(Malibu, Los Angeles)
William S. Burroughs wrote of ‘the naked lunch’ moment; the instance where you see what is on the end of every fork. An individual realizing what is right in front of him… an epiphany of self-awareness. He believes he is privy to such a profound realization now. However, he’s not particularly good with children.
Daken stands up after being surprised by the runaways in their own kitchen. Nico points the Staff of One at him and demands to know who sent him after them and what he wants. Daken wants Marcus Roston’s entrails for Christmas decorations and reckons the children’s quaint naiveté will help him achieve that. He suddenly acts all innocent and tells them that he came for their help. They’re the runaways, right? He has some information… something they need to know. “The Pride has returned.” The runaways are stunned by the idea but only for a moment. “He’s from the Pride. Get him!!” yells Molly and everyone, except Nico, charges towards him. Before he can explain, Molly punches him clean through the wall of the house.
Daken lands outside and picks himself up. Behold, he thinks, the power levels of idiot teens and prepubescents. He knows that he is an intelligent man who is fully aware of his own limitations and can thereby strategically overcome them. However, there’s not a brain cell between this group but they have much he can use. Chase heads outside and stands over him, asking them not to panic. He’s got this “Travis Bickle” cosplayer.
Daken takes one look at him and reckons that, unlike the others, this surfing irritant seems both superfluous and powerless. He slashes at Chase with his claws and manages to draw blood on his stomach. Molly steps in to protect him and just manages to hit him on his shoulder, but it’s a glancing blow on the arm that Roston broke and Daken swats her away into the ground.
He tells her she shouldn’t have done that. He’s so very tired of hurting others. She looks up and realizes something. “Wolverine… you’re Wolverine’s little boy. And you’re running aren’t you?” she asks. “Just like us.” Before he can answer, Nico uses the Staff of One and says, “Freeze to the exact temperature and aesthetic appearance of a cheap popsicle from a 7-11.” Daken instantly freezes though he is still aware of what is going on around him. Nico informs him that what she holds is the Staff of One. It allows her to cast any spell imaginable, but only once. She adds that she’s frozen someone before so she couldn’t use it again. However, she’s learnt that the trick is to be really specific. So, she gets specific and asks Daken about everything he knows about the Pride. Daken tells them, which only serves to ensure he now has his army.
Once the spell has worn off, Daken sits with the runaways in the kitchen and has a brew. Using his heightened senses, he knows that their fear and stress levels are palpable at the mere mention of the Pride, as is the cheap lack of sophistication in the utterly appalling instant coffee he’s drinking. Chase is being tended to by Karolina and he calls Daken a jerk. Daken apologizes for hurting him but Chase was attacking him and he panicked. Karolina asks him to ignore Chase. He recently suffered a really bad auto accident. Daken says he’s sorry and asks what happened. “I got better,” snarls Chase as he pulls away from Karolina.
Nico tells Daken that this is nice and all, but he just turns up and tells them that a previously unknown member of the Pride has come to take over L.A and it just happens to be one of the biggest movie stars on the planet. “Marcus Roston’s a dreamboat, Nico,” says Molly. She asks Mol to be quiet and tells Daken that this makes no sense. If he were a member of the Pride he’d have come after them. Victor Mancha picks up a photograph. “This guy?” he asks. Klara tells him that he is quite attractive. “Ew. Creepy Uncle Eli,” sighs Chase. He then has a revelation. The picture is of his creepy Uncle Eli. They remember him, right? He then hopes he’s not suddenly having a previously repressed traumatic memory.
Daken stands and informs him that Roston is a shape-shifter. Marcus is almost certainly not his real name. He asks Chase to continue, so Chase explains that the guy used to come visit his parents when he was a kid. He’s pretty sure of it.
As a child he never liked Uncle Eli. He was a creepy dude and he’s an excellent judge of character. Nico reminds him that his parents were supervillains and he never knew, but he tells her to shut up. He remembers there was a big argument between Eli and his father but his mom got him away from there pretty quickly. Then, creepy Uncle Eli didn’t come around anymore. However, he did have this weird recurring dream. He remembers that. He thought Eli was at the end of his bed, just kinda… hovering there, smiling. He told his mom and she made him sleep with her and his dad for a while.
Daken informs him that it wasn’t a dream. Roston was making a point to his parents that he could get to their most precious object and hurt them terribly any time he wanted to. Nico asks who he’s saying Roston is. A brother of their parents? A member of the Pride who they threw out? Daken says probably. Nico explain that their parents were evil criminals, super scientists, wizards… bad people. They ran Los Angeles’ crime scene for years and they saw them sacrifice a young girl in cold blood. Why would they throw this guy out?
Daken reckons that from what he’s heard, their parents were professionals. Roston is insane. Chase asks if he was really in his bedroom all those times. “Yes,” replies Daken. Chase is grossed out and asks what makes him so sure. Daken says it’s what he would have done. He pours the rest of his dismal coffee away and heads for the door. He tells them he has their number and will call them once he’s tracked down Roston. For now, they should stay there whilst he attends to some personal business. As he leaves, Molly blocks the door. He asks what she wants. Molly says she likes Wolverine. He’s her favorite. She’s trying to work out if Daken’s like him or not. As soon as he’s gone, Nico asks Victor to pull up everything he can on Daken from the internet.
A beret-wearing movie director is filming on set. Marcus Roston is sitting alone but he begins to cry. “Waiting around… on a movie set?” he moans. He gets up and heads to the set but the director spots him and tells him he’s not actually in this scene. Marcus wipes away the tears and tells the gathered crew that they don’t understand. He is Marcus Roston. He’s a star, and… he’s bored. The director gets in his face and warns him that this is his movie and Marcus is wasting everyone’s time with whatever this prima donna crap is. Wasting time and wasting money. Marcus grabs his arm and replies that he struggles to take direction sometimes. He then snaps the guy’s arm and walks away saying that acting was fun for a while, but now it’s over.
(L.A.P.D. administration building)
A detective calls Agent Kiel’s name and tells her that they’ve just got a report of a minor assault over on Malibu. The description fits Akihiro. As they never found a body over on Catalina, he figures… Kiel ignores him and the guy’s colleague tells him Narnia’s getting even colder. The detective replies that Kiel hasn’t thrown up over her computer all day. He calls that progress.
Kiel heads to the roof and stands on the edge with a Heat pill in the palm of her hand. Before she swallows it, Daken appears behind her and asks her not to do it. He doesn’t want her to. Kiel spins around and aims her pistol at Daken. She asks who he is - Roston or Daken. She can’t tell anymore? Either way, she reckons he has to be crazy to come here. She’ll shoot him dead right now. He replies that she shot him once already, but she tells him that she doesn’t care what the drugs do to her anymore. She doesn’t care what he can do to her. The drug, and Roston… they’re controlling her. She wants it to be over.
Daken replies by telling her she knows what a psychopath is, right. Of course she does. She’s a criminal profiler. There are myriad traits attributed to it; callousness, deception, a penchant for hedonism. But chief among them is the inability to feel empathy for others. “I am a psychopath,” he adds, “But if that’s true, with the entire L.A.P.D. after his blood, he has come here because he is concerned for her safety. Why would he do this? Donna Kiel struggles to speak, but tells him that ‘he’ will rip his innards out and gnaw on his entrails.
Daken continues to say that he feels a kind of connection towards her. A symmetry. He admits that he’s struggled with this thought; the thought of how he could possibly feel anything for an ‘ordinary person.’ Then he realized something. “You are not an ordinary person.” He reaches out and touches her pistol, telling her that he feels they are the same. He thinks she is a psychopath.
He asks her to give him the pill. She hands it over and he holds it between his fingers. He tells her that he beat the drug and so can she. She is strong enough and smart enough to break his control because she is his equal. Suddenly, they turn and see Roston hovering near the edge of the building. He is wearing an overcoat and looking right at them. As Daken wonders what he’s doing, he snikts his claws and reckons Roston’s finally decided to show the world that he’s special and that his pretense of normality is just that. He’s quite blindingly insane.
Roston moves away and hovers in front of some large windows where the cops inside can clearly see him. One police officer recognizes him and she tells her colleagues who it is. She loves his movies. She reckons it must be a Punk’d stunt or something. He’s on wires. She asks someone to take his picture. Outside, Roston’s eyes glow and he hopes someone does. He’s ready for his close-up now. With a thought, he unleashes a huge explosion that smashes every window in the building. Donna falls off the edge but Daken manages to catch her with his good arm. Roston moves to where they are and he punches Daken in the face, apologizing as he’d planned to string this out longer. But, he simply couldn’t wait.
Roston grabs Daken by the throat and squeezes. He explains that it transpires that nothing compares to playing with him. That must be gratifying for Daken’s ego, no? As he gloats, he is zapped from behind and yells out in pain. “Admit it,” says a voice from behind him. “You really want to say ‘who dares’ don’t you?” Roston turns and sees the Leapfrog with the runaways inside with Victor standing on top of it and Karolina Dean flying overhead. Chase asks what the old saying is. “You can choose your friends, but your family is a bunch of evil, murdering, scum-sucking inter-dimensional super villains!!! Creepy Uncle Eli,” he adds. “Waddup? You goin’ dowwwn boy!!!”
Watching, Daken cannot help but smile. ‘And lo, I have my army.’