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today was supposed to be the happiest day of riley's life. well, the second happiest day of his life. the first would have been what followed if today had gone as planned. if today had gone as planned, riley would be engaged right now. if today had gone as planned, amara cassell would be wearing the diamond ring that he bought for her. take five was a "first of three" act, and while that meant they were making five grand a show, after expenses, and splitting what was left four ways, riley had made about that much for every show they had done so far in april. and he spent half of it on a ring for amara. unfortunately for riley samuels, today was turning out to be one of the worst days of his life, because amara turned him down.
"not now." was what she had said when he asked, but all riley heard was "no." he did not understand why not then? they loved each other. riley loved amara more than anyone in the world, and he knew he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. he had told her that before. hell, amara had told him before that she wanted to marry him. now he was asking the question, and suddenly her answer was "not now?" he was upset, and he was hurting.
above all else, riley was angry. he was so fucking mad that amara said no to him. that was not how this was supposed to go, and his temper was once again getting the best of him. riley had been trying to be better about controlling his temper, so instead of going out and doing something stupid, he went and knocked on the door of the one person he thought might understand. when brent opened his hotel room door, riley opened his mouth to explain before brent could ask what riley was doing there. "i just did something really fucking stupid, and i'm really pissed off about it, and i didn't trust myself not to go off and do something even more stupid because i'm mad, so i came here."
tour had started a few days before and brent, well brent was happy to be on the road again. he was less happy about leaving jo and gabi behind. his family was his entire world and he always felt incomplete without them. of course, his career was important ot him. his career included his best friend. and for the american leg of the tour, there were two other bands that depended on the jetsons to bring in the crowd to get their name out there. he didn't know much about one of the bands, but the second band? that was a band he felt personally invested in due to his friendship with riley. riley had been hired by his wife, and brent felt an affinity towards the boy. there was a similarity between them that made brent certain that riley might just turn out okay.
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everything had been going really fucking well for riley. take five had spent all of march on a radio tour, trying to persuade stations to play "castaway" even though they did not have a record label backing them, and it seemed like it was starting to work. people who had been at those studio sessions were calling in and requesting the song, and some stations were spinning it without it having been requested at all. on top of that, take five was now officially on their first real tour. they were the first of three acts on the jetsons tour, and they were playing in fucking stadiums in front of tens of thousands of people every night. it was an absolutely incredible feeling, and the audiences seemed to be receiving them now. riley should have been on top of the world. for the most part, he was. proposing to amara was supposed to be the icing on the cake.
instead, it was what was bringing him down from his "we're on tour" high. it was killing the buzz, and riley hated amara for that. take five worked so fucking hard for this moment, and her saying no was ruining it completely. riley entered the hotel room, nodding in thanks as he did so, and he went over to the window and looked out at the bustling city beneath them. when brent asked what he did, riley reached into his pocket and pulled out the ring, he turned to brent and showed it to him. "i proposed to amara after the show tonight. she said no." riley wanted nothing more than to chuck the ring across the room, but he did not out of respect for brent's space, and his request that he did not start throwing things (because riley knew if he threw the ring, he might throw something else). instead, he shoved the ring back in his pocket and trudged over to the counch in brent's room, flopping down on it, staring at the ceiling. "she wasn't fucking supposed to say no!" he exclaimed angrily, punching the side of the couch with his fist.
i proposed to amara after the show tonight. she said no. brent had to keep his lips from twitching upwards into a smile. there was something familiarly impulsive about the boy's words. it took him back to the night of his eighteenth birthday. it had been just after midnight in a hotel on their first tour. he'd bought a ring that morning, when he was seventeen, and he remembered the fact that he knew it was insane to do what he wanted to do, but knowing that it was the only thing tha the wanted. he remembered that jo had been talking about changing her last name and how smooth he'd felt suggesting that she change her last name to his before proposing. he remembered the brief moment of pure joy when he thought jo was saying yes and how quickly that joy had plummeted when she'd said no. he understood how riley felt. he'd been there.
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at this point, riley had spent enough time with brent jacobsen that riley picked up on the similarities between himself and the older man. he often wondered if the similarities between brent and riley were the primary reason that jo and brent had taken such an interest in him in the first place. not that the reason really mattered to riley, or that he really needed a reason. he was incredibly thankful to have brent and jo in his life no matter how it came about. regardless of the similarities between brent and riley, the next sentence out of brent's mouth took riley completely by surprise.
"jo was supposed to say yes the first time i asked her."
immediately, riley shot up, not even bothering to hide the look of surprise on his face. "no fucking way." he knew that he and brent had things in common, but this was on another level. for a second, it made riley feel better, because jo ended up marrying brent in the end. not only were they married, but they had a kid together. he frowned when brent admitted that jo told brent they were too young, because that was exactly what amara had told riley. soon, the anger that had temporarily been suppressed by surprise returned, and riley made a noise of frustration as he flopped backwards onto the couch again. "there's not going to be a next time." he confessed angrily. "we're done." as riley said the words, he could feel his heart breaking a little more, but most of all he felt an incredible amount of anger towards amara for giving up on him. for giving up on them.
the look of complete and total shock on riley's face at learning that jo had turned him down the first time made the confession worth it. he'd only told the guy so he wouldn't lose hope. brent? he'd never lost hope in his love for jo. he'd fought for it. time and time again, he'd fought for his relationship. the first time had been because he'd failed her, taken her for granted, just assumed that because they were dating they'd do things like prom without him having to ask. he fought for her every day, at least that's how he saw it. they chose to be together, even when the ground underneath them got rocky. and he didn't want riley losing that hope either. because well, love that was worth it was love that you had to fight tooth and nail for on occasion.
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riley had spent the better part of his relationship with amara fighting for. the fact that he had been the only one doing the fighting was part of why they had broken up the first time around. riley had asked amara to fight for him, and instead she broke his heart. though amara ended up coming to her senses and fighting for riley in the end, perhaps that should have been his first clue that the brunette was not ever going to marry him. they had both balked at the idea of commitment at the beginning of their relationship, and while both of them had come around to the idea, riley always kind of thought that he might have gotten there first. perhaps those all should have been signs. too bad he missed every single one of them.
he was less surprised to hear that jo and brent had broken up once before. riley supposed all couples that were in it for the long haul probably went through some sort of trial. his parents had gone through it. when riley was five, there were several months where he and his mom lived back in new york while the colts were on the road. he vaguely remembered his dad coming back on a break, but staying with andy and being confused. riley's own parents spent some time apart, but they made it through in the end. the problem was that with the rejection of his proposal, riley did not want to waste any more time on amara cassell. "i wouldn't have asked her to marry me if i didn't." he said hotly, turning his head to look at brent. it was followed by a small huff as he remembered what amara said to him about why she thought he wanted to get married. "i didn't give up on her." he snapped quickly. "she's the one who gave up on me."
i wouldn't have asked her to marry me if i didn't. the younger man's tone was harsh, hot headed, a tone that brent had heard from his own mouth more times than he could ever count. brent wasn't taken aback by it. why would he be taken aback by a harsh tone that had come from his own mouth more times than he could count? why would he be taken aback by someone defending their relationship when he'd had to defend his with jo countless times? his dad had never approved of his relationship with jo. people thought they'd been too young to get married. fans didn't think that his wife was good enough for him. any number of times, any number of reasons, people always had a damn opinion about his relationship and he was always coming to its defense. he hated it and he hated that he'd had caused riley even a moment of feeling like he had to defend his relationship. he threw his hands up in mock surrender, a look on his face telling the boy to chill, that nothing negative was meant by his question.
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"did she say she was giving up?"
to riley, that seemed like a loaded question. if you asked amara, she would probably say that no, she did not give up on riley for rejecting his proposal, because she technically said "not now." technically speaking, amara had never said the words "i'm giving up on you, riley samuels." she had not even said "i'm giving up on us." the way riley saw it, though, amara had given up on him. on them. she gave up on them the second she expressed concern that they were not ready. she gave up on them when she said not now, because it meant she did not have the faith riley had that they could make it. most importantly, she did not even try to fucking fight back when riley asked if this was it. if they were done.
once again, amara did not fight for him, and it ended with them breaking up. the moment she walked out the door without putting up any sort of fight, that was it. amara gave up, and there was nothing riley could do about it. hell, he was not even sure if he wanted to do anything about it. if amara did not want to marry him, or even be with him for that matter, riley was not going to force her to be with him. nobody wanted to be in a relationship with somebody who did not actually want to be in that relationship. that was masochistic. "she walked out." he explained. "doesn't get any fucking clearer than that."
brent remembered the times he'd walked away from jo. it hadn't been giving up. it'd been a tactical retreat. it'd been providing physical distance before he could say or do something that he knew he'd regret later. he didn't know amara well enough to know if that was the case for her though, so he held his tongue for once in his godforsaken life. until at least, riley said that it didn't get any clearer than walking away equating giving up. "not necessarily," he pointed out with a shrug of his shoulders. he didn't elaborate though, just left the words hanging between them. he didn't feel the words needed further elaboration.
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amara may have walked out, but riley did kick her out. that was how he knew that this was over. he told her to go, and she did not stay to try and fight for him, for them. not that he particularly wanted her to, if she did not want to marry him. he had no interest in being with somebody who did not want to be with him. "don't wanna be with someone who gives up on me." he said simply.
riley did not expect brent to have any sort of sage advice with how to deal with this situation, or that brent was going to tell him that amara would come back, and here's why, et cetera, et cetera. he came here for the exact reason he told brent that he had come to brent's room -- riley did not trust himself not to do something completely stupid if left to his own devices. he was in a foul enough mood that if he went out, he would go looking for a fight, and that was bad for riley, for take five, for fortitude, hell, even for the jetsons since take five were on their tour. he knew that brent liked riley enough that he would keep him from doing something completely idiotic. he nodded his head at brent's suggestion. "that sounds perfect." it also sounded like exactly what he needed because it would keep him out of trouble. he was glad to have brent in his life-- they were so alike that riley trusted brent would not judge his decisions. no matter how poor they might be.