Title: Veritas Diaboli Manet in Aeternum
Rating: R (bordering on NC-17)
Characters/Pairings: Agni, Soma, Sebastian, and Ciel; Sebastian/Agni (Arshad).
Warnings: AU. Vaguely explicit sexually content.
Word Count: 16,381
Author’s Note: Continued from the last post. Part 1
“Open your eyes, Mr. Agni.”
Agni followed the instructions without hesitation, without second thought, as if Sebastian had momentarily taken hold of his body with his lilting voice and charming demeanor.
It didn’t surprise him much when he found himself standing in Sebastian’s quarters; he wondered, briefly, if his subconscious had been expecting this to happen all along. Agni was aware of how closely the scene mirrored the last time he’d been in Sebastian’s dim-lit room; he was still dressed in a tunic, his hair was still tousled, and he could still see the tailcoat resting elegantly on the bed. But unlike before, he was standing so close to Sebastian that they were all but sharing the same breath. Somewhere deep in his psyche, Agni knew that none of it was real. (If he focused hard enough, he could still feel his knee pressed against the jade green armchair of the parlor room and his right hand balled into a tight fist.)
But when Sebastian slipped a gloved hand around his neck and arched his lithe body against Agni’s, pressing their hips together and making no mistake as to what he was alluding to, the walls of what was real and what was fantasy collided and left Agni breathless. He recoiled purely on instinct, his mind numb; he tried to pull away, but Sebastian snaked the hand from his neck to his shoulder and pushed him down onto the bed, smiling invitingly when their gazes met.
Agni scrambled backwards with uncharacteristic clumsiness, elbows wrinkling the bed sheets, a leg shooting out to kick Sebastian’s tailcoat off the bed. Sebastian clicked his tongue once and shook his head, frowning as he swept the coat into his arms.
“Do be more careful, Mr. Agni,” he chided, arranging the tailcoat carefully onto his nightstand. “I take great pains to keep my uniform in order.” But Agni was hardly paying attention. He was fumbling with the bed sheets that were holding him down (irrational; he wasn’t even tangled in them) with his mind plunging forward and reeling backward second after second as he tried to make sense of what was happening. He could hear himself stammering something, only he couldn’t make out what he was saying because his voice sounded far away and Sebastian was staring down at him and that look in his eyes wasn’t making things easier and—
Agni finally understood himself; he fell silent and glanced away. He was stammering in Hindi—switching between English and Hindi had become a nervous habit of his since coming to Europe. Sebastian chuckled very softly, but the sound was amplified by the blood pounding in Agni’s temples. He passed a hand over his forehead, his fingers slipping on the cold, feverish sweat. For a moment Agni couldn’t remember how to switch back over to English.
He opened and closed his mouth twice before successfully getting the words out, his effort doubled. “What are you doing?” he fumbled through awkwardly; his accent was more profound, his voice hoarse with uncertainty.
But Sebastian didn’t respond. A smirk appeared on his elegant face, which Agni supposed was answer enough. Sebastian’s gaze raked down Agni’s profile like a flame trailing dangerously close to his skin, making his body burn wherever it touched. It lingered for a moment too long on his leg, and Agni realized with flushed cheeks that his tunic had been pushed up far enough for his leg to be put on uncomfortable display.
He reached out on instinct pull down the tunic (when he really should have been trying to get off the bed and make a break for the door), but Sebastian put his knee between Agni’s legs, putting his full weight against the cloth to keep it from budging even an inch.
“Leave it,” Sebastian said simply. His voice was level and had not lost its dignified lilt—if anything, it sounded that much more rich and cultured—and it occurred to Agni that Sebastian was, as always, in perfect control of the situation, even when he shouldn’t have been. His hands were fixed on either side of Agni’s hips, not quite touching, but close enough to be a distraction. Sebastian was hovering over him, grinning now, looking—not frightening or gruesome, like how demons were supposed to be—but attractive, fiercely and undeniably attractive. He couldn’t be a demon, never a demon, not this sophisticated and excruciatingly flawless butler who should have been a gentleman instead.
—and just what was he thinking? This wasn’t right; it was all wrong, very wrong. He’d forgone all this a long time ago, locked up these sinful desires and thrown away the key (or at least thought he had, because now the key was trapped between Sebastian’s gleaming white teeth) and devoted himself to…
Sebastian swung his other leg over the bed in one fluid motion; he seated himself on top of Agni, straddling his waist with both knees pressed into the mattress.
Wrong, wrong, wrong. “I— You… This…” His train of thought had shattered into a million of pieces, too small to be put back together. The back of Agni’s neck prickled like someone had just raked a hot needle against his skin. He was forgetting something too important, too obvious. He closed his eyes and shook his head in an effort to clear it; he could feel it there, on the tip of his tongue, he just had to…
Sebastian shifted enough to be a maddening distraction and Agni’s eyes flew open, locking onto deep scarlet that was daring defiance and amusement all rolled into one. His mind went blank at the sheer intensity of Sebastian’s gaze, and he could feel the something on the tip of his tongue slip away. Agni reached for it, threw out his right hand and tried to take it back, but Sebastian was there—always there—and flicked his hand away, letting it fade far beyond recall.
He realized, as the sensation of needle against skin dulled, that he had to move. Agni tried to sit up so his back wasn’t against the mattress, but Sebastian would not budge. With much effort, Agni managed to slide himself up just enough so his back was to the wall—but the movement had caused more unnecessary contact between them, and Agni desperately tried not to focus on just what he had brushed against. (And the threads of his self-control were rapidly becoming undone, one after another…)
Sebastian’s expression hardened just the slightest bit; he leaned forward and started intently into Agni’s pale eyes. His breath crept across Agni’s nose, his mouth, and he could almost taste the peppermint lacing Sebastian’s cool breath; the fingers of Agni’s right hand twitched.
What was he still doing here?
“Do you take me for a fool?” Sebastian inquired, almost coldly. His gaze was probing and unrelenting. “Did you think I would not notice?”
Agni tilted his mouth away from Sebastian’s (lest he do something he would end up regretting). He moistened his dry lips, tried to force some sound into his uncooperative throat. “Notice?” he forced.
“It’s amazing how much a single glance can give away,” Sebastian remarked, tilting his head to the left, raising an eyebrow. He was smiling charismatically, alluringly. Agni stiffened, nails pressed into his palm as he looked away. “How long has it been since you’ve harbored these thoughts about me, Agni? They torture you, don’t they?”
“N-Not at all!” Agni sputtered earnestly. He shook his head and held his hands up apologetically as emphasis to further prove his point. “It’s nothing like that! I never meant to—”
Agni broke off midsentence when Sebastian unexpectedly took hold of his right hand with his left; the grip was firm but not vicelike, and Agni was certain he could have broken it if he had wanted to. If he had wanted to. By the way Sebastian’s lips were lifted, he seemed to have realized this too.
“You admire me,” Sebastian murmured coolly. “I can see it in your eyes, in the way you look at me. You want to emulate me, my mannerisms and my expertise. You think I am perfect.” Without shifting his eyes from Agni’s, Sebastian reached over and grabbed something off his nightstand. Agni was too immersed in his fiery red gaze to even consider looking away. “Your glances are not nearly as secretive as you think they are.”
Agni broke eye contact with Sebastian only when he felt something sharp press into the bandaged palm of his right hand. He inhaled sharply at the sight of the blade clutched between Sebastian’s nimble fingers. Sebastian laughed softly, sounding genuinely amused.
“I must inform you that there is a very fine line”—in one fluid motion, Sebastian drew the blade from Agni’s palm to the tip of his middle finger, cutting through the bandages cleanly and not drawing even a drop of blood—“between admiring”—he threw the blade aside; with his palm facing Agni, Sebastian used his teeth to tug off the glove on his left hand, exposing an exquisitely pale hand—“and wanting.” He pressed the palms of their hands together, and Agni gasped as the coldness of Sebastian’s smooth skin seeped into his. It did not chill him as he expected. It set his skin on fire instead, like there was a flame pressed against his skin, charring it.
Sebastian was only adding to the ever-growing fire. His words, his voice, the way his lips were parted only just… It was enough to stir feelings in Agni that he thought he had long since purged himself of. He felt ashamed of letting this sudden weakness of Sebastian—of a man, no less—affect him like this, make him feel and think things that should not have been there to begin with.
“Do not fret,” Sebastian instructed, as if reading his mind. The mocking tone clashed with the soft smile dancing across his features. “What shall we call my hand then?” Sebastian’s eyes flicked down to look at his own hand for the briefest of moments. “The Left Hand of Iniquity, perhaps?” He chuckled, likely at Agni’s startled expression and the way his hand had instantly tensed.
“You must relax more,” he admonished.
With much effort, Agni managed to break away from Sebastian’s paralyzing, dark-eyed assault and looked down at their hands. Right against left, tan against white, hot against cold—it was such an utter contrast. But amidst all of this, Agni was vaguely aware that there was something quite wrong with Sebastian’s left hand. His palm was still pressed against Agni’s, but there was something about his nails that seemed distinctly amiss, like there was something there that didn’t belong. If Agni looked over, perhaps he could see…
“Now, now.” Sebastian pressed his lips into a thin line. “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.”
“…T-This isn’t…” Agni tried.
“Isn’t what?” Sebastian prompted haughtily. “Speak up. Stammering is in poor taste for a butler.”
Agni felt doubly embarrassed; he cleared his throat and swallowed very hard. “This isn’t…appropriate.”
In the barest flash of white, too quickly for Agni’s eyes to follow, Sebastian drew his hand back. Agni felt it settle uncomfortably against the exposed skin of his leg. He clenched and unclenched the fingers of his right hand, half-expecting it to be broken somehow, before letting it fall slack against the mattress.
Sebastian’s eyes narrowed dangerously. “You say that,” he acknowledged coolly, “yet you have done little to rectify the situation.” If Agni had not been experiencing said “situation” firsthand, he would have thought Sebastian was alluding to some household mishap that had occurred. “You can put an end to this if you are inclined to do so. You only have to tell me to stop.” Here, he smiled; it did not touch his eyes.
“I would not force you into this; that is not part of my butler’s aesthetics.”
Agni did not believe him, not with every fiber in his being screaming Lies! Sebastian must have read the mistrust in his eyes, because he went on to say, quite truthfully: “I never lie, Mr. Agni. If you tell me to stop, I will do so.”
His tongue felt heavy around the word Stop. There was a part of him—a part growing stronger with each passing moment as the strands of his control pooled into an unceremonious heap at his feet—that really, truly did not want this to stop, whose neck no longer prickled, whose embarrassment had long since been smothered by desire, and only wanted…
“But if you choose not to say otherwise, then I will take your silence as an open invitation.” Sebastian leaned forward, their breaths mingling, noses touching. The blood rushed to Agni’s face as he braced himself for what was about to happen—wanting it, almost, to happen—but the corner of Sebastian’s lip curled knowingly, teasingly; he shifted over and leaned towards Agni’s neck instead, his cold cheek lightly brushing against Agni’s heated one.
Sebastian’s dark hair swept across Agni’s earring, eliciting a small tinkle from the charms strung on the hoop. Agni caught the faintest whiff of sandalwood from Sebastian’s hair; it was enough to make Agni momentarily forget where he was and what was happening—such a calming, soothing, holy smell; it reminded him of his homeland, of…
A soft chuckle pushed past Sebastian’s lips, his black strands hanging closely to the beaded sections of Agni’s white hair. He traced a gloved finger slowly down the side of Agni’s neck; his bare hand ghosted over Agni’s leg (what are you—?); trailed along the curve of his knee (no, don’t…); pushed past the hem of his tunic to his upper leg (why am I letting this go on?); grazed against his inner thigh (close, too close, if you go any further—ah!). Sebastian pulled his hand back, but not before lightly brushing his fingertips there (I… You—!) and the heat from Agni’s body intensified in spite of the cold fingers.
Sebastian rested his palm gingerly over that now torturous area, the thin cloth of the tunic providing little barrier as to what his hand was really pressed against. Agni’s breath hitched in his throat and he had to bite his tongue to keep from crying out.
Sebastian’s lips brushed against the shell of his ear. Agni felt his body respond, the heat traveling southward. “Am I making things hard for you, Agni?” he breathed.
His voice was smooth, save for the barest note of huskiness. There was no use in denying the true meaning behind his words, or how his body was reacting to Sebastian’s maddening ministrations. The desire, the want was becoming too strong—like Sebastian had taken a jar full of Agni’s restraint, thrown it into the floor, and scattered the contents with too slender, too deft fingers. Agni fought against himself (useless, Sebastian was telling him, it’s useless) and tried to preserve the fragments of his self-control.
“I-If…” His voice was hoarse, bordering on need despite his efforts. “If someone sees us…” It was all he could manage. When he thought about that hand and where it was, he had to clench his teeth to keep himself in line. It was too difficult to function, much less focus, with
Sebastian touching him like this.
Sebastian paused before he pulled his hand back (a mercy, Agni had to tell himself) and drew away from his neck. His expression was an odd mixture of appraise and amusement.
“‘If someone sees us’?” he echoed. “Is that all you’re worried about?”
Agni promptly looked away.
When Sebastian sighed, softly and almost regretfully, Agni was compelled to look at him. The moment their gazes touched and then locked, the moment Sebastian’s eyes turned that brilliant but hellish shade of red, Agni knew he had made a grave mistake.
“Is it difficult, Agni?” His voice was as sharp and hard as a needle point. “The way you deny yourself…”
At that moment, something snapped within Agni that shouldn’t have. It was like the clasp that had been binding him to all reason and rationale had crumbled under the weight of Sebastian’s words. Agni was no longer toeing the edges of impropriety—no, he had long crossed that line and had exceeded all boundaries just by letting this go on for as long as it had.
For the briefest of seconds, his mind was cleared. Fears were nonexistent. Misgivings were irrelevant. Repercussions were trivial. There was only now—only Sebastian seated on top of him, somehow still mystifyingly elegant, eliciting an overwhelming desire in Agni that could not be smothered.
In that one dangerous second, restraint did not matter.
His gaze touched down on Sebastian’s mouth, which was still very close to his, close enough for him to feel the coldness on his own lips without any real contact. It occurred to Agni—as Sebastian remained still, only watching with his lips upturned cruelly—that perhaps he was not going to make a move towards his mouth. The realization made Agni feel a pang of frustration, an emotion he rarely dealt with. It wasn’t even frustration at Sebastian’s close proximity, it was the fact that he—still gracefully and infuriatingly haughty—refused to make the first move when Agni had all but relinquished his dignity.
Agni lifted his eyes back to Sebastian’s. The coldness around the edges of his mouth remained, but his eyes were dark with promise.
“Sebastian,” Agni heard himself say. Sebastian chuckled darkly and coldly—
It had broken. That single utterance had broken the illusion of camaraderie Agni had been trying so desperately to hold onto. One by one, the haphazard pretenses Agni had erected fell and shattered like glass mirrors. And Sebastian stood at the center of the mayhem, poised and confident, smiling serenely as he snapped his fingers in tune with each ear-splitting crash.
—and then they were kissing.
Agni was not sure what had happened, or who had made the first move, but suddenly Sebastian’s mouth was pressed against his and he was groping blindly at ink-black hair. He had never been kissed like this before, not with the kind of expert skill that Sebastian possessed. The flame that had been dancing across his skin before had now become an all-out inferno setting every inch of him on fire with need and desperation. The fire licked at his nerves before sending jolts of heat down the length of his body. He was responding to the kiss and Sebastian was smirking against his mouth now—or perhaps he had been smirking all along, Agni did not know—and somehow the cruel, rigid curve of his mouth only added to the fire Agni was writhing under.
Somewhere between desperately needing air and desperately not wanting to break away, Agni wondered how Sebastian had learned to kiss the way he did—hard, intense, and demanding. He kissed using the self-confidence that he possessed as a butler of exceptional caliber. While Agni was trembling as need clawed at his body, Sebastian hardly seemed flustered; he continued kissing him with the arrogant confidence of someone who knew just what they were capable of.
Unbidden, Sebastian’s left hand reached up and curled into Agni’s white hair. Agni shivered, and Sebastian pushed back against his mouth with his jaw, forcing it open; their teeth clinked harshly, and then suddenly Sebastian’s tongue—hot and moist, nothing like the coldness of his body, but everything like the flames consuming Agni’s body—was in his mouth, brushing against his own, flicking across his teeth. Agni made a sound of approval from the back of his throat—there was no use in trying to think, not when the only thing going through his head was Sebastian—and then he felt a sharp, insistent tug on his hair.
Agni broke the kiss with a gasp and turned away panting. His breathing was shallow and erratic, but Sebastian’s was barely audible; his chest lifted and fell in a steady rhythm, and he seemed too composed for the moment. After what had happened, Agni had been expecting even Sebastian to look away, but he didn’t—he was still staring, as attentive as ever and Agni felt the heat creep to his face. He could not look Sebastian in the eyes—not just because of what had happened, but because he had truly not wanted it to stop. His entire body was flushed with an aching desire that would not be subdued.
“Did you enjoy that, Agni?” Sebastian’s voice was barely above a whisper and politely curious.
Face burning with shame and discomfort, Agni continued to avoid his watchful gaze. He didn’t know how to respond to that, and hoped that it had been a rhetorical question. Of course Sebastian had felt him kiss back, had heard that noise of approval; there was no need to ask such an obvious question—unless Sebastian was doing this for his own amusement. Such absolute arrogance. It should have disgusted Agni; he should have been gathering the remnants of his dignity and pushing Sebastian away. But he remained fixed on the bed instead—allowing Sebastian to toy with him and delight in his discomfort—and only wanted more of him: his hands, his mouth, his body, anything.
“I asked you a question,” Sebastian murmured silkily. His head was angled towards Agni’s neck, hair and lips brushing against the sensitive skin at his throat. Agni clenched his teeth as the feather-light touches made the muscles in his neck tighten.
“How about this?” And then Sebastian began kissing his throat, using his entire mouth now—not just pressing his lips to the skin, but grazing it sharply with his teeth and then gliding his tongue over the flushed area. The sensation was intoxicating, as overwhelming as their kiss had been, and Agni swiftly found his hands clawing at Sebastian’s back. Sebastian smirked against his skin, angling Agni’s head back for better access to his neck. When Sebastian’s mouth slid over a particularly sensitive spot underneath his jaw, Agni was unable to bite back a gasp.
Sebastian sighed, almost inaudibly. He worked his mouth down the side of Agni’s neck, who found himself unconsciously arching into the touch, nails still raking crisscrossed patterns across Sebastian’s waistcoat and dress shirt. Sebastian laughed—a kind of harsh, self-satisfied laugh—at Agni’s expense. To Sebastian this was just another game, another victory to be claimed. Agni’s nails dug into Sebastian’s clothing, and suddenly he was annoyed—annoyed that he was a rumpled mess underneath Sebastian, who still managed to look presentable.
Of their own accord, Agni’s hands wound their way from Sebastian’s back to the front of his dress shirt, then down to the buttons of his waistcoat. Sebastian’s mouth had hardened just the slightest bit against his skin, and Agni realized with some surprise that now he was smiling. He loosened the tie first; his fingers made quick of the buttons on his waistcoat, unfastening them—one, two, three, four—before he tried to smooth the garment down Sebastian’s shoulders.
Sebastian pulled back abruptly, his breath ghosting across the exposed skin where Agni’s tunic gaped at the collarbone. Agni’s smile twitched; to his surprise, so did Sebastian’s. For a moment they merely stared at each other, Agni no longer shying away from the cold and prying gaze. With his tie unknotted and his waistcoat unbuttoned and half-dangling from his shoulders, Sebastian was beginning to look less composed; his hair, too, had become somewhat disheveled and hung in thick, distracting layers down the sides of his face.
“You want this, don’t you?” Sebastian said, very softly. Agni found himself staring at Sebastian’s mouth, the way his tongue pushed past his perfect teeth when he said this. “You enjoy how this feels”—Sebastian inched forward and pressed his hips insistently into Agni’s—“don’t you?”
Agni threw his head back and shut his eyes, the warm friction eliciting a long-overdue groan. He arched his back, trying to buck his hips up reflexively, but Sebastian would not budge; their arousals—pulsating, now—remained firmly pressed together, Sebastian’s legs ruthlessly straddling his hips, his tunic pushed up shamefully far. Agni was only half-aware that he was muttering, “Sebastian, Sebastian, Sebastian,” under his breath like some sort of mantra. So this is what he had been reduced to: a needy, breathless mess. His nails dug into his palms, hard enough to draw blood, the pain managing to take the attention away from the throbbing between his legs.
Agni lifted one eyelid, then the other. Sebastian was staring at him through smoky, half-lidded eyes, teeth on full display, locks of disheveled hair having fallen over one side of his face. The snide confidence… He was infuriated, exasperated with Sebastian’s smug attitude. He wanted to permanently wipe that smirk off his face, wanted to make Sebastian want him as much as he wanted Sebastian.
So he wasn’t the least bit surprised with himself when he threw his hand out—too suddenly for even Sebastian to have predicted, apparently, because his eyes widened just the slightest bit—and fisted Sebastian’s dress shirt in his hands, and snarled, “You cocky bastard,” before shoving their mouths back together. And as soon as their lips touched and locked in that fiery kiss, there was a part of Agni that felt liberated and another that felt trapped—like he’d just opened Pandora’s Box, unleashing the deadly sins, but had trapped a part of himself inside. He didn’t know who he was anymore—a butler? Agni?—and he didn’t care.
He didn’t care. He only felt.
The kiss was messier than the first, their tongues and teeth and the intensity overwhelming as one tried to outdo the other. Sebastian’s mouth was firm, and he refused to give up control.
Agni—was that even his name anymore?—pushed down hard against Sebastian’s mouth, intensifying the kiss, nipping at Sebastian’s lips, brushing his tongue across them (and the bastard was stoic, still so stoic). His fingers set to work on the dress shirt, but there were so many buttons—too many damn, tiny buttons—that he finally resorted to using both hands to pull the shirt apart.
There was a dull clink as some of the buttons hit the floor and Sebastian snorted distastefully—insultingly—into the kiss. “Such impatience is most unattractive,” Sebastian chastised against his lips.
“Don’t lecture me,” he snapped, raking his nails experimentally over the now-exposed skin of Sebastian’s neck, “I am—”
Sebastian inclined his chin, continued looking at him through those half-closed eyes; the effect was almost coquettish. “You are…?”
He clenched his teeth together and looked away from those prying eyes, instead staring at his fingers as they continued to draw lines down Sebastian’s neck to his collarbone. He didn’t know what he was going to say (or more like, he refused to know what he was going to say).
He dismissed the subject by pressing his lips forcefully underneath Sebastian’s jaw-line, relishing in the skin-to-skin contact, the faint smell of smoke. When Sebastian chuckled softly and lightly grinded their hips together, he muffled his groan by pressing his mouth—teeth, tongue, lips, everything—into Sebastian’s neck.
Again he became aware of the aching between his legs. Sebastian was trying to distract him, trying to get him off-track and dominate him. He bit and nipped more harshly at Sebastian’s skin, slipping his hands over his bare chest, his torso, the waistband of his trousers that should have been uncomfortably tight by now. He glanced up at Sebastian, who remained hard-faced and still—and looked almost bored.
He was at his wit’s end now, gritting his teeth together as he back-tracked, drawing his nails more sharply over Sebastian’s waist, his ribcage, the area right over his heart—
—and then he heard it.
Sebastian suddenly took a very sharp breath; it was small, barely audible, but audible nonetheless. Curious, and slowly grinning now, he did it again, and this time he felt the muscles in Sebastian’s arm twitch.
“So you like this,” he murmured with an open-mouthed grin. “You’re not so impenetrable after all, are you?”
Sebastian said nothing, did nothing, but his muscles were unusually tense. He repeated the action for a third time, taking care to be agonizingly slow and more thorough than before, relishing at how Sebastian’s smooth, bare skin felt under his touch; he drew lines and circles over the sensitive area with the tip of his fingernail, and then switched to clawing with his hand entire hand. He watched Sebastian all the while, the way he seemed to be struggling with himself, how Sebastian swallowed to maintain his composure, and—when he pressed his palm to the pale skin—how his eyes fluttered close.
His groin twitched uncomfortably in response; whether Sebastian had felt it, he did not say. He (whoever he was, now) pulled back just enough so he could properly look at Sebastian and take in how utterly disheveled and utterly tempting looked, with his eyes closed, lips parted slightly, head titled back just enough, rumpled attire half-fallen from his shoulders, and the light sheen of sweat now coating his pale skin. The heat between their hips flared, and he nearly screamed with the intensity.
“You…” he whispered hoarsely, licking his dry lips. “You.”
Sebastian opened his eyes, and they were smoldering; it was enough to leave him reeling.
He brought his hand up to the back of Sebastian’s neck and kissed him again, but this time with a desperation and possessiveness bordering on total hysteria. Sebastian’s hand found its way back to his hair, twirling the longer strands around his fingers as he tugged, and—oh, oh—he nearly lost it right then and there. His free hand worked its way up Sebastian’s thigh before settling on the front of his trousers.
It no longer mattered that Sebastian was a man; perhaps it had never mattered to begin with, because Sebastian was so damn different from other men, and it was almost an insult to lump him into that category. But the reality that Sebastian was having this sort of affect on him was almost ridiculous enough to make him laugh.
He undid the button on the trousers, and Sebastian abruptly broke the kiss. He growled in protest, but brought his lips down to Sebastian’s collarbone, sucking and biting and licking.
“You want me,” Sebastian breathed, grinding their hips together; this time, he matched Sebastian’s tempo and pressed up, enjoying the delicious friction it created.
—and suddenly, he was back in India, with his long, white hair wild and sticking to his naked back and shoulders, the air heavy and damp with sweat and sex and sickly-sweet perfume; he was pounding mercilessly into the soiled tramp who had pushed herself against him in the streets, promising to make him forget all his troubles; each thrust into her was a blow against the childhood he’d never had, each of her screams a painful reminder of the reality; and after he was done with her, he would cast her aside like the filthy, unwanted rag that she was and drink until daybreak, until he lost consciousness; but all that mattered now, as she screamed his name over and over and arched into him, breasts heaving with every laborious breath, and tangled her dirty fingers into his hair, was that he was in control—
“You need this,” Sebastian pressed, rolling his hips forward and back rhythmically, pulling sharply at his hair. “You need me,”—his fingers were hovering over the zipper—“Arshad.”
He froze, his blood abruptly running cold, colder than Sebastian’s hand had been, colder than ice.
But that wasn’t his name, not anymore, not since the day of his execution, when it had been changed to Agni by...
Prince Soma. The man who had spared him. The man who had given him a new life. The man who he lived to serve, in mind, body, and soul. His god.
It all seemed to hit him at once, like the rewind button had just been pressed, and he was watching everything as it happened from an observer’s perspective: every kiss, each touch, every word spoken up until Sebastian had said, “Open your eyes, Mr. Agni.” It felt as if a veil had just been lifted, and he could finally see in clarity. He couldn’t believe what he was doing; not only had he allowed it to escalate this far, but he had wanted it to happen—and there was a small, impossibly tiny part of him that was disappointed it had not.
Agni sputtered something and pulled away; he drew his hands back to his sides, trying to put as much distance between himself and Sebastian. Sebastian pulled back of his own accord, unwinding his fingers from Agni’s hair and straightening so that he was looking down at him.
He was smirking, as confidently as ever despite his rumpled appearance, and Agni realized that Sebastian had never lost his composure to begin with; the look of strain, the tightness in his muscles, and the way his eyes had fluttered close had all been fake—just ploys to get him worked up and make him think that he was in control, when of course Sebastian was the master puppeteer, pulling the strings as he saw fit.
But he wasn’t angry, or annoyed, or even insulted. Not anymore. Now, Agni was ashamed at himself for being so weak in body and in spirit; to give into this temptation after he’d vowed to live a life of purity for his prince was disgraceful. His actions had been shameful, his thoughts depraved, but what he had become—that sinner, whose life he had abandoned long ago—actually frightened him. His body was, for the most part, back in control now that Sebastian had shifted away from him, but he would never forget what had been on the verge of happening. He felt tainted, filthy.
And Sebastian, why did he…?—how could he…?
Of all the things Agni could have said, ranging from, “Why would you do this?” to “This shouldn’t have happened,” he finally settled on saying: “We can’t do this,” And then, with more insistence and unflinching eye contact, “I cannot do this.”
Sebastian’s face flickered with annoyance before his expression smoothed. “You seemed quite keen on continuing just a few moments prior,” Sebastian pointed out, face hard and unreadable, like it was set in stone.
“It was a mistake,” Agni told him. “We,” because whether Agni chose to admit it to himself or not, he had been just as much at fault as Sebastian, “should never have done this.”
“But you wanted it to happen, didn’t you?” Sebastian asked, the polite tone belying the seriousness of the question.
They both knew the answer to that question.
Agni looked at Sebastian, almost half-naked and still maddeningly elegant, and then down at his unbandaged right hand. He shook his head. “That doesn’t matter,” he persisted. “I promised Prince Soma that I would—”
Something clicked in Agni’s head.
Sebastian narrowed his eyes.
That’s right. The events of earlier were all coming back to him now. Prince Soma and that book, saying that Sebastian wasn’t human: a demon, one of the Rakshasa, from hell. Prince Soma, afraid of what Sebastian was doing to Ciel’s health, all the warning signs… Prince Soma, making him swear to help him protect Ciel, whatever that entailed. And then, yes, and then Sebastian and Ciel had arrived, and Prince Soma and Ciel had—
Agni felt like the wind had just been knocked out of him. “But you... You’d just arrived at the townhouse with Master Ciel,” Agni said slowly, only half-aware that he was speaking. “Prince Soma and Master Ciel had gone upstairs. You and I were…” Agni met Sebastian’s appraising eyes.
“We can’t be here,” he said, finally making sense of it all. “We’re downstairs. This isn’t—
Sebastian smiled crookedly.
And then everything went black.
When Agni dared to open his eyes, he was doubled over and clutching his chest with both hands, his entire body covered in a cold sweat. Someone’s hand was lightly pressed against his back for support, and when he realized that hand belonged to Sebastian, he instantly jerked away and whirled around, arm knocking into something that clinked loudly in the process.
Sebastian blinked, quickly switching the tray holding a glass of milk and muffin from his left hand to his right so that it would not tip over. He placed his left hand behind his back and bowed his head a bit, smiling contritely.
Agni opened his mouth to apologize on reflex, but found he was incapable of speaking.
Sebastian shook his head, still smiling. “Do not apologize this time. I shouldn’t have startled you.”
Sebastian was dressed, fully and properly—tailcoat, waistcoat, dress shirt and tie all in check—once again the picture of a model butler. Agni had the presence of mind to check himself afterwards: his kurta, his turban, the bandages on his Right Hand of God. He sighed in relief and looked upwards, murmuring thanks.
Sebastian’s expression was dubious at best. “You had me concerned, Mr. Agni.” Mr. Agni. They were back on polite, friendly terms. The welcome distance between them eliminated that awkwardness from before.
Agni cleared his throat so he could speak. “How long was I…” He gestured uselessly with his hands.
“Oh, not terribly long,” Sebastian said vaguely. “When I excused myself to get the young master’s snack, you seemed to be quite immersed in your thoughts, so I thought little of it. But when I returned, you looked quite ill. Did something happen while I was gone?”
“No,” he said too quickly. He was still put off by what had—or had not—happened, and how real it had all felt. How could he have imagined something like that? “I was just…immersed in my thoughts, as you said.”
“Ah,” Sebastian acknowledged with a nod; he seemed unconvinced, but did not press him further, and for that Agni was grateful. He inspected the glass of milk critically, going on to say, “I really should bring this tray up to the young master before his milk cools.” His eyes cut across the dim room to Agni. “Please excuse me.”
Agni smiled a little, still put-off by his own thoughts. “Of course. I’ll be in the kitchen making myself a cup of tea.”
He watched Sebastian ascend the staircase. He should have been comforted knowing that things between them were (had been?) normal. But Agni couldn’t shake off this feeling of dread and discomfort, because he knew he couldn’t have just imagined everything. It was too thorough, too real to have just been imagined.
“S— Mr. Sebastian,” he heard himself say. “Did I…say anything while I was, er, lost in my thoughts?”
Sebastian stopped halfway up the staircase, his back towards Agni. “No, not that I recall,” he said offhandedly.
Agni noticed that his right hand was trembling at his side; his throat was parched. “You’re sure?”
Sebastian looked at him over his shoulder with an all-knowing smile—
His eyes were bright and red with the promise of lies whispered in the dead of night, as skin slick with sweat glided against skin, long fingers pulled at white hair, nails raked dangerous designs across pale skin, Sebastian’s name on his lips as he thrust in and pulled out and in and out over and over again, with Sebastian’s free hand around him there, moving up and down, flicking his thumb here, grazing a nail there, until Sebastian breathed his name against his mouth, and that was when he would finally…
…see the hellfire, the brimstone, smell the coppery blood and the decaying of flesh, his own flesh, as he was tortured but never put out of his misery, a hundred thousand needles stabbing him, deep, agonizingly deep, before they pulled out and attacked the flesh that hadn’t been charred by the flames, that hadn’t been chewed off and spit to the floor; and his bones were being gnawed at and then thrown aside, and he was screaming for his god, for forgiveness, for redemption, but only he was there, so elegant in black, teeth sharp and bared, laughing at his misery and his pain.
—that made Agni feel very weak.
“I never lie, Mr. Agni.”