A/N: I think it's all self-explanatory. The italicized words are from LP's daughter's point of view; they're the lyrics to Taylor Swift's The Best Day, which is actually one of my favourite songs. Something about it always gets me a little teary-eyed, and it inspired me to write this. Last night's episode inspired me to finally finish it. Enjoy. Reviews are love! ;)
I'm five years old, it's getting cold
I've got my big coat on
It's the thought that comes to her mind most often when she looks at her daughter, at those haphazard curls that disobey hairbrushes, at the pretty green eyes and the ready smile, the bouts of attitude that appear sporadically through her general sweetness.
Lucas wraps an arm around her shoulders and presses a kiss into her hair. "She kinda is, huh?"
"Kinda?" she asks skeptically, playfully poking him in the ribs.
He chuckles. "She is perfect," he says reverently. "She's like a mini version of you."
"For her sake I hope not," she laughs, rolling her eyes.
Pulling her closer against his side, he smiles as she toys with the lapels of his jacket, resting her head against his shoulder. "You and her. It's everything I've ever wanted."
"Yeah," she whispers contentedly, keeping a watchful eye on their little girl.
"I…" He trails off and she nudges him gently with her arm, wordlessly telling him to finish his thought. "I'm just so in love with both of you that sometimes it's overwhelming. And I just can't tell you that enough."
Lifting her head, she smiles softly at him. "Ditto," she murmurs before pressing her chilly lips against his. When they break apart, she glances back at the little girl playing in the late autumn leaves. "She's so cute in that coat."
"It's too big."
She shakes her head. "She's getting big."
His fingers toy lazily with her hair. "Yeah," he sighs, "she is. How long until I have to start worrying about boys?"
Peyton laughs. "She's going to think they have cooties for a few more years, honey, you've got time to get all crazy and overprotective. Oh…but wait. You're already crazily overprotective," she teases, lifting her chin and sticking her tongue out slightly at him.
"Hey, now." He pouts, pretending that she's wounded him. "I thought you liked that about me."
"I do," she nods. Leaning in, she breaths against his ear before she whispers, "It's…really…sexy."
"Oh, yeah?" he growls.
"I don't think you know what you're asking for, Peyton Scott," he warns her, tugging her body tighter against his as his hand drifts further down her back.
"I think I do," she tells him simply, her eyes sparkling, loving the way her first name sounds paired with his last.
"God, you're beautiful," he murmurs, brushing her hair out of her face before he kisses her heatedly.
She has to force herself to pull away. "Public place, honey," she reminds him breathily.
"That can be remedied."
She smirks. "Five-year-old ten feet away from us." She bites her lip. "Luke?"
He senses the change in her tone and eyes her worriedly. "What is it, babe?"
I hear your laugh and look up
smiling at you, I run and run
"Um…I wanted to ask you…wow, this isn't exactly the moment to bring this up…but I really…"
"Just tell me," he says encouragingly, his eyes locking with hers.
Taking a deep breath, she keeps her eye on his as she asks, "Do you want another baby?"
His blue orbs widen instantly. "Do you?"
Uneasily, she pouts at him. "No answering questions with questions."
"I…well, yeah, I do. I mean, Sawyer's getting older, and soon enough she's going to get tired of me babying her and you being all crazily overprotective…" She smiles softly. "And we always said we'd have a big family, Lucas. That's what I've always wanted with you."
"But…that was…before," he says delicately, his eyes full of worry.
She sighs, well aware of what he means. "Just because my pregnancy with Sawyer was rough, it doesn't mean another will be."
"Rough?" He shakes his head incredulously. "Don't downplay it, Peyton! I almost lost you, and we almost lost her!"
"Don't you remember how hard that was? Because I do, and I'm thankful everyday that I've got both of you here with me, safe and sound. I can't do it again. Peyton, please, you've got to understand that. For months all I could do was worry about you."
"I know." Her hands skim over his torso in an effort to calm him down. "I know. But we don't know that having another baby will be like that."
"And what if it is?! Huh? What then?"
"You know what the thing that really sucks is?" Her eyes widen, anticipating his answer, and he continues, "The thing that really sucks is that…I do, too. I've thought about it, too, about having another baby."
Her heart melts. "You have?"
"Of course I have. I mean, we did so good with that little girl…" He smiles as he watches their daughter chase leaves that the wind has picked up. "And it's like you said; we've always talked about it."
"Luke…" She folds into him, tucked against his chest, sighing as he wraps his arms around her.
"But I'm scared, babe. I can't help it."
She lifts her head, tears in her eyes. "I really want this, Luke. And I want you to believe that it can be okay." She kisses him softly. "I'm not going to leave you. This was always what we both wanted, and we went through so much to get here, so don't you believe that it's what we're supposed to have?"
He starts to cave, unable to resist the look she's giving him. "Well…" He cracks a small grin. "Trying would be pretty awesome."
"Pretty awesome?" Her eyebrows fly up as she beams. "You don't have better words than that, you famous novelist?"
In response, he leans down to whisper in her ear. She gasps and she feels heat rising to her cheeks as she giggles slightly. "Luke," she breathes, and he pulls away a bit so that he can look her in the eye, blue orbs dancing with triumph and mischief and desire. "Really?" she asks hopefully, clinging to him.
"Oh, yeah," he aggress wholeheartedly.
She smacks his chest lightly, her eyes pleading with him to be serious. "I mean, really, you want another baby?"
He takes a deep breath and meets her eyes solemnly. "Of course I do. I've always wanted lots of kids with you. But you know what the doctor said when he talked about this, and honey, I know it's upsetting…but I can't say that I'm willing to take the risk. I need you. She needs you," he adds, nodding toward Sawyer.
She looks away from him and bites her lower lip. She doesn't want to endanger her life or their future child's life, nor does she want to put her husband or her daughter through that. But she can't help the fact that she wants another baby.
"It's okay," Lucas tells her softly. "It's more than okay. I could never need anything more than you two."
Flashing him a brief smile, she manages to nod. "I know. And I feel the same. It's just…it's something I'd hoped for."
"I know, baby," he says sympathetically, but a smile soon sneaks onto his lips.
"What?" she asks him softly.
"I'd kind of hoped that we'd get to do those…pretty awesome…things, too."
She shrugs one shoulder and allows her own smile to grow. "I think that can be arranged…"
He pulls her into an embrace so abruptly that she bursts out laughing, and it captures their daughter's attention.
"I'm sorry," he says sincerely. "I need you to know that I'm just not willing to risk it because I love you."
She knows he can see her understanding in her eyes. "I love you, too," she tells Lucas, pressing her lips quickly to his before turning her attention to Sawyer.
"I think it's time someone slept over at Aunt Haley and Uncle Nathan's," he says slowly, and Peyton doesn't feel the need to argue.
She sweeps her daughter up into her arms, noticing how much heavier she's gotten. She grows like a weed. "Hey, baby," she says fondly, rubbing her nose against her daughter's. "You having fun?"
Sawyer nods happily, snuggling into her in a way that makes Peyton wonder how it's possible to love so much. "The leaves look like they're dancing." She flits from one thought to another the way only a little kid can. "Are we going to pick a jack-o-lantern now?"
"We'll pick a pumpkin, honey," Lucas tells her as their small family makes their way across the field. "It's not a jack-o-lantern until you put a face on it."
Their daughter takes this information and stores it away in her busy mind, and Peyton kisses her forehead for no real reason as they walk among rows of pumpkins. She loves the easy and perfect ways Lucas is always teaching her things. "What do you think, baby? See any good ones?"
Sawyer squirms in her arms as she looks around. "I can walk, Momma," she points out.
"Yeah, I know you can," Peyton laughs. She sighs into her daughter's hair, which smells like autumn and her tear-free strawberry shampoo. "But I like carrying you."
past the pumpkin patch and the tractor rides
look now, the sky is gold
Lucas runs a couple steps ahead of them and points out a pumpkin. "What's your opinion on this one, kiddo?"
"Too big," she dismisses it easily, her eyes already seeking out the right choice.
Peyton pauses and points as well. "This one?"
"We have to get three. One for daddy and one for you and one for me."
"We do?" Peyton asks, shooting her husband an inquisitive look. "That's the first I'm hearing of it."
Lucas shrugs carelessly. "We can do it any way you want, sweetheart."
"Aunt Haley said that's how you do it," she insists.
"Ah, if Aunt Haley says…" he trails off, winking at Peyton. Haley has spoiled their daughter mercilessly, and Sawyer adores her godmother. Her trust in Haley is so complete that if Aunt Haley says that's how you do it, then that is how it's done, no questions asked.
"Momma, please put me down."
Peyton does as requested, gently setting her five year old back on her feet and watching her run off. She fixes Lucas with her gaze and tries to smile, but she knows that he can see the way her heart's aching. "She's getting sick of me," she sighs.
"She is not," he contradicts her gently.
"Okay, maybe not yet, but she's not a toddler anymore, you know? Everyday, she needs me less. And in a couple years it won't be cool to spend her whole day with her mom, not when she could be with her friends. And then it'll be boys and parties and she'll go off to college…"
"Honey." Lucas cups her elbow gently in his hand. "You're getting about thirteen years ahead of yourself."
There are tears in her eyes that she wishes she could get rid of. "I just want her to know that I'll always be here for her. And I want her to need me to always be here for her."
"Hey." His voice is soft and tender when he notices that she's crying. "You're her mother; of course she'll always need you. And it is completely obvious that you'll always be there for her. You have always protected her above everything else, even yourself. She adores you, not only for that but for so much more. Babe, where is this coming from?"
"God, I don't know." She wipes at her eyes and smiles slightly. "I guess I just want to do it right this time. I want to be the mother to her that I didn't always have. It scares me to think that I might not be."
Lucas shakes his head, smiling fondly at her as he pulls her into his arms. "You're crazy, you know that? But you're perfect. You're perfect to her." He holds her close. "Your mom would be so proud of you, Peyt."
"I found them!"
They break apart to see their daughter calling out to them, standing by three pumpkins, two relatively large ones and a small one. Lucas grins at her automatically.
"Those are the ones, huh?"
"Mm-hm," she says confidently as they come over to check out her findings. "That's yours and that's Momma's and that's mine."
"Looks good, kiddo. You're a good pumpkin picker."
She beams at his praise and looks up at him with pleading green orbs. "Daddy, I wanna go on a tractor ride."
Peyton finds herself, as usual, in the role of disciplinarian. Sawyer's generally well-behaved, and Lucas can be strict when he needs to be, but when they're debating the small things, she always finds herself stepping in between her husband and her daughter. He's incapable of saying no to that sweet face and hopeful eyes. She finds it endearing and frustrating all at once.
"Honey, it's getting late, and it's cold. We need to take our pumpkins and head back home, okay?"
She shoots him a glare that indicates that he'll pay for this later, but he's giving her the kind of grin that sets her heart fluttering and when he winks at her, her resolve evaporates as though it was never there. "One ride," she stresses, grabbing a fistful of his shirt and pulling him into a quick kiss before shooting her daughter a serious look. "One," she repeats for emphasis.
"Yes!" the little girl cheers, and Peyton is struck breathless by the joy in her eyes, the evidence of total happiness.
"Just one," Lucas tells her, nodding, and smiles at her before allowing his daughter to tug him off by the hand, her little legs moving as fast as they can.
Sawyer spins around abruptly and hurries back, extending her hands. "Can I take Claire?"
Peyton furrows her brow. "Claire? Honey, who's that?" She looks up at Lucas for a hint but he looks just a baffled as she does.
"My pumpkin," Sawyer informs her as though it's the world's most obvious fact.
"Right, your pumpkin." Peyton hides her amusement as she hands it over. "There you go, babe. Have fun."
"What?" Lucas asks as he watches her snicker.
She shrugs. "I just love that she's got your imagination. Did you name pumpkins, too?" she teases.
"Talk to me when your love affair with your car ends," he shoots back over his shoulder, playfully defensive.
Peyton bites her lip to suppress her smile as she watches Lucas walk off, taking Sawyer's hand in his. She leans against a fence, crossing her arms atop one of the rails and leaning forward, and watching father and daughter go on their ride. Sawyer waves to her and she waves back, tilting her head to one side as she watches them head off, disappearing into a cluster of trees. Her people-always-leaving complex has faded away over the past few years, because she's got two very important people who always, unconditionally, come back.
I hug your legs and fall asleep
on the way home
The moment they get off the tractor Sawyer runs toward her as if they've been separated for a lengthy period of time, flinging her arms securely around Peyton's legs. Peyton slips her hands into her daughter's hair as she asks, "What is it, baby?"
Sawyer shrugs her small shoulders, still clinging to her mother. "I love you," she says, in that perfectly simplistic way of a small child, and Peyton smiles widely.
"I love you, too," she promises as Lucas joins them, carrying 'Claire'. In one smooth movement, he hands the pumpkin to his wife and gathers his daughter up in his arms.
"What do you say, honey? Time for the pumpkin family to head home?"
Her eyelids droop as she nods against his shoulder, sighing sleepily as she gets comfortable in his grasp. Peyton smiles fondly at the sight and places the other pumpkins on the small wagon provided to transport them to the car.
They've still got her Comet and Lucas' Mustang, but Sawyer's birth prompted them to get a more family-friendly car, a big sturdy SUV much like the one Nathan and Haley have. She heaves the pumpkins into the trunk while he carefully settles their half-asleep five-year-old into the backseat of the car, buckling her in securely and slipping his jacket off to tuck it around her body. Peyton walks to the side of the car, her arm drifting over his back, and shoots him a smile when he opens her door for her. She watches him move around the car and take his seat in front of the wheel.
She curves her body so that she's half-facing him as he drives under the golden sky.
"What?" he murmurs softly.
Peyton shrugs, reaching across the distance between them to toy with his earlobe and slip her fingers into the hair at the nape of his neck. She sighs contentedly. "I love it when you drive us places," she tells him quietly. "I feel so safe, in this enclosed space with you both, knowing that you're keeping us safe."
Smiling, he reaches up to take her hand in his, intertwining their fingers. "I love that you love it."
Teasingly, she says, "I love that you love that I love it."
"Well, I love –" They both start laughing and he stops. "Today was a good day."
She nods. "I've had a lot of good days lately."
Lucas gives her a probing look. "Are you okay?"
"I mean, about the whole…baby thing."
"Yeah…" he trails off, shaking his head sadly. "I'm sorry, Peyton, I really am. I'd love to have five, hell, ten kids with you. But I just don't think I can risk it."
"I know," she whispers, giving his hand a squeeze and letting the silence settle around them for a moment in the dusk of an autumn evening. Glancing in the rearview mirror, she sees that Sawyer's lost in dreamland and feels an affectionate smile tugging at her lips. "I think it's enough. It's like you said, you know? It's more than enough."
"Yeah. I have you, and we've got her, and…" She shrugs. "You two complete me. And I wouldn't want to risk anything either. I wouldn't want to give this up. I wouldn't want to hurt either of you in any way."
He brings her hand to his lips and kisses her knuckles before he releases her hand so that he can focus on his driving. "I'm glad, babe."
They're almost at the street that will lead them home; all it will take it a right turn. But she feels so happy just as she is right now, sitting next to Lucas, Sawyer asleep in the backseat, that she's not quite ready to go home yet. She admires the setting sun and leans across the space between the seats, gently cupping his face in her hands as she plants a kiss on his cheek. "Turn left," she instructs him softly as she nestles her head on his shoulder. "Let's drive around for a little while longer."
I don't know why all the trees change in the fall
I know that you're not scared of anything at all
Sawyer wakes up the moment the car comes to a stop, and now that she's well-rested, she's fully alert and full of questions. Peyton herds her toward the door while Lucas lugs in pumpkins. Sawyer pauses and plucks up a leaf, examining it as Peyton gently takes off her coat. She holds it up toward her mother, small mouth puckered in confusion. "Why isn't it green?"
"Your leaf, hon?" Peyton asks distractedly as she hangs up everyone's coats.
"Yeah, Momma; why isn't it green anymore? It used to be green."
"Leaves on the trees change every autumn, babe. Boots off, please."
Sawyer slips her feet out of her shoes. "What's autumn?"
"Fall," Peyton corrects herself, reminding herself of the word her daughter would have learned in school.
"Why what, baby?"
"Why do they change colour?"
"Um, well…" She contemplates it and then realizes that she honestly doesn't know. She throws her husband a helpless look. "Luke, you want to field this one?"
He gives her a quick grin and makes a face. "Sawyer, honey, time for bed."
"If you brush your teeth right now I'll read you two stories tonight."
In an instant, she's off, rushing to the bathroom.
"Smooth," Peyton teases as she steps toward Lucas, wrapping her arms around his neck as his hands land on her hips. "I guess it's a little too late for her to go to Nathan and Haley's tonight."
He smirks at her wickedly. "Tomorrow."
The way he says that one word makes her shiver. "Can't wait," she whispers as she leans in to kiss him, moaning softly as his tongue slides over the seam of her lips, and she obliges him, opening her mouth against his. One of his hands rises, getting lost in her hair, and she pushes her body further against his. When they break apart for oxygen, she keeps her eyes closed for an extra moment and rests her forehead against hers.
"Hey, Peyt?" he murmurs, something vulnerable in his voice.
"Yeah?" she whispers, opening her eyes.
Lucas takes a deep breath and gives her a serious look. "Do you want to adopt?"
She gasps and her eyes light up. "Really?" she asks him quietly, her eyes searching his. "You think we should?"
"I want to know what you think."
"I think…" She shakes her head in amazement. "I think that I am so in love with you, and I think that you have the most perfect ideas, and I think…God, baby, I think yes."
"Yes! Yes, yes, yes." She kisses him, wrapping her arms tightly around him. "Yes."
He laughs joyfully. "It's not going to easy," he cautions her. "There are wait lists and forms to fill out and…there will probably be hard days."
All of that seems so insignificant compared to the main thought in her mind. Two kids sleeping in the back of their SUVs, two foreheads to kiss at night… "Another baby," she breathes, unable to keep from smiling.
"You think we can handle it?" he asks, only partially serious because he already knows her answer. "I mean, you've got all that stuff with the label, and I'm busy with the team a lot…"
She laughs, rolling her eyes. "We can. I know we can."
He nods. "Me, too." He kisses her gently, languid and slow as if they've got forever, the same way his lips touched hers when he came home to her after she found out she was pregnant with Sawyer.
"Yuck." Their daughter's dry comment reaches their ears from the end of the hall. She crosses her skinyn arms over her chest, clad in her nightgown that's meant to look like a princess dress, a present from Aunt Brooke. "I'm ready for my stories now. Both of them."
"She is so your daughter," Lucas mutters playfully. "Hey, baby girl, c'mere." He pulls Sawyer into his arms when she reaches them, keeping one around Peyton's shoulders so that they're all wrapped up as one. "How would you like to be a big sister?"
She thinks it over seriously before she finally declares, "I think that would be good."
"Yeah?" Peyton asks, tickling her gently. "You do?"
Sawyer nods. "I want a brother."
Lucas' eyebrows fly up as he laughs. "We'll see what we can do," he promises her. "Come on, honey, let's get you to bed. Did you pick your stories?" He sets her down and she scampers into her room ahead of them to inspect her bookshelves. They trail after her, holding hands.
As they stand in the doorway of her room and watch her pick out books, Peyton lifts his hand and holds it against her chest. "Do you feel that?" she asks, laughing breathlessly, referring to her racing heart. "I'm scared." She smiles at him. "But good scared."
Sawyer plucks her selected stories off the shelf and turns around with a frown on her lips. "You're not scared of anything, Momma."
Peyton walks forward and un-tucks the blankets on the bed, holding them up so that Sawyer can crawl in. "Sure I am, sweetie. Everyone gets scared sometimes."
"Not Daddy," Sawyer protests as she hands over her books and gets comfortable. "Daddy's not scared of anything. He takes care of us."
She grins at her husband over their daughter's head as they settle in to lie on either side of her on the small bed, all squished together comfortably. "Yes, he does," she agrees. "Now, which one first?" she asks, holding up Sawyer's choices.
"You pick," the little girl says tiredly.
don't know if Snow White's house is near or far away
but I know I had the best day
with you, today
Father and daughter both fall asleep before they even reach the end of the first book, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Peyton takes the small novel out of Lucas' hands and sets it aside and then just lies there, perfectly content to just watch the loves of her life sleep. They look so peaceful nestled together, with their identical noses and their synchronized breathing. She smiles and closes her own eyes, but then she feels Sawyer stir in between them.
"Momma?" she asks drowsily.
"I'm right here." Peyton combs her fingers soothingly through her daughter's hair. "Go back to sleep, sweetheart."
Sawyer cuddles closer to her, eyes still tightly closed. "Today was the best day," she declares decisively in a quiet voice.
Peyton nods, still stroking her hair, and reaches over with her free hand to turn out the lamp. "Yeah," she says just as softly, "it was."
I'm thirteen now and don't know how
my friends could be so mean
I come home crying and you hold me tight
and grab the keys
She's on the phone making arrangements for the tour of the latest artist she's signed when she hears the door slam and her daughter's angry footsteps make their way down the hall. She frowns in the direction of Sawyer's room and wanders out into the living room, where David's walking in, kicking off his shoes and dropping his backpack.
"Bag in your room, baby," she reminds him patiently, as she does nearly everyday.
He sighs. "I'm not a baby."
"You're my baby," she insists, closing the matter as she leans down and presses a kiss atop the six-year-old's head. "Did you have a good day?"
"That's it? You won't tell me anymore?" she teases.
"We played basketball in gym class," he offers.
Peyton sighs. Getting information out of him is sometimes akin to getting water from a stone. He's picked up his broody, quiet nature from both Lucas and herself. "Do you know what's going on with your sister?" she asks him even though she knows it's unlikely that he will. He shakes his head as Lucas walks through the door carrying binders full of game plans. "Yes, I'm still here," she says into the phone before leaning in to kiss her husband quickly. "Hey, what's going on with…"
Bewildered, he shrugs. "She wouldn't talk to me. I think this is your territory."
Pressing her lips together, she pauses before telling the person on the other end of the phone call that she'll have to call them back. She walks down the hallway and wraps gently on the door of her daughter's room.
She grimaces. "Honey, hey, it's me. Can I please come in?"
There's a long silence, but it's better than yelling, so Peyton takes a chance and gingerly twists the doorknob. She closes the door gently behind her as she steps inside, only to see her daughter sprawled out on her bed, face buried in her pillows, the perfect cliché.
"Babe? What's going on?" she asks softly as she perches on the edge of the bed and rests her hand lightly on Sawyer's back.
"Nothing," is her muffled reply.
"C'mon, hon; can you please talk to me?"
After a couple minutes, Sawyer turns her head on her pillow so that Peyton can see her tear-streaked face. Seeing her daughter in any sort of pain calls out to all of the extremely protective instincts she has over her kids. "Hey," she says softly, tenderly brushing Sawyer's blonde curls off her wet cheeks. "Tell me what's going on."
Sawyer sniffles. "You know Jenna?"
"Of course I do, you two have been friends for years. Did you have a fight?"
She sighs. "I told Jenna that I think Courtney's a stuck-up snob. Which she totally is, Mom; she's awful to everybody."
"Jenna told Courtney what I said. She's my best friend, and she said the same things to me, and she was supposed to tell anybody."
"Oh, babe." Peyton winces sympathetically. She always avoided the more complicated of social situations, but she's well aware of how cruel teenage girls can be. "Well, I'm sure it'll be okay, you -"
"No, it won't. Because Courtney is the most popular girl in my grade, and everybody wants to be her friend, and she won't let anyone talk to me now."
Peyton frowns. "And what about Jenna?"
"Everybody wants to be Courtney's friend," Sawyer repeats meaningfully. Her face crumples. "I don't have any friends. Nobody will even sit near me, and all because they want to be invited to Courtney's next birthday party."
Without really thinking, Peyton blurts, "Bitch."
Sawyer's jaw drops as she sits up a bit, laughing reluctantly. "Mom."
Peyton laughs at herself. "Sorry, honey."
She looks at her mother with helpless eyes, flopping onto her back. "I don't know what to do."
Peyton blows out her breath. "Girls can be mean, and I'm sorry for that, but it's something you're going to have to deal with for the next few years."
"That's not helpful."
She laughs and lies down on the bed so that they're both staring at the ceiling. "I'm sorry, I really am. But at the end of all of this, when you've grown up a bit, you'll know who your real friends are. I mean, Brooke and I had drop-down, drag-out, really awful fights, the kind of stuff I really didn't expect us to recover from. But if you love somebody enough, you'll make it work. And everybody else…you don't need those people in your life. You're better than that." She finds her child's hand and gives it a reassuring squeeze, hoping that she's managed to be helpful in some way.
Sawyer sighs miserably. "But what about right now?"
"Right now…" Peyton turns her head to look her daughter in the eye. "Right now you're going to wash your pretty face and grab your purse, and you're going to meet me out in the driveway in two minutes."
She grins, patting her daughter's leg. "No questions. Move it, hon." She wiggles her eyebrows conspiratorially as she slips out the door. "It'll be fun. I promise."
She finds Lucas and David attempting to make brownies in the kitchen, which makes her smile. He's always been better in the kitchen than she is, and she often comes home to find him cooking with their kids.
"We're making dessert, Momma," her son reports, and she ruffles his hair fondly as she smiles at her husband.
"I see that, baby, looks great." Tilting her head to the side, she indicates that she wants to talk to Lucas privately.
"Keep stirring, okay, bud?" he asks as he follows Peyton into the hallway. "Is she okay?"
She shrugs. "She will be. Teenage girls." Poking him in the ribs, she teases, "You must remember all that drama."
Lucas rolls his eyes. "Is there anything I can do?"
"I think…we're going to take off for a little while."
"It'd be good for her to have some time away from all of this. Is that okay?"
"Of course, whatever she needs. I'm sure Haley can watch David tonight."
"I'm so sorry I won't be at your game," she sighs.
He waves away her words. "You're always with me." He reaches between them, grasping her left hand in his. "Go ahead and take care of her."
"Thanks, honey." She tilts her chin up and kisses him softly. "Make sure those boys play good."
"I always do," he assures her.
She turns to head into the garage and then stops short once she's taken a couple steps away from him. She whirls back around and smiles mischievously. "Oh, and Coach?" Lucas gives her an inquisitive look and she winks. "Don't bother showering tonight."
and we drive and drive
until we've found a town far enough away
"Wrong car," Peyton sings out as she approaches her daughter, who's got her arms crossed as she leans back against the side of their family SUV.
Sawyer's eyes light up. "Seriously?"
Peyton holds up the keys to her Comet, letting them dangle from her fingers. "Seriously," she confirms, opening up the passenger door. "Hop in."
"Sweet!" she squeals as she jumps in. "This car is awesome." As Peyton circles the car to get into the driver's seat, Sawyer asks, "So…where are we going?"
"Wherever," Peyton shrugs blithely as she backs out of the driveway.
It warms her heart to see her daughter's excited smile. "Yeah, really. We'll just drive for a while."
The first few minutes, as she navigates through the streets of Tree Hill on the way to the highway, are silent while Sawyer stares at the houses as they rush by. Once they're on the highway, wind rushing by, she turns to Peyton and asks, "Did you ever do this with your mom?"
Her smile is bittersweet. "No, babe. My mom died when I was eight."
Sawyer's eyes widen. "You never told me that. I mean, I knew that she'd died, but I didn't think…"
"It was hard. It's still not exactly my favourite thing to talk about," she offers up as an explanation for having kept this particular fact to herself. "I guess I did kind of do this with my mom, once, though. My other mom."
"Huh?" Sawyer asks bluntly, and Peyton laughs.
"My mom died when I was eight, but when I was sixteen I learned that she was actually my adoptive mother. And my birth mother showed up. We went driving during a storm once. She really wanted to teach me to live life. She thought it was important not to hold back, not be scared."
"Were you ever going to tell me all of that?" she asks quietly.
"Yeah, sure; someday. I want you to learn the same things. You shouldn't be afraid. If you want something, or if you know something is right, then you've got to get out there and fight for it."
"And do you do that? Have you done that?"
"Yeah." Peyton shoots her a smile. "With your dad. And with you. And with David."
Sawyer nods, lost in her thoughts. She stretches her hand over the side of the car slightly, letting it feel the full force of the wind.
"Hey, you." When her daughter turns to look at her, Peyton arches her eyebrows. "This is supposed to cheer you up, not depress you." Sawyer giggles and Peyton nods toward an exit sign. "What do you say, is this the place?"
"I get to pick, really?"
"Yeah, and you better pick fast, or we'll miss it."
"Um…yeah! Yeah, turn!"
As she switches lanes and turns off the highway onto a road that curves downhill, she feels Sawyer's eyes on her. "What is it?"
"I just…I'm sorry. That you never got to do this with your mom."
Peyton catches her eye and smiles. "It's okay, honey. I get to do this with you."
and we talk and window shop
'til I forgot all their names
"Are you hungry?"
Peyton loops her arm through her daughter's and pulls her along. "Alright. Shopping first, eating later." She laughs when she spots the local Clothes over Bros boutique. "Think we should help your Aunt Brooke out?" she asks, nodding toward it.
Sawyer rolls her eyes. "She sends us free stuff all the time."
"Fair enough. Let's go…down here." She gently pulls her daughter around a corner, stepping onto a quieter street. The stores are less sophisticated but they seem more her style.
"Look at that." Sawyer points to a dress in the window of a vintage store, her eyes shining.
"Wow," Peyton comments, impressed, assessing her daughter's reaction in her peripheral vision. "Come on, let's go in."
"Really? I didn't think we were going to buy anything."
Playfully, she squeezes her eyes shut and makes a face as though she's head something blasphemous, pretending to shiver. "Brooke would be so disappointed to hear you say something like that," she teased, slipping her arm out of Sawyer's so that she can grasp her hand. "Come on, you need to try it on." She holds open the door of the store so that her daughter can slip inside.
At first, they just browse, goofing around as they try on ridiculous hats and huge pairs of sunglasses. Peyton finds a pair of worn-in, clingy jeans, the kind Lucas loves to see her in, and a hat that looks stupid on the mannequin but surprisingly good once it's on her head. She sidles up to Sawyer, who's idly looking through a rack of t-shirts.
"You should try it on, babe."
"That dress. I bet it'll look amazing on you." She shoots her daughter a reassuring smile and goes off in search of a salesperson to get it out of the window display. As soon as it's off the mannequin, she shoos her daughter into a fitting room and waits outside, trying on a belt to see whether or not she likes it.
"Mom?" Sawyer's voice is strangely timid, but Peyton's conditioned to respond to her kids, and she hears it perfectly. She spins around, whipping off her sunglasses to get a good look at her thirteen-year-old, who steps out of the dressing room shyly.
"Oh, wow," she murmurs, feeling a pang in her chest. "Honey." She places her hands on Sawyer's shoulders and spins her around so that they're both facing the mirror, Peyton standing slightly behind her daughter.
"Yeah?" Sawyer asks uncertainly, shifting positions as she examines her reflection.
"You look beautiful," Peyton asserts, reaching out to gather her daughter's hair up into an updo, allowing her to get the full effect of the black dress she wears. It reminds Peyton of something from her past, almost like the dress she wore on that one night so many years ago at the Scott mansion when Lucas told her that he wanted it all. "You look very mature," she adds over the lump in her throat. She smirks slightly. "Your dad's not going to like that part."
Sawyer's eyes brighten as they meet Peyton's in the mirror. "Does that mean you'll buy it for me?" she asks excitedly.
Peyton considers it teasingly. "Will you sulk if I don't?"
Sawyer nods, grinning devilishly, and she laughs. "Yep."
Rolling her eyes, Peyton nods. "Yeah, honey, I'll buy it for you." She gives her daughter a gentle push back toward the dressing room. "Now let's get out of here and get some good, I'm starving."
Sawyer nods and heads back in, but pauses right before she closes the door. "Hey, Mom?"
Peyton arches one eyebrow, wordlessly asking yeah?
"Thank you," Sawyer says softly, and they both know that she's talking about more than just the dress.
I don't know who I'm going to talk to now at school
but I know I'm laughing on the car ride home with you
don't know how long it's gonna take to feel okay
but I know I had the best day
with you, today
"Hey!" Peyton calls softly as she opens the door of their house, aware that David is probably already asleep. "Go get ready for bed, okay?" she tells her daughter.
Sawyer nods, taking the bags out of her mother's hands and heading toward her room.
"Hey," Lucas' drowsy, husky voice greets her from where he's lying on the couch, still wearing his clothes from the game. "My girls are back."
"Hey, Daddy," Sawyer says quietly, blowing him a kiss as she walks by.
Peyton walks into the living room and smiles as she sits near his feet. "Hey, baby. Did you win your game?"
A grin lit up his face as he nods, and then plucks at the material of his shirt. "And I'm still sweaty, as per your request."
"Nice," she replies approvingly, giggling as she leans down to kiss him. "I guess you deserve some sort of prize then, huh?" she teased.
"I think so," he agrees softly, cupping her face gently in his hands as they kissed again. He sighed. "How is she?"
Peyton shrugs. "She's still going to have to deal with those girls…but she's definitely feeling better." She smirks wickedly. "I bought her a dress that you're going to hate."
"Oh, God," he said with a melodramatic sigh as he gets off the couch and wraps one arm around her; she cuddles into his side as they walk toward their room. "She is getting so much older, isn't she?"
"Time flies," she concurs quietly, toying with one of the buttons on his shirt as she adds, "But she'll always be your little girl, Luke. I don't think that's ever going to change." She pauses and gasps, melting into him as she glances into their room, which is filled with white candles. "Aw, Lucas…"
He places his hand over hers on his chest, intertwining their fingers. "You know something?"
"What?" she whispers.
He looks her in the eye and smiles softly. "I still love you every bit as much as I did the night we made that little girl. Maybe even more."
To her surprise, her eyes begin to water, and she laughs at herself. "Me too," she tells him sincerely as she turns to face him fully, looping her arms around his neck as they kiss.
They pull apart to see Sawyer standing at the opposite end of the hall, her nose scrunched up, making the exact same face her mother does when she finds something unappealing.
Peyton laughs, pulling back from her husband a little bit, though she leaves her arms wrapped around him. "Hey, honey. You okay?"
Sawyer nods. "I just wanted to say goodnight. And…thank you for today, Mom. It was the best."
She smiles understandingly. "You're welcome, baby."
"Goodnight, sweetheart," Lucas adds.
After their daughter steps into her bedroom and closes the door, Peyton turns back to Lucas and sighs. "You're so good to her. To both of them. To all of us."
He shrugs as though there's no reason why he wouldn't be. "I love you."
She grins mischievously, slipping out of his embrace and turning around, grabbing onto his loosened tie and tugging him along with her as she backs into their room. "Why don't you come on in here and show me how much?"
He reaches for her, tickling her lightly before he kisses her, and her laughter is muffled as he kicks the door closed behind them.
I have an excellent father
his strength is making me stronger
"Hey, honey," Lucas greets his daughter when he walks into the living room to see her sitting on the couch staring into space contemplatively. He ruffles her hair fondly, something she's hated for all sixteen years of her life, at least ever since she's had hair, but they're both aware that she'd miss it if he stopped.
"Hey," she says softly, shooting him a quick smile before her lips slip back into a contemplative frown.
"What's going on, Sawyer?" he asks her worriedly as he takes a seat at the other end of the couch. "I never see you at home on the weekends anymore – you're always out with your friends or that…boy…" he says disdainfully.
She rolls her eyes. "Dad, Will is nice, I promise."
He shakes his head in a way that indicates that the subject is closed. "Not nice enough for my little girl."
"I'm not that little anymore."
"Don't remind me," he says with a playful grimace. "What's on your mind, kid? You look lost in thought.
She makes a face before she says, "Well, you know school?"
"That place where you learn and I coach basketball? Yeah, sounds familiar."
"Okay. Right. Uh…you know that…essay contest?"
One of his eyebrows lifts. "The national one?"
"Yeah. It's short stories, poetry, or essays. And I wrote something." Hurriedly, she continues, "And it won school-wide, and state-wide, and now my teacher wants me to send it in for national judging."
"Sawyer, honey, that's amazing – why didn't you tell me or your mom?"
She frowns. "You wouldn't necessarily know if I'd told mom."
"Yeah, I would have. She tells me everything."
"No, she doesn't."
They both fix each other with narrowed eyes and secretive smiles until she laughs, and Lucas chuckles as well. When she giggles he still sees shades of the three-year-old who stuck to him like glue whenever they went anywhere.
"So, this essay – story – you're going to submit it, right?"
"That's the thing," she admits with a sigh. "I don't know if I want to."
He brushes her hair, unruly curls just like her mother's, out of her face so that he can see her eyes. "And why not?"
"Because…because what if it's not good? I mean, in my school is one thing, and throughout the state is another, but there are definitely better writers than me somewhere else in the country. And it's…it's personal, you know? Writing. I don't like to be judged on it, I don't know if I want to be. And…are people going to make assumptions about me?" She meets his eyes hesitantly. "Because I'm your daughter? Does that mean I'm supposed to be able to create stories the same way you can? Because I don't think I can. I don't think I'm even that good."
Lucas smiles gently at her. "Sawyer, no one is expecting anything unachievable from you. We're proud of you no matter what you do – and you should let other people see how talented you are."
"Maybe…I'm expecting things from myself, though," she confesses. "I don't want to be a disappointment. I mean, I definitely didn't inherit any of Mom's artistic talent, I suck at sports…"
He tucks a finger under her chin so that she's forced to meet his eyes and looks at her seriously. "Sawyer, babe, your mother and I would love you more than life itself if you were a really talented…trapeze artist or…horse whisperer…or if you didn't have any talents at all. You don't have to be like either of us, and you don't have to be good at anything that you don't like. It doesn't matter what you inherited from us. You're our kid, and that's all we want from you. But the thing is, hon…that you've got your mother's gorgeous green eyes and her hair and her smile and her legs…and I think that you got the desire to write from me. And I think that you're probably good at it."
She gives him a half-smile. "I'm scared," she admits, "of not…writing what I want, or what other people are looking for."
Lucas nods. "I know. And that's okay. I was scared before I published my first book – I wouldn't even send it to any publishers, your mom had to do it for me. And I'm grateful that she did, because it proved to me that I could write what I wanted to and still…have people hear me. It's like when we were your age, before we even started dating, and I sent your mom's sketches in to Thud. Sometimes you just need a little help, a little proof, before you can see in yourself what other people already know is there." He grins. "You don't have to submit that story, Sawyer, but I think that you should if you really want to. Okay?"
She nods as well as she gets to her feet. "Okay. I'm gonna go call Will; see if we can catch a movie."
"An early movie," Lucas interjects, unable to help himself, and she rolls her eyes as she walks off, leaving him to marvel yet again at the similarities between his wife and his daughter at age sixteen.
"Um…Dad?" she takes a couple steps back into the room and looks at him hesitantly.
He's picking up the paper, preparing to browse through it. "Yeah, hon?"
"If I…if I were to…I if, um, were to leave a copy of my story on the kitchen table tomorrow morning…do you think…do you think that maybe…"
"I think it might just find its way into the mailbox," he agrees casually, infinitely proud of her but hiding it well.
She throws herself across the room and virtually tackles him into a hug that momentarily knocks the wind out of him, kissing his cheek. "Thank you, Daddy," she whispers, her voice small and grateful, before she rushes off to call her boyfriend.
God smiles on my little brother
inside and out he's better than I am
"You are so annoying!" Sawyer rages, and Peyton grimaces, well aware that this is the beginning of another lengthy argument between her children. She glances at her husband and sees the same resigned look of dread on his face as their kids come storming into the kitchen.
"Mom," Sawyer says emphatically just as David cries, "Dad!"
"Let your sister go first, David," Peyton says tolerantly, remembering that they let their son argue his case first the last time.
"Thank you," Sawyer responds before turning to her appearance, eyes wide and sad and appealing. "I graduate from high school next Wednesday."
Peyton exchanges a baffled look with Lucas.
"Yes, hon," her husband responds calmly, "we're aware of that."
"David wants to go to see Duke play next Wednesday! Which means that both of you will have to go with him, because you promised to take him and a friend for his birthday, which means that I will be the loser with no family at my graduation!"
Peyton holds in her laughter. "Uh, honey, you know…your dad and I didn't have any family at our graduation."
"You guys were different!" she cries exasperatedly. "Your lives were full of death and car crashes and crazy psychos and fake moms and…will you just please tell David he can't!?"
"It's his birthday present," Peyton reminds her, turning to Lucas for help. "What do you think about this?"
He makes an apologetic face. "It is going to be a really good game…"
"Lucas," she hisses, "this is your daughter's graduation from high school! What are you suggesting, that you take David and a friend and I go to Sawyer's grad?" She pleads with him with her eyes, hoping that he's not seriously contemplating that possibility. Their daughter, the child they fought for and had despite all medical diagnoses, the living, breathing, pretty-close-to-perfect representation of their love for each other, was graduating from high school. It wouldn't be right if they both weren't there.
"Uh…can I say something?"
They all turn to David, who has been quiet thus far.
"Of course, baby."
He shrugs carelessly. "It's okay. Go to Sawyer's graduation. I'll go to some other game."
Peyton melts a bit, in awe once again at how lucky they got with their son. "Oh, sweetie, I didn't meant to totally cut off the possibility –"
He shrugs again. "It's okay. Really. It's her graduation. You have to go."
Lucas raises an eyebrow, turning to Sawyer, who's still fuming but slowly cooling down. "You suck," she tells her twelve-year-old brother.
And then she hugs him.
I grew up in a pretty house
and I had space to run
and I had the best days with you
"Remember when you used to chase us around?" Sawyer asks her father as she giggles. "You were the tickle monster, and you won if you could get our socks off, and Mom had to try to save us."
She's home for a brief period of time during her spring break from university and they're sitting in the backyard, all four of them, under the stars, talking about years gone by as the binge on ice cream. Peyton loves it, sitting there next to her husband, across from her two kids, reminiscing, the taste of chocolate on her tongue.
"Mom sucked at that game," David remarks, and Peyton's jaw drops.
"Hey!" she cries indignantly, looking to her husband for support.
Lucas shrugs sympathetically but says, "You kinda were, babe. The tickle monster always won…" With those words, he lunges toward Sawyer, who shrieks just before he attacks, tickling her mercilessly. She may be nearly twenty years old, and her parents are over forty, but when she's lying in the grass laughing so hard she can't speak, it's like they're all flying back in time.
"Can you save her?" David dares Peyton as he laughs.
"Watch me, buddy," she teases him, reaching out to tickle Lucas in retaliation. The moment he breaks down into laughter Sawyer scrambles away, and Peyton hears breathless laughing piercing the night air as her kids chase each other around. Lucas takes advantage of her distracted state to flip the two of them around, and he pins her to the ground. She stares up at him feeling like a kid again herself. She means to say watch your back or be careful about your heart but instead all she can do is whisper, "I love you so much. I love…this, so much, you know?"
He nods, brushing his lips against hers briefly. "I know." It's everything they both wanted so badly when they were younger. He had it, at times, but she didn't.
And then Sawyer pulls his socks off his feet and he yells, "Hey!", getting up and reaching out to help Peyton to her feet as well. They exchange a conspiratorial glance and charge after their kids, going directly for their socked feet, laughing so hard they can barely move.
The next morning Sawyer's up at five a.m. and waking them all up as she slams door and searches through closets, doing all the packing she neglected the night before, and Lucas is exhausted and it's obvious that his back is killing him, and David has a basketball game at nine o'clock that he won't play well in because his feet are sore from running around barefoot the night before, and Peyton's got a meeting with a new artist that she won't be at all focused for because they were up so late.
But none of it really matters, not at all.
there is a video I found from back
when I was three
you set up a paint set in the kitchen
and you're talking to me
"Hey, almost-birthday girl," Peyton says softly, curling up on the couch next to her daughter and lifting the blanket so that she can snuggle in as well. "When did you get here?"
Sawyer shrugs. "Around midnight. It just felt like the right place to be today."
She glances at the clock on the DVD player and sees that it's almost one o'clock in the morning. "So it's already your birthday," she muses, leaning over to kiss her daughter's cheek. "Happy birthday, honey."
Sawyer turns to look at her, grinning softly. "Happy Wedding Anniversary," she returns.
"Happy Wedding Day," Peyton replies, wiggling her eyebrows. "This is a pretty great day all around, huh?"
Her daughter nods. "That's why I picked it, even if it meant waiting for a year to get that church." She sighs. "Mom…were you scared?"
Peyton frowns, worried that her daughter might be getting cold feet. She toys gently with Sawyer's loose curls. "Of getting married? No. I was so certain about it."
"No, I mean…with me, and everything. Being eight months pregnant and knowing that your…life was potentially in danger…didn't it scare you?"
Shrugging, Peyton smiles affectionately. "A little, sure. But…I was pretty damn certain about you, too." Still stroking her hair, she turns her attention to the TV and asks, "What're we watching?"
Sawyer cracks a grin. "I went through our home movies. This was the oldest one I could find." She laughs. "Look at my what I'm wearing. And my hair!"
it's the age of princesses of pirate ships
and the seven dwarfs
and daddy's smart and you're the prettiest lady
in the whole wide world
Peyton can only smile. She remembers that day distinctly, making dinner in the kitchen with Sawyer set up with her paints at the table so that she could keep an eye on her. Lucas came home with lilies for her a new book for Sawyer, kissed their cheeks and said that he loved to see them laughing together, and went off in search of the video camera.
"Stop," she giggles, "you were so cute. Our little girl. Only you," she teases, "would wear an eye patch and a tiara at the same time."
"Well, it just didn't make sense to me that there were no pirate princesses. It seemed like the best life possible."
Peyton chuckles. "I loved talking to you," she whispers. "I still do, of course, but you asked the best questions back then, the simplest things that I'd never really thought about before. I think I learned more from you then you did from me."
Sawyer rolls her eyes, insisting, "That's not possible."
The three-year-old version of herself reaching one paint-covered hand toward the camera, happily crying, "Daddy!"
Peyton sighs. "You had him wrapped around your little finger from the second that you were bored. Do you remember when you told him that you wanted to marry him?"
"Oh, God," Sawyer laughs, burying her face in her hands for a moment. "I was four. It seemed perfectly logical at the time!"
"You said –"
"Oh, no, please don't quote me!"
Peyton ignores her, continuing, "You said, verbatim: I love you, Daddy. You're smart and you take care of us. And you're supposed to marry who you love." She shakes her head and smiles. "I don't think he ever said no to you after that moment. Not that he would have anyway. And you used to tell me that I was soooo pretty. It was the sweetest thing."
"Kids are so cute."
"But annoying as hell sometimes…" Peyton trails off teasingly.
"You turned out pretty perfectly, I've got to admit. Your brother too."
Sawyer looks at her for a long moment before she softly says, "Thank you for having me."
"Oh, honey," Peyton replied quietly, resting her head gently against her daughters. "There was never any question."
She smiles. "Were you nervous when you found out you were pregnant?"
Peyton laughs. "I freaked because at the time it seemed like the most unexpected thing. But it only took me a couple minutes to realize that it was probably the best thing that had ever happened to me. Even with all the drama that pregnancy involved," she adds before her daughter can ask. "I had your dad and I had you. There wasn't much else I could ask for."
Sawyer nods, absorbing this information. "Best thing, huh?"
"Best thing," her mother promises. Her smile falters for a split second and she pulls back from her daughter a bit, scrutinizing her face. Her jaw drops and she splutters, "I'm sorry, but…Sawyer Brooke Scott, are you glowing?!"
"What? No," her daughter replies defensively without meeting her eyes, casting Peyton the same evasive glance that Peyton gave to Haley once upon a time when her friend figured out her secret. "I'm…happy. I'm getting married, for God's sake!"
Peyton shook her head in amazement, a smile tugging at her lips. "You are pregnant."
Her daughter makes an apprehensive voice. "Maybe?"
"Okay…yeah." She takes a deep breath and smiles. "Yeah."
"Oh my God, honey…did you tell Will yet?"
She shakes her head, playing with the fringe of the throw pillow that sits in her lap. "No. I just found out. I'll tell him today or tonight. And I guess because it's my birthday and my wedding day and…your wedding day…that I thought this was the place I should be. I thought I should tell you."
Peyton pulls her into a hug. "Thank you. And I am so, so happy for you." She grins as she pulls back. "God, I cannot believe you're going to make me a grandmother already."
"But you're happy?"
"Of course I am. And you, what about you? How are you feeling?" she asks eagerly.
Sawyer grins at her shyly. "Like it's the best thing."
and now I know why the trees change in the fall
I know you were on my side even when I was wrong
"No crying!" Brooke barks at mother and daughter as she carefully places the veil in the younger blonde's hair.
"Sorry, sergeant," Sawyer giggles through her tears.
"You're going to regret that," Brooke promises, mock-threateningly. "When you see…" She steps aside and steers Sawyer to stand in front of the mirror, "this." Her eyes swim with tears as she sighs.
"What happened to 'no crying'?" Peyton asks her teasingly.
"Screw it," Brooke whispers thickly, "Look at you," she says to Sawyer.
Peyton watches her daughter turn back and forth in front of the mirror, admiring her reflection, and smiles proudly. "You look so beautiful, babe."
"Aunt Brooke, I think you worked a miracle…" she marvels, leaning a bit closer to the mirror to examine her makeup. "I look…wow."
Brooke claps her hands together giddily, grinning at Peyton before she gushes, "I am so jealous that your kid is getting married before mine!" She reaches out and grabs her best friend's hand. "Thank you for letting me make her dress."
"Are you kidding? I never would have asked anyone else."
"Oh," Haley sighs from the doorway, a hand pressed to her heart. "I have the most beautiful goddaughter in the world."
Sawyer beams at her in the mirror. "Thanks, Aunt Haley."
"You're welcome, honey, and I mean it – you're totally gorgeous. I was just coming in to tell you guys that we should get started. Everyone and everything is ready for you to be married," she says, squealing slightly on the last word. She winks at Peyton, teasing, "This is so much easier when it isn't your kid."
Peyton laughs, remembering how teary-eyed Haley had been at Jamie's wedding. "Thanks for the moral support, Hales."
"Anytime, Blondie." She leaves, Brooke trailing after her once she's hugged both Peyton and Sawyer.
Peyton stands behind her daughter, peeking over her shoulder into the mirror, making sure her dress is fully zipped and adjusting her veil one last time. She blinks back the tears that keep accumulating in her eyes. "They're right, honey, you look so beautiful."
She nods enthusiastically. "Like a princess."
Sawyer grimaces, an automatic reaction. "Ew."
Peyton laughs because she would have said the same thing. "Hand," she orders, holding her palm up so that her daughter can place her hand atop. Onto the pinky finger of Sawyer's right hand, she slips on a small silver ring with a pirate skull on it, a relic from her rebellious, moody adolescence. She grins and takes her daughter by the shoulders, turning her to that they're both looking in the mirror again. "A pirate princess," she corrects herself, smiling. "Is that better?"
Her daughter glances down at the ring and grins. "It's perfect."
"I feel like I should tell you something so pivotal and important right now." She sighs. "Um…no champagne! I'll tell the bartender to keep you supplied with something sparkling. Take care of my grandbaby," she says with a grin.
Sawyer presses one hand to her stomach. "Do you think I'll be a good mom?"
"I think…that you have been everything I ever could have asked for in a daughter and more, and that you're going to be a really, really great mom, everything your baby could ask for and more."
Sawyer's eyes are dancing, glittering with unshed tears. "That was pretty pivotal and important," she says thickly after a moment.
"Good," Peyton says softly, leaning over her daughter's shoulder to plant a kiss on her cheek. "And we'll tell your dad in a couple weeks, okay? I think he really wants you to have all those landmark moments in your life in the right order: graduation, marriage, then baby."
She laughs. "Sounds good."
Peyton smile fondly at her. "Let's get you married," she says, and right on cue her husband walks into the room.
He's speechless for a second and Sawyer blushes and offers an explanation: "Aunt Brooke's a magician."
Lucas smiles. "You look so beautiful, honey. And it's not because of Brooke."
Peyton walks over to him and leans up to give him a quick kiss, patting his arm, and leaves him to walk their daughter down the aisle, entirely reassured by the fact that he'd never let her marry anyone inadequate.
"So…" Sawyer says once her mother leaves. "You're not going to flip out and threaten Will or anything, are you?"
Her father laughs. "Nah. I can't really judge, can I? I fell in love with a Sawyer when I was sixteen." He smiles, almost to himself, as he promises, "He's going to adore you like you deserve to be adored. I know it." He holds out his arm to her and asks, "Shall we?"
and I love you for giving me your eyes
for standing back and watching me shine
"Look at us," Peyton muses quietly into her husband's chest as she and Lucas dance at their daughter's reception.
"What?" he asks, smiling at her gently, pulling back the slightest bit so he can look her in the eye.
She shrugs, returning the smile. "We're dancing at our kid's wedding," she whispers meaningfully, "And soon…someday soon…we'll have grandkids to spoil."
He nods slowly. "We are. We will." He gives her the grin that never fails to get her heart pounding. "You were right, I was wrong," he admits playfully.
She laughs. "We just…we did good, you know? With Sawyer, and David, and everything. God, when I think back to being sixteen years old and bitching at you next to my broken car…I never imagined us ending up here." She sighs as she smiles at him. "But I'm so glad."
"I knew we would," he murmurs, his voice low, making her shiver.
"You did not," she protests childishly.
But Lucas insists, "I did. When we were sixteen, before I'd even spoken to you…this was how I imagined we'd end up."
She shakes her head. "But you didn't know me, you didn't know what we would be like together, you couldn't possibly have –"
He presses a finger gently to her lips, halting the delivery of any further arguments she's got prepared. "Peyt. Baby, I told you. I always knew you."
Tilting her head slightly to the side, she can only smile at him, tears springing to her eyes. She leans in and kisses him, maybe a little more fervently than is public appropriate, but she can't bring herself to care. When they pull apart she keeps her eyes closed and breathes him in for a moment. "I love you," she tells him. "Happy twenty-fifth anniversary, Luke."
Lucas grins at her. "Happy Anniversary, Peyton Scott."
She tugs at his tie as she leans in to kiss him again. "That still sounds so good," she breathes.
"Good," he says firmly, "because it's going to last a hell of a lot longer than a quarter of a century."
She giggles. "That's nothing, right?"
"Nothing at all. We're going to dance at Sawyer's twenty-fifth anniversary party."
"Can I hold you to that?"
He smirks. "You better."
"Wait – she gets to have a twenty-fifth anniversary party but we don't get to have a fiftieth wedding anniversary party?"
Lucas shrugs. "We'll just go to hers."
"How romantic," she says dryly, and he laughs.
"I know you, Peyt. You'll put her first."
She stares at him appreciatively for a moment before she murmurs, "You know something?"
"What?" he asks huskily.
"I still you every bit as much as I did twenty-five years ago when that little girl was born. Maybe even more."
He nods. "Always," he says simply, and she understands absolutely everything that that word is meant to express.
and I didn't know if you knew
so I'm taking this chance to say
"So…thank you," Sawyer says, getting a little bit emotional as she addresses her family and friends. "Thank you for coming, thank you for that ridiculously high pile of presents you bought us, thank you for being so important to us, thank you for celebrating with us…and special thank-yous to my in-laws, for being so great to me already, and my brother, my dad…and my mom." She finds Peyton's eyes in the crowd and grins. "Thank you for being there for the most important days in my life, the best ones, and everything in between."
As she leans back into Lucas' arms, Peyton smiles softly and winks at her daughter.
Sawyer's eyes water the slightest bit. "Thank you for letting me know what the very best things are…and thank you for letting me be one of yours."
that I had the best day
with you, today