I own nothing, not even "Sincerely Hope It's You" by Edith Backlund.

Amazing song, but I had a difficult time finding one that I like for this one-shot. If anyone has any favorite songs right now or just any songs you think I might like, feel free to send them my way.

Pretty much totally AU, so it's a little different from my usual writing style (I think). I read Nicholas Sparks' book, The Last Song, and it kind of got me thinking. And it resulted in this; different from the actual book, but some stuff is based from it.


( Autumn came fast
Dressed in slow motion

She doesn't want to be here.

This is the absolute last place she wants to be. Actually, if this was the last place on earth, she'd rather be dead then be here. That's how much doesn't want to be here. And she hates everyone that convinced her that she needed to come and visit. She's eighteen years old and has a mind of her own.

But regardless, Peyton's still on some back country road of a town she used to know so well.

She's lived in New York for the better part of four years. Her life there is incredible. She's got friends and the music scene is fantastic. Her aunt and uncle always promised to give her the world, and they always followed through with it. At first it was hard to adjust, but once she was introduced to the underground bands in Brooklyn and the laid back attitude of the East Village, she realized that living in New York wasn't going to be so bad.

Standing on the side of the road, overlooking the river, she can't believe there was ever a time when she dreaded leaving here. She was born and raised in Tree Hill, North Carolina, but before she was supposed to start her freshman year of high school her aunt (her mother's sister) insisted that she needed some stability (her father was always out to see and her mother passed away when she was eight). Once she was in New York, her aunt and uncle were always at some ball or gala or charity event (which isn't about the charity at all). She didn't fail to see the irony.

But she was going to make the best of what was – at the time – a terrible situation. She made friends and joined her school's cheerleading squad just because her red headed best friend insisted she needed to. She didn't go out and get wasted every night (even though it was a possibility) and she avoided drugs at all costs. She wasn't interested in being a totally rebellious teenager and she didn't want to make things difficult for her current guardians, but that doesn't mean she was a ray of sunshine.

Her room in the penthouse apartment was deep red and she always had some kind of "creepy drawing" – as Rachel deemed them – tacked to her walls. She was sarcastic and didn't conform to the typical life that most fourteen to eighteen year olds indulge in. She was on the cheerleading squad, but didn't care much about it. She went to prom, but only because Rachel made her. And the only reason she went to her graduation ceremony was because her guidance counselor told her she would be missing out.

And she's been bitter. She doesn't let it shine through and she doubts anyone really knows, but she's so incredibly hurt by her father that she doesn't even really want to see him. He wasn't there on her first day of high school and he didn't come to one of the games she cheered at. He didn't take any pictures of her on prom night and he didn't see her walk across the stage a few days ago. She hasn't seen her father in a solid four years and before that it was two years on and off.

He hasn't written. She knows calling is difficult because he can't always get a signal, but writing is easy. All you need is paper and a pen, maybe an envelope and a freaking stamp. And those things are only worth what, forty-four cents? She's not even worth four dimes and four pennies.

Her phone buzzes in her pocket and she unfolds her arms to check what it is. She smiles when she sees that it's a text from Rachel. Have a good time in nowheresville. Tip a cow or two for me. Find whatever it is everyone insists you're looking for and come home to me!

Peyton chuckles and types a quick reply. When she first met Rachel Gatina she didn't think they would get along at all. She wore expensive brand names (Peyton could, she just chose not to) and talked about the boob job she was getting for her birthday. But they had the same sense of humor and liked the same music and for Peyton those two things were enough to outweigh everything else. Also, deep down, the red head had a heart of gold, she was just too use to being burned – which Peyton could definitely relate to.

She watches as a red tow truck pulls along-side her and then to the front of her car. That's probably what she'll end up doing. Some low-paying, low-stimulating job, because she can't figure out what she wants to do for the rest of her life. That's really why she's here. Her aunt and her guidance counselor insisted that she needed to come "home" and let go of her demons – her aunt's words – and find something that interests her or reconnect with the people that knew her before she was supposed to figure everything out – her counselor's words.

So now she's in a town that she hasn't been to in four years and friends – strangers – that she hasn't seen in just as long. She doesn't know if they look the same or if she looks the same and they probably won't welcome her with open arms. She's a virtual stranger to them all. God, she just wants to get on a plane and go back to New York and spend her summer drinking iced coffees with Rachel and watching Owen play football in Central Park and walking along the cobblestone streets of Brooklyn with Julian. Well, not so much the last one because that would be awkward now.

When the truck door slams shut Peyton turns and feels her chest tighten. The boy that's walking towards her is wearing a red shirt and worn in jeans and his hair is messy in a perfect way and she feels like she knows him. She quickly shakes her head and chalks it up to just having broken up with her boyfriend (that boy who lives in Brooklyn).

( Picture perfect
Death row colored world

"What seems to be the problem?" this blonde boy asks her. It takes everything Peyton has not to roll her eyes. What isn't the problem?

"I don't know. It just started smoking and making this really weird noise and . . . it's an old car", she rattles off – she doesn't know why she's rambling.

"It's a classic", he says as he checks out the Mercury Comet. Peyton furrows her brows.

"No, well yeah it is, but I meant that it hasn't been driven in a while; years actually", she mumbles.

Truthfully, the car hasn't been driven since before Peyton was eight. This was her mother's car and after Anna passed away her father had it locked up in a garage on the outskirts of town. When she was waiting in the airport her aunt handed her the keys and a piece of paper with the address for the building that housed the car. Peyton couldn't remember the last time she was so excited for something.

"Right", the boy says and when he smiles Peyton gets all tingly and nostalgic. He checks under the hood and uses the rag that was in his back pocket to touch some things around her engine. She has no idea what he's doing, but he looks pretty good doing it. "Well, I'm afraid I'm going to have to bring it in to the shop. I'll need some more time to look things over and get my dad's opinion."

Peyton lets out a noise of annoyance, but nods her head. "Alright . . . this is just great", she mutters. He looks at her with something like amusement etched into his features. He'd never forget those blonde curls or those never ending legs. Both have gotten better in the recent years.

His eyes catch sight of something in her backseat and without thinking he asks; "You're a cheerleader?" she looks at him and raises her brow daringly. "You just don't seem to be all that cheery", he says quickly.

Peyton takes a somewhat defensive stance and narrows her eyes slightly. This is the posture she's known for and she cannot believe that she's an hour in to her three months here and she's already giving someone this look.

"First of all, you don't know me", she says tightly. "Second of all . . . you don't know me", tells this boy with the most anger that she can muster. He sticks his hands into the pockets of his jeans and shrugs his shoulders.

"I wouldn't be too sure about that", he says softly, but she doesn't hear him. She's on the phone trying to get a hold of a taxi service that can come and pick her up as soon as possible. She tells the person where she is and where she's going and when they tell her it will be ten minutes she's relieved.

"Okay, do I have to sign something?" she asks as she walks over to him. He sighs softly and hands her the clipboard.

"Look, I'm sorry, okay? Don't spend your money on a taxi; I'll give you a lift –"

"Yeah, that's what I want", she cuts him off sarcastically. She signs her name on the proper lines, all without looking at the last name that heads the paper.

"I'll even let you insult me", he says as he takes the metal clipboard from her. Peyton bites the inside of her cheek; this boy knows all the right things to say.

Peyton shakes her head; "Don't worry about it."

He nods his head and looks at her. "Okay well, you can pick up the car in a few days or we'll call you if it's done earlier", she bobs her head up and down and removes her bags before he puts her car on the hook.

By the time her cab comes her car is being wheeled away and she's being taken to her childhood house. Peyton's not sure how long the drive takes exactly, but when she pulls up in front of the big white house with the brick columns she knows it didn't take long enough. She pays the driver and he kindly gets her luggage from the trunk. When she's standing on her porch she's trying her best not to hyperventilate.

Her door is locked which, even after four years, makes her furrow her brows. Her door was never locked in her younger days and she can't imagine why it would be locked now. After finding the spare key in the same spot it's always in, she unlocks her door and steps in expecting to see some kind of life.

The house is dark.

She walks over to the answering machine and sure enough it's blinking. She lets out a sigh when it's her father calling to let her know there's a bad storm off the gulf and he won't be able to get back for at least a week. He mumbles some sort of an apology and a promise that this wasn't how he planned things going. She's honestly stopped listening.

She trudges her bags up the wooden stairs and barges into her room. Her bags fall at her feet and she mutters a curse before kicking them aside. This is just getting better and better. First she has to pretend like hearing her father's voice didn't feel like stepping into a time machine and now her bags are all over the floor and . . . and her room is like stepping into a time machine.

Her breath escapes her as she takes in the red walls and the mounted shelves that hold her precious collection of records. Her bed still has the same orange comforter (the reverse side is pink) and the bear she slept with for years sits in the middle, resting against her pillows. Peyton slowly walks around the room and touches her fingers to the artwork that wasn't exactly perfect, but was way better than anything her friends could have drawn. She spots the photographs that are in their perfect frames on her dresser and those black shelves and beside her bed.

She barely remembers the life she used to love and she thinks it's a shame. She should have kept in touch or they should have kept in touch. But they were only kids and didn't have cell phones or memorize each other's addresses. She picks up one frame that contains herself and five other people, three boys and two girls and she remembers all their names and most of the times they spent together, but she doesn't think she'd know them if she saw them now.

Her phone buzzes again and it's Rachel – finally responding – to the text she sent about tow truck boy. Stay away! He's probably married to his sister who's probably also his cousin. Besides, what about J? Peyton sighs and doesn't bother answering; she needs to unpack and clean this room a little bit, but she's kind of exhausted. So she goes to sleep.

But she doesn't stop thinking about that boy with the red tow truck.

( And the people are singing in the rain
Waving umbrella's
All the people are dancers in the show

Peyton wakes up to the birds chirping and the sun blaring in through her window. With a groan she rolls onto her side, but it's futile. She remembers where she is and it's not New York and so now sleep won't come. Rolling back onto her side, she lets out a yawn and a loud sigh.

What is she even supposed to do until her dad gets back? What is she supposed to do when her dad gets back? She guesses walking around the small podunk town and looking at the things that used to keep her entertained. Maybe she can even stop by the café she used to frequent.

She showers and dresses in a denim skirt and an orange tee shirt before putting on her converse. She leaves the house – not bothering to lock the door – and starts off in a direction that she has no idea where it will take her. All she knows is that she wants to see the sights. She walks around and passes an old tarmac that she remembers well and when she walks across it, she smiles at the names that are spray painted in various colors. She could have been one of those names.

Peyton finds her way to the small café (she got lost for a little, but she'll never tell anyone that). She opens the door and the little bell that chimes makes her smile and remembers a childhood that seems much more long ago then it actually is. An elderly couple heads her way and she waits outside with the door open for them to walk through. The woman smiles and calls her dear and the man tips his hat to her and Peyton thinks that's just the cutest thing. People aren't like this in the city.

It's crowded and Peyton grins as she takes the help wanted sign out of the window. She starts to turn around and the voice from behind the counter causes her to freeze and bow her head.

"Well, well . . . as I live and breathe", the dark haired woman says and places her hands flat on the countertop. Peyton turns and faces her with a smile that makes her face hurt. "Peyton Sawyer", she whispers.

"Hi Ms. Roe", for the first time in years her southern accent makes an appearance and she has to stop herself from showing her surprise. The woman she's always considered a second mother starts to step out from behind the counter.

"Now you know I've been telling you to call me Karen since you could talk, but if you insist, call me Mrs. Scott . . ."

Peyton's barely heard anything the older woman said because she's walked out from behind the counter and dessert case and Peyton can see the basketball sized stomach she has. She's sure the shock is on her face, but she pulls it together and places one hand on her hip.

"Did Dan Scott go and knock you up again?" this time her southern is out in full force and she's working it. Karen rolls her eyes and rests her hands atop her stomach. The ring she's wearing glints in the light of the café and Peyton kinks an eyebrow, "And did he go and promise not to leave you and get someone else pregnant . . . again?" she teases some more.

"It's good to see you still have the same humor", the older woman mumbles. By this time most of the people in the café are watching or listening to the exchange, but neither woman cares. Peyton laughs loudly and shakes her head.

"Get over here, you goof", Karen opens her arms and Peyton walks forward without a second thought. It feels good to have a genuine hug. And it's starting to feel good to be home.

"Congratulations", she whispers sincerely. "Where's Keith so I can tease him now?"

The dark haired woman chuckles and shakes her head as they break apart. "He's over at the shop, but he'll be around later. What are you doing with that help wanted sign?" she asks in interest.

Peyton smiles and places it on the counter as she takes a seat on the stool. "Well, good help is hard to come by and I've been taking orders in this place since I could read and write. The only difference is now you'd have to pay me", she says with a hint of teasing in her eyes.

She hopes dealing with everyone will be as easy as it is to be around Karen. But she somehow thinks that won't be true. Karen's always warm and welcoming and motherly. It's in her nature.

"Sweetie", she says softly.

"And I figure it will get me out of the house", Peyton mutters. "Not that it matters since daddy dearest isn't there", her sarcasm makes Karen frown slightly and the older woman places her hand atop Peyton's.

"What brings you back to Tree Hill, Peyton?" Karen asks in her best motherly tone. The blonde shrugs and meets her eyes.

"When I figure it out I'll let you know", she says with a laugh.

Karen pats her hand and before another word is said, the chime above the door indicates another customer. It's not unusual because it's been happening the entire time she's been in here, but this time Karen takes the time to lean around the blonde and raise her hand to wave as she smiles.

"So you've finally come home to regain your title as my girlfriend?"

Peyton smiles because she knows that voice better then she knows most things in her life. She spins around and meets the dark blue eyes she's just now realizing that she's missed. She'd never forget a boy like him.

"You wish, Scott", she says with a raised eyebrow and her hand on her hip. Nathan chuckles and shakes his head. "Been dreaming about the day I'd come back?" she teases some more.

He smirks and she hops off the stool so she can wrap her arms around him and he can do the same. He holds her close and can't believe she's really here. He can't believe his brother wasn't imagining it. They pull apart and he ruffles her hair just like he knows she always hated.

"Actually I was going to tell you, you're a few years too late", her mouth drops and she folds her arms over herself.

"Are you telling me that a girl has managed to tie you down for more than a month?" he laughs and runs his hand through his hair, which causes Peyton to catch sight of the gold band that's on his finger. "You're married?!" she yells as she grabs his left hand. "That's incredibly crazy."

"It's actually incredibly smart; I married my tutor and we just renewed our vows this past spring", he says proudly.

Peyton shakes her head and blinks her eyes repeatedly. She wants to blurt out who she thinks he's married, but it can't be true. When she left all those years ago Haley was barely able to stand Nathan and well, he was dating Peyton. The bell chimes again and a petite girl with light brown hair waddles in.

"Nathan, what is taking so long?" she asks in exasperation. "I'm dying out there and all you had to do was run in and pick up my paycheck . . ." her voice trails off as Nathan wraps his arm around her and she stares at Peyton.

"You married Haley James?" she yells some more. Peyton's green eyes trail down and she just can't believe that this is getting more and more insane. "You're gonna be parents?"

"Yes and yes", Nathan says easily as he holds Haley a little closer. She looks up at him and smiles softly. Nathan's always been a little better about letting things go and even though he missed Peyton while she was gone, he knew nothing could have been done differently. Haley took it all a little harder.

"The tortured artist makes her return", the pregnant woman says softly. Peyton sticks her hands in the back pockets of her skirt and smiles warily. Haley always called her the tortured artist and their other friend the tortured athlete.

And for some reason her mind drifts back to the boy with the tow truck.

"And the bookworm is married and having a baby", she quips softly. She and Haley's relationship was always about the sarcasm and quick comments and she hopes that much hasn't changed.

She watches as Haley's brown eyes fill with tears and she starts to internally panic. "You're really lucky my hormones are crazy and that I'm pregnant or else I'd kick your ass", she says between sniffles and then walks forward to embrace her.

Nathan's voice causes Peyton to pull away; "Hey, look who it is."

The blonde turns around just in time to hear the boy call Karen ma and then lock eyes with her. She feels her breath catch and for the first time since coming back she feels her eyes water. It's the boy from yesterday. And like a tidal wave, all the memories come rushing back. He's more than the boy from yesterday and he's not just a kid with a tow truck.

He's Lucas Scott.

( All the people are singing in the rain
Waving umbrellas
But ask me, autumns just a better word for fall

She's lounging on the couch flipping through the channels of the television because there's absolutely nothing on and it's raining. Some summer she's having. It's been a few days since she's seen Nathan and Haley and just as long since she's seen Lucas. The married couple had a few loose strings to tie up with Duke and the apartment they're renting. And Lucas . . . well she's made no effort to see him.

The way he looked at her that day in the café is still playing over in her mind and she wishes it would stop. Her eyes clamp shut and she presses the palm of her hands against them. She's been in Tree Hill for four days and so far she hasn't gotten any profound knowledge and she still doesn't know what she wants to do with the rest of her life.

She's still the same lost girl she was in New York.

A knock on her front door breaks her from her wallowing and she makes no move from the couch. All the lights are off so as far as anyone knows the house is empty. The bell is rung and there are a few more knocks before the mail slot is opened and something hits the floor with a clunky thud.

Her car keys.

In an instant she's standing from the couch and grabs her keys off the floor before pulling open the wooden door. Her car is parked in the street, right in front of her house and Lucas is just about to step down the last few steps of her porch.

"Lucas!" she yells before she can stop herself. He pauses and half turns his body in her direction. Now that he's standing here she doesn't really know what to say to him. This is weird and it shouldn't be weird. Should it be weird?

"Thanks", she says lamely. "You didn't have to bring it by", she whispers. She had meant to go and get it, but then she felt like a dumbass because she didn't remember Lucas and it's been raining for the last few days. And she may have been avoiding him at all costs.

"It was taking up room", he mutters. "You can call the number on the invoice and give Keith your credit card number", Peyton nods even though he can't see her and a small smile works its way onto her face.

"Your mom and Keith, huh?"

Lucas doesn't look at her as he swallows hard and says; "I have to go."

Peyton furrows her brows and takes a step forward. "Let me take you. I'll grab my wallet and I can pay Keith now so –"

"I'm not going back to the shop, I'm done for the day so I'm going home", it could very well be her imagination, but she swears he stresses the last word and her feeling is intensified when he turns around to finally look at her.

"So I'll take you there."

"Would you remember how to get there?" he asks vindictively. Peyton looks down at the porch and fiddles with the keys before meeting his eyes.

"Luke . . ." she whispers and trails off.

"Don't", he growls out. Confusion clouds her eyes and she starts to shake her head. "Don't call me that like we're friends or like you know me. Because we're not and you don't."

She doesn't like his tone, but she thinks she might deserve it, at least a little. A soft sigh escapes her lips and she tucks a strand of hair behind her ears. "Come on, I'll even let you insult me."

A ghost of a smirk works its way onto his face, but he makes sure she doesn't see it. He looks out from under the safety of her porch and grimaces. He really doesn't want to walk home in this. And he kind of, maybe wants to spend some time with Peyton.

She's Peyton freaking Sawyer after all.

"Let's go", he says and then turns to look at her; his eyes letting her know he wants to get this over with. Peyton closes her front door and groans when she realizes she doesn't have a jacket or a hood of any kind.

She rushes down the steps past Lucas and jogs to her car. The blonde boy does the same and they both make a noise of relief once inside the Comet. They drive in silence and when Peyton can't take anymore she turns on the radio. She still hasn't figured out all the good stations so some slow, cheesy love song comes on and she wants to literally shoot herself.

The car comes to a stop right in front of his house, but he doesn't make any move to leave. He glances over at Peyton just as she turns to look out her window. Her hair is shorter then it was and because of the rain her curls are more like waves. He hadn't meant to be hostile, but he just wants her to feel a little bit of what everyone has felt since she's been gone.

Like a piece of them was missing.

Or maybe that was just him who felt that way.

"I didn't have a choice."

Her whispered voice causes his eyes to snap up and meet hers. He hopes it wasn't obvious that he was staring at her legs; even when she wears sweatpants they look amazing. He runs his hand through his damp hair and sighs.

"I know."

"You know, I could have visited still for the summer or other vacations, but my dad was always away and it's not like I heard from him –"

"Your dad wasn't always away", Peyton furrows her brows as she looks at him. "Over the last few years he's barely taken any jobs. He's only out on this one because he wanted to make sure he had enough money for when you came."

She's momentarily frozen with her mouth hanging open in shock. He has to be wrong. There is now way her father stayed away from his dredging company for longer than two weeks; it's not a possibility with him. Before she can ask Lucas any other questions, he clears his throat.

"I'm gonna head on in", he whispers. Peyton nods and tucks some hair behind both her ears. Lucas smirks and starts to open the door before stopping to look at her. "How about I call a truce?"

Peyton smiles and nods her head. "I think that would be good. I couldn't really go the whole summer with you hating me", she admits with a laugh.

"I don't hate you", she closes her eyes at the sincerity of his voice. "It was just . . . hard", he says for lack of a better word.

She nods and smiles and takes a deep breath. "I know . . . you better get inside before Karen kills you for being late."

Lucas smiles and gets out of the car. She watches as he jogs to his house and once he's at his bedroom door, under the roof of his porch, he turns to her and waves. And Peyton feels a little flutter in her stomach.

And it's only her first week back.

( I will rest
Till it's over
Gone until
Summer calls

"So you're due around the same time as Karen?"

Peyton's walking into the living room with a bowl of popcorn and that question leaving her mouth. The short brunette nods her head and promptly places her hands on her stomach. Nathan places a kiss to the top of his wife's head and as she closes her eyes to savor the gesture, Peyton can tell how in love they are.

"I can't believe that you guys are married", she says in awe as she plops down on the couch. "You guys would fit in perfectly in New York", she teases. Lucas chuckles and Peyton looks at him with a smile before Haley steals away her attention.

"What's it like . . . New York?"

It's still raining in Tree Hill; apparently the storm her father had complained about on the answering machine was the real deal. He was supposed to get in two days ago, but because of the weather the streets are mildly flooded and flights have either been canceled or delayed. That left the teens with little to do except sit in a house and watch movies or talk.

And Peyton's found that she likes doing this over anything she would have done on a rainy day in New York.

The curly blonde shrugs and grabs some popcorn from the bowl. "It's loud and noisy and the people are kind of rude . . . but if you can find the other people – the ones who appreciate it all – it's a lot better. There are bars and clubs that have these unknown bands, and they sing like their lives depend on it and for most of them it does."

"You still like music?" Lucas asks softly. Peyton meets his blue eyes and nods slowly. "That's good."

"What about this place?" she asks after taking a breath. Nathan snorts and shakes his head.

"What about this place?" he counters.

Peyton furrows her brows and looks at the three of them. "So . . . what do you guys do around here?"

"Get married", the dark haired Scott quips, "or have a baby", he sends a wink in his wife's direction and she chuckles while slapping his shoulder.

"And every Friday night we take our weekly baths; we really just jump into the river with some soap", Haley comments next with her slight southern accent. Peyton frowns.

"We also wrestle in mud pits and practice our banjo skills", Lucas says with his best redneck impersonation. Peyton frown turns into a pout and she leans forward to slap Lucas' shoulder. All the teens laugh while she glares at them.

"Okay jerks; I meant is there anything different about this place?"

"The newest thing in this place is the traffic light they put at the corner of Elmont and Cadbury", Haley mumbles. Peyton frowns once more, but this time it's because it's a damn shame that there isn't something for the teens around here to do.

"Have you tried to talk to anyone about that, like the mayor or someone less important?" she asks with a laugh. Haley bites her lip while Nathan and Lucas chuckle.

"For a while Dan was the mayor so, that would be a no", Lucas says obviously as he grabs a handful of popcorn. Peyton's mouth drops and she sits up a little straighter.

"Dan Scott, your father", she says as she points to both the boys in the room, "was the mayor?" they nod (not that they needed to) and she lets out a breath of air. "What would make the town do that?"

"He can be pretty persuasive" Lucas mumbles from beside her. Peyton places her hand on his shoulder and when he smiles over at her she can feel her heart race. He sends her a wink and she nearly leans forward and kisses him right then and there.

"Any other crazy things I should know?" her laugh hits Lucas' ears and flows through his entire body. God, he's missed that laugh.

"My big brother was involved in a love triangle that really only ever went in a straight line", Nathan smirks as Lucas bores holes into him.

Peyton furrows her brows before looking at Lucas, "What?"

"Nothing", he says too quickly to be convincing. "He doesn't know what he's talking about", the blonde says directly to his younger sibling. Nathan shrugs while taking a sip of his soda. Haley pats his hand as it rests on her belly.

"We should get going", she says softly. "We've got the doctor's appointment early tomorrow morning", she responds to his furrowed brow and boyish pout. Peyton stands with them and sticks her arms into the pocket of the sweatshirt she wears.

"Is everything alright?"

They both nod simultaneously, which Peyton thinks is adorable, and while Haley puts on her raincoat and rain boots Nathan comments, "It's just a routine thing. Man it is really coming down out there", he mutters.

Haley grabs the closed umbrella and turns to the curly blonde she used to know so well. Peyton shifts her weight from one foot to the other under the gaze of Haley James. That girl has a way of making you feel guilty even if you don't know if you've done something.

"It's good to have you home", she whispers honestly. Peyton's shoulders slouch in relief and she grins at her pregnant friend. Nathan calls his wife's name and both girls let out a breath before Haley waves and walks out the door; Nathan sends a wave and a wink from over her shoulder.

She's just about to close the front door when Lucas walks over to her while closing his cell phone. Peyton looks at him with a raised brow as he grabs his jacket.

"That was Keith", he explains. "Apparently the drain in the front of the house is backed up or something and he needs some help", Lucas shrugs jacket over his shoulders and shakes his head.

Peyton looks out at the rain and then at Lucas. "Alright, well be careful out there", he watches the knot form in her brow and it causes him to smirk.

"Yes mom", he teases. She scoffs and rolls her eyes. Lucas lingers in the doorway and she rests against the open door.

"There's really nothing to do around here?" she asks in doubt. Lucas shakes his head and Peyton fiddles with the doorknob. "What keeps you entertained?"

"The Rivercourt mostly", he laughs at her expression and sticks his hands into his pockets. "You're surprised?"

"I don't know", she mumbles. They were frequenting the Rivercourt they were seven and trusted to walk there on their own (but one of their parents trailed far enough behind to remain unnoticed). "I guess I shouldn't be."

Lucas smiles and starts to walk before stopping and looking at her. She watches as he smiles boyishly and rubs the back of his neck. "Haley's right, by the way. It's really good to have you home." With that, he walks down her steps and holds the collar of his jacket over his head as he jogs down the block.

She doesn't even get the chance to tell him that it's really good to be home.

( And when I wake
Sincerely hope it's you
Sincerely hope it's you

She's had a really shitty day. The rain finally stopped and while that should have been an amazing thing, the Carolina heat kicked in full force. Since it had been cool lately Karen hadn't run her air conditioning yet and of course when she went to turn it on today, it didn't work. Keith and Lucas were busy with the shop all day and Nathan didn't know the first thing about fixing them so they were stuck in the heat.

Then she had to work a double because the person for the afternoon shift cancelled. Karen insisted that she could leave, but she didn't want Karen to suffer because other people were irresponsible. Haley refused to leave her air conditioned apartment and that meant Nathan rarely left her side. And she didn't see Lucas at all. Not that it was the main reason behind her day sucking or anything.

So when she walks into the house all she really wants to do is blast her air conditioner, grab the pint of double chocolate ice cream, and crawl into her bed. But she doesn't think that's going to happen once she walks into the kitchen and sees her father taking a pizza out of the oven that's got bologna, pineapples, and olives on it. Just like they always had.

"Hey chicken", Larry says with a nervous smile. Peyton stares at him for a minute before she feels her anger start to build. Now she knows why Lucas was so snippy when she first called him Luke; granted it wasn't a childhood nickname, but still. Her father says it like he's been in her life for the last few years and he hasn't.

He looks at her and then glances at the pizzas while he clears his throat. "I uhh – I made dinner, I don't really know what you like anymore and I figured you'd always like these and so –"

"I already ate", she cuts him off with a lie. His face falls for a second before he nods his head and throws the dishtowel that's in his hands over his shoulder. The house suddenly feels too small to her and she can't quite breathe.

Larry must notice because he takes a step in her direction and asks; "Are you alright?"

Peyton nods as she steps back. "I'm fine, I just . . . I just remembered I have to meet Lucas at the – at the um . . . somewhere", she mumbles. She backs out of the kitchen and walks into the hallway; Larry's a few steps behind her.

"Don't wait up!" she calls before slamming the door behind her. Larry stands in the foyer and thinks about the whirlwind that occurred in a matter of seconds. The daughter that he hasn't seen since she was fourteen was just here, in this house, in front of him. He knows this isn't going to be easy, but he's going to spend the entire summer making it up to her.

He has to.

She walks around Tree Hill with her eyes practically closed the entire time. She's well aware that the whole reason she came home was because she was going to be spending time with her father, but seeing him just made it all real. And she didn't really need to run out like that, but it's kind of a habit.

She walks to the one place she hopes he is. Considering it's the first really nice night and the fact that he's had work all day, she's hoping she's right in her assumption. Before she can even see him she hears the dibbling of a basketball against the old tarmac. Once she does see him, she takes a deep breath.

His shirts off and his back is toned and his arms are defined and he's so not the scrawny fourteen year old he was when she left. But she can't look at him like that or think those things; they're barely even friends at this point and to think those things . . . well as long as she doesn't announce them it should be fine.

"What are you doing here?"

He's standing in the middle of the court with the ball resting on his hip and breathing shallow breaths. She really hopes he wasn't staring at her while she was staring at him because that would be completely and totally embarrassing. Peyton shrugs and paints on her best smile.

"Just walking around", Lucas squints his eyes and takes a few steps over to her. She does her best not to glance at his abs as they contract with his movements.

"You know, contrary to what you said a few weeks ago, I do kind of know you", Peyton closes her eyes and she can hear Lucas chuckle softly. "What's going on?"

"My dad's home", she whispers because she knows it would be pointless to lie to him. "He cooked dinner and acted like everything was normal and I just freaked out", she says with a laugh.

She walks over to the picnic table and sits atop it. Lucas grabs his shirt and tosses it over his head before sitting beside her. He nudges her shoulder with his and she looks over at him with tear filled eyes. Concern etches into his face and the basketball that was in his hands rolls off his lap and onto the ground.

"Hey", he says softly. She shakes her head and laughs at her girlish actions. "What's going on, Peyton?"

She sees the worry he has for her in his eyes and it melts her heart a little. She also notices how blue they are. They're different from Nathan's (his are a dark blue); Lucas's are as light as the morning sky and she feels a little breathless while she looks into them.

"It just . . . it can't be normal", she says definitively. She turns to him with a frown on her perfect face and asks; "Can it be normal?"

Lucas rubs the back of his neck (an action that she knows he only does when he's nervous or contemplating something serious) and lets out a small breath of air. "I think, if you let it, it can be pretty close to normal", he admits.

Peyton's shoulders slouch, "I was afraid you were going to say that", she mumbles. Lucas chuckles and looks at her guiltily.

"You asked!" he points out. "Look, honestly, he's missed you a lot and I'm not trying to tell you that to upset you, but you should know. And maybe it wouldn't be the end of the world to get to know him again", he offers softly.

"Were you always this smart?" she asks with a sigh. Lucas smirks at her and nods his head.

"Yeah, you just didn't pay me any attention", her mouth drops and she slaps his shoulder as he ducks away from her. "I'm not lying!"

"Oh please!" she cries. "We were all attached at the hip!"

Lucas vehemently shakes his head. "No, Jake lived on the other side of town so he barely hung out and Brooke only really hung out with us because we lived so close. That left me, you, Haley, and Nathan. And once you and Nathan started dating or whatever, it left me and Haley."

She never really thought about it like that, but he kind of makes sense. It was usually the four of them and then it became the two of them, which leads her to what Lucas just said.

"Nathan and I weren't whatevering", she says with a smirk. "As far as thirteen year olds go, we were a serious relationship", they both laugh at ridiculous comment. "We were really just two lonely kids who clung to each other", she mumbles.

"Yeah", he sighs out. "But there isn't always anything wrong with that", she shrugs and rests her hands behind her back. She's forgotten how much better Lucas could always make her feel. He's calming and serene and she needs that at this point in her life.

"And I guess you're right, we always kind of had a friendship from afar kind of thing", Lucas looks at her with a gentle smile and then his eyes look up to the starry night sky. He remembers something in that minute and he jumps off the table to search the worn and faded red wood.

Peyton watches in confusion as he kind of frantically looks around the top of the table. She doesn't bother to ask him what he's doing because that would probably just be pointless. It's clear he wants to explain whatever it is he's trying to find.

"Speaking of an afar kind of thing . . . I had such a thing for you when we were younger", he says honestly. Peyton smirks because he's smirking and it's just the most adorable thing she's seen him do. He looks a little vulnerable and sort of scared and she likes it. But not in the sense that she feels like she has power over him or anything, she just can't really explain it.

"You did not", she scoffs. He nods his head and taps his finger against a certain spot. She leans over and notices the small letters at are carved out. LES + PES. She lets out a puff of air and meets his eyes.

The crickets are chirping and the stars twinkle and this is just the perfect setting for something to happen. But she's got some loose ends in New York and she doesn't know his relationship status (though she hasn't seen him with anyone). And plus she doesn't want to mess anything up.

"You are such a dork", she teases.

He laughs loudly and a soft blush rises to his cheeks. He supposes he would be agitated by the comment, but the tone of her voice suggests that it's the sweetest thing she's seen in a while. Maybe ever.

"It nearly killed me when you started dating Nathan", he admits. Her mouth drops and she shakes her head.

"Well it's not like you were making any moves", she swats at his shoulder and he narrowly ducks away before walking to stand in front of her.

"Are you kidding me? You were Peyton Sawyer; all skinny arms and a tangled mess of hair –"

"Is that supposed to be a compliment?" she asks with her southern twang. He chuckles, of course she'd focus in on that.

"And there was just something almost magical about you. You didn't care what other people thought and you didn't conform to certain groups of friends even though you were one of the most popular girls. You always had such a big heart", this time it's her turn to blush.

They stay in the silence that follows and Lucas runs his hand over his head before trailing it down to his neck for the trademark rub. Peyton takes a deep breath and places her hands on her knees.

"Want me to go so you can keep shooting around?" Lucas furrows his brows and shakes his head.

"Stay, this was the one thing we always had", he reminds her. Peyton smiles once she remembers and a small laugh leaves her mouth.

"That's right, Haley wouldn't leave the house until her homework was done and Nathan felt the need to smack talk even when he was playing alone out here –"

"We were the only ones who could sit in the silence", he finishes. "You would draw and I'd shoot around and it was enough for us."

She nods and the juts out her bottom lip. "I don't have anything to draw with."

Lucas laughs quietly and jogs over to his sweatshirt before pulling a small notepad from the body shop out of the pocket. He walks back over to Peyton and reaches his hand to her face. She can feel her heart start to speed up and once he grabs the pen that she forgot was even behind her ear, he hands both items to her before grabbing his ball and heading onto the court.

Just like old times, she draws while he shoots.

And in this moment, she doesn't miss anything about her city life.

( Weathered faces
Painted expenses

Brian "Whitey" Durham dies on a warm July day and it throws the whole town for a loop.

Peyton walks around and makes sure everyone's got whatever the need while at Karen's house for the funeral reception. She doesn't deal too well with death and so keeping busy is her best form of coping. Her eyes meet her fathers and he smiles softly; she does the same.

She's been trying her hardest to accept him back into her life, but it's difficult. He's her father and he doesn't even really know her anymore. But they've made some progress. She's eaten dinner with him several times and he even went for a ride in the Comet with her.

She walks over and places a hesitant hand on his shoulder. "How you doing?" she asks once he looks over at her. Larry shrugs and takes in a shaky breath.

"I'm alright, how are you?" he places his hand over hers and pulls her into the crook of his arm in the way most fathers do when they just want to let their child know they love them.

"I'm alright", she echoes his words and sends him a small smirk. "Really though, I know he was important to you", she whispers.

The older man nods his head and a small smile graces his sad features. Whitey was a lot of things to a lot of people and that's exactly why there were so many people in that Church today and it's why Karen and Keith's house is packed out.

"You know, if it wasn't for him you might not even be here", he doesn't really know if he should be telling her this, but it feels right. "He put in a good word with your mother for me", Peyton stares at the private smile he now wears.

"She was a cheerleader and the most popular girl in school and I was simply a kid who walked the same halls as her, but Whitey was convinced we were some epic thing. That old man was wise and it wasn't because of what he said, it was the way he said them that made you think", she feels her eyes water as her father speaks and she blinks rapidly to stop the tears that threaten to spill.

"Well at least he's finally with Camilla again", she says softly. Larry smiles and kisses the top of her head before they both notice Keith walking in their direction. Figuring he wants to talk to her father about things, she slips away and smiles at Keith – he squeezes her shoulder – while searching for the blonde haired boy she's wanted to talk to all day.

Peyton walks through the kitchen and sends a sullen Nathan and wink and a smile (he's taken this harder than she would have imagined) and she makes a sympathetic face at the sniffling Karen and Haley (of course they're upset, but she thinks it's got a little to do with their hormones). She reaches the backyard and smiles at the sight of him sitting on the wooden bench that's hanging from the large tree.

Since he realized he was acting like a jerk and called a truce, things between them have been really great. They're friends again, better friends then when they were younger. He still doesn't know much about her life in New York and she doesn't know everything there is to know about his life, but that's not all that important.

And of course, he's still got a thing for her.

Lucas smiles at her and thinks she looks amazing. It's probably not the most appropriate time to think it, but she's wearing a sleeveless black dress that stops just before her knees and her hair is slightly straight and pinned back. She's gorgeous; even that small scar on her calf is intriguing.

"Hey you", he says softly.

She smiles as she sits beside him and says; "Hey yourself."

They sit in the silence for a little while, both content with the sounds of their breathing and the wind rustles the tree branches and their leaves. She takes in a deep breath and looks over at him.

"How are you doing?"

He shrugs, loosens the tie that's around his neck, and swallows hard. She thinks he looks really good in a suit, even though the circumstances aren't ideal. Maybe sometime in the future she'll be wearing a dress and he'll be wearing a suit for different reasons.

That's too absurd to think about.

Peyton's broken from her crazy thoughts by the sound of Lucas' hoarse voice. "Come with me somewhere", he doesn't wait for an answer as he stands and grabs her hand in the process.

"Where are we going?" she asks with a laugh in her throat. He smirks that ridiculously good looking smirk and winks at her. "Well can I at least grab my purse?"

She walks into his room and grabs the black purse she needed to get. Lucas walked out the gate and she can hear his car idling in the driveway. When she takes out her phone she rolls her eyes at the amount of texts and missed calls and voicemails she's gotten. She doesn't bother to answer; instead she tosses it back into her bag.

Peyton gets into the car and smiles at Lucas like he's crazy. They both laugh while Lucas back down the tarred road; Peyton keeps her eyes on him. And she really just wants to hold his hand again.

They pull up in front of a brick warehouse-like building and Peyton has no idea what they're doing here. But then Lucas looks over at her with a smile and she's getting out of the car and following him up the metal stairs. He pulls open the large door and when she steps inside all she sees is a giant empty room.

"Lucas, what is this?"

"Remember the space I told you about? The one my mom and Deb bought?" Peyton nods and continues to look around. "Well this is it . . . and now it's yours", he rushes out.

The blonde looks over at him and furrows her brows in total confusion. "What are you talking about?"

Lucas walks over to the nearby stage and hops up onto the raised wood and watches as Peyton walks around the room. "When you said that there was nothing for us to do around here it got me thinking and you love music and bands and you know better than anyone how an all ages club should work –"

"Lucas just because I went to clubs doesn't mean I know how to run one", she practically screams as she walks over to him. He smirks, but does his very best to hide it.

"Mom and Deb will still have control over it, but you're going to have total creative control and you can't work your way out of it because my mom's agreed and Nathan already talked to Deb, plus Haley will totally kill you if you pass this up", this time he daringly smirks directly at her.

Peyton glares at that half smile and sits beside him. Lucas gives her long legs a sideways glance and lets out a breath. This girl is gorgeous and she doesn't even know it. She's also pretty pissed off and that's obvious by her body language. Arms folded over herself and a serious pout on her lips.

"You're totally thudding me", she whispers.

Lucas looks over at her and grins. When they were thirteen, he submitted a bunch of her sketches to a magazine without telling her. The name of the magazine was THUD and from then on whenever someone shocked another person in the group it was referred to as thudding.

"I can't believe you remember that", he says in awe. She blushes slightly and tucks some stray hair behind her ear.

"Some things you don't forget", she coyly smiles at him and then takes in a deep breath. "Alright, you want to show me around? Throw out some ideas?"

He nods his head in excitement and takes her hand before jumping off the stage and turning to help her down. She kicks off her heels before she does anything and then her grip on his hand tightens. She lets out a small squeal before jumping into the air and when she lands her blonde hair flies around and her giggles become infectious. And it hits him like a ton of bricks he was hoping to avoid.

He's so in love with her.

( Match book heaven
As the train rolls in

"Can I ask you a question?"

A few days later they're back in this building sweeping floors and picking out colors and trying tell the contractors exactly what needs to be done. All the while Peyton and Lucas and become even closer and they've started their own extended version of twenty questions.

"It's a free country", Peyton says easily. Lucas chuckles and shakes his head before resting his weight on the push broom that's in his hands.

"Where'd you get that scar on your leg?" the curly blonde stops sorting CD's and bites the inside of her cheek. Lucas wonders that he's gone too far and he opens his mouth to take it back, but she cuts him off.

"Junior year, we had a school shooting", she whispers. His mouth drops and he quickly forgets the broom; it hits the floor with a loud noise, but neither teen pay it any attention. "Rachel and I got separated and she made it out of the school. I got hit with a stray bullet and crawled my way to the library. Long story short, I hid out until someone found me."

He doesn't need to know that Julian and Owen ran back into the school to find her. And he doesn't need to know that Julian was the person she hid out with for hours. And she really just doesn't want to tell him that it was the first time she told Julian she loved him.

"Wow", he breathes out. "How did none of us know about this?" Peyton shrugs and folds her arms over herself. Lucas knows full well that she's done talking about it and he doesn't really blame her. Hopefully one day she'll be willing to talk to him about it though.

"Now can I ask you a question?"

"It's a free country", he mimics her earlier words. She glares at him playfully before tossing some of her hair over her shoulder and looking at him with pensive eyes.

"When Nathan mentioned you were in a love triangle –"

Lucas shakes his head, "It wasn't a triangle, Nathan was just being stupid", he grumbles. Peyton nods and tucks a loose curl behind her ear.

"Right, fine, but I was wondering who exactly you were dating at the time", her voice is so soft Lucas has to lean forward and strain his ears to hear her. When he does register what she's saying he furrows his brows and purses his lips.

"We're not together anymore so . . ." she stares at him, still waiting for an answer. "I kind of don't want to tell you", he mumbles. Peyton laughs because she thinks he's kidding, but when he doesn't crack a smile she shoves him playfully.

"Lucas Scott, tell me right now", she demands with her southern accent. The blonde boy rubs the back of his neck and squints his eyes. Both actions are totally adorable and make Peyton a little nervous – he's obvious anxious to tell her.

"Brooke", he whispers.

Her mouth drops and she places both her hands on her hips. She doesn't really know what to say and she thinks that if she did say what she's thinking it would only cause an argument and that's just not something that needs to happen.

But she still can't stop herself; "Brooke Davis?" She asks incredulously. He nods meekly and looks off to the side. "Lucas, she was horrible when we were younger."

"She wasn't that bad", he mumbles even though he knows how right she is. Peyton scoffs loudly and it causes Lucas's jaw to set.

"She constantly made fun of what Haley wore and she would be-little Jake because he lived on the other side of town and she went back and forth between telling Nathan I wasn't good enough for him to blatantly flirting with him while I was there. And God, Lucas, she wasn't exactly nice to you either. How could you date her?" she finishes softly.

He shakes his head and can feel himself growing angry for reasons he doesn't really understand. Brooke was all of those things when Peyton was around, but she hasn't been around for a while and maybe that's what makes him so mad. She doesn't know things that have happened and so it's not fair of her to judge based on prior knowledge.

"You weren't here, Peyton", he says accusingly. "You don't get to pass judgment on something that you know nothing about!"

She reels back, a little shocked by his outburst, "I wasn't judging! I just – I'm surprised that's all", she whispers.

"You weren't here", he says in a low voice and it suddenly feels like he's saying a lot more than just the words that are leaving his mouth. "And Brooke was and we were fifteen and it just happened", he says while shrugging his shoulders.

Peyton meets his eyes and any she had leaves her lungs. She wants to kiss him. So badly. She takes a step forward and Lucas takes a step forward and maybe this is it. This is the moment they've both (unknowingly) been waiting for. And then Lucas trips over the broom that fell to the floor before and their eye contact is lost. The moment passes them by.

She blinks her eyes and runs her hand through her messy locks. Peyton clears her throat in hopes that something will come to her mind because she can't really stand to stay in the silence that lingers. That's when something that Lucas said comes to the front of her thoughts.

"Wait . . . you guys aren't together anymore?" he shakes his head and Peyton sticks her hands in her pockets. "How come?"

Lucas sighs and mumbles, "I just got tired of . . . all of it."

It's a cryptic answer, but Peyton's most definitely not going to push it. She doesn't know Brooke anymore, as Lucas pointed out to her, and she doesn't know about the relationship he had with the brunette. Brooke could have been the love of his life and she broke his heart.

That thought leaves Peyton a little unsettled.

"What about you?" she hears his voice question her and she shakes her head with a smile on her lips. Clearly, she's not interested in telling. "Come on, you don't expect me to believe that you stayed single for all of high school, do you?"

"It's only fair, huh?" she mumbles. "His name was Julian. When I was a freshman he was a sophomore and best friends with quarterback, Owen, who started sleeping with Rachel and then that became more than just sleeping together, but yeah; that's pretty much it."

"That doesn't really tell me much", he says with a smirk. She sighs loudly and looks at him while placing her hands on her hips.

"It's not like you gave me details about you and Brooke", she counters. This is stupid; they're fighting about who gave less information about their past relationships. "We were pretty serious for a high school couple", admits.

"Brooke and I weren't really what I thought we were. She was different at times, but for the most part she was still Brooke Davis, the girl with her nose in the air and high heels on her feet. I was pretty much the constellation prize because Nathan was trying to woo Haley", he grumbles.

"Since Julian's a year older he just finished his first year of college, NYU film school. He's got everything planned out and it's just scary because I have no idea what I want to do. I broke it off right before coming here."

"Brooke left for California right after we graduated. She told me she was moving on to bigger and better things and that there was no room in her life for someone who wasn't leaving this town", Peyton's mouth drops and she tries not to laugh; not that it's funny, just because that is so something Brooke would say.

"Wow, that's kind of brutal", she says softly. Lucas nods and smiles.

"It wasn't really as bad as I thought it would be. I had been thinking about it for a while, but when you get comfortable in something it's hard to leave it, you know?"

Peyton nods her head; "So when did you decide she wasn't the one?"

Lucas leans against the counter and folds his arms over his chest. "There was a banquet before the State Championship and we honored Whitey with a trophy. He made a speech about basketball and Camilla and first loves. And . . . I looked over at Brooke and felt nothing. I didn't feel any of what he was talking about and that's when I knew; I think I probably knew before then, but it just hit me in that moment."

She reaches her arm out and grabs his hand sweetly. "I'm sorry about . . . everything", she says softly.

He smiles and gives her hand a gentle squeeze, "Me too. There's kind of another reason Brooke and I never would have worked out", he says and doesn't give her a chance to respond, "You see, I started writing this – this thing and she found it and –"

"Sorry we're late!" Nathan's voice booms in the empty space. Peyton lets go of Lucas's hand and she smiles at his younger brother and best friend as they walk closer to them. "Sorry", he says once more, but with a smirk on his lips.

Lucas turns to him and rolls his eyes while Peyton blushes softly. "Watch the comments funny guy. I've got lots of heavy lifting for you to do", he groans while Haley laughs and takes a seat in one of the chairs that are assembled.

"Get to it, mule", the pregnant brunette teases. Nathan growls at her before swooping down and pressing a kiss to her lips. "Stop procrastinating", she mumbles against his lips.

Lucas chuckles and Peyton laughs loudly while Nathan rolls his eyes and huffs in annoyance. "Where do you need me, Sawyer?" he asks as he starts to walk into the back of the room.

She starts to walk while saying, "Over here – hold on!" she looks back at the blonde Scott, "Do you want to finish what you were saying?" she asks.

He shakes his head. "It can wait", he assures her. She nods and walks over to his brother; jumping on his back good naturedly.

"I'll wait", he sighs out.

( And the crowd is a wicked alibis
To stay together
Oh the crowd is a mob set out to kill

She steps onto the sidewalk outside the airport and there's already a scowl on her face. The two boys that have accompanied her are slowly approaching and once they're directly behind her she says;

"It smells like country."

Her burly boyfriend walks up behind her and wraps his arm around her waist; pulling her close. He takes in a deep breath and lets it out slowly.

"It's fresh air, Rach; obviously something you're not used to", he teases. She tilts her head to glare at him.

"Because you're so used to it, city boy?" her biting tone would have most people cowering or quickly apologizing. Owen simply chuckles and places a kiss to her temple. The redhead huffs in annoyance – he's always able to placate her – and turns to look at the other boy who traveled with them.

"Is your radar going off yet J?" she asks playfully. Julian lets out a breath and looks around the scenic area. Just knowing that Peyton is somewhere in this town has his stomach doing somersaults and his head spinning.

None of them have heard from her in weeks. He hasn't spoken to her since the night she broke it off. Owen only really got his information from Rachel and Peyton stopped responding to her a month ago. This is what led to their impromptu trip to this small town in the middle of nowhere.

"Where are we even supposed to look for her?" he ignores her statement completely. Owen shrugs and kisses Rachel once more before stepping into the street and hailing a cab.

"Might as well start with the town down there", he says and points to the only strip of stores and restaurants they can see. The three of them pile into the cab and start their search.

Meanwhile, Peyton's pacing the night club that's set to open in just a few minutes. She's got a paper bag in one hand and she's constantly clenching her other hand into a fist. Lucas, Nathan, and Haley watch on with smiles.

"Maybe this was a bad idea", she mumbles to herself. "Nobody's going to show up and Chris is playing games about if he'll really perform or not. Haley's got stage fright and if she gets too scared the baby might pop out . . ."

The pregnant teen pouts and Nathan smiles as he wraps his arm around her. They both sneak a glance at Lucas and he nods his head before walking over to her. The married couple seeks out Karen and Keith who are somewhere around here.

"Hey, come on", he says softly. She continues to pace and mutter to herself and he just can't help it; he starts to laugh. She stops in her tracks and whips her head around to send him the most intense glare he's ever been sent. It's enough to make him shut up instantly.

From the back of the club they can hear Keith laugh and say something about curls and venom.

"Lucas, this is like the biggest thing I've ever done and if I suck at it . . ."

He folds his arms over his chest and squints his eyes. Her first reaction is to kiss him; her second is to punch him. She does neither. "You haven't looked outside have you?"

She shakes her head and looks at him like he's grown another head. He's been with her the entire day as she finished last minute things and reorganized the records five times. Of course she hasn't looked outside; she barely had enough time to pick out an outfit; which she still needs to change in to.

"Come look", he doesn't give her a chance to oppose; instead he takes her hand and pulls her to the large metal door that separates Peyton from failure. She really thinks she might throw up.

He pulls open the door and Peyton closes her eyes. "Lucas, I don't –"

She stops talking simply because the voices of other people are overbearing. She can hear them shout and cheer and it sounds like there's more than five of them out here. Slowly, she opens her eyes and she's immediately blown away.

"I think you're going to do just fine", Lucas whispers into her ear. She takes her eyes off of the sea of people that cover the long staircase and most of the empty space where cars are parked to look at him.

Peyton lets out the most girlish squeal he's ever heard her make and she throws her arms around his neck; he doesn't hesitate to wrap his arms around her waist and hold her close. The two married couples and Larry and Deb walk over and grin at the sight of all the excited teens and young adults (maybe they're also smiling at the embrace both blondes are sharing).

"I'm going to run home and change, I'll be right back", he whispers some more and she wants to tell him he looks fine in his white tee shirt and jeans. But then he presses a kiss to her temple and she's in such a daze that the next thing she knows, she's watching him maneuver his way down the stairs.

The crowd cheers as Chris Keller (a singer Peyton found on accident) leaves the stage. He was surprisingly good as far as his guitar skills and singing were concerned. His attitude was a different story entirely, but she didn't really need to deal with him on a personal level so she wasn't too concerned about that.

She was interested in the fact that Lucas still hadn't reappeared.

Peyton's doing a quick sweep with her eyes for a head of blonde hair when she sees her father walking in her direction. She smiles softly at him, but she notes the slow walk he has and it makes her think (not for the first time) that he's been slow about everything since she's been here.

"Hey chicken", he says affectionately. "This is amazing."

"Thanks daddy", Peyton smiles as she bows her head. Larry's heart warms; the last time she called him daddy she was running around with pigtails in her hair. "Are you okay?"

He brushes off the concern she obviously has with a wave of his hand and a smile. "I'm just too old for all of this club stuff", he teases with a wink. "I actually came by to tell you I was gonna head home."

Her face falls, but when she takes notice of how tired he looks she recovers easily. It's odd that he's tired; he takes naps every afternoon. Regardless, she grins at him and leans forward to hug him fiercely.

"Thanks for being here", she whispers. His eyes water and he kisses the top of her head caringly. "It means a lot", she says once they break apart.

"There's nowhere else I'd rather be", he promises. She closes her eyes and takes a deep breath before kissing his cheek and resting her hand on his shoulder. It feels good to not have any animosity for him. And him being here tonight really does mean a lot. It means everything.

"I'll see you at home", she says over the music. He waves his hand at her and shakes his head.

"You take your time; enjoy this. It's your night", and then he winks and turns to walk away. He gets a few steps before a coughing fit takes over. He manages to make it all the way out the door before he needs to lean all of his weight against the railing and he takes out the handkerchief he's started to constantly carry in order to cover his mouth.

There's a little bit of blood, but not enough to alarm him. After all, he knew this was coming.

Peyton thanks the bartender as she sips her seltzer water and walks past the groups of teens. So far tonight has been amazing. Karen and Deb have praised her to no end and Keith sent her one of his trademark smiles – the one that says he's proud of you and he knew you could to it. Nathan and Haley have their own booth right near the restrooms and she thinks she'll spend a little time with them before Haley takes to the stage.

Out of habit, she checks the door one last time. Hoping to see Lucas. Her mouth drops and she nearly lets go of the glass that's in her hand. It's not that blonde boy she sees. The three people that are walking in look strikingly familiar, but there's no way they're here.

She has to be imagining this.

( Oh the crowd is a wicked alibi
To stay together
Against the ones who slipped
They close their eyes and grin

"This place is packed!" Owen says with a grin. Who knew this little town was hiding a gem? He looks over at Rachel and she's got a look of appreciation in her eyes.

She most definitely wasn't expecting to come to a club while she was here. She was really just expecting to find Peyton, throw her over Owen's shoulder and watch her and Julian get back together on the flight back to New York.

So spending extra time here was never a thought; she only packed one other outfit. And even that's just a (smartly priced) tee shirt and jeans. But this doesn't look like the kind of place that she would normally wear a club outfit to; you can dress up if you want (and some people are) or you can relax in worn in jeans and a simple shirt (a lot of people are sporting this look). And Rachel smirks because it's actually kind of cute.

But she'd rather die than tell Owen or Julian that.

"Alright, let's find our girl . . ." she trails off as she spots the skinny blonde that's walking over to them. She glances at Julian and knows that he's spotted her too. And Rachel's suddenly incredibly nervous (which rarely happens).

Because Peyton doesn't look too thrilled to see them.

When Peyton comes to stand in front of them she shakes her head and lets out a small, nervous laugh. Owen, the starting quarterback, and never one to dwell in an awkward situation (or acknowledge one), rushes forward and wraps Peyton in a bone crushing hug. She laughs loudly as he spins them around and when he finally places her on her feet she sends him an appreciative look.

"This place is awesome!" he tells her; she can certainly hear the shock in his voice. She places her hands on her hips and smiles brightly.

"Thanks, it's mine!" she yells over the music. Their mouths drop and Peyton feels a blush rising to her cheeks. "Well kind of anyway", she mumbles.

"We're here to rescue you!" Peyton furrows her brows and shakes her head at Rachel's words. The last thing she needs is to be rescued from here. "Let's go home!"

"This is home", Peyton finds herself saying before she can stop herself. Rachel reels back like she's been slapped and Peyton notices that her friend goes into bitch mode. She doesn't like it one bit. "This place is my home now."

The red head scoffs and folds her arms over herself. "You're telling me you want to live in this Podunk town? Give me a break, Peyton. You've done your good deed by coming here, now come home and reclaim your title as my best friend and kick ass Peyton Sawyer."

"Rachel, I'm not kidding. This is my home now, maybe I won't stay here forever, but I'm not going back to New York anytime soon. And I'm not the same person I was when I left, Rachel. I don't think I ever want to be that person again", she whispers seriously.

Rachel's face falls and Peyton feels her stomach drop. But in true Gatina fashion, she lifts her eyes to the ceiling and then glares at Peyton. "Fine, but when you realize that you're making a huge mistake, don't bother looking for me. And if you're trying to say that you're better than me, you're out of your mind; I only ever hung out with you because you were basically an orphan and I felt bad."

Peyton looks to the ground and closes her eyes. She knows Rachel's hurting and she might not mean the things she's saying, but it's still hard to hear them from someone who was supposed to be your best friend. She can hear Owen mutter something, but she doesn't pay it any attention.

The dark haired boy (practically a man) grabs Rachel by her wrist and takes her out of club. This leaves Peyton with Julian and she can only imagine the things he wants to say to her. They haven't spoken two words since she broke up with him and he's probably got a lot of anger that's been waiting to explode.

"You look good."

And she actually laughs because that's just the person Julian is. He's never purposely hurtful or mean. He raises his brows at her laughter, but joins in nonetheless. Her laugh has always been infectious.

"Thanks", she whispers. Their eyes lock and he grins his famous grin; the one that used to make her kiss him. Now she just smiles back. He takes a step forward and Peyton fidgets with her fingers because she doesn't know what he's going to do.

"I miss you", he whispers. Before she has time to react his arms are wrapped around her waist and his lips are on hers. Her hands fall flat against his chest, but not in a loving matter. By the time she pushes him away she's too shocked and breathless to say anything.

And that's when she spots Lucas.

He's standing mere feet away with a box in his hands and a broken expression on his face. Peyton literally wants to crawl into a hole and never come out; the old Peyton would have done just that. She looks up at Julian, then back at Lucas (and his retreating form), and she knows she can't let him slip away.

She doesn't say anything. She simply pushes herself away from Julian and then he's left to watch her run after someone else. And even though it hurts, he feels that he can finally get some closure. But he sure will miss her.

Peyton runs down the metal stairs (half petrified the heel of her shoe with get stuck in the holes), but more petrified that she's just ruined all the perfect build up that she and Lucas have been working on.

"Lucas!" she yells. "Lucas Scott you better stop right now!" she demands with her southern accent and he does as she asks. He turns to look at her and she knows she's going to cry before this conversation is over.

"Lucas, Julian and I –"

"Make a really great couple", he smiles and then clears his throat. "You must be glad that he's here now."

She shakes her head. "That's not it . . ." she has to trail off because her voice shakes and her chin is quivering. He's not giving her a chance to explain.

His blue eyes scan her body (not caring if she knows he's checking her out) and he needs to take a deep breath. She's wearing a curve hugging black dress and her high heels accentuate her long legs. Her perfect blonde curls are swept up into a delicate updo and her makeup is flawless.

"You look amazing", he whispers passionately. Peyton bites her bottom lip and notices that they match. The sleeves of his black button down are rolled up to his elbows and the dark pair of jeans is perfect for him.

Peyton takes a deep breath and tries one more time. "Julian's w –"

Lucas shakes his head. "I know, he's probably waiting for you, I'm sorry", he mumbles. "I just – what took me so long was debating about giving you this. I thought maybe we could start something or . . . I don't know, but I want you to have this."

He gets close enough to hand her the box ad Peyton can smell the cologne he's wearing. He smells damn good. She looks down at the object in her hands and furrows her brows.

"What is this?"

Lucas takes a deep breath, that's a loaded question. But he decides to be honest since it doesn't seem to matter anyway.

"It's the real reason why Brooke and I never would have worked. That box is filled with memories of you, Peyton. I could never give Brooke my whole heart because I gave it to you without even knowing it."

She's got tears in her eyes and she's doing her best not to break down completely. This is so not how she saw this night going. The tears slowly trail their way down her cheeks and she tilts her head.

"Luke", the whispered shortened version of his name is a plea. She doesn't know what she's begging for, but she knows she'll beg for whatever she has to if it means holding on to him.

He closes his eyes and smiles sadly. "I love the way you say my name", he whispers.

And then he walks away.

Peyton can barely hold in her sobs as she stands there and carries the cardboard box in her hands. Right now the last thing she cares about is the club and the last place she wants to be is surrounded by a bunch of people. So she walks home, leaving Julian and everyone behind.

By the time she gets home her face is soar and she doesn't think she has any tears left to cry. Larry is in the kitchen, which surprises her, nursing a mug of what she can smell is her mother's famous hot chocolate. And the tears come all over again.

"What are you doing home?" he calls out before seeing her. Once he does, "What's wrong?" he asks in a panic.

"Everything", she mumbles tearfully. Larry smiles softly because this is pretty much the teenage dramatics he's missed out on. As strange as it is, he's glad she's being this open with him. He's not glad that she's so upset, however.

"Peyton, talk to me", he says softly.

"Lucas saw something that was a lot less then what he thinks it is and I didn't have the chance to explain. Everything's ruined!" she cries. Larry stands from the kitchen table and starts to walk over to his crying daughter.

"No it's not, sweetie. Lucas will understand just give him time –"

"No he won't . . . he can't! And I can't even go back to New York because Rachel hates me and Owen will have to side with her, and I shattered Julian's heart without blinking an eye about it . . ." her father furrows his brows at the mention of those three people.

"And of course you don't know who I'm talking about", she says accusingly. Her father shakes his head.

"That's not fair", he argues. She scoffs and her sadness quickly turns to anger.

"You know what's not fair, dad", she spits out like a bad taste in her mouth. "The fact that you weren't around at all for the past four years!"

Larry warningly points his finger at her. "You don't know what you're talking about! You can't just make accusation –"

"Yes I can, because you never, not once, tried to get in touch with me. So I'm sorry if I'm a little hostile!" she spits out and storms from the house.

When she gets home later that night, there's a box of letters on her bed. All stamped with Return to sender.

( I will rest
Till it's over
Gone until
Summer calls

"NO! I don't care that you thought you were helping, you weren't! You knew how badly it was hurting me that he didn't care about my life!"

Peyton stayed up for most of the night reading all the letters her father wrote her and so she really spent most of her time crying. When her tears faded and her anger reared its head, she knew there was only one person that she needed to take it out on.

And that's why she's been on the phone with her aunt for over two hours.

"You know what, I – I can't keep talking about the same thing and listen to you justify it. I have a father downstairs that I need to apologize to."

She hangs up without saying goodbye, something she knows just killed her aunt, but right now she really couldn't care less about that woman's feelings. All the animosity and the hatred and hurtful things she's said about and to her father never had any justification. And the worst part is that her aunt knew and just didn't care.

Peyton covers her eyes with her hands and wills herself not to cry (at this point it would just be painful) before running those hands over her face and letting out a noise that's a mixture of anger, tiredness, and heartbreak. Then she walks downstairs in search of her father.

When she reaches the hardwood floors she's met with silence which is totally abnormal. Her dad's always awake before her and there's always some kind of breakfast on the table. She starts to walk down the hall – towards the kitchen – but a knock on her front door causes her to stop.

For a split second her heart races because she thinks it might be Lucas. But she quickly shakes that thought from her mind; he hates her. Maybe he doesn't really hate her, but he looked pretty devastated last night and she knows that's not something you just get over.

"Hey", the last person she expected to see at her front door is standing before her and she's a little dumbstruck. "This is weird, I know . . ."

"How did you know where I live?" she asks in shock.

Julian laughs and scratched behind his ear. "You doubt the powers of Rachel Gatina. Remember when that movie star was filming on location in the city. She knew where he was going to be before he did", he jokes, but it's not really a joke at all.

"She's such a dork", Peyton says with a laugh, but there's a motherly love in her tone. Julian smiles softly at her and places his hand under her chin, causing her to look up at him.

"You know she loves you, Peyton. She's just having a hard time dealing with the fact that you won't be around", Peyton nods and folds her arms over herself as she gently moves away from his hand.

"I know", she whispers. "I thought you were leaving today?"

"We are, but our flights not till later today . . . and I know you don't really have to, but if you were to show up at the airport and say goodbye, I know Rach wouldn't mind", Peyton nods and tucks a few unruly curls behind her ear.

Julian furrows his brows. "Say it", he tells her softly. She looks at him and bites her bottom lip before taking a breath. "Peyton, you tucked your hair behind your ears; it's a total tell."

She smirks, forgetting that he still does know some things about her, and then turns pensive as she meets his dark eyes. "About last night . . ."

Julian holds up his hands and quickly shakes his head. "I was out of line and it was stupid of me to think you'd manage to stay single", there's no venom in his voice when he says that, but she wishes there was. At least if he was mad she could be a little pissed at him.

"Well I – I am single, that was just wrong timing with a guy I've always seemed to have the worst timing with", she mumbles dejectedly. Julian frowns.

"Have you talked to him?" Peyton shakes her head. "Do you want me to talk to him?" Peyton shakes her head again and lets out a short laugh.

"That wouldn't do any good", she assures him.

"Well I'm still sorry, at least now I can get some closure. And don't worry about that blonde guy; you're a hard girl to let go of, he'll be back", he says sincerely. Peyton takes a deep breath and says;

"They meant a lot to me; those years we were together . . . don't think that they didn't, okay?" he grins and nods his head before placing a lone kiss to her forehead and backing away. "Do wanna come in? You can meet my dad", she says on a spur of the moment friendship vibe.

He nods and follows her into the house she grew up in. She walks down the hall and after making a puzzled face, she walks upstairs. Julian entertains himself with pictures of Peyton when she was younger. She was stick thin and her hair was a frizzy mess, but she's adorable in any form. He's broken from his thoughts by her blood curdling scream of;

"Call 9-1-1! Julian, call 9-1-1!"

He doesn't dare take the time to ask her what the problem is; he searches her house for the nearest phone. He has to run outside to give them her address and when he's told that there's an ambulance within three blocks he lets out a breath of air (the less terrified version wouldn't be surprised).

He takes the wooden steps two at a time and when he finds Peyton she's in her father's room – he's assuming – and the older man is on the floor while Peyton kneels over him with her hands flailing and her voice screaming at him to be okay.

It's a flurry of movement after that. Peyton is physically moved out of the way while the paramedics set Larry on the gurney and she's crying so loud she can barely hear anything that any of the other people say. Her only thought is this can't be happening; don't let this happen!

She follows them down the stairs; never losing contact with her father's hand. They make it outside and she knows the sirens have drawn attention, but she's not paying any attention to that. Just as she's getting into the back of the ambulance she hears Julian telling someone that they need to find their way to the hospital; FAST!

That was . . . she doesn't even know how long it's been, but it feels like it was a lifetime ago. She's been sitting in this less then comfortable plastic chair with her head buried in her hands. Julian's waiting outside for – she's guessing – Owen and Rachel and she doesn't know anyone's number to call. Not like she'd have any information to tell them. Her father was wheeled behind those swinging doors and she hasn't gotten any news since then.


The blonde turns her head at the maternal voice that flows through the hallway. She stands immediately and carefully throws herself into Karen's arms. The older woman smoothes her hair and presses her cheek against the curls of her hair. Keith wraps his arm around both his wife and Peyton and he presses a kiss to her forehead.

"He's gonna be okay", she whispers into her hair. Peyton sniffles loudly and nestles against Karen's shoulder before pulling away to wipe her eyes; she's honestly surprised she's not all cried out by now.

Peyton's eyes glance around and despite it all; Keith smirks. "Lucas is on his way. He was working the shop by himself today and he had to close up."

She nods her head and musters her best smile of gratitude before walking past them and towards the people she spotted before. Rachel's wearing sweats and her hair is in a messy bun and she's got no makeup on; this is the best friend she knows. The one who doesn't care what people think and doesn't feel the need to fit in or be a trendsetter.

"Peyton, I'm so sorry", she says as both girls embrace. "I'm so, so, so sorry", she whispers. The blonde snaps her eyes shut tightly; she's never been able to handle when Rachel cries.

"I'm sorry", she insists. Rachel pulls her back to arms length and her brows furrow. "For everything that happened last night . . . I don't think I'm better then you –"

"Oh God, Peyton that so doesn't even matter", her friend argues. "I was being myself – we both were", she says with a laugh. Peyton lets out a breath of air that should be a laugh, but she's just too tired.

"I have missed you", Peyton promises. Rachel smiles and feels more tears trail down her cheeks; she really hates crying. But Peyton's seen her at her worst and she figures its okay to be upset at a time like this.

"I've missed you too, obviously, why else would I come to Eastbumblefuck, North Carolina?" she mutters teasingly. Peyton sighs in content and swallows; now that she knows Julian's getting over her and Rachel doesn't want to be over her (in the best friend sense) she can feel that weight lift.

But then she remembers where they are.

She walks over to Owen and gives him a sideways hug. "I need some air", she whispers; when everyone looks at her she holds up her hands and motions for them to calm down. "I'll be fine; I'll be right outside", she promises.

The elevator seems to take forever and it makes her more claustrophobic then she already feels. By the time the doors open she practically falls out and then she speed walks to the automatic doors. When the fresh air hits her face and fills her lungs she feels better then she would have expected.

Lucas is running faster than he ever has in his entire life. As soon as Keith called him, he kicked everyone out of the shop and locked the doors; his hands were shaking so bad he dropped the keys twice. In hindsight it would have been smart of him to take the truck, but he wasn't thinking. All he knew was that he needed to get to Peyton.

When he sees her standing outside he swears his heart bursts.

She must hear his footsteps or it's out of pure coincidence because she turns around when he's no more than two feet away from her. If he was worried about seeing her after last night (he hasn't given it a thought) he most definitely has nothing to worry about. Her face changes into one of utter relief at the mere sight of him and her arms fall to her sides.

Lucas doesn't bother to slow down as he approaches her and so when he hugs her it knocks the wind out of her and she's lifted off the ground sloppily. The second she's in his arms she starts to cry for reasons she can't really explain; probably just because it's Lucas. One of his hands cups the back of her neck while the other wraps around her waist. God, she loves his hugs.

"I'm here", he says, his voice hoarse from running so far and the emotions that he's feeling. "I'm here now."

If she was confused or torn, all of those thoughts are erased. She loves everyone that's in that hospital waiting room, but she was getting tired of hearing how sorry they were. She loves that those words aren't passed from his lips to her ears and she really loves that the first thing he chose to do was simply say he was here. That's really all she's wanted since she saw her father lying on his bedroom floor.

"I'm scared", she says over her tears. He holds her closer as the words hit his ears and her breaths are shaky and shallow – his heart absolutely breaks for her. "I can't lose him, Lucas. I said some awful things and I treated him terribly when I first got here –"

"Hey, hey", he scolds. "Larry knows how much you love him; that never, ever changed in his mind", he tries to promise her, but he can tell it's not working. "Peyt . . ."

She's always loved when he calls her that. This time it's whispered and pleading and she thinks this is how he must feel whenever she calls him Luke. If it is anything remotely close to what she's feeling then they're a bit cruel to each other.

"I've just messed everything up and I never should have come here. I may never get as second chance with my dad and I messed everything up with you –"

"No, you didn't mess anything up with me, okay? I'm right here. And I'm sorry I got all girly and freaked out last night. I guess I just thought that you and I – we – had something and then I saw you and Julian kissing, and I – you guys look great together . . ."

He keeps rambling (which is totally endearing), but she's stopped listening – other thoughts plague her mind. It's painfully obvious how he felt about her last night and from the way he's talking it sounds like he still feels that way. Maybe all hope isn't lost and maybe this can be the first in a long line of positive things. After the third or fourth mention of her and Julian being a couple she has to interrupt him.

"I love you", she says tearfully. "I'm in love with you, Luke."

He abruptly stops his embarrassing ramble and simply stares at her. The girl that he's wanted for half of his life, who's in the simplest clothing possible, and has puff eyes and tear stained cheeks, and who's hair is a wild mess has just told him the exact thing he's wanted to hear since he was twelve years old.

So he does the only thing that seems natural. He kisses her and pours his very existence into it. She makes a noise of surprise that he makes a mental note to always listen for; it's an adorable little sound. Peyton grabs on to the lapels of his shirt and pulls him impossibly close (they're already pressed together) and Lucas buries his hand into her curly hair (something he's wanted to do ever since she got back).

They break apart completely breathless and when Lucas smirks, Peyton knows he's going to try and be cute. "Have I ever told you I love the way you say my name?"

She laughs genuinely for the first time since last night and it makes her love him even more. She plays with the material of his shirt and then meets his eyes; they're a few shades darker the usual.

"I think you've mentioned it once before", he laughs heartily and cups her cheek. "I mean it, you know? I'm not just saying it because of everything that's going on", she whispers.

He squints his eyes at her and smiles; he doesn't know when or how he got so lucky, but he's got the most amazing girl in the world in his arms and the best part is that she's in love with him.

"I love you too and I have for a very long time, Peyton Sawyer."

She doesn't hesitate to kiss him again.

( And when I wake
Sincerely hope it's you
Sincerely hope it's you

He's laying in the hospital bed with machines hooked up to him and an IV in stuck into his body. She's gripping his free hand as tightly as she can without hurting him and musing that he suddenly looks so small and fragile and so unlike the father she knew when she was growing up. And that's when he tells her he has cancer.

"Daddy", she whispers. He places his hand atop her and pats it gently. He doesn't want to see her cry, but she needs to know. "Maybe they're wrong; doctors are wrong all the time."

She leans in closer and he wipes the tears from her cheeks. "No sweetie, they're not wrong this time", he assures her sadly. Peyton bites her bottom lip and takes in a shuddering breath.

"Do Aunt Maureen and Uncle Tommy know?" he closes his eyes and nods. "Is that why they insisted I come here this summer? And did they tell my guidance counselor? So what, everyone wanted me to watch you die?"

"No Peyton, that wasn't what this, was. I wanted to see you and spend time with you, but my letters always got sent back and so I didn't think you'd want to see me. After I told Tommy and Maureen, they said they would figure something out. I'm sorry if you feel betrayed; it was never my intention."

Peyton starts to cry louder and she shakes her head in amazement. "Don't apologize I'm being dramatic", she mumbles tearfully. "I wish you would have told me", she says softly.

"I didn't want you to act any different around me. Any attitude you've give me was, this is going to sound crazy, refreshing and welcoming. You're so much like your mother, Peyton. And Keith's right; you're all curly hair and venom."

She laughs through her tears and thinks about the small family that's spread out around the hospital; Karen and Keith are in the cafeteria and Lucas is waiting for her outside in the hallway if she needs him. She turns to her father and asks;

"Do they . . ." before she can even finish speaking, her father is nodding his head, answering the question he knew she was going to ask.

"They were the first ones I told . . . I don't think they ever told your boyfriend though", he teases like any father would. Peyton's cheeks heat up and she tucks some hair behind her ear. "Don't get shy about it", he teases some more.

"How can you possibly know about that", she asks through a breath of air and it him smile as he lets out a breath.

"I've seen the way that boy looks at you", he says like he's glad to finally be able to talk to her about it. "And I've seen the way you look at him", Peyton blushes again. "Besides, he's been standing out there for last twenty minutes", they both laugh at Lucas's expense, but Larry is secretly thrilled that she has someone.

She'll have someone.

"How long do you have?" she asks bravely. He contemplates not telling her or even lying, but he doesn't want to start an argument and he doesn't think he can risk lying to her because he doesn't think he's got that much time left.

"When I was first diagnosed they gave me a year", he says through a yawn that he couldn't hold back. Peyton inches her chair closer and furrows her brows.

"And now?"

"Now . . . why don't you tell me how Lucas got you to go out with him?"

The fact that he doesn't answer her question has her tearing all over again and Larry makes a face before placing his hand on her back and pulling her down. She rests her head on his chest and feels the outline of the bones in his chest, and she hates herself for not noticing his change or for not questioning how tired and lethargic he had become. She should have done more.

"I love you, chicken", he whispers against her frizzy hair. Months ago those words would have been a figment of her imagination, of course she'd never admit to imagining them. It's strange to think that when she first got here she wanted nothing to do with this man; she simply wanted to commit to her time here and then leave as early as possible as soon as she was allowed to.

"I love you, daddy", she mumbles against his chest between sobs and gasps of air. And now she can't bear the thought of losing him.

Later that day, after they're both better rested, he tells her everything. From the stomach cramps and loss of appetite he had, to the diagnosis, and then telling the people that needed to be told. Peyton's horrified that he went through all that without someone there to hold his hand, but he smiles and tells her that her mother was always with him.

"Are you sure this is a good idea?"

Lucas sits in the kitchen chair and watches as she paces back and forth and takes a gulp of water from the glass that's in her hand. He stands in front of her – stopping her movements – and places his hands on her hips. She's absolutely adorable when she's fidgety.

"I think it will be good for him, baby", he says quietly. She places her glass on the counter and wraps her arms around his neck. "He'll like being around everyone and the fresh air will be good for him –"

She cuts him off with a kiss that he instantly deepens. It's been a few weeks since her father's gotten out of the hospital and in turn, since they started dating. The alone moments between them have been few and far between, but with good reasons. Larry (though he doesn't need it, he claims) gets a majority of Peyton's attention and with the baby fast approaching, Lucas was helping Keith with the nursery.

But the little moments that they're able to steal are simply perfect. They go to the beach or walk along the pier or just sit on his front porch wrapped in a blanket with the stars above them twinkling. It's cheesy and cliché and Peyton never thought she'd be the kind of girl who loved all those things, but she does. The fact that she's with Lucas could have a great deal to do with it.

He lets out a noise of appreciation and squeezes her against him before they break apart. She's smiling widely and he's smirking like a fool. They're happier than the given circumstances should allow, but Peyton would never apologize for it.

"I love you", his husky voice sends a shiver down her spine. She giggles and nuzzles her nose against his which causes him to groan and back her up against the kitchen counter. He presses himself against her in the best ways and she gasps loudly.

"When are your parents taking their before-the-baby-comes-roadtrip?" she asks breathlessly. He chuckles from deep in his throat and she thinks that's the sexiest thing she's heard in a long time. Before he can answer she kisses him again and her fingers play with the hair at the nape of his neck.

"Exactly one week from today", he says desperately; like it can't come soon enough. She laughs at him and he grips her hips a little tighter. His forehead rests against hers as they both take a deep breath to calm themselves. "Have I told you that you look gorgeous yet?"

Keith and Karen (they're also including Nathan and Haley in this) are having a baby shower for the impending arrival of the newest Scott. It's not the typical, all the girls get together kind of thing, it's more of a celebration of everything they've all got and the fact that they've still got it. Gifts were still perfectly acceptable though.

Peyton smirks and drags her hand down his chest to play with his light blue tie; it's the same color as her dress. The dress is something that Lucas has been admiring for the last forty-five minutes. It's a sky blue, silky material halter dress that's tight around her chest and torso, but faintly flares out daintily and stops just before her knees. The color goes perfect against her tanned skin and golden blonde hair and she just looks incredible.

"I don't think you have", she teases as she threads the material between her fingers. Her hands press against his chest and trail their way down his body; Lucas takes a noticeable breath. "But the more you say it the more I –"

"Dad in the room!" Larry announces with his eyes covered.

Lucas and Peyton separate faster than oil and water and the blonde boy keeps his body facing away from Larry while Peyton marches right over to him.

"Dad, you should have called for us, Lucas would have helped you down the stairs", she admonishes. Larry looks between his daughter and Lucas and raises his brows questioningly. "Dad . . ." she grumbles under her breath.

"Peyton, I'm fine, okay? I'm not an invalid, but thank you for looking out for me so much", he says and kisses her forehead. "You look beautiful, sweetie."

She thanks him with a smile and then they both look at Lucas. He's finally facing away from the counter and has his hands in his pockets awkwardly. Peyton rolls her eyes; he's pretty much the least discreet person she knows. Larry looks between them and smirks.

"Let's get this show on the road", he claps his hands together and Peyton links her arm with his as they start to walk. Lucas falls into step behind them and grabs the wheelchair (something Peyton insists Larry use from time to time), but Larry turns around to look at him.

"You're in the back, Eugene", he grumbles, but the teasing tone to his voice is apparent. Lucas is mortified and it's obvious in his expression. Peyton's mouth drops and she slips her arm from her fathers. Larry walks off with a grin.

"Eugene?" her eyes sparkle with glee and the smile on her face is enormous. Lucas throws his head back and lets out a groan. He's managed to go the entire summer without bearing his dreaded middle name. And it was blown in a matter of seconds.

"I was hoping to get away with never having to tell you it", he says embarrassingly. She wraps her arms around his chest and hooks them under his arms. His free hand rests in her hip while they lock eyes.

"It's cute", she insists. "Actually, it's a little sexy", her tone drops an octave and it sends a chill up his spine. He raises his eyebrow and makes this face that she can't even explain, but she loves it; so she kisses him.

She just has to.

"Let's go lovebirds!" Larry's voice booms from the driveway. They break apart with soft groans and Lucas rests his cheek against hers.

"One more week", he whispers.

One more week and she's all his.

( I will rest
till it's over
gone until tell
summer calls

Peyton laughs loudly as Nathan spins her around on the makeshift dance floor; she's basically a ragdoll in his arms. Her skirt twirls wonderfully with her movements and it keeps all of Lucas's attention. He's standing off to the side with Haley while they both sip sweet tea and admire the people they love.

"Close your mouth, you're drooling", Haley quips. Lucas squints his eyes as he looks at her and she laughs loudly. "Your tongue is practically hitting the floor!"

"You're staring at Nathan!" he counters. She places her hands on her large stomach and a private smile graces her lips.

"He's my husband", she justifies. "I'm allowed to stare all I want, it's like a right of marriage", she says, not fully believing her own words. Lucas chuckle and shakes his head.

"Yeah well, maybe you won't be the only ones –"

"Tell me you're not thinking of proposing", Haley asks in a rushed whisper. "Lucas Scott, you just got together!"

"First of all, you and Nathan were married on like your second date", he points out with a smirk. "Second of all, nobody's talking about marriage; I just – I'm happy, we both are and given everything that's happened to Peyton lately, the fact that she laughs and smiles at all is amazing. As long as she keeps doing that, I'll be okay."

Haley stares at him as he stares at Peyton, and the smile she was wearing grows into a grin. She shoves Lucas; Haley's always been a little violent. "You totally want to marry her!"

Lucas motions with his hands to keep her voice down and then he looks around. The last thing he wants to do is start that rumor, especially with all their friends and family here; even though it's the truth.

"Haley, I've wanted to marry her since we were in the eighth grade", he says needlessly; she remembers those predictions they used to write every year. "But those are all things for the future; now I'm content with being her boyfriend."

"Well either way . . . it's good to see you happy. I always kind of felt like you were settling with Brooke", he acts like he never knew she felt that way, though it was pretty obvious. He starts to say something to her, but Nathan's walking over to them and that means Peyton's alone on the dance floor.

He's off in her direction in an instant.

"It's about time", Peyton says with her hand on her hip and all her weight resting on one foot. He raises his brow and smirks before pulling her into his arms. She giggles and her hands naturally fall to his bicep and the back of his neck respectively.

"I've missed you", he says quietly. Peyton rolls her eyes at the cheesiness he has no problem displaying. He growls at her for her actions, but she kisses away the furrow in his brow. "Can you believe the summers almost over?"

She lets out a breath of air. She really can't believe that the summers nearly and the simple thought terrifies her beyond belief. She doesn't know what the fall with bring. Will Nathan and Haley be able to handle the stress of college and a baby? Will she and Lucas stay together? Will her father live till Halloween?

"I really can't", she mumbles; still lost in her world. He bends his head down and his hot breath against her ear causes her to shiver. She's lets a little noise that she hadn't intended to let out, but once Lucas hears it, he smiles from ear to ear.

"What's wrong?" he knows her so well that it amazes her. She almost can't believe they haven't been together for longer or that they weren't even friends up until a few months ago. "Come on Peyt", he encourages.

"Summer is almost over, Lucas. Nathan and Haley are going to Duke and you're going to UNC and I don't know I'm supposed to do. I don't want to leave your mom and Deb with the responsibility of TRIC and I can't leave my dad so . . ."

"So . . . I'll be home every weekend I can and there's always Thanksgiving and Christmas and maybe you could come to me a few times and then it's summer all over again and we'll be together", he smiles boyishly and Peyton wishes she could exude that same anticipation.

"For a few months", she pouts. His hand leaves her his and gently lifts her chin, forcing her to look into his eyes. She groans internally; his eyes are her weakness. And they can both see far too much about each other by simply locking eyes.

"I'm not giving you up, Peyton Sawyer", he whispers. Her heart flutters in a way it hasn't before. Of course they say sweet things to each other and they do long each other more than anything, but that's really the first time either of them have hinted at being together forever.

With that immense feeling of love running through her she looks up at him from beneath her lashes and asks softly; "Ever?"

When he smirks she feels her heart pound against her chest and she's sure he can hear it. He grips her hips a little tighter and pulls her a little closer and then he whispers; "Never ever", into her ear.

They share a moment of silence before they both chuckle softly at how cheesy they're both being. But they're in love so they don't really care. Someone taps Lucas on the shoulder and when the young blonde turns around he smiles at Peyton's father. Larry motions between him and his daughter and Lucas places a kiss to Peyton's cheek before searching for his mother. He thinks it's time he asked her to dance.

"Don't try to exert yourself, okay?" she strictly warns. Larry tilts his head at her and sighs softly.

"Peyton, I love you and everything you've done, but stop worrying about me long enough to finish this song", he begs. She looks down guiltily and then shakes her head. She has nothing to feel guilty about.

"Dad, given recent events you can't exactly blame me for –"

"I don't blame you for anything", he cuts her off. "I just feel bad that you spending your last few weeks hovering over me when you –"

"I'm doing it because I love you and because I want to make sure you're okay", her eyes start to burn, but she does her best to push back those tears.

". . . and I'm sorry that I wasn't there for you when you were younger", he whispers and it sounds like he's trying to make amends and she doesn't really like that. He doesn't need to apologize at this point and he doesn't need to make it seem like it's the last time he'll have a chance to do so.

"Dad", her broken voice whispers, but he doesn't hear her.

"If I was home more your aunt wouldn't have come to get you and you could have stayed in Tree Hill . . ."

He swallows hard and clears his throat before talking again. Peyton's got her bottom lip between her teeth to hold back the sobs that are begging to break through. Talking about the end with her father is scary and she just doesn't want to do it so she interrupts him.

"If I had known that you were sending letters and that you wanted to be in my life, I would have been here as often as I could, okay? I just need you to know that all I wanted was for you to care", her voice cracks as she finishes her sentence and Larry smiles sadly.

"I know and this summer has been the best summer of my life", she laughs and looks from him to Lucas, who's dancing close by with Karen. He winks at her and she blushes uncontrollably. When Larry speaks again, she can hear the smirk in his voice before she sees it;

"This summer I have watched you do things that I never thought I'd get to see. You're bright and beautiful, and you started an all age's night club. You're an amazing young woman, Peyton Sawyer and I'm glad I got to see it", his eyes spot Lucas and then he looks down at his daughter. "And the best thing about all of this is that I got to watch you fall in love."

Peyton throws her arms around his neck and kisses his cheek. They finish out the song and Larry hugs her paternally and kisses her forehead before pushing her to an arm's length and nodding at Lucas. As Peyton watches her father walk over to his seat and Lucas's arms wrap around her waist she's overcome with one thought. She never wants this phenomenal day to end.

Larry Sawyer passes away three days later.

It's a warm day with the sounds of summer in the air. She hates it. In fact, she wishes it was raining or thundering or even snowing, because then it would reflect her mood. They're all standing at the grave site which is right next to her mother's. Her Aunt and Uncle are here, but she's standing as far away from them as possible. Karen Keith and Lucas are directly behind her and next to them are the other Scotts. Rachel, Owen, and Julian and standing behind all the Tree Hill residents.

The entire ceremony passes by in a blur. She knows some beautiful things are said about her father, but she doesn't hear any of them. Truthfully, all she wants to do is lie in bed and curl up into Lucas's arms. And the first chance she gets to do that, she takes.

"Are you sure you don't want to go out into the living room?" he whispers. Peyton shakes her head and clings a little closer to him. He kisses the top of her head and they stay in the silence for a little longer.

"And you don't want to see your Aunt and Uncle?"

Peyton huffs and sits up against the pillows on his bed. The funeral reception is being hosted by Keith and Karen and while everyone is grieving or telling old stories about her father she would much rather lock herself up in Lucas's room, but he seems to have different plans.

"Luke, as far as I'm concerned it's their fault I wasn't here more. If she had given me his letters I would have known that he cared about me and that he missed me, but I never did. I'm over eighteen so I don't need either of them in my life legally. And so I don't want to see them. I want to stay right here and lay with my boyfriend", she says quietly as she plays with his loosened tie.

Lucas lets out a breath and places his hand over hers; stilling her movements. There's something he's wanted to ask her, but hasn't really found the right moment. This isn't exactly the best moment, but something she's just said has struck a chord.

"Hey, I kind of want to ask you something . . ." she looks down at him and nervous under her gaze, he sits up; interlacing their fingers. "I mean, we don't need to talk about it now, but the night TRIC opened I gave you a box –"

"Filled with e-mails you never sent", she cuts him off. His eyes widen and slowly a blush creeps onto his cheeks. She laughs for the first time all day and leans down to kiss him tenderly. "They were beautiful Lucas. The words you wrote and the things you said . . . I fell even more in love with you after reading them."

He looks relieved which she thinks is adorable because who wouldn't love to read all about how much someone misses them and thinks about them. She also thinks that maybe if Lucas could overcome his fear of putting his heart on the line than maybe she can deal with having (basically) everyone in town tell her how sorry they are for her loss.

"We can go out there in a little while, okay? For right now, I just want you to hold me."

He has no problem doing as he's asked.

( And when I wake
Sincerely hope it's you
Sincerely hope it's you

The rest of the summer flies by. Haley gives birth to a baby boy (James Lucas Scott) and Karen gives birth to a baby girl (Lily Roe Scott). The young married couple spends most of their time packing and taking care of their infant and the older married couple spends most of their time running their businesses and adjusting to taking care of a newborn while sending a teenager off to college.

It basically leaves Lucas and Peyton with a lot of free time and an empty house.

And they bask in it. Lucas doesn't get a lot of sleep because of his sister and since Peyton spends most of her time there, her sleep is limited as well. Plus, she's grown accustomed to falling asleep in Lucas's arms. They enjoy simple things when they're alone together; they watch movies or listen to music, sometimes he'll come over just to read and she'll draw while he does. But of course they kiss and sometimes more than kiss; they really like the last activity.

"Peyton, baby, nothing is going to get done if you sit there all day", Lucas says lightly as he walks by her with a big empty box. She folds her arms over her chest and pouts heavily.

"That's the point."

Lucas leaves in two days for his freshman orientation and he most likely won't be back until sometime in October and that thought is just too much for her to bear. She doesn't want him to ever leave her side (as pathetic as that might sound) and she kind of gets the feeling he doesn't really want to leave her side. But this is his dream and she isn't going to try and rob him of it.

"Baby girl", he whispers. She turns away from his when he sits beside her on the edge of his bed. He tilts his head at her and places one hand on her shoulder while the other cups her chin; forcing her to meet his eyes. "Peyton, we talked about this", he says sadly; her eyes fill with tears.

"I know, and I want you to go, but I don't want to lose you", her voice cracks which causes Lucas to immediately pull her into his arms. "I've said goodbye to too many people this summer and I don't want you to be another one of them. I can't have you be another one of them."

The death of her father is still there. Lingering just beneath the surface of everything she does. But being with Lucas and having the other Scott's by her side makes it all a little more bearable. They're her family now and she doesn't want to lose any of them.

"You're not losing me", he quickly assures her. "And we won't say goodbye in a couple of days; it'll be an extended see you soon. I love you too much to ever say goodbye."

Peyton closes her eyes and lets out a breath. She rests her forehead against his and kisses him quickly. He deepens the kiss before she can pull away and once his hand gets lost in her curls they both know they aren't leaving this bed anytime soon. It's a good thing Keith and Karen are working.

"I'm really glad I came here this summer", she whispers. They're laying in his bed and she's drawing invisible patterns on his chest – something he's come to love and wonders how he ever

went without it.

"I'm really glad too", he says and there's just a hint of innuendo in his voice. She giggles and snuggles against him; her leg thrown over his and her arm wrapped around his torso. "I really love you, Peyton Sawyer."

"Good because I'm pretty sure I'm gonna love you forever, Lucas Scott."

He boyishly grins at her and then kisses her deeply and soon enough they're tangled up in the sheets once more.

They day before all her friends are supposed to leave Karen decides to have a gathering at TRIC. Peyton's cradling Lily in her arms and the infant as her hand wrapped around the blonde's finger. It may be too soon and too crazy to think it, but she loves holding a little Scott. One day she wants to be holding her own Scott.

"Well if it isn't my two favorite girls", her boyfriend says as he walks up behind her. Peyton smiles and raises her neck to kiss him. He brushes his finger against his sister's soft skin and places a kiss to the top of her head.

"Well if it isn't my fourth favorite Scott", Peyton teases. He places his hand over his heart and mocks a pained expression. "Alright, maybe you're like my second", she reasons.

Lucas smirks before kissing her again and then he gently takes Lily from her arms. At her questioning glance he clears his throat.

"I have a surprise for you and I don't want you to squish my sister in the process."

Peyton quirks her brow, but before she can answer a familiar voice speaks from behind them. "A baby in a bar, that's not hick at all."

The curly blonde whirls around and throws her arms around Rachel's neck. In the weeks since the redhead first came to Tree Hill the two of them have built their friendship up in a new way. Being far away from each other is hard, but considering Peyton has such an amazing boyfriend who clearly likes to surprise her, well that makes things a little better.

"The boys started classes already?" Peyton asks. Living here has caused her to lose all sense of time and city life. Rachel nods and musters her best smile, but Peyton's known her for far too long. "What's going on Rach?"

"It's just that, Owen is going to be on the east coast and I'm going to be all around and I really don't want to leave him", they both know her relationship can withstand the long distance thing, but it's still scary to think about. Peyton's going through the same thing.

"You know O only has eyes for you Rachel. That boy would marry you tomorrow if you'd let him", she says offhandedly; she's also busy eyeing Lucas so she misses the look Rachel sends her.

"Speaking of wonderful boys . . . that blonde one is fucking fantastic", Peyton meets Rachel's eyes and can't even stop the heat that rushes to her cheeks. "You know I've been team Julian, but Lucas is kind of awesome", she admits somewhat begrudgingly.

The curly blonde throws her arm around her redheaded friend; "Thanks Ray Ray", Rachel hugs her waist and leans her head on her shoulder.

"No problem Pey Pey", both girls laugh loudly at the immature nicknames they gave each other years ago and then Peyton walks in the direction of her young married friends. Married? Rachel had screamed when she first talked about them. Now Peyton wants Rachel to get comfortable with them and hopefully be friends.

She's holding Jamie and laughing at something that Nathan's just said to Haley which caused her to choke on her drink, but Rachel to high five him (looks like her friend is fitting in well). The little boy in her arms coos and gurgles and makes other noises most infants do and she's completely in love with him. It's already a running joke that he looks more like Lucas than he does Nathan and she feels like that's going to continue as he grows more.

Lucas stares at her as he half listens to a conversation he's supposed to be invested in; his hand unconsciously falls to the box that's in the pocket of his jeans. Keith follows Lucas' gaze and a smirk forms on his face and he shakes his head. He places his hand on his adopted son's – though he never thinks of him like that – shoulder and softly shakes him.

"Go ahead", he says and he's already half turned around. "Enjoy your last night."

Lucas doesn't have to be told twice. He comes up behind Peyton and cups both her elbows while whispering into her ear; "Come outside with me."

She hands Jamie off to Haley and then the three friends watch as the two blonde walk off; all wearing smiles. Peyton grabs Lucas's hand and Lucas interlaces their fingers. By the time they reach the door that leads to the balcony Lucas feels like he's going to pass out.

The second the door closes behind them Peyton's pressing herself against him and running her fingers through his hair. Lucas can't say he hates it, but he needs to do something first. He gently pushes her away; kissing her quickly when she pouts.

"Thank you for getting Rachel here, I appreciate that", she whispers. Lucas smiles and nods; not trusting his nervous voice. Peyton furrows her brows and trails her hands down his arms, stopping to hold his hands. "You're coming over later, right?"

Again he nods and Peyton lets out a frustrated sigh. He's really not showing much of an interest. Lucas pulls her close to him and kisses her temple before kissing her cheek and then her nose before finally landing on her lips.

"I have something I need to say, okay?" Peyton nods and Lucas takes a small black box out the pocket of his jeans. Peyton gasps, feels her heartbeat speed up, and it's suddenly like she has no vocabulary at all.

"I just – I know how scared you've been about me leaving and you staying here and I wanted to show you that I mean it when I say I love you and there's nobody else for me. You're it, Peyton Sawyer and I think you have been since the first moment I saw you all those years ago."

He doesn't get down on one knee and he's not wearing a tailored suit. She doesn't even think this is a proposal, but she most certainly knows she's going to tell their children about this moment someday and that gives her the biggest butterflies she's ever had.

He opens the box and her a few tears trail their way down her cheeks. She knows that ring; it was her mother's. And she's so completely in love with Lucas in this moment that if he asked her to go to Vegas and get married she would do it in a heartbeat.

"This doesn't mean that we're getting married tomorrow, it doesn't even have to mean that we're engaged. It's just my promise to you that you're not losing me and we'll never say goodbye as long as I have anything to do with it. Before your father passed away I asked him for this for future references, but I want to give it to you now."

She nods mutedly and Lucas slips the thin white gold band onto the fourth finger of her left hand. Before he can say another word she kisses him with more love and passion than she thinks she ever has and Lucas wraps her so tightly in his arms that she can't really breath, but she doesn't really care either.

"I love you so much, Lucas Scott", she finally says. He grins at her and kisses her again.

"I love you too, Peyton Sawyer someday Scott", he whispers with a certain lilt in his voice.

Peyton closes her eyes and rests her head on his shoulder. Months ago the thought of being here for the summer made her want to cry. She never thought she'd experience the things she has and she never thought she'd have Lucas. He's opened her eyes to new things and opened her heart to love. It sounds cheesy and the old version of her would have hated to even have that thought, but she's not that same person anymore.

Three months is all it took for her entire life to change.

And now she can't wait to see what the future holds.

( Sincerely hope it's you
Sincerely hope it's you

Sorry about the length! Let me know what you think!