a candle, blown out

There is one night — not the first, but close to it — when Ciel asks, “Is that just someone’s skin you’re borrowing, while you’re under contract with me? Did you make it up, or was it real before you came along?” He reaches out with both hands, the sleeves of his nightshirt hanging too-wide and low on his skinny arms. His fingertips stop just short of Sebastian’s chest. “How real are you, Sebastian?”

Sebastian covers Ciel’s hands with his own and folds them into fists. “I’m real enough for your purposes,” he says. His smile draws all the shadows in the room until the white of his teeth gleam in comparison. Even through his gloves his fingers are cold enough to make Ciel’s bones ache. “See?”

Ciel looks. Sebastian holds him loosely, but there is no way he could simply twist his way free. His left eye throbs, the lines of the seal still fresh enough to be tender when exposed to the air. He’s still not entirely used to the change in depth perception, but the peculiar double-vision he has when the eyepatch comes off is stranger still. It makes the entire world spin just a little out of focus, and Sebastian is the only thing he can clearly see.

“Does your head hurt, my lord?” Sebastian asks politely. He lets go of one of Ciel’s hands and covers the sealed eye with his gloved palm. The contact is blessedly cool, and Ciel leans into it fractionally. “If you lie down, you’ll feel better.”

Ciel licks his lips. He lies back at the pressure of Sebastian’s hand and raises his own, pressing his thumb to the thin strip of skin exposed between Sebastian’s glove and sleeve, which is cold and strangely textured, like old leather stretched tight over a thin frame. Sebastian moves with and leans over him, with that same bright smile and allows it until Ciel slides his fingertips up, just underneath the glove. The ache in his eye flares at that, deepening into a stabbing pain. Something catches in his throat, an anticipation he doesn’t quite understand that makes his skin itch and his belly twist.

“Ah-ah,” says Sebastian. He catches Ciel’s wrist and gently pulls it away before pressing it down to the bed. The pressure in Ciel’s eye immediately lessens. “I doubt you’re old enough for that yet, my lord.”

“But old enough to make a deal with?” Ciel leans his head back against the pillows. “How is one different from the other?”

Sebastian chuckles. He runs a finger down the curve of Ciel’s cheek, then follows the soft line of jaw to the point of his chin. His thumb brushes against Ciel’s lower lip. “Not so different,” he agrees. “But you’re very tired still from the initial binding, Master Ciel. It wouldn’t do for you to exhaust yourself this early on, now, would it.” He lets go and pulls away; his fingers have left phantom impressions of cold upon Ciel’s skin.

“Perhaps another night,” he says. He reaches for a lamp and dims it; the last thing that fades from sight is his smile, a cheshire-cat smirk that gleams. “Sleep well, my lord.”

Ciel watches him open the door, the long lean shape of him briefly limmed in the doorway and looking back. He sees two pinpoints of red flare and die away. “Sebastian–”

“Shhhh,” Sebastian admonishes, then closes the door and is gone.

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