That Butler, New Face

That Butler, Skilled3

{Outside The Phantomhive Manor, 6'o clock}

A classy automobile screeched to a halt as it pulled to a stop in front of the manor.

"My, my!" said an older gentleman as he climbed out of the automobile. "This is a far cry from home!" He lifted his fedora in greeting to Ciel, who had been waiting for the man on the porch steps while reading a book on economics. "And it has been a while since I've come here too."

"You made it, Chlaus." Ciel said calmly as he stood up to greet his guest.

"Buona sera, Ciel!" Chlaus greeted the boy warmly and pulled him into a hug, clapping him on the back. "Have you been well? Have you grown a little taller?"

"I regret to say I have not." Ciel replied as he led Chlaus into his manor.

"I do beg your pardon! I'm glad you are doing well." Chlaus said good-naturedly.

"You seem to be doing well yourself." Ciel said as the doors opened, revealing all the servants lined up in the main room.

"Welcome, Mister Chlaus." Sebastian said as they all bowed.

"Oh-ho…oh my. You've really cleaned up this old manor house." Chlaus said, slightly surprised.

"We have been expecting you, Mister Chlaus." Sebastian said politely.

"I'll take you coat for you, Sir." Chêne offered, smiling. She liked Mister Chlaus. He reminded her of godfather Drossel Meyer from The Nutcracker Ballet.

"Sebastian and Chêne, long time, no see!" Chlaus greeted. "I see you've taken on new staff here. Here's my hat too." Chlaus added as he placed his hat on Finni's head.

"You must have much to discuss with my lord. Dinner preparations will be ready shortly, so please, right this way to the courtyard, Sir." Sebastian said, leading Chlaus to the manor's inner courtyard.

"The courtyard?" Chlaus asked.

"The young master has ordered us to entertain you for all the trouble you have experienced on his behalf during your journey. I hope you find our efforts most agreeable." Sebastian said.

He opened the doors to the inner courtyard, revealing a beautiful garden with elegant irises in full bloom and small natural boulders placed in a sea of pebbles that rippled like the surface of a pond after a stone had been dropped in.

"Please make yourself at home." Chêne added.

"Oh! Delightful! Prodigioso!" Chlaus praised when he saw the elegant scenery. "This is a Japanese stone garden!"

"We have tea ready for you, Sir." Sebastian said as he pulled out Chlaus' chair for him.

"The irises are very beautiful. Bare trees and flowers… this must be what is called 'wabi-sabi'." Chlaus said as he sat down. "I bet this was Chêne's doing somehow. She is the one who mentioned the term when we last met." Chêne smiled a little proudly at his praise.

"Yes." She said smiling. "It was Sebastian's idea to create the garden, but he let me design it."

"Pardon me." Sebastian said as he served the tea using Tanaka's tea set. It was green tea instead of one of the black teas Ciel usually favored. Chêne added honey to Ciel's cup since he preferred sweets to more bitter flavored foods.

"Even the tea is Japanese. I see you are particular about the details." Chlaus said.

'Hmm…I wonder if that's where the saying 'the devil is in the details' comes from?' Chêne wondered.

"I deeply appreciate your kind words." Sebastian said, smiling.

"I think I can look forward to dinner as well. Ha-ha!" Chlaus said jovially.

"A-Amazing, Mister Sebastian!" Finni gushed, starry-eyed from where he, Bard, and Mei-Rin had stealthily (?) hidden amongst the flowers.

"He talked his way though it." Bard muttered. His expression looked as though he had been skeptical about whether or not it would work. "We just don't have any other tea sets."

Ciel leaned one elbow on the table and grinned smugly.

"By the way, Chlaus… about what I asked you for?" Ciel said.

"Ah, I brought it, as promised. Here is the game you wanted. It hasn't been released yet in Italy, so it was quite troublesome to obtain it." Chlaus said meaningfully as he pulled something out of his jacket and placed the game on the table for Ciel to see.

Chêne's eyes widened in surprise, and she somehow managed to keep her jaw from dropping. It was a freaking Nintendo. Well, not really. It was actually made by the Ninkyodo Company. It was a game called 'Mouse 3', and according to the box, it was for use with the Ninkyodo 'Game Guy Advance'.

'That definitely shouldn't exist yet!' Chêne screamed in her mind.

The technology that made video games possible wasn't even available until after her parents were born, and all they got was 'Pong' on their computers. All these time paradoxes were giving her a headache. The only comfort was that the 'technology timeline' had been screwed up before she even got there.

"Hmph! Trouble, hn? So you keep stressing since this morning's phone call." Ciel observed.

"Of course. The prince gives his servant a fitting 'reward' for his efforts after all!" Chlaus laughed.

"I do hope this game is worth the 'reward' though." Ciel said coolly. "The one I finished playing the other day had such a tiresome ending." Ciel leaned back and braced one of his feet on the table, using the leverage to rock his chair a bit.

"Really now! Games are easily completed by the hands of children like you, Ciel. Soon you will be asking for another one." Chlaus said.

"Of course." Ciel replied, smirking deviously, the atmosphere around the boy seemed to darken with the gravity in his words. "Children are greedy when it comes to games." Chêne had the feeling this conversation had a double meaning. Ciel was referring to an entirely different kind of game.

"And so at the tender age of twelve, you've made Phantomhive the number one toymaker in the country." Chlaus sighed wryly. "I fear for your future."

"Please pardon the interruption. Dinner is served." Sebastian said. "On the menu is our Chef Bardroy's Gyu-Tataki Don." In truth, Bard had sliced and layered the meat only.

'Don?' Ciel and Chlaus both gave Sebastian a blank stare, flabbergasted. Sebastian set the bowl of sliced meat and rice in front of Chlaus.

"This… is dinner?" Chlaus asked.

"Yes." Sebastian said, still smiling.

"I was expecting a Kyoto-style full course meal or something…" Chlaus said.

'What? But isn't that just supposed to be for a Tea Ceremony?' Chêne thought.

"Mister Chlaus, did you not know…?" Sebastian asked.

Chêne could see sparkles around him – a good indication Sebastian was about to blindside the man and overthrow common sense in order to completely B.S. his way through.

"Donburi has been used as a feast to express gratitude to laborers. A dish given as a treat to a person who has rendered great service…That is Donburi!" Sebastian proclaimed dramatically with flourish. You could practically see Ukiyo-e style waves crashing in the background during Sebastian's passionate speech. Chlaus looked even more stunned now. Even Ciel looked overwhelmed. Chlaus' eyes were white and Ciel had an idiot hair curling off the top of his head. "'Houhan,' a court dish for which the masses yearned, is said to be the origin of Donburi. Furthermore, I thought Mister Chlaus' palate might have grown tired of elaborate dishes, and I planned this meal so that you might eat only the choicest of meat simply." There was that shit-eating grin again.

"Wonderful Mister Sebastian!" Finni cheered quietly. Somewhere in the confusion, the three stooges, Tanaka, and Chêne had retreated to peak from behind the doors that led back inside the manor.

"Nice follow!" Bard cheered.

"Tch. I'm the one who told him all that in the first place. It's a true story, by the way." Chêne mumbled. Chêne had told Sebastian that story two years ago, but he had acted like he wasn't even listening…

"Hoh-hoh!" Tanaka added.

"Next is my job!" Mei-Rin said. "I can't mess up!"

"Oh!" Chlaus said, snapping out of his information overload. "Hahaha! Ciel! This is great! You always surprise me! A lot of the fellows in this business lack a sense of humor, but I think we will continue to get along just fine."

"I'm glad to hear that." Ciel said, smiling smugly.

"We did it! It was a complete success!" Finni cheered. Bard pumped his fist in the air triumphantly, and Tanaka threw confetti.

"Shh! Keep it down ya'll, he'll hear." Chêne whispered.

"I did not know the Japanese Donburi had such a history behind it. You really are an intellectual." Chlaus praised Sebastian. Chêne pouted.

"Like I said, it was me…taking credit for other people's work…" Chêne muttered darkly while digging her nails into the doorframe.

"That is most kind of you, Sir." Sebastian said, smirking at Chêne. She scowled at him. He knew just how to push her buttons. A vein throbbed on Chêne's forehead.

'You'd better watch yourself, Michaelis. I'm PMSing and cannot be held accountable for my actions if you piss me off.' Chêne thought sending Sebastian a blinding shit-eating grin.

"As you said," Chlaus continued, "I have grown weary of full-flavored Italian dishes. Thank you."

"I also selected an Italian wine to suit your taste, Sir." Sebastian said, cuing Mei-Rin to pour the wine. "…" Sebastian stood there in silence for a moment. Mei-Rin was off in her own little world. "Mei-Rin." Sebastian whispered into her ear as he leaned close to the maid, their faces only an inch apart. "Stop staring and pour the wine into the man's glass." Mei-Rin blushed such a deep shade of red, she was almost purple, and her glasses cracked even more.

'Oh, brother…' Chêne thought rolling her eyes at Sebastian's actions. She had a feeling this would not end well as she watched Mei-Rin wobble over to the table.

"…Hey." Bard said.

"Yeah?" Finni asked curiously.

"Isn't there something wrong with the little lady?" Bard asked. Mei-Rin was mumbling something about Sebastian, and her hands were shaking uncontrollably.

"…You know, now that I think about it… why is Mei-Rin serving the wine? Shouldn't I do it since she broke her glasses earlier? She probably can't see…" Chêne said. Bard gaped at her.

"Say these things sooner!" Bard said. "What if she – Ah!"

"Aaah!" Finni yelped. "Miss Mei-Rin! You're spilling the wiiiine!" Finni said, panicking.

Chêne sweat dropped. At least Chlaus was too busy chatting away and admiring the garden to notice, but the wine was still pouring out of the bottle. At this rate, all their efforts will have been for nothing. Ciel sat at his end of the table, frozen mid-bite. He looked appalled as he and Sebastian watched the wine steadily flow towards the edge of Chlaus' end of the table. Finni and Bard were in full freak-out-mode while Tanaka made origami cranes, blissfully unaware of the impending doom. Chêne stared as a single drop of red wine rolled off the edge of the table and towards Chlaus' lap.

*Fwhiiip!*

At the very last second, Sebastian swiftly yanked the tablecloth, causing the end to flutter up and catch the drop of wine. Sebastian continued to pull the tablecloth, quickly removing it without knocking a single thing over. Bard was so shocked his cigarette actually fell out of his mouth for once. Chêne sighed in relief. That was even more nerve-wrecking than when Tom Cruise had to catch his own sweat in 'Mission Impossible'. Finni, Bard, and Chêne quickly dragged Mei-Rin back inside.

"…Nn?" Chlaus said in confusion when he noticed that where there was once a pristine white tablecloth, there was now a shiny wooden tabletop. "O-Oh! W-Where did the tablecloth go?" Ciel smirked.

"I had it removed because there was a slight stain on it." Ciel said carelessly. "Don't trouble yourself."

"Excuse me for our grave discourtesy." Sebastian said bowing. "Please relax and enjoy your meal." Sebastian went back inside to dispose of the stained tablecloth. He sighed and ran his fingers through his hair.

"That was quick thinking, as always. Thanks for the hard work." Chêne said and took the tablecloth from him to clean it before the stain set.

"You're wonderful! That was amazing, Mister Sebastian!" Finni Cheered, bouncing up and down.

"Yay! Yay! The hero returns!" Bard cheered. Tanaka placed an icepack on Mei-Rin's head. The poor thing had been practically reduced to a puddle after her close encounter with Sebastian, butler extraordinaire. Bard clapped Sebastian on the shoulder. "In my country, we'd call a guy like you 'Superman'."

"I am no 'Superman,'" Sebastian said, "I am simply one hell of a butler." He smirked.

=†=†=†=†=

{Back With Ciel And Chlaus…}

"Your butler is most skilled, Ciel." Chlaus said.

"Heh… skilled?" Ciel said, smirking. "He only did what was expected of him as my servant."

"You're tough," Chlaus said, laughing, "but a talent like that would be hard to find, even if you looked all over Britain."

"Of course, but that's not the only reason I hired him." Ciel said, twirling his spoon. "I have never had sweets that tasted better than Sebastian's."

"Sweets?" Chlaus asked slightly stunned. "…Pfft… Ha-ha-ha! That's certainly a very important reason for a child!"

"I'm looking forward to today's dessert." Ciel said smiling.

=†=†=†=†=

{The Phantomhive Manor's Downstairs, The Kitchen}

"Wah~! It looks yummy!" Finni said when he saw what Sebastian was making.

Chêne the sweet scent pervading the air had Chêne's mouth watering as she watched Sebastian make today's dessert, Apricot and Green Tea Mille-feuille. The tantalizing dessert was made with three layers of crème pâtissière, nestled between four layers of flaky puff pastry. It was garnished with a dollop of cream on top, drizzled caramel and apricot sauce, and a side of green tea sorbet. The three of them were leaning on the kitchen counter next to Sebastian, stacked up like some weird totem pole.

"Smells yummy too." Chêne said as she suppressed the urge to drool.

All three of their stomachs growled, and Sebastian sweat dropped. Chêne, who was the shortest, and therefore on the bottom, felt something wet hit her head. She realized Finni and Bard actually were drooling now.

"Ugh – Guys!" Don't drool on me! That is so gross!" Chêne exclaimed as she shuffled out from underneath the waterfall of drool. "Sebastian, I've been emotionally scarred, thanks to your talent. I demand comfort food as compensation!"

Sebastian glanced at Chêne and sighed. Chêne loved sweets. Coming between Chêne and sweets was like trying to give an Alligator root canal surgery, do-able, but you were more than likely to loose a limb. Sebastian was simply not in the mood for such a hassle.

"If you behave yourselves like good little children for just a bit longer, I shall give you some of this dessert as a reward." Sebastian conceded.

"Yaaaay~!" Finni and Chêne cheered excitedly. Bard started trying to wake Mei-Rin up so she wouldn't miss it. Tanaka had already started eating, and was happily munching away.

'Now that I think about it…' Finni thought as he recalled the events of the day, '… What I bought were iris bulbs… How did he make them bloom so fast?'

=†=†=†=†=

{The Inner Courtyard, Currently A Japanese Stone Garden In Full Bloom}

"I'm sorry to have kept you waiting." Sebastian announced to Ciel and Chlaus, wheeling the dessert cart up to the dinner table. "Dessert is served." The butler smiled like a Cheshire cat, as a breeze gently blew through the night, perfumed with the delicate scent of irises.

=†=†=†=†=

{Back Downstairs With The Other Servants…}

'Well, whatever~! I'm getting a reward!' Finni thought, drooling happily.

"We're gonna eat 'em all!" Bard told Mei-Rin in one last attempt to wake her. Chêne, who had been trying to shake Mei-Rin awake, looked up and saw that Tanaka had already finished off all the pastries.

"Too late." Chêne said, a river of tears streaming down her face. 'Good bye, my love, my sweet, sweet dessert!' Chêne thought dramatically, sitting in her own little 'corner of woe.'

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