A/N- Hey guys, this is my first story so I hope you like it! I don't think its going to be very long...only a few chapters I think.

It is set during 4.09 (seems like a long time ago). Everything up to the whole "It's you" speech is the same except that there is no Daunte and Lucas did take his HCM medication. This first chapter is mainly repeating what happened in 4.09 but that will change.

Disclaimer-I do not own One Tree Hill


Love.

It can mean nothing, everything and anything in between. Love can be defined as a deep feeling of sexual desire and attraction, or a score of zero in tennis or squash. It can be a term of endearment and applied to the most banal and ordinary of objects whilst all the while it can be the most important thing there is.

And then there was the type of love she was enduring. It wasn't the stuff of fairytales or novels. Nobody created great works about what she was enduring. There was no cure or solution, only the torture of knowing that she was alone in her emotions; that whilst she pined he continued living his life, blissfully unaware. It was the type of love that breeds self loathing and self pity, the sort of love that made you want to hate who you felt it for but, at the same time, made that hatred impossible. There was no storybook ending, only tears and pain on her part and ignorance on his. This was the love that nobody was taught about and certainly nobody fantasized about. It wasn't romanticized but instead ignored.

Nobody wanted to hear about the unrequited love. There was never a "happily ever after" to follow so what's the point of it anyways?

Peyton Sawyer saw something recently. "Love life and life will love you back. Love people and they will love you back." She'd never read so much bull.

She wasn't quite sure how she'd gotten so cynical so quickly. Once upon a time she was all sarcasm and skepticism. Brooke never ceased to complain about her "loser rock" that seemed to mirror the turmoil she hid behind complex layers apathy and indifference. But that all changed over the past year and a half. Ever since he came into her life she'd been increasingly less doubtful and bitchy. She trusted more and mocked less. That wasn't to say that her quick wit and cutting remarks had gone but they had softened. Comments that were once meant to hurt had turned to playful teasings. She found herself starting to believe in fate and destiny, something which he had taught her about.

It took Lucas Scott one syllable for her to turn back to the old Peyton. As soon as the sound fell from his lips the wounded look flashed through Peyton's eyes and her walls began to rapidly rebuild.

She'd just declared her love for him and he couldn't find it in himself to come up with a better reply than a shocked "oh" and, after an awkward pause, a half hearted mumbled excuse about them being friends. She remained silent and hurt, furiously rebuilding the barriers she had torn down for him.

And then, true to form, he did what people seemed to do best when confronted with Peyton's love.

He left.


Brooke Davis wasn't renowned for being patient, or gracious if things weren't going her way. She was feisty and possessive and sometimes fiercely loyal, as long as it wasn't her that you had crossed.

Peyton used to love this about the brunette. Her independence and charisma made up for whatever intelligence she lacked. That wasn't to say Brooke wasn't bright, because she was, but it was a sort of street smart, not book smart.

Slowly, however, Peyton had come to fear the brunette. She was the one who had the power to take away her happiness, it seemed that way since Lucas had come into the picture anyways. What had started out as "Lucas and Peyton" swiftly and irrevocably turned to "Brooke and Lucas". Now Peyton tried to convince herself that Brooke need not be feared, but instead ignored or bitched at. Brooke had, after all, gotten what she wanted: a heartbroken Peyton.

But Brooke just sat in shock as Peyton told her that she had been struck by some sort of brave, or insane, impulse and told Lucas how she felt, and he hadn't reciprocated at all.

"You can smile now."

But Brooke didn't smile. A flash of recognition clouded her vision as she looked at the blonde and realized that Peyton had been just as broken by Lucas as she had.

That thought left her mind as quickly as it came in. It was replaced by a far truer statement.

Peyton had been broken by Lucas more than Brooke ever had.

Brooke looked at the girl she'd once called her best friend with a look of pity and regret. Peyton had been so unfortunate in her 17 years of life. Two dead mothers, two absent fathers, one runaway ex-boyfriend, one ex-boyfriend who had been with her purely for sex and some twisted form of companionship, a psycho stalker, a gun shot, drugs, abandonment….Lucas. And then Brooke realized she was a part of that mix also. She had left Peyton and, although she couldn't quite imagine them ever reconciling and becoming what they once were, she suddenly let go of the grudge she held. They were even.

Peyton Sawyer had paid her penance. There was no karmic imbalance. Brooke didn't have to punish her anymore for anything.

If anything Brooke Davis began thinking that Peyton Sawyer really deserved to catch a break.


"You said 'oh'?" Skills asked incredulously. "Hold on, Peyton say she's in love with you and you said 'oh'?"

Lucas let out a strained breath as he tried to reason with Skills, and himself.

"Nice work player!" Skills joked and Lucas just shook his head as though that was all the reasoning that was necessary.

"She caught me by surprise, what was I supposed to say?" Lucas argued.

"Not 'oh'!" Skills returned and Lucas only shrugged half heartedly despite the fact that he knew Skills was completely right. Anything would have been better than 'oh'. "Ok, what else did you say?"

"I…I mumbled something about us being friends…and then I left." Lucas broke Skills' gaze. He was particularly ashamed about that part of the evening. He knew Peyton and displays of emotions didn't exactly go hand-in-hand. He knew that she was crushed every time she reached out. He knew she thought "People always leave" and she believed herself to be the common, toxic ingredient in that formula. And yet, when she reached out, Lucas pushed her away and he did something he promised never to do to her.

He left.

He had tried to reason with himself. She wouldn't have wanted him there anyways. He couldn't be "that guy" for her on this one, much as it pained him. She would have wanted him to leave her in peace. He wasn't leaving her; he was letting her let him go.

He shook his head and let out a little snort of angered laughter at himself. He knew Peyton better than that. She would have been embarrassed but since Brooke left her, he was her closest friend. She needed that and he knew it.

"And you believe that? That you and P. Sawyer are just friends?" Skills snapped him from his reverie.

And Lucas tried once more to rationalize. Things had never worked out for him and Peyton and he had had to let that fantasy go. Reality wasn't always as appealing but it was necessary.

"She's just a little confused." He knew the words weren't true on some level. "She's had a hard year and I happened to be there to rescue her a few times."

"So maybe you the one who's confused!" Skills accused and Lucas could only shoot him back an odd stare. Peyton loved him, not the other way around. It was her feelings that were dubious, not his. "Because you didn't just happen to rescue her a few times. You didn't just happen to run back into school that day or save her from psycho Derek. Peyton happened to be there, but you chose to be there. So…maybe you ought to think about that."

Lucas was stumped because Skills, struck by some moment of clarity and wisdom, had provided an insight that Lucas had missed as he replayed his relationship with Peyton back in his mind. Peyton didn't orchestrate these situations so that he would save her, but as they happened he was, without fail, her knight in shining armour. She didn't choose him to play Superman to her Lois Lane, he cast himself in that role. He insisted on being there for her perpetually.

Lucas threw the last of his clothes into the gym bag and nodded slowly before walking out of his door with Skills at his heels, unsure of what to do or say.

Because this was the way it was with them. One of them pushed while the other pulled, and sometimes they lost each other, sometimes they worked there way a little bit closer and sometimes one of them managed to forget.

But it was still always there.

Always.


The orange sphere flew majestically through the hoop as though it was as natural as breathing.

The final buzzer went and a collective gasp of air was released, either in triumph or in sorrow depending on your team.

Today somebody won and somebody lost.

Lucas Scott fell to his knees.

The Tree Hill Ravens had just won the North Carolina State Championships. He had scored the deciding basket just before the buzzer. Everything blurred for a second. The lights seemed brighter and the world became rose-tinted.

So this is what euphoria feels like?

The roar of the crowd filtered through and Lucas found himself being lifted by a mob of people. The confetti rained down upon them and it felt to Lucas the way the snow had felt to Peyton when she described it as they sat in the library. Their world had been taken away and replaced by another one…a better one. A town that once shunned him embraced him like he was their pride and joy, well now he was their pride and joy. The brother he once denied existed came up and they shared a moment. There was recognition, respect and familial love that passed between them. They did this together and nobody could take that away from them.

Brooke sought him out and grabbed him into a hug. He'd felt encompassed and appreciated and…platonic with her. She smiled that famous Brooke Davis smile. They both laughed as she sputtered his name whilst ridding her lip of the confetti that had landed there. It felt right for her to be there as his friend again. They'd overcome the drama and the jealousy. They'd outgrown their ill-fated relationship and they'd moved past the insecurities and heartbreak. They had each other's backs.

And then she said something that Peyton once asked him about.

"This is a dream come true!"

And he agreed because it was, it all was. He looked around and soaked it in because he knew that dreams like this didn't happen everyday.

"So who do you want standing next to you?"

Lucas' eyes snapped back to Brooke and she looked at him with a knowing smile. She was playing fairy godmother and she loved every second of it. She nodded over to her and time stood still. He wasn't sure what that meant.

She looked radiant. Her blonde hair was pulled back into a neat ponytail and she wore a genuine smile on her face. She stood on her own in a mass of people doing what he had just seconds previously. She absorbed it all because she knew moments like that were rare. She knew sadness like no other, so she appreciated greatness and happiness like no other. She was still the girl with those legs and a tangled mess of hair but she took on more than that, because she was Peyton Sawyer, the tortured artist, loner cheerleader, riddle wrapped in a mystery inside a bitch.

And she was right there, hands reaching out, collecting the falling paper like it was going to melt. And she was naïve and ingénue whilst having seen more of the world than anyone should have to at 17. And she loved him.

"Go! It's ok!" And he smiled at Brooke, because she knew, maybe she'd always known, that those two blondes were fated or star-crossed or whatever the hell it was that meant that she couldn't get in the way. She didn't want to anymore.

So he gave the brunette one last squeeze and walked over to his other girl. Well, she wasn't really his, and she certainly wasn't the "other", but timing had never been their thing.

She looked at him and couldn't find it in herself to be a bitch. It killed her to know that when all was said and done, after today things would go back to the way they were in her bedroom, but she put that aside for right now because this was bigger than her. She'd soldier on but right now she was a part of something incredible and he had been instrumental in that.

And it hurt and it was fresh, but he was worth it. She could stop being the girl who had become so dependent on him tomorrow, but right now they shared a dream together.

"Nice shot!" She finally shouted out and he smiled.

"Nice legs!" He replied quickly and she blushed. "Little chickeny!" And she laughed. Despite everything she laughed because it was Lucas and she had to laugh.

They walked towards each other until he enveloped her. She threw her arms around his neck and buried her head there, savoring the smell of his cologne mixed with sweat and the feel of his arms. She took in the way that she fit so perfectly there, and the way he cradled the back of her head just so that they could be closer and she could feel safer. He in turn appreciated her soft skin and the way her hair smelt like vanilla and lavender. He relished in the fact that she was so delicate and gentle with her touch even though he knew she was holding on to him for dear life.

And then, much to his chagrin, she pulled away. He could see the glisten in her eyes. The love, respect, admiration and sorrow that she felt, and it killed him that he'd conflicted her. He wanted to fix her and make her better and be with her.

That last one shocked him, or at least he told himself it did. Honestly he had a voice telling him he'd known it all along.

But she couldn't keep falling back into his arms. She needed to breathe without him because now he knew the way she felt it was all too much. She didn't even think about the words that slipped past her lips before it was too late.

"I'll be seeing ya'."

She turns and walks away because she can't let him see the tear that meanders its way down her cheek and stops at the corner of her manufactured smile. She lets herself get enveloped by the crowd, joining in celebrations that suddenly feel hollow.

Because not only does she want him there when her dreams come true, but she wants him there when they don't. They aren't really dreams without him anyways.

By the time he's done reminiscing and starts calling her name she's gone, swallowed by a sea of people that then move to engulf him. He gets swept back up into the furor of the crowd but he's acutely aware that something is missing and he's acutely aware that that something is her.

But timing has never been their thing and last night she pushed and he pulled away, so she doesn't harbor any hope anymore.

He feels it now though, and he's pushing because she's his dream just as much as a state championship is.

But she's done pushing. In fact she's pulling away from him with all her might.

Once again they missed each other by a breath.

He's pretty sure that as soon as she turned away from him they lost each other.

And he doesn't know how long it's going to take this time until they try to find their way back.

That's if they find their way back at all.


The Monday after the championship game the town was still buzzing. It was as if nothing noteworthy or at all memorable had ever happened there before. All the good and bad that had previously plagued the population ceased to exist for the time being. There were no school shootings that shook the town, or almost championships from 18 years ago. The only gossip circulating was that of the Scott brothers and their magnificent win.

Well, almost everybody was caught up in the fever. Peyton, however, was abstaining. A stupid game didn't seem as important as avoiding Lucas at all costs.

She'd managed to do quite well so far. Her usual place next to him at lunch remained empty and she'd avoided him in the halls, ducking into the odd bathroom or closet so as to avoid him. They hadn't shared any classes so far that day so that hadn't been a problem.

Her next lesson was though. English. It was one class she shared with Lucas, along with Nathan, Haley, Brooke, Rachel. Skills and Mouth.

"Lucky me" was running through Peyton's mind as she rolled her eyes, took a deep breath, and pushed into the classroom. Fortunately she'd gotten there early enough to find an inconspicuous seat at the back of the room, hopefully away from everyone.

Peyton had decided it was time for a new group of friends, a reinvention as such. She'd lost Lucas and Brooke, both out of her love for the boy, Nathan was Lucas' brother and Haley was his best friend (she'd also been sort of sucked in to the whole "Team Brooke" side of things). There was Mouth, Skills, Junk and Fergie but they'd all grown up with Luke out on the Rivercourt, and Rachel (although she wasn't much of a friend to begin with) was Brooke's roommate.

She refused to get left behind because of a rift that she'd unintentionally created. Peyton couldn't keep as close to her friends because they all loved him too, and they loved him more, and so she'd be left out when it came to nights out and nights in, or start up games at the river court or lunch or whenever else they all were just together. Because she couldn't be with him anymore, she was far too proud, and she wouldn't make them choose because she'd just be hurt and rejected. She settled on taking herself out of the equation. People ended up better that way anyhow.

Brooke was the first of the group to enter the classroom after Peyton had settled into her corner. She eyed Peyton with a hint of sorrow in her glance and once more Peyton had to roll her eyes. Brooke wasn't proud of "winning" Lucas anymore and she honestly had wanted him to pull his head out of his ass long enough to take note of Peyton and how perfect she was for him. But he didn't notice or didn't care despite all of her pushing on Friday.

Slowly the rest of her class filed in, obscuring the gaze between the two ex-best friends.

Peyton wasn't sure if she was relieved or annoyed at that.

"What's up P. Sawyer? You ok?" Skills planted himself next to Peyton and she smiled, although it was rather unconvincing.

Inside she was dying of shame just a little bit.

She could hear the concern that laced his voice and she knew that there was a hint of pity thrown in there. Once again Peyton was conflicted. On the one hand she wanted to cry and let herself be comforted because she was so far from alright she was in another universe somewhere, but on the other hand she wanted to scream and say that she was above being looked at like she was terminal or like somebody had just killed her puppy.

She settled on watery look at Skills that told him all he needed to know.

She wasn't going to break down. She was stronger than that.

She wasn't going to reveal any more feelings. They'd gotten her in trouble enough.

She didn't, or couldn't, hear about Lucas. She had to cut him out so she could be a whole person again.

She couldn't deal with the small talk or a façade. It hurt her too much.

She had to form her own side now and she sure as hell wasn't going to let them all pick. They were all "Team Lucas" without even having a choice.

She wasn't going to fight for them. It wasn't her place to make them choose sides for her actions.

And she certainly was not ok.

When Skills looked at Peyton all he saw was a martyr. Not only had she given up the love she held for Lucas twice so that he could be with Brooke (although that hadn't ended well either time), but she had given up Lucas after trying to accept how she thought he felt about her. And now she was giving up her friends who she needed so much so that Lucas wouldn't be without them and they wouldn't be compromised. So when she turned to him with a million and one things running through her eyes informing him of what she couldn't say, all he could do was nod and send her back a look reassuring her that they all loved her. She just nodded and broke their gaze, returning to gazing out the window.

Skills stared at her head for a few more moments. He wanted to be there for her in every way that he could, but this was Peyton they were dealing with. She wouldn't talk about her rejection because it hurt her far too much and she had far too much pride and shame. The two people who could possibly comfort her weren't exactly viable options. She'd reverted back into her shell and there was no coaxing her out.

Lucas walked through the door just before the bell went. He caught Skills' reproachful gaze and tried his best not to feel guilty.

Looking at Peyton's profile shattered that resolve.

Over the few days Lucas had had since the game and Peyton's proclamation he hadn't really had much time to think and order his thoughts.

So the nights became the time when he did his thinking and so far it wasn't going so well. He kept on coming back to what he'd said to Skills before the Championship game.

"For a long time I thought we might be something more, it just never seemed to work out, you know? So at a certain point you just have to face the fact that…it's not meant to be."

His mind, like a vulture, insisted on circling that statement until he'd convinced himself it must be true. All that he'd been feeling at the game had merely been the effects of an adrenaline rush. Of course there were some residual feelings that he held for Peyton, but it was nothing more than his schoolboy fantasy had ever been. There was nothing more or nothing less on the romantic front. Of course he loved her, she was his friend, but that love was platonic. At the game, where tensions were running high and he wanted somebody to share his great moment with, she was there and she loved him so he was drawn to her.

That was his rationalization anyway.

In reality, when he saw the unapologetically apathetic look on her face and worse, in her eyes, he felt more worried than a friend would.

But Lucas Scott miraculously continued to have the capacity to convince himself otherwise.

Somehow he had managed to repress all of the feelings that had overcome him on Friday night when words had escaped him.

He had the words now and they went something like this:

Lucas Scott and Peyton Sawyer are not meant to be together. They aren't fated and it wasn't written in the stars. They may find their "happily ever afters" but not together.

They've missed each other by a whisper far too many times for anything else to be true.


Ok! Hope you liked it!!

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