A/N – So I haven't written a Brooke and Lucas piece in…well a very long time! But with Lucas coming back for the episode tonight, I figured I'd write this short little one-shot considering I'm pretty sure BL won't have any scenes. This is strictly friendship though- and Julian is very much still in the picture! Enjoy!

Just Like They Always Do

Today is a slow day at the café – which is to be expected. There are so many more things Brooke would rather be doing, especially with Nathan's recent disappearance, but Haley had begged her to just run the café in the meantime. So, despite protests, that is what she will do for her best friend in her time of need.

She glances down at the counter where a poster lay. Tons of this same poster are now what plaster the walls – inside and out – of Karen's Café.

MISSING, is the bold word that is centered on top. Nathan Royal Scott.
She runs a shaky hand across the picture. How could this have happened? Nathan is strong. Nathan is brave. How could he be in so much trouble, so much danger?
When did life take such an ugly, twisted turn?

The jingling bell atop the door rings, signaling a customer has walked in. When she looks up to greet whoever it may be, she realizes that this is not just any customer. This customer's order will certainly have to be on the house.

"If it isn't Lucas Scott," she addresses, and despite all the crazy circumstances, she is able to produce a warm, genuine smile.

"Brooke Davis," he plays along, but in response gets a raised eyebrow and a swat to his arm.

"It's Brooke Davis Baker to you," she teasingly says. "But maybe you don't know that since you guys totally ditched my wedding," she playfully rolls her eyes. But underneath the banter, there's still a pain in her heart. Having her two best friends not make it in for her big day really did hurt.

"Okay, point made," he nods, accepting the cup of coffee Brooke has poured before him. "How have you been?" He gets serious.

Brooke draws out a sigh and shrugs. "Better than Haley," she settles on as an answer. Yes, in the past few weeks she's had her own problems with her own little family, but it's truly nothing compared to this. She can't even begin to imagine how she'd feel if it was Julian who was missing.

She watches as Lucas's eyes squint, deep in thought. Some things never change, she guesses.

"We'll find him, Brooke," he assures her, and all she can do with his statement is nod silently. He can't promise something like that. The police can't even promise something like that. But Lucas has always had this savior complex about him – since high school. He'd run into burning buildings, schools with guns…anything…just to save the people who matter the most to him.

"So tell me," he quickly changes the somber subject. "How have you been? Peyton showed me a picture of the twins. They're beautiful, Brooke."

She has to admit, whenever she smiles lately she feels guilty because of the whole Nathan thing. However, any mention of her precious baby boys is enough to make her feel so happy.

"Thank you," she says sincerely. She has to remind herself that Lucas has no idea of the heartbreaking struggle she and Julian went through to get pregnant. "I bet Sawyer's getting big," she notes.

"Turning four soon," he grins at the mention of his small, blonde, curly-haired daughter. "More and more like Peyton everyday," he comments.

Brooke laughs. "Well then I say you've got your work cut out for you."

"You can say that again," he agrees. He doesn't even want to imagination what she'll be like once she becomes a teenager.

"Hey, Luke…I gotta ask you something."

The way she says this, he thinks it will be some serious question. "Of course. Anything."

Her face scrunches up as she reaches to touch his head. "What is with this hair?"

"Hey!" he pushes back in his chair, feigning hurt. "Oh, come on. Haley and Jamie gave me the same thing. But it's…it's chic, no? You of all people should know that, Miss Fashion Designer."

Brooke scoffs under her breath. "I don't seem to be much of one of those these days. So much for changing the world, huh?"

"Hey, don't say that!" he immediately argues. "Brooke, you can't possibly believe that. You've changed so many lives. For starters, those two little boys of yours are the luckiest babies in the world to have you as their mother. You've changed Julian's life…and you've changed mine." His blue eyes stare into her hazel ones. He feels like he's thrown back to the night of that party, having her read an excerpt from his book. He is sure that those words still ring true for her. "You push people to become better, Brooke. Never just see past that. What you do is incredible."

Tears well in her eyes. For a second she had forgotten what Lucas's words could do to her. They could make her see past all of the bad, if only for a second, and focus on the good.

He glances at his watch and stands up. "I promised Haley I'd get back to watch Jamie and Lydia."

She walks around the counter to wrap her arms around him. She's not sure when their next hug will be. This is the first one in years. "It was good seeing you, Luke," she whispers thoughtfully, still embraced in his welcoming arms.

"You too," he mumbles back.

As he turns to walk away, she calls after him once more.

"Luke!" He turns around, curious. "Tell Peyton I miss her?"

He gives one of his half-smiles, an acquired Lucas Scott trait. "Of course."

And then the bell jingles on the door and he steps out, back to the real world.

Brooke stares back down at the missing poster. It was nice seeing Lucas again, but she knows this was no casual visit. He's back to save Nathan.

Nathan will come back. Lucas will leave. And then everyone will just move on with their lives again. Separately. Just like they always do.

A/N – Hope you liked this! :)