1. Poses Plastiques were peep shows in which live women wore costumes and posed for paying customers to see. Often times the costumes and/or poses left little the imagination.
"Labouchere's Law"- In an attempt to curb prostitution, a law was proposed to raise the age of consent from 13 to 16. It met little support until Henry Labouchere added a clause in which any man, regardless of age, who committed acts of "gross indecency" with another man, whether in public or in private could be imprisoned up to two years with or without hard labor. The law passed August 1885 and went into effect January 1, 1886.
"SCANDAL ON CLEVELAND STREET"
These four words, in large, block letters, seemed to shatter the quiet of the breakfast room with a thunderous shout.
The tea cup in Ciel's hand clattered against the small plate and brown liquid sloshed over the edge. Sebastian's eyes zeroed in on the tea that seeped into the previously pristine tablecloth. Ciel turned and glared at him with one pale eye, the newspaper held out in front of him for Sebastian to see.
"The queen will not be happy." He threw the paper down onto the table. Sebastian's eyes darted to his master's, to the pale brow scrunched up like an old man's.
Sebastian's gloved hand moved to rest upon Ciel's shoulder, to offer a comforting gesture. Startled, Ciel glanced at the hand, and flinched away. His eyes narrowed at Sebastian and the offensive hand quickly retreated.
"There is no evidence left for them to find," Sebastian said firmly. Ciel glanced at the newspaper as though proof against his statement was somehow written across its folded pages. "You did your job, Master. The situation is resolved."
Ciel's jaw clenched once, twice, and then relaxed slowly. The angry line in his brow softened and for a moment, Sebastian was reminded of how young Ciel really was.
Ciel glanced at the shoulder where Sebastian's hand had hovered moments before. He took a slow, deep breath and suppressed a small shudder.
"All of it?" he asked.
Their eyes met and froze, equally stone-faced and equally silent in a room tense with the knowledge that Sebastian could not lie.
In the Morning...
The carriage shook along the cobblestone streets of London's West End. Ciel kept his head tucked inside and as close to the back of the carriage as possible, careful to hide from the sunny summer air blowing in from the window. It was not the air that disagreed with him, but the ladies and men on horses, gallivanting up and down the fashionable streets in the latest dresses of the season. The fewer people who knew he was in town, the better, he thought.
He kept a letter clasped in his fingers, tapping the parchment against his thigh. He glimpsed snatches of shop fronts, gentlemen congregating in small circles, and ladies bustling in and out of doors in droves. He ran his thumb over the sealing wax and felt the grooves left by the queen's personal mark.
He did not want to be here during the season.
He glanced at the letter again, careful not to let the small card attached slip out of his lap. The queen's unusually messy writing was still as brief, still as uninformative as before.
Shut this abomination down, immediately! Scotland Yard must not get involved.
Her scrawling signature was the most legible word on the page, aside from the "not" which bled darker than the others. She must have pressed the nib down extra hard; as though the multiple underlines beneath the word were not emphasis enough.
Ciel picked up the small black card and turned it over and over in his fingers. He stared at it, wondering how such a small advertisement could incite such a reaction from the usually somber queen. The card turned silently in his fingers, answering nothing and offering only the promise of poses plastiques at an address on the West End's Cleveland Street. He would get to the bottom of this and quickly. The last thing he needed was another London season.
The carriage slowed, coming to a halt before the Phantomhive townhouse. Ciel slipped the letter back into his pocket, glancing out the window and noting that it looked intact from the outside. He would see how well Soma and Agni had done their job as soon as he stepped inside. Sebastian's smiling face appeared in the window. The door swung open and he extended a white gloved hand. Ciel waved it away, using his cane to help himself down. He tried to remind Sebastian that, at fourteen, he was not a child. He stood a little straighter as soon as he was out, grateful to stretch his legs. He stepped forward, through the open iron gate and inspected the gardens as he walked along. He climbed up the short staircase and was startled when the door swung open from the inside. Agni and Soma's faces smiled down at him from the doorway.
"Ciel! It's been too long! I thought you would never come visit me." Soma pouted.
Ciel ignored Soma and pushed his way through the doorway.
"Now that you're here, we can have all sorts of fun!"' Soma threw his arms around Ciel from behind, resting his chin on Ciel's shoulder. Ciel struggled to stay upright, wishing Soma would stop leaning on him when he was so much heavier. The head of his cane wobbled under the added weight. Soma paused and stopped leaning on him. He kept his arms clasped lightly around Ciel's neck. "Hey Shorty, I think you've grown a little since I last saw you. I don't have to hurt my back bending over so much." Ciel twitched with annoyance. He straightened his posture when Soma tried to measure his height with a flattened palm hovering in the air. Soma moved his hand from the top of Ciel's head to his chest. He repeated the motion for safe measure. "You did grow!" Soma clapped his hands and smiled. "Maybe someday you'll even reach my chin!"
Ciel glared and pushed his way through the entryway and up the stairs. It was a long journey and he wanted to relax. What he really needed was more quiet and perhaps a sugary pick-me-up as soon as Sebastian had seen to the horses. He took a glance around his family townhouse. The paintings quietly greeted him from the black and white papered walls. Ciel wrinkled his nose a little when he noticed a rather rudimentary drawing tacked up next to Great Aunt Fanny. Aside from this small addition, everything looked fine and he supposed he had Agni to thank for that. He even approved of the faint lavender aroma permeating the air.
He wondered what Soma did to help, but didn't dare ask. He feared the drawings he'd have to look at if he did.
Soma babbled and Ciel nodded at him absently as he made his way up the stairs. Agni opened the door for both of them and ushered them into the sunny sitting room. "I'll put some tea on," Agni said, bustling about the room. Ciel nodded his thanks and collapsed into a tall, cushy chair. After hours in a carriage, it felt heavenly to sit in something so comfortable, and so stationary.
"You must be tired!" Soma said. "I bet a game will perk you right up! I've been practicing my card games with Agni and I warn you, you can't beat me so easily anymore!" Soma crossed his arms with a smug sort of smile on his face.
"I don't have time to play with you now." Soma's face visibly fell. Ciel wondered how someone so much older than him could be so much more childish.
"Not even one teensy weensy game?"
Ciel noticed the deck of cards in Soma's hand. He had no doubt Soma had been practicing since Ciel sent out the letter warning of his arrival. If there was one thing Soma had worked hard at during the past year or so of their acquaintance, it was trying to best Ciel at anything and everything.
"What could be so important?" Soma twisted up his lip and his eyebrows furrowed.
"Business," Ciel replied.
"You just got here!" Soma insisted, waving the cards in his face. Ciel sighed and closed his eyes. He had to give Soma points for persistence.
"Tonight. I promise." He would have to send Sebastian out alone tonight. He hated the idea, but he could not be caught wandering the West End. He would be recognized. After receiving the Queen's Warrant last year, he was too well known.
Ciel realized Soma was smiling up at him hopefully. He let out another sigh.
Agni came to the rescue with the tea and cart. He placed a cup on the coffee table and poured a spicy-scented tea. "I hope the young master enjoys Masala Chai."
Ciel sniffed the cup, having a vague memory of encountering the spicy scent before and took a small sip.
"Thank you, Agni." He took another sip remembering it was the one he had complimented Agni on before. Soma picked up his own bone china cup and sipped as well. Ciel glanced at the clock and hoped Sebastian would be done soon. Before he could voice his complaint, Sebastian walked in, smiling and bowing at the waist. He brought a small dessert balanced on the silver tray in his right hand.
"The horses have been tended to and your belongings have been unpacked in your room. I thought the young master would enjoy a snack before beginning his work." Sebastian set down a fruit tart on the table next to the tea set. He cut a neat slice and scooped it onto a small dish. "Today's snack is a fig tart I asked Agni to prepare before our arrival." Ciel didn't recall being a huge fan of figs, but he picked it up anyways.
"We will need to set out on business right away, Sebastian," Ciel said between bites. Sebastian bowed his head. "Agni, I presume my mail has been kept at my desk?" Agni nodded his pale head. "Soma, you've stayed out of it this time?"
"I didn't open any, if that's what you're asking," Soma muttered. He averted his eyes and quickly took another bite of his tart.
"Has the post arrived today?" Ciel redirected his attention to Agni. Agni shook his head. Ciel glanced at the clock and muttered about the lack of punctuality in the city. Soma followed his gaze and his eyes grew wide with a look of panic.
"Agni! The drawing room, is it ready? Master will be here any moment!" Soma put his plate down with a clatter and hopped about the room searching for this or that, while Agni made a hasty retreat out the door. Sebastian raised a brow and allowed him to pass.
"We're in the drawing room," Ciel commented.
Soma rummaged through a drawer. "Not the drawing room, the drawing room," he said impatiently. "I have work to do, too." He pulled out a small box of pastels with a flourish. "I'm sorry Ciel, I have no time to play with you now," Soma announced haughtily. "It's time for my art lesson!"
Ciel glanced at the remaining tart and smiled.
In the Afternoon...
The house was quiet, save for the occasional racket broadcasting from Soma's drawing room. His respect for his drawing master, as he put it, perhaps only extended to his technique and not his philosophy, as evidenced by the prince's hotly contested arguments. Sebastian went about inspecting the house to make sure all was in order during his absence. Sebastian had come to respect Agni's abilities, but that did not prevent him from administering the glove test. He was running a single gloved finger over the antique vase placed in the entryway when a bell rang at the front door.
Sebastian's ears perked up. Prince Soma's teacher was already safely inside the drawing room and they expected no other visitors. Sebastian opened the door and discovered a young man, perhaps only a year older than his master standing before him.
"Good afternoon, sir," he said, lifting his dark blue cap to reveal neatly combed black hair underneath. His blue eyes looked tired, but expressed no disrespect, as he held out a bundle of letters tied with ribbon. The satchel over his arm was heavy with the day's post.
"Good afternoon." Sebastian smiled, accepting the bundle. He nodded his thanks and closed the door. Untying the ribbon, Sebastian glanced at the top envelope. It looked like an invitation, one his master would no doubt ignore. He placed the lot on a small tray and quietly crept up the stairs.
Ciel sat in his study with his head bent over letter after letter. His letters were arranged in three piles as was his custom: the important letters that would receive immediate attention, the somewhat important letters that would be ignored until they required immediate attention, and the undesirables that would no doubt never be opened unless Sebastian prompted him to. The dinner invitations and social event listings were usually exiled to this third and largest pile.
"Has the queen sent any new correspondence? She must know I'm in town along with the rest of London if that stack in your hand is what I think it is."
Sebastian smiled and placed the silver tray down on the stained oak. "Young Master knows I will not sort through his mail."
Ciel snorted and picked up the stack, rifling through them quickly. He paused at one, pulled it out long enough to read who it was from and put it in the first pile. He rifled through the rest before tossing them all in the third. "Invitations, all of them."
"How nice of Miss Elizabeth to send a letter," Sebastian picked up the empty tea cup and set it on his tray. A finely shaped eyebrow lifted above Ciel's blue eye.
"I bet you don't read them and reseal them either," Ciel deadpanned.
"She always scents her letters. Since her fourteenth birthday," Sebastian commented. Ciel picked up the letter and took a slight whiff of the paper. He huffed again and dropped it onto his desk. He pulled out the queen's letter and let it fall.
"Does this one also have a scent?" he said. Sebastian glanced at the small advertisement and shook his head. "There must be dozens of poses plastiques in the city. Scotland Yard is too busy to chase down all of them, so the question is why this one?" Ciel's fingers had picked up the small black card and began turning it over between his fingers. "We need to go into town. I need to make a visit."
"Shall I ready the horses?" Sebastian asked.
Ciel shook his head. "We'll take a hansom. Besides, we won't be wandering far." Ciel looked at Sebastian pointedly until the meaning sank in. Sebastian's smile slipped.
"Yes, my lord."
The back streets of Haymarket were a sharp contrast with the wide, popular shopping streets. Here in the small crevices between damp, overcrowded spaces one could almost forget the rows of neatly laced up ladies with their parasols and whey-faced servants trotting to keep up behind them. Ciel found the stillness and quiet a welcome relief from the noisy parade of debutantes and socialites marching down Pall Mall but a few blocks away. Ciel paused before a thick wooden door adorned with faded red charms hanging over the entranceway. A small bell tinkled as Sebastian pushed it open. A trickling of smoke wafted out to greet them and Ciel wrinkled his nose at the smell. He pinched the tip of his nose with his gloved fingers and waved away the air with his other hand.
"After you." Sebastian held the door open for him and Ciel glanced cautiously both ways before quickly stepping inside.
A girl lounged on a worn red couch, lazily puffing and exhaling small clouds of smoke into the air. Her almond-shaped eyes watched Ciel as he entered, her expression blank as though her eyes simply traced movement without registering what she saw. Her scandalously short Chinese style dress revealed too much thigh for Ciel's taste and he averted his eyes for the sake of modesty. A petite girl greeted them with a smile. Her inky black hair was pulled up in two buns placed on either side of her heart shaped face. "Master Ciel," she bowed. "You honor us with your visit."
"I'm here to see Lau," Ciel said. Her smile faltered a little under his tone but she kept smiling and bowed again.
"Right this way." She turned and led him deeper into the den of smoke and a surprising number of customers despite the rather early hour. Ciel had hoped to catch Lau before the busy hour when most gentlemen left their clubs for less savory forms of entertainment, but the den appeared to be inhabited only by regulars too preoccupied with their smoke and their women to notice the arrival of a young earl.
Lau lounged on his favorite couch, accompanied by Ran Mau. Her empty eyes stared off into the distance, her head tilted towards her master. Ciel narrowed his eyes at her, ignoring the indecent skirt riding up her thighs.
"Lord Phantomhive. Sebastian! So the queen has finally roped you into attending the season? And you came to visit me? I am honored." He patted the empty space next to him, inviting Ciel to sit.
"I'm here for information," Ciel said, holding out the small black card. "What can you tell me about this?"
Lau smiled and shook his head a little. "Always working, never any time for fun. Not that I mind of course. Your brand of work never fails to amuse me." Lau leaned forward, paused and bent his head towards the card before accepting it. He held it in his hand for a moment, quietly observing the front, turning it to look at the back and then turning it over to the front again.
"Oh my, I see," he nodded. He placed a finger at his lips, frowning slightly. "It's one of those places," he said.
"You know what it is then?" Ciel asked. His blue eye grew wide with hope.
"Never heard of it," Lau smiled and handed back the card. Ciel's shoulders slumped and he hung his head slightly. He took the card and slipped it back into his pocket. "But it says poses plastiques on the card. Is Master Ciel trying to sneak into naughty places?" Lau's smile spread from ear to ear. "I could always ask Ran Mau here to pose for you and I wouldn't charge a farthing. Anything for a friend."
"Are there any rumors floating around? No disappearances, no murders, nothing sensational kept out of the papers?" Ciel ignored Lau's comment.
Lau sighed and sank back into his chair, placing his arms along the edge. Long fingers brushed over Ran Mau's hair gently before guiding her head to his chest.
"You know I run a clean shop. Now why would any of my customers be involved with such things?" Lau smirked and shifted his head to tilt from one side to the other. His fingers continued to brush over the top of his Ran Mau's head. Her dark eyes stared out unblinking.
"Heh," a small smirk slid over Ciel's face. "I guess I've wasted both our time." Ciel turned on his heel, waving away another incoming cloud of smoke. "Good day, Lau."
Ciel set one foot forward, pausing slightly.
"You know," Lau said. Ciel smiled, setting his foot down and wiping his face blank before turning to look over his shoulder. "19 Cleveland Street is a residential address in the West End. Whoever owns the house must be a gentleman and keep himself surrounded by other gentlemen as well." Lau smiled. Ciel grinned and tipped his top hat.
"Good day Lau," he repeated, and tried not to breathe too deeply as he made his way to the door.
Sebastian walked quickly, turning off Tottenham Court Road and keeping his head down as he walked by the modest houses lining the small street. A carriage drove by that he was careful to not look at, grateful for the loan of a top hat and the high collar of Soma's cloak. The lights on this street were still gas, small flames flickering from above and illuminating the cobblestones with a dim orange glow. Sebastian reached a crossroads and noted the address of the house next to him. He moved right towards Fitzroy Square, watching carefully for number 19.
The carriage earlier had not been a carriage, but a hansom. A sleepy looking driver hunched over on his perch and an impatient horse pawed the ground before the house. He presumed they were waiting for the gentleman standing in the doorway. Sebastian kept his nose down while watching the gentleman carefully through the corner of his eye. Sebastian walked along the sidewalk across the street and carefully noted the long sideburns, the straight nose, and the unknown man's nervous habit of tapping his foot while he waited at the door until it opened and revealed a slender silhouette. The shadow's face was obscured by the light behind him even as he admitted the gentleman, closing the door behind them.
Sebastian glanced at the dozing driver, quickly crossed the street and slipped into the yard. The shades were drawn in every window, locked of course. He searched the perimeter, noting how easy it would be to enter, but that was not his purpose tonight.
Sebastian returned to the front, walked up the short walkway to the door and knocked.
A pale youth with neat blond hair and green eyes opened the door. He looked at Sebastian carefully, noting his attire and narrowing his eyes.
"May I help you sir?" he asked. Sebastian glanced behind the youth at what appeared to be a well lit foyer. Laughter drifted from deep inside, male voices, all of them. He could detect a number of bodies and none of them women.
"I was informed this was a residence of poses plastiques," Sebastian smiled, holding up the small black card Ciel had sent with him.
The youth accepted the card warily, looking at it closely before glancing at Sebastian again. "Wait here, please." Sebastian nodded and the door was quickly shut before him. Sebastian glanced at the hansom still waiting in front of the house. He presumed the passenger had bid him stay, meaning he did not plan to be here long. Sebastian turned when the door opened and a taller, middle-aged gentleman appeared. He rubbed the edge of his full mustache as he looked at the card and then at Sebastian. A bright glow reflected off his bald head.
"Good evening, sir," he said from the doorway. The youth stood at his side, still watching Sebastian warily with narrowed eyes. Sebastian nodded in greeting, lifting his top hat. "Young Barber here tells me you're interested in these poses plastiques."
"Yes, that's correct," Sebastian nodded. Beyond the pudgy man, he glimpsed a door beyond the entryway. He was certain this was the drawing room where the sounds were drifting from. He could hear at least three different voices distinct from young Barber and his master.
"I'm afraid we don't have anything of the sort here," the man said apologetically. "This is a gentlemen's club," he said slowly, looking up and down Sebastian's attire, "if you catch my drift. Perhaps you'll have better luck in Leicester Square. They may have something more suitable." The man scribbled something on the back of the card. He held the card back out to Sebastian who slid it back into his pocket.
"Forgive me. It seems there has been a misunderstanding." Sebastian nodded his head. The man turned his lips up in more of a sneer than a smile while his servant's face remained blank. "Good evening, sir." Sebastian turned and quietly left, feeling two pairs of eyes watch him the entire way.
When he reemerged on Tottenham Court Road, he pulled the card from his pocket. The letters were faint, difficult to see on the black background and in poor lighting. Written in wobbly letters was an address on Charing Cross Road off Leicester Square. Sebastian had a feeling that this new address would tell him something about the true nature of the house they were investigating.
The destination was not far and he, fortunately, knew the streets well. During the day these streets had been fairly empty, but with the late hour, the townsfolk had emerged. The card led him down a dubious side street away from the more respectable shops. When he reached the intended address, he paused. A moderate-sized building stood before him. It had seen better days and the orange light spilling from the drawn curtains illuminated the shoddy quality of the fabric. Laughter and voices floated from inside. Sebastian noted the lack of women inside the house as well. There were women in the vicinity, but none of them here.
A lady eyed him with a hungry sort of look before sauntering over his way. Her bare shoulders were thin, her body undeveloped despite looking well into her teens.
"A bit lonely tonight, are we?" Her voice was not as melodic as Sebastian would have expected from her pretty face. Sebastian tried not to wrinkle his nose when the scent of overly strong perfume failed to hide "her" rather masculine scent.
"I was told I might find some poses plastiques." The youth smiled, let out a throaty laugh and his Adam's apple bobbed slightly over the pale ribbon tied around his neck.
"I'll pose for you if that's what you're after." A bare hand touched his wrist lightly. Sebastian held his smile in place and pulled his hand away smoothly. "Don't startle, love, come on in. Let dear Violet take care of you."
"I fear there's been some misunderstanding. Am I to believe this is a house of ill repute?" The youth grinned and tilted his head to one side. The curls of his long red wig fell across his shoulders. His green eyes twinkled at Sebastian mischievously.
"I won't tell anyone if you don't." He placed a gloved finger to his lips. "Come now, don't be shy. It's been a while since dear Violet has had a turn she looked forward to." He grabbed Sebastian's arm and tugged. Sebastian twisted his arm to slip free of his grasp.
"Perhaps I'm at the wrong address." Sebastian held the card out to the youth. "Could you direct me to the proper location?"
The youth's lips turned up coyly. He accepted the card between two bare fingers and glanced at the back of the card. His green eyes paused, and flared open. He quickly flipped the card to the other side.
"So Veck thinks he can send us his leftovers now, does he?" The youth threw the card at Sebastian in a very unladylike fashion. "Is this your idea of fun, sir?" Sebastian glanced around and noted the attention they were gathering.
"Oi, Hewitt, stop yelling at the customers. You'll scare them away!" Another Maryanne rushed forward and grabbed the angry youth by the arm. He was older, less delicate-looking, and he attempted to hide his rouge smeared lips behind a lacy fan.
"Forgive dear Violet, she is a passionate one." The man fluttered his eyelashes. Sebastian smiled and shook his head.
"I believe the blame is all mine. Forgive me, madame, for offending you so," Sebastian bowed. "It was entirely a misunderstanding. If you'll excuse me." Sebastian quickly made his retreat.
The lights were still burning in the Phantomhive townhouse drawing room when Sebastian returned. Sebastian slipped through the servant's door, removed the top hat and cloak and changed into his jacket. He lit a single candle and held it carefully as he made his way through the dark hallways and reached the light spilling from beneath the drawing room door.
Soma's voice was loud in the quiet townhouse. "I win! I win!" His voice echoed slightly. Sebastian opened the door and Soma paused with his arms in the air to glance at Sebastian. "Oh, Sebastian, you're home. Did your disguise work?" He flopped back down onto the chair and promptly curled his feet onto it, much to Sebastian's chagrin.
Sebastian glanced at his master. "More or less," he said. "Thank you for the generous loan of your attire."
"Welcome back, Sebastian," Agni said, smiling and taking the cloak and hat from his hands. "I can take care of this." Sebastian nodded his thanks. He set his candle on the sideboard carefully. Ciel watched him and waited. He placed his handful of cards on the table.
"We can discuss your lack of fair play in the morning," Ciel addressed Soma.
Soma scoffed, leaning forward in his chair. "I beat you fair and square." His eyebrows sloped into an angry V and he waved his cards in the air.
"It doesn't count if you make up your own rules," Ciel sighed. He held a hand to his head and closed his eye. "Sebastian, show me to my room."
Soma calmed down and stopped waving his cards. "I suppose if Shorty is going to get any taller, he needs his rest. But I want to hear Sebastian's full report in the morning!" Soma smiled at the butler.
"We'll see. Sebastian?" Ciel glanced at him.
Sebastian picked up the candle stick. "Shall I escort Lord Soma as well?"
Soma waved him away. He picked up the discarded cards from the table and began arranging them in a neat pile."I'll wait for Agni. He promised to play me a few rounds."
Sebastian nodded. He pulled the door open, realizing he was still wearing Soma's gloves. He would have to return those too, he thought, as he held the candle up high for his master to see.
Ciel dragged his feet a little against the wooden floor. His heels were less audible, less pronounced as he walked down the corridor to his bedroom. He waited for Sebastian to step inside first and light the candles.
"Young Master has had a long day," Sebastian commented, watching the wick catch and flare into a golden flicker before lighting the next candle. He set the candle down on the side table. Ciel had seated himself upon his bed, his small weight barely denting the large mattress. His heavy brown shoe slipped to the floor, thudding against the wood. He pushed the heel of the other shoe with his toes and watched that shoe fall and join its twin.
"How were the poses plastiques?" Ciel's fingers began to untie the ribbon at his neck, undoing the neat bow and sliding it off.
"There were none to be found. I was turned away at the door." Ciel's snorted. He undid the top button before Sebastian stepped forward and took over. His hands rested on the soft white down blanket covering his bed.
"It's a cover. But for what?" Ciel pulled his arms out of the blue vest. He aided Sebastian in undoing the white buttons of his shirt.
"I detected no women in the house. The proprietor recommended that I visit a particular address off Leicester square to find what I was searching for." Sebastian looked his master in the eye. Ciel frowned, slipping the shirt off his shoulder.
"Did you investigate?" Sebastian nodded. "And?"
"I discovered a house of ill repute." Sebastian paused and frowned.
"19 Cleveland Street is a brothel? But you said there were no women..." Ciel also paused. His eyes slowly widened. Understanding dawned. "Scotland Yard wouldn't be interested in a peep show, but a male brothel would most definitely receive their attention. But how did Her Majesty discover this place? And how will we shut them down if we cannot even get in the door?" Ciel allowed himself to be dressed. His attention remained elsewhere, fixated on the dilemma before them as Sebastian buttoned his night gown.
"The proprietor was less than friendly. I do not think I was welcome."
"What did he say to you? Tell me exactly."
Ciel stood and began to remove his shorts, allowing the large sleeping gown to cover him. He looked up at Sebastian. Sebastian touched his finger to his chin, trying to recall the exact words.
"I asked for poses plastiques and he said there was nothing of the sort at their establishment. He referred to their house as a gentlemen's club, emphasis on gentleman, and said I would find something suitable at Leicester square. He provided me an address." Ciel sat down on his bed again. Sebastian kneeled and removed the stockings still on his feet.
"Lau's clue is beginning to make more sense. A gentlemen's club implies membership. It means the card alone isn't enough. We need a personal invitation. If the upper class is running male brothels, they would need to tread carefully. Labouchere's law is strict and if discovered, he would make sure they do not escape justice." Sebastian listened patiently. His master's reasoning was indeed correct. He felt satisfied when he realized he would not have to point it out himself. Ciel stood and allowed Sebastian to turn down the blankets. Ciel climbed in and rested his head upon the pillows. He pulled the blankets up under his arms. "Where did Prince Soma say he bought his cloak?"
Sebastian tilted his head and thought back to earlier in the day. "On Regent Street, my lord."
A flicker of a smile passed his master's face quickly. "Prepare my second best coat for tomorrow. I believe we have some shopping to do. We must be sure to get there early. You know how crowded these fashionable spots get." Sebastian nodded.
"Is the young master looking for something in particular?"
Ciel shifted in his blankets. "Of course. You'll need a few pairs at least."
"Of what, my lord?"
Ciel looked at him as if he were dense. "Suits. What else? I should think our solution would be obvious. Tomorrow, we begin turning you into a gentleman."