Where Feathers Fall
The next morning, Sebastian got up early and snuck down to the kitchen, spending an hour preparing a small breakfast for his lover before setting it on a trey, carrying it back up to the room and setting it on the side table. He then slipped back into bed and pressed up against him, nibbling gently along the ridge of his ear. The motion roused Claude from sleep and a pleasurable shudder ran through his body. "Mmnn..." A little smile spread across his lips. He'd slept deep and contentedly that night, feeling well rested.
“Good morning.” The crow’s gentle voice purred into his ear, “Sleep well?” he continued to nip at his ear.
Claude's eyes opened and he reached for Sebastian's hand, casually sliding it under the blankets to his groin. "You tell me, Mr. Michaelis."
“My, I hope that’s my fault.” He chuckled, running his fingertips along the spider’s morning wood, “Though we may have to take care of it before we leave.”
"One might think you're just a little bit eager to get in my pants," the spider teased lightly, shifting up into a sitting position. "Of course....one would not have any complaints, either..."
“Well, it is easy when you aren’t even wearing your pants.” He chuckled, kissing along his neck, “Hmm, I’ve also made you some breakfast.”
Claude cast his eyes over to the tray. "And what lovely meal have I had the pleasure to be graced with today?" he asked, reaching for his glasses and not bothering to move his hair out of his face.
Sebastian leaned forward, pressing up against his lover’s back as he pulled the tray onto the bed and removed the lid, “This morning I made golden egg with ham crepes with a side of cinnamon briskets and a nice Irish Breakfast tea.” The meal was laid out expertly, with two cups of tea awaiting to be enjoyed by the demons.
Claude eyed it. "...My, my...I hope you did not go to too much trouble." He reached for his fork. "But I see no flaws. Top-quality work."
The corners of Sebastian’s lips twitched upwards and he sat up, taking his own tea and sipping it, “Hardly. I enjoy cooking. Especially when I have someone who appreciates it and can enjoy the flavors. However, I do prefer your tea over mine.”
"I'll be glad to make you lots and lots of it~" he mused as he began to eat. He was keener to tease than to have to think about the upcoming events of the day. He might as well enjoy the good moments while they lasted.
“I look forward to it.” Sebastian smiled, sipping more tea and leaning against the other’s shoulder, “As well as spending more time with you.”
Claude was silent for a moment. He often thought of sweet things to say Sebastian, but held himself back a bit of the time because being so affectionate didn't seem within his personality. But in the end he decided to speak. "...And I with you. After all....you're much more than a simple lover. You have become my closest friend, too."
Sebastian’s smile widened, his gaze softening as he watched his lover, waiting for his fork to be lowered before leaning in to press a soft kiss to his lips, tasting the crapes as he did so.
"Do you think I'll come out alright?" Claude murmured, closing his eyes as Sebastian's warm lips pressed against his own. "Do you think I will get better?"
“…I do…” he whispered, “I truly do. You are strong, and if anyone can, it’s you.” He kissed him a few more times before pulling back, rubbing his thumb across Claude’s cheek.
"Of course I can," he replied immediately. "I won't succumb, Sebastian. I can't be weak, you know." There was a faint light in his eyes that was determination. "'n you know...I'll come home tonight, and I'll show you just how strong I am," he purred.
“And I’ll be waiting. Even if I can’t be in there with you, I’ll be waiting for you to come out from your treatment.” The crow demon glanced up at the clock and then back at Claude, “I’ll go find us something to wear.” He slipped out of bed again and walked over to look through the wardrobe.
Claude ate breakfast, shamelessly watching his bare lover going to find them clothes. "It's a date then," he murmured. "At least I have that to look forward to, yes? I have to reaffirm my dignity, you see."
“Of course, and quite understood.” Sebastian nodded, folding a pair of pants and a shirt over the crook of his arm as he gathered articles of clothing that would look good together. “I won’t let your pride fall victim to this.”
"Neither shall I," Claude said dryly. Once he'd finished, he took the clothes Sebastian had put together for him and took himself into the washroom. He intended to relieve himself nice and early in hopes to avoid that nasty little side-effect of seizures known as incontinence. He returned refreshed and well-dressed, and overall quite calm at this point about the upcoming shock therapy.
Wile Claude was in the washroom, Sebastian found himself one of the many outfits in his size Claude had made, and slipped into it, taking a moment to admire the spider’s skill in sewing and design. He smiled and turned from the full-length mirror when Claude rejoined him, “Are you ready?”
The taller demon gave him a once over, smirking faintly. "My, now that does fit nicely, doesn't it..." His fingers slid over the man's taut backside and his eyes flashed. "...yes. I do suppose I'm ready, now. We may depart, if you know where you're going."
“Of course. He’s told me where he was staying wile here in England.” Sebastian nodded, flashing him a smile and offering him his arm, “With any luck, he can cure you before he leaves the country.”
"Then take me," Claude replied, taking hold of the man's arm keenly. "And let's just get this stupid thing over with, shall we?"
The smaller demon nodded with an encouraging smile and lead Claude out of the mansion. Having them travel by foot, which was faster, to where the Doctor had said he would be staying. He approached the door and knocked on it firmly, hoping the man would be in, rather than out doing something.
The door swung open of its own volition, clearly inviting the two of them into the dwelling. The doctor, swathed in robes as usual, sat at a shrine of some description. Claude stared at him silently, and the doctor didn't say anything for several minutes, probably immersed in some form of meditation.
"Welcome," he said eventually.
“I’m sorry to have bothered you if you were busy during this time.” Sebastian greeted with a nod. “I had forgotten your meditation rituals sometimes start in the early morning.”
"We had an appointment," the man replied calmly. He finally turned to look at them, brushing hair out of his face and getting to his feet rather elegantly.
Claude just stared.
"Mr....Faustus. You have been...very useful to...dear Mr. Michaelis the last few months, have you not?"
The spider demon nodded. "That is the case."
Sebastian glanced at Claude, barely able to hold back a blush from staining his cheeks. Claude had been, in fact, more than simply ‘useful’ to him. He had been his reason for not simply giving up and letting his illness take him into the afterlife. His reason for not soiling his pride further by drinking the blood of insignificant humans just to keep his attacks at bay. “He’s agreed…to the treatment you have recommended for his condition.”
"Yes," said the doctor, eyeing the marks on Sebastian's face and neck. "....I could foresee it would come to this...one way or another. Mr. Faustus," he said as he approached, "you are of great assistance to Prince Malphas. Therefore, I am obliged to help you with your little...problem."
Sebastian adverted his eyes under the demon doctor’s gaze, fighting the urge to rub his neck. He had forgotten to take the time to cover his bruises with makeup before they left. The thought really hadn’t even occurred to him. And now he felt self-conscious about it. After the night they had spent together, and their pleasant morning, all his thoughts as to why Claude had agreed to the treatment had escaped his mind. True, his body was quite a bit sorer than usual, but he hadn’t thought on it.
Claude didn't look happy about it at all, but he nodded. "Appreciated. If we could just get this over with," he asked hopefully.
"My, and I'd thought as one medical demon to another we could sit awhile and have tea," responded the doctor.
"Every minute I draw closer to losing the plot again at...the prince. Priorities, my good sir."
The doctor found this acceptable and gestured down a flight of stairs, to a basement.
Sebastian’s gaze moved to the stairway and then back at the doctor, “Am I permitted to stay?” he asked in as professional a tone he could manage.
"It would be wise if you remained up here," replied the doctor. "After all, it isn't pretty."
Flickers of fear went through the spider demon but not for one second did he let it show on his face.
"It will be alright, Michaelis," he added, his gaze softening just a little for the demon.
Sebastian nodded, “I’ll wait up here then.” He looked over at Claude, a small look of unease in his eye, “About how long will this take?”
Claude wanted to take Sebastian's hand and reassure him, but he supposed it wouldn't do well for the doctor to know of their relationship.
"...That depends. Half an hour, perhaps?"
Claude tch'ed irritably and nodded.
Sebastian nodded, “Very well…That’s not so bad.” He lied. The idea of waiting a half hour or more to make sure Claude was fine was too much. But he didn’t have any say in it. He turned, flashing Claude the best supportive smile he could manage as he walked over to take a seat.
Claude was escorted down the steps by the doctor, his heart beating rather quickly in his chest. He was guided to a dark room. The doctor came in and turned a surgical light on, and Claude was told to sit down in a chair.
"Each shock will last up until it causes a seizure," the Oriental man explained. "Please remove your coat and any metallic ornaments on your body.
Nothing discomforted the demon more than having his head strapped down and electrodes attached, as well as his limbs being restrained. At least, that's what he had thought until the shocks started.
"Just keep your body relaxed," murmured the doctor, but it hurt Claude a lot. The demon grit his teeth as electricity surged through his head, almost straight to his scar. He wouldn't scream. He wouldn't break. No. No! It happened after about thirty seconds when he blacked out and began to seize violently.
Sebastian watched the time tick by with tested patients, his fingers tapping his knee in a nervous, impatient tick, trying hard, yet failing at keeping his thoughts away from what was happening to his lover only a few feet below him. Waiting was becoming too much. Sebastian stood up, unable to keep still, and began to pace the length of the room. He had never understood why humans would do such things when their friends and families were in hospitals for whatever reason, but now he understood all too well. It was better than doing nothing, knowing that he couldn’t help, knowing he couldn’t be in the room with Claude…it helped ease the anxiety.
The seizer was different, though. Claude didn't go into a post-seizure sleep like usual. He slowly roused after it ended, panting, sweating. The doctor was writing a few things down.
"Is that all? C-can I go?" he asked, trembling with aftershocks.
"Oh, we've barely even gotten started!" Jinzhou gave him a few minutes to collect himself before flipping the switch and starting the shocks up again. It was torture. Absolute torture.
The screams started up on the fourth round.
Sebastian froze when the silence, that had only been broken thus-far by the ticking of the clock and the tapping of his shoes, was disrupted by a scream that was unmistakably Claude’s. The crow grimaced, squeezing his eyes and covering his ears trying to block it out. Waiting for Claude was proving to grow more difficult. And he couldn’t decide if he was in the better or worse position with waiting. Surely, this was better than watching Claude in pain…but, not being able to be down there with him, to tell him it’ll be okay…
Normally, he had no problem with hearing people’s pain, with watching it…but Claude wasn’t just anyone…he was his lover.
His greatest weakness
His greatest strength.
He could see why emotions such as love was seen as such a dishonorable weakness to have for demons…it was excruciating in times such as this. And he knew now, without a doubt, that he would sacrifice everything and anything to keep Claude safe. And yet, he wouldn’t dare give up this weakness if he had the chance. Claude gave him strength to continue on. He’d be dead without him, even if he didn’t have Fames hanging over his head, constantly trying to drag him into death.
"No more," the spider demon practically pleaded after nearly the tenth round. "No more. Stop it." Every nerve in his body was on fire, and he felt numb all over. He was covered in sweat, and was almost becoming detached from reality.
He half thought that he was in a torture device designed to fry his brain or something. He was panicking, he was scared.
"Just a few more times," the doctor said, "and that might do for today."
This didn't sit well with Claude at all. "NO!" he growled, a black aura erupting over his body. The doctor watched on calmly as Claude basically ripped himself from his bindings and staggered a few steps away. His weak legs, however, left him sinking to the floor. He held a hand out defensively. "No more," he hissed in the demon tongue.
The doctor sighed. "Very will," he said simply. "Calm down. We shall do no more, for now."
Claude leaned against a cupboard, panting. He felt a yearning need for Sebastian, despite what a pitiful state he was in. He sat there for a minute, trying to gather himself. The doctor scribbled things on his board for a little bit, then glanced over at him. "I think this will have just about fixed the problem, but you'll be required to come back for subsequent, follow-up sessions periodically for the next few months. Just to make sure." He handed Claude a glass of water, and Claude took it into shaking hands, sipping weakly. For the few minutes he'd sat there on the floor, the spiders inhabiting the basement had all crawled over to make his acquaintance. They were quite comforting.
The doctor left to inform Sebastian. Seeing the doctor leave, Claude realized he'd gone to tell Sebastian. The demon might even come down, so Claude made a good attempt to make himself look respectable. He heaved himself back to his feet, brushing his hair back off his forehead and adjusting his glasses, at least trying to have his dress shirt buttoned just in case. He felt dizzy, and rather nauseous, so he took it easy and sipped at his water some more. He hadn't come out of it too bad at all, actually.
The screaming had stopped, finally, after what felt like hours. Sebastian uncovered his ears, taking a shaky breath and tried to calm himself. “He’s fine…” he reassured himself for the hundredth time since the screams had first drifted up the stairs, “He’s fine. He’s strong…he can handle it.”
Sighing, Sebastian sat back down in the chair he had temporarily occupied before, leaning back and looking up at the ceiling. Claude’s screaming hadn’t started back up, so either, they were finished…or Claude had passed out after a seizure.
The doctor appeared and just gave Sebastian a nod, before settling back down at his shrine. Claude obviously didn't want to be touched, so he could help himself up the stairs.
Sebastian looked up at the doctor and watched him walk back over to his shrine before he stood up, and tried to walk calmly to the stairs. Claude hadn’t come up with him; so he had probably been left down below, undoubtedly weakened after such treatment. He walked halfway down the stairs before he could control himself no longer, and rushed down, looking around the dark basement room for his lover.
Claude heard Sebastian coming quickly down the steps. "Mi-cha--" His voice was hoarse from screaming. "...Michaelis..." There was a sudden rush of longing inside him and he yearned to run to him, but he restrained himself.
“Claude…” Sebastian hurried over to him once he spotted the man, with some help from his weakened voice. He wrapped his arms protectively around his lover, holding him for a moment before speaking again, pressing his hand to the spider’s cheek, “…Are you alright?”
Claude looked surprised at the rush of affection, and he stared down at him for a brief second with slightly widened eyes. Then he pushed him back against his chest and squeezed him tightly, breathing as evenly as he could. "I...I think so," he whispered into his ear.
“Good…I was worried…and you were screaming…and…” he blushed, realizing how pathetic he must sound, “…It was difficult for me up there, I can’t imagine how it was for you down here actually living all that.”
"I've had worse," the demon muttered, stepping back and rubbing his throbbing head. At least, he felt nothing but affection for his blue-blooded partner. Nothing paranoid or murderous.
"He says I should be okay now, and that is certainly worth the suffering."
“He did? He hadn’t said anything to me.” Sebastian mused, “I’m glad.” He gave a brighter smile to the demon, “Shall we get you back home and out of this dark basement?”
"Home," Claude murmured, swaying lightly. "Yes. I should very much like to return home." He examined his wrists, red from the bindings, a little bloody from where he'd ripped himself free.
Sebastian looked down at his wrists and took hold of one, bringing it to his lips and slowly running his tongue along it before giving the other the same treatment. “Then lets go.” He looked up at him with a smile, “Do you need help upstairs, or can you handle it?”
Claude shivered lightly. He made a point of adjusting his golden frames elegantly. "I can take myself up just fine," he said, and he would do it by himself, no matter what. He took to the staircase and began ascending, holding the rail as support for his shaky legs.
Sebastian nodded and followed him, taking the stairs a few steps behind him in case his legs gave out. He knew Claude was doing it for his pride, but that didn’t change the fact that he had just had electrical currents moving through his brain, forcing him into seizers.
Claude almost gave in and asked to sit down once he reached the top of the staircase. After all, being so stubborn and then fainting, or worse, vomiting, on the floor afterwards would make the shame that much worse. But it wasn't quite that bad and he was okay to continue.
"Ah, doctor," he murmured as he spotted him. "Your assistance has been appreciated. I will see you in a month for the follow-ups."
The doctor didn't answer, back in his meditation.
The crow raised an eyebrow, of course there would be follow-up treatments. Why had he thought other-wise? Suppressing a sigh, he gave his thanks to the doctor and walked to the door to let them out, “If you need a break, I could call for a cab.” He said once they were outside.
Claude wasn't keen to test his luck. "....I....wouldn't mind if we...went out for a bit. Maybe to a cafe, or…a park, even..." He recalled the way he'd snidely rebutted Sebastian's suggestions for a date while under the cruel influence of his complexes. If he was indeed better, it was time to start fixing his mistakes.
Nodding, the smaller demon offered his arm once more, “There is a park about a block away if I remember correctly.”
Claude took his arm and said nothing as they walked slowly through the streets leading to the park. He passed a shop that sold various food items overcooked in grease, and he stopped by it. "...I think I'll get something in here, Sebastian. You may wait out here if you wish." He was inexplicably quite hungry. As if being electrocuted had zapped away his full stomach.
The crow nodded, having no desire to enter the shop. Foods cooked in such a way sometimes churned his stomach, and he did not wish to make himself feel sick and risk another early attack by stepping into a shop that smelled of nothing but that. “I’ll wait here.”
The demon wandered in, and when the door closed behind him, he strolled up to the counter and quite casually asked for their restroom. He really did end up losing his stomach after that, and when he exited, white-faced and peaky, he purchased a sweet cordial drink to keep him hydrated and promptly left.
Sebastian was leaning against the lamp post directly outside the shop, waiting for Claude, seeing him come back out, he pushed himself away from the pole with his shoulder and walked over to him, “I thought you were hungry.” He noted, seeing the man carrying only a drink.
Claude gave him a little smirk. "I never said that, dear Sebastian." In actuality now that that was over with he felt a lot better, even though he'd lost his appetite. They looped arms. Sebastian was not in his customary butler attire and therefore not as recognizable as the Servant of Phantomhive, so Claude was even less concerned than usual about being seen with him in public in a manner that suggested they were more than friends.
“…Touché.” The butler chuckled, lightly leaning against his lover, ignoring the looks of disgust and shock some of the members of the crowd around them shot at them. They didn’t matter. Only Claude did. “You do seem a little pale, though.”
Claude had only a cocky smirk for those close-minded passer-byers as they strolled leisurely into the park. "I'm feeling fairly better now, actually," he stated, taking in a deep breath of the human world's clean, spring-scented air. In fact, he almost felt a little human like this. It was a foreign feeling indeed. Not pleasant, but not all that uncomfortable either. He felt rather content, actually.
“That’s good.” Sebastian smiled as they turned into the park, leading Claude down a path that was less used, and therefore, less crowded. Wildlife was easier to spot, as well, birds in the trees and small rodents running around and collecting seeds and nuts. He didn’t bat an eye when a lone crow flew down and perched on his shoulder as they walked, simply reaching up with his free hand to brush his gloved fingers along a wing.
Claude Faustus was always very amiable with animals. He smiled a little when he saw the raven, removing his glove so he could stroke the glossy feathers of the animal. He whistled lightly to it.
The bird cawed and nipped lightly at the spider’s finger in greeting, ruffling it’s feathers as it settled comfortably on Sebastian’s shoulder, seemingly enjoying the company of the two demons.
Sebastian chuckled and looked out the corner of his eye at Claude, “This is nice…spending time with you.”
Claude sat down at a bench beneath a lovely large tree. "It is," he agreed, and after sitting there for only a brief time two squirrels approached. The demon wished he had bought a snack for them. A couple of colorful finches also found interest in settling around Claude, and he kept one on his finger, sipping his drink with the other hand. "This planet...the natural world...it is certainly a masterpiece, Sebastian," he said contentedly to him.
Sebastian nodded, slowly sitting down next to him, as to not spook the small animals that had gathered around Claude, “You are good with animals.” He observed out loud, his tone holding a hint of awe. He only seemed good with certain animals, cats, ravens, and lately, because of Claude, spiders. And dogs as well, though he held no fondness for the clingy, needy animal. They reminded him of humans he’s contracted with, always needing something—attention, food, activities.... And yet, they also reminded him of himself. A loyal servant who’ll take any order. Sit, play dead, fetch…it was sickening. And what’s worse, dogs wanted to be told what to do, and then be praised for it. Sebastian only wanted freedom. He wanted to only make contracts when he needed to, at a rate that most demons had. His illness kept him chained like a dog nearly his whole immortal existence. He longed for the opportunity to be more like a cat, independent and strong. He was tired of his birdcage his fate had put him in…But then again, maybe that was why dogs seemed to like him so much? They could sense he was similar. The thought was sickening. He sighed and leaned back on the bench, looking up at the sky through the branches of the tree.
"You know," Claude murmured softly, "...Every animal in this world....has a predator. It is a complex system known as the food chain. All things in creation have predators. Why, except humans, some would say. But demons are creatures aswell, and humans are our food. We are not much above animals, as we are mere predators too. You say I am good with animals, but that may be because I do not place myself above them." He leaned over to Sebastian, nuzzling his cheek until he turned to face him, and took his lips softly.
Sebastian leaned into the kiss, severing it, “I do not put myself above them, when I can relate to them more than humans…but I tend to scare off most animals rather than attract them. Only this crow would be here if I were alone without you.”
Claude took the finch and placed it atop Sebastian's hand. "But you have a lot of anger inside you. A lot of pain. Animals can sense such things. Let it be added that I am not uncivilized, as animals may be. I have grown up in a caste, in a society, I get arrogant towards those humans, and to those of my own race, but...I do try to be humble to the animals. Humility is a virtue I practice." He reached out and licked the demon's lips, giving a contented little moan. "....Of course, I am not perfect, either."
Sebastian looked into his lover’s golden eyes, then down at the finch sitting upon his fingers, “…I wonder if I could ever let my anger go…” he whispered, surprised the little bird hadn’t abandoned him.
Claude exhaled deeply. 'I never used to be so chatty', he thought with amusement before resting a hand on Sebastian's thigh. "Perhaps. But know you're welcome to take your anger out on me any day," he muttered, watching the tiny little bird hop around on the demon's hand.
“My anger is mostly at my fate…my illness…I keep it inside because it wouldn’t be right to take it out on anyone, or anything that has nothing to do with it.” He shook his head.
Again Claude reached forward and kissed him. He trailed a gentle line of webbing along the man's defined cheeks. "Do not speak of it as if your fate is unchangeable," he muttered. "We've battled this far, have we not?"
“We have…all thanks to you.” He nodded, “And as I’ve said before…if anyone can change my fate…it’s you…you already have in more ways than I ever could have imagined.”
Claude gently brushed the animals aside once his drink was finished and picked the demon up. "Very well. I'll be the one who alters your fate," he said gently, and started on the path back home.
Sebastian gave a gentle smile and took Claude’s hand in his own as they walked, giving it a little squeeze as they walked.
"What would you like to do when we arrive home?" he questioned softly. It was true that where Claude went, animals often followed. There was a mouse following, last he checked, plus Sebastian's crow. "Will you be returning to your masters?"
“I should.” He nodded, “As I have been absent from his side for far longer than I intended when I started having that attack…” he sighed, “It shall be nice when I have fulfilled my contract with him and needn’t worry about spending too much time with you.”
Claude stopped at a fork in the road that would take them to the separate mansions.
"Soon, Michaelis," he said in a soft tone. He didn't want him to leave, though. He wanted to take comfort in his touch. That seemed improbable now, however. "Take care."
“I’ll continue to come see you when I can…as soon as I can.” He promised, reaching up to run his fingers along a lock of hair, and then pressing a light kiss to his lips, “until then…go home and rest.”
Claude's hands curled around the demon's wrists, pressing them to his chest. "I....I don't want you to go," he whispered, something hinting at desperation in his eyes.
Sebastian looked up into his lover’s eyes, searching them, “I have to go back sometime, Claude…” he whispered, “I can’t stay with you forever…not yet.”
Claude's golden eyes misted over for a moment, then he nodded firmly. "Yes. You're right." He touched his shoulder lightly. "Until next we meet, Sebastian."
“I’m sorry. I want to go back with you…I just have a contract to serve…” he apologized before pressing his lips firmly to Claude’s.
"I know. I know all about your contract," he said into the kiss, taking the time to savor it before taking a few steps back. "One might almost be inclined to find a way to end it for you," he muttered, and then he vanished.
The crow blushed and shook his head. Before they had started dating, he would have taken such a comment as a threat. But it was oddly soothing now. He turned and started down the path to his master’s estate.
Claude wondered if Sebastian thought he had simply ceased lusting for the soul of Ciel Phantomhive. Maybe he preferred not to think about it. But if a certain demon were to devour that precious, pure, white-chocolate soul...the contract would be null by default.
Was that him thinking rationally, or was he still not better? He wanted this for Sebastian's sake, though, and it had been too long. Of course, then he ran the risk of the voided contract killing the beautiful crow. And he couldn’t have that.