Title: Echoes

Author: Neko-chan

Fandom: Kuroshitsuji (manga and anime)/Kuroshitsuji II

Rating: M

Warnings: Sexual content, issues of NSC, Alois

Pairings: Alois/Ciel, Claude/Alois (mostly just background and already established), Sebastian/Ciel

Summary: Ciel is stolen away from Sebastian and, in an echoing memory from the past, the Phantomhive heir is reminded of just how much he relies upon his butler.

Author's Note: Yes, Alois gets his own warning label. :D Anyway! This was originally written for the BlackButler(dot)net Thursday Crack Ficlets (the beginning of this story and Carnival were both submitted to the thread), and I was asked to continue. Thanks go to Kalina, Caladria, and mhikaru for the fact that this did end up being continued because I was going to be lazy and just leave it as-is. XD;; Of course, Echoes is dedicated to my writing partner (in crime) and best friend, mhikaru. –gnaws on-


Echoes


Royalty had their own particular way of interacting in the world—how to speak to others, how to socialize with others, how others should and would react to them in turn—and those who dealt regularly with the ruling houses of countries knew, too, just what was expected of them.

For example, a request from a royal wasn't a request at all.

It was a thinly-veiled order.

Ciel knew this, for Ciel dealt with the Queen and her various "requests" often enough—and the favors that she sometimes asked of him were always just another type of request, another type of subtle order. It was that way when the young nobleman received the letter from the Queen, requesting that Funtom Company join several other toy manufacturers in creating a summer carnival to help provide an entertaining playground for the children of England.

The Queen's Watchdog had agreed, if only because Ciel knew that he had no other choice in but saying yes; what consoled him, however, was the image that Funtom then presented to the public: a company that cared about the children it sold to, not its profits.

…which was a lie, of course, but Ciel had long ago realized that the masses were nothing but sheep, too bestial to think for themselves, driven by their basic desires—one of which, and the one that Ciel focused on for children, was greed.

In the end, the carnival had been put together and Ciel would have been happy just leaving it at that. But Sebastian, conniving, smarmy bastard that he was, had plotted against him and had made sure to question why Ciel hadn't intended on going in front of Earl Grey (who was sadistic enough as-is to be a demon himself), which of course eventually got back to Her Majesty. Sebastian would have known that Ciel would have wanted to stay away—after being manhandled by the butler on ice skates during the Frost Fair and then the issues that had arisen from the Noah's Ark Circus, who would have blamed him?—but Sebastian was Sebastian and had thus ensured that the lordling would have been placed specifically between a rock and a hard place.

And that was why Ciel currently found himself wandering the carnival's fairgrounds, unhappy scowl permanently settled upon his mouth as he practically melted beneath the sweltering July sun. It didn't even matter that Sebastian had picked out one of his cotton suits to wear: it was still incredibly hot, and Ciel could feel sweat, sticky and too-heavy, beading up from beneath the rim of his top hat. The dirt, stirred up by thousands of feet stomping along, clung to everything that it touched and when Ciel glanced down, the scowl had deepened when the boy had seen that skin, clothes, and all sported a thick layer of dust.

Ciel wanted nothing more than to take a long, cool bath and then hide himself away in his shadowed study with Funtom Company's most recent quarterly financial report.

It was as they were passing by the House of Mirrors that Ciel came to a series of thoughts:

1) It was Sebastian's fault that he was currently out in the heat.

2) The House of Mirrors was an enclosed attraction, and there was a chance that it would be much cooler within—with everything shaded from the sun—than it currently was outside.

3) In return for Sebastian's smarmy bastardness, it was only fair that Ciel led him on a wild goose chase.

With those points in mind, the young Earl gave his butler a sly smile, glancing over at the demon from the corner of his dark blue gaze. "Sebastian, I'm thirsty. I want some lemonade. Fetch me a glass."

The lemonade booth was on the opposite side of the fairgrounds from where Ciel and the butler were now: with the press of bodies around them, the wave of humanity come out for a few hours of distraction from their usual routine, there was no way that Sebastian would have been able to do anything but fetch Ciel his drink—the mundane, human way. Which meant that Ciel would have some time to slip away while Sebastian fought his way through the crowds to get Ciel his drink.

Sebastian frowned, though, brows furrowing slightly as he looked his young charge over. Ciel had been grumpy all day, and it truly was hot… but the demon had also been with his contractor for several years and had learned early on to recognize the signs of Ciel planning something—and most of those signs were out now, though the half-masted lashes as the boy looked up at him sidelong were the most telling sign.

Despite that, however, Ciel had given him a command…

With some trepidation, brows still furrowed in suspicion, Sebastian began, "As long as bocchan remains here, where I can find him once I return…"

"Yes, yes. I'm thirsty. Now go."

The demon stepped away, starting his journey to retrieve a drink for Ciel—but while Ciel was still in sight, Sebastian glanced over his shoulder several times—because he knew Ciel well enough to know that the boy had something up his sleeve (though the demon was also aware that his contractor would wait until he was out of sight until he truly started that something). He was still concerned: Ciel would have never allowed himself to go for long without attempting some type of retaliation towards his demon.

To say that the boy held grudges was an understatement, and the more irritated the contractor was, the worse his retaliation would be (or try to be since Sebastian was sly enough to usually be one step ahead of the mortal). But with Ciel unsupervised, despite it being just a short while…

It only took a moment before Sebastian was out of sight.

With the last and final glimpse of the demon's swallowtail coat, Ciel gave a tight, small smile before moving away from the crowd and towards the shelter of the House of Mirrors—and then a display of the Phantomhive seal was all it took before the stuttering, bowing carnival worker was gesturing Ciel towards the entrance of the attraction, free of charge.

It was, thankfully, much cooler inside.

Ciel took just a moment to simply breathe, lungs opening wide for the first time that day; the shortness within his breath softened, and Ciel began to feel even better when he took off his top hat to place it down on the floor at his feet before pressing his coated arm to his forehead to wipe away the sweat that had gathered there. It was still hot, true, but it was also summertime, something that was a given, and at least he was finally in some shade and away from the jostling crowd that pushed in much too close, their staring, judging eyes, and the hands that absently brushed over his body. Truthfully, it was the touches that Ciel hated most.

With the abundance of mirrors circled 'round him, Ciel's reflection bounced back many times over, confronting him with an image that he had been purposefully avoiding for weeks: Ciel was pale, sickly so, and knew that he had started to lose weight again; with just his own gaze to meet, Ciel was able to at least admit to himself that the recent case with Baron Kelvin had affected him more deeply than usual. He was tired lately, bored for the most part and beginning to border on brooding, though one of the few items that had managed to spark his interest recently was that one story in Beeton's Christmas Annual, "A Study In Scarlet"—

Ciel shook his head at himself, forcibly shaking himself from melancholic thoughts.

None of that mattered: it didn't matter if one particular case shook him more so than others; it didn't matter if he sometimes lost sleep, if he sometimes lost weight; it didn't matter that he could see himself becoming more and more like Sebastian—actions, thoughts, heart, and soul—the longer that he stared into the mirror. What mattered, what Ciel would never allow himself to forget, was the fact that he needed to continue striving forever onwards, serving Her Majesty until the time he was finally able to enact his revenge. That was what mattered. That was all. That was everything.

But as lost in his thoughts as Ciel was, he wasn't lost enough to not notice the flash of blonde from the corner of his eye, gold multiplying by tens and hundreds by the mirrors that surrounded him—

And a pale hand slipped over Ciel's eyes, hiding away the contract, as Alois murmured with warm breath and husky words against the younger Earl's throat: "Ciel~ I've caught you."

Almost immediately after, the blonde's other hand came up and covered Ciel's mouth and nose with a pocket handkerchief; there was a sweet, cloying scent—Ciel had just enough time to try to struggle, to reach for the revolver in his pocket, to gasp out a choked-back "S-Sebas—"… and then the world went black.


"Ciel~ Ciel, wake up."

The words were almost familiar, echoing the ritual greeting that Sebastian had given to him each morning for the past several years—echoing, but not the original. Sebastian never called him by his name. Sebastian had never used a sing-song tone in his voice: always, always, it had been soothing—a quiet murmur, cultured and the epitome of how a nobleman's butler should speak. This… this tone. It reminded Ciel of his mother.

"Ciel~! Wake up. It's time to play!"

That voice—

Ciel's eyes snapped open to stare up at Alois' face that hovered above his own. He made to speak—to demand that the blonde let him go—and realized then that he had been gagged if not blindfolded. The dark-haired boy's eyes widened in dawning realization at that (how could he call for Sebastian?), and his hands tugged urgently at the bindings that pinned his arms above his head. If anything, that immediate struggle made Alois' smile deepen and become even more cat-got-the-canary-esque.

"The old man used to like having me like this," Alois murmured softly as his head dipped down to lick over the outer curve of Ciel's ear. The slimmer boy flinched and jerked away, though Alois only laughed in answer to Ciel's obvious disgust. "I understand now, though—I understand why he liked it so much. You're so pretty, Ciel, when you glare up at me with hate and are unable to do anything about it~ So look at me more, Ciel. Look at me—just like that."

He held out a hand and a second person—a quick glance to the side confirmed that it was Claude Faustus, Alois' own butler and demon—placed a thick-handled dagger in the palm of the other boy's hand. Despite the desire to pretend to be above what was happening to him, the memories and instincts learned during that Hell forced Ciel to keep track of the weapon, never taking his eyes off of it. He remembered what happened the last time, during that Hell—what had happened when he had stopped paying attention to the people around him and which ones had items that could harm him.

But Alois didn't stab down.

Instead, with a quiet chuckle, the older boy began cutting away the buttons to Ciel's shirt, releasing them one by one; he didn't hurry in his ministrations, and neither did he slow when he saw Ciel give another flinch: steady, steady, because it was all about his gratification of his desire to consume the dark-haired contractor. And though Alois cared for very little, he cared enough to want to have, to keep Ciel for his very own.

"Ciel. Ciel, let's play," Alois murmured softly as he shifted to straddle over the shorter boy's hips, cutting away the last of Ciel's shirt's buttons. The blonde's smile deepened and he leaned over the other contractor's pinned body: idly, starting from the dip in the other's collarbone, Alois licked a trail up Ciel's throat to end with a nip to the edge of the dark-haired boy's jawline.

As Alois began to push Ciel's shirt away from his body, off of his shoulders, it was with dawning horror that Ciel realized that it wouldn't be long after until Alois saw the brand mark—true, it was on his back and that fact alone would buy him some time, but without a shirt… it was inevitable.

And the thought of someone else seeing that mark, that scar and physical proof of his shame—the helplessness he had felt, kept like a pet and then used for whatever whims that his captors had wanted… a deep, shuddering feeling of rejection welled up within Ciel: No. No. Only one person was allowed to see it, and that person was Sebastian. Sebastian had seen his shame, Sebastian had seen what he had looked like when brought so low. Sebastian had been the dark hand that had reached out to help—but not without a price because nothing in this life and the one after was free—and Sebastian had killed everyone in that shadowed room so that he would be the only one to see that mark ever after. Sebastian was the only one whom Ciel had given permission to see.

Alois nuzzled against the bend of his throat, mouth sealing possessively at Ciel's pulse point to leave a claiming mark—and all the while, his fingers worked at the clasps to Ciel's shorts, sliding a hand beneath the soft cotton when the buttons were freed. Ciel bucked in answer, trying to dislodge Alois from his body, trying to unbalance him so that the blonde could get off and stop touching him—but, in answer, Alois just chuckled against Ciel's skin and bit down a bit more roughly.

The disgust welled up within Ciel, as did the utter and complete feeling of rejection—multiplying over and over again as Alois' hand began to stroke and his tongue flicked out to trace the sharp edge of Ciel's jaw—and it, everything, this, echoed back to that month when he had found himself powerless. But Ciel wasn't powerless anymore.

His contract flared with violet, shimmering flame and Ciel reached, reached deep within himself for that tenuous but constant link, that bond that connected him to the demon that he had contracted at the age of ten. Deeper and deeper and further he reached until ethereal fingers yanked tight around the leash that led to his demon's collar, and that yank served as the instinctive, rough-edged order to come and come now.

SEBASTIAN!


The room's shadows darkened, caught an edge of the Abyss, developing a sinister edge:

One of the demon lords was on the hunt.


When Sebastian came, it was as suddenly as his first appearance before Ciel. A talon-tipped hand shot out of the shadows by the bed, dragging Alois off of Ciel by his hair. Holding the blonde close to his chest, Sebastian smiled as he stepped into the light, eyes glowing brightly with the fires of hell.

"Release my contractor or I shall kill yours," the demon said, still smiling at Claude as his fingers tightened just so around Alois' throat. The boy's eyes widened in alarm as he suddenly couldn't breathe, and he reached out for Claude. Sebastian's fingers just tightened further around Alois' neck.

Claude stilled, looking the other demon over; it was obvious that he meant business: Claude Faustus had oftentimes heard of the high standards that Sebastian Michaelis held himself to, the close attention that he paid to both demon and butler aesthetics. And yet here he was, in full demonic apparel—the butler aesthetics put aside for the demon. It was… intriguing.

Idly, he pushed his glasses up with one competent finger so that it might resettle on the bridge of his nose. All the while, the kumoshitsuji made neither move towards Ciel nor towards his own master. "And should I kill Ciel Phantomhive instead…?"

Sebastian's smile quirked further, an utterly perfect caricature of elegant evil.

"I kill Alois Trancy and then kill you."

It was as simple as that.

And Claude knew that with Sebastian in his full regalia, he could not win. Despite knowing that, however, he couldn't stop the flash of discontent within his gaze, though the shine from his glasses' lens hid it for the most part—not everything, however, and Sebastian tightened his hold on Alois even more in warning. Silent, with moves efficient, Claude took Ciel from his bindings. The exchange of contractors was equally silent, was equally efficient.

Dipping just enough to scoop Ciel into his hold, Sebastian smirked at Claude for just a moment before turning to leave. Before they faded completely into the darkness, the Phantomhive heir glanced up to meet Alois' wide eyes. "You wanted to play a game," he said, gaze hard. "We played yours. Now it's time for you to play mine."

Sebastian's answering chuckle lingered long after the shadows had lightened, returned to normal—leaving Claude and Alois behind, the losers of the first round of this particular game. Strangely enough, the boy's gaze had turned thoughtful with lingering traces of muted ecstasy, and Alois shifted back to lean against Claude's chest.

"Life is so much more exciting now," he whispered reverently as Claude's arms descended to wrap hungrily around Alois' svelte body, encasing him in darkness made of trembling spidersilk.


The next time Ciel opened his eyes, the familiar furnishings of his bedroom met his gaze. He looked around the room, taking in the fact that he was away from Alois Trancy and the touches that he never would have wanted. Briefly, Ciel took in a breath and closed his eyes—surrounding himself with the scents and feeling of his own home, his safehouse—before allowing his lashes to lift to meet the eyes of his demon.

And then he slapped Sebastian.

The demon just smirked in answer to the boy's strike, tongue darting out to lick away the blood at the corner of his mouth, his bottom lip cut from the sharp edge of a delicately pointed canine. Instead of saying anything, Sebastian reached up and trailed his still-taloned thumb over Ciel's cheek beneath his right eye—an echoed gesture from their first meeting, though there were no tears to wipe away this time.

"Never," Ciel ground out, his contract symbol blazing to life with the force of his order. "Never leave my side. Never allow anyone else but you to touch me."

"Yes, my Lord," Sebastian murmured as Ciel reached up to bury his fingers in the demon's silky, inky dark hair, dragging the other's head down to meet his own as the boy surged up to kiss him.

End.