Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Author's Note: I decided that this fandom was in need of more fluff. :3
Warnings: SebaCiel. Fail editing. Sap. Inspired by an adorable picture by Aseera. This idea is more visually based; if I'd had time, I would have doujin-ed it. As it is, this probably reads kinda oddly. OOC I'm sure, but I don't care, 'cause this is part of the "Bicentennial" universe ("Bicentennial" and "Inevitable") where everything is happy. :'D On that note, you should probably read both of those before reading this.
Dedication: For Askee, since my decision about fluff was partially due to her work— and also because it's her birthday soon; Hannah, who so much wanted me to return to this universe— I'm sorry this isn't IZ fanfiction, eh heh; and Nene, because I always think of her Sebastian and Ciel when writing for this universe. :'D
The demon glowered darkly, mismatched eyes narrowing in irritation as he growled at his cell phone's luminescent display. Predictably, this reaction didn't help the situation, nor did it make him look particularly sane to those around him, but he didn't care; he may have rationally realized that the time (and, by extension, his companion's tardiness) was not the fault of his blackberry, but he'd never put much stock in the "don't shoot the massager" adage. With a snarl, the little one tightened his small, onyx-tipped fingers around the plastic contraption, his expression daring the phone to permit the minutes to march onward. The sleek, ebony device—groaning in protest inside of its master's tightening fist— retaliated to this abuse by allowing "8:44 AM" to pollute its LED screen. Behind his back, the theme park's decorative fountain gurgled as if in laughter.
Ciel responded to the mocking of both inanimate objects with a feral snarl, pallid face colored by anger and embarrassment. Even still, he wasn't a tot of one hundred anymore, and he refused to throw a tantrum; buying new phones got to be expensive… he could only imagine how much replacing a fountain would cost. With a measured intake of breath, the boyish devil tried to calm himself down and soothe his hurt feelings with level-headedness. Sure, he was finally free. Sure, he had thought that would mean something to Sebastian. Sure, he'd assumed that today would be special. But maybe Sebastian had gotten an emergency call from work. Maybe Finny had broken something important. Maybe he didn't feel like flying and had taken the bus, instead. Maybe he'd gotten hurt. Maybe an old enemy had—
Ciel's pursed lips thinned all the more. Somehow, sagacity wasn't helping him feel any better. It really wasn't like Sebastian to be late— not by so much as a second, and certainly not on Sundays. Hell, he'd presumed that his companion would have gotten to the park early: today was a day of celebration and feasting, a rarity for the two of them; in the base of his being, he could feel his "master's" sweet-and-sour soul swirling and curling and coiling away, awaiting true consumption. It wasn't a wholly comfortable feeling to start off with— something akin to heartburn, he'd imagine— and to add to that this unexpected anxiety over Sebastian's whereabouts and safety…
The petite creature shifted atop the fountain ledge, hooking one booted foot behind the other. Despite the warmth of the early July sun, he felt a shiver shoot down his hunched spine as he and his phone engaged in a second stare-down. For a few moments, his wallpaper— a surreptitiously taken photo of a certain crow in an evergreen tree— gazed back, but the image soon faded to energy-conserving black.
Ciel's frown deepened. 8:45 AM.
This was ridiculous.
Sliding the phone open to reveal its bitty keyboard, the once-child was just about to shoot his servant an annoyed text when— to his visible surprise— his own text tone chimed through the tourist riddled enclosure. That was… suspiciously convenient. Though not unwelcomed. And really, Sebastian had always had excellent timing… Swiping a thumb across the screen to cut short Vanessa Mae's "The Devil's Trill," Ciel found a single message waiting for him in his inbox; his heart both hardened and fluttered when he saw the sender's name. "Finally," he muttered to himself, biting on the corners of his lips to keep from smiling in relief. "Took you long enough, Sebastian…"
But even as he spoke— even as he moved his finger to open the note— he couldn't quash a growing feeling of confusion. The message's subject line wasn't "I'm on my way" or "sorry for taking so long" or anything along those predictable lines. Instead, it was the rather cryptic declaration "This was taken in France." And although Ciel really hadn't had any idea of what to expect from a letter with such a prelude, a photograph of the sky wouldn't have been his first guess. But that was what he got. Bright cerulean, a few wisps of cloud, a blinding white ray of mid-morning sun.
Nothing more than a photo of the sky.
"…what the f—?" Blinking rapidly, the tiny demon regarded the unanticipated image for a spell, tilting his screen this way and that— as if readjusting his monitor might reveal some secret truth. But no. It really was just what it looked liked. Why it had been sent to him was anyone's guess. It was so disconcerting and generally bizarre that for a full minute, Ciel was too distracted by perplexity to remember that he was supposed to be mad. But eventually, the frustration of such an enigmatic message reminded him of his previous discontent, and the irritation flared back up again with a renewed passion.
Sebastian, Ciel pounded into the keyboard, gritting his teeth in concentration, I know that you're old, but I didn't realize you were senile. The amusement park isn't in France, and neither should you be! He half-considered ending this rebuke with some sort of threat (and he had quite a few potent ones rolling around in his mind), but even as he added an exclamation mark to his response, his phone rang in notification of another new letter.
Blowing out his cheeks, the once-child tapped the "send" key— perhaps a wee bit harder than was entirely necessary— and returned to his inbox to find Sebastian's second note. This one lacked any sort of subject line, but now that he was looking for it, he did notice that there was an attachment listed. Blandly wondering if he'd been sent an accompanying picture of the grass, Ciel dutifully selected and opened the file—
Only to yelp and drop his phone, cursing as it clattered against the brick-inlayed ground. "What on ea—? If the facing is cracked, you're paying for the repairs, you bastard," Ciel grumbled bitterly. Even as he did so, though, he felt rather stupid; like most, he tried not to make a habit out of talking to people who weren't there. But then, maybe this feeling of mortification came more from his unnecessarily violent reaction; there was no need for dramatics, and that had certainly been a show. Of course, in his defense, he hadn't really been expecting a close-up of William T. Spears to appear before his eyes, all pinch-faced and grimacing. What was worse: the reaper looked faintly bedraggled and bleary eyed, as if he'd just woken up… or if he hadn't slept at all, if the faint flash of burgundy behind him was anything to go by.
Ciel choked back the feeling of bile, his own face scrunching in bewilderment as he scooped his phone off of the ground. He assumed that the picture itself came from a few weeks ago; Sebastian had mentioned casually that some of the death gods were crashing in his apartment, since hotels were expensive and there was going to be a particularly devastating fire in the area within the next few days. (And there was. It rather made Ciel's mouth water.) As for the photo of the sky (if it really was from France), it had likely been taken half a year earlier, when his former master had dragged him on a mission trip to that corner of the globe. When he'd asked why, the old coot had told him that they were to "covert the hell-bound masses in Aix-en-Provence," and he had to come along because "I don't want you running amok while I'm away, you cheeky minx." Not that Ciel had really given a damn for his reasons… his only concern had been figuring out a way not to die of heartache and boredom over the course of a month. But then, to his unparalleled delight, the stranger who'd been assigned the seat beside him on the airplane had been none other than Sebastian, who'd managed to sneak onto the trip roster and up the number of cheeky minxes to two. Gussied up in the guise of a female parishioner, all long dark hair and modest high heels, even Ciel's leery tamer hadn't thought to be suspicious of such a sweet girl, and that had worked quite well to their advantage. In the end, it was a delightful holiday in which the pair was left greatly alone, as neither was capable of entering the succession of churches that the rest of the parish visited. Sebastian had joked that the vacation was almost like a honeymoon, wasn't it— tasting delicacies; holding hands; kissing in shadowed corners; no, Sebastian, you're disguised as a woman right now— that means you have to play the part in all situations… And he did, of course he did, with feminine hitched gasps and throatier moans of pleasure as he dug manicured fingers into the back alley wall…
A third text tone snapped Ciel from his dreamy recollections, and it was just as well; he didn't particularly want to finish that train of thought in such a public place. Flushing scarlet and readjusting his legs, he glanced down at his phone to find a picture of an ewe waiting to greet him.
…screw it. He wasn't even going to ask.
Sighing, he clicked out of the newest note and resigned himself to waiting for the next, dropping his chin into an upturned palm. As he did so, he allowed his half-lidded eyes to skim over the innocuous looking blackberry, tapping one slender digit rhythmically against its ridged backside. Maybe it was Sebastian's plan to befuddle him into pacification. If that was so, it was certainly working; he couldn't bring himself to feel cross when so distracted by exasperation. Seriously, what in Satan's name was going through his butler's mind? What did these silly jpegs have to do with one another, and what did all of this have to do with Sebastian and his failure to be here? Was this meant to be a game? A riddle?
Lightly biting his tongue between sharp teeth, Ciel's brow furrowed as he once-again regarded the collection of photographs in his inbox. The sky, a shinigami, a sheep. Whatever way he twisted it, he couldn't come up with any correlation between the three… well, apart from starting with an "s," he supposed. But this wasn't fucking Sesame Street, despite the hat that he may-or-may-not have brought with him. (Since. You know. It was a special occasion and… ahem. The devil turned beet red and kicked the tote bag at his feet, as if to punish the worn blue cap hidden inside of it.)
"Hmph. The sky in France, huh?" Ciel blew out his cheeks, glancing from the image to the real sky above him. The robin's egg of morning was already fading into the deep sapphire of afternoon, and it reflected beautifully off of his own cobalt irises. "Why would it matter where he took a picture of the sky, anyway? It's the same stupid sky, it just has a different name."
Creased forehead smoothing over in sudden realization, the boy felt his insides give a funny squirm— a squirm entirely unrelated to the soul that awaited digestion in the pit of his belly. "…ciel?" he whispered to himself, feeling wholly a fool: both for murmuring his own name, and for taking so long to make such an obvious connection. "Is that that what you're aiming at, Sebastian?"
Curiosity further whetted, sparking nerves tingling down his curved back and in the tips of his pale fingers, Ciel scrolled through the unconventional slideshow once more, feeling the gears in his brain whirl and click and grind. "Ciel… William T. Spears? William? …Will. Ciel. Will. Ewe?" He cocked his head, a strange smile of sardonic amusement and incomprehension playing out on his lips. "Figured that was close enough, I imagine. What a useless servant. And that's not even a full sentence. What—?"
But before the once-child could finish his question, Sebastian sent a fourth picture to add to his own. Now that he had more of an idea of what was going on, Ciel found it easier to see the humor in the situation; a bit more willingly this time (and a touch more intrigued), he opened the latest file with a roll of his eyes. Dropping his chin atop propped knees, he regarded the newest piece of the puzzle with an arched brow. On the one hand, it wasn't another picture of livestock or death gods, for which Ciel was thankful; it rather felt like a waste of space to have those photos on his memory card. It did, however, feature more nature—a modest patch of flowers that he recognized. Not long after their initial reunion, Finny had stumbled into Sebastian at one of his many day jobs; for lack of anywhere else to stay, the former gardener had taken up residence in Sebastian's apartment. (Ciel half-wondered if there were any supernatural beings in the area who hadn't spent some time there.) It had been decades since the blonde had considered gardening his profession— not that he'd ever had any right to call himself a professional in the first place— but he kept a teeny plot of land in the communal backyard as a hobby. His thumb still wasn't particularly green, but he managed to grow a few things. Weeds, mostly. Buttery spring dandelions and creeping charlies in the summer. But this year, he'd also had some luck with a collection of sunny marigolds, and it was of this that somebody had taken a photo. It wasn't Sebastian, this time, for Sebastian himself was in the picture: two arms swathed in black were wrapped around the air, as if circling the front portion of the bunch.
Ciel allowed himself a subtle smirk, leaning back on his free hand in an arrogant sort of way. "This isn't so tough," he muttered softly, flippant as he deconstructed the mystery in his head. "By only indicating the first half of the flowers, you want me to only consider the first half of the word, correct? So that—!"
His hooded eyes widened. His mind caught up with his mouth.
Ciel will you—
The suddenly-crimson devil barely heard his text tone over the rushing in his ears, the strange thrumming of his heart. When his quivering fingers finally managed to open the final file, for the first time since this game began, he wasn't surprised by what he found. Rather, he somehow felt that he'd known all along. Without pause or hesitation, he clamored trippingly to his feet, only-just remembering to snatch his shoulder bag from the ground before scampering down a well-worn path. At first, he tried his best to remember his manners—he didn't run or push or fight against the crowd— but after a minute or two he tired of politeness and began to pick up speed, shoving when necessary to reach his ultimate goal. Past the merry-go-round and Ferris wheel, roller coaster and hot dog stand; he dashed so quickly around the crossroad corner that he almost crashed into a balloon vendor. But that hardly mattered— nothing mattered. Nothing except…
Pink in the face and panting pathetically, Ciel stumbled to a halt before an unusually well-loved and recognizable facility. Its familiarity did not simply stem from his and Sebastian's frequent rendezvous in the chipped green stalls (though that was certainly a factor), but also from the final photograph, still glowing on his blackberry's display, which featured the building in question. Even now, Sebastian stood as he had in the picture, with one gloved hand carefully placed over the "n" on the sign for the men's room. Amused and affable, he offered his master a mischievous little grin when their gazes met, tilting his head in question.
"…well?" he then prompted genially, laughter in his purr and affection in his eyes. "What do you say, my lord?"
Ciel had never considered himself a particularly romantic fellow. He wasn't much for pretty phrases or amorous speeches— it had been almost physically impossible for him to spit out those three little words on that long-ago anniversary, and they'd been together for centuries at that point. So really, he didn't have much of anything to say in response to his butler's inquiry… Other than "you stupid idiot," which he hissed quite vehemently under his breath. But it seemed likely that the severity of his insult was lost in the fervor of his wanton kisses, in the tears that wetted his eyes, in the tug and grind of clothes and crotch. With a trill of half-swallowed delight, stumbling backwards in the wake of a virtual assault, Sebastian fell into the bathroom with barely enough time to stagger into a stall before Ciel had made shreds of his shirt.
He decided to take that as a "yes."