“You don’t honestly expect me to believe that you—the devil—don’t know how to play poker, do you?” Adam says.
“Why does this surprise you?” Lucifer asks. Adam’s expression is blatantly skeptical. He’s tempted to enlighten the insolent brat as to just how unattractive his face is all scrunched up like that, but Michael always gets so tetchy when he feels his precious vessel has been slighted; it’s just not worth the fuss. “You know very well that I am unfamiliar with human pastimes other than those you have seen fit to introduce me to yourselves.”
“But it’s poker. And you’re the devil.”
“He has a point,” Sam chimes in. “I always thought that poker was invented in hell. Men gamble their souls away at poker tables all the time.”
Lucifer lets his derisive sneer speak for him.
Why do humans assume that all vice is of hell’s design? Most humans damn themselves just fine without any outside intervention—and then they refuse to take responsibility for their own misdeeds. Did he force Eve to take that apple? No. Did he force Cain to kill Abel? No. Did he force Pontius Pilate to authorize the crucifixion of Jesus? No. And he’s not to blame for people becoming addicted to drugs, sex, money, or power either. Free will was God’s bright idea; blame Him.
“I once visited a gambling establishment. It was quite fascinating,” Michael says, grinning when three pairs of eyes shoot to him.
Someone makes a choked, shocked little noise—and, really, it might have been Lucifer himself. Lucifer’s not sure and doesn’t care; he’s too busy trying to wrap his mind around the idea of Michael in one of those places. How had that come about?
Blind to the stir he has caused, Michael asks, “Is poker a game played with wheels, dice, or cards? Or maybe it is played on one of those noisy mechanical devices? What are they called? Slut machines. I tried playing a slut machine; it was easy.”
“Michael,” Adam says in tones of reverent awe, “I think I love you.”
Lucifer buries his face in his palms.
“You mean slot machine,” Sam corrects.
“Yes, that is what I said. Slut machine.”
“Actually—” Sam starts, but stops himself with a laugh. “Nevermind. Er, to answer your question, poker is a card game, but there are lots of ways to play it, lots of variations.”
“Is it anything like Go Fish?” Lucifer asks hopefully. “I excel at Go Fish.”
“Only because you are an incorrigible cheat.”
“And you’re a sore loser. Jealous, Michael?”
Michael grits his teeth and glowers.
“How the two of you children got so close to ending humanity is a mystery,” Sam chides.
Adam snorts. “No kidding! Now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure Luci and Mikey aren’t old enough to play an adult game like poker.”
That Lucifer doesn’t even entertain the thought of smiting Sam or Adam for their mockery is probably a sign of just how domesticated he’s become. In his defense, the thought of giving them each a good spanking does cross his mind and the sheer delight it gives him doesn’t leave room for much else. They would look so pretty over his knee. Sighing wistfully, Lucifer tucks the images away for later and says, “You have made your point. We will behave and you will teach us this new game, yes?”
“Yeah,” Sam says. “I’ll teach you how to play Five Card Draw. That’s the variation I first learned.”
“Yes, of course. Thank you.”
“I’m in too,” Adam says. “Except we have to play for real.”
“For real?” Sam parrots.
“This is a gambling game. It’s not real until there’s some sort of wager involved.”
“We’re in hell,” Sam says. “We don’t have any money—not unless you want to raid the Monopoly bank.”
“Psh, who said anything about money? Let’s play strip poker!”
Sam makes an incredulous noise.
Michael frowns. “Strip poker is another of your ‘variations’?”
“Yeah,” Adam says with a lecherous grin. “It’s just like regular poker, except instead of wagering money on your hand, you wager clothes. Losers strip off an item of clothing; the winner gets to put something on. The last person not bare-ass naked wins.”
Lucifer eyes Sam and Adam speculatively.
“It’s lots of fun, honest!”
“Adam’s idea does have promise,” Lucifer says.
Michael smiles benignly, the very picture of innocence. “Indeed. If poker is a gambling game, then I should like to gamble.”
“I dunno…” Sam says, looking uneasy.
“Come on, be a sport!” Adam says.
Sam relents reluctantly and begins to explain the rules.
Several rounds later, Michael is returning a spare shirt to the clothes pool, Adam is shimmying out of his jeans, Sam is fingering the waistband of his smiley-face boxers with a humiliated flush, and Lucifer is having the time of his life.
“Come now, Sammy,” he coaxes. “You know the rules: boxers off.”
Ever the feisty bitch, Sam growls, “You’re both cheating.”
“Beginner’s luck,” Lucifer says.
“We would never cheat,” Michael says.
“Assholes,” Adam grouses. “Just suck it up and strip, Sam. The sooner we get this over with, the sooner we can end our humiliation.”
“I hate you all,” Sam says and drops his boxers.
Lucifer leans back and enjoys the view.
Poker is such a deliciously rewarding game.