DISCLAIMER: Don't own em, which sucks for me. But for Mark Schwann and Co who do, it's the farthest thing from suckage.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: There's a severe lack of Brooke/Peyton fic out there for some reason that's completely unfathomable to me. Lack of fic, makes one want to write apparently. So here's my attempt, hopefully it's not half bad. Thanks to Nikki, Rachel, Heather and Gaby for being inspirations in the B/P fic world. This is going to be swapping out from different point of views, the first installment starting with Brooke. I find I can get inside the characters head a bit better by writing in first person.
SPOILERS: Pretty much anything is fair game, but particularly the season 2 finale and the entire Brooke/Lucas/Peyton triangle drama.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By Casandra


Part Three

I honestly have no clue what I'm doing. I mean, I literally must be going out of my mind to be even considering this. But that hasn't stopped me from feverishly packing a couple of suitcases, emptying out most of my drawers in the process. According to Brooke I shouldn't even be packing anything.

Yeah, as much as I love the girl, it's a rare day when I actually listen to her when it comes to spur of the moment, must be out of your mind, ideas. And it's bad enough that she's talked me into flying across the country on a few hours notice. No way am I not taking anything with me.

Never mind that I hate flying. It's my least favorite form of transportation. When we were down in Texas for cheer camp a few years ago, Brooke literally had to hold onto my hand the entire flight. It's something that's been an almost ritual for us over the years. Every time I've been on an airplane, Brooke has been sitting next to me.

The first time I ever flew was back when we were twelve. My father was apparently getting desperate trying to cheer me up after my mother passed away. I guess he figured two years was a long enough mourning period. So he sprung for a week in Disney World. He was shocked when I steadfastly refused to go unless he let Brooke come with us. By that time she had become my living and breathing security blanket. I really should have worried about how dependant and attached I was to her, but I guess at twelve and in the throes of an amazing amount of grief, I didn't care. In retrospect it was on the selfish side, but Brooke never seemed to mind. If anything, she hovered even when I didn't ask her to stay with me. Her presence was comforting, the only thing that really could give me that feeling back then. So why would I have wanted that to go away.

Dad got it. At least I think he did. And after all, the trip was to try and get me out of the dumps, and Brooke was the only person in the world that was capable of getting me to cheer up at all those days. So after some begging and lots of pouting, he let Brooke tag along with us. It was no surprise that her parents didn't care one way or the other, and they even gave her quite a chunk full of change to pay her own way for everything.

So there we were, waiting at the New Brunswick airport, sitting in the crowded terminal with all the other theme park bound families. I had been trying to keep my gaze down at the magazine in my lap, but every once in a while I would glance up and take in the vision of the kids, just like me, their mothers double checking through their backpacks to make sure they hadn't forgotten anything.

It made me miss my mom even more, knowing that she had never gotten to see me experience Mickey and Co. It had been something we had talked about as a family for years. But dad could never seem to get his vacations in tandem with my mother's, so we ended up having to backburner the trip. And then, there I was, finally taking it, but without her. It was a very bitter pill to swallow. And I couldn't help but feel slightly resentful of my father for that. Rationally I knew it wasn't his fault, but the twelve year old grieving child mourning her mother wasn't really using her more rational side back then.

I remember, as I sat stewing about my father's devotion to his job and resenting the families I was surrounded by, I felt a warm hand slide into my own that had been sitting limply in my lap. I glanced down, though I already knew who it belonged to. When I looked up at her she had a sympathetic half smile greeting me. She squeezed my hand once more, increasing the hold she had on it, and then went back to reading her Teen People, never releasing her grasp on me. And for the thousandth time I thanked God that she was my best friend.

Once we had gotten on the plane, because of the way the trip had been booked, and Brooke getting a ticket a few days after my father had bought ours, we ended up having boarding passes for seats about ten rows apart. My dad, not wanting Brooke to have to sit by herself on a crowded plane, took her seat and let us sit together. She immediately called dibs on the window seat, knowing that I was scared to death of the thought of flying to begin with, that the last thing I should be doing was staring out of the window. I didn't argue, although the lady sitting to my left on the aisle looked less than sociable, so I just made sure to lean as far into Brooke as I could. Garnering a few smirks from my best friend, but I didn't really care, nor was I honestly paying that much attention.

I was doing fine, keeping the panic bubbling discretely under the surface, my knuckles turning a nice pale color as they gripped the armrest. Until we started speeding up for take-off. Taxi-ing the runway was cake compared to that. As we climbed into the air, at what felt to me like a freaking 90 degree angle, I gave up all pretense of calm and switched my grip from the arms of my seat to Brooke's wrist. I started panicking. More than panic really, hyperventilating, sweat beading on my forehead, voicing all sorts of horrific visions of the plane plummeting back to the ground, in graphic detail, and loudly. For the fifteen minutes or so that it took for the plane to reach its desired altitude and finally level off, I was a bundle of raw nerves, with Brooke rubbing my arm up and down, listening to me prattle on and on about how we were going to die. By the time she finally managed to calm me down I had left deep fingerprints into the underside of her wrist and the lady next to me had unbuckled herself and moved to one of the emergency exit seats.

And I haven't grown any more fond of it since. Although I'm calmer now, enough so in fact that I managed to tease Brooke about her anxiety when we went to Texas a few years ago. It was mean, I know it was, but I had no idea that she was a nervous flyer. I never would have guessed considering how at ease she seemed when I was freaking out. When I called her on it she made some lame excuse about being too caught up in the prettiness of Ben Affleck in the issue of some random entertainment rag that she had been reading that she didn't care about being thirty thousand feet up in the sky.

It wasn't until much later that I realized that she had put her own fear and nervousness aside to try and make me feel more at ease. And I think once I figured that out I fell in love with her all over again. Of course it's only been a rather recent development that I even feel comfortable enough with the idea that I've loved her, in some form or another, almost my entire life. At 18 years old, it's a very odd situation I've found myself in. Knowing something and accepting that same thing are sometimes on completely different ends of a spectrum. Thankfully, I think I might be meeting in the middle of my curve here.

With a begrudging nod to Lucas.

I really hate the fact that he could pick up on it. I'm not entirely sure why either. Maybe it's because it makes me wonder for how long he knew. Luke never really elaborated much, and I was too much of a mess, and still subletting my nice little Egyptian riverside property to really want to ask for details. But if he was aware of my feelings for my best friend for a while, and he still pursued BOTH of us, I really don't like the implications. I'd like to think he's a better man than that. I love Lucas, I may not be in love with him, but I love him just the same, in my own convoluted sort of way. And the idea that he could have just overlooked something as complicated as this particular little situation, just to get some piece of either of us, is not something I want to think about.

I glance at the clock, surprised to see that my departure time is fast creeping up on me. I throw a couple more pairs of jeans into my suitcase before zipping it up and reaching for the phone at the same time. I can't drive myself to the airport, especially since I have no idea how long I'm going to be gone. I can only imagine what kind of parking fee that would rack up. Never mind the fact I just got myself a nice expensive ticket the other night when I dropped Brooke off. Nope, a taxi is the only way to go.

Not having any idea where the phone book is, or if we even have one for that matter, I immediately 411'd, quickly trying to remember the name of the local cab company here in Tree Hill. Just as the operator was asking me for the listing, I heard a hesitant knock on my door. For just one tiny split second, I thought it might have been Brooke. But as soon as the thought entered it flew right back out of my mind. The fact that I don't think she's ever knocked before bouncing into my bedroom, telling me in no uncertain terms that whoever it was could not be my best friend. I didn't even bother thinking about the three thousand mile teleportation that would have been required for her to magically appear at my doorway.

I turned around, my cordless still pressed to my ear. And came face to face with someone I'd wondered if I'd ever see again.

We stood there, staring at each other for a good minute, the operator's nasally voice echoing over the line, repeatedly asking me for a listing before finally disconnecting me.

"I don't know why I expected this place to be different." Haley finally speaks up, her eyes roaming around my bedroom, as if she hasn't seen it in years.

"Just because you changed doesn't mean everything does." I couldn't keep the bite out of my tone. And I'm honestly not sure if I even wanted to. Haley hurt all of us when she left, not just Nathan. And with all the people that have abandoned me in my lifetime, I really didn't expect her to be the next in line. I think I was more disappointed than anything.

The little devil perched precariously on my shoulder jumps up in glee when I see her flinch. I honestly don't know what she was expecting to come back to. Hugs and kisses?

"I haven't changed Peyton." She says it so quietly I wonder if she's trying to convince me or herself of it.

"No, of course you haven't. Because the Haley James that I knew, she would run off in the middle of the night, ditching her husband and all her friends behind to chase after some egomaniacal little wannabe. And there's no doubt that she wouldn't even bother to try and call and see how everyone was doing." The further along I got in my little speech, the more resentful I started feeling. And I didn't like it.

People make mistakes, I'm a prime example of that. One word. Lucas. I really shouldn't be as hard on her as I'm being. But there's something just driving me on. It might be my overwhelming anxiety at what's looming ahead once I step on that plane, but that's really no excuse.

Haley shakes her head, looking down at the floor for a moment. "I didn't come here to fight with you Peyton. Lucas told me you were going through some stuff and I wanted to see if I could help. It's the least I could do."

Lovely, Lucas is sharing my secrets now too. I'm beginning to really rethink this whole friendship angle with him. With friends like him, do I really even need enemies. That's harsh, I know it as soon as I think it, but I'm feeling so raw that I can barely even feel bad about it.

I let out a hollow laugh, my lovely chipper mood not being tamed by Haley's continued presence. "It really is the least. But I don't have time even if I wanted to get into it with you. I've gotta get to the airport." I turn my back to her, glancing around my bedroom trying to make sure I haven't forgotten to pack something.

"You're leaving?"

Turning around I smirk at her surprised face. "If you can do it, so can I." She flinches again and I decide I've been enough of a bitch to her. I'm taking so many other things out on Haley, and it's just not fair. I take a deep breath, trying to settle my nerves so that I don't snap again. "Look, I'm sorry. I've just got a lot of things going on right now, and I'm kind of in a hurry. You're timing just sucks."

As I'm rushing around, making sure that my computer and stereo are unplugged, I can feel Haley's gaze following me. "You're going out to California." It's not a question, and it's enough to stop me in my hurried tracks.

I play dumb. Does everyone freaking know? "What makes you say that?"

Haley smiles a little, yep, she knows. "Because that's where Brooke is."

I can feel the blush traveling up my cheeks, even as I spit out a rather weak denial. "So?"

Haley's smile just grows. She doesn't have to say a word. And I'm oddly comforted by what seems to be her easy acceptance of the idea. Feeling her eyes still locked on me I glance over at the clock on my nightstand, realizing I still haven't called the cab company. At this rate I'm so going to miss my flight.

I must have verbalized my frustrations with some kind of grunt, because the next thing I'm aware of is Haley's fingers wrapped around my forearm, guiding me out of my bedroom, my hands loaded down with my suitcases and my two duffels slung over her small shoulders.

"Come on, I'll take you to the airport."

I really don't deserve her kindness after the nasty way I treated her when she showed up in my bedroom. So I mumble a quiet thank you as I load my luggage into her trunk. As I'm strapping myself into the front seat I vaguely wonder when Haley got a car.

We pull up to the front of the terminal and as I'm getting out the butterflies in my stomach start their Olympic training all over again. Placing my luggage onto the little cart the attendant was kind enough to roll over to me, my hands start shaking almost uncontrollably. I'm honestly starting to wonder if I have the strength to go through with this.

Just as I'm contemplating jumping back into the car, Haley captures one of my shaking hands in between her own. She smiles up at me serenely, calming my nerves a bit.

"There's absolutely nothing to worry about Peyton. Trust me."

"How can you be so sure?" Really, how can she just know that, especially after being gone so long.

She lets go of me, giving me a little push towards the spinning glass doors leading to the ticket counter. "I just do. And you will too. Now go get your skinny ass onto that plane. Brooke's waiting for you."

I nod my head blankly, watching as she pulls away from the curb. I'm beginning to wonder when all of my friends turned into Yoda, this whole wise sage stuff they've been spewing really starting to get weird.

Thirty minutes later I'm sitting in my seat, the window of course, my luck just not coming through the last few hours. I glance outside to the tarmac, seeing the line of planes in front of us waiting to take off. Looks like I'm in for a long wait. Probably not the best thing considering I can feel the panic starting to build already. The longer we sit here the more time I have to start freaking out.

The plane starts to move again, almost like a lineup at a fast food drive through. At that exact moment my hip starts vibrating. I discretely shift myself to face out the window, flipping it open and bringing it to my ear, not even bothering to check the caller ID.

"You ass better be sitting in some horribly upholstered uncomfortable plane seat." Hearing Brooke's voice immediately puts me at ease, even as I'm watching the plane moving further down the runway.

"And if it's not?" I tease her.

"Well I've been sitting here reading your journal all day, so I'm too wiped out to think of a witty comeback. But I don't need to because I can hear the jet engines." I take a big mental gulp at her mention of my journal again. I can only imagine how far she's gotten since the last time we talked.

"So did you finish it?" I ask hesitantly

"I skipped over some of the more Lucas and Nathan centric entries, cause, well yuck. But yeah, I got to the last one." I can just picture her nose scrunching up when she mentioned some of the more detail oriented times I vented in those pages. I don't blame her for jumping past those.

"And I shouldn't be trying to find an escape hatch on the plane somewhere?" I can't help but still feel hesitant.

Brooke scoffs at that. "Would you stop it already. I'm telling you P Sawyer, you make me reassure you one more time and the only thing you'll be getting when you land is a big spanking."

I laugh to cover the desire that particular thought inspired in me. Visions of Brooke in a tight red leather body suit, cat o nine tail in hand causing my whole body to feel like molten lava has replaced the blood in my veins. I'm surprisingly not upset by the idea though, which is comforting. I think I might just be ready for this step into the unknown with my best friend.

Before I can even think of a witty retort, Brooke cuts me off. "And don't even think about calling me kinky, it's redundant. Besides, you know I'm not kidding." She teases me, although I know that she really isn't joking. I've been on the receiving end of a butt smack or two of hers. Girl has got quite the palm on her.

"Miss, you need to turn that off now, we're ready for takeoff." The flight attendant kindly interrupts us. I couldn't be mad at her, because she very well could have just gotten all pissy with me, I know better not to use a cell on the plane anyway.

I smile at her, nodding my head in acknowledgement. "Listen Brooke, I gotta go, we're about to takeoff."

"Ok blondie, be safe, I'll see you soon."

"Yep, soon." I sigh into the phone, an equal mix of anticipation and fear coloring my voice. After pressing end I return the phone to my back pocket, before getting a nice firm grip on my armrest. As the engines crank up and we build speed down the runway, I'm reminded again of that first trip with Brooke. I feel a content smile spread itself across my face, and for the first time today, I'm filled with a total sense of peace. Nothing is going to be the same between me and Brooke. But I'm really starting to be ok with that. And it's an amazing feeling.

By the time I reach the last page of Peyton's journal, the sun is long set under the horizon. The massive house is completely still and quiet, the sounds from the beach goers long faded into the night. And my hands are trembling as I flip the last sheet of paper over, still nervous of what I'll find, even after all of the previous entries that have kept me completely absorbed all day long.

February 14th, 2005

Well apparently I finally know what it's like to spend Valentine's Day alone.

I've read all those articles in the dozen teen magazines that litter the grocery checkout line. And I've always rolled my eyes at the girls moaning about how they don't have a boyfriend to take them out, buy them expensive dinners, give them tacky jewelry. And then of course being wooed by all of that crap, they ever so romantically lose their virginity to these amazing guys, only to get dumped the next day. Not something that really appealed to me.

Besides, Brooke and I had a pact that we would always spend February 14th together, even playing hooky if it fell on a school day. We'd go load up on junk food, the one time that Brooke would actually indulge herself in any and all things bound to add a few pounds to her trim frame. We'd pop American Movie Classics on and sit there ensconced in the big oversized comforter on my bed, snuggled together, handfuls of junk food making their way haphazardly down our throats, watching as Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman shared a tearful farewell onscreen.

Which of course always made me launch into a big cynical tirade that Brooke would patiently let me ramble on and on about year in and year out. Why Casablanca is considered the most romantic movie in American cinema history still baffles me to this day. Ilsa left Rick for another man after all. How is that the height of romance? I just don't get it. I suppose that there was a point about sacrificing someone you love for their own good. But I wanted a happy ending damn it! Why is it all of those classic movies have star crossed lovers as their protagonists? Casablanca, West Side Story, Gone With the Wind. None of those couples end up together. And I get that real life doesn't work that way, things are messy, and more often than not, love isn't always the end all, be all. But aren't movies supposed to be a form of escapism? What's the point of watching a love story when it just ends up like everyone else's in real life?

I always end my little tirade the same way. Shaking my head and grabbing the remote control, disgusted by how fickle people's emotions are, choosing instead to see if MTV was running any sappy love song fueled marathons. Brooke would just smile a bit at me, pat me on the head in a lovingly exasperated tap and then snuggle back down on the bed with me to waste away the rest of the night.

It was comforting, that was what Valentine's Day became to me. Being with someone who was the most important person in my life. Not doing anything special, just sharing that time with each other.

But this year Brooke has a boyfriend. Felix. She's been with handfuls of guys since we hit high school, but she's never really had a steady boyfriend before. And I didn't even think at the time how that small little detail would change things so much.

Brooke came bounding up to my locker first thing this morning, cheeks flushed pink with the bitter cold weather Tree Hill's been plagued with this winter. She was gushing about Felix's elaborate plans for their date tonight. From the first few words in, I realized that our pact, one we'd kept religiously for the last eight years, was broken. And from the way she was going on, I don't think she even gave it a moment's thought. I zoned out somewhere around the mention of their spending the long weekend on Hilton Head Island in some cozy little beachside cabana.

It's an image I want desperately to scrub away from my, unfortunately overactive, imagination. I made up some lame excuse and escaped from Brooke as quickly as my legs would carry me. I studiously avoided her all day long, even when she almost managed to corner me after our eighth period American History class. I quickly glanced at her in my rush to get away, flinching at the look of hurt that flashed in her chocolate eyes.

And as I sit here writing this, that look keeps popping into my mind, like a bright neon sign outside some rundown motel, making sure that the occupants don't forget that they're probably there doing something they shouldn't be. I know it was a shitty thing to do, and I'd never intentionally hurt Brooke. But every time I looked at her I kept getting that image of her cuddling up to Felix, toasting champagne, and then moving on to more……intimate activities. It makes my stomach burn with jealousy.

It's funny, for so long I've tried to push down my feelings for Brooke. I threw myself into a relationship with Nathan that was beyond doomed to start with. And then I somehow managed to make just as big of a mistake with Lucas.


No that was actually much worse. Because it hurt Brooke, deeply. And even now I would give anything to go back and change things. Even if it meant I would have been pining for someone I could never have while she had the guy I could have used as a distraction. It was an assured mess from the get go, a bomb ready to implode in on all of us at any given moment. I guess we're just lucky that it didn't burn us all completely when it finally blew up.

So I guess I just need to accept the way things are. I can't risk losing Brooke again, because she's still my best friend, I think she always will be. And it will have to be enough. It reminds me of Casablanca again. The strength it took for Rick to let Ilsa go, I need to find that same strength somewhere.

I'm just not sure where to look………..


God, I should have just been honest with her that day. I desperately wanted her to remind me of our annual V-day plans, there was never a part of me that had forgotten. But I thought it would look downright odd if I ditched my boyfriend to spend the most romantic day of the year with my best friend instead. Felix was already incredibly jealous of Peyton on a regular basis, but I honestly didn't care. In retrospect I should have worried more about it, he could have just as easily done something to Peyton herself instead of just her locker.

But that day, standing there at her locker, my mouth just ran away with me. I think there was a part of me, even then, that was testing her. Seeing if she would remember our pact. Maybe even to see if she would be jealous. I should have known that Peyton would just internalize everything and not say a word.

I never did go down to Hilton Head with Felix. I faked some kind of massive flu bug that sprung up on me in eighth period to get out of his elaborate plans to get laid. I spent the night holed up in my bedroom with a pint of Ben and Jerry's watching Casablanca. Without Peyton. I never did tell her that I bailed on my boyfriend. That following Monday she had met me in the parking lot, fake smile firmly slammed into place, wondering just how many kinky things I had gotten up to over the long weekend. I just gave her an enigmatic smile, shrugged my shoulders, and headed into the building.

And she didn't push. I know why now.

We need to stop playing these games with each other. It's breaking both our hearts. Thankfully it seems that tonight might finally be a step in the right direction for once.

Sitting up I glance at the bedside clock, quickly calculating in my head how much time I have before Peyton arrives in LA. I'm not sure if the plans I've made go over board a bit. It's not like we've been in a relationship forever and it's some kind of anniversary. I might scare her all the way back to Tree Hill if I come on too strong. It amazes me that I'm this unsure and nervous. I've been the queen of dating since I hit high school, I've probably been on a hundred dates, kissed dozens of boys, and not once have I experienced butterflies like I am now. It's a surprisingly refreshing feeling actually. In some ways it makes all of this that much more worth it.

And Peyton is worth it, worth anything really. So I decide that it's a risk I'm willing to take. If she freaks out, then maybe we're not ready for this step just yet. And if she doesn't, well, then she'll know how far I'm going to go to make sure she knows just how I feel.

The plane ride was unfortunately, uneventful. Six hours of total peace and quiet. Which meant I had nothing to do but sit in the tiny cramped coach seat and worry. The closer I got to LA the more freaked out I became. I have faith in Brooke, I do. It's me that I'm worried about. I'm bad at relationships, my track record proves that. I don't want to close myself off. And this 'thing', whatever it is with Brooke, is something I really don't want to screw up.

"Ladies and gentlemen, please put your seats in their upright position and secure your trays. We're ready to make our final descent into Los Angeles International." The overly cheery flight attendant's voice rang throughout the cabin. The plane bounced a bit, fighting through the smog filled turbulence of the California sky.

Oh I really hate flying.

Ten minutes and two near panic attacks later, we're safely taxiing towards the gate. With one final shudder, the plane comes to a complete stop and the seatbelt lights shut off. The captain's voice echoes over the intercom this time. "On behalf of Delta Airlines we'd like to thank for flying with us. The local time is 10:48 pm, and it's a balmy 78 degrees. Welcome to Los Angeles folks." And as soon as he finishes the mass exodus begins. At the rate these people are moving I'll be lucky to get into the terminal by midnight. Though this does give me time to figure out how I'm going to greet Brooke.

One of our usual 'best friend' hugs? That seems so……….casual now, considering everything that's happened between us in the last twenty four hours. A kiss is far too pushy though. Especially without talking to Brooke about everything first. I don't want to jump the gun before I'm sure it's even been loaded yet.

Twenty minutes later and I'm walking down the jet way, backpack slung over one shoulder, my little roller luggage dragging behind me. Everyone around me is in a frantic rush to get into the terminal, pushing roughly past me. In the space of five minutes I've lost count of how many times I've had to readjust the shoulder strap of my bag. I'm apparently getting my first taste of why they call LA LaLa Land.

Maybe I'm getting myself all worked up for no reason. Six hours doing nothing but thinking about this moment, worrying about it. And Brooke might not even be here. Of course I know that's utter bullshit, but it's really the only thing keeping me from running back towards the plane and begging them to take me back to Tree Hill.

"Well if it isn't Little Miss Slowpoke." I snap my gaze up from the badly carpeted jet way at the sound of Brooke's teasing voice. Her familiar playful smirk is firmly in place.

I try and come up with an excuse for my dawdling, already knowing that she'll see right through me. "I was practically sitting in the tail Brooke. You know that has a tendency to happen when one books their flight four hours before it's supposed to take off."

She rolls her eyes good-naturedly, totally seeing through my lie. "Whatever Peyton. The white knuckles kinda give you away." If I hadn't actually looked down at the hand with a death grip on the shoulder strap of my bag, I might have been a bit more believable. Then again, this IS Brooke. I swear the girl has a direct channel into my brain frequency or something. I really should find it un-nerving. Just like the all knowing smirk that hasn't fallen from Brooke's face since I stepped into the terminal. She's enjoying my discomfort, it's obvious. Which ironically enough actually puts me at ease. Maybe that was her plan. She CAN be a sneaky bitch when she wants to be.

"Well are you gonna hug me or just stand there making fun?" I smirk at her in return, satisfied when I see her cocky expression falter for a moment. After a few seconds of hesitancy, she walks into my open arms, molding her body to mine without even consciously doing it I think. I bury my nose in her thick chestnut hair, inhaling the sweet scent of cherries and vanilla. The familiarity of it all relaxes me completely. The world around us seems to slow from the frantic LA pace, which is a welcome relief.

Brooke giggles a bit, going to pull away. But I'm not having it, at least not yet. Which only serves to make her laugh even more. That throaty, adorably playful laugh that is just SO Brooke. "Ok, from slowpoke to sappy in less than five minutes. Where's my Peyton and where have you stashed her?" The nervous butterflies still occupying my stomach give a little twitch when she calls me 'hers'. It's not like it's that rare of a thing. But she's right, I'm getting all sappy.


I refuse to be one of those dopey 'so-in-love-and-the-stupid-expression-on-my-face-totally-gives-me-away' people. Haley is like that. And I love the girl dearly, but I REALLY don't want to resemble what she constantly looked like when she was first dating Nathan.

Wait, does that mean I've already jumped ahead to actually dating Brooke?

I try to come up with yet another excuse for my clinginess, but I can't even manage a stutter before Brooke cuts me off with a gentle fingertip to my lips.

Oh there are those lovely butterflies again. This is getting ridiculous.

"Peyton, I get it." She leans in closer to me, bringing my palm down to rest above her left breast. "Trust me, I totally get it." I can feel her heart beating a heavy cadence against my hand. I guess she DOES get it. Butterflies or a pounding heartbeat, pretty much the same really.

She pulls my hand away from its incredibly comfortable resting place to lead me away from the now deserted gate. I have no idea how long we must have been standing there. Kinda reminds me of U2. Stuck in a moment and all that. I shake my head to toss the thought away before I end up humming the song all the way to the car.

It's unreal how huge this airport is. The New Brunswick one is smaller than even one of the terminals here. My hand must have been going a little slack along with my jaw because I can feel Brooke tighten her grip on me. "Come on PS, we're almost there." Where 'there' is I can only imagine. How many parking garages must this place need?

Apparently that's not going to be an issue though, if the tuxedoed older man holding the huge neon poster board with 'Sawyer-Davis', written in big bold lettering, is any indication. "Brooke, what did you do?"

"Oh come on Peyton, did you really expect anything less?" She teases, one eyebrow raising playfully. What did I expect? Really, not a limo. I've known her all these years, it feels like my whole life really. And she can still completely surprise me. "Besides, I haven't exactly gotten the chance to rent a car yet. I've been a little pre-occupied." She winks and then continues. "I figured we could go pick one out tomorrow."

The older gentleman steps forward towards us, obviously recognizing Brooke. He tips his hat to her, bowing slightly. Wow, where did she find this guy? "Miss Davis." He turns his gaze towards me, repeating his greeting. "And you must be Miss Sawyer." Why do I feel the sudden need to curtsey or something? He turns back to Brooke for a second, winks, and then reaches forward to grab my bags. "Is this everything?" Or are we waiting on the baggage claim?"

"That better NOT be the only thing you brought Peyton!" Brooke shrieks, taking a look at the backpack still attached to my shoulder and the roller tote at my feet. I nod in the negative, already starting to break away and head to where I assume the baggage claim area is.

"No, Miss Sawyer, you and Miss Davis head on outside. The limousine is waiting at the curb and the AC is on full blast. It was quite a scorcher today. I'll grab your bags for you." Brooke's hand has found its way to my forearm, already tugging me along again to the spinning glass doors that lead outside. She doesn't even give me a chance to tell the man what my luggage looks like. Though, knowing Brooke, he probably has it memorized.

Five minutes later and we're waiting at the curb, popped up against the side of the limo. "He will have an extra set of keys, right Brooke?" Sure, the Town Car may have been nice and cool on the inside. But we wouldn't know since we're apparently locked out.

"Would you relax Peyton."

An awkward silence fills the moments after her slightly exasperated plea. It's uncomfortable. And I've never ONCE felt that way in her presence.

"Oh for God's sake." I don't know how much time has passed between us, the tension hanging over like summer storm clouds. But apparently Brooke dislikes it just as much as I do.

Before I'm even half aware of it, she's standing directly in front of me, stepping into my body so that I have no choice but to be pressed up against the dark tinted window pane of the car. "Come here." Her breathy whisper ghosts over my lips, the smell of her cinnamon gum filling my senses. She presses closer, her hand coming up to tangle in my unruly blonde curls. My eyes widen, understanding dawns as I realize what she's about to do. Anticipation fills my body, sending those little tingling butterflies racing up from my stomach ,burning their way through my entire body.

The first touch of her lips to mine is agonizingly slow. Just a feather's brush of soft skin, teasing against my own. My hands come up from where they had been limply resting at my side to cup the back of Brooke's neck, demanding more contact. She silently assents my request, pressing even closer if that were possible, and finally slamming our lips together forcefully. I can't help but moan a bit at the contact. I don't think I've ever felt anything so amazing, so fulfilling, in my whole life.

Not with Jake.

Not with Nathan.

And surprisingly, not even with Lucas.

I don't have much time to contemplate that thought though because the surprising sensation of Brooke's wet tongue lapping at my upper lip is enough to send any type of thought, coherent or otherwise, flying completely out the window.

Yep, that's definitely ME moaning.

"Mmmm, so how did you manage to convince your flight attendant you were 21?" Brooke mumbles between kisses. I had one tiny little bottle of vodka, how in the world can she taste that? And it was just to help calm my nerves. Hell, I needed something.

I decide to tease her a bit though. "Well, apparently there's this thing called the Mile High Club. Ever hear of it?" I lean down to nibble a bit at the incredibly inviting expanse of skin that is Brooke's neck.


I make my way up to her earlobe, pulling the tip between my lips and gently sucking for a moment before continuing. "The girl was all too willing to show me how people are initiated. The vodka was my party favor."

Brooke barely lets me finish before she closes the small gap that had opened between us so I could see her eyes widen at my little lie. She reattaches herself to my lips, immediately seeking out my tongue with her own. Ok, not the reaction I was expecting. But hey, totally works for me! Sometimes I really do love Aggressive!Brooke.

"Peyton………baby…….the only…….time…….you'll know……….what the……..mmmmm…….Mile High Club is………will be when we fly back home." Brooke manages to get out in between repeated nibbles to my bottom lip

"Hmm, something to look forward to then?"

"You bet your ass." She's moved from my lips to the side of my neck, nipping her way down from my earlobe to my clavicle. God, I wonder how long we could have been doing this if I had just said something to her years ago.

"Well it would appear you girls enjoy the heat more." I go to jump away from Brooke at the sound of the chauffeur's voice, but she's apparently not ready to let go just yet.

She lazily turns her gaze to the older man, keeping a firm grip around my waist, her entire body still pressed into me. "Trust me Tom, scorching." She shamelessly starts to trail her hand towards my ass, determined to give the poor man a show. "You apparently left the doors locked."

His face turns almost ashen, the smile disappearing immediately. "Oh my god Miss Davis, I'm SO sorry. I don't know how I could have done that." He jams his fingers into his pockets, furiously searching around for what I assume is another set of keys. Relief floods his face as he pulls out the small metallic ring, almost stumbling over himself to unlock the door and hold it open for us. "Please, my deepest apologies."

Brooke pulls me away from where we had been pressed up against the car and guides me towards the welcome cool relief of the air conditioned interior. "Tom, would you stop. It was an accident, it happens. Besides, I'm certainly not going to be complaining any time soon." She winks at him, her hand reaching out to playfully smack my hip as I'm climbing into the expansive back seat of the limo. As the chauffeur is disappearing out of view, I can see the beginnings of a fevered blush spread across his cheeks, Brooke's insinuations registering with him.

She talks with him for a few more moments, hushed though, so much so that I don't have a clue what she's saying to him. Knowing Brooke though, she's got something else up her sleeve. While she talks to the older man, I glance around the inside of the car. Leather upholstery of course, with a nice sized wet bar in front, underneath the divider. As Brooke finally gets in beside me and shuts the door, my gaze lands on the bouquet of red tipped yellow roses carefully arranged in a vase attached to the door opposite us. "Brooke….." I trail off, one of those hated dopey expressions passing over my face, I can just feel it.

Brooke snuggles into me, pulling us back into the comfortable expanse of the seat. "Took you long enough to find those Goldilocks." She pulls herself closer, draping a tanned leg over my own and looping her arm into mine, finally cradling her head into the crook of my shoulder. It's really amazing how easily we fit together.

I look back over to the oversized bundle of roses, trying to remember what the color means. Though I doubt Brooke even gave that any thought. "Friends falling in love." She murmurs against my throat, where she's started to place light kisses along the underside of my jaw. She really is full of surprises tonight. She pulls away to meet my gaze, eliciting a moan from the back of my throat in disappointment. I really could get used to this affectionate side of her.

I lean in to place a quick kiss against her soft lips, pulling back before I can get sucked in again. "Who knew you were so romantic?" Really, I've never seen Brooke like this, she's always the one getting wined and dined, being romanced. It's a very surreal moment, realizing that she's done this for me, for us.

"Apparently I have all kinds of layers." She winks, her lips curling into a playful smile for a moment before her eyes turn serious. She trails her palm up, tucking a strand of errant blonde hair behind my ear before coming back to gently stroke my cheek with her fingertips. "I did do my research." I raise my eyebrow at that, I don't think she has any idea what Google even means. "Ok, so I asked the florist what I should get for my girlfriend who's also my best friend."

Girlfriend? Not that I'm complaining, not at all. But wow, apparently Brooke's already made the 'we're dating' leap. That releases whatever tension her kisses hadn't chased away in my body. I tug a bit on her shirt, dragging her almost completely into my lap, so that I can reclaim those gorgeous lips of hers. A surprised squeak slips past before we're once again tasting each other.

"Miss Davis, we're here." Mr. Chauffeur Guy has really bad timing. Although I hadn't even realized we had been moving. I wonder how long I was caught up in the incredible sensations Brooke's lips spark in me.

Brooke pulls away reluctantly, taking one last nibble at my bottom lip before extracting herself from my hold and sliding towards the door. "Come on Peyton, your surprise awaits." Ok, I had assumed we were just going back to her parents place. I can't even begin to wonder what she's been plotting. Though I'm thankful for small favors when she doesn't try to blindfold me.

Tom opens the door to the limo and I'm assaulted with the sound of peals of laughter floating past my ears. My eyes take a moment to adjust to the bright neon lights, a stark contrast from the relative darkness of the limo interior.

"The Santa Monica Pier." Brooke explains. I've heard of this place, in movies and on tv mostly. It looks so much bigger in person, larger than life really. I think my jaw has gone a little slack as I glance around, taking it all in. My gaze sweeps back towards Brooke, determined to show her the delighted smile when I take notice of the massive ferris wheel occupying the entire end of the boardwalk. Brooke must see the surprised expression crossing my face, because she laces our fingers together, pulling me away from the car to head towards the giant, brightly lit wheel.

"You didn't think I remembered, did you?" I'm afraid that my slight shock is going to upset her, but her tone is light and playful. "Trust me Peyton, I could never forget that day."

'That day' was back during the summer in between seventh and eighth grade. My father was on a job off the coast of Myrtle Beach and he came back up over the weekend to pick Brooke and me up to the spend the week down there with him. It's always been nice, knowing my father makes such an effort to include Brooke as a part of our family. I don't think we've ever been on vacation without her. At least not since my mother died. I remember the entire car ride down the coast, Brooke was plotting out the whole damn trip. I hadn't remembered her voice ever being quite that enthusiastic before. Of course she didn't really have much of a plan.

Beach. Boy gazing. More beach. Boy gazing ON the beach.

And she wanted to eat dinner at the Hard Rock Café sometime that week too. Go figure. But that had pretty much been the extent of it. By the time we actually had gotten to my father's company rented apartment, Brooke was almost bouncing out of her seat. I remember finding her behavior completely baffling, she was acting like she had never been to the beach, never seen the ocean.

We live on the coast.

I still to this day haven't quite figured it out. So goes the lovable enigma that is my best friend.

"You were so terrified." Brooke chuckles, glancing back to the towering ferris wheel she's leading us towards.

Well yeah! I was scared to death of heights up until, well, still. And Brooke got it into her head that the best way to christen our vacation was to drag me onto the tallest possible thing on the whole damn shoreline. I literally had sunken myself down into the sand once she had told me her plans. I was determined to have no parts of it. But Brooke plopped down beside me, pouted furiously, while giving me some sob story about her parents never letting her go on the ferris wheel when she was a kid. I knew she was full of shit, even back then, I knew her better than anyone else. And things really haven't changed all that much. I'm still as bendable to Brooke's iron will as I was years ago.

"You knew I was before I even stepped foot into the chair!" She was determined to make me ride the blasted thing. So after laying on the patented Brooke Davis pout for a good ten minutes, I hesitantly got on, what looked to me, like a giant wheel of death. To her credit she never once let go of my hand.

"Well I never expected it to get stuck!" Brooke blushes faintly, the carnival lights reflecting off the water and back onto her face making her already beautiful skin glow ethereally.

No, I'm sure she didn't expect that. Otherwise I doubt she would have gone to such lengths to sucker me into getting on board in the first place. Brooke smirks a little as we finally merge our way into the fairly long line. "But aren't you glad it did now?"

"Who knew the lengths you'd go to get me to shut up." It's my turn to smirk now.

"Not shut you up P Sawyer. Calm you down. Two very different things." She smiles devilishly, pulling our interlocked hands to rest draped over her shoulder.

"You really thought that was the best way to calm me down." I ask her incredulously.

"Well it did shut you up." She's moved to stand behind me, her lips dangerously close to my ear.

"I thought that wasn't the point?" I fire back, completely enjoying the playful, affectionate side of her.

"I didn't hear you complaining."

"It was kinda hard to get much out past your tongue shoved down my throat." She's right, I really didn't mind her methods of relaxation. But at the time I certainly wasn't going to mention how it enjoyable it really had been. Not to my incredibly boy crazy best friend. We were thirteen. SO not the best age to lay something like THAT out there.

"You were scared. I wanted to comfort you." Brooke's tone doesn't even try to hide the sarcasm dripping in every syllable.

No shit I was scared. Two minutes into the ride that had taken a half hour to just get on in the first place, it suddenly stopped. With our chair at the very peak. The waiting had done nothing to calm my nerves, so when we were jerked forward in our seats so abruptly, I might have slightly panicked.


"Peyton, would you please chill out! They're probably just letting someone off." Brooke tried to not let the irritation she was starting to feel towards her best friend's antics bleed through to her voice. She loved Peyton dearly, but sometimes she could be SUCH a baby.

"Brooke, it does NOT take THIS long to get off this damn death wheel!" Peyton was far beyond the point of panic, hysteria was starting to set in.

"Sweetie, please just try to relax, it's fine. I'm sure we'll be moving soon." Brooke tried to reassure her friend, starting to wonder herself now just what the hold up was.

"Oh my god!" Peyton all but jumped into Brooke's lap as the ocean breeze picked up, sending the small two seater chair they were sitting in, swaying along with it.

"Peyton please!"

"Don't you dare tell me to calm down again! We're going to plummet to our………" The blonde's ramble was cut off by the press of Brooke's surprisingly gentle kiss. She sat in stunned silence, not even aware if she was reciprocating. She WAS aware however of the sensation of a moist tongue sliding its way into her mouth, swallowing up whatever babble fit she'd been in the middle of.

They continued, delicate kisses shared between them, for uncounted moments. Until the sound of a throat clearing brought them out of their panic induced haze "Sorry girls, one of the gears got stuck. We had to get our mechanic out here to grease her down." The operator smiled sheepishly, opening up the gate to let them out. They blushed furiously, making sure to not touch each other as they walked along the boardwalk. The awkward silence settled over them almost immediately.

Finally Peyton couldn't stand it any longer. "Ok, what the hell was that Brooke?"

The brunette plastered on her best flirtatious smile. "That guy was pretty cute."

Peyton wanted to press her, wanted to shake her until she got the real truth from her. But she knew she'd only get some runaround half answer. So she dropped it, not wanting to provoke a fight and push Brooke away when they were supposed to be having the time of their lives.

*End Flashback*

"And we never did talk about it. You realize that?" It's been something that stayed with me all these years. I wondered if she ever knew she was my first kiss.

"I didn't want to talk about something I didn't even understand myself." Brooke whispers into my neck, the feeling of her breath ghosting over my skin making my entire body tingle. "That's why I brought you here. Because I get it now. That was the beginning, that was our beginning. And it wasn't until I read your journal that I understood that."

I turn around in her arms, confusion wrinkling my forehead. "I don't remember writing about Myrtle Beach in that."

She kisses me on the cheek, smiling indulgently. "You didn't. I go back and I wonder why I did it. You and I both know I didn't have to do THAT." Brooke's smile turns flirtatious again before just as quickly her look sobers. "The thing is though, I wanted to. I remember just looking at you and wanting to kiss you. It was the most natural feeling. Still is." She leans in, capturing my bottom lips with both of hers. A delicate kiss, nothing like the heat that had been racing between us earlier at the airport. But incredibly sweet, Swiss truffles bathed in strawberries kind of sweet. "Of course after I did it I was scared to death."

I nod my head in understanding. "Hence the shutdown."

Brooke blushes a little, a small sheepish smile curling her lips. "You know me better than anyone Peyton. I've always been sure you understood. And by the way, I love you for not pushing me about it."

"You said it Brooke, I knew you were freaking out." I tease a bit, sticking my tongue out in her direction.

"So, did I rock your world baby?" She snuggles into me as wait in the slowly moving line. Her lips teasing a trail up my jaw line. I can feel the stares of some of the people around us, but I'm too preoccupied with the sensation of Brooke's touch to care in the least bit.

"Then or now? Cause right now you're doing a pretty damn good job." I'm fighting so hard to suppress the moan building in my throat.

It's like she's trying to rip the increasingly lust filled exhalation from my lips. Because after she pulls away for a brief moment to giggle at my frustration, she returns to my neck. This time flattening her tongue against the already over-sensitized skin, dragging a trail of liquid fire from my collarbone to the base of my earlobe. I can feel my eyes starting to roll into the back of my head, ecstasy beginning to take full control of all my basic motor functions.

"Pretty damn memorable first kiss I'd say." Brooke sounds infinitely proud of herself. The protest forming on my lips at the sudden lack of contact between us is swallowed up as the surprise of her comment sinks in.

OK, how the hell did she know?

Brooke must see the stupefied expression flitting across my face, because she rolls her eyes good naturedly before explaining. "Come on Peyton. I'm your best friend. I would have known if there had been someone else before me."

It's my turn to blush. I'm so busted.

"Aww, isn't that cute!" Brooke is enjoying this far too much. She comes around from behind me, reaching up to soothe my enflamed cheeks. "Peyton, of course I knew. And I was honored. I only wish you had been my first too." That's really not helping to chase the blush away. Brooke creeps in closer, pulling our bodies as tight together as our standing position will allow. "I wish you had been my first everything." She must have read that part of my journal. I can feel the heat racing up through my chest to stain my cheeks a dark crimson now. Brooke's sentiment, it's just………wow. Of course if I HAD been her first kiss, we would have been six.

"How many?" We've finally arrived at the front of the line. Brooke shoots the operator her classic 'duh' look. We're standing here, wrapped around one another, and he has to ask how many?

Brooke's mouth opens to bite out some sarcastic retort, but I pull her along towards the waiting chair, taking pity on the poor, not incredibly swift, operator. "Just let it go sweetie."

The fight drains out of her, letting me drag her down into the seat and snuggling us together as close as we can in the cramped compartment. It's for my calm as much as anything really. I still hate heights.

As we reach the peak of the ride, coming to a stop to let other riders on, Brooke tucks her head into my shoulder, nuzzling against my neck. "Why did we wait so long Peyton?" Her voice sounds sadly wistful.

I chuckle a little to try and lift the rapidly declining mood suddenly hanging over us. "We're only eighteen Brooke." My tone is light, but I understand how she's feeling. I keep thinking, if only I had said something. Even a year ago. All that time that we can never get back.

"But Peyton, this feels………perfect." I think I can actually hear her pouting.

I lean down to nuzzle my nose into the mane of chestnut silky hair splayed across my shoulder. "It does. So that just means we have to figure out a way to make up for lost time." And if anyone can do that, it's certainly Brooke Davis. She was born with the dominant seduction gene.

I've run out of ideas. I mean, I've completely slammed up against a concrete wall. Peyton seems to have been impressed with the ferris wheel idea, but that's like, the extent of my plotting. So we're wandering along the boardwalk, sharing a cone of sticky cotton candy, and I'm completely clueless as to what comes next. I know what I want to do. But something tells me dragging Peyton off to the car and speeding home to hit the silk sheets I made sure to put on my bed before I left isn't the best way to start this relationship.

"Stop." Peyton's gentle voice drifts across the narrow space between us.

"What?" I glance over at her, perplexed.

"Just stop. Whatever it is that you're worrying about, don't." I pull her hand, yanking her the short distance to the side of the pier to look out over the murky dark water. The waves are pretty tumultuous tonight, they kind of mirror the mess that's going on inside of my head at the moment.

Peyton releases our joined hands, instead reaching to wrap the length of her arms around my waist, cuddling into me from behind. I interlock our fingers together at my belt buckle, leaning back into the embrace. "I don't know what to do Peyton."

She laughs softly, her breath ghosting over my earlobe, sending a shiver of pleasure down my spine. "It's not something we need to plan out Brooke. Besides, I thought you were the more experienced one." She meant it as a joke, to tease. But that's where my whole issue is.

I turn around in her arms, making sure she sees the seriousness in my eyes. "Peyton, that's the problem. I don't want to be *that* Brooke with you. This is different. We're different." I don't know how to make her understand, because a part of me doesn't even get it myself. Sex has always been a means to an end for me. A carnal, basic human need that I hate having to do myself. 'Brooking' can be fun, I learned that in my early teens. But when boys will do anything to have a piece of you, the power in it is all that much more intoxicating. But over the years, the satisfaction of a boy used, a jock brought down a peg, it wore off. Sex without love is something that I'm done with, I want it to be a part of my past. And Peyton is my future.

"Baby, would you please stop." Peyton presses in closer to me, backing us up against the wooden railing of the pier. The way she calls me baby is more of a thrill than most of those boys combined. "*That* Brooke is also the one who came over to my house everyday for two months after my mother died, just to make sure I wasn't sitting holed up, depressed in my room. *That* Brooke is who made me freeze my ass off in that freaking snow fort when we were in sixth grade. *That* Brooke is the one that got grounded for a month for stealing your dad's credit card. Just so you could take me to the Spice Girls concert for my 10th birthday." Peyton pulls me into a soft kiss, cupping my face in her palm once we separate. "You're the Brooke I fell in love with. I don't want you to change, because everything you've done, it's all part of who you are now. And I want *that* Brooke exactly the way she is."

She said it. She actually said it. It's one thing to read it, to get an inkling from words written over the course of a few years. But she laid it all out there now. Wow. I pull away the tiniest bit, lowering my head to look back out at the ocean. It's not like I don't love her back, so I have no idea why I can't seem to form any kind of response.

Peyton brushes up beside me, our elbows resting together. I can feel the chill that's suddenly between us down to the last bone in my body. "Too soon?" She asks quietly, the hurt lacing her voice not hidden very well.

I wince, knowing I caused that. Shaking my head in the negative, I move closer to slip my arm through hers, resting against her shoulder. "No, it's not that."

Peyton rests her head atop mine, the blonde of her curls dancing together with my own chestnut locks. Light and dark. That seems to describe us perfectly. My own dark and colorful past, with the relative innocence of hers. I've never said I love you to someone. Not when I've meant it. And for someone who never holds their punches, I can't seem to form the words. For the first time in my life, I'm speechless. And the longer I stay silent, the more I'm hurting the one person in the world I would never want to.

"Then what is it?" She probably knows full well. But Peyton's like that. She has to make you own up to your hang-ups. Because she knows that if she makes it easy for you, you'll still have your issues, you'll just manage to skirt around them for one more day. It's something I love and hate about her all at the same time.

But this is something I shouldn't be scared of, it's the last thing in the world I should be worrying about. The cliff is high, and the drop is endless. But it's Peyton. I don't have to worry about falling into some bottomless chasm. She'd never let me even get near the edge. She holds this power over me, and yet, I think we share that. It makes us the perfect balance for one another. And I really need to start trusting that. Since it's always been there, from the very beginning.

"Come on." I grab her hand, pulling her along back towards the waiting limo. I've made up my mind to just listen to my heart for once. Not my hormones, not my sometimes lacking instinct. Just my heart.


I don't bother to try and answer her, just continue weaving us though the thinning crowd on the pier. Once we break free from the masses, I pull her closer, grabbing her around the waist, comforted by the weight of her arm slung around my shoulder in reciprocation.

We're quiet the entire ride back to my parents' beach house, Peyton snuggled down into my arms, her head pressed tightly into the crook of my neck. The warmth of her body is intoxicating, making me wish Tom would just risk the damn speeding ticket to get us home faster.

Twenty minutes later and repeated self reminders to not let my hands wander, and Tom is opening up the back door, tipping his hat in that old fashioned way, pulling an amused smile from my lips. "Here we go ladies."

Peyton stirs, tightening her hold on me for a moment before extricating our entangled limbs to get out of the car. "Thanks Tom. For everything." I wink, handing a spare set of keys to him along with a hundred dollar bill. His eyes widen when he feels the metal folded in with the money. Ok, so I can be a little devious. I figured it wouldn't hurt getting Peyton all sweaty and agitated. Score one for plan Brooke. Poor Tom though, he really got upset thinking he had locked the keys in the car. Oh well, the big ass tip should help.

The shock slowly turns to a mischievous smile. "Good night girls." He nods once more before climbing back into the drivers seat.

"Wait till you see this place Peyton!" I unlock the front door, swinging it open so that the entire foyer comes into view.

Peyton laughs, her voice husky with sleep. Or at least I THINK that's what it is. "Give me the grand tour tomorrow Brooke." She starts heading towards the stairs, grabbing her duffel bag in the process. "Where am I sleeping?"

Does she really think I'm going to make her stay in a guest room? I lace our fingers together for the umpteenth time tonight, ushering her towards my bedroom. "With me of course." My cheeks redden when I realize how that came out. But Peyton doesn't seem to notice, she just squeezes my hand in reassurance, following along behind me down the long, carpeted hallway.

After getting dressed for bed, separately to my secret disappointment, we crawled in on opposite sides, laying flat on our backs. Now half an hour later and I'm no closer to falling asleep. And I can tell Peyton is still awake, her breathing hasn't evened out and I can literally feel her muscles tensing beside me, afraid to move. I realize after the incident on the pier, I need to make a first move now. Peyton slammed the ball into my court and I just stood there like an idiot.

"Peyton?" I glance over at her moonlit shadow

"Yeah?" She turns her head towards me, the light pouring in from the window reflecting off her hazel eyes.

"Can I hold you?" I whisper, reaching over to sweep away a stray curl cascading over her forehead.

A smile twitches at her lips before she scoots in closer, pillowing her head against my chest and draping a long tanned forearm around my stomach. I tuck my hand around her shoulders, trailing my fingertips up and down her upper arm, exposed by the tiny white wife beater she wore to bed. I can feel her skin prickle under my touch, goosebumps spreading along the length of her elbow down to her wrist. I can't suppress the amused chuckle from billowing up from my chest. I lean in, pressing a kiss to her forehead, tightening my hold on her in the process.

"You're comfy." Peyton mumbles into my shirt. The feel of her lips moving against the thin fabric of my t-shirt is all kinds of distracting.

"Glad you think so." Her fingers have started to tease across my stomach, dipping under the hem of my shirt every once in a while to ghost across the tense muscles underneath.

"Mmmhmm" Ok, she knows exactly what she's doing. She can't NOT know.


"Mmm?" Again with the mumbling.

"You keep doing that and things are going to get far less comfy." I playfully warn her.

"Or even more so." She teases, all traces of sleep gone from her voice now.

I pull away a bit, not sure if I'm understanding her right. The lust cloud taking up a good portion of the gray matter between my ears had to have misinterpreted her. Right?

"Peyton, do you really think this is the best idea?" I manage to squeak out, her hand traveling farther northward making any kind of non-naughty thought pretty much impossible at this point.

She stops her wayward hand for a moment, the heat from her touch searing through my body. "Brooke, what are you so worried about?" A devilish smile crosses her face, accentuated by the moonlight pouring in through the window. "Besides, it's not like we've never done this before." She lowers herself down to my neck, kissing a trail of fire along my jaw line. The protest forming on my lips almost dies from the incredible sensations her tongue is sending racing through my veins.


"WE actually haven't done THIS." My hands grope around in the darkness, trying to still her increasingly desperate touch. "And I don't think we should. Not yet." The groan my denial produces reverberates up through her chest, coming out as nothing more than a growl of disappointment.

"Brooke………..why?" My my. Peyton sounds so very much like a horny teenager just denied by his first girlfriend. Heh, I guess technically that IS true.

I reach up, trying to soothe away the disappointment with a gentle kiss to pouting lips. "Every time I've rushed into something, it's ended badly."

Peyton's frown doesn't disappear. "What makes you think we'll end at all?"

My surprise has to be written plainly across my face. Who knew Peyton could be such a romantic? I try to think practical though. "We're 18."

She flinches and I'm immediately contrite. I'm not trying to doom us before we even get off the ground. Just the opposite actually. I obviously have a horrible way of proving it though. "So what's the point of waiting if you think we'll never last anyway?" She doesn't even try to disguise the anger lacing every syllable.

"That's not what I meant……." I trail off as she starts to shift away from me, throwing the covers off and moving to get dressed.

"I think that's exactly what you meant." As she's grasping around for her jeans I quickly move up behind her crouched form, wrapping myself around her lithe body, clutching tightly to her waist.

"I love you." I breath into her ear, not more than a whisper, relieved when I feel Peyton relax into my embrace.

"But why then?" She wraps her own arms around mine still interlocked at her stomach, leaning back into me.

"That's exactly why. I love you Peyton, and I've never loved anyone, not like this. Not like you. Sex is always what happens first. I don't want us to be that way. I want it to be a natural progression, not the first step." I kiss her neck, right below a delicate earlobe, accentuating my point. "We do have all the time in the world after all."

"I must already be totally whipped. Either that or I've known you too long, because all of that actually made sense to me." Peyton laughs gently, turning her head towards me so I can nuzzle my nose into her blonde locks.

"Are you sure? Because I don't want you to think it's because I don't want to." My hands start to stray from their position on her waist, trailing up along her sides, my fingertips just ghosting over heated flesh.

Peyton's breath hitches, but she doesn't stop me. "Oh I get it. Trust me. I'm just wondering where all this newfound self control of yours is coming from."

I honestly don't have any clue myself. Though it IS getting harder to not just yank her shirt right over head. Great, now I sound like the horny sex crazed teenager. The feel of Peyton's soft skin underneath my fingers is doing all kinds of terrible things to my willpower. Maybe she's right, waiting isn't really the best idea. "Whoa there handsy!" Peyton grabs my wandering hands as they find purchase on the hem of her t-shirt. "You said you wanted to wait, so that's we're gonna do."

"But Peyton………" Great, now I'm whining too. I guess I completely underestimated the power she has over me. Either that or I have multiple personalities. MatureResponsible!Brooke and WantsToJumpHerBestFriend'sBones! Brooke. Though the feel of Peyton's skin seems to be doing exactly the same thing to both of them. What was I thinking when I stopped her?

Peyton moves to lay us back down, turning her back to me and wrapping my arms around her stomach, locking our digits together. "Just hold me tonight. Besides, we can't exactly have sex after we just talked about it for twenty minutes." P Sawyer does have a point. She chuckles a bit before settling back into me, burrowing her head into the crook between my arm and shoulder. We lay there like that for a good long while, snuggled together, the sexual tension still easily felt between us. I can feel her fingertips playing with the small ring on my right index finger. "I'm surprised you still wear this."

I pull my hand away a bit, just to seek out the matching silver band on her own finger. "You still do too."

Peyton once again interlaces our fingers together, bringing our joined hands up to rest against her chest. "Does that surprise you?"

I smirk, unseen to her. "Well you seem shocked I still wear mine."

She snuggles in tighter against me. "Maybe just a little. I bought them five years ago Brooke."

"So?" I'm failing to see her point.

"You've gone through how many guys since then? I just figured one of them would eventually ask you about it and you'd take it off." She can't hide the hint of bitterness seeping into her tone at the thought of so many years wasted.

"Lets see. Jason, Brian, Eric, Alex, Andrew. And Lucas."

"I really didn't need you to run off everyone you've dated in the last five years Brooke." Peyton groans into the skin of my upper arm.

I chuckle a bit. "No, those are the ones who've asked about it." Those were some interesting conversations, especially the one with Lucas. I think at the time of it he had actually still been hung up on Peyton. Don't blame him, poor guy. Heh, oh well.

She's quiet for a moment, letting that settle in. "So what did you tell them?"

"I told them that the most important woman in my life gave it to me. And that it was going to stay on that finger until the day I died." The look on Peyton's face is priceless. "Of course I think Lucas is probably the only one who knew I wasn't talking about my mother." Oh no, I think he knew exactly who's ring it was. It makes me wonder, even now, if he had any idea what was building between Peyton and I. He had given me a very strange look, glanced over towards the picture that was sitting on my nightstand of Peyton, and then back to me, looking very much like he had just swallowed a goldfish or something equally yucky. Oh yeah, he knew.

Peyton rolls her eyes at the mention of Lucas' name. "So that's why he was so curious about it." She glances down to our laced hands, her finger absently rubbing the ring on her own finger.

"He noticed yours too?" I question, already knowing the answer. That would explain the reaction he had to mine. He didn't even have to ask really. So why did he in the first place?

"Yeah, almost right away actually. I'm pretty sure he actually DID think it was my mother's." She chuckles a bit, the vibrations from her chest reverberating through her back and into my own body. God, I could stay like this for the rest of my life. "He knows."


Peyton's quiet for a moment, before she exhales uneasily. "He knows about us. Or at least about my feelings for you. He was kinda an ass about it, all cryptic."

Yep, that definitely sounds like Lucas. Then it occurs to me…. "I KNEW you'd been with him that night, I could just tell."

She snuggles deeper into my arms. "He does seem to leave a fingerprint, doesn't he?"

I tighten my grip, feeling the hesitancy easily in her tense muscles. "His fingers just better be staying far away from now on." I meant it to sound playful, but it ended up coming out more possessive than anything. I hope she doesn't freak out.

When Peyton's muscles relax a bit though, the worry starts to dissipate. "Works for me." The silence descends on us, not suffocating, but totally comfortable. I wait to feel Peyton's breathing even out before relaxing myself enough to drift off into Morpheus' arms with her, content like nothing I've ever felt before in my life.

The first thing my mind becomes aware of is the incredibly inviting sensation of a pair of deceptively strong arms wrapped securely around my waist. It feels like neither of us moved much during the night, considering this was pretty much the position we fell asleep in. Not that I'll be complaining any time soon. Last night was possibly the best sleep I've had since my mother passed away. I don't know what made it so different from all the other times Brooke and I have slept together.

Actually, that's not true. She's held me on a number of occasions, but never like this, not with the sense of possession radiating through her fingertips. Another thing I find I don't mind at all. In fact, just the opposite. For the first time in a very long while I feel like I truly belong somewhere.

It really shouldn't surprise me that it's with Brooke.

"I know you're awake." Her soft voice whispers into my ear, the heat from her breath sending a pleasant shudder through my relaxed body.

I roll over to face her, grateful that she doesn't relinquish her hold on me. "How'd you know?"

A soft smile graces her face, just a hint of her deep dimples peeking through. "I could hear you thinking. And knowing you P Sawyer, like I do, it more than likely had to do with us." Her smile falters a bit before she continues. "So, should I be worried?"

She looks so cute when she's nervous. Well, she looks cute all the time, but right now, she's positively adorable. Not giving her doubts a chance to fester, I reach up and plant a gentle kiss on her lips, trying to chase all the fears away in that small simple connection. Before either of us has a chance to get carried away, I pull back, amused to find Brooke's eyes still closed, a dreamy expression covering her gorgeous face.

"I'd say that's a no." I tease her.

She growls playfully before tightening her hold around my waist and leaning forward to recapture my mouth with hers. "It better be." I lose all track of time, it might have been minutes, maybe even an hour or more before we finally release our hold on one another. Both sets of our lips swollen and red.

I reach up to tuck a tangled strand of brunette hair behind Brooke's ear. "You weren't really worried were you?"

Brooke's serene smile turns bashful as she leans into my touch. "Maybe a little."

"Why, I would have thought the journal explained things pretty clearly." I'm baffled at Brooke's insecurity.

Her grip on me loosens as she rolls over onto her back to stare at the tiled ceiling. "Wanting me is one thing. But boys? After they've had me the allure wears off. Quick."

I shake my head, for someone so confident, Brooke's self esteem is apparently in the gutter. "I'm not just one of the guys you've dated. I'm your best friend." I reach up to gently tip her chin in my direction. "I know you inside and out. And I love the whole package. You need to believe that baby." And this?" I plant a quick but searing kiss on bruised lips. "It only makes me want you more."

"Mmmm, I think I might need some more convincing." Brooke's eyebrow darts up in playful challenge.

"I think I can be pretty persuasive when I want to be." My hands have roamed from her waist up along her ribcage, playing with the thin fabric of her tee-shirt.

"You know what would help your cause even more?" Brooke tries to suppress a moan, my tongue gently lapping at her pulse point is apparently a new favorite spot. Gonna have to file that one away for future reference.

"Hmm? What's that?" I mumble out, my lips too pre-occupied with the skin of her neck to form anything more coherent.

She doesn't respond right away, her fingernails digging harshly into the tender skin of my scalp. "Breakfast."

"What?" That was enough to stop me in my tracks, which were slowly leading southbound towards the exposed skin of her upper chest.

Brooke is already distangling herself from my wandering hands. "Pancakes? I think I saw an IHOP somewhere around here on the drive back from the airport."

I watch in stunned silence as she scurries around the bedroom, haphazardly grabbing a pair of jeans and yanking them on, before continuing the search for a matching top. "Brooke….." I trail off, not having any idea what just happened.

She stops in her tracks, quickly walking back over to the bed and kneeling down in front of me. "Baby, if we don't get out of this bedroom right now, that whole waiting thing is going to be null and void." She leans up to sear a kiss across my lips, sending a jolt of liquid fire burning straight through my veins. "I can't keep my hands off of you." Her eyes, burning with lust, gaze into my own. "I want to make love to you Peyton."

I sigh, leaning my forehead against hers, the need coursing through my own body like flood waters breaking through their levee. "Come back to bed Brooke."

"But Peyton….." Her resolve is weakening, I can hear it in the whispered protest that barely managed to leave her lips.

"Shhhh." I silence her with a fingertip to delicate pink skin, pulling her to her feet and back down onto the sheets with me. Once she's comfortably settled on top of me, her eyes shimmering in the early morning sun pouring through the window, I continue. "It's not going to ruin us. We're stronger than that. You have to believe that. Believe in us baby. You have to breakaway from all those bad memories. We're going to make a lifetime of new ones."

After a moment of debate, she relaxes into my arms, her mouth connecting with mine once again. Our tongues meet naturally, a gentle duel, not for dominance, but just for the connection that feels so inherently intimate. Brooke pulls back after a few moments, her hand coming up to trail through my unruly golden locks. "I love you Peyton."

I smile at that, leaning into her touch even more. "That's all that really matters, isn't it?" It may be a naïve notion, but after everything that Brooke and I have been through, the one thing that's gotten us to where we are right now is the fact that we love each other. It's morphed and evolved, but it's always been there, it's always been the anchor of our relationship. And nothing will ever change that, especially not this.

An ethereal smile spreads across her porcelain cheeks. "It really is just that simple, isn't it?"

And finally I think she gets it. I nod my head in affirmation, before reaching around and pulling her back down towards me, teasing the hair at the nape of her neck in the process. "So you were saying something about pancakes?"

Brooke stops her journey towards my pulse point for the briefest of seconds to smirk at me. "Shut up Peyton."

"Yes ma'am!" The feel of her tongue flattened against my throat as her delicate hands lift the hem of my tee-shirt up and over my breasts steals all other witty retorts from forming on my lips.

Yep, I'm SO her bitch.

The End

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