Title: Dance With Me
Summary: Sebastian has learned jealousy.
Rating: PG-13 for violence
A/N: Spoilers for the anime of Kuroshitsuji up to and including episode 20. Warnings for (lots of) character death. About 1500 words.
Lady Elizabeth is the next.
Aberlin's blood is still wet upon the ship's planking when Ciel's exuberant fiancée presents herself at the mansion, leeching onto Ciel's arm in a flurry of curls and flounces and high-pitched squeals. Sebastian does not miss his young master's initial grimace--no one but Elizabeth herself misses it--but Ciel then sets his dewy young jaw and quirks his lips up into a smile of welcome that does not reach his eyes. Polite. Doing his best to be gracious. A gentleman in the presence of a lady, as Sebastian has taught him. Ciel has no real affection for his fiancée. So Sebastian reminds himself.
And does not care.
A demon has no difficulty stalking a person's whereabouts, and even a blind human being can't lose track of the loud whirlwind that is Lady Elizabeth. So in the brief time that she is not clinging to Ciel in the parlor, not accompanied by her maid Paula on their way to the gardens, but dashing between rooms in the mansion unescorted and unobserved, Sebastian catches her, breaks her neck before she has time for a cry, and lets her corpse tumble down the staircase.
Sebastian announces the accident; it's understandable for Sebastian to be the first to respond to a death in the mansion. He leads the others to the foot of the stairs, where a froth of splayed white petticoats makes a crushed carnation of Elizabeth's dead cooling carcass. There is howling and weeping, but not from Ciel, of course. Ciel's face is bitter and stony, but no tears; not then, not during the funeral, not when she is in the ground. No, there was never affection there.
But Ciel does threaten Undertaker with the most dreadful of fates he can conjure if he tries to molest Elizabeth's pink-clad cadaver in any way. Undertaker is impressed by Ciel's fury; Sebastian feels even deeper satisfaction at Lady Elizabeth's timely removal.
Finian is next. The boy's uncanny strength does nothing to save him from drowning, nor from the blow to the head when he strikes the tiled bottom of the fountain, nor from Sebastian urging Finian to look closer, closer, at the glittering object in the water, there, just there among the tiles, can't you see it, Finian, there, just before he kicks Finian's legs out from under him.
The howls and cries of the remaining staff are not the detached gasps of horror that accompanied the discovery of Lady Elizabeth's body three weeks prior. Bard is sick upon the grass, sits shaking as Tanaka whimpers, shrinking to half his usual deflated size. Pluto runs in frantic circles, and Meirin shrieks as if she needs someone to put her out of her misery.
Someone will. Soon. Sebastian carries Finian's waterlogged corpse to the house for laying out and does not even look to see if Ciel's eyes are on him.
Bard's death follows, a respectful interval later. Sebastian considers igniting the man in his bed, victim of a fallen cigarette, but that might put other sections of the house at risk, and burning is such a cruel death. Bard hasn't really done anything so heinous as to deserve that, even if it would be a fitting end for what he's done to dinner so often.
Bard's proximity to Ciel means there is little room for weakness, though, so, a week after Finian's interment, when Bard is still rising on sleepless nights to pace the grounds, Sebastian invites a minor ravener demon, the contemptible kind which devours blood rather than souls, to the grounds to enjoy a midnight snack. When it departs, sated, it's in Sebastian's debt, which is always useful. Bard is identifiable, but only just.
Tanaka goes next. Tanaka has been able to remain in his undiminished form for longer stretches at a time, these weeks; Sebastian assumes he is trying to work out the pattern behind the deaths or is on his guard, or both. It doesn't matter. Sebastian hasn't even decided what day it will take place when he comes upon Tanaka alone, sees the look on Tanaka's weathered face and realizes any further hesitation will gain him nothing and will only be a burden on the old butler, so he lifts his hands to Tanaka's throat and puts pressure upon his windpipe with precise thumbs, careful not to crush or leave marks. Tanaka's struggles are only token as the instinct for air takes him over, and Sebastian thinks he can read on the old man's dry lips the word Ciel.
It really won't do for Meirin to have to face this death as well. The least he can do for her is to spare her that and to make her own death kind, so, leaving Tanaka's body sprawled upon the drawing room rug, he seeks Meirin out where she huddles in her bed in the maid's quarters, hair unbrushed and glasses streaked with several weeks' worth of tears. He calls her name, carries a candle to her bedside, coaxes her to sit up, takes her hand in his so that her shivering quietens. He murmurs something soothing, kisses her on the forehead, then kisses her unresisting mouth. Then he drives his tongue through the back of her throat and severs her brainstem.
The tang of her spinal fluid still on his tongue, he wraps her hand about the hilt of a letter opener and slides the sharp end through her mouth and out the wound. No one will look that closely. It's only Meirin.
Pluto he does not need to kill. The werewolf fawns on him, not Ciel, has never shown significant fondness for anyone but Sebastian. Pluto's no rival. And yet Sebastian thinks it's a pity Ciel will have lost so much, and Sebastian nothing, so he kills Pluto after all. Just so it's fair.
Afterwards, Sebastian comes to Ciel in his study. The Earl of Phantomhive is holding the family ring cupped in his open palm.
Hand to his breast, Sebastian bows. "Young master." Ciel does not look up. Sebastian continues. "I am sorry to tell you that there is yet another unfortunate--"
"We had," Ciel cuts him off, knife-sharp, "a contract."
Sebastian lets himself smile. "Indeed, young master, we still do."
Childish lips enunciating each word, Ciel says, "My soul is promised to you. What part of that have you failed to understand?"
Another bow. "Perhaps my lord does not understand the nature of an alliance with demons."
Ciel's palm closes about the ring as if he would crush it. "Why now? You tolerated all of them for so long."
Sebastian notes he does not ask merely why. "Long enough," he answers. "I learned, young master." He does not have to say Aberlin's name.
Ciel turns his face away, does not unclench his palm. Presently he says, "I will write to Soma and Agni. I'll tell them I'm severing all contact, and ask them to respect that."
Yes, he had thought about those two. For the moment he had decided against seeking them out; Agni in particular might be a challenge. Perhaps he would not risk his existence against a god's avatar in the name of jealousy.
But if Ciel will do him this courtesy, so much the better.
"I shall see that you want for nothing, my lord."
"You always do." There is fury in it, for all that it is a whisper. Ah, such a worthy soul is his very small master.
"I shall take care of the funeral arrangements again, my lord."
"Scotland Yard--" Ciel unclenches his hand-- "will insist even harder upon installing agents in the mansion." He slips the ring back upon his thumb. "I won't even have to lie to them when they ask me why I'm not hiring replacement servants."
"And what will you tell them when they ask why you are not afraid for yourself?"
The blue eye regards him. "I won't have to lie for that either. I'll tell them if my own butler isn't fearful for my safety or his, why should I be."
Sebastian does not hide the amusement in his sigh. "There is nothing of diplomacy I can teach you, my lord."
Ciel's voice is flat. "What can you teach me, then."
Sebastian is silent a moment. Then he extends his hand. There is a smear of blood upon his glove. "Dance with me, my lord."
Ciel is quite still, holding the arms of his his chair. Then he rises, facing Sebastian, mouth set. His fingers reach, touch the bloodstained glove, allow the hand to close about his.
From a phantom gramophone, a waltz plays.