Disclaimer: I don't own Kuroshitsuji/Black Butler, and make no profit from writing this story.
A/N: This is a modern AU, and the first AU I've written. I hope it doesn't disappoint. I'll address a concern from a reviewer before people think this will be terribly OOC for Ciel: Modern AU also means modern medicine, so while I have plans for Ciel's cat allergy, he will be (mostly) fine with normal dealings with cats.
A Place to Call Home
"Ah…what gorgeous coloring! Such sleek, glossy, perfect fur…It is quite a shame you had to end up here, young kitten."
Two caring eyes peered down at the addressed kitten, watching as it began to clean itself from the unfamiliar surroundings it found itself in. Slowly, a gloved hand worked its way toward the adorable, fluffy creature, gently stroking some of the misplaced fur.
"Mew?" it voiced in question, batting at the soft, cotton-covered hand. A low chuckle immediately sounded as the tabby proceeded to gnaw at the fingertip, not hard enough hurt, but just eager enough to be absolutely adorable to the man above it.
"All right, let's get you cleaned up a little more before the day ends, all right, kitten?" he said out loud. Kneeling down, he picked up the kitten and carried it down the driveway he had been at the end of and into the animal shelter where he worked.
He was greeted by a squeal of joy as soon as he stepped in the door. "Aww, where did you find that one, Mr. Sebastian?" a bespectacled girl asked, examining the cat in his arms. She crossed the room to pet it, giggling when it followed the movement and purred in delight.
"It was at the end of the driveway. I imagine someone abandoned it here, since it's not terribly dirty, but appears as though it was not well cared for. I'm just about to give it a short bath." Sebastian looked at the girl sternly as she fawned over the small animal. "Now, Maylene, didn't I ask you to clean the dog kennels?"
A vivid blush stained Maylene's cheeks as she remembered. "A-ah, y-yes! I'm sorry! I just came to get a drink and I saw you with that kitten and I forgot and I-I'll go do it right away, yes!" she stammered, retreating from the room as quickly as she could. Sebastian watched as she unknowingly bumped a table and lamp and he was just fast enough to prevent it from falling, kitten hugged safely against his chest in one hand as he used the other to catch it.
'Honestly, that girl…' he thought with a sigh, but a small smile teased his lips anyway. Yes, she was incredibly clumsy, but she had proven herself to be a hard and dedicated worker in the animal shelter, even if she did need constant reminding of what she should be doing. Sebastian could have taken care of all the work himself, of course, but an extra set of hands never hurt. As it was, the work was usually divided equally at the start, but ended with him taking care of many of the duties anyway, including the canine wing, much to his disdain. He could tolerate the dogs, but his true joy was from the cats.
Sebastian shook himself out of his reverie at a tiny mewl from the kitten still pressed up against his jacket. "Oh, did I squeeze you too hard?" he asked, receiving an inquisitive, wide-eyed stare from it. "No? Well, I still need to give you a bath, though, so I'll be right back," he stated, and he placed his passenger in a small cat bed next to the sink.
In only moments, he had returned with a sponge, shampoo, a fluffy towel, and a small cup. Plugging the drain, he filled it slightly with warm water before carefully lifting up the kitten and placing its feet in the sink. He kept a strong grip on it in case it objected too terribly, but after only a few moments, it allowed itself to be set down in the water. He smiled at it.
"That's a good kitten," he praised softly, dipping the sponge into the sink and dampening the small cat's body. Gently, he lathered the shampoo and lightly massaged it into the kitten's fur, watching happily as it tried to figure out what was foaming on it. "It's not going to hurt you. I'm almost done…"
After a few more minutes, he dipped the cup into the sink and poured it slowly over the soft fur, watching as more and more became visible until finally the cat was shampoo free. He pulled the kitten from the sink and drained it, taking the time to deposit the kitten into the warm towel to dry it partially. Carefully patting down the feline, he saw that he was right on his first assumption of it. It was a truly gorgeous tabby, and he resented the fact that it had been abandoned on his doorstep; it deserved a good home.
"I'm afraid I must say goodnight. This will be different than what you're used to, but I've tried to make it as comfortable as possible." With that, he picked up the kitten for the final time that evening and carried it to where it would be staying. What was different about Sebastian's shelter was that he opted out of caging the animals he was caring for, instead giving them small pens that they could rest in instead. He saw it as a more humane way of dealing with the unfortunate animals that had come his direction, even if they couldn't enjoy a loving family like other pets.
Laying the kitten down in an unused pen, he smiled wistfully as it tried to hold onto his glove again, giving a pitiful meow as he tried to walk away. "I'll be back tomorrow. Don't worry, little one," he whispered, and carefully extracted himself from the kitten's grip before leaving the room.
"Maylene?" he called, the room he had been in previously seeming very empty now without his "guest."
"Yes?" she yelled back, sounding out of breath from dealing with the dogs. When he didn't answer, she came running to him instead, recognizing that he wanted to speak with her face to face.
He barely restrained himself from chuckling at her disheveled appearance. "Maylene, it's past your shift. You can go home if you would like."
The girl smiled widely at her superior. "Thank you, Mr. Sebastian. You're sure there's nothing else I can help you with tonight, yes?" she offered.
"Yes, I was just about to leave, myself. I shall see you tomorrow."
With a final nod, Maylene was out the door and on her way home, leaving Sebastian alone once again as he made his way to the adjoining apartment from the shelter. It wasn't terribly fancy, but it was the man's home. It was tidy and organized with just enough furniture to prevent it from looking barren; however, the lack of decoration did lead it to seem rather uninviting.
Sebastian was happy with it, though; he didn't invite people to his home all that often. Although he was seen by others as a charming young man with an inviting, charismatic smile, he preferred to be left alone for the most part. People were exhausting, saying things and meaning something else, never giving a straight answer. It was because he could see right through their false pretenses that he was bored of them.
His animals, however…they were special. They were honest to a fault, not having the capacity to hide their emotions. And, yes, while they could trick him out of extra food once in a while, he didn't really mind. It kept things interesting and lively around the animal shelter.
Smiling to himself, Sebastian stripped off the gloves and jacket he had worn to ward off the late fall chill that had settled over the area. Shortly afterward, he set up a teapot on the stove, eager to drink a warm beverage before settling in for the night. Reclining in an armchair, he stretched once or twice to rid himself of the exertion from the day.
Lethargy sank into his muscles as he waited, mind wandering to the new kitten, his old cats, and the dogs that had yet to be adopted. As much as he cared for them, he couldn't shake the feeling that they needed a better home, and he regretted not being able to do more for them. Many families looked to the pet store or larger shelters than the one he owned. Advertising cost more money than what he could provide from his services, and yet, if he could just get the word out to more people, he would receive more income with which to help the shelter. What a terrible conundrum.
When the pot whistled, he forced himself up off the chair, having almost fallen asleep in it. The tea no longer seemed as appealing as before, so he simply drained the water and turned off the stovetop instead, opting for his comfortable bed.
He prepared for the night, slipping into a heavy nightshirt and sleeping pants to ward off the chill in the room. Like most nights before, as soon as he slid under his covers, he fell into a blissful oblivion until morning.
The next day started out much like a normal Saturday: tell Maylene the agenda for the day, wait for his other employees to arrive and hope they didn't cause irreparable damage to his establishment, and complete his own rounds.
At the moment, Maylene was attempting to walk one of the more rowdy dogs, a fluffy white breed that seemed to be walking her instead. "Pluto~!" she yelped as it pulled her off her feet. He ran over to Sebastian instead, placing his dirty paws on the man's clean pants. "Pluto! Down!" she commanded, applying just enough force to the leash to pull him away. "I'm so sorry, Mr. Sebastian! He's just so strong, yes!" Embarrassed, she looked at the dirt prints on his pants and nearly started brushing at them before she realized what she was doing. Her face once again turned a vibrant red as she stumbled away, taking a resistant Pluto with her.
Sebastian had long since grown accustomed to Maylene's actions towards him, so he was no longer bothered by them. Yes, it was slightly awkward to have her fawn over him in such a manner, but no, he wasn't interested and they both seemed content to let it remain that way. Or, he did at the very least.
He brushed away the spots on his own pants before starting around the building to make sure everything was in place. He had just bent down to coil up a forgotten garden hose when he heard movement behind him, looking up from his crouched position to find a young boy with piercing blue eyes standing over him.
He straightened before looking down at the child curiously. "Hello. Are you here to adopt an animal?" he asked politely. A customer was a customer after all.
The boy stared disdainfully before answering in a curt tone, "No."
Sebastian's forehead furrowed as he tried to figure out what his guest wanted. "Why are you here?"
The child frowned sourly as he regarded the older man. "For the next month, I'm your new helper."
A/N: I would greatly appreciate reviews on what you liked or what to improve on. Writers spend a lot of time to make sure a chapter is as good as they can make it, so even a little time spent on a review would mean the world to me! Thank you for reading!