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20 March 2006 @ 11:52 pm
Always Have & Never Hold - LP one-shot  
Title: Always Have and Never Hold

Author: Tejal (mrsotown)

Rating: T

Summary: ‘They make a good couple, but they are not perfect. And they will never be perfect.’ LP one-shot, prequel to ‘Baby, Stay Away’

Author’s Notes: Just a quick Peyton-focused one-shot prequel to Baby, Stay Away because a lot of people were pissed at her. This is why she did what she did. Lots of love goes to my meta, Cari. Title comes from The Fray’s 'Look After You'.


Always Have and Never Hold

Peyton isn’t sure what it is that compels her stay with Lucas Scott.

She isn’t quite sure what it is that makes her love him either.

Perhaps it is how they can talk for hours about books and discuss literature.

Or how they have the same taste in music even after high school.

Maybe it is because everyone tells them that they look ‘good’ together.

But good is not perfect – and Peyton knows that they will never be perfect.

She sighs as she flicks off the TV, irked by the fact that there is nothing to watch on a Saturday afternoon. She tips her head back gently to catch a glimpse of Lucas busying himself in the kitchen.

He doesn’t notice her.

Instead he is chopping vegetables for a stir fry he’s cooking up for their dinner.

It’s cold in the apartment and Peyton shivers slightly as her hands check the radiators.

“Lucas, did you turn the radiators off?” she yells into the kitchen.

“Yeah.” He says it without looking at her. She grumbles as she gets off the couch and turns the radiators in the house, beginning from the living room and making her way into the bedroom.

Their bedroom.

It’s really kind of his bedroom. She merely sleeps there every night and her clothes just happen to be in the closet, filling the spaces that someone else left behind.

That is all Peyton is. A filler.

She fills the seat opposite Lucas at dinner and the right side of the bed.

She is the red toothbrush that sits beside Lucas’ blue toothbrush.

Peyton has noticed how the toothbrushes never touch. They always end up facing away from each other.

Perhaps it’s a sign.

Peyton shakes the thoughts out of her head, but as she turns on the bedroom radiator, her eyes fall on her side of the bed.

She loves Lucas, honestly she does.

But she doesn’t understand why two people so supposedly right for each other feel so wrong most of the time.

He tells her he loves her. He invites her to bed. He makes love to her.

Yet he never looks her in the eyes when he tells her he loves her, or smiles when they enter the bedroom. He turns away after sex and never touches her during the night.

It’s not the way it was described to her many times by her best friend.

Sometimes she catches him staring at the empty space she leaves in the mornings, and she’d like to believe it’s because he misses her.

It’s a different ‘her’ he misses and Peyton has stopped trying to deny it.

It’s the brunette strands of hair he looks for on the pillow and he wants the pink toothbrush to reside next to his.

He wants somebody that burns simple meals like toast and forces him to watch entertainment news channels.

Lucas had somebody like that. He lost her.

Everybody knows that Lucas has never fully recovered from that loss. Peyton knows it because she lives with it.

Ever since Peyton walked back into her old life she knew that Lucas was a changed man. He wasn’t the broody basketball star with a heart of gold. He was a bitter, cold drunk that struggled to get up in the mornings.

Ex-drunk, actually.

After Lucas’ brush with the law he’s done his best to stay sober and attend all his meetings.

Peyton is grateful that she wasn’t there to witness the great Lucas Scott fall apart; she wasn’t part of the clean-up crew that Haley and Nathan were in. She wasn’t there for the nights Lucas went crawling between bars or looking for him in the early hours of the morning.

By the time Peyton had arrived, Lucas was supposedly on the road to normal.

She wonders how long the road was because, after almost two years, he is a broken man.

Peyton chuckles to herself. She is in love with a man who is still in love with his ex-girlfriend.

Her best friend.

Of course Peyton is angry at Brooke. Many people are. Nobody understands to this day why she just disappeared when everything seemed happy. Peyton had been away at college at the time and then she’d spent time with her Dad in Florida. She’d only heard of Brooke’s disappearing act from brief conversations with Haley.

But, though wishful thinking, Peyton expects Brooke to come back and let everything return to normal.

She is a little hurt that Brooke still hasn’t called her. She is supposed to be her best friend.

Maybe Brooke knows about Lucas and them. Perhaps that is why no contact has been made.

She still feels a little guilty. Even though it is Brooke who left, even though it has been seven years, Peyton still can’t help but think she is cheating on her.

Or maybe she is just cheating herself.

Peyton loves Lucas; and though Lucas had often said he loves her back, it is clear he is head over heels in love with Brooke.

Peyton’s eyes wander to under the bed. Soon after she had moved in she discovered the piles of clothing and belongings of Brooke’s that someone – most probably Lucas – had hidden underneath the bed.

Out of sight, out of mind?

Not quite.

Peyton knows it’ there and so does Lucas. It is almost like another person. Silent. Inanimate. Lingering. And there.

It is like living with a ghost.

They don’t speak about it. Why bring up bad memories? Though Peyton sometimes catches Lucas looking through some of the things on particularly bad days, and she herself has also sifted through them when she was alone. Just to see what was in there.

Pictures. Clothes. Books. Make-up. The doll house her friend loves so much. Eighty two letters.

Peyton has not read those letters. She knows how much they had meant to Brooke before and she knows nothing had changed. Reading those letters would be like reading betraying her best friend and she couldn’t do that again.

They still smell a lot like Brooke, though after so long, the scent is somewhat stale and faded.

Peyton can remember it if she tries hard enough.

She silently wonders just how often Lucas has tried to remember Brooke’s scent - before cursing herself for letting her feel this way again.

The nagging feeling of guilt for somehow stepping on Brooke’s memory by moving in with Lucas and doing all the things Brooke should be doing with him.

Just chalk up another betrayal by P. Sawyer to the tally.

It is times like this where Peyton thinks of the other things she could be doing; like going to the cinema or an art gallery, going out to dinner with friends, spending weekends in the park with… with a Lucas who loves her back.

She leans against the window and eyes her suitcase neatly perched on the top of the closet. It’s so easy to pull it down, she thinks to herself, and all her belongings are close by. She could slip out before dinner is ready.

She has thought of doing this several times before, and once or twice, even attempted it.

This time, she tells herself as she slowly stands up and approaches the suitcase, she’ll leave. She won’t look at Lucas and she won’t agree to stay one more month.

Within ten minutes her suitcase is full and she’s gathering up the essentials.

Five minutes after that, she has left the bedroom and the front door is in sight.

It must be fate or karma or something that makes Lucas decide dinner is ready and calls her to the kitchen. Peyton closes her eyes as he makes his way to her and cocks his head to the side.

“You’re leaving me?” he asks and the guilt from those three words is more than Peyton can bear.

“I have to,” she informs him for what seems the hundredth time – or were those numbers the conversations in her head?

“Why?” he crosses his arms and does that squinting thing. Peyton bites her lip.

“Lucas… it’s just not working. If I have to spend another day here with you I’ll go crazy.”

“But I—” Peyton holds up a hand and cuts him off.

“You don’t love me.”

“I do.” He says like a child trying to convince his mother he didn’t sneak a cookie before dinner – despite the crumbs and chocolate stains over his fingers.

Peyton can feel the freedom of the outside slipping further away from her every second that she stands there talking to him. As she reaches for the doorknob, she can sense the panic as he searches for the words she needs to hear.

“I need you.”

“But you don’t want me.”

The doorknob turns to the left a little and the door unlocks. It’s not long now…

“Marry me.”

Peyton stops as the words fall out of Lucas’ mouth.

It’s not romantic. There is no feeling in the words besides despair. It seems hasty and almost a last ditch attempt for her to stay.

She knows this is not what she wants and this is not what she needs.

But for some reason she doesn’t quite understand she nods and says ‘yes’; and the dreams of art galleries and walks in the park are now a distant memory.

-----

It’s the night of the engagement party and Peyton is in the restroom.

The woman of the evening is in a small cubicle staring down at her engagement ring.

It should feel light and natural. But it is heavy and imprisoning.

The large stone should sparkle brightly but it seems to barely wink at her.

She wonders whether this was supposed to be Brooke’s engagement ring. After the proposal, Lucas seemed to hesitate before running to the bedroom and producing a slightly dusty box with the ring inside.

Peyton knows that if it was on Brooke’s slender finger, it would sparkle more to match her smile.

She should be happy but instead she feels misplaced.

Half of the guests in the hall know it should be Brooke.

And the other half wonder what Brooke would make of it.

Nobody believes in Lucas and Peyton, least of all her.

With a sigh, she decides that she’s hidden enough and goes out to greet the crowd.

Peyton gives a smile to those who wish her well and shows the girls the ring which they expectedly fawn over.

Fakers.

Peyton blushes as she realizes she’s the biggest faker of all.

Nathan approaches her and gives her a hug. It’s not congratulatory but it’s to say thank you.

Thank you for not ditching my brother.

Nathan owes Peyton one.

“You okay?” he asks. Peyton grins almost manically.

“Why wouldn’t I be?”

He sees right through her.

“You don’t have to do this.” He reminds her.

“Yes I do.” She replies. “But then again miracles happen, right?” she offers him a small smile before making an excuse and leaving.

“Peyton!” Karen’s voice calls from behind. She hugs her future daughter-in-law. “Congratulations again.”

Peyton politely thanks her and there is an awkward silence between the two women. Peyton wonders what Karen is thinking of. Maybe she wishes it was Brooke standing there instead.

“I’m please you and Lucas are together.” Karen tells her, “You make a good couple.”

Peyton nods.

Yes, they make a good couple.

But good is not perfect.

And Peyton knows they can never be perfect.

Because she is no Brooke Davis.

---------

Suddenly Peyton is staring at her reflection in a mirror on her wedding day.

She should be smiling, not frowning.

The guests have arrived, the cake is ready, the flowers match the décor, and the band is ready.

And while Peyton’s attention should be on how beautiful she really looks on the supposedly happiest day of her life, it is drawn to the car park where a red car is parked.

She knows who it belongs to.

It is the car Brooke always told Peyton she’d own.

While most would be concerned at their fiancé’s ex-girlfriend showing up uninvited to their wedding; Peyton lets out a breath of relief.

Maybe miracles do happen.

It’s twenty minutes later when the door opens and Peyton holds her breath; but she already knows it won’t be Brooke.

Instead Nathan allows himself in.

“Is everything okay?” she asks expecting something – anything – to go wrong.

‘Brooke is back. She and Lucas are getting back together. You’re off the hook.’

Those words do not come out of his mouth.

“Just great,” he gives her a forced smile. “Are you okay? It’s not long now.”

‘Until the wedding or until I can go home?’

“I’m good.” Peyton feigns excitement and Nathan looks at her with a slightly pitiful expression.

“Well… I’ll let you know.” He nods and leaves her alone again.

Peyton’s eyes never drift from the car park as she waits for a sign.

Thirteen minutes and thirty four seconds later a figure runs out of the church and across the car park to the car.

It’s Brooke and she seems to have left in a hurry.

Peyton waits to see Lucas follow but there is no-one to stop her. She wonders whether she should do it herself.

What would the guests think if they saw the bride begging her best friend to save her from making a big mistake?

Brooke climbs into the car and cries as she hits her head several times against the steering wheel.

The question Peyton was asking herself is now answered.

By walking out, Brooke has unknowingly sentenced the three of them to a lifetime of misery.

And the wedding rings are the handcuffs.

Brooke lifts her head from the steering wheel and wipes at her tears, catching a glimpse of Peyton from the window.

The brunette shrugs and tries to smile back but the organ music pipes up loudly and she starts the engine.

Peyton just saw the back of the car drive off when Haley knocked on the door and called Peyton.

“We’re ready.”

She follows Haley obediently and stands in the wings as she waits.

The veil is lowered, the music swells, and the guests stand up in anticipation.

As Peyton walks in, the crowd gasp and give the requisite ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ as she begins her slow walk to her fate.

Her eyes set on Lucas and she realizes he doesn’t smile.

In fact he is the coldest part of the room.

By the time she reaches him at the altar, Peyton has accepted her duty to both her best friend and the broken man in front of her.

The vows are mumbled and they plaster smiles onto their faces. He pushes the ring onto her finger, apologizing when it’s a tight fit. Peyton doesn’t mind, she’d rather be numb than notice the pain that both of them are feeling.

Funnily enough, they are the most miserable ones in the church and it’s their day.

Peyton knows that she can’t make Lucas happy, but at least this way, he won’t be so alone.

The End.