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Title: The Devil's Canvas
Chapter: 53 (part one)/56
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-Three


Bottles clinked against each other as they were set in the bag that rested on the floor. It had been one week since Joker's death, and Sebastian could only watch from afar as Ciel seemed to sink lower and lower.

There was a wall between them, ever since Ciel had woken up from the drunken stupor after killing Joker. Sebastian hadn't said anything after he finished cleaning Ciel up and chose instead to leave the room. It was obvious that the younger male didn't want him there, if the bruise on his jaw was any indication. And since that night, they had barely talked.

But the stench of alcohol had continued to grow until Sebastian decided that it was best just to remove all the drinks from the house. If Ciel wouldn't talk to him about his problem or even come back to him, then Sebastian would have to do the next best thing when it came to helping the younger male.

The last of the drinks were set in the bag and Sebastian closed the cabinet, hoping that this would work. He didn't know what else to do and the feeling of helplessness was creeping up on him again. He stood up and grabbed the bags, pushing the thoughts to the side as he left the kitchen, determined to hide the drinks from Ciel.

Ciel was silent as he watched from a darkened hallway. He wasn't stupid; he knew what Sebastian was doing and he couldn't help but agree with the action. Things had fallen around Ciel so quickly, slipping through his fingers to shatter on the unforgiving ground below. Joker's end had been meant to mark the beginning of Ciel's peace of mind, but it just all seemed to get worse.

The dreams continued, not as frequent or as violent, but they were there nonetheless. The alcohol no longer helped and seemed to only push Ciel to consume the substance desperately in the hopes that it would work just one time more. It was to no avail, but it did help to ease Ciel's mind on the growing distance between Sebastian and himself. He knew that he was to blame, but Ciel had allowed himself to be blinded to it for the week following Joker's death.

It was a slow realization, but Ciel reluctantly admitted to himself the problems he was facing. The alcohol being the biggest. Somewhere along the way it had become a habit, an addiction. Something wouldn't go right, or a nightmare plagued him, and Ciel would hit the bottle. Sebastian would push himself away and Ciel was ignoring the problem with a drink in his hand. How had it ever gotten so bad? Where had Ciel lost himself?

Joker's death was supposed to bring salvation, and it brought nothing but pain. The man seemed like an eternal curse, and Ciel could do nothing to be rid of it except...

Ciel moved quickly forward, following Sebastian with quick steps and caught up with him as he was heading towards the lower levels of the manor. "Sebastian," he called out unsurely, looking meek and uncertain. What Ciel was about to do, was one of the hardest things he had ever faced. It was never easy admitting you had a problem to the person you loved.

Sebastian paused and glanced over his shoulder at Ciel, his grip tightening on the bags in his hands. He wasn't going to stop for Ciel and would fight him if he had to in order to hide the drinks away. If Ciel wasn't going to let him help, then Sebastian would have to help in any other way he could. Even if it meant hurting the younger male in the process.

"I'm not stopping, Ciel," he said finally. "You can either fight me for them, to which you'll lose, or you can go back to the room and study. I know you hate me for doing this but I can't stand to see you like this, especially when you push me away." It hurt to think that Ciel would hate him for this when Sebastian was just trying to help, but it was better to have Ciel hate him then have him drunk all the time.

Ciel shook his head, looking rather guilty. "It's not that," he said softly. "You just missed a few bottles."

Sebastian frowned. "What do you mean?" he asked. He knew the cabinet was cleaned out and he had already searched the entire kitchen for any traces of alcohol. The only bottles that would be left were ones that Ciel had taken for himself and Sebastian felt himself scowling. "Where are they?" He demanded.

"The bedroom. I have three in the bathroom under the sink and behind the toilet paper and cleaners, and then a bottle of tequila behind my book in my nightstand." It felt good to admit to the hiding places and finally be removing the temptation away. He paused then, remembering he had missed one spot. "There's also a small bottle buried at the bottom of Alex's toy basket."

For a moment, Sebastian could only stare at Ciel before he waved the younger male away. "Go get them," he snapped, upset at Ciel for keeping so many bottles in the bedroom. And he was upset at himself, for not noticing them sooner and allowing Ciel to have access to so many. "You have two minutes, and I swear if I smell any alcohol on your breath when you get back, you won't like what happens."

Ciel nodded and left, moving quickly to complete the task at hand. They were collected easily enough and stuffed into a pillowcase that had been thrown into the dirty clothes for cleaning. It was a heavy load, most of the bottles being completely filled, but he made it back down to Sebastian easily enough.

The man was still waiting for him and Ciel managed a small smile. "This is all of them." Ciel offered the bag up before adding, "I promise." If any other bottles were hidden within the mansion, then it surely wasn't due to Ciel's doing.

Sebastian accepted the bag and found himself slightly surprised that the bottles were almost all full. At least Ciel hadn't resorted to these yet. And the fact that Ciel offered them up willingly was a good sign as well. But Sebastian didn't want to get his hopes up just yet. Just because Ciel had given up some hidden bottles didn't mean that things were instantly better between them.

"Go back to the room," he said and picked up the bags again, wanting nothing more than to stash them away where Ciel couldn't find them.

There was a moment where Ciel paused before following through with the order, he turned around slowly and stopped at the end of the hallways. "Sebastian," he called, not bothering to look back. "Thank you." And then Ciel was gone, hurrying through the entry way and up the flight of stairs as he headed quickly back to their bedroom.

Sebastian could only stare at the spot where Ciel was before turning back down the hallway. He didn't know what Ciel was up to and he could only hope that the younger male wasn't trying to lure him into a sense of false security in that he was getting better, only to go behind his back with the drinks.

He wanted to help Ciel and it hurt each time Ciel turned him away, but now Ciel would have to come to him. Because having Sebastian try to tackle the problem head on was only pushing Ciel further away. In the end, Sebastian had to force himself to step away and put space between them while trying to protect Ciel from afar. And he could only hope that now, things would be different.


Ciel laid on the bed, Lexi asleep at his side and Soot curled on his stomach. His own eyes were closed but he was very much awake. Every sound was listened to attentively as Ciel tried to catch Sebastian's approach. Within his chest, Ciel's heart thrummed wildly, and he tried to calm it but to no avail.

Its speed only increased as Ciel caught the approach of footsteps and he easily identified them as Sebastian's. There was little mistaking the man's walk. Quickly he moved Soot to lay next to Alex and Ciel inched himself to sit at the edge of the bed just as the door to the room swung open.

Sebastian's eyes instantly scanned the room and settled quickly on Ciel. He was pleased to see the younger male in the room and would never admit aloud that he had been worried Ciel would be gone when he came back, out searching for the alcohol's hiding place. He shut the door behind him and moved further into the room.

"You have something on your mind," he stated, knowing that there was no need to question it. Ciel had that look on his face as though he wanted to ask him but Sebastian wasn't going to push further than that.

Ciel did not hesitate as he leveled a serious look upon Sebastian. "I need help," he said evenly, even though his stomach was turning due to his nerves. It was now or never that this problem was addressed, and Ciel knew that it was up to him to broach it and to fix this mess he had started.

Sebastian blinked, not expecting those words from Ciel's mouth. But they weren't unwelcomed and Sebastian found his shoulders slumping in relief. "What do you need help with?" He asked, wanting Ciel to admit what the problem was. "Your studies?"

"No," Ciel snapped, but not with any real bite. "I have..." He paused, not sure if he actually wanted to say it. It was clear Sebastian knew what Ciel had meant by the look he was currently being given. This was all just some twisted form of punishment, Ciel was sure of that. Swallowing, he gathered his pride and courage. "I have a drinking problem." It was all said smoothly, but Ciel still felt silly for it. He sounded like a teen admitting such a thing to their parent, not their lover.

Sebastian's hand rose and he waved Ciel over. He waited until Ciel was standing in front of him before pulling the younger male closer and embracing him tightly, burying his nose into Ciel's hair. This was what he wanted to hear and such words had never sounded sweeter. "Let me help you," he said softly. "Because I love you and will never turn you away, no matter what you may think or fear. Never doubt that," Sebastian breathed, his hands coming up to cup Ciel's cheeks.

Fist curled into the back of Sebastian's shirt pulling him closer so Ciel could hide himself all the more into the strong embrace. "I'm so sorry," Ciel breathed shakily as he tried to push back the tears. It was overwhelming to hear Sebastian say such loving and powerful words. It left Ciel to wonder how he had ever forsaken that knowledge. How stupid he had truly been.

With a small grunt, Sebastian lifted Ciel up and carried him back to the bed before sitting down. Ciel was set in his lap and he pulled the younger male closer to him, running his hands all over Ciel's body; through his hair, up and down his back, and over his sides. Anything that let the younger male know that Sebastian was there for him and still cared for him.

"I don't know what I'm doing, Sebastian," Ciel said after a moment, his left hand reaching out to take hold of Sebastian's. He held on tightly and kept his face buried. "How did I ever lose myself so completely?"

"You were scared," Sebastian answered and held Ciel tightly. "And it's okay to be scared, so long as you don't try to keep your fears to yourself all the time." He was a hypocrite for saying such words as he refused to let Ciel know about his own fears, but this wasn't about him. It was about Ciel and Sebastian was going to help the younger male any way he could and worry about his own problems later.

Ciel nodded, knowing that Sebastian was speaking nothing but the truth. He had been utterly terrified, and even more scared to have Sebastian see how weak he had become. Somewhere along the line, Ciel had led himself to believe that Sebastian would not understand; that no one could understand. But it was past that point, and Ciel knew that he had already plainly shown how weak he had become thanks to the alcohol. Now it was the time to show Sebastian just how strong he could be as he fought through this with Sebastian's help and look forward to tomorrow where he could learn to live sober once more.

"Thank you," Ciel said once more, knowing he would never be able to say it enough. He finally brought his head up, and looked up at Sebastian. Moving forward, Ciel brought himself closer to Sebastian's lips, whispering a tender 'I love you' before kissing the man he had missed so intimately. It felt good to let himself go like this, and to be able to feel Sebastian's body so hot and comforting against him.

"I love you, too," Sebastian murmured when they broke apart. It felt good to be able to hold Ciel like this again when just last week the younger male had been practically untouchable. But now, it felt like everything was falling back into place and while Sebastian knew that it would be a while before anything felt normal and right again, they were starting back on the right path. "Promise me that you'll come to me if you need anything. No matter how silly it may be."

That wasn't something Ciel need to think twice about. "I'll come to you, promise." It would be hard, he knew that. Coming to Sebastian would be even more difficult; especially when Ciel worried that he would disappoint or worry Sebastian. He couldn't think that, not when the alternative was pushing Ciel down a path that neither Sebastian nor himself wanted to walk along ever again. Even now there was a need to drink as Ciel's mind cleared further from the alcohol he had consumed the night before, and he swallowed down the urge and thought of Sebastian. For once, there weren't any nightmarish thoughts plaguing him and Ciel felt truly at peace.

Sebastian hummed happily and leaned back on the bed, pulling Ciel with him. They fell onto the soft mattress and Sebastian's arms tightened as Ciel's body draped over his. It was a comforting feeling and was something that they hadn't done in weeks. Usually their nights were spent lying next to each other, but barely touching as the wall formed between them. Neither wanting to talk about the problem Ciel had, not when the younger male was so tight lipped about it.

"I missed this," Ciel mumbled tiredly. He had missed all of this. It was simple and it was mundane, but it was what Ciel needed right now. He needed the quiet lull of a normal life, and right now this was the closest Ciel would get. Things would begin moving once more soon, but Ciel would not think about that. Ciel would not think of the uphill battle he would be facing or the consequences he would face because of his actions. The only saving grace was that Tanaka had stayed blissfully unaware of Ciel's addiction.

Tanaka had been busy as of late, and after Joker's death Sebastian had simply informed Tanaka that Ciel had taken ill. In some respects it had been true. Ciel had been sick, mentally sick, but sick nonetheless. As far as Ciel knew, Tanaka had not seen anything amiss and he hoped for it to stay as such.

"Then we have a lot to make up," Sebastian answered and ran his fingers through Ciel's hair. It was soft under the pads of his fingers and Sebastian found his eyes closing at the simple feeling. "Tomorrow, we'll go for a long walk to help strengthen your leg some more and the fresh air will be good for you." It was something simple that would keep Ciel's mind busy and at the same time, allow them to spend time together.

That sounded nice and Ciel hummed his consent. "Finny planted some new flowers... I think." He frowned but found that he couldn't be sure. It was only another example of how bad Ciel had fallen. The days had become nothing but a jumble of scenes that Ciel could often times not separate from fantasy and reality. For all Ciel knew, he could have dreamed up Finny's new garden while in a drunken stupor.

A small chuckle left Sebastian's throat and he rolled them over so he could curl against the younger male. "If not, we can ask him to plant one. He'll like doing something like that." He pressed a soft kiss to the tip of Ciel's nose, laughing at the disgruntled look Ciel gave him.

"That's not the point." Once more Ciel was burying his face into Sebastian's chest. "It scares me just how much of my life I've lost and don't remember. I'm not sure what was real and what was my drunken mind." Cold fingers poked through the space between two buttons of Sebastian's shirt and tickled the heated skin underneath. It helped to ease Ciel's mind.

"Ciel," Sebastian breathed and watched as Ciel continued to explore his body. The touches were soft and gentle; as though the younger male was scared he was dreaming now. "Things will be better now. We'll fill in those blank spots with better memories."

That sounded good, Ciel thought. He would give the world to be able to overshadow each painful memory with pleasant times. They would have a long way to go to accomplish that, and Ciel himself had a lot of growing and maturing to do. Ciel knew that more than ever. No longer could he live in the naive bliss that he had allowed himself to fall into. Life wasn't all fun and games, and this was his life, no matter how dark and dangerous it was. Ciel needed to learn respect for this world and grow into the man that this family needed to lead it one day.

Sebastian tilted Ciel's head up and pressed his lips softly to Ciel's, hoping to create one of those better moments now. The next few months would be hard, that much Sebastian knew. He would have to keep an eye on Ciel to make sure the younger male wasn't hitting the bottle but at the same time, he would have to watch without being too overprotective. It was a fine line, but one Sebastian was willing to walk for Ciel.

They broke apart and Sebastian placed one last kiss on Ciel's forehead. "It's getting late," he murmured.

Ciel stiffened then, knowing what that would mean. It was time to sleep, and with sleep came the nightmares that had started this all. Tonight would be the first night in a long while that Ciel would allow himself to close his eyes for bed while being sober. He wasn't sure if he could make it through the night. Feeling desperate for comfort, Ciel clung to Sebastian for a moment before reluctantly removing himself to gather his pajamas and getting ready for bed.

"Sebastian?" Ciel asked quietly, back turned to the man. "Hold me tonight... Promise?"

Sebastian paused and looked up from where he was getting ready for bed. The tone Ciel spoke in tore at his heart and he nodded, even though Ciel couldn't see him. "Promise," he said softly and held out his hand towards the younger male, inviting him to bed with the promise of holding him throughout the night.

Being back in Sebastian's arms felt like no other, and he allowed himself to be drawn back to bed. The covers fell over them like a secure cocoon, making everything feel all the safer. Feeling a kiss being placed upon his head, Ciel let himself drift off into sleep, hoping that when next he woke he would be within the arms of the man he loved and feeling the peace he had almost forgotten.




((Part Two))

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Akiru chan

January 2012

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