A/N- As always guys, thank you so much for your lovely reviews :) Here it is…the last chapter dun dun dun lol. Don't forget to look out for my next story called 'These Arms' which I'll be posting within the next couple days. Check out the prologue for the full summary because I can't fit what I want to write into the allocated space given by ff. :)

For the last time, I hope you enjoy and pretty please review at the end :)


Chapter 15: Bubblegum Cherry Pie

Lucas likes to spend his Summers at the River Court. Long, hot days consist of two-on-two with Skillz, Fergie and Junk, with Mouth as commentator, often followed by a night of good rest, ready for the next day. They don't have bonds over family issues, or distinct interests other than basketball, and conversations don't arise often. They don't hang out with each other on evenings, and even though both Lucas and Skillz play on the school basketball team, their surroundings away from the court are entirely different.

But today, arriving at the court an expecting to find Fergie waiting around for the rest of them, bouncing the ball half-heartedly or simply chatting to mouth about sports announcing, (the smaller guy's passion) Lucas is surprised and ultimately shocked to discover his Mom stood there, television cameras pointed in front of her as she tells of her plans to turn the concrete basketball court into a small picnic area, complete with wild flowers and trees flown from further south.

He shakes his head, fists clenched as his own Mother looks on at the guys his own age talking among themselves, clutching their ball as if it might be pulled away from them in a couple seconds.

"Isn't that your son?" Lucas hears one of the many presenters ask, their respective camera men whirling around apparatus in order to get a shot of the confused teenager.

"Mom?" He questions, the guys silencing themselves to hear whether their team mate has anything to do with this.

Karen turns herself away from the rolling cameras, her eyes narrowed at her son as she looks him up and down. "Lucas I'm in the middle of a live broadcast." She stresses, her expression obviously annoyed.

"You can't turn this court into a God damn picnic area!" He snaps, oblivious to the cameras inching closer.

"This doesn't concern you Lucas, just go to your Father's." Karen instructs, forcing a smile as she turns back to the cameras.

He too, turns to the cameras, letting his Mother's words fall on deaf ears. "I play ball here. We all play ball here. Tree Hill doesn't need a picnic area."

Attempting to ignore him, Karen continues her broadcast. "Not only would the upkeep of this area create a couple new jobs, but it would also bring in revenue if say, there was to be a small ice cream stall open up. Tourists or even day-trippers from the city would be attracted to this spot if we could remove the concrete and allow grass to grow."

"There are already a few benches." Lucas cuts in. "The last thing Tree Hill needs is a picnic area. We spend so much time here, parents teach their kids to play ball, and it might now mean anything to you." Lucas swallows, the realisation that he's now appearing on national television hitting him. "But it means something to us."

He's echoed by agreement from Fergie, Junk, Skillz and Mouth, and smiles a little at the encouragement.

They listen as the presenters step into the camera, all with different words for their networks. But one main thing seems to be constant among them, Lucas hears. Karen Scott might have a battle on her hands.

----

"That was some speech you made." Dan muses as Lucas enters the house he's now forced to call home, the familiar scent of whisky evident in the hallway. He's not surprised at Nathan's appetite for drinking, especially as a product of Dan and Deb, members of Tree Hill's elite heavy drinkers club.

He can't find any words to retaliate, so makes his way to the refrigerator in order to retrieve the soda he came for.

"What's up? You all out of words?"

"No." Lucas shrugs. "I just don't like the waste them on things that don't matter."

"So you're a smartass?" He smirks, newspaper on the table in front of him. "You know I could throw you out. You're not my responsibility."

"So throw me out." He shrugs.

Dan purses his lips as Lucas chugs from the can, staring at him intently. "Don't push me Lucas."

The blonde-haired boy simply raises an eyebrow as he throws the remnants of the soda can along with it in the trash, before exiting the room, replying with a small smirk. "By the way, I became your responsibility when you knocked up my Mom."

He's all over the news. He can hear it through the walls of his room, the noise filtering from Nathan's bedroom across the hallway. His Mom's campaign is in jeopardy, with many viewers calling in to say that they would rather have the River Court as somewhere for their children to play ball.

A small smile of satisfaction crosses Lucas' lips, his mind momentarily off of Brooke Davis. Since the end of the school semester, he hasn't so much as heard from her, and not one of the text messages he has sent her has been returned.

Perhaps she's vacationing, he guesses, somewhere exotic no doubt, with her lying on the beach in a tiny bikini, completing the picture-perfect postcard of a Summer vacation. He imagines her having more freckles now, on her shoulders as well as her cheeks. Her hair will be beautifully tousled from the mixture of humidity and sea salt, and she'll wear nothing but bright beachwear and multi-coloured jewellery.

His fingers tremble to touch her hair now, to trace the outline of her tank top, perhaps a black lace bra strap visible. His lips are moist, toes twitching to simply lay next to her, talking about Seth and Summer's brilliantly incompatible relationship on The O.C, or why she might buy that Chanel nail polish she's been wanting for so long. Maybe they'd chat about the heat that's surrounded their small town lately, and she'd scold him for not exposing his chest to the sunlight when on the beach, even though the t-shirt he's wearing is nice enough.

And then his heart sinks, because if Brooke's watched this broadcast, she's halfway to figuring things out, and she'll be too embarrassed to talk to him. She's the queen bee at Tree Hill High, Lucas knows that. Teenagers judge all-to-easily, and if he's done anything to dissolve her status, he's not sure he can forgive himself. She doesn't deserve to cry any more tears.

----

Lucas wakes to find the small pink envelope beside his door. He knows that handwriting by now-the slight lilt to the left along with a small flick at the end of each word is a Brooke Davis trademark, and his fingers burn to rip open the paper. He wonders whether she spritzs the paper with her perfume, because every single letter she's sent him smells of her. She smells like vanilla and coconut and strawberries, with chocolate hair and cotton candy wisps.

It tells him that she's sorry, not just for her behaviour, but for the tears and the broadcast she saw on the news. She tells him that he's more than special, and that she hopes he has a great Summer. It won't be a great Summer without her, Lucas thinks. She's the only thing that's made this semester worthwhile.

She signs it 'lots of love, Brooke' and Lucas finds his lips, not curving into a smile, but trembling, because there's no indication that she'll be around him in the future.

There's no time inked onto the paper, no indication of when she posted the letter through the gap between his door and the carpet, or even whether she came here herself. Perhaps she handed it to Nathan, asking him to do what she couldn't, or simply didn't have time to, or maybe Peyton brought it on her way to Nathan's room, soft steps for fear of Dan hearing her.

He wonders whether, if she's not on vacation right now, she's heading to the airport, chic sunglasses covering hazel eyes, hair blowing in the breeze let in by the open window of the cab. Possibly, she's already at the airport, suitcase stood by impatient feet as she waits by the big screen for her flight information, or a member of staff collecting boarding passes is taking too long.

Brooke Davis is never patient. Lucas loves that.

Maybe her Father owns a boat, and she's sunning herself on it right now, moored in some exquisite marina somewhere, or floating in the deep Atlantic ocean, sun high in the sky to cast a perfect shadow to protect her from the harmful rays.

Lucas doesn't want to ask Nathan about the letter. He might laugh, or worse, feel sorry for him, knowing that all along, Brooke wouldn't make the two of them into the relationship Lucas so desperately wants. He won't ask Dan, because he means nothing, and he doesn't want to associate someone like that with someone who means everything to him.

His legs jerk for him to get up, to walk to Brooke's house just down the street, different for its red door among the many black. Brooke loves red. Lucas just loves the way she looks in red.

----

He can't take it any more. It's night now, the road illuminated by street lamps, the beach visible by dim moonlight as Lucas almost runs to Brooke's house, the letter in his hand for proof that maybe she wants him there, even though she won't admit that.

After two attempts of ringing the doorbell and receiving no answer, Lucas tries the handle, his heart leaping to find that the door is open, so in fact, she must still be in the town.

"Brooke?" He shouts, loud enough for her to hear, even in a house as big as the one she occupies. He notes the pristine floor tiles, and the cushions so delicately placed on the couch in the living room, making it look as though nobody even lives there at all.

"Brooke?" Lucas asks again, making his way up the huge staircase, identical to that in Dan's hallway. They're the only two rooms that are lit, no family portraits on the walls like he had expected for some reason. The wooden stairs don't so much as creak as Lucas reaches the landing, soft cream carpet beneath his feet.

"I can't find the light switch, so if you're here, can you let me know?" He asks again, voice raised but starting to crack as too many reasons for her not answering him run through his mind.

Four bedrooms later, and Lucas still hasn't encountered the girl he's looking for. Reaching what he guesses is her room, judging only by the pink sheets he half-expected her to have, and that familiar scent he loves so much. Still no Brooke though, and it's only when he reaches the balcony doors, light cotton drapes blowing in the night air, that he spies her, down on the beach, a small cove, adjacent to her back yard.

----

"Hey." He says softly as he crouches down beside her, feet sinking into the sand that's gone cold from lack of sunlight. Brooke's legs are pulled to her chest, arms drawn around them as she barely turns her head to see him, but offers the smallest, quietest of replies.

"Hey."

"Are you okay?" He asks, knowing the answer, whether she admits it or not tonight, is most definitely no.

She shakes her head, almost rocking herself back and forward like a small child. He notes the goose bumps on her arms, uncovered by the navy tank top she's wearing.

"I got your letter." He holds up the envelope with one hand, giving her a tight smile, a nervous smile because this is the only time he's spoken to her when she's not been his cheery.

"And I'm sorry if I embarrassed you on the news yesterday." Lucas dips his head, ashamed for her, yet in a way, proud for himself.

Now she looks up, eyes questioning him. "Why would you have embarrassed me?"

"People have seen you with me, I practically destroy my Mom's chances of winning her campaign so that I can still play ball on that stupid River Court…"

"It's not a stupid River Court." She says. "Peyton and I used to hang out there all the time. And like you said, parents teach their kids to play ball there."

He smiles, his first real smile that evening as she looks up at him, her eyes shinning, not with happiness he can tell, but with tears. "Maybe we should go inside. It's getting kinda cold out here."

Offering his hand, Lucas nods a little when Brooke accepts it, biting her lip as he helps her up from the sand.

When they make it inside, she offers him coffee or hot chocolate or anything from her refrigerator. He declines, saying thank you, but he's not thirsty. Brooke only shrugs, pressing her body into the work surface as though it might swallow her, the kitchen silent as they both work out what to say.

"I figured something out the other day." She tells him softly. "Dan's your father, isn't he?"

He can't lie to her, not now. So Lucas simply nods, humiliated, not by Brooke, but by himself, for trying to disguise something he knew he couldn't, not really.

"So I guessed that, and then I spent all night thinking about why you might have kept it a secret." She says, fingers drumming on the counter. "But I couldn't."

"You know." Lucas begins, his voice low as he moves a little closer, perhaps subconsciously aware that someone might be listening. "I saw you crying at school, before we broke up for the Summer, and then again at Nathan's party. You said you were fine."

He watches her eyes, as they flick to the floor, and then every wall but the one facing her. "And now you sent me that letter, and you're alone at night on the beach."

Brooke shakes her head. "That's not how it works Lucas. If I ask you something about your life, you can't just change the subject by talking about mine."

"Okay." He replies. "So if I tell you why I kept Dan a secret, will you tell me what makes you cry?"

"Besides sad movies?" She asks, eyebrow raised in the first sarcastic moment that evening.

"I'm being serious."

Brooke nods, eyes meeting his. "Okay."

----

"So Dan got your Mom pregnant right after high school." Brooke clarifies. "That still doesn't explain why you didn't tell anyone about him.

Lucas sighs a little, rubbing the back of his neck. "My Uncle Keith, the one you saw at school that morning, he kinda always had a thing for my Mom. One day, Dan walked in on them in bed together, not long after she'd had me." He tells Brooke. "He'd had to give up a basketball scholarship because my Mom had said he had to do the right thing and help raise me. Then she got sick. Said it was that post-partum depression that new mothers sometimes got, and that Dan had to look after me while she got better." He takes a breath, offering Brooke a small smile. "I didn't go back to live with her until I was eleven."

"And he just married Deb?"

"I used to hear them on a night sometimes, arguing. She used to say that he was only married to her because my Mom had gotten bored, and she was second best. But she didn't leave, because they had Nathan together, and even if he didn't love her quite as much as he probably should have, she still loved him." Lucas shrugs. "I didn't want to ruin my Mom's campaign by allowing people to find out about her affair. It doesn't look good for a potential mayor to play her part in infidelity. Pretty screwed up huh?" He half-laughs.

Brooke's not sure what to say.

"I'm sorry Lucas." Is all she can manage, her hand rubbing his arm gently, as if to sooth him. It doesn't matter now, he figures. He's been hardened off to any kind of pain, and the only kind he feels anymore is when she's not around. He had to come tonight, he's not sure he could manage if she wasn't around this Summer.

"It's fine." He shrugs. "Really."

"So why didn't you tell me?" She asks.

"I just…I was embarrassed, and I didn't want you to think I was some kind of loser that nobody wants to be around…" Lucas trails off, his voice much quieter. "Because then you might have stopped hanging out with me and I wasn't sure I was ready to go back to life before I knew you. I know it's stupid but…"

"It's not stupid." Brooke interrupts, her light laugh filling the room for a second or two.

It's quiet again for almost too long, Lucas playing with the hem of his shirt as Brooke bites her bottom lip. It's free from gloss and any kind of colour, and her eyes are staring at the floor, contemplating what to say next.

"So are you going to tell me why I saw you crying?" Lucas asks. "Or do I need to turn detective?"

She giggles a little, making Lucas smile at the sight of those dimples etched onto the side of her face.

"Tell me pretty girl."

Her eyes cloud over, and she shakes her head as she begins to talk, feeling a little more than embarrassed. "I know it sounds stupid, but I…I miss my Dad. He used to be around all the time, and then when he got married again, my step mom kinda…she doesn't like me. I was the flower girl at their wedding." She remembers. "I was so proud, because I got to walk up the isle and show off my Daddy to everyone in that church. And I liked her, I really did. But she thought I was spoiled and that first Christmas I spent without my dad because she had taken him away to some cabin somewhere…I started hating her."

"What about your Mom?" Lucas asks.

"She left when I was seven. Didn't write, didn't call. She didn't even send me a birthday card. It's bad enough one parents leaves, but then for the other to spend more time working or vacationing or living in another state than at home, it can't say much about me can it?"

She cries then, quietly, a hand to her mouth as tears creep out from her closed eyelids. Lucas wonders if the world is blind to her, because to him, Brooke Davis is worth every second of his attention.

"They don't know what they've missed." He tells her, a hand on her shoulder to pull her closer until she's resting her head on his chest, her eyes closed as she strokes her hair with one hand, the other wrapped around her body. He feels bad that he can't relate to loving your parents and them not loving you back. He hasn't felt love for his Mom or Keith or Dan for as long as he can remember.

"I'm sorry." She mumbles into the material of his shirt before pulling her head away slightly, her eyes looking up at him. "I was embarrassed, and I didn't want you to think that I would drive you away too. And then I wrote you that letter and I guess I pushed you away anyway…"

She doesn't finish before Lucas tilts her chin upwards, pressing his lips against hers, tasting the sweetness that he's craved for so long. Her fingers are clenching his shirt, grabbing as she presses herself into him further, and his lips move faster, more urgently until Brooke backs up, bringing him with her as they leave the kitchen, up the stairs and to the bedroom he was in only moments ago.

She rids herself of the tank top she's wearing, a little slowly as Lucas follows suit with his own shirt. She kisses him again then, his hands pinning her hair back behind her ears as she falls, the bed below her as she brings him down too, his arms strong to stop his weight from crushing her.

Her hands travel to the belt of his jeans, which he's still wearing, even though it's Summer and hot, and she's told him countless times to wear shorts. She smiles, her tongue quick to take its place back with his as she pushes the jeans down with ease, Lucas able to move them onto the floor. It's his turn then, for her, his fingers inexpertly undoing the button on her skirt. Brooke's able to slip it off quickly, fingering the hemline of his boxers as his own fingers move to the white lace of her bra.

Slipping the first strap down, he plants a tiny butterfly kiss on her shoulder, repeated again on the other shoulder and all across her collar bone as she simply breathes him in. His kisses slow, his lips travelling down her stomach to the material of the lingerie she's wearing. Lucas lets out his breath as his fingers trace the outline of her tattoo, the one that matches his, before placing delicate kisses all the way back up her skin, leaving no part of her untouched.

She tastes like bubblegum and cherry pie at the same time. And Lucas knows that he's in love with her.


THE END!!!!!!!!!

I have to admit, I feel quite sad after finishing this story. But that could also be to do with the fact that I've just watched the notebook for like the millionth time!

Hope you've enjoyed this story, and please review.

Lots of love, Gracie xxx