"Oh, it's you," said the man sitting alone at the end of the interrogation table.

Fish nodded. "It's me," he said, his voice calm and measured, and walked around the side of the table and to take a seat next to him. "How've they been treating you, Smith?"

"Won't let me out of this room," said Smith. "Took my watch, too."

"I trust you understand why such precautions were necessary," said Fish. "Everything alright otherwise?"

"Well, even the most comfortable prison is still a prison," said Smith, "but they haven't abused me. The donuts are quite good."

"Baked them myself," said Fish, reaching towards the plate of pastries and taking a cruller. He took a bite, masticating the dough between his molars for a few savored moments. "You know, I love to cook. It's so rare that I get the opportunity to do something nice for people. Culinary arts allow me to show my appreciation for my fellow workers in a non-threatening and universally accepted manner."

"Always the blusterer," said Smith. "Really, Kilroy, do you expect me to fall for such a line of obvious garbage?"

"Not at all," said Fish, "but I did expect you to use that name, as well as the clause 'do you expect me to'. You have quite a flair for the cinematic."

"Then let's cut the theatrics," said Smith, "because we both know why we're here. I'm a threat to you. Not in the conventional sense, of course; Clef could easily handle that, or Bright, or Gears, or any of the others. But you, you're special, aren't you? You have no authority here, yet you're well-respected by almost everyone and even truly feared by some. You flagrantly disregard the rules of the Site, throwing caution to the wind instead of following the established protocols. You twist timelines and realities to your sordid whims, then pat yourself on the back when everyone buys into it."

"I assume you have an eventual point to this monologue?" said Fish.

"The point is, this isn't about the Foundation. It's about you. You're just like me: a displaced time traveler and reality bender with little use for official channels and status quo. And you just can't stand to see someone else stomping around on your turf. "

Fish regarded Smith for a long moment. Then, he reached into one of the pockets of his cooking apron, and pulled out a deck of cards and some poker chips, and put them on the table.

Smith huffed. "You've got to be kidding me."

"It's your motif," said Fish, "unless you'd prefer we played chess instead?"

"Poker is fine," said Smith, taking the cards and beginning to shuffle. "Five card draw suit you?"

"Whatever you like," said Fish, divvying up the chips.

They anted up. Smith dealt the cards, five down for Fish, five down for himself. He picked up his cards and raised his eyebrows. "Your bet," he said, with a slight smirk.

Fish didn't look at his cards. Instead, he put all of his chips in the center. "All in," he said.

Smith blinked. "Is this some kind of joke?"

"No joke," said Fish.

"You haven't even looked at your cards!" said Smith.

"Don't need to," said Fish.

Smith blinked again. "You can't possibly know what sort of hand you have. You're just as likely to lose as you are to win."

"Precisely," said Fish. "The cat may be dead, or it may be alive. We won't know until we look in the box. And that's why you and I are very, very different, Smith. I don't profess to know what's in the box. I'm willing to take the consequences for whatever awaits me. But you, Smith, you try to control the game. You want to know the outcome before you throw your lot in; you peek inside the box and then make your decision based on the results. You're not a magician; you're a cheater. I'm not falling for your bluff. Either see the bet, or get out of the game."

"And suppose I win?" pressed Smith. "Suppose my cards are better than yours. What then? Will you disappear, relinquishing your vaunted title to me?"

"If that's what's in the cards," said Fish, "then that's what's in the cards."

Smith regarded him with fury for a long moment. "Well, I'm not buying it. Here's what I think: you're a bluffer, too. Your entire career is based on subterfuge and misdirection! Every plot twist, every allusion, every mise en abyme — it's all built on an elaborate structure of lies! I think you've needed someone like me for a long time, someone to deflate your pompous, overbearing ego. Someone to bring your house of cards crashing down. And today is the day!" He slid his chips into the pot. "Call."

Fishmonger turned his cards up, one by one.

"No," said Smith, his face going pale as the hand revealed itself to him. "No, that's… that's impossible!"

"Goodbye, Mr. Smith," said Fish, his face stark and impassive.

"No!" screamed Smith, his body wavering in and out of the continuum, "I don't understand! I did everything exactly the same as you! How could you have beaten me? How?"

"Elementary, Mr. Smith," said Fish, as the man vanished from the timeline. "The House always wins."

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