I own nothing, not even "Use Somebody" by Kings of Leon. It's really the cover version by Tyler Hilton.

Okay, here's the thing…I suck. I know I've stated this many times, but it's not any less true. This summer was hellish and now that I'm not working 13 hour days, I can focus back on my writing. I also got a new laptop and my trial period ran out for Word…anyway, I'm hoping this is the first in a long line of stories or one-shots I can get posted for you guys.

I hope I haven't lost and readers and if I have, I hope your alerts peak your interest when you see it's me!

Now, considering I haven't written anything in a while I'm sure many of you were expecting an LP related story (I would too) but I found this on youtube and I immediately thought of Chris and Peyton. Background – Everything in season 5 happened, but no phone call to Peyton took place and Lucas is still in his dark place; this is after 5x18.


I've been roaming around
Always looking down at all I see
Painted faces fill the places I can't reach

She's numb. It's sad and pathetic and tragic and . . . true. Her heart is empty and she can barely feel it beat. Clearly she's alive, but she might as well be dead. It's been three weeks and the entire time she's ran on autopilot. She simply goes with the motions.

"That sounds great Mia", she says with a smile. Her one solace is still music. She doesn't have to hide behind a curtain of smiles and promises that she's fine. "Can we try it with a little higher tempo though?" she asks softly.

"You're the boss", the brunette teases. Peyton rolls her eyes and makes a face. She goes to push the button again, but before she does, Mia speaks. "But it's still my album; I know! I think it's a great idea."

Peyton laughs and shakes her head and when Mia sings again, Peyton closes her eyes; she can feel herself get lost in another world. It's one where Lucas hadn't gotten engaged and he hadn't written a second book. He didn't say he hated her and he hasn't locked himself away doing God knows what.

She only opens her eyes again when she feels the tears fall.

"Do you wanna egg his house?" Mia asks. She doesn't know when the teenager slipped into the back room, but she's almost grateful for it. "I know it's juvenile, but who gives a shit", she says with the same attitude Peyton held at eighteen.

"I wanna go back in time", the blonde says with a watery laugh. Mia gives her a look that's sincere without being sympathetic. This is why Peyton likes talking to her about things. She doesn't frown at everything or offer ice cream to heal the wounds.

"Life would be too easy if we could do that", she says simply and Peyton narrows her eyes.

"Stop hanging out with Haley", she says playfully. A thought of Haley leads to thoughts of Lucas and then Peyton's back at square one. She really hates being this girl. "I should get going."

Mia nods her head. "I've got pictures to upload", she says easily. Peyton smiles as she gathers her bag. Mia's just come back from her tour and she's missed most of the stories that have been told.

She's been too busy wallowing.

"Hey rockstar, how about we get together tomorrow and I hear some of these stories", she says and when Mia grins, she feels a sense of accomplishment.

"That sounds great", she says in excitement. "Don't let me forget to tell you about the guy that said he knew Ellie", she warns seriously. The younger girl puts on her leather jack and fixes her hair afterwards.

Peyton nods and feels her heart warm at the mention of her birthmother. When Mia called her about it while she was on the road she was far too distracted to comprehend it all. She knows that Mia has his number and e-mail address and that if she ever does decide to contact him, he'll be waiting.

"Can I get that number now? If you still have it on you", Mia pats her pockets and frowns until she checks the inside one. She pulls out the slightly worn paper and hands it over to the blonde.

"What do you think he knows?" she asks in interest. Peyton's life may have its ups and downs and Mia isn't sure she could live it, but she knows Peyton's strong and she also knows she's used to things of a far off nature.

"Who knows?" she responds with a shrug of her shoulders. She slips the paper into the back pocket of her jeans and walks with Mia to the large glass doors. She flicks the lights off and turns the brass lock.

Another day down.

You know that I could use somebody
You know that I could use somebody

She's at the house with Brooke and the two of them are watching a movie while drinking some wine. She likes the quiet times and she loves spending time with her best friend. She knows this is killing Brooke – not spending time together, but having to sit with zero conversation going on. It's not one of the brunette's qualities.

"Okay, go ahead and start talking", Peyton teases. Brooke fakes a shocked look, but then she smiles and moves so that she's facing Peyton.

"What's your stand on the topic of Lucas?" she asks softly. Peyton does her best to look like she doesn't care (she still hasn't realized that she's not good at that) while she shrugs her shoulders.

"It doesn't really matter –"

"P. Sawyer", Brooke admonishes. "We both know it does . . . I just wanted to let you know that he emerged from his house the other day."

"Alert the media", the blonde snarks. Brooke chuckles and leans forward; she's missed the girl talk her and Peyton once shared – even if this is totally one-sided.

"He's sporting a Mohawk. It makes him look badass, but you and I both know that Lucas Scott and badass do not belong in the same sentence –"

"No, just ass", Peyton mumbles as she puts her wine on the coffee table and faces Brooke. She knows her friend simply wants to catch her up on some of the latest gossip, but she simply can't deal with Lucas.

Her brunette friend chuckles again and takes a minute to gather her thoughts. Peyton stares at her and raises an eyebrow. "What?"

A cough leaves her friends throat and then Brooke bites her lip. "He's sorry", she whispers. Peyton can feel the room close in on her and she does her best not to let her chin quiver.

"Well, that's great", she says and stands from the couch. "I'm not sure what I'm supposed to say to that", she says as she walks into the kitchen. Brooke grabs her glass and follows after her.

"You aren't supposed to say anything!" she promises. "I just wanted you to know."

"But you clearly wanted me to know for a reason . . . Brooke I can't go there again", she whispers. Brooke walks over to where she's resting her elbows against the counter.

"Nobody's asking you to do anything", she assures her once more. "You should just know that he's really sorry", she strokes her blonde friend's hair and rests her head against Peyton's.

"I don't want to know that he's sorry. He should be sorry, but it doesn't matter", she says in frustration. "I just don't want to know anything about him", she wishes it were that easy.

"Well what do you want?" Brooke inquires softly.

What does she want? She wants to be loved unconditionally. She wants to be treated like a princess. She wants to be happy. She wants the version of Lucas that did all these things for her. She doesn't want to be told that she's hated or that she's ruined anyone's life.

"I just want something different", she explains as best she can.

She doesn't know it, but that exact thing is going to happen.

Someone like you and all you know and how you speak
Countless lovers under cover of the street

She hates him. She probably has since she was seventeen years old and he first strolled into town. With his stupid grin and slick charm. She can't stand him, but she needs some more people on her label. So she sucks it up.

She watches as he shamelessly flirts with a girl who is still clearly in high school and her hatred for him grows even more. You would think someone would change after a few years. She slams her pen on her desk and walks out into the crowded nightclub.

"There's this thing I've heard girls say after a night with me", she hears him whisper over the music. The young girl stares at him with her doe eyes and Peyton's stomach churns.

"Why does it burn down there?" she asks casually as she stands behind the two people at the bar. The girl turns around with a scowl on her face and some type of comment on the tip of her tongue, but when she see's that it's Peyton her eyes go wide.

"Ms. Saw . . . Ms. Sawyer", she stutters out. She hops off the barstool and pulls at the hem of her dress to make it longer. "I was just –"

"I don't need to hear it Amanda, just get out of here before I tell Haley", she warns. The petite blonde nods her head and grabs her purse before breezing past Chris. He stands and watches her go while he calls out;

"Do I at least get your number?" when she doesn't turn around, he tilts his head and glares at Peyton. "Thanks a lot Goldilocks."

"Oh grow up", she says while rolling her eyes. She starts her walk back to her office and she can feel that Chris is right behind her. "She was seventeen years old, Keller!"

"Her ID said she was twenty-one", he argues and takes a seat in the chair in front of her desk. "How do you know her anyway?"

"She's a student of mine", she says flippantly. Chris's eyes widen and he leans forward. "She's also one of Haley's, but . . . what?" she asks once she notices him staring.

"You're a teacher?" she rolls her eyes and lets out a puff of air. He knows she's a teacher, he's been in town long enough to learn pretty much everything about everyone. "I mean, I know you're a teacher; I just didn't know you taught at Tree Hill High", there's still a smirk on his face that she doesn't understand, but she wants to smack it off.

"I teach art there three times a week", she clarifies. "What is with your smirk?" she asks once her frustration reaches its limit. He shakes his head and stands.

"I just didn't know that you taught in the same school that Lucas works in. Crazy coincidence", he mumbles and then turns the knob of the studio door.

"You're on in ten and don't forget that we have a session tomorrow", she says instead of replying to his comment. He closes the door behind him and Peyton leans back in her chair.

Just shows how much Chris knows, Lucas doesn't even coach there anymore. He got put on suspension after his outbursts and the fact that he stopped showing up. She still hasn't seen him since that night and she only took the job because she knew she wouldn't see Lucas. She really thinks she's getting better at the whole ignoring-the-fact-he-was-ever-born-act.

When she goes home that night and rants to Brooke about how much she regrets ever taking him on the label and that he's so infuriating she wants to rip her hair out, her friend only smiles

Peyton stops midsentence and stares at Brooke. "Okay I get that you're glad this isn't your life, but I could use a little more than a smile!" she says in aggravation.

"I haven't seen you like this in a while", her best friend comments offhandedly.

"Well, I haven't worked with Chris Keller ever and I haven't seen him in years", she says; a bit of confusion in her voice. "Brooke, what's your –"

"I don't have a point, just observations", she says simply. Peyton groans in frustration and mumbles something about going to talk to Nathan because he'll appreciate her complaints about the musician.

Brooke doesn't stop smiling. She knows that Chris isn't the guy he was – they frequented the same parties in New York – and she's seen Peyton more alive in the last few days then she has been in weeks (even if it's driven by anger).

She thinks that Chris could be just what Peyton needs.

And neither of them knows it yet.

You know that I could use somebody
You know that I could use somebody
Someone like you

The next morning she's nursing a hot cup of coffee and juggling her demos and her purse as she tries to find the keys for the studio. She hears the soft sound of a piano playing and that's when she notices that the doors already opened a crack.

She walks in slowly and sets her things down on the pool table. Chris's voice fills her ears and even though she knows he's a good singer, this blows her away. The only sounds are the piano keys and his melodic voice and it has her heart pounding.

He's playing a cover of a song that she knows well and while she loves the original version, Chris's take gives it meaning. His voice is raw and the piano is powerful. She's never heard him like this before.

And it gives her this feeling. It's something like butterflies.

She stands there for the 3 minutes and 7 seconds that it takes for him to sing and she claps when he's done; from being thrown off, he hits multiple piano keys and blushes. She puts her hands on her hips and tilts her head and he blushes like a young boy caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

"That was really good . . . great actually", she says as she walks closer to him. He shakes his head and she cannot believe this is the same Chris she's been spending the last two weeks with. He's being modest and shy and it's actually kind of adorable.

No, she didn't just think Chris Keller was adorable.

Pigs are flying somewhere.

"Sorry I'm in here", he mumbles. "I wanted to mess around a little", he says and he hits a few chords on the piano. Peyton nods her head, but she's too busy being mesmerized by him. This is the artist she's always looked for. This is the kind of artist that would give her world meaning when she was an angry, lonely teenager.

"That song needs to be on your album", she says without any hint of objection. "It's really great", Chris smirks and Peyton moves to sit next to him on the piano bench.

"It's not even my song", he says with a laugh.

"Apples and oranges", Peyton says with a wave of her hand. "The true test of a great musician is to give him a song that someone envisioned one way and putting a new spin on it –"

"That's not being a great artist, it's being an artist", he cuts her off.

"I wasn't finished. Putting a spin on it and having the audience actually like it . . . don't make me play the boss card. It's going on your album", she crosses her arms over her chest and dares Chris to argue with her.

He scratches his head and smirks at her. "I'm not too sure I'd mind you playing the boss card", he says in that slick tone that usually makes her cringe. This time, she laughs.

And it surprises the Hell out of Chris.

"Let's head into the recording space", she says and stands from the bench. She turns to leave, but Chris grabs onto her arm. When she turns around he's smiling.

"Thanks Peyton . . . for everything", she smiles back and Chris feels something inside of him.

It's something like butterflies.

Off in the night, while you live it up I'm off to sleep
Waging wars to shape the poet and the beat
I hope it's gonna make you notice
I hope it's gonna make you notice
Someone like me
Someone like me

Another week passes and Peyton's sitting in her office with a pen in her hand and a coffee mug to her left. She's got Chris's demo playing on repeat and she can only admit that she loves it. She flips over her wrist and checks the time. She's meeting Chris for lunch in a half hour and she's actually excited.

She's learned that with Chris there tends to be a wall. He hides behind this Slick Rick attitude, but he's really not that guy at all. He's funny and compassionate and talented (though that's something she's always known). And that maybe Brooke was right; he's kind of a great guy.

She signs the last slip of paper and has her last gulp of coffee before standing from her chair. She grabs her purse and the sweater and slips into her heels before heading to the door. But she's soon stopped in her tracks.

Lucas Scott's just walked into her studio.

And she hates herself when her breath escapes her.

"Hi", he says meekly. Peyton stares at him in complete shock and takes a step back. He takes one forward and rubs the back of his neck while he stares at her. Peyton can feel the heat rising to her cheeks.

"Hi", she echoes his tone and then fiddles with the strap of her handbag. She never thought there would be a time when she and Lucas would be this awkward with each other. Then again, Lucas had never told her he hated her before.

"The place looks great", he says in admiration. Peyton smiles because she does whenever anyone compliments her hard work. "I was hoping we could talk", he doesn't form it as a statement; he doesn't tell her they're talking and she has no way out of it.

She takes in his body language and his eyes and she bites her bottom lip. He's silently begging her to talk to him.

"I don't have much time", she whispers. He nods and she nods and then they both let out a small laugh. She sits at her desk and he sits in the chair facing it. She glances at the clock knowing Chris is waiting, but she can't deny Lucas.

She never could.

"I don't hate you", he jumps right into it. She can feel her eyes water and she almost tells him to stop. "I remember the first time I ever saw you; all skinny arms and a tangled mess of hair", he stops and a small smile graces his lips.

"It was hard letting you go, Peyton. It was hard losing you and . . . it was hard seeing you again", he stops and their eyes lock. "And it's still really hard."

She nods her head, but she has no voice. This conversation is week's too late, maybe years too late. Things happen on his terms and when it's convenient for him. Suddenly all the anguish she's felt turns into anger and she doesn't even want to be around him.

"I used to have a dream . . . we were back in LA and in that hotel room and you'd propose to me. And every single time I'd say yes", she pauses and lets out a breath. Her shoulders feel lighter and the world looks a little clearer. "I don't have that dream anymore."

This must be what letting go feels like.

Lucas starts to shake his head. "Peyton, I wasn't –"

"I know, well I don't know, but it doesn't matter. Lucas, you and I are so far gone that I can't even see the people we used to be", she says in a way that she knows he'll understand. He nods and rests his elbows on his knees.

"I can be that guy again", he whispers. She can feel her heart ache as she shakes her head. She stands from her desk and walks over to where he sits. She rests her hand on his cheek and tries to hold back her tears.

"I'm not sure I want you to be", he lets out a breath and she looks away. "I have to go, but you can stay if you need to."

She gets to the door and pulls at the handle before Lucas speaks again. "Is this about Chris?"

She doesn't what that's supposed to mean, but she thinks that maybe it does or maybe it could be. Maybe she doesn't want to have the idea of Lucas constantly hanging over every relationship she ever has. Maybe she doesn't want Lucas, but maybe she wants something more.

"No Luke", she whispers because Chris really doesn't have much to do with her choices. "It's about me."

She gets halfway out the door when she hears him whisper; "I'm gonna love you forever."

She doesn't know if it's a vindictive way of mocking her from their senior year or if it's his way of letting her know he'll always be there; either way she doesn't have much time to think about it. Her cell phone buzzes and she smiles when she sees Chris's name.

"I know, I suck", she says as she presses the green button. His laugh hits her ears and she smiles without knowing. "I'm leaving now."

He doesn't know what's just gone down and she doesn't know if she'll ever really tell him. But she supposes her voice is raw from unshed tears and her nose is slightly stuffy from holding everything in.

"Are you alright?" he asks and his voice is full of concern.

"I'm better than I have been in a while", she says and it's the truth.

And it might have a little bit to do with the fact that she's going to meet him.

I'm ready, I'm ready, I'm ready

I'm ready, I'm ready, I'm ready

I'm ready

They're in the studio late one night working on his newest song. It's been months since he came into town and weeks since she's had that conversation with Lucas and her life is actually kind of put together at the moment.

Until Chris kisses her. Or maybe she kisses him. But she's getting ahead of herself.

They're eating pizza and drinking beer and Chris is pretty much convinced he's in love with her. He may have been since the day he stepped into Tree Hill – not quite – but definitely since she told him how great his version of a song was that one morning.

He's playing funny show tunes on the piano and Peyton's admittedly had a bit too much to drink. Her face is flushed and when she dances around her shirt rides up. He can only notice how gorgeous she is and he's known how caring she can be.

"I'm glad you're not such an asshole anymore." And how blunt she is.

"Well thanks", he says with a laugh. Peyton giggles and sits down next to him. "Is that a compliment?"

"Yes! If you were still a jerk I wouldn't want to hang out with you", she says simply. His heart flutters because she wants to hang out with him. "Play the song", she demands sweetly.

He does as he's told and she loses herself in the song and him. He's pouring his heart into this song and she's watching him as he works the piano. Soon enough, he's watching her and then their eyes lock and he stops playing altogether.

Because he kisses her (or she kisses him).

It's timid and yet forceful. His hand cups her cheek and his other hand finds her thigh. Her body is reciprocating, but her mind is reeling. There's a voice in the back of her head that's screaming that it's too soon. But there's this other voice that's telling her it's not soon enough. And she really likes that voice.

They break apart at the need for air and he shakes his head. He shouldn't have done that. He doesn't even know what's gone on with her and Lucas and there's always Lucas; he's learned in the past.

"Peyton, I'm –"

"Don't apologize", she says with a sincere smile; her buzz is pretty much gone. "Chris, I've –"

"I like you, Peyton. I have for a really long time and I know that Lucas is around and I don't know what's going on with the two of you, but –"

He's stopped shot when she presses her lips to his for a sweet kiss. Her hand cups his cheek and when they break apart, she runs her thumb over his skin. His eyes are the lightest blue she's ever seen and his nose is distinct in a way that's familiar, but so different.

Good different.

"I like you, Chris", she whispers. "And I wasn't expecting to, but I do and Lucas isn't a factor . . ."

For him, that's the green light.

"Well then I'm taking you out on a date, Goldilocks", he says and his little name for her gives her a whole new feeling. Its butterflies and smiles and nuzzling of their noses.

He squeezes her leg and tells her they have a little more business to attend to before they can continue exploring their relationship. He wiggles his eyebrows and Peyton laughs loudly before kissing him one last time.

She thinks that maybe this is what she's been waiting for. Someone to make her laugh instead of cry. Someone to heal her heart instead of breaking it. Some that knows what he wants and goes for it. Someone like Chris.

And she's finally ready for it.

I've been roaming around
Always looking down at all I see

Let me know what you think!