AN: Finally, I edited this! I admit, I was being so lazy to write! *shot*

For those who read this before, I rewrote several parts, mostly during the beginning.

This fic is set around the time when John, Grey and Phipps are chosen to be the Queen's butlers/guards. I set this in 1885.

About the ages: in here John is 16 years old, Grey is 15 and Phipps is 17 (this is around 2-3 years before the series began - I have no idea of how old they actually are, but I take it they are a lot younger than they look)

Disclaimer: I don't own Kuroshitsuji, John or any Charles (damn it!)

Friday, 13th April 1885 11:00h

Once more, John Brown laid on the bed of 'his' dark bedroom, contemplating the ceiling as if it weren't there. He couldn't sleep well at all, things still seemed surreal for a reason, just...

How had he come this far...?

John was one of the fifteen men who had endured the training that would decide who would serve Her Majesty as butlers (which possibly involved doing a number of jobs he'd rather not to think about at the moment). The recruitment for it was lead by England's most well-known men (and woman) for their bravery and services. Among them were Marchis and Marchioness Middleford and Her Majesty's three near-retirement butlers. He wondered who'd be guarding Her Majesty while they were away, but that didn't matter right now. All that mattered was that he would be taking one of their places.

At first, 200 people had been selected according to their age, gender - several women tried to enter the system, even though only men were allowed - , background, criminal record and health. A letter was sent home to the chosen men, explaining when and where they should go.

After that first selection, military training took place for a month, during which the numbers were cut to 100. Over the next three weeks, the numbers had been reduced to 50, then 25 and then to 15. Only one more stage was left, only one more he'd have to win.

The last fifteen men were at the moment staying in the castle that held the training grounds, a majestic white residence owned by a rich duke; next to it was a dark and intimidating forest, that had been declared off-limits to them.

They were required to wear special clothes - light grey shirt and beige trousers with black boots and gloves. It made them feel like they were in a prison (a feeling which only got worse whenever the Marchioness spoke to them).

Glasses, watches and all kinds of personal objects weren't allowed to use. They didn't allow anyone with a bad eyesight in, and the only man who insisted on wearing sunglasses (an intimidating-looking man) had been forced to take them off.

Now the important thing in John's mind was that in two days time he would face the sixth and final part of the selection – survival and team work. Today he would find out who would be on his three-man party.

He didn't want to lose any more time (the papers were set to be posted in the rest hall at exactly 11:00, and it was already 11:02), so he headed to the boards on the main hall of the enormous building where the rest houses were. And there they were, those papers could decide his life, depending on whether he had good or bad partners. John hadn't even noticed he was running to them, as if they would run away if he didn't hurry. He checked them, searching for his name. As he found it, he read the names of the two other members of his team.

Team C

John Brown

Charles Grey

Charles Phipps

Oh perfect, two Charles! The good news were, those two were rather strong and two of the favorites to winning. The only thing to worry was if the rumors about their 'peculiar ways' were true. Charles Grey was also the youngest of the finalists. Chalres Phipps was a mysterious kid who usually hung around with Grey, with a deep smoothing voice uncharacteristic of his young age.

As far as he knew, the last fifteen were chosen by hand by the supervisors and each seemed to have a different favourite skill. Swords, daggers, axes, hammers, whips, chains, and a creepy man even liked to use a scalpel as a main weapon.

He himself preferred a whip – it gave him great accuracy, power, speed, and a distance advantage, enabling him to hit his foes' feet at a distance, making them trip and thus ending the battle as easily as that (and it was fun!). The whip also gave him good defence – able to throw out the daggers and curl the chains. Probably he would be able to easily beat the scalpel guy and the hammer guy by hitting their hands and taking their weapons away from them. The axes and swords were a different thing though. He admitted he had never fought against any of those, but he would get the hang of it in no time.

He was so lost in his thoughts about his wonderful whip that he didn't notice someone behind him until a pale hand touched his shoulder. The other guy was already speaking even before John turned around to face him.

"Hiya! I'm Charles, Charles Grey. Nice to meet you, John!"

John turned around to face the guy who seemed to know who he was. And just like he had pointed before, this kid indeed was Charles Grey. He had chin-length white hair with a small patch at the back longer than the rest. His aura inspired calmness. Maybe it was the whiteness of his hair and pale skin, and not even the military uniform could take that calmness away from him. He was smiling cheerfully, something rarely seen in a competitive environment like the one he was in, where everyone was against everyone. John also noted how 'small' his body seemed, it gave off a fragility aura that could make one think he would shatter if he were to fall.

"Do you want to have lunch with me? I'm feeling soo hungry and my partner Phipps said he'd have to go somewhere else!"

It was John's turn to smile. Meeting his partners before the main event would only be beneficial to him. After all, trust was essential for survival. But this guy seemed to trust him too much – they met in a second, and he already invited him for lunch?

"Sure... Charles."

***** Two hours later*****

"Phew... I'm full!"

John looked incredulous as Grey ate his (hopefully) last plate of food and called for the maid to come. He ate twelve plates of curry! Twelve! Along with sixteen glasses of wine. Was the boy crazy or some sort of human sponge? Yet he was talking normally, not even showing any signs of drunkenness, his voice wasn't even blurred at all!

"You want the bill already? We have time, you know? Why don't you wait a little-"

"Oh no, no. I'm asking for dessert, obviously," at that point John knew it. Charles Grey really was the weird person he was rumoured to be. Now all he needed was to meet Charles Phipps, the mysterious guy. He seriously just hoped he would be normal.