Author's Note: Thank you for all your reviews! I hope you guys like the next chapter. Again, it's long but I figured this should last you guys a few days or weeks before the next one. Enjoy!

CHAPTER FIFTEEN: SHE HAS NO TIME

"Hey, I got your message. I'll fly out as soon as I can. Thanks for the call. See you in L.A."

Brooke stood in front of the door like she had so many times. The previous phone call she made while she was at the store played back in her mind as she waited for the door to open. She stood there, in disbelief that she'd agreed to go back to Los Angeles in a heart beat, but felt that it was necessary. She called Rae soon after she'd left the message for to mother and now she was standing in front of her house that night. Not a moment longer, it slowly opened and she was greeted with a smile.

"Haven't seen you in a while," Rae spoke with a little sarcasm as she stepped aside to let her enter.

"I know, I had some things to take care of," Brooke offered as a reply, closing the door behind her as the two women proceeded to the kitchen.

Rae offered a cup of coffee, to which Brooke accepted as she poured her a hot cup. The two sat facing each other at the kitchen table before Brooke broke the silence.

"You done feeling sorry for yourself yet?"

Rae chuckled, "I think I feel worse after eating that entire pint. I'm supposed to be able to fit in my wedding dress for crying out loud."

"You look great, shut up," Brooke smiled, sipping her coffee.

"That's really not important right now. What about you? Are you really considering it?" Rae asked with a hint of anxiousness in her voice.

"I dunno," Brooke placed down her coffee mug, "But it's a great opportunity for me to get back to what I do best. I mean, I did some sketches last year and I didn't think it went well but now…Rae, this has to be a sign."

"A what?" Rae cocked an eyebrow in confusion.

"A sign," Brooke repeated, "I asked Haley today to give me a sign, to show me what I should do…what I need to do. This is it, it has to be."

"Wait, you think this is a sign from Haley telling you to fly to L.A. and continue with your maternity line?"

"Yes!" Brooke excitedly replied, "I mean, I've got a meeting with Macy's on Wednesday…"

"Are you sure this isn't just you finding an excuse to not get closer to Nathan?" Rae tore down her excitement and watched as Brooke's face went sour.

"This has nothing to do with Nathan," Brooke clarified with a tinge of anger in her voice, "This has everything to do with me continuing to pursue my dream further, to be successful because I love what I do—"

"Okay, can we please cut the bullshit?" Rae interrupted with a tone to match Brooke's, "You two are so ridiculously …. annoying. Seriously. One minute you're kissing and all over each other, the next minute it's like you can't even imagine having anything to do with one another!"

"Rae," Brooke spoke, "This isn't about you trying to force us to be together, right? Because I told you….it's complicated, and it'll get messy, and it's just…not the right time."

"But it was the right time three days ago…when you showed up at the bar with Nathan, your dress unbuttoned?"

"Don't do that," Brooke warned, "Don't throw that stuff in my face. Look, I don't know what's going on between me and Nathan. And right now, it's not really important—"

"You don't see how important it is, do you?" Rae cut her off once again, "You took care of Grace and Jamie. You were there for them at the hardest time of their lives, and now, you're just gonna leave and expect them to be okay?"

"What are you trying to say? Why are you so adamant about me and Nathan being together?"

Rae sighed in frustration, "I'm saying…you're like a mother to those kids. They've already lost Haley, you want them to lose you, too?"

Brooke's lips quivered at the words the woman in front of her spoke, "That's not fair, Rae. Just because you're pissed that Dean has history with Lindsey doesn't give you the right to let it out on me. I can't believe you would use the kids as a guilt trip!"

"I'm sorry," Rae offered quickly as soon as she noticed Brooke's disgusted face, "Seriously, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have done that. I'm just…you're right. I am a little frustrated with Dean right now and I shouldn't take it out on you."

Brooke noted the soft tone that emerged from her friend, "I'm sure there's nothing to worry about with those two. Dean's a good guy, you two can get through anything together."

Rae nodded with appreciation as she continued to sip her coffee. Brooke also remained silent for a few moments before hearing Rae speak once more, "You better be back for my wedding."


Sunday morning rolled around and Brooke turned off the waffle iron as she plated the waffles and placed them on the table beside the scrambled eggs and bacon. She'd walked in this morning and went straight to making breakfast, unaware that the food she'd prepared wouldn't be enough for the house's occupants.

"Aunt Brooke!" Jamie's voice appeared from behind her as he entered the kitchen clad in his pajamas. He ran to the woman and hugged her leg, "Where have you been?"

"Hey buddy," She tousled his hair, "I was at the store last night up until this morning working on some sketches. But look what I made."

Jamie had beaten her when he sat on the dining chair and placed a waffle on his plate, "Waffles!"

"Yeah, waffles," Brooke laughed as the little boy poured himself an insane amount of syrup, "Your dad awake yet?"

"Mmhmm," Jamie nodded with a mouthful of waffle, "He's changing Gracie right now. He should be down soon."

"Smells really good," Nathan's voice emerged and Brooke turned to find him standing in surprise as he held Gracie in his arms, "Brooke?"

"Hey," Brooke replied nervously, "Breakfast is ready."

"I thought Peyton made breakfast. I didn't know you were here," He answered in confusion.

"Peyton?" Brooke wondered, "Why would she make breakfast here?"

"Well," Nathan began, "We were all wondering what happened to you and we didn't know if you were coming home so…I offered your room to Lucas and Peyton for the night."

"Wow," Brooke replied in surprise, "Uh, that…okay."

"I'm sorry," Nathan apologized, "But they wouldn't have fit in Jamie's bed. And I didn't want them getting a room at a hotel."

"Plus, only Uncle Dean fit in my bed," Jamie added, although his eyes remained focus on the waffles on his plate.

"Dean? He didn't go home last night?" Brooke asked, even more confusion washing over her.

"Yeah, he said he got into an argument with Rae and he wanted to give both of them time to cool off." Nathan replied as he placed Gracie in a high chair beside his by the kitchen table.

"Wow, I disappear for a few hours and this is what happens," Brooke shrugged her shoulders.

"Where were you, anyway? I texted you—"

"I was at the store. Um, working on some sketches and getting some clothes together."

"Oh," Nathan nodded, "How's that going?"

"Um," Brooke leaned on the counter with one hand, "That's actually something I wanted to talk to you about."

"Okay."

"In private," Brooke replied, her eyes glancing at Jamie before returning to Nathan.

"The missing girl emerges," Dean's voice entered the kitchen as he ran a hand through his hair.

"Dean," Brooke greeted him with a small smile, slightly upset he didn't go home the night before to resolve his argument with his fiancée.

"Breakfast!" Dean excitedly said, not once shy about grabbing a plate for his self as he filled it with eggs, bacon, and waffles. He took a seat beside Jamie, both nodding in agreement how delicious the food was.

"So, you know," Brooke continued before being interrupted by Dean, "Whenever you get a chance today, I wanna talk to you."

"Yeah, actually, we can talk now if you want. Come on, let's go to Jamie's room." Nathan offered as he asked Dean to feed Gracie at the same time before standing up to lead the way to his son's room.

Brooke didn't hesitate to follow him up the stairs, although she'd be lying if she said that she was on the verge of throwing up from being nervous. She expected to talk to him today, but she didn't expect him to want to do it right now. Regardless, she figured it was best to get it out of the way as soon as possible. Kind of like pulling off a band-aid, right?

They entered Jamie's bedroom and Brooke watched as Nathan shook his head at the sight before him. The man who occupied the little boy's bed didn't bother to make it, but Nathan chose to deal with it later, sensing the importance of whatever Brooke wanted to discuss with him.

Brooke sat on the bed, her body slightly turned to face him as he did the same. Before she could say anything, Nathan spoke, "Is everything okay?"

"Yeah," Brooke responded quickly, nodding her head, "Fine, everything's fine. I wanted to tell you that the last few days, months, have been pretty crazy—you know, with the kids…and us or whatever. And the wedding."

"Yeah, but we can manage all—"

"Look, Nathan," Brooke interrupted him, determined to get everything out before she had a chance to change her mind, "Whatever you and I were, I just don't think it's right. At least, not now, not this soon. I mean, who knows if we'll get a chance to try to work this out between us, but in the last few days…I just, I noticed you've been distant. And that's perfectly fine, because I think maybe we jumped into this a little too fast too soon—"

"Brooke—"

"No, wait. Just let me talk before I change my mind. The thing is, you know I love the kids. And you know how much I care about you and how we've grown together through all this, but….I don't think I can keep doing this right now."

Nathan's eyebrows wriggled in confusion, "Do what?"

"This. Us. Me, pretending like I belong here. You, pretending like this is okay because we both know it's not okay. And I was trying to find a reason that would justify our actions and it just came down to the fact that I've longed for a family for all my life that I forgot that this wasn't my family. This is your and Haley's family, and I tried to be there and I helped you with the kids but…I think this is as far as I should take it."

Brooke looked into his eyes as he tried to search for any clarity in hers. He couldn't believe the words coming out of her mouth, he couldn't believe that she felt like she wasn't part of his family. Most of all, he couldn't believe the brutal truth that came from her words.

"Brooke, I'm sorry," Nathan spoke in a soft voice.

"Why?"

"Because I lied to you," Nathan confessed, making Brooke confused as she slightly tilted her head in wonder, "A couple nights ago. I had a dream about Haley."

"Oh."

Nathan continued, "Yeah, and I guess I couldn't help but hold on to that image in my mind. It just felt like she was still with me."

Brooke shifted her eyes away from his and onto the bed, "Which explains—"

"Why I've been pretty distant," Nathan finished for her, feeling guilty for not being honest in the first place.

"Guess we both still have a lot on our plate," Brooke added, "which brings me to goodbye."

Nathan felt as if he didn't hear her correctly, "Goodbye?"

"I'm going back to L.A., Nate," Brooke answered, although every word was clearly a struggle to say, "I'm leaving tonight."

"Wait," Nathan suddenly felt a sense of panic and curiosity all in one, "Tonight? Why L.A.?"

"There's a chance Macy's gonna go ahead with my maternity line I was working on a while back. And I think it'll be a really good opportunity for me to just go back to what I love doing," Brooke explained, regardless of how painful it was for her to think about leaving Tree Hill again.

"So you're gonna leave right away? I mean, what about us?" Nathan asked, referring to himself and the kids.

"Nate, you don't need me, we both know that," Brooke tried to assure him as she placed a hand over his, "You've been doing great with them. Besides, your mom and Dan can help you."

"Jamie's not gonna be happy about this," Nathan warned her with a soft voice as he watched her nod her head.

"I know," Brooke agreed, "And I don't want him to think that I'm never gonna be in his life because that's not true. I'll be here, just…not right here."

The silence that settled between them was almost excruciating as Nathan held Brooke's hand that laid atop his.

"Oh! I'm sorry," Peyton's voice interrupted the silence and Nathan slowly let Brooke's hand go as she blonde stood at the doorway, clearly witnessing the solemn exchange between the two.

"No, Peyton, that's okay," Brooke turned her head to look at her best friend, "What's up?"

"Um, I didn't know you were back. Actually, Jamie's looking for you, Nate." Peyton explained as she directed her attention from Brooke to Nathan.

"Okay," Nathan stood up, "I'll be right there." He exited the bedroom, his eyes giving Brooke's an apologetic expression as he went downstairs, leaving the two women behind.

"I'm kinda glad you're here, Peyton," Brooke slightly smiled.

"Kinda? Hmm, guess I haven't been doing a good job at being a friend. Can I upgrade to VERY?" Peyton joked as she watched Brooke stand up from the bed.

The brunette chuckled, "Okay, fine, I'm VERY glad you're here. Wanna hang out today?"

"I guess I can do that," Peyton agreed as the two women exited the bedroom.


"You didn't come home last night," Rae pointed out to the figure approaching her as she kept her eyes locked on the computer screen before her. She didn't need to look up to find that her fiancé had dropped by Clothes Over Bros that Sunday morning.

"I stayed at Nathan's," Dean explained as he stopped at the counter, standing on the opposite.

"Was Lindsey there?" Rae asked, her eyes still fixated on the screen.

"Of course not," Dean replied, "She went back to the hotel."

"Good," Rae nodded.

"You still mad?"

"A little bit," She replied in honesty, but her eyes finally left the screen and landed on his, "Yesterday I just felt like I didn't know you. You know, not knowing about your past…"

"Baby, we've got all our lives to share ridiculous stories about each other's past," Dean reassured her.

"Yeah, but you have that with Lindsey and—"

"Hey," Dean cut her off, moving closer to the counter and leaning his elbows onto it, "We were just catching up as friends. Nothing more. I mean, I dated her cousin Leah—"

"Leah, the third musketeer, Leah?" Rae tilted her head in wonder, remembering the name from the day before.

"Uh, yeah," Dean nodded, surprised that she remembered.

"See, Dean," Rae sighed in frustration, "this is what I mean. I don't even know about the girls you used to date—"

"Why does that matter?"

"It just does!" Rae exclaimed, composing herself as she noticed that a couple of customers were staring. Lowering her voice down, she continued, "It does matter. It matters because I'm marrying you and I don't even feel like I know you."

"That's not true, you do know me," Dean shook his head, getting tired of the argument. "There's nothing else you need to know about my past that will have anything to do with our future together."

"Fine," Rae gave in, although Dean knew she was still hung up on the situation, "If you can look me in the eyes and tell me that you've laid it out on the table for me like I have for you—no surprises, then I will marry you and we'll have a future together."

Dean stood speechless, unaware that she'd stoop to the level of giving him an ultimatum. How did it get this far? If he looked her in the eyes like she said and told her that there was nothing more to disclose about his past, then he'd be lying. Lying straight through his teeth about the child he'd left behind when he was sixteen years old. Why would that matter now anyway? He never met the child, surely that should be left behind the past….right?

"Dean."

Her voice interrupted his thoughts. She looked at him with trusting eyes, hopeful about his reply to her request. She noted the way his facial expression suddenly became somber and the intuition a woman possessed surely made itself present.

Dean sighed as he spoke, "I have to be honest with you, Rae."

She waited as he continued to look at her, and she felt her body tense at the sudden change of mood Dean emitted.

"But you have to believe me when I say that this was something I did a long time ago and something I did as a stupid and young kid."

"Dean." Rae expressed in a firm voice, a hint of fear surrounding it.

"Leah, Lindsey's cousin? We dated in high school for some time," Dean began, his eyes finding themselves wandering around the room as he tried to find the right words to tell his fiancée the truth about his past. "We had sex for the first time the night of junior prom and by the time summer before senior year came around, she found out she was pregnant."

Rae began to open her mouth, but the words simply wouldn't have made sense even if she tried to form a sentence.

"And I was a stupid sixteen year old kid who didn't want to ruin his future so I packed up and left to live with my grandmother up in Bear Creek. That was the last time I'd seen Leah and Lindsey."

"You—" Rae attempted to speak, "and the baby?"

"Lindsey says Leah and the kid live in Seattle now," Dean explained further.

"Your kid, Dean," Rae shook her head, "Unbelievable." She removed her eyes from his, returning it to the computer screen, "I think you need to go."

"Rae—"

"Just go," Rae refused to hear any more from him, and as he pleaded with his eyes for her to hear him out once more, she continued, "Can you just…go? Please?"

Dean slowly nodded his head, turning around to exit the boutique. He sat in his car, wondering how 24 hours could change his life so quickly.


"Foul," Lucas called to his younger brother who had a disbelief expression on his face, "I call foul."

"What?" Nathan dribbled the ball before tucking it in under his arm.

"Dude, you elbowed me in the face." Lucas clarified, his finger pointing to his face.

"I barely touched you," Nathan shook his head, but passed the ball to his brother anyway. The bounce of the basketball made a slightly stronger impact than usual when Lucas caught it, giving him the hint that the younger Scott had something else on his mind.

That, and he missed the last five shots he attempted from the three-point line.

And a dunk.

"You all right, Nate?" Lucas asked with concern as he held the ball in his hands.

Nathan placed both hands on his hips, catching his breath, "I'm good. Just shoot."

Lucas dribbled the ball, his eyes still on his brother as he took a shot from the free-throw line, hitting nothing but net. "There. Now tell me what's wrong."

"It's just…it's Brooke," Nathan admitted, causing his brother to raise an eyebrow in curiosity.

"What about Brooke?"

"It's just…this morning she told me she was leaving for L.A. tonight," Nathan explained, recalling the conversation with Brooke that same morning.

Lucas's face grew with confusion, "Wh—tonight?"

"Yep," Nathan nodded, still surprised, "She got this chance to launch her maternity line there so…she's leaving."

"Wow," Lucas nodded, somewhat understanding why Brooke would take the opportunity in a heartbeat. He did, however, get the feeling that there was more to his brother's frustration than her departure. "You worried about the kids?"

"Of course," Nathan scoffed, "Jamie's gonna be devastated, he adores her. And Gracie, I mean, she's probably too young to even know but I'm sure she'll miss having her around."

"What about you?" Lucas finally asked, especially since it was still a shock to Peyton and him that Brooke moved in a year ago.

"It's not so much about me," Nathan looked out past his brother, his eyes landing on the river, watching it move by.

"But it is," Lucas tried to get his attention back, "you just don't want to admit that because of Haley."

"To the point, aren't we?" Nathan shook his head, although the words his brother held were practically true, "I had a dream about her the other night. It was the first time I'd dreamt about her since Brooke and I became…us. I guess I thought it was some sort of sign from Haley."

"Why, did she come after you with a butcher knife?" Lucas joked, hoping to lighten the subject just a little.

"No," Nathan managed to curve his lips upwards, "I was kissing Brooke in my dream, and she suddenly disappeared. Haley was looking at me, but she didn't' look mad…she just had a smile on her face."

Lucas tried to picture Haley's smile in his mind, and he couldn't help but feel nostalgic of the times they'd grown up together and she flashed her perfect smile whenever she laughed at his stupid jokes or made fun of the way he couldn't score with Peyton Sawyer back in middle school.

Nathan proceeded to continue when Lucas failed to find the words to speak, "So I just held on to that smile and I ended up leaving Brooke out in the process."

"Hmm," Lucas finally spoke once again, his eyes squinting as his brother's eyes finally returned to his, "So you think this isn't gonna work out with Brooke?"

"I dunno, not right now, probably," Nathan admitted, "I guess I just didn't expect for all this to happen so fast, her leaving so suddenly."

"Maybe it'll give you guys the time to figure things out, being apart," Lucas suggested, "I'm sure it'll work out in the end."

"You don't have a problem with that?" Nathan asked him, surprised that Brooke's former boyfriend and his brother was more than supportive of the situation.

"I have no valid reason to have a problem," Lucas answered, "Look, Brooke and I…we were a perfect mess. She's a beautiful person and I took her for granted, so I don't deserve her love. I do, however, think she deserves someone who'll make her happier than I ever could and if that means it's my brother, then I'm all for it. If it's not you, then let's at least hope the guy has some kind of game on the court so we can school him the Scott way."

Nathan chuckled at the joke, but remained quiet to let his brother continue, "Seriously, Nathan. Don't worry about what I think because I'm her ex and I'm Haley's best friend. What matters is your happiness and your children's happiness. That's all I could ask for, and I'm sure that's all Haley could ever ask for. Give it some time, you guys will be fine."

"Yeah," Nathan nodded his head, "Guess we'll have to wait and see."


Brooke sat on her bed in the guestroom of the Scott household, her bags packed and waiting beside her. In her hand, she held a photo of herself with Nathan and the kids the day they brought home Gracie from the hospital one year prior. She'd just come back from spending the day with Peyton and telling her about her plans that came so suddenly.

Peyton, although overjoyed she'd be seeing her best friend more often once she and Lucas went back to Los Angeles, was saddened by the situation that she'd be leaving behind the family she'd loved so much. Dropping Brooke off at the house, Peyton promised to return that evening to take her to the airport as soon as she finishes having dinner with Lucas.

The sound of the front door opening and closing was heard from outside her bedroom, and she didn't seem surprised when Jamie appeared at her doorway. Deb greeted her as she headed upstairs to nursery with Gracie, leaving the boy with his godmother in her room.

Jamie's eyes caught the bags laying on the bed, "Where are you going, Aunt Brooke?"

Brooke sighed, knowing this would be the hardest goodbye she was about to give, "Come here, buddy." She gestured for Jamie to come closer, placing him on her lap as she wrapped both arms around his little body.

"You know how much Aunt Brooke loves you and Gracie, right?" Brooke said to him, her chin resting on his head.

"Uh-huh," Jamie answered, unaware of the news she was about to give him.

"And I want you to know that you and your sister did nothing wrong, okay?"

Jamie sighed, "Aunt Brooke, what's going on?"

"Sweetie," Brooke gave his head a kiss before continuing, "I'm going back to L.A. tonight."

"L.A.?"

"Mmhmm," Brooke nodded as she kept her lips on the boy's head.

"Are you coming back tomorrow?" Jamie asked, his head turning to see her face.

Brooke looked into the boy's eyes and replied, "No, buddy. I won't be coming back until Uncle Dean's wedding in a couple of weeks."

"Oh, so it's like a vacation? I wanna go!" Jamie smiled excitedly.

Brooke couldn't help but smile in return, despite giving him even more bad news, "Kind of, but after the wedding, I'm going back to L.A."

"So…you're gonna see Uncle Lucas and Peyton every day?"

She nodded at the question, "Um, sorta. But I'm mostly there for work, Jamie. Remember all those dresses I made your mom? This big company in L.A. wants me to make more so they can sell them in stores."

Jamie tried to understand, but still confused, "Why can't you sell them here? You have a store here."

"It doesn't really work like that, sweetie," Brooke explained, "My store here is pretty small. Tree Hill just isn't a big market for all that right now. There's way more people in L.A. that it'll be exposed to."

Jamie's face grew somber, "But how long is it gonna take for you to sell your clothes out there and then come back here?"

"Uh," Brooke was finding it harder and harder to explain the situation to her godson, "I dunno when I'm coming back, Jamie. I'm gonna be so busy over there—"

"What about me and Gracie and Daddy? Who's gonna take care of us?" Jamie asked her, his eyes full of sadness.

Brooke tried to fight the emotions that were beginning to overwhelm her at this moment, "Daddy's gonna take good care of you guys. And you have Nanny Deb and Grandpa Dan! Uncle Dean and Rae will still be here too—"

"But it's not the same," Jamie replied in an almost whiny voice, "You're Aunt Brooke. You're family."

She could barely contain herself at the words spoken by Jamie, and all she could do was bring him closer to her and kiss his head once more before she tightened her grip around him, afraid to let go. The two shared a silent goodbye, unaware that Deb had overheard the conversation soon after she's put Grace down to bed. The doorbell rang once more, prompting Deb to open it, revealing Lucas standing before her.


Dean entered the dim bedroom to find his fiancée sitting on the bed, the covers up to her waist as she leaned against the headboard. He'd just returned from hanging out with Nathan, who let him in on Brooke's departure that evening.

"So Brooke's leaving tonight," Dean decided to say as a way of breaking the ice.

Rae sighed, "Yeah, I know."

"So she'll be back for the wedding, right?" Dean asked, as he approached the bed closer. Rae didn't respond, and he noticed her fiddling with the engagement ring on her finger.

"What's wrong?" Dean asked, worriedly.

Rae looked up, "I was just thinking."

"About?"

"Everything, you and me. You having a kid in Seattle." Rae replied in honesty.

"I'm sorry I dropped that bomb on you this morning," Dean apologized, hoping she wouldn't emit the same negative reaction as she did at the store that day.

"I guess I'm just so stressed out with everything going on—all the wedding plans and Brooke leaving. It's a lot to handle, so when you told me about having a child somewhere in Seattle it just…I didn't expect it."

Dean sat on the bed, facing her, "Truth be told, I never expected to tell you. But…I wanted to be honest with you like you have with me. So that's pretty much the most interesting story about my past."

"Story," Rae slightly scoffed, "I was just feeling insecure about Lindsey showing up and you two spending that day together, I guess it felt like she knew you more than I did,"

"Well, of course she knew me, I grew up with her. But that doesn't replace the fact that you know me just as well, if not better. She knew me as a kid, and honestly, I think I'd rather have you know about the man I am now than the idiot I was back then."

Rae let out a soft laugh, causing Dean to respond with a smile, "I did freak out about that a little bit."

"Yeah, a little bit," Dean played along.

Rae's smile slowly softened, "What about Leah's kid?"

"I don't know," Dean shrugged, "I guess if they're doing fine, there's no reason for me to suddenly appear and mess everything up, right?"

"I guess," Rae agreed, trying her best understand the situation better, "That better be the biggest news you have, Dean Winchester."

He laughed in response, holding out his hand to touch hers, the one that held the ring he'd given her, "I swear to you, that's it."


"What happened to Peyton?" Brooke asked as she sat in the rental car, Lucas taking his place in the driver seat.

"She didn't feel too well," Lucas explained as he began to drive themselves to the airport, "So I offered. Besides, I wanted to talk to you before you left."

"You can talk to me anytime in L.A.," Brooke smiled, turning her head to look at him, "it'll be the three of us again, minus the love triangle of death."

Lucas chuckled, "Yeah."

"Ok, so what'd you wanna talk about? If this has anything to do with me and Nathan and the kids, I think I'm already done shooting myself in the head. I've already heard it from Peyton and Rae, and even Jamie."

"Well," Lucas began, "Then I guess you'll have to reload that gun, Brooke Davis."

"Come on, Lucas," Brooke sighed in exasperation.

"Just hear me out," Lucas defended himself, "I know you're tired of hearing it but I just wanna let you in on something."

"Fine," Brooke rolled her eyes, her arm resting on the window of the car and her head leaning on her hand.

"I know whatever's going on between you and Nathan is getting complicated for you two," He started, his eyes occasionally glancing from her to the road, "But I don't want you to feel like you're doing anything wrong."

Brooke continued to look straight ahead, "Really?"

"Yeah," Lucas continued, "You'll be fine, Brooke. Give yourselves some time to figure it all out, even if it hurts."

--

Nathan stepped into his house to find his mother on the couch, stroking Jamie's hair as he laid his head on her lap. Deb held up a finger to her lips, letting Nathan know that his son was asleep.

"I finally got him to stop crying," Deb explained as she looked up at her son.

Nathan raised an eyebrow as he approached the couch closer, "Why was he crying?"

"Brooke was saying goodbye," Deb answered, surprised that Nathan didn't seem to be aware that the brunette had already left.

"She's gone?" Nathan asked in a slight panic as he headed to the guest room that she'd occupied in the last year. Finding it dark and empty, the reality of her leaving was slowly sinking in.

"She just left, Nate," His mother called out from the living room, "Lucas took her to the airport half an hour ago."

Nathan didn't think twice to grab the keys from his pocket and head out the door, straight to the airport in hopes of catching Brooke before she boarded her plane.

--

The airport had been busier than usual and Brooke stood still as she looked down at her watch. Her flight would be boarding soon and she turned to Lucas, who placed an arm around her as they stood side by side.

"You okay?" Lucas asked, his chin resting against her head.

"Mmhmm," Brooke answered softly, "I just can't believe I'm leaving Tree Hill again."

"You'll be back, pretty girl" Lucas assured her, "I can name three reasons."

Brooke smiled, knowing he was referring to his brother and the children. She'd been afraid to admit that the day had gone by so quickly that she didn't have a proper goodbye with Nathan, especially since they'd been interrupted by Peyton that morning. Then her attention quickly switched back to the nicknamed he'd given her back in high school.

"Pretty girl and boyfriend," She said with the same smile on her face, "God, we were a mess together."

"We had our moments," Lucas recalled, "We've been through a lot, Brooke. I don't think anyone else could've gotten me through the school shooting and Keith's death but you."

"I tried my best," Brooke nodded as she remembered the impact both incidents had on Lucas back then, "We weren't perfect, but I think at that point in our lives, we needed each other and we tried our best. We had a great love story while it lasted, but our chapter ended a long time ago. "

"I love you, Brooke, you know that?"

"I know," Brooke leaned closer to Lucas as he tightened his grip on her shoulder, "I love you, too, Luke."

"So," He released his hold on her as he faced her, "I'll see you in L.A."

"You'll see me in L.A.," Brooke nodded in agreement, "Thanks for everything, Luke."

"Anytime," He brought his hand on her shoulder once more, bringing her in for an embrace as she wrapped her arms around his body, "Have a safe flight."

Brooke let herself linger in Lucas's embrace for a few moments as she nodded. She closed her eyes, wishing she'd had a chance to say goodbye to Nathan. Lucas placed a hand behind her head, stroking her hair as she leaned against him. The sound of her plane boarding blared over the speakers and she slowly pulled away from him as she picked up her bag and headed for the gate.

--

Nathan scrambled through the busy airport in search of Brooke or Lucas. He'd managed to spot a few people resembling the two, but his heart suddenly began to beat faster when he saw Lucas a few yards away watching a woman walk away from him.

"Brooke!" Nathan called out, hoping she'd hear him through the noise of the crowd and the environment.

Nathan's eyes watched the woman carefully as he maneuvered his way through the surprisingly massive amount of people, finally making it beside his older brother.

"Luke," Nathan called out.

Lucas turned to find Nathan beside him, seemingly out of breath, "Nate? What are you doing here?"

"I didn't get a chance to say goodbye to her," He explained, his eyes still watching the woman who'd fallen in line in front of the gate. "Brooke!" He called out once more, but received a confused look from his brother.

"Hey, hey," Lucas tried to get Nathan's attention, "I'm sorry, man. She's already in the plane."

"What?" Nathan shifted his eyes from the brunette, to his brother, and then back to the brunette…who was definitely not Brooke Davis.

"She got on the plane a few minutes ago," Lucas explained as he watched the disheartened look on Nathan's face, "I'm sorry, man."

He watched the gate close, and the plane slowly begin to make its way to the runway. All he could do now was watch her plane fly away and wait for her to come back in time for the wedding in a couple of weeks. Nathan stood in silence as he finally caught his breath, disappointed that he hadn't gotten there sooner.


A/N: Don't fret, Brathan fans! We still have the wedding coming up: remember, Brooke is the maid of honor and Nathan is the best man. *ahem*