The 1970s were not a good time for Sebastian Michaelis. Awful fashion trends which bred like rabbits turned the mere act of keeping his immortal eyes open into a form of torture. Loud, glittery make-up. Hideous perms. Bell-bottomed trousers. Denim overalls worn even by upper-class women. Ghastly shoes on which every other woman (and a good number of men) tottered. Oversized sunglasses with cheap, zircon-studded plastic frames. Sequins. Ugly corduroy.
He tolerated it all stoically until the day he caught Ciel looking with genuine interest at a pair of seven-inch, rainbow-striped, platform cork wedges in a shop window in Sloane Street. That was when he sat the little devil down for a serious talk about the importance of classic good taste whose aesthetics would stand the test of time rather than be blown about by every breeze of fashion.
"But I was always at the forefront of fashion in the Victorian age," Ciel countered.
"Victorian fashions were pleasing to the eye," Sebastian sniffed.
"European humans dressed pleasingly from about 1400 till about 1914, then fashion went…"
"To hell?" Ciel asked with a disingenuous dollop of innocence.
"We have good taste in hell, as you no doubt remember from the very first time I took you there," the devil replied dryly.
"Then it must have died and gone to heaven," commented the junior demon with a shade too much naivete.
"It simply died," Sebastian pronounced with finality.
The effects of the talk lasted a decade or so, right through Ciel's curious consideration of spandex bodysuits, spangled jeans and psychedelic-print T-shirts. Then one day, at the height of the 1980s, Ciel came home from the shops wearing floppy pink hair, purple eyeliner, a military-style maroon jacket with sequin-encrusted fluorescent trim, and heavily stonewashed grey denim jeans over a pair of pink sneakers. Thanks to the new invention of tinted contact lenses, he no longer kept his right eye with the contract mark covered, and looked every inch a trendy teenager of the Eighties.
Sebastian snapped in the most controlled way possible.
"My lord," he declared sternly to the vaguely Duran Duran-like apparition before him, after inhaling and exhaling a deep breath that his lungs did not actually need. "We are returning to hell."
Ciel Phantomhive might be his immortal little devil of a master, but Sebastian as the senior devil – and a pretty powerful one at that – had always had much more authority in the relationship than either of them would admit.
So back to hell they went in a heartbeat, where the older demon was gratified to find that attire, by and large, remained streamlined, black and sinister. Immortals tended to have timeless dress sense, for they had long accepted the futility of following anything as fleeting as fashion.
"Hmm," was the only sound Ciel made as he surveyed the parade of tight black leather before them.
He turned around without another word, headed directly for the towering maze of tasteful sandstone that was his and Sebastian's private property in the prime district of the netherworld, and disappeared into his bedchamber. When the demon butler to whom he was bound for all eternity tried to ask him if he would like a hot lava cake and a steaming cup of tea of brewed souls to settle his tummy after the trip home, Ciel shut the semi-opaque crystal door rudely in his face.
The older demon was perfectly ready to manage a century-long sulk from his little charge. But what he was not prepared for was for Claude Faustus to pop in through the front door one day, with Alois Trancy or whatever his name was in tow, to ask in his irritatingly stiff manner if Ciel would like to join them on an excursion to Disneyland. Faustus saw fit to add that they were not going there to feast on souls, but for a change of scenery and some good, clean amusement.
"I thought you were dead," Sebastian said flatly to the bespectacled devil, who was casually dressed in human clothing of a dark shirt and trousers.
Devils didn't need eyeglasses to begin with, and dead devils even less so, thought Sebastian. Faustus had obviously only ever worn them while alive to give himself an air of gravitas that he would otherwise have lacked. That he would continue to do so after dying proved how wanting in substance he was.
"Just because a devil dies, it doesn't mean he can't come back," Alois piped up boldly, hanging from Claude's arm like a rather gaudy handbag in shades of fuchsia.
"Then you're a devil ghost," Sebastian said disapprovingly to Claude, ignoring the blond dead-adolescent-thing who had just spoken.
"Devil ghosts are as solid to other devils as non-dead devils are, so let us keep this exchange civil, Michaelis, lest I stab you with a pitchfork," Claude warned evenly, adjusting his eyeglasses by a fraction of a millimetre.
"Ah, pitchforks," Sebastian remarked coolly. "How nostalgic."
"So what's the difference between a dead devil and a live one?" asked Ciel curiously from behind Sebastian, surprising his senior – for it was the first time he had emerged from his bedroom in weeks.
"Very little," Claude answered, gold eyes softening at sight of the earl. "We stay in limbo for several decades after we die, then things get pieced together again. I was… reconstituted… half a century ago, while you were away from hell. Alois somehow re-emerged along with me, to my delight."
Sebastian wanted to roll his garnet eyes at how fondly Claude was speaking of Alois. He had killed the boy in cold blood, after all, and here he was a hundred years after the fact, so tender with the thing he had murdered.
But Alois was saying something to Ciel now, elaborating on Claude's answer: "It depends on the method of death. That sword-thing down Hannah's gullet was supposed to be a permanent weapon of execution, but she'd spent so many years suppressing its power with her own that it got kind of… rusty?"
Here, Alois looked adoringly up at Claude for confirmation, and the devil nodded with a gentle smile. Like the doting owner of a blond Lhasa Apso that could talk, was the analogy that trotted into Sebastian's mind.
"Where is Hannah?" Ciel asked, again out of curiosity. It was hard to forget the fiendishly powerful demoness who had made him what he was today.
"Hannah and Luka stopped to play at the fire fountain in the plaza. They're both doing great! They got reconstituted along with me and Claude," Alois revealed, visibly pleased to be talking about the female who had done everything she did for the sake of Luka, Alois' little brother. "She and Luka are always happiest at home together, but we've convinced them to go to Disneyland with us this time. So are you coming or not?"
"Yes, I am," Ciel said at once, to Sebastian's astonishment. "I've never been."
"My lord–" Sebastian started to protest.
"It's not like I'll die if I accidentally fall out of a roller coaster," Ciel muttered, voice thick with irony.
"But those two untrustworthy creatures–" Sebastian tried again.
"Can be of no possible harm to Ciel," Alois assured the devil, ignoring the fact that Sebastian was still ignoring him completely. "We can't do anything to Ciel any more, and we don't want to. Even if for some reason we did want to, Hannah wouldn't let us. She's very fond of Ciel."
"We'll bring Ciel home to you safe and well," came Hannah's voice from the doorway, as she had only just caught up with Claude and Alois. She wore a sunny, caftan-like piece that made her look like a suburban housewife. "Isn't that right, Luka?"
"Of course!" laughed Luka, perched on Hannah's hip, his arms round her neck, revelling in her affection. Even an eternity of being lovingly mothered by Hannah would never be too much for this child mysteriously turned demon-being, affectionate and forever babyish as he was.
So off to Disneyland Ciel went with his new old friends – after changing into blue jeans and a short-sleeved cotton shirt – leaving Sebastian alone to enjoy his perfectly beautiful, utterly tasteful home in peace.
"At last, I have the place to myself," Sebastian sighed once the others had left, allowing his sleekly leather-clad body to sink into his favourite armchair and soak up the silence.
This was what he had wanted for a long time. The place to himself. Without his little master wanting this, that or the other, or sunk in a deep sulk in his room just because he couldn't have it.
He pondered the nature of his link to Ciel. At first, neither of them had known exactly what to expect under Hannah's curse, and behaved much as they had with each other when Ciel was human. Ciel had been as arrogant as ever, lording it over his butler, and Sebastian had catered to his whims. The only thing that seemed really different at the beginning was the demon earl's nasty new habit of gloating over Sebastian's predicament, and Sebastian's unbecoming reaction of resenting the burden with which he had been saddled. He had gone through moments in which he had truly felt that he hated Ciel.
But in the course of living in hell for a while, in alternation with residing in the mortal world for a regular change of view, master and butler had gradually learnt that the Hannah-forged contract was not quite like the contract between human and demon. Ciel did not truly have any all-encompassing power over Sebastian, and Sebastian did not really have to obey Ciel. Instead, it was more like a responsibility – a bond between an elder devil and a younger one – a kind of guardianship, if they could put it that way. They were tied to each other in the way that a guardian would be tied to a ward. Sebastian was obliged to protect and care for Ciel as any senior demon would be obliged to guide a younger one under his care, but he was not under his thumb. All the utterances of "Yes, my lord" and "No, Young Master" were little more than form – and occasional sarcasm – as well as a habit of politeness towards a novice demon who was, after all, noble by birth.
Once they realised the way things worked between them, Sebastian had livened up considerably, ceased hating the young one, and begun behaving just like he had whenever he'd played the role of strict tutor to the living earl. Ciel, on the other hand, had had a good deal of his arrogance and confidence shaken as he learnt just how little he knew about immortal life. He had descended fraction by fraction into a sullen state of being with occasional moments of sarcasm masked by feigned ignorance – truly as if he had finally discovered the art of being a terrible teen.
Sebastian now realised that the obligation binding them could eventually end. Just as Claude and Hannah did not stay dead after dying, he did not necessarily have to remain chained to Ciel, did he? When Ciel became an experienced demon, he could loosen the apron strings. Or ask Hannah to revoke her spell. Or appeal to a council of elder devils to sever the bond.
Sebastian smirked. What an attractive idea it was to be free of the brat in every way. What good was keeping him around if he couldn't eat him? If Claude and Hannah were so fond of him, they could take him and keep him, and play Daddy and Mummy demons to their three little imps. He would let Ciel spend as much time as he wanted with that dysfunctional, somewhat-dead family, and they could have him. Then he, Sebastian, would be relieved of his duties.
He stood up and strolled through the sandstone mansion to Ciel's bedroom, pointed boot-heels clicking a staccato beat on the polished stone flooring. He pushed open the chamber door, glanced around the generous space, and started making plans for utilising the room after the younger one was gone. He could turn it into a nursery to house the race of cats that he was planning to breed selectively over the next three thousand years, until he developed a line of moggies that could thrive in hell. Then he would have cat companions. Lots of cats. Without Ciel giving them sour looks or complaining of phantom allergies.
Sebastian huffed. Allergies indeed. How could the earl still be allergic to cats when he wasn't human any more? Most absurd. Although... his nose had run a little, and his eyes had gone slightly watery in their Paris house twenty-five years ago when he had slept in the bed on which Sebastian had been cuddling a bevy of French feline beauties earlier.
Now, that was strange. Perhaps there was something defective about him. His unusual start to demon life could have left him wanting in certain ways, retaining shades of his mortal vulnerability.
Maybe he could fall out of roller coasters and die.
Sebastian started to stretch his perfectly shaped lips out in a sinister smile, only to have the corners of his mouth freeze before the expression could become an authentically demonic grin. For some reason, the thought of the brat falling out of an amusement park ride and ceasing to exist was not as funny as he had hoped it would be. In fact, it wasn't funny at all. Perhaps the Hannah-imposed obligation was making it impossible for him to find genuine entertainment in the thought.
He experienced a flash of what could only be called irrational panic as a distasteful image shot through his mind: a mangled immortal body splattered on the ground of the Disneyland theme park, waiting to be scooped up into a bag by Claude and toted home to him, neither dead nor alive.
Immediately, he wanted to fly to the amusement park to see that Ciel was safe. But that would be ridiculous. It would look foolish. Besides, the connection between him and the younger one was not alerting him to anything amiss; it would sound warning bells inside him if something bad really happened.
So Sebastian paced the house, checked and double-checked the mark of the contract on the back of his hand for lines gone squiggly, and generally fretted like a worrywart. It was with the utmost self-discipline that he schooled his fine facial features into a semblance of flawless nonchalance hours later, when he finally sensed Ciel's presence within the boundaries of hell. He had returned with Claude, Hannah and the Lhasa Apso siblings, without a hint or whiff of injury.
Not only was there no suggestion of anything wrong with the little demon, but if Sebastian's ears did not deceive him as the group drew closer to the mansion, Ciel sounded happy. The miserable aristocratic child turned deflated sourpuss demon was chuckling.
Unable to believe his faultless ears, Sebastian opened the front door of his mansion and stared out at the incredible sight of a smiling Ciel, wearing Mickey Mouse ears, riding high on Claude's shoulders. Alois, in a faux-fur hat with a tail, was yapping away to him while perched in the crook of Claude's left arm. Behind them, a contented looking Luka snuggled deep into Hannah's ample breasts.
The earl's smile vanished as soon as his huge eyes, flashing like a mood ring from blood-red to deep-blue, locked with Sebastian's garnet gaze. Sebastian said nothing, only watched with secret relief as Claude first put Alois down, then reached up and took hold of Ciel under his arms to lift him off the back of his neck. Claude could easily have lowered Ciel directly to the ground, but unnecessarily readjusted the young one in his grip and put one hand under his bottom before setting him on his feet. It triggered an abrupt shot of disapproval through Sebastian's innards.
The earl's guardian was further showered with pinpricks of discontent when Ciel appeared not to notice at all that Claude's hand had made contact with his behind. Those pinpricks exploded into sharp dismay when Alois – right in front of him – said goodbye to Ciel with a huge, wet, sloppy kiss full on the mouth. With tongue. What was most staggering to Sebastian was that Ciel did not seem to object to the smacker in any way whatsoever before mutually ending the contact, waving goodbye to the dysfunctional family, and going indoors.
Sebastian was left to glare at the little group and shut the door stonily behind him. The second that door was closed, he swung around and faced Ciel.
"What was that about?" Sebastian demanded calmly, without raising his voice at all.
"What?" came the uninterested response from beneath those insufferably tacky Mickey Mouse ears.
"Oh, that. Alois fancies me, that's all."
"Alois fancies you?" Sebastian repeated disbelievingly, while a spare section of his brain wondered for the thousandth time how Ciel assimilated modern jargon so readily.
"We always knew that, didn't we?"
"I thought it was Claude he 'fancied'."
"He always had a crush on me too."
"That little tart." The words flew out of Sebastian's normally restrained mouth before he could stop them from rolling off his tongue.
"Oh, getting catty, are we?" Ciel remarked interestedly.
"If I really wanted to get catty, I would ask if the two of you had spent the entire day necking in the spinning Wonderland teacups. And I would ask why in the name of Lucifer you did not appear to object to his manner of showing how he fancies you," Sebastian rumbled.
"Well, I do have to kiss somebody at some point, don't I?" Ciel snapped. "I'm over a hundred and ten years old, and I've never kissed anyone I didn't eat afterwards, so it's about bloody time. And we didn't neck in the stupid teacups – what were you thinking? Of course we made out in front of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves instead."
The little demon earl turned on his heel and stomped upstairs in a perfect teenage pique. Sebastian glided up after him to find the bedroom door shut. He knocked only once and did not bother to wait for an answer before swinging the door open.
"I might also ask about that failure to react to Faustus' hand on your bottom?"
"Like it's the first time I've had my bottom fondled," Ciel muttered, spreading out his Disneyland purchases of colourful T-shirts, badges and a plastic wristwatch on the bed. He had already changed into one of the new tops.
"Luring mortal prey with one's body is a time-honoured tactic employed by devils everywhere. But allowing another devil – even a dead devil – to fondle your behind is something else."
"Is it now?" Ciel cocked his mouse-eared head and flashed a glimmer of ruby-and-sapphire at Sebastian. "How different? Does it allow him to claim me, or something?"
"Perhaps it does."
"So what? I'm starting to think that getting eaten by Claude way back then would have been a hell of a lot more fun than getting stuck with you." If Ciel was playing the part of a rebellious boy of the 1980s, he was doing a very good job with the performance.
"You are no delight to be stuck with yourself, my lord," Sebastian responded frankly.
"Well, neither of us asked to be stuck with each other," Ciel snapped.
"Quite so. But for the present, we are. So at the very least, remove that ridiculous ear-embellished cap from your head and have a serious discussion with me about Faustus and Trancy."
"I like these ears."
"What do you imagine you are? A mouse demon?"
Sebastian stretched an arm out to pluck the cap from Ciel's head. But the boy was a devil now, immeasurably quicker than he had been as a child. He nipped away so skilfully that Sebastian was rather impressed despite his annoyance. With great self-control, the elder demon held back from lunging at him, an act that he knew would surely degenerate into the undignified spectacle of chasing the young one around the mansion.
As they faced off, with the cat-loving fiend Sebastian blocking the door and Ciel the mouse-mimicking devil deep inside the room, the guardian-demon suddenly found the whole situation laughable. He tried to contain his amusement with one of his usual smirks, but ended up emitting a rather inelegant snort.
"What's so fucking funny?" Ciel demanded, sounding defensive.
The youngster's vocabulary, Sebastian thought with an inward sigh, had expanded greatly but had hardly improved over the last hundred years. His social skills had also regressed – and social skills were important for a devil. It all meant that he had failed miserably as a tutor. But never mind. Demons took centuries to fully mature. Ciel would be a youngster for quite a while, and he, Sebastian Michaelis, could try to remedy the shortcomings of his charge.
"Your insistence on wearing that cheap headpiece is remarkable," said Sebastian. "You only ever wanted nothing but the very best, but now you want plastic mouse ears?"
"I wanted the best material things as a mortal, because mortals actually need material things to survive," Ciel retorted. "Now that I've achieved my revenge and turned into a devil, and we're stuck in a demon-to-demon contract, I have the right to have a bit of fun without you always trying to keep everything the same!"
"Fun means wearing tacky accessories?"
"Sometimes it does."
"And… wait – let me see if I have the modern terminology right – it also involves 'snogging' Alois Trancy and permitting Claude Faustus to pat your bottom?" the senior devil questioned sardonically.
"I don't see why it shouldn't. In fact, Claude and Alois were surprised that you hadn't already taught me all that stuff. As my guardian, you're supposed to do all that."
"You've been watching movies and television programmes and reading books with plenty of sex scenes in them for decades," Sebastian reminded him. "You are also very practised at luring mortals into hotel rooms. I haven't had to teach you anything."
"Watching movies and reading books about sex isn't the same thing as practising it," Ciel answered. "You also know that when I lure mortals into private chambers, I only let them grope me once or twice before I eat them. You were the one who taught me to be quick about impersonal feeds."
"It is the most practical way to obtain a meal without fuss or investment of time."
"Unlike in a contract."
"So as we are in a contract, why haven't you invested any time in teaching me what Alois was able to impart a fair amount of in the course of a single earth day?" Ciel asked, fixing Sebastian with his fluctuating, mood-ring stare.
Sebastian looked back at him and replied: "I was under the impression that you would not like to learn such things from me, your erstwhile butler and general dogsbody."
"It would have been better than learning from Alois Trancy exactly how much I didn't know."
"Very well. If you want to learn, I can teach," said the older demon, striding across the room.
He could tell that Ciel was debating whether to dart off again, but the earl settled for staying put. Sebastian reached him, lifted him up by his underarms, and deposited him on the black-crystal table. This was the desk at which the younger one regularly practised demonscript and studied a wide variety of immortal, human and animal languages in order that he might communicate in any tongue with any foe, victim or ally of any species, race and nationality.
"Well? What did Alois do to you that was so new?" Sebastian inquired, studying the little demon's face, framed by the blue cap to which the mouse ears were attached.
"He put his tongue into my mouth," Ciel answered, looking back curiously at Sebastian, lightly kicking his sneaker-shod heels against one leg of the table until Sebastian put his hands on his knees to still that irritating movement.
"In a hundred and eleven years, you have never, until today, tangled tongues with another creature?" the senior devil asked.
"No. Why did you never teach me?"
"You are Ciel Phantomhive, and I am Sebastian Michaelis. Our interactions have always been circumscribed by the roles in which we first came to know each other. I did not think you would welcome a change in our interpersonal dynamics. Neither did I see you as someone I would choose to be intimate with in such ways."
"Not your type?" Ciel queried curtly.
This gave Sebastian pause. He did not really have a "type", come to think of it – besides cats, naturally. Cats were always his type. But other than feline femme fatales, he had the capacity to find many different kinds of creatures attractive. It was a rather broad range that encompassed several species, sexes and ages, but it very certainly excluded Grelle Sutcliff, the AngelAsh abomination, and all dogs. It didn't – he was certain that it didn't – exclude Ciel Phantomhive. It was just that Ciel was Ciel, and had been his little master from the beginning. Sebastian had always been permitted so many liberties with him as his devil butler that going further had never seemed necessary…
"It's too bad if I'm not your type," Ciel was filling in the blanks with his own interpretation of Sebastian's silent, contemplative pause. "It's your job to teach, whether you like it or not."
"Hmm," Sebastian murmured, running his garnet eyes over his ward's features and asking himself why he had never in a century gone beyond pinching and stroking those butter-smooth cheeks. "So… what did Alois do to you today?"
"Should I show you?"
"By all means."
Ciel, still sitting on the desk, reached up with his right hand and cradled Sebastian's head lightly, thumb brushing his cheekbone and little finger only just reaching the nape of his neck. He pulled Sebastian towards him, and craned his own neck to bridge the remaining space between them. Then he touched his slightly parted lips to the older devil's and slipped his tongue delicately into the other's mouth.
Sebastian's lids slid halfway over his eyes as he sampled the taster offered to him. The earl still possessed that distinctive Ciel-scent and flavour, except that it was now spiced with devilishness, making him taste nothing like a mortal meal. Instead, he was like a delicious something else altogether…
They drew a hair's breadth apart, faces remaining very close, eyes hooded. Sebastian spoke lowly, his words fluttering against Ciel's lips: "I see. And where did he do this?"
"On the Space Mountain ride. In the dark."
"What else did he do?" he whispered.
Ciel took Sebastian's hands. He brought the right hand to his waist, slipping the elder one's fingers under his T-shirt. The left hand he drew down to his hips. "He put one hand under my shirt like this and the other on my bottom. Then he kissed me again, somewhere in one of the side lanes between two shops, just after we left the riverboat ride."
"Like this?" Sebastian murmured before pressing his mouth to Ciel's, moulding his lips to his, searching, exploring, tracing the rosebud contours and the tiny fangs, meeting that strangely unskilled but curious tongue, appreciating the complex, aromatic flavour of his essence, and surrendering swiftly to his own newly hatched desire for the youngster.
Ciel kissed back inexpertly but conscientiously, and Sebastian felt the warmth of lust and gratification seeping into him when he heard the young one make a soft, throaty "Mmm...". He pulled the small body closer, the hand under his T-shirt sliding up along his spine to cup the back of his head, knocking the Mickey Mouse cap off onto the desk top.
The light clack of the plastic ears hitting the crystal table roused Ciel from his absorption in the kiss, and the two devils slowly pulled apart, their lips separating with the tiniest of pecking noises.
"Hmm," went Ciel, with the kind of judgemental tone that suddenly made the earlier "Mmm" sound sufficiently ambiguous to Sebastian to make him wonder if he might have misheard that first throaty murmur.
"Well?" he questioned with the barest shade of impatience as his heated arousal warred with the spectre of what threatened to be cold water coming his way, courtesy of his ward. "Was it like that with Alois?"
"Actually..." Ciel began, looking thoughtfully at his guardian-butler.
"Alois kisses a lot better than you."
Ciel popped the mouse ears back onto his head, slipped out of the hands of a flabbergasted Sebastian, and hopped lightly off the table. He paused in the doorway to look back briefly at the elder devil and add: "I think I'll take my lessons from Alois and Claude instead of you. I'll probably learn a lot better that way."
Leaving Sebastian speechless, the young one strolled out of the room, heading in the general direction of the kitchen, humming something that sounded suspiciously like part of the tune from "It's A Small World After All".
Note: I don't anticipate that this story will be a very long one. I'm not likely to take it above a few chapters.
Warning: OOCness is nigh-unavoidable in this tale, because the point of it is that it's been nearly 100 years since Ciel turned demon, and they've both changed a good deal in the decades they've reluctantly spent together.
Names: I spell characters' names as they are spelt in the English-language Kuroshitsuji manga by Yen Press, and in Square Enix's Kuroshitsuji character guides and other supplementary publications. I respect others' preferences for alternative spellings of character names.
Disclaimer: I don't own Kuroshitsuji, and make no money or profit from writing this fanfic; Yana Toboso has all the rights to the original manga and anime and the characters in them.