Kuroshitsuji Fan Fiction ❯ Black Butler Requiem: Downfall ❯ Saviour ( Chapter 1 )
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I wonder how you sleep
I wonder what you think of me
If I could go back
Would you have ever been with me?
"And now, young Master..."
"...open your eyes."
*...leave me alone...*
"It's time to wake up now."
Ciel Phantomhive's eyes snapped open as if of their own accord, almost before he was even fully awake. He sat bolt upright in bed--in his own bedroom, surroundings that were familiar and should have felt perfectly safe--but something felt extraordinarily wrong about it. The disorientation he felt was so intense it frightened him, and almost before he realized it, he called out for the only source of stability he'd known in the last three years of his life.
He was immediately answered, the voice both near at hand and remarkably placid. "Do not distress yourself, young Master. As always, I am here, where I should be, at your side."
Ciel turned sharply, the sense of disorientation only intensifying as his butler--tall, black-clad, with a gentle half-smile on his flawless features--stepped into his field of vision. Rather than being reassured by Sebastian's presence, it only seemed to throw his own turmoil into sharper relief. Something was terribly wrong, and he couldn't understand what, or why, but his heart was thumping hard in his chest and his whole body was covered in a thin film of cold sweat.
"Se...Sebastian..." Ciel stammered, grasping for some semblance of control. He all but babbled nonsense, trying to shape random syllables into a coherent question, while Sebastian watched him with a look of mild..amusement?...in his crimson eyes.
It was the amusement, more than anything, that finally tore the question--the demand--from Ciel's lips. "What the bloody hell is going on?!"
He almost screamed the words, with such force that it made him abruptly dizzy. The room whirled and went a sudden misty gray. He felt himself falling, only to be caught in a pair of long, slender arms that were far stronger than they should be.
"Young Master!" The concern in Sebastian's voice was unmistakable, almost comforting, really. As he was settled back in the bed, Ciel heard his butler murmuring something about how rash and impulsive the young master was being, even for a child. He struggled to maintain awareness, muttering Sebastian's name, receiving an immediate answer. "I'm here, young Master." Gentle now, that velvety voice. "As I am sworn to be."
Ciel felt himself laid back upon the down-filled pillows of his bed, the coverlet drawn up over his legs with infinite care by white-gloved hands. "Rest now, young Master. Regain your strength. You have been ill for quite some time."
"...Ill?" Ciel forced his eyes open again, fighting to focus on retaining consciousness. He raised a shaky hand and rubbed his brow, feeling the slickness of sweat there. He was so confused still, unable to determine if what he was seeing or feeling was even real--
That was it.
Reality was out of joint, or seemed to be. His eyes should be burning, heightened by new awareness, his blood should be running cold, the nails of the hand he held up should be pitch-black--
He drew his hand from his face and stared at it, turning it from palm to back, and saw a perfectly ordinary and unremarkable hand. A human hand.
The butler straightened up. "Young Master?"
Ciel sat up in bed, new resolve giving him fresh strength. "Fetch me a mirror at once."
A puzzled look appeared on Sebastian's long face. "Sir, if I may be so bold...this is hardly the time to be fussing over your appeara--"
"Now." Ciel's tone brooked no argument, and he received none. With a brisk nod, Sebastian reached into the drawer of the nightstand and took out a round mirror the size of a dinner plate. Ciel snatched it from him and stared at his own reflection.
The face looking back at him was familiar, albeit pale and thinner at the cheeks than he remembered. The dark bangs were damp and stuck to the high white brow, and the eyes gazed back at him--one a dazzling blue, the other...
He reached a hand up to the cheek below his right eye, the one that bore the violet lines of the contract mark, the sigil burned onto his cornea three years ago by the touch of a demon who saved him from death, a demon who promised him revenge on his murdered parents, for his own violation, at the price of his soul.
The face looking back at him would be found attractive by most people, but was otherwise unremarkable. His eyes were not glowing red and slitted. His skin was not uniformly porcelain-pale. His parted lips revealed teeth that were perfectly even, with no evidence of fangs. Even if he couldn't trust his own feelings, the evidence he saw in the mirror was incontrovertible.
Ciel Phantomhive was not a newly-forged demon. He was--he remained--a human being. Apart from his marked eye, his was the face of a normal, well-bred thirteen-year-old English boy.
Another connection to reality seemed to break with an almost audible snap. Ciel had the sudden, intense dread that he had actually gone mad. The mirror slipped from his nerveless fingers and landed on the carpeted floor with a soft thump.
He drew in a long, shaky breath, closed his right eye, and laid his fingertips on the lid. "Sebastian...this is an order." He could feel his demon butler tense beside him, in preparation. "Tell me why I'm still alive."
He fixed a steady gaze on the man standing in front of him, who calmly proceeded to pour the tea--Earl Grey, by the smell of it. "It was a near thing, young Master. Having been shot, the resultant blood loss, falling into the Thames...you were barely alive when I got you to the hospital. You've been in a coma for over a month." Sebastian added sugar and a touch of cream to the cup, stirring briskly. "Fortunately for you, sir, there was a visiting physician specialising in a revolutionary technique called intravenous therapy. Using this method, you managed to receive nutrition even in your somnolent state." The silver spoon clinked quietly as Sebastian laid it on the tray. "By the time you were stabilised, the mansion had been rebuilt, and you were moved here. It was believed that familiar surroundings might speed your recovery." He picked up the cup and saucer and turned smoothly, taking a single step closer to the bed. You've been through a terrible ordeal, my lord, but it's over now." And he offered the tea to Ciel.
The Limoges cup was rudely slapped from his hands, spilling its contents on the expensive Turkish rug. Ciel swung his legs off the bed and fisted his hands in the disarrayed covers. "That's not what I meant, damn your eyes! I was a demon, Sebastian. How can I be human again?"
"A demon, my lord?" Sebastian looked genuinely amused. "An intriguing concept, but quite impossible, I assure you. You could no more become a demon than I could become truly human." His gaze turned thoughtful. "It must have been a very disturbing dream."
Sebastian nodded quietly. "The dreams of coma patients can be very vivid and convincing. Upon waking, there is bound to be a certain level of confusion. But rest assured, my lord--" Sebastian waved a hand about the bedroom, indicating the world beyond the curtained French doors--"this is reality."
Ciel took a moment to absorb the butler's words. Sebastian wouldn't--couldn't--lie to him, and his very tone carried the conviction of truth. "So. Alois Trancy. Claude. Hannah. All of it...everything that happened was just..." He trailed off, at a loss for words.
"A magic lantern show, Master." Sebastian bent down to retrieve the empty teacup and saucer. "The fever dreams of a troubled mind and nothing more."
Ciel searched his memories, reaching farther back in his perceptions of time. "What about...what about the boat, Sebastian? The island? The ruined castle. Were those just 'fever dreams' as well?"
Sebastian stood with the Limoges in his hands, his face solemn. "No, my lord. Those events transpired in a place that is not a place, and a time that is not a time." He set the cup and saucer back on the silver tray and fixed his master with a quiet stare. "Although it did not happen in this world, it was nevertheless quite real."
"So why am I still here?" Ciel demanded. "Why didn't you eat my soul?"
Sebastian's gaze dropped, and he knelt to dab at the spilled tea on the rug with his handkerchief. For a moment it seemed that he wouldn't answer, but before Ciel could order him to, he spoke. "The only answer I can provide at the moment, sir, is that it was not the appropriate time to terminate the contract."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Ciel scowled at him. "Sebastian, what kind of game are you playing at now?"
Sebastian rose gracefully to his feet, and a narrow smile played across his lips. "A game, young Master? It has always been my perception that you are most fond of games..."
The casual flippancy of the butler's tone--something that could almost be taken as insolence--enraged the young earl. Suddenly he despised the man--the demon--standing in front of him with every fiber of his being. "Get out."
The smile dropped off of Sebastian's face, replaced with a look of genuine puzzlement. "Sir?"
"Get out of my room. Get out of my sight." Ciel's voice shook with barely-contained fury. "When I want you, if I want you, I will summon you."
The placid mask dropped into place again, and Sebastian bowed deeply. "Very good, sir. Please get some rest. You should not attempt to get out of bed--"
"Shut up!!" The shout made Ciel's temples ache, but he didn't care. "Shut up and get the hell out of here now! Get out! Get out!!"
Sebastian laid a finger over his lips, turned away, and slipped out the door, closing it softly behind him.
The bubble of Ciel's temper burst, leaving him empty and drained. He dropped his face into his hands, his eyes burning now not with the fire of a demon's gaze, but with the effort not to shed sudden and unwelcome tears. Against his palms, he muttered, "Get out and leave me alone."