It was still dark outside when Alfred walked back to the club, taking a bus from his apartment to the nearest stop. Surprisingly, it didn't take longer than forty minutes or so- perhaps it was a safer way to get to and from Guilty Pleasures. Without his car, he could drink as much as he wanted and not have to walk back the next day and retrieve it from the club's parking lot, as he was doing at that moment.

He wasn't sure when the club officially opened its doors, so there he was at six in the morning, trying to find his car in the parking lot right behind the building. It seemed as if they were still closed, Alfred noted to himself as he stepped into his car. The place was deserted. Oh, well, they probably open only around evening, he concluded while pulling out, taking one last sweeping look at the relatively plain facade of the club. Just by the look of it, no one would be able to guess what was going on inside. It was a wonder how so many people knew about it. Then again, if most of the guests were anything like Francis, then the whole world should have known about its existence by then.

The trip home was quick, as the Sunday morning traffic had only started to build up by the time he turned the key in his lock and entered his apartment, closing the door behind him with a determined thud. He had a lot to do and little time to do it, as the common phrase went. If he was to woo said Peridot, he had to gather information, equip himself with the proper weapons and train. It was just like one of his old video games, in which you had to conquer your enemy through battle. And really, in this case the goal was the same- to defeat your rival. Be it with military force or by stealing his man, the strategies were the same.

As the saying said- all is fair in love and war. And this was a heady mixture of both.

First off, he needed the right clothing, since his own attire usually clashed dramatically with the crowd that frequented the club. Rushing into the kitchen, he grabbed all the small cash he stowed in the cookie jar for emergencies and headed back into the living room, ready to blaze the trail to the nearest clothing store. On the way out, though, a flashing red light on his receiver stopped him. Curious, he walked up toward the machine and clicked the voice mail button, wondering who had called him so early on in the morning.

A familiar, clear and ever suave voice filled the silence of his apartment a few seconds later. "Alfred, mon cher. I wanted to apologize for Gilbert's behavior last night, even though he refuses to do so himself. We won't be around this week- Gil, don't touch that!- so would you please tell monsieur Vergas that we are, well, visiting my sick aunt in Paris? Oui, that's it. She's really sick, the poor thing. In any case- fine, I'll ask him- you'll tell him, won't you? And Antonio would be forever grateful if you sent his regards to Vergas. Cest fini. Merci! Gros bisous!"

It took Alfred a few seconds to register Francis's request, the background noise of laughter and loud music almost overcoming the Frenchman's voice. But once he did, a big smile stretched across his face and his eyes sparkled with excitement. Unknowingly, the other had awarded him a priceless gift upon his departure. Without the three of them in town, Alfred would have free reign over the club. He'd be able to do his research without disturbance or any distraction. He'd miss their company during work hours, but the plentiful time slot was worth it.

With renewed determination, he left his apartment and closed the door behind him, ready to hit town. Mission impossible had just become attainable.

-0-

Mission Number One- Superstar Me

-0-

Parking his car in front of a store, Alfred stepped out of his vehicle, blinking at the large sign greeting him upon his entrance into the shopping district. "Butler, Collection For Men," he read aloud, squinting against the bright morning sun. Seeing as it was the first store on the street, he shrugged and walked inside, staring at the formal wear engulfing him.

Suits, jackets, sweaters, belts and vests galore, this store seemed to provide the top clothing for any formal event. Exactly the opposite of what Alfred needed. Sighing, he turned back, ready to venture outside once more in the search of his new wardrobe. He almost made it outside when a clear female voice stopped him on his tracks.

"May I help you?"

Turning around, Alfred's eyes came upon the speaker. A young woman who looked in her mid twenties was smiling at him, chestnut brown hair framing her hazelnut eyes. The white t-shirt and jeans she was wearing seemed to contrast the merchandise she was supposed to sell, and Alfred wondered if she could perhaps point out to him a store that would cater to his needs. Even with her thick Hungarian accent, she looked like someone who would know.

Alfred cleared his throat, smiling his usual sunny smile at her. "Yeah. Um, I was wondering if you knew any good store for, er, casual clothing?"

The smile on the woman's face disappeared as soon as the words came out of his mouth. "You have the audacity to come into a clothing store and ask the salesperson for a recommendation of a different chain? Who do you think you are?" she asked crossly, narrowing her eyes and folding her arms across her chest suspiciously, tilting her hip to the side. Alfred blinked at her in confusion for a moment, wondering where she had gotten her good English, before realizing that she was waiting for an answer.

"I-I'm sorry. I mean, I'm not good at clothing shopping, and you just looked like someone who gets this stuff, and-"

He was cut off by an excited gasp, followed by a pair of brown eyes too close to him for comfort. Taking a step back, Alfred wondered how this woman seemed to change moods so quickly- and creep up on people without them realizing until the last minute.

The happy expression on the woman's face was back, and she smiled up at Alfred from her sudden close proximity, beaming. "Oooh, I always wanted to be a personal shopper!" she exclaimed, looking him up and down. Nodding in satisfaction, she took a few strides back and walked around him, taking in his whole appearance. Once done surveying her canvas, she offered her hand with a professional air. "My name is Elizaveta. What type of clothing are you looking for?"

Relieved that he was finally going to get the help he needed, Alfred allowed himself to be looked over, not really caring. He never was one to doubt his looks- from a young age everyone around him had drilled him with compliments, granting him favors and dates based on his looks alone. The only one who seemed to be immune to his face was Peridot.

"Nice to meet you. My name is Alfred," he took her hand, shooting her one of his infamous grins. "Well, I want to go clubbing-" He was cut off once more by a sharp gaze. "Straight or gay?"

Alfred blinked, his grip of Elizaveta's hand slacken. "Excuse me?" he asked, not quite sure if he had heard correctly. The Hungarian simply continued to look at him seriously as she repeated her question. "Straight or gay?" At his shocked expression, she sighed, shaking her head. "Who are you trying to attract? Men and women are attracted to different things," she explained slowly, as if speaking to a small child.

Nodding his head in understanding, Alfred let the other's hand drop as he tucked his own into his pocket, looking down at the floor. Heat flooded his cheeks as he tried to compose an answer. He was trying to attract a man, yes- but did that make him gay? Did he, the ladies' charmer, fit the label of homosexual? Alfred F. Jones, a homo?

"Er, I'm trying to attract a certain man," he admitted quietly, trying to avoid Elizaveta's gaze. A second later, when he realized what he had said, he raised his head and tried to meet the other's eyes. "N-not that I'm gay or anything! It doesn't mean a thing!" Alfred tried to clarify, dismay and embarrassment growing from the knowing look the Hungarian gave him.

She hooked her arm with his, leading the slightly baffled man out of the door, locking up after them. "Of course you aren't," she purred, practically petting his arm, as if to soothe him. Alfred squirmed slightly in her grasp, feeling slightly unnerved by the sudden obsessiveness in her voice.

"Come. Let's go find something to woo prince charming with."

-0-

Mission Number Two- I Spy With My Little Eye

-0-

Sipping on his Carlsbourg, Alfred reclined in his bar stool as far as he could, conversing lightly with the man standing beside him. The music had already began, and it was already ten thirty. Why weren't there that many people yet strutting their stuff on the dance floor? Where were everyone?

"No one really comes until eleven, y'know."

Alfred turned around, meeting the gaze of a tall, red headed man. He had to look up to look him in the eyes, and the fact aggravated him slightly, but he smiled back nevertheless. "Oh, right. Totally knew that. I'm just... hangin' around. Yeah. Thanks, anyway."

The man raised a brow and took a seat next to him, leaning his back against the bar counter. "Of course you are. But by doing that, you're being rude. How about a dance?" he addressed Alfred further in his light Scottish accent, taking the other's hand in his own and rubbing his thumb over the skin, winking suggestively.

"O-oh," Alfred blinked, a slight flush cursing his cheeks. "I...sorry, but I don't dance."

The other smirked and leaned towards him, brushing his lips against Alfred's ear. "No worries- I'll be doing all the dancing." He placed his hand on the American's thigh, squeezing it through his jeans. "Unless, you'd like something else?"

Alfred made a small sound and jumped off his stool, taking a few steps back. "Who are you?" he exclaimed, covering the ear the other had came in contact with self consciously. The other simply chuckled lowly before taking a step further, grasping his wrist.

"To you, I'm Shameus," he whispered, tightening his grasp. "And I can do wonders for you. You're lonely, aren't you? You want someone to dominate you, to push you down and claim your body. Well," he took a step back, releasing his grip. "I'm your man."

Eyes widening, Alfred suddenly realized that one of the strippers of the club had approached him. A small voice inside him wanted to try Shameus out, to show him he wouldn't be dominated by anyone. But he didn't have the time- the focus of his night was on finding Peridot and seeing if his clothes had any affect on him.

"Sorry, but... no. Maybe another time," Alfred excused himself and all but ran away, a flustered expression on his face as he mingled with the now steady stream of people walking into the building.

The music grew louder, and the pulse of the people around him stronger. Alfred began moving awkwardly in the crowd, bumping into a few people. A small, deserted corner called to him in the distance, and he made his way through the swarm, freezing when a hand suddenly gripped his ass from behind. Turning around with a red face, blue eyes met emerald.

Peridot was looking at him with a wolfish grin, tight plaid pants and a ripped, sleeveless black shirt showing off his skin deliciously. "Hullo, love," he greeted him, licking his lower lip slowly. From the close proximity, Alfred could smell the alcohol on his breath.

A sudden wave of nervousness washed over him. This half drunken and ever alluring Peridot was both intimidating and yet, calling out to him with every sense. His eyes feasted on the exposed skin, the heady scent of his body and the warmth lighting a fire in the pit of his stomach.

But he couldn't face the other like this. He wasn't ready for such an encounter, especially since he wasn't the one to initiate it. With a shaky breath, Alfred pushed the other away, regret and slight fear reflecting in his eyes. "I-I'm sorry," he uttered before turning around and rushing towards the exit, pushing through the bodies. The moment he stepped out of the club, he inhaled deeply, taking in the cool evening air.

He needed some more time.

-0-

Mission Number Three- A Rose For A Rose

-0-

He hadn't wanted to- especially not after the inviting look the night before. But if Alfred was to stick to his plan, he needed to make his appearance that day the only one Peridot would see of him. So against his will, he stayed home Sunday night, watching a movie alone in his apartment and catching up on work. Matthew was having enough of a job trying to cover up for his negligence- he owed him the smallest of effort on his part.

It was a lonely, uneventful evening. But while Alfred sat in his armchair, he planned every last detail of his final act, envisioning it in his mind.

Alfred entered the club, his trademark smile on his face and a ray of gold surrounding him. Everyone he'd pass would stop in their tracks and stare, some with a jealous exterior and the most with an admiring expression. A few girls appeared next to him magically, gripping his arms to feel his muscles and simply fawning over him, giggling and ogling him to their hearts' content.

But, of course, they weren't the ones Alfred had meant to attract. He'd shake them off gently and make his way to the center if the room, where a certain someone would be standing. And indeed, there was Peridot, surrounded by a few of his customers.

The room went quiet as Peridot raised his eyes over one of the others' head and suddenly met his own, eyes widening at Alfred's appearance. He stayed still, as if still registering his awesome residence before pushing the man next to him aside and taking a few steps closer, hesitating.

Alfred grinned knowingly and walked up to the dancer, stopping a breath before him and taking his hand, raising it to his lips and kissing the skin gently. A brilliant shade of red claimed Peridot's cheeks as he raised his gaze from the floor, their eyes interlocking once more.

"Alfred?"

With a nod, Alfred let go of the other's hand and placed his own on Peridot's cheek, caressing it fleetingly before leaning in. "I'm here for you," he whispered in a husky voice, eyes glazed with a thin layer of lust.

A breathless sigh left Peridot's lips as he wrapped his arms around Alfred's neck in full view of the whole club, who had turned to stare at the couple. "Kiss me," he demanded lowly, running a lithe finger up Alfred's spine until he reached his hairline, alternating to rubbing the pad of his index finger in a circular motion while looking up at the taller man, fire blazing in his eyes.

"With pleasure," Alfred murmured before leaning forward and closing the gap between their mouths, eyes fluttering close as his arms wrapped around the other's waist, pulling him closer to his body. Peridot pushed against his mouth forcefully, quickly parting his own lips for his tongue to dart out-

Alfred shot up in his chair, gripping the armrests in alarm. Panting, he looked down at the floor, where his sudden jolt had sent his phone. It was vibrating on the wooden parquet, beeping and flashing white on the small screen. With a groan, Alfred rubbed his temples soothingly before bending forward and picking the noxious up and pressing fiercely on the mute button, shutting the god forsaken object up.

It had disrupted such a wonderful dream. And for what? For some stupid alarm he didn't even remember setting.

His eyes widened in excitement as he rushed out of the chair, heading towards the bathroom. Of course! How could he have forgotten? He was going to the club he had just dreamed about moments ago! The alarm was a simple reminder, but obviously did its job.

He entered the room, walking up to the sink and turning on the water, letting it pool in his palms for a moment before raising his hands to his face and letting the cool liquid fall down his skin. Alfred breathed in deeply, gripping the sides of the sink and raising his head to look at himself in the mirror, expression set and determined.

Tonight was his night, and he wasn't going to mess it up. Not this time.

-o-

He was late, of course. Just as he had planned. It was early in the morning- four o' five, to be exact- around the time the club closed. Alfred leaned against the wall, watching as the crowds poured out of the doors slowly, some clubbers supported by their friends as they were too drunk to walk themselves. It was chilly, and Alfred shivered at the cold air as it blowed over his wet hair, slicked back and shiny against the dim light coming from the open doors.

Finally, just when he was about to give up and head back home- Peridot had still not left. Perhaps he walked out before Alfred reached the place- a certain blond opened the door with one hand, supporting a cigarette with the other.

In his long black pants and leather jacket, Peridot looked like any random passerby. It made it slightly easier for Alfred to approach him as he passed by without looking at him, swallowing nervously before calling out. "Hey!"

Peridot stopped and turned his head back, blinking and frowning. Alfred had yet to see the other frown, but he tried to keep the small smile on his face as he walked towards him, a small blush on his face. The other simply stared at him blankly, turning fully around and tilting his hip to the side, taking the cigarette out of his mouth and blowing out the smoke with a raised brow. "Yes?"

Taking a deep breath with slightly more confidence, Alfred looked up at the other. "I- do you remember me? Alfred?"

The other narrowed his eyes as if trying to remember something before recognition reflected in his eyes. "Oh yes. Alfred." He looked him over, scanning his apparel before taking a drag from his cigarette and giving Alfred a bored look. "Sorry, but I don't work after hours."

A deep flush took over Alfred's cheeks as he answered. "No! I mean, no, I don't want... anything from you. In face, I... I have something for you." Alfred smiled, trying to sound suave as he took his hand out from behind his back and produced a single rose, the dark and rich red color visible in the dim lighting.

Peridot's eyes widened as he took in the sight of Alfred with a rose, immediately narrowing and scanning the other's face, obviously suspicious. He probably thought that it was some sort of joke. But when Alfred continued standing there with the flower suspended in the air, unfazed by his glare, he sighed and carefully took it from his grasp, looking it over cautiously.

"It's for you," Alfred said softly, smiling gently. "Do you like it?"

The dancer met Alfred's gaze, his expression that of one taken aback. He opened his mouth to say something, but apparently thought it over and closed it, shaking his head. He turned around and began walking away, pausing in front of a trashcan and dropping the rose into it before looking back, face stony.

"I am not going to be bought over, if that's what you're suggesting. If you want something, you're going to have to pay for it." Peridot paused, his gaze flickered to the club for a moment, his eyes revealing obvious dislike before they settled back on Alfred. Without another word, he turned his head back and continued walking.

Alfred looked at his retreating form, eyes wide and his nails digging into the palm of his hand. He had somehow messed up again. He took a few steps forward and peered down into the garbage can, his face giving into a sad frown.

As he looked up, his face was determined. Gilbert or no Gilbert, Peridot was going to fall for him, like it or not. For the best or for the worse, he'd have him in his arms in no time flat. After all, he was Alfred fucking Jones, and he always got what he wanted.

Always.


Hanna Chan's Blah-Blah Corner;

Sooo. This took so long to write *headdesk* I'm really sorry. I just.. lack of motivation? ^^' But every time I got a review, I was filled with so much happiness that I continued the chapter a little bit. It was my latest review by Yaoi- san and Minty- chan that helped me get a grip and finish this *beams* Thank you *hearts*

Alright. This chapter. Do I have anything to say about it...? Hm. Not really, to be honest. All I know is that I loved writing it XD Yes, the Scottish stripper would be Scotland, and Elizaveta is herself *grin* I hope no one is too out of character. And Alfie will get some balls soon, no worries ;D

Now, to answer some questions and comments. Someone asked me how I came up with the name Peridot for Arthur. I think I said this before, but my good friend (you should really look up her stories- she's amazing with words) DestinyShiva is the one who came up with it. I asked her what would be the best stripper name for Arthur, and she came up with it *smile* It is quite fitting, isn't it? *fans self*

In any case, I should just stop rambling and publish this. Please review if you liked this *holds out platter of cookies* I-I'm not begging or anything. But it would really help my motivation, y'know? *twiddles thumbs* Bribing you? Moi? Of course not!

...love you all~

-Hanna