Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Author's Note: Everything I plan to write in the near future isn't all that happy, so here's one last shot of sunshine. ;3
Warnings: SebaCiel, fluff, crack. Part of the "Bicentennial" universe. ("Bicentennial," "Inevitable," "Five Thousand," and "Timetable.") Takes place between "Bicentennial" and "Five Thousand." (And mentions events referenced in "Five Thousand.") Edited quickly. No offence meant to those who like Starbucks…? XD; And finally, there's one really bad, distasteful joke. You'll know it when you get to it. It's abortion-related. I'm sorry. orz
Dedication: For Nene, who listened to me ramble about the idea and laughed (and discouraged) when appropriate. XD
Ciel Phantomhive didn't quite understand the attraction of television.
Sure, it was an intriguing invention. Sure, he watched it from time to time. Sure, there were even shows that he liked. But the staged theatrics projected onto flat plasma screens hardly held the allure and appeal of natural human drama, no matter how mundane. Admittedly, soap operas might be train wrecks, but weren't real train wrecks far more fascinating? And yes, tales of separated siblings getting married— only to discover the truth behind their physical similarities, and the fact that their mother had been diagnosed with a rare strain of cancer, and that their mother's doctor had been their father's secret lover for nigh twenty years—might all sound very interesting in theory, but wasn't the neighbor's affair with the local high school principal far juicer fare for gossip? Didn't that hold more potential for blackmail and corruption? Honestly, there was no need for the trash rags and tabloids; just people-watch for an hour or two, and that should be more than enough to sustain even the nosiest of busybodies.
But that wasn't the only reason the little demon sat beside the window at the local Starbucks, ebony-tipped fingers wrapped around a cooling cup of some overpriced, over-processed, coffee-flavored beverage. No, if he were to be completely honest (something he tried very hard not to be, sans with a few select individuals), Ciel would have to confess that he found a strange sort of comfort in people-watching. It was fun—almost kind of cozy—to observe happy friends as they wandered by, to see the bashful couples holding hands, to snort over siblings picking on one another… Nothing on television would ever compare to raw imagination, and Ciel sometimes indulged in imagining the most peculiar things: what would it have been like to have been raised as a regular child? Not only in his own era, but in this one? What if he'd never become a demon? What if he'd never met Sebastian? What if he'd gotten married? What if he'd had a family?
Behind the silvery fringe of styled bangs, his Contract seal thrummed and tingled with a dusty old power; he pulled his gaze away from a mother and a father and cooing their infant—a beautiful boy with dark hair, apple cheeks, and cobalt eyes. In their place, Ciel turned his stare in the direction of the tickling-tug; a smile quirked his lips when he found Sebastian in the chair across from his, holding a Styrofoam cup and a half-folded apron.
"Working hard or hardly working?" Ciel greeted pleasantly, fully aware of the triteness of the salutation. Sebastian's response was a condescending sneer, nose scrunching as he noiselessly mimicked his master. Ah, how they'd both "matured" with age. Once he'd finished giggling, the younger of the two twisted fully from the casement and grinned more broadly. "How long is your break?"
"Fifteen minutes," Sebastian replied, crossing one lithe leg over another and placing his untouched coffee beside his master's. Once he'd done so, his hands returned to his lap, allowing Ciel the pleasure of playing with the drink: adding unhealthy amounts of sugar, cream, honey, and whatever other makeshift sweeteners he'd found in his boredom. Not that he'd drink it, of course, but who cared? They were demons, after all, and had no concern for waste; little bits of evil added up quite nicely. Starving children in Africa, etcetera, etcetera. "Just enough time to thoroughly pester you, then leave. A drive-by harassing, if you will. Only I'll be sitting, thank you, because my feet hurt."
"And to think, you were once so frightening," the not-boy teased, dipping a stir-stick into Sebastian's (almost white) beverage and mixing it briskly. With all of the junk he'd poured in, it was almost more of a solid than a liquid. The saccharine sludge oozed and burbled at Ciel's effort. "Now you're too lazy to even bother me properly."
"Hey now," Sebastian frowned in mock offense. "I managed to interrupt your daydreaming, yes? That has to count for something." But he winked as he protested, and chuckled when Ciel gagged. In negation, of course. Not because he'd tasted a teaspoon of the sugar-slop. "What were you pondering over, if I may ask? Whatever it was, you seemed to be thinking on it rather hard."
He waited a moment for a reply, but Ciel's mouth was still clamped firmly shut—face contorted as he tried to fight through the pain of his experimental sip. Sebastian rolled his eyes, and in so doing caught a glimpse of those beyond the glass. It didn't take long for him to piece an answer together. "Ah," he murmured, rosy stare softening the smallest of fractions. Coal-black lashes lowered decoratively; he shot his tamer an almost accusatory glance. It made Ciel feel oddly… uncomfortable. Even disregarding the unadulterated and strangely-bitter sugar curdling his tongue. "Perhaps it was not so much memories that the master was musing on, but wishes. Or worse, regrets."
In an instant, Ciel's grimace became a scowl, and all other senses were forgotten. "I regret nothing," he retorted firmly, if not a bit frostily… but the ice in his tone melted at the smallest glimmer of pain he caught in the corner of his servant's eye. "I don't," he reiterated quietly, emphatically, as he reached across the wooden table to touch Sebastian's arm. "But don't you ever wonder what it would have been like? You know, if things had gone as they were always meant to?"
The other hummed, and for a minute seemed somehow distant… but then returned to himself, with a gaze gentler than before. "I did, once," he admitted simply, clasping the petite hand that continued to cling to his elbow. "But I've since realized that this is the way things should have gone. Back then, we both had our pride, and through that blinding shroud I couldn't have seen, would have refused to realize… I did not see until so much later how much you had changed me, and how much I needed you. I was—and still am—hungry, yes. But my hunger for you runs so much deeper than that of an empty belly."
Sebastian offered an easy smile, as if what he'd said had been so obvious and natural that he had no need or reason to feel embarrassed, even as he lifted Ciel's palm to his lips and kissed it. Ciel, for his part, turned the same shade of red as his flashing irises. He appeared to be glowing just as brightly, as well.
"…ahem. Well, um, yes. There is that," the once-boy conceded, sounding torn between pleasure and chagrin as he blushed scarlet and pulled his hand away, hiding it between clamped knees. "And it's not that you're not right about that, or that I want—or wanted—anything else to happen to me. To us. But sometimes I can't help but think of what things would have been like if my parents hadn't died, or if I'd married Lizzie. If we'd had children." He shrugged, almost helplessly. Or maybe it was apologetic. "It is human nature to wonder about such things, isn't it?"
"Hm. Indeed. And human nature was never something you had time for as a human," Sebastian conceded, darkly amused by the irony. He leaned back in his seat, ideas and contemplations playing out across his porcelain face; he tapped steepled fingers, he jostled a draped foot, he stared deeply into Ciel's sapphire eyes… And Ciel, in turn, felt even more awkward than before. Which was, in fact, saying something. He was just about to speak up and ask what on earth was running through his butler's twisted mind when said butler broke the hush, somber expression melting into a chipper grin.
"…well," he then concluded, sounding oddly pleased with himself, "as painful as it is for me to admit, young master, there is not much I can do in regards to your parents. You have known that since the very beginning. That said," Sebastian continued, cutting off his lord's near-palpable questions before he could even form them, "if it is a baby that you desire, I would be more than happy to be of assistance."
"I—…what?" Visibly baffled (and perhaps rightfully so), Ciel's expression morphed from one of confusion to one of bewildered outrage. "Why— how—? I'm not going to let you steal some poor soul's child! Or, God forbid, find another nun and—!"
The younger devil's appalled tirade was interrupted by a chortle and a flippant wave of a hand; he stumbled to a reluctant stop, but still seemed faintly terrified by whatever was next going to come out of his servant's beaming mouth.
"Don't be absurd," Sebastian affectionately chastised, lounging against his backrest like a king in a very comfortable throne. "I would never do any such thing. No, I am of course suggesting that we have a child together. It is quite doable. I believe you are already aware of the, ah, logistics, shall we say…" He smirked at the delicate euphemism, all the more delighted by his lord's claret cheeks and horrified glare. "We could easily conceive, if you so desired it."
Ciel spluttered at the c-word, and Sebastian was so elated, he half-wondered why he'd never bothered teaching his earl (back when he was an earl) about the birds and the bees in a less… pleasurable fashion. What fun it would have been, back in the day… But this was no time for reminiscing; there was too much fun to be had in the present. "Impossible! We're both men!" the little one was hissing, vibrant magenta from head to toe and squirming to boot—but not, Sebastian was amused to note, outright squashing his suggestion. How interesting. "Neither of us have the… the parts for it!"
"Not so," Sebastian calmly corrected, ever at ease in the most bizarre of situations. Though he did hesitate, then, at a thought. "Well… Conceivably—" (another squawk) "—that could be a concern for you—you are a special case, my lord. But as I was born a demon, I am entirely capable of being fully female. It is as simple for me as being fully male. I admit, I do personally identify myself as 'male,' and as a masculine form was your wish when we met, it has never before been an issue… but our disguises can be more than skin-deep, when necessary. And it is necessary for me to please my master."
He grinned agreeably, but Ciel was too busy trying to collect his wits to notice. "But… but…" his tamer weakly protested; Sebastian fancied that he could hear the neurons laced within his gray matter snapping.
"It is not as if you cannot perform when I am a woman," the servant offered helpfully, in tones so complimentary they were clearly meant to mock. He leaned an inch or two closer, his husky voice lowering to become a reverential whisper. "You did wonderfully back in France. I can hardly think of our encounters in respectable company, if you know what I mean. Poor Lady Elizabeth certainly missed out—"
"Oh, shut up, do!" Ciel squeaked—cleared his throat—then squeaked again, mortified. In a fit of juvenile humiliation, he buried his face in the arms he'd crossed atop the table, as if in some poor attempt to hide. Sebastian inwardly crowed with glee, basking in the paradox that was his beloved young master. Such a queer reality, that this was the same licentious creature who would so joyfully ravish him in front of shinigami, relishing the audience. How funny, how entertaining, that talk of impregnation and babies would rile him so. Well, everybody had their limits… Which, coincidentally, was something that Ciel was realizing right that very instant.
"Wait a moment," he muttered, head popping back up to glower at his servant. "No. No, you can't. You can't possibly stay a woman for as long as it would take to… er… I mean, people would notice! They'd wonder where you'd gone!"
"No, I could continue to utilize my male form," Sebastian corrected with a lazy shrug. What with the speed at which he was able to shoot back his answers, it was almost as if he'd given every potential hitch or snag in this "plan" of his due consideration. Ciel wasn't sure he wanted to know why. "I'd need only maintain a feminine appearance internally. And I doubt that anyone would find a justifiable reason to give me an x-ray over the course of a measly six months, six weeks, and six days."
"Six months, six weeks, and si…? Oh. Got it," Ciel announced hollowly, as if he really should have seen that coming. (Which he should have.) But his energy returned to him almost instantaneously, with a vigorous shake of his head and a noisy scoff. "But—no! No, that would make it worse! How would you explain your… er… condition if your outside was male? Pregnancy comes with a very distinct look about it!"
Sebastian blinked once, eyes wide and innocent. "If it bothers you that much that people would think I'd gone to the fat, we could go on holiday," he proposed cheerfully, plainly pleased with this particular idea. He did work very hard, after all. A vacation would be well-deserved. "Or tell people that I had a stomach tumor. Or both! You just have to think creatively, my lord."
The chipper encouragement was wasted upon Ciel, however, who was leveling Sebastian a look that unmistakably suggested that someone at this table had lost his mind. Someone who wasn't him, more specifically, despite the fact that he'd just spent the last four minutes writhing and flopping around. "There's a fine, fine line between creativity and insanity," the once-child flatly drawled, having apparently exhausted his well of good humor. "And I think you've just crossed it. I'm putting my foot down. No—just… just no—to all of that stuff. I regret ever having brought it up. We are not having a baby, and that is final!"
Silence. A very heavy, heavy silence.
"…oh?" Sebastian then murmured, cocking his head to the right. He was still grinning peacefully—that old trademarked expression of his— as he mulled over his master's shrill announcement. "Well, dear me. This is a problem," he lightly professed… and only then did Ciel notice that—for the longest time, now—the demon's hands had been resting gently atop his belly, caressing it with the subtlest of loving, ginger strokes. "You really should have come to that decision before our passionate tryst in France, Ciel."
Ciel's flushed face lost all color. "…wha—?" he finally managed, effectively choking on air. "What're you—?"
But Sebastian was under no obligation to reply. After all, the question was only half-formed; he couldn't possibly respond to an inquiry that he hadn't officially been asked, now, could he? In an unusual show of patience, he did wait for a moment as his tamer tried to find the right words, but in the end couldn't resist making a production out of checking his watch. And when he did that…
"Oh my, would you look at the time? My break has just ended!" the elder devil sang, jumping to his feet with the enthusiasm of a nubile school girl. As the once-boy's broken brain tried to repair itself (mouth opening and closing in a continued, futile effort to form a coherent sentence), Ciel's servant swept the trash from their table, kissed his master swiftly on the temple, and bustled back to the counter to continue making mochas and frappichinos for the city's money-wasting elitists.
"And what on earth has you so tickled?" a bespeckled young woman named Ariel inquired, arching an eyebrow at her coworker's unusual antics. Though Sebastian had never before been in a notably bad mood at work, his good moods hadn't ever seemed quite so genuine. He graced his colleague with a devious smirk as he pulled a new canister of whipped cream from the fridge.
"I just played a very entertaining joke on my brother," Sebastian then explained, his voice frothing with an undercurrent of snickers. "It has been a long while since I was last able to trick him. I will apologize for it later, of course, but for the time being, I must admit that I am basking in the glory of a somewhat-cruel victory."
Ariel tossed one of her twin plaits over her shoulder, forehead knitting as she mentally ticked off all of the unfamiliar faces she'd seen in the shop that day. "Brother…? Oh! That cute, dark-haired boy!" she said (perhaps a bit loudly) as she clapped her hands in realization. But as she remembered the child's face, tone, and deep, worried eyes, she couldn't help but frown. It was an expression that she didn't hesitate sharing with Sebastian. "Hm, well, I hope that prank was worth it, because he seemed pretty bothered about something," Ariel told him, in the stern, mother-like, lecturing tones that she often used when talking to new employees. "I'd forgotten, since we had that big rush right after he left, but your brother stopped me when you were in the back room. He said to tell you that he'd be 'round to pick you up when your shift was over, but he had to go out and buy some emergency coat hangers…?" She shrugged, nonplussed. "I thought it was a weird reason to leave, and even weirder since he seemed so very grave about it, but if it was a reaction to your jok— Sebastian? Are you okay? You look a trifle green…?"
The brunette paused in her ramblings, concern switching subjects as she reached out to check her associate's temperature. Sebastian sidestepped her hand with a nervous laugh, indeed looking somewhat multihued.
"Er, no, no, I'm fine," he insisted, despite the clammy sweat that had bubbled to the surface of his brow. Goodness, she had never seen the man look so antsy… It was like she was seeing a whole new side of Sebastian, today. "But, um… I need to make an emergency phone call. Right now. Excuse me."
And before Ariel could remind him that he'd already had his break, and that using cell phones on-the-clock was against company policy, Sebastian had disappeared into the back room again, accessing his speed-dial as quickly as his fingers would allow. Well, maybe he was calling his doctor? That would make his rule-breaking forgivable. Either way, whatever. She'd just blackmail him into letting her have the extras from the tip jar tonight in exchange for keeping quiet.
Adjusting her glasses with a hum and a nod, the young woman returned happily to work.