Author's Notes: Day Six~! Today's prompt is "Dazzlement" from "Ranunculus". The idea was sparked by me watching a YouTube video on the life of a Playboy Bunny during the 60s. Yup, you heard that right. Ellen's a Playboy Bunny and Tyki is a club patron. And he's playing in a game of Texas Hold'em that she's the dealer of. So this story is actually going to live up to the 'poker' part of Poker Pair Week. Yay~!

Warnings: PokerPair; Fem!Allen; Mentioned Miranda LottoxNoise Marie; 1960s AU; Aged-Up Characters (Ellen is 21); Playboy bunnies; Period-typical sexism and behaviors; Unnamed OCs; Historical inaccuracies (likely from poor research, sorry!); Artistic license regarding 1960s casino management and bets; Probable OOC-ness

Disclaimer: D. Gray – Man is the property of Katsura Hoshino. Playboy is owned by whoever was left the company by Hugh Hefner's will. And my laptop and ideas are under my control.


C1

- xXx -

Playboy Casino, London, 1965

"Did you hear about Miranda?" a soft voice echoed throughout the dressing room. "She got sacked earlier today!"

This successfully diverted the others' attention away from applying makeup or stuffing the chest area of their uniform with whatever was on hand. Ellen, who had been fluffing up her cottontail, quickly turned to the Bunny who had unleashed the news upon them. "What?" she asked with audible disbelief, "How do you know that?"

The Bunny in question, known as Angela, kept applying her bright red lipstick as she nonchalantly stated, "I greeted the bartender when I came in and he told me everything, since he watched it happen."

"So why did she get fired, then?" Ellen pressed, sorely tempted to wring her hands. Miranda was not just a co-worker to her, but a friend.

But before Angela could reveal the reason, another Bunny interrupted. "Isn't it obvious? The klutz had finally dropped one too many trays," she snidely remarked while going back to readjusting her bosom area, trying to achieve fullness without overdoing it.

The Bunny next to her nastily giggled as she frenetically worked her mascara brush, threatening to stain the strawberry-blonde fringe of her wig with inky black streaks. "I'm honestly surprised she lasted as long as she did, what with her stammering like an idiot whenever a man so much as grunted near her."

Ellen scowled at the two Bunnies mocking her friend. But before she could give them a well-deserved tongue lashing, Angela realized the brewing confrontation and decided to head it off.

"Actually, it was because the Bunny Mother found out she was dating a patron."

Several gasps left the other women as they looked at Angela with shock. If there was one rule that everyone hated but still followed, it was to never date a patron who didn't have a C1 key. To do otherwise was ground for instant firing.

"How did she find out?" Ellen asked the most pressing question on their minds. The other Bunnies then jerked their heads back to Angela. Some were so abrupt that long strands of hair ended up stuck to brightly colored lipstick.

Angela sighed as she put down her tube of lipstick to straighten out her ears. "From what I heard, one of the new security guards saw Miranda and her beau kissing at a restaurant last week. Next, he talked to the bartender about it, who passed it on to the Bunny Mother. She then decided to confront Miranda about it once she arrived for her shift."

"And let me guess," the first cruel Bunny sardonically drawled, "the klutz cried a river of tears all throughout the encounter?"

Ellen shot the bully a sharp look, but Angela just shook her head while saying, "No, she didn't. After Miranda calmly confirmed everything, she didn't even flinch while being fired. In fact, she seemed quite happy to go!"

Everyone else was confused. That didn't sound like the Miranda they knew…

"Why did the bartender say she was happy to leave, Angela?" Ellen asked. The others leaned in, eagerly awaiting the response.

"Because, when she was walking by the bar after collecting her things…" Angela drawled, stoking everyone's anticipation, "he saw the patron described by the security guard enter and walk over to her."

"What happened next?" A particularly impatient Bunny in the back blurted out after Angela took a long pause for dramatic effect.

Seeing how every single woman in the room – even Ellen – was fully engaged, Angela decided it was time to go in for the kill.

"Not only did the patron and Miranda kissed then and there, for everyone to see, he proposed to her and she accepted!"

The women's shock lingered for several seconds… before being mercilessly murdered by frenzied chatter.

"Are you serious?!"

"Right on the floor?"

"That must have irked the Bunny Mother!"

"Do you think this will affect the next Bunny Meeting?"

"Well, it will certainly give her something to complain about to the Bunny Council…"

"And the man actually proposed? Good Lord, she's lucky!"

Among the loud comments, one whisper slipped by unnoticed.

"So Marie came through for her, after all…"

Unfortunately, their excitement over this unexpected news was cut short by the dressing room door slamming open.

The newly revealed Bunny Mother angrily stared down the startled group of young women. It was very much apparent the older woman had overheard them… discussing Miranda's story. "You have five minutes until the weigh-in and inspection, so hurry up!" she ordered.

"Yes, Ma'am!" the Bunnies cried as one as they scrambled to put on the finishing touches.

Ten minutes later, all the Bunnies passed the weigh-in and were lined up in the hallway outside their dressing room. The Bunny Mother stood in front of them in judgment. Then, after inspecting every single detail of their appearance, let loose her verdicts.

"Your ears are bent. How many times must I tell you to take care of it? Are you stupid or something? Demerit."

"Your manicure is chipped. What have you been doing – scratching a chalkboard? That's another demerit for you. One more and you'll be punished. Perhaps that will get you to the nail salon."

"Don't slouch. You look like a sad sack of potatoes. The Bunny Manual shows you the correct way to stand, but it appears you need to study it again."

"Is that a scratch on your cuff-links? Let me get it through that tiny brain of yours; we have a reputation to uphold at this casino. Any imperfection, no matter how small, ruins that. Demerit."

"Look at that wrinkle on your suit, you slob! Do you not own an iron? Demerit!"

"What happened to your tail? It looks like a cat's been chewing on it! Demerit!"

Finally, the Bunny Mother came to Ellen and scowled. "Ellen."

"Yes, Ma'am?"

"Your smile is slipping. Fix it. The men are here to have fun, which they can't if you look like someone killed your pet."

Truthfully, Ellen's smile hadn't been all that small. But nonetheless, the young woman put on a wide grin as her eyelids slid closed. That way she could please the Bunny Mother…

And not let her true thoughts be ascertained via slightly irate silver-gray pools.

'Why did Mr. Hefner hire us if all he wants are perfect dolls?'

- x -

"Check."

"Check."

"Check."

Ellen waited for all of the men still in the game to declare their intentions before nodding. Laid out in front of the patrons was a lineup featuring the Ace of Spades, Six of Diamonds, Ace of Diamonds, Jack of Clubs and Three of Diamonds. And in front of her was the pot: several chip towers that added up to £107. "Alright, gentlemen. You may reveal your cards."

The men eyed the pot with subdued excitement before overturning their individual set of two cards.

The first man, next to the small blind and thus being the big blind, revealed the Jack of Diamonds and Five of Hearts.

The second man, two seats down and the oldest among those present, uncovered a Queen and a Two, both clad in Diamonds.

And the third man, sitting right by the second, unveiled the Two of Hearts and its King.

"And the winning hand is… the Queen-high flush, created by Player Four!"

The first and third men groaned in unison, disappointed by their losses. The other men present were silently thankful that they folded earlier, as their hands were rubbish. The second man, on the other hand, let out a hearty laugh after resting his cigar on an ashtray and said, "Sorry, mates! That's just how it goes, sometimes. You win some, you lose some."

Ellen gracefully slid the chips over to the winner with a sunny smile. "Congratulations on your win, sir!"

The older man, cheeks ruddy from all the cocktails he had consumed tonight, grinned and stretched his hands out to retrieve his prize. "Thanks, love," he said, his large hands nearly and inappropriately touching hers had she not discreetly adjusted them at the last second. Such a happenstance would have been unfortunate for him, given the security guards keeping a close eye on all the tables. "How about I treat you to drinks with these winnings, eh? Or perhaps… you would prefer dinner for two on a Saturday?"

She gently laughed and carefully withdrew her hands. "I'm flattered, sir. Unfortunately, management doesn't allow us to drink on the job or accept dates from club patrons."

"Can't you make an exception, love?" the older man asked an oft repeated question. "I saw one Bunny hanging of the arm of some bloke as they went up to the VIP room!"

"That's because he was a C1 key-holder, sir. Personally chosen by Mr. Hefner himself. They're offered an array of privileges by Playboy establishments, including being able to date any Bunny they want. However, while we can't go out with other patrons, we do strive to provide the very best service for everyone who walks through the doors. So please, don't worry about being neglected by anyone here."

The older man, who already knew all that but still liked to flirt with the Bunnies, nodded and magnanimously conceded, "Well, that's business for you. Everyplace has special perks for certain people. Tell you what, instead of a date, how does a £50 tip sound?"

She airily laughed as he handed over several ten pound notes from his pocket. "Now that is something I would never turn down."

The older man chortled for a good while at Ellen's light quip. Once he had settled down, she slipped her tip into her left bra cup and cheerfully addressed everyone, "Alright, gentlemen: are you up for another hand?"

Nearly all of those present, including the older man, agreed to one more round. But one man, the gent in between the big blind and the most recent winner, decided that he had enough of poker for tonight and took his chips to either cash them in or play other games. Ellen gathered up the cards and started shuffling them, briefly looking over to the entrance to the poker room. She saw him talk with the poker host, who then left to let the next man on the list for a poker game know that Table #14 had a seat available.

The Bunny and the gentlemen patiently awaited for the new player to show up. Then, as she finished her shuffling and laid the deck onto the table, she heard a series of footsteps approach her table. Since they sounded too heavy to be another Bunny, that meant the new player was here. She looked up and placed on her welcoming smile to greet him.

And for a split second, Ellen was struck rather dumb.

'Good Lord, is he handsome!' was the most eloquent thought her brain could think up.

It was definitely true, though. The man now putting his chips down and taking a seat was very attractive. The dimmed lights and cigarette smoke produced by the other men valiantly tried to downplay his features, but miserably failed. She could still make out dark wavy hair, lightly tanned skin, blue eyes, and a gorgeously sculpted physique clad in a well-crafted suit. His face was especially pleasing to look at; he even had a mole at the corner of his left eye.

'Get a hold of yourself, Ellen. He's a patron and you're at work,' she privately chided herself as she turned up the brightness of her smile, as if making up for her small, though thankfully unnoticed, pause. "Welcome to the Playboy Casino, sir. Thank you for joining us at Table #14."

The newcomer let out a deep chuckle that sent a nice shiver up her spine and grinned at her. "I'm glad to be here, menina," he drawled as he took out a cigarette pack from his suit pocket, along with a metal lighter. Right after he selected and placed a cigarette between his lips but before he could flip open the lighter, Ellen casually asked, "Would you like me to light it for you, sir?"

The newcomer paused, and then raised an eyebrow. "Aren't you the dealer?"

The older man guffawed at that, cigar now in hand. "Let me guess, this is your first visit to a Playboy casino?"

"Is it that obvious?" the newcomer wryly responded.

"Hey there, it's alright, lad!" the older man obliviously reassured him with a loud thump to the back, jerking him half an inch forward from the force. The other men visibly winced with sympathy as the newcomer grit his teeth. "Everyone here has had to learn about how this establishment works. So let me enlighten you! Yes, Ellen-" he directed the hand holding the cigar to point towards the sole woman at the table, "is our dealer, but she'll also light cigarettes or even take a photograph with us gents if we ask! All the Bunnies do!"

The newcomer turned his gaze from his senior to the Bunny herself. "Oh, really? And are those services free or come with an extra cost?"

"Lighting the cigarette itself is free, while buying it from us and taking a photograph costs five pence each," she responded with her hands carefully perched on the poker table.

"Hmm… in that case, I would be happy to take you up on your offer, menina," he smirked as he handed over his lighter.

Ellen laughed and lightly plucked it from his fingers, take care to avoid an accidental touch that would bring security over. The Bunny flipped the lid with a flick of the wrist and successfully ignited it after one strike, bringing forth a bright yellow flame. With one hand shielding the little light from any sudden wind, she slowly leaned forward and brought it to the white end of the newcomer's cigarette. The young flame then began burning and consuming the white paper and tobacco material, leaving behind a red glow when she pulled away.

The newcomer, returning to sitting upright after moving closer to allow her to light his cigarette, took a smooth drag and released a plume of smoke into the room. "Thanks, menina."

"You're welcome, sir," she said as she returned the lighter to him.

With that accomplished, the Bunny took hold of the dealer button and moved it over one space to the left. She then looked at the newcomer – now the big blind – and politely commented, "I suppose it would be a bit redundant to ask if you would like to post?"

"Perhaps, but I appreciate your show of work ethic," the new big blind replied, shooting her a relaxed grin that she sincerely wished to return with overt flirting. Instead she nodded with her professional smile, reached for the deck, and skillfully dealt each of the eight men seated at her table two cards face-down. Once everyone had slid their cards closer, she announced, "The small and big blinds can start the betting, now."

The small blind dutifully removed several shilling-valued chips, enough to total £1, and slid them towards her after taking a good look at his cards. The big blind, on the other hand, went ahead and added £5 to the pot without even a peek at what he had been dealt. The others all called, seeing as the flop wasn't out yet to discourage them.

Now that the pot was comprised of a nice little mound of chips, Ellen burned one card and laid out three more – creating a flop of the Seven of Clubs, Nine of Clubs, and Seven of Hearts. She then waited for the men to decide their next course of action.

"Raise, £10," the small blind called out while adding the requisite chips to the pot, rather contradicting his more restrained behavior during the last game's flop. A signal that his cards already emboldened him.

The big blind now took the chance to inspect his hand. His poker face – a rather laid-back facade matched with a smirk – didn't waver an inch. "Raise, £15," he announced while sliding the necessary chips her way.

The other players subtly glanced at him with varying levels of mild curiosity. It was uncommon for there to be two raises in a row during the flop.

'Hmm… another confident player? Or the beginnings of a bluff?' the sole woman at the table wondered.

After letting the new amount to bet settle in, nearly all of the other players followed suit by calling. The sole exception, the last man seated on her right, chose to fold due to his small supply of chips.

The Bunny offered the patron now out of the game a reassuring smile as she collected his cards, after which she burned one card and added the Ten of Spades to the flop, transforming it into a turn.

"Bloody hell!" he blurted out as he saw the new line, "Maybe I shouldn't have folded…"

"Don't fret, sir," Ellen said with a soothing tone over the snickering of some – rather ill-mannered, in her opinion – players still in the game, "There's always next time. Would you like one of the other Bunnies to fetch you a drink?"

"That would be great, love," the man sighed.

She caught the attention of another Bunny passing by and subtly gestured to the gentlemen she had been talking to with her head. As her colleague daintily swooped in to take his order, Ellen turned back to the others. "You can resume betting, gentlemen," she nodded with a smile.

The small blind hesitated for a few seconds before choosing to check. A sign, perhaps, that his position was now weaker than before.

The big blind, by contrast, took another drag from his cigarette as he slid more chips to her while saying, "Raise, £45."

"I say, are you sure about doing that, lad?" the previous hand's winner asked, his surprise breaking through his poker face. "We haven't gotten to the river, yet."

The big chuckled after releasing more smoke into the room. He set his cigarette on his ashtray as he gave his reply. "Poker is a game to be enjoyed, and I find one has the most fun after taking risks." Then he looked at the Bunny from the corner of his eye and sent her a cheeky grin. "Especially worthwhile risks."

She discreetly shuffled her feet, using the pain generated from wearing three-inch heels to stop herself from blushing.

'He's a patron, it's not allowed. He could be another undercover detective hired by Mr. Hefner. He's probably not even single!'

"Well, it's your money you're playing with," the older man shrugged, oblivious to Ellen's inner struggle. Then he double-checked his own cards and grimaced. "Unfortunately, I don't have the same confidence. I fold."

Two more players decided to fold as well. The small blind and the others in the game, however, called and matched the new bet. Now the pot was valued at £332.

'If they keep raising, someone is going home with enough money to pay my rent for at least a few months,' the Bunny mused to herself as she gathered up the chips. Once that task was over, she dutifully burned yet another card and drew the final card. She carefully placed this card next to the fourth one in the lineup. As she withdrew her hand, she revealed it to be the Five of Spades. The river was now formed.

The small blind's facial features were stony, but the sole woman could see the gleam in his eyes: a subtle indication that the earlier confidence drained during the turn had now been restored. Then, after looking at the big blind from the corner of his eye, he slid all of his chips her way. "Raise, £100."

All the other men – aside from the big blind, who was once again indulging in his cigarette, poker face unchanged – visibly balked, and even Ellen barely managed to keep her smile up. It wasn't the highest amount had she witnessed being bet during a game, but neither was it usual for a man to risk everything they had against another player who kept raising larger and larger values.

Then the Bunny's silver-gray eyes slightly widened in realization. 'Wait, perhaps he's trying to turn the tables on him.' She looked over to the big blind to gauge his situation. As the other men had been playing for several hands, some had started the hand with significantly larger chip towers than he did. One such person was the small blind, who now openly looked at his new-found rival with smug triumph. What's more, he had already bet sixty-five pounds worth of chips – leaving his supply quite diminished to multiple short stumps that couldn't possibly match. From what she could see, his only real option now was to fold.

'And yet, I have the strangest feeling he won't…'

The big blind, now being watched by everyone at the table, said nothing for a few seconds. Then, to their deep confusion, he started laughing.

"And just what is so humorous, sir?" the small blind asked with a hint of irritation in his tone.

"Oh, nothing," the big blind replied as his chuckles drifted off into a sigh. "I was just amused by the fact that I would have to use those chips for my first game of the evening."

Now the other was confused. "What do you mean by 'those chips'?"

Resting his cigarette on the ashtray, the big blind started rearranging his chips by spacing out the stacks and removing the top chips of those in the middle. Finally he gathered up those left and laid them out in front for everyone else to see.

"What-!" several voices gasped as one.

"…!"

With a confident smirk, the big blind slid a tower of the highest-valued chips the casino had as he said, "Raise, £200."

The other two men immediately folded. They neither had the funds nor the nerve to try to call, let alone raise.

Ellen took their cards, then slowly turned her head to the small blind. She wasn't the only one. Everyone was looking at him… except for the big blind. He just returned to his cigarette.

The small blind gritted his teeth, but eventually conceded defeat. "Fold…"

"Well, sir, you seem to be the winner," the Bunny congratulated the former big blind after taking the former small blind's cards. Her eyes then flickered to the winner's hand. "May you please reveal your cards?"

"Of course, menina," he chuckled, before flipping the cards over to show…

The Ten of Diamonds and Nine of Spades. That, with the Ten of Spades, Nine of Clubs and Seven of Hearts, gave him a two pair.

The young woman nearly jumped in shock as the former small blind slammed his hands on the table and shouted out several expletives, drawing the attention from players at other tables.

"It looks like I struck a nerve," the new winner idly commented as he watched the angry man stalk away from the card table.

"Bah, don't worry about him," the older man dismissed with a wave of his hand. "He always gets cantankerous whenever he loses. Especially to a two pair!"

'Hmm…' Ellen thought to herself, looking at the winning cards while the older man pulled his junior into conversation. 'A two pair is the third lowest ranked hand in poker. Just what was the other hand?' Now curious, she flipped the small blind's cards over and blinked in surprise once she saw what they were: the Jack of Hearts and Eight of Diamonds. Had he not risked everything too soon, the small blind would have won with a Jack-high straight.

'He successfully pulled off a bluff against a straight with a two pair!'

The Bunny looked at the new winner with admiration… and not a small amount of wistfulness. Having been exposed to poker at an early age, she found men who exhibited excellent skills in the game to be very attractive. And once his handsome appearance and suave attitude were factored in, the winner was too good to be true.

'If only he wasn't a patron,' she lamented to herself while pushing the pot towards him. But before she could gather up the playing cards, the older man came to a sudden realization.

"Hang on, I do believe you forgot to introduce yourself. Also, what exactly brought you here tonight?"

"Ah, forgive my manners. I'm Tyki Mikk," the newly identified man responded. Then he removed his cigarette from his mouth to dispense ash into the ashtray. "As for why I'm here… a new associate of my family suggested I visit and see what this casino has to offer."

"Well, it sounds like he gives out great recommendations! Provided you don't aim for the Bunnies, of course," the older man laughed.

"Why do you say that?"

"They're not allowed to date patrons, unfortunately. Not unless you have a C1 key."

"Hmm…" Tyki gazed at his chips in thought. Then he took up his cigarette again before reaching into his suit pocket to pull something out. "Does it look like this?" he asked as he twirled a silver key with the Playboy Bunny logo on one side, and a 'C1' on the other.

The jaws of the other men nearly dropped to the floor.

And the cards Ellen had been shuffling fell into a messy heap on the table.

"I must admit, I had wondered why Hefner brought that up when he gave me this," Tyki nonchalantly stated while studying his key, ignoring the choking noises coming from his fellow players. "I normally visit casinos to gamble, not pick up women." The dark-haired man let it drop into the palm of his hand and closed his fingers into a tight grip. He then switched his gaze to the Bunny, staring at him with shocked delight, and gave her a wickedly sinful smirk while purring out, "Although… this time I'm open to making an exception."

'Well, well,' Ellen gleefully thought as she fluttered her lashes and sent him a sultry smile, 'it appears I'll be having company tonight.'

- xXx -


Cultural Notes:

The Bunny Mother – An older woman in charge of managing the appearance of the Bunnies, as well as making sure they followed the rules.

C1 Key-holders – Comprised of Hugh Hefner himself, Playboy executives, and any man that Hefner wanted to impress. And yes, they were the only patrons the Bunnies could date. Partly because Hugh Hefner wanted to keep the image of the women being mysterious and unattainable, and partly to avoid comparisons to the escort service.

Bunny Meeting – A general meeting held once a month that all Bunnies had to attend.

Bunny Council – Representatives of each club room who meet with the Bunny Mother once per month to present the concerns of the Bunnies.

Weigh-ins – The weigh-ins were conducted daily, as Playboy wanted the Bunnies to keep any weight gain to a minimum. Which was helped by the fact that they weren't allowed to drink or eat during their shift.

Inspections – Any imperfections with their uniforms meant that the Bunnies were given demerits. And the criticism really was delivered in a rather nasty way.

Bunny Manual – Basically just another employee manual. It not only listed the rules the Bunnies had to follow, it also gave them some advice.

Check – The player stays in the game without betting any chips.

Small blind – The person who starts off the betting.

Big blind – The person who bets the minimal amount of chips for the first round.

Flush – Poker hand made up of five, non-sequentially ranked cards of the same suite.

Poker host – The person who manages the lists for poker card games.

Post – Betting the same amount to the game's big blind in order to be dealt right away.

Burn – Discard a card.

Call – Betting the minimum amount of chips to stay in the game.

Raise – Adding more than the minimum betting amount to the pot.

Fold – Exiting the game and giving up your cards to the dealer.

Private investigators – Yes, Hugh Hefner actually hired them to test his Bunnies. They would offer large sums of money, flirt, and do whatever they could to tempt the women into breaking the rules. However, very few Bunnies ever fell for it. While working for Playboy had its downfalls, their job was safe and could net them lots of cash in tips.

Two pair – Poker hand with two sets of two equally ranked cards along with an extra.

Straight – Poker hand made up of five sequentially ranked cards.

532 British pounds today – 8,817.38, after inflation. If you then exchange that for US dollars, you end up with about 10,933.55.

- x -

I tried to hold back with the cultural notes this time, since it mostly comes from the YouTube video I mentioned earlier. It's title is "What It Was Like to Be a 60s Playboy Bunny", and was made by the Weird History channel. Check it out!

Only one more day of Poker Pair Week to go!

Leave a review or send a PM if you want. Have a good day~!