Disclaimer: I do not own anything you recognize. Meaning, I'm not Vince McMahon (and I wouldn't want to be)so I don't own anything associated with the WWE. Seeing as I'm not Vinnie Mac, suing me would be pointless because I don't have any of Vince's money - or any money at all. This story is purely fictional.
A/N: Wow. It's been a while, huh? I want to apologize to everyone that's been waiting for updates for this story – I lost faith in myself a little bit after my computer crashed, then I couldn't get the motivation back, then I couldn't remember the twist I had in mind for this to start with. Now, I think things have finally all fallen into place, in part due to the recent help and prompting of Mocha – thanks, chick. I'm planning on finishing this thing, I promise you all! Anyway, enough out of me... enjoy the chapter – another one shouldn't be too far away.
After the quickest shower Aiden could possibly have, she dressed and tied her hair back in a ponytail before running back downstairs to meet up with the group of people that were waiting on her. She wasn't surprised to see that Marion had disappeared. She had a feeling the woman wasn't entirely comfortable about the idea of placing her with the Calaways but, right now, that didn't bother her. In fact, if anything, it made her happier. Her relationship with Marion was rather strange that way. As she reached the group, Cody immediately grabbed for her hand before looking up at Mark and Sara.
"Can we go eat now? I'm hungry." She asked impatiently.
"You're always hungry." Sara pointed out. Cody giggled and nodded which caused the adults to laugh. Aiden shook her head and looked down at Cody.
"Well, for what it's worth, I'm with you on the hunger thing." She told her seriously.
"Ah, well, in that case… let's get to it." Mark chuckled, motioning for Cody to head for the door.
Cody took the hint and tugged on Aiden's hand to pull her along as well. Everyone else followed the two girls out the doors and onto the steps of the Children's Home. After a brief conversation to work out who was going in which cars, Aiden climbed into the passengers seat of Jack's vehicle. Tom and Dean clambered into the back and Aiden shot a grin over her shoulder at them.
"You guys have no idea how weird and fantastic this is for me." She told them, trying to fight off the butterflies in her stomach.
"I think Mark and his family are thinking the same thing right now." Dean figured.
"I can't believe this might be the last time I look over and see you sitting there." Jack spoke up, glancing over at Aiden seriously.
"Aw, Jack… don't make me cry, please? I'm hoping to make it through breakfast before I break down." Aiden whispered, reaching out to take her mentor's hand.
"Forgive me, then. I'm just… so amazingly proud. I mean, after eight years, I can finally say that I know you're going to make it, kid." Jack told her.
"I hope so, Jack. I don't want to let you down." Aiden told him, the doubt slowly creeping back into her.
"You could never let me down, Aiden. Unless, of course, you stopped wrestling. That would really piss me off after everything you've been through to get to where you are now." Jack explained.
"I won't stop. I'm going to make it to the WWE and when they ask who I was trained by, I'm going to tell them that I was trained by the greatest trainer alive – Jack Thorne of Thorne's Gym." Aiden vowed.
"Well, just don't overlook the show tonight… it'll be the last one you do here. That alone is going to make it something special for everyone." Jack mused.
"I know. Maybe I should've agreed to the cage match idea Luther wanted." Aiden realized.
"I think that would destroy us. After seeing something like that in the main event, the fans wouldn't be happy to go back to regular matches." Jack laughed.
Upon arrival at the agreed upon restaurant, Aiden waited nervously for Mark and his family to join the group she was already with. Dean put a hand on her shoulder and she glanced back to look at him.
"Nervous?" Dean whispered, leaning down to talk to her.
"What gave it away?" Aiden wondered.
"Maybe the fact that I could actually see you shaking. Relax; everything is going to be fine." Dean assured her.
"That's easy for you to say. I keep expecting something to go wrong. I mean, I'm hoping nothing does go wrong but, still, I'm expecting it." Aiden sighed.
"I guess that's a result of years of stuff like this, huh?" Dean figured.
"Yeah. Though, this time is different. Even if it wasn't a wrestling superstar that was willing to foster me, I think I'd still be determined not to wind up back here. Even if there was no contract for OVW, I'd be determined to make it work. Maybe it's because I'm old enough to understand it now or something?" Aiden mused.
"That's a good possibility. Or maybe it's because you finally realize that you're worth something." Dean pointed out. Aiden pondered that thought for a moment before offering Dean a small smile.
"Thanks, Dean. I don't think I'll ever be able to repay you for all of this. It's… it's…" Aiden stammered, trying to find the right word to finish her sentence.
"Overwhelming?" Dean offered as Cody ran up the steps to the restaurant with Mark and Sara following behind her.
"Actually, I was going to say insane but… overwhelming works too, I suppose." Aiden laughed. Dean chuckled and gave her a one armed hug before they all headed inside to eat.
Jack sat back a little at the table and watched the group of people interacting around him. He could tell that Aiden was still a little uncertain about her future but there was definitely a new sparkle in her eyes – one that he couldn't quite put his finger on. Maybe it was hope… or curiosity, he reasoned as she listened intently to Mark telling a story about the last wrestling event he'd been part of for the WWE before he'd come to Indiana.
Despite that sparkle in her eyes, Jack knew she was far from completely changed by the situation. After spending time with her over the last eight years, he knew that she was quite adept at putting on a mask when she felt she needed to. Even he hadn't been able to see through them all the time. Despite how focused she'd become when she was angry, he knew that her other emotions were kept tightly in check beneath the surface. He only hoped that maybe Mark and Sara would be able to help her handle all those emotions should they decide to erupt.
Deciding he needed some air, Jack excused himself and headed for the exit. Mark saw him go and finished the story he was telling before excusing himself and following after him. He could tell that Jack had a lot on his mind and wondered if maybe the other man could give him some kind of insight into Aiden. He remembered how hard it was dealing with Cody when they first brought her home and was hoping to avoid as many problems as possible this time around, with Aiden.
"Jack, mind if I have a word?" Mark queried, stopping just in front of him.
"Not at all. What's on your mind?" Jack wondered.
"Actually, I was wondering more what was on yours. You've been rather quiet this morning." Mark smiled warmly.
"Well, it's no secret that Aiden and I have a pretty strong bond, thanks to our history. I'm just wondering how she's going to do, away from Indiana." Jack replied honestly. Mark nodded, understanding that the whole situation must be pretty hard on Jack, just as much as it was on Aiden.
"I have no doubt that she'll miss you and her friends here like crazy. And, vice versa, of course. I'll leave you our home number so you can call any time you want, to get an update or talk to Aiden. I have no qualms about her calling you or anyone else here in Indiana, either. I don't want her to lose touch with who she is, Jack." Mark offered seriously.
"Thank you. She doesn't have much to her name but, that makes who she is all the more important. I just wish I knew how all this came about." Jack pondered seriously, rubbing a hand over his head.
"What do you mean?" Mark queried, unsure about Jack's last statement.
"The reason Dean and Tom came to Indiana – the tape that was sent to Dean. I've been trying to work out who could possibly have a valid reason for taping her, let alone passing the tapes on to others, and what that reason might be." Jack confided, figuring it was probably a good idea for Mark to be in the loop just as much as Dean and Tom were.
"Tom told me something about this. He said the writing on the note that came with the tape matched writing on the note that was left at the church with Aiden?" Mark clarified.
"Exactly. It's got her, and me, wondering if the person that wrote it – the one that's been taping her – is biologically related to her. I can't help but think that they might be. Then I'm left to wonder why they would've left Aiden at the church in the first place if they were going to keep watch over her and tape her as she grew up. I mean, if there's one tape – the one that Dean got – then there's bound to be more, right? It can't just be some weird coincidence." Jack rambled, still trying to work through the enigma.
"I don't know what to tell you, Jack. I wish I had an insight into it but, I don't. If it turns out that the person that taped her is related to her and they suddenly come out of the woodwork, then it'll be Aiden's choice what she wants to do about it. Sara and I will support her, no matter what." Mark assured the other man.
"Well, that is a slight comfort. Aiden's a good kid, Mark. She's been through some rough situations in her life, she's worked out how to keep a wall up between her and most people, but I think she's really going to be okay with you and Sara. It might take her a while to let down her guard but, once she does, you'll get to see what I see in her." Jack told him with a weak smile. Mark nodded and returned the smile.
"I can already tell she's got a fighting spirit. There's something in her eyes… she knows a lot more about things than she lets on. Wise beyond her years." Mark mused.
"That's an understatement. She is a fighter, in every sense of the word. When I first met her, it didn't take much to set her off. If anyone said something she didn't like, she'd go toe to toe with them. Since then, I've worked on getting her to focus that energy, to use it to her benefit instead of letting it get the better of her. Now, she hears something she doesn't like and challenges the person that said it to back it up instead of instantly jumping to violence. I've yet to see her back down to anyone – other than me. In short, if you want to get her motivated, get her angry. Works every time" Jack chuckled.
"I'll definitely keep that in mind when dealing with her." Mark laughed, enjoying the light moment before the door opened and Aiden stepped out of the restaurant to join them.
"I was wondering where you two got to. Conspiring against me or something?" She mused, lifting herself to sit on the railing.
"Something like that." Mark smiled down at her.
"Should I be worried?" Aiden queried, looking over at Jack cautiously.
"Not at all, Baby. Just a little father figure to father figure chat, nothing more." Jack assured her, reaching out to take one of her hands in his own.
"Do you think you're ready for the show this afternoon?" Mark wondered, successfully changing the subject.
"About as ready as I'll ever be, I guess. Still a little unsure about deserving the main event spot, though." Aiden replied, wrinkling her nose up at the thought.
"It's going to be your last show with us, Aiden. Even if it wasn't you've deserved the main event for a while… I've just been waiting for you to ask for it." Jack told her seriously.
"Yeah? What happened to that idea, then?" Aiden joked, tugging on his hand.
"I thought it was about time I showed a little faith in you." Jack answered, almost wistfully.
"What do you mean 'about time'? You've always shown faith in me, Jack." Aiden pointed out.
"Well, maybe he thought it was about time you showed a little faith in yourself?" Mark figured. Jack nodded slightly in agreement and Aiden ducked her head, thinking it over.
"Somehow I don't think a dumb girl from an orphanage is going to change the world whether she wrestles main event or not." She shrugged, her old demons rearing their ugly heads.
"You can cut that out right now, Missy. For a start, you're not dumb – I heard every word you just said, clear as day. Secondly, one person can change the world, if they have the passion for it. More importantly, you being part of a show – whether as main event or pre show match – could change someone's life. Imagine a little girl like Cody, sitting in the crowd, watching you. That little girl's could go home and think that maybe, just maybe, they could become a wrestler like you someday. Imagine that kid going on to win a Women's Title or something. All because of you, wrestling in a show. It doesn't matter where you come from… just where you're going." Mark told Aiden seriously.
"Very profound, Deadman." Aiden smirked after letting his words sink in.
"I'm full of stuff like that. You'll get to hear it all." Mark laughed, happy that she seemed to take his words on board.
"Jack... save me!" Aiden giggled, trying to hide in her mentor's arms.
"Nope, that's his job now. I've done my bit." Jack told her, stepping away. Aiden almost fell off the railing but Mark was quick enough to catch her. He steadied her for a moment as Jack burst out laughing.
"See, his job."
"Fine, fine. Traitor." Aiden joked, poking her tongue out at Jack.
"Put that thing away or I'll confiscate it." Mark warned.
"Not fair! You poke your tongue out on national TV all the time. Double standards suck." Aiden shot back, pouting.
"Well, when you make it to TV, feel free to poke your tongue out all you want. Until then, keep it under wraps." Mark teased.
"IfI make it to TV..." Aiden started, only to be cut off by Jack.
"He didn't say if, he said when. Has it still not sunk in that you're going to be able to join OVW now?"
"I'm not signing the contract." Aiden shrugged, looking at her shoes as she spoke. Her admission rendered Jack speechless.
"And why not?" Mark wondered, knowing she had to have a reason.
"Because, you've only just agreed to foster me. Yes, that makes you my legal guardian so technically we could sign it together right now but... who knows what the future holds? You and Sara might decide to move countries and I wouldn't be allowed to go with you. You might decide that I'm not fitting in with your family or that I'm too much trouble. I could end up back in Bethany in a week, a month, or even a year. Where would that put me in regards to OVW?" Aiden explained seriously.
"So, you'd rather wait until adoption papers are signed?" Mark queried.
"Maybe." Aiden shrugged.
"Kid, you're stuck with us. We're not planning on moving any time soon – the ranch in Texas is home. No matter how uncomfortable it is at first, or how hard you try not to love us back, we're not going to give up on you. You could burn our house to the ground – yes, I know about that – and we still wouldn't send you away. It's not in us to give up on anything. Adoption papers willbe signed, it's just a matter of time. I don't think you should let the lack of those papers stop you from signing the OVW contract. Someone out there thinks you have potential – and they're not the only one. Jack, Dean, Tom, Marty, Vince – they've all seen something in you. Sara and I see it too. So, after tonight's main event match, you will be signing your OVW contract in front of your fans." Mark decided. His tone of finality caught both Aiden and Jack by surprise.
"You don't ask for much, do ya?" Aiden mused, thinking over what Mark had said.
"No more than you have the ability to give. So, are you in? Or would you rather see how difficult you can make things for everyone, including yourself?" Mark queried.
Aiden looked over to Jack for help, unsure what she should say in response to everything Mark had said. Part of her was jumping for joy, hearing that Mark and Sara wouldn't give up on her, no matter what. It was exactly what Jack had told her. But, Jack had done more than just say the words. He'd backed them up every day. Then again, Mark and Sara had signed the papers to foster her so, maybe... maybe he was being genuine? Maybe he and Sara would back up his words?
"I can't tell you what to do here, Aiden. Listen to your heart, it won't lead you wrong." Jack offered as much reassurance as he could. He could see in her eyes that Mark's words had gotten through to her.
"I... I guess I'm in. As if main event wasn't more than enough pressure, though... now I have a contract signing to worry about?" Aiden half joked.
In truth, she was wondering why anyone else would care about her being offered the contract. Sure, she'd seen similar things happen when other trainees got offered spots elsewhere but, usually the most it was was Jack making an announcement about where the trainee was going so their fans could keep up with them if they wanted to. To her knowledge, there'd never been a full on contract signing in front of the fans.
"Why do you need to worry? You know you've got the contract. Your fans are going to be really happy for you, Aiden." Mark reasoned.
"Maybe. Guess we'll see, huh?" Aiden shrugged again, finally resigning herself to the fact that it was all going to happen.
"I guess we will." Mark nodded.
A/N:There you have it. Please, send me a review to let me know what you think. I'm hoping some of my loyal reader/reviewers are still interested to see what happens with Aiden's story. Thanks again, Mocha, for the advice that helped me click things into place. Until next time!