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Awake but not Alive

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Sebastian waited for the reaper in the entryway to the manor. Ciel was brushing the dust of his suit jacket as he walked nearer to the demon.

“Well, lets go then, Sebastian,” Ciel commented when the demon didn’t move; he seemed to be in thought.

The butler eyed the former lord, looking him up and down. “Something is missing,” he mused as he tapped his chin. The demon snapped his fingers. “Yes, I know!”

Sebastian crooked his finger toward the other, beckoning the boy to stand in front of him.

“What…” Ciel started to say when his face the abruptly jerked upward, making him look straight into the swirling crimson irises.

Sebastian caressed the right side of the boy’s face with his free hand then lifted the appendage so he could remove his butler’s glove with his teeth. “You’re my property once again young master; therefore, you are in need of your mark.” Ciel’s green eyes went wide with shock and a hint of fear. He remembered that pain, that searing, excruciating pain; it was an experience he didn’t want to repeat. Unfortunately for Ciel, he did not have a choice in the matter.

The demon fisted his right hand in Ciel’s hair, yanking his head back and holding him to the spot while his left hand slowly came to rest upon the boy’s vulnerable eye.

“I told you this eye belonged to me, did I not?” the demon questioned.

Ciel didn’t have time to answer as the next sound out of his mouth was a blood-curdling scream. A river of red trickled from under the butler’s hand, dripping down the reaper’s paling face. Ciel felt as if his eye was being torn out and set on fire all at the same time. He could feel each line of the contract seal as it carved into his eyeball. Even with the healing abilities as a reaper, he knew that this brand would not be healing, for a demon’s curse of this magnitude was much too powerful for a lowly reaper like himself to repair. The fire seemed to burn forever, and he wondered if Sebastian would blind him permanently this time.

When the demon finally removed his hand, Ciel’s face was flushed bright red, and crimson stained tears poured from his eye socket. The reaper didn’t dare open his eye for fear of what he would see, or rather, not see. He moved to touch the tender flesh, but his hand was smacked away.

“Don’t touch it! I’ll do it,” Sebastian commanded. Ciel flinched when he watched the butler’s left hand, now also etched with the contract mark, come up toward his closed eye and pressed above the eyelid.

The boy hissed with pain. “Ah, don’t!” he yelled.

“Let me see it, Ciel. Now.” was all the demon needed to say before Ciel relented and tried to open his eye. The butler’s voice was on edge, and Ciel didn’t want to end up losing his eye if he disobeyed.

Slowly the boy’s lid opened to reveal a bloodshot but intact eyeball. The blackened etching of the pentagram was stark against the yellowed iris. Carefully, almost lovingly, Sebastian took out a handkerchief and dabbed away the blood off the reaper’s sweat slicked face until only the sunburn like redness remained.

“Can you see me clearly, young master?” the demon asked.

“I can see you dammit. That was much more painful than the first time!” Ciel clenched his fists, not wanting to let his anger get the best of him.

“Apologies my lord, but the burn had to go deeper into your cornea for my seal to stay visible. You see, your reaper abilities may be fragile, but they are still always trying to heal you.”

“Tch. Whatever, let’s get going and get this over with!” Ciel started to stomp toward the door but was stopped when Sebastian grabbed his shoulder.

“You are forgetting something, Phantomhive.”

The reaper turned and looked at what was offered in the butler’s hand.

“Again, I have to wear one of these patches?” Ciel rolled his eyes, regretting it the moment he did so as a streak of pain shot through his damaged eye.

The butler grinned as he moved around to tie the patch securely over the boy’s head. “Now we can go…pet.”

Ciel looked around the grounds as he stepped from the crumbling stone steps. “How are we getting there? Where’s the carriage?” he asked.

“We’ll take your favorite mode of transportation, my lord. Up you go.” Sebastian said as he scooped up the unsuspecting reaper into his arms and took off in a sprint.

“Oh hell!” echoed in the wind as the pair flew through the forest behind the manor towards their destination, Edward Midford’s residence.


 

“This is where Edward lives!?” Ciel asked while pointing toward a once pristine London-style townhouse. The home was located on the outskirts of London, far away from any other inhabitants. Overgrown grasses and unkempt flower beds surrounded the property; the gate that bore the large M in the center was broken, allowing the pair to enter with ease.

“Yes, my lord. From what I’ve heard after Elizabeth’s disappearance he went rather mad, refusing to mingle with the rest of society. He has been cooped up here, slowly drinking himself into the grave.

The reaper didn’t respond and continued up the walkway to the front door. “Should we knock or something?” he asked.

Sebastian moved forward, reaching around the boy, and opened the door. “No, he’s so old, he probably wouldn’t hear it anyway. Please, do enter.”

The rickety door creaked as it shut behind the pair. Ciel’s eye moved around the room, taking in the filthy interior. The house was in need of a thorough cleaning at a minimum. At most, it needed to be gutted and redone in a modern fashion by an owner that cared for appearances. Edward Midford clearly did not at this point in his life.

Each stair groaned as the demon and reaper walked up to the second level. A soft glow could be seen from a distant room; they headed toward it. The scent of fire burning waifed through Ciel’s nose, making it tickle. A gloved hand stopped the boy from going further. Puzzled, Ciel looked up at the butler questioningly but didn’t speak.

“Stay here for a moment. I’m going to talk to him first, as I don’t want him having a heart attack if he sees you—you are dead after all.” Sebastian said, answering the unspoken question. Ciel had nodded in agreement before Sebastian entered past the threshold of the glowing room within a few strides.

A roaring fire was burning in the fireplace, making shadows dance along the walls of the large room. An old man was huddled in a chair next to the hearth, apparently sleeping.

“Mr. Midford, do wake up.” Sebastian started in a low voice. When Edward didn’t stir, he announced his presence more forcefully. “Edward Midford!”

The boom of the demon’s voice snapped the sleeping man awake in a jolt. “Hm, what!? Who’s there!?” Edward asked, whipping his head back and forth. He saw a fuzzy outline of a tall man before him; he reached over for his glasses to see better. “Sebastian? Is that you?” he asked, clearing the sleep from his tired eyes.

“Yes, Midford. It is I, Sebastian Michaelis,” the demon quipped.

“Sebastian?…I must be dreaming.” Edward pinched himself lightly on the arm. “No, you’re still here…”

“You aren’t dreaming Edward. It is really me, and I’ve brought someone with me.”

“What’s going on, Sebastian? I haven’t seen you in how many years? A very long time I know.” the old man said with a cough.

“It’s your day of reckoning. Time to face up to what you did all those years ago,” the butler reminded.

“What are you talking about? How dare you hassle an old man!”

“Elizabeth,” is the only word that escapes the butler’s mouth. It was the only word he needed to say, for instantly Edward’s face fell followed by a sob.

Sebastian jerked his head toward the interior of the room, letting Ciel know to enter. Slowly he walked into the warm room, eyes focused on the old man facing the warm flames.

“Is it true, Edward?” Ciel boomed as he came to a stop in front of the over-sized chair.

The old man’s voice was piercing as a terrified scream left his lungs. He grabbed his chest and pounded on it, shaking his head, trying to make the reaper before him disappear. It had to be a nightmare; Ciel Phantomhive was dead, so he couldn’t be in front of him at that moment. However, now that the man thought of what he was seeing, Sebastian shouldn’t have looked the same as he did back them either.

One bony finger pointed directly at Ciel. “You, you’re aren’t here. You’re dead.” He grabbed the half empty whiskey bottle that was near him and took a swig.

The reaper promptly stepped forward and plucked the bottle from the man’s shaking hands. Immediately Edward reached for his self-medication. “I think you’re done with this,” Ciel arched and eyebrow, turned and tossed the bottle into the fire. Flames shot up violently with loud pop as the bottle broke and alcohol burned. “Dead or not, I’m here!”

“No!” the man sobbed. “What do you want? What do you want to know? Just don’t destroy any more of the only thing that’s good in my life!”

“My, my,” Sebastian smirked and glanced at Ciel. “Alcohol is the only thing bringing you solace in this miserable existence of yours? How wretched.”

The reaper folded his hands at his back, ignoring the demon’s remark, and moved closer to the elderly man, so close that the pairs’ knees were touching. “Look at me, Edward!” The old man shuddered at the harsh tone but raised his gaze to meet the lone burning green. “Tell me what you did to Elizabeth. Now,” the boy commanded with all the status and force of the Earl he once was.

A few sniffs and the man spoke, not taking his eyes off the former lord. “Your eye, it’s…”

“Shut it about my eye. What happened!? You look guilty as hell. Tell me.” Ciel slammed his knuckles into the wall next to them. Edward’s eye went wide as he witnessed the weakling he remembered put his clenched fist through the wall and tear it back out, trailing dust all over the floor.

Edward Midford adjusted himself in the worn chair, sitting up straighter, and fiddled with the blanket that covered his legs. A sad far away look glazed his eyes as he peered right at Ciel, almost looking through him. The man clasped his hands on his lap; he was nervous and frightened. He knew that he might die tonight if Ciel’s anger was anything like it was in the past.

“I will tell you…just know that if I could take any of it back, I would. I would give my life to take it all back.” He wiped a tear from his wrinkled cheek. Not being able to bear looking the other in the eye while he spoke, the man just stared at his shaking hands. The reaper backed up to give Edward some space.

“Lizzy had been trying to get your attention for years now,” Edward began. “She always put on her prettiest dresses and threw parties as a way to get you to look at her with love in your eyes, just once. You gave her pecks on the cheek, but never truly made an effort to get to know her, to love her. By duty, you were to be married, but that was all. She mentioned to me several times that she wanted you to love her as a woman should be loved; she was worried that you wouldn’t be interested in her as a wife, but she had her duties as well, so went along with the arrangement.”

Sebastian watched Ciel’s face change from anger to sadness. The reaper had his arms crossed, trying to keep his emotions at bay as the man continued.

“She craved man’s touch after a while it seemed. She would tell me things, things I didn’t want to know about…about things, she wanted to do with you. She was so sad, god it killed me.” Edward learned over and dabbed the blanket to his eyes. It was getting hard to speak as the lump in his throat continued to grow. He vowed that he needed to get this horrible story out, the story of what he allowed to happen before he died.

“Anyway, I had started a bad habit of going with friends and drinking until the early hours of the morning. I’d come home, and Elizabeth would be waiting for me in her night dress. At first, she said it was because she was worried about my safety and helped me upstairs to my room. Time went on, and there were caresses to my intimate parts, just brushes one could pass off as accident while helping a drunk man walk…except they kept happening. One night I came home, and she had a different attitude about her. Lizzy escorted me all the way to my room this time and helped me to bed. I remember her giving me this small glass of fragrant alcohol, saying it would help me relax further. I drank it in one gulp. My body starting feeling as if it was on fire. I was so hot, so I started tearing at my clothes.”

Ciel cleared his throat loudly and rubbed his face. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to hear what was about to come next. Edward asked if he should continue; the reaper nodded “Yes,” and covered his mouth with his hand to stave off wanting to vomit.

“I won’t go into graphic detail, but you can imagine what happened after she helped me out my clothing and started kissing down my chest. I was so out of it that I didn’t stop her—I was so high, but honestly, I don’t think I wanted to. We had sex; I remembered almost all of it the next morning. I was angry and disgusted that she would do that to me!”

The reaper clenched his fists. “You were the older one! Even if you were drunk, you are responsible for your actions!” he shouted. “You should have pushed her off the moment she was coming on to you! Dammit, you knew she was distraught!!! She didn’t know…” Anger started bubbling up in the boy’s chest. How dare that man turn to him and tell him it wasn’t his fault? Elizabeth couldn’t have possibly known what she was doing…right?

The old man interrupted. “Oh Phantomhive, I think she knew exactly what she was doing! Yes, I should have had the will to stop her, but I didn’t; I made a mistake! And then it turned into a bigger one!”

“Go on,” Ciel said as he leaned against the brick hearth, pounding the back of his head against the stone. The reaper was wrought with emotions; his affliction was starting to show as his body began trembling uncontrollably.

Edward sniffled again and choked back a mumbling sob. “God, I’m sorry…”

“God cannot help you!” Ciel spat.

“I know! I have to get out my sins; beg for your forgiveness.”

Sebastian was still standing in the corner, calmly watching the situation unfold.

“A month or so later, Elizabeth came to me…told me she was pregnant with my child! God, I didn’t know what to do. I was sickened. I panicked and told her I didn’t want anything to do with her bastard child.” More salty tears began to roll down Edwards cheeks; he couldn’t wipe them fast enough.

“I told her if this got out it would ruin our family. I came up with a plan though, a good plan if it worked. I…I…told her that she needed to bed you, Ciel, as soon as possible. If she did that, she could say that the Earl Phantomhive impregnated her and avoid a scandal. You two would just get married immediately; the time would be so close…we hoped that the public wouldn’t think otherwise. I know it was wrong, but you were to marry anyway…you were old enough to get her pregnant. She was so scared, but I assured her that it would be your first time and you would ejaculate quickly inside her and then it would be over and she’d have her story.”

Ciel was livid; his face beat red with anger. “You fucking told her to come to my bed! To seduce me into fucking her!?” Edward cringed at the harsh words; he wasn’t used to hearing the curses fly from the boy’s mouth.

The pieces started connecting in the reaper’s mind. “You! You were the goddamn reason she was in my bed that night! You did it! You made her come to stay over so she could lay with me…” Ciel’s outrage simmered from his core. All the rage that was commonplace as the Queen’s Watchdog was resurfacing out of nowhere. And then the reaper said it.

“You, Edward Midford, are the reason why Lizzy is dead! If she hadn’t been at my manor, if she hadn’t crawled into my bed that night, she wouldn’t have been murdered. No, if you never fucked her, she wouldn’t have gotten into the entire predicament in the first place!!!” Ciel snarled and screamed as the rabid dog he was said to be all those years ago. All the traumatizing memories of the past, of what happened to Lizzy, came to the forefront of his mind and he blamed it all on the old man sitting before him. He wanted him to pay for what he’d done. Suddenly a light metal object appeared in his hand. A voice every so lightly reached his burning ears. The voice urged him. “Go on, make the incestuous bastard pay for what he’s done…he deserves it…”

A single shot rang out, followed by a gurgled yelp.

The seconds ticked by ever so slowly. It seemed like an eternity until Ciel snapped out of his enraged stupor to find both eyes wide open without the patch, peering over the outstretched arm that held the smoking gun. His right eye burned with a fury.

Instantly the reaper threw the gun across the room. “No, no! I can’t kill, I’m a reaper!” Ciel fell to his knees as he was shaking too badly to hold himself up. “What have I done?” He rocked himself harshly to and fro on the floor.

Sebastian stepped over to his downed property and placed a gloved hand on his shoulder. “Shhh,…it’s alright. I knew the villainous Nobel was still inside you somewhere; we just had to find it,” he whispered.

Slowly, Ciel craned his neck to peer at the looming demon. “You…you wanted this? You made me turn into the person I hadn’t been for years…you…”

“I only showed you your true self my lord—full of hate and rage. However, you did nothing wrong, see?” Sebastian held the open to-die-list in front of the boy’s face. Ciel’s eyes glossed over to what he was pointing at. It read that Edward Midford was to die via a single gunshot wound to the chest on that very same day. The reaper glanced at the demon with a confused expression, knitting his brows.

“Yes, my lord, you were always predestined for this moment. You can never forget who you were, no matter how much you change the exterior. Remember that.”