I own nothing, just like I don't own "When I Look at You" by Miley Cyrus.

Don't hate. It's a pretty decent song, and I just felt like the title fit well.

It's a little different from how I usually write. Some parts are short and to the point. This sparked from a little conversation over at othforums and I decided to give it a shot, hope it doesn't disappoint! Slightly AU.

Enjoy!


He first notices her when they're five.

She's walking across the street with (he assumes) her father and mother. The older man has a large duffle bag slung over his shoulder and in a swift motion he picks her up into his arms.

And then they're out of his line of vision.

He's sitting behind the counter at his mother's cafe. He's got a little break from school and since Karen can't afford a sitter for the whole week he's stuck helping out. It's not so bad really, but at five years old there are a bunch of other things he'd rather be doing.

Instead he's sitting next to the register perfecting his math skills. He's in charge of the freshly baked cookies in the display case. They cost fifty cents each or a dozen for three dollars.

"Good job my boy", his mother comments as she brings out some more cookies. "Haley and her mother are coming by for dinner so you won't be tortured for too much longer", she says knowingly.

Lucas rolls his eyes. "Haley will probably want to do this", he grumbles. Karen lets out a small laugh and kisses the top of his head. "Maaa", he whines.

As he's fixing his hair and wiping off any possible evidence of an embarrassing kiss, he catches a glimpse of that blonde hair from earlier.

She's got curly blonde hair; the kinds of curls only dolls seem to have. Her bright green eyes light up with glee as she looks at the older woman whose hand she's holding. He doesn't know where the older man went, but he's really not too concerned with it.

The bell chimes above the door as they enter and Lucas sits up a little straighter. He watches as she skips over to a booth near the large window; her mother trails behind with a smile on her face. He doesn't know why, but that girl is just magnetizing. And when she laughs it sounds like a thousand angels singing.

This isn't the last time he'll watch Peyton Sawyer.

-x-

When they're seven Haley calls him out for staring.

It's a warm day in May and the two of them are at the park. His house is close by so Karen let them go alone, plus she knows how responsible the two of them are.

Haley's going on and on about the camera Quinn let her borrow. Her older sisters developed an interest in photography and Haley James likes to be involved in everything. (Except the things Taylor tends to do). Lucas loves the petite brunette like a sister, but sometimes she just doesn't know when to stop talking.

He's perfected the whole 'pretend to listen while thinking about other things' (something he learned from Keith that he swore he'd never reveal), so as he sits on the bench opposite her he lets his eyes wander.

It's a seemingly typical Sunday afternoon. A couple is walking with their baby in a stroller. A group of toddlers are playing in the sandpit. A few kids, about his age, are playing basketball on the fenced off court. He really hopes Haley doesn't notice because she'll try to make him join them. And then he notices Peyton.

She's sitting off to the side with a large pad in her lap. Her tongue is sticking out slightly and he has the utmost desire to see what she's doing. Her curly hair falls around her face and just as he's thinking that he wants to tuck it behind her ear, someone else does.

His blood boils when he realizes its Nathan.

But a smile slowly forms when Peyton pushes his hand away and scowls. Lucas has never seen a scowl on her perfect face, but she somehow manages to make even that look beautiful. His brother (he thinks that begrudgingly) backs away with his hands spread in the air and a smirk on his face. Peyton rolls her eyes as a petite brunette collapses to her side with a look of awe on her face.

"You're drooling loverboy."

Haley's voice causes him to lock eyes with her like a deer in headlights. She raises her eyebrows and folds her arms in from of herself on the picnic table. Lucas is sure he turns bright red, but he doesn't even have the voice to defend himself.

"Will you talk to her already!" she asks in exasperation. His eyes widen at the fear of someone hearing her. "Oh please", she mumbles.

Sometimes Lucas really hates that he has Haley for a best friend.

"I wasn't . . ." he trails off once he realizes there's no point in lying. He's literally been caught in the act. "Can we not talk about this?" he pleads.

"All I'm saying is that it wouldn't kill you", Haley points out innocently.

"Haley she's popular and I'm . . . not", he offers lamely. "She would probably make fun of me if I talked to her."

Haley frowns. "She doesn't really seem like that kind of girl", Haley says softly as she turns to look at the blonde. "Besides, she's a human being."

Lucas adamantly shakes his head. "No, she's . . . she's really not" he whispers with a smile.

Haley furrows her brows at her friends (innocent) stalker tendencies. She smiles at him while picking up the camera Quinn let her borrow; it's the kind that disposes the picture instantly. She spins around quickly and focuses her eye behind the small lens.

Lucas freaks out when she snaps the picture.

He stands from the bench and stomps off the playground. Haley sighs softly and follows after him. He doesn't wait for her to catch up until he hears her struggling to keep his pace. Haley's not exactly athletic.

Lucas may be pissed, but he was raised to be a gentleman, so he walks to her house. He stops on the sidewalk outside her front lawn and does his best not to look at her as she approaches. It's hard to be mad at her for extended periods of time, but that just really set him off.

Haley looks up at him with her big doe eyes and lets the camera dangle from her wrist. This is the last time she'll be exploring photography.

She knows better than to push him when he's mad so she slumps her shoulders and stands on her tippy toes to kiss his cheek. Lucas closes his eyes as she turns on her heels and starts up her pathway. He knows he's going to call her later and apologize . . . right now he just wants to be mad.

Haley comes bounding down her concrete steps and presses something into the palm of his hand. He shakes his head and tries to resist, but she doesn't let him. He smiles at her as she walks away and once she's inside he starts his own walk home.

He glances at the picture Haley took. Peyton's in the middle of laughing loudly as her skinny arm tucks a curl of messy hair behind her ear. Lucas admires it for almost his entire walk home (he makes sure to look both ways before crossing the street). He walks in through the door directly leading to his bedroom and thinks of a refuge for the photo.

He puts it in an old shoe box he's got in his closet.

-x-

When they're thirteen he has the opportunity to talk to her.

It's an opportunity he doesn't get the chance to take.

Stupid Haley.

He and Haley are working in his mother's café, he's behind the counter and she's taking orders at the tables. They've been doing for about a year now. Haley wanted someplace to go where she wouldn't get lost in a bunch of chaos and Lucas really has no choice but to work here.

Haley walks over and rests her hands on the counter. Lucas knows the look on her face. She wants something from him . . . he's just going to ignore her. She sighs loudly and leans forward. Again, he ignores her. Haley grumbles and sighs even louder while rapping her knuckles against the countertop.

"What?" Lucas asks with a frustrated laugh.

"My feet are killing me! Can we switch?" she begs. Lucas groans. He hates taking orders, but she has been doing it all day and he supposes it's only fair if they trade for the end of the day.

"Fine", he playfully lets out a puff of air and stands from his chair. Haley squeals excitedly and quickly takes her place behind the counter. She tosses Lucas the notepad and pen and waves him off as he tends to a table.

As he's taking down a family's order the bell chimes above the door and naturally he looks over. When Peyton Sawyer walks in he feels his heart stop. She doesn't look at anyone as she walks up to the counter. Haley quickly glances at him and Lucas can feel his stomach drop. Stupid Haley and her stupid whining about her stupid legs hurting! For all he knows he's missing out on the only opportunity he'll ever have at talking to her.

It's like a scene out of a music video or something. The way her hips sway and her untamed curls bounce keep his full attention; the hell with the table he should be waiting on. She asks Haley for something and hands her the amount needed. She turns around and he notices she's got tea in her to-go cup; he fully intends on begging Haley to tell him how she takes her tea. He doesn't care how lame it'll make him look.

Peyton puts on her aviators (badass) and as she does so they lock eyes, for just a split second. He could completely be imagining it, but she sends him the softest, sweetest smile he's ever seen. The father at his table clears his throat and Lucas shakes his head to break him from the daze Peyton has over him.

He quickly jots down the order and listens as the bell chimes announcing her departure; Lucas still has to sneak a glance.

He walks past the counter and rings the bell as he places the slip on the counter connected to the kitchen. He knows he's got a few minutes to spare so he stops at Haley and rests his arms on the counter. The best friend rolls her eyes with a smile.

"Light with four sugars", she says knowingly.

Lucas grins and kisses her cheek quickly. She's the best when she's not frustrating the hell out of him. He looks back to check on his tables once more and since nobody seems to need him he turns his attention back to Haley.

"Maybe I'll finally ask her to that movie", he refers to his prediction from last year. Haley laughs and shakes her head. "What?"

"Lucas, remember how I told you that Peyton wasn't the kind of person to make fun of someone for asking her out", he nods with confusion on his face. "Well this Peyton totally would."

Lucas frowns. "She's been through a lot", he says softly. She nods her head and mumbles that she knows and she understands.

"I just don't want to see you get hurt", she whispers. Lucas smirks and shoves her shoulder playfully. Haley acts like he's going to freaking propose or something. "So for the record, I don't think it's a good idea", she tosses in her two cents.

Lucas is called to one of his tables and for the rest of the day it's pretty hectic. It's dark out when Haley's older brother comes to pick her up and they share a wave as she walks out the door. After the tables are cleaned Lucas walks up to the roof, where he and Haley are attempting to set up a mini-golf course.

They also started writing out predictions for what they want to happen in the upcoming year. He's got a prediction, but it's for way more than just next year. And he knows Haley will make fun of him for it and probably roll her eyes, but he doesn't care.

Because Peyton Sawyer will become Peyton Scott.

-x-

When they're fourteen he goes to his first high school basketball game.

He doesn't really want to go, but Mouth and Jimmy want to listen to the commentator so that they can grasp the knowledge of commentating a little better. Skills wants to see what kind of competition these guys think they are. Haley isn't coming because she refused and she had a lot of homework she wanted to get done. So that leaves Lucas to sit here and do his best not to pout.

The Raven's are announced and the players run out onto the court. Since it's the first game of the season the players are announced individually; he tenses when Nathan's name is called. Mouth and Jimmy are too busy taking notes to notice, but Skills nudges his shoulder.

"Hey dawg, anytime you wanna be out we out. These fools ain't got no game anyway", he says confidently. Lucas smiles and shakes his head.

"It'll be fine . . . I just hate that he has the life I can never have", Lucas mutters honestly; he's always been fairly open with Skills. His friend nods and rubs his hand over his bald head. Yes bald . . . he shaved it recently and said something about aerodynamics and how he's faster on the court, Lucas doesn't really get it, but he's never questioned it either.

"Well at least you don't got that in your life", he comments and points further down the bleachers. Lucas follows his gaze and frowns at the sight of Dan already screaming at Nathan (they're only warming up). He supposes Skills is right in that sense; Lucas totally lucked out with having Keith in his life. The game starts up and both Lucas and Skills are mesmerized.

They love playing on their little court, but the scream of the crowd gives them the chills.

Out of the corner of his eye he sees a flash of blonde curls and naturally he snaps his head around to look. There she is, decked out in a blue and white uniform that bares her midriff. His mouth goes dry. Lucas forgets about the game and keeps his eyes on her. At one point she kicks really high in the air and he has to take a deep breath.

Her legs are amazing.

He watches her a lot more freshman year.

And sophomore year.

Both summers actually.

-x-

When they're seventeen he finally talks to her.

And sure she was a little bitchy, but he doesn't think that was directed at him. And even if it was he doesn't really care because he talked to Peyton Sawyer. He feels like he can cross that off his bucket list and die a happy man.

He parks the tow truck on the block of his mother's café. The truck distinctly smells of vanilla and something else, but he can't quite place it. With a shake of his head he turns off the ignition and jumps out of the car.

He feels like he skips into the café and it must be obvious because Haley raises her brow. "What's got you floating on air?" she asks teasingly.

He chuckles and raps his knuckles against the nearest table. "I just came back from a service call", he says easily. Haley stares at him and waits for the rest; she's sure there's more. "Care to guess who it was?"

She rolls her eyes and lets out a puff of air. "Sheryl Crow?" that's pretty much the only person she'd care about seeing.

"Better . . . Peyton Sawyer", he grins like a fool and its contagious, Haley smiles cheekily. "I talked to her!"

"Awesome!" she cheers with fake enthusiasm. "Can you finally get over this creepy obsession you have with her?" she jokes. "Is the fantasy over? Are you ready to admit that Peyton Sawyer's human after all?"

"No, Peyton Sawyer is not human. She's an angel and she's my angel", he says passionately. Haley smiles at the hopeless romantic that her best friend is she tosses her dishtowel at him.

"Well what's she like?" she caves and feeds into the happiness he's exuding; it's what best friends do.

"Uhh, she's actually kind of bitchy", he says meekly. Haley laughs loudly and Lucas can't help but to chuckle too. "But it doesn't even matter", he says honestly.

"What's all the commotion out here?" Keith's rough voice asks as he walks out from the kitchen. He smirks that famous smirk once he spots his nephew talking to his best friend. "Well, well, look whose back from their call."

Haley rolls her eyes once again at the interaction and the fuss over Peyton. To be fair, she's a girl so she can't exactly relate, but she just hopes that whenever she does fall in love Lucas is as willing to listen as she's been for the last few years.

"The cars in the shop and I made sure to lock up behind me", he says as he tosses Keith the keys. The brunette Scott nods his head.

"I'll make sure to fill the radiator first thing", he teases. It's definitely not something that needs to be done in the shop, but he knows how big of a crush Lucas has on this girl.

"Lucas, just on time!" Karen says with a smile as she shuts off the lights in the kitchen. "Everyone ready?" nobody answers her and she looks at her son. "Oh right, you just had a service call to end all service calls", she mocks.

Lucas blushes and glares at Keith. "Really?"

The man shrugs and looks at Karen guiltily. "She pried it outta me", he defends himself. "Alright, she bribed me with pecan pie and ice cream", he admits after Lucas makes a face.

"You can tell me all about it on the drive home", Karen says as she pats Lucas's arm. The group follows her out and Keith shuts off the lights; Karen locks it behind him.

"Come on, you're riding with me Haley James", Keith announces as he throws his arm over her shoulder. Haley waves to Lucas and he juts his chin in her direction. He walks to the driver's side of the truck and Karen gets in the passenger's side.

She's not even in the car a full minute when she says; "It smells like lavender."

Lavender!

Lucas bangs his hand against the steering wheel. He knew there was something else, but he never would have known what lavender smelled like. He looks over at his mother and she's shaking her head, with a smile on her lips.

"You have got such a crush on her."

Lucas doesn't bother to whine that boys don't get crushes.

-x-

A few weeks later he's looking into those green eyes (with gold specs) and telling her that he wants to have everything with her.

She tells him it was just supposed to be sex.

As she walks out the door he thinks he's experiencing his first real heartbreak.

-x-

A couple of weeks after that he's standing in his bedroom as she spills her soul out to him.

He knows she doesn't do this often, if at all, and so he's aware that this is a huge deal. But his heart is breaking because her best friend is in the bathroom down the hall.

". . . and I want them with you", she finishes endearingly.

Lucas's mouth goes dry and he swears his heart pounds so loud she can hear it. She's looking at him with the most perfect, hopeful expression he's ever seen and every fiber of his being wants to pull her into his arms and kiss her senseless.

"Hey superstar, ready to score?"

He closes his eyes at the sound of Brooke's voice. Peyton's face falls and she lets out a breath that only he can hear. He watches as she backs up to the door. He can't let her leave like this, he just can't.

"Peyton . . ." he says softly.

She locks eyes with him and then he notices as she glances over at the brunette who's wearing just his sweatshirt. He shakes his head, knowing he can't say any words that will make this okay. He doesn't want to ruin their friendship, but this is Peyton Sawyer.

She walks out that door without giving him a second glance.

And his heart breaks for the second him in two months.

-x-

He never thought he'd be involved in a love triangle.

Secret love triangle.

He's wanted to break things off multiple times, but Peyton's scared. He gets it; he'd never want to lose Haley. But the longer they wait the worse things are going to be and they both know this. He walks to his locker and lets out a breath of air. They've made it through another school day without being caught.

Brooke's down the hall and he knows she's got to rush to cheer practice. He's thankful he doesn't have to put on a show in front of her . . . he's too tired to. So he waves and she blows him a kiss before skipping down the hall and locking arms with Peyton. Her green eyes lock with his blue ones and it's like the earth stands still.

She smiles softly before being dragged down the hall by Brooke.

Lucas sighs and hangs his head guiltily. This really isn't a good situation. In fact, it's a really terrible situation. In the end Brooke's going to be devastated and Peyton's friendship with her is going to be nonexistent. He hates to think it, but maybe he should cool things down with Peyton so he can break up with Brooke himself and not have Peyton involved at all.

He opens his locker and catches a colored piece of paper right before it falls to the ground. He looks around and focuses his eyes on the note. His name is written in block letters across the front with multiple colors shaded around it. He smiles before he even reads the inside; he can't wait till he gets home, he reads it right there in the near empty hallway. A note written during her Spanish class.

Another item for the box.

-x-

He tells her he still cares about her.

And he's not lying. He means it with all his heart. He knows he's been keeping his distance since he came back, but he can't let her be alone now. He also knows he can't be that guy that's there for her.

He doesn't want to get hurt again.

So he spends the next few hours looking up names and addresses and doing his best to track down a virtual ghost. He's called seven people with the same last name and none of them have been related to the person he's looking for. He presses 'send' on his cell phone and prepares for number eight.

"Hi, I'm looking for Jake Jagielski . . ."

There's a long pause and he can hear the person breathing into the phone line. He's so frustrated that he's about to hang up, but then the person speaks.

"May I ask whose calling?"

Jackpot.

-x-

When they're eighteen he's sitting in a hospital room; she's lying in the bed.

He knows their lives aren't exactly ordinary, but he never thought this was in the realm of possibility. Yesterday there was a shooting in his school. His uncle (almost legal father) was killed by an old friend who then killed himself. And Peyton was shot.

He watches as she sleeps and (not for the first time) breathes a sigh of relief at the steady rise and fall of her chest. He doesn't think he's ever going to forget the time they spent together in the library. She told him she loved him and then she kissed him. Of course, he's not a fool, he knew what was coming when she did all that.

There was no way he was going to try and stop her.

Once again he stood by and watched and listened as she bared her soul to him. Once again he said nothing because he's with Brooke. The three of them have been through hell and back and there's no way he's going to tell Brooke and have things get terrible again. He's come between the two of them once before and he cannot stand to do it again.

She's in a deep sleep (or so the nurses told him) and they're just keeping her for observation and standard purposes. The kind old woman at the nurses' station promised him she's going to be okay. And that's really all that matters to him right now. Sure, he lost Keith and he'll never be able to forgive Jimmy, but losing Peyton and feeling that guilt would have been more than he could handle.

He reaches for her hand and runs his fingers over her knuckles. He knows he father's on his way and Brooke's consumed with him and his mother. Peyton needs someone too. So that's why he's here. He will always be the person she can come to. Especially after the last few months they've had. He's been there for her in more ways than he can count and he promised to be a better friend to her.

He doesn't want to break that promise.

Lucas doesn't have much time left before Brooke starts to look for him; he's already been gone for an hour. He leans forward and presses a gentle kiss to her temple; he hesitates before pressing his lips to hers. It's quick and careful and he feels a little lighter afterwards.

"I love you too", he whispers softly, brushing some hair from her face. "I hope you don't hold it against me", he adds.

A part of him wishes she was only pretending to be asleep.

-x-

Two weeks before graduation he has a moment of clarity.

The Raven's have just won the State Championship and he feels like he's flying. When his eyes spot Peyton, awed by the confetti rainfall, he feels something he hasn't let himself feel in a while.

Love.

He tells her that she's it; she's the one. This time she doesn't run away.

And he knows it'll all be different from here on.

-x-

When they're nineteen he proposes.

She doesn't say yes.

Another heartbreak to add to the list.

-x-

When they're twenty-two he sees her again.

He tells her he's got a girlfriend and watches as her face falls. His guilt is overwhelming, as is his desire to help her. He offers her a space in TRIC as long as she promises to turn it into a recording studio.

That same night he writes three chapters.

He just needed to know his art still mattered.

-x-

Eleven months later he proposes.

They've put each other through a whirlwind since she's come back into town, but through it all one thing has remained the same. Her love for him. And his buried love for her.

He almost got married and she was ready to leave town, but neither of those things happened. Lindsey called him out on loving Peyton and Peyton realized you can't run from your feelings. So in another moment of clarity he takes a leap.

She shows up at the airport.

-x-

When they're twenty-three he gets a phone call.

He doesn't think he's ever been more excited from a phone call in his entire life. Now as he lies next to her he feels an inner peace he didn't know existed. He's got his girl. And his girls got something even better.

She's having his baby.

It's quiet in their house and he listens to the steady breaths she takes mixed with the crickets that are chirping outside. They've got a baby on the way and a wedding to plan (Vegas was too shotgun material). His life in this moment is nothing like he thought it would be a year ago.

He hopes their little girl (yes, he's already decided it will be a daughter) has the same carefree smile as the photo of that seven year old Peyton.

-x-

When they're twenty-four he blatantly stares at her while she stares back at him.

She looks like she floating on air. Her white gown flows and her hair is in perfect waves. It's not exactly blonde anymore, but that's because of the little life she's carrying. The last few months have been rocky and most times downright hard. But they've made it to this point and there's definitely no going back now.

As if he'd ever want to.

She comes to stand in front of him and although he hears Haley talking and he knows he should be paying more attention he kind of can't. He's just as love struck as that seventeen year old boy who was thrilled just to talk to her.

She's an angel and she's finally his.

Forever.

When they're parents he stares at her as often as possible.

It's amazing to see her as a mother. He always knew she'd be perfect, but seeing her in action is even more wonderful than even his imagination could comprehend. He lingers in the doorway of the nursery and listens carefully as Peyton hums a little lullaby. It's not one that he recognizes, but as long as she's not singing any Cure songs (not yet anyway) he supposes he can't mind.

She handles their two week old daughter delicately. Sawyer Scott is a miracle baby . . . actually the fact that Peyton's still here is a miracle. But they're here, they're both here, and that's all he could even want from this life.

"I know you've been watching me for more than half your life, but we're married now. Can you give it a rest?" she asks with a smile.

Lucas tosses his head back and lets out a loud laugh. Most women would love for their husbands to admire them at all times. Most women also haven't been watched from the time they were seven. Lucas frowns. That makes him sound pathetic.

"I just love watching you with her", he counters. Peyton rolls her eyes and places Sawyer in her crib.

"What was your excuse when I didn't have a baby?"

He folds his arms over himself and pretends to think of a suitable answer. He furrows his brows and squints his eyes before answering; "You're hot."

She chuckles quietly, doing her best not to wake Sawyer. She makes sure to grab the baby monitor and once she's in front of Lucas she clips it to his belt. He sucks in a breath of air that causes her to smirk.

"Well either way . . . it's kind of creepy babe", she says softly and pats his cheek before walking past him. Lucas turns his head and follows the sway of her hips.

This isn't the last time he'll watch Peyton Scott.


Let me know what you think!