Can’t Help Falling In Love

Written for a music prompts games. The prompt was “Can’t Help Falling In Love” by the Eels.

The new bartender’s name was Daniel and he was beautiful. Rich, dark eyes, curly dark hair that sprung back from his face, dexterous hands, a smile that was friendly and sincere no matter how often he flashed it during that long first shift. People forgave his mistakes because of that smile, tipped him extra because of those eyes, waited patiently for their orders because of those hands. He was too good for this place, said everyone, he’d be gone in six months.

Nicholas sat at the piano as the bar staff swept the floor and put up chairs, to play a bit of music to make cleaning go easier. While the bar was open he played and sang, and sometimes ducked bottles, and sometimes helped the more unruly of their patrons find their way out the door. His piano was at just the right angle to see the bar, and he’d been watching Daniel all night. The new ones sometimes knew they weren’t right for the place after the first night, and you could see it in their faces if they didn’t plan to come back. But Daniel — oh, Daniel just went on smiling, and sometimes if he saw Nicholas looking that smile lit up in his direction, too.

Nicholas smiled back. It came as a complete surprise.

Now that the bar was closed and Daniel was pushing a broom around the floor, he sang along as Nicholas played. It was an old song, everybody knew it, people would gather around the piano and sing along to it sometimes if the evening felt generous and friendly, and it made sense that Nicholas knew it too. What surprised Nicholas was that Daniel, in addition to eyes hands cheekbones mouth etc., also had a voice that was sweet and pure as mountain spring water, a voice that climbed effortlessly to the high notes and tumbled easily to the low.

He pushed the broom closer to the piano, now singing in counterpoint as Nicholas carried the melody. Their voices blended as naturally as the sounds of wind and water, and the other staff stopped their chores to listen. Nicholas didn’t even want to scold them, not when he had a perfect duet partner for the first time in months. The magic of Daniel’s voice made the old piano sound as true as a grand on a concert stage, made Nicholas’s voice sound like a finely-tuned instrument of its own, and Nicholas hated to play the final bars and finish the song.

“Perfection,” he said to Daniel.

“We should sing again sometime,” said Daniel, smiling that smile, and Nicholas knew he’d sing again with this man any time he asked.