Fandom Kuroshitsuji (Black Butler)
Rating: PG-13 for implied naughtiness.
Word count: 875
Warnings: Anime-compliant. Spoilers for the whole series.
A/N: Written for kuroshi_contest's Week One Challenge. The theme was sugar.
From Jack the Ripper, he almost learns enough. From Lord Barrymore, then, he does learn.
There is always something more. Nothing is ever solved.
When the floor of the abandoned mansion that houses Drocell and his puppets illumines a sickeningly familiar sigil at him, Ciel knows there is no conclusion to be had under this roof. Not when Drocell lies in a sawdust heap at their feet, not when the bizarre little homunculus flees in defeat, not when Lizzy is carried safely from the mansion in Sebastian's capable arms. It is time for them to retreat home, but that is not a conclusion.
Lay a trail of sugar upon a floor, and ants will follow that trail all the way to its source.
For a time, the sensation in Sebastian's crafted fingertips is enough. Even through gloves, those remarkable, discerning instruments of perception whisper over the Earl's flesh, dressing him, positioning him in command of a violin, pulling him into the embrace of a clumsy waltz, attending him in the bath (ungloved--oh, almost unbearably delicious). If he must wait to feast upon the Earl's soul, then for a time he will have these compensatory tidbits.
Until the novelty of having fingertips becomes less fresh. Until other parts of his human form begin to speak their appetites.
One grain of sugar leads to the next. And the next.
The cult lies dead or scattered. No other families will fall prey to their horrors, dead or branded or sewn together in an animated sacrilege of flesh.
This is what Ciel wanted. All Ciel wanted. He turns to Sebastian, prepared to pay his debt.
And when he is declined by the demon, he chastises himself for being surprised. Hasn't he learned yet? Always something behind the something behind.
Sebastian, he thinks, might even be giving him a chance. A warning. Let the mystery lie, unresolved, and earn himself--what, ten more years? Twenty? A lifetime?
Ciel thinks of Angela, and the Doomsday Book, and of a queen whose face none have seen since her consort's death.
Another step down that trail of temptation. And another.
The slap is what breaks him.
The crack of the young master's hand upon his cheek blooms a pain as exquisite as any caress. Sebastian's first instinct is to savor it, which is fortunate, for he is able to suppress his second instinct, which would be to fall upon the young Earl and take him right there upon the grass.
Suppress it he does. He waits until that night so that the Earl, washed and abed and bonelessly exhausted, has no possible defenses when his butler seizes a wrist, pinning the hand that dealt the slap, and murmurs, "Now, young master, there is the matter of an injury for which I feel you must compensate me." He brings his face close, delighting in the shine of the Earl's starkly wide, mismatched eyes, and presents the wounded cheek. "Lips or tongue will do, to begin with."
The Earl hisses, but he does not dare, or it does not occur to him, to bite. Soon Sebastian has won the reward of a defiant, but thorough, lick upon his cheek.
Sebastian decides it is not sufficient. He begins to undo the Earl's nightshirt, his eagerness, and the Earl's agitation, growing as each pearl button slips free, in a neat line like sugar crystals leading to the cache.
Eyes shut, he clings one-handed to the bridge and hears Angela/Ash's death screams. Mankind was never meant to witness the death of an angel. Would he have wanted to watch, had Sebastian not asked this favor of him?
Loose feathers brush his face, his hair, his clinging fingers as they skate past him on the wind. With his eyes shut he cannot tell their color.
"Ten," Sebastian resonates above him, and Ciel opens his eyes.
No wind, no noise, no inhuman demon shape looming in silhouette--only Sebastian, and his smile. It is over.
But it is never over; Ciel has learned it well. Was it only Ash, fallen and feral, who set these actions in motion? Haven't all Ciel's lessons taught him that there is always another hand at work behind the last? Whose hand, then, would be behind a fallen angel's? Lucifer's? God's?
It is too much.
He cannot stay Sebastian's contract, cannot delay it again to discover what set Ash in motion. Some things mortals must not witness. There is no more following of the sugar trail for him: Ciel is glutted.
He smiles back, and lets go.
In the end, his master, whose flesh he has treated himself to nearly nightly since that slap--picnicked and supped upon in small sustaining quantities--gives him the pièce de résistance, the center of the banquet that mere flesh can only pretend to imitate. The jewel of Ciel's soul is laid bare, shining, open. Ripe.
As it follows the sugar trail, the ant never knows how great the treasure it will find at the end. Sebastian is almost afraid of what it will feel like to be sated at last.
For the rest of eternity, when asked of the souls he has taken, Sebastian's memory of Ciel's is plainly described: sweet.