I'm not sure what hole I pulled this story out of, but I hope it's liked! I would like for it to be fairly long, so things aren't going to move as quickly as normal, and the chapters not as long as I would like (maybe). I've never done a really long story before (my most is a seven chapter fic), so please stay with me to see how it works out! Anyway, just FYI, this is anime-based (obviously, since it's clearly not manga-based).
"Boss Sutcliff, this case is a little odd. What am I supposed to do when there's a demon involved?"
Ronald Knox hadn't knocked, but then, he hadn't knocked in years. Thirty, maybe forty if his memory served. He poked his head in, waving the envelope with his assignment slightly to capture the elder reaper's attention.
"Cut the arm with the seal off," Grell answered absently, not looking away from the window. "Until the arm grows back, the soul can be taken. Be fast about it, though. Demons are vicious." Ronald nodded, stepping into the redhead's office. Grell's appearance hadn't changed at all in the past hundred years—his hair was still too vivid, his eyes still too piercing. He still wore that red jacket, kept in pristine condition by the halted time in the reaper society. His boots were still as clean and shiny as they'd been the day Grell had bought them.
"Mr. Sutcliff," Ronald said softly, and Grell looked over at him.
"You sound tired."
Grell laughed, leaning back in his chair and running a hand through his soft crimson locks. "Yeah, I am. Ugh, Will's overworking me…" He sighed. "I think it's Will who needs sleep, though. He's been exhausted lately." Ronald made a face.
"Yeah, and he's taking it out on us." Grell laughed again.
"Yes! Exactly! Ah, ai wa chi mamire," the reaper sighed. Ronald cocked his head at him.
"What language is that?"
"Japanese. It means "love is covered in blood"—it's from some musical that Will took me to a couple weeks ago," Grell explained. "Totally ridiculous. They had shinigami in it—death gods, like us—only they sung and danced… it was odd. Funny, but odd. I mean, seriously—we don't do that."
"What was it called?" the blonde asked. "I'm curious now." Grell thought.
"Kuroshitsuji, I think. It was the second one—called "The Most Beautiful DEATH in the World". I liked the title, but the rest of it was ridiculous!" he scoffed. "Funny, but ridiculous. I mean, we have work to do. We don't have time for dance numbers." He rolled his eyes. "It was about some butler, whatever. I wasn't really paying attention. I was more angry about the fact that not only was one of the shinigami morons, like, dressed like me—almost to the dot, it was weird!—everyone was giving Will and I strange looks. Some guy came up to me and high fived me, telling me I was totally hardcore!" He shook his head, exasperated.
Ronald laughed. "Maybe you were finally getting some credit for your, um… femininity!"
Grell pouted. "Yeah, that's not it. People don't treat ladies like that! I should know!" He bit his lip, his eyebrows furrowed in irritation. "Psh. Anyway."
The redhead looked up at his stern superior, who had burst into the room, stopping next to Ronald. "Yeah, Will? You look stressed."
"Are you too busy to take care of a couple reapings?" he asked. "We're really understaffed at the moment, and I don't want to pile more work on the junior reapers—we've had that fiasco before." Grell winced, both at the prospect of extra work and the memory.
Grell wanted to, it was written all over his face. Since he was now much more senior than he had been, he had much more paperwork, since he was a supervisor, much like William had been. He couldn't say how much he wanted to go out, but he was so busy. "Maybe a few, Will, but I'm up to my knees in paperwork. Is there anyone else?"
Will sighed. "Even one or two would be helpful, if you have time. They're slated for tomorrow; I'll bring in the schedule. Could you take some, too, Knox? I know tomorrow is your day off, but…" William trailed off.
Ronald sighed. "Yeah, sure. We're so busy nowadays. You'd think things would quiet down since the mortality rates have gotten lower. I mean, it's the 2000's, for gods' sake!"
William nodded. "I completely agree. I don't understand why we don't seem to have enough reapers. We were fine back at the turn of the twentieth century, and the mortality rates were much higher." He seemed a little more relaxed knowing the two would help out. "I'm going to go see if Mr. Undertaker can help." He leaned down, giving Grell a soft kiss on the corner of his mouth. "See you tonight, love."
Grell turned back to his paperwork, but Ronald didn't leave. "Are you and Mr. Spears still together?"
Grell shook his head. "Nah, not since… well, it's been awhile. Over a hundred years, I think."
"You mean… since the Sebastian thing?"
Grell paused in his writing, looking up at Ronald with a carefully constructed expression. "Yes. Not since Sebastian. We still live together, because it's easier, and we're friends, so it's fine," he answered. Ronald could see his superior wilt a little. "He still cares about me, though I haven't the foggiest idea why." He gave a little laugh. "I mean, despite the fact that I am a beautiful maiden!" Ronald rolled his eyes.
"How long has it been since you last saw Sebastian?" he asked.
Grell's expression darkened, and he shrugged. "Ninety years or so. Not long after Will and I split. He took the brat and left London after the Hannah Annafellows incident."
"Didn't the little Phantomhive become a demon because of that?"
He nodded again. "Yes. He took the demon brat and left."
Ronald snickered, and Grell looked up at him questioningly. "Technically, didn't the little master take him?"
Grell laughed, his visage brightening slightly. "Good point! Oh, I can't wait until I see Bassie again—because I'm sure I will!—and I can tell him that! Imagine how much fun that would be!"
"What are you so happy about? Not that I don't want you to be happy, of course! I can't be the only ray of sunshine in this place!"
"It's nothing. I just haven't seen you this much like your old self in a while."
Grell blinked. "What do you mean, Knoxie?"
Ronald laughed. "See? That's it right there. You haven't called me Knoxie in what… forty years? You're a lot more serious; makes it harder for us to get in trouble together." He nudged Grell's shoulder and winked, making the red haired reaper giggle.
"I'm not more serious; I just have more responsibility. I'm a manager, now! Never thought I'd get those old farts to respect me enough to give me the position," he huffed. "I'm so tired, Knoxie."
"I think you're bi-polar, that's what I think," Ronald suggested, chuckling. "This side of you comes out every now and again. Like you have split personalities." Grell tapped his chin in thought.
"Highly likely. Everyone needs a secret personality for different situations! After all, I'm just a deadly efficient butler!" Automatically, the backwards love sign came out and he grinned before dissolving in a mess of giggles.
Ronald was happy Grell sounded more like his old self. This was the most normal he'd seen Grell in quite a while. It had been a couple months since he'd last seen even a glimpse of this side of the reaper.
"Hey, it's dinner time. Why don't we go catch a bite? McDonalds is open all night, so…" Ronald suggested, and Grell looked between the door and his work. "You're going to stay overtime anyway, so why not grab a bite and come back? It's not like I'm taking you out partying all night." Grell laughed.
"Yeah, you're right, Knoxie. Let's go!"
They left, Grell practically jumping on the reaper, who was currently trying to pry him off. "I said dinner! This isn't a date, you can't just hump me in public, Mr. Sutcliff! Grell!"
The red haired reaper was laughing loudly, and Ronald noticed several employees peeking out from their offices with half-smiles on their faces.
"Good mood, Grell?" Eric asked, passing them.
"Yep!" he answered, swinging the hand he had grabbed. Ronald let him, intent to keep the mood intact. Eric's partner of almost a century, Allen, waved with a surprised grin on his face. They hadn't seen Grell in such a good mood in a while, either. "Hey, Knoxie, gimme a piggy back ride!"
Ronald agreed, laughing with his child-like boss. Grell slung his arms around Ronald's neck, hopping onto his back with agility exclusive to non-humans, like demons and reapers. Ronald carried him out, letting him down when they got to the crowded streets of London.
"Ah, I haven't been out here in a while!" Grell sighed happily. He stretched his arms, letting his red coat slide down to his elbows. There. The final puzzle piece is in place. This is the Grell I know, Ronald thought, feeling accomplished. "Ooh, instead of McDonalds, can we have Burger King?" Death gods technically didn't need human food, but the more eccentric ones like Grell and Ronald, sometimes even William if he was in the mood, ate it every now and again.
They had dinner, chatting and just generally enjoying each other's company. Grell and his obsession with chips had inspired him to get three orders of the stuff. They were an invention Ronald knew Grell was thankful for. He would have William make them all the time, Ronald knew, because they both would come in with batches of the potato food—Grell to eat, William to give away so he wouldn't have to.
Sometimes, though, Grell scared Ronald. He could remember a time when Grell had been like this—wild and out of control—all the time. Nowadays, his eccentric side came out only rarely. When Grell was tying his hair back, his mood serious and dark, Ronald worried about him, unable to find even a speck of his friend in the almost sad reaper he turned into.
Now though, he could concentrate on keeping his mood up. It wasn't much of an effort, though—once Grell got going, he kept himself up until he saw something that would hit him and bring him down again. With another bout of nostalgia, he remembered the days when the reaper didn't even have an off switch. Sometimes now it seemed he didn't have an on switch.
When they finished eating, Ronald gave in to Grell's begging and took him on a minor shopping trip. It wasn't until they were deep in the crevices of the third pawn shop, however, that he realized what Grell was looking for—something to tie him to the past that London had seemingly left behind.
"Aha!" Grell breathed after hours of searching, Ronald with no idea what he was looking for. "And it's in good condition, too!"
Ronald looked over Grell's shoulder, his eyes widenening as he realized when Grell held tenderly in his hands.
"A Funtom Bitter Rabbit from old England, huh? That thing's expensive. An antique. Sell it online and you could get more than a hundred pounds for that thing, cheap." Grell looked back at the owner of the shop.
"How much do you want for it?" he asked immediately, his voice dead serious.
The man thought about it. "Seventy. That thing's been here forever. No one even knows what it is. A shame, too." The strange thing was, when Ronald heard him speak, he could tell the man actually thought that. "Funtom used to be the world's leading toymaker, and then they just… fell of the face of the earth. The Phantomhive earl, the head of the company, just disappeared, and the company fell to ruin. A damned shame, even if it was a century ago."
Grell nodded, a particular look on his face. "Yes. Ciel Phantomhive, if I remember correctly." Ronald knew he did.
"Yeah," the man agreed. "That was it. Ciel, and that butler of his, Sebastian." Here, Grell winced visibly. "Look, I've got a whole box of Funtom toys I'll sell you for a hundred fifty pounds, total, with the rabbit. It's over there." He pointed, and Grell went and retreived it. "I have to go to the loo, but when I get back, I'll ring it up for you."
"Thank you," Grell said politely. Then he looked over at Ronald and gave him a look that broke his heart. "Thanks for bringing me out, Knoxie."
Then he looked back down at the rabbit again, and fell silent.
Did I do okay for a first chapter? I'm planning on going slow—but I'm introducing Sebastian next chapter! He and Grell aren't going to meet for a couple more chapters, though. Next chapter is Ciel & Sebastian's POV, so look out for it!