Disclaimer: My ownership papers are probably lost in the mail.
Author's Note: Inspired by a line in the fanfic "MESSIAH." It's pretty obvious which one. :3
Warnings: Implied shouta. (Same old, same old.) Utilizes both the manga (specifically, chapters 28 and 29) and the anime. Also, I didn't really compose this before hand, as I do most stories… it was more of a writing exercise, to see where the idea would take me. Plus, as I wanted to play with how layered Sebastian is, as a character—since we never do know when he's lying or telling the truth, or how he really feels about Ciel— this fic is both open ended and open to interpretation. :3
Sebastian did not lie. At least, not like humans did.
Humans, Ciel knew, were wicked creatures. Worse, perhaps, than the devils who tempted them— and they lied every minute of the day. Over trivialities, over trifling… over the most important and life-changing issues that one would ever be forced to face. They did it for many reasons, each stupider than the last: they lied to their families, as if that might protect them. They lied to their friends, simpering as they scammed and schemed. They lied to themselves, as if in some misguided attempt to find comfort in the cesspool known as London.
Black lies— dark and cloying as molasses, the words sticky and ensnaring. White lies— harmless on the outside, but oozing poison from within. Gray in between… Good intentions may have paved the road to Hell, but cruelty was the adhesive that bound the bricks together. And all around the world, countless mortal morons were traveling down that perilous path: their mouths ceaselessly spinning the webs of spiders, never once realizing that the only prey they would catch within these threads of deceit was themselves.
And so Sebastian did not lie. Not like humans, anyway.
But he lied like a demon, and that was so much worse.
"You promised to obey me."
"I did obey you, my lord."
"I told you specifically to go to the Crest Office! Instead, you—!"
"I accomplished my objective, did I not?"
"That's not the point. You deliberately defied me!"
"Not true. Young master, you wound me with your accusations."
"I will wound you, alri—!"
"Young master. It is not very dignified to raise your hand against a servant. Please do not forget your manners… lest you force me to punish you."
"Sebas— let me go—!"
"Never forget: all that I do, my lord, I do for you. Have I ever once betrayed you? I swear upon the seal of our covenant— I shall be by your side, your ever-vigilant Knight, until this game has reached its end. However, once in a while, the King (so preoccupied with his final strategy for victory) fails to notice an easier course of action… It is human nature to take the path that is simultaneously simplest and yields the best results, correct? I was merely trying to appear human... which, as you may recall, was another of the young master's demands."
"I don't understand how screwing some circus whore qualifies as—ah!"
"Language, young master."
"I still say you lied to me."
"Certainly not. Remember, I am not human… I do not lie, like humans do."
Inflection was a funny thing, and one of Sebastian's favorite toys.
Aku made shitsuji desu kara— I am a devil of a butler.
Syllabic emphasis was just as important as the individual letters that made up spoken words, the tone in which one's dialogue was uttered. It was an intangible plaything, the metaphorical curtain which concealed the creature's clever tricks (and never mind the man behind it)— the screen that hid the monster as he formed his beloved puns, each one as slippery and sly as his sickle-smooth smile. And how fitting that this should be the case, as both were used to mask the dangerous sharpness that was his true self…
Akuma de shitsuji desu kara— I am a devil and a butler.
Ciel knew how much Sebastian loved his word games: as a (servant of Phantomhive) demon, it was only natural… innate, even. Trickery was in his blood, in his nature.
I do not lie, like humans do.
His nature. His nature was that of any other hellspawn, pitiless and beautiful. And within the shadows of the midnight mansion, this irrefutable truth gleamed— as luminously obvious as the spilt blood that colored his vibrant irises and crusted beneath the lacquer of his ebony nails.
I do not lie like humans do.
Yet from dawn to dusk, bathed in the watery warmth of the English sun, the fallen angel masqueraded as a human. He smiled and spoke and snickered and sang his master's praises, as if he really cared. As if he had a heart. As if…
'Sebastian Michaels,' the little earl one day realized, was nothing more than a sentient falsehood.
"How do I know that I can trust you?"
"…I was not aware that you desired my trust, young master."
"I don't. But I need it."
"…a King without pawns, while still King—"
"Don't interrupt your master! And that's not what I was going to say!"
"I apologize profusely for my assumptions. Now, what has my young master bothered so?"
"...I have been thinking. My aunt betrayed me due to her need for vengeance. Lau betrayed me out of curiosity and boredom. Contract or no, there's always a chance that you will do the same."
"Never. I will be by my lord's side until I hear the word 'checkmate.'"
"Is that so?"
"I swear it."
"Will you leave, now? Or perhaps consume my soul?"
"The young master is trying to make a point."
"The young master thinks that I will twist his words to my advantage."
"You have twisted my words before."
"Does the young master believe that I will do so again?"
"'It is human nature to take the path that is simultaneously simplest and yields the best results, correct?'"
"But young master… I am not human."
He had promised Sebastian his soul.
Sworn an oath, and now bore the mark. The spirit which animated his earthly form no longer belonged to him, though it had yet to be wholly relinquished. Instead, it lingered somewhere half-in and half-out of Ciel's fragile flesh, waiting for That Distant Day.
Yes, he had promised Sebastian his soul; he had every intention of honoring that pledge. And Sebastian, in turn, vowed that he would collect his prize only after his charge had been given the chance to fully revenge himself against his wrong-doers, no matter how long said vendetta might take to complete.
That was the agreement. Simple, succinct, and the core of their bond; the demon had said nothing about requiring more. In fact, Sebastian had told him—quite firmly, at the time—that he had no interest in anything else.
It was, perhaps, the biggest and most obvious lie that the devil would ever dare tell.
Yet, even now, the child wasn't quite sure where the deceit stemmed from: was it his previous declaration, and the claims of disinterest? Or should the blame be pinned on the worldly shell that the demon waltzed around in, cursed to emulate the reactions and sexual frustrations of the everyman? And if Sebastian desired nothing more than his contractor's immortal soul, then why did the entirety of Ciel's tiny body act as if it wanted to be swallowed up by the razor-toothed chasm of his mouth?
Sebastian was in control of his spirit. Already. Permanently. He had to be— (or was Ciel lying to himself, as humans were wont to do? No—) his spirit served as the strings that manipulated his corporeal flesh: they dictated the pounding of his heart, the racings of his mind, the workings of his body… And so it must be the monster's fault that the delicate noble had long-since dedicated his everything to the butler.
Everything. Every thought revolved around him, every cell alive thanks to him, every breath that escaped Ciel's petal-pink lips was for him, because of him, stolen by him— and the greedy Sebastian took, took, took, robbing his master of his innocence and energy, gradually sucking him dry… until the boy was nothing more than an empty husk of a human, prostrate and panting.
"I don't want to marry her."
"Why ever not? Does the young master love somebody else?"
"What? No! Why would you think that?"
"'Finding true love' is a common reason for humans to try and call off prearranged marriages, or so I have heard."
"Well, that's not the case, here."
"I beg your pardon. Perhaps the young master would like to tell me, then, what the matter is?"
"It's just that I don't need a wife. I don't want one. If we were to marry, Lizzie would only serve to get in my way all the more, or become endangered due to my work. It would be better if I just called the wedding off."
"Lady Elizabeth would never take that as an excuse."
"Then I'll make something up. I'll tell her I'm sick or dying or something, and am no longer fit to be her husband."
"You should not lie, my lord."
"Why not? You do it."
"But I am far better at it than you are."
"So I shouldn't lie unless I know I won't get caught in it?"
"I did not say that."
"Then you want me not to lie at all?"
"As the young master's humble servant, I cannot tell him to refrain from being dishonest… however, I would be remiss if I were not to inform him that he needs to learn how to lie more competently."
"Meaning that, like all skills, one must practice to be good at lying."
"Then I shall practice now."
"'I hate Lizzie.'"
"I do not believe that. When the young master speaks of his intended, his eyes soften far too noticeably to be convincing. Monitoring a person's bodily reactions is the easiest and most commonly used way to differentiate between when they are lying and when they are telling the truth. Try again."
"'I no longer want to live for revenge.'"
"A bit of advice, my lord: the best lies are those that contain an iota of truth. You cannot simply spout out anything that comes to mind; everyone will catch a fib that contradicts the entirety of one's character."
"Then how about 'I love you, Sebastian?'"
"…I was being sarcastic."
"…and you know I hate it when you smile like that."
"A thousand apologies, young master, but you certainly know how to catch one off-guard. You love me, do you? My, my… Though I'm afraid I won't believe that until you convince me it is true."
"But it isn't true."
"As are all lies. But the point and purpose of lying is to try and pass off falsehood as truth, is it not? There is a lesson to be learned in this, young master: sometimes, you will have to persuade the masses… sometimes, you will have to put effort into your lies."
"…what do you think you're doing, Sebastian?"
"Seeing if the young master loves me, of course. After all, if he does, than he would want me to touch him here… is that not so?"
"Sebast—! Seba… ah… oh—…!"
"Why, you are already a much-improved liar, my lord."
Inevitably, there will come a point in all lies when somebody will realize that no one is quite sure of the facts, anymore. At this, the weaver will jolt abruptly—as if roused from some sort of nightmare—and find themselves helplessly tangled within the chains that they had constructed for themselves, wondering what went wrong. What had (actually) happened.
For a time, Ciel speculated over whether or not his butler ever had this problem, wallowing daily (as he did) in all of the untruths that he'd constructed. Maybe it was because his own mind was wired to work in the opposite direction— to unravel mysteries and uncover deceit—, but the boy found himself increasingly befuddled (knotted) the more he tried to consciously utilize dishonesty… and, consequently, the more he realized how much his and Sebastian's existence was dependent upon such lies.
Perhaps that was what made the butler such a good liar— perhaps that was the distinction between "not lying, like humans" and "not lying like humans." As a devil, he was continually and blatantly aware of the Truth (every repugnant, unforgiving detail of it), if only so that he could warp it into something new, something advantageous, something with which to shroud his very being. And in the end, he not only manipulated words to concoct his tales— but reality itself.
"Lie to me."
"And why would I do that?"
"Because I order it."
"What a silly child my young master is. Very well. What sort of lie should I tell?"
"A human lie."
"I do not lie like humans do. I am not sure I know how."
"I command you to try. Just this once."
"As you wish. In that case…"
Two spidery fingers tip-toed up the staircase of Ciel's bony spine, teasing the ridge of his starched cream lapel. His right hand drifted; the worn white fabric of the servant's favored gloves sidled gingerly upward, working against the soft, near-invisible peach-fuzz that adorned the boy's rounded cheek. The gentle touch sent electricity shooting from jaw line to tailbone; without further encouragement, the noble's chin tilted backwards… and, as always, Sebastian loomed above him, pursed lips curled into their perpetual, spiteful grin.
Nose brushed nose— onyx lashes tickled the child's porcelain temple. And into his waiting, cherry-rose ear, Sebastian breathed:
"'I love you, young master.'"
Ciel felt his back stiffen, his eyes burn.
A cold chuckle fell from the earl's smirking mouth.
"…you give yourself far too little credit, Sebastian," the petite gentleman muttered, the iced compliment muted by the fine fabric swathing the demon's chest. "You can lie exactly like humans do. A natural, as they say." His forehead met the butler's shoulder; he smelt, as always, of apple tea and ruby rust… and Ciel knew, without looking, that the creature's eyes were bleeding crimson, just like flavored leaves in boiling water.
A tongue of fire—no, a tongue of flesh— lashed at the bony hollow behind the child's pierced ear lobe. "Would you like to hear me lie like a devil now, my lord?" Sebastian murmured, lambent digits coiling in and out and in and out of his contractor's stiffened collar, mimicking motions (both familiar and foreign) that turned the boy's alabaster skin a lovely shade of scarlet.
"Why not." The retort was flat, but husky with intrigue. Demanding fists grabbed hold of Sebastian's dangling bangs, yanking down, down, down… "Let me hear it."
Beneath Ciel's crisscrossed ankles, his wooden throne screeched. Inhuman hands (in skill and in strength) wrenched the weighted seat around like a wheel on a carriage… though its legs left a trail of gold-leaf resistance upon the swirled marble of the dining hall floor. And so it was that long arms transformed into muscled prison bars; a lifted knee became a grinding, wanton blockade— and all the while, a half-lidded gaze of incandescent claret board into the obstinate face of the mortal peon who had been foolish enough to enslave a demon of his caliber. The arrogance of man…
Sebastian's treacherous mouth descended, contorting into a sneer as he whispered into the night:
"'I hate you, young master.'"
Their lips met in a fervor of stomach-turning (need, want, desire, passion) disgust, hands pushing and clawing and pulling, pulling, pulling—
And Ciel no longer knew which lie to believe.