Disclaimer: I don't own Kuroshitsuji. (Something for everyone to be thankful for, I expect. 8D; )

Author's Note: An idea/request from Alex Beoulve that I immediately made dark and horrible. I'd tell you to blame her, but to be honest, she's probably gonna hate me for this, too. :'D In any case, I live but to serve (and corrupt). ;3

Warnings: Alternate end of season one (with a brief shout-out to Claude). Fairytales, religious allusions, and general twistedness/depravity. Also grossness. SebaCiel.

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Nursery

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I. As a child, he had been presented an apple.

It had lain in the devil's outstretched hand, innocuously offered, glimmering with traitors' blood. A heavy, comforting weight, with shiny red skin and a sweetly intoxicating fragrance. A fruit of knowledge; of good and evil; of opportunity, plot, deception. A forbidden treat, the likes of which he had been warned about.

Eve. Snow White. Both had been gifted similar fare when courting tragedy, and had found themselves supping on anguish, agony, and death. He had read their stories, their fairytales, countless times over with his mother: heavy tomes with gilded pages, and vine-like illustrations that seemed to dance in the candlelight. During the blissful interlude of his youth, he had memorized their legends. Savored them. Dismissed them.

Twice cautioned, twice ignored.

And so Ciel shall suffer both of their punishments.

II. "Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet eating her curds and whey."

He had tried to resist, at first. Of course he had. With all of his might, he had struggled and fought—pushed the depraved butler's arm from his face—, had sworn and growled and bit and clawed— had screamed and demanded and stomped his booted feet, choking wetly on the word why, why, why. Gurgling, spluttering, he had sprayed the devil with copper-flavored splatters of his confusion, his stained teeth bared. But his tantrums never earn him anything more than fingers down his throat, and talons around his neck, and a silken-smooth hiss of shadows and hellfire in his ear: You asked for pain, did you not…?

He had. His memories have flowed downstream, and now reflect the moonless sky of Below. From their roost, he can see them, and he cannot deny. So he has no right to complain about the progression of things, even if this isn't the sort of treatment he had expected when he'd first sold his soul. (Would you rather I eat you in a manner more… literal? the demon had husked around his once-master's now-flaccid sex, opalescent pearls of melting liquid smearing the corners of his skeletal smile. And Ciel—feeling dry, drained, breathless and heaving, ribs straining against papery flesh—had been unable to do anything but shudder, silently sobbing, and give his head a slow, unsteady shake. M-maybe… he'd confessed in a rasp, hating himself for allowing his voice to crack. The simmering poison in the earl's thrumming heart bubbled over, then, as Sebastian chuckled, positioning himself with a smirk and a moan. Then be patient.)

Each bruise that blossoms upon his torso, his thighs, his throat is a mark of ownership. Each tender brand reminds him of his new, subservient status— contusions as blue-black as the feathers that line the nest of Sebastian's underworld lair. His new home. (For as long as we both shall live, he had been promised in a sinister simper.) Within a week—or perhaps it is a day, or a year— the undead child is intimately introduced to every rocky corner of the nest, every down-padded surface. Before long, all fight and strength is bled out of him: spirals down his skinny legs in the wake of gentle kisses, affectionate and possessive. Life is leached, and in exchange, a pale wrist is pressed against his lips.

Eat.

He no longer resists. No longer struggles, or fights, or pushes, or swears, or growls, or claws, or screams, or wastes what precious sustenance he is given. Instead, he feeds on the devil's spilling essence like one of the starving: slurps and suckles as if a babe at the teat, trying to fill his emptying insides with whatever provisions he can.

Even still, he wonders why.

And once, in the sweat-and-salt-scented afterglow, as crimson fluids slip from one puckered orifice and are lapped up by another, Ciel purses his cherry-smudged lips and asks.

Sebastian, in turn, smiles. His iridescent irises gleam so sinfully scarlet, his prey half-wonders if he is drinking the devil down in more ways than one. And soon, that smile splits and stretches, like the edges of a chasm, and the child is falling over, falling in— their bodies crashing together as the servant coos his answer, finishing two things at once.

"Along came a spider, who sat down beside her, so the crow stole Miss Muffet away."

III. Though devils do not sleep, Hell is not without a witching hour. Midnight falls with the histrionic finality of a velvet curtain, hiding even the smallest pinpricks of soul-glow from mortal eyes. When Ciel had first entered this realm, the unending gloom had been disturbing, disconcerting— nearly enough to break him. Though Sebastian had remained beside him, an arm around his middle, sanity is not something that can be corporally protected; familiar feelings often turn foreign in the dark, and once in a while he had regressed and cried, thinking himself again in the Cage.

For a time, the blackness had been so absolute, it'd even managed to swallow his thoughts, his memories.

But as weeks wear on, the abyss begins to lose its horror. Ciel feeds when commanded, is sexed when desired, and gradually begins to notice the changes that this regimen has wrought upon his body. Such correlations had been true in the mortal world, he supposes, so why not here; diet and exercise modify and hone, sculpting a person into someone healthier, stronger, than they had been before. And indeed—eventually—, he is healthier, stronger.

But he is also no longer human.

Nights pass. Increasingly, the nobleman's vision adjusts; his blue eyes are scorched crimson; his pallid nails gain a festering coat of fungus gray. It might have been frightening, had it not felt so natural. Excruciating, maybe— as if his innards were jellifying, and oozing from his body in gelatinous ropes—but natural, nevertheless. As natural as clammy skin and wordless shrieks of inexpressible torment. (You wanted it to hurt, he is reminded God-knows-how-many-times, an empathetic whisper in his ear. He can barely make it out over the drum of his own hamming heart. You asked for pain.) All the same, Sebastian makes a point of comforting his charge throughout the process, calming him and entertaining him, his sonorous voice weaving once-forgotten stories out of sound and sensation.

"And though every step the little mermaid takes in her new body is pure torture—as if walking atop knives, or blazing coals, or both—, she finds herself unable to keep from smiling… for she is happy with the death that she has (albeit unknowingly) chosen for herself, and relishes each moment of it 'til her doom."

Ciel sees the connection between the mermaid and himself long before he can see Sebastian in the dark. But though his body does, at last, complete its transformation, his mind and spirit stay mortal; he remains as good as blind. At least, blind to what matters.

His future is full of sea-foam, and he doesn't even know it.

IV. From time to time, Sebastian will vanish.

He is never gone for very long—a day, a night, perhaps?— and when the devil returns, he is full of both souls and stories, bubbling beneath his sallow skin in the places where blood had once dwelt. Ciel can taste a bit of each in the essence that he so-eagerly steals: effervescent entities, tingling in both throat and rectum. He latches like a parasite, these days: one mouth clamping down on Sebastian's shoulder while the other clenches around his turgid length. The earl hungers, so he is fed, despite the costs; his servant looks tired, but pleased.

And while Ciel eats, he is regaled with tales—told of the sights, sounds, and smells of the world beyond this one, the world in which he'd once resided. Horseless carriages, trains as fast as light, metal birds that carry humans from landmass to landmass… Sebastian speaks of it all, relishing his charge's grunts of awe and skepticism. Awe, skepticism, and, some days, begrudging discontent. The technology that the demon describes somehow feels more magical than anything that the lore of mermaids and fairies has to offer, and Ciel decides he quite prefers the latter. It is one thing to feel disconnected from a fantasy world of gingerbread houses— quite another to have been left behind and abandoned by the reality you'd once called your own.

Realizing this, the butler takes it upon himself to make amends, of a sort… So the next time he returns from Above, he hobbles over to his master, offers a wilting smile, and presents to him a book of nursery rhymes. The tome delights the boy, in the simplistic way a gumdrop delights a babe. With little else to do, Ciel spends much of his time pouring over the glossy pages, memorizing the simple meter, the elementary verses. He curls up beside the fatigued demon and shows him which stories he likes, and which stories he hates—scrapes his talons down the page of a bonnet-clad girl caring for a baby sheep.

"During That Month, that is what they would call me," he bitterly explains, forehead pinching in distaste. With a ginger touch, Sebastian tilts the picture back, scrutinizing it with oddly-ochre eyes.

"Was your appearance really so feminine, back then?" His voice is reedier than it'd once been, but still tinged with familiar amusement— velvet and cruel. His laughter elicits a scowl from his companion, as well as a reproving shove.

"Don't be thick. They called me Lamb." Small and sacrificial, a perfect offering for their altar.

"Ah," Sebastian purrs, gaze glinting with an understanding he'd held from the start. Not that Ciel had ever been fooled. "Well, as it happens, Mary would have been more appropriate."

A pause.

"Why do you say that?"

Another grin slinks onto the demon's face—sugared and slow and sable, like contorted cords of molasses. With a feathery kiss against his master's temple, Sebastian's spidery fingers drift: scuttle sweetly down his sides, over his hips… before falling to rest against the fleshy curve of Ciel's abdomen.

"Because you will have a little lamb."

V. "Do you know who offered Eve an apple, young master?"

They are lounging in their nest, lax and idle, as Ciel skims his beloved book for the umpteenth time. Don't kill the goose before it lays the golden egg, the tale warns, its script as vibrantly colored as a venomous butterfly. Vermillion is a cautionary hue. The pages flutter like wings between his fingers; he touches the bulge of his belly, and feels a bit safer.

"A devil, wasn't it?"

"Yes. And no."

Though no time seems to have passed for Ciel—sans the months that are marked by the swell of his midriff—, Sebastian is looking decades older: flesh withering away and chafed by the wind. His beauty remains, ethereal and perfect, but the body he resides in is rotting: decomposing beneath his master's lips every time he feeds.

"Do you mean to ask what the devil looked like?"

"I do."

The once-human hums, bored, as he settles more comfortably against his butler's chest. Neither needs to breathe, but it is a habit that they've both retained from the time they'd shared on Earth; Ciel is soothed by the steady rhythm of Sebastian's languid inhalations, and the music of the air as it rattles around in his ribs.

"He took on the form of a snake."

"Very good, my lord. Now, impress me again: do you know how snakes grow?"

The earl cannot remember the last time they'd had such a lengthy conversation… He half-wonders if he should be suspicious. But then, he cannot possibly imagine himself in danger. Not now. Not anymore. If Sebastian had wanted him dead, he would have been so long ago. Nodding to himself, the child holds the volume of poems and fantasies more closely to his chest, then scrunches his button nose in thought: trying to remember his tutor's teachings on biology and natural sciences.

"They shed their skin. They grow new skin, and when it's ready, they leave their old-skin behind."

"Precisely."

The devil sounds pleased with his charge's intellect; Ciel flushes a bit in self-satisfaction. And though the discussion amounts to nothing more— disintegrates, really, as attentions again drift to needs and hungers— its memory continues to carry a strange weight in the back of the boy's mind. It's as if the words had marked a turning point, of some kind; as if it had been a moment of importance.

As if it had been a warning.

Don't kill the goose before it lays the golden egg.

VI. "This bed is too soft," Ciel would joke, resting his aching body atop a mound of freshly-shed feathers. "This bed is too hard," he'd tease after the down was swept away, revealing the icy stone beneath. "This bed is just right," he'd hum, satisfied, as he'd curl up beside Sebastian, the distension of his stomach resting atop the demon's own. And they would laugh, and caress the protuberance, and murmur nonsense to one another: questions they'd not dared ask when alive, and answers they'd never have given in England. Secrets and confessions, sacred and scandalous.

But while they sometimes indulge in endearments and entandres, they mostly speak of the creature growing inside of the nobleman. Face to face, side by side, they curl close and bask in the adrenaline rush of mounting excitement—all anxious whispers and wide-eyed exhilaration.

"Do you think it will look like me, at all?" Ciel one-day inquires, sounding far-more hopeful than he is wholly comfortable with. He is heavy with child, now; too heavy to move. Sebastian—anemic and emaciated— is no better, too weary and worn to lift more than a finger. They have been lying like this for days upon days— sprawled on the rocks, hands interwoven— and neither has yet to fully notice. It's just as well; even if they did, they would not be able to do anything about it, anymore.

Sebastian offers his master a lingering smile, as enigmatic as it is wrinkled. "Perhaps. Though it is unlikely."

"Maybe it will act like me, then."

"I am certain it will have your spirit."

Ciel snorts; Sebastian chortles. And then they kiss, and they kiss, and they kiss some more—until the earl's writhing body goes from "too cold" to "too hot" to "just right." Until everything feels "just right." Until conditions are "just right."

Until Sebastian stops moving.

VII. He had drowned, once.

It had been his third death—after the fall, but before the Isle. He can still remember it, as if a dream: the burn of salt, like a wet flame, smoldering the skin around his bullet wound and setting fire to his wheezing lungs. Before that moment, he'd not realized how empty a human shell truly was— how full of air and holes and pockets. But he'd noticed each cavity, then: when his body had flooded, filled with millions of liquid worms, each wriggling into his corpse and weighing him down, dragging him into the deep… He had choked on those saline maggots, felt his skin grow soggy and slough, and had watched as his last gasps transformed into bubbles and sea-foam— his life little more than a decorative crest for future waves.

Ciel had drowned, once. And he is drowning again— spurting small founts of blood and bile as shrill shrieks of wordless agony try to fight past stretched lips. He howls; he thrashes. ("SEBASTIAN, SEBASTIAN!" No answer, no avail.) His esophagus is a coagulated mess of spit and rupturing vessels; his ballooned belly is a massive, infected blister, red and purulent and glistening. It undulates of its own accord, threatening to burst— to ooze a sizzling, septic mess over exposed limbs and frosted granite. What had once been organs, had been bones, had been blood and spinal fluids and lipids, has melted into a rotted mush of once-mortal tissues and viscous parts: corroded and eaten away over the course of a transformative pregnancy. Not human, not demon— not anything, not for much longer.

(We will make a Contract, you and I, the nursery book said— bold letters on bright pages, poured over and giggled at together. I will work for you, and I will make you gold, in exchange for your first-born.)

Through the scalding tears in his eyes, the earl can see it— see the flesh of his abdomen stretch to its breaking point. An elastic sort of squeaking echoes through the void, resonant and haunting. What was once pearl-pink turns burgundy, then cream, than corpse-gray as something inside of him begins to push- to strain- to bite- to claw—!

"SEBASTIAAAN—!"

Ciel's suffering scream goes unheard, drowned out by the squelching riiiiiiip of torn skin. The grisly noise is followed by the wet flop of shredded muscles folding in on themselves— the delicate pat of flesh-flap blanketing flesh-flap. Then, with all of the elegant tenaciousness of a baby bird escaping its egg, a tiny head (skin white as snow) peeps out of the gore-matted gash: her mass of hair (black as night) slick with intestinal goo and half-consumed fat. The small creature gnaws a bit on a chunk of heart, (lips red as blood) gumming on arteries as minute fingers tangle around spaghetti-threads of nerves. Her almond-shaped eyes— luminous with wickedness and a millennia's worth of accumulated knowledge— dart momentarily towards her bearer's… and they are blue: a bottomless sea-blue. So blue Ciel cannot breathe.

The newly-born devil crawls out of the crevasse she'd developed in, permanently severing the boy's ties to the soul from which she'd been birthed. (For what is a soul, if not an egg of intent— fertilized with notions of good or evil?) She sheds no tears when the light leaves her pseudo-mother's eyes— when he topples, limp as a doll, into a puddle of his own liquefied innards. Nor does she pause to consider what remains of her old-skin, of her father, resting motionless beside his cherished earl. The last of his essence had already been consumed and added to the amalgam of her new form; there is no need to waste time on the worthless.

But still, for the sake of uniformity and Balance, the blue-eyed demon helps herself to nibbles of Sebastian, as well: nourishes her infant body on leathery flesh and ashen hair, and wonders what her name will be, this time around.

Right now, she rather fancies Eve.

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