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 When It All Falls Apart, tag • LUCY CARMICHAEL
the first thing brent did upon arriving back in london was find lucy. she needed to hear about this before the press caught wind of it. honestly, he hoped the press never did. he didn't need the world to hear about his divorce. he'd already told his mother and she promised to find a two bedroom apartment for him before he finished tour. if he knew his mother, she'd find something with furniture or set up to have furniture delivered. he'd given her access to a small bank account he'd set up after he left jo's with enough money to find him a place and get it set up. he left a note for jo on the kitchen counter explaining where the money had gone from their shared bank accounts. he wondered how bank accounts would work without a marriage. he'd never had one that didn't have her name on it. before they got married, his bank account was an envelope of money between his mattress and his rent was paid with cashier's checks. he wasn't looking forward to going home in two months, knowing that he wouldn't really be going home. there wasn't a home that didn't have his family in it.

brent didn't want to tell lucy and the others this. he didn't want to tell anyone. a part of him didn't want to admit it was real, but he couldn't deny it. he'd talked to jo. she'd said the words. i'm divorcing you, brent. she'd told him why and the worst part was, looking back, she wasn't wrong. hindsight, as they said, was twenty-twenty. brent took in a deep breath and knocked on lucy's door. when she opened the door, he asked to come in. the moment they were inside and he was certain they were alone, he sat on the edge of the bed. perched was the more accurate term. he'd been sitting for too long on his plane back, another commercial flight because he didn't want to waste band resources flying on a private plane to a destination that was so frequently travelled to. it was like his kia. he never did things the 'rockstar' way unless it was necessary. "i need to tell you this before the press finds out," he began, looking down at his hands because he was certain that he'd start crying if he looked in her eyes. "jo filed for divorce." saying it didn't make it seem more real and he'd already said it a few times - to his mother, to his mirror, to himself. each time he said it, he just hoped that it would stick and start to sound like something other than a nightmare.
                        
when brent came to lucy and said that he needed to go, lucy hesitated. leaving tour to go home when they were in america was one thing—that was an easy flight there and back. usually four hours or less. they were across the globe when brent announced that he needed to go home, and there was not a day off for a couple more days. going home then would mean that brent would miss two shows. it was a family emergency. something was going on back home, and brent felt like he needed to investigate it in person. lucy would be lying if she said she was not concerned. what was so huge that brent felt like he needed to miss shows to do it? brent had never missed shows before. none of them had. still, lucy trusted brent. if he said that he would tell her as soon as he was certain, then he would. that did not mean that the days brent was gone from tour were not spent wondering why the younger man had gone home, and telling members of the press who speculated about brent’s disappearance that it was a family matter and to keep their noses out of it.

there was a quiet knock on her hotel room door—brent had returned, and lucy hoped it would include an explanation. she watched him carefully: the way he moved, the way he sat on her bed, the way he double checked to make sure nobody else was around. something was wrong. something big had happened while brent was home, and lucy quietly braced herself with a deep breath as brent announced he needed lucy to know before the press got ahold of the story. lucy was not sure what she had been expecting brent to tell her, but it certainly was not that. like jeffrey and noelle, lucy had had the pleasure of watching brent and jo’s relationship for the last six years. they were kids when lucy met them, but even then she could see they were the real deal. lucy inhaled sharply. ”what?” she was not entirely sure she even heard him correctly.

lucy had been hesitant to let him leave tour, but it'd been important. he'd stressed that. he'd promised her that he'd come back, though when he said it he didn't know if it was true. if jo had told him to stay and fix things, he would've. instead, she told him to go back to tour. she told him that she needed space away from him, because they were over. the thought stung. it pierced his heart in a way he never anticipated. so he'd come back and he went to lucy's room, keeping his promise to his manager. he came back with a heavier heart than when he'd left, but with open eyes to the wreckage he'd been leaving around him. he remembered when lucy came to his house after his father died, trying to get him to open up and feel something. but he'd had very little reaction then either. his father's death had shut him down in ways he'd never imagined and now, it was ruining his life. a part of him wanted to blame his father for this shortcoming, for finding a way to ruin his life even after death. the other part of him knew that it wouldn't fix anything to blame his father. another part of him just blamed himself, because he was the one with this shortcoming, the one who'd shut so many people out to the point of losing his family.

when brent said the words, he didn't think they were real. even as he said them, they felt fake in his mouth. like this whole thing was a really long nightmare that he couldn't wake up from. but it wasn't. it was the truth and the more he said the words, maybe the truer they would sound. he saw the look on lucy's face, that the news had blindsided her as much as it had him. then she asked the word he dreaded: what?. he frowned, knowing he had to repeat it. knowing he had to explain it. "jo is divorcing me," he reiterated, putting emphasis on every word and pauses between them, making sure that they were clear and he wouldn't have to repeat the loathsome words again. because he hated those words. he hated that he'd done so much wrong to make those words be true. "i fucked up, luce. i fucked everything up." he wished he hadn't, or that he'd been able to find something right to say to make things better with jo. no, he wished that he'd been more aware of what was going on with himself before it came to this, going on with her. he wished that they never got to this point in the first place, because he loved her in a way he knew he'd never love again. he didn't think he had it in him to feel this way about anyone else. he knew he didn't want to feel this level of pain ever again, either.
                        
if lucy was being honest with herself (and brent), part of why she had hesitated to let him leave tour was that when brent promised he was coming back, lucy had not been one hundred percent sure that she believed him. if it was so bad that brent felt like going home to take care of whatever it was justified actually leaving tour and missing a couple of shows, then it was pretty huge and likely very life changing. there were so many questions lucy had had, but she did not get to ask because of brent's secrecy on the subject. he had sworn that as soon as he knew what he was dealing with, she would know. that did not put lucy's mind at ease at all. instead, it has caused her to worry even more. she did not sleep much while brent was gone (though lucy had not slept much this tour due to late night calls with jack anyway, but that was entirely her own fault). when brent returned, lucy was eager to hear what had happened.

even as brent explained the reason for his absence a second time, lucy was still in complete disbelief. from where lucy stood, brent and jo had always had a pretty solid relationship. it had not been easy, and there were things like the inga fiasco, but even then lucy had been sure the two of them would find their way back to each other because that had been a huge misunderstanding-- one she had been to blame for in small part. lucy wondered what had happened, or not happened, to cause jo to make this decision. though from the sound of it, she was not going to have to wait long to find out. "how?" she questioned as brent confessed that he fucked up, that jo's decision was his fault. "brent, what happened?"


each of the boys had left tour at least once over the long duration of their career, but none of it did it seriously. he was fairly certain he was the only one who'd ever flown around the world for just a few days only to return. he didn't blame lucy if she'd thought that he might not come back. he just never would tell her how close he'd been to throwing in the towel on his career to salvage his marriage. to him, it was a worthy trade. his family was everything to him. he'd always felt that way, but apparently, he'd not done so hot at showing it. the thought of all of it pierced his heart. it pissed him off, knowing that he'd gone so far to let jo down. that he'd done so much to let gabi down too. he was turning into his father, only instead of hurtful words, it was just absence and silence. no wonder jo was leaving him. she got that from ray. she didn't need it from her husband.

the words tumbled from brent's lips like poison. he'd fucked up. he'd done this. this was his fault. jo hadn't just woken up and decided she didn't love him. he'd stopped proving to her how much he loved her. his fault. the two words circled through his mind on refrain. finally, lucy spoke. asking what happened. asking how it was his fault. "i just -" he took a deep breath, trying to think how to word this. that was the problem. he wasn't good at opening up anymore. he wasn't good at letting people see the pain inside of him. ever since his dad died, that had been something he'd struggled with. he'd not felt like he should feel anything when his dad died. and when he'd been numb, he felt like everyone was judging him for it. when he'd feel up, he felt like people were telling him to be down. so he just - he stopped. he didn't even realize how much of him had stopped. "when my dad died, i just shut down and i guess i never restarted. i haven't been there for her." god he hated himself for it. he just hated himself for not being the man she needed him to be, for falling so far down the emotional rabit hole that he lost the only woman he'd ever loved.
                        
ending a relationship was never easy regardless of the circumstances. it always hurt. even in situations where someone was being emotionally or physically abusive, it was still difficult for the person being abused to leave because of the way they were manipulated. jo was a smart girl with a good head on her shoulders. if she was divorcing brent, there was most definitely a reason behind it-- the couple had been together long enough that it was not a decision she imagined jo made lightly, especially since they had a child together. brent was stubborn, and if he was saying that he fucked up, he probably had. lucy knew him well enough to know that. she listened as he explained what he went through after his father died. she remembered what he had been like during that first month, but lucy had not realized that it had continued after that. then again, lucy had been very much wrapped up in her own family's tragedy-- just a month after brent lost his father, lucy's own father died, and she would be lying if she said she had thought about much else once that happened. brent was not the only person in the room who had screwed up their relationship in the wake of their father's death. lucy had ruined her relationship with jack by choosing to move home to be with her mother who was drowning after the unexpected death of her husband. it was lucy's fault, and she would be a lucky woman if jack ever fully forgave her. even if they worked things out, lucy would probably never forgive herself. "what do you need to do? what do you need me to do?" lucy did not think he should put out a statement. the last thing they needed was for someone to bombard jo and gabi back home where there was nobody to protect them.

lucy had left new orleans after a little over a month after his father died, because her own father had died. he'd never held that against her, because she'd needed to be with her family. of course, she'd still been around for them when they were planning the tour, flying to where they were for press things, stuff like that. but north carolina had been where she'd been needed the most. the boys were on a break waiting for tour and publicity time. but she seemed to heal better than he had. or maybe she was just better at multitasking. if he'd been more like her, maybe he wouldn't be losing everything he held dear now. he heard her asking what he needed and shrugged. "keep it away from the press as long as possible?" he finally settled on. because what else could she do? she couldn't go and make jo not divorce him, nor would he want her to. he wanted jo to change her mind, but he had to do work to prove that he was still a good man, a good husband. he had to be a good man and a better husband than he'd been. jo wasn't just going to stay with him because someone told him to. "warn me if it gets out? or if you - uh - if you see a story about her and someone else, give me a warning?" he would hope that jo would tell him first, but he didn't know. that might be too weird. it was weird and painful enough to even think of jo with someone else. it broke his heart into a thousand pieces, the simple thought of it. that maybe one day she'd move on with someone that wasn't him. it made him almost want to run away and hide in sweden. which he couldn't do because he was a father. "and don't tell the other boys. i - i need to do that myself." it was his duty. they didn't need a band meeting over it.
                        
lucy listened to brent's list of demands, and nodded her head along with every one of them. there was no reason she could not keep an ear and eye out for all of those things. after the last time People ran a story about brent without her contact giving her a warning first, lucy had raised absolute hell. it was not going to happen a second time. not if the person she worked with wanted to keep their job. not if the jetsons' PR person wanted to keep their job. as for telling the other boys, lucy agreed that they needed to hear it from brent-- particularly since they were kids. "you got it." she confirmed. then, without waiting for brent's permission, lucy got up and pulled him into a tight hug. "if you need anything else, you know where to find me." that was a promise.
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