Disclaimer: I don't own OTH or the characters.

Chapter Seventeen

Last Promise

An hour later, the reception was extremely crowded and Lucas and Crystal were dancing up a storm. They had danced all the formal dances first, and were now just celebrating their marriage. They mainly stayed secluded from everyone else, and just held each other. Brooke loved it; she thought it was so sweet. Brooke and Nathan were also dancing. That was one thing they excelled at; they had since high school. Whether it was fast or slow, they knew how to dance. Brooke secretly enjoyed the slower numbers, because she loved the feeling with Nathan's arms wrapped around. She felt loved, safe, and so many more things. She smiled to herself as she tightened her grip.

Soon, the cake was cut and the reception slowed down. Brooke was getting hot, so she went to the bathroom to clean herself up a little. She was reapplying her eye liner when the door opened. She saw Haley's reflection in the mirror and groaned.

"What do you want?" She asked in a tired, perturbed voice. Haley just absolutely refused to leave them alone, and it was quite frankly getting old.

Haley sighed. "It's a public bathroom, Brooke," she plainly pointed out.

"Yeah, except people like you aren't invited." Though she meant it to sound harsh, it came out weakly. Her exhaustion and irritation was audible.

Haley was tired of the constant arguing and banter that went on between them. "Brooke, I just want to talk. Not fight, not argue, not insult. Just talk." She glanced at her warily, wondering if she would agree.

Brooke paused, thinking over the request. She decided it couldn't hurt, and motioned for Haley to follow, and they sat in the chair outside the rest rooms. Dishing it out in the rest room didn't exactly thrill her. "I'm listening."

Haley was relieved that she was at least willing to hear her out. "Thanks. I am so sick of this, Brooke. Each time I have come back in town, you and I have had it out with each other. I don't want that. I know you don't, either. A long time ago, you once told me that it was easier for a person to be a bitch than show the softer side of a person. Trust me, I understand where you are coming from. So many times, I have just wanted to bitch someone out. Which, by the way, is not something I normally do. To be honest, you are the only person I have argued this much with. But, you and I used to be so close, and I hate how things are now."

Brooke toyed with the lace of her dress. "Yeah, but things change. People change. You went on tour with Chris."

"Yes, I did. I regret that now. I don't regret my fame, because I love my music. Its practically all I have left. But I regret leaving Nathan. If I could, I would go back and change everything. I can't, and because of that, I want to fix things. I am not stupid. I made some stupid mistakes, and I realize things will never be the same with us, Brooke."

Brooke nodded. "You are right, things won't be the same. You left all of us, Haley. Not just Nathan. And at the time, I supported you. I thought it was great that you were going for your dream. I just thought the way you were going about it was wrong. Now I see that it was a selfish act, one that cost you friendships and your marriage." She almost regretted the bitterness that was in her tone. She decided to try and soften it. "I know you lost a lot of things, and I feel for you for that."

Haley stared at Brooke. They were actually holding a civil conversation, their first in over six years. And though she hated to admit it, she knew what Brooke was saying was true.

Brooke continued, "I will never understand how you left Nathan like that. He is just such an amazing guy. He would do anything for me, and he makes me feel so safe. How could you leave a guy who loved you that much, and who would go to the end of the world to protect you?" Brooke cut herself off, and tried not to let a tear slip as she continued her speech. Just talking about her boyfriend got her emotional, because she cherished him so much. "Every time someone mentions you, and especially when we see you, I get so scared and paranoid. I just think, 'What if he goes back to her?' You won his heart six years ago, you could easily win it again." She tried as hard as possible to keep herself composed, but her eyes still glossed over with tears, and she said in a broken voice, "I love him so much, Haley. But I still think to myself, what if that's not enough? What if I'm not enough? And it kills me, every time I see you and him together. Granted, that is not very often, but still. I know its crazy."

Haley watched Brooke in amazement. She really did love Nathan. Haley felt for her in a way. Yes, she had wanted Nathan back, but after she had returned last Christmas, she realized she wasn't in love with Nathan anymore. She had just wanted to see if they still had 'it'. Haley had come to the conclusion that she and Nathan were never meant to be. They had been high school sweethearts, just two stupid kids who thought they knew what love was.

Haley reached over and touched Brooke's arm. Brooke looked up in surprise. "Its not crazy," she assured Brooke sincerely. "Its love." Brooke looked at her quizzically, and Haley explained, "As weird as it sounds, I am happy for Nathan. I'm glad he found someone. I treated him horribly, and if he is happy with you, then I am happy. It may take you awhile to believe me, but I hope you do. I am not all that different then I was seven years ago. I am still nice, as strange as that sounds." She swallowed hard as she repeated these words, and she dearly hoped her old friend would believe her.

Brooke smiled, setting Haley's mind at ease. "You aren't so bad, Tutorgirl." It was Haley's turn to hold a look of surprise. She hadn't heard the name 'tutorgirl' in years. The two girls exchanged a smile, as some sign of closure on this insane chapter of their lives. The old friends would never actually be friends again, and somewhere deep down they both knew that. However, this new friendship was something they could both hold close, and know there are no more angry emotions kept inside.

Haley stood up, and Brooke stood with her. "I better go find my date. Thanks for talking with me."

Brooke hesitated, but leaned in and hugged Haley. "No problem." Haley showed her dimples one last time before she walked back into the ballroom in search of Ryan. Brooke smoothed her dress out, making sure she hadn't wrinkled it during their talk.

"Ahem." Brooke whipped around at the sound of Nathan's voice. He was standing a few feet away, leaning against the wall with his arms folded across his chest. He had a look on his face that told Brooke to investigate.

Brooke walked up to him cautiously, and asked, "How long have you been standing there?" She had confided some personal things to Haley, things that she had never told Nathan.

Nathan smiled, and dropped his hands to his sides. He stood close to her, holding onto her. "Long enough to hear what you said to her. Brooke, you are more than enough. Don't ever think that, okay?" She looked off to the side, refusing to meet his intent stare. He took his hands, and held her face. He gently turned it upward towards him, and their eyes locked into each other's. "Dammit I love you so much. You will never know just how much. I have been working my ass off so that you believe me when I say I would never choose Haley over you, and I will continue to do that. I refuse to let you go." He wished with all his heart that she would realize that Haley was simply a high school sweetheart, and Brooke was his future.

Tears were sliding down Brooke's face as he recited his profession. "Nate, I believe you. I told you before that I believed you. We can now officially put Haley behind us. She has moved on, just as you have. I will admit, I was a little worried about you wanting her again. But I was mainly nervous of her motives. I'm not anymore. I am not saying we will be friends again, but at least now we have a better understanding of each other."

Nathan was tired of talking and he pulled her into a deep, savoring kiss. She smiled into his lips, and their heads were bent together. After a few more long, sweet kisses, he said, "Brooke, don't think I'm moving too fast here, okay?" She looked at him expectantly. "You know I love you, and I know that you love me. We have been together roughly nine months. I know that isn't very long, but what would you say about moving in together?" He let out a breath he's been holding, but he was quick to back up in request, "Only if you think its okay, of course. I know its moving really fast, so I completely understand if you don't want to."

Brooke silenced him with a seductive kiss. "Shut up," she whispered to him. "Of course I want to move in with you. I was just waiting for you to ask me."

He laughed. "Always traditional, huh?" She giggled, nodding. He held her closer than he had been before, if that was even possible. He spoke into her ear in that voice that makes her go weak in the knees, "What do you say we go back and dance?"

She looked up at him. "I say that's a great idea." Hand in hand, the two made their way back inside.

Hours later, it was after midnight and the night was winding down. Lucas and Crystal had just left to go back to their hotel, and everyone else was getting tired. Many of the guests had followed the bride and groom's lead.

Jenny was one who was obviously tired. She was curled up and sound asleep against Nathan's shoulder. She had been for a while. After she tired of dancing, she crawled up in his lap, expecting to have long discussions of how she did her hair, but she soon fell asleep. He didn't mind, and he was absentmindedly rubbing the little girl's back. Brooke and Peyton watched this from across the room.

Peyton nudged Brooke. "He is going to be begging you for kids."

Brooke laughed, shaking her head. "Not yet. We have to get married first."

"You are moving in together, so I'm pretty sure marriage is just around the corner." Brooke simply shrugged at her friend's words, lost in her own thoughts.

Jake walked up to them, and said, "Thanks for holding her. You didn't have to." He gently lifted the sleeping girl from Nathan's arms, and she instinctively wrapped her arms around her daddy's neck and snuggled back to sleep.

"No problem." Brooke walked up, and she allowed Nathan to wrap his arms around her. She rested her head against his chest, and he kissed the top of her head. "We're about to take off as well."

Peyton walked up holding their things, and she gave Brooke a hug. "Drive safe, okay?"

"Always," Brooke smiled. She and Nathan watched as the two left with their slumbering child. Brooke yawned. The caterers were all busy cleaning up, and there were very few people left. Karen and Andy had long since left. "Ready to go?"

He nodded, kissing the top of her head. "Yeah, come on." He wrapped her shawl around her shoulders, and he led her towards the door. They were making their way down the steps of the beautiful building when they saw Haley standing off to the side, shivering in her dress.

Brooke and Nathan exchanged a look, and Nathan shrugged. Brooke called out, "Haley." Haley turned around and looked at them. "You okay?" Inside, Brooke was kicking herself. She had turned into such a nice person it scared her sometimes.

Haley smiled politely. "Yeah, I'm fine. Just waiting for a ride."

Nathan looked at her curiously. "What happened to your date?"

Haley's cheeks reddened and turned a deep crimson color. "Um, we kind of had a fight... Anyways, he left." She rubbed her shoulders, trying to sneer away from the cold.

"He left?" Brooke repeated. By this time the pair was in front of Haley. Brooke couldn't believe someone would leave their date after one fight. Talk about being a jerk.

Haley nodded. "Yeah. He wanted to go back to the hotel, and I didn't, so he left. There was more than that, but that is the premise."

Nathan looked around. "Is he coming back?"

Haley let out a scornful laugh. "Yeah, right. I called a cab."

Brooke couldn't believe she was about to say this. "Tree Hill cabs are ridiculous. They take forever, especially this late on a Saturday night. We can take you to the hotel."

Nathan instantly looked down at his girlfriend, and she merely shrugged. She would feel bad if they just left her standing there. He cleared his throat. "Yeah, uh, come on. No use standing out here forever."

Haley protested, "No, I would never ask you..."

Brooke cut her off, "You aren't asking. We are offering. But if you don't come now, I might change my mind."

Haley grinned. "Thanks." She followed them out to Nathan's parked car. They drove her to the hotel, and she graciously thanked them.

Brooke smiled back at her. "No problem. See you around." They waited until she got inside before heading back to Brooke's apartment.

On the way home, Nathan snuck looks over at Brooke. "That was nice of you."

She looked his way. "I know. I just sort of felt bad, you know? She was just standing there by herself. Whatever, its done and over with." He reached over and grabbed her hand. He gave it a squeeze, making her smile expand. She said invitingly, "You're staying the night, right?"

He nodded. "Of course. Unless you don't want me to..." He trailed off, and she glared at him in a teasing manner. He chuckled at the look on her face.

"Shut up, you know I want you to. And just what are you laughing at?" A pout was beginning to make a permanent home for itself on her face.

He glanced over at her, and gave her hand a slight tug. "You. You know you are really adorable when you get that look on your face, right?"

Her eyes narrowed, and she said haughtily, "What look?"

He laughed at her latest expression. "That one. I'm not saying its bad. I think its hot."

She leaned back in her seat and rolled her eyes. "Fine. This has been a long day."

"Yeah, the longest part was waiting for you to get ready," he retorted. She knew he wasn't mad because he was smiling.

"Well, was it worth it?" She smiled coyly at him, rubbing her thumb on the back on his hand.

They were stopped at a light, and he took the opportunity and reached over and kissed her. "Absolutely," he promised. She smiled in contentment, and looked out her window.

She thought about their conversation from earlier. Pretty soon he would be staying over every night because he was moving in. She was excited, because it was the next big chapter of her life. When she was in high school, she dreaded the future. No more fun parties, no more of daddy's money. Now, she anticipated and looked forward to what was ahead. She couldn't wait to see where their relationship went from there. It was solid, and held a wonderful, realistic future.

They soon arrived at her apartment, and he came around to open her door. She flashed him a winning smile, and they walked inside. Audrey was stirred awake, but didn't even bother getting up from her spot on the chair.

Brooke smiled at her dog. "Hey, Aud. Did ya miss us?" She leaned over and petted her, and the dog promptly went back to sleep. Brooke turned to Nathan. "Hang on a sec, I'm going to change."

He grinned, and walked closer to her. "How about I help you?" His voice was extremely suggestive, and it made Brooke's insides tingle. He always seemed to have the ability to do that.

"Mr Scott, are you being dirty?" He started kissing her neck, making a trail of kisses all the way up to her patient lips.

"Yes," he murmured in her ear. She sighed with happiness at the feel of his breath on her skin. "Come on," he said, leading her into her room.

"Coming, coming," she said. It had been a long night, but she knew it was worth it. The best part was that she got to end it with Nathan, the man she loved and knew would always be there if she needed him.

The End

Author's Note: Its finally finished! I just want to take the time and thank each and every one of my readers and reviewers. You guys are just so amazing, I love all of you! This story was so much fun to write, but challenging since I usually stick to Brooke/Lucas fics. Actually, that is what my next fic is. Its called Daddy Come Home and it is brucas, but hopefully you guys will give it a chance! I hope to have chapter one up sometime this week or next. Also, I am trying desperately to think of some more ideas for either a Brathan fic, or a sequel to this one. Neither are in the works, but I would love to do another one.

mwaaah-'x': Here you go!

BrookenLucas: Sadly, this was the last one. Did ya like it? Hope so! Only a little bit of Nathan/Jenny, but I think it was sweet.

kaos2405: lol thanks!

Ababy99: I will miss it too! As I said, it was just a blast to write. I hope to do more soon, too. Thanks so much for each of your dedicated reviews, I loved all of them!

msCrazy: Thanks! Glad you liked it.

cindy: Well, your imagination can have fun with the marriage part! So happy you love it! Thanks for the review!

AmericanBaby: Yay, someone else who doesn't necessarily like them. Proud to know I can write that well, lol! Hope you keep reading Brathan fics, every one of them are just awesome!

Agel15: Yes, I wanted to somewhat redeem Haley. I think I justified her relationship with Nathan and Brooke though. Here's the last update (tear!) but I just wanted to thank you because (as with a bunch of reviewers!) you have reviewed (i think) every chapter, and it means so much!

brathanfan: Thanks!

Okay, now for one final time please review and let me know all your thoughts on not only this chapter, but this story. And again, THANK YOU!