A/N: A Secret Santa present for Tamchronin back at Tsukimineshrine. The prompt was Eriol & Syaoran (pairing optional) playing cards. So here the boys are, doing just that. Enjoy!


"What the hell are these? These aren't playing cards!"

Eriol grinned. "Actually, they are exactly that. They just happen to be from Spain."

"Since when do you go to Spain?"

"Since I moved to Europe. You do remember that I moved to Europe, don't you? Yes?" He took the scowl and the rolled eyes to be a 'yes'. "Kaho and I had a lovely time in Barcelona, by the way. I'm sure she's already told Sakura-chan all about it -"

"Cut the crap. What are we playing?"

"Escoba. I assume I must teach you how to play?" Eriol started his explanation only after hearing an indistinct grunt. One of those days he was going to teach the child to speak using proper words, but that day wasn't today. "You should enjoy it, Syaoran-kun. It is a game bringing together cunning, wit, and mental agility all at once. It is, as they say, a game of tricks."

"Right up your alley, then isn't it?" Syaoran grouched, his mouth turned up in a wry smirk.

Eriol, however, kept on talking as if the smart remark had never left his friend's mouth. It obviously pressed Syaoran's buttons more if Eriol ignored him every so often, and even though he was actually an adult in the body of a pre-teen, that didn't mean his physical age didn't sometimes rub off on him. Like now. As he continued explaining the rules and objectives, he could practically see the competitiveness radiating from the boy across from him.

As always, Eriol found the urge to laugh almost irresistible. Almost. But not quite. He had a strong feeling that his laughter might just land him in the hospital and he really didn't feel like going through those inevitable hassles at the moment.

"Shall we play?" His unspoken challenge hung in the air during the brief moment it took Syaoran to answer.

Do you think you can beat me?


"Loser has to run naked through the snow." Yes, Eriol admitted to himself, that was a little sick and extreme even for him. But the game was getting much too tense. In fact, he could see the crack Syaoran had made in the table top the last time he'd slammed his card down (unnecessarily, Eriol added). So this was his solution to the problem.

"WHAT?!" Unfortunately, judging by the seven shades of red Syaoran was flushing at the moment, his ploy hadn't worked that well. "You can't be serious!"

"Afraid you're going to lose?" Eriol taunted, realizing that maybe his plan had worked, just not in the way he'd thought. He certainly had thrown his opponent off his balanceā€¦


He was a little ashamed to admit it, but he'd almost resorted to using some discrete magic. He hadn't though, because at the last minute his brain kicked into full gear and realized he had an escoba and he could get all the sevens and thus beat out Syaoran by two points, but the memory of his momentary desperation still haunted him a bit.

The memory didn't stop him from feeling the little swell of winner's pride as he watched Li Syaoran's pale figure sprinting away from him through the snow banks to the woods nearby, though. Not one bit.