Guess who's back? Back again? Tarn is back. Tell a friend. Okay, I'm done.
Who likes fanservice? Of course you all do. And who liked the corset scene? Of course you all did. So until we hit our lovely, Kuro-oriented plot, let's have a chapter or two of some traditional Ouran fanservice in the form of crossdressing, musical interludes, and friendly competition!
You guys came through for me in spades! Thanks so much to everyone who reviewed with great ideas!
"Sebastian, what is this?" Ciel growled. He held up a dress and scowled fiercely. Sebastian only smiled.
Today was another of the Host Club meetings, and another cosplay day, if the costumes that greeted Ciel upon his arrival were anything to go off of.
Ciel understood the purpose of cosplay. He knew, by know, that it fascinated the girls they were entertaining. Girls that were interested were girls that paid well for the products put out by the Host Club. Not to mention that cosplay days acted as photo-ops for the club, despite Ciel never having signed anything releasing his photo to the Host Club, which he would be looking into soon, thank you very much.
Ciel was used to the Host Club acting in bizarre and vulgar ways. He was used to their strange tastes and uncanny ways. But this?
This had Sebastian written all over it.
Who else but Sebastian would know something like this? Almost the exact cut and style of the dress Ciel had worn the last time he had, well, he shuddered to think it. Ciel had no fondness for crossdressing. He didn't enjoy dressing up as a woman and he certainly didn't enjoy the corset that came with it.
The host club had even found hair extensions that looked similar to those he had worn a hundred years ago. If this was a coincidence, Ciel was done with everything.
"I'm not wearing it," he announced. "I will not ruin my family name by dressing in this... dress!"
Sebastian was smiling. This was only to be expected. Ciel had been prickly about the whole 'crossdressing' idea ever since his aunt had first made him do it. It didn't help that Sebastian, when the occasion demanded, enjoyed taunting Ciel by reminding him of it. If anyone had seen Ciel, reputation would have been damaged beyond all recovery. He would have never been allowed to forget it, and that first time had been far to close for Ciel's tastes.
And now this Host Club expected him to rehash the entire situation once more. But this time, everyone would know exactly who he really was.
He wouldn't do it. There were extenuating circumstances the last time. This time, Ciel would bluntly refuse. They had no right to make him wear it. Photography was even better than it was, and the images would spread so easily via internet to reach places where the Phantomhive name couldn't bear to suffer a loss in reputation. There was no way in hell that he was going to do this.
"But it would disappoint the girls," Sebastian said. "You don't want that."
Ciel glared. "Sebastian, kill me now," he groaned.
"Is that an order, young master?" Sebastian asked, a teasing smile on his face. He placed a hand on either side of Ciel's head, as if waiting for the command to snap his neck.
The girls beside them squealed in terror. "Nooo!" they cried. "Ciel, don't do it! Sebastian, disobey him!"
How much of Ciel's displeasure was just for show, and how much of it was genuine, Sebastian wasn't yet sure, but his job was a simple one if this was all it took to make the girls cry out in terror. Sebastian quite enjoyed this game.
"Now, now," Sebastian said soothingly, placing a hand on a worried blonde's shoulder. She looked at him with wide eyes. "The young lord Phantomhive's safety is my top priority, superseding all other commands. What kind of butler would I be if I didn't know when best to disobey him? A good butler follows orders exactly. A better one knows which orders to simply... ignore." Sebastian grinned, while Ciel ground his teeth, holding the dress up.
"Then destroy this instead."
"Please, Ciel! You would look so cute in a dress!" the blonde said.
Her brunette friend nodded emphatically. "The others are all wearing outfits from the French Renaissance! Well, Haruhi hasn't put his on yet, but he will when he gets here!"
"The others aren't wearing dresses," Ciel protested. He pointed at Tamaki, who looked dashing in a red waistcoat that was lavishly decorated with gold stylings and filigree. His crossed legs showed off his heeled, knee-high boots. "I won't dress like a girl just because somebody told me to! It would ruin my good name. In fact-"
Sebastian leaned forward and whispered into Ciel's ear, "You're letting the Hosts win."
Ciel paled, and the girls giggled, probably assuming that Sebastian had whispered something else into his ear that wasn't a thinly veiled threat. These women were incapable of getting their minds out of the gutter. They squealed excitedly and pushed the dress at him with growing enthusiasm.
"Do I have to wear the corset?" he choked out. The girls cheered. Sebastian tutted.
"Only if you wish to wear the dress properly," he said. "Do you need me to lace it up for you?" He grinned at Ciel, the bastard, and Ciel growled under his breath and stormed into the changing room, the dress in one fist and the corset in the other. Pictures of this had better not leave Ouran, or there would be hell to pay.
The girls, and Sebastian, were close on his heels. Sebastian swept into the dressing room after Ciel while the girls pressed their ears to the door. Sebastian wore a smile as he went in. Moments later, the girls heard Ciel mumbling unhappily.
"I don't see why I have to do all this-" "Utterly pointless-" "Argh, watch it Sebastian, don't do that-"
The girls shuffled closer, exchanging excited looks from Ciel's commentary.
"Sorry, boccan, but you have to take them off..." One almost giggled aloud, but another clapped a hand over her mouth before any sound could escape.
"Why can I not wear socks? Nobody will see my feet in the dress."
There was a sudden gasp, and Ciel's breathless voice wavered out, "Seb-Sebastian. Wait."
"It has to be tight, young master, or it will not work."
"At least- AH! At least stretch it out some!" Ciel commanded.
"If I did that, we'd be in here all day," Sebastian said, his voice level as always. "Now relax, or it will be even more painful later."
"Ugh, oh! Huh, huh, can't breathe! Damn you!" Ciel cried out, gasping louder. His breath heaved in and out, the loud pants easily reaching the eavesdropping ladies. "You're going to kill me if you keep that up!"
One girl almost swooned.
"I doubt that anyone has ever died from a corset."
"YES! THEY HAVE! It suffocated countless women and broke their ribs when they breathed wrong!"
"Then you have nothing to worry about," Sebastian said. There was another gasp, and a satisfied chuckle from Sebastian. "There, finished. Smooth the dress down while I attach the hair extensions."
The four girls had never looked so thrilled in their entire lives than when Sebastian came out of the dressing room with a breathless Ciel in his arms. Ciel soon found himself sitting rigidly on a chaise, corset suffocating him and hair extensions swishing unfamiliarly against his face.
He was as pretty as girl, they whispered to each other, with a face that seemed to be lifted from the Botticelli painting that was hanging in the central hall. It was perfectly angelic, despite being slightly spoiled by his rather impressive pout.
Ciel's lips and cheeks were even slightly rouged in a way that was never done in Victorian England. It wasn't much, just enough to bring out the startling blue of his one visible eye and the drastic contrast between his hair and his creamy white skin. Curls spilled down his shoulders and were piled atop his head in dramatic fashion.
He looked every inch the perfect little princess. It was disgusting. Ciel had never been so glad that Lizzy wasn't there to see. This was even worse than the infiltration of the ball, the last time he had been disguised as a girl. Perhaps it was the new corset, less a fashion statement and more a medieval torture device that was hell-bent on killing him by squeezing him so tightly in his middle that everything inside of him was grossly displaced. All the demon power in the world couldn't make it comfortable.
The damn thing was even tighter now than it was when he was mortal, Sebastian using Ciel's demonically high pain tolerance to withstand the constriction needed to create an hourglass shape on a male figure. It left Ciel as a very unhappy young lady in a beautiful dress, surrounded by adoration from every angle.
"Now young ladies," Sebastian said. "You can keep this little situation our little secret, can't you? It wouldn't do to have images of the young master in a dress leaked to the outside world, now would it?"
The girls all nodded eagerly, chorusing 'of courses' and 'oh yeses'.
"When we get home, I'm going to murder you," Ciel hissed to Sebastian. "Then I will resuscitate you and kill you again."
"I await it eagerly, my young lord," Sebastian said.
"My generous master."
Tamaki laughed, and Ciel jumped in surprise. "When did you get here?!" he asked.
Tamaki ignored the question. "Such chemistry! When Renge is right, she's right!"
"If you have no business here, then kindly leave," Ciel said, still embittered by the costume. He smoothed the ruffles and tried to keep his shortness of breath from showing. He didn't need to breathe any longer, of course, but if he didn't breathe, he couldn't talk, and it was entirely inconvenient altogether.
"You wound me!" Tamaki said, clutching at his chest but not looking the least bit rebuked. "I just came to see how my lovely Princess Ciel was doing!"
Ciel rolled his eyes. "I am a lord, not some make-believe princess. And let me guess. Haruhi isn't here yet, is she?"
Ciel hit the nail on the head. Tamaki looked worried. "Not yet. You don't think she went missing the same as the other girl, do you? Hikaru and Kaoru won't tell me whether they saw her today or not. You're in class with her, did you see her?"
"Of course I did. She is staying late to do some extracurricular assignment. Apparently it's a requirement for maintaining her scholarship here."
Tamaki was visibly relieved and a bit furious. "Stupid, too-much-free-time-on-their-hands twins... Telling me they weren't sure if they'd seen her or not..."
At that moment, the doors to the host club opened and Haruhi walked in, still wearing the usual blue-suit uniform instead of any cosplay. She glanced around for a second before spotting Tamaki and Ciel, and she hurried towards them.
"HARUHI!" Tamaki cried, running forward. He held a dress in his hands that Ciel could have sworn wasn't there only moments ago. It looked exactly like the one Tamaki had unsuccessfully tried to get Haruhi to wear the first week of school.
Haruhi pushed him out of the way with a roll of her eyes. "Hello, Senpai."
"Daddy was so worried about you! Here, your dress! I can't wait to see it on you!" Tamaki said, pushing the pastel, candy-like confection of silk and taffeta into her arms.
Haruhi shook her head. "Sorry, but I can't stay. I was just letting you know that I needed to head home early today."
Tamaki blinked. "...What?"
Ciel rolled his eyes from the chaise. "Haruhi obviously doesn't want to wear the dress. It's bad enough I have to," he said.
Haruhi looked at him for a moment. "Ciel?" she asked. A little smile spread across her face, and she started to laugh. Ciel frowned.
"What? What's so funny?"
"I- I'm sorry," she barely managed, covering her mouth, "but you look more like a girl wearing that dress than I would!" she said. She started laughing even harder, and the girls joined in with her, although they clearly missed why it was so funny in the first place.
"I- I DO NOT!" Ciel said, standing up. A faint blush spread across his cheeks, naturally darkening the rouge.
Sebastian chuckled and wrapped his arm around Ciel's waist, picking him up and carrying him to a mirror along one wall. "You'll find you do look very feminine, especially with your hair styled like that."
Ciel's blush deepened, while girls cooed and came closer. Haruhi at least had the decency to look apologetic when when she approached. "Sorry, Ciel, you just surprised me. I didn't even realize it was you until you spoke."
"You should be proud of yourself, young master," Sebastian said. "It's an accomplishment to look so much like a woman, and you pull it off much better than most."
"Doesn't feel like it," Ciel growled.
Just then, the twins sidled up to him, cackling in that way that the twins always seemed to be doing. "You do make a pretty girl," Hikaru said.
"Are you sure you aren't actually one? We've made that mistake once already," Kaoru said, grabbing at the hem of the skirt in an indecent way. Customers giggled wildly while Ciel backed out of reach.
"I AM NOT A GIRL!" he yelled.
Haruhi shooed them away. "Fun's over" she said to the twins. She glanced at the clock and sighed. "Sorry, but I really have to go home."
"So soon?" a customer asked. "We really wanted to see you in a dress like Ciel!"
Haruhi gave her a soft smile. "Maybe tomorrow."
"Prooommissseee?" the twins asked.
"Don't bet on it," she retorted. "Bye!"
Ciel's eyes narrowed thoughtfully as Haruhi left the room. "Where does Haruhi live? Obviously not in an estate or manor, if she is here on scholarship."
"It's an apartment!" the twins said.
"...Apartment?" Ciel asked.
Sebastian quickly said, "A building with many separate housing units that is rented rather than owned. They are common in cities."
The girls laughed as Ciel took a dainty seat on the chaise. "You don't know what an apartment is, Ciel?" a redhead asked. "Many commoners live in them."
Ciel nodded in understanding. If one was too poor to afford permanent housing, or there was too little land available for such a thing, as the case might be on an island like Japan, then it would certainly be smart, not to mention extremely economical and profitable, for commoners to rent housing from landlords. It was simple common sense and logic, and Ciel had always been fond of cold logic.
"A smart idea... I have never heard of it before," Ciel admitted. The girls laughed harder. If there had ever been any doubt in their minds that Ciel was anything less than filthy stinking rich, it was gone. He was as far from a commoner as one could get, and that made his growing friendship with Haruhi even more entertaining than it was before, as far as the girls saw it.
Ciel didn't consider it friendship, more a slight tolerance for her over the insanity of the other Host Club members, but it was already probably the closest thing to friendship he was ever likely to have with anyone at this school, let alone this miserable little rock called Earth.
"Where do you live?" Kurakano asked. "There aren't many places for large estates."
"I have a manor not far from here. It isn't on much land, but the building is a nearly identical replica to the one I own back in England," Ciel said. "That one was a Victorian era, perfectly reconstructed after the fire. You wouldn't notice a difference."
Tamaki decided that it was the perfect time to re-enter the scene. "Fire?"
"You heard the story before, Tamaki," Kyouya droned. "The Phantomhive 'Curse'. Ciel's manor in England burned to the ground just over a year ago, as it has at odd intervals throughout the last few hundred years."
"Kyouya is correct, my English Manor was razed to the ground, rather like a miniature French Revolution in my own backyard, if you want to reference our outfits," Ciel said, gesturing down at himself. He caught Sebastian's eye and started, quickly understanding the look that his butler was giving him. It was a reminder to put on a show for the young ladies of the Host Club. He promptly allowed a trace of dampness to flood his eye, just enough to make it shimmer.
It wasn't a tear; Ciel could no longer cry, even if he had wanted to. More than anything, it was a clever illusion and some demonic power, and it served Ciel well enough.
"I was playing the violin when it happened... I smelled the smoke, and I ran to the parlor. The door was shut tight, and the handle burned my fingers when I touched it, but I ignored the pain. I threw the doors open and saw flames tearing the room apart. There, in the heart of the room, already dead, sat my parents, motionless as they burned. I still... remember..." Ciel whispered, a bit overly-dramatic, but it had the intended effect. He looked away, as if it was too painful to continue. "I'll be back," he said, standing.
The girls made all of the appropriate gestures of pity, and Ciel suddenly found himself surrounded by an entire flock of admirers and sympathizers. As horrible as it was, he would still count it as an underhanded success, as their pity meant fewer girls doting on the other Host Club members. If Ciel was keeping score, which he was, it would be a win.
"So when do we get to see it?" the twins asked, speaking simultaneously. They crossed arms and leaned their shoulders against one another, twining together in one of the more popular poses for the two.
"Never," Ciel said automatically. There was no way in hell that he would ever show any of these host club members his private residence. He couldn't stand guests to begin with, and nothing had ever served to endear them to him. Never mind that Ciel barely tolerated the new servants. They were about as efficient as the old ones at doing chores (which was to say, not at all), only they didn't come with the advantage of being trained to defend the Phantomhive manor against attack as the old ones were.
Plus, there wasn't anyone who could really measure up to his old servants. Tanaka had passed on not long after Ciel had become a demon. Baldroy and May-Rin lived to see many years before moving on, and Finny was still alive, although he was old and grey now. They had moved on with their lives and so had Ciel, and when they parted ways, it was for forever.
But despite their many, many, many shortcomings, Ciel would have been remiss to completely ignore them... Or even to admit that he might, perhaps, miss them, if only just a little, tiny bit.
But no. He would not entertain such juvenile house guests, and he certainly wasn't going to allow the club and customers to come in. That just wasn't going to happen.
"Aww, come on, Ciel. It'll be fun!" Kaoru said.
"I wanna see Ciel-chan's home!" Honey announced, poking his head up.
Ciel flipped his hair, catching the attention of a large number of the guests. When he stood, he was unwavering despite his towering heeled boots giving him the look of normal height. "This conversation is over. Sebastian, tea and cake, if you would." With that, he ran his hands over his shape once and flashed a smile towards the girls. They gasped, and he walked off to find a new chaise away from the rest of the club, his gait smooth and his hips swaying just slightly. A few girls followed him eagerly enough, like they had fallen under a spell.
Tamaki was left blinking. Kyouya smirked.
"You must admit, he does make a very convincing young lady. One might almost think he's done this before."
"So what?" Hikaru said. "I wanted to see where he lives. We got to see where Haruhi lives, didn't we?"
"We could always drop by unannounced, like we did then," Kaoru said.
"But Ciel-chan is so scary," Honey said. "Not like Haru-chan."
Tamaki frowned, but his eyes didn't leave Ciel as the young lord entertained his guests. "Maybe there's another way..." he said.
After the last guest left the host club, Ciel groaned and stretched. "Sebastian, do you have those documents ready for me?"
"Of course, my young lord. They await you back at your study," Sebastian replied immediately. He bowed and offered his hand to Ciel to help him stand. Ciel took it. The boning in the corset had left him sore and stiff, and he leaned against Sebastian tiredly.
"And the invitations?"
"Posted and awaiting response-"
Suddenly, Tamaki appeared, silent despite the noisy boots he wore. His ruffled red coat swished around him. "I know what we're going to do!" he announced.
Ciel leapt back, making a loud noise of surprise and displeasure. "Where did you come from? What are you talking about?"
"We're going to hold a contest!" Tamaki continued, oblivious.
Ciel shook his head, quickly removing the hair extensions. His eyepatch was revealed as the hair moved away from his face, and he smudged the rouge on his lips unknowingly. "I honestly have no clue what you're talking about."
"It's all very simple!" Tamaki laughed, looking positively delighted. Ciel's nose wrinkled in displeasure. It should be illegal for someone to look so much like the Viscount Druitt, especially when Ciel was wearing this dress and looking so much like a girl still. Demon or not, it still made Ciel uncomfortable. "If we win, we get to visit your mansion with all of our guests!"
Ciel narrowed his eyes. "You're still on that? A dog with a bone, refusing to give it up? You'll never visit my mansion, I will tell you that right now. I won't agree."
Tamaki looked genuinely surprised. "... What?"
"You aren't visiting my mansion, and you certainly aren't bringing the girls. I refuse. It's quite simple; you don't have to look so dumbstruck about it."
Sebastian looked on consideringly. "Perhaps it would be wise to bring the Host Club, if only to get it out of the way. Surely they'll continue to pester you about it until you give in."
"Then I won't give in," Ciel said. It was all so obvious. Ciel would just have to hold out. He was a demon. He could hold out much longer than any human ever could. But... something about Ouran was a bit odd. People could appear seemingly out of nowhere and startle even Ciel. There was no telling if the Host Club really would surrender.
His expression became troubled.
What if they didn't? What if they bothered Ciel about it until the day he could finally leave this school? He had already written one report, but more were necessary to ensure that this establishment was absolutely safe. It certainly wouldn't be, if more girls went missing.
Ciel would have to be strong. He managed to make it through one school relatively unscathed. This one was even less threatening than the other. But...
"You're saying if I won this competition, you wouldn't bring the host club to my estate?"
Tamaki nodded. "Yup!"
"And you would stop asking to come?" Ciel pressed.
"If that's what it takes to get you to compete," Tamaki said, growing a little more excited. "Will you agree?"
Ciel sighed. "Just what is the contest, anyway?"
Tamaki smiled. "Simple. You just have to get a hundred new requests in one day."
A hundred requests? Ciel would have to convince a hundred students to want to spend a day with him instead of another member? The odds of that happening were miniscule! Many of the girls were very set in their ways, and always went to the same hosts.
Then again, Ciel had the number of guests he did because he had unwittingly taken a few from Honey's devoted shota-loving guests and the Hitachiin Twins' fans of forbidden, homosexual love. That much had been effortless. Just how many fans could he have if he actually tried?
Ciel had been hoping for some sort of barometer for his successes and failures within this club. How would he know whether or not he was winning without it? But this, this would be just the thing. If he managed it, then it would prove that these idiots were no match for Ciel! Or at least, it would prove that Ciel could be very convincing when he wanted to be.
"Fine," he said finally. "You have yourself a deal. If I get at least one hundred requests during the next club meeting, you won't come to my estate. But only if I get to choose what we do at a future host club meeting."
Tamaki looked thrilled, like he had already won the contest. "Great! It's a deal then! Good luck!"
"Like I need something as silly as luck," Ciel said, smirking, a flash of red glinting through his eye. Tamaki did a double-take, paling slightly, but shook his head like nothing had happened.
Ciel would win this little contest, without a doubt, and then the host club wouldn't be able to bother him at his home. It was one less thing for him to worry about when there was still so much to do.
Basic market research told Ciel that Funtom Products would be very popular in Japan, and he was planning on doing a bit more of an in-depth look to find out which products in particular should be focused on in which areas. Ciel hoped to have a few stores open before he moved on to new things, or at least have them planned out and in the process of finalization. Ciel didn't want to be in Japan any longer than was necessary, and he would kill two birds with one stone if it was possible.
This was actually one of my ideas, so I don't have any credits due to my fine reviewers today, but I should be getting to some of your ideas soon enough! MyraBrown and readaddict123, among others, might notice my setup :)
Side note, I had completely forgotten about this fic. Thanks to my reviewers! You're always inspiring!
Also, I scanned over the OHSHCxKuroshitsuji crossover page for the first time in forever, and I was blown away by people who've started doing the 'missing girls' and 'royal assignment' plots. I feel like a trendsetter! Those two things will actually be very important later on, so if you're a fan of those, hold on! We've got a bit more fanservice before any real plot comes up.
Question: Is anyone keeping up with the latest in Kuro-news? Like maybe that new Kuroshitusji anime that's being made right now? You know, that one that's going to follow the circus arc of the manga? You know, that one called Black Butler Book of Circus and is really awesome and you should watch if you're a fan of the anime? Yes. This is a real thing. Would I lie to you?