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An Old Hand

"I don't do it because it's easy, kid. I do it because it's hard."

Cards danced between tense fingers, flipping and fluttering in a dance of blatant lies.

The watchers ate it up. Ten dollars, fourteen, twenty-three. Everyone left him poorer, but entertained. Every single one believed they had a chance. Everyone thought they saw the Ace.

They did. Ace always looked them right in the eye when he lied to them.

Deuce, the temporary nickname of his temporary partner, was not impressed. "This is a waste of time. I've studied manipulation, coercion, pickpocketing, seduction, and that other thing - oh, yeah, corporate espionage. You know, our job? We're supposed to be cracking Mer-Cal, not providing delightful street color to its hourlies. I'm leaving." Deuce got up. Ace grabbed his arm.

"Kid-"

"Don't call me-"

"Kid." He waved off the crowd, then flicked up one of their key-cards from his sleeve.

"Is that it?!" Deuce swore under his breath. "I can hack supercomputers with my skin, remember?"

Ace nodded. "You can. And y'know what? Despite illustrious graduates like yourself, Mer-Cal still exists. Ever wonder why?" Deuce considered, rubbing his palms together. Hairs rose as he met Ace's eyes. That gaze reflected his own tombstone and it was far from alone. Rookie Heaven or Rookie Hell. It always started with an Ace and sometimes? That's where it ended.

Eventually, Deuce swore. "It goes both ways, doesn't it?"

Ace smirked, pulling the Ace of Spades from Deuce's coat pocket. "And that's why you work for me. I don't do it because it's easy, little Larry. I do it because it's actually pretty goddamned hard." With a snap of his fingers, an impractically large pistol appeared from thin air.

"Shall we, then?" he asked. He pulled on shades dusted like diamonds with broken glass.

They did. Ace never had to fire a shot.

Good thing, too. The gun was empty.

(Prompt: yeahwriters:

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Prompt idea by tea-is-cool:

Write about a magic show that turns out to be a “cover-up" for something else.

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(c) 2013 Lawerence Hawkins