Sebastian Michaelis had been wrong-footed ever since that bloody spider snuck in and stole his meal from him.
From that moment on, Ciel had been… off. Like a lovely cream pudding left out on the counter on a warm afternoon, while his soul was still delicious, the amnesia and suspicion had left him a little sour. That simply got worse with contact from Alois Trancy, a human whose soul had been warped since he was practically a toddler.
He remembered the moment he’d pierced Claude Faustus with the demon sword, and felt satisfaction touch his tongue.
It was washed away immediately, as his once-meal, now-master sent him off to the London Townhouse to bring a condolence gift to Prince Soma.
He masked his rage, the contract tightening around him like barbed wire, and carried out his master’s will.
Prince Soma raged and wept, as was to be expected, although in the depths of his emotion, he actually forgot he was afraid of Sebastian and almost attacked him. Agni stepped forward, as he always did, and held his young master as Soma fell to pieces.
Sebastian’s mouth tightened into a frown as his eyes met Agni’s. The sorrow was there, as expected, but so too was a sympathy he had never seen in anyone else’s eyes, human, demon, or reaper. No one had ever felt for Sebastian’s loss, even a false loss that was merely a deception to extract his master from any clinging human connections. This sympathy was strictly for Sebastian, and it burned.
It wasn’t the sole arrow aimed at his pride, however.
When he had gazed upon the devotion Agni, the only human who had ever called him friend and deserved said sobriquet in return to any extent, showed for young Soma… Sebastian knew that his life would be but a poor parody of such a deep relationship until the end of time.
That realization had done what nothing else could.
It had broken something inside him, and left him utterly cold.
Black feathers fell in his wake as he returned, for the last time, to his Young Master.
While he no longer had human servants in the house to fool with the subterfuge of morning tea, Ciel delighted in humiliating him by forcing Sebastian to serve him as if he were still human. The morning after the bound demon returned from his trip to London, Agni’s sympathy still causing him to twitch, he met his master in the boy demon’s bedchamber.
Dressed him with exquisite care as the red eyes, one stamped obscenely, permanently, with his contract mark, sneered down at him.
He kept his composure perfectly, of course. At one time, he would have whimsically asked, what kind of butler could he be, if he couldn’t weather the scorn of his young lord, with his temper ruffled from waking too early? But he was no longer a Phantomhive butler, and he would no longer take on the tasks he had endured for the sake of a meal he would never eat.
Better, he decided, to make an end to it, than slowly descend into starvation and madness at the hands of a narcissistic, oath-breaking infant.
He followed his demon master out into the weak morning sunshine, wheeling a tray with a caricature of morning tea onto the terrace. Moving beside his master’s chair, he set the empty china plate down as if it contained the citron cake with shaved lemon, glazed cherries, and fondant icing it once would have. Completing his movement with sweeping grace, he came behind the chair, caught Ciel by the jaw with his forearm trapping the small demon’s neck, and brought a silver knife up to the traitorous tongue.
Ciel was strong, but not nearly strong enough. Sebastian waited through the torrent of curses and demands, the tip of the knife holding the tongue down just enough so that the commands could not come through clearly.
He was breaking his own contract, and that hurt enough without having to disobey a direct order to do it.
As he held the boy demon down to render him mute, Sebastian explained why he had been driven to such extremes. “Your human soul was beautiful, but as a demon, you are an abject failure. You began as a contract breaker, and what kind of demon does that make you?”
He shifted the knife to make the cut, and Ciel gasped out his last words, “You end as a contract breaker! What kind of demon are YOU?”
Sebastian deftly removed the tongue and stared dispassionately down at his previous meal, now nemesis, as he struggled not to choke on his own blood.
“Free,” he responded somberly, feeling the contract he just broke poking under his skin like jagged fractured glass. He knew it would come to this when he made the decision that he would not spend eternity as this brat’s indentured servant.
He couldn’t stand what Ciel had become. A demon who breaks bargains is no kind of demon at all, and he had bound Sebastian in indentured servitude to him for eternity, through Hannah’s trickery, Alois’ selfishness, and Ciel’s perfidy. Ciel's human soul was magnificent; with it gone, all that was left was a spoiled, shallow, baby-demon brat in a human shell.
Sebastian was not going to be subservient to that until the end of time.
Efficiently stuffing a folded napkin into Ciel’s bleeding mouth, he tightly tied the clawed hands that were currently attempting to rip his throat out with a strip of linen torn from the tablecloth, and hoisted him into his arms for the last time.
Thankfully, demons couldn’t feel nostalgia, or he might have weakened. Furious red eyes glaring up at him did nothing but make him sigh.
When his young master had been a meal-in-waiting, they’d been a lovely blue.
Bounding lightly over the rooftops, it was the work of a moment to bring them to the Undertaker’s door.
“I feared this had happened,” a light voice came from the depths of the shop. “Freshly hatched demon, how unfortunate.”
“Not for long,” Sebastian informed him politely, quelling another physical rebellion from the fettered boy in his arms.
Ciel made a gurgling noise around the gag, the fine cotton slowly turning red as he bled into it. The Undertaker looked intrigued. Sebastian was impatient, but careful not to let it show.
“Please call down your brethren, Undertaker,” he requested quietly. “There are souls to be reaped here.”
That statement sent Ciel into a frenzy, and Sebastian rapped sharply on his head, knocking him slightly dizzy. The Undertaker’s head tipped back, and his now-visible eyes widened.
“Oh,” he murmured, “that’s one for the books.” A strange smile twisted his scarred visage, and he made a beckoning motion with his hands.
Sebastian nodded his thanks, and walked out into the tiny courtyard behind the shop. He knew the Undertaker would appreciate his consideration in taking the confrontation outdoors, so as not to disturb or damage any of his goods… either coffins or corpses.
“Oooooh,” came a bright cackle behind him. “What on earth could this be, Sebas-chan? A pressie? For me? Holy shit.”
The last two words were much darker and deeper than the happy tone that preceded them. Sebastian turned, Ciel held tightly against his chest, to find Grell, eyes huge behind his glasses, scythe hanging, rotating uselessly, at his side, red coat falling off his shoulders as always.
He gave the stunned reaper his very best smile. If anything, that seemed to deepen the idiot’s stupor. He sighed, and let the smile slip away.
“I do not know if you are aware, but our circumstances have changed.”
“I’ll say,” the Undertaker muttered behind him.
Sebastian politely ignored him and got on with it. The broken contract was making him itch nigh-unbearably.
“Ciel Phantomhive murdered a a human child while he was still a human child himself,” he declared, seeing Grell’s eyes sharpen and focus away from him, onto the furious face and red eyes of the boy in his arms. “He has broken two contracts, with the late demon Claude Faustus and with myself; has been responsible, directly via command or indirectly by action, for the death of five demons in total, with one of whom he held a contract; and has caused the indentured servitude in perpetuity of another. Myself.”
The Undertaker sucked in a breath behind him, and Grell muttered what was no doubt a filthy curse, his now-sharp gaze turning piercing, as he looked between Ciel and Sebastian.
“That situation,” Sebastian ended his explanation, “has forced me to become a contract breaker, which is unendurable.”
“I… see,” Grell answered softly, although it was plain he didn’t. Couldn’t understand it, really. Only a demon could, and only a demon would appreciate the depths to which he would sink to rid himself of this despicable condition.
“I come before you now, Grell Sutcliff, and ask you to do your duty. Reap me, please. First. Then reap Phantomhive.”
“But… but… but,” Grell sputtered.
“Of course,” the Undertaker interjected somberly. The ancient reaper’s long experience showed in his instant grasp of the situation. Sebastian glanced over at him with a tiny smile, then blinked back at Grell.
“If you do not reap me first, the last remnants of the contract between he and I will force me to intervene, much against my will. Please, Grell. I have never asked a favor of any sort from anyone, as I am asking you now.”
Grell was sobbing, and not quietly, either. Ciel was coming around, and starting to struggle. The Undertaker was whistling behind them… Sebastian recognized it as incidental music to La Tosca by Victorien Sardou, then ignored the crazy reaper’s sense of humor. Into the middle of this madness, came a sudden blossom of pain, as a pair of shears the size of his palm ripped through the middle of his chest, and a cinematic reel burst forth.
“Ah, exactly on time,” he forced out the words, as he dropped to his knees, still pinning Ciel against him so the boy demon couldn’t squirm free. He wasn’t going to die and have the little bastard escape to survive. “Thank you, William,” he continued with his last breath. “I knew I could count on you to act exactly as you have.”
By then he was out of air, and allowed himself to relax, watching the exceptionally long cinematic record spool out, placing his entire life on display. He had the vague notion only the Undertaker was watching.
William T. Spears was too busy spluttering at Sebastian’s blasé acceptance of his own reaping and the implication that he had maneuvered William into doing it. Grell… Grell was snarling like an animal, and glaring at Ciel.
As he had hoped, in rage at having Sebastian stolen from him, Grell leapt forward and ran his buzzing saw of a scythe directly into Ciel’s chest. Sebastian finally relaxed his grip as the demon boy became a demon corpse.
He firmly expected that to be the end of it.
To his shock, intense enough he actually showed it, once the cinematic reel ended, he didn’t face darkness.
He faced Ciel. As Ciel.
As the child demon died, the human soul came out of hiding. Sebastian was astonished to find himself still alive after losing his cinematic record, and shared shocked glances with Ciel Phantomhive’s blue eyes.
Blue eyes unmarred by Sebastian’s demon mark.
“Well, go ahead,” William ordered him brusquely. “There’s your first soul to reap, Michaelis. He’ll bleed out soon, and your work will begin.” He gestured from Sebastian to Ciel.
Ciel had his arms wrapped around his torso trying to hold his entrails and his rib cage inside his body. His mouth worked but no noise could be heard through the gag.
Grell had been thorough in his rage.
Sebastian blinked, and realized the entire world beyond the dying boy before him was fuzzy. His first reaction was utter disbelief.
"I'm a demon!" he finally stuttered out.
"You're a suicide," William informed him dryly, “and now, you’re a reaper.”
An ear-splitting squeal came from a blurry red figure that appeared to be bouncing around in ecstasy, if his suddenly-terrible eyesight could be believed.
"Oh, glory!" Grell sang out.
Sebastian stared down at a gleaming silver table knife with a wickedly sharp edge that had just appeared in his hand, and bit his lip. Absently gathering Ciel close to him, he rocked him gently, and slid the knife under his shattered ribs. A short shock of pain, and Ciel’s cinematic record burst out, looping around them. Blue eyes looked up to him with what honestly appeared to be relief, before closing one last time.
Newly-appointed reaper Sebastian turned, handed the body off to the Undertaker, who took it tenderly, and stepped away from the hungry strands of memory before they could enclose him.
William handed him a pair of spectacles, and Sebastian stared down at them morosely before perching them on his nose. His vision cleared, and he saw Grell practically levitating around them, hearts streaming from his eyes. His stomach lurched.
"Forever with Grell... this is worse than hell ever was..."