Chapter Twenty-Seven: The Ending We Deserve

Author's note: So would any of you particularly object to a third generation story? You know you could witness the fifth part of a trilogy, the world in fifty years and the ACTUAL meaning of the acronym BJ (and what it DOESN'T mean.)

Peyton Sawyer looked up in annoyance as the doorbell rang. Damian, almost two, was being a pain-demanding her constant attention while she was trying to make dinner for the three of them.

Taking him on her hip as she did so rarely, she went to answer the door. Her eyes went first to Nathan. She smiled, happy he was visiting but annoyed at his timing. It took a moment for her gaze to slip to Haley, standing beside him, Natalya on her own hip.

She shrieked handed Damian off to Nathan and threw her arms gleefully around her best friend. Lucas, who had been weight training, came running. He couldn't even see Haley, obstructed by the curly nest of Peyton's hair, but he had an inkling as to what was going on.

"Oh, she's so big!" said Peyton, smiling at her goddaughter. Haley, seeing Lucas behind her, passed Nati to Peyton and jumped at him. Laughing, he caught her around the waist and twirled her around.

Nathan came up behind them, and put his arm around Haley's waist when he finally set her down.

"Back off, bro. Get your own fiancée," he said. Peyton squealed again, surprising everyone. Two squeals in under a year where very unPeytonesque.

Haley happily flashed her ring. Peyton grabbed her hand and analyzed it for a moment.

"So, I heard you guys are doing more than babysitting," said Haley. Peyton blushed and put her head on Lucas' shoulder.

"You know I heard that Jake Jagielski has a new girlfriend," said Nathan.

"Who?" asked Peyton sharply, looking guiltily up at Lucas after she spoke. He kissed the top of her head.

"Uh… something Turner. Dark haired, a little older," said Nathan.

"Doesn't matter," said Peyton firmly, kissing Lucas. Damian squirmed on Nathan's hip and he let him down.

"I can't believe how much she's grown," said Peyton fondly.

"Oh, I have to go!" said Haley suddenly.

"Why?" asked Peyton and Nathan at the same time.

"Go see Taylor. Do you want to come?" she asked Peyton. Peyton nodded eagerly.

"Hell yes. Baby, take care of Damian, okay?" she asked. Luke nodded, and she kissed him lightly.

"Do you want me to watch…" Nathan paused. "Our daughter?"

Haley smiled at him, so relieved to hear his voice after so long, so relieved to finally know he loved her.

The two of them went uptown in a cab, talking eagerly and filling each other in on the details of the past four years.

Memories, good and bad, flooded to Haley as they turned down the corner of their street and began walking up the stairs to the apartment they'd lived in for years together.

Haley's hand hovered between the doorknocker and the doorknob, before she finally gently pushed the door open and entered the place she'd so long considered her home.

Tears welled up. It was the same. Exactly the same. Through the open door, she could see the dish filled sink. A blanket was thrown over the sofa, obviously evident of a spontaneous houseguest. The smell was a bewitching one of perfume, takeout and nail polish.

Haley moved toward Taylor's bedroom, pausing briefly at her own. She remembered waking up with Nathan, spooning with him, painting it with him. Nati's crib was still in the corner, Haley's clothing draped on everything, reminiscent of her hurry to leave on that day so long ago. A glint caught her eye-reaching down, she uncovered a sparkly gold necklace, bearing her own name. The same one she'd dropped on the floor, the one she'd gotten from Lucas, the one that had replaced Nathan's and had in turn been replaced by Nathan's.

For the first time since she'd seen Nathan again, tears leaked from her eyes. Tears of memories.

She gently pushed her sister's door open, Peyton at her heels. It was mid-afternoon but Taylor was lying on her bed, sleeping deeply. Her hair was spread wildly over her pillow, her beautiful face at peace. Haley picked her way through the jumble of things on her floor and sat down on the edge of her bed.

"Tay?" she said gently, shaking her sister. Taylor slowly arose, but didn't immediately notice the peculiarity of the situation. With Peyton at the door, Taylor, in her dreamlike state, registered the time as four years previously, before everything had gone so awry. She half expected the baby call of Nati to shatter the air.

"Haley-bub?" she said eventually, her voice creaking. Haley smiled and threw her arms around her elder sister. Despite their differences,

Haley had missed her. Taylor was still unaccustomed, unable to accept that her baby sister was truly back. Shakily she put her arms around her and held her tightly. For the first time in years, Taylor Lydia James was speechless, tears marring her cheeks.

"Mommy?" called Nati in confusion. On her short, sturdy legs, she ran into Taylor's bedroom and leapt onto her bed.

"Nati?" said Taylor through her tears, staring at the small toddler with her blonde curls and bright blue eyes. So much bigger than the baby who had left her.

"I'm so sorry," whispered Haley.

"You had to mess up eventually, little sister," said Taylor, as Haley buried her head in her shoulder.

In the end, their wedding was not a large affair. Haley wore a sundress instead of Vera Wang, Nathan wore jeans instead of Armani. Only Taylor, Peyton, Nati, Damian and Lucas witnessed their union.

The three of them moved into the luxurious apartment Nathan had bought, furnished a room for Natalya, lent Natalya to Peyton and Lucas, and christened every room.

Nathan was true to his word. Ten months after the wedding, Stephen Lucas Scott was born. Three months later, Lucas and Peyton married.

Lucas and Peyton had their first child, James Lawrence Scott, within months of the birth of Nathan and Haley's third, Zachary Nathan.

Somehow in the midst of this, Nati and Damian became friends, united in their scorn of the younger interrupting newcomers.

Their anger was furthered in the birth of Haley and Nathan' final child, another girl, Taylor Peyton Scott, who was destined to be the spoiled darling of the entire extended family.

"You know it's been eight years since we got married?" asked Nathan of his wife, coming behind her and placing a kiss on her neck. She giggled and turned around to face him.

"Yep. Eight years, four kids," she responded. Sitting down, he pulled her onto his lap and he leaned against his chest.

"No, ten years, eight of marriage, four kids," he reminded her.

"Of course. God, remember how awful everyone was when we got married and they found out about Nati?" asked Haley, shuddering. Nathan laughed.

"It was intense. But after Damian was born it wasn't so bad," he remarked.

They both stood as their youngest, Taylor, came running and threw herself at her father. Taylor, at four, already knew how to pull his heartstrings. Haley rolled her eyes and greeted ten-year old Nati as she entered.

"Dad, let's go play basketball!" said Stephen enthusiastically, his younger brother Zac in tow.

"Kind of busy right now…" began Nathan, as he held Taylor.

"What, can't keep up with them, old man?" taunted Haley. She shrieked as Nathan set Taylor back down and lunged at her. She ran from the room and he followed her at a run as their children laughed and began to talk amongst themselves.

Nathan ran after Haley and caught up to her. Throwing her over his shoulder, they arrived in the bedroom.

"What were you saying about old?" asked Nathan, as he landed on top of her. Haley laughed, and ran her fingers through his dark hair, graying only at the temples.

"Not a word," she responded. Leaning down, he kissed her mouth and her eyes slid closed.

An hour later, Peyton and Lucas showed up with their boys, Jamie and Damian, who both immediately joined Stephen and Zac in front of a video game. Nati, though she usually despaired of her young, spoiled sister, joined her with her dolls.

The four adults met in the kitchen.

"God, I never thought I'd turn into such a… soccer mom," mused Peyton. The three of them laughed as Nathan handed Lucas a beer out of the fridge.

"You're not a soccer mom, you're a basketball mom," pointed out Haley. Peyton nodded and smiled.

"You, however, are a soccer and basketball mom, though your husband takes your kids to basketball so I have no idea where that leaves you," remarked Peyton. Lucas laughed and slung an arm around his wife.

"Taylor looks exactly like big Taylor," commented Lucas.

"Yeah. Charming as hell, too," said Nathan. He winced when his wife slapped his arm. "What?"

"You don't comment positively on other women," said Haley staunchly. Nathan rolled his eyes and his arms around her from behind.

"I never will again. By the way guys, tonight is the night Brooke died, eleven years ago," said Nathan. Suddenly the mood was solemn. She'd touched all their lives in different ways, and all of them had betrayed her.

Haley was the first to raise her glass. "To Brooke."

"To Brooke," they agreed, all in one voice. They clinked their cans and glasses together.

They were silent then, the sounds of the city far below them mixing in with the anxiety of the moment. They all felt as though Brooke, so long just a memory, had inserted herself into their circle.

It was Nathan who finally spoke.

"Who knew we'd have to break so many alliances, lose so much trust to get what we wanted?" he wondered.

"I didn't. But I'm glad we did. Because now," she said, pausing and looking into her husband's deep blue eyes. "I have everything I'll ever want."


Author's note: The only characters I lay claim to are Nati, Taylor Scott, Zac and Stephen Scott, Damian and Jamie Scott. The rest are property of the WB.

Thank you, all my loyal reviewers and everyone who read any part of this story. Thank you in particular to Ange, for the spoilers, for the suggestions, and to Davis, for the four thousand daily emails. And to Kendra, for her bus suggestion.

I have about three weeks before I go to camp. In those three weeks I intend to begin the fic alluded to in the beginning of this chapter, and a Dan and Karen fic which will be significantly darker than anything I've ever written.

Once again, thanks for reading.