Lesson Twenty-Four: Girls are Scary
Ciel and Sebastian sat together on the bench, wordlessly. Every now and then Ciel would sneeze or sniffle – it was that damned cat sitting in Sebastian's lap – but he decided to bear with it. He reassured himself that this was still marginally better than lying in the guest bed staring at an unfamiliar ceiling.
Eventually, the cat hopped off Sebastian and tottered away under some bushes. Ciel glanced at the Host Club leader out of curiosity, peppered with just a bit of guilt. "Sorry. I guess she didn't like me being the third wheel."
Sebastian chuckled. "Quite the contrary, it looks as though she felt that she was being the third wheel."
Another blush. "D-d-don't joke around like that,"
"As you wish."
"Well, since you're not up to anything interesting, I guess I'll go back to my room now."
His upperclassman looked over at him and smiled. It was, Ciel noticed, one of Sebastian's rare warm, amiable smiles – not at all like all the other devious grins and condescending smirks he'd seen. It was a nice change.
"Thank you for keeping me company, little master."
Maylene gently woke him the next morning to let him know that breakfast would be served in half an hour. He didn't know what it was exactly, but every time he conversed with one of those three servants, he felt something tug at his heart. It made him want to cry, though he'd never allow himself the luxury.
The remainder of the day was spent at a leisurely pace. Ciel volunteered to help Maylene with her chores around the house, an offer that she welcomed – he was promptly given a bucket and mop and was put straight to work. Together, he and the maid managed to clean the lower storey although admittedly, and much to Ciel's frustration, neither of them had done a very good job of it. Ultimately, it was Sebastian who had to step in and supervise the two with their work. The earl wondered if it was always Sebastian who ended up doing all the cleaning in the end.
Later on in the afternoon, Finnian invited Ciel to lend a hand tidying the garden, for the trees had shed their leaves with little regard for where they landed. After having whittled away his morning dusting shelves and mopping floors, a few hours labouring in the garden did not sound too enticing, but Ciel agreed anyway, for old time's sake.
From the way Finnian haphazardly swung his rake around and the way he stopped to talk to any small creature he saw, it was apparent that this seemed less like work to him, and more like a day off. The grey-haired boy grumbled and griped as he picked up after the gardener, but it was difficult not to smile at the boy's enthusiasm for his job. They completed the task just as the sun began to go down, and retreated back inside in time to watch the blush-red sunset whilst sipping the hot chocolate Bard had made for everyone. Even Mr. Snake had slipped in quietly to join them. Ciel settled into the couch in which he sat, listening to the servants chatter away with their young master. If he had been none the wiser, he would've thought they were a family, rather than the young master of the house and his parents' employees.
A casual dinner was served that night – it was about as average as all Bard's other dishes, Ciel recalled. However, their dessert of poached apple drizzled with toffee sauce and hazelnut cookie pieces was truly memorable. Judging from the smug grin on Sebastian's face as Ciel cleared his plate, the boy presumed it was this neighbour of his who prepared it.
"Was dessert to your liking, little master?"
"It was passable," replied Ciel, trying not to give himself away too much.
Sebastian sighed. "Only passable? In that case, perhaps I shan't bother in the future."
The sudden response caused Ciel to rise from his seat. "What do you mean? There's no need to—"
His nervous splutter was cut short by the dining room door swinging open violently, and Mr. Snake marching into the room, looking shaken and somewhat sicklier than usual.
"M-master Sebastian," he started, "There's trouble."
After him, Bardroy hurried in, looking even more panicked than his colleague.
"It's a code lilac, sir!"
At that, Sebastian, too, rose from his seat. "That was rather unexpected."
The cook nodded in agreement. "Yes, she's getting clever. She's at the door as we speak."
Surveying the table, and sparing Ciel a brief glance, Sebastian returned his attention to the servants. "This won't do. Clear the table, and make sure you lock the guest room. Master Ciel and I will head to the bunker."
Ciel gulped. "The… bunker?"
Without paying heed to any of his questions or complaints, Ciel had been shepherded by Sebastian through the dining room's side door, out to what he recognised to be the secondary hallway. About a third of the way down, Finnian awaited them, with a duvet and pillows, and several large cardboard boxes at his feet.
"I'm sorry, Young Master Sebastian!" he said, bowing slightly, "Since it was so unexpected, I didn't have time to prepare the bunker for you."
"That's quite alright, Finny." the black-haired one replied.
The gardener bowed again and opened the small door he stood by. "We'll contact you when the coast is clear."
Craning his neck, Ciel peered in and realised that he was looking into a poky little cleaning cupboard. There was barely any room to stand, so what on earth was Finnian planning to do with all the things at his feet? He watched Sebastian enter the cupboard, and shuffle around a few brooms and mops propped against a side wall. To his bewilderment, there was a tiny parting in the wall that swung open to reveal a short flight of steps. This weekend just kept getting stranger and stranger.
Sebastian backed out again and gently placed a hand on Ciel's shoulder. "After you."
Too puzzled to argue, Ciel simply stepped inside and descended the stairs. Finnian and his upperclassman followed, carrying the boxes with them.
The stairs led to a simple bedroom with white walls and a plain wooden floor, with barely enough room to walk around comfortably in. It contained nothing but the essentials – a small bed, a lamp, a sink, and a toilet tucked away in a cramped little nook, behind a flimsy door that looked like it had been fitted as an afterthought. Ciel watched vacantly as Finnian bowed again and took his leave, returning up the steps and gently closing the door. He distantly heard the sound of the blonde boy rearranging the mops and brooms to cover the wall again, before closing the cupboard door. Sebastian calmly followed up by taking a metal pipe that had been on the ground and sliding it through a pair of fixtures on either side of the door, ensuring that it could not be opened from the outside.
Seemingly oblivious to Ciel's presence, Sebastian unpacked the boxes – full of bedding, bottles of water, some food, and books – and started to make the bed.
"Sebastian," pressed Ciel again, "Tell me what the hell is going on!"
The addressed looked up from his work. "It'd be best if you kept your voice down for the time being. We don't know if she may be close by."
"Who is 'she'?" fumed the boy.
"She is a young lady I once met at a dinner party,"
The earl threw his hands up in exasperation. "Is that all it is? If I'd known it was something this absurd, I would've—"
Sebastian pulled him by the wrist and covered his mouth using his free hand, and dragged him down to crouch behind the bed. All of Ciel's rage dissipated when he heard the muffled screech of the aforementioned young lady.
"WHERE IS HE? I DEMAND TO SEE HIM!"
"As I've told you, Miss," that was Maylene and her raspy voice, "The young master is still away at school. He will not return till the end of the year."
"I WAS NEVER INFORMED OF THIS. HE NEVER COMES OUT TO SEE ME, EVEN WHEN HE'S HOME. HE DOESN'T REPLY TO MY TEXTS OR EMAILS AND HE NEVER RETURNS MY CALLS. I MUST SEE HIM RIGHT NOW."
"I'm sorry, Miss, but he isn't here right now. If you'd return to the sitting room, we may be able to try to contact him for you!"
That statement seemed to appease the ranting girl, if only temporarily. The sound of footsteps passing down the hall was a sign that the two could relax again.
Ciel exhaled. "Oh my god…"
"What did you do to the poor girl to have her stoop to this level?"
The comment was awarded with a sidelong glance. "Stoop, you say?"
The earl cleared this throat and folded his arms. "Well, of course. Any girl who falls for you has stooped unspeakably low by human standards."
Sebastian let out a low chuckle. "I see," he said, sitting up straight, "Then to answer your question, I did naught to that 'poor girl'. As a matter of fact, it was she who walked into me that night at the dinner party, and she happened to drop her glass in the process. I merely helped pick up the shards and clean the wine that'd been spilled, just as any decent person might do."
"And that's all. I'm uncertain how she did it, but somehow, the young lady managed to acquire the address of my family home, as well as my personal contact details. Because she began making these visits of hers, the servants and I saw fit to construct this room for my personal safety."
All of a sudden, Ciel felt just the tiniest twinge of pity for the Host Club leader. It seemed as though Sebastian's good looks and charisma could be both a blessing and a curse. But wait, Ciel thought as he wrinkled his brow, he didn't just say that Sebastian was good-looking, did he? No, never. And besides, Sebastian's stalker problem was none of his concern in the first place – he was simply a bystander.
"What am I doing here then?" he challenged, "I don't have anything to do with this mess, so why do I have to be stuck in this stuffy room with you?"
By now, Sebastian had hunched over and was pinching the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefinger. He sighed desolately, a sound that was foreign to Ciel's ears. "It is quite the contrary, little master. If she happens to see you here, then you too will be in danger."
Ciel eyed Sebastian doubtfully. "Really…?"
"Yes, little master, really. In the interest of safety I recommend that you remain here – if you happen to venture outside the servants and I may not be able to protect you."
The grey-haired boy shrugged. "What could that girl possibly do to me?"
Sebastian's expression was unfaltering. "She's not the sort of person who'd hesitate to tear a person to shreds, eat them alive, gauge out their eye or steal their soul, amongst other unpleasant things. One cannot put such things past a lady who is capable of swallowing swords and attaining my personal information."
"Why?" was all Ciel could say, still taking in the horrid things Sebastian had just mentioned.
"Because she would be jealous, seeing you with me."
He grumbled. "This isn't the time to be joking around with that B.L. rubbish."
In reply, his red-eyed neighbour merely laughed.
For the next hour or so, Ciel occupied himself by sifting through the contents of the boxes that Finnian had provided; books, snacks, towels, toiletries. The boy had even thrown in a GameGuy Advance and a few games to play on it, all produced by Funtom, Ciel noticed with amusement.
Judging by how well prepared they were, it seemed that this young lady paid rather frequent visits to the Michaelis household. He spared Sebastian a quick glance; the older boy was not daunted by this situation in the least and was sitting quietly on the bed, reading a book. Ciel had to admit that his neighbour's ability to stay calm and collected was most impressive. The way he leaned back against the headboard of the bed, shoulders relaxed and face serene, one would never have guessed that he was hiding from a murderous stalker girl.
"Won't you sit on the bed, little master? The floor mustn't be all too comfortable." said Sebastian, and then, "It is also rather impolite to stare."
The boy hadn't realised he'd been staring at all. A blush coloured his cheeks, as it always did whenever he was around the older one. He snatched the GameGuy Advance from the box and leapt onto the bed, not daring to look at Sebastian again. To be honest, the ground was beginning to get rather cold.
"How long do you normally have to stay down here?"
"In most cases, the young lady takes her leave after two hours. Often I find myself short of time to finish the books Finnian provides."
That was a relief. Ciel could probably make it through another hour without too much trouble. He shuffled into a more comfortable position on the bed, sitting opposite Sebastian (since it would have been far too awkward to sit right beside him).
Half an hour had passed since Ciel began to play. Every five minutes or so, he'd check his watch. Time seemed to tick by a lot slower now that he was waiting. He had fidgeted and squirmed, sat up, laid down, on his back and on his stomach, all out of anxiety and impatience. Sebastian, on the other hand, was unmoving, until his phone began to vibrate next to him on the bed. Ciel perked up and strained his ears.
"Hello? Yes, Bardroy."
In the dead silence, Bard's voice could be heard quite clearly despite Ciel sitting at the other end of the bed.
"She's not going anywhere, Young Master Sebastian," the cook hissed, "She said she won't leave until you come out to meet her."
Sebastian rubbed his temples with his free hand. "Is that so? Well, then, I suppose it cannot be helped. I shall have to—"
"No, Young Master!" protested Bard, "We can't let you risk your life like that! Finny and May are distracting her right now. We'll just have to wait it out."
"Ah, is that so?"
Ciel didn't like the direction in which this conversation was heading.
"Yes, sir. You and Master Phantomhive have to stay put at least until tomorrow morning. I'll call you again then to update you."
"Thank you, Bardroy. My apologies to you and the others for the inconvenience."
"Don't mention it. You guys just take care of each other, 'kay?"
"Yes, I understand."
With that, Sebastian ended the call.
The earl was quick to object to the plan of action. "What do you mean tomorrow morning? I can't possibly be spending the night here! And with somebody like you, even! This is a load of crap!"
Sebastian closed the book he'd been reading and sat upright. "Is it such a chore to have to be in a room with me for one night, little master?"
"W-well…" Ciel hesitated. He was caught out by the seriousness with which Sebastian had asked the question. That insufferable jerk always made him tongue-tied. He cleared his throat. "First of all, I don't want to get changed in front of you. And second, there's only one bed."
The older boy smiled. "It would not bother me at all to turn around whilst you change, and to sleep on the floor, if that it what you wish."
Sure enough, Sebastian had turned around and busied himself with his book in order to let Ciel change into some baggy pyjama pants and a loose-fitting t-shirt, and to take off his silk eye-patch and replace it with a disposable one. Then, as the earl brushed his teeth and washed his face, he prepared a makeshift bed on the floor using the extra comforters and duvets he found in the boxes. Ciel was mildly surprised by the fact that he had done exactly what he said he'd do, and he felt rather guilty as he climbed into bed. The fact that it was so cosy and warm under the covers made him feel worse.
"Now, may I ask that you avert your gaze, little master? I can't imagine that you'd be interested in watching me undress."
Snapping back to reality, Ciel whipped his head away quickly and tried to concentrate on a tiny speck in the corner of the ceiling. Soon enough, however, his eye trained upon his roommate for the night. This was perhaps the first time Ciel had ever seen Sebastian like this. Despite being the insufferable douchebag he was, Sebastian had always maintained a modest dress code. He never took his shirt off in front of anybody, including the Host Club members, not even during their trip to the beach. Now, somewhat unintentionally (or so he told himself), Ciel caught a glimpse of Sebastian's naked back out of the corner of his eye. His skin wasn't dark, but at the same time not pallid, and he was lean, but still toned. He stretched his arms a little, and Ciel watched as jet-black hair brushed against the nape of his neck and as shoulder blades moved beneath the skin of his bare back, just before a plain white shirt hid it from view once again. When Sebastian began to undo the zipper of his trousers, the young earl decided he couldn't watch any longer and faced the wall, shutting his eye tightly.
After washing up, Sebastian switched off the main light, leaving the lamp on, and got into his own bed-of-sorts. He bid Ciel a good night before laying his head on his pillow, and for a while, it seemed as though they would both be drifting off to sleep. That was until Ciel broke the silence.
"Sebastian," he said, voice muffled by the duvet, "Y-you can… you can sleep on the bed too, if you want."
His upperclassman opened his eyes. "Thank you, little master, but I wouldn't want to intrude."
"N-no!" Ciel replied, maybe too enthusiastically, "I mean… it's not like it's a big deal. I just don't want you to complain that I forced you to sleep on the floor later."
Sebastian rose from his almost-bed. "My, the little master thinks so highly of me," he said cheerfully, albeit sarcastically, and sat on the proper bed next to his one-eyed neighbour.
The black-haired one looked at him, puzzled, "I beg your pardon?"
"I said, youcangetunderthecovers." Ciel squeaked before hastily turning his back to the Host Club leader.
Once more, Sebastian obliged. "Thank you for your most kind offer."
"Sure," he replied as offhandedly as he could, and then a few seconds later, "I hope the others are okay."
"I have no doubts that they're more than capable of handling this situation." Sebastian said reassuringly. He turned onto his side, facing Ciel, and propped his head up in his hand. "Actually, I was surprised to learn that you've been previously acquainted with my servants."
In response to this, Ciel rolled onto his back. "Yeah, they saved my life. After my parents were killed, their murderers destroyed our home and took me away, probably wanting to silence me. I managed to escape though, and when I was found, I was taken to hospital and then put into foster care. It's ironic, but it turned out that my foster parents were almost as terrible as my kidnappers, so I ran away again. I think I was trying to steal food from a grocer when Maylene found me. God knows what possessed her to take me in, but she did, and that was that. It wasn't till later on that my aunt found me and took me to live with her."
"I was not aware," Sebastian said quietly, just before silence could saturate the room.
Ciel scrunched his nose. "Most people only know about the first part and the last part. They have no idea about what happened in between. Rather, they probably don't care."
He never looked away from the ceiling, but in his peripheral vision Ciel noticed a melancholic expression appear and disappear from Sebastian's face. He felt the latter's hand move up to tenderly ruffle his hair, but he made no objection to the gesture, instead sighing at how consoling it was.
Then, smiling as he usually did, Sebastian whispered two words that caught Ciel completely off-guard.
The boy looked over at his upperclassman, perhaps because he wasn't sure if he'd heard correctly, or because maybe, deep down, that was what he wanted to hear. Regardless of the reason, before Ciel knew it, Sebastian had leaned in and planted a gentle kiss upon his forehead.
He blinked a few times, his brain unable to process what had just happened. The moment was short-lived though, as Sebastian sat bolt upright, his confusion and embarrassment levels seemingly on par with Ciel's. Neither of them made eye contact after that, and the flustered Sebastian managed to utter a quiet 'I'm sorry' as he lay down and turned away. Ciel turned too, so that their backs were all but pressed against each other.
"Whatever," he said sternly, "But you're gonna promise me that you won't mention any of this to anybody else."
"You have my word."
"Anyway, I'm gonna sleep." the boy added, this time without his previous harsh tone, "Good night, Sebastian."
The addressed closed his eyes, "Good night, little master."
Ciel awoke to the sound of Sebastian's phone vibrating again. He wasn't sure how long they'd both slept, but he noticed that Sebastian had faced away from him the entire night, whereas Ciel himself, on the other hand, had rolled over in his sleep so that he was curled up, awkwardly enough, against the other's back. He hastily straightened himself out as he sensed Sebastian reaching for the phone to answer it.
"Hello? Oh, Snake. Speak clearly, won't you? Oh? I understand. Thank you."
In order to make himself feel less awkward, Ciel yawned loudly and said, "So, what was that all about?"
His neighbour slowly slid up from beneath the covers and propped himself up against the headboard, running a hand through his ebony hair and then tiredly rubbing his eyes. Somehow, Ciel could never imagine what Sebastian would look like upon waking in the morning. He'd always assumed that the older boy simply got out of bed looking picture perfect as usual. It was sort of nice to see that Sebastian was human, too.
"Snake says they've resolved the threat. It's safe to go out now."
The Michaelis household's servants had successfully gotten rid of the young woman, but Ciel judged from the state of the manor that she didn't leave without putting up a fight. Furniture had been strewn around, wallpaper torn, and decorative objects, probably worth several hundred dollars, had been smashed to pieces. Looking out the window, he realised that not even the gardens had been spared, as he gazed upon uprooted plants and smashed terracotta pots. Sebastian was right about that girl – she was certainly a force to be reckoned with. He didn't want to think about how much the reparations would cost.
As he went to wash up before breakfast, Ciel spotted a message violently scrawled on the bathroom mirror using pale lilac lipstick;
My darling Sebastian,
I'll get you next time.
The grey-haired boy shuddered and went to find another bathroom to use.
With that, an interesting long weekend had drawn to a close. Ciel, now dressed in a blue jacket and androgynously tight jeans, stood in the foyer with Maylene, as Finny helped Snake load the car and Bard just loitered around in general. They had left Sebastian to his own devices.
"Thank you for having me this weekend," Ciel said to the girl, smiling.
"Not at all, Master Phantomhive!" she exclaimed, "I'm sorry you had to get tangled up in last night's commotion."
He shook his head. "Some things can't be helped."
Maylene straightened her glasses. "All that aside, it's been wonderful to finally see you again. Now Bard and Finny and I can have peace of mind knowing that our young master is taking care of you."
"You guys really admire that guy, don't you?" said Ciel, holding back a sardonic grin upon hearing the words 'taking care'.
The maid blushed and wrung her apron between her fingers nervously. "W-well of c-c-course I admire… I mean… w-we admire him! H-he's our young m-m-master!"
"It's fine, May," Ciel replied sweetly, "Sebastian has a way with the ladies – it's only natural that you'd have a thing for him."
She looked at him gingerly, her cheeks not becoming any less rosy. "Well, yes," her voice lowered, and she continued so quietly that Ciel struggled to hear her, "Even if I did have a thing for him, I'd never have a chance with him, not just because I'm his maid, but also because the Young Master is–"
"Is what, Maylene?"
Ciel and Maylene looked up to find Sebastian standing before them, dressed in a coat, ready to depart. A composed grin graced his lips as per usual.
As if on cue, Snake then opened the front door and invited the students into the car. Ciel bid a last farewell to Bard, Finnian and Maylene, but not before promising to visit them again and having the life strangled out of him in a group hug. His heart felt heavy as he got into the car and waved to the group one final time. The last couple of days felt so surreal and dreamlike, it was difficult to believe that they were a mere car ride away from returning to real life.
He put his wig on when they were a few minutes away from Stoneleigh Park Academy. It was a task that he wanted to leave till the very last minute. They pulled up to the gates of the main entrance, and Snake quietly opened the door for Sebastian and Ciel. As he drove away again, Sebastian walked a few steps with Ciel, and then stopped.
"Will you be able to see yourself to your suite, little mistress?" he inquired.
Ciel looked back at him, puzzled, but he nodded anyway. "That's fine. Do you have to be somewhere?"
"I just remembered that I must pay a visit to the Careers Advisor. Perhaps I'll see you later?"
With that, they parted ways, and Ciel mentally reeled when it dawned upon him that he still had no idea what went on in Sebastian's head, what his background was, not even what his parents did for a living. He hadn't made any progress whatsoever. He ground his teeth during his entire walk back to his room.
When he arrived at his suite, he threw his bag onto the floor in annoyance, only to see a few leaves of paper fall out from the bag's unzipped front pocket. Funny, he didn't remember those being there. Picking them up, there was no stopping the smile that spread across his face. They were photographs, apparently taken by Bardroy, of Ciel helping Maylene and Finnian perform their respective chores, and one self-shot of the cook, with the rest of them in the background, watching the sun set. Ciel hadn't even noticed that he'd been photographed.
He sighed and held the photos close to his chest. It was no big deal that he knew almost nothing about his neighbour – he was simply content in knowing that, because of this neighbour of his, he was able to meet those three again.
Placing the photographs on his desk, the thought that Ciel had been trying not to think all these months finally started to sink in; maybe, just maybe, Sebastian wasn't such an awful guy after all.
A/N: OMG AN UPDATE WHAT IS THIS SORCERY. Heheh, actually I was so filled with inspiration when writing Lesson 23 that my inspiration just bled into Lesson 24, so to speak.
No guesses as to who Sebastian's stalker is. xD This is the only time I feel comfortable making a canon character act relatively out-of-character. Someone had to play the part of the rabid Sebastian fangirl.
In the last Lesson, someone asked me a couple of questions. I'm not sure who I should address this to, as they did not leave a name, but they asked:
1. Whether or not Sebastian is a demon in this fanfic;
2. What is really going on with Ciel's eye.
And here are my answers:
1. No, Sebastian is not a demon in this fanfic. He is merely one hell of a Host Club leader. xD
2. I haven't mentioned Ciel's eye much, I know, and I'm really sorry! But it will be explained in a later chapter. You know what he's like – he'd never tell anyone such a deep dark secret until he's caught in a moment of emotional weakness or something like that.
As always, leave me a review and I'll make sure to attempt to answer any questions you may have!