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Shortly after Law returned to Japan he was ready to leave again. It was nice to be back home and everything, but he was always ready to move on these days. With very little thought whatsoever he decided that he would take a week or two off and go exploring in a completely different direction and setting. He had a decent bit of money, and had always enjoyed, well, enjoying himself, so he'd head to one of the best places to party in the world. Las Vegas. Gambling, alcohol, drugs, dancers, adventure. He was looking for it all, and he'd certainly find it in Vegas. A few hours later he was on a plane to Vegas. He had a glass of wine and dinner and then sat back and meditated for the remainder of the flight. When he landed he made his way to the front of the airport, where several cabs could be found. He hailed one, then indifferently asked the driver to take him to the closest casino. His plane had left at six this morning, it was eight now, the perfect time for him to arrive. Stepping out of the the cab Law couldn't help but admit that the place was impressive. He walked under the tall marble arches towards the large double doors. As he swung them open and stepped onto the blue and white tiled floor he could see many people walking around, and almost as many sitting at tables, playing cards, roulette, and even eating. He made his way to one of the emptier tables and had a seat next to four other men and one woman. They were playing poker, and seemed to be just about to start. Pleased with his luck, he agreed to join. After a few hands he ordered a drink, a martini, and pondered the ways in which he's spend his time on vacation.
The city of lights was one that provided without end, in Yaksha's experience. There was always another new opportunity, always another new avenue, always another window being opened. He'd had countless doors shut in his face, to be sure; attempts of various sorts that fell flat the very moment the topic of race or identity came up. He'd been able to keep up a good front up to now, to keep the topic off people's lips, and he counted that as a victory in its own right. But the very moment he dispensed with the smoke and mirrors, he could almost feel the conversation slipping between his fingers. He could all but see the fingers going into people's ears, the defenses dropping into place.
No one wanted to discuss dinner plans with a cannibal, after all.
But that was fine, because beer was the great equalizer. All he needed was to wait it out, to let someone in this great, terribly big city find their guard let down. Preparation, plans, and control were all a great start to success, but Yaksha had come to love this city specifically because of the opportunities it presented, both to those great and small, to those weak and strong. This was a place where no amount of force, no amount of preparation, and no amount of skill could compensate for simple luck. And Yaksha was a very lucky man indeed. What else could you call a hollow like him?
And now his luck had once more availed him. He smelled it, sensed it, felt it on the rising of his hackles, the sudden sensation that all the hairs on his body were standing on end. There was a real force of nature in town, and they were all but thumbing their nose at the dangers that would doubtlessly surround a shinigami in this realm. He was either strong, incredibly reckless, or a combination of the two. And it wouldn't take long to turn those strengths into his, even in the foul mood he found himself in lately.
He sidled into a seat just beside the newcomer, adjusting his tie as he did so, and watching the table with absolute silence, snatching a drink off of a nearby carrying tray as it slipped by, and beginning to nurse it. He stifled a cough one or two times, simply drinking in the ambiance, the atmosphere, and letting himself feel the flow of conversation, the pace of battle, the sharpness of everyone's arsenal.
It was a full ten minutes before Yaksha spoke his first words, setting a stack of hundred dollar bills on the table, and then meeting the gaze of the man right next to him.
"Do you know the surefire way to win a game such as this? It really isn't hard."
Law noticed the man as he moved closer to the table, he seemed a bit different than the others around here, but Law thought nothing of it. He didn't seem particularly dangerous or violent, must just be out for a good time. A man after his own heart. Law took another sip from his glass as the other man made his way across the room, and to his mild surprise sat in the seat next to him. Law looked into his glass for a moment before draining the rest of it in one gulp, and consuming the olive as well, for good measure. Whenever he drank he noticed the immediate and strong urge to smoke. For many people this would have been somewhat of an inconvenience, as smoking in commercial buildings had been outlawed centuries ago, but fortunately he had developed a way around this. As he sat his drink onto the table Law let his Room take shape around him and lit his cigarette nonchalantly. The smoke floated upwards, but as it reached the upward edge of the room it simply pooled against the barrier, slowly dissipating. Of course he'd received complaints about this before, but he tended to ignore them, or if he was in a particularly bad move perhaps he'd punch them in the mouth. There was no reason to complain, there was no effect on anyone but himself, so it was frustrating that people couldn't keep to themselves. Setting his thoughts aside he took another drag of his cigarette as the man beside him enjoyed his own drink. He'd managed to win a good deal of money in the short time he'd been sitting at the table, but he wasn't completely sweeping the floor with them. Better to take his time, if he took their money too fast they'd bet less, he'd made that mistake a few times. It was just too easy though. He took another drink, and enjoyed it with his cigarette as he continued to play. After he played a few more hands Law noticed the strange man who occupied the seat next to him looking in his direction. He glanced over and they made eye contact... there was something off inside of those eyes. Law held eye contact until the man dropped a stack of bills onto the table. Eyeing them he noted that it was a considerable amount of money to be carrying around in one's pocket. Who was this man? Law pulled a small stone ash tray out of his jacket pocket as the man began to speak, sat in on the table and put his cigarette out. He smirked as he heard the question.
Well, I don't know about that, but I tend to do pretty well, if I do say so myself.
"Everyone says that. Everyone insists they have a 'method'. A trick. A fool-proof plan. In the end, it makes no difference. There is but one way to win, at the end of the day."
He reached out scoop up the chips that his money had been exchanged for, sliding them between his fingers and letting himself tut ever so slightly as he looked at them. It almost seemed like he'd once more lapsed into contemplative silence, simply sliding the coins around in his hand, between his fingers, letting the tactile sensations numb him to everything else going on. But he placed several chips on the table as the cards were dealt for the new hand, scooping his up negligently, and examining them with a lack of expression that was almost chilling.
"You realize, of course, that money isn't really that important? Money is just a way of keeping score. The true winners can be identified as soon as they walk into a room. They're marked. One can be a winner and be too poor to afford dinner. The irony there doesn't escape me. It's true, though. I could come in here with a quarter and leave with every penny in their vault."
He folded his cards in his lap, meeting the gaze of Law, and then tilting his head to the side. His expression was one of delight, and quiet confidence, as he waited patiently, allowing silence itself to interject between them; to create an almost palpable, solid aura of fear. There was no concern there, no worry, absolutely nothing but a look of absolute certainty, as he spoke. It was a soft, chiding tone, as if he were speaking to a child that he was entirely certain wouldn't get the point, but all the same felt obligated to educate.
"Strength will not avail you. Nor speed. Not even intellect will save you. The victor is already decided. I need no more cards. Do you fold, or will you stay?"
Law smirked slightly as he listened to the other man speak.
"I suppose you could say I do have a bit of a method. Don't tell anybody, but I've been counting cards. Of course with poker it's not as simple as all that. There's a lot more to think about with poker than say, blackjack, but it gives me a very good idea of the probabilities. That doesn't always ensure I win in the short term, but I have a sizable advantage and don't lose over the long term. Maybe we can find a blackjack table after this though...?"
Law kept his expression the same and lifted his cards from the table, giving them a quick glance, then he turned as Yaksha spoke again, and met his gaze.
"Oh, I don't care about the money that much. It just makes it easier to do all of the interesting things that I find myself compelled to do. I've been penniless in the past, I know a little something about making something out of nothing myself."
Law didn't avert his gaze, maintaining eye contact with the man sitting next to him. He sensed something coming from the other man, but he payed it little mind. If a fight were to break out, so be it. It would be a shame though, the fellow seemed interesting. The man's tone was patronizing, but Law ignored what he assumed was an attempt to goad a reaction out of him, or perhaps the man thought he was a simpleton, or a child. It changed nothing, either way. He listened to the other man speak once more, then pushed more of his chips into play. He looked at Yaksha once more and said with a wink,