A/N: Ah so I'm trying something different here. This story is a Brathan/Leyton fic. The majority of it is Brathan though. Most of you know that I only have ever wrote Leyton fics, but I like to branch out. I'd like to give a wonderful thanks to my beta, Miranda. I will be thanking her every chapter so get used to reading it in the Author's Note. Umm besides that, I think we're good. Please review though! I love feedback especially when I'm trying something new.
Disclaimer: I don't own One Tree Hill. If I did, I'd be Mark and I'd hate myself.
She stood in front of the airport, a plane ticket in one hand and a car seat in the other. Tears stained her pale cheeks and hid in the permanent bags that had formed under her eyes. She hadn't slept in days, maybe it was weeks now. A few hours here and there, just enough to function. She was weak and tired and really just plain fed up. She needed a break and that's what the ticket in her hand was promising her.
Brooke Davis had the perfect life. Had being the key word. She lost that perfect life a just months ago. She could blame the loss on her boyfriend, well…ex-boyfriend now. She could blame it on the fact that one of her best friends had died, leaving her alone to deal with it all. She could blame it on the three month old baby girl fast asleep in the car seat. But Brooke Davis was never one for blaming others. She blamed herself. She let it get this far.
How much changes in a year? Sometimes we think back and we hardly notice a difference. The years just blend together, a few minor changes here and there. And other times so much changes that when we look back we can hardly recognize the life we once had. The latter was this past year for Brooke Davis. One year ago today, Brooke was a cheerleader at Tree Hill High. She had a wonderful, attentive and sweet boyfriend in Lucas Scott. She had two best friends at her side in Peyton Sawyer and Haley James-Scott. The only worries she had were if her favorite store was closing, whether she'd pass her Trig test and if Luke would like her new hair style. Shallow though it may seem, Brooke just didn't have to worry about anything else. Life ran smoothly for her.
But then, she found out she was pregnant and life no longer ran according to any conceivable plan or notion. It was utter chaos. Weeks went by in a blur. She remembered walking past the clinic once everyday daring herself to go in and to just get it over with. However, every time she got within twenty feet of the door, she got this feeling almost as if there were butterflies in her stomach. It may have just been nerves, but Brooke saw it as the baby giving her a sign. It was one she couldn't ignore. So finally around seven weeks into her pregnancy, she stopped walking past the clinic altogether.
She couldn't tell anyone. Her parents would disown her. Haley was already stressed with her own pregnancy. Lucas would freak out like he did the last time. Peyton was busy tracking down her birth father. So Brooke hid the news, not wanting to burden anyone with it. She took to wearing baggy sweatshirts and loose jeans to hide her growing stomach, a far cry from the short skirts and low cut tops everyone expected. She took sick days at least three times a week. She stopped partying and drinking on weekends. Nathan was the only one who noticed something wasn't right, but the rest of the group shot it down as "a phase." Nate wasn't convinced though. He confronted Brooke and she spent two hours crying in his arms as he tried to convince her to just tell Lucas. He made it sound so easy.
But it wasn't. As soon as Lucas heard the news, he panicked. He paced the floor, ran his hands through his hair over and over again and cursed under his breath. She couldn't recall how many times he asked "Are you sure?" as if she made the whole thing up just for a good laugh. Finally when the shock had worn off, he promised to be there for her and to take care of her. She had just smiled lovingly up at him. They shared a moment. It would be their last moment as a couple.
The pregnancy strained their relationship. It had already begun to weaken before she found out that she was pregnant. Trust being their greatest downfall. Brooke didn't trust Lucas. Lucas didn't trust Brooke. But this time there was no Peyton to blame for the cause of their problems. She was dating some musician and hardly around as it was. Still, Brooke felt him slipping away. He never could open up to her. After she moved into Karen's house, she caught him on the phone with Haley or Peyton, spilling his fears and worries. When she'd bring it up, he'd just shrug it off. As if unable to think of a logical answer. It was then that Brooke realized he didn't need her. Sometimes it seemed that her presence alone was suffocating him. She'd find him leaving the house when they were home alone. She'd question where he had been when he came home and automatically the whole trust issue would be brought up again. Small fights would ensue and they'd always end the same way. Lucas would drop it saying he didn't want to get her upset, fearing it would hurt the baby. What he didn't realize was that Brooke needed to get it all out. She needed to scream, shout and cry. She needed him to understand why she was upset. But he didn't get her at all.
They did stay together throughout the pregnancy. Brooke had no place to go and nobody to lean on besides Lucas and Karen. Lucas was too honorable a man to abandon the woman who was carrying his child. He was determined not to become Dan. So they endured the hardships and on May 8th 2007 they welcomed Evelyn Peyton Scott into the world. It was without a doubt, the best moment in Brooke's life. It was as if all the struggles, the tears and the pain were nothing compared to this life she held in her arms. At that moment, Evelyn became her number one priority and all those shallow things she had grown accustomed to were placed on the back burner. The goal was to give Evelyn the best life possible.
That's why she was standing at the airport three months later. The best life possible for Evelyn would be one where she didn't have two parents fighting all the time, like she and Lucas did. Their problems couldn't be fixed. Lucas had fallen out of love with her and that was the number one problem. There was nothing left for her in Tree Hill. Peyton had left for Savannah and her small art college while Haley had passed away giving birth to her's and Nathan's daughter.
Brooke pushed the thought aside as her grip tightened unconsciously on the car seat handle. She didn't want to think of Haley nor did she want to remember the look on Nathan's face when they were told the news. It been just him and Brooke in the waiting room, wondering when the rest of the family was going to show up. Brooke knew something was wrong the moment the doctor came out, his wrists covered in dry blood and his face sullen. The words "We lost her," rolling of his tongue painfully. And it was only after a clarification that Nathan and Brooke discovered that "her" was Haley, not the baby. The grief that followed would be enough to send Brooke into early labor and give her nightmares on the few nights she was able to get any sleep after Evelyn was born.
She couldn't stay in Tree Hill, but she had to admit it felt odd for it to come to an end without any drama. She dreaded leaving Lucas because she still loved him. She'd never stop loving him. She hoped that one day when the nightmares weren't plaguing her, when her grief over Haley had subsided. Someday when she was sure they could form a real solid relationship, she'd come back to Tree Hill and try again with him. But for now they'd have to wait. She needed to be independent and the only way that could happen was if she got on that plane.
Thud. Nathan Scott dropped the last box into the back of his rented van, daring to look back at the apartment one last time. A cold feeling settled into his stomach as his eyes caught the kitchen window. How many times had he come home and spotted her at that window waiting for him, a shy smile gracing her lips? He'd never see that smile again, or hear that laugh or see those beautiful brown eyes. That's why he had to leave. There were too many memories here to haunt him, too many thoughts of happier times.
He thought back to the day when she had told him she was pregnant. His reaction was nothing like his brother's had been to Brooke. He had been overjoyed, not a worry in his mind. He knew it would be hard, but there wasn't anything he wanted more than to have a family. Besides, the two of them could get through anything together. Even the trials and tribulations that came with being young parents.
But obviously fate had other plans. Haley's pregnancy had been normal all the way up to her eighth month. At that point, she started what the doctors termed "spotting," meaning basically that she was bleeding. The doctors said that it wasn't serious enough that they'd have to induce labor, but they suggested she take it easy and rest. Nathan waited on her hand and foot for the next month. Then one day he came home from school to find only a note taped to his front door written in Brooke's loopy handwriting. Haley had gone into labor.
He'd rushed to the hospital, speeding through yellow lights and running the occasional red one even though he heard Peyton's warning in the back of his mind. When he finally got there, he was immediately rushed in to see Haley. She'd smiled at him brightly, praising him for making it in time. He held her hand and brushed the hair off of her sweat soaked forehead. He remembered how pale she had looked at that moment, but at that time he'd hardly noticed. He had been just so glad to see her.
They'd talked about little things. About how they hadn't finished the nursery. About how Duke had called for the eighth time, wondering when Haley's tuition for their first semester was going to be paid. And of course what they talked about what they were going to name their daughter. Nathan insisted on Jordan, wanting to name her after his childhood hero. Haley had just rolled her eyes and stuck with Abigail. Before they could come to a consensus, the beeping on Haley's monitor changed oddly and a nurse popped in to tell him that he had to leave the room now. They needed to perform an emergeny C-Section.
Nathan had frowned at the fact that he wouldn't be there to see his daughter born, but with a small sigh and a kiss on her forehead he had left his wife. He had promised her that he'd see her soon. They exchanged "I love you's" and the last words she uttered to him were, "Keep Brooke company."
And he had kept her company for what seemed like hours. While it was really only thirty minutes, it seemed like too long for a surgery that was supposed to be a quick means of delivering a baby. He'd tried not to think about it and instead had focused his attention on the seven and a half month pregnant woman waiting with him.
When the doctor emerged and uttered those fate sealing words, Nathan had felt his heart shatter. He had at first assumed that was his child. A few tears had began leaking from his eyes. Nathan wondered aloud if they had told his wife yet and that's when the doctor's eyes bulged and he realized his mistake. Apologizing profusely, he informed Nathan that his wife had been the one to pass away and that his daughter was just fine.
As soon as the words were processed, Nathan had taken off down the hall and out of the hospital. By the time he hadreached the parking lot, tears were rushing down his face and his body was shaking with uncontrollable sobs. He had sat in his car and cried., afraid to go back inside. Afraid to go home. Afraid to face it.
It had taken him four days to go see his daughter. Abigail Haley Scott. He had taken to lying in bed under the covers, ignoring the meals Karen left on his nightstand or the pleas of Lucas and Peyton to get out of bed and see his daughter. However, he hadn't been able to ignore the soft sobs he awoke to on that fourth day.
He had peered over the edge of the bed and caught Brooke huddled there, tears rolling down her soft cheeks. He hadn't needed to ask what was wrong. Brooke had quickly wiped her tears away when she noticed that Nathan was awake. He'd tried to talk to her, but she had cut him off. She'd said that she had just dropped by to give him something and she'd slipped a picture in his hands. It was a picture of Abigail.
He'd looked at the picture and noticed how tiny she was in comparison to Luke, who was standing by her side. He couldn't tell much about her from the photo. The lightening in the hospital must have been terrible. He didn't know what color her eyes were, how her little hand would feel inside his or if she had her mother's smile. All he knew was that she was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. Without hesitation, he got up and showered before driving straight to the hospital. The first time he held his daughter in his arms was the first time he smiled in four days. She would continue to be the only thing that made him smile. From that moment on, he never left her side.
In the meantime, funeral arrangements needed to be made and family needed to be called. Lucas, Brooke and Peyton had taken to doing that for him. Well, more like just Peyton. Brooke was too depressed and distraught to do anything and Lucas was trying to juggle grieving his best friend's death and comforting his pregnant girlfriend, who he was already having problems with. Peyton, on the other hand, had become accustomed to these things. Her childhood had taught her one thing above all. She knew how to plan a funeral. Nathan was glad he had her to take control because otherwise Haley would probably still be waiting to be buried.
The funeral itself had been a nightmare. Nathan spent most of the time in the back room holding on to Abigail. People kept asking to hold her but Nathan had a vice grip on the small child. He refused to let her go because she was the only thing he had left. Finally, Peyton had managed to wrestle the girl away so that she could show her to Haley's brothers and sisters, knowing Nathan didn't want to be near them. It was at this time that Nathan felt compelled to look at his wife one last time. He had tentatively approached the casket, trying to ignore the stares of family, friends and acquaintances who had been wondering how long it would take him to come up to the front.
She hated that dress. It had been the first thought to cross his mind. He remembered that she hated the fact it road up in the back and that it showed off too much of cleavage. He immediately wondered if Brooke had been the one to pick out her dress. The pearls around his wife's neck hadn't been his wife's favorite item either. Her great grandmother had given it to her, but she had hated the woman. She only kept them because it was tradition. He had suddenly sighed, thinking how much he remembered. All those little things that would eventually pass.
She looked so empty. Nothing like his Haley. Most dead people look peaceful and serene in their caskets, almost as if they're taking a much needed nap. But to Nathan, Haley just looked odd. Because even when she slept, she always had a smile on her face. She'd move and shift. She never sat still. But here she was lifeless and limp, her face dead serious. This wasn't his Haley. This was the shell that used to be Haley and that was the moment that he realized that she was gone forever. The rest of the funeral passed in a blur.
Now, four months later, he was ready to leave. His house was flooded with memories of Haley. Everywhere he turned a new one would pop into his head and he'd find himself getting dizzy. He no longer cried. He had traded tears for bottling these things in. It made it easier to get through the day.
However at night, when he was faced with an empty bed and nothing to occupy his mind he wanted to cry. The passion and the love that had been shared still radiated in that room. He found himself staying up all night starring at the ceiling, just waiting for Abigail to wake up crying for a bottle.
He knew it had to stop. So he took the full scholarship to UCLA and packed up to leave for California. His father had arranged for a caretaker to watch Abigail when Nathan needed it. Nathan wondered what could possibly motivate his father to do such a nice thing. Little did he know Dan just wanted to find a way to help his son cope. Whatever way that might be. Nathan arranged his schedule so that he had school in the afternoons only. This gave him the whole morning to spend with his daughter and do homework. It would be hard, but Nathan was willing to do whatever it took to get out of Tree Hill and give his daughter a better life.
"Is that the last one?" Lucas asked, breaking Nathan out of his trance.
"Yeah," Nathan said as he grabbed his daughter out of Lucas's arms, "Don't hold her like that. She might fall."
Lucas rolled his eyes at his brother's over protectiveness. "You need to calm down."
"I feel bad for Evelyn if that's the way you treat her."
"I treat my daughter fine thank you," Lucas muttered a bit defensively, causing Nathan to raise an eyebrow.
"Speaking of Evelyn, where is she? And where's Brooke for that matter? I know how much she would have liked the opportunity to throw out all of Haley's old clothes." Nathan continued checking the van for all his boxes.
Nathan stopped what he was doing to look up at his brother. Lucas looked almost indifferent, but he couldn't ignore the small hint of sadness in his eyes.
"What do you mean she left, Luke?"
"She said we weren't working together and that it would probably be best if she left Tree Hill with Evelyn."
"And you let her go?" Nathan said incredulously.
"It was for the best. We were always fighting. We could barely stand to be in the same room anymore."
"What about your daughter? How she's gonna deal with never seeing her father? Have you read some of the statistics on single parent families?"
Lucas raised his eyebrow, wondering if his brother had truly lost it now. Since when did Nathan Scott spend his time researching these sorts of things on the web.
"Brooke and I would have done more damage staying together than good. Our fights were never good. We wound up screaming at the top of our lungs and throwing things."
"Still! You let the girl you love slip through your fingers. Do you realize that? You let her go. You chose to be alone and miserable." Suddenly, both Nathan and Lucas realized this was no longer about Lucas and Brooke. It was about Nathan and Haley.
"I love Brooke, Nate, but I'm not in love with her anymore," Lucas said softly. "I had to let her go."
"You should have fought for her," Nathan muttered as he hooked Abigail into her car seat, "A man that deserved her would have fought for her."
"If it's meant to be, it's meant to be," Lucas shrugged.
"So…what about Evelyn? Are you ever going to get to see her?"
"Brooke and I figured that we'd switch off every other month. I get Thanksgiving. She gets Christmas and Evelyn's birthday."
"And you waited how long to tell me all this?"
"I knew you would be like this."
"I just don't get how you can be fine with all of this. You're never going to see your daughter."
"If I pretend to be indifferent, it makes it easier," Lucas whispered. Nathan knew all about that so he only nodded in understanding.
"Maybe she'll come back."
But they both knew she wasn't coming back. And neither was he. Things had changed too much. Whether it was for better or the worse, no one knew just yet. They could only pray it was the former.