Disclaimer: I am currently making plans to gain possession of Alan and Eric. However, at the moment, I don't own anything related to Kuroshitsuji.

Author's note: Another old one. Would you believe that I originally planned for this to be a crackfic?

Alan made his way through the crowded ballroom. Somehow, the Viscount's invitation detailing that men could only attend if accompanied by a woman had attracted even more guests than were usually at this sort of party. Alan couldn't help but think that this was a bad thing. After all, Eric was involved in this somehow. Eric, his best friend; Eric, who was a murderer. Alan refused to believe that there wasn't some sort of reason for Eric's actions. After all, he'd never known his friend to be cruel, or unfeeling. Eric could be somewhat cold sometimes, and even a bit mean to his co-workers, but he was a good person. At least, that was what Alan had thought. But now? Now, he didn't know what to believe. He'd seen the cinematic record, the undeniable evidence. But there was something else going on here; something he didn't understand. Alan was certain of it. Even as he'd committed the murders, Eric had been kind to the girls, killing them as quickly and painlessly as possible. Alan could tell that he wasn't doing this simply for his own amusement, as everyone else seemed to think. But, if not that, then what? Was he doing it for the Viscount? That seemed possible, likely even. But why? What power could Druitt, a mere human, hold over a Shinigami, an immortal god of death? That was a question that only Eric himself could answer. Which was why Alan had to find him, before anyone else did. He finally spotted his friend gliding across the dance floor, chatting amiably with his partner. Unfortunately, Eric seemed determined to stay near the center of the dancers, and it would be difficult to reach him without a partner. Several men had already asked Alan to dance, but he had turned them all down. He couldn't risk being discovered. But how was he supposed to get to Eric without a dance partner?

"Would you care for a dance, miss?"

Alan turned in surprise to see Sebastian standing beside him. He hadn't heard the demon approaching. He had been so focused on Eric that he had forgotten the other danger at this opera. Sebastian was supposedly on his side, but, as William always said: "You can never be too careful when there are demons involved."

Sebastian's gaze flicked lazily from Alan to Eric and back again.

"Shall I take you to him?" he asked.

"You promise you won't attack him?" Alan asked. "You'll let me talk to him first?"

Sebastian merely smiled and held out his hand. Alan hesitated, then took it. If Sebastian attacked Eric, at least he could be there to stop him. Moreover, as much as he hated it, he couldn't reach Eric without Sebastian. The pair stepped onto the dance floor and the demon's grace covered Alan's awkward missteps as Sebastian danced them ever closer to Eric. Finally, the demon reached out and captured Eric's partner, leaving Eric to Alan, who couldn't help but breathe a small sigh of relief. It all happened so quickly that neither the girl nor Eric noticed.

"Eric!" Alan hissed.

His friend faltered and looked up.


"Hi," Alan greeted him awkwardly.

"What are you doing here?" Eric asked. "And, um, why are you wearing a dress?"

"I need to talk to you," Alan told him. "I need to know why you're doing this."

"I can't tell you," Eric replied coldly. "Besides, I'm sure you have your own theories."

"I want to know the truth," Alan demanded. "I won't settle for anything less."

Eric looked at him.

"You shouldn't make demands like that in that outfit," he remarked.

"Huh? Why not?" Alan asked.

"I just can't take you seriously when you're wearing a dress," Eric said, stifling laughter.

"This isn't funny!" Alan insisted. "Forget the dress! Does it really matter what I'm wearing?"

"It's very unprofessional," Eric reminded him. "William would not approve."

"I don't really care about what William might think right now," Alan told him. "I want to know why you're doing this. Why did you betray me?"

That seemed to hit a nerve. The smirk disappeared from Eric's face.

"I didn't betray you," he whispered.

"I think you did," Alan told him coldly. "You promised that you would always tell me the truth, no matter how much it hurt. Don't you remember?"

"Things have changed," Eric replied.

"That doesn't matter!" Alan insisted. "I want to know why you're doing this! I want to help you, in whatever ways I can. Please, just tell me!"

"I can't," Eric said.

"I know that there has to be a good reason for you to be doing this," Alan told him. "Just tell me. I can help you."

"What if I don't have a good reason?" Eric asked. "What if I have a very selfish reason?"

"I don't believe that," Alan replied. "If I believed that, even for a moment, I would kill you myself."

"Alan, please stay out of this," Eric begged. "After tonight, I'll have what I need, and everything will be better. I'll turn myself in, and that demon can kill me. Or William. Or even you, if you want to. Just please let me finish."

"How many people are you planning to kill tonight?" Alan asked. "I won't just let you murder them. Neither will Sebastian."

"So the demon's here?" Eric remarked. "I'll have to be careful."

"Eric, please," Alan begged. "Just tell me what's going on."

"I've already told you, I can't," Eric said. "You would try to stop me."

"Then maybe there's a good reason for you to be stopped," Alan observed.

"I know that what I'm doing is wrong," Eric told him. "But I couldn't bear the consequences if I didn't do it."

"If it means that much to you, it must be important," Alan deduced. "Eric, you're my best friend. I don't want you to carry this burden alone."

"You have your own burden to carry," Eric reminded him.

"You mean the Thorns?" Alan asked.

Eric nodded.

"You've been there, helping me since the very beginning," Alan said. "I owe you something."

"I don't need your help," Eric told him coldly. "I'll do this on my own."

"I thought we were friends," Alan whispered. "I guess I was wrong."

He saw Eric's stricken face. He knew how much the words had hurt him. But Eric had been just as cruel. Alan had been hoping to find the reason for Eric's actions. But the only thing he had learned was that Eric was no longer his friend. Eric no longer trusted him. And that thought was a thousand times more painful than the thorns that had already sealed his doom.

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