Disclaimer: I don't own One Tree Hill
Title: Too Bad
Chapter One: Long Days
~ Brooke ~
Brooke's shift started at six am and it was now nearing midnight and she was still at work. She worked at Main Street Diner, which was exactly what it sounded like; it was a diner on Main St. When she let herself think about it, she was baffled at how she'd wound up in this situation; four children, an abusive boyfriend, and a job that she absolutely hated.
When she had been a teenager she had thought that one day she would be a fashion designer with her own clothes line. Children had rarely entered her mind, let alone the thought of having a few. And if someone had told her that she would stay with a man who beat her on a regular basis she would've told them that they were out of their fucking mind. And yet, here she was.
She was twenty three years old and she took every shift she could get. She had to save up enough money to get away. Her children had lived with violence for too long. She wasn't going to take the chance that Julian would take his anger out on the kids. Bryce, Liam, Logan, and Brennan were her life now and she'd be damned if she ever let someone hurt them.
During her fifteen minute break she hurried back to the former store room that the owners of Main Street Diner had allowed her to turn into a playroom for her children. The four young children were asleep in the two pack n' play's that had been set up. The four month old twins, Bryce and Liam were in one play pin, and fourteen month old Brennan along with two year old Logan were laying in the other. Logan woke up as Brooke entered.
"Mama" Logan said sleepily.
"Hey baby girl" Brooke said as she picked her only daughter up. The two year old clung to Brooke, nuzzling her head in the crook of her mother's neck. Brooke gently swayed side to side, comforting the toddler. "You need to sleep little one. Mama has to get back to work soon."
"No, mama, no. Stay." Logan pleaded.
"I'll be done in a little bit then we can all go home, okay?"
"K mama" the little girl said. Brooke kissed her on the forehead and laid her back down in the play pin.
Brooke had little over an hour before she would get off work. At one, she would pack up her children and take them back to the hell hole they called home. The sooner she could save up enough money the better. She wanted to leave. She wanted to take her children back to the place that should've been their home. She wanted to go to Tree Hill.
~ Lucas ~
On his way back from a book signing in Knoxville, Luke decided to stop and eat somewhere outside of Charlotte before continuing on his way to Tree Hill. He hadn't had anything to eat since breakfast and he was starving. He pulled off the first exit he came to, and decided to stop at the first restaurant that looked like it might serve decent food. Main Street Diner came up on his left and he decided to give it a try, it actually reminded him of his mom's old diner.
It was a quant looking place stuck in between an auto body shop and a grocery store. The neon sign out front flickered with a certain charm and the paint and window treatments gave it a welcoming appearance. With a smile at the thought of finally getting something to eat, Luke pulled into the parking lot and got out of the car. It was nearing 12:30 and the Diner was practically empty. As long as it was open, Luke didn't care if he was the only patron in the place, he just wanted the food.
Luke waited by the cash register for someone to come seat him. All the sudden he heard a gasp coming from his left. He turned at saw the last person he would've ever expected to find here.
"Brooke" he said the name as a whisper, putting everything he felt for her into it. Never had a word been said with so much love.
"Lucas" she said with the same feeling. She ran to him and he took her into his arms. They didn't kiss, they didn't need to. Just the fact that she was once again with him, that they were connected after so long apart, was enough. He held her tight to him and relished the feeling that he never thought he would have again. She felt perfect to him, the way her body blended with his, it was as if they were made for each other.
Reluctantly he let her go. Ignoring the stares from the few customers and the even less numerous staff he examined her, taking in every aspect of the woman he loved. She had changed her hair, it was shorter now. Her face was different; she had always had an air of contentment around her, now it was as if the weight of the world were on her shoulders.
Yet another negative change he found was her weight. Brooke had always been skinny, but now she was a few pounds from anorexic. His hands were on her upper arms and when he took them away he saw something that shook him to his core.
There were marks… bruises on her arms. Someone had done this to her, someone had grabbed her so hard it had left bruises on her beautiful skin. He felt anger roar inside of him. It was different than he had ever felt before. Never had he been so enraged. He decided then and there to find who ever had done this to her and make sure they never hurt another person again.
"Brooke, who did this? Who hurt you?" He hated that the first things he said to her after so long were about her being hurt. They should've been words of undying love.
She looked disconcerted. He wasn't sure why, whether it was because she didn't want to tell him, or if it was that she didn't expect him to find the marks, he couldn't tell.
"Luke, don't. It's not your problem" she said with a smile that showed no humor.
"Pretty girl, if someone is hurting you damn right it's my problem. No one has the right to hurt you. Tell me who it is and I'll take care of it. I promise he'll never hurt you again."
Finally one of them came to their senses and realized that the middle of a diner, no matter how empty, was not the place to be having this discussion. Brooke took Luke's hand and pulled him back behind the counter. With a few words to her manager and his consent she took Lucas through the door marked 'employee's only' and into the back of the diner.
"Lucas, it's not that easy. He's my boyfriend. I want to leave, I do, but I have no place to go, and even if I were to find a place, he'd track me down. I know I have to get away I just don't know how I can stay away."
"We'll figure it out Brooke, please, we can do this, come with me" Lucas pleaded. He had tears in his eyes for her plight; Brooke's were falling steadily down her face.
"There's one more thing. Well, four more things actually. Luke, it's not just me that needs to get away. I have children. Julian hasn't hurt them yet, but I know it's just a matter of time before he hits them too. I don't think he even cares that they're his kids."
"Brooke, that's fine let's get them now, where are they staying? I'll go and pick them up. There's no reason to stay here another day. We can be back home to Tree Hill in a couple of hours." It was that that did it for her. She completely broke down. It was as if all her dreams had come true. The man she loved was here telling her that he would take her and her children away from the one who terrorized her and back to the only home she had ever known. He pulled her to his chest in another hug and after a few minutes she had stopped crying.
"They're here Luke, the owner lets me keep them here while I work." She stepped out of the hug and opened the door to his left. Brooke left the door open for him to follow so he did. He found her bent over a play pin, one of two in the room, picking up a small child. He would guess the child's age at about two years old. The little girl was awake and looking around.
"Mama, we goin' home?" The child asked. Luke grinned at her little voice. The child was a miniature of Brooke, even down to the raspy voice.
"Yeah baby, we're going home. This is my friend Luke, he's going to take us home. Will you let him hold you while I get your brothers?" Brooke asked her daughter.
The little girl nodded and Luke took her into his arms. "Luke, this is Logan. Logan, baby say 'hi' to Luke." Brooke encouraged her daughter.
"Hi Luke" the girl said. Little did she know that it wouldn't be long before she would have Luke wrapped around her little finger.
"Hello Logan" Luke replied with a smile.
"Do you think you can hold one more?" Brooke asked, pulling him out of his thoughts.
"Yes, of course" Luke replied. Brooke gave him a smile that lit up the room.
"This is Brennan" Brooke said as she placed an even smaller child in his free arm, this one in blue so he guessed it was a boy.
"How many more you got back there?" Luke joked with her.
"Just two more" she said with a smile.
Expertly she picked up the remaining two children and introduced the sleeping babies to Luke. "This is Bryce" she said nodding toward the fair haired child cradled in her left arm. "And this is Liam" she said motioning this time to the dark haired baby on her right.
The babies were asleep but Luke said hi anyway. "Hello boys." It brought a smile to Brooke's face and Luke got the feeling that she hadn't done much smiling lately.
"Let's go home"