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Broken Schemes

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          In a prison filled with criminals and murderers, there is a horrifyingly high rate of wrongful arrests and convictions. The all end up in D-Block for some reason or another. Maybe it’s because the one who controls the entire sector has a way with words. Most people – those on the outside – assume that the cell block has a hidden king. They’re wrong. 

          It has a clear queen.  

          Chloe Sullivan has been in prison for a long time. First it was just a minor offense, but then she "moved up" to bigger criminal works as Lionel struggled to keep her there. She became the Da Vinci Codebreaker, and then she got caught up in Lionel’s web of lies. The only way for him to get her out of the way was to put her behind bars. Everyone who lives under her reign knows the truth: if she didn’t want to be in D-Block, or in prison at all, she wouldn’t be. If she didn’t want to be caught, she wouldn’t have been.  

          No. Chloe Sullivan waits. She waits on her two princes who are due back at any moment and for her right-hand woman to deliver them right to her door. She has connections, and no one knows how she made them except those in her inner circle.  

          The clever blonde waits patiently in the mess hall, one leg crossed over the other as she sits on the table. Her cellmate is telling horror stories to the idiots from A-Block three tables over and Chloe waves when they look to her with horrified fascination. Tess has been a story-teller ever since Chloe can remember, and it took her a long time to pry the woman free of the leader of B-Block: Lex Luthor. They’ve been the best of friends since Chloe got her transfer papers through.  

          “All right, boys! Move it!” 

          Chloe perks up, sliding to her feet and grinning to herself as the only female prison guard around marches her two princes through the door. Lois shoots a look towards Chloe, a twinkle of mirth in her eye as she pushes Clark Queen forwards. He pretends to stumble, Oliver scowling at her as he helps his brother up. Lois is still firmly entrenched in their existence in the compound, and nothing bothers Lex more than not knowing how.  

          When they enter the room, the inmates go quiet at seeing Clark and Oliver back in prison orange. Tess gets up, sidling up to Chloe and snickering a bit. “I thought they were supposed to stay out of trouble.” 

          “They are exactly where they need to be. Don’t worry.” 

          Tess admires Chloe. She’s ruthlessly intelligent and yet somehow cheerful and cute. Anyone who messes with one of her boys or girls is soon taken down a peg. If she wants something to happen in the prison, it will. There is no ‘if’ they can do something with Sullivan at the reins.  

          Clark and Oliver rub their wrists as Lois removes their chains. “You behave now, boys. I wouldn’t want my nightstick to suddenly disappear when someone finds out you two have been bludgeoned to death.” 

          Oliver sends her a sloppy salute and scampers over to Chloe. She grins at him, sliding into his arms easily and pressing a quick kiss to his lips. Oliver squeezes her, picking her up off her feet for a moment before letting her go. Clark approaches, accepting his hug and greeting her with a friendly kiss on the cheek.  

          They’re about to debrief with her when someone starts clapping. “Wow. Give it up for these two, eh? Look at that. It hasn’t even been a month and you’re right back where you started. See, that’s the problem with being thugs. They’re stupid, and they get caught.” 

          The room goes silent and Chloe tilts her head in an inquiry towards Lex. “Oliver.” 

          Without a word, Oliver picks up Tess’s fork and hurls it at Lex. The utensil goes through his jumpsuit and pins him to the wall. Chloe approaches, stalking up to Lex with an air of danger around her. She yanks the fork free and Lex starts to pull away from the wall when she levels it under his throat.  

          “Listen here, Alexander,” she croons, leaning in close. “If I had wanted thugs, I’d have hired thugs. Maybe I’d have gotten a few of your friends to do the job instead, but I can count on my boys to come back to me. If you hurt them, or even so much as whisper their names with murder in mind, I will rip out your larynx and paint the walls with it.” 

          With careful hands, she straightens his jumpsuit, smiling at Lex as she backs away. Lex, fortunately, has no idea that she hasn't murdered anyone. His own goon squad, as Oliver likes to call it, doesn’t even come to his aid. Chloe stands proud, Oliver and Clark over either shoulder in both a silent threat and an oath of protection.  

          Tess waves at her half-brother, grinning as he slinks back towards his own cell block. “That was fun. You two should come back home to roost more often.” 

          Chloe turns around, pushing both Clark and Oliver out to the yard. There are some guys from C-Block around, but Chloe doesn’t seem to mind them. “So, how did it go?” 

          “Everything was perfect, Chlo. Just like you planned.” Clark answers, settling onto a bench to start lifting. He strips his sleeves, revealing the while tank that everyone sports under their orange garments. “The cops showed up right on time. Lionel’s security was tight, but we managed to use his satellites to send your coordinates to the intel.” 

          “And you got the message to AC to start everything up?” 

          Oliver nods. “We flew under the radar. It was seamless. Come Monday morning when the rain has gone and the sun breaks over the mountains, Lionel Luthor will find that he’s not as untouchable as he thinks.” 

          “How poetic.” Chloe muses. 

          Chloe sits down on the benches near the pullup bar, watching Oliver with unabashed eyes as he reveals his wonderful body. She knows that he knows she’s watching him, but he doesn’t seem to mind, grinning at her the whole time as he works up a sweat. Tess comes out to join her, Dinah on her arm as they chatter about the girls in B-Block who all seem infatuated with Lex. A little bit of gossip about the opposition never hurt on a stressful day.  

          Lois stalks the perimeter fence, trying to pretend that she’s not watching Clark at the bench. Chloe makes sure to shoot her a wink to let her know she’s not being subtle. As much as Tess pretends to be watching the eye candy, what she’s really doing is staring past Clark at the bench to watch Emil Hamilton reading across the yard. He’s always got a book in his hand. No one is quite sure what he’s in for, but Chloe has looked into him enough to know he’s another innocent.  

          With everything going according to plan, soon enough Lionel Luthor will be held up to the spotlight for the murderer he is, evidence brought to light through her careful digging. He may be king of the world outside the prison, but Chloe knows the ins and outs of the underworld better than the best criminals now.  

          She looks across the way to an A-Block inmate, smiling as she waves him over. Out of all of them, Carter Hall has been here the longest. He’d wanted Chloe to overlook him when building her secret profiles, but she was far too intuitive not to notice him trying to stay out of the limelight. Now, he’s a trusted member of the Innocent League. 

          Carter takes Clark’s bar with one hand, lofting it a bit for the younger man to catch. Clark isn’t fazed, catching it as if it weighs nothing. He can’t help the small bit of laughter that leaves him as he sits up. Oliver pulls himself up over the bar and jumps down behind Clark, coming to the defense of his brother as he and Carter start to play fight. 

          Hall shoves Oliver a little bit. “Careful, Artemis. You might hurt yourself.” 

          “Bite me, Tweety.” 

          Carter shoves Clark into his brother, effectively knocking them both over even though Clark easily could have stayed put. “Sorry. I think that might offend your wife.” 

          Oliver groans, picking himself up as Clark heaves his heavy form off the ground. Chloe smiles as Carter sits down next to Dinah and Tess, the pair of them still chattering.  

          Chloe is pleased for all of a few minutes before she sees Bart slink into the yard with a black eye that he’s trying to cover and blood on his jumpsuit. “Bart!” 

          The boy stumbles as one of Lex’s goons push him and Chloe has to remind herself to sit still. She knows he heals fast, and pretending he doesn’t is a way to protect him. Bart sits up on the table with Chloe when he reaches their group and the young woman cleans him up. 

          “Who did this to you?” 

          Bart wipes at the cut on his brow with his sleeve, shaking his head. “It’s not a big deal.” 

          “Bart.” Chloe answers glaringly, a warning in her tone. 

          “Just some guy, okay? He wanted me to give him my lunch and I didn’t so he--” He breaks off, wincing. 

          Chloe asks Oliver to hold Bart’s head steady while she works. “So, he beat the crap out of you. Where was this? Were you out stealing from peoples’ cells again?” 

          Bart chuckles nervously. “Maybe.” 

          The group converges on their young member, keeping a close watch on the surrounding people in warning to them. None of them know the truth about the inmates of D-Block, and it’s best for things to stay that way. Chloe has kept them safe thus far. 

          Clark wrestles with Oliver a bit, minding his strength in their mock battle. Oliver pins him down, trapping him with leverage more than physical strength. “Give up yet, little brother?” 


          Chloe watches as the attention of the guards is drawn, but they can hear the pair laughing where they are by the fence, so they let it go. Usually, they’d jump in to break it up, but they’ve gotten to know the group a lot better than to think they would cause trouble with each other. Carter breaks them up when they get a bit rougher than they need to, offering both a hand to get up.  

          As much as Chloe hated it when Carter butted heads with Oliver at first, the two have become friends over time. The still mock each other, but it’s far more light-hearted. Due to Clark’s brotherly influence, the two warmed up to each other nicely. 

          Carter rubs his knuckles into Bart’s skull and Tess’s laughter fill the yard. She has her orange sleeves dropped, enjoying a little sun on her back. As much as she hates being in prison orange, she gets a kick out of the fact that Lionel hated Lex enough to put him out of commission as well. As far as she's concerned, her half-brother deserves it.

          Carter sighs. “So, what’s the news, Codebreaker?” 

          Chloe snickers at the name, the moniker only having been granted to her because of Lionel. “We’re almost home free. I know you’ve still got half a life-sentence to go, but once we roast Lionel on a spit, you’ll get out. We all will.” 

          “I still have a hard time believing that the guy had enough pull to send a kid like Bart here.” 

          “If you really knew the man, none of the lengths he would go to would surprise you. Luckily for all of us, I’ve dug up the evidence of the evidence he planted. I’m good like that.” 

          Carter hums, watching Oliver and Clark play basketball over on the cement. Clark may be taller, but Oliver has the skills to beat him. “I never did ask, but what did Lionel get you three in here for?” 

          “I was framed for three serial murders because I found some papers that said he was skimping on construction in all of his new buildings. I wouldn’t drop it, and he couldn’t kill me without it being suspicious.” 

          “Why not have you killed in prison?” 

          Chloe smiles. “People liked me. I mean, you certainly did.” 

          “And those two idiots?” 

          “Well... you know Clark’s secret. That’s why no one could get to him, but he was with me, so it didn’t matter. Lionel had him set up to take the fall for a hit and run after a string of bank robberies. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and he had no alibi.” 

          Carter looks at Clark, the dark-haired man far too kind to do anything of the sort. How anyone believed it is beyond him, but he supposes Lionel had all the dominoes ready to tip in his favor. “And Oliver?” 

          “Brutally murdering his girlfriend. Poor girl didn’t even know anything and Lionel’s driver took a crowbar to her.” 

          “Again. People actually believed this? I mean, look at the guy. He doesn’t have a murderous bone in his body. He’s playing with his younger brother and making friends in every block.” 

          “Until AC lets the evidence hit the papers tomorrow from my anonymous servers, they will. There was a lot of speculation at first, and nobody could believe it. Lionel paid off a lot of newspapers to point out his two years on an island, his nightly habits and unexplained disappearances since his return. Not everyone was convinced, but it was enough. At the time, I really couldn’t protect him from in here while he was on the outside.” 

          With a shake of his head, he leans against the bench, watching the younger members of their group flit around the yard. Bart’s bruise is already fading, and he’s chatting with Emil since he seemed a little lonely. 

          “These cases... they’re flawless, Chloe. How could you ever get enough evidence to clear all our names? Lionel’s case against me has had me here since before you were born.” 

          She shoots him a cryptic smile. “Let’s call it luck. Besides that, it’s not like that makes a huge difference to you, oh ye who is immortal through death and is 3,000 years old.” 

          “True. That still doesn’t answer my question.” 

          Chloe waves to Oliver when he turns around to look for her. Clark makes a comment that Chloe can’t hear, but Oliver scowls at his brother. It must have been something about Oliver being a sap. 

          “I know where to look. I studied Lionel once I got onto the trail of wrongful convictions from the inside. Most of my research once I got going was conducted outside the prison.” 

          “How does that work for you anyway? You somehow get Oliver and Clark in and out of here without trouble and without so much as being on the news.” 

          “You know Warden Kent?” 

          Carter chuckles. “Oh, yeah. Nice guy, but you’ve gotta get on her good side the first time.” 

          “After Robert died, Clark was having some issues, so the Queens sent him out to spend time with the Kents. They were there for all of us in a pretty rough patch. Makes getting both of them out pretty easy when D-Block is set up with everyone she can trust.” 

          Lifting an inquisitive brow, Carter shifts a little more towards her. “And me?” 

          “Transferring you after this long would be fishy and it would be clear that there was favoritism instead of just a space issue. That, and D-Block and A-Block are both pretty much run by me. Even the real felons like me enough to pledge loyalty, so that’s nice.” 

          “You’re too cute for your own good.” 

          “Sometimes, I doubt cute has anything to do with it.” 

          Carter hums to himself more than her. “Whether it does or not makes no difference. You’ve worked hard for the truth, and soon we’ll be out. That’s all on you.” He remembers the shy girl who he first met at just over the age of 18. She was newly convicted, and before he’d even realized he’d done it, he had already appointed himself her protector. “I’m proud to call you an ally.” 

          “Only an ally?” 

          He grumbles a bit as she fishes around for touchy-feely words. “Fine. Being one of your friends is good too, even if you are married to that princess over there.” 

          Chloe watches Oliver spin around Clark to put the ball in the hoop, smirking a little as Clark uses his super-speed just a little bit to block him. The two argue for a moment before playing again.  

          “Don’t forget that the princess and his brother have been out and about collecting evidence mostly legally so that all of us who aren’t really killers can get out of here.” 

          “Sometimes I question why you don’t send Bart or even Dinah.” 

          “They’re showy. Clark and Oliver have been hiding in plain sight their entire lives. I know them a whole lot better, too.” 

          Chloe smiles on her group. She has other people working on the outside, but it’s the ones inside that she feels that she can call family. She can’t help but collect strays. Come Monday morning, just like Oliver said, they’ll be free.  

          She can’t wait.