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TR Fic "Stalemate"

So yeah, here goes nothing. My first and probably last attempt at fic. I just want you to know that I probably would do so much better if this was a 20 page paper about Modern European/American history than an attempt to delve into the minds of Maddy/Ops.

Post Season 5 Fic

This is inspired by the events of "Sleeping with the Enemy." Now, while I like to believe that Maddy/Ops had codewords and a plan that alerted her to the danger. For this story, I will take the opposing interpretation that she had no idea and figured things out on her own.

Disclaimer: I almost forgot  to add that I do not own LFN


Their afternoon chess game begins without much preamble. He is white and she is black. It is the only time in their lives that they ever are. Even now, when the concepts of weaknesses and evasiveness should be as foreign to them as the home that they inhabit on this dreadful little island where the temperature is just one shade of Fahrenheit too high for the optimum growing temperature for the plants in her garden, they remain unable to change who they are.


So they wait and play chess in a hell of their own making. Waiting for what, they are not really sure. Waiting for Nikita to fail? Madeline is convinced that intervention on their part is not necessary for that to happen; and still recovering from his own fall from the tower, Paul is willing to defer to her judgment. So they wait on an island that should be paradise but feels like hell.


Paul’s aggressive use of pawns and the way he uses his queen as a battering ram rather than the carefully shaped knife that she is does not surprise Madeline. They have been playing for years, decades, a lifetime. His moves are as familiar to her as her moves are to him. Yet, even with all that they know about each other, the outcome is never quite the same.


When she finally pins his queen to his king with her bishop essentially capturing his most important piece with a relatively unimportant piece of her own, he studies her face for a moment before picking up his king and laying it on its side, refusing to continue playing a game that he believes that he cannot win without the aid of his queen.


She is a little shocked at his decision to give up rather than to play the game out to its conclusion. She knows that probability is still on his side and that while she possesses his most important piece, he still has the positional advantage.


For two seconds, she contemplates asking him why he forfeited the match so easily before she decides to clear the board and move on to something else. In the first second, she worried that the answer he would have provided would have confirmed her suspicion that the Collective feared her enough to bring him back alive, but the Collective did not fear her enough to bring him back whole. In the second second, she dismissed her fear and decided to do what she has always done. She will fix him and he in turn will fix Sarah… Section. He will fix Section, she mentally corrects herself, annoyed that she still has these lapses.


As she reaches to grab his fallen king, he stops her, taking her hand within his own. He doesn’t say anything until she looks him in the eyes. “When did you decide to make that move?”


While the moves that led them to their current predicament should have been fairly obvious to him, she decides to humor him, “I was not actually planning on pinning your queen. Though I knew that it was a potential possibility, the probability for the event was quite low. I was actually after…”


“Not the game, Madeline. I want to know when you made the unilateral decision to fake your own death and leave me to run Section alone. That is all that I want to know.”


Ignoring his demand, she responds calmly, “Wouldn’t the more prudent question be, ‘why did I fake my death and let you believe that I was truly gone?’”


“I already have some insight into that question. Now, all I want to know, is when did you start believing that it was over for you at Section?”


“I would not call answers from a hologram designed by a woman under orders to seduce you, insight.”


“Yes, well, if you tell me when you decided to fake your own death, at what exact moment you started planning for your inevitable end, then I guess I will know why you decided to exit the way that you did, as well.”


For a moment, Madeline considers tipping her king on its side and telling him that she had started planning her death the moment she had walked back into Section after he broke the truce with Red Cell. Because at that moment, Paul had done what Adrian’s psychological profiles had deemed he was incapable of doing, he had chosen the mission over her. And if she was no longer his weakness, she could offer herself up as the sacrificial lamb that Center would want as retribution without worry of what her death would do to Paul. But she was wrong about that, he was wrong about that, Adrian was wrong about that, and they were all wrong about a lot of other things.   


She thinks about telling him about how they almost got out of their perpetual state of stalemate. When they are together, they are at their best and their worst; and when they are apart, they can barely function.


She thinks about telling him this; but on this island of limbo, nothing changes and no amount of confession will save them from who they are.




( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 12th, 2010 07:16 am (UTC)
Oh, wow. It's late, and I need to head to bed, so I'll keep this brief now and come back again later. But...I certainly hope this isn't your last attempt at fic, because this is brilliant! You're dead-on with these characters, and your writing style is lovely -- subtle, understated, but layered with meaning.

Apr. 12th, 2010 02:08 pm (UTC)
Aw, thank you for such a lovely comment! My day has now been made!

Writing this fic was a little daunting since I'm use to writing essays based on the premise of proving or disproving a thesis. So I worried that the writing would come off as rather technical.

Anyways, I am so glad that you liked it and who knows when the next plot bunny will run out of the forest of my mind.

Apr. 12th, 2010 03:59 pm (UTC)
I found this by way of jaybee65 pointing it out, and I'm so very glad that I did! This is a lovely, thoughtful fic and the style of writing does these two characters excellent service. Please, don't let it be your last attempt. Write many, many more.

I particularly liked the final line. I thought it was a very strong ending and much in tune with the characters and their relationship.

Again: more please?
Apr. 12th, 2010 08:33 pm (UTC)
Yay! I'm really glad that you liked the fic and thank you so much for such kind words about the story.

The prospect of trying to write Maddy/Ops was more than a little intimidating, but I might be foolish enough to try it again one day.

The fact that you liked the ending makes me very happy. The chess part was easy to write, but I struggled with the ending. Again, thank you so much for the feedback!
Apr. 12th, 2010 04:57 pm (UTC)
Nice! I really, really like the image of them playing chess--the metaphor works quite well. I'd love to see more from you in the future. ;)
Apr. 12th, 2010 08:38 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the great comment!

The chess part of the fic was my favorite part as well. Who knew that chess could be so awesome!

Apr. 12th, 2010 05:16 pm (UTC)
Such a lovely balance of vagueness and insight -- you leave us room to sit next to you as you lay out their relationship and its possibilities.

Please do come back and write more when you have a notion!
Apr. 12th, 2010 05:17 pm (UTC)
Forgot to suggest that you post this to one of the LFN lj groups, and/or to the storyboards, so that other denizens of that world can see it.
Apr. 12th, 2010 08:41 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for the wonderful feedback and the suggestion to post to one of lj groups! I may just have to do that.

Apr. 12th, 2010 09:51 pm (UTC)
I followed Jaybee's link here - what a great fic! I'm glad you wrote it, and decided to share!

I always prefer to think that they are still alive, someplace -- even though I know that this isn't the same as being happy. So, I'm glad to find another snapshot of what that might have been like.

I hope you keep writing, if you're called to it.

Apr. 13th, 2010 12:08 am (UTC)
Thank you so much for the lovely comment, and I'm really glad that you enjoyed the fic.

Yeah, I think that you are right. TR doesn't seem to lend itself to many happily ever afters. Which begs the question, why do I keep shipping such doomed ships?

Honestly, I need to do a post just about how many ships that I have supported only to watch them sink like the titanic.

Anyways, thank you so much for the comment!
Apr. 12th, 2010 11:06 pm (UTC)
I also followed jaybee's link - wonderful piece you have written here. I can see it happening in my mind, and you have the characters down pat. Just wonderful. It warms my little TR heart.
Apr. 13th, 2010 12:17 am (UTC)
Wow, I guess I really need to thank Jaybee for all the free publicity!

But first, let me thank you for the very nice comment that you left. It's always nice to know that you have kept the characters in character.

A little off topic, but I really liked your TR icon so I clicked on your userpics and I am totally in love with your Picard/Crusher icons. Picard/Crusher was my very first ship so I always have to suppress a squee! when I see P/C together.

Gosh, I had such an unhealthy obsession with P/C.

Okay, back on topic. Again, thank you for such a nice review.
Apr. 13th, 2010 12:56 am (UTC)
LOLOL! I love both P/C and TR. Great obsessions to have IMO. Feel free to grab some icons if you like. I have NFI where i got most of them!
Apr. 13th, 2010 05:00 am (UTC)
For the longest time, I was an HR (Hopeless Romantic.) I wanted Michael and Nikita to be together. And then I fell in with a pack of malcontents called the Twisted Romantics. They were all about Madeline and Operations. Took awhile, but I finally "got" it.

Having said that, I'll tell you right now that I hope you'll continue to write as it suits you, because you have a very unique style, and you've absolutely nailed the characters. Using chess as a sort of metaphor for their situation is pure genius.

I loved reading this. And in my opinion, Madeline is the most difficult character to write, because she's an enigma. Even her smile is unfathomable, which makes her a terrifying enemy, friend, ally, acquaintance...
When they are together, they are at their best and their worst; and when they are apart, they can barely function.
This sums it up perfectly.

Thank you for sharing this story!

Apr. 13th, 2010 07:22 am (UTC)
Aw, thank you for such a great comment!

If you don't mind me asking, what made you change your mind about TR? For me, I became a Madeline fangirl very early on and I saw the spark between her and Operations pretty soon after that so I was unable to put up much resistance to TR.

Anyways, I'm always so glad to hear that I captured the characters, because you always worry that you are writing them out of character. So thank you very much for that particular comment!

And you are right about Madeline being difficult to write because she is so difficult to get a firm grasp on.

(Deleted comment)
Apr. 18th, 2010 02:01 pm (UTC)
Re: Congrats
Thank you for such a nice comment.

Maddy/Ops are not my typical ship, but like you I just couldn't look away when they were on the screen together.

While I like chess for them because of the whole strategy factor, I like chess for them because there only a finite amount of pieces on the board and only a finite amount of moves that you can make with those pieces, yet, very rarely does a game look exactly the same to the one that preceded it.

But having said that, while Maddy/Ops may surprise each other occasionally, they are still playing chess, meaning that they may come up with new moves and make the game look different but they are still playing chess/still existing in the same paradigm that they have always been.

Okay, sorry to go so pseudo meta this early in the morning. Again, thank you for the comment.

( 18 comments — Leave a comment )