Disclaimer: FreeCell belongs to the Microsoft Corporation. No profit is being made.

Summary: Still, love will spring from the darkest of hates, and the Fates didst set their eyes upon the players on the stage, and they didst deal out the cards of fortune...

Longing to be Free

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there did exist a kingdom that didst call itself FreeCell Land. This noble land of peace and plenty, alas, didst divideth itself into warring fiefs, each ruled by four noble Houses: The House of Clubs, the House of Hearts, the House of Spades, and the House of Diamonds. These noble lords did war with each other, battles, that did staineth the lush hills and valleys of the land crimson with spilt blood. Still, love will spring from the darkest of hates, and the Fates didst set their eyes upon the players on the stage, and they didst deal out the cards of fortune...

Only They could determine the hands received...


The Queen of Spades rolled over in the Royal Bed and sighed in disgust at the sleeping card that lay next to her. The royal blankets pulled taut over the grossly overweight figure, and gathered around his many chins. A bubbling snore issued from his pursed lips, followed by a series of pig-like grunts. A trail of drool led down his chin and pooled on the pillow near his right ear. She closed her eyes tightly, hoping that when she reopened them, the grotesque whale beside her would be gone. How many years had passed since he had been able to fit into a standard-sized deck?

A tapping on the window alerted her to the presence of the tiny carrier pigeon outside her room, bobbing madly up and down as it fought to keep aloft. Her breath catching in her ivory throat, the Queen of Spades left the four-poster and carefully made her way to the window. She gasped as she saw the familiar wax seal of two conjoined hearts. Quickly, she fed the bird some spade-seed and retired to her private chamber devour its contents in the privacy of her boudoir.

My Dearest Love,

Too long has passed since our last rendezvous. My soul is crying out to hear your dulcet voice and to touch your slender, ebony-clad body. I must see you tonight. Meet me at our usual place, you know when.

Please do not deny me this meeting. I cannot live another day without holding you in my arms. I languish here, a slave to love, unable to even breathe without dreaming of you.

Come to me, my love.

Yours Desperately,

KoH

Sighing in ecstasy, the Queen of Spades clutched the letter to her gently heaving bosom. Closing her eyes, she could picture her beloved King of Hearts as clearly as if he were standing in front of her. Tall, with broad, muscular shoulders, and a dazzling smile, he was everything her husband was not. His soul was as sweet as his luscious body, he loved animals, children, and was a dab hand in the kitchen. Quite a catch, one might say. And so deliciously young...

How could she wait until tonight, to once again be in his arms, running her fingers through his silky hair, kissing his perfect raspberry-red mouth, riding his long thick co... A loud banging on the door interrupted her fantasy.

"Darling? Are you in there, darling?"

Oh damn, she thought. "Yes, my big hunk o'love, I'm just coming!"

Outside the dressing room, the King of Spades was seething. What did she take him for? Did she think he didn't know about her disgusting little trysts with that son-of-a-bitch? That he didn't know about their correspondence, the love letters, the gifts, and the plotting behind his back? Well, he'd show her. Yes, after he'd implemented his brilliant plan, the bitch would be grovelling on her knees for forgiveness. And he was going to love every second of it, oh yes she would, for she was a naughty, naughty girl...

The King retired to his bedchamber for a little private-time of his own.


Meanwhile, across FreeCell Land, in the House of Hearts, all was not well with one of the King's servants.

Standing in front of the bathroom mirror, he stared at himself, hating what he saw but unable to look away. This body, this face... this life. It was all so wrong, but he was trapped. He was merely a pawn, a worthless player in the game of life. While the world depended on the Kings and Queens to lead them to the All-Mighty Aces of Heaven, he was useless.

I'm at the bottom of the pile. What am I good for? Waiting on the King, pandering to his every whim, dressing him, brushing his teeth, wiping his royal arse. And the thanks I get? Pah! They don't even realise I'm alive. I'm treated worse than a dog, made to live in the cellar, having to exist on leftover food, wearing rags. I'd be better off dead.

He glared at the tear-stained face reflected in the mirror. If he ended it right now, no one would mourn him, there would be no funeral. His remains would probably be tossed into the strange, glowing, marshy bogs outside the kingdom, for the vultures to pick over and desecrate. Furious with himself and with them, he slammed his fist into the mirror, shattering it into a thousand shards of pointed, razor-sharp glass. The pain was like a drug to him, shooting up his arm, making him bite his lip with the sheer ecstasy it provided. He eyed the pieces of broken mirror in the sink. Before he could think twice about it, he seized one and dragged it across his arm, making a deep gash. Red ink welled out of the cut, slowly at first, and then more and more quickly until it was a stream. He closed his eyes and clenched his fist tightly, increasing the ink flow, revelling in the feelings of release. Tears streamed down his face, dripping into the sink, mingling with the ink.

A shout from upstairs: "Two! Where the hell are you? The King wants a full body massage, so get your worthless butt up here now!"

Uttering a stream of expletives, the Two of Hearts stemmed the ink flow with a bath towel and made himself look decent. He'd be back to finish off the job soon. After all, he had nothing to live for. No life, no money, no love...

Nothing at all.


"Yes, yes, YES!"

Rolling off him, the Queen of Diamonds grinned from ear to ear. God, he was good.

Beneath her, the Jack of Clubs lay limp on the mattress, trying to regain his breath. God, she was good. He felt the mattress shift and opened his eyes to find her lacing up her corset.

"Where are you going?"

"I have to get back, my husband will be worried."

"Awww, c'mon, stay a while longer." He shot her his best puppy-dog look: big black pleading eyes and a quivering bottom lip.

"J.C., honey, you knew it would be like this." She didn't like hurting him. It was only a bit of fun to her. God knew she could do with a bit of it, what with the King of Diamonds being impotent and unable to satisfy her natural urges. Of course, sleeping with a card who, at 19, was young enough to be her son, only added to the excitement. Hell, he made her feel young, and at the end of the day that was what she wanted. Her looks were starting to fade; she knew that, but when she was with J.C. she felt like a teenager again.

"Fine, go then!" He pouted childishly, which only served as another reminder of his immaturity.

The Queen of Diamonds stared at him, lying naked on the bed in before her. He really was quite exquisite. She licked her lips and smiled at him seductively. To her, his constant whinging and whining was endearing, and a real turn on. When she got bored of him, or when someone better came along, she would discard him. But until that day...

"Well, maybe I could spare another twenty minutes or so..."


"What?"

"You heard me. I have challenged him to a duel!" The King of Spades let out a guffaw as he watched his wife's face. Her look of pure horror was priceless.

"But you know the King of Hearts cannot duel! Fighting an untrained opponent is a cowardly, despicable thing to do!" she screamed at him, now in a full-blown panic. Her husband might be overweight, but he was a first-class swordsman. The duel would be a walkover. And they were fighting to the death.

"I know what you and him have been getting up to," the King informed her triumphantly, "No, don't try and deny it," he added, as she opened her mouth to protest, "I have proof!"

The King of Spades cut off his wife's pleas, and marched out of the room. The Queen of Spades threw herself into the nearest chair and commenced weeping. If the King of Hearts was killed, she would be stuck with her husband for the rest of her life. How could she bear it?

The morning of the duel dawned, bright and breezy. Sat up in the royal box, the Queen of Spades nervously shredded a paper tissue. Royalty from all four kingdoms were packed in around her, and a national holiday had been declared. The stands were full of FreeCell Land citizens, all eagerly awaiting the spectacle.

The two contestants entered the arena to raucous cheers and scattered boos from the crowd. The King of Spades turned to look at his wife, giving her a mocking look, a look that clearly stated, 'Take a last look at Lover Boy, for this is the last you'll ever see of him'.

The King of Hearts was the last into the arena, having been delayed due to a bad-hair-day. He couldn't possibly be seen out in public with unruly locks. That would be far more embarrassing for him than being routed in the duel! As he passed a stand full of young, buxom wenches, he unleashed his dazzling smile upon the world, causing a mass epidemic of swooning. His assistant handed him his sword, which he unsheathed and held up to the light. He caught sight of his handsome reflection in the shining metal, and grinned. Hell, he was going to die, but he was going to die pretty.

And so the duel began. Both cards slashed, parried, blocked and jabbed, circling each other like hawks. Around and around the arena they went, clanging swords, muttered curses, cheers of a perceived victory, groans when shots were blocked. However, a strange thing was happening to one of the contestants. As he got closer to the King of Hearts, the King of Spades became mesmerised by his beauty. The flowing ruby-red locks peeking out from beneath the helmet, the hint of rippling muscle under the armour, those pearly white teeth! He began to get quite hot under the collar.

An opportune jab from the King of Hearts brought him back to his senses as pain seared through his shoulder. "Why, you little..."

His sword whirred through the air, and ink poured from the King of Heart's chin.

"Not the face! Not the face!" the handsome King screamed, dropping his sword and clutching his chin. Shocked by the reaction, the King of Spades threw down his sword as well and bent over the bleeding card.

"I-I'm sorry!" he exclaimed. "I didn't mean to..."

Their faces were only inches apart, their breath mingling delicately in the afternoon breeze. The King of Spades could smell the ink spilling slowly from his rival's face, and he reached up and delicately ran his fingers over the King of Heart's damaged chin. Trembling, the King of Hearts raised his eyes until they met with his adversary's. Fireworks exploded and violins played Romances as their lips met.

Up in the royal box, the Queen of Spades was furious. "How dare they? How dare they! I can't believe they are doing that!" she shrieked, nearly stamping her foot through the royal box in her fury, "You there, can you believe they are doing that?"

The card she was pointing at lowered his eyes hastily. "N-no, Your Majesty. If y-you were m-my wife, I w-wouldn't want to k-kiss another card!" He flinched, waiting to be reprimanded for his cheek. When nothing happened, he opened his eyes and saw that the other queen in attendance, the Queen of Diamonds, had left her throne and was staring down at him, a dreamy look in her eyes.

"Your name?" She enquired.

"M-me? I'm the T-two of Hearts, Your Majesty."


Six months later...

"Splendid! Everything is going exactly to plan. Tonight's opening will be a triumph!" Grabbing his partner around the waist, the King of Spades planted a kiss on his nose.

"I must say, this idea of yours was pure genius, Spadey," the King of Hearts praised his boyfriend, returning the kiss enthusiastically.

"This must be the first gay bar in all of FreeCell Land. We are pioneers!"

"And here comes our new Junior Manager!" The King of Hearts greeted his new employee with a totally inappropriate bear hug and kiss on the cheek, causing the card to blush deeply.

"Now, my Heart!" scolded the King of Spades, playfully. "Don't embarrass the poor chap, he's practically married, don't you know?"

"Well, well! So you and the rather delectable Queen of Diamonds are finally tying the knot?" the card remarked, peering at Two closely through his new spectacles. The King of Hearts had always been near-sighted, but had been too vain to wear glasses, until recently.

"Y-yes. As soon as her divorce comes through." The Two of Hearts blushed an even deeper shade of red. "I still can't believe that she dumped the Jack of Clubs for me!"

"Me neither," murmured the King of Hearts. "J.C. is one hot card!"

And so peace was finally restored to FreeCell Land. Well, almost. The Queen of Spades and the Jack of Clubs didn't have very happy endings. But hey, that's life!


Epilogue

"No!" Mary screamed and sat bolt upright in bed. This couldn't be happening, not again! She had been so good for the past month; she hadn't played at all. Yet the dreams were still haunting her, they wouldn't leave her alone. Her waking moments were taken up thinking about it, and now the thoughts plagued her while she slept. The dream still played over in her mind... the affair, the duel, and the gay bar. She shivered.

Mary climbed out of bed and padded over to her desk. Hitting the button and hearing the machine purr to life, watching the screen flicker twice before glowing blue, she felt her restless soul quieten at last. Damn, she was helpless. She needed it, and she was giving in. She felt so cheap, like some sort of Freecell whore! She sighed as the familiar icon appeared on the desktop. With trembling fingers she double-clicked. A dextrous press of F2 started a new game and relief coursed through her veins.

Mary was a Freecell addict, pure and simple.

The End