Behold! The first Poker Night at the Inventory fanfic that doesn't involve Strong Bad and Tycho having stupid hate-love!
Aaaaaaand there goes more than half of the readers. Ah well, for those of you who stayed, here's the story. Get a drink, by the way, it's about 4000 words.
Oh yeah, it's a self-insert. I feel nothing but the greatest of shame for this now. :v
Appearances can be deceiving, you know. To many, this would seem to be a rather simple alleyway. There was rather simple brickwork cracking in the rather simple buildings, planted firmly upon the rather simple dirty concrete. A decrepit wooden ladder groaned with disappointment as the wind ached against it, swaying its balance to an uneasy rhythm. Cobwebs grew randomly and lazily around rusting streetlamps, apparently long abandoned by their past occupants. A dumpster laid absently in its own filth, mildew festering around the wall it reclined upon. To many, this would seem like any other alleyway.
But there was something special about this place. On most nights, the dusty glass from the swaying streetsign would be empty and lifeless, but tonight, it sparked with light and imagination. The alleyway was illuminated through the veil of darkness, revealing an imposing back door. It blended within the drab surroundings, grey as the crowd yet it was adorned with a single badge of honour:
I smirked, feeling the dried blood and bullet holes flicked across the plaque like the finest of Braille. This was definitely the place.
Taking a moment to collect myself in the brisk air of the autumn twilight, I stepped before the solid reinforced door and knocked three times. Almost immediately, a featureless yet calming voice beckoned.
"What is fun?"
I smirked again, the amusement prowling across my lips.
"Fun is what we make it."
Within moments, the rather simple manhole cover beneath me slid apart, and the ornate intricacies of a golden elevator surrounded me like clockwork magic. The gates closed around me with an inaudible click, before the floor beneath me descended into secrecy with a suspenseful pace.
The elevator humbled itself in somewhere that is not quite rather simple. The room spanned a narrow but far and tall length, looming around me, like an underground cathedral. The fine green walls were delicately patterned, and the musk of age permeated from every inch. Diamond shaped lamps flickered softly and warmly, suspended above upon enormous bookcases, each arranged and maintained to the letter. The oak floorboards did not dare to pass a single creak as the club guests went about their leisure undisturbed.
Stepping out of my vertical carriage, I inspected myself again, as the more voluptuously dressed members around me had given me a sudden case of insecurity. My hair was thick and long, but expertly styled and glowing bronze in the barlight. My glasses laid true and firm before me, crystal clear; my eyes – usually the colour of seastorms – were given a subtle green tint by my specs. The clothes I had chosen were casual, as I sported a fine brown jacket over a soft black shirt; a pattern of two eyes stitched shut glowered from the front. My legwear was a pair of long brown trousers, carefully inspected for any creases, and perhaps the most professional choice of clothing I had taken for the night was the dress shoes, sharp and dark but gleaming slightly with fresh polish. Finally, my scarf (which I wore no matter what the calender told me) was thickly wrapped around my lower face and neck, the brown and white horizontal stripes blending seamlessly in the wooden haven.
My self attendance was short lived, as one of the many "bookcase walls" slid open soundlessly and with no personal regard for overused clichés. A short and stout, yet somehow imposing man emerged, with the spirit of the Saturday evening radiating from him. His skin was deeply tanned, and coupled with the sailor hat proudly adorned upon his head, suggested he was a man of the sea (I resisted the urge to giggle to myself). His red robe had a crocodile leather pattern, which remained sophisticated despite being so obviously fake, and a white dress shirt was loosely hidden beneath the pompous scarlet. His nose was slightly bulbous, and his cheeks gave the image of him constantly smiling – though I couldn't tell if this was voluntary or just being a good host (as I assumed he was). The man had thick brown facial hair running from his sideburns and across the top of his lips, giving him an excessive handlebar moustache, and his eyes were as dark as rich mahogany. A cocktail that seemed almost volatile was eagerly awaiting in his right hand.
Upon seeing the elevator ascend back to the surface and his latest arrival, the sailor man brushed aside to let another elegant woman stride by, before setting his sights on me. "Oh, hello there!" He walked over with a slight waddle in his possibly tipsy state. "Another enthusiast, I presume." His voice was like that of a butler, but the tone of an old sea dog was unmistakably there. "How good it is to see a fresh face here at the Inventory..."
"Hello, sir." Being sixteen, it seemed appropriate that I address my host politely and steer him away from my frankly obvious age – not that I was particularly worried that law would come into question in a secret underground speakeasy.
He seemed to take the greeting well. "Please, call me Winslow. And may I ask...?"
"Skye." I replied, before gazing at the testament to leisure around me. "This is a very impressive club, Winslow."
"Yes, quite the safe haven, I must say. Now, I imagine you're here for the card game with the fellows downstairs." He indicated to the stage below, poorly hiding the disdain in his voice.
I could understand – my players tonight weren't exactly the gentlemanly kind. Or myself, I guess.
I gave a curt nod, readjusting my glasses. "Sure am."
"Let me lead you down there." He escorted me down the flight of stairs that lead to the main floor. As we passed down, he tilted his head back to me, looking me up and down like he was appraising an antique. "A first timer, hm?"
"At the Inventory? Yes." I neglected to mention that I had very little experience in poker. First impressions were important, especially in swanky clubs like this.
"I'm more familiar with the, uh... benefactions of the club." As we reached the bottom of the staircase, he halted by several framed documents. "The club was founded in 1919, in response to an early draft of the eighteenth amendment." He hesitated, and continued through the bar, as we passed women playing handhelds in fierce competition and a gruff hairy-knuckled man with a smile on his liquor-parched lips. "Through... 'back channels', it was learnt that this vile piece of legislation would not only outlaw libation, but games and amusements that could also 'threaten the world renowned determination and productivity of the American work force'. Pah!" He turned back to me and threw his arms in protest. "Can you imagine? Games outlawed?"
I gave a shudder in horror, momentarily glad for my British heritage, as we ventured towards the main event. "It'd be like a perpetual state of insane boredom. You know, like Wales."
Winslow gave an approving chuckle. "Quite right." He inspected the club to its finest detail as we passed a bulbous being that resembled an orange, who bounced past in an aggravated mood (whom we paid no mind, since it was perfectly ordinary). "Nevertheless, this club has been here in secret ever since, just in case those 'in charge' get another bee in their bonnet." He gave a grunt.
"Good move." I quipped, passing an abandoned board game.
He turned to me with wide arms and a wide smile. "So, welcome! And enjoy yourself."
"I'll do that for as long as my easily-punchable face can allow, sir."
Winslow's eyes darted to the commotion on the stage behind him. "Ah, your table."
He cleared his throat as I fiddled with my jacket collar nervously. "Ahem, gentlemen!"
With sudden interest, four faces turned, each observing me with scrutiny. I peered back through the transparency of my glasses.
"I hope there is room at the table for a fifth." Taking my cue, I wandered my way to the stage steps.
"Aha, fresh meat!" Said a manically interested voice – the crazy bunny, Max. It sounded like a joke, but I wasn't too sure.
"Very well. In concordance with the house rules of the Inventory, set forth by Mr. Kent upon the club's founding, any congregation of five players around a no-limit hold em' table must play for the house stakes of seventy-five dollars!" Winslow seemed to brim with excitement as I arched an eyebrow in bewilderment, taking the remaining seat amongst the relatively round table.
"This is not too much." A slow but powerful voice stated – the tremendous Russian, Heavy.
Winslow narrowed his eyes slyly. "Of course, these stakes were set in 1910, and with inflation, ooh, let's see, uh, tonight's buy-in will then be ten thousand dollars."
As casually as possible, I reached into my jacket pocket and tossed a bundle of ten thousand dollars in cash onto the table. The stringed sum bounced for a moment before resting in the middle of the five occupants.
"Chump change, I say. Chump change!" A cynical voice challenged and produced the money – the confident wrestler(man), Strong Bad.
"The die has been cast." The last voice declared with calm and relaxed inflictions – the fellow gamer, Tycho. He rounded off the sum, as the Heavy did so as well.
All eyes set on the first recipient, Max. He frowned for a moment, before perking up with eagerness. "Would you settle for a travel pack of tissues and a half-eaten jar of Maraschino cherries?"
Winslow seemed to sink into an ethereal state. "Hm... I do relish a good cherry..." He snapped out of his daydream, clearing his throat. "But I'm afraid there may be an issue of parity."
Max frowned. "I don't have any pears either." Tycho facepalmed. "Oh! I've also got thirty-eight to forty k in uncut diamonds! Buuut how 'bout my gun and badge?" Tycho double facepalmed as Max threw his treasured items next to the dollar bundles. I eyed them hungrily, my interest in the thousands of dollars completely disappearing. Max seemed to notice my newfound attention. "You know, you can't put a price on a License to Maim."
The other players were apparently content with the offer, so Winslow continued to beam enthusiastically. "Very well. The player to eliminate Max from the game will receive a pistol and a Freelance Police badge. Now, the game will be No-Limit Texas Hold-Em'. I will periodically raise the blinds." He peered at the table, apparently pleased that I had remained seated, and cupped his hands politely. "May the best player win!" He turned and wandered away, leaving me with the four potential murderers.
I sighed quietly. This was going to be a long night.
The first cards of the night were dealt as Tycho gave me an uninterested look. "So, shall we just call you Nameless Protagonist?"
"You could. But I think Skye would be more accurate." I eyed my cards; a Eight of Clubs and Nine of Spades. "It's just Skye."
"Ha!" Strong Bad raised the initial blind by two hundred. "A girly soundin' name for a girly lookin' man."
I gave a glare while watching the Heavy call. "Save it, midget."
Tycho shrugged as he folded. "Don't mind him. Amigo here couldn't reach the table without a phone book."
Strong Bad was flexing his boxing-glove-esque hands in barely concealed anger. I smirked, calling the bet.
Max met the bet as well, and the flop showed a Four of Diamonds, King of Diamonds, and Nine of Clubs.
Strong Bad checked. Heavy checked. I checked. Max checked. The turn revealed a King of Spades.
The wrestlerman raised a handful of chips. "Raisin' in the sun. Let's see you dorklords top that."
Strong Bad's attack at each man's pride had worked for the Russian giant. "I can call your bet and buy sandvich!"
I hesitated, before folding. "See you next hand."
Strong Bad snorted. "That's pretty much what a loser would do."
Despite having the physical strength of a disabled kitten, I managed to glare daggers back at him. He averted my gaze.
Max folded, and the hand ended with Heavy holding a Three-Of-A-Kind as opposed to Strong Bad's Pair of Kings. The huge man laughed heartily. "This is easy game!"
Strong Bad turned away. "Whatever, Ivan. What-to-the-ever."
A few hands and things remained relatively even. Heavy had managed to intimidate some money out of everyone (myself included) and both me and Tycho were gradually dwindling chips from the blinds. Max chipped in a relatively small raise as I guarded my Jack and Queen from prying eyes. "You know, the music in this joint reminds me of the time a bunch of hippos escaped the zoo, fell into league with a criminal blues band, and started transporting illicit goods across the East River!"
Tycho grunted angrily. "Ugh. Hippos. Corpulent brigands. Nothing like their elegant, ungulate sisters – the giraffes." His face had changed from hippo prejudice to giraffe enticement.
Max quirked his eyebrow, as did I, and everyone else at the table. "Huh?"
The gamer gave a sly, underhanded smile. "You know what I'm talking about. Those slender necks..."
Max raised the other eyebrow, while Heavy fidgeted uncomfortably. "...Huh?"
"So long and muscular... You just wanna wrap your arms around 'em..." Tycho paused mid-breath. "And then maybe your legs, just to see what it feels like..."
Everyone now shared an expression of "didn't need to know that" horror, except Heavy who seemed more confused than terrified.
Tycho leaned forward, ecstasy written across his eager face. "You just want to get up there and... sway in the fuckin' wind!" He exclaimed, gazing at the other players. It was only then that I realised that Strong Bad had moved his chair backwards by about three strides, and that my horror-stricken hands were trembling.
Tycho paused for a moment. "No? Is that not...? Oh, okay." He sat back, letting the awkwardness sink in.
After ten seconds of complete silence, I shook my head. "Bloody hell, man, I'm furry and even I found that just..." I leaned back in the chair, trying to never look Tycho in the eyes ever again. "...Just." I was speechless.
As we dealt the next hand, Max was giving me a perplexed look.
...Wait, did I just say I was furry in front of the anthropomorphic rabbit? ...Ah, cockchortlers.
Max had won a good deal of money with a good deal of luck. Most of it was mine. I seethed with irritation; I was one Heart away from a Flush.
Strong Bad tilted his oblong head around, staring at the underground hideout. "I wonder if this dump is haunted..!"
"Oooh, I hope so!" Max brimmed with excitement. "There's something about being able to terrorise a spectral being without it up and dying on you that I just love!"
Of all people, Heavy seemed nervous and looked down shyly. "I do not like ghosts..."
I raised, content with my Pair of Threes. "Headless ones?"
Heavy shivered, despite the warm air of the nightclub. "Especially the headless ones."
Max somehow defied physics and smiled even wider. "It's okay, Mr. Weapons! I've got extensive experience with zombies and vampires. I can handle a little ghost." He met my bet with little hesitation, as the turn showed another Three. Beautiful. I hoped that my scarf would mask my huge smug grin.
"You will take care of ghost for me?" Heavy asked.
"You betcha!" Max, once again, did the impossible and made his smiler happier.
Heavy paused. "...I like you, tiny rabbit."
"That's going in the Crowning Moment of Heartwarming page, kids." I quipped. Luckily, I didn't manage to break the mood – beating the Heavy's Two Pair was what got the tension back.
I had managed to get my money back to roughly my starting value, while Tycho and Max had pooled more from Heavy and Strong Bad. Tycho glanced at the mostly empty bar. "All this card playing has me a bit parched. I could use a stiff drink."
"What's your poison, nerdmonger?" Strong Bad hesitated, before folding and leaning back.
"Smirnoff Ice, mixed with Coke, twist of lemon and lime, and topped with a little umbrella. Preferably purple. Everything is better with a little purple umbrella. Everything." I followed suit and folded, suddenly thirsty.
Strong Bad sighed. "That's nice and 'el feminito', specs, but I meant the flop monster over there."
Tycho shrugged off the insult. "A gin fizz, depending on the occasion."
"Ha! You're a girl! You pledged to a sonority in college, and you learned to make that drink there." Strong Bad grinned as Tycho folded as well; this flop was not going to go for everyone's favour. "Now, the big beefer? The morning pukies? The dirty sweat sock? Those are the drinks of champ-peen-yons."
Tycho watched as Heavy won by default, after his frighteningly large bet. "How about you, Heavy Weapons Guy? I'm gonna go on a limb and say you're a Vodka guy."
Heavy used his huge muscular arms to rake in the cash. "Peach Bellini. But bubbles can give me headache."
Tycho and I exchanged surprised looks.
Ah well, always something to surprise you...
"The Heavy has been eliminated from play." Winslow announced. Tycho grinned, as Heavy had met his All In like a baitted fish. I tried futilely to hide my awe; Tycho had a Full House with Kings and Queens. It was like a royal display of luck that I could only wish for.
The Heavy Weapons Guy growled. "Hm, beat me once? Shame on me. Beat me twice?" He looked away. "Also shame on me." Tycho shook his head, before Heavy straightened up and glared with pure rage. "Beat me three times?" Suddenly, his face fell. "I am sent to my death."
Max was agape with shock, Strong Bad fidgeted uncomfortably, Tycho leaned back with apparent guilt, and I accidentally let out a sad sniffle. The mercenary walked away and took his own seat at a booth near the stage. There was no one else there, and he did not order any drinks – just seemed to zone out.
I pawed at my jacket collar again with nervousness. "...Poor git."
Strong Bad took it upon himself to relight the night's fire. "Well, yeah, he's definitely poor now. Poor like a zero. Blank-oh."
"Strong Bad has been eliminated from play." The words seem to echo in my mind, and there was no doubt that they were reverberating through the trumpets of angels to Tycho.
"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" Strong Bad screamed, shaking his fists. The three of us remained unphased by his clichéd display. In a childish strop, he edged away from the table and wandered past the bar and to the Blaster Master Arcade Machine in the corner. Admittedly, he seemed to return to his confident self again within seconds, as he mashed the buttons powerfully.
Tycho counted his chips. "B-b-b-b-b-balla'."
"Tycho has been eliminated from play." I barely contained a thankful sigh – it had taken a lot of time to whittle Tycho down with wild guesses and bets that I should never have made. Thankfully, he had been forced to go All In on a Two Pair, while I had a Three-Of-A-Kind. Gotta love the Jacks.
"Ugh, fine. Time to just-" Tycho reached into his pockets, when he suddenly stopped as four men were now standing around the poker table. Max was holding his Lugermorph pistol with a bemused expression on his face, Strong Bad was unusually threatening with his Nunchuck Gun aimed at Tycho's head, Heavy was spinning a weapon bigger than myself and revving bullets that could rip anyone here to shreds, and I suddenly felt self-conscious having reached into my coat to produce Envy's Talon (my precious knife, which I would have bet had I not "ran into" the ten thousand dollars).
As I questioned how the guys had managed to reach the table in less than a heartbeat, Tycho slowly raised his right hand. "-to just finish the second half of this chewy granola bar, guaranteed to cheer me up after losing a king's ransom!" He waved the bar, seeming insulted. "Jesus crunchy Christ!"
Heavy unrevved his minigun. "...Oh."
Max dropped his pistol. "Whoopsy!"
I pocketed my knife. "I knew that."
Strong Bad retained his aim. "Hand it over."
Tycho shook his head with frustration, before he and the others left for the bar.
Suddenly realising who was left, I turned to Max. The rabbit had put his paws up, leaned back on his chair casually, and had an indifferent look on his face. He was relaxed. Too relaxed.
I was already nervous.
It had been a tug of war over the chips for a good ten minutes until now. I was getting that bloody badge.
My cards. King of Diamonds and Ten of Diamonds.
"Check." I tapped the table.
His cards. Apparently good. He didn't seem to hesitate.
"Raise." He threw ten thousand dollars worth of chips onto the table. My eyes widened with surprise, before I quickly reset them.
"...Call." I wasn't going to back down now.
The flop. Ace of Spades, Ace of Diamonds, and Four of Clubs.
"Check." Max seemed not to notice the two aces sitting in front of both of us.
Time to do what I do best. Lie.
"All in!" I tried to sound as confident as possible, pushing my chips into the center.
"Ooooooh!" Max seemed in awe at my manoeuvre.
Right then, give me some dosh.
"I'm doing it – All In!" Max retaliated.
He turned his cards. An Eight of Spades... And an Ace of Hearts.
I tensed my knuckles as the river appeared. A Six of Diamonds.
Max was picking his teeth absent-mindedly while I was literally shaking in my chair with fear.
The river. Last card of the night. It turned.
Jack of Diamonds. My lucky card.
Good to see you, mate. Damn fine bloody good to see you.
"Frustration!" Max was beaming with happiness despite the turn of favour.
"Max has... Three-Of-A-Kind." Winslow stated. "Skye has... A Flush!" He exclaimed, waving himself with an imaginary fan over the anticipation. "Skye wins the tournament!"
Max frowned momentarily as he reluctantly pushed his pistol and badge to my side of the table. I mirrored his frown despite my newfound wealth, but he suddenly reversed and gave another beaming grin. "En-joy! Don't put your mouth on that, though! I can't speak to its cleanliness."
I watched Max bounce from the table with confusion. He seemed completely fine with his loss. Trying to shrug off my lack of understanding, I held the possessions I had claimed like they were the finest of artefacts.
After a moment of deliberation, I nodded to myself and headed to the bar. Time for a victory drink. Preferably some Smirnoff Ice, mixed with Coke, twist of lemon and lime, and topped with a little umbrella. Preferably purple.
After Winslow offered me a briefcase to keep my winnings and I noted to myself how many clichés my evening had contained, I ventured to the bar. The other four players were reclining there, which was why I tried to be as conspicuous as possible.
Strong Bad was drinking a plain beer and Tycho had gotten his Gin Fizz, while Heavy was unbalanced on his barstool over his Peach Bellini, and Max had no drink and instead chose to support the enormous Russian from his bubbly headaches.
I seated next to Tycho, and asked for my specific drink order as quietly as possible. Regardless, Mr. Brahe turned to me. "Max tells me you won."
Hesitation sank in, knowing that at least half of the four men now turning to me had armed weapons on their person. "Lucky break."
The Heavy got up and lumbered over to me. I stared up at the gargantuan man and it was painfully obvious that despite my deep fringe, tinted glasses, and thick scarf, I was very close to pissing myself with fear.
Suddenly, the Heavy bellowed with laughter. After I pinched myself to make sure reality was in check, the huge man crouched down and grinned. "I did not think little baby man had it in him!" He lightly tapped me on the arm (which left a bruise but I wouldn't dare to complain).
Strong Bad shrugged. "Yeah, it's cool. Whatever. What-to-the-ever." His indifference was nonetheless a thumbs up.
Tycho passed me my ordered drink. "You levelled up, broski."
Max didn't say anything. I took my second cue for the night and flung his pistol and badge across the bar. He stared at them fondly for a moment, before turning to me. "Hey, uh, I thought you won those? Were we playing Hearts again and no one told me?"
"Nope. I just don't want them."
There was a pause.
"Okay, I do, but I need you to keep that stuff. Can't have my favourite Freelance Policeman not shooting up half the city for the sake of justice and cheap violence." Despite the scarf, my smile seemed to show.
Max went beyond all thought and reason and for the third time of the night, gave a smile so enormous that it seemed to consume everyone in pure happiness. "If you ever need anyone rough-housed by a crazy sociopathic lagomorph, you got me on tap!"
Heavy chortled again, slapping me on the back – this time, it didn't leave any accidental bruises. "You are credit to team!"
I sighed contently. "Damn right I am. Which is why you're all going to buy me my drinks for the night, aren't you?" I laughed again.
Yes, I am really that much of a tool in real life. No, I am not that good at poker. Yes, I am that lucky at poker.
Anyway, hope you enjoyed it. It was originally two parts for a theme challenge, but thought I'd share it. Feel free to rip it apart - criticisms about the lack of Strong Bad and Tycho hate-love will be noted and/or ignored like the cries of a diseased kitten.