Summary: It's been four years since they stood on the Rivercourt and promised to come back to each other. Little by little, the group reunites. Friendships are renewed and old feelings resurface as their lives unfold. Eventually B/L. N/H and maybe J/P.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything your recognize. The inspiration for the title is a Jon McLaughlin song entitled, Beautiful Disaster.
Author's Note: There will be a lot of little flashback here and there, some will be my own and some from the show. Those of you who are reading my other story, Things I Don't Say, know that I update pretty quickly but since I don't have nearly as much of this story planned out as I do with that one, updates will probably come every few days. Hope you enjoy.
Chapter 1 - Growing up is hard to do
Growing up isn't easy. Taking responsibility for your choices and curbing your impulses becomes something you do more and more with each passing year. You learn that what you want isn't always what you get. You learn that what you get isn't always what you need. And you learn to accept it whether you want to or not.
Four years ago, a group of friends parted ways and embarked on the next phase of their lives.
It was a tough adjustment at first. Best friends were no longer a phone call away or a couple streets over. Jobs and classes kept them busy. New friends were made and old ones slowly faded into memories of a world they left behind. It was sad but it was the reality of growing up.
We'll come back in four years. Back to this spot.
It was a promise they all made but after four years, no one expected everyone to keep it. So it was no surprise when more than half the group ended up missing on that night, exactly four years later. It was no surprise because their lives had taken them all in different directions. Priorities had changed.
But change, it seemed, was not great enough to stop them all from eventually reuniting.
They showed up, though not all at once. But eventually they all made it back to Tree Hill.
Well… almost all of them.
"For someone so young, you've managed to not only design a successful fashion line, but you also run a business." Blonde brow arched curiously, the woman pursed her red slicked lips and re-crossed her legs. No doubt a move carefully calculated to entice whatever male viewers there were in the audience. "To some it would seem like a pipe dream but you found a way to make it come true at an age when most are still trying to figure out who they are and what they want to be. Yet you seem to know exactly what you want and how to get it." Those watching on TV and in the studio probably didn't notice that the compliment seemed more like an insult. "Care to share with us the secret to your success?"
Smiling her own dimpled smile for the camera, Brooke Davis carefully tucked a wavy strand of auburn hair behind her ear. "There is no secret, really. Just a lot of work and even more luck," she humbly replied.
"And you got your first start at Rogue Vogue three years ago, correct?"
"I did, actually," Brooke agreed amicably. "The competition was fierce to say the least and I managed to meet a lot of great designers that weekend. It was definitely an experience," she said, though her mind wasn't remembering the competition she won. It was remembering the one she had walked away from.
"No cheerleading for you?"
"No, I guess not." The sadness in her voice was audible as she faced a woman that seemed as jaded as everyone else she'd recently met. Men and women who were living in a world that was beyond anything Brooke Davis was used to. A world that scared her because it was real and because it didn't include those that mattered most to her.
"Well if you do well in this show, there won't be time for things like that. You'll be the talk of the town." It was said so simply and for the first time since arriving, Brooke wondered if maybe she actually had a shot at winning. Yet as much as she wanted that, she wasn't sure if she was ready for it.
"It's just hard to let it go," Brooke admitted.
"There are designers here who have been struggling in the fashion world for years, and yet overnight this could be the start of your career."
"And the end of being a kid."
"Word around town is that you're slated to be one of the guest judges at this year's competition," the overtly sexual talk show host continued. Minus the platinum hair, she reminded Brooke a lot of Rachel, only this woman wasn't nearly as genuine. "Which would place you right alongside your former mentor, Donna Karan."
"I have the utmost respect for Donna. She's an amazing designer and a very savvy business woman," Brooke complimented smoothly. "Working with her again, however briefly, will definitely be another great experience." She had been through enough of those interviews to learn how to dodge anything that she could later be criticized for saying.
"Unfortunately we're almost out of time but before we go, we have one last question from our online question board." Skimming her list of note cards, the blonde woman smiled at the words before turning her attention back to Brooke. "Pauline from New Jersey asks, have you ever been in love?"
Normally Brooke never answered personal questions. She preferred to keep interviews based strictly on her clothing label mostly because she currently didn't have much of a personal life to speak of but also because she learned how important it was to guard certain details. The public always wanted answers. Too few ensured their persistence and too many destroyed her privacy. From there it became a balancing act. One that Brooke didn't quite have the hang of yet.
"Have I ever been in love," Brooke murmured to herself. She wasn't surprised that the simple, if not whimsical question sparked another memory. A happier time when it seemed like the future was wide open and filled with hope. All because of a tall, blonde haired boy whose kisses used to make her feel weak in the knees.
"Well that's too bad because I forgive you."
"You can't." Tears ran down her face as she stood, unwilling to believe that it could be that simple.
"I just did," he said. The look in his eyes was penetrating, showing her the sincerity behind his words. And then he smiled. "So you're just going to have to deal with it." She loved his smile and in that moment, she felt herself fall in love with him all over again."I'm the guy for you, Brooke Davis and I know I hurt you last time we were together…."
"I love you." She said it because it was impossible to stand there looking up at him for another moment without telling him what was inside her heart. Something so strong that it had scared and comforted her at once. It was a feeling that no one else had ever been able to coax out of her. Only him.
"I love you too." His fingers caught the tears that fell from her eyes."Pretty girl."
"Once," she smiled, almost nostalgically. "A long time ago."
"Brooke, you have a deadline. A non-negotiable one. Stock holders to meet with and a board to answer to. You can't just take off whenever the hell you feel like it." At twenty two, Brooke Davis was in way over her head. She was a girl that started out making clothes in a small one bedroom apartment back in Tree Hill and ended up a reluctant businesswoman in New York four short years later. When asked, as she often was, she'd never be able to tell you exactly how it happened. In her mind it was all a blur starting with the day she won Rogue Vogue.
"I don't give a rat's ass about the stock holders or the board," she shook her head. "I've hardly had a chance to breathe in the last six months much less anything else. My friend was in the hospital three weeks ago and I had no clue because I didn't have time to check my machine or pick up a newspaper," she said, laughing humorlessly. "God, I was smiling for the cameras while he's trying to pick up the pieces of his life."
Resting her head in her hands, Brooke fought back a wave of guilt as she recalled Haley's worried voice. The news about an unfortunate accident on the court that had been sitting in her voicemail for twenty two days before Brooke finally had a few minutes to listen to it.
"I can't do this anymore, Marie. I have to go before I end up as crazy as everyone else in this business."
The thirty four year old manager could only sigh as she realized she had no chance of convincing Brooke to stay. Not when the young brunette seemed to struggle between falling asleep and bursting into tears. "One week, Brooke. That's the best I can do for you," she declared, hoping that when the seven days were up, Brooke would be ready to recommit herself to her role in the company. "Even then it'll be a stretch and you can believe that the board won't be happy about this."
With her fall line already a success, the investors expected big results from the spring wardrobe she had yet to finalize. Between that and upcoming Christmas sales, Brooke knew she'd never get the time off if she didn't take what little was being offered to her. Marie was right… her board of directors would not be pleased.
"I guess that'll have to do," she agreed quietly.
"I'll make the arrangements." Within two hours, Brooke would have a plane ticket and rental car service available to her when she landed in North Carolina. The nicest hotel she could find would be booked and an elegant dinner would be waiting. "But I'll tell you what, Brooke… don't even think of turning your phone off. If I call you, you better answer or I'll go down there and bring you back, myself," Marie warned sternly.
Some days she was like an overprotective older sister, other days she was just a bitch. That day Brooke couldn't help but think she was the latter.
"You wouldn't last ten minutes out of the city," Brooke stated coolly as her fatigue began to fade away in favor of excitement. In her own way, she was telling her manager not to bother with threats. Brooke Davis didn't take kindly to them and she became fiercely stubborn if someone issued one. "And I'll check my messages but I can't promise anything else."
Her career had somehow morphed into her entire life. Brooke couldn't remember the last time she made it home before eleven on a weekday. She couldn't recall when she'd managed to eat more than a granola bar or a muffin on her way out in the morning. Coffee had become her savior and the downstairs receptionist in the building's lobby knew her better than her doorman or neighbors did.
"Fine." Sighing once again, Maria nodded. "Just… don't forget that it isn't your home anymore. Remember where your priorities lay," she warned carefully.
"How could I forget when everyone always makes it a point to remind me?" Brooke muttered under her breath.
"Nathan could you please lower that? Nathan? Nathan!?!" Frustration filling her voice, Haley's request was met with nothing but more loud music. "I get that he's hurting right now, I really do. And I know that I just need to give him time but Luke, I don't know how much more of this I can take," she admitted to her best friend, desperately trying to hold back a fresh set of tears.
For a moment, Haley took the opportunity to marvel that she had any tears left to cry. Three weeks had passed since Nathan was injured on the court and since then it had been a nonstop rollercoaster.
Haley couldn't help but think that if it hadn't been for their son, Nathan would have completely given in to the impulse to throw himself a pity party.
"He's scared, Hales." This bit of insight came from Lucas Scott as he pulled his sister-in-law into his comforting embrace. "Think about what it felt like to be on tour with Chris and The Wreckers. Then excluding the anticipation of coming back to Tree Hill for Nathan, think about how it felt to just pack up and leave it all behind," he advised gently. "Suddenly Nathan sees his dream slipping away along with his role as the provider and it terrifies him."
"But it's not slipping away," Haley insisted, her voice muffled by his shirt as she continued to lean against Lucas for support. "It's just temporarily on hold. Why can't he see that? Why can't he understand that it isn't over… that he isn't any different today than he was a month ago?" she questioned, confused and frustrated.
"He will. Just give him time," Lucas gently advised.
"Mommy," a little voice called out.
Just as easily as Haley wrapped her arms around him, she stepped away from Lucas and swiped away her tears as she heard incoming footsteps. The last thing she wanted was for James to see her cry. What with Nathan's mood swings and his stint in the hospital, things had already been confusing enough for the intelligent little four year old. Haley couldn't bear to add to it. "Hey baby. Are you hungry?" she greeted with a smile.
"Can I have a sandwich? Peanut butter," James requested and stared up at his mother with eyes identical to his father's.
Anyone who met James usually commented on how alike he and Nathan looked. Both had the same color eyes and the same dark hair. He was also tall for his age, at least three inches above his days old cousin, Lily. "Say hi to your uncle Lucas first," Haley reminded and moved around the counter towards the pantry.
"Hi, Uncle Luke."
"Hey, buddy." Without thought, Lucas reached down and lifted the boy onto the nearest bar stool. "How'd you like the book I brought by yesterday? Did your mom read it to you last night like she promised?" he asked and sat down beside his nephew. The boy he loved like his own son.
In a way it was a relationship that also made him feel closer to Keith. Now he understood what it had been like for his uncle. Of course that was minus the whole in love with the boy's mother part that often tripped Karen and Keith up.
"Uh huh. Will you take me to get another one today?" James requested innocently.
"Sorry baby, but you're spending the afternoon with your grandma, remember," Haley intervened before Lucas had a chance to respond. "But maybe your uncle can take you some other time." While Nathan spent hours outside with James playing ball and catching lizards, Lucas was always the one who bought him books and took him to stores for readings. Haley called it their bonding ritual. Lucas said it was his rite because he wasn't just an uncle but also a godfather.
While on the other side of the spectrum, James' godmother played a different role.
Hers was less hands on and more elaborate. Usually a wildly expensive gift and a few trendy looking clothes. Something that Nathan never failed to joke about each Christmas and birthday. Courtesy of Brooke Davis, he often said their son was the best dressed at pre-school.
Someone who didn't know her well would say that Brooke was just like her parents. Flashy gifts to make up for not being around. But those who knew her well also knew that Brooke put a lot of thought and heart into the clothes she made. Especially in the outfits put together for those she considered family. And to Brooke… James was family.
"Maybe tomorrow," Lucas agreed as Haley set the sandwich down on the island in front of her son. "Hey, don't I get one too?"