"It's A Wonderful Game of Chess"
Disclaimer: If I owned "The Cape," there'd be no question of which Fleming Vince should wind up with. If I owned "It's a Wonderful Life," that movie would be shorter, so very much shorter.
Chapter One: Lonely Heart
"I thought you were done drinking for the night."
Peter Fleming sat in front of his computer screen, a glass in his hand. He spared a glance for the semi-naked woman in his penthouse. Rebecca, he thought her name was. She'd been at the ARK Corporation party earlier in the evening and had managed to steer him away from the bar and back to his bedroom. But sex, like the alcohol, only distracted him for so long.
"What are you doing out of bed?" Rebecca asked, as she approached the desk. The computer monitor showed the latest post to Orwell's blog: "NEW EVIDENCE LINKS FLEMING TO CHIEF VOYT'S MURDER."
"Is that what's bothering you?" the blonde asked. "Surely there's no evidence that you can't explain away," or make disappear, she finished silently.
"It's just rubbish," Fleming mumbled, raising the glass to his lips. He wasn't afraid that the mysterious blogger would be able to pin anything on him. Still… the blogger was a pain in the arse. And the Cape just had to be on Orwell's side.
The vigilante had been acting more hostile to him lately. The Cape refused to acknowledge that there was anything between them and had seemed disgusted by Peter's insinuations that they could be more than archenemies. (Why, Peter didn't know. He was certain that the Cape was attracted to him. It was one of the few points on which he and Chess agreed.) Peter couldn't help aching for the hero, even though he found him infuriating.
Tonight was Christmas Eve. Was he spending it with family? No. His daughter, Jamie Fleming, could be anywhere. He hadn't heard a word from her in years, unless that had been her on the Monte Carlo spewing accusations at him. He suspected it probably was, and hated Scales for having distracted him from pursuing the young woman. Raoul bloody well deserved being set up after that.
His wife, Danielle, had been gone for more than a decade now. And it was entirely his fault—
No, it wasn't, Peter. Now put the glass down, end the pity party and go back to bed!
She would still be alive if it wasn't for him, though, Peter insisted mentally.
Goddamn it! You didn't kill her. I killed the bastards that did. Stop playing martyr! Chess raged.
What did Chess know? Stupid voice in his head, always contradicting him, belittling him, telling him to murder people…like Voyt.
He'd had Voyt killed to suit his purposes. Where did that get him? More accusations from his enemies, a new enemy in the smuggler, and the loss of a valued—
-If you say friend, Peter, you're full of it. You were never friends.
-Confidante, then. There weren't many people, even among his employees, that he could unburden himself to. He had recently learned that talking to his psychiatrist had been a mistake and had resorted to Chess' preferred methods for rectifying that error.
And so here he was. He'd been at the party, surrounded by people, and yet faced with the prospect of spending the holiday alone, no family, no friends, and no lover. Well, Rebecca had at least taken care of the latter.
"Peter, forget Orwell for a while. I hate to see you so upset. Please, come back to bed."
"Why? When I wake up, will anything have changed? I'll still be alone, persecuted by this wretch with a vendetta—"
"I'm sorry. The difference is that in the morning I'll wake up with a splitting headache courtesy of drinking too much."
"You're not alone. I'm here."
"Don't. Don't pretend that this is anything more than a one-night stand. I don't know you; don't even know your last name…"
"It's Deveraux," she said softly. "Let me cheer you up. I don't have to look like this, you know. I can shape shift. I can be anyone—"
Yes! Let me take over, Peter.
"Shut up!" Peter put his hands over his head, which was already starting to throb. "Both of you—quit trying to placate me! You can't change the fact that sooner or later, everyone finds me repulsive and leaves. Maybe he's right." It was not quite clear whether he was referring to the blogger or the vigilante. "Maybe I am a monster and I deserve to be ostracized. The city would be better off without me. Heck, the world would."
"Peter, that's not true!"
"Isn't it? I've corrupted the whole of Palm City. I've bought everyone that stood in my way and when there was someone I couldn't buy, I had him killed." This time it was the face, not of Voyt, but of the late Vincent Faraday that swam in his mind. He'd hardly known the man, but the fact that the cop was incorruptible had been enough to have him condemned. What the hell was the matter with him? It was his fault Dana Faraday was a grieving widow. Thanks to him, Faraday's son would have to grow up without a father. What kind of person could inflict that kind of pain so casually?
"I wish I was never born."
Why did you say that? Chess demanded.
Rebecca's face hardened.
"You shouldn't have said that, Peter." The person transformed before his eyes, until he was no longer looking at the woman he'd so recently shagged, but a man that looked vaguely familiar.
"You weren't kidding about being a shape shifter. You said your name was Deveraux?" Peter repeated.
"André Deveraux, shape shifter, immortal and magician." As he spoke, he raised his arms. White light emanated from his body, filling Peter's vision until he couldn't make out his surroundings and had to close his eyes. When he was able to reopen them, he saw that they were no longer in the penthouse. They had somehow been transported to a street in Palm City.
"And up to a few moments ago," Deveraux continued, "ancestor of one Peter Fleming."
Author's Note: Chapter title from Slow Club's "Christmas T.V." (Yes, I do know it's too early for Christmas. But the Quiver plot bunnies are somewhat hard to come by when Quentin isn't in the episode.)
For those of you not familiar with Deveraux's backstory, as created by IronAmerica, the character took the form of Rebecca in "Dark Relic" opposite James Frain's character, Sir Gregory. For those of you who are familiar with it, I am modifying it somewhat. In this version, the competition did not start with Deveraux and Max because Max is not immortal. Therefore it started with Max's ancestor and was passed down from generation to generation, although the competition will not figure in this story.
Again, I ask you to show your support for The Cape by joining me in boycotting NBC.
-Suit Up. Fight Back.