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Hustlers

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Jungkook hadn't meant to get addicted.

Well, then again he hadn't meant to even step foot into a casino, let alone be encouraged to sit down for a round, which turned into two, which turned into more.

He always thought gambling was something he was too smart to spiral down into insanity for.

It started out just as fun and games, as it always did. Jungkook didn't like to be a cliché but here he was. Every poor addict had roughly the same fate, getting dragged down to their ears in debt, making worse and worse decisions to try make money to play and win it all back, and eventually dying a horrible gruesome death at the hands of some underground lord they owed money to.

Jungkook's situation had been a little different. But he still ended up like this.

When Jimin dragged him into BigHit excitedly, saying how Jungkook had to experience it once in his boring lifetime, and how no harm could come out of trying his hand once and it’ll be fun, come on!, Jungkook hadn't meant to lose nine million.

He certainly hadn't meant to lose his kidney.

And he hadn't meant to meet Kim Taehyung.

~

Jungkook always thought there was something a little off about a lot of his father’s deals and business partners, but he didn't care enough about his father or his business to really pry or look into it. His father, CEO of one of Korea’s largest and most influential technology enterprises, spoke to Jungkook around five times a year, twice of which would usually be clipped, terse conversations over the phone, and Jungkook only saw him in person when he’d have to bring Jungkook along to some important dinner party for formality and appearances’ sake, or when he’d peek in on those decidedly shady looking deals held in his father’s office.

The point was, Jungkook wasn’t close with his father. His father didn’t make an effort to be close, Jungkook didn’t make an effort to be close, everyone got along fine all these years. Of course, up until he was old enough to realise that by rights, he was the sole heir of his father’s wealth and business, yet he hadn’t been given any position or hold whatsoever in the company. He’d never even come close to catching a glimpse of business details, stocks and manufacturing processes, and he certainly wasn’t a shareholder. Sure, it didn’t really affect his financial status and personal bank account; he still had more money than he knew what to do with, but it led to questions, the inevitable why does my father hate me thoughts, and what do I need to do to secure my inheritance and future thoughts, and even if my father hates me I'm his only son, who else could he be planning on leaving his wealth for? Does he not recognise me as his son?

So, Jungkook had a few daddy issues.

Jungkook had tried everything out of the book, acting up and rebelling against society norms, trashing up whatever he felt like whenever he felt like, going out to clubs and coming home smashed and wreaking havoc in efforts to gain a little attention from his father - to settling down to study and work hard, getting top grades and barely ever setting foot outside aside from going to school to prove that he had the brains, drive and right to inherit the business. He'd even gotten into a highly regarded university, slaving away at desks everyday and completing assignments and papers as soon as he got them.

He got the usual cold shoulder for his efforts.

Maybe that's why, when Jimin, one of his only close friends, and the only person he ever really saw nowadays, suggested to go to a casino, Jungkook was swayed with ease, picking up bundles of cash and skipping out the door, as foolish and naive as they come.

Jimin taught him how to play cards out of the blue one day.

“Jungkookie!” Jimin sang as he waltzed into Jungkook’s room, plonking himself down on the bed in the centre, beckoning him over. Jungkook hadn't known he was coming, and he hadn't heard Jimin arrive at his house, but he shouldn't be surprised at this point. Jimin came over so often he was pretty much a resident of the mansion. Jungkook raised an eyebrow but joined him, climbing up on the soft blankets with a certain degree of apprehension at the gleam brightening Jimin’s eyes.

“You don't even knock anymore, do you?” Jungkook griped unnecessarily, as they both knew Jungkook didn't really care, but Jimin scoffed anyway, waving a hand dismissively.

“The maids see my face more often than yours. Is it that much of a surprise that they cut me a key?” Jimin asked dryly, smile tugging his lips to one side slightly.

“Fair enough.” Jungkook replied with a yawn, crossing his legs and gesturing at the plastic bag Jimin had dumped on the bed. “Care to tell me what that’s for?”

“Ah yes, this,” Jimin emptied the contents and whisked the plastic bag away with theatricality, revealing packs of newly bought playing cards. “This is your new best friend.”

“Cards.” Jungkook didn't really phrase it as a question, but Jimin answered anyway.

“Yes, cards. I'm going to teach you how to play, and you're going to learn how to play, and you're going to love it.” Jimin announced and Jungkook sent him a flat look, which Jimin artfully ignored as he opened a pack and caught the spilled cards in one hand.

“Says who?”

“Me, who else.” Jimin replied absently and ran his thumb over the short edge of the bundle of cards, flipping through them in one smooth motion, and Jungkook sighed but leaned forward a little, watching Jimin split the deck and shuffle it with evident hands of an expert. Funny, Jungkook didn't know Jimin knew much about cards. Then again, he didn't know much about Jimin in general. Just that they met in school and clicked the moment they groaned in unison when their old history teacher slammed down the first essay of the year. He didn't even know where Jimin lived, what his family was like, what he did in his spare time, who his other friends were.

“Okay, so, I'll teach you a version of poker I learnt back home. It's a little bit like Big Two.” Jimin declared as if addressing an excited crowd and Jungkook nodded sagely, looking on as Jimin set the deck down neatly and flipped over the top card to show a card that read 5, with five black clovers printed on it.

“So, some versions start with a specific card, so if all the cards have been distributed, the person with let's say, the four of hearts, puts that card down in the centre and starts off the game. But because I can't be bothered finding a specific card let’s just start with the five of clubs, so I can show you the rules. When you have cards in your hand, you put any card higher than the card on the top of the pile in the centre when it's your turn. If you have for example,” Jimin flipped another card over, which showed 8, with eight black shapes that looked like upside down hearts with triangles sticking out the ends. “Eight of spades, you can-”

“Wait, what does “spades” mean? What does “clubs” mean? And by higher, do you mean in number order? Do all cards have numbers?” Jungkook interrupted, flipping the deck over and looking through the cards, everything completely unknown and foreign to him. Of course he could recognise that these were poker cards, and he knew people played card games and gambled and placed bets playing card games, but he'd never seen a deck of cards before. It wasn't as if his father ever taught him how to play.

Jimin blinked. “You serious? I knew you were rookie but, really?”

“Really.” Jungkook nodded in assent, and Jimin whistled, flipping all of the cards over and spreading them out, shaking his head a little.

“Well, let's start from the basics then. I'll teach you little kiddie games for our little kiddie Jungkookie.” Jimin flashed him a blindingly bright, obnoxious grin and Jungkook shoved him, resisting the urge to huff and cross his arms, and live up to his little kiddie name. “I was going to teach you poker, but let's start with things like Go Fish and Speed and Last Card.”

“What are those?”

“...Oh my.”

~

At what point Jungkook began getting drawn in, falling for the trap and losing himself to the game, he wasn't sure.

Maybe it was the first time he saw the ace of spades, and felt it tug at him, call out for him to poise on his fingertips. Maybe it was when he won a round of Speed leaving Jimin with half his pile left. Maybe it was when he won Blackjack in the same amount of time it took Jimin to explain how to play. Maybe it was when he won Last Card nine times in a row, and Jimin begrudgingly admitted defeat and that Jungkook was making progress.

Well, he didn't really admit that, but Jungkook was sure what he said could be classified as it.

“Look at your beginner’s luck! You don't even know how lucky you are do you. You just keep getting good hands!”

“Maybe that's just because I've got skill. And because you suck and I'm awesome.”

“Just wait, Jungkook, just wait. Soon I'm going to shove your ass so far into the dirt you'll be able to tell me what getting a rim job from a penguin of Antarctica feels like.”

“That's fucking disgusting.”

“So’s your shitty plays.”

Turned out Jimin was extremely fired up and competitive over “little kiddie games”.

Poker was a little harder.

“Okay you've been getting it easy so far, but today is the day you realise how out of depth you are.” Jimin swung in with bravado, greeting him with five new packs to the face that Jungkook caught with ease. Jungkook grinned lazily, opening a pack and shuffling from one hand to the other. They'd played cards every day for around a week, and Jungkook was only getting better, and Jimin was only getting more sour. Maybe Jungkook just had the touch. Born with the hands to destroy Jimin at the “little kiddie games” Jimin taught.

“Oh yeah? Finally going to top my 193 to 14 wins of Go Fish?” Jungkook drawled, a smirk plastering itself onto his face as Jimin squinted at him, balling up the plastic bag and throwing it at Jungkook’s head.

“Go Fish is for amateurs. Baby stuff. We’re moving on to the big boys today, Jeon Jungkookie. I'm teaching you poker.” Jimin sniffed and Jungkook let what he knew was an irritating languid smile creep across his lips, lounging back and flipping through the cards.

“Are you sure it'll be you teaching me?” Jungkook deserved the punch, and he laughed, motioning for Jimin to sit down.

“Alright, Mr Hustler, prepare to lose so pitifully you'll take back everything you ever said about your skill at cards. We aren't betting real money, but let's use these cards with blue backs as stand ins for chips. It's more fun if more people play, but if you're playing for real, shit gets serious. You could lose big money.” Jimin’s voice dropped a little, a little waver in his tone, but Jungkook, being the stupid naive little boy that he was, just laughed it off.

“Of course. If you're dumb and get addicted. And if you keep playing even if you can't win.” Jungkook grinned brightly but Jimin didn't return it with much feeling. Jungkook raised an eyebrow but the shadow dissipated from Jimin’s sudden hooded gaze, and he laughed and slapped Jungkook’s shoulder, spreading the cards out.

“Yeah, of course, our Jungkook isn't that dumb, is he?” Jimin replied airily and Jungkook stuck his tongue out but gestured for Jimin to get started.

“But… What’s a hustler?”

~

No, Jungkook why would you put out a joker now?”

“What? You put out a two! What else was I supposed to put?”

“There are like, ten cards out. We have so much more to play, why would you use a trump card like that when we’ve barely started playing?”

“You left out a bunch of cards at the start so we wouldn't know which cards the other person had, we don't have that much to play with.”

“What if I have another two later on? When uh, I'll be winning because you're an idiot that puts all your good cards out at the start.”

“...Keep playing, Jimin.”

“It's your turn, loser.”

“Don't worry, I'm not one.”

“How did you win?!”

“What did I say?”

“How can you have both the jokers even when we took out so many cards?!”

“Hey, you were the one who shuffled.”

“I can't believe this.”

“Better believe it. Go on. Write a love letter to our history teacher and post it on the Internet. Sign it Jiminnie.”

“...I don't accept this. Again.”

“With penalties?”

“Of course with penalties, you fucker.”

~

Jungkook started playing cards at school. He wasn't the one who suggested playing with real money, but he earned himself a bit of a reputation before long, and being the slightly irritating winner he was, (okay, so more than slightly irritating) soon people were flocking to play him, to try and make him lose, to try and win money off him, to watch in interest and sometimes reverence. He learnt what it meant to be a hustler before long.

The first time he swapped cards without anyone noticing, under the watchful, peeled eyes of the tight crowd that had banded around their little card table, and won beautifully, it was an entirely different feeling to winning honestly. It gave a different thrill.

No matter how many times he did it, nobody noticed, and he got bolder, smarter and better.

He didn't always have to cheat or set up anyone to win, and he thanked his luck for that, but adding his crafted wins alongside his honest ones, his streak was unstoppable. It wasn't possible, everyone said.

Of course it wasn't, that's why Jungkook had to cheat every now and then. But he still had his conscience weighing him down, that was why he never raised much on those rounds. If those idiots went for an all-in, well, that was entirely their fault, wasn't it.

And it wasn't as if Jungkook was the only one conning people out of their money here. He’d played plenty of people that so obviously brought rigged sets, or swapped out bottom cards, but he’d reserve his cheats specially for those people, and he also rigged them, swapped cards as they did, but he was just better.

It wasn't as if he needed the money, but he soon won so much he needed to find excuses to spend it. Of course, he split his winnings with Jimin since Jimin provided the rigged sets and was the one who introduced him to all of this, but Jimin’s expression only grew more distant and drawn as the days passed, and Jungkook was blinded by the exhilaration, the thrill, the greed. Blinded so that the obvious warning sign, the alarm bell didn't even register as he began gambling outside of school. Nothing big, just with locals that thought they had nothing to fear from a stupid overconfident little boy.

They soon learnt.

Jimin still kept in touch, and they still played those benign, easygoing little card games every so often, but Jungkook wasn't sure whether it was he who was drawing away, or Jimin. And for what reason.

Jungkook still hadn't learnt how to play Go-Stop, the famous, extremely popular card game in Korea, and so more often than not, he'd be turned down from a game. But there were still those idiots that played poker with him.

Jungkook didn't want to learn, not just yet. He thought he should pace himself, at least a little. No rush right? It wasn't as if he was going to start gambling at casinos and gambling houses for real.

Either way, he now owned more pairs of Timberlands than he knew what to do with, and his grades were slipping, but it was a small sacrifice in his view. Wasn't as if his father would care either way. Jungkook was past the rebelling for attention stage, but if his father found out about his gambling hobby, it wasn't much of a big deal.

Then Jimin took him to BigHit. At that point Jungkook was still a little wary of the real deal, the big casinos and the millions of dollars placed as chips and bets, but Jimin was all smiles and sunshine, saying how he'd been there and nothing happened, it was all fun and thrilling, and surely Jungkook was getting a little bored and itching for higher stakes?

It'll be fun, come on!

And Jungkook met Kim Taehyung.

~

“Look at this place!” Jimin tugged on Jungkook’s arm incessantly, eyes painfully alight, gesturing excitedly, and maybe if Jungkook hadn't been in utter awe, feet dragging and mouth hanging open as he swept his eyes over the bright, bustling casino, maybe he'd have been able to detect the slight desperation and strange wildness to the shine in Jimin’s eyes.

But he didn't, because he was already hooked, and he hadn't even played a game yet.

BigHit was settled in the middle of a sprawling city of lights and neon, more modest and sophisticated looking than its surroundings but packed and popular beyond belief nonetheless. The inside was a different story. There were enough bright, blaring, colourful slot machines, betting tables, card tables and big screens displaying races people were crowded around and shouting and hooting over, tickets and money clutched in hand, to make Jungkook’s head spin, money quite literally being flung about the place. The walls were deep velvet, the dark carpet lined with strips of neon lights, the lights mini chandeliers - which were unnecessary, as any extra light in the huge casino was just not needed. There were just enough people that there wasn't a free spot in the gigantic floor, but not too much so that it was suffocating. Jungkook felt swept up in the excitement, the buzz and the craze as if it was his own. Jungkook could see deep red velvet curtains and corridors down the very distant back, obviously leading to some other rooms and sections. Perhaps VIP or private rooms. At least three sleek bars curved their ways around the area that fit in Jungkook’s vision, and what looked like neat, smartly dressed waiters (or they could be bartenders, basing on the uniform) weaved in and out of crowds with ease, as if performing a dance known only to them, carrying trays of drinks and chips. Even the workers here were sleek and luxurious looking.

“What is this place?” Jungkook spoke in a hushed tone of awe, aware that his face was painfully visibly stunned, eyes darting all over the place in an attempt to take in more of the almost overwhelming place at once.

“Only the best place you could've decided to come to, kid. You look itching to play. How about it? Let's sit you down for a round.” A person suddenly appeared beside Jungkook and Jimin, one of the workers with a bright, wide smile and twinkling eyes, twirling what looked like room keys in his fingers. Jungkook’s tongue refused to work for a couple of seconds, and he could imagine how flustered he looked, how new and inexperienced and wet behind the ears, and he hated it, if he was going to play at a casino, he was going to win so much he could own the casino. The worker just grinned, a sharp, infectious thing, and patted Jimin’s shoulder firmly, a familiar sort of gesture, turning his gaze to Jimin.

“Welcome back, Jiminnie. Who's your friend? Well, that's not important. What's important is whether he's a winner, or a loser.” The person winked at Jungkook, who gave a sharp grin of his own, feeling fire start to course through his veins, excitement and thrill taking over like instinct. The person was right, his fingers itched to play.

So much that he didn't really think much about how familiar the person’s greeting to Jimin had been, and all the implications and obvious conclusions he should've been able to draw from it. Such as, Jimin quite obviously wasn't just a one time customer, if he was on such close terms with the workers.

“This guy’s Jungkook. This here is Hoseok. He started me up with games and pools, I think you gotta take your winner arrogance down a notch, and listen to what he's got to say, because it's a good idea.” Jimin grinned at Jungkook, who scoffed but nodded to Hoseok, who laughed bright and loud, evidently amused at that statement.

“Arrogance?”

Jimin snorted. “Yeah, this guy’s a shitty winner. Thinks he's the shit just because he’s never lost a game back home. He's made full grown men cry.”

Hoseok whistled, and Jungkook would be lying if he said he didn't preen a little under the impressed gaze. It was one thing to be the object of interest and intrigue from his school mates, and the neighbourhood old men and gamblers because of his talent, it was another thing to feel recognised in the eyes of a much more experienced, worthy person, someone who worked in such a lavish, jaw-dropping casino. He must be a good player himself, just judging by the dexterity of his fingers, the assured way he played with the keys. Jungkook wanted to play against other customers here, but he wanted to play against the workers, the gamblers more than anything.

“How much did you win?”

“Enough to buy a floor of the apartment building next door.” Jungkook replied without missing a beat. Hoseok smiled, seeming impressed once again, but didn't even bat an eyelash. Instead of disappointing or offending Jungkook, it thrilled him, that obviously such a statement was the norm here, that there were many many bigger fish, bigger, grander prizes to be won here. A couple million was nothing.

“Impressive. You a better, or a player?” Hoseok asked, all brisk and business despite the sunny smile and Jungkook couldn’t suppress his grin if he tried.

“Player. Definitely.”

“Alright then, Mr Big Shot, I think you can skip all the trivialities here and come straight to the private rooms. What do you play?” Hoseok gestured politely for Jungkook to follow him, and he fell into step a little behind him, Jimin trailing after.

“Poker.” Jungkook dodged an angry, pot-bellied old man’s fist thrown up in rage and Hoseok nodded in acknowledgement, leading them through the crowds, towards the red velvet curtains.

“Texas Hold ‘Em?”

“Nah, Red Five.”

Hoseok whistled again, leading them down a corridor, with rooms and doors lining the sides like an expensive, fancy hotel, lighting still lining the floor. “Been a while since we got a Red Five. Luckily for you, our gamblers here know just about every game there is to know. They can even teach you, if they like your style.”

“I'll be playing against the gamblers that work here?” Jungkook quickly asked to confirm, the fire in his veins starting to dance and Hoseok sent him a quick, sharp look.

“Yep, the pros. Scared?”

“Excited.” Jungkook replied with a half smirk, and Hoseok laughed, stopping outside a room door and opening it.

“I like you. Well, all the best. I'll be popping in every now and then, tell me if you need anything. Of course, you'll need to pay.” Hoseok patted him on the shoulder and winked again, all genial mood and goodnatured smiles, and Jungkook couldn't believe his luck. He was about to step into the room when he remembered Jimin standing there. He glanced back at him, noticing for the first time that day, how reserved and distant Jimin was, how his eyes seemed to lose the shine as soon as Jungkook stopped looking.

“Jimin? You playing?” Jungkook prompted and Jimin smiled, face brightening as if nothing happened.

“Of course I'm playing, who do you take me for? Where's the thanks for getting you into a private room?”

“Thank you Jimin hyung!”

“That's like the first time you've called me hyung. Come on, let's go play.”

~

“And he takes the win again! Man, what tricky fingers you've got, kiddo.” One of the gamblers, Jungkook had long since forgotten his name, remarked as Jungkook swept the chips into his ever growing pile with a nonchalant smile. The professional players were worlds better than Jungkook could've hoped. He’d had to cheat his way through five rounds out of six, though, their eyes obviously weren't keen enough, as nobody had called him out on it.

“Oh, what's this? The kid’s wiping the floor with you lot! Looks like it's time to call in some real players.” Hoseok swung open the door to comment, laughing as one of the gamblers chucked an empty packet at him, and he beckoned the guy, who stood and waved at Jungkook.

“Nice playing with you, kid.” The gambler grinned and Jungkook smiled in return, inwardly grinding his teeth. He felt giddy, floating on his high, but they just kept calling him a kid and bringing him crashing back down. He obviously hadn't won enough, hadn't won impressively enough, to earn their respect let alone admiration.

“How many rounds do I have to win till I stop being “kid”?” Jungkook shot at Hoseok, who barked out a laugh, raising an eyebrow and tossing him a beer can.

“Oh I like you, I really do. You gotta earn the title of a real player here. The wins don't feel good when your opponents aren’t breaking out in cold sweat, do they?” Hoseok smiled knowingly, and left to presumably go get some “real players”.

He returned with a tall, handsome man with broad shoulders and a nice smile.

“Are you the new prodigy? I'm Seokjin. Nice to meet you.” The man, who looked around three to four years older than Jungkook greeted him politely and Jungkook smiled back, idly scratching his wrist and taking care to not let the cards hidden in his sleeve be visible as he ran a finger over the edges, counting them.

“Nice to meet you, I'm Jungkook.” Jungkook replied lightly, barely containing his excitement to play against this “real player.” The other gamblers all greeted him in a chorus of familiarity and Jungkook turned to Jimin, pausing a bit as he took in the ashen shade to Jimin’s face. At first Jungkook had thought it was because Jimin kept losing miserably, seeming to mindlessly throw in chips only to lose them to Jungkook, and he was worried about the money he was losing, but now that Jungkook thought about it, Jimin didn't seem very focused on the game at all. Before Jungkook could ask if everything was okay, Jimin stood, taking his jacket and smiling, a little forced, as he nodded to everyone in the room.

“I'm not feeling too well so I'm leaving now. Can't lose too much money to this kid, can I? Jungkook, play nice, alright? I'll be at the bar downstairs.” Jimin patted Jungkook’s head, who swatted at him but frowned slightly, peering a little at Jimin’s expression. Maybe he really wasn't feeling too well. Jimin quickly counted his chips and moved his bundles of cash over to Jungkook’s piles accordingly.

“Okay, I'll be down soon.” Jungkook replied brightly and Jimin nodded, exiting the room but not before sending a look, lightning fast, to Seokjin, who didn't seem to have noticed. Jungkook raised an eyebrow but didn't comment, offering to shuffle.

They played with two decks plus an extra two random cards. He kept his face slack and neutral but his eyes fixed on the cards as he shuffled them, then picking them up and shuffling them into one hand seemingly at random, lifting his gaze to be more credible, but feeling the order of them, and as he dealt, he kept his eyes trained on the gazes of the other players as he swapped out the bottom few cards, almost daring any one of them to pick it up. When no one did, Jungkook inwardly breathed a sigh of relief, but felt a little irrationally disappointed. Such an obvious cheat should be almost transparent to professional players. Maybe they were still looking down on Jungkook, still sending their low tier players. He caught Seokjin’s gaze, who smiled warmly, and picked up his cards and sorted through them in the time it took Jungkook to fit all of his in his hand, closing the fan into one pile and putting it face down, seeming to have memorised them all already. Jungkook blinked, more than a little impressed and more than a little intimidated, but he knew what cards he gave Seokjin, and he knew he wouldn't lose to him this round. He neglected to focus on the other players though, but it should be fine considering his hand. He quickly named all the players in his head. There were five of them, Seokjin, Gambler 1, Jungkook, Gambler 2 and Gambler 3, in counter-clockwise order.

“Should I start?” Seokjin asked nobody in particular as he put down his first card. An ace. Jungkook felt his poker face stutter, waver in shock but he quickly reined his expression back in, flicking his eyes up to study Seokjin’s. Seokjin didn't seem fazed, the picture of calm, and Jungkook narrowed his eyes a little, wondering if he was just bluffing because of his bleak chance at winning. Gambler 1 put down a two. And so it was Jungkook’s turn. He blinked, suddenly having to study his hand again. He'd had idiots who put out high cards from the start before, but the highest had only ever been a king. Because logically nobody would be brave or stupid enough to put out anything higher for the very first card. If they ran out of high cards at the beginning, how would they ever get rid of lower ones? Which was why Jungkook had given himself three aces. But now… Jungkook stared at the two of spades, quickly running through his options in his head, not meeting the other player’s gazes as he kept his expression casual. He did have the big joker, but how could he give in and be forced to use it so early on? He had no idea who had the five of hearts, and he wanted to curse. He looked up and smiled, close lipped, keeping everything on the surface as calm and controlled as he could, despite everything in his mind turning into a chaos of confusion just from the one card.

“...Pass.” How frustrating. The other players all passed, including Seokjin, and Gambler 1 put down three eights. Jungkook wanted to scream. Gambler 1 hadn't played like this in previous rounds. Had Seokjin instilled some sort of confidence in them? Jungkook chewed his lip but put down three queens. Gambler 2 and 3 passed, but Seokjin put out three kings. Gambler 1 passed. Jungkook’s eye twitched.

“Pass.”

Seokjin put down a pair of sevens, and finally Jungkook could breathe again. Gambler 1 passed, Jungkook put down a pair of eights. Gambler 2 put down two tens, and Gambler 3 passed. Jungkook looked up sharply as it came to Seokjin’s turn, trying to read his poker face, trying to read his thoughts and try and guess his move. Maybe that ace was just a spur of the moment thing? Something to throw Jungkook off his game. He was sure he'd given Seokjin crappy cards. Seokjin met his gaze evenly, face blank as it was pleasant and Jungkook had never met such a poker face before. He couldn't read it no matter how hard he tried, there were no telltale signs, no eye twitches, no changes in pupil size, no tiny quirk of the lips or furrow of the eyebrows. Not even the tightening of the jaw or anything.

Seokjin put down three pairs in succession. Jacks, queens, kings. Okay, so Jungkook had been sure he'd given Seokjin crappy cards. Jungkook fought to keep his expression from twisting, feeling the heat of the room a little stronger than before. Gambler 1 passed, and so did everyone else. Seokjin put down three aces and Jungkook counted to ten slowly in his mind. Seokjin put out five, six, seven, eight and nine in succession and Jungkook felt sweat beading on his forehead as he looked at the dwindling number of cards Seokjin held, and the impressive amount he himself held. The number of cards had barely changed. Whereas Seokjin was almost finished.

Jungkook had never tasted this feeling before. Fear of losing.

He stole a glance at the amount of chips he'd put in to play and felt a chill coil in his stomach. He couldn't play safe anymore.

Seokjin put out a three, and Gambler 1 put down a six. Jungkook put a seven, Gambler 2 put down a queen and Gambler 3 put down a two. Everyone passed and Gambler 3 put down three tens. Seokjin passed but he only had four cards left. Gambler 1 passed and Jungkook tugged the collar of his shirt a little, burning his gaze into Seokjin but coming up with absolutely nothing. For the first time, he wasn't sure he could win this. Actually, he was sure he was going to lose. And that was terrifying. For the first time his heart was beating fast and he had to try and conceal his thoughts, his panic. Jungkook downed half of his beer and threw down his three aces, daring anyone to follow. Nobody did, and he put out an eight. Gambler 2 put out a nine, Gambler 3 passed and Seokjin put out a ten. Jungkook almost swore out loud. He should've put down a king at least. Gambler 1 put down a jack, and Jungkook put down a two. When he glanced up at Seokjin he almost balked. Finally there was a look in his eyes, a look, a gleam that told Jungkook that he'd just fucked himself over.

Jungkook was sweating, his heartbeat was erratic, he was panicking and couldn't even think properly.

The look goaded him on, and so he put out a king. Gambler 2 and 3 passed, and Seokjin put down an ace. Jungkook was very, very close to screaming.

Three cards left.

Gambler 1 put down a two, and Jungkook bit his lip so hard it must have left an indent, before putting down his big joker. Jungkook’s eyes snapped up, pinning his stare on Seokjin, and felt something inside him shrivel up and die as Seokjin looked up and smiled, placing the five of hearts very carefully down on top of the pile. In contrast, he just threw out his last two cards carelessly on top. A pair of fours.

“Red Five, prodigy.”

Jungkook smiled.

~