He had asked Sebastian to stay again, until he fell asleep. Sebastian, being the obedient butler that he was, moved back to stand guard next to Ciel, the flames from the candles he held glowing dimly in the room, creating a small halo of light and warmth. Their last mission had been hard on his young master, and that child-like vulnerability had broken through the surface. It was a side that Ciel would only ever allow Sebastian to see, because he knew the demon would never say a word, to anybody. Sebastian was his, and only his.

Now, Sebastian watched the boy sleep, feeling a familiar affection steal over him. This child was so strong, but there was a side of him that called to Sebastian, that made him more protective than was usual for him. It was rare that he allowed himself to become close to any of his masters, because becoming close would make it that much harder to take his payment when the time came.

Gently putting out the candles, Sebastian's crimson eyes gleamed, staring steadily at the prone body on the bed. His eyes had no trouble picking out even the smallest features in the dark, and he reached out, gently brushing Ciel's bangs off of his forehead. Ciel made a small murmur, but otherwise didn't stir, and Sebastian went back to standing guard, observing his master.

His master was so innocent when he slept. Here, at night, he wasn't the Queen's loyal dog. He didn't command a powerful demon, didn't involve himself in political intrigue and gruesome cases. Here, he wasn't even an orphan. He was Ciel Phantomhive, nothing more and nothing less.

The first time Ciel had asked the demon to stay, Sebastian had been so tempted to just take the boy's soul, but he had honored the contract. The next morning, when he had awoken Ciel, the boy had appraised him, and Sebastian had realized that it had been a test. A very real, very honest test, but a test nonetheless. And Sebastian had passed.

From that night on, Ciel would show only Sebastian his weaker side; that hidden part of him that was still a wide-eyed innocent child, the part that needed someone older and stronger to stay by his side, to not leave him all alone with the dark and scary things. And Sebastian did his very best to fulfill that role, as well.

Sebastian sighed quietly, seating himself on the floor, his back against the bed as he tipped his head back, allowing his eyes to close. Oh, he wouldn't fall asleep – demons didn't need sleep – but he'd sit here for a while yet, enjoying the closeness and vulnerability of the boy he called master.

He smiled ruefully to himself – to think, when that thrice-damned ritual to summon him from hell had actually worked, Sebastian had been expecting to find a powerful magic-user in the midst of the cult worshippers. Instead, he had found the unbreakable spirit of a boy intended to be used as a sacrifice, but who had enough raw power and determination to attract a demon of his caliber. It had surprised and pleased Sebastian, who had seen the boy as easy prey.

He had been wrong; Ciel was anything but easy prey. His only goal was to destroy those who had caused him to lose everything, those who had hurt and humiliated him. For that, he would give up his soul. But Sebastian had also seen the determination to keep on living, to survive and overcome any obstacles in his path. He hadn't realized that under the childish façade, there lay in waiting a ruthless, calculating mind that enjoyed toying with his enemies.

The complexity of the child he had bound himself to intrigued Sebastian, and he had spent the past two years trying to figure out just what it was that stirred these feelings in him. He wanted to protect Ciel, take him and comfort him and lock him away somewhere, where nobody could hurt him. He found himself wanting to preserve the exceptional soul that lay in wait for somebody to claim it.

And so, he continued to be the Phantomhive's butler, to follow Ciel's orders. He also spent his days, when not out on a mission for the Queen with his master, cleaning and straightening, which inevitably ended up in threatening the other hired help when they decided to try and be useful, and instead made things worse.

Ciel mumbled something behind him, and Sebastian turned around, seeing the frown lines slowly forming, and the way his body tensed. Looked like his master's hesitation hadn't been without cause, he smiled. A nightmare was starting, though these nightmares were made all the worse because they were actually memories of the time when he had been kidnapped, branded a slave, and tortured.

Rising to his knees, Sebastian removed his glove and reached out, carding slender fingers gently through the boy's hair. Ciel turned instinctively into the warm, gentle touch and settled down. The demon smiled, and for once, it wasn't his usual smirk of amusement. No, this was a much gentler smile, one that not even Ciel had ever seen, though he was the only one Sebastian looked at this way.

The nightmare banished for now, Sebastian once more sat on the ground, though this time he faced his master. He'd keep the nightmares at bay tonight, and perhaps, just perhaps, when this was all over, he'd consider an alternate method to devouring the boy's soul.

But, he smiled, that was a decision for another day. For now, he'd do his duty as a butler of the Phantomhive family; he'd protect Ciel, carry out his orders to the letter, and do whatever it took to see that the boy finally got the revenge he was seeking. After all, what sort of butler would he be if he couldn't even do that?

Reaching up once more, Sebastian gently cupped Ciel's face, smiling when the boy turned again into the warmth of his palm. His thumb swept gently across his master's cheek once, and then he let his hand drop.

Master and servant remained that way through the night, and when dawn approached, Sebastian rose, slipping silently out the door to begin his duties. But he left his heart and thoughts behind him, with the small child lying in a bed far too large for him, his vow set. That child was his, and nobody was going to take Ciel away from him. Nobody.