akiruchan: (Grell WHA?)
[personal profile] akiruchan
Title: The Devil's Canvas
Chapter: 44/?
Authors: Akiru chan & Disgruntled Minion
Pairing/Characters:  Sebastian/Ciel
Rating: M
Summary: Ciel's skin was marred with ink and blood, telling tales twisted in darkness. What an evil path the devil walks, tainted hands staining the innocent canvas. For the most beautiful art is painted in blood.
Warnings: Violence, adult content, yaoi, and language

Chapter Forty-Four

Ciel stood there, rooted between Joker and the terrible sight of Sebastian’s pained face. He didn’t even notice as the bindings on his wrist were cut free and his hands fell limply to his sides. It took the scream that erupted from Sebastian’s throat, due to a hard kick placed at the man’s shoulder, to push Ciel towards the vehicle that had been provided.

No matter how much he wanted to see Sebastian once more, Ciel couldn’t bring himself to turn around. The sight would only make him want to stay and probably do something increasingly stupid to keep anyone else from laying another hand on his most precious person.

The keys were already in the ignition, and he quickly turned the car on, feeling the light rumble of the engine. Adrenaline pumped through his veins and the pain of his body was a muted memory for the time being as he floored the gas and took off towards the unknown future.

His brain provided him with what he had to do, what Sebastian had told him to do. Find the first building, Sebastian had said. It turned out to be an old gas station, which seemed to have seen better years. The pumps were decrepit and falling apart, and only two seemed to be in working order. Ciel pulled the car to the side of the building, not wanting anyone to see him. It helped that the pay phone was placed there, along with the public bathrooms.

Giving the phone only a glance, Ciel bypassed it and headed straight for the bathroom. He entered with baited breath, not having seen the extent of his injuries first hand. They needed to be cleaned, and hopefully he could talk Claude into bringing a clean pair of clothes when he came to pick the young man up. Ciel’s were caked in blood, vomit and urine, the mixture smelling none too pleasant. It was a wonder Sebastian had stomached being so close, let alone kissing him.

The mirror was bypassed as Ciel wobbled into a stall to relieve himself. He watched as toilet water swirled away and began the process of steeling himself for what was to come. Pep talks of ‘it’s not that bad’ and ‘it’ll look worse than it really is’ crossed his mind, but Ciel was not one to delude himself to petty fantasies. It was very likely that it was that bad, and it was as worse as it looked.

The stall door opened silently and Ciel stumbled out, catching himself on the rim of a dirty porcelain sink, yellowed from old age. He stared down into the mildew encrusted drain and heaved some breaths, his lungs rattling with a sickening unfamiliarity. For a moment, Ciel did nothing more than to stand there like a statue, only the slightest of tremors giving signs to his humanity.

With deep breaths, he collected himself and prepared for the sight he must accept. Head coming up, Ciel looked into the mirror, seeing someone so alien and every bit unfamiliar. The only sign that told Ciel that he was looking at himself was the sole sapphire eye that stared back at him, bloodshot and glossy from tears. The whole of the right side of his face was swollen and painted red and black. Ciel was unsure at that time what was blood and what was bruised flesh.

There was no sign of his other eye, just a puffed brow and eyelid alongside a gash that Ciel had no desire to know how deep it went. He choked back tears, knowing that there was little hope for himself. The eye was most likely destroyed beyond repair.

Not being able to look on any longer, Ciel went to work cleaning himself up. The hot water felt painfully good, and did its job of cleaning away the filth and grime. Ciel would need proper care and the injuries properly sanitized, but this would have to do for now. Bloody paper towels filled the small bathroom’s trash once he was done, and Ciel cared little for them. In a place like this, people weren’t going to bother asking questions. He left his mess behind and moved back out towards the pay phones.

Ciel stood in front of the pay phone for a moment looking cross. He cussed colorfully when he realized he had no money on him. Without any funds it would be impossible to place a call. For a moment, Ciel glanced back to the car and wondered if he could just chance driving himself back, but he was in no state to. If anyone happened to glance at him, they’d be sure to see the state of his face. Last thing he needed was to catch the eye of the police.

Looking around, he hoped to find any spare bit of change. He nearly cheered out loud when he fingered some coins within the coin return. Fishing them out and counting them, he found it to be just enough. A passing car had him huddling closer to the pay phone as he dialed a number.

“Please pick up...” His heart thumped along with each ring, and he almost jumped out of his skin as Claude’s voice filtered over the phone. Ciel hurriedly explained his whereabouts, glad that the man didn’t ask more questions than that. Yet there was a tenseness to his voice that had Ciel on edge. The phone was hung up and Ciel was left feeling cold and alone. He didn’t want to head back to the car, so he opted to sit himself against the gas station’s wall, hidden behind the pay phone.

There Ciel sat, mind racing and his body shaking from nerves and a thousand other different reasons. Once more, the pain was coming back in tide like waves, splashing over him with a drowning intensity. He gasped when a rocket of white hot pain clawed at his head, leaving the dullest of aches within his right eye. Ciel curled further into himself and lost all sense of time.

Minutes passed and bled into an hour before a car pulled off the road and into the parking lot of the old gas station. It came to a stop in front of the bathrooms and Claude stepped out, leaving the engine running in case they had to leave in a hurry. His eyes instantly spotted Ciel and he jogged over to the younger male.

“Ciel,” he called lowly, unsure if the male was unconscious or simply stunned. When he had called, Ciel had sounded urgent but his voice was pain filled and borderline panicked. The fact that Sebastian hadn’t called either meant the older male was too injured to do so, was forced to stay behind, or was dead.

Claude was silently hoping for the first one. But there was no body with Ciel, and no tears streaked down Ciel’s face. “Ciel,” he called again and finally received a response as the younger male turned his head to look at him. Claude jerked back slightly, unprepared for the swollen eye, and he quickly reached for Ciel. “Let’s go. We need to get your injuries looked at.” He paused and swallowed before asking the one question he dreaded to know the answer to. “Where’s Sebastian?”

Never before had Ciel been so happy to see Claude. He allowed the older man to pick him up awkwardly, and Ciel admitted his head to rest against Claude’s shoulder. The smell of the man was foreign yet familiar, and Ciel found himself both hating and loving it. No matter the smell, it was not Sebastian, and that alone made his heart clench. How could he answer Claude?

Pressing his face closer into the man’s neck, Ciel breathed out shakily as he tried to keep himself from talking. “Th--they have... have him.” And that was all he could say; anymore and he’d be a weeping mess.

Claude’s grip tightened briefly before he nodded, feeling a lump of dread forming in his stomach. Sebastian was still alive for now, but for how long? He didn’t bother asking Ciel, not wanting to push any harder. Ciel’s mental state was already shaky and the thought of possibly losing your lover would only make things worse.

“Let’s get you home,” he said and set Ciel down on his feet outside the car. He opened the door and grabbed a blanket, wrapping it around the younger male to help keep him warm. Once wrapped, he guided Ciel into the car and reached over to buckle him in. “You’re safe now, Ciel. Everything’s going to be okay,” Claude murmured as he leaned back, not knowing what else to say.

Ciel said nothing to that, because they were empty words. There was no sincerity behind them, only the dull flatness of words that one thought they should say. He brushed them off and curled himself into the blanket. It was warm but he grimaced when he remembered the state of his clothes. He’d forgotten to ask Claude to bring something clean to wear, too caught up with everything.

“Thank you,” Ciel said after a moment, truly grateful for having Claude here. The man had asked little and had come promptly. It was more than he could have ever hoped for coming from Claude, and Ciel wondered if perhaps some twisted friendship had formed along the way. The thought made him smile, but it quickly faded in favor of a pained scowl.

Claude didn’t answer and simply nodded his head. He turned the car away from the gas station and pointed it in the direction of the mansion. There was no knowing where Ciel had just come from and he didn’t want to ask. His only goal was to get Ciel home and have Will look at his injuries. And then spend time with Alois, as much as he possibly could.

The ride seemed too short, but Ciel knocked that up to the fact that he had most likely passed out on more than one occasion. He was exhausted, both physically and mentally, and he couldn’t bring himself to move from the car once Claude had pulled it as close as possible to the main entrance. At one time, he might have felt relief for being here, but now he was just reminded of how far away he was from Sebastian. The urge to order Claude back was high, but Ciel knew what he had to do.

Claude opened the door and leaned down until he was eye level with Ciel. “Do you want me to carry you inside?” He asked carefully. No one would call Ciel weak if he did, but the younger male might not see it that way and Claude figured it’d be best to ask instead.

“I’m not sure I can stand.” Ciel laughed dryly and moved his eye to look up at Claude. “I’m so useless.” He looked grim sitting there, skin all pale and sickly. At the moment, all Ciel wanted was sleep, but he felt as if he did not have the time for it.

“You’re not useless,” Claude stated as he carefully pulled Ciel from the car. Sebastian would have his head for touching Ciel like this, no matter the circumstance, and Claude couldn’t help but shake his head. Sebastian was strong and would come back, or at least that’s what Claude kept telling himself. It was easier that way, to think that Sebastian would point a gun at his head for holding Ciel when he came back, instead of thinking of the alternative. “You’re just tired and need a little help. That’s not useless.”

Ciel shook his head. “I couldn’t bring him back,” he whispered so softly, that he wondered if Claude could even hear him. “I’m trying... I’m trying so hard, but I’m afraid my best won’t be good enough. I did everything to protect him, but in the end I’m just useless.”

For a moment, Claude didn’t answer as he stood up and shut the door with his foot. “How humorous,” he finally said. “You and Sebastian are so much alike, even though you two never see it. But self loathing doesn’t suit either of you. Yes, you made a mistake, but that doesn’t mean that you have to sulk about it. That’s not the brat I know and dislike.”

A true smile slipped onto Ciel’s lips but he aptly hid it. There was no need to give Claude such satisfaction. Ciel opted for staying silent as they moved up the front steps. He idly wondered if Tanaka knew he was coming home, but didn’t bother to ask. Fatigue was heavy and he fought his way through the haze of sleep to stay conscious. Ciel couldn’t afford sleep just yet.

Claude moved towards the mansion and carefully juggled Ciel around so he could open the front door without dropping the younger male. Warm air brushed over him as he moved through the door and Claude sighed as he moved through the hallway to Tanaka’s office. “You really are a pain in my ass,” he stated.

Ciel chuckled but it quickly morphed into a fit of coughing. It seemed as if his whole body was falling apart bit by bit, Ciel could only hope that in the end, his heart would stay in tact. He refused to lose that. “At least I’m not the only one in pain now. As they say, misery loves company,” Ciel threw back once he could force the words out.

“Yes, and we can both be miserable together. But not for long,” Claude cautioned. “I want to be in a good mood when I take Alois later on. So you better not be miserable for long.”

A frown came across Ciel’s face. "I didn’t need to know that," he said. Nor did he wish to think how lucky Claude was to have the ability to go to his lover. If Ciel was honest with himself, he would admit that there was a hint of jealousy within him but that thought stayed bottled up tightly.

“I’m sure that when Sebastian comes back, we’ll hear you two going at it all night long,” Claude stated dryly and then smirked. “We should have a contest. You and Sebastian against Alois and me. Who can make their lover scream the loudest.”

Ciel resisted the urge to tell Claude just how loud he had made Sebastian scream on occasion, but he doubted Sebastian wanted the other man to know about his bottoming escapades. So Ciel stayed silent on that topic and merely declared “We’d win," and kept it at that.

Claude came to a stop outside of the office and glanced at Ciel. “The point of all this,” he stated, “is to tell you that Sebastian will indeed come back and then you two will go on annoying the living hell out of me. So cheer up; or Sebastian will kill me.”

A true smile bloomed on Ciel’s face and he did not stop himself from wrapping his arms tightly around Claude’s neck in a hug. “Thank you.” Ciel supposed that perhaps Claude wasn’t a complete jackass after all.

“Get off,” Claude grumbled and dropped Ciel’s feet to the ground. His arm looped around Ciel’s waist to help support his weight but did nothing more as he announced himself and entered the office.

The muffled sound of Tanaka’s voice filtered through the door and once more Ciel felt anxiety grip him. Claude had done a wonder calming him down but now it seemed that it had all been for naught. Ciel leaned heavily on Claude as the office door was opened and he was pushed inside. Tanaka didn’t look up when they entered, and Ciel wondered if the older man was even expecting them. Perhaps he even thought Ciel to still be held captive. If that was the case, then the old man was in for a surprise.

“Sir,” Claude stated. “Ciel’s here, safe and sound.”

Only then did Tanaka look up, age written across his face, and relief flooded his eyes at the sight of Ciel standing before him. He didn’t miss the absence of Sebastian but he wouldn’t question that now because Ciel was standing here before him, alive.

“Welcome home,” Tanaka breathed and stood up, moving around the desk to carefully embrace Ciel.

Ciel returned the hug weakly. There was little strength left in Ciel’s body and the moment he was released, Ciel toppled into a chair. His single eye slid closed and he had to force himself not to fall asleep.

Tanaka placed a hand on Ciel’s shoulder and glanced at Claude. “Let’s get him cleaned up and have Will look at him so Ciel can get to bed soon. He’s tired and needs sleep. And I’m sure he’s more than willing to forgot this ordeal.”

“We need to talk,” Ciel said weakly, but at the moment he had little conviction. The day had worn him down like a well used piece of leather. He swayed on his feet, feeling worse for wear and wished he could forget the whole ordeal like Tanaka was suggesting. It could not be afforded, but maybe for just a moment Ciel could push it all aside.

“You need to get some rest first and then we can talk,” Tanaka stated and glanced at Claude. “Take him to see Will and make sure he gets into bed tonight. It’ll take a couple days of sleep and food before we can talk again. Make sure that you’re all right.”

There was a pause as Ciel readied himself to leave. “I need to talk to you in the morning,” Ciel said, voice stern.

Tanaka frowned. “We’ll see how you’re feeling in the morning. Go see Will now before you pass out where you stand.” He waved Ciel away and turned to focus on Claude. “We’ll talk after Ciel is tended to.”

Claude nodded, already knowing what the conversation was going to entail and it was something he wasn’t looking forward to. The chance was high that Tanaka wouldn’t allow them to get Sebastian back.

He turned to Ciel, pushing the thoughts aside for now. “Let’s get you cleaned up.”

No further argument left Ciel and he allowed himself to be led out of the room. As soon as the room was closed behind them, Ciel turned to Claude. “Please, if I’m not up by dawn tomorrow, wake me.” He could only hope that the man would not refuse him.

“I’m not your butler,” Claude stated as he led Ciel down the hallway and towards the room where Will was waiting for them. The smell of disinfectants filled the area around the room as they approached it and as soon as they entered, Will clicking his tongue at the sight of Ciel.

“Change out of those rags,” Will said and slipped on some gloves. “Claude, I’m going to ask you to step out of the room while I stitch him up. I’ll give you my full report once everything is done.”

Claude nodded and took a small step out of the room, giving Ciel one last look. He paused and glanced over his shoulder. “I’ll try, Ciel,” he finally said. “But I can’t promise anything past that.”

“Thank you.” And then the door was closed, and Ciel was left alone with Will. He turned to the man and gave a tired smile, looking slightly apologetic. “Sorry for the trouble this is causing.” Because Will always seemed like everything Ciel did was troublesome.

“Hush,” Will snapped and stepped forward until he was standing in front of Ciel. “We have a lot of work to do,” he said and carefully started to examine Ciel.

-----

Claude waited patiently outside the room, Alois standing next to him. The younger male was a silent and constant reminder of what he had, and Claude couldn’t wait to have Alois all to himself once night fell. They hadn’t said anything on the subject of Sebastian since Ciel’s capture and for that Claude was thankful. He didn’t want to think about the whole situation right now.

“What’s going on?” Alois asked after a long stretch of silence. The moment he had heard the murmur of gossip telling of Ciel’s return alongside Claude, he had made his way through the mansion dead set on finding his lover. The man had left with little word of where or why he was leaving, and Alois had been left with nothing but questions.

“Ciel came back after Sebastian’s mistake,” Claude answered. “He’s a mess right now. But Will is tending to his injuries right now and judging by how long it’s taking, I can only imagine how much torture they put him through.”

Alois raised a golden brow. “That bad?” He couldn’t say he didn’t care, because some part of him had become attached to having the boy around. Ciel was still annoying and Alois hated his guts, but if the idiot was hurt or if he died, then who would Alois target his animosity at? It was a loss on his side as well. So he had plenty of reason to have some ill intended worry for Ciel.

Claude nodded. “There’s something wrong with his eye, and he was pretty bloody. I’m not sure how much of it was his, though.” He glanced down at Alois. “Sebastian is still back there, though ,and that’s going to be the hardest part for him.”

“But Sebastian can take care of himself. I’d be more worried if it were you being held. Do you think you’d be able to come back to me?” There was a teasing tone to Alois’s voice, with an underlying sense of cruelty, but what stood out the most was the relief that stood out within his water blue eyes. Alois was glad that it was not Claude in Sebastian’s position, because he truly wasn’t sure if the man would make it back to him. In their line of work, there was no room for certainties.

“I’d come back to you,” Claude stated. “Sebastian, though, we both know how weak he is. He wouldn’t last a day by himself. But I can only imagine if he doesn’t make it back, how miserable our life will be. The funeral, the crying brat, and everything else that would come with it.” The words were a lie, nothing more than a clever ploy to help cover up the real emotions that Claude was hiding.

“Well then!” Alois spun around, all mocking theatrics. “We’ll have to do whatever is in our power to ensure that Sebastian returns. Otherwise we’ll only have one person to make their life miserable, and it’s not too fun when their life is already miserable and you had nothing to do with it.” His hands were on his hips and he looked about ready to march out of the mansion himself, only that Alois made no move to leave the spot he occupied.

Claude chuckled and reached out to pull Alois closer to him. “And without Sebastian, I can’t add anymore piercings to your body.” His hand trailed down and tweaked the rings that adorned Alois’s nipples. “All of our fun would end, and we’d have to find someone else. And I’d rather not have anyone else see what’s mine.”

“What would we ever do?” Alois spun about in Claude’s arms and reached up on his tiptoes to give the man a kiss. It was a peck, teasing with promises of more to come. Only not now, when things were so messed up at the moment.

“Little imp,” Claude murmured against Alois’s lips before the younger male settled back down again. He was about to lean down and steal another kiss when the door opened, drawing his attention and making him back away from Alois slightly.

Alois slipped quickly behind Claude when he spotted Will. The man gave him a look, and Alois wanted little to do with the man. It seemed he had a long standing grudge with all of the hitmen. Probably had something to do with them always coming back limping and going to William for treatment.

Will gave them a quick glare before turning to face Claude fully. “He’s almost asleep right now,” he stated. “You’ll need to help him get to his room and into bed. Don’t worry about changing or bathing. Just sleep right now.”

Claude nodded and took a small step forward. “Where is he?”

Both Claude and Alois were pointed towards a couch where Ciel rested. He was shirtless, torso and arms heavily bandaged. But it was Ciel’s eye that drew Alois’s immediate attention. There was no mistaking the way the white sterile bandages stood out as they wrapped around Ciel’s face, covering his right eye. Already a pink tinge was bleeding through, and Alois turned to question Will, but thought better of it with the look he was given.

Instead he found his gaze settling on Claude. “Is he-- His eye... What happened?” Alois didn’t want to know if Ciel had lost the eye, nor did he want to think what that meant. It made everything more complicated, and he hated complicated things.

“His cornea was injured, from some sort of weapon,” Will answered and glanced at Ciel. “Usually it can heal, but infection set in and has slowed the process. The epithelium was damaged, and it usually prevents bacteria from entering the eye. Without it, the infection set in quicker and now there’s a high chance that the cornea will scar once it does heal.”

Claude frowned. “What does that mean for Ciel?” He asked softly. All of this information would have to be given back to Tanaka and he wasn’t looking forward to giving such a report on top of Sebastian’s holding. “Will he be blind in that eye?”

Will shook his head. “Not blinded, but the scarring will interfere with the light as it enters the eye, either blocking it or distorting it. I’m not sure yet how the scarring will truly affect his sight until he’s fully awake.” He looked away from Ciel and focused on Claude again. “But he won’t be able to focus on things far away or close up, seeing as the curvature of the eye has been tweaked.”

“Does he know?” Alois asked, motioning towards Ciel who slept on innocently. From the look of things, Ciel seemed peaceful, but that would be short lived. Things would only turn ugly after this, and there was still the matter of Sebastian to take care of.

Silence settled around the room as Will thought about the correct way to answer the question. “He knows,” he finally answered. “But I don’t think he’s aware of the full damage quite yet. When he came in, the understanding that his eye was damaged was already there, but he didn’t know the extent.”

“Someone will have to tell him when he wakes up in the morning,” Claude stated slowly, cursing silently that Sebastian wasn’t here to tell Ciel such a thing. A small scoff escaped his lips and Claude ran a hand over his face. “Let’s get him up to his room so we can continue with our own lives. I still have to give my report.”

They moved into the room and Will made his leave. Alois looked unsure of what to do, not wanting to touch Ciel, but knowing that he couldn’t just be left there. “You’re carrying him.” It wasn’t as if Alois liked the idea of Claude touching the other male, but he also knew that he alone couldn’t carry Ciel up two flights to the room that was shared with Sebastian.

Claude nodded. “I figured as much,” he stated and moved to carefully pick Ciel up. The younger male’s head lolled against his shoulder and Claude could imagine Sebastian breathing down his neck right now if the man had been anywhere near the mansion. “I’ll carry you back to our room after this, if it makes you feel any better,” he commented lightly, leaving out the part where he would carry Alois to their room and then proceed to screw the other male senseless. 

“Just don’t plan on leaving anytime soon.” There was an impish gleam to Alois’s eye that was easily missed as the man bounded back to the door to hold it open for Claude. It was hard not to notice how small Ciel looked within the larger man’s arms, and Alois was reminded of a small child, all beaten and battered. For a moment, Alois had the sinister wish that he had been the one to inflict such wounds upon Ciel, but soon thought better of it.

Claude paused in the doorway to press a final kiss to Alois’s lips before starting the walk down the hallway, Alois following behind him. Ciel was light in his arms, a sign that he wasn’t fed much during his days with their enemy, and Claude silently made note of that so he could tell Tanaka. The two flights of steps were climbed easily and Claude waited for Alois to open the door before moving inside the shared room to set Ciel down on the bed.

Grumbling in annoyance at Sebastian for making such a mess before he left, Claude turned to Alois. “Go get some fresh blankets. It wouldn’t be good to place these ones on him with his body so torn up now.”

Alex and Soot peeked their heads from under the desk. They had never liked Claude or Alois much and had learned to stay out of their way. A light whine left Alex as she caught sight of Ciel but dared not move yet, not with Alois glaring down at them as he passed by them to leave.

“Dirty animals,” Alois mumbled and then left the room without a second thought. He was already upset of having to head back downstairs to fetch new linens.

Soot hissed slightly at Alois and her ears pressed flat against her head until Alois left. She watched Claude carefully as he placed a pillow behind Ciel’s head before he moved to shift the pile of blankets to the side. It had been their temporary bed as well as Sebastian’s for the past few days and she sniffed the air, searching for Sebastian’s scent, in hopes that her master would soon be coming in.

Claude glanced up as Alois teetered back into the room with an armful of blankets and dropped them on the bed. Without a word, Claude started to shift the blankets around until they were covering Ciel’s body. He made sure that they didn’t rest too heavily on the injured parts and that nothing could catch on the bandages. Once done, he nodded his approval. “I think we’re done here.”

“Can we go then?” Blue eyes shifted around the room, and Alois teetered from foot to foot. It felt odd being in this room that had so many things specifically Sebastian and Ciel. There was an intimacy about it that unsettled Alois and he only wanted to leave. For a moment, he glanced over towards a pile of clothes falling from the closet and raised an eyebrow at the sight of black lace. He decided quickly that he didn’t want to know and turned back to Claude.

“You might have to stay and watch him,” Claude answered and pushed up his glasses. “If he rolls around at all, he could damage the wounds even more and make the recovery time even longer. And I still need to give my report to Tanaka, otherwise I would stay and watch.”

A low suffering groan left Alois as he collapsed in a chair. “You would make me do this.” He pouted and sent Claude a glare. “You owe me for this!”

Claude smiled slightly. “I’ll make it up to you,” he said and walked over to Alois’s side, leaning down to capture his lips. “The next time we’re alone together, I’ll chain you to the bedpost and trace over every part of your body with my lips until you’re trembling for my touch. Then I’ll surprise you by giving into your masochistic side, maybe a crop or my hand against your bare skin,” Claude purred.

“Is that a promise?” Alois pulled away reluctantly, but feeling more than pleased with what would come once he had Claude all to himself. It had indeed been too long.

“Oh yes,” Claude answered. “It is a promise. One that I intend to keep and collect again and again.”

One more kiss was given and then Claude was gone, leaving Alois alone with no one but the slumbering Ciel. He regarded the sleeping man, and scoffed. “I expect you won’t be good company,” Alois said, and resigned himself to a long night.

----------

Claude slipped into the study and looked over Tanaka carefully. They were both tired, and Claude wanted nothing more than to go to sleep, but his report needed to be given first and then things needed to be prepared for the next day.

“Sir,” he started and moved to stand before the desk. “Ciel is up in his room, resting and bandaged. Will’s report on his injuries stated that the most dangerous was the wound to his eye, which damaged the cornea. An infection set in and will most likely cause scarring to the eye.”

Tanaka had feared as much, but hearing it confirmed had his heart knotting, and he couldn’t help but mourn for his grandson’s unsettling future. One would be merely happy that they were alive and well with one eye still in tact, but in their line of work, an injury to an eye could be as devastating as losing a limb or for some, the equivalent to losing their life. Tanaka could only hope that Ciel’s short time within the family would become a blessing and allow the boy to make a transition back into more normal life. One could only hope.

“How is he taking it?” Tanaka didn’t know what to do at that point. A part of him said that he should be by his grandson’s bedside and giving the support that family was supposed to give, but another part said that he should he be the leader of this family and focus on the affairs at hand. He couldn’t do both at once, and it ate away at him.

Claude was silent for a moment, debating his options. “Will said that he knew about the injury to his eye but not the severity of it. In all honesty, Sir,” Claude paused before pushing forward. “I think he’s more worried about Sebastian and ready to go after him than anything. He didn’t mention it much in the car but was upset about not being able to bring Sebastian back.”

A heavy sigh left Tanaka and he sunk back into his chair. “It’s likely that he’s no longer alive.” It was a fact that was hard to admit, but a fact nonetheless. In their line of work, hostages did not last long, not when they had been acquired after many hardships. Their enemies had wanted Sebastian and now it seemed that they had him. “If he is still alive, they won’t keep him that way for long.” 

“What if he is alive?” Claude questioned carefully. He didn’t want to get up his own hopes by pretending there was still a chance Sebastian would be alive, but it had seemed as though Ciel was holding something back. Something he hadn’t told Tanaka yet and that alone gave Claude enough to hope that Sebastian would still be alive.

“And if he’s alive...” A deep frown dug across Tanaka’s brow and he closed his eyes. “I’m afraid that we can’t make a winning move. We both have precious pieces in this game, but it puts us in a stalemate. The only difference is, our enemy’s game piece is disposable. They will get rid of one and then seek out another.

“All we have is the ring, and so far we can’t even discern the importance of it. Destroying it will do no good, and will most likely only cause retaliation. Our best bet is to sit and wait for the opportune time in which we can strike and level our opponents in a single blow.”

Claude tensed slightly. “You mean Sebastian,” he stated, referring to the game piece in the enemy’s possession. A curse slipped past Claude’s lips and he shifted his weight slightly. It was frustrating to sit and wait, knowing that someone from the family was out there still, in the enemy’s hands. Especially when they were more than likely being tortured.

It was no secret that Sebastian had made several enemies throughout his lifetime and while all of them wanted him dead, they wouldn’t kill him right away. Torture was a means of satisfaction when you weren’t trying to get information out of someone. Because then it didn’t matter if they died under your hand, because they would be killed eventually anyway. The only thing an early death meant was that the fun had ended too soon.

And torture under those circumstances was something to be afraid of. They could do anything to Sebastian, as he had nothing that they wanted. They had what they wanted and as far as Claude knew, there was nothing that was going to convince them to let Sebastian go.

“There’s nothing else we can do?” Claude finally asked weakly.

“Ciel needs to stay here, and in bed. He needs his rest and his mind kept off things that might bring him unneeded stress. I don’t want him informed of the situation.” The change of subject was quick and intentional, giving Claude the answers that he sought.

Whatever happened, Ciel was still the wild card. Tanaka knew that the boy would fly recklessly out to save Sebastian as soon as he was able. Experience told Tanaka that there was little they could do at this point, and inevitably it looked as if the worst case scenario would come to pass.

Claude swallowed heavily. “Yes, Sir,” he answered, voice low and thick with emotion. Despite everything he had been through with Sebastian, the man was still family and a good friend; losing Sebastian would hurt more than Claude would like to admit.

“I’m assigning the task of overseeing Ciel to you and Alois. Don’t make me regret my decision.” Tanaka waved Claude away, no longer wanting to deal with the matter. As of now, there were far more pressing issues to consider. Despite what he had said, Tanaka still hoped that a bone would be thrown to them that would shift Sebastian’s fate. He might not ever admit it verbally, but Sebastian was like a son to him, and it was hard to accept that death may soon await the boy.

Bowing slightly, Claude turned and left the room. There was no point in arguing with Tanaka; the man was stubborn, and Claude could easily see the familiar traits in Ciel as well. Once old enough, Ciel would make a good transition into power. But for now, Ciel was still young by society’s standards, and Claude could only guess how Sebastian’s death would affect the younger male. It could lead to negative impacts for not just Ciel but the rest of the family as well.

The future was always unknown, but now more than ever, it was extremely cloudy. So many paths branched out before them, each one leaving an unpleasant taste in Claude’s mouth. If Sebastian died, there were too many things that Ciel could do. Suicide or leaving the family would hurt the most immediate, as no new heir was trained to take his place. Sebastian was the original choice until Ciel showed up, but if both of them were gone, it would leave that position open and could lead to fighting within the family.

But even if Ciel stayed after Sebastian’s death, no one could predict how he would behave. Ciel could have hidden agenda’s that sought to destroy those who had killed Sebastian and ruined his life in the process. If Ciel let such a thing as revenge consume him, then he would inevitably fall, and the rest of the family would fall with him.

In the end, it wasn’t just the problem of losing one of the family’s best members to a rival gang, it was everything else that came with it due to Sebastian’s death. Claude snorted. Sebastian would probably enjoy knowing that the fate of the family could be determined by his living or dying.

‘Conceited bastard.’ Claude thought as he pushed open Ciel’s door and crossed the room to sit next to Alois. His eyes studied Ciel’s sleeping body and he laced his fingers together, trying to figure out what was running through Ciel’s mind.

“You better have an ace up your sleeve, Ciel,” Claude muttered. “Everything depends on what you have planned and how you decide to go about it. If not, not just Sebastian will end up dead, but the rest of the family with it.”

----------

Everything felt light, comfortable, and for a brief moment it felt like everything was okay. There was no pain, no sick turning of his stomach, no damp coldness of dirty stone. It was just soft warmth and contentment. Ciel wondered if perhaps he had died. Was this what heaven felt like, because this surely was not the hell he had expected. His eyes fluttered lightly as he tried to open them, half expecting to see golden rays and plumes of soft clouds.

“I think he’s waking up.” The voice was irritatingly familiar, and Ciel felt himself tensing. It was in the shift of his muscles that he felt his first pain, and it was when he tried to force his eyes open that he felt the white hot strike of a deep ache.

Only one eye cracked itself open, and Ciel waited for the adjustment from darkness to light. Alois came into sight first, face too close for comfort and blue eyes looking just a little too clear for Ciel’s liking. “I think I am in hell,” Ciel bit out, not enjoying the sight he was waking up to.

“Good morning to you too, sunshine,” Claude answered and moved closer to Alois so he could see Ciel better. The cloth around Ciel’s eye was still tinted a slight pink, but nothing new had stained the white wrap since it was applied last night. “You look like shit.”

“You don’t look much better yourself. At least I have the luxury of knowing I’ll heal. You on the other hand...” Ciel let his words trail off, voice hoarse and throat raw. He didn’t feel like conversing more than he had to at the moment.

Claude grumbled and moved away from the bed to pick up the tray of food that had been dropped off by Alois a half hour ago. “I know you’re probably not hungry, but you need to eat something small before you go back to sleep again.” The tray was carried back over to the bed and set on the plush surface. “You don’t need to eat everything, but a little is better than nothing and will help you recover faster.”

Ciel didn’t seem to hear the other man. His eye had opened fully and looked anxiously around the room. Reality had come quickly to him, the pleasant banter long forgotten for the moment. “What time is it?” Ciel asked hurriedly, acting as if he was about ready to bound out of bed.

“Around ten or so,” Claude answered and reached over to set a plate on Ciel’s lap before the younger male could jump up. “Eat your breakfast before it gets cold. We put a lot of time into making that, you know.”

“I don’t have time for food. I have to see Tanaka,” Ciel argued. He tried to push the tray away, but Claude’s hand was firm and kept it in place. Alois had also come closer to the bed and was looming like some anxious ghost over Claude’s shoulder.

Pale blue looked curiously down at the food. “You better eat that,” Alois stated firmly. “I didn’t make it for no damn reason you know.”

Claude nodded. “If you don’t eat something, you’ll collapse as soon as you get out of bed. Your body is starved and lacking the nutrients that it needs. Add in the turmoil that you went through, and it’s a wonder you haven’t passed back out yet.” He picked up a piece of toast and held it up to Ciel’s mouth. “So eat. Before you do pass out again.”

“Then you take me to Tanaka.” The toast was taken reluctantly and eaten quickly. It was a wonder Ciel hadn’t realized just how hungry he was until now. The taste of food on his tongue had his stomach rumbling and pleading for more. Soon toast, eggs, fruit, and tea were devoured, Ciel making no complaint to how cold everything had gotten.

“Pig,” Claude muttered, even though his tone was light and joking. It was good to see that Ciel’s appetite was strong; it would save them the trouble of having to force feed him or use a feeding tube to get the food into him. He handed the empty tray over to Alois and silently assessed Ciel before speaking again. “Let’s get you into the bathroom so you can shower and we can look at your injuries. They’ll need to be re-wrapped with fresh ones.”

Alois took his leave, promising to take the dishes to the kitchen before heading back to the room he shared with Claude. Ciel paid the man no mind and focused on Claude who was currently trying to help him out of bed. It was concerning how weak Ciel’s legs had become, and he cursed when he had to lean against Claude for support. “Will a shower be wise?” He questioned, but decided the only other alternative was a bath. Ciel wasn’t in the mood to allow Claude to bathe him. Luckily, the more he moved, the more his legs seemed to find themselves and get back into a working condition.

Claude nodded. “The biggest injury to your person is your eye. The rest of the cuts and marks will be fine if they get wet, so long as we thoroughly dry them off before they’re wrapped again.” He stopped outside the bathroom and leaned against the door frame, not wanting to fully walk in. Claude already felt awkward enough staying in the bedroom and going in the bathroom was just as awkward.

There was a pause, and Ciel wobbled in place as he turned around slightly to look at Claude. A question was on the tip of his tongue, but Ciel was unsure if he was ready to ask it. One hand gingerly pressed at his covered eye, and wasn’t it pointless to put off the inevitable? Sighing, the question fell and filled the room. “My eye... What did Will say?”

For as strong as Ciel was, he could not bring himself to look into Claude’s eyes, for surely they would tell the answer far quicker than any words. So he stood there on legs that felt like rotted wood waiting to give and braced himself for whatever was to come next. He hoped though, that perhaps the injury wasn’t as bad as any had wagered. Ciel hoped for just that, and really so much more.

“It’s not blind,” Claude started slowly, making sure that his words were pronounced enough so there wouldn’t be any questions later on. “But your cornea was damaged, and an infection had set in by the time you came home. Will said it’ll probably scar once it heals, but he’s not sure yet how it’ll affect your sight. It’ll either affect how you see things at close range or at long distances.”

Ciel let that sink in. “So this eye is essentially useless to me now.” It wasn’t so much a question, just a flat statement that held no emotion. What more could Ciel say? As it stood now, anything he wished to accomplish seemed too far out of his reach. There was nothing to help cope with this loss that might soon be the catalyst to yet an even greater suffering. “What are the chances that I’ll be able to effectively shoot?”

Claude chuckled. “You’ll still be able to shoot, you’ll just have to re-train yourself,” he answered. His arms rose and his hands curled around an invisible gun before his left eye closed. “Most people who are right handed shoot with their left eye closed, and those left handed shoot with their right eye closed. However, there are those few in the population who like to go against the grain. Those who shoot with the opposite eye of their dominate hand are called goofy eyed. There’s nothing wrong with them, though, and they can shoot just fine. Carmella is goofy eyed, in case you don’t believe me.”

But that wasn’t the issue. Ciel knew that in time he would adjust and things would be better, but time was not a luxury at the moment. He needed the ability to shoot now, not months down the road. With how everything stood now, Ciel knew that his plan would fall through before it even started, and Sebastian’s life would be forfeited. “That doesn’t help me now,” he said quietly.

Sighing, Claude ran a hand over his face. “Shift your body to the side slightly when you shoot, but don’t move your arms. It’ll ensure that you’re focused on your target still and looking at them straight through the sights. If you shift your arms instead, you’ll be off target.” His arms dropped to his side. “Practice holding the gun and looking through the sights with your submissive eye before shooting. It’ll help your body adjust, and soon it’ll come naturally.”

Soon, but probably not soon enough. The look in Ciel’s eye turned cold and he shrunk into his thoughts, dismissing Claude with a wave of his hand. As soon as the door shut, he proceeded to strip and prepare his shower. The warm water felt nice and helped to ease and soothe his muscles. Ciel sunk back onto the cold tile wall and closed his eyes, wanting nothing more than to fall into a thoughtless oblivion.

----------

Claude was still in the room once Ciel clambered out of the bathroom, white towel pulled around his waist. He was still wet, hair dripping, but he didn’t care. Ignoring Claude, he went to gather some clothes and chose then to send the older man a glare.

“Turn around or shut your eyes,” Ciel demanded.

“Yes, your majesty,” Claude said sarcastically and turned around. He listened to the shuffling of clothes and closed his eyes, trying to fight off the exhaustion that threatened to overtake him. He had traded shifts with Alois last night, rotating out in four hours shifts in order to watch Ciel full time, and he wanted nothing more than to stretch out on the bed and get some decent sleep.

He jumped when a wet towel smacked him on the back of his head, and Claude turned around to glare at Ciel. “Now what?” He asked. “Want me to tie your shoes?”

“You were swaying. I didn’t want you passing out in my bed.” It felt oddly strange not to tie Sebastian’s name to the bed, but Ciel didn’t think too hard on it. Whether he stated it or not, it was still his and Sebastian’s bed. Always would be.

Ciel was dressed in simple clothes, jeans and a plain navy shirt with three buttons undone at the collar. A hand passed through his wet hair, pulling through the tangles and brushing out excess water. He wouldn’t bother with drying it, not when it wasn’t important. Claude could change his bandage, wet hair or not.

“As though I would want to sleep on that bed. Who knows how many times you and Sebastian have fucked on that thing,” Claude answered and moved over to the dresser to pick up a new roll of bandages. He sighed as Ciel walked closer. “How am I supposed to dress the rest of your wounds when you’re fully dressed?”

An evil smile bloomed upon Ciel’s lips. “Oh? I don’t think sleeping on that bed would be any worse than you preparing your meals on the kitchen counter...” The words trailed off as Ciel allowed that bit of information to sink in. He didn’t doubt Claude would miss what was being hinted at, and for now Ciel looked forward to the reaction he would receive.

Claude blanched. “You two better not have,” he sputtered, his face paling slightly at the mere thought. He made a mental note to scrub down the island and never prepare food there ever again.

“You’ll never know,” Ciel sing-songed and proceeded to toss off his shirt once more in an irritated manner. He could only hope that Claude would suffice himself with the injuries on his upper body; the ones on his legs were far less severe. In fact, Ciel had seen little reason to recover anything. It was only his eye that needed attention.

“Cheeky brat,” Claude muttered as he tended the wounds, checking each one for any hint of infection. None of them seemed warm to the touch, though, and Claude spread the salve over the wounds before pressing band-aids over them again. Each wound was examined and cleaned before Claude took a step back. “All done here. I’ll call Will in so he can look at your eye.”

Ciel frowned. “Can’t you do it? At least you’re the lesser of the two evils.” Truth be told, Ciel had had enough of William for one day. At least with Claude, Ciel could dish out insults without having to worry about being hammered down into the ground. Will was quite good at aiming his words right where they hurt.

Claude shook his head. “Will would know what to look for when he’s examining your eye. I’d rather not risk you losing your eye because I missed something when I was wrapping it,” he answered and handed Ciel his shirt back. “And once your eye is checked and wrapped, it’s back to bed for you. Your body needs more sleep in order to recover.”

“Stay then, I don’t want to be alone with that man, nor will I head back to bed after. You will take me to see Tanaka. That is an order.” The commanding tone was more than present, and Ciel allowed himself to stand tall to promote his superiority. Ciel would not be refused. He had wasted enough time as it was.

Claude shifted, feeling conflicting emotions rise within himself. He already knew what Ciel wanted to talk to Tanaka about, and the thought made him frown. Tanaka had ordered him not to inform Ciel of the situation with Sebastian, but if it were coming from Tanaka, then Claude wouldn’t be breaking orders. With a sigh, Claude ran a hand over his face, pushing his glasses up to rub at his eyes. “Let’s go.”

Soundlessly, Ciel followed Claude out of the room and down the hall. His legs still felt heavy, and his muscles clenched almost painfully. There was nothing Ciel could do, so he was forced to grin and bear it. Ciel would not complain or admit to it, fearing that medication would be forced upon him. He didn’t need that debilitating him as well.

They stopped outside a door, and Claude knocked, the sound echoing down the hallway. A few moments passed before the door opened slightly, and Will looked at him through the crack in the door.

“To what do I owe this pleasure?” Will asked, pushing his glasses up.

“Ciel needs to have his eye checked over and a new bandage put in place,” Claude answered and gestured back to Ciel.

The door opened a little more and Will stepped to the side. “You should’ve called me instead of bringing him down yourself.” A disapproving glare was given to both before Will focused his attention on Ciel. “And you should still be in bed. Which is where you’re going as soon as I’m done with this. Orders were given that you were to be given bed rest and clearly that’s not happening.”

Ciel knew better than to complain. It wouldn’t get him anywhere. To fight a losing battle wasn’t a wise move and so Ciel stayed quiet. His lips pursed, and he allowed himself inside Will’s room without invitation, merely wanting to give the man a sign to shut up and get to work. The sooner Ciel’s eye was taken care of then the sooner he could leave Will to his bitching, or whatever miserable pastime the man surely had to make him so sour faced.

Moving further into the room, Will gestured at a chair and waited for Ciel to sit before gathering the necessary items. They were placed next to the chair and with quick hands, Will started to unwrap the bandage, checking for any signs of discomfort from Ciel as he did so. Seeing none, Will nodded slightly and tilted Ciel’s head to the side so he could have more light.

“It looks like the infection is going away; the antibodies have started working already. That’s a good sign,” Will murmured, running a finger over the swollen skin. It was cool to the touch thankfully, and so long as the infection stayed away, the cornea would start to heal itself. “I can’t say anything about your vision yet. Once the cornea has fully healed, I’ll be able to check it, but for now, we’ll have to wait.”

A stiff nod was all Will received in reply. At this point, Ciel had little hope for his vision. The eye stung and nothing could be seen through it as the eyelid was gingerly raised so that the eyeball itself could be quickly assessed. Ciel made no outward sign of discomfort, not with Claude so close by, but it hurt nonetheless.

“Am I done here?” Ciel asked finally once Will sat back and looked Ciel over with bored regard.

Will nodded. “You’re done,” he said and set the wrap back in the box. “Now go back to your room and get some rest. By the time you wake up, it’ll be around lunch, so make sure you eat something.”

Ciel said nothing, for he planned to do none of which he was told. Without a word, he turned quickly on his feet and left the room, not bothering to even wait for Claude. He knew the man would follow, so there was no point in assuring himself of that. Already he could hear the small click of a heel against wooden floors, the other foot no doubt falling mute as it fell on the slim rug that ran down the center of the halls. Ciel’s own footsteps were quiet as he followed the rugged path, allowing his mind to drift into itself as he thought over just what he had to do.

They rounded another corner and Claude glanced briefly at the staircase behind them. “Seeing as we’re going in the opposite direction of your bedroom, I guess it’s safe to assume that you’re bound and determined to talk to Tanaka instead of listening to us.”

“Will you stop me?” Ciel threw back the challenge, slowing his pace just enough to hear Claude’s decision. Not that it would keep Ciel from his path, but it would allow things to run all the more smoothly if Claude allowed this little transgression.

Claude faltered slightly. He should say yes, as he had been assigned to watch Ciel and to make sure that he stayed out of this mess. But in doing that, Sebastian would be killed for sure and there would be no hope in rescuing him. If he let Ciel go, though, there was a chance that they could get Sebastian back.

“No,” he finally answered and waved his hand, even though Ciel couldn’t see it. “I won’t stop you. But I will warn you that whatever you have planned, may not work. Tanaka is set in his decision.”

“And I am set in mine.” The doors to Tanaka’s office came up too quickly, and Ciel found himself stopping to gather his resolve. Whatever happened within this room would not affect Ciel’s actions. It would either make his plan easier or all the more harder.

With a sigh, he turned to Claude, giving the man a stern look. “Stay outside. I don’t want you getting in trouble.” That was the last thing he said as he slipped through the door without knocking. This was the moment of truth, and Ciel couldn’t help but feel eerily calm about it. The hard look Tanaka gave him at first glance did little to cool Ciel’s nerve; if anything, it pushed him forward.

Silence settled in the room as they glanced at each other, and Tanaka’s eyes narrowed at the determined gaze in Ciel’s eyes. The younger male was rash, and it seemed as though he needed to curb such a thing in Ciel. It was time that Ciel learned his place, even if it meant breaking him.

To Be Continued . . .

Date: 2011-08-17 12:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nonnally.livejournal.com
Oh Ceil!! *SOBS* My heart is sitting in my stomach again. :-( I am so so grateful for your regular updates but now I have to wait till Tuesday again. *whines*

I promised myself no Kuro fic. No no no. I can't break that promise. That means I just haunt your fics XD.

Date: 2011-08-17 06:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dilovesyunjae.livejournal.com
Noooooo!! tanaka wouldnt do it, right?pls tell me he wont stop ciel!

Date: 2011-08-17 08:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] highprofilelove.livejournal.com
Ciel bby :( sdfdsagsdaf ;_;

Claude here is just so.. adorable. And it's also sweet that Ciel acknowledges him as a close friend despite their bickering. There's always something nice about the way you narrate two characters that are teasing each other - it's really so sweet and endearing and it further shows the depth of their relationship.

Thanks again to you two for a wonderful chapter ♥

Date: 2011-08-20 10:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-mbry0.livejournal.com
Noo, Tanaka don't stop Ciel! Don't let Sebastian die!! ;A;

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