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There was a time when Ciel Phantomhive would smile freely and often; A time that seemed like it had not been long ago, just a few yesterday's away. This leisurely childhood was cut unfairly short, and the time that followed until present was less than desirable, an incredible time of horrendous heartbreak and tales of woe from a child who knew tragedy before he knew his own strengths and weaknesses. The times of carefree, blissful strolls along what once stood of his family home would be ripped away from him like a toddler, jerked away for lingering too close to a fire. In truth, Ciel Phantomhive was not ashamed of his dreary past, just conservative with the information. Instead, after a long period of mourning the loss of his former self, a young boy who died along with his parents before even tasting what life had to offer, he grew to learn what it meant to mature.

As sully as he may be, maturity wasn’t something he lacked, nor did he have an abundance of this quality either. Throughout his teenage years, and still, a flutter of the innocence swam deep in his heart and what was left as the remnants of his soul; the innocence and hope that were so close he could brush his delicate fingertips over them, but never fully grasp before they were plunged into darkness, only faint speck visible to him after. Yet, his fingertips would stay coated with the residue of that light, and it would carry him through. He would never fall victim to another hand or allow himself to be vulnerable as he was.

 

--

 

“Ciel.”

Thick, curled lashes fluttered slowly at the soft mention of his name, and Ciel shifted beneath the quilt. Ciel sat up with a whip, looking over at the digital alarm clock and wincing. He recognized the soft voice and opened his eye carefully, greeted by the familiar sight of Mey-Rin's unmistakable bright burgundy pigtails. He reached his nightstand and fumbled to grab the silky black patch that would cover his other eye, tying it attentively and fluffing his hair over the strings.

“Mm. ‘Morning.” Ciel mumbled in response to his roommate, pulling the quilt up against his chest and sighing.

Mey-Rin was cheery, as per usual, even though it was an early seven in the morning. Ciel couldn’t have asked for a better roommate, however. Routinely, Ciel would set his alarm, every night. That didn’t stop Mey from waking him up a few minutes before it went off. According to her, the sound was too harsh and could really cause a bitter mood upon waking.

The two of them had met not shortly after Ciel had made the move to the States, and as much as Ciel wouldn’t have minded the privacy of living alone, as he could undoubtedly afford it considering the inheritance from his late parents, he had promised his Aunt that if he was going to be so far away he wouldn’t live alone. He would need some sort of social interactions, she had insisted, and if he was so determined to have this fresh start, he would need to fill it with fresh people as well. He had agreed, if not only to ease her worries but held his word.

“I made french toast.” Mey-Rin interrupted his groggy haze, and he rubbed his eyes as he moved to the edge of the plush bed. He slid his feet into the slippers at his bedside, nodding.

“I’ll be there, just a second.” He gave a weak smile, holding the quilt tight against him. As he dressed in his loungewear, he traced the burn scars along his left shoulder and down to his thigh, but shook his head at himself and hurriedly clothed himself after.

 

Breakfast was uneventful, the two of them eating in the TV room, as per routine. Their situation worked well, because Mey-Rin didn’t pull, and Ciel didn’t push. There was never a doubt in his mind that he could open up to her, and trust her, but somehow, he couldn’t bring himself to open up to anyone at that point.

The TV played the local news station in the background as Ciel finished his tea, a small sigh emitting from his lips.

“I have to get dressed for work now.” He spoke quietly, but confidently as usual.

The inheritance he received would only carry him so far, and even if he could live comfortably off it if he was wise, he enjoyed the finer taste in certain things. Not anything quite as drastic as his aunt, but nonetheless, a bit of luxury was always in his lifestyle... and he enjoyed that lifestyle, humbly.

His day job was less than eventful, which was just his speed. Data entry was simple, intellectually stimulating, but not unpredictable, and he didn’t have to sit in a cubicle all day either. He worked from home, comfortably in the small office just off the kitchen in his small but cozy lakeside estate. He prided himself on dressing well, even if he wasn’t in a professional environment, he wanted to make sure he still took care of himself. Dressing the part was included. Ciel lived a normal, boring life, and that was all he ever wanted.

After the Phantomhive family tragedy, Ciel was to inherit the business of his father, and his grandfather before that. He was much too young at the time, so the business was temporarily handled by the previous Phantomhive butler and his Aunt. Upon reaching a more mature age, he was determined to leave everything he had tried to recover from behind him, and in turn, fully passed the company over to his Aunt. He had relocated to the upstate of New York, just on the lakes. It was peaceful, but when the rare occasion came in which he wanted to go out, there were plenty of cities to visit within an hour or two at most. He didn’t quite mind the drive since it wasn’t an often occurrence.

--

After a long day of work, Ciel made his way into the modern styled kitchen, pinching the bridge of his nose. With a small sigh, he began to prepare himself a cup of tea and sat on the couch, switching on the TV. Truthfully, he was glad for Mey-Rin, and when she was at work, the house could become quite lonesome.

“One night only, experience a show like you’ve never seen before...” The announcer boomed on the TV, and the force behind his voice caused Ciel to jump a bit as he sipped his tea.

Images of a big, red and white topped tent flashed on the screen, among other circus-related imagery. Ciel scoffed.

“This is not a circus, but an exhibition of the inexplicably exquisite.” The announcer continued, and Ciel raised an eyebrow, but focused on the screen, intrigued. “Tonight at midnight...”

More imagery would flash across the screen as Ciel checked his phone, but his eyes snapped back up at the sound of a voice that could only be described as dripping in honey.

“We look forward to seeing you at Lady Blanc’s Exquisite Oddities, if you please...” Ciel caught a glance of the bright, red eyes fluttering shut on screen before the TV cut to an address, and he quickly snapped a photo of the screen just before some awkward commercial for the newest prescription medication. He furrowed his brow, staring at his phone.

There was no way he would convince Mey to tag along, considering it was a midnight... show? He shook his head to himself and checked the time again. Currently, it was only seven, so he had time to think.

--

After a light dinner, Ciel found himself staring into his dismally colored closet, debating himself mentally. After a moment of standing around, he decided he could always leave if it was too much, and nobody was forcing him to go.

He peeked outside before throwing on a loose, soft grey sweater, tucking a bit of the front into the tight black jeans he had slid on, buckling his belt after. He laced up the clunky boots he’d come to love the style of, making his way to the vanity and fluffing his hair around and peering at himself. He sighed again, leaning against the minimalistic white countertop.

“What are you doing, Ciel?” He scoffed with a laugh at himself but inevitably grabbed his car keys and wallet, tucking it into his pocket.

Something about that voice... no, the whole commercial, he convinced himself, wouldn’t leave his mind. The curiosity swirled in his brain, and regardless of how silly it seemed, he had to know what he would miss if he just... didn’t show.

--

Upon arriving at the address, there were several cars lined up already, but it wasn’t an overwhelming amount of patronage from the look of it. The venue itself wasn’t much of anything but a gravel lined field with the tent pitched.

Ciel made his way down the strangely empty pathway, furrowing his brows. There were no decorations or murals, nothing around the small entryway he saw. Regardless, he made his way through and was met with the roar of the machinery that must have been generators running for lighting and such, and for a moment a wave of confusion fell over him.

“Excuse me.” A voice like warm milk and honey. He shivered, glancing around out of his bright blue eye. “You seem to be lost. The audience entrance is on the opposite side of the tent.”

Ciel took a couple of steps back, the faint silhouette of a tall, limber figure defined through another curtain on the left.

“Oh- I- sorry.” He managed before backtracking his way out and speed walking towards the other side of the tent. He paused and leaned against a tree for a moment, taking shaky breaths until he was calm again before continuing normally to the actual entrance.

A small, blonde-headed boy with bright blue eyes gazed back at him from the ticket podium, lifting a skeletal hand palm up.

“Admission is twenty.” He said snarkily, and Ciel raised an eyebrow put pulled out his wallet, forking over the cash.

“Enjoy.”

Ciel wandered through the curtain, one hand gripping the elbow of the opposite arm as he shuffled to find a seat. He ended up in the first row a bit to the right, staring down at the circular pit at the center of the tent in wait.

The lights began to lower, and Ciel bit his lip nervously. From the back, that same, dark, slender silhouette emerged, sauntering slowly towards the center of the ring, baton in hand. The band began to play a cheery, but discordant song, the Bally Girls emerging behind the ring leader, singing harmonies in their 20’s flapper reminiscent outfits. Ciel squinted a bit, eyes focusing. He could make out the long, black coat draping down around slender legs, and a gloved hand slid it’s thumb and index finger across the brim of the man's top hat that blocked his face as he stepped into the spotlight.

“Ladies...” The man spoke, and Ciel felt the same shiver up his spine as before. “...and gentleman...” The man tilted his head back, his bright eyes reflecting as they locked with Ciel’s, his plush lips falling apart in astonishment.

He’s looking right at me, Ciel thought, not able to pull his eyes away as they locked onto the crimson glow of the eyes that stared right back at him, scanning him deliberately before giving a wink.

“Welcome... to Lady Blanc’s.” His honey dripped voice boomed, arms thrusting out at his sides, baton outstretched.