I own nothing, just like I don't own "Come Around" by Rosi Golan.

Beautiful song! The piano seriously makes it so wonderful. AU – LP never happened in season 4; Peyton never told Brooke how she felt in season 3, and Psycho Derek never happened either. I think that's all.

Enjoy!


( So high tonight and I don't feel like coming down
I can lie to you all my days, But you're the one, you're the one
)

She knows she should be home packing right now. It's late or early (depending on how you look at it) and her flight is set to leave in about four hours. But she's here in the early hours of her summer vacation . . . hoping for something.

She's got big plans for herself and she knows that it won't be easy and she won't experience this fairytale like scenario. She'll have to work hard and kiss a lot of ass (the one thing she hates the most), but that's what LA is. Hard workers and ass-kissers.

That's probably not right.

But anyway, she's spending a few days along the coast with her best friend and then they're moving into an apartment that Brooke's parents bought. Considering they were never around during her childhood (or life) this was the least they could do for her. Peyton's seen pictures and it really is gorgeous.

She doesn't know what she's looking for as she walks along the well known tarmac of the Rivercourt. She was here mere hours ago watching two brothers have a basketball game that ended differently than they ever would have thought . . . once upon a time. Peyton supposes they're all a lot different than they once were.

And maybe that's why she's here. She's hoping for an answer to all her unvoiced questions. It's a silly little hope she's got; it's four in the morning for crying out loud.

"Peyton?" a familiar voice calls out in confusion.

The curly blonde spins around and smiles softly. It always seems like Lucas walks into her life just when she needs him the most. They're friends; he's probably the best guy friend she's ever had. And that means so much to her after the last two years they've had.

"Fancy meeting you here", she quips. Lucas smiles and places the orange ball on his hip as he approaches her. She's wearing a pair of her cotton cheer shorts and an old tee shirt that might be his, but it could be Jake's. He ignores the voice that wants it to be his.

"Imagine that", he teases. "Don't you have to be up in like three hours?"

"Four", she mumbles softly. Lucas makes an all knowing face (she hates that she knows it, and she hates that he's giving it to her). "Lucas . . ." she sighs out.

"Sit", he commands. He didn't think that he'd be seeing Peyton Sawyer at the Rivercourt at four in the morning, but he's certainly not going to turn away from a good conversation or the pretty blonde that's begrudgingly walking over to him.

They sit in silence on the weather worn picnic table. A few hours ago he played a great game of ball with his younger brother and kissed his girlfriend goodnight. But he couldn't sleep, he tossed and turned and when that didn't work he read, but even that didn't keep his attention. He started to write some more, but after getting nowhere with that he grabbed his ball and decided he needed to relieve his stress or anxiety.

"I'm excited to go", she begins to speak. Lucas smirks away from her; he knew she couldn't go too long without spilling. "I'm just . . . I'm a little terrified", she admits at a whisper.

Lucas looks at her like she's just grown three heads. Peyton closes her eyes and turns away from his nonchalantly. Lucas's gaze (in any circumstance) is just too much for her to deal with. On some level she knows she's being ridiculous and girly, but she can't help it.

"It's normal to be scared about moving across the country", he says sympathetically. Peyton shakes her head.

"I'm okay with leaving Tree Hill", she murmurs and he feels a tightening in his chest. "Obviously I'll miss everyone, but I know I need a change." Lucas nods, he can understand that. "I'm scared of sucking", she says bluntly.

Lucas laughs, not trying to offend her, but he does. She gets up and walks to the middle of the court. He quickly sobers up and jogs after her. The basketball bounces in place where he drops it.

"Hey come on, don't do that", he tells her carefully. "I wasn't laughing at you –"

"Yes you were!" she shouts. A blush fills her cheeks at the look of shock Lucas wears; she hadn't meant to yell.

"Okay, but you're being ridiculous. Peyton, you have more knowledge and talent than most people I know. The music industry doesn't stand a chance", she lets out a breath of air and folds her arms over herself.

"What if I'm not as good as everyone expects?" Lucas frowns at the worry in her voice and he pulls her in for a hug. Peyton molds against him and he rests his chin atop her head.

"You are destined for greatness Peyton Sawyer and nobody can take your destiny away from you", he tells her seriously.

Peyton ignores the voice that's saying Brooke took him away from her.

They're past all that; they've been past all that for quite a while now. And sure, she kissed him and told him she loved him, but she was bleeding out and thought death was approaching. She couldn't die without him knowing how she felt.

Felt. Past tense.

"You always know what to say", she mumbles against his shoulder.

Lucas grins and says something about it being a gift. Peyton chuckles and punches his stomach before pulling away from him. She walks back to the table and takes a seat; patting the spot next to her. Lucas does as she gestures (why wouldn't he?) and the second he sits down she starts her interrogation.

"So what's got you out here at this time of day?"

Lucas shrugs and rests his elbows on his knees. Peyton stares at him blankly. He's going to decide to clam up after she spilled her guts about being scared. No way in hell is this going to fly.

"Lucas Scott, tell me right now!" she demands. He does his very best not to smile. Southern Peyton is always his favorite Peyton. She's feisty and smart mouthed. It's endearing really and he knows not many people feel that way about this bitchier version. He's sort of used to it, but he thinks that in the best way possible.

"Brooke's leaving", he states simply. Peyton makes a face; she knew it was about her brunette best friend, but to hear him say it is a different thing. "Yeah, pathetic, right?" he questions with a laugh as he rubs the back of his neck.

Peyton shakes her head. "It's not pathetic", she promises. "She's your girlfriend; it's natural that you'll miss her."

"Yeah", he breathes out. "But it's more than that . . . I'm just – what if she forgets about me?" This time it's Peyton who looks at him like he's just grown three heads.

"Lucas, you and Broke have . . . she loves you and you love her. That's all that really matters", she says confidently. That's really the best answer she can give him because saying anything else might make her vomit. Lucas smiles, though that wasn't exactly the answer he was thinking.

"I guess you're right. I'm just anxious about it", he says simply. Peyton nods in agreement.

"Pretty soon it'll be December and Brooke will be home or you'll be visiting our apartment in LA", she says wistfully.

"Glad to see your feel better about leaving", he teases. Peyton rolls her eyes and shoves his shoulder playfully; they both laugh loudly and it feels nice to do so. He jumps off the bench, grabs the ball, and starts to shoot around.

The truth is they both feel better.

And somehow it just feels right that they found each other tonight.

( And I'm a fool for waiting so long to let you know )

December comes and goes. Brooke and Peyton can't visit because they're both working like maniacs and Lucas doesn't have much free time between helping his mother with Lily, coaching basketball, and having to write a million papers (great job being an English major).

But he still gets to see Brooke from time to time. Peyton set up a webcam on the brunettes computer and once a week (every Wednesday) at 4 pm his time and 7pm her time, they sit at their computers and talk about their week so far.

It was great at first, they had so much to talk about and catch up on . . . plus Brooke tends to get a little freaky (yes freaky, he's been spending a lot more time with Skills) on this thing. But now it's almost like a chore to have to sit down and devote time to the other person and he knows it's not one-sided. Brooke feels the same. They're drifting and he doesn't quite know how to deal with it.

But now it's summer vacation and both he and Brooke have time off. He's saved up some money and gotten himself a ticket to Los Angeles. Brooke knows he's coming, but he's flying down a few days early to surprise her and spend some more time with her . . . and he's excited to see Peyton too. She's never around when he and Brooke chat.

He's also got a small black box in his luggage that he hopes will keep him and Brooke together.

Lucas enters the apartment complex and smiles at all the people he passes. So far he's learned that LA is definitely not like the small town he's from. It's kind of intimidating; all these people are like sharks waiting for their big break or next meal ticket.

He knocks on the door (of the penthouse apartment) and hears some laughter before someone gets up and walks towards the door. He feels a nervous flutter in his stomach and once the door opens that flutter increases.

Peyton squeals before throwing her arms around his neck.

Lucas hugs her just as tightly. It's been nearly a full year since he's seen her and she doesn't seem to have changed much. Her hair's a little longer and a bit darker, but it suits her. Her taste in clothes has matured, but he supposes that's Brooke's influence. He takes in a deep breath and . . . God she still smells the same.

"Peyton Sawyer", he says with a grin. She squeezes him, just once, before pulling away and holding him at an arm's length.

"Lucas Scott", she whispers. She gets this look in her eyes that he can't really decipher, but she quickly shakes her head. "Come in, come in", she says as she ushers him inside the apartment. "You're a little early aren't you?"

"I was hoping to surprise her", he says with a boyish smile. Peyton stops picking up random magazines to smirk at him and roll her eyes. "What?" he asks indignantly.

"Always the romantic", she mumbles playfully. Lucas narrows his eyes and lets out a scoff. "Well she's going to be surprised alright . . . she's working, won't be home till tomorrow night."

Lucas makes a face of disappointment. After all this time and he still has to wait another day to see her. Peyton puts a pile of papers onto the counter and pushes her bangs out of her eyes. She knows a brooding look when she sees it (even though it's been a while since she's really seen one).

"She wanted to make sure any possible disasters that could call her away from you wouldn't happen. So she's busting her ass at the office all night long and well into tomorrow, then she has a meeting in the afternoon. She'll be home by six tomorrow evening", the blonde boy nods and sticks his hands in his pockets.

Peyton groans internally, she cannot deal with a brooding Lucas Scott right now.

"I was supposed to meet someone for something", she says vaguely. "But do you wanna grab lunch? I can show you around."

He smiles widely and nods his head. Lunch with Peyton sounds like a great thing right now. He watches as she grabs her phone and turns her back to him as she makes a phone call. He can only catch some of her words, reschedule, tomorrow afternoon, old friend. For some reason he doesn't like hearing her call him an old friend. She hangs up and turns around; she grabs her purse and heads for the door.

"Is this okay?" he asks, gesturing to his outfit.

Peyton glances at him quickly. Plaid button down shirt, worn in jeans, and a pair of boots. "You look great", she says easily and grabs his arm to pull him out the door.

Lucas trails behind her as they walk down the hall. She's wearing plain white tank top, with a loose fitting blazer over it, a pair of perfectly tight jeans and knee high boots. She looks pretty great too.

They walk down the street and Peyton tells him a few random facts about the surrounding buildings. He doesn't know how she knows them, but he doesn't question it either. He's honestly too focused on giving random men a death glare. The way these guys look at her . . . and of course she's oblivious to it all.

She pulls him into this small, dimly lit restaurant. The second they're inside he can tell it's Japanese inspired. This is totally out of his comfort zone, but Peyton seems to know what she's doing.

The waiter greets her on a first name basis and asks where Mr. Baker is? Peyton makes a comment about work and a busy schedule, but it seems a little odd to Lucas. She orders a few sushi rolls that she swears he won't hate and then asks for a small thing of Saki.

Lucas stares at her in quiet admiration. She already seems to have come so far from the nervous girl he spoke to last year. She carries herself differently and seems more confident. He watches as she takes a bite of her California Roll and he realizes something.

"You're a total California girl", he comments. Peyton's eyes go wide and he nods his head. "You're tan as hell and eat sushi on a regular basis . . . you're California at its best."

"Maybe a few things are different", she agrees. "But I can still drink any guy under the table", she says proudly. Lucas laughs loudly and rolls his eyes.

"I've forgotten about your drinking skills", he mumbles sarcastically. Peyton raises her brows; that sounds like a challenge to her. And she doesn't turn down a challenge.

She calls over the waiter and says something about being called in to work. He quickly gathers their food and brings it back in to-go cases. He tells Peyton that he'll add it all to the account and she nods her head while waving them off.

"Where are we going now?" Lucas asks. He's only been in town for an hour and it's been a complete whirlwind.

"There's this great Mexican place a few blocks over . . . best margaritas in the city" she seems to promise. Lucas doesn't care at this point. He's having a lot of fun just being with her.

( Come around come around come around come around to me
There's something in between you and I come around come around to me
You feel like breathing, Come around come around come around come around to me
)

It's a short walk to the restaurant – Funcho's – so they don't really talk much at all. But neither mind, they've never needed words to fill a silence. They're content with basking in it. As they're walking in one guy gets too close to Peyton as he's walking out and Lucas clenches his fist. She turns around in time to see his anger and she smiles softly while rolling her eyes.

The second she turns around she bites her lip; it feels pretty good to see him get jealous.

But she shouldn't be thinking that because he's got a girlfriend. And she's got a boyfriend. It's nothing serious; okay that's a lie, it's pretty serious. They've been together for over seven months and he sleeps at the apartment at least three times a week. And she loves him . . . which is a scary thought, but she's really happy with him and she doesn't want to screw it up.

So of course seeing Lucas is making her go crazy.

They take a seat in a booth near the back. The place is small, but Lucas can tell the food is amazing. All the people seem happy and small places tend to have the best tasting food. He's speaking from experience.

They spend hours in the small restaurant. The chips and salsa are complimentary and never-ending. Thursday nights are the deal nights around here so their pitchers of margaritas and sangria are only five dollars. The shots of tequila are a steal at three. They order a platter of sizzling fajitas just so they don't continue to drink on empty stomachs.

She asks him about Tree Hill; doesn't call it home which is odd. He gets it though, there are a lot of painful memories for her in that place and he supposes he's on that list. But he doesn't want to think that now. They talk about a few more things, her classes and work; his classes and coaching and Lily. Lily and Jamie are big topics for the curly blonde – it's obvious she loves them.

"So what about you . . . any guys?" he asks with a smirk after a short silence. Peyton smiles and takes a sip of her margarita. She opens her mouth with every intention of telling him the truth, but that doesn't seem to happen.

"I don't really have the time to look for guys", she says easily. Internally she's screaming at herself; there's no need to lie to him. Lucas stares at her for a minute before nodding his head understandingly. He doesn't know if he believes her, but he doesn't want to ruin their time together by questioning it.

"I'm sure it'll happen when you're least expecting it", he insists quietly. Peyton meets his eyes and manages to half smile. The more time she spends with him that harder it is to ignore that voice in the back of her head.

It's supposed to be you.

"Yeah", she whispers. She runs her hands through her hair and lets out a sift sigh. "How about some more tequila?"

They do four more shots and order one more pitcher of margaritas Peyton decides she's had enough. Lucas pays their tab (which makes Peyton frown because she was more than willing to) and they start their walk back to her apartment. She took off her blazer a while ago and has it draped over her arm; the strap of her baby pink bra (so not a color he expected) falls down and he itches to put it in its place.

"Tonight was fun", he says after clearing his throat. Peyton looks up at him with a wide smile. "Thanks for giving me a look at what your nightlife is like", he teases.

Peyton scoffs. "Please, I wish I had time to go out like we did tonight. I guess I should be thanking you for coming a day early . . . or maybe Brooke for unknowingly letting me borrow her boyfriend for the night", she says offhandedly.

She either realizes her slip of the tongue or chooses to ignore it; or Lucas is reading too much into what she's said. Either way they both get quiet after that. They walk into her complex and she smiles at the young doorman. Lucas notices the way the man's eyes linger on Peyton's chest and the tanned flesh between her jeans and tank top.

So as they're walking away he wraps his arm around her waist.

Peyton doesn't shrug him off.

They get into her apartment and she makes a dash for her bedroom exclaiming that she needs to get out of these clothes! He stands in the living room and takes a few deep breaths as he takes off his button down. He doesn't know what's gotten into him tonight, but he's been incredibly possessive of Peyton.

He justifies it by thinking he would do the same thing if it was just he and Haley out and men were looking at her with ill intentions. But he most definitely wouldn't have thought about the way she smelled or how she felt pressed up against him. He hears her leave her room and turns his head just in time to see her walk into the kitchen.

All he really sees is legs.

She's standing in the kitchen drinking a glass of water that she knows she desperately needs. The girls had a lot to drink and its way too late to call Julian and she cannot call Brooke right now. She's just got these emotions flowing through her veins and it's not good. That much she knows.

Peyton crosses her legs at her ankle and her eyes catch sight of the small scar on her calf. Her eyes close and she does her best not to think about that day and those emotions and the things she said and did. A voice snaps her from her musings.

"You think about it often?"

She doesn't have to ask him; she knows exactly what he's talking about. Her green eyes meet his blue ones and she nods her head gently. He walks into the kitchen and takes a seat at the table.

"Every day", she whispers sadly. She sits across from him and pushes her glass between them. He takes a sip and clears his throat. "Sometimes I find myself wishing that you hadn't had come into that school."

Lucas stares at her in complete disbelief. He knows why she's saying it and a part of him is touched by her compassion, but the rest of him wants to scream.

"I miss Keith every day, but it would have been too painful knowing you were in there and I was doing nothing."

"You're a good guy, Lucas Scott", Peyton says softly. She raises her hand and messes up his hair a little before winking and walking past him. Lucas grabs her wrist and pulls her back; he stands from his chair and pushes her against the counters.

Her breath gets caught in her throat when he cups her cheeks and buries his fingers into her curly hair. And then it's his lips on her and her tongue in his mouth. He drags his hands down her body and grips her hips desperately while her hands fall to his biceps. This is so wrong, so damn wrong. He lifts her up and she locks her legs around his waist.

But it feels so right.

He leans into her and that's what makes her snap out of her lust covered fog. She can feel that he's enjoying this and wants something more from it . . . and she does too, but they simply can't. She's been that girl and he's been that boy before. They're older now; they're supposed to be smarter, not repeating their mistakes.

She pulls away from him and blurts out; "I have a boyfriend."

Lucas freezes and pulls his hands off of her skin like it's just burned her. He backs away so abruptly that she doesn't have time to unhook her legs; she slides across the counter until he stops in his place.

He opens his mouth, but can't seem to find any words that fit his current state of mind. He wants to yell at her for never mentioning it and then blatantly lying to his face. But he doesn't think that's something he's really allowed to do. He's always had a girlfriend (her best friend) any time they've kissed. With his thoughts on Brooke he runs his hand through his hair and rushes out of the kitchen.

Peyton sits there in stunned silence until she takes a deep breath and shakes her head. This probably just ruined their friendship.

The next morning they make an unspoken decision to never speak of the kiss again.

Lucas makes his own decision when he doesn't take that ring out of his suitcase.

( Like sunlight, won't you come and lay a ray down? You're the one.
I could run, I could run for the life of me.
But where would that get me? Where would that lead? )

North Carolina smells the same and looks the same and it feels the same. All of those things are the exact reason she doesn't want to be here. Old memories have a way of overstepping new ones and that's a dangerous thing. She wouldn't be here for anyone other than Jamie, plus she's missed his other birthdays and five is a big age to turn.

She clings to Julian's hand as they walk through the terminal with their luggage trailing behind them. He turns his head and gives her a grin that still makes her heart flutter. It's been years since they've started dating and in that time they've moved in together and collaborated on a few projects together and Peyton's fallen completely head over heels for him.

"So, is Brooke upset about missing the party?" Julian asks as they drive around town. They'll be staying in the house Peyton grew up in; her father still travels for work, but he also refuses to sell the house that holds so many memories. The blonde glances as her boyfriend and nods her head.

"Yeah, but she's got a lot on her plate right now and she spoke with him the other night over a web chat", she says softly. He furrows his brow at her and wraps his arm around her shoulder. Peyton lets out a breath and nestles herself into the crook of his arm.

"I never thought you'd be so nervous about being home", he says with a gentle chuckle. Peyton lets out a breathy laugh and rests her hand on his chest. It's not that she's nervous about being home or seeing her old friends.

She's nervous to see one of them.

Peyton and Lucas haven't spoken since he walked out of the apartment she shared with Brooke all those years ago. After he and Brooke broke up a few weeks after that it made ignoring him much easier, that and the fact that neither of them attempted to make contact with the other. Sure she's seen him in magazines and on posters and his face is all over bookstores; he finally became the author he always wanted to be.

But seeing him face to face will be different, it always is.

The cab pulls up in front of her childhood home and Julian kisses the top of her head before they both exit the vehicle. She starts up the pathway because she knows by now that Julian will grab the bags and take care of the driver before following her inside.

The door is unlocked like always and it makes her smile. She shuffles through the front door and down the hallway that leads to the wooden stairs. She purposely steps in the spots that she knows will creak the most and when they do she smiles. It's surprisingly comforting to have some things that never change.

She rests her hand on the brass doorknob and finds herself taking a deep breath before actually pushing it open. She's so lost in her world from the past that she doesn't feel Julian come up behind her, she flinches when he wraps his arms around her waist.

"So this is where Red Bedroom Records comes from?" he asks softly. Peyton leans back against him and smiles softly. Running her own record company has been the biggest accomplishment of her life to date.

"Yeah, I was the girl with the red bedroom in high school", she whispers. She scans the room for memories that she's forgotten even existed when she catches sight of a picture she drew in her junior year.

Three people aiming their guns at a heart.

She quickly clears her throat and tells Julian that they need to get going.

Lucas doesn't think she's really coming. She hasn't been to any of his other birthdays in the past and so he doesn't think this will be any different. When his godson promises that Peyton will be here he simply smiles and nods his head.

He certainly isn't going to be the one to break his heart.

"Brooke sent him the moon bounce", Haley murmurs as she slides up beside him. "Along with half a dozen other things that will be delivered today", Lucas chuckles softly and takes a sip of his beer.

"Couldn't make it again, huh?"

"I'm beginning to think she just doesn't want to see you", his best friend quips. Lucas rolls his eyes and shakes his head. They broke up years ago and it was a mutual decision. She was never told about the kiss so there isn't any need for animosity.

"Maybe she's just really busy running her empire", Lucas offers. Haley smiles and runs her hand down his arm. She's about to say something when a commotion on the other end of the yard catches their attention.

Before Lucas can ask Haley what the deal is he spots a head of curls and perfect legs.

"No way", he whispers out loud in stunned awe. The petite brunette beside him glances up and makes a face of worry before walking off in Peyton's direction. Lucas is too shocked to move.

She's engulfed into a hug by a pair of strong arms and she smiles before she even sees his face. Nathan has a particular hold that one never forgets. He lifts her slightly off the ground and she presses a series of messy kisses to his cheek.

"It has been way too long", he mumbles once he puts her on her feet. Peyton smiles, but before she can answer Haley bounds over and wraps her arms around her tightly.

"Too damn long", she whispers into Peyton's ear. The blonde laughs and shakes her head; they are so alike it's scary.

"I know, I know", she says in exasperation. "But I've brought presents and stories and unreleased LP's . . ." her eyes scan behind her until she spots Julian making small talk with a group of people. "And a boy for Nathan to interrogate."

Lucas watches the whole thing without being able to move an inch. He had convinced himself that it wouldn't be that big of a deal when he saw her again . . . he was very, very wrong. It's earth shattering. He takes a long sip of his beer and tries not to burn holes into the man who has just wrapped his arm around Peyton's waist.

He knows who he is, Julian Baker. He and Peyton have been dubbed LA's "power couple"; he's the big time movie producer and she owns her own record label. Their faces are plastered on almost every magazine at least five times a month.

As he's chugging the rest of his beer he nearly chokes. Haley's shuffling Peyton around to a group of people that she apparently needs to be introduced to. He can imagine the way Peyton's cringing at the mere thought of meeting a ton of people she'll probably never see again . . . and the next person is not really someone he wants her to be introduced to.

His feet are pulling him in the direction of his editor slash girlfriend before he can stop himself. Lucas isn't naïve enough to think that Peyton doesn't know about them, but that's not the point. He hasn't even had a chance to talk to Peyton yet and there's no way he wants Lindsey to talk to her first . . . plus they'll probably shake hands and that will lead to a whole other set of questions and issues he doesn't want to deal with right now.

But he's too late.

"Peyton, this is Lindsey", he hears his best friend say softly – tentatively – and he picks up his pace. "Lindsey, this is Peyton."

"Nice to meet you", Peyton says kindly and extends her hand for a friendly greeting. Lucas approaches just as Lindsey extends her hand politely. His first thought is that as fate would allow it, Peyton's extended her left hand. She's a righty; he has no idea what would possess her to greet someone with her left hand.

Lucas wraps his arm around Lindsey's waist and tries to nonchalantly grab her left arm; "What are you doing?" she asks with a laugh. "Hi Peyton, nice to finally meet you", by the time she's finished her greeting Peyton's face has slightly fallen; only enough so that Lucas can tell.

"Are you . . . you're engaged?" the blonde says breathlessly. Lindsey's ring was turned in so that the simple white gold band was barely noticeable, but Peyton's finger scratched against the diamond on the inside of her hand.

"We were going to wait to tell everyone", Lindsey murmurs with a small smile. Haley gasps from where she's standing and Nathan charges over as soon as he sees Peyton staring at Lindsey's left hand.

"You're engaged", Peyton says stronger than she ever thought she could. In the midst of all the excitement Lindsey is pulled away from her so she's looking solely at Lucas as she speaks these words.

"Yeah", he whispers.

The breath is knocked out of Peyton, but she recovers like a professional. In an instant she's got her arms around his waist and her breath is warm against the thin material of his shirt. His hand falls to the back of her neck while his other lands on her lower back.

And suddenly his engagement feels like a death sentence.

( And I'm a fool for waiting so long )

"He's engaged", she says the second her best friend picks up the phone. It takes Brooke a second fully register that it's Peyton that's calling so early and who exactly she's talking about.

"Lucas?" the brunette rasps. She rubs some of the sleep from her eyes and sits up in bed. "Wow, our boy is officially gone, huh?"

"Yeah – wait, what?" she asks in confusion as she bites her thumbnail.

Brooke rolls her eyes and looks at a picture of the three of them taken at one of their graduation parties. She and Lucas were totally a couple then, but she always noticed the way Peyton molded to him and how Lucas seemed to cradle her in the crook of his arm.

"Where's Julian?"

"Out for his run, Brooke what's your deal?" exasperation is present in her voice. "Your ex-boyfriend just got engaged!"

"And yet you're the one freaking over it", her best friend muses softly. Peyton scoffs.

"I'm not freaking out!" she counters. "This is Lucas we're talking about!"

"And we've been broken up for years, and it was great while it lasted, but I'm over it and I mean, he clearly is too", there's a long pause before Brooke whispers, "P. Sawyer we're too old to do this again."

Peyton's stomach drops so quickly she can literally feel the bile rise in her throat. This is so not what she was expecting to come out of this phone call. "That's not – I'm not calling because . . . that's not what this is about", the blonde fumbles over her words simply because she's still shocked at what Brooke has said.

And that she can read her mind from thousands of miles away.

"Peyton I love you to death, but you're not subtle when it comes to Broody. Besides, you've got Julian, who I would have no problem taking off your hands for you –"

Peyton rolls her eyes with a smile and playfully mutters; "Please, love triangles are so high school", both girls laugh (their past not a hot button issue any longer) and Peyton continues, "It's just . . . I guess I always figured you and Lucas would get married", she plops down on her bed, "Knowing that there is this other woman who's going to be his wife . . . it's hard especially because –"

"Because if it wasn't me marrying Lucas you always pictured it was you", the words that leave her best friends mouth breaks her heart right down the middle.

"Broo –"

"I'm not judging Peyton, I promise . . . it's just that you have Julian and he really loves you –"

"And I love him . . ." she sighs before throwing herself against her mattress, "It's just, it's Lucas", she whispers.

"Trust me, I know", Brooke says with a short laugh. "Now finish getting ready and tell my godson I miss him and love him! And call me later."

"Will do, love you B. Davis", she says into the phone as she hears Julian step into the house. Her brunette friend utters the same goodbye and by the time Julian walks into the bedroom she's tossing her cell phone to the side.

Her boyfriend pounces on top of her, careful not to actually hurt her, and she squeals loudly. He's sweaty and hot and sweaty from his run in the Carolina sun. His deep laugh resonates in her ears as he wipes his forehead across her shoulder and collar bone. Oddly enough, Peyton embraces that feeling this time instead of swatting at him like she usually does.

Julian pulls back and sends her that grin. She swears it should be illegal sometimes. Peyton laughs softly and runs her hand through his damp, short hair. "I love you", she finds herself whispering.

Julian furrows his brows and playfully says; "That's not the response I usually get", his wet tee shirt has dampened her tank top from being molded against her body and her curls are frizzy from his mischievous attack. "I made you all sweaty", he says in a gruff voice.

She notices as his eyes turn a few shades darker and she feels a heat pool in deep in her stomach. She arches into him a little and raises her lips to his ears; "I guess I need a shower then?"

In an instant he's off the bed and throwing her over his shoulder. She's giggling wildly and lifts his shirt to playfully nip at his back he responds by playfully smacking her bottom. And in this moment Peyton feels completely happy and content.

Twenty minutes later she's fluffing her hair in the mirror of her hallway while Julian gets the hamburgers and hotdogs and steaks together on their respective platters. They decided to have a small barbeque with everyone before they leave. Julian has fit into her Tree Hill world seamlessly and she loves him even more for that.

"Baby, you look great!" Peyton stares at him from her spot in front of the mirror. He hasn't even turned around to actually look at her and when she mentions this he shrugs. "Don't need to, you're always gorgeous", he says simply and then grins.

And before Peyton knows it, she's walking over to him and planting a kiss to his lips.

"Mmm", he says after they break apart. "You're frisky in Tree Hill", he mumbles while placing another kiss to her perfect lips. "Maybe we should move here."

Peyton laughs loudly and shakes her head. "No thanks, I like it in LA . . . we have history there", she pops a grape into her mouth and hops onto the counter.

She can tell Julian is mulling something over in his mind. His brows are furrowed and he's biting the inside of his cheek. It's the same look he gets when he's reading a script and it makes her slightly nervous because she's not really sure what exactly he could be thinking about.

"Yeah, but it's no place to raise kids", he says softly and she's brought back to the first time he ever told her he loved her. He looks vulnerable and terrified and she can feel her heart pounding in her chest.

"Well, we don't need to worry about that just yet", she whispers. He opens his mouth to say something, but she cuts him off, "I'm gonna throw the meat on the grill. Everyone will be here soon", and then she jumps off the counter and grabs the platters.

Julian's hot on her heels.

"Why do you always do that?" he asks her loudly. "Whenever I bring up something like kids or marriage you get all weird!"

"I do not!" she argues, but doesn't turn to face him. "I don't even know why we need to talk about this right now!"

"Because we do!" he shouts back. "We're a couple, Peyton. We've been together for a while and it's something that we should talk about sometime!" he watches as she angrily tosses steaks onto the hot grill.

"Fine and we will . . . someday. Right now isn't a good time Julian! We're having company and I don't want to be pissed off while they're here because of something you think we need to talk about right now!"

"Because I want to marry you!" he screams at her from ten feet away. Peyton stops breathing and Julian walks forward slowly. He tugs on her hand and pulls her away from the grill while spinning her around. "I want to marry you", he whispers this time.

"Julian . . ." she whispers with her throat tight with unshed tears. He gets down on one knee and pulls a beautiful ring from his pocket. "You carry a ring around with you?" she blurts out tearfully.

Julian blinks for a second before laughing softly. "Not always, I typically leave it in my office because you get into random cleaning fits and I didn't want you to find it at home. But some days I carry it around with me in case I feel extra brave. Can I propose now?" he teases.

Peyton nods her head and then Julian says some of the sweetest things she's ever heard and she's crying while he tears up and then he slips that beautiful ring onto her finger. And for a second Peyton lets the thoughts that are always in the back of her mind come to the front, but she squeezes her eyes shut and pushes them back once again. And then she's whispering yes, of course into the warm air and Julian's sweeping her off of her feet.

It's not until he puts her down that she notices the awed stares of her guests. They've arrived early or on time – she doesn't really know – and witnessed the most important event in her life to date. When she catches eyes with Lucas he takes in a deep breath before turning around and walking away.

She finds him ten minutes later on her front porch. She tried to get to him sooner, but she was bombarded with questions and tears and congratulations all around. When she left Julian was talking to Lindsey about looking into possibly optioning one of Lucas' novels.

"You're gonna miss Haley's famous macaroni salad if you sit out here any longer", her voice causes him to jump and then he blushes. Peyton sits beside him on her cement steps and nudges her shoulder against his. "I walked past the Rivercourt the other day. We must have used some industrial strength spray paint, huh?"

He turns to look at her and smiles softly. She's aged well and looks different then the girl he spent time with in LA all those years ago. He supposes he looks different though too. "It seemed simpler then, didn't it?"

"Save the world . . . conquer the world", she mumbles something that Lucas said that night on the Rivercourt after graduation. "We've done pretty well though. You're a bestselling author and I've got a record label –"

"I told you that you were destined for greatness, didn't I?" he asks softly. They both know he doesn't really need an answer so Peyton isn't sure why she wants to give him one.

"Yeah, you did", she seems to breathe out. "And Nathan's in the NBA and Haley's an amazing teacher and Brooke's running her very own fashion empire and –"

"And you're engaged", he finds himself blurting out. Peyton looks at him, but his eyes are solely trained on her left hand. It could be her imagination, but she can hear everything he isn't saying, you're engaged to someone who isn't me.

"So are you", she says without any malice or anger. Lucas nods without looking up at her and reaches for her hand. His thumb runs over the smooth diamond and he takes in a deep, gasping breath.

"And yet here we are", he says just as softly as she's spoken before. She lets herself smile and her hand falls atop his. Her index finger traces the spot where a wedding band will reside in six months or a year from now.

"It's who we are", he finally lifts his head to look at her and she can see the confusion in his telling blue eyes, "Lucas, we're a bunch of chances missed and opportunities never taken", she whispers.

"I know", he assures her gently. He gathers in a large breath and then says; "Hopefully that's over now, right?"

It's a throwback (whether Lucas means it to be or not) to the night they spent together that summer before senior year. He had said that their history was always going to be there and in the moment she nodded her head, but she didn't really understand just how right he was. It's been years and there have been times they haven't spoken at all and yet here they are.

The same lost teenagers they were that summer night.

He might not even be looking for an answer, but once again she can't not say something; "I'm not sure it ever will be", she whispers with tears in her green eyes.

Six months later Lucas and Lindsey marry.

Eight months after that, so do Peyton and Julian.

( Come around come around come around come around to me
There's something in between you and I come around come around to me
You feel like breathing, Come around come around come around come around to me
)

She drops a bomb on him.

Since her trip to Tree Hill they've made a promise to stay in contact. They attended each other's wedding events – ceremony included – and smiled widely when the opposite couple was pronounced husband and wife (even if it killed them to do so). They speak at least once a week on the phone and trade e-mails more frequently than that.

They're talking on the phone one afternoon when she tells him the news. She's sitting in her office in LA and he's typing in his office in Tree Hill High. They've just finished laughing about something Jamie said involving wanting a sibling and then following up with asking the question every parent fears where do babies come from?

"We're moving back", she blurts out because if she didn't go for it, she never would have told him. Everyone else knows, but she made them promise not to tell Lucas because she just needed to.

He coughs on his coffee and has to stand up in order to catch his breath. She's coming home? He can feel his pulse start to race and he knows it shouldn't, but he doesn't find himself caring much about that these days. Because she's Peyton and he's come to the understanding that it's just always going to be there.

"Wow", he says softly. "When?"

She doodles in the margin of her book and takes in a deep breath. "A month . . . we've already got the house and now it's just about tying up loose ends and finishing some projects and saying goodbye to friends", she says softly.

"I can't believe you're moving home", he breathes out and runs a hand through his hair. His heart hammers in his chest and he swears he's having a heart attack. If he isn't having one now he certainly will once he has to see her practically every day.

"Yeah", she mimics his tone, "Listen I have to go, trying to figure out who I can leave in charge of all this", she chuckles and isn't all that surprised when he doesn't respond. "Bye Lucas."

He doesn't even register that she's hung up until he hears the shrill dial tone ring in his ear. He lets out a breath and quickly shoots her a text apologizing for not being more responsive and of course that leads to them talking all afternoon through text messages.

On his drive home later he takes a little detour. He rolls down his windows and breathes in the wonderfully salty smell of the ocean and squints his eyes to take in the house numbers. When he finally comes to right address he pulls into the driveway and cuts the engine. The house is gorgeous and massive. It's got a wraparound porch and white siding with blue shutters. The beach is within walking distance and the front yard is massive.

It's the exact kind of house he always pictured she'd have . . . just not with another man.

He doesn't know what's going on with him these days. Sure, Peyton's always been lingering just beneath the surface, but after seeing her at Jamie's birthday and sporadically since then it's become harder and harder to not think about her.

By the time he gets home the lights are all off and he sighs softly because Lindsey's probably pissed. There's a plate of food on the kitchen table with plastic wrap over it and the coffee pot is ready to go for the both of them in the morning. He tosses his keys onto the table and opens their bedroom door as quietly as possible. She's sitting in bed in the dark with her arms folded over her chest.

Yep, she's pissed.

"Sorry I'm so late", he says softly. She doesn't respond and Lucas sighs softly before pulling his short over his head and taking of track pants. "I was working on some plays for the boys and then I was writing –"

"You could have called", she whispers. Lucas smiles to himself because he knows this fight is over. If its one thing Lindsey isn't it's a fighter. She doesn't yell or shout sarcastic comments. She's completely docile.

Lucas found that intriguing at one point.

He apologizes again and crawls into bed with her. They both lay down and Lindsey nestles into the crook of his arm. He twirls the ends of her hair around his fingers- subconsciously trying to make her the girl he wants in bed with him. Her breathing is steady and he's nearly positive she's asleep.

"Peyton's moving home", he whispers and isn't all that surprised when he doesn't get a response. Sure, it's a cop out for whatever may come.

But he can't say he never told her.

A few weeks later Nathan and Lucas are huffing and puffing while they help Julian move couches and televisions and all sorts of furniture while the girls (minus Lindsey because she had to work) talk paint samples and bed spread patterns and the best way to keep stainless steel clean. They're finally taking a break from everything and Lucas walks into the kitchen to get a few bottles of water. He smiles at the girls and smiles a little wider when he locks eyes with Peyton.

For a second, he lets himself imagine this is theirs.

"What do you think Luke?" Brooke rasps over the rim of her wine glass. "Does the 'power couple' stand a chance of avoiding the paparazzi out here?"

The blonde man scoffs and rolls his eyes before turning to face the girls. The places the waters on the counter and leans against it. "They don't follow around any of us", he argues.

Peyton (who's only on her second glass of wine) gives him a blank stare and says; "Nathan is always on the road and Brooke practically lives in New York . . . why would they need to be here at all?"

"Your sarcasm wounds me, Sawyer", he grumbles. Brooke and Haley exchange glances at the use of Peyton's maiden name, but don't dare to say anything. They learned a long time ago that Lucas and Peyton will either find their way together or they won't; and it'll be done on their own terms.

The curly blondes' eyes are trained on the man in front of her. They're in some sort of limbo and they both know it. Neither knows how it's going to end, but a part of them is excited to find out – even though it's inappropriate since they're both, you know . . . married . . . to other people.

And then Lucas gives her that smirk. The one that makes her knees go weak and her palms sweat and it always leaves her feeling a little lightheaded. It makes Peyton wonder why her husband's grin never did any of those things at all.

As quickly as the moment comes it goes. Julian walks into the kitchen making a comment about being thankful he wasn't holding his breath for Lucas to bring back those waters. Everyone laughs because they're supposed to and Julian slides over to his wife to place a tender kiss to her temple.

"Have you thought about what I said?" he asks as he motions for Lucas to pass him a water bottle. The blonde man does, but imagines he's tossing it right as his head.

Peyton shakes her head, obviously not wanting to discuss it, but Julian isn't getting the hint and the more he pries the more intrigued Brooke is. Once Brooke's interested there's no way it's getting dropped.

"Thought about what? What are you not telling me P. Baker?" she demands instantly.

Peyton takes in a deep breath and Lucas chuckles as she rolls her eyes. "Julian thinks I should start up a record label here in Tree Hill –"

She doesn't want to talk about it because it's not the first time she's been told the things that Julian has encouraged her to pursue. In her mind she wouldn't be agreeing to an idea brought upon by her doting husband, but one that a blonde boy gave her nearly a decade ago. She shakes her head – careful not to let the others notice – sometimes the way she thinks about her past with Lucas it makes it seem like some torrid love affair; or like they still have something going on.

She thinks about the night they kissed over five years ago and her heart beats so loud she's worried her husband will hear it.

"That would be amazing!" Haley gushes. "I know this great singer –"

"But!" she playfully cuts off her longtime friend, "I just moved back home. There's a lot to be done here and I wanted to take a little time off, plus I don't even know where to find any office space . . ."

She trails off hoping that will be enough for her well meaning friends, but she underestimates the wheels that have been turning in Lucas's head. There's some stuff he and his mother have been going over lately and trying to decide what the best option was. He thinks he's finally found it.

"Actually, I have some space at TRIC", he says noncommittally. She stares at him in shock before she finds herself nodding. Brooke and Haley bombard him with questions that she's sure she should be asking and Julian grins before kissing her head and leaving the room.

She knows she should be thrilled that this kind of opportunity has come about and she doesn't doubt that in time she will be. But she's too consumed in the thought that this means she'll be seeing him a lot more then she fooled herself into thinking. Peyton's not sure what he was thinking by doing this and she's not too sure what she was thinking by agreeing to it, but she's not entirely surprised.

They've always been masochists.

( Can't you see? You're my life line )

He kisses her one night.

Lindsey's out of town again and Julian's in LA on business. They're sitting in her office space (that she's thanked him for countless times) and sipping on scotch as they talk about everything and nothing and somehow everything that matters. She's already signed an artist onto her Tree Hill label - that singer Haley mentioned - and he's halfway done with his fourth novel. They laugh about how far they've come from the starry eyed kids they once were.

She yawns softly and Lucas pats her leg. "I'm sorry for hogging all your time", he starts to move, but Peyton's voice halts him.

"I don't mind, especially with Julian away. It's nice to just talk . . ."

Lucas squints his eyes and tilts his head slightly; "Is he usually away this often?" He asks delicately.

Peyton shrugs. "It's harder now that we live here. In LA all of his client's are within driving distance."

"So why bother moving at all?"

"He wanted to start a family", she's always a little more honest after some liquor. Lucas freezes mid sip and stares at her with his mouth agape "I'm not - we haven't even tried or anything", she whispers.

Lucas lets out a breath of air for reasons he knows he shouldn't be thinking. It's just that she's Peyton and the thought of her having kids with someone . . .

"Lindsey and me aren't either", he says quickly. "She wanted to when we first got married, but she just travels too much and it would be too hard", he finishes the last bit of his sentence softly and with a double meaning.

Peyton nods – her heart a little lighter, "We're something else, huh?" she says with a laugh. "Married and we can't even let ourselves be completely happy", she finishes with a sigh.

"It's who we are" he mumbles her words from a few years earlier. Peyton smiles at him slowly and shakes her head.

"Well I am happy that he brought up moving back to Tree Hill. Things are different here", she says brightly.

"I'm happy he got you to move back too", the blonde in front of her says sincerely. "It's been really great hanging out with you again."

"It feels like old times, right?" she asks rhetorically. Neither of them really know what exactly old times mean in this instant, but they don't want to ruin the moment by questioning it either. "I don't have to pretend with you", Peyton finds herself whispering.

Lucas stares at her in her moment of vulnerability. He notes (not for the first time) how beautiful she looks. Her curls are loose and her sweater has fallen off her shoulder, her green eyes are killing him. Every bone in his body has the desire to kiss her.

So he does.

It's a simple press of his lips to hers and he doesn't intend for it to last too long, but Peyton seems to. He starts to pull away until Peyton cups the back of his head; bringing their bodies closer to each other. When they finally do break apart they're gasping for air that they've denied themselves of. Lucas can't help but to notice the way her chest heaves with her actions.

Peyton blushes and runs her hand over her face. "I'm sorry –", she starts to whisper.

"I'm not", he cuts off her. Her green eyes dart to his blue ones. She's got to be imagining this moment in time. "I'm not sorry I kissed you", he says more forcefully in case she didn't hear him the first time.

"Lucas don't", she begs him with a whisper. She stands and folds her arms over herself. "You can't – you don't . . ."

The blonde man stands and stares into her green eyes, "No", Lucas says softly. He reaches for her hand and she lets him take it. "Don't tell me . . . I can't be the only one feeling these things. Don't tell me you don't feel them too."

Peyton sighs and gives him a sad, defeated look. "Lucas, I have always felt these things", she whispers hoarsely. Tears threaten to spill over at any moment, but she's doing her best to remain strong. "But like I told you before, we're a bunch of chances missed and opportunities never taken."

He shakes his head and looks at her incredulously. "I'm here taking a chance and jumping at an opportunity!" he seems to plead with her. She snaps her eyes shut and instead of feeling sad she's suddenly infuriated.

"And do you see these?" she questions loudly as she holds up their locked left hands. "These are the wedding rings that signify the sacred vows we made with other people! Lucas, it's too late", she says strongly.

She honestly doesn't know where she's getting any of this power from. She's spent years thinking about the what if's and the maybe's and the shoulda, woulda, coulda's that make up their relationship. And here it is, being laid out in black and white and she's shutting it down.

"No, it can't be . . ." he trails off.

"God Luke", she says through gritted teeth. "This can't keep happening with us. You're with Brooke and you want to be with me. You're with Lindsey and now you decide you want to be with me", she says bitterly and doesn't bother to hide it.

"You weren't exactly single at all times either", he points out carefully. She scoffs and rolls her eyes.

"I wasn't the one kissing me in my kitchen when my girlfriend was at work and I'm not the one making declarations in my studio when my wife is out of town", she makes a comeback. "You always want us when you can't have me, Luke."

Lucas simply shakes his head and tucks a strand of hair behind her ear. "Silly girl", he whispers affectionately. "Ever think that I just always want you? Single, dating, engaged, married . . . I always want you. No matter what the circumstances."

That's the statement that spills the tears from her eyes. This is the kind of statement that makes her hate him and love all at the same time. But they're just too old to do this again.

"I have Julian", she murmurs. "And it's not always perfect and sometimes it's far from perfect, but it's – he's always been there –"

"So sometimes it's good and sometimes there's no one else?" he quotes the words that came out of her sixteen year old mouth. She looks at the floor and shakes her head while letting out a tired sigh. She's tired of so much.

"Luke, I don't need you trying to interpret what I say", she mumbles. "I don't need you in here confessing things that I've wanted to hear from you since I was that sixteen year old girl", she lets go of his hand and watches as it drops to his side. "In fact I'm pretty sure I don't need you at all", she whispers.

Lucas isn't quite deterred yet. He smirks at her and takes a step forward – to which she takes a step back. "Pretty sure?" he questions.

Peyton groans and throws her head back. Is there ever going to be a time when their past isn't lingering just beneath the surface?

"I think you should leave", she whispers strongly. She doesn't know if she's going to break into sobs, or vomit, or change her mind and beg him to stay.

Surprisingly, as she watches him leave she does none of those things.

But two weeks later when he has a heart attack she does exactly all of those things.

( Come around come around come around come around to me
Come around come around come around come around to me
Come around come around come around come around to me
)

She's got a new house. It's still on the beach, but there are some differences. It's white with a huge wraparound porch and a swinging bench seat that she likes to sit on and drink sweet tea. It's got black shutters and a deep colored front door. There are enough rooms in the house for a bedroom and a study and room for her to paint in. The front yard has a white picket fence which totally isn't something she imagined in her life, but seems kind of perfect now.

He's got a new house too. This time it's on the beach and it's totally different from the house he grew up in. It's white with a massive wraparound porch and a swinging bench seat that he likes to sit on and drink sweet tea. It's got black shutters and a deep colored front door. There are enough rooms in the house for a bedroom and an art room and a room for him to write in. the front yard has a white picket fence which is something he always imagined in his life and so it's kind of perfect.

The divorce wasn't easy, either of them. His dragged on mostly because Lindsey couldn't let go and hers did because Julian simply didn't want to let go. The longer they went on the harder it was though. Lindsey became mean spirited and rude and Lucas couldn't ever believe he thought about spending the rest of his life with her.

At one point she made a snide comment about him never truly satisfying her needs and Lucas responding with telling her that her needs were never ones he wanted to fulfill. Their engagement was a fluke and their marriage was a sham. Lindsey spent years wondering if another woman held his heart and for a while she thought that was Brooke. But after seeing how he acted with and around Peyton it was painfully obvious that she hadn't prepared herself for the right kind of heartache.

Julian would call Peyton and beg her to change her mind because he loved her and that should be all that mattered.

It would have, had Peyton been in love with him.

Now she wears a ring that was always a little tight on his ex-wife's finger, but fits hers seamlessly. And he's filled a gap in her heart that she was sure would always be there. They complete each other's sentences and can credit their accomplishments to the total feeling of love in their lives. They also take turns running around after their kids.

"Okay, I'm tapping out", Luca says between puffs of air. Peyton chuckles as he collapses next to her on their front porch. She hands him her glass of sweet tea and smoothes out the wrinkles of his brow.

"I think they can wear themselves out", she decides with a scrunched nose. Lucas laughs and kisses the tip of her nose before moving to kiss her cheek before landing on her lips. "I don't think I'll ever get tired of that", she whispers once they break apart.

"You better not", Lucas grumbles playfully. She smiles and leans in to kiss him again.

"Daddy!" the voice of their child breaks the moment before their lips meet and they both laugh softly. That happens a lot during their quiet moments together and like every other time they glance at the child calling out and kiss quickly before tending to their parenting duties.

Peyton watches as Lucas runs onto the lawn and lifts their son into the air. She feels her heart swell as she watches them and that simple action lets her know that Lucas was the right choice. She shakes her head, who is she kidding? He's the only choice. It's taken some time and some heartache, but this is exactly how she pictured her life.

They were married as soon as their divorces were finalized. Lucas' took longer because Lindsey was so intent on taking for everything he had. Their nuptials were simple just them, two rings, a judge, and city hall. They had both done the grand ceremony before and truthfully it just wasn't them. They had quietly picked out a house they wanted while they were still in the process of divorce and it was on this very front porch she found out she was pregnant.

Their children are what most people call "Irish Twins", they're born within the same calendar year which of course had their friends ragging on them for not wasting any time. William Keith was born in March and Emma Grace was born that same December. Apparently a woman is most fertile just after she gives birth.

They're four now and have their fathers eyes and their mothers hair (William's due for a haircut). They're bold, but guarded. They're independent, but love to snuggle on the couch. They can draw and shoot a free throw and already know the musical greats (Ryan Adams and Zeppelin are obviously at the top of the list). They're the best of both their parents and most days Lucas and Peyton have to stop and take a breath just so they can believe that this is really their life.

Peyton's knocked out of her thoughts by the sound of her daughter's voice, "Mommy! William said the new baby's gonna like him better!" she shouts as she runs into the protective arms of her mother.

Lucas and Peyton knew that they wanted to have a lot of children (they didn't bother to question why they tiptoed around it in their first marriages), but after having two in such a short time span they thought it would be best to wait. Which is why she was extra hot and her feet were swollen and she really just didn't want to get out of bed most days she was so tired.

"The new baby is going to love you both equally", she makes sure to stress. William certainly was a button pusher. If you asked Lucas he would say that was all Peyton (as long as you didn't ask him in front of his wife).

Lucas ruffles his son's hair and Emma scowls at her older brother. She looks between her parents and walks up to the top step. She glares at William and brushes her curls from her face.

"I still hope it's a girl so you're a little left out", she says quickly before darting into the house. William scrambles up the steps and after his sister all the while shouting No fair!

Peyton holds her hand in the air and Lucas helps her to her feet. He rests his forehead against hers and breathes in the summer air and her lavender body lotion and detangling shampoo that both she and Emma use.

He wants to bottle this smell.

"What made us think having another was a good idea?" he asks jokingly.

Peyton opens her eyes and bats her eyelashes. "Lucas Scott, are you trying to tell me that you're tired of this life?" she teases with her southern drawl.

She watches as his eyes turn pensive and she knows he's about to say something profound and meaningful and it will make her fall even more in love with him. He tucks a strand of hair behind her ear and rests his hand against her swollen stomach. The soft pressure he feels makes him shake his head.

"Never", he whispers. "This is the life I've wanted since I was sixteen", he verbalizes her earlier thoughts. "I'll never get tired of it . . . never, Peyton Scott."

"I love you", she whispers as tears cloud her eyes.

When they first married she demanded that he include her new last name every time he used her first. After a week he finally teased her and asked if he could start leaving that out. She blushed and simply told him that she just loved being called a Scott, his Scott. Now he slips it in randomly at all the right moments.

Their kids call out to them to ask when lunch will be ready and both Lucas and Peyton chuckle at their children's uncanny ability to interrupt any and all personal moments. Lucas tugs on her hand and begins their walk up the front steps. Peyton frowns and once they're on the flat surface of the porch she eyes him.

Lucas throws his head back with laughter and places both his hands on her fuller cheeks. He kisses her tenderly and drags his hands down her face, over her collar bone, and along her arms. He stops when he reaches her hands and after he interlocks their fingers he whispers;

"I love you too, always have, always will", and kisses her once more.

( Come around come around come around come around to me
There's something in between you and I come around come around to me
You feel like breathing, Come around come around come around come around to me
)


Let me know what you think!

Also, I know I've been MIA FOREVER, but I'm hoping to change that. Hopefully you'll all stand by and wait for me!