Lovino had to do it.

He rolled off of his mattress and onto the hard floor of the cramped room he shared with his brother. He lay there in silence, face flat on the floor. He quickly pondered crawling back into bed and sleeping forever, yet somehow forced himself to his feet with a groan. The faint sunlight filtering in through the window blinds was far too bright for his bleary eyes and he winced. Not the best start to what was sure to be a very long day.

After a quick shower, Lovino sat down at the kitchen table with a plate of scrambled eggs. He tried to ignore the pile of stamped letters in the center of the small kitchen table, but the red lettering on the envelopes was far too menacing to look away from.

Maybe I don't have to? He wondered quietly as he poked his eggs around on his plate. I mean… the bills can wait a while, can't they? How much can they be anyways? All I have to do is just take as many shifts as possible, right? Ah, fuck, then there's the interest to pay…

He tried to think of an alternative solution, something much more pleasant, something that wouldn't make him feel sick like he did then. And of course, he could think of nothing. He wasn't the smartest guy on the block, or the most creative tool in the shed. He wasn't some entrepreneur who could think of nifty little ways for some extra money. He was just some kid barely able to keep himself clothed in rags. If he was living alone, if he only had to worry about himself, maybe it wouldn't be so hard…

The door opened, scratching against the floor horribly, and Lovino guiltily chased away his train of thoughts.

"Good morning, Lovi," Feliciano fluttered in through the door cheerfully, the same dopey smile on his face as always.

"'Morning," Lovino muttered.

Feliciano placed a grocery bag on the counter and started putting away the scant food he brought home. "There was a sale on bread today, so I bought some more."

"That's nice."

"Oh, and guess what, guess what, guess what!"

Lovino rolled his eyes. He wasn't really in the mood for Feliciano's fun games. "Oi, just spit it out."

"I found a flier for someone looking for a household worker." His enthusiasm was not lessened by Lovino's harsh tone.


"Yeah! It'd only be for a couple hours every other day, so I could fit it in between the diner. The house is a little far away, but the employer will pay for transport fees." Feliciano crumpled up the now-empty bag and stuffed it in the drawer with the other grocery bags for future use. "And it pays better than the diner, too, though it's only for those few hours… Oh! But, but, but it could become a more full-time job!"

Lovino poked around at his eggs some more as his eyes narrowed. "It sounds shady. Who's the employer?"

Feliciano shifted his weight awkwardly under his brother's gaze. "I… I don't really know… some rich guy. I already called and am going in for an interview tomorrow."

"Where's the interview?"

"At the house. I have the address in my pocket somewhere…"

Lovino sighed. "This sounds so fucking gross. It could be some old guy who just wants a piece of ass to look at or something."

"Why are you so negative?" Feliciano frowned. "The man on the phone sounded nice, and it's just supposed to be some household chores because apparently he's very busy."

"Yeah, it could be that, or it could be some scam." Lovino slammed his fork down on the table. "You know this isn't a nice town, and this sounds too good to be true. Are you too fucking stupid to see that?"

His younger brother fell silent. He stood there, staring down at the ground in shame. Lovino sighed again, and slumped back in his chair.

"I won't stop you from going to the interview," he murmured at last. "But just be careful, okay? At the first sign of anything creepy, just get out of there. If you get kidnapped, I'm not going to go running off to save your sorry ass, got that?"

Feliciano beamed. "Ve, got it!"

Lovino stood up and pushed the full plate of untouched eggs towards Feliciano. "Here, you can have these. I'm heading off to work."

"You should eat them," came the expected reply. "It's no good to work on an empty stomach."

"I'm not hungry."

Feliciano stepped over and put a hand on Lovino's forehead. "Are you sick? If you're sick you can just stay home. It's okay."

Lovino slapped the hand away. "I'm fine. Eat the eggs." He grabbed his coat off his chair and slipped it on. "I'm working late tonight."

"Again? I'll leave some dinner out for you, then."

"No, I'll be… really late, so just put it away. Don't worry, I'll eat something at work or whatever."

"Okay… have a good day, fratello!"

With a stiff nod, Lovino left their small apartment, slamming the door behind him. He instantly shivered in the brisk autumn air and wrapped his ragged coat around him tighter. The outside flooring creaked and shook beneath his feet as he walked past his neighbors' apartments and down the rickety flight of steps. Their apartment building certainly had seen better days. At least, he hoped it had, though it was kind of hard to imagine it in any other state aside from 'about to collapse.'

The streets were quiet except for the occasional battered car clunking its way down the patched road. Usually, the utter silence bothered Lovino, but today, it was all he craved.

When he was about halfway to his workplace, Lovino caught sight of a scrawny figure slumped against a light pole on the side of the road, a broken bottle near his pale hands. The drunkard was out of place for a Friday morning; usually they weren't seen passed out on the streets until Saturday morning.

"Maybe he's beating the rush," Lovino commented dryly to no one. He walked past the drunkard without a second glance at him. He didn't have the time to pity every sap on the streets; he didn't even have the time to pity himself. And besides, the knots in his stomachs were twisting and turning far too much for him to risk stopping. If he stopped, he feared he might not be able to continue.

It'll be fine. Stop being such a fucking coward. There are plenty of people who do this kinda shit every day and they're doing great. But his ears were deaf to even his own words.

He arrived at his workplace far too soon. The harsh neon lights signaling the night bar were off, but the warmer sign displaying the word "Open"was hanging there in the dark glass door. Lovino hesitated at the doorstep. He briefly considered taking up Feliciano's offer of calling in sick and staying home. Then he thought of the stack of bills on the table, waiting for him at home. With a deep breath, he opened the door.

"Hey there, Lovino!" Tino was right at the door with a beaming greeting. "Did ya have a nice walk?"

"Same as always." Lovino started heading towards the back. "Been busy today?"

"A few customers," Tino answered automatically as he trailed after Lovino, broom in hand. "Nothing too hectic. I'll leave that up to you for the lunch rush."

"Yeah, great. Thanks so much." Lovino rolled his eyes.

Tino grinned. "I know you don't really mind. C'mon, it wouldn't kill ya to give me just one little smile."
"I'd rather kill you than give you one fucking smile."

"You're never any fun."

"I'm hella fun. You're just boring. You can't even handle the lunch rush."

"Hey," Tino pouted, "it's not my fault I'm busy with my college classes."

Lovino hung up his coat as he walked over to his locker. "Excuses."

"Reasons," Tino corrected happily. "I'm gonna finish sweeping up then head out. Mr. Bonnefoy is in the kitchen, of course. Tell Alfred I said hi when he comes in!"

"Yeah, sure."

After changing into the dress shirt and dark blue jacket that constituted his uniform, Lovino sighed and headed over to the kitchen. Francis Bonnefoy was leaning against an immaculately cleaned counter, his perfect blonde hair tied back into a ponytail. He was hard at work… smelling a bright red rose in his hands.

Typical, Lovino scoffed.

"Ah!" Francis purred. "Isn't this rose just so beautiful? I found it on my way over here! What luck!"

"Yeah, it's great," Lovino rolled his eyes. "Are you going to get ready for the lunch rush or just sit there like an idiot?"

Francis clicked his tongue. "That's no way to speak to your boss, Lovino. But since you're so cute, I'll forgive it just this once." He looked away from his precious flower just long enough to blow Lovino a kiss.

Lovino cringed and bit back a curse. "Che palle… stop being so gross, old man."

Another click of the tongue. "No Italian in the store. Can't be confusing our darling customers." He looked back at Lovino, this time without his teasing smile. "You especially need to work on that for tonight's shift."

Lovino stiffened. "Yeah… yeah, I know."

Francis walked over to him and draped an arm around the smaller boy's shoulders. "I know you're going to be nervous since it's your first time and all, but do try to reign in your foul tongue. There might be a few customers who enjoy that sort of attitude," he said with a wink, "but wait until you're secluded from the other customers before that, okay?"

Lovino wanted to shake off the arm but only managed to shiver instead.

"You know…" Francis said after a moment's silence, "I don't think I should let you start tonight. You look like you're about to throw up, and it's not even noon yet. Why not think it through for a few weeks more, yes?" His eyes started to glisten and he stared off into the distance. "After all, this is supposed to be something beautiful and performed only when the heart calls-or when something else calls, ohoho, but well-"

"No!" Lovino set his jaw and pushed Francis away from him, looking up into the owner's eyes. "Don't underestimate me, bastard. I'm doing this for my own reasons, and I'm doing it tonight."

Francis blinked, taken aback by the sudden ferocity. Then he broke out smiling. "Ahhh, yes, there's the spirit the customers want! I knew you'd be perfect for the job since the moment I first saw you! I'm so glad you finally decided to bloom into the rose you were always meant to become!"

Lovino rolled his eyes again. "Great. Just what I always wanted to be, a fucking flower."

Francis pressed a finger against Lovino's lips. "Ah, ah ah." He shook his head. "No. Foul. Language. Remember? We are a shop built on class and poise. One more naughty word from you and I'll put you on clean-up duty all of next week."

Lovino glared, resisting the urge to bite that stupid finger off. But he really, really hated cleaning up… He instead smirked bitterly. "Class and poise until 11, then it's all mess and noise, right?"

Francis winked. "Of course." He tapped the tip of Lovino's nose. "I'm so glad you understand."

Alfred showed up just in time to suit up and start taking orders for the early-birds of the rush hour. The countless knots in Lovino's stomach subsided as he fell prey to the adrenaline that came from dashing from table to table while juggling glasses and plates and bowls and napkins and orders. The time passed by seamlessly, and before he knew it, he had just gotten off of his break and was consumed by the dinner rush. The dinner rush, while it was larger than the lunch rush, was easier since they had been joined by the assistant cook and bartender, Berwald, and a third waiter, Yao. The cafè side of L'Orchid closed down at eight p.m., leaving the waiters to alternate between cleaning up and tending the now-open bar, where Berwald was serving up cocktails and beers.

After the cafè closed for the night, Lovino felt his heart pounding harder and harder with each minute that brought him closer to eleven. He'd worked at the bar on Friday nights in the past-only as the consistent waiter-but that night seemed particularly filled. The older college students that hadn't taken over the pool tables were challenging each other to drinking competitions, which were certain to end up in Berwald tossing out a couple violent drunks. A small group of older men-late twenties to early thirties, maybe-wandered in a few minutes before eleven o'clock, sitting down in one of the booths. They were regular costumers, coming in every month or so, and were nudging each other while eyeing the waiters.

Lovino and his fellow waiters headed into the back room with Francis at five 'till eleven. Lovino's throat was on fire while his gut felt like a rock covered in slimy moss.

Francis gave him a pat on the back. "If you look that glum, you won't get any customers," he warned playfully as he poked Lovino in the arm with a pin. "Relax and just enjoy yourself! There are plenty of women out there who would love to get their hands on you. They'll be considerate of how nervous you are since it's your first time doing this."

"I'm not nervous!" Lovino snapped and grabbed the pin from Francis. It was a midnight blue rose with a dark red heart behind it. It was the pin showing that he was 'for sale,' and not just a regular waiter anymore.

Yao, having already pinned his on and was heading out the door again, glanced back at him. "Oh, it is your first time tonight, right? Don't worry, it'll be fine." He smiled at the younger boy. "I was nervous my first time, too, but then it was actually really enjoyable! So good luck!" And with that, he was gone.

This piqued Alfred's interest. "Whoa, dude, seriously? You're finally joining us tonight? Epic!" The tall, hamburger-smelling man slammed his own pin onto his chest and beamed. "I'm sure you'll have a blast! There are tons of hot chicks out there tonight! And even most of the guys are fairly hot, but not as hot as me, of course, haha!"

Lovino nodded, trying to build up a false courage, but failing miserably.

"Alfred," Francis said with a tilt of his head, "which room is yours again? I forget."

"Mine is room four, dude."

"Ah, of course." The owner fished in his pockets and pulled out a key, handing it to Lovino. "You'll have room five, then. Remember the rules: Payment first, pleasure second. I assume you know the payment rates. And make sure you tidy up before heading home."

"Wait, so…" Lovino tried to swallow but his throat was dry so he just coughed. "How… how do I get a customer?"

Francis chuckled. "Oh, Lovino, you're so crude, yet so innocent. You're cute enough, you probably won't have to worry about finding one; they'll just come to you. Besides," he flipped a lock of his golden hair over his shoulder carelessly, "it's your first night; lots of customers would love to get their hands on a prostitute's first night."


The word was commonly tossed about in his workplace, but it had never applied to Lovino before. Somehow, hearing that word right then made the situation very, very real.

It's only a business transaction, he told himself as he blindly watched Alfred and Francis chat. That's all it is. I need money, so I'll work to get the money. Simple.

Man or woman, it didn't really matter to him, and L'Orchid was known for having prostitutes who worked both sides of the street, so to speak. He probably had just as much of a chance being chosen by a man as he did by a woman. Well… Francis had told him earlier, when Lovino first brought up wanting to finally work the night shift and all that entailed, that he thought Lovino might be more popular among men than women. Whatever. I can get a chick. Easy.

"Hey," Lovino spoke up. "Who's going to be the constant waiter tonight?"

"Ah," Francis perked up. "That'll be me. I'd love to play, but some friends are coming in tonight."

With a nod, Lovino clipped on his pin and almost stabbed himself in the process as his fingers were shaking. He turned so that Francis and Alfred couldn't see, then promptly went out into the main room before they could say anything more to him.

Fuck, he grit his teeth into a painful smile. I can't believe it's actually tonight. That damn bastard of a grandpa. Bet he didn't think that leaving us for no fucking reason would make me end up like this, huh?

He instantly felt guilty, even though he wasn't really wrong. His grandpa had done a lot of good for him and Feliciano. Lovino knew that Romulus wouldn't have left them without good reason. Of course, being warned that he was about to be abandoned would have been pretty damn fine, but…

Well. He couldn't do anything to change what had happened. He could only work to protect and support himself and his younger idiota of a brother.

"Gilbert!" Francis suddenly called out from behind him. "Antonio! Late as always!"

A response was shouted from across the room, "You should be lucky I even decided to bless you with my awesomeness at all tonight! So just bow down before me and kiss my feet in reverence of my glory!"

Lovino looked to see that a white-haired man with alarmingly red eyes was shouting from where he had just entered the bar. Behind him was a friendlier looking man, donning dark brown hair and bright green eyes, laughing and telling the shouting man something that Lovino was too far away to hear. Francis started walking towards them, grinning, and Lovino instantly realized that he wanted to part with any friends of Francis.

Francis sat his friends down at the booth behind the one where the older men were still sitting at and quickly headed to the back to tidy up while Lovino and the other two waiters were still able to work in the main room. Yao was 'at work' trying to cozy up to some of the less-drunk college students over by the pool tables. Alfred was doing the same, though he was surrounded by more girls than Yao was. No one in particular caught Lovino's eye, and he couldn't see anyone paying extra attention to him and his new blue rose pin anyways. Maybe that was for the best?

No, that wasn't how it worked. He needed the money. If no one wanted him, he wouldn't get paid. Fuck.

He was summoned over to the bar by Berwald, who gestured to a tray of beers. "To booth nine," the bartender stated in his usual cold accent. Lovino liked Berwald the most out of all of his co-workers for the fact that Berwald didn't try to be cheery with him and strike up conversations, and he wasn't some flowery idiot like Francis or Tino, or some outrageous idiot like Alfred or Yao.

Lovino nodded and took the tray. Booth nine was the one where the older men were talking amongst themselves. They looked up at him as he approached. He threw on a stretched smile.

"Here are your drinks, sirs." He set each of the beers in front of the men and started to back away when the man closest to him, a tan man donning a strange mask and cloak, grabbed his arm.

"Pardon me," the man's grip tightened, "but you are… new, yes? I remember seeing you when I came in a while ago, but you didn't have the rose on." As if to prove his point, he reached out with his free hand and brushed his fingers against Lovino's pin and chest. Even though he couldn't see the man's eyes, Lovino could feel their clammy leer coiling around his skin like a snake around its fresh kill.

Shivers ran down Lovino's spine as the other men at the table snickered, clearly understanding what their friend was referring to. Fuck fuck fuck what do I do? He's creepy as fuck and what the hell is up with that damn mask? "Y-yeah," he said aloud, "t...tonight's my first night, actually."

He felt the man's eyes burning through his skin. "Is that so?" The man licked his lip and stood up slowly, looming over him. "Do you have the same rates as the others?"

Wait wait wait wait what the hell? This… creep is going to be my first customer? Lovino responded automatically, "Well, n-no. Since I'm more… inexperienced… my rates are lower for no-ah!" He bit his lower lip and choked back a scream as the man's other hand slid down Lovino's side and grabbed at his ass. He had to fight against the urge to squirm. "I… I have the chart of my rates-"

"No need," the man assured him, his thick accent invading Lovino's ears and coating them with its slime. He turned back to his friends. "I hope you guys won't mind me leaving you early, right?" The other men laughed and jeered and nudged the masked man in their own way of saying 'have fun.'

Lovino was shocked by the sudden turn of events and took a step backwards on instinct. He let out a small yelp as the man dug his fingernails into Lovino's arm and leaned in towards him.

"You're not going to run away from me, are you?" His breath was heavy and moist on Lovino's ear and his fingernails pressing into Lovino's skin hurt like a bitch. The man's tongue slipped against the edge of Lovino's ear. Lovino squeezed his eyes shut. He didn't have much of an option. He had prepared himself for this moment… or he thought he had, anyways. He squeezed his eyes shut and readied to shake his head and give himself over to the masked man.

"Pardon me, signor, but I have to ask you to let go of him now."

The masked man turned towards the voice coming from behind him, and Lovino cracked open an eye to see that Francis's green-eyed friend had stood up. He had a polite smile painted on his face as he addressed the taller man holding onto Lovino.

"Antonio," the white-haired man hissed from where he still sat seated in their booth. "What the hell are you doing, man?"

He didn't respond to his friend's calling, and instead continued to talk to the masked man. "I'm sorry, there seems to have been some confusion. You see-"

"Don't try to sweet talk me, bastard," the masked man bared his teeth using a twisted grin. "Don't think I don't remember you. I don't want to deal with old grudges tonight, so just back off."

Antonio didn't budge an inch, the same smile still on his face, though there was a dark glint in his eyes now. "No, no, this has nothing to do with us, signor, you see, I merely had this man reserved. I was just waiting for the other waiter to return so there would be someone to serve the other guests before claiming him. That's all."

What the fuck?! Lovino wanted to shout at someone because he had no idea what the hell was going on anymore. His arm was still held captive by the masked man and he was too scared, both by the masked man and by the dark glint in Antonio's eyes, to even try to escape.

The masked man licked his lips again. "Is that so, signor?" he asked mockingly.

"Si. Ah, look," Antonio tilted his head towards the bar where Francis was chatting with Berwald without ever moving his gaze away, "there's the owner of this fine establishment now. Care to speak with him about our situation?"

The masked man let out an irritated growl; he made no move to let go of Lovino, but he certainly didn't look like he wanted to be held accountable to the owner.

Antonio didn't wait for an answer, either. He grabbed the masked man's wrist and firmly pulled his hand off of Lovino's arm. Before Lovino could heave a sigh of relief to finally be free, Antonio slipped his arm around Lovino's shoulders and started leading him away. The masked man's friends started to protest, but the man quieted them and glared at Antonio.

"I'll let you off tonight," he said with that same twisted grin as before, "but only for tonight, understand?" He joined his friends again before he could get a response.

Gilbert started to stand up in his booth. "Antonio, what are you-"

"Ah, sorry," Antonio shrugged as he herded Lovino past their booth. "Tell Francis I said good night, and don't worry about waiting for me. I'll talk to you guys tomorrow."

Lovino finally spoke up when they were past the main group of people "Hey, wait, slow down a little!" The glint in the man's green eyes didn't fade as he continued to drag him towards the private rooms in the back. Lovino's heart started to speed up as he realized what was going to happen, but he still had to ask."What… what are we doing?"

Antonio looked down at him and grinned. "We're going to have some fun!"

A/N: I started writing this over a year ago, and am finally trying to muster up the willpower to finish it.
Side note: The rating on this might later change to explicit, depending on the state of my sanity. :)
And wtf are summaries, honestly.
Summary and name are probably going to change once I figure out where the fuck I'm going with this garbage hahahahaha.

Thanks for reading! Comments are always appreciated. :D