pyrrhic victory.

Disclaimers: I do not own.

Ratings/Warnings: T+; slight to direct references of sexual situations/activities, abuse, and emotional games.

A/N: Merry Christmas in advance, everyone. Enjoy.

All persecute or are persecuted, but fate persecutes all.

pyrrhic victory.

To be pure, without sin, without prowess—to be untainted and perfect. Nubility. Innocence. Chastity. These things were not his own. He was well aware of the definitions and destructions of such, the incredible esteem with which they were held and the severe means taken to attain them—but these birth-given graces were no longer his.

Once upon a time, there was an evil troll. He lived under a bridge and liked to eat little children.

Black-tipped fingers, popping the custom buttons on his suitcoats and ripping all the seams of his inhibitions, worming in to finger his heart and stir his emotions in ways that even he, Ciel Phantomhive, was not equipped to defer.

And with decorous and melodramatic indifference, he'd take notice of Sebastian's hints and games throughout the day, breakfast to dinner, lessons to meetings, elevenses to a peaceful afternoon, because it was to be a cold day in hell before Ciel allowed the dog of a young man—a demidevil, really—to catch him off guard and put him in an awkward situation in front of guests or business prospects, or anyone else of the public for that matter.

Sometimes he wondered if it was possible for hell to experience winter.

A little boy had to cross the bridge one day, and came across the troll.

The troll said, 'I'm gonna eat you, little boy.'

The little boy remained calm and promised, 'No, don't—I can give you something else to eat. Something sweet.'


His dignity was something Ciel liked people to notice first, along with his elegance and obvious stature, his omniscience and his power. Because those things were of great import, and if the public made note of anything about the remaining Phantomhive nobility past the tragedy and peculiarity of their surviving name, he wanted it to be his dignity that they remembered, that left the greatest impression on them.

But his dignity did not belong to him, either.

As soon as the heavy oak doors closed on the master bedroom, his dignity slipped from his grasp and he was just a little boy, masquerading as nobility, play-pretending and parading around in expensive clothes, relying on tools like innocence and instinct—or what was left thereof—just as he had when this exchange had first begun, this pyrrhic victory that repeated itself night after night, reviving memories and sensations that had, somewhere along the way, developed and changed and matured with everything else as he grew.

The troll licked his lips and said, 'You look sweet enough.'

The little boy still remained calm: 'If I give you something else to eat and you like it more, you can't eat me. You have to let me pass.'

The troll took what was offered.

If Ciel wasn't in the mood, Sebastian was slow and meticulous about it, trailing fingers and easing sighs, radiating warmth and passion as if it were a scent, playing games until the head of the household could no longer cross his legs and ignore it. And yet if Ciel was feeling cooperative, Sebastian liked to pretend that he had more important matters to take care of, and as he'd shoot down all of Ciel's attempts at subtle insults and secret seductions, there'd be a smile at the corner of his lips that Ciel knew well by now.

It wasn't that the sex was dissatisfying; in fact, it was quite pleasurable after a point. But it was the idea of what it was that haunted the act, the exchange of power as Ciel sat on the edge of his bed and let black-tipped fingers peel layer after layer off of him until it was just a naked boy, ankles crossed and fingers splayed on velvet comforters, head held high but lashes lowered, because just as his clothes, his outer layers had been stripped away and folded for the night—his pretenses, his defenses, his lies.

The velvet felt good on bare skin, Ciel found—and so did the sheets, and the smooth, worn cotton of a butler's gloves, and then the prick of a nail and the swirl of knowledgeable fingertips. And Sebastian felt good, once he forgot about the symbolism of this thing that they'd engaged in for the last two years, this moment of raw existence.

Spit-slick fingertips and flushed skin, brows drawn together with the dimples deep between them; neatly combed hair a damp, tousled mess as heads bobbed and tossed, hands ran through the locks they'd so precisely fixed just hours before. And when Sebastian climbed onto the bed, Ciel lifted away from him and pointed with a dainty sniff, and although this happened often, Sebastian still forgot to undress himself, too.

Muscles quivering with the energy buzzing in impatience, waiting to be released—coils of pleasure and shivers of delight, exploding up from places where the touch was almost unbearable. Bucking hips, racing heart, puffs of breath into the shell of an ear and moans clambering at the back of a throat but kept restrained there, as a tiny body shuddered in premature maturity. Fingers, first, sometimes, and then Sebastian's sex, hard and hot and throbbing as careful fingers eased little hips down until Ciel's buttocks brushed his thighs and he was stiff and burning inside of him. The pain reminded him of what was at stake here, control hovering just out of his reach as the mattress shifted and the blankets rustled, and hips pendulumed down into his, and Sebastian took him like he'd taken him so many times before.

It's different, he'd said once, casting the butler a look of precious disdain, a look that was meant to be kind but had come about in reproach just to maintain his dignity. Sebastian had smiled his pretty smile and chuckled at that, and when nobody was looking, he'd smoothed hair out of Ciel's eyes and pressed a gentle kiss to the corner of his temple. It's different from them.

Them. Such a simple word, and said with such deploring rancor and disgust.

When Sebastian took him, it amazed Ciel how, every time, he hit the same spot at the base of his tailbone, that spot Ciel had never known existed. A little bundle of nerves, a corner of intensity, and when Sebastian thrust hard enough, deep enough, hands beginning to hurt where they clutched his wrists, he never failed to touch that place, and usually it only took a few moments of that before Ciel made a mess.

His dignity—his control—

Catching his breath, lashes lowered on eyes heated, clouded, cognition blurred by the daze, a million different sensations spinning his head around on the comedown, chest rolling as his fingers curled in bedsheets and he tried to sit up on his elbows— His dignity, his control

Those things were the viscous sticky mess that Sebastian licked off his fingers.

'That was delicious,' the troll said once he was through. 'It was absolutely the sweetest thing I've ever had.'

The little boy smiled. 'I told you. Now, why don't you remember that the next time someone like me walks by and your stomach growls? Have a good day, Mr. Troll. Remember your promise—'

A pyrrhic victory—a victory won with great sacrifice.

Innocence and instinct, two values Ciel had never before imagined would walk so intimately, hand-in-hand.

Ever since that day, he belonged to Sebastian just as Sebastian belonged to him; he offered up his soul and suffered the signature of the contract with chin held high and blood trickling off his chin, and in redemption and in payment and in unintentional exchange for control, he'd offered Sebastian what remained of his body, and in the dank, rotten chambers somewhere in the belly of London, surrounded by blood and death and extinguished candles, Sebastian had taken the second sacrifice with a smile. Tupped him on the stone, cradled him in his pretty arms, kissed him more lovingly than any Cloaked Man Ciel had ever encountered.

Safety, and trust, and control, and all it took was to sell his dignity away with his soul.

The troll ate the child up and licked his lips.

'You should never have trusted me.'