A/N: OK, a few things you need to know. This story is AU. Basically, everything from seasons 1&2 happened, with the exception that Peyton never lived in Tree Hill, so her storylines never happened. Basically, Nathan transfers to Oak Lake Academy a few weeks into senior year, where he meets Peyton. Everything else should be explained within, but feel free to ask if anything's confusing.

This story isn't going to be very pro-Haley. In fact, it might end up being a little anti-Haley (all for the sake of drama/NP goodness). And actually, it probably won't be very nice to Lucas either. I just wanted to give fair warning.


Oak Lake Academy.

The halls are crawling with pseudo-intellectuals, artists and athletes. 'Special' students, recruited for their talents and abilities and sent to the best school in the state for things like art and basketball and sciences. Those three things have given the school its reputation, and the students are looked upon to keep that reputation intact.

They do.

It's all brick walls and clean hallways and well-kept grounds. Students in pleated skirts or black slacks, and hunter green cardigans. Girls with boys' ties in their hair, and handsome blue-blooded boys with expensive cars and a world of expectations on their shoulders.

He wouldn't be here if it wasn't for basketball. It's his first day, and the coach has already told him he's going to be the best player on the team, and that he'll be scouted throughout the year, starting with their first game.

He knows he's good. He knows he's the best, actually. He knows that, at this school, students are expected to have the grades to match their skill. He doesn't. But the coach told him not to worry about it. He didn't really know what that meant, but he assumes that he might just be able to focus on ball and his grades won't be an issue. He can't say that sounds like a bad thing. And really, if he learned anything last year, it's that if he just applies himself a little bit, he can get through his classes just fine.

He steps into the main hallway, and he's drawing stares already. He doesn't know if these kids know who he is, or if they just know that they've never seen him before. He ignores the looks he's getting - he's used to it - and slings his bag over his shoulder as he heads down the hall, searching for the locker that's been assigned to him.

He can't say he hates that there's a leggy blonde girl standing in front of the green metal door that he needs to get to.

She's gorgeous and different from the other girls. Her hair's a little unruly and she's got on black converse instead of black mary janes. Her tie is a little crooked, and her backpack is sitting at her feet. She's not prim and put together, and for a moment, he feels like he's not completely out of place.

"Excuse me," he says simply.

He realizes quickly - or rather, he's reminded once again - how very different this school is from his last one. At his last one, he would have barked an order or a threat. Actually, who's he kidding? At his old school, no one would have dared to stand in front of his locker.

"What?" she asks, crossing her arms over her chest.

"That's my locker," he states, pointing to the door behind her.

"Oh," she says, kicking her bag out of the way and stepping aside. "Sorry."

"No worries," he says, tossing his gym bag and his backpack into the locker and reaching for his notebook and textbook.

"It's alphabetical," she says. She peeks at the title of the text book in his hands before looking up at him.

She notices his strong jaw and blue eyes and dark hair. She notices the little cleft in his chin and the way the sleeves of his white button down are rolled up. She sees his muscles move as he places the lock on the door. He's new, she knows, and she can tell right away that he's a ball player. He doesn't look like any science student she's ever met, and she assumes he's not an artist.


"Lockers," she clarifies. "Peyton Sawyer. You're Nathan Scott?" she asks, and he nods his head as he furrows his brow. "I've heard about you."

The school has been trying to recruit him since her freshman year, and so the locker next to hers was always left open for him. It's not the only one. There are lockers for players who don't go to Oak Lake scattered down the halls, and she's sure the faculty gets a huge sense of pride when those lockers are filled.

"Uh oh," he mutters, and she lets out a laugh.

"Come on. We have the same class," she says when she takes a glance at his schedule

She steps away from him and starts walking down the hall. He looks her up and down once more before he follows her, and he has no idea why she's not telling him what she's heard. He wants to ask her, but he's kind of afraid that it'll just be the bad things, and as much as he loved being the king of his old school, he kind of likes that he can be anonymous for a bit.

"Mr. Campbell spits when he talks, so sit in the back with me," she says as they make their way down the hall.

"Thanks for the tip," he says, smirking in a way that she's sure makes girls swoon. She's kind of swooning. "You have to be an artist."

"What?" she asks, looking over at him. "Why?"

"Well, you're not a baller," he says with a laugh. "And you're way too hot to be a science geek."

"They're not all geeks," she explains, and he nods his head again. "But yes, I'm an artist."

She's not sure why she got a rush when he said she was hot. The boys at this school don't say things like that. They use words like beautiful and stunning and pretty. Not hot. She can't remember the last time someone called her hot.

They step into the class room and she points to the desk next to the one she sits in. He's surprised to see that he's about two weeks ahead of this lesson plan, and so he can sit back and relax and cross that homework off his list. All he'll have to do is the assignments, and he'll be fine.

He watches Peyton as she takes notes, and he sees the way she tucks her curls behind her ear when they get in her way, and the way her hand holds her pen, as though if she holds it too tightly, it won't work. He assumes that's just some artist's trick, but it's kind of sexy. She's got delicate features, and he's kind of intrigued by her.

She can tell he's staring at her, and when she looks at him and raises an eyebrow, he doesn't blush or look away or apologize. He smiles.

This boy is trouble. She can see it right away.

But she smiles back anyway.


He's off to history during the afternoon of his second day, when he sees her talking to a few girls in the hallway. He sends her a smile, and she smiles back, and he notices how she doesn't look away immediately or start to blush like other girls do. She's kind of the only person he really knows so far, except a few guys on the team, and what he knows of her, he's liking so far. Those legs of hers aren't hurting her cause, either.

So maybe she doesn't blush, and she's thankful for that, but she's really glad he can't see her palms sweating as she holds her books.

"Who's that?" Catherine asks.

"Nathan Scott," Peyton fills in when she looks away from him after he's passed the group of girls.

"The basketball player they've been trying to recruit for three years?" Claire pipes in.

"Yeah," Peyton confirms. "He seems alright."

"Alright?" Ginny asks. "That guy is way more than alright, Peyton."

They all giggle as Peyton rolls her eyes. And that's when she blushes.

She adores her girlfriends, but they're all gossips in the purest sense of the word. She's known them all for ages, and they're all in the science program. She somehow fits into their group more than with the other artists. She likes that they can just talk about anything, not just brushstrokes or formulas.

She's known Claire the longest. Their mothers used to be close friends, so they were grouped together since they were in diapers. They somehow managed to develop similar tastes and that little bit of a rebellious streak that had them riding their bikes to the mall for shirts their fathers deemed too revealing, and drinking coffee when they were only 11, even though they hated the taste. Claire started dating the class president when they were in sophomore year, and now she wears his family's crest on an heirloom 'promise' ring on her left hand, and he's a freshman at MIT.

Catherine is a environmental science whiz kid who was lured to Oak Lake from a fancy New York private school to help lead a research team studying the effects of...well, something that Peyton doesn't really understand, but is kind of proud of nonetheless. Cath, as they call her, has a heart of gold and leads the school's environment society. Her parents divorced when she was little, so she spends every second weekend with her dad in Richmond. She drives a cute little hybrid car, and petitioned for any student who does the same to gain extra credit. She won that fight, and every so often, you'll see her smiling at the sight of Prius and Civic hybrids lining up in the parking lot.

Ginny - short for Virginia - was born and raised in this little town, just like Claire and Peyton. Her father's family owns a hundred year old publishing company, and her mother is their most prominent author. They joke that they aren't sure where Ginny's aptitude for the sciences comes from, but they're proud of her nonetheless. She spent the summer prior to their senior year editing and fact checking a science fiction novel that dealt with the possibility of time travel and questions about the space-time continuum.

"Whatever, I've heard stories," Peyton scoffs as they start walking down the hall.

"Oh please. This is high school. You have to know they're probably exaggerations," Claire says, waving her hand in the air to brush off Peyton's comment.

"Two cheerleaders at one time? Stealing a bus and taking it for a joyride?" Peyton lists off. "Performance enhancing drugs?"

"And why does that bother you?" Ginny inquires with a raised eyebrow.

"All I'm saying, is that the guy is probably trouble," Peyton says, stopping when she gets to the door of her calculus class.

"Well, I thought you liked trouble," Catherine points out in her horrible, teasing southern accent, making the other girls laugh. "And look who it is." She nods in the direction of the raven-haired boy in the very class Peyton's going to.

"Seeya Peyton," Claire sings.

"Get out of here!" she shouts with a smile.

The three other girls laugh again as Peyton steps into her class shaking her head. There's only one seat open, and it's next to Nathan. She finds herself smiling at him as she sits down, and she can't help but think that even if there had been another seat open, she probably would have wanted to sit next to him anyway.

"Checking me out in front of your friends?" he asks, leaning over so only she can hear him. She tries to ignore him and arrange her books for the lesson, but he's making it difficult.

"If anyone was checking anyone out in front of my friends," she points out, turning to look at him, "it was you checking me out."

"Yeah, but at least I can admit it," he says with a sly grin as he straightens up in his chair.

The teacher starts writing on the black board, and she's still trying to read the boy next to her. He casts a sideward glance to let her know he knows she's still looking, and she rolls her eyes when he smirks again. He lets out a breathy laugh and shakes his head.

He's going to like it here.


He's running late the Friday morning of his first week of school, so he stops into the Starbucks in the middle of town on his way to school for a coffee. There's a coffee cart on campus, but it's at the other end of school, and he doesn't feel like sprinting to his first class.

He spots a girl with a head of blonde curls and a plaid skirt in line as soon as he steps through the door, and he smiles to himself. He's never been so happy to be running late.

They've had a subtle flirtation since that first day they met at their lockers. Little things. He'd catch her looking at him, or she'd catch him looking at her. He'd wink at her in the hallway if she was talking to someone else, or she'd smile at him in the parking lot.

Every day, he's learned a little bit more about her, just from simple conversations. She's an only child and she lives alone with her father. She looked at him like he was crazy when he told her he has his own apartment and he's emancipated from his parents. Neither of them ask prying questions, and neither of them have been uncomfortable with the ones asked, to the best of his knowledge.

But the first thing he noticed about her is still the first thing he notices every time he sees her.

She's absolutely gorgeous.

She's looking through the yogurt selection and he sneaks up behind her, leaning down to speak into her ear.

"Good morning."

"Jesus!" she shouts, swatting his chest as she places one hand on her heart. "Don't do that!"

"Sorry," he laughs. But he's not sorry at all. As soon as he speaks his next question, he kicks himself. "What are you doing here?"

"I work here," she tells him.

"Really?" he asks in disbelief.

"No," she laughs, and he shakes his head. "But you should have seen your face."

"I was gonna say. Kids around here don't exactly seem like the working type," he says as they shuffle forward.


"Are they?" he asks with his head tilted to the side.

"Well...no...But you shouldn't be so quick to judge," she says, poking his chest with her index finger. "But, you can buy me a coffee in place of an apology."

"Do I owe you one?" he asks with a smirk.

"You scared the hell out of me, then implied that my friends and I are all snotty rich kids. You definitely owe me an apology," she states. "And as if you ever had to work a day in your life. Doesn't your grandfather own a Nascar team?"

He momentarily wonders how she knows that about him - he never told her - but he doesn't ask.

"You'd be surprised," he mutters.

She's about to ask him what that means, but the barista asks for their orders, and he shells out the cash while she puts milk and sugar in her coffee.

"You need a ride?" he asks once they step outside again.

"I have my own car," she states, slipping her aviator sunglasses down over her eyes from where they were holding her hair back.

"Of course you do," he says with a smirk.

"Lucky for you, it's in the shop," she says, walking towards his black Mustang.

"Lucky for me, huh?" he asks as he unlocks the door and pulls it open for her.

She certainly didn't see that move coming. The other boys in her school do that, too, but they make it seem pretentious. Nathan makes it...sexy. This is becoming a problem, she thinks.

He gets behind the wheel and puts the top down, and she smiles at him as she puts on her seat belt. She doesn't respond to his last question, and she assumes she doesn't need to.

They drive to school with him stealing glances at her, and her thinking that him shifting gears might just be the sexiest thing she's ever seen a guy do. They don't speak, and Jay-Z's voice is coming through the speakers, reminding her that he's really a jock. Not to say that no one else appreciates a good rap tune every now and again - in fact, this album sits in her collection, too - but the black Mustang convertible, the duffel bag in the back seat with their schools logo on the side, and his calloused hand on the gear shift are all the reminders she needs.

They pull into the parking lot, and she sees her group of girlfriends standing by Ginny's BMW, and they all smile widely when they see Peyton step out of the car with that boy. Ginny had offered her a ride, but she said she was going to walk. She knows they're going to tease her about this.

"Looks like we've got an audience," he says with a smirk, nodding in the direction of the three brunettes as they stare at their friend.

"Please, they'd be staring at you anyway, even if you weren't with me," she says with a smile. She throws the strap of her bag over her shoulder and starts walking in the opposite direction of the girls.

"Aren't you going to say hi?" he asks, catching up to her.

"I'll talk to them later. Their lockers are in at the other end of the school," she explains.

"Oh," he says. "I thought you maybe just didn't want to stop hanging out with me yet."

"We aren't hanging out," she insists with a raised eyebrow, glancing at him quickly. "You were just making up for being a jerk."

"Jerk's a little harsh, don't you think?" he asks incredulously as he holds the door to the school open for her and a few other female students. Peyton doesn't miss how those girls smile and bat their lashes at him.

"Not really," Peyton says, shrugging her shoulders.

He's never been quite so fond of a girl verbally abusing him before.

They make it to their English class, and she notices he's staring again. She's caught him staring at her when she's doing the simplest things. Putting her books in her bag, or pulling on her cardigan. He stares at her often when she's taking notes, and she hasn't failed to notice.

So she discreetly passes him a piece of paper with the word, "What?!" written on it.

He smiles to himself and taps his pen on his textbook as he tries to think of the perfect thing to write back. She glares at him after a few moments, and he smirks and shakes his head.

He settles on, "Quit staring," and hands the paper back to her.

He has to stifle his laugh when her jaw drops and she scowls at him. She scribbles, "You're a jackass" and places the paper in his outstretched hand when the teacher has his back to them again.

He writes, "I still got you to let me buy you coffee and give you a ride."

She lets out a quiet laugh and shakes her head, and he raises his eyebrow at her like a challenge before she starts writing again. "That's the only 'ride' we'll be sharing..."

He almost laughs out loud when he reads it, but he covers it with a fake cough, and it's her turn to raise her brow.

He writes something down and hands it to her, but he holds her hand in his for a moment, and their eyes lock before she pulls her hand away. He smirks to himself when he sees her blush.

She opens the note sees that it reads, "We'll see about that, Sawyer..."

She can hardly concentrate through the rest of the class. Every time he shifts in his seat or turns his page, she finds herself wondering what he's thinking or how he's so confident when she's basically been shooting him down since they met. But has she, really? She's kind of been flirting back, she realizes. She smiles when he catches her eye, and they've been talking a little more every day. It's only been a week, and she feels like they're...friends, somehow.

But she doesn't have a ton of guy friends, and the ones she has, have girlfriends, or they're introverted artists who talk to her about underlying themes in each others' paintings. She's got a couple guys on the team who she talks to pretty regularly, since they all grew up together.

She doesn't have friends like Nathan Scott.

The bell rings and she stands to gather her things at the same time he does, and maybe not-so-accidentally, he brushes up against her backside. She shoots him a glare, and he holds up his hands, as though that'll prove his innocence.

"Miss Sawyer, and Mr. Scott, if you'd like to pass notes in my class, I suggest you keep them humourless. Your giggles aren't as discreet as you think they are," Mr. Campbell says, his head down as he tidies his desk.

Nathan nudges Peyton with his elbow as they exit the class, and she's blushing again.

"Thanks a lot!" she cries once they're in the hall. She swats his arm and he just laughs.

"You passed the note to me first!" he points out.

"So!" she says with a laugh. "You're the one who made it all...suggestive."

"Suggestive? Is that smart people talk for pervy?" he asks, and she rolls her eyes. "And actually, you're the one who interpreted it that way. I was just talking about driving you to school in my car."

He's right on all accounts, and she can't really say anything in response to refute his claims.

But why was she the one initiating everything? Was he initiating it, but tricking her into really making the first moves? Why did she even care?

"Ooo! Your first game is tonight!" she says with a smile as they get to their lockers. "Nervous?"

It's the first game of the season, and while he's only taken part in a few practices and he was late coming to the school, the coach has made him a starter.

"Nervous?" he scoffs. "I don't get nervous."

"OK, bullshit," she says, and he laughs.

"It's not really nerves," he tells her. "It's more like...I just can't wait to play again."

"Well, I'm sure you'll be great," she says.

He doesn't know how she knew he needed to hear that, but he's thankful. And he doesn't know how she has so much confidence in him, seeing as she's never seen him play before. He's got a couple photos of himself from the basketball camp he told her in passing he went to in the summer, but that's about all she knows about his game. Sure, one of those photos captured him finishing a massive dunk, but still...

"You gonna be there?" he asks as they start down the hall again.

"You might notice me," she says cryptically before heading off down the hall opposite the one his class is in. "Seeya!"

He can only shake his head as he watches her skirt sway while she links her arms through her friends'.


This gym is a lot different than the one at Tree Hill. This one is state of the art. They've got flat screens in their locker room to watch game tape, and there's a live feed from the gym for injured players to take in the games from the trainer's room. Their logo is on a carpet in the center of the room that no one's allowed to walk over; if they do, they're benched for the next game.

It's intense, and the pressure is high, but he lives for this. He's missed this. He's missed just getting lost in the game he loves. He's missed game night, when nothing matters but the scoreboard.

The starting lineup is announced over the loudspeakers, and he's surprised when the crowd goes nuts when his name and number are spoken. He knows he's been talked about throughout the town, but this is crazy. There are probably 3,000 people packed in the stands, which is a far cry from the few hundred that would show up at Tree Hill.

He loves every second.

What surprises him most, out of anything, is that Peyton is a cheerleader. She'd never told him, and he'd never seen a uniform or a pompom, and no one's made mention of it. He had no clue until he sees her there in her green and black uniform, while he's wearing the teams jersey for the first time.

She sees the look on his face when he notices her, and she winks at him as he jogs past her. He lets out a laugh and shakes his head. He really didn't see that coming.

He can't say he hates the sight of her in that uniform, though.

He's fouled late in the first, and he watches her out of the corner of his eye, cheering and calling his name. He hits both free throws, and he has to shake his head again when she does a high kick.

He scores a team-high 28 points in the win, and he's happy to have shown his teammates - and classmates, and apparently half the town - why he's at the school.

He tugs on his jacket and makes his way to the parking lot after showering, and he's surprised to see that blonde cheerleader leaning up against his car. She's kind of the only person he really knows, outside of his teammates. A lot of the other students have said hi and welcomed him to the school, but Peyton, he thinks, might be his friend.

"You should be focusing on the game, not the cheerleaders, Scott," she says when he's close enough to hear.

"Yeah, 'cause I played so badly," he scoffs, smirking when she rolls her eyes. "You didn't tell me you were a cheerleader."

"It was worth it to see the look on your face," she tells him.

They both realize it's the second time that day she's said something like that.

"I can't help it. You look sexy as hell in that little skirt," he admits, looking her up and down again. She's resting her weight on one leg, and she's got her knee bent and her hand on her hip. He looks at her face again just in time to see her roll her eyes.

"I wear a skirt every day," she points out.

"Not the same."

"How is it not the same?" she asks indignantly, though the smile stays on her lips.

He steps towards her, close enough that she can reach out and grab him if she wants to, but he doesn't touch her. He'll let her do it if she wants to, but he'll play her a little bit; see if she's into him. It's a game he's been playing - and winning - for years, but he wouldn't be surprised if she blew it off completely. He finds himself thinking that he somehow might actually like it if she blew it off completely.

"One's a hot school girl fantasy, the other's a hot cheerleader fantasy," he says in a low voice, locking eyes with her.

"Win - win, huh?" she asks with a raised brow.

"Definitely," he growls. She laughs, and he smiles at the way her eyes shine when she's happy.

"I've gotta go," she says, stepping away from where he'd almost trapped her between himself and the car. "See you Monday."

"Later, Sawyer," he calls after her, smiling to himself.

He's not sure if she's playing hard to get, or if she really is hard to get.

But he really likes it here.