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Heart-Shaped Box

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"She eyes me like a Pisces when I am weak.

I've been locked inside your heart-shaped box for weeks.

I've been drawn into your magnet tar pit trap.

I wish I could eat your cancer when you turn black."

- Heart-Shaped Box, Nirvana


The house was in a pleasant suburb, with manicured green lawns and rows upon rows of identical houses, stretching on and on into what once was a proud forest. The house was two stories, white vinyl with dark shingle roof and cherry red shutters. There was a minivan in the driveway, and the FBI had taped it all off.


The neighbors had come around, crowding with the media to get a glimpse of the nightmare inside. The sky above was gray, hinting at rain. Agents mulled around, waiting for something.


Something came in the form of a standard black SUV.


First out was Jack Crawford, as stern as he always was during these sorts of things. Price, Katz, and Zeller were already approaching the line, eager to tell about their discoveries inside, but Crawford held them off with a single hand. He opened up the back door to the SUV, and the world shifted its focus as Will Graham stepped out into the light.


At once, he was what everyone craved – youth in his slender limbs, bright sunlight in his chocolate curls, and the wild blue yonder in his eyes. He was beautiful temptation in the form of a young man who tried to hide himself under frumpy jackets and flannel shirts and unflattering glasses, but there was no denying what he was.


A short, awkward smile to the forensic team, familiar with Will's affects, and he was ducking under the police line and ignoring the gawking of the officers. Their desires leaked into him, images of himself on his back and on his knees, pliant and open mouthed, filled his brain, and he let out the tiniest sigh of distress.


With a glare, Crawford sent the agents scuttling as far as possible from Will. He stood at the door to the house, left wide open into the darkened rooms, and waited patiently for Crawford.


"This is the third demonic case we've had in the past three months," Crawford explained. "All similar, involving the murders of families."


"All-American families," Will corrected. He stepped into the house, and the cloying blanket of murder drove out the lingering aftertaste of the agents' fantasies. "One father, one mother, with two children – boy and girl, little. White bread. Wholesome."


He stopped in the middle of the hallway, to look at the family photographs on the wall.


"He was cheating with the babysitter," he declared, as sure as rain. "And she was sleeping with every man in the neighborhood in revenge."


Finally, he stepped into the living room to take in the macabre tableau there.


The family was carefully arranged around the television, which was playing static. They were dressed pristine clothes straight from the 1950s, and there were human bite marks all along the wife's arms. Long stemmed white candles were placed carefully, strange marks carved into the hardwood.


All their heads had been replaced with elk skulls, strung with cedar boughs.


Will crouched down before them, tilting his head.


"The bite marks are not part of the ritual," he said. "He cannot help himself with those. As for the rest..."


Slowly, Will's mind turned away from the sexual fantasies of the agents and the grotesque curiosity of the rubberneckers outside, to the thoughts of the man who sunk his teeth into the flesh of Maria Oswald.


Jumbled, split between two extremes – the extreme that needed to bite and rend like a wild dog, and the extreme that no doubt stalked this family for weeks, meticulously planning this scene. In part, it was pure mockery, but there was that edge of smoke that Will knew so well...


"Agent Crawford, the specialist is here. He wants to see the scene as pristine as possible..."


"Can he wait another couple of minutes...?"


Will was violently jerked away from the tableau and dumped back into his mind, like crude oil had been spilled down his back. It spread out, becoming thicker and thicker as the click-click of dress shoes came closer and closer. Will shrunk in on himself, becoming as small as possible, before he dared to turn and look at the doorway.


There stood a man in a fine suit – no, Will's mind screamed, not a man, not a man. Demon.


His human suit was as meticulous as the one of cloth, carefully maintained to look cordial and friendly. But Will knew better than that. His skin crawled, his heart raced, his mouth went dry.


"He should not be here," he said urgently to Crawford. "I can't...I can't think while he's here."


"Will, this is Doctor Hannibal Lecter," Crawford said, as if Will hadn't said anything. "Doctor Lecter, this is Will Graham, a teacher at Quantico and a...specialized consultant."


"Hello," Lecter said, and his dark maroon eyes were fixed on Will.


"H-hi," Will said, and he looked pleadingly at Crawford.


"Doctor Lecter is a specialist in this sort of thing," Crawford promised. "I hope that both your combined insights can crack this case."


Will took a deep breath, resolute to ignore Lecter and do his job.


"The killer has a definite plan," Will said. "But there is a part of him that's very...disorganized, impulsive. That's why he bit Maria Oswald, he couldn't help himself."


Lecter stared in delighted interest, and it was oil dripping down his spine.


"He wants to mock them in death," Will continued. "That's why he sets them up like this. I can't...I can't tell if it's part of the ritual or not."


"This is Lebanon cedar," Lecter said. His accent was cultured, European. Strange. "Which holds significance in the Bible. The Egyptians used its resin in mummification, and Gilgamesh walks into a grove of cedar trees to dwell amongst the gods. Perhaps he seeks communication with a higher power? Or a lower one."


The wry edge of humor was lost on Crawford, who grinds his teeth.


"So he'll probably keep killing until he speaks to whoever he's trying to contact," Crawford said. "Who's probably even worse than he is."


"He'll become more and more unstable as he goes," Will said. "This sort of disconnect only gets aggravated with each kill."


He is careful not to meet Lecter's curious stare.


"I have a lecture," he said, apologetically. "It was nice meeting you, Doctor..."


As quickly as possible, he escaped the dark house and the eyes that watched him leave.




Will was born an incubus, one of a long line on his mother's side.


He had grown used to the lecherous thoughts caused by his very presence, and was immensely ethical about his own hungers – consenting men only, never drained dry. He also stopped having sex with people more than twice after Matthew nearly went crazy in his obsession with him.


Will's empathy, evolved to tell what his victims wanted most, was a coveted tool. An ethical incubus was a rare treasure. An ethical demon, creatures of smoke and shadow, must be even rarer.


Hannibal Lecter sat next to him in Crawford's office, momentarily alone. His curiosity had not abated in a week.


"It must be difficult," Lecter began, "To control your hungers. I assume your victims survive their nights with you."


"They're not victims," Will snapped. "Every person I've ever slept with has known exactly what I am. I have never drained anyone."


"And you gave them the best night of their little lives in exchange?" Lecter laughed. Will did not flush, used to every jeer and catcall.


"Yes," Will replied. "I give them everything and leave them begging for more."


He tilted his head. "And what of you, Doctor? The indulgences of a demon are far greater than my own."


"Have you not heard of redemption, dear Will?" Lecter asked. "I'm as ethical as you."


Will narrowed his eyes, planning his rebuttal, when Crawford returned to the room.


"Three families of four, slaughtered on the night of the full moon, and left with deer skulls instead of heads," Crawford sighed.


"He might be using the heads in further rituals," Lecter said.


"Or trophies," Will said. "It's's not purely ritualistic to him. He takes pleasure in this."


"You're telling me there's a sadistic psychopath out there who also wants to commune with a demonic force," Crawford said, more to sort out his own thoughts.


The back-and-forth went on for a while, pitching potential profile ideas and refine Will's vision. It was almost enough for him to forget the oil slick filling his lungs as he stayed in Lecter's presence.


Will was the first to slip out, dashing to avoid Lecter, but that proved futile with a strong hand on his shoulder.


"I would be honored, if you would join me for dinner one night," Lecter asked. "I have been told I am an excellent chef, and I found our discussion most...interesting."


"Thank you for the offer, Doctor," Will said. "I'll see when I have time."


Will returned home, fed Winston, and tidied up a bit before the gnawing in his belly made him strip out of his frumpy flannel and into something more revealing. Hunting clothes.


He took a taxi to his favorite club for this sort of thing, full of pounding noise and people wanting to forget themselves. It took a single undulation of his hips to get some company.


Tall, dark, and handsome nearly engulfed him, eager in his grinding. Will laughed, and it was the sweetest of music to him.


"Hi there," Will murmured, and he heard his voice perfectly over the throbbing music.


"You're're a..." he stumbled, as if he couldn't believe his luck. Will smiled, and murmured the words that had never failed him:


"Why don't you take me home?"


The car ride to the man's house was spent with his grip white knuckle on the wheel while Will teased his hand up and down his thigh. Will cared not for what the man's house was like, not when his mouth was hot and demanding on his neck.


They almost didn't make it to the bedroom, and they were wonderfully naked when Will straddled the man on the bed.


"You're perfect," he breathed, and Will smiled down at him before he started to feed.


The sex act was pleasurable to him, but secondary to the golden feeling rushing through his blood and warming his bones. The man beneath him was practically screaming in ecstasy while Will felt himself beginning to glow from within, the gnawing hunger abating for just a moment.


Afterwards, Will was loose limbed and heavy. He let the man press little kisses on to his shoulders and spoon up behind him. Will dozed, until the man's breath evened out. Will pressed a soft kiss to his dark hair and then to his proud nose before he slipped out of bed.


He gathered up his clothes, and he took his leave into the night without a note. It was for the better – Matthew had tried to set a hospital on fire in his honor, after all.