Mock the Air
"Let me see them," Ciel slurs. His cognac sloshes in its tumbler when he sets it down on his desk and Sebastian raises an eyebrow.
"That is a bloody order, Sebastian," Ciel says. "Fuck. You let me fall off Big Ben, the least you could do is in—indulge me."
Ciel hadn't fallen so much as been pushed, by a surprisingly nimble jewel thief in a ratty top hat; the hat had slipped languidly off the man's head when the bullet from Ciel's handgun found his eye, shot in that single weightless moment after Ciel crashed backwards through the rusty railing. With the next beat of Ciel's heart, time came roaring back in and and he saw Sebastian take a running leap off the tower, folding into a swan dive.
"Yes, my Lord," Sebastian says.
Incongruously, it had reminded Ciel of the summer after he'd turned fifteen years old, after the ignominy of the case in Brighton when he'd made Sebastian attempt to teach him the finer points of not sinking like a rock in the water: an abject failure and source of much humiliation, but. But the sun brightened the skin on Sebastian's bare back until it almost hurt to look, the water made Sebastian's hair cling in inky rivulets to his neck, and the smell of sea and sand filled Ciel's lungs when he bit his salt-chapped lips and inhaled—
Sebastian kneels at Ciel's feet, hair swinging forward, and Ciel pushes himself off the desk so he's standing upright. His visions swims and then settles.
"Well?" Ciel says hoarsely.
Ciel remembered the way the water broke the sunlight into flickering, mutable patterns and the faint green-gray tinge to the undulating sky. He remembered the fat bubbles bursting from his mouth and wriggling upwards, remembered the enveloping pressure of the sea all around him, remembered Sebastian's laughing blurry face following after him and the warm grip of Sebastian's hands.
Sebastian had grabbed him under the shoulders and knees and then there had been a sudden rustling like a flock of birds taking flight; Ciel felt his body jerked up and dropped his gun in surprise, seeing wings snap open and catch the air. They were enormous, blocking out the moon, beating powerfully to slow their descent.
They unfold more slowly now, feathers whispering against each other as Sebastian extends and settles. Ciel lurches forward to touch them; Sebastian makes a quiet noise and lets him, lets Ciel explore, Ciel's fingers encountering impossible softness and underneath, the solidity of muscle and bone. Through the haze in his mind Ciel feels the three threads come together: the sense memory of the ocean and the old tightness of desire, the unreadable look on Sebastian's face after he set Ciel on the ground, and finally, the last, the ever-present recurring dreams of an altar and a whirlwind of jet black feathers—
The one that comes away in Ciel's hands is a dirty, dishwater gray when he angles it into the sunlight from his window.
"They weren't always this color, were they?"
"No," Sebastian says.