Disclaimer: Why must you demean me this way?
Author's Note: This is what happens when you put me in any sort of religious class/setting. Inevitably.
Warnings: Short, sweet, to the point. Shouta in some, religious references in all. To be honest, the theme of this ficlet is one that I've already played with—extensively—in stories like "Gratitude," but… well, here we go again. In other news, I would like to extend inspirational credit to Goodbymyheart for this chapter… if you don't know why, go read her fic "Payment in Due." SO GOOD~
There was nothing so twisted, Sebastian soon discovered, than the sense of humor held by a tormented child.
"What are you reading, young master?"
The delicate ten-year-old, head still bound in scarlet scraps of swaddled clothing, grunted softly as he lifted the book in his arms—so bulky, so bejeweled, that the demon half-wondered if his skeletal arms would break whilst attempting to present it. But no… his tiny master would never allow God to break him. Not again.
"The Bible, hm? An interesting choice," the butler acknowledged— the mockery in his simpering praise duly noted. "Might I be so bold as to enquire why?"
Ciel's initial response was an elegant shrug; the gesture seemed almost paradoxical, taking his current state of dress into account. An oversized nightshirt and loose slacks hardly seemed appropriate attire for a member of the gentry… "I have read and re-read all of the other fairytales in my library," he then droned, turning a rice-paper page with a sigh and a sneer. "Though I must admit, I had expected more in the way of a narrative. This book bounces all over the place."
The graceful devil smiled sympathetically, head tilted as if in empathetic understanding. "Alas, it is not much of a pleasure-read," he agreed, returning his attentions to his teacart. Within his steady grasp, the Wedgewood china tinkled and chinked (in a cheery sort of way), serenading the hollow glug-splash-hiss of poured refreshment. "However monotonous the experience, perhaps the young master would prefer to return to the Brothers Grimm?"
"Not at present, no," his petite lord retorted, the declaration highlighted by a majestic sort of cadence (as well as a condescending snort) as he accepted his mid-afternoon treat. The gilded volume found its way onto the adjacent coffee table, propped open to a chapter full of calligraphic poetry. "For all of its flaws, the stories themselves are far 'grimmer' than any Germanic tale… and I confess, I find its messages amusing."
Sebastian crooked an eyebrow, even as he proffered a platter of éclairs. "Amusing, my lord?"
Ciel's sickle-smile widened by canines and incisors, as sharp and cold as the rising winter moon. "'An eye for an eye,'" the damned boy quoted, star-white fingers clenching around copper-scented bandages. "Do you think I chose the position of my Seal arbitrarily? There were so many other places I could have told you to engrave the symbol… but no. They stole from me my family. They took from me my home. They robbed me of everything good and decent in this world— drove me into a position where I had to sell my soul in order to survive."
An oddly nonchalant hand toyed with a silvery tea spoon; the sight reminded the butler of a human idiom, and he wondered if anyone else would see the irony in the situation. That the silver spoon that the lad had once been born with was now little more than a potential weapon… A scoop, a shovel— ideal for gouging, or digging one's own grave.
Unaware of his servant's thoughts, the earl's gaze, voice, and expression fell as one, identical and appropriately deadpan. "My right eye is useless, Sebastian," he informed (unnecessarily), setting aside his drink and snack without so much as tasting them. But still, the bowled utensil remained… "I can see nothing through the runes you inscribed. According to the God of this country, it is only fair that I should be given retribution in kind."
"So you wish to blind the world, young master?" the demon coolly paraphrased, his inconspicuous emotions betrayed by the ruby shimmer in his eyes—a glittering miasma of apple-sin and garnet lust. A tempt and a taunt wove its way into his words; the Serpent of the Garden would be proud. "Such goals you entertain! Such fire, such passion! The dreams of children are always so precious."
His derision did not go unnoticed. Incensed, the Lord of Phantomhive bared his pointed teeth: grit in the back as his twitching lips slid upward. "Don't you dare mock me, you vile thing," Ciel spat, his glacial eyes as frigid with fury as Sebastian's were warm with laughter. "You have no right!"
"As you say," the creature purred in reply, soothing and sickeningly sweet. Like molasses, like honey, the butler's voice was a sugary, audible-syrup that stuck in mouth and ears and mind… "Well then. How does my precocious master propose his vendetta be wrought?"
Ciel, temporarily appeased, felt his face warp in the wake of a caustic smirk, coal-gray lashes fluttering in lazy condescension. "I shall say, 'let us go out to the field,'" he droned, sarcasm coloring his silken voice black. One of his hands rediscovered the holy tome, tapping out a curt, militaristic tune; the other found his alabaster cheek, supporting it with a regal flare of slender digits. Lithesome legs crossed; venom poisoned his lilted conclusion: "And when we are in the field, I will rise up against my brothers and kill them."
The allusion was not lost upon the devil. In fact, it was a source of great entertainment: the faux-man grinned and chuckled and cooed in the gloom— a gloved finger uncoiling to dissect his folsom face. "And what if their blood should cry out from the ground?" Sebastian wheedled, sidling ever-closer to his treasured charge: looming, leaning, and lifting his brittle chin. Such delicious defiance he found in that one-orbed gaze—such sumptuous scorn, such appetizing annoyance… "What if one should question the sudden disappearance of your brethren? What if their descendants should wish for revenge against you…?"
The noble-child scoffed, ripping himself away from the cloying shadows. "That's why you're here, isn't it?" he reminded blandly, wholly unimpressed with his servant's little show. "If not to protect me, than what am I paying you for?"
The contempt—the supremacy— the order in his tone was delectable.
Satisfied by this display (of blatant insolence), the demon beamed and nodded—as obsequious as the dog for whom he was named, falling to his knees with a bow and a scrape. "My young master is correct, of course," he breathed as he did so, savoring the searing ache of raw power as it coursed through his enchanted veins. "I shall be by my lord's side, his ever vigilant knight, until this game has reached its end."
The feral leer widened; rust eyes flashed like a hungry bird's. Unbeknownst to the rest of the world, beneath the curtain of the boy's fabric bindings, his indigo iris did the same. A spark of realization; a gasp of pleasured pain. Entirely unanticipated (for who would have thought that the devil had control issues of his own?), a jolt of backlashed energy streaked through the earl's worn synapses, toying with the frayed nerve endings in his brain; as if against his will, Ciel's fingers contorted—six crumpled pages were soon trapped within the prison of his trembling fist, nearly ripped from the book's cracked spine.
And all the while, the dark crow smiled.
"Besides," the kowtowing butler then whispered, standing to place possessive hands over Ciel's throbbing, oozing, cotton-concealed wound-mark, "as a servant of Phantomhive, it is only natural that I should serve, follow, and protect my master…"
Truly, there was nothing so twisted as the sense of humor held by a tormented child…
"…no matter what the cost."
But the games that God allowed proved a very close second.
"Then the Lord said to him, 'Not so! Whoever kills Cain will suffer a sevenfold vengeance.' And the Lord put a mark on Cain, so that no one who came upon him would kill him. Then Cain went away from the presence of the Lord…"