In Athens again, let's check in with Ryder as he runs into an old friend... :)


Scene 13: Brothers

A.D. 2015 

He wasn't even all that surprised, honestly. The notion that his mother-in-law and his father were getting it on grossed him out, quite a bit, but he had no trouble believing it. Parker Campion was hardly an upstanding man; he had always dabbled in more than his share of shady business, hiding dirty secrets and bad habits beneath a cool facade of dapper upper-middle-class respectability. And Katherine Weaver was... well, Katherine Weaver. The queen of squeaky-clean facades. Go figure that the woman who would sooner die than suffer disgrace in the spotlight was entangled in a tabloid-worthy scandal.

Ryder hoped that the accidentally sent messages last night hadn't been graphic sexts. Poor Lacey had to lay eyes on those texts. She had promptly deleted them, giving Ryder the briefest of summaries before proceeding to make every possible effort to un-see what she had read.

She had a lot of practice in the fine art of denial, Ryder knew. But she had woken up today with a bitch of a headache and a big, bad case of general malaise—evidently, no matter how hard she might try to erase it from her mind, the scandal had already crept under her skin. Poor thing. He was so full of concern and sympathy for Lacey that, so far today, he had managed to keep a certain pair of bright brown eyes off of his mind. More so than usual, at least. Which wasn't saying much.

It was just as this thought occurred to him—counterproductively bringing Cloe to the forefront of his consciousness again, as he walked alone through the sunny streets of Athens to pick up some aspirin for his ailing wife—that Ryder turned a corner and ran into an old friend.

A friend he hadn't seen in far too long, but one he would always hold dear as a brother, for all that they'd been through together. One of the men he most admired in this world. They fell into a bear hug as they greeted each other, smiling in surprise at this chance encounter.

"Eldor!" Ryder exclaimed. "Eldor Ambrose."

He called Eldor by his full name because it reminded him how far they'd come since the old days. The war days. The ebon-eyed soldier hadn't yet been an Ambrose, back then. Really, in too many ways, the memories that flooded in now felt like memories of different men.

A.D. 2012

"Hey, bros! You must be Campion and Weaver. Chief already told us all about you. So, you guys excited for Operation Fucking Doom?!"

Ryder and Grant shared an amused glance as they sat at the booth beside a pair of fellow Navy SEALs—one drunk whose light brown curls were in bad need of a trim, especially by military standards, and another dude whose striking dark eyes downright exuded virtue. The four of them had recently been assigned to a team together: a rescue mission of some prisoners of war, captive in treacherous territory.

"Ambrose," the drunk one drawled in introduction, extending a hand sticky from spilled whiskey.  "Westin Ambrose. Call me Wes."

The virtuous dude introduced himself next. "Eldor."

Ryder raised a brow as he shook the man's hand. "Just Eldor?"

"Don't ask," Wes advised. "He's got a brooding, buried past. Kind of builds on the whole epic superhero vibe that he's got going on."

"Trust me, I'm no superhero," Eldor chuckled, shaking his head at his slurring friend. "Just a SEAL. A soldier like the rest of you."

Wes leant in toward Ryder and Grant, speaking in a loud whisper. "Really, he's nothing like the rest of us. But, even so, he's like a brother to me. Always has been, ever since we enlisted together. Like family."

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