Ciel Phantomhive had stared at the letter in disbelief, utterly repulsed by its contents. He had tried to kill the bastard, and would have done so if it hadn't been for Sebastian whisking him away to tend to his wounds. And now Alois Trancy wanted to pay him a visit? Whatever could the blond be thinking?
It was only with great restraint that Ciel didn't tear the letter to shreds. Rather, he sat down at his large desk, glancing blankly over papers that meant little to him, and even less to the Phantomhive estate, and thought seriously about the request. He was well aware that Alois Trancy had an unhealthy obsession with him. It was due to him that Ciel had lost everything, wasn't it? So what did he want with Ciel, if it wasn't to take his life?
Unable to find an answer, Ciel took the most expedient route; he accepted Trancy's request to visit the Phantomhive mansion, on the condition that he come alone and without any of his guards. Ciel didn't need another battle destroying his own home, and if Trancy refused, then it would save him a great deal of trouble.
To his surprise, two days later he received a reply. Alois Trancy agreed to his condition and would arrive on Friday, in three days' time. Ciel scowled, unhappy with the other boy choosing the date and time of his arrival. He debated telling Sebastian about their soon-to-be visitor, but decided that since Sebastian obviously didn't want the two of them near each other, he'd let it be a surprise. He'd see how his butler dealt with a most unwelcome visitor, especially as Ciel had invited him. He couldn't directly oppose his master's will, so he'd have to be a bit more creative.
Unfortunately, nothing turned out as planned, which shouldn't have surprised Ciel since he was used to things going wrong where the demonic butler was involved. Sebastian took his leave that day, claiming urgent business elsewhere and leaving Ciel in the incompetent care of Meirin, Finny, and Bard. The only one that was reasonably useful was Tanaka, and Ciel rarely demanded much of the old man. He had been an outstanding butler when Ciel's parents had still been alive, and Ciel suspected that the old man knew far more than he let on, but he had earned his rest.
So it was a very put-upon Ciel that greeted his unwanted visitor later that evening. If nothing else, though, that initial sighting gave Ciel information that he hadn't had previously. Blue eyes lit up happily, and Alois smiled at him, completely indifferent to Ciel's forbidding expression. "Thank you for agreeing to host me for an evening," he said graciously; or as graciously as he could with his childish manner. "Claude has sent me away for a single night, and I'm not familiar with anybody other than you around here. Besides, they're all boring, and adults."
His expression of disgust would have been amusing, but Ciel was too busy processing his words, the unspoken words quite obvious. Claude had sent his master away; Sebastian had taken leave for the evening. Which meant that, whatever was going on, it likely involved the two demons performing some ritual or other that they didn't want the humans to know about. Ciel trusted Sebastian completely – the demon wanted his soul, after all – but he didn't trust that Sebastian would keep him safe from harm. Death, yes. But a little pain seemed to spice things up for the butler. If Ciel had cared enough to think about it, he might worry that Sebastian intentionally led him into trouble just for fun, but it didn't matter. It never had, as long as Sebastian kept his part of their contract and gave Ciel his revenge.
He supposed that he could refrain from killing the Trancy heir for a single night, until he found out what the hell his butler had been up to without bothering to inform him. The fact that he could have ordered Sebastian to tell him what he was doing was easily ignored, and Ciel turned his attention to his guest, determined to play the proper host.
"Welcome, Lord Trancy," he greeted in return, trying not to gag at having to use the formal title. "I am Ciel Phantomhive, master of the house. Please, make yourself at home. I'm afraid that my usual butler is absent today, but I do hope that you find our accommodations sufficient to your needs." He was sure Alois would find them more than sufficient, because if he didn't, Ciel would revoke his invitation and send the brat out into the streets, regardless of the time of night.
Alois looked around as Ciel led him to the dining hall. It was nearly supper time, and Ciel was aware that Sebastian had, at the very least, taken care of all his duties beforehand. Sure enough, the table was set properly for Ciel and his guest, the clumsy servants were nowhere to be seen, and the banquet table was filled with delicious foods, kept warm or cold depending on their requirements. Ciel had never understood how Sebastian could keep food hot for hours, but as the food was always perfectly prepared, he had never questioned it, either. It must just be a demonic ability.
"It looks so good! Your Sebastian is amazing!" Alois said, practically glowing with admiration. Ciel blinked, then shrugged, ignoring the little niggle of pleasure that Trancy's praise had caused.
"He's a Phantomhive servant," he said instead. "If he couldn't do at least this much, I would have no reason to keep him." Alois looked up at him in disbelief, but Ciel ignored him, settling himself at his plate and picking up his silverware. He ate daintily, properly, and watched as Alois Trancy did the same, but with far less success. It was obvious that the other boy had not been raised as a noble, and Ciel wondered again what secrets his demon was keeping from him.
Alois sighed, his expression almost melancholy. "You're so lucky, Ciel," he said, and the earl tried not grit his teeth at the other boy's continued familiarity in calling him by his first name. "Sebastian would do anything for you. And Claude likes you, too," he added, almost pouting now. Ciel scowled, fighting the urge to shudder; how utterly repulsive, having a spider demon attracted to his soul.
Setting down his silverware, Ciel gave him the only answer he had. "My soul is spoken for. Your demon will have to be satisfied with yours, for I will not permit him to have mine." Blue eyes studies his own for a moment, and then Alois smiled in acceptance, nodding.
"I suppose you are right, though it's a horrible feeling coming in second place to you, you know," he said. Ciel said nothing; there was nothing that could be said that would make things any different. "Sebastian killed my little brother," Alois admitted candidly, catching Ciel off-guard. He blinked at the other boy, surprised at the non-sequitor. "It's why I wanted Claude to take you away from him. If he took my brother, then I will take his master."
Ciel's eyes narrowed dangerously as he stood abruptly, his hand smacking the table. "And is that why the Trancy household murdered my parents? The spiders were tired of being stepped on and turned against the Queen's dog because a demon killed your brother?" If the answer was yes, he didn't care what Sebastian was doing; he was going to take Alois Trancy's life.
Alois stared up at him in utter surprise. "Kill your family? What are you talking about?" He sounded so honestly confused that Ciel hesitated a moment, scrutinizing him. Alois frowned, then spoke slowly, obviously choosing his words carefully. "You think that I ordered your parents to be killed?" he asked.
Ciel nodded stiffly, and realization dawned in Alois' eyes. The earl wished he'd share whatever enlightenment he'd just gained with him, so they could get this over with. The other boy didn't keep him waiting, tilting his head back and laughing, though it was a cold and brittle sound. "That's not possible," he said. "Your parents died before I took over the Trancy estate. I don't owe you an explanation of my past, but it's not possible that I had your parents killed."
No longer certain what to believe, Ciel decided to think about it later. For now, he had duties to complete as the head of the Phantomhive household. He excused himself with a quiet murmur, then turned and walked away from the table, hearing Alois excuse himself as well before following him. Ciel led the way to the study, and settled down at the chess table. Alois stared at the game in distaste for a moment, but sat down on the opposite side, claiming the white pieces.
Alois was surprisingly good at chess, much to Ciel's surprise. The earl wondered why the other boy didn't care for the game, but Alois didn't offer the information, and Ciel didn't pry. It wasn't like it mattered or anything; it was just a passing curiosity. Besides, Alois was a silent participant in chess, which relieved Ciel; he had been afraid the other boy might be just as talkative during a game as he had been during dinner.
They played several rounds, until it was well into evening. When Ciel noticed Alois nodding off in his chair, he halted the game and stood. "I am afraid I must retire for the evening," he excused himself. "If you will be so kind as to wait a moment, I will have someone show you to the guest suite." He'd send Tanaka – the old man was the only one he trusted to any extent not to completely mess up such a simple task.
He was forced to stop as a hand reached out and snagged his sleeve. Ciel looked back to see Alois shaking his head. "No. I want to stay with you, Ciel," he said. Ciel was about to object, strongly, when huge blue eyes turned to stare up at him pleadingly. It reminded Ciel so forcefully of the way the blond had looked up at him after being stabbed that it gave him pause, and Alois spoke again. "I am here without Claude or the others. I have no one here but you. If Sebastian were to find me here in a room, he would kill me."
Ciel almost shrugged the other boy off, but a small part of him knew that Alois was right, and that he wouldn't be able to stop the demon if Sebastian bypassed him. After all, it was hard to give a direct order to a demon that wasn't there.
Disgruntled, Ciel nonetheless conceded the point and permitted Alois to follow him to his own room. He changed quickly for bed, aware of the soft rustling behind him as the other boy did the same. Turning around, he gestured for Alois to crawl into the bed first, which he did. Ciel settled in on his own side and lay down, closing his eyes and letting his breath even out.
Alois shifted a couple times, and Ciel almost kicked him to the floor to sleep, but he finally settled, his breath evening out into sleep. Once he was sure the other boy was asleep, Ciel sat up and turned to face the door, waiting for his butler to return.
Sebastian returned to the Phantomhive estate not fifteen minutes later. Ciel could sense his presence in the mansion, as if the place had grown darker, colder all of a sudden. He had asked Sebastian about that once, and the demon had explained that any place inhabited by demons felt like that. It was part of the reason there were so many human servants in the mansion. They might be bumbling idiots most of the time, but they were human, and they brought life and warmth into this place, so that Ciel need not be affected by his butler's presence. Still, Ciel had always been able to tell when his butler was near, and so he waited while Sebastian headed straight for his room.
The door to the bedroom opened, and Ciel met the demon with calm eyes. Sebastian stopped, red eyes widening in mild surprise, then turning to glance at the person behind Ciel in the bed. Alois Trancy lay there, innocent-looking in his sleep, and so very young. Sebastian looked at the boy with disinterest for a moment, then turned to meet his master's eyes.
"Is there a reason my Lord has the enemy in his bed?" Sebastian asked calmly, and Ciel could hear the resigned curiosity. Ciel's felt his exposed eye warm as it no doubt glowed with their contract as he shrugged, turning to stare at the blond-haired boy.
"I don't know what you were up to tonight, Sebastian," he answered. "But take this little brat home, and don't you dare wake him. That's an order," he growled, his eyes narrowed in warning. He was completely exhausted, and if the Trancy heir awoke, he'd protest the move, loudly. Ciel didn't need the headache. Alois Trancy was still very much a child at heart, no matter what he pretended otherwise.
Sebastian was holding back a smile as he bowed, making Ciel scowl. "Yes, my Lord," he answered. There was no other answer he could give. After all, Sebastian was merely one hell of a Phantomhive butler.