📎A/N. Thanks for all your feedback. Your support is very much appreciated.
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"Good afternoon, Mr MacMasters."
Ethan smiled and nodded to the young woman who had greeted him. "Where is he?" he asked.
"I believe he's in the pool," Jenny replied, "should I let them know you're on your way?"
He shook his head and winked. "Don't bother, I'll surprise him."
Ethan traversed the long and windy corridors, his footsteps dulled by the carpet until he reached the wing he was after. This was a route he knew well. Each step that took him closer to his destination increased the familiar pressure and heavy weight that invariably returned with each visit. Crushing him until he struggled to draw breath.
He chastised himself, angry with the feelings this always invoked. You would think by now I'd be used to it.
To a casual observer, Ethan was the epitome of strength and confidence. No one within the building would suspect the pain that lay just beneath the surface. Over the years, he had perfected the art of concealing this part of him. He needed to be strong. Weakness on his behalf would only make matters worse.
It would show that defeat was possible, and he wasn't willing to travel that path just yet. Ethan shook off his pensive mood. He blamed his recent run with Victoria Hutton - Check that - Sydney Regas for opening up old wounds.
As he reached the double glass doors that led to the pool, Ethan faltered and took a ragged breath before he entered. As they hadn't been expecting him, the two occupants were so focused on what they were doing, they had not yet detected his presence. Taking a moment, Ethan stood by the side of the water's edge, the familiar tightness becoming even more uncomfortable the longer he watched. A tender expression as he followed their progress.
It wasn't long before he was noticed. "Walter, look who's here," exclaimed Bernie as he nodded and smiled at Ethan.
The second person in the water looked up from his intense concentration and scanned the side of the pool. An innocent, confused expression as he attempted to locate whom Bernie was referring to. The moment he laid eyes upon Ethan, his face lit up, losing its previous frustration. "M-M-Mac!" Walter cried out.
Ethan crouched down. A loving smile as he gazed at Walter. "Hey buddy, how's it going?"
Walter's face contorted, reflecting the effort required to search for and speak the words he was struggling to find. "F-F-F-Fine, l-l-look - no h-h-h-hands," he said as he lifted his arms above his head. He toppled slightly and quickly pulled his hands down, just as quickly as they were thrown up. The flotation device around his waist not as secure as he had initially thought.
Ethan laughed at the antic, "We'll have you doing laps before you know it."
He glanced across at Bernie, who was now moving his patient closer to the side of the pool. "So how's he been today?" Ethan asked the physiotherapist.
"Your brother's had a good day," Bernie turned to Walter, who was attempting to reach the edge where Ethan was crouching. It was clear he was frustrated with his lack of movement by the amount of water he was splashing.
Bernie pushed his patient the remainder of the short distance to his brother.
"D-D-D-id, ya b-b-ring m-m-me sumfing?" Walter asked as he held onto the bars with both hands.
Ethan crossed his arms, tapped a finger on his chin and pretended to consider the question, "Let me think," he began teasingly. Seeing his brother's face drop, he quickly said, "Now would I forget to bring you something?
Upon hearing this, Walter began to jiggle in the water. "W-W-at ya g-g-g-et m-me?" he asked excitedly.
Ethan laughed, "Not so fast buddy, you need to finish your exercises. We had a deal."
Walter began to pout.
"Why don't you join us?" Bernie suggested to Ethan, "There're some spare swimming trunks in the changing rooms. And I am sure Walter wants to show you how far we've gotten today."
Seeing Walter's head bobbing in agreement, Ethan raised himself up and made his way to the changing rooms. It wasn't unusual for him to join in with Walters's rehabilitation. In fact, the facility recommended family have an active role in all forms of treatment.
His brother was happy here and, for all intents and purposes was thriving. Which is more than he could say for the last so called top quality health care facility he had been in.
Ethan had to pull some strings to get Walter into this care facility in upstate New York, but it was well worth the expense.
Ethan missed his brother. Not the Walter with the mind of a five-year-old and confined to a wheelchair. He missed Walter, the outgoing and caring older brother that existed before the accident.
Each time Ethan was reminded of that fateful night and the harrowing days and months after, not knowing if his brother would live or die, he became angry. It shouldn't have happened. Walter should be home, with his children; with his life back to how it was before the Hutton's destroyed it.
He knew no amount of wishing was going to change things. If it could, he would have wished a different life for his brother. One where he didn't lose everything - including custody of his children.
But sometimes fate intervenes. Through no fault of their own, Walter and the others who worked for Hutton Investments, lost their jobs the moment David Hutton decided to abscond with hundreds of millions of dollars of investors' money.
Due to the circumstance, the authorities put all senior management under investigation, thereby putting a death warrant on any future possibilities of employment. The industry had immediately tarred them with the same brush, convinced that Hutton couldn't have made off with that amount without inside help.
Walter had already been going through a messy divorce at the time of the scandal. His lack of work, and ever dwindling funds, sealing the judgement as to the custody of his children.
Seeing no other alternative, Walter had taken it upon himself to drive out to see Penelope Hutton. His intention was to beg her to convince her husband to return to the States and return the money. Allowing him and the others to get back their lives.
David's socialite wife, true to form, laughed in his face and informed him point blank that she would do no such thing. Her only response to his heartfelt plea was that David had been framed and that it was Walter, and the rest of his colleagues fault they were unable to find work.
Distraught at the confrontation, and the callous behaviour of the woman he had pinned his hopes of redemption on, Walter phoned Ethan from a bar he had stopped at. After giving Ethan a rundown of what had transpired, he remained at the bar. Seeking solace in a bottle of Bourbon.
The bartender, knowing his customer was too drunk to drive, had allowed him to get behind the wheel. Thirty minutes later, Walter's car had veered off the road, through the railings of a bridge and plummeted into the river below. The accident had severed his spine and resulted in brain damage that was so severe that there was no hope of him ever returning to the man he once was.
Suppressing his bitterness at how their lives had been forever changed, Ethan put on his poker face and made his way back out to the pool.
Walter's face lit up the moment he emerged from the changing room. A five-year old's expression on a forty-year old's face. "W-W-Wot y-y-y-ya get m-me?"
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📎A/N. So we see a different side of Ethan... maybe he's not so bad after all?
So what do you think of the story so far?
Thanks for reading.
Take Care. See you in two days.
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