Freedom of Choice

By TheLostMaximoff

Disclaimer: I do not own these characters. This is the first time I've tried writing something from Layla's viewpoint. R/R.

"What're you doing?" I look up from the perfectly aligned grid of black and white tiles and stare at Jamie Madrox with a look of innocence that, strangely, I have never known.

"Wanna play chess?" I ask as if he really has a choice in the matter. I already know that he will agree to it in the end. There wouldn't be much point in setting up the board if I didn't already know the choice he was going to make. That is always the weird thing about the freedom to choose. Sometimes, choice is nothing but an illusion. We think we have the free will to choose right over wrong, good over evil, but some times, we really don't have that choice. One way or another, the things we do were meant to happen. I'm Layla Miller and I know that on this day at this specific hour I play a game of chess with Jamie Madrox. This event is supposed to take place because, one way or another, everything I know eventually becomes truth.

"Wouldn't that be kinda silly?" asks Jamie skeptically, "I mean if you 'know stuff' then won't you just know the moves I'll make before I make them?"

"Maybe I know you'll win," I tell him with a smile, "C'mon. I haven't had a chance to play in a while and I'm bored." I know that he knows how to play. He sent a dupe to Siberia to learn how to speak Russian. The dupe also learned how to play chess. Please don't ask me how I know things or why I know them. It really just ends up confusing people when I try to explain it and half the time I end up getting confused too.

"Fine," says Jamie as he sits down on the couch and stares at me across the coffee table, "Let's make it interesting though." I already know what he's going to suggest. He is going to make a silly, little bet with me and I am going to agree to this silly, little bet because I already know the outcome of this game and I already know what I say to him when he wins this silly, little bet.

"What'd you have in mind?" I ask him.

"If I win," says Jamie although the way he says it makes it sound like he thinks I will beat him, "I want you to tell me something about my future that I don't already know."

"Deal," I tell him as I shake his hand, "White or black?" I know he will pick white. It's the easier of the two to choose because it's already right in front of him and he's too lazy to turn the board around. Jamie isn't very good at making decisions. I think it's cute.

"White," replies Jamie as if he really had a choice in the matter. I don't believe in luck or coincidence. Everything happens the way it happens for a reason, for a greater good.

"You first then," I tell him as I watch him study the board. Choice is a funny thing. The more options you have, the harder it is to choose one. Sometimes I wonder if I have any choice in the way things occur. Do I take possibilities and make them certainties or do I just act out what was already destined to come true? If everything is predestined then I can't change what I know about my future. I know that I die young. Can I change that?

"You already know the move I'm going to make," states Jamie as he slides one of his pawns forward two squares, "It's not like I really have a choice."

"If you knew I was going to win then why did you make that bet with me?" I ask him as my hand instantly moves forward and I slide my pawn up two squares to have it sit right in front of the one he moved, "Your move."

"Actually, I didn't think you'd agree to it," admits Jamie as he studies the board, "That must mean you either don't know the outcome of the game or you do and I'm the one who ends up winning it."

"But if I knew I was going to lose then whatever I tell you must be pretty important," I reply, "I don't like to lose." Jamie slides his queen diagonally across the board until it's in the same row as the pawn I moved earlier. I know what this is becoming. He's setting up for a four-move checkmate. I could change the way this game turns out. I could choose to beat him, couldn't I? If I change the outcome of what I know then did I really know it in the first place? If knowing is absolute and I know how I die then I can't choose to avoid that.

"So why don't you just tell me?" asks Jamie as I place my right hand on my knight and move it up two squares and one square to my left. That move was such an amateur move and I really hate it that I have to look so bad at this in front of him just so I can tell him something that really is quite trivial.

"This is more fun," I tell him except really it's not that much fun. Not having a choice in how things turn out can be really crappy. Jamie shrugs and moves forward to take the bishop that's next to his king and slide it diagonally until it's across from the knight I just moved with only one square in between them. My hand automatically rests on my other knight. This is such a stupid move. If I do this, as if I have a choice about things, he's going to checkmate me with his next move. I could just choose a different move. I could just . . . choose a different life or a different occupation. I could choose to live instead of die the way I know I'm going to die. I could choose to do so many things except really I can't choose them because this is the way the universe works. Things have to happen this way because that's the way I know they happen. Choice isn't an option I can afford.

"Your move," I tell him as I move my other knight up two and over one so it's in the same row as the one I moved last time. His queen takes the pawn that's in the way of my king. I could take his queen but then his bishop would take my king. I could move my king up one to an empty space but then his queen would take it. I could have just not played this game in the first place but I'm Layla Miller and the stuff I know always comes true.

"Checkmate," Jamie tells me as if I didn't already know, "Alright, what's so important that you had to think up this elaborate scheme just to tell me it?"

"The day we get married, you wear a green tuxedo and you're the handsomest man on the planet," I tell him with a sickeningly sweet smile, "I need to finish organizing the filing cabinet."

"What happens the next time I beat you?" asks Jamie sarcastically, "You tell me where we go for our honeymoon?"

"We're not playing chess when I tell you that," I reply as I head into the office room, "That's the only game of chess you ever win against me."

"You know I could practice and prove you wrong," says Jamie as I open the drawer I was working on before I took a break. Yeah, Jamie, maybe you could. Maybe you could finally make a decision but I know that doesn't happen until after I'm gone. I wish I could choose to make things happen differently, Jamie, but this is how the story goes. Fate gave us parts to play and we have to see them through to the end. If I could choose something different then I would but I would be selfishly changing the course of events just because I wanted to grow old and have a fulfilling life. It wouldn't be fair to do that. So in the end, I really don't have a choice about how things turn out. As the old saying goes, you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet. It just sucks that I was stuck being one of those eggs and I never got the chance to choose otherwise. C'est la vie I suppose.