The Empire 
Outfit is some kind of winter coat, an appropriate shirt and gray sweatpants I'm sorry

Winter was actually kind of terrible, wasn't it, so that made doing fun new things that got you out of your house important! Ted could go to all the rich middle aged people parties he could find this month, but he would still feel sad inside at the end of the day, and that was why it was important to do things like try to bilk a casino. With friends! A young friend, even, who made you technically cooler in your age group just by association!

He was completely excited about this date. He was completely especially excited about grifting a casino out of a lot of money and then SPENDING it! What if he bought a jet ski!!! Shuffling around his little car, he whistled a nervous tune and began to high-tail it to the doors in the frigid wind.

Ashley was so nervous! But very excited! Also quite cold! She made for a speedy scoot toward the front doors, squinting her whole face up for the cold.

This was almost definitely probably illegal. But, like. It was taking money from a place that took money from lots of other people. And maybe it was owned by Donald Trump or something!

She moved hurriedly toward the door, and very conveniently, Ted was arriving at the same time! She had plans to open the door for him, but some fancy person at the front did the door opening for them!


outfit plus a cheap black coat


Hey!!!!!!! It was Ashley! They hustled into the heat-blasted entryway and he beamed at her, too excited for a paternal side-hug! Instead she did a big restorative shiver and clapped her on the shoulder. "Hey, you clean up nice, kid! I think we look perfect!" The second set of doors opened as he made to step through, blinking with a doglike bright alertness at the lobby luring them to a desk and, beyond, a factory farm setup of slot machines.

Shoulder thump! It made her feel young, but not in a bad way. She sniffled where her nose wanted to run, then smiled to his appraisal.

Now would have been the time to appreciate his luck shirt, but it was hard to tear her eyes away from the spectacular rush of color and sound ahead of them. She blinked, almost overwhelmed. How much money did this place make?

"I've never been in a casino," she admitted, voice low with awe. There was a desk to do... something! Get chips? Did slots use chips? Or did you just get change?

She'd trust Ted's expertise here.

"Oh!" He croaked! "You're gonna love it!" It was like being inside a cartoon, or a dream, all bright colors and disorienting, and grown-ass adults walking around with their mouths hanging open. "It's like going from Kansas to Oz, except all the munchkins are here just to take your money."

He continued his merry way to the desk, where he exchanged six bank-fresh hundred-dollar bills for a stack of black and green casino tokens. As soon as they were in his hands he realized he had no system for carrying them, and loaded them into coat pockets with a look of obvious bewilderment. That handled, he quirked his head at Ash and grinned, a little teasingly. "You gonna put any of your own cashola on the line?"

Going from Kansas to Oz. That seemed like a good comparison, and it only heightened the sense of wonder. Though as she saw Ted pile out hundreds (they didn't even look real!), Ashley realized something very foolish.

You had to spend money to make money, Ashley. Her mouth felt a little dry, and she realized she had next to no cash on her.

"Oh, gosh, do I- should it be cash?"

She was already fishing out her wallet, trying to remember how much she had in her bank account. Could she do one hundred?

He hadn't expected her to do any gambling of her own, not necessarily, but it was funny that she didn't seem to have considered it either way! He clacked his chips around in his pockets and looked entertained, as per usual. "Yeah, they got some ATMs over there if you want to." He pointed a coat pocket toward a back wall. "I'll spot you fifty though, we'll see if we can make it back!" And accordingly, he produced four...five green tokens and offered them to his accomplice.

Ashley, Ashley, Ashley! Be a grown up! Pay for your own gambling!

"I can get a hundred out," she said, a little sheepish, but trying to be cool about it all! She had this! Grown up gambling... luck magic! "But I won't say no to another fifty."

There was a tiny bit of mischief, the little hint of... maybe it was greed, or something, that came with getting paid to do her healing work.

However they managed it, she'd be able to trade it out for coins (chips?) which she would similarly cram into her jacket pockets.

Yeah!!! That was the spirit! He waggled his eyebrows conspiratorially at her as he dumped the chips into her hand. And once she was fully chipped up, they were ready to amble out into the wide, loud hall of slot machines, the loudest and largest room and also probably the busiest. Luckily Ted was great at yelling! "So, if you look into it, all these games have different odds for payout! The casinos have to guarantee a certain percentage, and they gotta post it on the machines. But slot machines have terrible odds for the player, I think people just like zoning out and getting a light show! You wanna start here or go in to the game room?"

As they approached and fully entered the slot machine space, Ashley's head felt like it might fly off her shoulders a little. Her eyes grew to saucers, and she blinked as a thousand million sounds flooded her.

Something shouting "Wheel! Of! Fortune!" Clips of the FRIENDS theme song?! Every beep and boop and clink imaginable. Sirens, whistles. A "yeeehawwww!" Bad Egyptian themed music. Many, many cats meowing.

It took her a second to grasp what Ted told her, and then she hummed, except very loudly, which felt pretty silly.

"I guess worse odds is harder for you!" she talk-yelled. "Let's do what has the best odds!"

"Groovy!" His voice cracked, as if his power was gearing up in anticipation. "I'll teach you how to do roulette!"

Outside of the slots hall, the volume for ambient noise slipped back to manageable, and Ted found them a place at a table with an unimpeded view. "Okay! So basically, you can put chips on any of the betting options on the table, hostess spins the wheel, and depending on what the ball lands on you get a payout! The outside row there, if you bet even and it lands on even, that pays out one to one! Then if you bet on dozens, that second row, or on columns over on the side there, that's two to one odds. That's the simple stuff, so let's start there!" Outside betting started to get needlessly complicated, and hey! This was a great beginner's lesson in gambling!

Ashley still felt a little like coins were rattling around in her brain, but she listened as keenly as she could to Ted's instructions.

Okay. Just put some chips on a number and... okay.

Was it smarter for them to do bets that overlapped so they could both win?! How often would they win? Gosh!

"Okay, let's do it," she said, finding that saying it out loud helped her believe she had a grip on this.

"Probably start small with like... evens?"

She held a single measly chip and looked to Ted for approval!

There was a fleeting part of Ted that felt like a creepy, corrupting older influence on Ashley, and maybe he should have felt worse about that than he did. But this was fun! He nodded decisively and pulled out a ten dollar chip from his bulging pocket. In a narratively convenient way, the hostess was taking bets for the next spin, and so Ted raised the chip in the air and called out, [q]Ten on evens,[/i] in authoritative way, as if he were not wearing sweatpants and a Big Dog shirt. The woman gave him a split second of attention before nodding and turning to another bidder. Looking proud of himself, he turned back to Ash and jiggled his eyebrows encouragingly. Her next!

Ashley watched his every move like he was teaching her how to fix an out of control nuclear reactor.

Take chip. Hold chip up. Deep breath.

"Tens on- ten on evens! Please."

And then she breathed out the hugest sigh, clenching it halfway through. Was it sketchy if they bet on the same thing and won? This was unexpectedly complex! She looked back to Ted, smiling with a hint of grimace. Good or bad?!

Ash might have trouble reading Ted's response, as he was keeping it very cool and FLASHING HER A BIG THUMBS UP AND OPEN MOUTH SMILE. She was doing great! Their little chips nestled on evens, and within a minute or two, the hostess set the wheel off, and Ted began to think hard about probability.

Spinning! Ball rattling! With what felt like just the right amount of suspense, it began to slow and clattered into a red compartment. 14! They'd won twenty bucks!

Ted yelled like it was a hundred and jostled Ashley. "Eyyyyy! Like nothin!" Okay it was too early to do a lucky charm joke but he was excited to get there.

As the wheel spun and the ball tumbled, Ashley found she was holding her breath. Like a single puff of mouth breathing would be the butterfly effect that set every bit of this off course.

But as the ball bounced the last few notches, settling into an even slot, her heart practically exploded in excitement. The hook was instant.

"Yes!" she cheered, hands shooting into the air like this hadn't been fifty-fifty odds even without Ted's help. Did they immediately choose something trickier? Split up? Holy crap!

She looked at him a little wild eyed, marveling.

"Maybe I go evens and you go... harder?!"

Haha!! He wasn't even sure he'd made that one happen, but that was fine! They were both having fun, and both with that little seed of...avarice growing in their bellies. Ted accepted double the chips back, all smiles, and clacked his together as he turned to Ash and considered. That could work! She could dip her toes in and he could see how far he could push himself today. "Yeah, yeah!!" He kind of...shoved at Ashley's upper arm in friendly excitement, and turned back to the hostess with chips rattling. "Twenty on first twelve!"

First twelve! How much was that again? Double? Ash put in her safe evens bet, heart racing.

As it spun, she nearly covered her eyes, wondering what the tell would be if Ted was actually using his powers. Did his eyes change?! She never even really noticed.

It was impossible not to feel kind of hyped up by it all?

Ted was an unlikely... well, what was it? Gambling mentor? Super power cheerleader?

Ashley wasn't entirely sure, but she appreciated it deep,

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