Series: Black Butler
Prompt: #56: Indirect
Word Count: 1,471
Characters, Pairings: Sebastian/Ciel undertones
Summary: He has no desire to talk about what’s truly bothering him, and so he decides to discuss an entirely meaningless topic… or so he thinks. The topic at hand winds up meaning more to him than it ever should.
Warnings: the usual when it comes to these two; it’s a little weird and creepy. Some macabre imagery.
Notes: The muses won’t shut up. D:
Ciel has been in the tub long enough for the water to become only lukewarm, but he doesn’t say anything about the temperature—in fact, he hasn’t breathed a word since he stepped into the water, and he is admittedly somewhat surprised that Sebastian hasn’t inquired as to why he’s playing the quiet game today.
Of course, both of them know the reason, and so Sebastian doesn’t really have to ask. Today marks the second anniversary of the death of Ciel’s parents, and of his own descent into a darkness that he feels he still hasn’t managed to claw away from (and with darkness itself beside him, masquerading as a butler, he doubts he ever will).
“The Young Master has barely said three words all day,” Sebastian suddenly says, as if on cue. “I haven’t even been yelled at for allowing the bathwater to grow tepid. This is not the usual temperature that you desire, my Lord.”
Ciel glances to his right, pointedly avoiding Sebastian’s (ever-patient) gaze. He drums his fingers on the rim of the porcelain tub. “Then perhaps you should hurry,” he remarks. On any other day, he would yell at Sebastian for allowing the temperature of his bathwater to drop below ideal, but then again… Sebastian already knows this, doesn’t he?
Sebastian chuckles and moves to the right side of the tub, and Ciel once again glances away from him, thankful that all that’s left to be washed are his lower legs and his feet.
His butler, however, takes his precious time in doing so, which irks Ciel to no end. As Sebastian is washing between the toes of his right foot, he casually asks: “What is on your mind, my Lord?”
For the most part, Ciel doesn’t like when Sebastian asks questions like this. He doesn’t really like it when Sebastian goes pilfering through his thoughts, digging clawed feet into his brain. He wants to say, and mind your own business, but he bites those particular words back. Instead, he redirects his thoughts away from fire and ashes and degradation and towards a different topic entirely (though it is admittedly no less gruesome).
“Those at Scotland Yard called it a ‘crime of passion’,” he murmurs, referring to the murder case that he and Sebastian had solved just three days ago.
The girl had been stabbed repeatedly and dismembered, and her heart had been cut out. Her entrails had been spilled on the floor and the discarded pieces of what remained of her body. Her eyes had been wide open (and her mouth, too, as if it were open in a silent scream) even though her head had been detached from her neck.
It had made Ciel’s stomach churn, but he had forced himself to drink in all of the gory details, right down to how cleanly the cuts had been made and how carefully the body parts had been rearranged. It had been ‘overkill’ in the highest degree.
“So that is what is bothering the Young Master?” Sebastian is finishing up, cleaning between the toes of Ciel’s left foot now, and the look in his eyes says I don’t believe you, but I’ll humor you.
Ciel doesn’t particularly like that knowing look, either. “How could what he did to that woman have anything to do with love? To me, that appeared to be the utter desecration of it.”
Sebastian is quiet for a moment as he rinses Ciel off, and then helps him climb out of the tub. He speaks as he is drying the young earl off. “Love comes in many forms, My Lord,” he intones. “Not all of those forms are beautiful.”
“What would you know of love?” Ciel haughtily and sneeringly demands (like a petulant child). “Human emotion isn’t your area of expertise.”
“It may not be my area of expertise,” Sebastian agrees as he helps Ciel shrug into his nightshirt, “but that doesn’t mean that I am altogether ignorant of it, my Lord. I know that you also noted how clean the cuts were and how carefully everything was rearranged. He believed that he loved that woman in his own twisted way, and that is how he ultimately showed it in the end—if he couldn’t have her, then no-one else could, either.”
Ciel thinks on this (perhaps a little too hard, a little too long), and his mind is still replaying Sebastian’s words even as his butler tucks him into bed. The bedsheets are fresh—crisp and clean and inviting, and Ciel snuggles into them, sighing softly.
Sebastian remains at his bedside, as if waiting for something.
And the words come tumbling without Ciel’s permission: “Sometimes, I let myself forget what you truly are, for a little while.”
Sebastian bows deeply, slowly, and when he straightens, he is smirking. “I am naught but one hell of a butler, my Lord.”
Ciel snorts at the now-overly-familiar phrase. “Don’t start with the bedtime stories, Sebastian. I’m too old for those, and I’m not in the mood for playing word games.”
Sebastian may not lie, but he twists the truth to suit himself—Ciel has learned this quite well.
“Shall I bid you goodnight, then?” Sebastian queries, raising one dark eyebrow.
Ciel nods, but he doesn’t let Sebastian get more than halfway across the bedroom before whispering: “Wait….” And he kicks himself, because hasn’t he shown enough weakness tonight?
Sebastian pauses and turns around. “Yes, Young Master?”
“When demons… when they take souls, do they do things to the bodies, too? Like… like that man did to that woman?”
Sebastian tilts his head to one side, and smiles again. It should probably make Ciel feel more uneasy than it actually does. “Demons are not nearly so careful, my Lord.” He pauses then, as if in thought, and then amends his previous statement: “Of course, there have been a select few of us who’ve grown quite… fond… of their masters and have indeed been careful. Well, as careful as a demon is capable of being, in any case.”
Ciel shifts underneath the covers, and he gives Sebastian a look that he knows must be a little skeptical. “… Fond?” he parrots, and then shakes his head. “How can a demon even--”
“Comprehension isn’t such a daunting task,” Sebastian smoothly interrupts, his smile now a little too pleasant.
Ciel has asked enough, has said entirely too much, but now that he’s broached the topic and his curiosity has yet to be sated, he asks: “Have you ever… ‘been careful’ with any of your masters when you took their souls?”
For a moment, Sebastian’s eyes bleed bright crimson. “I have not,” he answers. “None of my previous masters did anything to warrant any gentleness from me when I ended their lives.”
Ciel picks up on the ‘previous masters’ bit, but he doesn’t dare comment on it. He’s said enough (too much, but too little) already, right?
“I think,” Sebastian continues, “that I will have to make an exception, just this once. I must admit that I do enjoy your company when you aren’t being so difficult--if I may say so, Young Master. I can promise that I will feel the loss of you once our Contract has ended.”
Ciel opens his mouth, but no words come out, and so he closes it again, flushing (mostly due to embarrassment rather than anger) over Sebastian’s words. He huffs and rolls over onto his side, closing his eyes so that he doesn’t have to look at his butler. “Such pretty threads of deceit you weave.”
“I have vowed to speak only the truth to you, my Lord,” Sebastian whispers, close (so close, too close) to his ear, and Ciel shivers. “I have always, and will always do so.”
“…You may go now, Sebastian,” Ciel eventually mutters, effectively ending the conversation. He has to be awake earlier than usual tomorrow, and Sebastian’s always going on about his sleeping habits, anyway (“You don’t seem to be getting enough rest, Young Master.”).
“Very well.” Sebastian’s reply is far too smug for Ciel’s liking—full of knowing, but Ciel chooses not to comment on that, either. “Goodnight, my Lord.”
He quietly listens to Sebastian’s retreating footsteps, scarcely breathing. Only when his demon butler exits and softly shuts the door does Ciel whisper, “Goodnight, Sebastian.”
On the second anniversary of his parents’ death, Ciel does not dream about all-consuming flames or incinerated bodies. Nor does he dream about certain crime scenes or how his own life might (will) end at the hands of his current provider and protector.
Instead, he dreams of Sebastian (who will be the death of him one day, though this is neither here nor there), standing by his bedside like some slender gargoyle, watching over him as he sleeps.
He sleeps better on this night that he has in years.
Cuteness and sweetness is trying so very hard to leak into the spaces between ‘creepy’ and ‘more creepy’. XD