Summary: AU, future fic. Lucas leaves Brooke at the altar and it seems as though everyone else in her life leaves with him. Time to pick the pieces back up. BrookeLucas, BrookeJake.
Disclaimer: I so do not own these characters.
A/N: I should not be starting another WIP right now, but I got the idea for this and I couldn't ignore it. Probably going to end up being around ten chapters, but that may or may not change. Reviews are encouraging, of course, so the more you leave the more likely I am to write more. Title comes from a line in Magnolia by the Hush Sound. Amazing song, download it if you get the chance.
The CD spun around her finger, round and round and round again. Part of her wished it was a carousel, one that she could ride on to forget all of her problems. They were abundant, and every day a new one was added to the mix. She was tired of fighting to keep afloat in the sea of pain she was drowning in. Tired and bored of the constant routine. She wasn't even treading water anymore, she was fully immersed in salt and heartbreak and she wasn't sure she could handle much more.
Not after today. Today was the final straw, the one that convinced her that her lungs were about to collapse from the pressure being exerted on them. Preparation for this had never been a concern because she was so certain it would all work out.
She sighed and took a seat in one of the dozens of empty chairs surrounding her, watching as the quick rainbow flashes of the sun hitting the disc began to dim. Her throat was clogged, burning with tears that had been both shed and held back. She was tempted to break the slice of plastic just to see if she still had the strength to do so.
Part of her wondered if she ever did. Obviously she wasn't as strong as she always thought, because she'd managed to get herself into this situation. She'd managed to argue her way back to him only to be left, alone, on what was supposed to be the happiest day of her entire life.
Brooke slid her eyes up to the sky and clenched her jaw at the site of the storm clouds moving in over the city. The news that morning had warned of a storm, and she had been desperate to get through the ceremony before the rain came. Unfortunately, the ceremony never happened, and the thought left a bitter taste on her tongue as the CD fell into her lap. It slid against the material of her dress for a moment before halting just above her knees, the edge caught on the lace of the skirt.
Clenching the lacy fabric of her wedding dress between her fingers, she took a deep breath to steady herself. Angry black teardrops fell from her eyes, leaving trails of mascara and salt down her cheeks. They collapsed on the shiny surface of the disc and she took another shuddering breath, twisting her hands into tight fists. Her nails dug painfully into the tender skin of her palms and she continued to breathe deeply, trying to get over her tears.
It was a useless mission, she knew, but that didn't stop her from trying. Brooke Davis was nothing if not persistent. Despite the fact that no one was around, she still didn't want to run the risk of letting anyone see her cry. When she was a little girl her mother used to play 'Big Girls Don't Cry' on full blast and dance around the living room with her, laughing and smiling because back then it was all okay.
She still took the lyrics of that song to heart. Mommy always told her that tears never solved anything, that crying was simply a way to ruin her makeup and make her sadder than she was before.
And back then she fell in love with the idea that she could be strong enough to hold in her pain. That notion had been shot to hell during her years as a teenager, and she cried more often than she would've liked. People told her it was healthy to let it out sometimes, but whenever she watched Dirty Dancing she couldn't help but think that the song was right.
Big girls weren't supposed to cry. Her mommy told her so.
That woman was six feet under, now, and Brooke felt sick when she thought about the cause of death. Sleeping pills seemed so bland by way of suicides, but she knew her mother never liked to leave messes behind. Not that her suicide didn't inspire chaos: Brooke was a mess for weeks, and Lucas did his best to comfort her though he wasn't sure how he could. He didn't know that she had once been close to her parents, that she had once been their precious baby girl and that once upon a time nothing could have changed that. She'd always expressed nothing but contempt for her flesh and blood.
She didn't like to talk about things like that – her family, her life before she met and fell in love with him. Now she was regretting it. Had she been more open with him, maybe this would have turned out differently. Maybe she wasn't thinking clearly when she said yes to his proposal, maybe, maybe, maybe. Brooke could play What If for the rest of her life and it wouldn't make a difference.
Lucas was gone, Peyton was gone, Nathan and Haley were dealing with their divorce. Heartbreak Hotel was such a cliché, but she wondered if that was what Tree Hill had turned into. Everyone who lived there suffered from some sort of personal disease and the black holes of love were constantly vacuuming up once-pure hearts. They never spit back out the same soul, the same feelings, and people were constantly crushed under the force of their gravity.
With a deep sigh, she stood and tugged at the skirt of her dress so that she wouldn't trip over it. The disc fell to the ground with a soft thud and she stared at the beach she was standing on indifferently. Jake had been right.
There was nothing left for her in this town.
"So, what, you go back to Tree Hill and the two of you live happily ever after?"
Brooke glared at him, shaking her head back and forth slowly. "I told you when we started this that it wasn't permanent, that—"
"That I was a replacement fuck," Jake finished. "Yeah, I got that part, thanks," he spat bitterly. He rested his forehead against the wall and slid his hands against the plaster, flexing his jaw in a blatant attempt to calm himself. He wasn't a violent person, she knew that. But he got worked up easily and his four-year-old daughter was asleep in the other room.
The walls in his apartment were thin, as they had proven to the neighbors time and time again. He wouldn't risk waking his precious baby girl, no matter how angry he was with the woman standing behind him. She swallowed thickly. Brooke slid her palms against the pockets of her sweatshirt and took a deep breath. She had no choice but to go back, but he didn't see it the same way. Not that she expected him to.
"I need the closure, Jake, I can't just—"
"Yes, you can," he said quietly. She took a step forward, hesitant to touch him. Another step, and another, and she was close enough to reach out to him. She did just that and ran her nails lightly down his spine, tripping them over the vertebrae slowly. He gave a slight shudder and she bit her lip, leaning into place a kiss on his shoulder blade.
The material of his button-up hindered her from touch her lips to his skin, and she frowned slightly as she pulled back. Maybe it was easier that way.
She sighed, "Lucas is waiting for me." Her forehead rested against the base of his neck and she could feel him fighting to control his breathing. She sighed again and pulled away from him completely, turning to retrieve her bags from the table so she could leave.
It wasn't until she had one foot out the door that he bothered to speak again. "I guess you and Peyton are more alike than I thought, huh?"
The door slammed behind her and she resisted the urge to kick it. He was always good at getting under her skin.
Scissors were relaxing – familiar, more accurately – so once she removed the dress she dropped it onto the bed and grabbed a pair out of her bedside drawer. Standing there, staring at her perfectly-cut, personally-designed wedding dress, she felt a sense of calm wash over her. Brooke slid her free hand up her opposite arm when the conditioned air gave her exposed skin a chill, and she ignored the fact that she was only wearing a bra and panties as she set to work altering the fabric in front of her.
She cut the lace into thin strips, giving the skirt a torn, tattered, near-gothic effect. Next she set to work on the bodice, sliding the metal over the material with a practiced ease that came with nearly six years of design.
The white fishnets encasing her thighs caught her attention, but her brown orbs quickly diverted their gaze to the silky red garter that was adorning her upper thigh. Her eyes narrowed and she snipped the band off with a vengeance, the cold feeling of the metal causing her to gasp.
"Stop it, you're being a baby."
"Lucas!" she whined, bouncing in her seat a little. "It hurts, can you please hurry up?"
He rolled his eyes and continued with his task, careful not to clip her skin as he continued to work the small splinter out of her thigh. The tweezers he was using had no grip left in them, but when he teased her about their aged and rusted state she remained completely silent. He knew better than to push.
"There," he proclaimed, holding the tiny, offending object up for her inspection. "Better now?"
Brooke stuck her lower lip out convincingly and crossed her arms over her chest. "It still stings," she told him. Lucas grinned and pressed a quick kiss against her mouth, then her cheek. She was still pouting when he pulled away, but she bit back a smile at the hint of mischief in his blue eyes. He could be devious when he wanted to be, as she had learned time and time again over the years.
Trailing his mouth across the exposed skin of her shoulder, he slid his fingers under the strap of her tank top easily. She protested when he pulled away, but then his mouth was on her inner thigh, working away the pain from her splinter cut, and she lost her breath as he worked his way further up her leg.
Dropping the scissors on the bed when she was finished, she admired her work proudly. The dress lay in shreds that would make a fabulous new design. Her grin widened as she looked at the torn lace more closely, and she sighed deeply when a feeling of sadness washed over her in place of the pride. The smile faded slowly as the situation began to really sink in.
Her wedding dress was ruined, and it was only an appropriate end to her day. The clock proclaimed that it was five-thirty in the afternoon in huge red letters, and she was supposed to be on a plane to Tahiti right now.
"Well, plans change, don't they, Davis?" she murmured. She rolled her eyes. "And now I'm talking to myself. Great," she shook her head and rolled her eyes again as she turned around to answer the ringing phone.
"Hello?" she answered, suddenly exhausted. She didn't want to hear anyone apologize right now. Pity was not high on her list of favorite emotions and she knew she was going to be dealing with it for the next month – at least – until everyone got over the shock.
After all, she and Lucas were supposed to be forever. Wasn't that what she had written in her vows? She sighed and listened to the silence on the other end of the line, repeating her greeting impatiently. Prank calls ranked much lower than pity on her favorites list.
There was a slight pause, and then the person sighed on the other end of the line. "Hey, Brooke."
Her heart stopped momentarily and she gasped as she sank down onto the bed. "Hi Jake."