Twelve is for terms
Midnight struck heavy, the pendulum in the hall swinging slowly and loudly, alerting him to the state of his peace, which was -
" I see you are tending to his study." a satin voice chimed behind him. He did not startle, he gave no outward reaction to the guest.
" You do such a fine job, I'm almost jealous I didn't get to have you as my own butler, you certainly would have helped in my line of work."
The demon finished his filing of papers and turned to face his new company.
The likeness was uncanny, but the differences were also not subtle. His face was leaner, his eyes the shade of the tea that Young Master drank every morning. Perhaps, if Master were to mature one day into a young man, he would look like the man before him. He would have undoubtedly look like the man before him, if he had been given the chance to grow up.
" Vincent." was the only greeting the apparition received as the butler moved on to dust the bookshelves.
Vincent Phantomhive sat in the desk chair, relaxed yet princely. The butler could see where his Young Master had gotten his demeanor from. The previous Earl watched him as he went about his tasks, silent. Vincent was usually quite, or discussed things about how the business is going now that Master is in charge. He often asks how his son is doing, not through words but through his eyes he asks, his tone when he speaks. Vincent Phantomhive cared for his son, and that was the only thorn in the otherwise smooth time that went whenever he visited his son's 'butler'. Vincent was very business like, and the demon could handle that. But what he disliked was that Young Master was Vincent's beloved child, and as such it would be inevitable that Vincent would repeat his plea. This usually happened within the last bit of his visiting hour, and the demon watched as the clock's hands rested on forty-five after twelve.
The demon looked at the father of his Young Master.
" He named you after our dog, his only companion when he was sick. His comfort."
His grip tightened on the stoke he was using in the fireplace.
" That dog protected him from the nightmares that we couldn't, Rachel and I. He protected him till the very end. That's the promise you give to my boy, isn't it?" there was a hollow chuckle.
" Till the very end…. And you do mean that, don't you?" He finally turned to face him.
With a hand over heart and a shallow bow, he spoke.
"Of course I mean that, Sir."
Vincent waved his hand at the demon, a smirk upon his features.
" Sir? Honestly, I think we are beyond that now, don't you agree? After all, you are my son's damnation. His apparent only one true fate. You hold quite a rare position in his life, a very intimate connection." Vincent was calm and expressionless with just the exception of the quirk in his brow and lips. The demon ignored the stirring in his core at the man's double meaning.
He checked his silver watch and sighed in secret relief, remaining silent for the short time till Vincent's departure. As the clock stretched to the next hour, he stood and faced the man. With his customary bow and smile, he bid his guest a parting statement.
" Sir, I assure you that my role is simply as one hell of a butler to your son."
The smile twisted into a grin, eyes glinting unnaturally as he continued.
" However, your son, of his own free will and with full understanding of the terms of the contract, choose to enter into this deal with me. The terms have not changed, neither have our stances on the matter. So, if you please…" he spoke with all the politeness expected of a Phantomhive Butler, and all the malice of a predator's possessiveness of its prey.
Vincent studied the expression of the creation and damnation of his son. This creature had appeared to his son in the moment that he had been strongest, when he was at his weakest. This creature had become his son's creation the moment a name had been given to him. The name of the dog that had accompanied his son in his young years, and a face that if one knew how to see as the traumatized child had, could have slightly resembled the father the boy had been ripped away from. And yet, he was entirely Himself, he had begun existence anew the moment his name had left his son's lips, perhaps damning both of them.
Vincent shut his Earl Grey eyes, opening them after a breath to soothe himself. The seconds were closing in on his time.
" Have not changed? Surely one such as yourself knows that everything changes."
" The terms of the contract are binding, Sir."
Vincent cracked the smile that had brought comfort to his son and fear to his enemies. The second ticked away, last of the last.
" My dear hell-fiend, simply change the terms then."
The former Earl Phantomhive chuckled, his laugh hanging in the air after he had gone.