Where Feathers Fall
It didn’t take Claude long to regain his full strength and start in on his search with Undertaker to find Sebastian’s cure. However, a lot of the research and Undertaker’s crazy experiments to find the cure took a lot of the demon’s power, and so he found he couldn’t unlock Elijah and Sebastian’s powers at the same time. Upon discovering this; Sebastian insisted upon Elijah being unlocked first so he could learn and train properly once more as he grew up so quickly.
A little more than a month had passed since the reaper had started helping in the search for the cure, and Undertaker was insistent on saying they had made progress, though how much; Sebastian didn’t know. He left it to Claude, focusing his attention on keeping Elijah’s studies at a steady pace.
Sebastian sat in the Undertaker’s shop with Elijah, a fair distance away from his lover and the shop owner, teaching Elijah a new song on the violin, the nearly perfect tune filling the shop.
The slightly off-key notes barely bothered the spider demon. He wasn't one to count his chickens before they hatched, but he was sure he had what he needed to cure dear Sebastian, had even prepared all the ingredients, apart from one. He'd come across its name in his studies, and was certain it was what he needed, yet he had never heard of it before, or how he could find it. Claude had a vast range of knowledge about herbs, plants, and flora in general, but this was unknown to him. That day, he came, intending to ask the Undertaker, in case he knew. Sebastian wasn't aware of his progress yet—he didn't want to unnecessarily get his hopes up.
"So, I'm certain this is everything I need," Claude told the Undertaker. "I've run tests. Developed a strain of Sebastian's disease, injected it into rodents. They fell ill with it, and most of them seem to completely recover, until one day, they just drop dead." He looked up at the mortician. "I'm missing something. This one plant; Snowburst. Ever heard of it? I think it’s the key."
“Snowburst? Ah~ that would make sense. Yes…” The reaper muttered to himself walking over to his book shelf and looking over the title-less spines. “AH! There you are.” He pulled a thin, warn book from it’s place and blew the dust off it, flipping it open and finding the page he was looking for. “Here it is, my dear. Incredibly rare. It hasn’t been seen for centuries, and is thought to have died out. They grew in only one place in the world.” He giggled, “Conditions must be perfect for them, after all. They die so easily.”
Claude frowned. "...Well, that's okay... a portal is well within capabilities..." He checked back to his own book—it stated, exactly, that it needed the juice from the Snowburst plant's fruit. Said juice had to be mixed with the blood of the affected—easy enough—, and it would cause a chemical reaction to make the ingredient necessary. But it had to be done exactly on the first hour of the winter equinox, under the light of a full moon. Again…not terribly difficult. The equinox was only a month away, "...Where do I find it?"
“I’m afraid you don’t, my dear. I said it’s thought to be extinct for a reason. Humans found their way to the location they once grew and poisoned the conditions. They won’t grow anymore.” He said, “However, if we have the time, we could recreate those conditions here in the shop…” he got up again and found an old box, “You see, long ago, I used the very plant for a different reason that shall remain privet. And I still have it’s seeds. Luckily the seeds are lasting, unlike the plants.”
He pulled out a single seed from the box, holding it up, “It’s the only one I have. So we’ll only get one chance at it. They can only grow when in contact with the power of heaven, hell, and death. Hell, no problem. You supply that. Death, again, you have me. Heaven, on the other hand…we’ll need some angel feathers…”
Claude scowled, his aura prickling. "And where, pray tell, shall I simply grab an angel and pluck its feather?" he asked, glancing over at Sebastian and his son playing together. "It couldn't be simple, could it?" he grumbled.
“Pluck a fluff-ball. It’s always a fun little activity. Or you could go murder one of my pillows. Angel feathers make the best stuffing.” He cackled, grabbing a empty jar, “We’ll use the feathers as dirt.”
Claude rubbed his forehead. "Be blunt with me. How will I get an angel's feathers?" The cure was within their fingertips now, he was rife with impatience now.
“I wasn’t joking, my dear. Either go out and pluck some off an angel, or go into my privet rooms and cut open one of my pillows.”
Claude frowned. He was being serious? "...Good grief." He got to his feet, walking past his partner and son to a room that looked like it could be a bedroom, and tentatively swung the door open.
“Do be careful not to disturb the closed casket in there! You never know if something might bite.” Undertaker called out after him as he cleaned the jar to be used as a pot.
Claude shook his head, and entered the dark room to find himself a pillow. "Oh!" he murmured as a large spider scuttled down onto his shoulder. "Good day to you...Over here, you say? Thank you kindly."
“Well, it’s about time~ I was abou—You aren’t my Unnie!” A flamboyant voice cut through the silence of the back room. Grell sat up on the bed, scowling at the demon. Not knowing where Sebastian had disappeared to, and knowing that William was in a relationship, the redhead had focused his attentions on Undertaker, and had snuck into the back room to wait for the silver reaper. “What are you doing here? You’re that rude demon with the spiders, aren’t you? Do you realize how long it took me to regenerate from the damages done to me?”
"Oh, lord, how vile," Claude commented impassively, taking a step back, then two forward. "Hand the pillow over and you get to live. You can understand that, now can't you?" He gathered a few spiders about him, just in case.
“Don’t be rude! You don’t even belong here! This is Unnie’s privet rooms.” He grabbed a pillow, “Why would you want this anyway?” he asked dangling it in front of the spider’s face, “You aren’t planning to stay the night, are you? Because I have plans!”
Claude stared down his sharp nose at the loud and uncouth redhead. "He invited me," he teased. "Now give me the damn pillow, or I'll break your neck, and that might just a damper on tonight's plans, now wouldn't it?"
“Why would Unnie invite you?” he asked, standing up and shoving the pillow against the spider’s chest. “You aren’t anything special.”
Claude smirked, taking the pillow and lowering it to his side. "And you are a filthy little slut who cannot win anybody's affections for long. Good day." He strode from the room, closing the door behind him as he left.
“How dare you!” Grell ran after the demon, throwing open the door, “I have you know that I—“ he froze, his eyes catching sight of Sebastian. “Ah~ Sebas-chan, my love~ It’s been so long! Embrace me~” he flung himself at the crow.
A cold shiver along his back had warned him before he heard the reaper’s voice, and Sebastian quickly stepped to the side, allowing the redhead to crash into an empty coffin. “Don’t refer to me in such a way, Sutcliff. It’s disgusting.”
"It has one minute to get out of here before I make powder from its bones," Claude said in a much more irritated tone when Grell had so typically—and embarrassingly—flung himself at his lover.
Elijah perked up.
"Is that a reaper, too, Father?" chirped Elijah. "Can I help kill him?"
“I hardly classify it as one.” Sebastian said, “But yes.”
“Ah~ You are as cold as ever, Sebby, darling. Come now, the brat is dead. We can finally be together.” Grell pouted, pushing himself up and wiggling over to the crow who held out a hand to stop him.
“You are right. I don’t have a master right now. Therefore I don’t have to stand here and let you hang off me as you dream up impossible scenarios.” He turned an angry red glare on Grell, “If you touch me I’ll let my son commit his first kill early.”
“Son?” Grell pulled back and turned his attention to the boy, “Not fair, Sebby! I offered to carry your child! Where’s the bitch who stole you from me and gave birth to your kid?” he demanded, “She just got her name on my list!”
Claude almost had to sit down and ponder how a man could honestly be so blatantly ignorant. Was it stupidity? He stroked Elijah's shoulder, who was boasting a healthy bloodlust aura and a cute little grin to go with it. "Neither of my fathers like this man. So I can kill him, right? Please?"
"The one who gave birth to this child, well...we could deliberate if that person was a bitch or not, but...you are certainly no woman, are you, Sebastian?" Claude asked.
“Despite the small collection of women’s clothing you have hanging up in my half of the wardrobe at home, no, I am most certainly not a woman. And you of all people should know that very well, Love.” He walked over to his family, slipping his arm around Claude’s waist and resting his other hand on Elijah’s shoulder, “Give it up, Sutcliff, and please leave. You are interrupting Claude’s important business with Undertaker, as well as our son’s music lesson.”
Grell’s gaze snapped between the three demons, “You can’t be serious! You go for spider-boy over there? He’s horrid! And…” he trailed off, looking at Claude, his eyes narrowing, “Hadn’t you said you needed those souls to save your lover? My Sebby-darling was contracted! He was fine! Are you cheating on him?”
“Our personal issues are none of your concern.” Sebastian snapped.
Elijah licked his lips a little. Claude shot out a burst of web and caught Grell around the neck.
"I'm tired of his voice."
"Me too," said Elijah, taking a few steps forward. "M-maybe I'll...take out his vocal chords?"
Grell took a step back, “You aren’t cute at all, brat! Sebby! Control your little imp!”
“He’s not an imp!” Sebastian growled.
Now, now~” The Undertaker giggled, stepping between the redhead and the family of demons, “My dear Miss Sutcliff, I did tell you I would be quite busy with some customers who paid in advance. Why don’t you go shopping or get me some lovely bodies to lay to rest, hmm?”
“I’ll be sure to be ready for your visit later, my dear. Until then, kindly find some other way of entertaining yourself, rather than angering this dear family of irritable demons.”
Claude slowly released the web's hold on him. "...Very well. If I see you again, I'll take off all that garish hair of yours. Shinigami hair is useful in magic, you know."
Elijah narrowed his eyes. "...." His fingers twitched a little at his sides. He wanted to...feast on something.
Grell huffed, brushing some stray web from his clothes, “Sebby, your lover has absolutely no taste what-so-ever. And he’s quite boorish. You could do so much better!”
“Not with you, I couldn’t.” the crow said in a bored voice, “And I quite agree with him.”
“There, you see? Isn’t getting along much better?” the retired reaper giggled.
“Humph!” Grell turned on his heels and left the shop, slamming the door closed.
Undertaker shook his head, “My, my, that spout of anger even lacked his usual passion…I don’t think he’ll be going on a killing spree for me after that…” he hummed to himself and took the pillow from Claude, cutting it open to grab the glistening white feathers that lay within it.
Claude went to Sebastian's side almost a little possessively, resting a hand on his lip and licking at his neck. "You'd never consider bedding something like him, would you?" he muttered in a low voice, breathing in his delicious scent.
Elijah sat down in his chair, looking lost, his fingers curling in his lap. He had been so keen to murder something...drink its blood…That bloodlust was still there, visible in an aura he didn't know how to hide yet.
“Of course not. Not even an order from a master could make me bed something like that. Luckily, Sutcliff seems easily distracted by something as simple as a smile or wink, and he’s so easily evaded when he gets clingy. Though I do wish Spears hadn’t stopped me from killing him after he was discovered to be half of ‘Jack the Ripper’.” He turned, pressing his lips to Claude’s cheek, “With any luck, his knowing that I am yours will keep him away from now on.”
“I haven’t a doubt~” Undertaker said, stuffing feathers into a jar, “Ever since he caught his dear William bending young Mister Knox over his desk, he hasn’t bothered either of them in such ways.”
“Good. Then we shouldn’t have a problem.” Sebastian said, eyeing the feathers, “Are you two using angel feathers in attempting to cure me? It seems to me that would do more harm than good…” He moved around, squeezing Claude’s rear as he passed behind him and sat down next to Elijah, placing a hand on the boy’s shoulder.
The image made Claude chuckle a little, and he gave his partner a light slap on the backside in response. "Ah, yes. It will be necessary in the process of curing you, love. Just leave it to me, I'll get it all figured out." Claude turned back to the Undertaker.
Elijah looked up at his father with glowing eyes. "...Daddy, I-I'm hungry," he whispered, still curling his fingers. His fangs had extended a little, too.
Sebastian frowned. Elijah was still too young to be having cravings this strong…but, he had had his powers locked for a time, and then unlocked again. Maybe such things messed with a demon’s appetite. There was no denying the type of hunger the boy was having, either. Even with his own powers still locked away, he could feel the hunger and bloodlust. He sighed and kissed the boy’s forehead, “Alright. We can continue your lessons later.” He glanced up at Claude and Undertaker who were back at work with whatever it was they were doing with a jar of angel feathers. “I’m going to take Elijah out for a bit.”
Claude didn't look up. "Okay. Be careful." When it was just him and the mortician, he adjusted his glasses, concentrated. "So, what was it you were saying? I needed to take these feathers...so I could grow the plant?"
“Hmm? Oh, yes!” the reaper giggled, “It’s simple enough…” he took the small seed and pushed it down into the feathers, “The feathers will act as the soil, the power I’ll inject into it daily will be it’s sunlight, and the power you will inject into it will be it’s rain. It’ll absorb the magic from each of these things and use it to grow. The problem is only that it takes a long time to mature into an adult plant.”
Why can't it just grow like a normal plant, Claude wondered irritably. And it would require his power everyday? Say goodbye, getting Sebastian's powers back soon. "That's fine. How long? 4 months?" he asked. 6 at most, hopefully.
“Sadly, no. It takes two years of care to get this little guy mature enough to harvest. And that is with constant feedings of death, heaven, and hell.”
"Good grief," Claude uttered for the second time that day. "Two bloody years? Truly? There is nothing one could do to speed this up a bit?"
“To let it grow naturally, it’d take nearly five years. We are already speeding it up by making sure it’ll get what it needs every day. I’ll refresh it’s angel feathers as needed.” He pressed his fingertips into the feathers, his reaper eyes glowing a gold color under his bangs as he forced his power into the seed directly.
Claude looked disheartened by this, but if it was truly the cure, then...it was worth the time, yes?
"...I understand," he replied defeatedly, reaching out for his turn. "....How much power of mine will it require?"
“You’ll know when it’s done.” He said, withdrawing his hand, “It feels like it suckles the power out of you. When it stops, it’s done feeding. It’ll take only what it needs at the time. Some days it’ll be more, others less.”
"Then....the blood bond...It won't siphon Sebastian's power, will it?" Claude asked cautiously, just in case. He put his hand into the pot, touching the seed, and immediately feeling a little pull too. It was definitely draining his power, like a hole in a bag of wine...slowly leaking away. He didn't like the sensation at all.
“His powers are still locked away, am I right? They’d be untouchable by the bond you two made, as well as this little seed. What it takes, it will only take from you.” The reaper reassured the demon, “You may want to keep your adorable little boy away from it though. I’m unsure if a child demon could handle a drain, even if accidental.”
Claude nodded. After a few minutes, the sensation stopped. He looked down, drawing his hand back when it was done. "...I...have a question," he said quietly. "If this cure works...do you think..." He glanced around to see if anyone was around. "Do you imagine it would work for a shinigami?"
“I don’t see why not.” The reaper shrugged and grinned, “Why do you think I myself had once been looking into such a subject, and then so eagerly jumped up to help you with your request? When you leave here, I go over our notes and have been seeing if it would work with Thorns as it does with Fames.”
"I would have one man notified immediately if that is the case," Claude said quietly. "...His name is Eric Slingby. I...would have some of this cure prepared for the one he knows who needs it. He showed me mercy once...and I owe him to repay the debt."
The reaper nodded, “Very well. Once we have the cure, I shall send word to Mister Slingby. From what I know of him, it’d not be best to contact him sooner…he’s an impatient man.”
"I anticipated as much," Claude said with a nod. "But keep my words in mind." He stood up. "Is there anything else I should know before beginning this two year wait?"
“I don’t believe so.” He shook his head, “I’m sure I needn’t remind you to keep your crow alive while we wait.”
"That's all fine and fucking dandy," Claude replied with a scowl, "unless the disease takes him whilst we wait for the damn plant to grow."
Undertaker sighed and turned to the spider demon, placing his hands on either of his shoulders in a comforting manor, “You have kept him alive this long. You have somehow changed his fate. You know, demon’s names do turn up on the to-die list once in a while…though reapers don’t care enough to collect those souls. I just happen to know that your dear Sebastian’s name turned up on the supernatural to-die list months before you brought in the body of Ciel Phantomhive to me to fit for a coffin. And yet, here he is alive and looking as healthy as ever.”
"No reaper is going to touch him, then," Claude whispered, looking at the spidery fingers with the long black nails touching on his shoulder. "I'll be in tomorrow." He turned away from him, gathering his things into a leather pack and exiting the shop. Sebastian was due to die months before, but no one cared to take his soul? He could have gone so easily, perhaps in the night, perhaps during an attack...
Claude walked a little ways along, and then leaned against the wall. He brushed sullenly at brimming eyes. When had that happened?
Please, God...do not take Sebastian in such a way...please.