Saint Anne’s Church was a place where Dorian Hawkhurst has sought refuge in times of trouble. This was one of those occasions. Although he’s cleaned himself up, his hair tied back, shirt and tie… his blue tipped hair and large, scruffy beard help him to stick out as the black sheep amongst the Lord’s flock. Furthered by the fact that his daughter was sitting next to him in what was hardly her Sunday best: Mia Rayne T-shirt, torn up jeans and Doc Martens, the Hawkhursts were, as is the usual, easy to find in a crowd.
Mass has ended, and a few of the parishioners still wonder about. Dorian sits with his head bowed, either lost in thought or lost in prayer. Chloe, on the other hand, sits there impatiently tapping her foot.
"Daaaaaadddddd…. " Chloe whines to her old man. "Can we go home now? "
Dorian keeps his head lowered and simply reaches over and gently squeeze’s Chloe’s hand. Chloe pouts and tries to push herself down, doing that annoying little kid thing where she tries to force herself farther into her seat, despite the fact that it isn’t humanly possible to do so.
"I wonder if the church has Wi-Fi. "
Chloe pulls her phone out and Dorian still sits both motionless and emotionless. A few more people shuffle out as Dorian finally raises his head.
"Sorry, baby girl. Me and the Man Upstairs were havin’ a bit of a one sided conversation. "
"Yeah, well, signal in here sucks. I don’t know why you come here. If there is a God, He hasn’t done anything for me."
"You can believe what you want, but there’s a lot of things you haven’t seen in your almost ten long years on this planet. If you ever get to that point, maybe you’ll find salvation."
"Listen, Dad. You can have your salvation. But, your salvation hasn’t helped Mia. Your salvation hasn’t helped Ataxia."
Chloe stands up, and stomps her foot in frustration. The sound of her Doc Marten’s hitting the marble floor reverberate throughout the room.
"I’m tired of hearing you talk about helping them. Why don’t you get off your ass and actually do something? Don’t talk about it. Be about it."
"Chloe… come back."
Chloe stalks off and Dorian can only look on in stunned silence.
"She’s right, you know." Dorian says as if someone else is listening to him. He shuffles his way out of the pew, making his way out to try and find his daughter.
The scene cuts away and Dorian is now seen standing outside of the church building. Some time has certainly past, as the sun hangs low, closing in on setting. Dorian doesn’t stand alone, as Chloe stands alongside him. Both are still in their church clothes.
"Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t had the best luck against the Smokin’ Aces. There is no way to sugar coat it. Freddie and Duce are two of the best that CWF has ever had to offer, and they prove it time and time again. I feel as though I am one of the best around here, but those two, they take it to another level. I am certain that they are going to sit there and go on and on ad nauseam. That’s the term, right? I had to Google that one.”"
"How come they’re called the Aces, anyway? They look like a couple of jokers to me."
"Not right now, baby girl. Right now, I need to talk about myself. The Smokin’ Aces aren’t going to change. I need to be the one that changes.
Dorian looks up from his daughter and back to the camera..
"It’s hard, ya’ know, man. Trying to change while at the same time staying true to who you are... It ain’t easy, that’s for damned sure. Still, every day, I have to push forward, one foot in front of another."
"Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming."
Dorian smiles in spite of himself.
"Here’s the deal. Every day, I try a little harder than the day before. Every breath I take is a little deeper than it was the breath before. I wish I could say every move I make is more intentional than the one before, but I think we all know I wear my heart on my sleeve. We also know I’ve got a history of losing my shirt."
"Thank you, Barenaked Ladies."
Dorian looks down at his kid once again and smiles.
"Come on! I’m trying to work here."
It’s obvious from her Cheshire Cat grin the Chloe is only being polite.
"Earlier today, my pain felt a lot deeper. My Mini-Me pointed out to me something that, while it hurts to admit, is true. I have done nothing about trying to find Mia or Ataxia. It’s just… well…" Dorian lets out a deep sigh. "I really don’t know where to start. At first I thought it was the Smokin’ Aces. Then, Loki shows up, all tauntin’ us and shit, so, I start to look in her direction. Of course, we all know about the knife Jimmy Allen left in my back. Then, we Maximus Havoc over here…" Dorian tilts his head, motioning towards Chloe. "….goes AWOL and shows up at his house, he makes her breakfast. What kind if mind fuck is that? Each week I come out here and talk about how I need to focus, then I never do."
"That’s why we ended up here. Daddy likes to talk to the clouds and wait for some crusty old dude to answer."
"Regardless of the kid’s take on it, she’s right. I come here when I need to get my head on straight. I’m not going to sit here and preach. That’s not my style, man."
"Religion is a crutch for dealing with the unknown. Let’s face it, Dad. You don’t seem to know a whole lot of anything."
Dorian turns and stares Chloe down.
"I meant about what’s going on."
Dorian turns back to the camera, with a look somewhere between anger and amusement.
"Be that as it may, we all know the Smokin’ Aces seem to have had my number from the get go. It’s like they’re the "Glass Ceiling" that I can’t seem to break through. See what I did there?"
"Yeah… I get it." Chloe answers flatly.
"The biggest question mark in all of this is Trent Steel… or is it Ataxia the First? Or is it Ataxia’s Dad? I don’t even know. All I know is that Trent seems like he might not be on the same page as I am, but at least he’s in the same book. The man is subtle as a sledgehammer and he hits just as hard. No bull. No beating around the bush. I gotta admit, the man’s got style."
"I like him. Did you see Tobias when he showed up? It was like an old Batman show. BAM! BIFF! POW! It was amazeballs!"
Dorian gives his daughter a quizzical look.
"Amazeballs? It THAT what we’re going with?"
"Geez, Dad. All the kids say it."
"Be that as it may, Trent Steel is still the unknown, the “X Factor” if you will. That’s fine by me. I remember having a conversation with The Shadow about how it’s hard to prepare for an opponent you don’t know. It never bothered me all that much, but I know with a lot of folks, it can throw them off their game. I dealt with it when I faced Revenant and Azreal. But, I have to admit, to be on the other side of the unknown for a change… it’s nice. It feels damned good to be on the favorable side of things for a change."
"They say insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Pretty sure that Einstein or some other dude smarter than me said that. Like I said before, Smokin’ Aces have been my Kryptonite. But, this time, things are much, much different. Trent Steel more than a wild card. When he enters the building, the entire mood changes. We all saw what a nasty son of a bitch he was last week when he got his first actual match here. You saw that, right?"
"I know I did. He came. He saw. He kicked some…"
Dorian quickly covers Chloe’s mouth and picks up where she left off without missing a beat.
"…assuming the odds are equal, like they are going to be at Evolution, I figure a pair of Aces aren’t good enough to beat three of a kind. "
"I’m tired of the two of you going on about how you are better than my dad. It’s like listening to Charlie Brown’s teacher going "Wah wah wah wahwahwah". It’s boring."
"What isn’t boring is having the chance to prove myself against the two of you one more time. We all know the history, but none of us know the future. I know one thing for sure, at Evolution, you boys are GETTING HAMMERED!!!"
Chloe grabs her dad’s hand and starts trying to drag him away.
"Come on, Dad. There’s a Giratina raid just up the street."
"Can’t I finish here?"
"They’ve seen you do the menacing stare thing a million times. LET’S GO!"
"Fine! Fine! You win."
Dorian and Chloe walk down the street hand in hand as the sun continues to set behind them.
"The concession stands are now selling those cheap hotel room round soap disks that I have personally blessed for $100’s a bar….AND SINNERS….I suggest you buy one, and use it, because if you think your God wants you in his heaven smelling like a 3am New York City uber ride you got another thing coming."