A/N: Hello everyone, I'm back again with yet another multi-chapter story! It seems I'm horribly incapable of writing one-shots. This was also supposed to be a brief one-shot, but quickly turned into a massive plot-line. It's like I'm a rock, and I'm always writing at the top of a hill. In any case, here's a story dealing with my two favorite characters in this series. I'm used to roleplaying William with my friends so it was very difficult to write for Grell, but I hope I did a semi-decent job. Sorry if any bits of him seem terribly OOC, it's my first time, so be gentle with a lady.
Transfert de Travail
Grell shifted his uncomfortable position on the floor and let out a yawn, baring his razor sharp fangs. Licking his slightly dried lips, he rolled his eyes and clapped shut the cinematic record in his hands. Another book, another life... why were they all so dull? Bracing his hand on one of the shelves next to him, he brought himself to a stand, dusting himself off slightly and leaving the record he was reading on the floor. There were quite a few records strewn about on the floor beside his feet actually. Having grown bored of the literature of his time and having finished the vast collection of Shakespeare plays and sonnets, Grell had been searching for other sources of romantic inspiration. In the end he had turned to reading the cinematic records in the library, hoping that some of these lives held the romantic inspiration he had been craving. But alas, in all the multitudes of people who had passed away, only a precious few had had lives that could spark the tiniest sparks of interest. Many of them were just depressing or sad, but for the most part... He let out another yawn. They were just too boring!
Kicking one of the books at his feet, Grell paced down a few shelves to select another record at random to read. Since they were all organized by name and year, there was no real systematic way of trying to find the most interesting records. Unfortunately, the library would not organize the books by genre, despite how brilliant the suggestion had been. Honestly, what was the point of keeping them organized this way? Once they were dead and judged, that was the end of it in terms of their records. Then they were kept in a giant library until judgment day (who knew when that would be) and in the meantime, nobody looked at them. They might as well be organized for some leisure reading so that some of the dusty old books would get used occasionally. Pacing further along the shelves, Grell paused when he saw a record with the first name Angelina. His thoughts swam back to his days with Madam Red before he could stop himself, and his mouth frowned a little in distaste. She was certainly one of the most disappointing humans he had ever known. At first he had truly thought she was special, in fact, he dared to believe that he might have even fallen in love with her. He had wanted her in so many ways. She was the woman he had always wanted, the woman he should have been. They had been so alike, before she fell back on those horrible sentimentalities of hers and became just like all the other boring women whose records Grell had been skimming over the past few weeks.
Come to think of it, Grell placed a finger on his chin, remembering the contents of her cinematic record. Her life had been a terrible, failed love story as well. She had pined after a man for all her life and never received his affections. The little brat's father, wasn't it? What a cold man... And yet, wasn't Grell in the same situation? His body let out a small shiver as he instantly thought of cold, green eyes behind a pair of silver-rimmed glasses. Oh yes, Grell too was a woman of unrequited love. Though unlike the Madam, he was actually trying to get the cursed man to return his feelings. It had been centuries, and Grell was growing quite impatient. That was really one of the only reasons why he had so immediately lusted after darling Sebby when he had popped into his life. In many ways, his cold, stoic demeanor had reminded him of William. But of course, demons weren't to be trusted. And Sebastian's gorgeous ruby orbs were hollow pits that loved nothing. The only time he saw a speck of emotion in Sebas-chan's eyes was when he was looking at that Phantomhive brat. Honestly, what a waste.
But Will... Grell put a hand delicately to his cheek, remembering when he had first fallen for the man. It had been back in their Academy days, when Grell had been one of the most studious students around... and darling William had been such a slacker. A smile crept to his lips as he remembered the younger William with his hair all wild. He still had that same scowl, though he had changed how he wore his hair. Some things really never changed. Grell let out a dramatic sigh that no one could hear, and picked the record he had seen earlier off the shelf. Settling down onto the floor with it, Grell remembered how fiery William had been when they had fought, and how brutally he himself had been defeated. Many death gods believed Grell to be the strongest death god in the London division, but that was only because they hadn't seen William in action, and William didn't do much field work in the first place. Underneath that quiet character of his, there was a rather fierce beast who burned with a sort of cold fire. It was so contradictory, much like himself. Grell couldn't help but squirm in delight as he thought of him and put both hands on his cheeks to stop himself. Honestly, such lewd thoughts were so unbecoming for a lady.
He opened the record in his lap and began to skim the pages. People who had asked him why he had been spending countless nights in the library looking at records had been given one simple answer: research. Grell was researching human lives, specifically human romances, so that he could find ways to attract his prey. And although a lady couldn't be too forward, Grell was getting tired of waiting and wanted some progress. He wanted William to look at him with those eyes again, those eyes from a hundred years ago. Unfortunately, all of these women were doing it wrong, and it was driving him insane. If they were given a second chance at life, Grell would simply have to give them all advice on how to properly attract their man. Unfortunately, he had to admit that none of those tactics had really worked for him yet. But if he wasn't going to do it in his usual way, he still refused to do it in a way that was too boring. William was a rare prize, and he wanted to win him properly.
Flipping through this particular cinematic record, he began to see the life of an aristocratic woman. Her life in her early years was everything you'd expect from children born to that social status. She was given the best schooling, the best clothes, the best nurses, everything she ever wanted was hers. Her father was doting and caring, her mother was a beautiful figurehead to the household. But Grell had to admit this little girl had a fire to her. And she was quite the little actress to boot. In front of her family and her nurses, she was the perfectly behaved little lady she was being raised to be. But whenever she could find herself away from those overseeing eyes, she was a feisty little tomboy. She took pleasure in doing many athletic things forbidden to most women, and she ran away as often as she could to travel around on her own. And when she was engaged to be married to another young nobleman, she was fortunate enough to actually fall in love with the man she had been promised to. Unfortunately, he seemed to be completely disinterested in her, and was clearly disapproving of her rather unladylike ways. He just wanted another boring English woman. She was supposed to be demure, soft-spoken, obedient. And she was everything but. But she loved him still somehow.
They were married regardless of their feelings, of course. For years she tried various ways to make him love her. But she couldn't bring herself to just be the obedient wife she was raised to be. Grell felt a small tug of affection for her. It was good of her to not compromise herself for a man. In as much as Grell pined for William, he would never be willing to give up who he was to get that. He would just make William appreciate the person that he was, and make him see the appeal to the wonderful lady that was right in front of his eyes. The question was simply how to go about doing that. Not caring to finish the record in his hands (his attention was much too short sometimes), he placed the record randomly on the shelf and scampered off to another floor of the library. When he checked the time, however, he realized that it was the end of William's shift and that the man would be leaving soon for home. Skipping a bit in his step, he immediately rushed over to the dispatch floor, giggling maniacally as he sprinted down the pristine hallways.
Pulling a small notebook out of his red jacket, he looked at the checklist of techniques he had employed so far to try and catch William's affections. Bursting into his office with various articles of lingerie had failed, so had following him home after work, and it was a wonder William hadn't keeled over with food poisoning at the treats Grell had tried to make for him. All manner of flirtation, coy touching, secret glances and suggestive banter had been completely ineffectual. The jealousy card also failed to elicit much response, though it was perhaps the most response he had gotten thus far. Last week Grell had tried to put William to the chase by stealing his glasses and running gleefully away from him, but that had failed miserably as the man seemed to have a dozen spares in his desk. He did manage to win a pair of Will's glasses though. They sat on his bedside table next to his own when he slept now.
Scrolling through the pages, he had just happened upon his next course of action when he caught sight of Joanna, one of the secretaries in General Affairs. She was heading into William's office with a small stack of papers in her hands, and Grell clicked his tongue in annoyance. He would have to wait now until the little skank came out of there. Joanna was one of those women Grell really couldn't stand. Well, he couldn't stand most women, but Joanna was a special case. This was mostly because she came into frequent contact with his William... and because she was actually quite pretty. Sure, her make-up was beyond boring, her hair was a boring shade of brown, she followed the boring dress code to a tee, but she wasn't bad-looking. Occasionally Grell had seen her trying to flirt with William, and it always took every ounce of self control not to paint her red where she stood. Just the thought of it was irking him now, and he began to tap his foot on the floor while his thoughts continued to fixate on Joanna. In addition to being somewhat pretty, she had the one major advantage Grell could never hope to achieve. Although he considered himself just as beautiful, perhaps more so, he couldn't actually compete with an actual woman's body if William was interested in women. His foot began tapping faster, his lips turning downwards into a bitter frown.
It wasn't fair.
But he didn't have to stand and take that. Deciding to burst into the office anyway to interrupt whatever womanly wiles Joanna was attempting to employ, Grell flung open the door and threw up his hands in the air, chiming,
Brushing rudely past Joanna, he casually walked straight to Will's desk, walked around it, and sat gingerly on the edge of the desk right beside where William sat in his chair. Giving him a wink and a toss of his hair, he began his usual coy flirtations.
"Will, there's no overtime today, and I'm simply famished!"
Placing one dramatic hand on his forehead and the other one over his stomach, he tilted his head back as if he were swooning into unconsciousness. It was a not-so-subtle request to be taken out to dinner. Unfortunately, William could never get the subtle undertones to anything that came out of his mouth. But it wasn't as much fun to be so direct, a lady had to know how to turn a phrase. William calmly adjusted his glasses in response and cleared his throat.
"Sutcliff, I was in the middle of a meeting. I believe I've told you repeatedly that if you wish to enter my office, you must knock."
"Yes yes," Grell waved his hand disdainfully at the reminder, clearly paying it no heed whatsoever. "Since I'm sure you're almost done with your little meeting, I'll just sit and wait."
Of course his true intent was to not leave him alone with the woman in his office. It was far too scandalous. So removing himself from the edge of Will's desk, he took slow, deliberate steps around William's chair, his heels clacking firmly and shot Joanna a triumphant look before he draped himself over William's shoulders from behind, letting his crimson hair fall messily over his desk. William brushed the mass of red off of his desk and off of his papers, but made no motion to remove Grell from his person, and Grell considered this a little victory. Over the years, Grell had flirted and clung to and touched William so much that the man had given up trying to stop him. It wasn't much, but it was something, and Grell's heart did little leaps when he could manage moments like this. William cleared his throat then and continued speaking with the secretary as if he didn't have a bloody red fruit tart draped all over him.
"Thank you for arranging these damage reports Miss Briars, I realize I don't have the most cautious staff around. How long will it take to process the papers on the transfer?"
Grell's ears perked. Transfer? Who was transferring? Were they transferring in or out? It couldn't be William, could it? His head began to swim with all of the saddest possibilities. If it was either of them, how would their (almost) blossoming romance survive? But before his thoughts could get too dramatic, Joanna spoke.
"It shouldn't take more than a couple of weeks, Mr. Spears. I'll see what I can do to speed up the process."
Then she flashed him a bright smile with stupidly straight, boring teeth, and Grell felt the need to bare his own in front of her, like monkeys in the wild competing for a nesting spot. Grell had staked claim on William decades ago, she was not about to take that away.
"Thank you, Miss Briars. That will be all."
Thankfully, William dismissed her out of his office before Grell could get too worked up. As Joanna turned around, he was sure he caught sight of the slightest frown, an obvious display of jealousy. Grell felt his chest swell with achievement and couldn't stop the grin from spreading on his face. However, as soon as she left the room, he was reminded again of the exchange he had just heard.
"Will, darling, who's transferring?" He hoped his voice didn't sound too concerned, but the terrible prospect of one of them being moved was a truly unbearable.
"They're transferring me to the French Department to train their new head of Bordeaux Dispatch."
Grell's heart sank, and he felt his entire body grow cold. William was transferring? After all of the progress they had (barely) made... he was leaving? But the two of them had never been apart before. After the Academy, they had both been assigned to London, and even though William was quickly promoted so that they were less likely to work together out in the field, he still saw him everyday in the office. His lip trembled, it was the first time he had ever felt like crying.
"Of course, they're transferring someone to take my place, and thank goodness for that. I think this place would fall to pieces without someone in charge. I just hope he doesn't go easy on you all."
William continued to speak as though it were a plain and simple matter, as if he didn't care that he was leaving, as if it was absolutely nothing to be upset about. How could he not be at least a little bit upset? Even if he wasn't upset at the prospect of leaving behind his (almost) lover, shouldn't he feel at least a little sadness for leaving behind his entire Division? He had been here for ages, he had hand-selected half of his staff, London had always been his home! Didn't he feel even the slightest bit of grief? Could he be that cold? Grell removed himself slowly from William's shoulders and took a couple of steps back away from the man in his chair.
"You're leaving?" The question left his lips stupidly, as if he still couldn't believe the horrible news, as if repeating it would make William deny what he had just said, to take it all back.
"That is what I just said, Sutcliff."
The coldness, the stoicism that he normally loved in this man was beginning to be intolerable just at that moment. He wasn't the least bit upset at all, was he? Grell couldn't help himself, angry words began to hiss through his teeth.
"Do you even speak French?" He wasn't sure that would even be an issue, but perhaps William hadn't considered the little language barrier that existed in transferring beween countries.
"Yes. As Division Managers, we have to be prepared for these types of situations. I'm a bit out of practice, but I'm sure I'll get back in the hang of it soon enough."
Normally, Grell would have swooned at that point to learn that his darling William knew French, the ultimate language of Romance. Honestly, the man had so many surprises, he was one of the few people that always kept Grell guessing... But any normal reactions were simply impossible given the current circumstances. He was relentlessly unyielding!
"Why do they need you specifically?" That was a fair question, he thought. Couldn't they have the French management train their new promotion? Why in the world did they need to drag his William away?
"Their last head of management was killed in the line of duty, so the new appointment was fast and haphazard, they weren't expecting to make this promotion. This seems to happen quite frequently in France for some reason, so the higher-ups thought an outside hand with a slightly different style of training might be useful. It just happened to be me, that's all."
"It just happened to be you?" He couldn't stop the bitterness from pervading his voice. He knew deep down William was being truthful, he wouldn't lie about something like this. But his emotions were clouding his logic, as was often the case, and he couldn't help but feel like William had requested the transfer personally. Thankfully, the man would probably be unable to read the tone in his voice. He was so incapable of picking up the subtleties in someone's words. It was infurating most of the time, but right now that trait would probably save Grell from being misunderstood.
Grell clenched and unclenched his fists several times. So that was it then?
"Were you even going to tell us?"
"I'm sending out a memo tomorrow." Shuffling some of the papers on his desk, William tucked them into folders, then placed them carefully into the drawers in his desk.
"A memo?" Grell spat. "You wouldn't even tell us in person?" Coward, he thought.
William stood from his desk, having finished his work for the day, then turned to look at Grell at last. He could see that the redhead was upset though he wasn't quite sure why. Sutcliff seemed to get upset over the tiniest things anyway, he wasn't sure if this reaction was anything worth heeding. Rolling his eyes, he sighed.
"I told you."
Grell did the only thing he knew how to do. He lashed out. So William thought he could break his heart and get away with it, did he? He thought he could just run away to France without saying a proper good-bye? If Grell hadn't come into his office today, he would have been informed of this awful news by a memo. A fucking memo. Who even did that? It was cowardly, it was cruel, it was unbearable. And as much as he wanted to cry, Grell couldn't bring himself to do so in front of another man. Violence was always better.
Blood was always more comforting than tears.
Revving up his beloved chainsaw, he lunged at William, who was at the ready with his clippers. Of course the man was always prepared. Ever since their final exam, he had never once bested William. On some level, he had never fought William seriously since then. On some level, he didn't want to win. He didn't want to know who was actually stronger. That's what made William different. He was the first man who had posed an actual challenge to him, the first man to put him in his place when everyone else had cowered. That had earned him his respect and love. And it was a love Grell had cherished ever since, however unreciprocated.
William easily parried his swing, diverting his chainsaw into the ground, where it quickly embedded itself into the carpeted floor. As Grell tried to pull it loose, William quickly countered with a swift blow to his abdomen, knocking him away from his scythe into the bookshelf against the wall. Books fell from the shelf, some falling onto his head, and he slumped to the ground with the literature. He was fighting half-heartedly still. Letting his head fall forward, his scarlet bangs masking his eyes, masking his disappointment, he remained on the ground, defeated yet again. He couldn't win, not against William. He couldn't bring himself to even try.
In the field of his vision, he saw William's perfectly polished shoes approaching, stopping when they were but a foot away from him. He heard William's voice, he did not look up.
"Honestly... You've made a mess out of my office again."
Of course that was what he cared about. Grell let out a click of annoyance, but still kept his eyes firmly fixed on the ground. He heard William sigh in exasperation above him.
"Honestly... I'm going to overlook this little outburst today Sutcliff, unacceptable as it was."
A flash of white appeared in Sutcliff's vision, William had tossed him his handkerchief.
"Clean yourself up, take your scythe, and go home."
Grell stumbled to his feet, then lazily wrenched his scythe free before running out of the room. At the door, he stopped, then turned his head slightly.
"You're such a cold man."