I bet you have never thought that there would be another update.

Honestly, I gave up on this story. I mean, I really appreciate your support and I know that I said "A LOT OF REVIEWS = HAPPY AND MOTIVATED AUTHOR = FASTER UPDATES = HAPPY READERS!" in my note in the previous chapter. Faster updates would actually happen as I had promised if I didn't lost my drive for this story. Losing the drive to continue this story was why I stopped.

But why did I post a new chapter out of the blue when I said that I gave up? A certain reader of mine had somehow managed to, magically boost my drive which had supposedly gone poof, with her review. Something about what she said had set off a spark in me.

So here it is – a new chapter. Enjoy!


Chapter 34


She squirmed in discomfort at the pressure against her hips, trying to resist the urge to push it off. Even though she knew that this position she was in didn't mean anything, she could not stop the pink tint on her cheeks from glowing even brighter.

Hell, being straddled on by Ciel Phantomhive while sitting on an ice-cold snow-covered ground in an alley was not an ideal way, her ideal way to stay hidden. This was an extremely uncomfortable and sexually awkward situation to be in.

Her legs that sat crossed under her were getting soaked to the point that they felt like frozen meat. Her back was sore from being poked by the sharp corners of the crates she was leaning against. And the way Ciel was leaning over her, caging her with his body and his knees by her hips was making her blush. Their hiding spot they were in was small. If she was to lean another inch forward, her face would be squashed up against Ciel's chest.

She wasn't exactly clear how they got into this position. All she knew was that they had to squeeze into this one-man hiding space the crates provided in order to avoid getting caught by those men. Putting the limited space aside, it was a perfect spot to hide, she have to admit, since there was an addition forest-green cover over this one-man space to conceal them.

Sighing softly, she gradually stretched out her numb legs as much as the little space allow, careful not to knee the male in the groin. Her movement somehow managed to earn her an annoyed grunt from the male above whose attention was outside their hiding place. "Stop fidgeting, Blancbaston." He muttered flatly, attention still fixated on the outside.

Glowering up at Ciel, Estella stubbornly continued what she was doing, shifting herself to find a more bearable position.

A cluck of tongue brought her attention upwards, in time to see the hovering male withdrawing himself away from the little gap he was peeking through. "Stop that, idiot." He hissed, gaze dropping down to meet her eyes sharply. His dark blue eye was piercing with impatience and annoyance.

The sides of her mouth were tugged down into a frown upon seeing the look he gave her. "Try sitting still on snow. It will freeze your ass off like some goddamn meat." She scowled, pouting impatiently at him.

The impatience in his eye faded away as he stared at the pouting girl below with an unimpressed look. Silence began to fill the tiny space between them as they continued their little stare-down. "Tch." Ciel finally broke away, rolling his eye heavenwards. "Pouting like a brat. How childish." Despite his words, a subtle blush made its way across his cheeks.

All he got in return was another glower from her.

Running a hand down his face with a sigh, a bored look was on his face when he looked up to meet her eyes again. "So are you done fidgeting then?" He arched an eyebrow at her. "If yes, I would like to continue my lookout, without you fidgeting under me." He shot her a warning look before raising his eye to the little gap.

His face was scrunched in concentration once again.

Letting out a soft sigh, she let her gaze drop from Ciel's face and frowned to herself as a realization along with guilt sank upon her. Her hands balled themselves into fists as the frustration in her faded off for the bitter feeling to set in.

He was just trying to protect her and yet…

Leaning against the stack of crates behind her with a sigh, she tipped her head back and gazed up at the hovering male with a guilty scowl. "Hey. Sorry about that, Phantomhive…"

Ciel snapped his head down at her in surprise, mouth hanging open a fraction. Did she just apologize? He blinked at her in disbelief. Did he hear her correctly? Was it even possible to hear an apology from someone as stubborn and prideful as her? "W-What did you just…say? He continued blinking at her in disbelief.

Tilting her head at him with a puzzled look on her face, Estella arched an eyebrow at him. "Erm…I'm sorry about just now?"

Silence was Ciel's reply as he continued staring at her. His visible eye darted around her face as he pressingly tried to let her words sink in. Estella blinked in puzzlement in return as she patiently watched the boy study her face, tilting her head with curiosity at the confused look on his face.

Their breathing continued to mingle as silence stretched between them.

After what seemed like forever, his gaze softened the slightest on her, only to be gone the next second when he blinked it away. "Tch." He finally looked away. "It's fine."

She nodded slowly at his response, racking her brain for a topic to stop the imminent awkwardness that was starting to form between them. When she'd finally found a topic, she opened her mouth to whisper. "So… we managed to find out something useful-"

"Where the fuck are those brats?!" Letting out a soft gasp, the girl clamped her mouth shut in surprise.

Almost immediately, another voice pierced through the silence of the night. "And why the hell do we have to be chasing those little fuckers in this shitty night anyway!?" In contrast of the loudness and clarity of the voice, the sound of footsteps was barely audible and they sounded far. However, this did not stop the hiding ones from freezing up.

"Goddamn it…" Ciel cursed under his breath as he quietly pulled the fabric above down to make sure that their hiding place was completely covered by it. Once that was done, he lowered himself closer to the ground, too focused on the outside to realize that he had settled himself onto Estella's lap causing the girl's eyes to spring wide open in shock.

With his gaze fixated at the top, he was unaware of the uncomfortable position he had put them in.

Trying to ignore the weight on her lap, Estella lifted her gaze from the face which was only inches above hers to the cover above, keeping her head still to avoid head-butting Ciel. Blushing helplessly, she tried not to be daunted by the proximity between. However, it proved to be a little difficult for her to do as she struggled to focus on the ongoing outside.

Sighing softly under her breath after a while, Estella let her gaze drop back down, getting tired from keeping her eyes fixed on the top. Squirming slightly in discomfort to the warm pressure on her lap, she looked up at the male whose gaze never wavered from above. Keeping her hearing sharp, she listened out for the men, offhandedly tracing the masculine jawline before her with her eyes.

Silence accompanied them as they focused on the growing sound of footsteps which their ears had managed to catch onto.

Ciel scowled at the realization of how close the men were. The prickling sensation on his skin has intensified and the tiny voice in the back of his mind which was warning him of danger was now deafening.

Lowering his gaze to the girl below, his breath hitched when he was met with a pair of ice-blue eyes, just a breath distance away from him. "What the…" He jerked his head away in surprise.

"Shhh…" The girl threw him a warning look, placing a finger over her lips.

Ciel nodded slowly and moved his gaze away from her in embarrassment when he realized what he was sitting on. His cheeks grew flushed as he lifted himself off her lap and edged away as much as he could.

Running a hand through his hair, he glanced up with a flushed face. "W-Why didn't you tell me that I was sitting on you?" He spluttered, instantly reducing to a whisper when he realized that he had raised his voice.

Estella eyed him with a bored look "Well, I thought that I should be cooperative and not interrupt your lookout." She drawled, shrugging nonchalantly.

Ciel raised an eyebrow at her. "Oh?" His eye danced with amusement. "Suddenly so obedient?"

"O-Obedient?" The girl scowled, shook a fist at him. "What the hell do you mean by-?"

"Where the fuck did they go?!"

The two immediately fell into silence and turned to the direction where the sound of pounding footsteps had seemed to cease at. Their eyes were sharp with caution when they turned back to each other, as in trying to warn each other not to make a sound.

"Shit this! I'm getting tired of chasing after stupid brats!" A voice laced with frustration echoed down the alley.

Almost immediately after that was said, the sound of frantic footsteps gradually shifted to the shuffling sound of feet and to silence which was broken by the other voice.

"It's freezing! C'mon, let's get some beer."

"Yeah, yeah, let's go."

The sound of footsteps started up again. This time, less frantic and calmer than earlier's.

Ciel felt his wound-up body relaxed at what they just heard. "Looks like they're giving up." He silently shifted so that he could be on his knees, forcing himself to ignore the shot of iciness that went up his body when he did that.

Letting out a soft sigh, Estella got herself onto her knees too, dusting the clinging snow off her pants. "We should wait for a little longer to make sure." She glanced over to Ciel with a wary look.

He nodded in agreement. "While we are at that…" He lifted up the eyepatch on his face to reveal his contract-marked eye which made the girl look over at him sharply, eyes widening in fascination at the glowing pentacle in that eye. "Sebastian. This is an order…"

.…


The whole world was spinning when he sat up on his bed. The painful groan that was building up in his throat escaped from his mouth as he placed a hand on his forehead to wipe the beads of sweat on it. Breath hitching in surprise, Ciel hastily withdrew his hand from his forehead and blinked owlishly at his hand. He placed his hand back on his head.

His forehead was warm. A little warmer than usual.

Dropping his hand onto his lap, Ciel tipped back his head and leaned heavily on the headboard behind with a weary sigh. His eyebrows were furrowed with displeasure, feeling a slight light-headedness from the little head movement he just did. Much to his dismay, his nose and throat didn't feel right either.

Last night's chase must have caused him these, he thought grumpily.

Closing his eyes, he frowned in discomfort, taking note of the mild burning sensation at the back of them. He kept his eyes closed as he thought back to the night before.

He snorted disdainfully at the thought of how he somehow ended up getting the back of his shirt wet, returning to his manor on the carriage with it plastered to his back like it has glue on it. His skin was itchy and clammy. He was absolutely irked and disgusted the whole way back.

It was not a wonder how he landed himself up in this condition.

Letting out a heavy sigh, Ciel lazily opened his eyes, casting his discomfort aside. He glanced over to the clock to catch sight of time, only to realize that there was only five minutes left before Sebastian comes strolling through his door with his breakfast.

The boy pondered in silence whether to go back to sleep and wait for the butler to wake him up or just get out of bed, running a hand through his messy hair. Glancing over to the windows, his brows furrowed at the thought of those endless piles of irksome paperwork, piling up so high that he could barely see over his desk. Sighing, he made a mental note to tidy up his desk a little later.

With a scowl and an annoyed sigh, he finally made his decision and threw off the thick cover.

….


Estella stared at the white beast in front of her in amazement before glancing over to Sebastian excitedly. "This is my horse?"

"Yes." Sebastian looked down at her, stroking the beast on its head. "Since you already know how to ride a horse, there's no need to teach you. I want you two to be familiar with each other first so today's training is riding and taming her."

"So it is a she, huh." The servant watched the horse nip on a strand of grass at its feet.

"I'll give you an hour to do this." The butler gazed down at the pocket watch in his hand. "After that, come back to the manor for more training." He shut the watch with a snap and slipped it back into his suit.

She sighed at the mention of more training and nodded grudgingly. "Okay."

With a nod back at her, Sebastian spun around on his heels and strolled back to the manor.

Watching the distant figure of the butler pull the doors apart when he reached the building, she turned her attention to the busy animal which was nibbling at the strands of grass around it with hands rested on her hips. "Now…what should I name you?" Her eyes narrowed in thoughts.

...


Whack!

Estella stumbled back at the kick she received at her abdomen, clutching onto her stomach with a pained frown. She was about to hunch over to wait for the throbbing pain to fade away, however her opponent was relentless in his attacks. He didn't just stop there as he swung a fist at her.

The girl widened her eyes in surprise when she glanced up to see a fist flying towards her face, and gasped, quickly sidestepping it. She was quick but not quick enough to avoid getting snagged at the cheekbone by one of its knuckles.

Rubbing her face, she glared in annoyance at the attacker and without warning, leapt off the ground, turning her body at the waist to deliver a swift kick to his stomach in retaliation.

Much to her satisfaction, the male yelped in surprise as he stumbled back and clutched onto his stomach like she did earlier. A grimace of pain flickered across his face as he let out a groan. "HA!" He snapped his head up to see the girl chortling away and growled irritably in return.

The girl planted her hands on her hips and broke into the smirk. "Looks like we're even now!" She paced in a circle around him, smirking smugly.

However, her little moment of glory was quickly interrupted when she felt the legs under her being swiped off the ground. Things were happening really quickly. All she could do was blink owlishly as she watched the world around her move alarmingly fast. The shriek which was making its way out of her mouth escaped as a squeak instead as she hit the floor.

Wincing at the throbbing ache in her back, she stared blankly at the ceiling above, still blinking owlishly as she tried to comprehend what just happened. She could hear the shuffling sound of feet, and this alerted her to the presence which was kneeling down beside her lying form. She numbly turned her head to her opponent, staring with a dazed look as she pressingly tried to grasp the situation.

When she finally found the answer, her face darkened into a glower.

There he was, kneeling on a knee beside her with a smug grin plastered on his face. This time, it was him who was chortling away, snorting like a pig between his laughter. "Who said we're even?"

"Seriously, Bard," Estella propped herself up on her forearms and furrowed her eyebrows at him. "If that's not even, then what the hell do you call that? She snapped in annoyance at the sight of his widening smirk.

The chef ran a hand through his messy blond hair lazily and chuckled in amusement. "I was a soldier for God's sake! I'd been on so many battlefields! That was nothing! If you can think you can take me on right now, dream on! You'll need to wait another million years to do so!" His smug smirk widened even further as he raised a hand towards her head.

The girl shrunk back instinctively, away from the approaching hand with eyes narrowed in suspicion. She scooted backwards. "What are you–OW!" However, he was still able to easily flick a finger at her forehead as she was still within his reach.

"Hey!" Estella placed a hand over the throbbing area and shot an angry glare at him. "Why the hell did you do that for?"

Grinning at her in a charmingly disarming way, Bard's eyes twinkled with feigned innocence. "Do what? What are you talking about?" He tilted his head innocently at her.

A shadow of annoyance passed her face as her eyebrows furrowed into a scowl.

"Tch." The scowl faltered and was replaced with an unimpressed look as she rolled her eyes at him. "You're such an idiot sometimes." She huffed irritably, exasperation peeking into her words.

Eyebrows twitching almost imperceptibly, Bard's face darkened. "Who's an idiot?"

"You obviously." She scoffed mockingly, folding her arms. "See, now your puny brain is having a hard time trying to figure out who's the idiot. You must be really an idiot, aren't you?" A smug smirk grew across her face, beaming inwardly at her own comeback.

The blond chef gritted his teeth and glared irritably at her. A smug smirk of his own made its way across his face when he thought of a reply. "Idiot, don't you know that it takes one to know its own species?"

The two went on with their banter, failing to notice the butler who was making his way towards them. From the way the sides of his mouth were tugged down and his narrowed eyes, he certainly did not look pleased.

"Yeah, at least I'm an idiot who knows that using dynamites to cook is stupid, stupid! And do you know what this means? This makes me a less idiotic idiot than you are!" The girl jutted her chin at him for emphasis and started cackling away like a maniac which instantaneously earned her an irked look from the chef.

"But still an idiot." His eyes rolled heavenwards exasperatedly. "And quit laughing like this! You sound like a horse on its asthma attack!"

"I do not sound like that!"

"Yes, you do…AH! SEBASTIAN!"

Estella swivelled her head to where Bard's shocked face was facing, and gasped in surprise at the towering figure behind her. "Whoa! When the heck did you get here?"

"While you two were arguing like three year olds." Sebastian said in a bored tone, glancing down with a look of disinterest. His eyes were gleaming red with calculated impatience.

They gulped nervously. "Sorry, Sebastian!" The two said at the same time before turning to scowl at each other.

Sebastian sighed heavily, massaging his temple wearily. These humans will be the death of him, the butler thought irritably, watching the two on the floor get into a stare-down.

Clearing his throat to break the staring contest before it could turn into another ridiculous squabble, he spoke when he finally got their attention. "Guests will be arriving at six. We have five hours left to prepare for their arrival and the Phantomhive household should not be disappointing." Sebastian snapped the pocketwatch in his large hand. "Bard, marinate the beef that had just arrived. Leave the cooking to me."

The chef nodded mutely and went to mumble something under his breath that sounded a lot like 'snatching the limelight again'.

Sebastian glanced over at the red-haired servant. "And you will serve the Young Master his tea right after this. After you're done, wipe the windows." The girl nodded and sighed heavily at the thought of another back-breaking chore.

Satisfied, Sebastian turned away and proceeded to walk out of the room.

...


Sighing for who knew how many times of the day, Estella nodded distractingly as the chef continued his complains about Sebastian stealing his chance to shine once again. Ever since the butler left the room, his mouth was unstoppable, and she decided that she should tune out his yakking and just let him have his way.

Pushing the door to the kitchen, she thanked god that they have reached and quickly moved away from Bard to the cabinets to start making tea. However, much to her dismay, the chef was still complaining even when they had already gone separate ways.

She groaned when she realized that she could hear him clearly even being at the other side of the kitchen. "Arghhh, Bard! I get it, okay?" She growled irritably, dropping another scoop of tea powder into the teapot. "You better get to work before Sebastian comes in."

Rolling her eyes, Estella shut the cupboard door and carried the tray holding the tea set out of the kitchen with her.

….


Glancing up at the door she stopped in front of, she carefully shifted the tray and freed a hand underneath to knock. At the third rap on the door, a voice grunted from the other side. "Come in."

Pushing down the handle to do as told, she peeked around the door for a moment before entering the study. The moment the door was pushed close behind her, the stifling warmth which she failed to detect during the first few second being in the room came rushing to her senses, suffocating the every fibre of her with its overwhelming presence.

She stopped her gaze at the desk where the boy who she was to deliver the tray of tea to, sat behind.

The struggle to concentrate could be seen from his body language. His shoulders carried a tension she could see from their stiffness. One hand was holding a pen in a tight grip filled with frustration while the other was holding onto his fringe away from his eyes in also a grip tight with frustration. The scowl he wore on his face was the giveaway.

Dragging her gaze to the windows behind him, she snorted softly to herself. No wonder the room was so unbelievably warm and stifling!

She looked at the tightly shut windows incredulously and brought her gaze back down to Ciel with the same look of incredulity on her face which went unnoticed since he hasn't looked up from the desk even once ever since she stepped into the room.

Only a heavy sigh from Ciel came back in response – in which she was sure not produced as a response for the stare she sent across the room.

Wordlessly, Estella watched him run a hand through his hair in frustration. The same hand left his hair and descended down to the desk to make a grab at something beside the piece of paperwork he was working on, only to pass through air. It looked to her like he was trying to hold something he expected to be there.

The boy, who had finally, came to discover that he was grabbing nothing but air, flickered his eye to the front and realized that she has not moved from the door.

Not making a move to lift his head, he sent her a piercing look of impatience through his eye which was fixated on her."Why are still you standing there?" His question came out low and curt.

Estella jumped a little at the snappiness in his tone and frowned. "Don't you think it's a little too stuffy here? How are you able to stand doing all of that," she stared pointedly with a raised eyebrow at the seemingly endless piles of paperwork on his desk, "in this heat?"

Cutting across the room to the desk, she gently placed down the cup of tea she had prepared on the desk next to him and stalked over to the windows behind it with hands stretched out, ready to push them open.

"Don't." Surprise passing her features, she came to a stop but did not move her hands away from the window and toss Ciel whose back was to her a questioning look

"Why?" She quirked an eyebrow at him.

Reaching up to massage his temple, Ciel gritted his teeth in discomfort at the dull ache in his head and slowly rose from his chair. The breathlessness he was trying to hide from Estella ever since she came in could still be seen from the uneven heaves and falls of his chest.

He sucked in a gulp of air and pressingly tried to mute the heavy pants he has been emitting since morning, knowing he would need to spend the rest of his day on bed instead of his desk with paperwork if she found something wrong and informed Sebastian. Stopping work because of petty things like a fever would be absolutely silly.

Wiping away the grimace on his face, Ciel stepped around his chair and turned to her as steadily as he could, mentally crossing his fingers that she will not notice anything amiss about him. "It's chilly today." He said quietly, fighting to keep his face neutral as he took painfully slow steps towards her.

Estella tilted her head at the approaching male. "Chilly?" She looked out of the window to see a fairly still scenery behind her before turning back with a curious look. "Today is a rather humid day, don't you think?"

That comment, however, merely entered an ear and went out from another.

His mind just could not capture and process her words, not when it was at its scattered state. The world around him suddenly seemed like it was tilting and every sound seemed to have amplified which made his head hurt. Everything was starting to get hazy and cold.

He knew he has lost. The heavy pants he has been pressingly muting have somehow managed to slip away from his control and made their way into the almost too quiet room. With hands clenched tightly in fists, Ciel continued his way towards where he intended to go, ever slowly and agonizingly.

Estella tilted her head curiously at Ciel and scowled.

Something was wrong with him.

The way he walked was wobbly and slow and that was a rather strange sight to see. Not only that, his half-lidded eye held a sort of dullness. Like he was drunk or something. But when she took a second look at him, she noticed the pair of flushed cheeks and tiredness on that face. Highly aware of the heavy pants he was emitting, her suspicions started to shape.

"What's wrong with you? Are you alright?" She stepped forward cautiously with a concerned look forming on her face.

His mouth opened a little, about to give an answer he found difficult to come up with but ended up squinting numbly at her instead, feeling his strength seeping away as he continued lumbering forward.

His mind was too scattered at the moment to produce an answer but the anxious look on her face urged him on anyway. He summoned as much strength as he could and weakly blurted out. "There's…nothing wrong with me."

The world went black.


I hope you like what you read! Though this chapter did not hold much….

Kindly review! I'll say this again, "A LOT OF REIVEWS = HAPPY AND DRIVEN AUTHOR = FASTER UPDATES = HAPPY READERS!" By the way, pardon me for any errors you'd spotted in this chapter.

You will hear from me again, certainly.