Epilogue: Closure

Standing on the edge of the walkway, her eyes stared firmly at the large white building in front of her. Brooke couldn't even remember the last time she'd been here. It was sometime before she moved back to Tree Hill, which was over three years before, almost four now that she thought about it. It had been a long time. And it had been a long time since she'd last seen her too. It would be a lie to say that the break hadn't been nice; in fact, it had been just what Brooke needed. But this silence had gone on long enough. It was time to move on, to get the closure she'd never fully gotten. And that was why she was here now, ready to do just that.

Finally, her legs started moving again and she found herself drifting towards the front door. She didn't even pause to think before pressing her finger to the doorbell. It wasn't much longer before the door opened and Victoria Davis stood in front of her, eyes wide with the surprise of seeing her daughter's face to face for the first time in a year and a half.

"Brooke," Victoria murmured.

"Hi, Victoria," she said, an awkward smile forming on her lips.

For a few moments, neither said anything. Victoria, it seemed, was slowly getting over the shock of seeing her daughter again, while Brooke wasn't quite sure where to begin.

"Would you..." Victoria trailed off, clearing her throat. "Would you like to come in?"

"No," she softly said, "that's okay. I've actually got to a plane to catch, so I can't stay long."

"Oh, yes. That's fine."

Silence again. Brooke shuffled around awkwardly, feeling more uncomfortable than she had in a long time. Her hand moved to rest on her swollen belly. It didn't help that her baby seemed to sitting right on her bladder, giving her the very sudden urge of needing to use the restroom.

"Congratulations, Brooke," Victoria said, nodding down to her stomach. "You've wanted to be a mother for a long time. I'm glad that you're finally getting the chance."

"Thank you," she said, smiling sincerely.

"And thank you for inviting me to your wedding. I was very honored."

"Thank you for coming... I saw you in the back."

"I was going to come see you after the ceremony, but I thought it would be best if I slipped away quietly. I didn't want to ruin your day."

"You wouldn't have," Brooke said quietly. "I was happy to know that you came."

Victoria nodded, leaving them to silence again. Brooke thought of the wedding that had taken place over three months ago. She had debated over and over again whether she and Lucas should invite her mother, but in the end had decided that it was only right for her mother to at least get an invitation to her daughter's wedding, even if she didn't come. And Brooke hadn't thought she would. But she had. And that was probably one of the things that had spurred Brooke to take this last minute detour on her way to the airport.

"Victoria," Brooke began, finally finding the words she needed, "I just wanted you to know that I've forgiven you. Actually, I forgave you awhile ago, it's just taken me awhile to actually find to courage to tell you. So it doesn't matter anymore. What's done is done and I believe that you are truly sorry, that you regret it with all your heart. I really do believe that. And I forgive you."

There was rarely a time in Brooke's life that she'd seen her mother let out any emotion other than anger or arrogance, but this was one of those few moments that Victoria allowed Brooke to see her softer side, her vulnerable side.

"Thank you, Brooke," she murmured. "That...that means everything to me."

Nodding slowly, Brooke felt as if she'd done what she came here to do. There was nothing left to do but move forward.

"Well, I've got to get going," Brooke said.

"Yes, of course." For a moment, it almost looked like Victoria was going to hug her, but then she backed slowly away, putting the distance between them once again. "Good luck, Brooke. With everything."

Brooke nodded again, but her mother's words meant more than she'd ever let her know. Then she sent Victoria another soft smile before turning around and heading down the walk. It felt like a large weight had been lifted from her shoulders, like she was leaving behind that night once and for all. She couldn't imagine her and Victoria ever having much of a relationship, even after this, but at least they could both live with the fact that there were no hard feelings, that all was forgiven. They finally had their closure.

And it felt good.

888

"Okay," Peyton said, standing up and waving Haley over. "I think we're done for tonight."

Looking pleased, Haley stood up from the piano and joined Peyton in her office. Things were going quite well for Peyton Sawyer. Red Bedroom records was thriving, thanks to the combination of Mia and Jake, and now she was working with Haley on finishing her first full album, which had been put on hiatus due to Haley's pregnancy last year. They were still in the beginning stages, with Haley mostly working on writing the songs, but it was an exciting time for both of them.

As the two of them lounged on the couch, Haley pointed over to her desk.

"Your phone's beeping."

She lazily stood back up and reached for the phone, which was surely emanating a red light that signaled she had been left a message. Leaning against the desk, she lifted the phone to her ear, already sure of whose voice she'd be hearing in a few short seconds. Sure enough, his sweet voice flitted into her ear, sending the usual jolt of excitement that she got whenever she heard him speak.

"Hey, it's me...Look, Peyt, I'm really sorry, but I'm not gonna be able to make it into town this weekend. Things are kind of crazy here and long story short, it's just impossible to get away. But I promise I'll be there next weekend. I love you."

Disappointment flooded through her as his voice faded away. She hadn't seen him in two weeks and that was two weeks too long. And now it would be another week before she saw him again. She was a little angry too, because he'd promised over and over again that he'd be able to come this weekend.

"He can't make it?" Haley asked, a knowing look in her eye.

"Yeah," she answered with a sigh. "He says it's impossible to get away."

Haley gave her a sympathetic smile. "I'm sorry, Peyton. At least this distance thing won't be going on much longer, though."

Peyton agreed with her there. He'd be moving to Tree Hill soon, as soon as he could sort out everything back home. He couldn't get here fast enough. And then she felt horrible about being annoyed with him, because he was giving up so much to come here and live with her. His job, his friends, his beautiful home that he'd worked to hard to buy. But it was worth it, he kept assuring her. His life, after all, was in Tree Hill now, since that was where she was.

"Well, I'm gonna get going," Haley said, standing up, "or else the kids will starve. How Nathan functions without me, I really don't know."

Peyton laughed. "I don't know either. I'll see you tomorrow, Hales."

A second later, Haley was gone, and Peyton was left alone in her dark lit office. She'd gone through this whole day with the hope of seeing him tonight, of spending Friday night with just the two of them, alone with no interruptions. And then tomorrow they were supposed to join Brooke and Lucas and the others at Nathan and Haley's for dinner. But it looked like she'd be flying solo again this weekend.

It was okay, though. She'd make the best of it. When she got home, she'd call him and they'd talk for hours and that would be good enough.

So she packed up her things and headed home to her empty apartment. It was a little weird to be living alone again. She'd spent over two years living with Brooke, so to not have her best friend there to greet her after a long day at work was still taking some getting used to. But her newly married friend was now living with Lucas, and that was the way it was supposed to be. Peyton was more than happy for them, but on days like today, when she was missing her own boyfriend, she could have really used Brooke's comfort.

As Peyton drove home, she thought of him and how much she missed the feel of his arms around her, and his lips against hers. Long distance relationships were hard. There was simply no denying that. But in many ways, they had it easy. He came to see her every other weekend and she went to see him the weekends in between. It worked well for the most part. And soon he'd be moving in with her and they'd really be able to move forward in their relationship. It was good. And she was happy. More happy than she'd ever been. She had no doubts that he was the guy she was meant to be with, that there was no one else for her. Being with him felt completely right, and no one else had ever given her that feeling.

It was dark by the time she arrived home. As she treaded up the stairs, she realized just how tired she was. She'd gotten up early that morning to meet Mia for coffee, and then she'd spent much of her day working with a new band she'd signed on to her label, and after that, she'd spent her evening working with Haley. It had been a long day and she was ready to sink into her bed, call her boy, and relax.

Digging her keys out of her purse, she unlocked her door and stepped into the pitch black apartment. She blindly sought the light switch, finding it a second later. The room lit up and she shut the door, sighing as she lazily threw her stuff down onto the ground.

And then she froze.

Because there he was, standing in the middle of her very small living room, a crooked smile on his lips as he met her gaze. And then she was running right at him, and he laughed as she threw his arms around him and held her close.

"Hey, you," he said, chuckling as he placed a soft kiss on her lips.

"What are you doing here?" she asked as she pulled away. "I thought you said you couldn't make it?"

"You didn't seriously think I was gonna miss seeing you this weekend, did you?"

"You can be pretty convincing," she said, swatting his arm. "Do you know how disappointed I was when I got your message?"

"Sorry," he said, his tone soft as his hand cupped the side of her cheek, "but I had to do it this way. I wanted to surprise you."

"Obviously. Well, you did a good job if makes you feel better."

He grinned. "It does."

Unable to help herself, she pulled him in for another kiss. She'd missed him so much. Life without him was wrong. Leaning her forehead against his, she let out a content sigh.

"I love you, Jake."

His hand ran up and down her back, and he smiled, kissing the tip of her nose.

"I love you too," Jake murmured.

Jake Jagielski. The boy she'd always love. He was the one for her. There was no doubt, nothing to give her any reason to think otherwise. He was just perfect for her. It made her wonder how she could have ever considered any other man.

She thought of Lucas, and, more specifically, Julian. She did not regret the relationship she had with Julian, nor did she regret his decision to come to Tree Hill to attempt to make a movie out of Lucas' book. Because if he hadn't, she wouldn't have ever really gotten to know the real Julian Baker, the one who she loved as one of her best friends. The one who loved her as one of his own best friends as well. And that was what they were: friends. And it was all they were destined to be. They had both come to terms with this over the time that had gone by. Neither could deny that there was an attraction between them, but the fact of the matter was that Jake held a very large piece of Peyton's heart, and he always would. With Jake in the picture, there was simply no way she could fully give herself to Julian. They both knew that now, and it was better off this way.

And now she was finding herself lost in Jake's eyes. They had finally gotten their someday. After all these years, their love had triumphed over all others, and they were getting the chance to be happy with the people they were really meant to be with. They'd gotten back together over eight months ago. After months and months of circling around each other, just like Lucas had said it would, her heart simply knew that it was Jake she wanted.

"Did you leave Jenny at your parents'?" she asked.

"Nathan and Haley's actually. She's been missing Jamie, so I thought they could have a little sleepover."

Peyton chuckled softly, thinking of the little girl she thought of as her daughter. She loved Jenny like she'd loved no one before, and she hoped to someday officially call Jenny her own.

"I'm sorry about teasing you earlier," Jake softly said. She was still encompassed in his arms, their bodies molding together perfectly, like they were made for each other. "I just wanted tonight to be perfect."

She looked up at him. "Why?"

He took a step back, releasing her from his hold, and he was smiling nervously, his eyes lit up with the same passion she held for him.

"Because of this."

And then he was falling to the ground, landing on one knee, a small, black box materializing in one hand. And she finally realized his meaning, and what he was about to do.

"We've gone through so much to get to this point, and I can honestly say that you're the only one for me. I can't imagine anyone else being my wife or Jenny's mother. So, Peyton Sawyer, will you marry me?"

Her breath caught in her throat. Peyton was a crier. She'd always been a crier. And this was no exception. Except the tears that slipped down her cheeks were happy ones, to match the fact that this was probably the happiest moment in her life thus far.

She remembered when Lucas had asked her this same question, and how wrong it had felt. And then she thought of when she'd asked Jake this question years ago, and how right it had felt. It only felt right with him because he was the one she was meant to marry. He was her soul mate.

So there were no doubts in her mind as she very quickly and eagerly nodded, her lips twitching into an irreplaceable smile.

"Jake, yes, of course I'll marry you!"

The smile on his face was perhaps the biggest she'd ever seen on him, and she was sure hers matched his. She threw herself into his arms again and laughed as he swung her in the air. And then he was sliding the ring onto her finger, and she was still crying, but it was okay, because she had a very good excuse. He gently wiped the tears from her face with a brush of his hand, before cupping her face in his hands, and kissing her.

This was it. She'd found her way, and so had Jake, and there was no turning back. And she didn't want to turn back either. Because Jake Jagielski was the man for her. They were simply meant to be.

888

It was getting rather late, but Lucas didn't care. Brooke would be home any minute. After over a week in New York City for work, she was coming home. She didn't often take trips to New York anymore, so naturally he had felt the strain of her absence very strongly and he'd missed his wife like crazy.

His wife. He didn't think he could ever get enough of calling her that. Brooke Scott, his wife, his pretty girl, the mother of his baby girl, who'd be arriving in four short months. He really was the luckiest guy alive. He had everything he ever wanted, most of which, if he was being honest, he didn't really deserve.

He glanced down at the screen saver on his laptop. He'd picked up his computer earlier to write, but mostly he'd just stared at the picture of him and Brooke on their wedding day. The best day of his life, so far at least. He had a feeling the birth of his daughter would take the top spot, but he couldn't know until it happened.

In many ways, he and Brooke had moved quite fast in their relationship. They'd gotten back together around a year and a half ago, were engaged after around seven months of dating, discovered Brooke was pregnant a few months after that, only to marry a couple weeks later. All in all, he felt like they'd crammed quite a bit into the past year and a half, but he didn't mind that they'd moved faster than planned. He was quite happy with the way things were going, actually. He'd wanted for so long to be a husband and a father and he was finally getting that chance.

There was a slamming of a door and he automatically jumped in surprise. His lips twitched into a smile as he twisted his head around to find her standing at the front door. She dumped her suitcase down with a sigh, looking a bit wary, and he pounced up to greet her.

"Hey, Pretty Girl," he said, and he was happy to see her smile as he walked over to her.

"Boy, am I glad to see you, Luke," she said, falling right into his arms, where she belonged.

He ran his hands up and down her back soothingly. "Long trip?"

She nodded, digging her head into his chest. "Exhausting."

"I missed you," he said, smiling down at her.

"I missed you too."

He pulled away in order to bend down and brush his lips against her growing belly. "And I missed you too, baby girl."

He heard Brooke chuckle as she playfully ruffled his hair. "Why don't you come up here and give me a kiss?"

He didn't protest. Cupping her face with his hands, he pulled her towards him and met her lips for the first time in a week. The feel of her lips on his was a taste he'd never appreciate enough, one he would never take granted.

"So I have something to tell you," Brooke said as she pulled away just slightly. She led him over to the couch and they sat down. He waited curiously for her to continue. "I went to see my mother."

He wasn't expecting that. "Really?"

"Yeah. I just thought it was time...I told her that she was forgiven, that it's all in the past."

"That's really great, Brooke," he said.

She nodded. "I just couldn't go on without getting this closure, you know? And now I really feel like I've moved on from that night, and I think it's a big relief for Victoria too. In some strange way, that night changed her too, and for the better I think."

"I think it did too," he agreed. He sent her an encouraging smile as he wrapped an arm around her. Her head rested on his shoulder, and he gently kissed her forehead. "I'm proud of you, Pretty Girl."

"Thanks."

"So, was work really that exhausting?"

"It wasn't horrible," she admitted, "but I'm not really used to the whole office atmosphere anymore, so it was kind of stressful." Just as he opened his mouth to say something, she sent him a look. "I know, I know, stress isn't good for the baby. You don't need to remind me."

He laughed. "That wasn't what I was going to say."

"Don't even try to lie, Lucas. I swear to God, both you and Karen have been the stress police these past few months. Anytime the word comes up, you've got this whole lecture up your sleeve. It gets annoying after awhile."

"Well, fine, then," he said, pretending to be offended, even though he really found her annoyance amusing, "I'll stop with the stress lectures... But excuse me for wanting to make sure you and my child are safe."

She rolled her eyes. "Guilt trip isn't going to work, Luke."

"Fine, but can I say one last thing?"

"No."

"Please?"

"Ugh. Fine."

"I don't think you should take anymore trips to New York until after the baby comes. Not just because of the s-t-r-e-s-s it brings, but because I want you all to myself for as long as I can."

"You want me all to yourself, huh?" she said, chuckling. "Well, that shouldn't be a problem. I'm not planning anymore trips, not that I've been taking a lot anyway. I kind of want to take advantage of the two of us before we become three."

He grinned suggestively, kissing her again. "How about we start now?"

"I say that sounds like a very good idea," she said, giggling.

Just as they were indeed about to get started, though, Brooke's phone let out an obnoxious beep. Lucas groaned in response.

"It's just a text from Peyton," Brooke said, shoving Lucas' hand off of her breast. "Hold on, this will just take a second."

He read over her shoulder the message Peyton had sent:

Welcome home, B. Scott! I know you're busy catching up with that husband of yours, but call me in the morning because we've got a lot of catching up of our own to do. Love you, B. ps - I'm kind of engaged :D

Great. Now Brooke would be completely distracted by the fact that her best friend was getting married, and their alone time would be put on temporary hold again.

Sure enough, Brooke let out an excited cry, clapping her hand together happily.

"Peyton's engaged, Luke!" she announced.

"That's great," he said, shaking his head at Brooke's over the top enthusiasm. Then again, this was a big moment and, as he got over the frustration of the bad timing of the interruption, he realized just how happy he was for Peyton and Jake. They both deserved this. And it was most definitely about time too.

"So," he said with a smirk, "where were we?"

He was quickly back in his previous state of mind as his lips fell to her neck. But she pulled away, and his fears were confirmed as she stood up and debated whether or not to call Peyton now or later. Confined to the truth that there was little he could do to distract Brooke in this moment, he settled back into the couch and watched Brooke disappear upstairs to do only God knows what. He chuckled to himself. He loved that woman more than anything in the world, quirks and all.

"Husband!" she called down to him.

"What?"

Then her head poked out at the top of the stairs. "Aren't you coming?"

"I thought you were calling Peyton?" he said in confusion.

She sent him her devilish grin and, in her low, husky voice, said, "Peyton can wait."

And then he was flying up the stairs, leaving all thoughts of anything other than Brooke in his wake.

888

This, Brooke decided, had to be what heaven was like. Surrounded by her family and closest friends, she couldn't imagine anything better than this. She was currently sitting in one of the lawn chairs in the backyard of Nathan and Haley's house, observing all the wonderful people in her life.

Across the pool were Haley and Nathan. Nathan, manning the grill, kissed the top of Haley's head before playfully tickling the adorable and newest Scott, Hannah, who was cradled in her mother's arms. Jamie played in the pool with Lily and Jenny (his "girlfriend" as both Brooke and Peyton liked to tease him). The Naley clan, as Brooke so fondly called them, was stronger than ever. The one couple that gave Brooke hope had not failed her yet, and she doubted they ever would.

Talking to Haley was the woman that Brooke considered to be her true mother, Karen. She, Andy, and Lily had moved back to Tree Hill over a year ago, much to everyone's delight. Brooke loved having her mother-in-law around. Their relationship had only grown closer over the past year, and she was closer to Karen than she'd ever been, which said quite a lot.

Rachel was lounging next to her on one of the lawn chairs in a red bikini, eyes closed as she tried desperately to get a tan, since summer had finally arrived and, as Rachel constantly complained, she was as pale as a ghost.

"You're blocking the sun, slut," Rachel mumbled, cracking open an eye to glare at her.

Brooke rolled her eyes, but shifted over slightly so Rachel wouldn't complain any more.

"You're boyfriend totally can't get enough of you over there," Brooke mentioned.

Rachel just laughed. "Of course he can't. With this body, your boy probably can't get enough of me either."

"Shut up," Brooke said, playfully slapping Rachel's flat (and already very tan, no matter what the redhead claimed) stomach.

Rachel cracked open the other eye to catch Julian's gaze, and Brooke found that eye sex was the only way to describe the way the two were looking at each other. A second later, Julian had crossed the yard. He sat next to Rachel, smirking as he placed a kiss on her neck and whispered something into her ear. Rachel rolled her eyes, and Brooke guessed that whatever he'd said had been deemed cheesy by Rachel.

Rachel and Julian. Now that had been a shock to Brooke, although when she really stopped to think about it, it shouldn't have been. The two were so perfect for each other it wasn't even funny. They had only been officially dating for a few months now, but Brooke knew for a fact that there were many hook ups prior to an actual committed relationship. Their relationship was full of drama, as you'd expect from Rachel. They were one of those on again/off again couples, but they were both head over heels for each other, even if they didn't like to admit it.

Really, though, Brooke was quite sure that Rachel had been Julian's saving grace. He'd had it bad for Peyton when he'd first came to Tree Hill. That was obvious to pretty much everyone. Julian had visited Tree Hill often after the movie fell through, and at first it was to see Peyton, but then he'd struck up a friendship with Rachel that quickly turned into something more. Soon enough, Peyton had come to terms that she and Julian weren't meant to be, that it was Jake she wanted, but Brooke was sure that Julian's relationship with Rachel had greatly cushioned this blow. Now it seemed that he'd completely moved on from Peyton and was very happy with with the fiery redhead.

Brooke was happy for them too. Julian made Rachel a better person, whether she liked to admit it or not. What's more, Peyton was very happy for the two of them too. Peyton and Rachel had a playfully mean relationship at best, but Peyton wanted both Julian and Rachel to both be happy and, as she'd told Brooke, she doubted there was a better match for Rachel than Julian.

And speaking of Peyton, her newly engaged best friend had finally arrived, no doubt late from celebrating the big development in her and Jake's relationship. Brooke waved her over excitedly, leaping up from her chair and throwing her arms around her best friend as she arrived.

"I'm so happy for you P. Sawyer," she mumbled.

She was pretty sure she was about to cry. Damn hormones. But she pulled it together as she finally let Peyton go.

"Thanks, Brooke," Peyton said, beaming.

"Congratulations, Peyt," Julian said, smiling over at her. Brooke watched as he shared a hug with Peyton, and was glad that the two of them could remain such good friends. Peyton was very good at being friends with her exes, it seemed, which Brooke could only imagine took a lot of work.

"So does this mean that Jake's officially off limits?" Rachel questioned.

Both Julian and Peyton threw her a glare.

Soon, Haley and Karen joined them, all gathering around Peyton's outstretched hand to admire the ring. Brooke, however, was distracted as she spotted Lucas from across the pool. He was talking to Nathan, Jake, and Andy, and he was holding little Hannah in his arms. Brooke watched him blow a kiss into the baby's chubby cheek and the little girl giggled cheerfully.

He was going to be such a great father. She couldn't wait until their own daughter was here. Brooke's hand grazed her stomach. Just a few more months, and they both will have finally reached their dream of becoming a parent.

Lucas caught her eye a second later, sending her a sweet smile. It was times like these that reminded her just how much she loved him. Sometimes she found it hard to believe that they'd actually made it. That, after all those years apart, they were actually married and starting a family of their own. It was a dream come true, and she wouldn't trade it for anything.

He made his way over to her, handing Hannah to Haley as he reached them. Then he was standing in front of her, his eyes focused on her alone. He brought a hand up to her cheek, brushing a strand of hair from her face.

"I love you, Pretty Girl," he said so softly that only she could hear.

She smiled, falling into his waiting arms. "I love you too."

He twisted her around in his arms so that he was standing right behind her, his arms wrapped around her middle, his hands resting on her stomach, and she smiled contentedly as he kissed her cheek.

Yes, this was the way things were supposed to be. It was as simple as that.


A/N: And that's it. This story is officially over. I hope it didn't disappoint. I know a lot of you wanted a Brucas baby, but there's one on the way, so I figure that counts :D. I just thought this would be a good point in their lives for the epilogue. It still leaves a lot open, I think, so who knows, maybe there will be a sequel? We'll see...

As for my decision to have Peyton end up with Jake, I really felt like this was the best way to go. I can't even begin to tell you how many times I changed my mind on this, but the fact of the matter is that I always came back to Jeyton. It just seemed like the right choice for this story. That being said, it could have easily been Pulian too. I'm not like a certain man who gets you to believe that your couple actually has a chance when in reality he was really just stringing you along the whole time in order to get you to watch. But that's another matter :D. Anyway, I hope most of you are happy with this decision!

So I'm gonna let you all know that as of now, I don't have any new stories in the works. I'm actually going to be taking a little hiatus from writing for the next few months in order to concentrate on real life and school. You can expect some oneshots, though. The Awakening oneshot is still a work-in-progress, but it shouldn't be much longer. I'm probably more than halfway finished with it and since this is over, I can concentrate fully on it. I've also got another random oneshot that's like half-way written, so maybe I'll post that too.

Finally, thank you so much to everyone who has taken the time to read this story, especially those Brucasers who aren't so fond of Peyton— thanks for sticking with me, even though she was a very large focus of this story! And to anyone who reviewed, you guys are awesome! I can't tell you enough that you're really the main reason I keep writing. So thanks so much guys!