Synopsis: Ace is having a fun night on the town. Winning big, gaining some fine females attraction, but feeling like a big loser. Why can't he just forget about his wife and just have a good time?
A/N: Inspired off of Paramore's song That's What You Get (think from Buttercups perspective). And Catholics are awesome, and I have several close family friends that are Catholic.
Things Will Get Better Now
Things Will Get Better Now
While crime rate was almost non-existent in Townsville, the underground gambling rings were still hanging on. As long as you knew where to look and as it just so happened a certain former leader of the Gang Green Gang did. A man currently seated at a Black Jack table at just such an establishment.
"Hit me." A card came flying his way, another perfect 21, tonight was Ace's night. He had been cleaning up in money and women. Behind him a tall drink of water giving a much needed massage to his long deserving back, and to his left there was a blond bombshell draping her arms around him. Their names were unimportant, but man if they weren't gorgeous. He smirked as he showed his hand and earned his winnings. Taking another swig from a beer he had been nursing he got dealt in for the next round. "Bought time lady luck showed her sorry face around these parts." He whipped his free hand through his greasy black hair.
"That's a lot of money Ace'y baby, whatcha are you gonna do with it all?" The bombshell asked coyly. Her heavy Brooklyn-esc accent speech slurred together like him after too much drink. "Aw, y'know your Ace'ys gonna' buy all you's girls something real stylish like." His promises were empty, like every other one he had ever made.
"Hey Ace, how come you don't come to the old joints no mores?" Asked a man seated to the far left. Ace vaguely remembered the ugly mug of the man that looked too old school mobster to be cool. He had taken some bets through him in the past. None of which ever came through. "Hey if it ain't Lenny, girls say hello to Lenny." His gaggle of gold diggers smiled. "Real proper gent Lenny is he scammed me pretty good in the past." But a scam from a bookie was nothing more than a way of saying hello, everyone knew that. Lenny scowled at Ace. "Since you're so curious to know, the ol' hag found out about the old joints and busted em' down." The bookies eyes bulged "So that's why Joes?" Hand over heart Ace nodded solemnly. "Fraid it wasn't closed for renovations, that old bat of mine tore it down." The table grew quiet, everyone had wondered what happened to Joes.
"Hit me." Ace beckoned for a new card and the tables hush broke. The bombshell was the next to speak up. "Whatever for, Ace'y baby?" He grinned a hungry smile towards the woman sprawled out next to him. Her dress was too tight and too short in all the right places. "She found me in the arms of such… pleasurable companies. Such as you's two." He couldn't forget his tall drink of water, tonight he was shooting for too. Speaking of tonight, where was that infernal woman of his? "She busted through the roof and beat the daylights out of everyones who dared to so much as do the thinking about me, so naturally I's gets the worst of it." He rubbed his jaw as he remembered his painful encounter.
"Hit me." This time the word held much more weight to him. It wasn't until after he got his next card in hand that he noticed his women folk were looking spooked, better heard them back in. "But donchyu worry none girls. Ace'y here will protect ya's good from his big scary ball en' chain." She was late usually she was here by now, busting someone up, and calling him a home wrecker. His little chicks were still wary but the fat stack of green that he was winning was enough to keep them corralled. "Oh Ace why on earth would you ever get together with such a beast?" The tall drink of water asked, now embracing his neck lightly from behind with her cheek close, resting next to his. He remembered all the times when he had been that way with a certain woman who still hadn't come by to give him his regular beat-down. This was getting a mite frustrating, how dare she keep him waiting.
"Y'knows I have no clue. One day it's all peaches n' creams and then 'bam' next day you're hitched!" Ace lied, he did have a clue. It was on her 18th birthday and he hadn't bought a present yet for his once enemy, now good friend. She would have killed him, if it hadn't been for two quarters and a toy deepener. With chump change he bought her a chump plastic ring. For some reason she had loved it and so his crisis had been obverted.
He remembered next, idiot that he was, jokingly proposing to here right there in front of the Townsville minimart next to the soda display. It was meant to be a joke but she backed his bluff by accepting the phony proposal. And since neither had never lost in a game of chicken they kept going on until the two of them were married by an Elvis in Las Vegas same day. Meeting the in-laws and explaining the situation was an experience he hoped he would he would never have to go through again.
Lost in thought he almost didn't notice that his hand, once again, was a winning one. Tonight there was no wife, no losses, only winnings and fine woman to be had. But right now Ace felt more like he was losing the biggest bet he had ever made.
"Plus she looks worse than mud!" He added, a new round started and he downed the last of his drink. "That bad baby?" The bombshell asked. "Oh yeah met her when she was six, you'd think she fill out nice an' pretty likes her sisters but no. She had to be the butch, she's just as flat as she was in kindergarten, no curves. S'pose I bet on the wrong horse again there. Ain't no surprises there. Eh Lenny?" Ace motioned and Lenny nodded his agreements. God he was getting drunk, but god if he didn't want another drink.
"No place in the world for woman like that, sad really, she would've done better as a man." He rested his free hand on the nape of the bombshells back. Her curves under his hands were contoured perfectly. But he had never felt so out of place. Ace almost recoiled as he found himself longing to rest his hand on the same seemingly flat but subtle curves he had been complaining about moments ago. Immediately he tried to snuff the thought out. He couldn't. Street smarts helped him keep his cool though, so his shock went unnoticed. His reputation for a good poker face, surprisingly enough, wasn't all just big talk.
"Oh that sounds awful, Ace'y baby, how long has it been since you been with a real woman?" The bombshell talked suggestively rubbing a hand um his chest. He ignored the advance, lost in thought for a response. Actually Ace had never gotten lucky during his teenage years, the only women he had been with was his wife. And, of course, that underdeveloped ninny couldn't possibly count for a real woman. But he knew that was a lie.
"Too Long." He replied, only missing a beat, to the prying women who now was very interested in his shirts neckline. "You'd think being married to me she'd let me have a go at her more often but no. That women is a time bomb of mood sings. And if I's ever do gets to so much as touch her she pops out another brat. She's like a factory. You'd think she was Catholic." In truth both of them were just too proud to use protection. Another game of Chicken between them, he supposed, a game he really should just stop playing with her.
"I have seven of the little parasites, one for every year of marriage." Ace whined, and the girls around him feigned sympathy. But what Ace didn't tell them was that he made sure to never leave home without his wallet that carried a picture of each and every one of those parasites. Grabbing a passing beer from a waiter working the casino floor he continued.
"Here I am working myself to the bone everyday picking up her royalty checks and gambling them to make a little extra from it. Trying my best to support those little ingrates, and there she is acting like a human pez dispenser." His complaints were met by fake sympathy. But he knew they were thinking the same thing he was, and like him they would never say it. He was a scummy excuse for a dad and a husband. Ace was no better than his old man. A thought he quickly smothered with his booze.
"She even has an eighth one cooking in the ol' oven." A smile of pride surreptitiously tugged at his mouth, the doctors said it would be a girl. That would make three adorable daughters in total. But he drowned that thought away too drink. He wasn't ready to think sappy, not just yet.
Tall drink of water was the next to speak. "Sounds just awful Ace, if you were my man I would appreciate you much more." The bombshell nodded in agreement. Yeah right they would, right until they sucked him dry of his winnings. Speaking of wining, Ace collected his shares from another successful round.
"Oh Ace baby, another win!" Both girls let out squeals of excitement at the amount their newest gold mine had earned. Truthfully ace had lost count. Honestly this winning streak was starting to unnerve him. Here he was talking unabashedly about that dumb broad, and nothing. He even insulted his own flesh and blood! By now he'd have two black eyes. He bet every beating that he ever got she could hear him. Ace knew the range of her supersonic hearing. He'd tested it multiple times. So why wasn't she here? If she thought he would turn chicken and come home… chicken. That was it! Well if she wanted to play then he would too.
Without warning he pulled the tall drink of water in for a rough, long, and loud kiss. It wasn't an odd act to perform in such an establishment, but it felt so wrong to him. She was built from the top down like a centerfold but inside it was like kissing Lil' Arturo. But he refused to stop he would push forward with the plan. The bait acted out her role well enough, but it wasn't enough to real in that stubborn old goat of his.
Next it was bombshell he pulled the same stunt except this time longer and louder. How was she still not here? Ace had gotten away with a lot, well considering his wife, in his married life, but never this much. It was apparent that tonight she wouldn't be coming to get him. No matter what he was screwing up she always had come to set him straight without fail. Could that woman have finally given up on him? In moments that felt like hours the answer had become clear to him, yes. Yes she had.
Anger, annoyance, and disappointment were all feelings he felt. There was also a odd melancholy sadness mixed in that made his heart ache. Well if she was going to let it happen then he was going to enjoy himself in his adultery. If she wanted a home wrecker, he would give her one for the ages. Ace deepened the kiss that he shared with some nameless woman, trying to find any pleasure to cling to in his swirling emotions. He felt nothing. Her mouth, tasted like… a mouth. He began to long for the familiar taste of a black coffee mixed with the taste of his tobacco. Ace realized that the only kiss he wanted right now was from a woman who still believed he could live an honest life. One who gave up her passion to work three different jobs and raise seven kids for a father who was constantly in and out of a jail cell. Patiently waiting for the man who stole every penny she saved to come home after he gambled it all away.
There was no joy for him here with these women or in the newly acquired small fortune of his. This was stupid. They were both such stubborn fools. What would it matter if he proved that he could go through with his actions regardless of the crash it would cause later if neither pulled back. Was it really worth beating his wife in a battle of wills, tallying the first and ever point to him on a nonexistent scoreboard? All he'd win is a trip to divorce court, and breaking the heart of the first girl who ever cared about him. The unbearable guilt and shame that he held back for his whole life came flooding into him. His heart ached more than he thought possible for someone as cold and as cool as himself. It was pleading with him to stop, to pull back before it was too late, and for the first time in a long time he listened to it. So he pulled back.
The bombshell was surprised at his sudden retreat as well as everyone else at the table. Apparently they had been embraced for quite some time. Too cool to feel embarrassed and too drunk to care Ace calmly stood forcing his two groupies to the side. "Ace'y , honey, what's the matter? " The bombshell asked. He swiftly collected his winnings and the girls knew that if he left now they wouldn't be coming along for the ride. "Home, why you's got a p'rolem with that." He looked at them over his sunglasses nonchalantly.
Afraid of losing her cash cow the tall drink of water trys to dissuade him from leaving "Ace, baby, don' go." She pouted. "Yeah, not back to that mean wife of yours" Bombshell piped up again, it was a team effort now. "And remember those kids o' hers, didn' you say that they were just brats. Stay here and have fun, please." He gave both of them a stern look.
"Don chu's twos know when ta' close yer yaps. Ain't nobody no how talks bad about my girl but me. An don' chu you two's be callen my brats brats. Capiche?" His speech was more than condescending and slightly slurred from the alcohol, but he was still too slick to lose his temper. Still, the no-nonsense tone laced in between each word was glaringly apparent to them. The night was still young. They still had time to find another potential sugar daddy, so they gave up.
He stalked out of the very illegal underground establishment, and staggered into the alleyway where in the entrance and exit to the secret casino was nothing more than a steel door with a peep hole. Money in a bag he left for home, very drunk, but at the same time filled with a sobering realization.
Walking in the dead of night Ace finally understood how he felt towards his family and especially his wife. How she had dealt with him all these years he couldn't fathom. Every chance he got he tried to pull away, and every time she had put him back straight. Back where he belonged. Each time he had struggled harder and harder to jump of a bridge built high over a pit of potential failings, she would just get hurt dragging him away from the edge. Did she enjoy the pain he caused her?
Seven years, almost eight, had it really been that long? Even now she didn't have a proper wedding ring. She still wore that stupid plastic toy. He recalled vaguely promising to by her a better one, once he got a job. Fat chance that was, but she still believed him and never once pestered him.
How could she just sit there and let him mooch off of the severance checks she received from the state? How dare that woman be dumb enough to accept the proposal from a deadbeat such as himself, what was she stupid? No, he had a feeling that she knew exactly what she was getting herself into. She understood all that he was, and she always had.
Suddenly he noticed that he was standing in front of the same mini mart where he had proposed. He must have walked there subconsciously. Ace also saw that the same dinky toy ring dispenser was still there too. With the money he had now he could buy a proper one now. One far superior to the plastic piece of junk she wore around her finger now. But Ace knew that no matter how beautiful the replacement, it wouldn't change the fact that he had gotten it through the dirty money he had earned tonight. She would never be keen on a ring like that. Morals, always getting in the way.
So he took out the proper amount he got from the bank today, courtesy of his wife's former employment, and dumped the rest in the trash. Fishing through his pockets he found that he had just the right amount of change with him. And just like all those years ago he got himself another ring. Once again he was back to being practically penniless and only had a plastic ring to his name. That's what he got for following his emotions, but he had never felt better. After pocketing his prize Ace headed back home, once again.
His family lived in a nice cozy little neighborhood that singlehanded lowered he property value for the whole area. With boarded windows, a broken roof with spotty patch jobs, and a lawn littered with trash. Neither he nor his spouse was what one would consider tidy, and he just remembered how much he adored her for that.
Whether it was all the effects of the beers, Ace felt grateful. However he wouldn't let that bat of his know how lucky he was to have snatched a flat chest beauty such as herself before anyone else did. Just like how he would rather shower in the arctic rather than tell her that infamous four letter word that started with an 'L'. It was all too mushy for a man such as himself.
When he entered his messy and rundown home he was blasted by the sounds of seven children having their last burst of fun before bedtime. Some were watching re-runs of the Puppet Pals on the old television, others playing with second hand toys. All of them noticed daddy though, it was rare for him to come home so early, and all wanted their hugs and kisses as was standard greeting procedures. Ace, as drunk as he was, gladly obliged. One day they might realize what a letdown he had been to them, but for right now he was still their father. Their hero. From now on, he resolved to himself, he would become a man deserving of this unbridled adoration they all held towards him.
After that had been taken care of, Ace slinked off into the kitchen.. Where a woman, his woman, was busy washing dishes dirtied from another dinner he promised to be there for that, as usual, he had missed. From now on he would be there every night she cooked for him, no matter how burnt the spam was. And he would save up and buy her a dish washer. After all she really did deserve one for all that she did.
For a while it was just him looking at the back of his neglected wife, and the sounds of a sponge scrubbing away caked on grime. Ace cleared his throat. He already knew that she knew he was there though. No response from her.
"Tomorrow," He started "I'm gonna go look for a job like," She didn't stop washing, "for reals this time." That made her stop, she was the only one who had heard him lie enough to tell when he was speaking the truth. "And I promise I'll buys you a proper one of these," He pelted the prize he won earlier at her head, that made her turn around.
She was so pregnant, how did she do what she did without his help for so long? Sure she was super human and all but still, there's only so much a person can take. Let alone a pregnant person. His wife grabbed the capsule toy before it hit the ground, the years hadn't dulled her reflexes at all. Those big green eyes of her said it all. She didn't expect him to come back. Hah, sure showed her. Ace shot a look back that told her without words the first real apology he had ever made, but would never say. He was done playing Chicken, in more ways than one, she won and he wasn't going anywhere.
She opened the capsule. If she wasn't as prideful as he was she might have gasped when she opened it. But instead she played cool like he had so many times before. Only the sparkle in her eyes clued him in, still not a word on her part. He knew if he had married any other woman they would have broken down like one of those corny romances that the both of them openly mocked in theatres back in their yester years.
"And I'll save up enough dough's for you's to buy a proper one of those," Then Ace pointed to her stomach "Before you's have the next bundle o' joy right there. That's a promise woman." She was almost going to thank him, but he cut her off. No way a woman like that would thank a guy like him, not after the wrong he's done her. "Y'knows just cause your pregnant don't means you's cans eats whatever ya feals like. You better be nice an' trim once that thing comes out a' yah." Moment gone, her face was steadily turning three different shades of angry.
"Sure I'd like for you to make with some curves but I don't wanna be married to no's butter butts, got it Buttercup." He shrugged, and gave her that same smug grin that got her goat so well. Now that got her angry. Almost angry enough to use her laser vision in front of the kids. But Buttercuo Instead settled for pelting a wet plate at his head. "You crazy drunk, do you know who you're messing with here?"
Now came their standard Benny hill chase scene, he enjoyed every minute of it. Even if she was throwing knives at his head."Leave me alone all day to take care of the kids, and waddya mean you're gonna go look for a job? I thought you had gotten one at the local drive thru! Don't tell me you've been out gambling again!"
"Leave me waiting for you at all hours of the night, always coming home boozed over! You're this close to me calling my sisters and leaving you out on the curve you bum, you, you!" Her yells and rants would go long into the night, and the whole neighborhood wouldn't get a lick of rest. Ace didn't know why he had spent so much time running away from this life, from his family. His little Buttercup, that spitfire, when had she grown up without him noticing? It was time he started acting like the husband she deserved. A man that could be there for her every night to chase around with a knife, or a frying pan, one she could yell at when she was angry and come to when she was sad. Even though he wouldn't say it… just this once he would think it. I love you.
On that night, they both just knew that things were going to get better for them.