Take Me or Leave Me

Author's Notes: So apparently watching a favorite episode of One Tree Hill followed by a nonstop marathon on CSI:NY right before bed leads to very vivid dreams that morph into storylines. Who knew?
Hopefully this idea intrigues a lot of you, because after that dream, I'm enthralled. And when that happens, you just have to put it on paper. Hope you guys enjoy!

Summary: A year after the death of Jessica Angell, Don Flack is just starting to get his life together amidst his grief. During a hit-and-run, he crosses paths with Brooke Davis, a young fashion designer who's dealing with her own tragedy. The last thing he needs is the pretty hazel eyed beauty to distract him from getting back on track…but he soon finds that she might be just what he needs to stay on it.

Timeline: Obviously, some time has passed since Angell died. I'm not super fond of Jo on the show, so Stella is still here. As for One Tree Hill, it's probably mid season 5, but with a few twists.

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Punching the time clock was getting easier.

Detective Don Flack Jr. let his seasoned eyes travel across the bullpen, taking in every action that was happening around him. Perps were being cuffed to chairs, witnesses were giving statements, private jokes were exchanged between partners and coworkers. Life did go on.

If you'd asked him this time last year, Don would have vehemently denied that statement.

His eyes drifted out of habit to the newly occupied desk across the bullpen.

The fresh-faced rookie that now sat behind Jess' desk was hunched over a stack of forms, his pen busily scribbling away as he ran a hand through his hair.

The world, did indeed, go on. It was something Don was finding easier to admit each day.

With a sigh, he rounded the corner of his desk, snatching up the small collection of Post-It notes that detailed messages that had come in during his absence. He sank down into his chair, his brow furrowing as he read through the notes. Nothing too demanding, he noted with ease.

The sudden ringing of his desk phone had him biting back a groan.

"Spoke too soon," he muttered, sighing as he picked up the handset.

"Flack."

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New York certainly hadn't changed in the year she'd been gone. If anything, it was just as bustling and busy as ever.

Brooke Davis stood at the window of her penthouse apartment, her eyes overlooking the familiar buildings and landmarks she'd gazed at every day since she was 19. As strange as it sounded, the towering buildings had been a comfort to Brooke in those first few years away from Tree Hill.

But it seemed that even her old haunting grounds couldn't be a comfort to her now.

"Aunt Brooke."

She turned around, a smile appearing on her flawless face when she saw the little boy padding towards her in socked feet, a sleepy expression on his face.

"Well, morning there, Sleepy Head," she said, setting her coffee cup onto the table next to her as she crouched down to press a quick kiss to his forehead. "I thought you were going to sleep away the day."

James Lucas Scott rubbed his eyes as he gazed up at her, and Brooke couldn't help the stab of pain that sliced through her heart when she realized, once again, that they were Nathan's eyes.

"I don't think my bed wanted to let me get up," Jamie replied, shuffling over to the kitchen table and crawling into the chair.

Brooke laughed at his statement, rising to her full height and following his lead, pulling over a bowl and her godson's favorite box of cereal. "Mmm…beds are funny that way. Mine used to wrap me up like a mummy so I couldn't crawl out of it." She smiled when he giggled, and poured him a bowl of the cereal.

She sat back as she watched him eat, her mind drifting over the events of the last 12 months.

12 months….

Had it really been that long since a drunk driver had so completely altered their lives?

"Aunt Brooke?"

She snapped out of her trance, her eyes lowering to meet the eyes of five-year-old Jamie.

Five-year-old orphaned Jamie.

She smiled, leaning her elbows onto the glass tabletop and angling her head towards him.

"What's up, handsome?"

"Do you have to work today? Because Joey, a kid at dayschool, told me that you can go for carriage rides in Central Park. And that giant horses pull the carriage. And I was thinking that it'd be really cool to do, since I've never seen a horse before."

Brooke pursed her lips, nodding as she pretended to contemplate his proposal. It was true that she was overdue for an appearance at the office, but since she had promoted Millicent, she knew that Clothes Over Bros. wouldn't crumble without her there for another day.

She'd learned very well that you never knew how many "lazy" days you got to spend with the people you cared about.

"I think that sounds like an awesome idea, Jame," she said, glad when she saw his young face split into an excited smile. "How about you finish your breakfast, and then we can get dressed?"

Jamie nodded, ducking his head as he dug into his cereal, his short legs swinging back and forth on the chair.

Brooke was glad she could make Jamie happy. His bright little smile hadn't been showing up as often as it used to. Not that she blamed him at all. He'd lost the two people that meant the world to him in one quick instant.

So had she.

She'd spent every day since trying to make that smile that had always melted her heart appear as often as she could manage. If it meant she left her company in the hands of her second-in-command for one more day, so be it.

Jamie was far more important.

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The crime scene was utter chaos.

"Hey, make sure those pictures get deleted, Martinez, okay? We're not running some circus around here," Don shouted to one of the uniformed officers by the crime scene tape, pointing with his pen to crowd of passerbys snapping away on their cellphones.

If it's not the press, it's nosy citizens.

He shook his head, turning back to stare at the victim sprawled across the sidewalk. He flipped open his memo pad, motioning towards her as he turned to speak to Mac Taylor. "Vic is Clarissa Parsons, 21. Witnesses say she was crossing the street when an older model Cherokee came roaring from a parking spot, hitting her before speed off. So far, nobody can recall the plates number, but we're still questioning a few of them."

Detective Mac Taylor nodded as he crouched down next to the body, his face pinched in concentration as he his eyes took in the scene.

Clarissa Parsons was a blond, but her shoulder length hair was stained red from the blood that had pooled from the wound on her forehead. Her body showed the usual signs of a hit-and-run—contusions along the abdomen and lower back, abrasions along the arms and legs. Her right arm was twisted into an unnatural angle beneath her body, her lifeless green eyes staring into the sky above them.

"What makes you think this is anything other an accidental hit-and-run?" Mac questioned, raising his head to peer at the younger man behind him.

"First responders said the eyewitnesses reported the car was sitting idling before the vic headed across the street. It wasn't until she was halfway across that it headed straight for her. Combine that with the fact that Miss Parsons is the third hit-and-run this week with this kind of M.O., and it makes you scratch your head."

Mac nodded, rising to his feet. "Alright, we'll process the scene, get her back to M.E. Maybe Sid can tell us something new; see if there's any similarities between Clarissa and the previous two victims. Do we have a name for next of kin yet?"

Don nodded, closing his memo pad. "A father, lives over in Yonkers. I'm heading over there once I'm done here." He sighed, glancing down at the young woman whose life had been cruelly ended far too soon. "Not a visit I'm looking forward to."

Mac nodded, patting Don's shoulder as he headed towards his crime scene kit. "It never is."

Don nodded in agreement, stepping back as the crime scene team headed towards the victim, sliding his memo book into the inner pocket of his jacket.

"Detective Flack?"

He turned at the sound of his name, and came face to face with Martinez. He raised his eyebrows, walking over towards him.

"There's a lady over there who says her kid spotted the license plate."

Don glanced over the officer's shoulder, his gaze traveling across the crowd on the other side of the yellow tape. "Which one?" he asked, pulling his memo pad back out as he moved to head in that direction.

Martinez grinned, raising his eyebrows as he pointed behind him. "The looker in the purple top," he said.

Flack cast him a sidelong glance as he moved past him. "What, you combing crime scenes for dates now, Dave?"

The younger officer laughed, shrugging. "If I thought I had a chance in hell with her, you bet your ass I'd start."

Flack scoffed, shaking his head as he made his way to the tape, his eyes searching the crowd for a woman in a purple top. When he finally spotted her, he found himself hesitating in his steps. Calling the woman a looker wasn't doing her justice.

He slowed his steps as he took her in. A pale, flawless face was taking in the scene, framed by a mess of long, brown hair that seemed to shimmer in the afternoon sunlight. A slim, athletic figure was clothed in a snug-fitting purple blouse and dark denim blue jeans, a pair of booted heels on her feet. His eyes trailed to the small, blonde haired boy she held cradled next to her, his face buried in her side.

She was shielding him from the scene.

Don cleared his throat as he walked up to her, pulling his badge from his pocket and holding it up to her. "I'm Detective Flack," he said, watching as her hazel eyes tore themselves away from the grisly scene to stare up at him. "The officer mentioned you may have seen something relating to the accident."

She nodded, her hand coming up to capture a bit of flyaway hair in the wind, tucking it behind her ear.

"Yeah," she said softly, her hand tightening slightly on the shoulder of the little boy pressed into her stomach.

"Can I get your name?" Flack asked, trying to ignore the way her raspy voice seemed to flow through his ears.

"Brooke Davis. This is Jamie," she said, glancing down at the boy next to her.

Flack caught the look of worry in Brooke's eyes as they traveled between Jamie and the crime scene, and he nodded, raising the tape and ducking underneath it. "Miss Davis, why don't we step over here," he said, motioning to a canopied table in front of a bistro. "Away from all the chaos, huh?"

Brooke looked at him in relief, a small, grateful smile appearing on her face.

Don couldn't ignore the way his heart leapt into his throat at that.

He held out an arm to let her lead the way, watching as she ducked to quietly speak her son and usher him towards the table. He followed with a quick glance over his shoulder, watching as the coroner unloaded a black body bag next to the victim.

He stepped around the table as Brooke helped the little boy into one of the chairs, seating him so his back was to the crime tape and everything that laid beyond it.

Flack took the seat opposite the boy, folding his hands onto the table top as he looked at him. Frightened blue eyes were staring up at him, and he was wondering how the hell a kid like this was processing what had just happened. "Hey, there, champ," he said, smiling crookedly as Jamie tilted his head higher to meet his eyes. "You wanna tell me what you saw happened?"

Jamie hesitated as he looked up at Brooke, who smiled at him encouragingly even as she squeezed his shoulders reassuringly. She nodded towards Flack, and the boy turned back to him, his face scrunching up as he tried to remember.

"A car hit the lady."

Flack nodded, keeping his gaze trained on the boy's face, trying to keep him as much at ease as he could. "Do you remember anything about the car? That officer your mom talked to said you think you saw the license plate? The numbers on the back of the car?"

"This is my Aunt Brooke, not my momma," Jamie said matter-of-factly.

Flack chuckled softly, raising his eyes to meet the beauty who stood behind the boy. She was shaking her head slightly, a smile playing across her pretty features. So she was his aunt. Not his mom.

"Well, my apologies there, Jamie," he said, meeting his eyes again as he pushed the thoughts to the back of his mind. Now was not the time. "So your Aunt Brooke…she mentioned you saw the license plate?" The boy nodded. "Can you remember what was on it? Letters, numbers, anything like that?"

"0313," Jamie said with confidence, his blond head bobbing. "I remember because it's my bunny Chester's birthday."

Flack grinned. "Your bunny Chester's birthday, huh? Some coincidence that is. How about letters? Did you see any letters?"

Jamie's face scrunched up again. "I think there was a V and a F."

Flack nodded, writing down the details in his memo pad. "That's one heck of a recollection you've got there, kid," he said, smiling at the boy. "I wouldn't want to play Memory against you."

Jamie giggled, his smile splitting across his face. "Aunt Brooke stinks at that game."

His aunt sighed behind him, and Flack grinned when she ruffled his hair, the boy squirmed away from her even as he grinned back. "Oh, come on," he said, returning his book to his jacket pocket. "I bet she's not that bad."

"No, I am," Brooke replied, shrugging. "He kicks my butt every game."

Flack winced playfully, leaning back in his chair. "Yikes…hopefully you weren't playing for dough."

"We eat dough sometimes," Jamie chimed in.

Both Flack and Brooke laughed at that, and the brunette patted the boy's shoulder affectionately. "Not that kind of dough, Jame," she said, smiling.

She really was gorgeous when she smiled, Flack thought.

He watched as her eyes met his, and he saw her head tilt slightly to the side as she took him in. He cleared his throat, suddenly feeling a little uncomfortable under her gaze. She looked familiar, he came to realize. Like he'd met or seen her somewhere before. But he was finding it hard to believe he'd forget a smile like that.

"Are you two okay?" he asked, his eyes looking them both over for any injuries.

Brooke shook her head. "No, we're fine," she said. "Just a little shook up…we weren't far behind her…when it happened." She shrugged, shifting on her feet slightly. She cast a quick look over her shoulder, her face returning disturbed after catching sight of the body bag being lifted into the coroner's van. "Poor girl," she said softly.

Flack nodded, his eyes taking in the same scene she had. Mac was right. It never got easier.

"Did that girl get hurt?" Jamie asked, looking between the two of them.

Flack raised his eyes to Brooke, watching as she looked down at her nephew, seeming to search for a gentle way to explain to the child that the girl was far worse than hurt. He leaned forward, catching her eye before he angled his head towards Jamie. "Yeah, kid. She got hurt. But, thanks to you, we're going to be able to catch the guy that hit her with his car. You and your awesome memory saw to that. You, my friend, are one awesome eye witness."

He was rewarded with a smile, and he settled back in his chair, raising his eyes to meet Brooke's again. She was looking at him in grateful silence, her smile expressing her gratitude better than any words could say. He nodded back, smiling himself. His eyes flicked beyond her shoulder, and the sight of Danny Messer waving him back over to the crime scene. He raised his head at him, sliding out of his chair as he looked down at the boy again. "Thanks for all your help, buddy. You were a real hero today."

"I have a cape, too," Jamie said, grinning up at him proudly.

"A cape? Man, that's the coolest thing I think I've ever heard. Where can I get one of those?"

"Aunt Brooke can make you one, can't you, Aunt Brooke," he said, peering up at the woman behind him. She smiled down at him, and he turned back to Don. "She's really good at making things."

Flack smiled, nodding. "I don't doubt that," he said, watching as those captivating hazel eyes met his, and he was rewarded with a small smile. He reached into his pocket and withdrew one of his business cards, taking a step closer to Brooke as he held it out to her. "In case you remember anything later on," he said.

Brooke nodded, and reached for the card, her fingers lightly grazing his as she grabbed ahold of its end.

He nearly pulled back at the shot of electricity that skyrocketed up his arm, and he saw her eyes widen slightly, as if she felt it too. They held their position for a long moment, eyes fixed on each other, before she withdrew quickly, sliding the card into her back pocket. She smiled then, nodding slightly. "Thank you, detective," she said softly, resting her hand on Jamie's shoulder as she looked at him.

He nodded, shoving his hands into the pockets of his slacks. "Thank you, Miss Davis," he said, before smiling down at Jamie. "You too, champ." He was rewarded with a small smile and a head bob, and he grinned. He met the eyes of Brooke Davis once more before he headed back towards the crime scene.

He couldn't help the glance he threw over his shoulder as he neared the yellow tape. Brooke was pressing a gentle kiss to the top of Jamie's head as he slid off the chair, his small hand reaching up automatically to grasp hers tightly. She looked over her shoulder as they started down the sidewalk, her eyes meeting his once more. She smiled softly again, raising her free hand in a farewell wave, before she turned away.

Don heard a low whistle next to him, and he looked over to see Danny staring after them as well.

"Who was the broad?" he asked, tilting his head as they rounded the corner up the street.

Don shook his head, surprised at the feeling of jealousy he felt at his friend's attention to Brooke. "Just a witness," he snapped, turning towards the crime scene.

Danny pursed his lips as he frowned, falling into step with him. "Just a witness? Looked a bit more than just taking a statement from where I was standing, Donnie."

"Maybe you should have moved your position, Messer," Don replied, shoving his friend slightly as he headed towards his car. He couldn't help but smile at the chuckle that rose from his colleague, and he shook his head as he opened the driver side door. He leaned against it, letting his gaze once more travel to the now deserted corner where Brooke Davis and her nephew Jamie had disappeared.

He wiggled the fingers of his right hand, frowning. That was one hell of a contact shock.

He'd never felt that before. Not even with Jess…

He shook his head, refusing to think about his late girlfriend and partner. Certainly refusing to think of Brooke Davis in that manner. She was just a witness, like he'd told Danny. Nothing more.

But for some reason, as he climbed behind the wheel of his car, he couldn't get her hazel eyes out his mind.

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So…there…the first chapter is up. I shall let you all be the judge of whether or not I should continue. I'm secretly hoping you think I should. My dream, I can safely say, is now running amok in my head, and I fear it won't be satiated until I tell its story. So let me know what you think!