Here it is, the second installment of the modern bar AU, which I am tentatively titling The Windup. The first part began as a drabble for a prompt request thing that I did, and it can be read here. Thanks to everyone who read the first part and voiced their interest in a continuation; I hope you enjoy.
It was another week and a half before Sebastian was actually able to talk to Ciel. The night the young man came in from the cold, face ruddy and fingers frozen, the three-man staff had suddenly found themselves swamped with work; a crowd of students celebrating someone’s 21st birthday with a pub crawl had stumbled their way over the threshold as soon as Ciel hung up Sebastian’s coat and finished washing his hands.
Bard was busy working the fryers in the back, cooking buffalo wings and loaded waffle fries and potato skins, and Sebastian was slammed with clambering kids at the bar, all pushing one another to order the most expensive or risque drinks. When he wasn’t helping Bard with the dishes, Ciel was scurrying back and forth from the kitchen to the tables, delivering plates of steaming, greasy food and refilling water glasses and iced teas for the ones that needed to take a small reprieve from drinking. One of the boys in the group ended up calling Ciel a faggot when he accidentally gave him a plate of nachos that the person across from him had ordered, and Ciel was sorely tempted to hit him upside the head with his serving tray. It took everything in him not to; he would never hear the end of it from his father. He brushed it off, shooting the frat boy a cold glance and a snarky comment in response, but it was plain to see the derogatory comment landed Ciel in a sour mood the rest of the night. He couldn’t even enjoy the large tip the rude boy’s girlfriend had insisted he leave as a means of recompense for his shitty attitude. It was uncomfortably quiet as the small staff cleaned up the bar after last call, and Sebastian did not think it was the best time to strike up a conversation.
The rest was just bad timing. When Sebastian was scheduled to work, Ciel had the night off. When it was Sebastian’s day off, Ciel had to work. If he had bothered to check, the debonair bartender would not have been so disheartened when he clocked in and found only Mey-Rin or Bard or someone else behind the counter the next few days. So he waited patiently and expectantly for Thursday to come around again, the day that his and Ciel’s name both appeared on the schedule.
He found himself checking his hair and his teeth in the rear-view mirror of his car before he clocked in on the prescribed date, and had to mentally chide himself for being so vain. To try and impress Ciel now was pointless. He had seen Sebastian in all manner of states before; clean-scrubbed and freshly dressed, creases sharp and hair styled, as well as disheveled, hungover, and craving the sweet release of death at three in the afternoon. It really wasn’t important how he dressed. When he turned the charm on, there wasn’t anybody Sebastian couldn’t snag. There was only an hour overlap between their shifts, with Ciel opening and Sebastian closing, but it was all the time he needed. He guided his hand through his hair once for good measure and headed towards the bar.
“Hey, Sebastian.” Bard grumbled a perfunctory greeting as Sebastian strolled through the back door, dumping an order of wings into the fryer and carefully dropping it into the crackling oil. Sebastian greeted him with a nod and went to hang his coat up on the hook, taking one deep inhale before sliding it off his shoulders; the lingering smell of Ciel’s cigarette smoke had faded quicker than he had liked.
“How’d your daughter’s birthday party go?”
“Great,” Bard said, suddenly breaking into a wide smile. His daughter, recently turned six, was the light of his life, and his favorite subject of conversation. It was so endearing to listen to him, and Sebastian was perfectly happy wasting the last few minutes before the start of his shift hearing about Bard’s techniques for wrangling small children hopped up on birthday party jitters and cookie cake. There was no reason to rush up front; Sebastian knew Ciel would still be there when he clocked in.
Except that he wasn’t. Instead of a pair of brooding azure eyes and pale lithe limbs, Sebastian was met with an uneven smile and a head of long, unnaturally red hair.
“Sebastian!” Grell sang a melodic, yet terribly off-key greeting. “Great, now that you’re here, I can leave.”
“Hold up,” Sebastian held up a hand, blocking Grell from escaping from behind the bar. “What are you doing here? Isn’t Ciel supposed to be working right now?”
“Yeah, supposed to be. But he’s not, so I have to cover for him. But since you’re here,” she chirped affectionately, “I can leave now.”
“Technically, that opening shift lasts another hour. And since when do you cover for people?” Sebastian asked indignantly. “If I had known that, I would’ve called you in last month when Bard was out of town and it felt like I had the fucking plague.” Grell’s nominal position as a manager had her in only a couple of times a week to collect the deposits, evaluate the stock, place orders for more alcohol and bar food, and make sure they were keeping up with their bills.
“I got a call from Vincent this morning,” the redhead explained, “asking me to cover his son’s shift! Can you believe that shit?”
“What?” Sebastian blanched. “Why?”
Grell waved a hand and shrugged, “I don’t know.” Gathering her purse from under the bar, the manager tried once again to sidle past Sebastian and head towards the exit. And once again, she found herself trapped by the bartender’s tall, agile frame.
“I find that hard to believe,” he said. “You’re the nosiest woman I know. Come on,” Sebastian coaxed, “sit for an hour, have a drink with me and let’s gossip. It’s been too long since you and I talked, hasn’t it?” He slyly reached out and grabbed the strap of Grell’s purse, sliding it seductively off her shoulder and setting it on the bar.
The excitable manager squealed, “Oh, alright. You know I can’t say no to you.”
It was a slow Thursday evening, and Sebastian gave Mey-Rin the nod that told her to hold down the bar while he talked with Grell. Mey-Rin, friendly as could be, nodded happily and pranced behind the counter, wiping down the polished surface with a fresh rag. Sebastian poured himself a drink, a diluted whiskey and Coke since he would have to return to work after this, and whipped up some strong fruity mixer for Grell to sip on. They settled in at the corner end of the bar, underneath a TV that was rolling a muted reel of highlights from earlier in the week, athletes running and jumping to the silent cheers from the crowds. Technically the bar didn’t allow smoking inside, but Grell lit up anyway, offering her pack to Sebastian in a polite but superficial gesture. He surprised her by taking one of the proffered American Spirits and lighting it with a Bic from his pocket.
“Since when did you start smoking again? Don’t tell me it’s ‘cause of that Ciel kid. Boy smokes like a fucking chimney I hear…”
Sebastian scoffed, “Don’t be ridiculous,” and exhaled a weak trail of smoke. “Some habits are just harder to kick than others.”
Grell smirked and took a drag. “Whatever you say, Sebby.”
Rinsing his mouth of the first few drags with his drink, Sebastian cleared his throat and began pushing the conversation towards what he wanted to hear. He was eager to learn what had happened to Ciel. Even if it was nothing serious, he couldn’t just let it go. Not after he had spent the past week nearly obsessing over him, patiently waiting for a chance to see him again. “So, tell me about earlier. Vincent called you?”
“He did!” Grell said as she practically swallowed her drink in one gulp. “At the house, too, the nerve of him… Woke William up from his nap – he’s been working so hard lately, the graveyard shift really takes it out of him. Two whole years he’s been working for that museum and they still treat him like some replaceable rent-a-cop or some shit. He should be head of security by now, I tell you what…” It took some work, lots of redirecting and steering Grell back towards the relevant topic, but eventually Sebastian was able to piece together almost the whole story. As he did, the weight in his stomach grew, like someone had dumped a metric ton of gravel in his gut; cold, heavy, grating.
Ciel had been in a car crash. Whether he spun out on a patch of black ice, or somebody else had was unclear; all Sebastian knew was that the cute little server ended up getting T-boned by a Chevy Tahoe and rushed to the emergency room late last night. He knew that Ciel was alive and breathing on his own, though he wasn’t sure if he was fully conscious or in need of any surgery. Sebastian also knew that he couldn’t just hop in his car and drive to the hospital to see him like he suddenly found himself wanting to do. How weird would that be? He’d probably freak Ciel out if he showed up right now.
So he finished his drink, smoked another cigarette with Grell, pretended to engage in friendly banter and gossip until he could no longer play along. He didn’t quite care what the manager did now that he had gotten what he wanted from her, and he had become so clearly preoccupied with what he heard that the redhead took the opportunity to slither out of the bar with a waggle of her fingers and a comical, exaggerated “Toodleoo!”
The rest of the night was a literal blur, a dissociated haze. Sebastian found himself daydreaming, passing the hours behind the bar fantasizing about what it would be like to curl up beside the young man’s banged up body in the hospital bed, hard plastic railings along the sides of the mattress confining them together in a warm embrace. He glossed over the tangle of IV tubes and wires he would inevitably get caught up in; ignored the bag of piss that was likely attached to the edge of the bedframe and connected to Ciel by the long thin tube shoved up his urethra. He didn’t think about Ciel’s dad, his boss, sitting in a corner, one leg crossed over the other, reading a magazine as his son’s monitors beeped steadily.
He thought about holding Ciel’s small hand, thumb stroking back and forth along the boy’s parched skin, sucked dry by the warm recycled hospital air being blasted through the vents. He thought about running his fingers through that cute little bobbed mop of hair, dyed blue like the deepest, darkest parts of the ocean. He thought about draping an arm over Ciel’s waist, curling up beside him, face tucked in the crook of his neck, listening to the breath draw in and out of his lungs. He didn’t think about fucking him; he just wanted to hold him.
The cold, bitter breeze outside rattled Sebastian’s bones when he stepped outside at the end of the night and realized he had forgotten his coat. The last few hours of his shift had been completely lost to him in his distracted state. Sebastian supposed he did what he always did: made drinks, chatted with the regulars, counted the drawer, cleaned up and closed with Mey-Rin and Finny, who had replaced Bard not long after Grell’s departure. He just couldn’t stop thinking, couldn’t stop worrying about Ciel.
Again, he had to scold himself for being so silly. There was nothing he could do for the young man. He was already taken care of, safely nestled in the care of those who actually knew how to help him. Sebastian clicked his tongue against his teeth, shook his head at his own foolishness as he headed back inside and discovered that he had completely forgotten to lock the front door of the bar. Retrieving his coat from the back, Sebastian realized the acrid tobacco smoke smell was coming from him, his own fingertips and his hair; it was not the meager essence of Ciel clinging to the fabric of his jacket, lingering around to keep him company as he pulled the collar up to his chin to deter the cold from sneaking down the front of his shirt.
Driving home on autopilot, Sebastian tried to piece together what he knew about Ciel. It wasn’t much. Aside from physical characteristics and some idiosyncratic mannerisms, he knew next to nothing about his boss’s son. Quiet, thin, and short, Sebastian could barely hazard a guess at how old Ciel really was – he barely looked legal, but he had to be if he worked at the bar. Sebastian knew he was a part-time student at the local university, but he couldn’t say what he was studying. He knew the Phantomhives were a wealthy family, but Sebastian could not parse out the nature of Ciel’s relationship with them, whether it was good or bad, whether or not there was a mother or other siblings in the picture.
Small talk and conversation were not the young man’s strong suits, but it did not dissuade Sebastian in the slightest. He found himself infinitely infatuated with the kid. It twisted his stomach up into knots to think about him lying in a hospital bed somewhere, not knowing whether or not he was okay, not knowing if or when he would get to see him again. For all he knew, the opportunity to talk to Ciel, to get to know him, to be more than a coworker to him, could have slipped right through his fingers, and Sebastian would never be able to forgive himself.
a/n: somewhere in between GRE studying and thesis projecting and midterms and class papers, i found this little prequel for you guys ♥ also, drive by emmit fenn & ascensionnic fanciulli remix, ft. vince staples, they’re both on spotfiy, idk
tw: zombie apocalypse au so a little bit of blood/gore mention (double tap)
“Sweetheart, what will we be getting?” Bucky asked casually as I pushed the trolley pass the lanes of the grocery store, my messy hair in a ponytail as I scanned the aisle of food when Bucky tapped my shoulder, a small smirk on his face.
“Allow me doll,” he said and I shoved him playfully, stepping aside watching as he took over the annoyingly noisy trolley, pushing it forward as I moved, keeping my eyes on the Basil I needed to perfect my turkey that did I mention I haven’t even bought yet.
“What’s on the list Buck?” I asked, grabbing a few glass bottles of beer and loading them into the trolley knowing Tony would make a fuss if beer wasn’t a guest at his Christmas Party next week.
“Let’s see doll, I’ll gladly only have you on my list” he said chuckling as he allowed his striking blue eyes to take in my form. “Buck!” I said trying to stifle my laughter, punching his shoulder lightly as we both giggled like two high school kids.
“Young love, beautiful isn’t it” Bucky and I turned to see an old couple, their eyes fixed on us and serene smiles on their faces.
“Is he your husband sweetie?” The old lady asked, as she picked up her jar of mayonnaise.
“No, he’s my boyfriend” I said smiling as Bucky wrapped his arm around my waist. “I’d like to be your husband (y/n)” Bucky said pressing a kiss to my temple as he shot the older man a bright smile.
I smiled up at him, Bucky wasn’t perfect in the eyes of the world, but he was in mine. He was everything I wanted, everything I had been searching for, he is my comfort, love and most importantly he is my home.
“Well, we have to go” The man who had introduced himself as Jeremy said as he held his wife’s hand, walking past the aisle of food.
“Do you think we’ll be like them? Growing old together?” I asked, as Bucky pressed a soft kiss to my forehead.
“There’s no one I rather spent my life with doll” Bucky replied, smiling.
I grabbed the flour and sugar, damn those gingerbread men that Natasha loves so much.
“Okay doll! We have chicken wings, waffles, twenty packs of beer, five boxes of shawarma,” Bucky started and I rolled my eyes, typical Tony. I made a turn, grabbing every item he had just listed off and dropped them into the trolley.
“Next, endless boxes of pop tarts” Bucky said cocking an eyebrow as he glanced at me. We both sighed and said at the same time.
I dropped almost what seemed like half of all the pop tart boxes into the now heaving trolley, watching as Bucky had his bionic arm on the trolley and his other hand clutching the never ending list.
“And preferably my girlfriend in new lingerie” Bucky teased and I bit my lip turning to face the man who had a smirk etched on his handsome face.
“What? Can’t a guy admire his best girl?” He asked innocently. I shook my head, moving forwards, and pressing my lips onto Bucky’s plump ones, nearly moaning as he dropped the list, his now free hand wrapping around my waist pulling my closer to his chest.
I smiled into the kiss, feeling his tongue swipe across my bottom lip and teasingly, I pulled away. “Sweetheart,” Bucky said almost pleading as I shook my head.
I had an idea and I smiled coyly knowing Bucky would definitely give in to this one.
“Bucky, once we finish shopping, I promise when we get back, you can do whatever is it you want to me” I said, smirking as his eyes lit up to match the season.
“I can tie you up?” He asked, licking his lips as I picked up a can of whipped cream dropping into the trolley, my eyes fixated on his blue ones.
“Anything you want James” I said softly, grinning as Bucky sped through the list, filling our trolley with all of the necessities, the two us eager for what was waiting for us when we got back.