Title: Research
Author: Jrgnfly
Rating: PG Timeline: Anytime Pre-Insurrection Disclaimer: Parmount's ideas of poker games were never like this.

2015 Hours – Commander Riker's quarters

"Jack and I once did it in the morgue at Starfleet Medical," Crusher confided in her companions, her blue eyes sparkling. She glanced at the five cards in her hand and tossed the ante towards the center of the table.

"Beverly! I think that qualifies as too much information." Troi said, aghast at the image that appeared in her head. She walked further into the room and pulled a chair beside Riker's at the table, falling into it gracefully .

Data dealt her in. "Counselor, the game is five card draw. Dr. Crusher was answering a question I posed to the group before you arrived."

"I don't think I want to know." Data's questions had been unknowingly intrusive on multiple occasions in the past.

Crusher laughed at her friend's apprehensive expression. "Data's been furthering his studies on humanoid relationships again. He simply asked where the most creative place we'd ever had an intimate encounter was."

Troi looked carefully at her hand, seeing Riker's smirk from the corner of her eye and sensing the light hearted mood from all the players. She requested three cards, discarding all but her pair of queens.

"From anyone else I'd assume prurient interest. Still, it seems you'll be getting a very subjective dataset for analysis." Staring at the now three queens and pair of threes she now held, she tossed an additional twenty credits into the pot; her poker face firmly in place.

"Not at all, Counselor." LaForge chimed in. "Data will be taking a random sampling from the crew before he comes to any conclusions. "Take me, for example. My experience was in a runabout, tame compared to most. And nothing on the doc over there." With a visible wince at the now defunct straight in his hands, the chief engineer folded; dropping out of the first hand of the evening. He tipped his head in acknowledgment of the red-haired CMO.

Crusher smiled prettily and requested two cards then saw Troi's twenty and raised the bet by ten.

Riker slouched in his chair, surveying the players at the table. He perused his hand, weighing the possible outcomes silently. He stroked his beard and requested a single card, throwing in the necessary chips.

"I'd have to second the runabout, Geordi." His smile deepened and turned devilish. "Back in my Academy days… but I was piloting the shuttle at the time."

"Will! I cannot believe you're contributing to this kind of talk."

From each side of her both Data and Riker turned and stared in rapt fascination. The counselor definitely appeared to be blushing, very unlike her usual unflappable demeanor. Riker chuckled and patted her shoulder affectionately.

"Relax, Deanna. As Geordi said, it's all in the name of research." With his blue eyes twinkling Riker threw an additional fifty credits into the pot.

Troi scowled and followed suit. Riker winked at her, thoroughly enjoying her discomfort as she squirmed in her chair.

Data folded but Crusher remained in the game and began ribbing her friend.

"Ignore Counselor Troi, Data. For all their reputation as a species of free spirits, Betazoids have been known to be surprisingly close minded about certain things. Perhaps sex is one of them."

Troi shot her a murderous glance before retorting, "Not at all close minded, Doctor. Just close mouthed." Instantly understanding the myriad ways that comment could be construed her face flushed a deeper shade of pink. LaForge hooted and Riker just shook his head as Troi buried her face in her palms, breathing deeply in order to balance herself. Now she'd have to find a way to redeem herself for that comment.

Data watched the interplay in silence, no doubt attempting to analyze every nuance of the conversation.

Troi raised her head; all eyes at the table upon her.

"It's all right, Deanna. I don't think you could best the good doctor anyway." Riker's blue eyes locked on her in sympathy. He had a good idea of what Troi would have to contribute to Data's "research." He hadn't said it himself; it would have been entirely too obvious that they were referencing the same experience if he had done so. And that wouldn't have been gentlemanly at all, though he would have loved to watch her face if he had.

Sensing his amusement at her expense, Troi broke away from the mesmerizing gaze and began furiously glaring across the table at Crusher. She held the cards closer to her chest and remained silent.

"What's the matter, Deanna? " Crusher asked with an arched brow and a sorrowful tone. "Nothing memorable coming to mind? After all it'd be hard for anyone to beat the morgue or a runabout."

Riker leaned forward and tossed in another twenty credits.

"Or a waterfall in the jungle," he murmured under his breath, for her ears only. At the warm touch of his breath on her neck Troi jerked straight up, met the raise and looked everywhere but in his direction.

After a few deep breaths she was supremely calm once again. "On the contrary, Beverly," she demurred. "Maybe there are too many for me to choose from."

Crusher snorted in an unladylike manner and rested her elbows on the table. "Just come out with it, Deanna. We all know Betazoids don't lie and I promise that no one will think less of you if your answer isn't that interesting."

"Fine." Troi paused briefly before responding. "At the Zero G training facility. During a simulation."

LaForge covered his look of shock with a well placed cough and Crusher fell back in her chair, eyes wide and mouth agape.

"Now that takes agility," the CMO replied with admiration, suitably impressed. She dropped her cards on the table and folded.

Troi smiled at her, extremely pleased with herself. "Thank you, Beverly." She turned towards the only player left in the game. "I'll call." Her lips curled into a secretive smile as she forced Riker's bluff to the table then swept the chips to her place at the table.

Riker's mood darkened considerably as a surge of jealousy rushed through him before he could subdue it. That was not at all what he'd expected her to say. After another few hands had been dealt, a light sprang to his eyes. Endless possibilities flashed through his mind. Perhaps one day he'd be able to convince her to… all in the name of Data's research of course.


The End.