Well, this is it. The last chapter. Wow. I'm probably more upset about it then you guys are. It's been great, i love you all for reviewing and reading and I really hope you enjoyed the story. If I could take the time to thank you all, I totally would, but I'll try to PM you when this is all said and done to express my thanks. I do want to thank my girls over at FF, especially Kristin (who sent me over to FF furthering my inspiration to write this story) and Corey (who read a bunch of my chapters, including this one, before I posted, also for the giving me the exact wording of the whitey quote). I also want to thank Allie for mentioning the Whitey quote in a review, giving me the inspiration i needed to write this chapter and Elena for helping me here and there with ideas. For those of you who have me on alert--thank you for reading. I'm hoping to start another one soon, but until then, enjoy.
Apple of Her Eyes
Chapter 30: My Life, My Epilogue
"The road is long and in the end the journey is the destination."
My name is James Lucas Scott. I am eleven years old. I have blonde hair and blue eyes and a pet bunny named chester. I have a lot of people who I admire most.
My Aunt Brooke is one of them. I don't know what I'd do without her. She's raised me since I was four, and I couldn't ask for anyone better to do the job. She changed her whole life around for me. She left her home, changed up her company, even fired her own mom to keep me safe and happy. And I love her. And I always will.
My Uncle Lucas is right there with my Aunt Brooke. He's been helping me with basketball. I've gotten really good at my jump shots thanks to him. He's the closest person in my life I have to a dad. And I don't think I would ever need anyone else.
My Aunt Rachel is crazy. She used to be a druggie, but she cleaned up so she could be around me and my Aunt Brooke. We meant so much to her, she made sure she could become sober. She means a lot to us, too.
My Aunt Millie is really great. She's always there to help take care of all of us. She's what Aunt Brooke calls the "voice of reason". When Rachel or Aunt Brooke are going to do something stupid or crazy, Millie tries to make them realize how crazy or stupid they are being before they do it. Without Millie, I'm pretty sure we would all be in big, big trouble half the time.
I will always admire my mom and my dad. I didn't know them very long, they died when I was four. But from what I remember, my mom was beautiful both on the inside and on the outside. She always did her best to help the people around her, and she loved teaching. She also had the most beautiful voice I have ever heard.
My daddy was the best basketball player I have ever known. Watching him play used to be my favorite thing in the world. When he played basketball, not only was he the happiest he could be, but my mom and I were the happiest we could be.
I'll always admire them, my mom and dad. And I'll miss and love them for the rest of my life. I'm just thankful I've had the people in my life who love and take care of me. I hope one day I could be half as great as these people are.
"Tell me again."
"Yeah. About my name."
"Babe, I've already told you like a hundred times."
"I know. Tell me again."
"Are you sure? There's a million bedtime stories I can read you. Are you sure you just want me to tell you again?"
"Yes. Tell me again."
"Okay, but no other bedtime story. You go to sleep after this."
"Okay. Now tell me again."
"Okay. My friend Haley and I met in high school. She was a tutor and I was a cheerleader. We didn't get along."
"Because you were mean."
"I wasn't mean...I was just...okay. Because I was mean."
"And she tutored Jamie's daddy, and he was a basketball player."
"I thought I was telling the story. But yes, she started tutoring Nathan Scott."
"And they liked liked each other."
"Yes, they did."
"But Nathan was mean to Haley, too. Just like you."
"Please stop saying that. I wasn't that mean."
"If you say so."
"I do. Now listen to the story. Eventually, Nathan and Haley realized they were meant to be."
"Because people who are meant to be always find their way in the end."
"Exactly. They just needed a Brooke push in the right direction."
"And they got married."
"Yes they did. But Haley had the most beautiful voice in the world. And she had to leave Nathan to go on tour."
"And he was very, very sad."
"He was. But the two of them couldn't be apart for very long, and Haley came home."
"But Nathan was mad because she left."
"He was stubborn. And because of that, he gave Haley a hard time when she got back. And because of it, she had no place to live."
"So you let her live with you, right?"
"Right. And we became the very best of friends."
"And you were never mean to her again, right?"
"I could never be mean to Haley. I loved her way too much after that."
"Then what happened?"
"You know this story better than I do, you tell me."
"You and Haley both had broken hearts. So you were there for each other. To help each other be happy."
"Very true. And because of it, Haley helped me realize that I needed to focus on my fashion designs."
"And you helped Haley with Nathan."
"And eventually, Haley and Nathan got back together. And their love was stronger than ever."
"And you started Clothes Over Bros."
"Yes I did. And when Nathan and Haley got remarried, I was Haley's maid of honor. I even made her wedding dress."
"And when they had a baby, they made you godmother."
"Yes they did."
"Did you all live happily ever after?"
"They did. They were in love and had each other and the best little boy they could ever ask for."
"What about you? Did you live happily ever after?"
"What do you think?"
"I think you did."
"Then I did. Now get some sleep."
"Goodnight, momma. I love you."
"I love you too, Haley."
I kiss my baby girl on the forehead and get up off of her bed, turning out the light, and taking one more glance before walking out of the door, leaving it a crack open because she hates the dark. If you told me seven years ago that I would be agreeing with my daughter, saying that I had a happily ever after, I would have thought you were crazy. Because seven years ago two people I loved more than I can even put into words died. And my whole world was turned upside down.
That day, those seven years ago, Nathan and Haley Scott died. And Jamie Scott was brought into my life for good.
God, it wasn't easy. And I didn't expect it to be. I thought they were crazy. Me? Raise a child? In the city with my crazy hustle and bustle of a life? I thought they were insane. I thought I heard the lawyer wrong when she called my name and gave custody of their little boy to me. But I didn't hear them wrong. They left Jamie to me. And the journey that he and I took together after that moment was a long, difficult one.
But it was definitely worth it.
"Hey buddy. You still awake?" I slowly open Jamie's bedroom door, popping my head in to see if he was sleeping. He's sitting up in his bed with a flashlight and a book. When he hears me walk in, he throws down the book and turns off the flashlight. Too late, buddy. I caught you. "Nice try."
"Sorry. I'm trying to read this book Uncle Lucas gave me. I wanted to finish it by tomorrow so he would take me to the Rivercourt without bugging me about reading it." I laugh. Typical Lucas. He means well, but when it comes to reading, I think Jamie takes after Nathan more than Haley.
I walk over to his bed and take a seat. He's grown up so much the past seven years. Celebrating his eleventh birthday last month was almost surreal. Has it really been seven years? God, they grow up so fast.
It hurts me, sometimes, when I think about it. When I think about all the things I've witnessed him do. His first day of kindergarten. His first school play. His first loose tooth. His first real free throw. His first basketball game.
All of the firsts a mother should take pride in. All of the things Haley should have been here for. And I wish she was, all the time. And it hurts me when I think about it. When I think about all the firsts there are to come. His first date. His first kiss. His graduation. I just hope my pride in him is enough. Even though I know Haley is up in heaven, beaming down at her beautiful son. "You're staring at me again, Aunt Brooke."
I laugh. Sometimes I can't help but lose myself in my thoughts while looking at him. He just looks so much like them. Nathan's eyes. Haley's smile. The more he grows the more he resembles them. And I love looking at him to see them. "You should go to sleep. It's late."
"I'm spending the day with Aunt Rachel tomorrow, right?" It's safe to say that Rachel's proudest moment was when I let her spend the day with Jamie alone. She had been sober for a year, and had built up my trust in her stronger than it ever was before. And the day I called her and asked her to babysit Jamie for me, her immediate reaction was for me to stop being a bitch, that it wasn't funny. When I told her I was serious, she fell silent for so long I thought she passed out on the other end of the phone. When she answered, telling me she would love to, I could tell she was crying.
"Yeah, just promise me the two of you won't get into any trouble, okay?" Jamie laughs and promises me. I make him pinky promise me. He does. He's a great kid. I know he won't get in trouble.
There was a time when I was afraid more than anything that I would ruin Jamie's life. That I would mess up and he would resent me and Nathan and Haley would be up in heaven in disgust at how disappointed they would be at me. And after hearing Davey's story about his parent's death, I was almost convinced that Jamie would grow up to be as hopeless and alone as Davey was.
I think that's why I never went after him, Davey. He was so hopeless and alone I couldn't bear to find him and ruin his life even more. He was just a child. He was just a scared child who's life was ruined before he could even make a decision on his own. Haley wouldn't want me to seek revenge on that lost child. And the more I thought about it, neither did I.
Every time I'm in the city, I look for him, but I haven't seen him since the day I tried to hurt him. I don't know what I'd say if I ever saw him again. Would I tell him I forgive him? Because I'm not sure if I really do. I just know I can't hunt him down. He's a kid who needs help, not punishment. And I think if I ever saw him again, I'd do my best to do just that. Help him. "Jamie, are you even in your pajamas?"
"Can I just sleep in my boxers? Like Uncle Lucas does?" I roll my eyes with a laugh.
"Sure, just get out of your jeans and that shirt. You're clothes are filthy." They are, too. That's what I get for taking the kids to the big hill by the park and letting them roll down it. Can you say, grass stains? And lots of them.
Jamie kicks off his jeans and pulls off his shirt and throws them at me, his shirt landing on my head like a hat. He laughs, and I throw the clothes down on the floor to start to tickle him. My hands brush over the scar on his chest as I do, and I can't help but be brought back to the memories of it all. God, I still can't think about that accident.
Neither can Lucas, but he doesn't carry around as much weight with him anymore. Not after we found Nathan's cell phone. I remember when I showed Lucas the phone, telling him it was in the house the whole time, Lucas broke down and cried. He just cried. And I held him and I knew then that he was free. He'd still feel guilty from time to time, just knowing that they died and he walked away, but now he can try and believe that he couldn't have saved Haley. That it wasn't his fault. And once he began to realize that, his life was building itself back together. Piece by piece.
Jamie and I being the first two pieces.
"Okay, buddy. You seriously need to get some sleep now. Rachel will be mad if you show up all cranky tomorrow." He lays down and pulls his covers up. "Can I kiss you goodnight, or are you too old for that now?" I kissed him when I dropped him off at school the other day, and I don't think I've ever seen him look so mortified.
"I guess so, Aunt Brooke. But don't tell any of my friends." He smirks at me and I smirk back, giving him a kiss on the forehead. "I love you, Aunt Brooke." When he says it first, no matter how many times he's done it before, my heart still melts.
"I love you, too, buddy."
"Will you love me forever?"
"Always and forever."
He closes his eyes, and just like with my baby girl, before I leave the room, I turn to take one more glance at the little boy I've learned to call my own. I close his door, leaving it a crack open just like my daughter's. He doesn't like to admit it anymore, but he doesn't like the dark either. I smile as I walk downstairs and take a seat on the couch, my two kids sleeping upstairs. Everything is momentarily perfect, and I close my eyes.
I must have dozed off for a moment, because the front door closes, and I jolt up. "Oh, sorry babe. Did I scare you?" I rub my eyes trying to get them to focus, and when they do, I smile at my husband getting home from work.
"No. I'm fine." I stand up to walk over to him, and he pulls me in close for a hug, kissing my forehead as I press my face into his chest. "Mmm, you smell good."
"I smell like I haven't showered all day, Brooke." He goes to take his coat off, but I don't move from my spot, making it more than a little difficult of a task for him. "Can you move for two seconds so I can take my coat off?" I mutter a no, and he laughs. "Well then...I'll just have to move you."
Before I have time to react, he puts his hands on my side, tickling me and picking me up into his arms. He walks across the room as I have a laughing fit from him tickling me and plops me down on the couch. "That was so uncalled for!" He shakes his head and laughs as he takes his coat off and hangs it up on the coat rack. I pat the spot on the couch next to me, and he plops down. He puts an arm around me and I rest my head on his shoulder.
"Just got done tucking them in a little while ago. Your daughter made me tell her all about Haley again."
"She loves hearing about her."
"I love telling her about her."
"Their love story is better than any other fairy tale love story I've ever heard, anyway. I'd rather hear about Nathan and Haley Scott than Mr. and Mrs. Prince Charming any day of the week." I'm going to have to agree with him on this one.
"Speaking of love stories, we got an invitation to Mouth and Millicent's wedding in the mail today. Can you believe their actually getting married? God, I love playing matchmaker." After a year of flirting, Mouth finally got the courage (with help from yours truly of course) to ask Millicent out. They dated, fell in love, and have been engaged for two and a half years. If you ask me, it's about damn time they set a date. Rachel and I called that relationship from the moment Mouth and Millicent first met when we moved back to Tree Hill.
"Speaking of love stories..." He doesn't finish his sentence. He leans down and kisses me, and I smile when his lips touch mine. We may not have the most conventional love story ever, but we got here.
I don't really know when the moment was that we decided we were a couple. It just sort of happened, and before we knew it, we were in love. We kept each other strong, we helped build each other back up, and we had a connection that we just couldn't ignore. "I love you, Lucas. You know that, right?"
"I love you, too, Pretty Girl." Hearing him say those words, I could care less how we got here. I could care less that we seemed way too unstable at first to start a relationship. I could care less that we were both broken and battered and could barely take care of ourselves. I could care less about any of that. Because all I know is that I have Lucas, I have Jamie, and I have my little Haley. I have my family. My dream.
Sometimes I think Nathan and Haley knew exactly what they were doing when they decided to leave Jamie to me. Sometimes I think it was all a big plan they concocted to get me to move back to Tree Hill and for me and Lucas to get together. Sometimes I think that's crazy, and no one could have known the paths we ended up making after that accident.
But if anyone could come up with such an ingenious plan, it would be Haley. And sometimes I think that I owe it all to her. Most of the time, I think I owe it all to her.
Lucas and I are raising Jamie as our own, his godparents. And while I would never try and replace Haley in his heart, and Lucas would never try and replace Nathan, I consider him a son. My son. Mine and Haley's son. The one thing Haley loved most in this world. "What are you thinking about?"
I look over at Lucas and smile. "Our happy ending." The road was long...
...But in the end, the journey was the destination.