I own nothing, just like I don't own "Find A Way" by SafetySuit.

A little oneshot of my guilt ship. AU because Haley doesn't come back.

SafetySuit is wonderful and this song is all kinds of sexy (at least in my opinion) haha.


( Hold on, what's the rush, what's the rush we're not done are we
Cause I don't need to change this atmosphere we've made if
You can stay one more hour can you stay one more hour

It starts innocently enough.

They happen to meet in the same bar (the Blue Post never ID's them) on the same night (they were together hours earlier) that everything seems to have gone so wrong. He slides up next to her and takes a seat on the barstool. When his dark blue eyes glance over at her drink he cringes; whiskey on the rocks. It must be serious.

He doesn't say anything as the bartender approaches, just nods to what the blonde is drinking and holds up two fingers. If she doesn't drink the second one, he surely will. It's not until after the bartender's gone that he glances at her and purses his lips.

"What's got you drinking your feelings?"

Peyton sighs and downs the rest of the amber liquid just as the two that Nathan ordered are placed on the bar top. She takes the glass without asking or even looking at him and takes a large gulp. Her night has royally sucked and all she wants to do is get drunk. Good and drunk.

"Life", she mutters with the glass to her lips. Nathan nods and raises his glass in her direction before downing it. She furrows her brows and shifts so that she's facing him. "What's got you drinking your feelings?"

"My dad's Dan Scott", he says simply, but that's not the reason at all; not tonight at least. He can feel her doubtful gaze on him and he sighs. She's always been able to tell when he's lying. That was always the factor to their fights – he'd lie about cheating and she'd call him out on it. "This night has royally sucked."

Peyton blinks and quickly wracks her brain; did she say that out loud before? She shakes her head and knows she shouldn't have another drink, but she's going to anyway. She's not exactly new to the party and drinking scene, but she can handle beer a lot better then she can liquor.

"Brooke really fucked with us tonight, huh?" he hasn't looked over at her yet, but she's keeping her body facing his. Even the sound of her best friends name has her cringing. She knows Brooke can be a total bitch when she wants too, but Peyton rarely on the receiving end of that. Apparently it's a different story when a boy is involved.

Typical Brooke Davis.

"God, I don't even want to think about her right now", Peyton mutters. They each take a sip of their whiskeys, but Peyton's the only one to make a face as it burns her throat. Nathan always was whiskey drinker; something he gets from Dan, but she doesn't ever say those words to him.

Nathan finishes off his third glass and motions for another one. He really just wants to forget this night ever happened. He wants to forget Haley James ever happened. She's never going to talk to him again thanks to Brooke and her drunken charades. He was honestly starting to like the mousey tutor too. It just goes to show that he's better off being a jackass and not caring about anything or anyone, but himself.

"Want another?" he asks. Peyton's about to shake her head, but then she's overcome with images of Lucas.

His blonde hair and soulful blue eyes. The way he smelled and how his hands felt like feathers on her skin. And then she's hit with his words. I want this. You know, I wanna be here. I wanna have everything with you. I want it all. I want us. Nobody's ever told her that before, well she's only had one serious boyfriend and Nathan never said anything close to that. Naturally it scared her away, especially when all she wanted was sex. Maybe that's a lie, but she doesn't know. She thinks that someday she and Lucas could work, but she's (honestly) too scared to try that now. But she really just doesn't want to think anymore.

"Yeah, I do", she says. They clink their glasses together and both drink as much as they can before putting them down (Nathan trumps her of course). "You know who sucks?" she asks and doesn't wait for an answer. Nathan smiles because she's always done that, and he's always loved it. "Your brother."

"Don't call him that", Nathan grumbles. He doesn't want to have any relation to Lucas mostly because that makes him have to think about Haley. And he doesn't even know why he's so hung up on her; they weren't even a couple!

"It's what he is!" she counters with a laugh. Nathan chuckles and tips his head back; the last bit of his drink follows. "Anyway, he sucks. It couldn't just be about sex –"

"You had sex with him?!" Nathan shouts as he faces her head on. She flinches away from him and shakes her head.

"No because feelings had to get involved and . . ." she doesn't want to say she got scared because that would imply that she was damaged or broken and she doesn't want Nathan to think he had any contributions to that.

The alcohol is buzzing in their systems and if they were in a better frame of mind they would stop drinking and get home. But since they're already pretty drunk, drinking more doesn't seem like it could hurt. And that's when Nathan says;

"I liked Haley or I think I could have."

Peyton makes a disbelieving face. "Haley James, your tutor. The girl you told me there was nothing going on with?" when he sees her raised brow he smirks and lifts his hand to smooth her brow with his thumb. "What did you do?" she whispers.

"Honestly nothing, but she wouldn't hear me out and I guess I suck for not going after her, but I wanted to get drunk and forget", his eyelids feel heavy and he knows he's drunk. And if he's drunk Peyton must be plastered.

His blonde ex has a lazy smile on her face that's solely because of all the alcohol she's consumed. Her eyes snap open wide and she signals to the bartender. Nathan watches as he pulls two shot glasses out from behind the bar and grabs the large bottle of Jose Cuervo; Nathan shivers. Tequila and Peyton could go one of two ways.

She hands him a shot and then raises hers in the air. Nathan doesn't know what they're cheersing to, but he knocks his against hers and she gets so excited about her toast that she uses the bars on the stool as leverage as she lifts herself off the stool. It's actually kind of adorable.


"You tried to", Nathan says as he points at her. She slaps his shoulder and makes a disgusted face.

"Nathan Scott, don't be such a pig!" Peyton demands.

They both laugh and throw back the shots like champions. Neither of them knows how much time they spend there, doing shots of tequila and sometimes Soco and lime, but it seems like mere minutes pass before the bartender comes to tell them they're closing for the night.

Peyton takes a deep breath and the thin strap of her black dress falls off her shoulder. Nathan, maybe out of habit, maybe due to the drinks he's consumed, delicately lifts it into place and his fingers linger on her skin. Their eyes meet and no words are spoken. He takes out his wallet and tosses a few bills at the bartender.

Together they leave the small bar.

The second they're outside his lips are on hers and she's pulling him impossibly close.

( You know I'm gonna find a way to let you have your way with me
You know I'm gonna find a time to catch your hand and make you stay

They make it to Peyton's house and once her front door is closed Nathan pushes her against it. He moves his lips to her neck and Peyton lets out a breathy noise that he wants to hear again and again. So he hits that spot (the one she always thought he never knew about) as often as he can and is sure to leave a hickey.

"God Nathan", she pants. Her hands blindly maneuver around his body and she starts to undo the button of his blue dress shirt. She slides it down his arms and Nathan pulls away from her collar bone long enough for her to pull his white undershirt over his head.

He silently picks her up and she naturally wraps her legs tightly around his waist. He pulls away from her lips to groan loudly and his head drops to the juncture of her neck and shoulder. Peyton whispers something smutty in his ear and the nips at his lobe and he groans again. It's been a few months since they've slept together and he's forgotten how much of a vixen she can be when she wants to.

That thought spurs on the thought that maybe they shouldn't be doing this. They stopped being a couple for a reason otherwise they'd still be together. The problem was never their sex life (because that was always pretty amazing) it was the fact that they used sex to avoid other issues (the big issues).

But then Peyton's pressing herself against him and he's practically running up her wooden stairs. Peyton's never been more grateful for his athletic abilities then she is when he starts taking them both up the stairs. At this point she doesn't think she could make it up to her room for two reasons: she's drunk and she really just wants Nathan.

She wiggles herself out of his embrace and pads over to her bed. On her way she unzips her dress and Nathan watches as it pools around her feet. He's removing his belt and unzipping his pants when she turns around and gives him her best come hither look. Nathan smirks and shakes his head as he rushes forward and takes her into his arms.

From there things are frantic. He practically rips her panties off her lower half and Peyton uses her feet to push his boxer off her legs and then they're both completely exposed (she wasn't wearing a bra which was obvious, but killed him nonetheless). Her hand falls to his bicep just like it always did and Nathan kisses his way down her body. She takes in a deep breath and parts her lips as his teeth drag across her hip bone.

His hand lays flat against her stomach and Peyton knows what that means. But she can't – doesn't – want that now. She just needs Nathan not foreplay. Her hand grabs his and it steals away his attention; he moves up her body and hovers over her. Nathan watches as she shakes her head and bites her bottom lip. She makes sure to stress her silent plea by lifting her hips and rocking against him.

Nathan's hand pulls open her nightstand drawer and he's thankful she hasn't moved the condoms. But he also hopes she hasn't been using them with other people. He's so lost in his thoughts that he hasn't realized Peyton's taken the condom from him until she's rolling it on. She strokes him once after its in place and he grunts loudly.

This girl is amazing.

They kiss and touch some more until neither of them can stand to wait any longer. And then it's all about the pace they're moving at and the noises they're making. It's about the feel of each other and wonderful pressure building. Peyton doesn't last very long and Nathan follows shortly after her. He rolls off of her and onto his back. They're both panting heavily and slick with sweat and Peyton knows she'll be a little sore in the morning, but she doesn't care.

Right now, she's wondering why they ever broke up in the first place.

When Peyton wakes up in the morning, if she wasn't naked, sore, and didn't have a pounding headache, she'd seriously wonder what the hell happened last night. But she is naked, sore, and does have a pounding headache . . . and the other side of her bed has the scent of cologne that she's only ever bought for one person.

"There are two Advil's on your nightstand; take them and chug the water", Nathan instructs. Peyton whimpers when the blinding light hits her face and she rolls away from it. "God, when's the last time you were hungover?"

She opens one eye and the glare she manages to give him makes him proud. She can be a total bitch with minimal effort. And he's actually thinking that with the utmost affection. When you go so long without something, he supposes you can come to miss it.

"Probably the last time we broke up", she quips with a sleep filled voice. Nathan chuckles which makes Peyton laugh too though neither of them know if they should be joking about their tumultuous relationship.

"Lame", he mumbles. She sits up, clutching the sheet to her body, and reaches for the Advil Nathan left for her. The vibrating of her cell causes her to close her eyes and groan. "It's probably Brooke", Nathan says easily.

Peyton kinks an eyebrow, but Nathan doesn't apologize. Her phone vibrated fifteen times this morning. Fifteen times! It's what woke him up in the first place. He buttons of his shirt buttons and sits down on the side of her bed. Peyton mumbles something about being shocked that Brooke's even alive at this hour.

Nathan nods. "When I left my house she was passed out on my bedroom floor", Peyton rolls her eyes and pops the two pills. "And it's not really an ungodly hour; it's like 2 in the afternoon."

"Whatever", she grumbles playfully. She flips open her phone and the first of nearly 30 texts catches Peyton's attention. "She wants to go to a Duke party tonight; she'll be here in fifteen."

"That's my cue", he says softly. Peyton nods in agreement and then they both simply stare at each other.

"Nate, I . . . last night was – I don't. God, I don't really know how to have the morning after talk", she mumbles with a soft smile. Nathan smirks and just because the opportunity is good he says;

"Yeah, that's more my area", Peyton's mouth drops and she whacks his shoulder. The sheet starts to fall, but she catches it in time. Then she pretends not to notice the way Nathan's eyes darken. "Alright, I'm going to go before Brooke gets here and thinks all her conniving worked."

"That's the last thing we need", Peyton agrees. Nathan squeezes her leg and then kisses her forehead (it surprises them both) before standing from her bed. "Thanks Nate", she says softly. He winks as he walks out her door and she listens to his heavy footsteps as he jogs down the stairs and then closes her door.

It won't be the last time

( Hold on, I'll be here when it's all done you know
Cause what's the point in chasing if I can't enjoy your face and
We can't be wrong tonight, can we be wrong tonight

It all seems innocent enough.

The next few months are . . . weird to say the least.

Lucas and Haley try to fulfill their whole "let them have their world" attitude, but it doesn't work. Nathan actually strives to gain back Haley's trust (which he does) and Brooke convinces Lucas to take her on a date. On this date she gets him drunk, seduces him, and then brands him as her own (not really, but he gets a tattoo that matches hers).

Peyton doesn't know any of this when she goes to his house to tell him she wants all the things he talked about the night of Dan's annual money burn.

She finds out when Brooke comes walking into his bedroom just wearing his sweatshirt.

Then things get weirder. A couple of weeks after Peyton admits her true feelings (and then has to deny them) Lucas goes with her to identify a body that may or may not be her father's. After being elated that it's not, she gives in to her emotions and kisses Lucas; kissing escalates to nearly sleeping together. Nathan and Haley fall in love. Lucas and Peyton start a secret relationship, while he's dating Brooke. And after countless promises and deep breaths to start the conversation with Brooke, it never happens. But she finds out anyway. Nathan emancipates himself because he's sick of his parents. Peyton breaks things off with Lucas, but Brooke finds out about the affair and cuts them both out of her life.

"Tonight was fun", Peyton says, a laugh still in her throat, as she exits Nathan's bathroom. She's drying her hair with the towel that was in there and is wearing his sweatshirt.

"It was, it's been a while since we've hung out", he muses. Peyton nods and sits next to him on the bed.

"Well you've been busy falling in love", she says with a smile. "And I've been busy begging for my best friends' forgiveness."

Nathan frowns. He knows he hasn't really gotten caught up in the whole Lucas, Peyton, Brooke love triangle, but the fact that Peyton's been groveling for her friendship back really pisses him off. Okay, Peyton shouldn't have snuck around, but Nathan knows for a fact that Brooke can't get on a moral high horse. He would never tell Peyton because it would crush her, but some days he really wants to.

"Can I be honest with you?" he asks softly. She leans back on her elbows and nods her head. "I think I was hitting on you before . . . in the pool", he hangs his head like a scolded puppy.

"You think?" she asks rhetorically; it's pretty obvious that he was. "Nathan, what's going on?"

He runs his hands through his dark hair and sighs. "I don't know. I guess I just, everything with Haley is good, you know? But sometimes I feel like I can never say the right words or do the right things. I feel inferior sometimes. I've never felt like that before and I – with you it was –"

"If the next word out of your mouth is easy, I will smack you", there's a playful tilt to her voice, but they both know how very serious she is. "Nathan, we were terrible when we dated."

He furrows his brows and opens and closes his mouth; much like a guppy. "Okay, we weren't exactly going to win couple of the year", he mumbles once he finds his voice.

"Well actually we did. Our freshman and sophomore year", she says with a smile. Nathan smiles too. Those were good years. Most days (when he thinks about it) he really doesn't know what changed about them or him, but things were different after the summer before their junior year.

"Anyway, I wanted to apologize because I shouldn't be doing that I guess."

"No you shouldn't because Haley really cares about you –"

"I care about her too", he assures Peyton.

"And because . . . you're not the guy you were at the start of the school year", she whispers, suddenly feeling self-conscious.

He smiles at her and the tips of his ears turn a little pink (like they always do when he's embarrassed) and she can't believe she's embarrassed him. "For the record, you're not the same girl you were either."

Peyton smiles back at him although she can't say she agrees. Nathan continues to speak;

"I just think . . . I think I'm always gonna have feelings for you, Peyton.

They both let the moment of silence that follows settle over the air and then Nathan leans down in her direction and his arm reaches over her body. She feels her breath escape her and her heart starts to race. She tried to take the high road in the pool before when Nathan was talking about their relationship, but the truth is, she still thinks about that night sometimes and the way Nathan made her feel and forget.

"What are you doing?" she asks quietly.

"Enough of this talking about feelings pussy bullshit. Let's get drunk", he pulls a bottle of Jack out of virtually nowhere and stands from the bed.

"You're so eloquent", Peyton says as she lets out a breath of air. She flops back against the bed and calms her nerves and crazy thoughts. It's Nathan, just Nathan, she repeats over and over in her head.

She gets up and follows him into the kitchen where he's already got two shot glasses filled to the brim waiting for them. They don't have much time to spend together (rules of the Auction are quite clear) so she doesn't see the harm in having a few shots.

A few turns into a lot and before she knows it, most of the bottle is gone. She raises the small glass to her lips and is about to down the liquid, but she has to stop. She's feeling dizzy and lightheaded and she really shouldn't be allowed to drink liquor. Nathan chuckles from beside her and she glares at him.

"With Haley I just don't know who I am", he says. They've spent a good part of the night talking about his girlfriend and her . . . her Lucas. Luckily, she didn't notice the way Nathan cringed every time she mentioned being with his older brother.

"Sometimes it's not bad to lose yourself in another person", she mumbles, thinking about the time she spent with Lucas feeling like she was in another world.

"No, I don't mean like blissful kind of lost. I guess I don't want to show her the real me. When I acted the way I used to, she shut me out completely and then I started to change and she saw me as this jock with possibilities. I feel like I have to walk on pins and needles."

"That's not true", she whispers. Nathan shrugs and takes another shot. "Just so you know, you weren't always a terrible boyfriend", she says begrudgingly.

He shakes his head, smirks and knocks his shoulder against hers. "See, with you it was always clear. I was an asshole and you were a bitch", her mouth drops and she takes another shot of Jack.

"Told you we were horrible together", she makes a face as the liquid burns her throat.

"But no matter what you always took me back", he whispers. She meets his eyes and takes a deep breath. "Why?"

"Because . . . I loved you, Nathan; it was easy to", she looks down at his floor and Nathan lets out a muted sigh. "And I was hoping you'd actually change when you promised you would", she admits.

"You weren't always a bitch", he says softly. "And if you were bitchy it was because I gave you a reason for it."

She smiles at him and thinks this is the first real conversation they've had in regards to when they dated. Things were pretty bad sometimes, but there were other times when it made sense. It wasn't because it was better than being alone or because there was nobody else. It was because she was Peyton and he was Nathan.

The ringing of his cell phone causes him to shake his head and refocus his attention. There has been too many times tonight where he and Peyton have shared some type of moment. He flips open his cell and reads the text from Haley.

"She and Lucas are calling it a night. She'll see me tomorrow", he mumbles. Peyton checks the clock on the wall and yawns loudly. It's nearly midnight and that means their night is coming to an end.

"I should probably get going too", she runs her hands through her hair and Nathan stares at her. She's wearing his sweatshirt and an old pair of his basketball shorts; she looks pretty damn good in his clothes. That's why he grabs her arm to stop her from passing him; it's midnight after all and a kiss is customary.

They kiss because they have to.

But Nathan doesn't have to bury his hand wrist deep into her semi-dry hair. Peyton doesn't have to cup his face. Neither of them has to slip the other the tongue and Nathan most definitely doesn't have to back her up against his kitchen wall.

"I better go", she repeats a little breathlessly. Nathan clears his throat and nods before backing away from her. She nods her head and feels more sober than she should. But she knows she needs to get out of here before something happens that they'll both regret.

And this time its Nathan watching her walk out the door.

( You know I'm gonna find a way to let you have your way with me
You know I'm gonna find a time to catch your hand and make you stay

She doesn't exactly want to be here. It's the end of summer and they start school on Monday which according to Brooke is reason enough to party. So she's stuck playing DJ (though she doesn't really mind it) and pacing her drink intake so she doesn't look like an alcoholic.

"Can't say I blame you", apparently someone's been keeping tabs on how many cups she's had. Her green eyes meet Lucas's blue ones and she offers him a small smile. "I'm sorry if what I said about Ellie –"

"It's okay", she quickly cuts him off. "Thank you for telling me", this time her smile is more sincere and when Lucas winks she can feel her heart race. It's all a little pathetic, but it's Lucas. And like he told her a few weeks ago it's always going to be there; even when she hates that it is.

She was able to convince herself that it was just because she missed Jake so much. She was pushing feelings onto someone who was being there for her in a moment of despair. But as the summer dragged on and she heard him mumble and whine and complain about Brooke, she knew it was more than transference of feelings. Her heart broke every time he mentioned it.

And just as she's thinking of her best friend the brunette prances over to her little station and kinks her eyebrow. "Can you please play something that doesn't make me want to shoot up and die?"

She hears Lucas make a noise and her eyes glance up to meet his (this is the girl he wants to be with?). She slams her hand on the record and quickly switches it to something the princess will like. Because it's always all about Brooke; Peyton shakes her head, she shouldn't be thinking things like that. Lucas starts to say something to her (once Brooke walks away smiling), but Peyton ignores him completely.

Because a certain dark haired Scott has entered her line of vision.

Lucas watches as she grins widely (wider than he's seen in recent weeks) and jogs over to him. It's good to see her so excited and it's really good to see her smile like that. But he pretends that seeing her wrap her arms around his brothers neck doesn't leave a crack on his heart.

"Nathan Scott!" she yells. He laughs loudly against her ear and lifts her off the sand, her feet swing around wildly. "It's so good to see you", her words are muffled because her face is buried against his neck.

Nathan suppresses the shiver he feels running up his spine.

"Peyton Sawyer", he mocks just not as loudly. He places her on her feet and pushes her back an arms length. "You really chopped off all your hair."

She bites her bottom lip and suddenly feels incredibly self conscious about her flippant decision. All her nerves are erased when Nathan tucks some hair behind her ear and nods approvingly. She doesn't really feel like analyzing why she feels better.

"It's a good look, Sawyer", she rolls her eyes and punches his shoulder before telling him to hit the keg and meet her at the DJ station. He playfully salutes her and does as she's asked.

Peyton walks back to her spot with a smile on her face that she doesn't know is there. Nathan's spent his entire summer in Florida at a basketball camp that he's wanted to go to since seventh grade. They spent the last eight weeks trading letters and e-mails and Peyton's loved hearing all about the things he's done and the places he's gone. And he never mentioned another girl so that was a plus.

He and Haley broke up before the end of their junior year. Well, they didn't break up so much as Haley left to go on a rock tour with some arrogant musician. Nathan was a lot more hurt than he ever let on. He never said he missed Haley, but Peyton could just tell. He had the same sad eyes she saw in the mirror whenever she thought about Jake.

"Alright so, tell me all about this mystery mother of yours", he says from behind her. She turns around and gladly takes the red cup that's offered. And then she starts her story about the creepy blonde woman who, as it turns out, is her birth mother. She's also got a drug problem which she learned about from Lucas.

"So that's been my summer", she says with a laugh. Nathan frowns and pulls her into a hug. "It wasn't terrible, but it was just unnecessary drama", she grumbles.

They break apart and Nathan locks eyes with his older brother. They haven't spoken much in the recent months; Haley was pretty much the common link they had. Once she left they just kind of cut ties. But now he supposes they have another person in common (the same person they always had in common). He notices how Lucas's eyes glance over to Peyton and Nathan can't say he likes that.

It's kind of – a lot – territorial, but Nathan turns to Peyton and pulls her in for another hug. He quickly turns his eyes in his brother's direction: Lucas clenches his jaw slightly and turns away. Nathan smirks triumphantly.

Peyton laughs and asks; "What was that for?"

"Lucas was looking", Nathan says simply. Peyton's mouth drops and she shoves Nathan; hard. "Ow, what the hell, Peyton?"

"Can you not be so damn immature?" she yells. "Nathan, don't be doing stuff like that; he'll get the wrong idea", she says softly.

The brunette in front of her raises his brows. "And we can't have Lucas getting the wrong impression about things, right? You're unbelievable", he grumbles.

"Don't do that! Don't you dare stand there and judge me. What would you do if it was Haley?" she asks angrily.

"I would tell her to fuck off!" he yells. Now he's angry too and this is just not how either of them thought they would spend their first night seeing each other. "She left, Peyton. She left me for sold out stadiums and a douche bag with a guitar. She didn't want me anymore; kind of like Lucas doesn't want you. It's really a little pathetic", he spits out.

Peyton's mouth forms an O shape and she can feel her eyes start to water. That was either the most hurtful thing she's ever been told or the most truthful. Maybe it's really both of those things; she just can't admit that right now.

Nathan lets out a breath and looks down into his half empty cup. He hadn't meant for those things to come out of his mouth, but once he got started he couldn't stop. And now he feels like a total dick; he is a total dick.

The blonde turns away from him and faces the crowd of drunken teenagers. She's doing everything she can not to cry right now, but unless Nathan leaves soon she knows those tears will be streaming down her cheeks in seconds.

"I'm gonna go say hi to Tim", he mutters and then disappears.

He really just needs to clear his head. Truthfully, maybe he's a little jealous that his brother has such a strong hold over Peyton. He wants to have that kind of power over someone. To make them lose their shit and always keep in the back of their minds. That person doesn't necessarily have to be Peyton, but . . . he shouldn't be thinking these things at all.

After a short walk along the beach and stopping to talk to Tim and some of the other guys on the team he makes his way back. When a tray of tequila shooters catches his eye he knows he needs to grab two. A peace offering of sorts and than he can make a quick little comment about the last time they had tequila together (they wound up in her bed).

He stops in his tracks when he sees Lucas pull Peyton into a sideways hug. That's not what bothers him about it though; it's the way she melts into his embrace.

Brooke walks up next to him. Her eyes filled with dread, and pain, and apprehension. She folds her arms over herself and lets out a sad laugh.

"It kind of sucks that the guy for me is the guy for her too", she says in that trademark raspy voice. He looks down at her and she takes a large breath in before walking off to find a boy to distract her from her feelings.

And Nathan is left wondering if there will ever come a day when Lucas and Peyton aren't always going to be there.

( I don't care what clothes you wear, it's time to love and I don't care
You know I'm gonna find a way to let you have your way with me

Later that night Peyton's sitting in her room with a bottle of Jack on her nightstand and a glass with a small amount of that liquid in her hands. After Nathan's verbal beating she wasn't really in the mood to hang out and get drunk at the beach with a bunch of her classmates.

And maybe she didn't want to see Lucas try so hard to get back with Brooke.

She doesn't know why she cares so much. Okay, maybe she does. But she shouldn't let it affect her so much. The more she thinks about it, the more she realizes that it was Nathan's words that really affected her. He flat out told her to get the hell over Lucas because he was clearly over her. And that's the weird part.

She thinks that she is over Lucas or that she could be some time soon. But she also thinks that maybe he'll always be that boy; the one that every girl has. Even though they aren't together and probably never will be, she aches when she sees him with someone else. But she's also a little drunk so maybe she's not making any sense.

Her front door opens and closes and she really hopes it's not Brooke. The footsteps are heavy and now she hopes it's not Lucas. She looks more than pathetic sitting in her mostly dark room with a bottle of liquor to fill her sorrows.

When Nathan steps into her doorway she doesn't really give a damn.

He hasn't been this nervous to be around her in a long time. He said some pretty brutal things at the beach earlier and she didn't stick around too much longer after that. Lucas was busy following Brooke around so he knew Peyton would be alone for a while.

He fiddles around her room for a minute or two without saying anything. He can feel her eyes on him and he finally clears his throat. When he looks at her he notices how hard she's working to not smile at his actions.

"The last thing I expected you to do is smile", he says.

"I'm not smiling", Peyton bites back. Nathan smirks and takes a seat in the chair by her computer. "Why are you here?" she feigns confusion.

He sighs loudly. "I said some things that I really shouldn't have and I wanted to apologize for it", he mumbles sincerely. Peyton finally let's herself smile at him.

"Yeah the things you said were harsh, but they weren't without merit."

He shrugs and makes a noise she can't decipher. She watches as he runs his hand over the short buzz of his dark hair and she feels her blood warm. Peyton puts the glass that still contains her Jack Daniels on her nightstand and scoots to the edge of her bed so that she's closer to Nathan.

She doesn't know why she does it.

"Still . . . I don't want to mess up our friendship", he says after watching her actions. Her body still amazes him. And it amazes him even more that she has no idea just how gorgeous she is. "What's that?" he asks suddenly.

Peyton feigns an innocent stare and shrugs one of her shoulders. "What's what?"

Nathan stands and walks over to her closet door. "This; my name on your door, with your name on top?"

Peyton groans in embarrassment and buries her face in her hands. She really doesn't want to tell Nathan the reason for it because it just seems ridiculous. But at the same time, she doesn't really have anything to lose.

"Brooke made a list of all the guys we're allowed to hook up with", she grumbles. He makes a noise that has Peyton wanting to kill herself. This is just too humiliating.

The first thing he notices is that Lucas's name is under Brooke's. Clear as day. And as much as he doesn't want to admit it or think it, it must suck for Peyton to look at it. "Dave Grohl, Anna", he stops to wiggle his brows at her, "The Rivercourt guys . . . why is there a star next to my name?"

"That's because nobody knows if Haley's coming back", she says through a breath of air. He nods and walks to her metal art caddy to find a marker. Peyton's convinced he's going to cross out his name completely, but he doesn't.

He colors in the star so it's like it was never there.

And the unexplainable pain she felt in her chest starts to disappear.

"Leave it to Brooke to meddle again", he mumbles. "And I don't care if Haley comes back", he whispers sincerely.

Peyton takes in a deep breath and Nathan watches as the strap of her thin camisole falls off her shoulder. This is all too familiar of that night last year. Granted some things are different, but he's wearing a blue button down and that strap is begging him to be put back into place.

Without a word he walks over and cups her face in his large hands.

It's like she's waiting for it. She's waiting for his tongue to sweep into her mouth. She's waiting for his hand to messily fix that strap (even though her entire shirt will be off in a few minutes). She's waiting for him to lay her on her back. And she welcomes it all.

She thinks, maybe, she shouldn't.

She misses Jake and had to spend the whole summer with Lucas. He whined about Brooke the whole time and that just made her want to slit her wrists. So maybe being with Nathan is just the simplest thing right now. And honestly, she never thought the day would come where she thought that. But she doesn't care to analyze it.

Because Nathan's just found that spot on her neck.

She breathes out a version of his name and Nathan has to pull away from her neck just to smirk at her. And if his next move wasn't to take off his own shirt, hers certainly would have (damn that smirk). She lets out a noise of appreciation at his body; toned and tanned from the summer workouts.

He swoops down to kiss her again and between their lips barely losing contact her shirt is discarded and both pairs of shorts are gone. She finally gets a moment to think when he's moving above her. It's an odd time for her to consider the effects their few and far between trysts could have. But it doesn't really matter. Because she doesn't even think about Lucas when she's with Nathan. And she's sure Nathan doesn't think about Haley (regardless of what he says, he must miss her).

It's just two friends helping each other forget.

It's innocent really, but Peyton's the only one justifying it.

( And if I was running, you'd be the one who I would be running to
And if I was crying, you would be lining the cloud that would pull me through

The night it becomes painfully obvious that their little encounters aren't so innocent comes shortly after graduation.

Nathan's sitting in one of the guest bedrooms of his beach house. There's a party going on downstairs (in honor of their graduation the day before), but he's locked himself away in the bedroom that was formally his.

The last few months in Tree Hill have been absolutely hectic. Between practicing hard to make it to the State Championship and starting to revive his relationship with his brother he hasn't had time to breathe. Not to mention the school shooting (Peyton was shot), the death of his uncle (during the shooting), the arrest of his father (for murdering his uncle), and then finally winning the championship trophy.

It's been a hell of a spring term.

"Here you are", a familiar voice causes him to turn his head and smile. "What are you doing up here?" she asks softly; knowing he's probably wallowing.

"High school's finally over", he mumbles. Peyton nods and walks further into the room. She vaguely remembers this as being his bedroom during the summers they were together. She also remembers the things they used to do in this bedroom (those thoughts aren't as vague).

"It certainly is", she voices her agreement. He doesn't look over at her, not even when she sits beside him, so she speaks again; "Thank God for that."

She had hoped that her playful tone and gentle jab to his side would cause some sort of smile to form on his lips. She sighs softly and contemplates just walking out of the room. There's clearly nothing she can do (no matter how badly she wants to) and she knows Nathan. He'll just get mad if she keeps pushing him.

He can sense her agitation and he feels bad for it. It's not like it's her fault his father is a murderer. Her body shifts and he knows she's about to leave, but he doesn't want her to.

"Do you remember the plan?"

She looks at him with a grin and tucks some hair behind her ears while nodding her head. They were just kids when they planned out their life. Young and in love and completely naïve. But she'd give pretty much anything to feel that way again.

"Of course! You were going to go to Duke and play basketball", she says obviously with a roll of her eyes. "And I was going to go there too and study business or art. I was going to go to all your games –"

"You were going to cheer at them!" he argues.

"I didn't know if I was going to cheer at that point", she counters with a smirk. "It didn't really matter what either of us did or accomplished . . . we just wanted to be together", she whispers with a fond, private smile. "We had it all figured out, huh?"

"We certainly thought we did", he mumbles. She notices a small smirk and she bumps his shoulder with her own.

"Imagine if we had stayed together?" Peyton finds herself saying without really stopping to think. She and Nathan don't typically censor themselves when they're with each other, but maybe she should have. He takes a deep breath.

"Peyton, I love you . . . I don't think I've ever stopped", he whispers somehow sounding the most unsure, but the most sure of himself she's ever heard him sound. Her heart races and she starts to smile, she really does.

But she stops herself.

This isn't supposed to happen. She and Nathan are friends, best friends really. They make fun of Lucas and Brooke and did the chicken dance together at prom. For almost the first time in her life she's found a sort of peace with someone and she can't really afford to lose that, not now anyway.

And she'd like to pretend this is coming out of left field, but it totally isn't. If she's being honest with herself (a feat in and of itself) she felt a gentle shift that night they slept together in junior year. From then on things were just different with them and sleeping together after that didn't really help.

Nathan watches as she seems to have this inner battle. Now may not have been the best time to blurt it out, but she's leaving soon for an internship in LA and if he doesn't lay it all out there now he'll probably never do it. Never may have been the better option, but he's never been a punk like that.

So instead of having to hear her reject him verbally he leans forward and presses his lips to hers. She lets out a small noise of surprise, but slowly sinks into it. At the end of the day this is Nathan and sure, he wasn't great for the last year of their relationship, but he's been an amazing friend to her for the last two years and he's really great in bed.

So her hand cups his cheek and he grips her hip desperately. She keeps telling herself it's just Nathan and this is just sex, but there's a small part of her that's telling her she's wrong. That voice is screaming that this is Nathan and this is sex. She's not really too sure what that means, but she's got a pretty good idea.

She loves him too.

She more than loves him.

It shouldn't be possible and she's sure it breaks some kind of cosmic laws, but they never really did follow any rules. When she's lying on her back and his hand is up her shirt, she gets this feeling in the pit of her stomach, a feeling so different than a simple response to his actions.

The crowd of high school graduates cheer from inside the living room and in an attempt at ignoring her inner thoughts she mumbles; "I wonder what's going on out there."

"Who the fuck cares", Nathan breathes out as he presses a kiss to the hollow of her throat.

Peyton lets out a puff of air that resembles a laugh. She kisses him hard and looks into his blue eyes. Eyes that are so different than the ones she once dreamt of gazing into; and she finds that she's more than okay with that.

She takes a deep breath and says; "Nathan I –"

"Oh my God, it's Nathan and Peyton having sex!"

The former couple stops what they're doing and Peyton gasps before pushing him off of her and fixing her shirt. Nathan curses and takes a few deep breaths before following after her. This is just what he needs right now. Okay, so he and Peyton experimented a little while they were together. It's not like he watches the tapes anymore or anything; that would be creepy.

He starts jogging to catch up with her as she screams at someone to turn it off. Nobody listens of course. It's Peyton Sawyer; if he hadn't been there he'd want to see her in action too. The curly blonde is just about to turn it off when all of a sudden everyone freezes.

The girl sits up and she doesn't have curly blonde hair and a southern drawl. She's got straight dark hair and a raspy voice that he's sure will play in Peyton's ears forever. And then there's Nathan, in his former douche bag act, promising Brooke that nobody will ever find out about it.

Like so many other times, he's failed to keep his promise.

Peyton lets out a breath of air that he's sure is a quiet sob. Her face turns to stone and she slowly walks over to her best (ex?) friend. Brooke shakes her head and starts to apologize, but she doesn't get that far.

Peyton punches Brooke in the face and gives Nathan the most disgusted look he's ever received from her.

But what hurts him the most is when she quietly asks Lucas to take her home.

( And if I was scared, then I would be glad to tell you and walk away
But I am not lying, I am just trying to find my way in to you

He's never up this early unless it's to practice and since its summer he's taking a little break until he has to buckle down for Duke. The truth is he's awake at this ungodly hour for a much more important reason. Peyton texted him to meet her at the Rivercourt and he'd be a damn fool not to. They haven't spoken (totally her call) since the night of his party.

Considering she leaves in a few hours and wanted to see him . . . he thinks the odds might be in his favor now.

He notices her staring out at the river as the sun is rising. It casts a glorious halo of yellow and pink and red around her body and she really looks like an angel. God, if the sixteen year old version of himself could hear him now. He sounds like a little bitch.

"Hey", he says quietly so he doesn't frighten her. Peyton turns around and folds her arms over her chest. "I'm really glad you wanted to see me", he says vulnerably.

The curly blonde takes in a noticeable breath and moves forward one step.

"I just wanted to give you this before I left", she says as she holds out his Duke sweatshirt. He gave it to her after she told him she was thinking of attending after her internship was up. There's no way he can take that back.

"Keep it, it was a gift", Peyton shakes her head and takes a step forward.

"I don't want it anymore", Nathan's shoulders slump and he moves forward; her hand grazes his abdomen and goosebumps form on their own.

"I made a mistake, Peyton", he says desperately. She scoffs and rolls her eyes.

"That's an understatement."

"I'm sorry I'm not Lucas!" he shouts.

"So am I!" she shouts back. Peyton lets out a breath and runs her hand over her face. "I never wanted you to be him, Nate. I just wanted you to be a better person", she whispers.

"I am, Peyton I am such a different person then that boy you saw the other night", he promises.

She knows he's right. She's spent all of her free time with him and she knows what an amazing guy he is now. But she's too hurt and upset to think about the person he is now. Because the person he used to be was front and center a few nights ago sleeping with her best friend and not caring about Peyton at all.

"I've heard it all before Nathan", she says tiredly. He's grasping at straws and needs to find a way to get her to stay or to forgive him (that most likely won't happen anytime soon).

"What about Duke?"

Peyton shrugs. "If I come home, I come home", she says simply. She forces the royal blue material into his arms and takes a step back. Nathan opens his mouth to ask about Brooke and where they stand. Peyton shakes his head and he knows that it's all done for.

He's frozen there silently as she walks past him and he holds on to the smell of lavender and vanilla. It's the last memory he'll have of her for . . . he doesn't even know how long. She stops suddenly and tilts her head.

"You know, I almost said it back."

He watches her leave and that new last memory burns right down into his very core.

( You know I'm gonna find a way to let you have your way with me
You know I'm gonna find a time to catch your hand and make you stay
I don't care what clothes you wear, it's time to love and I don't care
You know I'm gonna find a way to let you have your way with me

The practices are hard. It's nothing new for him, but he's seen more guys puke at practice than at the keggers on Friday nights. At first he seriously thought he wasn't cut out for it. But then he remembered that he's Nathan Scott and this is his destiny.

It's November now and the leaves crunch beneath him as he jogs around campus. The sweat is dripping down his back and it feels great in a way. Working out is not only a necessity, it helps him to forget for a bit. He's been at Duke since the second week of August and now its November . . . he hasn't heard a word from Peyton.

He doesn't know if he honestly expected to, but a small part of him always hoped for it. His feelings for Peyton haven't exactly dissipated and he hasn't dated or even hooked up with anyone. A flash of blonde catches his attention and like so many other times he has to look.

It became painfully obvious that she wasn't going to attend Duke right as midterms rolled around. Everyone was halfway done with the first semester and midterms are a pretty important part of their grading and the fact that Peyton wasn't around was a pretty dead giveaway.

But he's alright with that, he supposes. He sees Lucas once a week and talks to Brooke twice a month. Luckily the brunette forgave him before he left for school and she left for California. Nobody's talked to Peyton which actually makes him feel even worse. He's got absolutely no idea how she's doing and it kind of kills him.

He enters his apartment building and jogs up the stairs, pulling out his ear-buds as he does so. He passes a few of his teammates and greets them with a nod. It's only his freshman year, but naturally he's one of the most well known guys on campus. Pretty much all the guys he plays with have apartments or share them with other friends so it's never a dull moment on any of the floors.

"Yo Scott, there's a hot blonde waiting outside your room with a suitcase", one if his teammates calls from the doorway. Nathan groans, his mother hasn't visited yet, but she promised him she would and ever since she got sober she's been all about keeping her promises.

He wraps his headphones around his ipod and wipes away some of the sweat with the back of his hand. This isn't exactly how he wanted to look when he saw his mother for the first time in a while, but it'll have to do. As he rounds the corner he stops in his tracks and feels his heart race.

That blonde is most definitely not his mother.

She's carrying a jacket in her arms and there's only one wheely-suitcase on the floor. His eyes work their way up from her boot covered feet to her perfectly tight jeans to that thin strip of tanned flesh that peeks out between her jeans and tee shirt. Damn she's gorgeous.

By the time he reaches her face, her green eyes are staring back at him.

"Hi", he says as he walks over to her. She smiles and lifts one of her hands for a small wave. Nathan stands in front of her (he's standing in front of her!) and looks down into her eyes. "What are you doing here?"

Okay, maybe not the best first words to say to a girl you're in love with and haven't seen in five months. But he's never been the eloquent one; he's straight forward and honest to the point of being considered a jerk.

Peyton must remember this because she lets out a laugh and follows him into his apartment. Its clean (which she wasn't expecting) and huge, probably one of the biggest apartments in this entire complex. She knows he's doing well for himself; she's been following his stats (but she won't tell him that just yet).

"I'm home", she says simply. She's spent the better part of her time in LA missing Nathan and wanting to be in classes at Duke. Considering she spent so much time dying to be away from North Carolina it amazed her just how badly she wanted to be back.

She follows up with; "If I still have a home."

Nathan seems have a weight lifted from his shoulders and even though he's sweaty and gross he walks forward and pulls her into his arms. She hugs him back just as fiercely and doesn't care in the least that now she's all sweaty too. All that matters is that Nathan seems to still want to be with her.

He knows there's some things they need to talk about. Like what she's done for the few months and what he hasn't don't for the last few months. They should clear the air about the whole sex tape thing and why she cut out everyone else from Tree Hill (Lucas especially since he wasn't involved).

"I love you too", she says suddenly and with the most confidence he's ever seen. It's only taken five months, but she's finally said it back.

Nathan grins and says it back before kissing her deeply. They may have some serious things to discuss, but right now he wants to make up for lost time. He picks her up and carries her into his (their?) bedroom as she squeals loudly.

He told her once that he was always going to have feelings for her. That's not going to change anytime soon.

( If I was running
If I was crying
If I was scared
You know I'm gonna find a way to let you have your way with me

Let me know what you think!