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The Slav Defense

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She won.

She’s beaten Borgov. He gave her the black king. The game was hers. She did it and finally she felt like she found herself.

 

Beth is flying back home, still clad in her with queen attire and she finally feels at peace.

She won, she did it, she belong to the top of the chess-world, she was not an orphan anymore she has a team and a family, she finally found people who loved her for her, and maybe she learned to love herself too. No matter how shitty the hand the fate dealt her, no matter the bad choices she made; she burned and raised from her own ashes like a phoenix.

 

Still high on her win she fall asleep whit a smile on her face, replaying the match with Borgov in her mind, thinking about analyzing it with Benny, he called, after all, it has to mean something.

 

And then the plane begun to tremble.

 

Beth wakes up suddenly.

 

“There are severe turbulence, Miss Harmon” says Mr. Smith, her government handler “it’s better if you close your eyes”

 

-Close your eyes- Beth smiles with a strange sense of deja-vu - everything started that way, with Beth closing her eyes.

She found herself thinking about her eight years old self, that scrawny ugly kid who somehow found a way to the top of the world; how everything could have been different if only she wasn’t consumed by rage and loneliness, how could her life have played out if she realized that she wasn’t alone and that was a good thing, where she’d be now if they didn’t start her on “vitamins” when she was eight, maybe she could have spared herself a life of addiction or at last she could have learned some other coping mechanism.

 

She really wished she had known how everything would play out, how far in her life she’ll come and how she could do it without the pills and with this last thought she close her eyes and fall asleep again.

 

The next time she wake up Beth isn’t on a plane, she’s in a car, on the backside of a car she never forgot, there is a smell she never forgot sweat, smoke, leather and death.

 

She’s in the crashed  car with her dead mother and the car is still smoking.

 

Beth is paralyzed with shock, she’s numb, but somehow the survival instinct take hold and she start to get out from the car.

She’s in shock and her mind is numb and at the same time working faster than ever.

She look down and see her dress, the pale mint one with her name embroidered and feel the weight of her long braided hair, she start panicking.

Her throat starts tightening, she hyperventilates and her pulse skyrockets.

Her mind is telling her that somehow she is in her eight years old body and what if she’s really eight again?

She was alone, again.

She was an orphan, again.

What if she’s lost everything she know? All her chess knowledge? No! she worked too hard to finally beat Borgov, to becoming the best there is, to find herself, to find peace, how could everything disappear?

She start replaying the match with Borgov in her mind, slowly, to be sure that is still there, move after move and after that she start to recite all the opening and then replays every historical match she’s ever studied and every game she’s ever played with Benny.

The more she play the more her breath pattern normalize.

Meanwhile she’s been checked by paramedic and now is sitting in another car with an ugly woman who’s talking to her.

Beth is lost in her mind, going through the analysis of Luchenko vs. Tal when some of the woman’s world get to her

“You understand, dear, your mother's passed on? You know what that means, don't you? Passed on?
Well…I'm sure she's gone on to a better place, and, someday, you'll get to see her again”

that moment that she realize what the woman said Beth begins to cry, silently.

 

She has lost her mom, again, and for the first time since she remembers she’s mourning the loss of Alice Harmon. The last time ,when she was actually eight, she really didn’t understand enough to mourn her, but this time the grief is overwhelming and she can’t stop crying; wave after wave of tears she mourns her mother, Alice.

 

Alice was a math genius, a prodigy in her own right but she was also unstable and paranoid. Was she really mad or was she driven mad by the misogynistic oppressive academic world? Beth really stared to relate to her mother when she found herself in a man’s world and start being better than them all. However it was never enough, the press never could view her more the a little girl who played a man’s game and they were always asking about what she was wearing, when and who she was going to marry, when she was going to have a baby, she’s defeated Borgov for Christ sake!

She remembered that time at the lake, was she trying to drown herself? Or was she just escaping her loud mind? She kinda understood the living in the trailer in the middle of nowhere, she understood the loneliness of a life where no one understand you, she felt that way too until she met Benny.

So she cried, silently she cried, for her mother, for herself, for all the women out there fighting for the right to be better than the man in their chosen field; she cried for a woman she finally in some way understood, for a woman whose mind disconnected from reality because couldn’t live in it anymore, not even for her daughter.

 

The more she cried and connected with her departed mother the more a knot in her stomach eased up and the burning anger was slowly replaced by sadness.

 

Beth swears to herself to never succumb to her mind, but to do this she need friend and family and this time around she swear she’ll be better, she will appreciate them e she’ll be lucid and sober  and will ask for help when needed.

 

After a while Beth analytical mind takes over- if she was stuck here this was a second chance, the chessboard just resetted and she knows the outcome of all the moves she’s already made, there is no way she’ll make the same mistake twice, she is going to play differently; she is gonna live a better life, she is gonna keep the loved one closer, she is gonna put the chess world on fire, and she is gonna defeat Borgov again, and this time maybe Benny will be in Moscow with her.

 

The car stopped in front of the Methuen Home and Beth steeled herself, it was time to punch the clock and to go get to her Methuen family; she was ready and the game was on.

 

 

 

Author Note: first of all if you read all of that thank you kudos, comment and constructive criticism are really appreciated, that said, this is my first fanfic and English is not my mother tongue so I apologies for eventual error.

The work was inspired by the amazing  Giuoco Piano https://archiveofourown.org/works/27713695/chapters/67828777 I read the time travel trope and I needed my version of it.

This is gonna be a Beth/Benny fanfic just so you know,  and there will be angst mainly because  Beth is gonna work on all her issues, ambitious I know, but I promise you a Happy Ending.

let me know if it was worth the time spent reading

Kudos to all