Hi everybody~! Glad to see the number of Kuroshitsuji fics steadily rising, because this manga is AWESOME! Not to mention the anime ;) I decided to write this fic in honour of Ciel's birthday on the 14th, though I didn't manage to post it on time -__-;;

Warnings: Uh, it's set after the Indian arc, so it refers to characters/events that have happened before then~

Disclaimer: If I owned it, I wouldn't be writing fanfictions about it; I'd be making the real thing XD Sadly, since I'm not, I obviously don't own it. So please don't sue me. :D

Author Ramblings: I'd just like to say a big THANK YOU to my wonderful wonderful beta Ryouta, who prevents me from making stupid typos and overall encourages me to keep writing~ Thank you~!! :D :D :D

Hope you enjoy the story~ (^o^)

oOoOoOoOoOo

Chapter 1

In the Morning: That Butler, Investigating

How do you know when your goals have changed?
What if they have changed without your knowing?
What do you do when you finally realise this?

oOoOoOoOoOo

Sebastian sighed and flipped the reins slightly, urging the horses to move faster. The carriage trundled down the road, bouncing every now and then as the wheels encountered a bump. The demon was only half paying attention to the real world; the rest of his thoughts were locked instead on the events of that morning.

In hindsight, he should have realised it had been a dream. It was too much to hope that those three idiots had actually done their jobs right for a change. Though scarce, a demon's dreams reflect their deepest desires: he hadn't realised until now just how fervently he had been wishing that Finnian could look after the garden without killing half of it; that Meilyn could wash the sheets without flooding the laundry and that once, just once, Bard could cook something without burning it to a crisp.

But it was not to be. In direct mockery of his dream, he had no sooner dispensed the day's tasks to the rest of the household when chaos erupted. I'm surprised the Young Master still has money left to replace the number of smashed tableware and destroyed kitchen appliances we end up with … That was the fifth oven we've had to replace in the past week!

His one moment of peace came from his daily visit to the garden where she waited: the most beautiful cat he had ever seen.

"If only there was some way to take you with me when I return to my world," he had murmured, scratching the cat's ears as she ate. "I would hate to leave such a beautiful creature behind in a place like this."

She paused in eating and mewed, rubbing the side of her face against his hand, whiskers tickling his skin. The demon smiled a genuine smile that humans very rarely ever got the chance to see. "Well, I expect I'll be around for a long time to come, so it doesn't matter now. I notice you've gotten bigger lately; I hope I'm not feeding you too much …"

"SEBAASTIAAAAAN~~~~~!!" a voice wailed, shattering the peace. With a regretful sigh, the butler gave the cat one last pat.

"I'll see you tomorrow." With that, he hurried back inside before the chaos could find his place of refuge. No sooner had he come in the door when Finnian had latched onto him, wailing. Sebastian still had no idea how the boy had managed to flood the entire lower garden in such a short amount of time.

There were times when he would have cheerfully dispatched them all to the world beyond for their incompetence. However, the only time he had mentioned this to the Young Master, Ciel had forbidden him to do it on the grounds that 'the blood would stain the carpet'.

Sebastian was still trying to figure out if his master had been serious.

Another sigh escaped him as he glanced behind him, as though he could see the interior of the carriage where his master sat, brooding. Since their argument that morning, the atmosphere was tense and awkward; Ciel had barely said a word since announcing their immediate departure for London, sinking into an ever-darkening mood. As for the butler, he was still trying to figure out a way to get around the order he had been given, silently angry that the order had ever been given in the first place. Surely he didn't mean it? His mouth turned down in a frown.

He was still in an irritable mood as he knocked on the door to Ciel's study. "Young Master? May I come in?"

When no reply came, he pushed the door open cautiously. He could just see the top of Ciel's ash-coloured hair peeking over the top of a stack of papers. Sebastian crept closer, until he could look down on his master from the other side of the desk. "Young Master?"

"What?" Ciel snapped, not looking up.

Obviously, the demon was not the only one in a bad mood. "It is time for your morning tea, but if you would prefer me to come back later …?"

The furious scratching of the pen stopped as Ciel finally looked up. "No, it's fine."

Red eyes studied Ciel's face as the butler poured a cup of tea. The boy looked tired, but the glint in his uncovered eye and the set of his shoulders told Sebastian that his master was extremely annoyed and attempting to contain it. "I did not think you were this studious, Young Master," he said with a sly grin, indicating the papers around them.

Ciel 'hmph'ed, taking a sip of tea. "Problems with production have been occurring lately at an annoyingly frequent rate. Work has been piling up."

"Problems?" Sebastian repeated questioningly as Ciel shoved a stack of papers aside to make room for the cream dessert. The boy sighed.

"The most recent case is that some incompetent fool has managed to mislay a significant amount of stock. He's too stupid to have stolen it, so how on earth does anyone manage to lose something like that?" The question ended in a growl as Ciel's frustration broke out of his hold momentarily. His blue eye closed and he rubbed his temples. "I've managed to sort out most of it, but there are twenty other cases like it. If anything else happens today I'm going to snap."

"That is not all, is it?" A gloved hand tilted the boy's chin up as red eyes studied him. "You look tired."

"I haven't been sleeping well lately, that's all." Sebastian didn't say anything, but Ciel could tell he was waiting for more information. "… I've been having nightmares."

"Ah." A pause. "Would you care to tell me about them?"

"It's fine." His blue eye blazed as the demon opened his mouth to speak again; Sebastian found his hand slapped away. "I don't need your pity!"

Sebastian blinked, before leaning back and regaining his composure. "Of course, Young Master. Forgive me."

There was silence, broken only by the ticking of the clock in the corner of the room.

"You wouldn't ever leave me, would you, Sebastian?" Ciel's voice was quiet, almost … vulnerable. Surprise flared in crimson eyes, but it appeared Ciel already regretted his words. "…Never mind."

A faint smile curved Sebastian's lips as he bowed. "As I have said, I will follow you wherever you go; stay by your side even to the depths of hell if that's what it takes. Never fear."

Ciel nodded, watching as the tall form straightened. "If that is all, I had best go and make sure that nothing is in imminent danger of destruction …" He bowed to Ciel again and turned to go, before stopping. "Ah, how careless of me. This was delivered not long ago."

The teenager's mouth twisted down at the sight of the letter bearing the royal seal. "At a time like this …" He took the letter from Sebastian and broke the seal. "I don't need more work," the boy muttered, his brows lowering as his good eye ran over the contents.

Something brushed against Sebastian's leg; startled, he glanced down to see the black cat winding around his feet, purring. "How did you manage to get in?" the butler murmured, bending down to pick the cat up. It purred again, settling comfortably in his arms as he stroked the dark fur. She's gotten heavier too, not just fatter, he thought absently, eyes half-closed.

"– carriage ready – Are you listening to me? Sebastian!" the young earl asked angrily, breaking into the demon's thoughts.

"Sorry, I was –"

"How did that thing get in here, anyway? You know I'm –" Ciel sneezed, "– allergic to them."

"I haven't a clue. Perhaps she followed me." Sebastian took a step back; not wanting to release the cat but keeping it away from his master.

"Hmph." Ciel cursed quietly as his hand knocked against a teetering pile of documents while reaching for the plate of food. It started to tip sideways, sliding towards the ground like an avalanche. Ciel lunged for it, grabbing onto the stack just before it could slide off the desk completely.

With both other creatures in the room occupied, the cat saw her chance to get at the pavlova she had been eyeing. In the blink of an eye, she had jumped from Sebastian's arms onto the desk, intending to grab a bite and run. Her plan probably would have worked, had she not landed on a stack of precariously piled documents. The paper started to slide beneath her paws, startling the cat into releasing her claws to steady herself. When that didn't work, she leapt for safety on another pile of paper, her momentum sending the previous pile flying.

"Argh!" Ciel tried to grab the cat before it could do anything else. "Sebastian, the papers!"

Sebastian managed to save one pile, though other stacks were flying everywhere as the cat tried to avoid Ciel. China smashed; shredded pieces of paper fluttered like snow around the room. With a cry, the cat dodged under Ciel's hand and ran up the demon's arm as he steadied the rest of the documents, latching onto his shoulder and back, peering over Sebastian's shoulder at Ciel with innocent green eyes.

The butler surveyed the damage. Papers lay scattered across the desk and floor, torn and tea stained by the liquid running across the desk from the broken cup. The big chair Ciel liked to sit in had overturned when he first dived at the cat; it lay forlornly on its side behind its owner who stood in the middle of the mess, fists clenched.

"Young Master …?" Sebastian asked cautiously. "Are you alright?"

"… Get. Rid. Of. It," was the growled reply.

"But –"

"But nothing! That cat has just managed to destroy every single piece of work I did today. Get rid of it! Permanently! Now!"

The cat cowered behind Sebastian, long fur tickling his neck. "Very well, I'll take it back outside –"

"I don't want to ever see it again," Ciel growled through clenched teeth. "Not in the house, not in the gardens, nowhere!"

"Surely you are over-reacting, Young Master –"

"Sebastian. I am allergic to cats, but I overlooked the presence of this one since it never bothered me. But now it has found a way in, it will probably keep coming back into the house."

"And the reason is …?"

"Because you look after it, and besides, it's probably easier for it to look after its kittens inside in the coming winter." Ciel looked around at the mess, at a complete loss as to where to begin salvaging.

"…Kittens?"

Ciel turned back to see Sebastian frowning in confusion. He doesn't realise? "Sebastian, your friend there is pregnant – that's why it's so fat." He groaned inwardly as a pleased light lit the demon's eyes. "I don't want more of them around!"

Sebastian frowned at his master. "Whatever she did, how could you throw an expectant mother out of her home? The Young Master should have better manners than that."

"It's a cat, for God's sake! I can and I will if I want to!" Ciel watched his butler's frown deepen and pushed his eye patch aside. "This is an order! GET RID OF THE DAMN CAT!"

"But –"

"Are you trying to break our contract? That was an order!" The contact mark glowed brilliantly against the purplish eye, the same rage and demand for instant obedience flickering across Ciel's blue eye. Master and servant faced each other defiantly, mixed-colour gazed meeting flat red.

At last the demon bowed, mouth set in disapproval. "Forgive me. I had no such intentions. I shall carry out your order and return to clean up this mess."

"There's no need. I'll see what I can fix; you, on the other hand ..." Ciel examined his desk before picking up an envelope that had somehow survived the chaos. "We're going to London. Make the necessary arrangements."

"Very well." Sebastian bowed and left, leaving Ciel standing amongst the wreckage of what had been an entire day's work.

Sebastian shook his head, the rhythmic clip-clop of hooves bringing him back to reality. It's pointless to think he'll change his mind; he's too stubborn to ever take back an order. Luckily he didn't order it immediately done … There's time to find a loophole. Normally he would have done as ordered and no further, but he refused to lose his one point of sanity in the madhouse of the Phantomhive manor.

Red eyes studied the sky above. At least it isn't raining yet. Hopefully we can rest quietly at the townhouse. Overworking is probably the main reason for the Young Master's mood. Sebastian frowned, thinking. I'm intrigued about these nightmares, though. They may just be related to the death of his aunt, or they may be something else entirely.

The day couldn't possible get worse, in any case.

oOoOoOoOoOo

He had forgotten the presence of those two.

It was almost dinnertime by the time they finally arrived at the Phantomhive's London townhouse. Ciel still had yet to say anything to the demon, following him wordlessly to the door and merely 'hn'ed in response when Sebastian said "You'll be able to rest quietly; I'll have dinner ready soon."

Wondering how long his master was going to remain in his bad mood, Sebastian opened the door for Ciel, taking both hat and coat as the boy strode into the room, only to stop abruptly.

"Sebastian …" Ciel said slowly. "Why are all the lights on? No-one is supposed to –"

"CIEL~~~~!!"

Sebastian watched in bemusement as a tall form jumped down the stairs and latched onto Ciel in a hug, almost toppling the boy over. So much for peace and quiet …

Another head popped over the stair railing, peering down at them. "Master Ciel! You're here!" Agni's beaming face showed his brainless enthusiasm as he waved down at them all. Ah … that makes the other one Prince Sohma.

"Sohma! Get off me!" Ciel ordered, trying to shove the Indian teen away. "Why are you even here?!"

Prince Sohma, 26th in line for the Bengalian throne, finally stopped suffocating Ciel and let go, hands on hips. "Why are we here? You gave us the important task of looking after your townhouse here in London! Don't tell me you forgot?"

By the grimace of Ciel's face, Sebastian could tell the boy had forgotten. "That's right, I did, didn't I?" he muttered, rubbing his temple with one hand and a 'what on earth possessed me to do that?' expression on his face. "You seem to be doing a good job." Sebastian supposed his master was right. There was a reassuring lack of broken objects about.

"Agni! Make dinner! I'll show Ciel around the house!" Sohma declared, barely waiting for Angi's "Understood!" before grabbing Ciel's arm and dragging him off, the ash-haired boy grumbling.

"I don't need to be shown around my own house!"

As the noise faded into the distance, Agni came down the stairs. "Welcome back, Mr Sebastian! I was looking forward to seeing you and Master Ciel again; Prince Sohma certainly was."

"Yes, I guessed as much," Sebastian replied, eyeing the direction his master had been taken.

"If you'd like, I'll take care of the dinner preparations. You seem tired," Agni offered, face concerned. Sebastian was thrown off guard for a moment. Him? Tired? It was perhaps also the first time he'd had concern directed towards him.

It took him a moment to recover. "I'm fine. I don't mind helping with dinner, but I should bring in the luggage we brought with us first."

"What about Master Ciel?"

Sebastian again glanced up the stairs. The only person who could aggravate the Young Master more in this mood than Prince Sohma would be Lady Elizabeth. I could go and bail him out … but I don't want to. He smiled at his fellow butler. "I'm sure Prince Sohma will enjoy talking to the Young Master after such a long time."

Agni nodded. "Master Ciel also seems tired. Is everything alright?"

"Slightly overworked is all. No doubt the Young Master came here for a change of pace."

The Indian man seemed to buy this and asked no more questions, instead heading off to the kitchens and leaving Sebastian standing in the entrance hall. He looked around and sighed before heading outside. The rain that had been threatening to fall before began to drizzle, dampening his coat and making his hair stick to his face. Why are we in London? he wondered, red eyes staring at the carriage without seeing it. Normally I at least have some idea, especially if we're here on a request from the Queen. Does the Young Master not trust me? It was hard to tell to what extent the boy actually did trust him: on one hand, Sebastian was a demon with no sense of loyalty; on the other, he was bound to the boy by their contract.

Do I really seem visibly tired? He thought, tipping his head back to let the rain fall on his face. He didn't particularly like rain, just like a cat, but he had the foolish notion that perhaps it would wash away his fatigue and resentment. A thought worthy of a foolish human. Red eyes opened, gleaming slightly.

"Huh. It appears the rain is getting heavier."

oOoOoOoOoOo

He refrained from questioning Ciel while the boy ate and bathed. When Ciel finally retired to his room, he flopped onto the bed, staring at the ceiling.

"…Next time I give them a job to do, make sure that it is far, far away from me," Sebastian heard him mumble as the butler entered the room. The demon smiled.

"Is that an order?"

"Yes. No." Ciel sighed and propped his head up to look at his butler standing by the door. "Never mind."

"Is your headache still troubling you? I can get some warm milk fo –"

"I'm fine. I think perhaps that I shall have an early night, though." Ciel slid off the bed and held out his arms. Sebastian obeyed the silent instruction, unbuttoning the evening shirt Ciel wore with deft fingers. His master remained quiet until the demon began to button up his nightshirt. "Is there something you wanted to ask me?"

Sebastian paused, looking up to meet Ciel's visible eye. "Why do you think that?"

"You've been preoccupied all evening. Stop dodging the question," Ciel demanded.

The butler finished with the buttons and helped Ciel out of his trousers. "What precisely is going on? If it requires my assistance, surely I would be of more use with that knowledge?"

Small fingers curled around Sebastian's chin, tilting it so that he met the ash-haired boy's gaze once again. Cold blue pierced emotionless red as Ciel stared down at him. "Do you think you have a right to know? A pawn goes where it is moved." A small, cruel smile twisted the edge of his mouth.

Sebastian raised an eyebrow and smiled a smile that Ciel had once described as 'false'. He reached behind Ciel's head to untie the boy's eye patch as he spoke. "Ah, but a dog usually has some idea of what it hunts." The eye patch came off; the contract in Ciel's lavender eye bright in the surrounding gloom. His mark upon the boy. As much as Sebastian was Ciel's property, Ciel was marked as his. The demon's smile grew wider. "Is that not so, Young Master?"

The Phantomhive boy was the first to break eye contact. There was … something ... disturbing about that red gaze, an unsettling scarlet gleam that always reminded Ciel that what he dealt with was not human. Sometimes he thought Sebastian realised this and took pleasure in it - a twisted game between master and servant trying to unsettle one another.

Instead of answering, Ciel turned away, fringe covering his right eye as he left Sebastian kneeling on the ground. The butler was surprised when the boy turned back and threw something at him. Sebastian caught it by reflex with a gloved hand and looked at it in confusion. It was a copy of the day's newspaper which Sebastian had not read due to the delivery boy's lateness. Ciel had presumably read it on the way to London.

"Read it."

Raising an eyebrow at his master – would it be so much trouble just to tell me yourself? – Sebastian unfolded the newspaper and glanced at the headline. "Another spate of murders?"

Ciel nodded. "Different to the Jack the Ripper cases, though."

"Different?" There was something in the way the Young Master had said that. Red eyes quickly scanned the page, taking in the information. "This is …"

"So far, the victim found dead in London's streets. Unharmed except for the fact the body had been completely drained of blood." Ciel forced down a shudder. "It's not another one of those, is it?"

Images of an annoying red-haired Death God flashed through Sebastian's mind and he grimaced. "I doubt it. It's not really their style."

"I suppose we'll have to go and see that guy tomorrow …" A sigh escaped Ciel's mouth as he crawled into bed. "Get me a book to read."

"Weren't you going to go to bed early tonight? You've been looking tired lately, even Agni noticed. Unless, of course, you're sick …?" Sebastian mused, holding a hand to Ciel's forehead. Ciel flinched and pushed his hand away roughly. "Young Master?"

"It reminds me – never mind. I just … don't feel like going to sleep." A scowl crossed the delicate features and he crossed his arms.

"Ah. The nightmares?" Ciel looked away as Sebastian smiled. Fingers touched the eyelid hiding the boy's right eye. "If you so wish, Young Master, when nightmares walk in your dreams I can help."

"You are a nightmare," Ciel muttered. "I don't need your help for such things."

"Very well." Sebastian straightened. "Good night, Young Master."

The butler was almost at the door with the candelabra when a voice commanded "Wait!"

Sebastian turned around; Ciel could have sworn he saw the red eyes gleam. "Would you prefer me to stay?"

What am I doing? Ciel thought angrily. Why did I call him back? I did not lie; he is one of my nightmares – that he will turn on me or leave and never come back. I don't trust him. I can't trust him, no matter what contract we have between us. "No!"

"Very well. But, Young Master, sulking is a trait unbecoming of the head of the Phantomhive family." Shadows danced as the edge of the demon's mouth curled upwards.

"I'm not sulking!" Ciel snapped.

"As you say," Sebastian replied smoothly, bowing. "May you sleep well, Young Master." He slipped out the door quietly, the gentle click of the latch drowning out Ciel's wordless snarl.

oOoOoOoOoOo

It was mid-morning by the time they found themselves outside their intended destination. Ciel had managed to dissuade Sohma from following them ("Sorry. Phantomhive business only") before they headed off to the latest crime scene to see what information Scotland Yard had on the murders ("I think the newspapers told us more") much to Lord Randall's dismay.

The atmosphere between master and servant was still strained, although both spoke the way they normally did. Sebastian supposed he shouldn't have needled the young Earl so much the previous night; but then, it was a form of stress relief for him as well. No guilt weighed on the demon's conscience, if anyone even believed he had a conscience.

Ciel was annoyed at Sebastian, yes, but what occupied his thoughts the most was the nightmare that had awakened him last night. Trapped. Helpless. Lost. His right eye twinged with pain and he put a hand to the eye patch. The movement attracted Sebastian's attention, but the demon made no comment.

"Let's get this over as fast as possible," the Earl sighed eventually, signalling Sebastian to open the door. It creaked open eerily – of course, why wouldn't it? – to reveal a darkened room filled with coffins. Ciel strode straight into the room and looked around for the person who worked there.

"I thought I might be seeing you sooner or later," a voice called from the back. "Welcome, Earl."

As both newcomer's eyes adjusted to the gloom (Ciel had reason yet again to wonder whether Sebastian could see perfectly anyway), the individual known simply by the title of his job, 'Undertaker', became visible. The politest way that Ciel could think of to describe him was 'unique', although eccentric, strange and creepy also worked perfectly, when said undertaker dressed all in black and was currently building a pyramid out of skulls.

Setting down the polished skull he held, the Undertaker glided towards Ciel, invading the younger boy's personal space. Ciel resisted the urge to step back as the Undertaker leaned forward, grinning. "I suppose you came here to ask me about my guests?"

Ciel's eyebrow twitched; he really didn't like people getting that close. "Yes. What can you tell me about –" A long nailed hand was held up to silence him, a sly smile crossing the silver-haired man's face.

"Now, now, Earl, it's not that easy. You know the price~" The Undertaker drew back, chuckling quietly, fingers steepled together. "Give me the chance for a first rate laugh."

Ciel 'tch'ed and glanced at the black-haired form beside him. "You do it, Sebastian."

The demon blinked back at him for a moment. "Very well," he replied, straightening his gloves and sighing inwardly. I would really prefer not to do this …

"Ah, making your butler do everything again?" You really are but a helpless child, aren't you, Earl? Well~ Here's my other condition: you have to make me laugh, not your tall friend." His smile grew. "Can you do it?"

Ciel's hand tightened n his walking stick. What does he think he's playing at? I am not just a helpless child! His scowl deepened, the blue darkening to a midnight sky as he caught sight of the slight smile on Sebastian's face. It was gone in a flash, the poker face back in place even as Ciel's eyes met the red gaze, but it released a flood of irritation that threatened to sweep him away.

"So, how about it, Earl? Can you make me laugh?" If his eyes had been visible, a mischievous glint would have been visible in them. As it was, the teasing tone only served to further aggravate Ciel.

"I haven't got time for your childish games today!" the boy snapped, slamming his hands down on the counter and making a skull roll off the pile. "I want to finish this case as soon as possible, so just tell me the information I want to know! As for your other claim, I am hardly a helpless child. If I wish Sebastian to deal with it, it is because he is my property and will do as I order!" Ciel's voice had reached a shout by the time he finished and his face flushed bright red with exertion. I'll be damned if I play his game!

The Undertaker regarded him in silence for a moment. Even Sebastian looked taken aback by the uncharacteristic tirade; Ciel was slighting ashamed that he had lost his composure like that.

Abruptly, a giggle met his ears. As the boy turned back in astonishment, the giggle grew into a raucous laugh, the force of it making the Undertaker's shoulders quake. Both Ciel and Sebastian looked at him with the same expression – has he gone insane? – as the laughter died down and the Undertaker used his long sleeves to dry tears of mirth.

"Ah, that felt good .." he mumbled to himself. "The Earl is cute when he gets extremely mad. You may ask me what you wish to know."

Sebastian hid another smile as Ciel edged away slightly, a muscle in his cheek twitching. He didn't … just say … what I think he said … did he? Ciel grimaced. His butler took pity on him and spoke. "We've come about the recent murders in London, to see if there's anything else you can tell us about the victims."

"Ah, yes." The Undertaker bent down and retrieved the skull that Ciel had knocked over. "It was easier to make these guests pretty than the last time."

He means the victims of Jack the Ripper, Ciel realised. "Why is that?"

"Why, because they were still whole, of course." The Undertaker held the skull up to eye level as though he were conversing with it. "No external injuries, no outward sign of any kind of struggle … in fact, there's almost nothing wrong with the bodies at all, except –"

"– except they no longer have a drop of blood in them," Ciel finished.

"No signs of a struggle means that the killer was fast, fast enough to strike before his victims even noticed him …" Sebastian mused. "Also, that the cause of death was the loss of blood rather than a wound or direct kill. Which contradicts itself; because surely the victim would have noticed the killer in the time it took for their blood to drain completely."

"But how could they loose all of that blood with no wounds?" Ciel asked, brow furrowed. "That is what concerns me … You said before that there was 'almost nothing' wrong with the bodies – what did you mean?"

"That is a very good question." The skull was set back down upon the top of the pyramid of bones as the Undertaker moved up behind Ciel. "I noticed that all of my guests shared another thing in common. Puncture marks right here." Two long black fingernails dimpled the flesh on Ciel's neck, making him shiver slightly.

"Puncture marks? Like a needle?" Sebastian asked.

The Undertaker spread his arms. "Who can say?"

As they left, Ciel glanced back at the counter to where the bone pyramid still stood. It seemed as though the skull at the top was grinning at him. He shivered again and turned away.

"Puncture marks …" Ciel murmured as they headed back to the townhouse. "Do you think it could just be an animal?"

Sebastian appeared to think this over. "The fact that nearly all the victims were found with their belongings intact would support that theory, but no animal is precise enough to drain a body of blood with such minimal damage."

"So it is a murderer then … one with no interest in their victims' belongings. Furthermore, the attacks seem entirely random … they don't seem to have any connections whatsoever!" Ciel glanced at his butler. "See if you can find any patterns in the deaths."

"Understood."

They walked on in silence for a while. Then –

"Is it even possible to completely drain a body of blood?"

An amused smile stretched the demon's mouth. "I have never tried, so I would not know." Ciel looked at him sharply as Sebastian continued. "However, it must be at least possible for it to happen to seven people so far."

"If it's not a Reaper, could it be another demon?" Ciel asked, not looking at Sebastian. "Tell the truth."

"Unlike humans, I do not lie, you know this, Young Master," was the reply. "As to your question … I cannot rule it out, but I doubt it. Demons are more interested in a human's soul rather than mundane things like blood." Ciel's hand strayed to the eye patch that covered the mark binding them together. He had placed his soul in pawn for Sebastian's power; he would deal with the consequences. When they came.

Their conversation was interrupted by their arrival at the townhouse. Ciel managed to dodge Sohma's greetings, announcing he was tired and that he would retire to his room until lunch, giving strict orders that he was not to be disturbed before then.

Sebastian followed him upstairs as Sohma sighed dejectedly. "Agni~!" the butler heard the Indian cry. "Let's watch TV, then!" Shaking his head, he opened the bedroom door for Ciel.

"I must say, Young Master, that was quite a rare display of anger earlier," he said as the boy strode past him into the room. Sebastian thought he saw his master's shoulders stiffen.

"He was getting on my nerves."

"My, my, your nerves seem rather fragile of late. Are you sure –?"

"Shut up." The snapped order seemed to echo in the silence that followed. Amusement was hidden behind a smooth face as blood red eyes watched the boy turn back towards the bed … and froze.

"Young Master? What's wrong?" Sebastian asked, concerned.

"Sebastian … Neither of those two mentioned any mail deliveries, did they?" Ciel's voice was odd.

"No, it's the wrong time of day for deliveries," the butler replied automatically, crossing the room to his master's side. He saw what had caught his master's attention: an envelope sat in the middle of the bed, ornate lettering addressing the contents to the 'Earl of Phantomhive'. Sebastian frowned, eyes raking the room for any other signs of disturbance. However, the windows remained locked shut; everything was where it had been left.

Frowning, Ciel plucked up the envelope and opened it, noting the plain wax seal. The note inside was brief, the writing less fancy. The blue eye scanned it quickly, before holding it out for Sebastian to examine.

'Earl Phantomhive,

It has come to my attention that you seek information on the recent
London murders. If Fate would be so willing, I believe I have additional
information for you.

You will find me in the building located at 32 Doncaster Lane,
at precisely 2pm tomorrow. Come alone. I shall await your arrival.'

There was no signature at the bottom of the note. "Well?" demanded the boy expectantly as Sebastian looked up.

"It's possible that this person is perhaps an eyewitness, and does have information for us," the demon answered thoughtfully. "Fear that the killer would find out about them may have lead them to sneak in and leave an anonymous note …"

"But?" prompted Ciel, hearing the hesitation. "It is rather suspicious. Why do they not go to Scotland Yard? How do they know that I am investigating? It is most likely a trap." He took the letter back from Sebastian. "Still, I feel as though I should go, on the off chance they really can offer any information."

"It would be troublesome if they refused to show themselves because you came with company," the butler mused.

"Oh, it should be fine if it's only you. Even they would be suspicious if I really did come by myself, being a noble. You can wait nearby while I approach them. Understood?"

"Yes, my Lord." Sebastian bowed.

"Still, waiting uselessly until this meeting seems pointless. We'll continue to investigate until then. Are there any possible suspects?"

"Only if you intend to count every possible person in London who can hold a needle or has access to drugs that incapacitate a person," the butler replied, a trace of irony in his voice. "Even for me, that is a great deal of work." Ciel sighed and rubbed his temples.

"Let's focus on those with medical knowledge for the moment. But firstly, I need a cup of tea."

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END CHAPTER 1

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