Levels of Understanding
By: Neko-chan

Summary: It's bath time for Ciel, and only Sebastian has the privilege of attending the young lord during this time. (slight Sebastian/Ciel)

Disclaimer: Don't own Kuroshitsuji, though I really wouldn't mind having a Sebastian of my own. -innocent look-

Author's Note: [Short ficlet.] I've been thinking about writing something like this since the first episode--the chibi ending certainly offers inspiration!--but couldn't really think of a reason for it until chapter twenty-seven of the manga and the suspicions solidified (and totally reminded me [somewhat, not completely for obvious reasons] of the Count Cain manga~). :x Anyway, the ficlet is indeed short and geared more towards being a 'mood' piece than anything else.

Dedication: This is written for one of my best friends, Lily. I hope that you like it! -chuuus-


Levels of Understanding

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It was a routine now, and it had been a routine for every single day for the past several years. It was a routine now, and Ciel could close his eyes and hold himself still, only moving when absolutely required--he knew the pattern, knew the steps that Sebastian would take. All the while, the demon would never say a word, knowing that Ciel always preferred silence to the chattering of his three talkative servants. (Tanaka-san didn't count in this since Ciel had been raised on his soft "Ho ho ho."s.)

Truly, though, the only sounds that broke the silence were the gentle splashings as the butler readied the bath, water brushing against and settling in the porcelain tub. As Ciel sighed, fingers curling in the underside of the stool that he sat upon, the next sound--the 'nick' of the bathroom's door locking, keeping out any unwarranted visitors as the boy bathed--and Ciel slowly began to relax.

There were threats outside, had always been threats in the outside world, but here he could relax as much as it was possible to do so, knowing that he and the demon that was bound to him understood each other perfectly.

The subtle tap-tap-tapping of Sebastian's shoes against the marble floors came then, and the boy tilted his face up towards the other for the first stage of his undressing. Always--routine--what he had been dressed in last was always the first to be removed. The routine never deviated and, with that thought, Ciel began to relax even further as he felt Sebastian's fingers carding lightly through his hair, working with ease and grace to unknot the ties that kept his eyepatch snug against his face.

Freedom, then, and Ciel could feel the eddies of air shift as the demon knelt before him, easing down on an knee to carefully remove one shoe, then the other, before working on the boy's stockings. It was always at this point that Ciel would finally open his eyes, looking down at the dark strands that shifted silkily with each and every one of Sebastian's movements. The butler's touch was brief and efficient, never wasting a movement that would lend itself to production. It was a familiar touch, just as the gaze was something that Ciel knew instinctively when the other finally lifted his head up to meet the young lord's eyes.

He tilted his chin upwards after returning Sebastian's stare for a moment or two, giving the butler room to undo the slim necktie that, without fail, always circled his neck. Seconds passed as Ciel watched Sebastian watching him, and the boy was eventually freed from the restricting piece. It was then, however, that the lord would always swallow: taking up the challenge of Sebastian's thumbs brushing on either side of his throat, putting up a challenge himself by purposefully moving into the touch. It was the unspoken threat: the demon could easily crush Ciel's windpipe and take his life, therefore claiming his 'master's' soul for himself--if Sebastian ever decided to break the contract. But the boy always challenged the threat and, in return, Sebastian always smiled slightly and let his hands fall to his sides.

It was at that point that the young lord would stand so that Sebastian could easily unbutton his overcoat before gently tugging it down Ciel's arms to set it aside; the next was done carefully: the demon would slip each and every button of Ciel's white shirt from their hole with care that was almost unnecessary in its intensity. Once the front was undone, the demon would ignore the shirt temporarily to unclasp the button on Ciel's pants' waistband.

Sebastian's fingers hooked in that same waistband, knuckles brushing over the slight arch of the boy's hips as he tugged both trousers and undergarments down until they lay in a puddle of cloth at Ciel's feet. The clothing's material was scratching against the tops of Ciel's feet--Sebastian always liked picking out wool for the trousers and overcoat's materials--but the boy ignored the irritation to keep his attention on the other.

Next--

Instead of tugging the boy to take a step forward, Sebastian ignored the pants--despite the fact that the longer he let the clothing lie in a heap, the harder it would be to press the wrinkles from the material--so that his full attention shifted to the shirt that still draped Ciel's slim form.

A gentle push with competent fingers, and even that soon enough fell away to leave Ciel nude before the demon.

The first time during bath time, the boy had wrapped his arms around his middle, shifting just enough so that Sebastian couldn't easily see the brand that marked the skin of his back: a brand that reminded Ciel of too many things that he wished that he could forget, the brand that--even now--filled him with horror and shame to the point that he had turned down Tanaka's request to be his valet instead of the house steward, probably in the hopes of offering up himself as an adult figure that Ciel could allow himself to count on.

But the boy had known that bath time would come and, with that, so would the questions.

Sebastian, however, never asked any questions--

The demon had existed for many, many years; he had watched empires rise and fall, entire peoples enslaved to do the bidding of others. Atrocities unnumbered, Sebastian had observed humanity engage in many evils. He did not ask about the brand that scarred Ciel's back. He did not have to.

For that, Ciel had always given the other his gratitude, though it remained unspoken.

"Come," the butler murmured softly as the boy stood naked before him, arms comfortably at his side. Ciel hadn't tried to wrap his arms around his middle for a very long time, though it had originally taken him months to understand that Sebastian wouldn't ask the questions that others would, and Ciel had instead learned to wait and watch, head tilted to the side as the boy continued to meet the demon's blood-tinted eyes. Sebastian smiled slightly and inclined his head, letting his gaze linger--perhaps--for just a moment. "Your bath is ready, my lord."


::Fin::