A/N: So I know I should be working on my other stories, but I thought of this and as it is only a one shot, I decided to go with it. It is set after the events of 5.12 and goes very AU after that. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: I do not own anything. The song is by Matthew Ryan.

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RETURN TO ME

xx


Slowly walking down the street
where the homeless and the lovers meet
the bars glow blue
your skin does too
I saw the garland
in the skyline
in the by-line
I took a drink
I took the pills


you'll murder me I know you will
so I'm wishing, that I could change this
that you would open
I keep hoping'
for a cure
for some medicine
just one conversation
Rain poured down from the dark clouds onto the figure walking down the road with his hands shoved deep inside his pockets. His shirt clung to his skin and his gaze was fixed onto the ground before him. The skies water hit his cheeks washing away the remnants of tears, which had fallen.

For over a year now, he had tried to forget, but he was hopelessly lost in the memories and the need to fix the situation. Nevertheless, he could not. He had tried of course, but somehow his efforts were futile.

It was a Friday, that was what had begun this whole meltdown. Years ago, he had loved Fridays; they represented the end of the week and who could not fall in love with that idea. Then she had happened and his life changed.

It had definitely taken a turn for the worse, and now he was crashing at a pace far too fast for him to ever be saved from. Somehow, he could not seem to fathom his life now. His friends and family moved on, and here he was mourning the loss of someone who was not even dead. However she had left, so to him there seemed to not be an awful lot of difference.

Touring the world, her best friend had told him. His heart's desire was living her dream without him, who was stuck in this small town he grew up in.

Ever since he had first seen her on the playground, she had been a constant in his life. He had gone from watching her to knowing her as they had grown up, but then he had ruined it. Who would ever have predicted that he would break her to the point she would run from him. That was what she did; she left him trailing in the dust, as she let him go.

Peyton Sawyer should have been his forever, instead the dream had lasted a year. However, they had both pined and he messed up even more, to the brink of no return.

Lucas had gone from saviour, to lover, to destroyer. It had all started with the failed marriage proposal where he had fled with his tail between his legs. He should have waited, but he was too stubborn and had moved on, or at least that was what it seemed to everyone around him.

When she had had returned home, he craved to hold her, to care for her, to love her. Instead, he hid behind a woman he only cared mildly for, because his wounded pride refused to let him chase her.

Then there was the moment, the one of weakness, where for a split second she was his again. They were transported back to their senior year where for a few weeks they were deliriously happy, but that was only a dream. A kiss means everything, which was why he was sure his heart had stopped when they were in her office. He had responded of course when she had kissed him, after all she was Peyton Sawyer, his heart's desire.

She was his weakness, his Achilles heel, and no matter how much he fought against his emotions, he could not quiet the voice inside his head. The one whispering deadly, destructive things to his heart.

'You love her'.

Therefore, he ignored them, and he made the second worst mistake of his life. He proposed to the other woman, then put on a smile and waited at the end of the aisle, even going as far as saying 'I do', like all good grooms do.

But he was unable to fool Lindsey. It was all down to his novel; apparently, his subconscious could say the things he was unable to. He was an open book and for days afterwards, he had wished Peyton would see that, she would be able to see that deep down he had never stopped loving her.

He was too late though, or she was choosing to ignore the fact she could read him... and he had been too late, because a few weeks later she had packed her bags and left.

Left town... left Tree Hill... left him.

Moving his gaze across the pavement, he spied an old can and began to kick it along the pavement, mesmerized by the sounds of the clattering of metal. His memories were changing and he recalled their last conversation.

xx

Stepping into the room Peyton knocked onto the open bedroom door, wincing when she spied Lucas on the bed wrapped in his thoughts. Swallowing hard, she moved forward and perched on the edge of the bed facing him.

"Hi", she whispered.

"Peyton". Glancing at her his voice stuck in his throat and he was lost for words.

"Can we talk"?

Nodding he sat up and leant back against the headboard.

"Okay", she sighed breathing in deeply to calm her nerves before continuing. "I'm leaving".

"What".

"I'm going on tour with Mia".

"Oh okay, how long for". He asked hoping the answer would be short.

"Two months".

"I'll be here when you get back."

"Luke..." she sighed looking away.

"What", he asked picking her hand up from the bed.

Shaking his hand off she stood from the bed and walked a few steps away before turning back, "I... I'm not sure if I'm coming back."

"Why?" he asked stepping off the bed and moving towards her but halting as she held up her hand to fend him off.

"... because... because this is too hard Luke. I can't do it anymore. So I'm going on tour and if I'm happy out there then..."

"You're staying. I get it".

"I thought you'd be happy".

Laughing hollowly he threw his hands up helplessly, "Why would I be happy... you're running... again".

*Slap*.

The action echoed around the room and Lucas clutched his cheek as his skin throbbed underneath his hand.

"Don't you dare."

"Peyton..."

"No Lucas, you don't get to do that. I'm not running. I had to watch you for months parading your girlfriend around in front of me. Well no more."

"Lindsey's gone".

"So, you're still moping after her. I'm not blaming you for that. I just... I refuse to let my heart keep breaking because you don't want me anymore. So I decided to let you go, and if I have to move away for that, well I will."

"... but your friends and family are here."

"... and they understand. Brooke said she is going to come out and visit, so are the others. Jamie is going to get postcards. They're supporting me".

"What about me". He said with some conviction as he stepped forwards, grabbing her and pulling her towards him. Moving his head down he claimed her lips with his own, hoping to convey the emotion inside which was beginning to overwhelm him. Seconds passed as they lost themselves, and he could not help the joy he felt when she responded.

Then it was over. She pulled away quickly; skin flushed and breathing in deep, ragged breaths as she fought to control herself. Moving back as he advanced again, she placed a hand on his chest to push him away.

"Lucas".

"What about me Peyton". He asked lifting a hand to her cheek.

Closing her eyes, she shook her head, as memories from the past few months flitted through her mind. She was too hurt for this. Raising her head, she looked at him hungrily trying to store his image to memory. She still loved him, no matter what she was going to do.

"I don't care, I love you, but I don't care... not anymore". She whispered. With that, she choked back a sob and left as quickly as she had entered.

xx

He was alone again, and this time he was sure it was unchangeable. Of course, he had tried to chase her, but according to Brooke, her bags had been in the car already. He was her last stop before the airport, did that mean she did not think he would try to stop her. Not that he had, once again his stupid pride had the best of him.

Instead, he did the one thing he could... he waited. Eventually weeks went by, then days, then a year, and still no sign of the woman who held his heart.

No one ever talked to him about her either, not that he had not tried. All he received from his questions were raised eyebrows, shakes of the heads, and a change in topics. They all spoke to her frequently and visited her occasionally. The only one left out of her life had been him, she had not been joking when she said she was letting him go.

Peyton had been true to her word. She had run from him, only this time she stayed away, and every day she was gone he seemed to die a little more. He needed her, and without her, he could not function.

So now, a year later he took ridiculous midnight walks in the rain, because she once said it was peaceful, he drove through the occasion red light as a reminder of one of their first talks, and every now and then, he chased after a blonde woman with long, tanned legs, hoping it was her.

... However, his hope was always dashed.

He was pining for someone he had lost years ago, and had given up the hope of ever moving on. Instead, he lived a monotone life, and never gave himself away to anyone.

Not feeling the water on his skin anymore, he looked up at the clouds and noticed the rain had stopped. Just like her, the soothing water seemed to have left him, and he sighed as he let himself in the house.

Walking to his bed, he could not be bothered to change out of his wet clothes. As he lay down, he stared at the ceiling, wondering whether he would ever be free of feeling like this. Closing his eyes, he made a vow to himself.

If she ever returned, he would not let her go again.

xx

I can't return to you
you must return to me
that's the deal
I'm sorry
did I say I'm sorry

xx

Another month passed, and still he was moping around the house. Haley had made him promise to come to Jamie's party that day, so here he was finishing the wrapping on his nephews present. He was sceptical, no matter how much he loved Jamie and his family; they were always treating him as if he would break.

No one ever mentioned her name, and if they did, they would end it with an apology. Therefore, he smiled and pretended to be okay, while inside his mental counting of how many days she had been gone would continue.

'402' so far, and slowly his hope was beginning to diminish a little more. He hated himself for it, but he could not help it. How could he hold on to someone who was never going to be in his life again?

Instead, he finished the wrapping, got dressed and left for the party. Moving to his car, he faltered as a car passed by. He would bet his life on that being her car, but he had to be wrong. She was gone, travelling the world, definitely not here in Tree Hill.

Looking at his watch he noted the time, ten to twelve, he needed to hurry if he was going to be on time, so stepping into his car he turned the key and listened to the old engine come to life. He loved this car, every once in a while, when he felt particularly down, he would drive off; listening to the mix tape she had given him years ago.

P.S Whatever

Somehow, those few letters had become his lifeline over the last year, and he treasured the CD more then anything else he owned. It was hers, and it was from before everything had become ruined beyond repair.

Parking the car on the driveway, he moved towards the door, not bothering to knock, as it was always open. Sighing he fixed a false smile onto his mouth as he entered and moved through the house, greeting his friends in the back garden.

Jamie was pleased to see him. His nephew was the only person who seemed to be able to lift his mood. It was a shame because he seemed to be slowly pushing everyone else away. Keeping his head down he moved through the back yard, stopping by the table of drinks.

He noticed the stares and rolled his eyes. Sure, for the first month of her leaving, he had frequented the bar a few times. Unfortunately his family had even forced him to go to the resident AA meetings, which he found ridiculous. After insisting he did not have a problem and successfully quitting for a few months, he thought he was allowed to have a drink.

Was it not a celebration? So reaching for a beer, he took a large gulp and let the cool liquid trail down his throat. It failed to stop the cramping inside he was feeling. He had grown accustomed to the empty feeling over the months, now he could ignore it, but for some reason today, it was worse.

That was when he realised. Lately days had not mattered to him, they all seemed to bleed together. It was a Friday. Spinning around he let the bottle fall from his fingers, as he tried to ignore all the questions being fired at him. Closing his eyes, he turned back to the table and leant heavily on it. His friends were used to this ritual, every Friday he would stumble, and then gain control back.

Suddenly the hazy fog in his mind disappeared and he noticed the voices had silenced. Then his nephew shouted out, leaving him cringing and the hope to fill his chest, threatening to burst it.

"Aunt Peyton".

Ignoring the greetings from his family to the blonde woman, he kept his eyes closed, and tried to control his breathing. He must be dreaming, something was playing a terrible trick on him, and he wanted nothing more then to wake up. After all, he had, had this dream before, and it always hurt more each time he awoke.

"Lucas", the voice said behind him.

Slowly he let go of the table and began to turn, noticing the concerned faces of his friends, then they faded away until all he saw was her. She was back... Peyton Sawyer had returned. She was even more stunning then before, her hair was a slightly darker colour with blonde highlights running through, while her tan seemed to be making her skin glow. The green, summer dress she wore accentuated her eyes leaving him breathless for a second.

Looking into her piercing eyes, he swallowed sharply as his words escaped him.

"Luke", she whispered stepping forward.

Shaking his head he moved towards her, arms open and pulling her towards him, holding on as if his life depended on it. Suddenly he could breathe again, and his life seemed to be moving forward once more.

With one hand in her hair and the other on her waist, he rested his chin just above her shoulder, closing his eyes as they threatened to tear. Moments passed as the two blondes were reunited with each other, when suddenly Peyton pulled away and Lucas opened his eyes sharply.

Was she regretting going into his arms. Noting her confused look, he turned away and walked into the house, afraid that if he had stayed she would have said it was a mistake. He was a coward, and now he was the one running away. Stopping he went to turn and move back outside, when he noticed footsteps coming towards him. Instead, he waited, after all that was what he had been doing it for over a year.

"How are you", she asked, wincing at how that sounded and thankful his back was turned.

"Okay... you?"

"Good, I... I'm good".

Nodding he rubbed the back of his neck and turned towards her. This conversation was not getting them anywhere.

"Luke..."

Holding a hand up he stepped forward, as his mind made the decision for him to say the things he needed to.

"Sorry... I just... I missed you".

"I know".

"How?" He asked confused.

Nodding towards the backyard, she smiled softly, "We had an agreement, they could tell me about you, but..."

"... not the other way around", he interrupted sounding bitter. "Why... why was I not allowed to know how you were?"

Sighing she moved away to stand in front of the widow, watching her friends through the glass huddled around and talking. She had an idea her and Lucas were the topic of conversation.

"Peyton".

"... Because I didn't want you to know, I missed you. I wanted to do this... to move on."

"Did you?"

"Not really, I tried so hard... but I couldn't." she said turning to look at him.

"What does that mean?"

"I don't know".

With that, she walked to the door leading to the party outside, but halted as Lucas spoke again.

"Are you staying"?

"For now".

Watching her leave, he stood rooted to the spot. He had, had another conversation with her, which he had been craving for a year, but it had not gone as he had planned. After all, if she was not staying, he was going to have to continue to live without her.

xx

in a verse where all is flat
you hunkered down and relived the past
you're leaving soon
it's 10 till noon
I see a black car
I'm moving through tar
when we're apart

xx

Months passed until finally Peyton had been in Tree Hill for nearly four. She had not left yet, which to him was a sign that maybe he could gain her back. He still needed her, and slowly they had begun to form a fragile friendship. It was not as strong as before, but he hoped they would get there.

Once again, it was raining and this time he found himself standing on the River Court staring at the figure seated on the bleachers. Maybe this was another sign he had been searching for. Moving towards her, he took a seat and sat quietly waiting for her to speak.

"I love it when it rains...," she whispered so quietly he had to strain to hear."...it's so peaceful, and for a second everything seems like it will be fine."

"You hate storms though".

"Yeah, the thunder can be a bit off putting", she replied a small smile gracing her lips.

Nodding he looked over at her. She was wearing his old sweatshirt, which made his heart beat faster. This was definitely a good thing; he just needed to not make a mistake.

"How's your music". He asked deciding to keep the topic safe.

"Good... great, actually. I have five artists now, you erm... you know one of them actually."

"Mia".

"No."

"Haley".

"Okay you know three of them then", she said raising an eyebrow at his guesses.

"Well unless my brother has started to sing, which would not be good, I have no idea".

"Chris..."

"Keller. You can't be serious".

"Actually he's different. Once you get over his ridiculous innuendos and threaten him with bodily harm, he's actually fairly good to work with."

"I suppose everyone changes", he sighed as he looked away.

"Yeah". Moving to stand she stepped off the bleachers and went to walk away but stopped as he spoke.

"Peyton", he said getting her attention as she turned back towards him. "Did I ever tell you I'm sorry"?

"No".

"Well I am... I'm sorry, for everything".

"Me too".

Standing he walked towards her and reached a hand out to cup her cheek, the rain beginning to soak through their clothes. "You have nothing to apologize for, you were right to leave. I didn't see it until now, but you being gone made me realise how much I need you".

"Luke", she sighed.

"I love you. I'm sorry I never said it sooner and you don't have say it back... you don't even have to feel it. I just wanted you to know... I love you Peyton."

Nodding she smiled as a few tears began to roll down her face. Stepping back, he watched her walk away, his heart breaking with every step she took. He knew she would never say anything back to him, but she looked like she regretted him saying anything.

He walked slowly home, and once again found himself soaked to the bone, lying on his bed and staring aimlessly at the ceiling. His thoughts were interrupted by a knock on the door, and he waited for the intruder to enter. He did not expect though an equally drenched Peyton Sawyer to walk into his room crying.

"You idiot", she exclaimed.

"What?" he asked standing from the bed?

"I left to move on... you were meant to move on..." she said trailing off.

"I couldn't. I made a mistake Peyton for letting you leave; I'm not doing it again."

"Luke..."

"I love you, and I'm going to keep on saying it. I'm not afraid anymore."

"I love you too" she sighed closing her eyes. The next thing she felt were his lips on hers and his hand in her hair. Pulling him closer she sighed as for the first time in ages she felt like she belonged this was home.

Losing himself in her, he kissed her with everything he had, hoping the love he felt poured into her. This was what he missed, he needed her, and for the first time in over a year, that dull ache was no longer a resident of his heart. Instead, he felt hope... and love. This was it, his final chance, and he was not letting her go again. She felt like home, and he loved her.

xx

I have been the worst of kinds
a sorrowed heart
a cluttered mind
and I'm thinking' that I could change this
that I could change this
but I can't change this

xx

He proposed a month after they told each other how they felt and announced to their family they were together. Of course, everything had gone to plan, and Peyton had even cried when he got down on one knee in the centre of the river court.

Candles had lit the entire place... until it rained... but rather then be upset she had smiled, and when asked, simply whispered that the rain cleansed her. After that, he loved her more, which he did not think was possible.

Of course, he had also proposed on a Friday, with his mother's ring. The one that belonged on Peyton's hand and would stay there forever.

They had, had an enormous party thrown for them, courtesy of Brooke Davies of course. The brunette, since finding out had been on a mission. Organising and scheduling took place, and they set the wedding for two months time. Peyton's idea, the fact that she just wanted to be his wife and it did not matter how they did it, was her excuse.

He was not that bothered either. A huge church, a simple small wedding, even Las Vegas could have been the venue. He just wanted her. Peyton Scott, he had dreamed of that name since he was a child and finally it was coming true.

His writing had returned and he had, had another two novels published since she had come back to him. His muse.

Somehow, Lucas Scott had stopped crashing and Peyton had saved him. She was the one he had with him when his dreams came true. She was the only one he had ever needed, and now she was his forever.

When they set the official date, he had wanted a Friday, which she had agreed to. She understood his deep-set need to make the awful day, one filled with new memories... good memories.

Although until she told him he had not realised she hated Fridays as well. He had proposed that day the first time. Obviously, they needed to reinvent it, and what better way to do that then get married.

The time passed quickly and with every ones help, they secured the lake as their venue. It was after all the first time she spoke to him. It held a special place in their heart, and when the minister could not make it, only one other person would suffice. Haley agreed, and was ordained by a web page. It still amazed him what a person could find on the Internet.

Standing on the alter he noticed he did not feel nervous at all. Instead there was calm about him, he was destined for this.

Since meeting, Peyton Sawyer and Lucas Scott were meant to be together. They were just fulfilling the things they were meant to accomplish. To him they were living the dream. Watching her walk the aisle towards him, his breath held in his chest and the smile he gave quieted the voice in his head, which echoed that one phrase again.

'You love her'.

This time it was not destructive, because he did. He always had. When it came to the vows, he almost let his tears fall as she said hers, then it was his turn, so taking a deep breath he spoke the words he had known for years.

"Peyton, ever since we were in school I knew you were meant to be mine. You never strayed from us all those times I did, and I'm sorry I wasted so long... but you believed in me and gave me the strength to chase my dreams. I just never realised until it was too late, you are my dream, and you always have been. You returned to me Peyton, and I promise you, everyday we are together I will be grateful for that. I love you Peyton, always have, and always will. This is it for me. You were always the only one I needed, and I want to spend everyday of my life being able to call you Mrs Peyton Scott".

A collective group of 'awe's' sounded out and he reached out a hand to wipe away her tears. Hearing his best friend, and minister announce he could kiss the bride he wasted no time.

He had waited too long for this moment. Smiling he pulled away and turned to walk past his family with his new bride. She was his forever, and never again was he going to let her go. Fridays were no longer days of loneliness and pity, instead they brought hope and he had succeeded his dream.

Peyton Sawyer was now Peyton Scott... forever.

xx

I can't return to you
you must return to me
that's the deal
I'm sorry
did I say I'm sorry
I'm sorry
I'm sorry now

I can't return to you
you must return to me
that's the deal
I'm sorry
did I say I'm sorry
I'm sorry
I'm sorry now
did I say I'm sorry
did I say I miss you
I'll do what I have to do

xx

A/N: Let me know what you think.