Chapter 1: It's All a Blur
Disclaimer: I do not own “The Cape,” “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman,” or the formula for Revenge.
Chapter One: It's All a Blur
“Mr. Fleming, I’m glad that ARK is interested in investing in my work,” Miranda smiled.
After spending seventeen years in prison, she had finally been released. Seventeen years of her life, wasted. What had she done to deserve that? She hadn’t killed anyone. Well, if Superman hadn’t shown up in time, she would have, but still… If she had a nickel for everyone that had tried to kill Lois Lane, she wouldn’t need investors.
Two months ago, she had moved to Palm City and opened up a perfume store. Last week, out of the blue, she received a phone call from someone at ARK Corporation. Peter Fleming was interested in her research. Would she mind giving him a tour of her current facilities? The last billionaire who had funded her research had been Lex Luthor. Oh, Lex. She had been in love with him, though he didn’t feel the same way. She’d asked him to wait for her…
But he was dead now and had been for years. It was too late for her to get revenge on the bastard.
Perhaps it wasn’t too late to start over.
“Call me Peter. The pleasure is mine, Miranda. Tell me, what did you create for Lex Luthor?”
“Mr. Fle--I mean, Peter--that product sent me to prison for the better part of two decades. Surely you don’t think I would risk my newfound freedom?”
“I’ve done my homework, Miranda. You went to prison for trying to dip Ms. Lane in a vat of acid and for sabotaging a scheduled fruit fly spraying. Besides which, I can assure you that we are very discreet at ARK.”
“You just have a small problem with your more unsavory activities being reported by Orwell. I’ve done my homework, too, Peter.”
Peter’s expression darkened.
“You let me worry about Orwell. She’s not your concern. Now, let’s get down to business.”
“I’ll be her concern when I splash whatever they’re up to all over my blog.” Orwell’s voice came over The Cape’s headset. The hero was hidden in a corner of the laboratory where Miranda mixed her perfumes. His partner was monitoring everything from the bugs he’d installed in the room.
“Quiet! I don’t want to miss what they’re saying,” Vince whispered back.
“Did you just tell me to be quiet?”
“As it happens, I do have some of the 2% solution on hand,” Miranda conceded. She walked towards a locked cabinet and pulled a key out of a pocket.
“The 2% solution of what?” Peter asked.
“Revenge, of course,” she smirked as she unlocked the cabinet.
“Miranda, do get to the point. You know I’m not going to write you any checks for a perfume formula.”
“This formula you’ll be interested in, Peter. It’s basically a diluted solution of pheromones.”
“Pheromones? I know my specialty wasn’t in chemical engineering, but wouldn’t that mean--”
“Passions running wild? One spray of this will overcome all of the victim’s inhibitions.”
“For how long?”
“About 48 hours.”
“How do I know it works?”
“I told you--Revenge got me into a lot of trouble. Superman wasn’t too happy about my plan to spray it over all of Metropolis.”
“And Lex Luthor didn’t come to your defense?”
“Let’s not talk about Lex. One isn’t supposed to speak ill of the dead.”
“Nonsense. People are still vilifying Chess.”
“Who said Chess was dead?” The Cape swooped in, seemingly out of nowhere. “Hello, Peter.”
“Miranda, I apologize for the interruption. You see, The Cape has taken an avid interest in my affairs. He takes pleasure in disrupting my life.”
“You’ve got a lot of nerve. How many lives have you destroyed?”
“Mr. Cape,” Miranda interjected, “I don’t know how long you’ve been here, but let me assure you that I am a legitimate businesswoman--”
“Oh, shut up!” Vince snapped. He might not have understood what the hell the formula was for, but the gist was clear enough: Fleming was up to no good. Nothing new there.
“See here. You cannot seriously think that you can barge in here and interrupt while I am conducting business on behalf of ARK Corporation--”
“I see; you’re here on ARK’s behalf. Did you mention biochemical weapons in the company mission statement?”
“You’ve never worked in Public Relations, have you, Cape?”
Vince couldn’t take the arrogant smirk on Fleming’s face anymore. He socked the billionaire right on the jaw. Then, when Fleming staggered back, he threw him into the cabinet against the wall--the cabinet that Miranda had left open and unlocked. Perfume bottles smashed open, spilling their contents onto the billionaire. He spluttered as some of the liquid got into his mouth.
“You idiot!” Miranda shrieked. “Look what you’ve done!” At least none of the Revenge had gotten on her. Still, a good portion of her supply was ruined and she could probably forget about landing a contract with ARK. Fleming was getting to his feet. He was coughing and had obviously swallowed some of it. Oh, this couldn’t be good. Miranda ran for the exit. To her relief, The Cape didn’t try to stop her and she got away. Vince wasn’t so fortunate.
“Do you have any idea what you’ve just done?” Peter asked. His heart was pounding.
“Let me guess, I poisoned you? Don’t see what the big deal is, you’ve poisoned me--”
Fleming, who was seeing red by this point, grabbed one of the perfume bottles that had not smashed and sprayed The Cape right in the face. Vince waived a gloved hand in front of his face and wrinkled his nose at the smell.
“Ugh, what the hell is that stuff?” His eyes locked with Fleming’s; then they drifted down to the bastard’s lips.
(Two days later)
Vince opened his eyes a fraction. He felt groggy. What the hell happened? The last thing he remembered, he was in a laboratory, fighting Fleming… When did he make it back to the hideout? Actually, this didn’t feel like the bed in his hideout. He shifted. Oh, god! What was wrong with his behind?
“I see you’re awake, Faraday.”
Vince’s eyes snapped open and he sat up. Peter Fleming was standing a few feet away from the bed, wearing a bathrobe. Vince was in Fleming’s bed and he wasn’t wearing the cape or his mask or… Shit! Was he wearing anything? Oh, no. No, no, no. His secret identity was blown and he was in a vulnerable position with the man that made his life a living hell.
“What the hell happened?” Vince demanded.
“I could show you the security footage, but I suspect you’d lose the contents of your stomach,” Peter drawled. He did not want Faraday’s vomit all over his penthouse.
“What are you talking about?”
“Thanks to your ‘brilliant heroics,’ we were both drugged with a substance that can cause even the most sophisticated man to behave worse than a hormonal teenager.”
“I’m really not in the mood for gibberish,” Vince said. Where the hell was his costume?
“Fine, I’ll get straight to the point, Cape. During the drug-induced state, which was entirely your fault, we shagged.”
Vince blinked. It took a moment for him to try to figure out the British term. When he did, he understood why Fleming expected him to puke. He raised a hand to his mouth, just in case. If Chess was serious then…
What do you know? Fleming is literally a pain in the ass.
Chapter 2: Just Another Regret
As the wave of nausea passed, Vince lowered his hands. The light glinted off of something, catching his eye. Turned out, he was wearing something after all. On the ring finger of his left hand was a wedding band. Vince stared at it in confusion. It wasn’t the wedding band from his marriage to Dana. Fleming noticed what Vince was staring at and cleared his throat.
“Ah, yes. We do have a bit of a situation here.”
“What else happened during the drug-induced state, Fleming?”
“I was coming to that. It appears that we ran off to Ochun--”
“No,” Vince made a strangled noise. The city of Ochun was Franklin’s version of Las Vegas and very popular among couples that wanted to elope. There was virtually no waiting period for a marriage license.
“Yes, actually,” Peter replied, as he tossed Vince a copy of the Herald. Screaming at Vince from the front page was the headline: “I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU HUSBAND AND CHESS: ARK CEO ELOPES WITH FUGITIVE.” Vince looked between the tabloid and the matching ring on Fleming’s hand in horror.
“We’re married,” Peter stated.
“No, we’re not,” Vince declared adamantly.
“Well, there’s a marriage license signed by Vincent Faraday that says otherwise. Hence the press’ field day. I think you are now officially back from the dead.”
“Shit! At least it isn’t legal.”
“Now Faraday, you know that same-sex marriages have been legal in the State of Franklin since--”
“That’s not the point! I’m already married to Dana. Bigamy is very much illegal. Therefore, I couldn’t possibly be married to you.” And thank God for that. The very idea of being married to the scum of the Earth--
“We’ll see about that. At any rate, I should be the one complaining. I didn’t get you to sign a prenuptial agreement,” Fleming smiled.
“That is so not funny. This is completely null and void,” Vince said as he pulled off the wedding band and flung it at Fleming. The billionaire caught it easily.
“I don’t even think it needs to be annulled,” Vince continued, “I think I remember Dana saying something about bigamous--oh God! Dana!”
“Yes, your wife has left several messages for you. I gather that she’s not particularly pleased about you faking your death and resurfacing to marry a member of your gender.”
“Just kill me now!”
“Tempting, but no. Incidentally, there have also been a number of messages from your stepdaughter--”
“I don’t have a stepdaughter,” Vince interrupted him.
“Fine, then. My daughter, who I’m sure is even less happy about the prospect of you being her stepfather than you are, has left a number of messages and I believe she’s on her way here.”
“You have a daughter?”
“There’s no need for you to sound so skeptical about it. Like you, I am also attracted to women and my previous union resulted in the birth of a baby girl.”
“This is the first time I’ve heard about this.”
“The first time that you remember hearing about this,” Peter said cryptically. “But, yes, we had a falling out years ago. It was only recently brought to my attention that Jamie has been living here in Palm City, right underneath my nose. Given the strained nature of our relationship, I was going to let her believe that I hadn’t discovered her secret. I was hoping that in her own time, she’d choose to come to me. Apparently, she feels that recent events have forced her hand.
“The security footage shows that she came here, trying to talk you out of tying the knot with me, no doubt and… Let’s just say I have yet another thing to apologize to her for.” Throwing her out of his penthouse was probably not the best way to get into his daughter’s good graces. Peter checked his watch. She might be delayed by the mob of reporters outside the building.
“You might want to get dressed before she gets here, Faraday. She wouldn’t want to be reminded of what the two of us got up to last night any more than you would.”
“Ugh! Just tell me where my costume is so I can leave!”
“Wouldn’t do you any good. You’d have to face Jamie sooner or later. We might as well face her together. There are some clothes in the dresser in your size. It would seem that on top of everything else, we found time to go shopping over the past 48 hours, although how we managed without you getting arrested is beyond me. We’re going to have to talk about what we’re going to tell the press-- Don’t tell me that you’re shy, Faraday. There’s nothing I haven’t seen already,” he reminded Vince when the latter proved reluctant to get out from under the sheets.
Vince shuddered as he got up and started rummaging through the dresser. As he pulled on clothes that he most certainly would not have spent his sergeant’s salary on, he spoke up.
“What do you mean, ‘what we’re going to tell the press’?”
“Well, the public still believes that you are Chess, which leaves us in the ironic situation where they now believe that I am married to Chess.”
“That is ironic. I’ll be happy to explain that you’re Chess.”
“Which would then leave you in the position of having to explain why you married Chess.”
“WE’RE NOT MARRIED!”
“Careful, now. If that’s the case, I’ll have no reason not to turn you over to my officers. I can probably convince everyone that, after discovering you were alive, I lured you into an elaborate trap in order to bring you to justice.
“If this wasn’t me we were talking about, I expect the police would have already secured a warrant for your arrest and another warrant to come into my home to effectuate the arrest.”
A knock sounded at the door as Fleming finished speaking and Vince half-expected an announcement that it was the police.
“That’ll be Jamie,” Peter said as he went to greet his daughter, Vince following behind him. “Hello sweethear--” The young woman slapped him across the cheek.
“Save it, Dad. I can’t believe what you’ve done. It’s low, even for you.”
“What I’ve done? You know that I was drugged--”
“Hi, Vince. We need to talk.”
“Okay, I’m going to be blunt here. The thought of you with my father makes me sick.”
“How do you think I feel? Maybe I could hypnotize him into forgetting what we did.”
“You’d have to hypnotize the entire city into forgetting you’re still alive,” Orwell pointed out.
“And you might as well know that I can’t be hypnotized.”
“Dad, do you mind? I want to talk to Vince al--alone. What do you mean you can’t be hypnotized?”
“Yes, I remember what happened last week. Does that really matter now?”
“I… guess not. Give us a minute, okay?” She waited until her father left the room before continuing.
“I had no idea that you were attracted to him…”
“Whoa! Hang on, back up! Who said I was attracted to him? He disgusts me. If it wasn’t for that damn perfume--”
“Vince, you don’t understand what the perfume does, do you? Miranda said it was made from pheromones. Vince, Revenge doesn’t create an artificial attraction. It can only work if the subject is already attracted to the other person.
“Don’t you see? You ran off with Chess because deep down you’re attracted to him. And apparently, dad feels the same way about you.”
“Don’t let it go to your head, Faraday. I was attracted to Tracey too,” Peter called out.
“Dad! QUIT EAVESDROPPING!”
“There has to be some mistake. The only feelings I have towards him are hate and disgust…”
“Vince, do you realize that you nearly got yourself killed trying to protect him from Dice? It takes time to learn the high wire act. Everyone in the Carnival was positive you were going to fall to your death. I shouldn’t have put you in that position; it was too dangerous. But you weren’t just doing it for me. I understand that now.”
Dana Faraday had felt guilty about going on her first date since her husband’s death. After all, Vince had been gone for less than a year. Even though she was back home before Trip’s bedtime, she had had trouble falling asleep, wondering if she had somehow betrayed Vince.
Then morning came and with it, the news that her husband was, in fact, still alive and instead of coming home to her and Trip, he had been walking down the aisle with Peter Fleming.
The last of her guilt evaporated.
First, I’d like to thank IronAmerica for serving as beta reader!
Second: according to Santeria, “Ochun” is the goddess of love. :)
What did you think?
“Okay, in hindsight, walking the tightrope between those two buildings was probably not the smartest thing to do,” Vince conceded. “Nevertheless, I wasn’t doing it for him! I was doing it because… of what you said. Uh, if he dies, my name can’t be cleared.”
“But if you died saving him, your name still wouldn’t have been cleared. Not to mention the fact you wouldn’t be able to go home if you were dead. I know it’s difficult for you to accept, but the fact is--”
“Sorry to interrupt,” Peter strolled into the room, “but Dana Faraday called again. She wants to speak with you.”
“Tell her I’ll meet her--”
“You’ll meet her in one of the tower’s offices. I’ll have it ready for you. You’re not leaving this building until we sort out our cover story.”
“Did you forget who you’re talking to? I’m the Cape. I can disappear anytime I want.”
“And yet, you’re still here. Go talk to your wife; I’ll work on our cover.”
“Here’s a crazy idea: how about we go with the truth?”
“You won’t make it as a comedian. Don’t quit your day job. Oh, that’s right. You no longer have a job at ARK Corporation. Now, if I don’t decide to turn you over to my men, I’ll have to announce that you aren’t Chess. We’ll have to pin this on someone else.”
“YOU CAN’T DO THAT!” Vince cried. He couldn’t let Fleming frame another innocent man.
“I can if I have to.”
Pity there’s no way the public would buy Raoul was me. He’s already rotting in prison anyway… We’ll think of something.
“So, you’ll help me with the annulment or does it even need to be annulled?”
“Didn’t you tell me once about not needing an annulment in a case like this?” Dana sighed.
“A bigamous marriage is void as opposed to voidable--” Great, legalese, Vince thought. Void had to be a good thing though, right?
“So that’s it then!”
“Unfortunately for you, there is a legal presumption that the more recent marriage is valid. The first spouse, that would be me, would have to rebut that presumption by proving that your marriage to me never ended.”
“Really? Well, that sounds backwards, but that shouldn’t be a problem.”
“Vince, you need to find yourself another lawyer,” Dana said, her face so expressionless it might have been carved from stone.
“What are you talking about?”
“I can’t represent you. There might be a conflict of interest.”
“I might file for divorce.”
“I certainly have grounds to, Vince. Besides irreconcilable differences, there’s abandonment--”
“That’s bull! I was gone for less than a year!” And if you weren’t caught, how long would you have been gone? Dana wondered. She would never know now and neither would he.
“And there’s adultery,” she continued. Vince winced.
“That’s…you don’t…I never said,” he babbled.
“I think that says it all, actually.”
“You would put down in court papers that me and Fleming…”
“I think that everyone in Palm City assumes you did.”
“Crap. Dana, please, don’t do this! I love you.”
“That just adds insult to injury. I believe you, Vince, but you have a funny way of showing it. You let me believe you were dead. You left me and our son. And the only reason you’re here with me now is because the press got wind about your trip to Ochun with Fleming. You’re not even talking to me husband-to-wife. You want to talk to me client-to-lawyer. I can’t be that lawyer for you, Vince.
“While you were drugged, I went out on a date. Did you know that, Vince? I thought my husband was dead and I was trying to move on with my life. And you know what? For the few moments that I wasn’t being consumed by guilt, I was having a good time.
“I love you, Vince. But I’m not ready to work on a marriage that you walked away from,” she dried a tear. “Look on the bright side,” she said, cracking a watery smile, “if I do file for divorce, I’m sure Fleming will get you the best divorce attorney money can buy.”
“Screw him and his money!”
“Now, now. Just remember that if we get divorced, there’s no way you’re getting spousal maintenance from me. Not when you’re married to the richest guy in the state.”
“How can you even joke about this?”
“Sorry. Vince, I read Orwell’s blog. She wrote about this drug called ‘Revenge,’ about how it works. Now you’re telling me that you were drugged when you were running away with Fleming. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that you were high on Revenge and that means that you…” she trailed off.
“You’re the one I’m attracted to, Dana.”
“Oh, honey. The problem is you’re attracted to both of us.” Dana stood to leave.
“Wait! How is Trip?”
“He’s suspended. Travis is watching him.”
“In retrospect, I probably should have known better than to send him into school right after the news broke. It didn’t take long for him to get into a fight. Physically, he’s fine. The other students…not so much. Were you teaching him to fight?”
“I told him not to fight.” Dana noticed that didn’t exactly answer her question, but let it pass.
“So he’s not listening to you, either. I’ve told him to take a break from Facebook. I doubt he’d have many real friends on there now.”
“I want to see him.”
“I don’t think that’s a good idea right now.”
“You’re not his favorite person in the world at the moment, you know? First, you let him think you were dead--”
“Actually, I…got word to him that I was still alive.”
“I see. You couldn’t be bothered to get word to me, though. Why would I count? I’m just your wife.”
“Dana, it wasn’t like that! I wanted to tell you I was alive. It was just too dangerous for you to know that.”
“Let me get this straight: you’re saying it was too dangerous to know you were alive, so you went ahead and told our ten-year-old son?”
“Well, when you put it like that…”
“What do you think you’re doing?” Orwell demanded.
“Trying to get a hold of Miranda so I can order a new batch of Revenge,” Peter replied without looking up.
You were supposed to be trying to find a new scapegoat. Damn, can’t use Miranda. She was in prison while I was making a name for myself.
“You can’t do that!”
“I can. I just have to track her down first. Apparently the mishap scared her away.”
“Dad! You can’t manipulate people’s feelings!”
“As I understand it, Revenge doesn’t actually manipulate feelings--”
I hate to point this out, Peter, but you could probably achieve the same results with alcohol.
“You know what I mean! Listen, whatever’s bothering you, Revenge isn’t the answer. I’m surprised you would even want more of the stuff after what it did to you…oh. Oh, Dad. What you’re feeling for him, it’s just lust. It’ll pass.”
“No. What I felt for Dice was just lust. This… I haven’t felt like this about anyone since your mother.”
“So I should expect Vince to wind up in the river.”
“I did not kill your mother.”
“But you didn’t save her.”
“You’re right. I didn’t. Fortunately, Faraday doesn’t need saving. I know. I’m fully aware of how absurd it is. The idea that Chess could… fall in love and with the Cape, of all people…”
“Dad, you’re not in love with him. You’re confused because of the perfume, that’s all. I’ve been confused too, even without being subjected to some pheromone laced--”
“I know about your feelings for him, Jamie. I saw the proof of that last week, didn’t I?”
“No, that wasn’t me.” It was the Jamie Fleming of another universe that had married Vince Faraday.
“It could have been, though. Thank heaven we weren’t stuck there! How would I have explained sleeping with my son-in-law?”
“My apologies. Anyhow, I won’t tell him about your…confusion if you don’t want me to.
“Look, I’m not trying to steal him from you or from Mrs. Faraday. I didn’t ask to feel this way! I don’t want to feel this way-- whatever this is-- not about him. But I’d be lying to myself if I blamed it on the perfume. And you might say I promised not to keep any more secrets from myself.”
You wouldn’t have been able to keep this from me, Peter. Although, I do wish you’d have kept this to yourself. Falling for the Cape, of all people? Alright, shagging him was one thing, but I should be disposing of a body right now.
Peter clenched his jaw. Chess was not going to kill Vince.
Vince now, is it? I suppose he wouldn’t be as much fun dead, but you get my point. You’re handling this poorly. If you’d just let me take over…
This chapter beta’d by IronAmerica. :)
Is there anyone reading this story that has not read “In-Laws”? There are references to that story here, as this is technically the sequel to that fic.
Well, go on. I’m not psychic. What did you think of the chapter?
Chapter 4: Perfectly Good At It
“Jamie, you must know who Vince’s friends are.”
“I might. Why?” Orwell asked, crossing her arms.
“Well, Faraday may be stuck here for awhile and I imagine that he’d appreciate it if he had company. Why don’t you invite one of his friends over?”
“What are you playing at, Dad?”
“Do I always have to be up to something?” Peter saw the look on his daughter’s face. “Fine; maybe I don’t want the Cape and Orwell poking around my business. Can you just keep him occupied for awhile?”
“You can’t seriously think I would help you with whatever you’re doing?”
“I am merely asking for some privacy. I realize that that word may not be a part of your vocabulary--”
“Jamie, you are in my home now. I am entitled to some personal space. You can leave if you like, but as your friend the Cape can’t…” Orwell sighed.
“If I leave you alone, you won’t go back to trying to find Miranda?”
“And you’re not trying to lure Vince’s friends into a trap?”
“Fine.” Orwell left her father’s study, pulled out her cell phone, and called Rollo.
Peter intercepted Dana before she could leave the building.
“Mrs. Faraday, I’d like to have a word with you.” He ushered her into a private meeting room.
“What do you want, Fleming?” Dana asked as she sat down.
“To make sure that we’re on the same page.”
“You went to elope with my husband. I highly doubt that we’d see eye to eye on anything.”
“Yes, about that. How did the meeting with Vince go? Did you threaten to divorce him?”
“As a matter of fact, I did.”
“Did you mean it?”
“Did I mean it?” Dana looked incredulously at Peter. “He left me and our son. He let me think he was dead and then he…and…you… Of course I meant it!”
“Good. I’d like you to go through with it.” Dana rolled her eyes.
“Sure, I’ll head right on over to the courthouse and file the papers.”
“That’s not quite what I had in mind. You’re an attorney, correct? May we discuss the terms of the divorce, or would you like to call a divorce lawyer first? Mind you, if you do, I’ll have to call in my own lawyers and I’d much prefer to settle this between the two of us.”
“You want me to discuss the terms of my divorce to Vince with you?”
“Without involving attorneys who would charge by the hour and drag this thing out, yes. Ideally, I’d like to have you signing the papers within the hour.”
“Mr. Fleming, you understand that going through a divorce takes time. You have to go through the courts and--”
“I can handle the courts. I think you’ll find I can speed up the process considerably.”
“What are you playing at?”
“The public doesn’t know what happened during the months we believed Vince to be dead. For all anyone knows, you and your husband secretly got divorced long before the trip to Ochun.”
“And if we weren’t married, Vince’s marriage to you would be perfectly legal. One question: Why should I help you take my husband away from me?”
“Perhaps because your marriage has already fallen apart; because right now, he’s a fugitive from justice, but I can change that. Spun the right way, presented to the public as my husband--people will feel for him, will bemoan the fact he was ever accused of being Chess. He’ll be more than a victim, he’ll be a hero.”
“Whereas otherwise, he’s just some poor schmuck that had an affair?”
“Look, am I going to have your cooperation in this matter or not?”
“Making the public outraged that Vince was wronged, that wouldn’t help you,” Dana said slowly. “It would just make your corporation look bad. This is about Vince, isn’t it? You were drugged when you ran off to get hitched, but you want this. You want to be married to him.” Fleming didn’t deny it, and Dana continued.
“But Vince doesn’t want this, does he? Otherwise, we’d be having this conversation with him…
“This isn’t just about public appearances. You’re worried that if your nuptials are invalidated, he’s not going to consent to renewing your vows.”
“Mrs. Faraday, I believe we’ve already established that you are divorcing your husband. We can either amicably resolve the terms now or I will see you in court. Do we understand each other?” Dana’s eyes narrowed.
“Good. Now, shall we start with child custody? I presume Vince is going to want to retain partial custody of your son. Would you be amenable to a joint custody arrangement?”
It took close to two hours, but at the end, they had hammered out the terms of a joint-custody agreement and a division of the property. (Peter couldn’t really see how Vince would object. While he was “dead,” Vince was left with none of his former possessions. This way, he would actually get back anything he considered important, at least, if Dana was to be believed.) They had spoken about spousal support (Peter had offered her a generous amount, but Dana graciously declined). Peter did, however, arrange to pay a substantial amount in child support for Trip. Once Dana was satisfied, she typed up and printed out the terms and signed them.
Peter snatched up the papers as soon as Dana put down the pen, eager to have a divorce judgment entered and back-dated.
“It’s been a pleasure doing business with you, Dana.” Peter smiled and had her escorted from the building. After quickly forging Vince’s signature, he called to a messenger. Handing him the papers, he instructed him, “Get these to Judge Preston. Tell her I want them dated July 1st, 2011. If she gives you an argument, call me immediately.”
“Rollo? What are you doing here?” Vince’s face erupted in a grin.
“Orwell gave me a call and said you were going to die of boredom without me.” Orwell rolled her eyes.
“I did not. I merely said you could use some moral support.”
“What are you doing here, anyway, Julia? Did Vince call you first?”
“Well I didn’t spend all of yesterday making jokes about him.”
“Wait, what is this? You’ve been making fun of me?” Vince asked.
“Everyone except Orwell and Raia, who seemed pretty bummed that you’re not on the market anymore. Hello, Vince, you’re like Mrs. Fleming now.”
“The hell I am!”
“Do you know how long it’s been since anyone at the Carnival has had this much fun? Actually, we were eating dinner when the news came on. Max had to do the Heimlich maneuver on Ruvi, he was laughing so hard, he started choking.”
“And Ruvi’s okay now?”
“If by okay, you mean he sounds as if he’s been exposed to laughing gas, then yes.”
“Max says you owe him a new bottle of snake wine, by the way. He dropped a bottle while cracking up.”
“So I’m a laughingstock.”
“Dude, you married Chess: What did you expect? I didn’t know you felt that way about him.”
“I do NOT--”
“They’ve been arguing like an old married couple,” Orwell volunteered.
“Excuse me; being at each other’s throats isn’t the same as flirting.”
“Have they been making goo-goo eyes at each other?”
“There haven’t been any goo-goo eyes!”
“That’s not what the security camera says.”
“Whose side are you on, anyway? I didn’t hear you tell Rollo about your relation to Fleming.”
“What relation to Fleming?”
“She’s his daughter. Rollo, meet Jamie Fleming.”
Ah, great. Just his luck that the hot chick would be Fleming’s daughter. On the other hand…
“So, Jamie, since Vince is your dad’s main squeeze, you want to go for coffee sometime?”
Saul Stoykova, Marty Voyt’s successor to the post of Palm City’s Chief of Police, was tempted to glower at Fleming.
“Would you run that by me again, sir?”
“It’s in your interests to cooperate with me, Stoykova. As you’ll recall, your last two predecessors were killed and Sergeant Faraday nearly met the same fate while he was running from my men. Go quietly; cop a plea instead of going to trial, and you won’t have to worry about having an unfortunate… accident.”
“And I’ll spend the rest of my years in prison for crimes you committed, if I don’t get the death penalty.”
“You won’t get the death penalty, I’ll see to that, as long as you agree not to talk.”
“How do you live with yourself?”
It’s not easy, Chess grumbled.
“That’s not your concern. Come now, don’t pout. You knew the risks you were taking when you were promoted within the company.”
Doesn’t anyone read the fine print around here?
“Your friend left so soon?” Peter asked Vince when he returned to the penthouse.
“Yeah, he said something about the thought of meeting you turned his stomach,” Vince replied. Actually, Rollo seemed afraid of what would happen if Fleming found him hitting on his daughter, but he didn’t need to know that.
“How did the meeting with Dana go?” Peter asked.
“Like you care. What’s got you in such a good mood all of a sudden?”
“I’ve got our story straightened out.”
“Translation: you’ve picked the next person you’re going to throw under a bus.” Peter shrugged. “You can’t do this, Fleming. I won’t let you!”
“First of all, unlike you, Mr. Can’t Take a Bribe to Save His Life, Stoykova’s hands are hardly clean.”
“But unlike you, he isn’t Chess.”
“He’s been complacent in a number of Chess’ crimes, including rounding up any witnesses to the events that unfolded the night you were framed. I’ve spoken to Stoykova, and he has wisely decided not to put up a fight.
“And before you start growling, you might consider the fact that once he’s been arrested, you will be free to leave.”
Vince considered this. Rollo had made a crack about him being stuck here in the tower like a princess in a goddamn fairy tale…
Once again, IronAmerica was the beta for this chapter.
Chapter 5: I Want To Be Your Obsession
“Incidentally, this was just faxed over from Judge Preston’s chambers. I suppose you’ll want to take a look at them.” Peter threw a handful of papers down in front of Vince.
“What is this?” Vince asked as he picked up the packet. As he started examining the document, his eyes grew wide. “Divorce papers?” Dana had already filed for divorce? That was impossible. When he spoke with her, she was only starting to consider the possibility. Wait, something wasn’t right. The first page said “Final Judgment of Divorce.” He flipped hurriedly to the last page. Dana had already signed the papers and next to Dana’s signature was--
“That’s not my signature!” Vince exclaimed.
“But a reasonable facsimile surely? I did try so hard to get it just right,” Peter smirked.
“YOU FORGED MY SIGNATURE?!!” A pity Vince wasn’t wearing the cape now. He badly wanted to wrap the fabric around Fleming’s neck and squeeze hard. As it was, he’d have to use his bare hands… Fleming was too fast for him, though, and threw up his arms to block Vince’s.
“What choice did I have, Vince?” Peter asked. His arms still blocking Vince’s, he backed the former police officer up against a wall. He then proceeded to give Vince much the same spiel he had used to convince Dana to sign the documents, minus the part about threatening her with a nasty, protracted divorce process.
“So you see,” he concluded, leaning in, his warm breath hitting Vince in the face, “I’m doing you a favor, really. The public will love you, as long as we appear to be in love.”
“Are you out of your mind?” Vince asked, finally pushing past the villain. He had begun to feel a bit claustrophobic. (Yep, claustrophobia would explain his heart rate speeding up.) “Don’t answer that; of course you are. There’s no way that’s going to happen.”
“I didn’t say that you could call me by my first name, Peter.”
“Well, you’d better get used to that for starters, dear, or we won’t be able to hold a decent press conference.”
“There won’t be a press conference.”
“There will be if you don’t want to stay under house arrest, you fool. Now pay attention. In case you haven’t noticed, the judgment has been back-dated. As far as the world is concerned, our marriage isn’t bigamous.”
“Just a sham.” Peter’s hands clenched into fists, but he let that slide.
“The point is, if you weren’t married to that counselor when we said ‘I do’—”
“Practicing revisionist history, are we, Fleming?”
“Is there any other kind?”
“MOM?!” Trip Faraday stared at the television set in horror. “MOM?!!”
“What is it, sweetie? Oh…” Dana trailed off. She didn’t know whether to turn the TV off or turn up the volume. The network was showing live coverage of a press conference Peter Fleming had called to show off his new husband, Vince Faraday. The two were currently arm-in-arm, and, wonder of wonders, smiling like two happy newlyweds.
Dana’s heart sank. She wanted to cry. Fleming had convinced her that divorcing Vince was the right thing to do, the way to help him. Indeed, Vince’s name had officially been cleared. An hour ago, Saul Stoykova, ARK’s latest chief of police, had turned himself in and confessed to being Chess and to framing Vince for his crimes. There was a split screen, showing Stoykova being led away in handcuffs on one side, before the network went back to concentrating on (Dana shuddered) the Flemings.
But as she and Trip were confronted with the image of marital bliss that was being put on for the cameras (at least, Dana assumed the men were just putting on a show for the cameras…) she’d be damned if she didn’t feel like she had just lost her husband all over again.
As for Trip, it had been bad enough for him to read the articles about his father running off to Ochun with the billionaire. Seeing this just might put the poor kid over the edge.
“Trip, maybe you should go to your room…”
“Mom, what’s going on? Dad can’t be married to Fleming, he’s married to you!” Just then, Fleming fielded a question from a reporter about Vince’s prior marriage and explained that Vince and Dana had gotten divorced during the summer. “Mom, why did he say that?”
“Trip, I, I was meaning to tell you. Your father and I have gotten divorced.”
“What? Why would you do that? And when? He said over the summer, but you thought Dad was dead then! You told me not to listen to the Cape when he said that Dad was still alive!”
“I know what I said. It’s just, it’s a little complicated.” Dana sighed. “Okay, I did think your father was dead then. But it’s in your father’s best interests for everyone to believe that we divorced months ago.”
“How could that be in his best interests?”
“You’re just going to have to trust me, Trip.”
“Why would dad have,” Trip paused, unable to say it.
“Why would he have married Fleming?” Dana finished for him. “I know it’s a shock for you. To tell you the truth, it’s a shock for me, too, but,” she gestured towards the screen, “they seem to be happy together.”
At this, Trip looked at her like she was insane. He resolutely refused to take another look at the supposedly happy couple. Since when was his father into guys, anyway? He had always thought his dad only had eyes for his mother…
“So, what’s going to happen now? Who am I going to live with?”
“Your father and I will have joint custody of you. So you’ll still live here with me, but you’ll be spending the weekends at ARK Tower with your father and,” Dana paused and swallowed, “your stepfather.”
Vince was pretty sure that if the press conference lasted for another five minutes, his face would be frozen in that stupid smile. Either that or he’d break down and kill Fleming in front of all those witnesses, which would be a shame, since his name had only just been cleared.
He nearly sighed with relief when Fleming started to call the conference to a close. Unfortunately, he was caught completely off his guard when the bastard pulled him close and pressed his lips to his. Apparently, Fleming had decided a kiss would make a good end to the conference.
As the flashes from the photographers’ cameras went off and his heart pounded with what could only be rage, Vince stifled the urge to force Fleming away. The CEO, on the other hand, had the nerve to seek access to the inside of Vince’s mouth. Vince stubbornly kept his lips closed. If the reporters noticed that Fleming’s new husband wasn’t kissing him back, that was their problem.
Change of plans: Instead of fleeing the tower as soon as the reporters had cleared out, he would murder Fleming first. If only he had done that in the first place…
In the meantime, a few miles away, the hero’s ex-wife shut the television set off, just before their son fainted.
Dominic Raoul wiped the tears from his eyes, but couldn’t wipe the grin from his face. The whole story about Chess marrying that cop was completely hilarious. He didn’t know what had caused it, but he certainly didn’t believe for a second that either man had gone into it willingly. The upstanding citizens of Palm City might be fooled by the dramatics on television, but Scales knew better. Fleming was simply playing to the cameras, and it was obvious poor Faraday was struggling not to slug the tosser for kissing him.
He’d needed something to brighten his time in Owl Island.
Meanwhile, Fleming had stabbed another comrade in the back, setting him up to take the blame for being Chess. With Stoykova doing hard time, Palm City would need another chief of police, who would be the fifth one to hold the position this year. It was beginning to look like the position was cursed.
Nah, couldn’t be. Chess was a wanker, but he didn’t have the power to cast curses…
The smuggler straightened up as he heard footsteps approaching. A guard called out to him.
“Scales, we’ve got a cell-mate for you.” Dominic’s eyes widened as Saul Stoykova, who had already changed into an orange jumpsuit, was pushed into the cell.
This day just kept getting more interesting.
Once all the reporters and photographers had left and the two were alone, Vince reared back a hammer fist, which caught Fleming right in the jaw.
“I suppose I should be grateful you held that in until now.”
“What the f--”
“Language, Vince,” Peter chided as he massaged his jaw.
“--did you think you were doing?” Faraday finished.
“Well, the reporters ate it up--”
“You have got to be kidding me!”
“They did, though. We have successfully reintroduced you into society as my husband. You are no longer believed to be Chess. All in all, I’d say mission accomplished.”
“That was your mission? That didn’t require a kiss, and for god’s sake, it didn’t require you using your tongue!”
“Trying to use my tongue,” Peter corrected, and then ducked as Faraday swung his fist again. “Alright, fine. So maybe I wanted to give you something to think about before you decided to flee the building and never look back.” Vince blinked.
“I already hated you, Fleming. You didn’t need to reinforce that.” The villain’s lip curled upwards.
“If I’m going to be stuck thinking about you, it’s only fair that I know you won’t be able to get me out of your head, Cape. At the very least, that stunt delayed your departure, did it not?” Faraday cursed and, after aiming one more glare at his husband, headed towards the exit.
“Aren’t you forgetting something, Cape?” Peter called out.
“You were gone from the penthouse for hours, Chess. Did you really think that between me and my friends we wouldn’t be able to find where you stashed my costume?” As he spoke, the vigilante produced the spider silk cloak, seemingly from thin air.
Told you that you weren’t giving him enough credit. Let him leave. He’ll be back, whether I like it or not.
“How can you be so sure?” Fleming murmured.
I have a knack for sensing these things. Just, for Christ’s sake, don’t start weeping like a girl. Considering we’re the same person, I’d like to keep a little dignity.
Thanks to IronAmerica, the beta, for the idea of Scales and Stoykova sharing a cell.
What did you think? Undoubtedly the guys had kissed while under the influence of Revenge, but this is the first time since they “woke up.” Possibly because of Sandrine Shaw’s lovely fic, “Revenge Is Best Served When You’re Not Drunk,” this felt like a milestone to me, so I hope I pulled it off well.
Chapter 6: What's The Problem, Baby?
“Hello. Fleming residence.”
“Mr. Fleming, may I speak to Vince?” Dana asked.
“I’m afraid my husband isn’t home at the moment. What can I do for you, Dana?” Peter heard the attorney sigh on the other end of the phone.
“I don’t know if Vince told you, but Trip was suspended from school.”
“Suspended for what?” Dana bit back the urge to say, ‘that’s none of your business.’ It was his business too, wasn’t it? Overnight, she’d gone from having to single-handedly shoulder the burden of raising Trip to sharing that responsibility with an ex-husband and the CEO that was gaga over him. That was going to take some getting used to.
“For fighting,” she finally replied. “I had a talk with him about it. Anyway, my boss, Travis, was watching him yesterday, but I can’t keep asking him to and I have to go in to work. I know it’s a weekday, but I was hoping Vince would watch him.” Peter chuckled (and hoped it didn’t sound like evil laughter).
“I’m sure he’d love to. Please, by all means, bring the boy over right away. I look forward to meeting my stepson.” There was a click as he hung up the phone.
So you admit I was right.
“He’s not back, yet,” Peter whispered.
But he will be, as soon as he realizes where his son is. Unless…
His eyes were drawn to the phone, wondering if the damn thing was bugged. Knowing Orwell’s tenacity, it probably was.
…Unless, of course, Jamie has anything to say about it.
For some unfathomable reason, his daughter questioned his parenting skills.
If by questioned you mean she doesn’t think we should be allowed within a ten-mile radius of children, then yeah, you said it. And as for unfathomable, I seem to recall you locking her in her room; that is, when she wasn’t at that all-girls boarding school you sent her to--
Fine, Chess made his point. He might have been a little overprotective.
Okay, a lot, but he had only wanted what was best for his ballerina… He’d have to try harder with the Faraday brat.
I believe trying too hard is what got you into trouble in the first place.
Yes, well, he would try to take things down a notch, then.
Their thoughts were interrupted by the arrival of Trip and his mother.
“Okay, Fleming, he has got everything that he will need for a few days. I’ve told him to be on his best behavior--”
“Mom!” Trip groaned. Dana ruffled his hair and gave him a quick peck on the cheek.
“Love you, honey.” Dana turned to Peter. “Thanks again.” Her eyes swept around the living room. “Vince isn’t back, yet?”
“Not just yet. Truthfully, he went for a bit of fresh air. I think he was getting a bit of cabin fever after hiding from the press for so long. Don’t worry. I expect he will come home soon.” Dana nodded distractedly.
“Right, well. I’ve got to run. I’m due in court in an hour. Bye!” After she left the penthouse, Peter crouched down to be closer to the boy’s eye-level.
“Hello, Mr. Fleming.”
“Now, now, I insist that you call me Peter. We are family, after all. You have no idea how glad I am to see you.”
That’s a good way to creep the boy out.
That wasn’t quite the effect he was going for.
Oh well. Peter walked over to the window and looked down. It was a bit difficult to tell from this height, but he thought he recognized his daughter’s Porsche parked down there. He turned towards the child.
“I think my daughter, Jamie-- your stepsister-- is downstairs. Have you ever wanted a sibling, Trip?”
Yeah, I’m sure he’s been dying to have a sister that’s about twice his age.
The ten-year-old had muttered something under his breath that Peter couldn’t make out over the sound of the voice in his head.
“What was that?”
“I told my parents I’d rather have a puppy.”
You could buy him a dog. Think it would tick off his parents? Wait, never mind. We’d probably get stuck with a canine trashing the penthouse.
Orwell cursed. She’d pulled into the parking lot just in time to see Dana drive away, without a kid in the vehicle. Damn it! She was too late; Vince’s ex must have already dropped Trip off with her father. She hit the dashboard in frustration. She knew she should have called Vince and sent him to intervene. The Cape might have gotten here faster. (Or maybe he wouldn’t have. She had gunned the engine and broken a couple of traffic laws getting here. After all, it wasn’t as if she was worried about being pulled over by one of her father’s men.)
She bit her lip. Should she call Vince now? He’d been so happy to have regained his freedom. This would just ruin his mood.
What could he do about it, anyway? Heck, what had he expected? Much as she hated to admit it, Trip was her stepbrother now, and that meant his stepson. And from what she gathered from the copy of the divorce papers she’d seen, the plan was for Trip to spend weekends with his father at the penthouse. Technically, Trip was home.
Pushing back flashbacks to her childhood, Orwell wondered how long it would be until Trip could be emancipated…
“Well, well, if it isn’t Chess’ queen,” Ruvi taunted, pulling open the curtains and letting sunlight enter the room. Vince, who had crashed at Trolley Park last night, suppressed a shudder as he imagined what would happen if Fleming ever heard that moniker. Now wide awake, he sat up in bed and rubbed the sleep from his eyes.
“Screw you, Ruvi,” he replied as he swung his legs over the bed and stood up.
“What’s the matter, Vince? Trouble in paradise already? You and Fleming have a lovers’ quarrel?”
“Ruvi, I swear to God--”
“Yeah, yeah. Don’t get your girly panties in a knot. Max sent me to tell you that your friend Julia’s been trying to reach you.”
“What did she say?”
“I’m sorry. Do I look like your secretary? The only reason I agreed to give you the message was because I thought it would be more fun to diss you to your face.” Ruvi dodged the pillow that Vince threw at his head, and then left the room, cackling.
The vigilante sighed. True, there wasn’t any love lost between him and Ruvi, but even Rollo had been taking shots at him. Was this how things would be from now on? Would they ever let him live this incident down? Perhaps it had been a mistake to come to the Carnival. He didn’t fit in here; he never had and since he could show his face in public again (well, not without feeling embarrassed, but at least without being shot at)… Maybe it was time to stop taking advantage of their hospitality.
Vince tried to call Orwell back, but only got her voicemail. He swung by the hideout to see if she was there or had left a message, but no such luck. There was no sign of the blogger, nor any clue as to why she had wanted to talk to him. He looked around his pad. He hadn’t been living under a rock, but alone, he found the place looked desolate and uninviting. He’d be glad to move out of there, now that he was no longer Public Enemy # 1.
He tried to catch Dana at home, but she wasn’t there. No one was. She must be at work, then. Maybe he could surprise her there…
Dana had just returned to her office after an arraignment. She took a look at her desk and sighed. Going through paperwork definitely wasn’t her favorite part of the job. If she could just spend a little more time in court… Hell, even the plea bargaining was better…
A secretary buzzed her.
“Mrs. Faraday, you have a visitor.” Dana asked that he be sent in, but wondered who it could be. After all, most of the office’s clients were behind bars (which was in no way a reflection on their abilities as lawyers). Her eyes went wide when the door opened.
“Vince? What are you doing here?” She shut the door behind him, and then stiffened as he hugged her.
“I thought I’d surprise you at work, Dana. Maybe that wasn’t such a good idea. You don’t seem happy to see me.”
“Vince, in case you’ve forgotten, we’re not married anymore.” His expression darkened.
“Yeah, I saw the papers. Tell me, did Fleming forge my signature in front of you?” Dana hung her head.
“Shit. No, he didn’t. I was afraid he might do something like that. Look, I know this is hard on you, but I really do believe it’s for the best. Fleming obviously cares about you…” Vince snorted.
“I’m sorry; did you forget who it was that ruined my life?” Dana blinked. Wasn’t that Stoykova’s fault, not Fleming’s?
“At any rate, I spoke with him and I saw the press conference the two of you had.” Vince winced.
“You saw that?”
“You have to know that kiss was all his doing. I would never--”
“You don’t have to explain yourself to me, Vince. I was just making an observation. He does have feelings for you.” She frowned as a thought struck her. “Seriously, why are you here? I thought you’d be watching Trip by now with--”
“Wait, what do you mean? Where is Trip?”
“Didn’t Fleming tell you?”
“Tell me what? I haven’t heard from the bastard all day.”
“Well, you remember me telling you that Trip was suspended?”
“I thought you and…Peter…would watch him for me. I dropped him off at the penthouse this morning.”
“You left our son with Peter? Oh god! Dana you have no idea what you’ve done!”
“What? What did I do? You just told me a minute ago that you’ve seen the papers. So you know that Trip is supposed to spend his weekends with you two at ARK.”
A sensation akin to Rollo punching him in the gut settled over him. Oh lord. He’d only briefly skimmed through the section entitled “Custody.” The ramifications hadn’t hit him until now. Shit!
“Dana, he can’t. This marriage is a joke. You have to know I’m leaving him. Dana?”
“I don’t think you’d gain anything from leaving him. Don’t you see? He can protect you, Vince! He’s already been restoring your reputation. If you left him, where would you go? Where would you take Trip on the weekends?”
Vince closed his eyes. He had wanted to go back to Dana; wanted her to tell him she’d take him back. He realized that wasn’t going to happen. She had accepted that their marriage was a thing of the past. Now he would have to, too.
He still hadn’t answered her question. Where would he take Trip? He couldn’t take Trip back to the hideout. He was still the Cape and his secret identity would be blown in two seconds flat if he took his son there. (The irony of the cape complicating his father-son relationship when he had donned the damn cloak in order to get closer to his son didn’t escape him.) He opened his eyes.
“Well, maybe…” he trailed off.
“Honey, maybe you should give him a chance.”
Vince jerked his head and left her office without another word, afraid his eyes would water if he stayed another minute. On his way over to the building he knew he would never be able to call home, it dawned on him that Orwell had probably wanted to warn him of where Dana was taking his son. Guess he picked the wrong morning to sleep in.
Bursting into the penthouse, he yelled out.
“Fleming, I swear if you’ve touched a hair on my son’s head…!”
“That’s not exactly ‘Honey, I’m home,’ but I suppose it will have to do,” Peter drawled. “Welcome back, darling.”
Once again, this chapter beta-read by IronAmerica!
Previous chapter title taken from Sky Ferreira’s “Obsession.” This chapter’s title, of course, from Counting Crows’ “Accidentally in Love.”
So? Think Ruvi is a moron? Think my treatment of Vince is reprehensible? You know how to let me know.
Chapter 7: Gonna Give All My Secrets Away
To Vince’s astonishment, Fleming had not harmed Trip. He’d already had a guest room converted into a bedroom for the ten-year-old, who was dutifully studying when Vince checked in on him.
“I think you owe me an apology,” Fleming said, after Vince had seen for himself that his son was safe. Vince let the engineer know what he thought of that idea by using a rude hand gesture.
Inwardly, Chess pouted. He’d been hoping to get a greater reaction from the Cape. Being locked inside himself was so frustrating.
“Are you here to stay, then?” Peter asked. Vince glanced towards his son’s new room. He remembered his earlier conversation with Dana and the fact that he couldn’t go home again.
“Trip needs me,” he replied quietly. “For his sake, I’ll stay here as long as I have to. The instant I think you’ve put him in danger, I will take him far away from here and return just long enough to put an end to your miserable life.”
“Who said it was miserable?”
“You know, I’ve been thinking about that--you calling me by my surname. It occurs to me that, given our nuptials, you are also a Fleming now.”
“You have got to be kidding me. I’m not taking your name, you egotistical jackass.”
“But sweetheart, it’s traditional for the spouse to take the husband’s last name,” Peter ducked as Vince swung at him. “Whatever sort of an example are you going to set for your son if you’re fighting me in the next room?”
After night had fallen, and Trip was tucked into bed, the question of sleeping arrangements came up. Peter offered to share the master bedroom with Vince, who glared at him and opted to take the couch instead. This arrangement continued for a few nights until after Trip went back to Dana’s.
Vince interrupted Peter while he was working in his office.
“I’m tired of sleeping on the couch.” Actually, if he was going to be truthful, Fleming’s couch was a significant step up from the mattress he had at his hideout. It was, perhaps, on par with the bed he had shared with Dana. That wasn’t the point. There was a principle at stake, here.
“As I’ve told you before, you’re welcome to join me in bed. Oh don’t look at me like that! I meant for sleeping. I wouldn’t dream of forcing you against your will.” He couldn’t speak for Chess, though. As far as he knew, the murderer had never raped anyone, but Peter didn’t trust him.
You know, I’m really hurt that you don’t trust me, Peter.
He’d just have to keep the psychopath from getting control.
If you think I’m such a threat to our husband, why haven’t you warned him about me?
Faraday was already well aware that he was Chess, what other warning did he need?
No. He didn’t need to know that Chess was actually a separate personality. What would that accomplish? Drive him away that much faster? Allow him to seek an annulment on the grounds that his spouse was incurably mentally ill? (Peter had had quite a long chat with his lawyers the first opportunity he had after waking up with Faraday that morning.)
You’re too scared to tell him the truth.
“Are you even listening to me?” Vince demanded. Apparently Peter had missed out on a rant. “I said that you’re going to sleep on the couch tonight.”
“I’m not. I’ve been sleeping on the couch for several nights and I think we should take turns.”
“That’s completely ridiculous. Look, Trip’s at Dana’s. If you don’t want to sleep on the couch tonight, you can stay in his room--”
“Or, you can stay with me in my bed, but you are not kicking me out of my own bedroom.”
“Why not? You know, I still haven’t forgiven you for that stunt you pulled in front of the cameras the other day.”
“As I recall, I kissed you and you socked me on the jaw afterwards. If anything, I should be angry at you.”
Yes, get angry!
“But you’re not and you clearly don’t regret what you did. Maybe if you spend a couple of nights on the couch, you’ll learn your lesson.” THUD! The next thing Vince knew, Fleming’s body was pressing him against the wall, one hand wrapped around Vince’s throat.
“A word of advice, Faraday: You do not get to teach him a lesson.”
“Him? What, have you finally lost your mind, Fleming?” Vince asked, as he struggled against the elder man.
“I’m afraid Peter isn’t in right now,” Chess leered. “I have you to thank for that. He hasn’t allowed me to take over since he had me talk to our dearly-departed shrink.”
“What are you talking about?”
“You really did get through your career in the police force on your looks, didn’t you, Cape? Alright, I’ll spell it out for you in words that even your ten year old child would understand: Peter and I have a split personality.”
“Wait, if he’s Peter, then who are you?”
“The light bulb hasn’t gone off yet, dear? Or can you not recognize me without my contacts? I’m Chess, you fool.” The villain stood back and let Vince have some breathing room.
“I don’t understand. I thought--”
“You thought Peter was the mastermind behind all of my crimes?” Chess scoffed. “Don’t get me wrong, I care about Peter. In a way, I am part of Peter, but he doesn’t have what it takes to do the things I’ve done. He didn’t even have the bollocks to tell you about our condition. Finally getting the picture, are you? That’s right, Cape. Peter married you, but I’m the one who killed the chief. It was my plan to blow half the city with L-9 that you foiled. I’m the one who threatened your family, so you can stop blaming Peter already.”
“What happened to you?” Chess raised an eyebrow.
“Aside from getting saddled with you as a spouse? I’m afraid you’re going to have to be more specific.”
“I meant… Look, I’m not an expert in psychology, but last time I checked, something pretty traumatic has to occur in order for a split personality to develop. What happened to you and Peter?” Chess stared at him a moment before letting a humorless laugh escape.
“I’ll be damned. And here I was starting to think Peter’s love for you would remain unrequited.”
Vince’s knees buckled, and he sank down on the nearest chair.
“Yes, pathetic, isn’t it? Probably why he hasn’t told you. I don’t know if he intends to tell you, either, but he can’t hide his feelings from me. Peter’s gone and fallen in love with you, which shows there’s no accounting for people’s tastes,” Chess cocked his head to the side. “Incidentally, he won’t remember a word of this conversation, so you need not let on that you know.”
“You…” Vince began, and then stopped. This was a lot to digest.
“Oh, you’re not going to make a big deal out of it, are you?” Chess asked. “This can’t be the first time someone’s fallen in love with you. It’s not the first time Peter’s been in love, either.”
“Well, that’s good to know,” Vince choked out. “You didn’t answer my question, though.”
“True, but I thought you’d be too stupid to notice that. Alright, fine. It was years ago. Jamie was still little. Peter, as I said, is incapable of committing things of the nature that I prefer, but he’s no saint either. He was trying to get ARK Corporation off the ground and he used somewhat questionable means to accomplish his goal. I’m not going to tell you what they were, that’s not the point, so don’t ask.
“The point is that he made a few enemies while he was at it and… Well, why do you think I always threaten an opponent’s loved ones? I learned by what happened to Peter. Danielle, our wife—no, his wife, I should say—was taken from him. I first emerged to avenge her death. But Peter didn’t seem to appreciate that and he kept me locked away most of the time, until Jamie ran away.
“I don’t think she knew about me when she did. She still doesn’t know I’m a separate personality, incidentally, so you don’t have to accuse her of keeping it from you. When she left, she was a headstrong teenager. All she knew was that daddy was being an overprotective bastard, and too secretive for her tastes. And since her mother had been mysteriously missing for years, she was also worried that daddy might have done away with mommy. Not the makings for a good father-daughter relationship.”
“You never told her what happened to her mother?”
“Peter never let me out around Jamie. Seemed to be afraid I’d attack the only family he had left. He’ll be pissed as hell when he realizes he let me out around you, you know. He didn’t mean to, but you made him lose his temper and I took advantage of it.” Chess folded his arms before continuing.
“No, he never told Jamie what really happened. He blames himself, you see, so he was afraid Jamie would, too. And mind you, when Danielle died Jamie was just a little girl. Peter didn’t want to have to break it to her that her mum had passed away…” Chess trailed off. “You know, I usually don’t talk this much, even when I’m playing with my victims. If Peter’s feelings start making me go soft, I’ll hang myself, I swear. Let him deal with the touchy-feely nonsense.”
“So you’ve never been in love?” Vince asked.
“You know what I love? The terror my victims feel right before I… Sorry, forgot I was talking to the town’s superhero. The truth is that it’s just so damn good to have control of my body for a change. Maybe if you tell Peter that you spoke to me and I didn’t do anything cruel or unusual to you, he’ll let me out every now and then…”
“And I would want to encourage that why? Didn’t you tell me that you’re the sick, twisted homicidal part of him?”
“Those are not the words I used,” Chess frowned, “and I don’t like your tone. And if you need a reason, how about this for incentive: If you don’t cooperate with me, I will do something cruel and unusual to you.”
“You wouldn’t. You said Peter would be upset with you if he sees that you’ve hurt me--”
“Oh, but I don’t have to do something that will leave a physical mark on you,” Chess smiled. “In fact, I know just the thing!”
Vince bit his lip. Why the hell did he leave his cape all the way on the other side of the penthouse? He didn’t like the look in Chess’ eyes one bit.
“Vince, darling, you haven’t had the pleasure of watching the security footage from the time we spent under that delightful perfume’s influence.” Vince paled.
Oh hell no. NO!
The first thing Peter registered the next morning was that he had blacked out again. Since he didn’t have a hangover, that meant only one thing: He’d slipped and let Chess out. He cursed.
The second thing Peter noticed was that he was not on the couch, as Faraday had threatened, but rather on his bed, and the third was that he was not alone in the bed.
“Morning, you,” Vince said. “When were you planning on telling me that you have a split personality?”
“I wasn’t,” Peter said. “Faraday, he didn’t…he didn’t rape you, did he?”
“No, Peter, he didn’t.” Fleming breathed a sigh of relief, before he frowned in confusion.
“Why are we in the same bed, then?”
“Because Chess helped me to see you in a different light. And because I want to seduce my husband.”
“Okay, I didn’t hear you correctly. Either that or Chess managed to douse you with Revenge--”
“Nope, no drugs this time, I promise. Make love to me, Peter.”
This was going to be the end of the story, but thanks to IronAmerica, my beta, I have been persuaded that it should have an epilogue (may it not be too fluffy). IA also gets credit for helping me with ideas for this chapter.
What do you think? Too much Pence?
Chapter 8: Epilogue: Beyond Repentance
From that day forth, Vince wore his wedding ring, though he still snapped at anyone who dared call him Fleming. (Ruvi, sadly, did make the mistake of calling Vince “Chess’ queen” within Peter’s earshot. The billionaire thought it was amusing, but the former cop threw a fit that would have made Chess proud.)
They didn’t live happily ever after, which was perhaps for the best, since Chess was sure the boredom would have led him to thoughts of suicide.
Miranda eventually resurfaced in Gotham City with a new perfume business. If Fleming’s sudden marriage to Vince Faraday after he and Palm City’s hero had been doused with pheromones made her suspicious of the Cape’s secret identity, she kept her suspicions to herself. As far as Vince could tell, she had given up on marketing Revenge. If she ever tried again, well, that would be Batman’s problem. The Dark Knight was rather territorial.
It turned out that Dana had begun dating Jack Kirchner, one of her former law school professors at the University Of Franklin School Of Law, who had returned to private practice. It appeared they were getting serious, but Vince found himself feeling rather apathetic about the matter. For his part, Peter was so happy that Dana was moving on that he advised Kirchner that there would be a job for him in ARK’s legal department if ever he wanted it. If anyone was taking their relationship badly, it was Dana’s boss, Travis Hall, who appeared to be jealous.
One evening, a few months into Vince’s marriage to Fleming, Trip walked in and caught the two in a compromising position. The problem wasn’t that he’d caught them in the act--surely many a child had committed that unfortunate accident. No, the real problem was that at the time the men were wearing the masks of the Cape and Chess, and little else. Trip’s skin turned an interesting shade of green before he ran from the room.
As soon as Vince had thrown some clothes on, he hurried after his son. Grateful that Ruvi had taught him hypnotism, he put the boy in a trance and told him to forget what he’d seen. From that night on, they were careful about locking their bedroom door. Vince was pretty sure the hypnotism had worked, but was still worried that Trip was going to need serious therapy. Peter, on the other hand, grumbled something about not being able to trust shrinks and said the kid would be fine. He was more worried that the kid was beginning to suspect their secret identities… The idea that Trip might learn that his hero was literally sleeping with the enemy freaked Vince out something awful, but he tried to chalk it up to Fleming’s paranoia. After all, if Trip had any inkling of what was going on, he wouldn’t have been able to look the Cape in the eye anymore, right?
Orwell was growing closer to her stepbrother. Peter believed that she had begun seeing someone, but whoever it was, she didn’t want to introduce him to her father or stepfather. The young woman was pretty secretive for someone who believed that others weren’t entitled to keep secrets.
Vince never remembered how the topic came up, but during one of their conversations, he had told Peter about the time the Lich had kidnapped Jamie and poisoned her with his toxin. To Chess’ delight, this had the effect of freeing him (Peter was still wary of letting his other half take over). The next day, Owl Island guards found the gruesome remains of Chandler in his cell. The murder caused a scandal, which left Patrick Portman having to field questions about the prisons’ security. (For the first time, Peter was glad that Portman had kept him from taking over the prisons.)
The authorities were stumped as to what had happened, but to those in the know (i.e. Scales and Stoykova), the message was loud and clear: Chess was alive and well and woe to anyone that threatened one of the Flemings.
To Vince, it sent a message that the prisons could use greater security. Since he had been looking for a way to spend his days (and refused to accept a job offer from ARK), he applied for a job as a guard on Owl Island and was promptly hired.
Upon Chandler’s passing, ownership of the docks passed to the city. Peter wanted to put in another bid for them, but Jamie beat him to it and purchased the property with the dividends from her shares of ARK Corporation.
The two managed to go a year without discussing their feelings. Then, for their first anniversary, Peter presented Vince with a rare edition of The Cape comics in mint condition. There was really only one thing Faraday could say.
“I love you, too, Peter.”
Once again, this chapter beta’d by IronAmerica.
Sadly, this concludes “Blame It On the Perfume,” although IA did write a postscript in Chapter 2 of “Christmas Gifts.” Feel free and let me know which fic you want me to work on next.
So, too short? Not too fluffy, at least, right?