Chapter 1: Prologue
The moon fell in silver bars of light across the bed. Ciel turned over, his eyes sliding open and squinting in the brightness. Sebastian was always so careful about closing the drapes before bed. So why was there so much light?
He shut his eyes, turning back around. A moment later he pulled a pillow over his head. Then another moment later, he tossed the pillow away and sat up. He was tired, but there was no way he was going to be able to get back to sleep like this.
He remembered when Sebastian had brought him back to the manor after rescuing him. How he had hated the dark. It reminded him of bad things. He awoke from nightmares, screaming, drenched in sweat. And Sebastian was always there. Ciel had made his butler stay in the room until the candles burned low and he fell back asleep.
That had been a long time ago. Now the room had to be dark.
Ciel threw back the covers and strode toward the window. He was going to have to have a word with Sebastian. Earls shouldn’t have to close their own curtains after retiring to bed. He sighed and yanked the heavy fabric across the window.
He turned away and started back toward the bed. Before he reached it, however, moonlight filtered into the room. Ciel turned. The curtain was moved again. He made an irritated sound and crossed to the window again. He didn’t think the window had been open. There wasn’t a breeze, but maybe he hadn’t noticed.
He drew back the curtain slightly, checking to see if the window were open. It wasn’t. In fact, it was firmly closed, the bolt in place. He took a quick glance over the darkened grounds, and seeing nothing amiss, turned away, pulling the curtain across the window as far as it would go.
Ciel settled back into bed, drawing the covers up to his chin. He was tired; he didn’t know what time it was, but it felt late. He had a full day ahead of him he was sure. Sebastian always informed him of his schedule in the morning, often reminding him of events and appointments he hadn’t deemed important enough to remember himself. And he was still young. He needed sleep.
Just before his eyes slipped closed, the moon seared across the room again. Ciel sat up again, angry this time. What the bloody hell was going on?
“Who’s there?” He asked. “This isn’t amusing. I demand you show yourself at once!”
He reached over toward the night table and drew out a gun. He always kept a few weapons close at hand. One could never be too careful. Especially if one were the Queen’s Guard Dog.
Silence met his command. Ciel felt his heart pounding in his chest, but he refused to let his fear show. He slipped from the bed, nightshirt flapping around his knees, and panned the gun slowly around the room.
“I’m warning you,” Ciel said. “I’m armed.”
It occurred to him that it was unlikely anyone could have slipped into the manor undetected. Nothing serious got past his servants, especially Sebastian. What if something had happened to them? The thought of someone or something that could take out the Phantomhive servants filled him with dread. He kept the gun steady, though he could feel his hands starting to shake.
A shape moved to the left of the window and Ciel fired without thinking. The figure easily dodged the bullet, which sailed into the window, shattering it. Glass sprayed everywhere. Ciel pointed the gun again.
“Young master, you nearly shot me,” Sebastian said, stepping into the light.
“What are you doing in here?” Ciel said. He lowered the gun, but his fear turned to anger. “Skulking around. Were you the one opening the curtains?”
“Indeed,” Sebastian admitted. “I’ll admit I wasn’t sure if it would work. You aren’t always the feather light sleeper you used to be.”
Ciel sat down on the edge of his bed. “Answer the question.”
Sebastian’s lips curled into a smile. Ciel knew that look. He just wasn’t sure what could have warranted it.
It appeared he was going to find out sooner than later. Sebastian moved swiftly toward him and the next thing he knew the butler had pinned him to the bed. He struggled a bit, but Sebastian was too strong. He’d never be able to break free.
“Sebastian,” Ciel said. “I command you unhand me at once!”
Sebastian didn’t let go, but he did loosen his hold. Ciel stared up at the other man, unsure of what to say next. It was becoming apparent that Sebastian was going to ignore his order. Actually he’d ignored most of them up to this point. It was time the Earl reestablished his authority.
“Sebastian,” Ciel tried again, but he didn’t get any further. The demon had bent close and Ciel could feel hot breath on his neck. “Sebastian—what? What the hell are you doing? Stop that immediately!”
He was pretty sure that Sebastian didn’t have to breathe if he chose, so he was doing this just to be strange. In fact, this whole episode was completely out of character for him. Ciel’s arms were starting to get tired. He wanted to be scared, but part of him was curious to see what the butler would do next.
He could feel Sebastian’s lips brush against his neck and he gasped in surprise. It had been a long time since anyone had kissed him and no one had ever kissed him that way. It felt…good.
Ciel opened his mouth to say more, but he didn’t get the chance. At that moment Sebastian drew his head back slightly. Ciel saw his fangs glint in the moonlight before they sank deep into his neck.
Chapter 2: Chapter 1
Ciel sat up in bed, his heart racing. The room was full of light again, but bright warm light. It was morning. He looked over to see Sebastian pulling back the curtains. He touched his neck gingerly, half expecting his fingers to come away with blood. He could still feel the pressure of the demon's teeth. Had it been a dream?
"Good morning, young master," Sebastian said as he turned around. "Did you have trouble sleeping?"
Ciel raised an eyebrow. "Why would you ask that?"
"You look rather pale," Sebastian said. "And you awoke with such a start."
"I'm fine," Ciel said.
Sebastian shrugged and bowed his head. "Oh well, my mistake." He cleared his throat and then began listing the day's activities and the breakfast selections.
Ciel barely heard him. His mind still felt fuzzy. He rubbed at his neck and found himself avoiding looking at Sebastian because all he could focus on when he did were the gleaming fangs in the demon's mouth.
He allowed himself to be dressed, though the thought of Sebastian seeing him naked gave him an odd feeling. It wasn't unpleasant but suddenly he found himself more self-conscious. He would have declined, but Sebastian definitely would have gotten suspicious, and remembering the last time he had attempted to dress it hadn't gone so well. It had worked fine for the disguise as a scrappy circus worker, but an Earl didn't go around with the strings of his eye patch tangled in his hair or crookedly buttoned buttons.
"Young master?" Sebastian's tone implied this was not the first time he'd tried to get a response.
"What?" Ciel said. He assembled his features into what he hoped was a normal expression.
"You never decided what you wanted for breakfast."
Ciel's stomach rolled. The thought of eating anything didn't sound appealing. "Nothing, I'm not feeling very hungry today."
"You're not ill, are you?" Sebastian placed a hand on Ciel's forehead. It took everything in the boy's power not to pull away.
"No," Ciel shook his head. "I'll be fine. Prepare some peppermint tea, with sugar. I'd like it brought to my study."
Sebastian bowed and saw himself out of the room.
Once he was gone, Ciel left out a sigh of relief. He didn't know what was happening. His dream, if it had been a dream, had seemed incredibly real. He'd felt Sebastian's weight when the demon pinned him down. His warm breath. The sting when he'd clamped down on his neck. The weirdest part, was that even though it had been a little scary (though Ciel would never admit he was afraid), was that he hadn't disliked it. And that frightened him more.
Chapter 3: Chapter 2
Sebastian set about making the tea to his master's specifications. He was sure that he was hiding something from him but wasn't sure exactly what. He'd been behaving oddly too. He kept rubbing his neck and wouldn't look at the demon. Not that that was unusual. The young master did often become lost in thought and ignored him when he was talking. He supposed it was a casualty of being young.
He wheeled the teacart down the hall, pondering these things. The sparse spread on cart was another matter. Very rarely in all the time that he'd served him, had the young master declined some sort of breakfast. It hadn't happened in a while, especially since Sebastian had mastered the art of cooking to the Earl's tastes. And he'd requested peppermint, known for it's soothing qualities and aid in digestion. It was quite vexing indeed.
Sebastian reached the study and knocked on the door. A small voice on the other side granted permission to enter. He did so and rolled the cart over to the desk. Ciel was staring at a stack of papers. He was running his fingers over the side of his neck again.
"Your tea, sir," Sebastian said, pouring some into a cup and setting it before the Earl. He produced a sugar bowl. "One lump or two?"
"Three," Ciel replied, still fixed on the papers.
At least his sweet tooth isn't diminished, Sebastian thought. Still, there was definitely something going on with the young master and he was determined to find out what.
Sebastian distributed the requested amount of sugar and passed the cup to the Earl.
"May I ask you a question," Sebastian asked. He spoke carefully, watching the young master's every move.
Ciel's eyes slid away from the papers and regarded him for a moment. His mouth set in that small frown he often wore. "What is it?"
"You're behaving rather strangely today," Sebastian continued. "Are you sure you're alright?"
The frown deepened. "If I wasn't, I would let you know."
Sebastian wasn't quite sure that he would. "What were you dreaming about last night?"
"Why would you ask that?" Ciel raised an eyebrow.
"You seemed to be having a rather fitful sleep," Sebastian said. "You were still in the middle of it when I came to draw the curtains. Thrashing in bed and moaning."
Ciel's hand found the side of his neck again. Then his eyes narrowed and he glared up at Sebastian. "It was nothing. Go. Quit bothering me with this nonsense."
Sebastian bowed and saw himself out of the room. Once the door to the study had closed behind him, he let out an exasperated sigh. Yes, something was definitely up.
He returned to the kitchen where he supposed he might get a head start on lunch preparations. As he worked he wondered what could make the young master so jittery; he always shared everything with him. There was really no reason for either of them to have secrets. Perhaps the dream had been that dreadful, more of a nightmare, really. Though for some reason he didn't think so.
"You're in 'ere a little early for lunch, aren't yeh?" Baldroy's gruff voice sounded behind him.
Sebastian turned around, a half peeled potato in his hand. " It's never to early. I want to be sure everything is ready just in case the master is called away unexpectedly."
Baldroy nodded. "I understand. I only meant you're usually still with the lord at this time, is all."
I would have been but he dismissed me, Sebastian thought with a twinge of annoyance. But he didn't tell the cook that.
"Young master had some private business he wanted to attend to." Sebastian resumed peeling the potato. "I'll be with him later."
Mey-Rin stumbling into the kitchen covered in bubbles spared him any further questions. She had misread the directions on the box of laundry soap again it seemed. Sebastian sighed. At least the work would keep his mind off the concerning business going on upstairs.
Ciel sipped the tea that Sebastian had made him. It was delicious, but it did little to soothe his stomach. He had become flustered all over again when Sebastian was asking about the dream and he wasn't sure that he had been all that convincing in brushing it off as he had earlier. Normally Sebastian was present while he looked over all the odd bits of information in the mornings.
Truthfully, he didn't know what was going on. He didn't know why he had reacted the way he did or why it bothered him so much. It was just a dream. People had weird dreams all the time and thought nothing of them. He guessed the difference here was how real it had seemed. He had still felt an ache in his neck when he woke up, as though Sebastian had really bitten down on him. Then there was the issue of the fact that he hadn't hated being in that position with Sebastian.
He took another look over the papers. There was an interesting letter about some missing campers in a stretch of forest not too far from the manor. He didn't really understand camping. But missing persons were a topic he knew something about.
Camping sounded like people were going out into the middle of nowhere with no creature comforts and sleeping on the ground in a tent. Ciel had had enough of tents. However, it didn't seem like something that could be avoided if he wanted to investigate. And it definitely didn't sound like fun.
Though perhaps, he reasoned, it would be just the thing to get his mind off his ridiculous dream. He sorted the papers into a few untidy piles and pushed back from the desk.
He went out into the greenhouse. As usual, Snake was there, a few of his scaly friends roped around his person.
"Good morning, Smile," he said.
What brings you out here today? asks Emily.
"I felt like getting a bit of fresh air," Ciel replied. "The manor can become stifling sometimes."
One's mind can also become stifling, says Oscar.
"Oscar is right," Snake said. "Is something the matter?"
"Nothing that can't be cured," Ciel said. "I need a distraction."
"You're going to investigate something," Snake said. "Going away again."
"Yes," Ciel replied, examining some rose bushes. "Sebastian and I are going to investigate some disappearances."
Just the two of you? asks Emily.
Ciel poked his finger on a thorn and drew back. He put the finger in his mouth, grimacing at the coppery, bitter taste of blood. Was it going to be just him and Sebastian?
"I haven't decided yet," He said. "Perhaps it would be better to bring along the servants. If I am to be camping."
Whatever will make you most comfortable, says Wordsworth.
"I agree," Snake said. "You should do whatever is necessary, Smile."
Ciel didn't know what was necessary. Perhaps he would feel better if he had others there. Honestly, though, what did he think was going to happen? Nothing. He had nothing to worry about. It was just a random dream that he'd never had before. It had been unsettling sure, but it wasn't going to become true.
Maybe he had been reading it all wrong, he reasoned. Perhaps it was foreshadowing of when Sebastian would eat his soul; maybe his subconscious was worried about that. Even as he thought this, he knew it was incorrect. Sebastian in the dream hadn't been eating his soul. He'd been doing quite the opposite.
Ciel shook his head, trying to clear his thoughts. This was becoming absurd. He was done with this. Everything was fine.
He went back inside and called Sebastian. The butler was at his side at a moment's notice. Ciel squared his shoulders and forced himself to look up at the demon.
"Sebastian," He said. "I came across a bit of interesting news in the mail this morning. It seems that campers have been disappearing in a stretch of forest about twenty miles from here. Her Majesty requests we look into it. We leave this evening."
"I'll begin making preparations at once, sir," Sebastian bowed deeply.
Ciel watched him walk off in the direction of the kitchens once again. He was no doubt going to gather the other servants and set them to various tasks getting ready for their journey. He was not looking forward to camping, but he trusted that Sebastian would keep this in mind.
There, he thought. He was starting to feel normal again. All he'd needed was a good old-fashioned case to solve.
Chapter 4: Chapter 3
Ciel hated nature. It was one of the reasons why he stayed indoors most of the time. That and his health were admittedly delicate at times, though he would never disclose that to anyone.
Sebastian had readied the carriage after lunch and Ciel was quite certain that that would be his last good meal for a while. It wasn’t easy to cook decently outdoors even for someone as capable as Sebastian.
After a bit of deliberation, Ciel had decided the servants should come along as well, with the exception of Tanaka who was going to look after the estate. Not only to get his mind off the dream, but as added protection. Even though they were rather hapless a lot of the time when it came to their assigned positions, they undeniably were skilled in combat. He didn’t know what they were up against, but it would help to have others around so he and Sebastian could put their focus on the investigation.
“I’ve never been camping before,” Finny said. Ciel could hear the servants talking from inside the carriage. “I bet it’ll be loads of fun!”
“I can’t wait to try out some new outdoor recipes,” Baldroy said. “I have plenty of ammo to cook us up a feast.”
Mey Rin started to say something but Ciel had already lost interest. He stared out the window. There was nothing to see except trees and the sky. He glanced over at Sebastian who was sitting opposite him. The butler had been staring out the window as well, but his eyes shifted back toward Ciel.
“What is it, young master?”
“I’m just wondering what we’re walking into,” Ciel said.
“We usually never know until we arrive,” Sebastian replied. “However, given the fact that we are both still alive, it would appear that the odds are commonly stacked in our favor.”
Ciel nodded. “I agree. I hope today’s journey continues in that vein.”
They reached the stretch of forest indicated in the letter by evening. Ciel’s limbs ached from sitting in the carriage all day, even though they had made a couple of stops along the way. He stepped out and surveyed the perimeter. There was nothing but trees for as far as he could see in all directions. They had left the main road behind a while ago.
Everything was fairly quiet, save for a few birds twittering.
“Sebastian, have the others set up camp,” Ciel said. “Make it quick. I want to start investigating immediately.”
Sebastian bowed. “Yes, my lord.”
Sebastian clapped his hands for attention and looked at the four servants in front of him. He knew as well as the young master that he could have prepared the campsite with both arms tied behind his back. However, he also knew the Earl merely wanted to provide distraction so they could go exploring undisturbed.
He instructed Finny to gather wood for the fire, Baldroy to take care of the chests of food in the back of the carriage, and Mey-Rin and Snake to arrange the tents. Satisfied, he walked back over to the young master who was standing rather sullenly by the carriage.
“Why the long face?” Sebastian asked. “It would be good for you to spend more time outdoors. You wouldn’t be so pale.”
Ciel glared at him. “Shut it.”
“Do you have any idea what we’re looking for?” Sebastian asked, falling into step beside the Earl as he strode off in a seemingly random direction.
“Evidence of the missing campers,” Ciel said. “What about you? Have you sensed anything?”
“I’m not sensing any humans, if that’s what you mean,” Sebastian said. “At least none that are alive.”
“So they’re dead, then?”
“Not quite,” Sebastian said. “Well, I mean, yes. Some of them are dead. And some of them are not.”
“What are you blathering on about?” Ciel glared at Sebastian. “Either say what you mean or don’t bother.”
Sebastian had to admit that even though the Earl was being impatient it was better than whatever that bit of weirdness had been that morning. He still was curious as to what the master had been dreaming about, but sensed that there was no point in trying to find out. He was more likely to be graced with an entire day free of mishaps from the other servants than uncover something the young master didn’t want him to know.
He sighed softly. The energies he sensed in the forest were different than normal humans. Most of the human energies weren’t energies at all. They were completely devoid of it. Snuffed out like candles by the wind. He could still smell the humans, and they were rotting. It made his lip curl in revulsion.
There was however another type of energy. He hadn’t encountered these creatures in quite some time and truthfully never hoped to again. He could smell them as well. They were always heavily perfumed when they went near humans; smelling of spices, and herbs and essential oils. However, he could still detect the strongest odor with his sensitive demon nose. The scent of blood.
He wondered if he should alert the young master, but didn’t fancy getting his head bitten off again. Of course, he reasoned, the Earl would bite his head off when they got attacked. At which point he would be required to protect the brat even if he thought the young master could do with getting a bit banged up once in a while.
Of course, getting banged up is exactly what led us to this point anyway, he supposed. Sebastian often thought about the circumstances that had called him to his master. The young lord had really been dealt a rather unfortunate hand in life, even by human standards.
“Sebastian, are you even listening to me?” Ciel asked. He was standing a few feet up the path, one hand on his hip, the other clutching the head of his walking stick.
The demon thought he really looked rather out of place in his cloak and top hat in the middle of the forest but the young master didn’t have any appropriate outdoor clothes and there was no time to have some commissioned.
“Well?” His scowl deepened.
Sebastian realized that he had stopped walking, and that he truly hadn’t been listened to anything that had been said in the last couple of minutes. Really this was unacceptable.
“Apologies, my lord,” He dipped his head. “I was a bit distracted. Could you repeat yourself?”
Ciel raised an eyebrow. “I said do you have any leads on the missing campers? I don’t intend to be walking around aimlessly for hours.”
Sebastian nodded. “Of course. Earlier I believe you asked if the campers were alive or dead. The answer is not one that you or Her Majesty is going to like, and that is that they all have, most regrettably, passed on.”
“What happened to them?” Ciel asked. “Was it some sort of wild beast?”
“I guess you could say that,” Sebastian said, letting a note of amusement slip into his voice.
“So what is it?” Ciel asked. “Enough playing around!”
Sebastian opened his mouth to answer but at that moment they were interrupted by another voice. It was high pitched and slightly whiney, coming closer by the second. A moment later, a second voice was answering. This one was deeper, more serious and even toned. The undergrowth rustled behind them and suddenly a loud roar exploded across the clearing.
Chapter 5: Chapter 4
The Earl and butler turned to face whatever might be coming for them, and Ciel was both surprised and annoyed when Grell burst through the bushes, chainsaw madly whirring. They didn’t notice the others right away, and stared in the opposite direction, surveying the trees in distress.
“Oh my, these trees simply go on forever!” He exclaimed, sweeping a hand dramatically to his forehead. “Why do people have to die in the most inconvenient places? I’m tired.”
He was followed a moment later by William, who as usual was much more composed, his face emotionless. His eyes narrowed a bit when they saw Sebastian. Grell caught sight of the pair as well.
“Demon,” He said evenly. “What are you doing here?”
Grell whipped around, with hearts practically exploding out of his eyes. His demeanor instantly brightened and he rushed over and threw his arms around Sebastian’s neck.
“Bassy!” Grell crowed. “Dear sweet Bassy, I never expected to find you out here! I’ve missed you so!”
Ciel watched the reaper caress Sebastian’s cheek and was a bit alarmed at the rage that flared inside him. He felt a stab of satisfaction as the demon detached himself and moved stiffly away from Grell. Before Ciel had time to reflect on what these emotions meant, and why he was having them, William spoke again.
“If you two are here, that means something nefarious is afoot,” He straightened his glasses. “In any case, we have souls to collect, so just stay out of our way.”
He began to stride across the clearing. Grell pulled out his notebook and tapped a pen against his sharp teeth.
“But Will,” He called. “We can’t find the souls! We’ve been looking everywhere!”
Ciel temporarily forgot to hate the reaper. “What do you mean?”
“Let’s go,” William said to Grell, ignoring the Earl. “I don’t want any overtime.”
“We’ve only been able to retrieve some of the souls from around here,” Grell said. “But we can’t find the rest of them. I want to go home.”
Ciel agreed. He wanted to go home too. But he had a duty to the Queen, and he wasn’t going to shirk responsibility. “Do you know what the victims have died from?”
“Extreme blood loss,” Grell said. “Not really too clear on the details, they all looked horrible though. Clothing ripped to shreds, blood all over. It was a ghastly sight.”
Sebastian looked thoughtful. Ciel guessed something was at work in the demon’s mind.
“You didn’t see anything when you came to collect the souls?” Sebastian asked. “Perhaps some clues in their cinematic record?”
“Their fear clouded over whatever it was that attacked them,” William said, walking over. “Not that that is any of your business. Come, Grell, or do you want me to report you to the board again?”
Grell picked up his scythe and followed the other reaper. He cast a last longing look at Sebastian and waved. “I hope we shall meet again soon, my dear!”
“I hope not,” Sebastian muttered.
Ciel turned to Sebastian the moment they had gone. “Alright, spit it out, I know you have to have some theory on what’s going on here.”
“Correct as always,” Sebastian said. “I do indeed have some information to offer you. However it’s not a theory, but the truth. The campers here have been killed by vampires.”
Now Ciel had heard everything. He supposed he should be more surprised, but demons were real, as well as grim reapers, and all sorts of other weird magical things, so why shouldn’t vampires be included? However, that wasn’t the answer he had been expecting.
“Are you sure?” He asked, his tone skeptical.
“Quite sure,” Sebastian said. “I first sensed it as we were walking, and it aligns with what the reapers said. They were able to only collect some of the souls because the vampires killed some of their victims.”
“And the others?”
“The others became what fed on them,” Sebastian said. “Vampires need to grow their expand their lines somehow.”
Ciel was revolted. He didn’t know what to say. This wasn’t what he’d expected at all. Nonetheless, it was his job to deal with those disturbing the peace in the Queen’s country.
“So how do we stop them?” He asked.
“You mean, how do I stop them?” Sebastian said.
Ciel chucked dryly. “This isn’t the time for fooling around. Yes, how do you stop them?”
“Not easily,” Sebastian said. “They are exactly as the stories say. They’re strong and fast and live for a long time. As long as my kind does, sometimes longer.”
“We need to end the suffering for those they’ve turned,” Ciel said. “How do we find them?”
“That might prove to be difficult as well,” Sebastian said. “I’ll see what I can do. I suggest you return to camp first though. I can travel more quickly without you, and it’ll be safer.”
Ciel opened his mouth to say that he was perfectly capable of accompanying Sebastian, but then decided he didn’t want to traipse around the forest anymore. His feet were starting to hurt in his boots and it seemed an eternity since lunch.
He nodded. “Alright, let’s go.”
Chapter 6: Chapter 5
These updates will become less frequent as it catches up to the story on Fanfiction.net. At that point the updates will occur on the regular schedule of Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday! However, I am so happy for all of you new readers who are checking out this story, loving it, and subscribing. Feel free to leave a comment, I love hear from my readers! It means the world to me. ♥
Sebastian was relieved that the Earl hadn’t fought him on returning to camp. He had been expecting more of an argument, but had guessed that fatigue and hunger had won out. In truth, they had been serious about the danger in the forest and that he wouldn’t be able to move as quickly with him in tow. He’d left the young lord at the campsite, which was surprisingly put together, and started off into the forest again, this time alone.
It was darker now than the previous trip had been. The sun was setting fast, and soon it would be night. It was a good thing they had gotten a fire going. Of course, fires could attract the very thing they were looking for. Sebastian hoped that one of the vampires wouldn’t chance upon the party while he was away. However, if the Earl called him, especially if he removed his eye patch, Sebastian could be back at a moment’s notice to protect him.
Sebastian ran along, sometimes bouncing up among the tree branches, covering twice as much distance as they had earlier. In truth, he had partially wanted to come back alone because he had wanted a moment to himself. It was a full time job, being the butler of the Queen’s Guard Dog. Though his outside was human in appearance, inside he was still a demon, and demons liked their freedom. He didn’t get much of it anymore, so he enjoyed these rare moments when he was sent on assignment alone, and could do things the way he liked.
He paused, listening. He was certain that he could hear the faint sounds nearby. He set off again, searching for any signs that he’d been right.
Sebastian followed the sound to a place where the trees thinned out. There was a half-dilapidated stone house in the clearing; it’s thatched roof sagging and full of holes. He wondered who had lived there. One thing was for sure; there was someone in there now. They smelled human, particularly of fear, and he could sense they were young as well. He hoped they might be able to give information on the vampires. Then the young master would be pleased.
Sebastian strode over to the door and pushed it open. It sagged on its hinges. The house was quite dark inside but puddles of moonlight seeped through from the holes in the roof. Not that it mattered; the demon was quite capable of seeing clearly in the dark. He made his way across the packed dirt floor, keeping his eyes peeled for the human.
He found her in the furthest corner of the house. She was filthy, her reddish hair a mess of tangles. She was covered in mud and scrapes, including a nasty looking scratch on her arm. She was clutching a frying pan, which she swung violently at him when he bent down to examine her further.
Sebastian easily dodged it and grabbed her arm. He held her, firmly but gently until she let the pan drop to the floor. She was shaking and tears of fury welled up in her enormous green eyes.
“Go on, then,” She cried. “Kill me!”
“I’m not going to kill you,” He said. “Whatever would give you that impression?”
“You’re a beast, aren’t you?” She asked. “Like them?”
No, Sebastian thought. Not like them.
He gave her what he hoped was a pleasant smile. Perhaps feigning ignorance would be the best tactic. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Don’t joke around with me,” She said, trying to yank her arm from his grip again. “You don’t belong out here. That outfit is completely out of place, you look like you should be at the palace, opening doors and fetching tea, that sort of thing.”
A muscle in Sebastian’s forehead twitched. It was irritating to have his duties reduced to such simple terms. He did a lot more for the Earl; more than he really felt was required at times. He bit his lip to keep from saying anything he might regret later.
“What’s your name?” He asked.
“Adeline,” She replied. “Adeline Crawford.”
“Adeline, that’s a pretty name for a lady,” Sebastian said. She eyed him coolly. “Miss Crawford, I have a favor to ask of you.”
“What do you want?” Her eyes narrowed. “I don’t make deals with the devil.”
Sebastian smirked. “Smart choice.” He leaned forward. “I’m going to let go of you, but you have to swear you won’t try to bludgeon me again.”
The girl’s eyes shifted to the frying pan. She looked back at him, silent for a few moments, and then she nodded. “Alright.”
Sebastian released her and she scrambled back away from him as fast as she could. She regarded him from against the crumbling wall of the house. “Why are you here?”
“I’m out here at the request of my master,” Sebastian said. “He is on orders from Her Majesty to investigate the disappearances that have been occurring in this part of the forest as of late. It’s my duty to assist him and he ordered me to look for clues.”
Adeline eyed him skeptically. Her eyes searched his face and she worked her lip between her teeth. At last, it appeared she had decided he was telling the truth.
“Well, you won’t find anything,” She said. “They’re gone.”
“Everyone?” Sebastian said. “What about your family?”
“My parents are dead,” She said. “They were killed by the beasts. My older brother as well. I imagine if you’re looking for anyone else, they’ll have met the same fate.”
“How was it you escaped?” Sebastian asked.
This was something he was curious to know. He imagined that perhaps the vampires had turned her. There was absolutely no reason for them to leave any witnesses. However, he could only sense human energy about her, there was nothing otherworldly.
“I wasn’t at camp when it happened,” She said wrapping her arms more tightly around herself. “My father sent me out to collect some berries nearby for dinner. I heard their screams but by the time I returned they were already dead.”
“Did you see what attacked them?” Sebastian pressed.
Adeline was silent for a few moments. The tears were glistening in her eyes again, but when she looked back at him her eyes were blazing.
“Vampires,” She stated. “ I know how it sounds, but I know what I saw. The marks on their necks. There was one still here when I ran up, but it didn’t see me. It carried off the body of my brother. Probably wanted something left over for his afternoon tea.” She laughed but it was bitter, barking sound. Her eyes stared at him with a mad gleam in them. “I wish I could have killed it.”
Sebastian nodded. “How long have you been out here?”
“Three days now,” She said. “Our horse was killed in the attack as well, so I’ve been having to travel on foot. This morning I found this place. I was going to set out again tomorrow.”
“If I may,” Sebastian said. “My master had plenty of food and room back at our camp. We could bring you back with us as well.”
Adeline thought this over. Sebastian hoped that she would agree, because even if the younger master didn’t appreciate uninvited guests, he was sure to have the demon’s head if he found out hospitality hadn’t been presented. And if he couldn’t offer absolute protection to a lady from a bloodthirsty vampire, what kind of butler would he be?
Chapter 7: Chapter 6
Ciel stared at the flickering flames of the fire. He felt like Sebastian had been gone for ages. At least the butler had made preparations for dinner before he’d set off again. He only hoped that there would be something to show for it.
“It’s really nice out here, it is,” Mey-Rin commented. She was looking up at the stars.
“I agree,” Finny replied. “It’s sooooo beautiful. Looks like it just goes on forever!”
Nothing goes on forever, thought Ciel. He crossed his legs the other way and gave a soft sigh of impatience.
It is a rather lovely night, agrees Keats.
Ciel looked over Snake. He seemed to be enjoying his time outside. Most of his scaly friends were still looped around various parts of him; however, he had sent a few out to patrol the perimeter of the camp just in case anyone tried to sneak up on them.
I hope Sebastian will be back soon, Ciel thought. He knew that he could call the butler to him, but what if he was interrupting something? It was best to wait it out.
His mind drifted back to the pair of reapers they had encountered earlier. It must be serious business if there were two of them. They’d said that they hadn’t been able to collect all the souls as the vampires had turned some victims. So did that mean that vampires had souls? He didn’t think so. Maybe they just floated away to a different place where it was impossible to collect them.
Ciel gave up trying to understand the specifics. They made his head throb.
The Earl was getting tired, but he refused to go to bed until Sebastian returned. There was nothing more important than getting the full details the moment he arrived. The sooner he learned what was going on he could go home and come up with a plan to stop the threat. Even though he had absolutely no clue how to do that. In any case, he hated camping and the quicker he could be done with it the better.
“I hope Mr. Sebastian will be able to find his way in the dark,” Finny said.
“He’ll be a’right,” Baldroy said, lighting a fresh cigarette between his lips. He blew a few smoke rings into the cool night air. “Sebastian’s tough as nails. He’ll be back before you know it.”
Finny continued to look worried. Ciel privately shared his fear. He was sure that Sebastian would come back, unharmed of course, but he did feel it was taking longer than it should have. He fiddled with the strings of his eye patch, unsure whether he should slip away and summon the butler. He sighed, deciding against it.
He started watching the flames again, feeling his eyelids growing heavy once more.
At that moment Sebastian appeared at the edge of the clearing. Ciel stood up, eager for the news.
“Where have you been?” He asked. “You should have been back ages ago.”
“My apologies, my lord,” The butler bowed.
“Well, did you find out any information?” Ciel demanded.
“Yes,” Sebastian nodded. “Let’s go to your tent. I’d like to discuss it with you privately.”
Ciel nodded and led the way. His tent was the biggest out of the three. He held open the flap and Sebastian followed him inside.
Once they were alone Ciel turned to his servant, fixing him with an expectant stare. “Well? What is this information?”
“We were correct about the vampires, sir,” He said. “Seems they attacked some people some distance away from where we searched earlier.”
“I see,” Ciel had hoped that wouldn’t be the answer. He had no idea how to deal with supernatural beings. Hadn’t even known they really existed until Sebastian appeared in front of him all those years ago.
“So, what’s the next plan of action?”
“I think you should stop worrying,” Sebastian said.
“What?” Ciel turned around. “It’s my duty to the Queen to—”
Sebastian closed the distance between them quickly. “I understand my lord, but my duty to be your butler, and as your butler I sense you often overwork yourself.”
“What I do isn’t any of your business,” Ciel said. “It’s your job to help me achieve it. That’s all.”
Sebastian grabbed Ciel’s face, squishing his cheeks with one gloved hand. “If you aren’t careful you’ll get sick again.”
Ciel pushed his hand away. “I’m not even close to being sick. What’s wrong with you, you’re acting strange.”
“Nothing’s wrong,” Sebastian said. “I am merely concerned about your health.”
Ciel’s brows knit in confusion. He was about to say something when Sebastian reached up and ran his fingers through Ciel’s hair. The boy startled, and took a couple steps back. “What the devil are you doing?”
Sebastian paused. He looked thoughtful, as though he wasn’t quite sure what exactly he was doing. Then he grinned. Ciel saw his fangs again and his mouth went dry.
“Sebastian, don’t—don’t bite me again,” Ciel said. Although, had there really been a first time? He ran a hand along his neck.
“Did you really dislike it that much?” Sebastian asked.
Ciel thought about that. Had he? He wasn’t really sure. He’d been very shocked before. No, he hadn’t enjoyed being bitten. Not really. However, what had happened before that...when Sebastian had kissed his neck. That. That he had not hated.
He looked back at the demon. He licked his lips nervously. “Not entirely.”
Sebastian’s eyes glowed. “What part did you like?”
Ciel swallowed. He hadn’t ever thought he’d be having some kind of discussion like this with Sebastian. “The part…before.”
“Which?” Sebastian leaned forward. “Where I did…this?”
He slipped a hand around the back of Ciel’s head and tilted it to the side, better exposing his master’s neck. Ciel gasped as he felt Sebastian moving closer. The demon’s hot breath once again warmed his skin. Then he felt Sebastian’s lips. He bit his own to keep from making noise.
“How was that?” Sebastian asked.
“Good,” Ciel said, trying to keep his own breathing steady. “Perhaps you could…do it again?”
“Certainly, my lord.”
Ciel still wasn’t entirely sure what was going on. He knew it felt good and he wanted more. He was vaguely aware of Sebastian undoing the bow at his neck. He allowed it. After all, he was getting ready for bed. There was just a little…added activity.
Ciel waited after Sebastian had undressed him to bring his nightshirt. It was slightly chilly outdoors, once again making Ciel despise camping. He would be glad to go inside the sheepskin bag Sebastian had explained was the appropriate tool for sleeping in outdoors. The Earl did not fancy sleeping on the ground all night. It was sure to be hard and uncomfortable, not to mention filthy.
Sebastian brought over the nightshirt. Then he tossed it on the floor. Ciel shot him a look and turned to get it. Suddenly he felt the butler’s arms encircle his waist. Sebastian kissed his neck again, and then moved down to his shoulder. Ciel’s eyes widened.
“Sebastian,” He whispered after a moment. “We should stop.”
“If that is what you wish, my lord,” Sebastian replied.
Ciel didn’t know what he wished. He knew what he felt and he was confused. In truth he had felt things before for the demon, for many years in fact, but never acted on them. He realized it wouldn’t do him any good. It was bad enough to get mixed up the way he was with Sebastian, regarding the contract. To add another, deeper layer to that… No, Ciel had been hurt by too many people whom he’d cared for. Sebastian was sure to ruin him in the end.
Ciel pulled away and threw the nightshirt over his head at lightning speed. Sebastian grabbed his wrist and spun the Earl to face him. Ciel’s mouth dropped open.
“I know how fond you are of them,” Sebastian said. “But, don’t you think we should stop playing games?”
The next moment Ciel found himself sitting up in bed. Only it wasn’t his bed, it was a squashy sack lined with wool. His back hurt and he was still in the same clothes he had been in all day. It was still dark. It took his eyes a moment to adjust. When they did his, blood ran cold. He wasn’t alone in the tent.
Sebastian was standing in the doorway, his ruby eyes wide.
Chapter 8: Chapter 7
Sebastian wondered if it would be prudent to pretend that he had not been standing there for longer than a few seconds. However, he was quite sure based on the expression that his master was giving him that his own shock was written all over his face.
“Young master,” He composed himself quickly. “So sorry to disturb you, but I’ve returned with information.”
Ciel was instantly alert, although his features still bore shadows of nausea and embarrassment. His eye patch had been removed by whoever had put him to bed. Obviously he must have fallen asleep somewhere. Sebastian took in the wrinkled dress shirt and vest with a bit of amusement.
“Excellent,” Ciel said. He pushed his way out of the sleeping bag. “What is it?”
“Well, we were right about the vampires,” Sebastian said. “It seems they have been attacking quite recklessly. I happened upon an abandoned house a few miles from where we stopped to look. There was a girl there, and I felt I had to bring her with me—”
“A girl?” Ciel asked his curiosity piqued.
“Yes,” Sebastian nodded. “That is partially why I was so late in returning. She’s a human and I couldn’t travel at my preferred speed, lest I give myself away.”
“Right,” Ciel said. He attempted to straighten his wrinkled clothes, which did nothing, and headed for the door of the tent. He gave Sebastian a wide berth as he exited.
Sebastian followed, unsure of what to say. It appeared that the Earl was going to pretend that what he’d witnessed hadn’t happened. In truth, he didn’t know how he should proceed.
Ciel was already striding across the clearing. The fire was still burning though not as brightly as before. The trio had gone to bed, but Snake was still awake. Sitting at the fire, eyeing him with suspicion was Adeline.
She looked up as the boy approached. She was older than the Earl by a few years. Sebastian hadn’t noticed it before but looking at the two of them now it was obvious.
“Greetings,” Ciel said, extending a hand. “I’m Ciel, Heir to the House Phantomhive. It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Lady—?”
“Crawford,” Adeline said. “Adeline Crawford.”
She looked thoughtful for a moment. “Phantomhive. I know that name. You run that toy company. And your sweets are quite good.”
Sebastian thought he saw the smallest of smiles appear on Ciel’s face. The emotion quickly vanished.
“So what happened to you?” Ciel asked.
Sebastian let his thoughts wander as Adeline regaled the young master with the same story that she had told Sebastian earlier. He had to admit, though he wasn’t particularly fond of humans, she wasn’t half bad.
Besides there were more pressing matters at hand. He’d returned to the campsite just as the servants were going to bed. Mey-Rin explained that the young master had fallen asleep near the fire and they’d put him in his tent. Knowing of course that the young master would wish to know the facts the moment he came back he’d instructed Adeline to wait near the fire. He’d gone to Ciel’s tent.
And that was when he’d heard it.
The Earl had been in the middle of another dream. He was just about to wake his master when Ciel had bolted upright, Sebastian’s name falling off his lips as his eyes shot open. Sebastian hadn’t been able to mask his surprise, even when the other regained his senses and realized Sebastian was standing there.
Sebastian didn’t know what to think. This was out of character for the young lord, who normally kept his emotions tightly bottled. He wondered if the dream from the previous night was related. If so, it would explain the odd behavior he’d had to deal with all morning.
In truth, he supposed, if his master were having a bad dream it might make sense for him to call out to Sebastian for help. He didn’t feel this was the case. Those days had been behind the Earl for years. And it was the way he’d said it. Full of want.
Sebastian shook his head. It didn’t matter. He was probably reading the situation all wrong, even though he was hardly ever wrong. His master didn’t have feelings for him. It was impossible.
The next morning they set off for the manor. Ciel decided that Adeline should accompany them back. Since her family was gone, he offered her accommodations. He normally wouldn’t have been so generous, but there was something about the girl he liked. In any case, she could be helpful in aiding them to catch the vampires. After all she was the only one who had actually seen one of them.
“Camping was so much fun, wasn’t it?” Finny was saying. “I wish we’d been able to stay longer.”
The outdoors is rejuvenating, agrees Emily.
Ciel leaned his head against the side of the carriage. He had had a horrible night’s sleep. His body ached all over and he’d been freezing. Worse, he couldn’t stop thinking. His mind replayed the dream over and over again and each time he became more confused.
Though he’d never told anyone, he’d had moments where he’d be watching Sebastian perform a particular task and find he was enjoying the way the butler’s hair fell in his eyes or his long fingers splayed as he shot a knife into the forehead of an enemy. Ciel had always dismissed them as appreciation for his butler and the form he had chosen to reside in during the duration of their contract. But what if it were something else?
Adeline was sitting across from him staring out the window. Her mouth was set in a determined line. She’d vowed to do whatever she could to help in the hunt of the vampires. She wanted revenge for her family. If anyone could understand that, it was Ciel.
Ciel’s eyes strayed to Sebastian. The demon appeared to be taking a cue from the Earl and acting as though nothing had changed. And it really hadn’t, right? He hadn’t shared any details of his dreams. No one knew his most intimate thoughts. Still. He sensed the demon guessed. Sebastian was annoyingly good at that.
They’d arrived at the manor. Ciel got out and Sebastian and Adeline followed. The servants started unpacking the carriage.
Tanaka opened the door. He seemed a bit surprised to see the girl but welcomed her warmly just the same.
“Let her wash up,” Ciel instructed Mey-Rin. “She also needs a change of clothes. Get her whatever she requires.”
“Yes, sir, right away,” Mey-Rin. She grabbed Adeline’s hand. “Come, Lady Adeline, well get you fixed up nice and proper, we will!”
Adeline was whisked away up the stairs.
“Did your journey prove fruitful?” Tanaka asked.
Ciel nodded. He turned to Sebastian. “Sebastian, help the others finish with the unpacking, then put in a call to the Yard and tell them where to find the bodies of Adeline’s parents. I’m going upstairs for a short rest.”
He climbed the stairs alone. Once he was in his room and had closed the door firmly behind him, started toward the bed. He really was tired. He crawled under the covers, hoping his sleep would be undisturbed for once.
Chapter 9: Chapter 8
Sebastian had just finished putting away the last of the camping equipment. He wiped a bit of sweat from his brow and made his way to the kitchen. It was time to start preparations for lunch. He was sure the young master would be expecting something especially delicious since they had a guest and he’d complained at breakfast that too much outdoor cooking gave the food an undesirable taste.
“Mister…Sebastian, is it?”
Sebastian turned to find out who had addressed him. It was Adeline Crawford. The dirt was gone from her face and arms. Bandages were wrapped around the left one, covering the scratches. Her hair gleamed like a new copper coin. She was wearing an emerald green dress that made her eyes glow. She looked less like a dirty orphan and more like a lady of high society.
“My lady, you look lovely,” Sebastian said.
“Thank you, sir,” She replied. She gave a brief curtsey and then glanced at the counter behind him. “Are you preparing lunch?”
“Yes,” Sebastian replied. “I thought we’d start off some soup, and, truthfully, that is as far as I’d gotten.”
“Let me help,” She said.
“No, my lady, you don’t have to,” Sebastian said, but she was already tying on an apron.
“I want to,” She said, pinning her hair up out of the way. “I want to thank the Earl, and I’m quite good at cooking.”
Sebastian soon found out she was telling the truth. Adeline explained as she moved about the kitchen, chopping, whisking and sampling things without Sebastian instructing her to, that her father had been a rather skilled outdoorsman.
“He loved camping,” She said as she sliced some apples for a tart. “We would go all the time. He taught me all about surviving in the wilderness, just in case anything happened. I never thought that thing would be vampires.”
She stopped slicing. Sebastian looked over. Her eyes were shimmering with tears. He offered his handkerchief and she accepted it, swiping at her eyes.
“Anyway, there’s nothing I can do now,” She said after a minute. “Nothing except move forward. Try to make those responsible pay for their crimes.”
Sebastian was amused to hear someone talk about making vampires “pay for their crimes” but he didn’t say so. Truthfully, he believed that Adeline was going to find a way to attempt just that. It was clear from the moment they had met that she wasn’t the wilting flower sort of girl.
“So how long have you served the Earl?” She asked.
“About three years now,” Sebastian said. It was but a second in a demon’s lifespan, but he sometimes thought about how long it was for humans. Even in mortal years it wasn’t a terribly long time. And yet, so much had happened.
“And who were you before that?”
“Someone else entirely,” Sebastian said with a slight chuckle.
Adeline made a disgruntled noise and rolled her eyes. “Fine, don’t tell me. I guess the past doesn’t really matter much, does it?”
Sebastian didn’t know how to answer. For some people, the past didn’t matter at all. They just kept moving forward. But for others, like the Earl, it meant everything to them. The past represented what had been and what had been lost. And the young master was going to claw his way toward revenge until he took his last breath. His soul was sure to be especially delicious in the end. Though, Sebastian often found himself thinking less about that these days.
“I’m afraid I don’t know what you mean,” Sebastian said.
He began to wash the dishes. He was still wearing his gloves. Adeline gave him an odd look but shrugged and picked up a towel to help dry. Sebastian found it was a nice change of pace to pass a plate to someone and not have it end up in pieces on the floor.
“I just mean who you were in the past doesn’t matter,” She said. She untied her apron and hung it back on the hook in the wall. “It’s who you’re going to be now that counts. It’s never too late to start over as someone else.”
Sebastian could have pointed out to her that who he was, and who he would always be, was a demon. He was exactly in the same vein of beast that had murdered her family. Maybe worse. She would probably seek to make him “pay for his crimes” too if she knew. And there was a long list of them, dating back centuries; things he’d done way before he’d met his current master. He was a truly vile being.
“In any case,” Adeline said. “Your lord seems to like having you around. Thank you for letting me help. I think I’ll continue to explore; I saw the most beautiful gardens from my bedroom window.”
His thoughts strayed to the young master as Adeline disappeared from the kitchen. Did the young master actually enjoy having him around? Sebastian seriously doubted it. They were bound together by the contract, nothing more. Sebastian was his pawn.
Still. He thought back to the previous night. Entering the tent and seeing the Earl like that. He’d been shocked and slightly amused, but he had felt something else. He’d felt the desire in his master’s voice mirrored inside him. The need for whatever had been happening to him before he’d snapped out of the fantasy.
Sebastian realized that he wanted that. He wanted to cause his young master pleasure, to have the boy lose control of himself. He wanted to hear his name spoken, not from the last throes of an evidently passionate reverie, but for real.
Ciel had awoken a couple hours later, feeling much more refreshed. He had been mercifully spared from Sebastian invading his sleep again. He’d come down for lunch and found it to be quite tasty. Surprised to hear that Adeline had helped with the lunch preparations; he thanked her and commented how it had been a long time since someone other than Sebastian had cooked something for him that was this delicious.
Adeline waved away his praise. “I wanted to do something to thank you. Besides, I enjoy cooking.”
Ciel glanced at Sebastian. The butler hadn’t said more than a few words to him since he’d come back downstairs. He supposed this was just as well. Still he disliked the awkwardness between them.
“So,” Ciel said, later during his bath. Once again, he tried to brush the previous events under the rug and pretend things were normal. Though he would be getting out the tub on his own this time, thank you very much. “Where are we on the investigation?”
“I have still been unable to locate any sense of the vampires,” Sebastian said. “Perhaps they have moved on, though I doubt it. Since the disappearances haven’t been a matter of public record, people don’t know to stay out of the forest.”
“Which means, their food supply won’t have dried up,” Ciel said. “At least not yet. Put in a call for advisory not to go into the forest until further notice. Say there’s been sightings of a beast or something. Perhaps we can starve them out.”
“I see you are as cruel as ever, young master,” Sebastian smirked.
“Innocent people shouldn’t fall victim to creatures of the dark if they have a choice.” Ciel stared at the bathwater. He was silent for a few moments, then rose from the bath. He waved away Sebastian’s help and wrapped a towel around himself.
“We should go see Undertaker tomorrow,” Ciel said. “See if he knows anything about all this. We’ll spend the night at the townhouse.”
“Very good, sir,” Sebastian bowed and followed the Earl to his room.
Ciel pulled his nightshirt over his head. He could feel the demon staring at him. He hopped quickly into bed and pulled the covers to his chin. He wondered if he were going to have another fitful night. He certainly hoped not. Too much disturbed sleep wasn’t good for anyone, let alone someone so young.
Sebastian drew the curtains, shutting out the moon. He took the candelabra from the nightstand. The room began to grow increasingly dark as he moved further away. At the door he paused and looked back.
“You had a choice as well.”
Ciel’s eyes widened and he sat up. “What?”
Sebastian ignored the question. “Even now, you have choices.”
Then he left the room without another word, closing the door behind him. The room was plunged into almost total darkness. Ciel could see just a thin ribbon of light coming from beneath the door.
His heart was hammering in his chest. He understood the first part. He’d been referencing the conversation earlier in the bath, about falling victim to darkness. That he also had had the choice to not slip over to that side. It was true; he could have rejected the demon’s offer. He could have died right there in that terrible place with all the rest.
It was the second part that gave him pause. What had Sebastian meant by that? That he still had choices. What choices? He had a feeling that perhaps he didn’t want to know. Any choices the demon could offer him were sure to have strings attached. Unless…
No. He wasn’t even going to consider the possibility. He turned over on his other side, punching the pillow to fluff it even though Sebastian had already made it perfectly fluffed. Sebastian did everything perfectly. It was so irritating. What was even worse is that he could eventually see these feelings becoming a problem and affecting the way he operated. In fact, it was already starting.
Chapter 10: Chapter 9
Sebastian paused outside the door, rather satisfied with himself. He was sure that he had sufficiently ruffled the Earl, which could further push his plan into action. He could have rushed back in there and done some version of whatever it was he imagined the other was dreaming about, but he didn’t. Better to let the young master come to terms with his desires.
The demon had to admit he was only half-surprised. He knew that physically he was quite the handsome specimen and he’d often found those in desperation would be more likely to make a contract with someone attractive. Countless women and men had fallen to his charms over his lifetime; he always crafted some sort of appealing form for dealings in the human realm. This one though, was one of his finest works.
He made his way down the hall. His job was never done if he wanted the manor to run as smoothly as possible. Which since he didn’t need sleep wasn’t an especially difficult task. Besides, he very much doubted even if he could sleep he’d have been able to. His normally calm, focused mind felt jumbled.
Sebastian understood the physical attraction, but what he couldn’t fathom was anything outside of that. The Earl knew exactly what he was and there was nothing that any sane person would willingly get mixed up in. Demons were creatures of lust and deception. His master couldn’t possibly imagine anything good could happen out of…
He found himself outside without really knowing what had led him there. The moon was a bright orb in the sky. He set off across the darkened grounds, figuring he might as well secure the perimeter.
Sebastian wasn’t used to having thoughts of this sort. Usually if he wanted something he just took it with no regards to the consequences, because for him, there typically weren’t any.
He glanced back up at the manor, his eyes finding the window to the Earl’s room, and considered acting on his thoughts for a moment. He could feel the roughness of the stone through his gloves as he placed his hands against the side of the mansion. To satisfy the need that was growing in him. It would be so easy. Why, he could just scale the wall right now, blast apart the glass, and tangle himself in the sheets if he wanted. And he did want, he realized as hunger slithered in his belly. It was different than the craving for the young master’s soul; this had almost eclipsed that entirely.
It took all of his resistance to move away from the manor and concentrate on what he had been doing before. This was always something that fascinated him about the young Earl. He was a human, but Sebastian had come to find he felt differently about him over the years. Never before had he found himself so willing to be seduced by someone as easily as he seduced others. It was quite maddening.
The ride to Undertaker’s had never taken so long, Ciel thought as the carriage bumped along the road. Normally he didn’t mind the trip but he wanted to get out of being in such close quarters with Sebastian. The one saving grace was he had decided to bring Adeline with him, so that she could describe the creatures she had seen.
Despite Sebastian’s rather unsettling words by way of “good night”, Ciel had actually had a decent night’s sleep. He’d awoken on his own, earlier than normal, and lain in bed, wishing he were more adept at dressing himself. Eventually Sebastian came in and he assisted with the same grace he did every morning. Ciel had opened his mouth more than once to ask what the hell all the cryptic business had been the night before, but he always decided against it.
“My family used to come to London often,” Adeline commented as they reached the edge of the city. “I’ve always loved it.”
Ciel nodded. “It’s home.”
“So, who exactly is this Undertaker fellow, anyway?” Adeline asked.
“He’s a bit of a difficult individual to describe,” Sebastian cut in before Ciel could answer. “Best to experience him for yourself. We’ve arrived.”
They had indeed. Ciel found himself staring up at the dingy moniker above the shop as he had many times before. Sebastian held the door open for the two of them and followed the pair inside.
Adeline gasped audibly when her eyes adjusted to the dimly lit room. Ciel had to admit that it always made him uncomfortable as well. Except, the girl didn’t look uncomfortable. She looked a bit…fascinated.
“These coffins are very well made,” She said, bending to examine the plushy pinkish lining in a sleek black box to their left. “He’s quite good at his work whomever he is.”
“Thank you, dearie,” Undertaker’s gravelly voice replied as he appeared from behind his desk. “That’s kind of you to say. I do try to make things the most comfortable for my guests.”
“Guests?” Adeline asked.
“He means the deceased,” Sebastian supplied.
“Right you are,” Undertaker grinned at Adeline. “I hope I don’t have to see your pretty little face in one any time soon.”
She gave a thin smile. “We’re in agreement there. Though, we don’t really have control over when we die, do we?”
“Not entirely, it’s true,” Undertaker nodded. “However, there are ways to make sure you aren’t unnecessarily reckless.”
Ciel felt the Undertaker’s eyes shift to him. Even though he couldn’t see them below the top hat, he knew he was being stared at. Ciel often suspected that Undertaker knew what Sebastian was, and possibly about the contract.
“In any case, that isn’t why we’re here,” The Earl stepped forward. “We need some help in an investigation.”
“Well, you may have come to the right place,” Undertaker said. “I’ll do my best to help you. If you can pay the fee, of course.”
Sebastian stepped forward. “Young master, if you’ll escort the lady out, I shall offer the appropriate payment.”
Ciel took Adeline’s arm. “Let’s go.”
“What’s he doing in there?” Adeline asked as they waited outside. “I have seen money exchange hands.”
“He doesn’t want money,” Ciel said. “He enjoys jokes, and sometimes they aren’t always the kind that a lady should hear.”
Adeline was about to answer when raucous laughter sounded from inside. Ciel motioned for her to follow him. They reentered the shop. Undertaker was wiping tears of mirth from his eyes.
“As usual, your butler doesn’t disappoint,” Undertaker, said. “Now, how can I be of service to you?”
“We’re investigating some disappearances,” Ciel said. “Some campers went missing in the woods and—”
“Vampires!” Adeline exclaimed. “Vampires killed my family, and probably these others who are missing. I know it sounds nonsensical, but, it’s true.”
Undertaker drummed his long black nails on the desk. “Vampires. There’s one I haven’t heard in a while.” He leaned forward. “Are you certain?”
Clearly, Adeline had been expecting to be disbelieved. She nodded. “Yes. I saw one of them.”
“Have you encountered such beings before?” Ciel asked sounding surprised as well. He supposed anything was possible. Those who dealt with death were sure to witness some unsavory things.
“Not for many years,” Undertaker replied. “And I am surprised they are attacking with such abandon. Usually their kind is a little more graceful.”
“The one who took my brother was quite beautiful,” Adeline admitted. “Beautiful and terrifying. She had long blonde hair and her skin was pale like milk. She wore a black dress and she carried him away as though he weighed nothing. I could tell he was dead by the way he flopped in her arms. I wanted to call out was paralyzed with fright.”
“We want to stop them,” Ciel said. “Do you know of a way?”
Undertaker was silent for a few long moments. Then he grinned. “You must draw them to you somehow.”
Ciel frowned. He didn’t want to draw any more supernatural beings anywhere near him. However, that would be the only way to ensure they were dealt with.
“How do I do that?”
“Simply have something they’ll find irresistible,” Undertaker said. He gave a loud sigh. “This has been a splendid time, but I should get back to work. Don’t hesitate to call again.”
Ciel left the shop feeling as though he had accomplished nothing. He had no idea how to draw vampires to him and he really didn’t want to. He climbed into the carriage, mind whirring. Perhaps Sebastian might have some ideas.
He stared at the butler as the carriage began to move. He thought about what Adeline had said about the vampire that took her brother. His eyes traced along the demon’s face, sharp angles and soft planes; hair like ink and those burning eyes. He realized that Sebastian was exactly like the vampire: beautiful and terrifying.
Chapter 11: Chapter 10
A couple of weeks passed, July slipped into August, and they seemed to be no closer to apprehending the vampires. His sleep had returned back to normal for the most part; visions of Sebastian only punctured his dreams every two or three days. Ciel tired to keep himself busy with other tasks during the day; there were always things that needed tending to; his lessons, the Funtom Company, spending time with Elizabeth. Anything to keep his mind focused on something.
Sebastian had just brought him his tea while he looked over the mail, when he came across another letter.
“Seems we’ve been invited to a ball,” Ciel replied. “The Viscount Druitt is hosting one for a Sir Beaumont. I don’t know him.”
“The name isn’t familiar to me either,” Sebastian said. “However, your social calendar has been lacking quite a bit the past month. It would be wise of you to attend.”
“I don’t care if people think I’m social or not,” Ciel said. “I have more important matters to attend to then another stupid party.”
More bodies had been found in the forest the previous week; fortunately they matched some of the missing person’s reports, so at least there were no new victims. There still was not an exact count on how many might still be missing since not everyone may have been reported. Elizabeth had come to visit him that day so he ordered Sebastian to sneak in and take a look at the bodies, since he couldn’t go himself. The butler reported back that they matched the condition of Adeline’s parents; throats torn up, majority of blood drained.
“I’m sure it’d mean a great deal to lady Elizabeth,” Sebastian said. “And perhaps it could give a lead on the investigation. After all, the Viscount does consort with some rather unsavory characters.”
“But vampires?” Ciel said. “That seems a bit of a stretch, even for him.”
“Perhaps he doesn’t know what they are,” Sebastian said. “After all, us creatures of darkness are rather skilled at posing as humans.”
Ciel had to admit the butler had a point, but that didn’t make him anymore excited about the party. Elizabeth of course was overjoyed when he told her he was going; she and her maid Clara were going to be in attendance as well.
“We have to decide on a color so we can coordinate our outfits!” She squealed. “Oh Ciel, we’ll be so cute!”
Ciel didn’t think that cute was going to be the right word. Lizzie might be cute. He himself would never be anything of the sort to anyone but her. However, he agreed to her wishes, reminding himself that Lizzie was his fiancée. She was the one he was going to end up together with. All of these ridiculous thoughts of Sebastian weren’t real. He told himself this, but he knew it was a lie.
Ciel had invited Adeline to stay at the manor until the vampire business could be put to rest. He’d been a little apprehensive of having her there, especially once Lizzie dropped by unexpectedly, but the two became fast friends. Adeline had always wanted a little sister, and despite her atypical outdoors skills, she enjoyed many traditionally girlish pastimes as well. She was particularly good at dancing, which came in handy for Ciel, who still moved as though he were being electrocuted every time he did the waltz.
“I hope you have a lovely time at the party tonight,” She said the morning of the ball.
“Actually, we were hoping that you might accompany us, Lady Adeline,” Sebastian said. When she looked surprised, he explained. “The young master suspects it’s possible that the vampires might attend the party, or at the very least someone who does business with them might. We are going to be conducting an investigation, and as you’ve proved yourself valuable thus far…”
Adeline glanced at the Earl. He nodded.
She smiled. “It would be an honor.”
The three of them took the carriage to the Viscount’s manor. The last time Ciel had been there he’d been dressed most differently. But tonight he was conducting an investigation as himself. He hoped Adeline would not fall prey to the Viscount. She was staring out the carriage window, her eyes shining in excitement. He was glad he’d had Nina commission a dress for her as well.
“Sebastian, make sure to keep an eye on her tonight,” Ciel said.
“Of course, my lord.” Sebastian replied.
They were welcomed through the front doors. Ciel searched for some familiar face; he didn’t want to keep gawking at the entrance.
“Well if it isn’t the Earl Phantomhive,” said a voice to his right.
He turned and was not surprised to see Lau, one arm draped around the thin waist of Ran-Mao. She eyed them coolly, but didn’t speak.
“Of course you’d be here,” Ciel said.
“Naturally,” Lau replied. “I’d never turn down a party invitation.” He caught sight of Adeline. “And who might this lovely one be?”
“Someone you can keep your hands off of,” Ciel said. “Excuse him, he forgets his manners. My Lady, this is Lau, and his assistant Ran-Mao.”
“Miss Adeline Crawford,” She smiled. “It’s a pleasure to meet you both.”
Ciel spotted Lizzie near the dance floor. He didn’t want to linger any longer; especially not with the way that Lau was eyeing Adeline. “Please excuse us.”
“Ciel!” Lizzie exclaimed the moment she caught sight of the group. “Oh, you’re simply adorable! It’s exactly as I envisioned it!”
“You look lovely, Elizabeth,” Ciel said. He offered her a hand. “Would you like to dance?”
“Would I!” She grabbed his hand and dragged him onto the dance floor. “Oh, Ciel, I’m so happy you came. I know you don’t like parties, but I’m so happy to see you!”
“Sebastian thought it was time I turned up at a social gathering,” Ciel said. “Work has been keeping me quite busy the last couple of months.”
Lizzie smiled. “And you brought Lady Adeline as well. She’s so lovely. I hope to be just like her when I’m older.”
Ciel grimaced. The thought of Lizzie being a skilled outdoorswoman frightened him a little. But he gave her the smallest of smiles and said nothing. At the root of it, Lizzie being like Adeline wouldn’t be terrible at all.
The dance finally ended. For once in his life, Ciel didn’t feel he’d performed abysmally. He excused himself from Elizabeth and went to go find Sebastian.
“Have you found anything?” He asked. The demon was standing near the wall.
“Regrettably not,” Sebastian said. “The only piece of gossip that seems to be going around is in regards to who this Sir Beaumont is. It doesn’t seem as though anyone had heard anything particular about him, but of course, humans are curious creatures and do look for any excuse to attend a party. Present company excluded of course.”
He smirked and Ciel glared at him. “Quiet you.”
He was going to say more, when suddenly the hall fell silent. All the guests looked up toward the winding staircase. Aleistor Chamber, the Viscount Druitt was waving for attention.
“Ladies and gentleman,” He said, flourishing his hands. “I have called you all here tonight to give a warm welcome to one of the brightest and most talented minds of the age. Sir Beaumont has traveled a great distance with his family to grace our humble city with his charms. He’s going to be propelling us to the stars with his genius on the stage. Join me in welcoming Sir Silas Beaumont, his lovely wife Carmilla, and their daughter Marina.”
Sir Beaumont appeared next to the Viscount. He was very handsome with a smooth angular face, dark hair and eyes. He was wearing an impeccably tailored suit. His arm was around the shoulders of an equally beautiful blonde woman in a blue dress, and next to them in a violet gown was whom Ciel presumed to be the daughter, Marina, arm and arm with a young man.
Sebastian stiffened next to Ciel and there was a soft cry nearby. Ciel turned to look. Adeline was standing there, her face drained of color. He followed her eyes to the group on the landing.
“Are you alright?” He asked. He knew this was a redundant question as Adeline looked as though she had seen a ghost. “Do you know them?”
Adeline shook her head. She looked about to faint. “Not all of them, but the girl, I saw her in the forest. And that boy…he’s my brother.”
Sebastian knew how desperately the young lord would want him to take down the vampires. However, given that they were in the midst of a party, there was no way to do so without everyone seeing them. He could sense his master’s frustration.
He’d sensed what the family was the moment they had emerged. The scent of blood was strong on all of them, masked beneath a heavy layer of perfumes that would fool human noses. Sebastian wondered if they could sense him as well. All the better, he decided, perhaps they would keep themselves in check.
“Sebastian, what are we going to do?” Ciel muttered to the butler. He slipped into French so that they wouldn’t be overheard. “Those vampires have to be stopped.”
“I know, my lord,” Sebastian said. “However, I can’t attack them without being spotted and sending this entire event into chaos.”
“Well, we can’t just do nothing,” Ciel said. “They’ve killed people. Adeline’s family and who knows how many others.”
“Private record places the still missing persons count at about twenty-five, not counting those three that were discovered a few days ago,” Sebastian said. “I took the liberty of checking out the updated files before this evening’s events in light of the recent discovery. Of course the coroner’s version of cause of death didn’t include vampires.”
Ciel was surprised. Sebastian didn’t blame him. “I admit I was a little shocked as well. Even for three vampires, this is an unusually high number compared to the amount of time they appear to have been residing here. My guess is there are more.”
“Don’t shout, young master,” Sebastian said. “You’ll draw attention to yourself.”
In truth, he understood the Earl’s concern. This was a perfect environment for vampires to wreck some real havoc. Of course, if that were the case he would have no choice to step in. However, until the danger became tangible he had to wait until a more appropriate time to act.
“Lady Adeline,” Ciel said, turning his attention back to the girl who was about to sink to the floor. He guided her to a chair. He motioned to a nearby waiter. “Get us some water over here!”
“I can’t believe—Edmund—he’s alive,” Adeline whispered.
“No, my lady, he’s not,” Sebastian said. “I’m afraid they’ve turned him.”
Chapter 12: Chapter 11
“What did you have to go and say that for?” Ciel demanded, slamming his hands on his desk in the study. They were back at the townhouse, to the joy of Prince Soma and Agni, having left the party rather quickly. He hoped no one of importance had noticed the abrupt exit. The Earl was furious. “You had to have known how she would react.”
“I had an idea,” Sebastian said. “The fainting was a bit unexpected.”
“You couldn’t have just kept that part to yourself until we got home?” Ciel’s single blue eye was blazing.
“Do you know what might have happened if I had?” Sebastian asked. “She would have rushed over to see her dearly departed brother and no doubt have met the same fate. Or she’d have accused that family in front of everyone of being something that sensible people do not believe to exist outside the world of fiction and made a fool of herself.”
Ciel sat down in the chair behind the desk. In a way he knew that Sebastian was right, but that didn’t make him any less angry. Though, what was it he was really angry about?
“Well now Elizabeth has insisted in staying in the townhouse for the night as well,” Ciel said. “I didn’t want another unexpected guest.”
“I can send her away if you wish,” Sebastian said.
“No, it’s done,” Ciel, said. “She said she was going to bed once she was sure Adeline was alright.”
“You’re angry at me, my lord,” Sebastian said. “But I sense there is something else on your mind.”
Ciel frowned. He was angry with Sebastian for his tactless way of dealing with the news of Adeline’s brother. But he was angrier with himself. Things had been going so well the past two weeks; they’d almost been normal. But he was not normal. And if he admitted it to himself the best parts of his life now only came about when he slept. That every time he let his mind wander, it went to the same place.
He took a deep breath. “Sebastian, something strange has been going on.”
The butler quirked an eyebrow. “Is that so? You mean, stranger than usual?”
Ciel nodded. “I find it difficult to explain. Mostly because I don’t fully understand what is going on myself. I seem to be plagued by these dreams.”
“What sort of dreams?” Sebastian pressed. Ciel thought he could see the ghost of a smile on the demon’s face and it unsettled him.
“The kind that one doesn’t talk about in civilized conversations,” Ciel said. “The kind Madame Red knew something about.”
Thinking about his aunt was a bit painful, but it was the best example he could give without going into detail. It was bad enough to be spilling this all to Sebastian but he was tired of hiding it. The task had become exhausting.
“I see,” Sebastian said. “Am I correct in assuming you had one of these episodes while we were camping?”
“I thought it wise at the time not to mention it,” Sebastian said. “Since you so appeared so adamant against whatever had happened. However, I have long been curious about that as well. What happened in the dream?”
Ciel’s mouth ran dry. He didn’t want to tell Sebastian that. He couldn’t believe he was even having this conversation at all. His stomach was in knots and he could feel his face burning with shame at each word.
“I’m—I’m confused,” Ciel said. “I feel things I shouldn’t feel. The dream…you were there.”
“Was I?” Sebastian asked. “Well, that’s not very exciting at all. Having a dream about your butler pouring tea or—”
“You weren’t pouring tea,” Ciel whispered. “We were doing things—things I don’t entirely understand.”
Sebastian leaned closer. “That’s quite interesting. How did you feel about these things?”
Ciel shifted in the chair. He couldn’t lie, though he very much wanted to. He cast a glance around the room, trying to avoid looking at Sebastian but his eyes were always drawn back to the figure in front of him.
“It was strange,” He admitted. “But…I found I rather enjoyed it.”
“You continue to fascinate me more and more,” Sebastian said. “So, what was your objective in finally revealing this to me? Is that what you desire?”
Ciel’s stomach lurched. Did he want it? He supposed in a way he did. He was tired of nights filled with broken sleep and days spent with awkward moments with his butler. Perhaps all he needed was to engage in the activities of the dream. Then he could put the whole mess behind him.
“And if I refused?” Sebastian asked.
“I could order you,” Ciel said. “Then you’d have to, per our contract.”
Sebastian smiled. “This is true, but is that what you would wish? To have things be that way only because you forced me?”
No. Ciel didn’t want that. But he wasn’t about to be manipulated like this. He felt like a mouse and Sebastian was one of those damn cats he loved so much; he had him by the tail, dangling above sharp jaws of certain death.
“No.” He answered finally. “I don’t want it that way.”
“Then which is it?”
“I want to give it a try,” Ciel said. “Us…being together.”
Sebastian nodded. “If that is what you wish, my lord.”
He then turned and left the study, leaving Ciel feeling even more confused than before. The Earl retired to his room, tearing off his clothes and slipping into the nightshirt; not even concerned with a bath. He crawled beneath the covers reflecting that this was one of the strangest evenings he had ever had. It was a moonless night, which he was thankful for, since he hadn’t drawn the curtains before settling under the covers. It was very unlike Sebastian to abandon his nightly duties.
But, Ciel reflected as he felt an unexpected wave of fatigue wash over him, neither of them was acting very like their normal selves.
Chapter 13: Chapter 12
Sunlight filtered through the room. Ciel’s eyes slid open, blinking in the sudden brightness.
“Good morning, young master,” Sebastian said. “Today’s breakfast selections include creamed smoked salmon in puff pastry, toast and scones with assorted jellies, and fresh fruit and I’ve also prepared some Earl Grey tea.”
“Come here,” Ciel said.
Sebastian looked confused, but obliged. “What is it, young master?”
Ciel’s hand shot out and gripped the butler’s tie, pulling him toward him. Sebastian was caught a bit by surprise, but he put his hands on the bed to steady himself. He stared at the Earl, his gaze questioning.
Ciel had awakened earlier that morning, before Sebastian had come to wake him. He had lain in the semi-darkness, as the sunrise was barely peeking through the clouds, thinking everything over. He had decided that even though he did want to try this…whatever it was, with Sebastian, that he needed to maintain his authority. He was the master of the contract until he’d had his revenge, and for weeks, especially the previous night, he had felt that control slipping. It was time to reestablish it.
”What we discussed last night,” He said. “Let’s begin now.”
“Young master, I never imagined you would be so eager to start right away,” Sebastian replied, but he settled himself on the edge of the bed, looking expectantly at the Earl.
Ciel squared himself up. He had absolutely no idea what he was doing, but it didn’t matter. It was all about perception after all. He’d done a splendid job of becoming an Earl, though he hadn’t always had all the proper training. This was much the same. He had limited resources to draw on for what he was supposed to do next, but he imagined a good place to start would be to act in a similar fashion to the Sebastian in his dreams.
He stripped the tailcoat off first, which was easiest. Sebastian made a comment about how long it would take to perfectly starch the garment again, but Ciel cut him off, making short work of the tie and the vest before beginning to slowly unbutton the white dress shirt. He took off the gloves, staring at Sebastian’s nails, reminding himself what he was getting into, and then realizing he didn’t care.
The Earl pulled the shirt off of first one shoulder and then the other, taking his time. Sebastian’s skin was incredibly pale and smooth, like marble. Ciel reached out and ran a hand over the demon’s chest. Sebastian was warm, but not as warm as he’d expected. He moved closer, and then wrapped an arm around Sebastian’s neck. Ciel hesitated for just a moment before he pressed his lips against the skin there.
Now that he’d touched down he wasn’t exactly sure what to do next. So he kissed the same spot for quite a long time before remembering that dream-Sebastian had moved to different areas. He progressed along to the shoulder, then in a moment of insanity he bit down. The pressure of his teeth was not especially hard, but it elicited a hiss from Sebastian that didn’t sound too unwelcome.
Ciel drew back slightly, unsure, but the demon grinned at him. He drove the young Earl back on the bed and pushed up his nightshirt almost all the way off. Ciel could feel the chill of the air on his skin, but he also felt electrified, the way he had in the dreams.
Sebastian took a turn at nibbling at the Earl’s neck, before he moved on. He attempted to capture the young master’s lips with a kiss, but Ciel was hesitant about that and turned his head away. Sebastian didn’t miss a beat and began to lick a trail down the other’s chest. Ciel’s back arched involuntarily as the demon’s tongue dipped into his navel. He paused for a moment to think about how odd this was, before realizing the other had continued on. Surely he wasn’t going to…
“Sebastian,” Ciel gasped. “We should stop.”
The demon’s head snapped up. He looked utterly confused. “But, my lord, we were just coming up to the best part.”
Ciel wasn’t sure what he had meant by that, but he didn’t think he was quite ready to find out. He pulled the nightshirt down again, feeling a furious blush creep onto his cheeks. “No, that’s enough for now.”
Sebastian dipped his head. “As you wish.”
At that moment the bedroom door banged open. Ciel found himself thrust back onto the bed as Sebastian shot off of it like a cork from a bottle of champagne. The Earl hurriedly pulled the covers over his legs and fumbled for his eye patch. He glanced over to find Sebastian fully dressed and pulling on his left glove.
Prince Soma burst into the room and launched himself on the bed. Agni followed behind his charge, shaking his head in amusement.
“Ciel!” Soma exclaimed. “I am so glad to hear you will be staying here with us for a little longer. I’ve missed you!”
Ciel, normally annoyed by the prince’s antics, was grateful for the distraction. He could still feel the sticky trail of saliva down his middle under the nightshirt. His eyes found Sebastian’s as the demon left the room, and he felt an unfamiliar but pleasant warmth pool in his belly as the thought of what they had just done.
Sebastian had to admit even he had been a little shocked at the Earl’s reaction that morning. Much as it appeared that his master was interested in dabbling in whatever his subconscious mind wanted, he’d not expected him to dive into it so quickly. Not that Sebastian was complaining.
As he readied the breakfast, he reflected that it had been quite some time since he’d engaged in such activities and actually felt something more than lust. He felt, as he suspected the young master did, certain electricity. He had hoped to continue on that morning, but he was sure if he pushed the young master he’d probably call off the whole thing completely. And in a way he guessed it had worked out. A few more moments of intimacy and Prince Soma would have gotten an eyeful.
He brought the breakfast to the dining room where his master waited at the head of the table, Prince Soma sitting to the left of him and Elizabeth to the right. The demon watched his master carefully, wanting to see if he could sense anything different. It had occurred to him after he’d left that he should have dressed the Earl. He’d found Tanaka in the hall and asked the steward if he wouldn’t mind attending to it as he had run a bit behind on the morning meal preparations. Tanaka had of course obliged.
“Your tea, sir,” Sebastian said, pouring some of Ciel’s favorite Earl Grey and setting the cup before him.
Ciel stirred in some sugar and took a sip. He seemed satisfied.
“How was the party last night?” Soma asked. “It sounded like a great time.”
“No different than all the rest,” Ciel replied.
Except the guests of honor were vampires, Sebastian thought. That was different.
“It was lovely,” Elizabeth smiled. “I felt so bad for poor Lady Adeline though. She fainted and she didn’t seem very well either this morning when Clara and I went to check on her. I do hope she’ll be alright.”
“I’m sure she’ll recover,” Ciel said. “Don’t worry, we’ll take good care of her.”
“I know you will,” Elizabeth turned to him, her eyes shining. “Isn’t it exciting? Having that actor and his family visiting London? I do hope I’ll get to see him perform.”
“Indeed,” Ciel said, though his tone conveyed he didn’t think it was exciting at all.
“I say, Sebastian what happened to your neck?”
The question snapped Sebastian from his thoughts. He turned to look in the mirror in the wall. He pulled down the collar of his shirt slightly, revealing a purple bruise. But Sebastian knew it wasn’t a bruise. His eyes immediately sought the Earl’s. Ciel busied himself with slathering jelly on a scone, a slight pink tinge coloring his cheeks.
“That looks painful,” Agni said as he leaned in for a closer look. “Did someone attack you?”
“I assure you I’m perfectly fine,” Sebastian waved him away. “It doesn’t hurt a bit.”
He remembered the Earl had taken quite a bit of time on that particular area at the start of their rendezvous that morning. He felt a small smile find his lips. His young master hadn’t meant to mark him in such a way he was sure, but he intended to return the favor. Though he could have vanished the mark in an instant, he would choose to leave it. However perhaps he would cover it up to avoid any more comments.
“She wants us to kill her brother?” Ciel asked, trying to keep the note of surprise out of his voice.
“No,” Sebastian said. “She doesn’t want it, but she insists it must be done.”
They were in the study of the townhouse. Everything was rather quiet for once. Elizabeth and Clara had gone home shortly after breakfast and he’d asked the servants to go into town to buy some supplies. He had a feeling they were going to be staying here a while longer as they figured out how to get close to the vampires. Prince Soma and Agni had gone to distribute some curry buns to the poor. Now it was just past lunch and he’d run out of things to keep him occupied. Adeline had stayed in her room for most of the day, so Ciel had ordered Sebastian to check on her. Now he’d returned with interesting news.
“That’s surprising,” Ciel remarked. “To just make it cut and dry like that.”
“I thought so as well, sir,” Sebastian said. “However, it seems when she was younger, a neighbor had a book on the supernatural. Naturally being curious, she read through the whole thing several times and it said there’s no cure.”
“Is she right?” Ciel asked.
“Yes, my lord,” Sebastian said. “There’s no reversal of any sort.”
“I see,” Ciel said.
“I was surprised as well,” Sebastian said. “I thought she’d try to see if it could be undone or at the very least managed. I think she believed her brother was already dead.”
“And then she had to see him in a fate worse than that,” Ciel finished. “It’s enough to drive anyone mad. I should see her later.”
The Earl sighed and stared at the papers strewn across the desk until they blurred. He had no idea what to do next. This had turned into a rather impossible case. When he’d first come back from camping, he’d felt he’d a better handle on the situation. The vampires, even though they were a mystery to him, were at least attacking in the forest. They had turned a lot of their victims or they’d been very good at hiding the bodies; thanks to Sebastian’s call to the Yard, only those of Adeline’s mother and father had been recovered. That left twenty-three…well twenty-two now that her brother had reappeared that were still unaccounted for. And now these bloodsuckers were in the city…
Ciel wished he could go back to that morning. It had been a nice change of pace. He still wasn’t especially familiar with everything that had been going on but he had found it pleasant. His eyes strayed to the butler at the edge of the desk.
“Yes, my lord?”
“Earlier this morning,” Ciel started. “When we were…”
“Go on,” The demon prompted.
Ciel always found that words failed him when he tried to talk about anything remotely intimate. He assumed it was because it was all so new to him, and he was sure Sebastian’s experience in the matter was quite vast. He supposed though that the butler was the only one he could talk about such things with and really, he hadn’t been all that shy when he’d made the proposal, had he?
“You ran your tongue down my chest and kept on. I thought you were going to—”
Ciel’s mind wavered between curiosity and disgust. “People do that?”
Sebastian nodded. “Both men and women find it quite enjoyable.”
“Do you?” Ciel asked.
“Yes, as a matter of fact,” Sebastian said. He smirked at Ciel’s expression. “Really young master, your naiveté on these matters is a bit amusing.”
Ciel didn’t know what to say. He didn’t think it was amusing at all. He tried to think back to the conversation before that, but he didn’t want to deal with missing persons and dead bodies and vampires. He thought about Adeline down the hall with her late parents and a brother kept alive by his newfound thirst for blood. He thought about the Beaumont family who had just relocated into the equivalent of a buffet table at a social. It was too much.
“Sebastian,” He said. “I want to forget everything for a bit.”
Ciel registered the surprise on his butler’s face. He knew the statement didn’t really make sense, but that was how he felt. “What did you have in mind, my lord?”
Sometimes Sebastian didn’t really understand what was going on in his young master’s mind. This was one of those times. He knew the Earl was under a great deal of stress regarding the case, especially since the culprit now appeared to be a member of high society. He was sure that he could have taken care of the issue in his own demonic way, but then the young master would be angry. Although at the moment, Ciel wasn’t doing anything except drifting in and out of consciousness.
They had ended up back in the Earl’s bed again, which Sebastian had hoped would happen quite soon. There had been more of that awkward but still passionate kissing, though his master still refused to let the demon anywhere near his face. Perhaps he thought Sebastian would suck his soul out right there, and while that was tempting (as it was developing an even more enticing scent during these moments) he resisted. No sense in breaking a contract that was beginning to have a new added layer of entertainment.
Ciel was still not skilled at any of it. Sebastian had definitely had better, but he found that despite the inexperience, he was being satisfied in an entirely different way.
After the kissing had worn a bit thin for Sebastian, he’d decided to test the Earl’s willingness to move forward. Ciel hesitated for a moment, and then nodded, his expression curious. Sebastian had undone his master’s pants and stroked around inside. Ciel hadn’t lasted long, but he’d been stunning; the way his blue hair fell into his eyes and the small, needy sounds that were so unlike him.
Shortly after that, the Earl had become tired. He’d fallen asleep on Sebastian’s chest and the demon could feel his breath puff out against his skin; the small heart beating slowly and rhythmically at his side. He stared around the room as he waited for his master to wake up. “Pillow” was not something that he had ever imagined he’d be used for. Yet he didn’t dislike it.
He was concerned, however, that they might be discovered. While the demon had no issue with this, he knew what was at stake for his master. Reputation was everything to English nobles. If word got out, he was sure Ciel’s days of being the Queen’s Guard Dog would be numbered. And being stripped of that title might be the least of his problems.
Sebastian checked his pocket watch. It read five-thirty. He was way past the time he should have begun the dinner preparations and the servants would surely be returning soon from their shopping trip. He shifted slightly, hoping to slide out from under the young master without disturbing him. Maybe he had moved too fast.
He managed to lift Ciel’s head slightly and slither away without waking him, tucking the blankets around his small body. Sebastian observed the boy for a moment. Sleep was one of the only times that his master truly looked his age; young and vulnerable, but also this time, the demon was pleased to note, peaceful.
The butler dressed and left the room, moving swiftly toward the kitchen. He passed Adeline’s room on the way and wondered if she were going to come down for dinner. He knocked on the door but there was no answer. Once he concentrated, he realized he couldn’t sense her either.
“Lady Adeline,” He opened the door a crack and poked his head inside. “Please pardon the intrusion, I wanted to know if you’ll be joining—“
He stopped short as he realized that the room was empty; the bed was neatly made and shadows of the furniture grew longer as the sun went down through the gap in the curtains. It was as though she had never been there at all.
A/N:Alright lovelies! Now that this part is uploaded I have caught up with where it is on my other site. Therefore, my normal scheduling of Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday will commence. I am happy to see that so many people have been interested in it on here as well. Thank you for your kudos! As always comments are appreciated. ♥
Chapter 15: Chapter 14
"Gone!" Ciel shouted. "What do you mean gone?"
"I mean, she's vacated the room we've provided for her," Sebastian said. "I don't know what other way there is to put it, but—"
"I know what "gone" means," Ciel rolled his eyes. "I just can't believe she left without saying anything."
The Earl scrambled out of bed. He couldn't believe that Sebastian had let him sleep for so long. He couldn't believe he had fallen asleep, and frankly wasn't sure if he should be embarrassed about that or not. He hadn't expected to feel how he had though, which had been odd but also felt like exactly what he needed. He wanted more, but there were more pressing matters to attend to at the moment. Namely, his missing houseguest.
"To be fair, my lord, she wasn't a prisoner here," Sebastian, pointed out. "She was under absolutely no obligation to stay."
The Earl knew this, but it still didn't sit right with him. Though he had trouble connecting with most humans he had enjoyed Adeline's company for the most part and he had felt she understood things a bit better than others, considering she had also lost her family. Family…
"What if—what if, she went to see that brother of hers?" Ciel asked.
"Based on what I know of Lady Adeline, I don't think she would be that reckless," Sebastian said.
Revenge can make you be reckless, Ciel thought. He knew that better than anyone. Before the deaths of his parents and his subsequent kidnap and torture, he would never have made a contract with a demon. He'd been happy and lived a rather contented life. All of that had changed quite quickly when it became apparent that one needed to be more ruthless if they meant to survive.
"That has to be it, though," Ciel said. "Why else wouldn't she say where she was going? Unless she came to tell us and…"
His voice trailed off, but he knew the butler was sharing the same vein of thinking. What if Adeline had gone looking for them and overheard everything? Ciel was quite sure that she wouldn't tell, but what if she did? He felt a bit faint.
"If I may, sir," Sebastian said. "I know you have become fond of Lady Adeline during her stay here; I myself found her agreeable by human standards. However, we knew that eventually this day would come, and in truth we don't really need her anymore. She gave us the information we required including identifying the vampires. Her part's been played."
"I understand," Ciel said. "But that doesn't mean that she deserves to die if she's gone off looking for them. We're going out."
Sebastian nodded. "As you wish, my lord."
Several minutes later, the Earl was dressed and descending the stairs at a frantic pace, Sebastian at his heels. He had no idea where he would even begin to start searching for Adeline. She truthfully could be anywhere. Still, he felt the strong sense that she had gone to seek out her brother, find the last of her family. It was what he would have done.
He flung open the front door and was shocked to find Adeline on the other side of it. She was wearing traveling clothes. A bit further behind her, he could see a horse, slick with sweat and panting as though it had run a great distance. His hand dropped to his side and he could only stare in disbelief as she crossed the threshold.
"Where the devil have you been?" Ciel demanded. He knew this was inappropriate language to use when addressing a lady, but he couldn't hide his surprise. "We thought you'd gone."
"I'm sorry to have worried you," Adeline said. "I just went out for a bit and planned to be back before anyone noticed. Truthfully, I thought you had left as well."
Ciel felt some of the tension in his stomach slip away. If she thought he wasn't in the manor, then she hadn't discovered he and Sebastian… He pushed away those thoughts; he needed to concentrate on the matter at hand.
"No, Sebastian and I were still here," Ciel, said. "He was going to see if you were to join me for dinner."
Adeline averted her eyes. "I know I have been rather ridiculous; acting like a silly little girl, hiding in my room. It was just such a shock—seeing Edmund like that. I just needed some time to myself."
"So where did you go? To see him?"
"No," Adeline shook her head. "I can't pretend I don't want to, but what he is now… He may not even recognize me. No. I went to see if there was a way I could get close to Silas."
Ciel's eyes widened. "The vampire?"
"The very same," Adeline said. "Truthfully I wasn't sure how I was going to do it. I rode into London with the nagging fear that I might have to turn around and come back empty-handed. I wandered about for a while. I mean, I don't know where he lives, if it's even within the city. But then I remembered what he does, so I started checking theaters. I found one that said he was going to be starring in their upcoming play. So I went in."
"What were you planning to do there?" Sebastian asked.
"I didn't know until I arrived," She replied. "I went in through toward the stage. There were quite a few people there; it turns out they were holding auditions."
"Auditions?" Ciel asked.
"Yes," Adeline nodded. "For The Little Mermaid. Do you know it?"
Ciel did know the tale: the story of a mermaid who dreamed of a human prince, gave her voice in exchange for legs, and then turned into sea-foam when her love was not returned. It was a rather dark fable for one meant for children. He hadn't read it in years.
"So I was standing there, watching the people read their lines," She continued. "When a man comes over to me and asks if I'm auditioning as well. I was about to decline, but decided why not? So he gave me a script and I sat down and waited my turn and within a half an hour I was the one standing on the stage reading some lines for the director."
"And?" Ciel asked.
"I got a role," Adeline said. "Practices start next week. It's not a large one by any means, but—"
"It's perfect," Ciel said. The gears in his head were already twirling. This was exactly the type of break they needed. "With you there, we can spy on Beaumont and figure out a better opportunity of taking him down."
"I thought so as well," Adeline said. She offered a small smile. "I do apologize for making you worry though."
"It's alright," Ciel said. He turned to the butler. "Sebastian, bring the lady and me some dinner. I suddenly find myself starving."
Sebastian had to admit that humans were nothing if not resourceful when they wanted to be. Granted, Adeline landing a role in the play had hinged strongly on luck. There had been no guarantee she would pull it off. Now that she had though, he knew the Earl was going to take full advantage of the situation.
"Sebastian," Ciel said as he readied for bed that night. "Do you think we should try to get work at the theater as well?"
"What did you have in mind?" Sebastian asked. He tried to imagine the Earl doing anything in a theatrical performance and had to stifle a laugh.
"It was just a thought," Ciel said. "It would help if we could be there during rehearsals and such. We could keep a better eye on Beaumont."
"I agree with you, sir," Sebastian replied as he toweled off the other's hair. "Perhaps we could secure a position as stagehands or something less in the spotlight."
"Sounds acceptable," Ciel said as he made his way into the bedroom. He grabbed the nightshirt on the comforter and pulled it over his head. "We'll accompany Adeline to her rehearsal and see what we can find. No doubt they'll at least take you, skilled as you are."
Sebastian couldn't argue with that. They had already touched on this at dinner. Then the servants had come back halfway through, loaded down the packages from the shops and Prince Soma had returned and wanted Ciel to play some games with him. The Earl had obliged, much to Sebastian's surprise. He watched his lord trounce the Prince at pool and chess and then the young master announced he was going to bed.
"Sebastian," Ciel said, drawing the demon's thoughts back to the present.
"Yes, my lord?"
"Stay here until I fall asleep."
This request also surprised Sebastian. It wasn't the first time that it had been asked of him, though it had been a while. The young master didn't seem on edge about anything and that was usually the cause of it.
He stood by the window as the candles burned low and waited. Eventually Earl's eyes closed and after a while he was sound asleep. Sebastian watched him for a few moments more, and then left the room, closing the door quietly behind him.
The butler made his way down the hall. Today had been a whirlwind of unusual activity from the moment he had come to wake his young master and he had never found himself shocked as many times has he had been today. He paused near a large mirror in the hallway and pulled the collar of his shirt down slightly. The mark the Earl had left was still there of course. He sighed and continued on.
There were more central issues than whatever was going on between him and Ciel. Truthfully, he didn't really know what to call it. They were simply having some fun, he guessed. Nothing was going to come out of it, nothing good anyway. Still…
He let his mind drift to the vampires. There was a very good chance they might come face to face with Silas Beaumont in a week, and things could get ugly. If it came to that, it would be his duty to protect his master, as he always did. Now he found himself thinking, as he had on occasion in the past, that he was going to protect him, not because of the contract, but because he wanted to.
Chapter 16: Chapter 15
The day of the start of rehearsals arrived and Ciel woke up feeling energized. He always felt this way during investigations, when he knew he was on the right track and nabbing the culprit was soon at hand. Of course he knew that they couldn't just go strolling into the theater and apprehend Sir Beaumont. It would have to be carefully executed. But at least they were finally getting somewhere.
He knew it was largely due to Adeline that he even had a plan at all. If she hadn't taken the initiative and gone out that night he would still have been staring at all the scribbled pages on his desk in the study. Or he might be engaging in distracting activities with Sebastian.
I really should put a stop to it before it gets too out of hand, Ciel thought. I can already sense how it's changing me. I'm losing focus on my responsibilities as the Queen's Guard Dog. Besides, nothing good will come from it; if we weren't bound by the contract he'd tear my soul from me right now.
He caught the demon's eyes roaming his body as he dressed him that morning and felt his a blush creep across his skin. He decided that he wasn't quite ready to give up how it made him feel, even if it would mean nothing in the end.
A couple hours later they arrived outside the theater. Adeline went in the front door, clutching a script in her hands. Ciel watched her go, and then turned to Sebastian. "So, should we take a look around?"
"Of course my lord."
The two of them made their way around the side of the building. There was a door marked "Stage Entrance". Ciel pushed it open.
It opened into what at first appeared to be pure darkness, but as his eyes adjusted he could see he was standing at the entrance to a rather dimly lit room. Various props and set pieces were lying haphazardly about. To the left was a series of pulleys used to change the scenery. He could hear muffled voices but not make out any word of what they were saying. He let the door close behind them and it shut more loudly than he'd have liked.
"The dressing rooms have to be somewhere close by," Ciel said.
"They usually are downstairs somewhere under the stage along with wardrobe," Sebastian said. "That way there's more room on this floor for the larger production pieces that won't fit anywhere else."
"Right," Ciel said. He started forward nearly tripping over a large decorative vase. "If I ever make it there alive."
"Watch your step, young master," Sebastian said. The Earl glowered at him.
They made their way along the passageway behind the stage. Ciel was glad they'd gotten there early. He'd been expecting there to be a lot more crewmembers behind the scenes. So far the few that they'd seen had paid them little notice, and he couldn't help wondering if maybe it was something Sebastian had done. Maybe the demon had made it so that they wouldn't be seen. He certainly hoped that if so, that this was a recently discovered skill, because it would have been very useful quite a few times before now.
There was a set of stairs leading downward in the far corner. Ciel guessed this was as good a place as any to start looking for clues. He didn't know exactly what he was searching for, but hoped that there might be some leads on the whereabouts of the missing campers, those whose bodies had yet to be recovered.
Ciel of course hadn't told the Queen that vampires were behind it. Queen's Guard Dog or not, he knew what would become of him if he started spouting such accusations, especially if he identified the main culprits as the most recent members of London's high society. He'd be booking himself a one-way ticket to the asylum to be sure. So instead he'd spun a yarn that the killer must be cannibalistic and enjoy eating and keeping flesh trophies from his victims. It would explain the wounds left on the bodies and the absence of blood, anything to keep up the façade that the killers were human.
When they reached the bottom of the stairs, it stretched off into a long, wide hallway with doors on either side. The ones to the left appeared to be for storing costumes and extra props. To the right were the dressing rooms. Ciel started with these.
The first door flew open as they passed it. A very pretty young woman, about Adeline's age, with long dark hair rushed out, her blue eyes narrowed in concentration. She was mumbling to herself as she hiked up her skirts with both hands and ascended the staircase. The Earl glanced at Sebastian.
"She's very pretty," The butler smirked. "But not a vampire."
"I didn't say everyone was," Ciel said. "Though you never know. She could've been one who was turned."
"No, fledglings have a distinct odor as well," Sebastian, replied. "They are less capable of covering up the scent of blood than their more experienced counterparts."
"Lovely," Ciel said. He glanced at the room she has just vacated. "Should we search it?"
"It doesn't hurt to be thorough."
The exploration turned up nothing, as Ciel had guessed it probably would. It appeared the girl was Rosalind Thomas and she was playing the title character in the performance. The pair moved on to the next room, and then the next, giving each one a good look through. They found some questionable items in some of them but nothing that would give ties to the vampires. Ciel admitted he was a little relieved. The less of the bloodsuckers they had to deal with the better, though there still were twenty-two missing victims…
The next room belonged to Silas Beaumont. Ciel knocked on the door, wondering what he was going to say if the man were inside. There was no answer. He tried again. Still no answer. He glanced at Sebastian, his eyes silently ordering him to be on guard, and the butler nodded. Ciel pushed to door open a crack and peered around. He couldn't see anyone inside, human or otherwise. Unless vampires could make themselves invisible, he thought with a shudder.
The room was more richly decorated than most of the others they had been in. It appeared that Silas was every bit the celebrated actor Aleistor Chamber had claimed. The walls were covered with posters from theaters all across Europe, no doubt past performances that he had starred in. Sebastian leaned in to examine these while Ciel moved further into the room.
He went over to the vanity, looking at the paints and powders there. He opened the drawers, lightly nudging around the contents inside. To the right of it was a large trunk. He regarded it warily for a moment. What if there was a body in it? No, he was pretty sure that Sebastian would have alerted him to any presence in the room. He gripped the top and lifted it. Nothing.
"If we weren't certain of his kind before, we can certainly be assured of it now," Sebastian commented.
"What is it?"
"These flyers," Sebastian said. "Look at the dates, some of them are really quite old. This one's from the Globe Theater in 1613, though it appears our suspect went by Tobias Pemberton at that time. Shakespeare. Now there was an interesting man."
"That's over two-hundred and fifty years ago," Ciel said, abandoning the wardrobe. He momentarily reflected on the fact that his butler had evidently met Shakespeare, then his eyes rested on a wardrobe at the far wall. "Keep looking."
He walked over to the wardrobe, sliding the door open to reveal a rainbow of different costumes in all colors and fabrics. He sifted through them, feeling along the back for any secret compartments. He felt his hand brush a spot of wood that felt different and pushed the garments apart to look. There was a square of wood, lighter in color than the rest. He pried it off, revealing a jagged opening cut right into the stone of the wall behind it.
Ciel leaned forward until he was practically in the wardrobe. He could see items inside the hole and he reached into it, half expecting something to clamp down on his fingers. Perhaps he should have made Sebastian do it. Nothing happened however, and he felt his hand close around a solid object. He pulled it out into the light to better examine it.
It was a large glass vial filled with what could only be blood. Ciel was appalled and nearly dropped it in disgust. He held it up to the light and watched the liquid ooze slowly from one side to the other as he turned it, the fluid inside leaving a thin coating on the glass. He wondered who's it was.
"It appears there's more," Sebastian said, inspecting the opening. "This is a bit unusual; most vampires prefer their blood to be fresh."
Ciel ignored the sick feeling in his stomach and took another look. "Looks like he has quite stash here, no doubt collected from those harmed in the forest. Perhaps he knew someone was on to them."
"You did have me put in that call to the Yard," Sebastian said. "So perhaps your plan to starve them out worked."
So they left the forest and came into the city, Ciel thought, his insides twisting with dread. Perhaps that plan hadn't been so well thought out. If anything happened from now on, it would be partially his fault.
"I wouldn't blame yourself, young master," Sebastian said, as though reading his thoughts. "They would have come eventually. Their brood has grown quickly if all are still alive, and the minimal sustenance the campers provided would have proved to be insufficient."
Ciel wondered what he was going to do with this new information. He supposed they could confront Silas, perhaps threaten him into revealing the location and fate of the remaining missing persons. Then they could deal with the situation from there based on whether there was a body or a…fledgling. He tried to wrap his head around that one as well. He supposed they would all meet the same fate that Adeline had resolved for her brother.
His thoughts were interrupted however when they heard voices coming down the hall. Ciel hurriedly passed the vial to Sebastian who hid it in the pocket of his waistcoat and placed the square of wood securely over the back of the wardrobe again. The Earl's eyes scanned the room, quickly realizing there was nowhere to hide. Sebastian swung the door of the wardrobe closed just as the dressing room door flew open.
Silas Beaumont strode through, and his dark eyes widened in surprise. "Who are you, and what are you doing in my dressing room?"
Sebastian stared at the man who had come through the door. He was even more handsome up close, appearing to only be in his early forties, but to the demon's sensitive nose he still stank of blood. He regarded the butler for a moment, and Sebastian wasn't sure if he had been found out or not. He usually didn't have to conceal his demon energy so much, but he had thought it was better to deplete it as much as possible, at least until they got a better handle on the situation.
Silas, however, seemed more interested in Ciel. Sebastian restrained himself from sweeping the Earl protectively behind him. That would definitely not do to keep up appearances.
His master stepped forward with the usual attitude he commanded, despite being so young. He extended a hand without fear, and Sebastian watched as Silas returned the gesture after a moment.
"I am Earl Ciel Phantomhive," Ciel said as they shook hands. "I have been looking for you, Sir Beaumont. Your reputation precedes you."
"My dear boy, I'm not sure what you mean?" Silas looked confused.
"Are you not the world famous actor?" Ciel asked, feigning surprise. "I confess I hadn't heard of you until recently, but I was sure you were the same man I saw introduced at the Viscount's party the other week. I just had to meet you for myself, and I was told you're performing here."
"Ah, of course," The vampire smiled, though it didn't quite reach his eyes. "Always a delight to meet a fan."
Ciel smirked. "I have always been a patron of the arts, but decided it's time to start giving more. I wish to make a donation to the production."
"How generous of you," Silas said.
"It's really no trouble," Ciel waved away the praise. "I'm feeling philanthropic."
"Well, we will be sure not to disappoint you," Silas said. He glanced over at Sebastian. "And this is?"
"Sebastian, my butler," Ciel said. "Pay him no mind."
Sebastian could see the vampire's eyes studying him. Truthfully, the demon had never heard of Silas Beaumont, probably because he didn't really exist. He had known of a Tobias Pemberton, information he had forgotten over the years and then remembered when he'd caught sight of that poster. That wasn't this creature's name either, he was sure of it. He'd gone by a different name himself in those days, one he couldn't recall. It wasn't important.
He tried to remain impassive. There was no sense giving away the fact that they were on to the whole thing. The Earl would be angry if their cover was blown. Sebastian still wasn't sure how the young master himself wasn't showing the least bit of nervousness in the face of such an adversary. He supposed it was all a part of keeping up appearances but his master was generally fearless these days. At least on the outside.
"Charming," Silas said, smiling that smile again. "Well, if you'll excuse me, I have to go rehearse. It was wonderful to meet you, Sir—?"
"Phantomhive," Ciel said. He started for the door. "Come, Sebastian."
Sebastian took one last look at the vampire and followed the Earl. He didn't like the look the other was giving them. He found himself once more having to restrain his demon tendencies. He could sense that the young master was now a source of interest for Silas. He'd be damned if he let that parasite anywhere near his charge.
He reached out on impulse and gripped the boy's shoulder. Ciel turned around, his brows knit in confusion.
"What is it?"
Sebastian released him. "Apologies my lord, it's nothing."
Ciel continued to stare at him questioningly for a few moments, then his eyes slid away and he started up the stairs. Sebastian trailed behind, feeling a rage beginning to burn inside him.
I must protect the young master at all costs, Sebastian thought. No one is going to take his soul, or even touch him but I!
He repeated this to himself as they walked back out to the carriage. Ciel had told Adeline that they would be back for her when rehearsal was over which wouldn't be until evening.
Sebastian drew his gaze from the window to find the Earl staring at him. "Is something the matter, young master?"
"No," Ciel said. "Just thinking. Do you suppose he knows we're on to him?"
"I couldn't say," Sebastian replied. "I definitely think he believes there's more to you being there than wanting to "support the arts"."
Ciel frowned. "Yes, I thought that as well, but I couldn't think of anything else to say that would have made sense. I thought about trying to get work here as we did in the circus, but truthfully the idea didn't appeal to me in the slightest. Not to mention our attire."
"Yes, few would go looking to build and paint scenery in noble fashion," Sebastian smirked. "In any case, I thought you did quite well under the circumstances."
"I had no reason to be afraid," The Earl shrugged. "You'd have protected me."
"Of course, my lord," Sebastian replied. "Until the very end."
Ciel could tell that Sebastian was irritated. The demon kept staring out the window, and the Earl could tell that there was something on his mind. He almost inquired a couple of times, but he sensed that it probably had something to do with Silas. The interest the vampire had shown in him hadn't been lost on the boy, but he planned to use it to his advantage.
Perhaps he desires my blood, Ciel thought. That would make Sebastian unhappy, having another predator hunting his prize…
The Earl didn't like the silence in the carriage. He wanted to discuss the case some more, but for some reason he also felt the need to address the demon's mood. Which was unusual. Normally he didn't care about feelings, including his own. They were distracting and they affected judgment, made people weak and vulnerable.
It had been a week since that day at the manor, when Adeline had disappeared to go to London on her own. Ciel had thought about it often. It had been interesting to say the least. He had been a little unsure what exactly had happened, had never had his body react the way it had when Sebastian touched him, but he had thoroughly enjoyed it.
He'd slipped away a couple of times to the library in the townhouse to see if it had any books on the mysteries of sex and hadn't been disappointed. It seemed his father had wanted to have a title on every subject in his collection, though this array was smaller than the more vast one back at the main manor. He'd read it with interest, though sometimes the text made his body burn with embarrassment, and he'd have to look away and compose himself a few moments before continuing on. Some of the writing was accompanied by little illustrations, which he also studied, wondering exactly how everything turned out when the pieces were in place.
On the whole he was curious to experience more, however he didn't want to move too quickly. He still felt he was treading in dangerous waters with Sebastian, but he couldn't help how he felt. Right now though, what he felt was unease due to his butler's demeanor. He couldn't remember a time when something had ruffled Sebastian's normally calm and collected presence.
Maybe he should put some of his newfound knowledge to work.
"Sebastian," Ciel said. He half-stood off the seat as the carriage bumped over a rock, sending him falling forward into Sebastian's lap. It wasn't as graceful as he'd planned but he had ended up where he'd meant.
"Careful, my lord," Sebastian said, gripping his shoulders and pulling him upright. "One should stay seated when the carriage is in motion."
"You've been a bit sour since we left the theater," Ciel pointed out. "I didn't think you'd let Silas Beaumont intimidate you."
Sebastian's eyes hardened. "I am not intimidated, the way he was looking at you was simply irksome. I will not just stand idly by while some bloodsucker tries to move in on my meal."
"Are you sure that's all?" Ciel said.
"What else would there be?" Sebastian asked.
"Well," Ciel said. "Perhaps you're worried you'd lose something else. Something about us only recently explored…"
His voice trailed off and he raised his eyebrows suggestively. The demon looked away. "No, I can assure you that that has nothing to do with the matter at all."
Ciel frowned. "I thought I told you never to lie to me."
"And I still have not, my lord," Sebastian said. "I have no intention of losing that either, to anyone."
The Earl was a bit startled by that statement but he recovered quickly. It occurred to him the other day that it seemed their encounters were a bit slanted. They primarily involved Sebastian pleasuring him and he was honestly a bit intrigued to reverse the roles a bit. Nervous as he was, curiosity spurned him on.
He moved forward again and his hand gripped the front of Sebastian's trousers. The demon gave a startled gasp. Ciel felt the corners of his lips twitch.
"Young master, what—" Sebastian began but Ciel silenced him by popping the button.
Ciel knew that if he didn't move quickly he might freeze up. He powered forward and set to work on Sebastian's drawers. If the demon was surprised, he didn't show it. He began to nibble at the Earl's neck, his breath hitching slightly as the younger's hand closed around him.
Sebastian was quite large, much larger than himself, but he figured that everything was basically the same. Ciel moved in the same motion the demon had used on him, straddling the butler's lap, reaching up his other hand to brush Sebastian's dark hair from his eyes.
"How is that?" Ciel asked, finding himself a bit breathless as well as the want in the demon's eyes echoed his own.
"Very good, my lord," Sebastian smirked. "You continue to amaze me with your enthusiasm."
They slid off the seat and onto the floor of the carriage. Ciel maintained his position on top of Sebastian. He didn't know how long he was supposed to keep this up for. He assumed of course that the demon would have more stamina than he did, so he tried to hasten things along, varying his speed and pressure. He supposed that he must have been doing something right since Sebastian appeared to be thoroughly enjoying it.
After a few minutes the demon leaned toward him. "I'm close my lord." Ciel barely had time to work out what this meant when stickiness coated his hand. Yes, Sebastian definitely had lasted longer than he had.
Ciel stared at Sebastian. The demon gazed back at him, breathing hard. The Earl didn't know what to say. He wanted to fill the stillness that seemed to have fallen over the two of them, but words wouldn't come. He leaned forward and pressed his lips against Sebastian's neck. The mark he had left there had nearly faded. He felt the demon's gloved hand run through his hair.
At that moment the carriage slowed and then pulled to a stop. Ciel frantically cleaned his hand with his handkerchief as Sebastian tucked himself back in. The two of them exited the carriage hoping that they appeared as though nothing had happened, but of course it had and they both knew it.
"Welcome home, young master," Mey-Rin greeted them as they entered the front door. She was dusting the foyer. "Did Lady Adeline get to her rehearsal alright?"
"Yes," Ciel nodded. "We'll be returning to pick her up later."
"I hope we'll get to see her in her performance," The maid sighed. "I'm sure it'll be lovely."
"We'll see," Ciel said. He figured securing a few tickets would be simple enough for someone donating a large sum to the play. He turned to the demon. "Sebastian, I'm going to work on some things in my study. Let me know when lunch it ready."
"Of course, my lord," Sebastian said. He held the Earl's gaze for a couple seconds longer, then walked off in the direction of the kitchen.
Ciel watched him go. He knew that the curt dismissal probably wasn't exactly the appropriate follow-up to the events that had just transpired, but he didn't know what else to do. He didn't want to discuss about what was going on with them. It simply was how things were.
Besides, he reasoned, there were bigger problems. They needed to formulate a plan to deal with Silas and his clan of vampires. He needed to minimize the distractions.
He shut the door of the study behind him with a snap and leaned against it for a moment, frowning. The Earl couldn't explain what had come over him in the carriage. Sebastian had been so aggravated by Silas's interest in him, though he'd pretended not to be, and for some strange reason Ciel had found himself troubled by that. He sighed softly, walked over to the desk, and began sifting through the mail.
In the back of his mind, though he couldn't pinpoint the exact moment, he knew his feelings toward Sebastian had shifted. The demon was still his most loyal and capable servant, his assistant on his quest for revenge, and the one who would devour his soul when that was accomplished. However, sometime along the journey, he'd become fond of Sebastian in a different way, so much so that how his butler felt mattered to him. He was sure that this was a risky endeavor, but he couldn't bring himself to care.
Thanks to everyone for continuing to support this story. I have so many silent readers, but I am glad to have them. Not gonna lie, I am often the lurker reader myself.
Chapter 18: Chapter 17
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Sebastian looked over the supplies trying to decide what to make for lunch. There truthfully wasn't a lot to choose from; not that he needed a fully stocked pantry to make a meal. He was quite capable of making something delicious out of minimal ingredients. No, that wasn't the problem. It was that he couldn't concentrate.
The Earl had surprised him more this time than any before. He had of course hoped for some reciprocation since the beginning, but had been content to attend primarily to his young master's needs. After all that was the sole purpose of their agreement, for him to serve the young lord in any way the other wished. Besides, it hadn't been entirely unsatisfying on his end. He'd never expected what had happened earlier though.
Sebastian wondered what exactly had brought about the change in his master. There'd been nothing even remotely intimate about the situation beforehand. Although… the Earl had asked if he were worried Silas might take him away from the demon. Sebastian wasn't worried; he knew he would defend his charge at all costs. But that didn't mean that he hadn't been irritated at the audacity of the vampire to think he had a chance of succeeding.
That was when the mood had shifted, he guessed. It was as though something in the Earl had changed, like he wanted to relieve Sebastian of that stress. And he supposed in a way he had. The demon hadn't thought of anything except what was happening in the carriage, just the two of them. Himself. The Earl. And the certain, sweet pleasure that came from being touched by someone you held deep-rooted feelings for.
Only did he have feelings for the young master? He supposed that he did in some way. The way that he served and protected the boy sometimes fell way beyond what would be considered normal for a demon. Others would have asked him if this particular contract were worth it, if this particular soul was worth it.
He would have said yes.
Then they'd come to the townhouse and his master had ordered him away. As though nothing had happened. It wasn't like Sebastian wanted to discuss the matter in great detail. But to be dismissed so quickly…
He wondered if the Earl had really wanted to work on business matters or he simply hadn't wanted to be near Sebastian anymore. Perhaps now that the Earl had returned the action so to speak, he was washing his hands of the matter. Perhaps things were over as quickly as they seemed to have begun.
Sebastian considered if he were all right with that arrangement, if it were true. He supposed he had to be. If the young master put a stop to it, that was the end. Even if he wished for it to continue, he had to obey what the Earl wanted.
He sighed, turning his thoughts back to lunch. A butler's work was never done.
When they went to pick up Adeline later that evening, she was bursting with excitement from the rehearsal. She told them that the production was going splendidly and everyone was really excited about the donation. She smiled knowingly at the pair.
"That was you, wasn't it?" She asked. "You wanted an excuse to get more access."
"Correct," Ciel said. "Was Silas there?"
"No, well, not the whole time," Adeline said. "He showed up for a bit at the start and then disappeared for the rest of the day. Said he wasn't feeling well."
"He seemed to be well enough when we ran into him in his dressing room," Ciel muttered. Adeline's eyes widened. "We wanted to see if we could uncover anything suspicious."
Sebastian and Ciel took turns telling her about the blood vials and the strange encounter they'd had after Silas had caught them. She listened with rapt attention.
"Perhaps that's why he was out on the rest of the day," Adeline reasoned. "No one thought anything of it. He's one of the stars so…"
"I wonder where he really went," Ciel said. "Perhaps we should have stayed close by and followed him."
"What did you do all day?" Adeline asked.
Ciel cleared his throat and hoped that he wouldn't start blushing. "We went back to the townhouse and I did some work for the company. Have to keep that running along with everything else."
"Of course," Adeline said. "Well, sounds like it was a very productive day for all of us."
They rode the rest of the way in relative silence. Ciel found himself lost in thought. He was tired; it had been a long day and was probably going to become longer still.
Dinner passed in a blur, as did the rest of the evening. Soon he found himself sitting in the tub, the warm water seeping the soreness from his muscles, his eyelids growing heavy.
"My lord," Sebastian said as he wrapped a towel around Ciel's body. "I apologize if our earlier actions caused you discomfort."
Ciel startled. He pushed his damp hair out of his eyes and stared at the butler, his gaze searching. He looked away. "What would make you say that?"
Sebastian stared at him pointedly. Ciel knew that he hadn't acted in the most proper way to the situation. He sighed.
"That's not it. I—I wanted to. It's just…I still don't fully understand what's going on between us. I don't want to discuss it because I don't know how to."
"We don't have to discuss it, young master," Sebastian said. "Though perhaps it would be better if we tried."
Ciel handed Sebastian the towel. "Not tonight."
He went to his room and dressed for bed. Crawling beneath the covers, he watched as Sebastian drew the curtains. He hoped the butler wasn't angry with him; he just couldn't put his feelings into words, at least not yet. He didn't even know if the demon would be capable of returning them once he did.
Sebastian came to collect the candelabra. Ciel reached out and grabbed his wrist. The demon drew back slightly, and then his muscles slackened against the hold. "What is it?"
"I just—I don't want you to believe that this isn't making me happy," Ciel couldn't believe the words coming out of his mouth. He'd often declared that he was incapable of such emotions or smiling ever again. Now here he was… "Because it is."
Sebastian smirked. "I will confess I have also become quite fond of the arrangement myself. Goodnight, my lord."
Chapter 19: Chapter 18
Thanks lovelies for continuing to support the story, and welcome if you are new. Comments and kudos always welcome. I'll be at work all night so I will not be dressing up, but I hope everyone has a safe and Happy Halloween!
The next morning brought a bit of terrible news. It appeared that two bodies had been found in the river. The autopsy was still pending but it was believed that the victims had been dead before they wound up in the water. Ciel suspected that when they were examined it would be revealed that they'd been drained of blood.
"We need to go check out those bodies," Ciel said over breakfast that morning. "As soon as Adeline arrives at her practice, we'll go."
"Very good, sir," Sebastian said.
Sneaking into buildings never posed much of a problem for them and Ciel soon found himself descending the stairs at the police station, en route to the medical examiner's office. Sebastian cracked open the door and took a cursory look around, allowing the Earl to pass by once he'd determined the room was empty.
The bodies were laid out on the table covered by white sheets. Ciel steeled himself for the worse and ripped back the shield from the first figure. The stench of death welled up to assault his senses and he buried his nose in his arm, eyes watering.
It was a young man, probably no more than late twenties, with sandy hair. Ciel was surprised that even though his body had been found within the river, it bore none of the effects associate with an extended soak in the water. He expected the body to be bloated, flesh possibly sloughing off the face. Something. But this man's body appeared perfectly normal. He walked over to the other body and pulled back the sheet. This one was a girl, probably about his age, tawny hair hanging limply about her face.
Ciel observed the second body, a tight feeling in his chest. He hated to see dead children; it brought about bad memories. If he thought about it too much, he would be transported back to that room, huddled in a cage, watching others be sacrificed and knowing it soon might be his turn. He gripped the edge of the table to steady himself, feeling a light sweat break out over his body.
"Are you alright, my lord?" Sebastian asked.
"I'm fine," Ciel said. He leaned closer. "Sebastian, look at this."
On both of the bodies there were small marks on their necks, as though they had been pierced with something sharp. The holes were small, but still visible.
"Is has to be the vampires," Ciel said.
"I'm inclined to agree with you, sir," Sebastian said. "The neck is the most effective point of taking blood for them."
Ciel pulled the sheet on the male down further, his eyes widening in shock. There was a gaping hole in the middle of his chest. A few of his ribs had been popped open. He grudgingly went over to the girl and whipped back her sheet as well. As he'd feared she too, bore a hole in her chest.
Ciel leaned toward the wound, glancing at Sebastian. "What do you make of it?"
"It appears they were run through with some sort of sharp object," Sebastian said. He poked around inside the cavity and Ciel's lip curled in disgust at the squelching sounds emitted. "And their hearts have been cut out."
"Why?" Ciel was nauseated.
"Well, sometimes it is removed to see if there's any abnormalities that would have contributed to cause of death," Sebastian said. "But based on my observations I would say it was taken quite some time ago, definitely before he was dumped in the river."
"Is it the vampires?" Ciel asked.
"Normally, I'd say no," Sebastian said. "Vampires don't typically have a use for hearts unless they are quite desperate. If indeed this were a vampire however, its heart would be blackened and shriveled in size, something that would be sure to arouse suspicions of anyone with a medical background."
"Can a fledgling die?" Ciel asked.
"Indeed," Sebastian said. "Especially if they are mortal turned."
"There are two kinds of vampires," Sebastian said. "There are those who are born as vampires, known as Purebloods. They are vampires from the moment they arrive in the world until they die, which is several hundreds of years later if they are lucky to avoid being slain. Then there are the mortal turned, vampires who were once human. Like Adeline's brother. Even if they are turned successfully, they sometimes still succumb to the great toll it takes on the body."
Ciel thought about this. It really didn't make a lot of sense to him. "Are these some of the missing campers?"
"Based on the records I've seen, I believe so," Sebastian said. "I cannot recall their exact identities but I do remember seeing some photographs that matched their appearances."
"So now there's twenty still missing," Ciel said, frowning. "I wonder if they will meet the same fate."
Predictability was something that wasn't often present in the Phantomhive household, as Sebastian had come to find. There were always things to do, and re-do, thanks to the many accidents caused by the other servants. Just when something would get cleaned or straightened or arranged it would become dirty, broken or in total disarray. He'd decide to use a particular flower for a centerpiece and Finny would have exterminated them all with reckless application of weed killer. Mey-Rin would rub shoe polish instead of floor cleaner all over the tiles, leaving unsightly black smears. Baldroy… well, he might reduce a particularly decadent breakfast to charred lumps and set the kitchen on fire as he had just done that morning.
This was precisely what had caused them to run late for Adeline's rehearsal. The carriage was thundering down the road while both the Earl and the butler apologized for the delay. Adeline waved them away.
"Of course I don't want to be late, but things happen," she said. "Besides, I'm not one of the main actors, so they may not even notice."
"All the same, my lady," Sebastian replied. "We don't like to be in the habit of making our guests tardy for their engagements."
They reached the theater in record time. Adeline hopped out, bidding them goodbye. Ciel suggested to Sebastian that they follow at a distance. The butler obliged.
Yes, predictability was not something that often graced Sebastian's life as the Phantomhive butler.
However, one aspect had become predictable. The Earl still wouldn't talk about his feelings, or really admit he had them anymore, but he still continued to express interest in Sebastian and being with him. It didn't happen every day, but often enough that the demon had come to expect it.
It was now the middle of September. The investigation was still going doggedly slow. Though they had stayed in the general vicinity of the theater, Silas had done nothing suspicious. Outside his disappearance on the first day, he attended every rehearsal, and stuck to his dressing room in the off-times.
Ciel had ordered Sebastian more than once to follow the vampire after rehearsals were over, but the demon hadn't turned up anything either. Silas usually took a carriage back to his mansion, which was a sprawling stone structure behind a tall spiked fence. Sebastian had visited it during the day, while Silas was at rehearsals, as well. He'd considered leaping over and going up to the house, but considered Silas might have put up wards to alert him of or repel other supernatural beasts.
During a few of these excursions, he had glimpsed Adeline's brother, Edmund, through the fence. He was often walking the grounds with the daughter, Marina. Sebastian suspected that the young female vampire had taken a liking to him when her family had slaughtered his in the forest and decided to take him as a companion for herself. It was not unusual in the slightest; Adeline's brother was quite handsome and beasts of darkness enjoyed beautiful things.
He'd shared this information with her and the Earl. The lady was of course, sad, but she still said it would be best to put him out of his misery. She hoped that he wouldn't suffer, and Ciel had assured her that he wouldn't. The demon had no preference in how he dealt with the vampires, but he sensed that his master was going to order him to deal with Edmund as quickly and painlessly as possible.
The play was going to open in two weeks. Despite a bloodsucking leading man, the performance, from what he'd seen of it, was quite good. Ciel was however a bit worried about what would happen when it ended. Celebrated he might be, it could be a while before the Silas booked another role. At that time, it would be more difficult to reasonably pursue him without attracting suspicion. They needed to make a move soon.
Sebastian held the door open for his master and the pair headed toward their customary seats at the back of the hall. They didn't always watch the entire performance, but it had been a couple of days since they'd last observed.
It appeared that they were starting from the middle of the play. The scene was set for the Prince's Castle. Rosalind Thomas, or Rose as they had learned she liked to be called, strolled across the stage from the left, hand in hand with Silas Beaumont.
Ciel had commented the first time they'd seen the performance that it was rather odd that Silas was playing the prince since he had to be at least twice the age of Rose. Adeline was seventeen and Rose only a couple of years older. Sebastian had replied that perhaps Silas had bewitched people to think he was even younger than how he appeared.
Yes, Silas would be skilled at many things, having survived for so long. They knew he had existed for at least over two hundred years, but he could be even older than that. It had been decades since Sebastian had had to tangle with one of their kind and he honestly had hoped never to again. Though they were both beasts of the underworld, they could be dangerous to demons, especially if they were powerful.
They watched through to the end of the act. Rose threw herself overboard the Prince's wedding ship, turning to foam and being rescued by spirits to become a Daughter of Air, bound to perform good deeds for 300 years before she could attain a soul ascend to heaven.
There was a break after and Sebastian turned to his master. "It appears it's lunchtime, my lord."
"Alright, let's find Adeline and go," Ciel replied.
"Of course, my lord," Sebastian said.
They ended up at a nearby café having sandwiches. Sebastian noted that the Earl was starting to look unrested again.
"I'm sorry," Adeline said suddenly.
Ciel looked up, his brows knitting in confusion. "For what?"
"I really thought getting a role in the play might help," Adeline sighed. "But I feel like it hasn't. You're no closer to saving those people. Or killing that damn vampire."
"I wouldn't say that it hasn't been entirely unhelpful," Sebastian said. "You have given us opportunity to closely observe our target. Trust me, if he makes a move, we'll act swiftly."
Adeline did not seem convinced. Sebastian agreed with her that the progress was almost nonexistent, but it wasn't her fault. Silas was crafty and surrounded himself almost constantly with others while in the city. Then he sequestered himself in his manor otherwise. As far as the demon had been able to tell, those were really the only two places he went except for the odd party or meeting.
The rest of the meal passed in relative silence and they walked back to the theater. Adeline parted ways with them in the hall and walked toward the side of the stage. She disappeared behind the curtain a moment later.
Chapter 20: Chapter 19
Ciel collapsed into the plush seat with a groan. "This is boring. We've seen it countless times."
"It is wearing a bit thin, my lord," Sebastian agreed. "However, we don't have to sit here."
"What else would you suggest we do?" Ciel asked. "Silas is here."
"This is true," Sebastian said. "No more disappearances have been reported since the summer, no suspicious murders either since the two in the river. I imagine that our friend the vampire's stash of blood is running quite low, unless he's gotten better at hiding his victims. From there he and the rest of his clan should weaken. Then we will have a much easier time disposing of them."
"Alright, places everyone, places!" The director clapped his hands for attention. "I need Rose to start from the beginning."
Ciel stood up abruptly. "Sebastian, let's go."
The demon followed him with a look of confusion. Ciel was tired of sitting. They hadn't done much investigation in the theater since that very first day. He wondered if what Sebastian had said was true, that the vampire's stash might be getting low. He decided he was going to check for himself.
They slipped around the side and into the backstage area. People were milling about in all directions but no one paid them much attention. After all, it had circulated among the performers that the Earl was responsible for the donation that had made it possible for them to make the play even more spectacular. He was free to move about, as he liked.
Ciel descended the stairs to the area under the stage quickly. It was deserted. He took this to be a good sign. Hopefully they would remain undisturbed while they conducted their search.
"He's not inside, is he?" Ciel asked.
Sebastian shook his head. "No, I can hear him upstairs."
Ciel pushed the door open and strode over to the wardrobe, flinging the door wide. He parted the clothing, and ripped away the separate piece of wood. The hole was still there.
It was empty.
"So, what does this mean?" Ciel asked. "He's got no more left?"
"Either that, or he's moved them to a different location," Sebastian said. "It has been a while since we last checked. I'd thought Silas had been on to us from the moment we met, perhaps he didn't want to take any chances on his store being destroyed."
"What if he doesn't have any?" Ciel said.
"Then eventually he'll look for more," Sebastian said.
"That's what I'm afraid of," Ciel replaced the board and pushed the costumes back into place. "We have to make sure that doesn't happen."
He heard footsteps coming down the hall, and froze. He glanced at Sebastian silently asking him if it was Silas. Sebastian shook his head. Ciel motioned toward the wardrobe, and climbed up inside. Sebastian pulled the doors shut behind them, leaving just a crack so that they could see who was coming into the room. The door creaked open and a middle-aged woman that Ciel recognized as the actress playing the Sea Witch poked her head into the room.
"Rose?" She asked. She gave a cursory glance over the room, then determining that there was obviously no one visibly inside, withdrew and shut the door.
"Rose?" Ciel asked as he and Sebastian spilled out of the wardrobe. "The lead? Is she missing?"
"It appears that way, my lord," Sebastian said.
They started back. All at once there was a terrible scream. The pair rushed up the stairs. When they reached the top, they were greeted by a whirlwind of chaos. People were running around, looking horrorstruck; most seemed to be headed toward the side door, the one that opened up onto the alley. Ciel motioned to Sebastian and the two of them made their way over as well.
They passed Adeline on the way.
"What happened?" Ciel whispered as they went by.
"I don't know," Adeline said. "But it doesn't sound good."
The demon parted the crowd easily, Ciel close at his heels. Bright sunlight smacked him in the face and it took a few moments for the spots to clear from his eyes. Once they did, he couldn't believe what he was seeing.
Rosalind Thomas, The Little Mermaid, was lying in the alley. She was dead. Her throat had been torn out and scarlet blood ran in rivulets down her chest, staining her dress. Some of it had sprayed on the wall behind her. It was a grisly sight.
Ciel moved forward a few paces, and bent to look at the body. The blood pooled thickly around her head, wetting her dark hair. Her lips were paused in a silent scream. He looked away from her staring eyes, widened even further in death, and met Sebastian's gaze. The butler nodded slightly.
"Who here was the one who found her?" Ciel asked, straightening up.
"I was, sir," A petite blonde girl raised her hand. He recognized her as the actress who played the Princess the Prince eventually married instead of the mermaid in the play. He couldn't recall her name. Adeline had said it was Helen or Hilda…something with an H.
"What was she doing out here, the rehearsal was going on."
"No, it hadn't been," An older gentleman, The Sea King, spoke up. "We actually hadn't started up because Rose was missing."
"It's true, sir," The director said. "I called for everyone to take their places but when the curtain went up, Rose wasn't in her assigned spot. I told someone from the crew to look in her dressing room, thinking she'd missed the announcement but—"
"So we started to look for her, because obviously seeing as she's one of the stars, we can't go on without her," Another woman said.
"We've been searching the theater for the last fifteen minutes, but she was nowhere to be found."
"I checked all the dressing rooms—"
"Even checked the ticket office though I cant imagine what she'd have been doing—"
"Stop!" Ciel commanded. The cast and crew lapsed into silence. He needed a moment to think and with everyone talking at once it was impossible.
Of course he knew exactly what had happened. Silas had decided to take his lunch a little later than everyone else. The Earl knew that he couldn't just come right out and say that however. It would sound like lunacy. He glanced over the crowd, noticing at once that the vampire wasn't present. Adeline's worried face peeked out among them. She alone shared the knowledge of what really had occurred.
"Sebastian get everyone back inside," Ciel ordered. "Then make a call to the Yard."
The butler bowed and began to direct the crowd out of the alley. Ciel waited until everyone had gone.
"You said you found her," He turned to the blonde. She was sobbing now, her hands shaking, but she nodded. Ciel offered his handkerchief. "Did you see anything else? Was there another person in the alley? Possibly a man?"
"Not that I saw," She sniffled. She blew her nose loudly. "I just opened the door and—and there s-she was—d-dead!"
She began to cry loudly again. Ciel waited a few moments until it subsided. "What made you look outside? Did you have reason to believe she had left the building?"
"Not really," She shook her head. "It seemed like we'd checked everywhere else though."
"Who was it that suggested you look here?" Sebastian asked as he returned. It was now eerily quiet in the alley.
"Sir Beaumont." She said in earnest. "I passed him on my way back from searching the—"
"Thank you, my lady, that will be all," Sebastian cut her off. "I think you should go join the others, this isn't a sight one as lovely as yourself should look at any longer."
The girl nodded and walked shakily back into the theater. Ciel turned to the butler, his eyes blazing.
"What's he playing at, killing in broad daylight?" He growled. "And why her?"
"I couldn't say," Sebastian said. "It seems a waste to simply murder such a fair specimen. I would think he'd have sought to turn her, add her to his clan."
The Earl frowned. "This needs to end soon, Sebastian, one way or another. I'm through playing these games."
The Yard arrived shortly after along with medical personnel. Ciel gave the most concise statement he could give, of course leaving out the vampires, but making sure to mention Sir Beaumont as the one who had suggested looking outside. He hoped that someone might make the connection that he was the man they were after, but knew that it was a fat lot of good it would do even if they did. The vampire was sure to spin the suspicion away from himself somehow, possibly through some sort of bewitchment.
He pushed his way into the theater, away from the ghastly scene. Most of the cast and crew were still standing around, talking in low voices. The Earl supposed this made sense. Obviously no one would be in the mood to work when their friend and coworker had been brutally murdered right outside their door.
Adeline was in a circle of people, speaking to the director, her face a mask of worry. She spotted them and separated herself from group. She was biting her lip furiously between her teeth as she walked up to them.
"What's the matter?" Sebastian asked.
"Well, I've spoken to the director," She said. "The show was supposed to open in two weeks, but given the circumstances there's no possible way."
"I'm sorry, my lady," Ciel said. "I know you were looking forward to—"
"I'm not finished," Adeline broke in. "There should be no possible way. Except…I've been recommended to take Rose's place."
"What?" Ciel asked.
"I mean, normally I'd be flattered," She said. "But you can guess who it was that suggested it. I almost said no…but look, earlier today before rehearsal started when we were all backstage, Silas announced that he's going to be holding a party the night after for all the cast, crew, and quite a few of the honored audience members who will be in attendance opening night. A party at his house. If there's no play, there's most likely no party."
"So I agreed."
"I agreed to do it," Adeline said. "I know all the lines already, and the Mermaid loses her voice halfway through anyway. I mean, I'm not stupid, I am fully aware that Silas has picked me out because somewhere along the way he realized that I'm an acquaintance of yours. But this could be it. An excuse to go to his home; he'll obviously invite the prime benefactor of the production. And then maybe you can find my brother and the others who are still missing."
"The lady does produce a very compelling argument," Sebastian said.
"Indeed," Ciel nodded. "Alright, do your best and keep your head down. Sebastian, make sure to keep careful watch on her for the remainder of rehearsals."
The butler inclined his head. "As you wish, my lord."
Chapter 21: Chapter 20
Despite the horrible murder of Rosalind Thomas, the play continued to move on full speed ahead. The director said that was the way she’d have wanted it, her heart and soul had been the theater, so they would put on the performance in her memory.
Sebastian had obeyed the Earl’s explicit instructions to keep watch over Adeline at her rehearsals, which were now twice as rigorous as before since she’d been catapulted to the leading role. Then there was the matter that she had a number of scenes with Silas. On top of his normal butler duties and making sure that the Earl was safe as well, the demon found he was stretched very thinly indeed.
“My lord,” Sebastian said, turning to his charge on the night of the performance. “You should go and find your seat. They reserved one for you up front.”
They were backstage and the performance was set to begin in about ten minutes. Everyone was rushing about, quickly but quietly; making sure every last detail was in place. Makeup was applied, costumes fitted, and props distributed. The band started playing the opening melodies.
“I’ve seen the bloody thing a thousand times,” Ciel rolled his eyes. “Including the dress rehearsal this afternoon. If I ever see it again it’ll be too soon!”
“If you insist,” Sebastian replied. He started toward a steep set of stairs leading upward.
“Where are you going?” Ciel asked, walking after him.
“To the catwalk,” Sebastian said, a note of amusement in his voice. “Though splendidly named, there are unfortunately none of those perfect creatures up there. In any case, it is an excellent place to take in the whole performance. An aerial view does have its advantages.”
Ciel nodded. “Alright then.”
“You’re welcome to come with, my lord,” Sebastian said. He offered a hand. The Earl took it, and Sebastian felt a certain warm spread through him. It had certainly been a bit of time since they’d last had serious relations.
He reflected on this as he assisted his master up into the rafters of the stage.
Up here there were hardly any people. There was just a few men working the lights and curtains, raising and lowering the different parts of the set.
The curtain rose up slowly and there was a polite smattering of applause. The orchestra started up again and Adeline appeared far below, her legs encased in some shiny blue fabric meant to represent a fishtail. Other actors and actresses milled about the stage, dressed as various sea critters. The older gentleman who played the Sea King was telling her once she was old enough she’d be able to go and observe the human world.
It was the same as every time before, although perhaps there was another certain magic in the air. The notion shared by everyone that this was what the weeks of hard work was culminating in. That this performance was better than all the rest because it was for an audience, not just a hall filled with empty seats. There was magic, but Sebastian felt it in a different way. And it had nothing to do with mermaids and everything to do with the Earl standing beside him.
He really hoped that this vampire business would be put to rest the next night at the party. He wanted to slaughter the whole lot of them and just be done with it. Then perhaps more pressing business could be attended to…
He peered down onto the stage. It was now the scene where the Prince was thrown overboard and the Little Mermaid swims to his rescue. Adeline was playing her part beautifully, though she was most likely terrified at having to be in such close proximity to Silas. She showed no emotion other than the concern and love her character was supposed to be showing the Prince as she waited with him on the sandy shore after pulling him from the water.
Sebastian could smell her fear, but beneath it was anger and revenge. He was sure that she’d have staked the Prince through the heart if she’d been able to. Her soul smelled almost as good as his master’s… almost.
“Do you remember what Undertaker said about drawing the vampires to us?” Ciel asked.
The question brought Sebastian from his thoughts. “My lord?”
“At the shop,” Ciel said. “He said we needed to find a way to draw the vampires to us in order to kill them.”
“I recall, young master,” Sebastian said. “And you’ve surmised that Lady Adeline is the way that we are going to do that?”
“I didn’t say that,” Ciel said, though his expression conveyed that was exactly what he’d been thinking. “Perhaps Silas thinks to get the better of us if he’s near her, knowing she has connection to us.”
“Connection to you, you mean,” Sebastian said. “I’m sure he sees me as just another obstacle in the way of his true prize, which is you, young master.”
“Me?” Ciel asked.
“Yes,” Sebastian said. “I have no doubt that by now Silas Beaumont is well aware of what I am. He’ll seek to take you from me, as the demon’s hatred for vampires is mutual. However, you will definitely not suffer the same fate as poor Rosalind Thomas.”
“So he’ll try to turn me, is that it?” Ciel said. His tone was angry, but Sebastian could see the panic in his lord’s eyes. “Make me into a disgusting leech like him?”
“Try but not succeed, I assure you,” Sebastian replied.
“I order you to not let that happen,” Ciel said.
“As you wish,” Sebastian said, taking another cursory glanced down at the stage. “Though I’d have done it anyway, order or not.”
“Because you want me,” Ciel said. “That’s all?”
“I admit these days, I hunger for much more than your soul, young master,” Sebastian said with a smirk. “What I’ve had anyway has been delectable and I’m certain the rest of you is just as delicious as—”
“Pardon?” The demon’s brows knit together.
“Prove it,” The Earl repeated. “If you’re certain that’s what you want then do so.” He leaned forward. “Do you remember at the start of this, there was something I’d asked you about?”
His tongue flicked out suddenly and he ran it down the side of Sebastian’s neck. The demon looked up at him, understanding what he was implying but wanting to be certain that was what was demanded. It was a rather odd time and place to be requesting something of this nature, but who was he to refuse an invitation from his young master?
The demon licked his lips. “Shall we begin, my lord?”
Ciel didn’t know what had come over him, but to be honest this was something he had been thinking about all evening. Well, longer than that evening. It had crossed his mind one in a while ever since Sebastian had mentioned it. And it had been in that book too…
He knew this was a very ridiculous time to request such a thing, but for some reason it felt right. Being with Sebastian was risky, but that was part of what made it exciting. And now the risk was amplified.
Sebastian quickly worked him out of his pants and Ciel shivered slightly at the chill of the air. The demon’s hand curled around him and Ciel was treated to a slightly new variation of this action. This was something they had done often now up to this point, but this was the first time Sebastian had left his gloves on. It provided an entirely new sensation.
The demon was stroking him into readiness and it took some effort on Ciel’s part to not simply release before the main event had been reached. The Earl felt himself stiffen fully in Sebastian’s hand. He was a bit nervous, but he was ready for this.
Alright, maybe I’m not ready for this, He thought a moment later when Sebastian knelt before him like he was going to help him put on his shoes. Only he wasn’t going to put on his shoes. He was going to…
Sebastian leaned closer and Ciel could feel his hot breath on him. Then the demon just sat there, letting the warmth of his exhales ghost over Ciel’s crotch. It was maddening.
He was just about to tell the demon to hurry it up, when Sebastian’s mouth closed around him. There was no slow buildup here like there had been previously. Sebastian’s mouth was hot and wet and he sucked furiously. Ciel felt his back arch and his hips jutted forward as though demanding Sebastian to take more, though there was no more to take.
Ciel gripped the railing of the catwalk, feeling delirious. Sebastian’s tongue was moving up and down and in circles. Once in a while he would feel the demon’s fangs softly graze his flesh and he nearly cried out, stifling the moans in the crook of his arm. He didn’t think he’d be heard over the sound of the orchestra, but he wasn’t sure.
He understood now what Sebastian had meant about people liking this. It was like the other thing, with just hands, but a hundred times better. Sebastian was of course skilled at this because he was just had to be bloody amazing at everything, didn’t he? Not that Ciel was complaining.
The demon was now concentrating all of his energy on the tip, his fangs lightly nibbling. His tongue flicked out and lapped over Ciel’s slit, eliciting another pleasured whimper from the boy. The Earl could feel the demon smirk against him before continuing on with his torturous pleasure.
Ciel reached out a hand and ran his fingers through Sebastian’s hair. The demon’s locks were silky. He was content to tangle his fingers in them, until Sebastian startled him and he yanked a chunk quite forcefully.
Sebastian paused and let the Earl’s length slip from between his lips. He raised an eyebrow, his expression half bemused and half exasperated. Ciel whined at the loss of contact. “Young master, you don’t have to pull my hair out.”
“S-sorry,” Ciel mumbled. He was truthfully a bit sorry, but he hadn’t been expecting Sebastian to take him all the way in like that. He swore that the demon’s throat was getting hotter every time he thrust into it. It was as though his insides were lined with the very fires of Hell.
“I don’t really mind,” Sebastian’s eyes were practically glowing. “I’m perfectly happy with taking things rough, but a bit of warning would be appreciated.”
Ciel felt a blush blaze along his skin. He hadn’t done it to be “rough”; it had just been an accident. But he couldn’t dwell on that now, Sebastian had taken him back into his mouth, even more intensely than before and he truthfully wasn’t sure how much longer he was going to last.
“Sebastian,” He whispered. The demon responded by swirling along the tip and poking his tongue into the slit.
Ciel felt himself coming undone. He came in several short quick bursts, vaguely aware that Sebastian was continuing to suck on him as he rode out his orgasm. He felt as though his body were on fire, but also a bit chilled, all at once. His heart was thundering in his chest and his breathing rasped like he’d run a very short distance very fast.
The Earl slid down onto the floor of the catwalk, still clutching the railing. His body continued to thrum with energy as waves of pleasure burst beneath his skin. He was vaguely aware of the demon producing a handkerchief to clean him up and tuck him back into his trousers.
The lights of the hall were twinkling and the orchestra started up the final melody, signaling the end of the first half of the play. There was a thunderous wave of applause. Ciel privately amused himself by imagining that the clapping was directed at him and Sebastian.
His eyes refocused to find the demon staring at him, a knowing smile hinting at the corners of his lips.
“What are you smirking at?” Ciel asked. He wanted to push himself into a standing position, but his legs still felt a bit like jelly.
“T’was as I predicted,” The butler leaned forward. “The rest of you, my lord, is as delicious as your soul.”
The rest of the play went rather well, though Sebastian felt that it wasn't nearly as exciting as the first half had been. He had been telling the truth when he'd said he found Ciel appealing. The demon ran his tongue over his lips again. He could still taste the smallest hint of his master. It was decadent.
Lady Elizabeth, who Ciel had also included in his guests of complimentary tickets, insisted that Adeline come and spend the night with her, which suited the butler well. He didn't dislike the girl, but the less people there were in the townhouse, the better. They promised to meet the following night at the party at the Beaumont Estate and boarded their carriage.
Once the door had shut and the horses were trotting off in the direction of the townhouse, the Earl fixed the butler with a pointed stare. "Alright, out with it."
"I'm not sure I understand, my lord," Sebastian said, his curiosity piqued.
"I know there's something you want to say," Ciel said. "About what happened back there."
"It was an unusual choice of venue, I'll admit," The butler shrugged. "But the act itself was not totally unexpected. You've been intrigued by the concept since I first brought it to your knowledge, and don't think I'm completely blind to what you've been perusing in the library."
He smirked as a faint blush colored the Earl's cheeks. He decided to prod him further into embarrassment.
"Personally, I find it a rather tedious and bland digest," Sebastian said. "I could make you experience effects of that nature that haven't yet been written in books."
Ciel squirmed slightly on the seat. After so long of having the young lord struggle to squash the hungers burning within him, he was now in almost exactly the place where Sebastian wanted him. It had taken patience, sometimes painfully slow progress, but he'd succeeded.
"Let's go to the manor," Ciel said quietly.
Sebastian raised an eyebrow. He had heard him correctly. He'd said the manor, not the townhouse. Obviously this was something easily accomplished by someone like Sebastian, but it was a rather odd request. Then again, he'd been receiving a lot of those that evening.
"Are you sure, my lord?" Sebastian asked. "The townhouse is much closer and—"
"I said the manor," Ciel commanded. "That's an order."
Sebastian dipped his head. "At once, young master."
Within moments the carriage had ground to a halt. Sebastian came back to the door and gathered the Earl in his arms. The demon could travel much faster than any human-made transport, so it made sense. The Earl kept his arms looped tightly around Sebastian's neck as they took off, as the crow flies, toward the Phantomhive Estate.
Sebastian was perplexed. There was no reason for them to go to the manor at all. There were no servants; they hadn't been there in over a month, so there was little food. These were but trifles to a butler as skilled as Sebastian, but it was still baffling.
He could feel the Earl slackening in his arms as they bounced along. He was clearly becoming tired. They really should have gone back to the townhouse. However his charge had insisted. Sebastian tightened his grip and sped up.
Within minutes Sebastian touched down before the front door of the manor. The stately stone mansion was shrouded in shadow; all of the windows pitch black. Sebastian unlocked the front door and stood by to let his master pass by. Their footsteps echoed on the tile in the darkened foyer.
"I should go and locate some candles," Sebastian said. "Wait here, young master."
Ciel nodded. The butler walked off and returned a moment later bearing a large candelabrum. He'd also taken the liberty of lighting several more candles throughout the manor. They provided a soft golden glow.
"So, now young master," Sebastian said. "You're home. What is it you wanted here?"
"To be alone," Ciel, said. He started for the stairs. Sebastian trailed behind him.
"As opposed to the townhouse?" Sebastian said. "I could have requested you weren't disturbed."
"I understand," Ciel said. "But you know how well your orders are followed sometimes by the others."
He reached his room and walked toward the bed. "Prepare a bath, and I'd like some tea."
Sebastian was still very confused by his young master's behavior. He wondered if this could possibly have anything to do with what had taken place in the theater. He bowed and saw himself out of the room.
The tub filled in no time and Sebastian helped the Earl into the tub, barely containing himself from suggesting further affections. He left the Earl to soak and went to prepare the tea.
Fortunately, in spite of the sparse pantry, tea was something that they always had copious amounts of in the Phantomhive household. He glanced over the varieties, trying to decide which blend would best be suitable for his young master at this time. He wished that he could better decipher the mood the Earl was in; whether their latest tryst had excited him or something else.
He wheeled the cart down the hall thinking these things. Relations had been this way with them for a bit now, but he still didn't fully understand the things he was feeling or truthfully, why he was feeling them at all. He hadn't thought himself capable of emotions, especially not ones like this. It worried him a little, if he were being honest. Caring too deeply for the boy might cloud his judgment and make him more vulnerable. That could spell disaster.
The demon reentered the bathroom, observing his young mater soaking in the tub. Ciel turned to look at him, his mismatched eyes heavy with exhaustion.
"Your tea will be ready when you're done with your bath," Sebastian said.
"Good," Ciel said. He stretched one pale thin leg out of the water and rested it on the edge of the tub in front of him. The demon watched him, unabashed.
"I'm still not quite certain why you wanted to come here, young master," Sebastian said. He knelt beside the tub and picked up soap and a sponge.
"I told you," Ciel said, leaning forward so the butler could scrub his back. "I wanted to be alone."
"And I heard your statement," Sebastian said. "It doesn't make it any less bewildering, especially considering what the topic of conversation was just before the request."
The Earl seemed to stiffen slightly. "If you think we're here to engage in more of the same, I'm afraid you're mistaken."
"I would never seek to presume I know what you're up to," Sebastian said as he lathered some shampoo to wash the Earl's hair. "Though I wouldn't have declined the invitation."
"Quiet you." Ciel growled.
"If I may though," Sebastian said. "I have a question, something that I've been curious about for quite some time."
"What is it?" Ciel asked. His tone was wary.
"Why is it that whenever we have…relations, that we never kiss?"
"We do," Ciel said. "All the time."
"Not on the lips," Sebastian pointed out. "It's not as though it impedes us from finding satisfaction in the current exploit, but it is something that has come to my attention on occasion."
Ciel was silent for a few moments. "Truthfully, I'm not sure. Something makes me apprehensive about it."
Like the fact that you believe I might suck out your soul ahead of schedule, Sebastian thought. This of course was preposterous. Even if he could, he wouldn't have.
"It's not as though I haven't considered it," The Earl continued. "But…"
His voice trailed away. Sebastian took this opportunity to dump a basin of water over his head to rinse off his hair. The Earl rubbed the droplets out of his eyes, frowning.
"You could have warned me you were doing that," He growled. "No need to get snappy with me."
Sebastian wasn't angry. He found it highly amusing that kissing, perhaps the least intimate of acts, was the thing that the young master held the most reservations about. They had just engaged in oral affairs in a public space. People could have seen them, and might have, for all he knew.
"I think you should get out now," Sebastian said. "You don't want to prune."
Ciel hoisted himself from the tub and accepted the towel Sebastian held out to him. He dried quickly, padding into the bedroom. He pulled his nightshirt over his head and settled on the edge of the bed.
"Your tea, sir," Sebastian said. "I've selected a nice Valerian blend, sweetened with some lemon balm and peppermint to cut down on the natural earthy taste. It should help you drift right to sleep."
Ciel took the cup and sipped it. His expression was thoughtful. "It's good."
Sebastian bowed. "If that will be all young master, I shall take my leave. Considering we came back so unexpectedly, there will be plenty of work to do if I am to have your morning rituals to your liking."
Ciel knew he should say something before the moment passed. He slid off the bed, abandoning the cup on the nightstand. "Wait."
The butler turned, inclining his head. "Yes, young master?"
"Sebastian, give me your hand."
Sebastian raised an eyebrow but did as the Earl commanded.
Ciel stepped toward him and pinched the tip of Sebastian's gloved index finger. It was still damp from the bath. He pulled the glove off easily and dropped it to the floor. He stared at Sebastian's bare hand, the incredibly pale skin and long slender fingers tipped with nails black as licorice. He knew they could turn to talons at an instant's notice, but for the moment they were nicely groomed.
He pulled off the left glove as well. The black contract mark stood out starkly on the back of this one. Ciel ran his fingers over the mark, knowing that Sebastian was probably wondering what the he was doing.
"From now on, when we're at the manor," Ciel said quietly. "I don't want you to wear these anymore."
Sebastian was confused. "Why ever not? I seem to recall on many occasions you saying that my nails disgusted you. Not to mention it might blow our cover."
Ciel shook his head. "I feel differently about that now. As for anyone finding out, the servants are the only ones here, and they loyal to me. They'll keep my secrets."
"I have no doubt about that," Sebastian said. He sighed and bowed his head. "If this is what you wish, my lord."
He turned to depart once more, but Ciel reached out and grabbed his sleeve. He didn't know what had come over him. But he didn't want Sebastian to leave. And he didn't want the butler thinking that he didn't want to kiss him. Because he did. Something always held him back. He understood it was silly, and appreciated that Sebastian didn't push the issue whenever they'd been intimate, but he was afraid to do so.
"Don't leave," Ciel said softly. He tossed the gloves on the floor and wrapped his arms around Sebastian's middle. "Let's stay like this a while longer."
He could tell Sebastian was now even more surprised, but the demon composed himself and placed his own arms awkwardly around the Earl, who buried his face against the other's waistcoat. They'd obviously shared moments before, but this was different. It had never been about affection.
Ciel didn't know what was going to happen the following night. He was anxious to put the business with Sir Beaumont behind him once and for all, and he hoped that they would get to do that. He also hoped for a swift end for Adeline's brother and all the other possible victims who might be still alive and turned into beasts. He wished that he didn't actually have to go through with any of this, and he could just stay here alone at the manor with Sebastian. But he had a duty to the Queen, and indeed to the rest of the country, for no one could truly be safe while the vampires lurked about.
Ciel tightened his hold and closed his eyes, breathing in Sebastian's scent. He had truly become fond of the butler, in ways he had never thought he would. His normally still heart, turned cold by a need for revenge and to always appear indifferent and unwavering, now flared with heat every time he was near Sebastian. It was terrifying, but it also had made him feel alive and that was a feeling he didn't experience often anymore, and certainly not to this degree.
He was aware that the bond between them was no more than that of a contract between master and servant. However, sometimes he imagined it differently, and more recently he felt that Sebastian was shifting in that direction as well. He didn't know what that would mean for them. He still sought his retribution and he knew that the demon still craved his soul, but now there were other factors at play.
"Sebastian, come closer," He whispered, drawing back slightly.
The demon sank to one knee and Ciel wasted no time in draping his arms around the demon's neck. The Earl felt Sebastian's hand move and a moment later, the demon's fingers had threaded through his hair. He stiffened for just a fraction, and then relaxed into the touch. He mused that this was quite odd and not a position that he had ever thought he would be in ever in his life, let alone when he'd struck the deal with his butler.
"Your tea is getting cold," Sebastian said, but his tone conveyed he was simply stating it in light of struggling for something to say.
"I don't care," Ciel said. He'd honestly said he wanted the tea as a way to get Sebastian out of the room for a few moments so he could collect his thoughts. Now they were assembled. "I'll have no trouble falling asleep."
The Earl released his hold on Sebastian and walked back toward the bed. He was extremely tired, physically and emotionally exhausted. He slipped beneath the covers, watching the demon as he crossed to the window and drew the curtains closed. Tomorrow was going to be a big day; he only hoped they would come out victorious and unscathed.
A/N: Thank you all as usual. The scene with the gloves was actually one of the earliest that came to my my mind when writing this, but I didn't have any idea how I was going to connect it with the prologue. I was actually quite surprised with the events that occurred in between, but I am satisfied.
Chapter 23: Chapter 22
A/N: Thanks lovelies! I see a couple of new followers, so happy to have you all here!
Silas Beaumont certainly knew how to throw a party. Ciel felt as though the actor had packed the whole of the city into his manor. The play had been well received but he didn't think it was so spectacular as to warrant an event like this. Then again, the vampire seemed like the type who was big into unnecessary theatrics, and the nobility of London with their undying love of lavish gatherings and well-dressed company, wouldn't question it.
Ciel had gone over the plan with Sebastian as the carriage had rolled up the winding driveway. If everything went accordingly, they could take care of affairs without any of the guests noticing anything.
The Earl stood along the edge of the party, holding a glass of champagne that someone had passed him without drinking it. He felt a prickle of unease in his stomach that he couldn't explain. Perhaps he still felt a bit vulnerable from the night before. He hadn't meant to act that way toward Sebastian or confess any of the things that he'd said, but he didn't regret it.
Sebastian hadn't made any mention of it the following morning when he'd come in to wake the Earl, having prepared quite a splendid breakfast despite there being very little food in the kitchen. Ciel had studied the demon while pretending to read his morning paper, carefully ironed of course, trying to decipher if there any changes in the other's demeanor. He hadn't detected any, though the butler had complied with his request regarding the gloves.
He glanced around the large hall; eyes scanning the richly clothed bodies, wondering when exactly would be a good time to slip away and start the search. Elizabeth and Adeline hadn't yet arrived and he thought it would be wise to put in some time with them. Still, he was anxious to begin.
"Have you have found anything?" Ciel asked as Sebastian walked over to him.
"I've only performed a cursory search of the premises," Sebastian replied. "I figured it unwise to stray too far within the manor, but I can sense the fledglings, though they are being hidden, with the exception with one."
"Adeline's brother," Ciel said.
As he said it, the Earl caught sight of the handsome young man that they'd glimpsed on the staircase at the Viscount's. He was standing on the opposite side of the dance floor next to Silas's daughter. Her name was Marina, if the Earl recalled correctly.
He started forward, when suddenly someone grabbed his arm. The Earl whirled around, and found himself in a bone-crushing hug with Elizabeth. She seized him firmly against her for a few moments then held him at arms length, her emerald eyes gleaming with excitement.
"Ciel!" She exclaimed. "Isn't this a splendid party? You look simply adorable!"
"You look beautiful as well, Lady Elizabeth," Ciel replied, because she did. He glanced over at Sebastian, recognizing that he was more captivated by a different type of beauty.
"Lizzie," She chided him gently. Her mood rapidly bounced back to enthusiasm. "Lady Adeline should be along shortly. She said she needed to powder her nose."
Ciel tried to remember what he had been doing before Lizzie accosted him. Right, he'd been started toward the daughter and her partner. Only now he had an even easier way to do so.
"Lizzie," He said, extending a hand. "Let's dance."
Elizabeth squealed in excitement and grabbed his hand at once. She rushed him out onto the dance floor, and Ciel regretted his choice immediately. Though Adeline's tutelage had furthered his dreadful skills in the direction of being slightly less dreadful, he wasn't going to be winning any ballroom competitions anytime soon. Lizzie steered him about the dance floor and he was quite sure that if they spun around any more they were going to experience flight. However, his plan to get closer to Marina and Edmund was working.
He dug his heels in and managed to get Lizzie to slow down a few paces in front of the other pair. Up close he could see just how stunning they were. Marina had an elfin face, her wide doe-like eyes a deep blue like her fathers. Her hair hung in flaxen waves down her back and she was wearing a dress of blood-red velvet. The appropriateness of this was not lost on the Earl.
Edmund was similarly handsome, though he still appeared more human than he'd expected. The change was still working its way through his physical form it seemed. Ciel could see similarities to Adeline's appearance, the shape of his eyes and lips, his auburn hair. He understood why Marina had picked him as her mate, if that was what his fate was going to be.
The song came to an end and Ciel escorted Lizzie off the dance floor. He would be quite happy to never have to dance again, but he knew eventually he'd have to. She smiled and told him she was going to go and get some punch. The escapade hadn't been an entire waste, however, he had gotten exactly where he wanted to be.
He steeled himself and walked over to Marina, bowing low. "My Lady, your father throws a most excellent party."
Marina regarded him coolly for a moment; he could see she was trying to place him in her mind. No doubt Silas had talked about him at home. Then her lips spread into a wide smile and she sank into a graceful curtsy.
"You're very kind to say so, Lord Phantomhive," She intoned. "My father has spoken most highly of you. It was quite generous of you to make a donation to the production. I think it really helped to make it especially spectacular."
She inclined her head to the left. "Have you met my fiancée, Edmund?"
"No, I don't believe I've had the pleasure," Ciel said. He turned to look at Adeline's brother. "How do you do?"
Edmund Crawford smiled at him, but the Earl could see that his eyes appeared unfocused and glassy. Though his physical appearance seemed largely unchanged, except for a certain smoothing of the skin and the presence of slight dark circles beneath his eyes, mentally he seemed miles away. Ciel wondered how much, if any, of the original human Edmund remained. It was sobering to think about.
"It's a rather splendid evening," Edmund said, his voice lacking all normal inflections of human speech.
"Indeed," Ciel replied.
He opened his mouth to say more but for the second time that evening someone touched him without invitation. A hand clamped down on his shoulder, strong, with fingers that felt a bit like claws. He whirled around and came face to face with Silas Beaumont.
"Ah, Lord Phantomhive, I'd thought that was you," He exclaimed jovially. "I see you've met Marina. Such a vision, isn't she? Allow me the pleasure of introducing my wife, Lady Camille Beaumont. Darling, this is the man I was telling you about, our most significant benefactor. I am so glad that you saw fit to grace us with your presence this evening."
"The pleasure is all mine," Ciel said, waving away the praise.
Camille leaned toward him, her eyes studying. Her golden tresses were done up in a tight knot on her head. She stroked at the extravagant diamond necklace at her throat, berry colored lips pursed together.
"Such a small form for an Earl," She commented.
Ciel blanched a bit, but kept face. How dare she?
"My dear, you shouldn't say such rude things," Silas said. He gripped her arm and steered her toward Marina and Edmund. "It doesn't matter his size, I am sure that the Earl has an illustrious future ahead of him. I'm certain he'll prove himself quite useful."
Ciel didn't know how to respond to this. He chose to remain silent lest he say something he regretted and give himself away. Silas glanced back at Ciel. "Forgive me for my wife's offense."
Ciel forced a grimacing smile. "Pay it no mind."
"And I see you've brought your faithful butler as well," Silas said, as Sebastian appeared at the Earl's side, looking pleasantly murderous. "Charming."
Ciel could tell that Silas thought Sebastian's attendance was anything but charming, but the vampire continued to smile stiffly until Ciel inclined his head and announced that he was going to go and catch up with some of the other guests. This turned out to be Adeline.
"Did you see him?" Ciel asked as he walked up to her.
Adeline nodded. "I looked for him the moment I came in. Oh, that wretched girl is putting her hands all over him. It makes me furious."
"We'll take care of it, my lady," Sebastian promised. "We'll deal with all of them when the time is right."
Ciel was wondering when the time would be right. He could feel his unease growing. Sebastian appeared to have been accurate about Silas taking a liking to him. It appeared that the vampire had set his sights on claiming Ciel's future for his own.
However, he reasoned, this was impossible; his future was already spoken for. By Sebastian. And even if it wasn't, becoming part of some vampire's brood was not what he would have picked.
Ciel sighed, wishing that the party were already over, but he knew that it would be several hours before it was. Accepting another glass of champagne from a passing waiter, he sipped it thoughtfully. His eyes strayed toward Sebastian, and his mind strayed toward things that were most inappropriate for the current state of affairs. He couldn't help it; even though Sebastian looked the same as he always did, Ciel now saw him in a different way.
"What is it, young master?" Sebastian asked as he walked over. "Did you see something interesting?"
Ciel smirked. "Perhaps."
They were interrupted by the sound of a knife clinking against a glass. A rich voice boomed out over the crowd, commanding silence and attentiveness. Conversations evaporated as lords and ladies alike turned to see who had spoken.
"Can I have your attention everyone," Silas said from the center of the room. "When I decided to move here to London, I wasn't sure exactly how my family and I would be received. I'll admit I was a bit nervous, I'd heard rumors about the English and their snobbery. However, I am very pleased to say, I have been entirely proved wrong. You have opened your hearts, and your imaginations to me and my family, and for that I am eternally grateful."
There was a polite smattering of applause. The ladies were smiling pleasantly and the men raised their glasses toward Sir Beaumont and took hearty swigs. The waiters rushed about to fill the glasses again as it was clear that the toasts were only just beginning.
"I was invited soon after arriving to take part in a production of The Little Mermaid," Silas said. "It's not the most illustrious role by any means, but I wanted to go back to my roots a bit. Take a part at a smaller theater, for a smaller show. The cast and all the staff warmly welcomed me. Though I am financially well off myself and would have gladly offered additional money to help with costs, assistance came in the very unexpected form of the young Earl Phantomhive."
There was another polite smattering of applause. Ciel thought that he might vomit. This was further induced as Silas began to speak again.
"I haven't had the pleasure of meeting very many people like the Earl in my life," Silas said. "And I have met many, many people." Ciel thought about the irony of that statement. "He generously donated to the production and for that I am eternally grateful. I know the rest of the lineup is as well. Yes, there's something special about him. He's going to do great things. So you all best keep your eyes on him. A toast to the distinguished Earl Phantomhive."
Silas raised his glass and drank from it heartily. Ciel noticed that though most others seemed to be drinking champagne, which was golden, and bubbly, Silas was gulping from a wineglass filled with dark red liquid. He suspected it was blood and his insides turned the way they had when he and Lizzie had whizzed around the dance floor. He offered a stiff smile and bowed his head in gracious acceptance of the praise.
That wasn't the only thing that made him sick. It was the speech. The same way Silas had talked earlier to Camille, his wife. About how Ciel was going to have a bright future ahead of him, with the tone that heavily implied he meant to have something to do with it.
No matter. It would all be over soon. The Earl snuck a look at Sebastian. The demon looked livid, if he had been just a fraction angrier, Ciel was certain his eyes would have started glowing. Yes, he was safe. Perhaps a little too safe.
The rest of the party passed without further incident. It just like any other human gathering filled with dancing, gossip, and far too much alcohol. Sebastian had long become bored of these affairs over the course of his lifetime. The addition of vampires just made this gathering especially vile.
He knew that the young master wanted to slip away and search the manor for the missing campers just as the party ended. That way everyone would be leaving and no one would be paying attention to where they were going. Silas, wanting to appear the picture of mortal high society, would be stationed at the door with the rest of his family extending wishes of safe travels to the departing guests. Once the last carriage had disappeared and the mansion was empty, save for himself, the young master, and the vampires, they would finish the job.
Sebastian was anxious to get started. That damned vampire was really getting on his nerves. The way that he stared at the young master... It made his blood boil. He worked to keep his emotions in check however. This was no time to dwell on that. By the end of the night Silas Beaumont would just be the latest addition to a long list of people he'd killed. Especially after that speech…
He turned his attention back to the young master. The two of them were waiting near the edge of the hall with Adeline. They were the only ones not moving in the massive throng of people headed toward the exit. As predicted, Silas and his family had taken up post near the doors, shaking hands and accepting praise on their fabulous party.
"We'll figure out how to get to your brother after," Ciel said. "And I promise we will take his body with us."
Adeline reached out and clasped his hands. "Thank you. Good luck tonight."
Ciel nodded, his face set in determination.
"My Lady," Sebastian said as he glided over the Earl. "Might I recommend you wait in the carriage? It would probably be safer for you there."
She shook her head, a smirk playing on her lips. "I most certainly will not."
Stubborn as ever, Sebastian thought. He shrugged. It was her choice whether she wanted to stay in the manor while it was possibly overrun with vampires. But the Earl had given him explicit instructions that he must protect her no matter what, so it wasn't as though she were actually in any real danger.
"As you wish, my lady," Sebastian said. "If you do feel however that things are becoming too much for you, seek shelter in the carriage. Snake is there. He can take you back to the townhouse."
"But what about you two?" She asked. "How will you get home? It's quite far."
"We'll find a way," Ciel said. "Let's go, Sebastian."
The pair departed from Lady Adeline and set off into the manor. Sebastian could sense the fledglings. They were somewhere underground. Perhaps Silas had a wine cellar. Or a dungeon, he thought with a hint of amusement.
"We need to find the stairs," Sebastian said. "I suspect that Silas will have hidden them somewhere not easily accessible by normal visitors to the estate."
"That would be the point," Ciel said as they crossed through a large drawing room. "This manor is huge, it'll take too long for us to search all of it. We need to hurry up."
"Of course, my lord."
Sebastian sighed. He hadn't seen any sign of stairs on his earlier preliminary search either. Which was a problem. They couldn't deal with the fledglings if they couldn't find them.
As much as it repulsed him, Sebastian tried to put himself into Silas's mind. What would he do to keep his brood hidden and safe? He recalled the wardrobe in the theater with its stash of blood in the wall. That was it.
"Perhaps there's a secret passage somewhere," Sebastian said. "A hidden door or staircase."
"It's possible," Ciel replied. "That also makes it even more difficult to find."
"Not necessarily, young master," Sebastian said. "Silas is a worldly man…well, man of sorts, and those are worldly often enjoy having large collections of books."
"So the library, then," Ciel said. "Where is it?"
"This way," Sebastian did remember seeing one earlier but he hadn't thought much about it. A lot of nobles had them in their houses but not all of them actually used them. However, being an actor, and also centuries old, Silas definitely would have a taste for knowledge.
The library was dimly lit; moonlight filtering in through the large windows. There was a fire burning low in the grate. Ciel examined the shelves, studying the spines of the books bound in rich jewel toned leather. There were hundreds of them, maybe thousands. It was easily twice the size of even the Phantomhive library.
"I don't even know where to start," Ciel said. "You're sure it's here, this entrance?"
"Not entirely," Sebastian said. "But quite sure. In any case, it's a good place to start."
Ciel huffed and began perusing the stacks again. "We don't know anything about him other than he's a vampire that's apparently masqueraded as an actor for hundreds of years."
"Shakespeare," Sebastian said. He pulled a thick volume from the shelf and flipped through it. "Nothing. I was certain he might have hidden something in that book. What's next?"
"You're the one who usually has all the information," Ciel said. "Why're you asking me?"
"Because two brains are better than one, young master," Sebastian said. "You should use yours more often."
While Ciel shot daggers at him, Sebastian resumed searching. The Earl was right of course; he normally did have all the answers. The problem here was that he didn't what questions to ask. He studied the shelves themselves, hoping to see something that looked out of the ordinary. There was nothing.
"Maybe we're looking in the wrong place," Ciel said. "The guests have to be nearly gone by now. Damn, it's freezing in here. Don't they know how to properly stoke a fire?"
The Earl was right; there was a certain chill filling the room. It was now the beginning of October, and as such the days had grown shorter and the nights longer, bringing about the cold of mid-fall evenings and even nippier nights. However, there was a bit of a flame still in the grate so it shouldn't be so cold unless…
"Young master, I believe the fire is illusion," Sebastian said. He walked over to the fire and bent to have a closer look. "This is very curious."
"What is it?" Ciel asked, drawing up beside him.
"The fire is indeed an illusion caused by some source of light that produces the flame, but not the heat, of an actual fire. It's reflected upon again and again by these mirrors set here and…here."
He smashed his fist through what had once been a solid mirror at the back of the fireplace. It shattered to pieces tinkling into dust at their feet. The glow of the artifice disappeared, casting the room into almost total blackness, save for the milky silver light of the moon. Sebastian grabbed a candle on the desk nearby and produced a flame to ignite it. In the faint light, they could see a half crumbling set of stairs disappearing into hazy darkness.
Sebastian started forward, having to crouch to fit through the hole in the fireplace. He straightened up once on the other side and turned to look at the Earl. "Well, young master? Shall we press on?"
A/N: This one is a shorter one than normal, but the next part is quite long so hopefully that makes up for it. I am so happy with all the new reviews!
Ciel really did not want to go down the dilapidated stairway. But he knew he had no choice. Rosalind Thomas' death had alerted the Queen to the fact that the threat was still at large. She had even sent the Double Charleses to bring a letter a couple of days before, at which time they had heavily implied that he should work harder on the case. After all he didn't want to disappoint Her Majesty, did he?
The Earl followed Sebastian into the dark passageway beyond the fireplace. It smelled damp and was even chillier than it had been in the library. They descended the stairs, footsteps echoing on the walls. The single candle Sebastian held didn't provide much light and it was nearly impossible to see exactly where they were going.
"Are we getting closer?" Ciel asked.
"Yes," Sebastian said. "The fledglings energies are much stronger down here."
They reached the bottom of the stairs and came out into a small open space. Three tunnels branched off in different directions. Of course it couldn't be as simple as he'd hoped.
Sebastian crossed to the tunnel on the right and paused for a few moments, then moved to the center one and repeated the action. The one on the left earned a nod. "This one. I can hear them at the end of it."
Ciel strained his ears but he knew that his hearing would never match Sebastian's. He could hear nothing but water dripping and the sound of their own hurried footsteps. He was quite aware with every step he took that he was growing closer to the vampires, fledgling vampires at that; young beasts who would probably have no control over their actions. He gripped the gun in his pocket, knowing it would probably not do much harm to creatures of the supernatural variety. Still, he was grateful to have the illusion of protection.
The tunnel seemed to go on forever. At least it was better lighted than the stairway had been. There were torches burning every few feet.
"So, how do you plan to stop them when we get there?" Ciel asked.
"It will not be pleasant," Sebastian said. "I'll have to run them through."
"Oh," This honestly wasn't anything new to the Earl. He had seen his demon stab plenty of people before. He suspected he had the knives and forks hidden somewhere about his person. "And that's all?"
"I am hoping so," Sebastian said. "They've only been turned for a few months now. At least some of them have to be developing slowly."
"I wonder if he keeps them down here all the time," Ciel said. "Or if it was just for the party."
"I couldn't say," Sebastian replied. "The only one I've seen on my observations was Edmund and obviously he is being very well taken care of."
Ciel thought about Adeline upstairs. He wondered where she was. If she was still snooping around or she'd been smart and gone back to the carriage.
The tunnel ended with a large door set with several locks. Ciel could hear something now. There were noises coming from the other side of it, a kind of scratching. It made gooseflesh spread across his skin. He refused to be afraid, but who knew exactly what lay on the other side of the door.
"Shall I open it, young master?" Sebastian asked. Ciel nodded. "Alright, stand back."
Ciel moved away as Sebastian blew apart the door. The thick wood splintered easily and the locks separated and fell to the floor with a series of clatters. Dust rose up from the debris, hanging in smoky clouds and obscuring their view of the room within. He really did not want to go in there either, but the sooner they disposed of the fledglings, the sooner they could go home.
There was about two seconds of silence, then the first young vampire shot through the opening. He was like the pair from the morgue, the alabaster pale skin and slight under eye shadows, but that was where the similarities ended. This one looked slightly less human and more like a wild animal. His eyes were wide and glowed with a golden yellow light. His mouth was open and from it protruded rows of sharp teeth, each one similar in size and shape to an ice pick. Based on what little information on vampires Ciel had come across while trying to research the case, these didn't seem to match the descriptions.
Sebastian was on the creature in an instant. It hissed and swiped at him, but he dodged the attacks easily. He jammed a knife into the vampire's chest and it squalled, falling backward. Ciel was momentarily mystified; it hadn't put up much of a fight at all. Then the figure began to sit up again. Sebastian grabbed the creature's head and ripped it off with a sound that Ciel hoped dearly to never hear again.
"Was that really necessary?" He asked, feeling the bit of champagne he'd forced himself to drink earlier coming back up his throat.
"It appears some of these might be a bit more resilient than I had thought," Sebastian said. "But decapitation is also an effective form of vampire slaying."
This told Ciel that Sebastian was probably going to do it again. He drew out his gun as two more fledglings burst through the doorway. These two were also young, a boy probably no more than a couple of years older than he was and a girl slightly younger than Adeline. He really didn't want to watch Sebastian slay them. He'd not expected that they all would be so young. Despite the fact that they had been kept behind a severely locked door, all the fledglings appeared to be well cared for, clothed and groomed in ways that would have had them all easily blend into upper-class society. Exactly like their makers.
"Their age actually makes perfect sense," Sebastian said as the pair charged at them. "Younger victims actually have a less likely chance of succumbing to the effects of the change. Not to mention they're malleable, Silas and his family can raise them up to be whatever they want. If they live, they'll be around for hundreds of years, and therefore there's more opportunities to continue the bloodline."
Ciel tried to focus instead on Sebastian's voice instead of the battle. He was really no good at these things, preferring to always stand to the side while Sebastian did the dirty work. Because as a human, he knew he was weak, though he liked to pretend otherwise. He wished that there was a way that they could just kill all of them at once instead of the way things were currently going, slowly, so he had to see each victim before Sebastian ceased their life.
Something like they had done with all those children during the circus investigation. But they had been human and their bodies fragile. These creatures, though they were no doubt slighter versions of what Silas and his family was, had become stronger and faster than their human counterparts could ever have hoped to achieve.
More of them were pouring through the doorway now. Ciel drew his gun, firing with abandon. There was too many. They'd been aware of at least over twenty, counting Edmund, but there seemed to be way more than that. They were closing in on him. The gun clicked, it had run out of bullets. Ciel ripped off his eye patch. He didn't want things to happen this way, but he knew that a bloody battle was the only way that they were going to win.
"Sebastian destroy them all, any way you can," He called. "This is an order!"
"Of course, my lord," Sebastian said. "Close your eyes."
Ciel did as he was told, for once without a word of protest. He truly didn't want to see what Sebastian was going to do. But he heard it, even though he covered his ears too. For what seemed like forever, but probably was only a few minutes, the air was filled with growls, screams, and snaps. Every so often he would hear that tearing sound that meant yet another vampire had had its head separated from its body. A horrid smell began to fill the chamber and Ciel felt nauseous. He swallowed hard, forcing the bile back down his throat.
"Young master, it's over," Sebastian said. "They're all gone."
Ciel raised his head and looked up at the butler. Sebastian hadn't emerged entirely unscathed but his wounds appeared to be superficial. He'd lost his gloves somewhere along the way, or perhaps he'd removed them, Ciel didn't know. He could see that Sebastian's nails still were more pointed and sharp than usual. His eyes were fading from the glowing magenta blaze. The Earl sighed and pushed himself to his feet, not wanting to look at the carnage around them, but finding it impossible not too.
"Are you sure they're all dead?" Ciel said, though just by taking a cursory glance he didn't see how they could be anything but.
"Yes, my lord," Sebastian said. "As you ordered."
Ciel nodded. He glanced at the torches lining the sides of the tunnel. "We'll burn them just to be sure. Their families aren't going to want to want them anyway in this state, and for most of them, considering they are young, their parents were probably slaughtered long ago in the forest."
He started back down the tunnel, leaving Sebastian to finish the job. He never wanted to be here in this place again. As he walked he reminded himself that the task was only half over. They still had to deal with three pureblood vampires. Not to mention Adeline's brother. He couldn't let Sebastian tear Edmund's head off.
"It's done, young master," Sebastian said as he appeared at the Earl's side.
"Good," Ciel replied. "Now let's end it."
They emerged back at the start of the tunnel and started toward the stairs. And that was when something knocked into him from behind. His body went flying forward and he hit the stairs, feeling the wind knocked out of him. Gasping for breath, he lay stunned for a few moments, registering a bit of pain in his knees and ribs, before long spindly fingers wrapped around his arms and flipped him onto his back. The hands continued to hold him, practically cutting into him with their grip. He was staring into the furious face of Camille Beaumont.
"You…" She hissed. Her eyes were blazing in that same golden intensity as the fledglings had. He could see her fangs within her mouth, each at least two inches long and deadly looking. "You brat! You dare to come in here and kill my children?"
Ciel opened his mouth to speak, thoroughly terrified, but the words stuck in his throat. He just continued to stare at her as she inched closer and closer. She was going to kill him. No. She was going to turn him. And that would be worse than dying. He wished he hadn't wasted all his bullets earlier, but truthfully knew that they wouldn't have done anything except maybe have slowed her down.
He shut his eyes, willing Sebastian to come and save him. Sometimes the butler liked to make him suffer a bit before stepping in; hopefully this wouldn't be one of those times. Camille was not hesitating. He could smell her breath, heavy with blood and wine, drawing nearer. Her talons tightened their grip on his arms.
Then suddenly she started screeching and her weight lifted off of him. Ciel's eyes snapped open. Sebastian was standing a few feet away; his clawed hand protruding from the center of her chest. He was holding her heart, which as he had explained back at the morgue, was indeed about a third the size of a normal human heart, black and charred looking. Ciel watched the demon crush the shriveled organ. It seemed to crumble into dust and he yanked his arm back through, tearing the remaining heart out with it.
Camille remained animated for a few moments more. She continued to scream as the rest of her began to become charred and shriveled, as though being run through and the loss of her heart had sped up her aging process. Within seconds she went from being extraordinarily beautiful to something Ciel was sure he'd probably only see in his worst nightmares.
She turned her eyes toward Sebastian. They were now no more than two fading golden pinpricks in the darkness of her face. "You…demon…Silas will make you pay for all of this."
Camille collapsed upon the floor, her body dissolving into ashes.
"Are you alright, young master?" Sebastian asked.
"Yes," Ciel said. He was sure that he'd end up very bruised and his knees were scraped, but otherwise he was unharmed. He'd definitely had worse.
Sebastian hoisted him into his arms and started up the stairs. The Earl held on tightly to Sebastian's neck.
"I guess they did figure out what you are," Ciel said.
"Yes, but was it before or after I put my hand through her?" Sebastian asked.
"This is no time for jokes," Ciel said. His body had been thrumming with adrenaline, particularly during the altercation with Camille, but now he could feel it ebbing and he was tiring. This was bad. They weren't done yet.
They emerged back out into the library. Sebastian set Ciel down, and he wavered a moment on his feet as he surveyed the room. Camille had come downstairs. That had to mean that the rest of her family was aware of what was going on.
"Sebastian, start a fire in here as well," He instructed. "A real one. All these books, it should go up no problem."
Sebastian bowed. Ciel retied his eye patch and grabbed the poker from the fireplace. Then he started out of the room. He walked back down the hall, passing countless rooms, wondering where the three remaining vampires could be hiding. Truthfully, he guessed it could be anywhere. The estate was massive.
He came out into the ballroom again. It looked completely different without all of the other guests. It was vast and empty, seeming to stretch on for miles. Ciel didn't like how open it was. He felt exposed. Perhaps there was another, less vulnerable way to get towards the entrance hall. He turned and started back down the hall. As he turned the first corner he nearly ran into Edmund Crawford.
Ciel thought for probably the millionth time that he didn't know why he presumed it ever wise to go off on his own whenever he and Sebastian were handling a difficult case. There had been many things they had dealt with that tried their skills, but none of it had been of an incredibly deviant supernatural variety until now. Vampires loose in a manor should have topped the list of times he shouldn't separate from Sebastian. As usual he hadn't wanted to listen to reason.
Edmund regarded him curiously. Ciel stared back at him. He tightened his grip on the poker and wasn't sure why he didn't just try to bury it in the older boy's chest. Perhaps it was because he reminded the Earl of Adeline. But she had told him to do it. To end her brother's suffering. So why was he standing there like an idiot?
Edmund began to growl. It sounded like the warning a rabid dog would make right before it charged you. Ciel wondered if he should run, but decided against it. The vampires were faster. That much he knew. He prepared to drive the poker into—
But the next thing he knew he was being slammed against the wall in the hallway. A vase on a nearby table exploded as his arm swung out and knocked it to the floor. He tried to break free but Edmund was too strong. Even for a fledgling vampire, he seemed to have adapted to the change well.
"Edmund," He tried.
"How do you know me?" Edmund said. "How do you know my name?"
Ciel opened his mouth to tell him that they had literally just met at the party, but he never got the chance to answer because Edmund grabbed him by the throat. The vampire was crushing his windpipe in his grip and he was quite sure he was going to pass out. Why hadn't he made a move sooner? Or called for Sebastian. Damn, why had he left Sebastian?
"S-sister," He choked out. "Y-y-our—sister—a-a-live."
He thought he saw a flicker of recognition pass over the young man's face, but he was getting quite delirious. His chest felt tight and the edges of his vision were beginning to go black. He heard dull thudding footsteps and there was a muted crunching noise. The pressure on his neck tightened for a moment, and then began to slacken, and fell away entirely. Ciel slid down the wall to the floor, gasping, sucking in great gulps of air. He coughed, the inside of his throat feeling raw. The scene swam before his eyes.
Edmund was still standing. The point of a great wooden stake was sticking out of his chest. As his vision began to grow clearer, Adeline appeared out of the shadows. She stepped in front of the vampire.
"Hello, brother," She said. Her voice was heavy with tears.
"Adeline?" Edmund whispered. "Is that you?"
"I'm so sorry I had to do this to you," She said. She reached out and brushed some hair off his face. "I hope you'll see mom and dad."
Edmund continued to stare at her. Ciel felt as though he was intruding on a very private moment, but he couldn't move. Between Camille and now Edmund he was spent, his energy was totally sapped, and his entire body felt like it had been bounced down the grand staircase at the manor. Twice.
"Thank you," Edmund took a step toward Adeline, but sank to his knees. She dropped down beside him, resting her brother's head in her lap. "Thank you for saving me."
"I love you," Adeline whispered. She leaned down and kissed his forehead. "Rest easy now."
Life left Edmund's eyes soon after that. Adeline stayed still until the very end. Then she gently transferred his head to the floor and worked to pull the stake out his back. Ciel had never been so grateful for her stubbornness. If she'd been a typical lady and gone to wait in the safety of the carriage…
"Where did you get that?" He asked as she pulled the pointed bit of wood free. He was shocked at how hoarse his voice sounded.
"Undertaker," She replied.
"Undertaker?" Ciel exclaimed. "When did you go to see him?"
"This morning, before the party," Adeline replied. "After breakfast and before Elizabeth made me try on a dozen dresses. I figured it might be good to give him an update on the investigation, since he seems to be familiar with vampires. I told him we were getting ready to go after them for good and did he have anything that might help." She reached out a hand and pulled Ciel to his feet. "Oh, and he appreciates a lady's jokes as well."
The Earl gaped at her. He hadn't thought Undertaker had been all that helpful the first time they'd visited him regarding the matter, which was why he hadn't seen it important to go back. Clearly this had been a mistake. Or perhaps Undertaker had deemed to be more helpful to an apparent damsel in distress. Or he'd not forgotten how she had complimented his coffins…
"Let's go," Adeline said. "Where is that butler of yours?"
A/N: This was a very long chapter compared to any previous. I think so far only this one and one other upcoming have passed the 3k mark, but I couldn't find a good part to cut it off at without affecting the action. We will be staying with the vampires for the rest of the week's updates. It seems everyone is interested to see where things are going and I really hope that you like way things turn out. (or not, always good to have opposing viewpoints)
Chapter 26: Chapter 25
Hello to the new followers! So happy to have you join us on this journey!
Sebastian had finished setting the library ablaze, which hadn't taken any time at all. Then he'd gone in search of his young master who, as usual, had wandered off on his own. He was no doubt going to get himself into trouble and then Sebastian would be required to step in and save him. It was really very tiresome. He didn't understand why his young lord couldn't just stay near him.
He heard the commotion as he made his way through the halls. It sounded as though, as assumed, the Earl had gotten himself into a predicament. The demon knew he had the poker, but Ciel wasn't especially skilled at hand-to-hand combat against something non human, which is why he favored guns, and of course his favorite weapon, Sebastian. He took his time in moving to rescue him. Oh, he was going to of course, but it would do to let the boy squirm for a bit. Perhaps it might teach his charge to be less impulsive.
Then there was an even bigger set of crashes and exclamations followed by hushed voices. It appeared Adeline had come to the rescue.
Really, young master, needing to be saved by a lady, Sebastian thought. He had no issues with women, but the Earl's pride was sure to be bruised. Much like the rest of him by this point.
He rounded the corner to find Adeline and Ciel walking toward him, the former clutching a large stake in her hand. The butler eyed the tool with amusement. Wherever had she been hiding that all evening?
"There you are," Ciel scowled at him. "Took your sweet time, didn't you? I was almost strangled."
"My apologies, young master," Sebastian said, with a slight inclination of his head. "I assure you that no serious harm would have come to you."
"No serious harm," Ciel began, his tone icy. "That thing nearly crushed my neck!" He glanced awkwardly back at Adeline. "Sincerest apologies, my lady, I didn't mean to speak ill of your brother."
Adeline gave a small half smile. "It's alright, I know you didn't mean it that way."
"His body is back there," Ciel motioned. "Sebastian, I want you to retrieve it and meet us in the front hall. We have to go."
"Go?" Sebastian asked. He had perfect hearing and was well aware of what the Earl had said. But they couldn't go. Not yet. "My lord, the job isn't finished. If I'm not mistaken there are still two vampires left."
"I know," Ciel said. "But they're powerful, more powerful than I'd thought. Besides, Marina is sure to have fled by now. Silas would protect his daughter above anything else, especially since his wife is dead. He has probably escaped himself as well."
Sebastian wanted to tell the Earl that this wasn't true, that he could still sense both vampires in the manor, quite strongly in fact. They were going to come for them and he understood Ciel's fear. However, he was a demon, and though he would also have preferred not to deal with the vampires, it was his duty to serve and protect the young lord. The Queen had commanded his master to stop the disappearances and murders caused by the vampires (or the cannibalistic killers to her knowledge). Therefore, it fell to him to complete the task in his master's stead. Never mind the fact that he wanted nothing more than to rip Silas Beaumont apart to satisfy his own desires.
He was going to protest when Ciel narrowed his gaze.
"We're leaving. That's an order."
Sebastian nodded and stepped past the pair to go and retrieve Edmund's body, quietly seething. He knew that if he really wished to, he could ignore the young master's order. He had done so before on occasion, but not when the Earl was so serious. Demons obeyed on principle, but they were creatures prone to rebellion if the mood suited them. Still, he didn't want the young lord angry with him. He might start withholding other things…
These thoughts were driven out of Sebastian's head as he rounded the corner to find Marina Beaumont kneeling on the floor over Edmund's lifeless body. Someone, Adeline he supposed, had closed her brother's eyes. The vampire was sobbing, but she stopped immediately when she caught sight of Sebastian. Her demeanor changed entirely from one of sorrow to unparalleled rage.
"You killed him," She hissed. Her fangs were unsheathing themselves as she rose up off the floor and stalked toward him. He noted that she had at some point changed her clothing. Her dress was still that deep red color but was now sleeker, hugging her body more. It was to sort of attire a woman wore to seduce men. It also provided more freedom of movement if one planned to battle.
"No, I actually did not," Sebastian, replied. "He unfortunately had to be brought down by his own sister due to your families' careless feeding selection. Really the whole thing is quite the tragedy."
"We were happy," Marina said.
"He was a human," Sebastian said.
"He wasn't anymore," She scoffed. "He adapted to the change better than any of the rest of them. I knew he would. Besides, who are you to lecture me?"
Sebastian raised an eyebrow. "I haven't the slightest idea what you're talking about."
"Oh, no?" Maria said. She had begun to circle him the way that a predator stalks its prey. "My father told me about you. You and that little Earl you serve. The obsession you have his soul…demon…it's unhealthy."
"I believe the obsession your father has with his soul is a bit more unhealthy," Sebastian said. "I have a contract with the young master, nothing more."
"Are you trying to convince me or yourself?" Marina said, with a slight giggle. She rushed at him, claws extended. Sebastian dodged her and dealt his own blow, which she danced away from with equal dexterity.
It appeared that Marina was a force to be reckoned with. Her mother had been old, and the fledglings inexperienced, but Marina was an adolescent vampire, appearing to humans as a maid in her early twenties, but probably having celebrated only a hundred years in vampire birthdays.
Her words irritated the demon. She knew nothing about what was going on between him and the young master. He still didn't completely understand it, and he had been fully present to the whole affair since the beginning. Besides, no one knew about their relations. They had been so careful… well, except for that one time on the catwalk.
"My father is one of the most powerful vampires of the last five hundred years," Marina said. "He goes by a different name from time to time, since he can't keep on being the same person forever, and he's become acquainted with your kind many times over the years. He's killed quite a few as well. Which is what he'll do to you if I don't take care of business first."
She lunged at him again. Sebastian dodged out of the way, but not quickly enough. Her claws caught him in the shoulder and blood burst forth. He'd collected all the cutlery from the bodies of the fledglings earlier and he hurled them at Marina who avoided each and every one. Well… almost every one. One of the forks wedged in her collarbone and she screeched, the gilded fire of her eyes deepening with rage.
"I can sense you're a powerful beast too," She said, ripping the silverware from her muscles. "Or you were, before that brat made you soft."
Sebastian didn't know which made him more furious, the fact that the vampire was taunting him or what she was taunting him about. He knew she was doing it to distract him or get a rise out of him, something to help her gain the upper hand. He wasn't going to give into it. This was most unacceptable, both to his role as the young master's butler and his character as a demon. To even spare a thought toward Marina turning the bond into something ugly…
"It doesn't matter anyway," She said, smirking. "You can shortly do what you please again."
Sebastian's eyes narrowed. "I don't follow."
"I notice you've split up from your precious master," Marina said. She grinned and he could see her fangs. "So good of you to let him roam off on his own. Father is going to kill him shortly, that vile sister of my fallen lover too. Then he'll probably be happy to end things for you as well. You know, if you'd rather not live without him."
Sebastian for once had nothing to say. The young master had commanded him to recover Edmund's body and leave the manor. So that was he decided to do. He darted forward as though he were going to try lunging for Marina again. She took the bait and moved to stop him. Sebastian launched himself into the air, flipping gracefully, and Marina sailed by under him. He touched down, easily gathered up Edmund, and raced toward the foyer. He would very much have liked to kill the despicable lady, but he needed to ensure the young master's safety.
Sebastian covered the distance in no time at all. He sprinted through the still empty but now darkened ballroom, coming out on the other side into the foyer. Ciel and Adeline were waiting at the foot of the grand staircase. He hoisted Edmund higher over his shoulder and started toward them.
"What took you so long?" Ciel asked. His gaze found Sebastian's shoulder. "What happened?"
"Marina, the enchanting offspring, decided to give me a personal farewell in the hallway," Sebastian said. "Don't worry young master, 'tis but a scratch."
"Did you kill her?"
Sebastian hesitated. "Regretfully not. She proved to be the most worthy opponent I've encountered thus far tonight. I thought it best to depart."
"You ran away?" Ciel's tone was slightly disbelieving.
"I most certainly did not," Sebastian said. "She implied that your wellbeing might be in jeopardy and that is my highest priority. So I collected Edmund and came to your aid since earlier you implied that I didn't rush to your side swiftly enough."
The young master opened his mouth to say something more when Adeline gasped. The others turned to look. Silas was standing at the top of the staircase, one hand lightly gripping the ornate marble bannister.
"Leaving so soon?" He asked. He began to slowly descend the stairs, speaking merrily as though nothing of the last hour had occurred. "I thought we'd been having so much fun. You slaughtered all my pets, my beloved wife. Injured my daughter. You'd have been wise to leave when all the other guests did. Perhaps I'd have left you alone, trusted you to keep my true identity a secret. However, it appears you wanted to have another round. So…let's end this party with a bang."
Ciel nudged Adeline toward the door. "Get out. Go to the carriage."
"But—" She started to protest.
"Go!" Ciel said. He prayed that for once she would just listen. She had proved herself exceptionally useful up until that point, and that was precisely why he didn't want any harm to come to her.
"Fine," She said. "But take this."
She passed him the stake and gathered her skirts, moving toward the door as fast as they would allow. Ciel watched her go until she disappeared, gripping the sharp bit of wood in his hand. He would have to remember to thank Undertaker when this was all over.
Sebastian had laid Edmund's body on the ground once more. He stepped in front of Ciel. The Earl wondered what was going to happen next. He could feel another wave of adrenaline washing over him. He hoped that Sebastian would be able end it quickly.
"You two are an interesting pair, I must say," Silas said. He had paused halfway down the stairs and knew leaned against the bannister, an amused expression on his face. "So…how long have you known what I was?"
"Since the Viscount's party," Ciel said. "But we knew of your existence long before that. You're responsible for all those missing campers."
"Yes, the Yard did a great job of hushing that up," Silas said. "Let me snag so many more additions for my clan. It's been slowly diminishing over the years so I had to build it back up. Of course, now they're all dead and burning in the basement. Oh well, I guess I'll have to start over again."
Silas was quite deranged, Ciel had decided. To talk so casually of killing was disgusting. Those people had had lives; many of them should have had long ones ahead of them considering their age. But all of that had been torn away as soon as the vampires clamped down on their necks. Ciel understood their pain in a way; there was no long-term future for him either.
"I assume you're the one who stopped the people coming into the forest," Silas said. "I suspected someone must know what was actually going on. The smell of demon was heavy in the woods after we killed your friend's family. Pity she wasn't there as well. She'd have made an excellent candidate."
Ciel's lip curled in rage. "You'll never get your hands on Adeline!"
"Perhaps not yet," Silas said. "However, once I have put a stop to this…whatever you think you're doing, it will only be too easy."
"You're wrong, Silas," Ciel said. "I've sworn to the Queen I would deliver justice and bring an end to these attacks."
"The Queen?" Silas tilted his head, his eyes squinting slightly. Then he nodded as though he had answered a question he'd asked him self in his head. "Ah yes, I had heard talk that you were the old bird's little watch dog."
"We're going to stop you, you and your revolting daughter." The Earl pressed on. He was becoming more furious by the second, and he forced himself to remain calm.
"By having your demon attack me?" Silas asked. "I'm not afraid of him. Maybe at one point I might have been mildly worried, but he's become too attached to you. His very demon essence has been quite ruined."
"Sebastian, get him!" Ciel couldn't stand to listen to any more of this. "That's an order."
In less than ten minutes, Silas had managed to insult and degrade almost everything of significant present importance to the Earl. First the innocent children and adolescent victims, then Adeline, and the Queen and…Sebastian. Sebastian was his most capable servant, his most dangerous pawn, though he really hated to hear him say it often, Sebastian was simply one hell of a butler and there was no way that this ancient bloodsucker was going to…
Ciel watched Sebastian diving for Silas. The vampire moved with incredible speed. One moment he was on the stairs and the next he was halfway across the foyer. He landed lightly on his feet, grinning, his fangs lengthening into deadly points.
"You shouldn't start something when you don't know how it will end," Silas said. He danced away from Sebastian as the demon lunged at him again.
They fell into a sort of pattern. The fight seemed pretty evenly matched, something that Ciel didn't often see and wasn't sure how he felt about it. He was a bit worried, because he had hoped that the vampires would be weaker. There were few things that were stronger than Sebastian and that had always made him feel protected. Safe. A little bit invincible, if he dared himself to think that way.
Sebastian and Silas both were looking a little less like their normal dashing selves. Each had managed to land a couple of decent blows to the other. Ciel gripped the stake in his hand, harder and harder as he watched the battle unfolding before him. He wondered if he should toss it to Sebastian, maybe the demon could hurl it into Silas's chest like he did with the knives. But what if he missed? They only had one.
"I'm growing bored of combat, demon," Silas laughed. It was a chilling sound. "Catch me if you can."
The next thing Ciel knew, the vampire was zooming toward him. He stood, rooted to the spot. What if this was it?
He'd never thought about death when he'd been smaller. Well, smaller than he was now. He'd always thought he'd grow up to be big like his father and mother, and older still. Then he'd been brought to the cult and death had become a very real and tangible thing to him. He'd realized the fragility of his existence and all but accepted his fate, though the thirst for revenge burned within him. At that point Sebastian had entered his life, promising what he wished in exchange for his soul. No longer valuing it, he'd agreed and there had been a clear end in sight for him ever since. But now maybe that end was coming sooner than he'd thought.
Fearless as he pretended to be, he didn't actually want to look death in the face. Because even though it was clear that Silas was intent on only turning him that was a reality he didn't want any part of. It would be worse than death. He shut his eyes as he waited for the impact.
A strong wind fluttered across his face and his eyes snapped back open to see Sebastian dart in front of him. The butler grabbed Ciel and tossed him to the side with a semi-apologetic smile. The Earl flew through the air and landed with quite a hard thump on the tiles of the foyer. Pain screamed up from his already battered body, but at least he was out harm's way.
He turned, half-expecting the vampire to attempt to change direction and hurtle toward him again. Only that didn't happen. Silas continued to barrel forward and smashed into Sebastian with a sound akin to a train colliding with a brick wall. The tiles appeared to shatter out in a wide circle around the pair and the Earl's heart stopped as the cloud of dust thinned. Silas had finally gotten a good grip on Sebastian and the demon couldn't seem to shake him.
Ciel started forward. He didn't know when his feet had begun propelling him toward the pair but he was halfway across the room before he realized it. He quickened his pace as Sebastian continued to try to push the vampire's fangs away from his face. He was almost upon them when Sebastian's eyes slid away and found his own.
"Young master, no!"
Silas turned, hissing loudly. His now lemon-yellow eyes were wild and he was covered in blood. Ciel didn't think he'd seen anything so terrifying in a long time. He drove the stake into Silas' side with as much force as he could muster. The vampire grunted, running his tongue along his fangs. He released Sebastian and sprang away, landing on the staircase once more.
Why hadn't Silas died like Adeline's brother had done? Why wasn't he turning into dust like Camille? He didn't know the answers. But he knew that he had just effectively wasted their only weapon. Now Silas was going to get him.
Silas stared at the pair, his features becoming a little less sharp and vicious; a more like the deceptively handsome actor he portrayed. He raised a hand and smoothed back his hair, paused and took a curious gaze at the stake that was protruding from his side. He yanked it out without so much as a wince and considered it for a moment before tossing it away. It landed with a clatter at their feet.
"Try again, boy," He hissed. He moved to leap away but despite the apparent strength evident from his refusal to be taken down by the stake, he had been weakened.
Sebastian darted forward, grabbing at the vampire and tearing an arm from his body. Ciel watched as blood sprayed across everything, struggling not to gag as some of it rained down upon his own face. He was horrified to realize that the vampire didn't seem the least bit worried that his life was coming to an end. He was laughing maniacally, eyes blazing like twin suns. Sebastian punched his claws through the other's chest, eliciting a deep hiss from Silas, who drew back his lips, displaying his gleaming fangs.
Unlike Camille, Silas' heart was reddish and just slightly smaller than a human heart. It was pumping weakly in the gaping cavity Sebastian had torn through his ribs. He was still grinning in that unnerving way. Ciel wished that Sebastian would crush the organ and be done with it. The look the vampire was giving him was the stuff of nightmares.
"My daughter is safe," Silas rasped. "This was such a splendid party, though I had no idea it'd be my last." He glanced over at Ciel, and his grin widened. "Enjoy your butler."
Sebastian's fingers closed around the vampire's heart, bursting it as one might smash a bug under their shoe. Silas began to laugh again, his voice rising in a thundering swell as his body began to disintegrate. It was as though the other had caught fire from the inside, his skin flaking away into flecks of ash. His irises burned with that golden malice until the very last moment.
Ciel felt his legs give way as the second swell of adrenaline left him. Tonight had not gone at all how he had expected. He was bruised and bloodied and very confused. What had happened? Why had Silas just seemed to have given up? None of it made sense.
He felt the Sebastian slipping his arms around him. He lifted him off the floor and carried him toward the front door and out into the night.
"Put me down, I can walk," Ciel, protested. "We can't forget the body."
Sebastian went back in. He ripped the cloth off of one of the nearby tables and wrapped Edmund's body in it. He rejoined his master outside. The Earl had already started for the carriage.
"Forgive me, young master," Sebastian said. "I almost let you be seriously injured. I've failed my duty as your butler."
"No," Ciel shook his head, then stopped, vision swimming. His head ached and the movement caused dizziness. "I didn't think they'd be like that. You did your best under the circumstances."
He knew he was being generous. Normally he'd have been irritated with Sebastian's performance. However, at the moment he was too exhausted to care. They made their way across the lawn toward the carriage. Snake was waiting outside, Emily—or was it Oscar— poking from his collar.
Adeline raced out of the carriage the moment she saw them. "I was so worried, I thought they'd gotten you. Are you all right? You're hurt."
"We'll be fine, my lady," Sebastian said. "The young master looks worse than he is. But we must make for the townhouse at once."
Ciel crawled onto the seat. Through heavily lidded eyes he saw Adeline get back into the carriage. She sat down across from them, her face filled with worry. The horses started forward and they began to roll along.
"What happened?" Adeline was asking.
Ciel could hear Sebastian giving a very watered down version of the events. But it ended in the same way. Marina had escaped. He was annoyed with that, but he supposed it could have been worse. He felt his eyes slipping closed and struggled to keep them open. The carriage passed through the gates at the front of the townhouse and the darkness took him.
They reached the townhouse more quickly than Sebastian had expected. The young master had fallen asleep almost immediately on the journey home. The butler hated to wake him but he needed a bath and to tend to his wounds. Sebastian carried Ciel into the townhouse and up the stairs to the bathroom. He set him down on the floor against the wall, where the boy's head dropped lazily to his shoulder.
"Young master, you must wake up now," Sebastian said. "I'm running a bath."
"Mmhn," Ciel muttered. His eyes slid half-open and he regarded the demon with disdain. "Sebastian, go away, I want to sleep."
"You can sleep momentarily," Sebastian said. "But you've been hurt. We need to take care of your injuries."
Ciel groaned and pushed himself to his feet. The tub was filled with warm water. Sebastian helped him out of his clothes and into the tub, becoming a bit agitated when the bath turned a pink tinge with the young master's blood. He noted that the injuries weren't too severe. There were just minor cuts and scrapes. He was sure to be quite bruised in the days to come as well. Yes, he had been a bit too careless with his precious prize.
The Earl soaked in the bath for as long as Sebastian would let him, but he remained on the verge of drifting back to sleep, so it wasn't too long for fear of drowning. He put the Earl to bed, asking out of habit if he'd care for some tea or perhaps some warm milk.
"With honey," Ciel requested, pulling the covers to his chin.
Sebastian went to make the drink, knowing that the young master would most likely have fallen asleep before he returned. Before the bath he'd removed his soiled gloves and though he felt a bit odd not to find replacements and slip them back on, he felt a bit freer at not having to do so. He nearly forgot about Adeline's presence until he met her in the hall, quickly clasping his hands behind his back.
"Thank you for bringing Edmund back," She said. "I hope you both aren't too seriously injured."
"The young master just needs some rest," Sebastian replied. "It was no trouble at all. Goodnight, my lady."
She gave a small smile and disappeared into her room. He started for the kitchen. The rest of the townhouse was dark and quiet. It was quite late and the servants as well as Prince Soma and Agni had all gone to bed. Which suited Sebastian fine. He didn't want to deal with a barrage of questions.
He prepared the drink to his master's wishes and brought it upstairs. As suspected, the Earl had already passed out once more. He left the cup on the nightstand and went to go and tidy the bathroom. He sighed softly and began to pick up the towels. Why was everything always such a mess?
Sebastian was straightening up the medical supplies left strewn around the sink when the spasm of pain wracked his body. It was so sudden, so unexpected that he had to grip the basin to steady himself. As quickly as the moment had come, it passed. He glanced up at his reflection in the mirror. His normally handsome face looked much more exhausted than it ever had. He frowned.
The demon undid his tie and stripped off his shirt, which was quite tattered and stained, letting the garment fall in a crumpled ball on the floor. He leaned forward again, pulling aside his hair. There on the left side of his neck was the mark, a perfect imprint of Silas' fangs.
Sebastian wasn't surprised. He'd known the vampire had bitten him during the battle. It happened just after he had pushed the young master out of the way. That had been Silas's goal all along, he suspected. The question was why. He didn't know much about demon and vampire interactions, preferring to avoid the other entirely, but he was fairly sure that a demon couldn't be turned.
He hadn't mentioned it to the Earl since he didn't know what the reaction would be, and frankly didn't want to cause his charge any more undue stress. He knew, though the boy had been surprisingly diplomatic about it, that Ciel was frustrated with the vampire's escape. He was as well, for he had hoped that they could place this investigation behind them.
The demon blinked, concentrating hard, and tilted his head. The mark had vanished. He touched it experimentally and drew back. Though it was physically gone, he could still feel it, and the skin was tender. This was unusual. Ordinarily once he vanished injuries, they ceased to cause him pain. It appeared this was not going to be the case.
Sebastian tried to push the thought from his mind and he resumed cleaning the bathroom. It was impossible, though Silas was a pureblood, and as his daughter had proclaimed, a very powerful vampire. Still, he didn't have the power to change what Sebastian was. Demons couldn't become vampires. It. Was. Impossible.
Another wave of discomfort rippled over his body and he coughed violently. When he took his hand from his mouth, it was flecked with red. His eyes narrowed. Perhaps it was more serious than he had first thought.
He exited the bathroom and poked his head into Ciel's room. He was surprised to see the young master sitting up and sipping at the milk. He raised his eyes to Sebastian.
"What's the matter?" He asked. "And what happened to your shirt?"
"I was just on my way to change it, my lord," Sebastian said. He noticed how the Earl's eyes settled on his bare chest. Much as he'd have liked to indulge, now was not the time. "I am glad to see that your milk didn't go to waste."
Ciel took another drink. "It's good. Thank you."
"It was no trouble at all," Sebastian replied. "Go back to sleep soon. Good night, young master."
He shut the door and made his way down the hall toward his room. Once he'd pulled his clothes back on he felt more in order, but his mind was still disorganized. Demons didn't require sleep, but he had the greatest urge to lie down. Perhaps the battle had taken more of a toll on him than he had first thought. Or perhaps it was something else, something he didn't fully understand.
A/N: I can just hear everyone coming for me now, but I thought it would be an interesting twist. I will miss Silas, he was fun to write even if he wasn't in it much. But he had to go.
Ciel awoke the next morning feeling as though he had been slammed repeatedly against a brick wall. Every single one of his muscles felt tightly coiled, like springs rusted into place. He sat up in bed; his head pounding and the room swam before him. He flopped back on the pillows, eyes squinting at the sunlight seeping into the room as Sebastian drew back the curtains.
"Close those," He groaned, flinging an arm over his face.
"Young master, it's time to wake up," Sebastian said. "You have a busy day ahead."
"Doing what?" Ciel asked. He couldn't imagine anything that could be so important it needed to be tended to immediately, outside of the vampire of course. That matter, though vital, was not going to be taken care of today. He was going to rest and that was final.
Sebastian began to speak but Ciel barely heard him. He was not interested in studies or lessons, or managing the company. Not for the day at least.
Sebastian was silent for a moment and Ciel suspected that he had cut him off in the middle of a sentence though he hadn't been listening to anything that had been said for the last two minutes.
"Pardon, young master?"
"I said no," Ciel repeated. "Shut the curtains. I want to rest today."
Sebastian regarded him for a few moments, and then he bowed and moved to draw the drapes. Ciel sighed as the bright sunshine was once against shut away and the room dimmed. It felt much better on his tired eyes. Now if only the rest of his body would feel the same way.
"Do you care to have any breakfast, my lord?" Sebastian asked. "This morning I've prepared kippered herring with poached eggs and—"
"Not yet," Ciel said. "Come here."
The butler hesitated for only a second before he crossed the room. The Earl knew he would. Sebastian had learned what to expect when he requested this. Ciel pulled the demon into his bed, wrapping his arms around the older man's slender frame.
"Young master, you really shouldn't stay in bed," Sebastian commented.
"Shouldn't I?" Ciel whispered. "I imagine I could stay in here all day with you."
The Earl tightened his hold and his lips found Sebastian's neck. He had quickly come to realize that this was one of the demon's most sensitive spots and so he often gravitated towards it. He sucked on the flesh for a few moments before he used his teeth, teasing a little and then fully biting down. Sebastian groaned and the Earl pressed down harder, wanting to draw more from the demon.
"You quite enjoy that, don't you?" Ciel asked as he pulled back slightly, running his tongue along the reddened skin. "Don't want me to get out of bed now, hmm?"
Sebastian responded by pinning Ciel down against the sheets. His hold was gentle. "You really shouldn't let your breakfast go to waste."
The Earl could tell by the glint in the demon's eyes that he was only half-serious about the statement. He smirked himself, and pulled his arms out of Sebastian's grip. He moved forward and straddled the other's lap, bringing his lips close to the butler's ear. "Maybe I wish to do something else this morning."
Ciel knew that would make Sebastian forget whatever annoying things he was going to tell him. He didn't want to go to lessons, or deal with his company, or spare one more thought about those damn vampires. He knew that it was naïve to hope that Marina had simply fled and wouldn't come back. She would return and she would be even more of a pain than before, considering Sebastian had slaughtered all but her.
Sebastian wrapped his arms around the Earl as the boy worked on his shirt, hurriedly undoing the buttons. Ciel enjoyed the feeling of being held. The demon's arms were slender but strong, and one of the first things Ciel had noticed that he found attractive when they had begun having regular relations.
He pushed the shirt off Sebastian's shoulders, taking in the pale chiseled skin and moving forward to cover every inch he could with his lips, teeth, and tongue. He had learned a lot over the last couple of months, though he knew that there was more.
There was still one last, big thing that they hadn't yet done. He'd read about it, but the book only offered information on contact between a man and a lady, and though he had found that a bit fascinating as well, it obviously wasn't helpful. So he'd eventually had to ask Sebastian to explain the finer points of how that would work between them and immediately wished he hadn't. He felt as though his face might melt off from embarrassment, and Sebastian had thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing as he described in great detail, watching the Earl become more uncomfortable and squirmy by the second, but in the end Ciel had been curious to try it. Eventually.
Of course he was withholding that information from the demon, but that didn't mean he didn't enjoy doing other things. Only something seemed a bit different about Sebastian that morning. Normally he was a lot more enthusiastic. Perhaps he was still tired from the previous night's events as well, though Sebastian didn't need sleep and he always seemed to have unlimited energy. Regardless, the incidents of the previous night had left everyone a bit shaken.
Ciel sighed. He drew Sebastian down onto the bed with him, letting the demon's arms slip around him and settling into them.
"My lord?" Sebastian asked after a moment.
"Don't speak," Ciel said. He nestled further against the demon's chest. Sebastian's skin was warm, a bit warmer than normal, and Ciel wondered if his butler could adjust his body temperature at will. It was something he wouldn't put past him; Sebastian was always full of random skills.
"I want to sleep a while longer," Ciel said. "Then I want you to go take Adeline and Edmund's body to Undertaker. Let her pick out whatever she wishes for the burial, spare no expense."
Sebastian didn't say anything, but Ciel knew he was listening. The Earl ran his fingers down the arm wrapped around his waist. He never shared a bed with anyone other than his parents, and that was so long ago. There had been that one time with Sir Arthur, when he'd been accused of murder, and Doll at the circus, but this was entirely different. Sebastian was what made it different.
He caught sight of Sebastian's hand, entranced by the shininess of his nails. The Earl sighed, running his fingers over the contract seal and then threading them with Sebastian's own. He was so tired and if he really dwelt on it, a little afraid that the vampire would come back. However, being there, in the quiet of the morning with the demon, he felt oddly safe. And that was something he wanted to hold on to for as long as he could.
Sebastian could never remember having cuddled with anyone. Ever. He was sure that there probably had been the odd maiden here or there who might have tried to get him to remain after the deed had been done, but he'd always declined and disappeared, never to be seen again. That was how he liked it. Being this way with the Earl was very odd, but as much as he wanted to, he couldn't bring himself to dislike it.
Even though he was a demon, he'd always been different than other demons and he supposed that this was part of the problem. Perhaps Silas was right and he had become soft, though he would never admit that to anyone. He couldn't be sure if it had happened over time, or if it was something that had always been inside him, lying just beneath the surface, waiting to rise up.
First and foremost, demons were creatures of darkness and trickery. They desired souls and didn't much care how they obtained them. Maybe it had something to do with the Earl. He'd never experienced a connection like the one he now shared with any of his previous contractors, or indeed anyone in general, within Hell or on the surface. It was frankly alarming and something he wasn't quite sure how he felt about. This was completely out of character for a demon. He wasn't supposed to care for his charge, outside of making sure they didn't get too ruined before it was time to collect payment. But he did and it made him uneasy.
In a way he was relieved to just have to lie in the bed. He had awoken from his unexpected rest the night before not feeling any better. He supposed that whatever toxins Silas's fangs had infected him with were simply working their way through his system. It wasn't pleasant but he imagined that it would soon clear up. At least he hoped so; it was causing him to become uncomfortable and hypersensitive. Earlier, when the Earl had bitten him it had hurt, and not in a good way. Sebastian was not opposed to pain, but this had been unusual.
For the second time, he found his eyes slipping closed. The Earl had dropped right off to sleep again; his small body nestled against Sebastian's. The demon sighed softly. He supposed that there were worse ways to be spending his morning, even if breakfast was getting cold.
Later, they awoke and Sebastian dressed the Earl, trying not to think about how far behind schedule they were. But, he reasoned, the Earl had decided that there was no schedule that day, so therefore, they were neither late nor early. He prepared the lunch, feeling himself moving a bit slower than usual, but still more quickly than a human.
The young master had declined visiting Undertaker, so Sebastian set off alone with Adeline. The girl was uncharacteristically silent, but the demon knew that death was hard on humans. Besides, he wasn't in the mood for chatting. He had other things on his mind.
They reached the shop in what seemed like no time at all. Adeline went in while he unloaded Edmund's body.
"I wanted to thank you so much for helping us out," She was saying when he entered.
"Was no trouble at all, dearie," Undertaker replied. He caught sight of Sebastian. "Ah, if it isn't the butler. Where's the Earl?"
"He decided to stay home today," Sebastian replied. "He had some urgent business to attend to."
"Pity, I should have liked to see him," Undertaker said. He glanced at the body. "You brought a guest?"
"My brother," Adeline said. "Your—your gift helped me give him peace. The Earl told me to come…pick out something for him."
"I understand that you don't care for the Queen's coin," Sebastian said. He produced a bag of money that they Earl had given him. "However, the Earl insisted that the lady select whatever she desired and he'd fully prepared to pay for—"
"No," Undertaker waved him away. "Even if I took currency, she wouldn't have to pay. Go on, choose what you wish."
Adeline moved to look at the coffins, her expression thoughtful. Sebastian waited, thoroughly wishing that the Earl had sent Adeline alone. He was…tired. That didn't seem correct but it was the only way to describe how he was feeling.
"So, you had yourselves a little run-in with the vampires," Undertaker said. He was crunching on some of those strange bone-shaped biscuits he was fond of. "That must have been interesting. How did you make out?"
"We dealt with most of them," Sebastian said. "A couple proved to be a little more difficult."
"That's purebloods for you," Undertaker replied. He glanced over at Adeline. "Are you finding anything you like?"
Adeline nodded. She indicated a black coffin with purple silk lining. "This one."
"An excellent choice," Undertaker grinned. "Alright, I'll begin the preparations immediately. You can come back tomorrow. I'll have everything ready."
Adeline paused. She looked over at Sebastian and cleared her throat. "Would you mind if I stayed?" She shifted her eyes toward Undertaker. "That is, if that's alright?"
"It is a bit of an odd request, but why not?" Undertaker said. "It's not often I find a lady interested in my work. Butler, you can leave her here, I'll send her back in a carriage. Tell the Earl to come see me soon. I suspect he might have need of my services in the near future."
Sebastian didn't ask him to elaborate on this. The Undertaker was bizarre and the less he had to deal with him the better. Adeline could stay if she fancied. He wanted to get back to the manor. It was time to get started on dinner and perhaps he could find a few moments to relax again, odd, as it was to desire that. He bid the lady and Undertaker goodbye and returned to the manor.
The butler had barely walked through the door when the pain started again, the same as before. He tried to ignore it and made his way toward the study. The Earl had said he was going to try to formulate a plan to track down Marina. He was quite sure that the vampire would be the one to track them down when they time came, but he hadn't said so. The young master liked to be in control.
He knocked tentatively and waited. A voice called from the other side, giving him permission to enter. The demon swept into the study. Ciel was behind the desk, an array of papers strewn about as usual. He glanced up as Sebastian drew closer, frowning.
"How did it go at the funeral parlor?" He asked.
"Interesting," Sebastian said, because that was the only way to put what had happened. "She selected a coffin and then decided to wanted she to stay for the evening."
Ciel raised an eyebrow. "Stay? Like…with Undertaker?"
"Apparently so," Sebastian said. He still didn't understand it either. "She seems to have taken a liking to him."
"That's unusual," Ciel replied. He shrugged. "Did he say anything else?"
"Nothing of great importance," Sebastian said. "He does want you to visit him soon however. Says you may be in need of his assistance."
"It's possible," Ciel pushed back from the desk and made his way from the room. "Things are never quiet for long in London's underbelly."
A/N: And so the journey continues. We are more than halfway done with this story at this point. It ended up being just a bit shorter than I thought it was going to be in terms of chapters, but I felt the point where it ends is good, otherwise it would have felt draggy. Thanks to all of my lovely followers, lovers, and reviewers.
Ciel sighed and rubbed his burning eyes. Maybe Sebastian had been right and too much sleep would affect his entire day. Not that he would ever say the demon was right about anything of the sort. Still, he hadn't felt rested all day. Perhaps the adrenaline had been so strong the night before he was still catching up.
Adeline had phoned to say that she wasn't going to be home for dinner. Ciel assumed that she was still with Undertaker as it had been Sebastian who had taken the call, and he hadn't asked him to elaborate. He wondered what they were having since he'd never seen the funeral director eat anything except those strange bone-shaped biscuits he was so fond of.
"I think we should look into going back to the manor," Ciel said. "Now that the play is over, Silas is dead, and his daughter has fled for the moment, there isn't any urgent need for us to stay in London."
"Of course, young master," Sebastian said.
"I think that would be best," Ciel said. "We can always return if anything happens, but I'd feel more comfortable back at the main manor."
Even though he and Sebastian had just been there two nights' previous, it had been a quick visit. He felt more at ease when he was in the main house.
"I'm not sure what Adeline's plans are," Ciel continued. "Based on what I know of her though she has no other family, or at least none that live nearby. She can continue to stay here until she gets back on her feet, which will hopefully be soon. Agni and Prince Soma will look after her I'm sure."
"I have no doubt of that," Sebastian said. "You don't suppose…that she has developed feelings for Undertaker, do you?"
Ciel considered this. It was a little sudden if she had, outside of that day; she'd only met with him twice. And Undertaker was bizarre. He couldn't imagine him being in a courtship at all, let alone with someone as vivacious as Adeline. Still, he supposed anything was possible.
"He did help us out with the vampires," Ciel said. "And she did seem rather interested in his work."
"A fair point," Sebastian replied. "I suppose stranger things have happened."
Ciel wondered if Sebastian meant them, but he pushed the thought away. That was entirely different. But he wondered if their suspicions were true, and Adeline had chosen to remain for the evening because she fancied Undertaker. If only he and Sebastian could have something so simple, instead of the intricate maze they were currently navigating. He supposed, however, that affairs between two humans were much less complex than those of a human and a demon.
The Earl glanced over at the demon. "I've come to the conclusion that it will be near impossible to track down Marina. Now that her father is dead and she's fully aware that we are after her, I doubt that she'll be doing anything for a while except lurking in the shadows. Even if we could find her we're in no condition to deal with her. She appears more powerful than I'd imagined and that is a problem. So we're going to need to reevaluate our plan of attack in the coming weeks."
"Understood, sir," Sebastian said, bowing low. "If there isn't anything else, I should like to take my leave. Dinner will be ready shortly."
Ciel nodded and watched his butler depart. He really wished that he had had more to show for his hours of mulling over the situation. However, this couldn't be helped. There was simply no other way. He supposed that they could strike out wildly in hopes of defeating Marina, but he knew that would be irresponsible. And though, he wouldn't speak it out loud, part of him didn't want to put Sebastian in harm's way again. He knew the demon could hold his own against anything, but this had been the first time he'd seen a chink in the armor. And that worried him.
He let his thoughts drift back to that morning. It had been an unexpected pleasure, snoozing until the late hours of the morning settled against the demon's warmth. It was certainly nothing he had ever thought to try before, but now that he had, he wanted more. This would be more easily accomplished at the manor as well. There would be fewer chances for people to barge in on them.
Sebastian came to collect him for dinner a short time later. He sat down and half-listened while Sebastian explained the finer points of the meal; lamb with mint jelly, creamed carrots and boiled rice, with cranberry bread pudding with lemon-ginger sauce for dessert. It was all tasty as usual, and Ciel ate but found himself studying the butler during the meal.
Sebastian was performing his duties flawlessly as ever, but the Earl sensed there was something off. He had noticed it earlier too, but had brushed it off as fatigue. This was still odd to him, since he hadn't thought the butler could experience as such. Perhaps he was imagining things.
"I'll be glad to be going home," Ciel commented as he climbed into bed that night.
"I quite agree, my lord," Sebastian replied. "It would do to have some semblance of normalcy restored."
"What is normal?" Ciel asked. "Normal for us, I mean."
Sebastian came over to the bed and leaned down, brushing the Earl's hair back from his eyes. Ciel smiled slightly at the touch. "That's a difficult question to answer. I imagine we're still figuring it out."
They left the next morning for the manor and Sebastian had to admit he was quite relieved. Breakfast had been satisfactory. There was a bit of a chill in the air; autumn was in the air and winter wasn't far behind. He knew the Earl hated cold, but he didn't dislike the season. He always counted it a small miracle if he made it to another birthday, not that fourteen was really anything to celebrate.
He knew his charge would have felt a lot more in a celebratory mood in general if he were returning to the manor with the investigation entirely behind him. However, they didn't have that luxury. Marina was still at large somewhere in the world. The pair knew that they probably wouldn't see a trace of her until people started to go missing again.
Ciel had left a letter for Adeline explaining to her where they had gone if she ever made it back to the townhouse. In it he'd explained their position, that they'd come back at once if anything happened, and he had wished her luck with Undertaker. He didn't understand that one at all, but he supposed to each their own. If anything, perhaps the strange silver-haired man might give her a job in his shop. That would at least alleviate part of her hardship.
"I'm quite glad to be back," Ciel had said as he disembarked from the carriage. The demon had quietly agreed.
Things only continued to get worse for Sebastian as the days passed. It had been about two weeks since the events at the Beaumont Estate. The manor had been so thoroughly burned that no traces of what had happened had been uncovered. Ciel had told the Queen that he believed that Silas might have some connections to those missing campers, but he was confident that the most serious of threats had passed. He knew the young master hated to lie to the Queen, but they didn't know when Marina would come back to seek her revenge.
Sebastian had found his condition deteriorating by the day, if not by the hour. He struggled to remain his impeccable self and that he was still accomplishing, but he found it more and more difficult to remain impassive. He had no aversion to pain, but this was unlike any he'd experienced so far. It was as though this constant ache had settled deep within the center of his very bones, needling when he least expected it.
Relations with the young master had also become less enjoyable. He pressed through it because despite the fact that it was becoming uncomfortable to be touched, underneath that it felt good and was still what he wanted. The worst was when the Earl paid any attention to his neck, the site of where Silas's fangs had pricked him. He ignored it, knowing that if he declined, it would arouse suspicion. And he didn't want Ciel to know.
Still…he knew that eventually he might become unfit to fulfill his duties as butler, and he wondered what would happen then. What would become of him? Would he even be a demon anymore, or something else?
Sebastian had been alive for a long time, but given the animosity between demons and vampires, the two often did their best to stay out of one another's way. He knew he certainly would have if this particular clan hadn't intersected with his master's work. Dead humans made little difference to him.
As such, there was little to no information regarding demon's clashing with vampires. Most of the time, one or the other party ended up dead. The result was always gruesome and bloody as either tried to inflict as much pain and damage as they could to the other. He had never heard of a vampire attempting to turn a demon, or of a demon becoming a vampire. He didn't even think it were possible, which explained why his body was reacting so poorly. It was attempting to assimilate to the change and appeared to be failing.
It was extremely shameful what had happened to him. What he had allowed himself to happen. He understood of course, that he had had a choice. He could have let Silas take the young master; he could have spared himself this predicament. Ciel hadn't even commanded him to come to his aid, but he'd been compelled to do so. Not because of the contract, but something deeper than that.
He spent more and more of his time resting often with Ciel, which was again unusual, but he did find that the Earl responded well to this. The younger didn't seem to mind this new stance on being idle. It irked Sebastian in a way to be so unproductive, especially since his to-do list ran endlessly through his mind, even when he was doing nothing, but sometimes he just found himself uncharacteristically exhausted. He reasoned that he would appear less so if the activity itself wasn't too taxing.
At least, I won't have to grow fangs, he thought. This was true; he was already more than well endowed in that department.
However, he found himself proved wrong once more at dinner, where in the middle of serving the dessert he found a sudden stabbing agony inside his mouth. He ignored it as best as he could until he'd set the Gâteau au Chocolat in front of the Earl and then excused himself.
Grateful that sweets would distract his master from almost anything, he hastily made his way to the nearest mirror. He examined the interior of his mouth, noting that his fangs were all still in place, perfectly straight, sharp, and white. But now there were more of them, protruding from the gums above those already there. These were different, slightly cone shaped, tapering, long and sharp like icepicks. They poked at the inside of his cheeks and lips, drawing blood.
Then, as quickly as they had appeared, the fangs began to disappear, retracting back into his gums like a cat's claws retract back into its paws. The pain ebbed to a dull ache and Sebastian let out a heavy sigh. This was getting ridiculous. Perhaps he would yank all the teeth out if they dared to surface again. He swallowed the blood and went back to the dining room.
Sebastian stood there, wondering how long it would take before the change became permanent. The other thought on his mind was whether the young master would invite him into bed again that night. He'd done his best to keep activities light for the most part that week, but Ciel now had a habit of asking if he'd like to stay with him as he had that first morning after the battle at the Beaumont Estate. Though he'd been a little confused at first, he had grown to feel a certain enjoyment at embracing the Earl as he slept. Given everything that was happening, he felt a certain comfort in staying close to the other. He knew how quickly it would disappear if his condition surfaced.
Ciel finished his dessert and declared he wanted to go to bed early. Sebastian followed up the stairs, toward the bathroom, noticing a soft rushing noise in his ears. He couldn't remember when it had started, but it refused to go away, even when he shook his head and cleaned his ears. Maybe he had left a window open somewhere; it was windy and his demon hearing quite sensitive.
Sebastian ran the bath and undressed the Earl, hoping that the fangs wouldn't reappear. That had been the first real physical change to occur, and he found it worrisome. He found the soap and began to wash Ciel's hair. He paused halfway through, considering something, then leaned forward and pressed a kiss against the young master's damp neck.
Ciel sat up a bit straighter in the water, and he turned to look at Sebastian his eyes widened slightly. Sebastian drew back with despair clouding his mind. The rushing noise was even louder now and as he stared back at the Earl he knew exactly what it was. It was the sound of his master's blood as it pumped through his veins.
Sebastian finished the bath quickly and put the Earl to bed, shutting out the curtains and leaving the room with the briefest of goodnights. He had realized that if he concentrated on the sound he could almost feel the heartbeat of his master inside himself. It was odd and vibrated throughout his very being. He'd had to get away though the sounds didn't stop, and he became aware of others as well as he passed Tanaka in the hall. Different blood patterns and heartbeats. And it all sounded heavenly.
A/N: Thank you to all my lovely readers. It's Thanksgiving here, so I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday. If you are one of my awesome peeps not from the USA, of which I am excited to have many, I hope you have a pleasant day as well.
Ciel was incredibly bored. He had done so much work that morning that his brain now felt like jelly. Sebastian had been assigning him all sorts of lessons, some really pointless and obscure things that he was sure that he would never actually need in his life. He knew why the butler was doing it; he wanted to keep the Earl's mind off of the lack of activity to suggest Marina had resurfaced. He had to admit that it was helping a bit, but it also exhausted him. He sighed and rested his head on the desk, wondering what he should ask Sebastian to make for dinner.
He'd had to pay more attention to the company now that he was back as well. He'd been neglecting the ledgers for weeks and he hadn't toured any of the factories in quite some time. He did these things, seeking to fill his days with something, hoping to give himself a sense that he was accomplishing something.
Elizabeth had been around as well. Ciel cared for her, but he was not in love with her. At least not in the way she seemed to be in love with him. It hadn't occurred to him before, but he didn't want to be with her the way that he was with Sebastian. This created a problem since she was his betrothed. And even if she hadn't been there was no way that he could be with Sebastian. He was a servant, and besides that he was a man, never mind the demon business. Everything about their union was exceptionally wrong and yet he couldn't bring himself to care. He did know however that would be dire consequences if they were discovered, so he continued to play his part as the fiancé.
Earl. Fiancé. Maybe he could have been an actor in another life. He certainly was convincing when he needed to be. He knew eventually he would have to break things off with someone, but whether it would be Elizabeth or Sebastian he couldn't say. Privately, he knew the answer, but he tried to convince himself otherwise, even as he found himself glancing at Sebastian as he had tea with Lizzie.
Now he had done all of his work for the day and he was bored and tired. He'd learned nothing interesting and the underworld of London had been exceptionally silent. Of course there was the odd crime here and there but nothing that was worthy of the Guard Dog's attention. He had others he could send in his stead if he really wished to get involved.
There was a knock at the study door. Ciel sat up and composed himself. "Enter."
Sebastian slithered around the door, pushing the teacart. "Good afternoon, young master. I've brought you your tea. I've prepared some of your favorite Earl Gray as well as some hazelnut shortbread cookies." He glanced over at the books and papers. "I trust your work is going well?"
"It's going splendidly," Ciel replied with a sarcastic frown. "I've all finished for today."
"Excellent, sir," Sebastian said, stirring in some sugar. "I am sure that your young mind will be further enlightened with all this newfound knowledge."
"I'll enlighten you," Ciel rolled his eyes. "Anyway, what have you been up to? Anything of interest to report?"
"Not in particular," Sebastian said. "Still no sign of the vampire. I've been tending to things at the manor as well."
"We've been here for three weeks now," Ciel said. "I should think that should be all taken care of by now?"
"Not necessarily," Sebastian said. "New issues arise on the daily."
Ciel supposed he meant the servants. He knew the demon was right of course; they weren't really the most skillful bunch, but what they lacked in housekeeping skills they made up for in fighting skills. So he kept them around. That and they annoyed Sebastian and that brought him a little amusement.
"Very well," Ciel nodded. He was on to the next topic.
"We had a call from Lady Adeline," Sebastian said. "Seems things have worked out well for her at Undertaker's shop. The customers like her and he enjoys her because he doesn't have to deal with them."
"Glad to see things have turned in her favor," Ciel said. He was glad for the girl, she had deserved to have light smile upon her again, but he couldn't help feeling a slight twinge of jealousy. Why must the things he desired be so easy for other people?
He pushed back from the desk and strode for the door. "Anyway, I think I am going to the library to read until dinner," He said. "I'll finish my tea in there."
Sebastian followed him, pushing the cart.
The Earl meant what he said. He stayed in a comfy chair within the library for the remainder of the evening until the butler came back and called him to dinner. It was filled with rich, hot foods, which did well to combat the chilling air that was rattling the windowpanes from outside. He shivered just staring out at the rapidly setting sun. Shorter days and longer nights were not always something he looked forward to.
Sebastian set about cleaning the bathroom later that night once the Earl had gone to bed. He'd shut the door just in time too, as the fangs had decided to make an appearance. They were still unpleasant but he'd learned to deal with the ache they caused. He knew it would soon be over, and sure enough, they disappeared, sliding back into nothingness once again.
The symptoms were becoming more frequent the last couple of days and he was worried that soon he wouldn't be able to hide the truth of his condition any longer. He knew technically he shouldn't keep secrets from the Earl, but it wasn't a lie. He didn't know how the other would react. In truth, he still fully didn't understand what was happening to him.
The worst part was the sudden thirst for blood. That had appeared suddenly two days before while he was dressing the Earl. While he'd been more in tune with the sounds of blood and heartbeats, the taste was an unwelcome addition, and he'd had to use every ounce of self-control not to sink his teeth into his master's flesh. He'd finished the task at had a little more stiffly than usual and hurried to put the final touches on breakfast.
Since then he'd become aware of it, a dull burning in the back of his throat. It was slightly annoying, but more tolerable than some of the other indications he'd had to deal with. But he was not going to feed on his young master, at least not yet, and certainly not of his blood.
Between all of these things, the transformation was an almost constant attack on his senses. He hated it and wished that it would pass soon, though he was pretty sure that he still had a long ride ahead.
He'd all but ceased any intimate activities with the Earl after the desire for blood had surfaced. The boy had tried to initiate them of course and Sebastian would allow it for a few minutes but he artfully slipped away before anything got too involved.
The demon stared at himself in the mirror over the sink as he cleaned it. He felt absolutely wretched, but was pleased to note that he didn't appear so on the surface. The last thing he needed to look physically drained. Then the Earl would discover this…this secret.
Part of what had held him back from mentioning anything was that he didn't know what the Earl's reaction would be. He imagined that his young lord would be disgusted by this problem. It would certainly not befit an Earl to have a vampire for a servant. Of course, it didn't really befit him to have a demon either, but at least Sebastian was more sophisticated than…
A fresh wave of pain gripped Sebastian's limbs. He didn't understand why it was so painful to become a vampire. Maybe it wasn't that way for everyone; maybe this was different because of what he was. They'd not bothered to ask any of the victims questions at the Beaumont Estate. Victim…Sebastian supposed he was one of those too.
His nails elongated, sprouting into claws, and he raked them down the wall, watching the paper curl into thin ribbons, gouging deep scratches into the plaster beneath. He observed it for a few moments, registering what he had done and sighed inwardly.
I shall have to fix that later, He thought. Actually, perhaps sooner than later, before the young master sees it in the morning.
He wondered if they had the supplies to repair the wall, and if there was perhaps any wallpaper left. Not that it would be any difficult task for a butler such as he. He knew this and yet he felt distant from the part of himself.
Before he could give this any more thought, Sebastian found himself overcome by one of the violent coughing fits that had periodically plagued him since that first fateful night. Usually they dispelled after a few moments but this one continued, and coupled with the uncharacteristic queasiness that had settled in his stomach, he found himself leaning forward and vomiting a great deal of blood onto the floor. It splattered across the tiles and he stared at it, appalled. This was not befitting of anyone demon, vampire, or otherwise.
And now there is another mess I shall have to clean, Sebastian thought. Why does everything have to become so dirty? It ruins the picturesque aesthetic of the lord's house. He'll be most displeased.
Sebastian hated what was happening and he hated the vampire who had done it to him. He knew he had no one to blame but himself. He could have let the Earl get taken, maybe nothing heinously bad would have happened to him. Silas meant to add him to his clan, but maybe he wouldn't have done it right away. The demon smashed the mirror above the sink in anger, knowing that it wouldn't have mattered what the outcome had been. If Ciel were in danger he would have saved him. No matter what it cost.
He vomited more blood, and Sebastian sank to the floor, wishing that everything would just stop. He'd never experienced anything like this before. The room was spinning.
There was a dull thud to his left and he vaguely registered the bathroom door banging open. He turned toward it, eyes widening in horror as he found the Earl standing there, gun drawn, his own face showing equal shock. He watched his young master quickly evaluating the scene, as he might view a murder site; mismatched eyes flicking from the claw marks in the wall, to the smashed mirror, the puddle of blood, and finally to Sebastian, hunched and splattered with red in the middle of the room.
The demon wished he could curl up and disappear into the floor. This was astoundingly embarrassing, and not a position he'd ever wanted anyone to see him in, least of all his young master. He'd always strived to be the flawless butler: unshakable, strong, perfect. He wanted to avert his eyes and not meet the Earl's own, but he couldn't look away.
"Dear god," Ciel whispered hoarsely, lowering the gun. He shut the door behind him and moved further into the room, brows knitting in confusion. "What is happening to you?"
A/N: And so the plot thickens... Everyone seems to have a different theory about what's going to become of Sebastian and curious to know how Ciel reacts to this new situation. I have enjoyed reading all the guesses. Hopefully the story pans out in a satisfactory way.
Ciel forced himself to move forward, even though he was quite terrified. He'd been on the verge of slipping into deeper sleep when a commotion had punctuated the stillness. He'd rolled over and tried to get comfortable again, but they kept happening. This was unusual. Sebastian always insisted on quiet in the manor so he could get his much-needed rest. Even if there was business that might need to be taken care of in a less gentle way, it was always accomplished with the utmost care and quiet. He never knew about intruders until the next morning because they were dealt with swiftly.
This wasn't coming from outside the manor, however, but inside. He'd heard thumps and the shattering of glass and then horrible sounds that were the unmistakable noises of someone being sick. It was at that point that he sat up, listening intently, then scrambled out of bed and gone out the door to investigate.
What he'd found in the bathroom was not a sight he'd ever thought he'd witness. The figure in the middle of the room looked like Sebastian, but there was something different about him as well. He looked exhausted. And there was blood all over his shirt. And the tile. Ciel glanced again at the wallpaper that now resembled the skin of an orange, curling in pale strips toward the floor.
"Sebastian," He said. He set the gun on the edge of the sink, ignoring the tinkling of the shattered mirror and moved closer toward the demon. "Sebastian what's wrong with you?"
"It's not an answer you're going to like," Sebastian replied softly.
"I don't care," Ciel said. "Tell me, that's an order."
The demon held his gaze and then looked away. "I confess I am still a bit perplexed on the matter as well. At the root of it though, when Silas Beaumont and I engaged in combat he bit me with the intent to turn me and now it appears that his goal may be coming to fruition in some form."
"Can demons become vampires?" Ciel knelt down and settled himself on the tiles near Sebastian. "That doesn't seem possible."
"I am starting to think it might be," Sebastian said. "Or if anything it's just meshing horribly wrong with my current anatomy."
"How long has this been going on?"
"Almost immediately," Sebastian said. "Though it seems to have become increasingly worse as time has passed. However, tonight is the first time it's reached this caliber."
Ciel was silent for a moment, lost in thought. He couldn't pretend that he hadn't suspected something was off with the demon but he had always dismissed it as a result of something else. Now that he could see what had been really going on, everything was quite obvious.
"I assumed something was amiss," Ciel said. He leaned toward the demon. "You've become very sensitive during relations, particularly here." He reached out and placed his finger on Sebastian's neck. He applied moderate pressure and the demon winced involuntarily. "See that normally wouldn't happen."
"I will confess it has become slightly less enjoyable," Sebastian said.
Ciel didn't know what to do about the situation. It appeared that whatever spasm Sebastian had been having was over for now. He wondered if there would be any way to prepare for the next one, because he wasn't naïve enough to believe this was going to be an isolated incident.
"Why didn't you tell me at once?" Ciel asked.
"I don't imagine it would have made any difference if I had," Sebastian said. "I've been managing it fine up until this point and you'd just have been inconvenienced longer. I'm handling the matter."
"I can see that," Ciel said. He sighed. "How long do you have?"
"You heard me, how long until the change is complete?"
"I am unsure," Sebastian admitted. "There's little to nothing on the subject of a demon being turned, but in humans it varies both on the strength of the human, and the power of the vampire who turned them. Not all adapt to the change."
It was quite obvious that the demon had been too proud to reveal his condition to the Earl. Ciel understood this; he hadn't wanted anyone to know about his poor health effects either. But just as his asthma had surfaced at the circus, Sebastian's ailment had come to light. He wondered if perhaps the other had also kept silent because he'd wondered if Ciel would no longer wish for him to be his butler. This was absurd of course; there was no one else who could fulfill the post as Sebastian did.
"Let's go," Ciel said. He rose from the floor and walked toward the door. "Come Sebastian, I'll have one of the other servants come and clean this up later."
Ciel didn't have to turn around to know that the demon was following him. He made his way back down the hall to his room. He strode in and waited for Sebastian to pass by before he shut the door behind them. The moment it did, he was stripping off Sebastian's clothing. The room was quite dark so he couldn't see the demon's body well, but he'd become quite familiar with it the past few months to be able to picture it perfectly.
"My lord, whatever are you doing?" Sebastian asked as the Earl tumbled into bed, pulling him with him.
"Can't have you getting any blood on the sheets," Ciel smirked. He drew the covers around them. "So you'll just have to be naked for the night. You can change tomorrow."
"But—young master—are you sure this is safest?" Sebastian asked. "Aren't you afraid to be with me?"
"No," Ciel settled himself against Sebastian's warmth. His heart was pounding, but he wanted to make it clear that he wasn't giving up on the demon yet. "I'm more afraid of being without you."
Sebastian hadn't expected the reaction the Earl had had. He'd been sure he'd be repulsed, perhaps angry, but not this… not what had actually happened. He had drifted in and out of sleep for the rest of the night, but Ciel had snoozed on at his side, sometimes curling his body more tightly against the demon's own, one arm lazy draped across Sebastian's chest.
The butler awoke at his usual time, though he had rarely slept until recently, his internal clock still alerted him to important hours of the day. Now was the time to go and begin the breakfast preparations. He considered moving the Earl so he could go and change and resume his duties but he couldn't quite bring himself to move.
Sebastian reached out a hand and carded his fingers through the boy's hair. What was it about this particular contract that had made him come undone this way? He was a demon, a creature that cared about no one except himself, and yet… it appeared he'd found another to care for. It wasn't just about the soul. Not anymore.
It occurred to Sebastian that being near the Earl had caused his symptoms to lessen a bit. He was still in pain and the smell and sound of his master's blood was driving him mad, but he did feel better. Subconsciously, he drew Ciel closer to him.
Ciel stirred and his eyes slid open. He pushed himself onto his elbows, blinking the tiredness from his eyes.
"Good morning, young master," Sebastian said.
"I don't know that there's anything particularly good about it," Ciel frowned. He was silent for a few moments then he sat up all the way. "How are you feeling?"
Sebastian considered the question. "Much better," He replied. Which wasn't a lie, he did feel a small bit like himself. "I should get started on the day's work."
"No," Ciel shook his head. "You are taking a day off."
"Beg pardon, my lord?" Sebastian raised an eyebrow. Never, in all the years of service, had Sebastian ever taken a day off. It was simply absurd.
"You heard me," Ciel said. "You think things can just go on as normal. Not after last night."
"I assure you, I'm perfectly fine," Sebastian protested. Though as he said it he could feel the roiling in his stomach begin again. He willed himself not to vomit in the bed. The young master may not have been angry yet, which was still perplexing to him, but that he was sure would not be looked kindly upon.
"No, you're not," Ciel said. "It took a toll on you and you should rest. I told you I'd have the others clean up the mess. Tanaka can attend to me in your stead."
Sebastian, though he wasn't fond of humans, did have a certain amount of respect for Tanaka. However, he didn't want his job to be given away. He was to serve the Earl. That was the agreement. He couldn't just let a small matter like being on the verge of succumbing to the transformation process of vampirism get in the way of that.
"My lord, it's but a trifling issue," Sebastian said. He sat up, but the Earl pushed him back down again with more force than he'd have thought imaginable.
"Your mark is showing."
Sebastian's brows knit in confusion. He wasn't sure what the master had meant for a moment. If he meant the contract seal, of course it was showing, the Earl had commanded he was to abandon his gloves except when in public. Then he realized Ciel had meant something else and he put a hand to his neck, wincing as he did so. It appeared that Silas's bite had resurfaced sometime during the night.
"I had thought I had vanished it," Sebastian said. "I apologize for your having to see it, my lord."
The demon had hoped to hide the mark from Ciel as long as he could. He truthfully hadn't thought it would return, but perhaps the intensity of the previous night had caused it to flare up again. He kept his hand on it, wishing to continue to hide it, this symbol of weakness. He should have been more careful; if he had maybe he wouldn't be in this position.
Ciel reached over and pulled Sebastian's hand away. He leaned forward and pressed his lips against the ruined skin. The spot was tender but the Earl's touch was gentle.
"You know, I marked you here first," Ciel whispered. "You are mine. No one is going to break that. Do you understand?"
Sebastian nodded. "Yes, my lord."
"Good," Ciel said. He sat up and regarded the demon beneath him. "Now, I have a list of instructions and I expect you will follow my orders explicitly and without protest."
Sebastian wondered what these orders could be but guessed he wasn't really in a position to refuse. He nodded again.
"You are going to go back to your chambers, change your clothes and stay there. I want you to rest—don't give me that look; it's for your own good. The other servants will take care of running the manor. I know they're not as capable as you, but given the circumstances I'm hoping they wont perform too abysmally."
"What about you, young master?" Sebastian was curious to know what the Earl was going to be doing while he was…resting. The word sounded horrible and enticing all at once.
"I am going to make a trip into London," Ciel replied. He slid off of Sebastian and walked toward the pile of clothing still in the middle of the floor. He tossed the butler his pants. "I'll take Snake with me. I should be back this evening, tomorrow at the latest."
Sebastian opened his mouth to object, he didn't like the idea of Ciel going off into London on his own. Snake was all right, with his quiet ways and deadly companions, but he wasn't…He wasn't Sebastian. But no. The young master had said he wasn't to protest so he began to dress in silence, reflecting on the irony of this since he was only going to have to change in a few minutes.
"Send Tanaka in to dress me," Ciel said as the demon swept past him. "I'll see you later."
Then he shut the door in Sebastian's face. The butler had no choice but to do as his master had ordered. He didn't feel that he could rest anymore; he already spent the entire night doing so. He stretched out stiffly on the bed once he'd pulled on a fresh set of clothing and wondered what the young lord was up to in London. He hoped that the boy would be careful, as his master was often unnecessarily reckless.
A/N: Happy Tuesday lovelies! I've been enjoying the excitement surrounding this story both here and on my FFN account (same username). I wrote this part of the story what feels like forever ago but it could have gone in so many directions and all of them delicious. Thank you as always for reading and supporting this story.
Ciel knew Sebastian was probably annoyed with him, but he barely spared it a thought. He discerned that it was the right decision not to include the butler in things while his condition was so uncertain. Sebastian had indeed seemed much better that morning than he had the previous night, but it appeared the change flared up at random and he couldn't take the chance of it happening while they were outside the manor.
Snake was sitting across from him in the carriage. He'd glanced periodically at Ciel and he wondered if there was something the footman wanted to say. Granted it was unusual for him to travel without Sebastian, unheard of for him to go so far without the butler by his side, but he knew what he was doing.
Sebastian probably thinks I'm going to be reckless, Ciel thought. He watched the countryside passing by in a blur. I'll admit I don't always think before I act, sometimes with disastrous consequences. However, this trip should prove to be uneventful. I just want to get some advice on how to proceed with this…problem.
The carriage pulled up outside of Undertaker's shop. Ciel hadn't thought that he would be back here any time soon, but then again, sometimes things didn't always happen the way one wanted them to. He left the carriage, telling Snake to wait for him. Then he pushed his way into the shop.
"Well, if it isn't the Earl Phantomhive," Undertaker grinned at him from where he was perched atop a violet coffin. "To what do I owe the pleasure?"
"I've come for some advice," Ciel said. "I need it urgently, so there's no time for jokes."
"As you wish, my lord," Undertaker tented his fingers and rested his chin on them. "What can I help you with?"
Ciel took a deep breath. "As Adeline has no doubt informed you, we confronted the vampires a few weeks ago with mostly favorable results. We were able to eliminate all but one of them."
"That's quite an accomplishment," Undertaker said. "The lady did indeed share the details with me. So…what seems to be the problem?"
He wasn't sure how he should proceed from here. Obviously keeping Sebastian's true identity a secret was of the utmost importance. He didn't need anyone knowing about that.
"One of our party sustained an injury," He spoke carefully. "I am sure it's nothing, but it's possible that they could be in danger of turning. I have no experience in these matters, but I was wondering if there were some steps I could take in the meantime to deal with this problem."
Undertaker was silent for a long time. Then he grinned. It unsettled Ciel and he wondered if maybe he would be better off leaving.
"I can help you out with that," Undertaker replied. "One moment."
He disappeared through a door at the back of shop and Ciel was left to stand there awkwardly. He could hear clattering and loud bangs. It sounded like Undertaker was moving furniture around. A moment later, Adeline appeared. She brightened when she saw the Earl.
"It's lovely to see you, Lord Phantomhive," She said. "I trust you've been well?"
"I have. It's good to see you as well, my lady," Ciel offered the smallest of smiles, wondering what was taking Undertaker so long.
He studied Adeline, wondering if what he and Sebastian had suspected was true and she had begun a courtship with Undertaker. She was pretty; there was no doubt about that, but he couldn't tell anything strictly from observing her. She glanced back up at him from her work and he averted his eyes.
Undertaker emerged from the door again, bearing a strange array of objects. He beckoned the Earl to come closer as he laid them out.
"The change is steady," Undertaker said. "And it's usually quite painful. Some have a worse time of it than others, but it is altogether a very nasty experience. During the initial stages, the victim can go about their daily activities as though nothing is wrong. They may experience muscle aches, nausea, and hypersensitivity to their senses. It's unpleasant, but manageable. After a time the symptoms become more intense, they'll become even more sensitive, begin to have a thirst for blood, and their fangs will emerge."
Ciel didn't know what stage Sebastian was at. He should have asked the demon more about his symptoms but he'd been too shocked the night before. It sounded as though he might have progressed to this second stage. Ciel wondered what came next.
"If someone is suspected of being infected the best course of action is to keep them isolated and restrained," Undertaker said. He held up some thick coils of chain. "Vampires are much stronger than humans, so these have been etched with ancient symbols to prevent them from being broken by a supernatural being."
Ciel leaned into examine them. He could indeed see small characters carved into the unbelievably shiny metal. He wondered if they would be strong enough to hold Sebastian and where he was going to chain him up without anyone else noticing. He supposed the wine cellar would have to do.
"Additionally, for added protection," Undertaker announced, indicating the next object. "This fits around the head to prevent the victim from inflicting any damage with their fangs."
Ciel stared at it. "Is that—is that a muzzle?" He hissed. "Like for a dog?"
His family had had a dog when he was small, a lean black thing that had been a bit scary and amazing at the same time. It had been killed the same night his parents had met their end. The same night he was whisked away and sold into that cult. He realized he was gripping the table a little too hard and a bit of nervous sweat rolled down his back. He had to quit getting lost in thoughts like that but it was impossible to not be instantly transported back to that horrible time whenever something triggered it.
"Indeed, my lord," Undertaker said. "However, you'll find this one is much better designed for humans. Their snouts aren't quite so long."
He giggled to himself as if he were sharing a private joke. Ciel failed to see what was so funny but he stared at the straps and hard metal cage with interest. It appeared strong, but he could just imagine Sebastian's reaction when the demon laid eyes on it.
"It's got a lock in the back as well," Undertaker pointed out. "Only the one with the key will be able to remove it."
"So, what happens if they don't?" Ciel asked. "Feed, I mean?"
Undertaker shook his head. "They can survive for a long time without blood, but they will eventually go mad, particularly if they are fledglings. If they don't consume their first blood within a suitable amount of time once the transformation is complete they may succumb."
"They'll die?" Ciel couldn't keep his voice from rising.
"Regrettably, yes," Undertaker said, but he was still grinning so he didn't seem too upset. "Truthfully that might be the best result for them, many do not accept the change well. However, some vampires can live splendid lives. Become…upstanding members of society."
Ciel froze. Did Undertaker know about Silas Beaumont? He supposed even if he did, it didn't matter.
"Anyway," The older man swept his silver hair over his shoulder. "I certainly hope that your friend didn't actually sustain a serious bite from a vampire. These tools should help aid in the change if they did. At that point, it'll be up to you to decide the next course of action. I'll send Adeline to check in on the situation."
Ciel met Adeline's eyes. She offered him the smallest of smiles, but her eyes were sad. He guessed she'd heard the conversation. She would know that he was talking about Sebastian, since he was the only other person who had been in the estate with them while they battled the bloodsuckers.
"Thank you," Ciel said. He grabbed the chains and the…muzzle, stuffed them in a bag, and made his way out of the shop, bidding a hasty goodbye to the pair.
It had been an awfully long journey for such a short visit but Ciel still felt he had accomplished something. He wondered how Sebastian would react to being kept in the wine cellar and imagined it would not be well. However, he reasoned, maybe Sebastian might be one of the lucky ones who ended up assimilating to the change.
Or, He thought with a trace of foolishness. Maybe he'll pull through it entirely and things can go back to normal.
Did you get the answers you were searching for? asks Oscar.
"I hope you did, Smile," Snake said. His golden eyes were impassive.
Ciel nodded. "It was certainly not a wasted trip."
The Earl leaned back in his seat. He wished he were at home immediately, it was going to take some time to get back to the manor. He hoped that Sebastian was listening to him and resting. At the very least he had hoped that the order to stay put would alleviate the demon's discomfort and keep him in place so that he wasn't all over the house, randomly losing control.
He glanced at the bag on the bench next to him. He trusted Undertaker to know what he was doing. Hopefully everything would settle soon.
Sebastian thought he would go mad if he had to remain in his room a moment longer. It was so boring, and he had a laundry list of things that needed tending to. Including the laundry. He couldn't just leave the other servants to their own devices. They were completely hopeless.
He wondered what the Earl was up to. What business could he possibly have in London? Actually, the young master had a lot of business dealings in London, some of them with rather dodgy types in seedier parts of the city. Places he shouldn't go without Sebastian.
The butler had done as Ciel wished and rested some more, but he knew that this wasn't something that was going to be cured by any amount of sleep or lazing about. It wasn't like he had a cold, or even the flu. Demons couldn't get sick like that. But this transformation wasn't being kind to him. He strongly suspected that it was worse because he wasn't human to begin with.
There was a knock at the door. Sebastian went to answer it and found the young master standing on the other side.
"That was a quick trip," Sebastian said.
"I've been gone for hours," Ciel replied. He stepped into the room without invitation.
Hours? How long had he been out of it? Time must have just slipped away while he concentrated on not ripping himself apart to give a reasonable source to the pain. He refocused on the Earl who had made his way over to the bed and sat down on it. There was a sizable bag on his lap.
"Wherever did you go?" Sebastian asked.
"To see Undertaker," Ciel said. "Seems he's a bit more versed in these matters than we previously thought."
Sebastian wasn't surprised but he was curious about what Undertaker has said. "You didn't tell him about my true nature did you?"
"Of course not," Ciel said. He opened the bag. "I didn't even say it was you, though I think Adeline might've suspected. I don't know exactly when I'm supposed to implement these things, I guess whenever your condition begins to become unmanageable."
"You mean when I might lose control and feed upon the blood of those in the household," Sebastian said. He knew his tone was bitter but he couldn't help it. He would never be alright with what was happening to him.
"Precisely," Ciel said. He held up a few strands of exceptionally shiny chains. "Undertaker says the key to controlling the change at the final stage is restraint. That way you won't be a danger to anyone."
"Where exactly do you plan on restraining me?" Sebastian said. He looked at the other object on the bed with interest. He knew what it looked like, but no…it couldn't possibly be… "And what is that thing?"
The Earl sighed heavily. "I had been thinking about that on the ride back. The only suitable place is the wine cellar. I know it's not the most ideal of conditions but it is one that almost no one goes. I'll tell everyone you've departed on urgent business for me, then they won't be suspicious of where you've gone." He regarded the mess of metal and straps on the bed. "This is so you don't bite anyone."
"You mean to shove my face in that? Like a dog?" Sebastian didn't know whether to be offended or not. He hated dogs. Loathed. Detested them. And if the Earl thought for one moment he was going to…
"You know," The demon leaned closer to his young master. "If we were in a different set of circumstances that might actually prove to be a rather interesting addition to certain…activities." He smirked suggestively and all but purred with pleasure as the Earl blushed furiously and avoided his gaze, clearing his throat. If the Earl intended to torture him this way then he had no intention of not riling the other up as well.
"Sebastian this is no time for games," He said fighting to regain his composure. "I don't know what the outcome of this is going to be, but I need to make sure those in manor as well as those outside of it are safe."
"And what about you, my lord?" Sebastian said. "Do you feel safe?"
Ciel was silent for a moment, but he nodded. "For the moment, yes."
That didn't sit well with Sebastian. "For the moment" implied that there would come a time that the Earl wouldn't feel safe anymore. Though the demon didn't want his charge to feel that way, he supposed it was only natural.
"How is your ailment?" Ciel asked. "Did you do as I ordered?"
"Yes, my lord," Sebastian said. "It seems to have subsided, though I can never be sure when it will surface again."
The Earl continued to look at him thoughtfully and Sebastian really wished he wouldn't. He knew the other's mind was at work, as it usually was, but he wasn't sure he wanted to know the thoughts that were going on inside the boy's head. Finally Ciel sighed and leaned toward him.
"Do you want it?" He asked. "My blood, I mean."
Sebastian swallowed. He did want it, more with each passing minute. He could hear the rush of it as it glided through the young lord's veins. The other's heart had been steadily beating before, but now it had quickened as he'd asked the question. He was quite aware of the burning in his throat that he knew would be satisfied if he just grabbed the boy and…
He realized that he'd moved closer to the Earl as his thoughts had swirled. He curled a hand around the other's throat, claws extended, lightly scrapping at the soft flesh. He could feel the fangs sliding out, much easier and less painful than before. All he had to do was clamp down on the young master's neck. He was sure his blood would taste…
The next thing he knew pain had exploded across the left side of his face and he drew back, fangs retracting, in surprise. He realized that Ciel had slapped him with all of his strength. The other was staring at him, panting, and his features a mix of shock and distress. The Earl slid off the bed and walked toward the door.
"I think I have my answer," Ciel said quietly as he opened it. "Sebastian, we should begin preparations for this sooner than later."
A/N: This chapter was a bit odd, but it does move the story along. And honestly, Sebastian in a muzzle is hot (at least to me, I know I'm weird). There actually is only a few more chapters left in this one, but I have a new project I am currently working on as well, also Kuro. Hope everyone is continuing to enjoy it and hello to any new followers and reviewers.
***Also for anyone unfamiliar with said drawing of Sebastian in a muzzle, it’s in the manga title page of chapter 99.**
Ciel tried to ignore the nervousness that was eating away at his insides. He didn't want to be afraid of Sebastian. And he wasn't really. There was always a certain risk being involved with a demon, even as he had been before things grew more intimate between them. He knew they had the contract, but demons were cunning. However, it seemed now that part of Sebastian was slipping away and merging with another, darker part that he was wholly unfamiliar with.
The Earl's heart began to race every time he thought about how close Sebastian had gotten to him when he mentioned wanting his blood. It was as though a switch had flipped. For a moment it was like the demon had gone out of himself and something else had taken over. He had recovered his senses just in time, mostly in part to Ciel's smack, but what about the next incident? What if he didn't?
Ciel didn't want to make the choice to send Sebastian downstairs so soon. He had thought he might have more time to adjust to the idea. He wanted to keep his butler with him for as long as he could, but he didn't want Sebastian to become a hazard to himself or anyone else. It really was like having a rabid dog; one that you knew was infected; that could succumb at any moment and attack people.
The other thing that worried him was that he didn't know if he'd be able to control the demon anymore. The contract was still in place for the moment but he wasn't sure if it would work once Sebastian was turned. What if it disappeared?
He still wasn't sure exactly what Sebastian was going to be when the change was complete. Would he be a vampire, or a demon, or something else? A mixture of the two? That thought was terrifying since Sebastian was plenty powerful on his own. To add in vampire powers…
Ciel glanced around the library where he had holed himself up since he'd left Sebastian's room. He'd tried to lose himself within the volumes but his mind wasn't in it. He'd told Tanaka to prepare a light dinner, as he wasn't terribly hungry, stating he was tired from the travel (which was not a lie) and would wish to go to bed early. He knew the steward was curious about Sebastian's absence, but as usual the old man didn't ask questions.
He fiddled with the string of his eye patch. He'd considered calling Sebastian to him every so often, but hadn't been able to bring himself to do it. He figured that leaving the room as he had probably sent totally mixed signals than the previous night when he'd invited Sebastian into bed. He'd told the demon he was more afraid to be without him, and this was true. But he was afraid to be without Sebastian as he had been, not what he was becoming. Sebastian as a demon was still a bit of a mystery to him, but it was more familiar than the creature that was slowly emerging instead.
We have to get things started, Ciel thought. Even if this all ends badly I need to have the proper channels in place just in case.
He slowly untied the string and bared his contract seal.
The butler was at his side in an instant, as though Ciel had conjured him up from the floor. He bowed low, eyes shining, appearing almost normal. The Earl knew better however; there was a disease raging inside the other and Sebastian was doing his absolute best to conceal it.
"You called, young master?" Sebastian inquired.
"Indeed," Ciel said. He rose from his armchair and began to walk towards to door. "We need to go and prepare the cellar. I don't want to do it, but it's best."
The two of them made their way downstairs and Ciel had Sebastian secure the chains to the walls in the furthest corner of the cellar. He knew it was the correct course of action but he still didn't like it. This was not the way that things should be going.
"Do you wish for me to stay down here now, my lord?" Sebastian asked when they were done.
Ciel thought about it for a moment and shook his head. "No, not yet."
He cast a look around the dim, gloomy environment and started for the stairs again. Sebastian followed a few paces behind him. The Earl knew that the next time he had to come down there, he would ascend to the main floor alone. He ignored the slightly sick feeling still rolling in his stomach.
Ciel reflected after he'd bathed and dressed for bed that the uncertainty was what was causing him the most anxiety. He didn't know if or when Sebastian would snap again, and that scared him. The butler appeared normal most of the time, but there were moments when he changed. Still, Ciel wanted to keep things as they were for the moment.
It appeared the demon felt the same way as he crawled into bed with the Earl without invitation. Ciel wrapped his arms around the demon's neck. He wanted to be rough, to bite and forget about what was happening, but he restrained himself because he knew it would hurt the other. Sebastian was becoming increasingly sensitive, so the younger lay there and let the butler pleasure him as he had on the catwalk, concentrating on the warmth and motion of the demon's mouth. He found release but wasn't satisfied.
Ciel tried not to think as he rolled over about Sebastian wanting his blood. He'd always been a bit resigned to the fact of the demon consuming his soul. Since souls weren't something that could be seen, only sensed, it was less of an ordeal. He had figured, even if the process were painful, it would not last long. However, blood was something tangible and human bodies were incredibly weak. Sebastian could easily overpower him; drain him if he wanted to.
"Are you alright, my lord?" Sebastian's voice glided out of the darkness.
"Fine," Ciel replied, hoping that the demon couldn't detect the unease. He turned back around, eyes scanning Sebastian's form beneath the blankets. "Just thinking."
"As always," Sebastian smirked. "What about?"
"Nothing worth mentioning," Ciel replied. "I'm going to sleep."
He shut his eyes. He could feel the demon watching him behind his eyelids, but he refused to open them again. If he concentrated hard enough, sleep was sure to come. Or he would just be plagued all night with his mind conjuring up scenario after horrible scenario until the light of dawn broke through the window (which he had noted Sebastian had neglected to close). In either case he was sure that no matter what a restful night's sleep would continue to elude him, just like Marina and the cure for this vampire curse her father had bestowed upon Sebastian.
Sebastian was worried about his young lord. The boy had decided to avoid any conversation, pretending to go right to sleep. The demon had known he was still awake and had remained so for at least two more hours, keeping his eyes resolutely shut. He could have just said that he didn't want to talk. After the third hour had passed, Ciel had finally drifted off into slumber and Sebastian had exited the room. He wasn't sure how the Earl would feel when he awoke in the morning, or even the middle of the night, and found him gone. But he didn't care about that.
The demon knew that the end was coming for him soon. He could feel it with every fiber of his being. It had taken great pains to avoid acting too out of character when the young master had called him to the library, but the sound of his charge's blood was becoming deafening. Coupled with the tremendous thirst, he was beginning to slip.
Still, his primary duty was to serve the young master and it had been clear that Ciel had wanted something of a distraction. So Sebastian had given it to him, and though he could tell the boy had liked it, he hadn't been sated entirely. Because the young master had things of his own on his mind.
Sebastian knew what these were of course. Or at least he guessed. He knew that the lord was worried about what was becoming of him, and of the inevitable unraveling of not only their relationship as master and servant, but their relationship of a different sort as well. He knew that Ciel worried about if the contract would cease to exist. If Sebastian would become unfit to be his butler. If his revenge would never be completed. Coupled with the irritation over the vampire's escape and subsequent vanishing, it was enough to make anyone's head spin.
There had been so many more close calls before that afternoon. So many more that the young master had no idea about. How many times Sebastian had to distance himself because he wanted to chomp down on his charge's neck and drink until he couldn't possibly hold another drop. The countless instances when he'd worked to conceal his pain, his desire, the horrible dark need blossoming within him; more primal and dangerous than any of his demon tendencies had ever been.
He meditated on the fear that had welled in Ciel's eyes when he'd lunged at him, feeling those disgusting fangs ripping their way out into his mouth, eager to pierce the pale flesh. All he'd thought about was the delicious sound of the young lord's blood as it whooshed through his veins and the heighted, staccato rhythm of his heart as it sped in terror. For a moment he'd paused, savoring the helplessness of his victim, and it was at that moment that Ciel had clocked him one and brought him back to himself.
His insides roiled as he thought about the betrayal that had replaced the young lord's features as the alarm had faded. He'd sought to remove himself as quickly as possible from the demon and Sebastian didn't follow because he'd been ordered to stay in his room and didn't think it would have helped anyway if he had. This was something that Ciel had to come to terms with.
Perhaps he'd stay upset with Sebastian, and he would have had every right. However, that wasn't what had happened. He'd had to wait a few hours, but then the mark on his hand had glowed and he'd felt the young master calling for him. He'd been allowed to assist in the nighttime routine. And the Earl hadn't uttered a word of protest when he'd entered the bed. Still, he knew that the wound he'd caused, though not physical was still raw, and the Earl still didn't feel entirely at ease with him.
The demon sighed. He had never intended for things to end up this way. He had had desires for the young master for a long time, perhaps even before the younger realized that he also had developed an interest in the demon. He'd never thought anything would actually come of it, never pursued despite wanting to do so. Everything had been fine until they'd finally decided to act on these mutual feelings. He knew on his end it had severely clouded his judgment and now he was perhaps paying the price for that.
Still, He reasoned, the young master shouldn't have to.
This was what had brought him down to the cellar. He stared at the chains coiled on the floor. Undertaker was much smarter than the demon had previously thought. He wondered where the funeral director had become privy to such devices, but supposed it was best not to question it. The eccentric types always had odd connections. It was simply who they were.
Sebastian bound one around each of his wrists, and tested their strength, pulling at them with first moderate and then full force. He'd followed the young master's instructions to the letter and they held fast to the wall. This was good; he had only half believed they would work. Then his eyes fell on the muzzle. Revulsion flared within him. He supposed this was only due to his personal bias against dogs, although it was a very odd concept to be putting something made for the canine on a human, or…human shaped. He supposed though that since he had acted like a beast then he should be treated like one.
He wondered what the young master would say when he awoke and found Sebastian gone. What would he think? How long would it take before he looked down here? The demon supposed that after he had run through all the terrible scenarios, most of them involving Sebastian bathing in the blood of the innocent as he embraced his new vampire nature, he'd begin a search of the manor.
Sebastian slipped the muzzle over his face. He was becoming less like himself and the sooner he separated from the young master, whom he had sworn harm would never come to, the better. He didn't like it but he had no choice. There was still a shred of foolish hope that he would pull through this unscathed, but that was unlikely. He fiddled with the straps, adjusting them so the device fit snugly but comfortably. The Earl had said there was a lock on it, of which he had the only key. He paused for only a moment, reconsidering, then steeled himself into resolve, closing it with a snap.
A/N: Hello everyone. This story is starting to intensify a little more and I am so excited to post the next few chapters. Including the prologue there will be 41 in all. I hope you are continuing to enjoy and I'll see you next update!
Chapter 34: Chapter 33
A/N: This weeks updates are gonna be pretty intense, I'd have to say though that this is the tamest of the three. I hope you all continue to enjoy the story.
Ciel wondered what had happened over the course of the night that had caused Sebastian to disappear. He didn't bother calling the butler, he guessed where he was, but couldn't believe that he'd gone there of his own volition. This worried him, because it probably meant that the demon knew something that he didn't, something having to do with his predicament. Perhaps it was going to come to completion soon. Too soon.
Ciel wasn't ready for this. Not that he'd ever thought there would be a moment when he would be ready, but even once he'd found out about it he'd still believed there was more time. More time to fix things. More time to enjoy things as they had been with Sebastian. Just more time.
Time was never kind to Ciel though, that much had been obvious for years at least when it came to anything good. He'd always thought his parents would be around forever, but they'd been snatched away before their prime. Alternatively, time had stretched out for him in captivity, in possession of the cult; it had moved as thought every minute was an hour, every hour a day, and every day a year. Then Sebastian came and life began to move quickly again. They'd been through some adventures and he'd assumed that there would be more since the contract was still in place, only now…
Now he wasn't sure what was going to happen. Sebastian had sequestered himself to the cellar. He supposed he should go down and see the butler, get him to explain his reasoning. In a way he was a bit relieved. He didn't know if he'd have been strong enough to chain Sebastian up himself.
There was a tentative knock at the door and Tanaka walked in a moment later. He caught sight of Ciel sitting up in bed, where he'd been since he'd risen two hours prior and remained lost in the thoughts swirling about his brain.
"Good morning, young master," He said. He moved toward the window and drew the curtains back. Ciel had closed them when he'd awoken, not wanting to see the sun. Now it flared brightly into the room and he sighed, knowing that the day would begin and there was nothing he could do to stop it. "I didn't expect you to be awake already, but it is good to start the day early. For breakfast—"
Ciel barely heard him; he slid out of the bed as Tanaka began to rummage through the wardrobe in search of his outfit for the day. He didn't care about breakfast or his schedule or anything. Suddenly it occurred to him that it was strange that Tanaka was the one coming in to wake him, even if he understood Sebastian's position.
"Why are you here?" He asked.
"Sebastian came to my room in the middle of the night," Tanaka replied. "Seems you sent him on some urgent business to be investigated at once. He said he was unsure of when he would be back and to see to your needs in his place."
"Oh—right," Ciel, said. He pulled his nightshirt over his head and stepped into the pants Tanaka held out for him. "It was quite late when I decided that, I'd forgotten."
"No worries, my lord," Tanaka bowed his head. "As the head of the household you no doubt have many things on your mind. It's not unusual for a couple of them to slip through the cracks. Do try and keep a little more focus on matters in the future."
Ciel wasn't surprised that Sebastian had informed Tanaka of his absence. Despite everything he was still the perfect butler, and would never leave his charge neglected even if he were not the one to service him. He'd certainly thought of everything and the Earl wouldn't have expected anything less.
Ciel ate his breakfast without tasting it, everything felt like rubber in his mouth but he knew that he should eat so as not to arouse suspicion that anything was amiss. Tanaka may have been old, but he was smart as a whip, and could be just as deadly in a fight if provoked. So he forced the food down his throat with hearty gulps of tea, one thing that still had flavor.
He sighed softly as he made his way up the stairs toward his study. He had a full schedule ahead of him. Lessons and meetings and phone calls. He thought about the secret in the cellar, hoping no one would happen upon it. What would he say? It would appear very strange to see Sebastian chained there. And if he'd put on the other thing…?
Finally, after lunch, he could stand it no more. He had to go and see what had become of the butler. He went downstairs quickly, hoping that he didn't appear too serious, but he couldn't help it.
Sebastian's eyes shifted toward him the moment he turned the corner. Ciel felt his breath catch in his throat. The butler looked very much the same. He offered a small smile.
"I had been curious when you would finally make it down, my lord."
"It's been a busy morning," Ciel said, fighting to keep his voice neutral. "Anyway, why did you come down here without telling me?"
"Because I thought it was best," Sebastian replied. "And while I don't doubt that you eventually would have come to the same conclusion, I couldn't be sure what would have happened in the meantime."
"Are you saying I'd not have done it?" Ciel asked. It unsettled him to watch Sebastian speaking behind the muzzle.
"I'm saying that you might not have acted in a timely manner," Sebastian replied simply. "In any case you can undo it, you have the keys, but I would deem that unwise."
"So what now?" Ciel said. He agreed with the butler, but that didn't make the situation any less difficult.
"Now I suppose we wait for whatever comes next," Sebastian said. "Though, I don't believe that it will be too long in arriving."
"And then what?" Ciel asked.
"Well, I'd wager that it would depend largely on however I emerge from this," Sebastian said. "Perhaps it will not be too serious, as I suspect we are both hoping. However, we do need to be prepared for the worst."
Ciel didn't have to ask what the worst meant. He knew. Sebastian might forget him, forget anything about himself as well, and be unfit for anything much less a butler. Then he'd become some dangerous beast that the world may never have seen the likes of. And Ciel would have to figure out what to do about it.
"Are you in much pain?" Ciel asked.
Sebastian shrugged. "It waxes and wanes, but it is ever present. I am hoping that it will subside with whatever the result may be. It is becoming tiresome."
Ciel inwardly cursed Silas for doing this to Sebastian. He wondered what the vampire had meant to do about the butler. Had he wished to add him to his collection too? Did he hope that the transformation would finish him off? Or did he intend to do that himself? It was clear that Silas had done this so that Sebastian would be weakened and therefore it would be easier for him to take the Earl. He'd wanted to turn the boy, and if Sebastian were out of commission it would only be too easy. Only now the vampire was dead.
"I'll return later," Ciel, said. "I still have a long evening ahead of me."
"You and me both, young master," Sebastian replied. "I look forward to seeing you again."
Ciel turned and walked slowly from the room, fighting the urge to run with every step. Once he had reached the stairs however, he bolted up them two at a time. He didn't bother to mind his asthma. What did his health matter anyway? He paused at the top; hunched over, breath coming in short painful gasps. His chest felt tight but he knew it had nothing to do with lack of air. Rash bit of physical activity aside, Sebastian's weakening was what caused him to be unable to breathe.
Sebastian's throat was now becoming the most acute source of pain. He could feel it swelling from the lack of blood he'd refused to allow himself to consume. He knew that vampires needed blood to survive. They didn't need to have an incredibly steady supply and could go for weeks without feeding, but that was only once they were established. Or of course in the case of Silas and his immediate family, purebloods.
Fledglings on the other hand needed blood almost immediately and pretty regularly just after and during their transition. He'd blatantly refused to go along with that program. Demons enjoyed consuming blood as well, however, it wasn't as vital to their existence as with vampires.
He was pleased that the young master had visited him. It truthfully had been sooner than he'd expected. He hadn't been sure how the other would react, but that had been more in line with what he had thought. He was a bit surprised at the way the Earl had raced up the stairs after he'd left the room. His footsteps had been all but deafening to the demon's sensitive ears, and he wondered if perhaps the other had forgotten he had such acute senses. He doubted that Ciel would have made quite such a scene if he had.
Sebastian imagined that it wouldn't be long before he lost his ability to speak. He wondered what they would do then. The young lord wasn't adept at telepathy. But perhaps he wouldn't visit anymore at that point.
The demon sighed. This was unquestioningly one of the worst situations he had ever gotten himself into, if not the worst. Actually, he decided it probably was the worst since he was essentially in danger of dying. It was possible for demons to die, but it was generally not an easy thing to accomplish. However, Silas infecting him with vampirism was a bit unprecedented. He shifted against the wall, but it was painful to move, so he stopped.
He was glad that he had thought ahead to request Tanaka to attend to the young master. He hoped that he would eventually continue to serve the Earl, but he had to be prepared in the event that he was no longer able to. The old man had nodded, though something in his gaze told the demon that the steward didn't quite believe his tale of going out on business for the Earl. It was the only thing he could think of that would arouse the least suspicion, and he had done it before, when it was actually the truth. After all, the young master was the only one he couldn't lie to.
Ciel could feel his control slipping and there was absolutely nothing he could do about it. He'd continued to visit Sebastian in the cellar frequently over the next few days, but it was becoming clear that his condition was deteriorating steadily. Undertaker had been wise to give him the tools that now bound the demon and made it impossible for him to bite the Earl, and Sebastian himself had been equally wise to seal himself away when he had.
It was nighttime once again. Tanaka had readied Ciel for bed, and now the boy was snuggled in his bed, covers up to his chin. The room was dark and quiet and his mind wandered in all sorts of directions, as it was prone to do in those situations.
When he'd spent some time with Sebastian after breakfast two days prior, he'd come to find that the demon had lapsed into silence. They still found ways to communicate of course, but it wasn't as fluid. Ciel knew that it was due to the lack of blood sustenance that had caused the demon's throat to swell from the inside, making speech incredibly painful.
The other servants had questioned him every so often about when Sebastian would return. He avoided the inquiries with vague answers, recognizing that in a way it wasn't a lie. He didn't know when Sebastian would return; they thought it was distance but Ciel viewed it as mentally and physically.
Their relationship had been going so well. At least he assumed so; he didn't really have anything to compare it to. However, it had felt good. Sebastian made him feel good. He'd wanted more of it, to see where things would take them. But now that was spoiled.
Ciel turned over. He wasn't going to be getting any sleep tonight either it seemed. That was how it went, night after night, he lay awake until the early hours of morning, drifting in and out, never fully slipping into slumber. Tanaka was always prompt in waking him, and then the day would begin. At least the steward kept him busy with various things, lessons and meetings and such. Otherwise he would have had more time to dwell on the fact that things were not as they had been.
The Earl sat up and got out of bed. He wasn't in the habit of wandering around at night, since he enjoyed his sleep, but he didn't much feel like spending another few hours staring into the darkness while his mind conjured up equally colored thoughts.
Slipping his feet into slippers, he tied on a robe and crept across the room, opening the door a crack. He peered out into the hallway first one way and then the other but no one was in sight. He started down the hallway slowly, his footfalls soft and almost silent on the carpet.
Ciel knew exactly where he was going but still felt a sense of surprise when he reached the door that led down to the cellar. He never visited Sebastian at night for reasons he didn't entirely understand. Even though it was always darker downstairs due to the lack of windows, he supposed that coming there in the daytime gave the sense that the situation was not as bleak as it truly was. Everything looked less daunting in the light.
He reached the end of the stairs and was about to go down the small passage toward the room Sebastian was in when he heard the chains clinking. He stopped, something in him telling him not to go further. Then he noticed a second sound, one louder than the first and he wondered how he hadn't noticed it before. It was a growl, animalistic and angry; the sound that a sick dog might make when cornered. It rose into a louder, low roar and the chains clinked violently as though they were being yanked into full tautness.
He heard a great scraping, like someone sharpening the blade of a sword on a whetstone. Chillingly, he realized it must be the sound of Sebastian's claws on the walls of the room. It made the hairs on the back of his neck stand up. He wanted to go into the room, certain that the demon must know he was there. Their bond was strong and the butler could always sense his presence due to the contract. Only…Sebastian wasn't exactly himself anymore.
Ciel stood there in the darkness listening to the sounds that indicated that the being in the other room was slipping into a rather mad, torturous state. He could hear the chains tinkling along the floor as the demon moved about, sometimes creeping, sometimes very quickly. He could hear the scraping on the walls, sometimes quite high up and he wondered if Sebastian were climbing them. The demon didn't speak, because of course he couldn't, but there were other noises. Noises Ciel had never heard coming from the demon and never wished to again. Sounds of pain.
He slid down onto the floor against the wall, feeling his chest tightening. After he had sat there a few moments, the coldness of the stone seeping through the thin fabrics of his nightshirt and dressing gown, there was a crash that seemed to make the cellar shake.
His head snapped up, blinking in the dim light cast from the few dying candles spread about in the wall sconces, wondering what that could have been. Then it happened again. And again. It sounded as though Sebastian were throwing himself against the wall.
Ciel covered his ears as the pained noises began again. In a way, though he was silent, he could feel them echoed inside himself. He was reminded again of why he didn't allow himself to have feelings, and why he kept everyone at arm's length after the death of his parents. It wasn't only because feeling things made people weak and therefore could cause them to act rashly, it was because the stronger they were felt when things were good, they were felt twice as strongly when things turned bad.
Things had turned very bad for Ciel. He'd thought he'd known pain when his parents were killed, when he'd been kidnapped, when he'd been tortured and branded and almost sacrificed. But he'd been wrong. That ache was nothing compared to what he was feeling now as he curled up on the floor. Feeling as though his heart was shredding in his chest, listening to the being most important to him on the other side of the wall, knowing the other was in pain and there was nothing he could do to stop it.
This is what I get for attempting to change the rules, he thought as bile rose in his throat. The anxiety he was feeling made him nauseous. I should never have gotten closer to him, never tempted fate in this way. If we had stayed as master and servant things wouldn't be like this. Sure, I'd still be upset that Silas reduced my most capable servant to a vulgar beast, but if we'd never, if I hadn't…
No. He wasn't going to go there. He squeezed his eyes shut, wishing that the noises would stop. He knew that he could leave, go back upstairs, but something wouldn't let him. It was the same something that was causing him to also not act like himself. He didn't care about people, didn't show emotion. It was better that way. He wouldn't get hurt. No one could touch him.
Ciel wrapped his arms around himself, feeling sick. He didn't want to think, and wished he could go to sleep. Now the growling and the scratching had started again. He wished that he could go back to the night of the play, after the performance when he'd had Sebastian take him to the manor for the night. He'd have done things differently.
He'd have stayed there. Or at the very least he'd not have gone to the party. Or perhaps as Silas had said, he'd "have been wise to leave when all the other guests did", instead of engaging in that ridiculous battle. To what? To save a bunch of people he didn't know? Those who were beyond saving anyway? He'd put himself and Sebastian at risk.
The Earl knew he had had to do it, he had a duty to the Queen, to follow her orders and rid London of anything that would seek to destroy it's peaceful existence. He knew that through their actions he had lessened the threat, but not eliminated it. And in the process Sebastian…
He thought about Adeline. How swiftly she had come to terms with her brother's fate. How she had logically decided that he would never be able to live a normal life without harming others and must be dealt with accordingly. And he supposed this was true. However, Sebastian had always been that way, it wasn't as though he was human and then suddenly changed. He wasn't a good being. But Ciel didn't care. It had served him well, and when feelings had shifted between them, these things didn't make him want to be with Sebastian any less.
The Earl was vaguely aware that he was now lying on the floor. Normally he'd have thought about how disgusting it was to be there, it was dirty and freezing. Winter was coming; he could feel the chill in the air becoming colder every day, especially in the mornings and at night. With his delicate health he should stay upstairs in his bed, where it was warm. He supposed though that maybe he might get sick, and then perhaps he might just die. That would suit him just fine.
What felt like only a few minutes he awoke with his arm under his head, the left side of his body aching from laying on the floor. The candles had burned even lower and now the chamber was dimmer. He sighed softly and pushed himself into a sitting position. He noted that the room Sebastian was in was silent. Perhaps the demon had tired himself out.
Ciel was surprised he had fallen asleep. Maybe his body had taken over, wishing to relieve him from the anxiety and pain he'd been feeling. However, now it crashed back over him in a wave. He rose to his feet; clutching the wall slightly as his stiff legs took his weight and went into the room. He knew this probably wasn't the best decision but he wanted to know what had happened to the butler.
Half of the candles in the room had disappeared but the other half still gave off a faint glow. He could see many puddles of blood and that dark liquid he had seen in the bathroom on the night he'd discovered Sebastian's condition. There were huge gouges in the walls from the demon's claws and even a few chunks of stone littering the ground. He stumbled, nearly falling on his face, but he caught himself in time. He searched for what had tripped him, discovering it was one of the chains. It twisted away into the darkness of the furthest corner.
Ciel followed it along until he reached Sebastian. The demon was curled in a ball, apparently asleep. He knew that demons didn't need sleep, but perhaps vampires did. And maybe that was closer to what Sebastian was now. He hesitated for just a moment, before he reached out a hand to touch the other's body.
Sebastian drew away from him, much more slowly than he normally would have. A low hiss sounded behind the muzzle.
"Sebastian," Ciel said. "Sebastian, it's me."
He was well aware that whatever madness the demon had been experiencing could resume at any time, but at the moment it didn't matter to him. He had to be sure that the other was all right, or at least as well as he could be. The Earl moved closer, hands clutching at any part of the butler he could find. Sebastian turned toward him, movements still languid.
The Earl felt a spasm wrack the other's body, but he clutched tighter. He didn't care if Sebastian grabbed him and ripped him apart. He'd have welcomed it. The demon's head dropped into his lap and Ciel's breath hitched in slight surprise. He moved his hand down, carding it through the inky locks, feeling the tightness in his chest lessen a bit.
Ciel didn't know how long he sat there, but it didn't seem to matter. He listened to Sebastian's labored breathing as it eventually evened out. In spite of the gloomy atmosphere around them he felt a bit at peace. He supposed that this was the way that things had been with them, and indeed his life, for a while. Things would go along well, and then something drastic and horrible would upset everything. After a time everything would slowly become manageable again. It would continue on and on.
"You know, if we make it out of this," Ciel whispered shakily. "I might just let you take me."
He didn't know what made him say it; he supposed he was trying to bring comfort to himself as much as the demon. He wanted something to look forward to, even if it was no more than a distant wish. He wondered if he would ever get that chance to be with Sebastian that way, deciding that the odds were unlikely at present.
The future was never guaranteed and he knew that hope was not something he indulged in. Soon he'd have to go back upstairs and pretend he'd been asleep the entire night. Pretend that Sebastian was not in the cellar. Pretend that his world, the new one he'd so carefully crafted for himself three years prior, was not slowly crumbling. All it had taken was one false move, one inflated sense of confidence in defeating the vampires, and now he was on the verge of losing something irrevocably important to him.
A/N: Alright this chapter kinda broke my heart to be honest, and it seems others have been feeling the same way up until this point, but I promise you all everything's gonna get better. I am pleased with the reactions so far. It's always great for a writer to hear that her readers are feeling things. So thank you all for your continued support. I have an exciting announcement regarding this story next update.
Sebastian wondered if it had been an illusion that the Earl had come to see him last night. It had been a rather dreadful one and he certainly hoped that if the young master really had been there he had dropped by once everything had settled down. What had happened before that…well, it was exceedingly humiliating for a butler of his station, not to mention a demon.
He'd been blinded by pain as he hadn't known before, which was a bit astonishing as he had definitely experienced his fair share over his lifetime. But this…this was different. His body was still feeling the effects but it wasn't as intense.
The next thing he'd known the young master was beside him, hands clutching at him, an anxious tone in the boy's that the demon had rarely heard. Though he knew it was uncharacteristic of him to act in such a way, the voice soothed him and he'd crawled toward it, every movement as though pins were driving themselves into his muscles. Sebastian had sighed and collapsed upon him in what he was sure was the most ungraceful fashion. He hadn't cared though; all that had mattered was the Earl's warmth.
Sometime during the night the other had slipped away. Sebastian didn't know when, if he'd even been awake for it. He was simply exhausted.
When he wasn't… well then he was something else entirely. He was dangerous to the Earl; he knew that, he'd always known that. But when he was a demon he'd been able to regulate that danger. Whatever he was becoming now, he couldn't control it and it was problematic. Because no matter what vicious thoughts and violent actions he wanted to commit while in that mentality, above all, he still wanted to protect Ciel. Unfortunately he still wanted to be near him as well, and he couldn't have both. He was sure that if they continued on as they were, even though he was quite careful to be mindful of every aspect when the young master was near him, that eventually it was going to end very badly.
Ciel curled more tightly beneath the covers on his bed. He knew he should probably move, but couldn't bring himself to do so. It had been that way for the last few days. He knew that he was being ridiculous, that he shouldn't let the matter with Sebastian affect him as much at it had, but he couldn't help it. The breakdown he had been witness to in the cellar had shaken him more than he cared to admit.
That had been a week ago.
Since then he had spent more and more time in his room with the curtains drawn, refusing most foods and tea, leaving the warm cocoon of his bed only for short periods to use the bathroom. He had claimed he felt ill, which wasn't inaccurate, but it wasn't an actual physical ailment he was suffering from. Mey-Rin, Baldroy, and Finny had taken the Earl at his word, but he suspected that Tanaka was less easily fooled.
Though the steward didn't come right out and say anything, he had initially encouraged the Earl to go about his duties as normal, perhaps taking things a bit slowly for his health. Then Ciel had refused to get out of bed. Tanaka had chided him lightly, saying that he shouldn't allow anything trivial to get in his way of being the head of the household, but eventually he'd given up.
Ciel rolled over. He knew this behavior was not befitting to an Earl, or anyone who wanted to appear strong, but the fact was deep down, he knew he wasn't. He'd never been strong and that was exactly the problem. He'd always been weak, especially when it mattered most. He'd not been able to do anything to save his parents, to escape his captors. He'd needed Sebastian to do everything for him. Without the demon, without literally countless others helping him out of sticky situations, he'd have been dead many times over.
Now he didn't even have Sebastian anymore. And he could do nothing to help him. He knew little of the supernatural world, only glimpsing small bits of it. Reality was sometimes just as dark and terrifying as things that went bump in the night or the subjects of horror stories. Even if he were familiar with the other side, there was no treatment for Sebastian. There was no medicine. And he had seen the end result in the basement of the Beaumont Estate.
He sighed heavily, wishing that his breath would stop shaking when he did so. He wasn't going to cry. He hadn't in years, and wasn't about to start. Then he would be even weaker than he already was. Crying over the loss of a servant, it was unheard of for an Earl to do so.
But Sebastian hadn't merely been his servant. Perhaps at the start, but recently he had become more. Much more.
Ciel heard a tentative knock at the door. He was about to tell whomever it was to go away, but decided it was pointless. Better to have them come in to check on him, or say their piece, or whatever it was they wanted to do. If he ignored them they would leave. They all left eventually.
He heard the door open. Someone stepped into the room and closed it lightly. He listened to their footsteps crossing the room, wondering which one it would be this time. The figure sat down on the bed and was silent for many moments. Ciel wished they would get on with it. He wanted to close his eyes and try to sleep again. That was one thing he could still do fairly easily. But he waited, apprehensive.
"Hello, Ciel," It was a voice he hadn't heard in a while. Adeline.
"What are you doing here?" He asked in surprise.
"I came to visit you," She replied. "I'd heard you've fallen ill."
"I guess that's one way of putting it," Ciel said. He didn't want to talk about this, but guessed that if it had to happen, Adeline was his best option.
"Your servants are worried about you," Adeline continued.
"Did they tell you that?"
"Not in so many words," Adeline said. "I'm here on unrelated business. I didn't even know that you were sick until I arrived."
"What business?" Ciel asked. He couldn't imagine what she could be doing there.
"It's been some weeks since you visited Undertaker's shop," Adeline said. "You asked for items to deal with vampirism. It's Sebastian, isn't it? Silas—he turned him, didn't he?"
Ciel tried to ignore the question as his insides twisted. He knew what had been happening to Sebastian, had suspected that Adeline had heard the conversation when he'd gone to the funeral parlor, but to hear it spoken out loud…it was painful. It felt as though someone else had intruded on something that was between Sebastian and himself.
He supposed that his silence implicated that she spoke the truth. But he still wasn't sure exactly where Sebastian was on the transformation process.
There. Now he'd admitted it. A fat lot of good it would do.
"I'd suspected as much," Adeline said. Ciel could just see her nodding her head in that understanding way she had. "Since it had been a bit since you'd last been heard from, I figured perhaps I should check on the progression, if it was indeed what I feared."
"What did Undertaker have to say about that?" Ciel asked.
"He agreed it would be good to investigate," She replied. "He worries about you, you know."
"Well, he won't have to worry much longer," Ciel practically spat. "It'll be over soon."
"He told me to offer assistance."
"There's no cure," Ciel said, squeezing his eyes shut. He needed to keep calm or he was going to get irritated and say things he didn't mean. "You know that as well as anyone. So does Undertaker."
"There's no cure for humans."
Ciel's eyes snapped open and he sat up so quickly his head spun a bit. He whirled around in the bed, his heartbeat jockeying to a frenzied pace. He was vaguely aware that he was missing his eye patch but that seemed irrelevant in light of Adeline's recent comment.
She knew Sebastian wasn't human. No one was supposed to know that. The only one outside of Ciel and Sebastian was Sir Arthur. And he was quite certain that the writer hadn't gone spilling that little secret around. But if she knew and she was sent by Undertaker did that mean he knew as well? He must… The Earl had always suspected but it was still a shock.
His eyes were still wide in fear. Even if he'd tried to deny it at this point he knew that his reaction proved the opposite. Still he tried to assemble his features into something less alarmed. "I don't know what—"
Adeline held up a hand. "Please, don't insult my intelligence."
"If it were true, what difference would it make?" He asked.
"Well, apparently," Adeline said. "There's significant difference."
"Explain," Ciel leaned forward. He knew how horrible he must look; it had been days since he'd properly cared for himself or allowed anyone to care for him. But he was interested to hear this.
"It was written somewhere in an old book Undertaker had," Adeline said, taking a slip of paper from her pocket. "I wrote it down. "Those of alternative nature infected with vampirism must not drink except of bitter red from one of singular importantance to them. Do this and the change can be reversed lest they fall completely into darkness"."
"What does it mean?" Ciel asked. He examined the poem in her neat looped script. It didn't make any sense reading it himself for a second time.
"I'm not sure," Adeline admitted. "I didn't really understand it either. But it's something, right?"
Ciel admitted it was something, something entirely useless. He sighed. He knew that Adeline was trying to help but there was nothing she could do. Nothing anyone could do.
"He had a lot of odd books," Adeline said. "He's a rather strange fellow, isn't he?"
"That's putting it lightly," Ciel rolled his eyes. "I appreciate the effort, but it doesn't mean anything to me."
"I understand you care for your butler," Adeline said. "It's no use trying to deny that either. I don't know exactly what is going on here, but I know what it's like to have someone important taken from you and turned into the stuff of nightmares."
Ciel stared as she drew out a long thin object. It looked a lot like the stake she had wielded at the Beaumont Estate, only thinner, tapering to a point. It appeared to be made of some kind of metal, though it was material that Ciel had never seen before. It was the grey color, the same grey as the metal of a gun. The peaked edges seemed to glisten with sharpness.
She laid it on the bed, where it stood out starkly against the white sheets. Ciel momentarily reflected that they weren't as nice as they usually were, in fact they should have been changed three days prior and were wrinkled into oblivion. The things that went amiss when someone wasn't there to attend to it…
"What is that?" He asked, though it was quite obvious what it was meant for.
"Something to help make things easier," Adeline replied. "If you feel that you have no other option."
A/N: Alright here we are with only FIVE more chapters to go! As I stated on Thursday's update I have an announcement and it is that this story will be getting a sequel. It's something I've thought about since probably the middle of this work and something that at least a couple people have expressed some interest in. It's only about 4k words in but I am excited by the events unfolding so far. So. Look for that in the coming year. (I always like to have a substantial amount written before I start posting, that's how the updates stay so consistent)
Get your tissues ya'll.
It had been three days since Adeline's visit. Ciel had thought hard about the options presented to him. He'd stared at the scrap of paper with that cryptic message on it until he'd unfolded and refolded it so many times it was in danger of tearing. But there was nothing in it. Just a lot of colorful language.
He rose from the bed. He felt disgusting, but he'd had no urge to do anything for over a week. Now he rang the bell to alert those downstairs he required their services. He reflected how different it was, having to wait for the humans to attend to him. He had become so used to Sebastian appearing at a moment's notice.
Tanaka appeared. "You called, my lord?"
"Yes," Ciel said. "I require a bath. Tell Bard to prepare a light, early dinner, and have Mey-Rin in to change the sheets."
Ciel went through the motions without really registering anything that was going on. He stepped into the bath, feeling over week's worth of filth being washed from his skin. Tanaka dressed him; it felt a bit odd having actual clothing on. He'd been wearing the nightshirt for the better part of the past three days. He ate his dinner, which was surprising good and not burnt, barely tasting the food as it slid down his throat. He chewed slowly as it had been days since he'd had a proper meal and he didn't want to risk being sick.
"I want you to take the others and go to the townhouse for a couple of days," Ciel instructed after dinner. He and Tanaka were in his study. "Sebastian should be returning from his business tonight and I want the manor undisturbed."
Tanaka stared at him, and Ciel could tell that he was confused. However, as a true Phantomhive servant, he would not question his master's orders. He nodded, bowing low, and went to go and make preparations.
Ciel knew his behavior was strange. He'd been languishing in bed for days, not eating enough, sleeping entirely too much, having no interest in any of the things he needed to do to remain a respectable noble. Now he appeared to have flipped around completely, and he was ordering everyone to leave. However, he needed everyone out of the manor. He needed to keep those who remained safe, in case things ended badly.
He watched the carriage disappearing up the road in the dark through the window. Night was falling fast and the horses were soon swallowed up in the darkness. He shivered, but not from the cold.
Ciel descended the steps to the cellar slowly, mind swirling with thoughts. He considered turning back, but it was better he deal with the problem sooner rather than later. After all, Sebastian was probably going to live a long time no matter what form he was in, demon or otherwise. And he had wasted enough time being indecisive. It wasn't a good look for an Earl.
He ran his hand along the wall of the winding staircase, feeling the stone beneath his fingers, drawing out the inevitable for as long as he could. He hid the iron stake underneath his cloak. The edges were sharp like the blade of a knife. He hoped that Undertaker was right; that Sebastian wouldn't feel a thing. That was what Adeline had told him anyway, and he was inclined to believe her, mostly because he didn't want his butler in any more pain.
Ciel paused outside the room where Sebastian was, collecting himself, and then he stepped through the entrance. The demon was curled in the same corner, as he had been the last time he'd seen him. Sebastian was perhaps a littler dirtier but that was to be expected after spending weeks in the cellar.
The demon's head jerked in his direction, the chains clinking faintly. Sebastian's eyes were glowing. Ciel noted with a slightly sick feeling that they were not his usual ruby, but that lemon yellow that the vampires' had. He wondered when that had happened and if there were any other changes he didn't know about.
"Sebastian," Ciel said again. He forced himself to take a step forward, and then another. He could see the fangs glistening behind the muzzle. It seemed that the additional ones had appeared for good as well.
He bent down close to the demon. He knew it was risky, especially since he hadn't been around the other in days. Drawing his cloak closer around himself, he reached out his other hand. The demon's hair was soft in his fingers. He felt tears pricking his eyes, but refused to let them fall. He hadn't cried in a long time and was sure as hell not about to start. Now was not the time to be weak.
Ciel wished there was something he could do outside of the unavoidable. But Sebastian was no longer fit to be his butler. He couldn't be anything to him in this state. The young lord had put it off as long as he could, but he had supposed he knew that in the end, this was the way that things would turn out. It didn't make it any easier.
"I haven't been to visit you," Ciel said. "I know I probably should have, but I've been having a lot to think about."
The demon stared at him, his eyes two permanently burning coals. Ciel had no idea if he even comprehended what he was saying. Maybe the demon's mind had changed as well. He supposed that it was perhaps good if Sebastian didn't understand.
"You've been at my side always," Ciel continued. "You're my most faithful servant. It's unfortunate that this has happened to you."
He fell silent for a moment. Memories were rising in his mind. When he'd begun things with Sebastian he truthfully hadn't thought that it would progress as far as it had. He'd thought maybe he'd give things a go, seeing as he couldn't seem to stop shaking the dreams and the desires that came with them. What he hadn't counted on was liking it. He didn't think he'd end up feeling the things he had. And he certainly didn't think that it would culminate in the situation he was now in.
Just a month prior he'd been at the play, and he supposed that was when things had really started to shift for them. Sure there'd been relations previous, but that night was different. Going to the manor, removing Sebastian's gloves, finding himself becoming more accepting of his demon as he was.
Ciel wished once again that he could go back to that time, but he knew he couldn't. He had to keep moving forward, to accomplish his revenge, even if that included Sebastian no longer being with him. Although, how was he accomplish anything without Sebastian's help?
He grabbed the back of Sebastian's head and drew it to his chest. It was dangerous he knew but he would be quick. He could feel the hard cage of the muzzle dig into his ribs as he drew the stake from beneath his cloak. It glimmered faintly in the light of the candles.
"I'm sorry," He whispered. "I'm sorry it had to be this way."
He was about to plunge it into Sebastian's back when he paused. Adeline had said there was another way, according to that book at Undertaker's. But what way was that?
Ciel held the demon to him. He would have given anything, anything, to have Sebastian go back to normal. To make him better. But he didn't know how to help him. He'd thought it about it so many times before then, ever since that night when he'd walked into the bathroom and the whole ugly secret had spilled itself into existence.
Sebastian, at the heart of it, was a beast of desire. He lusted after things and took them whenever convenient. And he'd wanted many things from Ciel over the course of their contract. First he'd desired his soul, and that was still established, though not prevalent as it had been. Then Ciel had opened the door to being physical and it was clear that the demon desired his body as well. Only now…
He flashed back to the moment in Sebastian's room, after he'd come back from London with the restraints. He stared down at Sebastian's hands now; the butler's nails looked a bit too long and pointed but he found he didn't really mind. The contract symbol glowed faintly. Of course they were still connected, until the very end.
Do you want it, my blood?
He'd asked Sebastian that and it had been clear that something else had taken over. He remembered the claws scraping his neck. How he had been quite sure the demon was going to kill him right then and there. Because Sebastian wasn't just a demon anymore, he had other things coursing through him. And if that's what he needed, Ciel was now prepared to give it to him.
Ciel drew back and let go of Sebastian. Then he touched the tip of the stake to his arm and slashed across his skin. Blood burst forth immediately, running in crimson streaks down his forearm. It dripped onto the stone floor of the cellar.
He tossed away the blade. It landed with a clatter a few feet away. He moved closer to his butler.
"Sebastian," He said, untying his eye patch. He let it flutter to the floor as well. "Drink my blood. That's an order."
Sebastian stared at him. Then he shook his head slightly. Ciel could see though that his eyes had found a new glow, that he was resisting his urge with every fiber of his being.
"Please, Sebastian," Ciel said. Desperation welled in his chest. He produced the key to the lock on the muzzle and within minutes was fumbling with the lock, undoing the straps, and tearing it away. "Undertaker said this might work. You have to do it. I command you."
The demon blinked his burning eyes. Ciel held out his arm. He hoped this wasn't a mistake. But honestly he didn't care. He'd never been one to value his life after the deaths of his parents that much were obvious. He figured he'd have his revenge and die satisfied. Maybe he would die now, earlier than planned, anxious to save the one who would be his end.
He didn't even know if this would save Sebastian, but he was out of options. He did know though, that vampires needed blood, and if that was what Sebastian was now, at least in part, that he needed it as well. The thought sickened Ciel, but he stayed rooted to the spot. If this was how things had to be, then he was prepared to pay the price.
The blood was still running down his arm and the wound throbbed dully. Ciel barely felt the pain. He concentrated on the figure in front of him.
Sebastian moved with lightening speed. He grabbed Ciel's arm and a moment later the Earl felt the demon's teeth against his skin. Fangs pierced into him and more fiery pain spread down his limb. He grit his teeth and looked away, hoping it would be over quickly. He could feel himself becoming lightheaded as Sebastian sucked his blood, but he was surprised by how calm he felt.
Sebastian released his grip a moment later. Ciel pulled back, surprised. He had been sure that he was going to be drained. And in a way he had come to terms with that the moment he'd pierced his arm with the blade. All that had mattered to him was that Sebastian got back to normal.
The Earl's breath was coming in short ragged gasps. He felt dizzy and slightly nauseous. The wound in his arm was still dripping, but he ignored it. He raised his eyes, preparing for the worst.
Sebastian's eyes weren't glowing anymore. No, they looked quite ordinary. They were also no longer yellow, but that odd coppery red shade they always were. He was looking at the Earl in disbelief. There was a trickle of blood dribbling from the corner of his mouth, but otherwise he looked the picture of most able butler that he had before.
"My lord," He whispered.
Ciel didn't respond. He didn't have anything left to say. Heart hammering in his chest, he leaned forward and closed the distance between his and Sebastian's faces, pressing their lips together. He could taste his blood on the demon's mouth, but he didn't care. For that moment, it felt like the only thing he wanted to do.
A/N: Hello everyone! This chapter was just a full rollercoaster. And quite honestly, from the moment Ciel is walking down to the cellar to when he almost stabs Sebastian-that was a scene that came to me early on in writing this. I had no idea that vampire infection was going to be the cause, but I am happy with how everything turned out.
Chapter 38: Chapter 37
A/N: This chapter was actually very serendipitous. I realized last week that it was going to be released on Dec. 14th (in the USA), which as we all know is our dear Earl Ciel Phantomhive's birthday. This was actually in no way planned, but it made me smile and it's pretty damn appropriate. So happy 142nd, young master! :D
Sebastian wasn't quite sure what had happened, but he felt as though a veil had been lifted off of him. One moment he was in the cellar, brain foggy, seeing the Earl in front of him, mumbling a lot of nonsensical things. Then the next his vision had sharpened again, and he felt much better than he had in weeks. And a moment later the Earl's lips had crashed against his own in a way that was unprecedented, but certainly not unwelcome.
The young master seemed to have become someone else entirely. He was not the calm and collected head of the household as he always was, but something more unrestrained. His hands were moving all over, touching every part of Sebastian that he could. He produced another key, undoing the cuffs from the chains, casting them away. And he kept up with that fervent kissing. Sebastian had to admit he was surprised. Since they never had done this before, he assumed the Earl's skills would be on par with the rest of his sexual experience, which was to say there was little to none at all. However, this was something that Ciel appeared to be naturally good at.
He was further shocked, however, when the young master drew back slightly and growled in Sebastian's ear. "Sebastian—my bedroom—now."
The demon gathered up the Earl and ascended the stairs into the manor. This was a sight he hadn't seen for weeks, and had honestly thought there was a good chance he might not see again. It wouldn't have been that hard on him as he had no attachment to the place, but it was the home of his master, and they had shared quite a few pleasant memories there.
He wondered if Ciel really meant to follow through on what he had said that one day down in the cellar, when he'd confessed to letting Sebastian "take him" if things came out favorably for them. He had wondered what the other had meant by that initially. Surely he hadn't been meaning that Sebastian could take his soul, that wouldn't make sense, given the nature of the contract. But as he'd thought about it he realized there was really only one answer. And though he'd internally purred with pleasure at the thought, he had guessed that the statement had been made in the vein of someone who says something when they don't believe that they will actually have to follow through on it.
This was what he suspected as they made their way toward the stairs leading up to the lord's chambers. That the Earl hadn't really thought he'd have to do it. So perhaps he was only doing so as a sense of duty.
Sebastian supposed he should say something if this were the case, much as he didn't want to. He was a demon after all, and would take whatever was offered, and even if it weren't offered. He remembered asking the young master when he'd confessed to the dreams if he'd only want relations between them because he'd ordered them. No, he'd not wanted it if it were forced. He'd wanted Sebastian to be a willing participant. And in this singular case, Sebastian wanted the same.
"Young master," He said as they made their way down the hall. "We don't have to do this if—"
"I want to."
The statement was blunt, leaving no room for argument. The Earl pushed open the door to his room. Though it was tidied and Sebastian saw the sheets were fresh, his demon senses could detect the room carried a certain stench. It was as though the Earl had spent days in here, unwashed for many of them by the smell of it.
He realized of course the state of his own appearance, but this didn't seem to matter as Ciel drove him back toward the bed. The Earl pushed him down on it, straddling him, fingers working at the buttons of his shirt, pulling his tailcoat off his shoulders. He felt his clothing rapidly disappearing in the dark; the shirt, coat and vest, feeling his pants being hurriedly worked down his legs. He caught vague moments in the dim light of the moon seeping in through the curtains. It appeared to have moved behind some clouds, casting shadows over everything.
Sebastian rose, refusing to be outdone by the young lord. He ripped open the other's shirt, buttons flying everywhere. The thought crossed his mind that he would end up probably having to mend the garment later, but it soon passed. The thing he wanted most at the moment was to have the Earl naked before him on the bed, and with one last tug, the other's undergarments were pulled down and his wish was granted.
Ciel sat up, looping his arms around Sebastian's neck, lips eagerly finding the other's own as he drew the demon to him. Sebastian entertained the kissing for a few minutes more, partly because it felt so good, but mostly because he couldn't believe it was actually happening after all this time. He allowed the Earl's hands to explore his body, exploring the boy's own as well; though they were familiar with each other it had been quite some time since they'd both been fully invested in the act. And this was the first time that there was promise of taking things further.
Now came the hard part. The young master was wholly inexperienced in this realm of sexual intimacy, and though it didn't bother Sebastian, he knew it could be painful for humans, especially one so small. Still, the Earl didn't seem to be experienced any reservations as he reached out and stroked Sebastian's length. The unexpected touch brought the demon from his thoughts, a wave of pleasure rippling over his body. Well, if this was what the young master wanted then that was what he was going to receive. But the demon wasn't going to do so without any instructions.
"Are you ready, my lord?" He asked.
Ciel stared at him curiously. He nodded. Sebastian wondered if he had remembered everything they'd talked about that day after Ciel had questioned him about sex, particularly about sex between two men. For obvious reasons it hadn't been included in that book in the townhouse library. It was of course present, but not talked about in high society. That was for the depraved, those who had lost their faith in God, which of course wasn't true at all. Though Sebastian supposed that this did apply to them on both counts, both were rather corrupt; Ciel for a human and Sebastian in line with his true nature, and neither believed in God. Still, the demon didn't believe it wrong to be this way with his master, and he knew the other felt the same.
He supposed that the Earl might have missed some of the finer points of the discussion. He'd been interested enough in the subject, but was prone to some fits of blushing and awkward mumblings. Still, Sebastian was certain he'd grasped the basic idea of what was to come, and what was going where, so he began to suck on his fingers, coating them thoroughly with saliva.
"Now, young master," Sebastian said, as he directed the other onto his stomach. "You'll have to have to relax a bit, or this is going to be unnecessarily painful. Your muscles are all coiled up like springs."
"Just do it, already," Ciel said, glancing backward. There was an impatient frown tugging at his lips. "This isn't some methodical business transaction. You don't have to be so orderly."
Sebastian smirked. So that was how he wanted it.
The Earl gasped as Sebastian slipped the first finger inside him. The demon tried to be careful, but not too careful, as it was apparent that the younger had no time for that. Ciel's muscles contracted, pushing back against the intrusion, and Sebastian decided to wait for a few moments while the other got used to the feeling and eventually settled around the digit.
He moved it slowly in and out a few times, before adding a second. Ciel made a slightly choked noise at this, hissing against the burn as Sebastian stretched him wider, scissoring the fingers inside his hole. The demon knew that this was essential however, quickly adding a third; otherwise there was no way that the Earl was going to be able to take his length. Sebastian normally didn't waste so much effort with foreplay, but considering this was the first time, and he was truly interested in his partner, he found he didn't mind.
Sebastian supposed this was as good a time as any. He removed the fingers, smirking as Ciel whimpered a little at the loss. He stretched out lazily next to the Earl, meeting the blue and violet eyes with his own coppery ones.
"What are you waiting for?" Ciel asked.
"Well, we should discuss which position you would like to begin with, young master," Sebastian said.
Clearly, he had forgotten this part of the discussion, but Sebastian was only too happy to enlighten him again.
"Of course young master," Sebastian said. "Though I detest the expression, there is more than one way to skin a cat, and the same applies to the matter at hand. I can take you as you are now on your stomach, or on your back as those in mixed couples most often do, or there are a slew of other options not talked about in polite company where your legs are here, or you're bent over there, and—"
"Enough," Ciel growled, and though he couldn't be positive, Sebastian was sure that he was blushing furiously. He was silent for a few moments, and then he turned over slowly onto his back. He nodded at Sebastian.
The demon moved forward and spread the Earl's legs apart. He took a few moments, stroking himself into full readiness, though he was already quite hard and eager to begin. He settled himself between the young master's thighs, pressing himself against his entrance.
"Are you ready, my lord?" He asked.
"Yes," Ciel said. He paused. "Will it hurt?"
"Perhaps a bit," Sebastian said. "Just remember to relax. I promise I'll do my best to be gentle."
"You don't have to," Ciel replied. "I want to feel you."
Sebastian needed no further invitation. He pushed in, a bit slower than he might normally have done, but he didn't want to end up breaking the Earl the first time out. The young master was deliciously tight and he became tighter still as Sebastian moved forward, past the ring of muscles, sliding himself fluidly inside. He paused, allowing the Earl a few moments to settle around him, before he pulled back slightly and thrust back inside.
Ciel gasped, partly in pain, but mostly in pleasure and he dug his nails into Sebastian's arms as his back arched. Sebastian grinned. This was something that he'd only ever imagined might happen between them. He never had believed that the Earl would be inclined to take their relations to this level, figuring that the other would get his minor exploits out and pass off the experience as just events that had occurred out of curiosity, never to act on or speak of them ever again.
As he slipped into a pattern, he realized that this might not be the case. However much he had wanted this, it appeared that the young master wanted it twice as much. Though he was quite certain that it was not all roses for other beneath him, the younger appeared to be taking everything rather well, save for the occasional cry or hiss. Sebastian supposed that pain accompanied by pleasure was quite different than strictly pain alone. He angled himself toward the Earl's most sensitive spot, an area that he knew the other wasn't even aware of.
The effect was immediate. Ciel groaned as Sebastian stroked against his prostate. His legs came up and looped around the other's waist, pulling Sebastian toward him. He could feel the other's smaller member twitching against his stomach and he reached a hand between them to stroke at it a few times before letting go again. He knew that the young master wouldn't last long, he never did, and while that was all right, Sebastian knew that he had to come first; otherwise things were going to get more painful for the Earl.
Sebastian tried to concentrate more on the feeling of his master around his length, which was not difficult to do. He hadn't had relations of this sort in a long while, but this definitely felt a bit different than previous times. He supposed his most recent encounter had been with Beast at the circus, but that had meant absolutely nothing to him. He'd needed information and she'd needed attention so he'd bedded her. It hadn't been entirely unsatisfying but he'd felt no connection whatsoever. However, being this way now with the Earl…
Ciel's hands grabbed the sides of his face, lips greedily meeting his own again and again. Sebastian rolled his hips, working to hit the prostate every time, both as he thrust in and out. The lord tightened around him, each stroke threatening to put him over the edge. He wished it could go longer, but he knew he wouldn't last.
He slammed inside the other, a bit harder than he meant to, and Ciel raked his nails down Sebastian's back. The demon came, feeling pleasure spreading over his entire body, shooting through his length buried deep inside the Earl. He could feel himself filling the other, marking him as no one else had, something he had sworn to do ever since Ciel had left that mark on his neck so many months before.
He wasn't quite finished however; there was still the young master to attend to. The butler pulled himself out, and curled a hand around the other, cutting off the whine of protest that fell from Ciel's lips as he slipped out. He stroked fast, his other hand moving to slip two fingers back inside the Earl's warm hole, which was now hot and slick with his own seed. He crooked his fingers against the spot, meeting every thrust of the other's hips into his hand, knowing that release could not be far behind.
"Sebastian," Ciel whispered. His teeth clamped down against the demon's neck, hard, as he spent himself into the other's hand. Sebastian could feel his skin pierce, felt his blood drip slightly around the Earl's lips. He could feel himself becoming aroused again at the action, but he pushed the thoughts back down. There would be plenty of time for another round later.
Ciel pulled back from Sebastian, his breathing hard and ragged. The demon stared at his charge, who collapsed back on the bed, pupils blown, a small dot of blood on his chin. Sebastian leaned down and licked it away. There was a dull throbbing in his neck from the wound, and as he reached up a hand to stem it, his eyes came to rest on the Earl's arm where the cut from the blade of the stake, as well as the imprint of his own fangs stood out prominently on the pale skin. He really should have attended to that before anything else, but the Earl had been insistent. And who was he to ignore an order, especially one with such satiating ends?
Now that everything was over, Sebastian wasn't entirely sure how he felt. He was quite satisfied, the whole affair proving to be much more enjoyable than he had thought it would be. However, he wasn't exactly sure what he was supposed to do now. This was normally the part where he would begin to redress and slip away from his bedded companion, never to see them again. That obviously couldn't occur, since he was bound to this bedded companion, and he found himself sitting in the bed quite awkwardly, debating on the best course of action to take.
Ciel answered his question for him. The Earl rose, crawling across the bed until he had reached Sebastian. The light from the moon illuminated him, casting some shadows across his face and the demon reflected that his young master might never have looked more striking than he did at that moment. Ciel tangled his fingers in Sebastian's hair, meeting his lips with the most tender of kisses, one arm lazily looping around the butler's neck. He pressed himself against the other, a thin sheen of sweat filmy on his skin. They stayed like this for a few minutes in silence, each lost in their own thoughts.
"How was it, young master?" Sebastian felt the question tumble out before he could stop it. Now he had left himself open to critique, something that the Earl was shameless about giving.
"It stung a bit, but wasn't altogether terribly unpleasant," Ciel smirked at him. "I certainly want to give it another go."
"Very good, sir," Sebastian replied. Now that he was coming down from the pleasure high, it occurred to him just how much of a mess everything was, and how dirty they both were. There was blood on the sheets, and their skin, not to mention dirt, and he really did have to bandage the young master's arm before he got an infection… "How about a bath?"
Chapter 39: Chapter 38
A/N: Next Thursday this story is gonna end. Makes me sad, but I am hard at work on the sequel and some other fun stuff.
Ciel had to admit he was a bit despondent that Sebastian had washed away all the traces of their escapade. He knew of course that it had to be done, but he'd wanted to hold onto the feeling and scent for just a bit longer. Still, he guessed it was for the best.
He was sitting on the edge of the tub, watching Sebastian dressing his arm. The other was taking his time to clean the wound. Ciel focused on the marks caused by Sebastian's fangs. Never had he willingly thought he would ask the demon to drink his blood, but he'd never thought he'd have a reason to. It had worked though, brought Sebastian out of his stupor, and it appeared that he was cured of his vampirism.
Ciel shifted his eyes toward Sebastian's face. The other's eyes flicked up at him, and the butler smiled slightly. Ciel was overcome with the urge to kiss him, but he resisted. There would be plenty of time for that later, now that they'd broken down that barrier.
He shifted slightly on the edge of the tub. His ass felt a bit tender, but it wasn't painful. Feeling Sebastian within him hadn't been too incredibly uncomfortable, but it had been very filling in a way that he'd never experienced anything like before. He found it was a bit sensitive to be pressed against the porcelain lip of the tub however.
"There," Sebastian finished wrapping the bandage. "That should hold nicely."
"Thank you," Ciel replied. He leaned forward and wrapped his arms around Sebastian's neck.
The other surprised him by drawing back quickly, his hands falling around the Ciel's hips, pulling him up to hold him against this body. Ciel twined his legs around Sebastian's waist, pressing himself against the demon as the other strode from the bathroom back toward his bedroom.
Sebastian had changed the sheets with rapid speed before they'd ventured to bathe. Now he laid Ciel upon them and the younger sighed as he breathed in the scent of fresh soap. He was exhausted, both mentally and physically, but he wasn't quite ready to go to sleep just yet.
The demon was on him in an instant, kissing him rather roughly, one hand making it's way through the neck of his nightshirt to stroke at a nipple. Ciel responded in kind, wondering if they were going to go for another round, and if so, what the point of the last twenty minutes had been. However, the butler pulled back, breaking the kiss. He stared down at the other and Ciel wondered what was wrong.
"What is it?" He asked. "What are you staring at?"
"You," Sebastian answered simply.
"Yes, but why?"
"I am still a bit confused as to what happened down in the cellar," Sebastian said. "How did you come to the conclusion you did?"
"I'm not sure," Ciel replied. "Truthfully, I wasn't sure how to help you. I didn't think I could."
"I didn't think you could either," Sebastian said. "It appeared my condition was beyond help, and I was prepared to accept that. In all honesty, I presumed that you were coming to kill me tonight."
Ciel felt his stomach coil a bit at that. "I was."
"I know," Sebastian said. "I saw that blade when you tossed it away and recognized it immediately."
"What is it?" Ciel asked. "I'd never seen anything like it before."
"Something that can be used to effectively, permanently, kill demons," Sebastian replied. "There's only a few of them in existence, and I am curious to know how Undertaker got hold of one. I assume that is where you got it?"
"Adeline brought it over," Ciel nodded. "Along with this weird bit of scripture."
"Oh?" Sebastian said. "What did it say?"
Ciel rose and slid off the bed. His clothing was still in an untidy pile on the floor. He found his pants and pulled the folded bit of paper from his pocket. Bringing it back over, he settled back against the pillows while Sebastian read the words.
The demon smirked. "Well, this is quite interesting."
"What is?" Ciel didn't know what Sebastian could be talking about. He hadn't been able to decipher anything in the words himself.
"I have to wonder who wrote these words," Sebastian replied. "I'd be most curious to see the book they came from. Seems you came to the conclusion without knowing you had."
Ciel was confused. "I've absolutely no idea what you're talking about."
"Look at it," Sebastian passed the paper to him. "The victim "must not drink except from the cup of bitter red", I assume that means blood. The next part is a bit more confusing because I don't know how one interprets it, but it would appear to have to be someone you shared a particular bond with."
"Or a contract," Ciel said, catching on. "The last part was easy to figure out, and the only one I understood. That if it was done, the victim would be cured or if not, they'd succumb to the effects of the change for good and die."
"That would have been quite tragic," Sebastian said. Now that he was clearly no longer in danger of dying, or in pain from the change, he was more like his old self. Ciel was glad. He had missed the demon's sassiness.
He placed the paper on the nightstand and fixed Ciel with a stare. "But you said you didn't figure out the instructions, so how did you know what to do?"
"I didn't," Ciel confessed. He bit his lip and considered stretching the truth, but decided against it. He didn't want to lie to Sebastian. Not now that they'd broken down every barrier between them. "I just thought about what you required."
"Which was?" Sebastian raised an eyebrow.
It was a simple answer, but it did carry a lot of weight. The demon was silent for a few moments. Ciel watched him carefully; unsure of what he would say when he next spoke.
"I didn't want to see you like that anymore," Ciel said. "I'd lost my best servant—it was unpleasant."
"I will admit, I was surprised to see you order me to drink from you," Sebastian said. "I knew I should feed, perhaps I wouldn't have reached such a state as I did if I had, but I refused to do so. A demon's pride can be a damning thing."
Ciel smirked. "Though according to that information if you had taken blood from anyone except me, you'd be doomed."
"I'm already doomed," Sebastian said. "It's a casualty of being a demon."
Ciel did know this and that had been exactly the point. He'd been prepared to do whatever necessary to help Sebastian live, even if it meant he had to die. Even if consuming his blood did nothing but satisfy Sebastian's thirst, Ciel had wanted to do it.
"I like you as you are," Ciel said quietly. Then he cursed himself for being so open. He still felt the need to guard his emotions, even though the space between them had gotten smaller and smaller.
Sebastian was silent for a moment. "Do you really mean that?"
Ciel knew he couldn't take it back. He was quite sure his feelings were written all over his face, and even if he denied everything Sebastian wouldn't believe him. He swallowed hard and gave the briefest of nods. The demon reached out a hand and tentatively caressed the side of his face. Ciel leaned into the touch. He loved having Sebastian's hands on him.
"I'm not good for you," Sebastian said. "You alone know the extent of my true nature. You've seen me kill with abandon, destroy things, and one day I will tear your soul from your body. You still wish to say you feel that way towards me?"
Ciel knew that if anyone else heard this, they would think he was insane. They would think he was insane anyway from having entered into the contract with Sebastian in the first place. But Ciel guessed this really wasn't so different than some human relationships. Humans were actually much the same way; they killed and destroyed with little regard for the consequences. They fought over the most trivial matters. Every scrap of worth was up for grabs and only the strongest survived.
The Earl pushed Sebastian back on the bed, pressing his lips roughly against the other's. He pulled back slightly, staring at the bite mark on the side of Sebastian's neck. The demon was his; his to do whatever he liked with, and he supposed in a way he also belonged to the demon. His eyes rested on the bandage on his arm, bearing a matching mark from Sebastian's fangs. Two halves of one of the darkest of bonds.
"Eternally," Ciel whispered, settling himself on top of the demon's body. "Until I breathe my last."
Sebastian didn't know what to say. The Earl's words had truthfully surprised the demon. No one had ever said something like that to him, at least not outside of his kind, because they were the only ones who would like those things about him. Humans were not usually quite so wicked and those that were, weren't prone to sharing such feelings. Yes, the young master was as puzzling as ever.
He sighed softly, turning the situation over in his mind. Perhaps the other was simply tired and therefore what he mistook for affection was really just the mumblings of a sleepy mind. He was sure that the Earl could not actually mean what he'd declared. He was probably just hoping Sebastian bedded him again.
Still, this wasn't the first time that his young master had done something that confused Sebastian. The night after the play he'd told him he didn't have to wear his gloves anymore, except in public. That had been an interesting turn of events. Especially after he said he felt differently about having to look at the demon's nails.
And then there had been the whole business with his infection of vampirism. He'd been sure as soon as the other found out about his condition he'd banish him away or try to find a way to get rid of him. Only that wasn't what had happened. The Earl was cautious of course, but from the beginning he'd done what he could to try and help Sebastian. It was only until things got impossibly bad that he entertained the idea of putting him out of his misery. And even then he'd changed his mind at the last minute.
His eyes rested on the bandage circling the Earl's forearm, which was resting underneath the boy's head as he slept, perched on top of Sebastian. He still couldn't believe that he'd drunk the other's blood, or rather that the other had let him. He wasn't quite sure about what had happened there, or why. Ciel had danced around the matter when he'd said something.
The only conclusion he could come to was that the Earl had decided that he didn't want to lose his servant and therefore his only clear shot at revenge. There was no other scenario that made sense. Because if Sebastian allowed himself to really dwell on the matter, another option appeared: one in which Ciel had given his blood because he believed it would save Sebastian and he hadn't cared about the consequences, even if it meant he'd die instead.
If he thought about the situation from that angle it confused him more. He was the one who eventually was going to take the young master's soul. Perhaps if Ciel had left well enough alone, or he'd gone through with his initial decision to slay Sebastian with that blade, then he'd have been free. The contract would have dissolved and he could have gone about his life without the constant threat of death looming over him. Obviously his time would eventually come, but the reapers would be the ones to collect his soul, and file away his cinematic record with all the others.
Sebastian wished he could sleep, as he had been in the same position for several hours. Now that he was cured from his ailment, he didn't feel lethargic and his body once again wanted to keep moving. He was dreadfully behind on the housework, and he was sure that the other servants had been substandard during his time away. Ciel had told him that they believed he was on business. He wondered what the young master would have told them if he'd ended up killing him.
Ciel shifted on top of Sebastian. The demon kept still so as not to wake the other, but the urge to touch Ciel was too strong. He drew his arms up around the small body, pulling it to him. Ciel's eyes slid open. He nuzzled his face into the demon's neck, his breath warming Sebastian's skin.
"What is it, Sebastian?"
"Nothing, my lord," Sebastian replied. "Go back to sleep."
The next morning Ciel awoke feeling sore but satisfied. Sebastian wasn't in the bed with him any longer, but this wasn't unusual. He assumed that the butler had resumed his duties and this was confirmed when the other swept into the room to draw back the curtains. A quick glance at the clock revealed that it was later than the normal time he'd have risen. Sebastian appeared to have let him sleep in, a luxury he didn't often receive.
"Good morning, young master," Sebastian said. "I trust you slept well?"
Ciel nodded. "Where've you been?"
"Attending to the manor, of course," Sebastian replied. "It's not as dreadful as I had imagined it would become in my absence, but there is still much work to be done if I am to get it back to spotlessness. Would you care for some breakfast, my lord?"
Ciel slid out of bed. "Yes," He paused, a question weighing on his mind. He believed that Sebastian was cured, but he still didn't know exactly how that had happened or why. Not that it mattered; he hadn't lost the other and that was what counted.
He moved on his way allowing his thoughts to consume him. The morning rituals passed without him really realizing that they were occurring, and more than once he found himself simply lost in watching Sebastian, thinking about the night of Silas' party, the previous night, and the many weeks in between. A lot had changed, but one thing had remained the same. He and Sebastian were still together, though things between them were different.
"It appears we are alone in the manor," Sebastian said over breakfast. "I'd noticed last night but given the nature of activities it didn't seem appropriate to mention it."
"I sent them to the townhouse for a couple of days," Ciel said. "They thought you were returning from your business. I just—I didn't want anyone else here if things went wrong."
"You mean if I'd harmed you?" Sebastian supplied. "I assure you, that will never happen."
Ciel wasn't about to point out that Sebastian had almost taken his blood that one evening in the butler's quarters. He sighed softly. He didn't want to think about the massive amounts of paperwork that awaited him. Perhaps he'd just order Sebastian to do it all, it would be done much faster if he did.
"At any rate, I believe we could forego tackling any of that for a little while longer," Sebastian continued. "It appears we have the entire day to ourselves. So, any ideas on how you'd like to pass the time, young master?"
Ciel glanced over. The demon stared back at him, his gaze curious, waiting. The Earl didn't know what to say. What was he supposed to say? It was getting even chillier outside making him want to stay indoors. He didn't fancy a trip in the cold. Still, the option to leave the manor pulled at him.
Despite the nip in the air, Ciel found himself outside taking a walk. He'd bundled up quite a bit before doing so of course, not wanting to risk his health. After being inside the stale smelling interior of the manor for over a week, the fresh air felt good as it filled his lungs. Sebastian followed beside him like a silent shadow.
They made their way along the property at a leisurely pace. Ciel had really no set destination in mind. Though he detested exercise, it did feel good to go out and stretch his legs. And after the events of the previous night it were as though he were looking at the world through a different lens. Everything seemed sharper and more saturated, from the browning grass underfoot to the golden sun blazing it's way through the branches of the trees, nearly bare of leaves in the late fall.
He knew that the servants would be back the next day, probably earlier in the afternoon, but for now it was just he and Sebastian and that was how he preferred it. He was certain that Sebastian had been curious about his motivations for forgoing killing him, as well as the real reason for the backup of work, but that wasn't something that Ciel was prepared to share just yet.
They came to a river that ran near the property. The water was fast moving; churning in iron gray swirls after all of the recent rains. Ciel paused to watch it. Water could be a dangerous force sometimes; it could pull you under, stealing the breath from your lungs and exchanging it with it's own liquid torture. At the same time it was cleansing, it could wash away anything from dirt to blood, leaving you feeling fresh and pure. Well, anything on the outside that was.
Ciel sighed softly. He wished that there was something to fill the silence, but there was nothing he wanted to talk about. The two biggest topics were the dealings with the vampires and his relationship with Sebastian, both of which had reached unparalleled levels of complication.
On the one hand, he had no idea what to do about Marina. She had proved to be formidable, even against Sebastian whom he'd thought was near invincible up until this point. Perhaps he'd been too hasty in attacking the vampires and that had nearly lost Sebastian to him for good. But Ciel was never one to hesitate in a game, which was all a battle really was. Usually if one did that, then someone else made a move and could steal the spaces you wanted. Ciel wasn't used to losing, but he supposed that in reality he hadn't lost anything except a concrete base where the vampires dwelled.
On the other hand, there were things between Sebastian and himself to consider. He knew that he'd handled events pretty well until Sebastian had banished himself to the wine cellar, mostly because the Earl still had the other at his side and their daily activities proceeded with relative normality. However, as he watched the demon slipping further and further into becoming something else, his optimism had faltered. There was the very real chance that Sebastian would become irreversibly different, taking Ciel's best chance at revenge among other things with it. So he'd slipped into a kind of depression, only feeling better when he was near the demon, and falling further when it became unwise to do so.
It was at that point he decided that drastic measures had to be taken one way or the other. He had seriously considered killing Sebastian. It had been a very real possibility and initially why he had brought the blade to the cellar. However, once there he realized that he couldn't do it. No—he didn't want to do it. He wanted Sebastian to stay with him always, until the very end. And that wasn't going to be the end.
He knew the demon was confused by his actions, and he had slightly surprised himself. But he didn't want Sebastian to think his feelings had become any more deeply rooted than he probably already suspected. To do so would be opening him up for dangerous consequences. He still cursed himself for the fond slips of the tongue that had occurred before bed the previous night. However those had been true as well; he did like Sebastian how the other was. That included all his demon tendencies, though he supposed that the butler would find that difficult to comprehend.
"Are you alright, young master?" Sebastian asked.
Ciel realized he'd been standing in the same spot for quite some time. The water had blurred under his gaze and he'd shifted to looking at the trees across the river. But it didn't matter what he stared at or thought about, his eyes and mind were always drawn back to Sebastian.
"Fine," Ciel replied, resuming his stroll. "I guess I hadn't realized just how much it had rained the past few days."
Sebastian made a noise, but he didn't say anything. Ciel strode ahead with purpose. He didn't want to give any ideas that he was open to any sort of sensitive conversation. Of course, in true Sebastian fashion, this didn't stop the demon from trying.
"Things feel different don't they?" Sebastian commented.
It was innocent enough, but Ciel could sense it was laced with the urge to prod more information out of him. "I don't know what you mean."
"What surprised me the most was the astonishing amount of work that has piled up on your end," Sebastian continued. "It's as though you haven't been doing any of your lessons or business pertaining to the company. Whatever were you doing for the past week?"
Ciel's stomach turned. Suddenly the atmosphere had changed and he felt as though the air around them had turned even colder. He knew exactly how he'd spent the last week, acting very unlike the head of a noble household. He'd been debating over what to do with Sebastian. Sleeping constantly. Not eating much. He realized now that this really hadn't solved anything as he'd reached the same conclusion in the end that he'd always suspected he should take. It just would make him appear weak.
"I wasn't feeling so well," Ciel replied. "I think I'd caught something, but it cleared up earlier yesterday."
Sebastian hummed in a way that made Ciel think he didn't believe him. But of course, it didn't matter. The Earl wasn't about to say anything more on the subject. He continued walking, putting one foot in front of the other, determined to enjoy his time outside and not talk about their relationship. They had one, which should be all there was to it. Was he supposed to act like some fawning girl, expressing his feelings in heated passion? Was he supposed to be like Elizabeth would in this situation?
"Young master," Sebastian began, blatantly ignoring all the signals that Ciel was not a willing participant to the discussion. "Last night—"
Ciel couldn't take it anymore. The entire time they'd been walking for the last five minutes, he'd concentrated on the river and in doing so he'd noted how soft the banks at the side of it had become due to the rains and subsequent flooding. Though he abhorred the idea, it seemed quickest to get Sebastian off the topic at hand. He pretended to stumble and a second later the frigid water met him as he tumbled into the river.
He regretted his decision almost instantly. The water was cold, much colder than he had predicted it would be. It sapped all the strength from his muscles immediately and the air was forced from his lungs. This caused him to attempt to gasp for breath, allowing icy water to stream down his throat. The added layers of clothing, which had seemed to be a good idea when they'd left the manor, now were weighing him down, pulling him closer into the murky depths. It would be just his luck if he drowned. Ciel was not a great swimmer but he stood no chance in the subzero temperatures.
A moment later he heard another splash, muted beneath the water's surface and Sebastian's arms wrapped around him. The butler pulled him to the surface where he gasped, throat burning, as the demon swam toward the shore. He couldn't believe how far out the current had carried him. He'd been near the center of the river.
Sebastian tossed him up on the bank and climbed up after him. Ciel crawled along the grass, acutely aware of the wind that appeared to have picked up and was now lashing along his sodden body, driving out any last traces of warmth and reducing him to a shivering lump on the bank.
The butler had removed his overcoat before he'd dove in and he moved over to Ciel, methodically removing the younger's clothing even as Ciel squeaked in protest. He understood Sebastian wanted to get him out of the soaking garments, but that didn't mean he wished to be naked outside. What if someone saw him? He realized of course that this was unfounded fear, since this part of the river was on his property and nearest tenants of the land were a good five miles off.
"Are you alright, my lord?" Sebastian asked.
"Yes," Ciel replied, but his teeth were chattering uncontrollably. "I just slipped."
Sebastian wrapped Ciel in his coat and set off toward the manor without another word. Ciel leaned his head against Sebastian as they walked, wishing that it hadn't come to this. The only time he could really put how he felt into words was whenever something especially emotional was happening or had happened. Often times he found that was when he and Sebastian had engaged in something intimate. It was also prevalent when he'd born witness to Sebastian's change and become upset by the pain he'd had to see the other in. Otherwise, Ciel found words dried up and it made him act the exact opposite of how he'd approach any other situation, which was direct and calculating.
"You need to be more careful," Sebastian said as he put some logs in the fireplace in Ciel's room. "Imagine what could have happened if I weren't there to save you?"
But I you were there, that's why I did it, Ciel thought. He was a bit surprised by Sebastian's tone. If he didn't know any better, he'd have said the other was annoyed at him.
Sebastian sighed. "Now you'll have to have a bath, that water is filthy. You best hope you don't get sick—again." He added as if in after thought.
The words stung a bit. Obviously, Sebastian knew he'd not actually been sick the previous weeks. Ciel stayed silent and shivering in the woolen folds of Sebastian's coat, noting that it carried the faintest traces of the demon's scent. He drew it more tightly around his body, moving closer to the fire, wishing that he could take the last twenty minutes back.
Sebastian returned from the bathroom. His features were impassive but Ciel could sense he was still irritated. He gathered up the Earl, bringing him to the bathroom and ripping the coat away before submerging Ciel rather unceremoniously in the warm water. It felt good as it worked its way through Ciel's stiff and freezing muscles, making them tingle slightly as they came back to life.
"Sebastian," He began.
"You could have just said that you didn't wish to talk," Sebastian replied. "Instead of placing your life in unnecessary danger. I'm going back to collect your clothing. No doubt some interesting rumors would spread if the Earl's garments were to be found alongside the river with him not in them. Try not to drown in the bath."
Then he left the room without a backward glance. Ciel would have been angry if he'd not been so shocked. He'd lost his eye patch somewhere in the river and his seal was fully exposed. He could demand Sebastian come back and apologize to him if he wanted. Except for he knew that Sebastian had nothing to say sorry for. The demon was simply reacting in a valid way to how Ciel had treated him.
He sat in the tub waiting for Sebastian to come back, knowing with the other's speed it wouldn't be long. At last Sebastian appeared at the door again, bearing a pile of warm towels. Ciel allowed himself to be helped from the tub and dried off, though the latter action was a bit rougher than normal.
Ciel tried and failed several times between dressing in fresh clothing and settling down in a chair before the fire with a blanket wrapped around his shoulders to say something to Sebastian. He had a feeling that any words would fall on deaf ears at this point however. It was clear that Sebastian, for whatever reason, was interested in talking intimately about their intimate relationship.
This confused Ciel as well, because he didn't understand why it would matter. Sebastian was a creature of lust and as such sexual acts really should just be par for the course for him. The demon had vanished again, but he returned once more bearing a cup of tea. He handed it to the Earl who sniffed it, nose wrinkling at the unfamiliar scent.
"Elderberry tea," He supplied. "It's filled with immunity boosting properties which hopefully will stave off any possible illness you could contract from your time in the river and the cold air. It's a little tart but I've added some cinnamon to cut down on the bitterness."
Ciel sipped it quietly. Even irritated with him, he still took his role as butler seriously. The Earl chewed his lip, knowing he should say something, but at the same time not wanting to just blurt out something because he now felt obligated to. He reached out a hand, grabbing Sebastian's sleeve, wanting the other to just stay near him.
"I'm sorry," He whispered, his voice barely audible, but he knew that the demon's ears would pick up on it loud and clear. He didn't like this; he didn't apologize for things and actually mean it.
"Sorry for what?" Sebastian asked. He sounded genuinely surprised, but Ciel knew that the other understood exactly what he meant.
"You know for what," Ciel said. He sighed heavily, a sense of defeat over him. "Fine. You want to discuss matters? Let's talk."
A/N: Hello to everyone! I've gotten a few new followers and that is super exciting. I am so happy to have everyone here on this journey. This chapter was a bit of an outlier and it was around the time Ciel tossed himself in the river I realized the story was coming to a good cut-off point. Only one more after this lovelies!
Sebastian was a bit surprised that the Earl had caved so easily, but in truth he supposed that the weight of the young master's emotions had finally proved to be too heavy. Plus, over the course of the past few months, the butler had realized that the other had become more responsive to his moods, particularly if they were of a negative kind. There seemed to be nothing that Ciel desired more at those times than to placate the demon. A few well placed barbs within the conversation after rescuing the other from the river and he found himself getting exactly what he wanted as usual.
The demon had his own reasons for wanting to discuss the matter at hand, but these he would keep to himself until he could fully decipher the young master's true intentions. He could feel lust thrumming in his core as he settled himself down near Ciel, wondering which of them would be the first to speak.
It appeared the Earl was anxious to get started, though his eyes betrayed his apprehension. "Where did you wish to start?"
"Well, perhaps we can begin with what I wanted to say earlier," Sebastian said. "Before you decided you'd rather go swimming."
Ciel shot him a look but he nodded. "Alright."
"What I wanted to say, had you let me finish, was that I found last night to be a rather splendid time," Sebastian said. He smirked slightly at the faint blush that colored Ciel's cheeks. Even now, after taking the last step, the Earl still found speaking about intimacy uncomfortable. "I trust you felt the same as well?"
Ciel was silent for a few moments. "Agreed."
This was getting off to a positive start; Sebastian decided, now to turn the heat up a notch.
"So," Sebastian said. "If you'll recall at the very start of this, I'll admit, rather odd twist in our relationship, I asked you what the purpose was of revealing your desires to me. I suspected that you were simply looking for a way to stem the sudden steady flow of indecent dreams, in hopes that you would find peaceful sleep once more."
He waited for a small nod of confirmation before continuing.
"However," Sebastian went on, "it soon became apparent that there was more to your interests than you let on."
"Not at the start," Ciel broke it. "Well, maybe not entirely."
"Care to elaborate on that?"
"I'd felt things before—before the dreams," Ciel replied. He sighed. "I figured that it might be amusing to give it a try."
"As did I, which is why I indulged you," Sebastian agreed. "You were quick to begin however after establishing your want. And though you sometimes appeared apprehensive, you would quickly banish that in favor of lust unusual for one so small and inexperienced as yourself. However, I believe it was after you accosted me in the carriage the day of Adeline's first rehearsal that made me believe that you also enjoyed giving me affection as well."
Sebastian waited for Ciel to respond. He knew what he said was true, and that the young master's feelings for him extended beyond simple desire but he knew he had to build the situation carefully. Ciel was never one to share his true feelings, especially not ones of this nature, ones that would be considered weakening. If he pushed too hard, too fast, even though he wanted to, then the other would react drastically. Patience was definitely a skill Sebastian had required when having to deal with the Earl in any mood.
"I had surmised it be nice to return the favor," Ciel smirked. "I didn't hear you complaining."
Sebastian's eyes glowed. "As though I'd complain about something like that. In any case, one thing led to another and then though there was the constant threat of murderous vampires looming over the situation we still found many moments to steal away together. I'll admit that was rather fun particularly the night of the performance—you looked rather becoming in those stage lights whilst I—"
"You don't have to go into details," Ciel bristled slightly. "I was there, remember?"
"Quite," Sebastian said. Now this was where things had really started to become interesting for them. "Tell me, what was the true motivation behind you eliminating my gloves from my appearance? I'll admit the action has provided a certain freedom, but it really does leave the uniform incomplete."
Ciel rolled his eyes, but his expression was serious. "I simply felt it was time to become more accepting of you as you are. Not just as my butler, but other things."
Sebastian hummed, nodding slowly. He'd come to this conclusion as well, but this was where things had started to become jumbled for him. Certainly no human had knowingly decided to act this way toward him. Of course over his years there'd been various ladies and gentlemen who'd confessed interest in him but he'd left them all in emotional shreds, knowing that he didn't feel the same for them and knowing that even if he might have dared to entertain the notion, once his demonic nature came into view, they would scatter like roaches in the light.
"And it seemed that you stayed true to this line of thought even as things took a rather nasty turn," Sebastian continued. "I'll confess I had no idea what was going to happen once Silas bit me and it appeared I was going to suffer some sort of change."
"That part wasn't your fault," Ciel looked away. "It was mostly mine, I ordered you to destroy him when we should have just retreated."
"But that isn't in your nature," Sebastian said.
"It's not," Ciel agreed. "But I've never had to deal with something like them before. It seemed wise in afterthought that we should have doubled back and reevaluated the plan of attack. It was a reckless move on my part and I mean to never have it happen again."
The demon noted that the Earl had finished his tea. He sincerely hoped that his charge wouldn't come down with any sort of ailment from the river. The young master was very bad-tempered when sick and the butler didn't need that weighing on his mind as well.
"I assure you it won't happen again," Sebastian said. "I mean to put an end to Marina Beaumont at the soonest moment possible—nothing would give me greater pleasure. Except perhaps you of course."
He winked and delighted inwardly at the way the Earl looked away, lowering his eyes. However Sebastian had seen the want within them before they slid toward the floor and the demon decided to push things along, so perhaps they could entertain other matters once more before morning came.
"You fought rather hard to keep things moving normally even after you discovered my affliction," Sebastian pressed. "As did I, but as your butler I couldn't let a mere ailment like vampire venom and possible death affect attending to your needs. However, though you took steps to control me once it became apparent that the illness was rapidly spreading through me and at times—regrettably—clouding my judgment, I was the one who finally had to make the call to distance myself from you."
Ciel shrugged. "You still had some time before things got especially bad. I wanted to use your services for as long as I could."
Sebastian sighed. Even though the Earl was engaging in the conversation, he was still skirting any solid mentions of feelings.
"Even after things got especially bad you still visited," Sebastian pointed out. "Until you stopped, about a week ago, give or take a few days."
"I didn't want to lose my best servant," Ciel replied.
The demon moved closer. "I maybe unable to lie to you, but you cannot always lie to me either. Though I may not be versed in the minute details of every second of that week, my heightened demon senses can tell that you fared rather miserably for yourself. The first thing I noticed when I entered this room last night was the smell, as though you'd been wallowing in bed for days, declining the wash and refusing most food. I could see how hungry you were this morning at breakfast, doing your best to control yourself but wanting to gorge on the meal as though you'd been starving."
Ciel glanced up at him. He could see the surprise registered on the other's face and Sebastian purred. Now they were getting somewhere. He couldn't wait to see the Earl try to talk his way out of this one.
"It was unpleasant to see you in that state," Ciel said. "It appeared that my revenge would be accomplished less quickly without you by my side."
"When did you start caring about the revenge again?" Sebastian asked, though he wasn't really expecting an answer. "Before or after you begged me to drink your blood?"
That did it. The Earl threw off the blanket and launched himself at Sebastian. The demon could have caught him easily but allowed the other to simply crash into him, pushing him back on the bed. Ciel straddled the other, his gaze slightly murderous. Sebastian could feel warmth seeping into his core, and his eyes gleamed, waiting expectantly for whatever the Earl was going to do.
"What do you want from me?" Ciel growled. "Do you want me to say that I did it because I cared for you? Because the thought of losing you, losing someone close to me, was too painful to go through another time?"
"Only if it's true," Sebastian replied.
Ciel sighed heavily. His body went slack and he lay down on top of Sebastian. His breath tickled the butler's ear and he was silent for a few long moments. Sebastian would have suspected he'd fallen asleep, except for he knew that the other wasn't.
When his voice resurfaced again, it was barely a whisper. If Sebastian weren't a demon he'd definitely have missed it and had to ask for the statement to be repeated. Since he was a demon he might ask for it to be repeated anyway.
Ciel's arms and legs tightened around Sebastian, pressing himself as close to the demon as he could. The demon could feel the young master's heart beating rapidly against his chest, though the other was trying his best to appear unbothered by the confession.
Sebastian had thought that he would feel vindicated if the Earl confirmed his suspicions. Unexpectedly he just felt the warmth he'd experienced earlier growing swiftly and spreading throughout his entire body. It was the most peculiar sensation and he didn't know exactly how to feel about it. This had never happened before.
The Earl was speaking again and Sebastian refocused on him.
"I didn't tell you how I feel because I know in the end it doesn't matter," Ciel said quietly. "You serve me because you must. I won't pretend I didn't think it would be better to die than see you suffer. However that comes from stupid, weak, human emotion. We're bound by the contract, nothing more."
"Ah," Sebastian replied. He drew Ciel slightly away from his chest, pressing his lips against the young master's. "But we could be more."
Ciel settled down in his bed later that night, his mind still fuzzy with what Sebastian could have possibly meant. The demon hadn't elaborated, though to be fair Ciel hadn't asked. He did think it was a bit unfair though for Sebastian to leave him in the dark after he had so painstakingly dragged all the information he had out of the Earl.
He supposed that the day hadn't ended up as terrible as he had imagined it could have been. Sebastian cooked an excellent lunch, and later dinner; Ciel had decided to sit in the kitchen and observe him while he did these things instead of secluding himself somewhere on his own to wait until the meal was ready. He watched with fascination as the dishes were created from beginning to end, even the simplest ingredients combined in interesting blends producing mouthwatering recipes that he'd never hope to replicate.
He sighed and rolled over in the darkness. Sebastian had closed the curtains and was performing one last check of the manor and surrounding grounds. He had promised to be quick and come back, but Ciel figured he should take his time. He didn't want the perimeter not to be safe, especially since the other servants wouldn't be back until the following afternoon. Of course he had Sebastian but he hoped to have the demon's attentions focused on other affairs before he fell asleep for the night.
Ciel knew that somewhere out there, past the walls and the iron gates of the manor, that Marina Beaumont was plotting her own revenge. He was sure that it would match his own; her family was dead and she was alone and powerful. He knew that he was safe with Sebastian by his side; no matter the outcome the demon would protect him to the death.
However, a different kind of rage had settled inside of the Earl, another revenge, not over what was lost, but what had almost been taken. Ciel was not one to take being wronged lightly. Those who dared to would always live to regret doing so. The vampires had proved to be a difficult case from the start and Ciel couldn't forgive their turning of so many young victims and slaughter of their families. Then there was the business with Sebastian, someone who now meant more to Ciel than just a servant. By the actions of Silas, the vampire had sealed his daughter's fate.
Ciel didn't care if it took a week, a month, or a year. Revenge for his family didn't seem to be in a hurry to reveal itself so he had time to wait. During that time he would plan with Sebastian and hunt down Marina like the beast that she was. This time, he decided, Sebastian wouldn't fight her alone. He planned to be by the demon's side.
The door opened and his eyes shifted toward it, taking in the lean form of the butler silhouetted in the pale light from the hallway. Sebastian moved into the room, closing the door behind him. The space was bathed in darkness once again but Ciel felt the covers lift and the demon slipped beneath them, arms surrounding the Earl, his eyes glowing with lust.
Ciel's fingers worked quickly to rid the other of his clothing. The second time was better than the first, something that Ciel hadn't thought possible, but it was true. It still burned a bit, but he imagined that would pass with time. The sheets were once again slightly damp with sweat and his body thrummed with the last pleasured waves of his orgasm, feeling completely awake and extremely tired at the same time.
He wouldn't say he loved the demon, it was too early for that, and he didn't even know if he would ever reach that point. However, he was fond of him in ways he hadn't thought he ever would be. Thinking back to the dreams that started everything, he couldn't believe that he hadn't acted on his desires sooner.
Sebastian's form pressed against his own under the blankets. They were both still naked, light sweat beading on their bodies. Ciel leaned over and kissed Sebastian's lips, tracing the butler's jawline with his own as he drew closer.
He snuggled into the demon's embrace. He knew the risks, and still didn't care. He accepted Sebastian for what he was without an ounce of regret. And a tiny secret part of him hoped that perhaps, just maybe, the demon might feel the same way one day.
"So, my lord," Sebastian said. His voice was husky and Ciel wondered if there would be a third round before the night was over. "What's next?"
"I'm not sure," Ciel replied. "I always have a plan, but suddenly I find myself without one. Everything has changed."
"A lot, but not everything," Sebastian said. "There is still our bond, while concealed in shadows, appears as unbreakable as ever."
Ciel knew this was true. As long as the contract was in place he and Sebastian would remain tied. Though he hungered for his revenge, he couldn't help but hope that it would take just a bit longer to come to fruition.
A/N: And that's all there is, there isn't anymore! (Well, at least for now) Thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who has followed this story since the very beginning or discovered it along the way. I am still getting new hits on the prologue. Everyone's continued support has inspired me to keep writing. The sequel should appear in late January/early February, but if in the meantime you are looking for something else to read and enjoy my stories, I have published another Kuro work on here called Searchlights. Check it out and maybe show it a little love if you like it. I love you all! ♥