This is my first Kuroshitsuji story, done for Kuroi_santa. Here are two little one-shots! If you haven't read the manga/anime, I would highly recommend it. It's like a cross between Hellsing and Artemis Fowl. I love it.
All characters of Kuroshitsuji © Toboso Yana
The sunlight pouring in through the sash windows dusted the hair of Sebastian Michealis as he glided down the hall of the Phantomhive's manor, bringing out the reds and browns hidden in the inky black. His ears still rung with the soft echo of the call bell that had just chimed, the bell indicating that the young master desired his presence in another part of the capacious mansion.
The butler pushed open the oakwood door to his master's office. "You called for me, Bocchan?"
The boy, pale and dreadfully slim for his age sat in an enormous winged chair behind a desk. Dark hair tumbled over his eye patch and around his face, framing austere features and a biting blue eye. He steepled his fingers, elbows propped up on the mahogany wood of his desktop. "I did."
The voice, although small-sounding and feminine, was cool and clipped with a debonair English accent. "It's time for my French lesson, is it not?"
Sebastian's lips folded up in a smile. "It is," he answered, curtsying and pulling up a chair. He ensconced himself in it and produced a weather-beaten textbook that looked as if it had seen better days.
"Since we just started, I think it best if we begin to build up your vocabulary," Sebastian began, leafing through the yellowed pages at an impossible speed. The boy, Ciel Phantomhive, smoothed out some paper with one hand and dipped his quill in a bottle of ink with the other.
"It is also good to know the French expressions adopted by the English," added the butler as he took the quill and paper. "Define the words that I write down, Bocchan, and tell me how they can be used." He flicked the feathered quill in neat, sinuous motions.
When he was finished Ciel calmly took the paper and began to write. Sebastian rose lithely and walked over to the window as the master worked, where the gray London sky cast the November land into shadow. It would most likely rain soon, he surmised, gazing at his reflection in the glassy sash windows. His image stared back at him, unmoving, for some time.
Sebastian turned at the sudden sound, curious. "Something the matter, Bocchan?"
Ciel frowned ever so slightly, quill faltering inches above the paper. "An interesting word," he murmured.
Ciel responded without looking up. "Poseur."
Sebastian returned to the desk, gazing upon his master with a nebulous expression clouding his claret eyes. "Ah, an interesting word indeed."
"And," Ciel spoke, "what not a better name for us two than this?"
Sebastian suppressed a smile that threatened to turn his face up in a clownish leer. "Whatever do you mean, Bocchan?" he inquired, tilting his head to the side so that his black fringes fell across his nose.
Ciel sighed resignedly and leaned back in his chair. "Are we not both poseurs ourselves, Sebastian?" he asked. "Both you and I, wearing masks to the ball?"
"I see," Sebastian responded, nodding smoothly. "So you are aware of it?"
"Of course," said Ciel as he rubbed the skin under his eye patch absently. "You are a poseur in that your farce is a tutelary butler, a votary of servitude as a man in the house of Phantomhive. You assume the form and habits of a human, although you clearly are not."
Sebastian's grin widened, eyes with slitted pupils narrowing shrewdly. "But you are guilty as well, my lord," he said.
"Your mien is just as mendacious, if I'm not mistaken," Sebastian continued. "You can fool the public into thinking that you are a mature adult; you can put on airs and act your age five-fold, but inside…"
"…you're nothing but a little boy."
Ciel scowled and averted his eye, silent for a few lingering moments.
"And whose duty is it to strip us poseurs of our insidious masks once the clock strikes midnight?" he asked quietly.
Sebastian thought for a minute, bringing a white-gloved hand up to stroke his chin in an oddly human gesture, and replied, "Why, each other's, of course."
Ciel met his servant's gaze, at a rare loss for words. But, he thought, things lost can never be regained. …Right? The child inside him had been burned to ash along with the rest of his family in the inferno. Had it not been completely cremated?
Around Sebastian, he felt very young, and very vulnerable. Perhaps the word Ciel had thought, but daren't say was safe. Evidently, this was just a weakness of Ciel's that he would have to efface eventually. There could be no room for emotions, which were merely toys for children that would soon be abandoned with time and age.
Sebastian watched his master think, lost in a troubled contemplation, and smiled sadly. This boy, barely in existence for little more than a decade, was removing his mask as well. True, he could never truly transmute into a human, but living by the side of his Faustian half had made him feel… things. He felt what they did: sadness, anger, satisfaction. In Hell there had been no such thing as feelings. That was something for the ephemeral ones, humans—for beings that were weak. It was why he respected the young master so much, because the boy usually did not let his own feelings interfere with his work. Sebastian blinked.
My heart doesn't beat, so why does it long for something ineffable?
He lifted his head. "What is it, Bocchan?"
"I'm removing this word from your list," Ciel declared. "I don't like it." The butler nodded.
"I don't care for it either," he replied pleasantly as Ciel scratched a thick black line through the parchment. They were both aware that even ink wouldn't erase the poseur, truly. He, a blackened anathema, Hell's bidder, and a broken little man-boy, bounded together by contract…they would doff each other's farces, in time.
The child made the demon human, and the demon made the human a child.
Ciel placed his quill back inside the little ink bottle. "We digress too much. Next time do not give me such discussion-provoking words."
"Yes, my lord."
II. Nail Polish
Order and controlled schedules were so strongly integrated into the customs of the Phantomhive estate that such frivolities deviating from that unyielding order were quickly expunged. And why was this? Phantomhive's master was a thirteen-year old Englishman of middle age, a no-nonsense figure, and his butler was organized to the point of being obsessive compulsive. Usually the deviation from their tight lifestyle came from the four other housekeepers of the manor, much to the young Phantomhive and Sebastian's dismay. It generally stemmed from boredom, which was a fatality in the hands of the incompetent quartet. And, today was no exception.
It had started with a day off for Bard, Finnian, Meirin, and Tanaka. Well, technically it was not so much a "day off" as Sebastian's issue of forbidding them from doing any sort of chore around the mansion. Marchioness Middleford was to visit the next day, the head butler reminded them in a tone ringing with ambiguity, and suggested that they refrain as much as possible from trying to clean up the place lest Ms. Middleford bobby-pin his fringes back once again.
So with nothing to occupy their time, the butlers lounged about the kitchen quarters watching Bard attempt to make a hero sandwich. It was out of sheer boredom that the topic had arisen, really. They had spent the morning chatting and talking about random things such as mice, Ciel, their jobs, and other matters better left unsaid. After a while conversation had drifted out into the habits of the Phantomhive's main residents, which was deep water for all of them. There was no way to see the bottom as the water was over their heads, which led to a good amount of wondering on their parts.
At one point, Finnian remarked on how Sebastian-san always wore white gloves inside the estate, and black gloves when in town. Bard suspiciously inquired how Finnian had come about this little piece of information.
"Hey, a gardener always notices peoples' hands," Finnian replied, shrugging.
"Come to think of it," Bard wondered, stroking the stubble on his pronounced chin, "Has there ever been a time when that guy doesn't wear gloves?"
Finnian's shoulders jostled up and down in another quick shrug and he turned to Meirin, who was blushing slightly. "I bet Sebastian-san has the hands of a pianist," she said dreamily, blue eyes wide behind rounded spectacles.
"Or maybe he just has girly hands," added Bard, smirking vaingloriously around his unlit cigarette. Meirin shot him a reproving look.
Tanaka's reply was a quiet "Ho, ho ho," as he took another sip from his ceramic tea mug.
The cook turned to his fellow housekeepers, pale eyes shining with a mischievous spark. "I got it!" he exclaimed, holding a clenched fist up in the air. He pushed his half-made sandwich away on the table and regarded the other three with a determined look.
Finnian blanched. "Uh-oh. Bard's got another idea."
"Don't you remember the last time you dragged us into one of your little schemes?" Meirin asked disapprovingly, remembering when they had tried to out-butler Sebastian the night that Italian man had come to visit. "Sebastian-san had to change the theme of the whole house because we ended up desecrating everything!"
Bard made a haughty little "tch" sound. "Come on, guys, haven't you always wondered about Sebastian? Meirin? Tanaka? Finny?" The others decided to give him a chance and stared silently, suggesting that he should continue, which was in part fueled by their own curiosity. Bard happily complied.
"I mean, he doesn't eat, for one thing," he began. "I haven't seen him sleep either, and, in all our time here we've never once seem him sick. He's got to have a weakness, or he's not human."
Finnian grinned despite himself. The notion was surprisingly intriguing, and he could feel Meirin and Tanaka at his sides slowly being won over as well. "So?" he asked the idea man. "What do you want to do?"
"Well for one thing, I want to see him with his gloves off."
"Somehow that didn't sound quite right, Bard."
The sunlight pouring in through the sash windows dusted Lau's hair as he strolled down the hall of the Phantomhive's manor, bringing out the reds and browns hidden in the inky black. When the four butlers suddenly hurried past him, he was tempted to disregard them at first as it was not in his nature to fraternize with the lower echelons of London's society (although that cute bespectacled maid tempted him on occasion). However, they donned such poorly masked expressions of utter deviousness that he simply had to stop and ask.
"Oya? Where are you going, housekeepers?"
They blanched, turning guiltily to the Chinese man as if caught committing some heinous act. "W-what makes you think we're going anywhere?" Finnian stammered as the others nodded frenetically at his side.
Lau gave a calculated sigh and smiled his trademark fox-grin, leaning in. "If you weren't up to something, you would have to be very good liar right now, which you obviously aren't," he said. "But don't worry, you can tell me."
Finnian's green-blue eyes began to shimmer with naïve zeal. "Really?"
"Can we trust you?" Bard truncated, squinting at the branch head. Lau's slanted eyes narrowed even more as his clownish leer grew, and he placed his index finger over his lips.
"It's our little secret, Phantomhive's chef."
After they had informed him of their plan to de-glove Sebastian, Lau's eyebrows, dark and pencil-thin, rose amusedly. He chuckled, once, twice.
"What an interesting idea, housekeepers!" he exclaimed in a voice of dark glee. "How do you plan on doing it?"
"You mean you don't know?" Lau sighed and wrapped an arm over Bard and Meirin's shoulders, who looked a little uncomfortable.
"We were getting to that part," she said, trying to ignore this coy person whose light touch was weighing down her shoulder.
"Well, I have an idea," Lau declared, shooting cursory glances to his left and right before going on. "The young Earl and the butler are always together, so he must have seen him without his gloves at least once. You should just ask him."
"Yeah, but as you said, Sebastian-san and Bocchan are always together. We'll never get him alone to ask," Meirin protested. Tanaka gave a worried "Ho" voicing his thoughts.
Lau deliberated for a moment. "Well, let's see if there isn't something I can do about that," he said, taking out a pipe from the sleeve of his silk robe and placing it in his smiling mouth.
"Distraction plan A, ready?" Bard hissed out of the corner of his mouth sometime later that afternoon.
Bard grinned a smile of such darkling nature that Lau himself would have been proud if said man had been around. It had been that man's idea in the first place, to create a diversion in order for the rest of them to catch the young master alone. They were getting way too into this, really, but somehow…it was fun.
The muffled sounds of footfalls could be heard upstairs, indicating the presence of a certain raven-haired butler.
"Alright," Bard nodded once. "Target in sight. Plan A, initiate!"
Sebastian glanced at his pocket watch, tourbillon rotating the sleek hands to show him the time. His eyes closed satisfactorily; everything was right on schedule. The young master had just finished his music lesson for the day, and that Chaconne was really starting to sound just the way Bach had written it. Now it was time to whip up some maple sprinkle-cake, and Sebastian was nearing the pantry in high spirits.
It was then that Murphy's Law reared its ugly head.
A normal human would have jumped out of their skin at the sudden cacophony of crashes that permeated the mansion's air. Either that or they would have yelled in surprise at the sudden tinkling of glass, clamorous bangs, and more than a few thuds. Sebastian did none of these, but his scarlet eyes opened slowly with a touch of apprehension. When the noise had ebbed he gave a sigh, heading toward the source of the disruption. Now his schedule was in a particularly precarious state.
"S-Sebastian-san!" Meirin cried from her splayed position on the floor as Sebastian stuck his head into the first room on the floor.
"What are you doing, Meirin?" he asked with a weary sigh. She blushed and struggled to sit up.
"Ah-um-ano, I tripped and knocked the display case over! I'm so sorry, Sebastian-san!" cried the housekeeper as Sebastian surveyed the mess. In truth she felt a little guilty; breaking the case had actually been quite enjoyable…and surprisingly easy to do.
"That's alright," Sebastian said with a wide smile, vein pulsing in his temple. "Stay calm, Meirin. I'll just clean this up now."
Meirin bowed humbly, uttering another quick apology before rushing off.
Bard nodded, the three other butlers behind him casting eager eyes upon the young heir. They were in the boy's office, where he was packing up his Guaneri, loosening the bow slowly.
Finnian leaned over. "So, what are they like, Bocchan?"
Ciel placed the bow down and rubbed the skin beneath his eye patch. "Am I really obligated to answer that question?" he asked flatly.
Bard had prepared for this—or rather, Lau had prepared Bard in the case that Ciel would refuse to talk. That man really was a genius.
"I know I'm just a mere housekeeper," Bard began innocently, remembering Lau's instructions, "but I do have access to the telephone, and I may decide to pay Miss Elizabeth a call and invite her over." Ciel blanched visibly at this.
"Imagine," the cook continued, "what cute things she'll bring with her to have you try on."
"Fine," Ciel sighed resignedly, ensconcing into his armchair with folded arms. "Just so you know, I'll talk with you four because I have nothing better to do. Blackmail doesn't work on me."
Sure it doesn't, Bard thought to himself with a mental snort.
Ciel steepled his fingers, peering over the teepee they formed with a lone blue eye. "Now, is this some strange fetish you all have, or are you just bored out of your minds?"
"Just bored, Bocchan," Meirin said quietly. "And a little curious."
"Hurry, before Sebastian-san returns!" Finnian hissed, throwing a glance at the door as if the main butler could appear at any time.
"Although," the young Phantomhive continued, more to himself than to the others, "this barely scratches the surface of 'weird' when compared to being with the undertaker…"
The others looked at him questioningly.
Ciel closed his eyes and opened them slowly, regarding his incompetent housekeepers. "Never mind. What would you like to know?"
"Well..." Bard began. "What are they like? Y'know…his hands?"
Ciel seemed to think for a moment. It was a rare instance that he was at a loss for words. Yet, it was also a rare instance that he was probed with such an inquiry.
"Ah… I suppose they are normal hands…" the boy trailed off. "Slender, pale…"
A thoughtful look appeared on Ciel's face and he added, "But I've always wondered why he even bothers with the nail polish when no one's going to see it anyway."
For a while following that afternoon, the four housekeepers gave Sebastian Michaelis an even wider berth than usual. The butler was not unduly perturbed, but couldn't seem to pinpoint what it was that he had done to earn such strange behavior.
For a while after that, Finnian reminded himself never to point out any observations regarding Sebastian again.
A/N: I know that being intelligent isn't the same thing as being able to write witty dialogue. I am horrible at it, but I really wanted to write the conversation in the first story between Sebastian and Ciel. I always found it so interesting, both in the anime and manga, the effects that Sebastian and Ciel have on one another. The second one was just for fun. And writing practice. Since this was my first story in this fandom, feedback would be lovely, thanks!