826: Show and Tells

by Lance Hartcort and Landry Steele

Evening, the same day as Home Sweet Home and Free Falling

-=The Afterthought Cafe'=-

"Seriously?" Dane sighed, watching as Landry Steele walked into the room. "Who the hell invited you?"

“I do have friends on this ship, Cristiane, believe it or not,” Landry smiled at the bespectacled Micah Samson as she spoke. He rose, prepared to offer her his seat, but she waved him off as she grabbed the back of a nearby chair and pulled it toward the table. “You may not be one of them, but I do have them.”

"Proof positive that there are lunatics among us."

"I'm going to order something from the coffee bar," Micah gave Dane a quick glare, turning toward Landry. "Can I get you anything, Ensign Steele?"

"A half-caff soy latte with two packets of aspartame and a dusting of nutmeg." Landry requested.

"Well at least you're not as high-maintenance as you look." Dane said sarcastically as Samson blinked repeatedly, trying to remember all that.

Landry waited a moment, enjoying the looks on the faces of those around her before allowing a grin to form on her face. "Boys, boys, you have no sense of humor at all. Samson, I want anything that combines coffee and alcohol. See if the Betazoid has anything that fits the bill. If not, bring me a plain coffee and I'll find a way to improvise."

"Dane?" Micah offered.

"Black coffee will work for now. I'll save drinking anything stronger for later, because I have a feeling that our new CMO..."

"Will be doing what, exactly, Cristiane?" Lance asked, wiggling his eyebrows as he startled Dane to the point of him nearly tipping his chair over backward.

"Buying the drinks," Dane finished, recovering quickly.

Lance nodded to those gathered at the table. “Lady…” He nodded to Landry, “and my fellow gentleman.”

Dane coughed as Lance referred to Landry as such, and Landry slapped him not-so-lightly on the back of the head.

"Hey!" Dane groaned, the pain in his face worsened by the jolt. "Touch me again and I swear, Steele, I'll file a report..."

Lance slapped Dane lightly on the shoulder then eyed the table placement. He quickly helped himself to a seat next to Landry.

Lance had discarded his lab coat and had changed into civilian clothing. A loose fitting bright blue Henley style long sleeve tee shirt was tucked into light tan pleated dress pants. A pair of brown leather loafers finished off the ensemble.

He produced a metal flask from his front pocket and placed it on the table in front of him.

“So, the rumors were right.” A voice came from the entrance of the afterthought. “This boat does have a game.”

Paxton Briggs strode up to the table. His tall frame casting a shadow on those seated.

“Got room for another?” He asked.

"Absolutely!" Landry smiled, sliding her chair over to make space for the very tall Briggs to pull another up to the table. Sue Tenney strolled in, the last invited participant for tonight's game.

"Did I miss anything?"

“Yes you did,” Lance answered as he hopped up and offered his chair. “Your chair.”

He then promptly took the chair opposite from her.

Wren Elton appeared with a tray of coffees and a tray piled high with sandwiches. "Your requested snack order, Ensign Cristiane."

"Thanks, Wren. Just set them on the next table and we'll get to them in a bit."

Everyone settled around the table, and Dane tossed the newly replicated deck of cards to Briggs. "Would you like to open the deck, Sir? And since you're the player who's still officially a guest aboard this ship, I suggest that you choose tonight's game."

“No ‘sir’ tonight Dane. Pax will be just fine.” He glanced at Lance who nodded in greeting. “Letting the doctor play, huh? Keep your wallets close everyone,” He smiled.

“As for the game…” He started to shuffle the cards. “…in honor of the good doctor we’ll play 7 card draw.”

Lance shook his head. “Crap.”

Paxton began to deal the cards. “Yea. I remember that is your worst game.”

"Hmm," Landry frowned. "I'm not sure I remember how to play that one."

"You start with two hole cards and one face up," Lance volunteered, leaning closer to Steele. "We'll help you along," he promised, giving her a wink.

Paxton rolled his eyes. "Yeah, be careful how much you let Hartcort help you, Ensign. " He shuffled the deck and then placed it before Steele. "Would you care to cut the cards?"

Landry pretended to think about it a moment, but then shoved the deck back toward Briggs. "You've got an honest face. Now if it were some people..." She shot Dane a look across the table and Dane simply sighed.

"Remember, this face is what it is at the moment thanks to you." Dane said, wincing as his hand brushed the swollen lid of one eye.

"Yeah, what's up with you Cristiane?" Tenney asked. "You look like some sort of sad, sick, mutated little panda bear."

"Or a rabid racoon..." Landry observed.

"Job related injury," Dane grumbled to Tenney while ignoring Steele, not wanting to elaborate. He sighed when he looked at the cards that Briggs dealt him. His luck didn't seem to be improving at all.

Paxton tossed in his chips. “Come on. Ante up if you’re in.”

Lance glanced at his cards and tossed in the minimum chips. He had nothing in his hand but it was worth the cost to get a chance to see whom at the table he could read. He glanced around at the table and could immediately tell that all of his fellow players were experienced at poker.

It was time to see how experienced.

He glanced at Paxton. He knew Pax’s skill level having played with him on many occasions when he was on board the Revolution. Lance knew he did not need to waste his time working on the big man.

His eyes moved to Samson. Knowing him as he did from the Bajor mission, he had no doubt what the man would do, but still had to stifle a laugh when he did it. “Samson?”

"Fold," Micah declared, immediately tossing his hand in.

He glanced over at Dane. He was as good a subject as anyone else.

“So, Dane. I’ve never been knocked out cold before. What is it like?” He asked as Dane tossed in the minimum bet.

"Well, if you have to try it, I'd recommend getting hit with a bottle over the head as opposed to taking a metal crossbeam in the face." Dane didn't glance down at his cards a single time, having already seen them and not needing to look at them twice.

"Did we ever declare a... what do you call it? Wild thing?" Landry asked suddenly.

"Card," Sue Tenney shook her head. "Wild card, and no I don't think that we did. Mr. Dealer?" She tilted her head toward Briggs, who was unreadable as he sat with his cards fanned out in his hand.

“Wilds are for wimps,” he commented as he grabbed two chips.

Lance smiled. “Really? I always felt that they added a certain extra tactic to the game.”

“Increased your odds of a winning hand you mean.” Pax returned the smile. “Put up or fold ‘em ladies.”

"Fold," Sue sighed, tossing her cards in.

"Um, stay. Or sit. Or whatever you do when you're in, I think."

"You have to see the bet, genius." Dane declared, eyes locked on Steele's.

“I can see it just fine, he put in two disks. I mean chips! Oh wait, I get it!” Landry picked up a couple of chips as if finding it distasteful to do so. "Now what?"

“Raise.” Pax tossed the chips he had been holding into the pile.

“Fold.” Lance declared as he slid his cards to the discard pile. He wanted to continue testing his opponents but not at any more cost to his chip pile.

"What do I say, I think it's," Landry rolled her eyes to the ceiling, the shadow of a memory hovering in the corner of her mind, just barely out of her reach. "I'll see you and I'll call you later?"

Paxton's expression didn't change. He didn't even bat an eye. "Close enough. Cristiane?"

"I-" Dane began, but the sound of his combadge chirping interrupted.

[Lindsay to Cristiane.]

"The Director of Temporal Investigations wants to talk to you?" Landry fairly squeaked. "How is this possible?"

"I don't know will you just shut your yap a minute so I can..." Dane snarled, holding his hand up asking the gathering to wait a moment as he responded to the call. "Yes, Sir?"

[Report to my current location immediately.]

Dane blinked in disbelief. "I'm not quite sure where that is, Sir."

[Trans Op has the coordinates. You have three minutes and not a second longer to get here and yes, I am serious. Lindsay out.]

"Well, I guess I'll fold," Dane tossed in his cards. "I'm sorry I'm going to miss the rest of this," he sighed, standing up and nodding to everyone at the table in turn as he moved to go. Everyone responded with some sort of farewell. Everyone that was, except for Steele, who was now intent on keeping her last remaining opponent from getting indication as to what her cards were.

Pax tossed in two more chips. “I’ll call you.”

He flipped over his cards. “A pair of bullets.” His cards showed two aces.

"Hmm. I guess that's not as good as what I've got, is it?" Landry laid her cards out, displaying the cards. "I've got two of one kind and three of another."

"A full house?" Dane called incredulously from the doorway. "You can't be…"

"Time's a wastin’, Cristiane! Don't want to be late for your hot date!" Landry crowed, as she finally allowed a smile to form on her face while she raked in the chips. "Hey, I think I remember that I used to like this game."


Commander Lance Hartcort
Chief Medical Officer
USS Serendipity NCC-2012


Ensign Landry Steele
Temporal Investigations Intern
USS Serendipity NCC-2012