I own nothing, just like I don't own "SuperStar" by Taylor Swift.

I haven't done and NP related anything in a very long time. It's a litte AU, but for the most part things are the same. Everything in season 3 and 4 happened except anything NH related and LP never got together, but the shooting still happened and Psycho Derek.

The songs a little too specific, but I really thought about NP when I first heard it. Also, thanks to Sheena (smc-27) for the encouragement to write this; hope it's not disappointing!

I also wanted to post this sooner, but I've been sick with like a million and one different things. So, sorry for the unknown delay haha.


This is wrong but I can't help but feel like
There ain't nothin' more out there
Misty morning come again and I can't
Help but wish I could see your face
And I knew from the first not played
I'd be breaking all my rules to see you
You smile that beautiful smile
And all the girls in the front row scream your name

Peyton wraps her sweater around herself before looking around the quad. He's ten minutes late, though she really shouldn't be surprised. Punctuality was never his strong suit.

Plus, it's basketball season and Coach K is working the team like dogs; his leading point guard especially. They've also got an away game coming up and he always pushes himself harder for those weekends. It amazes her that he has time to breathe. She's also pretty lucky that he spends his free time with her.

She looks at the watch on her wrist (ironically a gift from him) and sighs loudly. He's only ever on time for his practices.

"I'm sorry!" he shouts as he jogs in her direction. "I'm sorry, I got held up and –"

"Don't worry about it, Nathan", she says with a smile. "I've only spent fifteen minutes in the cold October air with just this thin sweater to keep me warm", she mumbles playfully. He rolls his eyes and reaches out for her.

"I can take care of that", he smirks that infamous smirk and pulls her into his arms. It's really considered a bear hug and she's sure she should be suffocating, but Nathan handles her with a gentle strength – if that's even possible.

She smiles and rests her head against his chest; she breathes in his scent.

They've been inseparable since their junior year of high school. It all really started after Haley left and Nathan went into a downward spiral heading for either alcoholism or death. Most of them were freaked out by the Nathan that was rearing his ugly head, but Peyton was kind of accustomed to it. She dated him for two and a half years and he wasn't always the perfect guy Haley morphed him into.

And so she was nursing a double broken heart and he was dealing with his wife leaving him and his mother entering rehab and they bonded from it. Then the summer came and Haley came back and Lucas called their relationship a mistake and the blonde and the brunette clung to each other even more. It wasn't always easy because they still fought, but Nathan was more willing to talk things over and Peyton was more open with her feelings and they were the only ones to see the other person like that.

When Nathan left for his training at High Flyers he told Haley it was over and that the easiest way to move on was to sign the annulment papers; she left town after her name was on the dotted line. Peyton kept Lucas at and arms length and he couldn't understand why, which only infuriated her further.

With two of the biggest pieces of their lives gone Peyton and Nathan depended on each other for virtually everything. But it was okay, because they trusted the other person with that responsibility. Senior year was tragic in the typical way that Tree Hill is. There was a school shooting which resulted in Peyton being shot and Keith dying and that really set off a chain of events. Lucas and Brooke broke up (the insecure brunette was convinced Lucas loved Peyton) Karen revealed she was pregnant and Dan came forward as Keith's murderer.

Nathan and Peyton wanted out of that craziness so when they graduated they had their sights set on Duke, Nathan for obvious reasons and Peyton because she didn't really want to be anywhere that he wasn't. Brooke went to California and Lucas stayed local to help his mom out. And a month into the school year they all seem to be doing just fine without each other.

Peyton's fine because she has Nathan at her side.

"I'm starving", he says as they start to walk down the leaf filled pathways. Peyton rolls her eyes. "Practices are tough, I need to keep eating to keep my stamina up", he says simply.

"You don't have Kerry to keep your stamina up?" she tries not to sound bitter or resentful – really – but she knows she failed. Nathan gives her a look and Peyton turns her head.

"Actually no, we broke up or ended whatever we were", he mumbles while shaking his head. Ever since his failed marriage Nathan's been a bit of a commitmentphobe. He's really just afraid of being left alone again, but of course he doesn't say that to anyone. Anyone other than Peyton.

"Your meaningless string of one-night stands?" Peyton supplies innocently. Nathan chuckles and throws his arm around her. "Are you laughing because you know I'm right?"

"I'm laughing because . . . Yeah actually", he finishes with a hearty laugh and it has Peyton laughing as well.

They walk down the street and both of them draw stares. Nathan, because he is who is he and Peyton because she's walking down the street with his arm around her shoulder, it also helps that she's blonde and has legs for days.

Nathan holds the door open for her as they enter the small diner that they frequent. It's the closest thing they have to Tree Hill. The waitresses smile and wave and Nathan and Peyton show themselves to their regular booth. It's odd that they've only lived here for a couple of months considering how well known they are. But that's really because of Nathan.

"I can't believe you're leaving me this weekend", Peyton pouts as she takes a bite out of her burger. Nathan smiles at her and shakes his head; he's amazed at how much she can eat. "And what time are you leaving to go practice?" she asks knowingly.

"It's just the weekend", he assures her. "And I'm going back to the gym at six", he says meekly. Peyton huffs and looks at the clock on the wall. Two hours.

"Nathan, don't you think that sometimes you push yourself – never mind. You're you; of course you push yourself hard."

"It'll all be worth it in the end, Sawyer. I'll be in the NBA and you'll be able to say you knew me way –"

"Way back when. You were the scrawny freshman begging Whitey to put you on the court", she teases. Nathan smiles smugly and folds his arms over his chest.

"Even better than that, you'll be able to say you used to date me", Peyton rolls her eyes and chuckles at his ever present confidence.

"I'll be sure to tell all the gossip columns about our younger years and the crazy –"

"Crazy sex we had?" Nathan cuts her off. Peyton chokes on her drink and looks around to make sure nobody heard him.

"Nathan Royal Scott", she gasps out. He smirks smugly and she shakes her head. "It was not crazy", she mumbles.

He folds his arms over his chest and raises his brows. "It was pretty damn awesome though. Don't deny that", he counters.

Peyton blushes profusely and tucks some hair behind her ear. This was a terrible conversation because now all she can think about are the times she and Nathan spent in her bed and his bed and their cars and the showers and . . . she really needs to stop.

"Are you blushing?" he teases. "Good God, Peyton Sawyer's blushing", his jabs continue and Peyton kicks at his leg from under the table.

"How's your mom doing?" she asks in a desperate attempt to change the topic. Nathan groans and closes his eyes.

"Way to kill the trip down memory lane", he grumbles. Peyton smiles and he plays with his napkin while he answers. "She's good though. She's excited for us to come home for Christmas."

The curly blonde smiles. "She does know it's over a month away, right?"

"That sounds an awful lot like a person whose dreading going back", he teases. "Have you talked to Lucas?"

Peyton raises her eyebrow and shakes her head. "You know I haven't. Lucas and I aren't as close as we used to be . . ."

"Don't you think it's time to let him up off the mat?" he asks delicately. Peyton's mouth drops and she stares at him incredulously.

"Says you! Nathan you didn't talk to him for months after he went to see Haley."

"That's a totally different scenario, Peyton", she shakes her head and looks at the table; Nathan sighs. "Can we not do this? I have to leave soon and I don't want to fight about something that doesn't even matter."

Nathan pays the bill and they both walk outside. While out on the sidewalk he looks at her and smiles sadly. Peyton looks at the sidewalk and knows she's acting a little immaturely, but she has her reasons for not really talking to Lucas.

"Come on", Nathan says softly. He pulls her in for a tight hug and when she squirms he holds her tighter. "Nope, not letting go", he insists.

She whines and groans and bites her bottom lip until she can't anymore and her smiles breaks through. "Nathan, let me go!" she yells. His grip doesn't loosen in the least and she starts to laugh. "You're crazy! Let me go, you goof."

"Promise you're not mad?"

"I'm not", she swears. They're drawing stares again, but this time it's because they're two nineteen year olds acting like kids on the sidewalk of a popular street. "You're going to be late for practice."

"Alright . . . I'll see you Sunday night for dinner?"She nods and punches his shoulder playfully.

"Of course, now go! And I don't need to tell you, but good luck", he smirks and lets out a little chuckle. He leans in and kisses her cheek before sending her a wink and walking down the street.

She watches him leave and feels a dull ache in her heart.

It never gets any easier watching him walk away.

So dim that spotlight, tell me things like
"I can't take my eyes off of you"
I'm no one special, just another
Wide eyed girl who's desperately in love with you
Give me a photograph to hang on my wall

"And sporting number twenty three, your favorite point guard, Nathan Scott!"

Peyton smiles as his name is announced and when all the girls that are rows behind her scream for their lives she rolls her eyes. It's so typical; they probably don't even follow the game. They just want to see Nathan.

He jogs out to the center of the court in his warm up suit and waves to the crowd. He searches and finds Peyton sitting exactly where she always does. He doesn't know why he bothers look around. He sends her alone wave and a wink and she can feel the other girls bore holes right into her. But she doesn't care.

Because the butterflies in her stomach are doing somersaults.

He plays amazingly (which is far from surprising) but she loves watching him in action. It's different than on a TV or online, his passion and dedication are obvious and she smiled the entire game. Even when Nathan was pushed to the ground.

She's waiting for him in the stands. She knows the procedure by now. The boys head to the locker room for their usual talk and then they step into the showers before they leave. She's been waiting for Nathan for years; if she didn't learn a thing or two it would be absurd. She's lost in thought and doesn't hear him as he walks across the court.

"So, how'd I do?" he asks with a smile. Peyton snaps her head around at the sound of his voice and she rolls her eyes at the smirk he wears. He knows damn well that he played an amazing game.

"You were alright, number twelve was on fire though" she teases. Nathan scoffs and takes a seat beside her.

"Twelve sat on the bench the whole game. Just like he does every game", he mumbles and Peyton whacks his shoulder.

"Be nice", she scolds. Nathan sends her an apologetic look and shrugs his shoulders. He doesn't really know why he feels guilty. The guy isn't even around. It's just something about Peyton...

"So, one of the frats is throwing us a party", he starts to speak, but Peyton automatically shakes her head. "Peyton –"

"Nate, me and Duke parties don't really mix", she mumbles. He furrows his brows. "I'm just tired and I don't feel –"

"What do you mean, you and Duke parties don't mix? You've gone to them before."

"I've gone when I knew I could be around you for most of the time", she tells him honestly, no matter how pathetic it comes off. "And I don't know ever since junior year I haven't been so interested in their parties."

"Okay, I'm still confused", he says as he shakes his head and stares at her. She lets out a long breath and faces him completely.

"Junior year I came to a Duke party with Brooke. It was right after your dads basketball party and everything had kind of blown up in my face . . . long story short, I got slipped a date rape drug –"

"What?!? Peyton, why didn't I know about this?"

She shakes her head. "I don't know, maybe because it's not something I like to think about?" she says defensively. "Nathan nothing happened and Brooke called Lucas so . . ."

She keeps talking, but Nathan stops listening. Of course Lucas was there to save the day and he was the unreliable ex-boyfriend. The one who couldn't be trusted to come to the aid of his former girlfriend. Even if he was trying to get on Haley's good side at the time, he would have been there for Peyton.

"Nathan?" she says his name softly.

He shakes his head and looks over at her. "Do you have any more secrets from high school?"

She doesn't like the hostile tone he uses or the way he makes it sound like an accusation. She gives him a scathing look and stands from the bleachers. Nathan watches her walk away until he realizes that he isn't that guy anymore. He doesn't watch girls walk away; let alone the girl he cares about.

"Peyton wait!" he yells as he jogs down the bleachers. She doesn't stop, which is expected, and so he runs a little faster. "Peyton, come on!"

She shakes her head and her heels clack against the hard floors of the gymnasium. Right now she wants nothing to do with Nathan Scott. He's so predictable in how he acts that she doesn't know why she's even mad about this; she should be use to it.

He finally gets close enough to cup her elbow and have her stop and face him. She pulls her arm out of his grasp like it's just burned her and he tries not to be offended. He watches as she folds her arms over herself in a typical defensive pose and he sighs.

"I'm sorry", he says sincerely. Peyton rolls her eyes and shakes her head. "I mean it, I am", he assures her.

She knows he's being honest and she knows he understands why he's apologizing (even though she's not too sure herself). It's just difficult that he's so angry about something that happened years ago. Something that happened when they weren't even together!

Peyton runs her hand through her blonde hair and looks at him pensively. "Nathan, why do you even care?"

"Because, Peyton . . . because", he says a little softer than he started. Nothing more is said from him and she's okay with that. She's not really too sure where he was going with that sentence, but she's glad that he never finished it.

"I . . . thank you for apologizing, but – let's just forget about it, okay?"

He doesn't want to forget about it, but he will because she wants to. So he nods his head and throws his arm around her shoulder and they walk out into the parking lot together. There's just a little chill in the air now and it makes the upcoming holiday very much a present thought.

"What were you thinking about before? When I first came up to you, you were kind of spaced out", Peyton lets out a breath and looks up at him with a small, timid smile.

"Trying to figure out what to make for Thanksgiving", she says simply. Nathan doesn't know if he fully believes her, but he nods his head and smiles anyway.

They're not going home for this holiday because Karen and Lucas are going to New York to celebrate with Andy and his family. Brooke's out in LA, Larry's out on a job, and Deb never really liked the holiday. So instead of going back to Tree Hill, Nathan and Peyton are going to spend it with his teammates and their girlfriends at Coach K's house. Peyton thinks it's nice that he's so close with his team.

"I like sweet potatoes", he mutters. She nods and sighs and leans against him for all kinds of support.

"Then I guess you better make some", she teases lightly. He scoffs and rolls his eyes.

They both know she'll make some.

They both also know that he is going to help her.

Morning loneliness comes around
When I'm not dreaming about you
When my world wakes up today
You'll be in another town
And I knew when I say your face I'd be
Counting down the ways to see you
And you smile that beautiful smile
And all the girls in the front row scream your name

"Do we have to do this?" she asks softly as they exit his SUV and start their walk up to the Roe household. Nathan chuckles and grabs her hand in an effort to drag her along. She struggles at first until he interlaces their fingers and sends her a demanding look. This isn't really something she should be fighting.

"Can you grow up?" he asks playfully. She pouts and sighs loudly and Nathan laughs until a smile breaks through on her lips. "There we go", he says softly.

Nathan raises his hand and knocks on the wooden door and Peyton holds her breath until it's answered a minute or so later. When she sees Lucas's face she freezes, but then Nathan's squeezing her hand and Lucas looks jealous and maybe she can get through this night.

"Hey guys", he mumbles. Nathan nods while Peyton looks indifferent as always. She also looks gorgeous as always, he can't help but to notice. Her green sweater and tight jeans along with her knee high boots are doing wonders for both her body and his imagination. He quickly shakes his head. He doesn't have a right to think those things; he never really did.

No other words are exchanged because Karen and Deb come to the door and between hellos and hugs and kisses the teens are ushered inside and Lucas is handed their coats. Nathan doesn't let go of her hand until they're pulled in opposite directions.

The boys spend their time in the living room watching whatever game is on and yelling at their perspective teams through the television. The girls handle the kitchen duties. Karen's glazing the ham while Brooke checks on the roasted asparagus and Deb's working on her famous stuffed mushrooms and her hot apple cider.

Peyton's multitasking. When she first came into the house she scooped a seven month old Lily into her arms and since then the baby has refused to be put down. So Peyton's stirring carrots and taking sips of her cider all with one arm. She doesn't mind though, this little girl is an absolute doll.

She sits down for a minute when the heat of the kitchen causes her cheeks to flush, Karen notices and takes Lily from her arms before telling the blonde to get some fresh air. Peyton walks down the hallway and past the living room where all the boys are enthralled in whatever's on the screen. Except Lucas; he notices as she walks out the door and the second it's closed he gets up.

Nathan watches him leave with a frown.

He like being around the people he's grown up with because they don't treat him any different. To all of them he isn't the player with the most points and he isn't the freshman that beat the odds and he doesn't have to work so hard to be around them. They're his family and he can be normal around them. But he didn't think he'd have to play referee between his brother and Peyton.

As much as she doesn't want to admit it, she's missed being in Tree Hill or maybe she's just missed the company. Karen and Deb have always been great to her and she's missed Brooke since the brunette moved to LA for school this past summer. And then there's Lucas . . .

"Hey", he says as he steps out onto the front porch. Peyton turns around and offers him a small smile. They haven't exactly been friends for a few years, but it's a holiday and she's at his house so she should probably be polite.

"You look nice", it doesn't exactly sound like he's hitting on her, but he's obviously paying her a compliment. And he's not saying it just to say it, she does look nice. She smiles again and Lucas sticks his hands in his pockets. "So how's school?"

Peyton sighs, "Lucas –"

"No Peyton, I miss being in your life. I know I'm probably a little late with saying this, but –"

"Yeah Lucas, you are! And that's not my fault, okay? You're the one who told Brooke that we were a mistake. You're the one who distanced themselves from me for the rest of high school", she says angrily.

"Things were complicated; with Brooke and then everything else. Plus it was too hard seeing Nathan be the guy that I wanted to be", he ends softly. Peyton closes her eyes and pinches the bridge of her nose. This isn't really the conversation she wants to be having right now.

"Lucas I told you I would be forever thankful that you came back into the school that day and I'm still so sorry that you lost Keith because of it –"

"I wouldn't change that, Peyt", he whispers sincerely. Her eyes fill with tears that she's desperately trying to hold back. She can't let him get to her. He rests his hands on his hips and looks down; "I've missed you."

"Lucas, I feel like you think we're this epic romance", she whispers painfully. She opens her eyes, but Lucas is still looking at the porch and that kind of breaks her heart. He believes in this, in them, so much. But there isn't a them and there hasn't been anything between them in a long, long while.

"You don't?" he argues softly. That's when he lifts his head and Peyton feels the porch closing in around her. He takes a step closer, "Peyton?"

"No", she answers honestly. "No Lucas, I don't."

He stays silent and Peyton becomes very silent. This whole thing just got a lot more uncomfortable. She would go back into the house, but she'd have to walk past him and that would just be awkward. So they both stay where they are for the time being.

"Hey Luke, there you are, your mom needs you for something", Nathan's voice causes Peyton to snap her head in his direction. Lucas looks at Peyton and then his brother and sighs before walking past Nathan.

The brunette closes the door behind him and he puts his jacket over Peyton's shoulders. She smiles at him and slips her arms through the sleeves. They both stand in silence until Nathan looks at her and he lets out a breath.

"I figured you needed a way out", he mumbles with a smirk. Peyton laughs and leans against him. She groans as she thinks of the way things just went.

"His words should be illegal"; Nathan laughs and shakes his head. "I'm serious", she says softly.

"I don't doubt you", he assures her. On a whim he places a kiss to her forehead and squeezes her closer to him before saying, "Dinner's probably ready by now."

Peyton's too lost in her own world to answer him and Nathan doesn't seem to notice her change in demeanor as he takes her hand and leads her to the door. There's just something about the way Nathan did that – so simply and easily – that has her heart fluttering. Maybe she can start an attempt at blurring the lines. They've been friends for so long, but she wants more.

She thinks that maybe she's always wanted more; she just hasn't known it.

They all eat together in the dining room and they tell stories from the past and talk about their present lives in school and whatever else they're doing. It's fun to be around everyone, even Lucas. He's not so intense in a public atmosphere, maybe it's because she told him there wasn't anything for him to pursue.

After dinner and desert are eaten and the dishes are taken care of they all move to the living room with their tea or coffee and the few cookies they still want to eat. They don't exchange gifts because the kids are so old, but Peyton's gotten Lily a small gift. Karen and Deb are telling Peyton all about how well TRIC is doing, but there's always a place for her when she comes home for the summer. Peyton smiles and thanks them all while gently bouncing Lily on her lap.

Nathan's on the other side of the room with Lucas and Andy (Karen's boyfriend). He's nodding his head at something the older man's just said while he looks around the room. Brooke and Julian are standing near the window all cuddled together and couple-like; she had told Peyton that it was still new and not a big deal, but it looks like it could be a very big deal in the future.

He catches eyes with Peyton and the curly blonde smiles and sends him a wink before focusing in on her conversation once more. He smiles at how natural she is with Lily and when Peyton makes her wave at him he reciprocates and smiles widely in order to make her laugh. She does and so does Peyton. Nathan's never really considered how Peyton would be with a baby or children, but he thinks she looks perfect.

And he doesn't really know what that means.

So dim that spotlight, tell me things like
"I can't take my eyes off of you"
I'm no one special, just another
Wide eyed girl who's desperately in love with you
Give me a photograph to hang on my wall

He lets himself into her apartment with the key he insisted he needed. When she asked why he told her because he was going to need to check on her randomly and because he might need a place to hide out from crazy obsessed fans. She laughed at the time, but didn't argue with him.

The first thing he notices is that it's incredibly quite and that's really creeping him out. It's never quiet in Peyton's apartment. She's either always listening to the radio or her records or the television . . . there's always some background noise. He knows it's not the case, but his mind goes back to their senior year and the night she was attacked, it was the same night as their prom.

She got mad at him for something (having sex with Brooke when they were broken up for five minutes and making a tape about it) and was refusing to go to, but he was going to make her. When he showed up her door was locked and everything was silent. Long story short, he was halfway down the block when he turned around and used her backdoor, he found that psycho attacking her again and he kicked his ass, again.

"Peyton!" he calls out. When he gets no response he starts up the stairs. "Come on Peyton!" he yells some more. He gets to her bedroom and opens the door – because he's seen it all before – to find her passed out in bed with a box of tissues and a bottle of cold medicine right next to her.

He chuckles softly because he knows how Peyton is when she's sick and it's completely unbearable. Regardless, he walks into her room and sits on the very edge of her bed. He leans down to press his lips to her forehead and his hand gently cups her cheek.

"God, you're burning up", he mutters to himself. He gets up and cleans her room a little before walking down stairs and making some tea and soup. He grabs a garbage can and puts a new bag in it before grabbing the tray of food and heading back upstairs.

By the time he's in her room she's staring to stir and after he sets the tray down on her desk she's awake and staring at him. He smiles meekly and sits next to her.

"What are you doing here?" she asks with a rough voice.

"I called you twice to see if you wanted to walk to class together. Then I texted you to see if you wanted coffee, again I got no answer. When you didn't come to English I wanted to make sure you were okay", he says simply.

"I'm sick", she whines. Nathan nods and chuckles while he brushes her hair away from her face. "Nate, you're gonna get sick, you shouldn't be here", she says. A coughing fit takes over just as she finishes talking and he shakes his head.

"I made you some tea and soup. I brought your favorite movie up here and the garbage can has a new bag in it for your tissues. You may not want to admit it, but you need someone to take care of you."

She pouts adorably and sniffles her nose – which is even more adorable. "But you have practice later tonight", she mumbles.

"Coach will understand; he loves you", Nathan assures her. She opens her mouth again, but he cuts her off. "You're fighting a losing battle, Peyton. My minds made up."

She huffs in mock annoyance and rolls her eyes. "Fine, but don't complain if you get sick."

He scoffs and puts the DVD into the player before walking over to the tray. "Do you want your soup?" she shakes her head. "Tea?" she shakes her head once more. "Alright . . . and since when do I complain?"

Peyton's mouth drops and she sits up in bed. Nathan knew what her reaction would be; he just wanted to see it for himself. "Nathan Scott, are you kidding me?"she asks rhetorically.

He shrugs his shoulders and scoots her over to the other side of her bed. He takes off his sneakers and climbs in despite to warning look she's giving him. The movie starts and Nathan gets comfortable while Peyton slowly migrates over to him.

"You know you're terrible when you're sick", she whispers. He smirks softly and presses his finger to his lips in a shushing manner. Peyton coughs a little and reaches across him to grab some tissues. Nathan can feel her body heat and it's still higher than normal.

"Take this", he whispers as he grabs the bottle of ibuprofen. He takes two out and hands her a glass of water. Peyton smiles as she does as he's asked and when he places the glass on her nightstand she's still smiling. "What?"

"If only people could see you now. Taking care of your sickly best friend . . . totally goes against the superstar image you've got going on", she teases. Nathan rolls his eyes, but doesn't respond. He looks at her walls and smirks when he sees a certain set of pictures.

"You really hang them up?" Peyton groans softly because she can hear the smirk he's wearing. "No, it's . . . cute. Kind of creepy, but cute", he laughs when she whacks his chest.

"You're the one who sends them to me!" she cries out.

It's true; every time he has an away game he sends her a picture. It all started as a joke back when they were dating and before she was on the cheerleading squad. Nathan would leave her a different picture of him playing ball before every weekend. When Peyton joined the squad that wasn't needed, but once they were at Duke Nathan was leaving for the weekends without Peyton all over again. So he always made sure to mail out the picture so that she would get it on a Saturday and it could hold her over for the next day.

He was joking around with her and Peyton knew that, but she always taped them to her wall anyway. So in a small section of this red bedroom there are various pictures of Nathan from the time he was fourteen years old. She can't really explain why she does it, she just does.

"Still creepy", he grumbles. Peyton simply laughs and nestles herself into the crook of his arm. Nathan sighs as she gets comfortable and he places a kiss to the top of her head. Nathan feels like he could get used to this. It's weird because he and Peyton spend a lot of time together, but they're never cuddly like this. Usually they're downstairs on the couch fighting over what to watch. Or she's in the kitchen and he's watching on with a smirk because she stubbornly refuses help.

The more he thinks about it, the more they sound like a couple.

But they're not, obviously. They're just Nathan and Peyton, two kids who have been through hell and back. And they've been able to cling to each other through it all.

"You love it", she mumbles playfully as she rests her head on his chest. Nathan doesn't respond because maybe he kind of does love it. Nothing more is said as the opening credits finish and the film begins.

He doesn't leave her place for the next few days except to go to class and the store. She's been getting better every day and they both think it might have something to do with the fact that she's had company. Nathan makes her eat soup and drink plenty of fluids; if she was home alone she'd be under the covers with a box of tissues next to her for who knows how long.

"Who knew you were so paternal?" she teases. They're sitting in her kitchen eating chicken soup and Nathan laughs.

"I can tell you're getting better", he comments. Peyton raises an eyebrow in interest. "You're getting bitchy again."

Peyton's mouth drops a little and she throws a cracker at him. They both laugh and Nathan smirks because she hasn't put forth an argument about what he's said. That either means she just doesn't care or she knows he's a little bit right.

"Seriously though, thank you for staying here the last few days. I owe you", she smiles at him and picks at roll she's eating with her soup. He smiles too, but shakes his head.

"How do you plan on repaying me?" he asks cheekily. Peyton snorts and shakes her head. Nathan wiggles his eyebrows in an attempt to be, Peyton doesn't really know, but he looks like a dork.

"In your dreams."

"If you only knew", he mutters loud enough for her to hear. "But I don't get sick, so you won't really have to worry about that", he's casual in how he says that and Peyton wishes she could tell him different. His minds made up; according to him, he's invincible.

When he gets the flu a few days later, she doesn't have the heart to tease him.

And she doesn't leave his bedside.

You played in bars, you play guitar
I'm invisible and everyone knows who you are
And you'll never see you sing me to sleep
Every night from the radio

Peyton's walking around her kitchen with the radio on, chicken cutlets cooking, and a smile on her lips. She's listening to some of the Blue Devils talk to the radio host about their season and their hopes to make it to the State Championship. Its part of some press junket that the coach and some other people set up.

She doesn't really know why it was needed. Basketballs the most popular sport in the state especially near Duke and UNC, it's something everyone in town looks forward to. They come to Nathan and he's asked the typical questions: did he always want to play? Why has he stuck with it for so long? How does it feel to be the only freshman on the team?

He answers accordingly and passionately and Peyton's smile widens. It's great that after everything, he still loves the game so much. Just as she's flipping another piece of chicken her front door opens and Nathan strolls in wearing a button down and carrying another in his hand.

She's shocked at first, so she merely stares at him. His hair has some product in it and he's wearing a nice pair of jeans . . . she wonders what's going on. He holds the black button down right next to him and stands in front of her while asking;

"Which one?"

Peyton shakes her head, "What are you doing here?"

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, you're on the radio. How are you here?"

Nathan smirks and shakes his head – not really knowing why that matters. "It's recorded, you goof. We taped that this afternoon."

Peyton makes a face of recognition and turns her attention to the browning chicken. Nathan stares at her as she pays him no attention and he clears his throat. "Nate, hang on a second", she says without turning around.

When she does look at him, he's pouting and that makes her roll her eyes. "Oh please", she mutters. "Wear the black; it goes better with your jeans and the converse. I'm glad to see my taste is rubbing off on you", she teases.

Nathan laughs as he unbuttons one shirt and slips on the other. He buttons the shirt and tosses the other one into her living to which she lets out a noise of disapproval. He ignores her – of course – and then takes a seat at the kitchen table.

"So, what's on the agenda?" she asks mostly because she figures she should. She assumes he's going out with the team – they've had a long day together. Or maybe (and she's aware it's a long shot) he's coming over to tell her that he's taking her out. Whatever she may think, she definitely doesn't expect him to say;

"I've got a date." Peyton leaves her chicken and looks at him with a surprised expression. "It's with this girl I met at the radio station, she seemed nice."

"That's nice", Peyton says while looking at the stove. Nathan furrows his brows. He wasn't exactly expecting a party to be thrown, but he was expecting a little more.

"That's nice?" he questions softly. Peyton turns to look at him as he stands from the chair and stares at her.

"What do you want me to say? Nathan you have a date, it's not like you won the Heisman", she mumbles. He shakes his head and walks into the living room.

"You know, I get that you don't need to throw me a party, but you don't have to act like such a bitch", he says snidely. Peyton's mouth drops.

'"Oh, screw you, Nathan", she spits out. He puts his hands on his hips and narrows his eyes.

"Seriously, why are you acting like this?"

"Because Nathan . . . because", she mimics his argument from months prior. He can feel the way she's saying her words, but he needs to hear her actually say them. "Because maybe I'm mad", she whispers.

"Why would you be mad?" he asks in the same soft tone that Peyton's just used. She simply shakes her head and looks to the floor.

"I meant mad that I haven't had one in a while", she whispers. He knows she's lying because she won't look at him. He starts to say her name, but she cuts him off. "Nathan, I meant what I said."

"I wanna talk about this."

"Well I don't", she tells him forcefully.

"Well it's a good thing I'm more stubborn then you are", he says as he folds his arms over himself.

"You have a date and I have to finish dinner, so just go", she mutters and turns back to the stove. Nathan stands there for a few minutes while she ignores him the entire time. He doesn't want to leave, but she's right. He has a date and he doesn't want to be rude and stand her up.

He doesn't say anything as he walks out the door.

Once it closes behind him, she puts her head in her hands.

Her dinner is forgotten that night in favor for crawling into bed and watching old basketball tapes from high school years. It seemed easier then. Either she or Nathan were a couple or they weren't. Either he was being an ass or she was being a bitch. They didn't have these versions of themselves to deal with.

She's watching some tapes from when they were all younger and things were different when she hears the downstairs door open and heavy footsteps coming up her stairs. She knows who it is – he's the only one with a key – she just doesn't know why he's here.

She watches him walk into her bedroom and he meets her eyes while he kneels down next to her. Neither of them says anything for a while and then Nathan tucks some hair behind her ear and sees the dried tear tracks on her cheeks.

"I couldn't stop thinking about what you said", he admits softly. Peyton tucks her hand beneath her head and closes her eyes. "I went to the bathroom and set and alarm so it looked like I was getting a phone call and I needed to leave."

Peyton cracks a smile and Nathan chuckles quietly. "What's going on, Sawyer? And don't say it's nothing", he warns.

The blonde takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly. She could still lie, but that would drag this entire thing out for longer than it needs to be dragged and at this point she wants to have this conversation and be over it. So she does something she hasn't really done in a while.

She's honest.

"I like you, I think more than like you. But you're my best friend and you're all I have here and I don't know; I didn't want to say anything, but . . ."

He climbs over her and rests his hand on her hip. He looks at her wall and then back at her and she can see the smirk he wears, even in the darkness of her room. "So do you lay here at night and stare at my pictures?"

She whacks his chest and laughs loudly. "Jackass", she mutters. "Where do we go from here?" she asks quietly.

"Maybe it's time to try something new", he says softly. "Or actually, maybe you'd be old", he mumbles. Peyton laughs again.

"Even though you're this big superstar basketball player who could have any cheerleader – any girl – he wants?" she asks playfully.

"I want a girl that doesn't really see me like that", he whispers. They both know he's talking about Peyton and so she smiles sweetly and he kisses her forehead. "And maybe I want one that I kind of like too."

"So this is it?" she whispers. He nods his head and leans in close to kiss her lips. It's quick and sweet and neither of them realized that they missed kissing the other so much.

It might be weird that they didn't have a long drawn out talk, but that's never been like them. They both go on instincts and feelings and right now this is what they both feel and want. So it's good enough for them.

And it feels kind if perfect in its own way.

So dim that spotlight, tell me things like
"I can't take my eyes off of you"
I'm no one special, just another
Wide eyed girl who's desperately in love with you
Give me a photograph to hang on my wall

Peyton sits on the edge of her seat as she watches the game before her. Duke's down by two and there's only twenty seconds left. They need to pull through and win this. Of course, she has no doubt in her mind that they will. Especially with Nathan on the court.

Speak of, he's got the ball in his hands and he's running down the court at full speed and Peyton knows the things that are running through his head. He may be the freshman on the team, but that just means he's got all the more to prove. He sidesteps a player from the other team and there's just ten seconds left when he makes it to his side of the court.

Peyton's holding her breath as the ball leaves his hands.

The buzzer sounds at the same time the orange ball swishes through the net and everyone in the crowd goes wild. They've just won the State Championship. Peyton screams and jumps up and down and hugs some girls that are sitting with her in support of the boys.

She runs down onto the court and pushes her way through to find Nathan. She congratulates some of the other players in the process and when she finally finds her boyfriend she grins and runs into his waiting arms.

"Congratulations!" she says with a grin. He lifts her off the ground and her legs lock around his waist. "You did so good!"

"Are you surprised?" he asks in his typical cocky attitude. He loves that she doesn't care that he's all hot and sweaty and that she just jumped into his arms to celebrate.

"Never", she mumbles before placing a kiss to his lips. He smiles and holds her a little closer.

Things have been really great for them over the last few months. They went back home for a weekend and Deb wasn't surprised in the least when they told her they were a couple. She told them that mom's just know these things. Peyton called her dad at sea and he merely told Nathan to take good care of her and that he was happy for them both. Karen smiled and winked and hugged Peyton closely before telling Nathan be better treat her good. Lucas was a little shocked, but after his conversation with Peyton at Christmas he'd done his best to let go of what he thought they had. When Peyton called Brooke she screamed and yelled and told Julian that she'd always known her best friend was meant to be with Nathan.

The most important thing to both of them is that they've been happy. They're either always at her apartment or always at his and things haven't really changed; they just make out and do other stuff now. It's interesting, starting a relationship with your best friend. It's one of the scariest, but also one of the most rewarding things that could ever happen.

Of course they argue and they're both still incredibly stubborn, but compared to when they were fifteen and sixteen, they talk a lot more and they take their relationship much more seriously. They're older now and wiser and they realize just how important it is to be mature in a relationship.

"Don't bother showering tonight", she whispers seductively just like she did all those years ago – its okay that some things haven't changed. Nathan wiggles his eyebrows and smirks privately before placing a kiss to her lips passionately.

"I love you", he says without giving it a second thought. Peyton's eyes snap open and she sucks in a breath. Nathan looks the most nervous she's ever seen him. He doesn't know if he's just made the biggest or the best mistake.

"I love you too", she whispers. Nathan laughs and grins and he spins them around as confetti falls from the ceiling. They've got a whole new reason to celebrate now and he feels like this is even better than winning the State Championship.

Peyton thinks this is the happiest she's ever been. She's got Nathan and he's her best friend and her lover and quite possibly the love of her life. She knows they're in a gymnasium full of people, but it's like they're the only two that exist right now and she thinks that if this feeling never goes away she'll live a very happy life.

Later that night they're in her apartment with Chinese takeout right near her bed. They're both tangled in the sheets and Peyton's drawing invisible hearts on his bare chest. He's twirling her curly hair around his finger and rubbing his thumb across her shoulder.

"Thank you", she whispers randomly. She feels Nathan's eyes on her so she looks up and smiles at the confusion on his face. "For deciding you didn't want some cheerleader or a girl you met while you were out. Thank you for picking me, I guess" she mumbles while shaking her head.

"The heart wants what it wants", he says simply. They both laugh and Nathan rests his head against hers. "That was cheesy, huh?"

"So cheesy", Peyton says while still giggling. He rolls them over so that she's pinned beneath her and she squeals while he does this.

"Thank you for staying with me and seeing past all the bluster and bullshit and not minding that I was gone for a few weekends throughout the last few months."

"It gave me time to see my other boyfriend", she teases. Nathan growls and kisses her deeply before peppering her face with little kisses.

"You're a comedian, Sawyer", he mumbles and kisses her again. She smiles up at him and nuzzles her nose against his. "I love you."

She closes her eyes and lets out a content sigh. This is pretty much something she can see herself doing for the rest of her life. She knows it's probably too soon to be thinking about things like forever and always and he's been married before, so there's that. But she doesn't care because she feels it deep down in the pit of her soul.

"And thank you for being the love of my life", he whispers against her temple. Peyton kisses his cheek and then his throat and then finally his lips. She could definitely do this for the rest of her life.

"I love you too", she whispers. "And who knew you were such an insightful basketball star", she teases. He glances at the wall across from them quickly.

"I was thinking we could hang a different kind of picture on that wall", he says suggestively. She laughs loudly and pushes him away from her. He smirks and pulls her to his side while dropping a kiss to the top of her head.

He knows it's too soon to be thinking about words like forever. But he is. He knows that after the way his first marriage ended he should swear off marriage for good. But he's not. He knows that Peyton was his best friend first and foremost. But he thinks he's always loved her and didn't know it. There's a lot of stuff that he thinks he shouldn't be thinking.

But most of all he knows that if he gets to hear her laugh and wake up next to her body and see her face every day for the rest of his life, he'll be okay.

Sweet, sweet superstar, superstar

Let me know what you think!