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The Mongoose Under the House

Chapter Text

Xander Harris watched, as the water fills the white sink, in the boy’s locker room. When it was about halfway full, he leaned over and splashed some of the icy water onto his face, before dunking his head under the spray of the faucet with a relieved sigh. Causing the throbbing headache that had been as constant as a ticking clock for the last two weeks, to taper off a bit and to become just a dull ache behind his eyes. With his face under the water Xander opened his eyes, frowning when he saw the cloudy redness at the edges of his vision, he jerked back from the sink. Bright scarlet blood covered the sink. It ran down the front of it and onto the floor into a puddle that stopped just before it touched Xander’s sneakers.

Xander, clenched his fists as he closed his eyes, shaking. From behind he heard a low animalistic growl. Xander turned away from the sink and opened his eyes to look at what caused the noise. By the door of the locker room lay a Spotted Hyena, with radioactive green glowing eyes, but instead of fur like it should have had, it had metal spikes, in blacks, silver and rust colors, of varying sizes all over it. Making the animal otherworldly and frightening to behold. It had been his companion for the last two weeks along with the headaches. Mostly though it had stayed in his dreams…this was the first time he had seen it while he was awake…at least Xander thought he was awake this time.

Xander left the locker room, pausing by the hyena to pick up his backpack that was laying by the animal, she rumbled at him before it slowly got to its feet, the spikes on its back clanked together in a pleasing chiming noise. Xander ignored her when it followed him out of the locker room and down the hall to the library. Giles had called for the Scooby’s to meet. Yay, Xander thought, unenthused.

Xander entered the library, the hyena laid down by the door. He walked over to the table where, Buffy Summers, the current Slayer, the ideal when it came to being a California girl, tossed her shoulder length blonde hair. Buffy’s hazel eyes were bright and happy as she flirted with her souled vampire boyfriend, Angel. Buffy was, Xander knew, brilliant when Buffy was in slayer-mode but as just Buffy, the girl?

Buffy, well, at least she was pretty? That had to count for something, right?

Xander didn’t like Angel, though. For several reasons. The biggest one was that Xander had been trying to get Buffy’s attention. Something Xander had been trying to gain from the moment he had seen her. Not so much so now. But the girl hadn’t seemed to notice that and would treat Xander like gum to be scraped off the bottom of her shoe before remembering she was supposed to be his friend.

Another one was that Buffy didn’t want to face facts about how useless Angel was when it came to helping them keep Sunnydale safe from those who tried to use the Hellmouth for bad things. The dark haired and eyed vampire also did not know any pop-culture references that someone who had been around for as long as Angel had should of, even dressing in a metro-sexual style, did not make him cool.

Not even a little bit.

Xander’s best friend, Willow Rosenburg watched Buffy and Angel with a wistful look even as she hid behind long locks of her shiny red hair with an envious look in her green eyes, when she wasn’t looking at Cordelia Chase lustfully, from beneath her eyelashes.

Xander wondered how long it would be before Willow did something about how she felt about the black haired and brown eyed cheerleader. Cordelia was filing her nails in a bored fashion, and Xander wondered why she was even here for this meeting until he saw her sneak a glance at Willow.

Oh, things were starting to make sense.

Ever since they had got stuck in that closet after Parent-Teacher Night, Willow and Cordelia had become closer, but Xander hadn’t realized that Cordelia might share the same feelings for Willow. The wealthy girl was a new addition to the gang and Xander had thought she was only here so they could keep her alive. Queen C was no dummy, she needed to know who was protecting this town and wanted to make sure they were protecting her from the demons and monster that roamed it.

Xander walked over to the table they were sitting, he pulled out a chair and sat down, hanging his backpack on the back of the chair. Rupert Giles came of his office; the Englishman dressed in his one of the suits that he always wore, adjusted his glasses as he came over to the table, he asked, “I need to know if there are any aftereffects from Ethan’s spell from Halloween.”

“What kind of aftereffects?” Willow asked.

“Have any skills or memories lingered from that night,” Giles said, his eyes pausing on Xander before looking at Buffy.

The Slayer shrugged, “I can speak and read French like a native, and I know how to needlepoint as well as manners from the sixteenth century. Nothing useful.”

Willow looked uncomfortable, shifting in her seat, “I know the afterlife exists in some fashion now without a doubt,” her voice grew soft, “I, I sometimes see people, who I know have died. They look like a negative from a photograph. They don’t scare me or bother me. So like Buffy said, nothing useful.”

“I got my costume from Party City, remember,” Cordelia said, scathingly, when Giles looked at her.

“And you, Xander?” Giles asked.

Xander looked up from the table, then over to where the hyena lay by the door, before dropping his gaze back to the table. He didn’t want to do this but knew he would have to show them, or they would never believe him. Xander raised his head and let his eyes slide over Willow, no, she would be too easy. Xander knew her too well already. Then over to Buffy, and no, she was too much like Cordelia deep down, and Xander had known Cordelia as long as he had known Willow.

Angel? No. But…Angelus? Yes, he would do. Xander closed his eyes and let the gold pendulum swing back and forth in his mind— Xander opened his eyes and looked at Angel— No, Angelus dressed in a white linen shirt and brown pants. He watched as the vampire kicked up a foot on to the table revealing black calf high boots. Xander stood and strolled around the table. His eyes never leaving Angelus’s, the vampire’s smirk falters for a moment before growing more prominent, the monster ran a hand through his shoulder-length brown hair.

The pendulum swung again—

“I awake in the cold and dark. I can’t breathe. Slowly I realized I don’t have too. I can feel the grain of the wood above me. I want out. I need out. I will get out, and the world will tremble before me.” Xander blinks and found himself in the cold and dark he just spoke of; he can feel the wood under his fingertips, “I punch at the wood above me.” Xander punches at the wood and feels it break and give way even as his knuckles bleed, then quickly heal, from the force he is using.

“Dirt falls in on top of me, I crawl through it until I break through the surface, I take an unneeded gasp of breath,” Xander said as he broke the surface of the grave, gasping for air in the chill of the night even colder than what it had been in the grave, it made him shiver. “I stand, knowing that I am no longer who or what I was before, and I’m grateful for that. I’m grateful that my creator, my sire for making me more than the drunkard that I was…” Xander paused, frowning, his stomaching rumbling, “But, I’m hungry.”

Pain, like Xander, had only felt when his parents had for forgotten to feed him when he was younger because they had spent the money on beer instead of food, hit him. Xander took a deep breath, to feel this…hunger all the time? Knowing it could only be sated one way, “I know where I can get a meal…I, go home.”

Xander blinked, and he was standing outside of a small cottage. And for once he wasn’t afraid to go inside of it. What he had once been scared of could no longer hurt him. He was strong now. “My sweet, trusting girl, my dear little sister, is the one who lets me in. I kill her quickly,” Xander snapped, the ten-year-old girl’s neck, catching her before the body hit the ground.

Xander picked up the child with long brown hair and cold dead brown eyes and placed her on the nearby bed, “I didn’t want her to see the monster I know that I will become this night, that I am. I don’t feed on her. But I lay her in bed.” Xander pulled up the blankets and sweetly tucks them around her, “Tuck her into bed as I have always done. I ignore the tear on my cheek. It means nothing. She means nothing now.”

“I hear the front door open, and I sigh. Now my hunger can be sated on the true monster in the house, my father. He will never be able to hurt me or my sister again. I stand,” Xander stood turning to face his father, he smiles, baring his fangs and lunged at the man grabbing him and drinking deeply from his father’s neck, not at all bothered by the man’s struggles, or screams of terror. Xander reveals in it, it’s so good, the taste of fear in the hot, thick blood flowing into his mouth, like rich red wine.

“I drop my father’s corpse on the floor of the cottage,” Xander wiped his father’s blood off of his mouth as he made his way out of the cottage, “There my sire waits for me. I leave my father’s house. Never to return, never wanting too—”

The gold pendulum swung once more,

This is my design,” Xander whispered into Angel’s ear. Before he straightened and walked back over to his seat, Buffy, Willow, and Cordelia all looked at him horrified, Giles looked concerned.

Angel paled and for a vampire that was saying something, when he said, swallowing hard, “Who,” he stumbled over the word, “who did you go as on Halloween?”

Xander said nothing but opened his backpack and pulled out a book, and tossed it on the table before closing the bag and shouldering it; then he walked out of the library without saying a single word.

Buffy pulled the book closer to her, “The Red Dragon, by Thomas Harris.”

Willow frowned, “Isn’t that the book with Hannibal the Cannibal?” Willow got a terrified look, “Tell me that Xander didn’t go as Hannibal Lecter! Xander couldn’t have...” Willow trailed off not even able to finish the thought.

Giles held out a hand for the book. Buffy gave it to him, and Giles quickly read the back of it, “No, Willow. Xander didn’t go as Hannibal Lecter.” Willow let out a sigh of relief, but her breath catches in her throat when Giles said, “No, he went as the man who caught Hannibal Lecter. Will Graham, an FBI profiler, with an empathy disorder that allows him to empathize with anyone to the point where he can almost literally become them.”

“It that what just happened here?” Cordelia asked, “Did Nerd boy become Angel?”

No,” Angel hissed. “That wasn’t me!”

“He became Angelus?” Giles asked.

Angel closed his eyes and nodded.

Buffy shifted in her chair, “Will this make Xander dangerous to us or others?”

Angel laughed coldly and wondered why she couldn’t see Xander Harris for what he was, “Harris has always been dangerous.”

“Will Graham has hundreds of serial killers in his head, the most dangerous being Hannibal Lecter. If Xander doesn’t have Will Graham memories but only his abilities then,” Giles paused, “Right now, Xander only has one of the most dangerous vampires ever to live in the last few centuries in his head.”

“So,” Cordelia drawled, “That’s a yes, right?”

Chapter Text

Halloween Night, Two weeks ago.

 

Will Graham is sure this is the most complex hallucination to date.

After Will’s bout with encephalitis, he never quite saw the world as he had before he got sick. Having hallucinations and an imagination that was always stuck on, all the time, had become the norm for him. Will took off the black-rimmed glasses that he didn’t need for anything but reading and driving at night, and he stuck them in the inside pocket of the jacket he wore, frowning down at his clothes. Will hadn’t dressed this, well, cheaply since before he got out of jail, for the crimes Hannibal did as the Copycat Killer.

Speaking of the cannibalistic serial killer, the last thing Will clearly remembered was shoving himself and Hannibal Lecter off of a cliff, after killing the Great Red Dragon, Francis Dolarhyde.

What, Will didn’t understand was why he was hallucinating a small California town where everyone has become possessed by their Halloween costumes? At least that was the girl with the red hair had told Will after she had stuck her hand through his chest. Before exclaiming something about a Muffy or Fluffy and ran off. Will followed after her, and when he caught up to her, the red-head was trying to calm down a brown-haired girl in an old-fashioned pink ballgown, who was a scream at every little thing that spooked her. Will learned that the girl, when not possessed, was, in fact, a supernatural warrior for the Powers That Be, (yes, Will could hear the Capital Letters in that), called the Slayer. Someone that fought vampires, demons and the forces of darkness to keep humanity safe.

Will would rather be hallucinating than believe any of this was real. But he was being presented too much proof, that it was indeed real, which was a more frightening prospect than Will going crazy, again.

You sure about that, Will? An accented voice whispered through Will’s mind.

Shut up, Hannibal. Will thought in reply.

Rude, Will, Hannibal said.

Will’s mouth tilted up at the corner. You like me that way, he thought. Hannibal’s voice didn’t reply to that. Will knew it wouldn’t. It was an undeniable truth known to both him and Hannibal.

***

Will regretted saving the dark-haired girl in the skin-tight cat costume from the werewolf that had been chasing her. She was mouthy and bitchy, and Will was sure not one kind thing had come out of her mouth in the last twenty minutes he had been in her company, while they had been in the Slayer’s house. He had visions of cutting out her tongue, to have a few minutes of peace. The only thing that had saved her from this fate was that her running commentary about everything was informative, as it was amusing, when her insults are not directed at him. Will learned that the body he was possessing was a teenage boy called Xander and that he was the token male among a group of strong-willed females. Will got the feeling the girls had the kid wrapped around their pinky fingers.

Will felt sorry for the boy, his friendships with these girls couldn’t be easy ones.

***

There were souled vampires? Those were a thing? Why? Was this an Anne Rice novel he stumbled into, not that Will had ever read one of those. He might have seen the movie as a teenager, maybe?

Shut up, Hannibal. Will thought.

I said nothing about your movie choices, Will.

You were going too. Will told him.

Hannibal didn’t reply to that. It was true.

Will disliked the souled vampire, Angel.

God, really, why? Why him? Will wondered, not for the first time what he had done to deserve this?

Then Will remembered, oh, yeah, he had killed a couple of people, (who had it coming, by the way,) and planned the escape of Hannibal Lecter from jail so that they could kill another serial killer.

Will ran a hand over his face and glared at Angel; the guy had pretty much-dismissed everything Will had said, which had been only common sense. Something no one else in this room had. When the vampire frightened Lady Scream-a-Lot after that vampire showed his more demonic face, glowing yellow eyes, fangs and bony ridges on his nose and forehead, making the guy look like a disgruntled kitten, in Will’s opinion, causing the girl to run in a panic out of the house. Will agreed to go looking for Scream-a-Lot with Commentary Cat, while the ghost and souled vampire went to see the person, they thought could hopefully do something about what was going on.

This is a very detailed hallucination, Will Graham thought, for the hundredth time tonight.

Are you sure this is a hallucination, Will?

What else could it be? Will asked, rolling his eyes at the sound of Hannibal’s voice.

***

Will Graham shot the yellowed-eyed, demon-faced, Billie Idol look-a-like, ten times in the chest and the vampire still kept trying to get to Scream-a-Lot, who lives up to her name, hadn’t stopped screaming. Finding her had been effortless. Will had lost Commentary Cat somewhere along the way; the girl was smart; he wasn’t too concerned about her.

The blond vampire looked down at his chest, “A gun? Really? Thought you were one of the smart ones? Those just tickle, a bit.”

Will had shot this creature again in the chest, and it only looked irritated when the bullet landed. He raised his gun and pulled the trigger—

A spray of water hit Spike in the face much to Xander’s surprise, looked down at the gun with a frown. He hadn’t thought this type of water gun had that far of a reach. He looked back up when he heard Spike’s cry of pain.

Oh, yeah, now Xander remembered, he had filled this one with holy water. Xander smirked, at the vampire, as he watched the thin bits of smoke escape from Spike’s skin where the sacred water had hit it.

Spike glared at Xander and snarled, “You’re going to regret that, boy,” coming towards Xander again but paused when the slayer stopped scream and sat up, pulling off the brown wig she had been wearing,

“Honey, I’m home!” Buffy said hopping to her feet. 

Xander backed away from Spike slowly, while the vampire kept an eye on Buffy, the main focus of Spike’s attention was on Xander. Which Xander thought was odd. He was just the normal one of their group. Nothing about him was unusual enough for that type of focus, Xander thought. Not when Spike had been trying to kill Buffy from the moment Spike had stepped foot in Sunnydale.

“Hey!” Buffy said, a pout in on her face. When she realized neither the vampire nor her friend took their eyes off of the other. “You're supposed to be more worried about me, Spike! I’m the Slayer, remember! Not Xander!”

Spike gave Buffy a dismissive look before he said, “Another night, Slayer,” then to Xander, “I’ll be seeing you again, pet.” He quickly left the alley.

Buffy started to give chase but stopped when Xander asked, “Are you okay?”

Buffy blinked at him wide-eyed, then she rubbed her forehead, grimacing, “I don’t—” she was cut off by Angel calling her name,

“Buffy!” Angel exclaimed again as he entered the alley, “I saw—” But Buffy cut him off when she said, “Angel!” Breathlessly.

Xander rolled his eyes, “Oh, my god,” he muttered to himself, as he brushed passed Angel as he left the alley. Xander decided to go to the high school library and maybe Giles could tell him just what the hell happened tonight.

You know what happened tonight, Xander, a voice other than Xander’s own whispered in his head, You and I, have…begun to…blur.

***

It was dusty and hot on the plains of the Savannah, the tall grasses looking like wheat in the low sunlight, to an inexperienced eye. Xander took a deep breath, the scent of whiskey, cigarette smoke, blood, and death, filled his lungs, reminding Xander of the smell of home. It was time to call his Pack back to him to see his family once more.

In the distance, a roar of a lion could be heard, and even closer was a yipping laugh that caused a shiver of primal fear to streak down his spin. Xander turned to see a Spotted Hyena, with radioactive green glowing eyes, but instead of fur like it should have had, it had metal spikes, in blacks, silver and rust colors, of varying sizes all over it and instead of a tail, it had a spiked mace. It was beautiful and unnatural…and Xander wanted to pet it.

Xander took a step towards it, and the hyena growled at him. Xander stopped frowning at it. The hyena barred its fangs at him and stalked towards Xander. Xander took a step back but it was too late, the hyena lunged at Xander’s throat. Knocking Xander to the ground, because of the spikes on the hyena when Xander tried to push the creature away he cut up the palms of his hands, blood covered the spikes, and the hyena clamped its jaws around Xander’s throat before he could even scream…

Xander’s head snapped up, and he looked around wildly for the creature that he was sure tried to kill him in his dream. He took in the sight of the library with a sigh of relief. He had fallen asleep at the table waiting for the others to get here. Xander could hear Giles in his office. Xander wondered if the Slayer’s Watcher knew anything about dreams? Because of that one? Had been the most vivid one he ever had — only one way to find out.

“Hey, Giles?”

Dreams prepare us for actions we take in life, came the whispering voice, in Xander’s mind. The one that wasn’t Xander’s own. Once more Xander ignored it.

***

Giles had been unhelpful. Watchers can only interrupt Slayer dreams. Xander though did know himself, and he was a simple guy. He knew what the spiked hyena represented in his dreams. The hyena was his fear of the loss of control when the Primal Spirit possessed him. And the hyena covered in spikes? Xander had stolen the Watcher’s Journal from Giles’s office a couple of weeks after Spike had shown up in town and read it. The blonde vampire was dangerous to them merely because the guy had a goal in mind. Spike, according to the Watchers didn’t do anything on the scale of becoming the Master of Hellmouth Underground, unless he had a goal in mind. He and the rest of the Scooby’s didn’t know what it was yet.

So, yes, Xander was afraid of Spike. Because Xander couldn’t predict what the blonde was going to do. Xander sighed to himself as he gathered up his things. He was going to go home and try to get some sleep. Hopefully, things would look better tomorrow.

Tomorrow is another day, said that voice in Xander’s head.

Shut up, Xander thought back at it.

Fear makes you rude, Xander, said the voice amused.

Xander didn’t answer it, but left the library and went home.

***

Xander was staring at the hyena that haunted his dreams, which would be fine, except for one small fact.

Xander was awake!

Xander knew he was awake! He remembered waking up this morning, eating some breakfast and coming to school! Xander talked to Buffy and Willow in French class last period. He was awake! Xander leaned back against the row of lockers; it was a few minutes before the third period.

The hyena was standing in the middle of the hallway, eyes glowing that eerie green. It backed up and jerked its head. Xander frowned and stepped forward, startling when the bell for the Third period rang out. Students began to pour out of classrooms and into the hallway.

Xander blinked, and the hyena was gone. Xander turned and went to class.

***

Xander stood in the booth at the shooting range. The gun a comfortable fit in his hand. He stared at the target, he raised the gun and fired it once. He frowned when he realized he missed the target. He sighed and hit the button that would bring the target to him, on the table. Xander looked back at the target and saw Garret Jacob Hobbs’s corpse coming towards him… Xander jerked the gun back up and pulled the trigger—

Bang

Bang

Bang

BANG!

BANG!!!

Xander jerked his head up from his desk and looked at this chemistry teacher, who was standing in front of him, the ruler he had been using to bang on the table; he now tapped it on the table in a rhythmic fashion.

“Is my class boring you, Mr. Harris?”

“No, Mr. Avery,” Xander said, rubbing his eyes.

“Pay attention.”

“Yes, sir,” Xander muttered. The moment the teacher turned away from him, Xander laid his head back down on the table and closed his eyes.

***

After Xander left his Chemistry class, he grimaced. Pulling a bottle of aspirin from his pocket and opened it, shaking a couple of pills into his hand and took them dry, swallowing hard to get them down. Xander was sure he had, had this same headache for the last week.

The nightmares were just peachy

***

"You were supposed…to leave,” Will/Xander looked away from the scared girl, he thought of as a daughter, he whispered the words, his back to Hannibal. But knowing his friend was behind him. This plan of Jack Crawford’s had been a dangerous idea from the start.

Will/Xander had wanted Hannibal to pay for what he had done to Will/Xander but…the more he got to know Hannibal the more, interesting the man had become to Will/Xander. So much so that Will/Xander didn’t want to go through with this anymore. Will/Xander didn’t want to see the man in prison; some beasts were not meant to be caged. Or dead, it was more fun, when Hannibal had agency in the world.

“We couldn’t leave without you, Will.”

Will/Xander turned to see Hannibal, his white dress shirt covered in blood and the tired look on his handsome face, along with the broken expression in his eyes.

Will/Xander knew that he was the cause of that expression and Will/Xander hated it. He stayed still as Hannibal came closed, and laid the palm of his hand on Will/Xander’s cheek gently…PAIN, sharp, and deadly, as Hannibal pulled Will/Xander closer to him. Blood poured from Will/Xander’s abdomen, soaking his shirt and pants, falling to the floor.

Will/Xander barely heard Abigail gasp of denial at what was happening…

Xander woke in his bed with a scream caught in his throat, the memory of the bloodbath left in Hannibal Lecter’s wake fresh in his mind. Jack, Alana, Abigail and Will all of them had been left for dead in that kitchen. Abigail, a girl, Xander’s age killed by a man that was supposed to protect her. Killed while the other could only watch while he bled on that kitchen floor wondering why? Why was Hannibal doing this?

Xander sat up and pulled off the sweat-soaked tee shirt and threw it on the floor. Then stumbled out of bed and over to the bathroom, flipping on the light and squinting at the sudden brightness. He turned on the water at the sink and splashed some water on his face. Will Graham haunted Xander’s dreams of late. When wasn’t it random serial killers or the memories of the people Will Graham had known?

It was always that one scene in Hannibal Lecter’s kitchen. Xander knew how to get away with murder now. Xander had the memory of the taste of human flesh on the back of his tongue, haunting him every time he saw a piece of meat on his plate.

The taste of the food was no longer as enjoyable as it once was to Xander.

Will Graham…Xander wished he had never read that book. Never had the idea to go as Will Graham on Halloween. But Will Graham had been the only character in fiction that Xander could relate too. It was a curse to be able to see everyone so clearly. To know what their motivations before they did. Xander tried not to look to offend. Because of that Xander couldn’t hate Will Graham.

No, what Xander felt was more akin to pity than hate or anger. Will Graham suffered as no other Xander knew besides himself did and…and Hannibal Lecter was right, Will Graham suffering was…beautiful.

Xander shuddered at the thought and looked up into the mirror over the sink at his reflection. He frowned when the glass began to crack…wait; it wasn’t the glass, Xander realized with horror, but his face! He watched as the cracks formed around his eyes, his cheeks and nose and chin, even his forehead. Xander reached up and touched a piece just under his left eye, and the piece fell away, as did another, and another, each one more quickly than the last.

Slowly revealing the other face that was lying beneath Xander’s face. Their skin was pale; bright stormy ocean blue eyes gazed at Xander coldly. The older man had a scar on his left cheek, and other on his forehead above his right eye, a chin with a slight cleft in it, and dark, longish, curly hair.

“We are conjoined…” Will Graham said, from his place in the mirror.

“NO!” Xander screamed…

 

…Xander jerked awake, the scream from his dream aching to be released, but he held it back. He sat up and pulled off the sweat-soaked tee shirt and throwing it to the floor before getting out of bed and going to the bathroom, and grabbed a couple of towels from a shelf from memory not daring to turn on the light and avoiding the mirror. Xander went back to his bed and laid one of the towels on the bed before putting back down himself and covering up with the other towel. He ignored the hyena that raised its head, eyes glowing as it looked at him from across the room.

Xander closed his eyes, flinching when he heard the mocking laughter come from the creature.

Chapter Text

And Now…Present Day.

 

Xander blinked, surprised to find himself in his bathroom. The last thing he remembered was tearing Angel apart with his, no, with Will Graham’s empathy.

Xander wasn’t sure how he got home…he didn’t remember leaving the library. Xander ran a hand over his face, tiredly. He left the bathroom and turned out the light as he did so before going to his room. Once inside Xander closed the door and leaned back against it with a sigh. Xander didn’t know why he could now do what Will Graham could and do it as well as Will Graham could do with his empathy.

Xander didn’t want to be able to look at people and see…everything. He barely understood what was going on in his head most days, to know what went on in other people heads…he didn’t want to do that or remember it.

“It’s not like you couldn’t do something similar before, Xander.”

“But I didn’t look before!” Xander snarled, answering the voice in his head for the first time since he had started hearing it. “I needed to know,” he paused a crash from upstairs could be heard followed by yelling, “the feel of a room from the moment I walked into it from a young age. It’s different from what you do.”

“Is it?”

Xander frowned, looking into the corner of his room where the ugly orange lounge chair was, sat a man somewhere in his mid-thirties, his dark, curly hair neatly styled. He had his legs out in front of him, crossed at the ankle, in his hand, he held a Tumbler glass full of whiskey…it was Will Graham.

“Who are you?” Xander asked, fearfully. Not believing what he was seeing before him or not wanting too.

Will Graham gave Xander a mock salute with the glass, causing the ice to clink on the side of the tumbler, “You know who I am. I’m Will Graham.”

Xander nodded, because it was Will Graham, just not, “Not the one from the book,” he stated.

Will smirked, “Clever boy. No, but I am a Will Graham.”

Xander shook his head.

“The multi-verse theory states—”

“NO!” Xander almost shouted, “Don’t go bringing the multi-verse into this!” The last thing Xander wanted to do was try and wrap his head around alternate reality theories. Dealing with the supernatural on a daily basis was hard enough.

Will laughed, “Xander, a Chaos Mage brought people’s costumes to life on Halloween and possessed them. There were hundreds, thousands of versions of Will Graham that could have been chosen to possess you.”

“And I got you?”

Will inclined his head, “You got me,” then took a sip from the tumbler.

“Great,” Xander muttered, rubbing his hand over his face again, “I got the version who’s in love with Hannibal Lecter.”

Will’s eyes went wide, and he choked on his whiskey, coughing, he said, “I’m not… He’s in love with me! There is a difference, you know!”

And yet, this version of Will Graham didn’t deny it, Xander thought.

Xander had all of Will Graham’s memories. Xander knew how the man felt about Hannibal Lecter. Even if Will didn’t want to admit it or was in deep denial about his feelings. It wasn’t what Xander thought love was or should be, but Xander couldn’t deny that was what Will felt for the older man. As dark and twisted the feelings he had were for the man. And Xander was sure it wasn’t his place to judge—

“Oh, my god!” Xander mumbled, ignoring Will’s quizzical look, “Why am I even thinking? You’re just an after effect from Halloween!” He pointed at Will, “You’re just a hallucination! You’re not real!”

“If I’m not real? Then that means you’re losing your mind.” Will said straightening the cuff of his burgundy colored shirt before wiping his hand on his black pants.

“I’m not crazy!”

“Yet, here you are,” Will said taking another drink, “arguing with a …hallucnination.”

Xander closed his eyes. How could he defend himself from that? When Xander opened his eyes, Will Graham was…gone.

***

Xander yawned, tiredly, opening his eyes. He sat up in bed and scratched his head, pulling back the covers and swinging his feet out of bed. Looking down Xander frowned, his feet covered in dirt, Xander yanked the covers of his bed and saw there was more dirt stains as well as some leaves and twigs. Xander took a deep breath, trying to keep the panic at bay, could he have been sleepwalking? It had been years since the last time he had done that.

***

Xander walked through the woods, carrying a rifle, he paused in the clearing. The hyena ran ahead, flushing small prey out of the bushes. He stopped feeling a presence by his side, turning to look. He saw a canine creature that resembled a gray wolf it had bright, familiar blue eyes, and it had feathers, scarlet reds, forest greens, sky blues, sunlight yellows, woven throughout its fur. Where it should have had white fangs, it had fishing hooks that curled down and stabbed at the bottom part of its muzzle causing it to bleed repeatedly.

Suddenly the wolf-creature began to growl, low from the back of its throat, it stepped in front of Xander protectively, as a stag stepped into the clearing. It was an older animal if the size of its rack of antlers was proof of its age, and as the wolf it was…different. Instead of fur, it had feathers too, as dark as inky, black shadows, its eyes a glowing red.

“Do you want me to shoot it?” Xander asked. The wolf stopped growling and looked up at Xander confused, before nodding its head.

Xander brought up the rifle, aimed and—

 

Xander found himself standing in the hallway of the high school. The low canine whine came from his left side. He looked over to see the hyena, its spikes scrapped against the lockers loudly, as it walked by them. The hyena raised its head when it noticed she had Xander’s attention. Xander followed as the hyena walked down the hallway of the school and out a side door into the quad. It walked past the fountain over to where the picnic tables were, Xander could see Will Graham sitting at one of them.

And he wasn’t alone.

Sitting next to him was a girl with pale wind-chapped cheeks, dark hair and blue eyes that reminded Xander of Will’s. She wore a scarf with red and black roses on it around her neck. Abigail, Xander thought, watching as she laughed as the hyena walked up to her, and Abigail petted it on its muzzle, causing the creature to sneeze, making its spikes clink together sounding like wind chimes.

Sitting next to Abigail was a man a few years older than Will, he had ash blonde hair that was slowly going gray, dark eyes that reflected red when the light hit them the right way and cheekbones that could rival Spike’s in sharpness. Hannibal, Xander thought. Hannibal was wearing a well-tailored suit, that, Xander didn’t know much about fashion, but he was pretty sure that orange and red plaid shouldn’t work with green and blue paisley? The man made it work? Somehow?

“Xander!” Will called, motioning him over with a wave of his hand. Xander walked over to the table and sat down next to Will. The feeling of family, washed over Xander when he did so. He looked over the picnic table to see it was cover with a vast arrange of food that smelled wonderful and made his stomach growl.

“What’s for lunch?” Xander asked.

“Don’t ask that,” Abigail said with a kind smile.

“It will spoil the surprise,” Hannibal said, passing Xander a plate.

Xander took the plate and looked down at it. There was a raw, bloody, human heart on it. He looked at it then up at Hannibal and Abigail, who was observing him. Xander looked over at Will, who only smiled encouragingly at him. Xander picked up his fork and knife and cut into the heart; blood dribbled out of it onto the plate. He stabbed a forkful and brought it up to his mouth; he chewed thoughtfully for a moment before he said, “Not bad, could use some Pepper, though.”

Will looked at him proudly, and said, “I told you he would fit right in with us.”

“So, you did, Mylimasis,” Hannibal told Will, “He’ll be a good addition to the family.”

“I always wanted a brother,” Abigail said, softly.

“Is that what I am? Family?” Xander asked, confused.

Will ran a hand through Xander’s dark, shaggy hair, “Sweet boy,” he murmured, “You are so much more than you know,” as he leaned closer to Xander and Will brushed his lips against Xander’s temple, “Don’t worry, I’ll—”

 

“—Xander!” Cordelia barked.

Xander blinked, feeling as if he was coming awake. He found himself at the same picnic table he had been sitting at in his…dream? Vision? Hallucination? He didn’t know what to call them anymore, the afternoon sun beat down on him, and his headache was back in full force.

“What is it? What do you want?” Xander asked, wondering why the cheerleader was even talking to him. She hadn’t done so willingly since before they had started junior high.

“We have a quiz for Chemistry, like right now!” Cordelia told him, her hands on her hips.

Xander frowned, confused because he was pretty sure he didn’t even, “Do I even take that?”

Cordelia gave him a concerned look before walking up and slapping her hand on his forehead, frowning. “You’re hot.”

“Thanks, Cordy.”

Cordelia rolled her eyes, “No, moron! You have a fever.”

“Oh, that.” Xander said, “I’ve had it for a couple of days now. I can’t seem to shake it.” More like a couple of weeks, Xander thought. It would break, and he would end up with night sweats from it and then it would come back worse than it had been.

“If you are not feeling better in the next day or so? Go to the doctor! I don’t need to get sick because Willow was around you!”

“Thanks for the concern, Cordy. Did it hurt?”

Cordelia confused, “Did what hurt?”

“When your heart grew a size?” Xander asked with a smirk.

“Whatever. Now let’s go. I don’t want people thinking I was late because I made out with you or something.” Cordelia told him.

“Think of the scandal! Rich girl makes out with a poor guy from the wrong side of town. Oh, the horror!”

Cordelia nodded, “You are one…” her eyes widened as she trailed off, her gaze on the spot over Xander’s shoulder. “We…we should get to class,” she said before hurrying away.

Xander looked behind him and saw Will Graham standing behind him, “What was that about?” Xander wondered.

I think…” Will whispered, sounding surprised as he said, “I think Cordelia saw me.”

“How?” Xander asked incredulously, “How could she see you? You, you’re a hallucination! My hallucination!

“I’m not sure,” Will said. “But I think she did. You should get to class.” 

“Yes,” Xander said, standing up and picking up his backpack, “Because that’s the important thing here. Not, oh, I don’t know, the fact I’m losing my mind! Or anything!”

“You’re not crazy, Xander,” Will said, smirking at him, “I’d tell you if you were.”

“Yeah,” Xander drawled, walking away from Will, “like I’m going to believe you…”

“If you can’t believe me? Who can you?” Will’s voice purred through Xander’s mind.

“Maybe not the person who’s a manipulative righteous serial killer?” Xander thought back at Will, who went quiet at the words. Xander knew Will Graham couldn’t argue with that truth.

***

Xander looked down into the trunk where he kept his stockpile of stakes and weapons that he had gotten from raiding vampire nest and demon lairs after Buffy had cleared them out. His collection of stakes was dwindling, which was odd since he hadn’t been on patrol with Buffy for a while.

Xander shrugged, he’d think about it later. He glanced over at the clock, shit, he thought, Xander closed the trunk, with a snap of the lid and left his room. He needed to hurry, or Buffy would start patrol without him.

***

It was the low purring female voice that brought Xander out of his current state making him feel the chill of the autumn air keenly, though the shiver that went down his back had nothing to do with the cold but with who was speaking to him.

“Kitten, was dream walking again?” The dark haired and eyed vampiress asked, sweetly, in a sing-song manner. She was wearing an old fashion high waisted white dress, that had short sleeves but went down to her ankles, that glittered in the light from the street lamp, her bare toes wiggled on the grass.

Drusilla? Xander wondered if that was who this was? Who else could it be? Buffy had described her so well, and the female vampire matched Buffy’s description of the otherworldly beautiful woman that knew Angel.

“Dream walking?” Xander muttered. Was I sleepwalking again? He wondered, to himself, looking down he saw he had a stake clenched in his right hand, tightly. “Did I hurt someone?”

“Saved, Princess, you did.” Drusilla cooed.

“From who?”

Drusilla pouted, “Nasty Anointed One’s minions. They weren’t happy when my Spike killed him; they were ever so angry.” She blinked, her eyes wide, putting a finger to her lips, “Mustn’t, mustn’t tell, Spikey. He doesn’t like it when I leave without telling him. Makes him cross, it does.”

“Drusilla?”

Drusilla clapped her hand together happily, “Kitten knows me! You see me!”

Xander shook his head, no, no…but he did, the gold pendulum swung in his mind and he couldn’t un-see now—

“I’ve lost everything!” Xander watched a small house covered in flames. “All that had come before was gone…my husband,” Xander watched in horror as his husband’s neck was broken by the demon that whispered to him at night from the shadows.

“My unborn child,” Xander had never felt such pain, as he gripped his swollen stomach, blood running down his thighs staining the white nightgown. The demon is watching possessively from the shadows, pleased with itself.

“My family!” The bodies of his parents and uncle lay cold, in pools of blood in the small hotel room they had been hiding in from Angelus, he had found Xander and had made him pay for running. “He took them from me!”

“I’m alone,” Xander whispered running toward the one place that he would find safety in. In the distance church bells rang, and he could almost feel the demon breathing down his neck.

Xander whimpered, in fear. “Going to the convent was the last resort…To keep the monster away, to be good.” Xander looked around the convent’s church, at the dead bodies of the nuns that lined them.

“Why had this monster targeted me?” Xander asked, “It’s because I can see what others do not. I never asked to be able to do that. I always thought it was a gift. I helped others with it. But…My Angel, my beautiful Angel, says I am bad…evil.”

Xander shuddered when he saw the vampire smirking at him, a blonde woman next to him was laughing joyfully at the sight of Xander’s suffering. Xander crabbed walked backward on the floor of the convent away from Angelus as he stalked towards him, “No, please…” Xander flinched when the vampire dropped to his knees and crawled across the floor towards him with lustful intent, “Please, no, …” he begged.

Angelus grinned and tore the neck of the dress, Xander wore, exposing his neck and chest, Angelus bit deeply into Xander’s neck making him scream— The pendulum swung in Xander’s mind—

This is my design,” Xander whispered, he looked up at Drusilla, he saw the tears in the dark-haired woman’s eyes, “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry…”

Drusilla shook her head, “You know me! Know my pain? “

“Yes,” Xander said breathlessly.

Drusilla’s expression turned vague and far away, “Not even my Spike knows my pain. Not truly.”

“I’m sorry.” Xander could only whisper again.

Drusilla shivered, before looking at Xander with bright eyes, holding out her hand to him, “Come, get up. It’s cold and late. I’ll escort you home.”

Xander blinked up at her and asked stupidly, “You’re not going to eat me?”

“Oh, Kitten, I would never eat you! Why would I eat someone who can see me? Besides, it would upset the Ravenstag and Lurewolf, greatly.” She told him.

On the walk home with the vampire by his side all Xander could think was, there goes my sanity.

“This is my gift to you, to know and to see.” Will’s voice whispered to Xander.

 “I don’t want it,” Xander whispered back.

 

Chapter Text

“…Willy’s bar. I was able to find out about the thing killing vampires, and other demons that fed on humans is that it has glowing eyes and is vaguely human-shaped. Most of the things it goes after are dead so… it’s all third-hand witnesses.” Buffy said, sighing as she sharpened a dagger.

Willow was flipping through ‘Demons of the Ages’ in a bore fashion, Xander knew the red-head had already read the book twice. Giles leaned against the table, arms crossed over his chest, his expression thoughtful. Xander winced as the throbbing in his head started back up, he reached into his pants pocket, pulled out a bottle aspirin, opening it Xander shook out three pills—two didn’t do anything for the headaches anymore and hadn’t for a while now.

“Why are you complaining, Buff?” Xander asked after swallowing the pills dry, “About someone or thing helping to keep the town safe?”

“Because it's my town and I’m the Slayer! Only I should kill demons and vampires!”

Which made no sense, Buffy hated Sunnydale and couldn’t wait to leave after high school was over. Where this sudden protectiveness for the town came from Xander didn’t know. Willow leaned over and asked softly, “Hey, Xander? You okay? You don’t look so good.”

Xander must look bad if Willow had to say something about it. “No,” he told her picking up his backpack, to everyone else, said, “I’m going to bail on patrol. My head’s killing me. I wouldn’t be any use to you, Buffy.”

“You never are,” Buffy muttered.

Xander froze because he had been helpful to her and saved her life more than once while on patrol. His voice when he spoke was cold, “Rude, Buffy,” clinical in a way that was not Xander. Buffy must have sensed something in his tone because she smiled, sweetly, and said,

“Feel better, Xander.”

Xander shook his head and walked out of the library.

***

The dark, sensual tones of Goldberg’s Variations, whispered on the wind, through the leaves of the trees, as the cold water from the stream flows past Xander’s legs, in his hands he held a fishing pole.

“I don’t think I’m much of a fisherman,” Xander said, “I think I’m more of a hunter.” The Hyena, was laying in a patch of sunlight, huffed an agreeing sound with Xander’s statement.

“Will and I are more like lures, aren’t?” Abigail asked, flicking her fishing pole.

Xander shook his head, “No, you are hunters, just a different sort.” Looking around Xander asked, “Where are we?”

“My memory palace,” Will said, softly, standing next to Abigail, releasing his fishing line into the water, with a practiced movement of his wrist. “This river is about a mile from my house in Wolf Trap. I come here whenever I need peace.”

“And to teach me to fish,” Abigail said.

Will smiled, nodding, “And to teach you both to fish.”

“Memory Palace?” Xander asked.

“A place where I store all of my memories, good and bad. Made up of many rooms, of people and places, events in my life. Somewhere I can retreat when the world and life became to banal to deal with,” Will said.

“Or a safe place to go to hide from the bad things in life,” Abigail said.

Will nodded.

“Do I have one?” Xander asked.

“Everyone has one. It’s just a matter of building it to the way you want it to be; it’s growing as we speak. Each day it becomes larger with every memory you make and wish to keep.” Will said, moving the fishing pole into his other hand.

“How big can it be?”

“As big as you can imagine it to be, the size of a living room or house. Some people have one the size of a medieval castle or the whole world.” Will told him.

“Some people can even have whole universes. It depends on you.” Abigail said.

Xander hummed to himself, thinking on what they had told him. He glances over to the bank to check on the hyena and saw it standing by a chestnut colored door; it is decorated with black and silver chains, and pulsed like it was breathing. Xander made his way out of the stream.

“What’s behind the door?” Xander asked as he walked towards it. When he got to it, he saw a key laying on the ground in front of it on a welcome mat. Xander bent down and picked it up, and inserted it into the keyhole under the doorknob. Before he could turn the key, a male hand grabbed his wrist. Xander looked up to see Will, it was Will’s hand around his wrist, and Abigail stood next to him, she looked warily at the door.

“Behind this door lay all my memories of Hannibal Lecter, both the good, bad…and terrifying.” Will said, “Are you sure you want to unlock this door, Xander? There is beauty, and there is horror, once you open it? You will let Hannibal into your head…And it is impossible to…get him out after, he is there.”

“You’re afraid of him,” Xander realized.

Will shook his head, “Should you not, fear a force of nature?”

“You don’t fight a tornado; you survive it,” Abigail whispered.

“Just be sure you want to know what’s behind that door,” Will told him, letting go of Xander’s wrist, “Because once you know, you cannot unknow it.”

“I want,” Xander said, turning the key, “to know…” he opened the door—

“…Xander!!!”

 

Xander opened his eyes to see Giles next to him with his hand on his shoulder. He looked around to find himself in Giles office laying on the couch. The music from his dream coming softly from the Cd player in the corner of the room.

“You were having a nightmare.” Giles told him, “I thought you wouldn’t stop screaming.”

Xander blinked, winching, and dug into his pocket for the bottle he had been keeping with him, and opened it, shaking out some to the pills, swallowing them dry, before replacing the cylinder into his pocket.

“Are you alright, Xander?” Giles asked, concerned.

“I’m fine, Giles,” Xander said getting up and leaving Giles office.

***

Xander was in his kitchen going through the cabinets looking for something to eat which was going to be hard since they were emptier than Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard? His parents hadn’t done any food shopping in… weeks? Or more? He couldn’t remember.

Xander sighed and closed the cabinet door. He noticed a cookbook on the counter. It was one from the time when his mother thought she should try learning to cook. He pulled it over to him, and he flipped through it. Stopping at a recipe that looked easy and tasty…

“Are your thoughts not tasty, Xander?” The accented voice asked, softy.

The familiar flavor of human meat burst in the back of Xander’s throat, making his stomach roll and his head spin. He shoved the cookbook away, stumbling over to the sink and lost the contents of his stomach into it. Once the dry heaves were over, Xander turned on the water, catching some in his hand and brought it up to his mouth to drink. He looked down into the sink to see—Bile, some aspirins and a human ear! In the metal sink— Xander closed his eyes and clenched his hand on the front of the sink for a long moment. When he opened his eyes, the sink was empty. Xander swallowed hard, bile rise again in his throat, the sharp, taste of human flesh in his mouth.

***

Xander got his food from the order counter and walked outside of the Double Meat Palace. The smell of the hamburger made his stomach growl; the fast food place had been rated one of the best in the tri-state area. He sat down at one of the outside tables and took a quick sip of his sweet tea, before shoving a handful of fries into his mouth. As he unwrapped his hamburger, once he had swallowed his fries, he took a big bite of his burger. It was hot, and juicy and flavorful…he chewed more slowly, thoughtfully.

The flavor, while good wasn’t beef, like the sign of the fast food place said. It was a familiar flavor though; it was wrong, the taste was wrong.

“Your palette has become more refined because of Will Graham’s memories,” a smooth, dark, accent whispered through Xander mind.

The taste was of… It was… Xander stood quickly and walked over to a nearby trash can and threw the burger away, then went back to his table and took a deep sip of his sweet tea. He stared at the Double Meat Palace sign, thoughtfully. The taste of the hamburger wasn’t that of beef. But if something else, something forbidden, something wrong to most people.

“It seems this little town is indulging in casual cannibalism.” The voice said amused because everyone had eaten at the Double Meat Palace at least once if they lived in Sunnydale. “Whatever shall you do about that, Xander?”

“Stop them. Help me?” Xander asked the voice in his head. “Please?”

“Only if Will asks me.”

“Pretty, pretty, please, Hannibal?” Will’s voice whispered, flirtingly, to Hannibal in Xander’s mind.

“Well, since you both asked so nicely,” Hannibal replied.

Xander wasn’t hungry anymore.

***

“I grind my victims in to ground meat.” Xander stood by a meat grinder feeding pieces of human flesh into the machine. “To feed the masses, not out of some need to kill, or others reasons, no, I kill them for greed. For the money my business.”

Xander blinked pulled out of his head at the sound of a door opening. He looked at the owner of the fast food place, “Seems we are not alone…” he frowned.

***

The next day, the owner of the Double Meat Palace was found outside of his business, crucified on one of the tables with half of his organs missing and the building behind him ablaze. The fire burned so hot all the firemen could do was control it so it didn’t spread to the other buildings but could do a thing to save the Double Meat Palace.

Among the gathered crowd, many who were teenagers bemoaning the fate of their favorite hangout. No one noticed the dark-haired boy with a self-satisfied smirk as he watched the Double Meat Palace burn to the ground.

***

Xander lay on the rug in front of the fireplace, eyes closed, relaxed for the first time in days. The fire crackled soothingly; he was vaguely aware that he was surrounded by a pack of dogs, laying around him in their beds. The only one that Xander could focus on was a one with red fur with black spots, of medium size, its head was laying on Xander’s thigh. Xander stroked its head absentmindedly as he stared into the flames of the fire.

Are your headaches getting worse?” Will Graham asked he was sitting at a nearby desk, making fishing lures.

“Yes.”

“And you’ve been having fevers?”

“Yes.” Xander said, and to Will’s concerned look, said, “I’ll be fine.”

“You’ve also been sleepwalking too.”

“Dangerous, I know, But I’ve been okay.”

“It’s Sunnydale, Xander! How long do you think your luck will hold out?” Will asked.

Xander shrugged, “I’m fine.”

Will rolled his eyes, “You’ll be fine when you are dead. Meanwhile, you are suffering. I’m concerned, Xander.”

Xander sighed, “You worry too much, Will. It’s just a headache and a bit of a fever.”

“Don’t say I didn’t warn you,” Will said, flatly.

Xander frowned, looking at Will, “Warn me? You haven’t warned me about anything.” Xander turned over and—

He fell onto the floor of the high school library. He glanced up to see Buffy looking down at him in annoyance, while Giles, Willow, and Cordelia were more concerned.

“Sorry, must have fallen asleep there for a second,” Xander said, getting back up in his seat.

“Xander,” Willow said, a worried look on her face, “you weren’t asleep.”

Xander only blinked stupidly at her. Buffy huffed and started talking again. Xander rubbed his eyes and looked down at the notebook in front of him and saw the recipe written out in…well, not his handwriting. Next to the recipe was a list of names, some Xander knew, some he didn’t, with the labels next to them that said,

Rude.

Wife Beater.

Murder.

Rapist.

And at the bottom of the page was, Which one should we chose, Xander?

Xander slowly closed the notebook.

Chapter Text

“…Oh, my goddess, Xander, this savory pastry is so good!” Willow said, after swallowing the bite of food she took from the plastic container.

They all that been researching the latest demon that had come to Sunnydale for the Slayer’s head. The library was like a second home to them all now. Xander had brought them what they had first thought was just some fast food leftovers from Xander’s house, but they had been surprised by a homemade dinner.

“I know. Who knew deeb-boy could cook!” Cordelia agreed.

Buffy shrugged, “It’s okay, a bit too French for my taste,” though that didn’t stop her from taking another bite of her food.

“Bite your tongue. Plus free food is always the best food.” Cordy said.

“You’re rich, Cordelia.” Buffy reminded the cheerleader.

“Free is still better than something you have to paid for,” Cordelia muttered.

“I for one,” Giles said from his spot behind the counter eating out of a container like the girls, “would not mind if you were to cook for us again, Xander.”

Xander gave them a coy smile as he takes a bite of his food. Who knew that the owner of the Double Meat Palace paired so well with the French style of cooking?

***

Xander weaved his way through the crowd, on his way to the bar. The Bronze was thickly crowded for a weeknight. Xander dismissed the thought as unimportant. He was a man on a mission. Today was the night Xander would charm the bartender into giving him a beer or a shot. Xander wasn’t picky; he’d take eighter.

It was going to happen.

Maybe?

Okay, no, it wouldn’t.

But Xander would have fun trying. He liked the confused look the male bartender gave him whenever they weren’t sure if Xander was flirting with them or not.

You shouldn’t tease the poor guys, Xander. Will said, softly.

It’s fun. Xander told him feeling Will’s frown. Wrong, yes. But fun. Let me have my fun, Will.

Watch it, loser!” Cordelia exclaimed after Xander had bumped into her causing her to spill her drink.

“Sorry, Cordy.”

“Why are you here?” She asked him.

“To dance and maybe get free booze.”

“Shouldn’t you be on patrol with Buffy?” Cordelia asked him.

“Yeah, on Saturday, why?” An odd look crossed Cordelia face as if she couldn’t believe what she just heard Xander say, “It’s Tuesday, Cordy.” Xander clarified.

Cordelia shook her head, “Today is Saturday.”

Xander frowned. That couldn’t be right, he thought. “Are you sure about that?”

“All day.”

Xander rubbed his eyes. Great now he was losing days instead of just hours. Where had the week gone? And what had he done during that time? “Right,” he muttered, leaving Cordelia to stare at his back as he walked away from her and continued to the bar. Xander needed that drink more than ever. Maybe going to the doctor would be a bad thing?

I told you, Will muttered.

Shut up! Do me a favor and help me remember what I did this week! Xander snarled.

You really don’t want to know, Will told him.

Of course, I want— Xander started but stopped when Will said,

Look! There’s Spike!

What? Where? Xander asked.

At the bar, Will said, where else would he be?

Spike was sitting at the bar with a row of shot glasses in front of him. Xander made his way over to Spike, when he got there, while the blonde was distracted by the bartender, plucked the shot glass from Spike’s fingers.

“Oi!” Spike snarled. Xander downed the shot of amber liquid that turned out to be whiskey, “Oh,” Spike’s expression was crestfallen from the loss of his drink, Xander assumed. “it’s you.”

“You sound so enthused to see me, Spike,” Xander said, enjoying the way the whiskey made him feel warm all over. “And here I thought you wanted me dead.”

Spike smirked, smarmy, “Haven’t wanted you dead for a while now, pet. You know that.”

Xander gave him a blank look and asked, “Since when?”

“Tuesday,” Spike paused, wrinkling nose up in thought “or maybe it was yesterday?”

“Of this week?”

Spike frowned at Xander in what might have been a concern if Xander didn’t know better. “You losing time again, pet?”

“Yes. Again? Why are you calling me pet?” Xander babbled out. “What happened this week?”

Spike raised an eyebrow, as he asked, “You don’t remember?” Spike motioned to the bartender, holding up four fingers.

“Would I be asking if I did?”

Spike hummed to himself, then shook his head, “I don’t think I should tell you.”

The bartender came over and placed four shots of whiskey in front Spike. The bartender only rolled his eyes when Spike winked at him. Xander snatched up on of the shots and down it, coughing a bit this time after. Spike did the same, only without the coughing. Then they in almost unison downed the last two shots.

Being pleasantly buzzed by the whiskey, Xander didn’t notice when Spike stood and grabbed him by the arm, it wasn’t until he dragged Xander towards the dance floor that Xander asked, “What? Why? Why is there touchage?”

“Well, you did say you came to here tonight for free booze and dancing,” Spike said. And Xander should be worried that the vampire had eavesdropped on him and Cordelia but wasn’t. “You got your booze, and I say you owe me a dance, now.”

“Skeezy, Spike, so skeezy.” Xander muttered.

Once on the dance floor, Spike turned to face Xander, “Hand on my shoulder, pet,” Spike said placing Xander hand on his shoulder, moving to hold Xander’s hand and grabbing Xander by the waist hauling him closer to Spike and causing Xander to squeak in surprise, as a slow, dark, sensual music began to play.

“I don’t…”

Spike sighed, “It’s simple, side to side, then back and forth. Now shut up and follow my lead.”

Xander could handle this; it was just a dance… With a vampire that wanted him dead a week ago. No problem. So long as nothing… Xander blinked when he saw,

 

 

I know you I walked with you once a upon a dream.

 

Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter pass by him and Spike, dancing in a perfect waltz, around them. Will was smiling at something Hannibal was whispering in his ear.

 

… weird happened. At least Xander’s hallucinations were having a good time.

 

I know you, that look in your eyes is so familiar a gleam.

 

“You sure know how to show a boy a good time, Harris.”

Xander could feel Spike’s back pressed against his own; his hand tightened around the wooden stake he held as minions that didn’t belong to Spike surrounded them.

“Seriously? Are you flirting with me? Right now?”

 

And I know it’s true that visions are seldom what they seem.

 

Spike leaned close, whispering in Xander’s ear, “You usually warn me when Will and Hannibal join us,” he said as the two passed them in their waltz around Xander and Spike. Xander took a misstep and stumble, Spike only pulling the dark-haired boy closer to him.

“You can see them?” Xander hissed. Spike only raised an eyebrow at him.

 

“You sound really concerned about that.”

Xander couldn’t see Spike looking down at him, but he could feel it. And he could hear, even if he couldn’t speak or move.

“Hannibal did say it was a mild one.”

 

But if I know you, I know what you’ll do.

 

“Well, this is bloody neat.” Spike said flatly, glaring at Xander, the boy surrounded by the piles of dust that had once been Spike’s minions, “Do you know how hard, good help is to find?”

Xander blinked and spun the stake around in his hand in a showy move.

 

You’ll love me at once, the way you did once a upon a dream.

 

Xander was shocked to feel lips against his own in a sharp, sweet kiss. He marveled at how soft Spike’s lips were against his own, at how well Spike could kiss, and for a moment Xander gives in returning the passion Spike was showing him before shoving the blonde away,

“What about Drusilla?” Xander asked, quietly.

 

…With you once a upon a dream. I know you, that look in your eyes is so familiar a gleam.

 

“So that’s it? You drop the body and walk away?” Xander asked. Spike dropped the body he had fed off of, twirling around, to see Xander. “How wasteful.”

“Not like I was going to turn the git,” Spike said, shrugging.

“Can I have it?”

 

And you know it’s true that visions are seldom what they seem.

 

Xander blinked, he was sitting in the corner of a warehouse, piles of dust surrounding him, the hand holding his wooden stake tightly, was shaking. At the sound of light treading footsteps, Xander looked up to see Spike, and asked, “What the hell is happening to me?”

 

But if I know you, I know what you’ll do—

 

Xander jerked his head up at the sudden silence; he was in his bedroom? His knees pulled up to his chest. He could feel sweat dripping down his temples, and his shirt was soaked, sticking to his back uncomfortably. Strong male arms surrounded him and pulled him against their chest as Xander chills shook his body making his very bones hurt.

Shush, Will whispered in his ear, everything will be alright.

“Why is this happening to him,” the tremble in Xander’s voice a reflection of his fear.

“Why?” Xander could see Hannibal lurking in the doorway of his room, seeming almost concerned.

You’ll be better now. Everything was done to make you more, Will said, carding his fingers through Xander’s sweaty hair. Xander only shook at the touch, not understanding.

Better Will? Hannibal asked, Or more like you?

More like us. Don’t you approve, Hannibal? Will asked.

Hannibal smiled, I always approve of your art, Will. He is a masterpiece — a beautiful reflection of you. But you should rethink letting the vampire become so close to Xander. He could remake the shattered reflection into something else of his design, rather than yours.

Xander can handle Spike, Will said.

Hannibal gazed at the sweating, shaking, barely awake boy, Be careful Will. The teacup you break may not come back together in the way you expect it might.

Will glared, I won’t be putting this cup back together. Xander will.

Xander glanced up at them—He was standing outside of the high school library, Xander pushed open the door and walked in.

Rupert Giles looked up when Xander Harris walked into the room. The boy had been the cause of some worry to the girls. The boy was sick and had been for some weeks now but refused to admit it. He frowned, Xander's eyes were bright but glazed, and he seemed to be in some dazed state, again. Xander was whispering to himself, no, Giles realized, Xander was talking to someone who wasn’t there!

“I know what I’m doing, Will!”

“Xander?” Willow asked at the sound of her name; she stood up from the computer she was doing some homework on and slowly walked over to Xander. He had frozen at the tone of her voice. She looked over at Giles as he causally made his way around the checkout counter of the library. Willow saw Cordelia hop down off the table she was sitting on and go over to Xander, slapping the palm of her hand on his forehead.

Cordelia frowned, “He had a fever, again. He feels hot, Giles.” Giles came over to Xander, Cordelia stepped back, and Giles repeated her action, as fearful expression came to came to Xander’s face as he jerked back,

“Why? And here? How did I get here?”

“You walked in, just a moment ago.” Giles to him, “don’t you remember?”

“No. The last thing I remember is…” Xander frowned, “seeing Cordelia at the Bronze.”

Cordelia expression turned concerned, as she softly, said, “That was Saturday, Xander. Today is Monday. What did you do yesterday?”

“I…don’t…know.”

“You don’t know?” Willow asked.

“No,” Xander murmured, “nothing new about that.” He then to Giles and the girls surprise rounded about snarling, at nothing, “Don’t lie to me, Will!

Willow was about to speak but was Giles shake his head at her. They watched as the image of a man began to fade in to view. Giles and the girls heard the man say,

“…Can help you, if you let them!”

“There is nothing wrong with me!” Xander shot back at the man.

“You know what is wrong with you!” Said the man

“I’m fine!”

“Your brain is on fire! You need help, Xander!”

“Don’t tell me what I need, Will Graham!”

It clicked for Giles just what was wrong with Xander, “Encephalitis,” he breathed out. He looked at the man that could only be Will Graham and wondered for a moment how a what was a hallucination of Xander’s be real? Then Giles remembered where they were, the Hellmouth, had was enough for an answer for Giles. “And he has it because you did. Xander’s been sick since Halloween.”

Will Graham gave Giles a curious look before he disappeared and Willow gave a panicked shout of Xander’s name. Xander’s eyes rolled back, and his body was shaking before he fell Willow was able to catch him enough that his head didn’t do the floor.

“Cordelia call an ambulance!” Giles shouted kneeling next to Willow.

“He is having a seizure,” a voice said, startling Giles, he looked up to see a blonde man in gaudy suit kneel next to them. “Because of his illness. We must get him to a hospital!

Cordelia handed her cell phone to Giles, “I’m going to go out and wait for the EMTs and show them how to get here.” Giles nodded and answered the question the 911 operator was asking him and Cordelia ran out of the library.

“We must loosen his clothes and turn him on his side,” the blonde man said.

“Will Xander be okay?” Willow asked as she helped him with Xander.

“I will make sure of it,” he said, “I promise. And I always keep my promises.”

“Thank you,” Willow breathed out shakily, “Dr. Lecter.”

Hannibal smiled back and disappeared just as the doors to the library burst open and Cordelia lead the EMTs into the library. Giles handed Cordelia back her phone, and the watched as they loaded Xander up on a stretcher, strapping him to it. They told Giles he would going to Sunnydale Memorial Hospital.

“Come on; I’ll drive,” Giles told the girls as they followed the EMTs out of the library.

Willow blinked, “Should we call Buffy?”

“Why bother?” Cordelia asked scornfully, “She’s on a date with Angel. It’s not like she’s going to drop everything and come to the hospital to see him.”

“Still…” Willow said. Cordelia sighed and handed her phone to Willow.

Xander will be okay, Willow thought. And purposefully didn’t give much thought as to why Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter-two fictional characters- had been seen by her and Giles.

Chapter Text

Spike watched from a shadowy corner of the hospital hallway; he was waiting for the cartoon gang to leave so he could see his boy. Spike sighed, wishing he could lite up a cigarette. If anyone had told him, he would be worried about Xander Harris, Spike would have laughed but not now. Somehow this kid had found a place in his heart that he had thought only had room for his princess. Spike had been worrying about this kid for weeks. The missing time, the fevers, and hallucinations were not good things for humans to have for a long time. Xander had them for almost a month. It upset him whenever Spike brought it up to Xander, who would insist that he was fine. When anyone with half a brain could see that Xander wasn’t…okay. Xander’s friends certainly hadn’t. Spike quickly realized how self-involved they really are (and maybe they tried to help but couldn’t forced Xander to do anything he didn’t want too,) because they hadn’t seen past themselves.

Enough was enough, Spike thought. The only reason he wasn’t going to kill them was because that it would upset Xander. Not that Spike thought anyone would miss the waste of space that was the cartoon gang. There would be no more of that, not on Spike’s watch. He had promised his princess that their kitten would be alright. Spike’s not a liar, so he would watch over the boy and make sure Xander got better.

And after that?

Spike and his princess planned a vampiric courtship of the likes which hadn’t been seen since Dracula courted Jonathan and Mina Harker.

***

The Night After Halloween.

 

 

“Find me every bit of information about that boy who runs with the Slayer!” Spike shouted at the minions. The group of minions stared at him stupidly, “Did I mumble?! No? Go!”

Slowly the minions walked out of the room grumbling among themselves. He nor Drusilla had made any of them. They had to make do with the child vampire’s leftover minions. Spike walked over to the bed and collapsed down on it with a tired sigh. Burying his face into the pillow. Drusilla cuddled close to him,

“Someone came and changed it all,” Drusilla whispered in Spike’s ear, “the nasty slayer-girl was weak. You missed the predator in the kitten’s fur. The wolf will bite, the stag will gore. And you, my wicked one, you will get caught in the hyena’s jaws.”

Spike was sprawled face down on the bed trying to ignore her words. He had gone after the slayer; she should have been easy prey. Dru had told him she would be, but the boy had was a surprise, Spike had seen darkness in the boy’s eyes that rivaled that in his princess. Humans rarely had such darkness in them and remained sane, not unless they cultivated it, nurtured it into something lovely. Spike admitted to himself that he is attracted to that sort of darkness, any demon would be when it came in such a pretty package of dark hair and soulful brown eyes.

Spike turned his head to look at Drusilla, when she murmured, “The little one is cross with you.” Spike sighed, the Annoying One, there was a reason why making a vampire younger the age of sixteen was taboo. Vampires had little impulse control as it was and children had even less. Putting the two together was just a time bomb waiting to explode.

“That brat is always cross about something, luv.”

“My poor Spike,” Drusilla cooed, running her fingers through his hair. Spike leaned up into her touch, “Change is coming to the mouth of hell,” she paused, taking him by the chin forcing him to look at her, “are you ready for it?”

“Change always comes. We might get bashed about when it does but we will whether it the way we always do.” Spike said, sitting up, and taking Drusilla by the arms and guiding her down onto the bed, “Rest,” he told her, “I’ll take care of the brat. I was never good at taking orders, was I, Princess?”

Drusilla smiled fondly at him, “No, my dear, you aren’t. It’s what I like about you the most. The way chaos follows in your wake.”

Spike grinned at her, and he rolled off the bed onto his feet and left the room. Killing the annoying vampire child was far too easy. So much for the prophecy, he was to bring about.

***

The next night Spike growled at the minions that cowered before him. Not one of them had brought him any information he could use.

“Master Spike,” Dalton said, timidly.

Spike looked at him; he was one of the few minions Spike had traveled here to Sunnydale before him and Dru to get things set up for them. He was also one of the few that had half a brain, “What?”

“The boy’s name is Xander Harris,” Dalton told him. He pulled a paperback book from his jacket pocket, “On Halloween, the kid was possessed by a character from this book. I don’t know which one.”

Spike took the book from Dalton and waved him away, Dalton left. It was by an author that Spike had read in passing he just hadn’t read this one. He walked over to the armchair that was in the room. He glanced at the title, The Red Dragon, as he settled down into the chair, “Let’s see if I can figure out who you went as, Xander Harris.”

Spike opened the book and began to read. When he finished the book a few hours later, he was sure he knew which character Xander Harris had been that night. There were two main choices, Jack Crawford or Will Graham. Spike was leaning towards Will Graham, mostly because he had been the more interesting of the two. Will Graham had underlining darkness to his character, from all the serial killers in his head. Spike wondered if this was who Xander Harris had gone as? If the boy had those memories, those killers in his head? Spike wondered what sort of darkness would grow in such fertile ground.

***

“Such lovely darkness is in our Kitten’s head, my Spike.” Drusilla said, “But such pain as well.”

Spike sighed in relief when he saw his Sire, two nights later. She had taken to wandering the town without minions to guard her. If Drusilla were at full health, Spike wouldn’t worry so, but ever since she had been attacked by that mob in Prague that had almost killed both of them, Drusilla’s health had been failing. “Princess! You know you are not supposed to go out alone. The Hellmouth is a dangerous place. You’ve been ill, luv.”

Drusilla frowned at him. “He knows my pain as if it was his own, Spike.”

“Who, pet?”

“Our Kitten.”

Harris was the only one she referred to like that, Spike knew, though murmured, “Does he now?”

Drusilla nodded as a sheen of tears covered her eyes. Spike took her in his arms. “He said he was sorry, Spike. No one has ever been sorry about what He did to me but Kitten is.”

“That just means he’s special, our Kitten,” Spike told her.

“He is a creature of air and darkness,” Drusilla muttered, “the fire in his head is starting to burn. The wolf and stag will shatter him,” she shook her head sadly, “you must protect the pieces that survive, Spike.”

“We will make him ours, Princess, I promise you.”

Drusilla gave him a frim look, “Do not be fool by the Kitten’s pretty soft fur. It hides the jaws of a beast within, and once clamped down on you; he will not let you go.”

Spike felt a cold chill run down his spine at her words.

***

Four days later, Spike walked into the warehouse after a hunt for the night. He had a nice chase an overly helpful police officer had met their end in an alley behind the Double Meat Palace. Now that his hunger was sated all, Spike wanted was a hard drink and a cuddle with his girl.

Spike could hear Drusilla laughing; he walked into the room to see her whirling around arms out wide, while Harris staked the minion that had attacked him. The smarter ones were staying well away from the stake-wielding human boy. Once the minion had fallen into a pile of dust at Harris’s feet, Drusilla clapped as a little girl would have, and Harris bowed at the waist to her.

“Well, this is bloody neat.” Spike said flatly, glaring at Xander, the boy surrounded by the piles of dust that had once been Spike’s minions, “Do you know how hard, good help is to find?”

Xander blinked and spun the stake around in his hand in a showy move. Xander turned and gave Spike a slow, wicked grin, then looked to his left and said,

“You’re right, Will, he can make more.” An afterimage of a man with dark curly hair and blue eye flicked in and out of focus like the flame of a candle next to Harris.

Will? Spike wondered, As in Will Graham?

The image solidified for a moment, and Drusilla skipped over to it. “Come Lurewolf, you and I shall have tea and cakes while my wicked one and the kitten speak.”

Will Graham frowned at her but nodded, holding out an arm. Drusilla placed her hand on it like a princess of old would have done, and Will lead her from the room. Spike turned to see Harris flop down into the armchair.

“I need a drink,” the boy muttered, running a hand over his face.

Spike raised an eyebrow at him. Harris glanced up and smirked at Spike. Spike flashed his fangs at him in response and Harris smirk turned into a grin. Spike walked over to a compact cabinet, where he kept a few bottles of whiskey and got one as well as a couple of tumbler glasses, he put them on top of the cabinet. He opened the bottle and poured some in the glasses, he replaced the cap on the bottle setting it on top of the cabinet. Spike took the glasses; he walked over to Harris, he held one out to him. Harris took the tumbler from Spike. Spike sat down in the other armchair across from Harris.

Harris brought the glass up to his nose and inhale deeply, before taking a sip of the whiskey. “He won’t hurt her, you know.”

“What?”

“Will Graham. He won’t hurt Drusilla.”

“How do you know that?” Spike asked.

“He’s my hallucination,” Harris told him.

“So, you can control him?”

Harris made a negative sound, “Not so much. Will Graham has no reason to hurt her though. Because I have no reason too.”

Spike sighed, tossing half of the whiskey in his glass back in a single sip, before asking, “What happens now?”

“What do you mean?”

“You didn’t come here to kill my minions for no reason, did you, Harris?”

Harris frowned, “Did I need a reason? You are a vampire trying to gain control of the Hellmouth and want Buffy dead? Seemed like a good enough reason for me.”

Spike was unimpressed with this answer. “That’s why?”

“No,” Harris said as if he thought Spike was thickheaded on purpose, “your princess thought we should meet. She thinks we might become friends.”

“I don’t find you that interesting, pet,” Spike said, shortly.

Harris at Spike words froze, the tumbler almost to his lips, he glances over his shoulder, and Spike saw the image of a blonde hair man, wearing a garish red and green plaid well-tailored suit, slightly older than Will Graham, wink in and out of focus, “Felt like that, did it, Hannibal?”

Hannibal Lecter only cocked his head as he stared at Spike before fading out of view.

Harris returned his attention to Spike, smirking, “Don’t worry, I’m sure you will.”

“Don’t count on it, pet,” Spike said, toasting Harris with his glass.

 

Chapter Text

Some shady shit was going down at the Double Meat Palace. It is something that everyone one in the Underground knew. When humans and half-breeds disappeared utterly, not vamped or their bodies not found in some way, the fast food place would get a new meat delivery like-clock work. It didn't take a genius to figure out what was happening. Spike wouldn't have involved himself with such a booming business for this little town. But Harris was seen hanging around the fast food place for the last few days, by the minions, Spike had watched over him.

Spike wondered; what Harris would do when he figured out what was going on in the little restaurant? Spike slipped inside the building, the door that Harris had used to enter had not been relocked. Careless, Spike thought. Spike could hear the sounds of flesh hitting flesh and a cry of pain. Spike turned a corner, the sight that met his eyes brought a grin to Spike’s face.

Harris loomed over the owner of the restaurant who is a small pudgy man, a sharp dagger in his hand. Harris twisted the blade with a smooth motion of his wrist and just for a second the reflection in the slivery-metal wasn’t that of the boy’s, but of a man with dark, long curly hair, and cold ocean colored eyes. Harris turned the knife, slashing the restaurant owner’s face, his chubby cheek bursting open, gushing blood and adipose tissue.

"…not alone," Harris paused, rolling his shoulders before continuing, "You know, if you had been doing this for, say the culinary experience, I could forgive you for it. I’m still going to kill you, but I could forgive it. I love a good meal, but," Harris sighed, "you are doing this for the money. You're being paid to make the bodies of other killers disappear rather than letting them dispose of their own messes themselves. That's just lazy on their part."

“Please…” begged the pudgy man, tear running down his face, for his life.

Spike is a bit shocked at the turn in attitude of the slayer’s boy. Though it was a pleasant one, to say the least. Perhaps there was something to Dru’s ramblings about this boy that Spike should be paying more attention too. Because Harris threating this human with a knife, with this sort of confidence was very…attractive.

“I wonder how many for those who were still alive when they were brought here begged just like you are, right now? How many of them asked you to spare them?” Harris asked, stabbing the knife into the other man’s shoulder, causing the smaller man to howl in pain.

"Please, I didn't kill them! They were already dead! They were!" the pudgy man cried.

Harris nodded as if he believed the man, “You only made it easier for them to become meat for the masses.” He yanked the blade from the man’s shoulder, causing the smaller man to cry out again. Blood ran more freely from the wound, soaking the man’s shirt, and dripping to the floor.

The pudgy man grimaced in pain, as he hissed, “I honored them when others would have wasted them!”

Harris nodded, "I wonder how many humans have gotten away with murder, and would have gotten away with more because of you and this place?" He lowered the knife, placing the tip against the man's chest drawing it down until it rests just below the man's heart and—

“Careful, there, Harris,” Spike called out, making the boy freeze, as he walked farther into the room, “you shove that dagger there? And he’ll bleed out too soon. You won’t have time to really torture him.”

Harris turned to look at him. He twisted the blade away from his victim, and held it by the blade out to Spike, “Show me?” He asked coyly, glancing at Spike almost flirtishly.

Spike grinned widely, strolling over to the teen and took the knife from Harris' hand, "The best thing is to cut into the chest, in shallow strokes rather than stab through it. You want to avoid damage to the major organs until you are ready to remove them or to end it. The skin is the most sensitive, so small cuts can cause the most effective means of pain…"

Later once the restaurant owner was dead, Spike watched as Harris butchered the man up like one does so to a pig, he watched as the boy put several cuts of the man's meat into a small blue cooler before placing the rest into the walking refrigerator of the restaurant.

“What are you going to do with this?” Spike asked.

"Waste not. Want not." Harris murmured as he closed the walk-in cooler door and picked up the smaller cooler. Spike blinked, dumbfounded. He wouldn't have thought Harris to be the type. Tonight had been very revealing about many things, he hadn’t thought Harris was, so there is that. Harris must have seen something in his expression because he said suddenly, “Hannibal is teaching me how to cook.”

Harris walked past Spike to the back door of the fast-food place, Spike followed after him. Outside, Spike watched as Harris displayed the rest of the pudgy fast-food owner in front of the building. While Spike was dousing the building with gasoline. When Spike was done, Harris dropped a lit match, and they watched as the building slowly at first, caught fire.

Spike turned to comment on the how the flames were looking…Harris was gone. It was then that Spike realized that Harris maybe is more dangerous than he first thought. And that the boy was becoming far more—

“Intriguing.” The longer Spike got to know Harris.

***

A couple of nights later, Spike was feeding on a pretty blonde boy had lured away from a nearby coffee shop, when he got the feeling that he was being watched. Because the fresh blood he just consumed was all he could smell, he dropped the corpse of the guy, not noticing when it hit the ground. Spinning around as a voice said from the shadows,

"That's all you do? Drop the body and walk away? How wasteful," Harris said, sounding intrigued, as he stepped into the light of the streetlamp that was at the mouth of the alleyway.

"Well, I wasn't going to turn the stupid boy did follow me into a dark alley. Would have made a dumb minion and I have enough of those as it is." Spike told him.

“Can I have him?”

Spike tilted his head at the question, “What the bloody hell are you going to do with it?” Though Spike had a good idea.

Harris shrugged, “Cooking practice,” Harris gave him a sly look, “My hallucinations and I would like to have you for dinner, Spike.”

Spike snorted, “To dinner or as dinner, pet?”

A thoughtful look crossed Harris' face, "I suppose vampire meat would have a heavy coppery taste to it but would be packed full of iron. The meat would already be aged too."

Spike's eyes widened; He hadn't thought Harris would take him seriously!

"And a vampire would have to be alive when the cuts of meat were taken from it." Harris turned his head to the left, "and since you like the organ meats the best, Hannibal, it would be impossible to take the heart of a vamp without dusting the heart."

"Not…impossible," Spike murmured. The boy continued to surprise him. Harris looked at him with a curious expression on his face, "Difficult, yes, but not impossible." Spike reared back when the older blonde man wearing a brown sweater and well-tailored tan colored pants, faded into view.

“Show me!” Hannibal demanded.

Harris clicked his tongue, “Rude, Hannibal,” chiding the older man, softly.

Hannibal blinked slowly, “Ah, so it was, forgive me, Master Spike.” Spike was a bit taken back by the address, but it wasn’t wrong. Ever since he had killed the Annoying One, Spike was in charge of the Hellmouth, he was the master of it. “I love to learn new things; my eagerness got the best of me.”

"I'm not sure that I should teach the most iconic serial killer in fictional literature how to take the heart of a vampire," Spike said, "seems like that would come back to bite me."

Hannibal smirked, his expression cold, “Only if you ask me nicely too.”

Hannibal,” Harris said, a dark warning in his tone, “You are going to make Will Graham jealous if you keep flirting like that.”

“One could only hope,” Hannibal said, a slight smile gracing his lips.

Harris shook his head at the older man, then looked back at Spike with an eager expression, “Well? Are you going to show me how to take a vampire’s heart or not?”

I don’t think you need to be shown how to do that. You might already know how, Spike thought, but said, "I have a minion or two I could sacrifice to the cause."

***

A week later, Spike walked into the bedroom he shared with Dru to see Harris with his head in Dru's lap, and not in a sexy way. Which, while disappointing, it would have been too soon in this…relationship? For Spike to share his princess with Harris. Though the idea had appeal and he knew Drusilla was all for making her Kitten theirs. The boy was flush, and shivering, even with the blanket Dru must have wrapped him in. His eyes were fever bright, and glazed unseeing, though he would mutter to himself as Dru ran her fingers through Harris' sweat-soaked hair.

"I found our dear Kitten dream-walking in the park. Weaponless. He didn't know where he was, my Spike!" Dru fright was apparent in her voice, "nor who he was! He thought he was the Lure wolf and was looking for the Raven stag."

Spike walked over to the bed and sat down. He reached over and put a hand to the boy’s forehead, Harris twisted away from his touch with a muttered, “Too cold!” How did a human survive running that hot? Could they? It had been so long since Spike was human he couldn’t remember.

“What do we do, my light?” Dru asked.

Spike sighed, “We get a doctor.”

An hour later a doctor that the minions dragged in was able to get Harris' fever down, some but told Spike that the boy needed to go to the hospital for more treatment than he could give him here. After the doctor left, alive, Spike wasn't sure what he should do. Harris was sleeping peacefully, though Spike didn’t know how long that would last.

“It’s just a fever,” Will Graham said, appearing on the bed next to Harris, "I got one similar to it, and I was fine. Xander will be fine."

"And if he gets worse?" Spike asked, eyes narrowing at the other man, "If he gets that illness you had?"

Will Graham pursed his lips in a pout, “It's unlikely, but Hannibal and I will convince Xander to go to the hospital."

And how are you going to do that?” Spike asked, “You are a bloody hallucination! You aren’t real!” Spike stopped, cocking his head, “Eh? Question? How can I see you anyway?”

"Why do any of the weird things happen on the Hellmouth, Spike?" Will asked in return. “Hannibal and I are, as Xander likes to say, a side effect of the possession that happened on Halloween. It’s the best answer that Xander has come up with at the moment.” Will fell silent when Harris began to stir, then began to fade away.

“Where…who…” Harris mumbled.

Hannibal faded in standing by the bed, “Your name is Xander Harris. You’re in Spike’s warehouse in Sunnydale. The time is four a.m."

Spike nodded, respectfully at Hannibal. He would never admit it, but the older gentleman scared Spike worse than Angelus ever did. Though he would pay good money to see that showdown. To Harris, he said, "How are you feeling, pet?"

“Cold and…hungry,” Harris muttered with a shiver.

“I’ll send a minion to get you some grub,” Spike said, then he left the room but before he was out of hearing Xander ask Hannibal,

“How the hell did I end up in Spike’s bed?”