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Title: The Devil's Canvas
Chapter: 51 (part one)/?
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.
WarningsViolence, adult content, yaoi, and language.

Chapter Fifty-One

The tap, tap, tap of Ciel’s nail on the hard wood table filled the quiet room. He was sitting in the library, single eye trained on a page that he had been staring at for the past ten minutes. It outlined an organized crime case that had taken place in The States some years ago. Ciel had long since lost interest in it, and was allowing his mind to wander to other, more pleasant things. Grell had started up his studies once more since he had been forced to take a temporary leave from his University classes due to his injuries. He hadn’t been too keen on missing out on a whole semester, though.

Nothing could be done about it, and Tanaka had doubled Ciel’s workload. He had claimed that it would be good to keep Ciel’s mind sharp while he took a break from schooling, but Ciel saw it for what it really was; the beginning of his punishments. After a moment, the book was snapped shut and Ciel leaned back into his chair with a sigh. This was the last place he wanted to be while Sebastian was finally getting his damnable cast removed. He couldn’t wait to have both those hands on his body.

“Tonight should be fun,” he thought out loud, although Will had been persistent in getting the point across that they shouldn’t be exerting themselves so quickly. Apparently that included sex of all kinds. It seemed Will was even condemning them for merely kissing after having caught Sebastian and Ciel lazily making out in the garden a few days prior.

The door suddenly clicked as the knob was turned. Ciel jumped, reopening the book in a flash and seeming intent on the words on the page. It didn’t matter that it had been opened to a section that Grell had not assigned for the day.

It closed quietly and Claude moved further into the library, coming to stand behind Ciel. He glanced at the book before plucking it from Ciel’s hands. “This looks rather boring,” he stated, flipping through the pages before setting it to the side. “I take it Tanaka has started your punishment as well.” He moved to the other side of the table and took a seat opposite of Ciel, setting a box down.

“Thank God.” Ciel blew a sigh of relief and relaxed. “I thought you were Grell.” It was odd; Ciel never thought he’d ever welcome Claude’s presence, but the man was growing on him. He would take Claude’s company over quite a few individuals in the family who seemed to test Ciel’s patience. “Grell’s been on my ass about my studies all week; Tanaka’s doing, of course. I’m afraid this is only the beginning for me. I hope you’re fairing better?” But Ciel didn’t have much hope for that to be the case.

Claude snorted. “After the trouble we caused because of you and Sebastian, doubtful. I proclaimed you dead at the scene and allowed you to leave the house before that. My punishment has barely started.” He rubbed his temples. “You two are causing me a lot of grief, and I’m only down here to see you because of a promise I made Sebastian before he left to rescue you.”

That perked Ciel’s interest almost immediately. It was slightly odd that Sebastian had sought Claude out for such a thing, but Ciel didn’t think much on it. “A promise? This isn’t some note you were supposed to give me if he didn’t come back alive, is it?” He wouldn’t be surprised if it was. “Because I don’t think that’s quite necessary. What with him being alive and all.”

“As though I would agree to give you something like that,” Claude stated. “You’d start crying over it and I wouldn’t be the one to offer comfort. But no, this is something that Sebastian enjoys a little too much, if you ask me.” He pulled out a set of gloves and tossed them at Ciel before pulling out his own pair.

Ciel arched a fine eyebrow, and made no further movement. “Should I be afraid?” He asked, not sure what he was just about to get himself into. There wasn’t anything Ciel could think of that Sebastian would want to give him that would require such precaution. Or was it just a miserable fact that Sebastian liked to give deadly presents. The ring came to mind and Ciel quickly forced it away.

Claude hummed as he spread out small piece of cloth on the table and opened the box. “You shouldn’t be afraid so much as respectful of it,” he answered and pulled out the first bullet that rested in the box. It was held up for Ciel to inspect and Claude nodded at it. “This is something new that Sebastian asked for, but the person who made it is highly qualified and knows Sebastian very well.”

The gloves were pulled on quickly, and Ciel gently took the offered bullet in his hands. “What is it?” He asked, knowing full well that it was a bullet, but curious as to its importance. It looked normal enough, nothing to deserve such care.

“Poison,” Claude answered, watching as Ciel examined the bullet. “From what I understand, they’re coated in a poison and the tip is filled with a small amount that will spread into the body once it’s inside. He asked for a box the day he picked up the fake ring and then asked me to give them to you.” For what reason, Claude wasn’t sure but he hadn’t bothered asking at the time. Not when Sebastian seemed so close to breaking.

Ciel frowned, not sure what to make of such gift. “Why are you just giving them to me now? You’ve sure taken your time in getting them to me.” It had been far too long since the whole incident, no matter how fresh it still was in Ciel’s mind. Shouldn’t this have been given as Ciel had sat within his room with Claude, Alois, and Finny as they’d planned out their rescue of Sebastian?

Claude hummed and plucked the bullet from Ciel’s hand, gazing at it for a moment before putting it back in its case. “Any number of reasons actually,” he admitted. “You weren’t in the right mental state at the time to accept such a thing, for starters. If Sebastian had died, then it would’ve been something to remember him by.”

That Ciel could not argue with. There was no telling how he would have used such a weapon when all else looked hopeless. He supposed that this was all for the better. "Why would Sebastian even think of getting me such a gift?" he wondered aloud, doubtful that Claude could have that answer.  

The older male shrugged. “He never told me why, but it is a deadly weapon either way. If the bullet doesn’t kill you, the poison will, making the victim feel lucky until they start going crazy.” The gloves were removed and the box was shut. “His way of giving you an edge over the person you were targeting. Trying to protect you even when he wasn’t there to do so.”

Ciel eyed the box with caution, not sure if he trusted himself with such a deadly weapon. Those bullets could easily turn dangerous for him as they were to his enemies if he wasn’t careful. “He didn’t have to get these for me,” Ciel whispered, making no move to take the box.

Claude grunted. “But he did and he did so because he was concerned for you.” He looked to the side, avoiding Ciel’s eyes. “It’s obvious you two care for each other. I’ve seen how both of you act when you think you’ve lost the other and it’s rather disturbing. You two are so entwined together that one can’t exist without the other. There is no Sebastian without Ciel, and Ciel can’t exist without Sebastian. As such, you’re staying alive not only for yourself, but for Sebastian as well; and vice versa.”

“You sound awfully spiteful over that. Does it bother you that much that we care for one another?” It was an honest question. Ciel couldn’t understand why Claude talked as if it were truly such a distasteful thing. Surely it wasn’t so bad. Didn’t Claude have a similar relationship with Alois?

“I’m not spiteful,” Claude answered and finally turned to look at Ciel. “I’m just letting you know how much your actions can affect the other. You two can’t go running around and making foolish choices, only thinking of yourself when those actions can hurt the other in the end. What happened last month only shows how dangerous your relationship can be in this line of work.”

Ciel said nothing. What could he say to something like that. It was the truth, but it made him irritated to have to hear it from Claude. Ciel didn’t need this, but it was something he had to face regardless. “It won’t happen again,” Ciel said quietly, but in truth he did not know if they would not face similar hardships in the future.

Claude nudged the box towards Ciel. “It may, it may not. It all depends on what you learn from your past and use it to plan for the future,” Claude answered and he paused, collecting his thoughts before moving forward again. “You need to take a step back and truly think about what you want for your future; where Sebastian stands in that future.” It was cruel, but Claude couldn’t stand the thought of losing Sebastian because of another mistake like this.

A frown settled across Ciel’s face but he did not stop Claude as he left the room. The box sat innocently on the table but Ciel couldn’t bring himself to collect it. His studies were forgotten, his thoughts on other things. Claude’s words had not sat well with Ciel and he didn’t want to think of what they could mean. There was no way that Ciel was even going to entertain the idea of stepping away from the relationship that he and Sebastian had. Ciel’s future was always intertwined with Sebastian’s, and nothing was going to change that.

“My future is with Sebastian,” Ciel said out loud, committing it to verbal truth. “It’s not my future, it’s ours... Both of ours.” This was not something Ciel could decide for himself. Wherever he went from here, it would be his and Sebastian’s decision to take those steps, and they would do it together.

With his mind made up, Ciel stood and gathered the small wooden box. His studies were forgotten, and he didn’t think of the scolding he was sure to get later in the day. For now he could only think of Sebastian, and the decisions that would soon need to be made.

----------

Sebastian’s fingers flexed and spread out, enjoying the new found freedom after being in a cast for over a month. He touched his thumb with each finger, making sure he had proper coordination over them before lifting up his arm. It felt weak compared to the other one and Sebastian frowned at how quickly it grew tired after holding it up for a short period. There was no way it could hold a gun right now.

He flinched as Will grasped his arm, cold fingers wrapping around warm skin. “You’ll need to come in every other day for physical therapy so you can strengthen your arm properly without straining it and work on its flexibility.”

“When can I start?” Sebastian asked, disliking the weak feeling. It made him feel vulnerable. “I want proper use of both arms as soon as possible.”

Will smacked him on the head with the clipboard. “You better not be thinking of your libido, or I’ll put you right back into that cast.”

Sebastian scowled. “I was thinking about training, but now I’m thinking about strangling you as soon as I’m strong enough.”

“Charming,” Will said dryly and moved away from Sebastian. “I’ll make sure to sleep with one eye open.” He glanced at the door as it opened, his eyebrow arching slightly as Ciel stepped in silently.

“Can I come in?” Ciel asked cautiously, seeing the look Will had aimed at him. His eyes slid quickly to Sebastian and hoped that he would be invited in soon lest he stand in the doorway all evening. The box of poison bullets was held firmly under his arm and hidden by the door. He didn’t need Will inquiring about them.

Sebastian stood up. “We’re done here,” he stated and moved away from Will, tossing the man one last glare before walking past him.

The older male reached out and grabbed his shoulder, fingers tightening briefly in a warning. “Remember what I said. Nothing too strenuous or I’ll put the cast back on.” His fingers slid away. “Tomorrow your therapy starts.”

Sebastian scoffed and flicked Will off before moving to the door. Ciel stepped to the side, allowing him to pass, and Sebastian closed the door behind him. “You finished your studies faster than I thought. Grell let you leave early?”

Ciel shifted uncomfortably. “Well not exactly,” he said lowly as they traveled down the hall. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Grell was hunting him down as they spoke or had already gone to tattle to Tanaka. Ciel suspected he would be put under lock down tomorrow until he finished whatever heaping stack of work he was given. All that Ciel could hope for was that he would sleep tonight. The nightmares were still prevalent, and when they occurred, they tended to keep Ciel awake all night.

The older male cocked his head. “You escaped then,” he said with a chuckle and leaned down to press a kiss to Ciel’s temple. “I must be a bad influence if you’re escaping your studies.” He smirked and pulled Ciel closer to him, his fingers brushing over the box that the younger male held, and Sebastian stiffened slightly.

Ciel pushed back, pressing the box to Sebastian’s chest. “I left because of this,” he said, his lone eye serious. “Why would you leave only this for me? And leave Claude the deliverer.” A small frown settled on Ciel’s face and he waited to hear Sebastian’s own reasoning over the matter.

Sebastian fell silent and looked down at the box. It felt heavy in his hands, even though the items inside were so small. The day that Sebastian had picked up the box seemed so long ago that he had almost forgotten and he glanced back up at Ciel. “I wanted to give you an edge,” he said. “And it wasn’t the only thing I left for you; I left you plenty more, but that was for later.”

“I don’t know what to do with them,” Ciel finally said, not wanting to bring too much of the past back up. It wasn’t something that they needed to think over, not now. “I’m afraid I’ll end up poisoning myself.” He laughed and drew further from the box, eyeing it uncertainly.

A small frown formed on Sebastian’s face and his shoulders slumped slightly. “I had hoped that you would be able to use them, that they would’ve helped you and make you stronger.” His grip tightened, knowing that his last attempt at helping Ciel had failed and he felt a little miserable. “What should I have given you?”

Ciel just smiled and shook his head. “Forget it. I’m glad you gave them to me. Hopefully I’ll find a reason to use them. Thank you.” He finally reached back for the box, not wanting to seem unappreciative, knowing that he had complained enough as it was. There was still one question on Ciel’s mind, and he hoped to use it to draw Sebastian from the suddenly somber mood he had fallen into. “But I have to ask, where did you get them?”

“You don’t have to take them. I can get you something else,” Sebastian commented, his mind already racing and trying to think of another present that would suffice. “And I got them from an old friend, who is actually rather anxious to meet you. She made them for me at my request.”

The box was pulled tighter to Ciel’s chest. Sebastian wasn’t getting them back. “Should I want to meet this person?” He asked cautiously, not knowing if he should be apprehensive or not. Vaguely he remembered Claude making an unsettling comment about the mysterious individual, and Ciel wasn’t sure what to believe.

Sebastian chuckled slightly. “I don’t think you have a choice. She’s rather adamant about it and she’s someone that I respect.” He brushed a piece of hair out of Ciel’s hair. “But she’s harmless. To us at least.”

Somewhat put at ease, Ciel relaxed and gave in. “I suppose I have little choice in the matter. Least I could do is say thank you for making these, I guess.” He looked down at his box, and thought of just what power was held inside. It was slightly unnerving, but they were harmless so long as they stayed locked away.

A low hum left Sebastian’s mouth and he started walking again. “So long as you’re okay with them.” His fingers reached for Ciel’s, squeezing them lightly. “I just want you happy, no matter what.”

It was then, for the first time, that Ciel actually noticed the lack of a cast on Sebastian’s arm. He stopped once more, and examined the hand and arm that held onto him, seeing it well and reformed once more. It no longer looked like the twisted root of a tree that Ciel remembered it to have been at one point in time.

“Your cast is off,” he whispered, stating the obvious. A moment to allow this information to fully sink in, and Ciel was smirking like the cat that ate the canary.

Sebastian wiggled his fingers. “It is. No more keeping you away from me in the middle of the night.” He smirked and pulled Ciel closer, their bodies pressed flush against each other. “And now that both hands are free, think of everything that I can do to you.”

Ciel laughed. “Although preferably you don’t do it in the hall. I’d rather not get caught just yet. I’m already getting a lecture today, I’m sure of it.” He pressed into Sebastian despite his words, his free hand cupping Sebastian’s hip.

“I can manage to wait until we get to the bedroom,” Sebastian murmured, his head lowering to capture Ciel’s lips in a heated kiss. Will’s warning was ignored as Sebastian’s hips bucked lightly into Ciel’s, letting him know what exactly waited for them back in their room.

Hands pushed against Sebastian, and Ciel broke the kiss quickly before it could escalate. He wanted this so badly, more so than he was willing to admit to himself, but there had been a bigger reason as to why Ciel had forsaken his work to seek Sebastian out. “Tonight... We’ll do this tonight,” he promised and stepped a safe distance away from Sebastian. “But for now, we need to talk.”

Sebastian’s head cocked slightly. “We do?” He asked, feeling a sense of dread rush over his body. Whatever Ciel wanted to talk about, it was serious and Sebastian’s mind raced, wondering what was on the younger males mind. After everything that had happened over the past month or so, it was possible that Ciel had changed his mind about the family and wanted out. The thought made Sebastian stiffen slightly and he forced himself to stay still. “What’s on your mind?”He asked, voice guarded and careful.

Ciel looked around and quickly shook his head. “Not here. It can wait till we get back to our room.” He took Sebastian’s hand, and led the way back down the lower level halls and towards the stairs. They moved to the main floor, and through the entryway rather quickly. Ciel wasn’t about to get caught, not now. The grand staircase was before them, and Ciel pulled Sebastian up onto the second floor.

“Hurry,” Ciel urged. “They’ll take me if I get caught. Grell won’t let me escape twice.”

Sebastian nodded numbly and allowed Ciel to pull him up the steps. Within moments, they were moving down the hallway and towards their room, making it into the room safely. If this was a conversation best heard in private, then Sebastian’s fears were confirmed and he felt as though a bucket of water had been tossed over his body.

As soon as the door was shut, Sebastian leaned against it, and his hand fell away from Ciel’s. “You’re leaving?” He croaked, his hand pressing against the door to keep himself grounded.

“What?” Ciel raised an eyebrow, and slowly placed his box of bullets on top of the dresser for safe keeping before turning to fully face Sebastian. “Why am I leaving?” He asked, not hearing the same questioning tone that had laced Sebastian’s words.

“Because of everything that happened,” Sebastian stated. “You don’t want to stay anymore and have to deal with everything.” The words were harder to speak than Sebastian’ thought possible, knowing that if Ciel left, there was a chance that Tanaka wouldn’t allow Sebastian to see the younger male.

Ciel would have to leave the country, start someplace new where the family didn’t have its reach so he would be safe and wouldn’t cause trouble. And that was somewhere Sebastian wouldn’t be allowed to visit. If Ciel left, Sebastian would once again take the place of family heir, and Tanaka wouldn’t allow him to follow Ciel.

There was a moment of silence where Ciel could only stare dumbly. When he spoke, his voice was flat and low. “Is that what you think this is about?” There was a timidness to his words that revealed just how unsure Ciel was becoming. He had not been expecting this. “You think I’m going to leave the family?”

“Or me,” Sebastian admitted, finally revealing the thing that had been plaguing his mind since waking up to find out that Ciel was still alive. They were thoughts that kept him awake at night as he lived that day over and over again, thinking about everything that he’d done wrong and how he had failed to protect Ciel. Thinking that Ciel’s trust in him was lost and the younger male wanted nothing more to do with him and the family.

“Be sensible, Sebastian. Have I been acting like a man about to turn his back on the man he loves?” Ciel questioned and moved closer to Sebastian. His hands reached out and cupped Sebastian’s cheeks and pulled him down to deliver a quick kiss upon his lips. “All I wanted to talk about was our future, together, and within this family... Our family.” Another kiss was given, and Ciel lingered there longer to savor the feel of Sebastian’s lips against his own.

Sebastian trembled against Ciel. “I’m sorry,” he murmured and gripped Ciel tighter. “You’re not the only one with nightmares when you sleep.” He pulled the younger male closer to him, closing his eyes and pressing his forehead against Ciel’s.

Ciel’s head buried into Sebastian’s chest. “You worry too much,” he whispered, but Ciel, too, was feeling the weight of the fears that they both seemed to share. It wasn’t easy to go through life trying to push past such things, and to pretend that such dark times had never overshadowed them. Ciel wished for it all to disappear, but the consequences of such a thing were far too great. It would indeed lead to Ciel leaving the family and Sebastian altogether, and he could not bear that.

Fingers ran through Ciel’s hair. “I worry because I love you,” Sebastian muttered and felt his legs buckle slightly, and he lowered them to the ground. Relief spread through his body, knowing that Ciel wasn’t leaving, but that alone wouldn’t stop the nightmares or thoughts that plagued him during the day.

The floor was hard beneath Ciel’s knees, but he made no attempt to move. Instead he smiled gently and threaded his fingers through Sebastian’s hand and gave it a light squeeze. “May I now discuss with you what I had wanted? And will you promise to stop assuming such ridiculous things.” The last part was added to tease and to ease Sebastian’s still tense muscles.

Sebastian nodded but didn’t say anything more on the subject, choosing instead to nudge Ciel away so they could stand up. The floor wasn’t comfortable and it would be better to have such a discussion on a comfortable surface, such as the bed or the chairs. He led Ciel to the other side of the room, deciding to sit on the bed where he could lean against the headboard and relax a little more.

It didn’t take long for Ciel to scramble up the mattress and lay upon his stomach, head resting on his folded arms as he watched Sebastian intently. Nothing was said, and Ciel was merely waiting for some form of acknowledgement to continue. Sebastian looked content to just lay there, and perhaps fall asleep. Ciel surely hoped that that would not be the case.

With a small grunt, Sebastian reached forward and tugged on Ciel’s shirt, pulling him up so the younger male’s torso rested on his lap. He wanted the contact between them and ran his fingers through Ciel’s hair before leaning back slightly to look at Ciel. “What about our future?” He asked.

The position was awkward, and not the most decent, but Ciel had long since grown comfortable with every aspect of Sebastian. Lying between Sebastian’s legs, his face pressed into a hard abdomen as Ciel’s chest rested in the center of Sebastian’s hips, was nothing more than a typical situation between them. He could only look up with his lone blue eye and smile up at the man he loved.

“Things won’t ever be the same.” It was Ciel who finally broke the pregnant silence. He needed to speak this out. To figure out where everything was headed, and where they, as a couple, would end up when everything was said and done.

“I know,” Sebastian answered softly. “What’s on your mind?” He asked and ran his thumb over Ciel’s cheek. He would listen for now, let Ciel speak until his point was made, then Sebastian would answer. For now, this was Ciel’s time, and Sebastian would honor that.

It didn’t take long before Ciel replied, his words hurried. “I don’t know were to go from here. I can’t, and will not, allow what happened to us to happen again. What happened then...It was not something I thought I’d ever go through. I was naive to think that the things I did to others could never happen to me.” There was a pause, and Ciel breathed deeply, his nose assaulted with Sebastian’s clean scent. It calmed him, and eased the words from him. “I refuse to leave the family, and I will die before I leave you. One day I suppose I will be expected to take up Tanaka’s post as head of the family, but that seems so far away. What am I to do if I’m faced with losing my life once more, or worse you? I don’t want to live in fear, but...” And here Ciel trailed off, almost afraid of his next admission.

Taking a deep breath, he looked up into Sebastian’s clear garnet eyes and spoke with a strong voice. “I enjoy what I’ve done prior to this. It’s sickening to admit, but I enjoyed every man I have fallen. Every ounce of blood I’ve spilt was beautiful as it stained the dirty ground. It’s addicting, that high you get as you ruthlessly take someone’s life. As horrible as it is, I don’t want to give that up.” He laughed at the irony of it all. Truly, he was messed up, Ciel thought. It could all so easy lead back to another near death fiasco, but Ciel wanted to keep along the same road he had been walking for so long. That was what Ciel wanted to avoid; he wanted an alternative route that would allow him to indulge in his dark desire but still allow him the comfort of knowing he was safe from his past nightmares.

“But?” Sebastian prompted carefully. There was hesitation in Ciel’s voice and it sounded as though it was brought about from being scared of the outcome from such a conversation. The tone didn’t help to truly ease Sebastian’s mind, but he stayed silent nonetheless. Making a big deal about it now would only make Ciel balk even more when it came to the more difficult parts of his talk. He knew what Ciel was talking about now, but it was the future part that had Sebastian worried.

He knew that Ciel didn’t want to leave the family, but now it sounded like Ciel was looking to do something else within the family. Something that would be less dangerous but still could cause bloodshed. Such a thing was possible, but to do so, they would have to give up certain things they had enjoyed so much in the past.

Ciel sighed. “I just don’t know what to do.” It seemed rather hopeless. Ciel’s life seemed a jumbled mess, with so many uncertainties that it was driving him mad. He wished Sebastian would have all the answers, for he knew that he would be useless in digging them up for himself.

Sebastian sighed softly and ran his fingers through Ciel’s hair. “In order to live your life, you must always live in fear, but the amount is determined by your life. It’s human nature to fear things, and in our line of work, it’s something we can’t afford.” He felt Ciel slump against him, obviously not expecting such a blunt answer. “However, there are other things that you can do to enjoy the same bloodshed without so many risks.”

“That may be, but I’m not sure what it is I’m really after in all of this. I know what I should want, but I don’t exactly know what I really want... What I need in my life.” People expected so much of him, and now so much had changed. Ciel was no longer sure what he was capable of with his bum eye, and he wondered if he would ever be able to comfortably go out on assignments, even ones as simple as assassinations. His head buried itself into Sebastian, and Ciel felt as if he could take no more of this. Perhaps all the answers would come in time.

“It’ll come in time,” Sebastian said gently and let his fingers brush over Ciel’s face, feeling the soft skin under his fingers. “But know that I’ll be right next to you the whole time and no matter what, I’ll be there. Your rock and the thing that never changes even when everything else does. I’m not letting you go, Ciel.”

Ciel smiled. “Thank you,” he said, and began to lean up to claim a kiss. A knock on the door had him pausing halfway with a frown on his face. Trust someone to always interrupt them at the most inopportune times.

Sebastian shifted Ciel off his lap so they wouldn’t get in trouble before calling the person in. He frowned slightly when Tanaka entered and straightened up so he looked more respectful to the older man. They were still in trouble, and Ciel had already skipped his lessons, so he couldn’t imagine what sort of trouble they would get in now, having been caught in their room together.

“Tanaka, Sir,” he murmured, inclining his head.

Tanaka grunted and cocked his finger, gesturing for them to follow him. “This way, you two,” he stated and turned towards the door. “I have something I need to discuss with you in my office.”

This couldn’t be good. Ciel felt himself stiffen at the thought of what this could all mean. When he had ditched class, he had expected Grell to come charging in after him at some point, but to have Tanaka being the one to retrieve him made things all the worse. Not to mention it seemed that he had dragged Sebastian into all of this as well.

Quickly, he scrambled up to stand, inclining his head politely to Tanaka. “May I ask what this is about?” He asked, and hoped Tanaka would give some hint as to what awaited them.

“We have some pressing matters that we need to take care of,” Tanaka answered as they moved into the hallway. “Now that you two are better, there’s no need to put such a thing off any longer, and I’d like to approach this topic sooner rather than later.”

Well at least it didn’t seem like this had anything to do with Ciel playing hooky, but it still sounded far from good. Ciel’s whole body was tense as they walked along with Tanaka. Everything felt too familiar, and he felt anxious to think that Tanaka might be sending them out on assignment so soon. For Ciel it was far too soon, and he did not trust himself to act professionally just yet.

“What topic?” Ciel ventured cautiously, not wanting to overstep his boundaries. He had learned the hard way that just because he was the heir, that did not give him any more rights to question or defy Tanaka than anyone else had.

Tanaka shook his head. “Not now. I’ll tell you when we get to the office. It’s a sensitive subject, one that I don’t want to discuss out in the hallway.”

Sebastian’s eyebrow raised as he stayed silent. It was a subtle hint to stop asking until Tanaka told them and whatever it was about, it was too sensitive for the rest of the family to know about. There were a few things that came to mind, and Sebastian wondered if they were about to get another round of punishment.

Ciel, on his part, pouted but stayed silent as he followed Tanaka further down the hall and around some corners until they came to Tanaka’s office. The large wooden doors looked imposing, and Ciel felt his anxiety flare to its peak. Who knew what was waiting for them beyond them, and it set him on high alert. Whatever Tanaka wanted to talk about, it did not bode well with Ciel. He eyed Sebastian, hoping that the man could give some comfort. It was given with a light squeeze of Ciel’s hand, and he steeled himself as they moved into the room.

The doors were pushed open, and they followed Tanaka inside, closing the doors behind them. Sebastian guided Ciel to a seat and stood behind him, a hand resting on his shoulder for comfort and support. Tanaka took his own place behind the desk and gazed at them silently for a while before finally speaking.

“I’m sure it hasn’t been on your mind as of late, but we have unfinished business with our enemy,” he stated. “For the past month, Joker has been staying in our holding cells below the mansion. We’ve been given free reign to do with him as we please. Obviously we want him dead, so there’s no question about his future. The only question now is how to go about it.”

“Is it safe for me to assume that either Ciel or I will deliver the final kill?” Sebastian asked, his eyes darting to Ciel.

Tanaka hummed thoughtfully. “It’s not fair to give one person all the honors of killing him, so it was decided that Sebastian would be allowed to torture Joker until he saw fit, and Ciel could deliver the final blow.”

This caused Ciel’s body to stiffen like a rod. His blue eye was wide and trained disbelievingly at Tanaka. There was no mistaking that Ciel wanted Joker dead. He wanted his body mangled and bloody, preferably thrown to rot in some dishonoring place of filth. Still, Ciel didn’t want it by his hands. It was a tempting offer, but he feared that he could not bring himself to face the man once more. Too many nightmares had been seen to his further fear and hatred, and all Ciel wanted was to be told Joker was dead and to know it was true.

“Why did you wait?” Ciel asked, voice uncharacteristically hostile. “Shouldn’t he have been killed the second he ceased to be of use? He does not deserve to live a second longer than needed.”

Tanaka shook his head. “I waited until you two were healed before allowing for such a thing. Neither of you would want to appear before Joker in a weakened state. For that purpose, I decided to wait until now.” He glanced at Sebastian. “Knowing Sebastian, the torture will draw out for a week or so, and by the time he’s done with the man, Joker will be begging for that final bullet.”

It was apparent to Ciel that Tanaka was not seeing the issue. It wasn’t that Ciel wanted to kill Joker off sooner himself, but had hoped that another would have done the deed. A part of Ciel wanted to see every minute that Joker suffered, and then be the one to drive a bullet through his head. That part, no matter how large, seemed overshadowed by a fear greater than Ciel himself. He feared not for Joker himself, but for the memories he stirred up and the nightmares he caused.

“Have Sebastian deal with him then. He isn’t worth my time.” Ciel tried to brush the issue off, covering it with smooth speech and woven lies. It wouldn’t do to allow Tanaka to see weakness within Ciel. Such a thing would only make the old man force Ciel into it all the more.

Sebastian glanced down at Ciel, his thumb sliding up to rub at the back of Ciel’s neck, trying to calm him down. A small part of his brain was understanding of why Ciel was having trouble accepting such a thing, but it was overridden by years of training in the family. It was the part that screamed to torture and kill Joker without hesitation and for a moment, Sebastian could understand why Ciel didn’t want the honor of killing the man. But it was promptly forgotten as his training took over.

“I can’t take that honor from you, Ciel,” he murmured lowly. “It was your plan that led to his capture and rescued me. Therefore, it’s your kill shot. You earned it.”

That had not been what Ciel needed to hear. Not when it was coming from Sebastian. He shot him a disbelieving look that had an edge of pleading to it. Screw if he had earned it or not. If he did not want it, then Ciel should not be forced to take it. But this family, this life, was all about honor, revenge and proving one’s self. There was no way out of this without losing face, and Ciel was not going to give either of these men reason to baby him. Ciel did not want that.

“I suppose I did earn it.” The spiteful tone seemed to go unnoticed, and Ciel slumped further into the chair, hoping to melt away and leave this world until this issue was resolved without him. It was unfortunate such wishes could not be granted.

The tone was ignored by Tanaka as the man turned his attention to Sebastian. “I’m allowing you whichever methods you would like to torture the man, provided you don’t kill him. I know you know your limits, but don’t let your hatred for this man override your common sense.” He leveled a harsh glare at Sebastian. “You are not to kill him.”

Sebastian tensed slightly before nodding. “Yes, Sir,” he answered and his thumb started to rub at the back of Ciel’s neck again.

When Tanaka turned to address Ciel, he stood quickly and turned from the man. Ciel honestly did not want to hear what Tanaka wanted to say. He didn’t want to hear what was expected of him, or anything to do with killing Joker. Ciel truly wished that he could do it. The hatred he felt for Joker was strong, but so was the fear that still seemed to overshadow him. It choked at Ciel and made him sick.

“Am I done here?” Ciel asked, already moving away from Tanaka and Sebastian.

Tanaka nodded, a small scowl on his face. “You two are dismissed. Sebastian, you can deal with Joker tomorrow after your therapy session.”

“Yes, Sir,” Sebastian answered and trotted after Ciel. He could see the stiffness in Ciel’s shoulders, and he waited until after they had left the room and the door was closed before reaching out to grab Ciel’s arm. “Ciel,” he called, turning the younger male around, wanting to see his face and find out what was wrong.

Ciel’s eyes were cast down to the floor, he refused to look at Sebastian. “What is it?” He asked, trying to rip himself aways from the tight hold. “I have things to do.” It was a lie, but it was all Ciel had at the moment. He wanted to be alone to sort everything out and come to terms with what he would have to do. It figured the man he wanted dead the most in the world, was the man Ciel could not face in order to kill. Fuck his life, he thought miserably.

“You’re lying,” Sebastian said softly. “The only thing you have to do is study, and I know that you don’t want to do that. Tell me what’s wrong so I can help you.” Right now, the worst thing for Ciel to do was to shut down and block Sebastian so he couldn’t offer help.

What could Ciel say? He knew right well that Sebastian wouldn’t understand. That was clear the moment he overlooked Ciel’s apprehension over the issue. Ciel believed it to be because of their different upbringings. This life Sebastian had been raised for, and it was no wonder that he dealt with things on a more even level than Ciel. For Ciel, what he had gone through was almost unthinkable. No one goes about their normal lives thinking about such things befalling them. Such things belonged to movies and unfortunately souls you see on the news, but it was never something a person would see happening to themselves. Call it narcissism, but even after Ciel was brought into the family, he believed his life was above such things. It had been a dangerous game, and treating it as such was Ciel’s dire mistake.

No matter how much Ciel wanted revenge for what Joker had done, he was afraid to take it. He feared what would become of him if he met Joker face to face and crumbled before the man as he sunk into the memory of reality past and the nightmares that plagued him at night. And Ciel feared, that if he did not succumb to his fears, that he might scare himself with the brutality he would show Joker as he stole from him his life in the most ruthless of ways. It frightened Ciel, and he could not walk forward into this with such uncertainty.

“I need to study, Sebastian. Let me go.” The look he shot Sebastian was short of seething. Ciel wrenched himself free and put himself out of range from being grabbed once more. He wouldn’t allow himself to be drawn in.

Sebastian winced slightly as he let Ciel walk away, feeling a small twinge of pain in his chest. It was obvious that something was wrong, but Ciel didn’t want to talk about such things with him. It hurt that the younger male didn’t want to confide in him, and Sebastian couldn’t figure out why Ciel was acting in such a way. He had expected the younger male to be excited to put the final bullet in Joker’s body after everything the man had done to them.

He hated letting Ciel go, knowing that they weren’t seeing eye to eye, but there was nothing Sebastian could do. The younger male wouldn’t talk to him, no matter how much Sebastian would try to coax the answers from him. It would only make them both frustrated and make things harder. He would try again tonight, hoping that this time he could understand what was bothering Ciel.

Ciel did not look back as he moved down the hallway, blindly going along without bothering to wonder about his destination. In reality it didn’t really matter, so long as he did not head back to his room. Sebastian would be there, Ciel had little doubt of that, and he did not wish to face Sebastian’s questioning gazes and remarks. Instead he walked until the aimlessness of his journey took its toll and he fell back into a wall, sliding down until he sat on the carpeted floors in a defeated heap.

“Shit,” he cursed. Ciel looked around himself seeing that he had somehow gotten back to the main floor and was just a corner away from the kitchens and dinning area. The thought of food did not settle well with him at the moment, and he stayed put, mind forcefully blank. Thinking about it would get him nowhere, so he pushed it all out and thought of nothing.

----------

[Part Two]

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Akiru chan

January 2012

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