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|Name:||Benjamin Andrew Marcus|
Benjamin Andrew Marcus or "Ben" to everyone except his mother and whoever he might be in trouble with, was always destined to be in the military. As a little boy, growing up with his best friend, Brendan, he'd always wanted to play army, and the two of them had spent hours in the woods behind Ben's house, playing "war." Ben's grandfather, Carl, had served in the Marines, and his father, David, had gone much the opposite way, dodging the draft during the Vietnam conflict, becoming an anti-war activist, and eventually running for office. He never made it to a national level, but served proudly in their home state of Texas, after becoming first the mayor of their hometown of Austin, and then going on to serve in the Texas State Senate. David and Ben's mother, Anna, met at a political rally, and were determined when their fraternal twin sons and three daughters came along, that they wouldn't be raised to believe in war, but as pacifists. Ben's brother and sisters fell right into that, but Ben always found himself listening with baited breath to the stories his grandfather told him about World War II and the Korean War. Despite the disagreements about things like war and Ben's desire to be military, though, he always maintained a very close relationship with his twin brother, Mitch, who, along with Brendan, was one of Ben's very best friends.
Both Brendan and Ben were determined to join the military at 18, despite the fact that Ben's parents and siblings were epically opposed, and Brendan realized late in high school that he was very much gay. Austin as a whole was a very accepting area for gay people, but the military was still in the era of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and Brendan refused to let his sexuality hold him back from what he wanted to do. So he kept his sexuality to himself, telling no one but Ben, who was 100% straight, but never changed how he felt about his best friend.
The only time that Ben ever once considered not enlisting was when he met a young Bailey Quinn, and his mother, Erica, a single mom who'd had her son after a fling with a rich asshole in New York City. Bailey and Ben hit it off right away, and, touched by how awesome he was with her son, and just altogether too lonely, Erica ended up attracted to Ben. It didn't take long before Ben was waiting until Bailey went to sleep to sneak into Erica's room and have sex with her. It wasn't exactly a relationship, but it was the closest thing the promiscuous Ben had ever had, and he grew more and more attached to the family. After a couple of months of that, Erica ended up pregnant with Ben's child, and he asked her to marry him, but she repeatedly turned him down. He was barely 18, and she was in her early 30s, and they were already the talk of the neighborhood. And besides that, she didn't want him to give up his dream of serving in the military. When all was said and done, though, she lost the baby very early in the pregnancy, and Ben was crushed. It would be the end of their relationship, when Erica told Ben that everything happens for a reason, and that was their sign that what they had was over. The very next day, Ben said his goodbyes to Bailey and Erica, and went down to the recruitment office with Brendan to enlist in the Air Force.
After basic training, Ben was stationed in Fairbanks, Alaska with Brendan, and it was there that he first met Army 68W, Ava Lawrence. She was stationed at the US Army base there, and the pair of them met at a bar in the city that catered to the military crowd. They hit it off quite well, and before they knew it, they were sleeping together, and realized very quickly that there was something incredibly special between them. It was the first time in Ben's life that he wasn't even tempted to be with anyone else -- even with Erica, he'd had a couple of flings on the side -- and he never wanted to lose that feeling. So when the news came that both his unit and Ava's were being deployed to Afghanistan, Ben wasted no time whatsoever in proposing to her. Mitch flew up to Alaska at a moment's notice to be there for his brother, and he and Brendan were the witnesses for the wedding, which happened less than a week after the proposal. They spent every spare minute they could together in the wake of their wedding, but preparation for deployment made that difficult. Still, Ben looks back on the short time that they were married before deployment as the happiest days of his life.
All of that would change once they were in Afghanistan. Though things didn't start off all that bad, that would definitely change. Only a few weeks into his deployment, Ben received news that his beloved twin brother had gone missing, almost as if he'd fallen off the face of the earth, and with his long-time boyfriend, as well. The heartbreak of that was nearly too much for Ben, and things would only get worse.
It was on a mission with Brendan, and Cole Carrington who was Brendan's secret lover, a fact that only Ben was aware of, that everything would change. Their plane was forced to land in an extremely dangerous area, and Brendan panicked and left the plane. It was there, right in front of Ben and Cole, that he was gunned down by Afghan insurgents, leaving both men in absolute shock, which was only worsened given their injuries from the forced landing. For whatever reason, the soldiers thought that Ben and Cole were dead, and didn't bother going in to make sure, and the military was able to rescue them a couple of days later.
When all was said and done, Ben and Cole were transported to the nearest treatment center, which would, in fact, turn out to be where Ava was working. She was already overwhelmed with worry, and seeing her husband so severely injured was heartbreaking for her. While both Ben and Cole would go on to recover from their physical injuries, they were Honorably Discharged, and Ava left the military as well, taking leave for the mental strain she went through. Cole moved to New York City, and Ben took it upon himself to look after him for Brendan, which suited Ava, who didn't really consider herself as having much of a home to go to from before she was with Ben anyway. They did the best they could, with Ben working as a bouncer at Cole's New York nightclub, and Ava as a nurse, and at first it seemed that they might be able to make it. But the longer he went without having his twin brother, and with the images in his head of seeing his best friend shot down right in front of him, Ben began to cope the same way that Cole was coping. Both of them turned to drugs and alcohol to help them numb the pain of PTSD, and it was through drinking himself stupid and snorting coke that what was left of Ben's life began to crumble around him.
He and Ava pulled away from one another, where, in the past, it had always been their nature to cling to each other when they needed each other most. Ben's tendency to take comfort in his wife's arms had completely flip flopped to taking comfort in lines of white powder, and most of the time ending up so fucked up that he crashed out at the bar or on Cole's couch and didn't even come home. She did everything in her power to get him to get help, but there was no convincing him. He was too far gone. So she ended up packing up everything and moving to New Rochelle, leaving her husband behind in an attempt to salvage her life.
Ben misses Ava terribly, but hasn't been able to get his shit together so far. The drugs are easy, but getting off them is hard, and without his twin or his best friend, and now with the loss of his marriage, he's not sure that he even has a reason anymore.
Was sitting on top of the world,
But I threw it away
Well, just to prove that I could."