A/N – A new AU Brulian story that I'm actually really excited about! Hope you guys are interested!

How to Save a Life

Chapter 1 -

"You can clutch the past so tightly to your chest that it leaves your arms too full to embrace the present."

Brooke can't remember winters in Tree Hill being this cold, and she had spent her whole life growing up in this town. For some reason, this year, the trees look barer, the winds are more forceful, and the air is more frigid.

This year, January has become her least favorite month.

Sighing, she pulls up alongside the curb, glancing at the dashboard's clock. Two-thirty. Right on time.

She watches as students flood out of Tree Hill Elementary and remembers a simpler time when she had been so young – so naive and innocent… Unaware of the true tragedies life can bring.

The back car door opens, jerking her out of her depressing thoughts, as a young blonde child climbs in her suv, buckling his seatbelt.

For him, she'll have to put on a brave face.

"Hey, handsome," she greets, trying her very best to smile for her eight-year-old son. As expected, this hasn't been easy on him either.

"Hi, mom," his voice is dull and low.

"How was school today?" She doesn't turn around to see his face. Instead, she eyes him from the rear view mirror. He doesn't say a single word; just makes a face. He hasn't spoken much since it's happened. He was never the talkative one to begin with. Always much more consumed by his inner thoughts, putting them onto paper in written word. He got that from his father, Brooke notes.

"Okay," Brooke replies to his silence, nodding at him in the mirror. "We'll talk more when we get home…Okay, Colton?" She sees him nod slowly and takes this as her "ok," putting her car from park to drive and merging into the street.

The chances of she and Colton actually talking at home are slim to none, and she knows this. But she's reached the point of such desperation that she'll take anything she can get. And if that's a few gestures and sighs from her disgruntled eight-year-old, then so be it.

They sit through dinner in silence. Like they have for the better part of this month. Brooke barely eats and instead spends most of her time at their dining room table pushing her food around with her fork on her plate. Sometimes, she'll sit and watch Colton. She'll study the way he squints his eyes when he's deep in thought; the way on most nights, he'll bring a book to the table and read with his meal (and Brooke won't even fight him on this – they're not having much conversation these days anyway). She likes it when he reads; when he'll pick a challenging book for his reading level. It makes him more like his father. It hurts, but it's comforting all the same.

When it's time for bed, he heads off to his room. Brooke tells him she'll be up in a minute to tuck him in. He usually will argue that he's eight; that's "way too old to be tucked in to bed!" But lately, he doesn't protest. Having Brooke by his side at night, telling him everything will be okay in the morning, makes him feel better…but only sometimes.

"Hi, baby. You ready for bed?" She finds him already underneath his covers, clutching the one book he's become extremely attached to as of late. An Unkindness of Ravens by Lucas Scott. Brooke frowns slightly at the book clutched underneath his arm. She has the same one on her nightstand.

Slowly she takes a seat on the edge of his bed.

"Mama…?" He looks towards her slowly. Their glances meet and Brooke feels her heart stop at the sight of Colton's blue eyes. She gulps and swipes at her tears, nodding and encouraging him to speak. "Is everything going to be okay?" He timidly questions.

She leans closer, smoothing out his blonde hair. "Of course, Colt," she answers with a sad smile. "In time, you and me are going to be okay. I promise." She grabs hold of his free hand and clasps it between hers. "We just have to…adjust. I know it's not going to be easy. But as long as we have each other…"

The young boy nods at his mother's words, wanting so very bad to believe in them. But, he just has one more question. "Why…why did daddy have to leave us?"

"Oh, Colton," she sighs. She hates crying in front of her son. She doesn't want to appear weak before him. She's supposed to be able to support him. How is he supposed to believe that everything will be perfectly okay if she can't even be strong? "Daddy got very sick. But he did not leave us. He is still here, in our hearts, watching over us, okay? Nothing will ever change that, you hear me?"

"Lucas…" Brooke frantically ran into the hospital room. "Lucas!"

"It's okay, pretty girl. I'm okay, I'm fine." His voice is hoarse and weak.

Brooke swallows back tears. She doesn't believe him. Not this time. He heart has failed him. His HCM has become too overpowering and his medication just isn't working like it used to.

"Don't worry," he says, sensing her apprehension. "Everything's going to work out, I promise."

Brooke walks into her empty bedroom and slides into her side of the bed. She reaches over and grabs a book identical to her son's. Holding it to her chest, she finally allows herself to cry out all the emotions she's held in all day. It's hard keeping everything all bottled in and having nobody to talk to about it. Nobody will ever be able to understand her pain.

She's told Colton numerous times that tomorrow will be a better day, but in truth, she's not entirely sure that, that is true. Because, it's been nearly a month since Lucas has died and it seems that the days are only getting worse. They're slower and more painful and sometimes she feels like she's about to die.

She's not sure things will ever get better.

Saturdays are always the worst. Because Saturdays used to be family days. The three of them would stay home, watch movies, and play board games all day. Sometimes they'd go over to Nathan and Haley's – but that's even become painful now. All memories are tainted; nothing has gone unharmed.

So instead, Saturdays are now spent in isolation. Brooke will lock herself up in her room and work on some sketches, and Colton will stay cooped up in bed either playing video games or reading a good book. They miss their old Saturdays, but it's a mutual understanding that those days can never be had again.

Brooke is surprised when the doorbell rings one Saturday afternoon. She'd spoken to Haley just an hour before, so she knows it can't be her stopping by for a visit.

She walks through her quiet house to the front door, opening it to reveal a stranger. Lots of people have stopped by within the past month to offer condolences and bring flowers, but this person seems disconnected, an acquired smirk on his face.

"Can I help you?" Brooke tries to be polite as she can be, but she's frankly not in the mood today. Or any day to be exact.

The man offers a slight chuckle. "Yeah, hi. I'm not sure if you know who I am or not, but I'm Julian Baker," he extends his hand out for a greeting.

Brooke slowly accepts his handshake and replies slowly, "Brooke Davis Scott…Can I help you?" She repeats.

"Okay," Julian mutters with a laugh. "Cleary you don't know who I am. Okay, well, I work for a production company, I'm a producer…And last month I optioned the rights to Ravens."

Suddenly something clicks. The name does sound familiar. But with everything that has happened, Lucas's trip out to L.A. nearly two months ago seems like an eternity ago. And now is just not the time.

"Right," she nods. "Well, I'm sorry but now, well to put it best, just really isn't the right time. My husband-"

"-Passed away," Julian cuts in. "I'm so sorry to hear that."

Brooke eyes him suspiciously. If he was "so sorry," wouldn't those have been the first words out of his mouth once the door had been opened?

"I'm sure you are…" Brooke mumbles under her breath, but Julian hears.

"No," he shakes his head. "I really am…it's just I didn't personally know Lucas like that….and my head is all business and-"

"Excuse me?" She expresses, clearly offended. "You have some nerve to come into my house and-"

"-Look, I'm sorry," he cuts her off once more. "We got off on the wrong foot. I didn't mean to disrespect you in that way, it's just-"

"-Just that you're an insensitive jerk?" She snaps back. "I think you should leave."

"Well maybe there's a better time when I can come back…"

Brooke scoffs and folds her arms against her chest. Is this guy serious? "Maybe you should find a new book too," she states plainly.

Julian looks confused at the brunette before shaking his head. A new book? This is a done deal. Reaching into his messenger bag, he pulls out copies of papers that are full of legal technicalities and signatures. "Here," he voices, handing them to her. She hesitantly accepts them, but doesn't even look at them. Instead, she folds them in half. "Take a look at those forms, and then give me a call, okay, Brooke Davis?" He steps down from the porch steps, turning around once more. "And for the record, I really am sorry."

She watches as he gets into his car and drives off down the road.

What just happened?

She opens up the papers she had folded and her mind jumbles up at all the information she catches sight of. She doesn't know what half of it means, but what she can comprehend doesn't sit well with her. She sees Lucas's signature, giving all rights to Julian Baker to make the novel into a movie.

All she can ask is how will she be able to get out of this?

A/N – Review and let me know if I should continue this! :)