Spoilers: Characters that are both manga-only and anime-only will crop-up, so SPOILERS for both, even though this is an AU. Especially for the Circus Arc of the manga.
Pairing: Sebastian x Ciel. Some Agni x Soma.
Warnings: M/M, possible OOCness due to AU setting, mental and physical abuse, evil staff, angsty pasts, and Alois. Kid needs a warning all of his own.
Summary: If everyone believes you mad but yourself, who is the one in the wrong? Ciel Phantomhive, patient D18, is not mad. Sebastian Michaelis, new warden at St. Victoria Asylum, agrees. Sebastian x Ciel, AU.
Disclaimer: Yana Toboso is my God. I own nothing.
Dust billowed in the scorching air, the sun raining down mercilessly upon the packed dig site. The archaeologists sped around from section to section of the small land, the excitement positively tangible. Every person on the site was grinning from ear to ear as discovery after discovery was unearthed, and each of their pay-cheques got that little bit fatter.
All except for one.
Sebastian Michaelis was bored.
Sebastian Michaelis, the man who was single-handedly unearthing each of the awe-inspiring discoveries, was bored.
Sebastian Michaelis, who may very well have become a millionaire over the last three weeks, was so mind-numbingly bored that the second his watch alarm went off signalling the end of his shift, he cast aside his brushes and left the dig site without a single look back.
He'd been so excited, at first. Archaeology, something he'd never tried his hand at before, something new, something interesting... for the first five minutes. Digging all day under the hot desert sun, being choked with dust and debris, all over some poxy little bones that belonged to some ancient three-legged rat that obviously hadn't been able to run fast enough.
As you may have guessed, for Sebastian Michaelis, the novelty wore off fast.
That was true for any job the man had ever had, however.
His first job, fresh from high school and rearing to go, had been a simple shop clerk role. A nine to five kind of thing. Getting tired of that was perfectly reasonable, especially for a man of many talents such as him. He found out early in life that he could get pretty much any job he wanted as soon as his application was seen. Unfortunately, every job he wanted tended to get tedious awfully fast. Builder, plumber, blacksmith, lion tamer, waiter, candlestick maker, nothing could keep him interested, and as soon as he felt even a smidgen of boredom, his two weeks notice was handed in. Usually met with sobbing and begs of not leaving, but handed in none-the-less.
Sebastian fancied he'd discovered his problem. Every job he was going for was too flashy, too obvious. He hated flashy, he hated obvious. So, desperation seeping in, Sebastian went to the most level-headed person he knew.
Agni and he went way back. They'd met in high school, become fast friends and even went to college together, sharing a dorm room. Then Agni had gotten some obscure job and disappeared off the face of the planet. Luckily, he still sent annual Christmas cards to Sebastian, rather cute considering he didn't even celebrate the holiday, and had given an address.
It had only taken a week to hear back from St. Victoria's Hospital, though that didn't surprise Sebastian, and within two days he'd packed up his life from the small Soho apartment and was on a plane to England.
"Mr. Sebastian Michaelis?"
Stepping out of the airport, Sebastian looked for the source of the voice, and met the eyes of a tall, tan woman waving him over.
"That's me." He gave his usual charming smile, amused but not surprised as pink flooded her cheeks. She offered her hand.
"My name is Hannah Anafeloz, I'm a nurse at St. Victoria's. I've come to pick you up," she stated meekly, as though reciting a well-practised line, eyes looking everywhere but at his. Sebastian shook her hand, holding on to it for longer than necessary if only to see her squirm, before she led him towards her car.
The ride from central London to whatever obscure location the hospital was at was more exhausting than the plane ride. Endless fields of green and sheep darted by the window for three hours straight, like the animation budget had run out, and Hannah was apparently incapable of driving a car and conversing at the same time, two mangled fences and a missing wing-mirror evidence to that. This job wasn't shaping up to being a boredom-killer so far, though that may have just been England's influence. He'd always found the country rather lacking in excitement.
He must have dozed off at some point, one minute the sun barely risen and the next it was high in the sky, noon.
"We're here, Mr. Michaelis," Hannah said, climbing out of the car. Blearily rubbing the sleep from his eyes, Sebastian got out of the car too, almost treading on a spectacularly small man under his feet. He apologised, catching himself before he stumbled, but the little man just chuckled, grasping Sebastian's hand tightly.
"Welcome to St. Victoria's, Mr. Michaelis. I am Tanaka, one of the Chairmen of the Institute."
"A pleasure to meet you, Mr. Tanaka. Thank you for taking me on so quickly. I won't let you down," the usual speech, Sebastian almost struggling to actually make it sound sincere. Tanaka's grip on his hand tightened almost painfully.
"Letting me down will get you killed, I'm afraid, so make sure you don't," he chortled before tottering towards the big oak doors. Sebastian wasn't sure whether to laugh or not. Was that a joke?
"I apologise over the mysteriousness of the situation, Mr. Michaelis. Standard procedure, I'm sure you understand. You will be living in this building, an old dormitory, with the other members of staff. I'll show you to your lodgings first, then a tour of the place seems fitting, hmm?"
It was a question, but Sebastian was pretty sure he wasn't supposed to give an answer.
The building was like some horror-movie cliché, with it's long draughty hallways, dark and dreary colours, everything coated in dust and looking like it hadn't been touched since the Victorian ages.
Working here was becoming less and less appealing. Sure, he'd been looking for something unflashy and unobvious, but this was just ridiculous.
A dozen hallways and several flights of stairs later, the two came to a stop.
"This is your room. We supply the necessities, any luxuries you'll have to acquire yourself. Unfortunately the rooms are adjoined, but I doubt you'll have to worry about anything. We're all respectful of privacy here."
Tanaka dropped a key into Sebastian's palm.
"Inside you'll find your key-pass. With it, you'll be able to open any door in the institute, though bear in mind that all uses of it are recorded by the system."
Sebastian nodded, luckily taking in the information load.
"There's something I need to attend to for a little while, so why don't you get to know your colleagues? I'll be back shortly."
As soon as the little man tottered off, Sebastian entered his room, and blanched.
Well, it certainly wasn't The Plaza, that was for sure.
No bigger than the closet back at his old apartment, the room was bare apart from the rickety-looking desk, god-only-knows how old bed and minuscule cupboard. The faded wallpaper was torn in more places that in wasn't, revealing petrified wood. There were two other doors besides the one he'd come in through, presumably to his colleagues' rooms, and Sebastian noted that neither appeared to have a lock on them.
What was that Tanaka had said about privacy?
With a sigh, he resigned himself to his fate, and begun unpacking the bags that had somehow beaten him to the room. Being a traveller, Sebastian never really bothered with 'luxuries' as the man called them, taking only things like clothes. He had a few random books too, but apart from those, he was travelling lightly this time. A good thing, considering how little room he had to work with here.
It didn't take him long to get settled into the room, little over a half hour, so bracing himself for the worst, Sebastian knocked on the closest of the two doors.
The worst was exactly what he got.
No sooner had his fist met the wood did the door swing open, and if Sebastian had been a man with slower reflexes, he'd have been minus a head.
Crimson eyes wide, Sebastian turned to look at the thing impaled in his wall, mouth opening in surprise. A knife?
"You must be the new person," a sharp voice noted from inside the other room, footsteps coming towards the open door.
A man not much shorter than him strode into the room, striking hazel eyes fixing him with a glare. He plucked the embedded knife from the wall with ease, using the blade to push his glasses up the bridge of his nose.
Sebastian blinked at the expectant man, weighing the chances of losing a digit if he offered his hand.
"Yes, I'm Sebastian Michaelis. You are?" He tried not to sound shirty, but the guy had nearly done a Sweeney Todd on him. Not exactly a great first impression.
Apparently he wasn't making a great one either, as the man's eyes narrowed further.
"William T. Spears. You may call me Mr. Spears. Now that the pleasantries are over," Sebastian really didn't want to see the man when he was being unpleasant then, "there are some ground rules you need to make yourself familiar with. Firstly, you do not enter my room. Don't even knock. Secondly, you do not touch my things. I do not like people touching my things. Thirdly, on the chance that the two of us have a shift together, you will arrive at the exact time specified. I do not like to be made to wait. Fourthly-"
"Geez, Will~ Which poor unfortunate are you lecturing now?" Another voice cut through the rant, a very unwelcome one if the look on Mr. Spears', Will's, face was any indication.
"I am not lecturing! Merely making myself clear to avoid any unnecessary disputes," Will snapped to the redhead sauntering into the room through the other door.
The complete opposite to Will, the new man... woman... person flashed Sebastian a grin. Not so much a welcome to the neighbourhood! grin as a sleep with one eye open! one. Flaming red hair fell to their waist, matching the rest of the red they were wearing, and not that Sebastian was one to judge, but somehow he doubted that their hair was all that was flaming. It may have had something to do with the way the man, definite lack of a rack there, swung his hips as he walked, or tossed his hair over his shoulder, or punctuated each statement he made with a wink.
Or it may have been the ass-pinching.
Yeah, probably the ass-pinching.
Before Sebastian had a chance to punch the guy into next week, he danced out of the way with a giggle.
"Ooh, fresh meat! And a handsome bit at that~ How do you do, I'm Grell Sutcliffe, and if you need anything, and I mean anything, just ask."
Twitching at the blatant come-on, Sebastian plastered on his business smile.
"Thank you, Mr. Sutcliffe, I'll bear that in mind-"
"Oh please, Sebby, just Grell is fine!"
"...Alright. Grell. I prefer to be called Sebasti-"
"Ooh! I'll introduce you to the others!"
Sebastian could almost see the sheer amount of punctuation marks as the other spoke.
Before he could decline, Grell had attached himself to Sebastian's arm and was pulling him out of the room with a lot more strength than he looked to have.
It took all of five minutes for the annoyance with Grell that would last Sebastian's entire stay at St. Victoria's to be borne. It took the same amount of time for Grell to decide that he wanted Sebby to be his babies' daddy, despite Sebastian's insistence of common sense and science.
When Grell said others, he really only meant two people, since there had only been four Orderlies to begin with. Grell, Will and Agni being three of them. The fourth was a youthful man by the name of Ronald Knox who was clad in identical glasses to Grell and Will and was too busy flirting with the receptionist to learn more than Sebastian's name. To his annoyance, the boy was calling him Sebby too.
That was going to have to stop.
Then Grell had dragged him to meet Agni.
"Sebastian!" The white-haired man had pulled him into a hug, which Sebastian returned despite Grell's pouting, beaming. "I didn't know you'd be arriving so soon!"
"The sooner the better, I figured. You look well, Agni." Sebastian smiled, a rare genuine one, as he looked over his friend. The man hadn't been faring too well the last time they'd seen each other, shortly before Agni had been hired here, exhausted and the weight dropping from him.
"Thank you. Have you found your room yet?" Agni pulled him over to a table, both ignoring Grell who was whining about being ostracised.
"Yes. I'm already unpacked. They're rather..."
"Basic? Mmm. I knew they'd be different to what you're accustomed to. You'll get used to it soon enough, though. It's just a place to rest your head, really."
"...You never mentioned in your letters that the staff were mental too."
"Oh dear. What happened?"
"Well, I was almost skewered, then violated by someone who wants me to bear his children... or he wants to bear mine... It wasn't clear. If this is what the staff are like then the patients will be a breeze."
"You haven't met the psychiatrists yet," Agni laughed.
An hour later, Sebastian could see just what Agni meant.
Tanaka had come to fetch him from the dining hall he'd been with Agni in, his business apparently taken care of, and the tour began. They left the boarding house and went to the actual building . First they'd gone to meet the Head Orderlies, Sebastian's direct superiors, and the experience was not a promising one. For reasons he couldn't pin down, Sebastian couldn't stand the two of them. They'd not so much as said their names, Ash and Angela, when Sebastian decided there was just something about the two he didn't like.
To be fair, if the looks he was getting from the two were any clue, it was a very mutual feeling.
After a tense and all together awkward induction, Sebastian was relieved to be led out of the shared office.
The next meetings weren't that bad, to be fair. Tanaka took him to the Infirmary, where he introduced him Doctor (whether that was his name or not, Sebastian had no clue, but that was all they called him). Sebastian was relieved to find that, unlike most of the staff he'd met so far, Doctor actually seemed sane, which is always a good thing. A very amiable man, confined to a wheelchair but clearly not bothered by the fact, who was very passionate about his job. Along with him were his aides, a set of triplets named Cantebury, Thompson and Timber, and Hannah, the woman who'd picked him up from the train station.
Unfortunately, the meeting after that did nothing to reaffirm Sebastian's suspicions of whether the staff were secretly patients, and this was all some big test before he actually got the job.
Tanaka took him to the psychiatrists wing of the building, informing him along the way that unfortunately the Head Psychiatrist, Claude Faustus, was with patients all afternoon, and sent his greetings.
There were three other psychiatrists, however.
The first was a man by the name Charles Grey. He was a boyish-looking man, with a plastered on smile and a sharp, if not rather sarcastic, wit. Their entire meeting he'd been grinning, yet somehow managing to still look at him like he was a bug crawling along the man's freshly-cleaned floor.
One of the other men was also called Charles, Charles Phipps. Apparently they went by their last names to avoid confusion. He was polar-opposite to the other Charles, tall where the other was small, quiet where the other was loud, stoic where the other was hot-tempered.
The third and final person was probably the oddest of them all. Barely looking old enough to be out of school, never mind working at an asylum, John Brown was a middle-ground between Grey and Phipps. Calm, though not exactly poker-faced, and seemingly very polite. At least until the handpuppet came out. The handpuppet, apparently called Albert, that, according to John, had taken a very big dislike to Sebastian, and constantly insulted him the entire time he was in the office.
The staff sanity debate aside, Sebastian was more than a little concerned that people's mental health were in the hands of those three. He could only hope that Claude Faustus had more marbles rolling around in his head than them.
Relief flooding through him when Tanaka told him that the tour was pretty much over lasted as long as it took for the explosion beneath them to hit.
"Ah! Of course! I almost forgot to introduce you to our chef."
If that wasn't foreboding, Sebastian didn't know what was.
When they got down to the kitchens, they were on fire, but this didn't seem to be anything new. A tall man coated in ash was wrestling with a fire extinguisher, cursing loudly as he tried to pry the nozzle free.
"Bardroy? Have you got a minute?" Tanaka asked as though there wasn't a raging fire where Sebastian was pretty sure an oven was supposed to be and... was that a flame-thrower in the corner? That explained so much yet so little.
The man, Bardroy, looked up from his battle with the inanimate object and flashed them a grin, cigarette hanging loosely from his mouth.
"Sure thing, boss! What's up?"
"I'd like to introduce you to our new member of staff, Sebastian Michaelis. He'll be joining the Orderlies. Mr. Michaelis, this is Bardroy, the Institute's Chef."
"Hey! Nice to meetcha, Sebastian. Call me Bard, everyone does," the ash-coated blond said, outstretching his hand. Sebastian accepted the hand, returning the man's smile.
"A pleasure, Bard."
"B-Bard! The alarms going off!" a high-pitched voice exclaimed, a redheaded woman stumbling into the room. A petit blond boy jogged after her, blue eyes wide.
"Whoa, big fire today."
Sebastian cocked a brow. So this was a daily occurrence?
"Good timing. Guys, this is Sebastian, the new blood. Sebastian, this is Finny, the Gardener, and Meirin, the Housekeeper."
The little blond, Finny, beamed. Meirin, on the other hand, took one look at Sebastian, all the blood in her body rushing to her face, and promptly collapsed.
Watching the commotion going on in front of him, Bard resuming his battle with the fire extinguisher as said fire continued to blaze, Finny prodding the unconscious woman, and Tanaka watching on with a chuckle, Sebastian decided that he'd been right before. If the staff were like this, how bad could the patients be?