Category: General, Short fic
Spoilers: Everything up to and including "Delete"
Summary: A "missing scene" from Chloe's time spent at the Luthor mansion. A game is played...
Disclaimer: Hmmm...do I own Smallville or DC? Nope, `fraid not. This is just for fun. Don't sue!
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Life was a chessboard. His father had always said that. While other kids were learning the mysteries of Chutes and Ladders and Hungry, Hungry Hippo, Lex had learned not only where a rook could move, but why, and to what advantage.
"Never stop watching the board, Alexander. One brief moment when your eyes are away from the field of battle could mean the difference between conquering Babylon or returning to Alexandria a failure."
So many of his father's lessons he'd pushed away, seeing them for what they were- attempts to put him off the track toward greatness. But there were others...well, suffice it to say that in his 23 years, Lex Luthor had never taken his eyes off the board.
At least, that is, until they had been ripped away.
Now he looked at the board, after seven weeks that had been purged from his mind, and couldn't see exactly how the pieces had gotten to their present positions. Smallville had become Persia, and Lex was quickly realizing that he may have to return home.
How could he continue to play if he didn't understand where the pieces had come from and where they were going to?
Unless...the rules were changed. Unless he could use a separate set of eyes, ones that had seen the moves...even if only a few of them. Someone who knew how many steps from being in check he truly was.
He walked down the hallways of the mansion to find her.
"Do you play chess, Miss Sullivan?"
He found her in front of the computer she'd brought to Luthor mansion in an attempt to ward off the boredom of sanctuary. Gesturing to the machine, she asked, "Does internet chess count?"
Lex smirked, "Of course, the rules are the same, but aesthetically I believe a real board is more...challenging. Care to try?"
Chloe blinked in surprise as Lex held out a hand to her in invitation. He could almost hear her inner monologue: "Ooo-kaaay. Why does he want to play chess with me? Boredom? No, he could take over small companies if he was bored. A chance to get his mind off his troubles? Possibly, but it doesn't seem that Lex is the type who ever stops thinking of his next move. Strategy, then. But what does he want?"
Chloe looked him directly in the eye, as if searching for a hint of his ulterior motives. She was rewarded by his soft chuckle.
"Come, now, Miss Sullivan. Would you rather be in front of a computer, the agent of your particular predicament, or would you like to be in front of wood and marble, neither of which will cause your friends to attack you?"
He wasn't at all surprised when, taking his hand, she let herself be led to the library, the slight dampness on her palms the only hint of her nerves.
Lex smirked as he watched her make her first moves. Yes, she was very intelligent, but Chloe Sullivan lacked the innate quality that was necessary for the very best chess players. Patience.
He watched as Chloe leaned back in her chair, obviously pleased with her selections, and couldn't help but grin as he brought his rook forward, easily displacing her own.
"Hey!" Chloe exclaimed.
"Your problem..." Lex began, watching as Chloe raised a haughty eyebrow, "is that you don't look before you leap, isn't that correct, Miss Sullivan?"
He watched her shift uncomfortably, pleased that her mind was focused on more than the game in front of them.
"The importance is to know the rules, the players, before you begin."
"You can say that again," Chloe mumbled.
"Have you ever really learned the rules of chess?"
"What, you mean like the rook can go in a straight line, the bishop diagonally, and the king rules everything?"
Lex leaned back in his chair and steepled his fingers. "Do you truly believe that about the king? That he is independent in his power?"
Chloe's expression became pensive. "Well, yeah, I mean, he can move in any direction. That seems to show power, doesn't it?"
"True," Lex replied, "But he is utterly dependent on the others to keep him out of check. You see, if the pieces move independently, giving no regard to his situation, than he is in grave danger of losing his throne."
Chloe nodded, slowly. "Yes, that makes sense."
"And in this way, the king has an effect on the other pieces. A symbiosis, if you will." He shot Chloe a steely gaze. "But there is one piece that is affected more than the others."
Chloe's eyes cleared of confusion. "I see. And that would be the pawn, correct?"
"Yes," Lex said. He made his next move.
"You see...the pawn is affected by her plans. If she simply chooses to move to another square, she does so in a straight forward manner. But if she wishes to take...well, then she must move out of line, diagonally. But in the end, her moves are determined by those around her, and most specifically, by the king and his needs."
Would she see? Could she understand the game well enough to truly play? Would she understand her place on the board?
"So it seems that the pawn has to understand that she doesn't have the control she might have thought she had when she first began to play."
Chloe's expression was guarded. Studying the board, she asked, "But what if the pawn used the rules to the other side's advantage?"
Lex stifled the grin that threatened to break across his face. "How so?"
"What if," Chloe began slowly, "the pawn on the white side," she gestured to her pieces, "was actually helping the moves of those on the black. What if she were making her moves to position her own king in check?"
"To the benefit of the black king?" Lex asked. Nodding at the board, he said, "Proceed."
As their moves played out, he watched as her pieces danced around their king, seemingly protecting, while her pawn left him open for attack. In a few short moves, Lex had captured her king. "Well played, Miss Sullivan. But what does the pawn get out of this game, this sharing of information with the black king?"
Her eyes were cold and calculating as she stared him down. "Her freedom."
Matching gaze for gaze, Lex said, "Agreed."
The board had been put away, the pieces nestled into their velvet casing. Chloe had returned home, no longer chased by a vengeful psychopath, and one game had ended.
But another was still in play.
Lex visualized the board, now half filled in his mind with the moves Chloe had seen during those seven weeks. And, with a little help from the good doctor, Lex would be able to fill in the rest soon
Gazing at the portrait of his father, Lex realized that for the first time in many months, he might actually be in reach of saying that which he had waited 23 years to say.
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