Title: Foucault's Pendulum
Summary: "Even he has his limits". Brooke/Julian, but you know me…
Rating: T-ish, slightly on the M side.
Disclaimer: All rights belong to their respective owners.
Notes: So I swore to myself I'll never settle for this pairing – because it is settling no matter how you prefer to swing it. However, two major factors played into writing this – me accepting that Brooke and Julian are, at the moment, a couple, and it doesn't have to contradict my personal shipping preferences and/or deeper beliefs, in fact, it can play into it; and an utmost respect I have for my readers and reviewers. This is for Niki, who wanted me to do Brooke/Julian fanfiction. I hope I did all the characters justice. Other then that – me and BRUCAS123, who I absolutely adore even though barely know, had this mentioned and I can't stress this enough: while Brooke and Karen are basically one and the same for their generations, Julian is for Brooke what Andy is to Karen. And I'm not holding either relationship over their heads, so while I believe that BL have a love that surpasses and transcends all else, I don't consider it denial. BL love each other, they're just in different relationships at the moment. But hey, neither of them is dying tomorrow, and even the end of series is not exactly the end. Rant over.
I believe that you can reach the point where there is no longer any difference between developing the habit of pretending to believe and developing the habit of believing.
The fifth break up, he decides, is the last one.
Even he has his limits.
It's getting progressively hotter by the day, and the local staff seems to go insane with heat, but Julian revels in something so reminiscent of LA. He's never felt much love for the city, so it surprises him to find that he's missing it.
Nevertheless, the new crew makes him happy. Not just because he's sticking it to his father, proving that he's able to finish the job, do it well and without his assistance. The budget is ridiculous compared to what it's been at Paul's studio, yet the new director has a subdued, quiet indie vision that Lucas is happy to go along with, and for that, he hates his current business partner slightly less. Because he honestly wants this movie to be made, and it's important to him. Not as important as Peyton, though.
Definitely not as important as Brooke.
He says good morning to Peyton at the bar where they're both taking water from, since they're apparently the only two people in town who don't drink coffee, he by choice, she because she's breastfeeding, therefore, they don't have to congregate with the crew next to the espresso machine. Next thing he knows, he's being escorted into her office and pushed in a chair. He's not too afraid of the look in her eyes – he still likes feisty – but as she takes the seat beside him instead of the one behind her desk, he knows it's not going to be pretty. Not that he even expects it to be.
"So," she says, looking at him way too closely. "Wanna tell me about it?"
A married Peyton, who's already given birth, plays overprotective friend way too good these days, and he was in love with her for better part of three years, and he can't even deny that there's something still there, yet…
Yet he resents her probably as much as he resents Lucas, for breaking Brooke so beyond repair that there's just nothing he can do anymore. Julian supposes he should have known better then to fall in love. The book should have been sign enough.
And while Peyton can read defeat off his facial expression, she doesn't know how it's been, carefully stepping around insecurities and barely touching scabs of old wounds that can start bleeding any moment. How it's been being broken up with every time the move he makes is wrong, fighting and begging to be let back into her life, her bed, her schedule if not exactly her heart. It's been barely two months since he returned to Tree Hill to shoot a movie, again. Two months, and it's the fifth time they broke up. They're back and forth in pendulum's pattern.
So, "Don't know what you're talking about," he mumbles blandly, and takes a mouthful of water from the bottle he's still holding onto.
Peyton leans back and crosses her arms; doesn't stop staring. Being a mom certainly works wonders for her, in some respects. "Right," she drawls with unmistakable sarcasm.
"Right," he reinstates with a sober and detached nod. Julian stands and moves towards the door, relieved when Peyton makes no effort to stop him. "Great chat, babe. Thanks," his grin feels manufactured across his tight mouth.
Her, "Anytime," follows him all the way to his chair and reverberates in bitter irony as Lucas shoots him dirty looks all day.
Until lunch, when Brooke walks in, smiles a hello in his general direction, walks to the racks and starts fitting the costumes for the next week's scenes. She's always ahead of schedule. She's always too beautiful to be real.
At the sight of her, Julian lets himself breathe.
Around five, he goes to take another bottle of water and Brooke follows him with her latte (two sugars, extra foam).
"Are you OK?" she rasps unsurely, fingering the carton rim that she's taken the cap off of, probing him with eyes that are as much forest green as they are cinnamon brown, with flecks of gold he's not supposed to notice since he's a guy, but does since he's a geek and a nerd no matter what he does and how he looks now.
Julian nods. "Great. You?"
Brooke blinks for a fraction of a second, looking confused and even somewhat hurt, but then confirms that she is indeed great, herself.
"Okay," he offers and has to force his eyes away when they almost begin to water. He can feel her watching him another beat.
"Yeah." She sighs, the most secretive voice he's ever hears wrapping the syllable around his brain as a fog would.
That is that. She walks away first.
Lucas finds him outside, leaning his back to the wall next to the backdoor and wishing desperately that he picked up smoking because this, he imagines, is the moment cigarettes were made for.
"Whatever's happening, you're an idiot if you let go without a fight, you know. This is Brooke Davis. The most incredible woman you'll ever meet." Lucas says it so conversationally, examining the non-existent view of a few garbage cans and a brick wall not five meters away, as if forgetting that his wife is Julian's ex. Then, there's a sudden change in Lucas, almost a break, and that is something Julian never expected to see. It's not a gesture, not a flicker and not a movement but Julian can feel his skin crawl because the atmosphere is so different, raw and cutting and honest. "I could talk to her for you. Maybe even make it look like an accident."
Julian looks down on his shoes and kicks the dirt with more force then should ever be applied to such a futile task. "I'll get back to you on that," he looks up, studying a squinted gaze looking past him far, far away. And decides to let go of all the anger, hatred and resentment.
In that moment, Julian reaches an understanding of Lucas Scott that even his wife probably lacks. He's just as jealous of Julian, as Julian is of him, because Lucas believes that Julian still has a chance to be loved by Brooke, a chance he himself wasted. Julian believes that because of Lucas, nobody will ever get that chance. But, at least they both love her and want her to be happy, more then anything. And unlike him, Lucas will never again be allowed to make sure of it, by himself, his wife and life itself, won't be allowed to even be there. That's a kind of permanent void inside his heart Julian tries desperately to avoid. He did his best, but even he has his limit.
He eats his lunch in Sam's favorite diner and catches up on paperwork. Sam's mother is waiting his table, and he smiles tightly because even he misses the snarky teenager he barely gets to see anymore, not after the sloppy Bollywood Walker family reunion. Julian can't begin to explain what it's doing to Brooke some nights; it's not quite as often as he'd expect, through.
He's too consumed with thoughts to notice her enter the diner and slide in a seat across from him, until Brooke leans over his table to steal a fry and her arm brushes his in the process. When she moves away again, he studies her reflection in the polished surface of the table; commits the curve of her cheekbone, the dent of her dimple, the fall of her hair, the way she taps the fork against her lower lip, to memory.
He sprays sugar over the table when he can't bear to look anymore, and decides to go for a walk.
Peyton calls before he's even cleared the block.
"Lucas is about five seconds away from murdering Missy."
He's already walking back. "I'll meet you at the backdoor."
Forty minutes, a headache, a dozen paparazzi, assorted studio staff, crew and a girl posing as a slutty cheerleader later (and haven't he had this discussion before?), Lucas slaps him on the shoulder to congratulate him on the job well done and promises to buy the first round at Blue Post, their new old drinking spot since Tric is reserved for shooting. Apparently, Anna is staying with Nathan and Haley for the night.
Once there, he and Brooke sit side by side at the bar, Lucas, Peyton and the rest of the guys crowded around them. Her thigh is warm against his; when she laughs her raspy, unbelievably sexy laugh at a story Peyton is telling her about Anna, Julian can feel it all through his body.
He leaves before the second round.
Walking to his rented car, he pretends he can't hear his cell ringing. It's harder then he would have thought.
He drives the longest way to the hotel – all the way to the infamous Rivercourt – because he needs the extra miles he can find between here and there to clear his head; but then he pulls up, and the hotel's never seemed so empty and lonely and dark. He keeps driving.
He has a limit, but that's not it.
Brooke answers her door with hair pulled up in a messy bun, clad in well worn jeans, a simplest top he's ever seen on her, and with a quizzical look.
"Julian? Why are you…"
He's kissing her before she can finish the sentence, terrified of letting her speak. His arm slides around her waist, fingers slipping under the edge of her top, and in a beat he's pulling her close into his frame even as he steps forward, into her house. She meets him halfway, wrists linking behind his head, and when he kicks the door shut, she backs him up against it.
Their kiss turns wet, messy, desperate; he can't get enough of her, never could. This is the first time he thanks God Sam doesn't live here anymore because he can't make it to the bedroom. Other then that, he doesn't care who can come in through the unlocked door. A petty little part of him actually wants Lucas or Peyton to see this.
Julian pushes away from the door and walks her backwards towards her couch, twisting at the last moment so that it's him falling and her landing on top of him. Her hands are on his shoulders, fingers twisting the fabric of his shirt, and when he slides his palm down to the small of her back and then her ass, she grinds against him, making him groan.
He tugs off her top and unfastens her bra while Brooke works on his belt, his zipper. His limbs don't tangle nearly as much as they used to, with her; he believes it comes with practice of being with someone as divine as Brooke is to him. When he sits up so that she can push his shirt off his shoulders, his hand slips into the front of her jeans and underwear. She's already wet and he slides a finger inside of her, loving the way she shudders and nips at his neck in response.
"Jesus," she breathes out, bucking against his hand. "Julian…"
He strokes her and she closes her eyes, her forehead pressed against his as she's collapsed on him, her breathing harsh and hot against his cheek. For one long, breathless moment there is no movement except for his hand, and her hips, and Julian drops a kiss on the tip of her nose, smiling.
Then Brooke's moving again, retaliating. He helps her shimmy out of her jeans, kicks away his own, and he's trying to kiss her when she wraps her fingers around him.
His lips break from hers as he groans out an approximation of her name.
She grins, beautiful and perfect and, right in this moment, all his, and then she's shifting and his hands are running up and down her sides, skimming the curve of her breasts before settling on her waist as she guides him into her.
"Brooke," he gasps against her mouth, keeping their lips firmly attached, "God, Brooke, love," which are all the same thing in his head at the moment, and she braces her hands on his chest as she starts to move.
Afterwards, he mindlessly trails his fingers along her spine, presses kisses to the crown of her head. Her breath tickles just a little where it whispers across his collarbone.
When she shifts she doesn't go far, just lifts herself up enough to stare up at him, hand on his chest and chin propped on the back of her palm.
"Hmm?" He brings up a hand to play with loose strands of her hair, pushing it back off her shoulder and twirling it between his fingers.
"You!" She pinches his side playfully. "You've been acting like I ran over your puppy or something all day and…"
"I don't want us to break up again," he says, cutting her off.
Her pupils widen slightly. "Oookaay…"
"I mean it," he reiterates.
She nods, clearly baffled. "And I believe you," she says. "But, Julian, what…" She stops herself this time, blinks twice, and then raises herself up even further, her arms bracketing his head as she leans over him. "Wait, is this about last night?"
He refuses to answer that question on the basis that he will no doubt appear completely stupid.
She starts to smile. "Julian…"
"It was a fortune cookie." Her simples are suddenly the deepest he's ever seen, and he can't look away.
"I know," he grumbles.
"It wasn't even serious fortune cookie; it was the stupid kind you laugh about. I mean, I didn't go naked to work today, did I? None of those were…"
He leans up to kiss her before she can really get started. "I know, okay?" he groans, "but, I don't know, it got me thinking and…"
Her smile fades. "Thinking as in – it should have been serious?"
"Well, yeah, but not about that."
She frowns. "Then what?"
Her hair's fallen forward again; he brushes it back and keeps his hand on her cheek, thumb tracing the curve of her jaw. "I think, after the movie is done, you should reconsider moving in together."
"Moving in together," she repeats and it's not really a question.
"As in," she waves her hand aimlessly, "this? What we already have since you're staying over every night anyway, but full time? Permanent and official?"
"Yeah." She's biting her lip and he finds himself suddenly, uncomfortably, unsure. Like he was this morning, when he remembered the way they'd both decided on Chinese the previous night, and his fortune cookie said, more or less, that his relationship shall end. It bothers him more than he likes how casual Brooke was about it. But it bothers him even more as he sees her past rewind before her eyes. "You know what?" He pulls his hands back and starts shifting to get up. "It's OK. We don't have to. It was just…"
She moves a hand to the middle of his chest and shoves, pinning him. "Where?"
"Where?" His hand covers hers on his chest.
"Yeah, where? Tree Hill or LA? Or New York?" He's been thinking about it obsessively and found a perfect solution, actually.
"Neither," Julian says, somewhat reassured. "Somewhere new. Our own place."
"Neutral territory." Her hand turns so that her fingers can tangle with his.
"So…" She kinks an eyebrow. "Switzerland?"
He smiles. "I was thinking somewhere warmer. Somewhere in the country. Like, maybe Florida?"
"I like San Francisco."
Never wanting to agree with him, always negotiating. God, he couldn't even imagine being so in love. "So is that a yes?"
She pauses – and his chest is suddenly too tight, like his internal organs are in a vice, like he can't breathe – and then she grins, bright and playful and dimpled. "Do you agree to San Francisco?"
He breathes out in a rush. "No," he replies, smiling, and she laughs and grabs him, rolling them both off her couch and onto the floor.
"Then yes," she promises, breathless and laughing still, "yes."
He props himself up so that he's not crushing her quite so badly and kisses her. "I love you, so much."
She touches his face, kisses him back. And it's OK, he thinks, that she doesn't say it back, yet. Because she's ready to move out of this horrible town that's been torturing her with memories and he'd never be able to give up. He'll get there, someday. She pulls away and kinks her eyebrow, "How about Seattle?"
He laughs and drops his forehead to hers; kisses her again for the longest time. When he comes up for air, it's not because he wants to breathe – ever again – but because he wants to counter with, "Atlanta?"
"You know," she says, curling her leg up and around his hip, a mischievous smile on her lips. "We can always flip a coin for it."
Right, he thinks, because there's no way another joke like that could backfire.
She drags her nails across his nape.
Of course, on the other hand…
He grins, because apparently, she likes his grin. "Heads."