"So how’d you do that trick?"
Nico looked up from his drink at the barkeeper, that he had been pretending not to notice. “You’ll have to be more specific, I do a lot of tricks.” Nico cocked an eyebrow, but the blonde didn’t seem to catch the innuendo.
"The one when you, like, shadow hopped. You were on the balcony all of a sudden! But last night you appeared behind the bar, and before that-"
"Oooh," Nico took another drink, "THAT trick. It’s simple, really."
"Yeah?" The barkeeper looked like an over enthusiastic puppy dog. Nico couldn’t help but smile along.
"Yeah. I’m a wizard."
The barkeeper’s face fell, “Oh, come on. Really, how’d you do it?”
"Ok ok, not so much a wizard so much as a necromancer. I talk to dead people, harness the powers of the underworld, ecetera ecetera."
"Hmm. I guess I’m impressed you’re making money off of your high school goth phase. I still want to know how you did the trick."
"I’m telling the truth." Nico tossed his head back and fought back a grin, before staring the barkeeper in his twinkling, gorgeous eyes. OK maybe he had a little too much to drink. But his glass kept becoming magically full again. Hahaha. Ha. “Really. I’m a necromancer.”
"I’m not filling your glass until you tell me the truth." The blond teased, shaking the bottle of gin for emphasis.
"Uuuh, unfair. Totally unfair, it wouldn’t be ~~magic~~ if you knew how I did it."
"Fine, ok, I get that," the barkeeper shrugged, "But you do have to tell me one truth, at least."
"Truth is only a matter of perspective."
The blonde ignored him, “What’s your real name?”
"Huh?" Nico blinked, "My real name?”
"Yeah. We’re on this boat together for another MONTH, you might as well tell your favorite barkeeper your real name instead of your stage handle."
"Who said you’re my favorite?"
"This bottle that I keep tipping into your glass. And the special martini you order from me every week after your show. That only I know how to make."
"…fine. You’re right. My name is Nico."
"Nico…" He rolled the name around in his mouth, and seemed to decide he liked the taste, "Nico. Nice, still cool. I’m Jason."
"I can read.” Nico gestured vaguely to Jason’s golden name tag. Although, he would have to admit, he hadn’t actually taken the time to read it until tonight. Damn, he really was an awful person, huh?
"Right, yeah. So, how’d you do that trick?"
"You didn’t fill my drink." Nico held out an empty glass for emphasis.
"Never said I would. Looks like you’re just going to have to tell me-" Jason blinked. Nico had…well, there wasn’t any other word for it, vanished. Into the shadows of the bar.
"Shit!" Jason brought the glass bottle around behind him as he felt something touch his back. He was met with empty space and laughter, and he turned and saw the magician back in his seat, face flushed with humor.
"I told you," Nico laughed, "I’m a necromancer."
"Yeah, right," Jason squinted at Nico, who was staring right back. His eyes had a mad glint in them, and moved like shadows. Jason found himself drawn into his gaze, felt a shiver down his spine. He realized he’d been staring when Nico’s gravely laugh brought him back to earth.
"You were staring," Nico said.
"Was too. It takes a brave man to look a wizard in the eyes. Brave or just stupid. Which is it?"
"Huh?" Jason blinked.
"Are you brave?" Nico stood, sliding a bundle of bill towards Jason’s tip jar, "Or are you stupid?"
"Both, then. I’ll see you around, Jason."
Nico laughed again, grabbing a half-empty beer bottle and sauntering away with a vague wave behind his back.
"Hey!" Jason yelled after him, snatching the tip up and counting it absent mindlessly, before noticing a thin slip of paper in the bills. He pulled it out and examined it.
Nico di Angelo - Wizard
Lost items Found. Dead resurrected*. No children’s parties- adult parties; negotiable.
He squinted at the small phone number printed. “SO I’LL CALL YOU?” he shouted after Nico’s back, and thought he might have heard the boy laughing.
"We work on the same boat. I’m in the same place every night. But yeah. Call me."
By next weekend, the text on the business card was smudged and unreadable, creases running through it like veins from where Jason had worried it.
Nico di Angelo - Wizard.
It could have been a joke. It was probably a joke. But something about Nico had stuck with him. It was more than the show Jason had ignored tens of times before, more than the card tricks and fire juggling. Nico had stared at him-stared into him, and since they had formally introduced i\each other last week, Jason could get Nico's flippant grin out of his head.
He'd offered Nico a beer, and with a knowing grin, the magician had accepted. They sat across from each other at the bar making awkward conversation before Jason took a deep breath and asked the question that had been weighing on his mind.
"So…" Jason tapped the business card Nico had left him, "A wizard?"
"I told you." Nico shrugged.
"But really…I mean, you’re just a magician, right?"
"I told you, Jason Grace, I’m a wizard. A necromancer. I don’t have any reason to lie-“
"No one believes me anyway." Nico tapped his card, "But the ‘real magic’ thing makes me popular. Especially among a certain type of nerdy girl. And a more particular type of nerdy guy.”
Jason blinked. “I never told you my last name.”
"Aaah, so he DOES pay attention! I told yooouuu, I’m a wizard.”
"Or you looked at the pay roll for the ship."
"Or I looked at the pay roll for the ship. Who knows? Not you. And that, dear barkeep, is how I keep my mysterious and cool image and you and everyone else stays in a questioning state of mesmerized amazement.”
Jason frowned at the card again. It couldn’t be real, could it? But Nico’s skills were uncanny…but-
"So. What does negotiable mean?"
Nico stared at him before bursting into laughter, “Negotiable means negotiable. My “high school goth phase” is popular among those particular types. Like I said, Jason, I know a lot of tricks.”
"So, how exactly do you ‘raise the dead’?" asked Jason on a rainy 1 AM somewhere just off the Florida coast, sipping on a cheap beer.
"By asking them out for a beer," replied Nico, finishing his own drink and looking incredibly serious.
"Seriously?" Jason tossed Nico another can - perks of being the barman.
"Seriously." Nico nodded in thanks and opened the can like pro - perks of having intrigued the barman.
"So what the dearly departed drink? Bud or something classy?"
"Depends," Nico paused to think, "Actually, a few of them really just want a rootbeer and some french fries. But most like booze."
"Booze? So not just beer?"
"The older the spirit the finer the spirit they crave." The wizard smiled at his own joke, like he’d made it many times before, "But I work on commission and can only afford miller light, so they’ll have to settle."
"Broke. It’s different. How about you, then, Jason? What’s your drink?”
"Why, did you want to buy me one?"
Jason grinned, and leaned across to look Nico in the eye, despite his constant warnings of the danger of eye contact with a wizard. He didn’t mind so much being under di Angelo’s spell, whatever it was. He trusted him.
Nico returned Jason’s steady gaze. Minutes passed before Nico laughed, “Yeah. I do, Jason. Make yourself up your favorite, and I’ll buy.”
"Are you sure, I’m an expensive date."
"Can’t be too pricey, not looking like that."
"Looking like what exactly?” And Jason grinned in the way that earned him extra tips and willed his eyes to twinkle and in the hazy light he convinced himself Nico was blushing.
"Like a man who stared into a wizard’s eyes."
"I like your eyes."
There was silence again, and Jason leaned closer. “I do, really. They’re nice eyes, for a necromancer.”