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Title: A Good Run of Bad Luck
Fandom: Romani Detective Original Fiction
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 2,878
Summary: James and Zayne decide to have a poker party when something goes awry.
Author’s Note: Written for the June Bingo challenge at 1_million_words. This fills the caught cheating square. Also, I don’t play but I do watch (god help me) way too much WSOP. So, feel free to point out any goofs in technical jargon I might have made.

Zayne tore open a bag of tortilla chips and poured them into the largest bowl Andrej owned. Grabbing a second bowl, Zayne proceeded to fill it full of potato chips. Andrej watched him dig through the cupboards until he found two smallish sized bowls. Setting them on the counter, Zayne dumped a jar of salsa into one.

“Are we having a party,” Andrej asked, eyes moving from the chips to the salsa, wishing the dip hadn’t come from a jar.

Startled out of his brief moment of domesticity, Zayne blinked. “We’re having a poker party. I told you about this.”

“I am pretty sure you did not inform me of a party you were hosting in my home, Zayne.” It wasn’t so much that he was opposed to having a party, but advanced notice put his mind at ease. “Who is coming?”

“His ex-girlfriend,” James said, coming into the kitchen and stealing a chip out of the bowl.

“Ex-fiancé if you would like to be accurate, Jay,” Andrej said, looking around the kitchen at the things Zayne had piled on the counters.

“Almost ex-fiancé and can we not bring that up, please,” Zayne groaned. “Hand me that sour cream, narco.”

James passed the plastic container to Zayne and turned back to Andrej. “Trish is coming and so is Jake. Thought we’d keep it all in the family tonight.”

“Jake is coming, Jay?”

“Yeah,” he said. “Why?”

“Could you have not told me that we were having a party?”

“Didn’t you tell him, Reyes,” James asked, taking another potato chip. “And hurry up with the damn dip, you dip.”

“Stuff it, gingerbread,” Zayne teased. “And I did tell him. He forgot.”

“Andy doesn’t forget shit,” James said, reminding them all of something they knew too well. “Are you sure you told him?”

Zayne glared at the redhead. “I asked you to say something, too, you know. Did you tell him?”

“Please,” Andrej said, holding a hand, palm outward, towards each man. “Stop. It does not matter now as it is too late to stop it. When are our guests due to arrive?” Before either Zayne or James could answer, the doorbell rang. “Never mind,” Andrej sighed, exiting the kitchen to answer the door.

Trish and Hilary followed Andrej back into the kitchen, huddling on the far side of the breakfast bar, watching the redhead and the Texan poke at each other while trying to get the snacks sorted. There were three bowls of assorted chips, two dips and nothing else.

“Is this really all you two have?” Hilary shook her head. “I should have known.”

“No joke,” Trish added. “Andy, why did you let these two do the shopping? A girl’s got to eat while she plays some hold ‘em.”

Andrej frowned. “Had I been informed prior to your arrival that we were going to have guests, I would have prepared better options. As it is… I’ll have to see what is in the refrigerator.”

“That’s our cue to get the hell out of here,” James snarked, grabbing a bowl of chips and dip and heading for the living room where Zayne had set up the poker table. The cowboy followed close on James’ heels.

“I hear you make a killer Chex mix,” Jake said, approaching Andrej. He held out two six packs of some local brew.

Taking the beer from Jake, Andrej smiled. “Jay loves it and I do not understand why. I know it is an American thing but why it is so appealing, I have no idea. Thank you for these.”

“No problem,” Jake said as Andrej deposited the beers in the fridge. “And it’s a sweet and salty thing, I guess. Weird but true.”

Probably a cultural thing then, like sour soup or hot mustard, he supposed. Opening the pantry, he took a quick inventory. “I believe I have everything to make some, if you would like. And some vegetables.”

“Please,” Jake laughed. “Feed Rosewood a carrot or two, I swear he only eats burgers and fries sometimes.”

James tended to have a better diet than that, but when you were a detective on a case, sometimes all you had time for is a fast food burger. “I will force feed him a bell pepper if I have to, Jake.”

Grinning, Jake slapped Andrej’s back. “Anything I can help with?”

Turning pleading eyes on his boyfriend’s partner, Andrej shrugged. “Keep Jay sober so he does not pick a fight with Zayne?”

“No promises, buddy,” Jake said. “But I will try.”

It was the best he could ask for in this situation. Andrej handed the remaining bowl of chips that Zayne had left behind and watched him wander out to join the group. With the kitchen to himself, Andrej raided the pantry for Chex mix supplies and stripped every piece of fruit and vegetable from the fridge. He’d have to go shopping again tomorrow, but it’d be worth it. The produce might not even get looked at, but it made him feel so much better to have put it out. Maybe he could toss it out to the jackrabbits later.

**

“Hah,” Zayne snorted, raking the pile of chips in his direction. “I win again.”

“You must play a lot,” Jake asked.

Shrugging, Zayne grinned at him. “Not so much these days, but I used to play more often before I got hooked up with this guy.” He tilted a thumb in Andrej’s direction. “But like before we were partnered up, not like before we started dating.”

“Thanks for the clarification there, Reyes,” Trish laughed. “Deal asshole, it’s your turn.”

“Yeah, hurry up and take the rest of our chips,” James half-growled. “Lucky shit.”

Zayne took the cards from Trish, shuffled, and dealt each player two cards, face down. They’d started out with basic five card draw and had progressed to Texas Hold ‘Em, and not because Zayne had asked either. It had been Jake lobbying for the change. That had surprised everyone, but no one had objected to the switch. Andrej hadn’t wanted to play any of it – the poker terms and trash talking tended to confuse him – but he’d been guilted into playing a hand or two. By the time he felt like he could slip out, they’d gotten their claws into him, forcing him to remain at the table until he’d lost all his chips.

Flipping up the edges of his two cards, Andrej sighed and folded. Even if they’d been good cards, he was tired of the back and forth of the game, wanting to crawl into bed, either with or without one or both of his boyfriends. Card games weren’t ever his forte. From where he sat, Andrej could see the way Jay’s eyes widened slightly as he looked at his pair of cards. He wasn’t sure if anyone else at the table picked up on it, but if they had, they were keeping it to themselves. Andrej could also see by the set of Zayne’s shoulders that he was sporting a pair of good cards, too. His usual cockiness became a little more blatant when Reyes was holding a good hand.

“No one brave enough to bet on what they’ve got,” Zayne teased after everyone had declined to raise the bet.

“Shut up,” James said. “And do your damn job.”

Zayne dealt three cards, face up, in front of him on the table. Three of clubs, eight of hearts, and the eight of spades stared back at them all. Trish glanced at her cards again then checked, turning to Hilary. “Your turn, Maxwell.”

Hil made a face and tossed her cards onto the table. “Fold. Crappy ass deal.”

“I think she means crappy ass dealer,” Jake laughed, flinging his cards onto the felt in front of him. “I fold, too.”

“Okay, narco, it’s your go. Fold, check or raise your pasty ass.”

James glared at Zayne before sneaking a last peek at his cards. He reached for his stack of chips, pulling several off one pile. “Time to put up or shut up, cowboy.”

“You must have one hell of a hand, gingerbread.” Zayne studied the cards on the table in front of him before calling James’ bet. His stack was larger than anyone else’s, giving the Texan a bit more room to harass the rest of them.

After dealing the turn card, the seven of spades, Zayne glanced around the table. Trish snorted and threw her cards onto the table, folding. Zayne clasped his hands on the table edge, watching the redhead. It was almost as if Andrej could see the calculations going on behind James’ pale blue eyes, his thoughts were so obvious.

“You going to bet, red, or are you going to fold?”

Frowning, James raised and stuck his tongue out at Zayne.

“I’d be careful what you show him, Rosewood,” Hilary joked. “Reyes has a bad habit of thinking everything’s an offer.”

“That’s because it always was with you,” Zayne said, leering at his ex-girlfriend. He tossed chips into the pot, matching James’ raise. “Ready for the last card?”

“Go for it, cowboy.”

Zayne dealt the card known as the river and beamed. Jack of spades. “Show your pathetic cards, Rosewood, and accept defeat.”

Smirking, James flipped over his cards. “Might want to rethink that,” he said, showing a King and six of spades. “King high flush.”

Flashing a grin damn near as obnoxious as James’, Zayne turned over his two cards. Nine and Ace of spades. “Ace high flush, asshole.”

“Wait,” Trish said, pointing at Zayne’s cards. “Aren’t those the same hole cards he had last hand?”

“No,” Hilary said, turning her gaze onto Zayne. “But they are identical to the ones he had when he barely beat me two hands ago.”

“I don’t know what the hell you two are trying to insinuate but –”

“I think they’re suggesting you cheated, Reyes,” Jake said.

“You son of a bitch,” James growled. Somehow, Zayne always managed to beat James at cards, even when they were playing dumb games like go fish or old maid. And now they understood why. “I knew there was something up with the way you always had the right cards at the right time.”

“You’re overreacting, red. I –”

Growling, James launched himself across the table, scattering cards and chips as his knee hit one stack of winnings, his hand knocking someone else’s discarded hand to the side. The sound of chairs scraping across the carpet and falling to the floor mingled with Zayne’s surprised cry.

“Jay,” Andrej shouted. “Don’t!”

But it was too late. The redhead crawled across the table and wrapped his hands around Zayne’s neck. “You lousy cheating ass son of a bitch,” he growled. “Why? What the hell is the point?”

“To bust your balls,” Zayne laughed, reaching a hand up and smoothing James’ hair back from his face, almost as if the ginger wasn’t trying to throttle him. “Because you’re so damn good at everything else, I couldn’t resist.”

“That’s a dick move,” Trish said, stating the obvious.

“Agreed,” Jake said.

“You’re such a lousy boyfriend,” James snarled.

“I know,” Zayne grinned. “But I’m cute, right?”

Shaking his head, James blew out a harsh breath. Instead of answering, he gave Zayne’s neck a gentle shake before moving forward and locking his mouth onto Zayne’s.

“Oh for the love of god,” Jake spluttered, laughter following quick on the heels of his shock. “Cut it out.”

“Gross,” Trish laughed, tugging on Hilary’s arm. “Come on, I think this game is done. And I think if the narco gets any closer to your ex, something’s gonna combust.”

“Wait,” Hil said, pulling out of Trish’s grip and moving closer. “This is kinda hot.”

Trish turned to Andrej and held her hands out in supplication. “Help me out here, Andy.”

He shrugged because what could he say? Watching the two of them make out was one of his favorite pastimes precisely because it was damn hot.

“I shoulda known you wouldn’t be any help,” Trish cackled.

Looping her arm through Hilary’s, Trish dragged her partner out of the living room and into the kitchen, leaving Andrej alone with the canoodling idiots. Andrej rubbed the side of his face with one hand, debating whether he wanted to break them up or not. Ideally, he would crawl between them and demand a little of what they were serving up, but with a house full of people it wasn’t even an option. So, the only alternative was to break them apart but how?

“Hey Andy.”

He turned towards the kitchen and found Trish standing with a spray bottle in her hand. “Yes?”

“I know you probably don’t want this disgusting display of manly affection to stop but, if you do… I find that this works awfully well on the puppy I have when he won’t listen.”

A smile lit Andrej’s face. It was evil and unwarranted, but they both kind of deserved it. Zayne more than Jay, but Jay wasn’t any better seeing how he was currently mauling Zayne’s face with his mouth. Taking the bottle, he shook it and heard something rattle. He lifted the plastic spray bottle to eye level and saw that there were chunks of ice floating in the water. Andrej raised an eyebrow in question.

Trish lifted a shoulder and grinned. “Well, you want them to cool off, right?”

Good point. He turned back towards his preoccupied lovers and shouted, “Stop it.” He squeezed the trigger on the bottle, shooting a stream of ice cold water at their bodies. “Behave, now.” Squirt, squirt.

Startled gasps and assorted curses flowed from his boyfriends. Zayne turned angry green eyes on Andrej. “What the fuck, man? We weren’t hurting anyone.”

“For once, I agree with him,” James said, moving in for another kiss.

Andrej aimed the bottle at the hotheaded ginger and squeezed. “We have guests! Two of which are disturbed by your antics.”

“Two?” James rolled onto his side and looked towards where everyone was gathered. Andrej had to give the poker table props, it was holding well under the weight of James’ body.

“More like only two,” Zayne said, leaning back in his chair. “Who’s getting hot and bothered by us making out?”

“Besides Andy,” James asked.

“Right, because that’s a given,” Zayne agreed.

“Trish isn’t into men at all, so I doubt it’s her,” James said, eyes flicking to his partner. “And as open minded and tolerant as Jake is, this is definitely not his thing.”

Zayne’s eyes zeroed in on his ex-girlfriend. Hilary’s cheeks flushed bright red, causing Zayne to laugh out loud. “Oh Hills honey, if I had only known…”

“Shut up, Reyes,” she huffed without venom. “Trish, you wanna go get a drink somewhere less… risqué?”

“Sure,” Trish laughed. “Had your fill of man on man action? Or rather, boy on boy action as neither of these two are actually men?”

“You can come join us, Hil,” Zayne joked, patting his hand against the open space beside James’ body.

“Dude,” James grimaced. “I have no issues with you being attracted to women as long as you leave me out of your potential hookups.”

Andrej muttered something in his native tongue before turning pleading eyes on Trish. “If I beg, will you allow me to come with you?”

“You don’t even need to beg, Andy,” Trish said, throwing an arm around his waist and giving him a squeeze. “You’re always welcome to leave these two idiots behind and come with us.”

“Ditto what she said,” Hilary agreed. “Besides, it’s always fun watching the other people in the bar try and figure out which one of us you’re sleeping with.”

Trish cackled. “You know what their eventual conclusion is though, right Maxwell?”

“Yeah,” Hilary nodded, tugging on Andrej’s arm. “Both of us, although the reality is neither.”

“Is it too late to change my mind,” Andrej asked no one in particular.

“Yes,” Trish replied, grabbing his other arm and dragging him towards the exit. “We’ll bring him back later.”

“Not that either of them will notice he’s even gone,” Hilary added.

Andrej glance back over his shoulder and saw that James had found his way into Zayne’s lap. Yeah, they’d eventually realize he wasn’t home any longer but it wouldn’t be anytime soon. Even when they did figure it out, they’d be too invested with each other to give it much thought. On the one hand, the thought tore at his insides. On the other, eh. Let them have their fun. The more time they spent alone, the better they seemed to get along.

Mostly.

But, as Zayne was overly fond of saying, a little bit was better than nada. Andrej would take a bit of good will over nothing at all.

“You’re going to have to get them fixed,” Trish was saying as he followed them out to the car. “Or they’re going to get aggressive in the future.”

“I think we are too late for that,” Andrej said, shaking his head. Although they tried to play it off as affection, there wasn’t any doubt they were constantly battling for dominance. Not always a pretty sight but sometimes, sometimes it could be enjoyable to watch. “But maybe I will keep the spray bottle handy. Just in case.”

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