I told you I'd be back with a new SebxCiel fic :) This one's gonna be loooonnnnggg! Expect at least 40,000 words, probably more.

Darkness was his comforting friend. Loneliness was his lover. Misery was his world. Sebastian Michaelis had nothing. Maybe there was something, once. But whatever it was disappeared. He didn't remember a time when he was happy. He had no recollection of a lighter, better life. As far as he knew, he had been miserable forever.

Ciel Phantomhive, on the other hand, was the complete opposite. He had no recollection of every being unhappy, not even close. Depression was a foreign concept. Misery was some distant disease that would never infect him. As far as he knew, he was immune.

Sebastian trudged slowly through the sludge and dirt of the East End. The sky was dreary, the ground murky, and Sebastian himself, a mixture of both. He was walking to work, just like he did everyday, just like he had everyday for the past eight years.

He had attended university, graduated, and had had a job. Unfortunately, the job had not become a career, and he had been laid off. And that flicker of happiness that might have been, never was.

He worked in a small book shop. Nothing special, and it was certainly no Notting Hill, but it paid the bills. And if Sebastian ever wanted to achieve something nice, he would have to start with the bills. He had read a book once, about money. Money did not achieve happiness, according to the book, but to Sebastian, it seemed like it would certainly help him on the way.

The book shop was dank, drab, and devoid of any color or humor. Sebastian thought, on more than one occasion, that he would decorate the place, maybe something visually appealing could help him. But just like all of his many attempts at becoming happy, decorating didn't work. He ended up tearing a few posters apart, and shattering a mirror. No, decorating did not help him.

He stepped into the shop, taking off his gloves, coat and scarf. He meticulously placed them on the coat rack. The scarf was crooked, he straightened it out, spending several minutes on making sure it was perfect. When Sebastian was satisfied, he moved over to the counter, bent down underneath, grabbed a fresh wipe, and brushed the counter off, despite there being no dust. He disposed of the wipe, took another one, and began to swipe off all of the bookshelves. The whole process took an hour.

The shop was ready to be opened. Sebastian flipped the sign over, making it read 'open' on the outside and 'closed' on the inside. He drew the blinds open, and peeked out the window. This part of town was usually empty. There was no point in expecting any customers anytime soon. He would be alone for a few hours.

Sebastian passed the time by cleaning some more. After the shop was completely spotless, in fact, far superior to spotless, he took a random book off one of the shelves. He blushed slightly; it was an erotic novel. He quickly shoved it back onto the shelf. He took another one, a classic. He read three chapters before a customer walked in.

"Why is it so dark in here?"

Sebastian jumped. He hadn't heard anybody walk in. He stood up hurriedly, dropping the book to the floor as he did so. "I apologize, sir. The electricity bill was too high-" He stopped mid-sentence, noticing the man who stood in front of him. He was the most beautiful man Sebastian had ever seen. Porcelain, smooth, soft looking skin, raven hair, and the two biggest, bluest eyes, he had ever beheld. Sebastian blushed slightly, before averting his eyes. You don't have a chance, Sebastian. Men like that don't go for men like you.

The customer smiled. "Do you own this shop?"

"No, the owner is ill, so I take care of it for him. But he's been sick for years, so I guess I might as well own the place, I've been here for eight years after all..." Sebastian stopped. Don't talk too much. He'll think you've been starved of human companionship with the way you're going. Then he nearly laughed at himself. But you are starved. When is the last time you had a real conversation, Sebastian?

The customer's smile widened. "I've been by this place a few times. It's the only building on this street that doesn't look like it's been through the apocalypse." He grinned. "I guess I have you to thank for that, right?"

Sebastian very nearly blushed again. Contain yourself. "I clean it everyday," he said it proudly.

"How much do you make, if you don't mind me asking? You see, I'm doing a project for a class at school. I'm supposed to gather data from all over the place. Rich, poor, the middle-class, and everyone in between."

"I make enough to pay the bills," Sebastian said, knowing very well he was on the poor end of the spectrum.

The young man wrote something down. "What's your name?"

"Sebastian Michaelis."

He jotted it down, then reached out his own hand. "Ciel Phantomhive."

Sebastian took it.