Fredrick Aberline wasn’t the first officer to arrive at Corringham port at the scene of the crime. By the time the Detective Sergeant ducked under the bright yellow police tape and was briefed by the first Constable he could find, the docks had become crowded with curious onlookers, fishermen and dock workers trying to catch a glimpse over the dozen or so uniformed cops surrounding the scene. The grey sky and chill in the air permeated Aberline’s thick brown coat and the warm drink between his gloved hands did next to nothing to fight off the early 6am chill.
“You think it was a dog?” Aberline asked with a raised eyebrow. The blood and gore of the scene was making him feel queasy despite his experience. Seeing mangled bodies never seemed to get any easier. The wash of the salty sea breeze from the bay wasn't quite strong enough to dissipate the strong smell of death.
“How could a dog do this…” Aberline grimly took in the large cuts spanning the corpse’s chest and face. Probably around 20 to 30 years of age based on the attire, although we’ll need an autopsy to confirm, a name would help, he pondered, trying to piece together this man’s story.
“Well the last two victims had bite marks… we don’t have any other theories…” the constable offered shyly, she was clearly uncomfortable with their bare bones theory, it was endlessly frustrating to find no decent information or leads and admitting that to one’s superior was equally frustrating.
“You’re right to be sceptical Aberline” the Detective Sergeant jolted in surprise, nearly dropping his coffee in the process. The young man stepped in front of him, finely dressed and seemingly unaffected by the cold as the wind rustled his loose-fitting white blouse. His eye patch immediately stood out, stark and black across his face, the strings of which fluttered in the wind.
The stranger crouched by the body, unfazed by the gore and blood, he pulled off his midnight gloves and pocketed them before he boldly ran a finger through the fresh blood still drying on the concrete, smearing the crimson stain. The weird boy rubbed it between his pale fingers before giving it an inquisitive lick.
“What the fuck, who are you! You can’t contaminate a crime scene!” Aberline almost yelled at the kid.
“All you need to know is that my name is Phantomhive and that I work as a consulting detective with Scotland Yard. This man was killed for fun” he emotionlessly declared. He stood up only to swipe Aberline’s warm drink, the boy took a sip but grimaced comically.
“Coffee? I thought you were British…” the peculiar boy scowled at him as though only true English citizens drank tea and Aberline was somehow in the wrong for not buying the drink he liked.
“Can you prove that you’re with the Yard?” Aberline crossed his arms, just about ready to arrest this weirdo for compromising a crime scene.
“Randell should have my paperwork, he’s drafting up a pass for me to wear” the lad shrugged and Aberline was finally able to properly take in his appearance now that Phantomhive was actually facing him. The boy looked too young to be here, his skin was soft and smooth, and he had a pretty feminine face. His hair was styled over his eyepatch, but was pulled back on the other side, the dark fabric was almost hidden by his slate grey locks if not for the wind tossing it about. He was very pale, his skin almost blending into the soft white blouse adorned with lacy ripples on the front and cuffs, a small copper brooch pinned the ruffles to his front and matched the brass buttons on his skin-tight black pants.
He must be cold, Aberline thought, but he didn’t shiver despite the biting wind from the bay. He seemed surreal… ethereal, like a ghost haunting this crime scene.
"Mason Jones" he stated.
"Who?" Aberline frowned, and the 'consultant detective' rolled his singular eye in frustration.
"This man, Mason Jones" he gestured to the bloody slumped corpse, "he was most likely hunted, probably stalked for days. Being a dock worker would have made it easy to get him alone, especially since it seems that Mason here was the type to arrive at work early"
"How do you know his name?"
"I took his wallet" Phantomhive shrugged, holding the little bloodstained square of leather up for the detective to see.
"Hey! What did I say about contaminating crime scenes!" Aberline balked. He snatched the evidence out of the young man's ungloved hands and quickly bagged it as though that could save it from being tampered with.
"It's no use arguing with the little shit, he always acts like the law doesn't apply to him" the Chief Inspector Arthur Randall sighed.
"Ah, Inspector Ragdoll, we meet again" Phantomhive smirked, rocking on the back of his heels like an ill-behaved schoolboy.
"It's Randall" the Inspector corrected, but the peculiar consultant detective didn't seem to care.
"My pass" he held out his pale dainty hand expectantly and Aberline was able to notice his odd midnight painted nails. Randall merely sighed again, frustration already mounting as he handed the young man the pass, validating Phantomhive's earlier claims.
"I look forward to working with the Yard once again" the boy declared smugly.
"I don't" Randall frowned.
Ciel Phantomhive held his breath at the strong smell of chemicals that only just covered up the stench of death. He could still taste it in his mouth though with every faux breath that passed his lips. He hated the mortuary. But he hated the Undertaker more.
Bitter enemies forced into a truce by time. The reaper wasn’t as annoying as Randall, but he would never forgive Undertaker for what he had done, no matter how many decades passed.
Ciel drifted into the morgue like a shadow, silent and unknown. Undertaker was tinkering with a portion of dissected flesh and there was a brief moment where their eyes met. One shadow nodded to the other, one shadow was far more manic than the other, and Ciel was reminded of the insanity he suspected Undertaker to possess.
There was a new staff member, someone who wasn’t here before. Now that was interesting. Ciel watched her for a time as she expertly made started a large Y shaped incision on the corpse, from shoulder to shoulder and straight down the middle, this was the first step to discovering the truth. He closed his exposed eye and breathed deeply, tried to separate the overwhelming smell of death and clinical chemicals to find that strand of humanity he knew was buried underneath it all.
He felt his fangs extend in his mouth, pressed his tongue against the sharp tips and felt a shiver of hunger ripple down his back. Undertaker giggled at the sight of his singular blue iris, bright and glowing, and thirsty for fresh blood.
The redhead looked up at the sound of her superior’s amusement. She pushed her glasses up and glanced over her shoulder, her amber eyes quickly scanning the room, searching for the source of her unease. But they were alone. Mey-Rin after a moment of holding her breath simply sighed and resumed her work inspecting the internal organs, she too wondered about the sanity of her mentor.
“And who is this man” Ciel asked just over her shoulder, so close that his faux breath tickled her ear. Mey-Rin jolted in surprise, almost losing her scalpel as her heart raced in fright.
“Wha?- Who- where did you come from!?” The coroner stuttered, cheeks aflame as Ciel casually stepped around the table to study the body. That cold calculating eye entirely absorbed in the observation of exposed organs and muscle tissue, yet somehow, he was watching her every move, she could just feel it. Undertaker cackled, howled with laughter and nearly fell from his desk as he revealed in the fright of his staff.
“He died from… lung disease, I’m assuming, judging from the scarring of tissue here and… here” Ciel idly pointed out, black gloved finger gesturing to the putrid tissue. Mey-Rin had already started to suspect the same thing, she’d made a fresh page of notes detailing the condition of the body’s lungs and other internal organs.
“Who are you? Are you allowed in here?” She frowned.
“I’d watch him if I were you…” Undertaker giggled, “he looks hungry” the strange ashen haired man teased, long black nailed fingers covering his manic smile. Ciel looked unamused and somewhat affronted at the insinuation of his lack of control. Undertaker provided no clear answer although, he didn’t turn away this oddly dressed stranger. Mey-Rin hadn’t seen a man wear such a feminine blouse before, he could almost be mistaken for a woman.
“Are you a werewolf?” Mey-Rin leaned in, voice lowered and conspiratorial like a child badly keeping a secret. Ciel watched her for a moment, trying to decipher how much she already knew and how much he would let her know.
“Worse” he decided on, because he wasn’t some mangy mutt wandering the streets during the witching hours. He liked to believe that he was far more dangerous, or at the very least, was harder to kill, although with his weak health that mightn’t be true.
“He’s... a vampire” Undertaker giggled and Ciel had to wonder why that loon was always laughing.
“Really?” Mey-Rin took in Ciel’s aristocratic appearance, everything from his pale skin to his Victorian inspired clothes, he looked almost cliché in his vampiric style, all he was missing was a cape and blood-stained lips. She hadn’t expected a vampire to look so young, it gave her the feeling that his story wasn’t a very happy one.
“You could have let her work it out, I’m sure that it wouldn’t have taken too long” Ciel shrugged, a carefully crafted disinterest masking his slight hesitancy.
“My two friends are werewolves!” She declared like vampires and werewolves were anything alike. They weren’t. In fact, the two were such polar opposites that there had been wars waged over it. Werewolves were social pack animals that stuck together in clans and typically lived mortal lifespans, vampires on the other hand were immortal asocial creatures of the night. They most often detested each other, if for no other reason than pack mentality.
“We are nothing alike” Ciel crossed his arms, petulant and childish at the thought of being compared to a bunch of dirty dogs.
“I’m sure they’d love to meet you!” Mey-Rin continued, oblivious to the clear hostility between wolves and vampires. He already regretted talking to her, perhaps he should have just taken his package from Undertaker and left.
“I’m just here for the report on the recent string of murders, the Yard should have informed you” he directed his question at the undertaker and received a cryptic smile in return.
“Welcome back Earl Phantomhive” Undertaker smirked, retrieving a package from a locked draw in his desk. He placed it on the table with a considerable thump.
“That doesn’t look like a coroner's report” Ciel eyed the brown cardboard box with suspicion.
“A present… from Her Majesty” Undertaker snickered, pushing the box closer to Ciel, as if encouraging the boy to take it. The long grey-haired man rummaged around in his unorganised desk for a moment more before pulling out the true desired item. The creep held out the papers, his long midnight nails stark against the cream folder and Ciel was reminded of why he hated visiting the Undertaker.
“Oh and one more thing little bat, you better take care, you’ve a big bad doggy on your tail” more cryptic bullshit, Ciel frowned.
“You know I can’t actually turn into a bat right, that’s just a myth...” the vampire complained as he snatched up the papers and reluctantly picked up the box. Undertaker’s relentless giggling only further fuelled his sour mood.
Ciel made his way to the outer edges of the busy city. He didn't bother taking a cab since he still had plenty of time to kill. A steady haze of rain misted the evening streets, but the vampire didn’t really notice, too distracted by thoughts of this latest mystery and all that had transpired in the morgue.
The crime scene this morning had looked much like the three others he had already visited, bodies torn up and left to be found by officials in the early hours of the day, how dull. Meeting Aberline had been somewhat amusing, although Randall remained a thorn in his side. The man insisted that he follow protocol despite being one of the few humans that was aware of his status. Randall hated him.
Ciel typed out a slow reply to the Chief Inspector, he used a single digit to hit the little buttons on his touch screen phone and always took the time to use proper grammar in every message he sent. To make matters worse, phone screens usually didn’t work with his gloves and it was a minor pain to remove them every time he wanted to message someone in London’s public. He missed the elegance of penning a letter, there was a childish amusement to be had in pouring the wax and pressing his seal into it. Phones were also terribly fickle, they constantly broke and had to be replaced every couple of years. His golden fountain pen had lasted nearly eight decades before he had broken it by ‘accidentally’ using it to stab someone in the eye…
The Chief inspector was not amused by Ciel’s accurate deduction. Apparently, he didn’t need to know just how much of a half brain he was for not noticing the clear signs of werewolf hunting patterns in the Yard’s unsolved cases. Ciel chuckled at his own barbed words and pocketed the new aged device. Honestly, who could investigate a torn apart corpse and deduce that it was a mere dog, it was preposterous what counted for intelligence these days.
The air was particularly cold today and the vampire felt the ache of sleep tug at his limbs. He sighed, knowing that sleep wouldn’t come so easy, it had been three days since he’d last managed to fall asleep. He’d received a digital letter from the ministry informing him of his new living quarters, apparently for the duration of the case, he’d be staying with one of the local London officers. How irritating, it was framed as a kindness, but Ciel knew that it was only so that they could keep tabs on him. He disliked the arrangement he currently held with the British government, their desire to constantly know where he was and what he was doing was stifling. Perhaps when he was younger, working with the Queen had felt honourable, but it had been a long time since he’d been the Queen’s Guard Dog.
What had Undertaker meant? A gift from Her Majesty… Ciel’s Queen had been dead for over a century. And after what they had done to him he couldn’t bring himself to serve them like he once did. He hadn’t been referred to as an Earl in decades, it was a title that had died with his humanity, or at least it should have. Ciel glanced down at the box in his hands, lightly splattered with rain although he was sure that its contents would survive a bit of water. He almost didn’t want to open it. How pissed would Undertaker be if he threw it in the Thames?
A man with long dark hair roughly pulled into a ponytail roughly bumped into him on the street, breaking Ciel’s train of thought and nearly knocking him over.
“Hey! Watch it” Ciel grumbled, scowling at the stupidly tall bloke. Piercing red eyes caught his, dangerous, but with a hint of curiosity. The man wore all black. He didn’t say a word as he walked off, hands stuffed into the pockets of his leather jacket and head ducked down against the rain. With his back turned to Ciel, the vampire missed his sharp fanged smirk.
“Phantomhive?” Fredrick Aberline blinked owlishly, it was almost 9pm, he wasn’t expecting anyone this late in the evening. The vampire likewise found himself half frozen by the unexpected meeting. He checked the message sent to his device once more, ensuring that this property matched the one listed as his new abode. Sure, he had been told that he would share an apartment, but he had expected it to be one of the uniformed officers, not the detective Aberline.
“I believe I’m your new roommate, have you been informed of this” Ciel frowned, perplexion turning into disdain at the thought of existing within the same space as this simpleton.
“Uh yes… I just didn’t think that it would be you” Aberline opened the door wider and moved aside, inviting the newly met stranger in.
Ciel carried with him exactly one trunk full of his belongings, the rest of his items were hidden within the belly of London. They consisted of things that he couldn’t part with, but also couldn’t carry around with him, such as the single remaining portrait of his long deceased family. What he carried with him now was the bare minimum to make existing tolerable.
"Where shall I put my things" Ciel brushed past him, his singular eye taking in every detail, from the minute dust upon the few framed and hung photographs to the handful of tea stains in the old carpet beneath his feet.
"There's a spare room just down the hall, I'll show you" Aberline answered, but Ciel had already caught the smell of another human in this abode. He could hear the shuffling of fabric and the dull clink of her mug upon the laminate kitchen bench.
"Fred, who's your friend?" The woman asked when Ciel ignored Aberline's directions and instead found himself at the entryway to the kitchen.
"Uh… this is Mr Phantomhive" Aberline awkwardly introduced Ciel. The longer the vampire spent in his presence, the more obvious it was that Aberline's letter contained no details of any use aside from the knowledge that a guest would be staying with him. Perhaps that was for the best, he preferred it when the ministry didn't make up lies for him to follow.
"I wasn't aware that you had a partner" Ciel stated, his mild confusion skirting the edges of his voice.
"This is my girlfriend Maria" Aberline gestured to her.
"My name is Ciel Phantomhive, I'm a consultant detective and I'm working with Aberline" the vampire introduced himself properly to the Lady of the house.
"She is an odd detail, it's very likely that I wouldn't have been assigned to this residence had they been aware of Maria's presence in this place" Ciel shrugged, already leaving this room to find his own. She was blonde and doll eyed, plain and forgettable, there was no reason to dawdle any longer.
"I haven't told anyone on the force about her yet. Why would she make a difference?" Aberline asked curiously as he trailed behind Ciel like a lost puppy.
"The government believes me to be something of a double-edged sword. My investigative work is more than adequate, but there's every likelihood that I'll get bored and disappear without a trace… I'm unpredictable and that frightens them" Ciel explained as he reached his new room. It was lightly furnished with a bed, a desk and chair, and a large oak wardrobe.
"Oh" Aberline replied, because what else could he have said in response to that. It almost sounded like Ciel was dangerous, despite looking tiny and short and ever so young.
"By the way, I have some… unusual tendencies that I feel I should warn you of" Ciel placed his old trunk down on the carpeted floor at the foot of his bed, "I enjoy playing the violin, so I hope that you don't mind the noise"
"That should be fine, some music in the house would be nice-"
"I'm also an insomniac" Ciel interrupted, "I'll likely be up for most of the night, although I'll try to keep quiet"
"Oh" another less than intelligent response…
"I shall also require the use of your refrigerator, one shelf should he sufficient" the vampire requested.
"Sure thing, that won't be a problem" Aberline nodded. Ciel unclipped his trunk and opened the lid, it was filled with a handful of outfits, although his violin case took up the bulk of available space.
"Could you please place this in the refrigerator, do not attempt to look at its contents" Ciel warned the officer as he passed him a cold steel container that was about the size of a shoe box.
"Uh okay" Aberline took the box hesitantly. From that warning alone, he already wanted to have a peek, but he would respect Ciel's privacy. What a strange man, Aberline pondered as he left the Phantomhive to his own devices.
Beautiful languid violin trickled through the brick and pine of the sleepy London street. Ciel's midnight tipped fingers rolled across the neck of his beloved instrument, wood worn with time and use, but still lovingly cared for. The horse hair bow softly skirted the edges of his notes, each vibrato exaggerated and given space to breath by the softness of his playing, like little tip toes in the moonlit night, spinning and twirling in a fog of eternity. The glow of his inhuman eye cast his pale hands in cold blue tones and he played for hours, restless and searching. It could have been pleasant to listen to had Aberline and his partner not been trying to sleep at three in the morning. The detective contemplated getting up to complain but decided that he'd have a talk with Phantomhive in the morning. He had been warned that Ciel would be playing violin, he had also been told of the boy's insomnia but somehow hadn't managed to put the two together, that Phantomhive would be playing in the early hours of the night.
Ciel felt his limbs grow weak, heavy with fatigue and a bone deep exhaustion that he couldn't remember ever being free from.
He was so hungry…
He could hear their hearts beating. Could smell them through the walls. Just the thought of feasting upon Aberline and his blissfully ignorant woman made his fingers shake, it soured his notes and slurred his melody. One note bleed into more as his bow leaned too far down and slid across all the strings at once. His right eye ached and he found himself standing stone still in the middle of the room, holding his faux breath as blood dripped from his right cheek onto the body of his violin.
He needed sustenance, lest he lose control and devour the lovely couple that had opened their home to him.
The vampire placed his violin carefully back in its case. He wiped the blood off its wooden body with a finger and frowned, reaching up to feel his dampened eyepatch. He needed to sleep, and he needed food, his cursed eye was always aggravated by the lack of both. One more day…
He could last one more day.
He glanced at Undertaker’s package, regretfully kept and resisted throwing it out the window. The vampire paced the short length of his room plagued with the fear of sleep and the desperation of an unholy unrelenting hunger.
Ciel Phantomhive compulsively picked up his violin once more and pressed its body to the inside of his neck almost lovingly. He raised the bow and blew cold air past his lips in an unnecessary sigh, the act of which made him feel somewhat human again.
His sorrowful melody haunted to midnight streets of London and a great howl accompanied him, bleeding into his twisted music and serenading the bright full moon.