A/N: Thank you for the reviews and I promise there will be less arguments and depressive moments from now on.

Enjoy!

Disclaimer: Nothing owned. Song by Ray LaMontagne.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

I STILL CARE FOR YOU

xx

Hear me out
Day follows day
Light turns to
clay in my hands

How to explain,
So pristine the pain
Kindness made
the cut so
clean

I still care for you

xx

Clap... Clap... Clap...

The noise echoed loudly in the air, and Lucas rolled his eyes. So much for seeking the quiet of the outdoors air. Turning quickly he sighed as he came face to face with his brother.

"What do you want Nate?" He asked tiredly.

Stopping on the edge of the court Nathan raised an eyebrow and shook his head slowly in disbelief. "How about you tell me when you are finally going to admit to yourself that everything you ever wanted is staring right at you."

"I know okay, I don't need another lecture."

Walking over to the bleachers Nathan took a seat and waited for Lucas to join him one row down. For a few moments, they let the silence surround them until Nathan spoke.

"You know I was thinking of hitting you... but it seems Peyton did a far better job then I could."

"She..."

"Stop kissing her Luke." Nathan interrupted. "It's not fair on her."

"I know..."

"You keep saying 'you know', but if you really did you'd stop screwing up every five minutes."

Not bothering to retaliate to his brother's statement Lucas simply nodded and looked away.

"Do you love her?" Nathan questioned impatiently.

"I think so". Lucas answered softly.

"That's rubbish and you know it."

"What I admitted I loved her." Lucas said throwing his hands up in frustration.

"No you said 'you think you love her', that's not a proper answer. It's a straightforward question Lucas, all you have to say is... yes... or no."

"Fine, yes I love her, are you satisfied now. She's Peyton Sawyer, I've loved her for years."

"Then why can you tell me, but whenever she says she loves you, you never respond. Have you not worked it out yet, all Peyton wants is for you to make up your mind. If you're going to break her heart Luke, then do it quickly, stop messing her around."

"You're right." Realising what he had just said, Lucas gave his brother a questioning look, "When did you get so... insightful."

"I'm married to Haley..." Nathan answered with a shrug, as if that explained everything.

"I need to find Peyton". Lucas stated standing from his seat.

Smiling Nathan stood as well blocking Lucas' path. "One thing before you go... you kiss her again when she's trying to make a point, and I will hit you".

"I think she can take care of that, anyway I learned my lesson earlier." Lucas answered raising a hand to his still aching cheek.

"Good."

With that, Nathan stepped aside, and Lucas made his way to his car. He was on a mission and this time he was not going to let her walk away... but first he needed to pick something up.

xx

Can't you see
What you mean to me?
(even promises may bleed)

xx

"You did hit him." Brooke exclaimed.

"He kissed me..." Peyton answered quickly.

"Are you sure you didn't just want to hit him... cause if I was you, I would want to slap him."

"Brooke", Peyton sighed, a smile forming on her features at her friends words.

"Just tell me... did it feel good." Brooke asked as she leant back against the headboard.

"The slap or the kiss." At the raised eyebrow from Brooke, Peyton shrugged, "I never know with you."

"Well Honey, I was talking about the slap, but by the sounds of it the kiss was pretty good too."

"Okay this conversation is over." Peyton said crossing her arms over her bent knees. Looking beside her at her friend, she smiled, "but thanks for cheering me up."

"Anytime... that's why I'm here."

"I'm starting to think it is."

The two had been there for half an hour as Brooke just listened to all of Peyton's fears. There had been tears and finally when Peyton had stopped crying, Brooke had tried to cheer her up. Thankfully it had worked.

Leaning slightly, Peyton nudged her friends arm with her own. "At least the party was a success."

"Yeah it turned out okay... we even had in-house entertainment." At Peyton's look, Brooke held her hands up in surrender, "I was talking about Nathan's incident with the door."

"Sorry I'm just a little..."

"Annoyed, tortured, upset, moody..." Brooke provided.

"I was going to go with tired, but thanks for telling me all my faults."

"No problem, that is another reason I'm here."

"Well when you put it like that". Peyton said rolling her eyes, then beginning to laugh.

A knock on the front door echoed out, causing Brooke to sigh.

"Please let it be someone nice".

"We aren't going to find out sitting in here". Peyton exclaimed making a move to stand from the bed, but was pulled back suddenly by her friend.

"Sit... Stay…" Brooke ordered as she stood.

"Would you like me to bark as well", Peyton said as she was made to sit back down.

"If it makes you happy". Brooke answered, laughing as she stepped out of the way of Peyton's arm as it swung towards her.

Another ring rang out and Peyton looked towards the door with a raised eyebrow, "You might want to get that then".

"I'm going... wow you're pushy." Brooke said as she left the room and made her way to the front door. Swinging it open, she took one look at the person on the other side and began to close it again. Unfortunately a foot placed knowingly on the inside had the door halting its movement, and with a sigh she glared at the intruder.

"What do you want Lucas?"

Straightening himself up he moved forward, "I need to see her?"

"Oh no... You had your chance and you blew it. Now do you mind, you're causing a draft." Brooke stated lifting her hand and moving him back slightly.

Shaking her off, Lucas shook his head in defiance, "I'm not leaving Brooke, and if I have to I'll stay out here all night."

"Go home Luke", she pleaded. "Peyton doesn't want to see you right now".

"Please".

"Lucas, what do you want me to do... betray my best friend by letting you in, even though I know she's not ready to talk to you yet."

"Fine... I guess I deserve her avoiding me. Okay look can you at least do something for me", he asked quietly.

"What?" she said against her better judgement. After all, she was not letting him inside, so how bad could the thing he wants be.

"Could you..." trailing off he held out a rectangle parcel wrapped in brown paper, and a letter taped neatly on top. Breathing in deeply he finished, "Could you just give this to her?"

"Why, it's nothing that's going to break her heart again is it?"

"No... No, it's nothing like that. I would never do that to her again. Brooke please, I just need her to have this."

Sighing, Brooke took the package. "Don't make me regret doing this Lucas," she said softly as she closed the door, not bothering to wait for a reply. Making her way back to the bedroom she opened the door, smiling at her friend.

"What did he want?" Peyton said from her position by the window.

"Well seeing as you know he was here, you probably already know the answer to that."

"Yeah. Did he say what it was", she asked nodding to the package as Brooke handed it over.

"No... Just that he needed you to have it."

"Oh, okay", Peyton, replied as she turned the parcel over in her hands.

Seeing the thoughtful look on her friend's face Brooke rubbed Peyton's arm soothingly, smiling gently, "I'll leave you alone for a bit, I'm only in the lounge if you need me."

Nodding Peyton moved to the bed and sat down, leaning back against the headboard. Not noticing Brooke leave she placed the parcel on the bed before her. There she sat for fifteen minutes in silent contemplation as she stared at the object in front.

Part of her wanted to open it, but she could not help the feeling that once she did she was giving into him. He would win this silent war they were competing in. Shaking her head at the thought, she noted something... this was their lives, they did have a choice as to whether they continued this cycle.

She still loved him, and she was curious as to what was hidden inside the parcel he had given her. After all, she could, if she wanted, deny seeing what hid within the brown paper.

Her decision made, she leant forward and un-taped the letter from the rest of the package, before moving backwards. Turning the letter over slowly she noticed there was no name on the envelope it was completely blank.

Biting her bottom lip, thoughtfully, she slowly undid the flap and pulled out a single piece of paper from inside. Unfolding it, she let her eyes roam over the words that filled the sheet. Starting from the top she slowly began to read, making sure to take in every detail.

- Peyton -

This may seem like a coward's way to tell you everything I have wanted to say for months, but unfortunately, I knew Brooke would never let me past the front door. Therefore, I put everything I was going to tell you onto paper. Obviously if you are reading this then I was right... she is an amazing friend to you Peyton, and I only wish I were one of the people you could turn to.

Now I know you are angry with me for leaving Tree Hill, but I really did think it was what you wanted. I needed to get away so I could learn to be the man you need, the one you deserve. Your angry and probably want nothing more to do with me. For that, I can never blame you; in fact, I hate myself for what I have done.

I threw away your love in that hotel room. I was insecure and selfish and I wish I could turn back time, but I cannot. All I have is my words, and all I can do is keep apologizing. I know you do not want to hear it but I just want you to know that I will always regret hurting you.

You said the other day that you were always the one fighting for 'us'. You were right, but I was not lying when I told you I have loved you since I was a child. I can still remember trying so hard to get you to talk to me. You were angry and in pain and I vowed that I would protect you. I wanted to be the one to save you.

However, all I have done is break you.

So I need you to know that I did love you, with everything I had, and that is why I wanted to marry you. I was so scared of losing you, that I never realised it was me pushing you away. I would give anything to go back and stay with you in that room.

For years you were the one... you still are. You are it for me Peyton and I'm sorry I cannot tell you all this to your face, but for once I'm trying to do what you want. I've always been selfish when it comes to you, and somehow I've always managed to ignore what you wanted.

When you came home, I wanted nothing more then to hold you on that river court. I wanted to fall to my knees and beg you to forgive me for leaving you. Once again, my pride stopped me. It hurt letting you go, but I never realised it would hurt more to see you again... and not have you.

I should never have proposed to Lindsey, it was an accident, but I was trying to not let you in, and I'm sorry. I thought that if I told you how I felt... how I really felt, I would break you again. Instead, I let you fall and was not there to catch you.

So please, hate me all you want, I cannot blame you for that, just do not ever regret loving me. Because you saved me, and I do not think I ever thanked you for that. You made me a better man Peyton Sawyer and to me you will always be the keeper of heart.

The night we kissed in Tric, you asked me if I could still feel it. Of course, I could, I always will. I can feel you Peyton. You are in my heart, my soul and the feelings I have for you suffocate me, but I would never give that feeling up.

You wanted me to answer your question from earlier, and it is both choices. Despite what you think, I was not lying when I wrote my novel. I will always love you, but I also want you because you love me.

It is the one thing that gets me through the day, the fact that the woman I love so completely returns my feelings.

As for the other two times I've kissed you, I wish I could apologize for them, but I cannot. Yes, they could have been in better circumstances, but I will never say sorry for wanting to kiss you. You make me do crazy things Peyton Sawyer, but then again that is what people do when they are in love.

I know you say that people always leave, but this time I came back... I came back here for you, and if you will not allow me to love you, then at least know this... I'm never leaving you again Peyton. I'm here to stay in your life, whether you want me or not, and I promise you I will be here until you make a decision.

It is your turn now... can you ever give me another chance? I hope the answer is yes, but if you choose no, then I will still be here for you, even if you want to move on. You watched me for months with another person, I'm sure I can do the same, as long as the decision you make, makes you happy... because that's all I want.

I love you Peyton Sawyer, I'm in love with you, and I will always love you.

After all, we're - True love always.

Forever yours

Lucas

Gasping, she dropped the letter to the bed and lifted her hands to her face. Her shoulders shook as the tears coursed rapidly down her face. She could not process it, he loved her. Lucas Scott actually came to her for once, well, in a way, but it was better then nothing.

Minutes passed, as the only sound in the room was her sobbing. Finally, her tears began to dry, and she slowly gained control over her breathing. Reaching for a tissue from the bedside table, she wiped her eyes gently, so she looked less of a state.

As she leant back against the headboard, she looked down and noticed the package that still sat on the bed. Deciding to just jump in without thinking it through for once, she lifted the parcel up and ripped the paper open. Frowning as she noted the manuscript that was hidden within. That was definately unexpected.

It was his novel, but not 'Ravens'. This was a different story, a new one. 'The Comet', that was what it was called. Wondering whether it held a deeper meaning she slowly turned the first page, coming across the dedication.

To all those lost souls who have forgotten to believe in the immensity of love... and for Peyton, who found my soul and showed me what it was to be in love and be loved.

The intensity of the words he had written struck a chord deep within her. She recalled a quote that sometimes, 'people wrote what they could not speak'. That was what this was, a written confession, if only she had let him talk to her before. No, that would not have worked, because knowing him he was only just now admitting how he felt.

Her fingers itched to reach across for the phone. She wanted to call him, make him come here and explain himself. Shaking her head, she rid the thought from her mind, concentrating her gaze back onto the written pages in her lap. She would wait for him to come to her, because that would show whether he meant his words. She was tired of chasing after him; it was time he did the fighting.

Turning the next page, she began to read the words he had written. She stayed there for hours, carefully going over every meaning he had conveyed and absorbing each one.

She laughed, she cried, she even became angry at one part. It truly was a beautiful story, about love, and wanting... It was about them. She knew it was not her being arrogant or self-absorbed, but it was fact.

He was the boy, and she was the comet.

The entire hidden concept was amazing and with each word she read, she felt herself growing closer to him somehow, after all he had written this once she had come home. Maybe he was telling the truth in his letter to her.

Brooke had come in to check on her earlier, but left once again when she realised her friend was okay. Thankful for the lack of intrusion, it meant that she reached the final sentence just after midnight.

Closing the cover, she ran her hands delicately over the top page. The tear tracks on her cheeks still visible and she wiped them away slowly. Once again, her fingers itched to reach for the phone, and this time she gave into the urge.

Placing the receiver against her ear, she heard the phone begin to ring.

One ring... two rings... three rings...

"Hello... Hello... Peyton... is that you."

Smiling as she heard the hope in his voice at the thought that it might be her calling, she spoke, deciding to put him out of his misery. She knew that one; simple sentence would convey everything he had been asking for in his letter.

"Next time you want to apologise Luke... I promise I'll listen."

Not waiting for a reply, she placed the phone back in its cradle, then laid back so her head rested on the pillow. With the sheets pulled up to cover her, she stared at the ceiling, a small smile forming on her lips.

For the first time in years, she felt that maybe he had not been lying in his first novel, and as she began to drift to sleep the final line echoed around her head.

'I was now and would always be in love with Peyton Sawyer.'

xx

The hours grow
Heavy,
And hollow,

Open me and
You'll find
Only bones
burned to glass.

I still care for you.

xx

A/N: So I hope I have not lost anyone with the lack of happy Leyton scenes, but as promised at the start, a slightly less depressing chapter. As I said in the last update, I cannot promise an update before I leave on Sunday, so please don't be annoyed if there is not one for two weeks.

Let me know what you think.