BLAME

This was just one more thing that Lucas had stolen from her life. Like every other negative effect on her life that he'd had, Luke had never meant to hurt her. He hadn't known about the abortion, how could he have? She had lied through her teeth – told him that she had lied because he'd called her a slut.

She still blamed him.

Still blamed Peyton.

Everything always came back to them. Brooke. Lucas. Peyton. The triangle from hell. Lucas had finally chosen Peyton and they had been happily married for years now and had their perfect blonde hair, blue eyed mini-Peyton and Brooke had, what? A husband she loved more than anything, a man she wanted nothing more than to be with for the rest of their life, to have babies with but that obviously was not an option.

So she blamed Lucas.

She blamed Lucas and his damned Scott sperm for getting her pregnant at 16.

She blamed Lucas for always loving Peyton. Even if she knew now that Julian was the only person she'd ever want to live her life with.

She blamed Lucas for all but calling her a slut and causing her to make a decision she's regretted since she did it. Even though she knew that her 16-year-old self never could have raised a baby.

She blamed Lucas for the fact that now that she'd found the man she wanted standing beside her and she couldn't have the thing she wanted most.

Mostly, though, Brooke blamed herself. Even though the doctor had tried to assure her that there was no solid evidence linking abortions to infertility.

How could she believe that? She'd asked doctor after doctor how she could have gotten pregnant 10 years ago and now they were ruling out any pregnancy in the future. Sometimes things just happen. It was bullshit and Brooke was tired of hearing it, even though it was the only thing that kept looping through her head.

"Julian," she said his name softly but it was enough to draw his focus from the movie they'd been watching before Brooke had dozed off, snuggled up against him with a blanket wrapped around them tightly.

"Hey, you enjoy your nap?" He smiled at her, the smile that had made her fall in love with him. The one she'd prayed their children would inherit, when they had first started dating, before the dark cloud had fallen over those hopes. He smiled and all it did was cause tears to spring to her eyes again.

"I'm sorry."

"Hey," Julian pulled her against him, "you're upset. You don't have to apologize for it."

She didn't correct him, didn't tell him that she felt broken, that she is broken and that, as always, it comes back to Lucas Scott. She hadn't been able to hear him say he loved her because Lucas had destroyed any ability she had to hear those words, to trust those words. He'd made her constantly fearful that the ever faithful Julian would be anything but.

"I was thinking, and I know you're still disappointed that that last doctor in LA couldn't help." Dr. Naomi Bennett had come highly recommended as one of the top fertility specialists in the country. She, like the other three doctors before her had been as apologetic and unhopeful as Brooke's very first doctor. So Brooke had made the decision to just stop putting herself through the roller coaster of getting her hopes up and having them dashed all over again. And Julian, always, always supportive Julian had agreed it was too much. "Maybe it's time to start talking about adopting."

Adoption. It was so funny, Brooke had nearly adopted Sam, hadn't thought twice about taking her into her home for the rest of her life. She had no problem with adoption but the moment the first doctor had told her she couldn't get pregnant it was all she could think about.

"Adoption." The word sounds hollow to her, she wished she could muster the, what? Energy? Interest? To be supportive of Julian but her brain was still foggy from sleep and he was moving forward too quickly for her to keep up.

"Yes, adoption." Julian moved on, unphased by her tone. "You're familiar with it, I know because your adopted daughter stays with us once a month. Drinks coffee with an ungodly amount of sugar in it?"

The comment caused Brooke to smile, Sam had started college in the fall and Brooke had offered to pay with no strings. Of course Sam hadn't accepted that and had made a point of coming around to visit more and now it was just habit, at least once a month she showed up in the living room with a bag full of dirty laundry and an appetite. Brooke figured it probably didn't help that she had a crazy roommate who she hated.

"But I was thinking that there are babies born every day that don't get adopted and wind up stuck in the system just like Sam was." Julian tucked a piece of hair behind Brooke's ear. "I called the woman at the agency you worked with before. I explained who I was and she remembered you, even congratulated me on marrying such an amazing woman."

"She did not," Brooke scoffed, remembering the horrible interviewing process, but she had been right then and Julian was right now. There was a baby out there who would be lucky to have a mother like her.

"She did, and I explained everything to her. She said there's a lot of paperwork we'd have to do over but she'd be willing to work with us to expedite the process. She felt really strongly about you getting the chance to become a mother." Julian searched Brooke's face for some sort of indication as to how she felt about this, and she could see the worry in Julian's eyes - that he was pushing her too hard. "When you're ready."

When she was ready? She had been ready to be a mother since she was 22-years-old. She had watched Haley with Jamie and Lucy. Had talked to Peyton about how much she loved being a mother. Every time she was confronted with these two women, her best friends, a part of her literally ached. She'd been ignoring Peyton's calls and she couldn't remember the last time she'd spent with just Haley. When she was ready? She'd been ready and maybe this wasn't the way she had hoped to start a family with Julian but ultimately all she wanted was to have that family with him. To begin their lives together. Did it really matter how they did it?

"Brooke?" Julian's expression was concerned. It was an expression Brooke was now well acquainted with. She hated that this whole baby thing had turned her into a grown-up version of high school Peyton. This wasn't her.

"You're right." Brooke smiled and for the first time it wasn't the smile she usually forced when she told people she was fine. This was right and she'd been hard headed and stupid, the instant that having a baby of her own had been taken off the table she should have gone back to considering adoption instead of throwing money at doctors and praying for a different answer that had never come. Because did it really matter if the baby had Julian's childlike grin or her dimples? She wouldn't love the baby any less and it had taken them long enough to get to where they were, she was ready to start her family.

"Call the agency. I want to get started on the paperwork."

Everything was clicking into place and when all her dreams came true it was Julian Baker she wanted standing next to her. Lucas Scott had broken her, taking more from her than she could ever express and it was Julian who was able to make her feel whole again, to give her the family and the life she had dreamed of forever. It was time to stop blaming the past and to move forward with her life.