Author's Note:Re-edittime! Yes, I am doing one last thing before packing my bags and going west for summer vacation, and that looking for any spacing, dialogue, spelling, or just plain weird errors in this odd little sotry of mine. Remember, folks, I own close to nothing. Jack appears courtesy of Tim Burton's brainmeats and the other holiday figures have been around for much longer than me. Billy is actually a song line made into a character, so he isn't officially mine and Vanessa, well, she's about the closest person I own. For those following my particular story timeline, this story is set one week after The Appointment. For those who aren't, well, good to know anyway, right?

"Poker Night? When are we having a Poker Night? What is poker anyway? Does it involve sharp sticks?"- Cupid, Raising Takoda

Poker Night

One by one, they stepped out of their worlds. They were a group of seven, each representing his land of eternal celebration. Tonight's festivity was to be held in the land of snowy joy and delight. However, there seemed to be a problem, as Santa Claus' face looked more stressed than jolly.

"We can't go to my place tonight," Santa Claus said, sighing gravely as he delivered the words.

"Why not?" asked Rabbi Tevel.

"One of the main toy factories broke down. The toy-making elves are working in my house until the repair elves fix the machines. It's a mess."

"What a bother," Cupid said. "I would take you all to my place, if you can deal with Mother screaming at the Muses over their upcoming gig."

"How about you, Tevel?" Santa Claus asked the rabbi.

"Torah readings at my house tonight. A lot of children are having their Bar and Bat Mitzvahs and they're practicing with their substitute."

"Patrick?" Santa Claus asked, ignoring Jack's hand, which immediately went up for attention.

"I doubt we'd all fit in my place. I was going to rent out the Mead Hall for the nights in my world, it's probably busy tonight."

"Jacob?" Santa Claus asked, pretending not to see Jack volunteering.

"I'm not even supposed to be gambling," the pilgrim said.

"Easter Bunny?"

"He can't even talk, Sandy!" Jack exclaimed, the Easter Bunny shaking his head 'no' anyway.

"Fine... Jack?"

"Actually, my world's out of the question too," Jack started. "The Mayor's been going a little batty over wedding and Halloween plans, he won't give us any peace if we go to my place."

"Then why were you volunteering?" Santa Claus asked.

"I'm representing Billy. I think we should have it at his place," Jack said.

"Can you say that?" Jacob asked.

"He's a marked soul under my territory. Besides, I'm sure he won't mind."

"Well, it's better than canceling the whole thing," Saint Patrick said amidst nods from the rest of the group.

"Then it's settled. Follow me, everyone. I know where he lives," Jack said as he marched out to a different neck of the woods with the Council in tow.

The sun had just set in Wolf Creek. Billy Colby was getting ready to go out with Vanessa on this lovely Friday night. She had been so patient with him during that whole time he was helping Jack out in the Holiday Worlds. Then again, she didn't know that was what he was up to. Billy didn't tell her, he figured she wouldn't believe him anyway. Not that any of that mattered at the moment. Now that he could make up that date with her, he was planning to go all out. Dinner, a movie, dancing, the works. Then, the doorbell rang.

"Coming!" Billy exclaimed as he finished putting a blue tie on over his black dress shirt and ran to the door. "How's it going, Sweet... what the hell?" Bill asked, realizing it wasn't Vanessa at the door midway through his greeting.

"How touching," Santa Claus said, giving a quick glare to Jack.

"Billy, it's your lucky day," Jack said. "The Council's having Poker Night-"

"That's swell, Jack, but-"

"Wait, you didn't let me finish. We're having it here."

"WHAT?" Billy exclaimed.

"I'm not sure he appreciates this," Jacob whispered to the Easter Bunny, who smirked at the remark.

"It's going to be great!" Jack said cheerfully as he allowed himself and the rest of the council in. "Set up the cards in the kitchen, everyone," Jack directed before Billy pulled him away from the group.

"Are you crazy?" Billy whispered to Jack in a harsh tone.

"We can't have it anywhere else tonight, Billy. I thought you'd like being part of the Council," Jack said in a disappointed tone.

"Not on nights when I have dates!"

"Is that what you're worried about? She can play too, no problem."

"She doesn't know about any of you."

"Good, we can all meet."

"No, Jack. Listen, I can't leave all of you here in my house all alone. That's just begging for trouble. I don't want to cancel my date either. Are you sure you can't go anywhere else?"

"If we could, we wouldn't have come here."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Billy asked before the doorbell rang again. "Crap!"

"What is it?" Jack asked.

"That has to be her. Listen, whatever you and the Council do, make as little noise as you possibly can. You stay out of my hair and you can play poker here. And for the love of God, don't let Vanessa see you!"

"We won't disappoint you, Billy. Thank you, and join in as soon as you can," Jack said as he left for the kitchen to begin the first round of poker.

This night has trouble written all over it. Can the Council and Billy's date survive under one roof for one night? Or will Vanessa find out about Billy's acquaintances from other worlds? What is the prize in this poker game anyway? Tune in for the next chapter to find out.