Something Strange

Is

Going on

Alright. Let's keep going.

I deleted so i could add something to the end.

"WHY DO WE BOTHER WITH THESE PAWNS?" Angela fumed, screeching to Ash as he gazed out at the valley in the distance. "WHY DO WE NOT GO AFTER PHOEBUS, OR SCHNEIZEL?" Ash exhaled blissfully, relishing in the wafting wind. "The Count and Lieutenant are Alliahnna's entire world! Including the little Elizabeth child! Those two imbecilic soldiers will not be able to defeat Alliahnna or Sebastian! Regardless of the power gained from our mark!" She furrowed her brow, annoyed by Ash ignoring her, "The same was said for that Nun you infected!"

"I am perfectly aware the soldiers lack the strength to defeat her." Ash replied nonchalantly. "My intentions are not for her to perish."

"THEN WHAT IS IT?" Angela roared, demanding a straight answer. "DO YOU REALIZE THE LONGER WE WAIT, THE MORE POWERFUL SHE WILL BECOME?"

"Do you recall how you and I became separate people?" Ash quizzed her, still facing the elegant view before him. Angela fell silent, flabbergasted by the question. "Our differences in goals." Ash answered in a purr, bringing his attention to his fuming counterpart. "You wish to see Alliahnna killed. I wish to see her broken." He clarified. "But I cannot break her with those blindly loyal to her!"

Angela's rage cooled a smidge. "How do you mean?"

"The two you infected, The people of Halnare, the nun," Ash reminded her, "All had wavering faith. Unlike the Count, Lieutenant, or Elizabeth, Carmichael and Taylor placed their loyalty in Alliahnna because of her rank. They do not share the same bond as the other three."

"So the branding would be weakened." Angela understood. Ash bobbed his head. "But still," She huffed, "Those two cannot wound her the way you or I wish!"

"Oh but they can." Ash assured his impatient dominatrix. "Their loyalty to Alliahnna and Sebastian is shaky." He licked his lips hungrily, "But they revere Phoebus like he were a God." A wolfish grin spread across Angela's face. "They'll get the job done. I'm sure of it."

3-6-9

"WOOOW!" Elizabeth and Paula beamed, their eyes twinkling like stars.

"AMAZING!" Finnian, Bardroy, and Mey-Rin gaped in awe.

Finally, after hours and days of disturbances and interludes to their trip, the residents of Paris were flabbergasted and overjoyed to finally lay eyes on the stunning city of Toulouse. Brightly colored stone paved streets brimming lavishly in the sun. Buildings constructed of bricks and marble stood tall and proud. There was a large courtyard – more of an entire street for those seeking to board a train – bustling with people. A clock tower on City Hall struck two in the afternoon, startling pigeons into the sky.

"Well enjoy your time, kiddies." Grell wriggled his fingers in farewell. He, Will, and Undertaker sauntered down the steps of the train loading platform. "We'll be out and about."

"Do what?" Zanosuke questioned.

"Our jobs, vermin." Will huffed, adjusting his glasses. "Not that someone as vulgar as you-"

Elizabeth thwacked Will in the face with her umbrella, knocking his glasses from his face. Alliahnna, Paula, Sebastian, and Phoebus gaped in complete shock. Jasper and Zanosuke shuddered. "DON'T INSULT HIM!" She screeched.

"That human of yours has a decent swing." Jasper remarked.

"Pray you never see her when she's angry." Zanosuke warned. Sebastian and Alliahnna quivered, seeing Elizabeth with fire filled eyes, razor teeth and a pitch fork jabbing into Ciel.

Will growled in the back of his throat, scooping his glasses from the stone ground. Grell and Undertaker chuckled in the back, knowing what was to come. "You, CHILD," Will drew his death scythe, boring his stoic, rage filled orbs into Elizabeth, "Have just made your final mistake!" The trimmers extended. Elizabeth gaped in terror.

Zanosuke grabbed Will's scythe, averting its aim toward Grell, pericing him in the head. "Are you alright, Miss Elizabeth?"

"I'm fine." She smiled, breathing with relief. "Thank you, Zanosuke."

Zanosuke bowed his head, happy to help. He directed his fiery attention to the stone-faced reaper. Will arched his brow, daring the brother of Sebastian to lash out. "Do you have something to say, vermin?"

"I highly recommend you and your friends depart for your job." Zanosuke advised hostilely. "Otherwise, parasite," He gritted his teeth, "I may be forced to sully my hands with your blood."

Will furrowed his brow, growling rabidly. "Though I find your threats idle and lacking in veracity," Will retracted his trimmers, grunting as he adjusted his glasses, "I will not stoop myself so low as to dirty my hands with the blood of vermin." He adjusted his glasses once more. "Let us be off, Grell." He ordered, sauntering off.

"Oh very well." Grell grumbled. He giggled giddily and leaned into Sebastian. "It would appear this is where we go our separate ways, my darling." Sebastian huffed, not too disappointed by the separation. Grell circled a finger on his chest, "But I promise we will be together again soon." He sang. He snapped a hand to Alliahnna's collar, bringing her in close to see the rage in his eyes. "And don't think that just because you and he slept together is going to curb my lust!" Grell hissed in a whisper. "I still plan to win." Alliahnna laughed awkwardly, not wanting to bother with the fact that he's lost. Twice over, as a matter of fact. "WHOA!" Undertaker tossed Grell over his shoulder.

"Farewell folks." Undertaker waved as he and Will sauntered off. "Stop by my shop on Pierre and Robbes if you miss us."

"I guess that means he won't be expecting us." Alliahnna jested.

"Too true." Sebastian chuckled.

"Oh my…" Soma breathed, marveling in the beauty as he stepped out into the city, "This is absolutely breath taking!"

"Beyond breath taking." Agni had tears hanging from the corners of his eyes. "I feel as if we have walked onto the precipice of beauty."

"I suppose it has its charm." Lao agreed. "Though my home in China is a bit more…charming." Ran-Mao bobbed her head in blind agreement.

"YOU SIMPLETON!" Druitt bowled Lao over. "How can you disparage such radiance?" He held a rose out to the streets, his eyes roaming over every woman that walked by. "Why such beauty – in the streets and people – is a rarity to come by." Druitt reached out to the side, taking a brown haired woman by the hand and drawing her in. "And you, my dear," He presented the rose to her, "Are a rare beauty indeed." A muscular hand pulled the woman from Druitt's embrace. A man with a goatee growled in his face. "Oh…dear…" Sweat beaded down his face. The man grabbed him by the next. "NOT THE FACE!" The man tossed Druitt like a spear. The Viscount crashed face first into a pole and fell into a barrel of fertilizer.

Jasper scratched his chin, ogling mundanely. "That man doesn't learn, does he?"

"If he did he'd have the pickle rash taken care of by now." Elizabeth commented impishly.

Alliahnna hugged her. "You are my favorite person of all time. Did you know that?"

"Of course, darling." Elizabeth crooned. "Who else could possible favor more than me?" Alliahnna partially lidded his eyes in dismay. Hopefully Sebastian won't be offended. Sebastian was smiling with his hands behind his back. He wasn't offended. But he was, however, still plotting his revenge. She did, after all, force him to sit next to Grell.

Carmichael and Taylor scoffed under their breath, watching Alliahnna and Elizabeth giggled childishly. Angela and Ash mentioned Elizabeth, or at least Alliahnna's best friend, and how Alliahnna…allowed the brother to make her forget. Did Zanosuke do something to Lady Elizabeth?

Phoebus and Schneizel cast nostalgic gaze over the city, feeling a homey warmth fill their hearts. "This city has changed much since we were last here." Schneizel announced, placing a hand to Phoebus's shoulder.

"Indeed, My Lord." Phoebus placed an arm around Esmeralda's waist, bringing her close so to enjoy the vision with her. "This is the city where you, Hana, and I first met." He cooed to her, relishing in the memory.

"I never forgot." Esmeralda rested her head on his shoulder. "You saved us from living on the streets."

"And we've been eternally grateful ever since." Hana sighed happily.

"Don't be too grateful." Alliahnna giggled. "Schneizel may have you do his work for him."

Schneizel touched a hand to his chest, sighing in guilt. "She cuts me to the quick every time." Alliahnna laughed at his dramaturge. Schneizel was happy to see her smiling.

"This city defiantly has changed over the years." Sebastian remarked, stroking his chin in awe.

"Agreed." Jasper inhaled the sweet aroma of flowers basking the courtyard. "I can still recall when the plans for this magnificent city being drawn up."

"I recall it being more…huts and cabin." Zanosuke stroked his neatly trimmed thin beard.

Taylor furrowed his brow. A hint of resentment resonated in his glare. He exchanged a suspicious glance with Carmichael, wondering if he heard the correctly as well. Carmichael nodded. "How old are the three of you exactly?" Taylor asked, trying to hide the demanding tone dripping from his mouth.

Schneizel and Phoebus glanced away. Alliahnna arched a critically brow to the Michaelis family. She thinks sometimes they forgot not everyone knows they're demons. So they're age…may be a little overwhelming. "We are old enough, my boy." Jasper answered indifferently. "Do not let out banter disturb you." He requested with a bow. "We only speak of a drawing and the old plans we laid eyes upon in a museum many years ago."

"Oh." Carmichael bobbed his head. "Alright." He said in a drone. It may have made sense, but Carmichael didn't buy the excuse for a second. Sebastian…He hummed dryly in his mind. Jasper and Zanosuke? He narrowed his eyes to the three, subconsciously furrowing his brow. Are demons?

Alliahnna tried to hide the sigh of relief, giggled nervously. Taylor overheard. She's a demon? He questioned skeptically. Schneizel and Phoebus heard her and laughed. She couldn't help laughing with them. They're in on it? He touched a hand to his forehead, try to suppress such treacherous thoughts.

Carmichael and Taylor saw Alliahnna whispering something to Jasper and Zanosuke. Schneizel placed a hand to Jasper's shoulder, seeming to urge him to do something. Jasper nodded his head and knocked himself on the head. The group laughed. This made Carmichael and Taylor furrow their brows even more. For some reason…they felt as if they were being laughed at. As if they were the part of a joke they weren't made aware of. Perhaps the joke is a little secret! Taylor hissed mentally. The wound on his chest pulsated, aggravating the resentment in his heart. His mind told him not to feel this way. That he should try to think logically. No logic was permitted to enter. Not while sparks of betray emanated in his heart.

Schneizel clapped his hands twice, gaining the crowd's attention. "Alright, Ladies and Gentlemen, time to get to work." He announced. Everyone huddled close, waiting orders. "Those of us who received the letters are to head to the Manor of the Late Count. That is where his body is being kept until the funeral precession at four." Lao, Soma, Alliahnna, Schneizel, Druitt, and Elizabeth were the ones to receive the letter directly. "Lords Barreau and Robbes should be awaiting our arrival."

"Who are they?" Elizabeth asked, seeing as she was invited.

"Barreau is Early Lloyd Barreau of Caledon." The man who sent out the invitations. "And Robbes is Marques Lydia Robbes. She is Lord Monte Cristo's niece." As well as a rank higher than Schneizel. This would be an interesting gathering. "The rest of you may tour the town." He permitted with a wave of his hand. "Find a place for us to stay the night."

"YES SIR!" Maes, Hana, and Esmeralda blurted happily. Alliahnna placed a hand to Sebastian's arm, wishing him a good day. Elizabeth bowed her head to Zanosuke, knowing he'd be fine without her for a few minutes.

"Well boys," Jasper smiled warmly to his sons, "Shall we be off?" His sons both nodded, following after their father. Alliahnna and Sebastian exchanged quick glances, nodding to one another to stay in close contact.

Carmichael and Taylor noticed the nods, wondering what it was all about. They watched attentively as the Michaelis family meandered off nonchalantly. The two exchanged bewildered glances, finally questioning the suspicions burning within their minds. Perhaps they were over thinking things a little much. True the Michaels's were an odd bunch. Recluse in personality. But to decree them demons was farfetched. Not to mention rude.

Could those people from last night be trying to create a wedge between us? Taylor asked himself.

Maes draped his arms around Hana and Esmeralda. "Ladies, I used to live her too." He announced to them. "Want to see the run down hole I called home?"

"Sure." Hana giggled.

"If you insist."

"OH I DO!" Maes dragged them off, marching happily down the stairs. "You will not believe it when you see it!"

Mey-Rin, Finnian, Bardroy, and Tanaka were already halfway down the street before anyone realized they were gone. "Miss Paula, Miss Ran-Mao," Agni bowed, "Shall we tour the town together?" Technically speaking, Agni and Ran-Mao were servants to Soma and Lao. The invitations specified them as the others to be invited.

"I'd love to." Paula beamed. Ran-Mao simply nodded.

"Brilliant." He held his arms out. The two women grabbed on and they sauntered off.

"Carmichael, Taylor," Phoebus hailed to them with a warm smile, "How about we go and search for a place to stay the night?" He proposed.

Carmichael and Taylor's chests pulsated painfully, making the two wince. There may have been doubts about the demon claim, but their hearts still burned with betrayal. There was only one way to settle the matter. But how do they get answers without raising suspicion.

"Of course, Commander." Carmichael agreed full heartedly with a beaming smile. Taylor relaxed his shoulders some. That was their first step.

"Great." Phoebus waved a hand, urging them to follow. As Carmichael and Taylor trailed behind their Lieutenant, they couldn't help casting harsh gazes to the Michaelis family, and Alliahnna and Schneizel who were halfway down the way. Is there really anything being hidden? Taylor questioned.

3-6-9

"GRR!" Angela bit into her lip, drawing blood from the flesh. Daggers from her glare bore for the top of a building, into the separating group. "THIS IS INFURIATING!" She roared, breaking a small part of the roof with her foot. "THOSE…WEAK…HUMANS!" She frothed at the mouth. "HOW DARE THEY RESIST!" Her fingers clawed into the stone wall surrounding the roof, tearing chucks away. "Their loyalty to their precious lieutenant is infuriating! I don't care how strong their love is, WE SHOULD HAVE GONE FOR PHOEBUS OR ELIZABETH! KILLED THEM RIGHT IN FRONT OF THAT WANNABE DEMON HUMAN!" Angela glared to the city in the vast distance, fire roaring in her eyes. "Ash…your plan had better spark results quickly. Or I shall be forced to take matters into my own hands!"

3-6-9

Double chestnut doors opened with low grunt, bringing view to a pine green carpeted foyer with paint white walls. Dark brown couches and lounge chairs were place neatly around a coffee table with glass. A black eerie candelabra was the center piece. Paintings by famous artist, and portraits of family decorated the walls, giving the large room a homey feel to it. But the coffin resting near the balcony window dimmed the warmth into a somber chill.

The coffin was opened at the top half, revealing a peacefully resting middle aged man. His naturally grey hair combed back. The bristles on his face shaven cleanly. The suit he wore as his farewell attire was pressed, ridded of lint, and carefully placed onto his lifeless body. There lied the Count of Monte Cristo, departed from the world of the living to be with his loved ones in the eternal heavens.

Standing over the coffin, her long sun gold blond bangs draping loosely to block her tear filled hazel eyes, was Lady Marques Lydia Robbes de Toulouse. The rest of her long hair was wrapped neatly in a braided bun. White frilly trim of her black mourning dress protruded from the collar, sleeves, and at the foot of the dress. Lydia let her blank stare bore holes into her late Uncle. Her delusional mind begged for him to be playing one of his jokes. For him to spring from the coffin and say, "GOTCHA!" But it would not be so.

"Passing…loss…tragedy…" Lydia rumbled in her thick French accent. "Zat is all zey can say." She cursed the visitors who have paid their respects. "Zey see zis as a simple loss of family!" She hissed through gritted teeth. "Such ignorance! My family was not lost! It was stolen!"

"Ahem…" A clearing throat interrupted Lydia's thoughts. Lydia knit her brow bitterly, demanding to know who dared to disturb her brooding. Glancing back, a man in a black vest and black trousers stood within the doorway. His shoulder length brown hair, neatly trimmed goatee and mustache glistened in the small light in the foyer. His white sleeved arms were spread out, holding the doors open and concealing the visitors behind him. "Lady Robbes, forgive the intrusion." He pardoned himself with his deep voice.

"What is it, Lloyd?" She snapped, returning to her uncle. What was so important that it would tear her away from her uncle.

"The Guests from Paris have arrived." Lloyd Barreau announced, stepping to the side. Lydia growled in the back of her throat, biting her lip as she fought against screaming at them. "Presenting Count Schneizel Le Britannia, Lady Commander Alliahnna P. Britannia, President Lao, Viscount Druitt Chambers, Lady Elizabeth Midford, and Prince Soma Asman Kadar of Bengal."

"Lady Marques de Toulouse," Schneizel announced, bowing with a sweep of his hand. Soma, Lao, and Druitt copied the bow. Elizabeth and Alliahnna curtsied. "Thank you for permitting us into your home." The home was bought by Lord Monte Cristo many years ago. But due to his passing, Lydia was named the next of kin and inherited the manor.

"I did not permit you entry!" She replied hostilely, startling Schneizel. Lydia curled her fingers into the casket, digging her nails into the wood. "Barreau invited you inside as expected guests of tomorrows gathering and you allowed yourselves in!" She clarified, the venom dripping from her words. "Now I bid you pay your respects and be gone!" She commanded with a slam of her hand to the casket.

Druitt and Lao gasped, flinching away. Elizabeth hid behind Alliahnna, startled by the woman's fierce rage. Alliahnna and Soma grunted, disturbed by her untoward speech. Schneizel furrowed his brow, understanding her rage. Not that any of them should be too surprised. Lydia just lost her uncle only a few short days ago. Lost him to a sabotage in Yet here people were. Coming to her doorstep, inviting themselves in, paying respects so to still be allowed into the gathering tomorrow evening. Anyone would be annoyed. More than annoyed. They'd be insulted.

Alliahnna was more than aware of the sorrow emanating from Lydia. It's similar to the pain she felt after losing Ciel. How she pushed everyone away, and pretended to not want anyone to comfort her. Least of all when they call a murder a death. A death is where someone passes on naturally, peacefully. Murder is much more brutal and does not need pretty words in order to sweep it under the rug. And murdered, in Alliahnna – and most likely Lydia – is what Count Monte Cristo was.

"If our presence here is not warranted," Schneizel bowed his head apologetically, "Then we shall take our leave, and return during the funeral." He proposed. "I knew your Uncle very well. I would prefer to say goodbye at an appropriate time."

"Then leave!" She commanded, still not facing the group. "You may adjourn to ze funeral at ze Saint Catherina Memorial site at four!" She granted. Elizabeth fumed, puffing her cheeks. Alliahnna touched a hand to her friend's head. Soothing the steam whistling from her ears.

"By your leave, My Lady." Schneizel led the way out of the foyer. He flashed a quick glance to Alliahnna, nodding his head. Alliahnna nodded back in understanding. The five, with Barreau, followed behind him with Alliahnna taking up the rear. When she came to a halt, Barreau noticed and arched a brow to her. Alliahnna placed a finger to her lips, wanting him to not make a fuss. Barreau faced her to protest. Schneizel placed a hand to the Earl's shoulder, smiling warmly for him to trust her. Barreau, reluctantly, bobbed his head and continued down the stairs. Alliahnna gently closed the doors. Her ears rang as silence engulfed the foyer. Amazing how despair quieted a space.

Lydia proceeded to mourn over the lifeless body of her Uncle and best Friend. Despite her tears drying from the wells of her eyes, her heart still wept, pleading for him to awaken from this eternal slumber. "I believe I requested to be alone!" She snapped, noticing Alliahnna's presence.

Alliahnna was sitting on one of the chairs, hands folded in her lap and eyes closed as she listened to the pain and sorrow emanate from Lydia's voice. "Pardon my boldness, Lady Robbes," Alliahnna bowed her head, showing her sincerity, "But your words may have demanded solitude," She cast a pitiful gaze onto the mourning woman, "But your heart is screaming for companionship. For someone to understand."

Lydia growled rabidly through gritted teeth, whipping around in a flurry of rage. Her dress whirled animatedly with her heated temper. Her hazel eyes bore into Alliahnna's sapphire eyes, peeling away at the stoic expression. "YOU DO NOT COMPREHEND WHAT MY HEART WANTS!" She screeched in outrage. "WHAT GIVES YOU ZE AUTHORITY TO ADVOCATE SUCH A CLAIM?"

"Because I lost both my parents and brother many years ago." Alliahnna stated, swallowing a somber lump. "My parents died in a fire, my brother was stabbed through the chest – all by the same person." The fire in Lydia's eyes extinguished on the wick. She gaped in alarm. "For the longest time I voiced for everyone to leave me alone." She touched a hand to her heart, radiating the pain still residing within her for Lydia to feel. "But I yearned for someone to understand…that I did not seek pity. I wanted vengeance!" Lydia's shoulders sank, her head dropping in shame. She may have been in pain, but she prayed she had not offended Alliahnna. "We came here," Alliahnna continued, meandering to the casket, "Planning on giving apologies and eulogies." Alliahnna glided a hand over the casket. "But you don't want pretty words. You want to make the one who killed your Uncle pay."

Lydia scoffed under her breath. "Have you not heard, English?" Alliahnna smirked at the nickname. She was the 37th person to address her by her ethnicity. "Ze carrot juice and my Uncle's eye drops – ze were, how you say, an accidental mix up." Lydia shuffled a hand in her pocket, producing the white bottle of what Alliahnna assumed were the eye drops in question. "Ze ear diagnosis was just his head cold clearing up. My uncle did have épouvantable – horrible – chronic dry eye." She displayed the bottle to Alliahnna, "Zis bottle was on his person every second of ze day."

"Yet the cause of his death was inflammation of the brain due to an allergic reaction." Allaihnna pointed to the bottle heatedly. "An allergy caused because, somehow – no one has yet to explain –, carrot juice was inside the bottle." Alliahnna crossed her arms and legs, arching an impatiently annoyed brow. "For an extended period of time, My Lady? Without realizing something was wrong?" She tested, insulted by the explanation given. "A brain dead horse would not believe such a tale. And I do not take you for brain dead."

"You seem as if you are interested in zis matter." Lydia remarked, impressed with Alliahnna's strong feelings to this case. "A matter vastly out of your jurisdiction."

Alliahnna rose to her feet, wishing to face the Marques with her full attention. "France has been my home for many years, Lady Robbes." She announced strongly. "Paris may be where my authority lies, but my loyalty is with all of France. I cannot let such a gross oversight go unchecked."

Lydia, though admiring Alliahnna's bravado, shook her head dismally. "Ze investigation has been closed. It has been decreed an accidental death."

"By law." Alliahnna stressed. "Not by you." Lydia knit her brow, feeling cornered by her junior in age. It was refreshing. Alliahnna knelt to one knee, bowing her head. Lydia was shocked by the gesture. "Please allow me to peer further into this matter."

Lydia touched a hand to her chin, contemplating the pros and cons to the offer. Allowing someone with passion, fresh eyes, and an understanding of murder investigations would prove useful. Lydia's heard exploits of Alliahnna and her crack team of enforcers for Schneizel's guard. Their reputation was impressive. The only downside to having someone from outside Toulouse giving aid is the possibility of any evidence gathered being tossed aside.

"Tell me," Lydia approached the kneeling girl, "What reason do you have for lending me your aid?"

A proud smirk slithered across Alliahnna's face. "I have a peeve about allowing investigations go unfinished." She raised her head, "And, incidentally, I'd rather not see someone so young and highly spoken of atrophy from despair."

"Of course you realize you will be met with obstacles." Lydia forewarned her. "Zat is, unless, I give you authority in zis city." She added with a sneaky gleam in her eye.

Alliahnna couldn't help giggling. She rose from her knee, dusting her skirt off. "And what terms must I abide, My Lady, in order to gain this authority?"

Lydia reached into the breast of her dress, drawing a black and white fan. She extended it to Alliahnna's face, making the Phantomhive flinch back. "I must be allowed to participate." Alliahnna raised her brows in surprise. "He was my uncle. I want to be part of this mystery and get answers."

Alliahnna nodded without argument. "In that case, My Lady, consider me and my capable butler at your service."

Lydia arched a skeptical brow. "Your butler?" She questioned dubiously. "How can a simple servant be of any use?"

"Rest assured, Your Ladyship," Alliahnna chuckled, "He's one Hell of a butler."

"Where is zis Hell of a butler?"

Alliahnna touched two fingers to her chest. Hidden under the fingers, the pentagram flashed. "By my order, he shall be a long shortly." She assured the Marques. "For now, may I see where your Uncle was found?"

3-6-9

Barreau stood outside the door, keeping an ear to the crystalized glass as he heard their mutters. Barreau lowered his head somberly, letting a hand fall to his side languidly. "You never could leave matters be, Lydia." A quick flash glowed in the Earl's eyes. "Do not get in over your head."

3-6-9

A jolt struck Sebastian in the back of his mind. He smirked as he placed his tea cup down onto the grated table. "It would appear that I am needed."

Jasper chuckled impishly. "For work. Not pleasure." He quickly sipped his tea. Zanosuke chuckled under his breath.

"Work is pleasure." Sebastian remarked snidely. "And at the end of the day," His grin widened, "Pleasure is work." Sebastian leapt into the air, vanishing over the roof of the diners.

"He knows her for one night, and he's glowing." Zanosuke remarked in a snarky tone. "I never imagined one child could do this."

"She is no ordinary child." Jasper remarked. "As you well know."

"True…" Zanosuke trailed off, taking a bite of his sandwich. "And I believe the other two know it as well."

"The ones who commented on our age?" Zanosuke bobbed his head. "Yes…they seem…" He gazed into his wavy tea, "Unusually attentive. They appear to be watching us."

"Not to mention distant from their lieutenant, and friend Maes."

"Yes…" Jasper trailed off, placing the cup on the table. "Let Phoebus and the others sort it out." He decided. "We shall…observe."

3-6-9

"She remained with Lady Robbes?" Phoebus questioned confusedly.

"Yes." Schneizel nodded. The Count of Paris found his lieutenant and underlings walking out from a high quality hotel near the square of Toulouse. "Alliahnna saw a…kindred spirit in the Marques." Phoebus nodded his head slowly. The Marques lost her only family member, the same as Alliahnna. "Alliahnna wished to tend to her broken heart." Carmichael and Taylor eyed Schneizel skeptically. It wasn't something as meager as a kindred spirit. Alliahnna must have remained behind for something. "I'm sure she and Sebastian will handle things."

Carmichael and Taylor grunted. The marks on their chests pulsated painfully. As if the mentioning of Alliahnna and Sebastian together tempered the flaring resentment recently burning in their hearts. They grasped their shirts, clamping the pain before it worsened. "Very well." Phoebus responded. Carmichael and Taylor gaped in disbelief. What did he mean by very well? Why would Alliahnna need Sebastian if she was just spending time with the Marques? And what did Schneizel mean when he said They would handle things? Handle what? Something was off.

"Now I must return to the Viscount." Schneizel turned to the square of people, seeing the viscount being threatened by big, burly men. "Lest we have a murder in the state of Toulouse."

"In that case," Phoebus knocked on the pedestal to the stairs of the hotel, "This hotel shall serve our needs. I gave them everyone's names."

"Very good." Schneizel waved as he turned to walk away. "Take some time to yourselves." He offered, wandering down the sidewalk. "The funeral at St. Catherina's Memorial begins in less than two hours in case you wish to go." Schneizel entered the fray of people. He motioned his hands, urging the men to calm down.

Phoebus shook his head with a content smile. "Never a dull moment." Carmichael and Taylor exchanged apprehensive glances. What did they mean by they were handling things? "SO," Phoebus blurted, clapping his hands, "How about some lunch gentlemen?" Phoebus proposed, bringing them back to reality. "There's a bistro just around the corner."

"Um…right…" Taylor coughed. Scrambling his hands, his arms jittered as he pointed down the way. "Let's go." Phoebus nodded happily and led the way. He scratched his head, slightly bewildered by Taylor's scattered brain. Carmichael and Taylor followed after their superior. Carmichael pat Taylor on the back, calming his friend down. But despite Carmichael's efforts, Taylor couldn't help but wonder what it was Alliahnna and Sebastian were up to. More importantly, why were Schneizel and Phoebus being cryptic about it? Are those two in trouble…again?

"Pardon, Lieutenant." Taylor beckoned Phoebus. "But what did Count Schneizel mean when he said They would handle things?" Phoebus turned his head to Taylor with his brow arched, unsure of what his subordinate meant. "Alliahnna and Sebastian – are they alright?"

"They're fine." He promised. "Alliahnna is just taking a personal interest in the Lady Marques."

Taylor felt unsatisfied with the answer. It was more of a cryptic excuse for them not to get involved further. Carmichael narrowed his eyes accusingly, "You mean in the death of Count Monte Cristo." He assumed. Phoebus's throat clenched. Carmichael scoffed under his breath. "Figures." He snickered. "Lady Alliahnna is incapable of leaving well enough alone."

"That she is." Phoebus laughed. "So in the meantime," Phoebus winked, touching a finger to his lips, "We keep this to ourselves and wait for the funeral to begin."

"The funeral?" Taylor questioned curiously. "Why until then?"

"Because Alliahnna plans to see the guilty party by then."

"Wonder why she even cares?" Taylor snickered derisively. "This isn't our city."

Phoebus's shoulder sank. He was appalled by the words. "Perhaps not!" Phoebus snapped, startling his men. "But Alliahnna believes in justice! That's why she's second to Schneizel and our commander!"

"I always assumed she was commander because she suddenly acquired strength beyond any mortal man." Taylor countered. "All after meeting that butler of hers." His chest throbbed. Phoebus was taken aback by the statement. He inadvertently swallowed a nervous lump lodged in his throat, sweat trickling down the side of his head. Taylor locked his sights onto the apprehension of his superior. He knew he was onto something. "After meeting Sebastian, suddenly this girl of what, 18, is really to take on the world. I wonder how that is?"

"If you have something you wish to say, Taylor," Phoebus spat his name like it were a fungus, "Get it off your chest or forever hold your piece!"

"I just find it strange how a girl who nearly wasted away in her room suddenly relieved Sumano of his duties!"

"You didn't seem to complain when she did!" Phoebus countered back harshly. "In fact, you were thrilled! While you weren't tormenting her!" He added.

"Talk about pot calling the kettle black!" Carmichael scoffed. His chest throbbed harshly. "You tormented her worse than we did!" Phoebus was stunned by his subordinates – his friends' – behaviors. Why were they acting this way? More importantly, how did a simple conversation turn so aggressive?

Phoebus dropped his head, shaking it woefully. "I know not what it is that has gotten into the both of you," He began. Sadness radiated in his tone. "But know that I am making amends for my childish behavior! As I THOUGHT the lot of you were." Carmichael and Taylor tensed nervously. "I care not how Alliahnna came by her new found strength or how she uses it!" Phoebus got in Taylor's face, sensing the greatest hostility from him. "My only concern is her happiness, and how she's utilized her strength to find justice for those who had it taken from them. Something Sumano only did when it served him!"

"Explains why she murdered him in cold blood." Carmichael snapped back.

"She saved us!" Phoebus blurted. "Sumano would have killed us!"

Carmichael's chest flared in pain. "She severed his hand!" Carmichael hissed. "He was helpless!"

"He was also given two chances at life!" Phoebus flashed two fingers into Carmichael's face. "The first time when he was let go, and the second when he was caught in the underground fighting scandal!"

Taylor's chest throbbed. "Why are you defending her?" Taylor challenged. "Why are you protecting that DEMON?"

Phoebus turned pale. His shoulders sank. Taylor narrowed his sights. There! Beyond Phoebus's control, a fist flew into Taylor's face, knocking him into a wall. Carmichael staggered back, shocked by the attack. Phoebus panted and huffed, his entire body vibrating in rage. "I suggest you both take some time to clear your heads." Phoebus rumbled. Taylor ran his wrist over his mouth, clearing the blood from his jaw. "I know not what's gotten into you." Phoebus turned his back. "But I do know…I don't want to lose my closest friends because of it."

Carmichael gaped in shock. "Closest friends?" He repeated in disbelief. The throbbing pain in his chest seemed to die down. "Us?"

"Right now?" Phoebus lowered his head. "No." Carmichael felt his heart tear. Phoebus wandered into the square, losing himself in the vibrant cheers. Carmichael and Taylor watched in horror as they watched their lieutenant…their friend…leave them in their thick cloud of contempt.

Taylor's breathing gradually slowed, his buzzing nerves pacifying. Carmichael helped his friend to his feet, removing a patch of dust from his sleeve. The throbbing in their chests brought on by the gashes seemed to dissipate. Now all that remained was the ebbing of their wounded hearts. The red haze cleared from their eyes, bringing their world back into color, and a horrible recollection of what just transpired. "What did we just do?" Carmichael asked, praying the situation wasn't as bad as it seemed.

"Honestly…" Taylor touched his chest, feeling the mark pulsate under his fingertips. "I really don't know." He lowered his head. His expression…Taylor thought grimly to himself. The fearful, pale expression that appeared on Phoebus's face. It was the same as a perp being caught in a lie. He hesitated before the strike. Taylor gazed out to the crowd, seeing his lieutenant gone. Lieutenant Phoebus…she is a demon…and you knew. The wound on his chest ebbed painfully. The cross emblems flickered in his eyes. Why didn't you tell us?

3-6-9

Ash, hovering above with a sparkling gleam in his eyes, snickered victoriously. He watched as Phoebus hid himself in the crowd, desperately wishing to put distance between him and his subordinates. The horrified expression of disbelief riddled his face. "Lieutenant..." Ash purred, "It's only natural to lash out when a truth is announced." He chortled mockingly. Ash's attention fell onto the crestfallen subordinates. Carmichael writhing from being called a friend, and Taylor aching as he tried to fight the rage ebbing in his heart. "The seeds of doubt were planted. Now they begin to sprout into mistrust." Ash's smirk faded into bewilderment. He stroked his chin, seeing the struggle in Taylor as he fended against the mark on his chest. "Intriguing. I may need to ask Angela to tighten her grip."

I'm going to end it like this for now. I'm going on a little break. The fic isn't forming well again. See you people next time.