Wow, thanks so much for the sweet reviews, favs and alerts! They made me quite happy, yes the did...comfort food for the soul. I wanted to upload this yesterday, but I was too worn out after work, so now I'm doing it now c:
I hope you enjoy this next chapter!
It was the second time and it would have to be the last. The demon couldn't afford to heed the beckoning cries or the little nine-month-old on his lap would never remember. And he would never regain his young master. But the happenings over a century ago prevented the demon from ignoring such a helpless frightened plea; his reasoning to be that if he could be there for the boy when he cried for him, perhaps he'd be able to begin to atone for his failure. However, with such a way of thinking, he had already failed again. While he was there this time, there had been plenty of times where the baby had cried himself sick.
It was a thunderstorm that had terrified the baby boy and the babysitter's screams at him to shut up were no less intimidating. But when a sudden figure appeared in the room, the boy seemed unfazed. Sitting in the rocking chair, the demon was more than content to let the boy play on his lap. The immortal had gotten used to the familiar pull of the soul within the young child and therefore, could resist it. He'd searched the room for anything hinting towards the boy's name, but besides the blue color scheme and lavish baby decorations, there was nothing.
A brilliant flash lit up the nursery and quiet mewls escaped the small child. Mouth scrunching around the red pacifier in anticipation, the teensy boy turned around and let himself face-plant onto the demon's chest. Chuckling, the immortal ran his hands down the soft little footed pajama-clad body, patting his bottom affectionately until the boy wiggled and sat back up. Clear blue eyes watched the window with an unsteady gaze.
"There is no more reason to worry. The storm is well on its way."
Weighing a handful of pounds, the little tyke was quite the comfortable weight and eager to show what he had been able to master, he began bouncing on the demon's lap in all his adorable chubbiness. Little did the demon know that this was a sort of lullaby game the boy's mother would play; she'd hold her son's hands while he bounced and after singing a certain verse, she'd spread her legs to allow him to fall through, only to catch him before he really fell. But the demon didn't have a clue, and he watched curiously until the little bouncing boy stopped, looking down, chewing his pacifier in what had to have been a sign of a baby's confusion.
The flashes were a lot weaker and if thunder happened to follow, it was no more than a quiet rumble. There wasn't a need for the demon to stay any longer. He moved the boy onto his shoulder and cautiously got up from the cushioned rocking chair. Not minding the movement, the small child began spitting happily, fascinated by the vibrations he could get by pressing his lips together.
"Now now, the rain will do a thorough job of getting me wet—there is no reason for you to help," the demon admonished gently, wiping the drool off the boy's chin fondly. He tugged the pacifier from the small hand, sticking it into an open mouth. Unable to resist, he leaned closer, rubbing his nose against the child's, and after hearing the cutest, most pleased little giggle, for a split second he quite forgot that kittens existed in the world. He lifted the baby up and set him down in the crib and when the tyke removed his pacifier, the demon could only assume it was some kind of trained reaction.
In that assumption he was correct—after placing him in the crib, the boy's mother would coax him into taking out his pacifier to wait for a kiss and after careful repetitions, the boy had it down fairly well. So now with one hand gripping the railing to help support his wobbly legs, he waited with an upturned face. But the demon didn't know what was expected of him and because the child's attention span wasn't very long, he began reaching outward, babbling baby nonsense.
"Some other time we'll play some more," the immortal promised, grabbing the baby and laying him on his back. "Now it is time to sleep." The quick child was up again before he could withdraw his hands from the crib. "Never satisfied, are you?" With a sigh, he cradled the small face, acknowledging the perfect blue eyes-for belonging to someone so young, they were peculiarly intense. "Unfortunately, I cannot take on such a tiny master at the moment. But there will come a day where you will be mine." He paused, looking to the door and behind it, the babysitter groaned when she heard the first wail.
And even though the child cried, it'd be a rather long time before the demon would ever come back.
During the three days after visiting his mother in jail, was when he really began to suspect something was keeping their vigil on him constantly and worse yet, it seemed to have the same effect on him as if he'd been staring in a mirror with both eyes open. Besides the nauseating stupor he'd sometimes fall into, it brought along thoughts he wasn't sure he'd normally have and minor hallucinations that seemed almost memory-like.
A boom of thunder rumbled nonthreateningly in the distance—the generous sun nor the blue sky paid it any attention and the little birds still flitted about, visiting kin in neighboring trees, while the squirrels continued to nimbly scale the branches, performing acrobatic feats in order to impress one another. Cerul also paid it no mind, tucked away in an alcove, hidden by a shelf where library encyclopedias gathered dust. Of course that wasn't to say he paid much attention to anything else happening around him. Fatigued from the lack of sleep and yet restless all the same, he was perturbed; there had been an alteration in his nightmare—the haunting presence had been able to follow him there. Why would a bird have been waiting for me?
And even more perplexing, he still felt the presence even more strongly so, though perhaps not exactly waiting for him, but watching him. Minus the hostility, it was consistent with the stealth stalking of a predatory cat. Furthermore, it held a lingering melancholy to it, which intrigued the boy because it seemed to be directed at him. He certainly didn't need a stray cat feeling sorry for him. Or a bird for that matter. Cerul absentmindedly thumbed the pages of the book on his lap.
"Psst! Cerul, what're you doing back here?" A girl with a short black bob squirmed her way through the small opening created by the shelf and the wall. "Hey!" she continued to whisper loudly.
Cerul held back a sigh, lifting his head from his palm. "I find it hard to believe you came all the way here to ask me what I was doing." He looked down on his lap, flipping a page. There were a lot of black birds in the world.
A slight blush colored her cheeks. "Ok so umm, I didn't really catch all of Mr. Berke's instructions; I know we're supposed to be writing a paper of some sort."
"Well then, you probably should have been paying attention."
Feeling stupid, the girl tried to hide her embarrassment by smiling. Her friends had told her it was useless to ask him for any help, much less try and start a conversation with him. But no one ever talked to him; maybe all he needed was a chance. She focused on the brown straps of her heeled sandals.
"What makes you think I did?" Cerul turned another page before looking up. She looked confused before giggling nervously.
"Oh well, you went back here with such a purpose before he even finished talking, so I thought you already knew the assignment." She glanced at the thick book he was skimming through. "Are you studying birds?"
The nightmare hadn't even started right. His vision had been hazy; he could barely tell the flames and glowing walls apart and the horrified screams had been replaced by an adamant caw, urging him to ignore the subtle differences and to just keep going. When he'd finally wrenched the front door open, completely beside himself in fear, the shadowy bird had been waiting for him, circling him; silken sable feathers from iridescent wings brushing against his shoulders. "No," he answered. He closed the book.
The navy-haired boy rubbed his eye, trying to shield it from the sun and his ears from Evanie, the girl chattering next to him. He tried ignoring her, but it was apparent she didn't need his attentiveness to hold a conversation; he then tried to be a bit more engaging, but she only found more stuff to ramble about. "So I was totally waiting for my friend when this stupid eighth grader came barging through the hall demanding—"
"Class ended, and you're still following me. Haven't you got your own class to go to?"
Evanie giggled. "So Leah was right, you do talk with an accent sometimes. But it's ok, I have art next," she breezed. "I can be late."
Cerul blanched, trying to maintain a safe distance from her; she tended to use her hands when she spoke and more than once, she'd tried to grab his arm. I have tried to be polite and I can't help it if I have to be so blunt with her. "Evanie," he said firmly. "I have tried numerous times to get you to shut up. I don't want to talk to you. I don't want to listen to you. So please," he said, softening his voice when she looked ready to shed a few tears. "Leave me alone." He backed away from her before turning around and heading off.
You still have a ways to go with tact. The demon took off, in search of the next spot which would give him a window view of the boy's next class. He'd been trailing him for a couple of days now, so he knew exactly where his classes were.
"It's as I thought, you're not stupid." She had kept him after class to lecture him privately a bit and the oral quiz she gave him, he passed almost effortlessly. The teacher sighed, raking her hair back. "So as to why you continue fail my tests is beyond me." She waited for a response.
Cerul only looked at her, waiting calmly to be dismissed.
"Do you want to fail? You never even pay attention during class."
"You never pay any attention to me," he replied quietly, tugging at the wire spiral on his notebook. Another muted rumble of thunder broke out.
Her mouth dropped open. "Cerulean, I have 120 students to keep track of—I'm sorry, this isn't elementary school where a teacher has maybe only 20 kids to teach throughout the year and the kids all become teachers' pets. If you want to learn, if you need to spend time after school with a teacher, you need to be proactive about it. Understand?" She leaned back in her chair, staring at him. How dare the student try and pin his failure on her because she never paid attention to him. "I get paid regardless of whether you pass or not," she muttered. "So it's really not my problem."
Cerul was so used to it, he didn't even bother feeling a bit hurt; he could barely concentrate on her words. The late bell rang. He glanced at the door. "Ms. Olito—"
"Yeah yeah, I'll write you a pass. Maybe we need to schedule a conference with your parents. If this goes the same for your other classes, you won't make it to seventh grade."
It looked like gym class and the demon was closer than he normally was. Sebastian let a sly smile ghost his lips, which parted the slightest as he watched the interactions between the boy and his classmates. The little brat was getting irritated, attempting to avoid their advances by shooing them off and resorting to disgraceful retorts. A teacher had gotten involved and she made the mistake of forcefully grabbing his arm, no doubt chastising him for his unacceptable behavior. In return, she was soundly slapped—even the boy looked shocked at his own actions, though his brow furrowed in resentment and curdling anger as the teacher, now livid herself, started to drag him from the gym. Indignation had him shouting to be let go, beating her arm, trying desperately to pry her fingers off.
"Get your hands off!" he growled, his voice rising in frantic pitch. He pulled away, unable to hold back a cry of pain when the instructor yanked him forward, straining his arm. "Get your hands off—" he twisted towards the window, pausing as if he wanted to add something else, as if there would be something else he'd normally add, but after a brief moment of silence he went back to screaming at the teacher to let go of him.
His curiosity peaked, Sebastian nimbly leapt from the tree. Could it be that the demon's presence was beginning to have an effect on the boy? It would seem that pause had been intended for my name.
His heart was still pounding even as he pulled his backpack from the locker. Hauled to the principal's office, he had been practically suspended on the spot, though after pictures were taken of red marks and bruises, there came the decision of how long a suspension of this degree would be. Initially it had been a week until the nurse pointed out the marks the teacher had left on the 'poor child' and that he was probably fighting in self-defense. So a week seemed too harsh. But slapping a female teacher deserved more than three days. In the end, after being unable to reach Cerul's father, administration decided to send him home early, resolving to have an answer the next day.
"How ridiculous," the young boy muttered. "How utterly stupid." He knew it was wrong of him to slap a teacher, but it had been such an impulsive reaction. She had no right grab me like that, especially after I told her to let go! And those kids… But what irritated him even more were the bumbling fools tasked with running the school. So flustered about the potential child abuse aspect of the situation—never mind the fact that Cerul never mentioned anything—they didn't know how to set about punishing him.
His mouth turned down in a miserable pout as he touched the cool glass of the entrance door. The sky had been slathered with thick impenetrable storm clouds and from them, cascaded a torrential downpour. Cerul bit his lower lip, digging for the rarely-used cell phone in his bag. He pushed open the door, the loud sound of crashing rain making it hard to hear the ringing. He waited a little longer, but it didn't matter because his father didn't pick up. Just great…
Sighing, he grabbed the straps of his backpack in an effort to alleviate the tension they were causing on his shoulders and stepped out into the rain. Drenched in a matter of mere seconds, his sodden sweater clung to his small frame, the white shirt he wore underneath it sticking to his skin uncomfortably.
He could barely see, his blue eye in a perpetual squint from the harsh, needle-like rain. Water began to flood over the curb from the street and the child continued to slosh down the sidewalk. A misty haze appeared to be forming along the ground; the rain fell with such a force, it almost seemed to ricochet back up into the air.
"Just look at it," the boy said, his voice quiet and lifeless. His back was turned, a gloved hand pressed against the inside of a glass shop window.
Cerul stopped, clutching his forehead. He stumbled to the side, grimacing.
"I agree," answered a smooth voice from behind. "It would seem our only option would be to wait it out here."
"I suppose you're right." The boy turned around, face hidden by the shadow cast onto it by a top hat. He lifted his chin, allowing himself to be undressed of the overcoat he was wearing.
His foot suddenly plunged into ankle-deep water and his weight came crashing down on rough concrete; Cerul gasped, coughing as muddy water splashed up into his face. Wiping his eye with a shivering hand, he cursed his luck and tried to prop himself up on a tingling elbow.
"I'm sorry; I haven't been able to locate a single towel in this place."
Chills shuddered through him, but he kept his composure. He took a step away from the window, a step closer to the darkness behind him. "I'm sure you can find another way to warm me, can't you?"
"Of course…permit me to…"
Hands pulling him from the side turned him around, gently hoisting him onto the man's lap. Wordlessly, the boy leaned back, staring emptily out the window as fingers brushed away his wet hair. He pulled up his leg, resting his foot between the man's leg and armrest.
Burning white light coaxed Cerul to tear his gaze away from the dark figure on the sidewalk and to stare instead, into the headlights of the approaching car. Eyes widened, pupils constricting in fear; every limb froze, bracing for impact.
"Even should I fail…"
But what if the life that is lost is not yours, but mine?
When the face finally came into focus, it was the eyes he noticed first. Fathomless eyes with glowing russet irises, framed by the darkest lashes, marked by the blackest pupils. The boy blinked, taking in a hitching breath of air. Gentle fingertips touched his cheek, lightly brushing away droplets of muddy water.
The demon, who had to keep their past a secret, withdrew his touch at the sight of tears. The poor boy was drenched from head to toe. Dark hair plastered around his pale face, from beneath the eye patch slid a few tears, the blue eye wide and still, trembling lips—he arched his back, taking in another uneven breath. The child carefully moved each leg before giving his arms a try and the demon smiled.
"Not hurt are you?" he asked calmingly.
I didn't get hit…this man saved me. Cerul closed his eyes, unable to stop the tears. The voice…it sounded so—why was it so comforting? And why was he crying? Trying to find a reason, he blamed it on the stresses of the day; everything from the nagging teachers, the bullying, the conflict with the gym teacher—even Evanie's needless interactions with him. Another shaky exhale left him and the breath he drew in was considerably smaller.
The demon narrowed his eyes, quickly recognizing the symptoms. Stay calm, young Master. Cradling the boy's head, he held him closer, snaking his other arm beneath his legs. He resisted the strong urge to press the boy against him—it would be a gesture that would only alarm the child who had forgotten him. "Can you tell me your name?"
A few moments passed. "Cerulean," was the quiet, pensive answer.
The demon's mouth twitched into a satisfied smile. "Cerul." He felt the boy's quickening heartbeat. Cerul is to blue as Ciel is to sky… Master, what a strong soul, a persuasive aura.
"Yes." He bit his lower lip, swallowing nervously. This man wasn't a hallucination. "Tell me yours."
For this, he looked down into Cerul's eyes. "Sebastian."
He turned the heat down on the stove and on a whim, added a spoonful of cinnamon to the warming milk. Aware of the scrutiny he was under, he glanced over his shoulder, spotting the boy standing in the archway. He was dressed in a thin, black sweater, which had slipped off one shoulder and dark sweat pants a size too big for him—much to the demon's dismay, the child wasn't wearing any socks. He's sure to catch a cold. His hair was still a damp mess and on his face he wore an expression of almost disinterested puzzlement.
"There is a microwave on the counter," Cerul pointed out. It wasn't exactly hard to miss.
Sebastian swallowed his sentence before the word 'master' could escape. He stirred the milk. "If you take the time to do something, should you not also take the time to do it properly?"
"Sometimes there isn't time to do something properly," Cerul said, his voice quiet and apathetic.
"There is always the time, if one is willing to sacrifice for it." And I would sacrifice it all had I known… He removed the small pot, turning the stove off. He opened a cabinet, finding knocked over spices and little bags of flour and sugar. He pulled out a jar of honey before resuming his quick search for a cup.
The sweetened milk was cooling off on the breakfast table and Cerulean pulled himself onto a chair; he suddenly grew suspicious when the raven-haired male approached him, kneeling down before him. "Please allow me to dry your hair, it should take but a minute." The demon draped a towel over the boy's head, gently tousling his hair. The child said nothing, his face blank.
Having had enough, Cerul leaned back, shaking off the towel. "I don't trust you," he decided. Never before had he felt so strongly about someone; there was something about this person that his subconscious had reacted to. And what it meant, he didn't like. He stared at the milk before taking a tentative sip; he masked his pleasure at how unexpectedly soothingly delicious it was.
Sebastian nodded, slowly folding the towel. "Understandable. We've only just met."
The blue-eyed boy gave his head a small shake. "No, that's not it." He pushed the cup away. "You...saved my life, and for that I'll be eternally grateful and in your debt; however… To be quite honest, I don't feel safe around you."
The last six words made a simple, but clear sentence and they embedded the demon's already self-mutilated bleeding heart like powdered glass. What made it worse—in Sebastian's mind, Cerul had every right to feel that way. The demon had broken his promise, his vow; Ciel's dependent trust in him had been undoubtedly shattered the moment his fragile life had. "I shall keep my distance," he offered.
Reassured, Cerul leaned back in chair, pushing his hands against the table. "Alright then," he listened to the heavy downpour, "unfortunately, there isn't a guest bedroom, but you're more than welcome to stay here for the night. I think the couch pulls out." Despite being early evening, he decided to head to bed; the stormy weather and stressing day gave him excuse enough. Homework could wait. It certainly wouldn't go anywhere.
Sebastian gave a small appreciative smile. "Thank you."
Thunder crackled sharply as Cerul slipped from the chair, leaving the barely sipped milk on the table.
Red eyes glowing dimly, he knelt beside the bed, leaning over to cradle the sleeping child's face. There was no room for doubt; Cerul was definitely his master reincarnated—at least in physical appearances; he didn't yet know by how far the two personalities differed. It wasn't a smile, but a light-hearted grimace—the day couldn't have ended any better. His intention hadn't been to engage him so soon, but following him home became an obligation for the demon once the rain started. It was then he realized how strongly his presence affected Cerul; however, had he known his proximity would've made the boy stumble out into the street, he would've hovered protectively a mile away. He'd lost him once… The demon rubbed his scarred hand.
Pristine white light lit up the room in a flash and a peal of thunder followed closely after. Sebastian tucked the boy in, brushing away warm, still slightly damp strands of hair. Their contract would be dormant until Cerul reawakened as Ciel and along with regaining all his past memory, recognized Sebastian as his butler and as his demon. And Sebastian could not help him; he could never mention his true identity, Ciel's or any direct memories. He could only hope that his presence would speed up the process. For then the chains would drop around the boy's soul.
Thunder boomed loudly, rattling the windows and Cerul gave a start in his sleep; Sebastian reached over and grabbed his hand. "I will only alarm you if you wake up." He smiled sadly. "Do you remember, Cerul? Eleven years and three months ago, I held you on a night like this."
Each boom faded with the threat that the next would be louder and the demon had no choice but to leave the room. Should Cerul awake, Sebastian simply didn't want to startle him anymore and that would certainly be the case if he awoke to find a stranger he'd just only met—one who unsettled him—sitting beside his bed. Holding his hand nonetheless.
Hm, so reading over it, personally to me it seemed a little rushed, but that could be because I like long chapters, even though I'm aiming for short and sweet chapters for this story. I dunno, but I hope you liked it (after work, I'll go over it again and add some more here and there)! I couldn't resist Sebastian and baby Cerul, it's just too endearing. and I've got special ties to that lullaby game (which was Hoppe Hoppe Reiter for any other Germans out there) Ohhh, don't forget to review! But it's ok, no one's forcing you to ^-^