So now we see which side of the fic polygon Emily came down on tonight. Um... a few notes about this fic... I have no clue where it's going, what it's about, or when it's going to end. Just what y'all wanted to hear, ne? The inspiration hit me while I was at the gas station, waiting for my sister to finish pumping the gas (her car, she pumps, she pays...... I drive)...
It's AU, *not* fantasy, OOC, weird a la Emily, and probably a touch darker than my norm. Yaoi. Please smack me if there's anything that is glaringly unrealistic.

None of it's mine but the writing, so don't sue me for it, 'kay?

Playing the Game by Lys ap Adin
Part One

The Club was one of the best-kept secrets of the small city's dark side. The honest men and women who kept the metropolis running on the surface possessed no clue that it existed. The underworld of the city knew of it. Most who were in the game did. The small-time players spoke of the Club in awed, hushed whispers, half-dreaming and half-dreading that someday the'd be big enough players to have a more intimate knowledge of its workings. Only a few of the more elite circles within the game knew more than just vague rumors of the Club.

Only the best, however, *belonged* to the Club, or even knew where it was located.

Duo Maxwell still wasn't sure how he had managed to wander his way into the latter group. Now that the initial euphoria and relief had worn off, it was beginning to disturb him just how easily he had gotten in...

*Just play it cool,* he told himself. *You know why you're doing this, after all... Just gotta bluff our way through a couple nighs of this, then we're home free...* He swirled the ice cubes in his glass absently, scanning the room. There was one regular at the Club who moved with complete impunity through the atmosphere of circumspection and unwritten codes. He roamed the circles of the elite players, but never deigned to mingle... Rumor said he had been one of the professional players in the big cities, had made his mark and his pile, and then--had got out.

Or as out as anyone who played the game for high stakes ever could. There wasn't really ever an escape from the game.

There he was, sitting alone in a booth, eyes flickering through the room and the crowd, never pausing more than a moment in the quest to remain ever vigilant. That was the price of playing. There was never any time to stop.

Duo checked himself again, both pleased and disgusted with his appearance. *I feel like a whore... but at least I look I'm worth the money.* He crossed his leather-clad legs loosely, jiggling his foot a little nervously and resisting the urge to pull the collar of his shirt up off his shoulder.

When the frigid gaze swept over him, he felt it. Duo glanced up slowly, meeting the brief glance from the shadows with apparent calm even as his guts did flips. The watcher in the corner looked away, continuing his assessment of the room... but looked back, only to find Duo still watching him. *Reel him in slowly, Maxwell...* He let a smile creep across his face, a challenging, sexy smile... or so he hoped, anyway.

Again, the watcher looked away first. *Damn it.* Duo fought the urge to curse out loud or otherwise reveal his disappointment (which was mingled with relief). *Oh well. He's in almost every night, there's still hope...*

"Excuse me, sir, but the gentleman in the corner booth would like to invite you to share a drink," a discreet waiter informed him.

Duo feigned nonchalance. "Really? How kind of him." He slid off the bar stool. *Show time...* Squaring his shoulders, he sauntered over to Heero Yuy's table, wondering (and not for the first time) if he could ever be prepared to do business with one of the game's most dangerous players.



Like I said, I have no clue where this is going, or what Bob has up his sleeves. Feedback on this would be greatly desirable, onegai?