A/N: To explain the genesis of this story would probably take up more time and effort than actually writing it. So I'm going to boil it down to a few points.
1. Jet is alive, and part of this fic. Why? Because he is.
2. This is the polar opposite of just about everything else I've ever written (with one glaring exception I'll continue to pointedly ignore). It's dorky, ridiculous, shippy, and cracky. If you're looking for a serious fic (because, hey, I write almost nothing but serious fic), you're in the wrong place.
3. Pairings! Zuko/Katara, Jet/Mai, Jet/Everyone, Mai/Ty Lee, Toph/Aang, Suki/Sokka. Don't like, don't read. I'm only slightly kidding about the Jet/Everyone.
4. I admit, I have only a rudimentary understanding of the rules of Texas Hold Em, hence why the rules are not explained in detail. Besides, as Suki says, they aren't really playing it. They're playing a game that wants to be it, but flunked out of first year.
Any questions or comments will be replied to at the end of each subsequent chapter. Enjoy!
kyoshi hold 'em
part one: half drinking game, half strip game, half gambling
It started out innocently enough, or, well, something vaguely approaching innocence. They were all down at the South Pole for the fourth annual Peace Summit, and then a blizzard had swept in, leaving everyone stranded, cranky, and bored. So, to pass the time, Zuko had suggested they play a few card games, which was met with only lukewarm enthusiasm until Iroh suggested (with childish glee) a Peace-Summit-Wide Pai Sho Tournament.
So they decided to play a few card games.
The only game that everyone had heard of was Kyoshi Hold 'Em, and even then, only Zuko and Jet had anything more than a tentative grasp at the rules, so they decided to just kind of make things up as they went. It was Sokka who suggested that every person who lost a hand had to take a shot of firewhiskey, and it was Jet who suggested making things more interesting by gambling, at first with whatever spare change everyone had on hand, and then with whatever else everyone had in hand.
Which was how Sokka had ended up in the position he was in.
"You are kidding me. There is no -- no. No way Zuko just got that. It's like, it's impossible!" Sokka glared at the other side of the table, where Zuko was nonchalantly collecting his copper pieces, re-shuffling the deck, and delicately picking through the ever-growing pile of clothes that had accumulated in front of him.
"It's called a flush, Sokka," Jet drawled, juggling a few silver pieces and leaning back in his seat. "It's hardly impossible. And he won fair and square. Lose your pants."
"C'mon, Sokka, you're not gonna be a bad sport, now, are you?"
Sokka fumed, and, blushing ferociously, stood and removed his pants, tossing them on the table with more force than was strictly necessary. "I still don't know what you're even doing here. This is an official Peace Summit."
"Oh, quiet. You're just in a bad mood because Jet's a better player than you," Ty Lee said, pulling her legs up into her chair and surreptitiously trying to get a better view. Beside her, Suki growled. She jumped, and grinned. "And anyway, you've got a terrible poker face. It's super easy to tell when you're bluffing."
"Well excuse me for never going out of my way to learn how to lie," Sokka whined. "Also, I think you cheat. All that seeing auras and stuff."
"What is going on here?"
Everyone looked up. Katara was standing in the doorway, a highly confused look on her face. She glanced over the table -- Sokka was wearing only a pair of loose training shorts, Jet was shirtless and grinning in a decidedly feral way (she paused at this; when had Jet gotten here, and what was he doing at an official peace summit?), Zuko was dealing out cards and had an impressive pile of clothing at his feet, Suki was struggling to hide the fact that she had no top on, Ty Lee was staring intently at the cards like she could see through them, and Iroh was flittering around the room while humming to himself and brewing tea. It was a rather strange set-up.
"Kyoshi Hold 'Em. Half drinking game, half strip game, half gambling," Jet replied, turning around and showing off. ("You have too many halves," Zuko muttered, but went ignored.) "Want in?"
"I can't say I've ever played it."
"That's okay," Suki said, "because we're not really playing it. We're playing a game that wants to be Kyoshi Hold 'Em, but flunked out."
"Nonsense," Ty Lee piped in, "this is the best card game I've ever played."
"You're only saying that because Sokka is about to be naked and Jet is shirtless."
"Well, yeah. Now, if we can only get Zuko out of his clothes..."
The dealer in question rolled his eyes and turned to Katara. "I can deal you in, if you'd like. You'll pick up the rules pretty fast, and Uncle can help if you need it."
"I don't know..."
"Look at it this way," Jet said, eyes glittering in a worrying fashion, "what else are you going to do?"
"No," Sokka said suddenly, as though realizing something horrible. "No way. Not happening, no."
"Why not?" Katara asked, indignant, taking the seat between Suki and Zuko.
"Don't you get it?" Sokka cried, voice raising in pitch, "he's trying to get you naked!"
There was a moment of silence. Jet coughed, and suddenly appeared to be very interested in his cards.
"Well... I mean..." Katara floundered for a bit, and then Zuko -- having just dealt her a hand and being diametrically opposed to re-shuffling again -- stepped in.
"You don't have to take off anything you're uncomfortable taking off. You can keep your clothes on if you feel like it, okay?"
"Hey!" Sokka shouted, "Not fair! She gets to keep her clothes on?"
"Yeah," Jet interjected righteously, earning a vicious glare from Sokka, "if the rest of us have to lose our clothes, so should she!"
"And when you're the dealer," Zuko responded calmly, "You can make the rules. Also, you're forgetting something really important."
"What is that?" Jet asked, making a face at his cards and laying them face-down. "I fold."
"Katara is a waterbender, on ice, in a blizzard, in the middle of an ocean," Zuko replied. "Whatever she wants, she gets."
Katara grinned. "I'm liking the sound of this. So what's the purpose of the game?"
"To get Zuko and Jet naked," Ty Lee responded promptly. Zuko choked, and sent a glare across the table. Jet simply smirked. "What? That's why I'm playing."
Suki rolled her eyes and explained the basics of the rules to Katara, who had a look on her face like this was incredibly complicated and that maybe Ty Lee's description was the most accurate. "Also," Suki said, reluctantly, "if you lose a hand, you have to take a shot of firewhiskey."
"In addition to losing your money or shirt or whatever?"
"Yeah. Blame your brother for that one."
"So, what do you get if you win?"
"Money, fame, glory, and, most importantly," Ty Lee replied, a huge grin blossoming on her face, "control of someone else's clothing!"
"Wait," Sokka said, face going white, "does that mean what I think it means?"
"Depends," Zuko replied, looking between his hand and the cards on the table, "do you think it means that I'm keeping your clothes until you win them back from me? Because... yeah, that's what it means."
"No!" Sokka shrieked. "I can't -- you'd just -- I'm practically naked! You can't do that to me!"
Zuko smirked. "Anyone else folding?"
"I am," Suki said, making a face. "I can't afford another shot of firewhiskey. Or another article of clothing."
"My pants and shoes," Ty Lee said, running her fingers through her hair.
"I'll put up Sokka's pants and Ty Lee's shirt," Zuko said, rummaging through his pile and finding the clothing. Sokka brightened considerably.
"I guess..." Katara started, unsure, "I guess I'll bet my earrings?"
"Laaaaaaame," Jet huffed.
"Says the man who folded," Zuko replied easily. "Sokka?"
He looked at his cards, and then to the pants that Zuko had pulled out and placed -- tantalizingly -- in the center of the table. "All right. I guess I'm all in."
"Woo-hoo!" Ty Lee cheered. "This is what I'm talking about!"
"All right," Zuko said, laying down his cards, "I've got two pair, Jacks and Twos"
"Three of a kind," Sokka crowed, the unmistakable sound of hope in his voice.
"What is this?" Katara asked, holding out her hand for Suki to inspect.
"Two pair," she responded. "Threes and Fives." Katara sighed, and pulled off her earrings.
Across the table, Ty Lee grinned. Sokka's heart plummeted. One by one, Ty Lee laid her cards down, drawing out the glorious moment for as long as she could. Once she had finished, she leaned back in her seat, arms crossed over her chest, smirking like she'd just been given the key to the universe.
"Full House," Zuko said, unable to keep the grin off of his face. "Ty Lee wins." Everyone turned to Sokka.
"I hate all of you," he said.
"I think I'm calling it a night," Zuko said, yawning and stretching. Across the table, Ty Lee was rifling through her pile of clothing -- second only in size to Zuko's own -- while Suki struggled to stay awake and Sokka struggled to hide as much of his body under the table as possible. Jet also stretched and nodded.
"I'm all right with that."
"No," Sokka said plaintively, slurring the word. "I have to at least get my pants back. Please? One more round?"
"Sokka," Katara growled, "It's two hours till dawn. We need to sleep."
"It's almost winter, Katara. The sun won't rise until midday. And it's still snowing like crazy anyway, so it's not like we've got anything better to do."
"Speak for yourself," Zuko said, standing up and popping his neck. "I have to do something really important. It's called sleep."
"Zuko, I implore you. One more round."
"Aw, come on, Zuko," Ty Lee whined, grinning, "we can make it an all or nothing round. If Sokka wins, he gets all of his stuff back."
"And when he loses?" Jet asked, chewing on a piece of grass. Sokka shot him a glare.
"Hmm," Ty Lee muttered, tapping her chin thoughtfully.
"How about he has to shave his head?" Katara suggested, an evil smirk on her face. There was a single moment of silence.
"I'll play for that," Jet said, and raised his eyebrows at Zuko, who sat back down.
"If Sokka's willing to risk his precious wolf-tail, then sure, I'm in."
Suki laid her head down on the table. "I am so far beyond out I can't even explain. I'll stick around to watch the inevitable shenanigans, but I'm not playing another hand. Spirits know I need to keep what clothing I still have." Her arms were still crossed stubbornly over her bare chest. Jet appeared to be desolated by this fact.
"I'm totally in," Ty Lee said, matching Katara's smirk. "Sokka?" The boy in question looked deeply mistrustful. "C'mon... If you don't play, you won't have any clothes left. They all belong to me and Zuko. Don't you want your clothes back?"
"Hey," Jet said suddenly, "I've got his left shoe."
Ty Lee rolled her eyes. "Your clothes belong to me and Zuko -- and Jet. Happy?"
"Ecstatic," Jet replied, leaning back in his chair. "One more rule. Since it's the last hand and the stakes are so high, I vote that no one be allowed to fold. Dealer, what say you?"
"Sokka?" Zuko asked, raising his eyebrows and preparing to deal. "I'm okay with the no-folding rule, but we're almost out of firewhiskey."
Sokka took a deep breath, trying to clear the drunken haze. "Okay, okay. I'm in."
"Sokka?" Aang started, tentatively. "Is there... Is there a reason you're naked? And bald? And sleeping on my flying bison?"
Appa gave a strange sort of snort, as though pleading with Aang to save him from the crazy, hungover warrior who was hiding in his fur.
"What?" Sokka replied groggily, sitting up halfway and promptly throwing up over Appa's side, all over the barn. "Ugh. I feel like -- Where are my clothes?"
"I was wondering the same thing... And your hair."
"My..." Sokka raised a hand and rubbed his now-bald head. A look of sudden, horrified realization crossed his face. "I am going to kill Ty Lee."
"She shaved your head while you slept?" Aang asked, leaping up onto the bison with Sokka, rubbing his back with as much concern as he could. "It kinda seems like something she would do."
"Well, not... not exactly," Sokka mumbled, and then groaned. "I... Well, it's a long story. Can I borrow some -- " he looked over at Aang, who, although sixteen, was still considerably smaller than he. "Actually, could you do me a really huge favor?"
"Could you find me some clothes? And water?"
Aang nodded, and hopped off Appa's back. Sokka rolled over and tried to keep from throwing up again. He tried to remember how he had ended up in the barn, on the bison's back. It was a pretty good idea -- without clothing, he couldn't very well travel out in the cold to get back to his own bed, and Appa would do a good job of keeping him from dying of frostbite. The problem was, he had been far too drunk to have come up with such a good solution. That meant someone had guided him there.
He sincerely hoped that it had been Suki, or at least Katara. He didn't trust Ty Lee or Jet with his naked drunkenness, and he somehow doubted that Zuko cared enough to get him out of the common area.
Feeling like his bones were filled with lead, he crawled off of Appa's back and lay face-down on the hay, wondering vaguely if he could just die right there.
Aang returned to the room then, a long white sheet in one hand and a massive glass of water in the other, trailed by Ty Lee and Toph (who, it should be noted, looked distinctly unhappy). "Um, well, I tried to get your clothes back, but Ty Lee said that you can't have them, for some reason? So I found you a sheet. You can wear it kind of like the nomads used to. It won't be very warm, but, well. It's better than nothing, right?" Aang grinned, but faltered at the venomous glare Sokka sent him from the floor, and hastily continued. "And I brought water."
"Did you throw up in here?" Toph asked suddenly, wrinkling her nose.
"It's called a hangover. Ty Lee, I'm gonna kill you."
Ty Lee grinned and rocked back and forth on her heels. "Riiiiight."
"No, really," he said, "Your death will be swift and painful. Why can't I have my clothes?" He stumbled to his knees, clutching a highly uncomfortable-looking Aang around the shoulders and wrapping the sheet around his body inexpertly.
"Because I won them from you, fair and square. Well, Zuko and I won them from you. Oh, and Jet."
"Won them?" Aang asked, desperately trying to extract himself from Sokka's grasp.
"In Kyoshi Hold 'Em. If he wants his money and his clothes," Ty Lee leaned forward, grinning, "he'll have to win them back."
"Or," Toph interjected, a tone of great realization in her voice, "he could go to his room, and if he feels really wild, he can put on some of his other clothes."
"Nope," Ty Lee said, shaking her head. Sokka looked like he was deeply considering mass murder. "See, Sokka here can't hold his firewhiskey all that well. He lost all of his clothes. And most of his stuff."
"I don't remember that," Sokka replied tersely.
"You were pretty drunk," she said, nodding. "After you lost your wolf-tail to Katara, you kept begging for us to keep playing, so we did. And you just kept raising the stakes until you were betting your whole wardrobe, your bed, your --"
"Oh, yeah," Ty Lee replied sagely. "You let Jet goad you into that one. Apparently, he wasn't really supposed to be here and didn't actually have a place to sleep, so he got you to bet your bed and won it."
Sokka groaned. Toph let out what could only be described as a cackle. "Oh, man. When do you play next? I want in on this."
"It's a card game, Toph," Sokka hissed, "you can't play."
"Sure I can," she replied brightly. "I'll just get Iroh to be my eyes."
"I don't know if you should," Aang said slowly, looking at Sokka. "It seems a bit... dangerous. Also, since when is Jet here?"
"He and a couple of his crew sneaked in. Something about repaying a favor to Zuko?" Ty Lee replied, and then clapped an arm on Toph's back. "And Tophy here can play if she wants to. I don't think Suki's willing to play anymore, so we're down a player anyhow. Toph can get Suki's winnings and bet with those."
"If you call me 'Tophy' again," the blind girl growled, "We will all figure out how far you can really stretch."
"Aww, but Tophy's a cute nickname. It's like the candy!"
"More pressing concerns!" Sokka shouted. "I need clothing! Why are you not helping me get clothing?"
"I already told you," Ty Lee repeated with a long-suffering tone, "you have to win your stuff back. Hey, at least I was nice enough to help Aang find you a sheet and come help you. Katara refused to do anything for you, although I think it's because she blames you for her hangover."
"Wait, Katara got drunk?" Aang said, incredulous and disappointed. Ty Lee nodded.
"Everyone got drunk. If you lost a hand, you had to take a shot. It was Sokka's genius idea. Well, I take that back," Ty Lee said, looking thoughtful. "Everyone but Zuko got drunk. I think he's got some secret immunity to firewhiskey or something."
"Wait, if everyone got drunk," Toph asked, "then why aren't you all hungover?"
Ty Lee grinned, "Because I'm smart! I drank lots and lots of water before going to bed. Hangovers are caused by dehydration, you know? So I barely even had a headache when I got up."
Sokka groaned, and leaned even more heavily on Aang. "I really, really hate you right now."
"I was even able to make it to breakfast!"
At the mere mention of food, Sokka turned an odd green color, turned his head, and threw up everywhere. Toph recoiled violently. Ty Lee winced.
"Sokka!" Aang cried, torn between helping his obviously miserable friend and escaping the mostly-naked and puking warrior. Compassion won out, and he pulled the warrior away from the puddle, helping him sit down against (a very displeased) Appa. In a show of rare grace that was surprising even from Aang, he got up and brought the now-catatonic Sokka the giant glass of water, helping him drink it and clean his mouth out.
"Sorry," Ty Lee mumbled. "Guess I shouldn't mention food?"
Toph covered her face, "No, really, Stretch? I think you should describe your meal in graphic detail. That will make him stop puking!"
"Toph, now is really not the time for sarcasm," Aang said, patting Sokka's shoulder awkwardly. "Sokka just needs some time to recover. And, well, time is on our side, thanks to the blizzard. Everyone's kind of snowed in wherever they are, so we can't have any meetings. It'll all be okay."
"All right, all right," Toph said. "Let's get Snoozles to his room."
Ty Lee coughed. "Uh, it's currently Jet's room."
There was a moment of silence. Sokka whimpered. "Oh," Toph replied, floundering a bit, her gesture of charity completely falling flat. "Well. Then. Um."
"Appa!" Aang said suddenly, jumping up, accidentally knocking against Sokka's prone form. "Oops. Appa, can you take care of Sokka until he recovers?"
Appa gave Aang a look. Ty Lee snickered, "I think Appa's been hanging around Katara too much."
"C'mon, boy," Aang pleaded. "You did such a good job taking care of him last night! It's just a little while longer. I'll get you some, um," he faltered a bit, and then quickly regained steam, "apples! I'll find you some nice, juicy apples if you just take care of Sokka." Appa groaned, but laid his head down and curled up around the semi-conscious warrior. "Good boy!"
"One problem, Twinkletoes," Toph said, as soon as they were out of the barn. "Where are you going to find apples?"
"I think Jet has some," Ty Lee mused. Aang stopped dead in his tracks.
"No... Don't tell me..."
Ty Lee winced. "You'll probably have to win them from him." Aang smacked his forehead. Toph howled with laughter.
"This Peace Summit just keeps getting better and better!"