Age 18: The Responsible Adulthood Paradox
Ciel had always been one to take his job seriously, but since he turned eighteen he seemed to be taking it to extremes. When he was busy doing work, no one, not even Sebastian, was to bother him. When he finished with his work, he would retire to his personal rooms and read newspapers or financial journals. Once he was done with that, he would have a light snack of some kind of healthy food, no sweets. Then he would go back to work.
On the rare occasion that he did decide to engage with someone other than a business contact, Ciel would try to keep the meeting as brief as possible. Meetings with delivery-people, Lizzie, his servants... all were kept to a minimum. And the whole business was worrisome to Sebastian.
"Are you sure he won't eat anything sweet?" he asked Bard. The cook was busy preparing that afternoon's snack of cooked, buttered carrots. The cook shook his head.
"He said he didn't want to poison himself with unhealthy food," he replied. "It's strange- before he could eat an entire cake in one sitting! But now if I even walk by his office with a plate of something sweet he'll threaten to fire me!"
"I'm very worried," Sebastian confided. "He never was a normal child, but now he's well on the way to becoming a troubled adult. This sudden change in behavior- it wouldn't bode well in a normal person, much less in someone like the young master."
"I agree with you," Bard replied. "But I honestly don't know what to do. So I will continue to do as I am ordered."
"I'm sorry, Lady Elizabeth," Sebastian said, sighing. The young woman was arriving at the mansion nearly every day, desperate to see Ciel. "The young master does not wish to take any visitors today."
"Why not?" Elizabeth demanded. "He never wants to see me any more! Has he taken a lover? Is that why he won't see me?" Sebastian nearly snorted. Ciel? Take a lover? Hardly.
"No, he has not," the demon butler replied politely. "If you must know, he has locked himself up saying he needs to do paperwork. He won't even let the staff see him. So you are not alone in him not wanting to see you- why I've barely seen him at all for the past three days!" Lizzie seemed placated.
"If he won't even see you then something must be wrong!" she exclaimed. "Is he ill? I hope he is not ill!"
"The young master has not given any indication that he is unwell," Sebastian said. Although he couldn't pretend that the thought hadn't crossed his mind. Ciel's strange behavior was worrying, not only on a psychological level. Sebastian knew that when humans fell ill, they could sometimes manifest their symptoms strangely. "I will let him know you stopped by, alright?" Elizabeth nodded, trusting Sebastian. He would see to Ciel, she was sure of it.
Ciel sighed, shuffling paperwork around on his desk. He really didn't want to meet with that strange American businessman, but he knew that if the two companies agreed to work together it would be beneficial to Funtom. He would do whatever it took to further his business, even if he had to listen to Mr. Smith's near-nonstop discussion of something called "football." Ciel found it difficult to feign interest in something he had no idea as to what it was. But before that meeting, he still had a bit of time, so he decided to relax.
He stepped out from behind the desk and walked over to his large, overstuffed armchair. He picked up the copy of the London Examiner that was sitting there, and began to read. As he had suspected, nothing but bad news. A few minutes later, a knock on the door jolted the young adult out of his thoughts.
"Young master?" he heard Bard call. "I have your snack..." Quickly, Ciel crossed the room and opened the door. Bard proudly presented him with a large bowl of cooked carrots on a silver tray. "I boiled these just now... just like you requested, there's minimal salt."
"Thanks," Ciel said, taking the plate. "You may go now." The cook exited, and Ciel took the snack to his desk. Well. This was depressing.
The truth was, he didn't want to give up sweet things at all. But in Ciel's mind, the image of a responsible adult was one who abstained from potentially harmful things- sweets included. Besides, sweet things had a reputation for being food for women and children, not for men. Even so, he was sick to death of these boring snacks. He would kill for a piece of cake, a candy, even a piece of bread with some lemon curd on it! But he felt that he had no choice- if he was going to be a productive adult, he was going to have to put up with this...
The meeting went better than Ciel thought it would. Mr. Smith filled out the paperwork quickly, and with minimal discussion. Ciel was glad of that- he wanted to go back and finish reading the newspaper. When he finally went back to his rooms, he realized that he was not alone.
"Sebastian, what do you want?" the young adult asked.
"Young master." Sebastian purposely avoided answering Ciel's question. "Young master, I am worried about you. We all are. I understand you've been refusing to see Lady Elizabeth. Why is that?"
"Because I'm not ready to be married yet," Ciel replied simply. "I- if I see her again, I will feel compelled to marry her right away, and I don't want that. Besides, I want the company to be in a more stable position before I marry her."
"But the company is doing the best it has in four years!" Sebastian exclaimed, surprised.
"I don't care." Ciel was obstinate. "It's not stable enough. I can't take a wife now! What if she got pregnant? I am not ready to support a child! Sebastian- my child! I can't do that."
"So that's what this is about," the demon replied. "You're afraid of being a parent." Ciel hung his head, ashamed.
"It's so stupid," he finally said after a pause. "I've done everything I can to prepare for that- I'm working harder than I have in ages. I'm trying to get the company to a point that when... when I'm gone, if I have a child, it will be something worth inheriting. I want to be able to keep Lizzie happy."
"Well, that explains all the work," Sebastian said. "But why have you stopped eating your favorite foods?"
"I don't want to set a bad example," Ciel replied simply. At that, Sebastian simply howled with laughter.
"What's not healthy is denying yourself your favorite foods!" he chortled. "Yes, everything in moderation, you know. Too many sweets isn't good for your health. But neither is forcing yourself to eat things you dislike nonstop!"
"But that's what being responsible is!" Ciel shouted. "If I have to deny myself something for the best, then I'll do it!" Sebastian just shook his head.
"Young master. I know what this is about." He was about to say something else, but Ciel slammed a hand down on the desk.
"Of course you don't know what this is about!" he hollered. "You're a damned demon! You don't know anything! What makes you think you could even begin to understand my motivations? You've never had to think about things like this in your life!" Sebastian was taken aback, but not too surprised. He could sort of understand his young master's anger.
"I do know what you mean," he said calmly. "You don't want anyone else to go through what you did." Ciel stopped in his tracks. Sebastian could tell by the look on the young man's face that he had hit the nail on the head. "Young master, there is more to being a responsible adult then just working yourself to the point of exhaustion and denying yourself enjoyable things. You have to show that there is something more to your life. You have to care about those around you. I might not know what this is like personally, but I've been alive a lot longer than you have, and I've seen generations of people mature and struggle with the same things you are. Stop thinking about how to best keep the company running. Stop worrying about the future for one day. Try it, and see how it feels." Ciel nodded.
"You're probably right," he muttered.
"I don't lie," Sebastian said. "I know what I'm talking about. Why don't you go pay a visit to Lady Elizabeth tomorrow? No one is saying you have to make a decision right away. She's very worried about you, you know. Just let her know that you are still among the living."
"I will," Ciel promised. Sebastian looked contemplative for a moment, and then said,
"You might think that because you are now an adult the difficulties of adolescence are behind you. That is true. But you must understand that there will still be life challenges ahead of you- adulthood is a whole different landscape."
End- Ciel: The Teenage Years
This final chapter ended up being a lot more serious than the other ones, but I think it's fine that way. This chapter is somewhat based off of real events, and somewhat not. If I went into more detail here, this author's note would end up being the same size as the rest of the story, but suffice to say that I learned that the road to adulthood is difficult, and it doesn't get much better once you finally get there.
Anyway, I had a lot of fun writing this, and I hope you enjoyed reading it! I really enjoyed coming up with crazy scenarios for a teenaged Ciel to get involved with. I had fun writing the little blurbs about Sebastian's past
Thank you very much to everyone who read, and to eveeryone who reviewed! I hope to see you soon!