AN - This story is both my jumping on the whole Cardverse bandwagon and a prompt proposed by bleach-otaku, who once commented on the pacing of my work and challenged me to write something where Alfred and Arthur go from hating each other to…quite the opposite…in pretty much seconds flat. I jumped on the idea, and after an embarrassingly long while, here it is.
Sex and weird interpretation of the Cardverse ahead, hello.
I hope everyone enjoys!
Arthur is bored. But then again, Arthur is always bored. He has grown convinced that nothing exists to interest him, and is coming to realize the miserably likely possibility that nothing will ever exist to interest him. He is heir to Spades Incorporated, born into the very lap of luxury, and will never have to build a life for himself. Now that he has graduated from Colombia two years early and cum laude, he spends his days skulking around the streets of the Upper East Side, wishing that his family would realize that American stock bonds couldn't possibly be so important and decide to return to London. He is young, but with nothing left to accomplish, he feels infinitely old.
His family is throwing another corporate gala, and Arthur has no choice but to attend. He knows that the affair will be far from interesting, and he knows that his parents will have lined up a regiment of fresh young debutantes for him to choose from, all fluttering their eyelashes and reeking of flowery perfumes and ruffling their revolting tulle skirts like unsettled birds, but at least the party will be a respite from the everyday monotony which he has grown to know too well.
The affair starts at seven in the evening, but Yao assaults Arthur nothing short of two hours early, a new suit folded over one arm and a pair of scissors in one hand. He sits Arthur down with little regard for his complaints, snips deftly at his bangs, and when a fine coating of gold covers his lap, spins him round, brushes him off, and pushes him towards the bathroom to wash. When he has returned he is again affronted with the suit and discovers with dismay that the fabric is nothing but gleaming navy blue satin, impeccably tailored but so ostentatious, with the company's logo embroidered upon the breast pocket.
He glances up at Yao to be met with a glare and heaves a sigh, dropping his trousers to his ankles. He has known his governor since the age of six and shame has long become obsolete between them. He unbuttons his dress shirt and sits on the edge of the bed in nothing but his boxers, unhappily running the suit through his hands.
Yao hands him a violet silk shirt, which he reluctantly tucks into the suit pants. The waistcoat is befitted with engraved golden buttons that clink faintly together as Arthur struggles to adjust the lapels of the jacket. Yao watches bemusedly before he produces a royal purple bowtie and helps Arthur fix it at his throat. Finally, his governor grips him by the shoulders and turns him in front of the mirror, briefly smiling his satisfaction.
"You look terribly handsome, sir," he says as he steps back out into the hallway. "Be down in fifteen minutes."
Arthur sees the shoes he has left behind – brilliant blue leather, gold-tipped laces – and swears.
Fifteen minutes later and he is drifting into the foyer, where his mother is berating his poor father for his latest offense against her regime. She is positively draped in jewels, a wrap studded with sapphires and chips of gold flowing from her chubby shoulders, and Arthur wrinkles his nose at the reek of her perfume. Her tirade trails away into a squeal when she spots her son paused at the end of the stairwell, and he braces himself before he is enveloped in her satin and tulle embrace.
"It's going to be tonight, darling," she sings into his ear, "I can feel it, oh, I can feel it!"
"Sure, mum," he says in the hopes that she will soon release him. "Naturally."
Evidently delighted, his mother yanks him away to clutch him at arm's length, her smile betraying the fact that her lipstick has smudged outside the lines of her mouth.
"Yes, tonight you'll find that wonderful girl to make you happy," she crows, and kisses him twice on both cheeks, leaving massive smudges of lipstick which Yao quickly wipes away with the corner of his kerchief.
"To make her happy, maybe," mumbles Arthur as Yao rubs at his cheek, and receives a sharp but indiscreet smack upside the head for his trouble. Arthur glares, but only halfheartedly, and straightens his bowtie as he nods goodbye to Yao and steps out onto the street. Their car is waiting at the curb and his parents fold inside closely like playing cards. Arthur opens the door after them, sliding more hesitantly across the smooth leather seats.
"My little Queen of Spades," coos his mother once the chauffer has flared the ignition, and Arthur's stomach turns at the nickname, which originated before he had the chance to protest against it. The story goes that the obstetrician made a mistake with the ultrasound and told his parents that their child was a girl, which provoked an entire nursery decked out in an expensive regal theme. When Arthur was born and his actual sex was discovered, his mother had taken the mistake with an uncharacteristic measure of good humor and turned the entire situation into a joke. However, at twenty years old, Arthur is hardly fond of the gag anymore (along with the grand majority of their friends and acquaintances), and he bats his mother's hand away with a little curl of the upper lip.
She chooses to ignore this and nestles back into the seat, probably elbowing his stony-faced father in the process. They drive in silence for what seems to be an indeterminable while, the lights of New York blurring past outside the window into a filthy smudge of neon intermingled with gold. Arthur rests his cheek on the backs of his fingers and shuts his eyes. How he anticipates the wet bar.
They arrive and step out of the car to be enveloped by light and noise. Cameras flash and Arthur squints, trying to force a lively smile onto his lips even when he is so dreadfully bored. His mother latches one arm onto his father's elbow and the other onto his own shoulder, and thusly steers them through the throngs of people, dropping meaningless greetings and peals of laughter as she goes. When they finally reach the doors and step into the ballroom, Arthur feels faintly nauseous.
He manages to shake away his mother and nearly sprints to the bar. The other guests immediately recognize his face and part around him with a flurry of gasps and whispers, and the barkeep smiles enormously when he almost rudely demands a gin and tonic. He lifts the glass to his lips the moment it is placed into his hands and sighs to feel the familiar burn of alcohol against the back of his throat. Marginally relaxed, he allows his mother to relocate him and drag him towards the young ladies anxiously awaiting his presentation.
They almost remind him of cakes, what with their skin moist and yellow with foundation and the folds and ruffles of their tulle and chiffon and satin dresses swathing them like thick pink and blue and green and gold frostings. Arthur wryly thinks to himself that he has never been fond of sweets.
The music abruptly swoops down into a low and lazy waltz; Arthur wants to groan, but he is already standing in front of the ladies and knows unfortunately well that he has no choice but to smile. Detecting the shift in tempo, his mother almost immediately seizes a girl by the arm and whirls her towards Arthur; he wants to say something like goodness mum, how Old World of you, but instead merely widens his smile and gingerly accepts the delicate gloved hand offered.
Dancing is dull, but Arthur is rather brilliant for it, and the girl melts into his arms in surprise when he first twirls her onto the floor. She quickly recovers herself, however, though flustered color blooms in her cheeks and she titters and gasps revoltingly. Her name is Lili, she tells him shyly after a few more steps, and her father runs Diamonds Incorporated, a close partner of Spades. Pale hair brushes down to her chin and her forehead is cut from porcelain, with her mouth set in the center like a rose china flower flanked by the hazy jade pieces of her eyes. Arthur can tell that she is beautiful but cannot bring himself to care.
They are halfway through an infuriatingly boring conversation regarding the monetary goals of their respective namesakes when Arthur peers over her shoulder in an attempt to relieve the monotony of her voice and is startled to have his stare met. A moment passes before the man turns his gaze away, but Arthur is quick on his feet and has been able to register a pair of spectacles, a square chin, a glimpse of golden hair, and an atrocious sky blue tie.
"Arthur?" chirps Lili; her voice seems irritatingly musical, like some sort of helpless little songbird, though any other man might have thought it to be charming. "Is there something the matter?"
Arthur blinks, shakes his head, manages a soft smile, and dips her beneath his arm, provoking a gasp and an eruption of giggling when she is returned to swaying upright. How disgusting. His smile widens without touching the corners of his eyes.
The dance ends, and Arthur's mother wastes no time in whirling him off with another girl. He is gratified to see that at least this young lady does not flutter like an upset bird; in fact, she is rather like a statue in his arms, her mouth a thin line and her dark eyes unmoving, fixated on the center of his chest. She will not tell him her first name, only her last – Honda, and he knows that she is a daughter of the Hearts family, another prominent corporation whose ties with Spades have grown shaky as of late. What good fortune it would be to fall in love with her. Arthur snorts and thinks that the idea should be taken in its most literal of interpretations.
She does not gasp and cling to his shoulders when he dips her, simply raises her gaze to meet his as if challenging him to explain himself. He is almost amused and decides that she is certainly more tolerable than the last. But still she is so impossibly delicate beneath his fingers, her fragile white shoulders seeming to threaten to buckle at the slightest touch, the frayed ends of her short black hair emphasizing the hollow bends of her colorless cheeks, and he would not want to be afraid of breaking his wife.
They are halfway through their wordless conversation, composed of her silent looks and his leading the dance, when he glances at the corner of the room and realizes with a moderate jolt that the same man is staring at him again. He has crystal blue eyes that glint from beneath his spectacles and somewhat match that terrible tie.
Before Arthur can award the curious stranger a proper glare, Honda nudges him gently, and he is forced to remember that he needs to whirl them around a corner, bending backwards with the bend of the melody. Then they are back with the line of waiting young women, and Arthur finds himself stripped of the pleasantly quiet girl to be assaulted with a fresh model.
She is the tallest of the three, and by far the most like a true woman; Arthur's hand fits comfortably into the curve of her waist, resting snug against the swell of her hip. She immediately takes a forceful step forwards and he realizes that she is spirited, what with how she refuses to allow him to lead the dance entirely. He cannot help but quirk one eyebrow in modest admiration.
Soft brown hair curls past the strong dips of her collarbone, and she wears glittering emeralds in her ears that catch the light of her eyes. The bones of her face are masterfully carved and her skin is almost dark, especially against her fine green satin gown and gauzy wrap which she wears draped about her broad shoulders. She is Elizaveta, the daughter of the Clubs Family International Exchange, an import from Eastern Europe, an undeniably lovely woman, and lastly someone whom Arthur finds to be distinctly tolerable, though he hardly considers her a suitable marriage prospect.
This time, they have hardly been dancing for long when Arthur is again caught by the stranger's crystal blue stare, and after a moment of irritated eye contact, the young man rises from his place at the back of the room and – to Arthur's immediate dismay and intense curiosity – begins to make his way across the dance floor, dodging whirling couples with good-natured laughter and apologies. Elizaveta notices Arthur's unabashed staring and glances behind her shoulder just as the young man approaches them, smiling enigmatically. He is wearing a pale blue tuxedo befitted with that dreadful tie, and for any other occasion, the ensemble would have been intolerably garish, but Arthur realizes with no small measure of distaste that the whole thing rather matches his own suit.
"Excuse me," the stranger says cheerfully, running one hand through his caramel-gold hair. "Mind if I cut in?"
Arthur is so surprised that he cannot find the words to respond, but Elizaveta blushes – strangely enough – smiles, and nods, slipping from his arms to allow the stranger to take her place. She waves a cheeky farewell and almost skips from the dance floor, her skirts flaring behind her and revealing the soft backs of her knees. A long moment passes before Arthur finally recovers his voice.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?" he hisses as the stranger takes his hand and begins to direct the rhythm of the dance. "I'm the leader!"
The stranger glances down at their feet for a moment and shrugs. "I guess I just think I do it better."
Arthur feels his mouth fall agape. "Who the hell are you?"
The stranger lifts his gaze again and his eyes are twinkling. "Alfred Jones," he answers smugly, as if this were something to be proud of. "Humbly at your service, my lady. Arthur Kirkland of Spades, isn't that right?"
"Yes, that's my name," growls Arthur, frantically scanning the dance floor to see if his mother has noticed. "But what I meant was who are you?"
Alfred tilts his head to the side confusedly and the soft light of the ballroom slants off his glasses, accentuating the strong angles of his chin, his cheekbones, weaving strands of silver through his hair. After a long gap of silence, Arthur snorts exasperatedly.
"I mean who's your family, you fool," he spits. "That's all that really matters around here, anyways."
"Oh, sorry," says Alfred, adjusting his spectacles with one hand while the other remains at Arthur's waist, his palm wide and warm through the fabric of his suit. "I'm afraid I'm just a regular guy."
Arthur simply stares at him for a long moment before he laughs, somewhat shrilly, tipping his chin back towards the ceiling.
"If that's the case," he gasps, "how the hell did you get in here?"
A smirk replaces the smile on Alfred's lips and he almost smugly confesses that he is an old buddy of Gilbert's, who watches the doors during affairs such as these. Arthur groans; the man is so notorious for allowing old friends – or even strangers, if they pique his fancy – entrance to corporate events that he has earned himself the nickname joker.
"I should have known," he sighs, "I really should have known."
They fall silent. At least Alfred's shoulders are strong beneath his hand, his palm warm on his waist, though Arthur himself is still somewhat irritated at having the roles of the dance reversed so suddenly.
"I hate you," he spits abruptly. Alfred raises one eyebrow.
"You barely know me."
Arthur wrinkles his nose. Such a thing should hardly matter, but he finds himself dropping his eyes to the floor almost apologetically, though his voice loses no measure of bitterness.
"I hate this," he hisses, wanting to scuff the gleaming tile with his heels but fearing to upset the rhythm of the dance. "I hate it all, every bit. I hate jumping through hoops. I hate knowing what I'm going to do in the morning and what I'm going to do in the afternoon and what I'm going to do at night and knowing what I'm going to do after that. I hate these parties, I hate these women, I hate it all!" He gasps, almost rendered breathless by his unforeseen tirade. "I hate it all."
Alfred gazes at him evenly for a moment, swaying slowly back and forth with the whine of the orchestra, before he blinks and nods.
"I hate it, too," he replies, and when Arthur laughs the sound emerges hollow with incredulity.
"Do you?" he almost giggles, "do you really? If that's the case, then what the fuck are you doing here? Don't you know who you're dancing with? Don't you?" He can hear the hysteria edging in on his voice and doesn't care. "They call me the motherfucking Queen of Spades! I'm the epitome of what you hate, I'm the epitome of what I hate, hell, just call me the epitome of hate, and I'm…" He begins to lose momentum. "And I'm so terribly bored…"
Alfred seems entirely unfazed.
"What am I doing here?" he asks quietly, and Arthur cannot suppress a gasp when he reaches up to cup his cheek in the warm curve of his palm, fearlessly meeting his startled gaze with that garish crystal blue stare. "I think you're interesting."
Arthur tastes his heart in his mouth and wonders at the fact that this young man, Alfred Jones, an entirely ordinary man, seems to think that he, Arthur Kirkland, a privileged aristocrat who has been unfortunately dubbed the Queen of Spades, is interesting. And, Arthur considers dizzily, Alfred himself is very interesting indeed, in fact he is a puzzle, a startlingly handsome puzzle despite his gaudy blue suit, a startlingly handsome puzzle whose hand is still pressed to Arthur's face, who seems to be veering closer with every instant that flits through his slender grasping fingers.
"Alfred," he gasps the moment before their lips touch, and tastes his breath on the tip of his tongue. "I know a better place."
Alfred realizes what he is implying and leans away, allowing Arthur to take him by the sleeve of that dreadful suit and slip away from the dance floor, away from the entire ballroom itself, away into one of the rooms to the side which Arthur knows to have a door with a lock. He herds Alfred inside, ignoring his hushed laughter, and follows on tiptoe, carefully securing the door behind them before he turns to smile tentatively at the fascinating young man standing before him.
They kiss, and Arthur knows that he will not be bored anymore.
Between kisses, he wonders at the violent obsession which has taken complete and irrevocable hold of him in a matter of instants. Already he is entirely absorbed in Alfred, thinking of nothing else but the contours of his mouth, the way he tastes faintly of cigarettes, the feel of his palms pressing close against his own slender hips, drawing him nearer and nearer still. He fastens his fingers into his hair and forces himself deeper into the kiss, smiling when their teeth clack and Alfred gasps against his lips, tumbling backwards a few steps to bump against the low back of a small velvet couch that neither of them has anticipated. He nearly falls, and Arthur laughs outright, burying his face into his collarbone with an inexplicable rush of affection. He wonders dizzily if he could possibly be in love with the boy already.
Alfred drops from his mouth to his throat and he groans, digging his fingers into his hair deeper still and arching his back not unlike a cat. Alfred grips him securely by the hips and he does not fear that he will fall, but nonetheless he fastens his arms around the boy's neck and leans up to ghost his mouth over the powerful line of his jaw, pressing a smile into the conjunction at his neck and ear when he gasps and clutches Arthur desperately close, as if he were fragile, breakable, worth a million dollars.
Arthur pauses when he remembers that he is in fact worth many billions of dollars, and snickers to himself. Alfred lifts his face from his collarbone curiously, and he is gratified by the sight of his helplessly mussed hair and flushed cheeks.
"What's so funny?" he breathes, and Arthur wants to preserve him there like that forever, wrapped in his arms and entirely focused on his face.
"Nothing, darling, nothing," he almost croons, running his fingers through Alfred's hair. "Has anyone ever told you that you're dreadfully lovely?"
Alfred blinks and the color in his cheeks deepens. Arthur feels his throat constrict with affection.
"Never like that," stammers Alfred after a long moment, his sudden fit of embarrassment striking an enchanting juxtaposition with his confidence on the dance floor. "But I thought you hated me."
"Don't be silly," murmurs Arthur, and kisses him briefly. "I love you."
Alfred inhales sharply against his lips and pulls away to meet his gaze almost cautiously.
Arthur nods, resting his wrists on Alfred's shoulders, only moderately afraid of his response. A moment of silence passes between them.
"And I love you, Arthur," he whispers, and Arthur realizes that he is holding the most precious thing in the world at his fingertips. He wants to say something beautiful, lyrical, something that will truly make this moment one to remember.
"Fuck me," he gasps, and the color in Alfred's cheeks reaches what must be a peak. Realizing what he's said, Arthur blushes perhaps even more violently, and begins to stammer an excuse, but soon finds himself interrupted by Alfred's mouth and by his hands as they slip beneath his jacket to press scorching hot against his sides. He gasps before he bends deep into the embrace, dropping his hands to cup the back of Alfred's neck and opening his mouth into the kiss.
Alfred is soon shrugging away his pale blue tuxedo jacket, and Arthur watches in mild satisfaction as the horrible thing pools on the floor at their feet. He wrestles away Alfred's cravat and begins with the buttons of his shirt; his fingers are no less deft for all his eagerness and soon the fabric falls open at his shoulders and Arthur presses himself to his bare chest. Alfred gasps, kisses him briefly, then begins to push away at his suit jacket, tearing and fumbling at the delicate engraved buttons of his waistcoat to such an extent that Arthur laughingly pushes him away and deals with his shirt himself, though he falls back into his embrace the moment the clothing hits the floor.
He cannot help but inhale sharply in surprise when Alfred lifts him from the floor entirely, but recovers the good sense to tangle his legs tightly around his waist and press his face into the dip of his shoulder as he guides them towards the couch, pressing light kisses to his neck. He lowers Arthur down beneath him with a gentleness that causes a fit of affection to swell in his throat, and when they kiss again he is helpless, arching his back from the couch and spreading his legs wide to accommodate Alfred between them.
They simply kiss for a while longer, but Arthur is quick to bore and soon leans away to nip at Alfred's neck as he reaches down for the button of his trousers, pausing to briefly ghost his fingers over his crotch and smirking when he bucks forwards into his palm with a gasp. He adroitly undoes the button and yanks the trousers to his knees before he falls back again and opens his arms in welcome, chuckling as Alfred races to kick his pants to the floor and burrow into the embrace offered. Arthur lifts his hips to allow his own suit pants to be slipped away and wraps his bare legs snug around Alfred's waist, because no measure of closeness is really enough, not when all of this is so new and interesting and almost frighteningly absorbing.
He sighs when Alfred slides his thumbs beneath the waistband of his underwear and traces the hollows of his hips, biting softly at his jugular, his collarbone, kissing down the gentle dip of his chest. Soon there is no clothing left except for their socks, and they pause for a moment to simply stare at one another, as if reminding themselves that the other truly exists.
Arthur breaks the silence with a kiss and he can feel Alfred smile against his mouth. He wonders what they can possibly use to help the process along – he certainly wasn't expecting such a necessity, but perhaps there might be something nearby - but then Alfred grinds his hips downwards nothing more than gently and Arthur's back snaps upwards from the couch to meet him with such force that he understands that actual sex itself will not be necessary.
Alfred kisses him with such a sudden uncharacteristic greediness that Arthur nearly moans into his mouth as he hooks his ankles over his hips. They are so exasperatingly new to each other – such is the curious wonder of Alfred Jones, after all – that at first their rhythm is almost painfully erratic, nothing more than a poorly assembled string of gasps and kisses and clattering teeth and hands clutching at hair, but Arthur has never experienced anything quite like it and it fascinates him, delights him.
Indeed, everything about this boy fascinates and delights Arthur, from the clumsy paths of his hands as he blindly explores the deep valleys of his hips, the soft hollows of his inner thighs, the orderly ridges of his ribs, every pockmark and nuance of his body, to the rasping note in his voice when he breaks away to ask if Arthur is alright, if it feels good. Arthur wishes he had the words to reply that it feels wonderful and he cannot remember the last time he has been so interested in anything, but he is breathless, wordless, captured, obsessed, and cannot speak.
So instead he unravels his legs from Alfred's waist and pushes him back to the couch, ignoring his inhale of surprise and confusion as Arthur perches between his thighs, kissing him briefly on the chin before he drops, traveling gradually lower and lower until Alfred chokes out a gasp and digs his fingers almost painfully into his hair. Arthur smirks and shuts his eyes, focusing on developing a proper rhythm.
Alfred garbles his name every so often and soon takes to petting at his hair, head tipped back so that Arthur can see the vulnerable underside of his chin and the feverish bob of his Adam's apple. This continues for some time, but Arthur pulls away before he can come, brushing off his indignant expression with a kiss and a promise murmured in his ear. He feels Alfred swallow heavily against him, but when he turns he also feels hands secured strong and determined at his hips, feels the couch dip as knees press into the cushion on either side of his body.
When Alfred begins, Arthur has to bury his face in the cushion to muffle his groan, and he struggles to keep his quivering thighs from giving out entirely. He feels lips pressing feverishly against the back of his neck, feels fingertips digging almost sharply into the soft curves of his hips, and curls his hands into fists, gasping against the couch. Their rhythm is hardly improved, but there is a wonderful obsessive rush about the whole thing, what with how Alfred thrusts frantically and erratically and how Arthur trembles and forgets to breathe and nearly sobs into the couch.
When everything is so new and fascinating and outright capturing, the end arrives quickly and unexpectedly, with Alfred collapsing against Arthur's back with a groan and Arthur sighing his name as he finally allows himself to fall into the sofa, closing his eyes as his cheek presses into the cushion.
After a long moment, his ribcage begins to ache and he tries to roll out from beneath Alfred only to find himself lifted from the cushion entirely and bundled closely into his arms, his face pressed against his heaving chest. They remain like that for a long while, listening to their breathing slow, surrounded by each other and the thick sweaty reek of sex.
Eventually, Alfred hooks a finger beneath Arthur's chin to draw his face upwards, meeting his gaze quite seriously.
"Arthur," he murmurs, "let's get married."
Arthur is breathless, unable to comprehend what he has just been asked.
"You…" he whispers, as if he were terrified that raising his voice will shatter the words into a thousand razor-sharp pieces. "You…honestly want to? With me?" His voice breaks just slightly. "With me, of all people? Alfred, you honestly want to marry the jaded, spoiled Queen of Spades?"
Alfred nods. "If he will have me, that is."
Arthur shakes his head in disbelief.
"You honestly want to become the…the…" He gulps. "The King of Spades?"
Alfred smiles tentatively. "I hope you don't mind, but I don't have a ring yet."
Arthur makes a curious choking sound from the back of his throat and cups a hand over his mouth.
"No," he whispers past his fingers, "I don't mind at all. Alfred…I…of course I'll marry you. I've been spoiled with meaningless baubles all my life, don't give me a ring. Just let me…" He sighs incredulously, cupping Alfred's cheek in his hand. "Just let me marry you, let me have something real and nothing else."
Alfred outright grins, and then they kiss, and Arthur knows that he will never be bored again.
AN – Man, I love this universe. I was reluctant to get into it for some reason, but now…well, I'm going to publish the first chapter of a new USUK Cardverse AU sometime tomorrow, and I am so excited that I think I must sound calm while I explode inside over and over.
(The AU itself will be more traditionally in the style of Cardverse itself, not a corporate interpretation, just FYI.)
Anyways, I hope this met your challenge well, bleach-otaku! You're so sweet to always leave comments on my stuff, and I had so much fun doing this prompt. :3
Thank you to everyone for reading! I know that this was a rather different interpretation of this universe from what is usually produced, and with it being my first attempt and all…thoughts?
Until next time!