Time Out.

Author's Notes:

So what do villains do in their time off? Heh, I know it's an old idea, but I still like it.

My first fic ever to be posted on FF.net. It's hardly ground breaking material, but it was fun to write. It's also a great opertunity for you, the reader, to play 'spot the blantant character preferences"! Yay! Enjoy!

Disclaimer: I don't own the rights to Chrono Trigger, or any of the characters. The only thing that is mine is the story itself.

******

Flea shuffled the cards quickly and set them in the middle of the large table.

"So what this time?" He asked the two shadowed forms across from him.

"Go fish."

"You always want to play that, Slash." Flea sniffed. "Have some variety for once, please. Ozzie?"

"Rummy." The aforementioned rested his porky face on an equally podgy arm sure in the knowledge they usually ended up playing whatever it was he chose.

"Oh goodie!" Flea grinned rather coyly and began at once to fiddle the deck.

"And no cheating this time!" Slash grunted, and regarded the young magician with an unpleasant smile. "I've got my eye on you."

"Me? Cheat?" Flea looked so hurt you would almost believe it. "Why Slash, I'm disappointed. I would have thought you would have trusted such an innocent soul as myself. I put it down to your bad upbringing,"

"If I see you cheat, boy," Slash tappet his sword, The Slasher, which was always by his side. "And you will lose a hand. Perhaps both."

Flea tutted sadly and Ozzie laughed so that his green jowls quivered. Ozzie was notoriously easily amused.

Flea dealt the cards and there was silence as the trio studied their hands and got them into order.

"So," Ozzie slid the candle right on to his side of the table so that the other two could barely see their cards in the dark room. "Where's Sir Magus? I haven't seen him for about a week," He was hoping to distract the other two from the game so that his dreadful hand would go unnoticed.

"In his quarters. He's been there for days." Flea twisted the end of his pink plait in concentration.

"Doing?"

"He's still working on that Lavos project." Flea shrugged. "Apparently it's not to far from completion."

"About time." Ozzie grunted.

"I know." Flea nodded. "He's been working on it for how many years?"

"Lots." Ozzie scowled at his hand and scratched his slimy head. "And banging on about it since he was a kid."

Slash looked up at the other two and smiled slightly. He had built up a rather good hand by stealing cards from the discard pile while his comrades had been talking, four tens and two queens. He had got a good look at Ozzie's cards and knew he had one of the remaining queens and was bound to put it down any minute. Grinning green fool.

"I know- Oh Slash, you darling!" Flea pounced on the card Slash had placed down and flourished the winning hand, Aqua and three jacks. "Thank you!" He blew Slash a kiss and tossed his magenta hair.

"You git!" Slash exclaimed.

"That goes to show you cheaters never prosper." He said with a wink.

Slash and Ozzie scowled at one another, then at Flea. The were both thinking how they could indirectly punish Flea for his smarminess without being set alight, poisoned or anything else.

Ozzie picked up the deck and shuffled slowly and inexpertly with his fat fingers.

"He's been in a really bad mood," Flea said, continuing the former conversation. "I've been trying to help him with whatever boring crap it is he does, but well…I know where I'm not welcome."

Slash raised an eyebrow at this, but Flea ignored him. As a rule, Flea went out of his way to go where he was not wanted.

"Why, who wouldn't want you around?" Slash sneered sarcastically.

"I know!" Flea nodded a little sadly. "Just trying to help but…" He imitated Magus' low voice and quick hissing speech rather poorly "…your input is unnecessary, Flea." Flea sulked slightly.

"How unfortunate," Slash nodded insincerely. "Are you done with those damn cards yet, Ozzie?"

"Nearly, nearly. Don't rush me!" Ozzie dropped half the deck in his haste.

"And take those cards out of your sleeve!" Slash gave him a pointed glare.

Ozzie removed the set of nines he had stealthily hidden and narrowed his eyes at Slash. His eyes were so sunken and tiny that they just became two dark slits. He had thought they hadn't noticed.

"Oh, how am I to play with you two cheaters? Really there's no point! You should grow up and play fair!" Flea was examining his pink nails as he spoke. No one can lie so badly and still be able to look other people in the eyes.

"Really!" Slash hissed indignantly. "I bet you've been cheating all along!" His eyes darted around the room. "Watching. Looking at my cards from behind me. Casting spells and enchantments and bloody nonsense the whole time!" Magic has a tendency to unnerve people who can't use it at all. Slash, after living in a fort with so many magicians had seen so many bizarre things that he was constantly suspicious.

"We have this argument every time!" The youngest player exclaimed. "Don't lets have it again, please."

Slash's expression clearly showed that Flea's refusal to defend himself was as good as an admission of guilt.

"Oh, for crying out loud!" Flea grumbled. "Look! You can't use magic for something so trivial as a game of rummy with two imbeciles. You just can't, it won't let you. Right Ozzie?"

Ozzie nodded in agreement. He was dealing the cards ever so slowly dropping one in four so that he had memorised about half of the other two's hands. "S'right." He actually had no idea. He had only mastered a few basic spells, but he didn't want to show his ignorance. And besides, Flea was scarier than Slash.

"So you can do big fireballs, mini tornadoes and all that other rubbish," Slash drawled. "But not cheat at a game of cards?"

"Well, no. The others are done in self-defence, the middle of a fight and such. You need adrenaline to do that sort of thing. Wouldn't my life be so much easier if I could use magic to do all the little things?" Flea asked. "So no, I can't. Perhaps someone like Sir Magus can, but my skills don't run that way."

"Hmm." Slash wasn't convinced, but he never was, so they continued the game now that Ozzie had finished dealing.

There was silence once again while they got their hands into order. Flea, despite what he had said not a minute before, was trying with all his might to turn his ace of spades into an ace of hearts. After a few moments he had only succeeded in singeing the edge of the card, so he gave up. He knew from experience that his comrades always got rather unfair when his cards burst into flame, and no matter how innocently he exclaimed "Well! How on Earth did that happen?" they never believed him, for some reason.

"Did Sir Magus say how far his Lavos was from completion?" Ozzie asked. Despite his best efforts he had dealt himself an absolutely atrocious hand. Luckily, he knew, the other two's were just as bad.

"No. It was just 'not far' he said." Flea answered. The three of them had become rather disenchanted with the Lavos project in the same way people get bored of the Lottery. The chances of it actually taking place seemed so slim that it wasn't worth getting too excited over. "I swear that man could use a new hobby or something. Stamp collecting. He'd enjoy that."

"You think so?" Ozzie asked. It was very hard to imagine someone as grim and sinister as Magus getting happy over stamps.

"Well, he needs cheering up." Flea insisted. "What he needs is a good stroll in the fresh air, it would do him the world of good. And a bit of sunshine would do marvels for his complexion. It's being shut up in this fortress the whole time that's sent him weird." Flea did his Magus impression again, this time complete with an intense stare. "The black wind howls…"

Slash and Ozzie both breathed a silent sigh of relief when they heard Flea talking like this. Slash in particular was always saddled with the fear that Magus was constantly watching or listening in on him. It was well known that Magus liked to keep tabs on his soldiers. Although Magus had always treated his soldiers well, it's always a good idea not to insult someone who knows so many unpleasant things. The only person who could tell when their leader was watching was Flea, being a magician. And as Flea would never have referred to Magus as 'weird' had there been the slightest chance he would know about it. So they were free to discuss their master's quirks in fair security

"He's been saying that sort of thing since he was ten years old." Ozzie snorted. His hand was actually doing fairly well, much to his own surprise.

"Perhaps we could buy him a cat?" Flea suggested. "All gothic oddballs like cats, don't they?"

"I think we should just leave him alone until his temper improves." Slash said wisely, picking up a card.

There was silence for a few moments. Then there was an odd spluttering sound from one end of the table.

"What's wrong, Ozzie?" Slash asked. Ozzie was staring at his cards very closely.

"I think…" He put his cards face up on the table. "I think I've won." He was too shocked to say more. He had never won so much as a game of snap against Flea and Slash before. He was never organised enough to play with any degree of logic, and to clumsy to cheat.

"That can't be right." Flea and Slash leaned forward to scrutinise Ozzie's hand.

"You must have made some mistake," Slash said uncertainly.

But there was none. All three sat in silence for a few moments. Then it sunk in.

"Hah!" Ozzie gurgled. "I win!" He grinned like a sickly toad. "This must be the first game that you two weren't cheating."

The other two glared at one another annoyance. Losing to Ozzie at anything, even rummy, meant a months worth of being constantly reminded of his victory.

As fighting within the army was forbidden Slash and Flea used these card games as a chance to get one up on the other. They let Ozzie join in because he was so ridiculous it stopped their games from becoming out of hand. He wasn't supposed to win.

"Luck." Slash said at last, rather gruffly. "You have to win once. That's the laws of nature."

"And I wasn't concentrating." Flea nodded sulkily. 'Why did you let him win, you stupid man?' Flea hissed under his breath to Slash.

'It's your fault, you whiny dolt! ' Slash hissed back. 'Pay attention!'

'Prat!' Flea whispered back.

'Fruit!'

Ozzie broke their argument by guffawing loudly so that his blubber shook in waves.

"I won!" He said again. The other two rolled their eyes.

With the impending dread about the gloating that was to take place tomorrow Flea sulkily shoved the cards back in the box.

"I'm done for tonight." Flea got up from the table. Slash left silently shortly after, plotting maliciously.

Ozzie remained for several minutes all by himself, grinning from ear to ear.

"Three sixes and four kings!" he said and heaved himself up from the table, "Really, they didn't stand a chance against my intelligence and skill. Hah!"

**

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