"It's my turn," Killian insists, pointing right at Magnus. "Lose the pants."
Living an adventurer's life on a secret moonbase has its ups ands downs -- "Waxes and wanes, my dude," Avi pontificates -- but fantasy strip poker is just as brutal to Magnus here as it ever was planetside. Magnus, who kept life-and-death secrets for the Rebellion without a moment's hesitation, can't hide his good or bad hands worth shit to save him from losing his shirt, vest, undershirt, left sock, and now pants in the name of anyone calling his bluff.
"Ah, ah! Lose 'em."
"It's cold in here--"
"This is a public service, Magnus. Literally no one is complaining," Killian says.
Merle pounds his flagon on the table. "I am!"
"Fine," Killian says, rolling her eyes. "Only Merle's complaining."
And this is true. Magnus stands up to unlace his trousers and almost everyone laughs when Johann plucks a slinky bass line out on his violin. Killian's wolf-whistle takes a little of the self-consciousness out of the equation (albeit none of the goosebumps), but in all this, well. Taako is unusually, suspiciously silent. The longer it goes the more unsettling it feels. Magnus glances over at him.
Taako is staring right at his crotch.
Magnus sits down so fast he jostles the table.
"Easy, easy, geez," Merle says, dealing out the next hand. "Panties in a twist?"
"They were clearly boxer-briefs," Killian says.
"Blue's a good color on you, Magnus."
"Oh, shut up," Magnus says, and picks up his cards. Instantly his face falls. Magnus looks up to see everyone looking at him. Except Taako. Taako downs his whole flagon in one go.
"Hit me, Avi," he says, wiggling the empty cup.
"Not too hard," Magnus stage-whispers. "He's delicate."
"Up the shut fuck," Taako says. He hiccups and it's the most idiosyncratically dainty thing Magnus has ever heard. "I've got eight scarves left and, like, twenty barrettes. Taako's bringing this one home."
"You wish," Carey says. "Merle?"
"Thirty to start," Merle announces.
Killian grins slow. "Raise you forty."
"Fold," Johann says, melancholy as usual.
"You sure, Magnus?" Taako says. He clinks down the flagon that is already empty. "Call."
"You don't know my hand," Magnus pouts.
"We do," Merle and Killian say.
"Even I know it," Johann echoes.
"Magnus, you're like an open book," Merle continues, doling out the next round of cards. "An open book with really, really big pictures."
"Large print edition," Killian adds. "I raise another forty."
"Feisty, dear. I call."
"Call," Avi says.
They all look at Magnus expectantly.
"Call," Magnus insists.
Taako rolls his eyes as he throws down his money. "This isn't a bluff so much as it is a sheer drop twelve stories down. I raise twenty."
"You've got a bad, bad hand. And trust me," Merle says, wiggling his soul wood fingers, "I know a bad hand when I see one."
"You all are the worst," Magnus says.
"Brand new information!" Taako drawls, and reaches 'gimmie' hands out to Avi's big jug of booze. Magnus catches Carey's gaze and throws her some Thieves Cant: 'Caution, Stop, Confirm?' For now he just gets a subtle shrug: 'Wait.'
Magnus is bad at waiting.
Carey is better. She tosses her extra twenty into the pot. "To be fair, though, nothing could be worse than when you cast Zone of Truth that one time," she says.
"For the love of Pan, listen--"
"No! It's funny now, but in the moment!"
"I said I was sorry!"
"You weren't, though," Killian says. "I fold."
"I wasn't," Merle grins.
"Double or nothing," Avi says.
Magnus crosses his arms. "Call."
"Atta boy," Merle says. "Dig that grave deeper."
It's Taako's turn. "All. In." He pushes his gold forward with a flourish.
There is silence.
Carey buckles first. "Fold."
"Fold," Avi says.
Taako gestures to the table. "Whassit gonna be, big guy?" he slurs.
Magnus fills his own flagon, downs it in three huge gulps, and pushes his gold in the pot. "Call."
"Johann," Taako says, "start composing the dirge for Magnus's funereal."
Magnus feels a weird anger rise in his chest as Taako makes everyone laugh. Something is weird, and Magnus doesn't like it.
"--can you make a violin sound stubborn, or will you need to switch to trombone--"
"Ha ha. With how much you're drinking, you'd think you were a sea elf."
Taako pauses very slightly. "Well then!" he says, voice tight. "Go fish."
The house put up a decent fight -- Merle knows what he's doing after a few hundred years -- but Taako's cards are simply fucking stunning. It's a perfect royal flush.
Magnus slaps down his big hand of nothing.
Taako, eight scarves to the wind, casts Mage Hand to rake all his winnings into his satchel, and finally, finally00 looks Magnus dead in the eye. Magnus, who is, at this point, wearing just one sock and his underwear.
He grins. "I'll be taking those sweet baby blues, Mags."
"Fuck," Magnus says. "Taako, come on--"
"Now, now!" Taako says, leaning back, grin eating even more shit than before. "I'm just thinking of you. After that truly spectacular loss, I wouldn't want you to get cold feet."
kira_shadow is up!