"Until" by objectlesson (R)

  • Feb. 10th, 2015 at 10:54 PM
Title: Until
Fandom: Kuroshitsuji | Black Butler
Pairing: Sebastian/Ciel
Categories: Character study, supernatural, dark
Length: Medium (4,435 words)
Warnings: Underage relationship (13-year-old boy/ancient demon), though the sex is only implied. Suicidal ideation. Possible TW for eating disorders.

Author on AO3:  objectlesson

Summary: Long before he contracts the Earl of Phantomhive and becomes Sebastian Michaelis for better or for worse, he was known as a poet and a fool among demons.

Review: Reading Object Lesson's stories always feels a bit like standing in the eye of a thunder storm. There is something potent, almost electric in their prose. "Until" is a perfect example of this, a short but beautiful character study that takes an entirely different look at Sebastian than I've seen from other authors in this fandom. One of the central premises of Kuroshitsuji is that demons are guided primarily by their sense of aesthetics. Object Lesson takes this conceit, along with various quips that canon characters have made about Sebastian being "half mad with hunger," and runs with them.

As the summary implies, this Sebastian is an aesthete who "sought beauty while his peers sought sustenance." This Sebastian is melancholy, prone to introspection and self-destruction in equal measure. In Ciel, of course, he finds the beauty he was searching for, to the ruin or possible salvation of them both. Object Lesson has a great grip on these characters, and on the painful but beautiful relationship between them. The end result is a character study that is insightful, poetic, and hopelessly, tragically romantic.

Title: bring you to my hell
Fandom: Kuroshitsuji | Black Butler
Pairing: Sebastian/Ciel
Categories: Supernatural/horror/creature fic, established relationship, PWP, dark
Length: medium (4,725 words)
Warnings: Underage (13-year-old boy/ancient demon), danger kink, master/servant dynamics

Author on LJ:  [livejournal.com profile] dustofwarfare
Author Website:  dustofwarfare

Summary: Other devils might enjoy offering fruit to tempt the innocent into damnation, but Sebastian -- he much prefers sharing it with one already damned.

Review: As Ciel eats his orange after the Book of Circus arc, Sebastian reflects on his own hunger, on temptation, damnation, and forbidden fruit. But as the summary implies, Sebastian's role is not to tempt in this story. Ciel is already damned, and once again, he has an order that surprises Sebastian.

This is a hard story to rec without spoiling its central premise, which is one of the main reasons I've hesitated to post about it here. But [livejournal.com profile] dustofwarfare is one of my favorite Kuroshitsuji writers, and this is a great read to start off 2015's year of recs. Her Sebastian is always a delight to read, and always a refreshing change from the many mundane AUs floating around. As in furnace room lullaby, which I previously recced here, Sebastian is more demon than butler in this fic, and Ciel wouldn't have it any other way. As the warnings imply, this story is not for everyone. This is a Sebastian who, as in canon, literally hungers for his master, and a Ciel who gets off on testing the limits on that hunger and of his demon's patience. Ciel is canon-aged in this story, so there is shota/underage. However, it does not particularly focus on his youth as a kink. Instead, [livejournal.com profile] dustofwarfare highlights the qualities that make Ciel so formidable in canon. He may be damned, but he knows it, and he's quite prepared to step into that good night with Sebastian when the time comes. In the meantime, Ciel, as always, knows exactly what he wants -- and he expects Sebastian to deliver it.

bring you to my hell

"Untouched" by GarGoyl (NC-17)

  • Nov. 25th, 2014 at 11:30 PM
Title: Untouched
Fandom: Kuroshitsuji | Black Butler
Pairing: Sebastian/Ciel
Categories: Canon AU, future fic, horror, angst, casefic, master/servant
Length: Epic (52,547)
Warnings: underage (13-year-old boy/ancient demon), dub-con, drug use

Author on AO3:  GarGoyl

Summary: After failing to collect Ciel's soul in strange circumstances, Sebastian returns home in Underworld to brood over his misfortune. But little does he know how their fate will change now that he is no longer the butler...

Review: One of the primary strengths of "Untouched" is GarGoyl's version of the Underworld where Sebastian makes his home between contracts, not to be confused with the Victorian underworld where Ciel and Sebastian solve cases for the queen! A lesser demonic noble, Sebastian (or the Black Crow as he is known in his own world) is charged with occasionally advising and carrying out tasks for the mysterious Council that rules the Underworld, much like Ciel in his role as the queen's watchdog. This role reversal between Sebastian and Ciel is one of the primary motifs in this story, playing out in some interesting and entertaining ways, though I can't elaborate much on that without spoiling the plot.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should say "Untouched" is not without its flaws. I wasn't a fan of the author's use of epithets, and Ciel's characterization didn't always work for me, although those things are, of course, subjective. However, the plot kept me engaged enough to keep reading despite those quibbles. I really enjoyed this take on Sebastian's demonic life, which is very different than anything else I've read in this fandom. The minor characters were also entertaining. The Undertaker is especially great in this, and I also found myself surprisingly fond of the OC who serves as Sebastian's housekeeper. This kind of imaginative, plotty story was exactly what I was hoping to find when I first started reading Kuroshitsuji fic.


"Chasing Butterflies" by haldolhs (R)

  • Nov. 18th, 2014 at 10:20 AM
Title: Chasing Butterflies
Fandom: Kuroshitsuji | Black Butler
Pairing: Sebastian/Ciel
Categories: Dark, angst
Length: Medium (12,063 words)
Warnings: Angst, bondage, spanking,

Author Website:  haldolhs

Summary: Ciel is held hostage by personal demons. Sebastian vows to do whatever it takes to recover his lost master.

Review: Ciel, now twenty, is determined to take out a serial killer on his own, having ordered Sebastian off to France on a wild goose chase. This works out about as well as you'd expect.

Where to even start with this story? I found it during an idle sweep of AO3 one lazy morning while only grudgingly awake and not quite ready to get out of bed yet. I clicked on "Chasing Butterflies," read the first two paragraphs, and immediately got out of bed to make coffee because I could tell I'd stumbled across something good and I wanted to be awake for it. And, yes, it was worth getting out of bed for!

As the tight third-person limited narrative dances around the story's central question of why Ciel sent Sebastian away, it reveals new questions, and new facets of their relationship. Haldolhs lays out a tantalizing path of crumbs that hint at Ciel's life from thirteen to twenty without ever losing the present conflict in drawn-out backstory. The end result is that Ciel is recognizably himself, but more so, his forceful personality and reckless streak rooted in an adult's sense of self. If Ciel manages to survive to twenty in the manga, he will probably end up something like this. Sebastian, too, is beautifully characterized in this, though I feel I can't say too much about his role without giving away the plot. His dialogue is spot-on, though, as are the power dynamics between them. I also appreciated that this is one of the few Kuroshitsuji stories I've read that lets Ciel top. "Chasing Butterflies" is one of those stories that reads like a jigsaw puzzle, every new bit of information sliding another piece into place until we're finally able to see the whole of Ciel's relationship with Sebastian. The final picture it forms is breathtaking -- dark-edged, surprisingly romantic, and layered with symbolism. This is absolutely a must-read.

Chasing Butterflies

"Terms and Conditions" by sonderling (NC-17)

  • Nov. 12th, 2014 at 12:30 AM
Title: Terms and Conditions
Fandom: Kuroshitsuji | Black Butler
Pairing: Sebastian/Ciel
Categories: PWP, negotiation, first time, virginity
Length: medium (7,281 words)
Warnings: underage/shota (thirteen-year-old boy/ancient demon), dubcon, negotiation

Author on AO3:  sonderling

Summary: "Since that day, I have always been young master’s faithful servant. I shall do whatever young master wishes… in exchange for the sacrifice… and the pleasure that has been offered."

Sebastian thought they'd negotiated the terms of the contract quite clearly, but Ciel's got a few, well, conditions.

Review: In "Terms and Conditions," their contract entitle Sebastian not only to Ciel's soul upon his death but also to "small samplings" of it during his lifetime. (I'll give you one guess what sampling entails!) For the past three years, Sebastian has been waiting patiently for Ciel's soul to ripen with adolescence. Now, that long-awaited day is finally here -- but before Sebastian can get a taste, Ciel has a few conditions of his own.

Take a good look at the warnings because what you see is what you'll get in this PWP. Consent issues, age issues, and uneven power dynamics are pretty much a given with this scenario. But if you're onboard with the idea of Sebastian and Ciel negotiating for Ciel's virginity, you have come to the right place! "Terms and Conditions" promises porn and it delivers. However, it is well-written, in-character porn, and if you've poked your head into the Kuroshitsuji tags on AO3, you know what a rare find that is! Sebastian's aesthetics (and his own self-serving nature) make him want to convince Ciel to be just as enthusiastic about this new turn in their relationship as he is. And while Ciel is nervous and inexperienced, he still shows the forceful personality and strength of character that make him so intriguing in canon. Strong characterization, lovely prose, and smoking hot sex make this one of my favorite Kuroshitsuji stories. I'm just crossing my fingers that sonderling keeps writing in Kuroshitsuji because the fandom could use more stories like this!

Terms and Conditions
Title: Lust is but Gluttony's Twin (series)
Fandom: Kuroshitsuji | Black Butler
Pairing: Sebastian/Ciel
Categories: First time, supernatural, virginity
Length: Medium (the series as a whole is about 15k)
Warnings: Underage/shota (13-year-old boy/ancient demon), references to previous non-con (not between Ciel and Sebastian)

Author on LJ:  [livejournal.com profile] _newworld

Summary: “Gluttony is your sin of choice, is it not, Sebastian?”

Review: Ciel supposes that demons are free from human desires, driven as they are by their deep hunger for souls. When he suggests this theory to Sebastian, however, he learns that lust and gluttony are overlapping sins, sometimes impossible to tell apart. Realizing that Sebastian hungers for his body as well as his soul, Ciel tries to re-draw the line between the two of them, even as part of him desperately wants to cross it.

The UST in this series is absolutely sizzling as Ciel and Sebastian dance around the line between earl and butler, master and demon. Kagome beautifully layers this new element into the power dynamics that already make the Sebastian/Ciel relationship so intriguing. I loved watching Ciel and Sebastian try to one-up each other in their new game, and I loved the perfectly in-character dialogue. And when they finally do decide to cross that line, the sex is well worth the wait. Part character study, part PWP, and part meditation on the nature of hunger and desire, this series is one of my favorites in the Kuroshitsuji fandom. Unfortunately, since it's hosted on LJ and not AO3, it's also one of those gems that new fans might have to do some digging to uncover, especially as only the final story in the series contains links back to the others. I'm including links to all four stories below to make it easier for readers to find their way across it.

Lust is but Gluttony's Twin
The Thin Line Between
Lead me (not) into Temptation
Lines not to Cross
Title: It's the Fault of the Kid in the Dress
Fandom: Kuroshitsuji | Black Butler
Pairing: Sebastian/Ciel
Categories: Fantasies, Telepathy/Soul Bond, Virginity
Length: Medium (3,648 words)
Warnings: Underage (13-year-old boy/ancient demon)

Author on ff.net: Sanpizil

Summary: In which Ciel and Sebastian share, or don't, an intimate moment- or a non-intimate one. Complete whimsy.

Review: Ciel can't stop thinking about the way Alois (the "kid in the dress" to whom the title refers) licked his ear at the Trancy ball. Although "he's never really thought about that kind of thing before," too focused on his work and his revenge, Ciel finds himself reflecting that ear licking might actually be pleasant, if someone other than Alois were doing it. Naturally, his thoughts stray to Sebastian. But fantasizing about a demon has unexpected consequences.

It's hard to review this story without spoiling the central conceit that makes it so wonderful. Let me just say that, literally and figuratively, it works on many levels. On the one hand, it's a story of Ciel's sexual awakening. On the other hand, it's a story of the relationship between Ciel and Sebastian, mostly proper on the surface, but with hints of much deeper possibilities. The characterization is golden in this fic. I especially liked that Ciel, though young and virginal, isn't the wilting violet some Kuro writers like to cast in his place. Instead, their dynamics echo the mentor/mentee relationship Ciel and Sebastian have in canon, where Ciel's forceful personality and power over the demon help to balance their differences in age and experience. Although short, this story packs a powerful amount of characterization, and it's worth reading multiple times to catch all of the nuances folded into it.

It's the Fault of the Kid in the Dress

"Eternity" by Xenobia (NC-17)

  • Oct. 8th, 2014 at 10:55 PM
Another week, another late rec. *headdesk* One of these days I'll get my act together.

Title: Eternity
Fandom: Kuroshitsuji | Black Butler
Pairings: Sebastian/Ciel, William/Grell, with brief Sebastian/Grell and hints of William/Grell/Undertaker
Categories: Future fic, first time, creature fic
Length: Epic (127,208 words)
Warnings: Technically underage, although the relationship between Ciel and Sebastian remains platonic until Ciel is 17.

Author on AO3:  Xenobia

Summary: Ciel awakens to his new life filled with questions that only his butler can answer for him.

Review: After the end of the Kuroshitsuji II anime, Ciel and Sebastian are both adjusting to Ciel's transformation and the changed terms of their contract. Ciel struggle to embrace his new life, clinging to the remnants of his humanity even while moving on from his identity as the Earl Phantomhive. For his part, Sebastian remains one hell of a butler, mentoring Ciel through his transition even as he wrestles with his own conflicted feelings for Ciel and for his changed role in their contract. Meanwhile, Will and Grell are trying to track down a dangerous supernatural killer, with some surprising help from the Undertaker.

"Eternity" is technically a sequel to an earlier Sebastian/Grell PWP. Although you don't need to read it to understand the story, the casual Sebastian/Grell relationship developed in the prequel does carry into the first part of "Eternity" -- much to the chagrin of Ciel and William. However, the main pairings in this story are definitely Sebastian/Ciel and William/Grell. For me, the slow-burn romance between Sebastian and Ciel is the highlight of this story. As Ciel physically matures, he finds himself dealing with a newfound attraction to his butler, leading to all sorts of adorably awkward UST. I appreciate that Xenobia gives them the space to grow into their feelings for each other and the physical aspect of the relationship. I was also surprised at how much I enjoyed the plot with the shinigami. Undertaker is a gem in this story, and I loved watching him interact with Grell and William. The killer they are trying to track down also has an interesting backstory with a satisfying link to Undertaker's past.

While this story is not as polished as I'd usually prefer (the prose could use some tightening, and the plot loses some focus near the end), it's a good read nonetheless. I've enjoyed it a few times now, and definitely recommend it.



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Short: under 2,000 words
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