand on his arm, and she sees understanding in his eyes before she's even explained herself. "You know that I am here for you, no matter what. I just can't...I can't see her."
"OK," he says softly. "But you stay here with Anna."
"Where else would I be?" she asks with a smile.
"Uh...your house, pacing the hall and getting yourself all scary about everything?" Nathan suggests, and Peyton hits his arm while Lucas and Haley laugh.
They laugh because he's right.
"I'll be here," she says after turning back to her husband. "But don't...don't tell her about Anna."
"Or Leigha," Haley adds. Both Scott men have confused looks on their faces.
"Why?" Lucas asks.
"Because she doesn't deserve to know," Haley says rationally. "She didn't ask, so it's not her information to know."
"OK," Lucas says softly.
Neither Nathan or Haley says anything as Lucas and Peyton walk to the door, they just share a look and Nathan wraps his arm around his wife's shoulder. As much as they love that the drama isn't about them, they don't want Lucas and Peyton to have to deal with it either.
"I wish I could promise you that it'd be OK," Peyton says once they're outside. Her hands are tucked firmly in his, and that action still brings all the comfort it always has.
"You don't have to. And I should be saying that to you," he says, smiling at her as she shakes her head at the familiarity of those words.
"We're going to be OK, no matter what," she insists. "You and me and Anna. That's not changing."
"Nothing could change that," he agrees, kissing her gently as he lets go of her hands to reach for his keys. "I'll come pick you guys up in a bit. I love you."
"Love you, too," she says, winking as he gets into their car and turns the key.
And he really wants to believe that everything's going to be OK. But there's a knot in his stomach that's just about making him sick, constantly reminding him that maybe it won't be.
Apparently, once she's in Tree Hill, Brooke Davis isn't as important as she is anywhere else in the world. Or so it would seem. Lucas asks at the front desk which room she's in, and he has no trouble getting that information.
He takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly before he knocks on her door, and she actually looks surprised to see him when she answers.
He's instantly angry.
Why the hell would she think that he wouldn't come to her? No, on second thought, why the hell wouldn't she seek him out? Sure, she came to Tree Hill, but she shouldn't be wasting any time either.
"Lucas," she breathes out.
"We need to talk," he says. His tone is steady, though he feels anything but.
"Yeah. Come in," she says, pulling the door open a little wider.
He paces the floor until he hears the door click shut, then turns to her again. "Is he mine?"
He figures he's not going to beat around the bush or exchange pleasantries. They both know she's in Tree Hill for a reason, and he's in her hotel room for a reason, and so he's going to get straight to the point.
"I...don't know," Brooke says softly.
"You don't know," Lucas repeats, almost in disbelief. "We're doing a paternity test."
"Don't," he says, his voice low and probably a little scary, he realizes. "I...You should have called me."
"It's not like we parted on good terms!" she reminds him.
"So!" he shouts. "So you want to punish your son because you were angry with me? Good parenting."
"That's a little unfair," she says, putting a hand on her hip.
"No, not really," he tells her. "Unfair is that four years later, I get blind-sided by the fact that you have a son who looks shockingly similar to me."
He's gesturing with his left hand, and when he runs it through his hair in frustration, he notices her eyes fall on his wedding band.
And he now understands exactly why Peyton and Haley didn't want to share information. He doesn't even want to tell Brooke that he and Peyton are married. He doesn't want her to know anything other than what she already knows.
"You're..." she starts.
"Did you bring him?" he asks before she can finish what he knows she was about to say.
"Do you see a child here, Lucas?" she asks, suddenly angry that he's being so short with her.
"We're doing the test," he repeats, making his way to the door. "My lawyer will call you."
"Lucas," she calls out, stopping him from leaving. "I have...I brought what we need. Make the appointment, and we'll get this settled."
"Settled," he says, letting out a bitter laugh as he reaches for the door knob. "You know, I really don't understand how you can make light of this, Brooke."
"I'm not making light of anything! I'm protecting my son," she tells him.
"Protecting him," Lucas states incredulously. "Whatever you need to tell yourself."
He's out the door and walking down the hall, and he's in the elevator before he lets himself stop and really take a breath. He puts his hands on his knees and closes his eyes, taking solace in the fact that they'll soon know either way.
And he wonders if it makes him a horrible person to hope the child isn't his.
Peyton fully expects Brooke to keep a low profile. They know she'll be in town for a week at least, since the test is in two days, and the results will take a few days to process. But Peyton doesn't want to see her ex supposed best friend, and she's perfectly OK if their paths never cross.
"Mommy?" Anna asks one morning.
She's hopped up into Lucas and Peyton's bed like she likes to do sometimes when she's up before them. Lucas has a morning practice, but Peyton's taking the day off, so the girls lay in bed beneath the covers as Lucas gets ready to go.
"Yeah, baby?" Peyton says, catching the wink Lucas gives her when he pulls on her favourite shirt of his.
"How come I can't go with daddy today?"
"Because you and I are going to stay here and make cookies," Peyton says enthusiastically.
"Chocolate chip?" Anna asks, her eyes wide.
"If that's the kind you want to make," Peyton says.
"Yeah," Anna says, smiling that bright smile that brings out her dimples.
Peyton falls in love with her daughter a little bit more every time she sees that smile.
"Jealous, daddy?" Peyton asks teasingly.
"That my girls get to stay home today and I have to leave you and go to work? Definitely," Lucas says as he reaches for his keys.
"Can uncle Nathan come over?" Anna asks.
"What?" Lucas asks in mock awe. "You want uncle Nathan instead of me?"
"No," she giggles. "But he always sneaks cookies when mommy isn't looking, so me and Jamie get to eat more."
"You sneaky little girl," Lucas teases, tickling her sides as he leans over and kisses her forehead. He presses his lips to Peyton's, and she fixes the collar of his shirt for him. "I'll see you later."
"Love you, daddy," Anna says. Peyton and Lucas share a look of absolute adoration for their little girl, and Peyton pulls Anna closer and drops a kiss to her hair.
"Love you, too, honey." Peyton raises her eyebrow expectantly and he just chuckles. "You too, wifey."
Peyton lays back against the pillows and closes her eyes, but Anna's having none of it. She stands up on the bed and puts her hands on her hips, looking down at her mother.
"Mommy! Call Nathan!"
"OK, OK!" Peyton laughs, standing from the bed and picking Anna up to set her on the floor.
They're halfway through their second batch of cookies, with Jamie and Anna giggling wildly each time Nathan swipes a cookie for either of them. He makes a big show of it and isn't discrete at all, and Peyton knows exactly what's going on, but she can't tell him to stop because the sound of those two little kids' laughter melts her heart.
There's a knock at the front door mid-morning, and Peyton wipes her hands on her apron as she walks to the door. Nathan, always the protector, stands in the hallway just outside the kitchen until he can see who's at the door.
Neither he nor Peyton expect to see Brooke.
Peyton's speechless as soon as she opens the door, and Nathan looks to the kitchen to make sure the kids are still occupied and not going anywhere near the door. Brooke looks from Peyton to Nathan, and for a split second, she wonders what they're doing in Lucas' house, though in her heart she knows the answer.
"Hi," Brooke says timidly.
"Hi," Peyton echoes.
"I was looking for Lucas, but..."
"Hang on," Peyton demands, stepping into the house and shutting the door.
Nathan peeks into the kitchen once more before joining Peyton by the doorway, and he doesn't like the frantic look on her face one bit.
"Hey," he says, placing his hand on her shoulder, "go on. Just talk to her, Peyton. I'll watch the kids."
She closes her eyes and takes a deep breath, then takes off her apron and hands it to him.
"Don't let Anna near the door," she warns needlessly, and Nathan nods his head and smiles reassuringly.
As soon as Peyton steps outside, Brooke spins around from where she was standing and looking out onto the street.
"Can I help you?" Peyton asks, showing no emotion as she crosses her arms on her chest.
"I was just...I didn't know you and Lucas..." Brooke starts, though she had known from the moment she saw Lucas' wedding band a couple days earlier that he must have married Peyton.
"Got married? Yeah," Peyton says. She sees Brooke look to the rings on her left hand, but she doesn't hold her hand up or make it obvious in the least. "What did you need to talk to Luke about?"
"Peyton, come on," Brooke says pleadingly. "Can we...have a normal conversation?"
"You're about 5 years too late for a normal conversation, Brooke, considering this is the first time you and I have spoken since you moved to New York," Peyton says coolly.
"OK, and I suck for that, but we should make an effort," Brooke insists, and Peyton just shakes her head.
"I don't think that's necessary until we know one way or another," Peyton says. She wants to make it perfectly clear that they really aren't friends any more, and she thinks that just maybe Brooke's getting the message.
"Look, you can hate me if you want to, but if Braeden turns out to be Lucas' son, don't keep them apart," Brooke says sincerely.
And that sincerity only serves to make Peyton more angry.
"Well, the big word in there is 'if', isn't it?" Peyton reminds Brooke. "And even though we haven't spoken in years, you know better than to think I'd keep Lucas from his child." Her tone is calm, but her nerves are anything but. "Actually I really think it's kind of hypocritical of you to come here and say that to me, when you're the one who's waited four and a half years to even mention the fact that your son might be Lucas'. And you know what? I get the feeling you wouldn't have said anything unless those photos came out. So forgive me if I'm not exactly welcoming you into my home."
After Peyton's rant, it's very clear that Brooke really doesn't know what to say. The women just stare at each other for a moment, and they both know damn well that Peyton won't back down.
"Will you just...tell him I stopped by?" Brooke requests quietly. She knows that everything Peyton has just said is true; she can't deny any of it.
"OK," Peyton says simply.
Brooke catches sight of a kite and a small purple bike at the other end of the porch, and Peyton follows her gaze until their eyes meet again.
"You have...? You and Lucas?" Brooke stutters.
"She's three," Peyton says softly, and Brooke flashes a weak smile.
"OK. I'll...I'm going to go," Brooke says. Peyton doesn't say a word while Brooke turns around and walks back to her car.
And nowhere in that whole conversation, did Peyton hear an apology.
"Hey, listen to this," Lucas says as they lay in bed one night. "You know how easily and suddenly these things happen, beginning in playful teasing and ending in something a little warmer than friendship. You squeeze the slender arm which is passed through yours, you venture to take the little gloved hand, you say good night at absurd length in the shadow of the door. It is innocent and very interesting, love trying his wings in a first little flutter."
Peyton takes a shuddering breath as she looks over at him and kinks her brow. She knows that he knows how much she loves it when he reads passages from whatever book he's reading. He knows that if there's one thing he can do that'll make her lean over in bed, pluck the book from his hands, and make him touch her instead, it's reading out loud.
"Who is that?" she asks.
"Arthur Conan Doyle," he says, turning back to his book. "I think that kind of describes us."
"Yeah, it kind of does," she says before going back to her own book.
And something about that isn't quite right, he realizes.
The paternity test had been administered that morning, and the two of them had a brief talk about it, though they both knew that it was just another step in the process, so there was no sense making a big fuss over anything. Peyton was still weary, and Lucas requested that he and Brooke not be at the doctor's office at the same time, which wasn't a problem.
"You OK?" he asks.
"Uh huh," she says absently.
"But...but you're not...kissing me," he says, making her laugh as she sets her book on her lap.
"Honey, I know you think that's a foolproof technique..."
"It is," he laughs. "You've never, not once, turned it down." She laughs and shakes her head at him. "And I even related this one to us! What's going on?"
"I love that your signature move is to read from a book, and I'm putty in your hands," she says with a smile, and he beams. "I'm just...not in the mood."
"But we haven't been together in a few days," he says, almost pouting, she notices. "I know with everything that's going on..."
"Lucas," she says softly, "it's fine. I'm just..."
"You're pulling away," he states. It's not an accusation, it's just acknowledgment of the truth they both know.
"I'm sorry." She takes his hand in hers, and he offers a smile. She knows he feels horrible about everything already, and she certainly doesn't want to add to that.
"I understand. I just love you," he says with a shrug, leaning over to kiss her gently.
"I love you, too," she promises. "You know, before all this...stuff...I was thinking about our life."
"And how Anna's three, and how we always said that when she was three..."
"We'd have another one," Lucas finishes, and Peyton smiles at him. "Well, I don't know if you need a sex-ed refresher, but you can't get pregnant it we don't have sex."
"OK, smart ass," she says, swatting his arm and making him laugh.
"What's wrong, Peyton?" he asks delicately, weaving his fingers through hers.
"Just with everything going on, I want to wait," she says softly. "This is like, the hardest thing we've ever gone through, Lucas, and I...we need to get through this before we make any decisions."
"What are you saying?" he asks, trying his hardest to mask his anger. "Are you saying you don't think we'll get through this?"
"No!" she answers quickly. "No. I'm not saying that. I'm just saying...Nothing is guaranteed, and if Braeden is your son, then there's going to be a lot of uncertainty. I mean, would you go to New York to visit him? Would Brooke move here? Or bring him here to see you? You'd have to build a relationship with him, and...I can't...I won't have another baby if all that's going on."
"So you're not going to have sex with me until we get the results?" he asks in surprise.
"OK, Mr. One Track Mind," she giggles. "I just laid all that out, and..."
"No, I know," he says sincerely. "And I understand. Really. It's smart."
"But...I want you," he says, locking eyes with her.
He really always does say the right things.
He smiles at her and his thumb toys with her wedding band, and she's giving in within seconds.
Anna begs to go to the park and play, and neither Peyton nor Lucas will say no. It's their favourite little family activity. In the winter, they'll go to the café for hot cocoa, and in the summer, they'll stop in for sweet tea.
It's a rare day of sunshine in the rainy season, so they walk to the park with Anna between her parents and holding both their hands. They lift her up over puddles and swing her between them. She's got her little gum boots on, and she laughs in delight when she jumps in a puddle and splashes Lucas' pants. He scowls at her playfully, and she squeals when he chases after her and hoists her up in the air.
Anna is sitting on Lucas' shoulders and Peyton has her arm linked through her husband's as they walk through their little town to see Grandma for some hot chocolate.
Peyton tightens her hold on Lucas when she sees a familiar brunette walking straight towards them. Lucas squeezes Peyton's hand reassuringly as Brooke stands in front of them.
"Hi," Brooke says nervously.
"Lucas, give her to me," Peyton says calmly, turning to him.
"Luke." Her tone is pleading, so he pulls Anna down off his shoulders and hands her to Peyton. She smiles at him before she puts their daughter on her hip and starts towards the café, walking right past Brooke in the process.
Brooke can hear the little girl's voice as they walk away.
"Mommy, who's that lady?"
"Just...someone mommy and daddy used to know," Peyton answers. It's the most honest answer she could think of.
"What do you need, Brooke?" Lucas asks once Peyton and Anna are inside the café.
"I think we need to talk, Lucas," she states firmly.
"Do we?" he asks. "Because until I get the phone call, I don't really have anything to say to you."
"OK, I don't know why you have such animosity towards me, but..."
"You're kidding me, right?" he asks, laughing incredulously. She keeps the same stubborn look on her face, and he shakes his head. "Then you need to open your eyes, because it's not like it's a secret, Brooke. I'm going to spend time with my family. We'll talk if and when we need to."
She rolls her eyes and sighs as he walks past her, but she calls his name and he stops, but doesn't turn around.
"Your daughter is beautiful," she says sincerely.
He turns his head slightly, gives her a nod, and keeps on walking. If she thinks that telling him what he already knows will help her cause, she's wrong.
He steps into the café and catches a sympathetic smile from his mother, and Peyton sits Anna down at the table in the corner with Lily so the girls can colour.
"Well?" Peyton asks as he takes the stool next to her at the counter.
"She just said she thinks we should talk," he says with a shrug of his shoulders.
"Must have been a short conversation," Karen says as she pours a few cups of coffee.
"There wasn't one," he tells them. "Is it horrible that I want to wait until we know before I really let her into our lives?"
"No," Peyton insists firmly. "Not at all."
"She said Anna's beautiful," he says, and Karen smiles before walking over to give the girls their cocoa. "And of course she's beautiful. She's your daughter."
"Honey, she's like your clone," Peyton laughs, dropping her hand onto his thigh.
"Well yeah, but I figure I need to sweet talk you as much as possible these days," he teases, and she glares at him teasingly before leaning over and kissing him gently. "Are you ever going to talk to her?"
"Brooke?" she asks and he nods. Who else would he be talking about? "Let me ask you. Has she sought out Haley or Nathan, or even me? No. She's sought you out. That leads me to believe that she doesn't really care about anything but herself."
"Lucas, seriously?" she asks incredulously. "She's been in town for a week and she doesn't even know that Nathan and Haley have a daughter. She hasn't even tried to see Haley. So...no. I'm not going to talk to her."
"OK," she says, indicating that that's the end of the conversation and he shouldn't bring it up again. She turns to her coffee cup and he leans over, placing his hand at the small of her back, and whispers that he loves her into her ear before he kisses her cheek.
"Mommy, come see," Anna says happily, holding up her drawing. Peyton walks over, and Lucas watches as his wife kneels next to their daughter at the table, taking the page in her hands. "You like it?"
"I love it, honey," Peyton says honestly. It's just a page torn out of a colouring book, with a puppy coloured in with shades of brown, and a gold medallion hanging from the collar around his neck.
"Can we get a puppy?" Anna asks in that innocent, childish way.
"Yeah!" Lily says excitedly. Karen laughs and shakes her head. There's no way she's getting a dog.
"We'll see, Anna," Peyton says diplomatically. She's thankful that Anna hasn't yet figured out that 'we'll see' usually means 'no'.
They're walking home later with Anna running ahead a little bit, skipping over cracks in the sidewalks and running around puddles, always peeking to see if her parents are watching or if she can jump into them without them noticing. They're always looking.
"We could get one," Lucas says.
"One what?" Peyton asks, taking a sip of her hot chocolate from the paper cup in her hands.
"A dog. She'd love it."
"She would, or you would?" she inquires knowingly. She sees Anna with her foot raised, ready to step into a puddle. "Anna Haley! Don't you dare!"
"No fun!" Anna cries. Lucas laughs and shakes his head, and Peyton just rolls her eyes. He's such a softie; the girl could get away with anything.
"Lucas, we aren't getting a dog," Peyton says firmly.
"How come?" he says boyishly.
"Because we don't need a dog." She looks at him and he's squinting like he does when he doesn't get his way. "And because as soon as we find out that Braeden's not your son, we're having another baby."
She hands him her cup before he can find the words to say, and she's chasing after a giggling Anna. The girl jumps right into the center of a puddle and Peyton is shouting, but it's all in good fun. She knew they couldn't make it home without Anna getting her clothes wet or muddy. She's a kid; that's what they're supposed to do.
Lucas wants them to have another baby right now. He wishes he were as confident as Peyton is about the results of that test.
Lucas gives in one morning and takes Anna to practice with him. It didn't take much. She rushed into the bedroom before her parents were even awake and sat herself down right on his stomach, telling him as sternly as a three year old could, that he was taking her with him. Peyton could only laugh.
"She's your daughter," Peyton says. Anna's all dressed in her little Ravens polo shirt - Nathan thought it was funny to get the kids shirts like he, Skills and Lucas have - and she's holding her sippy-cup of juice like Lucas holds his travel mug of coffee.
"You kidding me?" Lucas asks. "I'm not the bossy one."
"I am not bossy!" Peyton cries, her eyes wide. She swats his arm with the back of her hand when he laughs, and he leans over to kiss her. "You are on thin ice, mister," she murmurs between kisses.
"I'll make it up to you," he whispers. He kisses her temple before looking over to Anna, who's waiting patiently by the front door for her dad. "We have to go. Right, sweetie?"
"Uh huh," Anna chirps. "Bye mommy."
"Bye, love," Peyton says, kneeling down to kiss her daughter's cheek. "Be good."
"I'm always good. That's what daddy says," Anna insists.
"Well, your daddy doesn't lie," Peyton says quietly. She stands and Lucas just has to kiss her after that.
She'd decided the night before that she didn't have to go to the club that day, so after she watches Lucas and Anna drive away, she heads into the living room to set up her laptop and starts on what work she has to do. Haley calls and the two chat for a while. Apparently Leigha has a cough, and Haley wanted the name of the prescription Peyton got when Anna got bronchitis as a baby. Peyton is reminded once again that she loves her family, and that she has a new best friends. Little moments like that make her feel better about not reconnecting at all with Brooke.
And it's not that she feels guilty. There has just been a little part of her that's wondered if maybe she should have been just a little more inviting. That thought usually leaves as quickly as it enters her mind.
The phone rings again, and it's a number she doesn't recognize. She seriously considers not answering, but she can never seem to ignore those numbers, just in case.
"Good morning. This is Dr. McBride. I'm calling for Lucas Scott."
"He's not in right now. Can I help you?" she asks, trying to hide her nerves. She knows what this call is, and it could change her life.
"I should really speak directly with Mr. Scott," he says regrettably.
"This is his wife," Peyton says. She doesn't want to sound defensive, but she's getting really sick of doubting her relationship. Actually, she's getting really sick of the reminders that she has any reason to doubt it. She doesn't. She knows that. She wants everyone else to know that too.
"Oh," Dr. McBride says, "in that case, I have the results of the paternity test for the child...Braeden Davis."
"Yes?" Peyton breathes out, doing her best not to hyperventilate.
"This is an interesting situation, Mrs. Scott. It appears that the child is no relation to Lucas Scott," he says, and Peyton sighs her relief and feels the tears fill her eyes.
"So...what's interesting?" she asks.
"Well, the child is no relation to Brooke Davis, either," he explains.
"Wha...What? How is that possible?" Peyton asks hurriedly.
"I wondered the same thing," Dr. McBride says. "So I did a little research. The records were sealed almost suspiciously tightly, but it appears that Braeden Davis was adopted by Miss Davis shortly after he was born. This was all done out of the country. In Switzerland, actually."
"What?" Peyton asks, far louder than she intends.
"I'm not sure why she would request a paternity test, but...there you have it," he says. He sounds just as perplexed as Peyton is.
The only difference is that now Peyton is also really, really angry.
"Thank you," she says. "Thank you for telling me."
"You're welcome, Mrs. Scott. Take care," he says politely.
Peyton has no sooner hung up the phone than she's grabbing her purse and keys. She can't believe Brooke would do something like this; turn their lives upside down and wedged herself in the middle of their world, uninvited. She wants to think Brooke has a reason, but Peyton can't, for the life of her, think of what the hell that might be.
She doesn't really remember the drive to Brooke's hotel. She knows she was listening to some angry music, which ironically served to calm her a little bit instead of getting her even more riled up.
She knocks on the door to Brooke's room as calmly as she can, which isn't saying much. She holds her breath while she waits for the door to open, and then Brooke's standing there in front of her with a shocked look on her face.
"Hi," Brooke says quietly. "Come in."
Peyton brushes past her, and as soon as the door has clicked shut, she starts talking. "What did you think was going to happen, Brooke?"
"Adopted!? He's adopted, and you tried to...What were you trying to do?" Peyton asks, turning so she's facing Brooke again.
"It was...those pictures came out, and..."
"And what? Instead of telling people the real story, you thought you'd create some drama? Keep yourself in the press a little longer?"
"That's not it at all," Brooke said defensively.
"Then what? Why would you do that!?" Peyton shouts. She's doing her best not to cry, but it's really hard not to cry. "What explanation could you possibly have?"
There's a look on Brooke's face that Peyton has seen before. A lot, actually. Junior and senior years, specifically. It's a little bit of a pout; a hopeless look in her eye that always meant one thing.
She wanted Lucas. At least on some level.
"I miss you!" Brooke cries. "I miss you guys. I miss...I miss Lucas."
"Don't you dare," Peyton says, speaking at a dangerously low level as she shakes her head. All the pieces are in place now, and she's a mother. She'll do anything to protect her family. The gloves are off. "Don't say his name."
"Come on, Peyton," Brooke says, putting a hand on her hip. "Like you're really in a position to judge."
"Don't push me, Brooke," Peyton warns.
"What? You think none of us remember how everything happened in high school?"
"In high school!" Peyton yells irately, throwing her hands up. "High school, Brooke. Years and years ago! Lucas and I...we have a child now. We're married. That means a little bit more than your school girl crush."
"Lucas and I were in love!" Brooke yells back.
"Were. Were in love," Peyton says, smiling bitterly. "And you know what? You want to talk about missing people? Where the hell have you been, Brooke? For years. And you think you had to come up with some...some ploy to come back to town?"
"Well, you wouldn't have welcomed me back with open arms," Brooke insists. "It's not like you've really ever been great with the people who've come back into your life, Peyton."
There's an accusation in there that has no business people there, as far as Peyton's concerned, and all she wants is for Brooke to go back to New York or Switzerland or wherever the hell she's been, and stay there.
"You know what?" she asks, turning on her heel and heading towards the door. "I'm not doing this."
"And there's Peyton Sawyer," Brooke says with fake cheeriness, gesturing wildly with her arms. "Walking away every time something gets a little difficult."
Peyton turns around with her fist clenched at her side, and she's this close to yelling something horrible. To reminding Brooke that she's the one who walked away and cut ties with her friends. She wants to say that Brooke has made some stupid choices in her life, but this latest plot is definitely the stupidest.
And if she's being honest, she's probably this close to throwing a punch or two.
But instead, she does the one thing that she knows will sting harder than any slap to the face.
"It's Peyton Scott," she says, smiling before she walks out the door.
And Peyton Scott loves having the last word.
She calls Nathan on the way home and asks him if he'll take Anna home with him. He sounds confused, but she doesn't explain anything. She just tells him to have Lucas come straight home. After she assures him that she's alright, he agrees, and she hangs up.
She manages to make it home, and she's doing the dishes, just for something to do, when she finally lets herself cry. She's not entirely sure what she's crying for. She's essentially gotten what she wanted. Her family will stay just the way it is, and Brooke will leave town, and everything will go back to normal. She thinks she might be crying because until now, she didn't really want to believe that her friendship with Brooke was truly over. It's very evident that the two will never speak again.
And she cries for the little boy she's ever even met, for having been used as a pawn for his mother's scheme, one that she knew from the start would fail. Peyton still can't wrap her head around Brooke's logic. Or lack thereof.
"Peyton?" Lucas calls from the bedroom. She shuts off the tap and walks into their room, and he looks a little worried. She remembers she's been crying for the last 20 minutes, and she tries to smile. "What's wrong?"
"He's not your son," she says. Sure, she could have broached the subject a little more gently, but she's had enough of people being misleading. She just wants to tell him the truth already. "Nothing's wrong."
He doesn't know what to do. There's a big part of him that wants to shout and smile and pull her into his arms and just be relieved. But until he knows what she's crying about, he can't let himself be happy about anything.
"That's...amazing," he manages, letting himself sigh and step closer to her. "So why are you...what's got you upset?"
"That's not everything," she says. She sits at the end of the bed and reaches for his hand so he'll sit next to her. "Braeden is adopted."
There's a puzzled look on his face, and he closes his eyes and shakes his head quickly. "I'm sorry. What?"
"He's adopted. She adopted him after he was born," Peyton explains.
"So what...What the hell was all this for, then?" he asks, his anger growing.
"By the sounds of it, she wanted us back in her life. Well...she wanted you back in her life."
"So she decided to start off by lying?" he says with disdain. Then his face changes and he turns towards her a little more. "Wait. You talked to her?"
"I...yeah," she says quietly, looking a little sheepish. "I was mad, and I wanted answers."
"Peyton." He laughs quietly. That's his girl. "What'd you say."
"A lot of stuff. I reminded her that you're my husband."
He kisses her because he feels like he needs to. He is her husband. He doesn't need a reminder of that. He does love those reminders though.
"I'm...I can't believe she'd do that to me," he says, still in shock as he sits there with her hand in his. "No. You know what? I can't believe she'd do that to you."
"Luke, I'm just the bitch who stole her boyfriend," she says with a smirk, though she has to admit that since talking to Brooke, there's a small, tiny little part of her that has been feeling that way.
"You didn't steal anything," he insists sternly. "Peyton...I'm...You and I..."
"I know," she whispers, moving to sit on his lap. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean it like that."
"This...this almost tore us apart, Peyton," he says softly, shaking his head as he toys with the zipper of her sweater. "I can't believe her."
"Hey," she says seriously, taking his face in her hands. "Nothing's gonna tear us apart. OK? Nothing."
"You promise?" There's a smirk on his lips, because he already knows the answer.
"I promised you years ago," she says with a smile.
She brushes her lips against his, and when she tries to pull away, he won't let her. She can't complain. He tugs that zipper down and sinks into the kiss as he pushes the sweater off her shoulders. God, he loves her. He loves that they're strong enough to get through something like all this. He loves that it's over. He definitely loves the way she's feathering her fingers through his hair.
"Anna's at Nathan and Haley's," he says, though he already knows she knows where their daughter is. He's looking at her with that look. Dark eyes and a hint of a smirk. She doesn't think she'll ever get sick of that look.
"Mhmm," Peyton murmurs.
She slides off his lap and lays back against the pillows, and she watches as he tugs his shirt over his head and moves to lay on top of her. If there was ever a time to make love to his gorgeous wife, this would be it. Well, if you ask him, there are a lot of times. All the time, if he were able.
He's just pulled her jeans down off her legs when there's a knock at the front door, and he turns his head a little, curious as to who would be there. Peyton, however, doesn't seem to care. She pulls him back into a fierce kiss and he stops caring pretty much right away. When she locks her legs around his waist, she's the only thing in the world that exists to him.
"Peyton!? It's Brooke. Open the door!" Her voice is angry, and it makes Peyton laugh.
"What?" Lucas asks quietly.
"It'd almost be worth it," Peyton says deviously. "She might finally get the idea if she saw us like this."
"Baby, I'm the only one who gets to see you like this," he says, his voice low as he looks at as much of her as their position will allow.
There are a couple more knocks on the door, but then they hear harsh steps walking down the steps and a car driving away. Peyton's pretty sure that's the last they'll be seeing of Brooke in Tree Hill. She's glad.
She just wants her life back. Stealing a couple hours to spend time alone in bed with her husband seems like a pretty good way to do that.
Haley laughs when she hears the full story. She actually laughs. She's red in the face and there are tears trailing down her cheeks, she's laughing so hard. Nathan's a little angry, and a little annoyed, but he's otherwise unaffected. "No one messes with the Scotts," he says, and they all nod their heads. That's the way it has always been, and it's the way it'll always be, and they certainly didn't need those words to be spoken to know they're true.
"Mommy, I don't want to," Anna insists childishly. Well, she is a child, but Peyton has had enough.
"Anna, please just get dressed," Peyton says for what feels like the hundredth time.
"Anna Scott," Peyton says sternly.
Rarely does Anna act this way. She's a good kid, and she usually does as she's told. She doesn't talk back or resist things she knows she should do, like get dressed. Peyton doesn't know what's going on this morning, but when her little girl crosses her arms over her chest dramatically and puts a pout on, Peyton has to leave the room before she really loses her temper.
"Lucas, can you please deal with your daughter?" she says in defeat as she breezes past where he's standing at the counter. She grabs a bottle of water from the fridge, and when she swings the door shut, he's still standing there and looking at her quizzically. "Did I stutter? Go!"
He wants to laugh. He kind of likes it when she gets all worked up. She puts one hand on her hip, and she brushes the hair from her face using the back of her hand, and that's the only time she ever does it that way. Not to mention, there's a little fire in her green eyes that he kind of loves.
He leans over, resting his hand on her waist momentarily, and he kisses her cheek. She closes her eyes, immediately soothed by his presence. She loves that he can do that. One simple touch (alright, two simple touches) and she can feel herself calming.
Anna trots out 10 minutes later with her jeans and tee shirt on and her father trailing behind her, and Peyton locks eyes with Lucas.
"That's not what I wanted her to wear," she tells him.
"Well, it's better than pajamas, isn't it?" he says. He's right and they both know it, but she's in a mood and she just rolls her eyes and shakes her head. "And we had a little talk about doing what we're told." Lucas shoots a look to Anna and she nods her head dutifully as she gets up onto the chair at the table where her breakfast is waiting.
"Maybe someone should have that talk with you," Peyton mumbles when her back is to him.
Lucas eyes her as she stands there, fussing with the coffee pot, and he knows something's up. He pours milk over Anna's cereal, then he walks up behind Peyton and rests his hands on her hips.
"Are you alright?" he asks quietly.
"I'm fine," she sighs. "I'm just tired or something. I'm sorry."
"It's OK," he insists. He means it, and she can tell. He kisses her cheek again, then moves to sit next to Anna at the table.
Peyton sits down and reaches for the cereal and she can see that Anna's thinking about something. She's about to ask when the girl starts talking.
"I'm sorry mommy."
Lucas smiles and Peyton's heart swells in her chest. She looks at Lucas, but he holds his hands up.
"I didn't tell her to say it," he promises.
"It's OK, sweetie," Peyton says, leaning over to kiss Anna's forehead. "Thank you for saying sorry."
There's a tightness in her throat and she feels like she's on the verge of tears. She starts to question what the hell has her in such a state.
Then she starts thinking.
There was only one other time she felt this way, and it was just about four years ago. She's actually almost surprised that Lucas hasn't mentioned it. She starts doing the math, and she's only a couple days late, but that could very well mean something. She and Lucas haven't been 'trying, trying', he says, but they've stopped using birth control. She's not surprised that it hasn't taken any time at all. Maybe.
"Do you want to see if maybe Nathan and Jamie want to go to the River Court with you?" she asks Anna. Lucas' bewildered look only intensifies.
"Yeah!" Anna replies excitedly.
Peyton makes the call and sets it all up, and she's so busy getting Anna ready and packing a couple snacks for the kids that Lucas doesn't have a chance to ask her what she's scheming. It's not until after Nathan has picked up their daughter that Lucas corners her in their bedroom.
Apparently, he's been doing some thinking of his own.
"You're pregnant, aren't you?" he asks, unable to hide his smile. She closes her eyes and lets out a soft laugh as he walks over to her. "You are."
"I think I could be," she admits. "I thought we could find out together this time."
He wraps her all up in his arms and she smiles at that feeling that she'll never ever get sick of.
"That sounds good," he says, because he can't think of anything else, and it's the truth. "I love you."
"And hey," she says, pulling away from him a little. "Even if we aren't, Nathan's got Anna, so we do have a little time to ourselves."
"We could do that before we go get the test," he suggests, using that tone of voice and flashing her those eyes.
"Test? Luke, we're going to the doctor's. I want a medical result," she insists. She moves away, grabbing her bag and pulling on her jacket. He's still standing in the same place. "You coming or what?"
"Why the rush?" he asks, though he definitely wants to know, too. This is them, though. He likes to sit with news and learn things a little more gradually; process the information. Peyton likes her answers right away. He can't really say he blames her on this one.
"Yeah, babe?" They're standing right by the door, and she reaches up and toys with one of the buttons on his shirt.
"Promise me you won't freak out this time?" she says, unable to keep herself from laughing.
"Wow. I honestly thought we were going to have a little moment there," he says, following the sound of her laughter out the door and towards the car.
"Aww. You know I love you," she says as he pulls the car door open for her.
"Yes, I do," he says softly. "And I love you."
Their second daughter is born that fall, and while Anna inherited her father's sandy blonde hair, Erin is all Peyton. Light blonde curls and eyes that Lucas insists will turn green.
Anna is a great big sister, and it's a role she takes seriously. She helps Peyton as much as she can, and she certainly loves her mother being home all the time. And she definitely loves her baby sister.
Lucas is surrounded by girls. They've all got blonde hair and tempers that flare - usually at him, for some reason - and they command his attention, which he willingly gives. They also love him unconditionally, and they, well, the two of them who can talk, are always eager to remind him of that. He's got his hands full, and everyone who knows them, knows it.
Truthfully? He can't see himself living any other life.