I didn't feel like doing any oneshots this weekend but chapter 66 really unnerved me. Since it jumped over so many loose ends, I'm just gonna make my own! Here's my version of chapter 65.5. with some additional drama just to spice things up.
For everyone out there who feels the same about 66, this is for you.
Warning for spoilers on the Campania Arc ending.
Disclaimer: I don't own Kuroshitsuji
The boat rocks gently, left and right. Ciel's eyes droop- he feels numb, numb, numb. Sebastian's jacket billows and Ciel shivers. He can hear noises; he hears whistles, shouts, screams, and his name. He can hear his name.
"Ciel," someone calls dimly. "Ciel," the same person calls groggily.
The earl is too tired to reply. The sun's soft rays cloud his vision. It is cold. He sees someone on the edge of the ship.
"Ciel!" Edward calls.
Ciel sees him. The ship is close. He smells salt and fish. He smells iron. He smells blood.
Sebastian's arms are around him. His butler is saying something, slurred and soft. "Young master, please stay awake," he says calmly, "they're coming down to get you. Lady Elizabeth is waiting."
The world seems to spin as the boat tilts with new passengers. Uniformed men lift him up, their beards wet and light. Ciel feels tired. One smiles at him, muttering something. Ciel's eyes are heavy.
The peace is briefly shattered by a loud thump. There is a shout. And from the corner of his eye, Ciel sees Sebastian sprawled on the boat floor.
He mutters the butler's name weakly. The uniformed man tells him not to worry. The world goes bright, then black, then nothing at all.
Dim voices. Ciel can hear Aunt Frances and Uncle Alexis and- and someone else. The world is nice and soft, a cloud of blankets and pillows. He shivers and shakes. It is warm.
"How is he?" he hears Frances say.
A strange, scratchy voice says something. "Plenty of rest- I'll check on him again soon. The foot should be fine," the strange male says.
Ciel's left eye opens slightly. He sees the blurred shape of a man cloaked in white. His head is balding and his chin sports a dull brown beard.
"Stoker?" he mutters. No, Stoker is not balding. Stoker is dead. Dead. Dolls. Undertaker.
The doctor pats him on the shoulder. "Earl, my best advice to you is to sleep."
Ciel narrows his eye. He knows the eyepatch is gone from his right eye. He doesn't care. He is too tired to care.
Undertaker. Reapers. Scythes.
"Sebastian," he tries to command. It comes out as a whisper. The voices go silent altogether. Alexis lifts Ciel's hand gently and takes it in his own.
"Ciel, Sebastian's not here."
Ciel stares dumbly, careful to keep his right eye shut.
"He won't be taking commands for a while."
Then Ciel remembers. Sebastian is lying at Undertaker's feet, bleeding and bruised.
"Don't worry," Frances adds softly, running her palm across Ciel's forehead, and stroking his hair in a surprisingly maternal way. Frances has never done so and for a moment Ciel is shocked. The world is soft and warm. He sleeps.
Ciel doesn't know how many hours it's been or days. He sits up, pushing the crude covers aside. The makeshift bed is strange and foreign under him. He hears snores beside him. Alexis is slumped in a chair.
The room is small and cramped. Ciel coughs and slides off the bed stiffly. He winces. The bandaged ankle gently touches the ground. Holding the wall for balance, Ciel reaches for a cane.
The doctor must have left it. That is his conclusion. Weary and cold, he searches the little room. His uncle's long overcoat is hanging on a nail. Ciel grabs it and wraps it around his shoulders.
He shivers and shakes. He wants to throw up.
He takes one step forward, limping unsteadily. One leg forward. One leg hops.
Ciel is tired. Too tired to think about anything else.
He pushes the door open with a creak and wanders out. He needs to find Sebastian.
The cold air slices at him. Ciel shivers and ignores it. He pushes forward, limping down the wooden corridors of the ship. He hears the noise of rolling waves and the ship's inner workings. He hears the laughter of sailors and passengers.
He keeps to the shadows, the dark twilight above him. The cane taps, taps, taps.
His ankle hurts and throbs. His throat is dry. Ciel coughs, coughs, coughs.
Cough, cough, cough. "Smile!" someone calls.
Before he can fall, Ciel is in a tall boy's arms. Silvery hair and scaled skin. Snake helps him against the wall. The footman takes his cane and leads Ciel down the hall.
"Smile, you should rest, says Oscar."
Ciel smiles softly. He beckons Snake closer. "W- where's Se...bastian?"
Snake doesn't reply. He grabs the edges of Alexis' coat and wraps them tighter around his charge.
"Black, I don't think Black wants you to see him this way says Emily."
Ciel snorts. "Since when h.. have I cared what he- he wants? Take me to him."
Ciel stops to cough as Snake guides him through the halls. His lungs hurt. The stars twinkle above him.
The area is crowded with beds and chairs. Dim lamps light the figures around him. Sailors and doctors. Nobles and servants. All running to and fro. Snake shields him from the moving persons.
He hears coughs that are not his own. He hears moans. He hears cries.
Ciel wonders why he is a tad surprised that Snake is leading him to the very end of the large room. It is logical- Sebastian is but a servant and he should be stationed at the very end.
The bed is crude but the covers look thick. Snake squats beside it in the narrow space between the butler's bed and the one next to it. Ciel sits on its side. He hugs the coat to himself.
Perhaps for the first time in their time together, Ciel sees Sebastian asleep. His face is tired and pained. Ciel puts a finger on it.
And it feels warm. Ciel frowns as he digs his hands in the blanket and pulls it down. Sebastian's bloody shirt has been cut open; it is barely hanging in tatters on his form. The dried blood looks black in the dark.
He puts a hand on the thick, heavy gauze coiled around Sebastian's chest and torso. Ciel is careful not to touch it too heavily. He doesn't want to wound the demon more than he already is.
"We thought he was dead," a woman says, squatting beside Snake with a tray of items too dark to see.
"He's not," Ciel finds himself saying aggresively.
"I don't know how he survived... that."
She does something on the tray. Ciel doesn't care enough to see. He says nothing.
"Dr. Lyell said it should have destroyed vital organs. And I think it did."
Ciel says nothing.
"Maybe he's not human," the nurse kids, holding up a small towel.
"Maybe," Ciel agrees before falling in a fit of coughs as the nurse dabs at Sebastian's head.
"Are you his son?"
Ciel is tempted to say yes. He doesn't feel like explaining much. He doesn't know why but a part of him wants to yell at the woman. He wants to scold her for putting his butler at the very end of the row. He wants to scold her because he thinks it's unsanitary and she won't know what to do if a pillar collapses or if a reaper shows up or if the wounds reopen or if Sebastian d- no, he won't die.
"I'm his master," Ciel mutters, "the Earl of Phantomhive."
The world is dark and warm, crowded and an ocean of stars. Ciel closes his eyes.
Ciel doesn't want to open his eyes. He doesn't know if morning has arrived but he doubts it. He is up to his chin in covers. A warm orange light shines on him. He hears Frances speaking. He remembers the nurse.
"Let him stay, then," Frances says, sighing.
"But, is it decent?"
"I don't think anyone here is in the mood for etiquette." The reply is curt.
A hand is stroking his hair. "I have two children myself. And this one, my nephew. I think of him as my own."
Ciel can hear Sebastian's breathing close by. Sebastian has never struggled to breathe.
"What about his illness?"
"The doctor told us rest is all he needs. It would be best not to move him around anymore."
Ciel's mind drifts away before the voices bring him back.
"I'm afraid I can't let him stay like this. He'll take up too much room."
"If you have any compassion, you will," his aunt shoots, "that man is all he has. And if he dies, at least my nephew will be assured that he was here in his butler's last moments."
The nurse sighs. "I'll let him stay til morning. But please, Marchioness do send someone for him."
Ciel ignores the rest of the conversation. He huddles next to Sebastian. He doesn't believe a word they say. Not one word. Not a single word. Not even a bit. Or at least that is what he tells himself as he slumbers away.
Ciel opens his eyes in the little room. Sebastian is nowhere to be seen. Alexis' coat is back on the nail and his uncle is gone. The door opens narrowly and Elizabeth walks in. It is one of the first times he sees her hair down.
She sits on the edge of his bed. Ciel casts a weak smile.
"I was worried," she says. The concern is obvious in her eyes.
"What about you?" he asks. The last time he saw her, she had been struck by Sebastian's hand.
"My head doesn't hurt anymore." She looks down sadly. "That was a dirty trick you two pulled."
"Ciel, I don't want you to worry about me... about anything. I'm not a burden."
Ciel gives a cough and Elizabeth's nose is touching his in an instant. "Do you want me to get the doctor? I'll go get him now!"
Before she can leave, he grabs her arm. Ciel shakes his head. "No, Lizzie, I'm fine."
"Are you sure?"
She continues staring down sadly. "Ciel, do you remember when you told me you're glad I'm not like my mother?"
Ciel jolts- he recalls the incident vaguely. He feels shallow and guilty. Elizabeth meets his eyes. "I tried not to be... but you know now."
Ciel stifles a cough and opens his mouth. "Elizabeth, is that what this is about? I... I'm not upset. No, I- I am proud. Any Phantomhive should be proud to have a wife like Elizabeth Middleford."
He is serious. And Lizzie smiles, eyes blurring with water.
Ciel takes a bite of the stale bread. Snake sits at the corner of the bed, prepared to clean up the crumbs.
"This is terrible," Ciel thinks.
"We're not formal passengers, so we'll have to eat whatever they give," Alexis says sullenly. Ciel can tell the man is hungry.
"How did we get this room, uncle?"
Alexis grins. "Let's just say I promised a healthy sum of money."
"Uncle, thank you for staying with me," the earl says abruptly. He is too tired to think about pride. All he knows is that the Marquis should be snoring in a bed, not on an uncomfortable chair next to his ill nephew.
Ciel gasps as the Marquis flies at him, pulling him into a bone-crushing hug. "You're welcome!" the man cries tearfully, rubbing Ciel against his chin.
It feels warm and Ciel is too tired to complain. He wonders what the Queen will do- he failed to catch the Undertaker. He thinks about ordering Sebastian to come up with a solution before remembering that the demon is in no condition for that.
Ciel imagines a meal at the manor before remembering that Sebastian is in no condition to make tea.
He takes another bite. Sebastian is in no condition to fight, make tea, or cook. It agitates him.
He remembers that Sebastian can barely breathe, let along all that.
Snake leads the limping boy back to the makeshift ward. They pick up their pace when Ciel sees the commotion at the very end.
He hears shouting and screaming. The other patients struggle to back away. Onlookers stare. Snake carries Ciel.
The footman fights his way into the crowd, forcefully shoving the medics and sailors aside. The bed is covered with blood; the crimson is pouring and pooling. Sebastian coughs chunks of red, wildy clawing at his stained chest.
The nurses try to pin him down. The demon bares his teeth and swats them away.
Ciel's heart pounds. He clumsily jumps out of Snake's arms and limps toward the bed. He is about to order Sebastian to stop this before the sound of a loud crack makes him stop altogether.
A sailor strikes Sebastian in the head and the demon crumples.
Ciel blinks to take it in. Sebastian has been felled by a human. A human. A human with the audacity to strike him. A man with the audacity to harm the butler of Earl Phantomhive.
Ciel marches up to the sailor, Snake at his heels. His blood is boiling. He is angry, beyond enraged.
So angry that he kicks the man with his good leg. The sailor swears and is about to lift him by the collar. Snake intervenes, shaking. Ciel notices that his fists are clenched- his footman is not shaking from fear, he is shaking from rage.
"Did I give you permission to strike my man?" Ciel demands, glaring.
"Your permission?" the man snaps.
"That's right! I am the Earl of Phantomhive and that man is my butler. To harm him is to harm my name," Ciel all but fires out.
The nurse from the night before steps between Ciel and the sailor. She is worried and frightened. She says something to the man and he shoves her aside. She stays her ground.
"And you," Ciel directs at her, "this is the ability of your staff!"
He points at the bloody bed, at the scarlet pooling on the ground. He seethes.
"I could have you all f-"
Ciel collapses in a curl of coughs. He hacks his lungs out. Snake crouches beside him, hastily lifting him up. The coughs don't stop. Ciel vomits heavily.
He hears shouts and arguments. He hears Edward yelling at the nurses. He thinks he hears Snake shoving the sailor.
Ciel catches glimpses of Snake being pulled off the sailor, his pets hissing. He sees a blur of gold as the Middlefords pick him up. He remembers Elizabeth's face. He hears Frances joining the argument.
Edward snaps at the medics. He sees the nurse stroking his face. Ciel's world is spinning. He feels covered in snot and sweat. He hopes there are no tears. He is in Alexis' chest.
It feels like an eternity when Ciel next opens his eyes. The dawn is low and he feels even more tired than before. He doesn't wake Snake. He knows the way to the ward.
Limping, the earl passes the shadowy halls, the shining clouds clearing above him. He enters the ward, moving at the speed of a turtle. When he finally makes it to the very end, Ciel falls face down on the bed.
It is clean. The only remnants of the incident from the day (?) before are the brown stains on the ground. Ciel lifts his head and sighs.
Sebastian is so pale he could blend in with the sheets. The butler's eyes flutter.
"Sebastian?" Ciel dares to ask.
Narrow, tired eyes stare back. Sebastian stays quiet, almost as if he is taking a moment to remember who Ciel is.
"C- Young master."
Sebastian winces as he lifts one arm and stretches toward Ciel. Bandaged fingers brush against the boy's face.
"You saw?" the demon asks, voice raspy and dry.
"Yes. You put on quite a show."
Sebastian lowers his hand, mortified. His eyes shift away in embarrassment. Ciel leans toward him.
"What were you doing?"
"I was stupid- it never occurred to me that I would pass out before getting on the boat," he sighs, "the wound has been stitched; I was prying the stitches out. They were interrupting the healing process."
Ciel frowns as he remembers the sight of the demon's pouring blood.
"I think you made it worse."
Sebastian laughs humbly. "Yes, I do believe I did."
Ciel wants to bring up the sailor. He wants to scold Sebastian for being so weak. He wants Sebastian to reassure him that it was just one big farce, to reassure him that he is worrying over nothing.
He says nothing about it because he knows it was real. What happened was as obvious as the bandages on Sebastian's chest.
Instead he says "It would be nice to enjoy the sea-air with no undead 'dolls.'"
Sebastian's weak gaze shifts back to him. The demon smiles wearily. Ciel gulps, knowing he will regret his next order.
"This is an order. When we get back to the manor, no matter what the others do, don't work."
Sebastian's eyes widen. He stiffens in surprise. "But-" he is about to argue.
"An order," Ciel interrupts.
"I see the young master has taken pity on me."
Ciel sees beams of light filter into the ward, soft and blurry. "Think of it as a reward."
"Yes, my lord."
Sebastian seems to doze off and Ciel feels his own lids slip shut. The world is soft and lazy. He imagines the bed rolling with the foamy waves, all green and blue, trails of clouds above them. He imagines grey and white smoke in the sky. He imagines a world with no demons and angels.
For now, he is a mere boy and Sebastian is a mere butler. All he wants is his butler to prepare him a cup of warm milk.
Typed that up in a few hours. Hope it was worth reading and please review! This fic is officially in my headcanon for what happened after chapter 65.
Edit: So the last line has been changed from "All he wants is to drink his butler's warm milk" to the above. It's been pointed out that the last line was an innuendo- which wasn't my intention- but I thought it was hilarious so I left it up there. But it's 2014 so I figured it's probably time I finally changed it.