BRIEF NOTES:

So here it is, the Epilogue. Wow, I was able to finish a story.

Thank you so much for all your support and reviews. You guys have been encouraging. I have no other words but Thanks... immense thanks.

I have a lot more story lines in my head. And once, I furnish them, I'll write some more fics.

Again, thank you so much.

So, this is 14 years down the line within the Lucas Scott household. I hope it satisfies.

DISCLAIMER:

Same same. I still don't own One Tree Hill... and I cannot wait for season 5 to start.


EPILOGUE

"Da!"

The all too familiar squeal came from the 19-month-old boy whose curly blonde head bobbed as he excitedly jumped up and down on the couch, pointing to the view outside their window.

"Whoa, tiger. The couch is off limits to jumping."

The little one squirmed as the larger blonde boy picked him up. "Obby, Da!" squealing as he ferociously pointed his chubby little finger towards the window.

Robby smiled at his baby brother's attempt at words. He had only begun to speak recently, but once he started nobody was able to stop him from trying. "I can see him. And if you can be still we're gonna go to the door and open it for him okay?" The youngest Scott gave his best smile as they headed for the door.

"Dada!" The little one could no longer hold his excitement. He had practically jumped the minute the door opened, leaving his father to dump the baggage in a frenzy to catch him. The minute his tiny arms snaked around the older man's neck, wide smiles graced their faces.

Lucas Scott was happy to be home.

He kissed the top of little boy's head. "Hey sport. How's my little boy?"

"I'm good, Dad! Thanks for asking." The quip had come from behind the 2 boys who were in front of their father, earning the speaker a chuckle from the rest of the brood who were now sprawled in the living room eagerly awaiting their father to come in. Lucas stepped inside their house carrying his youngest with him while his oldest followed suit, carrying his luggage.

It had been 14 years already, and yet to Lucas everything was still so new. "Hello family."

The oldest Scott put his father's luggage down and bent to embrace him. "Welcome back, Dad. Good to know you could make it." Lucas hugged his oldest with the arm that was not supporting the lively little one in his lap.

Robert Lucas was now a strapping 18-year-old senior with a short blonde buzz cut, haunting eyes, and a built that would make the NBA proud... Not to mention the face that made all the ladies gush. It had not at all been smooth sailing for the father and the teenage son, as they had their share of fights and arguments that was inevitably packaged with adolescence. But through it all, they remain close... sharing a passion for the game they held so close to their hearts, and a history that bonds father and son in a way unique from the other children. Robby may certainly share the love for art with his mother, but it was undeniable that the athletic talent he possessed was the talent his father could not pursue – the very same talent that was going to give him a full ride to Duke in the next school year, alongside his cousin. Peyton and Lucas couldn't be prouder. But of all the things they were proud of, they were proudest in the fact that he had become a loving brother, a caring son, and a good man.

The pair of 14-year-olds wedged Lucas between them as they welcomed him with tight embraces.

"Yeah Dad, glad to have you back. Robby was worried you wouldn't make it." The greeting had come from Keith Lawrence, the oldest of the pair. He was born a good 2 minutes before his sister, a point he would never let her live down. "Yeah, Daddy. You made it in time." It was now Anna Karen's voice who spoke. She may have been the youngest of the two, but she was never one to be upstaged.

Anna and Keith, as they were fondly called, were Peyton and Lucas's miracle babies. Born with heartbeats running faster than a marathon mile, it had been devastating to discover that just as they held almost all of their mother's beauty they also carried their father's burden – his HCM. Over time, however, they had all learned to live and deal with it – Keith pursued his love for basketball and Anna commits herself to cheerleading. They may not be as top calibre in athleticism as their older brother, but that had never been a cause for indifference. As far as they were concerned, they were doing it for the love.

But, as similar as these two were, Lucas and Peyton knew they had individuality written all over them. Keith's unmistakable taste and excellence for music and sketching were talents his parents continually nurtured, knowing this would bring him far. He was only a freshman in high school, but he was beginning to make waves for the school paper's regular comic strip and the local station's weekend show. Although between him and Anna, Keith had taken after his mother when it came to doubting his talent. His parents, however, had never allowed his apprehensions to simmer for long. He had their full support, the support that would land him a much-coveted junior internship in the coming years.

Anna, on the other hand, showed her promise in the literary field, just like her father. At the young age of 5, Anna had begun to write poems that showed impeccable talent. True, her earlier works had been childish poetry made for her parents who had a certain amount of bias, but as she grew, they all knew that writing was her finest point – the things she had been writing showed a sphere of emotions that would make Steinbeck proud... as it certainly made her father proud indeed.

Lucas looked back and forth between his twins, and smiled. Anna and Keith were like cat and dog when it came to arguing, the apparent difference between a boy and a girl's taste in trivial matters made clearer with each fight that ensued. However, when one needed the aid of the other, they were quick to stick by each other's side. Keith was more protective of Anna just as she was more watchful of him than their older brother could be. Not to say that Robby didn't look after them, he did. It just so happens that the twins shared a bond unique from that of their siblings – a bond that only twins could share.

Anna moved aside to make room for the 8-year-old girl who wanted to sit next to her father. She had straight long hair, the cutest button nose, and eyes a paler shade of blue but just as intense as her father's gaze. She held up the painting that donned a blue ribbon, a prize she earned in school for her impeccable artwork.

"That's for you, Daddy." The little girl volunteered shyly.

Lucas's heart clenched as he looked straight into eyes that mirrored his own. He kissed the top of her forehead. "Thank you, baby girl."

Elizabeth Brooke Scott was what you could call Peyton and Lucas's third lucky shot. In their three older children's growing years, the couple had maintained a highly active sex life, but they had never really been able to conceive... even if they were both ready and willing to welcome another child in their family. When Robby and the twins were old enough to be left to Karen's care, Lucas and Peyton decided to find a bit of private time in Europe. It was not until that much delayed, eagerly awaited, and long overdue honeymoon that this little shy girl was made. They were overwhelmed with joy at the thought of her arrival, and when she did, she was all they had anticipated her to be.

Ellie, as she is delightfully addressed, was everything her mother and father were – brooding and moodiness included. Usually she preferred to be quiet, letting everything sink in as she watched with observant eyes. On her more vocal days, though, she was their ray of sunshine... always willing to lend a quip to anyone who listened. She had her mother's wit and her father's eloquence, a powerful combination mixed with the skilled hands that drew art in the way her mother had. She was their little princess, and she was treated rightly so.

"Da, hug!" It was the 19-month-old baby again, snaking his little arms around Lucas to enclose them both in a hug. Lucas chuckled, his little boy was only over a year old, but he was as strong as an ox.

Adam Nathan Scott was the youngest of Lucas and Peyton's children. The couple had planned for him, and it had become sort of an inside joke among the friends being that he was the only child Peyton and Lucas had really premeditated as they firmly believed that Robby, Keith, Anna, and Ellie were conceived out of sheer unscheduled passion . After 2 years of trying, they had been elated to find out that their efforts paid off, but he had not come without difficulty. Peyton had endured a difficult pregnancy when she carried him – an ordeal that forced her out of her feet and in bed for months. As if that hadn't been enough, fate tried to test things further and push the little baby out 9 weeks earlier and weighing only slightly larger than a puppy. It tore Lucas and Peyton to see him in the hospital, struggling to stay alive. But he kept on, getting stronger as each day passed until such time that he was able to do without the tubes that he held on to at first. He was released from the hospital 3 days earlier than originally set, indicating the strength of his will.

Adam was their baby, and he was their strongest fighter.

Lucas looked at the 5 children who were surrounding him. All of them loved each other and were always after each other's welfare. Sure, fights ensued and arguments broke out; but when it came down to the wire, they all willingly stood up for and stuck by each other. He smiled a silent prayer thanking God for such precious jewels in his life.

He enveloped his two younger children in a tight embrace. "Mmm. I missed you too, Addy. Were you and Ellie good for mommy?"

Ellie spoke a little too quickly and a little too eagerly as Adam innocently sported his signature toothy grin while the older three guffawed. Robby reflected the smirk their genes were famous for. "Oh, they were good... if you discount the time this little dude threw his dinner all over the place and Ellie tried to paint something over the one we did in her room using mud and cheese sauce." Painting rooms had become a family activity, although Lucas was highly discouraged from helping. It wasn't that they didn't want him to take part in the activity; it was just that they would all rather not relive the moment he drew and painted what he still claimed to be a teddy bear but had greatly resembled a piece of mangled flesh when they had done Adam's nursery a little over a year before. He smiled at the memory, but was quickly snapped back by his oldest daughter's voice.

"Add to that the time Ellie took mom's business heels out for a run in the front yard and I'll say we have it covered... just about." The older three laughed together while Ellie's face turned a bright shade of red. Their little sister had always been taken by Peyton's fashion sense, sometimes she just got a little carried away while playing dress up.

"Oh, but let's not forget how Adam so kindly threw up on mom just as she was about to go to that meeting in THUD." Their laughter reached a crescendo as Keith narrated his baby brother's mishap, the little one laughing along innocently. True, the two younger Scotts were quite the handful, but this had never been a cause for parental outburst. They would all get scolded sometimes... but it was all within good reason.

Anna decided to buy more time with his father. "So, Daddy, how was the tour?" Lucas beamed; he knew his oldest daughter would ask him questions... for he knew that she would be taking his footsteps one day too.

"It was great, Annie. I never really thought I could gather that much readership. I missed you guys too much though." He had been on tour for his eighth book, yet another bestseller. But it wasn't what was important to him anymore; his family was his first bestseller and he made it a point never to be too far away so as to avoid missing out on their lives.

He had almost forgotten what time it was until his oldest reminded him. Today was no day to be lax. "Okay guys, as much as I'd love to just lounge around... we all know why I came home earlier than scheduled." The older four agreed while Adam looked on. "Is she still at Tric?" Lucas asked them.

"Yeah." The three chorused as Keith supplied the answer with another fact. "We also asked Cynthia to ask her to come by THUD and stall her for another 2 hours... In case you needed to buy more time."

He breathed a sigh of mixed emotions... although he was relieved to gain a good amount of time to prepare himself, he was anxious at knowing he would have to wait longer to be with his wife. "Okay, thanks guys. You've helped a lot."

"Daddy, mommy's gonna love your surprise. I know so." Ellie offered, sensing Lucas's unrest. He smiled and picked her up with one arm while balancing Adam, who was now taking a fancy in pulling his shirt collar, with the other arm.

"Thanks, princess." He said as he kissed her chubby cheek; Ellie giggled. "Alright, kids. Since I still have about 3 hours, let's all go to Uncle Nathan's together using my car. Rob, can you drive?"

The oldest Scott's eyes went alight with excitement, which he quickly tried to conceal. He had learned to drive using his mother's convertible, and when his parents felt that he was confidently responsible enough, they had bought him his very own car. And though he was extremely contented with what he had, Robby Scott still couldn't erase his curiosity over wanting to drive his father's car. The mustang Lucas inherited from his late uncle Keith was still in perfect working condition, due largely to the fact that he and Nathan took great care of it... plus, there were only two pairs of hands allowed to maneuver the vehicle in the Lucas Scott household – the hands that belonged to him and his wife. It wasn't everyday that his father would be feeling this generous, and he quickly decided to jump at the opportunity by saying yes.

"Alright, let's go then." Lucas smirked as he stood up from the couch, carrying and balancing Adam and Ellie on both arms, knowing fully well that his oldest was excited as ever to lay his hands on Uncle Keith's mustang for the very first time. It was quite obvious as Robby sped off to open the door for him. Keith followed suit, yelling "shotgun!" as he raced to the front seat. Anna sauntered leisurely behind the rest of them. Lucas turned to look at her. "Annie, everything okay back there?"

His daughter grinned. "Peachy, Dad." She said softly, but gradually changing tones as she uttered her next statement, "But I had to trail behind because somebody in the front seat has the memory of a goldfish!"

Keith stuck his head outside the passenger seat window. "You're the writer! You're supposed to remember words, prescriptions and medicines included!" Anna simply rolled her eyes. Lucas chuckled; their mother's sarcasm was definitely in the genes.

The incomplete family boarded the vehicle and sputtered away. On a regular homecoming night, they would be riding the minivan, making their way towards their grandmother's café for a family dinner, one that almost always included their extended family as well – Lucas driving, Peyton in the passenger seat, while the rambunctious children sat in the back, chattering away the events their father missed. Today, however, that would have to be set aside. In the two days that Lucas was away, he had been conspiring with his three older children for a special surprise.

It was true. 14 years had passed and yet Lucas Scott could not grow tired of giving his precious wife surprises. Whether it be the littlest of things or the grandest of gestures, he always kept brainstorming for them… not really out of obligation, but out of the sheer delight he felt every time he would look into those emerald greens and see awe, warmth, wonder, elation, and more importantly, love.

And for those looks alone, he would go through great lengths forever.


"Hey guys, I'm home!"

No answer.

"Guys? Mom's here."

Nothing.

The sound of eerie silence welcoming her gave Peyton a sense of disquiet; that was, until she spotted the folded note stuck to the bottom banister of the staircase. Instinctively, she took the piece of paper.

Hi mom,

Sleeping at Uncle Nate's.

Be home tomorrow morning.

Love you!

The kids

She re-folded the note. Well, at least I have the bed to myself. She sighed as she thought. She really didn't feel like being alone today, and earlier, the thought that her kids would be around made it much less saddening than it already was. It was their 14th anniversary today, and Lucas had to be out of town. It wasn't like she didn't understand, but that didn't make it any less upsetting. She was selfish for being depressed, she knew it… but could anyone really blame her? They had never spent an anniversary apart, and it killed her to know that this would be the first. The only thing that gave her hope was that, with a lot of luck, this would be the last missed one… ever.

Peyton heaved another sigh as she made her way up the stairs, resignedly preparing herself for a night alone. She was too caught up in the blankness of her thoughts that she failed to notice the tattered and overstuffed shoebox that took residence atop their dining table. She was, however, broken from her musings once she set one foot inside their bedroom.

Candles and yellow rose petals were strewn all over the place… most of the floral bits spread over their bed. The room smelled of coconut and ocean breeze – their favorite scent as it constantly reminded them of the beach, their most favorite getaway. This was a fantasy. Her breath hitched in her throat.

"You didn't actually think I'd miss out on us, did you?"

She hadn't even looked at him, and already Peyton knew he was smirking. She smiled, reveling in the knowledge that Lucas always made it a point never to let her down and always keep her on her toes. Surprises were his specialty, and though she would always try to even the score… he often managed to be better at them than she was. She turned to face him, a grin embedded on her face.

"Well, I knew you had something up your sleeve… but I have to say, Scott, you're getting so much better at this surprise thing."

His smirk widened as he stepped closer to her. Lucas couldn't wait a second longer to have her in his arms. He reached his arms towards her and pulled her in for a tight embrace. "Happy anniversary, baby."

She immediately wrapped herself in his arms. God, how she loved the security of his presence. "Happy anniversary to you too, love." She pulled her face away enough to look him in the eyes, he needed to see her eyes when she said her most favorite words for him. "I love you so much."

He offered her a sweet smile. "I love you too, Peyton."

Their lips met with a passion that was filled with sweetness and desire, but Lucas pulled away before they engaged in heavier pursuits. He opened his eyes to a disappointment-ridden Peyton and chuckled. "Later." He whispered as he held her hand and led her away from the quiet ambience of their room. The puppy dog eyes almost made him want to change his mind.

Lucas held her close to his side as they descended the stairs. "Later. I promise it'll be worth it." He assured as a kiss on Peyton's forehead was firmly pressed. "It better be." She scoffed jokingly as she let him lead her into the kitchen.

14 years. 14 long years filled with laughter and tears, and a plethora of good memories that outnumber the bad. Peyton couldn't imagine living her life – past, present, and future – any other way. She led a successful career path in two fields she loved most, she had best friends that remained supportive, a brother that would go through hell and high water for her, and children that reminded her that the people in her life would never leave her.

Most of all, she had the one dream she's held since her younger days – a home with her one and only Lucas Scott.

She took notice of the old box as they entered their dining area. She smiled, briefly reminiscing on the meals and memories their family shared in this place. Every one knew her to be less of a cook than Lucas was, but with a little practice and a lot of help from Karen, she had finally mastered the culinary arts enough to satisfy her family's palate. Her home cooked meals are now highly appreciated, although Brooke, Derek, and Nathan still remain apprehensive about tasting her new dishes.

"What's with the box, babe?" She finally asked. She had a hint about what it was… it was the box from high school that labeled her as a mistake. She just wanted to know for sure. Lucas moved away from her to pick up the box, carefully balancing it so as not to let its contents spill all over the floor.

He presented it to her as he explained. "It's the Peyton Box." He smiled sheepishly "You know, I was stupid when I was young… I was stammering because of Brooke and it was really idiotic of me to call this, to call you, a mistake." Peyton flinched a little at his words. Hearing Lucas tell her that he once claimed her to be an erroneous part of his life still did not sit well with her.

Lucas continued to speak as he set the box back down on the table and opened it, revealing the contents. "But see, even after that little mishap, I just couldn't stop putting things in here." He slowly removed one item after another, explaining what it all meant. "Even when I was still with Brooke, there were little things that I managed to keep… as our memories, just yours and mine. Like this…" It was a tiny bottle filled with sand, an indication of the times they had spent at the beach during that particular summer. "…and this." It was a feather painted black, her mouth went agape as she recognized where that had come from. Lucas smiled sheepishly "I'd never seen such a beautiful angel, plus you showed off your legs… and dancing with Mouth… I needed to make a memory." Peyton smacked him playfully, but quickly turned somber as they both looked at the next item to be unfolded.

"I couldn't bring myself to throw it away or wash it, Peyt." It was his button-down, the garment he had used on her leg when she was in the library… bleeding from the gun shot his late lost friend had fired. Her eyes brimmed with tears at the memory, it was a day she could never make herself forget. "When Brooke told me that you were still in there, the only thing that I could think of was how I couldn't stand to lose you… and when I saw you in the library, fragile and scared, my heart broke. I had never felt more helpless in my life. The thought of having almost lost you then without me realizing that it was you all along still haunts me today." He went silent for a moment.

"But we came around, baby." It was her turn to speak as she gently took the piece of clothing from him and set it down on the table, cupping his face in her hands right after. "We were both preoccupied at the time, not really thinking of this great thing that we had in front of us. But we came around, and it took us a whole lot of time… we're here now… together."

He smiled as his eyes pierced into her. "There's one last thing I have to show you." He beamed as he reached into his jeans pocket and retrieved a piece of white gold jewelry – a necklace with a round pendant locket externally engraved with the letters P, E, S.

"Luc…"

He shushed her by placing his finger on her lips. "Open it." She looked at him with a grateful smile and bright happy eyes. Never in her life did she think she could smile as wide as she could at this very moment. That was, until she opened the locket.

Her mouth opened in wide wonder as she looked at the photographs encased in the piece of jewelry. On the left side was her father's last photograph with her… she had a 6-month old Robby in her lap while she, Larry, and Derek smiled for the camera. Haley had taken that photo, only now, it seemed that there were two additions in it. Standing behind them were Peyton's mothers, beautifully edited and stitched into the picture making it look as though they were physically present at the time it was taken.

On the other side was their most recent family photo. Her, Him, Robby, Keith, Anna, Ellie, and Adam on a family picnic at the River court. Kaitlyn had taken the photo, which was originally set to be just of Peyton, Lucas and Adam, but once the older four had seen their Aunt wield the camera, they immediately jumped in for the shoot. It was a semi-candid shot where in all of them were squeezed tight and brightly smiling.

"Luc, how did you…"

He cut her off with a quick answer. "Haley still had the file in her computer, and I did my best editing it. I know it doesn't really look…" Lucas was silenced with his wife's lips. It took all of a millisecond for him to kiss back.

Peyton pulled away for a second. "It's perfect, thank you baby." She smiled and leaned in closer to him. Without asking, Lucas gently recovered the locket from her hands and snaked it around her neck. Once it was clasped, he took her face in his hands and smoldered her with the passion in is eyes.

"You really are my forever, Peyt."

She blushed. After all these years, Lucas Scott could still make her blush. "And you're mine, Luc." A devilish gleam lit here eyes up, making Lucas slightly tilt his head in wonder. She pulled away from him and quick-stepped upstairs, into their art room, as he swiftly followed suit.

"Okay, now I know you have tendencies to run away when something big happens but could we maybe take the moment back…?" He had meant it as a joke, but was quickly silenced when he saw what she was holding, a shy smile racing her features.

"Peyton…"

"I… I was thinking of it when you were away and I was hoping to give it to you when you came back… like a belated anniversary present or something. But, since you're here now… I mean, it isn't much but--" Her rambling was cut off by the crash of his lips against hers.

Lucas Scott was an author. He was a published, best selling author. But at that moment, Lucas Scott was speechless… and what he couldn't find the words for, he expressed in a searing, passionate kiss that put all her apprehensions to rest. It lasted all but two minutes, but to Peyton his kisses always seemed to knock the good sense out of her – no matter how brief or lengthy. And when they broke apart, he finally found his words.

"Thank you, baby. It's the best you've ever given – that's not a promise. It's a fact."

She handed him the leather-bound, wide-note journal. From the outside, it would not be easy to discover that the craftsmanship could be credited solely to Peyton; apart from the sketch that was pasted on the front cover, the stitching and the binding could easily be mistaken as something bought out of a store.

But he knew better. Lucas knew this journal was sewn and strewn by her hands as memories and flashbacks of Peyton coming in and out of several arts and crafts stores from months before and the one time she came home lugging a 3-yard long piece of light brown leather while nonchalantly passing it off as a sudden urge to "try and make something new… maybe leather shoes" flooded his mind. He chuckled as the recollection played out. Indeed, his wife was something else; but he wouldn't have her any other way. He was proud of Peyton… of how open she had become… but right at that moment, he had never felt prouder, and more loved.

It wasn't, however, the craftsmanship of the journal that had caught his eye or his heart. It was what the sketch that covered the front and the many other sketches inside the book as he flipped through the pages. Some of them he had already seen, some he had not. And while he looked at her curiously, silently asking where the other drawings had come from, she sheepishly smiled and said, "They were from before we got back together. My silent wishes, I guess you could say."

His heart clenched, the sketches he had not seen were drawn during a time when they were on the outs and yet somehow she still kept her faith in the two of them. Oh, he had already known that she did… mostly through the reminders of friends, but now, as he flipped through each artwork, the vindication had only become more solidified. It was heartwarming.

"The cover art is my favorite." Peyton's voice seeped in to his thoughts.

He closed the book, focused on the cover, and smiled. It was a recent sketch, but he supposed it was made when he was away on tour. It was a drawing of their family, on a sunny day at the river court. It wasn't a regular sketch where their family was huddled together in one place… Instead, it was one that depicted their most favorite things to do – Robby and Keith engaged in a one-on-one game, Anna reading as Ellie lay belly-faced on the grass beside her in deep concentration with a drawing, while the two of them sat on the foreground as Lucas's image held a napping Adam in his lap and his and her eyes were locked in an intense gaze, all the while smiling. It was a perfect picture, and the caption at the bottom of the page sealed its perfection.

"Our forever" He whispered, repeating the words he had seen on the cover page.

Peyton's hands cupped both sides of his cheeks, coercing him to gaze into her bright hazels as her smile took his breath away. He held the journal on one hand, and set his free hand on her waist, pulling her closer as she leaned in and forward.

"Welcome home, Luc."

It was the last word spoken as their lips met, eager to express the exact intensity of the love they felt for each other. Their embrace was as tight and as passionate as their kiss, ardently articulating their passion… each one not willing to let go as their desire intensified with the passing seconds. And at that very moment, there were only three things running inside Lucas Scott's mind… three things that completed his everyday life…

He thanked God for his family.

He was grateful for his lovely wife.

He was glad to be home.

Because home, in Lucas Scott's mind, was Peyton Sawyer-Scott in his arms, kissing him senseless… And home, to him, were the five children who would carry their love and legacy with each growing year…

And home was exactly right where he wanted to be.

THE END