This was a reader prompt, sort of, and while I doubt she had quite this in mind, well…here you go.

“So, um, you want to learn to play poker?”

Spock nodded. “That is what I said.”

Jim bit his lip. Turned away from Spock to pour himself a drink. Red wine tonight. A gift from Bones on his last birthday.

“Got it on our last shore leave, Jim, been saving it ever since.”

Spock was in his quarters now. He’d come to play chess, which they’d started to do once a week after the newly built Enterprise had begun its voyage after the whole Krall mess.

They’d kept it pretty casual, at first. They’d started in the rec room playing just one game each week. Though Spock won most of them, Jim had a few good days in there, too.

It moved to their quarters when Jim was running late one week and contacted Spock to say he would be later still. Spock had suggested he would just bring the chess set there. Jim had hid his surprise and agreed.

The next week, Spock had suggested playing chess in his quarters, and ever since they’d alternated between Jim’s and Spock’s. Never returning to the rec room. And they generally played several games now.

“Well, I think it was Bones who said he’d like to teach you,” Jim said, taking a sip.

There had been talk of poker when they’d been confronted by a hostile alien, or so they’d thought at the time. Balok. Jim had bluffed and suddenly Spock became interested in poker.

“You do not wish to teach me?”

There was just the hint of a tone in Spock’s voice that Jim could not quite place, but he knew it made him feel bad. “No, no. Not at all, Spock. You want to learn, that’s fine. Um, generally, it’s more than a couple of players though.”

“I see.”

“Yeah. So, you want me to find out if anyone else is available to play with us?”

Which honestly, Jim was not at all keen on the intrusion into his private time with Spock, and he feared it would quickly become a thing where everyone played every week, and there would go any alone time he had managed to obtain with Spock, which he’d won with a lot of effort, but, if Spock wanted him to get a group going for poker, Jim would do it.

“Is that the norm for strip poker?”

Jim stumbled forward, spilling wine on the floor. “What? Did you say…strip poker?”

“I have been doing some research prior to broaching the subject with you, of course.”

“Of course you have.” Jim went over to the bathroom for a cloth to wipe up the spilled wine. He bent down and cleaned up the mess. “I don’t think that’s a really good idea. Sit down, Spock.”

Spock took his seat dutifully. Jim had already set up the chess set, but as Jim sat across from Spock, it remained untouched.

“There are a series of hands that beat other hands.”

“Indeed, I researched those.”

“Good. That gives us a head start. Basically, poker is a lot of bluffing.”

“As you did with Balok.”

“Right. So, with the hand you’re dealt, unless you get a royal flush dealt to you, which believe me, doesn’t really happen, you’re usually going to want to convince those playing with you that you have a better hand than you do. If I have two queens and you have a full house, that beats me. But I want you to think I have something more than you do so you’ll fold. Or basically, give in.”

“I see.”

“Which is what I did with Balok. I wanted him to think we had a better weapon than he did, so he would fold. But he could just have easily called my bluff. Which is why in poker, you call.”

“So it is a means of lying.”

“Pretty much. Unless you really do have a royal flush, then you aren’t lying.”

Spock inclined his head. “I am certain that I would have no trouble knowing that you were lying.”

Jim laughed. “Yeah? Why do you think that, Mister Spock?”

“I know when you lie, I can tell. So I cannot be fooled by your bluff. We have known each other long enough for me to read you quite well, Captain.”

“That’s it! You’re putting your money where your mouth is.”

Sometime later…

“You won.”

Jim grinned. “Yep. Four queens.”


“You only have a full house, Spock.”

“Yes, I know that your hand beats mine. It is simply that your behavior during the match—”

“Game, Spock.”

“As well as your body language indicated that you had a much lower hand than you were pretending to have and yet…”

“Yep. So you don’t know me as well as you thought, Spock. Not my lies anyway.” Jim leaned back. “I think you should remove your pants.”

Spock’s cheeks greened. “Captain.”

He burst out laughing. “I’m totally kidding. I know we weren’t playing strip poker, babe.”

Spock stared at him. “Babe?”

“I didn’t say babe,” Jim said quickly. “I said Spock.”

“No. I heard babe.”

“Don’t be ridiculous, Mister Spock.” Jim stood. “Will you look at the time? I’m going to have to cut this short. I have about three hundred reports to do.”

Spock stood too. “Three hundred, Captain?”

“Three hundred and two. I forgot a couple.” Jim ushered Spock to his door. “As amusing as this was, next week, back to chess?”

“As you wish, Captain.”

Jim smiled, patted Spock’s arm. “Goodnight, Spock.”


The door of his quarters opened and Spock disappeared through it.

Jim stared after him. Shook his head. Too much wine going to his head. He laughed and turned away.