A/N: Ooh, it's been a while, hasn't it? I've been looking over this story again, tweaking things here and there, and I remembered this chapter. It was intended to be in the place of chapter ten, had Will not shown up, and it features a character from another anime-Gankutsuou, The Count of Monte Cristo. He seems like Grell's type to me. I'll be honest: I never finished the chapter. There's a missing sex scene that I can't be bothered to write. but if you want it, here it is~
An invitation to a ball…in Paris! My red mistress wasn't that popular; what Parisian would want her at his party? I checked, but the name of the host wasn't given, just his title: The Count of Monte Cristo. I had to admit, it had a nice ring to it. Well, since she was gone…couldn't I be Madam Red for one night? Who would know the difference? Certainly no one in France!
"Your invitation, please." A handsome, dark-skinned man stood at the grand entrance to the Count's manor, monitoring everyone who entered. When I handed over my invite, he glanced at it, then back up at me. "You're Angelina Durless?"
"Of course," I answered, pulling my glasses down a little to gaze sweetly over them. "Do you think I'm a fraud?"
"No, madam; please proceed inside," he replied, inclining his head to me, and I bit back my snappy reply. After all, I was practicing my skills as an actress for the evening; I would play the part of a demure young lady and not attract attention to myself, no matter how much I wanted to. The host of the party must have been pretty popular, because there were people everywhere. Beautiful women (though none as beautiful as me) and elegant men filled the manor, but within just minutes of stepping inside, my hunk-radar pinged and something caught my eye. It was a top hat that was decidedly much lower than any of the others.
Can you guess? I'll give you a few seconds to think… If you said "Little Lord Phantomhive was there, too!" you were right. And of course, where the master goes, the servant follows; Sebby was close behind him, looking even more dapper than usual. Any focus I might have wasted on any other man in the room was immediately stolen away and transferred to him… But I couldn't exactly approach him with his master right there. Maybe I should just wait until the little lord was busy with something else and then sneakily steal his butler away. I looked so different that neither of them would have recognized me at first glance anyway.
So I could wait. After all, I had waited that long… Trying not to think about him, I roamed about the manor, forcing myself to be happy. I took a glass of champagne from a suit-clad boy with a staring problem and wandered upstairs to observe the crowd from there; it seemed like the entire party was concentrated on the first floor. So far removed like that, it was even prettier. Humans always look nicer before you get too close to them; my experience with my red mistress had proven that. So from that distance, it was at least fun to watch things happen. Young men flirted with young ladies who were coy and coquettish in return. Older women laughed in tipsy amusement as they gossiped and drank. Men discussed business in a very bland and boring way. And my Sebby was standing at the side of his master while he talked to a girl who was obviously several years older than him. My hunk-radar was going off like crazy by that point, probably just because I was looking down at Sebastian.
"Are you enjoying yourself?" A voice at my shoulder made me jump, and I turned quickly to see a tall, dark and handsome man standing there smiling at me. "Forgive me; I didn't mean to startle you."
"It's fine," I answered, trying to regain my dignity in front of someone so…for lack of a better word, charming. Just looking at him, I wanted to get to know him better. Maybe he had contributed to my radar being off the charts. "Yes, I suppose I'm having fun. But then, most of these people are strangers to me. The person I was really interested in meeting was our host."
"Ah. Well allow me to fulfill your wish, then," my new acquaintance said, bowing deeply. "I am the Count of Monte Cristo."
"Oh! I-it's a pleasure to meet you, Your Excellency," I managed awkwardly, wishing I had waited to find out who he was before saying something like that.
"The pleasure is mine, mademoiselle…?"
"Angelina," I said without missing a beat, offering my hand so he could kiss it (which he did, sending girlish shivers up my spine).
"Mademoiselle Angelina. A name as lovely as the lady who owns it." Ooh, he was good. Charming was definitely the right word. I wished I could use my real name so that he could say it was lovely, too. The music being played downstairs floated up to us and the party's host smiled, showing off canines that looked as sharp as my teeth. "May I have this dance?" It was a waltz. Could I dance a waltz? In the face of his almost overwhelming allure, I had forgotten. Well, as long as he was leading… I nodded nervously and let him slip one arm around my waist. Oh my.
Being so close to a stranger made me a little uneasy, especially when this stranger seemed to awe me so. Why was that? I had been around good-looking men before and held my own; what made this one so special? I didn't know, but it didn't really seem that important as he took my hand and began to move. Luckily, focusing on not embarrassing myself with that dance took all my concentration, so I wasn't just staring up at him helplessly. My partner was every bit as graceful as I was, leading me with hardly any effort; maybe I was just good at following directions because I had gotten used to Sebastian…
Sebastian! I immediately broke away from my dance partner and turned away, heart pounding. What was the matter with me? How could I be up there dancing with this man I didn't even know when Sebby was waiting for me to come and steal him away?
"What's the matter?" the Count asked behind me, and I shook my head. "I apologize if I've done something to upset you."
"No. It's just…there's someone…" I glanced down at the party, searching for my Sebby, but he was nowhere to be found. They could've already gone without a word to me. But then…he probably wouldn't have wanted to see me anyway. I could just hear him in my head, You're being a nuisance. My master takes precedence over you. Please leave. Ignoring the fire in my chest, I took a deep breath and muttered, "It's nothing."
"Then dance with me, mademoiselle." His voice was dark and soft as his hands came to rest on my shoulders. Leaning down close, he spoke into my ear. "Or perhaps I should say monsieur?" Oh, his voice was so deep and so close. I was starting to blush again.
"Mademoiselle is right," I informed him. "But…you could tell I'm different?"
"I'm afraid so. Not that it matters." He took my hand and spun me around to face him, still smiling. "A beautiful creature such as you is still beautiful, barring any circumstances." Beautiful. He said that I was… Even though he knew about my circumstances, he still held me in his arms and called me beautiful. In public, with no shame. One of his hands touched my hip and I glanced away, trying to figure out what I should do. While I was struggling to think, my host brushed his fingers gently along my cheek, pushing a red curl away. Somehow, he was close to me…and I could practically feel his breath on my neck…
"Forgive my interruption." A too-familiar voice snapped me out of my trance and I pulled away from the Count, covering my mouth with one shaking hand. "Your Excellency, my master would like a word with you, if you have a moment."
"I see," said our host, gently touching my shoulder as he walked past me. "And may I ask who your master is?"
"Count Phantomhive of London. He awaits you at the foot of the stairs."
"Very well. Forgive me, mademoiselle; business calls." Then he left, and I was frozen in fear, wondering if the messenger had gone or stayed.
"Pardon me." He spoke after a few seconds, forcing me to turn reluctantly and look at him. He was bowing with one hand over his heart. "I seem to have deprived you of your dance partner. Allow me to offer myself as a substitute." He looked up and smiled, surprising me. Did he…really not recognize me? He was probably used to seeing me more confident than that.
"That would be lovely," I answered tensely, walking over to him and letting him take me in his arms. His hand was warmly familiar around mine, causing me to smile genuinely. Dancing with him that way, it was like a dream. Sebby held me close to himself, even daring to slowly stroke the small of my back.
"If I may," he said at length. "Your eyes are very unique, practically the color of gold. They remind me of a certain lady that I know at home in England." Pulling me a little closer, he leaned in to whisper in my ear, "Have you any idea what will happen if it's discovered that you've snuck in?"
"Who's sneaking?" I replied, glad to be able to speak to him freely. He didn't seem angry. And that was strange, because he'd always been jealous in the past. "I, Angelina Durless, was invited."
"Hmph. It seems you've already gotten close to our host as well," he pointed out as the tempo of the music changed.
"Not really. Besides, what do you care?" There was no reply, so I glanced up at him. "Though I suppose that Count was very charming. Do you think he could compete with you for my affection? What do you plan to do about it?"
"Hmm. I suppose killing him is out of the question," he answered thoughtfully. That was a bit of a shock.
"You would do that?"
"I've just said that I wouldn't."
"But if it wouldn't affect your social status, you would? Just to hold onto me?" I asked, pulling away to look into his eyes. Just so he wouldn't have to answer immediately, he spun me away and back again.
"Perhaps. Though I'm not sure it's worth defending you if you're so easily swayed by a title and a smile." He dipped me low and I smirked up at him.
"So you are jealous."
"Hardly." And he dropped me to the ground, turning to leave.
"Sebastian," I snapped. Surprisingly, he stopped, glancing back at me as I sat there on the floor, glaring at him. My hand reached out to him and he let out a sigh, taking it to raise me to my feet. We paused for a few seconds, our bodies close but our gazes not meeting. I was staring pointedly at his tie, and his eyes were locked on the glimmering barrette in my hair.
"Jealousy isn't the word I would use," he said at length. "Perhaps something more along the lines of possessiveness. Don't I have the right to act in defense of my lover?"
"What?" My eyes darted up to his, but he was still avoiding me. "But you said—"
"Doesn't that make sense? If we've made love on a number of occasions…it follows that we're lovers. And if you and I are lovers, it should be expected that you'll be faithful to me, and that I should never again find you in a situation such as this. Isn't that reasonable?"
"Yes," I agreed, nuzzling my head up against his shoulder. His fingers ran through my hair and I was practically in heaven. Maybe, I thought to myself. This is what it feels like to be really in love… "You're absolutely right. I'm sorry."
"I forgave you six minutes ago. Do you know where the Gran Davinier is?"
"The hotel? Yes; I passed it on the way here."
"Good. At midnight, I will be on the roof of the building," he informed me. "I expect to see you there." His tone just confirmed what we both knew: it wasn't a request.
"So you will," I promised, biting my lip in excitement. He nodded and planted a kiss in the corner of my mouth before turning and striding away, presumably to go back to his master. Ooh, my Sebby! He was just so wonderful! And he had even admitted that we were lovers! I guess all it took was a little intimidation from another man whose inexplicable allure almost rivaled his. Thinking of that, I quickly ran down the stairs on the opposite side, evading our host for the rest of the night so he couldn't pull me back in with his all-too-powerful magnetism.
At eleven-thirty, I left the party and headed down the street toward the hotel Sebby had told me about. It wouldn't do to keep him waiting… After the slightly tedious process of getting onto the roof of the building without being noticed, I found myself alone under the light of the moon. So I would wait. As usual. Walking over to the edge of the building, I gazed out at Paris' gorgeous streets. Why couldn't Sebby's master live there instead? It was certainly a lot prettier than England.
"Why mademoiselle, it seems you're early," Sebby's voice said behind me, and I turned to see him coming from the stairs that led to the lower floor. Not bothering to banter, I immediately ran to him and wrapped my arms around his shoulders. "What's this? Is something wrong?"
"No. It's just been a while since I've seen you," I reminded him.
"It's been no more than a fortnight. There was a time when that would've been a trice to us both. Being immortal as you are, it shouldn't mean so much."
"But it does," I muttered in his ear, loving the arms that he wrapped around my stomach. "Every moment that I'm not with you is a complete waste."
"My, my, but you're needy." Pulling back a bit, he leaned down to kiss me. That time, it was a real kiss, and I got to enjoy it for several seconds before I had to break away for air. Not giving me a moment's rest, he let his mouth wander down to gently suck on my earlobe.
"Mm, Sebby…" I breathed, holding onto his shoulders. He didn't seem too concerned with my distress, turning to push my back against the door he had just come out of. Gloved fingers played at my chest and I moaned softly, wondering if there was any reason to keep myself quiet; there usually was, after all.
"Hm. While you do look charming, this gown is a bit of a hindrance," he muttered, trailing one fingertip along the neckline of my dress.
"S-sorry," I muttered, flustered like I hadn't been in weeks (about two weeks, in fact). He shook his head and quickly slipped one hand under my dress, sliding it slowly upward to force my leg up on his hip. That just made it a little harder for me to stand, and I had to hold onto him tighter.
"Don't worry so much," he advised, stroking my thigh with his thumb. "I won't let you fall."
"Says the one who dropped me earlier," I muttered breathily.
"Yes, but that was intentional," he informed me, and I shook my head at him.
"It's kind of cold," I said as I shivered a little. "And I don't want to get my dress dirty… Are you going to make me do this out here?"
"As opposed to…?"
"Well, we are on top of a hotel," I pointed out. "We could go inside, get a room…"
"Oh, are you going to pay for that?" he laughed. His grip on my leg tightened and I squeaked softly, holding onto the lapels of his jacket. "Hm. I suppose it would be better to have a bed, for aesthetic purposes, if nothing else. Very well, come with me. I do have a room; I simply didn't plan to use it yet." Before I could argue with his logic (or lack thereof), he grabbed my hand, once again rendering me speechless. After he led me back into the hotel in a way that suggested he didn't want to be seen, we took the stairs down one floor and he unlocked a door that read "622." After he closed and locked the door behind us, he lit a few candles with a wave of his hand. How romantic…!
"My feet are killing me," I mumbled, collapsing onto our bed which, I noticed with delight, had a crimson bedspread.
"Oh?" he chuckled, removing his jacket and hanging it up.
"Mm-hm. I walked around that party in higher-than-usual heels all night," I explained. "And then all the way upstairs to the roof…and then back down to this floor."
"You poor thing," he said insincerely, but he knelt to take my shoes off nevertheless.
"Um…you don't have to do that," I said as he rubbed my feet with as much as skill as could be expected from him; how was it he was good at everything? It did feel really nice, though.
"I'm aware of that." Without warning, his hands slid up my leg, under my dress, until they found my garter (over halfway up my thigh). He then hooked his fingers in the top of my stocking and pulled it all the way down. Apparently, he was enjoying this this as much as I was, as he stood and removed his gloves. "What say we take that lovely dress off as well?" Definitely not eager to resist that, I got to my feet and he reached around me, deftly untying the ribbons on my back. As he did, his lips were temptingly close to mine, and I wanted to kiss him so badly it hurt. Thankfully, he noticed my distress and smirked, leaning forward to kiss me gently on the mouth.
To hell with this, I thought to myself, immediately dropping my "quiet and demure" act; I threw my arms around his shoulders and held him tight, kissing him back with enough force to knock anyone else to the ground. Being my Sebby, though, he just laughed and held me closer. Once my dress was loose enough, he broke away from me and turned me easily, pulling the garment open so he could slide it down off my shoulders and kiss them, too. So sweet…! While I was distracted by his mouth (and my own thoughts of how wonderful he was), he managed to get the dress all the way off, letting it fall to the floor.
"I'll admit," he said softly. "You're just as attractive as this type of woman. But your body is fine just as it is."
"Mm, I like to think so, too," I agreed, modest as ever. One of his hands slid down to my hips, carefully teasing me at the top of my lacey underwear. Yes, I had pretty underwear; it was a special occasion, all right? He knelt behind me and slowly slid my other stocking down, sneakily licking my hip to make me shiver. "S-Sebby…" Without answering, he stood and removed the barrette from my hair, taking my glasses and setting them aside as well while I turned to look at him with enough warmth to melt stone. Noticing the look in my eyes, he smirked and pushed me down onto the bed, then crawled up to kneel over me on his hands and knees. His fingers combed through my hair, forcing me to smile.
"Meow…" I purred without thinking, and Sebastian looked surprised for a moment before starting to laugh at me. So of course, my face turned red from embarrassment. Sorry, but excitement like that can make you say some pretty strange things. And leave it to my Sebby to still be coherent enough to hear that and laugh at me for it.
"I suppose that's a fitting noise for my pet to make," he said, shaking his head and kissing my neck. As I struggled to suppress my own moans as usual, he paused. "You know, the walls of this building are several centimeters thicker than those at home. It's a rather interesting architectural difference unique to this particular establishment. Apparently, it was designed that way as a defense against eavesdropping on sensitive dealings." He was gazing thoughtfully away from me as he said this, forcing me to wonder what he was thinking as always.
"So…does that mean I don't have to keep quiet?" I asked hopefully. At that, he glanced down at me mischievously.
"Why do you think I chose this hotel specifically? Just so long as you aren't screaming my name…you've no need to restrain yourself." With that in mind, I let out a loud gasp as his teeth met my neck. He trailed bites along my shoulder and traveled down to my chest, moving so quickly I could hardly tell where his mouth was at any given time.
"Mm, Sebas-tian," I breathed as his fingertips teased my hips, carefully brushing the inner hem of my underwear. His mouth worked up to my chest to abuse and please one nub so I moaned even louder. While he did that, my hands worked almost of their own accord, quickly unknotting his tie and tearing it off, then somehow managing to get his vest unbuttoned and off as well.
"Hm. Eager, aren't you," he laughed, sitting up to quickly remove his own shirt. Within seconds, I was upright as well and clinging to his shoulders, lapping sweetly at his throat. I couldn't even be bothered to speak.
"Aah…aah, oh God, Sebastian," I gasped, moaning and writhing underneath him, my arms hooked tightly around his shoulders and holding him as close as I could. In that moment, the heat, the friction, the sight of him holding onto me, I had never wanted anything more in my life. It was just him and me, the scent of his hair, the familiar grip of his hands, the sweet taste of his lips, and everything about him that I adored. What else could complete me like that, debase me, glorify me; who else in the world could make me feel so incredibly beautiful, so vulnerable, so completely his and nothing else. My mind was racing, but he was still gentle enough that what I needed to say only made the situation more perfect. "Sebastian, I…I love you. Mm, God, I love you." Without even the slightest pause in his movement, he let out a sigh in my ear.
"Sebastian!" A split-second later, our perfect, beautiful moment was shattered into a thousand pieces; I hardly had time to realize what had happened before he had disappeared from the room, leaving the door ajar.
My breath came out in a shuddering gasp while I lay there, hot and unsatisfied on the bed. Had that really happened? Did he…really leave while we were in the middle of that…? With no warning, not a word spoken to me…he was just gone. And that voice, the one that had called his name…of course, it was that goddamn brat. The one who always, invariably took precedence over me. My body quaked in the heat and shock of what had just happened. Just when things were so perfect, when he was about to answer my declarations of love… Damn it!
Cool air touched me and my breath caught in my throat; the door was still open. Someone might see me… So I tried to get out of bed—and of course, my legs buckled from weakness, dropping me to the floor with a muffled cry of frustration. Even so, I had to move. I forced myself to crawl as quickly as possible, and once I'd managed to shut the door, I collapsed to the ground, clutching at my own hair and sobbing. I didn't know why. At the time, I was nothing but a bundle of nerves and unfulfilled promises. Who knew when he would come back. Who knew if he would come back. I obviously didn't rank very high on his list of priorities. Or maybe it was my fault for trying to believe that he cared in the first place. After laying there and crying myself out, I slowly made my way back to the bed, crawled up into it, and lay there with my back facing the door. Maybe he would come back. Maybe not. Either way, I was so hurt and weak that I couldn't even begin to leave yet. I couldn't even sleep. So I just lay there. For hours. Until I finally heard the door open behind me, and I stiffened. Neither of us spoke for a moment, and he sat on the bed, fully-clothed once more.
"…I couldn't ignore him," he said after some time. "You know that." Still, I didn't speak. His hand touched my shoulder, combed through my hair, and I cringed at his touch. But maybe there was something that could make it better…
"What were you going to say?" I asked, not looking at him. With my body curled, turned away from him, I continued, "Before, when I said, 'I love you.' You were going to answer me. Will you…say it now?" He sighed and I could hear his breath almost too loud in the silence.
"I was going to say, 'I know.'" My heart clenched and another sob escaped my lips. "Would you rather be lied to?"
"No… No, I just want you to love me back," I mumbled, turning over and burying my face in the sheets beneath me so he wouldn't see me cry. That was all, all I wanted. In the beginning when I said it, I didn't know what it meant…but now I knew for certain how I felt. I knew what I wanted, and it was him, loving me so much that no one else mattered. "But…I guess that's asking too much."
"I could say it," he told me, running his hand slowly along my back while I lay there shivering. "But we would both know it isn't true."
"Tch. No thanks. I don't want you to say it out of pity," I growled, trying not to be so affected by his hand on my skin.
"I wouldn't. However, I might say it out of a desire to make you happy," he pointed out. "If you want to hear it that badly…" Irritated by that, I sat up and shoved his hand away.
"It doesn't mean anything if you just say it! If it's not true, it doesn't matter," I barked, glaring tearfully into his eyes. Another sigh, and he tried to hold me, but I shoved him away; his surprise at that showed in both his eyes and his voice.
"Grell, stop this. I'm sorry that I had to leave you, but I can make up for it now." His hand touched mine, resting on my leg and reminding me of how much I wanted him. And now that it was convenient for him, he wanted me, too. And wasn't that just the problem? Without a second's hesitation, I jerked away and slapped him across the face.
"You don't understand anything!" I snapped, shouting while he sat there in shock. "You think you can just sleep with me after this, and I'll be fine? I'll just forget that you don't care about me? Well, you're wrong! I can't take it anymore, constantly walking on eggshells, trying to make you love me when it's clearly a lost cause! I can't!" As tears streamed down my face, I shook my head and climbed out of bed, able to move a bit easier now. With as much dignity as possible, I tried to gather up my clothing, but my efforts were quickly stopped by Sebastian standing and wrapping his arms tightly around me. For a second, I almost melted—then I remembered what was going on and tried to break free. My eyes still swimming with tears, I struggled and fought…but he was obviously stronger than me.
"Let me go!" I cried, half demanding, half begging, clawing at his back. Ignoring my pleas and attacks, he just held on tighter, pinning my arms, holding me still until I couldn't fight anymore. At that point, I surrendered and fell against him, sobbing into his shoulder. My arms held on for dear life while I made a complete fool of myself, crying with no restraint. And I felt so stupid…but he wasn't giving me much of a choice. We stood there like that, wrapped up in each other, for at least ten minutes before my breathing was regular again. Then he pulled away slightly and kissed my lips. As much as I hated to admit it…that made me feel so much better; I managed to get my arms around his neck and kissed him back with all I had, still as stupidly, fruitlessly in love with him as ever.
"I'm sorry," he repeated quietly. With me standing there, bare, in his arms, he shook his head and said, "But I had to go; I had no choice. No matter what I was doing or how…incredible I felt, the contract—" I silenced him with another kiss, and he didn't object. What could I say? Even if I forgave him for leaving, he had made it clear that he didn't have feelings for me. How could I stay with him? …but then I remembered every single time in the past I had thought the same thing, and I broke away from him to laugh at myself. Of course, he was confused by that. "What is it…?"
"Nothing," I muttered, stepping back to sit on the bed. "I'm just a fool." Silence for a few seconds…
"I do care for you." That surprised me. I glanced up to see him kneel in front of me, gazing at my hand but not touching it. "I'll admit I can't call it love. However, it would be foolish and untrue to say that I don't…have feelings for you. If I felt nothing when I touched you, I would've ended this long ago. But there is something. That's undeniable. I suppose it's your doing; in the face of emotions so passionate as yours, having been with you so many times…how could I not feel something in return?"
"Sebastian…" I said quietly. I reached out to turn his face up toward me, and his eyes met mine full of sincerity. Whatever emotion they showed wasn't really something I recognized, but it was something, and he had even said so. But why not love? If he felt for me, cared for me, with a relationship like ours, what else was there?
"I wish that I could define it as love," he said, still gazing up at me. "I know that's what you want. For reasons I don't understand…I want to see you happy. Yet by the same token, I don't want to lie to you."
"But that doesn't make any sense," I said, climbing down to kneel in front of him. "If you feel something for me, and you want it to be love, who's to say it isn't?"
"I'm afraid I can't choose how I feel. If it were, I would recognize it and tell you," he assured me. "Perhaps…a demon simply isn't meant to love."
"Or maybe it's just you," I muttered. He frowned at those words, seeming almost insulted. "Not because of who you are, I just mean… Think about it. If you were in love with me, I would have to be the most important person in your life. But that position's already taken by your little master."
"Surely you don't still think that I—"
"No, I don't. I know you don't feel that way about him," I said, shaking my head. My fingers laced in with his and brought his hand up to touch my cheek. "But you've already shown that he's your top priority, no matter what. If you loved me…that might be compromised…" I really hated to admit this, but it almost made sense that way. And that meant that as long as he was contracted to that kid, he couldn't be completely mine. Who knew how long that would be! And even once he was free of the little brat, would he be able to stay with me? I just didn't know. Letting out a resigned sigh, I snuggled up against him.
"That must be it. But at least I know you would love me if you could," I mumbled, kissing his neck once.
"Then…are you still leaving?" he asked, running his fingertips gently along my back.
"Do you want me to stay?" I purred, glad he was finally admitting feelings for me. Even if it wasn't quite what I wanted…I didn't have to wonder anymore.
"I want you to come home with us. With me." He never said such affectionate, sweet things! Ooh, I liked this new development!
"Mm. If that's what you want, darling…that's what I want."