Where feathers Fall
Claude found he'd put Elijah’s duck on the bathroom sink when he'd taken him into the bath that morning, and he fetched it for the boy. Only after that did he finally get him to take a nap, and their day proceeded as it would any normal day when they weren't banished from Hell. The demon had a snack around six, before searching his partner out again to enquire about what they'd be doing that night.
Sebastian had changed back into pants and stoked a fire in the library, but rather than curling up with a book as he normally did, he stared into the flames. He had been careless when he built up the fire and had burned himself—actually burned himself. Fire, unless it was holy fire, never hurt a demon, but the skin on his arm had turned an angry red and blistered. Proof that they were truly forsaken by Hell. He shook the thoughts from his head and looked at Claude when he walked in, scootching over on the loveseat to make room for him.
Claude sat beside him, observing the burns instantly. He took Sebastian's arm into his own, wordlessly kissing his fingertips before running his hand slowly over the burn. The wound did not heal entirely, but the blisters faded a little. He sighed dejectedly. "We stand on the precipice, dear prince," he remarked softly. "It is time we take the leap of faith."
“Is Elijah in bed?” He asked, they would be going out to kidnap a reaper, after all—if they could find him—and he didn’t want their son to follow and get himself in harms way.
"After much protest," Claude replied. "It is still early. Call for Faelan to guard the child in our absence. Surely you have a good plan to trap a reaper who could be in one of hundreds of bars in London."
“He has a few I know he goes to often.” He nodded, “I’ve seen him a few times when I had time after putting Ciel to bed to indulge in a few luxuries.” He closed his eyes, concentrating on calling Faelan to him.
At least they had a spot to start, then, Claude thought. His thoughts were interrupted by the appearance of the polite, effeminate albino known only as Faelan.
He looked scared, and Claude knew why. No doubt he'd heard of what had happened the previous night.
"My—prince—" stuttered Faelan nervously.
Sebastian opened his eyes, feeling a little drained from such a simple thing as calling for his former servant, “Faelan…thank you for coming. I…was unsure as you no doubt have heard…” he frowned. Knowing news would have traveled faster than normal as it was unheard of that a royal demon was taken to Hell’s court, let alone banished.
The servant bit his lip. "O-of course I am still loyal to you—I have no idea how they could have—I—"
"Guard Avnas," Claude ordered the man, who squeaked at the firm tone of his voice, "Guard him, Faelan. Let no one entire our room while he sleeps, not even the triplets. Do not permit him to leave unless it's urgent, and then escort him the whole time. Do I make myself clear?"
The younger demon nodded quickly, obediently.
“Thank you.” Sebastian offered a small smile to help calm the albino, “I knew we could still rely on and trust you. We have some business to attend to that would be dangerous for him, but we didn’t want to leave him alone.”
Faelan nodded, looking between them, and he bowed deeply before scampering away.
Claude sighed, sipping the cup of tea he'd brought with him and rubbing his forehead. "Do you think you're ready to depart?"
“Yes.” He nodded, “Elijah is in good hands, and it is around the time when business at the local pubs start to take off. We just need to hope he didn’t get overtime.”
"And what approach would you suggest?" Claude asked. "He knows you, so I imagine most of the interaction will be left to me if we want to gain his trust? Now what would you suggest? Flirt, seduce, drug?"
“You probably should.” He nodded, “We should wait until he’s had a few drinks. He was quite a flirt himself from what I remember, but I don’t know if that holds up now that he’s involved with Spears. If he’s completely sober, he may reject you right off. If he’s under the influence, I know your charms and seduction skills should be enough to sway his trust. And if not, you could always slip something into his drink when he isn’t looking. I’ll stay at a distance and keep an eye on things just in case you need assistance…such as another reaper shows up or he puts up a fight once you have him outside.”
Claude had practically forgotten that Ronald would be taken at this point, he'd barely considered it a problem. "I'll try and drug him from the outset, then," the demon replied. "Damn it...if only I could still shape-shift. I was such a good shape-shifter, you know." He got up, taking Sebastian with him, and took him into his potions room. Again, another substance that didn't require magic...a drug.
“I don’t think I have ever seen you shape-shift…” he muttered, “Of course, I rather enjoy this form of yours.” He smirked, checking out Claude’s back and rear as the spider demon looked for a drug to use.
Claude swiftly got all the ingredients together and crushed them in a mortar and pestle, making a very fine powder which he wrapped in a little packet of paper. "Well, good," he remarked. "Especially since I'm currently stuck that way. It was a talent of mine though...not something every demon can do so well."
“I myself only had a few forms I could take on well. This, a crow, a cat, and of course, my true form. Other things I found it easier to use makeup and masks as disguises.” He nodded, “And my cat form took a lot of work to learn. Its not one of my natural forms.”
Claude nodded. "But of course, having no magic anymore…" he murmured, trailing away. "Anyway, let's get going. This reaper isn't going to trap himself, even if he is blonde."
“Maybe he will once exposed to your charms…I did, in a way.” Sebastian teased as they left the manor and started for London.
The crow led him to a few pubs he knew Ronald frequented, staying at each for a wile to make sure they didn’t miss him, until finally, they walked into one near the center of London and he spotted the blond at the bar, waiting for a drink to be slid over to him. Sebastian pointed him out, “Signal me if you need help, love.” He smirked before parting ways and walking over to an empty table in the far corner.
The thing was....they shouldn't harm or molest the reaper or do anything to spoil his fidelity to William Spears. It would be their key bargaining point—Ronald, completely untouched. Well...close enough, anyway, Claude thought with a smirk, parting from Sebastian's side and going to sit at the bar beside the man. He casually removed his jacket, exposing his firm and muscular torso beneath the dress shirt. Perhaps it was advantageous that Claude Faustus and William Spears were quite similar in appearance. "Whiskey, please. I'll take the bottle."
Ronald tipped back his glass of scotch and glanced over at Claude, blinking a few times. He had been drinking for about an hour already and he could have sworn his lover had sat down next to him. Of course, it was silly to think that. Grell had caused William overtime yet again with his insistence on flirting with the unwilling supervisor, rather than working as he should. Which, in turn had ruined the date they had planned for that night. Having nothing else to do, and not wanting to go home to an empty bed so early in the evening, Ronald had decided that getting drunk would be the better option.
The reaper chuckled at his own slip-up. Of course this stranger wasn’t William…though he wished it was. “Good evening.” He greeted him politely.
One motion was all it took. While Claude had distracted him with the motions of his chest and the jacket, he'd released the packet into Ronald's drink. He applauded his own cunning silently for a minute before realizing he'd been spoken to. He gave him a polite nod as he was given his bottle, with a glass poured out for him.
"Rough day?" asked the bartender curiously of Claude, who nodded. "You wouldn't believe the last few days I've had," he replied.
“You too, hu?” Ronald grinned, “Work’s been Hell lately. I’m drowning in paperwork.” He paused and polished off his glass, setting it back down and leaning on the counter, looking at Claude, “Is yers work or personal?”
Claude gave him a faint smile, adjusting his glasses and downing his own glass in one swig. "Personal, I'd say. So I'm here to...hm, relax, drown my troubles, hopefully have a good time."
“Isn’t that everyone’s reason fer coming t’ the pub?” The reaper swayed slightly in his seat, feeling a lot drunker than he usually did with only a few glasses of scotch, but the thought didn’t linger in his mind, “A handsome man like you shoul’n’ have a problem finding a nice girl or two t’ dance with.”
Claude watched his movements carefully, considering if it was worth risking his next statement. Was Ronald doped enough? Once the bartender moved away, he murmured, "Well, can you keep a secret?" He downed yet another glass of scotch. "I'd much rather find an cute young man."
Ronald laughed, “Really, I would too…but most o’ the guys ‘round here would kick yer ass before you could even ask them! It’s safer to just as the ladies.”
"All well and good if you like both," Claude replied, continuing to drink. "But since you say, any chance a cutie like you'd be interested in a guy like me?" He leaned against the counter, staring up at him with curious golden eyes.
The drugged reaper couldn’t help but blush. The stranger really did look a lot like William…and with the untamed hair, it reminded him of when they had just had sex… No, he shouldn’t think about that…picturing Will naked would only turn him on and he was unable to try and start something with his lover who was stuck at work. “I…I have a lover…” he muttered, though he didn’t pull back to put a more respectful distance between them. The man just looked so much like William…
Claude smirked a little, adjusting his glasses again and continuing to stare at him as he downed his scotch. "Here...have one. Your lover should be with you on a night like this, shouldn't they? The least I can do is keep you company..."
“He has overtime…” he muttered, accepting the drink and taking a drink from it, “He’s had overtime fer over a week… I hardly see him…” he complained.
"That's not fair, is it?" Claude purred in a silky tone, ever so casually brushing a strand of hair from the man's face. "You deserve attention, after all...a bright young man such as yourself should not be left to dull in the dank bars of London on a Friday night, now should you?"
He shook his head, oblivious to the demon’s touch. He downed more of the drink and looked unsteadily at him, “…you look like him…” he muttered randomly.
Claude quirked a little smile. "Ahh, est-ce le cas? How odd that I should resemble your lover," he murmured, seeing Ronald's glass was empty and daring to refill it, even letting his fingers wrap around Ronald's on the glass as he did so.
“You could be his brother…” he muttered, and then laughed loudly, “Impossible though.” He watched as his glass was filled again, “Thanks, mister..?”
"Maybe his father," Claude murmured to himself. He smirked to the young blonde. "My name is Claude," he told him. "And what is the name of the handsome youth I am so lucky to have in my company tonight?"
“Ronald Knox.” He held out his hand as he introduced himself with a wide smile, sipping from his glass, “Nice to meet you Claude.”
Claude sighed impatiently, glancing around the restaurant for his lover. "Suits you," he said amiably, drinking yet another glass. He wiped a little trail of scotch from Ronald's chin gently. "Where do you hail from, Ronald?"
Ronald subconsciously leaned into the touch, “Around.” He said vaguely, there was no point in talking about his human family he left behind when he became a reaper. He swayed a little more heavily on his stool and set his glass down, “Excuse me…but I think I’ve had more than I thought I had…should head home…” he stood up, the room spinning around him and he fell back against the spider demon. “Sorry…”
"Certainly looks like it," Claude said in false concern, getting up with him. "Come on, I'll walk you home. We wouldn't want anyone to take advantage of you, now would we?" he asked, putting an arm around him and grabbing his coat. He pressed money down on the bar and left, winking at Sebastian.
"Come, come...tell me where you hail from, Ronald~"
Sebastian watched them leave and waited a moment before following them at a distance, just in case Ronald still recognized him.
“You won’t be able t’ find my place…” the reaper grinned, “Best I get t’ an inn or something. He swayed a bit and looked up at Claude, seeing William’s face again, “Nnn…Will…you should just make Grell-senpai take your overtime for you…miss you…” he confessed, drunkenly, the alcohol and drug rushing to his impaired mind faster now that he was on his feet.
"Oh, for that man, overtime is the minimum he deserves," Claude said in all honesty. He leaned in and pressed a faint kiss to his cheek, then murmured, "I'll take you somewhere safe."
Ronald smiled and leaned against him, “’somewhere safe’…or do ya mean ‘privet’?” he chuckled, “Been so long, senpai…”
Behind them, Sebastian smirked. It was proving too easy to capture the young shinigami. Especially when the reaper seemed to mistake Claude as William.
"Both," Claude replied simply, holding him a little closer and drinking straight from his bottle of whiskey.
What a sad sort of attachment, Claude thought. They were supposed to be lovers, and yet this young one obediently called him ‘senpai’. Wasn't love supposed to be about equality? He shrugged. At his relationship with Sebastian was equal. Let the reaper lower himself if it made him happy. "Come along, now...."
Ronald followed willingly, believing that he was with his lover. In his mind, he didn’t remember when William had shown up. He had been talking to a stranger, but he was too drunk to really question it.
Once they were out of the city limit, Sebastian jogged on ahead and reached the manor a few minuets before the reaper and his lover, opening the cellar doors to the basement and going down to ready an area to keep Ronald in.
Claude kept an arm close around the man, and finally brought him to the manor. Ronald was barely able to walk at this point, but Claude hauled him down to the dungeon anyway. Oh, the people he'd tortured down there when Alois was alive...
Ronald barely knew what was going on at that point. He didn’t know where he was or how he’d gotten there, he just knew that he had drank too much and he wanted to sleep it off. He did have work in the morning, after all. He leaned heavily on Claude, letting him lead him around.
Sebastian showed them down, closing the door behind him, “That seemed easy enough.” He commented, looking at the blonde’s state, “So far the plan seems to be going perfectly.”
"Indeed it does," Claude replied. "I knew it wouldn't be difficult. Sebastian, dearest, the manacles, if you please. We don't want him getting away. Though perhaps a reaper trap might be more effective...perhaps I should draw one up." Some sigils, including reaper traps, needed no magic to be created. As long as they were drawn properly, even a human could make them properly and effectively.
“Both. Just in case. I doubt he could escape the trap, but the bindings would be an attractive touch.” The crow smirked, digging out the shackles and chain from a crate and handing them over to his lover.
Claude wandered over to some cans of paint. He unsealed one, dipping a brush in, and painted a decent-sized reaper trap on the floor, by the wall. "Okay, in he goes..." He coaxed the blonde over to the area and clapped him in the irons, behind his back to further restrain him. "That way his lover can't get to him either. He'd be trapped too."
Ronald slumped over in the center of the sigil, feeling an invisible force take hold of him. But he didn’t care, curling up to let himself drift off to sleep.
“Such a good boy he is…for now.” Sebastian cooed, watching the reaper, “Things’ll probably be less than quiet down here once he wakes up and he realizes he’s been trapped.”
Claude shrugged, running his hand through the blonde hair. "So cute, isn't he...Seems the chatty type, and if he gets loud, we'll just gag him."
“It’d suit him, I think, rather well.” The crow chuckled and sat down on a wooden table, picking up a whip that had been left on it at some point, “It may prove hard to want to play with him. I’m sure Spears would do anything to ensure that we don’t.”
"We should not harm him," Claude replied. "We'll receive nothing but base satisfaction for that, it will only make things worse if we harm our hostage. Let him be. You can look, of course...strip him naked if you wish it...but no touching."
“You were thinking it too.” He said simply, setting the whip down, “But very well. No touching the reaper we have trapped in the cellar.” He stood up and walked over to Claude, slipping his arms around him, “We should let Spears realize on his own that Knox is missing. Let his worry build before we send him a message.”
"Spears seems the obsessive type, too. He'll know very soon that Ronald is missing. Shall we give him....two days to fret about his partner before contacting him? Which also begs the issue of how we shall contact him...you never kept the business card he gave you, right?" He stepped over to Ronald. "Maybe the boy has something on him."
“Worth a try.” Sebastian nodded, “Reapers have birds, I know. Carrier pidgins. We may be able to get Knox to summon his bird to him and then we can use that to send our message.”
Claude frisked Ronald for his belongings, coming up with a wallet and a curious black device with buttons and a screen. "Oh...this may be of use...In my study of the reapers, and their disdainfully superior technology, I have come across something like this before. It is similar to a telephone, I believe...I'll have to study it a bit to figure out how it works, though."
Sebastian nodded, “…we’ll have to feed him too, won’t we?” he sighed and looked up at the ceiling, “I’d rather Elijah stay ignorant to this plan of ours. We’ll have to keep him away from the cellar.”
Claude sighed. "He doesn't like the dark," he murmured. "I doubt he'll come down. And yes, the reaper requires food, and..." He looked at the manacles and sighed, stepping back into the circle and changing it so his arms were at the front instead. "At least this way we can give him a bucket and he'll take care of himself. We don't want him all filthy."
“We can let him bathe before we give him back, as well. No need to treat him inhumanely. He’s our tool, not a prisoner, after all.” He walked over and found a bucket, setting it within the reaper trap so that Ronald could grab it when he needed it. “I’ll bring him down breakfast in the morning before Elijah gets up.”
"He is very lucky he is not our prisoner, then....but he will be, if Spears doesn't give up the information we need." He pressed a button on the phone, nearly dropping it when it beeped and the screen lit up. "But I think we'll find Mr. Spears very accommodating."
Sebastian glanced at the device; “…And humans say strange things are ‘witchcraft’ derived from devils…I think it’s more derived from death. I’ve never seen such a thing.”
"…How curious," he remarked. "Come. Let us return to nicer furnishings. This dungeon still smells of Alois." Claude turned and left for the stairs.
The crow followed, leaving an oil lamp on the table, the flame turned down to give off the smallest amount of light for the reaper.
Claude went to their room, knocking and finding Faelan still faithfully guarding the sleeping child.
"Has there been any trouble?" he asked the albino.
"Nothing, so far. I took him to the kitchen for some warm milk, he was having difficulty sleeping. The triplets wanted to check up or something, but I told them no, and it's been quiet since."
“Thank you for watching him.” Sebastian said, with another small smile, “You may return to your own life whenever you wish.” He reached out, putting a hand on the smaller demon’s shoulder, “We’ll stay with him the rest of the night.”
Faelan bowed deeply, and he'd disappeared in an instant after that.
Claude sighed as he entered the room to see the sleeping child. "It is odd though," he commented quietly. "I told the triplets to let Elijah be, tonight."
“…All the more reason to question their motives then.” Sebastian said, slipping out of his clothes and grabbing a pair of flannel pajamas to change into. He was legitimately tired; having stayed up all night the night before without his connection to Hell. He yawned and pulled out another pair for Claude, “We can speak to them tomorrow.”
Claude took the pyjamas and changed into them. He took to the restroom, brushed his teeth, then crawled into the crisp, fresh bedsheets beside his son. Elijah, however, woke up, his eyes opening sleepily.
"Mmm?" The boy poked his head out of the sheets, the toy duck coming with him.
Sebastian followed suit, slipping in on the other side of their son, “Shh, it’s alright. Go back to sleep, love.” He said gently, kissing the boy’s temple as he settled into the bed.
"Fathers," Elijah whispered happily, seeing them both. "I had scary dreams again...I am glad you are here to make things better..." Claude closed the distance between the three of them, drawing them all in close together protectively.
"We are here."
“They are just dreams, Elijah. They’ll go away eventually. Don’t worry about them.” Sebastian slipped his arms protectively around the boy, “We won’t leave you tonight. Go back to sleep.”
Elijah clung to Sebastian's arm, and Claude held them all close together. "Shh, shh....You're safe with us."
Elijah smiled peacefully, warm between the two demons, and quickly fell asleep. Claude and Sebastian felt themselves following soon after.