Where Feathers Fall
A week passed by without so much as an attack for Sebastian. He worked as normal through the day and most of the night; Ciel letting him have a more manageable load of work each day that allowed him a small amount of time to relax. However, he only got one evening off a week, and as that evening approached, Sebastian found himself wondering if he should go see his lover again for the night.
A week before he would have answered himself ‘no’ as his anger at the spider had been fresh, but as the week dragged on uneventfully, his anger faded into only slight irritation at the man’s words…and he did long to see him again.
He sighed and walked into the kitchen, stopping short as his shoes splashed into a puddle of water. He looked down, his eyes following the flooded floor as the maid ran around the room, her skirts soaked, the sink spraying water uncontrollably.
The butler reached out and stopped her, pulling her in closer to glare past her thick glasses, “And what happened this time?”
“I-I-I’m sorry, Mister Sebastian! I only meant to clean the dishes from lunch!” she stuttered, her face going bright red.
Taking a calming breath, he released her, “Go get the mop.”
“…Finny broke it…” she muttered in a quiet voice.
Sebastian rubbed his temple, “Go…find something to do that won’t tempt you to break anything, Mey-rin…”
“Y-Yes sir!” she hurried out.
“…Faelan.” He called, his eyes glowing as he summoned his subordinate to help him clean the kitchen. After all, two demons were faster than one. And since Ciel had ordered him early on in their contract to go through human steps in things, his chores were slowed down.
Faelan hurried to Sebastian, seeing the mess. "Mey-rin," he murmured in his light, feminine voice. As if it wasn't obvious. He had scrubbers, so they got down to scrub and dry the floor.
“Thank you…again it’s nice to have someone I can count on around here…” The crow muttered, rolling up his sleeves and stopping the flow of water at the sink before getting down on his hands and knees to start scrubbing the floor.
"That's what I'm here for, master," the youth replied, and they got to work on the floor. It was a slow process. "Oops!" he remarked when his hand accidentally brushed Sebastian's.
“…Don’t worry about it. We aren’t in Hell. You can’t be punished for something so small…” he muttered, continuing to dry the floors, reaching across to squeeze out his rag into a bucket.
"If I was in Hell," Faelan murmured, "would you punish me? Of course, I'm not worthy to touch your skin, my prince."
“…Only if it had been witnessed by those who matter and would expect it of me.” he said, “Personally I do not see the point in punishing small accidents such as this.” He continued to work in silence a moment longer, “…At least you don’t use it to tease me…” he bitterly muttered in a whisper.
"I did have to touch your body in order to assist you medically, though," Faelan mentioned. "Ah, but...has Claude been tempting you? It is not his place."
“Medically doesn’t count.” He said, “And why wouldn’t it be his place?” he asked, pausing to look at his subordinate, “I owe him my existence.” And owns his heart, but he wasn’t about to mention that, “But it doesn’t matter. It seems he isn’t even interested in such things…”
The subordinate bowed his head. "It is not my place to speak of such things. The princes I have served smited those who disobeyed or failed to satisfy them."
“I’m not one for that, usually…” he said, sitting back in a dry spot against the wall, “I may have been the same as my Royal Brothers, but this illness…It changed how I could live…so it’s changed how I view things…I’m not the same as them.”
"You are more lenient," Faelan replied. "You always have been. Just a little. As such, I think Mr. Faustus believes he has the right to treat you as if you were lesser." He looked up at him.
Sebastian opened his mouth to deny it, to tell him Claude saw him as an equal, but then he remembered…Claude had wanted him to beg him for sex…their whole fight had started from that demanding condition to put out the lustful flame that the spider had lit in the crow, seemingly so purposely…maybe the spider had started seeing him as a lesser demon because of his illness, his human-like emotions, his dependency on the other…He truly had fallen far, and maybe Claude had realized that. Without realizing Faelan could see it, he lowered his gaze, looking at his hands as he squeezed the moist rag in his hands.
Faelan watched on with an emotionless expression as always. He sat close, staring at him.
"I'm not interrupting, am I?" came the voice of none other than Claude Faustus.
Sebastian looked up, blinking in surprise, why was Claude here? “Of course not.” He muttered, pushing himself to his feet, dropping his rag onto the edge of the bucket, “Forgive the mess, our maid somehow broke the pipe in the sink. Stepping over a remaining puddle, he approached the spider, “Why are you here?”
"Oh, no doubt but to make you feel like a lesser creature, as dear helpful Faelan is kindly advising you," Claude remarked coolly.
Just how log had Claude been there without either he or his subordinate noticing? “…Faelan, leave us.” He commanded in a stern tone, looking out the corner of his eye at the young demon, “We’ll finish cleaning Mey-rin’s mess in a bit.”
"Faelan can stay," Claude replied. "You two were obviously having a good time. It appears I was interrupting." He gave a nod of farewell and backed off.
“The only thing you interrupted was unexpected work. He follows my orders not yours. You obviously came here for a reason, so tell me.”
"Is that an order to me?" Claude questioned calmly, looking at Sebastian with a blank, cool expression.
“…A request.” He said, meeting his gaze as he heard the kitchen door close.
"I thought, given the extra time you say you have, that you'd be around at least once. I.." He looked down at the chilli chocolate cupcake he'd prepared. He thought Sebastian might like it because it was not all that sweet. "But I see you're busy having heart-to-hearts."
“I was going to come by this evening. I only get one full night off a week, Claude… as for that conversation…Faelan knows a lot about me, but not everything…when the topic changed to you…he didn’t know what he was talking about because he doesn’t know anything more than the fact you are helping me with my illness. And as he frankly does not need to know more than that…I wasn’t going to correct him.”
"No. I saw the look in your eyes," Claude returned. "I know your faces." He placed the cupcake down on the bench, looking hurt.
“What face?” he asked, and then sighed taking Claude’s hand, “…Do you want me to tell him I have human emotions? That I’ve fallen for you? It really is none of his business, but…”
Claude turned away from him. "No, I saw your face! You believe every damn word he says," he growled.
“No! I don’t, I just…our last evening together hadn’t ended well…” he said, moving closer, tightening his grip on his arm slightly.
Claude felt the hand gripping him, and he whipped around, striking his cheek. His anger faded again to the expression of hurt. He'd seen it...heard the young demon convincing Sebastian that Claude only wanted him to feel awful, and Sebastian believed it.
Sebastian gasped and released Claude’s arm to reach up, cradling his throbbing red cheek before turning back to look up at the other with a confused look, “…Claude…” The other demon, for once, looked openly upset, and his eyes glistened behind his glasses before he turned away from him.
“Claude…please, just…tell me what’s wrong…” he slipped in front of Claude again, looking up at him and gently holding his shoulders, “I’ll…I’ll tell Faelan to finish this and take care of everything for the rest of the day. Please, tell me what’s bothering you.”
There was a slight tear forming in the demon's eye, and the spider noticed it in surprise. He realized he really was hurt by what he'd seen. "....Nothing...drop it..."
“No.” he said firmly, sliding one hand up to cup his cheek, his thumb brushing aside the tears, “Cimeries…we are lovers…what kind of lovers could we be if we can’t talk to one another?”
"You have other confidantes," he said in a thick voice the likes of which he hadn't heard in years. "You're letting him poison your thoughts of me."
“No…never, I wouldn’t let that happen…I love you…” he said, ending with the three words still foreign to his tongue, but came from his heart.
Claude trembled a little, then managed to master himself. He stared down at Sebastian.
"I...bought…you a cupcake.."
The crow relaxed slightly, “You…did?” he asked, confused, he had seen the small cake, but he had assumed Claude had it for himself as he did like sweets once in a wile. He looked over at the gift.
"Stupid idea," he muttered. "It's chilli chocolate, but...still not your thing, huh?" He looked away.
“No, I’ll try it.” He said in a gentle voice, reaching over to pick up the gift.
The demon shrugged a little. "Suit yourself....but I have warned you." In truth, he was glad Sebastian wanted to at least try it.
Sebastian peeled back the paper of the small cake and bit into it, chewing it slowly and surprised it didn’t make his stomach churn. He was actually able to enjoy the settle flavors making up the cupcake. He swallowed and gave a small smile, “It’s good.” his smile widened a bit more.
"I am glad," Claude replied calmly. "...Well. That concludes my reasons for visiting. I shall depart now and allow you to return to your...duties."
Sebastian nodded, “I’ll see you later this evening.”
"Why?" Claude asked quickly. This evening, he had intended to be alone and, admittedly, just brood in the music room.
“It…it’s my night off…I thought…that you would want to spend time together as much as we can…” he muttered, lowering the half-eaten cupcake as he raised his gaze to the golden eyes.
"After our last departure? Not especially," Claude replied. "After this encounter? ...Still…not really."
“…Oh…” he muttered, breaking their gaze and backing away from him.
Claude looked on blankly as Sebastian backed away, just as he expected. "Farewell, Michaelis."
‘Michaelis’, so it really was back to his last name…such a small thing but, it still made his heart sink. “A-all right…” he muttered, looking away to hide the tears that threatened to make themselves known.
There was no point standing around now. Claude ported back to his own manor. In truth...he had hoped to make things okay again with Sebastian. They were immortal beings...they shouldn't be cold-shouldering. But instead he'd found him with him. He grit his teeth and gave a short cry of frustration, and the windows shattered. His fists clenched and he stood there for a minute, breathing hard through his nose.
Sebastian finally let the tears free setting the cake aside gently before violently grabbing a pan and throwing it across the room, breaking a shelf and sending tins of spices and pots clattering to the floor before he sank to the wet floor himself, hugging his knees to his chest.
After a few silent minuets ticked by, the crow slowly pushed himself up and whipped his face before looking at the mess he and Mey-rin had made. Having no tolerance for it, he used his inhuman speed to clean everything up before slipping on his tailcoat again, looking down at the cupcake he had been given. A lonely look crossed his face as he picked it back up and finished it. Sebastian then left the kitchen, grabbing a slice of cake from the table as he left, turning to go up to the Library where Ciel had been working on his studies.
With the treat balanced on his fingertips, he knocked on the door before entering, “Your cake, My Lord.” He said, smoothly setting it down on the table along with a fork.
Ciel barely looked up at him. Wasn't this supposed to be Sebastian's evening off, and yet he was still here? The thought suddenly occurred, and he raised his eyes to meet Sebastian's. It was then he noticed a hand-shaped mark on his butler's handsome cheekbone, and a purple bruise forming just underneath.
He caught his butler's arm just before he left.
Sebastian blinked, looking down at the young Earl, “Was there something else?” he asked, obviously oblivious to the bruise on his cheek. He knew he had been slapped, but the pink tinge would have faded quickly just as it did every time Ciel got upset with him and slapped him. He had put the incident from his mind and forgotten it.
Ciel frowned deeply, gently releasing Sebastian's arm. "Who has struck you?" he asked in a quiet, dark tone. Sebastian was his butler. Nobody else had the right to touch him, not even to hit him.
Crimson eyes widened and his hand shot up to his cheek, gloved fingers pressing lightly over the tender flesh and causing a dull throb of pain. “It…is nothing. You needn’t worry about it, My Lord.”
"It is obviously someone of power if it has caused you to bruise, Sebastian." Ciel stood up, giving himself a little more height. "Who has struck you?" he repeated.
“…Let it go, sir.” He muttered, “He’s the one helping to hold my illness at bay longer so that I may serve you.” He couldn’t lie, he had been ordered not to, after all. But he couldn’t revel that Claude was still alive either. So, admitting more to his weakness was the only way to answer his master.
Ciel narrowed his eye, staring hard at the man. "'Let it go'?" he echoed. But if his butler's words were true... "...Oh, Sebastian."
“Yes?” the demon asked, rubbing his cheek as if it would smooth away the dark bruise setting into his pale skin.
Ciel slammed his hand down on the table. "Don't 'yes' me, demon! Show some damn pride, you mewling, simpering—" He grit his teeth, breathing heavily. "I don't want to lose my respect for you, Sebastian. Are you accustomed to letting others beat you around this way? I must have formed the wrong opinion of you."
“I endure only what I must, sir. There are very few who could lay a hand on my person and not be punished for it. And as he is helping, I am lenient towards him. This…was an accident.”
Ciel stared at him. "...Very well. Go and get that covered up," he remarked, looking down at his stinging hand before sitting back in his chair.
The butler nodded and gave a small bow before leaving the room, hurrying to his own bedroom to survey the damage and hide it.
Ciel sighed. He didn't like the thought of someone smacking his butler around, not one bit. Sebastian seemed the epitome of strength, as if nothing could get to him...and now, Ciel was seeing that his flawless butler was not invulnerable. He could become weak, helpless, even....there were people stronger than him. He hated the thought. It could even be said he cared for his butler’s wellbeing. He just wished he would get better.