Title: The Tight Spot
Author: Sybil Rowan
Summary: Finny is noticed, in an amorous way, by a criminal Ceil is working to destroy, but Finny's too naive to deal with it properly. Bard and Mey-rin help him out of the situation.
Pairing(s)/Characters: Bard, Mey-rin, and Finny in friendship/ Finny being perused by an OC creep
Warnings: memories of horrible child abuse, some language, not terribly graphic, but can strike a chord.
Author's Notes: None really, but I just love Finny, Bard, and Mey-rin... that trio is way too fun! My first Black Butler fic, so I hope I do it some justice. This is a blend of the anime and manga. Also, I may include Snake in this one, but we will see.
Disclaimer: Black Butler is owned by Yana Tobosu. Reference to "Apocalypses Now"- couldn't resist with Bard.
Beta Reader: WingedPanther73, my beloved hubby!
Date: June 11, 2014, 17:05
Word Count: on going
Finny was covered in dirt. Sebastian didn't tolerate dirt tracked through the manner house at all, so he crept in the back door, as was expected of him. He snuck past the kitchen when he caught the distinct odor of napalm coming from it. It was dusk, and Bard should be cooking dinner, not trying out a new flamethrower or something else. Sebastian would rain down fire and brimstone for sure!
Getting to know Bard had made him intimately familiar with the scent of napalm; the scent of... how did Bard put it... "victory in the morning"? Finny tried to avoid Bard's contraptions if he could, because Sebastian always seemed to make them into a defeat. It was kind of a funny game to Finny as he watched the cook and butler go back and forth. It was kind of sad, though, because the cook never won, except when it came to protecting the manner house.
Then again, Finny was so grateful for the scrapes Sebastian had gotten him out of. Still, he rooted for the cook to win at least one battle with the butler. He really like Bard and had roomed with him for a little over two years, now. That was when Sebastian had taken him from his previous existence. He smiled at his divided loyalty and decided he'd stick with rooting for Bard, because Sebastian had so much of an advantage.
The smile dropped from his face as memories started to press in. He pushed them away from his mind and frowned, which wasn't normal on his sweet face. Then again, those people that had owned him before Young Master Ceil never had intended for him to smile.
They had just wanted him to kill. He shook his head furiously and concentrated on the day he just had, outside and among white roses. THAT was all he should know, nothing more should be allowed into his head. That was the only thing he asked of Mister Sebastian in spite of his generous offer of money and such, the only thing he asked was that he could be outside.
He snuck up the stairs to the bedroom he shared with Bard and looked around. The two of them didn't have much; it was the same with Mey-rin. It wasn't that Young Master Ceil didn't pay them well and give them gifts, but it was that the three of them didn't go into the town often.
Sebastian didn't want them to wander around much, anyway, without his say-so. One thing he'd discovered: Mey-rin and Bard had an aversion to crowds of people like he did. He smiled, thinking of how his two fellow servants understood him.
They knew him. With them, he had gone into some details about what he had gone through; they knew he had been altered against his will. The nice thing about the other Phantomhive servants, they never held it against him. They just accepted him, and he accepted them in return. They both had come from bad situations like him. For the first time, Finny could understand the idea of "family."
His dark thoughts were interrupted when he saw a note was pinned to his and Bard's bedroom door. Sebastian had taught him and Mey-rin to read, and he still wasn't good at it like Mey-rin. He suspected Mey-rin had gotten help through something called "bodice busters" that Bard snickered at, whatever they were. She read her books with a giant magnifying glass, which seemed to be cumbersome, so the books must be good to go to that trouble, Finny figured.
He had asked what they were, in hopes of getting to be better at reading like her. Bard had patted Finny's head and said, "Don't worry about bodice busters, kid. They make women really, really, really happy. The more they read of them, the better off you are. That's all you need to know about them... for now.
"Besides, givin' you The Talk will probably fall to my shoulders soon. Who knows what Sebastian would tell you." Then Bard had shuddered and sighed. He then fixed Finny with a firm glare and said, "Today ain't the day I'm giving you The Talk, so scram! I will when I work up some gumption."
Finny had accepted it and didn't ask to borrow Mey-rin's books like he had planned. Two weeks later, he was still left wondering about what The Talk he was to receive. It worried him a great deal. He had asked Sebastian at one point what Bard was referring to. The dark butler had chuckled and actually had given him a kindly pat on the head, too. He had said, "I'll let Bard have that particular torture."
Finny shook his head to banish the memory, gazed at the note on his door, and mumbled slowly, "Meet Young Master Ceil and me in the great hall, clean dressed, and at seven sharp. I want you to show the Phantomhive household is of quality. Make it so. There will be a guest, but I will attend to him primarily. Be prepared to follow any orders I give without pause, Sebastian." Finny smiled and chuckled. "Bard won't like that. He's so keen on outdoing Sebastian, but now he'll have to take orders."
He left the note on the door for Bard. He was surprised to see their room was fresh and clean. New sheets, dusted, and swept. Mey-rin wasn't to clean their room, Sebastian was clear on that, because that was too much for one maid to handle. They were expected to keep their own room tidy. Bard, who was an ex-solider, was used to keeping his living space clean and orderly; he had taught that to Finny. This fresh cleanliness was beyond what they normally did.
Also, Sebastian was conscientious on defending Mey-rin's feminine dignity, and, of course, rumors of Phantomhive servants "fraternizing." Finny was still unclear on what "fraternizing" was, but it must be dreadful, because he heard servants got fired for it. He sighed. How was he supposed to avoid something when he wasn't clear on what it was?
More importantly, who had cleaned their room and why?
His tired mind couldn't ponder on the mystery anymore. He wandered over to the washbasin and started peeling off his muddy, outer clothes. All he was in was his plain, drawstring boxers. He was shocked to feel the pitcher for the washbasin was warm. The water should have been cold, because Bard and he had been busy all day. He wasn't one to complain, though, for such a gift.
He poured the water into the basin, being careful to leave half the water for Bard, and gave the small, warm pool a smile. He actually glanced at the lock to make sure it was turned right, and then he felt he could strip nude, in spite of his discomfort, even in private.
Bard was going to play games in the kitchen, so he felt he could have a spare minute to properly clean himself without wearing a shift and washing under it for modesty. He still hated it when people could see all the needle tracks on his arms and legs. Also, there was that tattoo on the back of his neck.
He took one of the wash rags by the basin up and thought about it. He did want his body clean. It was an indulgence no one would probably understand, to keep your body clean with warm water and lavender soap when you wanted, not when someone dumped cold water on you and forcefully rubbed you down with lye soap. He despised the odor of lye, because he remembered the hands on him. All over his body... he wasn't in control then.
"No! No! No!"
He realized he was rubbing his skin so hard he was scratching it with his dirty fingernails. His ribs were now scratched up and bleeding in deep, red scratches. It was starting to match the ugliness of the track marks up his arms and legs that those people forced on him. The door lock clicked. His panic hit! Two people had the key to the lock... It was either Sebastian or...
"Finny?" Bard asked, keeping his eyes adverted and not stepping all the way in. "I've been knocking for a while. You okay?"
His emotions pumped higher as he threw on boxers and a shift over his wet skin. He forced cheer into his tone and said, "I'm fine! Come in! Sorry, I was just bathing."
Bard snorted and stepped in fully. The man looked like he wanted to say something, but obviously bit his tongue with a smirk that brought a furious blush to Finny's cheeks. "You saw the note on the door and understood it?" Bard was asking about understanding because he knew Finny was fairly new at reading; he wasn't trying to put him down.
"Yes. We're to join them this evening."
"That sucks, but..." the man gave a dramatic sigh and slumped shoulders, "...that's how it goes. I can keep busy in another room if you want more privacy for a little while."
"No, I was finished."
"Finished? What's with your shift?" The man's face fell into concern. "You're bleeding, Finny boy. What happened?"
Finny's mind spun a tale that he fell in a rose bush, but he just couldn't bring himself to tell the man he looked up to a lie. He looked down when his face grew hot and admitted, "I just scrubbed my skin too hard. I didn't know I was..."
"Finny! Be more careful with yourself! What were you doing?" Bard snapped, giving him a concerned glare. Bard knew better than to touch or get near Finny directly at certain times; things could go bad quickly. So, he ordered in that soldier's tone, "Take off your shift so I can fix you up. Your fingernails are dirty from the garden, so you could get an infection."
He started trembling, but did as he was told, now in his boxers. There was a hierarchy he had to obey, unless Sebastian broke in an said "no," he had to do as Bard told him. He trusted Bard after all this time as a good leader to protect the Phantomhive mansion. Still, his body had suffered so much at the hands of others, in particular, adults. He calmed his unease; Bard was a friend and wouldn't harm him.
"Aww, Finny, why'd you do it?" Bard asked in a low, soothing way, getting a fresh wash cloth ready and some alcohol ready by the basin. The way Bard spoke made him so embarrassed of what he'd done, even though the man spoke with gentle concern. The scratches were worse than he thought. He had taken out tiny chucks of flesh and not even really thought about it. No wonder Bard was giving him such a worried look.
The alcohol on his scratches didn't really hurt at all. He had endured a lot of pain before. Bard dabbed the alcohol on Finny's ribs and the boy said, "I remembered them. Those men... cleaning us. They were afraid we'd get something called leprosy, so they'd take a hose and make us take our clothes off once a week. They sprayed us off and made us put lye on. Then they would spray us again with cold water." Finny knew he couldn't keep running from that memory.
"Tell me about it," Bard gently coaxed.
Bard was a soldier and didn't let his stomach get turned by much, but Finny's tale made his stomach boil in rage. It was a good thing Sebastian had killed those men that held Finny. Bard would go find them all, and...
"I refused to let them spray me once because the smell of the lye soap was going to make me throw up. They forced me... to take my clothes off. It was before I was strong enough to resist people."
Bard felt the pulse in his neck get horribly fast, and he wouldn't meet Finny's eyes anymore, because he was afraid he'd scare the boy with his wrathful grimace. All the ex-solider did was tend the scratches, but now with more ginger with where he touched and how he touched. He was so worried about triggering trauma in the boy.
"You were hurt badly that one time, weren't you?" Bard forced his tone to be bland so he didn't startle Finny, but it was a coaxing question, too. If Finny could talk about it, maybe he could start to heal.
"They hit me with leather straps." Finny shivered and admitted, "They didn't say anything except 'einreichst' over and over." Bard could tell Finny's chest was growing tight and he was having trouble breathing.
"Even when I threw up, they wouldn't stop what they were doing! I don't know why they did it, or what it meant." Finny swiped at his cheeks and pulled away from Bard's first aid. Finny choked out, "It just felt so awful." He refused to look at the man. Bard knew it was because Finny was fearing seeing scorn in his eyes. "Why didn't I just obey them?"
"Trust me, obedience is not good all the time. It screwed my life over when I obeyed an idiot Major that though strategy came from books and not instinct. Listen! Just cry. There's no shame in it," Bard coaxed, gently, slowly putting his arm around Finny's shoulders. "It was wrong, what happened to you."
Finny looked at him blankly, at first, and then shook his head, looking as if he wanted to die of shame. No, this kid wasn't going to talk about these things very willingly. He pitied Finny, but he was more afraid for the kid. Bard was afraid Finny'd choke his emotions down.
Finny still didn't really know about why what those men did to him was wrong, exactly; Finny only felt it was wrong from instinct. He had to understand better what was moral and what was bad when it came to human relationships, or Finny could experience some horrible things in the future. Bard knew he needed to have a serious talk with the kid, and he decided he'd take him aside during afternoon tea tomorrow. Finny was about to hit puberty and needed to know more about how the world worked.
"That crap never has to happen to you again. You're strong enough to resist, and now you have all of us. There is not one of us that would see you hurt like that again. Think about the young master!" Bard's tone turned dark. "That sort of thing bothers him a great deal. I overheard Sebastian talk about an underground slavery ring, and it wasn't pleasant what Master Ceil imposed on them." Bard then snorted and said with dourness, "I'd hate to see the person that crossed the master with some crime like slavery again."
"I thought you might think I was a terrible person since I couldn't make them leave me alone, but I promise I was too weak then. I should have endured the lye. Einreichst was all they said. It means to submit." Finny looked up at the man in hope. "Can you still be my friend even though all that bad stuff happened to me?"
Bard then took on a very nasty expression. The kid was so messed up thanks to what some horrid monsters disguised as humans did. "I will never stop being your friend. The only terrible people in your story are the ones that hurt you." He gripped Finny's arms and gave him a firm expression. "You are not terrible because of what other people did to you."
That was the point Finny felt release and sobbed on Bard's chest for a short while. They finally got cleaned up when the dusk light fell on them. They dressed in their nicest clothes. After Finny was in control, and they were ready for the guest, Bard reminded him what Mey-rin and Finny where so keen on.
"Smile! At the very least, for the young master's sake."
Finny actually swiped at his tear stained cheeks and plastered on a smile. Bard didn't exactly like making Finny give a fake smile, but he hoped his younger friend would let the happy expression take a hold and push his past further back. After all, Finny and Mey-rin were right. There was too much sorrow in the Phantomhive house.
When Bard saw the guest, that's when he was bothered. He was one of those slick types from upper society, a total dandy with slicked back, dark hair. Maybe mid-thirties, Bard guessed. There was something about the man's lecherous, brown eyes sweeping over everything with open greed that really bothered Bard. But it was when those eyes landed on Finny and wouldn't move, that's when Bard was really disturbed by the young master's guest.
"Sir Dean Templar Garner, let my butler take your coat and hat," Ceil Phantomhive ordered, making a hand motion towards Sebastian. The man ignored Sebastian and walked up to Finny who stood in the receiving line between Mey-rin and Bard.
"I'd rather this one serve me. Here," Garner said, handing over his extra garments to a surprised Finny. "Take good care of my things."
Finny gave the man one of his brightest, charming smiles and said, "I'll do my very best. Welcome, Sir Garner."
The man seemed taken aback by Finny's bright, sweet smile. The man collected himself and returned the smile with an expression that seemed very devious. The man then said, "Sind Sie nicht ein guter Junge."
Bard wonder what the man had said because the color drained from Finny's face, but he managed to continue to smile, only now, the sincerity was drained from that smile. Bard had been friends with the kid long enough to know what that man had said bothered him deeply. He even noticed Finny's shoulders were trembling.
Master Ceil tapped his cane on the marble floor and snapped coolly at Finny, "Leave, Finnian, and stay in your quarters for the rest of the weekend. I don't care to see your face! Sebastian, make sure Finnian is out of sight and out mind this whole weekend!"
Sir Garner asked, "But why tuck away such a boy when he's such a pleasure to gaze on? His eyes are amazing. His face came out of a Botticelli painting, only his eyes look too joyful for that. The innocent look, too, is so enduring. It's like fresh laid snow that calls for someone to walk in, make their mark on him. He's captivating." The man then raised his hand and caressed Finny's cheek.
Finny grew red and shook horribly; he looked utterly confused. Sir Garner smirked at him. Bard could tell the man was getting pleasure off of Finny's discomfort. "However, I wonder if this little one could show the same sorrow in the eyes Botticelli painted? He reminds me of..."
Bard was about to say something because the man was just too close to Finny. "Sebastian! Take Finnian away because his presence is displeasing to me!" Ceil said, his countenance growing darker. "Take Finnian away! Now!"
Sebastian gave his bow and said firmly, "Yes, my lord."
Bard was taken aback. Finny had only done what a good servant would have done. And what was that language the man spoke? Finny seem to understand it. Didn't he earlier use a word that sounded like it? Still, he was grateful Master Ceil had said this because this guy was just a plain creep.
Finny gave a small bow and followed Sebastian out of the main hall. Master Ceil then turned to the guest who was staring after Finny. Master Ceil gave the man a nasty scowl and slammed his cane more forcefully on the marble, the echo was incredible.
"Sir Garner! Join me on the veranda for some light refreshments. Mey-rin, bring them since Sebastian is occupied."
"Yes, sir!" Mey-rin said softly, looking just as baffled as Bard. She scurried away. Bard went after her to help with the snack Sebastian had prepared.
"I didn't mean to do anything wrong, Sebastian."
The tall, dark-haired butler looked over his shoulder and gave him a cool gaze with those crimson eyes. "You did nothing wrong, Finnian. Please relax."
"But the master seemed so angry with me." He felt so deflated and embarrassed. "I don't know what I did to upset him."
"He's not angry with you," Sebastian said, but didn't explain further. When they got to his and Bard's room, Sebastian took Sir Garner's hat and coat from Finny. "Go into your room and stay there for the next three days. You are not to get around the young master's guest, at all. I will bring your meals this weekend."
Finny's heart clenched in dread. The one thing he had asked of Sebastian in turn for serving Master Ceil was to be outdoors; he had wanted to reject all the money and perks just for sunlight on his skin. Finny's dread turned into sorrow. He felt lied to. Why was Sebastian and Master Ceil going back on their deal?
It hurt so bad, but he was too afraid to argue. He went in his room, but before he could shut the door, he heard Sebastian said, "Finnian, it's for your own good. And it is just three days. I know this causes you pain, but please endure this hurt for the master's sake, and your own."
"Yes, Sir," he said and tried to smile; it just wasn't coming. He shut the door, ran to his bed, and flopped down on it. He cried after he heard Sebastian lock him in. He had no idea why he was being punished. It was like those people that owned him before.
They never told him anything so he couldn't change what he was doing to displease them. This was the first time in two years he was experiencing this in the Phantomhive household. Sebastian was always so clear cut on what he expected. Why all the secrecy now? Was his dreams of freedom and the outdoors being snatched away?
To be continued.
A/N: the German was basically "You're a good boy, aren't you?"