Monochrome Nights

[AU, Sebastian x Ciel] For fun, Detective Sebastian Michaels flirts with the wrong side of the law...and for some reason, the charming Earl Ciel Phantomhive finds himself flirting right back.

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A/N: I was so happy to see a Kuroshitsuji Section on FFnet. I wrote this right after the Jack the Ripper arc ended, and I haven't had the excuse to post it. It would have just gotten lost under the MISC section. But anyway...Kuroshitsuji is such an amazing work that it's great to see the section growing! Here's my little contribution. Hope you all like!!


I Chapter

The Meeting

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Sebastian Michaels was the toast of Parisian aristocracy. Although no one could quite discern where he came from, or how his common job gave him so much money, in fact, the society that practically worshiped him on bended knees knew preciously little about him—if anything at all. He kept to himself, mostly in a secluded barony far from the rest of the wealthy and civilized. In fact, he lived on the more dilapidated side of town—to put it politely, and this felt like a slap in the face to just some of his admirers.

But regardless, where he resided never did put a damper on Sebastian's awe-inspiring charm. He rarely made any appearances in public, except when his job as a capable private investigator drew him into the limelight. Sebastian Michaels was also the toast of Paris for his sharp wits...and even more unorthodox methods, the most ambiguous cases came to him, even Sherlock Holmes came to consult with him once...and ever since, those belonging to Scotland Yard hadn't been able to hold their heads up so high.

Still, no one questioned his methods, there were whispers of this and that...but no one ever said anything, because Sebastian Michaels kept the wardens busy, and their prisons were never for want of convicts. Sebastian was obviously adequate enough in his own eccentric ways, and no one was any wiser to question him.

Though when it came to his social dealings, criticism swept around all of Paris like a mad, ravaging storm. For one thing, it wouldn't kill Sebastian Michaels to come out once in a while and pay a round of proper calls. It certainly would not have hurt him any to actually take proper callers once in a while. And of course, it didn't suit the ladies any that Sebastian was one of the most eligible bachelors in the whole of Paris...who just happened to be devilishly handsome. Countless women drowned in his dark fathomless eyes and none wanted to be rescued.

The fact that he was getting to be twenty-five without a woman on his arm worried a lot of people.

And Sebastian Michaels was helplessly odd. His estate wasn't particularly large, but money was never a problem for him, and for the most part, he lived alone. No one knew for sure how many people shared the Michaels Manor, but the popular consensus concluded as of late that he employed one maid, and one butler. As legend deemed, he also kept a white wolf that ate human limbs from the morgue.

No one knew why, exactly. Everyone just knew that the detective Michaels was helplessly odd and lost to them.

But every year on Midsummer's Night, it was tradition for Sebastian Michaels to throw open his doors to the entire city and throw a Grand Masquerade...it was something like his apology for shunning his roots, and the apology was always wildly welcomed.

And the biggest mystery of them all, was how exactly that the ever resourceful Detective Michaels could have ever manage to fit all of the Parisian elite in his humble abode.

--

To put it briefly...and bluntly—Earl Ciel Phantomhive hated Paris and the city's professed love for fuss and feathers. Although, quite on the contrary, his Aunt Angelina—or Madame Red, as she liked to be called, was right at home in France. She had dragged him along because she always had, although technically, since his sixteenth birthday had already passed, he was no longer his ward. He could return to his own estate, and never give Madame Red the time of the day.

But still...perhaps because some part of Madame Red embodied the mother that he had never had the fortune to know well, he paid her enough mind to make this pilgrimage with her, and her sometimes Chinese lover, Lau. You could never tell, really, they were always bickering about something or another, and Ciel didn't think they knew that they sounded like an old married couple.

Admittedly, Lau was more bearable on this trip, maybe because he'd never been to France, and the legends that he had collected about French women from all over had him drifting on cloud nine—even before they left. Madame Red, as suspected, was not too happy about that.

And then...there was the problem of Lizzy, better known to the rest of the world as Lady Elizabeth Middleford-Phantomhive...well, technically, the second part of her last name wasn't quite official yet, but a wedding date had been tentatively set for next spring, his aunt had even consulted a fortune teller about it, and concluded that April was the couple's lucky month.

Ciel, to tell the truth, liked Lizzy, he considered her an important friend, and he had heard many stories from Madame Red how she had refused to leave his side the night his parents died in the fire. Of course, Ciel was much too young to remember...or perhaps he had no wish to remember something so horrible.

But he could only stand Lizzy for a set amount of time all at once, after that, she drove him crazy. And spending two months with her in Paris at the request of her mother was certainly not high on his list of priorities at the moment, much to everyone's disappointment but Ciel's.

In the end, he wished he had stayed home, safe in his little sanctuary of sanity. As that was longer a possibility, however, Ciel was stuck in the Parisian whirlwind of fuss and feathers, and after a fortnight of attending party after party, he was wiped, while his companions, Lau, Madame Red, and Lizzy looked as ready as ever to take on the world.

Ciel couldn't help but groan when he realized that Lizzy was waving a cream colored envelope in front of him. "Lizzy, tell Madame I'm not going. I'm dead on my feet, and surely the three of you can somehow manage to get on without my presence for one evening."

Her lips turned into a pink pout. "But Ci-el, I won't have a respectable dance partner that way. And besides, we announced our engagement already, and it'd be scandalous if I arrive sans partner. Even Auntie has Lau, you know."

...Respectable dance partner...if she only knew. Lizzy had yet to realize how clumsy her fiancé really was on his feet, but she was always too busy like a frittering butterfly to notice. A small blessing on his part.

Ciel looked away, "I wonder about that. He's been wandering as of late, and his returning hours are always suspicious. But I don't think Madame cares--" He shook his head, "Anyway, that's not the point, the point is, that it's not going to be scandalous if you said that I was unable to attend due to illness."

Lizzy planted her hands on her hips, "But that'd be lying."

"All for a good cause." He fiddled with the large sapphire ring on his thumb. The jewel bore a large crack in the middle, and Lizzy always voiced her complaints about how unsightly it was. He bore the complaints in silence, because it was the only trinket that had survived in the fire...and he couldn't bring himself to repair it, or throw it away. To him, it was dishonor to the Phantomhive name to alter the family's most sacred heirloom.

"Ciel--"

"I'm not going."

She looked at him helplessly, "Please? It's one of the most celebrated parties of the year! No one misses Sebastian Michael's Grand Masquerade!"

Sebastian Michaels. Now, Ciel looked up with mild interest.

Ciel Phantomhive had keen ears in all parts of Europe, he had to, else, there would have been no other way to recover after the tragedy. Having the right information at the right time, however, was a great advantage, and now the Phantom Company flourished largely because Ciel knew things he wasn't supposed to know. Sebastian Michaels, he knew by hearsay, was a genius detective with eccentric tastes.

But he also had ears everywhere, and Ciel was eager to take some of the ears for himself. If only for that... "The Grand Masquerade is tonight?"

"Well, of course." She said dismissively, "If it was something trivial I wouldn't have asked..." Then her voice grew softer, "I know you don't really want to be here..."

Now Ciel just felt guilty. But this Sebastian Michaels character certainly had captured his attention, since even the great Sherlock Holmes, Scotland Yard's pride and joy, had paid him tribute.

Putting on a resigned air, Ciel got up and brushed imaginary dust from his trousers, "Fine, fine, I'll go. But you have to promise me that we'll leave early." Before she could whine some more, Ciel added in a voice that left no argument, "I've got a splitting headache."

--

The retainer of the Michaels Manor had one name that wasn't quite a name. Like his master, no one had the slightest idea where the Undertaker came from, or why Sebastian chose to call him such. They were quite a pair, the both of them, and a popular legend around town that it was the Undertaker that personally prepared stolen limbs in the basement. A less popular rumor—but still a rumor nonetheless, stated that he also practiced demon summoning in the basement.

Whatever the truths might have been, it was reached without argument that Sebastian Michael's basement was a fearsome place.

The Undertaker was proud of the gossip that he had inspired around town, and most of the time, wore a pleasantly twisted grin to show for it. He hummed tunelessly to himself as he gingerly examined a thin black mask, deemed the choice unsatisfactory, and bent to pick up another. This one with a dark blue velvet, with sequins.

"I like this one." said The Undertaker.

"Then take it." A bored voice, as velvety as the mask he held in his hands, provided the answer for him, "That, and whatever else you want. I don't care."

The Undertaker allowed himself a small smirk, "Why so generous?" He drew out the last word, lavishing the syllables like some delectable truffle, "It's not like you."

"I'm bored. That's all. The preparations are compete for this evening, I suppose?"

"Of course they are." The Undertaker shrugged one shoulder, "How could you expect anything less of me, Master?"

The shadow hidden in the corner wore a noticeable wince.

The Undertaker just smiled, "But you're bored...I understand that, humans are such fickle things, aren't they?"

This time, Sebastian returned his smile was one of his own, it had a noticeable edge to it, like a cat waiting to pounce. "I suppose so."

--

"Young Master, are you about ready to go?" Finian—affectionately, or more irritably—Finny poked his head in the door and promptly did a double take. "...Y-y-young Master?"

Ciel whirled from the mirror and shot him a death glare. "If you value your life, you don't want to ask any questions." But granted, while dressed in a frilly—thing didn't help him look threatening at all. Lizzy had insisted on him wearing it, since "it was in fashion" and "everyone else dressed like this." Also, that he was going to cause her embarrassment because she couldn't keep her fiancé up with the latest fashions.

Finny raised an eyebrow, "...All right then, if you say so, I'll bring the carriage around."

Ciel sighed as the door closed, and he could have sworn he heard Finny's sunny laughter down the hall. He gave the silk hat on his head a savage tug to straighten it, if he was going to be in for a long miserable evening, he might as well look halfway presentable for it.

--

As Finny slowed the carriage to a halt in front of a modest, but still imposing looking mansion, Ciel wished that he could disappear. He was adorned in a pink mask that matched Lizzy's pink one (except hers had feathers) and that saved him some minute embarrassment, but still...

"Ciel, come on, we're already late! Auntie and Lau are already here!" Lizzy tugged excitedly at his arm, "And you look very fashionable, so you don't have a thing to worry about. Besides, all of the top nobles in all of Paris are going to be present, it'd be good for the company too..."

Ciel just shook his head, "Lizzy, I think I've made it very clear that I don't want to be here. There's a reason why I don't do much business in Paris...let's just go." He took her hand and hopped off the coach. He gave Finny a dismissive wave.

"Come back for us at ten."

Lizzy clutched his arm as the two of them started up the winded path to the mansion, where they were greeted by a ghoul-like man with a wide twisted smile, like he couldn't get certain parts of his mouth to function properly. He wore a dark mask, and leered at them.

"You must be the Earl Phantomhive." he stated simply as he opened the door wider.

Ciel narrowed his eyes, "...You know who I am?"

"Why, but of course...my Master makes it a habit to know everyone." The man chuckled oddly, "It's a rather annoying habit if I do say so myself."

Ciel looked at him, he was sure he couldn't look too imposing under a pink mask, but still, he tried. "I can imagine. Come, Lizzy." And swept past the man, with Lizzy in tow.

--

Splendidly handsome as always, Sebastian Michaels still managed to move throughout the crowds, as invisible as a shadow. He wore a plain black mask that covered the right side of his face, and it was simply amazing how even with only one eye and half a vague smile, he could still make women swoon the way they did.

This year's Grand Masquerade, he admitted privately to himself, was outwardly a great success, but the people who had scurried to attend this year were beyond dull. There was simply no one that caught his interests...although the blessed multitudes of young single baronesses and duchesses tried.

He weaved his way fluidly through the waltzing crowd, and Sebastian found his eyes inexplicably glued to a young couple meandering about to the music. The boy was clumsy on his feet, and the pink mask he was wearing was not one he wore well.

After the waltz's final note faded away, the crowd dispersed, and Sebastian heard the girl say to the young noble in a breathless soprano, "I think I have to go refresh myself, Ciel? You'll excuse me?"

"I'd have to, wouldn't I?" Was the answer that the girl received for her pains. But she didn't seem too worried as she rustled her skirts and hurried away.

Sebastian leaned quietly against the wall. London's miracle boy and his fiancée. Even if the young earl tried hard to make himself socially scarce...

"I'll have you know." A voice cut into his thoughts, "I hate it when people laugh at me."

It was the voice from before, Ciel Phantomhive. He had ripped off his mask, and he looked mildly annoyed. Sebastian just looked at him.

"I wasn't laughing." Sebastian said.

"Yes, you were."

Sebastian took a small sip from the glass he was holding, it held a clear liquid, but it wasn't water, since it was distinctly bitter on his tongue. "And so what if I was?"

"I told you. I hate it." Then Ciel added, "Detective Sebastian Michaels. Did you honestly think I wouldn't know who you were?" His lips spread into a thin smirk, "Holmes gave me an earful about you."

"Quite the contrary, but I must say, I"m disappointed. I hold Detective Holmes in the highest esteem."

Ciel rolled his eyes, "That's certainly not what he told me."

"Ah?" Sebastian looked to his glass for answers it did not hold, "Well...it was raining on the day of our meeting. Perhaps the foul weather dampened his mood?"

"Your sense of humor is beyond me, Detective." Ciel gave him a hard stare, "If you excuse me, I see Lizzy looking for me."

Sebastian watched him go, walking away with a haughty stroll that he was too young to possess. Perhaps all humans were not so desperately fickle. Although the Undertaker would have certainly disagreed just for the sake of disagreeing.