Author's Note: Hello everyone, hope you had some happy holidays!
I've done a lot of thinking about this story and I've decided that I'll try to wrap it up within a total of 15 or so chapters. The unfortunate truth is that despite how much I love writing this, I'm having a lot of trouble with it and at the rate I'm going, 30 chapters may take up 3 years to finish. So I'd rather commit to make it short and sweet, rather than drawing it out. I hope you enjoy it anyway and thanks to everyone for reading and reviewing. You all have been so amazing throughout this story and you give me the faith to keep going despite how horrible Mark has been to us lately. Love you all!

Also, I know this chapter is short but I'll try to make the next one much longer.

Baby, Don't You Break My Heart Slow - Vonda Shepard



Chapter 9 – Don't Break My Heart Slow

I like the way you'd hold me
Every night for so long baby

And I like the way you'd say my name
In the middle of the night while you were sleeping
I was believing in you
Was I mistaken
Do you mean what you say
When you say our love could last forever

--

I keep that stuff as a reminder of how badly I screwed up things... with you. To remind myself that if I ever got a second chance... I'd never let you go again.

"Just after Peyton and I started dating, she found your box of letters," Lucas quietly began, mindful of the precarious line he straddled between completely losing or winning back Brooke's trust. "It was completely sealed up in my second drawer," he rushed to continue when he felt her stiffen. "And before she could open it, I took it right out of her hands. No explanation, no apologies... I just took it away."

"I'm sure she loved that," Brooke quietly replied with barely audible sarcasm.

"She asked me why I kept it and I felt like I'd been transported back a year," Lucas continued without acknowledging Brooke's dry comment. "I told her that they were a gift that I wasn't willing to give back."

Brooke met his gaze but she had no words for him. She had no idea what he was trying to accomplish with his story or even where it would end up.

"We had this big fight about it and finally I just told her I'd get rid of them."

"Sounds logical," Brooke murmured as sadness briefly overwhelmed her.

Brooke, I love those letters. The girl in them is so open and honest.

"But I couldn't." He tipped her chin up, looking straight into her hazel depths. Lucas willed her to see everything he'd locked up since the night she broke up with him. "I'd already lost you and the chance of us being friends again seemed... unlikely," he admitted. "I wasn't willing to lose the one last piece of you that you allowed me to keep. I physically couldn't get rid of them. I couldn't let go."

"Lucas..." she tried before her voice broke.

"I sat and watched her draw because as long as I looked down, I was able to fool myself for at least a few minutes that you were the one sitting there with your design book," he whispered while tears filled his eyes and hers. "I tried to be everything she wanted me to be, because I felt guilty that she'd never be everything to me. And after Ian attacked the both of you, I wanted to be the one next to you so that I could catch you if you ever, for a second, let yourself fall apart."

Tears rolled quietly down her cheeks as she said, "But you weren't... and I didn't."

"I know," he whispered.

She looked down at her fingers, unable to look into his blue eyes as she said, "Before I met you, Lucas Scott... I never knew it was possible to love and hate someone at the same time."

"Well I'd rather that you hated me, than felt nothing for me at all," he murmured.

"I don't trust you," Brooke admitted. "At least not with my heart."

"It's hard to trust someone who breaks it every time he gets close enough to it," Lucas acknowledged. "Please just..." he trailed off with a hint of desperation in his voice. "Do you... could you..."

"I don't know," she lied.

There are 82 letters in here... and they're all addressed to you. I wrote them all this summer. One a day but I never sent them because I was afraid. I was afraid of getting my heart broken again like before... because you hurt me so bad, and... I was afraid to be vulnerable and I was afraid of you and the way that you make me feel. And i know that doesn't matter know after what I did, but i just thought that you should know. This is how I spent my summer Luke... wanting you. I was just too scared to admit it.

"If I let you, you're gonna break my heart again... aren't you?"

The broken expression she wore and the words she spoke were like a thousand hot knives to his heart.

"You wouldn't want to," she quietly continued, leaving him no time to deny it. "But it would happen anyway, because there's always something else... someone else... that's just more important. And I can happily be second to Lily... but not to some other girl that needs a knight to swoop in and save her every time things go wrong."

"It's over with Peyton."

"I thought it was over junior year," Brooke replied. "I was wrong."

He opened and closed his mouth, searching for some pretty words to make it all better. But he realized that some fancy explanation wasn't what she was looking for. Brooke wanted honesty. The ugly honest truth.

And because she deserved it... he gave it to her.

"I can't say that I wasn't curious," Lucas quietly began. "After we broke up that first time and everything went south, I wondered if it was because you and I were never meant to be together. If the reason I screwed up was because I should've been with Peyton."

He could see how much the words hurt, but she also didn't stop him. Instead she silently listened, waiting for him to make his point.

"But then Nikki happened and then Anna... and somewhere between you slamming the door in my face and us becoming friends again... I stopped wondering," Lucas continued. "Suddenly, out of nowhere, it was just gone. I stopped thinking about her... stopped feeling for her... stopped wanting her. And I didn't question it, because I knew the reason. I knew it was because you and I let the best versions of ourselves finally see each other," he whispered and brushed a stray tear from her cheek. "Because I fell crazy stupid, ass over backwards in love with you."

She laughed in spite of herself and the smile turning up the corners of her lips warmed him.

"Such sweet words, Lucas Scott. No wonder you're a writer."

He grinned and took the opportunity to intertwine his fingers with hers. Then he watched her smile slip just the slightest bit but she still allowed him his hold. "When I lost Keith, I went through the five, heart wrenching stages of grief."

Brooke's eyes softened at the mention of the beloved uncle who had always made her smile. The man who raised Lucas as his own, and loved him more than Dan Scott ever could've.

"The truth is, Brooke... that when you and I broke up after the wedding, it kind of felt like that all over again. It was like my heart was literally breaking inside my chest, only this time I only had myself to try and put back the pieces. I only had myself to blame."

"Lucas..."

"Acceptance. That's the final stage, and that's what I did. I accepted that no matter what I said or what I did, we would be apart until you wanted it to be different," he explained. "Every person in my life, including you, including Peyton... you all believed that she was the one I should be with. And I let myself believe it too because I was selfish and I just wanted something to numb the pain. I wanted some way to forget you, and I figured that the only way to do that was to make you so angry that you'd forget me too."

"You used her," she said flatly. "And you used my insecurities against me."

"I screwed up."

"I really hated you," Brooke admitted as tears forced their way into her voice. "I loved you so much that I hated you for not loving me back."

He shook his head. "That's where you're wrong. I've always loved you."

"True love isn't about hurting each other."

True love... it's not this fairy tale life that never knows pain, but it's two souls facing it together, and diminishing it with unconditional love.

"True love is pain. It's happiness, it's sadness... it's fear and joy and everything in between," Lucas declared and leaned his forehead down against hers. He felt her hesitation and when he felt her retreating, he dug his heels in even deeper. "Love isn't perfect or blameless... it isn't a fairy tale that can never be lived up to. It's holding each other up when the world tries to knock you down. It's this feeling in the pit of your stomach and a flutter in your heart. It's taking a chance that you might get hurt because the alternative is not feeling at all... because pretending to be indifferent towards someone you love will kill you faster than a broken heart."

"Then why wasn't it enough?" she quietly cried.

"It was always enough," he vowed. "We just got in each other's way of seeing that."

"Doesn't that say something to you?"

He smiled gently and said, "Yes. It means that we were seventeen, in love for the first time and... and that we were gonna make mistakes to learn from."

"Yeah, well how can you be so sure that we won't just keep making the same mistakes? That we aren't doomed to keep going around in circles."

For the first time that night, he began to see a light on at the end of the tunnel. Lucas knew that his words were finally starting to break through the shell around Brooke's heart. And the best part about it, was that she was letting him see it happen.

"We don't. That's why it's called a leap of faith."

She looked away from his penetrating stare, hiding her eyes from his. "Well maybe I don't have enough faith to take that chance."

What if I don't have any left?

Lucas quietly replied, "Then I'll give you all of mine."

---

What I wanted? I wanted you to fight for me! I wanted you to say there is no one else that you could ever be with and that you would rather be alone than without me. I wanted the Lucas Scott from the beach that night, telling the world that he's the one for me.

---

"Is she okay?" Brooke asked as soon as she saw Lucas walk back into the room cradling his baby sister.

"Just a little fussy," he admitted and quietly sat back on the couch bed. Holding Lily close, he tried to make soothing sounds while Brooke took the liberty of sharing her blanket. "I think she just likes being awake when you are."

The brunette smiled and ran her finger gently down Lily's cheek. "She's so beautiful," Brooke murmured.

"Just like our mom," Lucas agreed.

Brooke sensed the change in him, a sadness that accompanied his thoughts of Karen.

"Lucas..."

"Will you be her godmother?" he blurted out before Brooke could say anything else.

"What?"

He thought not only of the late nights she stayed up with his sister, but of everything she'd done since the day of Karen's funeral. The way she stepped in and took care of the both of them. How she loved Lily.

"I'm sorry, I know that Haley already asked you to be Jamie's godmother," Lucas apologized though he seemed anything but sorry. "I know it's a big responsibility, and a lot to ask, but... I can't imagine asking anyone else."

She smiled once more and gently plucked the little girl from Lucas' arms. "I would've been pissed if you had asked someone else," she said and nuzzled the little girl with her nose. "I'm honored, Lucas. I'd love to be her godmother."

Her eyes sparkled with happiness and Lucas couldn't resist leaning forward to catch her lips with his.

Hearts beating in a rapid tandem, they sat with their lips pressed together for seconds that felt more like minutes. Then, just as Lucas began to pull back, Brooke leaned forward and returned the kiss.