Disclaimer: Maybe for Christmas…?
Author's Note: I've been meaning to write something that features (a few of) my equally-loved, but less-frequently-written-about OTPs. 3
Warnings: Yuri, het, and yaoi! With implications of Maylene sleeping around with everyone. XD; I should also probably add that this follows the MANGA. Oh, and at this time, lunch was called 'dinner.' So no, that wasn't a typo. :3
Dedication: For 12gatsunohime. Happy birthday and merry Christmas! :D
Every morning at half-past six, Maylene woke to a sharp rap-tap-taping on her door. "Get up," Mr. Sebastian would call—blandly, it's true, but she liked to think with just the slightest hint of affection there—as he made his way to the boys' quarters to rouse them.
And up she'd get.
Every morning at a quarter-to-seven, Maylene stood in front of her full-length mirror, adjusting her beloved spectacles and smiling cheerily at her reflection. It was going to be another wonderful day, she'd muse, and she'd smooth down her petticoats with a feeling of contentment. How she loved her skirts, her glasses, her new life…
Every morning at seven-oh-two, Maylene stepped out of her bedroom, humming a little tune. Cheeks rosy with excitement for the oncoming day, she'd straighten the gun holsters strapped around her garters and double-check that extra ammunition lay in her pockets. Today will be the day, she'd think as she did this, taking comfort in the familiar coolness of her weapons. Today I will get my chores done. Today, I will do them right.
And she chose to ignore the fact that, though she had this thought every morning— every morning for the past three years— she had yet to actually accomplish this goal.
Because really, when one got right down to it, it wasn't her fault. Well, not most of the time. True, the blame for putting too much soap in with the laundry sort of fell on her (but she'd been using an incorrect eye prescription, in her defense!), and the many times she'd tried to shine the banisters with shoe polish had also been, more or less, her own mistakes (though the two containers looked nearly identical; certainly she wasn't the only one to have made such a blunder!), most of the other interruptions experienced by the staff of the Phantomhive household were out of her control. After all, what power did the maid have over her master getting kidnapped? Of intruders breaking in, and needing to be stopped? Of statues smashing into the china cabinets, or explosions destroying the laundry?
She could only do her best, like any other human being. (Sans Mr. Sebastian, of course. How was he always so perfect?)
But that was neither here nor there. Because today, the past wouldn't matter. Today, she was going to polish her own record (and the banisters, but with the correct product, this time). Today, she was going to impress Mr. Sebastian; today would end with him smiling, not scolding.
Yes. This mental declaration was accompanied by a swift, emphatic nod. Tiny hands clenched— the universal sign to be Ready For Action. Day start.
"To the supply closet!" Maylene bubbled to herself, grinning wildly as she bustled off to complete the first of her chores. Let's see, she'd need a broom, and the dust pan, and perhaps she should grab a rag while she was in th—
With reflexes that only a woman who'd been subjected to years of militaristic training could ever hope to possesses, Maylene spun swiftly around— just in time to be virtually swallowed by a pair of half-bare breasts. Within milliseconds, leather gloves had wrapped around her wrists; her cotton dress was crumpled and flattened against a wall of ruffled pleats created from finer, stiffer material. The scent of new fabric, cold powder, and rosé myrtle filled her flared nostrils, even as a chill jumped down her bent spine.
"M-M-Miss Nina!" the poor maid garbled— flinching when the warmth of her breath made Nina giggle, moan, cuddle all the closer. The smaller girl was practically bookended by heaving cleavage; it left her feeling rather claustrophobic. With as much graciousness as she could manage in such a state, Maylene made her first attempt to peel away, yelping when she felt a thin hand smack her rear end. "Wh-what are you…?"
"Oh, Maylene, how I've missed you…" the seamstress cooed, cheeks flushing bright magenta as the squirming girl's curves rubbed up and down her own. "I just had the most horrifying fitting across the street. Wouldn't you know, the duke's maids are all as flat as boards? No hips, no chest… it's harder to work with them than it is to work with chiffon!"
Nina sighed delicately, ignoring a flurry of mumbled protests, and gave Maylene's right breast a tender squeeze. "Well, after such a traumatic experience," Miss Hopkins continued blithely, "I thought to myself— I thought: 'it's been such a long time since I've seen my beloved Maylene! I do wonder how she's doing? And oh, didn't my lovely little Earl of Phantomhive request that I redesign her uniform?'"
"Whaaa…?" Attention officially garnered, the molested maid blinked wide, glass-covered eyes at the intrud—er, guest, confusion joining the embarrassment that had added crimson highlights to her face. "But… the young master never mentioned to me that—"
"Something sexier, I should think," Nina prattled, oblivious to the other's protests. All the same, she ceased in her groping—for which Maylene was unspeakably grateful— and pulled back an inch or two, looking the shorter girl up, down, and up again. "Boys love sexy maids, yes? He's certainly at that age… Let's give him one more hardship in his life."
The seamstress grinned like a jackal, snickering at some private joke. Maylene had no idea what said joke might have been, but realized that if she thought about it too hard, she'd figure it out. And she had no desire for that to happen.
Luckily, being with Miss Hopkins rarely gave Maylene a chance to think. Case in point:
"Now then, let's go—!" Nina was singing. With a smile and a giggle, she had laced her fingers through Maylene's own, dragging her through the manor as if it were her own house. And Maylene, still warbling in weak protest, allowed herself to be yanked around like a rag doll, thoughts of chores having been temporarily wiped clean from her mind.
It was nearly noon by the time Maylene was rescued.
Five hours of dressing, undressing, poking, prodding, tweaking, tapping… Nina had come up with yet another excuse to measure Maylene's bosom (as if it might have swelled in the span of ten minutes), and was just about to order the maid to take off her bloomers (again) when Mr. Sebastian forced open the library door, the faintest of frowns upon his otherwise expressionless face.
The resulting stare-down was like something out of one of the young master's western dramas.
"Miss Hopkins," the butler then deadpanned, as if finding seamstresses measuring half-naked maids within the confines of locked rooms was a tired daily activity. "We did not call for a tailor."
Nina, ever belligerent, offered the butler a folsom smile; her numbered tape tightened like a lasso around Maylene's middle. "I thought I'd save you the trouble of summoning me, and just drop by," she explained through gritted teeth. "Since I was in the neighborhood."
"Indeed," Mr. Sebastian hummed, unimpressed. His long, spidery fingers tapped out (what sounded to be?) The 1812 Overture on the decorative brass doorknob. "Well, if it's all the same to you, I would greatly appreciate it if you would get out of the neighborhood. You are wasting my master's time and resources, loitering about like a moronic burglar."
The seamstress snarled (the tape contracting another few inches), but knew better than to push her luck. Because really, she had been quite lucky—five uninterrupted hours of (questionable) fun was nothing to sneeze at. But of course, it was always sad to say goodbye… With one last perusal of Maylene's underwear clad form, Nina began to pack away her tools and sketches, grumbling under her breath about 'Mr. Stiff.' Mr. Sebastian, for his part, looked vaguely bored.
"Put your clothes back on, Maylene," he ordered flatly, even as he turned to leave. "Then return to work."
And that was the ignition switch her brain was waiting for, apparently. At the sound of her name, Maylene gave a start; instinctively, her cheeks turned scarlet. "Y—yes, of course!" she cried, hurriedly gathering her discarded clothing and trying to keep calm. But keeping calm was becoming increasingly difficult, especially as the realization of what had just happened hit her full in the face. She was practically naked! Worse still, in the shock of seeing the butler, she'd forgotten how scantily clad she was! She'd just stood there, practically flaunting her cleavage… Oh, how horrible! How obscene! And yet…
As she synched her apron's bow, the maid dipped her head to hide her grin. And yet, he hadn't gawked, had he? Nor had he mocked her, nor reprimanded her for this instance of (dare she say it?) whorishness. Instead—like the perfect gentleman he was!—he'd turned away to give her privacy. He was protecting her modesty! And he had spun around so quickly; perhaps he had liked what he'd seen, and didn't wish to further her discomfiture by allowing her to see his blush?
Oh, Mr. Sebastian… Maylene silently trilled—and she was so distracted by her own sparkly fantasies, she hardly noticed that when Nina kissed her adieu, she kissed enthusiastically back.
But while Maylene herself didn't realize how exuberant she'd been in her farewells (though, looking back, it must have been pretty passionate for Nina to have left stumbling along like a happy drunk), other people did. 'Other people' in the form of her fellow servants, who blockaded Maylene's re-established path to the supply closet like two pouty men-on-a-mission.
Literally blockaded. Try as she might (and try she did—the result being a rather ridiculous looking faux-square dance), they wouldn't let her pass.
After a wasted minute of noiseless shuffling, the maid blinked in bafflement at the put-out chef and dismayed gardener. Didn't they have their own work to do? Why were they loitering in the middle of the hall? "…what's the matter?" she finally asked, head tilting in bewilderment as Finny's glistening eyes filled with crystalline tears.
In that instant, the dam broke.
"We won't let her have you!" the smaller man cried—in all sense of the word—as he lunged forward, arms outstretched as if to embrace Maylene. But while 'hug' may have been his intention, she knew enough about his super-human abilities to realize that wouldn't be the result. The girl felt her blood run cold—she'd never survive such a zealous embrace!—, but was saved last-second by the cook's war-honed reflexes.
With a gasp of surprise, Maylene found herself lifted, bridal-style, into the taller man's arms. Another hiccup of sound; she slid down the expanse of his forearms, falling into the nook created by his elbows and chest. Instinctively, her fingers knotted in the coarse cloth of his white uniform; her cheek fell to rest against the familiar contours of his broad shoulder. Unlike Nina's, Bard's skin was always as warm as an oven—scented like smoke and bread and nicotine. And Finny, when he (far more calmly) turned to loop careful arms around them both, brought with him the smell of evergreens and summer rain.
"Wh—what on earth is going on? What has gotten into you two?" Maylene squeaked, sandwiched between her blonde coworkers and feeling for all the world like she was back in her underwear. Perhaps because she knew what was coming…
"We won't let her have you," Finny repeated with a frown, vibrant blue eyes wide and full of childish jealousy. His hold tightened the smallest fraction. "We love you too much to share!"
"Like the kid says," Bard smirked, composed despite his obvious irritation. "We don't take too kindly to other people—even women—waltzing in and trying to stake a claim on our girl. So we thought it might be time to remind you of what you already have. That way, you won't think of straying any further…"
His voice trailed off significantly; the gardener's grin widened. And in spite of her best attempts at poise, Maylene could feel her face flame like one of Bard's explosions, and her heart flutter like one of Finny's bird. "B… but I have chores…" she objected in a whimper, knowing it was futile even before both men pressed kisses to her cheeks.
"Its dinner-time break," Bard reminded, following the skipping Finny down the hall towards the servants' quarters. "Chores can wait."
And wait the chores did. Very patiently, too—the banisters silently grew dirtier, and the window ledges dustier, and the floor grimier, as noon became one, and one became two, and two became three. If the butler wondered where his underlings were when teatime came around, he didn't ask, nor did he go searching for them… rather, it was Maylene herself (at quarter-past three) who realized the time and bolted out of bed, wrestling her uniform back on.
It was just as well: Bard had a supper to plan (and subsequently get rejected by Mr. Sebastian), and Finny had rosebushes to weed and water (and hopefully not destroy, lest he wish to face Mr. Sebastian's wrath). As for Maylene, she found herself back at the metaphorical beginning: rushing down the halls in an attempt to reach the supply closet.
Well, admittedly, the morning hadn't started with her rushing; she was noticeably more desperate now than she had been at seven. Still, her anxiety was understandable: her job, her credibility, her goal was at stake! But no— calm down—panicking would get her nowhere. She had time. So long as she actually got to start soon…
Surely, the maid thought as she ran, already out-of-breath from the afternoon's 'excursions,' surely no one will interrupt me now! Who would? Who could? After all,Lady Elizabeth and Paula were visiting France, Double Charles had dropped off their most recent letter yesterday… Madam Red was dead for God's sakes! Unless the forces of nature were suddenly opposed to her washing the railings—!
…but it seemed the gods of cleaning had decided to answer her prayers.
With a gasp and a sigh of thanks, Maylene collapsed in upon herself—hands on her knees, head lolling—right outside the closet door. Half-flabbergasted to have made it this far, half-grateful to finally be allowed to commence in performing her portion of the day's work, she collected herself with an air of resolve. No more distractions! No more disruptions! Surely, surely, surely nothing could stop her n—!
The maid's extending hand screeched to a stop, hovering a scant centimeter above the doorknob. What the—? She blinked, thrumming heart shuddering to an unexpected halt. Wasn't that the young master's voice? (A silly question; certainly it was, she'd know his voice anywhere, but—no, that wasn't the point!) Why wasn't he in his study? What was he doing in the servants' wing? What business did he have amongst the buckets and brooms and other paraphernalia? And most importantly, why did he sound like Finny did when she…
"Fuck, Sebastian—what the hell do you think you're doing?"
Outside the wooden barrier, the girl's pale flesh gained a glowing pink tinge. Such language! How unseemly! She'd never before heard the young master use—wait. Her brain stopped, rewound, caught and held a name. Did he just say…?
From deep within the confines of the darkened closet, she heard Mr. Sebastian's velvet chuckle resonate.
"My little lord has been looking especially grumpy today," the butler informed in a silken drawl— in a voice that made Maylene's knees quiver and her mind explode with Bad, Bad Thoughts. "So I thought that now might be an excellent time to work on those 'I messages' that I spoke of during lessons…"
There was a rustle and a bump from within; she tried very, very hard not to linger on how the rustling sounded like pants being discarded, and how the bump echoed like knees meeting the floor. At first it was somewhat challenging, but it soon became easier to keep from focusing too deeply; there were new noises, lots of noises, making it difficult to concentrate on any one sound. A thud, perhaps the back of a head hitting the wall; scrape, wooden heals slipping outward; shhh, gloves sliding off of long fingers— and then Ciel was growling, the feminine timber of his voice vanishing within the throws of irritation. "Don't demean me with your stupid chatter about 'feelings' and other such driv— ah!"
A slurp. Maylene's mind short-circuited, filling with white static.
"Now now," Mr. Sebastian purred, the words only-just-audible over the master's muffled moan, "don't act like a spoiled child. I would so hate to see you repeat a year of Health class. At least try it once. I'll even assist you. Here, tell me— how does this—"
A heady groan, voice catching on pleasure, need, and the tail-end of a name. Slap— an open hand smacking against plaster, presumably seeking support. A rip-rip-riiiiiping filled the air as lace snagged, caught, raked against the roughly spackled inner walls of the closet.
"—make you feel?"
Well. Maylene wasn't sure how Mr. Sebastian's ministrations (whatever they were; her mind's eye was Officially Broken) made the young master feel, but she certainly knew what they did to her: they filled her with uncharted fear. (Okay, that was a lie: the tingle beneath her skin was from far more than fear—the blood dribbling from her nose was a testament to that—but she'd rather not go down that path right now.) What would the young master do if he found her there, eavesdropping outside of the supply closet? Worse still, what would the Mr. Sebastian do?! Oh dear, oh dear—she didn't want to find out!
Horrified, mortified, and still entirely without cleaning supplies, Maylene scampered off in the direction of the Main Hall, deciding it safest to wait out the master's escapades (as well as her own bloody nose) in the only place where she was sure to be alone. Yes, that sounded nice: she and her handkerchief would curl up in the shadows of one of the marble columns, away from the other servants… Thank goodness there were no guests to worry about; she'd hate to think what would happen if anyone were to want to see the—
Her stomach dropped. She'd recognize that laughing, lilting tone anywhere…
"Earl?" Lau called again—and Maylene could tell by the sound of tiny, incessant fists beating against a coffee table that he (and that sister of his) had made themselves at home in the Lounge. "Earl, we let ourselves in. Where are you? Come out and play!"
Shitshitshit. What are they doing here?! Why me? Shitshitsh—Goodness, the young master's verbal slips had certainly done a number on her own vernacular, hadn't they? No, wait—now wasn't the time for such thoughts!—itshitshitshit…
With all the speed and stealth of a trained assassin (which, seeing as that's what she was, made sense), the flustered maid crept to the entrance of the room. From within, she could hear Ranmao do a number to a vase atop the low table; the sound of shattering porcelain grew all the louder as she slid closer, her back gliding over the dulling floral paper on the wall. She stopped only when her shoulder brushed the cherry wood frame of the doorjamb. It was a strategic vantage point: for while she could see them—stacked, one atop the other, like a strange set of human-shaped blocks—they could not see her, lurking just outside the open double doors, as well as their field of vision.
But that could all change very soon, if they decided to leave the room. Which, based on her apparent lack of luck, Maylene was guessing would happen right about—
"Hmmm." Lau straightened in his high-back chair, loosening his arms around the Chinese beauty's tiny waist. "Well, if it's hide-and-seek we're playing, then Ranmao and I definitely accept! Isn't that right, Ranmao?"
Ranmao blinked her lifeless amber eyes.
Yup. It figured.
But even the unrealistically high levels of exasperation that this turn of events brought couldn't quell the poor girl's terror. What was she to do? She couldn't let them go searching for the master! Not when he was—! Um… well, what if they found him? His integrity! His title! Whatever he was doing in that closet with Mr. Sebastian (Don'tthinkaboutitdon'tthinkaboutitdon'tthinkaboutit—!) was clearly not for prying eyes; it was her duty as the maid to protect her master, as well as his secrets! Thus…
She quietly whimpered, but accepted the inevitable.
"Hm? Ah! It's our little maid friend!" At the sound of tramping boots, Lau's long lashes fluttered; the smallest slit of gold peeped out from beneath the coil of fine black fringe. Ranmao, in turn, straightened in her brother's embrace, eyeing the new girl with silent, approving recognition. She even half-lifted one of her hands… which, for her, was a gesture akin to an energetic, over-the-head wave. "Do you, perhaps, know where the Earl is hiding, my dear?"
Maylene swallowed, features flaming from a combination of yes, knowing (not only where the Earl was, but what he was undoubtedly up—Oh God, what a time to understand Nina's joke!— to) and remembering what had happened the last time she'd been left alone with these travelers from the East. "M-my master is b-b-busy, right now…" she informed, fumbling through a nervous curtsy. "P-perhaps I could keep you entertained while you wait for him…?"
The invitation was well-received.
Within moments, the Chinaman was gracing the maid with a long-lipped smile. "But of course," he murmured, crooking a finger at her. She instinctively stepped forward, as if pulled by a thread; Lau nestled all the more comfortably into his seat. "Ranmao has missed you something terrible. Isn't that right, Ranmao?"
And this time, framed by the flesh of her lifted, demanding, reaching arms, Ranmao actually spoke.
The day ended as it began: with Maylene in her room, and Mr. Sebastian outside of it, on his way to yell at the boys. Admittedly, the subject matter was a little different at this time of night— now he was off to berate the pair for the ineptitude they'd shown over the past twelve hours, rather than command them to Get Their Lazy Bones Out Of Bed— but the sentiment remained, and, either way, ladies went first.
"How do you explain this?" the butler inquired coolly, dark eyes flashing like bloodied gemstones as he brandished two gloved fingers. The pallor of the fabric was entirely concealed by layers of soot and muck— the dirty results of her unfinished (un-started!) chores.
Twiddling her thumbs, Maylene waffled quietly, swaying this way and that, unable to meet her superior's reprimanding gaze.
"I simply don't understand, Maylene," Mr. Sebastian continued icily, lowering his hand with a sneer of disgust. "You had an entire day to finish your work. Yet nothing—not a single, solitary thing!—got done. This is most unbefitting for a servant of Phantomhive."
The chastisement stung— lingered with the pain of a physical blow. Behind the foggy glass of her spectacles, the girl's eyes pricked with hot tears. "I—I know," she confessed in a whisper, voice hoarse and aching with regret. How she wished she could sink into the floorboards and vanish! "I… I'm so, so sorry, Mr. Seb—!"
"However, at the same time, I must commend you."
Maylene froze. Her apology wedged itself in her throat. Did he just—? No, it couldn't be—! It couldn't possibly be! But then… maybe…
Still shaking with demure tremors, the maid hesitantly lifted her blotched and splotchy face… and lo and behold, Mr. Sebastian was—
He was smiling.
"You did an excellent job protecting the young master today," the butler praised (albeit in virtual monotone). "You saved him suffering a great deal shame, as well as kept the guests happy while he was… otherwise occupied." The grin slid upward another quarter-inch, his ruby eyes half-lidded in amusement. "Your willingness to be 'useful' even puts Mr. Lau's best to shame. I do hope that you will continue this sort of behavior in the future."
Her lips formed an 'o,' her hands found her cheeks; the maid's already-colorful countenance morphed from paste-white to cherry-red in a matter of milliseconds. "O- of course!" she keened, only-just-managing to keep from leaping with joy. Mr. Sebastian was smiling at her! Mr. Sebastian was complimenting her! (Though she was a little confused; Mr. Lau's best? What did that mean? Oh, it hardly mattered—) Mr. Sebastian thought she had done well! "Of course I will, Mr. Sebastian! I'll continue working as hard as I can!"
The butler chuckled, smirking his approval. "Good girl," he then purred, reaching out for the doorknob. Ever-so-slowly, his grinning face vanished behind the moving panel of whitewashed wood. "Good night, then."
"…good night…" Maylene echoed, feeling light-headed once more. Even after he'd gone, the lasting warmth of his smile made her heart beat twice its normal rate. With a great deal of effort—knowing that her legs might, at any second, give out completely—, she lowered herself onto her waiting mattress, sinking into its comforting softness. "Oh, Mr. Sebastian…" she breathed, flopping backwards and beaming at the cobwebs on the ceiling. His visit had been the perfect ending to what (in the rosy light of hindsight) seemed the perfect day. But now it was time for that day to be over; in the distance, she could hear the sweet tolling of the grandfather clock, welcoming in the night.
And as 11 o'clock announced its arrival— the solemn chimes resonating like the beautiful butler's sonorous laughter—Maylene drifted off to sleep, dreaming of the happy surprises that tomorrow would no doubt bring.