Long Game [Stargate Atlantis/SG1]

Long Game
by Jennifer-Oksana
Fandom: Stargate Atlantis/Stargate SG-1
Rating: PG-13
Pairing: Withheld
Spoilers: The Pegasus Project
Disclaimer: Not mine. Not ever going to be.
Summary: Girls’ poker night. With internecine station warfare.

“So, what do you ladies do for fun around here?” Vala asked, putting her arms around Katie Brown and Laura Cadman, who’d been discussing some arcane detail of explosive technology — or possibly McKay’s ego. “I’m dying of boredom and Daniel’s banished me from the decision-making session because I’m unpredictable.”

“You could join the domesticators,” said Cadman, pointing at a corner of the mess with unalloyed contempt. “They knit.”

“So did the followers of the Ori,” Vala said with a grimace. “I don’t think it’s quite my cuppa, if you take my meaning.”

“Oh, we do,” Katie said with a sweet smile that was laced with mischief. “Do you play hold ’em?”

“I don’t, but I’d love to learn as long as it means I don’t have to knit booties and discuss my hair,” Vala said. “Did you know that some woman told me that I should get some dignity, because sixth grade was at least twenty-five years ago for me?”

“That’s mean,” Cadman said. “Katie, don’t you think that’s mean?”

“So mean,” Katie said with another smile. Vala almost chuckled — clearly, hold ’em was some sort of gambling game, and these two were delighted to have a new player. It was really cute.

“Who else is going to play with us?” Vala asked, thinking that one way to defuse the devilish pair before her was to have a few allies. “How about Teyla? And Dr. Weir? And I suspect Colonel Carter…”

“Sure, sure,” Cadman said. “Except Weir doesn’t play with the scrubs. We can get a group going after we teach you to play — no ante.”

“The ante comes later,” Katie agreed, looping her arm around Vala’s waist. “Do you have any money?”

“Daniel has money,” Vala said with a shrug. “That’s almost better than having my own.”

“Good enough,” Laura replied, giggling. “Come on, we have to show you how to play.”

“So it goes ace king queen jack, and down from there,” Vala said. “Four different kinds of cards.”

“Suites, yeah. Club, spade, heart, diamond. Um, the spade looks like an upside down heart and the club is like a clover,” Katie said. “Did you read the chart?”

“Yes, I’m quite aware of what hands win,” Vala said. Hold ’em appeared to be a fascinating little game — not nearly as fun as rinkini sticks or quarters, but there was money involved, and she was going to bleed these little tricksters dry.

They were being darling, though. Vala sometimes found Stargate Command’s endless dourness about everything ever to be a bit dull. These two had the Wraith looming all the time, and they still had time to gamble and have a bit of fun.

Besides, it was good to know not everyone in the Stargate program was virtuous and dried-up. Katie had a stereo and they were listening to awful synthetic music, Laura was bouncing with excitement, and they had alcohol.

“Okay, we’ll play a couple rounds then,” Laura said. “D’you want some booze? I traded with an engineer to get the good stuff.”

“Traded what?” Katie asked.

“I showed him my tits,” Laura said laconically. Katie gasped. “Why are you such a prude, Katie?”

“You have a boyfriend! Carson is nice…unlike certain jerkwad science geniuses…” Katie said, fluttering her hand irritably. “I swear to God, one day, I’m putting lemon in his tea.”

“Ah, the notorious Dr. McKay,” Vala said.

“He’s a jerk,” Katie said.

“Total jerk,” Laura agreed. “But fun to fuck with. Like, I’d never fuck him, but I could see him like kind of a brother, you know?”

“Oh, shut up, you would fuck him,” Katie said. “Because you’d be very much like, ‘who’s your daddy? who’s your daddy?’ and he’d love it.”

“I would NOT! I am nobody’s daddy, especially not Twitchy the Tweaker’s daddy!” Laura shrieked. “Come on, we’re showing Vala poker so we can, um…fleece people.”

Vala paused. Could they really be so naive? The American military did have a tendency to breed that, but HONESTLY. “Girls, have you not heard about me? Possibly you shouldn’t tell the fleece-y that they’re going to be fleeced.”

“Oh, we’re not fleecing you,” Katie said. “You’re the bait. Newbie, claims to know nothing. We’re setting a trap.”

“For whom might I be bait?” Vala asked.

“The secret poker whiz of Atlantis,” Katie said. “Well, the lucky bitch who took us all for a ride and then won’t play anymore.”

“Elizabeth Weir,” Laura said.

“Weir can play poker?” Vala said, genuinely surprised.

“She is a well-known international diplomat,” Katie pointed out. “It’s not really her fault she seems kind of like…”

“A retarded soccer mom?” Laura suggested.

“A well-meaning ninny who let the Wraith take Atlantis and listens to plans given to her by that hairball Sheppard?” Vala interjected.

Katie threw up her hands. “You two are not nice.”

“But we can fake nice. And we can, in fact, bluff Weir,” Vala said, putting her hands behind her head and humming. “Does anyone know if she can hold her alcohol?”

“Wait, you’re down with the plan?” Laura asked.

“I like a good prank. Besides, I’m the bait,” Vala said. “Should your plan fail, I will claim complete ignorance, take my portion, and skip off home with my adorable pigtails.”

Katie groaned and hid her face behind her hand, but Laura’s eyes sparkled. If Vala was wrong, and she was so rarely wrong, Lieutenant Cadman was a woman after Vala’s own heart.

“I like you,” Laura said, grinning viciously. “So let’s deal you in.”

“Girls’ poker tonight,” Sheppard told Weir. “I heard they’ve got Vala in on it, and maybe Carter. Are you going to need me to take over tonight?”

“I don’t play poker with the crew anymore,” Weir said with a beatific smile. “It lowers morale. You should have heard Zelenka curse me in Czech when I took out the engineers.”

“Are you sure?” Sheppard asked, smiling at her with a twinkle in his eye.

“John, I’m not sure it’s appropriate,” Weir said, fiddling a bit.

“Do it. You want to, so why fiddle and pretend you don’t? Besides, I hear Lieutenant Cadman saying she can take ANYONE tonight. Real cocky,” Sheppard said with a smirk.

“Oh, really,” Weir said with a sigh. “I like her, but she’s got a bit of an attitude.”

“So go take her down a notch, and relax. It was a long day, and SG-1 can irritate anyone,” Sheppard advised. Weir smiled at him.

“Thanks, John,” she said, turning and leaving the office. Sheppard watched her go, and then closed the door.

“She’s in,” he said to his communicator. “You owe me one, Cadman.”

“Have you ever known me to welch on a bet, sir?” Cadman asked. “Thank you, Colonel.”

“You’re welcome,” Sheppard said, beginning to whistle.

The table was set up for eight, Katie Brown was wearing one of those green visors that made her look a little bit ridiculous, and two of the die-hard regulars at Girls’ Poker Night were sulking and playing banker while Weir, Vala Mal Doran, and an annoyed, reluctant Sam Carter sat about the table.

A few other women — the knitter-types, and rather surprisingly, Teyla — were hanging about, paying attention as Laura Cadman and Liz Weir both shuffled decks of cards.

“We’ve got a strange table tonight,” said Cadman to the assembled. “Two guests, and a long-time hold-out…our glorious leader, Liz Weir.”

“What can I say?” Weir replied. “I don’t much love taking my own people for all their money.”

“But you’ll make an exception for your guests,” Sam said.

“Oh, this will be fun!” Vala said enthusiastically, clapping her hands and raising her glass for another serving of the deadly punch that one of the engineering girls — Vanek, if she wasn’t mistaken — had provided. “I don’t care a thing about the money–”

“Of course not, it’s Daniel’s,” Sam added.

“I just love female bonding!” Vala said with a bright smile on her face.

Weir and Cadman glared at each other. Vanek, Katie, a quartermaster by the name of Lisa, and the Cantonese chemical engineer, Chang Huian, who was usually Huey or Hu, all rolled their eyes — they’d played the game before with both players — but settled down quickly enough.

“So,” said Vala. “What’s the ante for this sort of tournament play?”

“Ten bucks to buy in, with last three players allowed to up the limit,” Huey said efficiently.

“Speaking of,” Novak said, leaning against a table with a snort. “Ante up, all you.”

Everyone handed Novak ten dollars — even Vala, smirking at Sam as she did so — and then there were drinks noisily slurped as Weir began dealing the cards.

“And we don’t show these to anyone, right?” Vala asked, all smiles. “Just teasing, I know that.”

Weir shot her a glare. “Are you going to talk all night?” she asked.

“Be nice, she’s new at this,” said Katie. “Big’s twenty, small’s ten, so toss in, Colonel Carter and Vanek.”

They did, and Weir then looked at Cadman. “The bet’s to you.”

Cadman didn’t even look at her cards, just pushed them in. Vala groaned.

“Oh, no fun. How much do I put in? Twenty? That’s two whites, here,” she said.

“Miss Mal Doran, not all of us enjoy talkative players at the table,” Weir said sharply.

“Call,” Huey said. Katie tossed in her twenty as did Lisa, Weir shrugged and called, and Vanek put in her ten.

“Pot’s right?” Novak inquired.

“Pot’s right,” Weir said, burning two cards and turning over a ten of clubs, a two of diamonds, and an eight of clubs.

“Now there’s a potentially good flop,” Cadman noted. “Of course, it’s also potentially shit, so there you go. And the bet is to Carter.”

“Fold,” Sam said with a shrug.

Vala picked up her cards and her eyes brightened. Huey sighed, and tossed in another twenty. Katie put in twenty herself, and Vala giggled.

“Fifty,” she said. “So that’s a thirty raise.”

Lisa shook her head and tossed her cards in. Weir didn’t blink, just put in her fifty. Huey and Katie agreed, and Weir burned another card before putting down a six of hearts.

“Who’s the bet to again?” Vala asked.

“Jenka,” Cadman said cheerfully. “What’s it going to be, Jenka?”

Vanek tapped her cards. “Check.”

Huey followed. Katie shrugged. “Twenty,” she said, and Cadman hooted. “Oh, screw you, Laura. What’s that you say about feeling froggy?”

Vala put in her twenty, and Weir followed, as did Vanek. Huey shook her head and folded. Everyone looked to Katie.

“We’re good.”

“Last card, then, last card,” Cadman said, taking a nice long drink of Novak’s punch.

Weir turned over a five of clubs.

“Check!” Vanek said triumphantly. Huey looked sour, but Katie agreed to check.

“Should I check, then? I think I shall,” Vala said, smiling at Weir. “So it’s all you, Dr. Weir.”

“Check. Let’s see ’em, ladies,” Weir said.

Grinning cheerfully, Vanek turned over a pair of tens. Katie snickered.

“Sorry, babe, that there’s a four and a seven,” she said.

“And that’s a seven and a nine,” Weir replied. “Sorry.”

“Damn,” Vala said. “All I have are the ace and the queen. I guess Dr. Weir wins…”

“Except those are both clubs,” Cadman said. “That’s a flush, so you win.”

“Oh, fantastic,” Vala said, taking the money with delight. “I really like this game.”

Two hours later, and the party had gotten progressively drunker and louder, despite Weir’s repeated snarls at Vala. Beginner’s luck had apparently worked for her, as had a reckless disregard for the cards. Cadman and Weir were facing each other like seasoned foes, and Vanek had managed to stay on due to a spectacular four-ace hand that had taken out Sam and Katie at once.

“So now we see the river,” Vala said. “And ooh, look! That’s a jack of diamonds! He’s a lucky one, isn’t he?”

Weir’d folded with the flop, shrugging.

“All in,” Vanek hissed, putting in her last two dollars.

“Fuck it, fold,” said Cadman, glowering. She’d lost four dollars to the hand.

“I’ll see your two,” Vala said. “Heck, I want to see the cards that make you think you’re a winner, Jenka.”

“Jack nine,” Vanek said. “Two pair.”

“That’s really good,” Vala said. “Except I’ve got the other two nines.”

Vanek swore loudly in Czech; the other women applauded, especially Katie.

“Beginner’s luck, I am TELLING you,” she said, giggling. “Teyla, some day you have to play. Your beginner’s luck will kick butt.”

“I am afraid that my constant observation of the mental games and diversions that make up a large part of this game would give me an unfair advantage,” Teyla said.

“And then you’d be up a bunch of money and get bragging rights,” Novak said. “Where’s the downside?”

“The downside is that we’re doubling blinds again, and we’re down to the last three. Little’s four, big’s eight,” Cadman said. “And Dr. Weir is dealing the cards.”

Weir shuffled, handed the cards to Vala, who cut them with a giddy smile, and began dealing as Cadman tossed in her four and Vala her eight.

“Aren’t we allowed to bet other things now?” Vala asked.

“Officially, no, but unofficially — this is no limit hold’ em,” Cadman said, her eyes on Weir as Weir looked at her cards and put in her eight bucks. “Okay, lady, I’ll match you. Vala?”

“Ooh, I think it’s expensive, so I’ll stay with what I have. So we’re all right and Liz here has to deal out the cards, yay!” Vala said, fidgeting with her hair.

Which ‘Liz’ promptly did, only burning one compared to her usual two.

“Fuck me, that’s three queens,” Cadman said.

“Fuck me, yes it is,” Weir agreed.

“Ooh, that means someone’s going to get knocked to pieces on this hand,” Vala said. “Laura, weren’t you telling me hands like this never happen and when they do, bet everything?”

“Yes,” Cadman said between gritted teeth. “But the bet’s not to you, it’s to me. And here is five bucks to make this a very expensive hand to play calling station on.”

“Well, I fold,” Vala said cheerfully.

“Here’s five, plus another five,” Weir said.

“Oh, so now you’re buying the hand?” Cadman asked. “It’s not going to work.”

She put her five bucks on the table. Weir snorted, burnt another card, and put a nine on the table.

“Girls, girls, don’t fight! This is all for fun!” Vala said, grinning brightly. “Isn’t it?”

“Check,” Cadman hissed.

“Okay, then,” Weir answered. “Last card.”

She turned over a six. Cadman tapped her finger on the table. Weir rolled her eyes, and put down three bucks.

“Yeah, just keep trying to buy the hand, bitch,” Cadman said. “I see the three and raise you three. If you’re gonna get froggy…”

Weir tossed in the three. “Turn ’em over, big shot,” she said.

“Full house, queens over nines, jack kicker,” Cadman said. “You got the queen?”

“Queens over nines, jack kicker,” Weir said, slamming her cards down. “How’d that happen?”

Vala snorted. “Maybe the poker gods wanted you two to relax and have fun,” she said as the two divided their pot with cold eyes. Weir slid the deal button to Cadman, put down her eight dollars and watched Vala put down her four.

The round got ugly fast.

“All right, to hell with it, I’m all in,” Vala said, four cards down — two eights (hearts and spades), a jack of clubs, and a two of hearts. “So I had six-eighty left, but on top of that, I put in twenty.”

“Does Daniel know how much money you steal from his wallet?” Sam asked, looking up from her private conversation with Teyla.

“I return eighty percent of whatever I lift from Daniel. Sometimes even ninety. So he’s aware of about fifteen percent of it,” Vala said cheerfully. “What say you, ladies? I’m bored. It’s worth twenty bucks to be out of this pissing match and play with everyone else while you two try to kill each other.”

Cadman looked at Weir. “I think she’s trying to buy this one,” Cadman said. “Remember when she had the seven and the two?”

“I do,” Weir said. “That’s why I call.”

“As do I,” Cadman said.

“Good, we’re all in accord,” Vala said. “Turn over the last card, and you two can have your own little side pot for fun.”

Weir turned up a five of hearts. All three women smiled suddenly.

“So we’re all in,” said Weir to Cadman. “Willing to risk it, Lieutenant?”

“It’s enough to take you both out at one shot,” Cadman said. “And I’m gonna.”

“Okay. Turn ’em the hell over,” Weir said.

Cadman snorted and turned over a jack and an ace. “Two pair, jacks and eights.”

“Which would be plenty, except I seem to have two more hearts — three and an ace. So there you go, Lieutenant,” Weir said with a sweet smile.

“Oh, that is pretty good. Holding out on an ace-three combo?” Vala said. “Well played, Dr. Weir. Except…”

Vala turned over two eights. “Four eights,” she said.

Weir and Cadman gaped.

“Ooh, you just got worked by your patsy,” noted Katie Brown, who’d spent the time since her knock-out coming up with new ways to combine hard alcohol and fruit juice.

“Owninated!” one of the regulars added.

Vala, humming a little tune, pulled in her winnings. “Look at all my money. Money, money, money. This was so much fun!”

Cadman and Weir glared. And then Cadman started to laugh, pounding her fist on the table.

“I got worked,” she said, putting her head on the table.

“We both got worked,” Weir agreed, shaking her head and leaning back in her chair. “Congratulations, Miss Mal Doran. You definitely were lucky tonight.”

“And I made so many wonderful new friends,” Vala said, smiling winningly. “One hundred and forty dollars.”

“One hundred dollars,” Sam said. “You need to put the money back in Daniel’s wallet, remember?”

Vala grimaced, looking at her money with sheer delight and only a tiny bit of naughtiness. “Nag, nag, nag,” she said.

Katie Brown was waiting for Vala once Girls’ Poker night had wandered off to go sleep it off, drunken insults and hugs having been shared with great aplomb between Laura Cadman and Elizabeth Weir.

“Here’s the forty dollars I owe you,” Katie said. “You did a fabulous job. Like a real card sharp and everything.”

“You weren’t so bad yourself. I can’t believe I had to throw away those pocket aces, though,” Vala said. “Anyway, do you think they’ll figure it out?”

“Nah. They bonded! And besides, you’re not going to be playing with them any time soon,” Katie said, smiling. “Thanks for your help, Vala.”

“Leaving so soon?” Vala asked. “After all, the night is young, we’ve had copious amounts of alcohol, and I’m flush with victory.”

Katie chuckled and leaned closer. “It has been a while since I’ve had any fun,” she admitted. “Flushed with victory, you say?”

“And the joy of minor crime, yes,” Vala said, resting her fingers on Katie’s arm. “I’m not made of stone, after all.”

Katie grinned. “Neither am I. I can even prove it, if you will just come with me…”


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