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The Reaper's Bookshop
Chapter 16: Closing time.

Sebastian clears his throat. He looks like he's role-playing the part of a teacher—or maybe a lawyer, as he's a bit over dressed. He taps a manila folder and raises an eyebrow behind his glasses.

"What are you wearing?" Ciel snorts.

"Don't you even care to see what I have for you?" He gives Ciel his best impression of a teacher frowning.

"I'm working. Don't get in my way."

Sebastian ignores him and sits at the table closest to the coffee bar. "I have solved your company's financial issues for this quarter," Sebastian announces. He leans forward, and delicately flips a page.

More of a lawyer after all. Definitely a lawyer,Ciel muses. He risks looking at Sebastian.

"You might as well sit down. You don't have any customers," Sebastian says, meeting his eyes and smiling slightly. He looks suggestively at the chair opposite.

"Hey." Gregory looks up from his sketchpad. As a regular of the shop, he would have expected more attention. Then again, perhaps not when Ciel is angry with the P4. Neither Sebastian nor Ciel pays him any more attention.

Sebastian reveals two more printouts. "I took the liberty of releasing your design, the certain soft plush toy at a toy convention for dolls-and-toy makers, a collector's fair, and at specialty shops in Akihabara under the title, Bitter Rabbit. With my marketing plan-"

"Save it." Ciel steps in for a kiss. "You saved the family business, hurray, hurrah." He can't quite keep the smile from becoming a smirk. At last recalling that they are not in private, Ciel steps away to resume dusting. (A never-ending battle in the Undertaker's bookshop. Not to mention a losing one…)

While he cleans, he thinks about the problem Gregory and the others brought to his doorstep. Before he knows what he's doing, he's talking about it, albeit quietly.

"I've started talking to other people about dad. He's either clean, or going to pull back with you snooping around. Not that it's any of the P4s business." He gives Gregory a pointed look. "If I get any more harassment about that, I'm getting a lawyer."

Gregory merely continues drawing. "Hmmm." He looks up briefly, but his long hair shadows his eyes.

Sebastian looks towards the refrigerator and oven behind the bar. "Your pie dough should be chilled by now. Do you want help?"

"Ah, right...need to add filling." Ciel sighs. "Why do we have to make the sweets now?" he grumbles. Since Sebastian started coming around, his workload has nearly doubled.

"No, you need to let it get to room temperature, roll it, and then add filling," Sebastian chides. He rises, pushes in his chair, and snatches an apron from under the counter. Ignoring the gothic maid design, he wraps it around Ciel.

"Why do I have to wear this?" Ciel grumbles.

"You are more likely to spill than I am." Sebastian smiles and laces Ciel up.

"Not so tight," Ciel grumbles. "What is this, torture? And hey, just because I let you help doesn't mean you have any right to my paycheck," Ciel warns.

"But I should get a share of the profits of your Bitter Rabbit sales, as your manager." Sebastian quips. "Wouldn't you agree?"

"We're not talking about that now." They go about the kitchen, preparing to finish the sweets. "Why are there so many crusts?"

"These are tart shells," Sebastian explains. "I made them."

"But we're already making more than enough for the lemon meringue..."

"Don't fret, Ciel…this is good. You'll like it," Sebastian promises, putting on a pair of kitchen gloves. He sets out almond paste and uncovers a glass bowl of pears Ciel hadn't noticed before.

Ciel hmms in approval, and while he distracts Sebastian with a brush of lips
against his cheek, he steals a nut from the syrup-like juice and plops it in his mouth a second later. He steps away with a smirk.

Sebastian merely smiles at Ciel, amused. As Sebastian works, he speaks quietly. "So you decided to try and keep any and all news from the P4? Or trust your father not to make mistakes?"

Ciel shrugs. "I never heard anything that suggested he was up to anything except managing poorly. Only you and the P4 are keen on knowing about his police investigation hobby. And I said before, I don't think he could hide anything illegal or unsavory from his police mates. So the investigation stops here."

Under Sebastian's hands, pears are reduced to thin slices. Then he whisks a separate bowl at a furious pace. Almond paste, sugar, butter and egg-whites combine to make a mouthwatering smell. For someone who enjoys cooking, he doesn't look like he's taking it at the right pace... Ciel wonders if he dislikes being kept from investigating. Or maybe he just doesn't really like being told to quit snooping.

But Ciel has customers to serve and books to sell. He exits the kitchen. Twenty minutes later, the tarts are baking. Lemon meringue pie ingredients are laid out, already measured and waiting to be used.

When the business slows, Ciel walks away from the registers, preferring to talk to Gregory this time. Sebastian will probably finish this next pie as well, the show off.

"Hey," Ciel sits down next to the older teen. "Do something about the P4, would you?"

"Mmm…" Gregory responds, noncommittal.

Ciel leans in to look at the sketchbook. It's a drawing of Sebastian, he's startled to find. Sebastian looking deathly pale and serious as a devil, with a sly grin like a knife-slit. Currently, Gregory details a…rather too ornate depiction of blood coming out his mouth. When he notices Ciel's gaze, Gregory lazily etches 00666 in the corner, as one might with a caption.

Ciel blinks. "Is that the explanation? What, is Sebastian supposed to be some sort of demonic secret agent?" He frowns. "Wouldn't it only be 666? The 00 is only for the first nine, wouldn't you say?"

Gregory stops and stares at the paper. "…hm."

They stare in silence for a bit.

Undertaker leans in over the boys, startling them with his proximity. "And 010 for the ones after nine to ninety-nine …" he drawls. "I remember that story..." he snickers. "I like the blood effect, Gregory. Maybe a little more on his hands, yes? Let him hold something nasty…" Undertaker rests his chin on his long fingers. He slowly tilts his head to look at Ciel. "How's the baking going? Getting along well with Sebastian in the kitchen? Also, I found this in the break room..." He pulls a piece of paper from his voluminous sleeves.

It's a university application.

Gregory raises one eyebrow. He peers over Ciel's shoulder.

The tarts smell divine. Ciel wordlessly takes the application in hand, and slinks back to the kitchen, where neither Gregory nor Undertaker can prod him.

There, Sebastian sets the pear and almond tarts on antique cooling racks. The tarts are still too hot to eat, but even still, he can't resist the temptation to try it.

He examines the beautiful tart, eying the candied cherries and pear slices. With delight, he pulls one pear slice and candied cherry from the top with his fingers. Then he observes it closely and just resisting the urge to blow on it. He puts them in his mouth (and burns his tongue) before Sebastian can scold him. He licks his fingers, soothing the mild burn.

Sebastian is frowning this time. "Please stop snacking, little cat," he chides, shaking his head at Ciel's food stealing antics before reaching for the document Ciel holds with his other hand.

He scans the application, and looks at just one thing. Under College Preference, Ciel has checked "Art and Design."

Sebastian smiles.



A/N: I hope you enjoyed "The Reaper's Bookshop." I did! Especially exploring Ciel and Sebastian's awkward relationship.

…my lovely beta, Carrie, wants to see a date, but I am lacking inspiration at the moment. If you come up with cool ideas, lemme know.

Otherwise, I am going to work on the next Kuro story! :D See you there!

Next story...demon Sebastian tries to gain a contract with Ciel...but the blasted modern world is just too confusing... (it's a gift fic for my beta, Carrie.)