A/N: I'm about to take a short break (daughter on spring break) and I didn't want to leave anyone hanging, so this is the last chapter. This one has been fun, I truly appreciate all who have commented, either here, twitter, tumblr, DM, PM, or smoke signal. Thank you all for the support. It means a lot you enjoy my work. Anyone else notice I like a good Christmas chapter? I know I'm a sucker. For the last time, I give you Aces, Charles, Chapter 10, Ace of Spades.
Disclaimer: I don't own Chuck, but if I did there would probably be 2 months' worth of Christmas episodes each season…
December 17th, 2004
Jenny pulled him over to the side, and started to say something when she caught the look in his eyes. She grinned and nodded a few times, he did the same. They were thinking the same thing. This could be over, by tomorrow, this could be over, and then….Jenny didn't want to think about that, because all it would accomplish would be to knock her off her game. There had been over 370 entrants to this tournament, and they had made it to the final last ten. They currently owed $736,000.00, and even if they were to bust out back to back, they'd knock that number down to $620,000.00. They were near the top in chips, 3rd, and 5th, and if they could actually finish that way, they'd be less than $90,000.00 from paying it off. If one of them could just come in second it was over, if they could both come in at least 3rd and 4th, it was over, and Jenny…she could move on with her life. She so wanted to. He'd propose at Christmas, she wanted him to. She knew he had the ring, and she knew what she'd told him that he couldn't, not until this was over, and right now she hated herself for it. She wanted to be engaged…no, she wanted to drag him to a chapel right now and marry him, and the look in his eye told her that he was pretty much in the same place.
"No pressure," he said with a grin. She shoulder bumped him, grinning. "You've done "the math" in your head too?" She nodded. He leaned in close. "How do you feel about a Vegas wedding tomorrow?"
"How do you feel about a Vegas honeymoon, tomorrow night?" she asked, turned, and walked away. His chin was on the floor.
"G-good," he stammered. She never looked back, as the grin threatened to break her face. "Real good!"
When play began they got super serious. They clashed in pots twice, the entire table watching in amusement. Neither back down from the other, and neither really hurt chips wise when it was over. The table knew while they were together as a couple, but they were at war on the felt. Two busted pretty quickly, and Chuck did quick math in his head to see they had picked up another 55k in earnings should they bust out next…good, but not good enough, and then it happened.
Chuck was dealt pocket 2s in the big blind and it was only him and Daniel Negreanu in the hand. The flop came 2, 7, 9 rainbow. Chuck had a set. Daniel raised, and after some consideration, Chuck reraised. Daniel leaned back and thought. He was the current chip leader, so he had Chuck covered. Chuck sat there, stoic. Daniel announced all in, and Chuck snapped called. Daniel turned over the Ace of clubs and the Ace of hearts. Chuck showed his set. The table ooooed, and Humberto mumbled he had folded the Ace of diamonds. Jenny's eyes were huge. Chuck had to dodge one card. The Ace of spades. There was a five percent chance of Daniel winning this pot. The turn came and it was a 4 of clubs. Chuck got up, and walked away a bit. Jenny sat there, watching, knowing Daniel had one out, the Ace of Spades. If Chuck could dodge that card, they would be in 1st and 3rd in chips, and the chances of the wedding went up astronomically. She could barely breathe, and then she was confused. The card hit, and she heard a stifled cry. Chuck's head dropped, and there on the table was the Ace of Spades. Chuck was out, in 8th, having taken $72,000.00 off of what they owed. The current balance was $664,000.00, but it was chump changed compared to what he had been in position to earn. Daniel came over and apologized. The three of them had talked before the tournament and he knew what was going on. He knew what he had done, and he was sorry. Chuck told him not to worry about it. Jenny came over and Daniel apologized to her. She gave him a hug, and said, "That's poker." She took Chuck and pulled him away telling the table to play on, she needed a minute. When they got away from the crowds, Chuck was nearly crying.
"I blew it," he said.
"No, Baby, you played it perfectly, what else were you suppose to do?" she asked, trying to get him to see reason.
"I blew my chance to marry you," he said. She shook her head, and put her hand behind his neck.
"No, we'll get married tomorrow, regardless," she said. Chuck smiled and shook his head.
"Jenny, listen, I don't want you to do this because you feel sorry for me, or are feeling especially frisky right now," Chuck said. She grinned at that one. "I need you to do this when you're ready, and I get you are ready in every way but one, but that's a big one. I don't have to agree with it, I don't have to like it, but I do have to respect it, so no, Jenny, we don't do this until you are ready." She stared at him.
"I've never gotten luckier in my life than having bought that iPod for that stupid amount of money," she said, he voice soft. "I can't even tell you how much I love you."
"Still think you overpaid for it?" he asked. She shook her head.
"I got it at a bargain," she said. They heard the announcement that the seventh player had busted out and they were done for the day. "Let's go bag my chips," she said, wiggling her eyebrows. I've got a tournament I need to come in second or better tomorrow." Chuck grinned.
"Oh, boy," he said, with the same eyebrow wiggle.
The next morning Jenny found herself under the bright lights of the televised final table, and Chuck found himself in the stands. In a very short time, Jenny found herself chipping up and moving into second chip position behind only the leader, Daniel Negreanu. All she had to do was not get involved with him, and she could coast to third easily, and it wouldn't take much work to get to second. After the first bust she walked over to Chuck, grinning, but he wasn't as happy as she was.
"What are you doing?" he asked softly.
"Getting the money to get married," she said.
"Jenny, be honest, you want to win this thing?" he asked. The smile on her face gave him the answer. "I'm here no matter what happens, and in a few months I get to propose to you," he said. "Do you want to look back some day and thing, I could have won that tournament if I hadn't played it safe? We are together no matter what happens today."
"We are so getting married right after we get the money," she said, a hunger in her eyes. "We're not having a long drawn out engagement."
"Deal," Chuck replied. "Now quit playing it safe and go win that tournament. Future Mrs. Bartowski," he added. She gave him a kiss and walked back over to the table, determined. Soon the fifth place player busted, and Jenny was starting to feel it. She got pocket fives on the button, and raised Daniel in the big blind. He called. The flop came 5, 9, Jack, rainbow on the suites. Jenny was looking at the board, she had a set, what were the odds Daniel was sitting on pocket Aces? Daniel checked, she thought for a second, and raised. He flat called. The turn was a 2, Daniel raised, she reraised, and Daniel went into the tank. Jenny began to worry. She knew she had him beat, but the river worried her. Surely it couldn't happen again. She really wanted him to fold and she was afraid she was giving off a tell. Daniel moved all-in. Jenny took off her sunglasses and leaned back.
"I'm supposed to call you, but I got a bad feeling," she said.
"Won't hurt my feelings if you fold," Daniel said, grinning. Jenny smiled at him. She huffed, and looked at the dealer.
"All-in," she said and flipped over pocket fives, showing her set. Daniel shook his head and flipped over pocket Aces. They both turned to Humberto who shrugged.
"I folded an Ace," he said, grinning. "Of hearts." They all looked at the board.
"So the only card that you can win with is the Ace of Spades," Jenny said. She groaned, got up out of her seat, and walked over to Chuck.
"I'm not too proud to suck out twice with the Ace of Spades," Daniel said, earning a laugh from the crowd. Chuck had his arms wrapped around her.
"It's coming," she muttered.
"If it is, it is," he replied. She didn't look and could feel his body react to it hitting. Twice in one tournament they had both been knocked out on a 2 percent draw. "Come on, you have hands to shake."
"I really wanted to get married tonight," she said where only he could hear.
"I really wanted a honeymoon tonight," he replied. She grinned against him and gave him a little shove. She turned and gave Daniel a hug.
"I'm so sorry," he whispered. "I feel awful." She pulled away from the hug.
"Don't," she said honestly. "Just go win it."
"You got it," he said. "Best of luck to you two."
"Thanks, Daniel," Chuck said. Daniel came over and shook his hand. They had earned another $284,000.00 and cut the amount owed down to $380,000.00…so why didn't it feel like a win…
December 25th, 2004
"Are you two all right?" Ellie asked. Chuck looked up at his sister and smiled.
"Yeah, I don't want to speak for Jenny, but I didn't get what I wanted for Christmas," he said, looking at her. She gave him the tiniest of shoulder bumps and a sad smile.
"Me either," she agreed. Ellie gave them a strange look.
"I have a feeling we're not talking about normal presents," Ellie said.
"Do you promise you won't squeal?" Chuck asked.
"Christ," Casey muttered and prepared to flee the room. Emma grabbed his hand and made him stay. Jenny and Chuck shared a look.
"We wanted to make Casey and Emma in-laws before they made us step-siblings," Jenny said, grinning. Casey grunted disgustedly and left the room. Emma's hand was covering her mouth fighting laughter, joy, and tears, all at the same time. Chuck shut one eye as Ellie squealed and dove out of the way as she crushed Jenny with a hug.
"Help," Jenny croaked.
"Nope," Chuck said. "You lit the Ellie bomb, I'm getting away while I can," as he turned to flee, and was crushed in a hug by his brother-in-law.
"Awesome," Devon said grinning.
"No, Devon, not yet it's not," Chuck said, somberly. Ellie pulled away and looked at the two.
"Okay," Ellie began looking back and forth between them. "What is going on? You two love each other, right?" They both nodded. "You both want to be married, right?" They both nodded. "To each other?" They smiled as they nodded. "Then what is the problem?"
"Me," Jenny said. "You know about dad. Well, I've been paying off his debts, and I told Chuck I didn't want to get married until it was cleared. We made a deal when the WPT Final gets here, if I haven't paid it off, he'd pay the rest, and I was good with it, until last week." She looked at Chuck, sadness on her face, and saw the sadness on his. "Ellie, we were SO close. We played it perfect. Chuck was on his way to being the chip leader, and a one card suck-out with eight players to go, I was going to be chip leader with three to go and a one card suck-out. We were right there." Ellie was smiling.
"Then screw it, and get married," she said. Jenny shook her head.
"See, the dork over here," she began.
"Nerd," he replied.
"Wonderful, charming, sexy beast of a man that I love over here," she corrected. Ellie held up her hand.
"I love you, and am glad you're joining the family, but that kinda talk is reserved for when we are way too drunk at a girl's night," Ellie said. Chuck groaned, placing his hand over his eyes. Jenny's face was about to split from the smile.
"I said we should get married, and now he refuses because he thinks somewhere down the road I'd be mad at myself if I gave in now," Jenny confessed. "He's probably right." Ellie smiled at her brother. He just shrugged. "He is right."
"I don't get it, but you two have to do what works for you, so go play a tournament and end it," she said.
"There aren't any more tournaments that aren't on cruises until February," she said. "I get a little seasick, and all the big whales are either there, taking time off for the holidays, or with their families."
"So you're stuck for a while," Ellie said. Jenny nodded, a sad smile on her face.
"April's only four months away," she said.
"Well, will this help?" Chuck said, handing her a box. She gave him a look. "It's not that, that's in the room, but I'll go get it if you want."
"Hush," she said, softly giving him a quick hug. "I'm weak, and it wouldn't take much to change my mind."
"You know telling me that isn't making it easier on me," Chuck replied. She smiled at him and unwrapped the gift. A tear formed in her eye.
"It was our mom's," Ellie said, the least emotional of the three right now, and that wasn't saying much. Chuck lifted the charm bracelet out of the box and put it on her wrist. "Jenny, you are a part of this family, and you always will be, and if you ever question that, remember we've made Casey a member."
"Nice, Bartowski," Casey said, having come back into the room.
"Thanks, John," Chuck said.
"Only a multimillionaire would scrimp out on buying a gift and give away his dead mother's jewelry," Casey continued. Chuck turned to Ellie.
"There it is," he began.
"Caseyfied," the two said together, smiling. Jenny hugged them both. Soon it would be an official Bartowski hug…soon.
February 21st, 2005
Jenny was exhausted. She looked over at Chuck and knew he was feeling the same. They had played marvelously, but at some point you have to have cards, and they hadn't even come close to having the hands they needed. Chuck was the short stack, and Jenny was right behind him in chips.
They were huddled in the corner before the final table began to get them to six.
"All we have to do is come in 4th and 7th or better, or one of us just come in 3rd," Jenny said. Chuck grinned at her.
"I love your enthusiasm, but everyone at that table knows I'm going to have to shove the first decent hand I get," Chuck replied. "There's no way I can survive the blinds to grind to seventh as is." Jenny nodded.
"We are so close," she said, almost desperate.
"I know," Chuck said. "We're playing well, but the deck has been against us."
"We should just take what we get and pay it off and get married," Jenny said. Chuck gave her a look, and she rolled her eyes. "Why won't you let me be spontaneous with this?"
"Because you'll be upset about it one day," Chuck replied.
"You're so meeeaaaannn," she whined. Chuck's eyebrow raised.
"I've not heard you whine like that since you had to get up at 5 AM," Chuck replied. She huffed.
"Let's go," she said. She stopped, turned toward him, and pulled him in for a kiss. When she separated his eyes were a little cloudy and he had a goofy grin on his face. "I love you."
"I love you," he replied. "I hope I win this."
"Me to," she said softly.
Back to the tables they went. Chuck looked down at his first hand, and was trying to figure out to show or not, when one of the stacks a little bigger than his went all in. He was looking at a J 8, not a terrible hand to shove with, but not one to call with. He folded and got out of the way. Jenny folded when it came to her, and the small blind and big blind both called. She looked over at him and they knew they may have just climbed one more spot up the ladder. Sure enough a few minutes later, Erik Seidel was eliminated and they knew they had just climbed over $20,000.00 more up the ladder. Jenny took a deep breath. There was a chance.
The next hand was A 4 for Chuck and he moved all in. He was instacalled by Michael Mizrachi in the big blind, and the chip leader. Mizrachi flipped over pocket Kings, and Chuck had three outs. The Ace never came, and he was eliminated in 9th place, earning him a net of $67,000.00. The total owed was now $313,000.00. Chuck shook everyone's hand, but Jenny's. She gave him a hug, and whispered in his ear that she loved him.
They played for another hour before there was an elimination. Ben Johnson was out, moving her one more spot up the rung, but it would take 3rd for them to pay off the debt. She was getting short stacked and the cards were not coming her way. When she picked up pocket Jacks a few hands later, she knew it was time. She pushed all in, only to be called by pocket Queens. Neither of the two Jacks came, and it was game over. She shook everyone's hand, and Chuck met her to walk to the cashier's cage. They knew this hadn't been their tournament. She had made $119,000.00 after the buy-in, and the total amount owed was down to $194,000.00.
April 23rd, 2005
Jenny took a deep breath. They had made the money. It didn't really matter, in two days this nightmare was over. She was mad at her pride for not allowing Chuck to propose sooner, but he was right, it would have bugged her for the rest of her life. After the LA Poker classic, the two decided to see how much they could win in cash games…it was a disaster. They were so nervous and worried they had lost nearly $200,000.00 in no time, and it had taken them the past two months just to earn back that amount to get to even. They had gone to the Bay 101 Shooting Star tournament, and like last year, she had been a shooting star. Unlike last year, she couldn't avoid all the people who wanted the bounty on her head, and she hadn't even made the money this time. Chuck battled like a pro, made the final table, but could only manage a 9th place finish. Jenny insisted on taking her buy-in out of those winnings as well, so they only netted $80,000.00 at that tournament bringing the running total to $114,000.00 they owed. It didn't matter, tomorrow it would be over with, one way or another, but Jenny hadn't forgotten the promise she had made Chuck she was going to win this tournament. He hadn't forgotten that he had promised her the same thing.
"Getting cold feet?" the voice came behind her. She grinned and never turned around.
"Baby, I ain't got cold anything," she replied. "You better get all the sleep you can tonight Mr. Bartowski, because tomorrow night….you're gonna be on your honeymoon." With that she walked off. A second later Chuck's brain rebooted.
"What if that hadn't of been me?" he shouted after her. She shook her head, never turning around.
"I knew it was," she answered. Chuck stood there grinning stupidly. He then sobered at the thought he had to get through 99 other players, this tournament…it was going to be his.
It was a long day, the two of them dodging potential landmines on the felt. They kept watching the leader boards to figure out where the other one was, and Chuck noticed Jenny was steadily falling down in chip count. They were down to fifty players when they took a break. They had netted $24,000.00 between them if they both busted out now, and the next pay bump was at 40th place. Chuck knew he had to talk to her, now.
"So you're just gonna let me win the bet," Chuck said.
"What are you talking about?" Jenny asked.
"I mean it just seems like you've given up, which is understandable," Chuck said grinning. Jenny's face darkened a bit. "I mean we both know I'm the better player." She walked up to him, inches between them.
"It's on, Bub, and when I win, don't forget our bet," Jenny said. Chuck smiled.
"It's all I've thought about," he said, walking off and leaving her there.
"Damn it," she muttered. "I think he won that one."
Back at the table, Jenny began to play, and Chuck watched her slowly climb the leaderboard in chips. They got down to forty players, and Jenny, stood up and pointed to the leaderboard. They were both in the middle of the pack in chips, neck and neck. They got down to 30 players left, and Chuck stood up, pointing to the leaderboard where he was in the upper third, and she was only in the upper half. They played as well as they remember playing and when they got down to 20, Chuck stood up to point that he was in the top five in chips, but he saw Jenny's face and he was quiet.
"Bartowski," she shouted, her face covered with a smile. "We did it!" Chuck pointed over to the gallery, where Casey stood, a grin on his face. Bobby was there, and they saw Casey hand Bobby a stack of chips. He waved to them, letting them know it was over. The nightmare was finally over. Her father's debts were paid off, they were free and clear. Chuck turned back to her and winked. "Try and make it to the final table, Bartowski," she said, about to sit down.
"Hey, Burton," Chuck yelled back. "Make it to the final table, and I'll give you a free lesson. The cost is all your stack when I take it from you."
"Oh, it's on, Nerd boy," she said.
"Hey!" Phil Gordon yelled from the gallery where he was watching. "I resemble that comment."
"I'm about to school all you nerds," she yelled back smiling. Chuck and Phil shared a look as she sit down.
"About time you went all-in, Bartowski," Phil said. Chuck just grinned.
The push was on for the TV final table of six. The play was furious, but not fast. It was two more hours until they made the final table of ten, which found Chuck and Jenny nowhere near each other in the seating arrangement. They were third and fifth in chips, each of them making comments to the other, the table amused. One by one, players were eliminated until only six remained, Chuck and Jenny being two of them. The chips were counted and they were told what time to be back tomorrow.
"Truce?" Jenny asked, her eyebrow raised.
"You willing to sleep with the enemy tonight?" Chuck asked.
"Who said anything about sleeping?" Jenny asked, walking away. When Chuck's brain rebooted he scurried after her.
The next day they arrived at the table, not sure how to act. They both began play tight, and at the first break, Jenny pulled Chuck aside.
"We aren't going out like this," she said. "We go out the way we got here."
"Inappropriate flirting?" Chuck asked. Jenny smiled.
"Exactly," she replied.
They got back to the table, and acted like they always did, the other players never for a second thought they were working together. They talked trash to each other, made little remarks, and they clashed several times over pots. The table dropped to five players, then four, and then three. When Chuck busted out Tuan Le in third place, he eyebrow wagged Jenny, who rolled her eyes at him.
"You've never beat me you know," he said, as the cameras came back on.
"I'm glad the TV cameras are here to record history then," she fired back, good-naturedly.
After a while of heads-up play, the blinds had begun to go up, and Chuck knew it was only a matter of time before he was going to be in trouble. He looked down at pocket Aces, hearts and clubs, and raised. Jenny called. The flop came seven, eight of spades, and the three of diamonds. Chuck raised, and Jenny called. The King of diamonds hit on the turn. Chuck looked at the board. It looked eerily familiar. He thought for a second. It was the same board as the first time he busted her. She had held Aces, and he had the nine, six of diamonds. The flop on that board had been seven eight of diamonds, and the three of spades. He looked up at Jenny who had a grin on her face.
"Kinda familiar, isn't it?" he asked. She nodded. He sat back in his chair. If she was on a draw, he didn't think she would call. As much as she had added math to her game she just wouldn't do it. He looked at her stack which was bigger than his, but just slightly.
"My eyes are up here," she said, earning a laugh from the audience.
"Don't worry, I'll treat your stack nice when I take it," he replied. She grinned at him. "I'm all-in."
"Call," she said, in a snap. Chuck's eyes got huge. He turned over the cards to show his pocket Aces and Jenny showed the six, nine of spades. The announcer told everyone what was going on, and Chuck grinned at her. Chuck stood up.
"Can we hold on, just a second?" Chuck asked. Everyone looked around, confused. Jenny began to grin. She knew. Chuck turned to her, a smile on his face. "Last year, you and I made a bet, the loser, had to make the other one happy for the rest of their life." Jenny smiled. "I know right now, I'm a small favorite, but I've decided, either way, the best way you can make me happy, or I can make you happy is to do this." He reached into his pocket, pulled out a box, opened it, showing the ring inside, and sunk down to one knee. The announcer rushed over to get the mike in his face, making Chuck laugh. "Jenny Lisa Burton, you make me the happiest I have ever been, will you please do me the honor of spending the rest of your life with me, and marry me?"
"Still making me chocolate chip pancakes if I lose?" She asked, grinning.
"Oh, for the love of God, Woman!" he said, laughing. "Win or lose!" She pretended to think a minute, tapping her right index finger on her lips, her left hand holding her right elbow.
"Hmmm," she hummed, trying not to laugh. "Of course, I'll marry you, you nerd!" she said, kissing him. The audience exploded in applause. Chuck put the ring on her finger, and she hugged him.
"Uh, we still have a tournament to finish," the announcer said. The two stood, Jenny leaning her head into Chuck's chest, his arms around her, her arms wrapped around his waist.
"You know it's the Ace of spades, right?" Chuck asked. She giggled into his chest. The card came out…the Ace of spades. Jenny won the tournament, but she never moved, clinging to Chuck. They shot the last of the TV part with her holding the check in one hand, and Chuck with the other. Mike Sexton toasted them and wished them a long and happy marriage, and then they finally were able to leave. As they walked off, Chuck started laughing.
"What?" Jenny asked.
"I need to by an iPod," he said, grinning. "I haven't had one in a while." Jenny laughed into his chest.
"I'll let you borrow mine, I got a deal on it," she said, as they walked off to find an all-night wedding chapel.
A/N: I enjoyed it, hope you did. Again thank you all for the reviews, follows, favorites, and the love. I'll be back soon with Break Up, Buy More High, Casey & Walker, and of course, the Life Unexpected…take care…see you soon…til next time.