Summary: In one life, perhaps, Uncle Barton would have been kind and smiled and pretended as if he wasn't the reason William's parents had died. In this one, there is nothing to stop memories and when there's no ambition, there was nothing for him.

Except, perhaps, the demons.

Notes: This is mostly inspired by two things. The first is Tobias Hankel. Tobias is a fictional character from the American show "Criminal Minds". In the show, Tobias is a serial killer with three personalities as a result of his father's heavy abuse. This fic is only, mildly, very mildly inspired by him. The inspiration only comes from the idea of abuse on religious grounds. The second inspiration is the anime/manga "Nabari No Ou". The main character of nno is known to be very motivationless. This is somewhat carried over to William.

The Nightmares That Feel So Real

William was barely seven when his parents died. He was barely seven when he watched them bleed out before him. He was barely seven when, infinitesimally, Kevin changed. But none of that was the point. The point was that trauma changed people, they said. William didn't think that it was the violent death of his parents that caused the change, but that, too, was beside the point.

William wasn't sure why, ten years later, he was thinking on that while everyone else payed attention to mass. He didn't particularly care for religion, or much of anything at all. He was intelligent, he got good grades - hell he was almost top of his class. But, now, none of it mattered in face of the quickly coming holidays.

The rest of classes blurred and fogged around the edges of his awareness. His hands shook, very very slightly, as the train steadily approached the place he called home. Not for the first time, he wished that he wouldn't find his Uncle at home, with a glass of some spirit in hand.

Somehow, he found his wish granted. Of course, there was the problem that the Twinings now had no money and Kevin was the only one left to care for him. But the bigger problem might have been that his worry was overshadowed by the relief of not finding Uncle Barton drunk again.

In a half-desperate, half-dazed wander, William found himself lying on across the floor as lines and script glowed around him. For a moment, fear drove a needle through his heart and Uncle's angry, pious words furiously pounded in his ears. The fear faded just as quickly though, as the odd man leaned over him.

His brows furrowed and William's eyes caught on the pointy ears and sharp teeth. This strange man calmed him, and the fuzzy feeling of boredom and why should I care that had nestled itself in his chest lifted for the first time in far too many years.

"Who are you?" William asked, quiet and somewhat annoyed. The man - who really didn't seem much older than him - through himself back up again and said:

"My name is Dantalion. I am the Duke that commands the 36th army of hell. And you will choose me to succeed the throne in the demon world."

William blinked at the man - demon - Dantalion. He looked so proud of himself, and it was almost hilarious from where he still lay on the floor. He pulled his hand up to look at where it still dripped blood and wondered about Kevin. Had he heard William crash through the door or Dantalion yelling?

"Why would I do that?" he murmured instead, watching the blood on his hand slide down his wrist. William would have thought that it would bother him, but it hadn't. The demon had knelt at his side, he noticed when he looked back up. There was haunted look in his eye, and William wondered if he had seen Dantalion somewhere.

"I'm not surprised you're so alike, Solomon's soul." Dantalion carefully wrapped a hand around William's wrist to softly dab at the small cut on his wrist with the hem of his cloak. He muttered, "What am I going to do with you?"

Pulling away, William stood and let the bees back into his head, the buzzing soft and almost pleasant. "Let me be," he suggested, heading back toward the shattered doorway. He plucked a wooden splinter from his palm and said, over his shoulder, "Demons don't exist and you're trespassing on private property." William wouldn't admit that any venom he tried to push into his voice wavered and just made him sound tired.

He left the hidden room - and the demon - behind.

The night before he returned to Stratford - and all the nights before - William found himself staring at the ceiling and thinking of red eyes, instead of sleeping. Aristocratic features danced across his eyelids, unbidden and unwanted. For a fraction of a moment, he imagined what it would be like if he let himself believe the demon's words. But believing would be succumbing to the words beaten into him, and that would always be the one thing William could not let himself fall to.

With heavy and conflicting thoughts bouncing around his head, William turned to his left side and drifted off.

He dreamt of angels with six, golden wings, herbal teas, and a room filled with more than enough books to fill three libraries. At some point there was man with blonde hair and narrow eyes; somewhere floated visions of a different world where he was clueless and he denied everything in the name of science.

(And don't get him wrong, he was very much still a man of science but his Uncle's reminders floated in his head often enough to keep him wondering.)

William woke up, disjointed and agitated, and left for the train quickly. The tuition he had worried over was paid, and the demon from before shows up in his class. Dantalion Huber, he had called himself and grinned when William was assigned to show him around. "I'm not going away until you choose me, Elector," Dantalion said lowly, as they walked down the hall.

"I don't believe in that type of thing."

"I don't believe that."

William hummed and left Dantalion in the hands of the athletes. He continues in that way, bored and mildly amused at Dantalions attempts to convince William to select him. He found himself caught up in unwanted adventures, and the dreams - that aren't dreams, he knows, because they were memories and he remembers, he remembers - marched through his nights with uncomfortable predictability.

He was in his room when Isaac burst in, a pale haired underclassman trailing in behind him. "Sytri," William said and it barely startled him anymore, to remember those things. Sytri looked at him, eyes a little wide, and fished another biscuit. "I don't particularly feel like it, tonight. Maybe tomorrow." He walked out of the room, down the halls, and the fuzzy feeling grew until he couldn't remember who he really was. William found himself sitting in a tree with no clue how he got there or how long it had been.

"William?" Dantalion called up to him. He looked down, and pushed slightly with his toe at a branch below him.

"Welcome home, Dantalion."

"Come down here, William. Are you okay?" There was worry in his voice, but as William slid down between the tree limbs. William dragged his fingers along Dantalion's high cheekbones. He pushed his lips against the skin beneath Dantalion's eye. "What are you doing?"

"Will you kill me when it's time?" William asked, softly. Dantalion loosely wrapped his hand around his wrist.

William cried for the first time since the crash.

(He almost wished it was a dream just so he could pretend that he wouldn't fuck this up too.)