AN: Hey! I think all I can say is sorry for yet another huge delay, but I was extremely busy with my studies, as I was trying to finish my dissertation as I already have mentioned in my other fic. Since this is done (yay me!) now I have more time and I hope to write much more regularly.

So, this is not by far my best writing, and the chapter is kind of a set up before the real fun starts… and extremely short. But I needed to write something to remember what this fic was all about! And it is also not beta-ed, so excuse the numerous mistakes! (I may re-edit it soon, especially if you think it's totally blahh...)

Still, I hope you'll like it even a bit, and come back for more soon! :D

Enjoy, and please review!


Chapter 15

Welcome to Tree Hill

"Ladies and Gentlemen, we have commenced our final descent into Charlotte International Airport. Would you kindly return to your seats and fasten your seat belts. Please ensure that your seat is to the fully upright position and that your tables are stowed. All personal items and articles of hand luggage should be stored securely in the overhead lockers or under the seat in front of you and no items should be obstructing the exits..."

Brooke watched absentmindedly as Rachel stretched lazily wakened by the flight attendant's announcement and the noise that immediately filled the plane as the other passengers complied with the instructions. She spared a glance at the seats across the aisle at Rachel's other side, where Mouth and Lucas were sitting. Mouth was also yawning and stretching probably just having wakened up himself. Lucas, on the other hand, was supposedly still reading the newspaper, as he had been doing since they boarded the flight and had even been doing before as well, when they had arrived at the airport and while they were having a coffee waiting for the gate to open and he had bought the damn thing.

The day hadn't started off that bad… All four of them woke up to the noise of the blaring alarm clocks and were all too exhausted as the party had kept them up until after midnight and their early morning flight had forced them to wake up at the crack of dawn. Actually, Mouth had set the alarm clocks an hour earlier than Brooke intended to, and he received the required tongue lashing from Rachel who treasured her beauty sleep. But Mouth was an anxious traveler and he just got through Rachel's scolding and then started to order everybody around to hurry and get ready. As a result, they had arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare. After they checked in, they settled at a coffee shop, since Mouth hadn't even allowed them to get their morning caffeine at Brooke's place before leaving.

Lucas seemed to have gotten over their fight the previous night about Carter, or he was just still too sleepy to bring it up. With Mouth yelling about for them to get their buts ready and out of the house, she hadn't had a chance to actually talk to him for more than to ask if he had seen her black pumps or her raincoat. But when they settled at the airport's coffee shop, Lucas didn't look like he was still mad, just very tired like herself, and everything seemed fine between them. Or so she had thought. Because then, she had the bright idea, and she still cursed herself for that, to get some papers and see if they had written anything about her show. Lucas offered to get them for her, a gesture that had reassured her that he most probably didn't even remember their fight. He came back with a few papers he dispersed among the four of them, and they all started leafing around to find something about the show, or anything else that could have been interesting. Lucas had hit the jackpot.

He hadn't said anything at first, but when Brooke who had scanned her own paper and hadn't found anything of interest asked if anyone else had found any critiques about her show, before Rachel had time to show her a relevant article, Lucas had practically shoved his own paper at her face. Brooke only read the first line before she had let out a groan. Lucas had stumbled upon the interview of Carter. When Carter actually had the time to give the interview and get it published, she had no idea. It was like he had arranged it all before the show… On second thought, knowing Carter, that wasn't such a far-fetched thought. She should probably be grateful that he gave her a chance to explain, before going to the press with his own lies…How thoughtful of him!

She had chanced a look at Lucas, but he only stared at her looking almost triumphant as he gestured for her to read the article. And she had… while letting out a slew of curses. Damn John Carter to hell. The interview was a typical one for him, exuding arrogance and vanity at every word. The problem was, this interview, was about their break up, and Brooke had only herself to blame for the way it was portrayed, after all she had practically urged him to say something along those lines.

The previous night at her show, when she got John to calm down, and for the hundredth time told him how sorry she was for how things had turned out, she had reassured him that no damage would be caused to his reputation by her wedding, if he just claimed that their supposed break up was his doing. She and Sylvia had already prepared for this, so she had told him, as they had agreed, to tell the press that the two of them had actually broken up a while ago, before his trip to Milan, and that he was the one that broke up with her. He could say that he didn't want to be with her anymore or he realized things couldn't work out or the time wasn't right, anything along those lines he liked really. He could say then that he had asked her to break up before he had left for his trip, but they just didn't advertize the event because she was already too stressed out with her show and he didn't want to burden her with having to face the press since he wouldn't be around. For a moment, she had been scared that John may get Lucas involved and tell the press that he broke up with her because she was cheating with Lucas, but the thought of John admitting that a woman would cheat on him was so ludicrous that Brooke was pretty certain that she was safe. Whatever story John made out to the press, it wouldn't be something like that and Brooke had assured John that she would back up his story when asked.

Naturally, when Brooke had assured him of that, she had no idea how far John would take things. Based on the story she had proposed he used, she couldn't argue with that, he had made it sound like Brooke was crazy in love with him and she was completely devastated when he told her to break up. Though that pissed her off, it wasn't as bad as what came next. John did get Lucas involved after all, but not like she had feared. He presented Lucas as sort of her ex stalker-ish boyfriend that had never gotten over Brooke and was extremely jealous of him, John that is, who had Brooke's love. According to Carter, when he left Brooke, Lucas just jumped at the opportunity to console her, and Brooke jumped at the opportunity to get hitched to him to mend her broken heart…Carter went on to present Lucas as the consolation prize that of course could hardly compare to the real thing… meaning him.

After Brooke had finished reading the interview, she had to supress an urge to throw up. Instead she looked at Lucas imploringly, but he didn't seem like he was in a forgiving mood. Brooke had tried apologizing, while the paper was handed at Rachel who cursed John to hell and back as well, and finally to Mouth that had just read the article with his mouth hanging open. Lucas had responded to her apologies with 'I told you so', and 'this is all your fault', and Brooke soon lost her cool as well, and went from apologies to 'get over yourself' and 'you're acting like an idiot'. And then they had boarded the plane.

The argument kept up through take off, and as breakfast was served, and finally Mouth had had enough of all the scathing glances they kept receiving from the passengers in the seats next to them and demanded that Rachel and Lucas switched seats so that Brooke and Lucas would keep quiet, as his constant pleading for them to keep it down had fallen on deaf ears. Lucas gladly agreed, and Brooke was also glad to get rid off him. Not that Rachel was much of a better neighbor. Until she had fallen asleep, the bitch kept snickering and smirking, for reasons only she could know, just grating on Brooke's nerves.

The slight shake and bump signaling that the plane had landed on the runway broke Brooke out of her thoughts. They all gathered their hand-luggage and got out of the plane and into the airport. It hit her when they were waiting for the rest of their luggage to arrive. In a few minutes, they would pass through the painted glass doors that stood behind them, and they would come face to face with their friends and family. Karen and Haley and maybe Nathan, even Skillz and Bevin had told them they would come to pick them up. In a few minutes, they would have to start the show and Brooke realized that she had never been more terrified of anything in her life. Her head snapped up and her eyes automatically searched for Lucas. His eyes met hers and he apparently read her panic, because he was beside her in an instant giving her hand a tight squeeze.

"Ready, guys?" Rachel said cheerfully gesturing to the damned doors Brooke was terrified of. "C'mon," she urged and hurriedly walked to that direction. Mouth started to follow pushing with great difficulty the trolley carrying his one bag, and Rachel's four suitcases and three bags.

Lucas bent to get the last of his and Brooke's bags on their trolley, which was also mostly occupied by her things, and then straightened up and started to push the trolley forward, when Brooke's hand on his shoulder stopped him. He turned and watched her face that had become very pale suddenly.

"We're not ready," she mumbled fretfully.

Lucas opened his mouth to argue, but Brooke insisted. "We haven't thought of anything!" she tried in panic keeping her voice as low as she could so as not attract any attention.

"Of course, we have," Lucas assured with a gulp, not looking all that sure either.

"We were supposed to go over the details again on the plane!" Brooke hissed hardly containing herself anymore.

Brooke and Lucas had talked briefly about a general explanation they could give to their friends' questions about their wedding and their secret relationship, but since Brooke had mostly the show on her mind, they decided that if they went over some details on the flight home, they could manage the first meeting with their family. After all, it wouldn't last all that long, and Rachel and Mouth would also be there to support them. If they claimed fatigue, they could retreat to Lucas' house soon enough, and then spend some time to plan their future moves more carefully and think of any questions that might catch them unprepared. But they were both so absorbed in their fight, that Brooke only remembered their original plans when it was too late and they were already seconds away from seeing everyone.

Her words however reminded of Lucas why they had not gotten over the details on the plane and he seemed to be getting angry all over again.

"Well, you had more important things on your mind!" He snapped.

"Oh, for God's sake! Your mom is standing right outside that door and you keep whining about John like a five-year old!" Brooke said with frustration pointing at the intimidating doors.

"Yeah, because it's so ridiculous to be upset when someone practically calls you a stalker and a second choice!" Lucas yelled completely losing it as he realized that Brooke was right, and no matter whose fault this was, because he still whole heartedly believed that it was totally Brooke's fault, in a few seconds they would be facing their family and friends completely unprepared.

"Well, finally, you'll know how you've made me feel!" Brooke yelled back, and without giving him a chance to reply, turned and walked off towards the doors.

"Brooke-", Lucas tried to catch her, but in his haste overturned one of the bags from their trolley, and by the time he got it back all he could see was Brooke's back vanishing behind the automatic doors that were closing shut.

Cursing himself he hurried after her.

Brooke passed the doors in a huff silently muttering to her self when she heard her name being called, just before feeling a small body getting propelled at her legs. Lowering her head she recognized her godson's smiling face looking up at her. Before she had even time to reach down and hug him, two women practically fell on her and hugged her tightly trapping the little boy between them.

Lucas pushed the trolley through the doors also muttering and immediately spotted them. Brooke was standing stiffly with her back to him while a crying Karen and Haley were hugging her till suffocation. Lucas gulped.