Ambrose's biggest misfortune in life was being born
second. His wealthy parents doted on their first son, Dreu, to no end. Ambrose,
born three years too late, however, always seemed to be an afterthought in their
minds. He was never quite good enough - his grades always a hair below Dreu's in
school, his friends never quite as popular, his manners not quite as refined,
his temper never held quite as much in check. Dreu, to all outward appearances -
always acted the perfect angel and certainly had Ambrose fooled along with his
parents for many years.
Ambrose always tried - tried to do his best, tried to be as good as his brother, but no matter what he did, he was always compared to him - always told that he could do better. For most of his life, up until about his sophmore year in high school, Ambrose lived in his brother's shadow, trying to be him in order to get the attention, respect... and love... of his parents. He burned for recognition, for the pat on his head, and be told that he did well - and never got it doing what he thought that it was that they wanted, and it ate him alive inside. He dressed in nice, preppy clothing (think Abercrombie), associated with the sons and daughters of wealthy friends of the family, and refrained from expressing his imagination and independence.
Ambrose had one acceptable outlet for his frustrations, and something he poured his emotions and creativity into - fencing. While his parents ragged on him that it was obsolete or childish - they couldn't argue that it was a respectable sport, although would laude Dreu's passive tennis hobby with more recognition than the fencing tournaments Ambrose attended... and tended to do quite well in. Ambrose began to dream, the further he got into his highschool career, and the more local... regional... state medals that he began to accumulate that perhaps he could actually make something of this passion of his - and began to dream of making the Olympics. HIs parents treated this dream of his as a pipe dream, thoroughly planning on sending him through medical school - a very respectable choice to accompany Dreu's Harvard law-school path that lay ahead of him.
Then, his sophmore year, Ambrose met her. Angelina was from a "less fortunate" district of town that just barely made the zoning to be put into the same, generally wealthy districts' high school. She had never cared much for her reputation, strong willed and independent. She also had the matched ill fortune of a mother whose occupation as an "exotic dancer" at a local establishment. Needless to say, consequently she was branded with a reputation of being trash or a slut regardless of Angelina's personal morals. And the expectations that her previous boyfriends had of her had forced her hand a few times....
Ambrose was, by default, of a similar opinion of her until they were forced together by chance - during biology lab the fall of his sophmore year. He tried to be polite, but brief of words with her - hesitant to speak to her, having heard the (out of proportion) rumors. She assumed him to be one of the cookie-cutter preps who looked down on anyone not rich enough or too independent to be part of their clique. But silence cannot go on forever when people must work together, and they started to talk..... And Ambrose began to realize just what he was missing with his current group of "friends". Ambrose was intelligent - not necessarily the most book smart, but the things that went on in his mind and the conversations he generally held with his "friends' were worlds apart. He could care less about parties or drinking or fashion to be truthful, and he found himself gradually being more and more open with Angelina. He could talk about things he actually thought about - and not be laughed at or brushed off. No - she was interested - encouraging. And she realized that there was more to him than surface appearences would bely. Near the end of the semester they were very close friends bordering on something more.
It was then that the wool was pulled from Ambrose's eyes. He caught Dreu, pressuring Angelina - pushing his affections on her, and she pushing him away, to meet Dreu's unabashed derision. Ambrose had never imagined Dreu to be anything but the sterling image he projected, and this really opened his eyes. When he spoke to Angelina about it she was surprised that he didn't know - his brother and his clique had a second reputation among very few about being quite predatory when it came to underclassmen girls. Ambrose's confidence in his "friends' also began to wane, as the droll conversations at lunch and after school didn't live up to the interesting conversations with Angelina... and when confronted, one of his "friends" knew about Dreu's actions and was surprised Ambrose had not.
It was at that point that Ambrose realized how futile his efforts really were - how much of a sleaze that Dreu really was behind his parents back, and how much of a facade Dreu's perfect, very religions 'girlfriend' was, etc. Slowly, very slowly (and with a lot of encouragement from Angelina) Ambrose started spending more time with her, opening up, and trying things HE wanted to do - exploring more fantasty movies, roleplaying, etc - and began a relationship with Angelina behind everyone's back.
Dreu went off to college (at Harvard of course), and still had the favor of his parents. When he would visit on the weekends they would laude him with attention, and Ambrose was still compared to him - and it still frustrated him. He led a double life with Angelina. Things went smoothly as can be expected of such for a few years... until their senior year in high school. His parents tried to force his hand - suggesting a school that would lead him down the path to medical school.... and Ambrose finally got the guts to put his foot down and confront them. He had a promising future with fencing - even got a very impressive offer from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst - a university not too far away that was known for their fencing team (and subsequently Angelina had also sent an application there and gotten accepted - she put forth a LOT Of effort into school knowing that she didn't have much money and didn't want to get stuck doing something like her mother). They had a BIG argument, in which Ambrose told them who he was dating and that, frankly, they couldn't stop him. THey laughed in his face and told him that if he wanted to pursue that path that he could do it without their financial help - assuming that he would back down. THey did not think that he could make it on his own. However, he surprised them - Ambrose, underneath it all, was very strong willed and determined - actually evidenced by just how long and hard he had tried to forcibly mold himself into a lifestyle that was not his own. He accepted the college's offer and struck out on his own, continuing his relationship with Angelina and pursuing a hopefully olympic-bound future.
The fencing scholarship covered tuition, most of his books and living expenses for the first year... He kept his major undecided, waffling between actually majoring in kinesiology (but he didn't want to be a coach... or a personal trainer) and theater/acting (he could do fencing on stage, and perhaps explore some of his interest in swashbuckling - but it took lots of time with rehersals that he could be spending training...). His relationship was blossoming with Angelina, meantime.
However.... by the end of the first year, his shortsightedness began to show as parts of the scholarship ran out, and while tuition would probably still be paid for - it wasn't enough to continue paying rent. It was then that Ambrose found an add in the local paper... advertising several thousand dollars for healthy, athletic individuals between the ages of 18 and 30 - to participate in a medical study - the "only" catch was that it required a two-week stay at the main facility -but all transportation, room and board would be covered for the duration.
Ambrose, unlike Angelina, was blessed by his wealthy upbringining had never had to work a day in his life.... and thus had no job expierence and had been unable to net a job that summer (well, at least nothing he was WILLING to do - he refused to apply at McDonalds and fast food joints). With impending bills, Ambrose saw no other option but to try it out. Promising Angelina that he would be back soon, he signed up for the study.