Written for today’s short affair prompt at Section VII.
Summary: In which Napoleon and Illya’s mission at a THRUSH-front casino has an unexpected surprise/complication when Napoleon’s parents decide to vacation at the same casino.
Not cross-posting this as I’ll be expanding this in the future.
It wasn’t the first casino suspected of being a THRUSH front that Napoleon and Illya had investigated, but after the narrow miss that was The THRUSH Roulette Affair the previous year, the duo had vowed never to let the other out of his sight for even an instant. So, as Napoleon sat down at a poker table, mingling with the other players and the dealer, Illya kept a watchful eye on him.
Illya was so absorbed watching that he didn’t even notice when two very familiar people entered the casino—at least, not until they approached him.
The Russian whirled around, not expecting to see Napoleon’s mother standing beside him in a Las Vegas casino.
“Mother!” he exclaimed, quietly, addressing her as such by her request (she had long since considered him a member of the family). “What are you doing here?”
Before answering, she held out her arms to him, and he obliged her with a hug.
“Oh, it’s such an unexpected surprise to see you!” she said. “Well, it turns out that Leopold and I were talking about how we hadn’t taken a vacation in so long, and so, we decided to visit Las Vegas—we hadn’t been here since the ‘20s! …It certainly has changed, hasn’t it?”
“…I shall take your word for it, Mother,” Illya said, looking over to make sure Napoleon was doing alright. He was, thankfully. “Where’s…?”
“Leopold? Oh, he’s getting us some drinks; if I’d known you and Napoleon were here, I’d have had us all sit down for a drink together.”
“How did you know--?”
“I can smell his cologne a mile away,” Cora said, with a roll of her eyes. “If I’ve told him once, I’ve told him a thousand times not to overdo it with that Bay Rum… And he used to wonder how I knew when he snuck out and back in again? He never figured out that I literally used my nose.” She turned around towards the poker table. “Aha, see? There he is. Oh, and what do you know? There’s an open spot at the poker game… I think I’ll go surprise him…”
“Mother, I don’t think that’s a good idea; we’re in the middle of--!”
He stopped himself, not wanting to blow his cover, and just cringed as Cora sat down next to her son. She didn’t draw any attention to herself, thank goodness; she was acting as though she hadn’t seen him.
Napoleon, who had been counting his stack of white poker chips, quickly glanced to the side as she sat down and looked back, resuming his counting. He then froze as he finally registered what he had just seen, and did a priceless double-take to confirm that it was, indeed, his mother sitting beside him.
“Ahh, I’m done here,” he said to the dealer, and he collected his chips, gave a nod of greeting to his mother, and got up from the table.
Cora shrugged and started playing the game despite Napoleon having left. Napoleon, in the meantime, sought Illya out and headed to him.
Illya merely greeted him with a “tsk-tsk-tsk.”
“For shame, Napoleon—not wanting to play cards with Mother?”
“You’ve never seen Ma play cards, have you?” Napoleon asked.
“Nyet, but I have seen you play cards, and you are quite the shark.”
“Let me put it this way, Illya… Do you remember when I told you about who taught me how to play poker?”
“Da; you said it was your grandmother. She also taught you how to grift.”
“Exactly. That was my maternal grandmother.”
Illya’s eyes widened, and he glanced at Cora for a moment before glancing back at his partner.
“You don’t mean to tell me that Mother--!?”
“That’s exactly what I mean,” Napoleon said. “You just watch—she’s going to clean out everyone at that table, and if I hadn’t gotten out of there when I had, I would have been collateral damage!”
“The apple does not fall far from the tree, evidently,” Illya mused. “But I have a difficult time believing that Mother could be a shark!”
“Believe it,” Napoleon’s father said, from behind them.
The duo turned to see Leopold standing there with the drinks; they exchanged greetings, and then Leopold cast a wistful look at his wife.
“You don’t know the half of it, Napoleon. The first time I met her was in a speakeasy casino.”
“…What…?” Napoleon asked, staring at his father as though he had just spoken an alien language. Illya, on the other hand, looked intrigued.
“The ‘20s were quite a time, Boys,” Leopold said. “Anyway, that’s how I met her—a poker game. …And she cleaned me out, mercilessly.”
Illya was looking at Cora with a new admiration as she added to a rapidly-growing pile of poker chips.
“I must say, I am quite glad to be a part of this family.”
Napoleon just gave a wan nod. It was a bizarre family, but it was his family nonetheless.