A bet

Author: Koos van Winden <koosfanfic[at]hotmail.com>

Disclaimer: The character in this fic all belong to allmighty Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy

Beta: Keith

Time frame: Post S7 BtVS

A/N: I have never played poker in a casino before. So, I take that with a bit of creativity . . . or the lack of it :) If necessary imagine there is someone from the casino at the table.


Chapter 1

Las Vegas
Six months after the closure of Sunnydale's Mall

"This is marvellous," Giles announced as he, Faith and Wood entered one of the big casinos.

Faith grinned, knowing some of the tales from his Ripper days. "Wow, Jeeves. Didn't know you like a gamble. Memories?"

The Brit turned his face toward the Dark Slayer. "In my younger days I used to be quite the poker-player," he explained proudly.

"Sure thing."

Giles grinned. "Did I hear a question mark?" he asked, gaining a snort as a reply.

"Rupert, I'm sure we can convince Faith. It's part of the Watcher training after all. An important part." A look from Faith made him continue. "However, I'm convinced you can't stand a chance against me."

A Ripper smile flickered across Giles' face.

"Giles!" The Brit turned his head into the direction of the yell to get a big hug from Willow. She pulled away and spoke, "Ken and I are going to the Roulette table over there so you and Robin can play who has the biggest ego."

"That's a splendid idea. Let's find one of the professional tables. You think you can handle the big chips, Robin?"

A nod was enough and they walk to back of the casino. Faith stared at two and shook her head before she walked after them. "Men," she chuckled.

The trio were guided into a small one table room. Behind an orderly stacks of chips a young man was waiting. Faith could barely hide her surprise as she instantly recognized the eyepatched man. "Xander?" Giles croaked.

"Hey, G-Man. Wood, Faith. Nice of you to join the table."

Giles frowned. "What are you doing here? We thought you were travelling."

"Yeah, well. I was more searching. You know, myself and all. And I found something that I'm good at."

"Poker?" Faith asked incredulously.

"Yeah. Pays good and isn't boring."

"You play poker for a livin'?" Faith asked, her eyes wide. She had a hard time believing that this clownish young man could play a game which needed the skills she never thought possible were in him.

"Yeah," Xander didn't show any signs of being insulted by her disbelief. "Well, only for a few weeks yet."

"Well, that's bloody marvellous, isn't it? Here we were all wondering where you were and here you are, gambling all the Council money away that we gave to you out of respect. Much needed money I might add. Do you have any idea how worried Buffy, Willow and Dawn are?" Faith was barely able to suppress a grin at Giles' small outburst. "Not to mention me?"

However to Faith's surprise Xander remained calm as he responded. "I think I have an idea."

Giles sighed. "Well, that's splendid."

Xander grimaced. "Look, Giles, I'm sorry okay. But I just needed to do this on my own." Giles shook his head and sat behind the table. "You thought I wasn't fit for being a Watcher, while even Andrew was."

"Well, apparently I was right." He paused. "Xander, you have lost almost everything. How can I expect for you to be a responsible Watcher over a whole group of girls if you still have to go through your own grief? Not to mention the hard decisions that comes with such a position."

Faith noticed a small crack in Xander's otherwise expressionless face. "I know and I understand, Giles. I'm sorry for not having called any of you. Can we please finish this conversation after a poker session?"

Giles sighed again and Faith saw the frustration written on the Englishman's forehead. He nodded.


A few hours, several drinks and many games later.

Faith had witnessed how slowly, but surely Xander had earned his money at the expense of mostly Giles. She had wanted to join the game herself, but had decided that it was more fun to watch the guys instead. Oxford had shown a pretty damn good poker-face during the evening, but for a girl like her still readable. Baldy was more difficult though, which made her proud. But mostly she was stunned that she still wasn't able to read any of Cyclops' expressions as there hadn't been any available to read. Also that his wins hadn't always been based on luck or bluff. All in all it made it difficult to figure out what he had.

The bet on the table had grown into a considerable size as Giles passed after a big raise from Xander. After just a moment too long of doubting, Wood equalled the raise. Xander showed his Royal Flush without any emotion, but Faith couldn't hide a grin as she noticed Wood's wide eyes.


A few hours later the game had turned into a similar situation as Xander's Royal Flush. Giles however was broke and Wood's situation wasn't much better either. Faith smirked as she saw how Xander had raised the bet significantly with a thousand dollars. She noticed how Wood tried to read Xander's face, wondering if this was pure bluff or pure luck. She had no idea. She figured that his big male ego wouldn't allow him to take the chance to be bluffed by a boy, so finally he equalled the bet again.

Xander however didn't show his cards and spoke instead. "C'mon, Robin. Raise the bet."

This unexpected turn of events made Faith doubt Xander's cards for the first time. She stared him in face, but couldn't find any trace of doubt. If he hadn't won so much than she would surely have thought that this was an act of desperation. Now she wasn't sure. Was it meant to get Wood to give up the bet?

Wood smiled however, showing no sign of doubt as he raised the bet with all his money, another three hundred dollars. "That's all you have?" Xander asked.

"It's enough," Wood responded.

"Oh, c'mon, this is a professional table. The big league, you know. This is all you have?" Wood nodded. Xander shook his head. "I'm disappointed. I'd expected more from the two of you."

"Sounds like you think the game is over," Wood responded, "In your favour."

"You're not so sure?" was Xander's reaction.

Still Faith couldn't decide if this was all bluff. "May I?" she asked to both Xander and Wood as she pointed at both player's cards. They nodded as she walked behind Wood to have a view on his cards. Wood and Xander continued to stare at each other as Faith took in Wood's four aces. Without giving this information away she walked behind Xander and noticed his one lonely single Ace as the highest possible combination. She was impressed that Wood had allowed her to look on his cards, but after having seen this she was even more impressed that Xander had allowed it too. One mistake from her and she could have betrayed Xander's trust.

"I'm not so sure," Wood confirmed.

"Well, I can offer you a deal if you want to."

Faith blinked. Xander's tone made her very anxious to hear what Xander's proposal would be and sincerely hoped Wood wouldn't back off.

"Xander, is this how you have played with your money all this time?" Giles asked, slightly irritated.

Xander turned to Giles. "Well, this is how wars are won, isn't it?"

Giles raised an eyebrow. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"Well, I don't know. Going behind your own Slayer's back only to inform her how to be a general while in all those seven years you haven't been able to tell her that straight in the face," Xander responded, never raising his voice.

Faith couldn't believe what she heard. The 'what!?' screamed in her mind only to be vocalised by Giles.

"I think you heard me," was the only response.

"Xander," Wood quickly interrupted, "Giles is not to blame. He did it because I asked."

The young man sighed a little bit, showing some cracks in his otherwise perfect poker-face."Yeah, I know. Sweeet vengeance."

"Xander, for your information this is a matter between me and Buffy."

"Okay. I'm sorry. You still wanna hear my proposal, Robin?"

Faith didn't have any clue what this was all about, but that the temperature in the room had dropped by several degrees she was sure about. Giles was clearly aggravated and even Robin was uncomfortable. Only Xander remained completely calm; it surprised the hell out of Faith and made her only want to know more what his proposal was.



She jerked a bit as she heard her name. Expecting a question she responded. "Yeah?"

Xander didn't react and waited for Wood to respond instead as his eye calmly rested on the man's face. "I'm sorry, I don't understand," the Watcher replied.

"Faith." He shoved all his money into the middle of the table. "This for Faith." Faith stood behind Xander looking at his cards, totally flabbergasted. "The bet, Robin. All my money for Faith. Do you dare?"

"What precisely do you mean with 'for Faith'? Because if this is a testosterone-based-bet to 'score' my girlfriend, I am out."

"Well, if I have a better card than you than I win Faith, otherwise you win all my money," Xander explained.

"You can't be serious."

"I'm very serious."

"Xander?" Giles asked.

"Sorry, Rupert. This is something between me and Robin," Xander calmly responded.

Giles closed his mouth and looked at his colleague who had his attention fully focused on Xander. "If you are so desperate for my girlfriend than you can just ask her out. Maybe . . . Maybe if you're lucky-"

"Girlfriend? Who was talking about a girlfriend?" Xander interrupted Wood's tirade.

Faith's ego dropped a few notched at those words and to her surprise she was also hurt by Xander's rejection.

"What do you mean?" Wood asked, confused.

"I want her as my Slayer."

"Your Slayer?"

"Yeah. Watcher-Slayer deal, remember? Me being her Watcher."

Faith blinked and Wood glanced at her. However she decided to give him no sign. None whatsoever. She finally understood what Xander was aiming after and frankly didn't mind at all if he was become her Watcher. After all that had happened between the two, she was still surprised by the way he had so easily welcomed her back. The only one who hadn't shown any distrust towards her. He was calm and radiated an inner strength she rarely saw in people, instead of making lame jokes all the time. Apparently he also knew precisely what he wanted. He was Mr. Serious all the way.

Wood faced Xander again and lifted a finger upwards for each point he made. "First: I'm not Faith's Watcher. Second: Faith hasn't got a Watcher and doesn't want one either. She's independent and experienced enough. Third: If we decide to give her a Watcher than it would certainly NOT be you. And if you think that this is the road to become a Watcher than you don't understand a single bit of it."

The tension built up as everyone remained silent for a short while, only to be broken by Xander's calm voice as he raised a single eyebrow. "So, you're out?"

Wood slammed his cards away. "You win. You can have the money. Satisfied?"

Xander shrugged. "It's a livin'," he responded calmly. He pulled the money towards him. He turned his head to Faith and she noticed how his usual warm goofy smile had returned. "Hey, Faith. My working hours are over. Any plans for tonight?"

The Dark Slayer smirked. The evening had turned out to be totally different than she had expected, but not any less satisfactory. On the contrary. "Have anything special in mind?"

"Not specifically, no. But there're enough places where we can spend some money."


He smiled. He turned to Giles. "Are there any more of the gang here? Haven't seen them in awhile. And oh, could we talk about me becoming a Watcher tomorrow?"

Giles didn't respond to his questions as he faced a flabbergasted Wood.

The End