It's almost been an entire year since I posted "Saddest Girl Story", which is the opening chapter to this story. This has been a year of ups and downs for me and very sporadic postings for you guys. I thank you immensely for sticking with me, even when I'm at my least reliable. I owe this story a lot, and I owe you guys even more. It's been an amazing ride, and I do hope you guys stay with me as I venture out into other, different kinds of stories. This chapter is for Maggie, both because I love her to death, and she's been on me for it for months. Hun, you knowyou're the best thing I got out of this story, and its as much yours as it is mine. I don't think I have any storiesthat are just mine anymore lol. This story opened up this whole different world for me, and I've met the most amazing people on here. Special thanks to Manda Panda, Ella ,Rianator, Mariahka, and Mirage... none of whom actually read this, but hey, who cares? Lol. For everyone who reviews, you've been incredible, and I'll miss you dearly. Hopefully I'll see you on my next brucas?

And now, what you've been waiting for quite a while for…closure. I've gotten so much from this story, and I've really grown with it, I think. I love it a lot, and I hope it's been done justice by this fluffy ending lol.

At the Heart of It All

The Final Chapter

For Good

"Do you think it's safe to enter?" he asked hesitantly, and she cast a barely interested look in his direction before redirecting her attention to the television. Brooke Davis honestly wasn't too interested in what was happening on the other side of the mahogany door. Unfortunately for Lucas Scott, the other side of the door contained his bedroom, his brother, and his girlfriend's best friend. He was most definitely interested.

"Tutor Girl's pure as the driven snow, baby, it's not like you're going to walk in on them post-coital. They're probably cuddling or something."

"I heard that Tigger, and I didn't appreciate it too much," Haley emerged from the bedroom, Nathan trailing close behind her. She smoothed her light brown hair down, shifting to adjust her shirt as she glared at her friend. Brooke shrugged innocently, patting the space beside her for Haley to sit down.

"Hey! That's my seat," Lucas protested.

"Hey! Too bad," she laughed, and an amused smile curled at the corners of his lips.

"This is our friendship movie, Lucas. We must sit together during it," Haley nodded vigorously, tossing her arms across her friend's shoulders as they both stared up at him, puppy-dog eyes in full force.

"Okay, okay," he chuckled, holding his hands up in surrender. "Play ball?" he asked his younger brother, who nodded in response. They headed towards the door, when a little noise pulled them back.

"Ahem," Brooke cleared her throat pointedly. Heading back obligatorily, Lucas dropped three small pecks, first upon her cheek, then her lips, then finally on her forehead, before he was out the door. Brooke couldn't hide the giddy grin he left on her face, and she didn't even want to try. The beautiful brunette had never had the easiest life, but Lucas had always been there to make it better. Now, it was more solid. He would always be there, and he would always make it better.

And she would always love him.

The realization was kind of scary, when she really thought about it. Brooke was never one for commitment. She'd always thought she didn't have what it took to make a relationship work. It's not like she'd ever had the greatest models. Even Karen Roe, the greatest, and strongest, and most wonderful woman she'd ever known couldn't force it. But it was different not. Brooke wasn't Karen, much as she would like to be, and Lucas sure as hell wasn't Dan, praise the Lord. They had something different.

"You happy, Tig?" Haley's light brown eye bored into Brooke's green ones, and she realized what she must look like. She couldn't wipe the silly smile off her face as she stared at the door he had exited through minutes earlier.

It had been three months since Brooke and Lucas had (re)officially become "Brooke and Lucas", or Brucas, depending on who you asked. Haley was most definitely responsible for the second, but it was just so cute that it stuck. And ever since then, the goofy grins were more than common.

She paused for a moment, but not because she was uncertain. For the first time in her life, she knew the answer right away. There weren't other factors to consider, no dark cloud where she needed a silver lining. She had Lucas, in every way she could possibly want him. A best friend, a boyfriend, a lover.

"More than ever," she grinned, and Haley squealed in excitement for her friend. "And what about you, Tutor Girl?"

"What about me?" she asked coyly.

"Don't even! Put me out of my misery, please Haley!"

"Have you ever considered being an actress, Brooke?" Haley quirked an eyebrow at her, and Brooke's face lit up.

"I've thought about it once or twice. I've always wanted to fall in love with a co-star. Do you think Luke would want to act too?" puzzlement fell over her face before clearing quickly. An accusing look took over. "Oh, nice try James, but you are not getting off the hook so easily."

"Who's trying to get off the hook? You have quite the flair for drama," she snorted.

"I'm addicted to dramatics, I used to confuse the two for love," Brooke looked down, her eyes clouding over for a moment. A concerned Haley was about to question when she looked up again, the moment passing. "But now that's over. So, c'mon Hales, inquiring minds want to know."

Haley smiled wryly at the phrase her friend tossed at her. She could distinctly remember saying those exact words to Brooke months earlier. Before the era of Brucas, either real or pretend, before Nathan Scott was anything to her, back when Jake Jagelski was her greatest prospect, upon whom she'd pinned all her hopes, and when Peyton Sawyer was still just that bitchy cheerleader. My, how times had changed. That party, loud and rambunctious, seemed light years away.

"He is my boyfriend," Haley confirmed with a nod, unable to help the tiny smile tugging at her face. The two had danced around labels for the longest time, but it was obvious to everyone that it was inevitable.

"People who are meant to be together always find their way to each other in the end," Brooke sighed happily, leaning back against the couch. She loved being right. She had called Naley before the two had ever even really been introduced. Luke totally owed her twenty bucks. But he could make it up in other ways…

Shaking her head to clear it of the naughty thoughts that had just been taking over, she tried to focus on what her friend was saying. Haley had attention radar, probably built in from tutoring. She seemed to know exactly when anybody would zone out. But right now, she seemed to be zoning off herself, babbling away at God knows what. Looks like boys reeked havoc on the emotions of even the smartest of girls.

"… and yeah, I guess I'm happy too," Haley admitted, a light blush creeping up her neck. Brooke let out a triumphant cheer, squeezing Haley tight before releasing her, and falling back against the couch. She waited for the usual snark about controlling herself, or circulation, or suffocation, or something, but Haley sat still, the same little smile playing across her face. Brooke sat up; ramrod straight, her bright green eyes opening in realization.

"Do you love him?" she asked incredulously, watching keenly for reaction. She wasn't disappointed. Haley paled, a deathly white, her eyes widening significantly. She swallowed repeatedly as she tried to sputter a denial.

"You do! Oh my God, Haley, you love him!" Brooke jumped off the couch, fully prepared for the victory dance. Her arms rose above her head, her hips swaying rapidly from side to side as her mind raced.

"Brooke, don't be ridiculous—"

"You think he's gorgeous, you want to kiss him, you want to hug him, you want to smooch him, you want to love him… oh wait, you already do!" Brooke bounced up and down, dancing wildly.

"Okay, Brooke- one, shut up. And two, no more Miss Congeniality for you," Haley crossed her arms defensively, blushing furiously. Deflated, Brooke plopped down next to her.

"Okay, I may have just killed that Kodak moment, but that's not the point. Hales, I don't mean to rush you. I just want you to be happy. Even though I'm on his case half the time, Nate's a great guy, and I can tell that he makes you happy. And he's even stopped being such a jackass all the time. If that's not influenced by you, I don't know what is. I just want you to fall in love, because I want you to be as happy as Luke's made me."

"So maybe I'm a little in love," Haley admitted with a soft smile. Brooke jumped up again, laughter bursting from her throat.

"I KNEW IT! You want to hug him, you want to kiss him, you want to marry him and have a thousand little mini-Nathans! Oh God, wait, maybe you don't want to do that. I definitely don't want you to do that. Please don't do that Haley. No more Nathans," her green eyes went wide, and panic was evident. "Although they'll probably also be horny bastards like their father, so that'll result in tons of pregnancies, and hopefully they'll have high standards like their daddy too, so then the population of the world will be much more attractive, and—"


"Sorry," she said sheepishly. "I got a little carried away there."

"Little bit," Haley responded dryly. They sat in silence for a few more minutes, before she spat out the burning question. "Ehh, Brooke… how do you know Nathan's a…"

"Horny bastard?" Brooke asked with amusement in her voice, but saw Haley's face fall. "Oh God, no, not from personal experience. Just from observing you two."

Haley gasped, and Brooke laughed. "Oh come on Hales, you guys are all over each other, constantly. You are definitely the biggest exhibitionist I've ever seen in a virgin. Way to go, Tutor Girl."

Haley crossed her arms again, but couldn't hide the smile. It seemed like all anybody was doing lately was smiling. It was a change Brooke could definitely get on board with.

She winced at the creaking of the old floorboards. It had been completely silent in the Roe/Scott/Davis residence, and Brooke had thought the coast was clear. The stupid trick step got her every time. The soft snoring from Karen's bedroom let her know that her mission hadn't been spoiled just yet.

This was recurring for them now. Moving into Karen and Lucas's home after her family had left had been no great transition for her to make. She'd practically lived there before. There was a perk she hadn't initially foreseen though. Each night, after most of the world had gone to sleep, she would sneak into his bedroom. Hers was a perfectly nice one, but it lacked the comfort she got from his. And, there was a certain tall broody blonde there waiting for her. He really made all the difference.

Opening the door quietly, she slipped inside, and came face to face with him. Her arms wound around his neck as she launched herself onto him, sending them both stumbling back towards the bed.

"Happy to see me?" he groaned, shifting their positions so they could lie side by side. He softly brushed a chocolate strand of hair out of her eyes as he peered down at her lovingly.

"You know it, Broody," she said, leaning up to place a light peck on his lips which he promptly deepened, his tongue stealing into her mouth. Minutes later, they broke away breathless, and she curled up against him, leaning her head on his muscled chest.

"What are you thinking about?" she whispered after they had sat in silence for long moments. It wasn't an uncomfortable one though. They were both content just to be together.

"You," he said honestly.

"That's always good," she laughed slightly.

"I was just looking down at you, and thinking about how I always want to be like this," he continued, his fingers playing through the silky strands of her hair.

"I want that too," she said hoarsely, emotion welling in her eyes.

"I want everything with you," he returned.

"That's good," she purred, leaning up to capture his lips in a passionate kiss that sent them both reeling. "Do you think you can be quiet?" she asked suggestively.

"Is that a challenge?" he smirked down at her.

"You bet your ass it's a challenge," her smirk mirrored his, and he wondered when she's gotten so good at that.

Hours later, the sun was rising, but neither had slept a wink, as he collapsed on top of her. Their sweat slicked skin pressed them together in the most delicious of ways, and she smiled brilliantly up at him.

"I'm in love with you, Lucas," she whispered, her fingers weaving through the golden strands of his hair.

"I love you too Brooke. God, I don't think I'll ever get tired of saying that," he smiled softly.

"Good, because I'll never be tired of hearing it. But I just really want you to know that, Luke. Whatever happens between us, or to us, or whatever. People who are meant to be together always are in the end, and even if we aren't, I'll still love you. I always will."

"Then I guess it's really convenient that we were meant for each other, huh?" he pressed another kiss to her already bruised lips, smiling with pride that he had done that to her. "I think that deep down, I've always known that."

"Yeah," she breathed, still slightly awed.

"Hey, Haley's in love with your brother," she broke the silence that fell with that little tidbit, shifting the subject in the way only Brooke Davis could. He chuckled, and she could feel it rumbling through his naked chest.

"That's great, seeing as he's been in love with her for a while."

"I told her not to have too many of his kids though. The world can only handle so many Nathan Scotts," Brooke giggled as Lucas kissed her nose.

"One day, we'll get married," he said, surprising her a little. "And then we can have a dozen kids."

"I think I'd like that, Mr. Scott," she grinned.

"I know I would," he replied. "Now, aren't you going to jump up and run to tell Haley that Nathan's in love with her?"

Normally, that would be exactly what she would do. But right now, Brooke felt warm in a way she never had before. She was no longer scared of the future, or fighting the present. This was exactly where she was supposed to be, and she had no desire to change that. Not now, not ever.

"I'd rather just stay with you, if you don't mind."

"I don't mind."

And there it is. Thank you all for reading, sticking with me, and if I want to take a leaf out of Schwan's book "taking this journey" with the characters. It's definitely been an experience, and I can't thank you all enough. So please review and let me know what you think, and thanks for everything.

x Sam