-:- Subject 13's Butler -:-
.:A Kuroshitsuji Fan Fiction:.

Author: AoUsagi

Summary: Ciel takes the leap into Oblivion, only to wake into a strange white-washed world of beeping machines and white-coats doctors. The only thing that seems real is Sebastian, who steals him away from the hellhole laboratory to save him from the sick sake of science.

BeforeNote:

So has everyone else heard the hype already?

Well there's been a confirmation of a new Black Butler anime coming out sometime soon – this one supposedly 'following the manga' which is just like saying that the live action movie of Black Butler is not a joke. And, well, it isn't. It's been released just the other day – all us everywhere except Japan can hope for is a subbed version out in fourteen parts on YouTube by May.

Anyway, I had a point here somewhere. Oh yes, Kuroshitsuji III.

I've already had a word with some others I happen to know share the passion for the debonair butler and his sweet-scoffing charge and they too aren't too certain about this return Ciel and Sebastian are planning to make. Following the manga, huh? Does this mean we'll see the Noah's Arc Circus? The story arc on the Campania with the zombies and the Aurora Society? The Murder Mystery cases involving Arthur Wordsworth or whatever his name was? Grey and Phipps? Elizabeth's family…? The school arc?

Come to think of it, that does sound pretty promising.

So I suppose the only question now is what is everyone else's thoughts on this new development? And how many of you will be looking forward to seeing blandy-future Ciel-descended Asiatic girl team up with a curly-haired Sebastian for a frolic down memory lane?

- Mercy

Maybe I'm just jaded because I'm becoming so used to being let down by things that make huge waves among the fanbase that it's starting to turn me off new instalments to ongoing series. I've already had the last of the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth spoiled for me and there's a fat chick I know who keeps drinking all my creaming soda and blabbering on and on about Assassin's Creed, ruining all the storylines for upcoming games for me. Urgh. Anyway, here's chapter 43.

Oh and go listen to the Shadow of the Colossus Soundtrack whilst reading this chapter because it's what I'm currently listening to and that shit is AMAZING and if you don't like Shadow of the Colossus then please imagine me staring at you with an eternally disappointed expression whilst sharpening a large kitchen knife on a blunt rock.


Chapter Forty-Three: Like Father, Like Sebastian

-:-

"Exeter," Sebastian announced as they passed yet another roadside sign which welcomed their arrival to the Shire of Devon. "A historic city based in Devon on the River Exe – thirty-seven miles north-east of Plymouth, and seventy miles southwest of Bristol."

Ciel looked up from the game he'd been idly playing on Sebastian's phone. Looking out the window, he saw pretty much the same scenery as he'd been gazing at for a good hour or so before asking Sebastian for something more interesting to do. "What's it's population?" he asked, not really caring but wanting to somehow keep the conversation the doctor at his side had started. He didn't expect Sebastian to know the answer, anyhow.

"According to the two-thousand and eleven Census, taken a few months ago, Exeter's population sits at one hundred and seventeen thousand, seven hundred and seventy three," The dark haired doctor replied after a moments thought, and Ciel felt his eyes widen. Damn – was there anything this genius didn't know?

"How did you know that?"

"I like to check out our destinations and the places in which we'd be passing through to get to said destinations, that's all," Sebastian chuckled. "Call it being prepared."

Ciel smirked a little. "I call it having an obnoxiously good memory."

"There's that too," the dark haired doctor laughed. "It was one of my many charms that made a lot of my co-workers either adore me or wish me a fiery and gruesome death."

He raised an eyebrow. "Oh?"

"Occupational risk," shrugged Sebastian. "I preferred to associate with the former group, if that's of any comfort."

"Oh it's of great comfort, let me tell you," Ciel snorted. "If you'd favoured hanging around those who wished you dead then where would we be today?"

Sebastian seemed to consider this for a moment. "Good question. Most likely, either dead or somewhere else across the country. Depends on how well we managed to deal with aforementioned associates."

Ciel chuckled as he turned his gaze back out the window – he liked these back and forths between Sebastian and himself – Sebastian didn't treat him as a child, but as an individual. The man never let Ciel's immature and irrational decision making hinder the fact that he seemed to understand that Ciel had a much higher way of thinking and understanding. There was the element of protection, keeping Ciel safe from things that could harm him, but when it came to the simpler things, plausible situations or anything of the like, Sebastian treated Ciel like an intelligent adult. It made Ciel feel special…though, he thought a little cynically, it wasn't as if he weren't already special enough; being an experimental toy for whatever sick and twisted reason the Karnstein's 'Director' Ashe Landers had.

The pastures and countryside began to melt slowly into cottages and farmsteads, and Ciel watched the isolated pieces of civilization go flashing by between the trees that seemed to twirl in place by the roadside. Slowly, the areas began to look more populated – until the first signs of Exeter really began to make the scenery seemed more like an actual place noteworthy of being marked on a map. Buildings started to rise up on either side of them, white-walled and brown thatched or tiled roofs. The highway narrowed off to smaller streets, branching off in every direction; large signs of advertising and street directions to certain areas stood proudly along the centre islands of the roads, and off over the top of some of the roofs, Ciel could even see a couple of large church spires towering high up towards the clouds. The day had warmed into a sunny one, the heat becoming so that Sebastian had the cars air conditioning going on high after he'd noticed Ciel starting to wane in the heat.

"We'll stop for a drink, and then we're heading straight onwards to Newquay. If we follow the route up around the north side of the Dartmoor National Park, we should be in Bodmin, about twenty minutes east of Newquay, in about an hour." Sebastian said, reeling off the words like he'd rehearsed them or run them over in his head so many times they'd come out automatically. "After that, it's smooth sailing to Newquay."

It took Ciel a moment of weighed silence to realize the joke. "…You made that gag because Newquay is known for its beaches and seas-side leisure's, didn't you?" he asked, an eyebrow raised in Sebastian's direction. In response, the doctor chortled as he indicated and pulled the car over into a car park in front of a large shopping plaza.

"I was hoping you'd get it."

-:-

Ciel had to take a moment or two to just stand back and admire the sheer vastness of the plaza in front of him. The food mall was, quite literally, colossal. There were dozens of vendors lining the walls and tables and chairs dotted wherever there was room, and wherever there wasn't a chair or a table either occupied or not, there were people. He was reminded of the bustling Hucksters stalls and halls of the Steampunk Convention, the constant buzz of life and movement, on top of which there was the noise level. People chattering, yelling, swarming in packs or families, groups of teenagers or elderly ladies in red hats all bundled together in a happy, twittering bunch over cups of coffee.

"Is the entire population of Exeter in here?" Ciel asked Sebastian quietly as they descended on the escalator from the ground level of the food mart and into the food court beneath it. Sebastian glanced around, taking scope of the entire place.

"Possibly," he replied dubiously – even he seemed a little taken aback by the crowds and hoards swarming around. "Reminds me of-"

"The Convention?"

"Yes."

"Me too."

There was a second of silence between them, and then Ciel felt Sebastian's hand on his shoulder, his thumb rubbing a gentle, soothing arc over the base of his neck. The doctor had heard the nervousness in Ciel's voice, something that Ciel felt only a little embarrassed about, but was far more calmed with how Sebastian had handled it. No words were said, and as they stepped off the escalator, which seemed to be nearly as crowded as the underground food court itself, the raven haired doctor didn't let Ciel go – keeping that comforting hand on him, guiding him through the throngs of people and keeping him close.

They made their way, ducking and weaving and sidestepping other shoppers, to a large bar with a colourful shop-front advertising ice creams and smoothies of every flavour; they even had a fresh-fruit menu to choose from. It wouldn't have been the sort of place Ciel would have considered, with its garish neon signs and multicoloured menus, but Sebastian had said, as they'd gotten out of the car and stepped into the warm late summer air, that something cold and refreshing would be good for Ciel. After all, Sebastian had packed water bottles that morning when they'd made their exodus, but in the warmth of the car travelling in the rising sun all morning, the water had become hot and slightly stale tasting.

The two of them were pushed and shuffled around a bit, but once they'd established roughly where the line to the counter was, they had some time to properly examine the boards above them showing them the variety of shakes, smoothies and ice cream combinations on offer. Feeling his mouth water a little at all the illustrations, Ciel couldn't decide what he wanted – in the end, once they reached the counter, he'd finally settled on mango 'thirst-quencher' smoothie, with a couple of ice cubes to finish it off, while Sebastian ordered a large peach flavoured iced tea. Their orders took another five minutes of preparation, and by then Ciel's feet were beginning to ache, and he could feel a damp soggy patch on his shirt at the base of his spine where sweat that trickled down his back had been collecting. As they wound their way back through the crowds and up onto the sunlit ground level of the plaza in front of the car park, he could even see the heat waves shimmer on the tarmac, feeling the cold beads of condensation running down the card-cup of his smoothie and pool around and drip over his fingers.

Once back in the car, Ciel heard Sebastian sigh slump into the drivers seat, turning the key in the ignition and twisting the dial of the air conditioner up to high. For a moment, they were blasted by warm air, but it was just as quickly replaced by a cool, refreshing rush of colder air. Ciel relaxed into his seat, realizing that he'd been holding himself tensely throughout the entire trip, and as he glanced over to Sebastian as they sat sipping at their refreshments, he saw that Sebastian too had been incredibly tense.

"You okay?"

Sebastian inhaled deeply as he righted himself slightly, before letting out another sigh.

"I hate being so cramped." He muttered, almost to himself, and Ciel felt something sink in his heart – he hadn't expected Sebastian to come out with something like that. A personal inflection.

"We…didn't have to go down there," Ciel murmured, and it was as if Sebastian remembered where he was, what he was doing, and he straightened up further, clearing his throat and buckling his seatbelt.

"Forgive me, Ciel. I'm tired – I didn't have much sleep last night, between getting back to the safe house and calming you, then the call from Grell…" the dark haired doctor rubbed his eyes and let out a tired groan. "Urrrgh – I really shouldn't be driving like this. It's a danger."

Ciel tried to offer him a smile. "If I were older and knew how, I'd offer to drive for a bit."

That seemed to lighten the mood, as Sebastian chuckled before taking a sip from his drink. "If you were older and knew how, Ciel, yes, I'd probably take you up on that offer."

"Would it help if you had a break for a bit?" Ciel asked. "You know, stop and have a rest?"

"It's advisable to pull over and take short naps if you're driving over long distances," the doctor nodded. "Twenty minutes to half an hour normally do it. However now I have this," he held up his large iced tea, "I can probably get to as far as Bodmin before I need to have a break."

"Why's that?"

Sebastian took another sip from the bottle. "Cold fluid in a warm body does wonders to wake one up," he chuckled as he tucked the bottle down beside his chair and started the engine. "Come on – put your seatbelt on and we'll get moving."

After another fifteen minutes or so of driving through the winding streets and roads of Exeter, they finally made it back onto the highway and were soon up to a much higher speed, the traffic thinning until there was barely any other cars on the road. After about twenty minutes and plenty of thinking time, Ciel piped up again.

"Would you teach me how to drive?"

Sebastian glanced sideways at him, eyebrows raised. "And whatever makes you think I'd be a decent driving instructor to teach you?"

"You're good at driving, from what I've seen," Ciel noted. "I mean, I've seen Pluto's driving – and you're easily three times better than him."

A chuckle came from the doctor. "Heh – well, yes, but then again Pluto taught himself how to drive."

"What about Bardroy? He drives appallingly."

"Bardroy's been driving since he first lost a tooth. He's had plenty of experience and that over confidence of his has made him lazy, which is why his driving is sloppy," Sebastian reasoned. "But he'd be a far better teacher than myself."

"He's not as patient as you," Ciel countered easily, and Sebastian nodded.

"True enough. Then again, Mey-Rin's good with kids."

"I'm not a kid!" Ciel objected, which roused a laugh from Sebastian. He considered reaching out a whacking the doctor in the arm, but thought the better of it. That sort of move would only prove childishness. "And I've never seen her drive, but she's dangerous when it comes to motorcycle riding."

"That's a good point. I doubt many of us had ever even thought twice about ever riding one of those things before a few nights ago," Sebastian chuckled, reaching down with one hand to unscrew the cap off his bottle of iced tea to take a swig. Ciel by this time was slurping down the last crunchy icy bits in the bottom of his smoothie cup. "But she's a very good driver. Probably better than myself."

Ciel thought for a moment, a sudden memory coming back to him.

"You can't drive, you're injured! You idiot!"

Mey-Rin's voice echoed in his mind, from that hazy night where he only vaguely remembered being rescued from the Hospital by Sebastian, Finni and Mey-Rin. Mey-Rin had known better than to let Sebastian drive, but she'd also known a lost argument when she saw it. Ciel wondered, had Sebastian not been injured, would he have been thinking more clearly? Would he have considered more options rather than merely following his escape instinct? Watching the doctor's pale, smooth hands holding the steering wheel, Ciel thought about it. Sebastian was the leader of the team because he was a good leader. He had good control. He worked well when he was in control. Was it at all possible that he found it easier to take charge and handle things himself rather than rely on the others? It made Ciel reflect back on all the times Sebastian had made decisions on the fly – snapping orders and taking responsibility for the actions of the others. Telling them where to go, what to do. Wait for his signal. Move on his mark. The man wasn't even thirty and he had more control and loyalty from his followers than a countries Prime Minister, Ciel realized.

"Thinking about something?"

With a blink, Ciel snapped out of his wandering train of thought.

"Uh…yeah." Time to change the subject. "So. Will you teach me to drive?"

Sebastian chuckled again, before looking over at him with a smile. "If we find a quite spot somewhere in Newquay, I might, repeat might, show you the very basics."

Feeling a smile stretch across his face, Ciel understood why Sebastian was such a good leader. He was willing to give things a chance. Ciel was fairly sure that thirteen year olds weren't supposed to be driving cars on public roads, because he'd never seen other young adolescents his age behind the wheel of any other vehicle he'd seen on the streets, but if Sebastian was even considering such a thing as letting him try, then anything was possible.

He noticed Sebastian smirking to himself. "What?"

"Oh, I was just thinking how odd it felt to say such a thing," the doctor mused. "It's such a…I don't know, such a dad thing to say."

"A…dad…thing?"

"Yes – the sort of thing one would expect a father to say to their son, an unconfirmed possibility of an exciting new adventure that may or may not be frowned upon. A secret between just the two of them."

Ciel's thoughts flicked back to that night after the second day at the convention, when they'd been at the motel. His aunt's wild story about being his mother; Sebastian her husband, and his stepfather. It had just been a tale spun to help land them a couple of rooms without arousing too much suspicion, but…what Sebastian had said, about loving him as if he were really Sebastian's own son…Ciel found a strange sort of comfort in the words. It wasn't the same as any recollection he had of his actual father, it was different…but no less meaningful.

His sudden quiet didn't go unnoticed; it was almost as if Sebastian were about to tell what he was thinking. "I can never fill the role of your father, Ciel. We will find Vincent Phantomhive, or he will find us. I am not a paternal figure."

Ciel nodded silently, before a question rose. "So what made you become a doctor?"

"Desire to understand the way we work as living organisms," Sebastian sighed after a moment of consideration. "The incredible salary was a huge bonus. But after a while…it stopped being merely about the clients and how much they were willing to pay. It was about saving lives. Preserving lives that didn't want to extinguish. But I kept it on a strictly business-only level."

"Until you got dragged underground into a sick experiment to keep me alive?"

"Yup." There was a grim nod to follow the abrupt statement, and then a pause before the doctor continued. "I stopped using my head to think and followed my heart. I worked impulsively to try and keep you alive – whatever I felt was right, I did everything I could to get it done. Didn't matter if others got hurt – you were what was most important. God, I must have worked mindlessly for at least two weeks before I collapsed from exhaustion. It was about then that my head and my heart started to work together, and I actually got things done and made some real progress."

"What do you mean?"

"I ignored everyone in that period. The Director? Barely saw him. The medical team? Never said a word to them except for 'get out of my way' or 'I'm busy move'. After I ran myself ragged I realized I was going to need help to save you. I couldn't do it alone, despite how deeply I felt I had to – I'd landed you in this mess, I had to get you out of it."

Ciel watched Sebastian carefully. "You're a good person, Sebastian. You could've done much worse."

"Yes, I could have." There was that tired sigh again, before the doctor glanced his way with a slight smile. "But then again, I suppose I didn't do too badly, either."

He returned the smile. "You know something?"

"Surprise me."

"I think you'd be a good father."

Sebastian laughed softly. "If ever, Ciel. If ever."

-:-

There was tension in the air around the Director's office – Claude could almost smell it the moment he stepped into the room. The Director was sitting at his desk, seemingly relaxed, but Claude had grown used to the façade. In reality, Ashe Lander's shoulders were taut, his steepled fingers tapping each other a sure sign of his nervous tick. The due date was getting closer – they had mere weeks now.

"You called for me, Director?"

Ashe turned his cold, steely gaze on him. "Yes."

"…Am I to presume it is something to do with the Subjects?"

"Yes." That penetrating glare…had Claude Faustus been a weaker man it would have terrified him into silence. But he'd become so well acquainted with it that he was no longer feeling that slight shudder of insecurity ripple down his spine like a trickle of icy water. There was something in that gaze that told Claude he should be filling in the blanks. It took him a moment.

"This is about the disappearance of Keeper Landsdale, isn't it?"

Ashe nodded. "She has abandoned her Subject – we lost contact via the video camera in her shirt yesterday afternoon. It lost signal and the technicians haven't been able to re-establish a connection since. We must presume that she does not intend on coming back."

"That would mean Subject Eleven has no one caring for them. Most unfortunate." Claude pushed his wire-framed glasses up the bridge of his nose. "What do you plan on doing?"

"I've have deployed Annafellows out in the field with the trackers in an attempt to hunt down Michaelis' team and recapture Subject Thirteen; had she still been here we would have passed Subject Eleven on to her." The Director stood, pacing the carpeted floor behind his desk, hands clasped behind his back, losing himself in thought for a moment. "Landsdale…I never would have picked her for a deserter."

Claude cleared his throat. "Neither, sir. However the question still stands, what will be done with Subject Eleven? Will the child be removed from the program?"

"No, no – we can't do that. Not to one of the top four test subjects!" Ashe objected, waving a hand in the air. "Instead…instead, have Keeper Hernandez pulled from Subject One – I'll contact the lab and have Subject One placed into a stasis until we can spare a Keeper."

"You say it as if you're sure we'll have Keeper's to spare."

Ashe paused to look at him as if he were some sort of imbecile. "Not all the Subject's will survive the process, Faustus. The weaker ones will not be able to handle such stress, but the stronger ones…the pure ones…they will be our shining success. They will be able to undergo the surgery time and again – which is why we need Subject Thirteen back. Michaelis has already proven that the child is able to withstand such extensive surgery; why else would we have let the boy slip so dangerously far?"

Realization hit Claude like a wet sock to the face. He hadn't quite expected that…he'd assumed that the childs condition had plummeted because of lack of treatment, but only because the project had turned it's attention to searching out and bringing in Sebastian Michaelis. He hadn't expected the Director to have purposefully let Ciel Phantomhive hang so close to the edge of death.

"What's that look for, Faustus? Didn't you say yourself once, without experimentation there can be no progression?" Director Landers said airily, turning to look out the office window. "I can hardly stand the idea of our precious prize Subject being in the hands of such filth…" he sighed deeply. "But…it must be so. Adapting to a situation such as this is what we do best. Take what comes, control what we have."

"…Yes, sir." Claude ground out. He was really starting to hate the Director – he'd never liked the man, though he'd found his schemes and plans amusing. Now…now things were going a bit far. But he was three years too late to do anything about it now; Michaelis had done the smart thing and picked his time to jump ship from the project. Claude had missed his chance. "…Will there be anything else, sir?"

"No." Ashe shook his head, not even glancing over his shoulder. "Leave; and I want you to be the one in charge of making sure the stabilization of Subject One's stasis is secure and complete. The child may of use to us yet."

Without needing further dismissal, Claude turned on his heel and strode out – the second he was out the door, he felt immensely better. God, he hated that bastard. Made Claude's skin crawl like he had a million spiders scrambling beneath his flesh, the way the Director went on and on about his 'pure' children…the Subjects…they might have been prisoners against their own will, with their free will and consciousness completely robbed from them, but, Claude realized as he looked at his hands…he, along with all the other Keepers, were just as much prisoners themselves.

Sebastian Michaelis, the bastard, with his entire medical team…and now Paula Landsdale…they were the lucky ones. They were the ones who escaped.

Sucking in a deep breath, Claude forced himself to relax; he hadn't realized how tensely he'd been holding himself whilst in conversation with the madman just behind the door at him back. And that's exactly what Ashe Landers was. A madman. Blinking away the pressure behind his eyes that would later build up into a severe headache, Claude sighed and headed down the hallway to the stairs, and descended back into the hellhole he was only just truly beginning to see.

-:-


AfterNote:

Heeeeeeey. Nother chapter done, huh? Took me far too long to do ;A;

Anyway – reviews, please! Gimme all your yummy love! And I'll shower you with adoration and affection and creepy gay jokes and throw a big tea party for everyone, how's about that?

Anywaaaaaaaaay – I start university soon (I start next month in March), guys, that and I've got a convention coming up, so I don't know just how often I'll really be able to update once I start studying again. HOWEVER this story is not going to be abandoned! I may be moving to the city but that means I get a laptop and shit and tonnes of internet from the family of friends I'll be staying with so I'll still have access to update and so forth, but my studies WILL come first if I can stay focussed ^^

Review review revieeewwww! And keep your eyes peeled for the other two mini-stories that are coming VERY soon (promise). (no seriously. I really do promise that. Next update on this story will see BOTH mini stories written and uploaded!)

Caio~!

- Mercy