Three men faced each other, eyeing each other intently. They were about to begin an event of great importance, which would determine their futures. Some of them might not survive; each one was prepared to do whatever it took to make sure they did.
One lifted his hand. In it, he held a weapon. He stared across at one of his adversaries, who was holding an identical weapon. Beads of sweat rolled down each of their faces, and their jaws were clenched tightly as they concentrated. "You ready, Sam?" The sentence was spat with barely concealed distaste.
Sam nodded stiffly. "Only one of us can win, and it's going to be me." He turned his weapon around so that it faced the other.
The first man blinked, then smiled. "That's what you think." With that, he turned his own weapon, aiming it toward Sam.
No one moved.
Finally, Sam put down his card, grumbling, "Alright, you win this round, Garrett."
Garrett grinned and collected his chips. "Aw, don't feel sore. You won a lot already; someone else had to win sometime."
The third man spoke up as he collected the cards back into the deck. "I'm not doing very well tonight…" he observed with a sigh as he glanced at his own paltry pile of chips.
Garrett put a hand on the third man's shoulder. "You'll do better, Leroy, I'm sure," he said, grinning.
Leroy glared and pushed Garrett's hand off his shoulder. "You're just saying that so I'll keep playing and bet more money for you to win, aren't you?"
Sam chuckled. "Would Garrett say something like that out of the goodness of his heart?"
"Of course I would," Garrett said, winking. "To my friends, that is."
Leroy snorted. "No, he wouldn't."
Garrett gave a mock gasp, looking offended. "Now that isn't—"
"Let's do another round," Sam interrupted. "I have to get back home in a few minutes."
Leroy nodded and shuffled the deck. He then pointedly gave the deck to Sam to cut, a gesture which Garrett pointedly ignored. With that done, Leroy took the deck back. "Place your bets."
The three men examined their piles of chips, gauging their confidence and how much they were willing to lose. In the end, Sam put the most chips in the pot, while Leroy, having the least chips to bet with, put only a few. Then Leroy dealt the cards.
Sam picked up his hand and stared at it, face impassive. Garrett, however, though he attempted to keep his poker face, couldn't resist breaking into a small smile upon seeing his own hand. Leroy simply frowned. "Anyone want to raise their bet?" he asked obligatorily.
Sam shook his head, while Garrett nodded and added a few more chips to his pile. Leroy himself opted to keep his original bet.
Leroy then looked at Garrett, who shook his head. "Keeping it."
Sam put down two cards. Leroy drew two more from the deck and gave them to Sam, taking Sam's two cards and putting them at the bottom of the deck. Sam's expression didn't change as he continued to gaze at his hand.
Leroy looked at his hand. He had a four of clubs, a five of hearts, a jack of spades, a king of spades, and a seven of clubs. Frowning, he took his seven, five, and two and put them down, then drew three more cards from the deck. He put them into his hand and adopted an impassive face.
He then looked at the other men, concentration and anxiety evident on his face. "Want to raise your bet?"
Garrett nodded and confidently added several more chips to his pile. Sam added a few more, appearing uncertain. Leroy sighed. "I'm betting pot; might as well."
The others accepted this. He didn't have very many chips to start out with, so he had little to lose. Garrett then began to put down his cards, one by one.
"I have… a two of hearts, an ace of hearts, a two of spades, a two of clubs… and a two of diamonds," he said, grinning widely.
Sam whistled. "Four of a kind." He laid down his own cards, sighing. "That beats my two pair."
Both Sam and Garrett then turned to Leroy. "Whatcha got?" Garrett asked cockily.
Leroy began to put down his cards, face expressionless. "A jack of spades, a king of spades, a queen of spades, a ten of spades… and an ace of spades."
They stared, and for a long time no one moved. Finally Garrett said, in an unbelieving voice, "A… a royal flush?"
Leroy grinned. "It would seem so." With that, he collected all of the chips from the pot, and then gave his two friends an inquiring glance. "Want to play another round?"
Sam quickly shook his head. "No, I've gotta go." He hurriedly picked up his chips, stood, and left for the exchange counter.
Garrett blinked, and seemed to suddenly remember something. "Er, no thanks, maybe tomorrow. I have some errands to run…" He stood, grabbing his chips in the same motion, and rushed after Sam.
Leroy whistled a lighthearted tune as he signaled to a servant for a bag to carry his chips in. He was feeling lucky.