"Card Trick" by Tris

A/N: I know I should be upbeat about my writing and present it with a flourish, but sorry I'm too burned out. This is the third draft, I'm frustrated and can't think of how to make this story better. It's okay, but...I just dunno.

Disclaimer: Markus Vaughn and Victor Niguel belong to Atlus. TCGeek, I believe, was the inspiration for this story, with her requestfic "Gin" (requested by me, no less. :) So anyway...whatever, here's the story.


"What time is it, Vaughn?" Victor grabbed for Markus' watch, bursting the personal space bubble.

"Look, why don't you head back to Caduceus? I know you were planning to cook something up on your Bunsen burner."

Victor hunched forward. "Sidney made me swear I would stay until your plane came. Otherwise, believe me Vaughn, I would be gone gone gone. I would have pushed you out the car door and hit the gas."

"I was wondering why you were still here. Hey, you alright?"

"Ugh, I have the gross weekend feeling." Victor shoved his bony fingers up through his hair. "It's too bright, too hot, too quiet and too unproductive. I need to get back to the lab. Damn it…why did I have to drive you? Why couldn't you have taken a cab?"

"Sidney wanted—"

"Look Vaughn, I seriously don't care. Just shut up. Wait—first tell me what time it is."

"1:35."

"And what time is the plane—"

"1:00."

"So that means we've been-"

"Sitting awkwardly together for about an hour, yes."

Victor groaned.

"You could take a nap if you want."

"Sleep is for the weak."

"Right."

They watched a kid run screaming past them holding a candy bar.

"We could talk about medical mysteries, ya know, stuff doctors are still trying to learn."

"There are no mysteries left in life."

"Oh really?"

"Aids has been wiped out, which personally I think should have ushered in the apocalypse. GUILT and Stimga, of course, are history. Nothing new to investigate there." He paused to give a sigh, which didn't strike Markus as a particularly content sound. "We've just about got cancer pinned down, and I plan on popping a champagne cork in a private party when we finish that 100 percent reverse effect Alzheimer's injection."

"But…surely there are some things we still have to explore, uncov--"

"Nope. We know it all, there's nothing we can't understand and explain. Hey, where are you going?"

"You'll see." Markus smiled mischievously over his shoulder. He was back in a few minutes, holding something in his hand.

"Cards."

"Mm--hm." Markus settled himself back in his seat and opened the small red and white pack. "Know any card tricks?" His hands kept up a smooth shuffling of the cards in his palm. "I don't make it widely known, but I know quite a few."

"Hooray for you. I assume there's no escape for me now."

"That's right. You'll have to grin and bear it. Okay, let's see if you know this one. I'm going to shuffle the cards, moving the top to the bottom, and just stop me when you see a card you like. I'll do that three times." Markus' whole face and body were emanating a quiet energy and mischief.

Victor frowned suspiciously. "Well, okay. Start shuffling then." His piercing black eyes watched as Markus shuffled the cards.

"That one."

"Okay." Markus selected the card and lay it facedown on the seat between them. His hand twitched slightly, and Victor caught the faintest flicker of black. "Two more times now."

"That one…and that."

"Great." Markus lay all three selected cards facedown in a row. As he knocked the rest of the cards into an orderly rectangle, he frowned in deep thought. "There is the ace of hearts, that's the queen of hearts and the one in the middle is the five of diamonds."

"This'll be good."

"So turn them over."

Victor carelessly flipped over the first. Queen of Hearts. Now the second. Ace of hearts. A grin spread sneakily over his face. "So this has got to be the five of diamonds, eh?"

"Should be."

"Lovely red rocks just waiting for us to dig them up?" Victor saw the uneasiness

on Markus' face and grinned even more maliciously. "Well, let's get out our pickaxes!"

He started to reach for the card to flick it face up, and just before he dropped his eyes to the seat he saw the unease on Markus' face to switch to disappointed embarrassment.

"Yeah, you do that," he said, rubbing the back of his neck and forcing a laugh.

Victor's fingers hovered.

Markus smiled stiffly. "Don't you want to see?"

"Of course I do," Victor shot back, stretching out his fingers and brushing the card's glossy back. A screaming roar streaked across the sky and there was a flash of silver.

"Ah, wouldn't you know. There's my plane!" Markus' voice was relieved.

"It's just as well." Victor grabbed the card and pocketed it with a grin. "I'll look at it in my own good time, Dr. Vaughn. I can do without your theatrical airs."

Markus grinned, brushing a strand of hair from his face and conveniently wiping off a drop of sweat with it. "Well, as you like it. You may as well keep the deck then, it's not much use split between two people. Call it a souvenir." His grabbed his luggage and headed for the tunnel. "Sayanora, Dr. Niguel."

Victor nodded and walked away, swiping his jacket and the cards on his way out of the terminal. As he slid the cards back into the pack and pocketed it, he glanced at the airplane waiting in the runway. "A souvenir, hm?"

The End

A/N: Hm, indeed. Anyone want to guess what it's a souvenir of?