A/N: This story is in response to a challenge presented in The Reviews Lounge, Too forum by yours truly. I thought that if other people got to have fun with the idea, I wanted to try it too. The challenge is as follows:
Successfully integrate our official RLt mascot, the moose, into a story along with the themes of brotherly love (or even romantic love) into a story of your choosing. Any length, any genre. Be open-minded and creative.
A quick background for the story is that it's set shortly after Games. The rest should be self-explanatory. Thank you.
Disclaimer: SeaQuest DSV and its characters are not my creation. They are the creation of Rockne S. O'Bannon as a 1990's television series. This work of fanfiction is for entertainment purposes only and is not for financial gain. I am just borrowing the characters for a bit and promise to return them unharmed and in their original condition, maybe just a bit happier.
The Moose on seaQuest
It was early morning, and Nathan and Kristin were in the mess hall. He'd been helping her learn the game of poker ever since her run-in with Rubin Zellar; she was actually becoming quite good at Texas Hold 'Em. Chess had always been her game before that, but he could certainly understand her aversion to it now. They'd been waking up early every morning for the past week, and he'd been giving her private lessons.
He looked over the group of cards in his hand and the ones laid out on the table in front of them. All he had was a pair of threes, but he couldn't let his opponent know that. He glanced over at her.
Kristin had a very wide grin on her face, telling him she had something good. She noticed him looking at her and tried to put on a poker face, but she failed miserably.
Nathan put his cards down and pointed a finger at her. "You need to stop doing that." But he couldn't help but smile as well.
"I know, I'm trying," she insisted.
"Well, try harder," Nathan ordered gently. "If you want to be good at poker, you need to master the poker face."
"I'm already good at poker. I've beaten you the last three hands."
"That's because it's just you and me. And we're not playing for real money. What are you going to do when-"
At that moment, the mess hall began to buzz with excitement as the rest of the day crew woke and filed in for their breakfast.
Some of the senior staff noticed the captain and doctor sitting at the back of the mess.
Lucas sat down first. "Good morning," the young man greeted. "How are the poker lessons going, Doc?"
Nathan and Kristin both returned the greeting.
"They're going," Kristin replied cheerfully. "I've beaten the captain in the last few hands."
"But she needs to stop smiling when she has a good hand," Nathan added. "But really, I'm impressed with her. She's a fast learner."
Kristin gave a look of mock anger. "Did you think I wouldn't be?"
Before Nathan could answer, Ben took a seat. "Hello, hello," he said in his always optimistic manner. "How are you all this fine morning?"
"And what makes it so fine?" Nathan inquired.
"Have you forgotten what day it is?" Ben asked, picking up the cards and giving them a shuffle to emphasize his point.
"That's right," Lucas replied. "Poker night!"
"Poker night?" Kristin said. She looked at Nathan. "You let him play poker?" She motioned to Lucas and raised an eyebrow.
Nathan looked a little sheepish. "It's just for fun, and it helps him feel included," Nathan defended. "We don't play for real money."
Lucas shook his head. "No, we play for stakes much higher than that." He gave Ben a look. "Like pride. Last week, Ben became my personal slave because I won." He had a very mischievous smile on his face as he gave Ben's arm a pat. "How about a repeat performance? I'd like that."
"I don't think so, kid. You just got lucky," Ben countered.
"Okay, I think that's enough. Save it for later," Nathan interrupted. "Before we have any fun tonight, we have work to do, understood?"
Ben and Lucas both mumbled an, "Aye, Captain."
Kristin held back a snicker at the two of them. "Well, I suppose as long as it's just for fun, I approve," she said to Nathan.
Katie, Tim, and Chief Crocker joined the group. The rest of the senior staff sat nearby at the surrounding tables, each of them talking about the upcoming poker game.
"I never knew you played poker every Friday night," Kristin finally commented.
"Well, only every Friday we have free. Of course, missions come first," Nathan replied.
"You know, Doc, now that you're familiar with the game, you should join us," Lucas said.
Katie smiled and nodded. "It certainly would be nice to have another woman in the group."
But Nathan shook his head. "I'm not sure the doctor's ready for-"
"It sounds like fun," Kristin agreed. "What time?"
"1900 hours," Ben replied. "Sharp; and we're in the captain's quarters."
Kristin wiped her mouth with a napkin and stood, ready to put her empty dishes away. "I'll be there."
After a long day, Kristin finished up in the lab for the evening. She stopped in her own quarters to change and then made her way to Nathan's. As she was turning the corner, however, she saw something she didn't expect and let out a scream, for standing before her was a moose.
As she was trying to calm her pounding heart, she heard laughing and saw the faces of Ben and Lucas appear from behind the moose. She then realized it was just the head and the horns. It was stuffed.
"What is that?" she managed to choke out.
"Sorry, we didn't mean to scare you," Lucas told her.
"This is our mascot," Ben explained. "We bring him to every poker game."
Ben and Lucas nodded in unison.
"He's our good luck charm," Lucas said.
"I see," Kristin replied, sounding offended. "Why a moose exactly?"
Ben shrugged. "Why not?"
Before Kristin could reply, Nathan's cabin door opened. "I thought I heard voices out here. Don't be shy; come on in." And upon seeing what Lucas and Ben were carrying, he continued, "Oh, I see you've brought the moose."
Ben and Lucas entered, carrying the moose in. Kristin stopped in the doorway and spoke to Nathan, "You know about this?" She pointed to the moose.
Nathan shrugged. "Of course I do. He's our mascot. You don't like it?"
"Well…" She was trying to think of a good reason not to like it. "Well…I think killing animals for sport is disgusting."
"Would it make you feel better if I told you I found it?" Ben asked her. "It's not like we killed it ourselves."
"Dare I ask where you found it?" Then, she thought twice. "Please, don't answer that."
Ben smiled. "You wouldn't believe me if I told you anyway."
"Um, so what do you do with it exactly?" Kristin said after a moment. Ben and Lucas had propped it up on a chair in the corner of the room, and she didn't like the fact it seemed to be staring directly at her.
"Before a game, everyone gives it a kiss," Lucas explained.
Nathan nodded. "It's just a little good luck ritual, like basketball players wearing lucky socks to every game."
"Yeah, it's harmless," Ben agreed.
Kristin simply nodded, but she told herself there was no way she was kissing that thing. She tried to find a chair where it didn't seem to be looking at her, but to no avail. She tried to pretend it wasn't there as the rest of the crew arrived.
Once everyone was seated, the cards were dealt as well as the chips. Kristin breathed a sigh of relief then since no one had mentioned the moose. She hoped that perhaps they had simply been joking with her. Although it was some rather elaborate lengths to go for a joke, digging up a moose head and all, she wouldn't put anything past Ben. She shook her head and looked at the cards in her hand. But then, she heard Chief Crocker shout, "Don't forget to kiss the moose!"
Everyone stood and lined up in front of the chair where the moose sat. And one by one, Kristin watched as they all kissed the stuffed moose head. She thought it looked absolutely revolting. When everyone else had gone through the ritual moose kissing, Chief Crocker gave her shoulder a gentle squeeze.
"You're the last one, Doc," he said.
"Oh, um, I'd rather not," she muttered.
"But you have to!" Crocker countered. "It's bad luck if you don't."
Kristin rolled her eyes. "Oh, please; it's just a silly superstition. There is no way that moose helps any of you win!"
"Sure, it does," Ben insisted.
Kristin looked at Nathan. "I can't believe even you buy into this nonsense!"
"Oh, he didn't used to," Ben replied. "That was until he started losing. Then he started kissing the moose. And guess what? His game got better."
Nathan nodded. "I can't explain it."
"Well, I think I'd rather take my chances, thank you very much," Kristin replied, giving them all an annoyed look.
"But, Doc," the others began to protest.
"Now, now," Nathan said, motioning for the others to quiet. "I think that if the doctor doesn't want to participate in our ritual, we shouldn't force her. Now are we going to sit around arguing or are we going to play some poker?"
The others all took their rightful places at the table and picked up their cards. It wasn't long before chips were anted and the game got on its way.
Everyone seemed to be having fun save for one person. Kristin didn't know if it was just beginner's luck…or rather bad luck, but she couldn't seem to get a good hand to save her life. By the end of the fifth hand, she had the least amount of points.
Ben noticed the dismayed look on her face, leaned over and whispered, "Guess you should have kissed the moose."
She turned back to him and said, "The game isn't over yet, you know."
"You're right," Ben agreed. "But just remember that the loser has to do whatever the winner wants. And right now, that winner happens to be me." He flashed her a satisfied grin and turned to Lucas. "Just like taking candy from a baby."
"Not if I have anything to do with it," Kristin countered confidently. She picked up the two new cards that were dealt to her. She was just about to turn them over when Chief Crocker tapped her gently on the shoulder.
"Are you sure you don't want to kiss the moose? It's not too late," he said.
"No thank you, Chief. I'm fine."
"Whatever you say."
Kristin turned back to the cards in her hand. But when she looked, she had a two of hearts and a six of clubs; no, they weren't very high cards, but that didn't mean anything. But as the cards on the table were turned over, she had absolutely no points whatsoever. She pretended as though it didn't bother her. Maybe she was getting good at this poker face thing after all. She traded her cards as per the rules to the dealer and was given two new ones. And when she looked at them, she couldn't believe it; there in her hand was now a six of hearts and a two of clubs.
She shrugged. That still didn't mean anything. All she had to do was bluff. Certainly, she'd seen Nathan do it plenty of times. It couldn't be that hard. Just remember not to smile, she thought to herself. Pretend you're angry…at Ben. She did her best, but failed miserably because Ben won that hand.
And for the rest of the night, she found that she had very little luck. As the points were added up, she had the lowest score of the night by the time the game was over.
As they began to pack up for the night, Lucas said, "I'm telling you, Doc, it's because you wouldn't kiss the moose."
"That's fine," Kristin replied as though it didn't bother her. "Perhaps I'll have better luck next week?"
"So you don't care that you lost?"
She shook her head. "No."
"That's because I haven't cashed in on my winnings yet," Ben told her. "Hmm," he said, thoughtfully rubbing his chin. "I think breakfast in bed sounds nice."
"Very well," Kristin said. That didn't sound so bad.
"For a week."
She sighed. "Fine."
"And perhaps a foot rub while I eat?" Ben added.
Kristin crossed her arms and gave him a glare.
"On second thought, I could do without the foot rub," Ben recovered quickly.
Kristin patted his arm. "Good. I have to hand it to you, you won fair and square."
"Because of the moose," Lucas insisted.
"Whatever," Kristin said. Then she had a thought. Maybe there was something to this moose thing, but she wasn't going to let on.
One by one, the crew members began to say their goodnights and left. But Kristin, Ben, and Lucas lingered.
Kristin approached the stuffed moose head, which was still sitting on the chair in the corner. She examined it. She finally asked, "Does he have a name?"
"No, we just call him 'the moose'," Lucas said.
"Well, that doesn't seem very original."
"What are you saying? If he had a name, you'd kiss him?" Ben teased.
"No, of course not. I just think he ought to have a name is all. He's sort of like a pet, isn't he?"
"I suppose," Ben said. "Fine; we'll call him Lucky. Does that suit him?"
She shrugged. "Fine by me."
Nathan, who was wiping down the table with a washcloth, finally spoke up, "I think Lucky suits him."
"Too bad he wasn't lucky for the doc," Lucas quipped.
"All right, I think that's enough for the night. Don't you need to be in the lab early in the morning?"
Lucas nodded. "Yeah, I guess I better get to bed." He turned to Ben. "I'll help you take Lucky back to your room."
"Wait!" Kristin cried.
Everyone turned to her with questioning looks on their faces.
"I, uh…well, perhaps I could get better acquainted with him? Maybe you could just put him away tomorrow?" she suggested.
Nathan nodded. "Sure, he can stay here for the night."
"Fine, goodnight," Lucas called before leaving the room.
"Goodnight," everyone returned.
"See you bright and early, Doc," Ben replied triumphantly.
"Yes, yes, Mr. Krieg. Goodnight," Kristin answered.
As the others left, Nathan turned to her. "You want to get better acquainted with Lucky? You wouldn't happen to be buying into our little superstition now, would you?"
"Certainly not!" she defended. "I don't believe in it for one second. I just thought that if I stared at him long enough, I at least wouldn't find him quite so repulsive. I assure you, I will not be kissing this moose; not now, not ever!"
Nathan laughed softly. "Whatever you say. Well, if you don't mind, I'll leave you and Lucky alone. I'm a little hungry after that rousing game, so I'm going to the galley for a snack. Can I bring you anything?"
She shook her head. "No, thank you. I'm not going to stay long. Lucas isn't the only one who needs to be in the lab early."
"Right," Nathan replied. "Well, goodnight, Doctor. I hope you'll be joining us next week?"
She nodded. "Oh, yes, I had a lovely time."
"Good. See you tomorrow then?"
"Tomorrow," she confirmed. "Goodnight, Captain."
With that, Nathan left the room, leaving Kristin and Lucky alone.
Kristin sighed and stared at the moose for several minutes. She leaned forward and rubbed its snout. "Well, I guess you are kind of cute. And I really don't want to lose again. I am not looking forward to serving Ben breakfast in bed all week."
She then stood upright again and looked around the room, as if someone might be watching her. When she was sure she was alone, she leaned forward again and placed a peck on the moose's snout.
But at that moment, the cabin door opened and Nathan reappeared. "Caught ya'," he teased gently.
"I thought you were going to the galley," Kristin said, crossing her arms over her chest.
Nathan shrugged. "So I lied." And then in his best Kristin voice he said, "I assure you, I will not be kissing that moose; not now, not ever!" He gave her a smile. "I guess we're both guilty, hm?"
"Okay, fine, you caught me. I just decided I couldn't risk losing again. I don't particularly like the thought of being Mr. Krieg's personal maid, you know. I thought next week, I might turn the tables. And if Lucky here can help that along, I might as well try it." Then she became slightly dismayed. "You won't tell the others, will you? I made such a big deal about not giving in to superstitions; I'm not sure they'd ever let me live it down."
"Oh, all right; your secret is safe with me…on one condition."
"Anything," Kristin promised.
"You make sure you beat the pants off Ben next week. I don't want everyone thinking I'm a bad teacher," Nathan said.
She gave him a small hug. "Done. And thank you."
"No problem." Then he waved a hand. "Oh, but I think you ought to go brush your teeth. Someone has moose breath," he teased.
She gave his arm a push. "Oh, stop."
"Sleep well, Nathan. And goodnight to you too, Lucky," Kristin called as she left the room.