Truth Tellers

Disclaimer: Don't own anything.

Rating: T

Spoiler 6.22

Pairing: Brooke/Julian

***

"You tide me over
With a warmth I'll not forget
And I can only give you love…"

-Rob Thomas

***

It hits her in the strangest of moments.

As she closes the bottom drawer of her desk, she catches sight of her mother, her eyes scanning the paperwork in front of her, a cold cup of coffee on her desk, and a strategically placed frown on her face.

Her figure is shrouded in the dimness of the unlit store and it occurs to her then and there that she does not want to focus all her energy on work.

She does not want to wake up to an empty house each morning and spend each day at her work, hoping Sam will call or stop by to visit.

She definitely does not want her company to be her life, shaping her to be the woman who her mother has become.

Alone, bitter, angry, and obsessed with material things that don't matter in the long run.

She makes a decision then.

It's clearly impulsive and completely out of character for this new persona she's become since she returned home, but as she gathers the necessary items into her bag and turns off her computer, Brooke feels exhilarated like she hasn't in months.

The feeling propels her forward, until she's pushing the front doors of her store free, inhaling what feels like the first breath of fresh air she's had in a while, and she starts walking, almost jogging to her car, leaving a very confused and speechless Victoria Davis behind.

Still in her immaculate suit, with the cold coffee besides her, and secret longing in her heart…

***

Her breathing subsides a bit as she pulls up in front of Lucas' house.

The front porch light is on and it illuminates the couple that sits swaying on the swing.

Brooke watches them from the safety of her car, losing herself in the memories the three of them have had over the years, and although it should stab her just a little bit when Lucas nuzzles Peyton's neck and his fingers caress her ever expanding belly, she feels nothing but elation.

She feels comfort, warmth, happiness oozing from the couple she observes and their love, the ethereal bubble that seems to envelope them recently, just confirms for her that this irrational move she's making is completely worth it.

It's time she gets her own happiness, she thinks, and when she gets out of the car and jogs up to the front porch, she ignores the confused smiles on her best friends' faces and boldly makes her request.

"I need Julian's address in LA."

***

She's flying high on the spontaneity of it all until about a third into the flight.

She booked a first class ticket just to spoil herself and is on her fourth glass of complimentary champagne when the fear starts to gnaw at the happiness she's been feeling for the last four hours.

Suddenly the pain over losing this girl she grew so close to returns and before she knows, Brooke Davis is crying again.

Large, salty tears roll down her cheeks as if it's their most natural action, burning the delicate skin and making Brooke wish she could at least turn the plane around.

She feels like she's come down from a very strong high and the hangover is unpleasant. The pain from losing Sam now spreads to her heart, wrapping and constricting around it, until it feels like she's suffocating again.

Her insecurities return, leaving her cold, lonely, and dizzy from the alcohol she's consumed.

It feels like high school all over again, when her days and nights consisted of drugs, alcohol, and sex, an empty existence that seemed to seep into her bones and destroy her character.

Then she fell in love and learned a different kind of pain.

This one burned.

It destroyed not only her character, but also her heart, leaving her numb for years after and closed off for even longer.

But then, like the most unexpected surprise, someone from someone else's past became her present and offered to be her future and suddenly she felt a different kind of pain, a longing that seemed quelled only when he was around.

It caught her so completely off guard, she didn't even realize she cared for him until she watched him disappear into the crowded airport, frowning as he begrudgingly threw away two plane tickets reserved for her and her foster daughter.

Replaying that moment in her head, jolts Brooke awake, because it rivals in comparison to the deep seeded loss she felt when she parted with Sam.

However, when she said goodbye to the spunky teenager, she knew she'd send her off for a good reason but when she thinks back to that night in the airport, she feels emptiness inside her, a void that tells her that Julian's goodbye had not been for a greater purpose.

That goodbye had been unnecessary and a manifestation of her fear, her fear of being unworthy of love and loving in return.

She spent years mending a broken heart, but the string of men she left behind did nothing but temporarily satiate her physical needs, and doubtless to say, the brown eyed Californian should have been just another one, but he wasn't. He pushed his way into her bed and into her heart and she hadn't felt alive like that in years.

Except, it was all too good to be true and suddenly Brooke did what she was an expert at, she hid behind a façade, in this case her foster daughter, and shied away from love.

Well, it apparently backfired, she thinks, as she stares out the darkened window.

She thought giving up Angie was difficult, but giving up Samantha was even worse. Unlike with the infant who Brooke grew to love, Sam became not only her daughter, but also her confidant. She was the younger, darker, more sarcastic version of Brooke and she was just as selfless, agreeing to go to LA when Julian offered, without hesitation.

She was incredible.

And Brooke can't help but feel that familiar ache return, twisting around her heart like a vice, squeezing it until it's too hard to breathe, because she's never experienced this kind of loss.

She's lost loves, but she's never lost a daughter, someone so close to her. In Angie's eyes she didn't see the guilt she witnessed in Sam's, and it affected her far more than she'd like to admit.

Her eyes overflow with tears again as the adrenaline subsides and thoughts of what she's about to do once again take a backseat to the bereft feeling lurking inside her. So when the captain announces their eminent arrival in Los Angeles, she suddenly doesn't feel as carefree and happy as the girl who ran out of her own store and booked a flight spontaneously.

Instead she feels like a 23 year old who pretends to have it all together, but doesn't.

And all the brunette fashion designer wants to do is curl up and cry.

***

She feels drugged when she gets off the plane.

The airport is crowded even though its 3 am and she feels the fatigue seep into her bones as she walks quickly through the terminal and out to the arrivals platform.

She hails a cab and hesitates only slightly when the driver asks her about her destination.

She's incredibly tempted to throw out the name of some expensive hotel, but she can't tear her eyes away from the address hastily scribbled on the back of a pharmacy receipt for prenatal vitamins, the only stationary Peyton had around; and before she knows it, the cab is speeding off to the direction of an apartment she's never been to.

The city is alive as they drive down a main street and Brooke rolls down her window, inhaling the crisp night air that buzzes with energy.

She spends the rest of the ride with her eyes closed, the cool wind playing with her curls until the cab slows down and she finds herself staring at a tall building.

It's a big, four-story Brownstone that looks like it belongs at Greenwich Village in Lower Manhattan, and as she pays the driver and gets out, Brooke can't help but think that it suits Julian perfectly.

Her knees wobble only slightly as she makes her way to the front entrance and slips inside the door as a drunken couple makes their way out.

She finds his apartment easily and before her nerves consume her completely, Brooke lightly taps on the door.

The waiting is what nearly kills her and she doesn't even think that perhaps this early in the morning a normal person would be sleeping.

She wants to knock again, she really does, but the overwhelming turn of events and the emotional rollercoaster she's been on since the night before only cause her to step back and slump against the opposite wall, clutching a palm over her face as tears unwittingly travel down her cheeks.

I'm not this broken girl, she wants to scream, but thoughts like these seem frivolous and she sinks down, tired of keeping it together, tired of lying to herself.

She's tired of being alone but maybe she's destined for it, because even if she travels 3,000 miles and bravely decides to open her heart to the boy who got away, she's still alone as she cries.

And then something unexpected happens, something that shatters all her well thought out ideologies about the future, about herself, and about love.

A pair of warm, bare arms encircles and lifts her off the floor.

Brooke doesn't dare open her eyes; for fear that she is dreaming and finds herself deposited on a plush surface.

When he moves away from her and she feels the side of the couch shift under his weight, she takes a breath and opens her eyes.

His apartment is illuminated by a single lamp sitting in the corner of the living room but she can already see that it's exactly as she pictured it.

There's plush furniture with a modern feel to it adorning the room, with a complicated entertainment system at the epicenter, along with movies. Tons and tons of DVDs and VHS cassettes line his bookshelves and all the spare space in boxes.

From her position on the sofa she can barely make out the writing on each box and notices that it's alphabetized.

She knows it's neither the time nor the place and she hasn't even looked him in the eye, but she can't help it.

She has to ask.

"How do you organize your movies?"

There's a soft silence followed by a low chuckle, "By directors' last names. Coppola, Scorsese, Crow, Hughes, the staples." He explains, and she shivers at the low octave in his voice.

It only hits her now when she's so close to him and can almost feel his body heat, how much she actually missed him.

These last two months have been a series of denials and distractions and when she thinks about Sam's departure, she doesn't think she can hide any longer.

Sam is gone.

She can't fight for her, because she's letting her go for good, but this man besides her…

She can't finish her thought, because his voice breaks through the quietude.

"Brooke, what are you doing here?"

His voice is no longer smooth, but frustrated and anxious.

He wants to know the truth and Brooke blinks back tears, knowing there's no turning back now.

So she shifts, sitting up just enough to see his face. Her breath hitches in her throat, because time has erased her memory of some of the definitive features that used to make her stomach flutter ever so slightly.

He's beautiful.

She almost feels unworthy, but then he looks at her with inquisitive brown eyes and she sees her nervousness reciprocated.

For the first time tonight, Brooke lets her tears fall freely as she speaks,

"I came, because my pathetic excuse for not leaving with you moved out last night."

Brooke can't even comprehend how she can joke about something as painful as what happened just a few hours ago, but somehow she's managed to say the words without crumpling completely. Therefore, when Julian looks at her questioningly, she takes another deep breath and tells him everything he's missed since leaving Tree Hill.

She starts off with describing Victoria's return and her own decision to return to Clothes over Bros. She tells him about Sam and Jack and how they finally admitted their feelings to each other, before Jack's moved to Charlotte.

When she begins to talk about Sam's birth mother and the letters she sent, Julian's hand finds hers and sooths her nerves.

She finds strength in his touch and talks more openly about everything, including the adoption papers she secretly requested and how proud and heartbroken she was by Sam's initial agreement to becoming her official daughter, so she wouldn't disappoint Brooke.

As she recalls the look on her daughter's face, she suppresses a sob and finds herself safely ensconced in Julian's arms.

He holds her against him as she cries over everything that's happened and the catharsis is incredibly draining.

When her tears dry and she curls deeper into his embrace, the sun is already peeking over the horizon and Julian feels his eyelids growing heavy, but he refuses to sleep, because he can't believe she's here.

Brooke Davis is here, in Los Angeles, in his apartment, in his arms and he doesn't want to fall asleep. He wants to savor the moment as she drifts off into sleep. He wants to marvel at the smoothness of her skin, her even breaths, and the way she feels in his arms, because god knows with her, this all could be so fleeting…

***

It's the best two hours of sleep either of them has had since the last time they shared a bed.

When Julian wakes up the next morning to find Brooke still wrapped around him, her leg draped over his waist and her light snore making ripples on his t-shirt, he mentally prioritizes his day to make sure he doesn't miss anything important if he spends the rest of it on this couch with this pretty girl in his arms.

He hasn't actually had time to process everything Brooke told him last night, but now that he's awake, he can't stop thinking about it.

His mind is buzzing with information, thoughts of Sam, Victoria, and Brooke all swirling around in his head.

He also feels insurmountable guilt for leaving Brooke to deal alone with all of this.

Perhaps it's unjust, because he asked her to come with him and she was the one who declined, but he still beats himself up over leaving her anyway.

The spunky teenager, who stole her heart, unwittingly stole his too and Julian just cannot imagine how Brooke had to say good bye to Sam all alone, with only her mother for support.

The thought of Victoria makes his blood boil but he doesn't flinch, because he doesn't want to wake up the exhausted woman slumbering besides him.

He's never met the woman nor has he been told much about her outside of offhanded comments Brooke made over the time they spent together, but now knowing their entire history, he holds Brooke just a little tighter to offset the unfounded guilt he feels for skipping town so eagerly two months ago.

He wants to contemplate this further, but Brooke stirs against him and the unconscious movements her body makes, leaves his humming in places that have been dormant for a while.

She can still make him shiver with pleasure.

"Hey." She emits a sleepy greeting and he smiles down at her, losing himself in her half conscious smile and dimples.

"Hey yourself, did you sleep well?" He murmurs, his fingers unconsciously finding themselves entangled in her hair.

"Like a baby." Brooke purrs in response, but the lighthearted atmosphere around them seems to quell with every passing moment they lie awake, until Brooke can't bear the tension anymore and rises to look Julian in the eye.

The light is pouring in through the window and she sees him so clearly for the first time in so long that she's speechless for a moment, losing herself in his chocolate eyes.

Her stomach growls loudly but she ignores it, opting instead to run her fingers delicately over his cheek, "Thank you for not kicking me out last night"

"Why would I do that?" He asks softly, catching her wrist in his hand and pressing a tender kiss to her fingers.

"I showed up unexpectedly after blowing you off. I wouldn't be surprised if you shut the door in my face." She admits unsurely, hand curling in his.

"Brooke, do you think I'm some sort of monster?" His voice is so stern that she thinks he's angry, but when she meets his eye and sees the mischievous glint she missed so much, she knows he's just kidding,

"I can't just close the door on a beautiful girl crying in my hallway, even if it is 3:30 in the morning and even if it's the same girl that drove me utterly crazy for months in a backwards Southern town I regret ever setting foot in."

He sits up by then and she falls into his lap by default. They're so close to each other, Brooke can feel his breath on her cheek, and sees the crease in his upturned lip. But when she feels the intense pull to kiss him, something else sparks her curiosity.

"Do you really?"

"Do I really what?" He murmurs, distracted completely by her mouth so close to his.

"Do you regret ever coming to Tree Hill, meeting me?"

She looks so vulnerable, her voice so uncharacteristically soft, and her features so young, he pushes her closer against him and replies the only way he knows will get through to her.

He kisses her.

He threads his hand through her hair, pushing her mouth on his while his other arm wraps possessively around her waist. He kisses her thoroughly, boldly, exactly how she deserves to be kissed.

Brooke reciprocates with more fervor than Julian anticipates, running her fingers through his hair as he explores her mouth, tasting her as if for the first time.

The moment is overwhelming, intense, a overdue union of two souls starving for each other, and when Julian pulls back, there's no question in either of their minds that he doesn't regret a thing that's happened since Brooke came into his life…

***

It hits him in the strangest of moments.

He's taken her to Malibu Beach in a naïve hope that perhaps the warm sun and the white sand will convince her to stay with him permanently.

Now as the sun sets, he watches from his place on the blanket as she gingerly dips her toes into the tide and bounces back, shrieking as the cold water rushes up her legs.

She turns to him every time and gives him a wide smile, looking carefree and beautiful like he's never seen her before.

And he realizes how incredibly in love he is with her and how distance really does make the heart grow fonder.

He's daydreaming when she falls besides him, her summer dress pooling around her as she wraps an arm around his neck and crushes her mouth to his.

He gladly reciprocates, soaking up as much of her as he possibly can.

Ever since the kiss they shared this morning, she hasn't been able to get enough of him, she missed him so much that she hadn't realized it until she woke up in his arms and saw his handsome unshaven face smiling back at her.

She withdraws, still stroking his cheeks, lost in thought.

"It's beautiful out here." Brooke comments, her eyes sweeping over the horizon.

"Yeah it is." Julian murmurs, but his eyes are fixed on her.

He told her long ago that he wasn't going to be that guy, the one who rescues her, who woos her with flowers and candy, and writes novels for her, but in her presence everything seems to shift, and suddenly he doesn't mind being that guy.

He doesn't mind being anything she wants him to be, and when she turns to find him staring at her, he leans in for another kiss, both to savor the moment and to hide from the questioning glance she sends his way.

"Thank you for bringing me here." She says huskily, her breath teasing his lips.

"I just knew you'd love it." He smiles, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear and staring out into the sunset.

"I really, really do." She answers, except now she's the one looking at him and he pretends not to notice.

They stay wrapped up in each other until the sun disappears completely and the temperature drops enough that Brooke shivers in her tiny dress and Julian decides its time for them to go home.

Instead of taking a cab, they walk the 20 minutes to his Brownstone and the whole time Julian wants to know what she's thinking, but he doesn't want to ruin the moment.

So he waits until they slip into his apartment and she sits down on the couch with two cups of peppermint tea he didn't know he had, to ask what's been killing him all day.

"So when are you going back?"

He tries to be nonchalant, but she can see straight through his bullshit, arching an eyebrow in response, but then softening immediately.

"I guess I was waiting for you to ask me that." She admits, fiddling with the hem of her dress.

"Then you know when you're going?" He asks; his eyes suddenly dark and devoid of their usual mirth.

Brooke frowns, realizing his putting on an act.

She doesn't know if she's allowed to be irritated with him, considering she's the one who showed up unexpectedly at his doorstep after rejecting him months ago, but she also doesn't want to play games, which is what he's resorted to.

She doesn't blame him, but selfishly, she doesn't want to break the mood by confronting reality, so she frowns deeply and lets out a childish sigh.

"Why do you have to ruin this day, huh?"

She's only half joking but apparently Julian doesn't get it, because he grunts and gets off the couch,

"Are you fucking kidding me? I'm ruining this day? Brooke, you tell me no to LA, because you're too afraid."

Brooke opens her mouth to object, but he's one step ahead,

"No, don't blame this on Sam okay? You're too fucking afraid and you know it."

"I came here as soon as she left, didn't I?" Brooke exclaims stubbornly, walking up to him with a determined expression.

Julian smirks, which infuriates her, because here she is trying to prove a point, emphasize to him that her reasons for staying behind were justified, but he doesn't seem to get it.

Instead he rolls his eyes at her, staring her down with an almost pitiable gaze that chills her to the core.

"You know it's funny," Julian says calmly, "You claim to have such wonderful friends, a support system, and stability in Tree Hill and yet when Sam moves out, you fly across the country to show up at my doorstep, why is that Brooke?"

His tone is mocking, but she can see the cracks in it. She knows enough about him to know that all he wants is for her to tell him that she needs him, but he's crossed a line with his comment.

No one insinuates her friends are bad people and gets away with it.

"They have nothing to do with this, Julian. They all have their own shit to deal with, that you don't even know about." Brooke retaliates, fists balling at her sides as she tries to intimidate him, even though he's got at least six inches on her.

Julian stares at her for a second, before letting out a breath of air and she think she's won, but he just shrugs,

"Whatever you have to tell yourself, Brooke."

He tries to walk away, wondering if he has any booze in the house, but she grabs his arm in desperation and he can't help himself but turn around.

He looks at her with a defeated expression and she sees the cracks in his façade turn into huge fractures.

It's bittersweet, because now she knows for sure he can't hide from her, but it's not as rewarding when she's the one who hurt him in the first place.

"What is that you want from me, Brooke?" He asks, his eyes boring into her, "Do you want me to hold and distract you from what happened without thinking in the back of my mind about how in a few hours you'll most likely be on a plane back to that hell hole? Because I can't fucking do it okay? I just fucking can't."

He rubs the bridge of his nose exhaustively, and tears pool in her eyes, because it only hits her now how much of a fucking mess she's made. She managed to drive away the only person who has given a shit about her in the last few months.

She's broken him and she isn't sure how to fix him.

"I'm sorry, Julian." She says softly, trying to remain strong, but her voice falters, "I don't know how I made such a mess of things, but I'm sorry, so I think I'll just go now."

She makes a beeline for the spare bedroom, where her bag is, but this time he stops her.

"Don't go now." He says softly and hope flutters within her. Praying he'll be the stronger one and coax the truth out of her, she turns around eagerly.

"It's late, spend the night and I'll take you to the airport tomorrow."

And just like that, her heart drops and there's a slight tremor in her shoulder, but she's Brooke fucking Davis and even when it feels like the world is crumbling at her feet, she remains composed.

So she nods and excuses herself to the bedroom, calling it an early night, while Julian walks into the kitchen and begins his search for a bottle of vodka.

***

It hits her in the strangest of moments.

She can't fall asleep and the moonlight illuminates Julian's bookshelf.

She never had much of an affinity for literature and since her break up with Lucas, she's tried to avoid it as much as possible, especially any copies of his novel; however, when she sees the four copies of An Unkindness of Ravens scattered haphazardly on top of the self, she reaches out and picks up the most worn one.

This is obviously his work place, she thinks, picturing Julian analyzing every line in the novel, appreciating the nuances, metaphors, and deeper meaning behind all of Lucas' well wrought phrases.

She sits back and flips to her favorite page, expecting to see it blank and bare, since Julian probably spent most of his time fixated on the main love story in the novel.

But she gasps when she sees the page so marked up, you can barely see the print.

There are blue pen marks, circles, and a bunch of complicating comments in the margin that Brooke can't read, because her vision is blurred with tears.

However, she does notice certain words, in the corner, where Julian's messy handwriting is an odd contrast to the print.

The words, intelligent, alluring, sexy, breathtaking, hilarious are all scribbled chaotically around her description and before she realizes what she's doing, she's pulling off the covers, and walking across the hall.

He looks so peaceful sleeping, his chest bare, the sheet wrapped around his middle and for a second, the briefest moment, Brooke hesitates, but the book on her bed reminds her that she needs to stop running.

She needs to make this work with him, if only to assure herself that she can be the girl he wrote those words about.

He stirs and when she steps a bit closer to the bed, coming out into the moonlight. Julian rises and rubs sleep out of his eye while looking at her quizzically.

"Brooke, what the-…"

"Just don't say anything," The diminutive brunette stops him, boldly climbing on the bed, straddling him.

"I need you not to talk and let me say everything okay?"

She's cradling his face in her hands and her skin is so soft against his, he feels a shiver down his spine that reminds him only of Brooke.

"You better start talking now." He replies huskily, his fingers tracing circles on her thighs, as if he's forgotten that not three hours ago, he was ready to send her away.

Brooke notes the innuendo and doesn't miss his darkened, brown stare, but she needs to say this.

She needs to tell him the truth.

"You asked me why I came here. It's not because my friends don't care, Julian. It really isn't, it's just that over time I've learned not to depend on anyone, including my closest friends and it's not their fault that when major things happen to me, I hide and don't open up. I mean, god, none of them even know that I got attacked okay? But it's not their fault; sure they should've noticed but…"

Her voice trails off and she realizes that she's rambling, because Julian almost nearly cracks a smile.

"Anyway, I just, I came here, because ever since I met you, I haven't been able to hide from you. I can't deny my attraction to you, or how you make me laugh, or how worried you were when Sam disappeared. I definitely couldn't deny that you took a chance on me with costume designing when I didn't even have my company anymore-…"

"I took a chance on-…"

She doesn't let him continue, because the next words could either make or break her emotionally.

"And I guess I got scared, because it's been years since someone has been so invested in my well being, but I'm not scared anymore. You asked me why I came here and I didn't know it then, or maybe I did subconsciously, but I got tired of hiding and if you never want to see me again, I get it, because I know I hurt you, but I, I-…"

She hesitates again, the words at the tip of her tongue and Julian smiles at her softly, as if he knows already what she's going to say and it gives her the final push she needs,

"I love you. I'm in love with you, Julian."

She lets out a breath of relief; she didn't know she was holding. It feels incredibly liberating to hear herself actually utter the words.

She loves him.

And seeing how shocked and happy Julian is, it just warms her soul and heart so wholly that she can't believe she didn't do this earlier.

"I love you." She whispers again and again, until it becomes a mantra that hangs above them, wrapping them in a halo, which eventually jolts Julian from his disbelief.

He looks at her smiling face, wipes the tears she didn't know she was crying, and very softly whispers, "I love you too."

Brooke smiles widely and kisses his cheek, then the other, her soft lips brushing against his stubble, igniting a fire between them that has been simmering beneath the surface, begging to be released.

Julian remains still for the most part, because a part of him feels like he's still dreaming, but when Brooke pulls back, her thumb stroking his cheek lightly, a look in her eye that he's never seen before finally wakes him up.

He leans up and kisses her deeply, pulling her down by her neck until she falls on top of him into the warmth of his bed.

His fingers trace the naked skin of her midriff and Brooke shivers, suddenly reminded of the times they spent in her bed, discovering each other, making love.

It was always fun and playful and deliciously exhilarating, but tonight, when she looks into his eyes, Brooke feels a change between them, like her admission opened a door they can never go back through.

And when Julian runs his fingers delicately across her bare back, pulling her wife beater higher as he kisses her neck, she isn't sure she wants to go back to the way things were…

***

She adjusts the beautiful white gown and marvels at it proudly. She takes a step back and admires it smilingly; pleased her vision for this design actually came true.

"What's got you smiling like that B. Davis?"

She looks up to see her best friend beaming, her perfectly sculpted eyebrow raised.

Brooke grins wider, her eyes drifting from the hem of the wedding dress to the prominent baby bump, tastefully concealed by an umpire waist.

The protruding belly is still too small for the due date being so close and it makes Brooke frown.

However, she shakes the worry away, because today is a very important day for her two best friends and nothing that could go wrong after should be a concern for the blushing bride now.

Brooke loses herself in thought, her eyes fixed on the baby bump that protects her god daughter, so she doesn't notice Peyton frown,

"Okay, I know I'm huge but you don't have to stare." The blonde pouts, carefully stepping off the podium she stood on for adjustments.

Brooke stifles a laugh when she watches her oldest friend in the whole wide world wobble over to the vanity table, reaching for the lipstick.

"You're not huge." Brooke rolls her eyes, but her look betrays how happy she is for Peyton.

She never thought it would be like this, but somehow she is undoubtedly excited by the idea of Lucas and Peyton finally getting married and having a kid.

As she busies herself with putting away her pins and thread, Brooke thinks that her recent attitude has something to do with the boy she can't get out of her head for the last few weeks.

Even the thought of Julian makes her smile and she's so wrapped up in her musings, she doesn't notice that Peyton's phone buzzes on the table or that the bride to be reads it, smiles mischievously, and writes back before Brooke even turns around.

"So we're all set here?"

The maid of honor asks and Peyton nods enthusiastically.

"Definitely, can you do me just one tiny favor?"

"Yeah sure," Brooke nods, and Peyton feels the beginning of butterflies in her stomach at what she has planned.

"Okay, can you just go do a final check of the place, please? I know Hales is out there, but I really need the B. Davis stamp of approval, can you do that?"

Brooke smiles immediately, resting her hand on Peyton's shoulder understandingly,

"Of course, I am the maid of honor you know." She adds, looking down with appreciation at her violet colored satin gown.

Once again, she's grateful to her best friend for letting the bridal party pick out their own outfits.

"Okay P. Sawyer, I'll see you in a bit." The brunette squeezes her friend's hand, mistaking her wide, nervous smile for nerves rather than the anticipation of what's about to happen.

Brooke makes her way outside from the bridal room.

The location they chose is beautiful, right by the lake, with white tents, flowers, and a long isle separated by rows of chairs for the guests.

It really looks like a fairy tale and Brooke can't help but feel a tiny bit envious, but only for a moment, because if she's learned anything over the last couple months, it's that everything will come in due time.

And if it's Julian she's meant to be with, she'll wait for him for however long it takes.

Her thoughts are interrupted by a hand slipping around her waist and propelling her forward.

"Luke!" She shrieks as she almost stumbles with the groom besides her, "What on earth?"

The blond man she would have given her entire being to in high school smiles brightly at her, his blue eyes shining as they approach the canopy that separates the entrance from the isle.

"Is everything okay," She asks, remembering again that Peyton asked her to do a final overview, but Lucas just nods,

"Everything is perfect, except one detail." He stops in front of the tent and Brooke raises his eyebrow at him. Not only is he being vague, but if something is actually wrong, then he better tell her without stretching out the suspense.

"C'mon Luke, just tell me." She frowns, mentally preparing herself for whatever crisis is at hand. She doesn't even notice Lucas' mischievous stare as he pushes back the canopy and says,

"The only thing is I know you didn't bring a date, so I decided to invite someone."

Brooke is about to rant to him again about how she doesn't need a date, but something catches the corner of her eye and her throat runs dry.

She turns to look at the man standing a few feet away and when he catches her eye, her heart starts palpitating at a rate she knows can't possibly be healthy for her, but she doesn't care.

She hasn't seen him in a month almost and he's never looked better.

He's dressed in a black suit, a maroon tie, and dark button down, but all she's staring at are his eyes, his beautiful, dark, mischievous eyes that are looking back at her with so much adoration and love, she feels herself go weak in the knees and has to steady herself against one of the pillars to learn how to properly breathe again.

She looks at Lucas momentarily, who smiling at her, and she gives him a small grateful look,

"Go, Brooke. You deserve it." He murmurs, and even though she should be pissed that he's playing matchmaker given their history, one look at Julian erases all the bitterness and irritation she could ever feel.

Lucas might have been the boy she would have given her whole heart to five years ago, but the man she's walking towards with brown hair, loving eyes, and a smile to die for is the man she wants to and has given her heart to now.

Brooke wraps her arms around him the minute she approaches him. Feeling his strong embrace around her, she can't help but think that this is what true, honest, deep, passionate love feels like.

It hits her in the strangest of moments.

But she realizes that being away from him isn't worth it, and she wants more. She doesn't want long distance and she doesn't want to wait for a call from him at midnight because of the time difference.

No, she wants him to hold her as she falls asleep and sneak into the shower in the morning under the pretense of conversing water and most of all, she wants this exhilarating feeling of being loved and adored never to go away.

And when Julian looks at her again, Brooke doesn't need to know that he wants all the same things as her.

"I missed you too much to stay away." He whispers against her lips.

And suddenly, it's okay that they live on opposite sides of the country, because they'll figure it out, because she'll fight tooth and nail for them, because she doesn't want to end up alone and bitter like her mother.

"I love you," She replies unsurely again, her gaze faltering to his lips and Julian smiles at her softly, "I don't think I'll ever tire of hearing that baby."

"Good," Brooke says, running her fingers against his neck, "Because I'll never get tired of saying it."

***