Disclaimer: I, obviously, don't own Kuroshitsuji.
Warnings: horribly AU, mild violence, mild Sebastian-torture
Don't hate me, please. I just got this idea about a case of cosmic
injustice befalling a demon…
Sebastian's 'real' name is not canon, but I thought it fit. The premise is not canon. Also (on the off-chance someone's actually reading my author's note), Sebastian thinks of Ciel as 'it' the whole time. The pronouns are confusing, I admit, but it made sense to me.
There was more smoke than air in the atmosphere and surely every single one of the scurvy dogs down there was dead. He took in the smell of burnt flesh, burnt hatred and ambition, and felt a moment of regret that eating a soul was such a quick process. Seven years he had observed Ciel Phantomhive's every whim and after all that the process took, poetically, seven seconds.
"Sonneillon," a deep cool voice spoke, chilling him to the depths of his true body.
He straightened, towering over the remnants of the manor. Roof-tiles crumbled under his heels and shards of them fell down into the inferno.
Halfway to the closest chimney, near the highest point of the building, stood a slight man in a fashionable suit, walking cane in hand and one deep teal eye staring from under a strategically positioned hat.
In the first moment he thought his senses, skewed from years spent in human world, catering to their perceptions of reality, were lying to him; then he noticed the missing eye-patch string and the smile.
Ciel Phantomhive never smiled.
"And here I was almost beginning to regret your death," he said.
"Regret?" the thing in the guise of Ciel asked in a voice dripping with irony, raising the single visible eyebrow and smirking more widely.
"Almost," he emphasised. "What are you?"
He moved closer to the thing, sniffing its aura. There was no perceptible emotion, no sting of benevolence or bloodthirst, nothing but an eerie… neutrality. Of course… of course. It made sense than one of them would be sent to tidy up this carnage – so many dead, so many willful sinful souls in one place.
His shadow fell onto the tiny figure, and it looked up at him craning its neck, undisturbed by the hideousness.
"What a trivial question, Sonneillon," Ciel's voice said, in the familiar monotone. "I go by Ciel, by the way. I could never be accused of excessive imaginativeness."
The framework succumbed to the flames in that moment and the roof fell down. He remained suspended in the air with a lazy flap of his wings and was about to express a marginal amount of schadenfreude for the stray creature that had disturbed him, when it relocated ten yards further to the other side of a chimney, so fast that he had barely registered it.
He felt the chill again, and this time it didn't go away. As he drifted through midair, a suspicion began forming in his mind, took shape and turned out to be the only plausible possibility within a split second: right there, in front of him, on the background of a red moon shrouded in a cloud of smoke was some aspect of Ciel Phantomhive that refused to leave the plane of existence even after his soul had been consumed.
"What are you doing here?" he asked, letting himself shrink into a winged version of the elegant, velvet-and-steel form he had become accustomed to. It was incomparably easier to communicate in: sharp pointed teeth could be difficult to enunciate around.
"You've been standing above 'my' corpse for ten minutes," the thing replied dryly. "I've completed instruction and training, got licensed, got my scythe licensed and came to save you from having to mourn 'me'." With a hand pressed to its breast, it blinked at him, as if it was – now that he had assumed a deceptively less intimidating form – daring him to deny the accusation.
"A wasted effort," he replied, tiring of the conversation.
He wished it were a puppet sent by someone from the higher tiers of the underworld to whatever ends, but the aura was distinct and he could not fool himself into thinking this was not the genuine article. He would not call the thing Ciel, of course, for that had been reserved for a human being he had deemed worthy of an insignificant amount of his time, but he would also not underestimate it.
"Are you not capable of grief?" it inquired with seemingly honest curiosity, single blue eye shining. A moment later it was by his side, balancing on the tip of its shoe on the cane, like a circus performer. "How do demons feel, anyhow? Anything like humans?"
"How do Shinigami feel?" he counter-questioned, and only then realised that his face had contorted into the polite expression of the perfect butler. Something was wrong – he had gone far longer than seven years conforming to a role, and never had it affected his instincts. He was a tempter, first and foremost, and then a killer-
"Hmm…" the thing muttered contemplatively. "I feel a lot, but there are emotions I think are impossible to me. Compassion, for instance."
"You could not feel compassion since I have met you," he remarked, presuming that this was a reflection of Ciel Phantomhive. There was nothing edible about him anymore, and his near indestructibility and pathological neutrality in the natural order made him utterly uninteresting even as a moving target.
Spilling blood was not amusing when the victim just put itself back together. No pain, no fear – no fun.
The thing scoffed. "Don't mistake me for the fragile human child you groomed for its death, Sonneillon. I am much harder to break. This body is entirely new… untainted." Another wide smirk showed off a row of straight, perfect pearly teeth. "In fact, I'm thinking of letting someone touch it, for a change."
Aware of the barely-there distance between them, he inclined his head – for any other reaction would have made him seem disquieted. "You have someone in mind?"
"Hmm…" The Ciel lookalike didn't move a tall and said nothing more for seconds that fell between them like blows of Mjöllnir.
"You died," he said.
The Shinigami stared down into the flames, unimpressed. "The body of Ciel Phantomhive is quite clearly unsalvageable and you have devoured his soul."
"Then what are you?" He was unaccustomed to frustration; his primary reaction was to destroy whatever stood in his way, but this thing was too unexpected to be disposed of recklessly. It might have been a messenger of some kind, from one end of the hierarchy or the other – a bad thing to harm.
"God's hound dog," it said. "Must have seen what a good job 'I' has done for 'Her Majesty'."
"Arrogant," he hissed.
"With good reason," the thing replied, deftly catching a soul that tried to slink by unnoticed into one gloved hand, and spearing it with the tip of its cane. As a result it lost its footing, but landed on the head of a statue decorating the face of the manor, where it stood straight again, unaffected.
He was certain it had been showing of.
"Whatever gives you the certainty that you can accomplish anything without me?" he asked.
"Hmmm." The Shinigami turned and gave him a real, mirthful smile. "Whatever gives you the idea I would need to?"
The walking cane spun in its hand and the silvered tip nudged the top-hat higher, revealing the sight of the second eye, not blue like it should have been, but violet, with a seal in it.
Hissing, the same symbol appeared burnt into his hand.
"-the rules, Sonneillon?" it filled in, laughing at the hundred times revisited argument. "Whose rules? Isn't God the ultimate player of this game? We're all chess pieces, and I – a precious pawn – have reached the eight rank and been promoted. I wonder, what will become of me?"
A mighty wave of his wings spun him over in the air. Tips of razor-sharp feathers cut the top-hat to pieces, and he gripped the thing's jaw in his hand. Nails grew into claws and burrowed into the soft skin, until thin trails of blood trickled down the pale throat.
The seal still shone from the emotionless face, mocking him.
"An immortal body is created without any imperfections," he said.
For all the power and cunning at their disposal, demons were beings of tradition. If there was a creature that would find and utilise a loophole in the general rules, in the way that things have always been, it would be a human… and of all the humans, none was so purposelessly effective as Ciel Phantomhive.
"Who decides what counts as imperfection?"
He gripped harder, crushing the slender neck. "I will not serve you! My contract was with Ciel Phantomhive, and by your own admission you are not him!"
The cane swished and a nick in time later his fingers had been broken. They regenerated immediately, but by the time his captive had escaped, ascending up onto a part of the wood-frame that was being consumed by fire. Walking carelessly between the flames, the Shinigami snatched out another soul, stabbed it with the tip of its cane, and somehow re-obtained its, obliterated, top-hat.
He tried to revert to his true shape – messenger or not, he would scrunch up this little undead bug-
It didn't work.
"Do take it up with God," Ciel – because it was Ciel, in the aspect that mattered most – suggested, smirking. "That would be interesting."
With a roar of rage, he vaulted forwards. Like a giant crow he swooped from the night sky, avoided several well-aimed attacks with the cane – which Ciel moved from hand to hand and wielded in turns as a staff and as a cord – and landed a blow.
The body ascribed a high arch and fell onto the ground on the other side of the burning building. He followed, creating nigh-decorative swirls of black Troy-scented smoke.
Ciel straightened from his crouch and jumped up, meeting him half-way. They clashed; his claws sank deep in between Ciel's ribs, but there was something other than organs inside, a sentience on its own, that had the tissue rise and trap his fingers in the cage; Ciel, without changing its expression, pulled out a pistol.
"You said your scythe was licensed," he whispered as Ciel pulled the trigger, and a piece of lead ripped through the tendons connecting his wing to his body. They fell; Ciel gripped his wrist in both its hands and jerked away, then extracted its cane and, at the same moment as they hit the ground and cracked the marble tiles, thrust it into his stomach.
Thin strips of film appeared leaking out of him, unrestrained by gravity. His monstrous face, leaning down to dead human Ciel's insensate lips to suck out the soul before it made an attempt to escape, thinking – how much the little mortal had overestimated himself this time… no, that's not right… he never intended to survive-
Then the cane was gone, and so were the memories.
"It is," Ciel said. Mismatched eyes measured the prone demon while his wing repaired itself. "I just got this little plaything on the side," it added, lifting the gun before it hid it away underneath its tailcoat.
He sat up, pushing hair out of his face – what a ridiculous gesture! – and stared up, stunned, reflecting. It was still impossible. He was the fourth heir, one of the most widely feared demons. Something like this could not happen.
Except that it did, and he knew how to act, he – the devil of a butler.
"I had Sebastien Michaelis explain it to me," Ciel said, crouching down so they could speak face to face. "In reality, there is no such thing as merits or a reward for a job well done. The truth is simple and yet so convoluted: I am because somebody wanted me to be.
"And let's be truthful for just this one instance, my butler: are you certain that somebody was not you?"