Hey, it's a new story! Peter's up first on the smorgasboard of mental angst and torture.

Un-beta'ed, so quibble away.

- o – o -

Lullaby for a Stormy Night

Chapter one: Unwanted Stranger

Peter Fleming knew his company, ARK Corporation, would cause problems. He'd expected them to come sooner, in all honesty. In his mind, though, it wouldn't have caused… Well, no serious problems. Maybe someone would threaten him, or try to convince him to merge his start-up into their company and then try to force him to take a very minor position in their company. But…

Well, he'd never expected any of his rivals to take things so seriously.

The billionaire winced as he touched his split lip. He didn't look in the mirror much these days. Part of it was because of the injuries he was recovering from. The other part was because he didn't want to look at the person responsible for his wife's death. He didn't want to see the man who'd been responsible for his daughter's torture looking back at him out of eyes that had once been…warm, alive. Diana had called them eyes the color of spring before; now… Well, she'd be as scared of them as he was.

He sighed, sinking into a hard armchair and buried his face in his hands. He'd done bad things before, but nothing had ever been so terrible as what he'd done—

Six weeks, five days, fifteen hours, forty-two minutes, and three seconds ago, an unwanted voice muttered. Peter bit the side of his hand to choke back a sob. He'd let loose the darker parts of his psyche to save his baby girl, and had, in turn, created something so much worse than the monster he'd been trying to destroy.

Chess was an unwanted product of a desirable outcome. He was Peter's mirror twin, his…darker half. All his base impulses and desires, his murderous rage that had been so carefully buried made manifest in a sociopathic, immoral bastard.

While I'd love to chat with you more about your short-comings as a human being, Peter, your baby girl is having another nightmare.

Peter pelted for the door of his bedroom, too large without Diana's presence, not bothering to grab a bathrobe or slippers. He reached the door to Jamie's bedroom, wondering just when that hallway had gotten so long. The man paused, one hand on the doorknob as he listened for the telltale sobbing. He really ought to call Samuels, but… Well, it was one in the morning. Maybe, just maybe…

Maybe he could do this himself?

Fleming chewed on his lower lip for a few seconds, before taking a deep breath to steel his resolve. He was Jamie's father, for god's sake. He could do this! Hell, even his unwanted friend could do this—perhaps not as gently, or even as lovingly, but Chess wouldn't be so afraid… Damn. Now he'd have to go, or endure Chess's taunts for another sleepless night.

He pushed into the room, wondering just when a room so pink and cotton candy-like had gotten so dark and depressing. This was his little ballerina's room. It was supposed to be fit for a princess, not resemble that treacherous, cavernous warehouse she'd been tortured in.

Jamie was curled up in the center of her bed, a massive wooden monstrosity carved to look like a seashell. Her blankets were tangled around her feet, and she was still kicking weakly at them. Her face was screwed up in a pained grimace, and her hands were grasping for something. Her teddy bear, Peter guessed; a corduroy thing from his own childhood—the ribbon had been replaced, though. Jamie much preferred the red-and-black checked pattern tied in a bow to a maroon strip of velvet, knotted like a proper tie. Every so often, a heartrending whimper would escape from her lips.

Peter crossed the room in a second, sinking down on the plush feather mattress next to his little ballerina. After a second's hesitation, he picked her up and cradled her in his arms. The man rubbed her back, murmuring whatever soothing things came to mind. After a few minutes that seemed to stretch on for eternity, Jamie's sobs and pained whimpers died away and she fell back into a restful sleep.

The billionaire sighed in mixed relief and happiness. He'd calmed his daughter down on his own, and his guilt—for once—wasn't eating away at his insides.

Good boy, Chess murmured. Peter didn't even register the comment as he dosed off, still holding Jamie close to his chest. For one night, all was well.

No unwanted strangers bothered either of their dreams for the rest of the night, for a good long while.

And Peter was just fine with sleeping on a cot in his daughter's room to make sure that happened.

- o – o -

So, that's the first chapter. What did you think? Good? Bad? Want to give Peter a big ol' hug too? Drop a line and let me know!

General disclaimer: I don't need to point out that The Cape isn't mine-if it were, it'd still be on the air! The story and chapter titles come from a song by the talented Vienna Teng, titled Lullaby for a Stormy Night. You should go check it out.