Of all of the things in Brooke Davis' life that made her who she was, the most defining of them all was sleeping right in front of her. She used to believe that a person was made up of all of their experiences in their lifetime, but that was until she became a mother. Because for Brooke Davis, becoming a mother had made her realize that, until then, she hadn't been experiencing anything at all.

As she gazed in wonder at the little head cradled into her chest, she felt nothing but love and adoration for her child, despite the act she put on earlier to scold the little girl for being impolite. It caused her great pain to punish her child but Brooke did not want to be the type of mother she had had growing up, too unloved for rules, because rules showed care. Something that Brooke had learned much later in life.

The little head stirred in sleep against her and Brooke placed a kiss into the downy hair, shifting slightly until the child's weight was balanced in her arms, and carried her into her own room, tucking the little body under the covers and backing slowly from the room. She left the door just slightly ajar as she did every night, the crack of light from the hall beyond casting a beam of light that illuminated the face of the sleeping child.

Brooke sighed in relief. The nightmares that had plagued her child over the past fortnight had meant that Brooke had gotten no sleep as well. Concern devoured her. Ella had never been a child disturbed by nightmares. She had been sleeping through the night since she was four months old. But the past couple weeks she had awoken Brooke, screaming in terror until her mother climbed into bed with her and rocked her back into a restless slumber.

Brooke picked up the phone from its cradle and dialled the familiar number until the other woman answered the phone without so much as a hello.

"She's finally asleep?" Haley asked.

"Finally," Brooke sighed. "I don't know how long she'll be out this time for though."

Haley could feel the palpable tension in her friend even through the phone. "I'm sure it's just a phase," she reassured.

"I'm hoping."

"Did you finish your sketches and send them in?" Haley asked, ever the concerned mother to even those who weren't her children.

"Yes," Brooke replied. "Thanks again for taking Ella this afternoon. You're a life saver."

"Oh no problem. Jamie loved the company."

"I think I'm going to head to bed now, too," Brooke said. "Try and catch some sleep in case Ella wakes up during the night."

"Good idea," her friend replied. "Still on for tomorrow?"

"It's a date," Brooke said. "The only one I've had in awhile actually," she added light-heartedly as an afterthought.

Haley laughed. "I'll see you tomorrow at four."

OTHOTHOTH

"Ella, we're late!" Brooke called up the stairs.

"Coming, Mommy!" Replied the almost four year old. Brooke could hear her little feet running circles across the carpeted stairs above her until at last she appeared at the top, dressed in little leggings and a long top, ever so concerned about her choice in outfit.

She had long ago stopped allowing her mother to pick her outfits, refusing only to wear something if it was by her own volition. Which suited Brooke just fine since her very stylish daughter had definitely inherited her sense in fashion. While her personality was very much her mother, Ella's looks were mostly her father. Dark blonde hair in beachy waves down her back, big, expression filled blue eyes. Except her dimples, puckered into the corner of each cheek. Those were all her mother.

"I'm ready now," she said with a grin as she reached the bottom of the stairs.

Brooke grabbed her navy peacoat and bent to put it on her little body, kissing Ella's forehead in the process.

"Yes you are, munchkin. Now let's go see your cousin Jamie."

There was no protest from the small child who instinctively took her mother's hand and followed her with the trust only a child shows for their mother out of the house and to Nathan and Haley's a short distance away.

They were waiting, as they always were, on the porch of their family home. Jamie jumping up and down excitedly as he waved at Ella from his spot by the door, begging permission to go running to the driveway to meet them. Nathan gave the nod of permission and Jamie came flying across the lawn towards them.

"Where's mine, little man?" Brooke asked in fake hurt after Jamie hugged Ella.

"Hi Auntie Brooke," he said sheepishly and walked into her embrace.

She savoured the feeling of his little body safe in her arms and remembered a time, not too long ago, when she held him for the first time, resting his tiny body on her own giant baby bump, terrified that very shortly she would have one of her own just like this.

"Come on!" Jamie said, pulling her from her distant thoughts. "I want to show Ella my new toy!"

The two children ran with enthusiasm back towards the house and inside without another word to the adults, leaving them laughing and shaking their heads in their wake. Brooke slowly made her way up the porch to Haley and Nathan.

"How'd she sleep last night?" Haley asked, concerned.

"Don't ask," Brooke replied.

Haley rubbed her arm and led her inside to the kitchen. Nathan took her coat and kissed her cheek in hello and sauntered off to check on the children.

"You okay Brooke?"

"It's almost Ella's birthday." It was enough of a response that Haley understood the implications.

"You wish he was here for it."

"I wish he was here for all of it," Brooke replied. "Not just her birthday. Her life. She's asking so many questions now. Why Jamie has a dad and she doesn't."

Haley felt tears spring to her eyes and cursed the man she used to call her best friend.

"Lucas would adore her if he knew her." It was hardly a consolation.

"But he doesn't," Brooke replied. "He made damn sure to never look back the moment he left with Peyton."

"Have you considered looking for him again?"

Brooke shook her head. "I stopped looking for that man a long time ago. If he thought anything here was worth missing, he would have checked in a long time ago. It's been nearly five years since anyone's heard from him."

Haley sighed, debating on how much the truth she was withholding would hurt her best friend.

"Actually," she begin tentatively.

Brooke's head snapped up from her chest. "You've heard from him?"

Haley nodded slowly. "Well, not me personally. He called Nathan a couple days ago."

Brooke was speechless. She wondered what had been the catalyst that had made Lucas Scott make contact for the first time in five years.

"What did he want?" She asked.

"He said he was just checking in. Wanted to know how everyone was doing."

Brooke nodded slowly, mind reeling with the possibilities of this new revelation.

"I didn't know if I should tell you or not," Haley said.

"No, no, it's okay. I can handle it, Hales."

"I know you can Brooke. You're one of the strongest women I know. But this is Lucas we're talking about here. He's always been a bit of a touchy subject."

Brooke nodded her head and her attention was diverted with the return of Nathan and the two kids.

"Mommy, Mommy, look at what Jamie has!" Ella exclaimed excitedly as she showed Brooke his new toy.

"Woah!" Brooke exclaimed. "That's pretty cool!"

Ella opened her mouth to explain what it did but was distracted at the sound of the doorbell ringing. Brooke's heart stopped.

"I'll get it!" Jamie cried as he sprang to the door.

"Me too!" Ella cried and shot off after him.

The two children pulled the heavy door open and gazed up into the face of the tall man standing before them, both calling "Hi," in symmetry before the adults stepped in to see who was there.

OTHOTHOTH

So this is my first OTH fanfic. Please please please please pleeeeeease leave a review! It means so much to a writer. I'm hoping you guys enjoy this story because I'm loving writing it!