Title: Into the Face of the Beguiled

Author: tatterdemalion

Characters: in this chapter - America, Canada; more to come

Rating: M for mature because c'mon. It's a goddamned brothel.

Summary: AU. Alfred and Matthew Jones, expert runaways and orphans, arrive in Amsterdam to make their fortune. There, they find themselves caught up in the world of cabaret, prostitution, money, and murder, and it may be too late to get out. Pairings include France/England, Prussia/Canada, America/Lithuania, Estonia/Ukraine, Korea/China, and others!

Notes: So...I'm back. With none of the stories I said I was going to do! It's great.

Funny story - I was watching American Dad (I know, WTF?), and it was the episode where Stan wants to prove he can give good advice so he tries to make all these strippers "successful businesswomen" so he keeps them in his son's bedroom, and the alien Roger is wearing this "Madam" dress and commanding the strippers and I was like "wow France would look good in that dress" and then the idea wouldn't leave me alone. D:

So...yeah, it's brothel time. Feedback would be great, I'm a little unsure if I should post this or not...

The title comes from the song "Peek-a-Boo" by Siouxsie & the Banshees. I really recommend you listen to it - not only is it a great song, but it's my music accompaniment when writing!

Once upon a time, there were two little boys.

Matthew thought that was how the stories went, anyways.

Two little boys were born - one ahead of the other, by two years. Their parents died, they think. That was really the only explanation they could think of because, as the elder pointed out, what parents would abandon their flesh and blood unless something terrible happened? Together they lived in a parish, under the mindful watch of a priest, in Upper Canada, until Matthew was eleven, his brother thirteen.

Then they left their priest, and their parish behind, and travelled east until they couldn't anymore. They lived for a while in a fishing village, getting by day to day, stealing from the fishermen, fixing up a rowboat to do their own meager fishing.

One day a fishermen caught them pilfering from his dried fish store and nearly blew off Alfred's fingers with his musket. The two brothers fled and stowed away on a ship. They were found by the captain, who took an interest in the eldest brother and allowed them passage in exchange for hard work and company. He taught Alfred how to chart the stars and how to tell where they are when the clouds hang around the sun, and which blood sky is better for them. In the meantime, the galley cook taught Matthew how to make something out of nothing, how to see the potential in the most meager of food supplies, and how to make it last.

They reached Europe, crown jewel of the globe. Alfred envisioned them becoming wealthy men - Matthew just wanted to have dry socks, for once. The captain asked them to stay with him but they slipped away in the night.

They were getting good at this, they learned.

They continued this streak of living off whoever they can find, scavenging, pick pocketing, and scamming, up until Matthew was nineteen years old, his brother twenty-one. Then in Valetta they were caught and tried as thieves after Alfred tried to rob the rector they were staying with (Alfred always had this effect on people, a natural charm that enabled him to convince people into helping him. In this regard, Matthew always considered him the hero of their particular, mediocre fairytale. Matthew himself was merely the sidekick).

They escaped - Matthew didn't want to remember how they did but it was the first time he had ever killed a man and he wanted it to be the last. They snuck aboard the Juncta Juvant with blood still on their hands, and wiped them clean on burlap sacks in the hold. Matthew smelled iron under his nails for weeks afterwards.

They listened and waited and eventually they heard, from above deck, where they were going - Amsterdam, the port city, and Alfred's eyes lit up.

He had always wanted to wear clogs.

Matthew didn't like fairytales anymore - he never did, not even when he was little, mostly because the parish priest read to him from the Bible instead of from Grimm's - but he didn't like them anyways because they gave him too much hope.

Alfred and Matthew Jones arrived in Amsterdam on the afternoon of July 5th, 1893. A few years prior to this, the Moulin Rouge opened in Paris. The cabaret and burlesque entertainment style spread, steadily, across Europe. A Frenchman opened up a business a year after that in order to "spread his influence". Around this time, an Englishman was declared clinically insane but was still allowed to keep his star charts before he fled his home.

The Englishman considered this a great mercy.


Notes: "Juncta Juvant" is the Latin phrase for "together we thrive".