DISCLAIMER: I only borrowed them for a while. MGM and whoever can have them back whenever they want.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
DEDICATED: to my muse and my love.

Interlude 19: Bluffing

By Celievamp

We've been doing this every couple of months or so for six years now and I hope it never gets old. The light is dim, intimate, alcohol curls lazily through our systems. The CD changer is cycling between light jazz and new age, nothing too distracting, aural wallpaper. The atmosphere is tense as only a room full of people who are trained to kill with their bare hands can be with a (by our modest standards) substantial pot of money on the table. Jacob Carter folded early. Now I get the feeling that Selmac is indulging in her favourite pastime of people watching. Cassie, who has become a semi-regular since I deemed her old enough to join in poker night is watching her erstwhile grandfather watch everyone else. She folded early as well, reminding me not to bet all of her college fund.

Feretti and Daniel folded this round but are still sitting at the table. The Colonel has his best blank look on which means he's bluffing. He has something… but he can't challenge me. Sam is trying hard to look serene, but my love is at a distinct disadvantage here. She might be able to remember all the cards played and calculate the odds accordingly but she is unfortunately (for her, fortunate for the rest of us) incapable of bluffing in any believable way. Her face, her eyes are always the mirror of her emotions. She won't look at me no matter how hard I stare at her. I turn it up a little, smirk as her ears start to pink. Ah yes, definitely bluffing. She has three of a kind at best. No danger to my Full House: Kings over Eights.

Teal'c. He has that whole Buddha thing going again. Could be carved out of obsidian for all the expression he has. Daniel nudges him, points to something in his hand and starts to pontificate on the significance of the identities of the 'picture' cards. So Teal'c has Queens. Teal'c's lips curve into a smile and his fingers twitch slightly. Feretti takes pity on the Jaffa and pulls Daniel away, asking him something about one of the carved masks on the wall. Its one I picked up on my travels in Africa when I was with the CDC. Northern Zaire if I remember correctly. A hot zone in all senses of the word. Daniel's happily expounding to Feretti about its similarity to tribal masks found on P-something or other. We're all still getting used to him being back with us, astounded that he's still pretty much the same guy we knew. He claims not to remember much about his time amongst the Ascended but how much of that is true and how much is self-protection I don't know. That he's back with us, safe and well, is enough for me.

Decision time. I throw in ten, raise them another ten. Sam's expression tightens a little. She glances at me and I smile at her. She shakes her head in disgust as the Colonel matches my stake, turns to watch his II1C's obvious misery. There's a little over 150 dollars in the pot, enough to buy some engine parts she's been wanting for the bike she and Siler are rebuilding in one of the storage bays in the depths of the mountain. Her head drops, her eyes closing, the tiniest of pouts forming as she mentally waves bye bye to a new manifold or some such device. "Fold." Her cards hit the table.

Teal'c stares at his cards. He has to realize that since Daniel's indiscretion everyone around the table is aware that queens are involved in his hand. His position is significantly weakened. He was not First Prime to his supreme snakeness Apophis for nothing. "I also withdraw at this time," he said.

"Looks like its just you and me, doc," O'Neill grins at me. I ignore him, watch Sam. She's frowning slightly, obviously calculating in her head given what she knows about the disposition of the cards what our hands are most likely to be. She smiles but carefully does not look at me. She knows I have him but is careful not to repeat Daniel's indiscretion. I lose myself in her for a moment, awed as ever that this beauty is mine. There may be a new manifold in her future yet. It gives me great pleasure to spend my poker winnings on my love. A definite win win situation for me.

"Full House, Kings over Eights," I smile, laying out my hand. The smile on my love's face is now in full force. No need to bluff now.

"Darn… where the hell did ya get to be so good at this, doc?" Jack complains good naturedly, "I didn't know Texas Hold-em was on the curriculum at medical school."

"How do you think mom put herself through medical school?" Cassie grinned. I gathered in my winnings and started to count the notes. Cassie leant over my shoulder and a twenty disappeared. "Ryan's coming to collect me in about ten minutes, I'll pay you back, promise."

"Just be back at a reasonable hour," I laughed. She smiles, kisses me on the cheek and then goes to Sam for a hug and kiss, squealing as my love pulls her into her lap as if she's still twelve years old.

"So this Ryan is picking you up out front?" Jack O'Neill asks a little too casually.

"Yes – Uncle Jack don't you dare!" Cassie warns. The idea of all her uncles sizing up her boyfriend is too horrendous to contemplate. "Any of you." Her gaze includes Sam. She still remembers me telling her how Sam went 'dad' on Dominic when Cassie collapsed on her sixteenth birthday.

"It's okay, Carter already ran a background check on him," O'Neill grinned. "Can't be too careful."

Even I couldn't tell whether he was bluffing.

The End

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