I apologize to everyone who is reading this story. I meant to have this chapter up on Saturday and it is now Thursday. Hopefully you can all forgive me for the delay. :(
Even as this story comes to a close, I don't own Kuroshitsuji.
No real warnings for this chapter other than a bit of horror and lots of fluffiness.
Just a note: the relationship between Grell and Ronald in this story is strictly friendship/brotherly. I feel that Grell is combatable with pretty much everyone, except Ronald. I don't know why, but I just can't see them together. There is some minor Grelliam in this chapter.
Red Cookies: Thanks for your review. I'm glad you liked the story and didn't think William was too OOC. I hope you like this last chapter.
Poison1234: Thanks for reviewing. Sorry I made you sad, but maybe it's a good thing since it was meant to be a sad chapter. :P I hope you like this chapter.
Artfan: Thanks for the review. I'm glad you liked the last chapter and hope you like this one too.
Fleya: Thanks for reviewing. Thanks, I am feeling better and thanks for sending your sympathies. I'm glad you liked my writing of Eric and Alan, I was worried that I wouldn't get them right. And thanks for the compliment on my fear of William's OOCness. I hope you like the new chapter.
Madame Grell: Thanks for your compliment, I feel all warm inside. I hope you like this chapter.
Without further ado, on with the final chapter!
Ronald stirred slightly at the sound of approaching footsteps. The familiar clacking of heels calmed him, for he could always pinpoint that noise. Ronald managed a small smile for he had hoped to see Grell upon waking.
The blond turned over on his side, slightly wincing at the protest from his aching ribs. There standing in the doorway were the outlines of two figures. Ronald sat up, ready to greet his friends. His smile slowly faded as he realized that neither of them moved closer, they stood in the shadows of the doorway. Ronald's heart raced in his throat at the realization that their silhouettes did not match those belonging to his superiors. He sunk against the wall.
"Don't be like that, pretty reaper," the distinguishable voice spoke.
Ronald gasped as he tried to call for help to no avail. The only sound he managed was a squeak as his words ceased in his larynx.
"We weren't finished, were we, little whore?" the scratchy voice taunted.
"No, no, no," Ronald whimpered. His back hit the wall as he frantically shook his head. "No, you can't—you're dead."
"Don't be so sure," the other voice said.
Ronald tried to move only to discover that his hands were trapped against the wall. He glanced up and nearly screamed at the sight of his wrists shackled by iron cuffs against the wall. The giant figure crept onto his bed as Ronald struggled against his restraints. He went to scream again, but was silenced when the demon's bloody hand clamped itself over his mouth.
Lon leaned forward, the horns nearly scratching Ronald's forehead. The reaper could smell that musty stench radiating from the demon's pores along with the rancid breath as Lon exhaled on him. "There's no one to save your worthless hide this time." He laughed then exclaimed, "I'm going to take my sweet, sweet time with you. And I'm going to make it as painful as possible."
"No! Leave me alone!" Ronald shouted as he thrashed about in the sheets. His eyes opened wide and he stared wide at the hospital walls, not aware of reality.
The nurse rushed to his side. "Knox! Knox, listen to me," she cried in a panicked voice. Ronald continued to writhe and jerk. She turned back to her colleague. "Get me a sedative, quick!" she yelled before turning her attention back on the screaming reaper. She placed a hand on both of his wrists while whispering soothing shushes to him. "You're okay, Knox," she said. "You'll be fine."
The other nurse hurried over with the requested medication. A third nurse held Ronald's body down as more pressure was added to his wrists by the first nurse. The needle was inserted into Ronald's arm and the liquid quickly administered. The three released the flailing shinigami and backed away as the medicine began to take effect.
"No," Ronald said softer. "No, please." His voice became fainter with each passing second until he slumped into the first nurse's arms. She continued to lull him with kind words as he fell into a dreamless slumber.
The sound of the lock being released stirred the redhead from his light snooze. He jumped up and stared ahead at the ones responsible for the sudden sounds. He squinted to see the blurred outlines of his supervisor standing alongside the shinigami who locked him up a mere two hours ago.
Grell stood and smoothed the wrinkles from his clothing. There was a red handprint on his face from where he had been lying. He adjusted the beads on his glasses and pushed the frames up on his nose to clear out the blurred vision before him.
"William?" Grell asked.
The mentioned adjusted his glasses, his trademark stoic expression upon his face. No words were exchanged between the two, but from what Grell could gather of the somewhat pained look in the other man's eyes he could tell his boss knew more about the night's events than what he revealed those two hours before.
Norton opened the barred door and offered a weak smile to the redhead. "All the paperwork's been filled out. You're free to go, Mr. Sutcliff," he said in an almost inaudible voice. As Grell exited the cell, Norton moved further behind the door as if to protect himself from a possible retaliation.
Grell offered the detective no passing glance as he looked squarely at the dark-haired man who so often occupied his thoughts.
Grell's nose wrinkled displaying his lack of understanding. After a few moments of silence the red reaper spoke up. "How?" he asked. "How did you find out? The only witnesses are dead."
There came no verbal reply. The tension in the room nearly suffocated the three. For a second Grell wondered if perchance one of them had survived, but the lack of response quickly eliminated that theory. It was then that everything clicked for the shinigami.
"What did he tell you?" Grell asked, not bothering to hide the anger in his voice.
William held eye contact with his subordinate. "He told me everything you failed to," William responded with no emotion. "The charges against you have been dropped."
Grell sucked his lip and broke eye contact with his superior. A glare replaced what had once been surprise. William felt that Grell would react the news in said manner, but inside he knew that he had done the right thing.
"You couldn't leave it alone?" Grell hissed.
"I wasn't going to let my best reaper die because he's too stubborn to—" William began.
Grell's scoff cut him off. "That was Ronald's secret," he snarled. "You had no right to force it out of him!"
William's eyes narrowed. "Sutcliff," he said in a warning tone, pausing for further effect. His features and voice softened as he continued, "When I told him what could possibly happen to you if I didn't get his side of the story he willingly told me."
Grell frowned, his glare losing only a bit of its intensity.
William continued, "You protected him tonight. It was his turn to protect you."
Grell's anger transformed into sympathy. "Then you know why I couldn't tell you," he said sadly.
William nodded. "Don't fret, Sutcliff," he said in that rare display of compassion. "No one will ever need to speak of these events again."
"There will be talk and questions," Grell said. "What do you plan on telling everyone?"
William answered, "The simple facts that two demons attempted to interfere with a reaping mission and were killed out of self-defense." William adjusted his glasses once more then added, "It's the truth and will satisfy everyone's curiosities." The stoic man turned his attention to Norton, "I trust that you will keep the details of tonight's events from leaking."
"I'll do my best," Norton replied.
Grell glowered at the man which made him shrink further into himself. "You'll do better than that," the redhead threatened through his shark teeth.
Norton quickly nodded, not daring to say anything else to the red reaper.
William felt that he should have verbally reprimanded Sutcliff for his actions, but was too tired to begin a potential argument with the other. It had been a tiring night for the whole team and would most likely take at least a week for everything to begin to return to normal.
"May I see him?" Grell asked at last.
"I don't know if that's a good—a good id—" Norton stammered. A swift glare from Grell instantly silenced the detective.
"If he's still awake," William answered. He placed a hand on Grell's shoulder and led him away from Norton. The detective let out a sigh of relief as the red reaper disappeared from his view.
The two walked in silence down the dimly lit hallway, with the exception of Grell's stiletto heels clacking along the tiles. It took two minutes for William to realize that he was still holding onto Grell's shoulder. With a slight blush he removed his hand, clenching his fist as it dangled by his side.
Grell had been waiting so long to feel William's touch, but at the moment he was too distracted by various thoughts racing through his mind to even notice. The instance the hand left Grell glanced over at the abandoned shoulder with the feeling that only the ghost of a warm touch remained.
The silly thoughts vanished from the redhead's mind as the image of Ronald being forced to perform fellatio on that most disgusting of lower creatures surfaced. Grell grasped his forehead with a gloved hand and inhaled sharply with shut eyes, hoping to push those vile memories from his mind.
"Everything alright?" William asked, noticing that his companion had halted in his tracks.
Grell glanced up at the slightly older shinigami. "Yes," he answered, pushing forward. "It's nothing."
William could tell from Grell's harsh way of spitting out his words that there was more to the story than he was willing to reveal. He simply allowed the smaller shinigami to keep his secrets for the time being.
The willingness to keep his distance until Grell was ready to talk did not bar him from speaking his mind. "Grell," William said breaking the other from his thoughts. Grell turned slowly, the shiny hairs spinning about his body. William pushed his glasses up his face then crossed his arms in front of himself. "If you ever need anyone to talk to, I'm here."
Grell offered William a sincere smile. "Thanks," he said softly. "I'm glad to hear that."
With the air cleared the two continued their walk towards the hospital. Just as they were nearing the room William placed a hand on Grell's shoulder to stop him.
"Sutcliff," he said, his eyes showing all seriousness again. "It would be best if you granted Knox his personal space for a while. He's not responding well to physical contact."
Grell allowed for the words to sink in before nodding. He was never good at keeping his hands to himself, but for Ronald's peace of mind he was willing to cooperate this one time.
At the sight of blood on the approaching shinigami's shirt everyone in the waiting room assumed Grell had met with a nasty fate. However it was the fierce look in his eyes that warned everyone to move aside.
When Grell returned from the mission he refused to allow anyone to look him over. The absence of pain in Grell's face assured William that the wound he acquired in battle had already begun (if not completely) healing.
The receptionist called out to the redhead who merely walked by without passing her a glance. William quickly apologized on his subordinate's behalf, but was not given much time to await her reply as the last thing he wanted was to lose sight of Sutcliff.
Norton made the mistake of revealing Ronald's room number to the feminine reaper. Nothing, not even threats of overtime or termination, could slow Grell's strides.
Fortune shined on William as Ronald's doctor turned the corner inches before they reached the room. He waved at the two realizing them to be in Ronald's department. William grabbed hold of Grell's shirt and pulled him back before he could barge into the room.
"Visiting hours are over," he said, holding the clipboard against his chest.
Grell scoffed. "I don't give a damn about your policy," he said much to William's embarrassment.
"Forgive my underling," William said, sending a glare to the redhead. He resumed his attention on the doctor. "They've both been through enough tonight, so if he could just have a few minutes with him."
The doctor gaped at the bloodstained clothing that snugly formed to Grell's figure. "You were the one who was there when it happened?" he asked short of breath.
Grell's eyes narrowed causing the doctor to slightly jump. "If you know what I did to those demons, then you know what I'll do to you if you don't let me see Ronnie," Grell threatened.
The doctor bit his lip. "I would really like to, but…" he trailed off leaving both full of concern. William nodded, giving the professional permission to continue. "The nurses had to sedate him about a half hour ago."
"What for?" William asked.
"Severe nightmares," the doctor replied. "If you like, you may follow me and I'll let you know everything that's happened in the last two hours."
"Are you allowed to do that?" Grell asked.
The doctor nodded. "Yes," he answered. "In his medical paperwork, Ronald Knox listed the two of you as emergency contacts and the only ones he gave consent to know the details of any…incidents." Grell snarled at the doctor's choice of words.
"Please," William said, adjusting his glasses.
"This way," he said, gesturing with his hand. William followed directly behind the doctor with Grell in tow.
Suddenly the redhead stopped and glanced back towards Ronald's room. He stared back after William and muttered an apology to his boss before slipping away. He pushed the door open and entered. With the door securely shut behind him Grell glanced over at the sleeping blond. His heart broke to see his little brother in such a fragile state.
Grell slumped down in the chair next to the bed. He watched Ronald's chest slowly rise and fall. It gave the older reaper a bit of comfort to know that Ronald was getting some rest, a least for now. The black-framed spectacles were folded and placed on the table beside the bed.
Grell reached out and grabbed the pale hand that was draped over the bed. Both of Grell's large hands clamped over Ronald's smaller one. His palm was cold to the touch.
"I'm sorry," Grell whispered into Ronald's hand. There was no response from the sleeping blond.
Grell gently placed Ronald's hand across his abdomen. The night's events replayed through his mind. It was a night that neither would soon forget, yet ironically the one moment their hearts prayed to erase.
"Blaming yourself won't help anyone," said a voice from the doorway. Grell need not turn around, for he had grown accustomed to that voice in the past hundred years. William shut the door and with crossed arms moved behind the chair. It was not surprising to Grell that William soon discovered his absence.
Grell stared down at the floor. Without having to see the other's eyes William knew the expression on the red reaper's face. It was the same sorrowful look he had in his eyes when he began to feel true remorse for what he did to Angelina and the others.
The shinigami clad in black stripped of his jacket. He handed it to the skinnier one. "Come, it won't do any good for him to wake and see you like this," William said.
Grell gingerly accepted the jacket and folded it over the chair. He unbuttoned the soiled shirt and tossed it into the wastebasket. The action was not surprising to William, as back when they were in the academy, Grell had no qualms about undressing in front of him. There were several scars from previous battles, and the near healed wound on the smaller shinigami's arm would leave a splotch of discoloration, if only to serve as a cruel reminder of the night's events.
Spears' jacket was used to cover Grell's tiny frame. For the third time that night he was experiencing firsts with William he could only wish would have happened on happier occasions. Grell fastened each button. The garment was still warm and William's scent remained. The cloth was baggy on his form, but it would do.
Grell tugged on the jacket and stood, turning sharply to face the stoic shinigami. At this point there was little sense in trying to mask his emotions.
"If I had only gotten there sooner," Grell confessed at last. He broke eye contact with William and his gaze fell back on Ronald. "How can he move on after something like this?" Grell turned back around and for the first time in his life his supervisor did not have the answer.
"Our kind has survived this for millennia," William replied.
Grell snarled, "Don't give me facts and case studies!" He stopped a sob before it exposed itself through that outburst. In a calmer voice he added, "Ronald isn't just another number in the stats. He's a living being with feelings and…" Grell trailed off as a single tear slipped past the defenses. Grell sniffled, hating himself for shedding tears in front of William. He hugged his arms around himself and said, "You didn't see how frightened he looked when they…what they did. He had lost all hope, so powerless." The tears welled in Grell's eyes, not even bother to threaten the lids keeping them in place. The dam broke allowing for the river to flow freely. "I could see it in his eyes. He was wondering where his partner was, why I didn't come to save him."
William wanted to interrupt, but knew it would only interfere with the healing process if he added his two cents before they were welcome. With Grell it was best to just let him rant his feelings for as long as need be.
Grell choked on a sob then swiftly rushed towards his supervisor. His arms wrapped tightly about William's torso and Grell rested his forehead against William's chest. Warm droplets soaked through the stoic shinigami's shirt. After a moment of surprise William allowed himself to return the embrace. Grell snuggled closer towards the warmth and continued to shower his closest friend with tears.
The two stood in silence for nearly ten minutes, only the sounds of sobs and sniffles filling the room. Once all the tears were spilled Grell lifted his head, the soft hairs tickling William's chin. William reached into his pocket and provided a handkerchief for the other. Grell nodded his thanks and dabbed at what remained of the bleeding mascara.
"Keep it," William said, pushing Grell's hand away when he tried to return the soiled cloth. Grell glanced down, his fingers wrapping around the black wad of fabric.
"I'm staying until he wakes," Grell said after a moment of silence. The look in his eyes showed that he was willing to fight to the death if anyone so much as tried to argue with him.
William nodded in reply. "Very well," he said. "Given the circumstances, I doubt anyone will force you to do the opposite." He headed towards the door and suddenly stopped. With a last glance towards the redhead he said, "I'm always here for you, Sutcliff."
"Thank you," Grell replied. "For everything."
William nodded then left.
Grell spun around. He resumed his spot in the chair beside Ronald's bed. A few minutes passed without any incident leaving Grell to wonder if he made the correct decision.
Suddenly Ronald's breathing appeared to be more labored than earlier. Grell noticed a slight twitch in his eyes. Ronald jerked sharply towards the left. His lips parted and he released a small whimper. Grell reached over and gently shook him to no avail.
Ronald gasped and jerked harshly once more. Grell stared wide-eyed, hating that William had not stayed a bit longer; the level-headed reaper would probably be more useful in such a situation.
There was no time to linger on what they lacked. Grell tightened his grip on Ronald's shoulders and shook him with more force, immediately afraid that he might have reinjured one of Knox's wounds. Ronald's head jerked and his eyes flew open. He tried to scream and gasp for air at the same time which sent him into a fit of coughs. Grell helped him onto his side and patted his back until he regained the proper use of his lungs.
Ronald fell limply against the bed, loudly sobbing. Grell ran a hand through Ronald's two-toned locks while speaking soft shushes to him. The action seemed to calm the younger reaper which gave Grell the incentive to continue until the sobs turned into sniffles.
"Shh, it's okay, I'm here," Grell cooed, still gently petting Ronald's hair.
The smaller shinigami turned over to face the other. He squinted and made out the slender figure with that infamous red draping over his frame. "Gr—Grell?" Ronald asked weakly.
"Yes, I'm here," Grell said.
He handed Ronald his glasses who promptly put them on. Glad to be relieved of the temporary blindness Ronald offered a meek thanks to his supervisor.
"Am I awake?" Ronald asked.
Grell could tell by the stammer in the young reaper's words that he had suffered a rough time since his arrival in the hospital. Grell was only a witness to the crime and could only imagine what Ronald was feeling.
Grell merely nodded in response to Ronald's question.
"Were you released?" Ronald asked.
"Hush, don't worry about that," Grell said sitting down on the edge of Ronald's bed. "And yes."
Ronald moved closer to Grell and cuddled into the redhead's welcoming embrace. Grell rubbed his hand up and down Ronald's arm while his other hand gently massaged Ronald's scalp. Ronald nuzzled deeper into the hug. He had avoided physical contact from all others, but there was something so inviting and warm about Grell.
The two sat in silence for what seemed like an eternity with Ronald receiving physical comfort from Grell. As long as his big sister was there to protect him he need not worry about the nightmares.
"I keep seeing their faces each time I close my eyes," Ronald said, breaking the silence.
Grell began rubbing circles on the smaller man's back. Ronald adjusted in Grell's grasp so that he could see the older reaper's eyes.
"Do you know of any way to forget?" Ronald asked. His pleading eyes broke Grell's heart.
Grell merely tightened his hold on Ronald. He wanted nothing more than to tell him that time would heal the wounds, but in that case he was not sure. However, he wondered if a lie was worth the temporary comfort.
"I didn't think so," Ronald said lowly. He averted his gaze from Grell. "I should've just given them the souls, or called for help, but no I had to be brave." He broke from Grell's hold, slightly surprising the red reaper. "I was so stupid for thinking I could take them on when I haven't even taken proper defense classes." Ronald chided himself for not accepting Grell's offer to teach him combat training a year ago. "I was just asking for them to—"
"Whoa! Hold on!" Grell said gripping Ronald's arms tightly. "Don't you say another word!" The eyes previously full of sympathy now displayed anger. "This isn't your fault. They took advantage of a rookie shinigami. Don't you dare say that this is your fault anymore. There was no way you could've known." Grell paused, allowing the wave of fury to pass. With another beat he added, "I'm sorry I didn't get there sooner."
Ronald placed his hands atop of Grell's. "It's not your fault," he said softly. "If it wasn't for you that other one would've done something much worse." Ronald visibly cringed at the memory of what Roe threatened to do. "You saved my life."
Grell wanted to argue further, but his body was too exhausted. He wanted to promise Ronald that he would not blame himself any longer, but that was one he could not keep. It would take an equally long time for the red reaper to forgive himself, but to know that Ronald already forgave him for something he was not at fault for was enough to comfort him for the time being.
"Hey, Grell," Ronald said, snuggling into Grell's embrace once more.
"Hmm?" Grell asked.
"When I'm released tomorrow, do you think it would be too much for me to stay at your house for a while?" he asked. He looked up and added, "Just until the nightmares stop."
Grell nodded. "It's no problem," he said, stroking Ronald's hair.
Grell made a vow to himself that he would keep a closer eye on Ronald for the remainder of their days. It was something that any sister would be willing to do for her younger brother. Together they would make it through the storm and find a brighter day. It was a relief for both to know they would not have to suffer alone.
The end. I hope you all enjoyed the ending to this story. I might do a sequel to it sometime in the future, but as of now it's a big maybe. I don't want to beat this storyline into the ground, so it's just a pending option right now.
Thank you to everyone who read and especially to my reviewers. You guys are awesome.
Just a side note in relation to the story. This is something I learned while interning at a violence prevention organization in college. If anyone you love or know is raped, sexually assaulted, or the victim of a violent relationship the number one thing to know is that you must never blame the victim. No one deserves that kind of treatment, no matter what. They are already feeling fragile and powerless enough and blaming (saying things like, "If you weren't drinking," "If you didn't wear that," "You know what kind of people frequent there," etc) will only lead to further guilt, self-loathing, and feeling that he/she deserved it.
Also, don't seek revenge. That will just put more stress on the victim who has already been through a violent ordeal. It should be the victim's decision on what he/she wants to do about it. This is just something I thought I'd share with everyone. If you are interested in further information, you can check out the Rape Crisis Center website along with other sites that give information on what to do if someone close to you has been assaulted.
Have a wonderful day, everybody. Thanks again for reading.