With all the Blank Mastermind writing, I was beginning to miss some of my other characters. Namely, Cobalt, from Odd Team Out.
So when I saw a prompt come up for a “1920s con artist AU”, how could I resist?
Presenting, that weird story where an amnesiac villain and a cyborg become three-card-monty hustlers in the 1920s.
Wolfgang meets Cobalt.
“This one’s a classic, kid. Practically fool proof.” Wolfgang shuffled his card deck, then shot them in a clean stream from one hand to the other. “It’s a great starting point. You’ll be up in the big con in no time. No way you can mess this one up.”
Cobalt watched, mesmerized. He swallowed. Well, you don’t know me . . .
Wolfgang pulled the brim of Cobalt’s paperboy hat sideways. His black hair got pushed into his eyes and Wolfgang grinned. “Just stick with me and do what I told you, alright?”
Cobalt pulled his hat straight, “Yup.”
“Atta boy.” Wolfgang ran a finger over the brim of his bowler hat, briefly touching the feather lodged there, then stepped out onto the sidewalk. He nodded back at Cobalt, “Hey, grab that crate, will ya?”
There was a thud and Wolfgang turned to see Cobalt scrambling to his feet with a scrape on his cheek. He shook his head.
After a few seconds of loud, painful scraping noises, the crate was out on the street. Wolfgang seated himself behind it, tucked his long-ish hair behind his ears and cuffed up his patchy jacket sleeves. Cobalt leaned against the corner of the brick building nearby and ran over his instructions again.
Number 1. Act disinterested and like you don’t know Wolfgang.
Cobalt stuck his hands in his pockets, pushed his hat up and tried to look utterly bored with the world. It went pretty well until a lady walked by with an unbelievably poofy dog and he snickered.
Wolfgang did a few impressive looking card flourishes and shot Cobalt a look. A few interested glances were shot his way, but he kept his eyes on the cards.
Carefully, he pulled out two black eights and a red queen and set them in front of him. He practiced a few times of shuffling the three cards around and flipping them over, then took in a breath.
“Can you find the queen? Test your skill! Watch the cards and win big!” Wolfgang hid a wince as he called. So much cheese. But you had to lay it on thick if you wanted folks to fall for it.
He practiced a few more times. His hands were steady and swift and the cards flew perfectly into place. He called out another advertisement. Still, no one came.
Number 2. Act interested in the game and place a couple bets, winning some and loosing some.
Cobalt pushed himself off of the wall and sauntered over to the crate where Wolfgang sat. Wolfgang grinned up at him.
“Wanna give ‘er a go, kid?”
“Would I ever!” Cobalt enthused. Wolfgang flinched and Cobalt guessed that was a bit too interested. He coughed into his elbow and gave a small nod. “I mean . . . sure. Why not?”
Wolfgang flipped over the cards and pointed them out to Cobalt, “So what you’ve gotta do is just follow the queen, okay? Put your dollar on which one you think it is. And if you’re right I’ll give you another dollar for every one you put down.”
“Okay.” Cobalt tugged at his suspenders and watched as the cards flew back and forth. They stopped and Wolfgang raised his eyebrows.
A well-dressed man sauntered up semi-nearby. Both noticed, but neither of them looked at him.
Cobalt dropped a coin on the card on the left. “That one.”
Wolfgang flicked the card over, “You got it, bud. Try again?” He handed Cobalt two shiny dollar coins.
The man stepped closer, looking intrigued.
Cobalt nodded and Wolfgang shuffled the cards around again. His dirty hands hovered over the tattered, red backs of the cards. Steady and sure. Cobalt blinked, willing himself very hard not to look at the other man.
“Th-that one.” Cobalt plunked his coin down on one of the eights. Wolfgang flipped it over and Cobalt smacked his forehead and groaned.
“Better luck next time, huh?” Wolfgang swiped the coin off the crate and stuck it in the pocket of his roughly sewn coat. “Have another go?”
Cobalt meant to win the next one, but lost track and flipped another eight. Another coin went into Wolfgang’s pocket.
The man who’d been watching stepped a little closer and Cobalt allowed himself to look now. His eyes went straight to the badge pinned on the man’s coat.
The officer tipped his head, “Having a fun game, boys?”
Wolfgang picked up the cards and shoved them in his pocket as he stood. “Fantastic, sir. Just finishing up.” He kicked the crate back into the alley as the officer walked away.
They watched his retreating, blue clad back for a few seconds.
Wolfgang leaned over to Cobalt, “Whaddya say we swipe something from the bakery for dinner instead?”
Hope you enjoyed my little goofy thing for the day. 😉
Like the story? Any other AUs you’d like to see?