Series: Black Butler
Prompt: #03: Subtle
Word Count: 1,041
Characters, Pairings: Sebastian/Ciel
Summary: “There are but subtle differences between one type of hunger and another, my Lord.”
Notes: Follows ‘Lust is but Gluttony’s Twin’ (a few months have passed—takes place two weeks after Madam Red’s funeral).
The silence in the dining room is louder than any scream that Ciel has ever heard, and he does not like it—it reminds him of nights spent alone, caged and shackled and filthy and waiting (for rescue, for death, for the torture and the defilement and the dirtiness to stop). It reminds him of how his aunt had suddenly fallen quiet in the wake of a chainsaw’s roar.
It reminds him of the silence that passes between his butler and himself during those suspended moments in time—moments in which Ciel does not know what to say, moments in which Sebastian does know what to say (doesn’t he always?) but chooses instead to say nothing.
In those moments, the threads between them are laden with so much tension that Ciel swears they may snap; it is a sound that he waits for but never hears. The threads only become all the more interwoven and entangled, and there will be no snap, snap, snap, not even when….
“Is desert not to my master’s liking?” Sebastian queries, breaking Ciel’s train of thought and startling the young earl.
The cream atop the pie has already melted and Ciel picks at it with his fork, but does little else. “It isn’t that,” he tersely replies. “It’s just that I have a lot on my mind, is all.” Quickly, he adds, “And I’m not very hungry.” He ducks his head, hiding his blush, but he knows that Sebastian sees it all the same, even without seeing it.
“Understandable,” Sebastian says, as agreeable as ever. “You have been through a lot these past few months, my Lord.”
“As if I need you to remind me.” The words are spoken through gritted teeth, and the blush remains, even though there is no reason for it to be there in the first place.
(But there is, isn’t there? There has been a reason ever since that moment in the bathroom—that moment of silence in which Ciel had made an offer, and that incredibly bold and brash and ludicrous action had placed them at the edge of an unknown precipice, and it’s a long way down, isn’t it?)
“My, my.” There is feigned – not genuine – surprise in Sebastian’s voice, thinly veiling the butler’s obvious amusement. “My young master is certainly awfully testy today. Has been for several weeks, in fact. Is there something weighing on your mind that you wish to discuss with me, my Lord?”
Perhaps demons feel no true emotions, but Ciel is convinced that the one currently standing behind him (and waiting, always waiting) is at the very least capable of feeling some semblance of curiosity, or boredom.
Ciel recalls the look in his butler’s eyes on that day, and his blush deepens, only succeeding in annoying him all the more.
His thoughts flit from the dark and depressing to the darker and forbidden, and he manages to quietly answer (with much less bite than he intended): “Nothing that I wish to discuss with you, no.”
Sebastian could let it drop, but he doesn’t. Instead, he leans over the chair and over Ciel, placing his hands on the armrests. Ciel doesn’t need to see his butler’s face to know that he is smiling. “Perhaps the greater problem here is that my young master is indeed hungry.”
“I just told you that I wasn’t,” Ciel replies, and he hates the little catch in his voice. “So I have no idea as to what you could possibly be referring to.” Except only he does, and he wonders where all the boldness that he was able to display weeks ago has disappeared to all of a sudden.
He also wonders why he doesn’t simply order Sebastian to step away from him.
“There are subtle differences between one type of hunger and another, my Lord,” Sebastian all but purrs, and Ciel hears him inhale deeply. He feels the demon’s eyes on him and he sees the way gloved fingers curl around the chair’s armrests and lightly squeeze. “Are you hungry, Young Master?”
Suddenly, all of the blood in Ciel’s body is simultaneously freezing cold and burning hot, and he shivers for reasons that he doesn’t want to think about. “Are you, Sebastian?” he retorts, and his question is little more than a whisper, his own fingers clutching at the edge of the table until his knuckles turn white. His breathing isn’t quite right, and neither is his butler’s.
And this is a very familiar little scene, only the shoe is on the other foot now, isn’t it?
“I have been hungry for some time, my Lord,” Sebastian replies huskily, silken words tickling the shell of Ciel’s ear and making the boy release the smallest of whimpers.
Ciel hesitates, falters, flounders between an unfamiliar desire and the well-known senses of superiority and anger born from embarrassment. Part of him aches to ask yet another question (What do you hunger for at this moment, Sebastian?) but it is pride and cowardice that win this round.
This time, it is the master who stands down, and not the servant.
“Clean up this mess, Sebastian,” he orders, and the unasked question sits red-hot on his tongue, burning him just as Sebastian’s heated gaze does.
“Of course, Young Master,” Sebastian cordially replies, and he sets to work on fulfilling his master’s command. He doesn’t breathe another word as he cleans the dinner table.
Ciel doesn’t speak either—doesn’t even glance at the demon, but he doesn’t have to.
The silence is there again, loud and overwhelming, filled with all of the things that they haven’t said and with all of the things they have said, only without words.
Ciel tries his best to ignore it.
There is a thin line between what is and what could be (not that it ever, ever should be), and Sebastian walks that line as gracefully as any unearthly creature would, while Ciel takes uncertain steps, awkward and stumbling.
Sebastian always steadies him, for better or for worse.
There is a thin line between what is and what could be, and some lines are inevitably crossed, one way or another.
Ciel knows that in this case, it isn’t a matter of if.
It is merely a matter of when.
Okay, I’ll admit it. I love the tension. Love it. XD