Welcome to Bauer’s Bytes!
This week, we’re going back in time to Enemy of My Enemy, and taking a look at Scott’s POV as he inherits the detail lead position and now has to protect his best friend, Ethan – the First Gentleman – and his boyfriend…. the POTUS. How well did Scott really handle this? What went on beneath his snarky exterior? Read and enjoy!
Scott scrubbed both hands over his face, squeezing his eyes closed.
Agent Beech kept talking. “And, we’ve got more reports from Atlanta. Three threats made against POTUS and BOTUS over the weekend. Local agents are checking it out.”
“The protests on the South Lawn have grown. We count two hundred new protestors as of this morning. DC Metro arrested the three who threw eggs, and chased out the squatters who were setting up tents.”
“Welby and Caldwell are serving the warrant to the ISP providers this afternoon. If they cooperate, we’ll get all the information the ISP has for the individuals who made the online threats against POTUS and BOTUS. As soon as they have that, Welby is planning on taking teams out to the DC, Maryland, and Virginia addresses. We’ll task offices around the country for the others.”
“NSA has passed along international chatter they’ve picked up. The usual anti-American rhetoric from America’s favorite places, but now there’s more. Iranian state TV is ranting about the infidel American president and his gay lover and how the end of days are finally here. They’re encouraging attacks against any gay or lesbian individual a faithful believer encounters, and the mullahs are calling for death to POTUS and BOTUS.”
“Fuck. Pass that on to the FBI and all law enforcement agencies.”
“Yes, sir. And, there’s a porno circulating the web. Someone put POTUS and BOTUS’s faces on a pretty raunchy skin flick. It gets violent in parts. Definite defilement and debasement of the individual with POTUS’s face. Could be construed as a threat.”
Scott heaved a sigh and pinched the bridge of his nose. “Put a warrant together for the web hosting center wherever that porno is. We probably can’t get anything, but if we can, we need to go shake them up.”
Beech nodded. “That’s it for this morning, sir.”
“That’s all?” Scott scoffed. “A light load.” Usually, there were at least ten to fifteen new threats every day made against Ethan and his boyfriend.
His boyfriend. The President of the fucking United States. Damn it, Ethan… Why couldn’t he just settle down with some doctor or State Department flunky? Why the hell had he gone and fallen for the president?
“I’ll let you know how the warrants go, sir.”
“And let me know how it goes with Welby and his team.” Beech nodded and moved off, heading to his desk. Scott threw himself back in his chair, gripping the armrests as he stared at Horsepower’s ceiling. He’d never wanted this job. Ethan was the one who had been career-focused, wanted to climb to the top. He was just along for the ride. Even in the Army, Ethan had made rank faster than Scott. Hell, Scott had only joined the Secret Service because it was the one agency that picked them both up. Ethan hadn’t got into the FBI and Scott hadn’t got into the CIA. But they both got into the Secret Service.
Best buds. Friends for life. That’s what he’d thought, all the way back in Iraq and Afghanistan. You deploy with a man once, twice, three times, you either love him like a brother or hate the air he breathes with a searing soul-blasting passion. They’d become men together, growing from wide-eyed soldiers on their first deployment, staying awake and sharing cigarettes and talking about the world and all of their dreams, to professional government employees, Secret Service hotshot agents protecting the president.
Twenty-one years of friendship. He’d thought he’d seen it all from Ethan. Even when Ethan came out to him – literally, the day Secret Service training began – he wasn’t surprised. You deploy with a guy three times, you eventually see what kind of porn he hides away, and he’d put the pieces together. ‘No girlfriend ever’ plus ‘super-hot Ethan’ plus ‘that hidden folder on his laptop’, the one he found when he was trying to punk Ethan, equals gay.
“Dude, duh. I figured. C’mon, I’m starving. What are we eating?” Ethan had smiled, they went to lunch before reporting in for training, and nothing at all had changed. Well, Ethan stopped hiding who he was, and Scott realized very quickly that ‘no girlfriend or boyfriend’ was not the same as ‘not getting any’. Damn, Ethan.
They hopped and skipped their way up the Secret Service career ladder until Ethan got the big job, and Scott was just happy to be his right hand. Fucking Welby was still up there with them, that laugh-a-minute bore. One year senior than them both, Welby’s fabulous personality had kept him languishing just below senior command. God, when Welby had taken over the detail after Ethan was injured at Spiers’s inauguration, Scott had wanted to die.
Now, though… Ethan was out of the Secret Service, Scott was in charge of the whole damn operation, Daniels was running Ethan’s detail, and Welby was acting as Scott’s second in command. What the fuck?
Welby should be in charge. By all rights, he had seniority. But he’d spent a long afternoon with Director Triplett, after Ethan’s transfer to Iowa, and right after that, Scott was named the detail lead.
Protecting POTUS… and Ethan. His best friend.
Was this what Ethan had felt like, at least some of the time, when he and Spiers were trying to secretly date? They were fucking awful at keeping it secret, all soft eyes and smiles, and he thought he was going to use up his lifetime supply of heavy sighs and eye rolls over their ridiculousness.
But had it been this excruciating? Caring for someone whose life was in your hands? Hearing the detailed threats, day in and day out, seeing the visceral hate? Ethan had built a friendship – and more – with Spiers. Scott was already best friends with Ethan. In both instances, protocol and procedure demanded they both back off, distance themselves. Keep away.
But damn it, Ethan was his brother, and the world wanted to hurt him and the man he loved. As a friend, as a man, he was bound to protect Ethan, be by his side, ride until they died like they’d vowed twenty-one years ago in Iraq. The fact that the man Ethan loved was the president – and Scott’s job – was just another layer of fucked-up to the already fucked-up shit-sandwich.
He glared at the plain brown bag he’d tucked under his desk. Who was he kidding? He couldn’t be distant. Not from Ethan. Not ever.
Grabbing the bag, he headed out of Horsepower and wound through the early morning White House. He passed by the end of the overnight shift, trading off with their morning counterparts and hiding yawns. There were more agents standing post than there had been a year ago. He’d doubled their force in the White House, and on the move. He’d quadruple it if he could.
“Morning butthead!” he shouted at the top of the grand staircase, calling down the main hallway in the Residence. Spiers and Ethan’s bedroom door was ajar and the kitchen lights were on.
Ethan poked his head out of the kitchen. He wore an undershirt, boxers, and a giant smile. “Morning buttmunch.”
“That’s you.” Scott winked as he headed for Ethan. He could hear the shower running in their bathroom. “POTUS in the shower?”
“Yeah, he’s getting ready. He’s got an early call. I’m making breakfast.” Ethan flipped an omelet in a pan on the stove. “Grab some orange juice. Want anything?”
Was this what it had felt like to Ethan every time Spiers made a friendly overture? That urge to accept, to kick back and be a friend slamming against the need to back away, keep professional distance, stay objective. Jesus, he’d seen Ethan completely lose it out there, blow his objectivity entirely out of the water over his feelings for Spiers. They’d barely survived Ethiopia. Saudi. Storming the White House.
Was he repeating history? When would they ever learn?
“No, man, I’m good.” He set the brown bag on the kitchen island. “Special delivery.” Inside was a gigantic bottle of lube, an industrial sized bottle with an extra-large pump dispenser on top.
Ethan grinned over his shoulder. “Thanks. We need it.”
“Shut the fuck up. I don’t need to know that.” He smiled back, though. “And, I expect nothing less, you horndog.”
Ethan shimmied his hips, jiggling his ass. Scott sighed, long, loud, and completely put-upon. Ethan laughed.
“So… no condoms this time? Or was there a delay in shipment?” Ethan had his order for lube and condoms go to Scott’s house, who then brought them to the White House. Like Welby before him – and, Jesus Christ, did his brain break at that thought – he was their sex supplies mule.
Ethan flipped the omelet onto a plate and grabbed toast from the toaster. He poured a cup of coffee and brought everything to the table, setting it down for Spiers. Then he picked up his own coffee cup and came to the island, leaning against it and smiling at Scott. “Don’t need them anymore.”
“Well, well, well.” The sign of a serious relationship. Not that they weren’t already serious. Spiers had come out for Ethan on the global stage and Ethan had given up his career to be First Gentleman.
“Sure you don’t want a cup of coffee? You look tired, old man.”
If you come under fire, how will I react? If what happened in Ethiopia happens again, who will I protect more? Spiers or you? He’s the president, but you’re my brother. He tried to smile. Ethan frowned. Damn it, Ethan could always read him like a book. I can’t share a cup of coffee with you and pretend everything is normal.
Spiers breezed into the kitchen, his tie draped around his neck, suit jacket in one hand. He went straight to Ethan, kissing him with a wide smile, and then dropped into his seat at the table. “Morning, Scott. How are you?”
Ethan surreptitiously moved the brown bag to the floor, tucking it out of sight as Scott answered. “Good, Mr. President. You?”
“Great.” Spiers shot Ethan a beaming grin and then turned to his breakfast as he scrolled through his phone. Ethan watched him eat and sipped his coffee.
Ethan was disgustingly in love. Joy poured off of him in waves, a tidal flood of it. Contentment, pure happiness, relaxed and serene. His eyes shone and he smiled as Spiers ate, happy as a clam that he’d made his boyfriend breakfast and his boyfriend was enjoying it. Delighted with their morning, their life. Content to his bones.
It would all change when Ethan left the Residence. He had that hard frown on most days, and panic lay banked in the backs of his eyes. He seemed three seconds from going full Rambo when he was down in the White House, but here, with Spiers, he was the man Scott had always wanted to see. To know. Ethan, deeply, deeply in love.
Why did it have to be the fucking president?
“Excuse me, gentleman.” Scott nodded to Spiers first, and then to Ethan. “I’ll leave you to your breakfast.”
They both tried to stop him, inviting him for toast, orange juice, or coffee. Ethan offered to make him an omelet. He waved them both off, saying he had to get back to work. Ethan nodded and took a seat beside Jack at the table. Scott watched them lace their fingers together, a one-handed hold as Jack finished eating while Ethan sipped his coffee.
He walked away, his feat lead, his heart sinking. How can I be objective? He’s my best friend, and he’s finally found the man he loves.
Cold fire settled inside him, a conviction made of heavy plutonium that promised a thermonuclear reaction. God help anyone who tries to hurt these men. God help you if you ever do, because I’m coming for you.
Timestamp: Early EOME
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Goddamn, this was *beautiful*. I absolutely *love* Scott – he has to be one of my favorite ‘side-characters’ (is he really still a side? I mean… he might as well be a main at this point^^) ever. His dedication to Ethan is absolutely awe inspiring. The brotherly love they share gets me every time.
All the more reason to absolutely love this byte. To see how this situation tears him up inside… I just want to hug him. The war he fights inside himself, between his dedication to his job and his dedication to his best friend… In my opinion it is a minor miracle he is still able to get his job done at all. If we have to ask who would be the most grateful once everything is over, I actually think he is pretty high on that list. Not only did he get both of them through this clusterfuck, he also is *finally* not in a position anymore where he has to decide who is more important to protect. When he finally doesn’t have to decide between heart and head anymore.
This byte was a wonderful mix of heartclenching confusion and the absolutely adorable banter he shares with Ethan. I’ll openly admit that I just snorted chili-salsa through my nose (I was enjoying a snack to go with this story) due to certain interactions ;D (my nose is very much not happy right now. However, I very much am :D)
Thanks for yet another awesome insight! 😀
Thank you! I’m glad you like it! Scott is my husband’s favorite “side” character too. (Though, he really likes Welby!)
This is inspiring me to write more Scott POV scenes from throughout EOME and EW. Like, when he tells Ethan he can’t go to Russia with Jack – Scott totally could not have handled it if Ethan and Jack had been there during the bombing. He doesn’t have to face that choice until the end of EW, when it’s both of them facing the end. He comes back, of course, for Ethan. 🙂
Yeah, going home was awesome for him.
Hahahaha re the snorting. That’s hilarious. 🙂
Thank YOU for a great prompt!! <3
Oooh, yes, that scene must be quite hard for him as well! I would love to read it! 😀 Though at this point I probably would read it if you would write a book to go along with the four others, just written from his and other side-povs. Come to think of it, that would be pretty awesome xD (You saw how many side povs I want to see, so this shoudn’t be a surprise :P). There are so many twisted feelings from these people who are trying to protect Ethan and Jack… and Sasha and Sergey… and Adam and Faisal. Of course it’s always hard to read about their struggles, but the characters surrounding them have it quite hard as well sometimes (as we can see here) and I think it’s important to get a look at that as well. Struggles in love-stories are expected and wanted in most books, but what about those people who stand by them?
… and now the part of my brain that is reserved for prompting is getting into overdrive again. I think I should stop before I bomb you with another huge list xD I’m pretty sure you have enough for now 😛
GASP!! That’s such a good idea…. I love it. Now MY brain is going into overdrive, too! Side characters POVs… yes, yes…
Oh my, poor Scott! How very touching this is, Tal! Such a poignant depiction of Scott’s dilemma! He is doubly committed…to his brother and his President. Where will his loyalty find its deepest expression? CAN he choose between them? And having to walk away from any overture of friendship from his best friend because of who his best friend loved was painful to read, to see. I feel for him.
I also love how humble and honest he is about his own ambitions and potential. he doesn’t think he deserves the position vacated by his clearly more qualified and talented best friend. He admits to just being along for the ride, of having no ambitions for advancement, of wanting only to be with the man he has come to know and love as a brother. Such loyalty to another is a rare thing indeed, and just makes you want to squish Scott and hug his lights out. I’m so glad that his love for his friend, his care for both Ethan and Jack, his principled and focused execution of his duty, are rewarded when his friend finds total happiness at the end of EW.
Of course, the camaraderie between him and Ethan is sweet and funny and quite adorable, though I’m sure he’d be affronted to hear it described that way. 🙂 The teasing is typical of them and resonates with their comfort with and affection for each other. I love it! This is a great piece, and a sweet bedtime read. Thanks, Tal! <3
Thank you, Karen! Scott has always been a fav of mine, for all the reasons you pointed out. I especially love his and Ethan’s friendship. I love writing male friendship.
I am seriously not a person who fawns over authors and write/stalk their pages. However TB I stalk your website DAILY just to see if there is anything new. I wish you could wrote as fast as I want to gobble up your words.
These 2 -Scotty and Welby deserve some page time. Please give me more ENEMY/WITHIN/OF THE STATE don’t care just please don’t end the series yet. I believe there are at least 3 more books 😉 remaining. More Back n Ethan, Adam n Faisal, Doc gosh. So many more.
I’m a Superfan Tal . .just so you know x
I LOVE IT! <3 That's so amazing! Thank you for all the love!
Scott and Welby are my two favorite side characters. Ilya is climbing up there, too. But these two... Welby just roared in and took over, and I adore him. I love his arc, from bore in book 1 to what he did in book 3. I totally plan on bringing them both back! And... I think you're right about three more books. 😉 Looking forward to making a second trilogy for everyone!
Thank you for your love. <3 Means SO much to me.