That Butler, New Face

That Butler, Busy

Yay, we're finally starting on the second manga volume now!

A butler begins his day early. He is the last to finish his work late at night, and the first to begin work in the morning. Such is the duty of a butler who manages the household.

"Hmm, my hair has grown rather long…" Sebastian observed when he looked at his reflection while getting dressed for the day. "… What a pity… I cannot trim it as I please." Chêne had warned him early on that humans would notice if his hair never grew. After being away from the human world for so long, Sebastian had forgotten a few trivial things like that. Sebastian tucked part of his hair behind his ear. "Humans are most troublesome." Sebastian said, pulling on his swallowtail coat and gloves. "Now then, off we go." Sebastian said, making his way to the kitchen. 'My first task is to assign the day's work to the servants. Chêne is not included this time because it is her day off...' Sebastian thought as he opened the kitchen door, revealing Tanaka and the three stooges. They were all waiting for him patiently. Normally Chêne would have cooked breakfast for them and fed them all by now, but it was her day off, and charcoal was not a recommended part of any healthy diet, so asking Bard to cook was out of the question. On Chêne's days off, the servants had decided it was safer to fast than risk the stomach aches.

"Good morning, everyone. It is about time you should all be getting to work. Mei-Rin, see to the linens." Sebastian said.

"Yes, Sir!" Mei-Rin said, saluting him like a good little soldier.

"Finni, tend to the trees in the garden." Sebastian said.

"Kaaaay!" Finni said happily.

"Bard, please make preparations for lunch." Sebastian ordered.

"Gotcha." Bard said drowsily, still not fully awake without his morning coffee.

"And Mister Tanaka, you are doing just fine." Sebastian said.

"Hoh, hoh, hoh." Tanaka said, taking a sip of his tea.

"Provided you have understood your duties, off you go!" Sebastian said, clapping his hands to signal it was time to start working. "Step lively!"

The three stooges shot of to work, like racehorses shooting out of the gate after hearing the starting gun at the racetrack. Once the other servants were dispatched, Sebastian began preparing the early morning tea and breakfast so that it would be ready in time for the young master's awakening. Chêne walked into the kitchen, wearing a purple plaid day dress with black trim and a little black hat with a matching ribbon. It was simple and modest, but still rather attractive.

"Going somewhere?" Sebastian asked. Chêne hardly ever woke up this early on her day off, and she only wore something other than her uniform when she went to town. Chêne nodded.

"Yeah, I'm off to town, I saw a book that might you know… help me when I was there on an errand yesterday, but I didn't have time to stop." Chêne said. As she sliced her self a piece of bread from the loaf she had baked yesterday. Sebastian paused in his work for a moment.

"You are still trying to find a way back to your old world?" Sebastian asked evenly, barely managing to hide the ire he was feeling. He disliked the thought of his favorite toy—coworker— leaving with great intensity. "What happens if you succeed? You will at least say goodbye to the young master, will you not?" Chêne looked away guiltily.

She didn't want to leave any of them—Phantomhive manor had become her second home and family, but She had to find some way to let her real family know she was okay. She had been searching off and on ever since she first arrived in their world. Ciel had said he understood how she felt, but Chêne still didn't want to leave him alone. He would have Sebastian, but it wouldn't be the same. Sebastian knew this and used it to send her on a guilt trip every time she mentioned the possibility of her leaving. Sebastian and Chêne always ended up arguing, and though it might seem like a better idea not to mention it to Sebastian altogether, not telling him and having him find out after the fact was… much scarier.

"I'm not really trying to go back anymore." Chêne said. "I just want to—"

"If you are not going back, there is no point in looking." Sebastian said coolly. He didn't believe that she would not give in to temptation and go back to her own world if there was a way. Chêne had a strong character for most humans, but she was still only human. They give in all too easily when tempted. He would know, being a demon.

"Why can't you just trust me? I just want to find a way to send them a message! They deserve to know I'm alright." Chêne said, determinedly.

"You said you would stay for Ciel because you care for him as though he were your younger sibling, but you already have a younger sister at home, do you not? It would only make sense for you to want to return to her. There is nothing here for you that you did not already have before." Sebastian said. Chêne stared at him.

"Are you trying to get me to leave? Why do you keep insisting I will?" Chêne asked, feeling a little hurt. 'There is one thing in this world that's irreplaceable in my old one, and that's you, Sebastian.' Chêne thought, but she couldn't tell him that. It would give him too much power over her. Sebastian ignored her as he continued preparing Ciel's breakfast. "Well fine, then!" Chêne yelled, having had enough of being on the receiving end of Sebastian's cold shoulder. She ran out the room, slamming the door as she went.

Sebastian sighed. Sebastian knew that the longer they talked about it, the crueler he would get, so he had restrained himself from commenting any further on the matter. However, Chêne never seemed to deal well with long silences…

=†=†=†=†=

"Pardon me, Sir." Sebastian said, knocking on the door of Ciel's bedroom. "Good morning, Young Master. It is time for you to wake up now." Sebastian said as he wheeled in the serving cart. Sebastian opened the curtains, letting the sunlight stream into his room. "It is a fine day today." Ciel groaned, and rolled over onto his back, rubbing the sleep from his eyes.

"…" Ciel said when he noticed Chêne wasn't there that day. He had forgotten she had a day off coming up. Ciel still had two band-aids on his face from when Vanel roughed him up the other day, but thanks to Chêne's nursing skills, Ciel was mostly healed. Ciel sat up and yawned as Sebastian poured the tea. "Today's tea is the Assam, hm?"

"Just as I would expect from the Young Master. I had heard that good tea leaves were ready in Assam, so I had some sent here." Sebastian said.

"By the way, I've invited the children of Earl Burton's orphanage to the manor." Ciel said as he read the newspaper and sipped his tea. A noble's wealth exists to contribute to society. They practice charity using their abundant fortunes. The distinguished Phantomhive family also engages in volunteer activities, without exception.

"That is a splendid idea. When will they be joining us?" Sebastian asked.

"Tomorrow." Ciel said.

'Tomorrow?' Sebastian thought, slightly stunned.

"To make parents buy something, you must start with the children." Ciel said.

'Why, this little bra—Young Master. Does he believe he can get anything done so long as I am here to take care of it? He works his people (?) far too hard.' Sebastian thought grudgingly. "Very well, Sir." Sebastian said, sporting his shit-eating grin. "I shall entertain even the littlest guests in a manner worthy of the Phantomhive name." Sebastian said, bowing. "Oh, yes... and the Herend Chinoiserie tea set you ordered just the other day has arrived, Sir." The butler added as he began dressing Ciel. "Therefore, the afternoon tea for today will be Keemun. We also have berries, so I think a summer pudding of currants and other berries might do nicely. What do you think?"

"Do what you will." Ciel said carelessly as Sebastian tied Ciel's bow tie.

"Very good, Sir. Then I shall set about the preparations for tomorrow at once." Sebastian said, taking his leave. 'Now then... here is where a butler's true work begins.' Sebastian thought.

=†=†=†=†=

{The Phantomhive Downstairs—Sebastian's personal kitchen}

Sebastian rolled up his sleeves, tied his apron, and pulled his cooking gloves on. He stared at them for a moment. They had been Chêne's idea. Once they had added on more staff, it had been necessary for Sebastian to be able to hide the contract mark on his hands at all times, so that no humans other than Ciel or Chêne would find out his true identity. Not everyone was as accepting of demons as they were. Chêne had come up with the idea of cooking with gloves because it was actually something that a few high-class restaurants in her world required chefs to do, since it was supposedly more hygienic. Oddly enough, Chêne had also said that hiding his contract mark would not have been a problem if they were in her world, because tattoos were extremely common there, and pentacles had become such a mainstream symbol that no one would've taken it seriously at all.

"Well, shall we get started?" Sebastian said, smirking, as he clapped his hands together. It was unfortunate that he and Chêne had had another fight, but she would soon forgive him, just as she always had. Chêne seemed unable to stay mad at anyone for very long. Sebastian had decided that she was probably incapable of holding a grudge. Well, perhaps he would 'accidentally' make a little something extra, and give the leftovers to Chêne to help speed up the process. Sebastian opened the cookbook to the recipe for making chocolate that could be poured into a mould and began carrying out the instructions as he read.

Finely chop the best dark and milk couverture and mix. Melt over a bowl of 60° C water. After boiling and then cooling slightly, add some fresh cream. Cool while stirring, and add some cointreau when the mixture is at body temperature. Then, pour into the mould, and—

"Gyaaaaaaaah!!" Sebastian was brought out of the graceful rhythm in with which he had been reading and preparing the chocolate when he heard a disturbingly loud scream of panic from who could only be Mei-Rin.

"...!?" Sebastian said, slightly taken aback. "What is going on?" The demon butler wondered out loud as he furrowed his brow slightly in irritation. What could have possibly gone wrong now? Chêne usually managed to keep Mei-Rin and the others' little mishaps to a minimum for him, but since Chêne wasn't working today, and they had just had a fight... who knew what mayhem Mei-Rin was causing without her babysitter around.

=†=†=†=†=

{The laundry room}

"Mei-Rin?" Sebastian said as he opened the door cautiously. "What on earth is going—"

"Mister Sebastiaaaaaaan!" Mei-Rin yelled hysterically as she threw herself at him, trying to outrun the avalanche of bubbles that had almost buried her before he opened the door.

"!?" Sebastian said, startled. "Why are there bubbles everywhere!?" Sebastian yelled, stunned. The entire room was filled from floor to ceiling with soap bubbles. How was that even possible?

"This detergent! I put it in!" Mei-Rin cried, pointing at the box of laundry detergent she was holding in her hand. "XXX (30) spoonfuls, just as the directions say, but something seems to have gone wrooooong! Miss Chêne usually does this part for me, but she told me yesterday that the instructions were on the baaaack!" Mei-Rin sobbed, hopping Sebastian wouldn't punish her too badly. Sebastian took the box from the sobbing maid and looked at it. The amounts to be used for the different sized loads were written down on the back in roman numerals.

"Mei-Rin. This reads III (3) spoonfuls, not XXX (30)." Sebastian bluntly informed her. It was beyond him how anyone could make such an idiotic mistake.

"Eh!?" Mei-Rin shouted, startled, flinching and going blue with shock at the magnitude of her mistake. So, it really was her fault for misreading it!

'Why this imbeci—that is to say, housemaid. It would seem the problem no longer lies in her eyesight. Why does she fail to realize that there is something clearly wrong with her own brain and not the instructions?' Sebastian thought. 'Word has it that the public adores silly maids, but I do not think I will ever understand it. (And I have no intention to do so.) I myself would like to wring her neck. At least when Chêne thinks she might be mistaken, she checks with me before things turn out like this...' "Haah... all right." Sebastian said, sighing in exasperation and resignation. This mess wasn't going to fix itself. "For the moment, please leave this to me." Sebastian quickly scrubbed the floor, cleaned up the bubbles, washed the sheets hung them outside on the clothesline to dry. "... Whew" Sebastian said, wiping a bubble off of his head once everything was done. Mei-Rin stared in awe at the now pristine white sheets that were gently swaying in the breeze. Sebastian had been fast. "I still have much to do, so I shall be taking my leave. Please return to work as well." Sebastian told the blushing maid as he left to continue his own work.

=†=†=†=†=

"Really..." Sebastian said as he returned to his kitchen. "All this when I am already running short on time." He said as he shut the door behind him. "Now, where was I...?" Sebastian said, smirking as he held up the frying pan and began reading again.

Place the butter and water in a skillet and bring to a boil. Extinguish the gas. Sift the flour and baking powder into the mixture. After stirring the mixture with a wooden spatula, heat on a low flame—

*KABOOM!*

The room shook slightly from the force of the explosion from down the hall.

"!?" Sebastian said. "What is it this time!?"

=†=†=†=†=

As Sebastian approached the main kitchen, where Bard was supposed to be preparing Ciel's lunch, he noticed that there was smoke coming out of the doorway, and the door frame was cracked and scorched with burn marks. It didn't take a genius to figure out what had happened. Bard was sitting on the floor, in front of the oven... holding a bazooka. If Chêne had seen that, she would have face-faulted. What was a weapon like that doing in the 1800s...? The whole kitchen looked like a warzone, and Bard had been fried black. He even had an afro now.

"Well, ya see, I got this new weapon from back home, but..." Bard said. "It doesn't work at all... Geez!"

"Making roast lamb with lavender does not require that much heat... To begin with, is that even a tool for cooking?" Sebastian said, suddenly feeling exhausted

"Don'cha sweat the details! Cooking is art! And art is explosion!" Bard roared passionately, clenching his fist.

"Is it now." Sebastian said, stunned. That was the first he had ever heard of it... No, wait—He seemed to recall Chêne watching an 'anime' on her 'potable DVD player,' that had been in her bag to entertain her younger sister during her family's trip, with the young master one time that had a character that had said something to that effect before... The two incidents had better not be related, for Chêne's sake. Either way, this was ridiculous. 'Why, this imbec—rather, chef. You should talk about cooking after you have actually 'cooked' something. I believe eighty percent of what you have managed to 'cook' has been charcoal. The other twenty percent was hazardous waste.' Sebastian thought, chagrined. 'Save your art for your hairstyle, and cook something edible... otherwise... I wish for you to become charcoal yourself.'

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